And King Solomon loved many foreign women along with the daughter of Pharaoh; including Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians, Hittites— Bible see other translations

“loved.” The word “loved” in this verse is not the true love between a devoted husband and wife, but rather “love” has the meaning “paid attention to.” Solomon paid attention to his pagan wives and listened to their requests.

“Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians, Hittites.” This list of pagan nations in 1 Kings 11:1 is not a complete list, but a sample list of some of the pagan nations. It is the figure of speech asyndeton, or “no ands.” In normal grammar, when a list occurs, an “and” is placed in front of the last item in the list. For example, we might say, “I am going to the store to buy milk, butter, bread, and eggs.” The “and” before “eggs” is normal grammar in most languages. However, normal grammar is modified to good effect in the figures of speech polysyndeton and asyndeton. The figure polysyndeton places an “and” between each item in the list and by that literary device emphasizes each thing in the list, and makes each item a thing to notice and ponder. Thus, when Jesus says to love God “with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength,” he is specifically emphasizing each point in the list.

In contrast to polysyndeton and normal grammar, the figure asyndeton does not have an “and” in the list, not even the standard “and” between the last two items of the list. By doing that, the figure asyndeton does not place specific emphasis on any item on the list, but rather places the emphasis on the conclusion that will be drawn. The reader is to read through the list and notice what is there, but move on to the conclusion, which is where the asyndeton is leading and which is what God wants emphasized. Here in 1 Kings 11:1, God does not want the reader to focus on any particulars about the pagan nations, but rather to emphasize the conclusion, which is that God told the Israelites not to marry women from these pagan nations—a command that Solomon was simply ignoring.

Furthermore, in the figure asyndeton, the list is not complete—there are other things that could have been on it. For example, when God uses the figure asyndeton to list the fruit of the spirit in Galatians 5:22-23, the asyndeton tells us that there are fruit that are not on the list (humility is a good example). Here in 1 Kings 11:1, there were lots of pagan nations that were not on the list, which is obvious from the fact that if Solomon had 700 wives of royal birth, they did not all come from just five pagan nations; many more pagan nations contributed wives than just those five.

When studying asyndeton and polysyndeton, it is important to read the lists in the original Hebrew or Greek. It often occurs that translators “correct” the lists so that they fit the standards of correct grammar and for ease of reading, but that “correction” removes God’s emphasis from the text. Other examples of asyndeton in Scripture are Mark 7:21-23; Luke 14:13-14; 17:28-30; 1 Corinthians 3:12-13; and 2 Timothy 3:10-11. Examples of polysyndeton (when an “and” separates each item in a list and emphasized each one) include, Genesis 8:22; Joshua 7:24; 2 Kings 5:26; Haggai 1:11; Luke 14:21; 1 Corinthians 1:30; Ephesians 4:31; Revelation 6:15. For more on the figures asyndeton and polysyndeton, as well as other figures of emphasis, see Bullinger.a

E. W. Bullinger, Figures of Speech Used in the Bible, 137, 208.

Commentary for: 1 Kings 11:1