1 Kings 5
Pulpit 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.
Verse 1. - And Hiram (In vers. 10, 18, the name is spelled Hirom (חִירום), whilst in Chronicles, with one exception (1 Chronicles 14:1, where the Keri, however, follows the prevailing usage), the name appears as Huram (חוּרָם). In Josephus it is Αἰρωμος. This prince and his friendly relations with the Jews are referred to by the Tyrian historians, of whose materials the Greek writers Dins and Menander of Ephesus (temp. Alexander the Great) availed themselves. According to Dins (quoted by Josephus contr. Apion, 1:17) Hiram was the son of Abibaal. Menander states that the building of the temple was commenced in the twelfth year of Hiram's reign, which lasted 34 years (Jos. Ant. 8:03.1; Contr. Ap. 1:18). Hiram is further said to have married his daughter to Solomon and to have engaged with him in an intellectual encounter which took the shape of riddles] king of Tyre [Heb. צור, rock, so called because of the rocky island on which old Tyro was built, sometimes called מִבְצַר לֺצר, the fortress of, or fortified Tyro (Joshua 19:29; 2 Samuel 24:7, etc.) The capital of Phoenicia. In earlier times, Sidon would seem to have been the more important town; hence the Canaanites who inhabited this region were generally called Zidonians, as in ver. 6] sent his servants [legatos, Vatablus] unto Solomon [The Vat. LXX. has here a strange reading, "To anoint Solomon," etc. The object of this embassy was evidently to recognize and congratulate the youthful king (the Syriac has a gloss, "and he blessed him," which well represents one object of the embassy) and at the same time to make overtures of friendship. An alliance, or good understanding, with Israel was then, as at a later period (Acts 12:20) of great importance to them of Tyre and Sidon. Their narrow strip of seaboard furnished no corn lands, so that their country depended upon Israel for its nourishment]; for he had heard that they had anointed him king in the room of David his father [i.e., he had heard of the death of David and the accession of Solomon; possibly of the events narrated in chap. 1.]: for Hiram was ever [Heb. all the days: i.e., of their reigns; so long as they were contemporary sovereigns] a lover of David.
And Solomon sent to Hiram, saying,
Verse 2. - And Solomon sent to Hiram. [According to Josephus (Ant. 8:02. 6), he wrote a letter, which together with Hiram's reply (ver. 8) was preserved among the public archives of Tyro. The account of 2 Chronicles 2, which as a rule is more detailed than that of the Kings, begins here. It does not notice, that is to say, the prior embassy of the Phoenician king, as the object of the chronicler is merely to narrate the measures taken for the erection of the temple], saying [The return embassy gave Solomon the opportunity to ask for the timber, etc., that he desired.]
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.
Verse 3. - Thou knowest how that David my father could not build an house [Hiram could not fail to know this, as his relations with David had been close and intimate. Not only had he "sent cedar trees and carpenters and masons" to build David's house (2 Samuel 5:11), but "they of Tyro brought much cedar wood to David" (1 Chronicles 22:4) for the house of the Lord] unto the name of the Lord [i.e., to be dedicated to the Lord as His shrine and habitation (cf. Deuteronomy 12:5, 11; and ch. 8:18, 19, 20, etc.)] for the wars [Heb., war. As we have singular noun and plural verb, Ewald, Rawlinson, al. assume that war stands for adversaries, as the next clause seems to imply. Bahr and Keil, however, with greater reason, interpret, "for the war with which they surrounded him;" a construction (סָבַב with double accusative) which is justified by Psalm 109:3] until the Lord put them under the soles of his feet [until, i.e., He trampled them down. The same image is found in some of David's psalms, e.g., Psalm 7:5; Psalm 60:12; cf. Psalm 8:6; Psalm 91:13; Isaiah 63:3; Romans 16:20; Ephesians 1:22; Hebrews 2:8.]
