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Solomon's Ministers of State. His Regal Splendour and Wisdom - 1 Kings 4-5:14
1 Kings 4 contains a list of the chief ministers of state (1 Kings 4:2-6), and of the twelve officers placed over the land (1 Kings 4:7-20), which is inserted here to give an idea of the might and glory of the kingdom of Israel under Solomon's reign. So far as the contents are concerned, this list belongs to the middle portion of the reign of Solomon, as we may see from the fact that two of the officers named had daughters of Solomon for their wives (1 Kings 4:11, 1 Kings 4:15), whom they could not possibly have married till the later years of Solomon's life.
The Chief Ministers of State. - The list is introduced in 1 Kings 4:1 by the general remark, that “king Solomon was king over all Israel.”
1 Kings 4:2
The first of the שׂרים , princes, i.e., chief ministers of state or dignitaries, mentioned here is not the commander-in-chief, as under the warlike reign of David (2 Samuel 8:16; 2 Samuel 20:23), but, in accordance with the peaceful rule of Solomon, the administrator of the kingdom (or prime minister): “ Azariah the son of Zadok was הכּהן ,” i.e., not the priest, but the administrator of the kingdom, the representative of the king before the people; like כּהן in v. 5, where this word is interpreted by המּלך רעה , with this difference, however, arising from the article before כּהן , that Azariah was the Kohen par excellence, that is to say, held the first place among the confidential counsellors of the king, so that his dignity was such as befitted the office of an administrator of the kingdom. Compare the explanation of כּהן at 2 Samuel 8:18. The view of the Vulgate, Luther, and others, which has been revived by Thenius, namely, that כּהן is to be connected as a genitive with בּן־צדוק in opposition to the accents, “Azariah the son of Zadok the priest,” is incorrect, and does not even yield any sense, since the connection of these words with the following Elichoreph, etc., is precluded by the absence of the copula Vav, which would be indispensable if Azariah had held the same office as the two brothers Elichoreph and Achijah.
Elichoreph and Achijah, sons of Shisha, who had held the same office under David, were secretaries of state ( ספרים : see at 2 Samuel 8:17 and 2 Samuel 20:25, where the different names שׁשׁא שׁיא and שׂריה are also discussed). - Jehoshaphat the son of Ahilud was the chancellor, as he had already been in the time of David ( 2 Samuel 8:17 and 2 Samuel 20:24). The rendering of Thenius, “whilst Jehoshaphat was chancellor,” is grammatically impossible.
1 Kings 4:4
On Benaiah, compare 1 Kings 2:35 and the Commentary on 2 Samuel 23:20. On Zadok and Abiathar, see at 2 Samuel 8:17. It appears strange that Abiathar should be named as priest, i.e., as high priest, along with Zadok, since Solomon had deposed him from the priestly office ( 1 Kings 2:27, 1 Kings 2:35), and we cannot imagine any subsequent pardon. The only possible explanation is that proposed by Theodoret, namely, that Solomon had only deprived him of the ἀρχή , i.e., of the priest's office, but not of the ἱερωσύνη or priestly dignity, because this was hereditary.
Azariah the son of Nathan was over the נצּבים , i.e., the twelve officers named in vv. 7ff. Zabud the son of Nathan was כּהן (not the son of “Nathan the priest,” as Luther and many others render it). כּהן is explained by the epithet appended, המּלך רעה : privy councillor, i.e., confidential adviser of the king. Nathan is not the prophet of that name, as Thenius supposes, but the son of David mentioned in 2 Samuel 5:14. Azariah and Zabud were therefore nephews of Solomon.
1 Kings 4:6
Ahishar was הבּית על , over the palace, i.e., governor of the palace, or minister of the king's household (compare 1 Kings 16:9; 2 Kings 18:18, and Isaiah 22:15), an office met with for the first time under Solomon. Adoniram, probably the same person as Adoram in 2 Samuel 20:24, was chief overseer of the tributary service. He was so in the time of David also.
