Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

1 Kings 5:14

He sent them to Lebanon, 10,000 a month in relays; they were in Lebanon a month and two months at home. And Adoniram was over the forced laborers.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Nave's Topical Bible - Adoniram;   Hadoram;   Temple;   Thompson Chain Reference - Lebanon;   Mountains;   Solomon;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Lebanon;   Mountains;   Temple, the First;   Tribute;  
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Adoniram;   Hiram or Huram;   Tyre or Tyrus;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - King;   Solomon;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Temple;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Adoniram;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - King;   Solomon;   Solomon's Servants;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Adoniram;   King, Kingship;   Lebanon;   Wages;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Alliance;   Israel;   Solomon;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Adoniram ;   Hiram ;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Solomon;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Solomon's Servants;   Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary - Tribute;  
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Hebrew Monarchy, the;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Adoniram;   Alliance;   Change;   Jeroboam;   Solomon;   Tax;   Kitto Biblical Cyclopedia - Alliances;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Adoniram;  

The Biblical Illustrator

1 Kings 5:14

A month they were in Lebanon, and two months at home.

Church and home

The building of the temple was the distinctive glory of the reign of Solomon, the most important monument of his administration. Although its erection was not originally contemplated in the Mosaic law, it had long been evident that such a building was necessary.

I. Every great undertaking demands great and varied effort for its accomplishment. The design of the temple, originated by David, had been adopted and elaborated by Solomon. Solomon’s was the inspiring and directing mind. The results which fill us with gladness bear a direct proportion to their causes. “Out of nothing, nothing comes.” You can achieve no worthy purpose, you can rear no solid structure, either as a witness to the glory of God or a place of sanctuary and healing for men, without an expenditure of thought, of affection, and of energy. In matters temporal and spiritual alike, success is, under the blessing of God, given to unrestrained labour. There is being reared among men a grander temple than Solomon’s. Believers in Jesus Christ are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief Corner-stone. It is for us to dig deep in the earth, to fashion the stones into shape, to place them row upon row, until the whole edifice is complete. We have to rear the columns, to execute the carved workmanship, and to fix in their places the richly stained windows.

II. The importance of the duties which belong to our business and our home. “A month they were in Lebanon, and two months at home.” The men whom Solomon drafted off to aid him in his momentous task were not to neglect the cultivation of their fields and their vineyards. Devotion to the duties of religion neither justifies nor requires the neglect of our “secular calling.” Business also is a Divine appointment; an essential element in our moral and spiritual education; training us to habits which can be learned in no other way so simply and effectually. So likewise of our homes. The family is the oldest of all our institutions, older even than the Church. Our first thoughts are associated with it. We should not be absent from our homes more than is really needful. Do not forget the proportion--one month at Lebanon and two at home. By no ethical or spiritual standard with which I am acquainted can negligence be justified. No husband is true to his name unless he is indeed “of house and home the band and stay.” Even religious and philanthropic meetings should not be allowed to thrust home duties into a corner. (J. Stuart.)

Homes and how to make them

Every human being ought to be a member of some household, and every household ought to have a fixed place of residence, a place of its own--in one word, both short and sweet, a home. That is the only right way of living. A home is, for every human being, the first condition of the highest happiness and the best growth. No one ought to be satisfied until he has supplied it for himself. There are among us a multitude of homeless ones. Of these there are several sorts. There are the sturdy tramps, who go wandering about from city to city and from hamlet to hamlet, stopping where night finds them. When men take up the trade of vagrancy, they are too apt to follow it as long as they live. We cannot afford to have this subdivision of our homeless class increase. Next are the gypsies, that dusky race from over the seas, who have managed for so many years to puzzle the ethnologists and frighten the children. Here is a whole race that for centuries has been homeless, and for that reason has no history, no literature, not much religion if any, and hardly any knowledge of the arts of civilisation. Such possessions and acquirements as these are scarcely within the reach of people who have no homes: Next after the gypsies there is a considerable class of persons who are too restless to stay long in any place, and whose lives are spent in constant migrations from one place to another; who tarry nowhere long enough to get wanted. Next after the floating population comes that large class of persons who have a local residence but not a local habitation; who continue to live in the same community, but do not live in homes; who make their abode in such public residences as hotels or boarding-houses. Now, as respects these, it must be said that many of them are compelled to adopt this manner of life. Young men and women whose homes have been broken up by the death of their parents, or who have been called forth from the habitation of their childhood to seek education and livelihood in distant places, cannot, of course, have homes of their own.