But now the LORD my God hath given me rest on every side, so that there is neither adversary nor evil occurrent.
Verse 4. - But now the Lord my God hath given me rest [In fulfilment of the promise of 1 Chronicles 22:9. David had had a brief rest (2 Samuel 7:1), Solomon's was permanent. He was "a man of rest"] on every side [Heb. round about, same word as in ver. 3, and in 1 Chronicles 22:9], so that there is neither adversary [Hadad and Rezon, of whom this word is used (1 Kings 11:14, 23), apparently belonged to a somewhat later period of his reign] nor evil occurrent [Rather, "occurrence," or "plague" (פֶגֵע), i.e., "rebellion, famine, pestilence, or other suffering" (Bahr). David had had many such "occurrences" (2 Samuel 15:14; 2 Samuel 20:1; 2 Samuel 21:1; 2 Samuel 24:15).]
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.
Verse 5. - And, behold, I purpose [Heb. behold me saying (אָמַר, with infin, expresses purpose. Cf. Exodus 2:14; 2 Samuel 21:16)] to build an house unto the name of the Lord my God, as the Lord spake unto David my father, saying [2 Samuel 7:12, 13. He thus gives Hiram to understand that he is carrying out his father's plans, and plans which had the Divine sanction, and that this is no fanciful project of a young prince], Thy son whom I will set upon thy throne in thy room, he shall build an [Heb. the] house unto my name.
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.
Verse 6. - Now therefore command thou that they hew me cedar trees out of Lebanon [Heb. the Lebanon, i.e., the White (so. mountain). "It is the Merit Blanc of Palestine" (Porter); but whether it is so called because of its summits of snow or because of the colour of its limestone is uncertain. Practically, the cedars are now found in one place only, though Ehrenberg is said to have found them in considerable numbers to the north of the road between Baalbek and Tripoli. "At the head of Wady Kadisha there is a vast recess in the central ridge of Lebanon, some eight miles in diameter. Above it rise the loftiest summits in Syria, streaked with perpetual snow... In the very centre of this recess, on a little irregular knoll, stands the clump of cedars" (Ibid., Handbook, 2 p. 584), over 6,000 feet above the level of the sea. It would seem as if that part of Lebanon where the cedars grew belonged to Hiram's dominion. "The northern frontier of Canaan did not reach as far as Bjerrsh" (Keil), where the cedar grove is now. The idea of some older writers that the cedars belonged to Solomon, and that he only asked Hiram for artificers ("that they hew me cedar trees," etc.) is negatived by ver. 10. It is true that "all Lebanon" was given to Israel (Joshua 13:5), but they did not take it. They did not drive out the Zidonians (ver. 6; Judges 1:31) or possess" the land of the Giblites" (ver. 5; Judges 3:3). It should be stated here, however, that the cedar of Scripture probably included other varieties than that which now, alone bears the name (see on ver. 8)], and my servants shall be with Shy servants [i.e., sharing and lightening the work]: and unto thee will I give hire for thy servants [Solomon engaged to pay and did pay both Hiram and his subjects for the services of the latter, and he paid both in kind. See below, on ver. 11] according to all that thou shalt appoint [This would seem to have been 20,000 measures of wheat and 20 measures of pure oil annually, ver. 11]: for thou knowest that there is not among us any that can skill [Heb. knoweth, same word as before] to hew timber like unto the Zidonlans [Propter vicina nemora. Grotius, Sidou (Heb. צִידון), means "fishing." See note on ver. 18. By profane, as well as sacred writers, the Phoenicians are often described by the name Zidonians, no doubt for the reason mentioned in the note on ver. 1. See Homer, Iliad 6:290; 23. 743; Odys. 4:84, 618; 17:4.24. Cf. Virg. AEn. 1. 677, 678; 4:545, etc. Genesis 10:15; Judges 1:31; Judges 3:3; 1 Kings 11:1, 33, etc. "The mechanical skill of the Phoenicians generally, and of the Zidonians in particular, is noticed by many ancient writers," Rawlinson, who cites instances in his note. But what deserves especial notice here is the fact that the Zidonians constructed their houses of wood, and were celebrated from the earliest times as skilful builders. The fleets which the Phoenicians constructed for purposes of commerce would ensure them a supply of clever workmen. Wordsworth aptly remarks on the part the heathen thus took in rearing a temple for the God of Jacob. Cf. Isaiah 60:10, 13.]
