1 Kings 9:18
And Baalath, and Tadmor in the wilderness, in the land,
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(18) Baalath is said by Josephus to have been in the same neighbourhood; and this agrees with the mention of it in Joshua 19:44, as lying in the region assigned to Dan, on the edge of the Philistine country. The three, Gezer, Beth-horon, and Baalath, evidently form a group of fortified places commanding the passes from the sea-coast.

Tadmor in the wilderness, in the land.—The Hebrew text here has Tamar (with, however, Tadmor as a marginal reading). From this fact, and from the peculiar expression “in the land,” which certainly seems to designate the land of Israel, and from the juxtaposition of the name in this passage with the names of places situated in the southern part of Palestine, it has been thought that the place meant is the Tamar of Ezekiel 47:19; Ezekiel 48:28), or, perhaps, Hazazon-Tamar, the old name of En-gedi; and that the marginal reading, and the reading of the old versions, have arisen from a mistaken identification of this place with the Tadmor of 2Chronicles 9:4. But, on the whole, these considerations are not sufficient to counterbalance the invariable reference of this passage, by all the ancient versions and by the narrative of Josephus, to the celebrated Tadmor, the name of which is a local variety of the Hebrew name Tamar (or “the palm-tree,”) preserved in the later name of Palmyra. If this be meant, it is indeed difficult to suppose that there is not some omission after the words “in the land.”

Tadmor, or Palmyra, is described by Josephus as “in the desert above Syria, a day’s journey from the Euphrates, and six long days’ journey from Babylon the Great.” Its foundation is described in 2Chronicles 9:4, as connected with a subjugation of Hamathzobah, and it may have had a military purpose. But situated on a well-watered oasis, in the midst of the desert, south-west of Tiphsah or Thapsacus on the Euphrates, also occupied by Solomon (see 1Kings 4:24), and about 120 miles from Damascus, it would be eminently fitted for trade both with Damascus and with Babylon and the north. Its importance is indicated by its long existence as a great city, and by its splendour (still traceable in its ruins), in Greek and Roman times, down to, at least, the age of Diocletian.

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.Tadmor - The Hebrew text here has, as written, Tamor (or Tamar), and as read, Tadmor. That the latter place, or Palmyra, was meant appears, first, from the distinct statement of Chronicles 2 Chronicles 8:4 that Solomon built Tadmor, and the improbability that the fact would be omitted in Kings; secondly, from the strong likelihood that Solomon, with his wide views of commerce, would seize and fortify the Palmy-rene Oasis: and thirdly, from the unanimity of the old versions in rendering Tamar here by Tadmor. The probability seems to be that Tamar was the original name of the place, being the Hebrew word for "a palm," from where it is generally agreed that the town derived its name. Tadmor was a corrupt or dialectic variety of the word, which was adopted at the city itself, and prevailed over the original appellation. No reference is found to Tadmor in the Assyrian inscriptions, or in any Classical writer before Pliny. 18. Baalath—Baal-bek.

Tadmor—Palmyra, between Damascus and the Euphrates, was rebuilt and fortified as a security against invasion from northern Asia. In accomplishing these and various other works which were carried on throughout the kingdom, especially in the north, where Rezon of Damascus, his enemy, might prove dangerous, he employed vast numbers of the Canaanites as galley slaves (2Ch 2:18), treating them as prisoners of war, who were compelled to do the drudgery and hard labor, while the Israelites were only engaged in honorable employment.

Baalath, in the tribe of Dan, Joshua 19:40,44.

Tadmor; supposed to be called Tamar, Ezekiel 47:19.

In the land: this clause may belong either, first, To all the places above mentioned, which are here declared to be in the land of Canaan. But so that clause may seem superfluous; for none would easily think that he would build much out of his own land. Or rather, secondly, To Tadmor, which otherwise being in that wilderness which was the border of the land, might have been presumed to have been out of the land.

