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This chapter relates a second vision Solomon had at Gibeon, in which he received an answer to his prayer in the preceding chapter, ( 1 Kings 9:1-9) that passed between him and Hiram king of Tyre, ( 1 Kings 9:10-14), the places that Solomon built or repaired, ( 1 Kings 9:15-19), the Canaanitish people that became bondmen to him, and the officers he had among the children of Israel, ( 1 Kings 9:20-23) the removal of Pharaoh’s daughter to the house built for her, ( 1 Kings 9:24).
Ver. 1 . And it came to pass, when Solomon had finished the building of the house of the Lord , etc.] Which was done in seven years, ( 1 Kings 6:38). and the king’s house ; his own palace, which was finished in thirteen years, ( 1 Kings 7:1), and all Solomon’s desire which he was pleased to do ; all his other buildings, the house for Pharaoh’s daughter, the house of the forest of Lebanon, and may include his vineyards, gardens, orchards, and pools of water, made for his pleasure, ( Ecclesiastes 2:4-6) in which he succeeded and prospered, ( 2 Chronicles 7:11).
Ver. 2 . That the Lord appeared to Solomon the second time , etc.] Junius and Tremellius read this verse with the following, to the end of the ninth, in a parenthesis, and render this clause, “for the Lord had appeared”, etc. and Piscator translates it, “moreover the Lord appeared”, etc. as beginning a distinct narrative from the former; and indeed if the words are to be connected with the preceding, as in our version, this appearance must be thirteen years after the building of the temple, which is not probable; but rather it was the night after the dedication of it, when an answer was returned to Solomon’s prayer in the preceding chapter; for that it should be deferred twelve or thirteen years is not reasonable to suppose; and this appearance was the second of the kind and manner: as he had appeared unto him at Gibeon ; in a dream and a vision, and by night, ( 1 Kings 3:5), (see 2 Chronicles 7:12).
Ver. 3 . And the Lord said unto him, I have heard thy prayer and thy supplication that thou hast made before me , etc.] With delight and pleasure, and had accepted it; meaning the prayer recorded in the preceding chapter: I have hallowed this house which thou hast built ; by the cloud of glory filling it, and by fire descending from heaven, and consuming the sacrifices offered in it, ( 2 Chronicles 7:1) to put my name there for ever ; there to grant his presence, so long as his pure worship should be continued in it; so the Targum adds, “and my Shechinah or divine Majesty shall abide in it, if my will is done there continually:” and mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually ; his eyes of Providence should be upon it, to watch over it, and protect it, and his worshippers in it; and he should have a cordial regard to the sacrifices there offered, and to the persons of the offerers, so long as they offered them in a right way, and to right ends and purposes.
Ver. 4 . And if thou wilt walk before me, as David thy father walked, in integrity of heart, and in uprightness. etc.] Who, though guilty of many sins and failings in life, yet was sincere and upright in the worship of God, never apostatized from it, or fell into idolatry, which is what is chiefly respected: to do according to all that I have commanded thee, and wilt keep my statutes and my judgments ; observe all the laws of God, moral, ceremonial, and judicial.
Ver. 5 . Then I will establish the throne of thy kingdom upon Israel for ever , etc.] In a succession in his posterity, until the coming of the Messiah: as I promised unto David thy father, saying, there shall not fail thee a man upon the throne of Israel ; not fail one of his posterity to sit upon it; (see 2 Samuel 7:12,13 <19D211> Psalm 132:11,12). Ver. 6 . But if you shall at all turn from following me, you or your children , etc.] From my worship, as the Targum; either Solomon or his successors, or the people of Israel and their posterity; should they turn their backs on God and his worship, meaning not in a single instance, or in some small degree; but as in the original, “if in turning ye turn” f161 , that is, utterly, and entirely, or wholly turn from him and his worship to other gods, as follows: and will not keep my commandments and my statutes, which I have set before you, but go and serve other gods, and worship them : neglecting the will and worship of God, go into idolatrous practices, as Solomon himself did.
