1 Kings 3


Solomon marries Pharaoh's daughter, 1, 2.

He serves God, and offers a thousand burnt-offerings upon one

altar, at Gibeon, 3, 4.

God appears to him in a dream at Gibeon; and asks what he shall

give him, 5.

He asks wisdom; with which God is well pleased, and promises to

give him not only that, but also riches and honour; and, if

obedient, long life, 6-14.

He comes back to Jerusalem; and offers burnt-offerings and

peace-offerings, and makes a feast for his servants, 15.

His judgment between the two harlots, 16-27.

He rises in the esteem of the people, 28.


Verse 1. Solomon made affinity with Pharaoh] This was no doubt a

political measure in order to strengthen his kingdom, and on the

same ground he continued his alliance with the king of Tyre; and

these were among the most powerful of his neighbours. But should

political considerations prevail over express laws of God? God had

strictly forbidden his people to form alliances with heathenish

women, lest they should lead their hearts away from him into

idolatry. Let us hear the law: Neither shalt thou make marriages

with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his

daughter shalt thou take unto thy son; for they will turn away thy

son from following me, &c. Ex 34:16; De 7:3, 4. Now Solomon

acted in direct opposition to these laws; and perhaps in this

alliance were sown those seeds of apostacy from God and goodness

in which he so long lived, and in which he so awfully died.

Those who are, at all hazards, his determinate apologists,

assume, 1. That Pharaoh's daughter must have been a proselyte to

the Jewish religion, else Solomon would not have married her. 2.

That God was not displeased with this match. 3. That the book of

Canticles, which is supposed to have been his epithalamium,

would not have found a place in the sacred canon had the spouse,

whom it all along celebrates, been at that time an idolatress. 4.

That it is certain we nowhere in Scripture find Solomon blamed for

this match. See Dodd.

Now to all this I answer, 1. We have no evidence that the

daughter of Pharaoh was a proselyte, no more than that her father

was a true believer. It is no more likely that he sought a

proselyte here than that he sought them among the Moabites,

Hittites, &c., from whom he took many wives. 2. If God's law be

positively against such matches, he could not possibly be pleased

with this breach of it in Solomon; but his law is positively

against them, therefore he was not pleased. 3. That the book of

Canticles being found in the sacred canon is, according to some

critics, neither a proof that the marriage pleased God, nor that

the book was written by Divine inspiration; much less that it

celebrates the love between Christ and his Church, or is at all

profitable for doctrine, for reproof, or for edification in

righteousness. 4. That Solomon is most expressly reproved in

Scripture for this very match, is to me very evident from the

following passages: DID NOT SOLOMON, king of Israel, SIN by these

things? Yet among many nations was there no king like him, who was

beloved of his God, and God made him king over all Israel;

nevertheless even him did outlandish women cause to sin;

Ne 13:26. Now it is certain that Pharaoh's daughter was an

outlandish woman; and although it be not expressly said that

Pharaoh's daughter is here intended, yet there is all reasonable

evidence that she is included; and, indeed, the words seem to

intimate that she is especially referred to. In 1Ki 3:3 it is

said, Solomon LOVED THE LORD, walking in the statutes of David;

and Nehemiah says, Did not Solomon, king of Israel, SIN BY THESE

THINGS, who WAS BELOVED of HIS GOD; referring, most probably, to

this early part of Solomon's history. But supposing that this is

not sufficient evidence that this match is spoken against in

Scripture, let us turn to 1Ki 11:1, 2, of this book, where the

cause of Solomon's apostasy is assigned; and there we read, But


OF PHARAOH, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians,

and Hittites: of the nations concerning which the Lord said unto

the children of Israel, Ye shall not go in unto them; neither

shall they come in unto you; for surely they will turn away your

heart after their gods: SOLOMON CLAVE UNTO THESE IN LOVE. Here the

marriage with Pharaoh's daughter is classed most positively with

the most exceptionable of his matrimonial and concubinal

alliances: as it no doubt had its predisposing share in an

apostacy the most unprecedented and disgraceful.

