King Solomon (Samuel-Kings)

1 Kings 1–11 (selections)

Biblical Period

Solomon Becomes King

Chapter 1

1King David was now old, advanced in years; and though they covered him with bedclothes, he never felt warm. 2His courtiers said to him, “Let a young virgin be sought for my lord the king, to wait upon Your Majesty and be his attendant; and let her lie in your bosom, and my lord the king will be warm.” 3So they looked for a beautiful girl throughout the territory of Israel. They found Abishag the Shunammite and brought her to the king. 4The girl was exceedingly beautiful. She became the king’s attendant and waited upon him; but the king was not intimate with her.

5Now Adonijah son of Haggith went about boasting, “I will be king!” He provided himself with chariots and horses, and an escort of fifty outrunners. 6His father had never scolded him: “Why did you do that?” He was the one born after Absalom and, like him, was very handsome.

7He conferred with Joab son of Zeruiah and with the priest Abiathar, and they supported Adonijah; 8but the priest Zadok, Benaiah son of Jehoiada, the prophet Nathan, Shimei and Rei, and David’s own fighting men did not side with Adonijah. 9Adonijah made a sacrificial feast of sheep, oxen, and fatlings at the Zoheleth stone which is near En-rogel; he invited all his brother princes and all the king’s courtiers of the tribe of Judah; 10but he did not invite the prophet Nathan, or Benaiah, or the fighting men, or his brother Solomon.

11Then Nathan said to Bathsheba, Solomon’s mother, “You must have heard that Adonijah son of Haggith has assumed the kingship without the knowledge of our lord David. 12Now take my advice, so that you may save your life and the life of your son Solomon. 13Go immediately to King David and say to him, ‘Did not you, O lord king, swear to your maidservant: “Your son Solomon shall succeed me as king, and he shall sit upon my throne”? Then why has Adonijah become king?’ 14While you are still there talking with the king, I will come in after you and confirm your words.”

15So Bathsheba went to the king in his chamber.— The king was very old, and Abishag the Shunammite was waiting on the king.—16Bathsheba bowed low in homage to the king; and the king asked, “What troubles you?” 17She answered him, “My lord, you yourself swore to your maidservant by the Lord your God: ‘Your son Solomon shall succeed me as king, and he shall sit upon my throne.’ 18Yet now Adonijah has become king, and you, my lord the king, know nothing about it. 19He has prepared a sacrificial feast of a great many oxen, fatlings, and sheep, and he has invited all the king’s sons and Abiathar the priest and Joab commander of the army; but he has not invited your servant Solomon. 20And so the eyes of all Israel are upon you, O lord king, to tell them who shall succeed my lord the king on the throne. 21Otherwise, when my lord the king lies down with his fathers, my son Solomon and I will be regarded as traitors.”

22She was still talking to the king when the prophet Nathan arrived. 23They announced to the king, “The prophet Nathan is here,” and he entered the king’s presence. Bowing low to the king with his face to the ground, 24Nathan said, “O lord king, you must have said, ‘Adonijah shall succeed me as king and he shall sit upon my throne.’ 25For he has gone down today and prepared a sacrificial feast of a great many oxen, fatlings, and sheep. He invited all the king’s sons and the army officers and Abiathar the priest. At this very moment they are eating and drinking with him, and they are shouting, ‘Long live King Adonijah!’ 26But he did not invite me your servant, or the priest Zadok, or Benaiah son of Jehoiada, or your servant Solomon. 27Can this decision have come from my lord the king, without your telling your servant who is to succeed to the throne of my lord the king?”

28King David’s response was: “Summon Bathsheba!” She entered the king’s presence and stood before the king. 29And the king took an oath, saying, “As the Lord lives, who has rescued me from every trouble: 30The oath I swore to you by the Lord, the God of Israel, that your son Solomon should succeed me as king and that he should sit upon my throne in my stead, I will fulfill this very day!” 31Bathsheba bowed low in homage to the king with her face to the ground, and she said, “May my lord King David live forever!”