Ver. 7 . Then will I cut off Israel out of the land I have given them , etc.] Suffer them to be carried captive into other lands, as the ten tribes were into Assyria, and the two tribes to Babylon; which is called a plucking them up by the roots in ( 2 Chronicles 7:20) and this house, which I have hallowed for my name, will I cast out of my sight : as it was when burnt by Nebuchadnezzar: and Israel shall be a proverb and a byword among all people ; both for their sins and for their miseries; (see Deuteronomy 28:37 Jeremiah 24:9): in ( 2 Chronicles 7:20) the house or temple is said to be made a proverb of.
Ver. 8 . And at this house which is high , etc.] The house of the most High, as some render it, and in high esteem, fame, and glory, as well as it was built on an high hill, and was itself one hundred and twenty cubits high, ( 2 Chronicles 3:4), the Targum is, “and this house which was high shall be destroyed:” everyone that passeth by it shall be astonished ; at the ruins of the temple, and of the city of Jerusalem, which had been so magnificent: and shall hiss ; in scorn and derision of the people of Israel, rejoicing in their ruin: and they shall say, why hath the Lord done thus unto this land, and to this house ? or suffered it to be done, to lie thus in waste and ruins; a land in which it had been said he delighted, and looked unto from one end of the year to the other, and a house he had taken up his dwelling in; surely something more than ordinary, they suggest, must be the cause of all this.
Ver. 9 . And they shall answer , etc.] Who were left in the land when others were carried captive, as were some by Nebuchadnezzar, and who were capable of making the following answer: because they forsook the Lord ; the worship of the Lord their God, as the Targum: who brought forth their fathers out of the land Egypt ; which is observed as an aggravation of their sin: and have taken hold upon other gods : the gods of the people, as the Targum; of the Gentiles, who knew not the true God: and have worshipped them, and served them : even idols of gold and silver, wood and stone; an instance of judicial blindness they were left unto, who had been favoured with a revelation from God: therefore hath the Lord brought upon them all this evil ; their idolatry was the cause of it, than which nothing is more provoking to God.
Ver. 10 . And it came to pass at the end of twenty years , etc.] From the time Solomon first began to build: when Solomon had built the two houses, the house of the Lord, and the king’s house; the first was seven years in building, and the other thirteen; in all twenty.
Ver. 11 . (Now Hiram the king of Tyre had furnished Solomon with cedar trees and fir trees , etc.] For the building of both his houses; (see Kings 5:8,10), and with gold, according to all his desire) : which is not before mentioned, and accounts for it from whence Solomon had his gold; if he made no use, as some think he did not, of what his father left him; (see 1 Kings 7:51) with which he covered several parts of the temple, and made several vessels in it. Hiram traded to Ophir, and had it from thence; and he could supply Solomon with it, and did, before he sent a navy thither: that then Solomon gave Hiram twenty cities in the land of Galilee ; that is, by or near it, for they were not in the land of Canaan; for then Solomon could not have disposed of them, being allotted and belonging to one of the tribes of Israel, and part of the Lord’s inheritance; but they were upon the borders, particularly on the borders of Asher, if Cabul in ( Joshua 19:27), can be thought to be the same with these; though some think that Solomon did not give Hiram the possession of these cities, but the royalties and revenues of them, their produce until the debt was paid: but they rather seem to be a gratuity, and a full grant of them, and might be cities which David had conquered, and taken out of the hands of the ancient inhabitants of them; and so Solomon had a right to dispose of them, being left him by his father; for it is plain as yet they were not inhabited by Israelites; (see 2 Chronicles 8:2). They are by a Jewish writer said to be twenty two, very wrongly.
Ver. 12 . And Hiram came out from Tyre to see the cities which Solomon had given him , etc.] For these cities, being in or near Galilee, were not far from Tyre: and they pleased him not ; being either out of repair, as some think; (see 2 Chronicles 8:2) or the ground barren, and unfruitful; which is not likely, being in a very fruitful country, as the tribes on which they bordered were: but they were not agreeable to him, they did not suit with the disposition of him and his people, who were given not to husbandry, but to merchandise; and the land about these would require a good deal of pains and labour to till, which they were not used to.
