1 Kings 5:8
And Hiram sent to Solomon, saying, I have considered the things which thou sentest to me for: and I will do all thy desire concerning timber of cedar, and concerning timber of fir.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
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.

8. Hiram sent to Solomon, saying, I have considered the things … and I will do—The contract was drawn out formally in a written document (2Ch 2:11), which, according to Josephus, was preserved both in the Jewish and Tyrian records. Hiram sent a letter, 2 Chronicles 2:11.

Concerning timber of fir; which formerly was, and still is, very useful in most buildings. Others render the Hebrew word, pitch trees, or ash trees, or pine trees. To others it was a particular sort of cedars, and therefore comes under the general name of cedars, in Solomon’s message before related.

And Hiram sent to Solomon,.... A letter to him, to the following purpose:

saying, I have considered the things which thou sentest to me for; whether he could, and whether it was fitting he should grant his request; which was acting like a wise and prudent prince:

and I will do all thy desire concerning timber of cedar, and concerning timber of fir; or of cypress, as in Josephus's copy of this letter, and which grew on Lebanon (c); these were odorous, sound, and durable timber, especially the cedar, and therefore chosen by Solomon for building.

(c) Diodor. Sic. l. 19. p. 700.

And Hiram sent to Solomon, saying, I have considered the things which thou sentest to me for: and I will do all thy desire concerning timber of cedar, and concerning timber of fir.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
8. and Hiram sent to Solomon] The Chronicler says he answered in writing.

I have considered the things which thou sentest to me for] More literally (see R.V.): ‘I have heard the message which thou sentest to me.’ We need not with this literal rendering suppose Solomon’s to have been a verbal request.

There is also no need to insert the conjunction before the next clause (as in A.V.), Render, as in R.V., ‘I will do.’

concerning timber of fir] Josephus says ‘cypress’ and from the uses to which the wood is put, that seems the more probable rendering. Beside being employed in the Temple building, the tree בְּרוֹשׁ (b’rósh) is used in shipbuilding (Ezekiel 27:5), for spear shafts (Nahum 2:4), and for musical instruments (2 Samuel 6:5). It was a tall tree on which storks built their nests.

The LXX. has πεύκινος = pine wood, the Vulgate ligna abiegna, to which, no doubt, the ‘firwood’ of A.V. is due.

Verse 8. - And Hiram sent to Solomon [in writing, 2 Chronicles 2:11. It is instructive to remember in connexion with this fact that, according to the universal belief of antiquity, the use of letters, i.e., the art of writing, was communicated to the Greeks by the Phoenicians. Gesenius, indeed, holds that the invention of letters is also due to them. See the interesting remarks of Mr. Twisleton, Dict. Bib. 2. pp. 866-868], saying, I have considered the things which thou sentest unto me for [Heb. heard the things (i.e., message) which thou sentest unto me]: and I will do all thy desire concerning [Heb. in, i.e., as to] timber [or trees] of cedar [Heb. cedars] and timber of fir [Heb. trees of cypresses. This is, perhaps, the proper place to inquire what. trees are intended by the words אֶרֶז, and בְּרושׁ, here respectively translated" cedar" and "fir." As to the first, it is impossible to restrict the word to the one species (Pinus cedrus or Cedrus Libani) which is now known as the cedar of Lebanon, or, indeed, to any single plant. That the Cedrus Libani, one of the most magnificent of trees, is meant in such passages as Ezekiel 31, Psalm 92:12, etc., admits of no manner of doubt. It is equally clear, however, that in other passages the term "cedar" must refer to some other tree. In Numbers 19:6, and Leviticus 14:6, e.g., the juniper would seem to be meant. "The cedar could not have been procured in the desert without great difficulty, but the juniper (Juniperus oxycedrus) is most plentiful there." (The "cedar" of our pencils, it may be remarked, is a kind of juniper - Juniperus Bermudiana.) In Ezekiel 27:5, "they have taken cedars of Lebanon to make masts for thee," it is probable that the Pinus Halepensis, not, as was formerly thought, the Scotch fir (Pinus sylvestris), is intended. The Cedrus Libani appears to be indifferently adapted to any such purpose, for which, however, the Pinus Halepensis is eminently fitted. But in the text, as throughout ch. 5-8, the reference, it can hardly be doubted, is to the Cedrus Libani. It is true the wood of this species is neither beautiful nor remarkably durable. Dr. Lindley calls it the "worthless, though magnificent cedar," but the former adjective, however true it may be of English-grown cedar, cannot justly be applied to the tree of the Lebanon mountain. The writer has some wood in his possession, brought by him from the Lebanon, and though it has neither fragrance nor veining, it is unmistakably a hard and resinous wood. And it should be remembered that it was only employed by Solomon in the interior of the temple, and was there, for the most part, overlaid with gold, and that the climate of Palestine is much less destructive than our own. There seems to be no sufficient reason, therefore, for rejecting the traditional and till recently universal belief that the Cedrus Libani was the timber chosen for the temple use. Mr. Houghton, in Smith's Dict. Bib., vol. 3. App. A. p. 40, who speaks of it "as being κατ ἐξοχὴν, the firmest and grandest of the conifers," says at the same time that "it has no particular quality to recommend it for building purposes; it was probably therefore not very extensively used in the construction of the temple." But no other tree can be suggested which better suits the conditions of the sacred narrative. The deodara, which has found favour with some writers, it is now positively stated, does not grow near the Lebanon. It may be added that, under the name of Eres, the yew was probably included. The timber used in the palaces of Nineveh, which was long believed to be cedar, is now proved to be yew (Dict. Bib., art. "Cedar"). However it is certain that אֶרֶז is a nomen generale which includes, at any rate, the pine, the cedar, and the juniper, in confirmation of which it may be mentioned that at the present day, "the name arz is applied by the Arabs to all three" (Royle, in Kitto's Cyclop., art. "Eres"). The Grove of Cedars now numbers about 450 trees, great and small. Of these about a dozen are of prodigious size and considerable antiquity, possibly carrying us back (as the natives think) to the time of Solomon. Their precise age, however, can only be a matter of conjecture. The identification of the "fir" is even more precarious than that of the cedar. Celsius would see in this the true cedar of Lebanon. Others identify it with the juniper (Juniperus excelsa) or with the Pinus Halepensis, but most writers (among whom are Keil and Bahr) believe the evergreen cypress (Cupressus sempervirens) to be intended. Very probably the name Berosh comprehended two or three different species, as the cypress, the juniper, and the savine. The first named grows even near the summits of the mountain. Bahr says it is inferior to cedar (but see above). According to Winer, it is well fitted for building purposes, as" it is not eaten by worms, and is almost imperishable and very light." It is certainly of a harder and closer grain, and more durable than the Cedrus Libani. It shows the brevity of our account that Solomon has not mentioned his desire for "fir" as well as" cedar." This is disclosed in Hiram's reply, and in the parallel passage of the chronicler. It is also to be noticed that in the text the request for materials is more prominently brought to view, while in Chronicles the petition is for workmen. 1 Kings 5:8Hiram then sent to Solomon, and promised in writing (בּכתב, 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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