Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers
Then David said, This is the house of the LORD God, and this is the altar of the burnt offering for Israel.XXII.
This is the house.—Better, This is a house of Jehovah, the (true) God, and this (is) an altar of burnt offering for Israel. The verse resumes the narrative suspended at 1Chronicles 21:28. The place of the apparition is called “a house of God,” as in Genesis 28:17. Obviously, we have here the goal of the entire narrative of the census, and the pestilence, which the chronicler would probably have omitted, as he has omitted that of the famine (2 Samuel 21), were it not for the fact that it shows how the site of the Temple was determined.
And David commanded to gather together the strangers that were in the land of Israel; and he set masons to hew wrought stones to build the house of God.(2-5) David gathers craftsmen, and accumulates materials for building the house of God.
(2) And David commanded to gather together the strangers.—The word rendered “to gather together” (kānas) is different from the terms used in 1Chronicles 15:3-4; 1Chronicles 19:7, and is late in this sense.
The strangers (gêrîm).—Sojourners, or resident foreigners, such as Israel had been in Egypt (Genesis 15:13). The Canaanite population are meant, who lived on sufferance under the Israelite dominion, and were liable to forced service if the government required it. (See 2Chronicles 8:7-8, and 1Kings 9:20-21.) Solomon found them by census to be 153,600 souls. The census was a preliminary to apportioning their several tasks. (See 2Chronicles 2:17-18.) David, probably on the present occasion, had held a similar census of the Canaanite serfs (2Chronicles 2:17).
And he set.—Appointed (1Chronicles 15:16-17); literally, caused to stand.
Masons.—Hewers; selected, apparently, from among “the strangers.”
Wrought stones.—“Saxum quadratum,” square stones (1 Kings 5:31; Isaiah 9:9).
To build the house—i.e., for building it hereafter. It is not said that the work was begun at once, but only that the organisation of the serf labour originated with David.
And David prepared iron in abundance for the nails for the doors of the gates, and for the joinings; and brass in abundance without weight;(3) For the nails.—Mismĕrîm happens to occur only in the later books of the Old Testament, but may well be an ancient word. (Comp. the Assyrian asmarê “spears,” which derives from the same root.)
For the doors of the gates.—he doors were to be what we call folding-doors (1Kings 6:34-35).
For the joinings.—Literally, things that couple, or connect (feminine participle): i.e., iron clamps and hinges. In 2Chronicles 34:11 the same term is used of wooden clamps or braces.
And brass.—Bronze, which was much used in the ornamental work of ancient buildings. Comp. the plates of bronze which once adorned the doors of the temple of Shalmaneser II. (B.C. 854), at Balawât, and are now in the British Museum. Sennacherib, in a later age (B.C. 700), describes the doors of his palace at Nineveh as “overlaid with shining bronze.”
Without weight.—A natural hyperbole. The actual amounts would, of course, be known to the royal treasurers. (Comp. the common use of the phrases la niba, la mani “without number,” “without measure,” in Assyrian accounts of spoils and captives.)
Also cedar trees in abundance: for the Zidonians and they of Tyre brought much cedar wood to David.(4) Also cedar trees in abundance.—Literally, and beams or logs of cedars without number. A rhetorical exaggeration, like that which we have just noted. (See also 1Chronicles 14:1.)
The Zidonians and they of Tyra (i.e., the Phoenicians) brought much cedar wood—i.e., in the way of ordinary commerce, to barter them for supplies of grain, wine, oil, and other products of the soil, which their own rocky coast-land did not yield in sufficiency. (Comp. 1Chronicles 14:1.) At a later time Hiram entered into an express contract with Solomon to supply the cedar and other materials required for building the Temple (1Kings 5:8-11).
And David said, Solomon my son is young and tender, and the house that is to be builded for the LORD must be exceeding magnifical, of fame and of glory throughout all countries: I will therefore now make preparation for it. So David prepared abundantly before his death.(5) Solomon my son is young and tender—i.e., an inexperienced young man. David repeats the expression (1Chronicles 29:1); and it is applied to Rehoboam (2Chronicles 13:7) at the age of forty-one. The word here rendered “young,” literally, “youth” (na’ar), is even more vague than the Latin adolescens. It may mean a new-born babe (Exodus 2:6), a young child (Isaiah 7:16; Isaiah 8:4), a youth (Isaiah 3:5; 1Samuel 17:55), or a man in the prime of life (1Samuel 30:17; Exodus 33:11). Solomon calls himself “a young child” (na‘ar qātôn) even after his accession to the throne (1Kings 3:7), though he was born soon after the time of the Syro-Ammonite war (2Samuel 12:24).
