Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, by Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsh, [1857-78], at sacred-texts.com
3 Kings (1 Kings) 9:1
The Answer of the Lord to Solomon's Dedicatory Prayer (cf. Ch2 7:11-22). - Kg1 9:1, Kg1 9:2. When Solomon had finished the building of the temple, and of his palace, and of all that he had a desire to build, the Lord appeared to him the second time, as He had appeared to him at Gibeon, i.e., by night in a dream (see Kg1 3:5), to promise him that his prayer should be answered. For the point of time, see at Kg1 8:1. כּל־חשׁק, all Solomon's desire or pleasures, is paraphrased thus in the Chronicles: לב על כּל־הבּא, "all that came into his mind," and, in accordance with the context, is very properly restricted to these two principal buildings by the clause, "in the house of Jehovah and in his own house."
3 Kings (1 Kings) 9:3
The divine promise to Solomon, that his prayer should be answered, is closely connected with the substance of the prayer; but in our account we have only a brief summary, whereas in the Chronicles it is given more elaborately (vid., Ch2 7:12-16). "I have sanctified this house which thou hast built, to put my name there." For the expression, see Deu 12:11. The sanctifying consisted in the fact, that Jehovah put His name in the temple; i.e., that by filling the temple with the cloud which visibly displayed His presence, He consecrated it as the scene of the manifestation of His grace. To Solomon's prayer, "May Thine eyes stand open over this house" (Kg1 8:29), the Lord replies, giving always more than we ask, "My eyes and my heart shall be there perpetually."
3 Kings (1 Kings) 9:4
Kg1 9:4, Kg1 9:5 contain the special answer to Kg1 8:25, Kg1 8:26. - Kg1 9:6-9 refer to the prayer for the turning away of the curse, to which the Lord replies: If ye and your children turn away from me, and do not keep my commandments, but worship other gods, this house will not protect you from the curses threatened in the law, but they will be fulfilled in all their terrible force upon you and upon this temple. This threat follows the Pentateuch exactly in the words in which it is expressed; Kg1 9:7 being founded upon Deu 28:37, Deu 28:45, Deu 28:63, and the curse pronounced upon Israel in Deu 29:23-26 being transferred to the temple in Kg1 9:8, Kg1 9:9. - פּני מעל שׁלּח, to dismiss, i.e., to reject from before my face. "This house will be עליון," i.e., will stand high, or through its rejection will be a lofty example for all that pass by. The temple stood upon a high mountain, so that its ruins could not fail to attract the attention of all who went past. The expression עליון is selected with an implied allusion to Deu 26:19 and Deu 28:1. God there promises to make Israel עליון, high, exalted above all nations. This blessing will be turned into a curse. The temple, which was high and widely renowned, shall continue to be high, but in the opposite sense, as an example of the rejection of Israel from the presence of God.
(Note: The conjecture of Bttcher, Thenius, and Bertheau, that עליון should be altered into עיּים, has no support in Mic 3:12; Jer 26:18, and Psa 79:1, and has all the ancient versions against it; for they all contain the Masoretic text, either in a verbal translation (lxx), or in a paraphrase, as for example the Chaldee, "the house that was high shall be destroyed;" the Syriac and Arabic, "this house will be destroyed;" and the Vulgate, domus haec erit in exemplum. - In Ch2 7:21 the thought is somewhat varied by the alteration of יהיה into היה אשׁר. For it would never enter the mind of any sober critic to attribute this variation to a misinterpretation of our text. Still less can it be an unsuccessful attempt to explain or rectify our text, as Bttcher imagines, since the assertion of this critic, that עליון is only used to signify an exalted position, and never the exaltation of dignity or worth, is proved to be erroneous by Deu 26:19 and Deu 28:1.)
3 Kings (1 Kings) 9:10
The Means by which the Buildings were Erected. - In order that all which still remained to be said concerning Solomon's buildings might be grouped together, different notices are introduced here, namely, as to his relation to Hiram, the erection of several fortresses, and the tributary labour, and also as to his maritime expeditions; and these heterogeneous materials are so arranged as to indicate the resources which enabled Solomon to erect so many and such magnificent buildings. These resources were: (1) his connection with king Hiram, who furnished him with building materials (Kg1 9:10-14); (2) the tributary labour which he raised in his kingdom (Kg1 9:15-25); (3) the maritime expedition to Ophir, which brought him great wealth (Kg1 9:26-28). But these notices are very condensed, and, as a comparison with the parallel account in 2 Chron 8 shows, are simply incomplete extracts from a more elaborate history. In the account of the tributary labour, the enumeration of the cities finished and fortified (Kg1 9:15-19) is interpolated; and the information concerning the support which was rendered to Solomon in the erection of his buildings by Hiram (Kg1 9:11-14), is merely supplementary to the account already given in Kg1 9:5. Kg1 9:24, Kg1 9:25 point still more clearly to an earlier account, since they would be otherwise unintelligible. - In 2 Chron 8 the arrangement is a simpler one: the buildings are first of all enumerated in Ch2 8:1-6, and the account of the tributary labour follows in Ch2 8:7-11.
The notices concerning Solomon's connection with Hiram are very imperfect; for Kg1 9:14 does not furnish a conclusion either in form or substance. The notice in 2 Chron 8; 1:1-2:18 is still shorter, but it supplies an important addition to the account before us.
