2 Chronicles 8:1-6
And it came to pass at the end of twenty years, wherein Solomon had built the house of the LORD, and his own house,…
I. PALACE-BUILDING. Like Seti I., Rameses II., and other Pharaohs (Brugsch, 'Egypt,' etc., 2:14), like Uruk, Kham-murabi, and other early Chaldean kings ('Records of the Past,' 1:8; 3:9), like ancient Oriental monarchs generally, Solomon was a great builder. The first twenty years of his reign were occupied in erecting "palaces," or royal residences.
1. A house for Jehovah, the King of kings, i.e. the temple on Moriah, which required seven years for erection (1 Kings 6:37, 88). In according precedence to the temple, Solomon acted both becomingly and rightly. In all undertakings, national, political, social, commercial, as well as individual and religious, not only should God's glory be the governing aim (1 Corinthians 10:31). but God's claims should receive the earliest recognition. God first and self second (not vice versa) is the true order, whatever the business in which man engages. "Honour the Lord with the firstfruits of thine increase" (Proverbs 3:9); "Seek first the kingdom of God and-his righteousness" (Matthew 6:33). A recently published memoir furnishes the following illustration: "'Before we began business.' writes a Christian merchant of his deceased partner, 'we had naturally to arrange articles of partnership. I remember with what earnestness he proposed that we should set aside a certain percentage of our profits for religious and benevolent purposes before any division was made among the partners. His wish was cordially assented to, but the generous purpose originated with him" ('Alexander Balfour: a Memoir,' by R. H. Lundie, M.A., pp. 37, 38).
2. A house for himself, Solomon, the King of Israel, the vicegerent and representative of Jehovah in the midst of the theocratic nation (1 Kings 7:1, 2). Though kings as well as other men may be sinfully prodigal in personal expenditure, in the mansions they dwell in, the luxury they revel in, and the pageantry they appear in, it is nevertheless not demanded by religion either that all should stand upon a level of equality in respect of" manner of life," or that any should practise asceticism. Each station in society has a corresponding "fitness of living," which Christianity allows, and prudence should attempt to discover and maintain. If beggars cannot live in palaces, kings are not expected to dwell in hovels.
3. A house for the daughter of Pharaoh, whom Solomon had espoused in the beginning of his reign (1 Kings 7:8), and had hitherto lodged in the city of David (1 Kings 3:1) until a permanent abode for her should be erected. This Pharaoh is supposed to have been Pashebensba II., the last of the Tanitic or twenty-first dynasty (Lenormant, Winer, Kleinert in Riehm's 'Handworterbuch'), though a claim has been advanced for an earlier potentate of that line, either Pashebensha I. or Pinetem II. (Rawlinson, 'Egypt and Babylon,' p. 331). That he should have given his daughter to Solomon is not surprising when the weakness of the Tanitic dynasty is remembered, and receives confirmation from the fact that an earlier Pharaoh married his daughter Bithia to an ordinary Israelite (1 Chronicles 4:18). As a dowry for his daughter, Gezer (Joshua 12:22), an old Canaanitish town whose king, Horam, was slain by Joshua (Joshua 10:33), without being itself destroyed, and whose inhabitants were not expelled, but only made tributary (Joshua 16:10), was conquered by the Egyptian monarch and presented to Solomon. Sargon (of Assyria) tells us in one of his inscriptions that, having conquered the country of Cilicia with some difficulty, on account of its great natural strength, he made it over to Ambris, King of Tubal, who had married one of his daughters, as the princess's dowry. (Rawlinson, ' Egypt and Babylon,' p. 331). On first marrying the princess, Solomon lodged her in a separate house in the city of David, until this residence was ready for her reception in connection with his own palace (see homily on ver. 11).
