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Bible Commentaries
1 Kings 4

Haydock's Catholic Bible CommentaryHaydock's Catholic Commentary

Verse 2

Azarias. Some translate, "grandson of Sadoc, (and son of Achimaas) was priest," to assist his father, unless he was born of some other. Cohen signifies also prince, ver. 5. Azarias was scribe, as well as the two following, though not all at the same time. The office was very important, Judges v. 14.

Verse 3

Sisa. Perhaps the same with Siva, who was under David. --- Recorder. Historiographer; (Calmet) the presenter of petitions. (Grotius) (2 Kings viii. 16.)

Verse 4

Abiathar. By this it appears that Abiathar was not altogether deposed from the high priesthood; but only banished to his country house; and by that means excluded from the exercise of his functions. (Challoner) --- He retained the name, as bishops still do, after they have resigned their see. (Calmet) --- Some think that Solomon reinstated Abiathar to his office. (Estius)

Verse 5

King. President of the council, (Menochius) steward of the household. --- Priest refers to Zabud here, though the Hebrew is ambiguous. It means also a prince. (Haydock) --- He was chief officer and favourite of Solomon, (Calmet) as Chusai had been of David, 2 Kings xvi. 16.

Verse 6

House. Septuagint, "Eliak was also director of the house," Greek: oikonomos. (Haydock) --- It is impossible to mark, with precision, the extent of these offices. --- Tribute, or levy of workmen, as it is expressed, chap. v. 14.

Verse 7

Month. The lunar year was not then in use; (Calmet) or else, the first of these governors, was in office during the 13th, or intercalary month, every third year, and the rest in succession. (Tostat)

Verse 8

Benhur. Ben here, and in the following verses, may signify "the son of Hur," &c. (Calmet) --- Septuagint retain both the original term, and its explanation, "Ben the son of Or." But they afterwards read only "the son of Dakar....of Esed....of Abinadab....and Gaber."

Verse 11

To wife. Not at the beginning of his reign, ver. 15. (Menochius) --- This chapter gives a general idea of the officers who lived under Solomon. (Calmet)

Verse 14

Manaim, which is often rendered the camp. The word is read Mahanaim, by the Masorets, (2 Kings ii. 8,) and by the Vulgate, Genesis xxxii. 2. (Haydock)

Verse 19

Land. Hebrew, "the only officer who was in the land," (Haydock) except in the towns of Jair, ver. 13. (Calmet) --- His province had belonged to two kings. (Menochius)

Verse 20

Multitude. We may suppose seven millions; though, if the calculation of Chronicles be more accurate, they were much more numerous. See 2 Kings xxiv. 9. (Haydock)

Verse 21

The river. Euphrates. (Challoner) --- To, or "of the land," terræ. (Haydock) --- This river may denote the torrent Besor, as Solomon’s dominions extended not only as far as Gaza, but also to the oriental branch of the Nile, ver. 24. Thus one verse explains the other. There were, indeed, no kingdoms (Calmet) in this portion of land, which is now quite barren: but formerly it had several cities, and they belonged to various kings of Egypt, Arabia, the Philistines, &c. (Haydock) --- Hebrew may be rendered "from the river, (Euphrates) the land of the Philistines, and to the border," &c., (Calmet) agreeably to 2 Paralipomenon ix. 26. He exercised authority over all the kings from the river Euphrates to the land, &c. Hebrew, "the river even unto," &c. Solomon had all the kings of Syria, Ammon, the Philistines, &c., under him; so that his empire took in all that had been promised to Abraham. (Haydock) See St. Augustine, q. 21. (Josue)

Verse 22

Measures, (cori.) Each of which contained little less than 300 pints. (Calmet) --- A corus is equivalent to 30 modii, and would support as many men a day; so that the family of Solomon would contain 2,700 people. (Cornelius a Lapide) (Menochius) --- Villalpand calculates 48,600, and Calvisius 54,000.

