And Solomon the son of David was strengthened in his kingdom, and the LORD his God was with him, and magnified him exceedingly.
Verse 1. - Was strengthened in his kingdom. This expression, or one very closely resembling it, is frequently found both in Chronicles and elsewhere, so far as the English Version is concerned. But the verb in its present form (hithp. conjugation) is found in Chronicles, omitting other books, just fifteen times, and rarely, if ever, to the level of the mere passive voice. It carries rather the idea of a person who exerts himself, and does all that in him lies to nerve himself with strength for any object (1 Chronicles 11:10; 1 Chronicles 19:13; 2 Chronicles 12:13; 2 Chronicles 13:7, 8, 21; 2 Chronicles 15:8; 2 Chronicles 16:9; 2 Chronicles 17:1; 2 Chronicles 21:4; 2 Chronicles 23:1; 2 Chronicles 25:11; 2 Chronicles 27:6; 2 Chronicles 32:5). It may suggest to us that Solomon threw the force of moral energy and resolution into his work and life at this period. The Lord his God was with him; i.e. Jehovah his God was with him. The parallels of this very simple and natural expression are too numerous for quotation. Some of the earliest are found in well-known connections in the Book of Genesis, as e.g. Genesis 21:22; 26:28; 28:15, 20; 31:3. Again, Numbers 14:14, 43; Numbers 23:21; Joshua 14:12; Judges 6:13; Ruth 2:4; 1 Samuel 17:37; 2 Samuel 5:10; 1 Chronicles 11:9; 1 Chronicles 22:11, 16; 2 Chronicles 15:9; 2 Chronicles 19:11; 2 Chronicles 36:23; Amos 5:14. The beautiful New Testament equivalent occurs in 2 Thessalonians 3:16, and elsewhere. Like some other of those earliest concisest religious expressions, brevity and simplicity are fully charged with suggestion. And the above quotations will be found to furnish examples of the manifold practical use of the Lord's presence with any one. That presence may infer the help just of companionship, or of sure sympathy, or of needed counsel, or of strength in the hour of temptation, or of absolute practical help, or of the highest revealings of faith. The whole circle of need, of human and Christian need, the Divine presence "will supply" (Philippians 4:19). The "need" of Solomon in his present position was patent and pressing. Would that he had always kept by the true supply of it! Magnified him exceedingly. This verb in its piel conjugation, signifying "to make grow," occurs twenty-six times in the various books of the Old Testament, some of the more characteristic occurrences of it being found in the following passages: Genesis 12:2; Numbers 6:5; Joshua 3:7; Joshua 4:17; 1 Kings 1:37, 47; 2 Kings 10:6; 1 Chronicles 29:12, 25; Esther 3:1; Job 7:17; Psalm 34:4; Psalm 69:31; Isaiah 1:2; Isaiah 44:14; Ezekiel 31:4; Daniel 1:5; Hosea 9:12.
Then Solomon spake unto all Israel, to the captains of thousands and of hundreds, and to the judges, and to every governor in all Israel, the chief of the fathers.
