1 Kings 9:28
And they came to Ophir, and fetched from there gold, four hundred and twenty talents, and brought it to king Solomon.
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(28) Ophir.—All that can be certainly gathered from the mention of Ophir in the Old Testament is, first; that it was situated to the east of Palestine and approached by the Red Sea (as is clear from this passage, from 1Kings 22:48, and from 2Chronicles 8:18; 2Chronicles 9:10), and next, that so famous was the gold imported from it, that the “gold of Ophir” became proverbial (Job 22:24, Job_28:16; Psalm 45:10; Isaiah 13:12; 1 Chronicles 4). All else is matter of speculation and tradition. Setting aside merely fanciful conjectures, substantial reasons have been given for fixing it geographically in Africa, Arabia, and India; and of these three positions, evidence strongly preponderates for the second or third. Tradition is in favour of India; the LXX. renders the name as Soufir, or Sofir, which is the Coptic word for “India; the Arabic versions actually render it “India;” and Josephus (Ant. viii. 6, 4) srates unhesitatingly that Ophir was in his day called “The Golden Chersonesus,” which is the Malay peninsula. On the other hand, it is urged that “Ophir,” in the ethnological list of Genesis 10:29, is placed among the sons of Joktan, clearly indicating an Arabian position; and that the mention of Ophir (here and in 1Kings 10:11), stands in close connection with the visit of the Queen of Sheba and the gold brought from Arabia. But neither of these considerations is conclusive. Looking to the products described as brought from Ophir, the “gold and precious stones” would suit either. but India better than Arabia (although, indeed, so far as gold is concerned, Western Africa would have better claim than either); while the “almug,” or “algum” wood is certainly the “sandal wood” found almost exclusively on the Malabar coast, and the very word “algum” appears to be a corruption of its Sanscrit name valguka. If the other imports mentioned in 1Kings 10:22 were also from Ophir, this latter argument would be greatly strengthened. (See Note there.) But putting this aside as doubtful, the preponderance of evidence still appears to be in favour of India. The Tyrians, it may be added, are known to have had trading settlements on the Persian Gulf, and to have rivalled in the trade of the East the Egyptians, to whom it would more naturally have belonged. Various places have been named conjecturally as identical with Ophir: as in Arabia, Zaphar or Saphar, Doffir, and Zafari; in Africa, Sofala; and in India, Abhira, at the mouth of the Indus, and a Soupara mentioned by ancient Greek geographers, not far from Goa.

1 Kings 9:28. They came to Ophir — A place famous for gold, which was found there in great plenty, and peculiarly fine. It is highly probable that this place was in India, but in what part of it is not easy to determine. Bochart thinks it was Taprobana, now called Ceylon, and shows that the account which the ancients give of the former, answers to that which the moderns give of the latter. It is certain that this island affords gold, ivory, and precious stones. The authors of the Universal History after confuting at large those opinions which seemed to them less probable, observe as follows: “Ophir appears most likely to have been in some of those remote, rich countries of India beyond the Ganges, and perhaps as far as China or Japan; which last still abounds with the finest gold, and several other commodities in which Solomon’s fleet dealt, as silver, precious stones, ebony, and other valuable sorts of wood, to say nothing of spices, peacocks, parrots, apes, and other such creatures; and by its distance best answers to the length of the voyage.” Gold, four hundred and twenty talents — It is said (2 Chronicles 8:18) that they brought four hundred and fifty; but we may well suppose that thirty talents might be partly spent in the charges of the voyage to and fro, and partly allowed to Hiram and his men; so that only four hundred and twenty came clear into the king’s treasury. This, however, was a prodigious sum, being calculated to be above three millions two hundred thousand pounds sterling. How they obtained this vast quantity of gold, whether by exchanging various merchandises for it, or by finding out mines, or procuring it from the natives, does not appear. 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 Ophir, see the marginal reference note. Among the various opinions three predominate; all moderns, except a very few, being in favor of Arabia, India, or Eastern Africa. Arabia's claims are supported by the greatest number. 28. Ophir—a general name, like the East or West Indies with us, for all the southern regions lying on the African, Arabian, or Indian seas, in so far as at that time known [Heeren].

gold, four hundred and twenty talents—(See on [306]2Ch 8:18). At 125 pounds Troy, or 1500 ounces to the talent, and about £4 to the ounce, this would make £2,604,000.

Ophir; a place famous for the plenty and fineness of the gold there; of which see Genesis 2:11,12 Job 22:24 28:16 Psalm 45:9 Isaiah 13:12. It is manifest and agreed that it was a part of the East Indies, which though very remote from us, yet was far nearer to the Red Sea, from whence they might easily sail to it in these ancient times, because they needed not to go far from the coast to come to it, because they might (according to the manner of these first ages) sail all along near the coast, though the voyage was thereby more tedious, which was the reason why three years were spent in it. And here, and here only, were to bc had all the commodities which Solomon fetched from Ophir, 1 Kings 10:22.

Four hundred and twenty talents: in all there came to the king four hundred and fifty talents, whereof it seems thirty talents were allowed by Solomon to Hiram and his men for the voyage, and so there were only four hundred and twenty that came clearly into the king’s treasury. And they came to Ophir,.... About which place there are various opinions; some take it to be the little island of Zocatora, on the eastern coast of Africa, at a small distance from the straits of Babelmandel; others the island of Ceylon; others Sofala in Africa; some (k) Peru in America; Vatablus the island of Hispaniola in the West Indies, discovered by Columbus, and who thought (l) himself that he had found the land of Ophir, because of the quantity of gold in it; others the southern part of Arabia; but the most reasonable opinion is, says my author (m), that it is a rich country in Malacca, which is a peninsula in the true Red sea (that part of the ocean which divides Asia from Africa), known by the name of the "golden Chersonese", and which agrees with Josephus (n); and at twelve leagues from Malacca there is a very high mountain, which by the natives is called Ophir, and is reported to be, or to have been, very rich in gold, though at present only some tin mines are worked there; and Kircher (o) says the word Ophir is a Coptic or Egyptian word, by which the ancient Egyptians used to call that India which contains the kingdoms of Malabar, Zeilan, the golden Chersonese, and, the islands belonging to it, Sumatra, Molucca, Java, and other neighbouring golden islands. So Varrerius (p) thinks that all that coast in which are contained Pegu, Malaca, and Somatra, is Ophir; which places, besides gold, abound with elephants, apes, and parrots. In the island of Sumatra gold is now found, especially in Achin, in great plenty; in which is a mountain, called the "golden mountain", near the mines (q) Reland (r) takes Ophir to be the country round about a city called Oupara or Suphara, in the East Indies, where now stands Goa, the most famous mart in all India at this day for many of those things Solomon traded thither for. Though after all perhaps there was no such place originally as Ophir in India; only the gold brought from thence was like that of Ophir in Arabia, and therefore they called the place so from whence it was had; see Job 22:24.

and fetched from thence gold four hundred and twenty talents, and brought it to King Solomon; which according to Brerewood (s) amounted to 1,890,000 pounds of our money; and according to another writer (t) 5,132,400 ducats of gold. Abarbinel says a talent of gold was equal to 12,300 Venetian ducats; in 2 Chronicles 8:18 it is said, that four hundred and fifty talents of gold were brought to Solomon; perhaps thirty might be expended in the voyage, or paid to Hiram's servants for their wages, as some Jewish writers observe; or in the bulk or ore it might be four hundred and fifty talents, but when purified only four hundred and twenty, as Grotius remarks; either way removes the difficulty; though some think different voyages are respected here and there; of the gold of Ophir frequent mention is made in Scripture.

(k) Erasm. Schmid. de America, orat. ad Cale. Pindar. p. 261. So some Jewish writers say it is the new world, Ganz. Tzemach David, par. 1. fol. 10. 1.((l) P. Martyr Decad. 1. l. 1.((m) Harris's Voyages, ut supra. (vol. 1. B. 1. ch. 2. sect. 3. p. 377.) (n) Ut supra. (Antiqu. l. 8. c. 6. sect. 4.) (o) China Illustrat. cum Monument. p. 58. & Prodrom. Copt. c. 4. p. 119. (p) Comment. de Ophyra. (q) Dampier's Voyages, vol. 2. ch. 7. (r) Dissert. de Ophir, sect. 6, 7. (s) De Ponder. & Pret. c. 5. (t) Scheuchzer. Physic. Sacr. vol. 3. p. 572.

