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CRITICAL NOTES.] This chapter corresponds with 1 Kings 5:0. It comprises preparations for building the temple (2 Chronicles 2:1-2); Solomon’s message to Huram (2 Chronicles 2:3-10); Huram’s reply (2 Chronicles 2:11-16); and the census of the strangers (2 Chronicles 2:17-18).
2 Chronicles 2:1-2.—Preparations for building. Determined, i.e., commanded, gave orders to build. Name (1 Chronicles 22:10; cf. 1 Kings 5:5). Kingdom, royal palace. 2 Chronicles 2:2. The substance of this verse given in 2 Chronicles 2:18, here indicative of magnitude of the undertaking.
2 Chronicles 2:3-10.—Solomon’s message to Huram. H. had congratulated Sol. (1 Kings 5:1). Deal (cf. 1 Chronicles 14:1 and 2 Samuel 5:11). Cedars (1 Chronicles 14:1). 2 Chronicles 2:4. Incense, lit. incense of spices (marg.); the regular incense burned every morning and every evening (Exodus 30:7); for symbolic meaning, see Revelation 8:3-4. Shewbread (cf. Exodus 25:30; Leviticus 24:5-9; Numbers 4:7). Moons (Numbers 28:11-15). Feasts, three great annual. 2 Chronicles 2:5. Great, exceeding in size any separate building in Palestine and any temple of the gods of surrounding nations. See Stanley’s Jewish Ch., vol. ii., p. 224. 2 Chronicles 2:6. Able (cf. 1 Kings 8:27; 2 Chronicles 6:18). “In the question, ‘Who am I?’ (cf. 1 Chronicles 29:14) there is implied: a house for him to dwell in I cannot build; and with this is connected the antithesis; but only for the purpose of burning incense before him, i.e., only to maintain a place in which God may be honoured by sacrifice, can I venture to build him a house” [Keil]. 2 Chronicles 2:7. Cunning, i.e., skilful to work in gold (1 Chronicles 22:15) and with knowledge of sculpture in metal and wood; a man to design and superintend all work in metals and other materials (Exodus 25:4). 2 Chronicles 2:8. Send. “The cedar and cypress were valued as being both rare and durable; the algum or almug trees (likewise a foreign wood), though not got on Lebanon, is mentioned as being procured through Huram” [Jamieson], 2 Chronicles 2:9. Wonderful, lit. great and wonderful. 2 Chronicles 2:10. Give. “According to Kings, Solomon’s original proposal was simply to pay Hiram’s workmen for their labour, and it was at Hiram’s suggestion that he commuted his proposed ‘hire’ into an annual payment in kind (see 1 Kings 5:6; 1 Kings 5:9; 1 Kings 5:11). It would seem, therefore, that the author of Chronicles here throws into one at least two distinct messages sent by Solomon to Hiram” [Speak. Com.].
2 Chronicles 2:11-16.—Huram’s reply (cf. 1 Kings 5:8-9). Loved. “It would seem that neighbouring sovereigns, in communications with Jewish monarchs, adopted the Jewish name for the Supreme Being (Jehovah, ‘the Lord’ of our version), either identifying him with their own chief god or (sometimes) meaning merely to acknowledge him as the special god of the Jewish nation and country. In Hiram’s case the acknowledgment seems to be of the former kind” [Speak. Com.]. 2 Chronicles 2:12. The Lord, a formula designating the Supreme God with several Asiatic nations. In Persian inscriptions Ormazd is constantly called “the great god, who gave (or made) heaven and earth” [Speak. Com.]. 2 Chronicles 2:13. Huram, the king’s own father’s name appears to have been Abibaal. Father is used in the honourable sense of master, and the trans. should be as generally admitted. “I have sent a cunning man, endued with understanding, one Huram, my master workman” 2 Chronicles 2:14. A Tyrian by race, whose mother was of the daughter of Dan, though her father was of Naphtali (1 Kings 7:14), skilled in all things specified, and in wood, stone, and fine linen. 2 Chronicles 2:16. Joppa, now Jaffa, the natural port of Jerusalem, distant about 35 miles.
2 Chronicles 2:17-18.—The census of strangers. Strangers, descendants of Canaanites not driven out of the land at the invasion (Judges 1:21-36; 1 Kings 9:20), and non-Israelite population influx from surrounding nations. Numbered, reimposition of bond-service had been discontinued between Joshua and Saul David numbered the strangers (cf. 1 Chronicles 22:2). and Solomon imitated his father.
THE BUILDING OF THE TEMPLE.—2 Chronicles 2:1-16
Solomon’s wisdom given not for self-adornment and speculation, but for practical purposes; to build, govern, and do the work of God. David talked about the work, gathered materials; Solomon executed.
