His Father Had Never Saddened him
הרב אברהם ריבלין, המשגיח הרוחני לשעבר
After four introductory verses dealing with Avishag the Shunamite, the Haftorah moves on to the main subject of the chapter – Adoniah's rebellion. The rebellion itself is introduced with the pasuk: "Adoniah son of Chagit exalted himself saying, 'I shall reign!' He provided himself with chariot and riders, and fifty men to run before him." (Melachim I 1:5) This pasuk expresses Adoniah's desire and ambition to rule and notes an act of his to "test the waters" towards the rebellion. The same thing happened with Avshalom, as it says: "It happened after this that Avshalom prepared for himself chariot and horses and fifty men to run before him." (Shmuel II 15:1) Only after he subverted the nation behind David's back, an act that required preparation, did he rebel against the king.
The rebellion itself is described later in verse 7: "He discussed his intentions with Yoav son of Tzruya and Evyatar the kohen and they assisted [following] after Adoniah" (Melachim I 1:7). However, beforehand, in verse 6 it says: "All his days his father had never saddened him by saying, 'Why have you done this?' Moreover he was very handsome and his [mother bore] him after Avshalom." This pasuk seems to interrupt the sequence of the rebellion in order to describe Adoniah and his character. However a second glance at this pasuk reveals that the pasuk does not interrupt the sequence, but instead strengthens it. More specifically, the pasuk explains how Adoniah's rebellion turned into reality, by emphasizing three reasons that encouraged Adoniah to rebel.
A. "All his days his father had never saddened him by saying, 'Why have you done this?'" According to several commentators this relates to the previous pasuk, that Adoniah "exalted himself saying, 'I shall reign!'" and adopted for himself a number of royal practices. When he saw that David did not react, he realized that the king tacitly agreed with what he was doing and maybe even supported it. (Cf. Malbim) However, the words: "All his days" reveal that the pasuk's intention is not to this specific incident of Adoniah's royal ambitions, but rather to the way David raised Adoniah as a child.
Chazal, followed by other commentators, explain that the main reason for Adoniah's rebellion lies in the fact that his father David never scolded him as a child. Rashi explains: "Never saddened him – never angered him, to teach you that whoever withholds rebuke from his son will lead to his death." Rashi's source lies in what Chazal teach about the pasuk: "One who spares his rod hates his child" (Mishlei 13:24) - "This teaches you that whoever spares his child from the rod will eventually cause him to stray to a bad path, and he will end up hating him. This is how David treated Adoniah. He never beat him or scolded him therefore caused Adoniah to stray." (Shemot Rabbah 1:1) The verb 'saddened him' (atzavo), angered him with rebuke, has be translated in Modern Hebrew differently as 'molded.' Indeed, compliments and positive encouragement for good behavior normally help mold a child's character. However, alongside this, his character needs to be molded by scolding him when he acts improperly.
When a parent scolds properly, the punished child is indeed sad, but together with the sadness and pain he also feels happiness. He understands that his parent or educator care about him, as it says: "For Hashem admonishes the one he loves." (Mishlei 3:12) David said: "It is good for me that I was afflicted, so that I might learn your statutes." (Tehillim 119:71) "Your rod and your staff, they comfort me." (Tehillim 23:4) However he did not successfully implement these verses with his son, where has was supposed to deliver the admonition, not receive it, and inflict punishment, not be punished. The reason behind this may be that David understood that any suffering he received would help atone for his sin with Bat Sheva. He therefore accepted with understanding and submission the arrogant behavior of Avshalom and Adoniah.
B. "Moreover, he was very handsome." Ralbag explains: "Because of his beauty he considered himself worthy of ruling." Metzudat David writes the same. Indeed, in a number of verses we find the trait of beauty attributed to the king: "Your eyes will behold the King in his splendor" (Yeshaya 33:17), "I say, 'My works are for a king' ... You are beautiful beyond other men." (Tehillim 45:2-3) Rambam rules: "The king cuts his hair every day, and grooms himself and dresses himself with fancy clothing." (Hil. Melachim 2:5) The importance of beauty for the king apparently stems from the notion of honor, which is fundamental to royalty. It is hard to honor a person, or even an object, that is repulsive, even though it is a mitzvah to honor them also.
C. "and [his mother] bore him after Avshalom." The Tanach lists David's children: "His firstborn was Amnon ... his second [son] was Kilav ... the third was Avshalom ... the fourth was Adoniah b. Chagit." (Shmuel II 3:2-4) After the first three died, Adoniah remained the oldest of David's sons, and therefore he thought that he deserved the monarchy. Even though we do not find that the king must be the oldest brother, and in Sefer Bereishit it is the younger one who is chosen, and David himself was "the little one" – Adoniah thought that he had the right to the firstborn status and the monarchy.
However, it is possible that the fact that Adoniah was born after Avshalom comes to emphasize another aspect, that of the common denominator of Avshalom and Adoniah. It is possible that the fact that they were the same age and grew up together caused Avshalom to have tremendous influence on Adoniah: "Just as this one [Avshalom] made a chariot and horses, so, too, this one [Adoniah] made; just as this was quarrelsome, so, too, this one was; just as this one had fifty people running before him, so, too, this one." (Midrash Tehillim ch. 2) "Since this one went astray, so, too, he went astray." (Shemot Rabbah 1:1) "He [also] was very handsome – like Avshalom." (Ralbag) Here is another reason for Adoniah's decision to rebel – Avshalom's negative influence on him, as it says, "Woe to the wicked, woe to his neighbor." (Tanchuma Korach 4)
It is worth mentioning that according to the Malbim the true reason for Adoniah's rebellion is found in the introductory verses – his desire for Avishag. Our verse just adds fuel to the fire of lust that already burned in Adoniah, and led him to rebel against his father.
קוד השיעור: 3587