1 Kings 4
Pulpit Commentary
So king Solomon was king over all Israel.
Verse 1. - So King Solomon was king over all Israel [All later kings ruled but a part of the land of Israel, as also did David at first.]
And these were the princes which he had; Azariah the son of Zadok the priest,
Verse 2. - And these were the princes [i.e. ministers, officers. Cf. 2 Samuel 8:15-18, and 2 Sam 20:23-26] which he had, Azariah the son [i.e., descendant, probably grandson. See on 1 Chronicles 6:10] of Zadok the priest. [We are here confronted by two questions of considerable difficulty. First, to whom does the title "priest" here belong, to Azariah or to Zadok? Second, what are we to understand by the term, a spiritual, or a more or less secular person - ἱερεύς or βουλευτής? As to

1. the Vulgate (sacerdotis) and apparently the Authorized Version, with the Rabbins, Luther, and many later expounders, connect the title with Zadok (who is mentioned as priest in ver. 4), and understand that Azariah, the son of the high priest Zadok, was, together with the sons of Shisha, one of the scribes (ver. 3). It is true that this view obviates some difficulties, but against it are these considerations.

(1) The accents.

(2) The Chaldee and LXX. (ὁ ἱερεύς Cod. Alex.; Cod. Vat. omits the words) Versions.

(3) Hebrew usage, according to which the patronymic is regarded as almost parenthetical.

(4) The fact that in every other case in this list the title is predicate nominative (vers. 3-6).

(5) The position of Azariah's name, first in the list - a position which would hardly be assigned to a scribe.

(6) The absence of any copula (ו), which, it is submitted, would be required if Azariah and the sons of Shisha alike were scribes. The question is one of some nicety, but the balance of evidence is distinctly in favour of connecting the title with Azariah, i.e., "Azariah son of Zadok was the priest." This brings us to

2. What are we to understand by "the priest " - הַכֹּהֵן? It is urged by Keil, Bahr, al. that this cannot mean "priest" in the ordinary sense of the word, still less "high priest," for the following reasons:

(1) Because the high priests of Solomon are mentioned presently, viz., Abiathar and Zadok, and the Jews never had three high priests.

(2) Because the Azariah who was high priest under Solomon for the words of 1 Chronicles 6:10, "He it is that executed the priest's office," etc, must belong to the Azariah of ver. 9, and have got accidentally misplaced - was the son of Ahimaaz, not of Zadok.

(3) Because no grandson of Zadok could then be old enough to sustain the office of high priest.

(4) Because in one passage (2 Samuel 8:18, compared with 1 Chronicles 18:17) כֹּהֲנִים is used of privy councillors and of the sons of David, who cannot have been sacrificing priests. Keil consequently would understand that Azariah was "administrator of the kingdom, or prime minister." Similarly Bahr. But in favour of the ordinary meaning of the word are these powerful considerations:

(1) All the versions translate the word by "priest," i.e., they understand by the term a spiritual person.

(2) Whatever may be the case with כֹּהֵן, הַכֹּהֵן, "the priest" (par excellence) can only be understood of the high priest (ch. 1:8, 38; Exodus 29:30; Leviticus 21:21; 2 Kings 11:9, 15; 2 Kings 22:4, 8, 10, 12, 14. Comp. 2 Chronicles 26:17).

(3) It is extremely doubtful whether כֹּהֵן is ever used except in the sense of ἱερεύς, Rawlinson, who says it sometimes indicates "a civil officer, with perhaps a semi-priestly character," refers to Gesenius sub hac voce, who, however, distinctly affirms that the word only means priest, and accounts for the application of the term to the sons of David (2 Samuel 8:18) on the supposition that the Jews had priests who were not of the tribe of Levi. The question is discussed with great learning by Professor Plumptre (Dict. Bib., art. "Priest"), who suggests that "David and his sons may have been admitted, not to distinctively priestly functions, such as burning incense (Numbers 16:40; 2 Chronicles 26:18), but to an honorary, titular priesthood. To wear the ephod in processions (2 Samuel 6:14) at the time when this was the special badge of the order (1 Samuel 22:18), to join the priests and Levites in their songs and dances, might have been conceded, with no deviation from the Law, to the members of the royal house." There is one difficulty however in the way of accepting this ingenious and otherwise sufficient explanation, namely, that it seems hardly likely that the title of priest would be freely accorded by Hebrew writers to men who were expressly excluded from all "distinctively priestly functions," especially after the use of the same word in the preceding verse (17) to designate the high priest. And I venture to suggest that the discharge by David's sons of the semi-priestly functions just referred to occasioned so much remark as to head to the application of the term "priest" to them in a special conventional sense; in fact, that it became a sort of soubriquet, which rather implied that they were not priests than that they were. (Notice the order of 2 Samuel 8:18, Hebrews) And observe

(4) if we are to understand by "the priest" in ver. 2, "prime minister;" by "priests" in ver. 4, "high priests," and by "priest" in ver 5, "principal officer," language has no certain meaning.