Kg1 9:10, Kg1 9:11 form one period. יתּן אז (then he gave) in Kg1 9:11 introduces the apodosis to מק ויהי (and it came to pass, etc.) in Kg1 9:10; and Kg1 9:11 contains a circumstantial clause inserted as a parenthesis. Hiram had supported Solomon according to his desire with cedar wood and cypress wood, and with gold; and Solomon gave him in return, after his buildings were completed, twenty cities in the land of Galil. But these cities did not please Hiram. When he went out to see them, he said, "What kind of cities are these (מה in a contemptuous sense) which thou hast given me, my brother?" אחו as in Kg1 20:32, 1 Macc. 10:18; 11:30, 2 Macc. 11:22, as a conventional expression used by princes in their intercourse with one another. "And he called the land Cabul unto this day;" i.e., it retained this name even to later times. The land of Galil is a part of the country which was afterwards known as Galilaea, namely, the northern portion of it, as is evident from the fact that in Jos 20:7; Jos 21:32, Kedes in the mountains of Naphtali, to the north-west of Lake Huleh, is distinguished from the kadesh in southern Palestine by the epithet בּגּליל. It is still more evident from Kg2 15:29 and Isa 9:1 and Galil embraced the northern part of the tribe of Naphtali; whilst the expression used by Isaiah, הגּוים גּליל, also shows that this district was for the most part inhabited by heathen (i.e., non-Israelites). The twenty cities in Galil, which Solomon gave to Hiram, certainly belonged therefore to the cities of the Canaanites mentioned in Sa2 24:7; that is to say, they were cities occupied chiefly by a heathen population, and in all probability they were in a very bad condition. Consequently they did not please Hiram, and he gave to the district the contemptuous name of the land of Cabul. Of the various interpretations given to the word Cabul (see Ges. Thes. p. 656), the one proposed by Hiller (Onomast. p. 435), and adopted by Reland, Ges., Maurer, and others, viz., that it is a contraction of כּהבּוּל, sicut id quod evanuit tanquam nihil, has the most to support it, since this is the meaning required by the context. At the same time it is possible, and even probable, that it had originally a different signification, and is derived from כּבל = חבל in the sense of to pawn, as Gesenius and Dietrich suppose. This is favoured by the occurrence of the name Cabul in Jos 19:27, where it is probably derivable from כּבל, to fetter, and signifies literally a fortress or castle; but in this instance it has no connection with the land of Cabul, since it is still preserved in the village of Cabul to the south-east of Acre (see the Comm. on Josh. l.c.). The "land of Cabul" would therefore mean the pawned land; and in the mouths of the people this would be twisted into "good for nothing." In this case ויּקרא would have to be taken impersonally: "they called;" and the notice respecting this name would be simply an explanation of the way in which the people interpreted it. Hiram, however, did not retain this district, but gave it back to Solomon, who then completed the cities (Ch2 8:2).
(Note: This simple method of reconciling the account before us with the apparently discrepant notice in the Chronicles, concerning which even Movers (die biblische Chronik, p. 159) observes, that the chronicler interpolated it from a second (?) source, is so natural, that it is difficult to conceive how Bertheau can object to it; since he admits that the accounts in the books of Kings and Chronicles are incomplete extracts from common and more elaborate sources.)
The only way in which we can give to Kg1 9:14 a meaning in harmony with the context, is by taking it as a supplementary explanation of וּבזּהב...נשּׂא...חירם in Kg1 9:11, and so rendering ויּשׁלח as a pluperfect, as in Kg1 7:13 : "Hiram had sent the king a hundred and twenty talents of gold." If we reckon the value of gold as being ten times the worth of silver, a hundred and twenty talents of gold would be 3,141, 600 thalers (about 471,240: Tr.). This is no doubt to be regarded as a loan, which Solomon obtained from Hiram to enable him to complete his buildings. Although David may have collected together the requisite amount of precious metals for the building of the temple, and Solomon had also very considerable yearly revenues, derived partly from tribute paid by subjugated nations and partly from trade, his buildings were so extensive, inasmuch as he erected a large number of cities beside the temple and his splendid palace (Kg1 9:15-19), that his revenues might not suffice for the completion of these costly works; and therefore, since he would not apply the consecrated treasures of the temple to the erection of cities and palaces, he might find himself compelled to procure a loan from the wealthy king Hiram, which he probably intended to cover by ceding to him twenty cities on the border of the Phoenician territory. But as these cities did not please the king of Tyre and he gave them back to Solomon, the latter will no doubt have repaid the amount borrowed during the last twenty years of his reign.
Solomon's tribute service, and the building of the cities. (Cf. Ch2 8:3-10.) The other means by which Solomon made it possible to erect so many buildings, was by compelling the remnants of the Canaanitish population that were still in the land to perform tributary labour. המּס דּבר יד, "this is the case with regard to the tribute." For מס העלה compare Kg1 5:13. To the announcement of the object which Solomon had in view in raising tributary labourers, namely, to build, etc., there is immediately appended a list of all the buildings completed by him (Kg1 9:15-19); and it is not till Kg1 9:20 that we have more precise details concerning the tribute itself. Millo, the wall of Jerusalem, and the cities enumerated, are for the most part not new buildings, but simply fortifications, or the completion of buildings already in existence. David had already built the castle of Millo and the wall of Jerusalem (Sa2 5:9); so that Solomon's building was in both cases merely fortifying more strongly. On Millo see the fuller remarks at Sa2 5:9; and on the building of the wall, those at Kg1 3:1 and Kg1 11:27. As Solomon thereby closed the breach of the city of David according to Kg1 11:27, he probably extended the city wall so as to enclose the temple mountain; and he may possibly have also surrounded the lower city with a wall, since David had only built a fortification round about the upper city upon Zion (see at Sa2 5:9). - Hazor: an old royal city of the Canaanites above Lake Huleh, which has not yet been discovered (see at Jos 11:1). Megiddo, i.e., Lejun (see at Kg1 4:12). Gezer: also an old Canaanitish royal city, which stood close to the Philistian frontier, probably on the site of the present village of el Kubab (see at Jos 10:33).
