In the old testament it is obvious that there are multiple references to sacrificing calves. From my understanding this was generally performed by the high priests to take away the sins of the people.

What is the significance of the sacrifice taking place in 1 Kings 1v.9, v.19 by Adonijah and does it share the same commonality in purpose?

1 Kings 1:9:

Adonijah then sacrificed sheep, cattle and fattened calves at the Stone of Zoheleth near En Rogel. (NIV)

1 Kings 1:19:

He has sacrificed great numbers of cattle, fattened calves, and sheep, and has invited all the king’s sons, Abiathar the priest and Joab the commander of the army, but he has not invited Solomon your servant. (NIV)

  • Please indicate which translation you are using.
    – user17080
    Aug 16, 2017 at 12:01

2 Answers 2


I Kings 1:9 uses the wording ויזבח, which means to slaughter but not necessarily to offer a sacrifice. Compare with Deuteronomy 12:15 which also uses זבח very clearly in the sense of a non-sacrificial slaughter. So your translation is misleading you by using the word "sacrifice" in both instances and in fact, your question doesn't need to be asked.

The NIV, Darby and other translations that use "sacrifice" are in this case misleading. The ASV, KJV, CJB and others that use "killed" or "slaughtered" are more faithful to the Hebrew MT as they do not lead you to think that Adonijah was in fact intended to perform a sacrifice to God with this slaughtering.

Regarding the significance of the slaughter, the appointment of a new king in Israel is a festive state occasion that calls for a state banquet. This banquet is an important assertion of authority and sign of public recognition for the new king.


No sacrifice was to be performed by anyone but the prophet and priests. However, that didn't stop kings and their ilk from choosing to do it themselves rather than waiting for proper authority. A similar situation happened with Saul and Samuel. When Samuel discovered what Saul did, he said (1 Sam 15:22):

And Samuel said, Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.

The sacrifice by Adonijah is the same circumstance. In fact, he specifically excluded the authority (1 Kings 1:9-10, my emphasis):

And Adonijah slew sheep and oxen and fat cattle by the stone of Zoheleth, which is by En-rogel, and called all his brethren the king’s sons, and all the men of Judah the king’s servants: But Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah, and the mighty men, and Solomon his brother, he called not.

Why did he do it? Because he was feeling full of himself (1 Kings 1:5):

Then Adonijah the son of Haggith exalted himself, saying, I will be king…

Adonijah was making a grab for power and didn't want the prophet, who was revered by the people, to interfere.

  • Please change "anyone but the prophet and priests" to "anyone but the priests". A prophet cannot cannot do the priestly obligations unless he is himself a priest. The quote from 1 Sam 15:22 does not indicate that Saul did any priestly obligation himself, or even that he offered a sacrifice at all. Please indicate what translation you are using as it is critical to understanding the nature of the action, whether it was an actual sacrifice or just a festive slaughter.
    – user17080
    Aug 16, 2017 at 11:40

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