II Chronicles 8

 

 

This interesting historical chapter may very well be described as by

Professor Dr. James G. Murphy, in his ‘Bible-Class Handbook,’ “The Acts

of Solomon,” or at any rate, some of the miscellaneous acts, for which time

was found now that the “two houses” were out of hand.

 

1 “And it came to pass at the end of twenty years, wherein Solomon

had built the house of the LORD, and his own house,”

(parallel, I Kings 9:10). — Twenty years, wherein Solomon

had built the house of the Lord, and his own house. The description is

intended to be, what it is, chronologically exact. Four years of Solomon

had passed when he began the Lord’s house, seven were spent in building

it, thirteen in finishing and furnishing it, and in building, finishing, and

furnishing the king’s house — in all twenty-four years.

 

2 “That the cities which Huram had restored to Solomon, Solomon built them,

and caused the children of Israel to dwell there.” The cities which Huram had

restored to Solomon. I Kings 9:11 explains the force of the word “restored” here,

telling how it was Hiram had come by “twenty cities in the land of Galilee by

way of payment, or part payment, for the “cedar,” “fir,” and “gold” which he

had given Solomon. It is evident that these cities were in need of repair;

possibly they had not been previously in the occupation of the Israelites; if

they had been, the transaction was scarcely legitimate on the part of

Solomon), and we may suppose they had become largely deserted when

made over to Hiram. It would not, however, be necessary to suppose either

that Solomon had given them because they were poor property in his eyes,

or that Hiram, whose good will and generous disposition are elsewhere

specially notified, had returned them as a thankless gift or as a bad payment,

but for the language of vs. 12-13 (I Kings 9.), which distinctly tells us that when

Hiram inspected them they  did “not please him,” and that he named them

the land of Oabul (margin:  displeasing; dirty). The probability is that,

as cities on the borderland, they were what had been at present unoccupied

by Israelites, were all the likelier in bad repair, and, unvalued by Hiram,

were, when put into good repair by Solomon, such that Solomon might

justly cause the children of Israel to dwell in them.

 

3 “And Solomon went to Hamathzobah, and prevailed against it.”

Hamath-zobah. Hamath (when the name occurs separately)

was a place both of great geographical note (occupying, whether regarded

as a larger region or a town, an important position in the northern end of

that broad valley of Coele-Syria which separates Lebanon and Antilebanon,

and through which passed the river Orontes) and of great historical note

from the time of the Exodus to that of Amos. The town, or city, is to be

understood to be the Great Hamath (Amos 6:2). But the kingdom, or

district, or county, was almost conterminous with Coele-Syria. Zobah, also

a portion of Syria, amounted to a small kingdom, and is read of alike in

Saul’s and in David’s times, as in Solomon’s time. It probably lay to the

northeast of Hamath (I Samuel 14:47; II Samuel 8:3, 7-8, 10;

10:9, 16, 19; I Chronicles 18:4; 19:16). But Hamath-zobah of this

verse was probably a place called Hamath, in the region of Zobah, in which

also two other cities are mentioned, Berothai and Tibhath, or Betah (II

Samuel 8:8; I Chronicles 18:8). These two kingdoms of Hamath and

Zobah, contiguous as they were, seem as though they purposed to

compliment one another — Zobah by naming one of its towns Hamath, and

vice versa It is said that the Assyrian inscriptions show that they remained,

after Solomon, distinct kingdoms.

 

4 “And he built Tadmor in the wilderness, and all the store cities, which he

built in Hamath.” Tadmor in the wilderness. Tadmor, one with the classical

Palmyra, lay in the desert of Syria, about half-way between the rivers

Orontes and Euphrates, and distant from Damascus about a hundred and

forty miles to its east-north-east. Stanley (‘Sinai and Palestine,’ p. 8, note

1) says, “Is it quite certain that ‘Tadmor’ and ‘Palmyra’ are words derived

from the (palms)? A palm is in Hebrew tamar… and in Greek… phoenix.

Solomon was probably not the originator, but rather re-builder, of the

place. Its fame was great under Zenobia, the Queen of Odenathus; she was

taken captive by the Emperor Aurelian, A.D. 273, when the city was

subdued. It is now little better than the haunt of a few Arabs.  Splendid ruins

remain, specially of the great temple of the sun. The Hebrew text of I Kings 9:18

has apparently Tamer, or Tamar, and it has been suggested by

Movers on that passage that possibly a Tamar in the south, and that is

found in the neighborhood of some of the other places, such as Baalath,

Beth-heron, and Gezer, all in the south (Ezekiel 47:19; 48:28),

is intended. Our text, however, in the present place offers no choice,

while that in Kings (compare Chethiv and Keri) is doubtful. And finally,

our writer is here evidently in the neighborhood of Hamath, which of

course best suits Tadmor. Although there is an apparent disjointedness

between this and the parallel, closer notice may rather bring confirmation

of substantial agreement between them. For instance, the store cities here

spoken of as belonging to Hamath (but not individually named here and not

corresponding with those that are named in Kings) are accounted for by

the words, “and in Lebanon,” in I Kings 9:19.

 

5 “Also he built Bethhoron the upper, and Bethhoron the nether, fenced cities,

with walls, gates, and bars;”  Beth-heron the upper… Beth-heron the nether.

The parallel mentions only the latter (I Kings 9:17). They were both in Ephraim

(I Chronicles 7:24; Joshua 10:10-11; 16:1-6; 18:13-14), but were

assigned to the Kohathite Levites (Joshua 21:22; I Chronicles 6:68).

The name means “the hollow place.” The upper Beth-heron was

about four miles from Gibeon, and the lower about three miles further on.

The Roman general Cestius Gallus was defeated here in the last Jewish

war; Judas Maccabaeus conquered here (I Maccabees 3:18-25). Other

interesting references may be made to I Samuel 13:18; I Kings 9:7;

here ch.25:18.

 

6 “And Baalath, and all the store cities that Solomon had, and all the

chariot cities, and the cities of the horsemen, and all that Solomon

desired to build in Jerusalem, and in Lebanon, and throughout all

the land of his dominion.”  Baalath (parallel I Kings 9:18). This place belonged

to Dan (Joshua 19:40-45). Nothing is known about it; some take it to be one

with Baalah of Joshua 15:9-10. Store cities… chariot cities… cities

of the horsemen (see chps. 16:4; 32:28; I Kings 4:26; 9:19). In the parallel

some of the names of the places built, or rebuilt, or repaired by Solomon in

this connection are given as “Millo and the wall of Jerusalem” (Millo’s

foundations occupied the hollow at the southwest corner of the hill of the temple),

and Hazer and Megiddo and Gezer(I Kings 9:15). All that Solomon desired

to build; i.e. for purposes of personal enjoyment or ornament.

 

 

Wise Work (vs. 1-6)

 

David had done excellent work for his country by uniting all the tribes of

Israel in a strong band of attachment to himself, and thus to one another;

also in defeating and subjecting the neighboring powers, and thus giving

peace and tranquility to the nation. Solomon, coming after him, seconded

and sustained him, not by acting on the same lines, but by “a new

departure.” We very often show the truest regard to those who have been

before us by illustrating their spirit in a very different method from that

which they adopted. Solomon, like the wise man he was, set about

building. He “built the house of the Lord and his own house” (v. 1),

taking time and building well. He then built cities, which were either

strongholds or emporiums, serving useful purposes in war or in peace. He

seems to have accomplished much by so doing.

