Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, June 15th, 2024
the Week of Proper 5 / Ordinary 10
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Bible Commentaries
1 Kings 5

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

Verse 1

And Hiram king of Tyre sent his servants unto Solomon; for he had heard that they had anointed him king in the room of his father: for Hiram was ever a lover of David.

Hiram ... sent his servants unto Solomon. This Hiram was the grandson of David's contemporary (Kitto). He was the same Hiram, according to Winer and others. The friendly relations which the king of Tyre had cultivated with David are here seen renewed with his son and successor, by a message of condolence, as well as of congratulation on his accession to the throne of Israel. The alliance between the two nations had been mutually beneficial by the encouragement of useful traffic. Israel, being agricultural, furnished grain and oil, while the Tyrians, who were a commercial people, gave in exchange their Phoenician manufactures, as well as the produce of foreign lands. A special treaty was now entered into in furtherance of that undertaking which was the great work of Solomon's splendid and peaceful reign. Solomon speaks of his having been destined by divine pre-intimation to be the builder of the temple (cf. with 1 Kings 5:5; 1 Chronicles 22:9; 2 Chronicles 6:7).

Verses 2-5

And Solomon sent to Hiram, saying,

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 6

Now therefore command thou that they hew me cedar trees out of Lebanon; and my servants shall be with thy servants: and unto thee will I give hire for thy servants according to all that thou shalt appoint: for thou knowest that there is not among us any that can skill to hew timber like unto the Sidonians.

Command thou that they hew me cedar trees out of Lebanon [ 'ªraaziym (H730)] - trees very like deal in appearance, but their special scent and great durability show them to be very superior to firs. [ 'erez (H730), a name expressing the firmness of its roots, was the Cedrus conifera, a very tall and widespreading tree.] Nowhere else could Solomon have procured materials for the woodwork of his contemplated building. The forests of Lebanon, adjoining the sea in Solomon's time, belonged to the Phoenicians, and the timber being a lucrative branch of their exports, immense numbers of workmen were constantly employed in the felling of trees, as well as the transportation and preparation of the wood. It is, however, the opinion of some that the cedars pointed to by Solomon lay within his, own dominions (see Stanley, 'Sinai and Palestine,' p. 139, note).

My servants shall be with thy servants. The operations were to be on so extensive a scale that the Tyrians alone would be insufficient. A division of labour was necessary; and while the former would do the work that required skillful artisans, Solomon engaged to supply the labourers.

Thou knowest that there is not among us any that can skill to hew timber like unto the Sidonians.

Josephus ('Antiquities,' b. 15:, ch. 4:, sec. 1) says that although Sidon and Tyre were appropriated to the tribe of Asher, 'they were, from their ancestors, free cities.' The Sidonians were, as Strabo informs us, distinguished for their attainments in philosophy, geometry, astronomy, navigation-in short, in all sciences and arts (see Rawlinson's 'Herodotus,' 2:, p. 178; Hooker, p. 153; Bartlett's 'Pilgrimage,' p. 37). Hiram stipulated to furnish Solomon with as large a quantity of cedars and cypresses as he might require; and it was a great additional obligation that he engaged to render the important service of having it brought down, probably by the Dog River, to the seaside, and conveyed along the coast in floats - i:e., the logs being bound together-to the harbour of Joppa (2 Chronicles 2:16), whence they could easily find the means of transport to Jerusalem.

Verse 7

And it came to pass, when Hiram heard the words of Solomon, that he rejoiced greatly, and said, Blessed be the LORD this day, which hath given unto David a wise son over this great people.

Blessed be the Lord. This language is no decisive evidence that Hiram was a worshipper of the true God, as he might use it only on the polytheistic principle of acknowledging Yahweh as the God of the Hebrews (see the notes at 2 Chronicles 2:12). At the same time, it must be mentioned that they were accustomed, doubtless from a spirit of religion, to join the name of God to their own, conformably to the genius of the Hebrews, (Bochart, lib. 2:, cap. 16:)

Verse 8

And Hiram sent to Solomon, saying, I have considered the things which thou sentest to me for: and I will do all thy desire concerning timber of cedar, and concerning timber of fir.

I have considered the things ... and I will do. The contract was drawn out formally in a written document (2 Chronicles 2:11), which, according to Josephus, was preserved both in the Jewish and Tyrian records. No hint is given that either of the letters was translated; and hence, it is inferred that, like the Canaanites, the Tyrians, as well as Carthaginians, spoke the Hebrew tongue, or at least a language related to the Hebrew. In consequence of the labour of carrying wood so far to the seacoast, some have supposed that the cedars of old could not have been brought down from that part of the Lebanon where they are now found, and have now concluded that they formerly grew in the vicinity of the seashore; but the name of Lebanon (white), or, as it is now called, Lubnon, having been given to the mountain from its 'white summit,' shows that it was from the immediate vicinity of the snowy mountain that the trees were obtained; and 'the mountain-loving cedar,' as it was called by the ancients, is never described as growing on the hills near the shore.

