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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

1 Kings 5:16

besides Solomon's 3,300 chief deputies who were over the project and who ruled over the people who were doing the work.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Nave's Topical Bible - Temple;   Thompson Chain Reference - Solomon;  
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 - Solomon's Servants;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Chief;   King, Kingship;   Lebanon;   Taskmaster;   Wages;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Alliance;   Israel;   Solomon;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Hiram ;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Solomon;  
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Hebrew Monarchy, the;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Alliance;   Tax;   Kitto Biblical Cyclopedia - Alliances;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

Verse 1 Kings 5:16. Besides - three thousand and three hundred which ruled over the people — In the parallel place, 2 Chronicles 2:18, it is three thousand six hundred. The Septuagint has here the same number.

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These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on 1 Kings 5:16". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". 1832.

Bridgeway Bible Commentary


When David had expressed a desire to build a permanent house for God, he was told that God was more concerned with building a permanent ‘house’ for David, namely, a dynasty. As for a symbolic dwelling place for God, God had already shown his ideal for Israel in the tabernacle. Nevertheless, he would allow Israel to have a temple, though it would be built not by David, but by David’s son Solomon (see notes on 2 Samuel 7:1-17).

Despite God’s emphasis on the need to build a godly family, both David and Solomon seem to have been more concerned with building a lavish temple. David may not have been allowed to build the temple himself, but he helped Solomon all he could by preparing the plan and setting aside money and materials for the building’s construction. He wanted everything to be ready so that Solomon could begin construction as soon as he became king (1 Chronicles 22:2-16; 1 Chronicles 28:11).

But Solomon’s plans were for more than a temple. His building program lasted more than twenty years, and included an expensive palace and other impressive buildings to adorn his national capital. (For details of David’s preparations for the temple and its services, and his extensive instructions to Solomon, see notes on 1 Chronicles 22:2-29:30.)

Workers and materials (5:1-18)

No doubt Solomon intended the building of the temple to be a help to Israel’s spiritual life, but the way he carried out the work could easily have had the opposite effect. He obtained the best of materials from Hiram, king of Tyre, but the contract with Hiram almost certainly involved religious ritual and recognition of Hiram’s gods (5:1-9).
Solomon agreed to pay for all this material by sending farm produce to Hiram. But Israel’s farmers may not have been happy to see their hard earned produce going to a heathen king, especially since it was only to pay for a lavish building program in the capital city (10-12). Nor would people in northern Israel be pleased to see their land handed over to Hiram to pay off Solomon’s debts (see 9:11-14).

These disadvantages may not have existed had Solomon been more moderate in his plans and materials. The temple did not need to be any larger than the old tabernacle, and David seems to have left Solomon plenty of materials for its construction (1 Chronicles 22:2-5; 1 Chronicles 29:1-9).

Another of Solomon’s policies that created feelings of dissatisfaction and rebellion was that of forced labour (see 12:4). All working men were required to give three months work to the king each year, to provide a year-round workforce of 30,000 men. One third of these were sent to Tyre to work in relays, a month at a time, cutting the timber under the supervision of Hiram’s men. The timber was then floated down to the Israelite port of Joppa (see v. 6,9; 2 Chronicles 2:8-10,2 Chronicles 2:16). Besides these part-time Israelite workers, there were 150,000 full-time slaves (mainly Canaanites; 9:20-22) who did the harder work of quarrying and carrying the stone (13-18).

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Bibliographical Information
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on 1 Kings 5:16". "Brideway Bible Commentary". 2005.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Comparing this verse and 1 Kings 9:23 with 2 Chronicles 2:18; 2 Chronicles 8:10, the entire number of the overseers will be seen to be stated by both writers at 3,850; but in the one case nationality, in the other degree of authority, is made the principle of the division.

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These files are public domain.
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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on 1 Kings 5:16". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". 1870.

