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Archive for the ‘Notes on 1 Kings’ Category

My Notes on 1 Kings 17:1-6

Posted by Dim Bulb on June 8, 2014


I tend to agree with those scholars who see the Elijah-Elisha narrative as consisting of 1 Kings 16:292 Kings 13:25,  rather than with the more common view that it consists of 1 Kings 17:12 Kings 8:15.  In the common view Elisha’s appearances in 2 Kings 9:1-3 and 2 Kings 13:14-21 are often treated as parts of other narratives. In the other view, chapters 9-13 of 2 Kings describes the aftermath of what was set in motion by the rest of the Elijah-Elisha narrative and are therefore integral to it.

1 Kings 16:29-34, which immediately precedes today’s reading, introduces us to two primary characters in the Elijah-Elisha stories; namely, Ahab, King of Israel, and Jezebel, his Pagan wife. Ahab is portrayed as exceeding the sins of predecessors by adopting the worship of Baal, the preferred god of his wife Jezebel, with the result that: Achab [i.e., Ahab] did more to provoke the Lord, the God of Israel, than all the kings of Israel that were before him” (1 Kings 16:33, Douay-Rheims). In a brief snippet we are also informed that a certain man named Hiel: “In his days Hiel of Bethel built Jericho; he laid its foundation at the cost of Abiram his first-born, and set up its gates at the cost of his youngest son Segub, according to the word of the LORD, which he spoke by Joshua the son of Nun” (1 Kings 16:34 RSVCE).

To anyone who reads through the Elijah-Elisha narrative it is plainly obvious why Ahab and Jezebel are the focus in the introduction-they are integral to the story. But why is Hiel and his rebuilding of Jericho-resulting in the death of his sons-mentioned? The key is to be found in Joshua 6:26 which details “the word of the LORD, which he spoke by Joshua, the son of Nun.” There we read these words of Joshua: “Cursed be the man before the Lord, that shall raise up and build the city of Jericho. In his firstborn may he lay the foundation thereof, and in the last of his children set up its gates.” God’s commands, God’s promises, and his power to fulfill them are major themes in the narrative. That obeying God’s word leads to the preservation of life for one’s self or one’s children is also a major theme which, of course, contrasts with Hiel’s actions resulting in the death of his two sons.


1 Kings 17:1  AND Elias [Elijah] the Thesbite [Tishbite], of the inhabitants of Galaad [Gilead], said to Achab [Ahab]: As the Lord liveth, the God of Israel, in whose sight I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but [except] according to the words of my mouth.

Elijah the Tishbite. Elijah is introduced suddenly, suggesting that by the time of the writing of First Kings he was quite well known in the tradition as a prophet of God. His name is a kind of confession, meaning: “YHWH (the LORD) is my God.” His very name introduces a theme into the narrative, namely who is Israel’s God? Is it Baal, or YHWH? The people appear to have been undecided, caught up in their syncretism; a fact that didn’t sit well with God or Elijah: “How long do you halt between two sides? If the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people did not answer him a word” (1 Kings 18:21).

As the Lord liveth, the God of Israel. As opposed to Baal who is not Israel’s God, does not live, and cannot give life. Ultimately, this is the whole point of chapters 17-18.

In whose sight I stand. I stand ready to hear his counsel, obey his word, embrace his will.

There shall be no dew or rain these years, but [except] according to the words of my mouth. Baal was a fertility God and the rain was  conceived of as his seed whereby he impregnated the earth and made it fertile. God, by giving his prophet-a human being-control of the rain, he shows forth his own power and existence at the expense of the god of Ahab, Baal.

1 Kings 17:2 And the word of the Lord came to him, saying:
1 Kings 17:3 Get thee hence, and go towards the east, and hide thyself by the torrent of Carith
[Cherith], which is over against the Jordan;
1 Kings 17:4 And there thou shalt drink of the torrent: and I have commanded the ravens to feed thee there.
1 Kings 17:5 So he went, and did according to the word of the Lord: and going, he dwelt by the torrent Carith
[Cherith], which is over against the Jordan.
1 Kings 17:6 And the ravens brought him bread and flesh in the morning, and bread and flesh in the evening; and he drank of the torrent

These verses are in two parts. The first part consist of God issuing a command (2-3), coupled with a promise (4). The second part consists of the prophet’s fulfillment of God’s command (5), and God’s fulfillment of his promise (6). Tomorrow’s first reading (1 Kings 17:7-16) will have the same basic format but with some added nuance.

Many scholars insist that the reason for the command to hide is due to the fact that the prophet’s life is in danger as a result of the word he spoke to Ahab in verse 1, but nothing is said about Ahab’s response to these words, and the prophet’s life is not here said to be in danger. Other scholars see in the command a preparation of the prophet to trust in God’s providential, protective care, for the time will come when his life is in danger and he flees (1 Kings 19:1-3), becoming dependent on God’s care to maintain his life (1 Kings 19:4-8). This second interpretation makes better sense to me.

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Haydock Bible Commentary on 1 Kings 21:1-16

Posted by Dim Bulb on June 16, 2012

This is from a 19th century commentary compiled by Father Leo Haydock; it is very basic in nature. The spelling of names and places is somewhat archaic today but I have chosen to maintain them except where biblical references are used (e.g., “Isaias” has been changed to “Isaiah”; “2 Paralipomenon” has been changed to 2 Chronicles, etc.).

1Ki 21:1  And after these things, Naboth the Jezrahelite, who was in Jezrahel, had at that time a vineyard, near the palace of Achab, king of Samaria.

Who was.  Hebrew, Chaldean, &c., place this after vineyard, and read which, referring it to the ground; which we might naturally suppose would be the place of Naboth’s nativity, as it was his parental estate, 2 Kings 9:21.  Josephus calls the place Azari, and says it was a field contiguous to the king’s palace.  Septuagint Greek: alo, “threshing-floor.”

1Ki 21:2  And Achab spoke to Naboth, saying: Give me thy vineyard, that I may make me a garden of herbs, because it is nigh, and adjoining to my house; and I will give thee for it a better vineyard: or if thou think it more convenient for thee, I will give thee the worth of it in money.

Herbs.  The taste of eastern nations is very different from ours.  The Syrians delight in seeing gardens filled with melons, onions, &c., and they cannot conceive what pleasure we can find in rambling round our long walks for the sake of exercise. — Money.  Hence we perceive that, notwithstanding the despotic power of the kings of Israel, they did not imagine that they had a right to take their subjects’ lands, 1 Sam 8:14.  (Calmet) — Naboth’s conduct is therefore here applauded; and St. Ambrose (Off. iii. 9.) styles him a martyr, (Worthington) and a great saint.  (Tirinus) — Maluit periculum cum honestate, quam utilitatem cum opprobrio.

1Ki 21:3  Naboth answered him: The Lord be merciful to me, and not let me give thee the inheritance of my fathers.

Fathers.  He would have deemed it a mark of disrespect and a crime, as he was not in a state of indigence; which alone could authorize him to sell his property, and then only till the year of jubilee; (Leviticus 25:23.) and as his field was to be turned into a royal garden, and the law was disregarded by the king, there was no prospect of his regaining it at that period.  The law of Moses was till in force; and there were some, like Naboth, who were resolved to comply with it, (Calmet) even at the hazard of their lives.  (Tirinus)

1Ki 21:4  And Achab came into his house angry and fretting, because of the word that Naboth, the Jezrahelite, had spoken to him, saying: I will not give thee the inheritance of my fathers. And casting himself upon his bed, he turned away his face to the wall, and would eat no bread.

