There is trouble in King David’s palace, and not for the first time. The king is elderly and cannot stay warm. All around him there is turmoil and uncertainty. As his days are numbered, who will succeed him and ascend to the throne? In a scene reminiscent of the tragic, failed rebellion of Avshalom, Adoniyah has declared himself heir to the throne. And he has some pretty powerful people in his corner.
Then there’s Shlomo, a younger half-brother to Adoniyah, who has a smaller entourage, but who at the end of the day is affirmed by David as the authoritative heir. Since Adoniyah is older, and seems to have greater clout and a stronger set of followers, how did that happen?
Some readers of this story, which serves as the haftarah for Shabbat Hayei-Sarah, see this as a purely political narrative. They say that Shlomo’s mother, Batsheva, and Natan the Prophet, fear for their lives if Adoniyah were to become king, so they work the backchannels to get a confused old man to agree to their wishes. But there are other ways to understand the story, and they could be instructive to our understanding of modern political intrigue.
On Shabbat morning, we’ll take a closer look at the players in this story, and what we might take from it to inform our thoughts on the events of the day.
Wishing you a Shabbat Shalom,