Matthew Poole's Commentary
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.Hiram sendeth to congratulate Solomon; who desireth of Hiram timber to build the temple, 1 Kings 5:1-6. Hiram blesseth God for Solomon; and, for food for his family, sendeth him trees, 1 Kings 5:7-12. The number of labourers and workmen employed about the temple, 1 Kings 5:13-18.
Hiram sent his servants unto Solomon, to wit, as soon as he heard of his succession in the throne, as the following words show, he sent to congratulate with him, as the manner of princes is.
And Solomon sent to Hiram, saying,No text from Poole on this verse.
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.Thou knowest, by common fame, and by particular information.
Could not build an house unto the name of the Lord his God, i.e. either, first, For the worship and service of God, 1 Kings 3:2. Or, secondly, For the Lord himself, as that phrase is used, Deu 28:58 Psalm 20:1 52:9.
Which were about him on every side; which diverted his cares and thoughts to other things, and withal occasioned God’s denial of the honour of that work to him.
Put them under the soles of his feet, i.e. made them subject to him, that he might trample upon them at his pleasure. Compare Psalm 8:6 1 Corinthians 15:27.
But now the LORD my God hath given me rest on every side, so that there is neither adversary nor evil occurrent.No text from Poole on this verse.
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.No text from Poole on this verse.
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.Command thou that they, i.e. thy servants, as appears both from the foregoing words, command, &c., and from the following opposition of my servants And 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 very instrumental in the building and constituting of Christ’s spiritual temple, to wit, his church.
Hew me cedar trees; which, for their soundness, and strength, and fragrancy, and durableness, were most excellent and proper for his design. Of these David had procured some, but not a sufficient number.
Lebanon was either wholly or in part 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 required art and skill in the time and manner of doing of it; all which the ingenious Tyrians well understood.
My servants shall be with thy servants; either to be employed therein as they shall direct; or to receive the cedars, being cut down and hewed, from their hands, and to transmit them to me; although Hiram in his return eased him of that trouble.
Unto thee will I give hire for thy servants, i.e. pay them for their labour and art.
The Sidonians, or Tyrians; for these places and people being near, and subject to Hiram, are promiscuously used one for another.
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.He rejoiced greatly; being an ingenuous prince, a lover of excellency, and a faithful friend to David and to his house.
Blessed be the Lord; for though it be not probable that he was a sincere proselyte, because he did not endeavour the instruction of his people, and the extirpation of their gross idolatry, which by God’s blessing and Solomen’s help he might easily have effected; yet he had sufficient information concerning the nature and excellency of the God of Israel, and had honourable thoughts of him, as also divers other heathens had, 1 Samuel 4:8 Daniel 6:16; /APC 2Ma 3:3.
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.Hiram sent a letter, 2 Chronicles 2:11.
Concerning timber of fir; which formerly was, and still is, very useful in most buildings. Others render the Hebrew word, pitch trees, or ash trees, or pine trees. To others it was a particular sort of cedars, and therefore comes under the general name of cedars, in Solomon’s message before related.
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.Unto the sea; the midland sea.
In floats, or ships, or rafts. It is thought the timbers were tied together in the water, as now it 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 that thou shalt appoint me; which was Joppa, 2 Chronicles 2:16, a town upon the sea, Joshua 19:46 Acts 9:43.
Discharged, Heb. dispersed, or dissolved; which implies that they were tied together.
Food for my household, i.e. either, first, My kingdom or people; for the word house or family is sometimes used for a nation or people, as Judges 13:2 18:11 Zechariah 12:13 14:18. The reason of this desire is, because the country belonging to Tyre and Sidon was very barren, and the people there being very numerous, depended upon Solomon’s country for relief, as is manifest from Acts 12:20: compare Ezra 3:7 Ezekiel 27:17. And this relief or provisions Hiram doth not desire to be freely given to him, but to be sold to him and his people at a reasonable rate, as Josephus reports it. Or, secondly, My servants employed in the work, as it is expressed, 2 Chronicles 2:15; though divers, both Jewish and Christian, interpreters conceive that this and that are differing accounts; and that here he speaks of the recompence which was given to Hiram himself, and to his house, for the materials which were taken out of his territories; and in 2Ch 2 of what was given to his servants for their labour. Or, thirdly, My royal family and court, which most properly is called his house.
So Hiram gave Solomon cedar trees and fir trees according to all his desire.No text from Poole on this verse.