Ver. 13 . And he said , etc.] By letter to him: what cities are these which thou hast given me, my brother ? so he called him, being not only his neighbour, but his ally, in friendship and covenant with him; and this he said of them not by way of complaint, or contempt, as unworthy of his acceptance; for so munificent a prince as Solomon would never offer to a king to whom he was so much obliged anything mean and contemptible; but as being unsuitable to him, however valuable they might be in themselves, or of advantage to others: and he called them the land of Cabul unto this day ; or rather the words should be rendered impersonally, “they were called so”; for Hiram could not call them by this name to the times of the writer of this book; nor is there any reason to think he would give them any name at all, and much less a contemptible one, as this is thought to be, when he did not choose to accept of them. Some interpret the word shut up, or unfruitful, sandy, dirty, clayey; so in the Talmud it is said to be a sandy land, and called Cabul, because a man’s foot was plunged in it up to his ankles, and is represented as unfruitful. Josephus says, in the Phoenician tongue it signifies “not pleasing”, which agrees with what Hiram says, ( 1 Kings 9:12). Hillerus interprets it “as nothing”, they being as nothing to Hiram, of no use to him, whatever they might be to others; and therefore he restored them to Solomon, ( 2 Chronicles 8:2), which seems to be the best sense of the word. They are the same with Decapolis, ( Matthew 4:25) so called from ten cities therein f167 .
Ver. 14 . And Hiram sent to the king one hundred and twenty talents of gold .] Not after the cities had been given him, but before; and it may be rendered “had sent” f168 , and is the sum of the gold he furnished him with for the temple, ( 1 Kings 9:11) which, according to Brerewood f169 , was 540,000 pounds of our money; and, according to another writer, it amounted to 1,466,400 ducats of gold, taking a talent at 12,220 ducats.
Ver. 15 . And this is the reason of the levy which King Solomon raised , etc.] Both of men to work, ( 1 Kings 5:13), and of money to defray the expense: it was for to build the house of the Lord ; the temple: and his own house ; or palace: and Millo ; which he repaired: (see Gill on “ 1 Samuel 5:9”). and the wall of Jerusalem ; which, as Abarbinel says, was a large building, there being three walls one within another: and Hazor ; a city in the tribe of Naphtali, and which had been a royal city with the Canaanites; (see Joshua 11:1 19:36) and Megiddo ; which was in the tribe of Manasseh, ( Joshua 17:11) and Gezer ; which was in the tribe of Ephraim, and formerly a royal city of the Canaanites, ( Joshua 10:33 16:3).
Ver. 16 . For Pharaoh king of Egypt had gone up, and taken Gezer, and burnt it with fire , etc.] Egypt lay lower than Canaan, and therefore Pharaoh is said to go up to it; what moved him to it is not certain; whether he went of himself provoked, or was moved to it by Solomon, who had married his daughter; however, so he did, and took the place, and burnt it: and slain the Canaanites that dwelt in the city : for though it was given to the tribe of Ephraim, yet they could not drive the Canaanites out of it, who seem to have remained in it to this time; (see Joshua 16:10 Judges 1:29) and given it for a present unto his daughter, Solomon’s wife ; not as a dowry with her, but as a present to her; perhaps some time after marriage.
Ver. 17 . And Solomon built Gezer , etc.] Rebuilt it, it having been burnt, at least great part of it, by Pharaoh when he took it: and Bethhoron the nether ; and the upper also, ( 2 Chronicles 8:5), which belonged to the tribe of Ephraim, and were on the borders of it, between that and Benjamin, ( Joshua 16:3,5 18:13,14).