And they came to Ophir, and fetched from thence gold, {k} four hundred and twenty talents, and brought it to king Solomon.

(k) In 2Ch 8:18, 30 more are mentioned who seem to have been employed for their wages.

28. they came to Ophir] There is not sufficient evidence to decide where Ophir was. The most probable conjectures have been Africa, India and Arabia. But on account of the productions named in connexion with the place in chap. 1 Kings 10:11 Africa has been almost universally given up. And in the decision between India and Arabia, the latter seems the more likely, partly because it is nearer to reach from Ezion-geber, which is a consideration not without weight in questions connected with early navigation, and partly because the first mention of Ophir (Genesis 10:29) makes it refer to the descendants of Joktan, whose home was in Arabia. There is no necessity to conclude that the commodities brought from Ophir, gold, almug-trees and precious stones, were products of the land. Almug-wood has been supposed to be the same with sandal-wood, but the evidence on this point seems very inconclusive, and if it were proved, it might well be that the wood, produced in India, was brought to some mart on the Arabian coast for sale. The ports of Yemen and the Persian Gulf were great entrepots of commerce from the earliest times. With precious stones also this could easily be done, and with gold too. But the gold of Sheba (i.e. Arabia) is noted as famous in Psalm 72:15; Isaiah 60:6. There appears therefore to be more in favour of some place on the coast of Arabia than for any other suggested site of Ophir. Josephus however says it was in India (Ant. viii. 6. 4), and that a more modern name is Χρυσῆ γῆ.

four hundred and twenty talents] The sum seems enormous, £2,250,000. What could a country like Palestine furnish in exchange? Perhaps the sum represents the total of many expeditions. The parallel passage in 2 Chron. (1 Kings 8:18) says ‘four hundred and fifty talents,’ Josephus ‘about four hundred.’ The LXX. (Vat.) gives ‘one hundred and twenty talents.’ The expedition appears to have been all for Solomon’s benefit, as we hear nothing of any share of the adventure given to the Tyrian king.Verse 28. - And they came to Ophir [It is perhaps impossible to identify this place with any degree of precision. The opinions of scholars may, however, be practically reduced to two, The first would place Ophir in India; the second in southern Arabia. In favour of India is

(1) the three years' voyage (but see on 1 Kings 10:22);

(2) most of the other treasures brought back by the fleet, exclusive of gold, are Indian products. But against it is urged the important fact that no gold is now found there, south of Cashmere, whilst south Arabia was famed for its abundant gold (Psalm 72:15; Ezekiel 27:22). On the other hand, it is alleged that in ancient times India was rich in gold (Ewald, 3. p. 264), and that there are no traces of gold mines in Arabia. The question is discussed at considerable length and with great learning by Mr. Twisleton (Dict. Bib. art. "Ophir"). He shows that it is reasonably certain

(1) that the Ophir of Genesis 10:29 is the name of some city, region, or tribe in Arabia, and

(2) that the Ophir of Genesis is the Ophir of the Book of Kings. And Gesenius, Bahr, Keil, al. agree with him in locating Ophir in the latter country. Ewald, however, sees in Ophir "the most distant coasts of India," and it is probable that the Hebrews used the word somewhat loosely, as they did the corresponding word Tarshish, and as we do the words East and West Indies. They were not geographers, and Ophir may have been merely an emporium where the products of different countries were collected, or a nomen generale for "all the countries lying on the African, Arabian, or Indian seas, so far as at that time known" (Heeren). See on 1 Kings 10:5], and fetched from thence gold, four hundred and twenty talents [The chronicler says 450. The discrepancy is easily accounted for, 20 being expressed by כ; 50 by נ. Wordsworth suggests that "perhaps thirty were assigned to Hiram for his help"] and brought it to king Solomon.

Solomon did not make Israelites into tributary slaves; but they were warriors, ministers, and civil and military officers. עבדים are the king's servants; שׂרים, the heads of the military and civil service; שׁלשׁים, royal adjutants (see at 2 Samuel 23:8); וּפרשׁיו רכבּו שׂרי, captains over the royal war-chariots and cavalry. - For 1 Kings 9:23 compare 1 Kings 5:16.
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