32Then King David said, “Summon to me the priest Zadok, the prophet Nathan, and Benaiah son of Jehoiada.” When they came before the king, 33the king said to them, “Take my loyal soldiers, and have my son Solomon ride on my mule and bring him down to Gihon. 34Let the priest Zadok and the prophet Nathan anoint him there king over Israel, whereupon you shall sound the horn and shout, ‘Long live King Solomon!’ 35Then march up after him, and let him come in and sit on my throne. For he shall succeed me as king; him I designate to be ruler of Israel and Judah.” 36Benaiah son of Jehoiada spoke up and said to the king, “Amen! And may the Lord, the God of my lord the king, so ordain. 37As the Lord was with my lord the king, so may He be with Solomon; and may He exalt his throne even higher than the throne of my lord King David.”

38Then the priest Zadok, and the prophet Nathan, and Benaiah son of Jehoiada went down with the Cherethites and the Pelethites. They had Solomon ride on King David’s mule and they led him to Gihon. 39The priest Zadok took the horn of oil from the Tent and anointed Solomon. They sounded the horn and all the people shouted, “Long live King Solomon!” 40All the people then marched up behind him, playing on flutes and making merry till the earth was split open by the uproar.

41Adonijah and all the guests who were with him, who had just finished eating, heard it. When Joab heard the sound of the horn, he said, “Why is the city in such an uproar?” 42He was still speaking when the priest Jonathan son of Abiathar arrived. “Come in,” said Adonijah. “You are a worthy man, and you surely bring good news.” 43But Jonathan replied to Adonijah, “Alas, our lord King David has made Solomon king! 44The king sent with him the priest Zadok and the prophet Nathan and Benaiah son of Jehoiada, and the Cherethites and Pelethites. They had him ride on the king’s mule, 45and the priest Zadok and the prophet Nathan anointed him king at Gihon. Then they came up from there making merry, and the city went into an uproar. That’s the noise you heard. 46Further, Solomon seated himself on the royal throne; 47further, the king’s courtiers came to congratulate our lord King David, saying, ‘May God make the renown of Solomon even greater than yours, and may He exalt his throne even higher than yours!’ And the king bowed low on his couch. 48And further, this is what the king said, ‘Praised be the Lord, the God of Israel who has this day provided a successor to my throne, while my own eyes can see it.’” 49Thereupon, all of Adonijah’s guests rose in alarm and each went his own way.

50Adonijah, in fear of Solomon, went at once [to the Tent] and grasped the horns of the altar. 51It was reported to Solomon: “Adonijah is in fear of King Solomon and has grasped the horns of the altar, saying, ‘Let King Solomon first swear to me that he will not put his servant to the sword.’” 52Solomon said, “If he behaves worthily, not a hair of his head shall fall to the ground; but if he is caught in any offense, he shall die.” 53So King Solomon sent and had him taken down from the altar. He came and bowed before King Solomon, and Solomon said to him, “Go home.”

Chapter 2

1When David’s life was drawing to a close, he instructed his son Solomon as follows: 2“I am going the way of all the earth; be strong and show yourself a man. 3Keep the charge of the Lord your God, walking in His ways and following His laws, His commandments, His rules, and His admonitions as recorded in the Teaching of Moses, in order that you may succeed in whatever you undertake and wherever you turn. 4Then the Lord will fulfill the promise that He made concerning me: ‘If your descendants are scrupulous in their conduct, and walk before Me faithfully, with all their heart and soul, your line on the throne of Israel shall never end!’

5“Further, you know what Joab son of Zeruiah did to me, what he did to the two commanders of Israel’s forces, Abner son of Ner and Amasa son of Jether: he killed them, shedding blood of war in peacetime, staining the girdle of his loins and the sandals on his feet with blood of war. 6So act in accordance with your wisdom, and see that his white hair does not go down to Sheol in peace.

7“But deal graciously with the sons of Barzillai the Gileadite, for they befriended me when I fled from your brother Absalom; let them be among those that eat at your table.