This city had been taken and burned down by the king of Egypt; its Canaanitish inhabitants had been put to death; and the city itself had been given as a marriage portion to his daughter who was married to Solomon. Nothing is known concerning the occasion and object of Pharaoh's warlike expedition against this city. The conjecture of Thenius, that the Canaanitish inhabitants of Gezer had drawn upon themselves the vengeance of Pharaoh, mentioned here, through a piratical raid upon the Egyptian coast, is open to this objection, that according to all accounts concerning its situation, Gezer was not situated near the sea-coast, but very far inland.
This city Solomon built: i.e., he not only rebuilt it, but also fortified it. He did the same also to Lower Bethhoron, i.e., Beit-Ur Tachta, on the western slope of the mountains, four hours' journey from Gibeon. According to Ch2 8:5, Solomon also fortified Upper Bethhoron, which was separated by a deep wady from Lower Bethhoron, that lay to the west (see Comm. on Jos 10:10 and Jos 16:3). The two Bethhorons and Gezer were very important places for the protection of the mountainous country of Benjamin, Ephraim, and Judah against hostile invasions from the Philistian plain. The situation of Megiddo on the southern edge of the plain of Jezreel, through which the high road from the western coast to the Jordan ran, was equally important; and so also was Hazor as a border fortress against Syria in the northern part of the land.
Solomon also built, i.e., fortified, Baalath and Tadmor in the desert. According to Jos 19:44, Baalath was a city of Dan, and therefore, as Josephus (Ant. viii. 6, 1) justly observes, was not far from Gezer; and consequently is not to be identified with either Baalgad or Baalbek in Coele-syria (Iken, ich. Rosenm.; cf. Robinson, Bibl. Res. p. 519). תמר (Chethb) is either to be read תּמר, or according to Ewald (Gesch. iii. p. 344) תּמּר, palm, a palm-city. The Keri requires תּדמר (Tadmor, after Ch2 8:4), a pronunciation which may possibly have simply arisen from Aramaean expansion, but which is still the name for the city current among the Arabs even in the present day (Arabic tadmur, locus palmarum ferax). The Greeks and Romans called it Palmyra. It was situated in what is certainly now a very desolate oasis of the Syrian desert, on the caravan road between Damascus and the Euphrates, - according to modern accounts, not more than seventeen hours' journey from that river; and there are still magnificent ruins which attest the former glory of this wealthy and, under queen Zenobia, very powerful city (cf. Ritter, Erdk. xvii. 2, p. 1486ff., and E. Osiander in Herzog's Cycl.). The correctness of this explanation of the name is placed beyond all doubt by the words "in the wilderness;" and consequently even Movers has given up his former opinion, viz., that it was the city of Thamar in southern Judah (Eze 47:19; Eze 48:28), which Thenius has since adopted, and has decided in favour of Palmyra, without being led astray by the attempt of Hitzig to explain the name from the Sanscrit (vid., Deutsche morgld. Ztschr. viii. p. 222ff.). The expression בּארץ appears superfluous, as all the cities named before were situated in the land or kingdom of Solomon, and Tadmor is sufficiently defined by בּמּדבּר (in the desert). The text is evidently faulty, and either the name of the land, namely Hamath (according to Ch2 8:4), has dropped out, or בּארץ is to be taken in connection with what follows (according to the Cod. Al. of the lxx), and the cop. ו before כּל־ערי את must be erased and inserted before בּארץ ("and in the land of all the magazine-cities").
The "magazine-cities" (המּסכּנות ערי) were fortified cities, in which the produce of the land was collected, partly for provisioning the army, and partly for the support of the rural population in times of distress (Ch2 17:12; Ch2 32:28), similar to those which Pharaoh had built in the land of Goshen (Exo 1:11). If they were situated on the great commercial roads, they may also have served for storing provisions for the necessities of travellers and their beasts of burden. The cities for the war-chariots (הרכב) and cavalry (הפּרשׁים) were probably in part identical with the magazine-cities, and situated in different parts of the kingdom. There were no doubt some of these upon Lebanon, as we may on the one hand infer from the general importance of the northern frontier to the security of the whole kingdom, and still more from the fact that Solomon had an opponent at Damascus in the person of Rezin (Kg1 11:24), who could easily stir up rebellion in the northern provinces, which had only just been incorporated by David into the kingdom; and as we may on the other hand clearly gather from Ch2 16:4, according to which there were magazine-cities in the land of Naphtali. Finally, the words "and what Solomon had a desire to build" embrace all the rest of his buildings, which it would have occupied too much space to enumerate singly. That the words חשׁק את are not to be so pressed as to be made to denote simply "the buildings undertaking for pure pleasure," like the works mentioned in Ecc 2:4., as Thenius and Bertheau suppose, is evident from a comparison of Kg1 9:1, where all Solomon's buildings except the temple and palace, and therefore the fortifications as well as others, are included in the expression "all his desire." - Fuller particulars concerning the tributary workmen are given in Kg1 9:20. The Canaanitish population that was left in the land were made use of for this purpose, - namely, the descendants of the Canaanites who had not been entirely exterminated by the Israelites. "Their children," etc., supplies a more precise definition of the expression "all the people," etc., in Kg1 9:20.
Solomon did not make Israelites into tributary slaves; but they were warriors, ministers, and civil and military officers. עבדים are the king's servants; שׂרים, the heads of the military and civil service; שׁלשׁים, royal adjutants (see at Sa2 23:8); וּפרשׁיו רכבּו שׂרי, captains over the royal war-chariots and cavalry. - For Kg1 9:23 compare Kg1 5:16.
