Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament1 KINGS 9
THE CONCLUSION OF SOLOMON'S BUILDING PROGRAM
Both this and 1 Kings 10 magnify the splendor and glory of the reign of Solomon, but even in these chapters we find startling evidences of the failures that dissolved his kingdom.
GOD WARNED SOLOMON AGAINST APOSTASY
And it came to pass, when Solomon had finished the building of the house of Jehovah, and the king's house, and all Solomon's desire which he was pleased to do, that Jehovah appeared to Solomon the second time, as he had appeared unto him at Gibeon. And Jehovah said unto him, I have heard thy prayer and thy supplication, that thou hast made before me: I have hallowed this house, which thou hast built, to put my name there for ever; and mine eyes and my heart shall be there perpetually. And as for thee, if thou wilt walk before me, as David thy father walked, in integrity of heart, and in uprightness, to do according to all that I have commanded thee, and wilt keep my statutes and mine ordinances; then I will establish the throne of thy kingdom over Israel for ever, according as I promised to David thy father, saying, There shall not fail thee a man upon the throne of Israel. But if ye shall turn away from following me, ye or your children, and not keep my commandments and my statutes which I have set before you, but shall go and serve other gods, and worship them; then will I cut off Israel out of the land which I have given them; and this house, which I have hallowed for my name, will I cast out of my sight; and Israel shall be a proverb and a byword among all peoples. And though this house is so high, yet shall every one that passeth by it be astonished, and shall hiss; and they shall say, Why hath Jehovah done thus unto this land, and to this house? and they shall answer, Because they forsook Jehovah their God, who brought forth their fathers out of the land of Egypt, and laid hold on other gods, and worshipped them, and served them: therefore hath Jehovah brought all this evil upon them.
The first difficulty here is the matter of dating this Divine appearance to Solomon. Both Keil and Hammond place this event in the 24th year of Solomon's reign,F1 but there is no certainty that the Temple remained undedicated for the thirteen years between its completion and the completion of the king's palaces.
Yes, God here told Solomon that he had heard his prayer and hallowed the Temple, etc., but it seems unlikely that God would have waited thirteen years to answer Solomon's prayer, which, according to its place in this narrative, took place upon the completion of the Temple. We find it very difficult to suppose that Solomon had to wait thirteen years for this assurance that God had answered his prayer at the dedication. As a matter of fact, the cloud, symbolizing the Divine presence, was an assurance then and there that God had heard and answered his supplication.
I have heard thy prayer . and have hallowed this house
(1 Kings 9:3). These words should be understood as God's reference to what he had already done thirteen years prior to this special warning of Solomon against apostasy.
I will cut off Israel out of the land . Israel shall become a proverb and a byword ... this house ... so high ... yet everyone that passeth by shall be astonished
(1 Kings 9:7-8). These dreadful consequences were promised to ensue following Israel's rejection of God and falling into idolatry. This warning was not, Added by some postexilic editor,F2 as suggested by Matheney. This writer has no patience with scholars who feel compelled to get rid of every predictive prophecy which they encounter in the Word of God. If the Bible is not literally filled with predictive prophecy of the most circumstantial and exact kind, then there's not a line of it worth reading. The passage before us is an example. Not only did God reveal to Solomon in the vision here that the shameful apostasy of Israel would result in their deportation to a foreign land, and the demolition of their vaunted Temple; but Jeremiah (Jeremiah 26:18) and Micah (Micah 3:12) prophesied the same thing. The Biblical critics, determined, if possible, to negate every predictive prophecy in the Holy Bible have here employed the services of their mythical `Deuteronomist' to put these prophecies in Solomon's vision centuries after their fulfillment! True believers cannot be deceived by that type of fembu.
Israel shall be a proverb and a byword among all people
(1 Kings 9:7). We agree with Gates that, This prophetic warning looks even beyond the captivity, and envisions the later rejection of Israel for their repudiation of Jesus Christ the Messiah.F3
And though this house is so high
(1 Kings 9:8). Solomon's Temple was built upon the highest eminence in Jerusalem; and this reference to the Temple's highness stresses the fact that it would be, Just as conspicuous in its ruin as it was in it its glory.F4
HIRAM'S DISPLEASURE WITH SOLOMON
And it came to pass at the end of twenty years, wherein Solomon had built the two houses, the house of Jehovah and the king's house (now Hiram the king of Tyre had furnished Solomon with cedar-trees and fir-trees, and with gold, according to all his desire), that then king Solomon gave Hiram twenty cities in the land of Galilee. And Hiram came out from Tyre to see the cities which Solomon had given him; and they pleased him not. And he said, What cities are these which thou hast given me, my brother? And he called them the land of Cabul unto this day. And Hiram sent to the king sixscore talents of gold.
