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Bible Commentaries
2 Chronicles 2

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and HomileticalLange's Commentary

Verses 1-18

2 Chronicles 2:1.And Solomon told out seventy thousand men to bear burdens, and eighty thousand to hew in the mountain, and three thousand and six hundred to oversee them.

2And Solomon sent to Huram the king of Tyre, saying, As thou didst with David my father, and sentest him cedars to build him a house to dwell 3in, so do also with me. Behold, I build a house to the name of the Lord my God, to dedicate it to Him, to offer sweet incense before Him, and the shewbread continually, and the burnt-offerings for the morning and the evening, on the Sabbaths and the new moons, and the feasts of the Lord our God: 4for ever this is ordained for Israel. And the house which I build is great; 5for our God is greater than all gods. But who is able to build Him a house? For the heaven, and heaven of heavens, cannot contain Him; and who am I, 6that I should build Him a house, but to offer incense before Him? And now send me a wise man to work in gold, and silver, and brass, and iron, and in purple, and crimson, and blue, and who knoweth to make graven work with the wise men that are with me in Judah and Jerusalem, whom David 7my father appointed. And send me cedar-trees, cypresses, and sandal-wood out of Lebanon; for I know that thy servants can cut timber in Lebanon; 8and, behold, my servants shall be with thy servants. And shall prepare me wood in abundance; for the house which I build is to be great and wonderful. 9And, behold, for the hewers, who fell the trees, I give of wheat as food1 for thy servants, twenty thousand cors, and of barley twenty thousand cors, and of wine twenty thousand baths, and of oil twenty thousand baths.

10And Huram king of Tyre answered in a letter, and sent to Solomon: Because the Lord loveth His people, He hath set thee over them as king. 11And Huram said, Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, that made heaven and earth, who hath given to David the king a wise son, endued with prudence and understanding, that may build a house for the Lord, and a house for his kingdom. 12, 13And now I send a wise man of understanding, Huram my father, son of a woman of the daughters of Dan; and his father was a Tyrian, who can work in gold, and silver, in brass, in iron, in stone, and wood, in purple, blue, and byssus, and crimson, and can do all graving, and devise every device that is given to him with thy wise men, and the wise men of my lord David thy 14father. And now the wheat and the barley, the oil and the wine, which 15my lord spake of, let him send his servants. And we shall fell timber out of Lebanon according to all thy need, and bring it to thee in floats to the sea of Joppa, and thou shalt take it up to Jerusalem.

16And Solomon counted all the men that were strangers in the land of Israel, after the number which David his father had counted, and they were found to be a hundred and fifty thousand, and three thousand and six 17hundred. And he made seventy thousand of them bearers of burdens, and eighty thousand hewers in the mountain, and three thousand and six hundred overseers to keep the people at work.


1. Transition from the Foregoing to the Report of the building of the Temple: 2 Chronicles 2:1And Solomon determined to build. So according to the Vulg., Luther, and most of the ancients, while some moderns, as Berth., Kamph., take אמר, with allusion to 2 Chronicles 1:2, 1 Chronicles 21:17, in the sense of “command.” The context, especially the circumstance that instead of the execution of the building itself only preparations for it follow, favours the older view.—A house for the name of the Lord (comp. 1 Kings 5:17), and a house for his kingdom, that is, a royal palace for himself, the building of which is not more particularly described (as 1 Kings 7:1-12), but which is mentioned several times, as 2 Chronicles 2:11; 2 Chronicles 7:11; 2 Chronicles 8:1.—2 Chronicles 2:1. And Solomon told out seventy thousand, etc. This statement, recurring, 2 Chronicles 2:16-17, in another connection, and in a fuller and more definite form, concerning the 70,000 + 80,000 + 3600, in all 153,600, workmen to whom Solomon committed the labours preliminary to the building of the temple, stands here in briefer form, to indicate beforehand the magnitude of the measures undertaken by the king.

