1 Kings 9:27
And Hiram sent in the navy his servants, shipmen that had knowledge of the sea, with the servants of Solomon.
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(27) Shipmen that had knowledge of the sea.—The Tyrians were known far and wide as the great sailors both of the Mediterranean and the seas beyond it, till they were rivalled and superseded by their own colonists in Carthage and by the Greeks. How greatly their seamanship, their commerce, and their civilisation impressed the imagination of Israel, is shown in the magnificent chapters of Ezekiel on the fate of Tyre (Ezekiel 26-28). The Israelites, on the contrary, had but little care for the sea, and little knowledge of seamanship. The coast line of Palestine is but scantily furnished with harbours; and even at the height of their power they were content to use the maritime skill of the Tyrians, without encroaching upon their commerce or attempting to seize their famous ports. This was natural; for their call to be a peculiar and separate people was absolutely incompatible with maritime enterprise and commerce. Even in this attempt at maritime expedition under Tyrian guidance, Solomon’s action was, as in other points, exceptional, departing from Israelite tradition; and we hear of no similar enterprise, except in the age of Ahab and Jehoshaphat, when the intermarriage of the royal houses of Israel and Phœnicia renewed the close connection with Tyre (1Kings 22:48; 2Chronicles 20:35). We observe, accordingly, that the sea is mostly regarded in the Old Testament in its terrible power of wave and storm, restrained from destroying only by the Almighty hand of God; and even the one psalm (Psalm 107:23-31), which describes the seafarer’s experience, dwells with awe on “God’s wonders in the deep.” In the description of the glory of “the new heaven and earth” of the hereafter, it is declared with emphasis that “there was no more sea” (Revelation 21:1).

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.Shipmen - See 1 Kings 5:6 note. With respect to the acquaintance of the Phoenicians with this particular sea, it may be observed that they are not unlikely to have had trading settlements there, as they had in the Persian Gulf, even at this early period. The commerce with Ophir was probably an established trade, previously either in their hands or in those of the Egyptians, when Solomon determined to have a share in it. The Egyptians had navigated the other arm of the Red Sea, and perhaps its lower parts, from a much more ancient period. 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.

The Tyrians were famous for

knowledge of the sea. He sent also ships to join with Solomon’s, 2 Chronicles 8:18; not from Tyre, the famous city of Phoenicia, which was in the midland sea, from whence he could not sail to the Red Sea without fetching a vast compass; but from an island in the Red Sea, called Tyre, because it was a colony of the Tyrians, as Strabo notes. And Hiram sent in his navy his servants,.... And, according to 2 Chronicles 8:18, ships also but how he could send them from Tyre, which lay in the Mediterranean sea, to the above ports in the Red sea, without going a great way round, is not easy to conceive. Perhaps, as Gussetins conjectures (c), Hiram had a port in the Red sea for building and sending out ships, for the sake of his eastern navigation, and from thence he sent them to Solomon's ports in the same sea; but if what R. Japhet (d) observes is true, that the Red sea is mixed with the sea of Joppa by means of the river Rhinocurura, as is remarked by a learned man (e) and who approves of the observation, and thinks it does not deserve the censure Dr. Lightfoot (f) passes on it. If this, I say, can be supported, the difficulty is removed: so Abarbinel asserts (g), that a branch of the Nile flows into the Red sea: and another, passing through Alexandria, runs into the Mediterranean sea. This is the first navy of ships we read of; in the construction of which, as well as in the art of navigation, the Tyrians no doubt were greatly assisting to Solomon's servants, and which appears by what follows; and they are said (h) to be the first that made use of ships; and the invention of ships of burden, or merchant ships, such as these were, is by Pliny (i) ascribed to Hippus the Tyrian: and the Tyrians were famous for merchandise, which they could not carry on with foreign nations without shipping; see Isaiah 23:8, the servants Hiram sent in Solomon's navy were

shipmen that had knowledge of the sea; of sea coasts and ports, of the manner of guiding and managing ships at sea, and of the whole art of navigation, so far as then known, for which the Tyrians were famous; see Ezekiel 27:3,

with the servants of Solomon; to instruct and assist them in naval affairs, they not having been used thereunto.

(c) Ebr. Comment p. 628. (d) In Aben Ezra in Jon. ii. 5. (e) Texelii Phoenix, l. 3. c. 6. p. 243, 244. (f) Miscellanies, c. 18. vol. 1. p. 1002, 1003. (g) Apud Manasseh, Spes Israelis, sect. 2. p. 20. (h) "Prima ratem ventis credere docta Tyros", Catullus. (i) Nat. Hist. l. 7. c. 56.

And Hiram sent in the navy his servants, shipmen that had knowledge of the sea, with the servants of Solomon.
27. that had knowledge of the sea] For which knowledge in ancient times the Phœnicians were the most famous people.Verse 27. - And Hiram sent in the navy his servants, shipmen that had knowledge of the sea with the servants of Solomon. [The chronicler states (2 Chronicles 8:18) that he sent ships as well as servants, and it has been thought that ships were transported, in parts or entire, by land across the Isthmus of Suez, and there are certainly instances on record of the land transport of fleets. (Keil reminds us that Alexander the Great, according to Arrian, had snips transported - in pieces - from Phoenicia to the Euphrates, and that, according to Thucydides (Bell. Pelop. 4:8) the Peloponnesians conveyed 60 ships from Corcyra across the Leucadian Isthmus, etc.) But this, especially when the state of engineering science, etc., among the Hebrews is taken into account, is hardly to be thought cf. It is quite possible, however, that timber for shipbuilding was floated on the Mediterranean down to the river of Egypt, or some such place, and then transported either to Suez or to Akaba. Probably all that the chronicler means is that Hiram provided the materials and had the ships built. The Israelites, having hitherto had no fleet, and little or no experience of the sea, were unable to construct ships for themselves. And the Tyrians may have seen in the construction of a fleet for eastern voyages, an opening for the extension of their own maritime trade. Possibly in the first voyages Tyriaus and Jews were copartners.] 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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