Then David said, This is the house of the LORD God, and this is the altar of the burnt offering for Israel.
Verse 1. - This verse evidently belongs to the close of the last' chapter, and should have had its place there. It indicates a deep sense of relief that now visited David's mind. We can imagine how he had pondered often and long the "place where" of the "exceeding magnificent" house which it was in his heart to build for the Lord. The place was now found, and the more unexpected and "dreadful" (Genesis 28:17) the method by which it was arrived at, the more convincing and satisfactory, at all events in some points of view. The extraordinary and impressive designating of this spot was in itself a signal for an active commencement of the work, and made at the same time such commencement practicable. Solomon and many others would afterwards often think, often speak, of the "threshing-finer of Ornan the Jebusite" as the place "which was shown to David his father," and which "David had prepared" (2 Chronicles 3:1). Here, then, he builds "the altar of burnt offering," as, on the neighbouring "hill of Zion," he had reared the "tabernacle for the ark."
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.
Verse 2. - The strangers. These are plainly called in the Septuagint "proselytes" (τοὺς προσηλὺτους). They were, of course, foreign workmen, who came in pursuit of their trade. The injunctions as to "strangers," and with regard to showing them kindness, are very numerous, beginning with Exodus 12:19, 48, 49; Exodus 22:21(20); Exodus 23:9; Leviticus 19:10, 33, 34; Numbers 15:14-16; Deuteronomy 10:18, 19; Joshua 8:33-35. It was not David's object merely to gain cheap or compulsory work (2 Chronicles 2:17, 18), but to obtain a skill, which immigrants from certain places would possess, in excess of that of his own people (2 Chronicles 2:7, 8, 13, 14), especially considering the absorption of Israel in the pursuit of war, which had so largely impeded their study and practice of these the arts of peace.
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;
Verse 3. - Iron... the joinings; and brass. The very first Bible mention of metals (Genesis 4:22) places these two together. Whence Solomon got his "abundance" of the latter we have read in 1 Chronicles 18:8; for the "abundance' of the former he would not necessarily go further than his own land. Although the expression, "the land whose stones are iron" (Deuteronomy 8:9), is possibly enough a poetical figure where it stands, yet some of the force of the figure may have sprung from its nearness to fact. The abundant use of iron in a great variety of tools, implements, weapons, and the knowledge of it in bar and sheet, might be illustrated from a large number of quotations from Scripture (Deuteronomy 19:5; Deuteronomy 27:5; 2 Samuel 12:31; 2 Kings 6:5; Isaiah 10:34; Amos 1:3; and many others). The "joinings" were the clamps and plates of various size and shape, which held strongly together, whether beams of wood or blocks of stone.
Also cedar trees in abundance: for the Zidonians and they of Tyre brought much cedar wood to David.
Verse 4. - The Zidonians and they of Tyre (see 1 Kings 5:6, 9, 13-18; 2 Chronicles 2:16-18). The interesting passages in Homer, Herodotus, and Strabo, which speak of Zidon, etc., are in entire accord with what is here said, and are well worth perusal; e.g. 'Iliad,' 6:289-295, "And she descended to the vaulted chamber, where were the garments all embroidered, the works of women of Sidon, whom the godlike Alexander himself brought from Sidon when he crossed the wide sea, by the way that he brought Helen of noble lineage;" 'Iliad,' 23. 743, 744, "And this vessel was of unsurpassed fame for beauty over all the land, for the men of Sidon, cunning artificers, had skilfully wrought it, and Phoenicians had brought it over the dark sea;" 'Odyssey,' 4:615-618, "And it was all silver, but the borders were mingled with gold. It was the work of Hephaestus. The illustrious Phademus, King of the Sidonians, gave it me when his palace sheltered me on my return thither;" 'Odyssey,' 15:424, "I boast to come from Sidon, famed for its skill in the working of brass." Similar references may be found in Herodotus (7:44, 96) and Strabo (16:2, § 23. See also 'Speaker's Commentary,' under 1 Kings 5:6).
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.
Verse 5. - Solomon... is young and tender. It is impossible to fix the exact age of Solomon as marked by these words. In a "fragment" of Eupolemus (see Cory's 'Ancient Fragments of the Phoenician,' etc., Writers,' edit. London, 1832) he is put down at twelve years of age. Josephus ('Ant. Jud.,' 8:7, § 8) as vaguely supposes he was fourteen at the time that he took the throne. He was the second son of Bathsheba, and can scarcely have exceeded the last-mentioned age by more than three or four years (yet comp. 1 Kings 2:2; 1 Kings 3:1, 7). This same language, "young and tender," is repeated in 1 Chronicles 29:1. The reign of Solomon lasted forty years (1 Kings 11:42; 2 Chronicles 9:30). He is called old (1 Kings 11:4) when his strange wives "turned away his heart after other gods." We are not told his age at the time of his death. There are, in fact, no sufficient data for fixing to the year, or indeed within the liberal margin of several years, the age now designated as young and tender.
