So king Solomon was king over all Israel.1 Kings 4:1. Over all Israel — Reigned over all the tribes, and with the full consent of them all. This is spoken with respect to his successors, who were kings only over a part, and that the smallest part of Israel. Or in reference to the times of division and rebellion under David, when part only went after David, and part after Ish-bosheth, Absalom, Sheba, or Adonijah.
And these were the princes which he had; Azariah the son of Zadok the priest,1 Kings 4:2. These were the princes which he had — The principal officers employed under him. Azariah the son — Or the grandson; of Zadok —
1 Chronicles 6:8-9. The priest — The second priest, or the priest that attended upon Solomon’s person, in holy offices and administrations. Or, as the Hebrew word here rendered priest may be, and is often, translated prince, in Scripture, this Azariah might be the highest officer of the state, next to the king; or the chief minister of state, by whom the great affairs of the kingdom were managed and prepared for the king’s consideration.
Elihoreph and Ahiah, the sons of Shisha, scribes; Jehoshaphat the son of Ahilud, the recorder.1 Kings 4:3-4. Scribes — That is, secretaries of state. He chose two, whereas David had but one, either because he observed some inconveniences in trusting all the important matters of his government in one band; or because he had now more employment than David had, this being a time of great peace and prosperity, and his empire being enlarged, and his correspondences with foreign princes more frequent. Zadok and Abiathar were the priests — That is, the high-priests, namely, successively, first Abiathar, and then Zadok.
And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was over the host: and Zadok and Abiathar were the priests:
And Azariah the son of Nathan was over the officers: and Zabud the son of Nathan was principal officer, and the king's friend:1 Kings 4:5-6. The son of Nathan was over the officers — Over those twelve officers named 1 Kings 4:7, &c., who were all to give up their accounts to him. The Hebrew word, נצביםnitsabim, here, and 1 Kings 4:7, rendered officers, signifies any governors, or commanders of the higher sort. See 2 Chronicles 8:10. Zabud the son of Nathan — The prophet, who had been so highly instrumental in establishing Solomon on the throne; was principal officer — Possibly president of the king’s council. The Hebrew word is כהן, cohen, which, 1 Kings 4:2, and generally, is rendered priest, although, as we have observed there, it may also be translated prince. And the king’s friend — His confidant, with whom he used to communicate his most secret counsels. Ahishar was over the household — Steward of the king’s house. Over the tribute — The personal tribute, or levy of men, as appears by comparing this with 1 Kings 5:13-14; it being very fit that there should be some one person to whom the chief conduct or inspection of that great business should be committed.
And Ahishar was over the household: and Adoniram the son of Abda was over the tribute.
And Solomon had twelve officers over all Israel, which provided victuals for the king and his household: each man his month in a year made provision.
And these are their names: The son of Hur, in mount Ephraim:1 Kings 4:8-10. The son of Hur — This person and others of them are denominated from their fathers, because they were known and famous in their generation. In mount Ephraim — And the territory belonging to it, which must be understood also of the rest of the places mentioned in the following verses. Elon-beth-hanan — Or, Elon, the house, or dwelling- place of Hanan. For Hanan may be a man’s name, and this place may be thus distinguished from other Elons. Or, as the word Elon signifies a plain, the meaning may be, the plain of Beth-hanan. Sochoh — There were two places of this name, but near each other, Joshua 15:35-38. Hepher — ln Judah, 1 Chronicles 4:6.
The son of Dekar, in Makaz, and in Shaalbim, and Bethshemesh, and Elonbethhanan:
The son of Hesed, in Aruboth; to him pertained Sochoh, and all the land of Hepher:
The son of Abinadab, in all the region of Dor; which had Taphath the daughter of Solomon to wife:1 Kings 4:11-13. The region of Dor — In Manasseh, where also were Taanach, Megiddo, and Beth-shean. Who had the daughter of Solomon to wife — Solomon had no daughters marriageable when these officers were appointed; but in process of time, this man and Ahimaaz, mentioned 1 Kings 4:15, had behaved themselves so well in their offices, that Solomon did them the honour to give them two of his daughters to wife. In Ramoth-Gilead — That is, Ramoth in the land of Gilead, Deuteronomy 4:43; so called, to distinguish it from Ramoth in Issachar, 1 Chronicles 6:73. The towns of Jair — In Manasseh beyond Jordan, Numbers 32:41. With walls and brazen bars — This is added by way of distinction from those towns of Jair mentioned before. For, being beyond Jordan, they were liable to the attempts of their enemies.
