Haftarah Reflections 5
Torah portion Genesis 23 : 1 – 25 : 18
Haftarah portion 1 Kings 1 : 1 – 31
Listen to the Prophets
The connection between this week’s Torah portion and the Haftarah, seems to be about “age”, because the Torah portion makes reference to the elderly Abraham (Genesis 24), and the Haftarah begins with reference to the elderly King David. Superficially, there does not seem to be much other connection in the comparison of their respective lives, except that they were both pivotal to God’s grand plan for mankind.
I was also quite surprised to note, during this study, that whilst Abraham lived 175 years, King David was ‘only’ about 70 years old at the time of this story, which describes him as ‘in advanced years’.
We have a relatively short Haftarah reading this week. It starts with the “very old” King David, seemingly losing his grip on his kingly role. The much respected King David had formerly been a pillar of strength in the Nation, having brought the various tribes to unite under his leadership. They enjoyed peace and prosperity in the land, and had much for which to thank David. BUT, he was not without fault.
There appears to be a sub-plot running in the parashah. King David lived in Hebron for the first 7 years or so of his reign. During that time, he took a number of wives, the fourth being a lady called Haggith. The fourth child she bore David was called Adonijah, and according to our text, a very good looking young man. However, it is quite significant to me that we are told that David “had never rebuked him at any time”.
Was he such a good boy that he did not need correction?
Was he so clever that he managed to ‘stay under the radar’ when David was around?
Was David such a poor father that he did not spend time with the boy? Of course we do not know. But what we can deduce is that he was perhaps a bit of a “spoilt brat”. (with apologies if I have got that bit wrong!!) What we do know, on the authority of Scripture, that just like the Fatherly example given by God Himself “whom He loves, He chastens”, and this boy had never been chastened by his father.
In any event, the ‘proverbial chickens’ come home to roost when Adonijah sees his sick, elderly, disinterested father, David, confined to his bed. To top that off, he noticed that David was attended by a very attractive nurse. So he plotted to become King in David’s place, thinking that he would not be opposed, certainly not by his father. Then he would get all the benefits of kingship, including the attention of the pretty nurse!! (We know this from events later in the story, because he asked his mother, Haggith, to approach the Queen Mother, Bathsheba, to get King Solomon’s permission for him to marry the girl. A request which resulted in his eventual assassination.) We can only wonder what sort of a person Adonijah might have been with a loving father’s correction from time to time. Perhaps this is an up to date lesson for fathers to learn about bringing up children, from the example in this ancient story. (see Proverbs 22;15)
In any event, the presumptuous Adonijah proclaimed himself King with much feasting and merriment. But of course, it did not last.
King David’s faithful friends found the way to ensure that the frail King David got to know about the matter. (I am reminded here of words often spoken to me by my gracious mother. ‘“be sure your sins will find you out”’, and more often than not, they did!!). Nathan, the prophet, devised the tactics, which took account of the fact that King David MIGHT have authorized the succession plan. (Which, of course, he had not).
The end of the story, which does not form part of our Haftarah reading, is that Solomon is installed as King of Israel, the last King of the united Kingdom.
Some years ago, on a visit to Israel, I was taken by some friends to, what was then, a large cave in the valley below the old City of David, which encompassed the Gihon Spring. We had a very youthful guide, speaking only Hebrew, and he jumped around that cave, exclaiming excitedly, “I don’t know if it was here (then big jump to another part of the cave) or if it was here (another jump) or here (another jump), BUT IT WAS HERE (enthusiastically motioning with his arms the whole area of the cave) THAT SOLOMON WAS MADE KING OF ISRAEL. For me an unforgettable experience of joy of being in a place where an event in Biblical history ACTUALLY occurred.
And that is just part of what our Mighty God ordained and planned to accomplish His purposes.