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.
Verse 7. - And It came to pass, when Hiram heard the words of Solomon [reported by his ambassadors], that he rejoiced greatly [see note on ver. 1. The continuance of the entente cordiale was ensured], and said, Blessed be the Lord [In 2 Chronicles 2:12, "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel that made heaven and earth." We are not warranted by the expression of the text in concluding that Hiram believed in the exclusive divinity of the God of Israel, or "identified Jehovah with Melkarth his god" (Rawlinson), much less that he was proselyte to the faith of David and Solomon. All that is certain is that he believed the Jehovah as God was quite compatible with the retention of a firm faith in Baa1 and Astarte. It is also possible that he here adopts a language which he knew would be acceptable to Solomon, or the historian may have given us his thoughts in a Hebrew dread It is noticeable that the LXX. has simply εὐλογητὸς ὁ θεὸς] which hath given unto David a wise son [Compare 1 Kings 1:48; 1 Kings 2:9. The proof of wisdom lay in Solomon's fulfilling his wise father's purposes, and in his care for the worship of God. "Wise," however, is not used here in the sense of "pious," as Bahr affirms. In Hiram's lips the word meant discreet, sagacious. He would hardly recognize the fear of the Lord as the beginning of wisdom] over this great people.
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.
Verse 8. - And Hiram sent to Solomon [in writing, 2 Chronicles 2:11. It is instructive to remember in connexion with this fact that, according to the universal belief of antiquity, the use of letters, i.e., the art of writing, was communicated to the Greeks by the Phoenicians. Gesenius, indeed, holds that the invention of letters is also due to them. See the interesting remarks of Mr. Twisleton, Dict. Bib. 2. pp. 866-868], saying, I have considered the things which thou sentest unto me for [Heb. heard the things (i.e., message) which thou sentest unto me]: and I will do all thy desire concerning [Heb. in, i.e., as to] timber [or trees] of cedar [Heb. cedars] and timber of fir [Heb. trees of cypresses. This is, perhaps, the proper place to inquire what. trees are intended by the words אֶרֶז, and בְּרושׁ, here respectively translated" cedar" and "fir." As to the first, it is impossible to restrict the word to the one species (Pinus cedrus or Cedrus Libani) which is now known as the cedar of Lebanon, or, indeed, to any single plant. That the Cedrus Libani, one of the most magnificent of trees, is meant in such passages as Ezekiel 31, Psalm 92:12, etc., admits of no manner of doubt. It is equally clear, however, that in other passages the term "cedar" must refer to some other tree. In Numbers 19:6, and Leviticus 14:6, e.g., the juniper would seem to be meant. "The cedar could not have been procured in the desert without great difficulty, but the juniper (Juniperus oxycedrus) is most plentiful there." (The "cedar" of our pencils, it may be remarked, is a kind of juniper - Juniperus Bermudiana.) In Ezekiel 27:5, "they have taken cedars of Lebanon to make masts for thee," it is probable that the Pinus Halepensis, not, as was formerly thought, the Scotch fir (Pinus sylvestris), is intended. The Cedrus Libani appears to be indifferently adapted to any such purpose, for which, however, the Pinus Halepensis is eminently fitted. But in the text, as throughout ch. 5-8, the reference, it can hardly be doubted, is to the Cedrus Libani. It is true the wood of this species is neither beautiful nor remarkably durable. Dr. Lindley calls it the "worthless, though magnificent cedar," but the former adjective, however true it may be of English-grown cedar, cannot justly be applied to the tree of the Lebanon mountain. The writer has some wood in his possession, brought by him from the Lebanon, and though it has neither fragrance nor veining, it is unmistakably a hard and resinous wood. And it should be remembered that it was only employed by Solomon in the interior of the temple, and was there, for