Matthew Poole's 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.The queen of Sheba cometh to Jerusalem; admireth Solomon’s wisdom and glory; giveth God thanks, and Solomon presents, 1 Kings 10:1-10. His riches, 1 Kings 10:11-15; targets, ivory throne, vessels, 1 Kings 10:16-23; presents, chariots and horses, tribute, 1 Kings 10:24-29.
The queen of Sheba; either, first, Of Ethiopia, as that people by constant tradition from their ancestors affirm, which also was truly in the ends of the earth, whence she came, Matthew 12:42. Or rather, secondly, Of that part of Arabia called Sabaea, which was at a great distance from Jerusalem, and really in the ends of the earth, and bordering upon the southern sea; for there, much more than in Ethiopia, were the commodities which she brought, 1 Kings 10:2,10. Howsoever, this is there said for her commendation, that being a woman, and a queen, and living at great ease, and in such remote parts, she was willing to take so long and chargeable a journey to improve herself in knowledge, and that of Divine things, as is here implied.
Concerning the name of the Lord, i.e. concerning the great work which he had done for the name, i.e. the honour, and service, and worship, of the Lord, as it is expressed 1 Kings 8:17, and elsewhere. Or, concerning God; the name of God being oft put for God, as hath been noted before; concerning his deep knowledge in the things of God. For it is very probable that she had, as also had divers other heathens, some knowledge of the true God, and an earnest desire to know more of the being, and nature, and worship of God, wherein the heathens were generally at a great loss, and which many of them desired and endeavoured to understand. Or, concerning the great things which God had done for him, especially in giving him such incomparable wisdom, and that in an extraordinary manner. With hard questions; concerning natural, and civil, and especially concerning Divine things, about which there are, and ever where, the hardest questions.
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.i.e. Of all the doubts and difficulties wherewith her mind was perplexed.
And Solomon told her all her questions: there was not any thing hid from the king, which he told her not.All her questions, Heb. all her matters; he satisfied her in all things she desired to know. There was not any thing she asked which Solomon did not both understand himself, and acquaint her with.
And when the queen of Sheba had seen all Solomon's wisdom, and the house that he had built,Or, the houses, the singular number being put for the plural, to wit, both the temple and the king’s house, in both which there were evidences of singular wisdom.
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.The sitting of his servants, i.e. the order and manner in which his courtiers or other subjects (who all were his servants in a general sense) sat down at meals, at several tables in his court.
The attendance of his ministers, to wit, upon the king, both at his table, and elsewhere in his court; and when he went abroad to the temple or other places,
Their apparel; both the costliness of it:, and especially the conveniency of it to their several places and offices.
His ascent by which he went up unto the house of the Lord from his own palace. See 2 Kings 16:18. But the ancients, and some others translate the words thus, and the burnt-offerings which he offered up in the house of the Lord; under which, as the chief, all other sacrifices are understood: when she saw the manner of his offering sacrifices to the Lord, which doubtless she would not neglect to see; and in the ordering of which she might discern really characters of excellent wisdom, especially when she had so excellent an interpreter as Solomon was to inform her of the reasons of all the circumstances of that service.
There was no more spirit in her; she was astonished, and rapt up in a kind of ecstasy, and could scarce determine whether she did really see these things, or whether it was not only a pleasant dream.
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.No text from Poole on this verse.
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.I believed not the words which the reporters used concerning him; or, the things reported; they seemed incredible, and above the perfection of human nature.
Prosperity; or, happiness; or, virtue; Heb. goodness.
Happy are thy men, happy are these thy servants, which stand continually before thee, and that hear thy wisdom.No text from Poole on this verse.
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.Blessed be the Lord thy God; he deserves all blessing and praise, for delighting to honour and advance so worthy a person.
To set thee on the throne of Israel; for it was God’s special act to make him king rather than his elder brother.
To do judgment and justice, i.e. to execute just judgment among them, to govern them with right and equity. She tacitly admonisheth Solomon, that he was not made king that he might live in ease, and pleasure, and splendour, but for the good of his people.
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.No text from Poole on this verse.
And the navy also of Hiram, that brought gold from Ophir, brought in from Ophir great plenty of almug trees, and precious stones.No text from Poole on this verse.
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.Almug trees, called also (by an inversion of the letters, which is usual among the Hebrews) algum trees, 2 Chronicles 2:8 9:10; whereof there were some in Lebanon, 2 Chronicles 2:8, but the best sort came from Ophir, as is here said.
Pillars, or supporters, either for the ascent or stairs, by which they went from the king’s house to the temple; see 1 Chronicles 26:16 2 Chronicles 9:11; or for divers parts both of the Lord’s and of the king’s house.
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.No text from Poole on this verse.