 

  • WHAT SOLOMON ACHIEVED BY BUILDING.

 

Ø      He increased the security of his dominions. Those “fenced cities, with

walls, gates, and bars,” must have added considerably to the defensive

power of Israel.

 

Ø      He took effectual means for the enrichment of the country. The “store

citieswould do much to promote communication and trade with other

states, would increase his imports and exports.

 

Ø      He immortalized himself. He caused his name to be associated with

many places that for long centuries remembered him as their founder, and

with one city (Tadmar) that will never be forgotten.

 

Ø      He made a deep mark on the future. Some of these cities have absolutely

perished; the ruins of one of them still remain. It is impossible to say how

much his enterprise had to do, but it certainly had much, with the brilliance,

the power, and the political and moral influence of Palmyra. The effects of

this building went far beyond the satisfaction of the desire of his heart

(v. 6); they reached to remote centuries, and told upon people that were afar

off.

 

  • WHAT IS OPEN TO US TO ACCOMPLISH.

 

Ø      The structure it is possible we may raise. This may be a house in the

sense of a family (see II Samuel 7:11); or it may be a house in the sense

of a business establishment; or it may be a church, wherein God shall be

worshipped and His Son exalted for many generations; or it may be a

society which shall receive and sustain many hundreds of human hearts.

One thing there is we may all be building, and are indeed all bound to build

with utmost care — a human character; a character which shall be fair in

its proportions, rich in its equipments, and strong in its defense against all

assault.

 

Ø      The moral and spiritual materials with which, or of which, we should

build. These are:

 

o        uprightness,

o        truth,

o        patience,

o        courage,

o        persistency.

 

Ø      The spirit in which we should work. This is the spirit of obedience, of

resignation, of devotedness; so that we are not seeking our own personal

aggrandizement, but the honor of our Divine Lord.

 

 

Solomon’s Building Operations (vs. 1-6)

 

 

  • PALACE-BUILDING. Like Seti I., Rameses II., and other Pharaohs

(Brugsch, ‘Egypt,’ etc., 2:14), like Uruk, Kham-murabi, and other early

Chaldean kings (‘Records of the Past,’ 1:8; 3:9), like ancient Oriental

monarchs generally, Solomon was a great builder. The first twenty years of

his reign were occupied in erecting “palaces,” or royal residences.

 

Ø      A house for Jehovah, the King of kings, i.e. the temple on Moriah,

which required seven years for erection (I Kings 6:37-38). In

according precedence to the temple, Solomon acted both becomingly and

rightly. In all undertakings, national, political, social, commercial, as well

as individual and religious, not only should God’s glory be the governing

aim (I Corinthians 10:31). but God’s claims should receive the earliest

recognition. God first and self second (not vice versa) is the true order,

whatever the business in which man engages. “Honour the Lord with the

firstfruits of thine increase” (Proverbs 3:9); “Seek first the kingdom of

God and-his righteousness” (Matthew 6:33). A recently published

memoir furnishes the following illustration: “‘Before we began business.’

writes a Christian merchant of his deceased partner, ‘we had naturally to

arrange articles of partnership. I remember with what earnestness he

proposed that we should set aside a certain percentage of our profits for

religious and benevolent purposes before any division was made among the

partners. His wish was cordially assented to, but the generous purpose

originated with him” (‘Alexander Balfour: a Memoir,’ by R. H. Lundie,

M.A., pp. 37, 38).

 

Ø      A house for himself, Solomon, the King of Israel, the vicegerent and

representative of Jehovah in the midst of the theocratic nation (I Kings

7:1-2). Though kings as well as other men may be sinfully prodigal in

personal expenditure, in the mansions they dwell in, the luxury they revel

in, and the pageantry they appear in, it is nevertheless not demanded by

religion either that all should stand upon a level of equality in respect of”

manner of life,” or that any should practise asceticism. Each station in

society has a corresponding “fitness of living,” which Christianity allows,

and prudence should attempt to discover and maintain. If beggars cannot

live in palaces, kings are not expected to dwell in hovels.

 

Ø      A house for the daughter of Pharaoh, whom Solomon had espoused in

the beginning of his reign (I Kings 7:8), and had hitherto lodged in the

city of David (ibid. ch.3:1) until a permanent abode for her should be

erected. This Pharaoh is supposed to have been Pashebensba II., the last of

the Tanitic or twenty-first dynasty (Lenormant, Winer, Kleinert in Riehm’s

Handworterbuch’), though a claim has been advanced for an earlier

potentate of that line, either Pashebensha I. or Pinetem II. (Rawlinson,

Egypt and Babylon,’ p. 331). That he should have given his daughter to

Solomon is not surprising when the weakness of the Tanitic dynasty is

remembered, and receives confirmation from the fact that an earlier

Pharaoh married his daughter Bithia to an ordinary Israelite (I Chronicles

4:18). As a dowry for his daughter, Gezer (Joshua 12:12),

an old Canaanitish town whose king, Horam, was slain by Joshua

(ibid. ch.10:33), without being itself destroyed, and whose inhabitants

were not expelled, but only made tributary (ibid. ch. 16:10), was

conquered by the Egyptian monarch and presented to Solomon. Sargon (of

Assyria) tells us in one of his inscriptions that, having conquered the

country of Cilicia with some difficulty, on account of its great natural

strength, he made it over to Ambris, King of Tubal, who had married one

of his daughters, as the princess’s dowry. (Rawlinson, Egypt and

Babylon,’ p. 331). On first marrying the princess, Solomon lodged her in a

separate house in the city of David, until this residence was ready for her

reception in connection with his own palace (see homily on v. 11).

 

  • CITY-BUILDING. The subsequent years of Solomon’s reign were so

employed.

 

Ø      Old cities repaired. (v. 2.) In the north-west of Galilee, not far from

Tyre. Either they were those Solomon offered to Hiram in payment for the

building material, timber and gold, received from him (I Kings 9:10-14),

and Hiram declined to accept (Keil), as either an insufficient

recompense, being in his estimation mean and contemptible, whence he

called them Cabul (Josephus, 8:5. 3), or as being unsuitable to the

commercial habits of his subjects (Jamieson); or they were towns Hiram

gave to Solomon in exchange for those he had obtained from Solomon

(Jewish interpreters). That the Chronicler has transformed the statement in

Kings, because it seemed to him inconceivable that Solomon should have

parted with twenty cities standing on Israelitish soil (Bertheau), while a

possible hypothesis, is not demonstrable. These towns Solomon, having

first wrested them from the Canaanites, repaired and peopled with the

children of Israel, to whom, in virtue of God’s promise, they really belonged.

 

Ø      New cities founded.

