II Chronicles 2
1 “And Solomon determined to build an house for the name of the LORD, and
an house for his kingdom.” In the Hebrew text this verse stands as the last of ch. 1.
Determined. The Hebrew word is the ordinary word for “said;” as, e.g., in
the expression of such frequent occurrence, “The Lord said.” Its natural
equivalent here might be, he gave the word, or issued the command, for the
building of a house. For the Name of the Lord; better, to the Name of the
Lord (I Kings 5:3; or in Hebrew text, 5:18; I Chronicles 22:7). The
expression, “the Name of the Lord,” is of very early date (Genesis 4:26).
A name named upon a person at the first purported as far as possible
to mark his nature, either its tout ensemble or some striking attribute of it.
Hence the changed name, sometimes of Divine interposition (Genesis
17:5,15; 32:28; 35:10); and much more noticeably the alterations of the
Divine Name, to serve and to mark the progressive development of THE
REVELATION OF GOD TO MAN (Genesis 17:1; Exodus 3:14; 6:3; 34:14).
So the Name of the Lord stands ever — monogram most sacred — for
Himself. A house for his kingdom; i.e. a royal residence for Solomon
himself. This is mere clearly expressed as, “in his own house” (II Chronicles
7:11; 8:1; I Kings 9:10, 15). The description of this house for himself is given
in I Kings 7:1-13. But no parallel account exists in Chronicles.
The Three Elements in Human Purpose (v. 1)
“And Solomon determined to build a house,” etc. And whence came this
purpose of the king’s heart? From the depths of his own soul; or were
there not other elements besides that of his own volition? This
determination which is here chronicled as a simple act of one mind was, as
most of our resolutions are, more complex in its character than it seemed.
outside ourselves. In this case David’s influence had much, very much to
do with it. It was he who initiated the work (II Samuel 7:2). Moreover,
he urged Solomon to proceed with it after his own death, and even laid by
stores in partial preparation for it (I Chronicles 22:11, 14). Solomon, in
“determining” to build a house, was really resolving to go on with an
undertaking which he had already promised his father to carry out. Who
shall tell how much the thought and the desire of other people influence
the choices we are making, and consequently the course we are pursuing?
Perhaps it is very seldom indeed that we “determine” to enter a new path
without owing much to the influence of others; it may be, as in Solomon’s
case, to the action of a past generation, or it may be to that of our
contemporaries and companions. Only He who searches the most secret
chambers of the soul can tell how much of our best resolves is due to the
influence of our best friends.
and encouragement to the proceeding (II Samuel 7:13). And this Divine
decision, communicated by the Prophet Nathan, must have had a very
powerful weight in Solomon’s determination. It would seem to be enough,
of itself, to decide the matter. How much God has to do with our decisions
we do not know, but probably more than we ordinarily imagine. We often
and earnestly ask Him to affect our mind and will by the enlightenment and
influence of His own Spirit; we believe that He has access to us and power
over us, and can touch and quicken us at His will. Why should we not
believe that He is frequently, continually with us, acting upon us,
controlling and directing us, powerfully and graciously affecting our
determinations and our character?
decision was due to the sources, Divine and human, outside himself, there
was room left for his own individuality. He determined to proceed with the
work. It was not under compulsion, but with the full consent of his own
mind, that he began and continued and completed the noble task. He gave
himself to it, he threw his strength into it; so much had he to do with it that
it could be said with truth that “Solomon built him a house.” When all
other influences are taken into the account, it still remains true that our
actions are our own; that ultimately we determine upon the course which
honors or dishonors our life, which makes or mars our character, which
ensures or spoils our prospects.
In view of these three elements in human purpose, there is ground for:
Ø Gratitude; for we owe much of our most fruitful actions to the
suggestion and counsel of our friends.
Ø Humility; for we owe more than we know or think to the inspiration of
Ø A deep sense of responsibility; for it is in the depths of our own nature
we are determining the complexion of our life and the destiny of our
2 “And Solomon told out threescore and ten thousand men to bear
burdens, and fourscore thousand to hew in the mountain, and three
thousand and six hundred to oversee them.” The presence of this verse here,
and the composition of it, may probably mark some corruptness of text or error
of copyists, as the first two words of it are the proper first two words of v. 17, and
the remainder of it shows the proper contents of v. 18, which are not only in
other aspects apparently in the right place there, but also by analogy of the
parallel (I Kings 5:15-16). The contents of this verse will therefore be
considered with vs. 17-18.
Solomon sent to Huram the king of
with David my father, and didst send him cedars to build him an house to
dwell therein, even so deal with me.” Huram. So the name is spelt, whether
of Tyrian king or Tyrian workman, in Chronicles, except, perhaps, in I Chronicles
14:1. Elsewhere the name is written הִירָם, or sometimes חִירום, instead of
חוּרָם. Geseuius draws attention to Josephus’s Greek rendering of the name,
Αἵρωμος – Hairomos with whom
agree Menander, an historian of
fragment respecting Hiram (Josephus, ‘Contra Apion,’ 1:18); and Dius, a
fragment of whose history of the Phoenicians telling of Solomon and
Hiram, Josephus also is the means of preserving (‘Contra Apion,’ 1:17).
The Septuagint write the name Ξιράμ - Xiram; the Alexandrian, , Ξειράμ –
Xeiram; the Vulgate, Hiram. The name of Hiram’s father was Abibaal. Hiram
himself began to reign, according to Menander, when nineteen years of age,
reigned thirty-four years (B.C. 1023-990), and died therefore at the age of
fifty-three. Of Hiram and his reign in
is so familiar to us from the Bible history of David and Solomon. The city
yet the Sidonians, who lived in such close connection with the Tyrians, are
mentioned there (‘Iliad.,’ 6:290; 23. 743; ‘Odys.,’ 4:84; 22:424), whilst
(‘AEn.,’ 1:12, 677; 4:545). The
modern name of
situate on the east coast of the Mediterranean, in
geographical miles north of Joppa, while the road distance from Joppa
Joshua 19:29. After that the more characteristic mentions of it are II Samuel
5:11, with all its parallels; ibid. ch. 24:7; Isaiah 23:1, 7; Ezekiel 26:2; 27:1-8;
and brass, and by no means only for its cedar and timber felling. The good
terms and intimacy subsisting between Solomon and the King of Tyre
speak themselves very plainly in Bible history, without leaving us
dependent on doubtful history, or tales of such as Josephus
3; ‘Contra Apion,’ 1:17). For the timber, metals, workmen, given by Hiram
to Solomon, Solomon gave to Hiram corn and oil, ceded to him some
cities, and the use of some ports on the
28; 10:21-23). As thou didst deal with David… and didst send
him cedars. To this vs. 7 and 8 are the apodosis manifestly, while
vs. 4-6 should be enclosed in brackets.
4 “Behold, I build an house to the name of the LORD my God, to
dedicate it to Him, and to burn before Him sweet incense, and for
the continual shewbread, and for the burnt offerings morning and
evening, on the sabbaths, and on the new moons, and on the
solemn feasts of the LORD our God. This is an ordinance for ever
that the leading religious observances and services of the nation are
summarized. To dedicate it. The more frequent rendering of the Hebrew
word here used is “to hallow,” or “to sanctify.”
(1) Sweet incense (see Exodus 30:1, 6-9, 34-38; 37:25-29; Psalm 141:2;
Revelation 5:8; 6:9; 8:3-5). This sweet incense, compounded of
the four ingredients:
c. galbanum, and
d. pure frankincense,
was to be burnt morning and evening, at the time of the morning and evening
sacrifices on the altar made of shittim wood, overlaid with gold, which
stood in the holy place facing the ark with the table of shewbread on the
one hand, and the golden candlestick on the other. While the act of
atonement was set forth by the offering of the victim on the brazen altar in
the outer court, the ascending, acceptable, and accepted prayer and
aspiration of the congregation were expressed by the sweet incense burning.
