Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

1 Kings 5:13

Now King Solomon levied forced laborers from all Israel; and the forced laborers numbered 30,000 men.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Temple;   Thompson Chain Reference - Solomon;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Temple, the First;   Tribute;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Hiram or Huram;   Tyre or Tyrus;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - King;   Solomon;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Temple;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - King;   Solomon;   Solomon's Servants;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Economic Life;   King, Kingship;   Lebanon;   Wages;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Alliance;   Government;   Israel;   Kings, Books of;   Slave, Slavery;   Solomon;   Tribute, Toll, Taxing;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Hiram ;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Solomon;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Solomon's Servants;   Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary - Tribute;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Hebrew Monarchy, the;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Adoniram;   Alliance;   King;   Solomon;   Tax;   Kitto Biblical Cyclopedia - Alliances;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Animals of the Bible;   Halé;   é;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

The levy was thirty thousand men - We find from the following verse that only ten thousand were employed at once, and those only for one month at a time; and having rested two months, they again resumed their labor. These were the persons over whom Adoniram was superintendent, and were all Israelites.

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Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on 1 Kings 5:13". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/1-kings-5.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

A levy out of all Israel - This was, apparently, the first time that the Israelites had been called upon to perform forced labor, though it had been prophesied 1 Samuel 8:16. David had bound to forced service “the strangers” 1 Chronicles 22:2; but hitherto the Israelites had escaped. Solomon now, in connection with his proposed work of building the temple, with the honor of God as an excuse, laid this burden upon them. Out of the 1,300,000 able-bodied Israelites 2 Samuel 24:9, a band of 30,000 - one in forty-four - was raised, of whom one-third was constantly at work in Lebanon, while two-thirds remained at home, and pursued their usual occupations. This, though a very light form of task work, was felt as a great oppression, and was the chief cause of the revolt of the ten tribes at Solomon‘s death 1 Kings 12:4.

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Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on 1 Kings 5:13". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/1-kings-5.html. 1870.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

"And king Solomon raised a levy out of all Israel; and the levy was thirty thousand men. And he sent them to Lebanon, ten thousand a month by courses; a month they were in Lebanon, and two months at home: and Adoniram was over the men subject to taskwork. And Solomon had threescore and ten thousand that bare burdens, and fourscore thousand that were hewers in the mountains; Besides Solomon's chief officers that were over the work, three thousand and three hundred, who bare rule over the people who wrought in the work. And the king commanded, and they hewed out great stones, costly stones, to lay the foundation of the house with wrought stone. And Solomon's builders and Hiram's builders and the Gebalites did fashion them, and prepared the timber and the stones to build the house."

Here is a summary of the manpower required to build Solomon's Temple, the great burden of which was discharged by 150,000 slaves, who were remnants of the Canaanites whom Israel had enslaved rather than exterminating them as God had commanded. (See our commentary on Judges and Ruth for a full discussion of this shameful action on the part of Israel. (pp. 10-22).)

"Solomon raised a levy ... of thirty thousand men from all Israel" (1 Kings 5:13). All of these were able-bodied citizens of Israel who were thus conscripted for forced labor for a total of one fourth of each year! It should be remembered also, in this connection, that they no doubt bore the full share of the enormous tax burden in addition. Some have supposed that Solomon remunerated these men; but there is not a word in the text that supports such an improbable notion. Solomon referred to all of them contemptuously as "my servants." This type of forced labor had first been introduced in Israel by David (2 Samuel 20:24); but, as was also the case in the harem which David introduced, Solomon's excessive indulgence in both outstripped anything ever contemplated by David.

