3 Kings iii.
Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. Solomon. By the death of his enemies, and by his affinity with the king of Egypt, and his friendship with Hiram, king Tyre, who were the most potent princes in the neighbourhood. Eupolemus (ap. Eusebius, pręp.) has a letter of Solomon to Pharao Vaphres, in which the latter is said to have been the friend of David; (Salien) and St. Clement of Alexandria (Strom. i.) produces the testimony of Polyhistor, saying, that Vaphres sent 80,000 Egyptian workmen to assist Solomon to build the temple. — Daughter. Who, probably, embraced the true religion; so that her praises are supposed to be recorded in the 44th Psalm, and in the canticles; though it seems she afterwards relapsed, and became the chief instrument in the perversion of the king, chap. xi. 1. — David. She dwelt in the apartments of Bethsabee, (Canticle of Canticles iii. 4., and viii. 2,) till a magnificent palace could be built for her reception, chap. vii. 8. To marry idolatrous women was strictly forbidden, Deuteronomy vii. 3., 1 Esdras x. 2., and 2 Esdras xiii. 26.
Ver. 2. But yet. It is not clear to what this refers. Hebrew, “for the rest, (Calmet) or only;” (as also ver. 3,) which may signify that the people, and their king, were blamable; or else, that they zealously offered sacrifices to God, even before the temple was erected. (Haydock) — Those who afterwards left that sacred place, to imitate the conduct of idolaters, or of the ancient patriarchs, which was no longer tolerated, are justly condemned. (Calmet) — High places. That is, altars where they worshipped the Lord, indeed, but not according to the ordinance of the law; which allowed of no other places for sacrifice but the temple of God. Among these high places, that of Gabaon was the chief, because there was the tabernacle of the testimony which had been removed from Silo to Nobe, and from Nobe to Gabaon. (Challoner) — Hither David would have gone, as Solomon did, ver. 4. (Calmet) — Hence this was not, at least, once of those high places, where it was unlawful to offer sacrifice; as the tabernacle was there, and the altar of holocausts, which Moses had erected. The obligation of sacrificing in no place, except in that which the Lord had appointed, regarded the times while the ark was in the desert, (Haydock) and when it was placed in the temple. While it continued in an unsettled state, people enjoyed more liberty in this respect; (Calmet) particularly when there was a prophet present, to sanction what they did. (Haydock)
Ver. 3. Only, &c. Which David had not done, though it was lawful. (Pineda) — Yet we read that he offered victims on Sion, &c., 2 Kings vi. 18. (Haydock)
Ver. 4. Victims. These he accompanied with most fervent prayer, Wisdom vii. 7., and 2 Paralipomenon i. 9.
Ver. 5. In a prophetic dream, or ecstasy. His mind had been so filled with the desire of wisdom, that the same thoughts recurred to him while he slept; and, as he had entertained them voluntarily before, he acquired fresh merit even during that time; as a man, who indulges sensual affections, becomes responsible for the accidents of the night. (St. Thomas Aquinas, 1. 2. q. 113. a. 2. and 2. 2. 9. 154. a. 5.) (St. Augustine, de Gen. ad lit. xii. 15.) (Calmet)
Ver. 7. In. So as to judge with discretion, and to lead my people. (Calmet)
Ver. 9. Understanding. Literally, “docile.” (Haydock) — Hebrew, “willing to hear,” and to obey God. (Menochius)
Ver. 12. After thee. Solomon has given us some idea of his wisdom in the works which he has left. They were dictated by the Holy Spirit, who adorned his soul with so many graces, chap. iv. 29, 30. (Haydock) — His knowledge of nature, and of the art of governing, excelled that of any of the kings of Israel; (Lyranus, &c.; 2 Paralipomenon ix.) though Moses and the apostles had a more comprehensive knowledge of the mysteries of God. (Calmet) — Yet, even granting that no mere man might come up to him, Jesus Christ, in whom the treasures of wisdom were contained, was far superior. (Haydock) — General propositions are often to be understood with a limitation. (Menochius)
Ver. 13. Heretofore: 2 Paralipomenon (i. 12,) adds, nor after thee, Ecclesiastes ii. 7.[i. 16.?] This is also limited by some to the kings of that country. But the riches of Solomon were not exceeded by those of the greatest monarchs. Diss., “on the riches which David left.” (Calmet)
Ver. 14. Days. But this he forfeited. (Menochius)
Ver. 15. Dream. Sent by God, as [in] Genesis xli. 1. (Calmet)
Ver. 16. Harlots. Rather than simply, “innkeepers.” (Chaldean) (Menochius) — The latter signification of Zona might, however, seem more natural; as harlots seldom have children; or, at least, any affection for them. Neither would such people have dared to appear before the king, Deuteronomy xxiii. 17.