Fretting.  The Hebrew terms are the same as [in] 1 Kings 20:43.  What weakness in Achab!  Riches and honours are not capable of ensuring content.  (Calmet) — “Who, thinkest thou, is poor; the man who is content with his own, or he who covets another’s property?”  (St. Ambrose, Naboth ii.) — Wall, as Ezechias did afterwards, in very different dispositions; though both were oppressed with grief, Isaiah 38:2.  Septuagint, “he covered his face.”  (Haydock)

1Ki 21:5  And Jezabel, his wife, went in to him, and said to him: What is the matter that thy soul is so grieved? and why eatest thou no bread?
1Ki 21:6  And he answered her: I spoke to Naboth, the Jezrahelite, and said to him: Give me thy vineyard, and take money for it: or if it please thee, I will give thee a better vineyard for it. And he said: I will not give thee my vineyard.
1Ki 21:7  Then Jezabel, his wife, said to him. Thou art of great authority indeed, and governest well the kingdom of Israel. Arise, and eat bread, and be of good cheer; I will give thee the vineyard of Naboth, the Jezrahelite.

(verse 7)~Governest well the kingdom of Israel.  Hebrew simply, “Now thou wilt make the kingdom of Israel.”  (Calmet) — Protestants, “Dost thou now govern the?” &c.  (Haydock) — Thou art a fit person indeed to establish a kingdom!  Ought not a king to take what he has a mind to?  Syriac, “Are you fit to reign?”  Arabic, “You do not deserve to govern.”  (Calmet) — Septuagint, “Dost thou now act the king over Israel, in this manner?”  (Haydock)

1Ki 21:8  So she wrote letters in Achab’s name, and sealed them with his ring, and sent them to the ancients, and the chief men that were in his city, and that dwelt with Naboth.

Chief men.  Hebrew chorim, “those in white,” the usual colour of magistrates and noblemen, Ecclesiastes 9:8., and Daniel 7:9.  The angels generally appear arrayed in white.  Among the Egyptians and the Greeks, the rich were remarkable for the whiteness of their robes.  (Herodotus ii. 36.)  (Homer, Odyssey z.)

1Ki 21:9  And this was the tenor of the letters: Proclaim a fast, and make Naboth sit among the chief of the people;

 Fast, as in a case of the greatest importance, where the welfare of the king and of the state are concerned.  We have frequent mention of such extraordinary fasts, 2 Chron 20:3., Ezra 8:21., and Joel 1:14, &c.  Some would translated, “Call the assembly.”  (Vatable) — But the Chaldean, &c., are for the fast.  Josephus joins both.  All the people were collected, (Calmet) and Naboth was (Hebrew) “set on high, or at the head, as president, on account of his riches and nobility, (Haydock) that he might be unprepared, and afterwards be more disgraced.  (Menochius) Abulensis (q. 4.) thinks that the judges were accustomed to fast, to shew their pity for the criminal, and that they were moved only by a zeal for justice.

1Ki 21:10  And suborn two men, sons of Belial, against him. and let them bear false witness; that he hath blasphemed God and the king: and then carry him out, and stone him, and so let him die.

Belial, without restraint or conscience. — Blasphemed.  Hebrew, “blessed.” — Elohim, (Haydock) or god, the gods, magistrates, &c.  (Calmet) — Blessing is equally put, to avoid the horrible sound of blaspheming.  (Worthington)  (Job 1:5., and Job 2:9.) — Martin de Roa (i. 9.) maintains, that the word implies to “bid adieu,” or quit; as if Naboth had relinquished the service both of God and of the king.  He was accused as a traitor.  The law did not condemn the person to death who had spoken ill of the prince, Exodus 22:28.  But the wicked judges complied with the intimation of Jezabel; (Calmet) as she pretended that he had also blasphemed God.  (Haydock) — Josephus introduces three witnesses, which was more conformable to the practice of the Jews.  (Grotius) — But the text specifies two; and that number would suffice.  (Haydock) — All Naboth’s family were involved in his ruin; (4 Kings ix. 26.; Tirinus) as it was necessary for Achab’s purpose.  So Achan’s children perished with him, Joshua 7:25.  (Haydock) — What a complication of crime!  (Tirinus) — “They proclaimed a fast, in order to commit murder.”  (St. Chrysostom, ser. 68.)  Hypocrisy, falsehoods, perjury, perversion of justice, all are employed to take away the life, honour, and property of the innocent.  See St. Ambrose, Seneca Benef. ii. 27.  (Tirinus)

1Ki 21:11  And the men of his city, the ancients and nobles, that dwelt with him in the city, did as Jezabel had commanded them, and as it was written in the letters which she had sent to them;
1Ki 21:12  They proclaimed a fast, and made Naboth sit among the chief of the people.
1Ki 21:13  And bringing two men, sons of the devil, they made them sit against him: and they, like men of the devil, bore witness against him before the people: saying: Naboth hath blasphemed God and the king. Wherefore they brought him forth without the city, and stoned him to death.

(Verse 13)~Devil.  Hebrew Belial, ver. 10.  Protestants, “and the men of Belial witnessed against him.” — City, as was requisite.  (Calmet) — Stoned him, for blasphemy, Leviticus 24:16., and 23.

1Ki 21:14  And they sent to Jezabel, saying: Naboth is stoned, and is dead.
1Ki 21:15  And it came to pass, when Jezabel heard that Naboth was stoned, and dead, that she said to Achab: Arise, and take possession of the vineyard of Naboth, the Jezrahelite, who would not agree with thee, and give it thee for money: for Naboth is not alive, but dead.
1Ki 21:16  And when Achab heard this, to wit, that Naboth was dead, he arose, and went down into the vineyard of Naboth, the Jezrahelite, to take possession of it.

(Verse 16)~To take possession of it, on the title of confiscation, as Naboth had been condemned for high treason; (see 2 Sam 9:7.; Menochius) or because there was no heir left, ver. 10.  Some assert, that Naboth was Achab’s uncle.  But this wants proof.  (Calmet) — Achab only waited one day, and the Elias met him to denounce to him a similar fate after he was dead, 2 Kings 9:26.  Septuagint have, “he tore this garments, and put on sackcloth; and it came to pass afterwards, that Achab arose,” &c.  This addition would intimate that the king pretended to be sorry.  They repeat the same thing, ver. 27., “he had put on sackcloth, on the day when he slew Naboth, and went along cast down.”  It is probable that Achab might assume this garb, to make people suppose that he had no hand in the death of Naboth; but this was all hypocrisy, and Elias boldly accused him of guilt.  Thou hast slain, &c., ver. 19.  (Haydock) — He knew, at least, of his wife’s machinations.  (Salien)

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My Notes on 1 Kings 12:26-32, 13:33-34

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 7, 2012

Background~See 1 Kings 11:1-12:25. See also my posts on the first readings for Thursday (1 Kings 11:4-13) and Friday (1 Kings 11:29-32, 12:19).

1Ki 12:26  And Jeroboam said in his heart: Now shall the kingdom return to the house of David,
1Ki 12:27  If this people go up to offer sacrifices in the house of the Lord at Jerusalem: and the heart of this people will turn to their lord Roboam (Rehoboam), the king of Juda (Judah), and they will kill me, and return to him.