Regarding the forced labor on the part of the Israelites, Cook noted that, "They felt that this was a great oppression, and it was the chief cause of the revolt of the ten northern tribes following Solomon's death."[8]

"Adoniram was over the men subject to taskwork" (1 Kings 5:14). "The man thus placed over the levy was the same as Adoram (so-called in the days of David); and he came to be thoroughly detested in Israel (1 Kings 12:18)."[9]

We should not be particularly concerned with the variations in the numbers given for the supervisors in 2 Chronicles 2:17 as contrasted with here. "The total number in both accounts terminates at exactly 3,850; and the variations may be accounted for by the different classifications."[10]

"And (they) prepared the timber and the stones to build the house" (1 Kings 5:18). The foundation stones for Solomon's Temple have been the marvel of all who ever saw them. "Those great beveled or grooved stones, measuring twenty or thirty feet in length, and from five to six feet in breadth, may still be seen in the substructure of the ancient site of the Temple; and, in the judgment of the most competent observers, are actually the original stones employed by Solomon's workers `to lay the foundation of the house.'"[11]

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Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on 1 Kings 5:13". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/1-kings-5.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And King Solomon raised a levy out of all Israel,.... Not of money, but of men, as follows:

and the levy was thirty thousand men; for what purpose, and how they were employed, 1 Kings 5:14 shows.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on 1 Kings 5:13". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/1-kings-5.html. 1999.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

1 Kings 5:13-18. Solomon‘s workmen and laborers.

Solomon raised a levy out of all Israel — The renewed notice of Solomon‘s divine gift of wisdom (1 Kings 5:12) is evidently introduced to prepare for this record of the strong but prudent measures he took towards the accomplishment of his work. So great a stretch of arbitrary power as is implied in this compulsory levy would have raised great discontent, if not opposition, had not his wise arrangement of letting the laborers remain at home two months out of three, added to the sacredness of the work, reconciled the people to this forced labor. The carrying of burdens and the irksome work of excavating the quarries was assigned to the remnant of the Canaanites (1 Kings 9:20; 2 Chronicles 8:7-9) and war prisoners made by David - amounting to 153,600. The employment of persons of that condition in Eastern countries for carrying on any public work, would make this part of the arrangements the less thought of.

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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 1 Kings 5:13". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/1-kings-5.html. 1871-8.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

And king Solomon raised a levy out of all Israel; and the levy was thirty thousand men.

The levy — Which were to be employed in the most honourable and easy parts of the work relating to the temple; and these were Israelites; but those fifteen hundred thousand mentioned verse15, were strangers. If it seem strange, that so many thousands should be employed about so small a building as the temple was; it must be considered, 1. that the temple, all its parts being considered, was far larger than men imagine; 2. that it is probable, they were employed by turns, as the thirty thousand were, verse14, else they had been oppressed with hard and uninterrupted labours3. that the timber and stone hewed and carried by them, was designed, not only for the temple, but also for Solomon's own houses, and buildings; because we read of no other levy of men, nor of any care and pains taken after the building of the temple, for the procurement, or preparation of materials for his own houses, or his other buildings; nay, that this very levy of men was made and employed for the building of the Lord's house, and Solomon's house, and Millo, and the wall of Jerusalem, and Hazor, and Megiddo, and Gezer, is expressed chap9:15.

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Wesley, John. "Commentary on 1 Kings 5:13". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/1-kings-5.html. 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

1 Kings 5:13 And king Solomon raised a levy out of all Israel; and the levy was thirty thousand men.

Ver. 13. And king Solomon raised a levy.] Heb., A tribute of men, perhaps of aliens, or such as the Gibeonites were in Israel.

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Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on 1 Kings 5:13". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/1-kings-5.html. 1865-1868.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Which were to be employed in the most honourable and easy parts of the work relating to the temple, in manner expressed, 1 Kings 5:14. And these were Israelites; but those 150,000, mentioned 1 Kings 5:15, were strangers, by comparing this with 1 Kings 9:21,22. If it seem strange to any man that so many thousands should be employed about so small a building as the temple was, it must be considered,

1. That the temple, all its parts being considered, was far larger than men imagine, of which more hereafter.

2. That it is probable, that they were employed by turns, as the 30,000 were, 1 Kings 5:14, else they had been oppressed with hard and uninterrupted labours.

3. That the timber and stone hewed and carried by them was designed, not only (though principally) for the temple, but also for Solomon’s own houses and buildings; because we read of no other levy of men, nor of any great care and pains taken, after the building of the temple, for the procurement or preparation of materials for his own houses, or his other buildings; which implies, that that work was done before; nay, that this very levy of men was made and employed for the building of the Lord’s house, and Solomon’s house, and Millo, and the wall of Jerusalem, and Hazor and Megiddo, and Gezer, is expressed 1 Kings 9:15, which may fully satisfy that scruple.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on 1 Kings 5:13". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/1-kings-5.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

THE LABORERS AT LEBANON, 1 Kings 5:13-18.