(5) The mention of Azariah as "the priest" in the same list with Zadok and Abiathar is easily accounted for. We know that Abiathar was deposed at the beginning of Solomon's reign (1 Kings 2:27), and Zadok must then have been an old man. Their names consequently are recorded (ver. 4) because they were high priests for a brief period of the reign, but Azariah is mentioned first as "the priest" because he was high priest during most of the time.

(6) "Azariah the son of Zadok" is quite compatible with the fact that Azariah was really the son of Ahimaaz. בֵּן is constantly used in the sense of "descendant," and especially "grandson." (Genesis 29:5: 31:28, 55: and see on ch. 2:8,"the son of Gera.") Zadok is no doubt mentioned as better known than Ahimaaz, and probably because Azariah succeeded him directly in the office.

(7) The age of Azariah must be uncertain, and Solomon's reign was a long one.

(8) The position of his name - first - accords well with the idea that he was high priest, which I conclude that he was. It is worthy of remark that in the lists of David the military officers of the kingdom occupy the first place; in those of Solomon, the civil and religious dignitaries. "The princes of Solomon are, with one exception (ver. 4) ministers of peace." - Wordsworth.
Elihoreph and Ahiah, the sons of Shisha, scribes; Jehoshaphat the son of Ahilud, the recorder.
Verse 3. - Elihoreph and Ahiah, the sons of Shisha [probably the same person who is mentioned in 2 Samuel 20:25 as Sheva; in 2 Samuel 8:17, as Seraiah; and in 1 Chronicles 18:16, as Shavsha, David's scribe. The office thus descended from father to sons. The variations in this name are instructive. Compare Kishi and Kushaiah, Abijah and Abijam, Michaiah and Maachah, Absalom and Abishalom, etc. Names written ex ore dictantis are sure to differ. See below on ver. 12], scribes [the scribes, סֹפְדִים, were Secretaries of State: they wrote letters and proclamations, drew up edicts, and apparently kept the accounts (2 Kings 12:10). Their position in the list indicates their importance]; Jehoshaphat the son of Ahilud, the recorder. [He held the same office under David, and is mentioned in all three lists (2 Samuel 8:17; 2 Samuel 20:25; 1 Chronicles 18:15). The recorder or "remembrancer" (marg.) was, perhaps, "chancellor" (Keil), or keeper of the king's conscience, rather than, as is generally supposed, chronicler of public events, and keeper of the archives. See Introduction, sect. 6.]
And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was over the host: and Zadok and Abiathar were the priests:
Verse 4. - And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada [see on 1 Kings 1:32] was [the A. V. supplies was and were quite needlessly in this and succeeding verses. This is simply a list of Solomon's princes and of the offices they discharged] over the host [cf. 1 Kings 2:35]: and Zadok and Abiathar were the priests [the mention of Abiathar's name after his deposition (1 Kings 2:27, 35) has occasioned much remark, and has even led to the belief that he was subsequently pardoned and restored to office (Clericus). Theodoret remarks quite truly, τὴν ἀρχὴν ἀφείλατο οὐ τῆς ἱερωσύνης ἐγύμνωσεν, and similarly Grotius. But a simpler explanation is that his name is put down here because he had been high priest, though for a brief period only, under Solomon. See above on ver. 2.]
And Azariah the son of Nathan was over the officers: and Zabud the son of Nathan was principal officer, and the king's friend:
Verse 5. - And Azariah the son of Nathan [Azariah was clearly not an uncommon name (ver. 2, and cf. 1 Chronicles 2:39; 5:36-40 Hebrews; A.V. 1 Chronicles 6:9-14), especially in the high priest's family. Keil and Bahr pronounce somewhat positively that this Nathan is not the prophet of that name, but Nathan the son of David (2 Samuel 5:14; Luke 3:31). It is quite impossible to decide with certainty which is meant, if either, though Zechariah 12:12 undoubtedly favours the supposition that the latter is here intended] was over the officers [the twelve prefects mentioned in vers. 7 sqq.]: and Zabud the son of Nathan was principal officer [Heb. priest, Vulg. sacerdos. Singularly, as before, the LXX. (Vat.) omits the word. The expression can hardly mean "the son of Nathan the priest," but it may either signify that "Zabud ben Nathan, a priest, was king's friend," or that (as in the A. V.) he was a priest and king's friend. But the former is every way preferable. I find it easier to believe that the true import of 2 Samuel 8:18 the passage which is cited (sometimes along with 2 Samuel 20:26, where the LXX., however, has ἱερεύς) to prove that there were secular "priests" - is not yet understood, than to hold (with Gesenius, Ewald, etc.), that there were sacrificing priests who were not of the sons of Aaron (cf. 2 Chronicles 26:18), or that the word כּהֵן, the meaning of which was thoroughly fixed and understood, can have been familiarly applied, except in the strictly conventional way already indicated, to lay persons], and [omit] the king's friend. ["This appears to have been now a recognized office (2 Samuel 15:37; 2 Samuel 16:16; 1 Chronicles 27:33)," Rawlinson.]
