Beside the chief of Solomon's officers which were over the work, three thousand and three hundred, which ruled over the people that worked in the work.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)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.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.
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.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.
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.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.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)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. 2 Chronicles 2:10) to comply with his wishes. אלי שׁלחתּ אשׁר את, "that which thou hast sent to me," i.e., hast asked of me by messenger. ברושׁים are not firs, but cypresses. "My servants shall bring down (the trees) from Lebanon to the sea, and I will make them into rafts (i.e., bind them into rafts and have them floated) upon the sea to the place which thou shalt send (word) to me, and will take them (the rafts) to pieces there, and thou wilt take (i.e., fetch them thence)." The Chronicles give Yafo, i.e., Joppa, Jaffa, the nearest harbour to Jerusalem on the Mediterranean Sea, as the landing-place (see at Joshua 19:46). "And thou wilt do all my desire to give bread for my house," i.e., provisions to supply the wants of the king's court. "The שׂכר mentioned in 1 Kings 5:6 was also to be paid" (Thenius). This is quite correct; but Thenius is wrong when he proceeds still further to assert, that the chronicler erroneously supposed this to refer to the servants of Hiram who were employed in working the wood. There is not a word of this kind in the Chronicles; but simply Solomon's promise to Hiram (1 Kings 5:9): "with regard to the hewers (the fellers of the trees), I give thy servants wheat 20,000 cors, and barley 20,000 cors, and wine 20,000 baths, and oil 20,000 baths." This is omitted in our account, in which the wages promised in 1 Kings 5:6 to the Sidonian fellers of wood are not more minutely defined. On the other hand, the payment for the wood delivered by Solomon to Hiram, which is not mentioned in the Chronicles, is stated here in 1 Kings 5:11. "Solomon gave Hiram 20,000 cors of wheat as food (מכּלת, a contraction of מאכלת, from אכל; cf. Ewald, 79, b.) for his house (the maintenance of his royal court), and 20 cors of beaten oil; this gave Solomon to Hiram year by year," probably as long as the delivery of the wood or the erection of Solomon's buildings lasted. These two accounts are so clear, that Jac. Capp., Gramt., Mov., Thenius, and Bertheau, who have been led by critical prejudices to confound them with one another, and therefore to attempt to emend the one from the other, are left quite alone. For the circumstance that the quantity of wheat, which Solomon supplied to Hiram for his court, was just the same as that which he gave to the Sidonian workmen, does not warrant our identifying the two accounts. The fellers of the trees also received barley, wine, and oil in considerable quantities; whereas the only other thing which Hiram received for his court was oil, and that not common oil, but the finest olive oil, namely 20 cors of כּתית שׁמן, i.e., beaten oil, the finest kind of oil, which was obtained from the olives when not quite ripe by pounding them in mortars, and which had not only a whiter colour, but also a purer flavour than the common oil obtained by pressing from the ripe olives (cf. Celsii Hierobot. ii. pp. 349f., and Bhr, Symbolik, i. p. 419). Twenty cors were 200 baths, i.e., according to the calculations of Thenius, about ten casks (1 cask equals 6 pails; 1 pail equals 72 cans). If we bear in mind that this was the finest kind of oil, we cannot speak of disproportion to the quantity of wheat delivered. Thenius reckons that 20,000 cors of wheat were about 38,250 Dresden scheffeln (? sacks).
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