1 Kings 5:16
Beside the chief of Solomon's officers which were over the work, three thousand and three hundred, which ruled over the people that wrought in the work.
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(16) The chief of Solomon’s officers we should certainly have supposed to have been taken from the Israelites (as clearly were the 550 named in 1Kings 9:23). But the passage in Chronicles (2Chronicles 2:18)—reckoning them at 3,600—seems to imply that they were, like the overseers of Israel in the Egyptian bondage (Exodus 5:14-15), taken from the subject races.

5:10-18 The temple was chiefly built by the riches and labour of Gentiles, which typified their being called into the church. Solomon commanded, and they brought costly stones for the foundation. Christ, who is laid for a Foundation, is a chosen and precious Stone. We should lay our foundation firm, and bestow most pains on that part of our religion which lies out of the sight of men. And happy those who, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, for a habitation of God through the Spirit. Who among us will build in the house of the Lord?Comparing this verse and 1 Kings 9:23 with 2 Chronicles 2:18; 2 Chronicles 8:10, the entire number of the overseers will be seen to be stated by both writers at 3,850; but in the one case nationality, in the other degree of authority, is made the principle of the division. 1Ki 5:13-18. Solomon's Workmen and Laborers.

13. Solomon raised a levy out of all Israel—The renewed notice of Solomon's divine gift of wisdom (1Ki 5:12) is evidently introduced to prepare for this record of the strong but prudent measures he took towards the accomplishment of his work. So great a stretch of arbitrary power as is implied in this compulsory levy would have raised great discontent, if not opposition, had not his wise arrangement of letting the laborers remain at home two months out of three, added to the sacredness of the work, reconciled the people to this forced labor. The carrying of burdens and the irksome work of excavating the quarries was assigned to the remnant of the Canaanites (1Ki 9:20; 2Ch 8:7-9) and war prisoners made by David—amounting to 153,600. The employment of persons of that condition in Eastern countries for carrying on any public work, would make this part of the arrangements the less thought of.

Whereof 3000 were set over the 150,000, expressed 1 Kings 5:15, each of these over 50 of them, and the odd 300 were set ever these 3000, each of these to have the oversight of ten of them, to take an account of the work from them. But in 2 Chronicles 2:18, these overseers are said to be 3600.

Answ. The 300 added in 2Ch 2 might be a reserve, to supply the places of the other 3000; yea, or of the 3300; as any of them should be taken off from the work by death, or sickness, or weakness, or necessary occasions; which was a prudent provision, and not unusual in such-like cases. And so there were 3600 commissioned for the work, but only 3300 employed at one time; and therefore both computations may fairly stand together. Some learned men add, that those 3600 were strangers, which indeed is manifest from 2 Chronicles 2:17; and that those 3330 were a distinct number of men, and Israelites, which were set over all the rest, both strangers and Israelites; who therefore are here called the

chief of Solomon’s officers, and are said to rule over the workmen; whereas all that is said of those 3600, 2 Chronicles 2:18, is, that they were overseers to set the people a work; which may deserve further consideration. Others say, that the 300 added in 2 Chron. were overseers of the Tyrian workmen in Mount Lebanon, and the rest in all other places; or that they were set over some particular and more curious and considerable parts of the work.

Besides the chief of Solomon's officers which were over the work,.... Over the whole work, preparatory for the building of the temple; though it seems chiefly to have respect to that of hewing the stones, and bringing them to the city:

three thousand and three hundred which ruled over the people that wrought in the work; to keep them to their work, and to see that they performed it well: in 2 Chronicles 2:18; they are said to be 3600, which is three hundred more than here; those three hundred are the chief officers mentioned in the former part of this verse, which were over the whole work, and even over the 3600 overseers, and with them made up the sum of 3600; so Jacob Leon (h) observes there were 3300 master workmen, and three hundred commanders over them all.

(h) Relation of Memorable Things in the Temple, ch. 3. p. 14.

Beside the chief of Solomon's officers which were over the work, three thousand and three hundred, which ruled over the people that wrought in the work.
16. three thousand and three hundred] This number differs by 300 from that given in the Chronicles. If the total of the census of the strangers there given be correct, then we ought to read 3600 as the number of the overseers. The LXX. has τρεῖς χιλιάδες καὶ ἑξακόσιοι, and adds that they were employed for 3 years in preparing the stones and the wood.

The stone work was most probably given to the levy of strangers and the work of cutting and dressing timber to the 10,000 Israelites who came month and month about. The word rendered ‘hewers’ in 1 Kings 5:15 is so regularly used of workers in stone, that the LXX. nearly always renders the verb by λατομέω and its participle by λατόμοι (stone cutters).

which ruled over the people] The root-sense of the verb, which is ‘to trample on,’ or ‘break down,’ gives the idea that the ruling was after the fashion of taskmasters.

