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Barnes' Notes on the Bible
1And Hiram king of Tyre sent his servants unto Solomon; for he had heard that they had anointed him king in the room of his father: for Hiram was ever a lover of David.
Hiram, king of Tyre - Menander of Ephesus, who wrote a history of Tyre in Greek, founded upon native Tyrian documents, about 300 B.C., mentioned this Hiram as the son of Abibaal king of Tyre, and said that he ascended the throne when he was nineteen; that he reigned thirty-four years, and, dying at the age of fifty-three, was succeeded by his son Baleazar. Menander spoke at some length of the dealings of Hiram with Solomon.
Sent his servants - This appears to have been an embassy of congratulation.
2And Solomon sent to Hiram, saying,
3Thou knowest how that David my father could not build an house unto the name of the LORD his God for the wars which were about him on every side, until the LORD put them under the soles of his feet.
Solomon's presumption that Hiram knew David's design has not appeared in the previous history, but it is in accordance with 1 Chronicles 22:4.
4But now the LORD my God hath given me rest on every side, so that there is neither adversary nor evil occurrent.
The contrast is not between different periods of Solomon's reign, but between his reign and that of his father.
Evil occurrent - Rather, evil occurrence.
5And, behold, I purpose to build an house unto the name of the LORD my God, as the LORD spake unto David my father, saying, Thy son, whom I will set upon thy throne in thy room, he shall build an house unto my name.
As the Lord spake - See the marginal references 1 Kings 7:13, and compare 1 Chronicles 22:10.
6Now therefore command thou that they hew me cedar trees out of Lebanon; and my servants shall be with thy servants: and unto thee will I give hire for thy servants according to all that thou shalt appoint: for thou knowest that there is not among us any that can skill to hew timber like unto the Sidonians.
Solomon's message to Hiram and Hiram's answer 1 Kings 5:8-9 are given much more fully in 2 Chronicles 2:3-16.
Cedar-trees - The Hebrew word here and elsewhere translated "cedar," appears to be used, not only of the cedar proper, but of other timber-trees also, as the fir, and, perhaps, the juniper. Still there is no doubt that the real Lebanon cedar is most commonly intended by it. This tree, which still grows on parts of the mountain, but which threatens to die out, was probably much more widely spread anciently. The Tyrians made the masts of their ships from the wood Ezekiel 27:5, and would naturally be as careful to cultivate it as we have ourselves been to grow oak. The Assyrian kings, when they made their expeditions into Palestine, appear frequently to have cut it in Lebanon and Hermon, and to have transported it to their own capitals.
Skill to hew timber like unto the Sidonians - The mechanical genius and nautical skill of the Phoenicians generally, and of the Sidonians in particular, is noticed by Homer and Herodotus. In the reign of Hiram, Sidon, though perhaps she might have a king of her own, acknowledged the supremacy of Tyre.
7And it came to pass, when Hiram heard the words of Solomon, that he rejoiced greatly, and said, Blessed be the LORD this day, which hath given unto David a wise son over this great people.
8And Hiram sent to Solomon, saying, I have considered the things which thou sentest to me for: and I will do all thy desire concerning timber of cedar, and concerning timber of fir.
9My servants shall bring them down from Lebanon unto the sea: and I will convey them by sea in floats unto the place that thou shalt appoint me, and will cause them to be discharged there, and thou shalt receive them: and thou shalt accomplish my desire, in giving food for my household.
See the marginal reference. The timber was first carried westward from the flanks of Lebanon to the nearest part of the coast, where it was collected into floats, or rafts, which were then conveyed southward along the coast to Joppa, now Jaffa, from where the land journey to Jerusalem was not more than about forty miles. A similar course was taken on the building of the second temple Ezra 3:7.
Food for my household - The Phoenician cities had very little arable territory of their own, the mountain range of Lebanon rising rapidly behind them; and they must always have imported the chief part of their sustenance from abroad. They seem commonly to have derived it from Judaea (marginal references). Hiram agreed now to accept for his timber and for the services of his workmen 1 Kings 5:6 a certain annual payment of grain and oil, both of them the best of their kind, for the sustentation of his court. This payment was entirely distinct from the supplies furnished to the workmen (marginal reference "l").
10So Hiram gave Solomon cedar trees and fir trees according to all his desire.
11And Solomon gave Hiram twenty thousand measures of wheat for food to his household, and twenty measures of pure oil: thus gave Solomon to Hiram year by year.
The number of measures of wheat was considerably less than Solomon's own annual consumption, which exceeded 32,000 cors 1 Kings 4:22; but the small amount of twenty cors of oil, which seems at first sight scarcely to match with the 20,000 cors of wheat, will not appear improbable, if we consider that the oil was to be" pure" - literally "beaten" - i. e., oil extracted from the olives by pounding, and not by means of the press.
Year by year - i. e., during all the years that Solomon was engaged in building and was helped by Hiram.
12And the LORD gave Solomon wisdom, as he promised him: and there was peace between Hiram and Solomon; and they two made a league together.
The Lord gave Solomon wisdom - It seems to be implied that Solomon's divine gift of wisdom enabled him to make such favorable arrangements with Hiram.
13And king Solomon raised a levy out of all Israel; and the levy was thirty thousand men.
A levy out of all Israel - This was, apparently, the first time that the Israelites had been called upon to perform forced labor, though it had been prophesied 1 Samuel 8:16. David had bound to forced service "the strangers" 1 Chronicles 22:2; but hitherto the Israelites had escaped. Solomon now, in connection with his proposed work of building the temple, with the honor of God as an excuse, laid this burden upon them. Out of the 1,300, 000 able-bodied Israelites 2 Samuel 24:9, a band of 30,000 - one in forty-four - was raised, of whom one-third was constantly at work in Lebanon, while two-thirds remained at home, and pursued their usual occupations. This, though a very light form of task work, was felt as a great oppression, and was the chief cause of the revolt of the ten tribes at Solomon's death 1 Kings 12:4.
14And he sent them to Lebanon, ten thousand a month by courses: a month they were in Lebanon, and two months at home: and Adoniram was over the levy.
15And Solomon had threescore and ten thousand that bare burdens, and fourscore thousand hewers in the mountains;
That bare burdens ... - Compare the marginal references. These laborers, whose services were continuous, consisted of "strangers" - "the people that were left of the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites" - whom Solomon, following the example of his father 1 Chronicles 22:2, condemned to slavery, and employed in this way.
16Beside the chief of Solomon's officers which were over the work, three thousand and three hundred, which ruled over the people that wrought in the work.
Comparing this verse and 1 Kings 9:23 with 2 Chronicles 2:18; 2 Chronicles 8:10, the entire number of the overseers will be seen to be stated by both writers at 3,850; but in the one case nationality, in the other degree of authority, is made the principle of the division.
17And the king commanded, and they brought great stones, costly stones, and hewed stones, to lay the foundation of the house.
Some of these "great, hewed (no and) stones," are probably still to be seen in the place where they were set by Solomon's builders, at the southwestern angle of the wall of the Haram area in the modern Jerusalem. The largest found so far is 38 ft. 9 in. long, and weighs about 100 tons.
18And Solomon's builders and Hiram's builders did hew them, and the stonesquarers: so they prepared timber and stones to build the house.
The stone-squarers - The Gebalites (see the margin), the inhabitants of Gebal, a Phoenician city between Beyrout and Tripolis, which the Greeks called Byblus, and which is now known as Jebeil.