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Bible Commentaries

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical
1 Kings 9

 

 

Verses 1-28

F.—Various matters connected with the accounts of Solomon’s architectural works

( 1 Kings 9:1-28.)

1And it came to pass, when Solomon had finished the building of the house of the Lord [Jehovah], and the king’s house, and all Solomon’s desire which he was pleased to do, 2that the Lord [Jehovah] appeared to Solomon the second timeras he had appeared unto him at Gibeon 3 And the Lord [Jehovah] said unto him, I have heard, thy prayer and thy supplication, that thou hast made before me:[FN1] I have hallowed this house, which thou hast built, to put my name there forever;and mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually 4 And if thou wilt walk before me, as David thy father walked, in integrity of heart, and in uprightness, to do according to all that I have commanded thee, and wilt keep my statutesand my judgments; 5then I will establish the throne of thy kingdom upon Israel forever, as I promised [spake] to[FN2] David thy father, saying, There shall not fail 6 thee a man upon the throne of Israel. But if ye shall at all [altogether[FN3]] turn from following me, ye or your children, and will not keep my commandments and my statues which I[FN4] have set before you, but go and serve other gods, andworship them; 7then will I cut off Israel out of the land which I have given them; and this house, which I have hallowed for my name, will I cast out of my 8 sight; and Israel shall be a proverb and a byword among all people: and at[FN5] this house, which is high, every one that passeth by it shall be astonished, and shall hiss; and they shall say, Why hath the Lord done thus unto this land, andto this house? 9And they shall answer, Because they forsook the Lord [Jehovah] their God, who brought forth their fathers out of the land of Egypt, and have taken hold upon other gods, and have worshipped them, and served them: therefore hath the Lord [Jehovah] brought upon them all this evil.[FN6]

10And it came to pass at the end of twenty years, when Solomon had built the 11 two houses, the house of the Lord [Jehovah], and the king’s house, (Now Hiram the king of Tyre had furnished Solomon with cedar-trees and fir-trees, and with gold, according to all his desire,) that then king Solomon gave Hiram twentycities in the land of Galilee 12 And Hiram came out from Tyre to see the citieswhich Solomon had given him; and they pleased him not 13 And he said, What cities are these which thou hast given me, my brother? And he called them theland of Cabul[FN7] unto this day 14 And Hiram sent to the king six-score talents of gold.

15[FN8]And this is the reason of the levy which king Solomon raised; for to build the house of the Lord [Jehovah], and his own house, and Millo, and the wall of 16 Jerusalem, and Hazor, and Megiddo, and Gezer. For Pharaoh king of Egypt had gone up, and taken Gezer, and burnt it with fire, and slain the Canaanites 17 that dwelt in the city, and given it for a present unto his daughter, Solomon’swife. And Solomon built Gezer, and Beth-horon the nether, 18and Baalath, andTadmor[FN9] in the wilderness, in the land, 19and all the cities of store that Solomon had, and cities for his chariots, and cities for his horsemen, and[FN10] that which Solomon desired to build in Jerusalem, and in Lebanon, and in all the land of his 20 dominion. And all the people that were left of the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites Hivites, and Jebusites, which were not of the children of Israel, 21their children that were left after them in the land, whom the children of Israel also were not able utterly to destroy, upon those did Solomon levy a tribute of bond-serviceunto this day.[FN11] 22But of the children of Israel did Solomon make no bondmen: but they were men of war, and his servants, and his princes, and his captains, and 23 rulers of his chariots, and his horsemen. These were the chief of the officers that were over Solomon’s work, five hundred and fifty, which bare rule over the people that wrought in the work.

24But Pharaoh’s daughter came up out of the city of David unto her house which Solomon had built for her: then did he build Millo.

25And three times in a year did Solomon offer burnt-offerings and peace-offerings upon the altar which he built unto the Lord [Jehovah], and he burnt incense upon the altar that was before the Lord [Jehovah]. So he finished the house.

26And king Solomon made a navy of ships[FN12] in Ezion-geber, which is besideEloth, on the shore of the Red sea, in the land of Edom 27 And Hiram sent in the navy his servants, shipmen that had knowledge of the sea, with the servantsof Song of Solomon 28And they came to Ophir, and fetched from thence gold, four[FN13] hundred and twenty talents, and brought it to king Solomon.

