(ad' oh nai' juh) HEBREW: ADHONIYAH
"Yah(weh) is my Lord"

While David was ruling Judah from Hebron, his fourth son, Adonijah, was born to a little-known woman named Haggith. Adonijah would most likely also have remained an obscure character except for the fact that his three elder brothers all died before his father did - Amnon was murderered, Chileab died under unknown circumstances, and Absalom was killed as a usurper. Adonijah thus became the crown prince of Israel.

As he neared 40 years of age, Adonijah made no secret of his claim to the throne. David encouraged his royal ambitions both by yielding to his son's actions and never questioning his judgement and by allowing him to establish a personal bodyguard of 50 footmen along with charioteers and horsemen. Although David had not officially designated Adonijah as his successor, "all Israel fully expected" (1 Kg. 2:15) David's eldest surviving son to succeed him.

When David became infirm and near death, Adonijah conferred with the king's senior advisors - Joab, commander of the army, and Abiathar, one of the two chief priests - to arrange the transfer of government. To solidify support he held a sacrificial meal for David's other sons and his royal officials. But Adonijah did not invite his half brother Solomon, who was about 24 at the time, probably because he knew that Solomon himself had royal ambitions and was supported by the prophet Nathan, his mother Bathsheba, the priest Zadok, and the commander of David's personal bodyguard, Benaiah.

Adonijah fatally underestimated the strength of Solomon's supporters, who portrayed Adonijah's actions as treasonous and urged the infirm king to fulfill his secret oath to Bathsheba that Solomon would succeed him. David was persuaded and had Zadok and Nathan anoint Solomon as king. When news came to Adonijah that Solomon had been crowned, he fled to the altar of God for asylum, and only with Solomon's assurance of safety did he pledge allegiance to the new king.

Shortly after David's death, Adonijah went to Bathsheba and requested her to ask Solomon to award him David's beautiful young nurse Abishag as a wife. Since the royal harem belonged exclusively to the new king, the request was a usurpation of royal prerogatives - an offense for which Solomon immediately had Adonijah executed.

{E2 Dictionary of Biblical People}

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