1 Kings 9:26
And king Solomon made a navy of ships in Eziongeber, which is beside Eloth, on the shore of the Red sea, in the land of Edom.
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(26) Ezion-geber.—This place is first noticed in Numbers 33:35 and Deuteronomy 2:8 as a station in the wanderings of the Israelites, reached not long before their entrance into Canaan. It lies at the head of the Gulf of Akabah, the nearest point of the Red Sea, on the edge of the mountain country of Edom. Its very name (“the giant’s backbone”) indicates the nature of the country around it, which (it has been noted) could hardly have itself supplied timber for ship-building. But from 2Chronicles 8:18 it appears that the ships, or the materials from which they were built, were sent from Tyre.

1 Kings 9:26-27. King Solomon made a navy of ships — Not now, in the order in which it is placed in the history, but in the beginning of his reign; as appears from this consideration, that the almug-trees, used in the work of the Lord’s house, were brought in this navy from Ophir, (1 Kings 10:11-12; 2 Chronicles 9:10-11,) which was a three years voyage, 1 Kings 9:22. And Hiram sent in the navy his servants — The navy was Solomon’s, who had servants of his own on board the ships, to manage the traffic; but as they had no skill in navigation, Hiram sent as many sailors as were necessary to man the ships, the Tyrians being in general bred at sea, and famous for their knowledge in maritime affairs.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.On Ezion-geber and Eloth, see the notes to marginal references. As the entire tract about Elath (Akaba) is destitute of trees, it is conjectured that the wood of which Solomon built his fleet was cut in Lebanon, floated to Gaza by sea, and thence conveyed across to Ezion-geber, at the head of the E anitic Gulf, by land carriage. (Compare 2 Chronicles 2:16.) 26. Ezion-geber, which is beside Eloth—These were neighboring ports at the head of the eastern or Elanitic branch of the Red Sea. Tyrian ship carpenters and sailors were sent there for Solomon's vessels (see on [305]2Ch 8:17, 18).

Ezion-geber—that is, "the giant's backbone"; so called from a reef of rocks at the entrance of the harbor.

Eloth—Elim or Elath; that is, "the trees"; a grove of terebinths still exists at the head of the gulf.

Solomon made a navy of ships; not now in the order in which it is placed in the history, but in the beginning of his reign; as appears, because the almug trees which he used in this work were brought in this navy from Ophir, 1 Kings 10:11,12 2 Chronicles 9:10,11, which was a three years’ voyage & here, 1 Kings 10:22; for Ophir and Tharshish were either the same place, or one near to another.

Eloth, or Elath, as it is called, 2 Kings 14:22. See Deu 2:8. It is thought to be that famous port on the Red Sea which Ptolemy and Strabo call Elana.

In the land of Edom; which David brought under his dominion, and Solomon kept it. And King Solomon made a navy of ships in Eziongeber,.... Which was one of the stations of the Israelites, near the wilderness of Sin, or Paran, Numbers 33:35, it signifies the backbone of a man; and it is said (w) the ridge of rocks before this port were in that form, covered by the sea at high water, and sticking up with various points in a line when it was low. Josephus says (x) in his time it was called Berenice, which is placed by Mela (y) between the Heroopolitic bay, and the promontory Strobilus, or Pharan. It is thought probable (z) to be the same with that which is called by the Arabs Meenah-el-Dsahab, the port of gold, called Dizahab, Deuteronomy 1:1, which stands upon the shore of the Arabic gulf, about two or three days' distance from Mount Sinai; though by others (a) thought to be the same the Arabs call Calzem, where was a great quantity of wood fit for building ships. It is further described,

which is beside Elath, on the shore of the Red sea, in the land of Edom; and when Edom was subdued by David, this port fell into his hands, and so was in the possession of Solomon; and there being plenty of timber in the parts adjacent, and this being a port in the Red sea, Solomon chose it as proper place to build ships in. Elath, near to which was, is the same the Elanitic bay had its name from; or which See Gill on Deuteronomy 2:8. Trajan, the Roman emperor, formed a navy in the Red sea (b), that by it he might ravage and waste the borders of India; and here it seems Solomon's navy went; see 1 Kings 9:28.

(w) Harris's Voyages, vol. 1. B. 1. ch. 2. sect. 3. p. 377. (x) Antiqu. l. 8. c. 6. sect. 4. (y) De Situ Orbis, l. 3. c. 8. (z) Clayton's Chronology, &c. p. 407. (a) Vossius in Melam ut supra, (Harris's Voyages, vol. 1. B. 1. ch. 2. sect. 3.) p. 386. (b) Eutrop. Rom. Hist. l. 8. Ruti Fest. Breviar.

And king Solomon made a navy of ships in Eziongeber, which is beside Eloth, on the shore of the Red sea, in the land of Edom.
26–28. Solomon’s navy (2 Chronicles 8:17-18)

26. in Ezion-geber] The name signifies ‘the Giant’s chine,’ and it was probably a promontory. Ezion-geber is mentioned first in the narrative of the journey of the Israelites from Egypt (Numbers 33:35). It was the last halting-place before they entered the wilderness of Zin. It lay at the top of the gulf of Akabah. Here was also Eloth (or Elath) of which we read (2 Kings 14:22) that, though it is here said to be in the land of Edom, it was conquered for Judah at a later time, and still later (2 Kings 16:6) came into the possession of Rezin king of Syria.