Should I even be singular, I cannot help thinking that the reign

of Solomon began rather inauspiciously: even a brother's blood

must be shed to cause him to sit securely on his throne, and a

most reprehensible alliance, the forerunner of many others of a

similar nature, was formed for the same purpose. But we must ever

be careful to distinguish between what God has commanded to be

done, and what was done through the vile passions and foolish

jealousies of men. Solomon had many advantages, and no man ever

made a worse use of them.

Verse 2. The people sacrificed in high places] Could there be

any sin in this, or was it unlawful till after the temple was

built? for prophets, judges, the kings which preceded Solomon, and

Solomon himself, sacrificed on high places, such as Gibeon,

Gilgal, Shiloh, Hebron, Kirjath-jearim, &c. But after the temple

was erected, it was sinful to offer sacrifices in any other place;

yet here it is introduced as being morally wrong, and it is

introduced, 1Ki 3:3, as being an exceptionable trait in the

character of Solomon. The explanation appears to be this: as the

ark and tabernacle were still in being, it was not right to

offer sacrifices but where they were; and wherever they were,

whether on a high place or a plain, there sacrifices might be

lawfully offered, previously to the building of the temple. And

the tabernacle was now at Gibeon, 2Ch 1:3. Possibly the

high places may be like those among the Hindoos, large raised-up

terraces, on which they place their gods when they bathe, anoint,

and worship them. Juggernaut and Krishnu have large terraces or

high places, on which they are annually exhibited. But there was

no idol in the above case.

Verse 5. The Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream] This was the

night after he had offered the sacrifices, (see 2Ch 1:7,) and

probably after he had earnestly prayed for wisdom; see Wisdom 7:7:

Wherefore I prayed, and understanding was given me: I called

upon God, and the spirit of wisdom came to me. If this were the

case, the dream might have been the consequence of his earnest

prayer for wisdom: the images of those things which occupy the

mind during the day are most likely to recur during the night; and

this, indeed, is the origin of the greater part of our dreams. But

this appears to have been supernatural.

Gregory Nyssen, speaking of different kinds of dreams, observes

that our organs and brain are not unlike a musical instrument;

while the strings of such instruments have their proper degree of

tension, they give, when touched, a harmonious sound, but as soon

as they are relaxed or screwed down, they give no sound at all.

During our waking hours, our senses, touched by our reason,

produce the most harmonious concert; but as soon as we are asleep,

the instrument is no longer capable of emitting any sound, unless

it happen that the remembrance of what passed during the day

returns and presents itself to the mind while we are asleep, and

so forms a dream; just as the strings of an instrument continue to

emit feeble sounds for some time after the musician has ceased to

strike them.-See GREG. NYSS. De opificio hominis, cap. xii., p.

77. Oper. vol. i., edit. Morell., Par. 1638.

This may account, in some measure, for common dreams: but even

suppose we should not allow that Solomon had been the day before

earnestly requesting the gift of wisdom from God, yet we might

grant that such a dream as this might be produced by the immediate

influence of God upon the soul. And if Solomon received his wisdom

by immediate inspiration from heaven, this was the kind of dream

that he had; a dream by which that wisdom was actually

communicated. But probably we need not carry this matter so much

into miracle: God might be the author of his extraordinary wisdom,

as he was the author of his extraordinary riches. Some say, "He

lay down as ignorant as other men, and yet arose in the morning

wiser than all the children of men." I think this is as credible

as that he lay down with a scanty revenue, and in the morning,

when he arose, found his treasury full. In short, God's especial

blessing brought him riches through the medium of his own care and

industry; as the inspiration of the Almighty gave him

understanding, while he gave his heart to seek and search out by

his wisdom, concerning all things under the sun, Ec 1:13. God

gave him the seeds of an extraordinary understanding, and, by much

study and research, they grew up under the Divine blessing, and

produced a plentiful harvest; but, alas! they did not continue to


Verse 7. I know not how to go out or come in.] I am just like an

infant learning to walk alone, and can neither go out nor come in

without help.

