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1 KINGS CHAPTER 4
Solomon’s chief princes, 1 Kings 4:1-6; and officers for provision, 1 Kings 4:7-19.
The peace and largeness of his kingdom, 1 Kings 4:20,1 Kings 4:21.
His daily provision for his court, 1 Kings 4:22-25.
The stables for his horses, 1 Kings 4:26-28. His wisdom, 1 Kings 4:29-34.
This is spoken with respect to his successors, who were kings only over a part, and that the smallest part of it. Or in reference to the times of division and rebellion under David; when part went after David, and part after Ish-bosheth; or part after Absalom, or Sheba, or Adonijah. But now all Israel were united under Solomon, and adhered to him, not only a part of them; especially since the death of Adonijah and Joab, (who may be suspected to have watched an opportunity of revolting,) and the confinement of Abiathar and of Shimei, (if not his death also,) who could now have little or no interest or opportunity of setting up a party against Solomon, (their principals being taken away, to whom they were but accessaries,) nor in probability any design to attempt it.
The princes which he had, i.e. the chief rulers or officers belonging to him.
The son, or, the grandson, by comparing this with 1 Chronicles 6:8,1 Chronicles 6:9.
Of Zadok; either Zadok the priest, 1 Chronicles 6:8,1 Chronicles 6:9, or some other of that name.
The priest; So he was the second priest, or the priest that attended upon Solomon’s person in holy offices and administrations. But when this sacred writer professeth to give an account of Solomon’s princes, why should he put the second priest, or Solomon’s domestic priest, in the first place? or why should he be mentioned distinctly from his father, who was generally present with Solomon, and could easily, either by himself, or some other fit person or persons appointed by him, manage all the king’s sacred concerns? or why is he named before his father? Others therefore render this Hebrew word
prince, as it is used Genesis 41:45; Genesis 47:22,Genesis 47:26; Exodus 2:16; 2 Samuel 8:18. So he was either the chief in dignity, the first prince, and the highest officer in the state next to the king; or the chief minister of state, by whom the great affairs of state were managed and prepared for the king’s consideration, &c.
Scribes, i.e. secretaries of state. He chose two, whereas David had but one; either because he observed some inconveniences in trusting all those matters in one hand; or because he had now much more employment than David had, this being a time of great peace and prosperity, and his empire enlarged, and his correspondencies with foreign princes more frequent.
The recorder; of which See Poole "2 Samuel 8:16".
i.e. The high priests, to wit, successively, first Abiathar, and then Zadok.
Quest. Why is Abiathar named when he was deposed?
Answ. First, Because it is ordinary for persons to retain the names and titles of those places which in reality they have lost. Secondly, Because though he was deposed from the high priesthood, yet he was a priest, and the chief of one of the priestly families: and as Zadok was jointly named with Abiathar, when Abiathar alone was the high priest, as 2 Samuel 8:17; 2 Samuel 20:25; so now Zadok and Abiathar are joined, although the high priesthood was rested in Zadok alone. Thirdly, Possibly Abiathar, though he was deposed from the supreme priesthood, yet upon his serious repentance, and by the intercession of his friends, was restored to the execution of the priestly office, and put into that place which Zadok enjoyed when Abiathar was high priest. Fourthly, Some say that here is mention made of all Solomon’s chief officers, both such as now were, and such as had been, and such as were afterwards, as they gather from 1 Kings 4:11,1 Kings 4:15, where two persons are named who married two of Solomon’s daughters, which could not be till many years after this time.
Over the officers, or overseers, or surveyors, to wit, over those twelve officers named 1 Kings 4:7, &c., where this Hebrew word is used, who were all subject, and to give up their accounts to him; though the word signifies any governors or commanders of the higher sort, as 1 Kings 5:16; 2 Chronicles 8:10.
Son of Nathan, the prophet, who had been so highly instrumental in Solomon’s establishment in the throne.
Principal officer; possibly president of the king’s council. The Hebrew word is cohen, which, 1 Kings 4:2, is rendered priest; whence some read this place thus: Zabud the son of Nathan the priest, or the minister, (as the word properly signifies, and that title well enough agrees to a prophet; or the prince, for the prophet Nathan was a man considerable both for his quality, and for his honour and esteem with the king,) was the king’s friend.
The king’s friend; either his special favourite, both for his father’s sake and for his own, having, it seems, been brought up with him; or his confidant, with whom he used to communicate his most secret counsels.
Over the household; steward of the king’s household.
