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Chapter 5

Solomon’s Riches: International Affairs. [a]Solomon ruled over all the kingdoms from the River[b] to the land of the Philistines, down to the border of Egypt; they paid Solomon tribute and served him as long as he lived. [c]Solomon’s provisions for each day were thirty kors of fine flour, sixty kors of meal, ten fatted oxen, twenty pasture-fed oxen, and a hundred sheep, not counting harts, gazelles, roebucks, and fatted fowl. He had dominion over all the land west of the River, from Tiphsah to Gaza, and all its kings, and he had peace on all his borders round about. (A)Thus Judah and Israel lived in security, everyone under their own vine and fig tree from Dan to Beer-sheba, as long as Solomon lived.

Solomon’s Riches: Chariots and Horses. (B)Solomon had forty thousand stalls for horses for chariots and twelve thousand horsemen. [d]The governors, one for each month, provided food for King Solomon and for all the guests at King Solomon’s table. They left nothing unprovided. For the chariot horses and draft animals also, each brought his quota of barley and straw to the required place.

Solomon’s Renown. (C)Moreover, God gave Solomon wisdom, exceptional understanding, and knowledge, as vast as the sand on the seashore. 10 Solomon’s wisdom surpassed that of all the peoples of the East and all the wisdom of Egypt. 11 He was wiser than anyone else—wiser than Ethan the Ezrahite, or Heman, Chalcol, and Darda, the musicians—and his fame spread throughout the neighboring peoples. 12 Solomon also uttered three thousand proverbs, and his songs numbered a thousand and five. 13 He spoke of plants, from the cedar on Lebanon to the hyssop growing out of the wall, and he spoke about beasts, birds, reptiles, and fishes. 14 (D)People from all nations came to hear Solomon’s wisdom, sent by all the kings of the earth who had heard of his wisdom.

Preparations for the Temple.[e] 15 When Hiram, king of Tyre, heard that Solomon had been anointed king in place of his father, he sent an embassy to him; for Hiram had always been David’s friend.[f] 16 Solomon sent back this message to Hiram: 17 (E)“You know that David my father, because of the wars that beset him, could not build a house for the name of the Lord his God until such time as the Lord should put his enemies under the soles of his feet. 18 But now the Lord, my God, has given me rest on all sides, without adversary or misfortune. 19 (F)So I intend to build a house for the name of the Lord, my God, as the Lord said to David my father: Your son whom I will put upon your throne in your place shall build the house for my name. 20 Give orders, then, to have cedars from the Lebanon cut down for me. My servants shall accompany yours, and I will pay you whatever you say for your servants’ wages. For you know that there is no one among us who is skilled in cutting timber like the Sidonians.” 21 When Hiram had heard the words of Solomon, he was overjoyed, and said, “Blessed be the Lord this day, who has given David a wise son over this numerous people.” 22 [g]Hiram then sent word to Solomon, “I have heard the proposal you sent me, and I will provide all the cedars and fir trees you desire. 23 My servants shall bring them down from the Lebanon to the sea, and I will arrange them into rafts in the sea and bring them wherever you say. There I will break up the rafts, and you shall take the lumber. You, for your part, shall furnish the provisions I desire for my household.” 24 So Hiram continued to provide Solomon with all the cedars and fir trees he desired, 25 while Solomon gave Hiram twenty thousand kors of wheat to provide for his household, and twenty kors[h] of hand-pressed oil. Solomon gave Hiram all this every year. 26 The Lord gave Solomon wisdom as he promised him. So there was peace between Hiram and Solomon, and the two of them made[i] a covenant.

27 King Solomon raised thirty thousand forced laborers from all Israel.[j] 28 He sent them to the Lebanon for a month in relays of ten thousand, so that they spent one month in the Lebanon and two months at home. Adoniram was in charge of the forced labor. 29 Solomon had seventy thousand carriers and eighty thousand stonecutters in the mountain, 30 in addition to three thousand three hundred overseers answerable to Solomon, who were in charge of the work and directed the people engaged in the work. 31 By order of the king, fine, large blocks of stone were quarried to give the house a foundation of hewn stone. 32 Solomon’s and Hiram’s builders, along with others from Gebal,[k] shaped them, and prepared the wood and stones for building the house.