Ver. 18 . And Baalath , etc.] A city in the tribe of Dan, ( Joshua 19:44) and Tadmor in the wilderness, in the land ; or “Tamar”, as in the Cetib, or Scriptural reading; for we go according to the marginal reading, and so Thamato in Ptolemy f171 ; and is thought by some to be the same with Tamar in ( Ezekiel 47:19), which Jerom there says is Palmyra. Tamar signifies a palm tree, from whence this city had its name Palmyra, the situation of which place agrees with this; hence we read both in Ptolemy and Pliny of the Palmyrene deserts: the ruins of it are to be seen to this day, and of it this account is given; that it is enclosed on three sides with long ridges of mountains, which open towards the east gradually, to the distance of about an hour’s riding; but to the south stretches a vast plain, beyond the reach of the eye; the air is good, but the soil exceeding barren; nothing green to be seen therein, save some few palm trees in the gardens, and here and there about the town; and from these trees, I conceive, says my author, it obtained its name both in Hebrew and in Latin: it appears to have been of a large extent, by the space now taken up by the ruins; but there are no footsteps of any wall remaining, nor is it possible to judge of the ancient figure of the place. The present inhabitants, as they are poor, miserable, dirty people, so they have shut themselves up, to the number of about thirty or forty families, in little huts made of dirt, within the walls of a spacious court, which enclosed a most magnificent Heathen temple f174 .
Benjamin of Tudela says f175 , it is situated in a wilderness, far from any habitable place, and is four days’ journey from Baalath before mentioned; which place he takes to be the same with Baalbek, in the valley of Lebanon, built by Solomon for Pharaoh’s daughter; which, according to the Arabic geographer f176 , was situated at the foot of Mount Lebanon; and Tadmor seems to be in the land of Hamathzobah, ( 2 Chronicles 8:3,4). Ver. 19 . And all the cities of store that Solomon had , etc.] In which were his magazines of corn, arms, and ammunition; and these were built in Hamath, ( 2 Chronicles 8:4) and cities for his chariots ; chariots of war, iron chariots, which were kept in times of peace, in case of necessity, of which Solomon had 1400, ( Kings 10:26), and cities for his horsemen ; of which he had 12,000, a standing cavalry: and that which Solomon desired to build in Jerusalem ; besides the temple and his own palace before mentioned; (see Ecclesiastes 2:4), and in Lebanon ; the house of the forest of Lebanon, which Junius on ( Kings 7:2) thinks he built after he had taken Hamathzobah, a royal city of Lebanon; (see 2 Chronicles 8:3,6) or fortresses on Mount Lebanon, which was the northern border of his kingdom: and in all the land of his dominions ; where he might repair or fortify cities, or erect new forts for the safety of his kingdom; now for the doing of all this was the levy both of men and money raised, and of whom next follows.
Ver. 20 . And all the people that were left of the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites , etc.] Who were not destroyed in the times of Joshua, or since, but dwelt in several cities of the land of Israel from those times; (see Judges 1:1), which were not of the children of Israel; not natives of the land of Israel, though they might be proselytes, at least some of them.
Ver. 21 . Their children that were left after them in the land , etc.] The posterity of those left unsubdued in the times of Joshua: whom the children of Israel also were not able utterly to destroy ; in later times, though now it is thought by some it was not for want of power, but because they had made a covenant with them, as the Gibeonites did, and therefore they could not, because it would have been a breach of covenant to have destroyed them; (see 2 Chronicles 8:8), upon these did Solomon levy a tribute of bond service unto this day ; not a tribute of money, which being poor they were not able to pay, but of service, and which being once laid on was continued, and even to the time of the writing of this book. Ver. 22 . But of the children of Israel did Solomon make no bondmen , etc.] For that was contrary to the law; they might be hired servants, but not bond servants, ( Leviticus 25:39,40) but they were men of war ; which he kept in pay, a standing army, maintained even in time of peace, in case of necessity, should an enemy attempt to invade or surprise them: and his servants ; in his family and court, who had offices and employments there: and his princes ; ministers of state, counsellors, governors of cities, etc. and his captains ; officers in his army: and rulers of his chariots and his horsemen ; war chariots and troopers; (see 1 Kings 9:19).