Kg1 9:24, Kg1 9:25 contain two notices, with which the account of Solomon's buildings is brought to a close. Both verses point back to Kg1 3:1-4 (viz., Kg1 9:24 to Kg1 3:1, and Kg1 9:25 to Kg1 3:2-4), and show how the incongruities which existed at the commencement of Solomon's reign were removed by his buildings. When Solomon married Pharaoh's daughter, he brought her into the city of David (Kg1 3:1), until he should have finished his palace and built her a house of her own within it. After this building was completed, he had her brought up from the city of David into it. עלה, came up, inasmuch as the palace stood upon the loftier summit of Zion. אך is to be connected with אז which follows, in the sense of only or just as: as soon as Pharaoh's daughter had gone up into the house built for her, Solomon built Millo.
(Note: Nothing certain can be gathered from this notice as to the situation of this castle. The remark made by Thenius, to the effect that it must have joined that portion of the palace in which the harem was, rests upon the assumption that Millo was evidently intended to shelter the harem, - an assumption which cannot be raised into a probability, to say nothing of a certainty. The building of Millo immediately after the entrance of Pharaoh's daughter into the house erected for her, may have arisen from the fact that David (? Solomon - Tr.) could not undertake the fortification of Jerusalem by means of this castle till after his own palace was finished, because he had not the requisite labour at command for carrying on all these buildings at the same time.)
After the building of the temple, the practice of sacrificing upon the altars of the high places could be brought to an end (Kg1 3:2). Solomon now offered burnt-offerings and thank-offerings three times a year upon the altar which he had built to the Lord, i.e., upon the altar of burnt-offering in the temple, or as 2 Chron 8; 12 adds by way of explanation, "before the porch." "Three times in the year:" i.e., at the three great yearly feasts - passover, the feast of weeks, and the feast of tabernacles (Ch2 8:13). The words which follow, אתּו והקטיר, "and indeed burning (the sacrifice) at the (altar) which was before Jehovah," cannot be taken as parallel to the preceding clause, and understood as referring to the incense, which was offered along with the bleeding sacrifices, because הקטיר is not a preterite, but an inf. absol., which shows that this clause merely serves as an explanation of the preceding one, in the sense of, "namely, burning the sacrifices at the altar which was before Jehovah." חקטיר is the technical expression here for the burning of the portions of the sacrificial flesh upon the altar, as in Exo 29:18; Lev 1:9, etc. On the use of אשׁר after אתּו, which Thenius and Bttcher could not understand, and on which they built up all kinds of conjectures, see Ewald, 333, a., note. - את־הבּית ושׁלּם, "and made the house complete," i.e., he put the temple into a state of completion by offering the yearly sacrifices there from that time forward, or, as Bttcher explains it, gave it thereby its full worth as a house of God and place of worship. ושׁלּם is to be taken grammatically as a continuation of the inf. abs. הקטיר.
He sends ships to Ophir. - Solomon built a fleet (אני is collective, ships or fleet; the nom. unitatis is אניּה) at Eziongeber, near Eloth, on the coast of the Red Sea (ים־סוּף: see at Exo 10:19), in the land of Edom; and Hiram sent in the fleet "shipmen that had knowledge of the sea" along with Solomon's servants to Ophir, whence they brought to king Solomon 420 talents of gold. Eziongeber, a harbour at the north-eastern end of the Elanitic Gulf, was probably the "large and beautiful town of Asziun" mentioned by Makrizi (see at Num 33:35), and situated on the great bay of Wady Emrag (see Rppell, Reisen in Nubien, pp. 252-3). Eloth (lit., trees, a grove, probably so named from the large palm-grove in the neighbourhood), or Elath (Deu 2:8; Kg2 14:22 : see at Gen 14:6), the Aila and Aelana of the Greeks and Romans, Arab. Aileh, was situated at the northern point of the (Elanitic) gulf, which took its name from the town; and in the time of the Fathers it was an important commercial town. It was not far from the small modern fortress of Akaba, where heaps of rubbish still show the spot on which it formerly stood (compare Rppell, Nub. p. 248, with plates 6 and 7, and Robinson, Pal. i. p. 251ff.). - The corresponding text, Ch2 8:17-18, differs in many respects from the account before us. The statement in the Chronicles, that Solomon went to Eziongeber and Elath, is but a very unimportant deviation; for the building of the fleet makes it a very probable thing in itself that Solomon should have visited on that account the two towns on the Elanitic Gulf, which were very near to one another, to make the requisite arrangements upon the spot for this important undertaking. There is apparently a far greater deviation in Kg1 9:27, where, in the place of the statement that Hiram sent בּאני, in the (or a) fleet, his servants as sailors who had knowledge of the sea, the chronicler affirms that Hiram sent by his servants ships and men who had knowledge of the sea. For the only way in which Hiram could send ships to Eziongeber was either by land or (as Ritter, Erdk. xiv. p. 365, supposes) out of the Persian Gulf, supposing that the Tyrians had a fleet upon that sea at so early a date as this. The statement in the Chronicles receives an apparent confirmation from Kg1 10:22, "The king had a Tarshish fleet upon the sea with the fleet of Hiram," if indeed this passage also refers to the trade with Ophir, as is generally supposed; for then these words affirm that Hiram sent ships of his own to Ophir along with those of Solomon. We do not think it probable, however that the words "Hiram sent ships by his own men" are to be so pressed as to be taken to mean that he had whole ships, or ships taken to pieces, conveyed to Eziongeber either from Tyre or out of the Mediterranean Sea, although many cases might be cited from antiquity in support of this view.