1. The strongest justification of the home life, is in the fact that there are certain affections of the soul that can be developed in no other manner of life. The domestic virtues and graces are not easily described or catalogued, but they form an important part of the best human character. There are sentiments, sympathies, habitudes of thought, which are native to the home, and which are essential to the best growth and highest development of human beings. Domesticity gives to every beautiful character an added charm. No man is truly good who is not good at home; and the best men are always best on the side that touches home.

2. Public spirit is fed and fostered at the fireside. The man who has a home of his own is interested that the community in which he lives should be lacking in nothing that could help to make it desirable as a place of residence. He who makes himself a householder by that act gives a hostage to society for his good behaviour and his devotion to public interests. Patriotism, too, has its foundations laid upon the hearthstones of the land. The patriot’s love for his country is rooted and grounded in his love for his home. And for the nation’s heart-beats you must listen in the nation’s homes. When the great mass of the people are not only householders but free-holders--when they own the homes they live in--the sentiment of patriotism finds its intensest development.

3. Your home must be a place of comfort and repose. That, of course. You will take delight in contriving all its appointments so that the burdens of toil shall rest as lightly as possible upon those who have the ordering of it; you will find pleasure in furnishing and arranging it, so far as you can, in such manner that gloom and cheerlessness shall be excluded, and it shall seem to be a true haven of rest and good cheer to all upon whom its hospitable doors shall open.

4. Your home must be a school of culture. I do not mean that you will fill it with pedagogic instruments and appliances; but it will be so arranged as to educate by impression those who dwell within it. Probably few of us are fully aware how sensitive we are to the influence of external objects. A minister travelling in Vermont entered a farmhouse, and fell into conversation with a farmer and his wife, persons in middle age. He inquired for their children, and learned that they had four boys, and that they were all at sea, following the hard trade of the sailor. “But how happened it,” asked the minister, “that your boys should take such a fancy? They never lived by the seashore.” The good people could offer no explanation whatever. It was simply a notion, they said, and a strange one, they had always thought, but it was a very strong one, and they had found it impossible to dissuade the boys from their purpose. But, pretty soon, the minister was invited into the little room which served the family for parlour, and there, hanging over the mantelpiece, the only picture in the room, was a magnificent engraving of a ship under full sail. The parents said it had been hanging there ever since their boys were little children. Who could doubt that the daily sight of this beautiful picture had had much to do in inflaming the passions of the farmer’s boys for the seafaring life? This is hardly an exaggerated instance of the effects produced upon our lives by the objects that surround us.

5. Your home will also be a place of enjoyment. Innocent play will often be in order. If there are young folks in the house, they will more easily be kept at home by liberal provision in this direction than in any other way. The grown people should not only tolerate the children’s pastimes, they should participate in them for their own sakes, as well as for the children’s.

6. Finally, your home, when it is builded, will be, I trust, a sanctuary of religion. There will be an altar there on which, every day, the sacrifices of prayer and praise will be laid. The children of your household will remember, when they are grown up, that their first impressions of the Christian life, and their strongest impulses to enter upon it, were furnished them in their earliest years at home. (W. Gladden.)