(2) The continual shew-bread (מַעֲרֶכֶת תָּמִיד). The elementary meaning
of the word here rendered “shewbread” is “a ranging in order,” whether the
“order” might be, e.g., that of an army in battle array (I Samuel 4:16;
17:8,22,48), or of the lamps of the holy candlestick (Exodus 39:37), or
of pilings of wood to be burnt on the altar (Judges 6:26), or of cakes of
bread, as presumably here and in some parallel passages (Leviticus
24:6). For the table which was to carry these cakes, see Exodus 25:23-30;
37:10-16; the last verse of the former passage speaking of the
shewbread under the name לֶחֶם פָנִים. (For the position of the table, see
Exodus 26:35.) The word employed in the text is first used to express
the piles of cakes, called in our Authorized Version shewbread in
Leviticus 24:6-7; then I Chronicles 9:32; 23:29; 28:16; as also
again in here ch.13:11; 29:18; and in Nehemiah 10:33. Where
in these passages the word לֶחֶם, is not expressed, that it is understood may
be gathered from the other passages (Numbers 4:7). The bread
consisted of twelve large cakes of unleavened dough (Leviticus 24:5-9),
ranged in two heaps, and with a golden cup of frankincense
(ibid. v.7) to each pile. When on every seventh day new cakes
were substituted, the old ones belonged to the priests (v. 8-9; 8:31;
Matthew 12:4; Exodus 29:33-34). The twelve cakes pointed to the twelve
tribes. Their size may be judged from the statement that each cake contained
two tenth deals, i.e. two-tenths of an ephah, equal to about six pounds and a
quarter. The exact significance of this bread is not stated in Scripture. Part of
it lay plainly in the twelve cakes, part, perhaps, in their becoming priest’s food,
found by the people (Leviticus 24:8), after having been presented seven days
before the Lord. Much that is interesting but not finally satisfactory on the
question may be found in the article “Shewbread” in Dr. Smith’s ‘Bible Dictionary,’
3:1271. Our Authorized Version “shewbread’ comes from Luther’s Schaubrode.
of proposition.” The New Testament has, in Hebrews 9:2, ἡ προθέσις τῶν ἄρτῶν –
hae prothesis ton arton – the before-placing of the bread; as also in the Gospels
(Matthew 12:4; Luke 6:4); while the Septuagint has ἄρτους ἐνωπίους – artous
enopious – bread in sight of; before (Exodus 25:30), and ἄρτοι τῆς προσφορᾶς –
artoi taes prosphoras - (I Kings 7:48). The question really turns on the
significance of the designation of Exodus 25:30 (לֶחֶם פָּנִים).
(3) The burnt offerings morning and evening. A succinct statement of
these offerings, constituting the “daily offering,” is given in Numbers
28:3-8, according to its original institution (Exodus 29:38-42), except
in the added mention of the “strong wine,” or strong drink, spoken of in
the latter part of Numbers 28:7, which had probably originated as an incident
of the wilderness-journey. The morning and evening offering were alike, viz. a
lamb, a meal offering consisting of a tenth of an ephah of flour, mixed with
the fourth part of a bin of beaten oil, and a drink offering consisting of the
fourth part of a bin of “wine,” or of “strong drink.”
(4) The burnt offering on the sabbath. The account of this is given in
Numbers 28:9-10; and any previous institution of it is not recorded.
The sabbath-day burnt offerings were the double of the daily offerings
(5) The burnt offering on the new moons; see Numbers 27:11-15,
where the phrase, “the beginnings of your months” is what is employed, i.e.
the first day of each month (Leviticus 10:10). No previous mention of this
burnt offering is found. It consisted of two bullocks, one ram, seven lambs,
a. with meat offering consisting of three-tenths of an ephah of flour mixed
with oil for each bullock; two-tenths of an ephah of flour mixed with oil for
the ram; one-tenth of an ephah of flour similarly mixed for each lamb;
b. with drink offering, of half a hin of wine to each bullock; the third part
of a hin to the ram; and the fourth part of a hin to each lamb. A kid of the
goats for a sin offering, which in fact was offered before the burnt offering.
And all these were to be additional to the continual offering of the day,
with its drink offering (see also Isaiah 66:23; Ezekiel 46:3; Amos 8:5).
(6) The burnt offering on the solemn feasts of the Lord. These were the
three great festivals of the year:
a. the Passover (Exodus 12:3-20, 27, 43; Leviticus 23:4-8; Deuteronomy
b. the Feast of Weeks (Exodus 23:16; 34:22; Leviticus 23:15-21;
Numbers 28:26; Deuteronomy 16:8-12); and
c. the Feast of Tabernacles (Exodus 23:16; Leviticus 23:33-44;
Numbers 29:13-40; Deuteronomy 16:13-15).
5 “And the house which I build is great: for great is our God above all
gods. 6 But who is able to build Him an house, seeing the heaven and
heaven of heavens cannot contain Him? who am I then, that I
should build Him an house, save only to burn sacrifice before Him?”
The contents of these verses beg some special observation,
in the first place, as having been judged by the writer of Chronicles matter
desirable to be retained and put in his work. To find a place for this subject
amid his careful selection, and rejection in many cases, of the matter at his
command, is certainly a decision in harmony with his general design in this
work. Then, again, they may be remarked on as spoken to another king,
who, whether it were to be expected or no, was, it is plain, a sympathizing
hearer of the piety and religious resolution of Solomon (v. 12). This is
one of the touches of history that does not diminish our regret that we do
not know more of Hiram. He was no “proselyte,” but he had the sympathy
of a convert to the religion of the Jew. Perhaps the simplest and most
natural explanation may just be the truest, that Hiram for some long time
had seen “the rising” kingdom, and alike in David and Solomon in turn,
“the coming” men. He had been more calmly and deliberately impressed
than the Queen of Sheba afterwards, but not less effectually and
operatively impressed. And once more the passage is noteworthy for the
utterances of Solomon in themselves. As parenthetically testifying to a
powerful man, who could be a powerful helper of Solomon’s enterprise,
his outburst of explanation, and of ardent religious purpose, and of humble
godly awe, is natural. But that he should call the temple he purposed to
build “so great,” as we cannot put it down either to intentional
exaggeration or to sober historic fact, must the rather be honestly set down
to such considerations as these, viz. that in point of fact, neither David nor
Solomon were “traveled men,” as Joseph and Moses, for instance. Their
measures of greatness were largely dependent upon the existing material
and furnishing of their own little country. And further, Solomon speaks of
the temple as great very probably from the point of view of its simple
religious uses (note end of v. 6) as the place of sacrifice in especial rather
than as a place, for instance, of vast congregations and vast processions.
Then, too, as compared with the tabernacle, it would loom “great,”
whether for size or for its enduring material. Meantime, though Solomon
does indeed use the words (v. 5), “The house.., is great,” yet, throwing
on the words the light of the remaining clause of the verse, and of David’s
words in I Chronicles 29:1, it is not very certain that the main thing
present to his mind was not the size, but rather the character of the house,
and the solemn character of the enterprise itself (I Kings 8:27; here ch. 6:18).
Who am I… save only to burn sacrifice before him?
The drift of Solomon’s thought is plain — that nothing would justify
mortal man, if he purported to build really a palace of residence for Him
whom the heaven of heavens could not contain, but that he is justified all
the more in “not giving sleep to his eyes, nor slumber to his eyelids, until
he had found out a place” (Psalm 132:4-5) where man might
acceptably, in God’s appointed way, draw near to Him. If “earth draw near
to heaven,” it may be confidently depended on that heaven will not be slow
to bend down its glory, majesty, and grace, to earth.
