1 Kings 5:18
And Solomon's builders and Hiram's builders did hew them, and the stone squarers: so they prepared timber and stones to build the house.
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(18) The stone-squarers.—This rendering is a curious gloss on the proper name, “Giblites” (see margin)—the inhabitants of Gebal (mentioned in Ezekiel 27:9 in connection with Tyre, and probably in Psalm 83:7), a city on the coast of Phœnicia—simply because the context shows that they were clever in stone-squaring. As they are distinguished from Hiram’s builders, it is possible that they were serfs under them, like the Canaanites under Solomon’s builders.

1 Kings 5:18. Solomon’s builders and Hiram’s did hew them — It seemed Solomon’s servants learned of Hiram’s, or, at least, were directed by them to assist in the work. And the stone-squarers — Hebrew, the Giblites, the inhabitants of Gebal, a place near Zidon, mentioned Psalm 83:7; Ezekiel 27:9, famous for artificers and architects, Joshua 13:5. These are here distinguished from the rest of Hiram’s builders, as the most eminent of them. So they prepared timber and stones to build the house — Made all ready, not only to lay the foundation, but to raise the superstructure. 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?The stone-squarers - The Gebalites (see the margin), the inhabitants of Gebal, a Phoenician city between Beyrout and Tripolis, which the Greeks called Byblus, and which is now known as Jebeil. 18. and the stone squarers—The Margin, which renders it "the Giblites" (Jos 13:5), has long been considered a preferable translation. This marginal translation also must yield to another which has lately been proposed, by a slight change in the Hebrew text, and which would be rendered thus: "Solomon's builders, and Hiram's builders, did hew them and bevel them" [Thenius]. These great bevelled or grooved stones, measuring some twenty, others thirty feet in length, and from five to six feet in breadth, are still seen in the substructures about the ancient site of the temple; and, in the judgment of the most competent observers, were those originally employed "to lay the foundation of the house." The stone-squarers, Heb. the Gibites; the inhabitants of Gebel, a place near Zidon, named Psalm 83:7 Ezekiel 27:9, famous for artificers and architects, Joshua 13:5. These are here mentioned apart, as distinct from the rest of Hiram’s builders, as the most eminent of them. And Solomon's builders and Hiram's builders did hew them,.... The stones; for it seems Solomon had not only hewers of wood, but of stone, from Hiram:

and the stonesquarers; or rather the Giblites, the men of Gebal, which were under the jurisdiction of Tyre, and were skilful in this sort of work, as some of them were in others, see Ezekiel 27:9;

so they prepared timber and stones to build the house; both Solomon's and Hiram's builders, and the large number of workmen, both Israelites and strangers; which latter were an emblem of the Gentiles concerned in the building of the spiritual temple, the church of Christ, Zechariah 6:15; and whereas the number of strangers that wrought for the building was far greater than that of the Israelites, it may denote the greater number of Gentiles in the Gospel church state mentioned besides these: thus gave Solomon to Hiram year by year: so long as the building lasted, and the workmen were employed; but Abarbinel thinks that he gave it to him as long as he lived, out of his great munificence and liberality.

And Solomon's builders and Hiram's {f} builders did hew them, and the stonesquarers: so they prepared timber and stones to build the house.

(f) The Hebrew word is Giblim, which some say were excellent masons.

18. and the stonesquarers] The text of A.V. is due to the Targum, which translates by ‘masons’. But the margin of A. V. suggests that the word is not a common but a proper noun and gives ‘Giblites’ as in Ezekiel 27:9. This is certainly a much more natural combination, than to class along with the men of Solomon and the men of Hiram, the stone squarers as of a different order. In Ezekiel the men of Gebal are spoken of as skilled in caulking ships, and they were not improbably able handicraftsmen in other branches. Josephus gives us no help. He speaks merely of ‘workmen whom Hiram sent.’ But the Vulgate reads ‘Giblii’ as a proper name and in many MSS. Biblii or Byblii. In the Vatican LXX. the verse is left out, but the Alexandrine gives καὶ οἱ Βίβλιοι. Now Gebal was a Phœnician city not far from the sea coast, to the north of Berytus (Beyrout). The Greeks called it Byblos, but the name is found also spelt Βίβλος (Zosim. i. 58; Ezekiel 27:9. LXX.). Thus the LXX. supports the proper name, which, to keep clear that it means the people of Gebal, we ought to write ‘the Gebalites.’ This has been adopted by R.V.Verse 18. - And Solomon's builders and Hiram's builders did hew them, and the stone squarers: [the marg. Giblites, i.e., people of Gebal, is to be preferred. For Gebal ( = mountain) see Joshua 13:5 ("the land of the Giblites and Lebanon"); Psalm 83:7 ("Gebal and they of Tyro"); and Ezekiel 27:9, where the LXX. translate the word Biblus, which was the Greek name of the city and district north of the famous river Adonis, on the extreme border of Phoenicia. It is now known as Jebeil. It has been already remarked that Tyre and Sidon, as well as Gebal, have Hebrew meanings. These are among the proofs of the practical identity of the Hebrew and Phoenician tongues. The Aramaean immigrants (Deuteronomy 26:5; Genesis 12:5) no doubt adopted the language of Canaan (Dict. Bib., art. "Phoenicians"). Keil renders, "even the Giblites." He would understand, i.e., that the Zidonian workmen were Giblites; but this is doubtful. The Giblites are selected, no doubt, for special mention because of the prominent part they took in the work. Gebal, as its ancient and extensive ruins prove, was a place of much importance, and lying as it did on the coast, and near the cedar forests, would naturally have an important share in the cutting and shipping of the timber. Indeed, it is not improbable that it was at this port that the land transport ended, and the rafts were made. A road ran anciently from Gebal to Baalbak, so that the transport was not impracticable. But as the forests were probably of great extent, there may have been two or three depots at which the timber was floated] so they prepared timber [Heb. the timber] and stones [Heb. the stones] to build the house. [The LXX. (Vat. and Alex. alike) add here, "three years." It is barely possible that these words may have dropped out of the text, but they look more like a gloss, the inference from the chronological statement of 1 Kings 6:1.]

The remark that "the Lord gave Solomon wisdom" refers not merely to the treaty which Solomon made with Hiram, through which he obtained materials and skilled workmen for the erection of the house of God (Thenius), but also to the wise use which he made of the capacities of his own subjects for this work. For this verse not only brings to a close the section relating to Solomon's negotiations with Hiram, but it also forms an introduction to the following verses, in which the intimation given by Solomon in 1 Kings 5:6, concerning the labourers who were to fell wood upon Lebanon in company with Hiram's men, is more minutely defined.
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