Verse 2. - This verse and the following four supersede the one verse, 1 Kings 3:4; and the five together give us, of course, a much fuller view of the events of the sacrifice. Our present verse purports to show the representative components of "all Israel" in a fourfold classification. Captains of thousands and of hundreds (see first 1 Chronicles 13:1; 1 Chronicles 27:1; 1 Chronicles 28:1; and then Exodus 18:21, 25; Numbers 31:14, 48, 52, 54; Deuteronomy 1:15; 1 Samuel 8:12; 1 Samuel 17:18; 1 Samuel 18:13; 1 Samuel 22:7; 2 Samuel 18:1; 2 Kings 11:9, 15, 19). The judges. The office and the person of the judge were held in high honour among the Jewish people from the first, and perhaps, also, with a noteworthy uniformity, even in the more degenerate periods of their history. Their commencement in patriarchal simplicity can be easily imagined, and receives illustration from such passages as Job 29:7, 8, 9; Job 32:9. Their more formal development may be considered to date from the crisis related in Exodus 18:14-24. And the allusions to the judge and his office thenceforward sustain our impression of the honour in which they were held, arising, no doubt, largely from the deep-felt necessity for them, the more society crystallized (Numbers 25:5; Deuteronomy 16:18; Deuteronomy 19:17; Deuteronomy 21:2; Joshua 8:33; 1 Chronicles 23:24; 1 Chronicles 26:29; 2 Chronicles 19:8-10). In 1 Chronicles 23:24 we are told how David set apart "six thousand Levites" to be "officers and judges." Every governor. The word employed here (נָשִׂיא) is rendered by five different words in our Authorized Version: "prince" (Genesis 17:20, passim), "ruler" (Exodus 16:22, passim), "captain" (Numbers 2:3, passim), "chief" Numbers 3:24, passim), and "governor" in the present passage only. It is evidently a term of generic signification, used of a king (1 Kings 11:34; Ezekiel 12:10); of leaders of the Ishmaelites (Genesis 17:20); of the captains of the tribes of Israel (Numbers 7:11); of the chiefs of families (Numbers 3:24); while the use of it (Genesis 23:6) to set forth the position of Abraham as one raised to eminence so high and undisputed that it might be clearly said to be God's doing, is sufficient to determine its central signification. The chief of the fathers; i.e. the heads of the fathers. The first occurrence of the expression, "the heads of their fathers' houses" (Exodus 6:14), and of "the heads of the fathers of the Levites according to their families" (Exodus 6:25), sufficiently explains the original and perfectly natural meaning of the phrase. The great importance and significance of the position of the heads "of families" and "of houses" and" of fathers" in early patriarchal times must necessarily have declined by the time of Solomon, when the nation had received so much more of civil form and system. But the name remained, and the family and social position did not fail to make themselves felt, and finally the official recognition of them in David's time is evidenced by 1 Chronicles 27:1, and in Solomon's time both by the present passage and 2 Chronicles 5:2 with its parallel 1 Kings 8:1. Our present use of the expression ought probably to show it, in close apposition with the foregoing words, "to all Israel" (wrongly translated "in all Israel" in the Authorized Version), and which itself is a repetition of the "to all Israel" in the beginning of the verse. Although the existing Hebrew pointing of the verse does not favour the supposition, it may be that the writer means to emphasize Solomon's summons as made both to the kingdom as such, and to the people also as a united people. We are not, indeed, told here, in so many words, what it was that Solomon said "to all Israel." But there can be no doubt as to his object, as betrayed in the first clause of the following verse.
So Solomon, and all the congregation with him, went to the high place that was at Gibeon; for there was the tabernacle of the congregation of God, which Moses the servant of the LORD had made in the wilderness.
