Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, by Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsh, [1857-78], at sacred-texts.com
3 Kings (1 Kings)
Preparations for Building the Temple - 1 Kings 5
Immediately after the consolidation of his kingdom, Solomon commenced the preparations for the building of a temple, first of all by entering into negotiations with king Hiram of Tyre, to procure from him not only the building materials requisite, viz., cedars, cypresses, and hewn stones, but also a skilled workman for the artistic work of the temple (Kg1 5:1-12); and, secondly, by causing the number of workmen required for this great work to be raised out of his own kingdom, and sending them to Lebanon to prepare the materials for the building in connection with the Tyrian builders (Kg1 5:13-18). - We have a parallel passage to this in 2 Chron 2, which agrees with the account before us in all the leading points, but differs in many of the details, omitting several things which were not essential to the main fact, and communicating others which are passed over in our account, e.g., Solomon's request that a Tyrian workman might be sent. This shows that the two accounts are extracts from a common and more elaborate source, the historical materials being worked up in a free and independent manner according to the particular plan adopted by each of the two authors. (For further remarks on the mutual relation of the two narratives, see my apologetischer Versuch ber die Bcher der Chronik, pp. 216ff.)
3 Kings (1 Kings) 5:1
Solomon's negotiations with Hiram of Tyre. - Kg1 5:1. When king Hiram of Tyre heard that Solomon had been anointed king in the place of David, he sent his servants, i.e., an embassage, to Solomon, to congratulate him (as the Syriac correctly explains) on his ascent of the throne, because he had been a friend of David the whole time (כּל־הימים, i.e., as long as both of them David and Hiram were kings). On Hiram and the length of his reign, see the remarks on Sa2 5:11. This is passed over in the Chronicles as having no essential bearing upon the building of the temple.
Solomon thereupon communicated to Hiram, by means of an embassy, his intention to carry out the building of the temple which his father projected, and asked him for building wood from Lebanon for the purpose. From the words, "Thou knowest that my father David could not build," etc., it is evident that David had not only been busily occupied for a long time with the plan for building a temple, but that he had already commenced negotiations with Hiram on the matter; and with this Ch1 22:4 agrees. "To the name of Jehovah:" this expression is based upon Deu 12:5 and Deu 12:11 : "the place which the Lord shall choose to put His name there, or that His name may dwell there." The name of Jehovah is the manifestation of the divine nature in a visible sign as a real pledge of His presence (see at Kg1 12:5), and not merely numen Jovae quatenus ab hominibus cognoscitur, colitur, celebratur (Winer, Thenius). Hence in 2 Sam 7, to which Solomon refers, בּית לי בּנה (Kg1 5:5, Kg1 5:7) alternates with לשׁמי בּית בּנה (Kg1 5:13). On the obstacle which prevented it, "because of the war, with which they (the enemies) had surrounded me," see at Sa2 7:9. On the construction, סבב with a double accusative, compare the very similar passage, Psa 109:3, which fully establishes the rendering we have given, so that there is no necessity to assume that מלחמה, war, stands for enemies (Ewald, 317, b.).
"And now Jehovah my God has given me rest roundabout," such as David never enjoyed for a permanency (cf. Sa2 7:1). "No adversary is there." This is not at variance with Kg1 11:14, for Hadad's enterprise belonged to a later period (see the comm. on that passage). "And no evil occurrence:" such as the rebellions of Absalom and Sheba, the pestilence at the numbering of the people, and other events which took place in David's reign.
"Behold, I intend to build." אמר followed by an infinitive, as in Exo 2:14; Sa2 21:16. "As Jehovah spake to David;" viz., Sa2 7:12, Sa2 7:13.
