1 Kings 9:13
And he said, What cities are these which thou hast given me, my brother? And he called them the land of Cabul unto this day.
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(13) Cabul.—The derivation of this word is uncertain. Josephus evidently did not know it as a Hebrew word; for he expressly says, that in the Phænician language it signifies “what is unpleasing.” (Ant. viii. 100:5, sect. 3). A city Cabul is mentioned in Joshua 19:27, in the territory of Asher, evidently on the Tyrian frontier, and in the neighbourhood in question. Hiram, it is thought, takes up this name, and applies it to the whole territory, and by a play of words on it signifies his discontent with Solomon’s gift. Ewald supposes a Hebrew derivation for the word (“as nought”); others take it to be “like that which vanishes.” Either would suit the sense indicated in the text well; but unless these derivations represent something cognate in the Tyrian language, they hardly accord with the requirements of this passage, which (as Josephus says) implies a Phoenician origin for the word.

9:10-14 Solomon gave Hiram twenty cities. Hiram did not like them. If Solomon would gratify him, let it be in his own element, by becoming his partner in trade, as he did. See how the providence of God suits this earth to the various tempers of men, and the dispositions of men to the earth, and all for the good of mankind in general.Cabul is said to be a Phoenician word, and signified "displeasing" (see margin). There is some reason to believe that the cities thus despised by Hiram were restored to Solomon 2 Chronicles 8:2, and that Solomon rebuilt them and colonized them with Israelites. 11. Solomon gave Hiram twenty cities in the land of Galilee—According to Josephus, they were situated on the northwest of it, adjacent to Tyre. Though lying within the boundaries of the promised land (Ge 15:18; Jos 1:4), they had never been conquered till then, and were inhabited by Canaanite heathens (Jud 4:2-13; 2Ki 15:29). They were probably given to Hiram, whose dominions were small, as a remuneration for his important services in furnishing workmen, materials, and an immense quantity of wrought gold (1Ki 9:14) for the temple and other buildings [Michaelis]. The gold, however, as others think, may have been the amount of forfeits paid to Solomon by Hiram for not being able to answer the riddles and apothegms, with which, according to Josephus, in their private correspondence, the two sovereigns amused themselves. Hiram having refused these cities, probably on account of their inland situation making them unsuitable to his maritime and commercial people, Solomon satisfied his ally in some other way; and, taking these cities into his own hands, he first repaired their shattered walls, then filled them with a colony of Hebrews (2Ch 8:2). The land of Cabul, i.e. of dirt, as most interpret it. Not that it was a barren soil, as some imagine; for they who describe those parts commend them as fruitful; nor would Solomon have made him so unworthy a return: but because it was not pleasant, nor agreeable to his nor to his people’s humour; because, though the land was very good, yet being a thick and stiff clay, and therefore requiring great pains to manure and improve it, it was very unsuitable to the disposition of the Tyrians, who were delicate, and lazy, and luxurious, and wholly given to merchandise.

And he said,.... By letter to him:

what cities are these which thou hast given me, my brother? so he called him, being not only his neighbour, but his ally, in friendship and covenant with him; and this he said of them not by way of complaint, or contempt, as unworthy of his acceptance; for so munificent a prince as Solomon would never offer to a king to whom he was so much obliged anything mean and contemptible; but as being unsuitable to him, however valuable they might be in themselves, or of advantage to others:

and he called them the land of Cabul unto this day; or rather the words should be rendered impersonally, "they were called so"; for Hiram could not call them by this name to the times of the writer of this book; nor is there any reason to think he would give them any name at all, and much less a contemptible one, as this is thought to be, when he did not choose to accept of them. Some interpret (g) the word shut up, or unfruitful, sandy, dirty, clayey; so in the Talmud (h) it is said to be a sandy land, and called Cabul, because a man's foot was plunged in it up to his ankles, and is represented as unfruitful. Josephus (i) says, in the Phoenician tongue it signifies "not pleasing", which agrees with what Hiram says, 1 Kings 9:12. Hillerus (k) interprets it "as nothing", they being as nothing to Hiram, of no use to him, whatever they might be to others; and therefore he restored them to Solomon, 2 Chronicles 8:2, which seems to be the best sense of the word. They are the same with Decapolis, Matthew 4:25 so called from ten cities therein (l).

(g) David de Pomis, Lexic fol. 58. 2.((h) T. Bab. Sabbat, fol. 54. 1.((i) Antiqu. l. 8. c. 5. sect. 3.((k) Onomastic. Sacr. p. 435. (l) Vid. Castel Lex Heptaglot. col. 1669. & Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 5. c. 18.

And he said, What cities are these which thou hast given me, my brother? And he called them the land of Cabul unto this day.
13. What cities are these which thou hast given me?] No doubt spoken with a tone of reproach and disappointment. The language of Josephus is ‘he said to Solomon that he did not want the cities.’ They are just alluded to in Chronicles (2 Chronicles 8:2) as ‘the cities which Huram restored to Solomon.’

my brother] This form of address between persons of royal rank has been always common. Cf. 1 Kings 20:32-33; 1Ma 10:18; 1Ma 11:30; 2Ma 11:22. It need not necessarily imply friendly feeling.