Verse 23

Buffaloes. Yachmur means also a sort of wild-goat, like a stag, Deuteronomy xiv. 5. (Bochart, Anim. i. B. iii. 22.) --- Fowls. Some Rabbins explain barburim, (or borbrim) of capons, or birds from Barbary; as if this name had been known in the days of Solomon. (Calmet) --- There was an ancient Ethiopian Barbary on the Persian gulf, (Bochart) with which the Rabbins were not acquainted. (Calmet)

Verse 24

Beyond. Hebrew, "on the side of," without determining on which, Deuteronomy i. --- Thaphsa. The famous Thapsacus, on the Euphrates. --- To Gazan. Hebrew Hazza. This name is written in a different manner from Gaza, and may signify a country of the Medes, on the frontiers of Armenia. But, as it is pronounced almost alike and the parallel passage determines for the country of the Philistines, (ver. 21,) we may explain it of Gaza. (Calmet)

Verse 25


Vine. this expression is often used to imply a state of peace and happiness. The people were then content with rural pleasures. (Calmet)

Verse 26

Forty: 2 Paralipomenon ix. 25., has four in the Hebrew. Septuagint read in both places 40,000 mares, for chariots, and 12,000 horses. (Calmet) --- The Alexandrian copy has 40 here, and 4000 in the latter place; where, instead of horses, it gives horsemen, with the Vulgate. These two words are often used as synonymous by the best authors. But it is more difficult to reconcile the number; (Calmet) as (2 Paralipomenon xiv.) we read again differently, he had 1400 chariots, and 12,000 horsemen. (Haydock) --- Forty might easily be mistaken for four, by only adding im at the end of arba. (Bochart) (Grotius) --- Instead of stalls, Calmet supposes stables to be understood, and in each he would place ten horses, which completes the number here assigned. If this be admitted, no change is necessary: but, as præsepe signifies "a stall," we may adhere to the Vulgate, which has 40,000 in both places; whereas the Hebrew varies, though the sense may be the same. The number of Solomon’s chariots was 1400. As two horses were usually employed to draw them, 2800; or, allowing for accidents, changes, &c., 4000 horses would have been amply sufficient. It seems, therefore, that we should admit only so many horses or stalls. (Haydock) --- "Vignoles conjectures, that the Jews formerly used marks analogous to our common figures; as the Arabians have done for many hundred years. And, if so, the corruption" of hundreds for tens, &c., "may be easily accounted for, by the transcriber’s carelessly adding or omitting a single cypher." (Kennicott, Diss. ii.) --- Yet, if 40,000 horses must be admitted, we may say that they were not all intended for the chariots of war, but some for draught-horses, to convey the stones and other materials for the numerous buildings, which Solomon carried on. This might serve to excuse him for having so many horses, (Haydock) contrary to the letter of the law, and the example of Josue and of David. His subjects were thus, perhaps, engaged in too much commerce with the Egyptians: and the king was forced to burden them with taxes, which at last proved so fatal. (Serarius) (Pineda) (Calmet) --- Yet some undertake his defence, by saying that he did not act against the spirit of the law; that many of the horses were imposed as a tribute, and Solomon did not place his trust in them, Proverbs xxi. 31., and 2 Paralipomenon ix. 24. (Tostat) (Bochart, B. ii. 9.) --- His empire was become more extensive, and his works more splendid; so that what might appear an useless parade in some, might be worthy of praise in Solomon. The law is not so precise. He shall not multiply horses to himself, nor lead back the people into Egypt, being lifted up with the number of his horsemen, Deuteronomy xvii. 16. There is a like prohibition of many wives and treasures.

Verse 27

Fed them and is omitted in Hebrew and Septuagint. (Haydock)

Verse 28

Beasts. Racesh denotes horses of extraordinary swiftness, (Bochart) or dromedaries, &c. Junius translates, "post-horses." --- King: so also the Septuagint. Protestants, "the officers were, every man according to his charge." The twelve governors employed others to bring all necessary provisions, (Haydock) to the places where the king was travelling; (Calmet) or they took care not only of the king’s table, but they had also the general inspection over his stables. (Haydock) --- Few oats are grown in the East. They feed their horses on barley and straw. (Calmet)

Verse 29

Hart; magnanimity, which pride often attempts to imitate, and is therefore designated by the same expression, Proverbs xxi. 4. The genius of Solomon was also most penetrating and comprehensive. (Calmet) --- Ænomaus thus addresses Apollo, "Thou who knowest, both the number of the sands and the extent of the sea---who understandest the dumb, and hearest the man who has not spoken." (Eusebius, præp. v. 34.) (Haydock)