Tender.—Timid (Deuteronomy 20:8).
The house that is to be builded . . . exceeding magnifical.—Literally, the house to build . . . (one is) to make great exceedingly. For the infinitival construction, comp. 1Chronicles 5:1; 1Chronicles 13:4; 1Chronicles 9:25; 1Chronicles 15:2.
Exceeding.—Literally, unto height, upwards; an adverbial expression, which frequently occurs in the Chronicles. (See 1Chronicles 14:2 : “On high.”)
Of fame and of glory throughout all countries.—Literally, for a name and for a glory (tiph’ereth) for all the lands. (Comp. Isaiah 2:3; Isaiah 60:3, et seq., Isaiah 62:2-3.) In similar terms the famous Assyrian Sennacherib (Sin-ahi-irba) speaks of his palace as built “for the lodging (taprati) of multitudes of men.” And of his temple of Nergal he says: “The house of Nergal, within the city of Tarbiçu, I caused to be made, and like day I caused it to shine” (usnammir).
I will therefore now make preparation for it.—Literally, Let me now prepare for him—the expression of an earnest desire, and self-encouragement to an arduous task, rather than of mere resolve.
We need not suppose that the verse relates to any actual utterance of David’s. It is not said when nor to whom he spoke. The historian is merely representing the king’s motive for these preparations. “To say” in Hebrew often means to think, by an elliptic construction. (Comp. Exodus 2:14 with Genesis 17:17.)
So David prepared.—It is strange, but instructive, to remember that there have been critics so destitute of the historical faculty as to allege that “the whole episode about David’s preparations is a fiction of the chronist’s” (Gramberg), because the Books of Samuel and Kings are silent on the subject.
Then he called for Solomon his son, and charged him to build an house for the LORD God of Israel.(6-16) David gives formal charge to Solomon to build the Temple.
(6) Then he called.—And he called Solomon. When? After completing his preparations, and shortly before his death (1Chronicles 22:5). (Comp. 1Kings 2:1-9, especially 1Chronicles 22:3-4, of which we seem to hear echoes in the present speech.) Upon grounds of internal evidence we may pronounce this dying address of David to be an ideal composition, put into the king’s mouth by the unknown author whose work the chronicler follows: or rather, perhaps, by the chronicler himself, whose style is evident throughout. (Comp. the addresses attributed to David in 1 Chronicles 28)
For the Lord God of Israel.—There ought to be a comma after “Lord.” Literally the phrase would run, For Jehovah, the God of Israel. Thus the stress lies on the national aspect of the Deity, for whom Solomon was to undertake this national work.
And David said to Solomon, My son, as for me, it was in my mind to build an house unto the name of the LORD my God:(7) My son.—So some MSS., the Hebrew margin, and LXX., Vulg., Targ. rightly. The Hebrew text reads, “His son,” which is probably an oversight, due to “Solomon his son” in 1Chronicles 22:6.
As for me, it was in my mind.—Literally, I—it became with (near or in) my heart, i.e., it came into my mind, was my intention. The phrase is common in 2 Chronicles, but rare in the older books. (Comp. 1Kings 8:17; 1Kings 10:2; and also Joshua 14:7.) It recurs in 1Chronicles 28:2 exactly as here.
But the word of the LORD came to me, saying, Thou hast shed blood abundantly, and hast made great wars: thou shalt not build an house unto my name, because thou hast shed much blood upon the earth in my sight.(8) But the word of the Lord came to me (upon me).—Literally, And a word of Jehovah became upon me. There is a partial correspondence between this “word of the Lord” and that which Nathan is represented as delivering (1Chronicles 17:4-14). There, however, David is promised success in war, without any hint that warfare, as such, would unfit him for the sacred task which he longed to undertake. And in 1Kings 5:3, Solomon implies that David’s wars left him no leisure for the work.
Thou hast shed blood.—The emphatic word is “blood.” Literally, Blood in abundance hast thou shed, and great wars hast thou made.
Because thou hast shed much blood.—Better. for torrents of blood (plural) hast thou shed earthward before me. The author of this narrative may well have remembered Genesis 9:5-6, and the denunciations of the prophets against men of blood. (Comp. especially Amos 1:3; Amos 1:13; Amos 2:1, with David’s treatment of the conquered Ammonites, 1Chronicles 20:3. And see also Hosea’s denunciation of vengeance upon the house of Jehu for the bloodshed of Jezreel: Hosea 1:4; Hosea 7:7). Or the verse may express the interpretation which David’s own conscience put upon the oracle forbidding him to build the Temple.
Behold, a son shall be born to thee, who shall be a man of rest; and I will give him rest from all his enemies round about: for his name shall be Solomon, and I will give peace and quietness unto Israel in his days.(9) Shall be born.—Is about to be born (participle).
And I will give him rest from all his enemies round about—i.e., the surrounding peoples, who are his natural foes, seeing that they were brought under the yoke by his father, will acquiesce in his dominion. The same words are used, in a somewhat different sense. about David (2Samuel 7:1); and in 1Kings 5:4 Solomon applies them to himself. (Comp. also Proverbs 16:7.)
Solomon.—The emphatic word. (See 2Samuel 12:24.) The Hebrew is Shĕlōmō; for which the LXX. gives Sălōmōn; Syriac, Shĕleimûn; Arabic, Suleimân (same as “Solyman the Magnificent”). The original form of the word had the final n which we see in the cognate languages. The Assyrian Shalman (in Shalmaneser) and the Moabite Salamanu seem to be identical. The Vulg. has Pacificus (peace-maker). (Comp. the Greek Irenæeus, the German Friederich, our “Frederick,” peaceful.) Sŏlŏmon is the New Testament spelling.
It would seem that the original name of Solomon was Jedidiah (2Samuel 12:25), but posterity, looking back with fond regret to the palmy days of his reign, remembered him only as Shelomoh, “The Peaceful.” (See on 1Chronicles 20:5.)
And I will give peace and quietness unto Israel in his days.—Literally, and peace and quietness will I put upon Israel, &c. His name will be a Divine augury of the character of his reign.
Quietness (shèqet).—Only here; but compare the cognate verb (Judges 5:31 : “had rest”).
He shall build an house for my name; and he shall be my son, and I will be his father; and I will establish the throne of his kingdom over Israel for ever.(10) He shall build an house.—Comp. 1 Chronicles 17; parts of 1Chronicles 22:11-13 are here repeated. (See the Notes there.)
Now, my son, the LORD be with thee; and prosper thou, and build the house of the LORD thy God, as he hath said of thee.(11) The Lord be with thee.—See 1Chronicles 9:20. (1Samuel 3:19; 2Kings 18:7 : “The Lord was with him.”) The phrase is the origin of the familiar liturgical formula, “The Lord be with you.”
And prosper thou, and build the house.—Not a command, but a wish, i.e., mayest thou prosper and build. The verb “prosper” (literally, carry through, make succeed) is used transitively in 2Chronicles 7:11 and Genesis 24:40.
As he hath said of (upon) thee.—This phrase (dibbèr ‘al) is specially used of Divine threats and promises. (See Genesis 18:19; Isaiah 37:22; and comp. 1Chronicles 22:8, above: “And the word of the Lord became upon me.”)
Only the LORD give thee wisdom and understanding, and give thee charge concerning Israel, that thou mayest keep the law of the LORD thy God.(12) Only the Lord give thee wisdom.—Better, at least may the Lord give, &c.; restricting the wish to one supremely important point. (For Solomon’s wisdom, comp. 1Kings 3:9-15.)
And give thee charge concerning Israel.—Rather, and appoint thee over Israel (2Samuel 7:11). Solomon had been indicated as David’s successor, and David intended it so; yet his wish and prayer for the Divine ratification of this Divine appointment was by no means superfluous, unless Solomon were exempt from human liability to err.
That thou mayest keep.—Rather, and mayest thou keep (the infinitive construct): a favourite continuative construction with the chronicler.
Then shalt thou prosper, if thou takest heed to fulfil the statutes and judgments which the LORD charged Moses with concerning Israel: be strong, and of good courage; dread not, nor be dismayed.(13) Then shalt thou prosper.—The verse makes it quite clear that obedience was an indispensable condition to the full realisation of the promise. (Comp. 1Chronicles 22:10 with the actual after-course of history.) Yet the word of the Lord does not return unto Him void; and if the earthly dynasty of David came to an end through disobedience, in due time was born an heir of David and Solomon, who is at this day the Lord of a spiritual dominion which will endure throughout the ages.
