And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding exceeding much, and largeness of heart, even as the sand that is on the sea shore.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Wisdom and understanding . . . and largeness of heart.—In this passage, “understanding,” which is high intellectual power, and “largeness of heart,” which is clearly capacity of knowledge, boundless as “the sand on the sea-shore,” are both distinguished from the higher gift of wisdom, to which they are but means—the one being the capacity of wisdom within, the other the education of that capacity from without, (a) Wisdom, in the true sense in which it is used in Scripture (especially in the Books of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes), is properly the attribute of God, and then, by His gifts of revelation and inspiration, reflected in man. The “wisdom of God” (see, for example, Proverbs 8) is, in relation to man, His Divine purpose in the creation and government of the world, which all things work out. The “wisdom of man” is the knowledge of the true end and object of his own being—which if he fulfil not, it were better for him not to have been born—whether that object be called happiness or perfection. For such knowledge the Book of Ecclesiastes describes a vain search. Such knowledge, as found already, is embodied in the Proverbs; sometimes in the lowest sense of knowledge of what will conduce to our own happiness; sometimes in the higher knowledge of what will best serve man; most often in the supreme knowledge, how we may best do God’s will and show forth His glory. (b) But, since the purpose of our own being cannot be discovered, if our life be regarded as isolated from the history of the world and from its great design, this wisdom in man is regarded as possible, only when he has some glimpse of the wisdom of God, as manifested to man in His visible Providence, in His declared law, and His special revelation to the soul. Hence, “the fear of the Lord” is its “beginning;” and faith in God is the supplement of its necessary imperfection. (c)It will be obvious that, even so considered, this desire for wisdom is more self-contained and self-conscious than “the thirst for God, even the living God,” in which the soul of the Psalmist expresses absolute dependence on God. If the sense of the need of God’s revelation and of the necessity of faith beyond knowledge be lost, then this consciousness of wisdom may well become a self-idolatry, in which the mind prides itself on having pierced to the secret of being, holds that by such knowledge it becomes superior to ordinary law and duty, and delights in philosophical contemplation, rather than in active energy and religious devotion.1 Kings 4:29-30. God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding exceeding much — Knowledge of a great variety of things, and prudence in the administration of the government. And largeness of heart — Vastness of understanding, or a very comprehensive mind, capable of receiving the knowledge of all things, both divine and human. As the sand that is on the sea-shore — As the sand there encloses a vast body of waters, so his mind contained an ocean of knowledge, as the Lord Bacon somewhere speaks. The wisdom of all the children of the east country — The Chaldeans, Persians, and Arabians, who all lay eastward from Canaan, and were famous in ancient times for their wisdom and learning, the Arabians especially, as appears from the book of Job. And, in after ages, Porphyry reports that Pythagoras travelled into this country to improve himself in learning. And all the wisdom of Egypt — Which country was celebrated for wisdom in Moses’s time, as appears from Acts 7:22; and, in after times, Macrobius calls Egypt the mother of arts. Indeed, such was their skill in arts and sciences, that they despised the Greeks as children in knowledge.1 Kings 4:20, but its use here to express mere amplitude or greatness is unique.
29. God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding exceeding much, and largeness of heart—that is, high powers of mind, great capacity for receieving, as well as aptitude for communicating knowledge.Largeness of heart, i.e. either, first, Magnanimity, or generosity, and greatness of spirit, whereby he was disposed and emboldened to undertake great things. But this seems not so well to suit with the following resemblance. Or rather, secondly, Vastness of understanding; a most comprehensive knowledge of all things, both Divine and human; for this wisdom is the thing for which he is here commended, both in the foregoing and following words.
Even as the sand that is on the sea-shore; which cannot be numbered or measured; and which, though it be so vast and comprehensive, yet consists of the smallest parts: and so it may note that Solomon’s wisdom was both vast, reaching to all things; and most accurate, searching and discerning every small thing. James 1:5;
and largeness of heart, even as sand that is on the seashore; he had a genius and capacity to receive anything; his knowledge was vast and comprehensive; it reached to and included things innumerable, as the sand of the sea; there was scarce anything under the heavens, or on the earth, and in the sea, but came within the compass of it, as what are later mentioned show.And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding exceeding much, and largeness of heart, even as the sand that is on the sea shore.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)29–34. The wisdom and fame of Solomon (Not in Chronicles)
29. largeness of heart] By this is meant a comprehensive powerful mind capable of grasping the knowledge of many and difficult subjects; poetry, philosophy, natural history in its various branches; he was master of them all.
as the sand that is on the sea shore] The proverbial expression for greatness of every kind. See above 1 Kings 4:20.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.] Exodus 29:2; for סלת see also Leviticus 2:2), and sixty cors of קמח, ordinary meal, ten fattened oxen, twenty pasture oxen, which were brought directly from the pasture and slaughtered, and a hundred sheep, beside different kinds of game. כּר, κορός, the later name for חמר, the largest dry and also liquid (1 Kings 5:11), measure of capacity, contained ten ephahs or baths, i.e., according to the calculation made by Thenius, 15,300 cubic inches (Dresden) equals about 1 7/8 scheffel;
(Note: The scheffel is about an English sack (vid., Flgel's Dict.). - Tr.)
so that ninety cors would amount to 171 scheffel, from which 28,000 lbs. of bread could be baked (Theol. Stud. und Krit. 1846, pp. 132,133). And "if we reckon 2 lbs. of bread to each person, there would be 14,000 persons in Solomon's court," The consumption of flesh would be quite in proportion to that of bread; for ten fattened oxen, twenty oxen from the pasture, and a hundred sheep, yield more than 21,000 lbs. of meat, that is to say, a pound and a half for each person, "assuming, according to the statements of those who are acquainted with the matter, that the edible meat of a fat ox amounts to 600 lbs., that of an ox from the pasture to 400 lbs., and that of a sheep to 70 lbs." (Thenius ut sup.). This daily consumption of Solomon's court will not appear too great, if, on the one hand, we compare it with the quantity consumed at other oriental courts both of ancient and modern times,
(Note: According to Athen. Deipnos. iv. 10, the kings of Persia required a thousand oxen a day; and according to Tavernier, in Rosenmller's A. u. N. Morgenland, iii. pp. 166,167, five hundred sheep and lambs were slaughtered daily for the Sultan's court.)
and if, on the other hand, we bear in mind that not only the numerous attendants upon the king and his harem, but also the royal adjutants and the large number of officers employed about the court, were supplied from the king's table, and that their families had also to be fed, inasmuch as the wages in oriental courts are all paid in kind. In addition to this, game was also supplied to the king's table: viz., איּל stags, צבי gazelles, יחמוּר fallow-deer, and אבוּסים בּרבּרים "fattened fowl." The meaning of אבוּסים is doubtful. The earlier translators render it birds or fowl. Kimchi adopts the rendering "capons;" Tanch. Hieroz. "geese," so called from their pure (בּרר) white feathers; and both Gesenius and Dietrich (Lex.) decide in favour of the latter. The word must denote some special kind of fowl, since edible birds in general were called צפּרים (Nehemiah 5:18).
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