Solomon's Official Persons and Their Districts. - 1 Kings 4:7. Solomon had (appointed) twelve נצּבים over all Israel, who provided ( כּלכּלוּ ) for the king and his house, i.e., supplied provisions for the necessities of the court. These prefects are not to be regarded as “chamberlains,” or administrators of the royal domains (Michaelis and Ewald), for these are mentioned in 1 Chronicles 27:25. under a different title. They are “general receivers of taxes,” or “chief tax-collectors,” as Rosenmüller expresses it, who levied the king's duties or taxes, which consisted in the East, as they still do to the present time, for the most part of natural productions, or the produce of the land, and not of money payments as in the West, and delivered them at the royal kitchen (Rosenmüller, A. und N. Morgenland, iii. p. 166). It cannot be inferred from the explanation given by Josephus, ἡγεμόνες καὶ στρατηγοί , that they exercised a kind of government, as Thenius supposes, since this explanation is nothing but a subjective conjecture. “One month in the year was it every one's duty ( אחד על יהיה ) to provide.” The districts assigned to the twelve prefects coincide only partially with the territories of the tribes, because the land was probably divided among them according to its greater or smaller productiveness. Moreover, the order in which the districts are enumerated is not a geographical one, but probably follows the order in which the different prefects had to send the natural productions month by month for the maintenance of the king's court. The description begins with Ephraim in 1 Chronicles 27:8, then passes over in 1 Chronicles 27:9 to the territory of Dan to the west of it, in 1 Chronicles 27:10 to the territory of Judah and Simeon on the south, in 1 Chronicles 27:11 and 1 Chronicles 27:12 to the territory of Manasseh on this side from the Mediterranean to the Jordan, then in vv. 13 and 14 to the territory of Manasseh on the other side of the Jordan, thence back again in vv. 15 and 16 to the northern parts of the land on this side, viz., the territories of Naphtali and Asher, and thence farther south to Issachar in v. 17, and Benjamin in v. 18, closing at last in v. 19 with Gilead.
1 Kings 4:8
In the names of the prefects we are struck with the fact, that in the case of five of them the names given are not their own but their fathers' names. It is very improbable that the proper names should have dropped out five times (as Clericus, Michaelis, and others suppose); and consequently there is simply the assumption left, that the persons in question bore their fathers' names with Ben prefixed as their own proper names: Benhur, Bendeker, etc., after the analogy of Benchanan in 1 Chronicles 4:20 and others, although such a proper name as Ben-Abinadab (1 Chronicles 4:11) appears very strange. Benhur was stationed on the mountains of Ephraim. These mountains, here only the mountainous district of the tribe of Ephraim, were among the most fruitful portions of Palestine (see at Joshua 17:14-15).
1 Kings 4:9
Bendeker was in Makaz, a city only mentioned here, the situation of which is unknown, but which is at any rate to be sought for in the tribe of Dan, to which the other cities of this district belong. Shaalbim has probably been preserved in the present Selbit, to the north-west of Yâlo (see at Joshua 19:42). Bethshemesh, the present Ain-Shems (see at Joshua 15:10). Elon ( אילון ), which is distinguished from Ajalon ( Joshua 19:42 and Joshua 19:43) by the epithet Bethchanan, and belonged to the tribe of Dan, has not yet been discovered (see at Joshua 19:43). The lxx have arbitrarily interpolated ἕως before Bethchanan, and Thenius naturally takes this under his protection, and consequently traces Bethchanan in the village of Beit Hunûn (Rob. Pal. ii. p. 371), but without considering that ἕως yields no reasonable sense unless preceded by מן , ἐκ (from; cf. 1 Kings 4:12).
