Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers
SOLOMON’S GOVERNMENT AND EXTERNAL
GLORY.—His DEATH (2 Chronicles 8-9).
2 Chronicles 8 Solomon’s public works.—Forced labour.—Religion.—Maritime commerce. (Comp. 1Kings 9:10-28.)
(a) PUBLIC WORKS, BUILDING AND FORTIFICATION OF TOWNS (2Chronicles 8:1-6).
And it came to pass at the end of twenty years, wherein Solomon had built the house of the LORD, and his own house,(1) And it came to pass.—The verb is identical with 1Kings 9:10, slightly abbreviated.
Wherein.—When. The “twenty years” are reckoned from the fourth year of the reign (1Kings 6:6), and include seven years during which the Temple was building, and thirteen during which the palace was built (1Kings 6:38; 1Kings 7:1).
That the cities which Huram had restored to Solomon, Solomon built them, and caused the children of Israel to dwell there.(2) Which Huram had restored.—Literally, which Huram gave.
Solomon built them.—Rebuilt or restored and fortified (Joshua 6:26; 1Kings 15:17). The parallel passage (1Kings 9:11-13) records a contrary transaction; that is to say, it represents Solomon as giving to Huram twenty cities in Galilee, as a return for his past services. It is added that these cities did not please Huram, in consequence of which they got the name of “The Land of Kābûl” (i.e., “Like-nought”). The Authorised Version here assumes that the explanation of Josephus (Antt. viii. 5, § 3) is correct. That writer states that Huram restored the despised cities to Solomon, who thereupon repaired them, and peopled them with Israelites. Others assume an exchange of friendly gifts between the two sovereigns; so that Solomon gave Huram twenty Israelite cities (Kings), and Huram gave Solomon twenty Phenician cities (Chronicles): this seems highly improbable. The former explanation appears to be substantially correct. The chronicler, or the authority which he follows here. has omitted to notice a fact which seems to derogate from the greatness of Solomon, viz., the previous surrender of the territory in question to the Tyrian king; and has chosen to speak of Huram’s non-acceptance or return of Solomon’s present, as a gift. He then goes on to tell of the future fate of the twenty cities. Solomon repaired or fortified them, and colonised them with Israelites; for this border-land was chiefly inhabited by Gentiles (Isaiah 9:1, “Galilee of the Gentiles”). A border-land is naturally more exposed to the ravages of an invader; and the cities which Solomon ceded to Huram may have been in a half-ruinous condition. This would account for Huram’s disappointment in them. The statement of our text, then, is neither an “effacement,” nor a “travesty” (Reuss), nor even a “remodelling” of that of the older text “in favour of Solomon” (Zöckler). It replaces the older text by another statement which is equally true, and not incompatible with it.
And Solomon went to Hamathzobah, and prevailed against it.(3) And Solomon went.—Marched (2Samuel 12:29).
Hamath-zobah.—That is, Hamath bordering on Zobah. (Comp. 1Chronicles 18:3.) Solomon’s conquest of the kingdom of Hamath, which had been on terms of amity with David, is not mentioned in 1 Kings 9; nor indeed anywhere else in the Old Testament. Thenius (on 2Kings 14:25) supposes that the text describes not a conquest of Hamath itself, but only the annexation of part of its territory; viz., a part of the highly fruitful plain of Cœle-Syria, called by the Arabs Ard-el-Beqâa. This appears to be correct.
And he built Tadmor in the wilderness, and all the store cities, which he built in Hamath.(4) And he built Tadmor in the wilderness.—That is, Palmyra, in the wilderness, on the traders’ route between the coast and Thapsacuson the Euphrates. See 1Kings 9:18, where Tamar or Tammor of the Heb. text is explained by the margin to mean Tadmor; and the epithet, “in the wilderness,” seems certainly to identify the two names. That Solomon was the founder of Palmyra is the tradition of the country to this day.
And all the store cities, which he built in Hamath.—1Kings 9:19 mentions these cities, but not their locality. They were no doubt “places of arms,” and served as outposts against the hostile neighbouring kingdom of Zobah-Damascus. (See 1Kings 11:23-25.) So far as they lay on the caravan route, they would serve also as victualling stations. (Comp. 2Chronicles 32:28.)
Also he built Bethhoron the upper, and Bethhoron the nether, fenced cities, with walls, gates, and bars;(5) Also.—And. 1Kings 9:17, “And Solomon built Gezer, and Beth-horon the nether.”
Built—i.e., fortified, as the rest of the verse explains. (See 1Chronicles 7:24.) He built them as (or into) fenced cities, viz., walls, doors, and bar (Micah 7:12; Deuteronomy 3:5). This description is wanting in Kings.
And Baalath, and all the store cities that Solomon had, and all the chariot cities, and the cities of the horsemen, and all that Solomon desired to build in Jerusalem, and in Lebanon, and throughout all the land of his dominion.(6) And Baalath.—1Kings 9:18. Like the two Beth-horons, it lay west of Jerusalem, and was a bulwark against the Philistines: (Comp. Joshua 19:44, a Danite town.) The rest of this verse is identical with 1Kings 9:19, which see. (Chronicler has twice added all.)