And Jeroboam said in his heart. The last time the word heart was used in first Kings was in the account of Solomon’s sin: “And the Lord was angry with Solomon, because his mind was turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice” (1 Kings 11:9). As I noted in the post on Friday’s reading, Jeroboam was presented as another David, rising to replace (as it were) a very Saul like Solomon; now he is being portrayed as like Solomon.

Jeroboam’s interior reflections betray a fundamental distrust of what God had promised him through a prophet. Notice that he refers to Rehoboam as “king of Juda,” which calls to mind the political split willed by God which brought him (Jeroboam) to the throne to begin with. Yet he also refers to Rehoboam as “Lord” or “Master” of the people of his own kingdom If this people go up to offer sacrifices in the house of the Lord at Jerusalem: and the heart of this people will turn to their lord Roboam, the king of Juda, and they will kill me, and return to him.  He thinks he has to consolidate his kingdom in spite of what God had promised. He’s afraid they will kill me, and return to him.

His words also show a fundamental distrust of his own people who rejected Rehoboam, making him king instead (1 Kings 12:20).

1Ki 12:28  And finding out a device, he made two golden calves, and said to them: Go ye up no more to Jerusalem: Behold thy gods, O Israel, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt.

And finding out a device. He figured out a plan.

Behold thy gods, O Israel, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt. Recall that Jeroboam had fled from Solomon into Egypt, a place of calf worship. Apparently, he picked up some bad habits there. His calf making and words call to mind the sin of Aaron and the people at Mount Sinai (Exodus 32:1-6). In fact, in 1 Kings 14:1, 20 we see that he actually names his sons Abihu and Nadab, calling to mind the two sons of Aaron who offered strange fire (profane sacrifice) on the altar and died as a result (Leviticus 10:1). Another allusion to Jeroboam as like the sinning Aaron will occur later in the narrative (1 Kings 13:3. See comments under verse 32 below).

1Ki 12:29  And he set the one in Bethel, and the other in Dan:

The two cities were located, respectively, on the southern and northern borders of the kingdom. This was probably done to facilitate ease of access for the people.

1Ki 12:30  And this thing became an occasion of sin: for the people went to adore the calf as far as Dan.

It would become known as “the sin of Jeroboam” and it would lead to the eventual downfall of the kingdom.

1Ki 12:31  And he made temples in the high places, and priests of the lowest of the people, who were not of the sons of Levi.

Thus violating the law of one sanctuary (Deut 12:1-14), and the restriction of the priesthood to Aaron’s line alone (Num 18:1).

1Ki 12:32  And he appointed a feast in the eighth month, on the fifteenth day of the month, after the manner of the feast that was celebrated in Juda. And going up to the altar, he did in like manner in Bethel, to sacrifice to the calves, which he had made: and he placed in Bethel priests of the high places, which he had made.

He appointed a feast in the eighth month…after the manner of the feast that was celebrated in Juda. The pilgrim Feast of Tabernacles (Tents) was celebrated on the fifteenth day of the seventh month in Jerusalem, apparently Jeroboam moved the feast to the eighth month. As we learn in 1 Kings 12:33-13:10 it was on this novel feast day that Jeroboam was confronted by a prophet who rebuked him, telling him that the false altar would be broken, recalling Moses’ breaking of the golden calf Aaron had made in Exodus 34.

1Ki 13:33  After these words, Jeroboam came not back from his wicked way: but on the contrary, he made of the meanest of the people priests of the high places: whosoever would, he filled his hand, and he was made a priest of the high places.
1Ki 13:34  And for this cause did the house of Jeroboam sin, and was cut off, and destroyed from the face of the earth.

After these words (vs 33) refers to the events which transpired in 1 Kings 13:1-32.

On the contrary. In spite of what unfolded regarding the two prophets Jeroboam not only persisted in his sins, he seems to have become hardened. It will all be in vain. What the prophet prophesied (1 Kings 13:2-3) concerning the altar will fall upon all the high places (sacred hills on which worship was offered) during the reign of the Judean king Josiah (2 Kings 23:10-25; 2 Kings 23:19-20

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My Notes on 1 Kings 11:29-32, 12:19

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 7, 2012


Background~See my notes on Yesterday’s first reading (1 Kings 11:4-13).

1Ki 11:29  So it came to pass at that time, that Jeroboam went out of Jerusalem, and the prophet Ahias (Ahijah), the Silonite (Shilonite), clad with a new garment, found him in the way: and they two were alone in the field.

So it came to pass. After his condemnation of Solomon, God began to raise up “adversaries” against him as punishment: Adad (Hadad) in 1 Kings 11:14; Razon (Rezon) in 1 Kings 11:23. This reverses one of the impetuses Solomon had for building the temple: “But now the Lord my God hath given me rest round about; and there is no adversary nor evil occurrence. Wherefore I purpose to build a temple to the name of the Lord my God, as the Lord spoke to David my father, saying: Thy son, whom I will set upon the throne, in thy place, he shall build a house to my name” (1 Kings 5:4-5). But more trouble loomed for Solomon.  God had told him, “Because thou hast done this, and hast not kept my covenant, and my precepts, which I have commanded thee, I will divide and rend thy kingdom, and will give it to thy servant (1 Kings 11:11); it is this that the narrator is about to describe as coming to pass.

Jeroboam. See verses 26-28. I’ll just note here that Jeroboam is, in verse 28, described as “a valiant and mighty man” (גבור חיל), which recalls the description of David in 1 Sam 16:18. Also in verse 28 he is described as “ingenious and industrious”, which leads Solomon to place him in a position of trust. This remind us of David who had been a faithful servant to King Saul. As Saul attempted to kill David, Solomon attempts to kill Jeroboam (1:kings 11:40).  There are a numerous “series of correlations between the story of Jeroboam, Solomon, and Ahijah and the story of David, Saul and Samuel” (FIRST KINGS, by Jerome T. Walsh, pg. 148).  The rise of Jeroboam is described in a way which recalls the rise of David, and this presentation, taking place as it does in a narrative about the fall of Solomon is not without meaning.

1Ki 11:30  And Ahias taking his new garment, wherewith he was clad, divided it into twelve parts:
1Ki 11:31  And he said to Jeroboam: Take to thee ten pieces: for thus saith the Lord, the God of Israel: Behold, I will rend the kingdom out of the hand of Solomon, and will give thee ten tribes.
1Ki 11:32  But one tribe shall remain to him for the sake of my servant, David, and Jerusalem, the city which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel:

(vs 30) And Ahias taking his new garment. Ahias (Ahijah) was in the previous verse identified as a Shilonite. Recall that, as a result of Saul’s sins, David was anointed by the prophet Samuel, whose career began at Shiloh (1 Sam 1:24).

(vs 30 cont.) Divided it (his new garment) into twelve parts. As the next two verses make clear, the twelve parts are intended to symbolize the twelve Tribes of Israel. The action recalls the demise of King Saul whose mantle Samuel tore to symbolize that God would tear the kingdom from him (1 Same 15:24-31).

(vs 31-32) Take these ten pieces…Behold, I will rend the kingdom out of the hand of Solomon, and will give thee ten tribes. But one tribe shall remain to him.  Thus there formed a new kingdom under Jeroboam which would retain the name Israel, and which is often termed by modern scholars as “the Northern Kingdom.” Because the line of David belonged to the Tribe of Judah the author doesn’t think it necessary to indicate that it would remain under the Davidide dynasty. The one tribe to remain is a reference to Benjamin. The tribes of Judah and Benjamin would become known as “Judah”, and is often termed “the Southern Kingdom” by modern scholars.