 

o        Tadmor, or Tamar, “a palm tree” (I Kings 9:18). in the wilderness,

identified with the rich and flourishing city of Palmyra, “the city of

palms,” in the Syrian desert (Bertheau, Keil, Jamieson), distant

two days’ journey from the Upper Syria, and one day’s journey

from Euphrates, and six long days’ journey from Babylon” (Josephus ‘

Ant.’ 8. 6. 1), and still called by the Damascenes Tadmor (Conder,

‘Handbook to the Bible,’ p, 281); though Tamar, mentioned in Ezekiel

47:19; 48:28) as forming part of the southern boundary of Palestine,

has been claimed as the Tadmor here alluded to (Thenius, Bahr,

Schrader), on the ground that in I Kings 9:17-18 the building of

Tamar is associated with the building of Gezer, Beth-heron, and

Baalath, and that Tamar is stated to have been in the wilderness in

the land. But the first of these arguments is not conclusive,

while the second has force only if Palestine, and not Hamath, is

the land meant. (For a description of Tadmor or Palmyra, see Biblical

Cyclopsaedias.)

 

Ø      Existing cities fortified.

 

o        Beth-heron, or “the house of the narrow way,” an old double town of

Ephraim, said to have been built by Sheerah, a daughter or descendant

of Ephraim (I Chronicles 7:24); but as the two Beth-horons, the present

Beit-ur-el-Foka and Taehta (Robinson), the upper and the lower,

situated in the tribe of Ephraim on the borders of Benjamin, existed in

the days of Joshua, it is probable that Sheerah was “an heiress

who had received these places as her inheritance, and caused them to

be enlarged by her family” (Keil). Solomon transformed them into

garrison cities, with walls, gates, and bars.

 

o        Baalah, a town in the tribe of Dan (Joshua 19:44), not far from

Beth-horon and Gezer (Josephus), perhaps the modern village Belain

(Conder). Though mentioned along with Tadmor, there is no ground

for identifying it with Baal-bec or Heliopolis (Ritter and others). This

also the king fortified to protect his kingdom against the Philistines.

 

Ø      Store cities, etc., erected.

 

o        In Hamath-zobah, which Solomon conquered (v. 3). This territory

comprised the well-known town Hamath on the Orontes, ruled over

by Ton, and the adjoining state of Zobah, whose king, Hadar-ezer,

David smote when he went to establish his dominion by the river

Euphrates (I Chronicles 18:3). Both kings appear to have been

rendered tributary to the Israelitish throne as the result of that

expedition, and their territories practically annexed to the Israeli

dominions under the composite name employed by the Chronicler.

 

o        In Palestine proper (v. 6). These “store cities “were not so much

depots of merchandise (Ewald, Jamieson) as magazines for victuals,

laid up for the convenience of travelers and their beasts (Bertheau),

perhaps also for materials of war to aid in the protection of the

empire (Bahr). Along with these were chariot cities (ch.1:14), and

cities for the horsemen, probably not different from the former

(see ch. 9:25; I Kings 10:26).

 

7 “As for all the people that were left of the Hittites, and the

Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites,

which were not of Israel,  8 But of their children, who were left after

them in the land, whom the children of Israel consumed not, them did

Solomon make to pay tribute until this day.  9 But of the children of

Israel did Solomon make no servants for his work; but they were

men of war, and chief of his captains, and captains of his chariots

and horsemen.  10 And these were the chief of king Solomon’s officers,

even two hundred and fifty, that bare rule over the people.”

These verses, corresponding very nearly exactly with the

parallel (I Kings 9:20-23), betray how it was a thing never to be

forgotten, if only as a fact, that the extermination of the old possessors of

the land had not been entire; so that allusion to it is not omitted even by a

post-Captivity compiler. The parallel charitably “whom the children of

Israel were not able to destroy utterly,” where our text shows with exacter

fidelity, whom the children of Israel consumed not. The parallel also

uses the words, “levy a tribute of bond-service,” for our more ambiguous

make to pay tribute (Judges 3:1-7). In the words, until this day, the

copyist, shall we say, too slavish, is again detected (v. 9). The “levy” in

v. 21 of the parallel probably explains the suddenly mentioned similar

language of its fifteenth verse, and again betrays the collected and copied

nature of the historic material, the carefulness of sequence not being as

observable in selection as might be desired. The distinction between the

remnant of aliens and the people of Israel was manifestly that the menial

and the laborious service was put on the former. Useful but familiar

references to this whole subject are found in Judges 1:21-36; 3:1-5;

I Chronicles 22:2; I Kings 5:13-18. For our two hundred and fifty

(which gives the number of overseers over Israelites only) the parallel

reads, “five hundred and fifty.” It will be remembered that an analogous

difference occurs between our ch. 2:18 and I Kings 5:16.  Whether it were

the determining reason or not in these two places, it is very imaginable that

it would be of less importance in the ages of the post- Captivity annalist to

dwell on the minutiae of the different treatment of the aliens.

 

 

The Subjects of Solomon (vs. 7-10)

 

  • NON-ISRAELITES.

 

Ø      Their nationalities. Descendants of five of the seven nations in the

promised land anterior to the conquest, remnants of which were left instead

of being utterly consumed as enjoined by Moses (Deuteronomy 7:1-6).

 

o        The Hittites, sons or descendants of Heth, the second son of Canaan

(Genesis 10:15), who in Abraham’s time dwelt in and around Hebron

(ibid. ch. 26:34), in Moses’, along with the Amorites and Jebusites,

occupied the mountains of Judah and Ephraim (Numbers 13:29), and in

Solomon’s, resided north of Palestine (I Kings 9:20; 10:29; 11:1;

II Kings 7:6). Identified with the Cheta of the Egyptian monuments

(Ebers, ‘Egypt and the Books of Moses,’ pp. 285, 286), and the Chatti

of the cuneiform inscriptions (Sehrader, ‘Die Keilinschriften,’ p. 107,

etc.), they have finally been discovered by Sayce (‘Fresh Light from

the Ancient Monuments,’ p. 5) and Brugsch (‘Egypt,’ etc., 1:338) to

be a large and powerful nation “whose two chief seats were at Kadesh

on the Orontes, and Carchemish on the Euphrates.” Ebers and Schrader

doubt whether the northern belonged to the same family as the southern

Hittites; but evidence tends to the conclusion that they did. “That the

Hittites formed part of the Hykses forces, and that some of them,

instead of entering Egypt, remained behind in Southern Canaan,” is

confirmed by the statement of Manetho, that Jerusalem was founded

by the Hyksos after their expulsion from Egypt, and by that of Ezekiel

(Ezekiel 16:3) that Jerusalem had a Hittite mother (Sayce). Traces of

their existence have been left in two places in Palestine — in Hattin,

the old Caphar Hittai of the Talmud, above the Sea of Galilee; and

in Kerr Hatta, north of Jerusalem (Conder, ‘Handbook to the Bible,’

p. 235).

 

o        The Amorites. Mountaineers, as the name imports, found on both

sides of the Jordan, from north to south of Palestine, though their

principal habitat was the Judaean mountains (Genesis 14:13,17,24;

Numbers 13:29; Joshua 10:5), they were among the most powerful

of the ancient Canaanitish tribes. Mamre, an Amorite chieftain, with

two brothers, was confederate with Abraham (Genesis 14:13).

 

o        The Perizzites. Either highlanders or dwellers in the hills and woods

of Palestine (Josephus), or rustics living in the open country and in

villages, as opposed to the Canaanites, who occupied walled towns

(Kalisch) — if they were not, rather, a tribe of wandering nomads

whose origin is lost in obscurity (Keil) — they were found by Abraham

in the center of Palestine (Genesis 13:7), and by Joshua in Lower

Galilee (Joshua 17:15). A trace of them has been found in the present

village of Ferasin, north-west of Sbechem (Conder, ‘Handbook to the

Bible,’ p. 235).

 

o        The Hivites. Translated “villager” (Gesenius), or “midlander” (Ewald),

the one of which renderings is as good as the other, since both are

conjectural, the Hivite is first heard of in the time of Jacob as a settler

near Shechem (Genesis 34:2), and afterwards in Joshua’s day further

south at Gibeon (Joshua 9:1, 7), though Hermon, in the land of Mizpeh

(Joshua 11:3), and Mount Lebanon (Judges 3:3) were probably their

principal abodes.

 

o        Jebusites. A primitive branch of the Canaanites, who held the country

round Jerusalem as far down as the time of David (II Samuel 5:6-7).

At the period of the conquest their king was Adonibezek, or “Lord of

righteousness (Joshua 10:1).

 

Ø      Their condition. Practically bond-servants, paying tribute to Solomon,

they had no part in the civil commonwealth or religious theocracy of Israel.

They illustrate the relation in which the world’s inhabitants stand to the

Church. Those have no share in this; yet to this, against their will, they pay

tribute and render important service — compelled, not by Christians, but

by the King of Christians, who maketh all things on earth subserve the

Church according to the counsel of his will (Ephesians 1:11, 22; Daniel 7:14).

 

Ø      Their occupation. The working-class population of those days, the

artisans and laborers, Solomon employed them in the construction of his

temple, palaces, and cities, just as the Pharaohs of former times had

employed the progenitors of his people in making bricks and erecting store

cities in the land of Ham (Exodus 1:11). It was the custom then and

long after to subject prisoners of war and the populations of conquered

territories to servile work. Thothmes III. of Egypt carried laborers captive

to build the temple of his father Amon (Wilkinson, ‘Ancient Egyptians,’

1:344: 1878). The employment of foreign captives in such tasks was an

ancient practice in Egypt (Brugsch, ‘Egypt,’ etc., 1:417). An inscription of

Esarhaddon states that the custom prevailed in Assyria, he himself saying

of his captives from foreign lands, “I caused crowds of them to work in

fetters in making brick” (‘Records of the Past,’ 3:120). Not even Solomon,

and far less the Pharaohs of Egypt or the kings of Assyria, were acquainted

with the golden rule.

 

  • ISRAELITES.

 

Ø      Their ancestry. Descendants of the twelve tribes, whose heads were the

sons of Israel, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham, their ancestry was

honored as well as ancient.

 

Ø      Their industry. The warriors of the kingdom, they did the fighting

needful for the empire’s protection and extension. Judged by the Christian

standard, war is always an evil and often a sin; but in certain stages of

civilization it appears to be inevitable, if neither necessary nor excusable.

 

Ø      Their dignity. From them were chosen the officers of the king’s army,

the captains of his chariots and of his horsemen, the chiefs of his officers,

and the superintendents of his workmen (I Kings 9:22).

 

  • LESSONS.

 

Ø      The sin of slavery.

Ø      The dignity of labor.

Ø      The nobility of free men.

 

11 “And Solomon brought up the daughter of Pharaoh out of the city of

David unto the house that he had built for her: for he said, My wife

shall not dwell in the house of David king of Israel, because the

places are holy, whereunto the ark of the LORD hath come.”

(parallel, I Kings 9:24). — As the writer of Chronicles has not

before alluded to the marriage and the circumstances of it involved in this

verse, his account and assignment of Solomon’s motive for the removal of

his wife, Pharaoh’s daughter, is given something more specifically (see

I Kings 3:1; 7:8). The valley of Tyropeum lay between the temple on

the eastern hill and Solomon’s palace, which was on the western side of it.

The name of this wife was probably Psusennes, last of the twenty-first dynasty.

 

 

Doubtful Marriage Alliance (v. 11)

 

There was more astuteness than wisdom in the alliance which Solomon

effected between the daughter of Pharaoh and himself. It is probable that

he congratulated himself greatly thereupon, and that at first it was a source

of much gladness of heart to him. But the end did not justify his hope. The

political alliance with Egypt, which it was intended to confirm, was very

soon broken; in the very next reign the king of that country came up

against Jerusalem (ch. 12:9). And though the daughter of

Pharaoh may herself have conformed, in part if not altogether, to the

religion of Jehovah, it may be taken for granted that many of her retinue

did not; that they brought up from Egypt idolatrous rites, superstitious

practices, immoral usages. We gather from the text that Solomon himself

felt that there was an unsuitableness and even an impropriety in having

such a court in the rooms where David had prayed and sung, beneath the

roof under which the ark of God had rested. (I know of a family,

once upon a time, that had a seeminly strong Christian home.  The mother died,

the father remarried and moved to another house and left the original house

with his daughter.  She either rented it out to, or allowed a friend to shack up

with a man.  It caused very hard feelings of the brother, who felt as if the

house, and memory of homelife was desecrated.   I think this is along the

same principal which Solomon seemed to realize.  CY – 2016)  If he felt thus,

we may be sure that there was not a little about the new queen’s ways and those

of her attendants to scandalize the simple faith and conscientious scruples of the

people. And this was the beginning of that departure from the simplicity

and purity of Hebrew faith and morals which ended in CORRUPTION and

DISASTER (I Kings 11:31). This matrimonial alliance was not a fine piece

of policy; it was a distinct mistake. Perhaps the king may have begun to

think so when he found that, instead of gracing his father’s home, his new

wife could not take her place there without profaning it. In such alliances

as these it is well to remember:

 

  • THAT APPARENT ADVANTAGES MAY EASILY BE

OVERESTIMATED. To the one side or the other, to the husband or the

wife, there may be the prospect of social standing, or of wealth, or of

personal attraction; there may be the inducement of one or more of those

favorable conditions which belong to the lower plane of life. But

experience has proved again and again, in so many cases and with such

startling and overwhelming power that all may see and know, that these

worldly advantages are no security whatever against:

 

    • disappointment,
    • misery, and against
    • melancholy failure.

 

Their worth and virtue only stretch a little way; they do not go to the heart

of things; they only touch the outer fortifications, they cannot take the citadel.

 

  • THAT COMMON PRINCIPLES AND SPIRITUAL AFFINITIES ARE

THE TRUE BASIS ON WHICH THIS ALLIANCE SHOULD BE

FOUNDED.  It is a poor prospect indeed when the wife is felt to be morally

unworthy to be mistress of the old home; when it has to be acknowledged that

her principles and her practice will dishonor rather than adorn the rooms

where the Bible has been accustomed to be read and the praises of Christ to

be sung. Surely it is not from fellowship with her spirit and not from the

influences which will flow from her life that a blessing will come to the

heart and to the home. It is not the full hand but the pure soul that brings

joy and gladness to the hearth. It is a common love for the common Lord,

and the walking together along the same path of eternal life, — it is this

which has the promise of the future. The splendid palace which Solomon

built for Pharaoh’s daughter may have been little more than a fine

mausoleum for a hope that soon withered and died; the humblest roof

that shelters two true, loving, holy hearts will be the home of a happiness

which grows and deepens with passing years, with mutual service, and

with united efforts to train and bless.

 

 

The Consort of a King (v. 11)

 

  • THE QUEEN’S PERSON. The daughter of Pharaoh. As to which

Pharaoh, see homily on vs. 1-6. If the Song of Solomon was an

epithalamium in honor of his wedding with this lady, her personal

attractions, after making allowances for the rhapsody peculiar to a

loverand the luxuriance of fancy characteristic of an Oriental, must

have been considerable (Song of Solomon 1:8, 10; 4:1-7; 7:1-9).

 

  • THE QUEEN’S CHARACTER. A heathen. However charming

externally, there is no reason why her inward graces may not have been

attractive. Like Egyptian ladies of rank, she would probably be skilled in

needlework, perhaps also in using the spindle and in weaving. But still she

was not acquainted with the true religion, being a worshipper of the god

Ra, and the other divinities that claimed the homage of her countrymen,

rather than of JEHOVAH, the living and true God. Physical loveliness

may be a precious gift of Heaven, and moral sweetness desirable in one

who is to be a wife; but nothing can compensate for the absence of

religion. Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain,” etc. (Proverbs 31:30).

 

  • THE QUEEN’S WEDDING.

 

Ø      Celebrated early in the kings reign (I Kings 3:1), and doubtless

with becoming splendor. It is not good for princes any more than for

peasants to be alone, and “he that findeth a wife” (provided she be a

woman that feareth the Lord) findeth a good thing” (Proverbs 18:22).

 

Ø      Politically advantageous .for the state, though this is questionable.

Israel required no buttress, either from Egypt or Assyria, so long as she

remained true TO JEHOVAH! (Isaiah 30:3; Jeremiah 2:18-19; 42:19).

(see Psalm 81:13-15 explains God’s position as a guardian for His

people!  Until recently, the above said of Israel is true for the United

States.  The last half century of the turning away from God, by our

leadership, especially by lawyers, anti-godly organizations, politicians,

and a Runaway Judiciary, have orchestrated a deviant culture from the

will of God and are producing the same problems that brought

Israel, historically, into OBLIVION! – CY – 2016)   In any case,

neither political expedience nor social convenience is a proper

motive for contracting marriage, which should always be inspired by

love between the parties (Ephesians 5:25-28).

 

Ø      Possibly against the Law of God. On the one hand, it is argued (Keil,

Bahr)

 

o        that the Mosaic statute (Exodus 34:16; Deuteronomy 7:3)

prohibited only marriage with Canaanitish women;

o        that not prohibiting, it may be understood to have allowed, alliance

with Egyptian maidens;

o        that such marriages were contemplated by Moses as possible

(Deuteronomy 23:7-8);

o        that Pharaoh’s daughter may have become a proselyte to the Jewish

religion; and

o        that the marriage is nowhere in Scripture explicitly condemned.

 

On the other hand, it is contended: (Adam Clarke)

 

o        that the principle of the law which forbade marriage with a Canaanitish

maiden applied equally to an Egyptian princess, inasmuch as both were

foreign or outlandish women;

o        that Pharaoh’s daughter is classed with the outlandish women who

caused Solomon to sin (I Kings 11:1; Nehemiah 13:26); and

o        that there is no proof that Pharaoh’s daughter was a proselyte.

 

The affirmative, however, of this last assertion is supposed to be justified

by the following considerations:

 

o        That Solomon, at the commencement of his reign, would hardly have

married Pharaoh’s daughter had she not been a proselyte, he being at

the time a lover of Jehovah and an observer of His ways;

o        that Pharaoh’s daughter is not named in I Kings 11. among the king’s

wives who seduced their husband into idolatry;

o        that there is not a trace of Egyptian worship to be found in Israel

during this reign; and

o        that the Song of Solomon and the forty-fifth psalm would not have

been composed in honor of her wedding, and far less admitted to the

canon, had she been an idolatress.

 

But none of these is convincing:

 

o        Solomon had already an Ammonite wife — Naamah, the mother of

Rehoboam (compare I Kings 11:42 with 14:21 and here ch. 12:13):

was she a proselyte?

o        I Kings 11:1 is regarded by some as placing Pharaoh’s daughter

among the outlandish women who caused Solomon to sin.

o        Egyptian idolatry may have been practiced in the queen’s house,

though not in the land; and

o        it is not certain that either the song or the psalm was written in honor

of this lady. To these may be added:

§         that, had she been a proselyte, Solomon would not have

needed to exclude her from the stronghold of Zion where

the ark was (v. 11), and

§         that Pharaoh’s daughter was certainly an outlandish woman.

 

Ø      Extremely unadvised on Solomons part. It led to his decline into

idolatry, if not directly yet indirectly, by leading him to add more

wives and concubines to his harem.

 

“Some here see Solomon and Pharaoh's daughter only— they are

short sighted; others see both Solomon and Christ—they are cross eyed;

well focused spiritual eyes see here Jesus only, or if Solomon be present at

all, it must be like those hazy shadows of by passers which cross the face of

the camera, and therefore are dimly traceable upon a photographic

landscape. "The King," the God whose throne is for ever and ever, is no

mere mortal and his everlasting dominion is not bounded by Lebanon and

Egypt's river. This is no wedding song of earthly nuptials, but an

Epithalamium for the Heavenly Bridegroom and His elect spouse.”

                                (C. H. Spurgeon on Psalm 45 – Treasury of David)

 

  • THE QUEEN’S RESIDENCE.

 

Ø      In a separate house in the city of David. On her wedding, Solomon did

not bring her into his father’s palace where himself resided — though some

hold he did (Bertheau) — but lodged her in a temporary dwelling (Keil,

Bahr), assigning as a reason that the rooms of the royal palace had been

consecrated and rendered holy by the presence of the ark of Jehovah, and

meaning thereby that to have introduced into them an Egyptian queen,

even though a proselyte, with probably an establishment of heathen maids,

would have been, to say the least, an impropriety. The fact that Solomon

could not lodge his wife in his father’s house should have made him

hesitate as to his marriage. That matrimonial alliance must be doubtful the

contemplation of which leads one to apprehend the Divine displeasure, or

which one sees to be incongruous with right religious feeling.

 

Ø      In a house contiguous to Solomons palace. This house, specially

prepared for her, not for a harem (Thenius), formed part of Solomon’s

own dwelling (I Kings 7:8), being situated either behind (Winer) or

above (Keil), or perhaps at the side of it.

 

  • LESSONS.

 

Ø      Marriage is honorable in all (Hebrews 13:4).

Ø      The duty of wedding only in the Lord (1 Corinthians 7:39).