Verse 3. - All the congregation; i.e. in the persons of their captains, judges, princes, and family representatives. The high place... at Gibeon. It may readily be allowed that even nature and instinct would suggest a certain fitness in selecting high places, and the impressive grandeur of groves, for the worship of the High and Lofty One and for the offerings of sacrifice to him. It was not otherwise historically (Genesis 12:7, 8; Genesis 22:3, 4; Genesis 31:54). However, first, it was part of the education of a nation (situated in the heart of the young world) in the unity of the one God, that its worship should be offered in one place, and the smoke of its sacrifices ascend from one altar; and secondly, it was not difficult to foresee that the very force that lay in the associations, which dictated the choice of some places (not least, certainly, "the grove"), would constitute their weakness and snare. The prohibitions, therefore, of the Mosaic Law (Deuteronomy 12:5, 11, 14, 19, 21, 26), witnessed to by such corroborations as are found in commands to obliterate certain Canaanitish traces, that looked long time a different way (Leviticus 17:8; Leviticus 26:30; Numbers 33:52; Deuteronomy 33:29; Joshua 22:29; 1 Kings 20:23), approve themselves as in thorough harmony with what all would feel to be the genius of the religious education of Israel, and, through Israel, of the nations of the world. The wonder that impresses us is rather that means were not found to abide by the "letter" of the Law to a far greater degree during all the generations that elapsed before the people were settled in their land, and were gathered in their temple so typical. Is it not possible to regard this as an impressive instance of how, even in a system that sought to be of the closest and most exclusive, the "spirit," by force of circumstances, resented the tyrannous bondage of the "letter"? Anyway, for ages from the time of that prohibition, the nation had the moral principle as their guide rather than any possibility of keeping safe within a commandment's "letter" (so see Judges 6:25, 26; Judges 13:17-24; 1 Samuel 7:10; 1 Samuel 13:9; 1 Samuel 16:5; 1 Samuel 10:5; 1 Chronicles 21:26; 1 Kings 18:30). Even now, accordingly, the prohibited is still the observed, and by Solomon, too, in the steps of David, even if it be necessary to describe it as the "winked at." And to the "high place" at Gibeon Solomon and all the representatives, the congregation of Israel, have to repair in order to do sacrifice. The tabernacle was now at Gibeon, whither it had come from Nob (1 Chronicles 16:39, 40; 1 Samuel 21:1, 6; from which latter reference, speaking of the "shew-bread," it comes that we know the tabernacle to have resided at Nob awhile; for the circumstance is not positively narrated in any passage of the history (but see also 1 Samuel 22:9, 11). Gibeon was one of the four Hivite cities, the other three being Beeroth, Chephirah, and Kirjath-jearim. It had its first fame from its "wiliness" (Joshua 9:3, 4, etc.). By the directest road, it was five miles distant from Jerusalem, in the direction of the sea. It was further noted for the encounter between Joab and Abner (2 Samuel 2:12-17). Again, for the slaying of Amasa by Joab (2 Samuel 20:6-10), and for the death of Joab himself at the hand of Benalak, at the very horns of the altar (1 Kings 2:28-34). Although the exact date of the lodging of the tabernacle at Gibeon is not told us, nor even the person who was answerable for briging it there, yet there can be no reasonable doubt that it was David, as we read (1 Chronicles 16:40) of his appointing the priests to offer "the daily sacrifices" there, on the brazen altar of Moses, when Zadok was at their head, and Heman and Jeduthun were their resident musicians. In what particular part of Gibeon or of its immediate neighbourhood the tabernacle was stationed cannot be said with any certainty. Amid a considerable choice of likely places, one forming part of Gibeon itself, and just south of El-Tib, seems the likeliest, and to be preferred to the suggestion of Stanley ('Sinai and Palestine,' p. 216), of Neby-Samuil, which is a mile distant. The present imposing occasion is the last of any importance on which Gibeon is brought before us (see also 1 Kings 8:3; 1 Chronicles 9:35). There was the tabernacle. The removal of the tabernacle to Gibeon no doubt followed immediately on the destruction of Nob by Saul (1 Samuel 22:9; 1 Chronicles 16:39, 40, compared with 37; 21:28, 29). Moses... made in the wilderness (see Exodus 25, 26, 27, 33:7-10).
But the ark of God had David brought up from Kirjathjearim to the place which David had prepared for it: for he had pitched a tent for it at Jerusalem.
Verse 4. - But the ark. Again, as in 1 Chronicles 16:39, the writer emphasizes the fact of the temporary divorce that had obtained between the ark and the tabernacle (so 1 Samuel 6:20; 2 Samuel 6:2-19; 1 Kings 3:2, 4, 15; 1 Chronicles 13:3-14; 1 Chronicles 15:1-3, 12-15, 23-29). David's pitching of the tent for it is recorded emphatically 1 Chronicles 15:1; 1 Chronicles 16:1; 2 Samuel 6:17.
Moreover the brasen altar, that Bezaleel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, had made, he put before the tabernacle of the LORD: and Solomon and the congregation sought unto it.
Verse 5. - The brazen altar. This statement is introduced to lay stress on the fact that, though the ark indeed was not with the tabernacle, the brazen altar of burnt offering assuredly was there, this constituting the place, the proper spot, for sacrifice and worship. (For the account of the brazen altar and its making, see Exodus 27:1-8; Exodus 38:1-7; also Numbers 16:38, 39.) This altar of burnt offering is often spoken of as the altar, to distinguish it from the altar of incense (Exodus 30:1; Exodus 39:38; Numbers 4:11). Bezaleel. (For detailed genealogy, see our 1 Chronicles 2:3-20; also Exodus 31:2-5; Exodus 35:30-35.) He put before. The reading (שָׁם), "was there before," is to be preferred, tallying as it does exactly with Exodus 40:6. This was the reading understood by the Septuagint and Vulgate. The majority of manuscripts, however, and the Syriac Version, have שָׂם. Sought unto it. The analogy of the use of this word would make to be preferred the translation "sought him," i.e. the "Jehovah" just spoken cf. But whether the object of the verb be in this place Jehovah or the altar, it would seem probable that the clause purports to say that Solomon and his people were accustomed to repair thither, while now they were about to repair thither with a very vast burnt offering.
And Solomon went up thither to the brasen altar before the LORD, which was at the tabernacle of the congregation, and offered a thousand burnt offerings upon it.
Verse 6. - A thousand burnt offerings. The first instance of the burnt offering is Genesis 8:20, and thereafter in the same book Genesis 15:9, 17; Genesis 22:2, 7, 13. It was manifestly the chiefest of the eucharistic kind of sacrifices, and for manifest reasons also was preceded by a "sin" offering (Exodus 29:36-38; Leviticus 8:14, etc.). (For full details of the ceremonial, sac Leviticus 1, 6, 7, 8, passim) The extraordinary number of the burnt offerings on this and some similar occasions may well excite our wonder (Numbers 7:3, 17; 1 Kings 8:64; 2 Chronicles 4:1 compared with 2 Chronicles 7:7. See also Herod., 'Hist.,' 7:43). The priests, of course, performed the sacrifices at the command of Solomon.
In that night did God appear unto Solomon, and said unto him, Ask what I shall give thee.
Verses 7-12. - The vision and prayer of Solomon, and God's answer to that prayer. (Comp. 1 Kings 3:5-15; 1 Kings 9:2.) Verse 7. - That night. This can mean no other night than that which followed the day (or the days) of sacrifices so multitudinous. The parallel account in 1 Kings 3:5 tells us the way in which "God appeared to Solomon," viz. by dream. The words of God's offer, Ask what I shall give thee, are identical in the parallel place.
And Solomon said unto God, Thou hast shewed great mercy unto David my father, and hast made me to reign in his stead.
Verse 8. - Thou hast showed great mercy unto David my father. These also are the exact words found in the parallel place, but they omit the words, "thy servant," before "David," found there. And hast made me to reign in his stead. This concise expression takes the place of two equivalent expressions, found at the end of the sixth and beginning of the seventh verses in the parallel passage, the former of which passages also describes it as "this great kindness," i.e. kindness on the part of God - a description very much in harmony with David's own grateful acknowledgment to God (1 Kings 1:48). Up to this point our present account differs from its parallel in cutting out Solomon's eulogy of his father ("According as he walked before thee in truth and in righteousness and in uprightness of heart with thee"), and his humbler disparagement of himself ("And I, a little child, know not how to go out or come in").
Now, O LORD God, let thy promise unto David my father be established: for thou hast made me king over a people like the dust of the earth in multitude.
Verse 9. - Now, O Lord God, let thy promise unto David my father be established. This challenge on the part of Solomon, intended, without doubt, most reverently, is not given in the parallel place, and forms not only a distinctive but an interesting additional feature of the present account. It is thought by some that the "promise "here challenged is not very distinctly recorded anywhere, but surely passages like 1 Chronicles 17:12-14; 1 Chronicles 22:10; 1 Chronicles 28:6, 7 amply meet the case. See also 2 Samuel 7:12, 15. King over a people like the dust. It is noteworthy that, though the equivalent of this phrase is found in the parallel, the distinctiveness of this simile is not found there. (For the use of the simile to express a vast number, see Genesis 28:14; Numbers 23:10; Zephaniah 1:17; Zechariah 9:3.) It is not at all of frequent use in Scripture.
Give me now wisdom and knowledge, that I may go out and come in before this people: for who can judge this thy people, that is so great?
Verse 10. - Give me now wisdom and knowledge. The force of the opening of this verse, and the relation of it to the former, are both prejudiced by the "now" (עַתּה) being deposed from its right position as the first word in the verse. For the rest of this verse, the parallel passage has "an understanding heart" in place of our "wisdom and knowledge;" and "that I may discern between good and bad," in place of our that I may go out and come in before this people. In using the words, "wisdom and knowledge," Solomon seems to have remembered well the prayer of his father (1 Chronicles 22:12). (For the pedigree of the simple and effective phrase, "know how to go out and come in," see Numbers 27:17; Deuteronomy 31:2; 1 Samuel 18:13, 16; 2 Samuel 3:25). It is at the same time refreshing to revisit the times when the most exalted nominal ruler was also the real ruler, as being the leader, the judge, the teacher in the highest sense, and "the feeder" of his people. Nor is it less refreshing to notice how, in Israel at least, the fact was so well recognized and honoured, that justice and to judge just judgment lay at the deepest foundation of civil society.
And God said to Solomon, Because this was in thine heart, and thou hast not asked riches, wealth, or honour, nor the life of thine enemies, neither yet hast asked long life; but hast asked wisdom and knowledge for thyself, that thou mayest judge my people, over whom I have made thee king:
Verse 11. - With this verse the answer to Solomon's prayer begins. It is here concisely given in two verses, but occupies five (vers. 10-14) in the parallel place, including the verse not found here, which says, "The speech pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing." Otherwise there is no essential difference of any importance, though it may be noted that the parallel gives voice to the promise of "length of days," on the condition of Solomon fulfilling his part in showing obedience to the Divine will, and in following the steps of his father. Riches, wealth (עשֶׁרנְכָסִים). The most elementary idea of the former of these two words seems to be "straight growth," "prosperity;" of the latter, "to gather together" or "heap up." The former is found first in Genesis 31:16; and in the verb (hiph. conjugation) in Genesis 14:23. Afterwards it is found in almost all of the historical books, in the Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and in the prophets Jeremiah and Daniel. The latter word occurs only five times (Joshua 22:8; in this and the following verses; and in Ecclesiastes 5:19; Ecclesiastes 6:2). Its Chaldee form is also found in Ezra 6:8 and Ezra 7:26. A comparison of these passages scarcely sustains the supposition of some, suggested by the derivation of the word, that it marks specially those stores of useful things which constituted largely the wealth of Old Testament times. Wisdom and knowledge. The distinction between these is evident, as also that they are needful complements of one another for the forming of a catholic, useful, sound character.
Wisdom and knowledge is granted unto thee; and I will give thee riches, and wealth, and honour, such as none of the kings have had that have been before thee, neither shall there any after thee have the like.
Verse 12. - Such as none of the kings... before thee, neither... after thee. These words were sadly ominous of the short-lived glory of the kingdom Only two kings had reigned before Solomon in Israel, and the glory of the kingdom too surely culminated in his reign, and even before the end of it (2 Chronicles 9:22, 23; 1 Chronicles 29:25; Ecclesiastes 2:9). On the other hand, the gratuitous and spontaneous fulness of promise in the Divine reply to a human prayer that "pleased" the Being invoked is most noticeable, and preached beforehand indeed, the lesson of the life of Jesus, "Seek ye first the kingdom... and all these things shall be added unto you" (Matthew 6:33). The contents of this verse are followed in the parallel by the words," And Solomon awoke; and behold it was a dream." There can be no doubt that what is here rehearsed did not lose any force or anything of reality from its transpiring in a dream, of which the abundantly open statement of the method of it, as in "sleep," and in "a dream," may be accepted as the first cogent evidence. But beside this, the frequent recital in the Old Testament of occasions when significant and weighty matters of business import were so conducted by the Divine will forms ample ground and defence for the other class of occasions, of which more spiritual matter was the subject (Genesis 28:12; Genesis 41:7; Genesis 20:3; Genesis 31:10, 24; Genesis 37:5; Genesis 40:5; Genesis 41:32; Judges . 7:15; Job 33:15; Daniel 2:3; Daniel 7:1; Matthew 1:20; Matthew 2:13, 22; Matthew 27:19). On the other hand, side by side with such passages are those that refer to dreams for their emptiness and transiency of impression, when similes of this kind of thing are required (Job 20:8; Psalm 73:20; Psalm 126:1). This is not the place to enter into any argument of a metaphysical or physiological character respecting dreams, and what they may or may not avail. But as some persons know even too well how dreams have brought them most vivid, most torturing, and most exquisite experiences in turn, there will seem, to them at least, the less difficulty in admitting utterly their availableness for communications of highest import, not only from God to man, but under certain conditions from man to God. Without doubt, certain disabilities (and those, perhaps, more especially of the moral kind) attach to our mind in dreams. But do not dreams also find the scene of the keener activities of mind pure? Granted that the mind is then under ordinary circumstances without a certain control and self-commanding power, yet is it also in some large respects much more at liberty from that besetting tyranny of sense with which waking hours are so familiar! Hence its consummate daring and swiftness and versatility in dream beyond all that it knows in the body's waking state.
