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In 1 Kings 1:11-14, Nathan and Bathsheba formulate a plan to have David make Solomon his successor as king rather than Adonijah, a plan which includes an oath:

Then Nathan asked Bathsheba, Solomon’s mother, "Have you not heard that Adonijah, the son of Haggith, has become king, and our lord David knows nothing about it? Now then, let me advise you how you can save your own life and the life of your son Solomon. Go in to King David and say to him, 'My lord the king, did you not swear to me your servant: "Surely Solomon your son shall be king after me, and he will sit on my throne"? Why then has Adonijah become king?'"

Bathsheba then goes in to see David and reminds him supposedly of this oath he made (verse 17):

She said to him, "My lord, you yourself swore to me your servant by the Lord your God: 'Solomon your son shall be king after me, and he will sit on my throne.'"

On the one hand, Nathan is the prophet of God and one would assume a reliable character. Yet, on the other hand, there doesn't seem to be any record of David making such an oath in the books of Samuel. And obviously the whole thing is presented as an intrigue with Nathan and Bathsheba double-teaming David so-to-speak. But, again, when David finally acts, he seems very clear-headed about the whole situation; not like one who has been duped.

Does the author intend us to understand that this oath is fabricated, such that Nathan and Bathsheba are attempting to trick David? If so, is this making some sort of statement about Solomon's rule? Or, is the author leaving the fact of the oath purposefully ambiguous to the reader? And if so, what is the purpose of doing so? Or is the reader simply meant to take it as face value that David made such an oath?

  • This was first said in 1 Chronicles 28:5. It wasn't a lie. – AndraeRay Dec 17 '18 at 18:08
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The OP wants to find whether 1 Kings contain the following hints within the narrative:

Does the author intend us to understand that this oath is fabricated, such that Nathan and Bathsheba are attempting to trick David? If so, is this making some sort of statement about Solomon's rule? Or, is the author leaving the fact of the oath purposefully ambiguous to the reader? And if so, what is the purpose of doing so? Or is the reader simply meant to take it as face value that David made such an oath?

I found a 2014 journal article Reconsidering the Role of Deception in Solomon's Ascent to the Throne by Matthew Newkirk, published in the Journal of Evangelical Theological Society Vol 57 No. 4 reviewing arguments FOR and AGAINST deception, and offered his conclusion which is AGAINST deception.

The purpose of the this article is

to reconsider this prevalent view that Nathan and Bathsheba deceived David into naming Solomon king. To do this, this article will proceed in three parts. First, I will briefly summarize the episode as found in 1 Kings 1. Second, I will consider the arguments advanced by scholars that David was deceived into naming Solomon king and seek to show that they are unpersuasive. Third, I will provide positive argumentation against deception in this passage by highlighting evidence in the text suggesting that Adonijah is depicted as seditious and that Solomon is depicted as the rightful heir to the throne.

The arguments AGAINST is based on hints in the Deuteronomistic text (which includes 1 & 2 Samuels and 1 & 2 Kings) that characterize Adonijah as "seditious and therefore attempting to usurp the throne" versus hints in the text which portrays Solomon "as the the rightful king" plus of course, the witness of Chronicles.

Some excerpts of the hints in the Deuteronomistic text:

First, Solomon alone of David’s sons was not invited to Adonijah’s feast at En Rogel (vv. 1:9b–10). Many attribute this exclusion to two rival factions existing in the court—one Hebronite and one Jerusalemite—and thus Adonijah simply did not invite his rival. However, since Solomon was not the only son of David born in Jerusalem (see 2 Sam 5:13–16), this does not explain why Solomon alone of David’s sons was excluded. Gwilym Jones claims that nothing in the text indicates that Adonijah knew about an oath to Solomon, but Adonijah’s exclusion of Solomon alone may be that very evidence indicating that he was aware of such an oath. If Nathan knew about the oath, it is plausible that others within the court could have known about it as well.

