1 Kings 5:6
Now therefore command you that they hew me cedar trees out of Lebanon; and my servants shall be with your servants: and to you will I give hire for your servants according to all that you shall appoint: for you know that there is not among us any that can skill to hew timber like to the Sidonians.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(6) Cedar trees out of Lebanon.—The central range of Lebanon is bare; but in the lower ranges there is still—probably in old times there was to a far greater extent—a rich abundance of timber, specially precious to the comparatively treeless country of Palestine. The forest of Lebanon was proverbial for its beauty and fragrance (Song of Solomon 4:11; Hosea 14:6-7), watered by the streams from the snowy heights (Jeremiah 18:14), when all Palestine was parched up. The cedars which now remain—a mere group, at a height of about six thousand feet—are but a remnant of the once magnificent forest which “the Lord had planted” (Psalm 104:16). Solomon’s request—couched almost in the language of command—is simply for cedar wood, or rather, for skilled labour in felling and working it, for which the Tyrians were proverbially famed in all ancient records. For this labour he offers to pay; while he seems to take for granted a right for his own servants to come and bring away the timber itself. Hiram’s answer (1Kings 5:8) mentions “timber of fir” also, which agrees exactly with the fuller account of Solomon’s request given in 2Chronicles 2:8. The pine still grows abundantly in the sandstone regions of Lebanon; but it is almost certain that “the fir” here named is the cypress.

1 Kings 5:6. Now therefore command thou, that they — That is, thy servants, who are skilful in such work; hew me cedar-trees — Which, for their soundness, and strength, and fragrancy, and durable-ness, were most proper for his design. Of these David had procured some, but not a sufficient number. Out of Lebanon — Which was in Solomon’s jurisdiction; and therefore he doth not desire that Hiram would give him the cedars, because they were his own already, but only that his servants might hew them for him, which the ingenious Tyrians well understood: My servants shall be with thy servants — Either to be employed as they shall direct, or to receive the cedars from their hands, and transmit them to me. And unto thee will I give hire for thy servants — Pay them for their labour and art. Sidonians — Or Tyrians; for these places and people, being near each other, are promiscuously used one for another. This assistance, which these Gentiles gave to the building of Solomon’s temple, was a type of the calling of the Gentiles, and that they should be instrumental in building and constituting Christ’s spiritual temple.5:1-9 Here is Solomon's design to build a temple. There is no adversary, no Satan, so the word is; no instrument of Satan to oppose it, or to divert from it. Satan does all he can, to hinder temple work. When there is no evil abroad, then let us be ready and active in that which is good, and get forward. Let God's promises quicken our endeavours. And all outward skill and advantages should be made serviceable to the interests of Christ's kingdom. It Tyre supplies Israel with craftsmen, Israel will supply Tyre with corn, Eze 27:17. Thus, by the wise disposal of Providence, one country has need of another, and is benefitted by another, that there may be dependence on one another, to the glory of God.Solomon's message to Hiram and Hiram's answer 1 Kings 5:8-9 are given much more fully in 2 Chronicles 2:3-16.

Cedar-trees - The Hebrew word here and elsewhere translated "cedar," appears to be used, not only of the cedar proper, but of other timber-trees also, as the fir, and, perhaps, the juniper. Still there is no doubt that the real Lebanon cedar is most commonly intended by it. This tree, which still grows on parts of the mountain, but which threatens to die out, was probably much more widely spread anciently. The Tyrians made the masts of their ships from the wood Ezekiel 27:5, and would naturally be as careful to cultivate it as we have ourselves been to grow oak. The Assyrian kings, when they made their expeditions into Palestine, appear frequently to have cut it in Lebanon and Hermon, and to have transported it to their own capitals.

Skill to hew timber like unto the Sidonians - The mechanical genius and nautical skill of the Phoenicians generally, and of the Sidonians in particular, is noticed by Homer and Herodotus. In the reign of Hiram, Sidon, though perhaps she might have a king of her own, acknowledged the supremacy of Tyre.

6. command thou that they hew me cedar trees out of Lebanon—Nowhere else could Solomon have procured materials for the woodwork of his contemplated building. The forests of Lebanon, adjoining the seas in Solomon's time, belonged to the Phœnicians, and the timber being a lucrative branch of their exports, immense numbers of workmen were constantly employed in the felling of trees as well as the transportation and preparation of the wood. Hiram stipulated to furnish Solomon with as large a quantity of cedars and cypresses as he might require and it was a great additional obligation that he engaged to render the important service of having it brought down, probably by the Dog river, to the seaside, and conveyed along the coast in floats; that is, the logs being bound together, to the harbor of Joppa (2Ch 2:16), whence they could easily find the means of transport to Jerusalem.

my servants shall be with thy servants—The operations were to be on so extensive a scale that the Tyrians alone would be insufficient. A division of labor was necessary, and while the former would do the work that required skilful artisans, Solomon engaged to supply the laborers.

Command thou that they, i.e. thy servants, as appears both from the foregoing words, command, &c., and from the following opposition of my servants And this assistance which these Gentiles gave to the building of Solomon’s temple was a type of the calling of the Gentiles, and that they should be very instrumental in the building and constituting of Christ’s spiritual temple, to wit, his church.

Hew me cedar trees; which, for their soundness, and strength, and fragrancy, and durableness, were most excellent and proper for his design. Of these David had procured some, but not a sufficient number.

Lebanon was either wholly or in part in Solomon’s jurisdiction; and therefore he doth not desire that Hiram would give him the cedars, because they were his own already; but only that his servants might hew them for him; which required art and skill in the time and manner of doing of it; all which the ingenious Tyrians well understood.

My servants shall be with thy servants; either to be employed therein as they shall direct; or to receive the cedars, being cut down and hewed, from their hands, and to transmit them to me; although Hiram in his return eased him of that trouble.

Unto thee will I give hire for thy servants, i.e. pay them for their labour and art.

The Sidonians, or Tyrians; for these places and people being near, and subject to Hiram, are promiscuously used one for another. Now therefore command thou that they hew me cedars out of Lebanon,.... That is, order his servants to cut them down there for him. Some think that Lebanon belonged to the land of Israel, and therefore Solomon did not ask for the cedars upon it, but for his servants to hew them for him; but as it lay upon the borders of Israel, part of it might belong to them, and another part to Hiram, and on which the best cedars might grow, and so he furnished Solomon both with trees, and men to cut them, as it seems from 1 Kings 5:10; see also 2 Chronicles 2:3;

and my servants shall be with thy servants: to assist them, and to carry the timber from place to place, and to learn how to hew timber:

and unto thee will I give hire for thy servants, according to all that thou shalt appoint; pay them for their work and service, as Hiram himself should judge fit and reasonable for them; no mention being made of paying for the timber, seems to countenance the notion that the trees were Solomon's; but when the quantity of provisions sent yearly to Hiram for his household, besides what the servants had, is observed, it seems to have been sent as an equivalent to the timber received by Solomon, see 1 Kings 5:10;

for thou knowest that there is not among us any that can skill to hew timber like unto the Sidonians; it is not said Tyrians, the Sidonians, perhaps, being more skilful in this than they were; and the Sidonians are said by Homer (y) to be very ingenious: and they were both under the jurisdiction and at the command of Hiram; so Eupolemus (z) makes the inscription of Solomon's letter to him to run thus, to Suron (that is, Hiram) king of Tyre, Sidon, and Phoenicia. The Jews being chiefly employed in husbandry, and in feeding cattle, were very unskilful in mechanic arts, and in this of cutting down trees, and hewing timber; for there is skill to be exercised therein; the proper time of cutting down trees should be observed, the part in which they are to be cut, and the position in which they are to be put when cut down, as Vitruvius (a) directs, with other things, and Pliny (b) observes the same.

(y) Iliad. 23. ver. 743. (z) Ut supra. (Apud Euseb. Praepar. Evangel. l. 9. c. 32, 34.) (a) De Architectura, l. 2. c. 9. (b) Nat. Hist. l. 16. c. 39.

Now therefore command thou that they hew me cedar trees out of Lebanon; and my servants shall be with thy servants: and unto thee will I give {b} hire for thy servants according to all that thou shalt appoint: for thou knowest that there is not among us any that can skill to hew timber like unto the Sidonians.

(b) This was his equity, that he would not receive a benefit without some recompence.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
6. Now therefore command thou] Solomon’s request is much expanded in 2 Chronicles 2:3-10, where he asks for a cunning workman in gold and other metals, and in purple, crimson and blue, and skilled in carving or engraving. He desires also much other wood beside cedar. Of the Sidonian purple we have frequent notices in Classical authors, it is ‘the grain of Sarra worn by Kings and heroes old,’ as Milton sings of it. Par. Lost XI. 242. Cf. Verg. Æn. iv. 137 ‘Sidoniam picto chlamydem circumdata limbo.’ Homer tells us of the great skill of Sidonian workmen: the embroidered robes of Andromache and the bowl given by Achilles as a prize at the games in honour of Patroclus were of Sidonian workmanship. (Hom. Il. vi. 290; xxiii. 743, 744.)

cedar-trees out of Lebanon] We see from Hiram’s answer in 1 Kings 5:8 where ‘timber of fir’ is added to the ‘timber of cedar’ that we have here only an abstract of Solomon’s request, and the fuller form in Chronicles has probably been drawn from an original authority.