The Acceptableness of the Imperfect (vs. 4-6)
The letter which Solomon wrote to Hiram was one that contained more
than a business proposal; it was something beyond the opening of a
negotiation; it included some valuable truth which not only may have
benefited the then King of Tyre, but may be of real value to us at this date
and this distance. For it intimated:
RELIGION OVER CONTEMPORARY FAITHS. “Great is our God
above all gods” (v. 5). Great indeed; for He was the living God, and they
were only imaginary; He was the holy God, and they were (by supposition)
unholy; He was just and kind, and they were capricious and cruel; He could
and did hear and answer prayer, and they were powerless and helpless.
Who could estimate the priceless advantage to the nation of having for the
object of its worship the Lord God of
century's rejection of Him! - CY - 2016) It makes a difference which is
simply INCALCUABLE to have as the Object of our worship a Being who
is worthy of our devotion. What, then, is it to us to be worshipping the
Divine Father revealed to us in and by Jesus Christ?
Ø It is to be seeking the favor of that Living One who holds us all in His
mighty hand, and is able and is willing to confer upon us inestimable
blessings, even unto eternal life.
Ø It is to be drawing nigh unto, and to be drawn spiritually towards, the
Holy One; it is thus to be attracted in spirit, in sympathy, in character, in
life, toward the Perfect One; it is to be gradually, unconsciously, effectually
transformed into His likeness. For whom we reverence, we follow; whom
we love, we resemble; and just as we worship the Divine Father and love
the Divine Friend, so shall we breathe His spirit and bear His likeness.
HUMAN, IN VIEW OF THE DIVINE GREATNESS.
Ø The material. “Who is able to build Him a house, seeing the heaven…
cannot contain Him?” The temple of a heathen deity may be supposed by its
ignorant devotees to be its residence; it certainly contains its visible image,
the idol. But the temple Solomon was about to build could in no true sense
become the residence of Jehovah. No building could contain Him; “the
heaven of heavens” could not do that: how much less an earthly house!
There is no cathedral, no Christian sanctuary, that can be properly thought
of as the residence or earthly home of Jesus Christ. The heaven where He
dwells cannot contain Him. (Read Isaiah 55:8-9 and then view
Fantastic Trip on You Tube for perspective! - CY - 2016)
Ø The human. “Who am I, that I should build,” etc? To be the principal
agent in the construction of the one building with which the Name of
Jehovah would be associated, and the only building where there would be:
o an abiding manifestation of His presence, and
o the opportunity of approaching Him by sacrifice.
This was an honor of which Solomon naturally and becomingly considered
himself unworthy. And who among the holiest and the wisest of men, who
among the most faithful servants of Jesus Christ, can consider himself
worthy to be:
o the spokesman of his brethren in drawing nigh to God in prayer;
o the messenger to make known the love and grace of God as manifested
in Jesus Christ His Son;
o the workman in even the humblest corner of that sacred and blessed
field — the field of Christian service? To be thus engaged for the
Father of spirits, for the Redeemer of mankind, should be considered
by us all an honor of which we are wholly unworthy.
Ø Though the temple at Jerusalem could not contain God, yet it could
render various valuable services (vs. 4, 6). It was a place:
o where God met with and manifested Himself to the people;
o where they drew consciously near to Him, and realized that
He was very near to them;
o where they communed with Him and rejoiced before Him;
o where they sought and found forgiveness of their sins;
o where they made grateful acknowledgment of their indebtedness
to Him for all blessings; and
o where they dedicated themselves anew to His service.
Imperfect as it was, and utterly unable to constitute the residence of Deity,
it yet answered most useful ends.
Ø And thus with us who are the servants of God. Imperfection marks our
character and our work; we are not worthy to “build Him a house,” nor to
do anything, however humble, in His name and cause. Yet God will bless
us, Christ will own and honor us as His servants, if only we are loyal and
true. “To the wicked God says, What hast thou to do to declare my
statutes?” etc. (Psalm 50:16). But to the upright in heart (including the
penitent, see Psalm 51:12-13), to all those who have returned in spirit
to Him, and who sincerely desire to extend His reign over the hearts of men,
He is ever saying, “Go, work in my vineyard"; go, build up my kingdom;
go, gather my erring sons and daughters, and lead them home to my heart.”
7 “Send me now therefore a man cunning to work in gold, and in
silver, and in brass, and in iron, and in purple, and crimson, and
blue, and that can skill to grave with the cunning men that are with
Send me… a man cunning to work, etc. The parenthesis is
now ended. By comparison of v. 3, it appears that Solomon makes of
Hiram’s services to David his father a very plea why his own requests
addressed now to Hiram should be granted. If we may be guided by the
form of the expressions used in I Chronicles 14:1 and II Samuel 5:11-12,
Hiram had in the first instance volunteered help to David, and had
not waited to be applied to by David. This would show us more clearly the
force of Solomon’s plea. Further, if we note the language of I Kings 5:1,
we may be disposed to think that it fills a gap in our present
connection, and indicates that, though Solomon appears here to have had
to take the initiative, an easy opportunity was opened, in the courteous
embassy sent him in the persons of Hiram’s “servants.” That the king of
this most privileged, separate, and exclusive people of
one who conducted that people to the very zenith of their fame) should
have to apply and be permitted to apply to foreign and, so to say, heathen
help, in so intrinsic a matter as the finding of the “cunning” and the “skill”
of head and hand for the most sacred and distinctive chef d’oeuvre (a master-
piece) of the said exclusive nation, is a grand instance of nature breaking all
trammels, even when most divinely purposed, and a grand token of the dawning
comity of nations, of free-trade under the unlikeliest auspices, and of the
brotherhood of humanity, never more broadly illustrated than when on an
international scale. The competence of the Phoenicians and the people of
the metals, and furthermore in a very wide range of other subjects, is well
sustained by the allusions of very various authorities (already instanced
under I Chronicles 14:1, and passim; Homer, ‘Iliad,’ 6:289-294; 23.
743; ‘Odys.,’ 4:614; 15:415-426; Herod., 3:19; 7:23, 44, 96; Strabo, 16:2.
§ 23). The man who was sent is described in vs. 13-14, infra, as also
I Kings 7:13-14. Purple, ... crimson, ... blue. It is not absolutely
necessary to suppose that the same Hiram, so skilled in working of gold,
silver, brass, and iron, was the authority sent for these matters of various
coloured dyes for the cloths that would later on be required for curtains
and other similar purposes in the temple. So far, indeed, as the literal
construction of the words go, this would seem to be what is meant, and no
doubt may have been the case, though unlikely. The purple (אַדְגְּוָן ). A
Chaldee form of this word (אַרְגְּוָנָא) occurs three times in Daniel 5:7,
16, 29, and appears in each of those cases in our Authorized Version as
“scarlet.” Neither of these words is the word used in the numerous
passages of Exodus, Numbers, Judges, Esther, Proverbs, Canticles,
Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, nor, indeed, in v. 13, infra and ch. 3:14.
In all these places, numbering nearly forty, the word is אַרְגָבָן. The
purple was probably obtained from some shell-fish on the coast of the
color obtained from multitudinous insects that tenanted one kind of the
flex (Coccus ilicis), and that the word is from the Persian language. The
Persian kerm, Sanscrit krimi, Armenian karmir, German carmesin, and our
own “crimson,” keep the same framework of letters or sound to a
remarkable degree. This word is found only here, v. 13, infra, and ch.3:14.
The crimson of Isaiah 1:18 and Jeremiah 4:30, and the scarlet of some forty
places in the Pentateuch and other books, come as the rendering of the word
שָׁנִי. The blue (תְּכֵלֶת). This is the same word as is used in some fifty other
passages in Exodus, Numbers, and in later books. This color was obtained
from a shell-fish (Helix ianthina)
found in the
which was blue. Can skill to grave. The word “to grave” is the piel conjugation
of the very familiar Hebrew verb פָּתַח, “to open.” Out of twenty-nine times that
the verb occurs in some part of the piel conjugation, it is translated:
Ø “grave” nine times,
Ø “loosed” eleven times,
Ø “put off” twice,
Ø “ungirded” once,
Ø “opened” four times,
Ø “appear” once, and
Ø “go free” once.