Chuck Smith Bible Commentary

So Hiram the king of Tyre when he heard that Solomon was upon the throne in place of his David: for Hiram was always a great admirer of David. And Solomon sent to Hiram, and he said, You know how that David my father could not build a house unto the name of the LORD his God for the wars which were about him on every side, until the LORD put them under the soles of his feet. But now the LORD my God hath given me rest on every side, so that there is neither adversary nor evil occurrent. Behold, I purpose to build a house unto the name of the LORD my God, as the LORD spake to David my father, saying, Thy son, whom I will set upon the throne in your place, he will build a house unto my name. Now therefore command that they hew me cedar trees out of Lebanon; and my servants shall be with thy servants: and unto thee will I give hire for thy servants according to all that you shall appoint: for thou knowest that there is not among any of us those that have the skill in cutting timber like those of Sidon. So it came to pass, when Hiram heard the words of Solomon, that he rejoiced greatly, and said, Blessed be the LORD this day, which hath given unto David a wise son over this great people ( 1 Kings 5:1-7 ).

So Hiram rejoiced that Solomon had such wisdom as he began to reign in David's stead.

Hiram sent to Solomon, saying, I have considered the things which you have sent for me: and I will do all that you desire concerning the timbers of cedar, and fir. My servants shall bring them down from Lebanon unto the sea: and I will convey them by sea in floats unto the place that you shall appoint me, and I will cause them to be discharged there, and thou shalt receive them: and you shall accomplish my desire, in giving food to my household ( 1 Kings 5:8-9 ).

So they made an arrangement where they would make these great log rafts, cutting the timbers out of the forest of Lebanon. Up in the area of Sidon and Tyre. Now it used to be that Lebanon was covered with great cedar forests. Most of these were destroyed during the time of the reign of the Turks. But there are just today a very few cedar groves left in Lebanon. Tragic. Used to be beautiful wooded area. And now just a few cedars left.

But they cut down these great cedars and firs and made these log rafts. And they floated them down the Mediterranean to the port city of Joppa, which is probably about fifty miles from Tyre. And there from Joppa they would take them over land to Jerusalem, a distance of about thirty-five miles. These huge logs. And so it was quite a task indeed.

Now for these logs, he was to pay Hiram in food to take care of these men who were cutting the timber out of the woods.

So Hiram gave Solomon cedar trees and fir trees according to all of his desire. And Solomon gave to Hiram twenty thousand measures of wheat ( 1 Kings 5:10-11 )

So again, ten bushels, twenty thousand bushels of wheat.

for his household, twenty measures of pure oil ( 1 Kings 5:11 ):

And a measure of oil they figure somewhere between forty-five and eighty gallons. And this was the annual tribute or pay that he gave for the men so that they could eat.

And the LORD gave Solomon wisdom, as he promised him: and there was peace between Hiram and Solomon; for they had made a treaty. And king Solomon raised a tax from all of Israel ( 1 Kings 5:12-13 );

Or a draft actually.

and he drafted thirty thousand men. And he sent them to Lebanon, ten thousand each month ( 1 Kings 5:13-14 ).

So you go a month; you work a month and had two months off. Just like the fireman almost. Just you know, you work a day and off three and those neat kind of hours. So he had thirty thousand men, ten thousand going each month up to Lebanon to work in helping them in the cutting of the wood and so forth.

And Solomon had seventy thousand slaves ( 1 Kings 5:15 ).

That just carried the logs, you know, or worked along with the logs and so forth. They, of course, would put logs and roll them and, you know, they would run and put logs ahead, and they rolled the logs and so forth. And of course, when you have seventy thousand men doing it, you can move quite a few logs. And there were eighty thousand men who were up cutting the logs up in the forest. So really, quite a contingency of labor here.

Beside the chief of Solomon's officers which were over the work, three thousand, three hundred foremen on the job, that guided them in the work. And Solomon commanded that they bring great and costly stones, to lay the foundation of the house of God. And Solomon's builders and Hiram's builders cut them, and the stonesquarers: so that they prepared timber and stones to build the house ( 1 Kings 5:16-18 ).

Now near Herod's gate in Jerusalem today, there is a cave that goes under the wall and actually you can go down under the city of Jerusalem into Solomon's quarries. And you can see where much of the stone was quarried for the walls of the city of Jerusalem during Solomon's time for Solomon's house and for the temple. These quarries are still there, and you can see the chisel marks on the wall where they cut out. What they would do actually, the rocks under that area are limestone and they lay in layers actually. And it's excellent for building, because much of it is just flat and sort of layered. And what they would do is they would drill holes into the rock. And then they would put wooden branches in and then they would soak. They would put water on the wooden branches and make them expand and just pop the rock out. And you can always, an interesting thing to see in Jerusalem, Solomon's quarries. Just to the right of Herod's gate, between Herod's gate and Damascus gate. If ever you get over there, you want to take a look at Solomon's quarries. They're very fascinating, because here is where the stone was quarried. And then, of course, they would cut it.

And it is interesting that today in Jerusalem there's a city ordinance that all of the buildings in Jerusalem must be made out of what they call the Jerusalem stone. So even if they build the concrete buildings, they have to put a fascia over all of the buildings of this Jerusalem stone. Jerusalem stone is a very beautiful stone. It has a capacity in the early morning sun to look almost golden and that is why Jerusalem is called The Golden City. Because as the sun is rising, and as it first hits the stone or just even before it hits just in the early dawn, it takes on a golden hue, all of the stones. And it's absolutely gorgeous. Of course, you're in jet lag so you wake up early anyhow when you're first there. But it's always a thrill to see the sun coming up and see this golden color. And then, of course, as the sun hits it, it begins to level out into a sort of a beige kind of a color in the bright sun.

But Jerusalem stone is something beautiful to behold, and in the cutting of the stone and in the shaping of it, they would shape the stones so fine that they did not have to use mortar in putting it together. But the blocks would just all interlock and fit one upon another. And I saw the corner of the temple mount that was done during Herod's time. With these gigantic stones. Now it says that Solomon had some hewn stones and some of them eight cubits, some of them five cubits, which are good size stones really. For Solomon's day eight cubits would be a stone of about eleven, twelve, thirteen feet. But Herod used stones that were thirty-seven feet long, five feet high and eight feet thick. They estimate that they weigh somewhere between eighty and a hundred tons.

And these stones are carved so accurately, I guess is what you'd say, is that I took a knife blade and tried to insert it between them and you can't. Now can you imagine how much chipping that must have taken. I know. That's the kind of stuff I think about; how long did it take a guy to chip that thing that smooth? You know, because they're working with just chisels and all, hand tools, no power grinders or pneumatic tools. Just chipping away. And the interesting thing is today, you can see these old men around Jerusalem sitting there in the ground or in the squatted position and they're chipping away at stones. It's still an art that is current to the present day because of the city ordinance that all of the building must be faced at least with Jerusalem stone. So stone-cutting, very interesting art indeed, and it is fascinating to watch. And Solomon ordered these stones and, of course, all of the material.


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Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on 1 Kings 5:16". "Chuck Smith Bible Commentary". 2014.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

1. Preparations for building ch. 5

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on 1 Kings 5:16". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". 2012.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

Solomon’s conscription of laborers 5:13-18

Solomon’s forced laborers were non-Israelites (2 Chronicles 8:7-8). Israelites also served, but they were not slaves (1 Kings 9:22). Solomon’s method of providing workers for state projects became very distasteful to the people eventually, perhaps because of how it was administered (cf. 1 Kings 12:18).

"[Adoniram, also known as Hadoram, 2 Chronicles 10:18] was probably one of the most hated men in Israel, an embodiment of autocracy." [Note: J. Barton Payne, "Second Chronicles," in The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, p. 399. Cf. 1 Kings 4:6.]

Solomon’s temple rested on massive limestone blocks that he had quarried out of the hills north of Jerusalem (1 Kings 5:17). The Gebelites (1 Kings 5:18) lived in Byblos, 13 miles north of modern Beirut and 60 miles north of Tyre.

The main emphasis in this chapter is on the favorable response of the Phoenician king, Hiram, with which God blessed Israel through Solomon’s wisdom (1 Kings 5:7). Solomon wrote that "when a person’s ways please the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him" (Proverbs 16:7). Such was God’s blessing on Solomon at this time.

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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on 1 Kings 5:16". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". 2012.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Besides the chief of Solomon's officers which [were] over the work,.... Over the whole work, preparatory for the building of the temple; though it seems chiefly to have respect to that of hewing the stones, and bringing them to the city:

three thousand and three hundred which ruled over the people that wrought in the work; to keep them to their work, and to see that they performed it well: in 2 Chronicles 2:18; they are said to be 3600, which is three hundred more than here; those three hundred are the chief officers mentioned in the former part of this verse, which were over the whole work, and even over the 3600 overseers, and with them made up the sum of 3600; so Jacob Leon h observes there were 3300 master workmen, and three hundred commanders over them all.

h Relation of Memorable Things in the Temple, ch. 3. p. 14.

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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 5:16". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". 1999.

Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary on the Bible

      10 So Hiram gave Solomon cedar trees and fir trees according to all his desire.   11 And Solomon gave Hiram twenty thousand measures of wheat for food to his household, and twenty measures of pure oil: thus gave Solomon to Hiram year by year.   12 And the LORD gave Solomon wisdom, as he promised him: and there was peace between Hiram and Solomon; and they two made a league together.   13 And king Solomon raised a levy out of all Israel; and the levy was thirty thousand men.   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.   15 And Solomon had threescore and ten thousand that bare burdens, and fourscore thousand hewers in the mountains;   16 Beside the chief of Solomon's officers which were over the work, three thousand and three hundred, which ruled over the people that wrought in the work.   17 And the king commanded, and they brought great stones, costly stones, and hewed stones, to lay the foundation of the house.   18 And Solomon's builders and Hiram's builders did hew them, and the stonesquarers: so they prepared timber and stones to build the house.

      Here is, I. The performance of the agreement between Solomon and Hiram. Each of the parties made good his engagement. 1. Hiram delivered Solomon the timber, according to his bargain, 1 Kings 5:10; 1 Kings 5:10. The trees were Solomon's, but perhaps--Materiam superabat opus--The workmanship was of more value than the article. Hiram is therefore said to deliver the trees. 2. Solomon conveyed to Hiram the corn which he had promised him, 1 Kings 5:11; 1 Kings 5:11. Thus let justice be followed (as the expression is, Deuteronomy 16:20), justice on both sides, in every bargain.

      II. The confirmation of the friendship that was between them hereby. God gave Solomon wisdom (1 Kings 5:12; 1 Kings 5:12), which was more and better than any thing Hiram did or could give him; but this made Hiram love him, and enabled Solomon to improve his kindness, so that they were both willing to ripen their mutual love into a mutual league, that it might be lasting. It is wisdom to strengthen our friendship with those whom we find to be honest and fair, lest new friends prove not so firm and so kind as old ones.

      III. The labourers whom Solomon employed in preparing materials for the temple. 1. Some were Israelites, who were employed in the more easy and honourable part of the work, felling trees and helping to square them, in conjunction with Hiram's servants; for this he appointed 30,000, but employed only 10,000 at a time, so that for one month's work they had two months' vacation, both for rest and for the despatch of their own affairs at home, 1 Kings 5:13; 1 Kings 5:14. It was temple service, yet Solomon takes care that they shall not be over-worked. Great men ought to consider that their servants must rest as well as they. 2. Others were captives of other nations, who were to bear burdens and to hew stone (1 Kings 5:15; 1 Kings 5:15), and we read not that these had their resting times as the other had, for they were doomed to servitude. 3. There were some employed as directors and overseers (1 Kings 5:16; 1 Kings 5:16), 3300 that ruled over the people, and they were as necessary and useful in their place as the labourers in theirs; here were many hands and many eyes employed, for preparation was now to be made, not only for the temple, but for all the rest of Solomon's buildings, at Jerusalem, and here in the forest of Lebanon, and in other places of his dominion, of which see 1 Kings 9:17-19; 1 Kings 9:17-19. He speaks of the vastness of his undertakings (Ecclesiastes 2:4, I made me great works), which required this vast number of workmen.

      IV. The laying of the foundation of the temple; for that is the building his heart is chiefly upon, and therefore he begins with that, 1 Kings 5:17; 1 Kings 5:18. It should seem, Solomon was himself present, and president, at the founding of the temple, and that the first stone (as has been usual in famous buildings) was laid with some solemnity. Solomon commanded and they brought costly stones for the foundation; he would do every thing like himself, generously, and therefore would have some of the costliest stones laid, or buried rather, in the foundation, though, being out of sight, worse might have served. Christ, who is laid for a foundation, is an elect and precious stone (Isaiah 28:16), and the foundations of the church are said to be laid with sapphires,Isaiah 54:11, compare Revelation 21:19. That sincerity which is our gospel perfection obliges us to lay our foundation firm and to bestow most pains on that part of our religion which lies out of the sight of men.

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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
Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on 1 Kings 5:16". "Matthew Henry Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". 1706.