"And now command that they fell me cedars from Lebanon." We may see from Kg1 5:8 that Solomon had also asked for cypresses; and according to the parallel passage Ch2 2:6., he had asked for a skilful artist, which is passed over here, so that it is only in Kg1 7:13-14 that we find a supplementary notice that Hiram had sent one. It is evident from this request, that that portion of Lebanon on which the cedars suitable for building wood grew, belonged to the kingdom of Hiram. The cedar forest, which has been celebrated from very ancient times, was situated at least two days' journey to the north of Beirut, near the northernmost and loftiest summits of the range, by the village of Bjerreh, to the north of the road which leads to Baalbek and not far to the east of the convent of Canobin, the seat of the patriarch of the Maronites, although Seetzen, the American missionaries, and Professor Ehrenberg found cedars and cedar groves in other places on northern Lebanon (see Rob. Pal. iii. 440,441, and Bibl. Res. pp. 588ff.). The northern frontier of Canaan did not reach as far as Bjerreh (see at Num 34:8-9). "My servants shall be with thy servants," i.e., shall help them in the felling of the wood. "And the wages of thy servants will I give to thee altogether as thou sayest." "For thou knowest that no one among us is skilful in felling trees like the Sidonians." This refers to the knowledge of the most suitable trees, of the right time for felling, and of the proper treatment of the wood. The expression Sidonians stands for Phoenicians generally, since Sidon was formerly more powerful than Tyre, and that portion of Lebanon which produced the cedars belonged to the district of Sidon. The inhabitants of Sidon were celebrated from time immemorial as skilful builders, and well versed in mechanical arts (compare Rob. Pal. iii. 421ff., and Movers, Phoenizier, ii. 1, pp. 86ff.).
Hiram rejoiced exceedingly at this proposal on the part of Solomon, and praised Jehovah for having given David so wise a son as his successor (Kg1 7:7). It must have been a matter of great importance to the king of Tyre to remain on good terms with Israel, because the land of Israel was a granary for the Phoenicians, and friendship with such a neighbour would necessarily tend greatly to promote the interests of the Phoenician commerce. The praise of Jehovah on the part of Hiram does not presuppose a full recognition of Jehovah as the only true God, but simply that Hiram regarded the God of Israel as being as real a God as his own deities. Hiram expresses a fuller acknowledgment of Jehovah in Ch2 2:11, where he calls Jehovah the Creator of heaven and earth; which may be explained, however, from Hiram's entering into the religious notions of the Israelites, and does not necessarily involve his own personal belief in the true deity of Jehovah.
Hiram then sent to Solomon, and promised in writing (בּכתב, Ch2 2:10) to comply with his wishes. אלי שׁלחתּ אשׁר את, "that which thou hast sent to me," i.e., hast asked of me by messenger. ברושׁים are not firs, but cypresses. "My servants shall bring down (the trees) from Lebanon to the sea, and I will make them into rafts (i.e., bind them into rafts and have them floated) upon the sea to the place which thou shalt send (word) to me, and will take them (the rafts) to pieces there, and thou wilt take (i.e., fetch them thence)." The Chronicles give Yafo, i.e., Joppa, Jaffa, the nearest harbour to Jerusalem on the Mediterranean Sea, as the landing-place (see at Jos 19:46). "And thou wilt do all my desire to give bread for my house," i.e., provisions to supply the wants of the king's court. "The שׂכר mentioned in Kg1 5:6 was also to be paid" (Thenius). This is quite correct; but Thenius is wrong when he proceeds still further to assert, that the chronicler erroneously supposed this to refer to the servants of Hiram who were employed in working the wood. There is not a word of this kind in the Chronicles; but simply Solomon's promise to Hiram (Kg1 5:9): "with regard to the hewers (the fellers of the trees), I give thy servants wheat 20,000 cors, and barley 20,000 cors, and wine 20,000 baths, and oil 20,000 baths." This is omitted in our account, in which the wages promised in Kg1 5:6 to the Sidonian fellers of wood are not more minutely defined. On the other hand, the payment for