And Ahishar was over the household: and Adoniram the son of Abda was over the tribute.
Verse 6. - And Ahishar was over the household [steward and manager of the palace. We meet this office here for the first time, an evidence of the growing size and magnificence of the court (cf. 1 Kings 18:3; 2 Kings 18:18; Isaiah 22:15). That such an officer was needed, the fact mentioned below (on ver. 23) as to the enormous size of the royal household will prove]: and Adoniram [see on 1 Kings 12:18] the son of Abda was over the tribute. [Marg. "levy," i.e., the forced labour (1 Kings 5:13, 14). See on 1 Kings 12:3.]
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.
Verse 7. - And Solomon had twelve officers [lit., persons "placed" or "set over" others, i.e., superintendents. The term is used of Doeg (1 Samuel 22:9). They were twelve, not because of the twelve tribes, but the twelve months] over all Israel, which provided victuals for [Heb. nourished] the king and his household: each man his month in a year made provision [lit., a month in the year it was (i.e., devolved) upon each to nourish. It has been thought by some that these superintendents were also governors of provinces (ἡΓενισισόνες καὶ σταηγοί, Jos. Ant. 8:2, 3), as well as purveyors. But of this nothing is said in the text. Their principal function was to collect the royal dues or taxes which were evidently paid, as they still are in the East, in kind].
And these are their names: The son of Hur, in mount Ephraim:
Verse 8. And these are their names [the order is not geographical, nor do the districts correspond, except roughly, with the territories of the tribes. The order is probably that of the months for which they were severally responsible, and the districts were marked out according to the capabilities of the country.]: The son of Hur [Heb. as marg., Ben Hur. Of the twelve prefects, five are only known by their patronymics, for it is hardly likely that these are proper names, like Ben-hanan and Ben-zoheth (1 Chronicles 4:20). No satisfactory explanation of this curious circumstance has hitherto been given. The most probable is that in the document from which this list was compiled, the part of the page containing the missing names had been accidentally destroyed], in mount Ephraim. [See on 1 Kings 12:25. This district, which practically coincided with the territory of Ephraim, was one of the most fertile in Palestine. Hence, possibly, it stands first.]
The son of Dekar, in Makaz, and in Shaalbim, and Bethshemesh, and Elonbethhanan:
Verse 9. - The son of Dekar [Ben. Dekar], in Makaz [unknown otherwise], and in Shaalbim [Joshua 19:42; Judges 1:35] and Beth-shemesh [called Irshemesh, Joshua 19:41. Now Ain Shemes], and Elon-beth-hanan. [Elon, Joshua 19:43. Probably Beth-hanan is a different place, the "and" (ו) having accidentally dropped out of the text. The LXX. (ἕως Βηθανὰν) favours this view. It has been identified by Robinson with Beit Hunun. This second district embraces Daniel]
The son of Hesed, in Aruboth; to him pertained Sochoh, and all the land of Hepher:
Verse 10. - The son of Hesed [Ben. Hosed], in Aruboth (Heb. Arubboth, unknown]; to him pertained Sochoh [there were two cities of this name, one in the mountain (Joshua 15:48), and one in the "valley" (the Shefelah, Joshua 15:33, 35), and both in the tribe of Judah, from which, therefore, this third district was taken], and all the land of Hepher. [Joshua 12:17. Ewald holds that this place was in Manasseh, and that "it is impossible in the twelve districts to find any portion of... Judah." But see above.]
The son of Abinadab, in all the region of Dor; which had Taphath the daughter of Solomon to wife:
Verse 11. - The son of Abinadab [Ben Abinadab. Possibly the Abinadab of 1 Samuel 16:8; 1 Samuel 17:13. If so, this officer, who married Solomon's daughter, was also his cousin], in [Heb. omits] all the region [נָפָה, height; the term is only used in connection with Dor] of Dor [Joshua 11:2; Joshua 12:23; Joshua 17:11. Dor, now represented by the miserable village of Tantura, lies on the strand of the Mediterranean, north of Caesarea. A "spur of Mount Camel, steep and partially wooded, runs parallel to the coastline, at the distance of about a mile and a half" (Porter). This is the "height of Dor." Thenius supposes this fourth district embraced the plain of Sharon. Josephus (8. 2. 3.) limits this prefecture to the sea coast, which may well include Sharon. Indeed, without it, this district would have been destitute of cornlands] which had Taphath, the daughter of Solomon, to wife. ["It has always been a practice amongst Oriental potentates to attach to themselves the more important of their officers by giving them for wives princesses of the royal house .... The practice of polygamy has generally enabled them to carry out this system to a very wide extent" (Rawlinson).
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:
Verse 12. - Baana, the son of Ahilud [cf. ver. 3. Probably the recorder's brother], to him pertained [the original, true to its character as a list, omits these words, simply giving the name of the officer and then the towns of his district or province] Taanach and Megiddo [similarly associated, Joshua 12:21; Judges 5:19; Judges 1:27. These towns, which became famous in later Jewish history (2 Kings 23:29; 2 Chronicles 35:22), lay at the foot of the E. spurs of Carmel, on the margin of the plain of Esdraelon. See Conder's "Tent Work in Palestine," p. 67] and all Bethshean [Joshua 17:11, 16; Judges 1:27. Otherwise Bethshan (1 Samuel 31:10, 12; 2 Samuel 21:12), now Beisan. The LXX. here translate the word ὁ οῖκος Σὰν; elsewhere they write βαιθσὰν or βαιθσὰμ, and in Judges 1:27 explain ἥ ἐστι Σκυθῶν πόλις, hence its later name Scythopolis. Rawlinson, by an oversight, interprets the name to mean "house of the sun," which is the translation of Bethshemesh. Bethshan prob. means "house of rest." "The site of the town is on the brow of the descent by which the great plain of Esdraelon drops down to the level of the Ghor." The present writer was much struck (in 1861) by its situation. See Conder, pp. 233, 234. The text shows that it gave its name to the adjoining district], which is by Zartanah [probably the Zaretan of Joshua 3:16 and the Zarthan (same word in the Heb.) of 1 Kings 7:46, which place is called Zeredathah in 2 Chronicles 4:17, and is probably the Zererath of Judges 7:22. (The variations in spelling are again to be noticed). Here Solomon cast the Temple vessels. By some it is identified with Kurn Sartabeh (but see quart. Stat. of Pal. Explor. Fund, July, 1874, and Conder, pp. 233, 234), a few miles below Bethshan. It is noticeable (in connexion with Joshua 3.16) that at this point the Jordan valley narrows (Keil). It occupies high ground and commands an extensive view (Robinson)] beneath [or below] Jezreel [Wordsworth remarks that "Jezreel, now Zerin, is a lofty site." But the idea of "beneath" is not that of depression, but of geographical position = the district southeast of Jezreel] from [LXX. and from) Bethshean to Abelmeholah [lit. meadow of the dance. It lay ten miles south of Bethshean. It is mentioned in connexion with Zererath (Zaretan) in Judges 7:22, but is best known as the home of Elisha (1 Kings 19:16)] even unto the place that is beyond [Heb. unto the other side of] Jokneam. [Properly, Jokmeam. Identified by the Survey (Conder, p. 68) with Tell Keimun. A Levitical town (1 Chronicles 6:68) probably the same as Kibzaim (cf. Joshua 21:22). This district coincided practically with the tribe of Manasseh. It embraced a part (see ver. 17) of the fertile plain of Esdraelon and of the Jordan valley.]
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:
Verse 13. - The son of Geber [possibly son of the Geber mentioned in ver. 19] in Ramothgilead [two districts east of the Jordan are now enumerated. And first, the territory of Gad. Bamoth-gilead was a Levitical city (Deuteronomy 4:43; Joshua 21:38). Its selection as a city of refuge (Joshua 20:8), and as the seat of Bengeber's prefecture, together with the constant wars waged for its possession (1 Kings 22:3; 2 Kings 8:28; 2 Kings 9:14) show that it was a position of great strength and importance]; to him pertained the towns of Jair [the Havoth Jair are strictly the lives (i.e., villages, because men live there) of Jair. So Gesenius, who cites Eisleben and similar names] the son Manasseh [it is doubtful whether the judge of that name (Judges 10:3) or Jair, the son of Segub (called a "son of Manasseh" in Numbers 32:41, because his grandmother was a daughter of the great Machir, though his father belonged to Judah, 1 Chronicles 2:21), is intended. Probably it is the latter. (They can hardly be one and the same person, though they are often identified, as, e.g., in the Speaker's Comm. on Judges 10:3. But they belong to different periods.) Curiously enough, the Havoth Jair are mentioned in connexion with each (see Numbers 32:41; Deuteronomy 3:4, 5, 14; Joshua 13:30; 1 Chronicles 2:22; Judges 10:4), but in every ease except the last the reference is to the son of Segub. As the judge was probably one of his descendants, it is not surprising that the judge's sons should possess some of the villages of Jair], which are in Gilead; to him also pertained the region [חֶבֶל, lit., measuring cord, came to signify the region measured] of Argob [elsewhere "the Argob," i.e., the stony. This is the region subsequently known as Trachonitis, now called