(vs 32 cont.) For the sake of my servant, David. As pointed out in my notes on yesterday’s first reading, this is a refrain which appears several times in the chapter. At one and the same it time recalls David’s fidelity to God-even after failure (i.e., he sought reconciliation) but, more importantly, it highlights God’s fidelity to the promise he made to David in 2 Sam 7.

(vs 32 cont.) For the sake of… Jerusalem, the city which I have chosen out of all the tribe of Israel. Jerusalem was chosen as the place where his name would dwell in the temple which Solomon built. God’s actions in regard to Jeroboam were in no way a repudiation of Jerusalem, the Temple, or the cult (see comment below)

1Ki 12:19  And Israel revolted from the house of David, unto this day.

Refers to what took place after Solomon’s death, during the reign of his foolish son, Rehoboam, (read 1 Kings 12:1-18). This political division, willed by God as a punishment for Solomon’s idolatry, would soon turn into a religious schism, as Jeroboam would lead his newly acquired kingdom into idolatry, forsaking Jerusalem and its Temple. See tomorrow’s first reading. I hope to post notes on that reading as well, but can promise nothing. If I do create a post you can find it here under Saturday.

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My Notes on 1 Kings 11:4-13

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 6, 2012

Solomon’s failure stands in marked contrast to the pagan woman in today’s Gospel (Mark 7:24-30).

1Ki 11:4  And when he was now old, his heart was turned away by women to follow strange gods: and his heart was not perfect with the Lord his God, as was the heart of David, his father.

His heart was turned away by women to follow strange gods. Recalls verse 1: “And king Solomon loved many strange women, besides the daughter of Pharao, and women of Moab, and of Ammon, and of Edom, and of Sidon, and of the Hethites”. Strange (i.e., foreign) woman lead to strange (foreign) gods. This had been the warning of the Law of Moses which is cited in 1 Kings 11:2~”You shall not go in unto them, neither shall any of them come into yours: for they will most certainly turn away your hearts to follow their gods” (see Exodus 23:32-33; Deut 7:1-3). Additionally, as a careful reading of 1 Kings 10-11 will show when compared to the Law for the King in Deuteronomy 17:14-20, Solomon broke quite a number of stipulations.

And his heart was not perfect with the Lord his God, as was the heart of David, his father. The name David appears a number of times in this chapter, usually implying in some fashion that Solomon has not measured up to his stature; see 1 Kings 11:6, 12, 13, 32, 33, 34, 36, 38, 39. The repeated references to David also calls to mind God’s conditional promise to Solomon: “if thou wilt walk in my statutes, and execute my judgments, and keep all my commandments, walking in them, I will fulfil my word to thee, which I spoke to David thy father” (1 Kings 6:11). See also 1 Kings 9:3-9.

Reference to Solomon’s heart appears 4 times in verses 3-4, recalling his initial request for an understanding heart and God’s response. Solomon: “Give therefore to thy servant an understanding heart, to judge thy people, and discern between good and evil. For who shall be able to judge this people, thy people, which is so numerous?” God: “Behold I have done for thee according to thy words, and have given thee a wise and understanding heart, in so much that there hath been no one like thee before thee, nor shall arise after thee” (see 1 Kings 3:9-12).

The text contains a word play on Solomon’s name. The heart of Solomon (שׁלמה) is not perfect (שׁלם). Both words derive ultimately from the Hebrew word shalom (שׁלם). Solomon, the man of shalom (peace, a total state of well-being), has not peace of heart with God, and he will suffer the consequences.

1Ki 11:5  But Solomon worshipped Astarthe (Astarte), the goddess of the Sidonians, and Moloch, the idol of the Ammonites.

But Solomon worshiped, &c. The Hebrew text reads But Solomon walked after Astarthe, &c. The Hebrew word וילך (walk) is used numerous times in reference to Solomon’s (and the people’s) relationship to God. Most notably in the promises and warnings God gave Solomon: 1 Kings 3:14; 1 Kings 6:12; 1 Kings 9:4. By now walking with Astarthe, Solomon has rejected the promise of the blessings and brought down upon himself the punishment he was warned of.

Astarthe. From the 1909 Catholic Dictionary: “(Phoenician: Ashtoret, Astarte) A Syro-Phoenician female deity worshipped at Sidon and Tyre, in Carthage, Cyprus, and even Britain. She has been identified with the Babylonian goddess Ishtar, the Grecian Aphrodite, and the Latin Venus, and was regarded as the goddess of love and fecundity. In 2 Kings 28, she is described as the ‘idol of the Sidonians.’”

Moloch. From the 1909 Catholic Dictionary: “(Hebrew: molech, king) A divinity worshiped by the idolatrous Israelites, his cult being supposed to have been introduced into Israel by Solomon (1 Kings 11); a form of Baal, representing the sun-god in his destructive aspect. His worship consisted of offering human sacrifices, especially children, causing them to “pass through the fire” after they had been put to death (2 Kings 16, 17).” For more on Moloch see this article in the Catholic Encyclopedia.

1Ki 11:6  And Solomon did that which was not pleasing before the Lord, and did not fully follow the Lord, as David, his father.

Essentially reiterates what was said in verse 4. His heart turning from the Lord (verse 4) is paralleled here with he did that which was not pleasing before the Lord. But this verse also draws a contrast with Solomon’s initial request of God, that he (God) give him an understanding heart (1 Kings 3:9); “And the word was pleasing to the Lord, that Solomon had asked such a thing” (1 Kings 3:10).

1Ki 11:7  Then Solomon built a temple for Chamos (Chemos), the idol of Moab, on the hill that is over against Jerusalem, and for Moloch, the idol of the children of Ammon.

Chamos. Protestant commentators Keil and Delitzsch note that “Chemosh was a sun-god, who was worshipped as king of his people and as a god of war, and as such is depicted upon coins with a sword, lance, and shield in his hands, and with two torches by his side (see at Num 21:29).”

The Catholic Encyclopedia on Moab and Ammon (Ammonites).

1Ki 11:8  And he did in this manner for all his wives that were strangers, who burnt incense, and offered sacrifice to their gods.

All his wives. Seven hundred of them according to 1 Kings 11:3.

1Ki 11:9  And the Lord was angry with Solomon, because his heart was turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice;
1Ki 11:10  And had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not follow strange gods: but he kept not the things which the Lord commanded him.

(vs 9) And the Lord was angry with Solomon. His anger at Solomon’s idolatry recalls his anger at the people (Deut 9:8) and Aaron (Deut 9:20) for the sin of the golden calf.

(vs 9 cont.) Because his heart was turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel. Literally, “his heart was bent away from the Lord.” His heart has become twisted, perverse. This situation has come about even though (vv 9-10) the God Israel… appeared to him twice; and had commanded him…that he should not follow strange gods.For God’s two appearances to Solomon see 1 Kings 3:4-15 and 1 Kings 9:2-9.

The phrase the God of Israel stands in contrast to the “the idol of Moab” and the “the idol of the children of Ammon” mentioned in verse 7. Solomon had forgotten that ancient confession of his people’s faith which begins with the words of Deuteronomy 6:4-9~”Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord. Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole strength. And these words which I command thee this day, shall be in thy heart: And thou shalt tell them to thy children, and thou shalt meditate upon them sitting in thy house, and walking on thy journey, sleeping and rising. And thou shalt bind them as a sign on thy hand, and they shall be and shall move between thy eyes. And thou shalt write them in the entry, and on the doors of thy house.”