I. The magnitude of the work. Wonderfully great (2 Chronicles 2:9). Great not so much in outward structure as in style and design.
1. Great because God, for whom it is built, is great. “For great is our God above all gods” (2 Chronicles 2:5). Infinite, self-existent, and supreme. Our ideas of God determine our plans in building up character, family, business, and places of worship. “Our theology determines our architecture,” says Dr. Parker. Defective views of God will influence expenditure and worship. God is great, and should have nothing mean.
2. Great because its worship is becoming. “To burn sacrifice before him” (2 Chronicles 2:6). The spiritual always greater than the material. However magnificent the place, God is greater than the temple. A great God indicates great worship. A ritual not to please the eye and gratify the taste, but holy, sincere, and devout.
3. Great because it satisfies great needs. “To burn before him sweet incense, &c.” (2 Chronicles 2:4). “Solomon seems to mean that to build a temple can only be justified on the human—not on the divine—side. ‘God dwelleth not in temples made with hands,’ cannot be confined to them, does in no sort need them. The sole reason for building a temple lies in the needs of man. Man is finite; his worship must be local; the sacrifices commanded in the law had, of necessity, to be offered somewhere. Only in view of these necessities did Solomon venture to think of building God a ‘house’ ” [Speak. Com.]. Man will ever need incease, which sets forth prayer; the continual shew-bread, or communion with God; and the burnt-offering, or propitiation for sin (Exodus 30:7; Numbers 28:0; Leviticus 23:0).
II. The spirit in which the work was undertaken. Solomon felt the necessity, urgency, and responsibility of the work.
1. A spirit of determination. “I purpose to build a house” (1 Kings 5:5). Energy, settled and fixed resolution in himself. Gave orders to others also to help; stirred up the nation to take an interest in work. Prayer should show itself in action and enthusiasm for God. “The truest wisdom is a resolute determination,” says Napoleon.
2. A spirit of humility. “But who is able to build, &c.?” (2 Chronicles 2:6). Feeling that he was undertaking an impossible work almost. Not as a conceited king or wealthy prince, but as unworthy of the work, did he regard himself. A due sense of insufficiency becoming in the wisest and strongest; the only way to secure strength and success; will never lead to despair, but to do what can be done. “When ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants; we have done that which was our duty to do.”
III. The help which was secured in the execution of the work. Solomon great, wise, and rich but required help from Hiram. Kings want men! Everything worthy done by co-operation, reciprocity of labour.
1. Help readily given. No excuse, no delay, no mere promise. Willingness combined with respect, congratulations, and gladness of the opportunity. “When Hiram heard the words of Solomon he rejoiced greatly.”
2. Help most skilful. Cut timber, “costly stones and hewed stones,” the best that could be given. We should contrive more for God. Give more intelligence, more value in our service; put more cunning in the fingers, more penetration in the mind, and more polish in the brass; more beauty in every sacrifice.
3. Help most suitable. One thing not substituted for another; cedar-trees for gold, and silver for brass. Timber, stones, and fine linen in exact quantity and quality. Cunning men “filled with wisdom and understanding,” “able to grave,” to superintend and direct. Give what is suitable and required, and you will help in building the temple.
HIRAM AND SOLOMON.—2 Chronicles 2:2-16
Hiram had been a friend of David, now a faster friend of Solomon, with whom he formed treaties and alliance, by which commerce was extended and peace maintained. We learn from this intercourse—I. That friendship in life is helpful. Hiram served both father and son; gratitude and filial loyalty bound Solomon to him. An old family friend revives touching memories; should never be forsaken, though you may rise and he may sink in the world, nor undervalued in counsels and offices of love. “Thine own friend and thy father’s friend, forsake not.” II. That co-operation among men is desirable. True friendship leads to common courtesy and co-operation. Kings not independent, need men, and cannot build without others. Tyre may help Jerusalem, Gentile the Jew. In the cause of humanity, skilled and unskilled, overseer and common labourer, may work together. “Every man has his own kingship. Every man has something that no other man has. A recognition of this fact, and a proper use of its suggestions, would create for us a democracy hard to distinguish from a theocracy.” III. That men may know God, yet not serve him. Hiram acknowledged the God of the Jewish people, now known among the nations, but no reason to think that he was a proselyte to the Jewish religion. The doxology (“Blessed, &c.”) may spring from courtesies of style, community of language, and religious tradition which existed between Phœnicians and Hebrews. Men may know much of God, speak well of him, yet withhold homage from him and give it to idols. IV. That when God’s people are consistent in their life, their influence upon others is for good. Hiram felt more than respect for Solomon; was well-disposed, through the honour and worship rendered to God. When Israel were idolatrous, they were weakened; when holy, they influenced and instructed surrounding nations; lent, but borrowed not. Let your life be pure, and the worship of your God sincere, then you overcome opposition, touch the heart, and secure the help of strangers. “The sons of strangers shall build up thy walls, and their kings shall minister unto thee.”