8“You must also deal with Shimei son of Gera, the Benjaminite from Bahurim. He insulted me outrageously when I was on my way to Mahanaim; but he came down to meet me at the Jordan, and I swore to him by the Lord: ‘I will not put you to the sword.’ 9So do not let him go unpunished; for you are a wise man and you will know how to deal with him and send his gray hair down to Sheol in blood.”

10So David slept with his fathers, and he was buried in the City of David. 11The length of David’s reign over Israel was forty years: he reigned seven years in Hebron, and he reigned thirty-three years in Jerusalem. 12And Solomon sat upon the throne of his father David, and his rule was firmly established.

13Adonijah son of Haggith came to see Bathsheba, Solomon’s mother. She said, “Do you come with friendly intent?” “Yes,” he replied; 14and he continued, “I would like to have a word with you.” “Speak up,” she said. 15Then he said, “You know that the kingship was rightly mine and that all Israel wanted me to reign. But the kingship passed on to my brother; it came to him by the will of the Lord. 16And now I have one request to make of you; do not refuse me.” She said, “Speak up.” 17He replied, “Please ask King Solomon—for he won’t refuse you—to give me Abishag the Shunammite as wife.” 18“Very well,” said Bathsheba, “I will speak to the king in your behalf.”

19So Bathsheba went to King Solomon to speak to him about Adonijah. The king rose to greet her and bowed down to her. He sat on his throne; and he had a throne placed for the queen mother, and she sat on his right. 20She said, “I have one small request to make of you, do not refuse me.” He responded, “Ask, Mother; I shall not refuse you.” 21Then she said, “Let Abishag the Shunammite be given to your brother Adonijah as wife.” 22The king replied to his mother, “Why request Abishag the Shunammite for Adonijah? Request the kingship for him! For he is my older brother, and the priest Abiathar and Joab son of Zeruiah are on his side.”

23Thereupon, King Solomon swore by the Lord, saying, “So may God do to me and even more, if broaching this matter does not cost Adonijah his life! 24Now, as the Lord lives, who has established me and set me on the throne of my father David and who has provided him with a house, as he promised, Adonijah shall be put to death this very day!” 25And Solomon instructed Benaiah son of Jehoiada, who struck Adonijah down; and so he died.

26To the priest Abiathar, the king said, “Go to your estate at Anathoth! You deserve to die, but I shall not put you to death at this time, because you carried the Ark of my Lord God before my father David and because you shared all the hardships that my father endured.” 27So Solomon dismissed Abiathar from his office of priest of the Lord—thus fulfilling what the Lord had spoken at Shiloh regarding the house of Eli.

28When the news reached Joab, he fled to the Tent of the Lord and grasped the horns of the altar—for Joab had sided with Adonijah, though he had not sided with Absalom. 29King Solomon was told that Joab had fled to the Tent of the Lord and that he was there by the altar; so Solomon sent Benaiah son of Jehoiada, saying, “Go and strike him down.” 30Benaiah went to the Tent of the Lord and said to him, “Thus said the king: Come out!” “No!” he replied; “I will die here.” Benaiah reported back to the king that Joab had answered thus and thus, 31and the king said, “Do just as he said; strike him down and bury him, and remove guilt from me and my father’s house for the blood of the innocent that Joab has shed. 32Thus the Lord will bring his blood guilt down upon his own head, because, unbeknown to my father, he struck down with the sword two men more righteous and honorable than he—Abner son of Ner, the army commander of Israel, and Amasa son of Jether, the army commander of Judah. 33May the guilt for their blood come down upon the head of Joab and his descendants forever, and may good fortune from the Lord be granted forever to David and his descendants, his house and his throne.” 34So Benaiah son of Jehoiada went up and struck him down. And he was buried at his home in the wilderness. 35In his place, the king appointed Benaiah son of Jehoiada over the army, and in place of Abiathar, the king appointed the priest Zadok.

