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1 Kings 10:1. And when the queen of Sheba heard, &c.— The queen of Sheba having heard the fame of Solomon, and the name of the Lord, came, &c. Houbigant. Concerning the custom of putting forth enigmas and dark questions, see the note on Judges 14:12. Who this queen of Sheba was, or whence she came, is not agreed by interpreters. The most probable opinion seems to be, that she came from Arabia; as for many other reasons, so particularly because she is called in the Gospel, the queen of the south, and is said to have come from the uttermost parts of the earth: Mat 12:42 which answers exactly to Arabia Felix, for it lies south of Judea, and is limited by the ocean. Add to this, that it abounded in gold, precious stones, and fine perfumes, more than any country thereabouts. If she came from Arabia, there is reason to believe that she originally descended from Abraham by his wife Keturah, one of whose sons begat Sheba, (Genesis 1:3.) who was the first planter of this country; and consequently that she might have some knowledge of revealed religion, by tradition at least from her pious ancestors. And, indeed, this verse seems more than to intimate, that the design of her visit to Solomon was not so much to gratify her curiosity, as to inform her understanding in matters relating to piety and divine worship, concerning the name of the Lord. And what our Saviour speaks respecting her rising in judgment against the men of that generation, seems plainly to intimate, that the wisdom which she came to hear was of a much more important kind than that of merely enigmatical questions. See Calmet.
1 Kings 10:5. There was no more spirit in her— A common mode of expression to signify the highest degree of admiration; implying, says Houbigant, aliquem esse admiratione obstupefactum, that the person is stunned with admiration.
1 Kings 10:9. Blessed be the Lord, &c.— That the government of the Jews was only a vice-royalty, may be inferred from this circumstance. The throne and kingdom of Judea is all along expressly declared to be God's throne and God's kingdom. Thus the queen of Sheba, who visited Solomon to be instructed in his wisdom, and who, doubtless, had been informed by him of the true nature of his kingdom, compliments him in these words: "Blessed be the Lord thy God, who delighted in thee, to set thee on his throne, to be king for the Lord thy God;" as it is read 2 Chronicles 9:8.
1 Kings 10:11-11.10.12. And the navy also of Hiram, &c.— Parkhurst thinks, that the אלמגים almugim, thya, or lignumvitae tree, is so called from אל al, not, and גם gem, to fill, because it is of so close a texture, as not to imbibe water, nor be affected by the wet and weather. See Dr. Shaw's Travels, p. 422.
REFLECTIONS.—The spreading fame of Solomon brought to his court a vast resort of strangers. Among the most distinguished of which, we must reckon the queen of Sheba.
1. She came with a vast retinue, and the richest presents, to converse with a person of whom she had heard such wonders, to prove him by hard questions, to gain advice in her difficulties, and especially to inquire concerning the name of the Lord who had bestowed on Solomon such uncommon wisdom. Note; (1.) Wisdom can never be too dearly bought, or too far fetched. (2.) If her solicitude to inquire after God was so commendable, how will it upbraid their neglect, who, when the greater than Solomon is here, to teach them by his word and Spirit, refuse instruction, and will not hear the wisdom of God.
2. Solomon entertained her with the dignity becoming her rank, communed with her of all that she had in her heart, answered every question, and solved all her difficulties to her entire satisfaction. Note; They who have the gift of knowledge, should delight in the communication of it.
3. What she heard and saw quite astonished her. His discourses so deep and clear; his buildings so vast and magnificent; his table so richly and regularly supplied; his servants so exact, orderly, and numerous; his liveries so grand; his cup-bearers so stately; and his ascent by steps to the house of the Lord so nobly contrived, so exquisitely finished; or, as it may be rendered, the burnt-offerings in the house of the Lord, which, as proselyted, she might now be admitted to behold: these were all so astonishing, that she was lost in admiration.
4. When she had recovered from her amazement, she could not withhold expressing her high satisfaction, and how much the event exceeded her expectation. Fame is usually too liberal, but here had been unjust, half had not been told her. She pronounces them happy, who enjoyed the constant opportunity of hearing such a prodigy of wisdom; declares that she could be tempted to wish her lot among his servants, rather than on the throne of Sheba; and concludes with blessing God for his distinguished gifts and greatness, and for his goodness to Israel in giving them such a king. Note; (1.) To enjoy the converse of those who are wise in the things of God is a most valuable mercy. (2.) God, as the author of all our blessings, deserves the praise of all. (3.) When we shall come to the presence of our Solomon, the Prince of Peace, we shall own how much the glory he hath prepared for his people exceeds all that eye hath seen or ear heard, or it hath entered into the heart of man to conceive.