Exegetical and Critical

1 Kings 9:1-2. And it came to pass when Solomon had finished, &c. Cf. 2 Chronicles 7:11-22. Solomon built, besides the temple and the palace, a number of other buildings, of which mention is made in 1 Kings 9:15; 1 Kings 9:19. Chron. says: all that he desired to build, for All which he was pleased to do;חֵשֶׁק cannot, therefore, mean, as Thenius thinks, “pleasure-buildings,” as distinguished from necessary and useful ones, but rather from the words of 1 Kings 9:19, “in all the lands of his dominions,” must signify public works which he had undertaken for the benefit of the latter, as for instance (according to Ewald), aqueducts, reservoirs, &c. It is very distinctly stated here, that the divine appearance of 1 Kings 9:2 took place after the completion of the temple and palace, as well as several other buildings. But because the divine address. 1 Kings 9:3 sq, refers to the prayer at the temple-dedication, some have concluded, as we have already mentioned in our remarks on 1 Kings 8:1, that the appearance immediately followed the dedication; and that the latter, accordingly, occurred thirteen years after the completion of the temple. But there is no reason whatsoever for such a conclusion. The dedication had been performed in a spirit and manner that could have given no cause for such a sharp warning and severe threatening as are found in 1 Kings 9:6-9; and yet this threatening seems to be the principal thing in the divine discourse. It is very possible that it was occasioned by circumstances of a later date. The meaning in this case would be: I have indeed heard thy prayer at the dedication of the temple, and will do that for which thou hast besought me; but take warning. If ye turn away from me I will destroy Israel, &c. In like manner Seb. Schmidt: quod Deus distulerit hanc apparitionem usque ad tempus, quo Salomonis peccatum appropinquabat, ut non diu antequam fieret eum serio moneret. If this view be rejected we must think, with Keil (in the Commentary of1846), that the writer wished to say all that he had to remark concerning Solomon’s different buildings, in the same place in our chapter, and “that he made the transition-formula, 1 Kings 9:1, at the same time the heading of the following section, in which not only is the divine appearance mentioned, but an account also is given of Solomon’s undertakings after he had finished all the buildings.”

1 Kings 9:3-9. And the Lord said unto him, &c. We may conclude from the words: “as at Gibeon,” that it took place, as then, in a dream ( 1 Kings 3:5). I have hallowed this house … my, &c, i. e, I have appointed it by my glory ( 1 Kings 8:10-11; Exodus 29:43 : בִּכְבֹדִי) to be the place where I reveal my holiness (cf. Histor. and Ethic2, on chap, 6.). The parallel passage in 2 Chronicles 7:12, says: I have chosen this place to myself for a house of sacrifice; which means that, as Jehovah was known and honored as the Holy One, through sacrifice, so sacrifice was also His appointed means of atonement and sanctification for the sacrificer. The house was essentially a place of sanctification. Our author evidently left out what the Chron. adds in 1 Kings 9:13-14, because it is partly contained in 1 Kings 9:3. For 1 Kings 9:4-5 see on 1 Kings 2:4; 1 Kings 8:25. When David is here, as in 1 Kings 3:14, held up to Solomon as a model in keeping Jehovah’s commandments, it is not because David never broke a divine law, or never sinned, but because he kept inviolate the first and chief commandment upon which the existence of Israel depended ( Exodus 20:2-5); because in every situation in which he was placed, in prosperity and adversity; amongst his compatriots or in banishment among the heathen, he remained loyal to Jehovah, and never discovered the slightest leaning to idolatry. The threat, 1 Kings 9:6-9, is the same as in Leviticus 26:14; Deuteronomy 8:19; Deuteronomy 28:15; Deuteronomy 28:37; Joshua 23:16, and is therefore not one that was made for the first time after the captivity, as some have said. Thenius rightly remarks that the style and living force of the address are proofs that “we have an ancient utterance before us here.” מָשָׁל, 1 Kings 9:7, is a proverb which every one has in his mouth, a proverb of universal truth; every one will adduce Israel as a terrible example, and will mock them ( Isaiah 14:4; Micah 2:4). Thenius and Bertheau, by reference to Micah 3:12; Jeremiah 26:18; Psalm 79:1, read instead of עליון, in 1 Kings 9:8, עיים, i.e, ruins, and this certainly facilitates the translation of the word very much. But no MS. nor old translation reads it thus; and Chron. says expressly: “this house which is high” ( 2 Chronicles 7:21); we must, therefore, adhere to the text-reading. It cannot, however, be translated: and “this house, exalted as it may be, whosoever passes by the same, shall,” &c. (De Wette, von Meyer, and others), but only as Keil has it: “this house shall stand high, i.e. stand high in its destruction, a conspicuous example, a warning to all passers by.” The Vulgate translates, moreover, directly: et domus hœc erit in exemplum; but the Sept, more in the sense of the Chronicles: καὶ οἶκος οὖτος ὑψηλός, πᾶς διαπορευόμενος ἐκστήσεται. But we must supply what is understood, namely, that the house is destroyed. Keil thinks there is an allusion to Deuteronomy 24:19; Deuteronomy 28:1, in עֶלְיוֹן. 1 Kings 9:8-9 mean that what was threatened in the law in Deuteronomy 29:23-26, shall be fulfilled, שָׁרַק does not denote a scornful hissing, but, as the connection with יִשֹּׁם requires, a hissing of terror. Cf. Jeremiah 19:8; Jeremiah 49:17.