Over the tribute, to wit, the personal tribute, or the levy of men, as appears by comparing this with 1 Kings 5:13,1 Kings 5:14, it being very fit that there should be some one person to whom the chief conduct or inspection of that great business was committed.
This and others of them are denominated from their fathers, because they were known and famous in their generation.
Or, Elon, the house or dwelling-place of Hanan; and Hanan may be a man’s name and this place may be so differenced from other Elons. Or, the plain (for so the Hebrew word signifies) of Beth-hanan.
There were two Sochohs, but both near together. See Joshua 15:35,Joshua 15:48.
The land of Hepher, in Judah. See 1 Chronicles 4:6.
The region of Dor, in Manasseh within Jordan, where also were Taanach, Megiddo, and Beth-shean, 1 Kings 4:12.
Zartanah beneath Jezreel, which was in Issachar. And this seems added to distinguish it from that
Zartanah, Joshua 3:16.
In Ramoth-gilead; Ramoth in the land of Gilead, Deuteronomy 4:43; Joshua 20:8; 1 Kings 22:3; so called to difference it from Ramoth in Issachar, 1 Chronicles 6:73.
Jair; in Manasseh beyond Jordan. See Numbers 32:41; Deuteronomy 3:14.
Great cities with walls and brasen bars: this is added by way of distinction from those towns of Jair; for being without Jordan, they were liable to the attempts of their enemies.
The city and territory of Mahanaim; of which see Genesis 32:2; Joshua 13:26. But this seems too narrow a compass for one of these great officers, and unequal to the rest; although these portions seem not to be distributed into equal portions of land, but into larger or lesser parts, according to their fertility or barrenness. And this seems to have been a very fruitful place. See 2 Samuel 17:27. Or, to Mahanaim. So he may understand all the space from the parts last mentioned to Mahanaim, which was in the tribe of Gad.
The son of Elah; which he adds to distinguish him from that cursed and cursing Shimei, 2 Samuel 16:5.
In the country of Gilead, i.e. in the remaining part of that land of Gilead, which was mentioned above, 1 Kings 4:13.
In the land, or rather, in that land; for the Hebrew points intimate that the emphatical article is there understood, to wit, in all Gilead, excepting the parcels mentioned before, in all the territories of Sihon and Og; which because they were of large extent, and yet all committed to this one man, it is here noted concerning him as his privilege above the rest, whose jurisdictions were of a narrower extent.
From the river Euphrates; for so far David, having conquered the Syrians, extended his empire, which Solomon also maintained in that extent. And so God’s promise concerning the giving of the whole land, as far as Euphrates, to the Israelites, was fulfilled. And if the Israelites had multiplied so much that the land of Canaan would not suffice them, having God’s grant of all the land as far as Euphrates, they might have seized upon it whensoever occasion required.
Unto the land of the Philistines, which is to be understood inclusively; for it is unreasonable to think that the Philistines were not within Solomon’s dominion.
Unto the border of Egypt; unto the river Sihor, which was the border between Egypt and Canaan, Joshua 13:3. Compare Genesis 15:18.
Served Solomon, by tribute, or other ways, as he needed and required.
Thirty measures, Heb. cors; each of which contained ten ephahs, Exodus 16:36. So this provision was sufficient for near three thousand persons.
Meal, of a coarser sort, for common use, and for the inferior sort.
Ten fat oxen, fitted in stalls.
Out of the pastures; well fleshed, tender, and good, though not so fat as the former.
Tiphsah; either that Tiphsah, 2 Kings 15:16, which was in the kingdom of Israel within Jordan; or rather, another place of that name upon the river now mentioned, to wit, Euphrates, even that eminent city which is mentioned by Ptolemy, and Strabo, and Pliny, called Thapsarum. And this best agrees with the following
Azzah, which was the border of Canaan in the south and west, Genesis 10:19; Deuteronomy 2:23, as Tiphsah was in the north and east. And so his dominion is described by both its borders.
All the kings on this side the river; who owned subjection and paid tribute to him.
Under his vine and under his fig tree; enjoying the fruit of his own labours with safety and comfort. Under these two trees, which were most used and cultivated by the Israelites, he understands all other fruit-bearing trees, and all other comforts, by a synecdoche. And they are brought in as sitting or dwelling under these trees, partly, for recreation or delight in the shade; and partly, for the comfort or advantage of the fruit; and withal, to note their great security, not only in their strong cities, but even in the country, where the vines and fig trees grew, which were most open to the incursions of their enemies.
