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CHAPTER 15. WHAT CHARGE DAVID GAVE TO HIS SON SOLOMON AT THE APPROACH OF HIS DEATH, AND HOW MANY THINGS HE LEFT HIM FOR THE BUILDING OF THE TEMPLE.
1. A LITTLE afterward David also fell into a distemper, by reason of his age; and perceiving that he was near to death, he called his son Solomon, and discoursed to him thus: "I am now, O my son, going to my grave, and to my fathers, which is the common way which all men that now are, or shall be hereafter, must go; from which way it is no longer possible to return, and to know any thing that is done in this world. On which account I exhort thee, while I am still alive, though already very near to death, in the same manner as I have formerly said in my advice to thee, to be righteous towards thy subjects, and religious towards God, that hath given thee thy kingdom; to observe his commands and his laws, which he hath sent us by Moses; and neither do thou out of favor nor flattery allow any lust or other passion to weigh with thee to disregard them; for if thou transgressest his laws, thou wilt lose the favor of God, and thou wilt turn away his providence from thee in all things; but if thou behave thyself so as it behooves thee, and as I exhort thee, thou wilt preserve our kingdom to our family, and no other house will bear rule over the Hebrews but we ourselves for all ages. Be thou also mindful of the transgressions of Joab,244244 David is here greatly blamed by some for recommending Joab and Shimei to be punished by Solomon, if he could find a proper occasion, after he had borne with the first a long while, and seemed to have pardoned the other entirely, which Solomon executed accordingly; yet I cannot discern any fault either in David or Solomon in these cases. Joab's murder of Abner and Amasa were very barbarous, and could not properly be forgiven either by David or Solomon; for a dispensing power in kings for the crime of willful murder is warranted by no law of God, nay, is directly against it every where; nor is it, for certain, in the power of men to grant such a prerogative to any of their kings; though Joab was so nearly related to David, and so potent in the army under a warlike administration, that David durst not himself put him to death, 2 Samuel 3:39; 19:7. Shimei's cursing the Lord's anointed, and this without any just cause, was the highest act of treason against God and his anointed king, and justly deserved death; and though David could forgive treason against himself, yet had he done no more in the case of Shimei than promised him that he would not then, on the day of his return and reinauguration, or upon that occasion, himself put him to death, 2 Samuel 19:22; and he swore to him no further, ver. 23, as the words are in Josephus, than that he would not then put him to death, which he performed; nor was Solomon under any obligation to spare such a traitor. the captain of the host, who hath slain two generals out of envy, and those righteous and good men, Abner the son of Ner, and Amasa the son of Jether; whose death do thou avenge as shall seem good to thee, since Joab hath been too hard for me, and more potent than myself, and so hath escaped punishment hitherto. I also commit to thee the son of Barzillai the Gileadite, whom, in order to gratify me, thou shalt have in great honor, and take great care of; for we have not done good to him first, but we only repay that debt which we owe to his father for what he did to me in my flight. There is also Shimei the son of Gera, of the tribe of Benjamin, who, after he had cast many reproaches upon me, when, in my flight, I was going to Mahanaim, met me at Jordan, and received assurances that he should then suffer nothing. Do thou now seek out for some just occasion, and punish him."
2. When David had given these admonitions to his son about public affairs, and about his friends, and about those whom he knew to deserve punishment, he died, having lived seventy years, and reigned seven years and six months in Hebron over the tribe of Judah, and thirty-three years in Jerusalem over all the country. This man was of an excellent character, and was endowed with all virtues that were desirable in a king, and in one that had the preservation of so many tribes committed to him; for he was a man of valor in a very extraordinary degree, and went readily and first of all into dangers, when he was to fight for his subjects, as exciting the soldiers to action by his own labors, and fighting for them, and not by commanding them in a despotic way. He was also of very great abilities in understanding, and apprehension of present and future circumstances, when he was to manage any affairs. He was prudent and moderate, and kind to such as were under any calamities; he was righteous and humane, which are good qualities, peculiarly fit for kings; nor was he guilty of any offense in the exercise of so great an authority, but in the business of the wife of Uriah. He also left behind him greater wealth than any other king, either of the Hebrews or, of other nations, ever did.
3. He was buried by his son Solomon, in Jerusalem, with great magnificence, and with all the other funeral pomp which kings used to be buried with; moreover, he had great and immense wealth buried with him, the vastness of which may be easily conjectured at by what I shall now say; for a thousand and three hundred years afterward Hyrcanus the high priest, when he was besieged by Antiochus, that was called the Pious, the son of Demetrius, and was desirous of giving him money to get him to raise the siege and draw off his army, and having no other method of compassing the money, opened one room of David's sepulcher, and took out three thousand talents, and gave part of that sum to Antiochus; and by this means caused the siege to be raised, as we have informed the reader elsewhere. Nay, after him, and that many years, Herod the king opened another room, and took away a great deal of money, and yet neither of them came at the coffins of the kings themselves, for their bodies were buried under the earth so artfully, that they did not appear to even those that entered into their monuments. But so much shall suffice us to have said concerning these matters.
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