(Note: Thus, for example, according to Arriani exped. Alex. l. v. p. 329, and vii. p. 485 (ed. Blanc), Alexander the Great had ships transported from Phoenicia to the Euphrates, and out of the Indus into the Hydaspes, the ships being taken to pieces for the land transport (ἐτμήθησαν), and the pieces (τμήματα) afterwards joined together again. Plutarch relates (vita Anton. p. 948, ed. Frkf. 1620) that Cleopatra would have had her whole fleet carried across the isthmus which separates Egypt from the Red Sea, and have escaped by that means, had not the Arabs prevented the execution of her plan by burning the first ships that were drawn up on the land. According to Thucydides, bell. Pelop. iv. 8, the Peloponnesians conveyed sixty ships which lay at Corcyra across the Leucadian isthmus. Compare also Polyaeni strateg. v. 2, 6, and Ammian. Marcell. xxiv. 7, and from the middle ages the account of Makrizi in Burckhardt's Reisen in Syrien, p. 331.)
In all probability the words affirm nothing more than that Hiram supplied the ships for this voyage, that is to say, that he had them built at Eziongeber by his own men, and the requisite materials conveyed thither, so far as they were not to be obtained upon the spot. At any rate, Solomon was obliged to call the Tyrians to his help for the building of the ships, since the Israelites, who had hitherto carried in no maritime trade at all, were altogether inexperienced in shipbuilding. Moreover, the country round Eziongeber would hardly furnish wood adapted for the purpose, as there are only palms to be found there, whose spongy wood, however useful it may be for the inside of houses, cannot be applied to the building of ships. But if Hiram had ships built for Solomon by his own men and sent him sailors who were accustomed to the sea, he would certainly have some of his own ships engaged in this maritime trade; and this explains the statement in Kg1 10:22.
The destination of the fleet was Ophir, whence the ships brought 420 or (according to the Chronicles) 450 talents of gold. The difference between 420 and 450 may be accounted for from the substitution of the numeral letter נ (50) for כ (20). The sum mentioned amounted to eleven or twelve million dollars (from 1,600,000 to 1,800,000 - Tr.), and the question arises, whether this is to be taken as the result of one voyage, or as the entire profits resulting from the expeditions to Ophir. The words admit of either interpretation, although they are more favourable to the latter than to the former, inasmuch as there is no allusion whatever to the fact that they brought this amount all at once or on every voyage. (See also at Kg1 10:14, Kg1 10:22.) The question as to the situation of Ophir has given rise to great dispute, and hitherto no certain conclusion has been arrived at; in fact, it is possible that there are no longer any means of deciding it. Some have endeavoured to prove that it was in southern Arabia, others that it was on the eastern coast of Africa, and others again that it was in Hither India.
(Note: Compare the thorough examination of the different views concerning Ophir in C. Ritter's Erdk. xiv. pp. 348-431, with the briefer collection made by Gesenius in his Thes. p. 141f. and in the Allgem. Encyclop. der Wissenschaft u. Knste, 3 Sect. Bd. 4, p. 201ff., and by Pressel, art. "Ophir," in Herzog's Cyclopaedia. - We need not dwell upon the different opinions held by the earlier writers. But among modern authors, Niebuhr, Gesenius, Rosenmller, and Seetzen decide in favour of Arabia; Quatremre (Mmoire sur le pays d'Ophir in Mm. de l'Instit. roy. 1845, t. xv. P. ii. p. 350ff.) and Movers, who takes Ophir to be the name of an emporium on the eastern coast of Africa, in favour of Sofala; while Chr. Lassen (Indische Alterthumskunde, i. p. 537ff., ii. p. 552ff.) and C. Ritter are the principal supporters of India. On the other hand, Albr. Roscher (Ptolemus und die Handelsstrassen in Central-Africa, Gotha 1857, p. 57ff.) has attempted to connect together all these views by assuming that the seamen of Hiram and Solomon fetched the gold of Western Africa from the island of Dahlak in the Red Sea, and having taken it to India to exchange, returned at the end of a three years' voyage enriched with gold and the productions of India.)
The decision is dependent upon a previous question, whether Kg1 10:22, "The king had a Tarshish fleet upon the sea with the fleet of Hiram; once in three years came the Tarshish fleet, bringing gold, silver," etc., also applies to the voyage to Ophir. The expression "Tarshish fleet;" the word בּיּם ("on the sea"), which naturally suggests that sea to which the Israelites applied the special epithet היּם, namely the Mediterranean; and lastly, the difference in the cargoes, - the ships from Ophir bringing gold and algummim wood (Kg1 9:28 and Kg1 10:11), and the Tarshish fleet bringing gold, silver, ivory, apes, and peacocks (Kg1 10:22), - appear to favour the conclusion that the Tarshish fleet did not sail to Ophir, but upon the Mediterranean Sea to Tarshish, i.e., Tartessus in Spain; to which we may add the fact that תרשׁישׁ אני is reproduced in Ch2 9:21 by תּרשׁישׁ הלכות אניּות, "ships going to Tarshish." Nevertheless, however plausible these arguments may appear, after a renewed investigation of the subject I cannot regard them as having decisive weight: for (1) the expression "Tarshish fleet" is used in Kg1 22:49 in connection with ships that were intended to go to Ophir; (2) בּיּם (upon the sea) might receive its more precise definition from what precedes; and (3) the difference in the cargoes reduces itself to this, that in addition to the gold, which was the chief production of Ophir, there are a few other articles of trade mentioned, so that the account in Kg1 10:22 is more complete than that in Kg1 9:28 and Kg1 10:11. The statement concerning the Tarshish fleet in Kg1 10:22 contains a passing remark, like that in Kg1 10:11, from which we must infer that both passages treat in the same manner simply of the voyage to Ophir, and therefore that the term "Tarshish ships," like our Indiamen (Indienfahrer), was applied to ships intended for long voyages. If, in addition to the ships sailing to Ophir, Solomon had also had a fleet upon the Mediterranean Sea which sailed with the Phoenicians to Tartessus, this would certainly have been mentioned here (Kg1 9:27-28) at the same time as the Ophir voyage. On all these grounds we can come to no other conclusion than that the expression in Ch2 9:21, "ships going to Tarshish," is simply a mistaken exposition of the term "Tarshish fleet," - a mistake which may easily be explained from the fact, that at the time when the Chronicles were written, the voyages not only of the Israelites but also of the Tyrians both to Ophir and Tarshish had long since ceased, and even the geographical situation of these places was then unknown to the Jews (see my Introduction to the Old Test. p. 442, ed. 2).
