The Book of Samuel presents David’s extraordinary life in rich detail. The Book of Kings opens when King David is very old, recounting the rise of his heir, Solomon, to the throne. Solomon’s rise features prominently in the Haftarot for Genesis. Just as Jacob passes his legacy, blessings, and advice onto his twelve sons in the Parashah, so does David for his heir.
In the episode preceding the Haftarah, an ailing King David denied the claim of his son, Adonijah, to the throne, instead publicly installing his young son, Solomon, as the rightful heir. The Haftarah recounts David’s instructions to King Solomon and concludes with David’s death at 70 years old- the longest lived of all Biblical kings. David directs Solomon to follow God and the Torah. To help Solomon secure the throne, David emphasizes his son’s wisdom while advising him how to act with three men:
Joab, son of Zeruiah, was David’s nephew and commander of his army. He aided David in many conquests, but also caused problems for David. Joab violated David’s command by killing David’s rebellious son, Absalom. In his parting words to Solomon in the Haftarah, David’s primary concern is Joab’s peacetime, cold-blooded murder of generals, Abner and Amsa. Joab also initially sided with Adonijah’s effort to succeed David, making him Solomon’s natural rival.
Wealthy Barzillai the Gileadite was one of several people who provided for the needs of David and his household as they fled from the rebellious uprising of his son, Absalom. David offered to repay this kindness by supporting Barzillai at his royal table. Already elderly, Barzillai declined the offer, preferring to live out his remaining years at home.
Shimi, son of Gera, cursed and taunted David during his escape from Absalom. Shimi later sought and received David’s forgiveness.
Verses 1-4: David commands his heir, Solomon, to follow God’s laws. This will bring him success and secure his royal dynasty, as promised by God.
I Kings 2:3
Keep the charge of the Lord your God to walk in His ways, keeping His statutes, commandments, judgments, and testimonies, as is written in Moses’s law- so that you will prosper in all you do, and wherever you turn.
וְשָׁמַרְתָּ֞ אֶת־מִשְׁמֶ֣רֶת ׀ ה' אֱלֹקיךָ לָלֶ֤כֶת בִּדְרָכָיו֙ לִשְׁמֹ֨ר חֻקֹּתָ֤יו מִצְוֺתָיו֙ וּמִשְׁפָּטָ֣יו וְעֵדְוֺתָ֔יו כַּכָּת֖וּב בְּתוֹרַ֣ת מֹשֶׁ֑ה לְמַ֣עַן תַּשְׂכִּ֗יל אֵ֚ת כָּל־אֲשֶׁ֣ר תַּֽעֲשֶׂ֔ה וְאֵ֛ת כָּל־אֲשֶׁ֥ר תִּפְנֶ֖ה שָֽׁם׃
Verses 5-6: David advises Solomon to act shrewdly and possibly harshly with Joab.
I Kings 2:5
You also know what Joab son of Zeruiah did to me, [namely] what he did to the two captains of Israel’s armies- Abner the son of Ner and Amasa the son of Jether. He killed them, shedding the blood of war in peace[time], and placing the blood of war upon his girdle [around] his loins, and on his shoe[s] on his feet.
וְגַ֣ם אַתָּ֣ה יָדַ֡עְתָּ אֵת֩ אֲשֶׁר־עָ֨שָׂה לִ֜י יוֹאָ֣ב בֶּן־צְרוּיָ֗ה אֲשֶׁ֣ר עָשָׂ֣ה לִשְׁנֵֽי־שָׂרֵ֣י צִבְא֣וֹת יִ֠שְׂרָאֵל לְאַבְנֵ֨ר בֶּן־נֵ֜ר וְלַעֲמָשָׂ֤א בֶן־יֶ֙תֶר֙ וַיַּ֣הַרְגֵ֔ם וַיָּ֥שֶׂם דְּמֵֽי־מִלְחָמָ֖ה בְּשָׁלֹ֑ם וַיִּתֵּ֞ן דְּמֵ֣י מִלְחָמָ֗ה בַּחֲגֹֽרָתוֹ֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר בְּמָתְנָ֔יו וּֽבְנַעֲל֖וֹ אֲשֶׁ֥ר בְּרַגְלָֽיו׃
Verses 7-9: David instructs Solomon to support Barzillai’s descendants, and to be wary of, and to execute if necessary, Shimi.
I Kings 2:7-8
Show kindness to Barzillai the Gileadite’s descendants; let them be among those who eat at your table. For they came close to me during my flight from Absalom, your brother.
