Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
1. Hiram . . . sent his servants unto Solomon--the
grandson of David's contemporary [KITTO]; or the
same Hiram [WINER and others]. The friendly
relations which the king of Tyre had cultivated with David are here
seen renewed with his son and successor, by a message of condolence as
well as of congratulation on his accession to the throne of Israel. The
alliance between the two nations had been mutually beneficial by the
encouragement of useful traffic. Israel, being agricultural, furnished
corn and oil, while the Tyrians, who were a commercial people, gave in
exchange their Phœnician manufactures, as well as the produce of
foreign lands. A special treaty was now entered into in furtherance of
that undertaking which was the great work of Solomon's splendid and
6. command thou that they hew me cedar trees out of
Lebanon--Nowhere else could Solomon have procured materials for the
woodwork of his contemplated building. The forests of Lebanon,
adjoining the seas in Solomon's time, belonged to the Phœnicians,
and the timber being a lucrative branch of their exports, immense
numbers of workmen were constantly employed in the felling of trees as
well as the transportation and preparation of the wood. Hiram
stipulated to furnish Solomon with as large a quantity of cedars and
cypresses as he might require and it was a great additional obligation
that he engaged to render the important service of having it brought
down, probably by the Dog river, to the seaside, and conveyed along the
coast in floats; that is, the logs being bound together, to the harbor
whence they could easily find the means of transport to Jerusalem.
my servants shall be with thy servants--The operations were to be on
so extensive a scale that the Tyrians alone would be insufficient. A
division of labor was necessary, and while the former would do the work
that required skilful artisans, Solomon engaged to supply the laborers.
7. Blessed be the Lord--This language is no decisive evidence that
Hiram was a worshipper of the true God, as he might use it only on the
polytheistic principle of acknowledging Jehovah as the God of the
Hebrews (see on
8. Hiram sent to Solomon, saying, I have considered the things . . .
and I will do--The contract was drawn out formally in a written
which, according to JOSEPHUS, was preserved both
in the Jewish and Tyrian records.
10. fir trees--rather, the cypress.
11. food to his household--This was an annual supply for the palace,
different from that mentioned in
which was for the workmen in the forests.
13. Solomon raised a levy out of all Israel--The renewed notice of
Solomon's divine gift of wisdom
is evidently introduced to prepare for this record of the strong but
prudent measures he took towards the accomplishment of his work. So
great a stretch of arbitrary power as is implied in this compulsory
levy would have raised great discontent, if not opposition, had not his
wise arrangement of letting the laborers remain at home two months out
of three, added to the sacredness of the work, reconciled the people to
this forced labor. The carrying of burdens and the irksome work of
excavating the quarries was assigned to the remnant of the Canaanites
and war prisoners made by David--amounting to 153,600. The employment
of persons of that condition in Eastern countries for carrying on any
public work, would make this part of the arrangements the less thought
17. brought great stones--The stone of Lebanon is "hard, calcareous,
whitish and sonorous, like free stone"
[SHAW]. The same white and
beautiful stone can be obtained in every part of Syria and Palestine.
hewed stones--or neatly polished, as the Hebrew word signifies
Both Jewish and Tyrian builders were employed in hewing these great
18. and the stone squarers--The Margin, which renders it "the
has long been considered a preferable translation. This marginal
translation also must yield to another which has lately been proposed,
by a slight change in the Hebrew text, and which would be
rendered thus: "Solomon's builders, and Hiram's builders, did hew them
and bevel them" [THENIUS]. These great bevelled or
grooved stones, measuring some twenty, others thirty feet in length,
and from five to six feet in breadth, are still seen in the
substructures about the ancient site of the temple; and, in the
judgment of the most competent observers, were those originally
employed "to lay the foundation of the house."