David's Deathbed Instructions to Shelomo


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Last Will and Testament

Before David's death, he not only imparts to Shelomo some final words of wisdom,1 but also leaves him several tasks to complete, exhorting him to punish both Yoav for his assassinations of Avner and Amasa, and Shimi b. Gera for his having cursed David:2

(ה) וְגַם אַתָּה יָדַעְתָּ אֵת אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה לִי יוֹאָב בֶּן צְרוּיָה אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה לִשְׁנֵי שָׂרֵי צִבְאוֹת יִשְׂרָאֵל לְאַבְנֵר בֶּן נֵר וְלַעֲמָשָׂא בֶן יֶתֶר וַיַּהַרְגֵם וַיָּשֶׂם דְּמֵי מִלְחָמָה בְּשָׁלֹם וַיִּתֵּן דְּמֵי מִלְחָמָה בַּחֲגֹרָתוֹ אֲשֶׁר בְּמׇתְנָיו וּבְנַעֲלוֹ אֲשֶׁר בְּרַגְלָיו. (ו) וְעָשִׂיתָ כְּחׇכְמָתֶךָ וְלֹא תוֹרֵד שֵׂיבָתוֹ בְּשָׁלֹם שְׁאֹל....
 (ח) וְהִנֵּה עִמְּךָ שִׁמְעִי בֶן גֵּרָא בֶן הַיְמִינִי מִבַּחֻרִים וְהוּא קִלְלַנִי קְלָלָה נִמְרֶצֶת בְּיוֹם לֶכְתִּי מַחֲנָיִם וְהוּא יָרַד לִקְרָאתִי הַיַּרְדֵּן וָאֶשָּׁבַע לוֹ בַי"י לֵאמֹר אִם אֲמִיתְךָ בֶּחָרֶב. (ט) וְעַתָּה אַל תְּנַקֵּהוּ כִּי אִישׁ חָכָם אָתָּה וְיָדַעְתָּ אֵת אֲשֶׁר תַּעֲשֶׂה לּוֹ וְהוֹרַדְתָּ אֶת שֵׂיבָתוֹ בְּדָם שְׁאוֹל.
(5) Moreover thou knowest also what Joab the son of Zeruiah did unto me, even what he did to the two captains of the hosts of Israel, unto Abner the son of Ner and unto Amasa the son of Jether, whom he slew, and shed the blood of war in peace, and put the blood of war upon his girdle that was about his loins, and in his shoes that were on his feet. (6) Do therefore according to thy wisdom, and let not his hoar head go down to the grave in peace...
(8) And, behold, there is with thee Shimei the son of Gera, the Benjamite, of Bahurim, who cursed me with a grievous curse in the day when I went to Mahanaim; but he came down to meet me at the Jordan, and I swore to him by the Lord, saying: I will not put thee to death with the sword. (9) Now therefore hold him not guiltless, for thou art a wise man; and thou wilt know what thou oughtest to do unto him, and thou shalt bring his hoar head down to the grave with blood.'

These deathbed directives are somewhat surprising, and may even strike the reader as inappropriate.  If David thought these opponents worthy of retribution, why had he not punished them himself?  Is it fair of him to request that his son be the one to do his dirty work?  Why should Shelomo need to taint the opening of his reign with bloodshed?

The Crimes

When asking Shelomo to punish his enemies, David provides background regarding the  crimes they committed, justifying the call for retribution. Certain aspects of David's descriptions of the original events, however, are difficult to understand:

Additional Questions

Several other question emerge from the unit which relate to the issues discussed above: