Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament2 CHRONICLES 9
CONCLUSION OF THE REIGN OF SOLOMON
a. Visit of the queen of Sheba:
And when the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon, she came to prove Solomon with hard questions at Jerusalem, with a very great train, and camels that bare spices, and gold in abundance, and precious stones: and when she was come to Solomon, she communed with him of all that was in her heart. And Solomon told her all her questions; and there was not anything hid from Solomon which he told her not. And when the queen of Sheba had seen the wisdom of Solomon, and the house that he had built, and the food of his table, and the sitting of his servants, and the attendance of his ministers, and their apparel, his cupbearers also, and their apparel, and his ascent by which he went up unto the house of Jehovah; there was no more spirit in her. And she said to the king, It was a true report that I heard in mine own land of thine acts, and of thy wisdom. Howbeit I believed not their words, until I came, and mine eyes had seen it; and, behold, the half of the greatness of thy wisdom was not told me: thou exceedest the fame that I heard. Happy are thy men, and happy are these thy servants, that stand continually before thee, and hear thy wisdom. Blessed be Jehovah thy God, who delighted in thee, to set thee on his throne, to be king for Jehovah thy God: because thy God loved Israel, to establish them for ever, therefore made he thee king over them, to do justice and righteousness.
(We have thoroughly discussed this visit of the queen of Sheba to Solomon in our Commentary on First Kings, pp. 129-137; and there is little that we wish to add here.) To summarize: (1) Sheba was most likely that Ethiopia over which Haile Selassie was the ruler during this century. (2) Solomon evidently was Haile Selassie's ancestor through this Ethiopian queen.
b. The queen and Solomon exchange gifts:
And she gave the king a hundred and twenty talents of gold, and spices in great abundance, and precious stones: neither was there any such spice as the queen of Sheba gave to king Solomon. And the servants also of Huram, and the servants of Solomon, that brought gold from Ophir, brought algum-trees and precious stones. And the king made of the algum-trees terraces for the house of Jehovah, and for the king's house, and harps and psalteries for the singers: and there were none such seen before in the land of Judah. And king Solomon gave to the queen of Sheba all her desire, whatsoever she asked, besides that which she had brought unto the king. So she turned, and went to her own land, she and her servants.
c. Solomon multiplies unto himself silver and gold:
Now the weight of gold that came to Solomon in one year was six hundred and threescore and six talents of gold, besides that which the traders and merchants brought: and all the kings of Arabia and the governors of the country brought gold and silver to Solomon. And king Solomon made two hundred bucklers of beaten gold; six hundred [shekels] of beaten gold went to one buckler. And [he made] three hundred shields of beaten gold; three hundred [shekels] of gold went to one shield: and the king put them in the house of the forest of Lebanon.
And the kings. and the governors ... brought gold and silver to Solomon
(2 Chronicles 8:14). These `gifts' must not be understood as voluntary in any sense of the word. Solomon's power which he had inherited from David gave him the means of extorting every possible penny out of the whole region. Solomon's conduct, as the Chronicler has outlined it here, is an anthology of Solomon's gross disobedience of all of God's commandments. God had specifically warned Israel's kings not to, multiply unto themselves silver and gold, (Deuteronomy 17:16-17); and it would have been impossible for anyone to violate that commandment with any more contempt than did Solomon.
Also the Decalogue had specifically forbidden God's people to make images or likenesses of anything either in heaven or upon earth; but look at what Solomon did in the matter of those images of lions on his throne.
d. Regarding that gold-plated, idolatrous throne:
Moreover the king made a great throne of ivory, and overlaid it with pure gold. nd there were six steps to the throne, with a footstool of gold, which were fastened to the throne, and stays on either side by the place of the seat, and two lions standing beside the stays. And twelve lions stood there on the one side and on the other upon the six steps: there was not the like made in any kingdom. And all king Solomon's drinking vessels were of gold, and all the vessels of the house of the forest of Lebanon were of pure gold: silver was nothing accounted of in the days of Solomon. For the king had ships that went to Tarshish with the servants of Huram; once every three years came the ships of Tarshish, bringing gold, and silver, ivory, and apes, and peacocks.