Then Solomon came from his journey to the high place that was at Gibeon to Jerusalem, from before the tabernacle of the congregation, and reigned over Israel.
Verse 13. - Solomon's return after sacrifice from Gibeon to Jerusalem, and from "before the tabernacle of the congregation" to "before the ark of the covenant of the Lord" in Mount Zion. (1 Kings 3:15) This verse not merely bears the trace of a slightly corrupt text in the presence of the Hebrew preposition: before בָּמָה, where there can be no doubt the preposition ְ should stand, but also suggests (keeping in view our ver. 3, and comparing 1 Kings 3:15) the condensed and cut-down method of Chronicles, and its strong preferences for selecting out of the various material at its command. The tabernacle of the congregation. This styling of the "tabernacle" is of very frequent occurrence. It is found above thirty times in Exodus, and fully as often in Leviticus and Numbers. Afterwards it is sprinkled more rarely in the historical books. The reason of its being styled "the tabernacle of the congregation" (מועֵר) is doubtful - perhaps because of the gatherings of the people in front of it, or possibly because of its being the place where God would meet with Moses. The other name, the tabernacle of "witness" or "testimony" or covenant" (עֵדוּת; Numbers 9:15, etc.), is not unfrequent. Hence the LXX. σκηνὴ τοῦ μαρτυρίου; the Vulgate, tabernaculum testimonii; and Luther's Stifisuitten. This verse very much stints the information contained in the parallel, to the effect that Solomon forthwith took his place before the ark of the covenant in Mount Zion, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings, and gave a feast to all his servants (2 Samuel 6:17-19; 1 Chronicles 16:1-3; Deuteronomy 14:26-29). And he reigned over Israel. These words seem nugatory both in themselves and as placed here. They probably stand for 1 Kings 4:1.
And Solomon gathered chariots and horsemen: and he had a thousand and four hundred chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen, which he placed in the chariot cities, and with the king at Jerusalem.