Behold, Shimi son of Gera the Benjamite from [the town] of Bahurim is with you. He cursed me with a harsh curse when I traveled to Mahanaim. He came down to meet me at the Jordan [River]. I swore to him by the Lord, saying, “I will not put you to death with the sword.”
וְלִבְנֵ֨י בַרְזִלַּ֤י הַגִּלְעָדִי֙ תַּֽעֲשֶׂה־חֶ֔סֶד וְהָי֖וּ בְּאֹכְלֵ֣י שֻׁלְחָנֶ֑ךָ כִּי־כֵן֙ קָרְב֣וּ אֵלַ֔י בְּבָרְחִ֕י מִפְּנֵ֖י אַבְשָׁל֥וֹם אָחִֽיךָ׃
וְהִנֵּ֣ה עִ֠מְּךָ שִֽׁמְעִ֨י בֶן־גֵּרָ֥א בֶן־הַיְמִינִי֮ מִבַּחֻרִים֒ וְה֤וּא קִֽלְלַ֙נִי֙ קְלָלָ֣ה נִמְרֶ֔צֶת בְּי֖וֹם לֶכְתִּ֣י מַחֲנָ֑יִם וְהֽוּא־יָרַ֤ד לִקְרָאתִי֙ הַיַּרְדֵּ֔ן וָאֶשָּׁ֨בַֽע ל֤וֹ בַֽה֙' לֵאמֹ֔ר אִם־אֲמִֽיתְךָ֖ בֶּחָֽרֶב׃
Verses 10-12: After reigning for forty years in Hebron and seven years in Jerusalem, David dies and is buried in his city. Solomon firmly secures the throne.
I Kings 2:12
Solomon sat upon the throne of his father, David. His reign was firmly established.
וּשְׁלֹמֹ֕ה יָשַׁ֕ב עַל־כִּסֵּ֖א דָּוִ֣ד אָבִ֑יו וַתִּכֹּ֥ן מַלְכֻת֖וֹ מְאֹֽד׃
Maimonides’ ruling about the halachic prerogatives of Jewish kings assert that Shimi deserved royal execution.
Mishneh Torah, Kings and Wars 3:8
משנה תורה, הלכות מלכים ומלחמות ג:ח
An Israelite king has permission to execute anyone who rebels against him. Even if he decreed that one of his subjects must go to a particular place, but he did not go there; or, that [a subject] may not leave his house, but he left - [such a rebel] is liable to the death penalty. If [the king] wishes to kill [the rebel], he must be executed, as [Joshua 1:18] states, “Any man who rebels against [commands issued by] your mouth [...shall be put to death.]” Similarly, the king has permission to execute anyone who disgraces or insults the king, such as Shimi, son of Gera. The king has permission to execute only by the sword. He may imprison and beat someone with a whip for the sake of his [royal] honor. However, he may not declare property to be ownerless; if he [does so] it is theft.
כָּל הַמּוֹרֵד בְּמֶלֶךְ יִשְׂרָאֵל יֵשׁ לַמֶּלֶךְ רְשׁוּת לְהָרְגוֹ. אֲפִלּוּ גָּזַר עַל אֶחָד מִשְּׁאָר הָעָם שֶׁיֵּלֵךְ לְמָקוֹם פְּלוֹנִי וְלֹא הָלַךְ אוֹ שֶׁלֹּא יָצָא מִבֵּיתוֹ וְיָצָא חַיָּב מִיתָה. וְאִם רָצָה לְהָרְגוֹ יֵהָרֵג. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (יהושע א יח) "כָּל אִישׁ אֲשֶׁר יַמְרֶה אֶת פִּיךָ". וְכֵן כָּל הַמְבַזֶּה אֶת הַמֶּלֶךְ אוֹ הַמְחָרְפוֹ יֵשׁ לַמֶּלֶךְ רְשׁוּת לְהָרְגוֹ. כְּשִׁמְעִי בֶּן גֵּרָא. וְאֵין לַמֶּלֶךְ רְשׁוּת לַהֲרֹג אֶלָּא בְּסַיִף בִּלְבַד. וְיֵשׁ לוֹ לֶאֱסֹר וּלְהַכּוֹת בְּשׁוֹטִין לִכְבוֹדוֹ. אֲבָל לֹא יַפְקִיר מָמוֹן וְאִם הִפְקִיר הֲרֵי זֶה גֵּזֶל:
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