And Hiram king of Tyre sent his servants unto Solomon; for he had heard that they had anointed him king in the room of his father: for Hiram was ever a lover of David.1 Kings 5:1. Hiram sent his servants unto Solomon — Namely, as soon as he heard of his succession in the throne, as the following words show, he sent to congratulate him, as the manner of princes is. For Hiram was ever a lover of David — And therefore was desirous to continue in friendship with his son. This Hiram was probably the son of him who sent David timber and artificers to build his palace. Josephus assures us, that in his time, the letters which passed between him and Solomon were preserved in the archives of Tyre.
And Solomon sent to Hiram, saying,
Thou knowest how that David my father could not build an house unto the name of the LORD his God for the wars which were about him on every side, until the LORD put them under the soles of his feet.1 Kings 5:3-5. A house unto the name of the Lord — For his worship and service. For the wars which were about him on every side — Which diverted his cares and thoughts to other things, and occasioned God’s denying him the honour of that work. Until the Lord put them under the soles of his feet — That is, made them subject to him, that he could trample upon them at his pleasure. Compare Psalm 8:6; 1 Corinthians 15:27. I purpose to build a house unto the name of the Lord — That shall be called by his name, namely, the house of Jehovah; and be appropriated to his honour and glory.
But now the LORD my God hath given me rest on every side, so that there is neither adversary nor evil occurrent.
And, behold, I purpose to build an house unto the name of the LORD my God, as the LORD spake unto David my father, saying, Thy son, whom I will set upon thy throne in thy room, he shall build an house unto my name.
Now therefore command thou that they hew me cedar trees out of Lebanon; and my servants shall be with thy servants: and unto thee will I give hire for thy servants according to all that thou shalt appoint: for thou knowest that there is not among us any that can skill to hew timber like unto the Sidonians.1 Kings 5:6. Now therefore command thou, that they — That is, thy servants, who are skilful in such work; hew me cedar-trees — Which, for their soundness, and strength, and fragrancy, and durable-ness, were most proper for his design. Of these David had procured some, but not a sufficient number. Out of Lebanon — Which was in Solomon’s jurisdiction; and therefore he doth not desire that Hiram would give him the cedars, because they were his own already, but only that his servants might hew them for him, which the ingenious Tyrians well understood: My servants shall be with thy servants — Either to be employed as they shall direct, or to receive the cedars from their hands, and transmit them to me. And unto thee will I give hire for thy servants — Pay them for their labour and art. Sidonians — Or Tyrians; for these places and people, being near each other, are promiscuously used one for another. This assistance, which these Gentiles gave to the building of Solomon’s temple, was a type of the calling of the Gentiles, and that they should be instrumental in building and constituting Christ’s spiritual temple.
And it came to pass, when Hiram heard the words of Solomon, that he rejoiced greatly, and said, Blessed be the LORD this day, which hath given unto David a wise son over this great people.1 Kings 5:7-8. He rejoiced greatly — Being a faithful friend to David and his house; and though it is not probable he was a sincere proselyte, yet he had received much information concerning the nature and excellence of the God of Israel, and had honourable thoughts of him. And Hiram sent to Solomon — A letter, 2 Chronicles 2:11. Timber of fir — The word which we translate fir, others think signifies pine, or cypress; but their conjecture is the most reasonable, who think it was a kind of cedar, and therefore comprehended under that name, 1 Kings 5:6, where Solomon desires of him only that his servants might hew him cedar-trees.
And Hiram sent to Solomon, saying, I have considered the things which thou sentest to me for: and I will do all thy desire concerning timber of cedar, and concerning timber of fir.
My servants shall bring them down from Lebanon unto the sea: and I will convey them by sea in floats unto the place that thou shalt appoint me, and will cause them to be discharged there, and thou shalt receive them: and thou shalt accomplish my desire, in giving food for my household.1 Kings 5:9. From Lebanon unto the sea — The Mediterranean sea, on which his city stood. I will convey them — in floats — Or rafts. It is thought the pieces of timber were tied together in the water, as now is usual, and so, by the help of boats or ships, conveyed to the appointed place, which was at no great distance. Unto the place thou shalt appoint me — Which was Joppa, a famous seaport in the country of Israel, 2 Chronicles 2:16. Will cause them to be discharged there — Hebrew, dispersed, or dissolved; which implies that they were tied together. In giving food for my household — My family and court; which, most properly, is called his household. Though they had plenty of money, being great merchants, yet they wanted corn and other provisions: and in after times, it appears, they were supported by provisions from Judea, Acts 12:20.
So Hiram gave Solomon cedar trees and fir trees according to all his desire.1 Kings 5:10-11. So Hiram gave Solomon cedar-trees — That is, he agreed to give him all that he desired; but the trees were not yet cut down and prepared. Twenty thousand measures of wheat — Each measure spoken of here is supposed to contain six hundred and forty-eight pounds weight, so that the weight of the wheat yearly given to Hiram was two millions one hundred and sixty thousand pounds. Twenty measures of pure oil — In the parallel place, 2 Chronicles 2:10. it is twenty thousand baths of oil, which has the sanction of many of the versions, and seems the most probable reading in this place; and so in 1 Kings 5:16, instead of three hundred, it is six hundred in the Chronicles; a variation which it is not easy to reconcile without supposing an error, most probably in this place, as the Seventy give their authority to the reading in the Chronicles. But it is thought by some that the place in Chronicles speaks of what was given to the workmen, who had other things, there mentioned, besides, to support them in their labour; but that this place speaks of what was given for the use of Hiram’s family. Thus gave Solomon to Hiram year by year — Either for sustenance to the workmen during the years wherein they were employed in cutting down or hewing of timber, or for the yearly support of the king’s house during the said time. Thus, by the wise disposal of Providence, one country has need of another, and is benefited by an other, that there may be a mutual correspondence and dependence, to the glory of God our common parent.
And Solomon gave Hiram twenty thousand measures of wheat for food to his household, and twenty measures of pure oil: thus gave Solomon to Hiram year by year.
And the LORD gave Solomon wisdom, as he promised him: and there was peace between Hiram and Solomon; and they two made a league together.
And king Solomon raised a levy out of all Israel; and the levy was thirty thousand men.1 Kings 5:13. Solomon raised a levy — Which were to be employed in the most honourable and easy parts of the work relating to the temple, in the manner expressed 1 Kings 5:14; and these were Israelites; but those one hundred and fifty thousand mentioned 1 Kings 5:15 were strangers. if it seem strange that so many thousands should be employed about so small a building as the temple was, it must be considered, 1st, That the temple, all its parts being considered, was far larger than men imagine: 2d, That it is probable they were employed by turns, as the thirty thousand were, (1 Kings 5:13,) else they had been oppressed with hard and uninterrupted labours: 3d, That the timber and stone hewed and carried by them were designed, not only for the temple, but also for Solomon’s own houses and buildings; because we read of no other levy of men, nor of any care and pains taken, after the building of the temple, for the procurement or preparation of materials for his own houses, or his other buildings; nay, that this very levy of men was made and employed for the building of the Lord’s house, and Solomon’s house, and Millo, and the wall of Jerusalem, and Hazor, and Megiddo, and Gezer, is expressed chap. 1 Kings 9:15.
And he sent them to Lebanon, ten thousand a month by courses: a month they were in Lebanon, and two months at home: and Adoniram was over the levy.
And Solomon had threescore and ten thousand that bare burdens, and fourscore thousand hewers in the mountains;1 Kings 5:15-16. That bare burdens — Namely, porters, carters, seamen, and such like. Fourscore thousand hewers in the mountains — That is, hewers of stone, for timber was hewed by Hiram’s servants in Lebanon. Officers over the work three thousand three hundred — Whereof three thousand were set over the one hundred and fifty thousand mentioned 1 Kings 5:15, each of these over fifty of them, and the odd three hundred were set over these three thousand; each of them to have the oversight of ten, to take an account of the work from them. But in 2 Chronicles 2:18, these overseers are said to be three thousand six hundred. The three hundred added in 2 Chronicles 2. might be a reserve to supply the places of the other three thousand; yea, or of the three thousand six hundred, as any of them should be taken off from the work by death, or sickness, or weakness, or any necessary occasion; which was a prudent provision, and not unusual in like cases. And so there were three thousand six hundred commissioned for the work, but only three thousand three hundred employed at one time; and therefore both computations fairly stand together.
Beside the chief of Solomon's officers which were over the work, three thousand and three hundred, which ruled over the people that wrought in the work.
And the king commanded, and they brought great stones, costly stones, and hewed stones, to lay the foundation of the house.1 Kings 5:17. Costly stones — Marble and porphyry, or other stones of great size and value. To lay the foundation of the house — Where they could not afterward be seen; and therefore that this was done, is mentioned only as a point of magnificence, except it was intended for a type or mystical signification of the preciousness of Christ, who is the foundation of the true temple, and the church of God. “It should seem,” says Henry, “that Solomon was himself present at the founding of the temple, and that the first stone, as has been usual in famous buildings, was laid with great solemnity. Solomon commanded, and they brought costly stones — For a foundation; though, being out of sight, worse might have served. Christ, who is laid for a foundation, is an elect and precious stone, (Isaiah 28.,) and the foundations of the church are said to be laid with sapphires, Isaiah 54:11. and Revelation 21:19. Sincerity obligeth us to lay our foundation firm, and to bestow most pains on that part of our religion which lies out of the sight, of men.”
And Solomon's builders and Hiram's builders did hew them, and the stonesquarers: so they prepared timber and stones to build the house.1 Kings 5:18. Solomon’s builders and Hiram’s did hew them — It seemed Solomon’s servants learned of Hiram’s, or, at least, were directed by them to assist in the work. And the stone-squarers — Hebrew, the Giblites, the inhabitants of Gebal, a place near Zidon, mentioned Psalm 83:7; Ezekiel 27:9, famous for artificers and architects, Joshua 13:5. These are here distinguished from the rest of Hiram’s builders, as the most eminent of them. So they prepared timber and stones to build the house — Made all ready, not only to lay the foundation, but to raise the superstructure.