Now the weight of gold that came to Solomon in one year was six hundred threescore and six talents of gold,Which amounts to about two millions of our money. And this gold did not come from Ophir in India, or Tarshish; but from Arabia and Ethiopia, and other parts, which then were well replenished with gold, though since exhausted by the insatiable avarice of succeeding ages.
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.Of the merchantmen, Heb. of the searchers, or spies, i.e. either merchants, who use to inquire and search out commodities, and all advantages of trade; or rather, the publicans or gatherers of the king’s revenues, who used to search narrowly into all wares and dealings, that the king might not be defrauded of his rights.
Of the spice merchants, or rather, of the merchants in general, as that word is oft used in Eze 27, and elsewhere. So this and the former particular contain both the branches of the king’s revenue, what he had from the land and fruits thereof, and what he had from the merchants and traders in other commodities.
Of all the kings of Arabia, to wit, of those parts of Arabia which were next to Canaan, which were either conquered by David, or submitted to pay tribute to Solomon. But we must not think all these to be kings of large dominions, but many of them only governors of cities, and the territories belonging to them, such as were formerly in Canaan, and were anciently called kings. Of the country, or, of the land, or, of that land, for there is an article in the Hebrew; i.e. either of the land of Canaan; or rather, of the land of Arabia; whereof some parts were so far conquered, that he had governors of his own over them, who were each of them to take care of the king’s revenue in his jurisdiction; and part only so far that they still had kings of their own, but such as were tributaries to him.
And king Solomon made two hundred targets of beaten gold: six hundred shekels of gold went to one target.For pomp and magnificence, and (as may be thought from the use of the brazen shields, 1 Kings 14:27,28) to be carried before him by his guard when he went abroad.
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.Three pound, or, three hundred shekels, as it is expressed 2 Chronicles 9:16.
Moreover the king made a great throne of ivory, and overlaid it with the best gold.Overlaid it; not wholly, but in part, here and there, which made it more beautiful to the eye. Probably the main substance of it was ivory, but some cavities were left in it which were filled with gold.
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.Round behind; made like the half of a circle.
Two lions: these and the following lions seem added, to express either the tribe from which Solomon sprung, compared to a lion, Genesis 49:9; or rather, that majesty and power wherewith a prince is adorned and armed, which his subjects cannot resist; or the duty of a prince in the execution of judgment, which ought to be done with great courage and magnanimity.
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.No text from Poole on this verse.
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.Comparatively; such hyperbolical expressions being frequent, both in Scripture and other authors.
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.A navy of Tharshish; either, first, the ships of the sea, which may seem to be called Tarshish, as Psalm 48:7 Isaiah 60:9, from an eminent part of the sea near Judea, so called. Or rather, the ships that went to Tarshish; for Tarshish was the name of a certain place upon the sea, famous for its traffic with merchants, as it is manifest from Isaiah 23:6,10 66:19 Jeremiah 10:9 Ezekiel 27:12; and it was a place very remote from Judea, as appears from the three years usually spent in that voyage. But whether it was Spain, where in those times there was abundance of gold and silver, as Strabo and others affirm, or some place in the Indies, it is needless to determine.
So king Solomon exceeded all the kings of the earth for riches and for wisdom.No text from Poole on this verse.
And all the earth sought to Solomon, to hear his wisdom, which God had put in his heart.All the earth, i.e. all the kings of the earth, (as it is expressed, 2 Chronicles 9:23) to wit, of those parts of the earth; which synecdoche is very frequent.
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.No text from Poole on this verse.
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.Solomon gathered together chariots and horsemen; like a wise prince, in deep peace providing for war.
A thousand and four hundred chariots: See Poole "1 Kings 4:26".
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.Sycamore trees were vile and common. See Isaiah 9:10.
And Solomon had horses brought out of Egypt, and linen yarn: the king's merchants received the linen yarn at a price.Horses and linen yarn; the two chief commodities of Egypt. See Proverbs 7:16 Song of Solomon 1:9 Isaiah 3:23 Ezekiel 27:7.
The king’s merchants received the linen yarn for a price; Solomon received them from Pharaoh at a certain price agreed between them, and gave this privilege to his merchants, for a tribute to be paid to him out of it.
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 chariot: this is not to be understood of the chariots and horses themselves, (for then all horses had been set at an equal price, which is most absurd,) but by a metonymy, for the lading of chariots and horses, which consisting of fine linen and silk, &c., were of great value; and the king’s custom, together with the charges of the journey, amounted to these sums.
The Hittites; a people dwelling principally in the northern and eastern parts of Canaan, Joshua 1:4, whom the Israelites, contrary to their duty, spared, and suffered to live among them, Judges 3:5, who afterwards, it seems, grew numerous and potent, and, it may be, they sent out colonies (after the manner of the ancient times) into some parts of Syria and Arabia and possibly these kings of the Hittites may be some of those kings of Arabia, 1 Kings 10:15.