Be strong, and of good courage.—Or, Be stout and staunch! a frequent phrase in Joshua (1Chronicles 1:7, &c.).
Dismayed.—Broken, i.e., in spirit: metu fractus. (Comp. “Solomon my son is young and timid,” 1Chronicles 22:5.)
Now, behold, in my trouble I have prepared for the house of the LORD an hundred thousand talents of gold, and a thousand thousand talents of silver; and of brass and iron without weight; for it is in abundance: timber also and stone have I prepared; and thou mayest add thereto.(14) In my trouble.—Rather, by my toil or pains. (Comp. 1Chronicles 29:2 : “I have prepared with all my might.”) In Genesis 31:42 the same expression is equated with “the labour of my hands.” The LXX. and Vulg. wrongly render “in” or “according to my poverty.”
An hundred thousand talents of gold, and a thousand thousand talents of silver.—The gold talent is usually valued at £6,000, the silver talent at £400 sterling. If this reckoning be approximately correct, the numbers of the text are incredibly large. It is noticeable that the sums are given as round numbers, and expressed in thousands. Further, the figures are such—a hundred thousand and a million—as might easily and naturally be used in rhetorical fashion to suggest amounts of extraordinary magnitude. As David is said to have amassed 100,000 talents of gold and 1,000,000 talents of silver, so he is said, in the same hyperbolical strain, to have hoarded iron and bronze “without weight,” and gold and silver “without number” (1Chronicles 22:16): phrases which nobody would think of taking literally. Doubtless, a modern historian would not handle exact numbers in this free manner; but we are not, therefore, bound to construe these vivid Oriental exaggerations according to the strict letter rather than the spirit and general intention. Of course, the numerals may have been corrupted in transmission; but their symmetry is against this hypothesis. (Comp. Daniel 7:10; Genesis 24:60; Micah 6:7, for a like rhetorical use of “thousands.”) To take an Egyptian illustration, in the famous poem of Pentaur, Ramses II., beset by the Hittites, calls thus upon his god Amen: “Have I not built thee houses for millions of years? I have slain to thee 30,000 bulls.” When the god helps him, he exclaims: “I find Amen worth more than millions of soldiers, one hundred thousand cavalry, ten thousand brothers, were they all joined in one.” There are plenty of numerals here, but who would insist on taking them literally?
Hewers.—See 1Chronicles 22:2.
All manner of cunning men . . . work.—Literally, and every skilful one in every work. The word rendered “cunning” is the technical term for a master-craftsman, like Bezaleel, the architect of the Tabernacle (Exodus 31:3, hākām; comp. Turkish hakim, a doctor).
Of the gold, the silver, and the brass, and the iron, there is no number. Arise therefore, and be doing, and the LORD be with thee.(16) Arise therefore, and be doing.—A phrase which recurs at Ezra 10:4.
David also commanded all the princes of Israel to help Solomon his son, saying,(17-19) David invites the cooperation of the chieftains of Israel.
Is not the LORD your God with you? and hath he not given you rest on every side? for he hath given the inhabitants of the land into mine hand; and the land is subdued before the LORD, and before his people.(18) Is not the Lord your God with you?—The proof appears in what follows.
And hath he not?—Rather, and he hath given you rest (1Chronicles 22:9).
He hath given the inhabitants of the land into mine hand.—The surrounding people, whose reduction is described in 1 Chronicles 18-20 (Comp. for the phrase, Joshua 2:24.)
Now set your heart and your soul to seek the LORD your God; arise therefore, and build ye the sanctuary of the LORD God, to bring the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and the holy vessels of God, into the house that is to be built to the name of the LORD.(19) To seek the Lord.—Hebrew, “to seek unto the Lord,” as in 2Chronicles 17:4; Ezra 4:2. The older construction, with a simple accusative, occurred in 1Chronicles 16:12; 1Chronicles 21:30.
Arise therefore, and build.—Rather, And arise ye, and build. The second clause explains how the first was to be carried out. Building the Lord a fair and noble sanctuary was equivalent to seeking His favour. Professions cost nothing, and they were not to serve the Lord “without cost” (1Chronicles 21:24).
To bring the ark.—From its temporary abode on Mount Zion (1Chronicles 15:1).
The holy vessels of God—e.g., the altar of burnt offering.
That is to be built.—The same participal form as in 1Chronicles 22:9 : “shall be born.”