Solomon gave Hiram twenty cities in the land of Galilee
(1 Kings 9:11). Some commentators think they have found a contradiction in 2 Chr. 8:2 where it is related that Hiram (Huram) gave Solomon these twenty cities; but that is no contradiction. Hiram announced the worthlessness of the cities and returned them to the giver, as we should have expected after what is written here.
He called them the land of Cabul
(1 Kings 9:13). Moffatt rendered this line: He called them Cabul, the good for nothing district. No wonder he returned them to Solomon. The worthlessness of the territory mentioned here was proverbial. It was that area later known as `Galilee of the Gentiles (Matthew 4:15).F5
And Hiram sent to the king six-score talents of gold
(1 Kings 9:14). Like a great many other things in this narrative, the appearance of this statement at this point is by no means chronological. This gold which Hiram sent to Solomon is that gold mentioned in 1 Kings 9:11; and it shows why Solomon ceded part of Israel's territory to Hiram, evidently as payment of a debt which Solomon was unable otherwise to pay. Solomon's grandiose building schemes were more expensive than he could actually afford.F6
SOLOMON'S BUILDING OF MANY CITIES
And this is the reason of the levy which king Solomon raised, to build the house of Jehovah, and his own house, and Millo, and the wall of Jerusalem, and Hazor, and Megiddo, and Gezer. Pharaoh king of Egypt had gone up, and taken Gezer, and burnt it with fire, and slain the Canaanites that dwelt in the city, and given it for a portion unto his daughter, Solomon's wife. And Solomon built Gezer, and Beth-horon the nether, and Baalath, and Tamar in the wilderness, in the land, and all the store-cities that Solomon had, and the cities for his chariots, and the cities for his horsemen, and that which Solomon desired to build for his pleasure in Jerusalem, and in Lebanon, and in all the land of his dominion.
And this is the reason of the levy
(1 Kings 9:15). The `reason' mentioned here was rather complex. First, his indebtedness to Hiram king of Tyre for all that gold; and secondly, that immense building program involving many cities, not merely these specifically mentioned. but many, many others! To all of those suggested here, we must also add those twenty cities that Solomon unsuccessfully tried to unload on Hiram king of Tyre (2 Chronicles 8:1-2).
Our narrator here offers this immense building program as "the reason" why Solomon raised a levy, that, of course, being a reference to the slaves of all Canaanites and the forced labor battalions of the Israelites themselves.
It is rather strange that the daughter of Pharaoh is repeatedly mentioned as "Solomon's wife," a distinction that she shared with 699 other women! It is not clear whether "her house" was a separate palace, or if it was the residence of the whole harem.
And (the) Millo
(1 Kings 9:15). The Millo, always with the definite article, is supposed to be some mound, or the filling up of a ravine in Jerusalem.F7
This writer cannot think of any compelling reason why a Christian should have the slightest interest in any detailed knowledge of all these cities that Solomon built and in those houses that he built for his pleasure, and for his horsemen, and for his chariots!
SOLOMON'S ENSLAVEMENT OF THE REMAINING CANAANITES
In our Commentary on Judges, we gave a great deal of attention to the gross sin of the Israelites in their greedy and unscrupulous enslavement of the Canaanites, instead of putting them to death as God had commanded them; and here we find that Solomon terminated that shameful procedure by enslaving the final remnants of any Canaanites left in Palestine.
As for all the people that were left of the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, who were not of the children of Israel; their children that were left after them in the land, whom the children of Israel were not able utterly to destroy, of them did Solomon raise a levy of bondservants unto this day. But of the children of Israel did Solomon make no bondservants; but they were the men of war, and his servants, and his princes, and his captains, and rulers of his chariots and of his horsemen.
While true enough that the soldiers and other `servants' of Solomon which were drawn from the Israelites themselves were not called "slaves"; they most certainly were required to serve Solomon, and it was only a matter of time and opportunity until that civilization, much as Israel loved it, was doomed to failure, as are all cultures that are supported and sustained by slave labor and unscrupulous oppression of the poor. The remnants of the Canaanites were slaves, and the Israelites were Solomon's servants, a distinction without much difference.
ADDITIONAL NOTES REGARDING SOLOMON'S REIGN
Verses 23, 24
These were the chief officers that were over Solomon's work, five hundred and fifty, who bare rule over the people that wrought in the work. But Pharaoh's daughter came up out of the city of David unto her house which [Solomon] had built for her: then did he build Millo.
The five hundred and fifty who bare rule over the people who wrought in the work
(1 Kings 9:23) These were the slave-drivers with their rods and whips. We may thank God that the sacred narrator spared us the knowledge of their names!
(1 Kings 9:24). See comment on this above under 1 Kings 9:15.