1 Kings 9:10. And it came to pass at the end of twenty years. In 1 Kings 9:2-9 the author has given an account which concerns the temple, the most important of all Solomon’s buildings. From 1 Kings 9:10 on, he gives further information respecting them; how Solomon was enabled to undertake his many and, in part, expensive buildings; that is to say, through his treaty with Hiram, 1 Kings 9:11-14; and also by the levy which he raised, 1 Kings 9:15-25; and finally by the voyage to Ophir, which brought him gold, 1 Kings 9:26-28 (Keil).—The seven years of the temple-building ( 1 Kings 6:38), and the thirteen years of the palace-building ( 1 Kings 7:1), are included in the twenty years of 1 Kings 9:10. There is no historical connection between the section 1 Kings 9:10-14, and that in 1 Kings 9:1-9. The heading in 1 Kings 9:1 is therefore repeated on account of the following collective remarks on the different buildings.

1 Kings 9:11-14. Now Hiram the king of Tyre, &c. The section in 1 Kings 9:11-14 is easily seen to be an excerpt, which has gaps not to be filled with perfect certainty. According to 1 Kings 5:1-6, Solomon had made a compact with Hiram, by the terms of which he was to indemnify him by the delivery of certain natural productions; no allusion is made here to any further recompense in the way of territory, nor to any payment of gold which Solomon had obtained from Hiram. It is plain, therefore, that the twenty cities were an equivalent for the120 talents of gold mentioned in 1 Kings 9:14. Probably Hiram had at first agreed to the proposition; but upon a closer inspection he was not pleased with these towns, though he had to abide by his agreement. This is the only explanation of the fact that no answer from Solomon to the question in 1 Kings 9:13 is recorded. As we may conclude, from the account of their joint enterprise in 1 Kings 9:26 sq, that the friendly relations of the two kings continued, it is probable that Solomon satisfied him in some other way.

The land הַגָּלִיל is not the later province of Galilee in its whole extent, but only the northern part of it, originally belonging to Naphthali; it was called גְלִיל הַגֹּרִים, district or country of the heathen ( Isaiah 8:23; 1 Maccabees 5:15). Solomon fixed upon it as an equivalent because it bordered on the territory of Tyre, and, as its name shows, was not so much inhabited by Israelites as by heathens (cf. 2 Samuel 24:7).—The אָחִי is not, as in 1 Kings 20:32, an expression of intimacy, but is a prince’s title ( 1 Maccabees 10:18; 1 Maccabees 11:30). The designation כָּבוּל, which Hiram gave the land of the twenty cities, is also given to a place or district in the tribe of Asher ( Joshua 19:17), and is derived from כָּבַל, vincire, to chain, to close; thus describing the district as closed (but not pawned, as some allege), by virtue of its geographical position. This is much more natural than the explanation, according to which כָּבוּל is from כְּהַבוּל, i.e, sicut id, quod evanuit tanquam nihil (Maurer, Gesenius), or formed by כָּ and בַּל = בוּל (Thenius), and meaning “As nothing.” How could Hiram give the district a permanent name, which contained rather a mockery of himself than of the land? The assertion of Josephus (Antiq8, 5, 3), that Χαλαβών means οὐκ ἀρέσκον in Phœnician, is utterly without foundation. We have no need to seek the reason of the name in Hiram’s exclamation: “What cities are these,” &c.; the second sentence of 1 Kings 9:13 is quite independent of the first. In order to reconcile the conflicting assertion in 2 Chronicles 8:2 (that Hiram gave cities to Song of Solomon, who peopled them with Israelites), with the passage under consideration, it is generally supposed that Solomon had, in the first place, given up twenty cities to Hiram, but as they did not please Hiram, took them back again (Keil). But נתן cannot, in itself, mean to give back, and our passage also, which is the fullest, would in this case be quite silent about what it intends to state, namely, that Hiram had received an equivalent. Our passage cannot, at any rate, be disproved by the short, abrupt assertion of Chron. The question may be asked, too, if these cities were the same as in Kings. Perhaps later tradition, which Chron. follows, changed the circumstances Song of Solomon, because people could not believe that Solomon should have given up Israelitish land to Tyre, contrary to the law, Leviticus 25:23 (cf. Bertheau on 2 Chronicles 8:1).

