|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 26. - And king Solomon made a navy of ships [Heb. ךאנִי, a collective noun, classis. The chronicler paraphrases by ךאנִיות, plural. This fact finds a record here, probably because it was to the voyages of this fleet that the king was indebted for the gold which enabled him to erect and adorn the buildings recently described. (As to form, etc., of the ships, see Dict. Bib. 2. p. 1014). But no historian could pass over without notice an event of such profound importance to Israel as the construction of its first ships, which, next to the temple, was the great event of Solomon's reign] in Ezion-geber [lit., the backbone of a man (or giant). Cf. Numbers 33:35; Deuteronomy 2:8; 2 Kings 4:22; 2 Chronicles 8:17. The name is probably due, like Shechem (see note on 1 Kings 12:25) to a real or fancied resemblance in the physical geography of the country to that part of the human body. Stanley (S. and P. p. 84) speaks of "the jagged ranges on each side of the gulf." Akaba, the modern name, also means back. 2 Chronicles l.c. says Solomon went to Ezion-geber, which it is highly probable he would do], which is beside [Heb. אֵת = aloud (Gesen., Lex. s.v.)] Eloth [lit., trees akin to Elim, where were palm trees (Exodus 15:27; Exodus 16:1). The name is interesting as suggesting that Solomon may have found some of the timber for the construction of his fleet here. A grove of palm trees "still exists at the head of the gulf of Akaba" (Stanley S. and P. p. 20). Palms, it is true, are not adapted to shipbuilding, but other timber may have grown there in a past age. But see note on ver. 27. For Elath, see Porter, p. 40; Deuteronomy 2:8; 2 Samuel 8:14 (which shows how it passed into the hand of Israel); 2 Kings 8:20; 2 Kings 14:22; 2 Kings 16:6. It gave a name to the Elanitic Gulf, now the Gulf of Akaba], on the shore [Heb. lip] of the Red sea [Heb. Sea of Rushes. LXX. ἡ ἐρυθρὰ θάλασσα. The redness is due to subaqueous vegetation. "Fragments of red coral are forever being thrown up from the stores below, and it is these coral-line forests which form the true 'weeds' of this fantastic sea" (Stanley, S. and P. p. 83). There is also apparently a bottom of red sandstone (ib. p. 6, note). It is divided by the Sinaitic peninsula into two arms or gulfs, the western being the Gulf of Suez, and the eastern the Gulf of Akabah. The former is 130 miles, the latter 90 miles long], in the land of Edom. [The subjugation of Edom is mentioned 2 Samuel 8:14.]
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And King Solomon made a navy of ships in Eziongeber,.... Which was one of the stations of the Israelites, near the wilderness of Sin, or Paran, Numbers 33:35, it signifies the backbone of a man; and it is said (w) the ridge of rocks before this port were in that form, covered by the sea at high water, and sticking up with various points in a line when it was low. Josephus says (x) in his time it was called Berenice, which is placed by Mela (y) between the Heroopolitic bay, and the promontory Strobilus, or Pharan. It is thought probable (z) to be the same with that which is called by the Arabs Meenah-el-Dsahab, the port of gold, called Dizahab, Deuteronomy 1:1, which stands upon the shore of the Arabic gulf, about two or three days' distance from Mount Sinai; though by others (a) thought to be the same the Arabs call Calzem, where was a great quantity of wood fit for building ships. It is further described,
which is beside Elath, on the shore of the Red sea, in the land of Edom; and when Edom was subdued by David, this port fell into his hands, and so was in the possession of Solomon; and there being plenty of timber in the parts adjacent, and this being a port in the Red sea, Solomon chose it as proper place to build ships in. Elath, near to which was, is the same the Elanitic bay had its name from; or which See Gill on Deuteronomy 2:8. Trajan, the Roman emperor, formed a navy in the Red sea (b), that by it he might ravage and waste the borders of India; and here it seems Solomon's navy went; see 1 Kings 9:28.
(w) Harris's Voyages, vol. 1. B. 1. ch. 2. sect. 3. p. 377. (x) Antiqu. l. 8. c. 6. sect. 4. (y) De Situ Orbis, l. 3. c. 8. (z) Clayton's Chronology, &c. p. 407. (a) Vossius in Melam ut supra, (Harris's Voyages, vol. 1. B. 1. ch. 2. sect. 3.) p. 386. (b) Eutrop. Rom. Hist. l. 8. Ruti Fest. Breviar.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
26. Ezion-geber, which is beside Eloth—These were neighboring ports at the head of the eastern or Elanitic branch of the Red Sea. Tyrian ship carpenters and sailors were sent there for Solomon's vessels (see on 2Ch 8:17, 18).
Ezion-geber—that is, "the giant's backbone"; so called from a reef of rocks at the entrance of the harbor.
Eloth—Elim or Elath; that is, "the trees"; a grove of terebinths still exists at the head of the gulf.
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