Questions From Readers
● Why, after pardoning Adonijah, did King Solomon have him put to death when he requested Abishag as his wife?—R. F., U.S.A.
In order to understand Solomon’s actions, first consider the background. When David was in his old age and apparently greatly weakened by his long, vigorous life, his servants chose the beautiful virgin Abishag to serve as his nurse and companion. (1 Ki. 1:1-4) Even though David “had no intercourse with her,” she was evidently viewed as being his wife or concubine. As such, according to ancient Oriental custom, she would become the property of his heir when David died.
The account concerning Abishag directly precedes the details of the abortive attempt to gain the crown by David’s oldest surviving son, Adonijah. It would seem to be so placed to shed light on Adonijah’s actions during the early part of Solomon’s reign. After ascending the throne, Solomon extended to would-be King Adonijah a conditional pardon. Later Adonijah cunningly persuaded Solomon’s mother, Bathsheba, to ask her son to give him Abishag as a wife. Solomon concluded that Adonijah’s request indicated a subtle effort by this usurper to strengthen his false claim to the throne of Israel, not simply a desire for a beautiful wife. The king reacted by revoking Adonijah’s pardon and ordering his death.—1 Ki. 2:13-25.
Hence, Solomon did not act out of wild or irresponsible jealousy, but in such a way as to protect his rightful position as the anointed king on “Jehovah’s throne.”—1 Chron. 29:23.