Baana the son of Ahilud; to him pertained Taanach and Megiddo, and all Bethshean, which is by Zartanah beneath Jezreel, from Bethshean to Abelmeholah, even unto the place that is beyond Jokneam:
The son of Geber, in Ramothgilead; to him pertained the towns of Jair the son of Manasseh, which are in Gilead; to him also pertained the region of Argob, which is in Bashan, threescore great cities with walls and brasen bars:
Ahinadab the son of Iddo had Mahanaim:1 Kings 4:14-18. The son of Iddo had Mahanaim — The city and territory of Mahanaim, Genesis 32:2; Joshua 13:26. If this district seem of less extent than the rest, it must be observed, these portions were distributed into larger or lesser parts, according to their barrenness or fertility; and this seems to have been a very fruitful place, 2 Samuel 17:27. Shimei, the son of Elah — This is added to distinguish him from the Shimei who cursed and insulted David.
Ahimaaz was in Naphtali; he also took Basmath the daughter of Solomon to wife:
Baanah the son of Hushai was in Asher and in Aloth:
Jehoshaphat the son of Paruah, in Issachar:
Shimei the son of Elah, in Benjamin:
Geber the son of Uri was in the country of Gilead, in the country of Sihon king of the Amorites, and of Og king of Bashan; and he was the only officer which was in the land.1 Kings 4:19. In the country of Gilead — That is, in the remaining part of that land of Gilead which was mentioned above. The only officer in the land — Or rather, in that land; namely, in all Gilead, excepting the parcels mentioned before, the only one in all the territories of Sihon and Og. These were of large extent, and yet all committed to this one man, which is here noticed as a peculiar privilege which he had above the other officers, whose jurisdictions were of narrower extent.
Judah and Israel were many, as the sand which is by the sea in multitude, eating and drinking, and making merry.1 Kings 4:20. As the sand which is on the sea-shore — An hyperbolical expression to signify a vast number. Eating and drinking, &c. — In perfect security, and highly satisfied. Jeshurun now began to wax fat, as Moses foresaw would be the case, and soon kicked; soon forsook God who made him, and lightly esteemed the rock of his salvation, Deuteronomy 32:15. This even Solomon himself did. What individual, or what nation, can bear continual prosperity and plenty?
And Solomon reigned over all kingdoms from the river unto the land of the Philistines, and unto the border of Egypt: they brought presents, and served Solomon all the days of his life.1 Kings 4:21. From the river — Euphrates; for so far David, having conquered the Syrians, extended his empire, which Solomon also maintained in that extent. And so God’s promise concerning the giving the whole land, as far as Euphrates, to the Israelites, was fulfilled. And if the Israelites had multiplied so much that the land of Canaan would not have sufficed them, having God’s grant of all the land as far as Euphrates, they might have seized upon it whensoever occasion required. The land of the Philistines — Which is to be understood inclusively; for the Philistines were within Solomon’s dominion. The border of Egypt — Unto the river Sihor, which was the border between Egypt and Canaan. And served — By tribute, or other ways, as he needed and required.
And Solomon's provision for one day was thirty measures of fine flour, and threescore measures of meal,1 Kings 4:22-23. Thirty measures of fine flour — Hebrew, cors; each of which contained ten ephahs. So this provision was sufficient for near three thousand persons. Meal — Of a coarser sort for common use. Ten fat oxen — Fatted in stalls. Out of pastures — Well fleshed, tender, and good, though not so fat as the former.
Ten fat oxen, and twenty oxen out of the pastures, and an hundred sheep, beside harts, and roebucks, and fallowdeer, and fatted fowl.
For he had dominion over all the region on this side the river, from Tiphsah even to Azzah, over all the kings on this side the river: and he had peace on all sides round about him.1 Kings 4:24. From Tiphsah even to Azzah — Either that Tiphsah (2 Kings 15:16) which was in the kingdom of Israel within Jordan; or, rather, another place of that name upon the Euphrates, even that eminent city which is mentioned by Ptolemy, and Strabo, and Pliny, called Thapsarum. And this best agrees with the following Azzah, which was the border of Canaan in the south and west, as Tiphsah was in the north and east. And so his dominion is described by both its borders. Over all kings — Who owned subjection, and payed tribute to him.
And Judah and Israel dwelt safely, every man under his vine and under his fig tree, from Dan even to Beersheba, all the days of Solomon.1 Kings 4:25. Under his vine — Enjoying the fruit of his own labour with safety and comfort. Under these two trees, which were most used and cultivated by the Israelites, he understands all other fruit-bearing trees, and all other comforts. And they are brought in as sitting or dwelling under these trees, partly for recreation or delight in the shade, and partly for the comfort or advantage of the fruit; and withal, to signify their great security, not only in their strong cities, but even in the country, where the vines and fig-trees grew, which was most open to the incursions of their enemies.