Verse 9. Give-an understanding heart to judge thy people] He did

not ask wisdom in general, but the true science of government.

This wisdom he sought, and this wisdom he obtained.

Verse 12. I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart] I

have given thee a capacious mind, one capable of knowing much:

make a proper use of thy powers, under the direction of my Spirit,

and thou shalt excel in wisdom all that have gone before thee;

neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee. But, query, Was

not all this conditional? If he should walk in his ways, and keep

his statutes and commandments, 1Ki 3:14. Was it not to depend

upon his proper use of initiatory inspirations? Did he ever

receive all this wisdom? Did not his unfaithfulness prevent the

fulfilment of the Divine purpose? Instead of being the wisest of

men, did he not become more brutish than any man? Did he not even

lose the knowledge of his Creator, and worship the abominations of

the Moabites, Zidonians, &c., &c.! And was not such idolatry a

proof of the grossest stupidity? How few proofs does his life give

that the gracious purpose of God was fulfilled in him! He received

much; but he would have received much more, had he been faithful

to the grace given. No character in the sacred writings

disappoints us more than the character of Solomon.

None like thee before thee] That is, no king, either in Israel

or among the nations, as the following verse explains.

Verse 16. Then came there two women-harlots] The word

zonoth, which we here, and in some other places, improperly

translate harlots, is by the Chaldee (the best judge in this case)

rendered pundekayan, tavern-keepers. (See on Jos 2:1.)

If these had been harlots, it is not likely they would have dared

to appear before Solomon; and if they had been common women, it is

not likely they would have had children; nor is it likely that

such persons would have been permitted under the reign of David.

Though there is no mention of their husbands, it is probable they

might have been at this time in other parts, following their

necessary occupations; and the settling the present business could

not have been delayed till their return; the appeal to justice

must be made immediately.

Verse 25. Divide the living child in two] This was apparently a

very strange decision, and such as nothing could vindicate had it

been carried into execution; but Solomon saw that the only way to

find out the real mother was by the affection and tenderness which

she would necessarily show to her offspring. He plainly saw that

the real mother would rather relinquish her claim to her child

than see it hewn in pieces before her eyes, while it was probable

the pretender would see this with indifference. He therefore

orders such a mode of trial as would put the maternal affection of

the real mother to the utmost proof; the plan was tried, and it

succeeded. This was a proof of his sound judgment, penetration,

and acquaintance with human nature; but surely it is not produced

as a proof of extraordinary and supernatural wisdom. We have

several similar decisions even among heathens.

Suetonius, in his life of the Emperor Claudius, cap. xv., whom

he celebrates for his wonderful sagacity and penetration on some

particular occasions, tells us, that this emperor discovered a

woman to be the mother of a certain young man, whom she refused to

acknowledge as her son, by commanding her to marry him, the proofs

being doubtful on both sides; for, rather than commit this incest,

she confessed the truth. His words are: Feminam, non agnoscentem

fllium suum, dubia utrinque argumentorum fide, ad confessionem

compulit, indicto matrimonio juvenis.

Ariopharnes, king of Thrace, being appointed to decide between

three young men, who each professed to be the son of the deceased

king of the Cimmerians, and claimed the crown in consequence,

found out the real son by commanding each to shoot an arrow into

the body of the dead king: two of them did this without

hesitation, the third refused, and was therefore judged by

Ariopharnes to be the real son of the deceased. Grotius, on this

place, quotes this relation from Diodorus Siculus; I quote this on

his authority, but have not been able to find the place in

Diodorus. This is a parallel case to that in the text; a covert

appeal was made to the principle of affection; and the truth was

discovered, as in the case of the mother of the living child.

Verse 28. They feared the king] This decision proved that they

could not impose upon him; and they were afraid to do those things

which might bring them before his judgment-seat.

They saw that the wisdom of God was in him] They perceived that

he was taught of God, judged impartially, and could not be

deceived. What was done to the other woman we are not told;

justice certainly required that she should be punished for her

lies and fraud.

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