And Baalath,.... A city in the tribe of Dan, Joshua 19:44.

and Tadmor in the wilderness, in the land; or "Tamar", as in the Cetib, or Scriptural reading; for we go according to the marginal reading, and so Thamato in Ptolemy (p); and is thought by some to be the same with Tamar in Ezekiel 47:19, which Jerom there says is Palmyra. Tamar signifies a palm tree, from whence this city had its name Palmyra, the situation of which place agrees with this; hence we read both in Ptolemy (q) and Pliny (r) of the Palmyrene deserts: the ruins of it are to be seen to this day, and of it this account is given; that it is enclosed on three sides with long ridges of mountains, which open towards the east gradually, to the distance of about an hour's riding; but to the south stretches a vast plain, beyond the reach of the eye; the air is good, but the soil exceeding barren; nothing green to be seen therein, save some few palm trees in the gardens, and here and there about the town; and from these trees, I conceive, says my author, it obtained its name both in Hebrew and in Latin: it appears to have been of a large extent, by the space now taken up by the ruins; but there are no footsteps of any wall remaining, nor is it possible to judge of the ancient figure of the place. The present inhabitants, as they are poor, miserable, dirty people, so they have shut themselves up, to the number of about thirty or forty families, in little huts made of dirt, within the walls of a spacious court, which enclosed a most magnificent Heathen temple (s). Benjamin of Tudela says (t), it is situated in a wilderness, far from any habitable place, and is four days' journey from Baalath before mentioned; which place he takes to be the same with Baalbek, in the valley of Lebanon, built by Solomon for Pharaoh's daughter; which, according to the Arabic geographer (u), was situated at the foot of Mount Lebanon; and Tadmor seems to be in the land of Hamathzobah, 2 Chronicles 8:3.

(p) Geograph. l. 5. c. 16. (q) Ib. c. 15. (r) Nat. Hist. l. 5. c. 26. & 6. 28. (s) Halifax apud Philosphic. Transact. vol. 3. p. 504. (t) Itinerar. p. 57, 58. (u) Geograph. Nub. par. 5. clim. 3. p. 117.

And Baalath, and Tadmor in the wilderness, in the land,
18. and Baalath] This place is mentioned (Joshua 19:44) among the places which fell to the tribe of Dan, and must therefore have been on the border of the country of the Philistines, and for that reason we may presume that it was included among the places which Solomon strengthened.

and Tadmor in the wilderness, in the land] Here the Hebrew text reads Tamar, and Tadmor is only given on the margin (Keri). The R.V. adopts the reading of the text, probably because of the words ‘in the land.’ All the places mentioned here lie in Palestine, and we know from Ezekiel (Ezekiel 47:19, Ezekiel 48:28) that there was a city Tamar on the south border of the Holy Land, which was towards the wilderness. It seems therefore most likely, as this place is spoken of as ‘in the land,’ that Tamar should be here preferred, and the position assigned to it in Ezekiel is that of a place which it would be most important to fortify. The marginal reading Tadmor is no doubt due to the mention of Tadmor among the cities which Solomon built in 2 Chronicles 8:4. But there Tadmor is mentioned in connexion with Hamath-Zobah and the conquest of the northern part of the land. This reading may be correct in Chronicles, for with Solomon’s ambition to extend his dominion and foster commerce, Tadmor in the wilderness (afterwards so famous as Palmyra) would be a place much to be coveted as a step on the road to Babylon. Tadmor grew famous, and Tamar was well-nigh forgotten, hence we can see how the former name (not mentioned anywhere but in Chronicles) should be substituted on the margin in the verse before us. It may well be that Solomon occupied both places, but there is no warrant for importing the name Tadmor into Kings, especially as the place here mentioned is spoken of as being ‘in the land.’

Josephus is very minute in his account of this city, which he (as was to be expected) says was Tadmor (Ant. viii. 6, i), ‘Having invaded the desert that lies above Syria, and acquired it, he founded there a very great city, two days’ journey from upper Syria, and one from the Euphrates, and its distance from the great city of Babylon was six days. And the reason why he built this city so distant from the inhabited parts of Syria was that nowhere in the land lower down was there water, but that there alone were found fountains and wells. So having built the city and surrounded it with very strong walls, he named it Thadamora, and it is still so called by the Syrians, but the Greeks name it Palmyra.’