the most part, overlaid with gold, and that the climate of Palestine is much less destructive than our own. There seems to be no sufficient reason, therefore, for rejecting the traditional and till recently universal belief that the Cedrus Libani was the timber chosen for the temple use. Mr. Houghton, in Smith's Dict. Bib., vol. 3. App. A. p. 40, who speaks of it "as being κατ ἐξοχὴν, the firmest and grandest of the conifers," says at the same time that "it has no particular quality to recommend it for building purposes; it was probably therefore not very extensively used in the construction of the temple." But no other tree can be suggested which better suits the conditions of the sacred narrative. The deodara, which has found favour with some writers, it is now positively stated, does not grow near the Lebanon. It may be added that, under the name of Eres, the yew was probably included. The timber used in the palaces of Nineveh, which was long believed to be cedar, is now proved to be yew (Dict. Bib., art. "Cedar"). However it is certain that אֶרֶז is a nomen generale which includes, at any rate, the pine, the cedar, and the juniper, in confirmation of which it may be mentioned that at the present day, "the name arz is applied by the Arabs to all three" (Royle, in Kitto's Cyclop., art. "Eres"). The Grove of Cedars now numbers about 450 trees, great and small. Of these about a dozen are of prodigious size and considerable antiquity, possibly carrying us back (as the natives think) to the time of Solomon. Their precise age, however, can only be a matter of conjecture. The identification of the "fir" is even more precarious than that of the cedar. Celsius would see in this the true cedar of Lebanon. Others identify it with the juniper (Juniperus excelsa) or with the Pinus Halepensis, but most writers (among whom are Keil and Bahr) believe the evergreen cypress (Cupressus sempervirens) to be intended. Very probably the name Berosh comprehended two or three different species, as the cypress, the juniper, and the savine. The first named grows even near the summits of the mountain. Bahr says it is inferior to cedar (but see above). According to Winer, it is well fitted for building purposes, as" it is not eaten by worms, and is almost imperishable and very light." It is certainly of a harder and closer grain, and more durable than the Cedrus Libani. It shows the brevity of our account that Solomon has not mentioned his desire for "fir" as well as" cedar." This is disclosed in Hiram's reply, and in the parallel passage of the chronicler. It is also to be noticed that in the text the request for materials is more prominently brought to view, while in Chronicles the petition is for workmen.
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.
Verse 9. - My servants shall bring them [No word in the Hebrew; "Timber of Cedar," etc., must be supplied or understood from the preceding verse] down [It is generally a steep descent from the cedar grove, and indeed all the Lebanon district, to the coast] from Lebanon unto the sea [This must have been a great undertaking. The cedars are ten hours distant from Tripoli, and the road must always have been a bad one. ("What a road it is for mortals. In some spots it seems to have been intended for mountain goats only ..... It winds up sublime glens, and zigzags up rocky acclivities, and passes over stone-strewn terraces," etc. (Porter, Handbook, p. 583.) To the writer it appeared to be the most rugged and dangerous road in Palestine. It is possible that the timber was collected and floated at Gebal (Biblus. See note on ver. 18). Beyrout, the present port of the Lebanon, is 27 hours distant via Tripoli. But cedars would then, no doubt, be found nearer the sea. And the ancients (as the stones of Baalbek, etc., prove) were not altogether deficient in mechanical appliances. The transport of cedars to the Mediterranean would be an easy undertaking compared with the carriage of them to Nineveh, and we know from the inscriptions that they were imported by the Assyrian kings] and I will convey them by sea in