|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
9:15-28 Here is a further account of Solomon's greatness. He began at the right end, for he built God's house first, and finished that before he began his own; then God blessed him, and he prospered in all his other buildings. Let piety begin, and profit follow; leave pleasure to the last. Whatever pains we take for the glory of God, and to profit others, we are likely to have the advantage. Canaan, the holy land, the glory of all lands, had no gold in it; which shows that the best produce is that which is for the present support of life, our own and others; such things did Canaan produce. Solomon got much by his merchandise, and yet has directed us to a better trade, within reach of the poorest. Wisdom is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold, Pr 3:14.
Verse 18. - And Baalath [probably the place mentioned in Joshua 19:44, and therefore a town of Daniel By some it has been identified, but on wholly insufficient grounds - the mention of Tadmor immediately afterwards being the chief - with Baalbek. This is one of the names which prove how ancient and widespread was the worship of Baal (Gesen., Thesaurus, 225; Dict. Bib., 1:147,148) ] and Tadmor in the wilderness, in the land. [Whether this is
(1) the famous Palmyra, or
(2) Tamar, an obscure town of south Judah, is a question which has been much disputed. It should be stated in the first place that the Cethib has תמר, but the Keri, after 2 Chronicles 8:4, reads תדמר, as do all the versions; and secondly that a Tarnar is mentioned Ezekiel 47:19 and Ezekiel 48:28 a place which may well be identical with "Hazazon Tamar, which is Engedi" (2 Chronicles 20:2; cf. Genesis 14:7. In favour of (1) are the following considerations:
(1) the statement of the chronicler that Solomon did build Palmyra (for of the identity of "Tadmor" with Palmyra there can be no reasonable doubt; see Dict. Bib. 3:1428).
(2) The probability that Solomon, with his wide views of commerce, would seize upon and fortify the one oasis in the great Syrian desert in order to establish an entrepot there (see on ver. 19).
(3) The words "in the wilderness," which, of course, are eminently true of Palmyra. Against it, however, may be urged
(1) that Tamar was much more likely to be changed into Tadmor than Tadmor into Tamar.
(2) That this place is distinctly described as "in the land," which, strictly, Palmyra was not. But here it is to be observed that the chronicler omits these words, and that the Syriac, Arabic, and Vulgate render, "in the land of the wilderness." Keil says our text is manifestly corrupt, and certainly the expression is a singular one. Some would, therefore, alter בארץ into באדם, or into בחמת (after 2 Chronicles 8:4). Both of the emendations, however, while undoubtedly plausible, are purely conjectural. Wordsworth, who thinks Palmyra is meant, says it is described as "in the land" to indicate that God had fulfilled his promise to extend the land of Solomon far eastward into the wilderness (Psalm 72:9). And a Jewish historian, especially in the time of his country s decadence, might well recount how this great city had once been comprised within the boundaries of Israel. In favour of (2) are these facts:
(1) That it is the reading of the text. It is said, however, that the ancient name of Tadmor was Tamar, and the place clearly owed its name to the Palm trees. But the name is always Tadmor in the Palmyrene inscriptions.
(2) That this place was "in the wilderness," i.e., of Judah.
(3) That it was "in the land," and
(4) that it was in close proximity to the places just mentioned. The evidence is thus so evenly balanced that it is impossible to decide positively between the two.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And Baalath,.... A city in the tribe of Dan, Joshua 19:44.
and Tadmor in the wilderness, in the land; or "Tamar", as in the Cetib, or Scriptural reading; for we go according to the marginal reading, and so Thamato in Ptolemy (p); and is thought by some to be the same with Tamar in Ezekiel 47:19, which Jerom there says is Palmyra. Tamar signifies a palm tree, from whence this city had its name Palmyra, the situation of which place agrees with this; hence we read both in Ptolemy (q) and Pliny (r) of the Palmyrene deserts: the ruins of it are to be seen to this day, and of it this account is given; that it is enclosed on three sides with long ridges of mountains, which open towards the east gradually, to the distance of about an hour's riding; but to the south stretches a vast plain, beyond the reach of the eye; the air is good, but the soil exceeding barren; nothing green to be seen therein, save some few palm trees in the gardens, and here and there about the town; and from these trees, I conceive, says my author, it obtained its name both in Hebrew and in Latin: it appears to have been of a large extent, by the space now taken up by the ruins; but there are no footsteps of any wall remaining, nor is it possible to judge of the ancient figure of the place. The present inhabitants, as they are poor, miserable, dirty people, so they have shut themselves up, to the number of about thirty or forty families, in little huts made of dirt, within the walls of a spacious court, which enclosed a most magnificent Heathen temple (s). Benjamin of Tudela says (t), it is situated in a wilderness, far from any habitable place, and is four days' journey from Baalath before mentioned; which place he takes to be the same with Baalbek, in the valley of Lebanon, built by Solomon for Pharaoh's daughter; which, according to the Arabic geographer (u), was situated at the foot of Mount Lebanon; and Tadmor seems to be in the land of Hamathzobah, 2 Chronicles 8:3.
(p) Geograph. l. 5. c. 16. (q) Ib. c. 15. (r) Nat. Hist. l. 5. c. 26. & 6. 28. (s) Halifax apud Philosphic. Transact. vol. 3. p. 504. (t) Itinerar. p. 57, 58. (u) Geograph. Nub. par. 5. clim. 3. p. 117.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Tadmor—Palmyra, between Damascus and the Euphrates, was rebuilt and fortified as a security against invasion from northern Asia. In accomplishing these and various other works which were carried on throughout the kingdom, especially in the north, where Rezon of Damascus, his enemy, might prove dangerous, he employed vast numbers of the Canaanites as galley slaves (2Ch 2:18), treating them as prisoners of war, who were compelled to do the drudgery and hard labor, while the Israelites were only engaged in honorable employment.
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