In reference to this navy, we are told (2 Chronicles 8:18) that Hiram sent Solomon the ships. Putting that passage side by side with this, it can only mean that the wood for ship-building was brought from Tyre along the coast as far as was necessary, and then at the nearest point carried over land to the Gulf of Akabah, where the ships were built. The only other interpretation of the statement in 2 Chronicles would be that Hiram sent ships from Tyre round Africa and then by the Indian Ocean into the Red Sea, which cannot for a moment be supposed.Verse 26. - And king Solomon made a navy of ships [Heb. ךאנִי, a collective noun, classis. The chronicler paraphrases by ךאנִיות, plural. This fact finds a record here, probably because it was to the voyages of this fleet that the king was indebted for the gold which enabled him to erect and adorn the buildings recently described. (As to form, etc., of the ships, see Dict. Bib. 2. p. 1014). But no historian could pass over without notice an event of such profound importance to Israel as the construction of its first ships, which, next to the temple, was the great event of Solomon's reign] in Ezion-geber [lit., the backbone of a man (or giant). Cf. Numbers 33:35; Deuteronomy 2:8; 2 Kings 4:22; 2 Chronicles 8:17. The name is probably due, like Shechem (see note on 1 Kings 12:25) to a real or fancied resemblance in the physical geography of the country to that part of the human body. Stanley (S. and P. p. 84) speaks of "the jagged ranges on each side of the gulf." Akaba, the modern name, also means back. 2 Chronicles l.c. says Solomon went to Ezion-geber, which it is highly probable he would do], which is beside [Heb. אֵת = aloud (Gesen., Lex. s.v.)] Eloth [lit., trees akin to Elim, where were palm trees (Exodus 15:27; Exodus 16:1). The name is interesting as suggesting that Solomon may have found some of the timber for the construction of his fleet here. A grove of palm trees "still exists at the head of the gulf of Akaba" (Stanley S. and P. p. 20). Palms, it is true, are not adapted to shipbuilding, but other timber may have grown there in a past age. But see note on ver. 27. For Elath, see Porter, p. 40; Deuteronomy 2:8; 2 Samuel 8:14 (which shows how it passed into the hand of Israel); 2 Kings 8:20; 2 Kings 14:22; 2 Kings 16:6. It gave a name to the Elanitic Gulf, now the Gulf of Akaba], on the shore [Heb. lip] of the Red sea [Heb. Sea of Rushes. LXX. ἡ ἐρυθρὰ θάλασσα. The redness is due to subaqueous vegetation. "Fragments of red coral are forever being thrown up from the stores below, and it is these coral-line forests which form the true 'weeds' of this fantastic sea" (Stanley, S. and P. p. 83). There is also apparently a bottom of red sandstone (ib. p. 6, note). It is divided by the Sinaitic peninsula into two arms or gulfs, the western being the Gulf of Suez, and the eastern the Gulf of Akabah. The former is 130 miles, the latter 90 miles long], in the land of Edom. [The subjugation of Edom is mentioned 2 Samuel 8:14.] The "magazine-cities" (המּסכּנות ערי) were fortified cities, in which the produce of the land was collected, partly for provisioning the army, and partly for the support of the rural population in times of distress (2 Chronicles 17:12; 2 Chronicles 32:28), similar to those which Pharaoh had built in the land of Goshen (Exodus 1:11). If they were situated on the great commercial roads, they may also have served for storing provisions for the necessities of travellers and their beasts of burden. The cities for the war-chariots (הרכב) and cavalry (הפּרשׁים) were probably in part identical with the magazine-cities, and situated in different parts of the kingdom. There were no doubt some of these upon Lebanon, as we may on the one hand infer from the general importance of the northern frontier to the security of the whole kingdom, and still more from the fact that Solomon had an opponent at Damascus in the person of Rezin (1 Kings 11:24), who could easily stir up rebellion in the northern provinces, which had only just been incorporated by David into the kingdom; and as we may on the other hand clearly gather from 2 Chronicles 16:4, according to which there were magazine-cities in the land of Naphtali. Finally, the words "and what Solomon had a desire to build" embrace all the rest of his buildings, which it would have occupied too much space to enumerate singly. That the words חשׁק את are not to be so pressed as to be made to denote simply "the buildings undertaking for pure pleasure," like the works mentioned in Ecclesiastes 2:4., as Thenius and Bertheau suppose, is evident from a comparison of 1 Kings 9:1, where all Solomon's buildings except the temple and palace, and therefore the fortifications as well as others, are included in the expression "all his desire." - Fuller particulars concerning the tributary workmen are given in 1 Kings 9:20. The Canaanitish population that was left in the land were made use of for this purpose, - namely, the descendants of the Canaanites who had not been entirely exterminated by the Israelites. "Their children," etc., supplies a more precise definition of the expression "all the people," etc., in 1 Kings 9:20.
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