1 Kings 4:10
Benhesed was in Arubboth, which does not occur again, so that its situation, even if it should be identical with Arab in Joshua 15:52, as Böttcher conjectures, can only be approximatively inferred from the localities which follow. To him ( לו ), i.e., to his district, belonged Sochoh and all the land of Hepher. From Sochoh we may see that Benhesed's district was in the tribe of Judah. Of the two Sochohs in Judah, that still exist under the name of Shuweikeh, it is impossible to determine with certainty which is intended here, whether the one upon the mountains (Joshua 15:48) or the one in the plain (Joshua 15:35). The fact that it is associated with the land of Hepher rather favours the latter. The land of Hepher, which must not be confounded with the city of Gath-hepher in the tribe of Zebulun (Joshua 19:13; 2 Kings 14:25), but was the territory of one of the Canaanitish kings who were defeated by Joshua, was probably situated in the plain (see at Joshua 12:17).
1 Kings 4:11
Ben-Abinadab had the whole of the high range of Dor ( דּאר נפת , Joshua 12:23), i.e., the strip of coast on the Mediterranean Sea below the promontory of Carmel, where the city of Dor, which has been preserved in the village of Tantura or Tortura, nine miles to the north of Caesarea, was situated (see at Joshua 11:2). Whether this district embraced the fruitful plain of Sharon is not so clearly made out as Thenius supposes. בּן־אבינדב stands at the head absolutely, without any grammatical connection with כּל־נפת : “Abinadab: the whole of the high range of Dor,” etc. The person named was probably a son of David's eldest brother but one (1 Samuel 16:8; 1 Samuel 17:13), and therefore Solomon's cousin; and he had married Solomon's daughter.
1 Kings 4:12
Baana the son of Ahilud was most likely a brother of Jehoshaphat the chancellor (1 Kings 4:3). This district embraced the cities on the southern edge of the plain of Jezreel, and extended to the Jordan. Taanach and Megiddo, which have been preserved in the villages of Taanuk and Lejun, were situated on the south-western border of this plain, and belonged to the Manassites (see at Joshua 12:21; Joshua 17:11). “And all Bethshean,” in other words, the whole of the district of Bethshean, i.e., Beisan, at the eastern end of the valley of Jezreel, where it opens into the Jordan valley (Rob. Pal. ii. p. 740ff.), “which (district was situated) by the side of Zarthan below Jezreel, from (the town of) Bethshean (see at Joshua 17:11) to Abel-Mecholah, on the other side of Jokmeam.” Zarthan, also called Zereda (compare 1 Kings 7:46 with 2 Chronicles 4:17), has probably been preserved, so far as the name is concerned, in Kurn Sartabeh, in the neighbourhood of which the old city probably stood, about five miles to the south of Beisan, at a point where the Jordan valley contracts (see at Joshua 3:16). The expression “below Jezreel” refers to “all Bethshean,” and may be explained from the elevated situation of Jezreel, the present Zerîn (see at Joshua 19:18). According to Rob. iii. p. 163, this is “comparatively high, and commands a wide and noble view, extending down the broad low valley on the east of Beisan and to the mountains of Ajlun beyond the Jordan.” The following words, “from Bethshean to Abel-Mecholah,” give a more precise definition of the boundary. The lxx have erroneously inserted καὶ before מבּית־שׁאן , and Thenius and Böttcher defend it on the strength of their erroneous interpretations of the preceding statements. Abel-Mecholah was in the Jordan valley, according to the Onomast., ten Roman miles to the south of Beisan (see at Judges 7:22). The last clause is not quite intelligible to us, as the situation of the Levitical city Jokmeam (1 Chronicles 6:53, or Kibzaim, a different place from the Jokneam on Carmel, Joshua 12:22; Joshua 21:34) has not yet been discovered (see at Joshua 21:22). According to this, Baanah's district in the Jordan valley did not extend so far as Kurn Sartabeh, but simply to the neighbourhood of Zarthan, and embraced the whole of the tribe-territory of Manasseh on this side of the Jordan.