the Lejah. It is distinguished here and in Joshua 13:30, and 1 Chronicles 2:22 from the Gileadite district just mentioned, with which it is sometimes confounded. Both seem to have been conquered by Jair, but the towns of the former bore the name of Havoth Jair and these of Bashan Havoth Jair. Cf. Deuteronomy 3:4, 5, 14 with Numbers 32:41. The latter consisted of threescore cities, with walls, gates, and bars. This remarkable district, twenty-two miles in length by fourteen in breadth, is "wholly composed of black basalt, which appears to have issued from innumerable pores in the earth in a liquid state .... Before cooling, its surface was violently agitated, and it was afterwards shattered and rent by convulsions .... Strange as it may seem, this ungainly and forbidding region is thickly studded with deserted cities and villages" (Porter, "Giant Cities of Bashan," also in Kitto's Cycl. 3. p. 1032; Dict. Bib. 1:104)] which is in Bashan, threescore great cities with walls and brazen bars. [These words are a reminiscence of Deuteronomy 3:4, 5.]
Ahinadab the son of Iddo had Mahanaim:
Verse 14. - Ahinadab the son of Iddo [probably the seer of that name, 2 Chronicles 9:29] had Mahanaim [Heb. to Mahanaim, as marg. That is, went, or was appointed, to Mahanaim. Rawlinson understands that his district was "from the places last mentioned to Mahanaim," but for this the usus loquendi of the writer would lead us to expect עַד. For Mahanaim, see Genesis 32:2; Joshua 13:26].
Ahimaaz was in Naphtali; he also took Basmath the daughter of Solomon to wife:
Verse 15. - Ahimaaz [probably the son of Zadok, 2 Samuel 15:27; 2 Samuel 17:17] was in Naphtali; he also [like Ben-Abinadab, ver. 11] took Basmath the daughter of Solomon to wife.
Baanah the son of Hushai was in Asher and in Aloth:
Verse 16. - Banaah [or Baana, the second prefect of that name (ver. 12). The names are identical in the Hebrew. In 2 Samuel 4:2 the name is Baanah] the son of Hushai [the Archite, David's friend. Cf. 2 Samuel 15:32] was in Asher and Aloth. [No town or district of this name is known. Probably the word should be Bealoth, as in the LXX., Syr., and Vulg. Our translators have taken the initial בְּ for a prefix, but it is almost certainly part of the name. There was a Baaloth in Judah (Joshua 15:24) and a Baaloth in Dan (ibid. 19:44), but neither of these can be meant here.]
Jehoshaphat the son of Paruah, in Issachar:
Verse 17. - Jehoshaphat the son of Paruah, in Issachar. [He had consequently the plain of Esdraelon, with the exception mentioned above, ver. 12.]
Shimei the son of Elah, in Benjamin:
Verse 18. - Shimei the son of Elah [by some identified with the Shimei of chapter 1 Kings 1:8. But see note there], in Benjamin. [It is noteworthy that Shimei was a Benjamite name, 2 Samuel 16:5, 11.]
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.
Verse 19. - Geber the son of Uri was in the country of Gilead [i.e., he presided over the parts not already assigned to Bengeber (perhaps his son) and Ahinadab. Gilead is often used (see Deuteronomy 34:1; Judges 20:1) to designate all the country east of the Jordan. And so apparently here, for] the country of Sihon king of, the Amorites, and of Og king of Bashan] embraced the whole trans-Jordanic region, Deuteronomy 3:8; Numbers 21:24-35: cf. Psalm 135:11; Psalm 136:19, 20]; and he was the only officer which was in the land. [This cannot mean "the only officer in Gilead," notwithstanding the great extent of territory - the usual interpretation - for that would contradict vers. 13, 14. Nor can can it mean the only officer in his district, or portion, of Gilead, for that is self-evident, and the remark would apply equally to all the other prefects. And we are hardly justified in translating נְצִיב אֶחָד "he was the first (i.e., superior), officer" (set over those mentioned above, vers. 13, 14), as Schulze. סך אֶחָד used as an ordinal number, but it is only in connexion with days and years (Gesen. s.v.) Some, following the LXX. (εῖς ἐν γῇ Ἰούδα) would detach Judah from ver. 20, where it must be allowed it occurs with a suspicious abruptness, and where the absence of the copula, so usual in the Hebrew, suggests a corruption of the text, and would connect it with this verse, which would then yield the sense, "and he was," (or "there was") "one officer which purveyed in the land of Judah." it is to be observed, however, that though no mention has as yet been made of Judah in any of the districts, yet the prefecture of Ben Hesed (ver. 10) appears to have extended over this tribe, and the remark consequently seems superfluous. (Can it be the object of the writer to show that the royal tribe was not favoured or exempted from contributing its share?) On the whole, the difficulty would seem still to await a solution. We can hardly, in the teeth of ver. 7, suppose with Ewald, al. that a thirteenth officer is here intended.

CHAPTER 4:20-34. SOLOMON'S RULE, STATE, AND WISDOM. - The remainder of this chapter, which de-scribes to us the extent and character of Solomon's sway (vv. 20, 21, 24, 25), the pomp and provision of his household (vv. 22, 23, 26-28), and his profound and varied wisdom (vv. 29-34), has every appearance of a compilation from different sources. It scarcely has the order and coherence which we should find in the narrative of a single writer.
Judah and Israel were many, as the sand which is by the sea in multitude, eating and drinking, and making merry.
Verse 20. - Judah and Israel were many, as the sand which is by the sea in multitude [a reminiscence of Genesis 13:16; Genesis 22:17; Genesis 32:12 (cf. ch. 3:8). In the reign of Solomon these promises had their fulfilment], eating and drinking, and making merry. [Cf. 1 Samuel 30:16. The Hebrew here begins a new chapter. The LXX. omits vers. 20, 21, 25, 26, and places vers. 27, 28, "and those officers," etc., after the list of prefects, ver. 19.]
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.
Verse 21. - And Solomon reigned [Heb. was reigning] over all kingdoms [Heb. the kingdoms. That is, as suzerain, as is explained presently. So that Psalm 72:10, 11 had its fulfilment] from the river [i.e., the Euphrates, the river of that region: so called Genesis 31:21; Exodus 23:31; 2 Samuel 10:16. In Genesis 15:18 it is called "the great river, the river Euphrates." Similarly Joshua 1:4] unto [not in the Hebrew. It is found in the parallel passage, 2 Chronicles 9:26, and perhaps we may safely supply it here. Its omission may have been occasioned by the recurrence of the same word (עַד) presently. Some would render, "reigned... over the land," etc., supplying בְּ in thought from above. But "unto" seems to be required after "from." Cf. ver. 24] the land of the Philistines [this, i.e., the Mediterranean shore, was the western border of his realm], and unto the border of Egypt [this was his southern boundary. We have here a reference to Genisis 15:18, the promise which now first received its fulfilment]: they brought presents [i.e., tribute. Similar expressions, 2 Samuel 8:2; 2 Kings 17:3, 4, and especially Psalm 72:10. What the presents were we are told 1 Kings 10:25, where, however, see note], and served Solomon all the days of his life. The daily consumption of the royal household is now related to show the grandeur and luxury of the court. And it agreed well with the greatness of the kingdom. The lavish provision of Oriental palaces was evidently a subject of wonder and of boasting to the ancients, as the inscriptions and monuments show.
And Solomon's provision for one day was thirty measures of fine flour, and threescore measures of meal,
Verse 22. - And Solomon's provision [marg. bread, but לֶחֶם, strictly signifies any kind of food] for one day was thirty measures [Heb. cots. The כֹּר was both a liquid and a dry measure (ch. 5:11) and was the equivalent to the homer (Ezekiel 45:14), but its precise capacity is doubtful. According to Josephus, it contained eighty-six gallons; according to the Rabbins, forty-four] of fine flour and threescore measures of meal. [Thenius calculates that this amount of flour would yield 28,000 lbs. of bread, which (allowing 2 lbs. to each person) would give 14,000 as the number of Solomon's retainers. This computation, however, could have but little value did not his calculations, based on the consumption of flesh, mentioned presently (allowing 1.5 lbs. per head), lead to the same result.
Ten fat oxen, and twenty oxen out of the pastures, and an hundred sheep, beside harts, and roebucks, and fallowdeer, and fatted fowl.
Verse 23. - Ten fat [Heb. fatted, i.e., for table] oxen, and twenty fat oxen out of the pastures, and an hundred sheep, beside harts and roebucks [or gazelles] and fallowdeer [Roebucks. The name Yahmur is still current in Palestine in this sense (Conder, p. 91)], and fatted fowl [This word (בַּרְבֻּדִים) occurs nowhere else. The meaning most in favour is geese.]
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.
Verse 24. - For [the connexion seems to be: Solomon could well support such lavish expenditure, because] he had dominion over all the region on this side [בְּעֵבֶר strictly means, on the other side, beyond (עָבַר transiit). But here it must obviously mean on the west side, for Solomon's rule did not extend east of the Euphrates. The use of this word in this sense (Joshua 5:1; Joshua 9:1; Joshua 12:7; 1 Chronicles 26:30; Ezra 8:36; Nehemiah 2:7) is generally accounted for on the supposition that the writers were living in Babylon in the time of the captivity; but this appears to be by no means certain. (See, e.g., Ezra 4:10, 11.) The truth seems to be, not that "the expression belonged to the time of the captivity, but was retained after the return and without regard to its geographical signification, just, for instance, like the expression, Gallia Trans-alpina" (Bahr), but that from the first it was employed, now of one side, now of the other, of the Jordan; of the west in Genesis 1:10, 11; Joshua 9:1, etc.; of the east in Numbers 22:1; Numbers 32:32; "and even in the same chapter is used first of one and then of the other Deuteronomy 3:8, 20, 25" (Spk. Comm. on Deuteronomy 1:1), and that it was subsequently applied, with similar variations of meaning, to the Euphrates. See Introduction, sect. 5.] from Tiphsah [cf. 2 Kings 15:16, apparently the town on the west bank of the Euphrates, known to the Greeks as Thapsacus. It derived its name from the fact that the river at that point was fordable פָּסַח = pass over; תִּפְסַה = crossing. A bridge of boats was maintained here by the Persians. It was here that the river was forded by Cyrus and the Ten Thousand, and was crossed by the armies of Darius Codomannus and Alexander] to Azzah [i.e., Gaza, now called Guzzeh, the southernmost city of Philistia, ten miles from the Mediterranean, and the last town in Palestine on the Egyptian frontier. Cf. ver. 21], over an the kings on this side the river ["Petty kings were numerous at this time in all the countries dependent upon Judaea" (Rawlinson). Cf. 1 Samuel 6:16; 2 Samuel 8:3-10; 1 Kings 20:1. The "kings on this side the river" were those of Syria (2 Samuel 8:6. Cf. 10:19) conquered by David, and of Philistia, 2 Samuel 8:1]: and he had peace on all sides [Heb. from all his servants] round about him [in fulfilment of 1 Chronicles 22:9. The objection of Thenius that this statement contradicts that of ch. 11:23, sqq., is hardly deserving of serious notice. The reign of Solomon, on the whole, was undoubtedly a peaceful one.
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.
Verse 25. - And Judah and Israel [here we have the copula, the absence of which in ver. 20 suggests a corruption or confusion of the text] dwelt safely [Heb. confidently. Cf. Judges 8:11; 1 Samuel 12:11], every man under his vine and under his fig tree. [A proverbial expression (see 2 Kings 18:31, where it is used by Rabshakeh; Micah 4:4; Zechariah 3:10) to denote rest and the undisturbed enjoyment of the fruits of the earth, not necessarily, as Keil, "the most costly products of the land." In invasions, raids, etc., it is still the custom of the East to cut and carry off all the crops, and fruits. Wordsworth notices that the vine often" clustered on the walls of houses (Psalm 128:3), or around and over the courtyards", from Dan even to Beersheba [i.e., from the extreme northern to the extreme southern (not eastern, as the American translator of Bahr) boundary, Judges 20:1; 1 Samuel 3:20; 2 Samuel 3:10].
And Solomon had forty thousand stalls of horses for his chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen.
Verse 26. - And Solomon had forty thousand stalls of horses [40,000 is certainly a clerical error, probably for 4000 (i.e., אַרְבָּיעים for אַרְבָּעָה). For

(1) in the parallel passage in Chronicles the number is stated as 4000.

(2) 4000 agrees, and 40,000 does not, with the other numbers here given.

The chariots, e.g., numbered 1400; the horsemen 12,000. Now for 1400 chariots the proper allowance of horses would be about 4000. We see from the monuments that it was customary to yoke two horses (seldom three) to a chariot; but a third or supernumerary horse was provided to meet emergencies or accidents. 4000 horses would hence be a liberal provision for Solomon's chariots, and it would also agree well with the number of his cavalry. 12,000 cavalry and 40,000 chariot horses are out of all proportion. As to stalls, it seems clear that in ancient, as in modern times, each horse had a separate crib (Vegetins in Bochart, quoted by Keil). Gesenius, however, understands by אֻרְות, not stalls, but teams, or pairs] for his chariots [or chariotry: the word is singular and collective] and twelve hundred horsemen [rather, horses, i.e., riding or cavalry, as distinguished from chariot horses above. See note on 1 Kings 1:5. It has been supposed that this warlike provision is mentioned to account for the peace ("si vis pacem, para bellum") of Solomon's reign, and was designed to overawe the tributary kings. But it is more probable that the idea of the historian was, partly to exhibit the pomp and circumstance of Israel's greatest king, and partly to record a contravention of the law (Deuteronomy 17:16), which was one of the precursors of his fall].
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.
Verse 27. - And those [rather, these, i.e., the officers mentioned vv. 7-19] officers provided victual for [Heb. nourished] king Solomon and for all that came unto king Solomon's table [we can hardly see here (with Keil) "a further proof of the blessings of peace." The words were probably suggested by the mental wonder how the cavalry, etc., could be maintained, and so the author states that this great number of horses and horsemen depended on the twelve purveyors for their food] every man in his month; they lacked nothing [rather, suffered nothing to be lacking. So Gesen.; and the context seems to require it].
Barley also and straw for the horses and dromedaries brought they unto the place where the officers were, every man according to his charge.
Verse 28. - Barley also [the food of horses at the present day in the East, where oats are not grown. (Cf. Hom. II. 5:196)] and straw for the horses and dromedaries [marg. mules or swift beasts. Coursers, or fleet horses of superior breed are intended. רֶכֶשׁ = Germ. Renner. These coursers were for the use of the king's messengers or posts. See Esther 8:10, 14] brought they unto the place where the officers were ["officers" is not in the Hebrew. The LXX. and Vulg. supply "king "(the verb is singular, "was"). But the true meaning is to be gathered from chap. 10:26. There we learn that the horses were distributed in different towns throughout the land. To these different depots, therefore, the purveyors must forward the provender, "unto the place where it should be" (יִהְיֶה), not, as Rawlinson, "where the horses were."] every man according to his charge.
And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding exceeding much, and largeness of heart, even as the sand that is on the sea shore.
Verse 29. - And God gave Solomon [in fulfilment of the promise of chap. 3:12] wisdom and understanding (חָכְמָה, wisdom, knowledge; תְּבוּנָה discernment, penetration. The historian, after describing the prosperity of the realm, proceeds to speak of the personal endowments of its head] and largeness of heart exceeding much [the Easterns speak of the heart where we should talk of head or intellect (1 Kings 3:9, 12; 1 Kings 10:24. Cf. Matthew 15:19; Ephesians 1:18 (Greek); Hebrews 4:12). The "large heart" is the ingenium capax, as Thenius. These different words indicate the variety and scope of his talents, in agreement with ver. 33] as the sand that is on the seashore. [Same expression in Genesis 22:17; Genesis 32:12; Genesis 41:49; Joshua 11:4; Judges 7:12, etc.]
And Solomon's wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the children of the east country, and all the wisdom of Egypt.
Verse 30. - And Solomon's wisdom excelled [or exceeded; same word as in ver. 29] the wisdom of all the children of the east country [By the Beni-Kedem we are hardly to understand (with Rawlinson) a distinct tribe on the banks of the Euphrates. It is true that the land of the Beni-Kedem is identified with Haran or Mesopotamia (Genesis 29:1), and the mountains of Kedem (Numbers 23:7) are evidently those of Aram. It is also true that "the children of the East" are apparently distinguished from the Amalekites and Midianites (Judges 6:8, 33; Judges 7:12; Judges 8:10). It is probable, nevertheless, that the name is here employed to designate all the Arabian tribes east and southeast of Palestine - Sabaeans, Idumeans, Temanites, Chaldeans. What their wisdom was like, we may see in the Book of Job. Cf. Jeremiah 49:7; Obadiah 1:8] and all the wisdom of Egypt. [The learning of Egypt was of great repute in the Old World. It differed very considerably from the wisdom of Kedem, being scientific rather than gnomic (Isaiah 19:11, 12; Isaiah 31:2, 8; Acts 7:22) and including geometry, astronomy, magic, and medicine. See Jos., Ant. 8:02.5; Herod. 2:109. 160. Wilkinson, "Ancient Egyptians" vol. 2. pp. 316-465.
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.
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.]
And he spake three thousand proverbs: and his songs were a thousand and five.
Verse 32. - And he spake three thousand proverbs: and his songs were a thousand and five. [Of the former, less than one-third are preserved in the Book of Proverbs (see Proverbs 1:1; Proverbs 25:1); the rest are lost to us. The Book of Ecclesiastes, even if the composition of Solomon, can hardly be described as proverbs. Of his songs all have perished, except the Song of Solomon, and possibly Psalm 72, 127. (see the titles), and, according to some, 128.
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.
Verse 33. - And he spare of [i.e., discoursed, treated, not necessarily wrote] trees [In his proverbs and songs he exceeded the children of the East. But his knowledge was not only speculative, but scientific. In his acquaintance with natural history he outshone the Egyptians, ver. 20], from the cedar tree that is in Lebanon [A favourite illustration. The Jews had a profound admiration for all trees, and of these they justly regarded the cedar as king. Cf. Judges 9:15; Psalm 80:10; Psalm 104:16; Song of Solomon 5:15; Ezekiel 31:3] unto the hyssop that springeth out of the wall [His knowledge, i.e., embraced the least productions of nature as well as the greatest. The common hyssop (Exodus 12:22; Leviticus 14:4) can hardly be intended here, as that often attains a considerable height (two feet), but a miniature variety or moss like hyssop in appearance, probably Orthotrichura saxatile]: he spake also of beasts, and of fowl, and of creeping things, and of fishes. ["The usual Biblical division of the animal kingdom" (Rawlinson). The arrangment is hardly according to manner of motion (Bahr). If anything, it is according to elements - earth, sky, sea. Both Jewish and Mohammedan writers abound in exaggerated or purely fabulous accounts of Solomon's attainments and gifts. We may see the beginning of these in Jos., Ant. 8:02.5.
And there came of all people to hear the wisdom of Solomon, from all kings of the earth, which had heard of his wisdom.
Verse 34. - And there came of all people [Heb. the peoples, nations] to hear the wisdom of Solomon [1 Kings 10:1], from all the kings of the earth [i.e., messengers, ambassadors, as in the next chapter], which had heard of his wisdom.

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