Ø      The sin of polygamy.

Ø      The obligation of husbands to maintain their wives.

 

12 “Then Solomon offered burnt offerings unto the LORD on the altar

of the LORD, which he had built before the porch,  13 Even after a certain

rate every day, offering according to the commandment of Moses, on the

sabbaths, and on the new moons, and on the solemn feasts, three times in the

year, even in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks, and in

the feast of tabernacles.”  Parallel in compressed form I Kings 9:25. After a

certain rate every day; Hebrew, וּבִדְבַר־יום; the probable meaning is,

according to the fixed appointment of day after day (Exodus 23:14; 29:23, 38;

Numbers 28:3; Deuteronomy 16:16).

 

14 “And he appointed, according to the order of David his father, the

courses of the priests to their service, and the Levites to their

charges, to praise and minister before the priests, as the duty of

every day required: the porters also by their courses at every gate:

for so had David the man of God commanded.”

The courses of the priests… the Levites to their charges…

the porters also by their courses at every gate. (For the particulars of

this verse, see, with the exposition to them, I Chronicles 24:1-31; 25:1-7;

26:1-32; 9:17-28.) David the man of God. This title occurs only once in

I Chronicles, viz. 23:14, where it is used of Moses; and six times in 2

this book, viz. here to David; 11:2, to Shemaiah; three times, 25:7, 9, to

an unnamed prophet; and once again to Moses, 30:16; the expression

occurs much more frequently in Kings.

 

15 “And they departed not from the commandment of the king unto the

priests and Levites concerning any matter, or concerning the treasures.”

Considering the last clause of the previous verse, the king probably designs

David, not Solomon. The commandment… concerning the treasures. (See, with

the exposition, I Chronicles 26:20-32. Compare also our ch. 35:3-5.)

 

16 “Now all the work of Solomon was prepared unto the day of the

foundation of the house of the LORD, and until it was finished. So

the house of the LORD was perfected.”  Was prepared. This is the niph. of כּוּן;

and occurs eight times in Chronicles, but in other conjugations forty-two times.

The evident signification is, Thus was all the work of Solomon steadily ordered

to the day of foundation of the houseand on uninterruptedly till it was

finished; i.e. there was no remitting of diligence and care from the

beginning to the end of the grand undertaking. For of this the Chronicle

history has told us, first in ch. 2., and then in chps. 3-8.

 

 

Perfecting the Sanctuary (vs. 12-16)

 

It was indeed a great thing to be able to write that “the house of the Lord

was perfected” (v. 16). Much had to be done, however, before that could

be written. It was necessary:

 

  • THAT THE MATERIAL SHOULD SUBSERVE THE SPIRITUAL.

Though the last stone had been carved and carried, and the last piece of

furniture placed in its position, though the temple stood and shone before

the eyes of Israel in all architectural completeness, yet was it not truly

finished (v. 16) until it was made a right use of, until sacrifice smoked

on its altar, until “Solomon offered burnt offerings unto the Lord” (v.12).

No edifice or erection of any kind, no work of art, nothing that is

visible and material, can be said to have attained its end as an instrument of

worship until it has been the means and medium by which the soul of man

ascends to the Spirit of God and makes its offering “unto the Lord.” Until

that point is reached, it is as the sacrifice without the consuming fire; it is

essentially imperfect. It is the wise, the true, the spiritual use we make of

them that crowns and completes all instrumentalities in the service of God.

 

  • THAT METHOD BE EMPLOYED AS WELL AS INSPIRATION

CALLED FORTH. “After a certain rate every day, according to the

commandment(v. 13); “according to the order” (v. 14). It is well, it is

needful, to do everything to elicit zeal, to call forth spontaneous service;

without this there is no life, and therefore no acceptance with God. But

there must be method also. That Christian Church (or that Christian man)

that thinks it (he) can dispense with regulation and order in its

(his)devotion makes a serious mistake. The waters of a river are more

essential than the banks; but the river would do very ill without these — it

would soon be lost in diffusion. Piety that is not regulated is liable to be

thus lost. Method is far lower down than inspiration, but it is an aid which

the strongest and the worthiest can by no means afford to despise or to

neglect.

 

  • THAT ATTENTION BE GIVEN TO THE HUMBLE AND

MINUTE. Prevision was made for “the courses of the priests;” but the

porters also” were considered and cared for (v. 14). These humbler

ministrants had a part to play, a service to render, as well as the higher

officials, and their work was specified and recorded. And all arrangements

were made “as the duty of every day required;” regard was had to hourly

necessity, and no smallest service was overlooked. In the worship we

render and in the work we do for so great a Lord as our God, for so

gracious a Master as our Divine Friend and Saviour, there is nothing

actually small. One post may be lower than another, one duty may be

slighter than another; but everything we do for Him “that loved us and gave

Himself for us” (Ephesians 5:2) is redeemed from insignificance; and if we

have the true spirit in us we shall leave nothing of any kind undone which

will make the smallest contribution to the perfecting of His service; we shall

give heed to the humble and the minute as well as to the lofty and the large.

 

  • THAT OFFERING BE PRESENTED TO GOD AS WELL AS

BLESSINGS ASKED OF HIM. The priests and the Levites were to

praise as well as to “minister” (ver. 14). They were to sing as well as to

sacrifice to offer gratitude to God as well as to seek mercy and grace of

Him. And surely the service of the sanctuary will by no means be perfected

until we bring to God the best we have to offer. We seek greatest things of

Him, let us bring greatest things to Him; let us bring to His house and to

himself:

 

Ø      our most reverent thought,

Ø      our warmest gratitude,

Ø      our most serious and fixed resolution, and

Ø      our sweetest and purest song.

 

UNTO HIM THAT LOVED US we will yield the richest and worthiest

offering our heart can render and our voice can raise.

 

 

The House of the Lord Perfected (vs. 12-16)

 

  • THE SACRIFICES ARRANGED. (vs. 12-13)

 

Ø      The place on which these should henceforth be offered. “The altar of

Jehovah before the porch.” Hitherto Solomon and others had presented

burnt offerings before the tabernacle at Gibeon (ch. 1:3) and

elsewhere (II Samuel 6:13). Henceforth these should be laid upon the

brazen altar in the temple court. Solomon’s doing so at the close of the

dedication service was a formal inauguration of the practice meant to be

followed.

 

Ø      The times when these should be offered.

 

o        Every day — in the morning and evening sacrifice. So God demands

the devotions and spiritual sacrifices of His people at early morn and

dewyeve.

o        At special seasons — on the sabbaths, the weekly sabbaths and those

occurring in the midst of festivals, as:

§         on the great Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16:31),

§         on the first and eighth days of the Feast of Ingathering

(ibid. 23:39);

§         on the new moons (I Samuel 20:5,18; II Kings 4:23; Psalm 81:3;

Isaiah 1:13-14; 66:23); and

 on the solemn feasts three times a year, i.e.

ü      the Passover, on the fourteenth day of the first month;

ü      the Feast of Harvest, or of the Firstfruits, in the

beginning of harvest; and

ü      the Feast of Ingathering, or the Feast of Tabernacles, on

the fifteenth day of the seventh month (Exodus 23:14-16;

Leviticus 23:4-44).

