|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 27. - And Hiram sent in the navy his servants, shipmen that had knowledge of the sea with the servants of Solomon. [The chronicler states (2 Chronicles 8:18) that he sent ships as well as servants, and it has been thought that ships were transported, in parts or entire, by land across the Isthmus of Suez, and there are certainly instances on record of the land transport of fleets. (Keil reminds us that Alexander the Great, according to Arrian, had snips transported - in pieces - from Phoenicia to the Euphrates, and that, according to Thucydides (Bell. Pelop. 4:8) the Peloponnesians conveyed 60 ships from Corcyra across the Leucadian Isthmus, etc.) But this, especially when the state of engineering science, etc., among the Hebrews is taken into account, is hardly to be thought cf. It is quite possible, however, that timber for shipbuilding was floated on the Mediterranean down to the river of Egypt, or some such place, and then transported either to Suez or to Akaba. Probably all that the chronicler means is that Hiram provided the materials and had the ships built. The Israelites, having hitherto had no fleet, and little or no experience of the sea, were unable to construct ships for themselves. And the Tyrians may have seen in the construction of a fleet for eastern voyages, an opening for the extension of their own maritime trade. Possibly in the first voyages Tyriaus and Jews were copartners.]
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And Hiram sent in his navy his servants,.... And, according to 2 Chronicles 8:18, ships also but how he could send them from Tyre, which lay in the Mediterranean sea, to the above ports in the Red sea, without going a great way round, is not easy to conceive. Perhaps, as Gussetins conjectures (c), Hiram had a port in the Red sea for building and sending out ships, for the sake of his eastern navigation, and from thence he sent them to Solomon's ports in the same sea; but if what R. Japhet (d) observes is true, that the Red sea is mixed with the sea of Joppa by means of the river Rhinocurura, as is remarked by a learned man (e) and who approves of the observation, and thinks it does not deserve the censure Dr. Lightfoot (f) passes on it. If this, I say, can be supported, the difficulty is removed: so Abarbinel asserts (g), that a branch of the Nile flows into the Red sea: and another, passing through Alexandria, runs into the Mediterranean sea. This is the first navy of ships we read of; in the construction of which, as well as in the art of navigation, the Tyrians no doubt were greatly assisting to Solomon's servants, and which appears by what follows; and they are said (h) to be the first that made use of ships; and the invention of ships of burden, or merchant ships, such as these were, is by Pliny (i) ascribed to Hippus the Tyrian: and the Tyrians were famous for merchandise, which they could not carry on with foreign nations without shipping; see Isaiah 23:8, the servants Hiram sent in Solomon's navy were
shipmen that had knowledge of the sea; of sea coasts and ports, of the manner of guiding and managing ships at sea, and of the whole art of navigation, so far as then known, for which the Tyrians were famous; see Ezekiel 27:3,
with the servants of Solomon; to instruct and assist them in naval affairs, they not having been used thereunto.
(c) Ebr. Comment p. 628. (d) In Aben Ezra in Jon. ii. 5. (e) Texelii Phoenix, l. 3. c. 6. p. 243, 244. (f) Miscellanies, c. 18. vol. 1. p. 1002, 1003. (g) Apud Manasseh, Spes Israelis, sect. 2. p. 20. (h) "Prima ratem ventis credere docta Tyros", Catullus. (i) Nat. Hist. l. 7. c. 56.
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