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The Lord appears a second time to Solomon, and assures him that he had heard his prayer; and that he would establish his worship for ever in that temple, and him and his successors on the throne of Israel, provided he and they would keep his statutes and judgments, 1 Kings 9:1-5; but if they should transgress and forsake the Lord, then they should be cast off, the temple itself abandoned, and their enemies permitted to prevail over them, 1 Kings 9:6-9. Solomon having finished the temple and the king‘s house, about which he was employed twenty years, and having received assistance from Hiram king of Tyre, he gave him in return twenty cities in Galilee, with which he was not pleased, 1 Kings 9:10-14. Solomon‘s levies, buildings, and the persons employed, 1 Kings 9:15-23. Pharaoh‘s daughter comes to the city of David, 1 Kings 9:24. He sacrifices thrice a year at the temple, 1 Kings 9:25. Solomon‘s navy, and the gold they brought from Ophir, 1 Kings 9:26-28.
The Lord appeared to Solomon - The design of this appearance, which was in a dream, as that was at Gibeon, was to assure Solomon that God had accepted his service, and had taken that house for his dwelling-place, and would continue it, and establish him and his descendants upon the throne of Israel for ever, provided they served him with an upright heart; but, on the contrary, if they forsook him, he would abandon both them and his temple.
A proverb and a by - word among all people - And so they are to the present; the unbelieving Jews, the stubborn, stiff-necked Jews, are words still in common use. They forsook the Lord, rejected his Christ, and are cast off, their temple destroyed, and they scattered over the face of the earth.
Have taken hold upon other gods - When an indigent person claims the protection of a superior, he casts himself down before him, and lays hold of his feet; and this expression is frequently used when there is no prostration: I have taken hold of thy feet. When a person is called into the presence of the Burman monarch, he is said to go to the golden foot. - Ward‘s Customs.
At the end of twenty years - He employed seven years and a half in building the temple, and twelve years and a half in building the king‘s house; see 1 Kings 7:1; 2 Chronicles 8:1.
Solomon gave Hiram twenty cities - It is very likely that Solomon did not give those cities to Hiram so that they should be annexed to his Tyrian dominions, but rather gave him the produce of them till the money was paid which he had advanced to Solomon for his buildings. It appears however that either Hiram did not accept them, or that having received the produce till he was paid, he then restored them to Solomon; for in the parallel place, 2 Chronicles 8:2, it is said, The cities which Hiram had restored to Solomon, Solomon built them, and caused the children of Israel to dwell there. Some think that they were heathen cities which Solomon had conquered, and therefore had a right to give them if he pleased, as they were not any part of the land given by promise to the Israelites.
Called them the land of Cabul - Whether this epithet was given to this land by Hiram as a mark of disapprobation, or what is its proper meaning, the learned are not agreed. That there was a country of this name in the promised land in the time of Joshua, is evident enough from Joshua 19:27, as it was one part of the boundary of the tribe of Asher; hence some interpret the word border or boundary, and so, the Septuagint understood it, for they have translated the Hebrew word ὁριον , which signifies the same. The margin gives another meaning.
Sixscore talents of gold - This was the sum which Hiram had lent, and in order to pay this Solomon had laid a tax upon his people, as we afterward learn. The whole is very darkly expressed.
This is the reason of the levy - That is, in order to pay Hiram the sixscore talents of gold which he had borrowed from him (Hiram not being willing to take the Galilean cities mentioned above; or, having taken them, soon restored them again) he was obliged to lay a tax upon the people; and that this was a grievous and oppressive tax we learn from 1 Kings 12:1-4, where the elders of Israel came to Rehoboam, complaining of their heavy state of taxation, and entreating that their yoke might be made lighter.
And Millo - This is supposed to have been a deep valley between Mount Sion and what was called the city of Jebus, which Solomon filled up, and it was built on, and became a sort of fortified place, and a place for public assemblies. - See Calmet.