Ver. 19. Him. This she suspected to be the case. They did not then place infants in the cradle, but let them sleep in their bosoms. (Calmet)
Ver. 25. Other. This sentence manifested the wisdom of Solomon, who knew that the real mother would feel the emotions of parental tenderness. By similar experiments, the truth has sometimes been discovered. Claudius obliged a mother to own her son, by ordering her to take him for a husband. (Seutonius xv.) — The king of Trace told three who pretended to be the sons of the deceased king of the Cimmerians, to shoot an arrow at the corpse; which the real son would not do. (Calmet) (Diod. Sic.) — A native of Mexico, reclaiming a horse which a Spaniard pretended was his, as the judge was under some doubts, the American threw his cloak over the horse’s head, and asked which eye was blind? The Spaniard replied, the right; and thus was detected. (Palafox.)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
Solomon marrieth Pharao’s daughter. He sacrifices in Gabaon: in the choice which God gave him, he preferreth wisdom. His wise judgment between the two harlots.
1 And* the kingdom was established in the hand of Solomon, and he made affinity with Pharao, the king of Egypt: for he took his daughter, and brought her into the city of David: **until he had made an end of building his own house, and the house of the Lord, and the wall of Jerusalem round about.
2 But yet the people sacrificed in the high places: for there was no temple built to the name of the Lord until that day.
3 And Solomon loved the Lord, walking in the precepts of David, his father; only he sacrificed in the high places, and burnt incense.
4 He went therefore to Gabaon, to sacrifice there: for that was the great high place: a thousand victims for holocausts, did Solomon offer upon that altar, in Gabaon.
5 And the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night, saying : Ask what thou wilt that I should give thee.
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.
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;
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.
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?
10 And the word was pleasing to the Lord, that Solomon had asked such a thing.
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 judgment;
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 unto thee, before thee, nor shall arise after thee.
13 *Yea, and the things also which thou didst not ask, I have given thee; to wit, riches and glory: as that no one hath been like unto thee, among the kings, in all days heretofore.
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.
15 And Solomon awaked, and perceived that it was a dream: and when he was come to Jerusalem, he stood before the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and offered holocausts, and sacrificed victims of peace-offerings, and made a great feast for all his servants.
16 Then there came two women that were harlots, to the king, and stood before him.
17 And one of them said: I beseech thee, my lord, I and this woman dwelt in one house, and I was delivered of a child with her in the chamber.
18 And the third day after that I was delivered, she also was delivered; and we were together, and no other person with us in the house; only we two.
19 And this woman’s child died in the night: for in her sleep she overlaid him.
20 And rising in the dead time of the night, she took my child from my side, while I, thy handmaid, was asleep, and laid it in her bosom: and laid her dead child in my bosom.
21 And when I arose in the morning, to give my child suck, behold it was dead: but considering him more diligently, when it was clear day, I found that it was not mine which I bore.
22 And the other woman answered: It is not so as thou sayest, but thy child is dead, and mine is alive. On the contrary, she said; Thou liest: for my child liveth, and thy child is dead. And in this manner they strove before the king.
23 Then said the king: The one saith, My child is alive, and thy child is dead. And the other answereth: Nay; but thy child is dead, and mine liveth.
24 The king therefore said: Bring me a sword. And when they had brought a sword before the king,
25 Divide, said he, the living child in two, and give half to the one, and half to the other.
26 But the woman whose child was alive, said to the king; (for her bowels were moved upon her child) I beseech thee, my lord, give her the child alive, and do not kill it. But the other said: Let it be neither mine nor thine; but divide it.
27 The king answered, and said: Give the living child to this woman, and let it not be killed; for she is the mother thereof.
28 And all Israel heard the judgment which the king had judged, and they feared the king, seeing that the wisdom of God was in him to do judgment.
1: Year of the World 2991, Year before Christ 1013.; 2 Paralipomenon i. 1. — ** 1 Paralipomenon viii. 11.
9: 2 Paralipomenon i. 10.
13: Wisdom vii. 11.; Matthew vi. 21.