Perhaps the “opening” the ground with the plough (Isaiah 28:24) leads most
easily on to the idea of “engraving.’’ Cunning men whom... David… did provide.
As we read in I Chronicles 22:15; 28:21.
8 “Send me
also cedar trees, fir trees, and algum trees, out of
know that thy servants can skill to cut
my servants shall be with thy servants, 9 Even to prepare me timber in
abundance: for the house which I am about to build shall be wonderful great.”
Algum trees, out of Lebanon. These trees are called algum in
the three passages of Chronicles in which the tree is mentioned, viz. here
and ch. 9:10-11, but in the three passages of Kings, almug, viz. I Kings 10:11-12 bis.
As we read in I Kings 10:11; here ch. 9:10-11, that they were exports from Ophir,
we are arrested by the expression, “out
such a distance as Ophir. Lastly, there is very great difference of opinion as to
what the tree was in itself. In Smith’s ‘Bible Dictionary,’ vol. 3. appendix,
p. 6., the subject is discussed more fully than it can be here, and with some
of its scientific technicalities.
the almug was brought in great plenty from Ophir for Solomons temple and house, and
for the construction of musical instruments. It is probable that this tree is the red sandal
wood, which is a native of
and of a beautiful garnet color. (Smith’s Bible Dictionary)
Celsius has mentioned fifteen woods for which the honor has been claimed.
More modern disputants have suggested five, of these the red sandalwood
being considered, perhaps, the likeliest. So great an authority as Dr. Hooker
pronounces that it is a question quite undetermined. But inasmuch as it is so
undetermined, it would seem possible that, if it were a precious wood of the
smaller kind (as e.g. ebony with us), and, so to
say, of shy growth in
it might be that it did grow in
it there was customarily supplemented by the imports received from Ophir. Or,
again, it may be that the words, “out of
(I Kings 5:8), and should follow the words, “fir trees.” The rendering
“pillars” in ibid. ch. 10:12 for “rails” or “props” is unfortunate, as the
other quoted uses of the wood for “harps” and “psalteries” would all
betoken a small as well as very hard wood. Lastly, it is a suggestion of
Canon Rawlinson that, inasmuch as the almug wood of Ophir came via
timber. This same testimony is expressed yet more strongly in I Kings
5:6, “There is not any among us that can skill to hew timber like the
Sidoniaus.” Passages like II Kings 19:23; Isaiah 14:8; 37:24, go to
show that the verb employed in our text is rightly rendered “hew,” as
referring to the felling rather than to any subsequent dressing and sawing
up of the timber. It is, therefore, rather more a point of interest to learn in
what the great skill consisted which so threw Israelites into the shade,
while distinguishing Hiram’s servants. It is, of course, quite possible that
the “hewing,” or “felling,” may be taken to infer all the subsequent cutting,
dressing, etc. Perhaps the skill intended will have included the best
selection of trees, as well as the neatest and quickest laying of them
prostrate, and if beyond this it included the sawing and dressing and
shaping of the wood, the room for superiority of skill would be ample.
My servants (so vs. 2, 18; I Kings 5:15).
“A Wonderful Great House.” (v. 9)
the son of David; the temple of the Christian Church by Jesus, David’s
Son, but also David’s Lord, the Only-Begotten of the Father, whose name
is “Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Prince of Peace”
(Isaiah 45:13; Hebrews 3:3).
silver, precious stones, etc.; the temple of the Christian Church out of lively
stones, or believing and regenerated souls (I Peter 2:5).
Jehovah had appeared to Abraham and afterwards to David, its walls
reaching down to and rising up from the solid rock; the temple of the
Christian Church rests upon THE IMMOVABLE ROCK OF CHRIST’S
PERSON (Matthew 16:18; Ephesians 2:20), in whom the clearest and fullest
revelation of the Father has been made to men (John 1:18; 14:9).
— a holy place and a holy of holies, the former for the worshipping priests,
the latter for the worshipped God; the Church of Jesus Christ has only one
chamber, the separating veil being done away, in fact rent in twain, by the
sacrifice of the cross (Matthew 27:51; Hebrews 10:20).
and silver and decorations of carved work; the
rendered beautiful by the inward graces of the Spirit (Psalm 149:4;
I Peter. 3:3-4).
small structure; the temple of the Christian Church is a spacious house of
many mansions (John 14:2).
Jehovah’s symbolic presence; the Church of Jesus Christ is a habitation for
Jehovah Himself through the Spirit (Ephesians 2:22).
1. The glory of the Christian Church.
2. The superiority of the gospel dispensation.
3. The nobler privilege of New Testament believers.
10 “And, behold, I will give to thy servants, the hewers that cut timber,
twenty thousand measures of beaten wheat, and twenty thousand measures
of barley, and twenty thousand baths of wine, and twenty thousand baths of
oil.” Beaten wheat. In I Kings 5:11 the language is “wheat for food” (מַכֹּלֶת),
while the Septuagint gives καὶ μαχεὶρ – kai macheir. In our present passage
the Septuagint gives εἰς βρώματα – eis bromata - , suggesting at once that our
Hebrew מִכּות is an error for מַכֹּלֶת. The former Hebrew word is that
constantly employed for “plagues,” “strokes,” etc., and it is nowhere but in
this place rendered “beaten.” I will give to thy servants. This passage is
hard to reconcile with what is said in I Kings 5:11; but meantime it is
not certain that it needs to be reconciled with it. It is possible that the two
passages are distinct. The contents of the present verse, at all events, need
not be credited with any ambiguity, unless, indeed, we would wish it more
definite, whether the expression, “I will give to thy servants,” may not be
quite as correctly understood, “for thy servants,” i.e. to thee as the hire of
them. If this be so, it would enable us to give at once all the wheat, and
two hundred out of the 20,000 baths of oil, for the consumption, not of the
literal workmen, but of the royal household. Then this granted, the verse,
though not identical with I Kings 5:11, is brought into harmony with it.
Reverting to the statement in 1 Kings 5., what we learn is that Solomon, in
his application to Hiram, offers payment for the hire of his servants such as
he shall appoint (v. 6). Hiram’s reply is that he shall be satisfied to
receive as payment “food for his household” (v. 9), the amount of it and
the annual payment of it being specified in v. 11. This is the whole case,
the discrepancies in which are plain, but they do not amount to
contradictions. The appearance that is worn on the face of things is that the
writer in Chronicles gives what came to be the final arrangement as to
remuneration, though confessedly it is placed as much as the account in
Kings in the draft of Solomon’s original application to Hiram. Measures.
These were cors, and the cor was the same as the homer. From a
calculation of some doubtfulness, however, made under the suggestions of
I Kings 4:22, it has been said that the consumption of the royal
household of Solomon was above 32,000 measures. The cor, or homer,
was the largest of the five dry measures of capacity, being equal to 180
cabs, 100 omers, 30 seahe, 10 ephahs (see Dr. Smith’s ‘Bible Dictionary,’
3.1741), though what was the exact value of any one of these in modern
measures has only been uncertainly and very approximately arrived at.
Baths. The bath was the largest of the three liquid measures of capacity,
being equal to 6 hins and 72 logs (see same ‘Dictionary,’ 3:1740).
A Great Project: The Building of a
Ø Not new, but old. Not taken up by Solomon for the first time, but one
his father David had years before meditated, though not permitted to
execute it, because he had been “a man of war, and had shed blood”
(I Chronicles 28:3).