Verses 14-17. - The attraction to Jerusalem of the signs of wealth - chariots, horses, etc. - on the part of Solomon. The excitement attending the great sacrifices at Gibeon, and before the ark in Jerusalem, had now subsided. And we obtain just a glimpse of the range of thought and purpose present to the mind of the reigning king. The largo expenditure of money would infer without fail the show of brilliant prosperity in the grand city for the time. Whether this would last, and whether it would not infer oppressive taxation somewhere or other (1 Kings 9:15, 21, 22; 1 Kings 10:25) among the people, time would show. Had this expenditure been all to record, none could suppose the commencing of the practical part of the king's reign either sound or auspicious. But, of course, it is to be qualified by other things that were transpiring, with which the parallel acquaints us (e.g. 1 Kings 3:16-28), only in different order. We now, however, begin a rapid and self-contained sketch of the reign of Solomon to his very death (ch. 9.) - the sketch one of marked characteristics, and in consistent keeping with the presumable objects of this work. For it is very much monopolized by the account of the temple. Verse 14. - The contents of this and the following three verses are identical with the parrallel 1 Kings 10:26-29, except that the words, "and gold," of our ver. 15 (2 Chronicles 9:20) are not found there. The position of these four verses in the parallel, towards the close of the account of Solomon, would seem more natural than their position here, which has somewhat the appearance of a fragment interpolated, as on the other hand the account of the harlot-mothers there. Solomon gathered chariots and horsemen. The chariot was no institution of Israel (so Deuteronomy 20:1), neither of their earliest ancestors, nor of those more proximate. The earliest occasions of the mention of it (Genesis 41:43; Genesis 46:29; Genesis 50:9) are in connection with Egypt, and almost all subsequent occasions for a long stretch of time show it in connection with some foreign nation, till we read (2 Samuel 8:4; 1 Chronicles 18:4) of David "reserving horses" unhoughed "for a hundred chariots," apparently also "reserved" out of the very much larger number which he had taken in battle from Hadadezer King of Zobah. The very genius of the character of God's people, a pilgrim-genius, as well as their long-time pilgrim-life, quite accounts for the "chariot," though it be a war-chariot, having never ranked among their treasures (Deuteronomy 17:16; 1 Samuel 8:11). Now, however, Solomon thinks it the time to make it a feature of the nation's power and splendour. He gives the large order for fourteen hundred chariots apparently to Egypt (ver. 17; also ch. 9:28), the appropriate number of horses to which would be probably four thousand (2 Chronicles 9:25; comp. 1 Kings 4:26, where note the corrupt numeral forty thousand, 10:26). Solomon's fourteen hundred chariots were probably intended to exceed the numbers of the Egyptian king (2 Chronicles 12:3; comp. 2 Chronicles 14:6), of Hadadezer's (2 Samuel 8:4; 1 Chronicles 18:4), and of the Syrians (2 Samuel 10:18). But, on the other hand, see 1 Samuel 13:5 and 1 Chronicles 19:7, unless, as seems very probable, the numerals in these places are again incorrect. Dr. Smith's 'Dictionary of the Bible' contains an interesting article on the chariot (vol. 1:295). For significant allusions to the horsemen, reference may be made to 1 Samuel 8:11; 1 Kings 20:20; 2 Kings 2:12; Isaiah 21:7. Twelve thousand horsemen. These probably purport what we should call horse-soldiers, or cavalry. And. it is likely that they come to designate these in virtue of the Hebrew word here used (פָרָשִׁים) meaning horses of the cavalry sort (see Gesenius, 'Lexicon,' sub voce). The chariot cities. In 2 Chronicles 8:5, 6 we are expressly told that Solomon "built" purposely these cities, for the chariots and for the horsemen, just as he built the "store" cities (see also 1 Kings 9:17-19; Xenoph., 'Anab.,' 1:4. § 10).
And the king made silver and gold at Jerusalem as plenteous as stones, and cedar trees made he as the sycomore trees that are in the vale for abundance.