36Then the king summoned Shimei and said to him, “Build yourself a house in Jerusalem and stay there— do not ever go out from there anywhere else. 37On the very day that you go out and cross the Wadi Kidron, you can be sure that you will die; your blood shall be on your own head.” 38“That is fair,” said Shimei to the king, “your servant will do just as my lord the king has spoken.” And for a long time, Shimei remained in Jerusalem.

39Three years later, two slaves of Shimei ran away to King Achish son of Maacah of Gath. Shimei was told, “Your slaves are in Gath.” 40Shimei thereupon saddled his ass and went to Achish in Gath to claim his slaves; and Shimei returned from Gath with his slaves. 41Solomon was told that Shimei had gone from Jerusalem to Gath and back, 42and the king summoned Shimei and said to him, “Did I not adjure you by the Lord and warn you, ‘On the very day that you leave and go anywhere else, you can be sure that you will die,’ and did you not say to me, ‘It is fair; I accept’? 43Why did you not abide by the oath before the Lord and by the orders which I gave you?” 44The king said further to Shimei, “You know all the wrong, which you remember very well, that you did to my father David. Now the Lord brings down your wrongdoing upon your own head. 45But King Solomon shall be blessed, and the throne of David shall be established before the Lord forever.”

46The king gave orders to Benaiah son of Jehoiada and he went out and struck Shimei down; and so he died.

Thus the kingdom was secured in Solomon’s hands.

Solomon is Granted Wisdom

Chapter 3

1Solomon allied himself by marriage with Pharaoh king of Egypt. He married Pharaoh’s daughter and brought her to the City of David [to live there] until he had finished building his palace, and the House of the Lord, and the walls around Jerusalem.

2The people, however, continued to offer sacrifices at the open shrines, because up to that time no house had been built for the name of the Lord. 3And Solomon, though he loved the Lord and followed the practices of his father David, also sacrificed and offered at the shrines.

4The king went to Gibeon to sacrifice there, for that was the largest shrine; on that altar Solomon presented a thousand burnt offerings. 5At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night; and God said, “Ask, what shall I grant you?” 6Solomon said, “You dealt most graciously with Your servant my father David, because he walked before You in faithfulness and righteousness and in integrity of heart. You have continued this great kindness to him by giving him a son to occupy his throne, as is now the case. 7And now, O Lord my God, You have made Your servant king in place of my father David; but I am a young lad, with no experience in leadership. 8Your servant finds himself in the midst of the people You have chosen, a people too numerous to be numbered or counted. 9Grant, then, Your servant an understanding mind to judge Your people, to distinguish between good and bad; for who can judge this vast people of Yours?”

10The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this. 11And God said to him, “Because you asked for this—you did not ask for long life, you did not ask for riches, you did not ask for the life of your enemies, but you asked for discernment in dispensing justice— 12I now do as you have spoken. I grant you a wise and discerning mind; there has never been anyone like you before, nor will anyone like you arise again. 13And I also grant you what you did not ask for—both riches and glory all your life—the like of which no king has ever had. 14And I will further grant you long life, if you will walk in My ways and observe My laws and commandments, as did your father David.”

15Then Solomon awoke: it was a dream! He went to Jerusalem, stood before the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord, and sacrificed burnt offerings and presented offerings of well-being; and he made a banquet for all his courtiers.

16Later two prostitutes came to the king and stood before him. 17The first woman said, “Please, my lord! This woman and I live in the same house; and I gave birth to a child while she was in the house. 18On the third day after I was delivered, this woman also gave birth to a child. We were alone; there was no one else with us in the house, just the two of us in the house. 19During the night this woman’s child died, because she lay on it. 20She arose in the night and took my son from my side while your maidservant was asleep, and laid him in her bosom; and she laid her dead son in my bosom. 21When I arose in the morning to nurse my son, there he was, dead; but when I looked at him closely in the morning, it was not the son I had borne.”

22The other woman spoke up, “No, the live one is my son, and the dead one is yours!” But the first insisted, “No, the dead boy is yours; mine is the live one!” And they went on arguing before the king.