The second hint comes from Adonijah when he later tells Bathsheba, “You know that the kingdom was mine and all Israel looked to me to be king, but the kingdom turned and went to my brother, because it was his from YHWH ( היתה לו כי מיהוה )” (1 Kgs 2:15). Here Adonijah himself admits that Solomon had a divine right to the throne. Halpern acknowledges the significance of this statement for legitimatizing Solomon’s accession, yet because he insists that the text is attempting to cover up the fact that Adonijah was the true heir apparent, he concludes that “this admission is the work of the apologist.” As was the case with Ishida’s observations noted above, this argument is wholly conjectural and supports the view that the final form of the text is portraying Solomon as the rightful successor.

Third, the only comment the narrator makes about Solomon before this episode is that "YHWH loved him (ויהוה אהבו )" (2 Sam 2:24). This notice singles out Solomon early in the narrative as the recipient of divine favor, and therefore that the kingship “was his from YHWH,” as Adonijah admitted, is plausible. K. L. Noll goes to great lengths to argue that the verb אהב here does not imply that YHWH chose Solomon as David’s successor. Yet it is not necessary to conclude that אהב in itself designates Solomon as successor; it simply shows that from his birth Solomon is characterized as in a special, favored relationship with YHWH, which lends plausibility to the idea that he was YHWH’s choice.

The last hint of Solomon’s right to the throne is the onomastic puns in this chapter. As Moshe Garsiel insightfully observes, puns on the names of the two brothers’ mothers correspond to the tactics used by the two men in their attempts for the throne. On the one hand, although the word חג (“feast”) does not occur in this chapter, Adonijah’s sacrificial gathering is described in feast-like terms. This corresponds to Adonijah’s mother’s name, חגית (Haggith), which is from the root חג, with whom he is associated three times: “Adonijah the son of Haggith” (1:5, 11; 2:13). On the other hand, in these chapters Bathsheba is twice referred to as “the mother of Solomon” (1:11; 2:13), and it is twice stated that David “swore” (שׁבע) that Solomon would be king (1:13, 17). This corresponds to her name, בתשׁבע (“daughter of an oath”). If the narrator is using these puns to “enrich and intensify the plot,” as Garsiel suggests, it could imply that just as Adonijah actually had a feast by which he attempted to attain the throne, so did Solomon actually have an oath by which he successfully attained the throne. If this is the case, these puns on the names of the two rivals’ mothers serve as further literary indicators supporting the veracity of the oath and thus the validity of Solomon’s kingship.

He concludes:

In this article I have considered the arguments that Nathan and Bathsheba deceived David into naming Solomon king and concluded that they are unpersuasive. Nothing in the text suggests that David should be viewed as senile or easily manipulated. Rather, the narratological emphasis on David’s old age is connected to his political ignorance. In conjunction with David’s history of failing to correct Adonijah, this explains why Nathan and Bathsheba orchestrated their appeal for David to actualize his oath that Solomon succeed him as king. I then argued that the textual evidence suggests that Adonijah is depicted as seditious, that subtleties in the passage suggest that Solomon was the rightful heir to the throne, and that the book of Chronicles reinforces this interpretation by portraying David as knowledgeable that Solomon was YHWH’s choice to succeed him. Rather than being the result of human duplicity in the royal court, Solomon’s ascent to Israel’s throne was the fulfillment of YHWH’s word to David in line with his covenant promises.

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One of David’s sons, Adonijah, was older than Solomon and in line before Solomon for the throne. But God had promised David that Solomon would be king. Adonijah had already attempted to set himself up as king while David was still alive; when David was notified of the plot, he quickly made Solomon’s kingship official. The full account is in 1 Kings 1:1–40 and describes the events leading up to David’s promise to Bathsheba that their son Solomon would rule, and not Adonijah who had usurped his father’s throne when David was “old and well advanced in years.”

There was no plot between Nathan and Bathsheba. The only plotting that was going on was between Adonijah, Joab, and Abiathar the priest. It was Adonijah who declared “I will be king” and this, while his father still lived, and without David’s knowledge. Zadok the priest, Benaiah, Nathan the prophet and others loyal to David did not join in with Adonijah. Nathan the priest alerted Bathsheba to the plot and she came before David to apprise him of what was going on behind his back and to plead with him (1 Kings 1:1-27).