1 Kings 9:15-19. And this is the reason of the levy, which, &c. It was chiefly through Hiram’s aid that Solomon was enabled to undertake his buildings, but it was also a great assistance to him that he could use the Canaanites that were left in the land to perform this tribute labor. It seems from Judges 9:6 and 2 Kings 12:21, that הַמִּלוֹא does not mean merely a wall of earth (filling up), but a building (בֵּית) or a collection of buildings that serve to fortify a place, i.e, fortifications, rampart, citadel. David had made such for Zion ( 2 Samuel 5:9), and Solomon renewed it, cf. 1 Kings 11:27; 2 Chronicles 32:5. “It can only have been where Zion rises highest, and consequently most needs fortification” (Thenius). The walls of Jerusalem do not here mean the walls of Zion, the upper city, but those of the lower city (see on 1 Kings 3:1), so that the temple mountain was included. Hazoc, a town in the tribe of Naphthali, formerly a Canaanitish royal city, was not far from the northern frontier of Palestine, and was therefore “built,” i.e, fortified by Song of Solomon, Joshua 19:36; 2 Kings 15:29. Megiddo (cf. on 1 Kings 4:12) lay in an important military position, for it formed an entrance to the plain of Jezreel and the Jordan (meadows) valley, thus being the way from the sea-coast to central and north Palestine. Gezer, also once a Canaanitish royal city, between Beth-horon and the Mediterranean sea; it lay in the southerly portion of the tribe of Ephraim ( Joshua 16:3). What Hazor was to the north and Megiddo to the central part of Palestine, Gezer and the lower Beth-horon were to the south; an army could much more easily penetrate to the capital from those places, than from the mountains of Judah (cf. Thenius on the place). 1 Kings 9:16 is a parenthesis, and tells how Gezer came into Solomon’s possession. Probably, it was the capital of a district that extended to the coast, into which Pharaoh entered from the sea. The great importance of the situation of this place made its possession very valuable to Solomon. Whether the town was built again immediately after it was destroyed, or not until Solomon’s time, is uncertain; at any rate, he fortified it. Baalath is a town in the tribe of Dan ( Joshua 19:44), according to Josephus (Antiq.viii6, 1), not far from Beth-horon and Gezer; it has been wrongly asserted to be identical with Baal-gad at Hermon ( Joshua 11:17), because the directly following תָּמָר is = to תַּדְמֹר according to 2 Chronicles 8:4, and the later denotes the large and rich city of Palmyra, situated between Damascus and the Euphrates (Keil). But the connection of תמר with Baalath, Gezer, and Beth-horon indisputably denotes a southern city, especially as the more northern fortresses, Hazor and Megiddo, were named before. תָּמָר is also named as a southern place in Ezekiel 47:19; Ezekiel 48:28. The addition “in the wilderness, in the land,” can only mean, in the wilderness that lay in Palestine, which is the wilderness of Judah; it is therefore unwarrantable to add אֲרָם, i.e, Syria, after בָּאָרֶץ as some have done. Thus Thamar was the most southern fortress, and “commanded the passes which led to the most frequented routes from Edom to Jerusalem” (Thenius). A fortified city was very necessary and important in this very place, and it is inexplicable that Solomon should have left the south without any fortress, and yet have fortified the distant city of Palmyra, beyond the confines of Palestine. As in all doubtful cases, so here the statement of the books of the Kings merits the preference over that of the Chron, which has given occasion to the k’ri. Besides, תַּדְמֹר occurs nowhere else, and it is much more probable that תָּמָר has been changed into the famous תַּדְמֹר than the reverse. The account of the fortresses that protected the land is followed ( 1 Kings 9:19) by an account of the buildings required for storage of victuals and materials of war. The cities of store were not dépôts of merchandise (Ewald), but magazines of produce of the soil reserved for times of need ( 2 Chronicles 17:12; 2 Chronicles 32:28). For the cities for chariots and horsemen see 1 Kings 10:26.

1 Kings 9:20-23. And all the people that were left, &c. 1 Kings 9:20 refers back to 1 Kings 9:15, and after it has been stated for what purpose Song of Solomon, raised the levy, it now informs us whom it included. Upon מַס־עֹבֵד, i.e, slave-service, see 1 Kings 5:13. עֲבָדָיו, 1 Kings 9:22, means chiefly, officials of the war-department; שָׂרָיו chief officers of the army; and שָׁלִשָׁיוroyal adjutants and life-guardsmen. Gesenius, De Wette, and others translate the latter: chariot warriors, or chariot-driver, because there were always three of them standing in one chariot; this, however, does not admit of proof, and τριστάτης, as the Sept. usually renders it, does not mean chariot warriors. In every place where the word occurs in our books ( 2 Kings 7:2; 2 Kings 17:19; 2 Kings 15:25; 2 Kings 9:25) it denotes the royal staff; in 2 Kings 10:25, the רָצִים and שָׁלִשִׁים are the king’s body-guard; and in 2 Samuel 23:8 ( 1 Chronicles 10:11) still less is there reference to chariot warriors. The old glossaries explain τριστάτας, τοὺς παρὰ χεῖρα τοῦ βασιλέως. The reason of the name cannot be given with certitude. For the550 superintendents of the work see above on 1 Kings 5:16.