Verse 30

Orientals of Chaldea, Arabia, Idumea, &c., Daniel ii. 2., Abdias viii., Numbers xxii. 5. Job and his friends were of this description. The Greeks acknowledged that they had received their philosophy from the barbarians; (Laertius, proem.) and Casaubon observes, that the ancient defendants of the Christian faith proved the same truth. (Not. Ibid.) They shewed that all true saving knowledge had been derived from the Hebrews. (Haydock) --- The Chaldeans maintain that their countrymen were the fountains of science; and many suppose that Abraham communicated these treasures to the Egyptians; whereas the latter pretend, that a colony from their country had imparted that blessing to the Chaldeans. Diodorus (B. i.) says that Belus conducted such a colony, and the Greeks chiefly owed their information to the Egyptians. God had communicated to Solomon all that was of real use in those sciences, in a superior degree, Wisdom vii. 17. (Josephus, [Antiquities?] viii. 2.) He was eminently skilled in natural philosophy, &c. (Calmet)

Verse 31

All men, of his time (Lyranus) and nation. (Munster) --- But why should we limit these general statements? (Calmet) See chap. iii. 12, 13. (Haydock) --- Ethan is the same as Idithun. The title of Ezrahite does not seem to belong to him; and Chalcol and Dorda seem to be inserted here by some transcriber from 1 Paralipomenon ii. 6., where we read, the sons of Zara....Ethan and Eman, and Chalchal and Dara, of the tribe of Juda. But they were different from these men, who were probably Levites. (Calmet) --- We find Chalcol and Dorda mentioned no where else. Heman was an Ezrahite, (Psalm lxxxvii.) and a seer of the king, presiding over the singers, (1 Paralipomenon xv. 19., and xxv. 4., and 5.; Menochius) who stood in the middle. Ethan’s band surrounded the altar, (1 Paralipomenon vi. 44.) while Asaph’s were on the right hand. --- Mahol was the mother of the four, unless the word denote their profession, as sons of "the choir," singing and playing on musical instruments. (Calmet) --- Solomon was eminent in both respects, as well as in poetry; as he is compared with those who were most noted for compositions and music. (Sanctius)

Verse 32

Three thousand parables. These works are all lost, excepting some part of the parables extant in the book of Proverbs; and his chief poem called the Canticle of Canticles. (Challoner) --- The title of Psalm cxxvi., attributes it to Solomon. But its authority is not sufficiently established. The book of Proverbs contains at present only 658, (Cornelius a Lapide) or 800 parables. (Clarius) --- Josephus exaggerates, when he reads 3000 volumes of parables. --- Five. Septuagint read, "5000 odes," which is adopted by many interpreters. Josephus (Calmet) and the Chaldean agree with the Hebrew. (Menochius)

Verse 33

Wall. Some deny that ezob means hyssop. (Kimchi; Levinus, &c.) But there is a species which grows on mountains, and even out of walls. (Bochart) (Sanctius) --- It is a small odoriferous plant; whereas the cedar was the largest tree with which the Jews were acquainted. (Calmet) --- On Libanus there are found such trees above 36 feet in circumference; which extend their branches 111 feet around them. (Maundrell, Jerus. p. 239.) --- Solomon examined all, Wisdom vii. 17, &c. Many works have been falsely attributed to him, which Origen rejects: hom. 35, in Matthew. See Josephus, [Antiquities?] viii. 2.; Pineda iii. 29. (Calmet) --- Perhaps he might have composed some magical works, while he was an idolater. (Salien)

Verse 34

Wisdom. The Scriptures relate the coming of the queen of Saba, chap. x. Thus Livy attracted the attention of distant nations, who neglected the grandeur of Rome, to visit him. (St. Jerome, Ep. ad Paulin.) Solomon’s wisdom is compared to a great river, inundating the whole earth. (Ecclesiasticus xlvii. 16.)

Bibliographical Information
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on 1 Kings 4". "Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/hcc/1-kings-4.html. 1859.
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