Verse 15. - And gold. The omission of these words in the parallel (1 Kings 10:27) is remarkable in the light of what we read in 2 Chronicles 9:20. We find the contents of this verse again in 2 Chronicles 9:27; as also in the parallel (1 Kings 10:27), just quoted with the exception already named. Cedar trees. The meaning is felled trunks of cedar (1 Chronicles 22:4) (אֲרָזִים). Whether the wood intended is the cedar of Lebanon (Pinus cedrus, or Cedrus conifera), "tall" (Isaiah 2:13; Isaiah 37:24; Amos 2:9), "widespreading" (Ezekiel 31:3), odoriferous, with very few knots, and wonderfully resisting decay, is considered by authorities on such subjects still uncertain. Gesenius, in his 'Lexicon,' sub voc., may be consulted, and the various Bible dictionaries, especially Dr. Smith's, under "Cedar;" and Dr. Kitto's 'Cyclopaedia,' under "Eres." The writer in Dr. Smith's 'Dictionary' suggests that under the one word "cedar," the Pinus cedrus, Pinus deodara, Yew, Taxus baccata, and Pinus sylvestris (Scotch pine) were referred to popularly, and were employed when building purposes are in question. That the said variety was employed is likely enough, but that we are intended to understand this when the word "cedar" is used seems unlikely (see for further indication of this unlikeliness, the instancing of "firs" occasionally with "cedars," 1 Kings 5:10; 1 Kings 9:11; 2 Chronicles 2:8). Sycomore trees (שִׁקְמִים). This word is found always in its present masc. plur. form except once, Psalm 78:47, where the plur. fem. form is found. The Greek equivalent in the Septuagint is always συκάμινος; but in the New Testament, and in the same treatise, i.e. the Gospel according to St. Luke, we find both συκάμινος and συκομωρέα (Luke 17:6 and Luke 19:4 respectively). Now, the former of these trees is the well. known mulberry tree. But the latter is what is called the fig-mulberry, or the sycamore-fig; and this is the tree of the Old Testament. Its fruit resembles the fig, grows on sprigs shooting out of the thick stems themselves of the tree, and each fruit needs to be punctured a few days before gathering, if it is to be acceptable eating (Amos 7:14; Isaiah 9:10). In the vale; i.e. in the lowland country, called the Shefelah. This is the middle one of the three divisions in which Judaea is sometimes described - mountain, lowland, and valley. This lowland was really the lowhills, between mountains and plain, near Lydda and Daroma (the "dry," 1.q. Negeb, Deuteronomy 34:13), while the valley was the valley of Jordan, from Jericho to Engedi (Conder's 'Handbook to the Bible,' pp. 302, 309, 2nd edit.).
And Solomon had horses brought out of Egypt, and linen yarn: the king's merchants received the linen yarn at a price.
Verse 16. - Horses brought.., out of Egypt. Later on we read that horses were imported from other countries as well (2 Chronicles 9:24, 28), as, for instance, from Arabia and Armenia (Ezekiel 27:14). Linen yarn. The words are without doubt wrong here. But it is impossible to say with any certainty what should be in their place. The Vulgate shows here from Coa, presumably meaning Tekoa, a small place on the road from Egypt to Jerusalem. It might not have been easy to surmise, however, so much as this, but for the fact that the Septuagint shows in the parallel place, "And from Tekoa" (Amos 1:1). The Septuagint, however, has for the present place, Καὶ ἡ τιμὴ τῶν ἐμπόρωντοῦ βασίλεως πορεύεσθαι καὶ ἠγόραζον The Hebrew word here translated "linen yarn" is מִקְואֵ (i.q. מִקְוֶה niph. of קָוָה, "to be gathered together").' Gesenius, followed by De Wette (and others), and himself following Piscator (born tire. 1480) and Vatablus (born circ. 1546), would translate the word "company," and read, "a company of the king's merchants took a company (of horses) at a price." Others would translate the word "import;" and read, "the import of the king's merchants was an import at a price," i.e. in money. Neither of these renderings can be considered really satisfactory. Some slight corruption of text still baulks us, therefore.
And they fetched up, and brought forth out of Egypt a chariot for six hundred shekels of silver, and an horse for an hundred and fifty: and so brought they out horses for all the kings of the Hittites, and for the kings of Syria, by their means.
Verse 17. - Six hundred shekels of silver. Some add up in this amount the vehicle itself, harness, horse or horses necessary to it, and the expense of carriage of the whole. Whether or no horses are included may be doubtful. The amount added up reaches, according to various estimates, £90 or £70. If we take the silver shekel at 3s. 4d. according to one of the later authorities (Conder's 'Handbook to the Bible,' p. 81, 2nd edit.), the amount will be £100; and so for a horse £25. For all the kings of the Hittites, and the kings of Syria; see 2 Chronicles 8:7, 8; 2 Chronicles 9:14, 23, 24, 26; 1 Kings 4:21, 24; 2 Kings 7:6; which last place in particular suggests that Solomon would be the more willing to assist neighbouring peoples in the purchase of horses, etc., who might be already tributary to him, or even vassals, or who might in future be in the better position to help him, when either required or hired to do so.