And he called them] Or the Hebrew may mean ‘and one called them’ which was a common form to signify ‘they were called.’ We need not therefore of necessity impute the contemptuous name to Hiram. Josephus gives προσηγορεύθησαν

the land of Cabul] This appellation was given to indicate, what is stated in the text, that they were unsatisfactory. But it is not easy to know whence the name comes. There is a town so called in Joshua (Joshua 19:27) which was situated in the tribe of Asher. This tribe was in North Galilee but there would be no significance in the name, if it were already that of one of the twenty cities given to Hiram. The LXX. appears to have taken כבול (Cabul) to be the same as נבול (gebul) for they render the name Ὅριον, a boundary. Josephus transliterates by Χαβαλών, and adds that this word in Phœnician means ‘not pleasing,’ an interpretation, as it seems, which he evolved from the context. Some of the Hebrew commentators have connected the name with a verb which in Aramaic signifies ‘to bind,’ and have explained that the district was sandy or muddy, and that the feet were always deep sunk in the mire. A later derivation has taken the word to mean ‘worth nothing,’ as if from כ = as, and בול = בל = nothing. There are many other attempts at explanation but none that can be pronounced satisfactory.

Verse 13. - And he said, What cities are these which thou hast given me, my brother? [Cf. 1 Kings 20:32. It would seem, at first sight, as if this form of speech was then, as now, the usage of courts. But the Fellahin of Palestine, the "modern Canaanites," still address each other as "my father" or "my brother." See Conder, "Tent-work," p. 332]. And he called them the land of Cabul [The meaning of this word is quite uncertain. The LXX. reads Οριον, which shows that they must have read גבול instead of כבול; indeed, it is possible that the words have the same meaning (Gesen.) Stanley (S. and P. p. 364) thinks these cities formed the boundary between the two kingdoms, and refers to the use of ὅρια in Matthew 15:21; Luke 6:17, etc. According to Josephus, Ξαβαλὼν, is a Phoenician word, meaning displeasing; but his etymologies are to be received with caution, and Gesenius justly pronounces this a mere conjecture from the context. Thenius and Ewald regard the word as compounded of כ and בל = as nothing; Keil connects it with the root חבל, which would yield the meaning pawned or pledged, and hence concludes that, this strip of territory was merely given to Hiram as a security for the repayment of a loan (see below on ver. 14); while Bahr derives it from כבל, an unused root, akin to the preceding - vinxit, constrinxit, and would see in it a name bestowed on the region because of its confined geographical position. He does not understand the word, however, as a term of contempt. "How," he asks, "could Hiram give the district a permanent name which contained a mockery of himself rather than of the land?" But the word was obviously an expression of disparagement, if not disgust, which, falling from Hiram's lips, was caught up and repeated with a view to mark not so much his displeasure as Solomon's meanness. But it is not necessary to find a meaning for the word, for it is to be considered that a city Bearing this name existed at that time and in this neighbourhood (Joshua 19:27), the site of which, in all probability, is marked by the modern Kabul, eight miles east of Accho (Robinson, 3:87, 88; Dict. Bib. 1:237; Thomson, "Land and Book," 1:281, 511). It is possible, indeed, that it may have been one of the "twenty cities" (ver. 11) given to Hiram. And if this city, whether within or without the district of Galilee, were notorious for its poverty or meanness, or conspicuous by its bleak situation, we can at once understand why Hiram should transfer the name to the adjoining region, even if that name, in itself, had no special significance] unto this day. [See on 1 Kings 8:8.] 1 Kings 9:13The Means by which the Buildings were Erected. - In order that all which still remained to be said concerning Solomon's buildings might be grouped together, different notices are introduced here, namely, as to his relation to Hiram, the erection of several fortresses, and the tributary labour, and also as to his maritime expeditions; and these heterogeneous materials are so arranged as to indicate the resources which enabled Solomon to erect so many and such magnificent buildings. These resources were: (1) his connection with king Hiram, who furnished him with building materials (1 Kings 9:10-14); (2) the tributary labour which he raised in his kingdom (1 Kings 9:15-25); (3) the maritime expedition to Ophir, which brought him great wealth (1 Kings 9:26-28). But these notices are very condensed, and, as a comparison with the parallel account in 2 Chronicles 8 shows, are simply incomplete extracts from a more elaborate history. In the account of the tributary labour, the enumeration of the cities finished and fortified (1 Kings 9:15-19) is interpolated; and the information concerning the support which was rendered to Solomon in the erection of his buildings by Hiram (1 Kings 9:11-14), is merely supplementary to the account already given in 1 Kings 9:5. 1 Kings 9:24, 1 Kings 9:25 point still more clearly to an earlier account, since they would be otherwise unintelligible. - In 2 Chronicles 8 the arrangement is a simpler one: the buildings are first of all enumerated in 2 Chronicles 8:1-6, and the account of the tributary labour follows in 2 Chronicles 8:7-11.