2. Solomon’s Embassy to Huram of Tyre: 2 Chronicles 2:2-9; comp. 1 Kings 5:15-18, which account, agreeing with the present in all essential respects, partly indeed to the letter, is opened with a notice of an embassy sent first by Huram to Solomon (to congratulate him on his accession to the throne), which our author has omitted as not sufficiently important.—And Solomon sent to Huram king of Tyre. On the three forms of the name, Huram (Chron.), Hiram (1 Kings 5:15), and Hirom (1 Kings 5:1ff; 1 Kings 7:40), of which the last (in Menander in Joseph, c. Revelation 1:18Revelation 1:18, 21:Εἵρωμος; in Herod and Syncell.: Σίρωμος,) appears to be the most original, comp. Bähr on 1 Kings 5:15, where, with justice, the doubts of Clericus, Thenius, Ew., Berth., etc., regarding the identity of the present Huram with the like-named contemporary and friend of David, are set aside. Hitzig (Gesch. des V. Isr. p. 10; comp. p. 155) gives as the probable time of the reign of Huram or Hirom, 1031–1000 b.c. (?).—As thou didst with David my father, and sentest him cedars; comp. 1 Chronicles 14:1. The consequent to this antecedent is wanting; according to 2 Chronicles 2:6 f., it must run thus: “So do also to me, and send me cedars.” This construction is like that elsewhere after asseverations and oaths; comp. also Psalms 66:7 b (Ew. §§ 355, 356). Moreover, in the parallel account 1 Kings 5:16 ff., Solomon does not expressly remind Hiram of the aid which he had already given to his father David, but only of this, that David had been prevented by his wars from executing the project of building the temple. Hence it is clear, from the various differences between the present and the previous form of the letter of Solomon, that it is not an authentic original document that is here given, but the result of free handling of the fundamental thoughts of older sources by the one as well as the other writer.

2 Chronicles 2:3. Behold, I build, literally, “Behold me building,” future of state; see Ew. § 306, d.—To offer sweet incense before Him, literally, “to perfume,” לְהַקְטִיר, with which infinitive (defining the foregoing לְהַקְדִּישׁ more exactly) are zeugmatically connected the other objects named, “shew-bread ” and “burnt-offering.” ’ For the “sweet incense” and its burning every morning and evening on the altar of incense, comp. Exodus 25:6; Exodus 30:7 f.; for the continual laying of shew-bread (מַֽעֲרֶכֶת תָּמִיד), Exodus 25:30; for the burnt-offering to be made every morning and evening, and on Sabbaths, new moons, and feast days, Numbers 28:29 and 1 Chronicles 23:31.—For ever this is ordained for Israel; comp. the passage already cited, 1 Chronicles 23:31, and the לְחֻקַּת עוֹלָם often occurring in the law, for example, Numbers 19:10.—On 2 Chronicles 2:4, comp. 1 Chronicles 29:1, and Exodus 18:11, Deuteronomy 10:17.

2 Chronicles 2:5. But who is able, literally, “who will show power;” comp. 1 Chronicles 29:14. On the following asseveration: “the heaven, and heaven of heavens, cannot contain Him,” comp. Solomon’s prayer at the dedication of the temple, 2Ch 6:18; 1 Kings 8:27. Obviously we have here a favourite saying of Solomon the theologian and philosopher: that our author has here, of his own will, put this formula in his mouth is improbable.—And who am, I that I should build Him a house, but to offer, etc.; that is, not a house for dwelling in, but only for sacrifice and worship (the incense, as symbol of prayer, is here mentioned instead of all offerings), may we build for Jehovah.

2 Chronicles 2:6. And now send me a wise man (skilful, see 2 Chronicles 2:12; 1 Chronicles 22:15; Exodus 31:6) to work in gold. That, besides the works in brass and other metals, as they were actually executed by the craftsmen here mentioned, according to 2 Chronicles 4:11-16 and 1 Kings 7:13 if., skill also in weaving purple, hewing stone, and carving wood is ascribed to them, need not seem strange in Solomon’s letter. But it seems surprising that, 2 Chronicles 2:13, King Huram also in his reply makes him exercise all these crafts. Yet ancient history knows several instances of universal genius in art; comp. Dædalus, and one Tutilo in St. Gall of the Christian times. On purple (אַרְגְּוָן, later form of ארגמן), comp. Exodus 25:4; Daniel 5:7; on crimson (כַּרְמִיל only here, 2Ch 2:13; 2 Chronicles 3:14, probably an old Persic word), the תּוֹלַעַת שָׁנִי elsewhere used to denote this fabric; on blue or violet (תְּכֵלֶת), Exodus 25:4.—And who knoweth to make graven work, literally, “to grave gravings,” here of every kind of sculpture in metal or wood (comp. כָּל־פִּתּוּחַ, 2 Chronicles 2:13; also 1 Kings 6:29); elsewhere, specially of graving precious stones, Exodus 28:9; Exodus 28:11; Exodus 28:36; Exodus 39:6; Zechariah 3:9With the wise men, etc.; comp. 1Ch 22:3; 1 Chronicles 22:15; 1 Chronicles 28:21. In construction, עִס־הַתַכָמִים goes wit לַֽעֲשׂוֹת, “to work.”?