SOLOMON'S OFFERING INCENSE IN THE HOLY OF HOLIES
And three times a year did Solomon offer burnt-offerings and peace-offerings upon the altar which he built unto Jehovah, burning incense therewith, [upon the altar] that was before Jehovah. So he finished the house.
Scholars such as Hammond and Cook insist that this passage means merely that Solomon provided the offerings and the incense which were duly offered by the priests. "In sacred, as in ordinary history, men are said to do what they cause to be done."F8 "If Solomon ordered, or defrayed the cost of the sacrifices, as he no doubt did, the historian would naturally and properly have described him as offering the burnt-offerings, etc."F9 Of course, the truth of such comments must be admitted, but it is also true that the words may be understood in another sense, namely, as Dean Stanley understood them: "He solemnly entered, not only the temple courts with sacrifices, but penetrated into the Holy Place itself."F10 Also, F. W. Farrar, whom we quoted at the head of 1 Kings 8 was of the same opinion as Stanley. This writer favors those opinions of Farrar and Stanley, based upon what we believe to have been the character of Solomon.
SOLOMON'S NAVY BRINGS GOLD FROM OPHIR
And king Solomon made a navy of ships in Ezion-geber, which is beside Eloth, on the shore of the Red Sea, in the land of Edom. And Hiram sent in the navy his servants, shipmen that had knowledge of the sea, with the servants of Solomon. And they came to Ophir, and fetched from thence gold, four hundred and twenty talents, and brought it to king Solomon.
Ezion-geber. on the shore of the Red Sea
(1 Kings 9:26). This is one of the most important passages in the O.T., because of its use of the Hebrew term [~Yam] [~Cuwp], an expression which James Moffatt and many other critical scholars erroneously translated as Reed Sea in the Book of Exodus (Exodus 15:22), enabling them to postulate upon the basis of that false translation the proposition that Israel merely crossed over marshy ground and not any sea at all. James Moffatt's translation renders [~Yam] [~Cuwp] in Exo. 15:22 as Reed Sea; but here in 1 Kings 9:26, where we find exactly that same expression, [~Yam] [~Cuwp], Moffatt properly rendered it Red Sea, for the simple reason that it would be foolish to relate that Solomon launched his navy on a Reed Sea. We have elaborated this for the purpose of pointing out the essential dishonesty of that type of scholarship.
(For a further discussion of [~Yam] [~Sup], see our dissertation on this in Volume 2 (Exodus) of our Commentaries on the Pentateuch, pp. 177-179.) It is now a matter of general information that [~Yam] [~Cuwp] cannot mean either Reed Sea or Red Sea; it actually means End Sea, a proper name for the Indian Ocean which was in general use in the mid-second millennium B.C. when the Pentateuch was written by Moses.
And upon what part of the Indian Ocean did Solomon launch that navy? It was the port at the northern end of the Gulf of Aqaba. "It was at the head of the Gulf of Aqaba that Solomon built his new seaport of Ezion-geber."F11
Incidentally, present-day scholarship, coupled with extensive archaeological studies, make it clear that Moses led the children of Israel over exactly that same arm of the Indian Ocean, namely, the Gulf of Aqaba -- only Moses led them across the southern terminus of the Gulf of Aqaba, believe it or not!
Moses led Israel across the Gulf of Aqaba at its southern strait, as proved by Larry Williams' recent book The Mountain of Moses.F12 He also located Mount Horeb (Sinai) in Arabia, as Paul also did (Galatians 4:25).
And they came to Ophir, and fetched from thence gold
(1 Kings 9:28). Ophir is usually located in southwestern Arabia, but some scholars, on the basis of the cargo mentioned in 1 Kings 10:22, locate it in India.F13
Footnotes for 1 Kings 9
1: C. F. Keil, Keil and Delitzsch's Old Testament Commentaries, Vol. 3a, p. 113.
2: Broadman Bible Commentary, Vol. 3, p. 185.
3: Wycliffe Old Testament Commentary, Kings, p. 320.
4: Albert Barnes, Kings, p. 171.
5: Wycliffe Old Testament Commentary, op. cit., p. 320.
6: The Interpreter's Bible, Vol. 3, p. 93.
7: Arthur S. Peake's Commentary, p. 298.
8: Ibid., p. 173.
9: The Pulpit Commentary, Vol. 5a, p. 194
10: Dean Stanley, Jewish Church Vol. ii, pp. 220, 221, as quoted by Hammond in The Pulpit Commentary, op. cit., p. 194.
11: Broadman Bible Commentary, op. cit., p. 187.
12: Larry Williams, The Mountain of Moses (New York: Wynwood Press, 1990), pp. 1-223.
13: Wycliffe Old Testament Commentary, op. cit., p. 320.