1 Kings 4:13
Bengeber was in Ramoth of Gilead in the tribe of Gad (Joshua 20:8), probably on the site of the modern Szalt (see at Deuteronomy 4:43). “To him belonged the Havvoth Jair (Jair's-lives) in Gilead, to him the region of Argob in Bashan, sixty great cities with walls and brazen bolts.” If we look at this passage alone, the region of Argob in Bashan appears to be distinct from the Havvoth Jair in Gilead. But if we compare it with Numbers 32:40-41; Deuteronomy 3:4-5, and Deuteronomy 3:13, Deuteronomy 3:14, and Joshua 13:30, it is evident from these passages that the Jair's-lives are identical with the sixty large and fortified cities of the region of Argob. For, according to Deuteronomy 3:4, these sixty fortified cities, with high walls, gates, and bars, were all fortified cities of the kingdom of Og of Bashan, which the Israelites conquered under Moses, and to which, according to Numbers 32:41, Jair the Manassite, who had conquered them, gave the name of Havvoth Jair. Hence it is stated in Joshua 13:30, that the sixty Jair-towns were situated in Bashan. Consequently the אר חבל לו in our verse is to be taken as a more precise definition of וגו יאיר חוּת לו , or a clearer description of the district superintended by Bengeber, so that Gilead is used, as is frequently the case, in the broader sense of Peraea. Compare with this the Commentary on Deuteronomy 3:4, Deuteronomy 3:13, Deuteronomy 3:14, where the names ארגּב and חוּת are explained, and the imaginary discrepancy between the sixty Jair's-towns in the passages cited, and the twenty-three and thirty cities of Jair in 1 Chronicles 2:22 and Judges 10:4, is discussed and solved. And when Thenius objects to this explanation on the ground that the villages of Jair cannot be identical with the sixty fortified cities, because villages of nomads and strongly fortified cities could not be one and the same, this objection falls to the ground with the untenable interpretation of חוּת as applying to nomad villages.
1 Kings 4:14
Ahinadab the son of Iddo received as his district Mahanaim, a fortified and probably also a very important city to the north of the Jabbok, on the border of the tribe of Gad, which may perhaps have been preserved in the ruin of Mahneh (see at Joshua 13:26 and Genesis 32:3). מחנימה , to Mahanaim (cf. Ewald, §216, a., note), with ה local, probably referring to the fact that Ahinadab was sent away to Mahanaim.
1 Kings 4:15
Ahimaaz, possibly Zadok's son (2 Samuel 15:27; 2 Samuel 17:17.), in Naphtali. This does not denote generally “the most northern portion of the land, say from the northern end of the lake of Gennesaret into Coele-Syria,” as Thenius supposes; for the tribe-territory of Asher, which had a prefect of its own, was not situated to the south-west of Naphtali, but ran along the west of Naphtali to the northern boundary of Canaan (see at Joshua 19:24-31). He also (like Ben-Abinadab, 1 Kings 4:11) had a daughter of Solomon, Basmath, as his wife.
1 Kings 4:16
Baanah the son of Hushai, probably the faithful friend and wise counsellor of David (2 Samuel 15:32., 1 Kings 17:5.), was in Asher and בּעלות , a name quite unknown. If בּ forms part of the word ( Baaloth, according to the lxx, Vulg., Syr., and Arab.), we must take it as a district, since the preposition בּ would necessarily have been repeated if a district ( Asher) had been connected with a town ( Baaloth). In any case, it is not the city of Baaloth in the Negeb of Judah (Joshua 15:24) that is intended.
1 Kings 4:17
Jehoshaphat the son of Paruach, in Issachar; i.e., over the whole of the territory of that tribe in the plain of Jezreel, with the exception of the cities of Taanach, Megiddo, and Bethshean, which were in the southern portion of it, and were allotted to the Manassites, and, according to 1 Kings 4:12, were put under the care of Baanah; and not merely in the northern part of Issachar, “with the exception of the plain of Jezreel,” as Thenius erroneously maintains. Zebulun may possibly have also formed part of his district, if not entirely, yet in its southern portion, provided that the northern portion was assigned to Ahimaaz in Naphtali, since Zebulun had no prefect of its own.
1 Kings 4:18
Shimei the son of Elah, possibly the one mentioned in 1 Kings 1:8, in Benjamin.
