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"And lo, while she yet talked with the king, Nathan the prophet also came in.
"And they told the king, saying, Behold Nathan the prophet! And when he was come in before the king, he bowed himself before the king, with his face to the ground," &c.*
Nathan spoke as had been previously arranged with the queen. "King David answered and said, Call me Bathsheba and she came into the king's presence and stood before the king.
“And the king sware and said, As the Lord liveth that hath redeemed my soul out of all distress, even as I sware to thee by the Lord God of Israel, &c. even so will I certainly do this day.
"Then Bathsheba bowed with her face to the earth, and did reverence to the king, and said, Let my lord, King David, live for ever!"
Solomon was instantly proclaimed king by the high priest, Zadoc, by Nathan the prophet, by Benaiah, the captain of the household troops; and by the Cherethites and the Pelethites ("mighty men”). He was mounted, also, on the old king's mule, and anointed by Zadoc with the "oil out of the tabernacle," while the trumpet's blast and the cries of "God save King Solomon" first announced to Adonijah, and "to all his guests," the astounding event of his young brother's inauguration-" for they had not yet risen from table.”
So prompt and so decisive was the conduct of Bathsheba and her partisans, that it changed the line of descent, and set aside the law of primogeniture in the house of David, when the king's preference for his eldest son had nearly established it by a first, and a consequential precedent. The unfortunate Adonijah sought safety in the sanctuary of the temple, and "seized the horns of the altar," while he awaited the decision of Solomon.
The powerless and bereaved David died soon after, bequeathing to his successor all that was left him to bestow, his advice, as a king-and his vengeance, as a man !t
* 1 Kings, chap. i.
To bring "the hoar heads (of his old enemies), Joab and Shimei, down to the ground with blood."-Kings.
When Solomon had ascended the throne of his father,* "and his kingdom was established," the agency of his mother, near that throne to which she had raised him, became apparent, in the application made to her womanly feeling and political influence, by the unfortunate brother of Absalom. The defeated king of Israel, Adonijah, had purchased the mercy of Solomon, by an oath of allegiance, and immediate retirement into obscurity: he had been "sent home to his house." Yet, on his seeking an audience of the royal mother, her first cautious question was, "Comest thou peaceably?" "Peaceably," he replied; for his was an errand of love, not of war; and she bade him "say on."
"Thou knowest" (said the frank and ardent Adonijah), "thou knowest that the kingdom was mine, and that all Israel set their faces on me, that I should reign. Howbeit the kingdom is turned about, and is become my brother's, for it was his from the Lord; and now I ask one petition of thee!-deny me not!"
The queen only replied, "Say on."
Speak, I pray thee, unto Solomon, the king," continued Adonijah, "for he will not say thee nay! Speak that he give me Abishag, the Shunammite, to wife."
Bathsheba, relieved by the nature of the petition, entered at once with womanly sympathy into the honest views of that unfortunate step-son, on whom so lately "all Israel set their faces that he should reign ;" and whose submission to the king's pleasure, in an affair so purely of the heart, evinced either his loyalty, or the Oriental despotism of the new government of Israel.
Bathsheba instantly promised to intercede for him. "Well, I will speak for thee to the king!" was her answer; "And therefore she went to King Solomon, to speak unto him for Adonijah."
The manner of her reception in the court, where the king sat enthroned, is curious. On her approach, "the king rose up to meet her, and bowed himself to her:" and though he resumed his throne, "he caused a seat
Josephus makes it appear that Solomon was but nineteen, when his mother placed him on the throne.
to be set for the king's mother," "and she sat on his right hand." Between these gorgeous forms of royalty of the first hereditary sovereign of the Jews, and the "palm-tree" of Deborah, "the ruler over Israel," what a contrast!
The immediate request of "the king's mother"-the almost playful manner in which she introduces her "petition"-is extremely feminine and beautiful. "I desire one small petition of thee! I prithee say me not nay."* The king replied-" Ask on, my mother! for I will not say thee nay."
Then," said the queen, "let Abishag, the Shunammite, be given to Adonijah, thy brother, to wife."
At this request, in which the tender association of brotherhood is conjured up with womanly insinuation, the affectionate familiarity of the royal son suddenly changes to the fiercest and most reproachful rage of the offended sovereign. "The king answered to his mother, saying, and why dost thou ask Abishag, the Shunammite, for Adonijah? Ask for him the kingdom also! for he is my elder brother!-even for him, and for Abiathar, the priest, and for Joab, the son of Zeruiah (the political partisans of Adonijah). God do so unto me, and more also, if Adonijah hath not spoken this word (made this request) against his own life! As the Lord liveth, who hath established me on the throne of David, my father, and who hath made me an house as he promised, Adonijah shall be put to death this day."
Imagination fills up this most dramatic of all recorded scenes with all the striking details of which it was susceptible-the crowd of subservient slaves, the ready ministers of irresponsible power-Benaiah, the captain of the army, receiving the order, and hastening "to slay Adonijah to the death"-the terrified Abiathar, suddenly thrust out from his holy office, " as worthy also of death," and banished as a partisan of the devoted brother of the king. But, among all these groupings of male servility to the master, one form comes out, of noble bearing, sublime in her holy mission of humane conciliation, and family concord, and
*In the Hebrew, "turn not away thy face."
pitiable in her blasted feelings of maternity! It is the servant, woman! It is the horror-struck and still beautiful Bathsheba! It is the "king's mother;" she who made him king! whose timely and well-exercised moral influence over the mind of the enfeebled and dying father placed the youngest of his sons, a boy in years, upon the throne of the eldest; and who now, with her intuitive perception, (a woman's wisdom), must have seen, in this act of sanguinary despotism, (that master-fault in politics) an unnecessary crime!
Solomon thus began his magnificent reign, by an act of sudden and uncontrolled passion, stamping the wisest of his race with that blasting sin, which drove the firstborn man to social outlawry,-the sin of fratricide! But, of Bathsheba-the kind, the conciliating, the wise, but no longer powerful, Bathsheba-she who so lately "sat at the king's right hand," no more is heard; and whatever was the after-fate of one so influential in Jewish story, her death was unrecorded.
The Women of the Hebrews under the Monarchy. The Queen of Sheba.
SOLOMON (according to the scriptures) ascended the throne of Israel four hundred and eighty years after the Exodus of the Jewish tribes out of the "land of Egypt." Although the Rabbins assert that the wealth amassed and left by David to his son was so immense, as to render his very tomb an exchequer to future governments,* yet no means, merely human, can account for the astounding disbursement of treasures, recorded between the beginning and the close of a reign, the most magnificent ever registered, in the royal fasti of any age or region. Between the simple "curtained ark" of the holiest of times, the "Holy of Holies," " carried on men's shoulders,” and that mighty Temple, the world's wonder, and the age's miracle, (whose lofty domes were "overlaid with pure gold," whose marble and cedar chambers were "partitioned with chains of gold," whose columns were chaptered with clusters of golden fruit and flowers, and chapleted with "lilies and pomegranates,") what an interval of progress in art and sumptuousness! Between the predatory
*"King Solomon, his son, had him buried at Jerusalem with such magnificence, that in addition to the usual ceremonies that take place at the funerals of kings, he had his sepulchre filled with the most immense sums. 1300 years after this event, Antiochus having besieged Jerusalem, Hircan, the high priest, wanting to bribe him with money to raise the siege, and not being able to procure it otherwise, he opened the sepulchre of David, and drew from it 3000 talents, &c. Again, some time after, Herod took a large sum from another part of this sepulchre, where these treasures were hidden."-7th book, chap. 12, Josephus's History of the Jews.