Ver. 23 . These were the chief of the officers over Solomon’s work , etc.] In building the above houses and cities: five hundred and fifty which bore rule over the people that wrought in the work ; in ( 2 Chronicles 8:10) they are said to be but two hundred and fifty; now it may be observed, as is by the Jewish writers, that there were three sorts of those rulers; the lowest rank and order of them consisted of 3300, the next of three hundred which were over the 3300, and being numbered with them made 3600, ( 2 Chronicles 2:18) and the highest rank of them were two hundred and fifty, and the middlemost and highest being joined together, as they are here, made five hundred and fifty.
Abarbinel reconciles the places thus, the two hundred and fifty were only over those that wrought in the temple; and the five hundred and fifty here were those that were over such that were employed in the various parts of the kingdom.
Ver. 24 . But Pharaoh’s daughter came up out of the city of David , etc.] Where he placed her when he first married her, until he had finished his buildings, ( 1 Kings 3:1), which being done he brought her from thence unto her house, which Solomon had built for her; the reason of which is given, not only because it was the house of David, but because it was holy by the ark being there for some time; and therefore he did not judge it proper that his wife, an Egyptian woman, and sometimes in her impurity, should dwell there; (see 2 Chronicles 8:11), then did he build Millo : this being particularly repeated from ( 1 Kings 9:15), and following upon what is said of Pharaoh’s daughter, has led many Jewish writers to conclude her house was built at Millo; and indeed, without supposing this, it is hard to conceive why it should be observed here; the Targum on ( 2 Chronicles 8:11) calls her name Bithiah.
Ver. 25 . And three times in a year did Solomon offer burnt offerings and peace offerings upon the altar which he built unto the Lord , etc.] The brasen altar, the altar of burnt offering, which stood in the court of the priests, and by whom he offered. The three times were the feasts of passover, pentecost, and tabernacles, as explained in ( 2 Chronicles 8:13), not that these were the only offerings, or these the only times he offered; for he offered all other sacrifices, and at all other times commanded in the law of Moses, as on sabbaths and new moons, as expressed in the above place: and he burnt incense upon the altar that was before the Lord ; the altar of incense, which stood in the holy place, right beside the most holy, in which was the ark, the symbol of the divine Presence; not that Solomon burnt incense in person, but by the priests, whom he furnished with incense; for no king might offer incense, as the case of Uzziah shows: so he finished the house ; which respects not the building of it, that had been observed before, but the service of it; as he had provided all vessels and utensils for the furniture of it, and all things to be used in them; as sacrifices for the altar of burnt offering, incense for the altar of incense, bread for the shewbread table, and oil for the lamps; so he appointed the courses of the priests, Levites, and porters, to do their duty, who went through every part of service assigned them, and completed the whole; (see 2 Chronicles 8:14).
Ver. 26 . And King Solomon made a navy of ships in Eziongeber , etc.] Which was one of the stations of the Israelites, near the wilderness of Sin, or Paran, ( Numbers 33:35), it signifies the backbone of a man; and it is said the ridge of rocks before this port were in that form, covered by the sea at high water, and sticking up with various points in a line when it was low. Josephus says in his time it was called Berenice, which is placed by Mela between the Heroopolitic bay, and the promontory Strobilus, or Pharan. It is thought probable to be the same with that which is called by the Arabs Meenah-el-Dsahab, the port of gold, called Dizahab, ( Deuteronomy 1:1), which stands upon the shore of the Arabic gulf, about two or three days’ distance from Mount Sinai; though by others thought to be the same the Arabs call Calzem, where was a great quantity of wood fit for building ships. It is further described, which is beside Elath, on the shore of the Red sea, in the land of Edom ; and when Edom was subdued by David, this port fell into his hands, and so was in the possession of Solomon; and there being plenty of timber in the parts adjacent, and this being a port in the Red sea, Solomon chose it as proper place to build ships in. Elath, near to which was, is the same the Elanitic bay had its name from; or which (see Gill on “ Deuteronomy 2:8”). Trajan, the Roman emperor, formed a navy in the Red sea f182 , that by it he might ravage and waste the borders of India; and here it seems Solomon’s navy went; (see 1 Kings 9:28).
