Adoniram, (also called Adoram or Hadoram) was an Israelite official in charge of conscripted labor during the reigns of David, Solomon and Rehoboam. Being in charge of “conscripted labor”, Adoniram oversaw the public service of Israelites for the building projects of his masters. The exact distinction between the forced labor of the Israelites and the slave labor of foreigners in the land is unclear (it appears Israelite laborers had less requirements and did not have to work year-round).
Adoniram first served in his official capacity under David, though his name is only referenced once, among David's officials while others on the list are referenced multiple times throughout the record of David’s reign. The most likely explanation of this, is the inclusion by the author in anticipation to his role in Solomon's reign (see 2 Samuel). As David planned the construction of the temple, he had tapped a loyal subject of the throne to oversee the labor force needed for the task.
Solomon’s Building Projects
The name Adoniram is first found in the list of Solomon’s officials who administered the king’s government on a national level. It was his task to call upon the labor of 30,000 of his countrymen in the monumental job of building the Temple.
In the fourth year of Solomon's reign, Adoniram drafted these Israelite laborers to process wood from the Lebanon mountains in a joint effort with Hiram, king of Tyre . The 30,000 were split into three shifts of 10,000 each serving one month at a time. The workers in Lebanon transported the wood via raft back to Israel and broke the wood down into various size pieces.
It is probable that Adoniram managed the 3,300 supervisors who oversaw the work of the stone cutters and lifters (different labor groups than included in the conscription). In addition, he may have overseen other labor forces responsible for many other projects including Solomon’s Palace, military fortifications in multiple cities. The exact nature of this force and what the difference between Israelite conscripted laborers and non-Israelite slaves is difficult to determine.
Death under Rehoboam
In the days of Solomon, Adoniram had served faithfully as he helped finance the reign of the riches king of Israel. When Solomon died, his son Rehoboam faced a crowd led by a former rebel named Jeroboam who asked the King to ease the burden put on the burden on the people. Adoniram's peers, the old counselors of Solomon, advised the young king to be kind to the workers in order to get their respect.
However Rehoboam decided to follow the advice of his younger friends, demanding an increase of the conscripted labor of the Israelites instead. To accomplish this task, Adoniram accompanied Rehoboam in a visit to the towns of workers to recruit a reluctant labor force to work for his King. After doing his job for over 40 years, the old taskmaster fell to the angry mob which had turned to follow Jereboam. In the first year of the reign of Rehoboam, mob of Israelite rebels stoned Adoniram to death. Rehoboam escaped narrowly and retreated to Jerusalem.