Verse 18. - And Baalath [probably the place mentioned in Joshua 19:44, and therefore a town of Daniel By some it has been identified, but on wholly insufficient grounds - the mention of Tadmor immediately afterwards being the chief - with Baalbek. This is one of the names which prove how ancient and widespread was the worship of Baal (Gesen., Thesaurus, 225; Dict. Bib., 1:147,148) ] and Tadmor in the wilderness, in the land. [Whether this is

(1) the famous Palmyra, or

(2) Tamar, an obscure town of south Judah, is a question which has been much disputed. It should be stated in the first place that the Cethib has תמר, but the Keri, after 2 Chronicles 8:4, reads תדמר, as do all the versions; and secondly that a Tarnar is mentioned Ezekiel 47:19 and Ezekiel 48:28 a place which may well be identical with "Hazazon Tamar, which is Engedi" (2 Chronicles 20:2; cf. Genesis 14:7. In favour of (1) are the following considerations:

(1) the statement of the chronicler that Solomon did build Palmyra (for of the identity of "Tadmor" with Palmyra there can be no reasonable doubt; see Dict. Bib. 3:1428).

(2) The probability that Solomon, with his wide views of commerce, would seize upon and fortify the one oasis in the great Syrian desert in order to establish an entrepot there (see on ver. 19).

(3) The words "in the wilderness," which, of course, are eminently true of Palmyra. Against it, however, may be urged

(1) that Tamar was much more likely to be changed into Tadmor than Tadmor into Tamar.

(2) That this place is distinctly described as "in the land," which, strictly, Palmyra was not. But here it is to be observed that the chronicler omits these words, and that the Syriac, Arabic, and Vulgate render, "in the land of the wilderness." Keil says our text is manifestly corrupt, and certainly the expression is a singular one. Some would, therefore, alter בארץ into באדם, or into בחמת (after 2 Chronicles 8:4). Both of the emendations, however, while undoubtedly plausible, are purely conjectural. Wordsworth, who thinks Palmyra is meant, says it is described as "in the land" to indicate that God had fulfilled his promise to extend the land of Solomon far eastward into the wilderness (Psalm 72:9). And a Jewish historian, especially in the time of his country s decadence, might well recount how this great city had once been comprised within the boundaries of Israel. In favour of (2) are these facts:

(1) That it is the reading of the text. It is said, however, that the ancient name of Tadmor was Tamar, and the place clearly owed its name to the Palm trees. But the name is always Tadmor in the Palmyrene inscriptions.

(2) That this place was "in the wilderness," i.e., of Judah.

(3) That it was "in the land," and

(4) that it was in close proximity to the places just mentioned. The evidence is thus so evenly balanced that it is impossible to decide positively between the two. 1 Kings 9:18Solomon also built, i.e., fortified, Baalath and Tadmor in the desert. According to Joshua 19:44, Baalath was a city of Dan, and therefore, as Josephus (Ant. viii. 6, 1) justly observes, was not far from Gezer; and consequently is not to be identified with either Baalgad or Baalbek in Coele-syria (Iken, ich. Rosenm.; cf. Robinson, Bibl. Res. p. 519). תמר (Chethb) is either to be read תּמר, or according to Ewald (Gesch. iii. p. 344) תּמּר, palm, a palm-city. The Keri requires תּדמר (Tadmor, after 2 Chronicles 8:4), a pronunciation which may possibly have simply arisen from Aramaean expansion, but which is still the name for the city current among the Arabs even in the present day (Arabic tadmur, locus palmarum ferax). The Greeks and Romans called it Palmyra. It was situated in what is certainly now a very desolate oasis of the Syrian desert, on the caravan road between Damascus and the Euphrates, - according to modern accounts, not more than seventeen hours' journey from that river; and there are still magnificent ruins which attest the former glory of this wealthy and, under queen Zenobia, very powerful city (cf. Ritter, Erdk. xvii. 2, p. 1486ff., and E. Osiander in Herzog's Cycl.). The correctness of this explanation of the name is placed beyond all doubt by the words "in the wilderness;" and consequently even Movers has given up his former opinion, viz., that it was the city of Thamar in southern Judah (Ezekiel 47:19; Ezekiel 48:28), which Thenius has since adopted, and has decided in favour of Palmyra, without being led astray by the attempt of Hitzig to explain the name from the Sanscrit (vid., Deutsche morgld. Ztschr. viii. p. 222ff.). The expression בּארץ appears superfluous, as all the cities named before were situated in the land or kingdom of Solomon, and Tadmor is sufficiently defined by בּמּדבּר (in the desert). The text is evidently faulty, and either the name of the land, namely Hamath (according to 2 Chronicles 8:4), has dropped out, or בּארץ is to be taken in connection with what follows (according to the Cod. Al. of the lxx), and the cop. ו before כּל־ערי את must be erased and inserted before בּארץ ("and in the land of all the magazine-cities").
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