2 Chronicles 2:7. And send me. . . sandal-wood out of Lebanon. If the algumwood (עֲצֵי־אַלְגוּמִּים) here named along with cedars and cypresses be actually sandal-wood, which, in the obvious identity of its name with אַלְמֻגִּים, 1 Kings 10:11, can scarcely be doubted, our author, in allowing it to come from Lebanon, involves Solomon in an inaccuracy (at least in expression); for, according to his own later statement (2 Chronicles 9:10; 1 Chronicles 10:11), algums belonged rather to the products of Ophir.

2 Chronicles 2:8.Prepare me wood in abundance; the infin. וּלְהָכִין is the continuation of the imperat. שְׁלַח לִי, 2 Chronicles 2:7; Keil’s attempt to subordinate it to the previous clause is too artificial: “to prepare for me wood in abundance.” On b, comp. 2 Chronicles 2:4.

2 Chronicles 2:9. And, behold, for the hewers, who fell the trees. לַחֹטְבִים (with introductory לְ) is more exactly defined by the added לְכֹרְתֵי הָעֵצִים, and for this reason, that חטב (= the afterwards more usual חצב; comp. 2 Chronicles 2:1; 2 Chronicles 2:17) appears to our author to need interpretation; comp. besides, for חטב, Deuteronomy 29:10; Joshua 9:21; Joshua 9:23; Joshua 9:27.—I give wheat as food for thy servants. For מַכֹּלֶת instead of the defective מַכּוֹת, see Crit. Note.—Twenty thousand cors. In this enumeration of the provisions in grain, wine, and oil offered by Solomon, our report seems to be more detailed than the parallel 1 Kings 5:11, which reports only 20,000 cors of wheat for the household of king Hiram, and twenty cors of the finest (beaten) oil for the same, as given by Solomon. But, in truth, the two passages speak of quite different supplies: there of a yearly contribution, which Solomon paid to the Tyrian king during the building at Tyre, but here of the provisions which he sent to the woodcutters placed at his disposal by Huram in Lebanon (so correctly Keil and Bähr on 1 Kings 5:11; otherwise Thenius, Bertheau, etc., who here find statements that are partly contradictory).

3. Huram’s Answer: 2 Chronicles 2:10-15; comp. 1 Kings 5:1 ff.—Because the Lord loveth His people, etc. Instead of this compliment (comp. 2 Chronicles 9:8; 1 Kings 10:9), in the parallel text 1 Kings 5:8, Hiram begins his letter immediately with the declaration: “I have heard the things thou sentest to me for,” On the contrary, an expression of joy concerning Solomon’s message as orally given by Hiram precedes the composing and sending of the reply.

2 Chronicles 2:11. And Huram said, namely, as in the foregoing verse; בִּכְתָב, “in writing.”—Blessed be the Lord . . . that made heaven and earth. Are we to see in this doxology of the Phœnician king, readily following into Solomon’s religious thought and phrase (which rises above that in 1 Kings 5:7), the product of a half-poetic fiction, after the manner of a writer after the exile (as Daniel 2:28; Daniel 3:29 ff; Daniel 4:31 ff.)? It is perhaps more natural to take into account here partly the courtesies in expression, which friendly sovereigns might and must use, partly the community of speech, and even of religious tradition, which existed between the Phœnicians and Hebrews.—A wise son endowed with prudence and understanding; comp. 1Ch 12:32; 1 Chronicles 22:12.

2 Chronicles 2:12. Huram my father. The introductory לְ before the accusative, as 2 Chronicles 5:26. Luther takes אָבִי for an element of the proper name of the craftsman, who was called Huram-abi (or, 2 Chronicles 4:16, Huram-abiv). Most of the ancients as well as moderns take it here, as in 2 Chronicles 4:16, as a tropical appellative or name of honour=master, by comparison with Genesis 45:8.

