The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The Third Book of Kings
And now the time drew near when David must die; but first he left with his son Solomon this charge.
I am going, said he, the way all mortal things go at last; do thou keep thy courage high and play the man.
Hold ever true to the Lord thy God, following the paths he has shewn us, observing his ceremonies, and all those commands and awards and decrees that are contained in the law of Moses; so shalt thou be well advised in all thou doest, at every turn of the way.
So will the Lord make good his promise to me, that if my sons would but tread those paths of his, still proving loyal to him with the whole purpose of their heart and soul, the throne of Israel should never lack one of my race to fill it.
And now to speak of Joab, son of Sarvia. Thou knowest well the ill turn he has done me; here were two commanders of the Israelite army, Abner son of Ner and Amasa son of Jether, that fell by his hand. They were at peace with him when he struck the warrior’s blow, stained himself, from the shoes on his feet to the girdle on his loins, with the blood that should have been spilt in war.
Let prudence be thy guide, do not allow those grey hairs to find a peaceful end.
To the sons of Berzellai the Galaadite thou must shew gratitude, and let them be among those who eat at thy table; they made me welcome when I fled to escape from thy brother Absalom.
Thou hast to reckon, moreover, with Semei son of Gera, the Benjamite from Bahurim. Foul were the curses he hurled at me on my way to the Encampment; but when I crossed Jordan again he came out to meet me, and I swore to him in the Lord’s name that I would not slay him.
Thou hast no cause to leave him unharmed; thou hast wit enough to resolve what to do with him, how to prepare a bloody end for his grey hairs.
So David was laid to rest with his fathers, and the Keep of David was his burial-place;
he had ruled Israel forty years, seven at Hebron and thirty-three at Jerusalem.
And Solomon, who succeeded as his father’s heir, established himself firmly on the throne.
As for Adonias, son of Haggith, he gained access to Bethsabee, king Solomon’s mother, telling her that he came on a peaceful errand;
there was a matter he would confide to her. So she bade him speak out, but still he hesitated;
Once, said he, the throne was mine, and all Israel had chosen me for their king; now the royal power has changed hands, and gone to my brother; it was God’s will.
There is only one request now that I would make of thee; pray do not disappoint me. And still she bade him speak out.
My request is, said he, that thou wouldst say a word for me to king Solomon; there is nothing he can refuse thee. Bid him give me Abisag the Sunamite for my wife.
Why, yes, answered Bethsabee, I will speak to the king on thy behalf.
Bethsabee, then, made her way to king Solomon, to prefer Adonias’ request; the king rose to meet her and bowed low, then he sat down on his throne again, and a throne was brought for her, the king’s mother, to sit down at his right hand.
There is a light request, she told him, that I would make of thee; pray do not disappoint me. Make thy request, mother, said he; I will not turn a deaf ear to it.
It is, said she, that thy brother Adonias should be given Abisag the Sunamite for his wife.
But this was king Solomon’s answer to his mother, What, Abisag the Sunamite for Adonias? Ask me to give him the kingdom, too; he is my elder brother, and has the priest Abiathar, and Joab son of Sarvia, to maintain his cause.
And hereupon king Solomon took an oath in the Lord’s name; May the Lord punish me as I deserve, and more than I deserve, if this plea Adonias has made does not cost him his life!
As the Lord is a living God, he that has established me firmly on my father David’s throne, and made the dynasty mine, as he promised, Adonias shall die this day!
So king Solomon gave orders to Banaias son of Joiada, and by his hand Adonias was put to death.
The king had a command, too, for the priest Abiathar; Go back to thy lands at Anathoth. Nothing better thou deservest than death, but I will spare thy life this day; thine it was to carry the ark in my father’s presence, and to share all the perils he endured.
Thus king Solomon deprived Abiathar of his priesthood, in fulfilment of that sentence which the Lord passed on the race of Heli, long ago at Silo.
Tidings of this came to Joab, that had taken part with Adonias, not with Solomon;✻ and he took refuge in the Lord’s tabernacle, where he clung to one of the altar-horns.
And king Solomon, hearing he had fled to the tabernacle and was to be found there, close by the altar, sent Banaias son of Joiada with orders to kill him.
So Banaias went to the Lord’s tabernacle and bade Joab remove from it, in the king’s name. Not I, said Joab, I will die here. When Banaias brought tidings of the answer Joab had made him,
the king said, Let him have his will; put him to death there, and give him burial. Only rid me, and my father’s kindred, of the blood-guilt Joab has brought upon us.
On his head may the Lord’s vengeance fall; did he not slay two innocent men that were his betters, Abner son of Ner that commanded Israel, and Amasa son of Jether that commanded Juda, drawing his sword on them with no word said to my father, king David?
On Joab let the blood-guilt fall, and on his race for ever; to David and David’s race, to David’s throne and dynasty, may the Lord grant eternal prosperity!
With that, Banaias son of Joiada went back and gave Joab his death-blow. He was buried at his own home, out in the wilderness;
command of the army the king gave to Banaias son of Joiada, and the high-priesthood to Sadoc instead of Abiathar.
Then the king bade Semei come before him; Thou must build thyself a house, he told him, here at Jerusalem, and come to live there, instead of travelling freely this way and that.
The day on which thou leavest Jerusalem to cross Cedron river shall be thy last, and the blame will lie only on thyself.
To this Semei agreed, promising obedience to the royal command; and for a long time he continued to live at Jerusalem.
Then, after three years, it chanced that some of his servants ran away, and took refuge with Achis son of Maacha, king of Geth. And when Semei was told that his servants were in Geth,
he saddled his ass for a journey; to Geth he went and to the court of Achis in search of them, and brought them home with him.
The news that Semei had journeyed to Geth and back reached Solomon’s ears,
and thereupon he sent for him. Did I not bind thee by an oath in the Lord’s name, said he, warning thee that the day when thou shouldst begin to travel this way and that should be thy last? And didst thou not agree to the conditions I made?
Forgotten, thy oath to the Lord, forgotten, the warning I gave thee!
Then he added, Bethink thee, for it rankles yet in thy heart, of thy malice towards my father king David. Now the Lord has made thy ill will recoil on thyself;
it is a blessing, not a curse, king Solomon inherits, and David’s dynasty remains firm on the throne, to serve the Lord for ever.
Then the king gave orders to Banaias son of Joiada, and he followed Semei out and put him to death.
The Holy Bible