In addition to all of the wealth brought to Solomon by his commercial ventures, "the governors of the country" (the provincial authorities in Israel, 2 Chr. 8:14) were also subject to oppressive taxation, to such an extent that the northern tribes demanded an easement of the burden when Solomon's son succeeded him. And what did Solomon do with all that wealth? He blew all of it in ostentatious decorations of his personal effects, "a footstool of gold"! What earthly benefit was there in a thing like that? It ministered to only one thing, Solomon's colossal, conceited pride!
One thing is absolutely a mystery to this writer. How could any scholar ever have written a paragraph like the following?
These verses are closely paralleled in 1 Kings 10, the source upon which the writer relied. There was no reason to deviate from the source for it fitted quite well into his scheme for the glorification of King Solomon!F1
Contrary to this allegation, which is frequently parroted by critical scholars, a more eloquent or convincing condemnation of Solomon's sinful conceit and violation of God's Word, than that which we find right here, could not possibly have been written.
e. Solomon's riches and his alleged wisdom,
So king Solomon exceeded all the kings of the earth in riches and wisdom. And all the kings of the earth sought the presence of Solomon, to hear his wisdom, which God had put in his heart. And they brought every man his tribute, vessels of silver, and vessels of gold, and raiment, armor, and spices, horses, and mules, a rate year by year. And Solomon had four thousand stalls for horses and chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen, that he bestowed in the chariot cities, and with the king at Jerusalem. And he ruled over all the kings from the River even unto the land of the Philistines, and to the border of Egypt. And the king made silver to be in Jerusalem as stones, and cedars made he to be as the sycomore-trees that are in the lowland, for abundance. And they brought horses for Solomon out of Egypt, and out of all lands.
Solomon exceeded all the kings. in riches and wisdom
(2 Chronicles 8:22). Solomon's wisdom was unrelated to what we know as true wisdom, that kind of wisdom is defined in God's Word: The fear of Jehovah is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all they that do his commandments (Psalms 111:10). The meaning of the word wisdom, as it was used by the Chronicler, was evidently something else. As the term was used by his self-seeking flatterers, it meant little or nothing; and it could be that the Chronicler here was using it in exactly the same way. One thing is certain; namely, that Solomon neither feared God nor honored his commandments.
The passage that we have so often cited in Deut. 17:16-17 specifically forbade Israel's kings to multiply unto themselves (1) wives, (2) silver and gold and (3) horses. Solomon wantonly violated all these commandments in the most extravagant manner.
A rate year by year
(2 Chronicles 9:24). These words identify all those `gifts' that came to Solomon by those rulers throughout the world of that era, as `taxes,' or `tribute,' imposed, not occasionally, but continually year by year. This also explains why they, sought the presence of Solomon to hear his wisdom. Their @@fulsome compliments paid to Solomon were nothing but the flattery of vassal underlings seeking to make a good impression on the conceited Solomon, whom they unwillingly served as his vassals.
f. Death of Solomon and the accession of Rehoboam:
Now the rest of the acts of Solomon, first and last, are they not written in the history of Nathan the prophet, and in the prophecy of Ahijah the Shilonite, and in the visions of Iddo the seer concerning Jeroboam the son of Nebat? And Solomon reigned in Jerusalem over all Israel forty years. And Solomon slept with his fathers, and he was buried in the city of David his father: and Rehoboam his son reigned in his stead.
The important thing here is the Chronicler's mention of several of his sources. (See our Introduction to this volume for a more complete list of these.) We reject as worthless the allegation of some critics that the Chronicler invented or composed much of his material; for it is quite evident that he followed all of his sources very accurately, a fact indicated by the truth that he was careful in the use of 1 Kings, a source that we know he used.
As often noted, the only reason for the critic's rejection of much of the material in Chronicles is the havoc that it plays with a number of their favorite fairy tales, such as (1) the gradual evolution of Israel's conception of the person and nature of God, (2) the discovery of that alleged Deuteronomic document in the reign of Josiah, and (3) the late dating of the Mosaic Pentateuch.
The death of Solomon and the accession of his harem-bred son Rehoboam marked the end of the united kingdom and the beginning of a long chain of tragic events that would result in the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, and the Babylonian captivity of the People of God.
Footnotes for 2 Chronicles 9
1: The Anchor Bible, 2 Chronicles, p. 56.