Pharaoh - had gone up, and taken Gezer - This city Joshua had taken from the Canaanites, Joshua 10:33; Joshua 12:12, and it was divided by lot to the tribe of Ephraim, and was intended to be one of the Levitical cities; but it appears that the Canaanites had retaken it, and kept possession till the days of Solomon, when his father-in-law, Pharaoh king of Egypt, retook it, and gave it to Solomon in dowry with his daughter.
And Tadmor in the wilderness - This is almost universally allowed to be the same with the celebrated Palmyra, the ruins of which remain to the present day, and give us the highest idea of Solomon‘s splendor and magnificence. Palmyra stood upon a fertile plain surrounded by a barren desert, having the river Euphrates on the east. The ruins are well described by Messrs. Dawkes and Wood, of which they give fine representations. They are also well described in the ancient part of the Universal History, vol. i., p. 367-70. The description concludes thus: “The world never saw a more glorious city; the pride, it is likely, of ancient times, and the reproach of our own; a city not more remarkable for the state of her buildings and unwontedness of her situation than for the extraordinary personages who once flourished there, among whom the renowned Zenobia and the incomparable Longinus must for ever be remembered with admiration and regret.”
And all the cities of store - Though, by the multitude and splendor of his buildings, Solomon must have added greatly to the magnificence of his reign; yet, however plenteous silver and gold were in his times, his subjects must have been greatly oppressed with the taxation necessary to defray such a vast public expenditure.
A tribute of bond-service - He made them do the most laborious part of the public works, the Israelites being generally exempt. When Sesostris, king of Egypt, returned from his wars, he caused temples to be built in all the cities of Egypt, but did not employ one Egyptian in the work, having built the whole by the hands of the captives which he had taken in his wars. Hence he caused this inscription to be placed upon each temple: -
Ουδεις εγχωριος εις αυτα μεμοχθηκε .
No native has labored in these
Diodor. Sic. Bibl., lib. i., c. 56.
It appears that Solomon might with propriety have placed a similar inscription on most of his works.
Three times in a year did Solomon offer - These three times were:
2.The feast of pentecost.
3.The feast of tabernacles.
A navy of ships - Literally, אני (oni), a ship: in the parallel place, 2 Chronicles 8:17, it is said that Hiram sent him אניות (oniyoth), ships; but it does not appear that Solomon in this case built more than one ship, and this was manned principally by the Tyrians.
And they came to Ophir - No man knows certainly, to this day, where this Ophir was situated. There were two places of this name; one somewhere in India, beyond the Ganges, and another in Arabia, near the country of the Sabaeans, mentioned by Job, Job 22:24: Then shalt thou lay up gold as dust; and the gold of Ophir as the stones of the brooks. And Job 28:16: It cannot be valued with the gold of Ophir, with the precious onyx, or the sapphire. Calmet places this country at the sources of the Euphrates and Tigris.
But there are several reasons to prove that this was not the Ophir of the Bible, which it seems was so situated as to require a voyage of three years long to go out, load, and return. Mr. Bruce has discussed this subject at great length; see his Travels, vol. ii., chap. iv., p. 354, etc. He endeavors to prove
1.That Ezion-geber is situated on the Elanitic branch of the Arabian Gulf or Red Sea.
2.That Tharshish is Moka, near to Melinda, in the Indian Ocean, in about three degrees south latitude.
3.That Ophir lies somewhere in the land of Sofala, or in the vicinity of the Zimbeze river, opposite the island of Madagascar, where there have been gold and silver mines in great abundance from the remotest antiquity. And he proves,
4.That no vessel could perform this voyage in less than Three years, because of the monsoons; that more time need not be employed, and that this is the precise time mentioned in 1 Kings 10:22.
5.That this is the country of the queen of Sheba, or Sabia, or Azeba, who on her visit to Solomon, brought him one hundred and twenty talents of gold, and of spices and precious stones great store, 1 Kings 10:10. And that gold, ivory, silver, etc., are the natural productions of this country.
To illustrate and prove his positions he has given a map on a large scale, “showing the track of Solomon‘s fleet in their three years‘ voyage from the Elanitic Gulf to Ophir and Tharshish;” to which, and his description, I must refer the reader.