Long before all these events, when Solomon was born to David and Bathsheba, the account in 2 Samuel 12:24-25 informs us that “the LORD loved him”. God then sent word through Nathan the prophet that Solomon was to be named Jedidiah which means “Loved by Yahweh” or “beloved of the LORD”. The giving of this name suggests that the Lord’s special favour rested on Solomon from his birth and that is why Solomon became King of the United Kingdom. It was God’s will.

Before David died, he made plans for the Temple that his son, Solomon, would build. He addressed all the officials of Israel at Jerusalem and said this:

Of all my sons – and the Lord has given me many – He has chosen my son Solomon to sit on the throne of the kingdom of the Lord over Israel. He said to me, ‘Solomon your son is the one who will build my house and my courts, for I have chosen him to be my son, and I will be his father. I will establish his kingdom for ever if he is unswerving in carrying out my commands and laws, as is being done at this time’ (1 Chronicles 28:4-7).

This account confirms what is recorded in 1 Kings 1:28-40, namely, that it was God who told David the throne would pass to Solomon. By comparing all accounts (in 2 Samuel, 1 Kings and 1 Chronicles) the full picture emerges. Even after Solomon became king, Adonijah had another attempt at stealing the throne and the crown for himself. More information here: https://www.gotquestions.org/Solomon-Adonijah-Abishag.html

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Nope. Nathan and Bathsheba are merely bringing this up to David so that the right action could take place. At his point, Adonijah was making a claim to the throne. Bathsheba and Nathan's plea was a reminder to David of who the rightful king was, as David had told Bathsheba prior that indeed Solomon - her son, not Adonijah, another woman's - would become his successor.

All of this is recorded in 1 Kings 1.

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WRT 1Chron 28, I am reading the Hebrew and translating it adhoc:

  • v5: and from all my sons, because many sons HaShem gave me, and then He chooses in Solomon my son to sit on the throne of kingdom of HaShem over Israel.

The passage goes on to describe that HaShem has chosen Solomon to build the temple. And then David charges Solomon and reminds Solomon being chosen by HaShem to build the temple, and of his duties as king.

Your question now has to be rephrased. Your question should be

Even though David publicly declares Solomon his successor, did he personally promise BathSheba so?

Which I think would be a moot question. Because imagine, that President Trump publicly declares he will appoint Tillerson as Secretary of State, that he did not personally speak to him about it after that? Or that Trump publicly declares Jared Kushner would be one of his personal advisers but he did not discuss with Ivanka at all about it?

That would be kinda strange, wouldn't it?

Secondly, he declared in the name of HaShem to all of Israel that Solomon would be king after him. Would BathSheba be considered as part of the crowd who accepted that declaration, so that she could say David made a promise to her as part of the crowd that Solomon would be king?

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    OP is interested in the narrator of 1 Kings ... so I'm puzzled why you go to 1 Chronicles? Your question re-statement is appropriate for Chronicles, but 1 Kings doesn't tell the story in this way. – Dɑvïd Feb 14 '17 at 12:55
  • Did you mean that any promise made in 1Chron is no longer applicable to 1Kings? Did you mean that any prophecies made in Isaiah are no longer applicable today? Are you admitting that any prophecies the gospels claim to fulfill, the gospels are a lie because no such prophecies were made because they were not in the same book? – Cynthia Avishegnath Feb 14 '17 at 17:50
  • @CynthiaAvishegnath Please remember this site is about hermeneutics, not who can win a debate. Dɑvïd simply pointed out that the story in Kings is very different to that in Chron, so it is Kings we should be following - using Chron only to explain a point if that is necessary. Kings is generally regarded as much earlier than Chronicles. – Dick Harfield Feb 14 '17 at 19:57
  • I have no understanding of your school of hermeneutics. All your responses are, pardon the strong word, obsessed with the unverifiable argument of which book was written first, how which book was written after the fact - linguistic archaeology is a subjective and undependable field. It belongs to the halls of liberal theology. I simply follow the narrative's chronology. If we don't then the the whole bible is a lie. The question is moot. – Cynthia Avishegnath Feb 14 '17 at 20:44
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    In following the narrative's chronology, don't the events of 1 Chronicles 28 come after 1 Chronicles 23, which is when David makes Solomon king (the event following this section in 1 Kings 1)? – Soldarnal Feb 14 '17 at 23:13

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