hire for thy servants] The hire takes the form of a supply of corn and oil of which the kingdom of Solomon was very productive.

can skill] This somewhat antiquated word is found also 2 Chronicles 2:7-8; 2 Chronicles 34:12. It means ‘to know the best way of doing anything.’ Cf. Holland Pliny XVIII. 10. ‘Without beans they cannot skill how to dress anything for their daily food.’Verse 6. - Now therefore command thou that they hew me cedar trees out of Lebanon [Heb. the Lebanon, i.e., the White (so. mountain). "It is the Merit Blanc of Palestine" (Porter); but whether it is so called because of its summits of snow or because of the colour of its limestone is uncertain. Practically, the cedars are now found in one place only, though Ehrenberg is said to have found them in considerable numbers to the north of the road between Baalbek and Tripoli. "At the head of Wady Kadisha there is a vast recess in the central ridge of Lebanon, some eight miles in diameter. Above it rise the loftiest summits in Syria, streaked with perpetual snow... In the very centre of this recess, on a little irregular knoll, stands the clump of cedars" (Ibid., Handbook, 2 p. 584), over 6,000 feet above the level of the sea. It would seem as if that part of Lebanon where the cedars grew belonged to Hiram's dominion. "The northern frontier of Canaan did not reach as far as Bjerrsh" (Keil), where the cedar grove is now. The idea of some older writers that the cedars belonged to Solomon, and that he only asked Hiram for artificers ("that they hew me cedar trees," etc.) is negatived by ver. 10. It is true that "all Lebanon" was given to Israel (Joshua 13:5), but they did not take it. They did not drive out the Zidonians (ver. 6; Judges 1:31) or possess" the land of the Giblites" (ver. 5; Judges 3:3). It should be stated here, however, that the cedar of Scripture probably included other varieties than that which now, alone bears the name (see on ver. 8)], and my servants shall be with Shy servants [i.e., sharing and lightening the work]: and unto thee will I give hire for thy servants [Solomon engaged to pay and did pay both Hiram and his subjects for the services of the latter, and he paid both in kind. See below, on ver. 11] according to all that thou shalt appoint [This would seem to have been 20,000 measures of wheat and 20 measures of pure oil annually, ver. 11]: for thou knowest that there is not among us any that can skill [Heb. knoweth, same word as before] to hew timber like unto the Zidonlans [Propter vicina nemora. Grotius, Sidou (Heb. צִידון), means "fishing." See note on ver. 18. By profane, as well as sacred writers, the Phoenicians are often described by the name Zidonians, no doubt for the reason mentioned in the note on ver. 1. See Homer, Iliad 6:290; 23. 743; Odys. 4:84, 618; 17:4.24. Cf. Virg. AEn. 1. 677, 678; 4:545, etc. Genesis 10:15; Judges 1:31; Judges 3:3; 1 Kings 11:1, 33, etc. "The mechanical skill of the Phoenicians generally, and of the Zidonians in particular, is noticed by many ancient writers," Rawlinson, who cites instances in his note. But what deserves especial notice here is the fact that the Zidonians constructed their houses of wood, and were celebrated from the earliest times as skilful builders. The fleets which the Phoenicians constructed for purposes of commerce would ensure them a supply of clever workmen. Wordsworth aptly remarks on the part the heathen thus took in rearing a temple for the God of Jacob. Cf. Isaiah 60:10, 13.] The widespread fame of his wisdom brought many strangers to Jerusalem, and all the more because of its rarity at that time, especially among princes. The coming of the queen of Sheba to Jerusalem (1 Kings 10) furnishes a historical proof of this.

(Note: Greatly as the fame of Solomon's wisdom is extolled in these verses, it was far outdone in subsequent times. Even Josephus has considerably adorned the biblical accounts in his Antiqq. viii. 2, 5. He makes Solomon the author not only of 1005 βιβλία περὶ ᾠδῶν καὶ μελῶν, and 300 βίβλους παραβολῶν καὶ εἰκόνων, but also of magical books with marvellous contents. Compare the extracts from Eupolemus in Eusebii praep. Ev. ix. 31ff., the remnants of Solomon's apocryphal writings in Fabricii Cod. apocr. V. T. i. pp. 914ff. and 1014f., the collection of the Talmudical Sagas in Othonis Lex. rabb. philol. pp. 668f., and G. Weil, bibl. Legenden der Mussulmnner, pp. 225-279. According to the Koran (Sure xxvii. 1 Kings 4:17.), Solomon understood the languages not only of men and demons, but also of birds and ants. The Turkish literature contains a "Book of Solomon," Suleimanname, consisting of seventy volumes, from which v. Hammer (Rosenl, i. p. 147ff.) has given extracts.)

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