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The meaning of Adoniram in the Bible
(From International Standard Bible Encyclopedia)

ad-o-ni'-ram ('adhoniram, "my lord is exalted"): An official of Solomon (I Kings 4:6; I Kings 5:14). Near the close of the reign of David, and at the opening of the reign of Rehoboam, the same office was held by Adoram (II Samuel 20:24; I Kings 12:18). The name Adoram seems to be a contraction of Adoniram, and doubtless the same person held the office in all the three reigns. The name also appears as Hadoram (II Chronicles 10:18). In the King James Version and the Revised Version (British and American) the office is variantly described as "over the tribute," which is misleading, and "over the levy," which is correct, though obscure. In the American Standard Revised Version it is uniformly "over the men subject to taskwork." Adoniram was at the head of the department of forced labor for the government. The record is to the effect that peoples conquered by Israel, except the Canaanites, were to be spared, subject to the obligation to forced labor on the public works (Deuteronomy 20:11); that this law was actually extended to the Canaanites (Joshua 16:10; Joshua 17:13; Judges 1:28 ff.); that David, in his preparations for the temple, organized and handed over to Solomon a service of forced labor (I Chronicles 22:2, I Chronicles 22:15, etc.); that under Solomon this service was elaborately maintained (I Kings 5:13 ff.; I Kings 9:15 ff.; II Chronicles 8:7 ff.). It was not for the temple only, but for all Solomon's numerous building enterprises. In theory men of Israelite blood were free from this burden, but practically they found it a burden and a grievance. At the accession of Rehoboam they protested against it (1Ki. 12; 2Ch. 10). Nothing in the account is more indicative of Rehoboam's utter lack of good judgment than his sending his veteran superintendent of the forced labor department to confer with the people. The murder of Adoniram, and the ignominious flight of Rehoboam, were natural consequences.

Willis J. Beecher


See more on the meaning of Adoniram in the Bible:
Adoniram {Easton's Bible Dictionary}
Adoniram {Hitchcock's Bible Name}

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