Ø Not self-devised, but delegated. Not assumed out of vanity or from
purely political motives, but handed down to him in circumstances of great
solemnity by his royal sire (ibid. vs. 1-10).
Ø Not sinful, but approved. Not “proceeding from the sight of the temple
service of the Phoenicians and Philistines and of their ostentatious cultus”
(Duncker), but commanded by Jehovah, who indicated His wish that it
should be carried forward to completion by David’s son (II Samuel 7:13)
Ø Not subordinate, but principal. Not after he had built a palace for
himself, a house for his kingdom, but before, so giving God and religion
the chief and foremost place in the thoughts of his mind and the activities
of his reign. “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness,” etc.
Ø The person informed. Huram, Hiram (1 King 5:1), Hirom (ibid. ch.7:40) —
probably the original (Schrader), Eἵρωμος - (Josephus, Contra
Apion, 1:17), Hirummu (Assyrian), Chirom (Phoenician). The name,
probably equivalent to Achirom, signifies “Brother or Friend of the
14:1), who had negotiations with him prior to the building of his palace
(II Samuel 5:11), and therefore before the birth of Solomon (ibid. ch. 11:2),
is disputed, chiefly on the ground that he must then have
reigned considerably over forty years, whereas Menander (Josephus,
‘Contra Apion,’ 1:18) assigns to Solomon’s friend a reign of thirty-four
years. But a reign of fifty years was not impossible either then (Uzziah,
here ch. 26:3; Manasseh, ch. 33:1) or
The proposal to regard Solomon’s friend as the son of David’s (Thenius,
Bertheau) is exposed to the difficulty that the father of Solomon’s friend
was Abibaal (Josephus) — a difficulty which may be removed by supposing
that Abibaal was a surname of the first Hiram, or that the first Hiram was the
father of Abibaal. There is, however, no sufficient ground for challenging the
identity of the two Hirams; and upon the whole it is as likely that Menander
and Josephus have erred as to the length of Hiram’s reign, as it is that the
Hebrew writers have confounded father and son.
Ø The communication made. “I build an house,” etc. Ancient kings were
wont to erect temples to their tutelary divinities. Urukh of Chaldea founded
of the moon at
3:9); while the magnificent shrines of
(Karnack), and Edfou were constructed by Egyptian Pharaohs “for the
the gods whose existence is for endless years” (Brugsch,
under the Pharaohs,’ 1:322). These may be used to illustrate the nature of
to be “great,” “exceeding magnifical, of fame and of glory throughout all
countries” (I Chronicles 22:5). A resplendent edifice, designed:
Ø For a lofty purpose. For the honor of a great God.
o An absolutely supreme God: “Great is our God above all gods”
(Deuteronomy 4:39; I Kings 8:23).
o An infinitely exalted God: “The heaven of heavens cannot contain
Him” (I Kings 8:27; Jeremiah 23:24).
o A personally accepted God. Solomon called Him “the Lord my God”
(v. 4). Theoretical theism is valueless; theism like David’s
(Psalm 63:1) alone profitable.
o A profoundly revered God: “Who is able to build Him a house?”
“Who am I, that I should build Him a house?” God should be
feared by all who approach Him (Deuteronomy 28:58; Joshua 24:14;
II Kings 17:36; Psalm 33:8; Matthew 10:28; II Corinthians 7:1;
Hebrews 12:28). Man never knows his own littleness till he examines
himself in the light of GOD’S GREATNESS!
o A truly national God: “The Lord our God.” Solomon conjoined his
people with himself. Christ taught His disciples to pray, “Our Father”
Ø For a noble use. Not to contain this immeasurably great and glorious
Divinity (ch. 6:18), seeing that Jehovah dwelleth not in temples made
with hands (Isaiah 66:1; Acts 7:47), but inhabiteth eternity (Isaiah 57:15),
and filleth heaven and earth with His presence (Jeremiah 23:24); but to be
a visible center for His worship, to be dedicated to Him for the burning before
Him of sweet incense, etc. Hitherto the people had sacrificed in local
sanctuaries (I Kings 3:2), Solomon himself being no exception (ch. 1:3;
I Kings 3:4); henceforth the nation’s sacrificial worship was to be
concentrated in the capital and to circulate round the temple. The different
parts of that worship here mentioned are those specified by Moses in
connection with the tabernacle.
o The burning of sweet incense (Exodus 25:6), which Aaron was
directed to do every morning and evening in the holy place
(ibid. ch. 30:7);
o the presentation of the shewbread (ibid. ch. 25:30); and
o the offering day by day continually of the burnt offering (ibid.
§ The first symbolized the adorations presented to Jehovah
by His worshippers (Revelation 5:13);
§ the second, the spiritual sustenance Jehovah provided for
His servants (Psalm 132:15);
§ the third, the self-consecration expected by Jehovah of all
whose sins were covered by sacrificial blood (Romans 12:1).
The assertion that in the first temple the evening offering was purely
cereal (Robertson Smith, ‘The Old Testament in the Jewish Church,’
p. 421) is without foundation (Thenius, on II Kings 16:15).
Ø The furnishing of workmen. (vs. 2, 18)
o Their number:
§ 70,000 burden-bearers or laborers,
§ 80,000 timber-hewers or skilled woodmen,
§ 3600 overseers or superintendents,
in all 153,600, quite an army of workmen. The discrepancy between
I Kings 5:16 and this account vanishes by observing that to the 3300
overseers in Kings falls to be added 550 chief officers (ibid. ch. 9:23),
while the 3600 of Chronicles require to be supplemented by 250 chief
officers (here - ch. 8:10), thus making both totals equal 3850. A gang
of 100,000 men, changed every three months, labored for ten years in
building a causeway along which to convey the stones for Cheops’
pyramid; and seven millions more men were needed to build the
itself (Birch, ‘
o Their orders — laborers, wood-cutters, overseers, chief officers. So
society on a larger scale is organized. The principle of division of
labor is of endless application.
“So work the honey bees;
Creatures that by a rule in nature teach
The act of order to a peopled kingdom.”
(‘King Henry V.,’ act 1. sc. 2.)
o Their station: “strangers in the land” (v. 17); i.e. descendants of the
unexter-minated Canaanites (ch. 8:7-8; I Kings 9:20-22). These had
David also appointed to be stone-cutters (I Chronicles 22:2).
Ø The securing of materials. In addition to the stores gathered and given
by his lately deceased father — gold, silver, brass, iron, wood, precious
stones (I Chronicles 29:2-5) — Solomon required cedar, fir, and algum
cedar was a rapidly growing, high-reaching, wide-spreading, and long-living
tree, whose beautiful white wood was much prized for architectural
purposes (ch. 3:5; I Kings 6:15; Jeremiah 22:14). The fir, often mentioned
in connection with the cedar (Isaiah 14:8; 37:24), was a “choice” and
“goodly” tree, whose wood was used for building ships and making
musical instruments (II Samuel 6:5), and was now to be employed for
flooring, ceiling, and doors in the temple (I Kings 6:15, 34). The algum,
probably the red sandalwood, fetched along with gold and precious stones
from Ophir (ch. 9:10-11; I Kings 10:11) by Solomon’s and Hiram’s fleets,
and here inaccurately
said to have grown in
for making pillars for the temple and the palace, as well as harps and
psalteries for singers. These different sorts of timber accordingly Solomon
sent for from Hiram, his father’s friend and his own (v. 3).
Ø The obtaining of a skilled artificer. This also he courteously solicited
from Hiram, whose subjects were the “artists” of the day (see homily on
‘The two Hirams’). Both requests were accompanied with a promise of
generous support to the workmen and the artist (v. 10), and both were
1. The highest glory of a king (or private person) is to seek the glory of
God (John 8:50).
