Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

1 Kings 5:15

Now Solomon had 70,000 transporters, and 80,000 hewers of stone in the mountains,
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Temple;   Thompson Chain Reference - Solomon;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Temple, the First;  
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 - Ahimaaz;   King;   Solomon;   Solomon's Servants;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Hew;   King, Kingship;   Lebanon;   Wages;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Alliance;   Israel;   Slave, Slavery;   Solomon;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Hiram ;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Solomon;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Sol'omon;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Hebrew Monarchy, the;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Alliance;   Hewer;   Nethinim;   Solomon;   Tax;   Treaty;   Kitto Biblical Cyclopedia - Alliances;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

Threescore and ten thousand that bare burdens - These were all strangers, or proselytes, dwelling among the Israelites; as we learn from the parallel place, 2 Chronicles 2:17, 2 Chronicles 2:18.

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Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on 1 Kings 5:15". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/1-kings-5.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

That bare burdens … - Compare the marginal references. These laborers, whose services were continuous, consisted of “strangers” - “the people that were left of the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites” - whom Solomon, following the example of his father 1 Chronicles 22:2, condemned to slavery, and employed in this way.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on 1 Kings 5:15". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/1-kings-5.html. 1870.

The Biblical Illustrator

1 Kings 5:15

And Solomon had . . . hewers in the mountains.

The pioneers of civilisation

Alike in its building and furniture the temple of Solomon had an evangelical and a spiritual signification. Our Lord institutes analogies between Himself and the temple, and the apostles constantly refer to it as an image and a foreshadowing of the Church of Christ. There are many “hewers in the mountains” to-day--servants of Christ working in wild places, difficult places, distant places, so that the temple of humanity may be built up for the indwelling of God.

I. The immense importance of the initial work of the Church of Christ. These “hewers in the mountains” did the initial work of the temple building. They came before all masons and carpenters; in fact, the building of the glorious shrine was out of the question without the toil of these humble workers. It was so with the old civilisations with Egypt, Assyria, Persia, Greece, and Rome, they all emerged out of, were vitalised by, a spiritual faith. And it is still more clear that the modern civilisations were inspired by a spiritual faith, the faith of Christ. Out of the Gospel of God s love in Jesus Christ preached in Italy, in Greece, in Spain, in the forests of Germany, in the forests of Britain, arose the rich civilisation in which we rejoice, and in which is the hope of mankind. And as our civilisation originated in the Christian faith so it is still sustained, invigorated, and developed by spiritual life. Edgar Quinet says: “Any political revolution to be permanent, must be preceded by a religious one, and here is the secret of the comparative failure of the French Revolution.” And may we not add, that the success of the modern Reform movement in this country is largely owing to the fact that it was preceded by the Evangelical Revival?

II. The initial work of the Church is attended by much that appears violent and objectionable. The “hewers in the mountains” had rough work to do--their instruments like the axe and the crowbar, were rough, their methods were rough, and their work was announced by the thunder of the riven rock, the crash of the falling tree. Their action meant noise, dislocation, disruption, destruction. And the superfine critic of the period would turn impatiently from this scene of violence to admire the cunning work in gold, the lily work of the pillars when the temple reached a more advanced stage. So it is still. In certain stages the work of God is almost necessarily attended by much that offends the philosophic mind, the critical taste. When Christ came, He who is the Adoniram, who is over the levy of all the “hewers in the mountains,” what disturbances He made! He disturbed Church and State. When the apostles commenced their mission it was the same. They were aggressive, they disturbed the existing order, they troubled cities and empires, and soon awoke the protest, “These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also.” Luther made much noise, which has exasperated the tranquil critics--he fiercely wielded axe and hammer, and tremendous cleavages and crashes followed his blows. It was the same with Wesley; his critics objected to an enthusiasm which often meant ecclesiastical, social, and political rendings. And the evangelical worker in heathen lands has been open to the same criticism. Again and again have the missionaries been accused of violence and imprudence in one form or another. Sometimes they are accused and attacked in the interests of antiquity. The missionary is attempting ruthlessly to destroy creeds and systems, which have existed for thousands of years, and critics with a eructation for antiquity are indignant. No sooner does God’s forester lift his axe to smite some hoary error than they raise the cry, “O! woodman spare that tree.” But, this is the normal course of the development of the purposes of God Bring together certain chemicals and an explosion is inevitable; bring the truths of God into contact with systems of superstition and idolatry, and terrible consequences ensue--not unlikely, many even perish. In the Book of the Revelation the development of the kingdom of God is dramatised, and it expresses the fact that that kingdom comes largely through antagonisms and martyrdoms. Trumpets peal, lightnings flash, thunders boom; trees are burnt up, rivers become worm-wood, seas turn into blood, and suns and moons are darkened; the redeeming purpose of God unfolds amid battles, earthquakes, plagues, and voices. The regeneration of the earth is not to be worked out in a serene atmosphere. The time comes when civilisations grow silently, as the temple was built without hammer or axe or any tool of iron being heard in the house; but there must be the preliminary stages, when the “hewers in the mountains” startle and trouble by their blows and cries.

