1 Kings Chapter 11  PDF  MSWord

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Go to Bible: 1 Kings 11
1Ki 11:1

“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.
1Ki 11:2(top)
1Ki 11:3(top)
1Ki 11:4

“when Solomon was old.” The Bible does not tell us how old Solomon was, but no doubt his turning away from Yahweh to the worship of pagan gods was a process. God warns us that “Bad company corrupts good morals” (1 Cor. 15:33) but it is not an overnight process, it takes time. Over the years, Solomon’s pagan wives turned him away from Yahweh, which will have serious consequences on Judgment Day.

1Ki 11:5

“Milcom.” This is a different god than Molech (1 Kings 11:7), and very little is known about Milcom. The word is related to the word for “king” (melech).

1Ki 11:6(top)
1Ki 11:7

“mountain that is before Jerusalem.” That is, the Mount of Olives. In this context, the word “before” indicates “east of,” because the culture was oriented to the east, and the Temple of Yahweh faced east.

1Ki 11:8(top)
1Ki 11:9

“he had turned his heart away.” In the Hebrew text, the verb “turned” is active: it was Solomon who, by his thoughts and actions, turned his heart away from Yahweh. God holds Solomon responsible for his turning away.

“appeared to him twice.” God personally appeared to Solomon on two different occasions (1 Kings 3:5; 9:2), but in spite of his personal and intimate experiences with God, Solomon turned away from Him and did evil in His sight. Solomon is one person who shows us that knowledge does not equal commitment. We can know a lot about God without being committed to him.

[For more on God appearing to people, see commentary on Acts 7:55.]

1Ki 11:10(top)
1Ki 11:11

“Since this is what was in your mind​.” The Hebrew is more literally, “Since this was with you,” but it seems to be referring to what Solomon had in his mind.

“tear, yes tear.” God uses the figure polyptoton for emphasis (see commentary on Gen. 2:16).

“servant.” Here “servant” is used of Jeroboam, one of Solomon's officials (see commentary on 2 Sam. 11:1).

1Ki 11:12(top)
1Ki 11:13

“one tribe.” This is apparently the tribe of Judah (1 Kings 12:20), but it still does not answer the question as to why Yahweh said “one” tribe instead of two. Also interesting is that Benjamin was the full brother of Joseph, who became the two tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh, and yet the tribe of Benjamin sided with Judah in this split. It is interesting that there is no recorded response from Solomon. We do not know how he reacted to what Yahweh said to him, almost certainly through a prophet.

1Ki 11:14

“an adversary.” This is the regular use of the Hebrew word “satan,” adversary, where Satan gets his name, which means “Adversary.”

1Ki 11:15(top)
1Ki 11:16(top)
1Ki 11:17(top)
1Ki 11:18

“And they arose out of Midian.” So the group with young Hadad stopped in Midian for a short time.

1Ki 11:19

“great favor in the eyes of Pharaoh.” Pharaoh was likely covertly angry with Solomon for taking over some of his international business dealings, so Hadad, an enemy of Solomon, was favored by Pharaoh.

“the sister of Tahpenes the queen.” The word for “queen” is not the regular word, but one that more means “high queen.” Although some scholars assume this is the queen mother, that is highly unlikely. The queen mother is the mother of the king, in this case, the mother of Pharaoh. But Pharaoh would have been quite a bit older than Hadad, who was young, and Pharaoh’s mother would have thus been very much older than Hadad. It makes more sense that this refers to Pharaoh’s favorite wife.

1Ki 11:20(top)
1Ki 11:21(top)
1Ki 11:22(top)
1Ki 11:23

another adversary to him.” That is, to Solomon.

“his lord.” This is a grammatical plural, “lords,” but it refers to a singular lord.

“Hadadezer.” An opponent of David that David defeated (2 Sam. 8:3-12).

“Zobah.” Zobah is north of Israel in the general area of Damascus.

1Ki 11:24

“Rezon.” The Hebrew text reads “he,” but the REV reads “Rezon” for clarity.

“and they ruled in Damascus.” The Hebrew is “they ruled.” Some scholars emend the translation to “he [Rezon] ruled,” but there is no justification for that. Rezon and his men ruled Damascus.

1Ki 11:25

“loathed.” He hated Israel; the Israelites loathed manna (Num. 21:5).

1Ki 11:26

“whose mother’s name was Zeruah, a widow.” It seems clear that Jeroboam was raised by a single mother, which may explain some of his work ethic. He likely had to start working very young to help his mom and the family.

1Ki 11:27

“lift up his hand.” Many English versions use “rebel” instead of translating the idiom literally, and thus read that Jeroboam “rebelled against the king.” The Bible does not tell us exactly why Jeroboam rebelled against Solomon. Certainly, the prophecy of Ahijah that God had given him a kingdom was the culminating motivation, but Jeroboam had to have been thinking about it already because Ahijah’s prophecy was immediately accepted and acted upon. One possibility is that Jeroboam was from the tribe of Ephraim and was over the brother tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh, and saw and disliked Solomon’s harsh policies (cp. 1 Kings 12:4).

