1 Kings 10
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
And when the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the LORD, she came to prove him with hard questions.

1Ki 10:1-13. The Queen of Sheba Admires the Wisdom of Solomon.

1. the queen of Sheba—Some think her country was the Sabean kingdom of Yemen, of which the capital was Saba, in Arabia-Felix; others, that it was in African Ethiopia, that is, Abyssinia, towards the south of the Red Sea. The opinions preponderate in favor of the former. This view harmonizes with the language of our Lord, as Yemen means "South"; and this country, extending to the shores of the Indian ocean, might in ancient times be considered "the uttermost parts of the earth."

heard of the fame of Solomon—doubtless by the Ophir fleet.

concerning the name of the Lord—meaning either his great knowledge of God, or the extraordinary things which God had done for him.

hard questions—enigmas or riddles. The Orientals delight in this species of intellectual exercise and test wisdom by the power and readiness to solve them.

And she came to Jerusalem with a very great train, with camels that bare spices, and very much gold, and precious stones: and when she was come to Solomon, she communed with him of all that was in her heart.
2. she came to Jerusalem with a very great train, with camels—A long train of those beasts of burden forms the common way of travelling in Arabia; and the presents specified consist of the native produce of that country. Of course, a royal equipage would be larger and more imposing than an ordinary caravan.
And Solomon told her all her questions: there was not any thing hid from the king, which he told her not.
And when the queen of Sheba had seen all Solomon's wisdom, and the house that he had built,
And the meat of his table, and the sitting of his servants, and the attendance of his ministers, and their apparel, and his cupbearers, and his ascent by which he went up unto the house of the LORD; there was no more spirit in her.
And she said to the king, It was a true report that I heard in mine own land of thy acts and of thy wisdom.
6. It was a true report that I heard in mine own land of thy acts and of thy wisdom—The proofs she obtained of Solomon's wisdom—not from his conversation only, but also from his works; the splendor of his palace; the economy of his kitchen and table; the order of his court; the gradations and gorgeous costume of his servants; above all, the arched viaduct that led from his palace to the temple (2Ki 16:18), and the remains of which have been recently discovered [Robinson]—overwhelmed her with astonishment. [See on [307]2Ch 9:4.]
Howbeit I believed not the words, until I came, and mine eyes had seen it: and, behold, the half was not told me: thy wisdom and prosperity exceedeth the fame which I heard.
Happy are thy men, happy are these thy servants, which stand continually before thee, and that hear thy wisdom.
Blessed be the LORD thy God, which delighted in thee, to set thee on the throne of Israel: because the LORD loved Israel for ever, therefore made he thee king, to do judgment and justice.
9. Blessed be the Lord thy God—(See on [308]1Ki 5:7). It is quite possible, as Jewish writers say, that this queen was converted, through Solomon's influence, to the worship of the true God. But there is no record of her making any gift or offering in the temple.
And she gave the king an hundred and twenty talents of gold, and of spices very great store, and precious stones: there came no more such abundance of spices as these which the queen of Sheba gave to king Solomon.
10. she gave the king an hundred and twenty talents of gold—£720,00.
And the navy also of Hiram, that brought gold from Ophir, brought in from Ophir great plenty of almug trees, and precious stones.
11. almug trees—Parenthetically, along with the valuable presents of the queen of Sheba, is mentioned a foreign wood, which was brought in the Ophir ships. It is thought by some to be the sandalwood; by others, to be the deodar—a species of fragrant fir, much used in India for sacred and important works. Solomon used it for stairs in his temple and palace (2Ch 9:11), but chiefly for musical instruments.
And the king made of the almug trees pillars for the house of the LORD, and for the king's house, harps also and psalteries for singers: there came no such almug trees, nor were seen unto this day.
And king Solomon gave unto the queen of Sheba all her desire, whatsoever she asked, beside that which Solomon gave her of his royal bounty. So she turned and went to her own country, she and her servants.
13. King Solomon gave unto the queen of Sheba all her desire, whatsoever she asked, beside—that is, Solomon not only gave his illustrious guest all the insight and information she wanted; but, according to the Oriental fashion, he gave her ample remuneration for the presents she had brought.
Now the weight of gold that came to Solomon in one year was six hundred threescore and six talents of gold,
1Ki 10:14-29. His Riches.

14, 15. Now the weight of gold that came to Solomon in one year—666 talents, equal to £3,996,000. The sources whence this was derived are not mentioned; nor was it the full amount of his revenue; for this was "Beside that he had of the merchantmen, and of the traffic of the spice merchants, and of all the kings of Arabia, and of the governors of the country." The great encouragement he gave to commerce was the means of enriching his royal treasury. By the fortifications which he erected in various parts of his kingdom, (particularly at such places as Thapsacus, one of the passages of Euphrates, and at Tadmor, in the Syrian desert), he gave complete security to the caravan trade from the depredations of the Arab marauders; and it was reasonable that, in return for this protection, he should exact a certain toll or duty for the importation of foreign goods. A considerable revenue, too, would arise from the use of the store cities and khans he built; and it is not improbable that those cities were emporia, where the caravan merchants unloaded their bales of spices and other commodities and sold them to the king's factors, who, according to the modern practice in the East, retailed them in the Western markets at a profit. "The revenue derived from the tributary kings and from the governors of the country" must have consisted in the tribute which all inferior magistrates periodically bring to their sovereigns in the East, in the shape of presents of the produce of their respective provinces.

Beside that he had of the merchantmen, and of the traffick of the spice merchants, and of all the kings of Arabia, and of the governors of the country.
And king Solomon made two hundred targets of beaten gold: six hundred shekels of gold went to one target.
16, 17. two hundred targets, six hundred shekels—These defensive arms were anciently made of wood and covered with leather; those were covered with fine gold. 600 shekels were used in the gilding of each target—300 for each shield. They were intended for the state armory of the palace (see 1Ki 14:26).
And he made three hundred shields of beaten gold; three pound of gold went to one shield: and the king put them in the house of the forest of Lebanon.
Moreover the king made a great throne of ivory, and overlaid it with the best gold.
18-26. a great throne of ivory—It seems to have been made not of solid ivory, but veneered. It was in the form of an armchair, with a carved back. The ascent to it was by six steps, on each of which stood lions, in place of a railing—while a lion, probably of gilt metal, stood at each side, which, we may suppose from the analogy of other Oriental thrones, supported a canopy. A golden footstool is mentioned (2Ch 9:18) as attached to this throne, whose magnificence is described as unrivalled.
The throne had six steps, and the top of the throne was round behind: and there were stays on either side on the place of the seat, and two lions stood beside the stays.
And twelve lions stood there on the one side and on the other upon the six steps: there was not the like made in any kingdom.
And all king Solomon's drinking vessels were of gold, and all the vessels of the house of the forest of Lebanon were of pure gold; none were of silver: it was nothing accounted of in the days of Solomon.
For the king had at sea a navy of Tharshish with the navy of Hiram: once in three years came the navy of Tharshish, bringing gold, and silver, ivory, and apes, and peacocks.
22. a navy of Tharshish—Tartessus in Spain. There gold, and especially silver, was obtained, anciently, in so great abundance that it was nothing accounted of in the days of Solomon. But "Tarshish" came to be a general term for the West (Jon 1:3).

at sea—on the Mediterranean.

once in three years—that is, every third year. Without the mariner's compass they had to coast along the shore. The ivory, apes, and peacocks might have been purchased, on the outward or homeward voyage, on the north coast of Africa, where the animals were to be found. They were particularized, probably as being the rarest articles on board.

So king Solomon exceeded all the kings of the earth for riches and for wisdom.
And all the earth sought to Solomon, to hear his wisdom, which God had put in his heart.
And they brought every man his present, vessels of silver, and vessels of gold, and garments, and armour, and spices, horses, and mules, a rate year by year.
And Solomon gathered together chariots and horsemen: and he had a thousand and four hundred chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen, whom he bestowed in the cities for chariots, and with the king at Jerusalem.
26-29.—(See on [309]2Ch 1:14 [and [310]2Ch 9:25].)
And the king made silver to be in Jerusalem as stones, and cedars made he to be as the sycomore trees that are in the vale, for abundance.
And Solomon had horses brought out of Egypt, and linen yarn: the king's merchants received the linen yarn at a price.
And a chariot came up and went out of Egypt for six hundred shekels of silver, and an horse for an hundred and fifty: and so for all the kings of the Hittites, and for the kings of Syria, did they bring them out by their means.
A Commentary, Critical, Practical, and Explanatory on the Old and New Testaments by Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset and David Brown [1882]

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