1 Kings 4:31
For he was wiser than all men; than Ethan the Ezrahite, and Heman, and Chalcol, and Darda, the sons of Mahol: and his fame was in all nations round about.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(31) He was wiser.—The wisdom of “Heman, Ethan, Chalcol, and Darda,” then rivals of Solomon’s fame, is now only known to us from this passage. In the genealogy of 1Chronicles 2:6, “Ethan, Heman, Chalcol, and Dara” (or “Darda”) are found as sons of Zerah, the son of Judah; and the coincidence is remarkable enough to suggest identification. But this identification can scarcely hold. This passage evidently implies that these rivals of Solomon were contemporary with him, not belonging, therefore, to a family many generations earlier. Now it happens that we know of a Heman and an Ethan (see 1Chronicles 6:33; 1Chronicles 6:44) set by David over the service of song in the Tabernacle, and called “Ezrahites” in the titles of Psalms 88, 89 ascribed to them. Heman is, moreover, designated as “the king’s seer in the words of the Lord” (1Chronicles 25:5); and his Psalm (Psalms 88) is singularly full of thought, moral speculation, and sense of mystery in life and death. Chalcol and Darda are described as sous of Machol. The word Machol may be a proper name. But it is curious that it signifies “dance,” or “music”; and it is at least possible that they also, like Heman and Ethan, may have been thus designated, as connected with the music of the Temple. However this may be, it can hardly be wrong, in spite of the repetition of the group of names, to refer this passage to this Heman and this Ethan, and hold Chalcol and Darda to be, like them, contemporaries with Solomon.

1 Kings 4:31. He was wiser than all men — Either of his nation, or of his time: or, of all times and nations, whether of the East, or any other country, excepting only the first and second Adam. Ethan, &c. — Israelites of eminent wisdom, probably the same mentioned 1 Chronicles 2:6; 1 Chronicles 15:19; 1 Chronicles 25:4; Psalms 88., title, and 89., title. Chalcol, &c. — Of whom see 1 Chronicles 2:6.4:29-34 Solomon's wisdom was more his glory than his wealth. He had what is here called largeness of heart, for the heart is often put for the powers of the mind. He had the gift of utterance, as well as wisdom. It is very desirable, that those who have large gifts of any kind, should have large hearts to use them for the good of others. What treasures of wisdom and knowledge are lost! But every sort of knowledge that is needful for salvation is to be found in the holy Scriptures. There came persons from all parts, who were more eager after knowledge than their neighbours, to hear the wisdom of Solomon. Solomon was herein a type of Christ, in whom are hid all treasures of wisdom and knowledge; and hid for us, for he is made of God to us, wisdom. Christ's fame shall spread through all the earth, and men of all nations shall come to him, learn of him, and take upon them his easy yoke, and find rest for their souls.It is most probable that the persons with whom Solomon is compared were contemporaries, men noted for "wisdom," though there is no other mention of them.

His fame was in all nations - See below, 1 Kings 10.

31. wiser than all men—that is, all his contemporaries, either at home or abroad.

than Ethan—or Jeduthun, of the family of Merari (1Ch 6:44).

Heman—(1Ch 15:17-19)—the chief of the temple musicians and the king's seers (1Ch 25:5); the other two are not known.

the sons of Mahol—either another name for Zerah (1Ch 2:6); or taking it as a common noun, signifying a dance, a chorus, "the sons of Mahol" signify persons eminently skilled in poetry and music.

Wiser than all men; either of his nation, or of his time, or of all times and nations, whether of the east or any other country, excepting only the first and Second Adam.

Ethan the Ezrahite, and Heman; Israelites of eminent wisdom, probably the same mentioned 1 Chronicles 2:6 15:19 25:4 Psalm 88:1 89:1.

Chalcol and Dorda of whom see 1 Chronicles 2:6.

The sons of Mahol.

Object. All these four were the sons of Zerah, 1 Chronicles 2:6, or of Ezrah, as others call him.

Answ. Either the same man had two names, Zerah and Mahol, which was common amongst the Jews; and he might be called Mahol from his office or employment; for that signifies a dance, or a pipe; and he was expert in musical instruments, and so were his sons, 1 Chronicles 15:17-19, who possibly may here be called, by a vulgar Hebraism, sons of the musical instrument, from their dexterity in handling it, as upon another account we read of the daughters of music, Ecclesiastes 12:4. For he was wiser than all men,.... Not only that lived in his time, but in ages past since the fall of Adam, and in times to come, especially in natural wisdom and knowledge, in all the branches of it; for though some men excel in some part of knowledge, yet not in all, as Solomon did:

than Ethan the Ezrahite, and Heman, and Chalcol, and Darda, the sons of Mahol; men of the same names are said to be sons of Zerah, grandson of Judah, 1 Chronicles 2:6; wherefore these are either other men, or their father had two names; or Mahol here may be an appellative, and describe the character of these then, and point at what they were famous for, as that they were sons of music, piping, and dancing, as Mahol may signify; the Jews have a tradition (o), that Ethan is Abraham, and Heman Moses, and Chalcol Joseph:

and his fame was in all nations round about; not for his riches and grandeur only, but chiefly for his wisdom.

(o) Hieron. Trad. Heb. in 2 Reg. fol. 80. 1.

For he was wiser than all men; than Ethan the Ezrahite, and Heman, and Chalcol, and Darda, the sons of Mahol: and his fame was in all nations round about.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
31. Ethan the Ezrahite, and Heman] Ethan and Heman are among the names of the singers (1 Chronicles 15:19) appointed by David when the ark was brought up to the city of David, but there is no possibility of deciding whether those are the men alluded to here. In 1 Chronicles (1 Kings 15:17) Ethan is called the son of Kushaiah, and the son of Kishi (1 Chronicles 6:44), and Heman is, in the latter chapter (1 Kings 4:33), called the son of Joel. See the next note.

Chalcol] The better orthography is Calcol which A.V. gives for the same name in 1 Chronicles 2:6. In that passage we find (with a slight modification of the last) the four names of this verse all mentioned as sons of Zerah, the son of Judah. These would therefore be greatgrandsons of Jacob. The difference between the name Darda דרדע and Dara דרע (of 1 Chronicles 2:6) may be due only to a slip of the transcriber. But no tradition has survived which tells of the special wisdom of this family, nor can we connect the name Mahol, as the father of some of them at least is here called, with Zerah. But the occurrence of the four names together in one family inclines to the opinion that these men were the men spoken of here. Their fame, even if not at first great, may have grown so during the time between Judah and Solomon.

in all nations] We know that it had reached the queen of Sheba. See chap. 10.Verse 31. - For (Heb. and) he was wiser than all men [Keil adds "of his time," but we have no right to restrict the words to his contemporaries (see note on chap. 3:12). It is very doubtful whether the names mentioned presently are those of contemporaries] than Ethan the Ezrahite, and Heman, and Chalcol, and Darda [It is impossible to say whether these are the same persons as the Ethan and Heman and Chalcol and Dara of 1 Chronicles 2:6, or the Ethan and Heman who were David's singers. The resemblance is certainly remarkable. Not only are the names practically the same (Dara may well be a clerical error: many MSS., together with the Syr. and Arab., read Darda), but they occur in the same order. Our first impression, consequently, is that the two lists represent the same persons, and if so, these four sages were the "sons" of Zerah, the son of Judah (Genesis 38:30). But against this it is urged that Ethan is here called the Ezrahite, as are both Ethan and Heman in the titles of Psalm 89, and 88. respectively. The resemblance, however, of Ezrahite (אֶזְרָתִי) to Zerahite (זַרְתִי) is so close as to suggest identity rather than difference. There is, perhaps, more weight in the objection that Chalcol and Darda are here distinctly said to be "the sons of Mahol," though here again it has been observed that Mahol (מָחול) means pipe or dance, and the "sons of Mahol," consequently, may merely be a synonym, agreeably to Eastern idiom (Ecclesiastes 12:4, with which cf. 2 Samuel 19:35), for "musicians." We may therefore allow that the four names may be those of sons (i.e., descendants) of Zerah. But the question now presents itself: Are Ethan and Heman to be identified with the well known precentors of David? Against their identity are these facts:

1. That Ethan the singer (1 Chronicles 6:31) is described as the son of Kishi (1 Chronicles 6:44), elsewhere called Kushaiah (1 Chronicles 15:17), and of the family of Merari; as a Levite that is, instead of a descendant of Judah, and that Heman, who is called the singer, or musician (1 Chronicles 6:33), and the "king's seer" (1 Chronicles 25:5) is said to be a son of Joel, a grandson of the prophet Samuel, and one of the Kohathite Levites (1 Chronicles 15:17). The first impression in this case, therefore, is that they must be distinct. But it should be remembered

(1) that the sons - in the strict sense - of Zerah are nowhere else named for their wisdom, whereas the royal singer and seer probably owed their appointments to their genius, and

(2) that though Levites, they may have been incorporated (possibly like Jair, through marriage - see note on ver. 13 above, and cf. Ezra 2:61) into the tribe of Judah. The Levite in Judges 17:7 is spoken of as belonging to the family of Judah, because he dwelt in Bethlehem of Judah, and Elkanah the Levite is called an Ephraimite in 1 Samuel 1:1, because in his civil capacity he was incorporated into the tribe of Ephraim" (Keil). It must be admitted, however, that the natural interpretation of 1 Chronicles 2:6 is that the "sons" of Zerah there mentioned were his immediate and actual descendants, and not Levites who long centuries afterwards were somehow incorporated into his family. But the question is one of so much nicety that it is hardly possible to come to a positive conclusion] and his fame [Heb. name] was in all [Heb. all the] nations round about. [Cf. 10:24, etc.] "Judah and Israel sat in safety, every one under his vine and his fig-tree." This expresses the undisturbed enjoyment of the costly productions of the land (2 Kings 18:31), and is therefore used by the prophets as a figure denoting the happiness of the Messianic age (Micah 4:4; Zechariah 3:10). "From Dan to Beersheba," as in Judges 20:1, etc.
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