The conduct of life


The wisdom of regulated time.--In the days in which kings could command the labour of their people, sometimes without regard to their people’s convenience, the wisdom of Solomon was shown in this, that he did not press over-harshly upon the people under his command. He gave them labour to do, but tempered it with the opportunity of following their own avocations. When he wanted wood hewn down from Lebanon, he arranged that those who were to be the labourers in this behalf were to work in what we call relays or shifts; they were to spend one month in Lebanon doing that work which was needful for the temple of the Lord, but two months they were to spend at home. It is this division of work, time, and labour, which constitutes one of the suggestions of wisdom. Every man was brought face to face with two sides of life’s own affairs, which were constantly pressing upon him, and the larger affairs and interests of the nation. Every man was brought face to face with two aspects of life--the aspect of life in which he had to labour for the support of his own family, and the aspect of his life in which he had to be contributing his share towards the work, as it were, of God in the world. They were to recognise two things--the Divine side and the human side, the heavenly side and the home side of their careers, and therefore they were given that opportunity which contributed to the enlargement of their thoughts. You see, then, the principle which comes here in the conduct of life. What principle then shall I adopt? This, that whatever else my life shall be it shall not be wanting in the capacity of living on the slopes of Lebanon and facing the Divine thought and the Divine meaning of life, neither shall it be so much the life of an indolent recluse, that it cannot minister amidst the neighbours and the friends of my own old home.

II. The right synthesis of life. Is not this the combination.of exactly the two principles--the recognition of the great Divine, the aspiring aspect of life, the recognition also of its serious and solemn duties; the recognition of God, and the recognition also of self as a labourer in the midst of the world. A man who lives upon the slopes of Lebanon all the year round, and is acquainted with the cedars of Lebanon, and knows something of the sky, over his head, and the shifting scenes of the beauty of that sky, may be absolutely without any knowledge whatever about the big world and the home and the children that he has left there, and the man in the home. Why, what destroys our judgment, what makes us full of pride, but this, that we live so much in our own little affairs, that we arc not capable of taking a dispassionate view at all. This man, so eager in business, so devoted to it, measures an event entirely by the influence it will have upon his opportunity, industry, or vocation, as the man who merely measures the legislation which is proposed in the Houses of Parliament by its effect upon his own trade. This makes it impossible for him to judge dispassionately. In order to escape from the egotism which thrusts aside and perverts your judgment you should live somewhat in the Lebanon, that you may come back to the world, and judge somewhat impartially concerning the affairs and the propositions for the improvement of life.

III. How to grow character. Not only does all this improve and strengthen the powers and faculties of your minds, delivering you from one-sidedness, delivering you from a dreamy, unreal idea of life, and from that careworn egotism which distorts men from the larger outlook, but it also tends to strengthen character. Over and over again it has been said thought ripens in solitude, character in the busy world. So true it is. Like the artist who wishes to paint his picture truly, you must sometimes go to a distance from your easel to judge of it in its due proportion. Character loses its proportion from being continually in one atmosphere. So, to come down from your Lebanon into the busy world, and test your theories in life, is to find that your character grows by the strenuous necessity of exerting your judgment and exercising your will. Live amongst your fellow-men that you may exercise that, and that you may test judgment, live also upon the sunny heights where the sunlight of God falls, in order that you may have the warm affectionate, glowing interest in things that take away from you the meanness and selfishness in your lives.

