Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature
(Heb. Adoniyah’, אֲדֹנַיָּה , my lord is Jehovah, otherwise lord [i.e. worshipper comp. AB-] of Jehovah; also in the prolonged form Adoniya’ hu, אֲדֹנַיָּהוּ, 1 Kings 1:8; 1 Kings 1:17; 1 Kings 1:24-25; 1 Kings 1:41-51; 1 Kings 2:13-24; 2 Chronicles 17:8; Sept. Ἀδωνίας, but in 2 Samuel 3:4; 1 Chronicles 3:2, Ἀδωνία ; in Nehemiah 10:16, Ἀδανία v. r. Ἀαναά, Ἀανία ), the name of three men. (See TOB-ADONIJAH).
1. The fourth son of David, and his second by Haggith; born while his father reigned over Judah only (2 Samuel 3:4). B.C. cir. 1050. According to Oriental usages, Adonijah might have considered his claim superior to that of his eldest brother Amnon, who was born while his father was in a private station but not to that of Absalom, who was not only his elder Brother, and born while his father was a king, but was of royal descent on the side of his mother. When, however, Amnon and Absalom were both dead, he became, by order of birth, the heir-apparent to the throne. But this order had been set aside in favor of Solomon, who was born while his father was king of all Israel. Unawed by the example of Absalom (q.v.), Adonijah took the same means of showing that he was not disposed to relinquish the claim of primogeniture which now devolved upon him (comp. Josephus, Ant. 7:14, 4). But it does not appear to have been his wish to trouble his father as Absalom had done; for he waited till David appeared at the point of death, when he called around him a number of influential men, whom he had previously gained over, and caused himself to be proclaimed king. In all likelihood, if Absalom had waited till a similar opportunity, Joab and Abiathar would have given him their support; but his premature and unnatural attempt to dethrone his father disgusted these friends of David. This danger was avoided by Adonijah; but his plot was, notwithstanding, defeated by the prompt measures taken by David, who, at the instance of Nathan and Bathsheba, directed Solomon to be at once proclaimed king, with solemn coronation by Zadok, and admitted to the real exercise of the sovereign power. Adonijah then saw that all was lost, and fled to the altar, (See ASYLUM), which he refused to leave without a promise of pardon from King Solomon. This he received, but was warned that any further attempt of the same kind would be fatal to him (1 Kings 1:5-53), B.C. cir. 1015.
Accordingly, when, some time after the death of David, Adonijah covertly endeavored to reproduce his claim through a marriage with Abishag (q.v.), the virgin widow of his father, his design was at once penetrated by the king, by whose order he was instantly put to death (1 Kings 2:13-25), B.C. cir. 1012. See SOLOMON. Far from looking upon this as "the most flagrant act of despotism since Doeg massacred the priests at Saul’ s command" (Newman, Hebrew Monarchy, ch. 4), we must consider that the clemency of Solomon, in sparing Adonijah till he thus again revealed a treasonable purpose, stands in remarkable contrast with the almost universal practice of Eastern sovereigns. Any one of these, situated like Solomon, would probably have secured his throne by putting all his brothers to death, whereas we have no reason to think that any of David’ s sons suffered except the open pretender Adonijah, though all seem to have opposed Solomon’ s claims; and if his execution be thought an act of severity, we must remember that we cannot expect to find the principles of the Gospel acted upon a thousand years before Christ came, and that it is hard for us, in this nineteenth century, altogether to realize the position of an Oriental king in that remote age. (See Niemeyer, Charakterist. 4, 349 sq.; Kitto, Daily Bible Illust. in loc.)
2. One of the Levites sent by Jehoshaphat to assist in teaching the law to the inhabitants of Judah (2 Chronicles 17:8), B.C. 909.
3. A chief Israelite after the captivity (Nehemiah 10:16); probably the same elsewhere (Ezra 2:13; Ezra 8:13; Nehemiah 7:18) called ADONIKAM (See ADONIKAM) (q.v.).
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McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Adonijah'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/a/adonijah.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.