Notes on the Bible, by Albert Barnes, , at sacred-texts.com
3 Kings (1 Kings) 3:1
What Pharaoh is meant is uncertain. It must have been a predecessor of Shishak (or Sheshonk), who invaded Judaea more than 40 years later Kg1 14:25; and probabilities are in favor, not of Psusennes II, the last king of Manetho's 21st dynasty, but of Psinaces, the predecessor of Psusennes. This, the Tanite dynasty, had become very weak, especially toward its close, from where we may conceive how gladly it would ally itself with the powerful house of David. The Jews were not forbidden to marry foreign wives, if they became proselytes. As Solomon is not blamed for this marriage either here or in 1 Kings 11, and as the idol temples which he allowed to be built Kg1 11:5-7 were in no case dedicated to Egyptian deities, it is to be presumed that his Egyptian wife adopted her husband's religion.
The city of David - The city, situated on the eastern hill, or true Zion, where the temple was afterward built, over against the city of the Jehusites (Kg1 9:24; compare Ch2 8:11).
3 Kings (1 Kings) 3:2
The word "only" introduces a contrast. The writer means to say that there was one exception to the flourishing condition of things which he has been describing, namely, that "the people sacrificed in high-places." (Compare the next verse.) The Law did not forbid "high-places" directly, but only by implication. It required the utter destruction of all the high-places which had been polluted by idolatrous rites Deu 12:2; and the injunction to offer sacrifices nowhere except at the door of the tabernacle Lev 17:3-5 was an indirect prohibition of them, or, at least, of the use which the Israelites made of them; but there was some real reason to question whether this was a command intended to come into force until the "place" was chosen "where the Lord would cause His name to dwell." (See Deu 12:11, Deu 12:14.) The result was that high-places were used for the worship of Yahweh, from the time of the Judges downward Jdg 6:25; Jdg 13:16; Sa1 7:10; Sa1 13:9; Sa1 14:35; Sa1 16:5; Ch1 21:26, with an entire unconsciousness of guilt on the part of those who used them. And God so far overlooked this ignorance that He accepted the worship thus offered Him, as appears from the vision vouchsafed to Solomon on this occasion. There were two reasons for the prohibition of high-places; first, the danger of the old idolatry creeping back if the old localities were retained for worship; and, secondly, the danger to the unity of the nation if there should be more than one legitimate religious center. The existence of the worship at high places did, in fact, facilitate the division of the kingdom.
3 Kings (1 Kings) 3:4
Gibeon - The transfer to Gibeon of the "tabernacle of the congregation," and the brass "altar of burnt offerings" made by Moses, which were removed there from Nob (compare Sa1 21:6, with marginal references "i," "k"), had made it "the great high-place," more sacred, i. e., than any other in the holy land, unless it were Mount Zion where the ark had been conveyed by David. For the position of Gibeon, see Jos 9:3 note.
A thousand burnt offerings did Solomon offer - Solomon presented the victims. The priests were the actual sacrificers Kg1 8:5. A sacrifice of a thousand victims was an act of royal magnificence suited to the greatness of Solomon. So Xerxes offered 1,000 oxen at Troy. If the offerings in this case were "whole burnt offerings," and were all offered upon the altar of Moses, the sacrifice must have lasted several days.
3 Kings (1 Kings) 3:5
The Lord appeared unto Solomon in a dream - Compare the marginal references and Gen 15:1; Gen 28:12; Gen 37:5.
3 Kings (1 Kings) 3:6
This great kindness - David himself had regarded this as God's crowning mercy to him Kg1 1:48.
3 Kings (1 Kings) 3:7
See Kg1 2:2 note, and on the hyperbole contained in the phrase "little child," compare Gen 43:8; Exo 33:11.
How to go out or come in - This expression is proverbial for the active conduct of affairs. (See the marginal reference.)
3 Kings (1 Kings) 3:8
Compare the marginal references. Solomon regards the promises as fulfilled in the existing greatness and glory of the Jewish nation.
3 Kings (1 Kings) 3:9
One of the chief functions of the Oriental monarch is always to hear and decide causes. Hence, supreme magistrates were naturally called "judges." (See the introduction to the Book of Judges.) In the minds of the Jews the "judge" and the "prince" were always closely associated, the direct cognisance of causes being constantly taken by their chief civil governors. (See Exo 2:14; Exo 18:16, Exo 18:22; Sa1 8:20; Sa2 15:2-6.)
Good and bad - i. e. "right and wrong," "justice and injustice."
3 Kings (1 Kings) 3:10
Although Solomon's choice was made "in a dream" Kg1 3:5, we must regard it as springing from his will in some degree, and therefore as indicative of his moral character.
3 Kings (1 Kings) 3:11
Thine enemies - e. g. Hadad the Edomite Kg1 11:14-22 and Rezon the son of Eliadah Kg1 11:23-25, whom Solomon might well have wished to remove.
3 Kings (1 Kings) 3:12
A wise and an understanding heart - Solomon's wisdom seems to have been both moral and intellectual (see Kg1 4:29-34). But it was moral wisdom alone which he requested, and which was promised him. The terms translated "wise" and "understanding," both denote practical wisdom. (See Gen 41:33, Gen 41:39; Deu 4:6; Pro 1:2, etc.)
Neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee - i. e. in the knowledge of what was in man, and in the wisdom to direct men's goings, he was to be the wisest of "all" mere men. In such wisdom the world would know one only "greater than Solomon" Mat 12:42; Luk 11:31.
3 Kings (1 Kings) 3:13
A striking illustration of that law of the divine government to which Christ referred (marginal reference).
3 Kings (1 Kings) 3:14
I will lengthen thy days - The promise here was only conditional. As the condition was not observed Kg1 11:1-8, the right to the promise was forfeited, and it was not fulfilled. Solomon can scarcely have been more than fifty-nine or sixty at his death.
3 Kings (1 Kings) 3:15
Solomon determined to inaugurate his reign by a grand religious ceremonial at each of the two holy places which at this time divided between them the reverence of the Jews. Having completed the religious service at Gibeon, where was the tabernacle of the congregation, he proceeded to Jerusalem, and sacrificed before the ark of the covenant, which was in Mount Zion Sa2 6:12. A great feast naturally followed on a large sacrifice of peace-offerings. In these the sacrificer always partook of the flesh of the victim, and he was commanded to call in to the feast the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow Deu 14:29. Compare Sa2 6:19; Ch1 16:3.
3 Kings (1 Kings) 3:28
The wisdom of God - i. e. "Divine wisdom," "a wisdom given by God" Kg1 3:12. The ready tact and knowledge of human nature exhibited in this pattern judgment, and its special fitness to impress Orientals, have generally been admitted.