The name Ophir occurs first of all in Gen 10:29 among the tribes of Southern Arabia, that were descended from Joktan, between Seba and Havilah, i.e., the Sabaeans and Chaulotaeans. Hence it appears most natural to look for the gold-land of Ophir in Southern Arabia. But as there is still a possibility that the Joktanide tribe of Ophir, or one branch of it, may subsequently have emigrated either to the eastern coast of Africa or even to Hither India, and therefore that the Solomonian Ophir may have been an Arabian colony outside Arabia, the situation of this gold country cannot be determined without further evidence from Gen 10:29 alone; but before arriving at an actual decision, we must first of all examine the arguments that may be adduced in support of each of the three countries named. Sofala in Eastern Africa, in the Mozambique Channel, has nothing in common with the name Ophir, but is the Arabic suflah (Heb. שׁפלה), i.e., lowland or sea-coast; and the old Portuguese accounts of the gold mines in the district of Fura there, as well as the pretended walls of the queen of Saba, have far too little evidence to support them, to have any bearing upon the question before us. The supposed connection between the name Ophir and the city of Σουπάρα mentioned by Ptolemaeus, or Οὔππαρα by Periplus (Geogr. min. i. p. 30), in the neighbourhood of Goa, or the shepherd tribe of Abhira, cannot be sustained. Σουπάρα or Sufra (Edrisi) answers to the Sanscrit Supara, i.e., beautiful coast (cf. Lassen, Ind. Alterthk. i. p. 107); and Οὔππαρα in Periplus is not doubt simply a false reading for Σουπάρα, which has nothing in common with אופיר. And the shepherd tribe of Abhira can hardly come into consideration, because the country which they inhabited, to the south-east of the mouths of the Indus, has no gold. - Again, the hypothesis that India is intended derives just as little support from the circumstance that, with the exception of Gen 10:29, the lxx have always rendered אופיר either Σωφιρά or Σουφίρ, which is, according to the Coptic lexicographers, the name used by the Copts for India, and that Josephus (Ant. viii. 6, 4), who used the Old Test. in the Alexandrian version, has given India as the explanation of Ophir, as it does from this supposed resemblance in the names. For, according to the geographical ideas of the Alexandrians and later Greeks, India reached to Ethiopia, and Ethiopia to India, as Letronne has conclusively proved (see his Mmoire sur une mission arienne, etc., in Mm. de l'Instit. Acad. des Inscript. et Bell. Lettres, t. x. p. 220ff.).
Greater stress has been laid upon the duration of the voyages to Ophir, - namely, that the Tarshish fleet came once in three years, according to Kg1 10:22, and brought gold, etc. But even Lassen, who follows Heeren, observes quite truly, that "this expression need not be understood as signifying that three whole years intervened between the departure and return, but simply that the fleet returned once in the course of three years." Moreover, the stay in Ophir is to be reckoned in as part of the time occupied in the voyage; and that this is not to be estimated as a short one, is evident from the fact that, according to Homer, Odyss. xv. 454ff., a Phoenician merchantman lay for a whole year at one of the Cyclades before he had disposed of his wares of every description, in return for their articles of commerce, and filled his roomy vessel. If we add to this the slowness of the voyage, - considering that just as at the present day the Arabian coasters go but very slowly from port to port, so the combined fleet of Hiram and Solomon would not be able to proceed with any greater rapidity, inasmuch as the Tyrians were not better acquainted with the dangerous Arabian Sea than the modern Arabians are, and that the necessary provisions for a long voyage, especially the water for drinking, could not be taken on board all at once, but would have to be taken in at the different landing-places, and that on these occasions some trade would be done, - we can easily understand how a voyage from Eziongeber to the strait of Bab el Mandeb and the return might occupy more than a year,
(Note: It is no proof to the contrary, that, according to the testimony of ancient writer, as collected by Movers (Phniz. ii. 3, p. 190ff.), the Phoenicians sailed almost as rapidly as the modern merchant ships; for this evident simply applies to the voyages on the Mediterranean Sea with which they were familiar, and to the period when the Phoenician navigation had reached its fullest development, so that it has no bearing upon the time of Solomon and a voyage upon the Arabian Sea, with which the Phoenicians were hitherto quite unacquainted. - Again, the calculation made by Lassen (ii. pp. 590-1), according to which a voyage from Eziongeber to the mouth of the Indus could have been accomplished in a hundred days, is founded upon the assumption that the Phoenicians were already acquainted with the monsoon and knew what was the best time for the navigation of the Red Sea, - an assumption which can neither be proved nor shown to be probable.)
so that the time occupied in the voyage as given here cannot furnish any decisive proof that the fleet sailed beyond Southern Arabia to the East Indies.
