The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The Third Book of Kings
And now David had grown old, and so chilled with age that there was no warming him by heaping coverlets on his bed;
so his attendants asked leave of him to go and find a young maid, who should be brought to the court and cherish him by sleeping in his bosom, to give their royal master warmth.
And of all the fair maids in Israel they chose out one, Abisag from Sunam, who was brought into the king’s presence;
a fair maid indeed, who now shared the king’s bed and waited on him, yet never did the king mate with her.
Meanwhile Adonias, David’s son by Haggith, aspired to win the throne; he must drive in state, with chariots and outriders, and fifty men to run before him;
and never a word did his father say to check or challenge him; he came next to Absalom in birth, and was like Absalom for beauty.
Joab, son of Sarvia, and the priest Abiathar were in his confidence; but, while these favoured Adonias’s cause,
he could not win over the priest Sadoc, and Banaias son of Joiada, and the prophet Nathan, Semei and Rei and the picked men of David’s army.
Adonias, then, would offer sacrifice of rams and calves and other fattened beasts at the Stone of Zoheleth, by Enrogel spring; bidding his brother princes there as guests, and the men of Juda that were in David’s service,
but not the prophet Nathan, or Banaias, or the leaders of the army, or his brother Solomon.
Thereupon Nathan said to Solomon’s mother Bethsabee, Hast thou heard the news that Haggith’s son Adonias has come to the throne, and our lord king David none the wiser?
Act quickly, following the advice I now give thee, if thou wouldst protect thyself, and thy son Solomon, from mortal peril.
Go and demand access to king David’s presence; ask him openly, My lord King, didst thou not promise me, thy handmaid, upon oath, to let my son Solomon be thy heir, and succeed to thy throne? How comes it that Adonias is king?
And while thou art still speaking, I will come in after thee, and lend weight to these words of thine.
So Bethsabee gained access to the king’s own room, where he sat, an old, old man, with Abisag the Sunamite in attendance on him.
Low was the reverence Bethsabee made, and when the king asked what was her will,
she answered, My lord, thou didst swear to me by the Lord thy God that my son Solomon should be thy heir, and succeed to thy throne;
and here is Adonias already reigning, while thou, my lord king, art kept in ignorance.
Nay, he has sacrificed bulls, fattened beasts, and rams without number, with the priest Abiathar, and Joab, the commander of thy men, for his guests, and all the princes except thy servant Solomon.
My lord king, all Israel looks to thee for a sign, to know who shall sit on thy royal throne after thee.
How shall we fare, I and my son Solomon, when the king’s grace has been laid to rest with his fathers? Our lives will be forfeit.
She was still speaking with the king, when the prophet Nathan came,
and word was brought in that the prophet Nathan was in attendance. So in he came, and made his reverence before the king, with his face bowed to the ground;
Lord King, he said, was it thy decree that Adonias should be thy heir, and succeed to thy throne?
Away he goes, to offer up bulls, fatten beasts, and rams without number; all the princes are summoned to the feast, and the chiefs of the army, and the priest Abiathar; and there they sit, eating and drinking, while the cry goes up, Long live king Adonias!
As for me, thy servant, and the priest Sadoc, and Banaias son of Joiada, and prince Solomon, no summons came to us.
Can it be that the king’s grace has made this decree, without a word to me, his servant, to say who should succeed my lord the king on his throne?
Send for Bethsabee, king David answered; and when she had come in, and stood there in the royal presence,
the king took an oath: As the Lord is a living God, he who has preserved my life against all perils,
my sworn word to thee, in the name of the Lord God of Israel, that thy son Solomon should be my heir and succeed to my throne, shall be fulfilled this day.
And Bethsabee, bowing her face to the ground, did reverence; Unending life, said she, to my lord king David!
Then king David would have the priest Sadoc, and the prophet Nathan, and Banaias son of Joiada, summoned to his presence, and when these waited on him,
his orders were: Take the royal troops with you, and escort my son Solomon, mounted upon my own mule, to Gihon;
there let him be made king of Israel, with the priest Sadoc and the prophet Nathan to anoint him; there sound the trumpet, and make proclamation, Long live king Solomon!
Then bring him back, to sit on my throne and reign instead of me; to him I commit the charge of Israel and Juda alike.
And Banaias son of Joiada cried, Well said! May the Lord, the God who protects the king’s grace, decree no otherwise;
as he has been with thee, so may he be with thy son, and make Solomon’s throne more glorious than the throne of David himself.
Then Sadoc and Nathan and Banaias, mustering the Cerethites and the Phelethites, mounted Solomon on king David’s own mule, and escorted him to Gihon;
there, with a phial of oil brought out from the tabernacle, the priest Sadoc anointed Solomon king; and they sounded the trumpet, while the cry went up everywhere, Long live king Solomon!
All the common folk went with him, and there was playing of flutes and great rejoicing, till earth echoed again with the noise of it.
It reached Adonias and his guests when the banquet was already over; and Joab, as he heard the cries of the multitude, began asking what this uproar in the city might mean.
The words were still on his lips when Jonathan approached, that was son to the priest Abiathar. Come in, cried Adonias; a brave fellow such as thou art surely brings good news.
That have I none, Jonathan answered him; our lord king David has given the throne to Solomon.
Mounted on the royal mule, with the priest Sadoc and the prophet Nathan and Banaias son of Joiada, with the Cerethites too and the Phelethites for his escort, he has ridden to Gihon,
where Sadoc and Nathan anointed him king. And now they have come back in triumph, and all the city is echoing with it; that is the noise which has reached your ears.
There Solomon sits on the royal throne,
while the courtiers shower blessings on our lord king David, praying God to make Solomon’s renown greater than his, Solomon’s domains wider than his; and he, lying on his bed, cries out in adoration,
Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, that has given me this day an heir to my throne, while I still have eyes to see it!
His words spread terror, and all Adonias’ guests rose up, and scattered to their homes.
As for Adonias himself, in his great fear of Solomon he left the place and made his way to the altar, and clung to one of its horns.
So news came to Solomon that Adonias, in fear of his royal brother, was clinging to the altar’s horn, crying out, I must have king Solomon’s oath this day that my life shall be spared!
Why, answered Solomon, prove he a loyal man, never a hair shall fall from his head; if he is found to be plotting mischief, he shall die for it.
Then he sent to bring him away from the altar, and Adonias came into king Solomon’s presence, and did reverence there. And with that, Solomon sent him away to his house.
The Holy Bible