1Ki 11:11  The Lord therefore said to Solomon: Because thou hast done this, and hast not kept my covenant, and my precepts, which I have commanded thee, I will divide and rend thy kingdom, and will give it to thy servant.

Because thou hast done this, and hast not kept my covenant, and my precepts, which I have commanded thee. Recalls the conditional promise of God’s first appearance to Solomon: “And if thou wilt walk in my ways, and keep my precepts and my commandments, as thy father walked, I will lengthen thy days” (1 Kings 3:14). It also recalls the conditional promise of the second appearance: “And if thou wilt walk before me, as thy father walked, in simplicity of heart, and in uprightness: and wilt do all that I have commanded thee, and wilt keep my ordinances, and my judgments, I will establish the throne of thy kingdom over Israel for ever, as I promised David, thy father, saying: There shall not fail a man of thy race upon the throne of Israel”(1 Kings 9:4-5).

I will divide and rend thy kingdom, and will give it to thy servant. A reference to the prophetic sign Solomon’s servant, Jeroboam receives in 1 Kings 11:26-40, indicating that he was going to become king of most of the tribes of Israel.

1Ki 11:12  Nevertheless, in thy days I will not do it, for David thy father’s sake: but I will rend it out of the hand of thy son.
1Ki 11:13  Neither will I take away the whole kingdom; but I will give one tribe to thy son, for the sake of David, my servant, and Jerusalem, which I have chosen.

Note that in verse 12 David is referred to as Solomon’s father, while in verse 13 he is called God’s servant. Solomon hasn’t measure up to his father as a servant of God. As punishment, one of Solomon’s servants with gain control over most of the kingdom (verse 11).

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Some Thoughts on Today’s Readings (1 Kings 10:1-10; Psalm 37; Mark 7:14-23)

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 4, 2012

1 Ki 10:1. And the queen of Saba having heard of the fame of Solomon in the name of the Lord, came to try him with hard questions.

The Queen of Sheba has come to Solomon because she has heard of his fame. In fact, the text is rather insistent on this point of her hearing, but most modern translations prefer to translate as above. The Hebrew reads that she שׁמעת  את  שׁמע “heard the hearing of Solomon”. In verse 6 she acknowledges that what she has heard is true: The report is true, which I heard ( שׁמעתי) in my own country. In verse 7 she adds that what she has heard was very incomplete: thy wisdom and thy works exceed the fame which I heard ( שׁמעתי).  In verse 8 she issues some beatitudes: Blessed are thy men, and blessed are thy servants, who stand before thee always, and hear (השׁמעים) thy wisdom.

She had come to Solomon to try him with hard questions (vs 1), and, as verse 2 tells us, she spoke to him all that she had in her heart. She came, in other words, without guile, with a searching but honest heart. In this she resembled Solomon who, when God had invited him to ask what thou wilt that I should give thee, had asked for and understanding (literally, hearing שׁמע) heart (1 Kings 3:1-10).

How very different she was from the Scribes and Pharisees in yesterday’s Gospel who were ready to use any pretext to find fault with Jesus or his followers (see Mark 7:1-13). They were dishonest men with dishonest hearts, and their level of devotion contrasts mightily with that of the pagan queen’s; they had merited Jesus’ denunciation:Well did Isaias prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. And in vain do they worship me, teaching doctrines and precepts of men (Mark 7:6-7).

In today’s Gospel, Mark 7:14-23, Jesus said that the things which come out from a man, they defile a man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man (verses 20-23).

Deceit, blasphemy. Sins of the tongue which reveal the thoughts of the heart. In today’s Psalm we are told: The mouth of the just shall meditate wisdom: and his tongue shall speak judgment. The law of his God is in his heart, and his steps shall not be supplanted (Ps 37:30-31). Here too we see that the pagan Queen of Sheba has something to teach us, for she blessed God: Blessed be the Lord thy God, whom thou hast pleased, and who hath set thee upon the throne of Israel, because the Lord hath loved Israel for ever, and hath appointed thee king, to do judgment and justice (1 Kings 10:9).

Elsewhere Jesus tells us that the Queen of Sheba will arise at the judgement and condemn those who reject him, because she came to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and something greater than Solomon is here, Jesus himself. (Matt 12:42).

Let us learn the wisdom of this one who was greater than Solomon. Let us take to heart the words and advice of St John Chrysostom:

Let us learn then what are the things that defile the man; let us learn, and let us flee them. For even in the church we see such a custom prevailing amongst the generality, and men giving diligence to come in clean garments, and to have their hands washed; but how to present a clean soul to God, they make no account.

 And this I say, not forbidding them to wash hands or mouth; but willing men so to wash as is meet, not with water only, but instead of water, with all virtues. For the filth of the mouth is evil speaking, blasphemy, reviling, angry words, filthy talking, laughter, jesting: if then thou art conscious to thyself of uttering none of them, neither of being defiled with this filth, draw near with confidence; but if thou hast times out of number received these stains, why dost thou labor in vain, washing thy tongue indeed with water, but bearing about on it such deadly and hurtful filth? For tell me, hadst thou dung on thy hands, and mire, wouldest thou indeed venture to pray? By no means. And yet this were no hurt; but that is ruin. How then art thou reverential in the different things, but in the forbidden remiss?

 What then? should not we pray? saith one. We should indeed, but not while defiled, and having upon us mire of that sort.

 “What then, if I have been overtaken?” saith one. Cleanse thyself. “How, and in what way?” Weep, groan, give alms, apologize to him that is affronted, reconcile him to thyself hereby, wipe clean thy tongue, lest thou provoke God more grievously. For so if one had filled his hands with dung, and then should lay hold of thy feet, entreating thee, far from hearing him, thou wouldest rather spurn him with thy foot; how then durst thou in such sort draw nigh to God? Since in truth the tongue is the hand of them that pray, and by it we lay hold on the knees of God. Defile it not therefore, lest to thee also He say, “Though ye make many prayers, I will not hearken.”30 Yea, and “in the power of the tongue are death and life;”31 and, “By thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.”32

 I bid thee then watch thy tongue more than the apple of thine eye. The tongue is a royal steed. If then thou put a bridle on it, and teach it to pace orderly, the King will rest and take His seat thereon; but if thou suffer it to rush about unbridled and leap wantonly, it becomes a beast for the devil and bad spirits to ride on. And while thou, fresh from the company of thine own wife, darest not pray, although this is no blame at all; dost thou lift up thine hands, fresh from reviling and insult, which brings after it no less than hell, before thou hast well cleansed thyself? And how dost thou not shudder? tell me. Hast thou not heard Paul, saying, “Marriage is honorable, and the bed undefiled?”33 But if on rising from the undefiled bed, thou darest not draw nigh in prayer, how dost thou coming from the bed of the devil call on that awful and terrible name? For it is truly the devil’s bed, to wallow in insults and reviling. And like some wicked adulterer, wrath dailies with us in great delight, casting into us deadly seed, and making us give birth to diabolical enmity, and doing all things in a way opposite to marriage. For whereas marriage causes the two to become one flesh, wrath severs into many parts them that were united, and cleaves and cuts in pieces the very soul.