Forty thousand stalls of horses. In 2 Chronicles 9:25, it is but four thousand. Answ. First, Some acknowledge an error of the transcriber, writing arbahim, forty, for arbah, four, which was an easy mistake. And such mistakes in some copies, in these lesser matters, God might permit, for the trial and exercise of our faith, without any prejudice to the authority of the sacred Scriptures in the great doctrines of faith and good life. Secondly, It is not exactly the same Hebrew word which is here and there, though we translate both stalls; and therefore there may well be allowed some difference in the signification, the one signifying properly stables, of which there were 4000, the other stalls or partitions for each horse, which were 40,000; which great number seems directly forbidden, Deuteronomy 17:16, except Solomon had some particular dispensation from God, which might be, though it be not recorded.
For his chariots; both for his military chariots, which seem to be those 1400, 1 Kings 10:26, and for divers other uses, as about his great and various buildings, and merchandises, and other occasions, which might require some thousands of other chariots.
Twelve thousand horsemen; appointed partly for the defence and preservation of his people in peace; and partly for attendance upon his person, and for the splendour of his government. Compare 1 Kings 10:26. But the words may be otherwise rendered,
and twelve thousand horses, for parash manifestly signifies both a horse and horsemen. And these might be a better sort of horses than most of those which were designed for the chariots. Or thus, and for (which particle is easily understood and borrowed from the foregoing clause) twelve thousand horsemen; and so he means that the 40,000 horses were in part appointed for his chariots, and in part for his 12,000 horsemen.
Those officers; named above, 1 Kings 4:7, &c.
They lacked nothing; or rather, they suffered nothing to be lacking to any man that came thither, but plentifully provided all things necessary.
Dromedaries, or mules, by comparing this with 2 Chronicles 9:24; or post horses, which are particularly mentioned and distinguished from the other horses, because they took a more exact and particular care about them. Howsoever, it is agreed that these were swift beasts, which is evident from Esther 8:10,Esther 8:14; Micah 1:13.
Largeness of heart, i.e. either, first, Magnanimity, or generosity, and greatness of spirit, whereby he was disposed and emboldened to undertake great things. But this seems not so well to suit with the following resemblance. Or rather, secondly, Vastness of understanding; a most comprehensive knowledge of all things, both Divine and human; for this wisdom is the thing for which he is here commended, both in the foregoing and following words.
Even as the sand that is on the sea-shore; which cannot be numbered or measured; and which, though it be so vast and comprehensive, yet consists of the smallest parts: and so it may note that Solomon’s wisdom was both vast, reaching to all things; and most accurate, searching and discerning every small thing.
The children of the east country; the Chaldeans, Persians, and Arabians, who all lay eastward from Canaan, and who were famous in ancient times for their wisdom and learning, as appears both from sacred and profane writers.
The wisdom of Egypt, i.e. the Egyptians, whose fame was then great for their skill in the arts and sciences, which made them despise the Grecians as children in knowledge. See Acts 7:22.
Wiser than all men; either of his nation, or of his time, or of all times and nations, whether of the east or any other country, excepting only the first and Second Adam.
Ethan the Ezrahite, and Heman; Israelites of eminent wisdom, probably the same mentioned 1 Chronicles 2:6; 1 Chronicles 15:19; 1 Chronicles 25:4; Psalms 88:1; Psalms 89:1.
Chalcol and Dorda of whom see 1 Chronicles 2:6.
The sons of Mahol.
Object. All these four were the sons of Zerah, 1 Chronicles 2:6, or of Ezrah, as others call him.
Answ. Either the same man had two names, Zerah and Mahol, which was common amongst the Jews; and he might be called Mahol from his office or employment; for that signifies a dance, or a pipe; and he was expert in musical instruments, and so were his sons, 1 Chronicles 15:17-19, who possibly may here be called, by a vulgar Hebraism, sons of the musical instrument, from their dexterity in handling it, as upon another account we read of the daughters of music, Ecclesiastes 12:4.
Proverbs, i.e. short, and deep, and useful sentences, whereof a great and the best part are contained in the Books of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes. Of his songs the chief and most divine are in the Canticles.
Of trees, i.e. of all plants, of their nature and qualities; all which discourses are lost, without any impeachment of the perfection of the Holy Scriptures; which were not inspired and written to teach men philosophy or physic, but only to make men wise to salvation. See John 20:31; 2 Timothy 3:16,2 Timothy 3:17.
From the cedar tree unto the hyssop, i.e. from the greatest to the least.
From all kings of the earth, to wit, from all the neighbouring kings; universal particles being frequently understood in a restrained sense; and such restriction is grounded upon the following words, where this is limited to such as heard of Solomon’s wisdom.
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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on 1 Kings 4". Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26