1 Kings 9:24. But Pharaoh’s daughter came up. The two facts recorded in 1 Kings 9:24-25 are by no means irrelevant and disconnected, as they appear; but plainly refer back to 1 Kings 3:1-4. They mean that the wants which were felt in the beginning of Solomon’s reign ceased with the completion of all the buildings ( 1 Kings 9:1; 1 Kings 9:10); the king’s consort took possession of the part of the royal palace that was for her use; and Solomon no longer sacrificed on the heights, but always in the temple he had built.אַךְ, 1 Kings 9:24, is here the same as in Genesis 27:30; Judges 7:19. It does not follow, because Solomon built Millo immediately after his consort repaired to her dwelling, that the former was to be a “protection to the harem” (Thenius), for there is no proof that the “house of Pharaoh’s daughter” was the harem, and Millo was evidently intended to protect the upper city.

1 Kings 9:25. And three times in a year did Solomon offer, that Isaiah, on the three chief festivals, when the whole people assembled at the sanctuary ( Exodus 23:17; Exodus 34:23). These were not ordinary sacrifices, but were especially solemn official ones, which the king, as head of the theocracy, offered. The words וְהַקְטֵיר אִתּוֹ אֲשֶׁר לִפְנֵי יְהוָֹה have been very differently understood. Stier translates like5. Meyer, “and he burnt of it what was fitting,” which is wrong, because “that was before Jehovah” never means, what was fitting. Maurer’s interpretation is very far-fetched: et adolebat apud eum (sc. Jova) id, quod coram Jova erat (sc. suffimentum). Ewald renders it: “he burnt incense alone there, where one stands before Jahve, i.e, in the holy place.” But what does burning incense alone mean? Thenius asserts אשר to be a false “insertion,” and translates: he brought with him (i.e, himself) offerings of incense before the Lord (i. e, upon the altar of incense in the sanctuary). אתו is supposed to mean: “ Hebrews, without the mediation of another,” so that “we have here an evidence that Song of Solomon, at least, exercised in person the functions of the high-priest.” But we cannot so easily throw אֲשֶׁר out of the text; and אִתּוֹ never means: he himself in his own person; so that the supposed “evidence” falls to the ground. Finally, Keil translates, because הַקְטֵיר is not prœter. but infinabsol.: “and, indeed, setting fire to (the sacrifice) at the (altar), which was before the Lord;” but הַקְטִיר always means “to burn incense” when it stands as here, without an object; besides, the sentence evidently means more than the immediately preceding one, which speaks of burnt-offerings, in the case of which burning is of course implied. It is certainly true that אֵת here, as well as immediately after in 1 Kings 9:26, and so often elsewhere, means “with, by,” and the suffix וֹ must be referred to the preceding מִזְבֵחַ; but it is incorrect to make the clause “which was before Jehovah,” mean the altar of incense which was so described in Leviticus 16:12; Leviticus 16:18, and thus to conclude that Solomon burnt incense “in the sanctuary.” As 2 Chronicles 26:16 shows, the priests alone might do this, even in later times; the kings were strictly prohibited. If an exception had been made in the case of Song of Solomon, it could not have been noticed only casually and vaguely. That clause by no means exclusively indicates the altar of incense, but, as 1 Kings 8:64 shows, the “brazen altar,” too, and this it is which is meant here. According to Numbers 15:1-12 a meat-offering was offered with every burnt and peace offering; and for the former incense was essential, according to Leviticus 2:1-2, which was wholly burnt ( 1 Kings 9:16). “Incense,” therefore, was not only “offered” on the altar of incense in the sanctuary, but also on the altar of burnt-offering, and קְטֹרֶת in Psalm 141:2 is synonymous with מִנְחָה. This passage, then, says nothing remarkable respecting Song of Solomon, but only that he presented his meat-offering three times a year, as well as his burnt and peace offering. The parallel passage of Chron. therefore does not mention the latter expressly, and only says: “Then Solomon offered burnt-offerings unto the Lord on the altar of the Lord, which he had built before the porch … three times in the year” ( 2 Chronicles 8:12-13). The concluding sentence וְשִׁלַּם אֶת־הַבָּיִת does not mean: “thus the house was finished” (Luther), for this was not done by sacrifice and incense, neither does שִׁלַּם mean finished, but, to make perfect, whole. The house Solomon had built only became all it was designed to be, i.e,לְבֵית זְבַח, a house of sacrifice ( 2 Chronicles 7:12), a central sanctuary, in that he presented now all the offerings on the festivals which were appointed to be celebrated by the whole people ( Leviticus 23:14; Deuteronomy 26:16); cf. 2 Chronicles 8:16. Böttcher: he brought the temple, as God’s house and place of prayer, to its full meaning.

1 Kings 9:26-28. And king Solomon made a navy of ships. This is told here because Solomon received through these ships the large amount of gold which he required, partly for his splendid buildings, and partly to carry on his expensive works. Ezion-geber, a sea-port of Edom, situated on the Elanitic arm of the Arabian gulf, Numbers 33:35; Deuteronomy 2:8. Elath is the modern Akabah on the eastern bay of the same gulf, and was incorporated with the Israelitish kingdom by David, 2 Samuel 8:14. Both cities were of the highest importance in a commercial view (cf. Winer, R-W-B. I, s. 313, 361). The Phœnician sailors were accounted the most skilful, and were known even in distant lands (Winer II, s. 406).

Upon the fleet which sailed from Ezion-geber Chron. gives ( 1 Kings 8:18): “and Hiram sent him by the hands of his servants, ships;” and as there was no way of conveyance by land, nor means of shipping from Africa, this must only mean (as Keil remarks) “that Hiram gave the ships for this voyage (to Ophir), i.e, he ordered his people at Ezion-geber to build them, and sent all the requisite material not forthcoming at that place.” For the situation of Ophir see on 1 Kings 10:22. Instead of420 talents of gold, Chron. gives450; this Isaiah, no doubt, only a change of the ciphers כ (20) and נ (50).

Historical and Ethical

1. This section now before us closes the account of Solomon’s buildings, which account embraces the largest portion of the history of this reign. Never would the narrative have dwelt so long upon them, had all these building-undertakings stood outside of all relation to the theocratic kingdom. None of all the kings of Israel “built” so much as Song of Solomon, who is described for that reason, in the history of Israel, as the king of peace, the peace-prince. His buildings were no pleasure and luxury structures, but were designed to further the greatness, power, and splendor of the kingdom, while at the same time they gave evidence thereof. First he built the house of Jehovah, which formed the heart and centre of the whole theocracy; then the palace, i.e, the house, “which was to shed glory on the second power in Israel, the kingdom which was then reaching its highest summit” (Ewald); then he fortified the house by Millo, and surrounded Jerusalem, the capital, with walls; furthermore he made fortresses and store-cities throughout the whole country, in north, middle, and south Palestine; and, finally, he himself began ship-building, so as to bring his kingdom into communication with rich and distant countries. All this, however, he conducted so as to cause no injury to his own kingdom, but rather so as to bring it to a height of prosperity that it never before or afterwards attained. The time of the שָׁלוֹם and with that of the “building” in its widest sense, came on שְׁלֹמֹה; his building enterprises were the natural result of the stage of development at which the kingdom was; he built to build up the kingdom, thus fulfilling his mission in the history of the theocracy.

2. The appearance with which Solomon was favored after the completion of his many grand edifices, as the text clearly and positively says (see Exegetical upon 1 Kings 9:1 sq.), is expressly placed in relation to and contrasted with that which he had in the beginning of his reign, at Gibeon ( 1 Kings 3:5). The Lord had given him not only what he had asked for, but also riches, dignity, and fame. He had succeeded in all that he had undertaken; not only did he himself stand at the summit of fortune, but his people had never before reached such a great and prosperous state, being blessed with peace and quiet without, and with prosperity and comfort within ( 1 Kings 4:20; 1 Kings 5:4 sq.; 1 Kings 8:66). Then came the second appearing, which contained with the remembrance of the prayer answered at the dedication of the temple, and the promise of blessing in the future, a threatening and warning very wholesome, and even necessary now for Solomon himself, who, though hitherto loyal and faithful to the Lord, was open to the temptation to fall away, as the after-history shows, and whose heart the searcher of hearts knew better than he did himself (cf. 1 Kings 8:39). But it was also needed (the discourse ceases to concern Solomon alone after 1 Kings 9:6) by that everrestless, fickle people which in the enjoyment of the greatest happiness were in danger of forgetting their Lord and God, and of relapsing into the idolatrous worship which was more agreeable to the flesh. Hence it appears, too, that the words in 1 Kings 9:6-9 are the chief part of the divine discourse, and not an addition invented by the author of these books, after the destruction of the temple, as Ewald and Eisenlohr assert.

3. The divine threatening was literally fulfilled. No people in the world ever became such a “proverb.” Singular as it stands in the world-history in its election, it is equally so in its rejection and ruin. It has remained, to the present day, the living witness of the saving love and grace of God on the one hand, and, on the other, of holiness, truth, and retributive justice. By its story it preaches to all nations the eternal truth which the prophet Azariah proclaimed to king Asa: “If ye forsake him, He will forsake you” ( 2 Chronicles 15:2). When, in consequence of their complete departure from God, the temple built by Solomon was destroyed, Israel ceased to be an independent kingdom, and the people were banished; and when, after the second temple was built, they rejected David’s great Song of Solomon, their promised, true, and eternal king, in Whom all nations of the earth were to be blessed, this temple was destroyed never to be rebuilt, and the people were scattered through all the world, ceasing forever to be an independent kingdom and nation, everywhere despised, reviled, and persecuted.

4. The various building-enterprises of Song of Solomon, as well as the arrangements more or less connected with them, were practical evidence that the Lord had given him in unusual measure the wisdom for ruling and skill in affairs which he had implored in the beginning of his reign ( 1 Kings 3:7-9). He knew how to procure the material, in part costly, which was requisite for his buildings, as well also the requisite architects and builders, by a compact (favorable to himself) with his Tyrian neighbor; and repaid him for the quantity of gold he supplied him with without heaping oppressive debts on his people, but by surrendering a district of little value near the Tyrian frontier, and almost altogether inhabited by strangers to Israel. He made use of the descendants of the subjugated Canaanites who were left in the land, to execute those public works which were designed to protect the country and further its material prosperity; thus sparing his own people, who, like every other free people, had no slavish work, but performed only military service. He built a separate palace for his consort, Pharaoh’s daughter, and by this means secured the favor of his powerful neighbors, the Egyptians. That the temple he had built might become and remain the central place of worship, and thus a bond of unity and communion for the entire people, he himself, as head and representative of the theocracy, offered solemn sacrifices on the three great yearly festivals, when all the tribes met. In order not only to meet the expenses of his many and costly buildings, but also to teach commerce to his people, who had hitherto almost entirely lived by agriculture, he managed to engage the sea-faring and skilled Phœnicians to build a common fleet, which opened the way to other seas and lands for them, and was the source of great riches to his own kingdom.

Homiletical and Practical

1 Kings 9:1-9. The second appearance of Jehovah to Solomon: (a) the point of time at which it occurred, 1 Kings 9:1-2 (see Histor. and Ethic); (b) the object which it had, 1 Kings 9:3-9 (Promise and warning).—In the divine address to Solomon the goodness and the severity of God are shown ( Romans 11:22): his goodness in the establishment of His promises ( 1 Kings 9:3-5), his severity in the chastisement of backsliding ( 1 Kings 9:6-9).

1 Kings 9:3, Würt. Summ.: A most powerful thing is a devout, humble, and believing prayer, for thereby man beseeches God to grant him his desire ( John 16:23).—To every house where the name of God is truly honored applies the divine saying: Mine eyes and my heart shall dwell there forever.

1 Kings 9:6-9. Because men endure uninterrupted prosperity with much greater difficulty than they do crosses and afflictions, therefore, when they are at the summit of their wishes, and their hearts’ desire, it is most necessary that the grave importance of God and of eternity should be held up before them, so that they may not fall into security, and forget to work out their own salvation with fear and trembling; for what availeth it a Prayer of Manasseh, &c. ( Matthew 16:26). He who thinketh he standeth, let him take heed lest he fall ( 1 Corinthians 10:12).—The more abundantly God displays his mercy and love towards an individual or towards a nation, so much the more fearful will be the righteous sentence if the riches of His mercy are despised.—In happy and prosperous days forget not that the Lord tells us: Watch and pray, lest ye enter into temptation.—How many men, how many families, how many nations blessed in every respect, have come to a fearful and shameful end! Askest thou: Wherefore is this? the only reply is: Because they have forsaken the Lord their God; for what a man sows that shall he also reap.—Let him who will not recognize a divine justice turn to the twice-destroyed temple of Jerusalem, and to the world-scattered people who have become a by-word amongst all nations.

1 Kings 9:10-14. The demeanor of Solomon and Hiram towards each other (a) Friends and neighbors should be of one mind, and mutually ready to help each other. (b) Let not him who has kindly aided thee with his substance be long awaiting the proofs of thy gratitude, and render to him more rather than less even if he need it not. (c) Regard not so much the gift which thou receivest as the disposition of the giver, remembering always: it is more blessed to give than to receive.—From the heathen Hiram many Christians may learn, even where real cause for dissatisfaction and just claims exist, to state the disproportion between gifts and recompenses with friendly words, and in a kindly manner.—Friends, who through long years have aided each other, must not be estranged, even when one thinks himself injured by the other, but must strive to come to a thorough understanding and agreement.