In the above section no mention is made of the fortification of Jerusalem, and the building of Hazor, Megiddo, and Gezer, which last city had been taken by Pharaoh, and given by him to his daughter, Solomon’s wife. (See 1Kings 9:15-16.) On the other hand, as we have seen, the chronicler supplies several important details which are wanting in the parallel account.
As for all the people that were left of the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, which were not of Israel,(b) THE FORCED LABOUR OF THE CANAANITES
With this section comp. 1Kings 9:20-23, and the Notes there. In Kings it stands in more obvious connection with what precedes; for there the account of Solomon’s buildings is headed by the words, “And this is the reason of the levy which king Solomon raised, for to build the house of the Lord,” &c. (1Kings 9:15).
(7) As for all the people that were left.—The verse agrees with 1Kings 9:20.
(8) But.—Omit. The of also is wanting in 1Kings 9:21. So Syriac, but not LXX. and Vulgate.
Consumed not.—1Samuel 15:18. Kings, “were not able to exterminate.” The chronicler’s reading is probably due to the fading of letters in his MS. authority.
Them did Solomon make to pay tribute.—On them did Solomon levy a tribute. Kings has the fuller expression, mas ‘ôbēd, “tribute of labourers.” “Solomon en fit de levées pour la corvée” (Reuss).
(9) But of the children of Israel.—See 1Kings 9:22. The Heb. text has the relative (‘asher) after “children of Israel.” But some few MSS., and the ancient versions, omit it. It is, perhaps, an accidental repetition from the beginning of 2Chronicles 8:8.
According to Diod. Sic. i. 56, Sesostris (Rameses II.), the great Egyptian monarch, was wont to inscribe over the temples he built, “No native hath laboured hereon.”
After “men of war,” Kings adds, “and his servants,” which is omitted here as unsuitable, after the preceding statement. It means, however, courtiers and officers.
Chief of his captains.—Heb., captains of his knights; which appears to be incorrect. Read, “his captains and his knights,” or “aides-de-camp.” as in Kings. LXX., καὶ ἄρχοντες καὶ δυνατοὶ.
(10) The chief of king Solomon’s officers.—“Captains of the overseers,” or “prefects,” i.e., chief overseers, or inspectors of works (Comp. 1Chronicles 18:13, and 2Chronicles 17:2, for the word n’çîbîm, prefects.) The Heb. margin suggests niççabîm, the word used in Kings.
King Solomon’s.—Literally, Who were to king Solomon. Kings, who were over the work for Solomon. Clearly the latter has been corrupted into the form presented by our text through a confusion of mĕlākāh, “work,” with mèlek, “king.”
Two hundred and fifty.—See 2Chronicles 2:17, and 1Kings 9:23. In the latter place 550 is the number. The number here is an error of transcription, דנ, i.e., 550, having been mistaken for ונ, i.e., 250 (Kennicott).
Bare rule.—They were taskmasters. (Comp. Syriac, “who made the people work who were working at the works.”)
The people—i.e., the Canaanite remnant (2Chronicles 8:7). Kings adds, who were labouring at the work. (See Syriac.)
And Solomon brought up the daughter of Pharaoh out of the city of David unto the house that he had built for her: for he said, My wife shall not dwell in the house of David king of Israel, because the places are holy, whereunto the ark of the LORD hath come.(11) And Solomon brought up the daughter of Pharaoh.—See 1Kings 9:24, which is much briefer than the present notice. The chronicler has not mentioned this princess before (comp. 1Kings 3:1; 1Kings 9:16), and mentions her here only in connection with Solomon’s buildings. (See Note on 2Chronicles 12:2.) Solomon’s Egyptian consort was probably a princess of the XXII. Bnbastite Dynasty, founded by Shishak, which was of Semitic origin.
For he said.—The motive here assigned is wanting in the other text, and is characteristic of the chronicler both in thought and language; though it is too much to say with Thenius that the princess could not have lived anywhere else than in the old palace of David, until the new one was built. 1Kings 3:1 says only that Solomon brought her “into the city of David.” King of Israel.
King of Israel.—In contrast with the Egyptian origin of the princess.
Because the places are holy.—For a holy thing is that unto which, &c. (The plural pronoun hēmmāh, “they,” is equivalent to a neuter-sing, in the usage of the chronicler.)
Then Solomon offered burnt offerings unto the LORD on the altar of the LORD, which he had built before the porch,(c) REGULATION OF THE TEMPLE WORSHIP
(12) Then.—After the consecration of the Temple.
Offered.—Not once, but habitually; according to the prescriptions of the Mosaic Law (2Chronicles 8:13).
On the altar . . . which he had built.—And apparently no longer at Gibeon (2Chronicles 1:3).
Before the porch.—Not in Kings.
Even after a certain rate every day, offering according to the commandment of Moses, on the sabbaths, and on the new moons, and on the solemn feasts, three times in the year, even in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks, and in the feast of tabernacles.(13) Even after a certain rate every day.—Literally, and with a day’s matter on a day (Leviticus 23:37) they had to offer (infinitive construct, as at 1Chronicles 13:4; 1Chronicles 15:2), or, perhaps, he would offer.
The solemn feasts.—Literally, set seasons, viz., the three great festivals whose designations follow. (The form mô‘adôth for mô‘adîm occurs here only.)
And he appointed, according to the order of David his father, the courses of the priests to their service, and the Levites to their charges, to praise and minister before the priests, as the duty of every day required: the porters also by their courses at every gate: for so had David the man of God commanded.(14) And he appointed.—Caused to stand. (1Chronicles 6:16; 1Chronicles 15:16.)
According to the order of David his father.—Order, i.e., ordinance or institution.
The courses of the priests.—See 1 Chronicles 24.
Charges.—Watches, wards, stations.
To praise.—See 1Chronicles 25:3.
And minister before the priests.—1Chronicles 23:28.
As the duty of every day required.—For a day’s matter (i.e., prescribed work) on its day. (Comp. 2Chronicles 8:13.)
The porters also.—See 1Chronicles 26:1-19. The construction is, and he appointed, or stationed, the warders.
For so had David . . .—See margin. A similar phrase occurs in Nehemiah 12:24.
And they departed not from the commandment of the king unto the priests and Levites concerning any matter, or concerning the treasures.(15) And they departed not from the commandment of the king.—From has fallen out of the Heb. text, and must be restored. So three MSS. and the versions.
Unto.—Concerning; literally, upon.
Concerning any matter, or concerning the treasures.—With reference to any matter and (especially) with reference to the treasures. (See 1Chronicles 26:20-28.) 2Chronicles 8:14-15 assure us that the arrangements of David, as described in 1 Chronicles 24-26, were faithfully observed by his successor.
Now all the work of Solomon was prepared unto the day of the foundation of the house of the LORD, and until it was finished. So the house of the LORD was perfected.(16) Now.—And, here equivalent to so.
Unto the day of the foundation . . . until it was finished.—Solomon’s activity is apparently divided into two periods, viz., the preparations which he made before and up to the foundation of the Temple (2 Chronicles 2), and secondly, the prosecution of the work to its completion (2Chronicles 3:1 to 2Chronicles 5:1). (The Heb. Is, unto that day of the foundation,” i.e., that memorable day, see 2Chronicles 3:1-3.) All the versions, however, understand from the day of the foundation unto the completion of the Temple, and perhaps ‘ad ha-yôm is, in the chronicler’s Hebrew equivalent to lĕmin ha-yôm, expressing the terminus a quo.
So the house of the Lord was perfected.—Omit so, and comp. 1Kings 9:25, “and he finished [same root as perfected] the house.” The verse thus closes the entire account of the building and inauguration of the Temple.
Then went Solomon to Eziongeber, and to Eloth, at the sea side in the land of Edom.(d) THE VOYAGE TO OPHIR (2Chronicles 8:17-18).
Comp. 1Kings 9:26-28.
(17) Then (’āz).—After the completion of the Temple.
Went Solomon to Ezion-geber, and to Eloth.—Syr., “Ezion-geber, a city which is over against Eloth.” 1Kings 9:26 reads, “And a fleet did king Solomon make at Ezion-geber, which is near Eloth.”
The sea.—Kings, the Red Sea. So Vulg. The words of our text do not necessarily imply a personal visit on the part of Solomon. He sent his shipwrights to the Idumean port.
And Huram sent him by the hands of his servants ships, and servants that had knowledge of the sea; and they went with the servants of Solomon to Ophir, and took thence four hundred and fifty talents of gold, and brought them to king Solomon.(18) And Huram sent him by the hands of his servants ships.—When Solomon began to evince an interest in maritime affairs, his Tyrian ally presented him with a number of vessels and their crews of trained seamen. To what port the vessels were sent is not expressly stated. Probably they put in at Joppa (2Chronicles 2:16). Others assume the meaning to be that the ships were sent from Tyre to Ezion-geber, and then ask whether they were dragged across the desert which divides the Mediterranean from the gulf of Akaba, or whether they circumnavigated Africa. The dilemma is only apparent. The Greek historians of later times often speak of the transport of ships overland; and the galleys of Solomon’s age were probably small. Even the circumnavigation of Africa was achieved by a Phœnician expedition sent out by Necho about four centuries later (Herod, iv. 42). But neither alternative seems necessary. If Huram provided Solomon with skilled mariners, they would naturally sail from Tyre to Joppa in their own ships. The Tyrian vessels may have been left at Joppa, while a portion of their crews proceeded, by Solomon’s order, to Ezion-geber. In short, “ships and servants” means “ships with servants,” or “ships conveying servants.”
And they went.—Huram’s mariners. Comp. 1Kings 9:27 : “And Huram sent in the fleet (which Solomon had built) his servants, men of ships that had knowledge of the sea.” So the Syr. and Arab. here.
To Ophir.—See 1Kings 9:28. LXX., Sophira.
Fifty.—Kings, twenty. The difference may be due to a scribe’s error, the letter kaf being confused with nun.