Nor can it be doubted that the Eden of Ezekiel (1 Kin. 31:16-18 ), which he mentions in connection with the Nor can it be doubted that the Eden of Ezekiel (1 Kin. 31:16-18 ), which he mentions in connection with the old cedars, is represented by the present village of Eden, close to which the celebrated grove now stands; and when we recollect to what immense distances the ancients carried most ponderous blocks of stone, we can scarcely doubt that, if necessary, the timber for sacred and royal buildings would be conveyed from the most distant parts of that mountain to the shore. The labour, however great, would not have deterred them; and though Diodorus (19:, 38) says that Ptolemy employed 1,000 beasts of burden to carry wood from the Lebanon for shipbuilding purposes, that mode of transport may not have been adopted on all occasions; and any one who has witnessed the conveyance of timber by means of rapid torrents of the Alps and other mountainous regions, will at once perceive, on visiting the neighbouring Wady Kadeesha (the 'Holy Valley'), how easily they might have availed themselves of its powerful stream, after the melting of the snows, for conveying the timber to the coast near Tripoli, where it was formed into rafts, and floated to Jaffa (Joppa) by the Tyrians and 'Sidonians' (Ezra 3:7: cf. Josephus, 'Antiquities,' b. 3:, ch. 5:, sec. 3); and the Hebrew word which we translate in 1 Kings 5:9, "shall bring," may also apply to the act of bringing down by water; being used in Joel 2:23, in the sentence, 'cause rain' to come down 'by or for you;' and the very name of the Jordan is derived from the same word 'iered,' to descend or 'flow' (Extract from Letter, 'Athenaeum,' 1863). Josephus ('Antiquities,' b. 8:, ch. 2:, sec. 8) says that copies of these letters were preserved in his day in the public records of Tyre.

Verse 9

My servants shall bring them down from Lebanon unto the sea: and I will convey them by sea in floats unto the place that thou shalt appoint me, and will cause them to be discharged there, and thou shalt receive them: and thou shalt accomplish my desire, in giving food for my household.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 10

So Hiram gave Solomon cedar trees and fir trees according to all his desire.

Fir trees - rather, the cypress.

Verse 11

And Solomon gave Hiram twenty thousand measures of wheat for food to his household, and twenty measures of pure oil: thus gave Solomon to Hiram year by year.

Food to his household. This was an annual supply for the palace, different from that mentioned in 2 Chronicles 2:10, which was for the workmen in the forests.

Verse 12

And the LORD gave Solomon wisdom, as he promised him: and there was peace between Hiram and Solomon; and they two made a league together.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 13

And king Solomon raised a levy out of all Israel; and the levy was thirty thousand men.

Solomon raised a levy out of all Israel, [ mac (H4522)] - (see the notes at 1 Kings 4:6, last clause.) The renewed notice of Solomon's divine gift of wisdom (1 Kings 5:12) is evidently introduced to prepare for this record of the strong but prudent measures he took toward the accomplishment of his work. So great a stretch of arbitrary power as is implied in this compulsory levy must have raised great discontent, if not opposition, had not his wise arrangement of letting the labourers remain at home two months out of three, added to the sacredness of the work, reconciled the people to this forced labour. The carriage of burdens and the irksome work of excavating the quarries was assigned to the remnant of the Canaanites (1 Kings 9:20; 2 Chronicles 8:7-9) and war-prisoners made by David, amounting to 153,600. The employment of persons of that condition in Eastern countries for carrying on any public work would make this part of the arrangements the less thought of.

Verses 14-16

And he sent them to Lebanon, ten thousand a month by courses: a month they were in Lebanon, and two months at home: and Adoniram was over the levy.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 17

And the king commanded, and they brought great stones, costly stones, and hewed stones, to lay the foundation of the house.

Brought great stones. The stone of Lebanon is 'hard, calcareous, whitish, and sonorous, like freestone' (Shaw). The same white and beautiful stone is to be gotten in every part of Syria and Palestine.

Hewed stones - or neatly polished, as the Hebrew word signifies (Exodus 20:25). Both Jewish and Tyrian builders were employed in hewing these great stones.

Verse 18

And Solomon's builders and Hiram's builders did hew them, and the stonesquarers: so they prepared timber and stones to build the house.

And the stone-squarers. The margin, which renders it 'the Giblites' (Joshua 13:5), has long been considered a preferable translation. This marginal translation also must yield to another which has lately been proposed, by a slight change in the Hebrew text, and which would be rendered thus: 'Solomon's builders and Hiram's builders did hew them and bevel them' (Thenius). These great beveled or grooved stones, measuring some 20 feet, others 30 feet in length, and from 5 to 6 feet in width, are still seen in the substructures about the ancient site of the temple; and in the judgment of the most competent observers, were those originally employed 'to lay the foundation of the house.' Josephus ('Antiquities,' b. 8:, ch. 2:, sec. 9) says that King Solomon ordered large stones for the foundation of the temple to be hewn, and that they should be prepared and united, and then removed to the city. [The Septuagint adds: kai heetoimasan tous lithous kai xula tria etee, and they spent three years in preparing the stones and the timber.]

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 1 Kings 5". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/1-kings-5.html. 1871-8.
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