III. The initial work of the church of christ implies tremendous sacrifice. These “hewers in the mountains “ made certain sacrifices and encountered great difficulties that Solomon might be put in possession of the stone and timber essential for his projected house. And so the temple of humanity built on the grandest pattern is possible because certain pioneers are willing deeply to deny themselves.

IV. The splendid hopefulness of this pioneer service. Out of the wild mountain these devoted hewers brought the wonderful temple. Rough, violent, forbidding as their work might seem, it at last took shape as the palace of God. The Papuans, the Polynesians, the Malays, the Amazonian Indians, the aboriginals of Africa, and other uncivilised tribes have distinct and precious powers, although mainly undeveloped. Some excel in poetry, song and music, some in the artistic sense. Richard Semon says: “I dare to maintain that the love of artistic ornament is deeper and more general in the poor and naked savages of New Guinea than in ourselves.” Now can we believe that all these endowments are in vain? That these peoples will be the curse of the future? If we believe in the rationality of the universe we cannot believe in anything of the kind; it is much more sane to believe that the fulness of the Gentiles will enrich and raise civilisation gloriously. “The light and power of the Gospel” will work the miracle and develop, uplift, and perfect all nations and tribes. Christ can see the glorious possibilities of men even when they are at their worst. Anybody knows a Rembrandt when he sees it in a sumptuous frame in the National Gallery--even if it isn’t one!--but we need a fine eye to detect an immortal masterpiece on a blackened canvas, amid the dirt and lumber of a cellar. But this is the very genius of Jesus Christ, who came to seek and to save that which was lost. When we were without strength, down in a gulf of dark despair, He recognised our essential glory and stooped from heaven to lift us to the throne. And Christ has opened the eyes of His people and caused His Church to recognise the intrinsic greatness of the savage and the slave, whatever the cynic may have to say. A sculptor can see in the rough marble quarries of Carrara a world of glorious imagery, an architect can see in the wild forest of Lebanon palaces and temples, and since Christ has opened our eyes we can see in the forlorn and lapsed classes, in the outlandish and savage nations of the earth, the most splendid possibilities of life and destiny. We hear from critics of a certain sort a great deal about failure in our work, but in all directions we judge of the worth of men’s efforts by their triumphs, not by their failures. Just outside Rome there is an ancient artificial mound, formed through long years by the pile of earthenware vessels in which various wares were brought to the great market of Rome, and whose fragments the peasants threw into this rubbish heap. Now if I wished to judge of the art of antiquity I should not waste my time turning over these miserable, worthless potsherds; I should study the vases, wonderful in amplitude, grace and colour, which are the jewels of museums and palaces. So we do not judge the efficacy of missions by what our critics may consider as rubbish cast into the void, but by tens of thousands of noble souls gathered into the Church of Christ, by myriads of glorified saints who are the pride of the palace of the King. (W. L. Watkinson.)

Partakers in the process share in the honour of the result

Imagine how Solomon s temple was built, that went up in Jerusalem without sound of the hammer. In the umbrageous forest of old Lebanon, many and many a day-labourer worked, cleaving and sweating, cleaving and sweating in obscurity, and wondering of what consequence all his work could be. As they toiled, day after day, at the large butt of some century-crowned cedar, with the rude instruments of their time, till at last it came down with a crash; and as they lopped off the limbs, and sawed up the vast trunk into various forms, they said to themselves, “We are slaves, labouring here among the mountains unrewarded.” And not far from them, in the gorge, were men that wrought in stone. In another place were workers in metal. Some did one thing, and some another; but none knew the plan of the temple, none knew what they wrought, till on a certain day, when they all trooped to Jerusalem. It was the day on which the dedication was to take place. And when they gathered there; when the hewer of wood, the carver of stone, and the worker in metal, from the various seclusions where they had wrought, each on his separate part, came together to see what had been made with all the different parts, they saw in the columns, in the cornices, in the decorations, in all the paraphernalia of the wonderful temple, the result of their toil. They stood entranced, and wondered that out of things so insignificant in the mountains, there should come such glory in Jerusalem. God has sent some to the cedar forest, some to the stone quarry, some to the dark and dank places of this world; but He is collecting materials which will glow with untold splendour in the temple that He is building for the New Jerusalem. What the issue of life is to be you cannot tell now; but you are working for God, and with God, and according to God’s plans; and ere long you will be summoned to see the result of all your work. Before that time, you cannot tell what that result is to be. (H. W. Beecher.)

Scope for every faculty in Christ’s service

It is impossible to find in one man a summary of all qualifications; take each one in his own sphere and you will discover a vast variety of gifts--there is the polished scholar, the eagle-eyed critic, the eloquent orator, and we ought to recognise and appreciate the ability of each. Do you depreciate the sun because he is destitute of fragrance? Do you undervalue the rose because no light flashes from its leaf of beauty. So each man has his own style of working, and is never so effective as when he is natural. A recognition of this fact will save us from passing adverse criticism upon any individual if he is diligent in cultivating the different gifts God has given into his possession. (R. Venting.)