2. Great undertakings, especially in religion and the Church, should be
gone about with deliberation, and only after due preparation (Luke 14:28).
3. The least service in connection with God’s house is honorable
4. The value of friendship (Proverbs 27:10).
5. Humble thoughts of self the best preparation for acceptable service of
God (II Corinthians 3:5).
6. The talents of unbelievers may be legitimately employed in the service of
the Church, seeing that “gifts” are from God, no less than “graces” (Job 32:8).
7. The Church should honorably requite those who aid in her undertakings,
since “the laborer is worthy of his hire” (Luke 10:7; I Timothy 5:18).
Human Labor (vs. 2-3,7-10)
Concerning the work in which we are engaged as men of action and
production, we have here four suggestions:
SUPPLIED US. We have mention made (v. 7) of different metals —
gold, silver, brass, iron; and this enumeration is far from being exhaustive.
We have reference (v. 8) to different trees; and these are only a reminder
of all the kinds of timber to be had in the forests of the earth. We have a
statement of articles of food (v. 10), representing various industries; and
these again are only suggestive of a large number at our command. The
Divine Author of our nature and Builder of our home has given us many
tastes and cravings; He has also supplied us with the most ample material
on which our skill and our labor can be expended, so that all our wants
and even our wishes may be supplied.
COOPERATION. Solomon had to negotiate with Hiram; the skilled
(vs. 3, 8). The servants of one sovereign had to “be with,” to co-operate with,
those of another, if the house was to be built. And not only had land to
work with land, but citizen with citizen, according to individual culture;
some had to “bear burdens,” others to “hew trees,” others to overlook both
of these workmen (v. 2). As one country produces valuable commodities
which another lacks; and as one man has a natural faculty of which another
is devoid; as the interchange of products and of industries is spreading
comfort and acquisition; — we are learning that God has so made this
earth and so constituted us, His children, that we may work together, and
make one another inheritors of the results of our thought and toil.
Commerce is not more human in its outworking than it is Divine in its
trained intelligence than manual labor itself involves (v. 2). And men
“cunning to work” and men that Had skill to hew (v. 8) were superior
workmen to those that did the labor of carrying. Work has its gradations;
it ascends in rank as it involves natural intelligence and sagacity, long and
careful training, faithfulness and trustworthiness.
AFTER US. (V. 30 Solomon invited Hiram to treat with him “as thou
didst deal with David my father.” And Hiram responded; for we read
(I Kings 5:1), “Hiram was ever a lover of David.” He found that he could
trust the King of Israel — that with him piety meant truthfulness and
equity. Thus David’s integrity made the path of Solomon smooth and easy;
it perhaps contributed as much to the work as the various materials he had
so carefully stored up for his son. It is impossible to reckon how much
thoroughness and uprightness in our labor have to do with our own real
success, and how much they do for those who come after us. In this way
one generation truly serves another. (Let us not forget the importance
of spiritual thought and concern: One generation shall praise God's
works to another and shall declare His mighty acts (Psalm 145:4)
and in so doing serves the next generation! (CY - 2016)
RECOMPENSE. (v. 10.) “The workman is worthy of his hire” (see
Luke 10:7; James 5:4).
great” (v. 9). Solomon meant to make it worthy, not only of himself and
his kingdom, but even, as far as that might be, of the Lord for whom it was
to be erected. It should be constructed of the best materials and with the
greatest skill he could command.
Ø What we do in the direct service of God has a distinct claim on our
highest faculties, on our largest resources. What we do for Christ should
be done at the full height of our capacity and opportunity. In His worship
and service we should be at our very best.
Ø ALL WORK as rendered unto God, should be done faithfully and heartily.
Into all the labor of our hands we should put our mind and our strength,
because EVERYTHING DONE IS IN THE PRESENCE OF THE
MASTER and should be done with a view to His approval.
11 “Then Huram the king of
Solomon, Because the LORD hath loved His people, He hath made
thee king over them. 12 Huram said moreover, Blessed be the LORD God
wise son, endued with prudence and understanding, that might build an
house for the LORD, and an house for his kingdom.” Huram… answered in
writing. It is impossible to argue with any but superficial plausibility that Solomon
had not used writing. In the parallel of Kings an identical expression is used for
the communications of both: “Solomon sent to Hiram” (v. 2), and “Hiram sent to
Solomon” (v. 8). The productions of the forms of this correspondence by Josephus
course, merely mythical. Because the Lord hath loved His people. This
beautiful expression has parallels, not only in such passages as ch. 9:8;
I Kings 10:9; but in such as Deuteronomy 7:13; 10:15; Psalm 47:4; 115:12;
Jeremiah 31:3; Hosea 11:1, 4. These were all precursors of the fuller assertion
and kinder demonstration of God’s love repeated so often and in such tender
connections in the Epistles of the New Testament. This verse and the following
are also testimony to the indirect influences on surrounding nations of the
knowledge of the one true Creator-God and Ruler-God, that was
domiciled by special revelation and oracle (Romans 3:2)
Where nations near were bitter foes, they often feared
whereas now they were friends they could summon to their lips the highest
of the outbursts of praise, not to say of adoration. The very noteworthy
sympathy of Hiram with
predilection for David (I Kings 5:1). And this again is convincing
testimony to the worth and usefulness of individual character which here
influenced the destiny of two whole nations.
God’s Care for the Country (v. 11)
“Because the Lord hath loved His people, He hath made thee king over
them.” We reach our subject by the remembrance of:
MONARCHY UP TO SOLOMON’S TIME. It has to be considered:
Ø That for a visible human sovereignty God held the people themselves
responsible. He did not impose it; nor did He suggest it; nor did He desire it;
on the other hand, by the mouth of His servant Samuel, He strongly
dissuaded from it (see I Samuel 8.).
Ø That, granting their request, God gave them a king on their own chosen
principle. They demanded a sovereign they could see and hear, one that
would be a king “after the flesh;” and on this fleshly and material principle
God selected one that had bodily advantages (see I Samuel 10:23-24).
(Is this the goal toward which Contemporary Christianity is gravitating? -
CY - 2016)
Ø That, when Saul failed, God had pity upon them, and gave them a man
after His own choice — a man who had, truly, some serious defects — as
who had not? — but who, by the fascination of his bearing, by the courage
and capacity of his leadership, by his unswerving loyalty to his God, bound
the nation together, overcame its numerous enemies, extended its borders,
and held it fast to the service of Jehovah. And now God had given to the
people David’s son, Solomon. And we look at:
THRONE. It was a Divine appointment, that made for:
Ø National piety. Solomon regarded as the great act of his reign the
“building a house for the Name of the Lord.” And the erection of the
temple and the subsequent arrangement of its services did much to bind the
people, not of
Jehovah. It promoted national piety by securing the adherence of the
people to the service of the true and living God. And this piety meant more
than worship; it meant purity also, a sound morality. For no man could be
an acceptable worshipper of Jehovah who did not renounce iniquity and
seek after righteousness and blamelessness of life.
Ø National peace. Solomon, true to his name, was a man of peace. The
nation had known enough of war under David; it required peace, and this
Solomon gave it. In this matter almost everything then and there depended
upon the character and spirit of the monarch. A war-like king would create
national hostilities; a peace-loving king ensured national rest from strife.
We know what war means; it may mean glory, enlargement, enrichment; it
must mean cruelty, passion, pain, death, desolation in heart and home; it
must mean an arrest laid upon national industry and enterprise. But by the
promotion of Solomon God was providing for:
Ø National industry. During his reign a great stimulus was given to the
industrial arts and to the commerce of the country. Israel opened its eyes to
see what it had not had any glimpse of before, and an immense stride was
taken in the path of civilization and production.
Thus God cared for the country which he had especially made His own.