floats [Heb. "I will make (or put) them rafts in the sea." This was the primitive, as it was the obvious, way, of conveying timber, among Greeks and Romans, as well as among Eastern races. The reader will probably have seen such rafts on the Rhine or other river] unto the place which thou shalt appoint [Heb. send] me [In 2 Chronicles 2:16, Hiram assumes that this place will be Joppa, now Yafo, the port of Jerusalem, and 40 miles distant from the Holy City. The transport over these 40 miles, also of most rugged and trying road, must have involved, if possible, a still greater toil than that from Lebanon to the sea] and will cause them to be discharged there, and thou shalt receive them: and thou shalt accomplish [Heb. do, same word as in ver. 8, and probably used designedly - "I will perform thy desire.., and thou shalt perform my desire." There shall be a strict quid pro quo] my desire, in giving food for my household [Hiram states in his reply in what shape he would prefer the hire promised by Solomon (ver. 6). The food for the royal household must be carefully distinguished from the food given to the workmen (2 Chronicles 2:10). The fact that 20,000 ears of wheat formed a part of each has led to their being confounded (e.g. in the marginal references). It is noticeable that when the second temple was built, cedar wood was again brought to Jerusalem, rid Joppa, in return for "meat and drink and oil unto them of Zidon" (Ezra 3:7). The selection of food as the hire of his servants by Hiram almost amounts to an undesigned coincidence. Their narrow strip of cornland, between the roots of Lebanon and the coast - Phoenicia proper ("the great plain of the city of Sidon," Josephus. Ant. 5:03, 1) is only 28 miles long, with an average breadth of one mile-compelled the importation of corn and oil. Ezekiel (Ezekiel 27:17) mentions wheat, honey, oil, and balm as exported from Palestine to the markets of Tyre. It has been justly remarked that the fact that Phoenicia was thus dependent upon Palestine for its breadstuffs explains the unbroken peace that prevailed between the two countries (Heeren. See Dict. Bib. if. p. 865).
So Hiram gave Solomon cedar trees and fir trees according to all his desire.
Verse 10. - So Hiram gave [Heb. kept giving, supplied] Solomon cedar trees and fir [or cypress] trees, according to all his desire.
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.
Verse 11. - And Solomon gave Hiram twenty thousand measures [Heb. cots. See 1 Kings 4:22] of wheat for food [מכלת for מאכלת] to his household [Rawlinson remarks that this was much less than Solomon's own consumption (1 Kings 4:22). But he did not undertake to feed Hiram's entire court, but merely to make an adequate return for the timber and labour he received. And the consumption of fine flour in Solomon's household was only about 11,000 cors per annum] and twenty measures of pure oil [lit., beaten oil, i.e., such as was obtained by pounding the olives, when not quite ripe, in a mortar. This was both of whiter colour and purer flavour, and also gave a clearer light, than that furnished by the ripe olives in the press. See the authorities quoted in Bahr's Symbolik, 1. p. 419]: thus gave Solomon to Hiram year by year [probably so long as the building lasted or timber was furnished. But the agreement may have been for a still longer period.]
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.
Verse 12. - And the Lord gave [Can there be any reference to the repeated "gave" of the two preceding verses?] to Solomon wisdom, as he promised him (1 Kings 3:12) and there was peace [one fruit of the gift. Cf. James 3:17] between Hiram and Solomon, and they two made a league together [Heb. "cut a covenant." Cf. ὅρκια τέμνειν. Covenants were ratified by the slaughter of victims, between the parts of which the contracting parties passed (Genesis 15:18; Jeremiah 34:8, 18, 19). Similarly σπονδή, "libation," in the plural, means "league, truce," and σπονδὰς τέμνειν is found in classic Greek.]
And king Solomon raised a levy out of all Israel; and the levy was thirty thousand men.
Verse 13. - And King Solomon raised a levy [Marg., tribute of men, i.e., conscription] out of all Israel [i.e., the people, not the land - Ewald] and the levy was thirty thousand men. [That is, if we may trust the figures of the census given in 2 Samuel 24:9 (which do not agree, however, with those of 1 Chronicles 21:5), the conscription only affected one in forty of the male population. But even the lower estimate of Samuel is regarded with some suspicion. Such a levy was predicted (1 Samuel 8:16).
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.
Verse 14. - And he sent them to Lebanon ten thousand a month, by courses [Heb. changes]: a month they were in Lebanon, and two months at home [they had to serve, that is to say, four months out of the twelve - no very great hardship], and Adoniram [see on 1 Kings 4:6; 12:18] was over the levy.
And Solomon had threescore and ten thousand that bare burdens, and fourscore thousand hewers in the mountains;
Verse 15. - And Solomon had threescore and ten thousand that bare burdens, and fourscore thousand hewers in the mountains. [These 150,000, destined for the more laborious and menial works, were not Israelites, but Canaanites. We learn from 2 Chronicles 2:17, 18 that "all the strangers that were in the land of Israel" were subjected to forced labour by Solomon - there were, that is to say, but 150,000 of them remaining. They occupied a very different position from that of the 30,000 Hebrews. None of the latter were reduced to bondage (1 Kings 9:22), while the former had long been employed in servile work. The Gibeonites were reduced to serfdom by Joshua (Joshua 9:27), and the rest of the Canaanites as they were conquered (Joshua 6:10; Joshua 17:13; Judges 1:29, 30). In 1 Chronicles 22:2, we find some of them employed on public works by David. By the "hewers" many commentators have supposed that stonecutters alone are intended (so Jos., Ant., 8:02.9) partly because stone is mentioned presently, and partly because חָצַב is mostly used of the quarrying or cutting of stone, as in Deuteronomy 6:11; Deuteronomy 8:9; 2 Kings 12:12, etc. Gesenius understands the word both of stone and wood cutters. But is it not probable that the latter alone are indicated? That the word is sometimes used of woodcutting Isaiah 10:15 shows. And the words, "in the mountain" (בָּהָר) almost compel us so to understand it here. "The mountain" must be Lebanon. But surely the stone was not transported, to any great extent, like the wood, so great a distance over land and sea, especially when it abounded on the spot. (The tradition that the stone was quarried at Baalbek is quite unworthy of credence. It has no doubt sprung from the huge stones found there. "The temple was built of the beautiful white stone of the country, the hard missal" (Warren, p. 60.) It is true the number of wood cutters would thus appear to be very great, but it is to be remembered how few comparatively were the appliances or machines of those days: almost everything must be done by manual labour. And Pliny tells us that no less than 360,000 men were employed for twenty years on one of the pyramids. It is possible, however, that the huge foundations mentioned below (ver. 17) were brought from Lebanon.]
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.
Verse 16. - Beside [without counting] the chief of Solomon's officers [Heb. the princes of the overseers, i.e., the princes who acted as overseers, principes qui praefecti erant (Vatabl.)] which were over the work three thousand and three hundred [This large number proves that the "chiefs of the overseers" cannot be meant. Were all the 3,300 superior officers, there must have been quite an army of subalterns. But we read of none. In 1 Kings 9:23, an additional number of 550 "princes of the overseers" (same expression) is mentioned, making a total of 3,850 superintendents, which agrees with the total stated in the Book of Chronicles. It is noteworthy, however, that the details differ from those of the Kings. In 2 Chronicles 2:17 we read of a body of 3,600 "overseers to set the people a work," whilst in 1 Kings 8:10 mention is made of 250 "princes of the overseers." These differences result, no doubt, from difference of classification and arrangement (J.H. Michaelis). In Chronicles the arrangement is one of race, i.e., 3,600 aliens גּרֵים; cf. 2 Chronicles 2:18) and 250 Israelites, whilst in Kings it is one of status, i.e., 3,300 inferior and 550 superior officers. It follows consequently that all the inferior and 300 of the superior overseers were Canaanites] which ruled over the people that wrought in the work.