 That thou mayest therefore with confidence draw nigh to God, receive not wrath, when it comes in upon thee, and desires to be with thee, but drive it away like a mad dog. (Chrysostom, Homily 51 on Matthew).


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My Notes on 1 Kings 8:22-23, 27-30 (with a few connections to today’s Gospel-Mark 7:1-13)

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 4, 2012

1Ki 8:22  And Solomon stood before the altar of the Lord, in the sight of the assembly of Israel, and spread forth his hands towards heaven,

And Solomon stood before the altar of the Lord. Verse 54 of this chapter presupposes that before actually uttering the prayer he fell to his knees. In the parallel account in 2 Chron 6 it is stated that Solomon did kneel down before his prayer. We also see that this took place before the altar in the court of the congregation, on a bronze platform Solomon had had erected for the occasion.

Catechism of the Catholic Church: The Temple of Jerusalem, the house of prayer that David wanted to build, will be the work of his son, Solomon. The prayer at the dedication of the Temple relies on God’s promise and covenant, on the active presence of his name among his People, recalling his mighty deeds at the Exodus( 1Kings 8:10-61). The king lifts his hands toward heaven and begs the Lord, on his own behalf, on behalf of the entire people, and of the generations yet to come, for the forgiveness of their sins and for their daily needs, so that the nations may know that He is the only God and that the heart of his people may belong wholly and entirely to him. (1997 Catechism of the Catholic Church 2580)

1Ki 8:23  And said: Lord God of Israel, there is no God like thee, in heaven above, or on the earth beneath: who keepest covenant and mercy with thy servants, that have walked before thee with all their heart:

The uniqueness of God and the reference to the servants walking before him (i.e., keeping his commands) with all their hearts reflects the theology of Deuteronomy 4:32-40~Ask of the days of old, that have been before thy time from the day that God created man upon the earth, from one end of heaven to the other end thereof, if ever there was done the like thing, or it hath been known at any time, That a people should hear the voice of God speaking out of the midst of fire, as thou hast heard, and lived: If a god ever did so as to go, and take to himself a nation out of the midst of nations by temptations, signs, and wonders, by fight, and a strong hand, and stretched out arm, and horrible visions according to all the things that the Lord your God did for you in Egypt, before thy eyes. That thou mightest know that the Lord he is God, and there is no other besides him. From heaven he made thee to hear his voice, that he might teach thee. And upon earth he shewed thee his exceeding great fire, and thou didst hear his words out of the midst of the fire, Because he loved thy fathers, and chose their seed after them. And he brought thee out of Egypt, going before thee with his great power, To destroy at thy coming very great nations, and stronger than thou art, and to bring thee in, and give thee their land for a possession, as thou seest at this present day. Know therefore this day, and think in thy heart that the Lord he is God in heaven above, and in the earth beneath, and there is no other. Keep his precepts and commandments, which I command thee: that it may be well with thee, and thy children after thee, and thou mayst remain a long time upon the land, which the Lord thy God will give thee.

Concerning the uniqueness of God see Exodus 15:11; Deut 4:39; 2 Sam 7:22; Psalm 86:8.

Who keepest covenant and mercy with thy servants. An allusion to the fact that God has kept his promises to David, Solomon’s father, and to his more remote fathers (ancestors). See the references of Solomon in verses 20-21. In today’s Gospel (Mark 7:1-13), the Scribes and Pharisees will be condemned for not fulfilling their obligations to God or parents by thwarting the command to honor father and mother.

1Ki 8:27  Is it then to be thought that God should indeed dwell upon earth? for if heaven, and the heavens of heavens, cannot contain thee, how much less this house which I have built?

Is it then to be thought that God should indeed dwell upon earth?…how much less this house which I have built? Seeks to prevent a too crass interpretation of what it means that Solomon has built a house for God to dwell in (verse 13). God (or his name)  may be said to dwell in the temple but he is not confined by it. Neither is God confined by heaven, and the heaven of heavens, yet, in verse 30, he still speaks of God’s dwelling in heaven.  It is precisely because God’s presence is not so localized that he can threaten to repudiate the temple in his warning to Solomon (1 Kings 9:7); cause his glory to leave the temple (Ezekiel 10:18); and warn his people not to become presumptuous concerning it, sinning with impunity and thinking that the Jerusalem and its temple were inviolable: Her princes have judged for bribes: and her priests have taught for hire, and her prophets divined for money: and they leaned upon the Lord, saying: Is not the Lord in the midst of us? no evil shall come among us. Therefore because of you, Sion shall be ploughed as a field, and Jerusalem shall be as a heap of stones, and the mountain of the temple as the high places of the forests (Micah 3:11-12). Thus saith the Lord of hosts the God of Israel: Make your ways and your doings good: and I will dwell with you in this place. Trust not in lying words, saying: The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, it is the temple of the Lord….Behold you put your trust in lying words, which shall not profit you: to steal, to murder, to commit adultery, to swear falsely, to offer to Baalim, and to go after strange gods, which you know not. And you have come, and stood before me in this house, in which my name is called upon, and have said: We are delivered, because we have done all these abominations. Is this house then, in which my name hath been called upon, in your eyes become a den of robbers? I, I am he: I have seen it, saith the Lord. Go ye to my place in Shilo, where my name dwelt from the beginning: and see what I did to it for the wickedness of my people Israel: And now, because you have done all these works, saith the Lord: and I have spoken to you rising up early, and speaking, and you have not heard: and I have called you, and you have not answered: I will do to this house, in which my name is called upon, and in which you trust, and to the place which I have given you and your fathers, as I did to Shilo. And I will cast you away from before my face, as I have cast away all your brethren, the whole seed of Ephraim (see Jer 7:1-15).

In today’s Gospel reading (Mark 7:1-13) the Scribes and Pharisees will be denounced by our Lord for trusting too much in their human assumptions about what is dedicated to God.

1Ki 8:28  But have regard to the prayer of thy servant, and to his supplications, O Lord, my God: hear the hymn and the prayer, which thy servant prayeth before thee this day:
1Ki 8:29  That thy eyes may be open upon this house, night and day: upon the house of which thou hast said: My name shall be there: that thou mayst hearken to the prayer which thy servant prayeth, in this place to thee:
1Ki 8:30  That thou mayst hearken to the supplication of thy servant, and of thy people Israel, whatsoever they shall pray for in this place, and hear them in the place of thy dwelling in heaven; and when thou hearest, shew them mercy

Solomon prays that God will hear the prayer he is currently uttering (vs 28). He prays that God will maintain his vigilance towards his (solomon’s) own prayer, ever ready to hear and respond (verse 29, and see Psalm 121:3-4). Finally, he prays for himself and the people that God will show them mercy when they pray. As the verse which follow make clear, he has in mind prayers after sin has been committed. In keeping with today’s Gospel we can say that those in need must keep their hearts near to God, who condescends to be near to us, lest we hear the word of judgement: Well did Isaias prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me (Mark 7:6).