1 Kings 4:19
Geber the son of Uri, in the land of Gilead, i.e., as the apposition “the land of Sihon ... and of Og...” clearly shows, the whole of the Israelitish land on the east of the Jordan, as in Deuteronomy 34:1; Judges 20:1, etc., with the simple exception of the districts placed under Bengeber and Ahinadab (1 Kings 4:13 and 1 Kings 4:14). אחד נציב , “one president was it who (was) in the land (of Gilead).” נציב cannot signify a military post or a garrison here, as in 1 Samuel 10:5; 1 Samuel 13:3, etc., but is equivalent to נצּב , the president (1 Kings 4:7). The meaning is, that notwithstanding the great extent of this district, it had only one prefect.
In 1 Kings 4:20 the account of Solomon's officers is closed by a general remark as to the prosperous condition of the whole nation; though we miss the copula Vav at the commencement. The words, “Judah and Israel were numerous as the sand by the sea,” indicate that the promise given to the patriarchs (Genesis 22:17, cf. Genesis 32:13) had been fulfilled. To this there is appended in 1 Kings 5:1 the remark concerning the extent of Solomon's sway, which prepares the way for what follows, and shows how the other portion of the promise, “thy seed will possess the gates of its enemies,” had been fulfilled. - The first fourteen verses of 1 Kings 5 are therefore connected by the lxx, Vulg., Luther, and others with 1 Kings 4. It is not till 1 Kings 5:15 that a new section begins.
Solomon's Regal Splendour. - 1 Kings 4:21. “Solomon was ruler over all the kingdoms from the river (Euphrates) onwards, over the land of the Philistines to the border of Egypt, who brought presents and were subject to Solomon his whole life long.” Most of the commentators supply ועד before פלשׁתּים ארץ (even to the land of the Philistines) after the parallel passage 2 Chronicles 9:26, so that the following גּבוּל ועד would give a more precise definition of the terminus ad quem. But it is by no means probable that ועד , which appears to be indispensable, should have dropped out through the oversight of a copyist, and it is not absolutely necessary to supply it, inasmuch as בּ may be repeated in thought before ארץ פ from the preceding clause. The participle מגּשׁים is construed ad sensum with ממלכות . Bringing presents is equivalent to paying tribute, as in 2 Samuel 8:2, etc.
Vv. 22-28. The splendour of the court, the consumption in the royal kitchen (1 Kings 4:22-25), and the well-filled stables (1 Kings 4:26-28), were such as befitted the ruler of so large a kingdom.
1 Kings 4:22-23
The daily consumption of לחם (food or provisions) amounted to thirty cors of fine meal ( סלת חטּים סלת , fine sifted meal, Exodus 29:2; for סלת see also Leviticus 2:2), and sixty cors of קמח , ordinary meal, ten fattened oxen, twenty pasture oxen, which were brought directly from the pasture and slaughtered, and a hundred sheep, beside different kinds of game. כּר , κορός , the later name for חמר , the largest dry and also liquid (1 Kings 5:11), measure of capacity, contained ten ephahs or baths, i.e., according to the calculation made by Thenius, 15,300 cubic inches (Dresden) = about 1 7/8 scheffel;
Solomon was able to appropriate all this to his court, because ( כּי ) he had dominion, etc.;...and (1 Kings 4:25) Israel and Judah enjoyed the blessings of peace during the whole of his reign. הנּהר בּכל־עבר , “over all the other side of the river (Euphrates),” i.e., not the land on the east, but that on the west of the river. This usage of speech is to be explained from the fact that the author of our books, who was living in exile on the other side of the Euphrates, describes the extent of Solomon's kingdom taking that as his starting-point. Solomon's power only extended to the Euphrates, from Tiphsach in the north-east to Gaza in the south-west. תּפסח (crossing, from פּסח ) is Thapsacus, a large and wealthy city on the western bank of the Euphrates, at which the armies of the younger Cyrus and Alexander crossed the river (Xen. Anab. i. 4; Arrian, Exped. Alex. iii. 7). Gaza, the southernmost city of the Philistines, the present Guzzeh; see at Joshua 13:3. The הנּהר עבר מלכי are the kings of Syria who were subjugated by David (2 Samuel 8:6 and 2 Samuel 10:19), and of the Philistines (2 Samuel 8:1). “And he had peace on all sides round about.” This statement does not “most decidedly contradict 1 Kings 11:23.,” as Thenius maintains; for it cannot be proved that according to this passage the revolt of Damascus had taken place before Solomon's reign (Ewald and others; see at 1 Kings 11:23.).