And Solomon had forty thousand stalls of horses for his chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen.1 Kings 4:26. Solomon had forty thousand stalls of horses for chariots — In 2 Chronicles 9:25, it is said, he had but four thousand. And Bochart thinks that the Hebrew word here used should be rendered four, not forty, or that some error has crept into the text in regard to the number here mentioned. It is justly observed, however, by Poole, that the Hebrew word translated stalls here, is not exactly the same word which is used, and so translated, in Chronicles; and that, therefore, there may well be allowed some difference in the signification; the one signifying, properly, stables; of such there were four thousand; the other stalls, or partitions for each horse, which were forty thousand. For his chariots — Both for his military chariots, which seem to be those fourteen hundred, 1 Kings 10:26, and for divers other uses, as respecting his great and various buildings, and merchandises, and other occasions, which might require some thousands of other chariots. And twelve thousand horsemen — Appointed partly for the defence of his people in peace, and partly for attendance upon his person, and for the splendour of his government.
And those officers provided victual for king Solomon, and for all that came unto king Solomon's table, every man in his month: they lacked nothing.1 Kings 4:27-28. Those officers — Named above, 1 Kings 4:7. They lacked nothing — Or, rather, they suffered nothing to be lacking to any man that came to Solomon’s table, but plentifully provided all things necessary. This is repeated to show their diligence, exactness, and care, which was remarkable; especially since they took care of his stables as well as of his house, as it follows in the next verse. Barley also and straw — Barley was anciently horse-corn, as appears by many places in Homer. For the horses and dromedaries — The Hebrew word, rechesh, signifies swift horses, as Abarbinel thinks; see Esther 8:14; but others take them for mules. Where the officers were — Or, rather, Where the beasts were; for there is no word for officers in the Hebrew. Every man according to his charge — Which lasted for a month every year.
Barley also and straw for the horses and dromedaries brought they unto the place where the officers were, every man according to his charge.
And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding exceeding much, and largeness of heart, even as the sand that is on the sea shore.1 Kings 4:29-30. God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding exceeding much — Knowledge of a great variety of things, and prudence in the administration of the government. And largeness of heart — Vastness of understanding, or a very comprehensive mind, capable of receiving the knowledge of all things, both divine and human. As the sand that is on the sea-shore — As the sand there encloses a vast body of waters, so his mind contained an ocean of knowledge, as the Lord Bacon somewhere speaks. The wisdom of all the children of the east country — The Chaldeans, Persians, and Arabians, who all lay eastward from Canaan, and were famous in ancient times for their wisdom and learning, the Arabians especially, as appears from the book of Job. And, in after ages, Porphyry reports that Pythagoras travelled into this country to improve himself in learning. And all the wisdom of Egypt — Which country was celebrated for wisdom in Moses’s time, as appears from Acts 7:22; and, in after times, Macrobius calls Egypt the mother of arts. Indeed, such was their skill in arts and sciences, that they despised the Greeks as children in knowledge.
And Solomon's wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the children of the east country, and all the wisdom of Egypt.
For he was wiser than all men; than Ethan the Ezrahite, and Heman, and Chalcol, and Darda, the sons of Mahol: and his fame was in all nations round about.1 Kings 4:31. He was wiser than all men — Either of his nation, or of his time: or, of all times and nations, whether of the East, or any other country, excepting only the first and second Adam. Ethan, &c. — Israelites of eminent wisdom, probably the same mentioned 1 Chronicles 2:6; 1 Chronicles 15:19; 1 Chronicles 25:4; Psalms 88., title, and 89., title. Chalcol, &c. — Of whom see 1 Chronicles 2:6.
And he spake three thousand proverbs: and his songs were a thousand and five.1 Kings 4:32-33. He spake three thousand proverbs — That is, short, deep, and useful sentences, whereof a great part are contained in the books of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes. Songs — Whereof the most divine and chief are in the Canticles. And he spake of trees — That is, of all plants, of their nature and qualities. From the cedar-tree unto the hyssop — From the greatest to the least. That springeth out of the wall — Dr. Waterland renders the original here, Hyssop that runneth out to the wall: the wall of Jerusalem may be meant, which was encompassed with mountains that produced abundance of hyssop. He spake also of beasts and of fowl, &c. — This shows the vastness of his knowledge, which comprehended the history of animals as well as of plants, whose nature and qualities he also understood. All these discourses of Solomon are lost, without any impeachment of the perfection of the Holy Scriptures; which were not written to teach men philosophy or physic, but only to make them wise unto salvation.
And he spake of trees, from the cedar tree that is in Lebanon even unto the hyssop that springeth out of the wall: he spake also of beasts, and of fowl, and of creeping things, and of fishes.
And there came of all people to hear the wisdom of Solomon, from all kings of the earth, which had heard of his wisdom.1 Kings 4:34. From all kings of the earth — All the neighbouring kings; a restriction grounded upon the following words, where this is limited to such as heard of Solomon’s wisdom. Let those who magnify the modern learning above that of the ancients, produce such a treasury of learning, anywhere in these later ages, as that was which Solomon was master of. Yet this puts an honour upon human learning, that Solomon is praised for it, and recommends it to the great ones of the earth, as well worthy their diligent search. In all this Solomon was a type of Christ, in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.