1 Kings 9:17
And Solomon built Gezer, and Bethhoron the nether,
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(17) Beth-horon the nether.—The name “Beth-horon” (“the house of caves,”) was given to two small towns or villages (still called Beit-ûr), near Gezer, commanding the steep and rugged pass from the maritime plain, celebrated for three great victories of Israel—the great victory of Joshua (Joshua , 10), the victory of Judas Maccabæus (1 Maccabees 3:13-24), and the last victory of the Jews over the Roman army of Cestius Gallus, before the fall of Jerusalem (Josephus, Wars of the Jews, ii. 19). The lower Beth-horon stands On a low eminence on the edge of the plain.

1 Kings 9:17-19. And Beth-horon the nether — The lower Beth-horon, which was in the tribe of Benjamin, Joshua 18:13. Baalath — A city in the tribe of Dan, Joshua 19:44. And Tadmor in the wilderness — The name of this city signifies wonderful, or admirable, and it was so named, probably, from the singularity of the thing, in finding here springs and wells of water, and other conveniences to subsist a city, among such horrid and parched sands, with which it was on all sides surrounded. It is probable that Solomon built this city among the deserts to hinder the communication between the Syrians and the inhabitants of Mesopotamia, that they might not join their forces in confederacy together against the Israelites, as they had done in the time of David. This city appears to have been the same which was afterward called Palmyra by the Greeks, the ruins of which still remain. Some English gentlemen of credit and fortune visited it about the year 1750, who have published such a description of the exceeding magnificence and beauty of its ruins, at this day, as is astonishing. We refer our readers to that publication, not only that they may receive great pleasure, but great improvement; since it is not possible to conceive higher ideas of Solomon’s magnificence than these ruins present, nor more humiliating ideas of the vanity and weakness of all human splendour. See Messrs. Dawkin’s and Wood’s Ruins of Palmyra. In the land — Of Hamath — Zoba, a part of Syria, as is said 2 Chronicles 8:3-4, which country Solomon had conquered. And all the cities of store that Solomon had — Where he laid up corn against a time of need; or arms and ammunition in case of war. And cities for his chariots and — his horsemen — Which he had in great numbers.9:15-28 Here is a further account of Solomon's greatness. He began at the right end, for he built God's house first, and finished that before he began his own; then God blessed him, and he prospered in all his other buildings. Let piety begin, and profit follow; leave pleasure to the last. Whatever pains we take for the glory of God, and to profit others, we are likely to have the advantage. Canaan, the holy land, the glory of all lands, had no gold in it; which shows that the best produce is that which is for the present support of life, our own and others; such things did Canaan produce. Solomon got much by his merchandise, and yet has directed us to a better trade, within reach of the poorest. Wisdom is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold, Pr 3:14.Beth-horon the nether - See the marginal reference note. 17. Beth-horon the nether—situated on the way from Joppa to Jerusalem and Gibeon; it required, from so public a road, to be strongly garrisoned. In Benjamin, Joshua 18:13,14; and Beth-horon the upper, which is added 2 Chronicles 8:5, a city in the tribe of Ephraim, Joshua 16:5, possibly bordering upon Benjamin, and nigh unto the lower

Beth-horon; which alone may be here mentioned, either because it was the more famous place, or because it needed more reparations. And Solomon built Gezer,.... Rebuilt it, it having been burnt, at least great part of it, by Pharaoh when he took it:

and Bethhoron the nether; and the upper also, 2 Chronicles 8:5, which belonged to the tribe of Ephraim, and were on the borders of it, between that and Benjamin, Joshua 16:3.

And Solomon built Gezer, and Bethhoron the nether,
17. and Beth-horon the nether] This was one of two towns named respectively ‘upper’ and ‘nether’ Beth-horon which lay between Gibeon and Azekah, the one at the top of the ascent, the other in the valley westward. The latter, which is the place here mentioned, was important as forming a barrier against foes from the direction of Philistia and Egypt, and for this reason no doubt it was fortified by Solomon. In earlier history the place is famous for Joshua’s victory (Joshua 10.) over the five kings of the Amorites, and later for the overthrow of the Syrian forces by Judas Maccabaeus (1 Maccabees 3.).Verse 17. - And Solomon built Gezer [In the case of Gezer it was an actual rebuilding. But as applied to Beth-boron, etc., "built" probably means enlarged, strengthened] and Beth-horon the nether [mentioned in connexion with Gezer, Joshua 16:3 (cf. 10:10). It is deserving of mention that the two cities of Beth-horon still survive in the modern villages of Beitur el-tahta and el-fok," names which are "clearly corruptions of Beth-horon "the Nether" and "the Upper" (Stanley, S. and P., p. 208): One lies at the foot of the ravine, on an eminence, the other at the summit of the pass. Like Megiddo and Gezer, this town, too, lay on a high road, viz., that between Jerusalem and the sea coast. The selection of Beth-horon for fortification by Solomon is also justified by history - three decisive battles having been fought here (see Joshua 10:10; 1 Macc. 3:13-24, and Jos., Bell Jud. 2.19.8. The object of the king in fortifying this place was to protect the uplands of Judah, Benjamin, and Ephraim against invasion from the Philistine plain. It is perhaps not unnoteworthy that, according to our author, it was Beth-horon the nether that Solomon "built," as this would naturally have suffered more than its loftier neighbour from war. According to 2 Chronicles 8:5, however, Solomon built Beth-horon the upper also. The 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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