And lastly, the same remarks apply to the goods brought from Ophir, which many regard as decisive evidence in favour of India. The principal article for which Ophir became so celebrated, viz., the gold, is not found either in Sufra near Goa, or in the land of Abhira. Even if India be much richer in gold than was formerly supposed (cf. Lassen, ii. p. 592), the rich gold country lies to the north of Cashmir (see Lassen, ii. pp. 603-4). Moreover, not only is it impossible to conceive what goods the Phoenicians can have offered to the Indian merchants for their gold and the other articles named, since large sums of gold were sent to India every year in the Roman times to pay for the costly wares that were imported thence (see Roscher, pp. 53, 54); but it is still less possible to comprehend how the shepherd tribe of Abhira could have come into possession of so much gold as the Ophir fleet brought home. The conjecture of Ritter (Erdk. xiv. p. 399) and Lassen (ii. p. 592), that this tribe had come to the coast not very long before from some country of their own where gold abounded, and that as an uncultivated shepherd tribe they attached but very little value to the gold, so that they parted with it to the Phoenicians for their purple cloths, their works in brass and glass, and for other things, has far too little probability to appear at all admissible. If the Abhira did not know the value of the gold, they would not have brought it in such quantities out of their original home into these new settlements. We should therefore be obliged to assume that they were a trading people, and this would be at variance with all the known accounts concerning this tribe. - As a rule, the gold treasures of Hither Asia were principally obtained from Arabia in the most ancient times. If we leave Havilah (Gen 2:11) out of the account, because its position cannot be determined with certainty, the only other place specially referred to in the Old Testament besides Ophir as being celebrated as a gold country is Saba, in the south-western portion of Yemen. The Sabaeans bring gold, precious stones, and incense (Isa 60:6; Eze 27:22); and the queen of Saba presented Solomon with 120 talents of gold, with perfumes and with precious stones (Kg1 10:10). This agrees with the accounts of the classical writers, who describe Arabia as very rich in gold (cf. Strabo, xvi. 777f. and 784; Diod. Sic. ii. 50, iii. 44; also Bochart, Phaleg, l. ii. c. 27). These testimonies, which we have already given in part at Exo 38:31, are far too distinct to be set aside by the remark that there is no gold to be found in Arabia at the present time. For whilst, on the one hand, the wealth of Arabia in gold may be exhausted, just as Spain no longer yields any silver, on the other hand we know far too little of the interior of Southern Arabia to be able distinctly to maintain that there is no gold in existence there. - Silver, the other metal brought from Ophir, was also found in the land of the Nabataeans, according to Strabo, xvi. p. 784, although the wealth of the ancient world in silver was chiefly derived from Tarshish or Tartessus in Spain (cf. Movers, Phniz. ii. 3, p. 36ff., where the different places are enumerated in which silver was found). - That precious stones were to be found in Arabia is evident from the passages cited above concerning the Sabaeans. - On the other hand, however, it has been supposed that the remaining articles of Ophir could only have been brought from the East Indies.
According to Kg1 10:12, the Ophir ships brought a large quantity of אלמגּים עצי (almuggim wood: Ch2 2:7, אלגּמּים). According to Kimchi (on Ch2 2:7), the אלמוּג or אלגוּם is arbor rubri coloris, dicta lingua arabica albakam (Arabic ‛l-bqm), vulgo brasilica. This tree, according to Abulfadl (Celsius, Hierob. i. p. 176), is a native of India and Ethiopia; and it is still a question in dispute, whether we are to understand by this the Pterocarpus Santal., from which the true sandal-wood comes, and which is said to grow only in the East Indies on Malabar and Java, or the Caesalpinia Sappan L., a tree which grows in the East Indies, more especially in Ceylon, and also in different parts of Africa, the red wood of which is used in Europe chiefly for dyeing. Moreover the true explanation of the Hebrew name is still undiscovered. The derivation of it from the Sanscrit Valgu, i.e., pulcher (Lassen and Ritter), has been set aside by Gesenius as inappropriate, and mocha, mochta, which is said to signify sandal-wood in Sanscrit, has been suggested instead. But no evidence has been adduced in its favour, nor is the word to be found in Wilson's Sanscrit Lexicon. If, however, this derivation were correct, אל would be the Arabic article, and the introduction of this article in connection with the word mocha would be a proof that the sandal-wood, together with its name, came to the Hebrews through merchants who spoke Arabic. - The other articles from Ophir mentioned in Kg1 10:22 are שׁגהבּים, ὀδόντες ἐλεφάντινοι (lxx), dentes elephantorum or ebur (Vulg.), דפיל ,).gluV( שׁן, elephants' teeth (Targ.). But however certain the meaning of the word may thus appear, the justification of this meaning is quite as uncertain. In other cases ivory is designated by the simple term שׁן (Kg1 10:18; Kg1 22:39; Psa 45:9; Amo 3:15, etc.), whereas Ezekiel (Eze 27:15) calls the whole tusk קרנות שׁן, horns of the tooth. הבּים is said to signify elephants here; and according to Benary it is contracted from האבּים, the Sanscrit word ibha, elephant; according to Ewald, from הלבּים, from the Sanscrit Kalabha; and according to Hitzig, from נהבים = להבים, Libyi; or else שׁגהבּים is a false reading for והבנים שׁן, ivory and ebony, according to Eze 27:15 (see Ges. Thes. p. 1453). Of these four derivations the first two are decidedly wrong: the first, because ibha as a name for the elephant only occurs, according to Weber, in the later Indian writings, and is never used in the