Other times might be chosen by the worshippper; these the worshipper

was not at liberty to neglect. Under Christianity there is an irreducible

minimum beneath which one cannot go in serving God and yet claim

to be a disciple.

 

Ø      The measure according to which these should be offered. According to

the daily rate prescribed by Moses (Exodus 23:14; Leviticus 23:37;

Deuteronomy 16:16-17). Though Solomon had been honored to erect

a temple, he did not feel himself at liberty to propound a new ritual, and far

less to institute a new religion. For him, as for all before and after, until the

fullness of the times, Moses was the sole authority in doctrine and in

worship. Since the fullness of the times, Christ, the greater than Moses, is;

and will-worship (Colossians 2:23) is as little permissible under the new

dispensation as it was under the old.

 

  • THE PRIESTLY COURSES APPOINTED (v. 14.)

 

Ø      The pattern followed. The order of David (1 Chronicles 24.). Whether,

in thus arranging the priesthood, David acted under Divine direction or

not, is not material. This detail could safely be left to sanctified prudence;

and David, in effecting it, only showed his sagacity in knowing how to get

a difficult work performed with ease and efficiency, as well as his regard

for order and decorum in all things pertaining to the sanctuary. Solomon, in

following David’s example instead of resorting to new experiments,

approved himself wise.

 

Ø      The number of the courses. Twenty-four (I Chronicles 24:1-19).

When these were arranged by David, twenty-four chief men were found

who claimed descent from the house of Aaron. Of these, sixteen belonged

to the sons of Eleazar, and eight to the sons of Ithamar. Consequently,

these were selected as the heads of the several courses, their order of

succession being determined by lot — to avoid all ground of complaint on

the score of favoritism, and to lend the sanction of Divine authority to the

order so established (Proverbs 16:33).

 

Ø      The nature of their services. To conduct the sacrificial worship of the

nation. The Christian Church has only ONE PRIEST, who, having once

for all offered Himself a Sacrifice for sin, and having passed within the veil

with His own blood, there to appear in the presence of God for us, has been

consecrated for evermore (Hebrews 7:28; 9:11-12; 10:10).

 

  • THE LEVITES INSTRUCTED. (v. 14)

 

Ø      Their courses. Three — the Gershonites, the Kohathites, the Merarites,

according to the three great families of the sons of Levi; the first two

consisting of nine, and the third of six, the three of twenty-four fathers’

houses. Hence their courses were probably, like those of the priests’,

twenty-four in number (Josephus, ‘Ant.,’ 7:14. 7).

 

Ø      Their charges. To praise and minister before the priests, as the duty of

every day required. They were no longer needed to carry the tabernacle or

any of its vessels for the service thereof, seeing that Jehovah had given

rest unto His people, that they might dwell in Jerusalem for ever

(I Chronicles 23:24-32; 25:1-6).

 

  • THE PORTERS STATIONED (v. 14)

 

Ø      Their courses. Twenty-four. At least twenty-four men are mentioned as

keeping daily guard at the temple gates (I Chronicles 26:13-19); and

these, it is conjectured, were the heads of twenty-four divisions.

 

Ø      Their stations. “At every gate.” Every day were planted at the east gate

six men; at the north, four; at the south, four; at the storehouses in the

vicinity of the south gate, two and two, i.e. four; at Parbar towards the

west, six; in all, twenty-four at the different gates (I Chronicles 26:17-18).

 

Ø      Their work. To keep the gates — esteemed an honorable service, and

called ministering in the house of the Lord (I Chronicles 26:12; “For a

day in thy courts is better than a thousand.  I had rather be a door-

keeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.”

Psalm 84:10).

 

  • LESSONS.

 

Ø      The necessity and beauty of order in Divine worship.

Ø      The diversity of offices and gifts in the Church of God.

Ø      The dignity of even the humblest service in connection with

religion.

 

17 “Then went Solomon to Eziongeber, and to Eloth, at the sea side in

the land of Edom.”  Ezion-geberEloth. Parallel, I Kings 9:26, which

describes the former of these ports as “beside” the latter, “on the Red Sea,”

i.e. at the extremity of the eastern gulf of the Red Sea, called the Elanitic

Gulf by Greeks and Romans, but now the Gulf of Akabah (Numbers

33:35-37; Deuteronomy 2:8; II Samuel 8:14; I Kings 22:48; II Kings 14:22; 16:6;

here, ch. 20:36-37). David’s conquest of Edom was the occasion of its coming into

the possession of Israel.

 

18 “And Huram sent him by the hands of his servants ships, and servants

that had knowledge of the sea; and they went with the servants of Solomon

to Ophir, and took thence four hundred and fifty talents of gold, and brought

them to king Solomon.” The first impression created on reading this verse no

doubt would be that Hiram sent ships to Solomon, at Ezion-geber and Eloth. But

it is almost impossible to see how he could do so. The parallel much helps

us, by saying that “Solomon made a navy,” and Hiram assisted. by manning

it with competent sailors; he “sent in the navy his servants,” etc. (I Kings 9:26-27).

Some have suggested that the explanation is that Hiram gave materials, workmen,

and models for Solomon’s ships, possibly having ships lying in the Red Sea.

The parallel, however, meets all difficulties, and saves the necessity of going

far for farfetched explanations. Ophir. This was the name of the son of Joktan

(Genesis 10:25-29), who, it is supposed, gave his name to the place or land in

the south of Arabia. It is still quite an unsettled question, however, where

Ophir was situated, though an Arabian situation is on every account the most

probable (see Exposition I Chronicles 29:4; and Dr. Smith’s ‘Bible Dictionary,’

2:637-642). Our four hundred and fifty talents of gold reads in the parallel

(I Kings 9:28) as “four hundred and twenty.”

 

 

 

The Formative Influence of the Church (vs. 1-18)

 

In the exceeding abundance of suggestion of homiletic matter that

characterizes Scripture, and even its historic books, there is naturally so

much the less temptation to strain its sacred contents (which at all times

serve their own purposes) by laying them under forced contributions to this

particular service. It may be, therefore, perhaps best to say at once that this

chapter does not proffer anything specially suitable for homiletics proper.

None the less is it true that the chapter does exhibit certain points which

look this way, and worthy of notice — as, e.g., once the central religious

institution of the Church and nation has found its settled place and

established form, many other things seem even predisposed to seek and to

find their settlement too, their order, and their abiding strength. The

building of cities regained or restored, and the rebuilding, repair, and

fortification of others — store cities and chariot cities and horsemen’s

cities (vs. 1-6, the language of the last of these verses reading, it will be

noticed, specially emphatically); the assigning of the payment of tribute to

the descendants of the original inhabitants (who, contrary to Divine

direction, had not been thoroughly outrooted from the land) whose

privileges there, as resident in and amid Israel, were cheaply bought by that

tribute; the assigning of independence and posts of authority to others, of

the people and officers of Israel itself (vs. 7-10); the apparently growing

spiritual perception of Solomon, in what might presumably be regarded as

a somewhat critical step, the removing of his wife, Pharaoh’s daughter,

from an abode that was “sacred,” to one that was a palace indeed of

palaces, but not sacred (v. 11); the full observance and reviving from

Moses’ time and standpoint of all religious ritual and ceremony (but

supremely of all which concerned the altar) for daily service and sacrifice,

and sabbath and new moon service and sacrifice, and for those of the triple

solemn feasts, to wit, of Unleavened Bread, of Weeks, and of Tabernacles,

with the necessary courses of priests, Levites, musicians, and porters; —

all this came of the “perfecting of the house of the Lord” (vs. 12-16), as

though it were actually complementary to it. Does it not read, when all

taken together, for the unsophisticated and devout mind, like some forecast

of these two things, which we now, in the modern Church, so often say or

hear said:

 

1. That the welfare of the diocese follows its bishop and its cathedral

service, taking its tone and deriving no little of its health from them? This is

abundantly conspicuous in the history of a newly carved out diocese.