5. They parted with mutual magnificent presents: she gave him gold, and spices, and jewels; and he made her a like return, presenting her besides with every thing curious, which she desired. Note; (1.) Mutual tokens are the pledges of friendship. (2.) Though we have nothing valuable to offer to the Lord Jesus, yet, if we have the willing heart, he will send us away loaded with his good things, and we can ask him nothing that he will not delight to bestow on us.
1 Kings 10:18. The king made a great throne of ivory— The porch in which this throne was placed is mentioned, chap. 1Ki 7:7 and it was by far the most magnificent of all the rest, inasmuch as it was both the king's seat of judgment and the public audience, where he shewed himself either to the nobles, or to the strangers who resorted to him. It was placed in the midst of rich pillars of cedar, curiously carved and covered, or rather inlaid, with gold: the throne itself, which was in the fashion of a niche, was covered with ivory, inlaid and intermixed with curious ornaments in gold: the ascent to it was by six steps, each step being supported on either side by a small lion, and the arms of the seat with two others as large as the life. All these, and even the steps themselves, were covered with ivory and gold. We never read of ivory till about Solomon's time; who, perhaps, brought elephants out of India, or, at least, took care to have a great deal of ivory imported from thence; for in after ages we read of ivory beds and ivory palaces: at this time, however, it was nearly as precious as gold. The text says, the like to this throne was not made in any kingdom, (1 Kings 10:20.) 1:e. in those days; for we read in afterages, that the throne of the Parthian kings was of gold, encompassed with four golden pillars, adorned with precious stones; and that the Persian kings sat in judgment under a golden vine, and other trees of gold, the bunches of whole grapes and other fruits were made of several sorts of precious stones.
1 Kings 10:22. Bringing gold and silver, ivory, &c.— See the note on chap. 1Ki 9:28 and Scheuchzer on the place.
1 Kings 10:29. And a chariot came up and went out of Egypt, &c.— The Egyptian horses were highly acceptable to the Syrian princes, who, it seems, had them brought out of that country by the means of Solomon, at a considerable expence. What made them prize the Egyptian horses so highly, is not easy to determine. It cannot be imagined that they were animals peculiar to Egypt, or not known in that part of Asia, which made them so desirous to transplant such an useful creature into their countries; for we read of great numbers of them in Syria before the time of Solomon. (See 1Sa 13:5. 2 Samuel 10:18.) They might be supposed, however, much more useful in war, to which the prophet Isaiah may possibly refer, Isa 31:3 when he tells the Israelites, that the Egyptians were men, and not God; and their horses were flesh, and not spirit: for it is well known, that they are much larger than other eastern horses, as well as more beautiful. Or they might be chosen on account of their stateliness, and being more proper for the use of those who desired to appear in great pomp and dignity. But, whatever was the reason, it seems to have been a proof of the respect paid to Solomon by the neighbouring princes, and among the rest by those of Egypt, which the Scripture speaks of, but which has not, as far as I know, been remarked by commentators, as pointed out in the present passage, and 2Ch 1:16-17 though they are very clear proofs of it, if the present Egyptian usages are derived from remote antiquity in this respect, as they are in most other things; for the difficulty, we are told, of conveying horses out of Egypt, is so great, that, excepting those designed for Turks of high distinction at Constantinople, it cannot be overcome. M. Maillet himself, though Consul General of France in Egypt, and though he had powerful connections with the great men there, could never obtain this liberty; and in his eleventh letter he employs upwards of two pages in proposing projects for doing that by subtilty, which he despaired of effecting by any other means. It is most probable, that the like difficulty existed in the time of Solomon, as the customs of Egypt are so very ancient; and, consequently, his bringing horses out of this country for himself, and for other princes at his pleasure, should be considered as a proof of the respect with which he was treated; as the fondness of the present great men of the East for the horses of Egypt, may account for the desire of the kings of the Hittites and of Syria to obtain them. See the Observations; the author of which, speaking of the linen yarn, 1Ki 10:28 goes on to remark, that, according to Norden, this is one of the principal of the Egyptian merchandises, and is sent away in prodigious quantities, together with unmanufactured flax, and cotton spun. Sanutus, who lived about four hundred years since, observes, that though Christian countries abounded in his time in flax, yet the goodness of the Egyptian was such, that it was dispersed all about, even into the west. For the same reason, without doubt, the Jews, Hittites, and Syrians, anciently purchased the linen yarn of this country, though they had flax growing in their own.
Note: 1. Solomon, on his throne of ivory, was typical of his greater Son, seated on the great white throne of Judgment, and pronouncing sentence on the eternal state of men and angels; see Revelation 2:2. That king is truly glorious, who makes his subjects affluent and happy under his wise administration. 3. If we shall be found citizens of the New Jerusalem, and our lot be cast among the subjects of Jesus, then the very streets of our city shall be pure gold, and the walls the richest jewels; so much will our eternal consolations and blessedness exceed all earthly joy and felicity.
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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on 1 Kings 10". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany