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Bible Commentaries

The Pulpit Commentaries
2 Chronicles 8

 

 

Verses 1-18

EXPOSITION

This interesting historical chapter may very well be described as by Professor Dr. James G. Murphy, in his 'Bible-Class Handbook,' "The Acts of Solomon," or at any rate, some of the miscellaneous acts, for which time was found now that the "two houses" were out of hand.

2 Chronicles 8:1

(parallel, 1 Kings 9:10).—Twenty years, wherein Solomon had built the house of the Lord, and his own house. The description is intended to be, what it is, chronologically exact. Four years of Solomon had passed when he began the Lord's house, seven were spent in building it, thirteen in finishing and furnishing it, and in building, finishing, and furnishing the king's house—in all twenty-four years.

2 Chronicles 8:2

The cities which Huram had restored to Solomon. 1 Kings 9:11 explains the force of the word "restored" here, telling how it was Hiram had come by "twenty cities in the land of Galilee" by way of payment, or part payment, for the "cedar," "fir," and "gold" which he had given Solomon. It is evident that these cities were in need of repair; possibly they had not been previously in the occupation of the Israelites; if they had been, the transaction was scarcely legitimate on the part of Solomon (Le 25:12-33), and we may suppose they had become largely deserted when made over to Hiram. It would not, however, be necessary to suppose either that Solomon had given them because they were poor property in his eyes, or that Hiram, whose good will and generous disposition are elsewhere specially notified, had returned them as a thankless gift or as a bad payment, but for the language of 1 Kings 9:12, 1 Kings 9:13 (1 Kings 9:1-28.), which distinctly tells us that when Hiram inspected them they did "not please him," and that he named them "the land of Oabul". The probability is that, as cities on the borderland, they were what had been at present unoccupied by Israelites, were all the likelier in bad repair, and, unvalued by Hiram, were, when put into good repair by Solomon, such that Solomon might justly cause the children of Israel to dwell in them.

2 Chronicles 8:3

Hamath-zobah. Hamath was a place both of great geographical note and of great historical note from the time of the Exodus to that of Amos. The town, or city, is to be understood to be the Great Hamath (Amos 6:2). But the kingdom, or district, or county, was almost conterminous with Coele-Syria. Zobah, also a portion of Syria, amounted to a small kingdom, and is read of alike in Saul's and in David's times, as in Solomon's time. It probably lay to the north-east of Hamath (1 Samuel 14:47; 2 Samuel 8:8, 2 Samuel 8:7, 2 Samuel 8:8, 2 Samuel 8:10; 2 Samuel 10:9, 2 Samuel 10:16, 2 Samuel 10:19; 1 Chronicles 18:4; 1 Chronicles 19:16). But Hamath-zobah of this verse was probably a place called Hamath, in the region of Zobah, in which also two other cities are mentioned, Berothai and Tibhath, or Betah (2 Samuel 8:8; 1 Chronicles 18:8). These two kingdoms of Hamath and Zobah, contiguous as they were, seem as though they purposed to compliment one another—Zobah by naming one of its towns Hamath, and vice versa It is said that the Assyrian inscriptions show that they remained, after Solomon, distinct kingdoms.

2 Chronicles 8:4

Tadmor in the wilderness. Tadmor, one with the classical Palmyra, lay in the desert of Syria, about half-way between the rivers Orontes and Euphrates, and distant from Damascus about a hundred and forty miles to its east-north-east. Stanley says, "Is it quite certain that 'Tadmor' and 'Palmyra' are words derived from the (palms)? A palm is in Hebrew tamar … and in Greek … phoenix." Solomon was probably not the originator, but rather re-builder, of the place. Its fame was great under Zenobia, the Queen of Odenathus; she was taken captive by the Emperor Aurelian, a.d. 273, when the city was subdued. It is now little better than the haunt of a few Arabs Splendid ruins remain, specially of the great temple of the sun. The Hebrew text of 1 Kings 9:18 has apparently Tamer, or Tamar, and it has been suggested by Movers on that passage that possibly a Tamar in the south, and that is found in the neighbourhood of some of the other places, such as Baalath, Beth-heron, and Gezer, all in the south (Ezekiel 47:19; Ezekiel 48:28; Ezekiel 20:2), is intended. Our text, however, in the present place offers no choice, while that in Kings (compare Chethiv and Keri) is doubtful. And finally, our writer is here evidently in the neighbourhood of Hamath, which of course best suits Tadmor. Although there is an apparent disjointedness between this and the parallel, closer notice may rather bring confirmation of substantial agreement between them. For instance, the store cities here spoken of as belonging to Hamath (but not individually named here and not corresponding with those that are named in Kings) are accounted for by the words, "and in Lebanon," in 1 Kings 9:19.

2 Chronicles 8:5

Beth-heron the upper … Beth-heron the nether. The parallel mentions only the latter (1 Kings 9:17). They were both in Ephraim (1 Chronicles 7:24; Joshua 10:10, Joshua 10:11; Joshua 16:1-6; Joshua 18:13, Joshua 18:14), but were assigned to the Kohathite Levites (Joshua 21:22; 1 Chronicles 6:68). The name means "the hollow place." The upper Beth-heron was about four miles from Gibeon, and the lower about three miles further on. The Roman general Cestius Gallus was defeated here in the last Jewish war; Judas Maccabaeus conquered here (1 Maccabees 3:18-25). Other interesting references may be made to 1 Samuel 13:18; 1 Kings 9:7; 2 Chronicles 25:18.

2 Chronicles 8:6

Baalath (parallel 1 Kings 9:18). This place belonged to Dan (Joshua 19:40-45). Nothing is known about it; some take it to be one with Baalah of Joshua 15:9, Joshua 15:10. Store cities … chariot cities … cities of the horsemen (see 2 Chronicles 16:4; 2 Chronicles 32:28; 1 Kings 4:26; 1 Kings 9:19). In the parallel some of the names of the places built, or rebuilt, or repaired by Solomon in this connection are given as "Mille and the wall of Jerusalem" (Millo's foundations occupied the hollow at the south-west corner of the hill of the temple), "and Hazer and Megiddo and Gezer" (1 Kings 9:15). All that Solomen desired to build; i.e. for purposes of personal enjoyment or ornament.

2 Chronicles 8:7-10

These verses, corresponding very nearly exactly with the parallel (1 Kings 9:20-23), betray how it was a thing never to be forgotten, if only as a fact, that the extermination of the old possessors of the land had not been entire; so that allusion to it is not omitted even by a post-Captivity compiler. The parallel charitably "whom the children of Israel were not able to destroy utterly," where our text shows with exacter fidelity, whom the children of Israel consumed not. The parallel also uses the words, "levy a tribute of bond-service," for our more ambiguous make to pay tribute ( 3:1-7). In the words, until this day, the copyist, shall we say, too slavish, is again detected (2 Chronicles 8:9). The "levy "in verse 21 of the parallel probably explains the suddenly mentioned similar language of its fifteenth verse, and again betrays the collected and copied nature of the historic material, the carefulness of sequence not being as observable in selection as might be desired. The distinction between the remnant of aliens and the people of Israel was manifestly that the menial and the laborious service was put on the former. Useful but familiar references to this whole subject are found in 1:21-36; 3:1-5; 1 Chronicles 22:2; 1 Kings 5:13-18. For our two hundred and fifty (which gives the number of overseers over Israelites only) the parallel reads, "five hundred and fifty." It will be remembered that an analogous difference occurs between our 2 Chronicles 2:18 and 1 Kings 5:16. Whether it were the determining reason or not in these two places, it is very imaginable that it would be of less importance in the ages of the post-Captivity annalist to dwell on the minutiae of the different treatment of the aliens.

2 Chronicles 8:11

(parallel, 1 Kings 9:24).—As the writer of Chronicles has not before alluded to the marriage and the circumstances of it involved in this verse, his account and assignment of Solomon's motive for the removal of his wife, Pharaoh's daughter, is given something more specifically (see 1 Kings 3:1; 1 Kings 7:8). The valley of Tyropeum lay between the temple on the eastern hill and Solomon's palace, which was on the western side of it. The name of this wife was probably Psusennes, last of the twenty-first dynasty.

2 Chronicles 8:12, 2 Chronicles 8:13

Parallel in compressed form 1 Kings 9:25. After a certain rate every day; Hebrew, וּבִדְבַר־יוֹם; the probable meaning is, according to the fixed appointment of day after day (Exodus 23:14; Exodus 29:23, Exodus 29:38; Numbers 28:3; Deuteronomy 16:16).

2 Chronicles 8:14

The courses of the priests … the Levites to their charges … the porters also by their courses at every gate. (For the particulars of this verse, see, with the exposition to them, 1 Chronicles 24:1 -35; 1 Chronicles 25:1-7; 1 Chronicles 26:1-32.; 1 Chronicles 9:17-28.) David the man of God. This title occurs only once in 1 Chronicles 23:14, where it is used of Moses; and six times in 2 Chronicles, viz. here to David; 2 Chronicles 11:2, to Shemaiah; three times, 2 Chronicles 25:7, 2 Chronicles 25:9, to an unnamed prophet; and once again to Moses, 2 Chronicles 30:16; the expression occurs much more frequently in Kings.

2 Chronicles 8:15

Considering the last clause of the previous verse, the king probably designs David, not Solomon. The commandment … concerning the treasures. (See, with the exposition, 1 Chronicles 26:20-32. Comp. also our 2 Chronicles 35:3-5.)

2 Chronicles 8:16

Was prepared. This is the niph. of כּוּן; and occurs eight times in Chronicles, but in other conjugations forty-two times. The evident signification is, Thus was all the work of Solomon steadily ordered to the day of foundation of the house and on uninterruptedly till it was finished; i.e. there was no remitting of diligence and care from the beginning to the end of the grand undertaking. For of this the Chronicle-history has told us, first in 2 Chronicles 2:1-18; and then in ch. 3-8.

2 Chronicles 8:17

Ezion-geber … Eloth. Parallel, 1 Kings 9:26, which describes the former of these ports as "beside" the latter, "on the Red Sea," i.e. at the extremity of the eastern gulf of the Red Sea, called the Elanitic Gulf by Greeks and Romans, but now the Gulf of Akabah (Numbers 33:35-37; Deuteronomy 2:8; 2 Samuel 8:14; 1 Kings 22:48; 2 Kings 14:22; 2 Kings 16:6; 2 Chronicles 20:36, 2 Chronicles 20:37). David's conquest of Edom was the occasion of its coming into the possession of Israel.

2 Chronicles 8:18

The first impression created on reading this verse no doubt would he that Hiram sent ships to Solomon, at Ezion-geber and Eloth. But it is almost impossible to see how he could do so. The parallel much helps us, by saying that "Solomon made a navy," and Hiram assisted. by manning it with competent sailors; he "sent in the navy his servants," etc. (1 Kings 9:26, 1 Kings 9:27). Some have suggested that the explanation is that Hiram gave materials, workmen, and models for Solomon's ships, possibly having ships lying in the Red Sea. The parallel, however, meets all difficulties, and saves the necessity of going far for farfetched explanations. Ophir. This was the name of the son of Joktan (Genesis 10:25-29), who, it is supposed, gave his name to the place or land in the south of Arabia. It is still quite an unsettled question, however, where Ophir was situated, though an Arabian situation is on every account the most probable (see Exposition 1 Chronicles 29:4; and Dr. Smith's 'Bible Dictionary,' 2:637-642). Our four hundred and fifty talents of gold reads in the parallel (1 Kings 9:28) as "four hundred and twenty."

HOMILETICS

2 Chronicles 8:1-18

The formative influence of the Church.

In the exceeding abundance of suggestion of homiletic matter that characterizes Scripture, and even its historic books, there is naturally so much the less temptation to strain its sacred contents (which at all times serve their own purposes) by laying them under forced contributions to this particular service. It may be, therefore, perhaps best to say at once that this chapter does not proffer anything specially suitable for homiletics proper. None the less is it true that the chapter does exhibit certain points which look this way, and worthy of notice—as, e.g; once the central religious institution of the Church and nation has found its settled place and established form, many other things seem even predisposed to seek and to find their settlement too, their order, and their abiding strength. The building of cities regained or restored, and the rebuilding, repair, and fortification of others—store cities and chariot cities and horsemen's cities (2 Chronicles 8:1-6, the language of the last of these verses reading, it will be noticed, specially emphatically); the assigning of the payment of tribute to the descendants of the original inhabitants (who, contrary to Divine direction, had not been thoroughly outrooted from the land) whose privileges there, as resident in and amid Israel, were cheaply bought by that tribute; the assigning of independence and posts of authority to others, of the people and officers of Israel itself (2 Chronicles 8:7-10); the apparently growing spiritual perception of Solomon, in what might presumably be regarded as a somewhat critical step, the removing of his wife, Pharaoh's daughter, from an abode that was "sacred," to one that was a palace indeed of palaces, but not sacred (2 Chronicles 8:11); the full observance and reviving from Moses' time and standpoint of all religious ritual and ceremony (but supremely of all which concerned the altar) for daily service and sacrifice, and sabbath and new moon service and sacrifice, and for those of the triple solemn feasts, to wit, of Unleavened Bread, of Weeks, and of Tabernacles, with the necessary courses of priests, Levites, musicians, and porters;—all this came of the "perfecting of the house of the Lord" (2 Chronicles 8:12-16), as though it were actually complementary to it. Does it not read, when all taken together, for the unsophisticated and devout mind, like some forecast of these two things, which we now, in the modern Church, so often say or hear said:

1. That the welfare of the diocese follows its bishop and its cathedral service, taking its tone and deriving no little of its health from them? This is abundantly conspicuous in the history of a newly carved out diocese.

2. And that, one thousand to fifteen hundred years ago, the formative influence of the Church over the nation was indisputable; that the Church made the nation far more than the nation the Church, conspicuously lending to it, nay, giving to it a strength of foundation, variety of elements, and those in especial that make for durableness? Nineteen centuries ago a theocracy, which may with most reverent intention be called comparatively mechanical, passed away. Let us hope, pray, and work that the centuries from then to the present hour may be but superseding it, with that founded on the new and better covenant.

HOMILIES BY W. CLARKSON

2 Chronicles 8:1-6

Wise work.

David had done excellent work for his country by uniting all the tribes of Israel in a strong band of attachment to himself, and thus to one another; also in defeating and subjecting the neighbouring powers, and thus giving peace and tranquillity to the nation. Solomon, coming after him, seconded and sustained him, not by acting on the same lines, but by "a new departure." We very often show the truest regard to those who have been before us by illustrating their spirit in a very different method from that which they adopted. Solomon, like the wise man he was, set about building. He "built the house of the Lord and his own house" (2 Chronicles 8:1), taking time and building well. He then built cities, which were either strongholds or emporiums, serving useful purposes in war or in peace. He seems to have accomplished much by so doing.

I. WHAT SOLOMON ACHIEVED BY BUILDING.

1. He increased the security of his dominions. Those "fenced cities, with walls, gates, and bars," must have added considerably to the defensive power of Israel.

2. He took effectual means for the enrichment of the country. The "store cities ' would do much to promote communication and trade with other states, would increase his imports and exports.

3. He immortalized himself. He caused his name to be associated with many places that for long centuries remembered him as their founder, and with one city (Tadmar) that will never be forgotten.

4. He made a deep mark on the future. Some of these cities have absolutely perished; the ruins of one of them still remain. It is impossible to say how much his enterprise had to do, but it certainly had much, with the brilliance, the power, and the political and moral influence of Palmyra. The effects of this building went far beyond the satisfaction of the desire of his heart (2 Chronicles 8:6); they reached to remote centuries, and told upon people that were afar off.

II. WHAT IS OPEN TO US TO ACCOMPLISH.

1. The structure it is possible we may raise. This may be a house in the sense of a family (see 2 Samuel 7:11); or it may be a house in the sense of a business establishment; or it may be a church, wherein God shall be worshipped and his Son exalted for many generations; or it may be a society which shall receive dud sustain many hundreds of human hearts. One thing there is we may all he building, and are indeed all bound to build with utmost care—a human character; a character which shall be fair in its proportions, rich in its equipments, and strong in its defence against all assault.

2. The moral and spiritual materials with which, or of which, we should build. These are uprightness, truth, patience, courage, persistency.

3. The spirit in which we should work. This is the spirit of obedience, of resignation, of devotedness; so that we are not seeking our own personal aggrandizement, hut the honour of our Divine Lord.—C.

2 Chronicles 8:11

Doubtful marriage alliance.

There was more astuteness than wisdom in the alliance which Solomon effected between the daughter of Pharaoh and himself. It is probable that he congratulated himself greatly thereupon, and that at first it was a source of much gladness of heart to him. But the end did not justify his hope. The political alliance with Egypt, which it was intended to confirm, was very soon broken; in the very next reign the king of that country came up against Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 12:9). And though the daughter of Pharaoh may herself have conformed, in part if not altogether, to the religion of Jehovah, it may be taken for granted that many of her retinue did not; that they brought up from Egypt idolatrous rites, superstitious practices, immoral usages. We gather from the text that Solomon himself felt that there was an unsuitableness and even an impropriety in having such a court in the rooms where David had prayed and sung, beneath the roof under which the ark of God had rested. If he felt thus, we may be sure that there was not a little about the new queen's ways and those of her attendants to scandalize the simple faith and conscientious scruples of the people. And this was the beginning of that departure from the simplicity and purity of Hebrew faith and morals which ended in corruption and disaster (1 Kings 11:31). This matrimonial alliance was not a fine piece of policy; it was a distinct mistake. Perhaps the king may have begun to think so when he found that, instead of gracing his father's home, his new wife could not take her place there without profaning it. In such alliances as these it is well to remember—

I. THAT APPARENT ADVANTAGES MAY EASILY BE OVERESTIMATED. To the one side or the other, to the husband or the wife, there may be the prospect of social standing, or of wealth, or of personal attraction; there may be the inducement of one or more of those favourable conditions which belong to the lower plane of life. But experience has proved again and again, in so many cases and with such startling and overwhelming power that all may see and know, that these worldly advantages are no security whatever against disappointment, against misery, against melancholy failure. Their worth and virtue only stretch a little way; they do not go to the heart of things; they only touch the outer fortifications, they cannot take the citadel.

II. THAT COMMON PRINCIPLES AND SPIRITUAL AFFINITIES are the true basis on which this alliance should be founded. It is a poor prospect indeed when the wife is felt to be morally unworthy to be mistress of the old home; when it has to be acknowledged that her principles and her practice will dishonour rather than adorn the rooms where the Bible has been accustomed to be read and the praises of Christ to be sung. Surely it is not from fellowship with her spirit and not from the influences which will flow from her life that a blessing will come to the heart and to the home. It is not the full hand but the pure soul that brings joy and gladness to the hearth. It is a common love for the common Lord, and the walking together along the same path of eternal life,—it is this which has the promise of the future. The splendid palace which Solomon built for Pharaoh's daughter may have been little more than a fine mausoleum for a hope that soon withered and died; the humblest roof that shelters two true, loving, holy hearts will be the home of a happiness which grows and deepens with passing years, with mutual service, and with united efforts to train and bless.—C.

2 Chronicles 8:12-16

Perfecting the sanctuary.

It was indeed a great thing to be able to write that "the house of the Lord was perfected" (2 Chronicles 8:16). Much had to be done, however, before that could be written. It was necessary—

I. THAT THE MATERIAL SHOULD SUBSERVE THE SPIRITUAL. Though the last stone had been carved and carried, and the last piece of furniture placed in its position, though the temple stood and shone before the eyes of Israel in all architectural completeness, yet was it not truly "finished" (2 Chronicles 8:16) until it was made a right use of, until sacrifice smoked on its altar, until "Solomon offered burnt offerings unto the Lord" (2 Chronicles 8:12). No edifice or erection of any kind, no work of art, nothing that is visible and material, can be said to have attained its end as an instrument of worship until it has been the means and medium by which the soul of man ascends to the Spirit of God and makes its offering "unto the Lord." Until that point is reached, it is as the sacrifice without the consuming fire; it is essentially imperfect. It is the wise, the true, the spiritual use we make of them that crowns and completes all instrumentalities in the service of God.

II. THAT METHOD BE EMPLOYED AS WELL AS INSPIRATION CALLED FORTH. "After a certain rate every day, according to the commandment" (2 Chronicles 8:13); "according to the order" (2 Chronicles 8:14). It is well, it is needful, to do everything to elicit zeal, to call forth spontaneous service; without this there is no life, and therefore no acceptance with Clod. But there must be method also. That Christian Church (or that Christian man) that thinks it (he) can dispense with regulation and order in its (his)devotion makes a serious mistake. The waters of a river are more essential than the banks; but the river would do very ill without these—it would soon be lost in diffusion. Piety that is not regulated is liable to be thus lost. Method is far lower down than inspiration, but it is an aid which the strongest and the worthiest can by no means afford to despise or to neglect.

III. THAT ATTENTION BE GIVEN TO THE HUMBLE AND MINUTE. Prevision was made for "the courses of the priests;" but the "porters also" were considered and cared for (2 Chronicles 8:14). These humbler ministrants had a part to play, a service to render, as well as the higher officials, and their work was specified and recorded. And all arrangements were made "as the duty of every day required;" regard was had to hourly necessity, and no smallest service was overlooked. In the worship we render and in the work we do for so great a Lord as our God, for so gracious a Master as our Divine Friend and Saviour, there is nothing actually small. One post may be lower than another, one duty may be slighter than another; but everything we do for him "that loved us and gave himself for us" is redeemed from insignificance; and if we have the true spirit in us we shall leave nothing of any kind undone which will make the smallest contribution to the perfecting of his service; we shall give heed to the humble and the minute as well as to the lofty and the large.

IV. THAT OFFERING BE PRESENTED TO GOD AS WELL AS BLESSINGS ASKED OF HIM. The priests and the Levites were to "praise" as well as to "minister" (2 Chronicles 8:14). They were to sing as well as to sacrifice to offer gratitude to God as well as to seek mercy and grace of him. And surely the service of the sanctuary will by no means be perfected until we bring to God the best we have to offer. We seek greatest things of him, let us bring greatest things to him; let us bring to his house and to himself our most reverent thought, our warmest gratitude, our meat serious and fixed resolution, our sweetest and purest song. Unto him that loved us we will yield the richest and worthiest offering our heart can render, our voice can raise.—C.

HOMILIES BY T. WHITELAW

2 Chronicles 8:1-6

Solomon's building operations.

I. PALACE-BUILDING. Like Seti I Rameses II; and other Pharaohs (Brugsch, 'Egypt,' etc; 2 Chronicles 2:14), like Uruk, Kham-murabi, and other early Chaldean kings ('Records of the Past,' 1.8; 3.9), like ancient Oriental monarchs generally, Solomon was a great builder. The first twenty years of his reign were occupied in erecting "palaces," or royal residences.

1. A house for Jehovah, the King of kings, i.e. the temple on Moriah, which required seven years for erection (1 Kings 6:37, 88). In according precedence to the temple, Solomon acted both becomingly and rightly. In all undertakings, national, political, social, commercial, as well as individual and religious, not only should God's glory be the governing aim (1 Corinthians 10:31). but God's claims should receive the earliest recognition. God first and self second (not vice versa) is the true order, whatever the business in which man engages. "Honour the Lord with the firstfruits of thine increase" (Proverbs 3:9); "Seek first the kingdom of God and-his righteousness" (Matthew 6:33). A recently published memoir furnishes the following illustration: "'Before we began business.' writes a Christian merchant of his deceased partner, 'we had naturally to arrange articles of partnership. I remember with what earnestness he proposed that we should set aside a certain percentage of our profits for religious and benevolent purposes before any division was made among the partners. His wish was cordially assented to, but the generous purpose originated with him".

2. A house for himself, Solomon, the King of Israel, the vicegerent and representative of Jehovah in the midst of the theocratic nation (1 Kings 7:1, 1 Kings 7:2). Though kings as well as other men may be sinfully prodigal in personal expenditure, in the mansions they dwell in, the luxury they revel in, and the pageantry they appear in, it is nevertheless not demanded by religion either that all should stand upon a level of equality in respect of" manner of life," or that any should practise asceticism. Each station in society has a corresponding "fitness of living," which Christianity allows, and prudence should attempt to discover and maintain. If beggars cannot live in palaces, kings are not expected to dwell in hovels.

3. A house for the daughter of Pharaoh, whom Solomon had espoused in the beginning of his reign (1 Kings 7:8), and had hitherto lodged in the city of David (1 Kings 3:1) until a permanent abode for her should be erected. This Pharaoh is supposed to have been Pashebensba II; the last of the Tanitic or twenty-first dynasty (Lenormant, Winer, Kleinert in Riehm's 'Handworterbuch'), though a claim has been advanced for an earlier potentate of that line, either Pashebensha I. or Pinetem II.. That he should have given his daughter to Solomon is not surprising when the weakness of the Tanitic dynasty is remembered, and receives confirmation from the fact that an earlier Pharaoh married his daughter Bithia to an ordinary Israelite (1 Chronicles 4:18). As a dowry for his daughter, Gezer (Joshua 12:22), an old Canaanitish town whose king, Horam, was slain by Joshua (Joshua 10:33), without being itself destroyed, and whose inhabitants were not expelled, but only made tributary (Joshua 16:10), was conquered by the Egyptian monarch and presented to Solomon. Sargon (of Assyria) tells us in one of his inscriptions that, having conquered the country of Cilicia with some difficulty, on account of its great natural strength, he made it over to Ambris, King of Tubal, who had married one of his daughters, as the princess's dowry.. On first marrying the princess, Solomon lodged her in a separate house in the city of David, until this residence was ready for her reception in connection with his own palace (see homily on verse 11).

II. CITY-BUILDING. The subsequent years of Solomon's reign were so employed.

1. Old cities repaired. (Verse 2.) In the north-west of Galilee, not far from Tyre. Either they were those Solomon offered to Hiram in payment for the building material, timber and gold, received from him (1 Kings 9:10-14), and Hiram declined to accept (Keil), as either an insufficient recompense, being in his estimation mean and contemptible, whence he called them Cabul (Josephus, 8.5. 3), or as being unsuitable to the commercial habits of his subjects (Jamieson); or they were towns Hiram gave to Solomon in exchange for those he had obtained from Solomon (Jewish interpreters). That the Chronicler has transformed the statement in Kings, because it seemed to him inconceivable that Solomon should have parted with twenty cities standing on Israelitish soil (Bertheau), while a possible hypothesis, is not demonstrable. These towns Solomon, having first wrested them from the Canaanites, repaired and peopled with the children of Israel, to whom, in virtue of God's promise, they really belonged.

2. New cities founded.

3. Existing cities fortified.

4. Store cities, etc; erected.

Learn:

1. Kings should be patterns to their subjects of religion and industry.

2. It is legitimate for princes to look well to the safety of their dominions.

3. The best defences for kingdoms are not muniments, but men.—W.

2 Chronicles 8:7-10

The subjects of Solomon.

I. NON-ISRAELITES.

1. Their nationalities. Descendants of five of the seven nations in the promised laud anterior to the conquest, remnants of which were left instead of being utterly consumed as enjoined by Moses (Deuteronomy 7:1).

2. Their condition. Practically bond-servants, paying tribute to Solomon, they had no part in the civil commonwealth or religious theocracy of Israel. They illustrate the relation in which the world's inhabitants stand to the Church. Those have no share in this; yet to this, against their will, they pay tribute and render important service—compelled, not by Christians, but by the King of Christians, who maketh all things on earth subserve the Church according to the counsel of his will (Ephesians 1:11, Ephesians 1:22; Daniel 7:14).

3. Their occupation. The working-class population of those days, the artisans and labourers, Solomon employed them in the construction of his temple, palaces, and cities, just as the Pharaohs of former times had employed the progenitors of his people in making bricks and erecting store cities in the land of Ham (Exodus 1:11). It was the custom then and long after to subject prisoners of war and the populations of conquered territories to servile work. Thothmes III. of Egypt carried labourers captive to build the temple of his father Amon. The employment of foreign captives in such tasks was an ancient practice in Egypt (Brugsch, 'Egypt,' etc; 1.417). An inscription of Esarhaddon states that the custom prevailed in Assyria, he himself saying of his captives from foreign lands, "I caused crowds of them to work in fetters in making brick" ('Records of the Past,' 3.120). Not even Solomon, and far less the Pharaohs of Egypt or the kings of Assyria, were acquainted with the golden rule.

II. ISRAELITES.

1. Their ancestry. Descendants of the twelve tribes, whose heads were the sons of Israel, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham, their ancestry was honoured as well as ancient.

2. Their industry. The warriors of the kingdom, they did the fighting needful for the empire's protection and extension. Judged by the Christian standard, war is always an evil and often a sin; but in certain stages of civilization it appears to be inevitable, if neither necessary nor excusable.

3. Their dignity. From them were chosen the officers of the king's army, the captains of his chariots and of his horsemen, the chiefs of his officers, and the superintendents of his workmen (1 Kings 9:22).

LESSONS.

1. The sin of slavery.

2. The dignity of labour.

3. The nobility of free men.—W.

2 Chronicles 8:11

The consort of a king.

I. THE QUEEN'S PERSON. The daughter of Pharaoh. As to which Pharaoh, see homily on 2 Chronicles 8:1-6. If the Song of Solomon was an epithalamium in honour of his wedding with this lady, her personal attractions, after making allowances for the rhapsody peculiar to a lover and the luxuriance of fancy characteristic of an Oriental, must have been considerable (So Song of Solomon 1:8, Song of Solomon 1:10; Song of Solomon 4:1-7; Song of Solomon 7:1-9).

II. THE QUEEN'S CHARACTER. A heathen. However charming externally, there is no reason why her inward graces may not have been attractive. Like Egyptian ladies of rank, she would probably be skilled in needlework, perhaps also in using the spindle and in weaving. But still she was not acquainted with the true religion, being a worshipper of the god Ra, and the other divinities that claimed the homage of her countrymen, rather than of Jehovah living and true God. Physical loveliness may be a precious gift of Heaven, and moral sweetness desirable in one who is to be a wife; but nothing can compensate for the absence of religion. "Favour is deceitful," etc. (Proverbs 31:30).

III. THE QUEEN'S WEDDING.

1. Celebrated early in the king's reign (1 Kings 3:1), and doubtless with becoming splendour. It is not good for princes any more than for peasants to be alone, and "he that findeth a wife" (provided she be a woman that feareth the Lord) "findeth a good thing" (Proverbs 18:22).

2. Politically advantageous for the state, though this is questionable. Israel required no buttress, either from Egypt or Assyria, so long as she remained true to Jehovah (Isaiah 30:3; Jeremiah 2:18; Jeremiah 42:19). In any case, neither political expedience nor social convenience is a proper motive for contracting marriage, which should always be inspired by love between the parties (Ephesians 5:25-28).

3. Possibly against the Law of God. On the one hand, it is argued (Keil, Bahr)

On the other hand, it is contended (Adam Clarke)

The affirmative, however, of this last assertion is supposed to be justified by the following considerations:

But none of these is convincing.

4. Extremely unadvised on Solomon's part, It led to his decline into idolatry, if not directly yet indirectly, by leading him to add more wives and concubines to his harem.

IV. THE QUEEN'S RESIDENCE,

1. In a separate house in the city of David. On her wedding, Solomon did not bring her into his father's palace where himself resided—though some hold he did (Bertheau)—but lodged her in a temporary dwelling (Keil, Bahr), assigning as a reason that the rooms of the royal palace had been consecrated and rendered holy by the presence of the ark of Jehovah, and meaning thereby that to have introduced into them an Egyptian queen, even though a proselyte, with probably an establishment of heathen maids, would have been, to say the least, an impropriety. The fact that Solomon could not lodge his wife in his father's house should have made him hesitate as to his marriage. That matrimonial alliance must be doubtful the contemplation of which leads one to apprehend the Divine displeasure, or which one sees to be incongruous with right religious feeling.

2. In a house contiguous to Solomon's palace. This house, specially prepared for her, not for a harem (Thenius), formed part of Solomon's own dwelling (1 Kings 7:8), being situated either behind (Winer) or above (Keil), or perhaps at the side of it.

LESSONS.

1. Marriage is honourable in all (Hebrews 13:4).

2. The duty of wedding only in the Lord (1 Corinthians 7:39).

3. The sin of polygamy.

4. The obligation of husbands to maintain their wives.—W.

2 Chronicles 8:12-16

The house of the Lord perfected.

I. THE SACRIFICES ARRANGED. (2 Chronicles 8:12, 2 Chronicles 8:13.)

1. The place on which these should henceforth be offered. "The altar of Jehovah before the porch." Hitherto Solomon and others ,had presented burnt offerings before the tabernacle at Gibeon (2 Chronicles 1:3) and elsewhere (2 Samuel 6:13). Henceforth these should be laid upon the brazen altar in the temple court. Solomon's doing so at the close of the dedication service was a formal inauguration of the practice meant to be followed.

2. The times when these should be offered.

3. The measure according to which these should be offered. According to the daily rate prescribed by Moses (Exodus 23:14; Le 23:37; Deuteronomy 16:16, Deuteronomy 16:17). Though Solomon had been honoured to erect a temple, he did not feel himself at liberty to propound a new ritual, and far less to institute a new religion. For him, as for all before and after, until the fulness of the times, Moses was the sole authority in doctrine and in worship. Since the fulness of the times, Christ, the greater than Moses, is; and will-worship (Colossians 2:23) is as little permissible under the new dispensation as it was under the old.

II. THE PRIESTLY COURSES APPOINTED. (2 Chronicles 8:14.)

1. The pattern followed. The order of David (1 Chronicles 24:1-31.). Whether, in thus arranging the priesthood, David acted under Divine direction or not, is not material. This detail could safely be left to sanctified prudence; and David, in effecting it, only showed his sagacity in knowing how to get a difficult work performed with ease and efficiency, as well as his regard for order and decorum in all things pertaining to the sanctuary. Solomon, in following David's example instead of resorting to new experiments, approved himself wise.

2. The number of the courses. Twenty-four (1 Chronicles 24:1-19). When these were arranged by David, twenty-four chief men were found who claimed descent from the house of Aaron. Of these, sixteen belonged to the sons of Eleazar, and eight to the sons of Ithamar. Consequently, these were selected as the heads of the several courses, their order of succession being determined by lot—to avoid all ground of complaint on the score of favouritism, and to lend the sanction of Divine authority to the order so established (Proverbs 16:33). As this arrangement was made in David's old age, and not after the Exile by another than David (De Wette, Herzfeld), it is probable that few important alterations required to be made.

3. The nature of their services. To conduct the sacrificial worship of the nation. The Christian Church has only one Priest, who, having once for all offered himself a Sacrifice for sin, and having passed within the veil with his own blood, there to appear in the presence of God for us, has been consecrated for evermore (Hebrews 7:28; Hebrews 9:11, Hebrews 9:12; Hebrews 10:10).

III. THE LEVITES INSTRUCTED. (2 Chronicles 8:14.)

1. Their courses. Three—the Gershonites, the Kohathites, the Merarites, according to the three great families of the sons of Levi; the first two consisting of nine, and the third of six, the three of twenty-four fathers' houses. Hence their courses were probably, like those of the priests', twenty-four in number (Josephus, 'Ant.,' 7.14. 7).

2. Their charges. To praise and minister before the priests, as the duty of every day required. They were no longer needed to carry the tabernacle or any of its vessels for the service thereof, seeing that Jehovah had given rest unto his people, that they might dwell in Jerusalem for ever (1 Chronicles 23:24-32; 1 Chronicles 25:1-6).

IV. THE PORTERS STATIONED. (2 Chronicles 8:14.)

1. Their courses. Twenty-four. At least twenty-four men are mentioned as keeping daily guard at the temple gates (1 Chronicles 26:13-19); and these, it is conjectured, were the heads of twenty-four divisions.

2. Their stations. "At every gate." Every day were planted at the east gate six men; at the north, four; at the south, four; at the storehouses in the vicinity of the south gate, two and two, i.e. four; at Parbar towards the west, six; in all, twenty-four at the different gates (1 Chronicles 26:17, 1 Chronicles 26:18).

3. Their work. To keep the gates—esteemed an honourable service, and called ministering in the house of the Lord (1 Chronicles 26:12; cf. Psalms 84:10).

LESSONS.

1. The necessity and beauty of order in Divine worship.

2. The diversity of offices and gifts in the Church of God.

3. The dignity of even the humblest service in connection with religion.—W.

2 Chronicles 8:17, 2 Chronicles 8:18

The first merchant-ships.

I. To WHOM THEY BELONGED.

1. Solomon—who constructed a navy of ships (1 Kings 9:26). The first mention of ship-building by the Israelites. An advance in civilization, it is doubtful whether this was in harmony with the calling of the Israelites as a theocratic people, whose business it was to keep themselves distinct from other nations.

2. Hiram—who sent the Israelitish monarch ships by the hands of his servants. Either Hiram sent to Eloth ship-carpenters, who built ships for Solomon (Bahr), or he built ships at Tyre, and sent them by the hands of sailors to join in Solomon's expedition (Bertheau). If the latter, they must either have rounded the continent of Africa (Bertheau), or been carried by land transport across the Isthmus of Suez (Keil). The former would not have been impossible had the circumnavigation of Africa been at that time known. This, however, is doubtful, as Herodotus (4:42) mentions Pharaoh Necho of the twenty-sixth dynasty as the first to prove that Africa was entirely surrounded by water, with the exception of the small isthmus connecting it with Asia. This he did by sending Phoenician seamen in ships from the Arabian Gulf to seek their way to Egypt through the Pillars of Hercules and the Mediterranean Sea. Hence the latter method was more probably adopted for conveying Hiram's ships to the Gulf of Arabia—a method of transporting vessels known to the ancients. Herodotus (vii. 24) states that, while Xerxes cut a passage through the Isthmus of Mount Athos, he need not have done so, since without difficulty he might have carried his ships across the land. Thucydides (2 Chronicles 4:8) mentions that in this way the Peloponnesians conveyed eighty ships across the Leucadia-isthmus. (For additional examples, see Exposition.)

II. THE PORT WHENCE THEY SAILED.

1. Ezion-geber, a camping-station on the desert march of Israel (Numbers 33:35; Deuteronomy 2:8); afterwards the place where Jehoshaphat's ships were wrecked (1 Kings 22:48). When the town was built is unknown. Its name imports "the backbone of a man" (Gesenius); the Greeks called it Berenice (Josephus, 'Ant.,' 8.6. 4).

2. Near Eloth, the Ailane of Josephus, the Ailath of the Greeks, and the Elana of the Romans, the modern Akaba, on the eastern bay of the Gulf of Akabah. Whether Ezion-geber was also on the east side of the gulf or on the west is uncertain, as no trace of it now exists.

3. On the shore of the Red Sea. The Yam Suf was the eastern arm of the Arabian Gulf, or the Gulf of Akabah. At the present day navigation is perilous in the vicinity of Elath in consequence of the sharp and rocky coast and the easily excited storms.

4. In the land of Edom. Mount Seir, Edom, Idumaea, the Mount of Esau (Deuteronomy 2:5; Joel 3:19; Isaiah 24:5; Obadiah 1:21); in the Assyrian inscriptions, Udumu or Udumi; a desolate region extending from the head of the Elanitic Gulf to the foot of the Dead Sea, described by Robinson as "a rolling desert, the surface [of which] was in general loose gravel and stones, everywhere furrowed and torn with the beds of torrents … now and then a lone shrub of the ghudah [being] almost the only trace of vegetation".

III. THE SAILORS BY WHOM THEY WERE MANNED. Servants of Hiram, who had knowledge of the sea. The Phoenicians the earliest navigators of the ocean. An inscription of Queen Hatasu, of the eighteenth Egyptian dynasty, queen regnant first with Thothmes II. and afterwards with Thothmes III; has preserved a record of the construction by that royal lady of a navy on the Red Sea, and of a voyage of discovery to the land of Arabia in vessels manned by Phoenician seamen (Brugsch, 'Egypt,' 1:351, etc.; 'Records of the Past,' Romans 10:11, etc.).

IV. THE COUNTRY TO WHICH THEY STEERED. Ophir. By eminent authorities (Lassen, Ritter, Bertheau) located in India, this gold-producing region was probably in Arabia (Knobel, Keil, Ewald, Bahr)—the land of Pun, to which the ships of Hatasu sailed for costly treasures.

V. THE CARGO WITH WHICH THEY RETURNED.

1. Gold. Whether the four hundred and fifty talents were the cargo of one voyage or of all the voyages cannot be determined. Reckoning a talent at £5475 sterling, the amount would be £2,463,750, or nearly two and a half millions. This precious metal was amongst the treasures fetched from the land of Pun by Hatasu's fleet.

2. Precious stones. Learnt from a later statement (2 Chronicles 9:10). These also were obtainable in the land of Pun.

3. Algum trees. (2 Chronicles 9:10). What these were is unknown; probably they corresponded with the balsam-wood or "incense trees" brought from Pun by Hatasu's ships. It was manifestly rare and costly, as Solomon made of it "terraces to the house of the Lord and the king's palace, as well as harps and psalteries for singers;" "and there were none such seen before in the land of Judah." So said Hatasu's scribes of her cargo. "Never has such a convoy [been made] like this one by any king since the creation of the world."

Learn:

1. Man's dominion over nature—he can affront the perils of the sea.

2. The advantages (from a secular point of view) of navigation—in increasing the world's wealth and comfort, in extending man's knowledge and power, and in binding the nations into a mutually dependent and helpful brotherhood.

3. The dangers (from a spiritual point of view) of foreign exploration, in fostering the lust of conquest and possession, and in bringing God's people into contact with heathen nations.—W.

 


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Bibliography Information
Exell, Joseph S; Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 8:4". The Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tpc/2-chronicles-8.html. 1897.

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Sunday, December 15th, 2019
the Third Week of Advent
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