NATURALISATION OF FOREIGNERS.—2 Chronicles 2:17-18
I. A good Government will tend to make a country attractive to foreigners. II. Foreigners thus attracted are amenable to the laws of the State. III. Thus protected, they may contribute materially to the enrichment of a State by the importation of foreign industries. IV. The kind treatment of exiles often repays those who so regard them. Illus.: The silk-weavers of Spitalfields. V. Be kind to strangers [Bib. Museum].
HOMILETIC HINTS AND SUGGESTIONS
2 Chronicles 2:3-7. In opening the business Solomon grounded his request for Tyrian aid on two reasons:
1. The temple he proposed to build must be a solid and permanent building, because the worship was to be continued in perpetuity, and therefore the building materials required to be of the most durable quality.
2. It must be a magnificent structure, because it was to be dedicated to the God who was greater than all gods; and, therefore, as it might seem a presumptuous idea to erect an edifice for a Being “whom the heaven and the heaven of heavens do not contain,” it was explained that Solomon’s object was not to build a house for him to dwell in, but a temple in which his worshippers might offer sacrifices to his honour. No language could be more humble and appropriate than this. The pious strain of sentiment was such as became a King of Israel [Jamieson].
2 Chronicles 2:6-7. By the sentence “the heaven and heaven of heavens,” that is, the heaven in its most extended compass, “cannot contain God,” Solomon strikes down all rationalistic assertions that the Israelites imagined Jehovah to be only a finite national god. The infinitude and supramundane exaltation of God cannot be more clearly and strongly expressed than it is in these words. That, however, Solomon was addicted to no abstract idealism is sufficiently apparent from this, that he unites this consciousness of the infinite exaltation of God with the firm belief of his real presence in the temple. The true God is not merely infinitely exalted above the world, has not only his throne in heaven (1 Kings 8:34; 1 Kings 8:36; Psalms 2:4; Psalms 11:4; Psalms 103:19; Isaiah 66:1; Amos 9:6), he is also present on the earth (Deuteronomy 4:39), has chosen the temple for the dwelling-place of his name in Israel, from which he hears the prayers of his people [Keil.]
2 Chronicles 2:7. Send a man. Men wanted to consecrate their skill to God and lead in Christian work, &c. A famous son. Hiram, the first sculptor and engraver of Israel, was half a foreigner. His father was a Tyrian and was dead; but his mother was a Danite who lived in Naphtali (1 Kings 7:13-14). He thus sprung on the Israelite side from the same tribe, and (according to Jewish tradition) from the same family as Aholiab, the Danite artist in the wilderness. So wide was his fame, and so profound the reverence entertained for him by the two sovereigns to whom he belonged, that he is called “the father,” both of Solomon and of Hiram [Stanley]. I. A widow’s son trained in his father’s workshop, helping his mother, and striving to do his duty. II. This son, by diligence, faithfulness, and skill, became famous, excelled, and was promoted. III. This promotion a reward for his diligence, and a joy to his widowed mother. Industry, filial love, and perseverance sure to bring eminence. “Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings: he shall not stand before mean men” (Proverbs 22:29). (Henry Martin, known in his college as “the man who had not lost an hour.” Joseph, Nehemiah, Daniel.)
2 Chronicles 2:17-18. Solomon’s workmen. Builders, Israelites and heathen (Psalms 22:29). A prophetic anticipation of Ephesians 2:14; Ephesians 2:19-22; Ephesians 3:4-6. Solomon’s treatment of his workmen. Not arbitrary like Pharaoh, who would have raised discontent, if not opposition, but considerate. A wise arrangement to give rest at home and relief in labour. Hence no murmuring in work. This an example to modern builders. Learn—The temple a house of prayer for all nations. Many help in the material work of the church, who do not enjoy its worship and privileges. “We, his servants, will arise and build: but ye have no portion, nor right, nor memorial in Jerusalem.”
ILLUSTRATIONS TO CHAPTER 2
2 Chronicles 2:3-4. Friendship.
Friendship! mysterious cement of the soul!
Sweet’ner of life! and solder of society!” [Blair].
2 Chronicles 2:5-6. God above all gods. As the human mind is finite and conceives by defining the limits of its thought, and as God is known to us to be infinite, it is evident that the human mind can never be capable of conceiving God adequately as He is, or of defining His being [Hodge].
2 Chronicles 2:7. A man. The most important point in any affair is to know what is to be done [Columella].
2 Chronicles 2:14. Skilful. The mechanical genius of the Phœnicians generally, and of the Sidonians in particular, is noticed by many ancient writers [Speak. Com.].
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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 2". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30