IV. Life without reserves. The man who lives--and that is the great temptation in the present day--so much in the busy world that he becomes an eager and constant citizen, following his avocation with keenness, and also public affairs, if you will, with a certain amount of attention, but has no quiet garden, as it were, within his life, Is a man without what I call the reserves of life. As in military matters the strength of a position is guarded by reserves, so the strength of your influence will be in proportion to the possession of some reserve in your being, something which is yours and God’s and nobody else’s. Like the difference between one man and another is the difference often between the fact that you feel as one speaks he is putting all his wares upon the counter immediately before you, but as another man speaks you know that he is like the prudent shopkeeper who has a large storehouse behind and plenty to bring forth. Also the power that the man is wielding when he is driving the nail into the wall, is not to be measured by the sharpness of the nail, not even the surface of the hammer, but the weight of the hammer which “drives the nail home”. And so it is have been, thought to be strong and great in their influence. Emerson, in his essay on Character, calls attention to the fact that Lord Chatham and Mirabeau and Washington, when their achievements are examined, strike you as having left upon the record less reason for their reputation than their reputations seemed, as it were, to lead you to expect; they were bigger in their reputation than in their actual achievement. Is this to their discredit? Nay, nay. Washington lives, you will say, less upon the result of achievement than his great reputation would have led you to expect. But it was precisely because these men carried a weight behind them that they were able to achieve what they did. You are poising the hammer in your hand, and you say it has driven but a few inches home; yes, but what a weight of iron there was in the hammer, and how many inches it could have driven home! This is the possession of reserves. Men knew that there was force behind these men. So I would have it with you. Cultivate, therefore, this habit--the accumulation of the reserves of knowledge, the accumulation of reserves of will, the accumulation of reserves of noble and lofty thoughts, the accumulation of reserves of deep and magnanimous ambitions. Live somewhat on the side of God’s Lebanon, whatever else you do. Is this selfish that I should say thus prepare yourselves to be strong and worthy in the world? Nay, nay. Just as it is the highest hills that catch the sunshine first, and they are the pledges that by and by every valley shall be filled with sunshine, so is it true that there are men in a nation that are making these accumulations of sunny knowledge, they are the harbingers, the omens, that knowledge will be widely diffused. And you who have made these reserves, lived somewhat upon Lebanon and caught the diviner ideas, will be centres of influence for good, because, wherever you may be placed in the world, you will have reserves and accumulations which you can use in helping on and in forming and inspiring the minds and the lives of others. There is a reserve which you need more than all else--the reserve of the Divine help. You must live upon the Lebanon which means communion with God. Jesus Christ, your Master and mine, gave that counsel, that there should be a little Lebanon height of prayer in each man’s life, when he could be away from the care and the fret and the fevered ambitious of life. (W. Boyd Carpenter.)

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Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "1 Kings 5:14". The Biblical Illustrator. 1905-1909. New York.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And he sent them to Lebanon, ten thousand a month by courses,.... In their turns; these are the servants of his he proposed to be with Hiram's servants, assisting in cutting down the trees, and squaring the timber in Lebanon, 1 Kings 5:6;

a month they were in Lebanon, and two months at home; that they might not be overworked; for they wrought but four months in the year in the hard service in Lebanon, the rest of their time was spent in managing their domestic affairs; these were Israelites:

and Adoniram was over the levy: the same that was over the tribute or the collectors of the tax, 1 Kings 4:6; and, according to the Targum, these were such persons.

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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 5:14". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". 1999.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

1 Kings 5:14 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 levy.

Ver. 14. Ten thousand a month by courses.] Superiors must make the yokes of their inferiors as easy as is possible, lest they lose their affections, and procure their imprecations.

And Adoniram was over the levy.] To order it, and to see the work done.

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Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on 1 Kings 5:14". John Trapp Complete Commentary. 1865-1868.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

14.Ten thousand a month by courses — Solomon carefully observed the law (Leviticus 25:39-46) in not making bondmen of his own people, but of the strangers of the land. Compare 1 Kings 9:21-22. The Israelitish labourers in Lebanon were allowed two months in three to be at home.

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 1 Kings 5:14". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". 1874-1909.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Levy, or tribute. The men had only to procure stones, as the Tyrians had engaged to do all which regarded the wood. (Calmet) --- These were Israelites. (Menochius)

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Bibliographical Information
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on 1 Kings 5:14". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". 1859.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

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 levy.
a month
4:7-19; 1 Chronicles 27:1-15
Reciprocal: 1 Kings 12:18 - Adoram;  2 Chronicles 8:8 - to pay;  2 Chronicles 10:18 - Hadoram

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Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on 1 Kings 5:14". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge".