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FINAL PREPARATIONS FOR BUILDING THE TEMPLE AND THE PALACE
"Now Solomon purposed to build a house for the name of Jehovah, and a house for his kingdom. And Solomon counted out threescore and ten thousand men to bear burdens, and fourscore thousand men were hewers in the mountains, and three thousand six hundred to oversee them."
"And a house for his kingdom" (2 Chronicles 2:1). This refers to the house Solomon would build for himself. The Chronicler omitted many details that are found in Kings, simply because those details were already widely known. "Knowledge of the temple (and many other things) from Kings and other sources is taken for granted." Therefore, we reject as worthless the speculations of scholars regarding alleged "reasons" why this or that was abbreviated or left out altogether.
The 153,600 men mentioned here were slaves, composed of, "Descendants of those Canaanites whom the children of Israel did not drive out." From Kings it is clear that Israelites were also conscripted by Solomon for such slave labor and required to devote one month of every three to his service.
SOLOMON REQUESTS HELP OF THE KING OF TYRE
"And Solomon sent to Huram the king of Tyre, saying, As thou didst deal with David my father, and didst send him cedars to build him a house to dwell therein, even so deal with me. Behold, I am about to build a house for the name of Jehovah my God, to dedicate it to him, and to burn before him incense of sweet spices, and for the continual showbread, and for the burnt-offerings morning and evening, on the sabbaths, and on the new moons, and on the set feasts of Jehovah our God. This is a set ordinance for ever for Israel."
"Huram the king of Tyre" (2 Chronicles 2:3). This person is called Hiram in Kings; "But throughout Chronicles he is called Huram (except in 1 Chronicles 14:1)."
2 Chronicles 2:4 here is a summary of the principal rituals of the ancient tabernacle and an indication of their continued observance in the projected temple. The entire Pentateuch is, in a sense, summarized in this single verse, in keeping with the entire religious constitution of ancient Israel. Extensive sections of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy are reflected in this single verse. No wonder the critics hate it. Elmslie looked at it, and wrote, "It looks like a heavy-handed addition." However, there is absolutely no evidence of any kind that this verse is an interpolation. It is the previous mind-set of critics that causes them to make such an allegation.
"And the house which I build is great; for great is our God above all gods. But who is able to build him a house, seeing heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain him? who am I then, that I should build him a house, save only to burn incense before him? Now therefore send me a man skillful to work in gold, and in silver, and in brass, and in iron, and in purple, and crimson, and blue, and that knoweth how to grave all manner of gravings, to be with the skillful men that are with me in Judah and in Jerusalem, whom David my father did provide. Send me also cedar-trees, fir-trees, and algum-trees, out of Lebanon; for I know that thy servants know how to cut timber in Lebanon. And, behold, my servants shall be with thy servants, even to prepare me timber in abundance; for the house which I am about to build shall be great and wonderful. And, behold, I will give to thy servants, the hewers that cut timber, twenty thousand measures of beaten wheat, and twenty thousand measures of barley, and twenty thousand baths of wine, and twenty thousand baths of oil."
"The heaven of heavens cannot contain him (God)" (2 Chronicles 2:6). "The notion that God could be confined in a house or a box is an error which skeptics have falsely attributed to the people of God during the O.T. period; but they knew that God was Lord of heaven and earth, and so declared it many times, as Solomon did here." Moreover, it was not a discovery by Solomon. He had most certainly learned it from David, whose Psalms often gave voice to the same truth. The Chronicler's accurate record here of Solomon's words refutes the critic's allegations on this matter also, as well as denying their foolish fairy tale regarding a late date for the Pentateuch.
"That knoweth how to grave all manner of gravings" (2 Chronicles 2:7). The words here rendered grave and gravings are read as engrave and engravings in the RSV.
"And in purple, and crimson, and blue" (2 Chronicles 2:7) Thus, in the color scheme, "The temple, in this respect, as well as in others, conformed to the pattern of the tabernacle (Exodus 25:4; 26:1, etc.)." (See our Commentary, Vol. 8, of the N.T. Series (Hebrews), p. 172, for a discussion of the significance of these colors.)
"Algum-trees out of Lebanon" (2 Chronicles 2:8). Curtis wrote that these were probably, "Sandalwood or ebony."