1 Kings 4:25
“Judah and Israel sat in safety, every one under his vine and his fig-tree.” This expresses the undisturbed enjoyment of the costly productions of the land (2 Kings 18:31), and is therefore used by the prophets as a figure denoting the happiness of the Messianic age (Micah 4:4; Zechariah 3:10). “From Dan to Beersheba,” as in Judges 20:1, etc.
1 Kings 4:26
This verse is not to be regarded “as a parenthesis according to the intention of the editor,” but gives a further proof of the peace and prosperity which the kingdom and people enjoyed under Solomon. Solomon had a strong force of war chariots and cavalry, that he might be able to suppress every attempt on the part of the tributary kings of Syria and Philistia to revolt and disturb the peace. “Solomon had 4000 racks of horses for his chariots, and 12,000 riding horses,” which were kept partly in Jerusalem and partly in cities specially built for the purpose (1 Kings 9:19; 1 Kings 10:26; 2 Chronicles 1:14; 2 Chronicles 9:25). ארבּעים (40) is an old copyist's error for ארבּעה (4), which we find in the parallel passage 2 Chronicles 9:25, and as we may also infer from 1 Kings 10:26 and 2 Chronicles 1:14, since according to these passages Solomon had 1400 רכב or war chariots. For 4000 horses are a very suitable number for 1400 chariots, though not 40,000, since two draught horses were required for every war chariot, and one horse may have been kept as a reserve. ארוה does not mean a team (Ges.), but a rack or box in a stable, from ארה , carpere. According to Vegetius, i. 56, in Bochart ( Hieroz. i. p. 112, ed. Ros.), even in ancient times every horse had it own crib in the stable just as it has now. Böttcher (n. ex. Krit. Aehrenl. ii. p. 27) is wrong in supposing that there were several horses, say at least ten, to one rack. מרכּב is used collectively for “chariots.”
1 Kings 4:27-28
“And” = a still further proof of the blessings of peace - ”those prefects (1 Kings 4:7.) provided for king Solomon, and all who came to the king's table, i.e., who were fed from the royal table, every one his month (see at 1 Kings 4:7), so that nothing was wanting (1 Kings 4:28), and conveyed the barley (the ordinary food of cattle in Palestine and the southern lands, where oats are not cultivated) and the straw for the horses and coursers to the place where it ought to be. To שׁם יהיה אשׁר the lxx, Vulg., and others supply המּלך as the subject: wherever the king might stay. This is certainly more in harmony with the imperfect יהיה than it would be to supply הרכשׁ , as Bochart and others propose; still it is hardly correct. For in that case ולרכשׁ לסּוּסים could only be understood as referring to the chariot horses and riding horses, which Solomon kept for the necessities of his court, and not to the whole of the cavalry; since we cannot possibly assume that even if Solomon changed his residence according to the season and to suit his pleasure, or on political grounds, as Thenius supposes, though this cannot by any means be inferred from 1 Kings 9:18 and 1 Kings 9:19, he took 16,000 horses about with him. But this limitation of the clause is evidently at variance with the context, since ולרכב לסּוּסים too plainly refer back to 1 Kings 4:6. Moreover, “if the king were intended, he would certainly have been mentioned by name, as so many other subjects and objects have come between.” For these reasons we agree with Böttcher in taking יהיה indefinitely: “where it (barley and straw) was wanted, according to the distribution of the horses.” רכשׁ probably denotes a very superior kind of horse, like the German Renner (a courser or race-horse). כּמשׁפּטו אישׁ , every one according to his right, i.e., whatever was appointed for him as right.