the wood delivered by Solomon to Hiram, which is not mentioned in the Chronicles, is stated here in Kg1 5:11. "Solomon gave Hiram 20,000 cors of wheat as food (מכּלת, a contraction of מאכלת, from אכל; cf. Ewald, 79, b.) for his house (the maintenance of his royal court), and 20 cors of beaten oil; this gave Solomon to Hiram year by year," probably as long as the delivery of the wood or the erection of Solomon's buildings lasted. These two accounts are so clear, that Jac. Capp., Gramt., Mov., Thenius, and Bertheau, who have been led by critical prejudices to confound them with one another, and therefore to attempt to emend the one from the other, are left quite alone. For the circumstance that the quantity of wheat, which Solomon supplied to Hiram for his court, was just the same as that which he gave to the Sidonian workmen, does not warrant our identifying the two accounts. The fellers of the trees also received barley, wine, and oil in considerable quantities; whereas the only other thing which Hiram received for his court was oil, and that not common oil, but the finest olive oil, namely 20 cors of כּתית שׁמן, i.e., beaten oil, the finest kind of oil, which was obtained from the olives when not quite ripe by pounding them in mortars, and which had not only a whiter colour, but also a purer flavour than the common oil obtained by pressing from the ripe olives (cf. Celsii Hierobot. ii. pp. 349f., and Bhr, Symbolik, i. p. 419). Twenty cors were 200 baths, i.e., according to the calculations of Thenius, about ten casks (1 cask = 6 pails; 1 pail = 72 cans). If we bear in mind that this was the finest kind of oil, we cannot speak of disproportion to the quantity of wheat delivered. Thenius reckons that 20,000 cors of wheat were about 38,250 Dresden scheffeln (? sacks).
The remark that "the Lord gave Solomon wisdom" refers not merely to the treaty which Solomon made with Hiram, through which he obtained materials and skilled workmen for the erection of the house of God (Thenius), but also to the wise use which he made of the capacities of his own subjects for this work. For this verse not only brings to a close the section relating to Solomon's negotiations with Hiram, but it also forms an introduction to the following verses, in which the intimation given by Solomon in Kg1 5:6, concerning the labourers who were to fell wood upon Lebanon in company with Hiram's men, is more minutely defined.
3 Kings (1 Kings) 5:13
The tributary labourers out of Israel. - Kg1 5:13, Kg1 5:14. Solomon raised a tribute (מס, tribute-labourers, as in Kg1 4:6) out of all Israel, i.e., out of the whole nation (not "out of the whole territory of Israel," as Ewald supposes), 30,000 men, and sent them up to Lebanon, 10,000 a month in rotation; one month they were on Lebanon (doing tribute work), two months at home (looking after the cultivation of their own ground). ויּעל, from העלה, does not mean in tabulas referre, in support of which appeal is made to Ch1 27:24, though on insufficient ground, but ascendere fecit, corresponding to the German ausheben (to raise). He raised them out of the nation, to send the up Lebanon (cf. Kg1 9:25). These 30,000 Israelitish labourers must be distinguished from the remnants of the Canaanites who were made into tribute-slaves (Kg1 5:15 and Kg1 9:20). The latter are called עבד מס, tribute-slaves, in Kg1 9:21 as in Jos 16:10. That the Israelites were not to render the service of bondsmen is evident from the fact, that they only rendered tribute for four months of the year, and were at home for eight months; and the use of the epithet מס is not at variance with this. For even if this word is applied elsewhere to the Canaanitish bondsmen (e.g., Jos 17:13; Jdg 1:28, Jdg 1:30, and Ch2 8:8), a distinction is decidedly made in our account of Solomon between מס and עבד מס, inasmuch as in Kg1 9:22, after the Canaanitish bondsmen have been mentioned, it is expressly stated that "of Israel Solomon made no one a slave" (עגלים). The 30,000 Israelitish tribute-servants are "to be thought of as free Israelites, who simply performed the less severe work of felling trees in fellowship with and under the direction of the subjects of Hiram _(see at Kg1 5:6), according to the command of the king, and probably not even that without remuneration" (Thenius). For Adoniram see at Kg1 4:6.