earlier writings in this sense (vid., Roediger, Addenda ad Ges. thes. p. 115); the second, because Kalabha does not signify the elephant, but catulum elephanti, before it possesses any teeth available for ivory. The third is a fancy which its originator himself has since given up and the fourth a conjecture, which is not raised to a probability even by the attempt of Bttcher to show that הבּים is a case of backward assimilation from הבנים, because the asyndeton הבּים שׁן between two couples connected by ו is without any analogy, and the passages adduced by Bttcher, viz., Deu 29:22; Jos 15:54., and Even Eze 27:33, are to be taken in quite a different way. - The rendering of קפים by apes, and the connection of the name not only with the Sanscrit and Malabar kapi, but also with the Greek κῆπος and κῆβος, also κεῖβος, are much surer; but, on the other hand, the assumption that the Greeks, like the Semitic nations, received the word from the Indians along with the animals, is very improbable: for κῆπος in Greek does not denote the ape (πίθηκος) generally, but simply a species of long-tailed apes, the native land of which, according to the testimony of ancient writers, was Ethiopia,
(Note: Compare Aristoteles, hist. animal. ii. 8: ἔστι δὲ ὁ μέν κῆβος πίθηκος ἔχων οὐράν. Strabo, xvii. p. 812: ἔστι δὲ ὁ κῆπος τὸ μέν πρόσωπον ἐοικὼς Σατύρῳ, τ ̓ ἄλλα δὲ κυνὸς καὶ ἄρκτου μεταξύ· γεννᾶται δ ̓ ἐν Αἰθιοπίᾳ. Plinius, h. n. viii. 19 (28): Iidem (the games of Pompey the Great) ostenderunt ex Aethiopia quas vocant κήπους, quarum pedes posteriores pedibus humanis et cruribus, priores manibus fuere similes. Solinus Polyh. says the same (Bochart, Hieroz. i. lib. iii. c. 31).
and the Ethiopian apes are hardly likely to have sprung from India. - And lastly, even in the case of תּכּיּים, according to the ancient versions peacocks, the derivation from the Malabaric or Tamul tgai or tghai (cf. Roediger in Ges. Thes. p. 1502) is not placed beyond the reach of doubt.
If, in conclusion, we look through all the articles of commerce that were brought to Jerusalem from the Ophir voyages, apart from the gold and silver, which were not to be found in the land of Abhira, the ivory and ebony (supposing that we ought to read והבנים שׁן for שׁגהבּים) furnish no evidence in support of India, inasmuch as both of them could have been brought from Ethiopia, as even Lassen admits (ii. pp. 554). And even if the words Almuggim, Kophim, and Tucchijim really came from India along with the objects to which they belonged, it would by no means follow with certainty from this alone that Ophir was situated in India. - For since, for example, there are indisputable traces of very early commercial intercourse between India and Hither Asia and Africa, especially Southern Arabia and Ethiopia, reaching far beyond the time of Solomon, the seamen of Hiram and Solomon may have obtained these articles either in Arabia or on the Ethiopian coast. For even if the statements of Herodotus and Strabo, to the effect that the Phoenicians emigrated from the islands of the Erythraean Sea, Tylos (or Tyros?) and Arados, to the Phoenician coast, do not prove that the Phoenicians had already extended their commercial enterprise as far as India even before the twelfth century, as Lassen (ii. 597 and 584-5) supposes; if the Tyrians and Aradians, who were related to them by tribe, still continued to dwell upon the islands of the Persian Gulf, from which they could much more easily find the way to India by sea, - since the historical character of these statement has been disputed by Movers (Phnizier, ii. 1, p. 38ff.) on very weighty grounds; yet it is evident that there was a very early intercourse between East India and Africa, reaching far beyond all historical testimony, from the following well-established facts: that the Egyptians made use of indigo in the dyeing of their stuffs, and this could only have been brought to them from India; that muslins,which were likewise of Indian origin, are found among the material sin which the mummies are enveloped; and that in the graves of the kings of the eighteenth dynasty, who ceased to reign in the year 1476 b.c., there have been discovered vases of Chinese porcelain (cf. Lassen, ii. p. 596). And the intercourse between the southern coast of Arabia and Hither India may have been quite as old, if not older; so that Indian productions may have been brought to Hither Asia by the Sabaeans long before the time of Solomon (vid., Lassen, ii. pp. 593-4, and Movers, Phniz. ii. 3, pp. 247,256). But the commercial intercourse between Arabia and the opposite coast of Ethiopia, by which African productions reached the trading inhabitants of Arabia, was unquestionably still older than the trade with India. If we weigh well all these points, there is no valid ground for looking outside Arabia for the situation of the Solomonian Ophir. But we shall no doubt be obliged to give up the hope of determining with any greater precision that particular part of the coast of Arabia in which Ophir was situated, inasmuch as hitherto neither the name Ophir nor the existence of gold-fields in Arabia has been established by modern accounts, and moreover the interior of the great Arabian peninsula is still for the most part a terra incognita.
(Note: If the notice of Eupolemus contained in a fragment in Eusebius (praepar. ev. ix. 30), to the effect that David (a mistake for Solomon) sent miners to the island of Οὐρφῆ (for which Gesenius conjectures that we should read Οὐφρῆ or Οὐφήρ) in the Red Sea, which was rich in gold mines, and that they brought gold thence to Judaea, could be proved to be historical through any earlier testimony, Ophir would have been an island of the Erythraean Sea, either Dahlak inside Bab el Mandeb, or Diu Zokatara (the Sanscrit Dwipa Sukhatara, i.e., the happy island) by the present Cape Guardafui. But this notice is evidently simply a conjecture founded upon the Old Testament, having no historical value.)