Solomon's Wisdom. - 1 Kings 4:29. According to His promise in 1 Kings 3:12, God gave Solomon wisdom and very much insight and לב רחב , “breadth of heart,” i.e., a comprehensive understanding, as sand by the sea-shore, - a proverbial expression for an innumerable multitude, or great abundance (cf. 1 Kings 4:20; Genesis 41:49; Joshua 11:4, etc.). חכמה signifies rather practical wisdom, ability to decide what is the judicious and useful course to pursue; תּבוּנה , rather keenness of understanding to arrive at the correct solution of difficult and complicated problems; לב רחב , mental capacity to embrace the most diverse departments of knowledge.
1 Kings 4:30
His wisdom was greater than the wisdom of all the sons of the East, and all the wisdom of the Egyptians. קרם בּני (sons of the East) are generally the Arabian tribes dwelling in the east of Canaan, who spread as far as to the Euphrates (cf. Judges 6:3, Judges 6:33; Judges 7:12; Judges 8:10; Job 1:3; Isaiah 11:14, etc.). Hence we find קרם ארץ used in Genesis 25:6 to denote Arabia in the widest sense, on the east and south-east of Palestine; whereas in Genesis 29:1 קרם בּני ארץ signifies the land beyond the Euphrates, viz., Mesopotamia, and in Numbers 23:7, קרם הררי , the mountains of Mesopotamia. Consequently by “the sons of the East” we are to understand here primarily the Arabians, who were celebrated for their gnomic wisdom, more especially the Sabaeans (see at 1 Kings 10), including the Idumaeans, particularly the Temanites (Jeremiah 49:7; Obadiah 1:8); but also, as כּל requires, the Chaldaeans, who were celebrated both for their astronomy and astrology. “ All the wisdom of the Egyptians,” because the wisdom of the Egyptians, which was so greatly renowned as almost to have become proverbial (cf. Isaiah 19:11; Isaiah 31:2, and Acts 7:22; Joseph. Ant. viii. 2, 5; Herod. ii. 160), extended over the most diverse branches of knowledge, such as geometry, arithmetic, astronomy, and astrology (Diod. Sic. i. 73 and 81), and as their skill in the preparation of ointments from vegetable and animal sources, and their extensive acquaintance with medicine, clearly prove, embraced natural science as well, in which Solomon, according to 1 Kings 4:33, was very learned.
1 Kings 4:31
“He was wiser than all men (of his time), than Ethan the Ezrachite and Heman, Chalcol and Darda, the sons of Machol.” These four persons are most probably the same as the “sons of Zerach” (Ethan, Heman, Calcol, and Dara) mentioned in 1 Chronicles 2:6, since the names perfectly agree, with the exception of דּרע for דּרדּע , where the difference is no doubt attributable to a copyist's error; although, as the name does not occur again, it cannot be decided whether Dara or Darda is the correct form. Heman and Ethan are also called Ezrachites ( האזרחי ) in Psalms 88:1 and Psalms 89:1; and אזרחי is another form of זרחי , the name of the family of Zerach the son of Judah (Numbers 26:13, Numbers 26:20), lengthened by א prosthet. But they were both Levites - Heman a Korahite of the line of Kohath and a grandson of Samuel (1 Chronicles 6:18-19), and Ethan a Merarite (1 Chronicles 6:29-32; 1 Chronicles 15:17) and the president of the Levitical vocal choirs in the time of David (1 Chronicles 15:19); and Heman was also “the king's seer in the words of God” (1 Chronicles 25:5). Their Levitical descent is not at variance with the epithet Ezrachite. For as the Levite in Judges 17:7 is spoken of as belonging to the family of Judah, because he dwelt in Bethlehem of Judah, and as Samuel's father, Elkanah the Levite, is called an Ephraimite in 1 Samuel 1:1, because in his civil capacity he was incorporated into the tribe of Ephraim, so Heman and Ethan are called Ezrachites because they were incorporated into the Judaean family of Zerach. It by no means follows from 1 Chronicles 2:6 that they were lineal descendants of Zerach. The whole character of the genealogical fragment contained in 1 Chronicles 2:6. shows very clearly that it does not give the lineal posterity of Zerach with genealogical exactness, but that certain persons and households of that family who had gained historical renown are grouped together without any more precise account of their lineal descent. Calcol and Darda (or Dara) are never met with again. It is no doubt to these two that the expression מחול בּני refers, though it cannot be determined whether מחול is a proper name or an appellative noun. In support of the appellative meaning, “sons of the dance,” in the sense of sacras choreas ducendi periti , Hiller (in the Onomast. p. 872) appeals to Ecclesiastes 12:4, “daughters of song.” - ”And his name was,” i.e., he was celebrated, “among all the nations round about” (cf. 1 Kings 10:1, 1 Kings 10:23-24).
