Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
So king Solomon was king over all Israel.
1Ki 4:1-6. Solomon's Princes.
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.
And these were the princes which he had; Azariah the son of Zadok the priest,
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 (Ge 41:45; Ex 2:16; 2Sa 8:18); 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.
Elihoreph and Ahiah, the sons of Shisha, scribes; Jehoshaphat the son of Ahilud, the recorder.
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.
And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was over the host: and Zadok and Abiathar were the priests:
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.
And Azariah the son of Nathan was over the officers: and Zabud the son of Nathan was principal officer, and the king's friend:
5. over the officers—that is, the provincial governors enumerated in 1Ki 4:17-19.
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.
And Ahishar was over the household: and Adoniram the son of Abda was over the tribute.
6. Ahishar was over the household—steward or chamberlain of the palace.
Adoniram—or Adoram (2Sa 20:24; 1Ki 12:18), or Hadoram (2Ch 10:18),
was over the tribute—not the collection of money or goods, but the levy of compulsory laborers (compare 1Ki 5:13, 14).
And Solomon had twelve officers over all Israel, which provided victuals for the king and his household: each man his month in a year made provision.
1Ki 4:7-21. His Twelve Officers.
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 (1Sa 8:15). 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 (1Ki 9:19; 2Ch 8:4, 6).
And these are their names: The son of Hur, in mount Ephraim:
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 fathers.
The son of Dekar, in Makaz, and in Shaalbim, and Bethshemesh, and Elonbethhanan:
The son of Hesed, in Aruboth; to him pertained Sochoh, and all the land of Hepher:
The son of Abinadab, in all the region of Dor; which had Taphath the daughter of Solomon to wife:
Baana the son of Ahilud; to him pertained Taanach and Megiddo, and all Bethshean, which is by Zartanah beneath Jezreel, from Bethshean to Abelmeholah, even unto the place that is beyond Jokneam:
The son of Geber, in Ramothgilead; to him pertained the towns of Jair the son of Manasseh, which are in Gilead; to him also pertained the region of Argob, which is in Bashan, threescore great cities with walls and brasen bars:
Ahinadab the son of Iddo had Mahanaim:
Ahimaaz was in Naphtali; he also took Basmath the daughter of Solomon to wife:
Baanah the son of Hushai was in Asher and in Aloth:
Jehoshaphat the son of Paruah, in Issachar:
Shimei the son of Elah, in Benjamin:
Geber the son of Uri was in the country of Gilead, in the country of Sihon king of the Amorites, and of Og king of Bashan; and he was the only officer which was in the land.
Judah and Israel were many, as the sand which is by the sea in multitude, eating and drinking, and making merry.
And Solomon reigned over all kingdoms from the river unto the land of the Philistines, and unto the border of Egypt: they brought presents, and served Solomon all the days of his life.
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 1Ki 4:24.
And Solomon's provision for one day was thirty measures of fine flour, and threescore measures of meal,
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.
Ten fat oxen, and twenty oxen out of the pastures, and an hundred sheep, beside harts, and roebucks, and fallowdeer, and fatted fowl.
For he had dominion over all the region on this side the river, from Tiphsah even to Azzah, over all the kings on this side the river: and he had peace on all sides round about him.
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.
And Judah and Israel dwelt safely, every man under his vine and under his fig tree, from Dan even to Beersheba, all the days of Solomon.
25. every man under his vine and … fig tree—This is a common and beautiful metaphor for peace and security (Mic 4:4; Zec 3:10), 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.
And Solomon had forty thousand stalls of horses for his chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen.
26. forty thousand stalls—for the royal mews (see on 2Ch 9:25).
And those officers provided victual for king Solomon, and for all that came unto king Solomon's table, every man in his month: they lacked nothing.
Barley also and straw for the horses and dromedaries brought they unto the place where the officers were, every man according to his charge.
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 fleetness.
And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding exceeding much, and largeness of heart, even as the sand that is on the sea shore.
1Ki 4:29-34. His Wisdom.
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.
And Solomon's wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the children of the east country, and all the wisdom of Egypt.
30. Solomon's wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the children of the east country—that is, the Arabians, Chaldeans, and Persians (Ge 25:6).
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 Egyptian people.
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.
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.
And he spake three thousand proverbs: and his songs were a thousand and five.
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, and the Song of Songs are his.
And he spake of trees, from the cedar tree that is in Lebanon even unto the hyssop that springeth out of the wall: he spake also of beasts, and of fowl, and of creeping things, and of fishes.
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.
And there came of all people to hear the wisdom of Solomon, from all kings of the earth, which had heard of his wisdom.