23The king said, “One says, ‘This is my son, the live one, and the dead one is yours’; and the other says, ‘No, the dead boy is yours, mine is the live one.’ 24So the king gave the order, “Fetch me a sword.” A sword was brought before the king, 25and the king said, “Cut the live child in two, and give half to one and half to the other.”

26But the woman whose son was the live one pleaded with the king, for she was overcome with compassion for her son. “Please, my lord,” she cried, “give her the live child; only don’t kill it!” The other insisted, “It shall be neither yours nor mine; cut it in two!” 27Then the king spoke up. “Give the live child to her,” he said, “and do not put it to death; she is its mother.”

28When all Israel heard the decision that the king had rendered, they stood in awe of the king; for they saw that he possessed divine wisdom to execute justice. [ . . . ]

Chapter 5

9God endowed Solomon with wisdom and discernment in great measure, with understanding as vast as the sands on the seashore. 10Solomon’s wisdom was greater than the wisdom of all the Kedemites and than all the wisdom of the Egyptians. 11He was the wisest of all men: [wiser] than Ethan the Ezrahite, and Heman, Chalkol, and Darda the sons of Mahol. His fame spread among all the surrounding nations. 12He composed three thousand proverbs, and his songs numbered one thousand and five. 13He discoursed about trees, from the cedar in Lebanon to the hyssop that grows out of the wall; and he discoursed about beasts, birds, creeping things, and fishes. 14Men of all peoples came to hear Solomon’s wisdom, [sent] by all the kings of the earth who had heard of his wisdom. [ . . . ]

Building the Temple*

Chapter 6

1In the four hundred and eightieth year after the Isra-elites left the land of Egypt, in the month of Ziv—that is, the second month—in the fourth year of his reign over Israel, Solomon began to build the House of the Lord. 2The House which King Solomon built for the Lord was 60 cubits long, 20 cubits wide, and 30 cubits high. 3The portico in front of the Great Hall of the House was 20 cubits long—along the width of the House—and 10 cubits deep to the front of the House. 4He made windows for the House, recessed and latticed. 5Against the outside wall of the House—the outside walls of the House enclosing the Great Hall and the Shrinea—he built a storied structure; and he made side chambers allaround. [ . . . ]

7When the House was built, only finished stones cut at the quarry were used, so that no hammer or ax or any iron tool was heard in the House while it was being built. [ . . . ]

15[H]e paneled the walls of the House on the inside with planks of cedar. He also overlaid the walls on the inside with wood, from the floor of the House to the ceiling. And he overlaid the floor of the House with planks of cypress. 16Twenty cubits from the rear of the House, he built [a partition] of cedar planks from the floor to the walls; he furnished its interior to serve as a shrine, as the Holy of Holies. [ . . . ] 18The cedar of the interior of the House had carvings of gourds and calyxes; it was all cedar, no stone was exposed. 19In the innermost part of the House, he fixed a Shrine in which to place the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant. [ . . . ] 22[ . . . ] the entire House was overlaid with gold; he even overlaid with gold the entire altar of the Shrine. And so the entire House was completed.

23In the Shrine he made two cherubim of olive wood, each 10 cubits high. 24[One] had a wing measuring 5 cubits and another wing measuring 5 cubits, so that the spread from wingtip to wingtip was 10 cubits; 25and the wingspread of the other cherub was also 10 cubits. The two cherubim had the same measurements and proportions: 26the height of the one cherub was 10 cubits, and so was that of the other cherub.

27He placed the cherubim inside the b-inner chamber.-bSince the wings of the cherubim were extended, a wing of the one touched one wall and a wing of the other touched the other wall, while their wings in the center of the chamber touched each other. 28He overlaid the cherubim with gold. 29All over the walls of the House, of both the inner area and the outer area, he carved reliefs of cherubim, palms, and calyxes, 30and he overlaid the floor of the House with gold, both the inner and the outer areas. [ . . . ]

37In the fourth year, in the month of Ziv, the foundations of the House were laid; 38and in the eleventh year, in the month of Bul—that is, the eighth month—the House was completed according to all its details and all its specifications. It took him seven years to build it. [ . . . ]