3 Kings (1 Kings) 5:15
And Solomon had 70,000 bearers of burdens and 80,000 hewers of stone on the mountains (of Lebanon). חצב is understood by the older translators as referring simply to hewers of stone. This is favoured both by the context, since Kg1 5:18 speaks of stone-mason's work, and also by the usage of the language, inasmuch as חצב is mostly applied to the quarrying and cutting of stones (Deu 6:11; Isa 5:2; Pro 9:1; Kg2 12:13), and only occurs in Isa 10:15 in connection with the cutting of wood. The hewing and preparing of the wood were amply provided for by 30,000 Israelites. That the 150,000 bearers of burdens and hewers of stone were not taken from the Israelites, is evident from the fact that they are distinguished from the latter, or at all events are not described as Israelites. We obtain certainty on this point from the parallel passages, Kg1 9:20-21; Ch2 2:16-17, and Ch2 8:1-9, according to which Solomon pressed the Canaanites who were left in the land to this bond-service.
3 Kings (1 Kings) 5:16
"Beside (לבד), i.e., without reckoning, the princes, Solomon's officers, who were over the work (i.e., the chiefs appointed by Solomon as overlookers of the work), 3300, who ruled over the people who laboured at the work." הנּצּבים שׂרי, as Thenius correctly observes, cannot be the chief of the overlookers, i.e., the head inspectors, as there is no allusion made to subordinate inspectors, and the number given is much too large for head inspectors. נצּבים, which is governed by שׂרי in the construct state, is to be taken as defining the substantive: principes qui praefecti erant (Vatabl.; cf. Ewald, 287, a.). Moreover, at the close of the account of the whole of Solomon's buildings (Kg1 9:23), 550 more הנּצּבים שׂרי are mentioned as presiding over the people who did the work. The accounts in the Chronicles differ from these in a very peculiar manner, the number of overseers being given in Ch2 2:17 and 3600, and in Ch2 8:10 as 250. Now, however natural it may be, with the multiplicity of errors occurring in numerical statements, to assume that these differences have arisen from copyists' errors through the confounding together of numerical letters resembling one another, this explanation is overthrown as an improbable one, by the fact that the sum-total of the overseers is the same in both accounts (3300 + 550 = 3850 in the books of Kings, and 3600 + 250 = 3850 in the Chronicles); and we must therefore follow J. H. Michaelis, an explain the differences as resulting from a different method of classification, namely, from the fact that in the Chronicles. the Canaanitish overseers are distinguished from the Israelitish (viz., 3600 Canaanites and 250 Israelites), whereas in the books of Kings the inferiores et superiores praefecti are distinguished. Consequently Solomon had 3300 inferior overseers and 550 superior (or superintendents), of whom 250 were selected from the Israelites and 300 from the Canaanites. In Ch2 2:16-17, it is expressly stated that the 3600 were taken from the גּרים, i.e., the Canaanites who were left in the land of Israel. And it is equally certain that the number given in Kg1 9:23 and Ch2 8:10 (550 and 250) simply comprises the superintendents over the whole body of builders, notwithstanding the fact that in both passages (Kg1 5:16 and Kg1 9:23) the same epithet הנּצּבים שׂרי is used. If, then, the number of overseers is given in Kg1 9:23 and 550, i.e., 300 more than in the parallel passage of the Chronicles, there can hardly be any doubt that the number 550 includes the 300, in which the number given in our chapter falls short of that in the Chronicles, and that in the 3300 of our chapter the superintendents of Canaanitish descent are not included.
(Note: Ewald (Gesch. iii. p. 292) assumes that "by the 550 (Kg1 9:23) we are to understand the actual superintendents, whereas the 3300 (Kg1 5:13) include inferior inspectors as well; and of the 550 superintendents, 300 were taken from the Canaanaeans, so that only 250 (Ch2 8:10) were native Hebrews;" though he pronounces the number 3600 (Ch2 2:17) erroneous. Bertheau, on the other hand, in his notes in Ch2 8:10, has rather complicated than elucidated the relation in which the two accounts stand to one another.)