Footnotes

  1. 5:1–32 This translation follows the numeration of the Hebrew Bible, rather than the Vulgate; in many English translations, 5:1–14 is 4:21–34, and 5:15 is 5:1.
  2. 5:1 The River: that is, the Euphrates. This claim may be exaggerated, but “from the Euphrates to the border of Egypt” was the traditional description of the extent of the Davidic holdings.
  3. 5:2 The list of Solomon’s supplies may have originally belonged with the list of governors in 4:7–19, but the author has placed it here to imply that Solomon’s vassal kingdoms, not his own citizenry, supplied his vast daily needs. The daily provisions listed could have supported several thousand people. Kors: see note on Ez 45:14.
  4. 5:7 This verse suggests that the governors also saw to the provender for Solomon’s animals (v. 8).
  5. 5:15–32 The fifth major unit of the Solomon story explains the preparations Solomon made for the construction of the Temple. He negotiates with Hiram of Tyre for materiel (5:15–26), and conscripts a labor force for personnel (5:27–32). Compare 9:11–23, which returns to the same two themes after the Temple has been built and dedicated. 2 Chr 2:1–17 presents another version of the same material.
  6. 5:15 David’s friend: the term “to be a friend,” lit., “to love,” is political, and means that David and Hiram had been allies. The purpose of Hiram’s embassy is to determine whether Solomon is willing to continue the alliance. This unspoken agenda lies behind the negotiations about materials for the Temple, as the concluding v. 26 makes clear.
  7. 5:22–23 Although his reply is couched in polite, diplomatic language, Hiram renegotiates Solomon’s terms in his own favor. No Israelites are to enter Tyrian territory, and Solomon is not to pay the salary of Hiram’s laborers but rather to furnish “provisions” for his household—the same language used of the tribute Solomon received from his own vassals in v. 2.
  8. 5:25 Twenty kors: this means about two thousand gallons of the finest olive oil available, hand-pressed rather than produced in large olive presses, so that no debris (such as crushed olive pits, powder from the grinding stones) would contaminate the oil. Also see note on 2 Chr 2:9.
  9. 5:26 Made: lit., “cut.” The story of Solomon’s arrangements with Hiram is framed by references to political alliance between Israel and Tyre (vv. 15, 26). Since, in Hebrew idiom, Hiram and Solomon “cut” a covenant, this suggests that the agreement they reach for “cutting” wood (which clearly favors Hiram) reflects the terms of the larger treaty.
  10. 5:27 All Israel: see note on 4:7–19.
  11. 5:32 Gebal: Byblos.

Preparations for Building the Temple(A)

[a]When Hiram(B) king of Tyre heard that Solomon had been anointed king to succeed his father David, he sent his envoys to Solomon, because he had always been on friendly terms with David. Solomon sent back this message to Hiram:

“You know that because of the wars(C) waged against my father David from all sides, he could not build(D) a temple for the Name of the Lord his God until the Lord put his enemies under his feet.(E) But now the Lord my God has given me rest(F) on every side, and there is no adversary(G) or disaster. I intend, therefore, to build a temple(H) for the Name of the Lord my God, as the Lord told my father David, when he said, ‘Your son whom I will put on the throne in your place will build the temple for my Name.’(I)

“So give orders that cedars(J) of Lebanon be cut for me. My men will work with yours, and I will pay you for your men whatever wages you set. You know that we have no one so skilled in felling timber as the Sidonians.”

When Hiram heard Solomon’s message, he was greatly pleased and said, “Praise be to the Lord(K) today, for he has given David a wise son to rule over this great nation.”

So Hiram sent word to Solomon:

“I have received the message you sent me and will do all you want in providing the cedar and juniper logs. My men will haul them down from Lebanon to the Mediterranean Sea(L), and I will float them as rafts by sea to the place you specify. There I will separate them and you can take them away. And you are to grant my wish by providing food(M) for my royal household.”

10 In this way Hiram kept Solomon supplied with all the cedar and juniper logs he wanted, 11 and Solomon gave Hiram twenty thousand cors[b] of wheat as food(N) for his household, in addition to twenty thousand baths[c][d] of pressed olive oil. Solomon continued to do this for Hiram year after year. 12 The Lord gave Solomon wisdom,(O) just as he had promised him. There were peaceful relations between Hiram and Solomon, and the two of them made a treaty.(P)

13 King Solomon conscripted laborers(Q) from all Israel—thirty thousand men. 14 He sent them off to Lebanon in shifts of ten thousand a month, so that they spent one month in Lebanon and two months at home. Adoniram(R) was in charge of the forced labor. 15 Solomon had seventy thousand carriers and eighty thousand stonecutters in the hills, 16 as well as thirty-three hundred[e] foremen(S) who supervised the project and directed the workers. 17 At the king’s command they removed from the quarry(T) large blocks of high-grade stone(U) to provide a foundation of dressed stone for the temple. 18 The craftsmen of Solomon and Hiram(V) and workers from Byblos(W) cut and prepared the timber and stone for the building of the temple.

Footnotes

  1. 1 Kings 5:1 In Hebrew texts 5:1-18 is numbered 5:15-32.
  2. 1 Kings 5:11 That is, probably about 3,600 tons or about 3,250 metric tons
  3. 1 Kings 5:11 Septuagint (see also 2 Chron. 2:10); Hebrew twenty cors
  4. 1 Kings 5:11 That is, about 120,000 gallons or about 440,000 liters
  5. 1 Kings 5:16 Hebrew; some Septuagint manuscripts (see also 2 Chron. 2:2,18) thirty-six hundred

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