The Visit of the Queen of Sheba

Chapter 10

1The queen of Sheba heard of Solomon’s fame, c-through the name of the Lord,-cand she came to test him with hard questions. 2She arrived in Jerusalem with a very large retinue, with camels bearing spices, a great quantity of gold, and precious stones. When she came to Solomon, she asked him all that she had in mind. 3Solomon had answers for all her questions; there was nothing that the king did not know, [nothing] to which he could not give her an answer. 4When the queen of Sheba observed all of Solomon’s wisdom, and the palace he had built, 5the fare of his table, the seating of his courtiers, the service and attire of his attendants, and his wine service, d-and the burnt offerings that he offered at-dthe House of the Lord, she was left breathless.

6She said to the king, “The report I heard in my own land about you and your wisdom was true. 7But I did not believe the reports until I came and saw with my own eyes that not even the half had been told me; your wisdom and wealth surpass the reports that I heard. 8How fortunate are your men and how fortunate are these your courtiers, who are always in attendance on you and can hear your wisdom! 9Praised be the Lord your God, who delighted in you and set you on the throne of Israel. It is because of the Lord’s everlasting love for Israel that He made you king to administer justice and righteousness.”

10She presented the king with one hundred and twenty talents of gold, and a large quantity of spices, and precious stones. Never again did such a vast quantity of spices arrive as that which the queen of Sheba gave to King Solomon. [ . . . ]

Solomon’s Apostasy

Chapter 11

1King Solomon loved many foreign women in addition to Pharaoh’s daughter—Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Phoenician, and Hittite women, 2from the nations of which the Lord had said to the Israelites, “None of you shall join them and none of them shall join you,e lest they turn your heart away to follow their gods.” Such Solomon clung to and loved. 3He had seven hundred royal wives and three hundred concubines; and his wives turned his heart away. 4In his old age, his wives turned away Solomon’s heart after other gods, and he was not as wholeheartedly devoted to the Lord his God as his father David had been. 5Solomon followed Ashtoreth the goddess of the Phoenicians, and Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites.

6Solomon did what was displeasing to the Lord and did not remain loyal to the Lord like his father David. 7At that time, Solomon built a shrine for Chemosh the abomination of Moab on the hill near Jerusalem, and one for Molech the abomination of the Ammonites. 8And he did the same for all his foreign wives who offered and sacrificed to their gods.

9The Lord was angry with Solomon, because his heart turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice 10and had commanded him about this matter, not to follow other gods; he did not obey what the Lord had commanded. 11And the Lord said to Solomon, f-“Because you are guilty of this-f—you have not kept My covenant and the laws which I enjoined upon you—I will tear the kingdom away from you and give it to one of your servants. 12But, for the sake of your father David, I will not do it in your lifetime; I will tear it away from your son. 13However, I will not tear away the whole kingdom; I will give your son one tribe, for the sake of My servant David and for the sake of Jerusalem which I have chosen.” [ . . . ]

Solomon’s Death

41The other events of Solomon’s reign, and all his actions and his wisdom, are recorded in the book of the Annals of Solomon. 42The length of Solomon’s reign in Jerusalem, over all Israel, was forty years. 43Solomon slept with his fathers and was buried in the city of his father David; and his son Rehoboam succeeded him as king.


For artists’ reconstructions of the Temple, see “The Temple of Solomon.”

I.e., the inner sanctuary, designated in v. 16 and elsewhere as the “Holy of Holies.”

I.e., the Shrine.

The force of the phrase is uncertain.

2 Chronicles 9:4 reads “. . . and the procession with which he went up to.”

I.e., in marriage; cf. Deuteronomy 7:3–4; 23:4, 8–9.

Lit. “This is with you.”


Reprinted from Tanakh: The Holy Scriptures by permission of the University of Nebraska Press. Copyright 1985 by the Jewish Publication Society, Philadelphia.

Published in: The Posen Library of Jewish Culture and Civilization, vol. 1.

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