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My Notes on 1 Kings 8:1-7, 9-13

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 4, 2012

Background~In 2 Samuel 7, David, who had built himself a fine house, began to reflect upon the fact that while he was dwelling in a house (i.e., a human habitation) of cedar, the ark of God is lodged in skins, i.e., the tent of meeting constructed during the Exodus (2 Sam 7:2. for ark and tent see Ex 25-26). It was his desire to build a house (temple) for God, but God told him through the prophet Nathan that: The Lord foretelleth to thee, that the Lord will make thee a house (royal dynasty). And when thy days shall be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will raise up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy loins, and I will establish his kingdom.  He shall build a house (temple) to my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom fore ever (2 Sam 7:11-13). Towards this end, King David acquired a plot of land and began amassing building material for the temple’s construction which his son was to undertake  (see 1 Chron 21-22). Solomon’s own preparations for the building of the temple, along with the narrative of its construction and furnishing, was the subject matter of 1 Kings 5:15-7:51.

1Ki 8:1  Then all the ancients of Israel, with the princes of the tribes, and the heads of the families of the children of Israel, were assembled to king Solomon, in Jerusalem: that they might carry the ark of the covenant of the Lord, out of the city of David, that is, out of Sion.

In many ways this narrative concerning Solomon parallels David’s  two attempt to bring the Ark up to Jerusalem. The first attempt was unsuccessful (6:1-10), the second successful (2 Sam 6:11-19). This raises some narrative tension. Will this endeavor be successful?

Ancients…princes…heads of families were assembled to Solomon. The rest of the verse gives the reason. Of note here, however, is the fact that the leaders were assembled to Solomon. The RSV is more explicit: Then Solomon assembled all the elders, &c. Is this meant to contrast with the beginning of verse 2?: And all Israel (i.e., the common people) assembled themselves to king Solomon. As we have seen several times in the daily Mass readings from Mark, and will see again tomorrow, there are some people who deliberately separate themselves in various ways from Jesus (the readings for tomorrow include Mark 7:1-13).

1Ki 8:2  And all Israel assembled themselves to king Solomon, on the festival day, in the month of Ethanim, the same is the seventh month.

On the festival day, in the month of Ethanim. As the text goes on to note, this was the seventh month. The Hebrews normally refer to this as the month of Tishri, and why the older Canaanite name is employed here is unknown to me.  The festival day is almost certainly a reference to the Feast of Tabernacles See Deut 16:13-115; Deut 26:1-11).

1Ki 8:3  And all the ancients of Israel came, and the priests took up the ark,
1Ki 8:4  And carried the ark of the Lord, and the tabernacle of the covenant, and all the vessels of the sanctuary, that were in the tabernacle: and the priests and the Levites carried them.

Notice how careful the author is to state that the priests carried the ark, and priest and Levites the vessels, in distinction from the non-priestly ancients of Israel. See Num 1:49-54; Num 4:2-29; Deut 31:9, 25. In his first attempt to get the ark to Jerusalem, David had employed the use of a cart, nowhere allowed in the Law of Moses. In his second attempt, as 2 Sam 6:13 indicates, the ark was carried, presumably by priests, but the text isn’t explicit. 1 Chronicles 15 contains a parallel and much fuller account of this second attempt, and this fact is emphasized: Then David said: No one ought to carry the ark of God, but the Levites, whom the Lord hath chosen to carry it, and to minister unto himself for ever (1 Chron 15:2).  And he said to them (i.e., the priests): You that are the heads of the Levitical families, be sanctified with your brethren, and bring the ark of the Lord the God of Israel to the place, which is prepared for it: Lest as the Lord at first struck us, because you were not present, the same should now also come to pass, by our doing some thing against the law (1 Chron 15:12-13). David wished to avoid the tragedy of the first attempt (see 2 Sam 6:1-10). Solomon too, it appears, had learned his father’s lesson.

God is untouchable in the OT, and any presence near him, or contact with vessels dedicated to his service, was strictly regulated (see Ex 19:12; Num 3:38; Num 4:20). Who is able to stand before this holy LORD God? (1 Sam 6:20).  But in today’s Gospel we see things are different:  And whithersoever he entered, into villages, or cities, or country, they laid the sick in the streets, and besought him that they might touch if it were but the border of his garment: and as many as touched him were made whole (Mark 6:56).

1Ki 8:5  And king Solomon, and all the multitude of Israel, that were assembled unto him, went with him before the ark, and they sacrificed sheep and oxen, that could not be counted or numbered.

The first attempt of David and the people to bring the ark up to Jerusalem had been accompanied by great celebration: They played before the Lord on all manner of instruments made of wood, on harps and lutes and timbrels and cornets and cymbals (2 Sam 6:5), but (apparently) no sacrifices were offered on that occasion. The second, successful attempt by David was markedly different: there were with David seven choirs, and calves for victims. And when they that carried the ark of the Lord had gone six paces, he sacrificed and ox and a ram: And David danced with all his might before the Lord: and David was girded with a linen ephod. And David and all the louse of Israel brought the ark of the covenant of the Lord with joyful shouting, and with sound of trumpet (2 Sam 6:12-15). Notice how the author of 2 Samuel has, in this second account, sandwiched the sacrificial theme between the referencec to more general celebration (choirs, dancing, shouting with joy, trumpets).

1Ki 8:6  And tbe priests brought in the ark of the covenant of the Lord into its place, into the oracle of the temple, into the holy of holies, under the wings of the cherubims.

Note the fourfold use of the word into. Some versions translate unto. the repetition emphasizes the completion of the endeavor to transfer the ark.

Holy of holies. Translated in some bibles as “the most holy place.” This was the most sacred part of the Temple and, before it, the Tabernacle, or tent, which housed the ark during the exodus wanderings. the 1909 Catholic Dictionary states the following: “The innermost room of the Tabernacle and of the Temple of Jerusalem. The expression is a Hebrew idiom meaning “the most holy” thing or place. In the Tabernacle this inner room measured 10 x 10 cubits (about 15 x 15 feet) and was separated from the outer room, or holy place, by means of a veil, or portiere, of rich woven fabric, hanging from four pillars overlaid with gold and standing on sockets of silver. In Solomon’s, Zorobabel’s (Zerubabel’s), and Herod’s temples, the holy of holies was 20 cubits square and 20 high. No windows admitted light into it; it was entered into, at least in the first temple, by a double folding door of olive wood with cherubim carved upon it. Whether that door remained closed or open, a veil (2 Chron 3) maintained the separation of the two places. In the middle of the holy of holies of Solomon’s temple stood the Ark of the Covenant, overshadowed by the wings of the two colossal cherubim. As the Ark disappeared at the time of the ruin of that temple (586 B.C.), the holy of holies of Zorobabel’s and Herod’s temples contained nothing. The high priest entered into this inner recess only once a year, on the Day of Atonement, to offer incense and the blood of the bullock and of the goat destined to atone for himself, his house, and the people.”

1Ki 8:7  For the cherubims spread forth their wings over the place of the ark, and covered the ark, and the staves thereof above.

See 1 Kings 6:23-28.

Ki 8:9  Now in the ark there was nothing else but the two tables of stone, which Moses put there at Horeb, when the Lord made a covenant with the children of Israel, when they came out of the land of Egypt.

Now in the ark there was nothing else but the two tables of stone &c. According to Hebrew tradition other items were placed in the ark (see Heb 9:4).

Which Moses put there. See Exodus 25:16; Exodus 40:20,

1Ki 8:10  And it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the sanctuary, that a cloud filled the house of the Lord,
1Ki 8:11  And the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud: for the glory of the Lord had filled the house of the Lord.

These verses call to mind Exodus 40:34-35 (32-33 in some translations): The cloud covered the tabernacle of the testimony, and the glory of the Lord filled it.  Neither could Moses go into the tabernacle of the covenant, the cloud covering all things, and the majesty of the Lord shining, for the cloud had covered all. The event “testified to Yahweh’s acceptance of his new dwelling” (Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture).