1 Kings 4:32
“He spoke three thousand proverbs, and there were a thousand and five of his songs.” Of these proverbs we possess a comparatively small portion in the book of Proverbs, probably a selection of the best of his proverbs; but of the songs, besides the Song of Songs, we have only two psalms, viz., Ps 72 and Psalms 127:1-5, which have his name, and justly bear it.
1 Kings 4:33
“And he spoke of trees, from the cedar on Lebanon to the hyssop which grows upon the wall.” The cedar and hyssop are placed in antithesis, the former as the largest and most glorious of trees, the latter as the smallest and most insignificant of plants, to embrace the whole of the vegetable kingdom. Thenius maintains that by אזוב we are not to understand the true hyssop, nor the Wohlgemuth or Dosten ( ὀρίγανον ), according to the ordinary view (see at Exodus 12:22), because they are neither of them such small plants as we should expect in an antithesis to the cedar, but “one of the wall-mosses growing in tufts, more especially the orthotrichum saxatile (Oken), which forms a miniature hyssop with its lancet-shaped leaves, and from its extreme minuteness furnishes a perfect antithesis to the cedar.” There is much to favour this view, since we can easily imagine that the Hebrews may have reckoned a moss, which resembled the hyssop in its leaves, as being itself a species of hyssop. - “And of beasts and birds, of creeping things and fishes;” the four principal classes into which the Hebrews divided the animal kingdom. Speaking of plants and animals presupposes observations and researches in natural science, or botanical and zoological studies.
1 Kings 4:34
The widespread fame of his wisdom brought many strangers to Jerusalem, and all the more because of its rarity at that time, especially among princes. The coming of the queen of Sheba to Jerusalem (1 Kings 10) furnishes a historical proof of this.
(Note: Greatly as the fame of Solomon ' s wisdom is extolled in these verses, it was far outdone in subsequent times. Even Josephus has considerably adorned the biblical accounts in his Antiqq. viii. 2, 5. He makes Solomon the author not only of 1005 βιβλία περὶ ᾠδῶν καὶ μελῶν , and 300 βίβλους παραβολῶν καὶ εἰκόνων , but also of magical books with marvellous contents. Compare the extracts from Eupolemus in Eusebii praep. Ev. ix. 31ff., the remnants of Solomon ' s apocryphal writings in Fabricii Cod. apocr. V. T. i. pp. 914ff. and 1014f., the collection of the Talmudical Sagas in Othonis Lex. rabb. philol. pp. 668f., and G. Weil, bibl. Legenden der Mussulmänner, pp. 225-279. According to the Koran ( Sure xxvii. 1 Kings 4:17.), Solomon understood the languages not only of men and demons, but also of birds and ants. The Turkish literature contains a “ Book of Solomon, ” Suleimanname, consisting of seventy volumes, from which v. Hammer ( Rosenöl, i. p. 147ff.) has given extracts.)
The Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary is a derivative of a public domain electronic edition.
Keil, Carl Friedrich & Delitzsch, Franz. "Commentary on 1 Kings 4". Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 15 / Ordinary 20