According to 2 Samuel, Adonijah (’Ǎḏōnîyāh, "Yah is my lord") was the fourth son of King David. His mother was Haggith as recorded in the book of 2 Samuel 3:4. Adonijah was born at Hebron during the long conflict between David and the House of Saul.
After the death of his elder brothers Amnon and Absalom, Adonijah considered himself the heir-apparent to the throne. He acquired chariots and a large entourage. Although the king was aware of this, he neither rebuked his son nor made any inquiry into his actions. David's silence may have been interpreted by Adonijah and others as consent. Adonijah consulted and obtained the support of both the commander of the army Joab and the influential priest Abiathar. However, the priest Zadok; Benaiah, head of the king's bodyguard; Nathan, the court prophet; and others did not side with Adonijah.
In anticipation of his father's imminent death, Adonijah invited his brother princes and the court officials to a solemn sacrifice in order to announce his claim to the throne. He did not invite Solomon or any of his supporters. According to the Jewish Study Bible, by excluding Solomon, Adonijah demonstrates his awareness that he is in effect usurping the throne.
Assuming that Adonijah will soon move to eliminate any rivals or opposition, Nathan warns Bathsheba, Solomon's mother, and counsels her to remind the king of a previous promise to make Solomon his successor. Lillian R. Klein finds in Nathan's promise to confirm Bathsheba's statement a suggestion that her words may have required verification, and that there was no earlier definite promise in Solomon's favor.
However, Adonijah was supplanted by Solomon through the influence of Bathsheba, and through the diplomacy of the prophet Nathan. They induced David to give orders that Solomon should immediately be proclaimed and admitted to the throne.
Adonijah fled and took refuge at the altar, receiving pardon for his conduct from Solomon on the condition that he showed himself a worthy man (1 Kings 1:5-53). He afterwards asked to marry Abishag from Shunem, who served his father David on his deathbed, but Solomon, interpreting the request as a second attempt to gain the throne, denied authorization for such an engagement, even though Bathsheba now pleaded on Adonijah's behalf. Adonijah was then put to death (1 Kings 2:13-25).
- McCurdy, J. Frederic and Ginzberg, Louis, "Adonijah", Jewish Encyclopedia, 1906
- The Jewish Study Bible, Second Edition (1 Kings 1:5-53, n.10) (Adele Berlin, Marc Zvi Brettler, eds.), Oxford University Press, 2014 ISBN 9780199393879
- Klein, Lillian R., "Bathsheba Revealed", A Feminist Companion to Samuel and Kings, (Athalya Brenner, ed.), A&C Black, June 2000, p.59 ISBN 9781841270821