Thus He cares for all countries, when He raises up men that seek the piety
(and with that the morality), the peace, the industry, of the people. Thus
shall we be truly working with God when we live to promote these great
causes. It is in these things that a nation finds its real prosperity; and he is
the faithful citizen of his native land who throws his influence, in every
open way, into these scales; it is he who truly loves and serves his country.
13 “And now I have sent a cunning man, endued with understanding,
of Huram my father’s,” Of Huram my father’s. The words of ch.4:11,16
would invest these with suspicion, if nothing that occurred before did,
as e.g. the parallel passage (I Kings 7:13-14, 40). There can be no
doubt from these passages that the name Huram of this verse is the name
of the workman sent (the lamed prefixed being only the objective sign), not
the supposed name of King Hiram’s father, which, as already seen, was
Abibaal. But the following word translated “my father” (אָבִי) is less easily
explained; ch. 4:16 (“his father”) is quite sufficient to
negate the rendering “father” altogether. In our text altogether
inappropriate, it may be called there altogether impossible. It has been
proposed to render it as a proper name Abi, or as an affix of honour, Ab,
equal to “master.” However, Gesenius (in ‘Lexicon,’ sub roe. אב (6),
which see) furnishes a signification, “chief counselor,’’ which (taking it to
mean chief counselor, or as it were expert, chief referee, or even only
foreman in such matters as might be in question) would well suit all the
passages, and remove all difficulty.
14 “The son of a woman of the daughters of Dan, and his father was a
in stone, and in timber, in purple, in blue, and in fine linen, and in
crimson; also to grave any manner of graving, and to find out every
device which shall be put to him, with thy cunning men, and with
the cunning men of my Lord David thy father.” Son of a woman… of Dan.
Both this and the parallel (I Kings 7:14) agree as to the father of this very clever
workman, that he was “a man
woman “of the tribe of Naphtali,” and calls her a “widow.” This must mean,
either that she was a
widow now, or that she was a widow when “the man of
married her. If this latter is the correct meaning, it has been suggested that,
though the mother was really a woman of the daughters of Dan, yet the husband
who, dying, left her a widow, was of the tribe of Naphtali, and that from
this she became credited with belonging to that tribe. It would seem not
altogether impossible that it may be intended to state, in a delicate way,
that this remarkably able man was the natural son of the widow in question,
“the man of
intermarriages of Danites and Phoenicians, see Blunt’s ‘Coincidences,’ pt.
2. 4. Skilful… to find out every device. (For the identical phrase, see
Exodus 31:4.) The present verse, exceeding in definiteness v. 7,
supra, undoubtedly purports on the face of it to ascribe a very wide range
of practical skill, and not merely general administrative and directing skill,
to Hiram. Note, however, the significance couched in the last clauses of
15 “Now therefore the wheat, and the barley, the oil, and the wine,
which my Lord hath spoken of, let him send unto his servants:”
The contents of this verse cannot be supposed to imply that
King Hiram is eager for the pay to be remembered, but are equivalent to
saying promptly that all things are ready to begin, and that therefore the
commissariat must be ready also.
The Two Hirams (vs. 11-15)
Ø His kingdom.
land of purple-dyeing.” “the land of the brown-red,” with reference to the
the skin of its inhabitants,
on the west by the Mediterranean, on the east by
uncertain, though usually fixed about Arvad, thus making in all a territory a
hundred and twenty miles long and twenty miles broad. “It is a liberal
estimate for the area to reckon it at four thousand square miles, which is
that of at least one English county, (Rawlinson, ‘
Nations,’ p. 2). Well watered by streams from
extremely fertile. In addition to cedars on the heights of
trees and vines clothed its slopes, whilst the valleys yielded an abundance
of palms, fat pasture, garden produce, and corn. Silicious earth for making
glass was found upon the coast, which also furnished the purple shells
necessary for dyeing. Iron and probably copper were obtained at Sarepta
and elsewhere (Riehm, Handworterbuch, art. Phoenicien ).
Ø His capital.
Sarra. The city is supposed to have been so called because of its having
been built — at least the insular part of it — upon a rock. Most likely
(Isaiah 23:7). Founded two hundred and forty years before the
of Solomon’s temple (Josephus, ‘
celebrated for its natural and artificial splendor (Ezekiel 27:3). Planted
in a pleasant place (Hosea 9:13), it was afterwards compared to “a
virgin bathing in the sea, a Tartessus ship swimming upon the ocean, an
shore, and a city in the sea” (Kitto’s ‘ Cyclopaedia,’ art. “
Ø His subjects. The men of
“skilful to work in gold, and in silver, in brass, in iron, in stone, and in
timber, in purple, in blue, and in fine linen, and in crimson,” they were
likewise merchants who traded with all parts of the then known world
(Ezekiel 27:1-36). As to physical characteristics, on the whole “the
Phoenicians probably, both in form and feature, very much resembled the
Jews who were their near neighbors, and who occasionally intermarried
with them (I Kings 11:1; 16:31; here v.14), while as to moral characteristics,
shared those of the
combined with iron fixedness of purpose; secondly, depth and force;
thirdly, a yearning for dreamy ease, together with a capacity for the
hardest work; fourthly, a love of abstract thought; and fifthly,
religiousness, together with an intensely spiritual conception of the
Deity” (Rawlinson, ‘Phoenicia,’ p. 25).
Ø His history. A son of Abibaal, the first King of Tyre, and a
contemporary as well as friend of both David and Solomon (see preceding
homily), he was clearly a man of culture. He could write, and in that
accomplishment many later kings, even in Christian times and in our own
land, have been deficient. Withred, King of Kent, A.D. 700, thus concluded
a charter to secure the liberties of the Church: “All the above dictated by
myself I have confirmed, and, because I cannot write, I have with mine
own hand expressed this by putting the sign of the holy cross + ‘ (Adam
Writing, however, had been introduced into
long before the days of Hiram (Rawlinson, ‘Phoenicia,’ p. 328). Whether
copies of the epistolary correspondence of Hiram and Solomon were
in “the public records of
doubtful, but no ground exists for challenging the accuracy of the biblical
account that both Solomon and Hiram could write.
Ø His character. Originally a worshipper of Baal, and a restorer of the
temple of the sun-god, he appears to have become an enlightened and
sincere follower of Jehovah, whom he recognizes as not merely the
(v.12). That he was courteous and kind, his friendship both with David and
Solomon attests. That he was a shrewd man of business, who could look
well after his own interest, shines out by no means dimly in the hint given
to Solomon to forward “the wheat and the barley, the oil and the wine,
which my lord had spoken of,” when he would see to the felling of the
timber (vs. 15-16).
Ø His parentage. The son of a Tyrian brass-worker, and of a Danite
widow belonging to the tribe of Naphtali.(v. 14; I Kings 7:14), he
was probably on this account selected by the aged sovereign as one likely
to be acceptable to the Hebrew monarch and his people. The discrepancy
as to the tribe from which Hiram’s mother proceeded may be removed by
supposing that she was originally a Danite maiden, whose first husband
belonged to the tribe of Naphtali, and whose second was a Tyrian.
Ø His profession. A sort of universal genius, who had skill and
understanding to find out every device put before him — like the artist
Harmon, of whom Homer (‘Iliad,’ 5:59, 60) says that he “knew how to
form with his hands all ingenious things.” “As Theodore of Samos was an
architect, a caster of works in bronze, an engraver of signets, and a maker
of minute works in the precious metals, as Michael Angelo Buonarotti was
at once a painter, a sculptor, an architect, and a worker in bronze”
(Rawlinson, ‘Phoenicia,’ p. 97), so Hiram of Tyre, like Bezaleel
(Exodus 31:4), was goldsmith, silversmith, brazier, iron-worker,
stonecarver, wood-engraver, linen-weaver, all in one.