Verse 16. - Beside [without counting] the chief of Solomon's officers [Heb. the princes of the overseers, i.e., the princes who acted as overseers, principes qui praefecti erant (Vatabl.)] which were over the work three thousand and three hundred [This large number proves that the "chiefs of the overseers" cannot be meant. Were all the 3,300 superior officers, there must have been quite an army of subalterns. But we read of none. In 1 Kings 9:23, an additional number of 550 "princes of the overseers" (same expression) is mentioned, making a total of 3,850 superintendents, which agrees with the total stated in the Book of Chronicles. It is noteworthy, however, that the details differ from those of the Kings. In 2 Chronicles 2:17 we read of a body of 3,600 "overseers to set the people a work," whilst in 1 Kings 8:10 mention is made of 250 "princes of the overseers." These differences result, no doubt, from difference of classification and arrangement (J.H. Michaelis). In Chronicles the arrangement is one of race, i.e., 3,600 aliens גּרֵים; cf. 2 Chronicles 2:18) and 250 Israelites, whilst in Kings it is one of status, i.e., 3,300 inferior and 550 superior officers. It follows consequently that all the inferior and 300 of the superior overseers were Canaanites] which ruled over the people that wrought in the work. 1 Kings 5:16"Beside (לבד), i.e., without reckoning, the princes, Solomon's officers, who were over the work (i.e., the chiefs appointed by Solomon as overlookers of the work), 3300, who ruled over the people who laboured at the work." הנּצּבים שׂרי, as Thenius correctly observes, cannot be the chief of the overlookers, i.e., the head inspectors, as there is no allusion made to subordinate inspectors, and the number given is much too large for head inspectors. נצּבים, which is governed by שׂרי in the construct state, is to be taken as defining the substantive: principes qui praefecti erant (Vatabl.; cf. Ewald, 287, a.). Moreover, at the close of the account of the whole of Solomon's buildings (1 Kings 9:23), 550 more הנּצּבים שׂרי are mentioned as presiding over the people who did the work. The accounts in the Chronicles differ from these in a very peculiar manner, the number of overseers being given in 2 Chronicles 2:17 and 3600, and in 2 Chronicles 8:10 as 250. Now, however natural it may be, with the multiplicity of errors occurring in numerical statements, to assume that these differences have arisen from copyists' errors through the confounding together of numerical letters resembling one another, this explanation is overthrown as an improbable one, by the fact that the sum-total of the overseers is the same in both accounts (3300 + 550 equals 3850 in the books of Kings, and 3600 + 250 equals 3850 in the Chronicles); and we must therefore follow J. H. Michaelis, an explain the differences as resulting from a different method of classification, namely, from the fact that in the Chronicles. the Canaanitish overseers are distinguished from the Israelitish (viz., 3600 Canaanites and 250 Israelites), whereas in the books of Kings the inferiores et superiores praefecti are distinguished. Consequently Solomon had 3300 inferior overseers and 550 superior (or superintendents), of whom 250 were selected from the Israelites and 300 from the Canaanites. In 2 Chronicles 2:16-17, it is expressly stated that the 3600 were taken from the גּרים, i.e., the Canaanites who were left in the land of Israel. And it is equally certain that the number given in 1 Kings 9:23 and 2 Chronicles 8:10 (550 and 250) simply comprises the superintendents over the whole body of builders, notwithstanding the fact that in both passages (1 Kings 5:16 and 1 Kings 9:23) the same epithet הנּצּבים שׂרי is used. If, then, the number of overseers is given in 1 Kings 9:23 and 550, i.e., 300 more than in the parallel passage of the Chronicles, there can hardly be any doubt that the number 550 includes the 300, in which the number given in our chapter falls short of that in the Chronicles, and that in the 3300 of our chapter the superintendents of Canaanitish descent are not included.

(Note: Ewald (Gesch. iii. p. 292) assumes that "by the 550 (1 Kings 9:23) we are to understand the actual superintendents, whereas the 3300 (1 Kings 5:13) include inferior inspectors as well; and of the 550 superintendents, 300 were taken from the Canaanaeans, so that only 250 (2 Chronicles 8:10) were native Hebrews;" though he pronounces the number 3600 (2 Chronicles 2:17) erroneous. Bertheau, on the other hand, in his notes in 2 Chronicles 8:10, has rather complicated than elucidated the relation in which the two accounts stand to one another.)

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