3 Kings (1 Kings) 5:17
And the king had large, costly stones broken, "to lay the foundation of the house with hewn stones." יקרות does not mean heavy (Thenius), for this would be a perfectly superfluous remark, inasmuch as large stones are always heavy, but costly, valuable stones, qui multa pecunia constabant (Cler.); compare Kg1 10:2, where the word stands for precious stones. ליסּד, i.e., to lay the foundation for the temple, by which we are to understand not merely the foundation for the temple-house, but the magnificent substructions for the whole of the temple area, even though the strong walls which surrounded the temple mountain, and which Josephus describes in his Antiquities, viii. 3, 9, and xv. 11, 3, and in his de Bell. Jud. v. 5, 1, may not have been all completed by Solomon, but may have been a work of centuries. For further remarks on this subject, see at Kg1 6:38. גזית אבני are squared stones, according to Kg1 7:10, of ten and eight cubits.
3 Kings (1 Kings) 5:18
With Kg1 5:18 the account of the preparations for the building of the temple, which were the object of Solomon's negotiations with Hiram, is brought to a close. "Solomon's builders and Hiram's builders, even the Giblites, hewed and prepared the wood and the stones for the building of the house." The object to יפסלוּ is not the square stones mentioned before, but the trees (beams) and stones mentioned after ויּכנוּ. והגּבלים is to be taken as explanatory, "even the Giblites," giving a more precise definition of "Hiram's builders." The Giblites are the inhabitants of the town of Gebal, called Byblos by the Greeks, to the north of Beirut (see at Jos 13:5), which was the nearest to the celebrated cedar forest of the larger Phoenician towns. According to Eze 27:9, the Giblites (Byblians) were experienced in the art of shipbuilding, and therefore were probably skilful builders generally, and as such the most suitable of Hiram's subjects to superintend the working of the wood and stone for Solomon's buildings. For it was in the very nature of the case that the number of the Phoenician builders was only a small one, and that they were merely the foremen; and this may also be inferred from the large number of his own subjects whom Solomon appointed to the work.
(Note: Without any satisfactory ground Thenius has taken offence at the word והגּבלים, and on the strength of the critically unattested καὶ ἔβαλον αὐτούς of the lxx and the paraphrastic ἁρμόσαντας καὶ συνδήσαντας of Josephus, which is only introduced to fill in the picture, has altered it into ויּגבּילוּם, "they bordered them (the stones)." This he explains as relating to the "bevelling" of the stones, upon the erroneous assumption that the grooving of the stones in the old walls encircling the temple area, which Robinson (Pal. i. 423) was the first to notice and describe, "occurs nowhere else in precisely the same form;" whereas Robinson found them in the ancient remains of the foundations of walls in different places throughout the land, not only in the neighbourhood of Jerusalem, viz., at Bethany, but also at Carmel on the mountains of Judah, at Hebron, Semua (Esthemoa), Beit Nusib (Nezib), on Tabor, and especially in the north, in the old remains of the walls of the fortification es Shukif, Hunn, Banias, Tyrus, Jebail (Byblus), Baalbek, on the island of Ruwad (the ancient Aradus), and in different temples on Lebanon (see Rob. Pal. ii. 101,198, 434,627; iii. 12,213, 214; and Bibl. Researches, p. 229). Bttcher (n. ex. Krit. Aehrenl. ii. p. 32) has therefore properly rejected this conjecture as "ill-founded," though only to put in its place another which is altogether unfounded, namely, that before והגּבלים the word הצּרים ("the Tyrians") has dropped out. For this has nothing further in its favour than the most improbable assumption, that king Hiram gathered together the subjects of his whole kingdom to take part in Solomon's buildings. - The addition of τρία ἔτη, which is added by the lxx at the end of the verse, does not warrant the assumption of Thenius and Bttcher, that שׁנים שׁלשׁ has dropped out of the text. For it is obvious that the lxx have merely made their addition e conjectura, and indeed have concluded that, as the foundation for the temple was laid in the fourth year of Solomon's reign, the preliminary work must have occupied the first three years of his reign.)