Ø His renown. On account of professional eminence the king had dignified
him with the title Abi, “my father,” which meant “master;” in the sense
that he was both master of his work and master of works for the king, as
afterwards he is styled Solomon’s father (ch. 4:16), because
he manufactured for Solomon the vessels for the house of the Lord.
Compare Joseph’s calling himself “a father,” i.e. a master or manager,
“to Pharaoh” (Genesis 45:8).
Ø The highest office of a king — to promote the material, intellectual, and
religious prosperity of his people.
Ø The proper duty of friendship — to rejoice in the welfare, co-operate in
the undertakings, and reciprocate the courtesies of others.
Ø The noblest service of art — to consecrate its genius to THE GLORY
OF GOD and the advancement of true religion.
16 “And we
will cut wood out of
and we will bring it to thee in floats by sea to Joppa; and thou shalt
carry it up to
is referred to by Pliny (‘Hist. Nat.,’ 5:13), as “Joppa Phoenicum, antiquior
terrarum inundatione, ut ferunt.” Its name (יָפו - “beauty”) is said to have
been justified by the beautiful groves in its neighborhood. It is mentioned
Joshua 19:46 as Japho, where also we learn the circumstances under
which the Dan tribe were possessed of it. It is remarkable that it is not
mentioned again till our present verse, not even in the parallel (I Kings
5:9). But it appears again in Ezra 3:7; Jonah 1:3, and in several
places in the Acts of the Apostles. The modern name of it is Joffa, and it is
not reputed as a good port now. It was distant from Jerusalem some thirty-four
miles. The carriage of the timber this road-journey is nowhere
described in detail, nor is the exact spot of the coast
mentioned where the floats were made, and thence dispatched.
17 “And Solomon numbered all the strangers that were in the land of Israel,
after the numbering wherewith David his father had numbered them; and
they were found an hundred and fifty thousand and three thousand and six
hundred.” Strangers. By these are meant those of the former inhabitants
and possessors of the land, who had not been extirpated or driven out.
Special regulations respecting them are recorded in Judges 1:21-28,33-36.
But these had largely lapsed till, as it appears, David revived them
rather trenchantly, and David is now followed by Solomon (ch. 8:7-8;
I Kings 9:20-21). The very much milder enforcement of labor upon the
Israelites themselves is evident from I Kings 5:13-16. After the numbering
wherewith David his father had numbered them. Of this transaction on the part
of David we do not possess any absolutely distinct statement. But the place of it
is sufficiently evident, as indicated in I Chronicles 22:2.
18 “And he set threescore and ten thousand of them to be bearers of
burdens, and fourscore thousand to be hewers in the mountain, and
three thousand and six hundred overseers to set the people a work.”
Three thousand and six hundred. Adding to these the 250 of ch. 8:10, infra,
the total 3850 of I Kings 5:16 is exactly reached. That total, however, is
reached by a somewhat different classification, the division being into 3300
“strangers,” and 500 “chief of the officers” (I Kings 9:23). The explanation
probably is that of the 3600 “stranger” overseers, the small proportion of 300
were of much higher grade in office than the rest, and were ranked by the writer
in Kings with those overseers (250) of Solomon, who were probably Israelites.
Methods of Religious Enterprise (vs. 1-18)
HIS RESOLUTION OR DETERMINATION. “Solomon determined.”
The enterprise “of building a house to the Name of the Lord” had been set
before him. He knew it had been in his father’s mind. He had heard it in the
earnest tones of a father’s prayer. He had listened to the urgent, loving,
proud tones of a father’s charge to a son. He had, no doubt, said “Yes”
with lip and heart. But now after coronation, vision, prayer, and gracious
promise, he takes up the enterprise, and lifts up the responsibility, and
makes the resolution all his own.
ACTUAL WORK. Resolutions there have often been, and strong ones,
determinations alike deliberate and enthusiastic, which nevertheless have
gone the same way by which, to a proverb, mere good intentions so very
frequently go! Solomon’s immediate setting to work is by far the simplest,
surest safeguard. He makes the preparations nearest to hand, and that were
within his own command. He seeks the help of others at a distance, both
forecasting his own needs for the work, and also drawing upon memories
of his father’s doings and his father’s experiences.
AGAINST THAT FERTILE SOURCE OF FAILURE THAT COMES OF
STUMBLING ON THE THRESHOLD. Early disappointments go a long
way toward disheartenment. And early disappointments originate most
frequently in one or both of two causes — viz,:
Ø in letting things drift, go by default, or take their own chance; or, on
the other hand,
Ø in a busy disorder.
Many a promising work of a man of good intention has been wrecked in
these ways. But here there was order in what Solomon did at home, and
distinctness and order in what he asked for far away from home. And it all
told. All helped him and his work to find favor with God and man.
QUALITIES WHICH SOLOMON EXHIBITS, as shown in:
Ø The great respect he has to “the ordinance for ever to Israel,” which
centered in “the house to the Name of the Lord,” to be dedicated to
Him, with all its various services (v. 4).
Ø The humble estimate he rightly entertains of himself, in all comparison of
the work which he had to do, and him for whom it was to be done (vs. 5-6).
Lessons from the Laborers (vs. 13-18)
The interesting particulars we have of the labors of building the temple
give us a variety of suggestions.
Ø Of blood. The principal architect and engineer supplied by King Hiram
was a man of
mixed blood; his father was a man of
was a Jewess (see I Kings 7:14), and he appears to have been a man of
unusual ability. The mixture of races is proved to be of a very distinct
advantage, and we may be very thankful that the discords and contentions
of our early history resulted in the mingling of the virtues of Saxon, Celt,
and Roman in the English of our own time.
Ø Of labor. “I have sent a cunning man.., to find out every device… with
thy cunning men” (v. 14). International exchange and co-operation are of
immense value, and will prove to be more and more so as the nations open
their doors, and all peoples meet and mingle together (see homily on vs.
the variety of material with which God has supplied us we find a striking
instance of His creative kindness. It is conceivable that He might have
placed us on a planet which had little elemental variety, and which did not
therefore admit of many combinations. But on this earth there is practically
no limit to the variety of productions, by the putting forth of our
observation, ingenuity, and skill. (This is a part of the original command
to subdue the earth - Genesis 1:28 – CY – 2016) Herein we have very much
more, and very much better, than a provision for our comforts; we have an
effective appeal to our intelligence, a constant development of our intellectual
powers, an elevation of our manhood. It is a rich and noble home, furnished
with everything that meets the needs of our complex nature, in which our
heavenly Father has placed us.
(v. 16.) At that time and in that country men had learned to
hew down the tall trees, to cut and carve them into what size and shape
they liked, to carry them across the land, and to employ the sea as a
highway. “We will bring it to thee in floats by sea.” The sea, with its depth
and breadth, with its swelling billows and its fearful storms, may well have
been regarded at first as an impassable barrier between land and land, as a
decisive limit put upon our progress. But we have made it a common
highway on which to travel, by which to transport our treasures, and we
can map our route and calculate our time with nearly as much regularity as
on the still and solid land. Indeed, we can rule the elements of nature much
more readily and constantly than we can govern the forces within our own
breast. These too often baffle our skill and defeat our purpose. Our
greatest difficulty and truest triumph is in turning to good account the
elements of our own human nature.
(vs. 17-18.) Solomon employed “the strangers” to do the triple work,
here specified, in the temple-building. Moreover, he had recourse to the
well as Jews engaged in this work which we may regard as the work of the
Lord. Between that event and the present time there was to come a long
period of exclusiveness which manifested itself in most ungracious forms in
the days of our Lord. But this co-operation of those without and those
within the sacred pale is predictive of the glorious breadth of these later
times, when, IN CHRIST JESUS, there is neither Jew nor Gentile,
barbarian nor Scythian, bond nor free. (Colossians 3:11) There is an
absolutely open way
into the broad field of holy usefulness.
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