 

2. And that, one thousand to fifteen hundred years ago, the formative

influence of the Church over the nation was indisputable; that the Church

made the nation far more than the nation the Church, conspicuously

lending to it, nay, giving to it a strength of foundation, variety of elements,

and those in especial that make for durableness? Twenty centuries ago a

theocracy, which may with most reverent intention be called comparatively

mechanical, passed away. Let us hope, pray, and work that the centuries

from then to the present hour may be but superseding it, with that founded

on the new and better covenant.

 

 

The First Merchant-Ships (vs. 17-18)

 

  • TO WHOM THEY BELONGED.

 

Ø      Solomon — who constructed a navy of ships (I Kings 9:26). The first mention

of ship-building by the Israelites. An advance in civilization, it is doubtful

whether this was in harmony with the calling of the Israelites as a theocratic

people, whose business it was to keep themselves distinct from other nations.

 

Ø      Hiram who sent the Israelitish monarch ships by the hands of his

servants. Either Hiram sent to Eloth ship-carpenters, who built ships for

Solomon (Bahr), or he built ships at Tyre, and sent them by the hands of

sailors to join in Solomon’s expedition (Bertheau). If the latter, they must

either have rounded the continent of Africa (Bertheau), or been carried by

land transport across the Isthmus of Suez (Keil). The former would not

have been impossible had the circumnavigation of Africa been at that time

known. This, however, is doubtful, as Herodotus (4:42) mentions Pharaoh

Necho of the twenty-sixth dynasty (B.C. 612) as the first to prove that

Africa was entirely surrounded by water, with the exception of the small

isthmus connecting it with Asia. This he did by sending Phoenician seamen

in ships from the Arabian Gulf to seek their way to Egypt through the

Pillars of Hercules and the Mediterranean Sea. Hence the latter method

was more probably adopted for conveying Hiram’s ships to the Gulf of

Arabia — a method of transporting vessels known to the ancients.

Herodotus (vii. 24) states that, while Xerxes cut a passage through the

Isthmus of Mount Athos, he need not have done so, since without

difficulty he might have carried his ships across the land. Thucydides (4:8)

mentions that in this way the Peloponnesians conveyed eighty ships across

the Leucadia-isthmus. (For additional examples, see Exposition.)

 

  • THE PORT WHENCE THEY SAILED.

 

Ø      Ezion-geber, a camping-station on the desert march of Israel

(Numbers 33:35; Deuteronomy 2:8); afterwards the place where

Jehoshaphat’s ships were wrecked (I Kings 22:48). When the town

was built is unknown. Its name imports “the backbone of a man”

(Gesenius); the Greeks called it Berenice (Josephus, ‘Ant.,’ 8:6. 4).

 

Ø      Near Eloth, the Ailane of Josephus, the Ailath of the Greeks, and the

Elana of the Romans, the modern Akaba, on the eastern bay of the Gulf of

Akabah. Whether Ezion-geber was also on the east side of the gulf or on

the west is uncertain, as no trace of it now exists.

 

Ø      On the shore of the Red Sea. The Yam Suf was the eastern arm of the

Arabian Gulf, or the Gulf of Akabah. At the present day (200 years ago -

CY – 2016) navigation is perilous in the vicinity of Elath in consequence

of the sharp and rocky coast and the easily excited storms.

 

Ø      In the land of Edom. Mount Seir, Edom, Idumaea, the Mount of Esau

(Deuteronomy 2:5; Joel 3:19; Isaiah 24:5; Obadiah 1:21); in the

Assyrian inscriptions, Udumu or Udumi (Schrader, ‘Die Keilinsehriften,’ p.

149); a desolate region extending from the head of the Elanitic Gulf to the

foot of the Dead Sea, described by Robinson as “a rolling desert, the

surface [of which] was in general loose gravel and stones, everywhere

furrowed and torn with the beds of torrents … now and then a lone shrub

of the ghudah [being] almost the only trace of vegetation” (‘Biblical

Researches,’ 2:502, 551).

 

  • THE SAILORS BY WHOM THEY WERE MANNED. Servants of

Hiram, who had knowledge of the sea. The Phoenicians the earliest

navigators of the ocean. An inscription of Queen Hatasu, of the eighteenth

Egyptian dynasty, queen regnant first with Thothmes II. and afterwards

with Thothmes III., has preserved a record of the construction by that

royal lady of a navy on the Red Sea, and of a voyage of discovery to the

land of Arabia in vessels manned by Phoenician seamen (Brugsch, ‘Egypt,’

1:351, etc.; ‘Records of the Past,’ 10:11, etc.).

 

  • THE COUNTRY TO WHICH THEY STEERED. Ophir. By eminent

authorities (Lassen, Ritter, Bertheau) located in India, this gold-producing

region was probably in Arabia (Knobel, Keil, Ewald, Bahr) — the land of

Pun, to which the ships of Hatasu sailed for costly treasures.

 

  • THE CARGO WITH WHICH THEY RETURNED.

 

Ø      Gold. Whether the four hundred and fifty talents were the cargo of one

voyage or of all the voyages cannot be determined.  This precious metal was

amongst the treasures fetched from the land of Pun by Hatasu’s fleet.

 

Ø      Precious stones. Learned from a later statement (ch. 9:10).

These also were obtainable in the land of Pun.

 

Ø      Algum trees. (ibid.). What these were is unknown; probably they corresponded

with the balsam-wood or “incense trees” brought from Pun by Hatasu’s ships.

It was manifestly rare and costly, as Solomon made of it “terraces to the house

of the Lord and the king’s palace, as well as harps and psalteries for singers;”

and there were none such seen before in the land of Judah.” So said Hatasu’s

scribes of her cargo. “Never has such a convoy [been made] like this one by any

king since the creation of the world.”

 

  • LEARN:

 

Ø      Man’s dominion over nature — he can affront the perils of the sea.

Ø      The advantages (from a secular point of view) of navigation — in

increasing the world’s wealth and comfort, in extending man’s

knowledge and power, and in binding the nations into a mutually

dependent and helpful brotherhood.

Ø      The dangers (from a spiritual point of view) of foreign exploration, in

fostering the lust of conquest and possession, and in bringing God’s

people into contact with heathen nations.

 

 

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