1Ki 8:12  Then Solomon said: The Lord said that he would dwell in a cloud.

In Leviticus 16:2 we read: And he (God) commanded him (Moses), saying: Speak to Aaron thy brother, that he enter not at all into the sanctuary, which is within the veil before the propitiatory, with which the ark is covered, lest he die, (for I will appear in a cloud over the oracle). See also Exodus 19:9; Exodus 20:21; Deut 4:11.

1Ki 8:13  Building, I have built a house for thy dwelling, to be thy most firm throne for ever.

He here alludes to the fulfillment of the promises made to his father, David. This become clear in verses 14-21. But it also prepares for the ominous warning God will give Solomon in 1 Kings 9:1-9

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My Notes on 1 Kings 3:4-13

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 2, 2012

Background on 1 Kings 3:4-13~Today’s reading is from a slightly larger immediate context, 3:4-15. This passage describes what Jerome T. Walsh in his Commentary on 1 Kings terms “Solomon’s first encounter with God.”  Walsh suggests that the passage has a reverse parallel structure:

A1. Solomon went to Gibeon to offers sacrifice (3:4).

B1. God appears to Solomon in a dream (3:5a).

C1. Solomon addresses a prayer to God (3:5b-9).

C2. God responds to Solomon (3:10-14).

B2. Solomon awakes and realizes he had a dream (3:15a).

A2. Solomon goes up to Jerusalem and offers sacrifice (3:15b).

1Ki 3:4  He went therefore to Gabaon (Gibeon), to sacrifice there: for that was the great high place: a thousand victims for holocausts, did Solomon offer upon that altar, in Gabaon (Gibeon).

Gibeon is about six miles to the northwest of Jerusalem at a site now called “the Mount of the Prophet Samuel,” and it appears that from very early times a shrine had been maintained there by the Gibeonites. Apparently, not long after the conquest, it became a site for Israelite worship. In and of itself this appears not to have been sinful as long as “there was no temple built to the name of the Lord” (1 Kings 3:2). The law of Deuteronomy however laid down that once a temple had been built it was to become the one sanctuary: “In the place, which the Lord your God shall choose, that his name may be therein. Thither shall you bring all the things that I command you, holocausts, and victims, and tithes, and the firstfruits of your hands: and whatsoever is the choicest in the gifts which you shall vow to the Lord. There shall you feast before the Lord your God, you and your sons and your daughters, your menservants and maidservants, and the Levite that dwelleth in your cities. For he hath no other part and possession among you.  Beware lest thou offer thy holocausts in every place that thou shalt see: But in the place which the Lord shall choose in one of thy tribes shalt thou offer sacrifices, and shalt do all that I command thee” (Deut 12:11-14).

Solomon has been chosen to build the temple (house) envisioned by Deuteronomy (see 2 Sam 7:12-13, 1 Kings 6:1-38; 7:13-51; 8:1-66). This makes Walsh’s outline of 1 Kings 3:4-15 given above rather instructive. The passage opens with Solomon offering sacrifice at Gibeon and ends with him offering sacrifice at Jerusalem, the place where the temple would be built. This foreshadows the coming transfer from many sanctuaries to one.

1Ki 3:5  And the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night, saying: Ask what thou wilt that I should give thee.

And the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream. Dream revelations are fairly common in the Bible (Gen 20:3; 28:12, 37; Judges 7:13-16; Zechariah and Daniel, passim; Matt 1:18-21; 2:12-13, 9)

Ask what thou wilt. Later in the history of the davidic dynasty God made a somewhat similar offer to king Ahaz who showed himself a fool, feigning piety (Isaiah 7:10-25). Later still, Herod offered Salome whatever she asked, with grisly consequences (Mark 6:22-28).

1Ki 3:6  And Solomon said: Thou hast shewed great mercy to thy servant David, my father, even as he walked before thee in truth, and justice, and an upright heart with thee: and thou hast kept thy great mercy for him, and hast given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day.
1Ki 3:7  And now, O Lord God, thou hast made thy servant king instead of David, my father: and I am but a child, and know not how to go out and come in;
1Ki 3:8  And thy servant is in the midst of the people which thou hast chosen, an immense people, which cannot be numbered nor counted for multitude.

Solomon begins by reciting a history of God’s merciful dealings with, and blessings upon, his father David (verse 6). He caps this part of his recitation of with the words, And now, O Lord God, thou hast made thy servant king instead of David, my father, subtly indicating that this too was for David’s sake.

He then introduces a some problems: 

1. Solomon pleads youth (I am but a child) and inexperience, claiming he knows not how to go out and come in, a Hebraism for not knowing how one should act (see the NAB translation).  In saying this he is contrasting himself with his father who walked before thee (God) in truth, and justice, and an upright heart (verse 6).

2. The immensity of the task:  And thy servant is in the midst of the people which thou hast chosen, an immense people, which cannot be numbered nor counted for multitude (verse 8).

This leads to his request from God:

1Ki 3:9  Give therefore to thy servant an understanding heart, to judge thy people, and discern between good and evil. For who shall be able to judge this people, thy people, which is so numerous?

He asks for an understanding heart so that he might exercise right judgement and the ability to discern between good and evil. This corresponds to the upright heart of his father David mentioned in verse 6. Only in this way can he deal with the numerous people he spoke of in verse 8.

1Ki 3:10  And the word was pleasing to the Lord, that Solomon had asked such a thing.

And the word was pleasing to the Lord. The reason becomes apparent in what follows.

1Ki 3:11  And the Lord said to Solomon: Because thou hast asked this thing, and hast not asked for thyself long life nor riches, nor the lives of thy enemies, but hast asked for thyself wisdom to discern jndgment;
1Ki 3:12  Behold I have done for thee according to thy words, and have given thee a wise and understanding heart, in so much that there hath been no one like thee before thee, nor shall arise after thee

The things he might have asked for and which are mentioned in verse 11-long life, riches, victory over enemies-are not sinful, but Solomon has asked for something better a wise and understanding heart; and it is this which the Lord found pleasing. Not only has God given Solomon what he has asked for, but he has done it abundantly: in so much that there hath been no one like thee before thee, nor shall arise after thee.

1Ki 3:13  Yea, and the things also which thou didst not ask, I have given thee; to wit, riches and glory: so that no one hath been like thee among the kings in all days heretofore.

So pleased was God with Solomon’s request that the things he didn’t ask for will be his, with one important difference. In place of the life of his enemies Solomon will be given gloryRiches is self-explanatory.

1Ki 3:14  And if thou wilt walk in my ways, and keep my precepts and my commandments, as thy father walked, I will lengthen thy days.

I will lengthen thy days. He will be given another one of the things he didn’t ask for, a long life. But note the conditions that precede the promise. As the story of Solomon unfolds it becomes obvious that positive nature of “Solomon’s first encounter with God” was not to last. His understanding heart would turn from the Lord (1 Kings 11:9). He ceases to keep the precepts and commandments of God (1 Kings 11:11). All of this we learn in his last encounter with God. Of course, the reading was chosen for today in order to highlight the fact that seeking God’s wisdom, manifested in his teaching, is pleasing to God. As the responsorial antiphon state pleads: Lord, teach me your statutes. Without that teaching we are like sheep without a shepherd (Gospel reading, Mark 6:30-34).

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