Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
1. So King Solomon was king over all Israel--This chapter contains a
general description of the state and glory of the Hebrew kingdom during
the more flourishing or later years of his reign.
2. these were the princes--or chief officers, as is evident from two
of them marrying Solomon's daughters.
Azariah the son of Zadok the priest--rather, "the prince," as the
Hebrew word frequently signifies
so that from the precedency given to his person in the list, he seems
to have been prime minister, the highest in office next the king.
3. scribes--that is, secretaries of state. Under David, there had
been only one
[2Sa 8:17; 20:25].
The employment of three functionaries in this department indicates
either improved regulations by the division of labor, or a great
increase of business, occasioned by the growing prosperity of the
kingdom, or a more extensive correspondence with foreign countries.
recorder--that is, historiographer, or annalist--an office of great
importance in Oriental courts, and the duties of which consisted in
chronicling the occurrences of every day.
4. Benaiah . . . was over the host--formerly captain of the guard. He
had succeeded Joab as commander of the forces.
Zadok and Abiathar were the priests--Only the first discharged the
sacred functions; the latter had been banished to his country seat and
retained nothing more than the name of high priest.
5. over the officers--that is, the provincial governors enumerated in
principal officer, and the king's friend--perhaps president of the
privy council, and Solomon's confidential friend or favorite. This high
functionary had probably been reared along with Solomon. That he should
heap those honors on the sons of Nathan was most natural, considering
the close intimacy of the father with the late king, and the deep
obligations under which Solomon personally lay to the prophet.
6. Ahishar was over the household--steward or chamberlain of the
was over the tribute--not the collection of money or goods, but the
levy of compulsory laborers (compare
1Ki 5:13, 14).
7. Solomon had twelve officers over all Israel--The royal revenues
were raised according to the ancient, and still, in many parts,
existing usage of the East, not in money payments, but in the produce
of the soil. There would be always a considerable difficulty in the
collection and transmission of these tithes
Therefore, to facilitate the work, Solomon appointed twelve officers,
who had each the charge of a tribe or particular district of country,
from which, in monthly rotation, the supplies for the maintenance of
the king's household were drawn, having first been deposited in "the
store cities" which were erected for their reception
2Ch 8:4, 6).
8. The son of Hur--or, as the Margin has it, Benhur, Bendekar. In the rural parts of Syria, and among the Arabs, it is still common to
designate persons not by their own names, but as the sons of their
21. Solomon reigned over all kingdoms from the river--All the petty
kingdoms between the Euphrates and the Mediterranean were tributary to
him. Similar is the statement in
22, 23. Solomon's provision for one day--not for the king's table
only, but for all connected with the court, including, besides the
royal establishment, those of his royal consorts, his principal
officers, his bodyguards, his foreign visitors, &c. The quantity of
fine floor used is estimated at two hundred forty bushels; that of meal
or common flour at four hundred eighty. The number of cattle required
for consumption, besides poultry and several kinds of game (which were
abundant on the mountains) did not exceed in proportion what is needed
in other courts of the East.
24. from Tiphsah--that is, Thapsacus, a large and flourishing town on
the west bank of the Euphrates, the name of which was derived from a
celebrated ford near it, the lowest on that river.
even to Azzah--that is, Gaza, on the southwestern extremity, not far
from the Mediterranean.
25. every man under his vine and . . . fig tree--This is a common and
beautiful metaphor for peace and security
founded on the practice, still common in modern Syria, of training
these fruit trees up the walls and stairs of houses, so as to make a
shady arbor, beneath which the people sit and relax.
26. forty thousand stalls--for the royal mews
28. Barley . . . and straw--Straw is not used for litter, but barley
mixed with chopped straw is the usual fodder of horses.
dromedaries--one-humped camels, distinguished for their great
29. God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding exceeding much, and
largeness of heart--that is, high powers of mind, great capacity for
receieving, as well as aptitude for communicating knowledge.
30. Solomon's wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the children of the
east country--that is, the Arabians, Chaldeans, and Persians
all the wisdom of Egypt--Egypt was renowned as the seat of learning
and sciences, and the existing monuments, which so clearly describe the
ancient state of society and the arts, show the high culture of the
31. wiser than all men--that is, all his contemporaries, either at home
than Ethan--or Jeduthun, of the family of Merari
--the chief of the temple musicians and the king's seers
the other two are not known.
the sons of Mahol--either another name for Zerah
or taking it as a common noun, signifying a dance, a chorus, "the sons
of Mahol" signify persons eminently skilled in poetry and music.
32. he spake three thousand proverbs--embodying his moral sentiments
and sage observations on human life and character.
songs . . . a thousand and five--
Psalm 72, 127, 132,
Song of Songs
33. he spake of trees, from the cedar . . . to the hyssop--all plants,
from the greatest to the least. The Spirit of God has seen fit to
preserve comparatively few memorials of the fruits of his gigantic
mind. The greater part of those here ascribed to him have long since
fallen a prey to the ravages of time, or perished in the Babylonish
captivity, probably because they were not inspired.