"Wheat ... barley ... wine ... and oil" (2 Chronicles 2:10). The translation of the quantities of all these supplies into their modern equivalent is of no importance, and is also impossible.
THE RESPONSE OF THE KING OF TYRE
"Then Huram the king of Tyre answered in writing, which he sent to Solomon, Because Jehovah loveth his people, he hath made thee king over them. Huram said moreover, Blessed be Jehovah, the God of Israel, that made heaven and earth, who hath given to David a wise son, endued with discretion and understanding, that should build a house for Jehovah, and a house for his kingdom. And now I have sent a skillful man, endued with understanding, of Huram my father's, the son of a woman of the daughters of Dan; and his father was a man of Tyre, skillful to work in gold, and in silver, in brass, in iron, in stone, and in timber, in purple, and blue, and in fine linen, and in crimson, also to grave any manner of graving, and to devise any device; that there may be a place appointed unto him with thy skillful men, and with the skillful men of my lord David thy father. Now therefore the wheat and the barley, the oil and the wine, which my lord hath spoken of, let him send unto his servants: and we will cut wood out of Lebanon, as much as thou shalt need; and we will bring it to thee by floats to Joppa; and thou shalt carry it up to Jerusalem."
"Blessed be Jehovah ... lord of heaven and earth" (2 Chronicles 2:12). Critics find fault here, as they do at every possible excuse, because of Huram's apparent belief in Jehovah; but anyone should be able to see that the king of Tyre said this in the same lack of sincerity with which he even called Solomon his `lord' in 2 Chronicles 2:15. "In a polytheistic society politeness to a neighbor's god cost nothing."
"Of Huram my father's" (2 Chronicles 2:13). The RSV should be followed here, "I have sent a skillful man ... Huramabi."
"The son of a woman of the daughters of Dan" (2 Chronicles 2:14). Critics love to cite this as a discrepancy with 1 Kings 7:14, which refers to her as "a widow of the tribe of Naphtali," some even calling it a contradiction. Of course, the two passages teach that Huramabi's mother was, by birth, of the tribe of Dan, and by residence of the tribe of Napthtali.
"Let him send unto his servants" (2 Chronicles 2:15). Huram, in these words, surely suggests that the supplies for the upkeep of all the workmen Solomon requested was expected to be paid in advance.
"In floats by sea to Joppa, and thou shalt carry it up to Jerusalem" (2 Chronicles 2:16). This was the nearest seaport to Jerusalem, located about 35 miles east of Joppa, with rugged territory in between. Solomon indeed needed many workmen to transport shiploads of lumber over that distance.
SOLOMON'S CENSUS OF HIS FORCED LABOR GANGS
"And Solomon numbered all the sojourners that were in the land of Israel, after the numbering wherewith David his father had numbered them; and they were found a hundred and fifty thousand and three thousand and six hundred. And he set threescore and ten thousand of them to bear burdens, and fourscore thousand that were hewers in the mountains, and three thousand and six hundred overseers to set the people at work."
"After the numbering wherewith David his father had numbered them" (2 Chronicles 2:17). This means that Solomon's numbering was sinful exactly as was David's (1 Chronicles 21:1-17).
There is no device by which this paragraph could be construed as the Chronicler's compliment to king Solomon. In fact, right here we have the clue to what was wrong with David's `numbering Israel' (1 Chronicles 22:2f). Both he and Solomon were actually in the business of enslaving all of the aliens and sojourners in Israel, (descendants of the original Canaanites whom Israel did not drive out), for one purpose only, that of forcing them to labor in the building of the temple. Here is also the explanation of that total number given at the head of this chapter, namely, 150,000 workers and 3,600 overseers. The census came first, and Solomon compelled all those numbered to enter his forced labor gangs.
"To set the people at work" (2 Chronicles 2:18). "This means to compel them to work. Probably like the Egyptian and Assyrian overseers of forced labor, these officers carried whips to quicken the movement of the sluggish."
It was the brutal and heartless wickedness of Solomon in this very particular that precipitated the rebellion of the ten northern tribes in the reign of Solomon's son Rehoboam. It happened, when Rehoboam sent the hated slave-driver Adoram to negotiate with the dissatisfied northern tribes (1 Kings 12:18). (See our further comment on this in 1Kings.)
Coffman's Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 2". "Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week of Advent