Melachim I 2:8-9 reads

And, behold, there is with you Shimei the son of Gera the Benjamite of Bahurim, who cursed me with a grievous curse on the day when I went to Mahanaim, and he came down to meet me at the Jordan, and I swore to him by the Lord, saying, 'I will not put you to death with the sword.' ח. וְהִנֵּה עִמְּךָ שִׁמְעִי בֶן גֵּרָא בֶן הַיְמִינִי מִבַּחֻרִים וְהוּא קִלְלַנִי קְלָלָה נִמְרֶצֶת בְּיוֹם לֶכְתִּי מַחֲנָיִם וְהוּא יָרַד לִקְרָאתִי הַיַּרְדֵּן וָאֶשָּׁבַע לוֹ בַיהֹוָה לֵאמֹר אִם אֲמִיתְךָ בֶּחָרֶב:

And now hold him not guiltless, for you are a wise man, and you will surely know what you ought to do to him, and you shall bring his hoary head down to the grave with blood." ט. וְעַתָּה אַל תְּנַקֵּהוּ כִּי אִישׁ חָכָם אָתָּה וְיָדַעְתָּ אֵת אֲשֶׁר תַּעֲשֶׂה לּוֹ וְהוֹרַדְתָּ אֶת שֵׂיבָתוֹ בְּדָם שְׁאוֹל:

However when this episode actually occurred David HaMelech's response to Shimei seems quite different:

Shmuel II 16:9-10

And Abishai the son of Zeruiah said to the king, "Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? let me go over, I beg you, and remove his head." ט. וַיֹּאמֶר אֲבִישַׁי בֶּן צְרוּיָה אֶל הַמֶּלֶךְ לָמָּה יְקַלֵּל הַכֶּלֶב הַמֵּת הַזֶּה אֶת אֲדֹנִי הַמֶּלֶךְ אֶעְבְּרָה נָּא וְאָסִירָה אֶת רֹאשׁוֹ:

And the king said, "What is it between me and you, sons of Zeruiah? So let him curse, because the Lord has [surely] said to him, 'Curse David'; who then shall [have the right to] say, 'Why have you done so'?" י. וַיֹּאמֶר הַמֶּלֶךְ מַה לִּי וְלָכֶם בְּנֵי צְרֻיָה כֹּה יְקַלֵּל כִּי יְהֹוָה אָמַר לוֹ קַלֵּל אֶת דָּוִד וּמִי יֹאמַר מַדּוּעַ עָשִֹיתָה כֵּן:

So if David HaMelech objected to to punishing Shimei then, why did he later on tell Shlomo to punish him?

2 Answers 2


Both RaDaK and Malbim understand that David was not telling Shelomo to execute Shime'i outright, but each saw it to be done differently:

  • RaDak writes( on MelakhimI 2:8):

    ירד לקראתי - שאמחול לו ונשבעתי לו שלא אמיתנו, אף על פי שנשבעתי לו שלא אמיתנו, חייב מיתה הוא, ולשמור שבועתי לא תמיתנו, עד שתמצא לו עלה ועון וסבב אתה הדבר שיבא לידי עון, שיהיה לך דין עליו, כדי להמיתו כי איש חכם אתה ותדע למצוא לו עילה

    In my translation:

    Came down to meet me - that I may absolve him and I swore that I would not put him to death, [and] although I swore that I would not put him to death, he is to be put to death, and [in order] to keep my oath you shall not put him to death, until you find him cause and iniquity and turn it so that he comes to an iniquity, so you have a judgment to put upon him, in order to put him to death for you are a wise man and will find him a cause.

  • Malbim writes( on MelakhimI 2:9):

    ועתה - רצה לומר אני נשבעתי ומחלתי לו ועתה אם יחטא לך אל תנקהו, כי איש חכם אתה וידעת את אשר תעשה לו לנסותו אם פי מלך ישמור כראוי ואם רעה תמצא בו והורדת את שיבתו בדם שאול, ואל תמחול לו

    In My translation:

    And now - meaning to say I swore and absolved him and now if he sins to you hold him not guiltless, for you are a wise man, and you will surely know what you ought to do to him to test him if he obeys the king appropriately and if you find wrong in him and you shall bring his hoary head down to the grave with blood and do not absolve him.

According to RaDaQ's interpretation David's absolution and oath did not remove from Shime'i the requirement of death for his actions, but only David's ability to carry it out( or Shlomo's ability to do so in his name). So, he instructed Shelomo to find a way to do so.

According to Malbim's interpretation, Shime'i was not to be put to death( for his crime against David), but his loyalty was not to be trusted, and David forgiving him was not to be considered a precedent for any subsequent crimes. So, he instructed Shelomo to test Shime'i, and only if he found him guilty to execute him, and to not absolve him.

  • And scholomo has right to force people to swear to do silly things (like not going somewhere?)
    – user4951
    Commented Jan 6, 2013 at 5:29
  • @JimThio I don't understand your comment: Who was he supposed to be forcing to swear? Where not to go?
    – Tamir Evan
    Commented Jan 6, 2013 at 13:17
  • Shlomo forced shimei to swear that he's not going to move around. Then a slave get out. Shimei chase the slave and Shlomo used that as justification to kill Shimei.
    – user4951
    Commented Jan 6, 2013 at 13:29
  • @JimThio What does this have to do with the question asked, or more importantly, with the answer I gave?
    – Tamir Evan
    Commented Jan 6, 2013 at 13:38
  • Well, Shlomo need a reason to kill Shimei. So he make Shimei swear an oath not to leave his house. Does a king have right to tell his subject not to leave a house?
    – user4951
    Commented Sep 22, 2013 at 11:22

The Targum to Esther 2:5 says that Mordechai was descended from Shimei ben Geira, as was Esther, and that David's attitude toward Shimei initially was due to his prophetic knowledge of the two saviors of Israel that were to come from him. Once David saw that Shimei had stopped having children, he knew that Mordechai and Esther were accounted for, so he had Solomon kill Shimei.

  • The Targum says all of that, or you are explaining what comes out from the Targum? (+1 either way.) Commented Mar 30, 2014 at 18:09
  • Which Targum is this?
    – Double AA
    Commented Mar 30, 2014 at 18:09
  • @DoubleAA see source. I only learned the targum that accompanies the text, not Targum Sheni. Targum Sheni may say this, but I haven't seen it inside so I wouldn't know.
    – Baby Seal
    Commented Mar 30, 2014 at 20:24
  • @YEZ says all, see source.
    – Baby Seal
    Commented Mar 30, 2014 at 20:26

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