Then he called for Solomon his son, and charged him to build an house for the LORD God of Israel.
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:
Verse 7. - (Comp. 1 Chronicles 17:1, 2; 2 Samuel 7:2, 3.) For my son, the Chethiv shows "his son," the Keri substituting "my."
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.
Verse 8. - Because thou hast shed much blood. This is repeated very distinctly below (1 Chronicles 28:3), and appears there again as acknowledged by the lip of David himself. It seems remarkable that no previous statement of this objection, nor even allusion to it, is found. Further, there seems no very opportune place for it in either our 1 Chronicles 17:1-15 or in 2 Samuel 7:1-17. Yet, if it seem impossible to resist the impression that it must have found expression on the occasion referred to in those two passages, we may fit it in best between vers. 10 and 11 of the former reference, and between vers. 11 and 12 of the latter. So far, however, as our Hebrew text goes, this is the first place in which the statement is made.
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.
Verse 9. - Shall be born. This is not the necessary translation of the verb. The form נולָד does not express here future time. Solomon was already born when the word of the Lord came to David. On the other hand, we may suppose special emphasis to belong to the clause, His name shall be Solomon. The name designates the man of peace, and the clause is an announcement, probably intended to throw further into the shade the alternative name Jedidiah, which also had been divinely given (2 Samuel 12:24, 25).
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.
Verse 10. - The substance of this verse is found also in Nathan's language (1 Chronicles 17:12, 13; 2 Samuel 7:13, 14).
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.
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.
Verse 12. - The father's prayer for the son, and in his hearing, will have often recurred to the memory of Solomon, and may have been the germ of the son's own prayer, which "pleased the Lord" (1 Kings 3:5-14; 2 Chronicles 1:7-12).
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.
Verse 13. - The references to olden time, and the pointed reference to Moses, must be regarded as emphatic. In 1 Chronicles 28:20 we find the additional words, "and do it," inserted after the animated and intensely earnest exhortation, Be strong, and of good courage. This inspiriting summons was no new one. It was probably already hallowed in the name of religious language, and would be often quoted (Deuteronomy 4:1; Deuteronomy 31:5-8; Joshua 1:5-9).
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.
Verse 14. - Now, behold, in my trouble. The Septuagint, Vulgate, and Luther's translation adopt here our marginal reading, "poverty." Keil, Bertheau, and others translate, with much greater probability, "by severe effort," which translation may be fortified, not only by such references as Genesis 31:43 and Psalm 132:1 (where the same root is found in Pual infinitive), but by the expression evidently answering to the present one in 1 Chronicles 29:2 (בּכָלאּכּוח), "with all my strength." Moreover, David could not with correctness speak of poverty as characterizing his condition during the time that he had been collecting for the object of his heart's desire. And scarcely with any greater correctness could he speak of the necessary anxieties and responsibilities of his royal office as at all specially marking this period. A hundred thousand talents of gold, and a thousand thousand talents of silver. Our sense of dissatisfaction in being able neither heartily to accept nor conclusively to reject this statement of the quantities of gold and silver prepared by David, may be lessened in some degree by the statement found in ver. 16, that "of the gold, the silver, and the brass, and the iron, there is no number." Milman, in his 'History of the Jews' (1. 266, 267, edit. 1830), says upon the general subject of this verse, "But enormous as this wealth (i.e. that of Solomon) appears, the statement of his expenditure on the temple, and of his annual revenue, so passes all credibility, that any attempt at forming a calculation, on the uncertain data we possess, may at once be abandoned as a hopeless task. No better proof can be given of the uncertainty of our authorities, of our imperfect knowledge of the Hebrew weights of money, and, above all, of our total ignorance of the relative value which the precious metals bore to the commodities of life, than the estimate made by Dr. Prideaux of the treasures left by David, amounting to eight hundred millions, nearly the capital of our national debt." It must be noted, however, that Milman himself proceeds, when speaking of "the sources of the vast wealth which Solomon undoubtedly possessed," to bring very enormous sums (whether somewhat less or even somewhat more than the above estimate of Dr. Prideaux) more within the range of the possible, to our imagination. He justly remarks, for instance, that it is to be remembered that "the treasures of David were accumulated rather by conquest than traffic, that some of the nations he subdued, particularly the Edomites, were very wealthy. All the tribes seem to have worn a great deal of gold and silver, both in their ornaments and in their armour; their idols were often of gold; and the treasuries of their temples, perhaps, contained considerable wealth. But during the reign of Solomon, almost the whole commerce of the world passed into his territories." After substantiating by details these and similar positions (pp. 267-271), he sums up, "It was from these various sources of wealth that the precious metals and all other valuable commodities were in such abundance that, in the figurative language of the sacred historian, 'silver was in Jerusalem as stones, and cedar trees as sycamores." Since the date of Milman's words just quoted, however, investigation of ancient weights and measures, and of those of Scripture, has made some advance, yet not sufficient to enable us to arrive at any certainty as to those of our present passage. Assuming that the text of our present verse is not corrupt, and that the figures which it gives are correct, the weight and the value of the gold and silver mentioned are very great, whatever the talent in question. This assumption, however, cannot be relied upon, and it seems scarcely legitimate to interpret the talent as any than the Hebrew talent, considering the silence observed as regards any other. It need not be said here that the exchanges of money value were estimated in these times by so much weight of gold or silver. Further, "the shekel of the sanctuary" (Exodus 30:13; Leviticus 27:3), possibly the same with "the shekel after the king's weight" (2 Samuel 16:26), and which was kept in the tabernacle, and afterwards in the temple - was presumably the standard. The gold talent was double the weight of the silver talent. It weighed 1,320,000 grains, instead of 660,000. The silver talent contained 50 manehs, of 60 shekels each; but the gold talent contained 100 manehs, of 100 shekels each. The modern money equivalents of these weights are very uncertain. Both the silver and the gold talent have been very variously calculated in this relation. Some of the best authorities put the silver talent at £342 3s. 9d., and the gold at £5475. This would make the money value described by this verse nearly nine hundred millions of our money. Other estimates are considerably in excess of this sum, and but few fall below it. Vast as the sum is, we may be helped in some degree to accept it by the statement of Pliny, who ('Nat. Hist.,' 32:15) tells us that Cyrus, in his subjugation of Asia, took half as many talents of silver as are here mentioned, and thirty-four thousand pounds of gold (see articles in Smith's 'Bible Dictionary,' on "Money," and on" Weights and Measures"). Among the most valuable works on these subjects are De Saulcy's 'Numismatique Judaique,' and F. Madden's 'Jewish Coinage.'
Moreover there are workmen with thee in abundance, hewers and workers of stone and timber, and all manner of cunning men for every manner of work.
Verse 15. - So too 1 Chronicles 28:21; 2 Chronicles 2:7, 17, 18; as well as vers. 2-4 of the present chapter.
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.
Verse 16. - Arise... and be doing. The first and last words of Ezra 10:4 are found here, and note may be made of the similarity of the expression.
David also commanded all the princes of Israel to help Solomon his son, saying,
Verses 17-19. - These verses contain David's command, accompanied by urgent argument, to the princes of Israel, to render their hearty assistance. Verse 17. - All the princes; i.e. those who held positions of authority as commanders, leaders, elders, heads of tribes, and chiefs of the fathers (1 Chronicles 27:22; 1 Chronicles 23:2; 1 Chronicles 28:1).
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.
Verse 18. - The whole of this verse should have been suggestive of memories thrilling with interest. What David says here is equivalent to the declaration of the perfect fulfilment of the promises of nine hundred years ago. By faith of those very promises how many generations had lived! What journeyings, suspense, punishment, and struggle, the intervening centuries had witnessed! And now at last it is given to the lip of the aged David to pronounce the termination of a nation's prolonged conflict, its entrance into peace, and the fulfilment of the most impassioned wishes, ima-ginings, end prayers of the patriarchs, of Moses, and of a long line of the faithful. It was well for David that he could not foresee and did not know how near the culminating of a nation's glory and prosperity might be to its woeful fall and prolonged decay. The analogy that obtains in this respect between the history of an individual and of a nation is as remarkable as it should be instructive and turned to the uses of warning.
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.
Verse 19. - To bring the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and the holy vessels of God. To settle these in a fixed home had now been of a long time the consuming desire of David's heart (so 1 Chronicles 15:1; 2 Chronicles 5:2-4). Into the house that is to be built. The preposition ל instead of אֶל, before "the house," is to be noticed here (1 Chronicles 25:26; Nehemiah 10:35). Also the Niphal participle, הַגִּבְנֶהַ, here translated "that is to be built," is to be noticed. The meaning of David would be better met probably thus: "Arise, build the sanctuary... to bring the ark... into the house (then) builded to the Name of the Lord."