But of the children of Israel did Solomon make no slaves: but they were men of war, and his servants, and his princes, and his captains, and rulers of his chariots, and his horsemen.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)No bondmen.—This exemption, however it may have continued in theory, must virtually have been set aside in the later days of Solomon. (See 1Kings 12:4.) They are here described as occupying the position of a dominant race—as warriors, servants about the person of the king, princes, and officers in the array—like the free vassals under a feudal monarchy. But as the absolute power of the king increased, and with it, perhaps, the wealth and arrogance of his favourites and greater officers, the condition of the Israelites at large might be removed from serfship more in name than in reality. Even the subject races might be played of against them, as against the Macedonians in the later years of Alexander the Great, when his royalty passed into something like a true Oriental despotism. Certainly, in later times we find, both from the history and the prophetical books, that there was such a thing as serf ship of the poor to the princes. (Jeremiah 34:8-11; Nehemiah 5:11.)1 Kings 9:22-23. Of the children of Israel did Solomon make no bond-men — He spared them, and did not employ them in any servile labours about his public works, but put them into nobler offices, as it here follows. They were men of war — Which was accounted an honourable employment. And his servants — Officers in his court. And his princes — Governors of provinces. And his captains, &c. — Commanders of his guards. Five hundred and fifty — In 2 Chronicles 8:10, they are said to be but two hundred and fifty. But perhaps the meaning there is, that there were two hundred and fifty set over those that wrought in the temple; the rest probably being employed in overseeing his public works in other places. And it must be observed also, that there were far greater numbers employed when the temple work was carried on with great speed.1 Kings 5:13-14, it would seem that a modified service of forced labor for one-third of each year was not regarded as reducing those who were subject to it to the condition of bondmen.
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.Leviticus 25:39.
but they were men of war; which he kept in pay, a standing army, maintained even in time of peace, in case of necessity, should an enemy attempt to invade or surprise them:
and his servants; in his family and court, who had offices and employments there:
and his princes; ministers of state, counsellors, governors of cities, &c.
and his captains; officers in his army:
and rulers of his chariots and his horsemen; war chariots and troopers; see 1 Kings 9:19.But of the children of Israel did Solomon make no bondmen: but they were men of war, and his servants, and his princes, and his captains, and rulers of his chariots, and his horsemen.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)22. But of the children of Israel did Solomon make no bondman] This must be read in the light of chap. 1 Kings 5:13. There we are told of Solomon’s levy upon all Israel. But the 30,000 men there spoken of had duty forced on them only for a month at a time. Ten thousand served for one month, and were two months at home before their turn for service came round again. Moreover, when the work for which they were enrolled came to an end they were free. It may also be that in the course of 20 years Solomon changed his system, especially if he saw that his people were beginning to find his yoke heavy. But the Canaanite levy was continuous ‘unto this day.’
his servants] i.e. His officers. The position of the word between ‘men of war’ and ‘princes’ shews that the service here spoken of was a service of dignity. They were such ‘servants’ as are spoken of in 2 Samuel 8:7 “And David took the shields of gold that were on the servants of Hadadezer.’Verse 22. - But of the children of Israel did Solomon make no bondmen [see however 1 Kings 5:13, 18. This service, though compulsory, was not servile. Bondage was forbidden Leviticus 25:39. The levy were treated as hired servants and had wages]; but they were men of war, and his servants [cf. 1 Kings 1:9. Not only "officials of the war department" (Bahr) but officers of every kind], and his princes [these were the heads both of the military and civil services], and his captains [Heb. שָׁלִשָׁיו. LXX. τρωτάται. Exodus 14:7; Exodus 15:4; 2 Samuel 23:8; 2 Kings 9:25; 2 Kings 10:25, etc. These third men were really "a noble rank of soldiers who fought from chariots" (Gesen.), each of which would seem to have held three men, one of whom drove, while two fought: thence used of the bodyguard of kings. That they formed a corps, and were not literally "captains," is clear from 1 Samuel 23:8, etc.] and rulers of his chariots, and his horsemen.
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