1 Kings 9:10-14

The notices concerning Solomon's connection with Hiram are very imperfect; for 1 Kings 9:14 does not furnish a conclusion either in form or substance. The notice in 2 Chronicles 8; 2 Chronicles 1:1-2:18 is still shorter, but it supplies an important addition to the account before us.

1 Kings 9:10-14

1 Kings 9:10, 1 Kings 9:11 form one period. יתּן אז (then he gave) in 1 Kings 9:11 introduces the apodosis to מק ויהי (and it came to pass, etc.) in 1 Kings 9:10; and 1 Kings 9:11 contains a circumstantial clause inserted as a parenthesis. Hiram had supported Solomon according to his desire with cedar wood and cypress wood, and with gold; and Solomon gave him in return, after his buildings were completed, twenty cities in the land of Galil. But these cities did not please Hiram. When he went out to see them, he said, "What kind of cities are these (מה in a contemptuous sense) which thou hast given me, my brother?" אחו as in 1 Kings 20:32, 1 Macc. 10:18; 11:30, 2 Macc. 11:22, as a conventional expression used by princes in their intercourse with one another. "And he called the land Cabul unto this day;" i.e., it retained this name even to later times. The land of Galil is a part of the country which was afterwards known as Galilaea, namely, the northern portion of it, as is evident from the fact that in Joshua 20:7; Joshua 21:32, Kedes in the mountains of Naphtali, to the north-west of Lake Huleh, is distinguished from the kadesh in southern Palestine by the epithet בּגּליל. It is still more evident from 2 Kings 15:29 and Isaiah 9:1 and Galil embraced the northern part of the tribe of Naphtali; whilst the expression used by Isaiah, הגּוים גּליל, also shows that this district was for the most part inhabited by heathen (i.e., non-Israelites). The twenty cities in Galil, which Solomon gave to Hiram, certainly belonged therefore to the cities of the Canaanites mentioned in 2 Samuel 24:7; that is to say, they were cities occupied chiefly by a heathen population, and in all probability they were in a very bad condition. Consequently they did not please Hiram, and he gave to the district the contemptuous name of the land of Cabul. Of the various interpretations given to the word Cabul (see Ges. Thes. p. 656), the one proposed by Hiller (Onomast. p. 435), and adopted by Reland, Ges., Maurer, and others, viz., that it is a contraction of כּהבּוּל, sicut id quod evanuit tanquam nihil, has the most to support it, since this is the meaning required by the context. At the same time it is possible, and even probable, that it had originally a different signification, and is derived from כּבל equals חבל in the sense of to pawn, as Gesenius and Dietrich suppose. This is favoured by the occurrence of the name Cabul in Joshua 19:27, where it is probably derivable from כּבל, to fetter, and signifies literally a fortress or castle; but in this instance it has no connection with the land of Cabul, since it is still preserved in the village of Cabul to the south-east of Acre (see the Comm. on Josh. l.c.). The "land of Cabul" would therefore mean the pawned land; and in the mouths of the people this would be twisted into "good for nothing." In this case ויּקרא would have to be taken impersonally: "they called;" and the notice respecting this name would be simply an explanation of the way in which the people interpreted it. Hiram, however, did not retain this district, but gave it back to Solomon, who then completed the cities (2 Chronicles 8:2).

(Note: This simple method of reconciling the account before us with the apparently discrepant notice in the Chronicles, concerning which even Movers (die biblische Chronik, p. 159) observes, that the chronicler interpolated it from a second (?) source, is so natural, that it is difficult to conceive how Bertheau can object to it; since he admits that the accounts in the books of Kings and Chronicles are incomplete extracts from common and more elaborate sources.)

The only way in which we can give to 1 Kings 9:14 a meaning in harmony with the context, is by taking it as a supplementary explanation of וּבזּהב...נשּׂא...חירם in 1 Kings 9:11, and so rendering ויּשׁלח as a pluperfect, as in 1 Kings 7:13 : "Hiram had sent the king a hundred and twenty talents of gold." If we reckon the value of gold as being ten times the worth of silver, a hundred and twenty talents of gold would be 3,141, 600 thalers (about 471,240: Tr.). This is no doubt to be regarded as a loan, which Solomon obtained from Hiram to enable him to complete his buildings. Although David may have collected together the requisite amount of precious metals for the building of the temple, and Solomon had also very considerable yearly revenues, derived partly from tribute paid by subjugated nations and partly from trade, his buildings were so extensive, inasmuch as he erected a large number of cities beside the temple and his splendid palace (1 Kings 9:15-19), that his revenues might not suffice for the completion of these costly works; and therefore, since he would not apply the consecrated treasures of the temple to the erection of cities and palaces, he might find himself compelled to procure a loan from the wealthy king Hiram, which he probably intended to cover by ceding to him twenty cities on the border of the Phoenician territory. But as these cities did not please the king of Tyre and he gave them back to Solomon, the latter will no doubt have repaid the amount borrowed during the last twenty years of his reign.

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