1Ki 11:28

“someone who could get work done.” For the translation, see De Vries (WBC).a Apparently, Jeroboam was not only a hard worker, but one who could manage others as well. There are many people who can work hard but cannot manage others, and the fact that Jeroboam could do both caught the attention of Solomon. We also see Jeroboam’s organizational skills in the way—sadly, the ungodly way—he organized and ran his kingdom.

“the house of Joseph.” The “house of Joseph” is the two tribes that descended from Joseph: Ephraim and Manasseh.

Simon J. De Vries, 1 Kings [WBC].
1Ki 11:29

“met him on the road.” The Hebrew is more literally, “found him on the road,” and indicates that Ahijah was purposely looking for Jeroboam. But without more explanation, we would say that he “met” him on the road. To simply say in English that Ahijah “found” him on the road makes the meeting seem more like an accident. What is unstated but certain due to the language is that God had given Ahijah a prophetic word about Jeroboam, and so Ahijah went looking for him.

“the field.” The jump from the “road” to the “field” is easily explained by the fact that every road went through fields and open country at one time or another.

1Ki 11:30

“and tore it into 12 pieces.” Clothing was very valuable in the ancient world because it was all made by hand and took quite a bit of time to make, so the fact that Ahijah would tear up his new garment was very graphic and would have riveted Jeroboam’s attention to what Ahijah was doing and then saying.

1Ki 11:31

“for yourself.” So the word of Yahweh was for Jeroboam to be king, the tribes were to be “for” him, and would be given “to” him.

“I am about to tear.” The Hebrew is literally, “I am tearing,” and the present participle is quite often used to express an imminent event.

1Ki 11:32

“my servant David’s sake.” The word “sake” in this context refers to purpose or end. God had a plan and purpose for David’s descendants and a purpose for Jerusalem that Solomon’s sin could not undo; God’s plan and David’s dynasty would continue even though the United Kingdom of Israel would be divided into the two smaller kingdoms of Judah and Israel.

1Ki 11:33

“because that they have forsaken me and have worshiped Ashtoreth...Chemosh...and Milcom.” We would think that the message that Solomon lost the kingdom due to his idolatry would be so deeply burned into the soul of Jeroboam that when he was king he would not worship idols. But instead, he did worse than Solomon, and many of the idolatrous practices that he started lasted for some 250 years until Israel was conquered by Assyria and carried away from the Promised Land.

“worshiped.” The Hebrew verb is shachah (#07812 שָׁחָה), and it is the same Hebrew word as “bow down.” The common biblical way of bowing down before people or God was to fall to one’s knees and bow the upper body to the earth. Shachah is translated as both “bow down” and “worship”; traditionally “worship” if God is involved and “bow down” if people are involved, but the verb and action are the same, the act of bowing down is the worship. God’s people were bowing down before pagan gods.

[For more on bowing down, see commentary on 1 Chron. 29:20.]

“goddess...god...god.” All three of these references to deity are grammatical plurals; literally “gods” The feminine “goddess” is understood from the fact that Ashtoreth is feminine.

1Ki 11:34(top)
1Ki 11:35

“kingship.” This is a different word than “kingdom” in 1 Kings 11:34. The “kingship” that Solomon had will be taken from his son, who will have a considerably smaller and less powerful kingdom, while “kingship” will be given to Jeroboam, even though two kingdoms from the twelve tribes was not God’s original plan.

1Ki 11:36

“one tribe.” The “one tribe” is Judah (1 Kings 12:20), but as we see from 1 Kings 11:37, Benjamin is considered to be with Judah. The reason for the preeminence of Judah seems to be that the Messiah will come out of Judah.

“so that there will be a lamp of David my servant.” The “lamp” is the man in the line of David who is ruling as king on David’s throne. The NET text note reads that the Hebrew text says, “‘so there might be a lamp for David my servant all the days before me in Jerusalem.’ The metaphorical ‘lamp’ symbolizes the Davidic dynasty. Because this imagery is unfamiliar to the modern reader, the translation ‘so my servant David’s dynasty may continue to serve me’ has been used” in the NET. In 2 Samuel 21:17, David’s men referred to him as the “lamp” of Israel, and so it makes sense that his descendants in the Davidic Dynasty are also referred to as lamps.

1Ki 11:37(top)
1Ki 11:38

“if you will listen.” In a context like this, the word “listen” can also be used idiomatically and have the meaning “obey.” Some scholars refer to this as the “pregnant sense” of the word. In this verse, it has the meaning “listen to and obey.” Many Hebrew words are used with an idiomatic or pregnant sense (see commentary on Luke 23:42).

1Ki 11:39

“because of this.” Because of Solomon’s disobedience.

1Ki 11:40(top)
1Ki 11:41

“the rest of the acts.” The Hebrew word translated “acts” is dabar, more commonly, “words” but also “things, matters,” and in this context, likely, “acts.” Dabar occurs twice in the verse. The breadth of meaning of dabar makes it hard to translate in this context; but it includes his words, acts, and things he was involved with.

1Ki 11:42(top)
1Ki 11:43(top)

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