1 Kings 9:15-23. The plans and arrangements of Solomon for the benefit and protection of the land (a) First he built the house of the Lord, forth from which would come all salvation for Israel; then he built the store-houses for times of need and famine, and as protection against the enemies of the kingdom. A wise prince cares alike for the religious and spiritual, and for the material and temporal well-being of his people, and in times of peace does his utmost to provide against every danger which may assail the land, either from without or within. For this a nation can never be grateful enough, and should uphold him with readiness and might, instead of murmuring and complaining, as is often the case, (b) Solomon’s plan was, in his undertakings to spare his nation all servile labor, as far as possible. Therefore, for all compulsory service he employed the conquered enemy, who, as such, were slaves. A wise prince will never impose burdensome taxes or heavy labor upon his people, and reigns much more willingly over freemen than over slaves; but a good and loyal people does not make freedom a pretext for villany, and ever follows the king’s call for arms when the defence of “Father-land” is concerned. For Israel can no more say with truth—The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer ( Psalm 18:3), if all the nation does not aid in its defences and fortifications.—In the kingdom of the true and eternal prince of peace bondage will cease, and all men shall obtain the freedom of the children of God.

1 Kings 9:25. Solomon sets a good example before all the people; he not only builds the temple, but also frequents it regularly. It is as much the duty of the highest as of the lowest to hear the word of God, to pray, and to celebrate the Sacrament.

1 Kings 9:26 sq. A wise government seeks not only to preserve existing prosperity, but also to discover new sources thereof.—Many there are who travel over land and sea to seek gold, and to become rich, and forget that the Lord hath said: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich ( Revelation 3:18). Expeditions into far countries must serve not only to obtain gold and treasure, but also to carry thither the treasure which neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal ( Matthew 6:19 sq.)—Commerce may become a rich blessing for a nation, but a greedy thirst for gold often leads to extreme luxury and neglect of God, as is many times exemplified in the history of Israel.

Footnotes:

FN#1 - 1 Kings 9:3.—[The Sept. here insert, “I have done to thee according to all thy prayer.”

FN#2 - 1 Kings 9:5.—[Many MSS. replace the preposition עַל by אֶל, and certainly, if the former is the true reading, it is used in the sense of the latter, as is frequently the case, cf. Gesenius, s. v. A4.

FN#3 - 1 Kings 9:6.—[The Heb. is here in the usual intensive form שׁוֹב תְּשֻׁבוּן, which is preserved in all the versions, while the English expression implies the slightest dereliction instead of complete apostasy.

FN#4 - 1 Kings 9:6.—[The Sept. put Moses instead of the personal pronoun as the nominative.

FN#5 - 1 Kings 9:8.—[The words at and which are not in the Heb. The latter is given in the Heb. of 2 Chronicles 7:21, and supplied here by the Chald. All the other versions give house in the nom. and omit the relative. The Syr, followed by the Arab, has “this house shall be destroyed.” Vulg. “shall be for an example.”

FN#6 - 1 Kings 9:9.— [According to the Sept. the time of this vision is determined as after the completion of the palace by the addition to this verse, “Then Solomon brought up the daughter of Pharaoh out of the city of David into his house which he had built for himself in these days.”

FN#7 - 1 Kings 9:13.—[The Sept. say he called them ὅριον—coast, boundary, omitting the name Cabul altogether. They doubtless read גְּבוּל= border for כָּבוּל.

FN#8 - 1 Kings 9:15.—[ 1 Kings 9:15-25 are transposed by the Vat. Sept. from their place here and inserted after 1 Kings 10:22.

FN#9 - In connection with this and with the author’s remarks on this name in the Exeg. Com. the following facts are to be borne in mind: the reading of the k’ri תַּדְמֹר is found in many MSS. instead of the present k’thib תמר and in our printed editions a space is left in the text for the missing ד while the vowel points are those of Tadmor. All the versions, except the Sept, give either Tadmor or its equivalent Palmyra; the Sept. gives according to the Alex. Θερμάθ, which shows that the ד was before them, or according to the Vat. in 1 Kings 10:22 ’Ιεθερμάθ. Keil, who adopts this rendering, explains the words “in the land” (which the author considers an insuperable difficulty) by the remark of Tremellius in regno Salomonis et intra fines a Deo designates, connecting the word with “built” in 1 Kings 9:17. The expression in 2 Chronicles 8:4, is simply “Tadmor in the wilderness;” but the previous verse has recorded his successful attack upon Hamath-zobah, and it is thus implied that Tadmor was in that region.

FN#10 - 1 Kings 9:19.—[Many MSS, followed by the Chald. and Vulg, insert “all.”

FN#11 - 1 Kings 9:21.—[Until all the buildings were finished.

FN#12 - 1 Kings 9:26.—[The Sept, Chald, and Arab, both here and in 1 Kings 9:27, have ship in the singular.

FN#13 - 1 Kings 9:28.—[The Vat, (not Alex.) Sept. reads a hundred and twenty, while 2 Chronicles 8:18 has four hundred and fifty.—F. G.]

 


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Bibliography Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on 1 Kings 9:4". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lcc/1-kings-9.html. 1857-84.

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