13.Levy — See note on 1 Kings 4:6, and 2 Samuel 20:24.

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 1 Kings 5:13". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/1-kings-5.html. 1874-1909.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

1 Kings 5:13. Solomon raised a levy — Which were to be employed in the most honourable and easy parts of the work relating to the temple, in the manner expressed 1 Kings 5:14; and these were Israelites; but those one hundred and fifty thousand mentioned 1 Kings 5:15 were strangers. if it seem strange that so many thousands should be employed about so small a building as the temple was, it must be considered, 1st, That the temple, all its parts being considered, was far larger than men imagine: 2d, That it is probable they were employed by turns, as the thirty thousand were, (1 Kings 5:13,) else they had been oppressed with hard and uninterrupted labours: 3d, That the timber and stone hewed and carried by them were designed, not only for the temple, but also for Solomon’s own houses and buildings; because we read of no other levy of men, nor of any care and pains taken, after the building of the temple, for the procurement or preparation of materials for his own houses, or his other buildings; nay, that this very levy of men was made and employed for the building of the Lord’s house, and Solomon’s house, and Millo, and the wall of Jerusalem, and Hazor, and Megiddo, and Gezer, is expressed chap. 1 Kings 9:15.

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Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on 1 Kings 5:13". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/1-kings-5.html. 1857.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

levy = tribute of men for free labour, not the bond service of 1 Kings 9:21, 1 Kings 9:22. Compare 1 Kings 4:6. 2 Samuel 20:24. Foretold in 1 Samuel 8:16. David employed forced service of resident aliens (1 Chronicles 22:2; and notes on 2 Samuel 12:31).

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on 1 Kings 5:13". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/1-kings-5.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

And king Solomon raised a levy out of all Israel; and the levy was thirty thousand men.

Solomon raised a levy out of all Israel, [ mac (Hebrew #4522)] - (see the notes at 1 Kings 4:6, last clause.) The renewed notice of Solomon's divine gift of wisdom (1 Kings 5:12) is evidently introduced to prepare for this record of the strong but prudent measures he took toward the accomplishment of his work. So great a stretch of arbitrary power as is implied in this compulsory levy must have raised great discontent, if not opposition, had not his wise arrangement of letting the labourers remain at home two months out of three, added to the sacredness of the work, reconciled the people to this forced labour. The carriage of burdens and the irksome work of excavating the quarries was assigned to the remnant of the Canaanites (1 Kings 9:20; 2 Chronicles 8:7-9) and war-prisoners made by David, amounting to 153,600. The employment of persons of that condition in Eastern countries for carrying on any public work would make this part of the arrangements the less thought of.

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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 1 Kings 5:13". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/1-kings-5.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(13) Levy out of all Israel.—This, though far from being onerous, appears to have been at this time exceptional. For in 1 Kings 9:22 we read that “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.” Thus exceptionally introduced at first for the special service of God, it may have been the beginning of what was hereafter an oppressive despotism over the Israelites themselves. Probably even now the Israelite labourers were (under the chief officers) put in authority over the great mass of 150,000 bondmen, evidently drawn from the native races. (See 2 Chronicles 2:17.) But the whole description suggests to us—what the history of Exodus, the monuments of Egypt, and the description by Herodotus of the building of the Pyramids confirm—the vast sacrifice of human labour and life, at which (in the absence of machinery to spare labour) the great monuments of ancient splendour were reared.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on 1 Kings 5:13". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/1-kings-5.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

And king Solomon raised a levy out of all Israel; and the levy was thirty thousand men.
levy
Heb. tribute of men.
4:6
the levy
9:15
Reciprocal: 1 Kings 5:1 - Hiram;  1 Kings 9:21 - levy;  2 Chronicles 2:17 - numbered;  2 Chronicles 8:8 - to pay;  Ecclesiastes 5:11 - they

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on 1 Kings 5:13". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/1-kings-5.html.