II. CITY-BUILDING. The subsequent years of Solomon's reign were so employed.
1. Old cities repaired. (Ver. 2.) In the north-west of Galilee, not far from Tyre. Either they were those Solomon offered to Hiram in payment for the building material, timber and gold, received from him (1 Kings 9:10-14), and Hiram declined to accept (Keil), as either an insufficient recompense, being in his estimation mean and contemptible, whence he called them Cabul (Josephus, 8:5. 3), or as being unsuitable to the commercial habits of his subjects (Jamieson); or they were towns Hiram gave to Solomon in exchange for those he had obtained from Solomon (Jewish interpreters). That the Chronicler has transformed the statement in Kings, because it seemed to him inconceivable that Solomon should have parted with twenty cities standing on Israelitish soil (Bertheau), while a possible hypothesis, is not demonstrable. These towns Solomon, having first wrested them from the Canaanites, repaired and peopled with the children of Israel, to whom, in virtue of God's promise, they really belonged.
2. New cities founded.
(1) Tadmor, or Tamar, "a palm tree" (1 Kings 9:18). in the wilderness, identified with the rich and flourishing city of Palmyra, "the city of palms," in the Syrian desert (Bertheau, Keil, Jamieson), distant "two days' journey from the Upper Syria, and one day's journey from Euphrates, and six long days' journey from Babylon" (Josephus 'Ant.' 8. 6. 1), and still called by the Damascenes Tadmor (Conder, 'Handbook to the Bible,' p, 281); though Tamar, mentioned in Ezekiel 47:19; Ezekiel 48:28) as forming part of the southern boundary of Palestine, has been claimed as the Tadmor here alluded to (Thenius, Bahr, Schrader), on the ground that in 1 Kings 9:17, 18 the building of Tamar is associated with the building of Gezer, Beth-heron, and Baalath, and that Tamar is stated to have been in the wilderness in the land. But the first of these arguments is not conclusive, while the second has force only if Palestine, and not Hamath, is the land meant. (For a description of Tadmor or Palmyra, see Biblical Cyclopsedias.)
3. Existing cities fortified.
(1) Beth-heron, or "the house of the narrow way," an old double town of Ephraim, said to have been built by Sheerah, a daughter or descendant of Ephraim (1 Chronicles 7:24); but as the two Beth-herons, the present Beit-ur-el-Foka and Taehta (Robinson), the upper and the lower, situated in the tribe of Ephraim on the borders of Benjamin, existed in the days of Joshua 9:28), it is probable that Sheerah was "an heiress who had received these places as her inheritance, and caused them to be enlarged by her family" (Keil). Solomon transformed them into garrison cities, with walls, gates, and bars.
(2) Baalah, a town in the tribe of Dan (Joshua 19:44), not far from Beth-heron and Gezer (Josephus), perhaps the modern village Bel'ain (Conder). Though mentioned along with Tadmor, there is no ground for identifying it with Baal-bec or Heliopolis (Ritter and others). This also the king fortified to protect his kingdom against the Philistines.
4. Store cities, etc., erected.
(1) In Hamath-zobah, which Solomon conquered (ver. 3). This territory comprised the well-known town Hamath on the Orontes, ruled over by Ton, and the adjoining state of Zobah, whose king, Hadar-ezer, David smote when he went to establish his dominion by the river Euphrates (1 Chronicles 18:3). Both kings appear to have been rendered tributary to the Israelitish throne as the result of that expedition, and their territories practically annexed to the Israel-itish dominions under the composite name employed by the Chronicler.
(2) In Palestine proper (ver. 6). These "store cities "were not so much deists of merchandise (Ewald, Jamieson) as magazines for victuals, laid up for the convenience of travellers and their beasts (Bertheau), perhaps also for materials of war to aid in the protection of the empire (Bahr). Along with these were chariot cities (cf. 2 Chronicles 1:14), and cities for the horsemen, probably not different from the former (see 2 Chronicles 9:25; 1 Kings 10:26). Learn:
1. Kings should be patterns to their subjects of religion and industry.
2. It is legitimate for princes to look well to the safety of their dominions.
3. The best defences for kingdoms are not muniments, but men. - W.
Parallel VersesKJV: And it came to pass at the end of twenty years, wherein Solomon had built the house of the LORD, and his own house,