2 Chronicles 2:13. The son of a woman of the daughters of Dan, that is, perhaps the city Dan in the tribe of Naphtali; see 1 Kings 7:14 and the expositors on this passage, especially Thenius and Bähr, whereas certainly Keil (with Berth., Kamph., etc.) defends the more difficult and artificial assumption, that the mother of this craftsman belonged by birth to the tribe of Dan, but by her first husband to that of Naphtali.—Who can work in gold, etc. The Phœnician king enhances the praise of his craftsman by recounting a still greater number of crafts than those mentioned by Solomon, 2 Chronicles 2:6. Hence the mention of stone and wood (after brass and iron), of byssus (בּוּץ, as 1 Chronicles 15:27), and of “devising every device that is given to him.” Comp. for the last phrase, the remarks made, Exodus 31:4; Exodus 35:33, on Bezaleel.—On 2 Chronicles 2:14, comp. 2 Chronicles 2:9; the there expressed offer by Solomon of food for his people Huram expressly accepts.

2 Chronicles 2:15. According to all thy need. צֹרֶןְ, “need,” only here in the Old Test, (in Aram, very common); likewise the following רַפְסֹדוֹת, “floats,” for which, 1 Kings 5:23, דֹּבְרוֹת—To the sea of Joppa, the sea at Joppa, the port of Jerusalem. Also, with respect to this reply of Huram, and its relation to the often-deviating parallel text 1 Kings 5:21 ff., the above remark (2 Chronicles 2:2) on the two texts of the letter of Solomon applies. Neither text is wholly independent of the other, and neither coincides exactly with a presumed original. Both exhibit certainly a freely imitating or rather extracting (partly also interpolating; see especially the additions made by our author, 2 Chronicles 2:13) treatment of the original text; as also Josephus, Antiq. viii. 2. 6 f., in his rendering of the pieces, generally agrees with 1 Kings 5:0, but allows himself many peculiar forms of its language. The statements of this historian, that the ἀντίγραφα of the two letters were extant both in the Old Testament and in the public archives of Tyre (Antiq. viii. 2. 8), must therefore be received cum grano sails, and must refer not so much to the form as to the substance of the documents. Eupolemus, in Euseb. Prœp. evang. ix. 33, 34, has copied still more freely than Josephus the correspondence between Solomon and Hiram.

4. Expanded Repetition of the Number of Workmen stated in 2 Chronicles 2:1 : 2 Chronicles 2:16-17.—And Solomon counted all the men that were strangers in the land of Israel, all the serfs of Canaanitish descent under the people of Israel; comp. 1 Chronicles 22:2, to which place there is here express reference (by the following words: “after the number [כְפָר, ‘muster,’ only here in O. T.] which David his father had counted”).

2 Chronicles 2:17. The eighty thousand “hewers” (חֹצֵב) in the mountain are chiefly to be regarded as hewers of stone (comp. 1 Chronicles 22:2), but partly as fellers of timber.—And three thousand and six hundred overseers (מְגַצְּחִים; comp. Ezra 3:8-9), to keep the people at work, “to make them work”; comp. Exodus 6:5. With the present statements of the number of workmen levied by Solomon agree those contained in 1 Kings 5:13-16, with two points of difference:—1. Of the 30,000 socagers levied out of Israel itself, there first named, that were to cut timbers successively in three parties of 10,000 each, our text says nothing, as the enumeration of our author is perhaps confined intentionally to the גֵּרִים, perhaps, however, through a mistake in quite overlooking the statement in question; 2. instead of 3600 overseers, the author of 1 Kings 5:16 names only 3300; perhaps he had only in view those of lower rank, and not the higher, who, according to 1 Kings 9:23, amounted in all to 550, namely, 250 Israelites (2 Chronicles 8:10) and 300 strangers. As the Chronist mentions here only the strangers, he enumerates only these 3000 non-Israelite upper overseers, and thus arrives at the total of 3600 מְנַצְּחִים. He was aware also of the existence of 250 Israelite upper overseers, as is clear from 2 Chronicles 8:40 of our book.


[1]So according to the probable correct reading מַבֹּלֶת ( = מַֽאֲכֹלִת), as the parallel 1 Kings 5:25 exhibits it for the unmeaning מַכּוֹת (“wheat of beating,” “beaten-out wheat”?).

Bibliographical Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 2". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lcc/2-chronicles-2.html. 1857-84.
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