Ver. 27 . And Hiram sent in his navy his servants , etc.] And, according to ( 2 Chronicles 8:18), ships also but how he could send them from Tyre, which lay in the Mediterranean sea, to the above ports in the Red sea, without going a great way round, is not easy to conceive. Perhaps, as Gussetins conjectures f183 , Hiram had a port in the Red sea for building and sending out ships, for the sake of his eastern navigation, and from thence he sent them to Solomon’s ports in the same sea; but if what R. Japhet f184 observes is true, that the Red sea is mixed with the sea of Joppa by means of the river Rhinocurura, as is remarked by a learned man and who approves of the observation, and thinks it does not deserve the censure Dr.
Lightfoot passes on it. If this, I say, can be supported, the difficulty is removed: so Abarbinel asserts f187 , that a branch of the Nile flows into the Red sea: and another, passing through Alexandria, runs into the Mediterranean sea. This is the first navy of ships we read of; in the construction of which, as well as in the art of navigation, the Tyrians no doubt were greatly assisting to Solomon’s servants, and which appears by what follows; and they are said to be the first that made use of ships; and the invention of ships of burden, or merchant ships, such as these were, is by Pliny ascribed to Hippus the Tyrian: and the Tyrians were famous for merchandise, which they could not carry on with foreign nations without shipping; (see Isaiah 23:8), the servants Hiram sent in Solomon’s navy were shipmen that had knowledge of the sea ; of sea coasts and ports, of the manner of guiding and managing ships at sea, and of the whole art of navigation, so far as then known, for which the Tyrians were famous; (see Ezekiel 27:3-9), with the servants of Solomon ; to instruct and assist them in naval affairs, they not having been used thereunto.
Ver. 28 . And they came to Ophir , etc.] About which place there are various opinions; some take it to be the little island of Zocatora, on the eastern coast of Africa, at a small distance from the straits of Babelmandel; others the island of Ceylon; others Sofala in Africa; some Peru in America; Vatablus the island of Hispaniola in the West Indies, discovered by Columbus, and who thought himself that he had found the land of Ophir, because of the quantity of gold in it; others the southern part of Arabia; but the most reasonable opinion is, says my author f192 , that it is a rich country in Malacca, which is a peninsula in the true Red sea (that part of the ocean which divides Asia from Africa), known by the name of the “golden Chersonese”, and which agrees with Josephus f193 ; and at twelve leagues from Malacca there is a very high mountain, which by the natives is called Ophir, and is reported to be, or to have been, very rich in gold, though at present only some tin mines are worked there; and Kircher f194 says the word Ophir is a Coptic or Egyptian word, by which the ancient Egyptians used to call that India which contains the kingdoms of Malabar, Zeilan, the golden Chersonese, and, the islands belonging to it, Sumatra, Molucca, Java, and other neighbouring golden islands. So Varrerius f195 thinks that all that coast in which are contained Pegu, Malaca, and Somatra, is Ophir; which places, besides gold, abound with elephants, apes, and parrots. In the island of Sumatra gold is now found, especially in Achin, in great plenty; in which is a mountain, called the “golden mountain”, near the mines Reland takes Ophir to be the country round about a city called Oupara or Suphara, in the East Indies, where now stands Goa, the most famous mart in all India at this day for many of those things Solomon traded thither for. Though after all perhaps there was no such place originally as Ophir in India; only the gold brought from thence was like that of Ophir in Arabia, and therefore they called the place so from whence it was had; (see Job 22:24) and fetched from thence gold four hundred and twenty talents , and brought it to King Solomon; which according to Brerewood amounted to 1,890,000 pounds of our money; and according to another writer f199 5,132,400 ducats of gold. Abarbinel says a talent of gold was equal to 12,300 Venetian ducats; in ( 2 Chronicles 8:18) it is said, that four hundred and fifty talents of gold were brought to Solomon; perhaps thirty might be expended in the voyage, or paid to Hiram’s servants for their wages, as some Jewish writers observe; or in the bulk or ore it might be four hundred and fifty talents, but when purified only four hundred and twenty, as Grotius remarks; either way removes the difficulty; though some think different voyages are respected here and there; of the gold of Ophir frequent mention is made in Scripture.