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.Twenty measures of pure oil, Heb. twenty cors
of pure oil; but in 2 Chronicles 2:10, it is twenty thousand baths of oil; to which is there added twenty thousand measures of barley, and twenty thousand baths of wine. Either therefore, first, He speaks of several things, as was now said on 1 Kings 5:9. Or, secondly, He speaks there of what Solomon offered; for it runs thus,
I will give; and here of what Hiram accepted; and accordingly Solomon gave, for it is here said
Solomon gave Hiram. Or, thirdly, The barley, and wine, and twenty thousand baths of common oil, mentioned 2Ch 2, must be added to the twenty thousand measures of wheat, and the twenty measures of pure oil, here expressed, and the whole sum is to be made up from both places; that Book of Chronicles being written to supply and complete the histories of the Books of Samuel and of the Kings.
Thus gave Solomon to Hiram year by year; either, first, For sustenance to the workmen, during the years wherein they were employed in the cutting down and hewing of the timber. Or, secondly, For the yearly support of the king’s house during the said time. And these words being left out in 2Ch 2, may seem to favour their opinion, that these places speak of divers passages, and several recompences, the one given to the king’s house, the other to the labourers, although the argument is not cogent; and this might be omitted there, either because it was sufficiently implied in the nature of the thing, or because it had been plainly expressed here.
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.The Lord gave Solomon wisdom, i.e. he increased in wisdom more and more; which is here mentioned, because he showed his wisdom in all his transactions with Hiram.
And king Solomon raised a levy out of all Israel; and the levy was thirty thousand men.Which were to be employed in the most honourable and easy parts of the work relating to the temple, in manner expressed, 1 Kings 5:14. And these were Israelites; but those 150,000, mentioned 1 Kings 5:15, were strangers, by comparing this with 1 Kings 9:21,22. If it seem strange to any man that so many thousands should be employed about so small a building as the temple was, it must be considered,
1. That the temple, all its parts being considered, was far larger than men imagine, of which more hereafter.
2. That it is probable, that they were employed by turns, as the 30,000 were, 1 Kings 5:14, else they had been oppressed with hard and uninterrupted labours.
3. That the timber and stone hewed and carried by them was designed, not only (though principally) for the temple, but also for Solomon’s own houses and buildings; because we read of no other levy of men, nor of any great 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; which implies, that that work was done before; 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 1 Kings 9:15, which may fully satisfy that scruple.
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.No text from Poole on this verse.
And Solomon had threescore and ten thousand that bare burdens, and fourscore thousand hewers in the mountains;Either of timber, or rather of stones; for Hiram had taken care of the timber.
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.Whereof 3000 were set over the 150,000, expressed 1 Kings 5:15, each of these over 50 of them, and the odd 300 were set ever these 3000, each of these to have the oversight of ten of them, to take an account of the work from them. But in 2 Chronicles 2:18, these overseers are said to be 3600.
Answ. The 300 added in 2Ch 2 might be a reserve, to supply the places of the other 3000; yea, or of the 3300; as any of them should be taken off from the work by death, or sickness, or weakness, or necessary occasions; which was a prudent provision, and not unusual in such-like cases. And so there were 3600 commissioned for the work, but only 3300 employed at one time; and therefore both computations may fairly stand together. Some learned men add, that those 3600 were strangers, which indeed is manifest from 2 Chronicles 2:17; and that those 3330 were a distinct number of men, and Israelites, which were set over all the rest, both strangers and Israelites; who therefore are here called the
chief of Solomon’s officers, and are said to rule over the workmen; whereas all that is said of those 3600, 2 Chronicles 2:18, is, that they were overseers to set the people a work; which may deserve further consideration. Others say, that the 300 added in 2 Chron. were overseers of the Tyrian workmen in Mount Lebanon, and the rest in all other places; or that they were set over some particular and more curious and considerable parts of the work.
And the king commanded, and they brought great stones, costly stones, and hewed stones, to lay the foundation of the house.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, the church of God, as he is called, Isaiah 28:16 1 Corinthians 3:11.
And Solomon's builders and Hiram's builders did hew them, and the stonesquarers: so they prepared timber and stones to build the house.The stone-squarers, Heb. the Gibites; the inhabitants of Gebel, a place near Zidon, named Psalm 83:7 Ezekiel 27:9, famous for artificers and architects, Joshua 13:5. These are here mentioned apart, as distinct from the rest of Hiram’s builders, as the most eminent of them.