And the king commanded, and they brought great stones, costly stones, and hewed stones, to lay the foundation of the house.
Verse 17. - And the king commanded and they brought [or cut out, quarried (Gesen.), as in Ecclesiastes 10:9; see also ch. 6:7 (Heb.) ] great stones, costly [precious, not heavy, as Thenius. Cf. Psalm 36:8; Psalm 45:9; Esther 1:4 in the Heb.], stones and [omit and. The hewed stones were the great and costly stones] hewed stones [or squared (Isaiah 9:10; cf. 1 Kings 6:36; 1 Kings 7:9; 1 Kings 11:12). We learn from 1 Kings 7:10 that the stones of the foundation of the palace were squared to 8 cubits and 10 cubits] to lay the foundation of the house. [Some of these great squared stones, we can hardly doubt, are found in situ at the present day. The stones at the south-east angle of the walls of the Haram (Mosque of Omar) are "unquestionably of Jewish masonry" (Porter, Handbook, p. 115). "One is 23 2:9 in. long; whilst others vary from 17 to 20 feet in length. Five courses of them are nearly entire" (ib.) As Herod, in rebuilding the edifice, would seem to have had nothing to do with the foundations, we may safely connect these huge blocks with the time of Solomon. It is also probable that some at least of the square pillars, ranged in fifteen rows, and measuring five feet each side, which form the foundations of the Mosque El Aksa, and the supports of the area of the Haram, are of the same date and origin (cf. Ewald, Hist. Israel, 3:233). Porter holds that they are "coeval with the oldest part of the external walls." Many of them, the writer observed, were monoliths. The extensive vaults which they enclose are unquestionably "the subterranean vaults of the temple area" mentioned by Josephus (B.J. 5:3. 1), and the "cavati sub terra montes" of Tacitus. It may be added here that the recent explorations in Jerusalem have brought to light many evidences of Phoenician handiwork.]
And Solomon's builders and Hiram's builders did hew them, and the stonesquarers: so they prepared timber and stones to build the house.
Verse 18. - And Solomon's builders and Hiram's builders did hew them, and the stone squarers: [the marg. Giblites, i.e., people of Gebal, is to be preferred. For Gebal ( = mountain) see Joshua 13:5 ("the land of the Giblites and Lebanon"); Psalm 83:7 ("Gebal and they of Tyro"); and Ezekiel 27:9, where the LXX. translate the word Biblus, which was the Greek name of the city and district north of the famous river Adonis, on the extreme border of Phoenicia. It is now known as Jebeil. It has been already remarked that Tyre and Sidon, as well as Gebal, have Hebrew meanings. These are among the proofs of the practical identity of the Hebrew and Phoenician tongues. The Aramaean immigrants (Deuteronomy 26:5; Genesis 12:5) no doubt adopted the language of Canaan (Dict. Bib., art. "Phoenicians"). Keil renders, "even the Giblites." He would understand, i.e., that the Zidonian workmen were Giblites; but this is doubtful. The Giblites are selected, no doubt, for special mention because of the prominent part they took in the work. Gebal, as its ancient and extensive ruins prove, was a place of much importance, and lying as it did on the coast, and near the cedar forests, would naturally have an important share in the cutting and shipping of the timber. Indeed, it is not improbable that it was at this port that the land transport ended, and the rafts were made. A road ran anciently from Gebal to Baalbak, so that the transport was not impracticable. But as the forests were probably of great extent, there may have been two or three depots at which the timber was floated] so they prepared timber [Heb. the timber] and stones [Heb. the stones] to build the house. [The LXX. (Vat. and Alex. alike) add here, "three years." It is barely possible that these words may have dropped out of the text, but they look more like a gloss, the inference from the chronological statement of 1 Kings 6:1.]

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