Men of many types used in the work of God

How many have aided in the erection of Christ’s spiritual temple? Keenest intellects have toiled, noblest hearts have planned, sweetest, purest lives have been lived in this sublime effort. O varied workers! Paul, with his relentless, flaming logic. John, with eagle eye, scanning and then writing of the future and the past. Augustine, with his pauseless, countless toffs of pen and speech. Chrysostom consecrating his golden eloquence to themes of transcendent and golden worth. Bede labouring on our own northern shore, and in making the blessed Gospel accessible to the Saxon people, finding “the last dear service of his parting breath.” Luther, with his strong human tenderness and unquailing knowledge. Calvin, with his severe purity and indomitable industry. Latimer, with his home-siren, ready, and racy heart-compelling speech. Bunyan, that true Greatheart of countless pilgrims. Wesley, that statesman. Whitefield, that captain of preachers. And what more shall I say? Time would fail me to tell of the great preachers and teachers with voice and pen who have lived to win souls to Christ. If His service can be ennobled by human associations, it is ennobled by such names as these. Let us be worthy of them. (G. T. Coster.)

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Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "1 Kings 5:15". The Biblical Illustrator. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/1-kings-5.html. 1905-1909. New York.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And Solomon had threescore and ten thousand that bare burdens,.... Seventy thousand to carry the stones from the mountains out of which they were dug, and which were near Jerusalem, to the city; these were strangers in Israel, as were those that follow:

and fourscore thousand hewers in the mountains: eighty thousand that dug the stones out of the quarries, and squared them; these, with the others, made 150,000, see 2 Chronicles 2:17; according to Jacob LeonF7Relation of Memorable Things in the Temple, ch. 3. p. 14. , the number of workmen at the temple for seven years was 163,600, and some make them more.

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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 5:15". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/1-kings-5.html. 1999.

Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary

And Solomon had 70,000 bearers of burdens and 80,000 hewers of stone on the mountains (of Lebanon). חצב is understood by the older translators as referring simply to hewers of stone. This is favoured both by the context, since 1 Kings 5:18 speaks of stone-mason's work, and also by the usage of the language, inasmuch as חצב is mostly applied to the quarrying and cutting of stones (Deuteronomy 6:11; Isaiah 5:2; Proverbs 9:1; 2 Kings 12:13), and only occurs in Isaiah 10:15 in connection with the cutting of wood. The hewing and preparing of the wood were amply provided for by 30,000 Israelites. That the 150,000 bearers of burdens and hewers of stone were not taken from the Israelites, is evident from the fact that they are distinguished from the latter, or at all events are not described as Israelites. We obtain certainty on this point from the parallel passages, 1 Kings 9:20-21; 2 Chronicles 2:16-17, and 2 Chronicles 8:1-9, according to which Solomon pressed the Canaanites who were left in the land to this bond-service.

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The Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary is a derivative of a public domain electronic edition.
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Keil, Carl Friedrich & Delitzsch, Franz. "Commentary on 1 Kings 5:15". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/kdo/1-kings-5.html. 1854-1889.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

1 Kings 5:15 And Solomon had threescore and ten thousand that bare burdens, and fourscore thousand hewers in the mountains;

Ver. 15. That bare burdens.] Under which expression are also contained wagoners, mariners, horse keepers, mule drivers, &c.

Hewers in the mountains.] Hewers both of stone and of wood. Eupolemus counteth upon many more.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on 1 Kings 5:15". 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

Either of timber, or rather of stones; for Hiram had taken care of the timber.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on 1 Kings 5:15". 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

15.Threescore and ten thousand — These, and the others mentioned in this verse and the following, were not Israelites, but foreigners dwelling in the land. The whole number, according to 2 Chronicles 2:17, was 153,600. Of these 70,000 bare burdens, 80,000 were hewers, and the remaining 3,600 were overseers of the others’ work, thus making one overseer to about every forty men.

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 1 Kings 5:15". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/1-kings-5.html. 1874-1909.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Mountain of Libanus. (Calmet) --- Paralipomenon mountains: but the Hebrew is singular in both places. They were all proselytes or strangers.

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on 1 Kings 5:15". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/1-kings-5.html. 1859.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

And Solomon had threescore and ten thousand that bare burdens, and fourscore thousand hewers in the mountains;
threescore
These were all strangers, or proselytes, dwelling among the Israelites, as we learn from the paralled place in 2 Chron.
9:20-22; 2 Chronicles 2:17,18; 8:7-9; Ezra 2:58; Nehemiah 7:57,60
Reciprocal: 2 Chronicles 2:2 - told out threescore;  2 Chronicles 24:12 - masons

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on 1 Kings 5:15". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/1-kings-5.html.