And Solomon had forty thousand stalls of horses for his chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Forty thousand.—By comparison with the parallel passage in 2Chronicles 9:25, and with the notice in 1Kings 10:26 (one thousand four hundred), it seems clear that for “forty thousand” “four thousand” should be read. They were kept in various “chariot cities,” as well as at Jerusalem. This multiplication of horses and horsemen—forbidden to the future king in Deuteronomy 17:16, but foretold by Samuel at the inauguration of the kingdom (1Samuel 8:11-12)—is significant of military conquest and an extended empire. The Israelite armies, in frequent contradistinction from their enemies, had been hitherto mainly of infantry; and in Joshua 11:9 the chariots and horses captured were not used, but destroyed, “as the Lord bade Joshua.” Such armies were powerful for defence, not for invasion. Now, as it would seem for the first time, this provision of the ancient law, like many others, was set aside, and Solomon’s empire assumed the character of other great Oriental monarchies.1 Kings 4:26. Solomon had forty thousand stalls of horses for chariots — In 2 Chronicles 9:25, it is said, he had but four thousand. And Bochart thinks that the Hebrew word here used should be rendered four, not forty, or that some error has crept into the text in regard to the number here mentioned. It is justly observed, however, by Poole, that the Hebrew word translated stalls here, is not exactly the same word which is used, and so translated, in Chronicles; and that, therefore, there may well be allowed some difference in the signification; the one signifying, properly, stables; of such there were four thousand; the other stalls, or partitions for each horse, which were forty thousand. For his chariots — Both for his military chariots, which seem to be those fourteen hundred, 1 Kings 10:26, and for divers other uses, as respecting his great and various buildings, and merchandises, and other occasions, which might require some thousands of other chariots. And twelve thousand horsemen — Appointed partly for the defence of his people in peace, and partly for attendance upon his person, and for the splendour of his government.2 Chronicles 9:25, the number of stalls for Solomon's chariot horses is stated at 4,000, instead of 40,000. The number in the present passage is probably a corruption. Solomon's chariots were but 1,400 1 Kings 10:26; 2 Chronicles 1:14, for which 40,000 horses could not possibly be required. The Assyrian chariots had at most three horses apiece, while some had only two. 4,000 horses would supply the full team of three to 1,200, and the smaller team of two to 200 chariots. The number 4,000 is in due proportion to the 12,000 horses for cavalry, and is in accordance with all that we know of the military establishments of the time and country. Compare 2 Chronicles 12:3; 2 Samuel 8:4. Forty thousand stalls of horses. In 2 Chronicles 9:25, it is but four thousand. Answ. First, Some acknowledge an error of the transcriber, writing arbahim, forty, for arbah, four, which was an easy mistake. And such mistakes in some copies, in these lesser matters, God might permit, for the trial and exercise of our faith, without any prejudice to the authority of the sacred Scriptures in the great doctrines of faith and good life. Secondly, It is not exactly the same Hebrew word which is here and there, though we translate both stalls; and therefore there may well be allowed some difference in the signification, the one signifying properly stables, of which there were 4000, the other stalls or partitions for each horse, which were 40,000; which great number seems directly forbidden, Deu 17:16, except Solomon had some particular dispensation from God, which might be, though it be not recorded.
For his chariots; both for his military chariots, which seem to be those 1400, 1 Kings 10:26, and for divers other uses, as about his great and various buildings, and merchandises, and other occasions, which might require some thousands of other chariots.
Twelve thousand horsemen; appointed partly for the defence and preservation of his people in peace; and partly for attendance upon his person, and for the splendour of his government. Compare 1 Kings 10:26. But the words may be otherwise rendered,
and twelve thousand horses, for parash manifestly signifies both a horse and horsemen. And these might be a better sort of horses than most of those which were designed for the chariots. Or thus, and for (which particle is easily understood and borrowed from the foregoing clause) twelve thousand horsemen; and so he means that the 40,000 horses were in part appointed for his chariots, and in part for his 12,000 horsemen. 2 Chronicles 9:25; it is only four thousand; and therefore some think that here is a mistake of the copier, of "arbaim", forty, for "arbah", four; which it is thought might be through divine permission, in such lesser matters, without any prejudice to the authority of the Scriptures in matters of faith and practice; but without supposing this, a reconciliation may be made, by observing, that here the writer, as Ben Gersom notes, gives the number of the horses that were in the stables, which were forty thousand, there the stables themselves, which were four thousand, ten horses in a stable; or here he numbers the stalls, which were forty thousand, and there the stables, which were four thousand, there being ten stalls in each; and the word there has the letter "yod" in it more than here, which is the numerical letter for "ten", and may point thereunto; or here the writer speaks of all the stalls for horses Solomon had throughout the kingdom, there of those only he had in Jerusalem. Benjamin of Tudela (g) affirms, that these stalls, or stables, which Solomon built very strong of large stones, are still in being in Jerusalem, and that there is no building to be seen like it any where; but no other writer speaks of them; nor is it at all probable that they should remain:
for his chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen; some of the said stalls of horses were for his chariots, to draw in them for various uses, of which had 1400, 1 Kings 10:26; and others to mount twelve thousand horsemen, who were placed in various parts, to defend kingdom.And Solomon had forty thousand stalls of horses for his chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)26. horses for his chariots] This is one of the passages which make clear the meaning of the Hebrew sus, a horse to go in a chariot, and parash, a saddle-horse. In 2 Chronicles 9:25 the number of stalls is 4000 instead of 40000 as here.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]. 1 Kings 4:20 the account of Solomon's officers is closed by a general remark as to the prosperous condition of the whole nation; though we miss the copula Vav at the commencement. The words, "Judah and Israel were numerous as the sand by the sea," indicate that the promise given to the patriarchs (Genesis 22:17, cf. Genesis 32:13) had been fulfilled. To this there is appended in 1 Kings 5:1 the remark concerning the extent of Solomon's sway, which prepares the way for what follows, and shows how the other portion of the promise, "thy seed will possess the gates of its enemies," had been fulfilled. - The first fourteen verses of 1 Kings 5 are therefore connected by the lxx, Vulg., Luther, and others with 1 Kings 4. It is not till 1 Kings 5:15 that a new section begins.
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