1 Kings 4

CHAPTER IV

An account of Solomon's chief officers, 1-6.

Names of the twelve officers that were over twelve districts,

to provide victuals for the king's household monthly, 7-19.

Judah and Israel are very populous; and Solomon reigns over

many provinces, 20, 21.

The daily provision for his family, 22, 23.

The extent and peace of his dominions, 24, 25.

His horses, chariots, and dromedaries; with the provision made

for them, 26-28.

His wisdom and understanding, 29-31.

The number of his proverbs and songs; and his knowledge in

natural history, 32, 33.

People from all nations come to hear his wisdom, 34.

NOTES ON CHAP. IV

Verse 2. These were the princes which he had; Azariah the son of

Zadok the priest.] These were his great, chief, or principal

men. None of them were princes in the common acceptation of the

word.

Verse 3. Elihoreph and Ahiah-scribes] Secretaries to the king.

Jehoshaphat-recorder] Historiographer to the king, who

chronicled the affairs of the kingdom. He was in this office under

David see 2Sa 20:24.

Verse 5. Azariah-was over the officers] He had the

superintendence of the twelve officers mentioned below; see

1Ki 4:7.

Zabud-was principal officer] Perhaps what we call premier, or

prime minister.

The king's friend] His chief favourite-his confidant.

Verse 6. Ahishar was over the household] the king's

chamberlain.

Adoniram-was over the tribute.] What we call chancellor of the

exchequer. He received and brought into the treasury all the

proceeds of taxes and tributes. He was in this office under David;

see 2Sa 20:24.

Verse 7. Twelve officers] The business of these twelve officers

was to provide daily, each for a month, those provisions which

were consumed in the king's household; see 1Ki 4:22, 23. And the

task for such a daily provision was not an easy one.

Verse 13. Threescore great cities with walls and brazen bars]

These were fortified cities: their gates and bars covered with

plates of brass. Such were the gates in Priam's palace:-

Ipse inter primos correpta dura bipenni

Limina perrumpit, POSTES que a cardine vellit

AERATOS. VIRG. AEn., lib. ii. ver. 479.

Fierce Pyrrhus in the front, with forceful sway,

Plied the huge axe, and hew'd the beams away;

The solid timbers from the portal tore,

And rent from every hinge the BRAZEN door.

PITT.

Verse 20. Eating and drinking, and making merry.] They were very

comfortable, very rich, very merry, and very corrupt. And this

full feeding and dissipation led to a total corruption of manners.

Verse 21. Solomon reigned over all kingdoms] The meaning of this

verse appears to be, that Solomon reigned over all the provinces

from the river Euphrates to the land of the Philistines, even to

the frontiers of Egypt. The Euphrates was on the east of Solomon's

dominions; the Philistines were westward on the Mediterranean sea;

and Egypt was on the south. Solomon had, therefore, as

tributaries, the kingdoms of Syria, Damascus, Moab, and Ammon,

which lay between the Euphrates and the Mediterranean. See Calmet.

Thus he appears to have possessed all the land that God covenanted

with Abraham to give to his posterity.

Verse 22. Solomon's provision for one day:-

Of fine flour . . . . . . 30 measures, or cors.

Of meal . . . . . . . . . 60 ditto.

Stall-fed oxen. . . . . . 10

Ditto from the pasture. . 20

Sheep . . . . . . . . . . 100; with harts, roebucks, fallow

deer, and fat fowls.

The cor was the same as the homer, and contained nearly

seventy-six gallons, wine measure, according to Bishop

Cumberland.

Sheep] tson, comprehending both sheep and goats.

Harts] meaiyal, the deer.

Roebucks] tsebi, the gazal, antelope, or wild goat.

Fallow deer] yachmur, the buffalo. See the notes on

De 12:15; 14:5.

Fatted fowl.] barburim abusim, I suppose, means

all the wild fowls in season during each month. Michaelis derives

barburim from bara, which in Chaldee, Syriac, and

Arabic, signifies a field, a desert; all that is without the

cities and habitations of men: hence cheyvath bara, wild

beasts, Da 2:38,

tor bar, wild bull; and therefore barburim may signify

creatures living in the fields, woods, and deserts, which are

taken by hunting, and opposed to those which are domesticated;

and, consequently, may include beasts as well as fowls. Many have

translated the word capons; but, query, was any such thing known

among the ancient Jews? Solomon's table, therefore, was spread

with all the necessaries and delicacies which the house or the

field could afford.

But how immense must the number of men have been who were fed

daily at the palace of the Israelitish king! Vilalpandus computes

the number to be not less than forty-eight thousand, six hundred;

and Calvisius makes, by estimation from the consumption of food,

fifty-four thousand! These must have included all his guards,

each of whom received a ration from the king's store.

Verse 25. Every man under his vine] They were no longer obliged

to dwell in fortified cities for fear of their enemies; they

spread themselves over all the country, which they everywhere

cultivated; and had always the privilege of eating the fruits of

their own labours. This is the meaning of the phrase.

Verse 26. Solomon had forty thousand stalls of horses-and twelve

thousand horsemen.] In 2Ch 9:25, instead of

forty thousand stalls, we read four thousand; and even this

number might be quite sufficient to hold horses for twelve

thousand horsemen; for stalls and stables may be here

synonymous. In 1Ki 10:26 it is said he had

one thousand four hundred chariots, and twelve thousand

horsemen; and this is the reading in 2Ch 1:14. In 2Ch 9:25,

already quoted, instead of forty thousand stalls for horses, the

Septuagint has τεσσαρεςχιλιαδεςθηλειαιιπποι, four thousand

mares; and in this place the whole verse is omitted both by the

Syriac and Arabic. In the Targum of Rabbi Joseph on this book we

have arba meah, four hundred, instead of the four

thousand in Chronicles, and the forty thousand in the text. From

this collation of parallel places we may rest satisfied that there

is a corruption in the numbers somewhere; and as a sort of

medium, we may take for the whole four thousand stalls, one

thousand four hundred chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen.

Verse 28. And dromedaries] The word rechesh, which we

translate thus, is rendered beasts, or beasts of burden, by the

Vulgate; mares by the Syriac and Arabic; chariots by the

Septuagint; and race-horses by the Chaldee. The original word

seems to signify a very swift kind of horse, and race-horse or

post-horse is probably its true meaning. To communicate with so

many distant provinces, Solomon had need of many animals of this

kind.

Verse 29. God gave Solomon wisdom, &c.] He gave him a capacious

mind, and furnished him with extraordinary assistance to cultivate

it.

Even as the sand that is on the sea-shore.] Lord Bacon

observes on this: "As the sand on the sea-shore encloses a great

body of waters, so Solomon's mind contained an ocean of

knowledge." This is a happy and correct illustration.

Verse 30. The children of the east country] That is the

Chaldeans, Persians, and Arabians, who, with the Egyptians, were

famed for wisdom and knowledge through all the world.

Verse 31. He was wiser than all men] He was wiser than any of

those who were most celebrated in his time, among whom were the

four after mentioned, viz., Ethan, Heman, Chalcol, and Darda.

Ethan was probably the same as is mentioned in some of the Psalms,

particularly Ps 89:1, title; and among the singers in 1Ch 6:42.

There is a Heman mentioned in the title to Ps 88:1. In 1Ch 2:6

we have all the four names, but they are probably not the same

persons, for they are there said to be the sons of Zerah, and he

flourished long before Solomon's time.

Some suppose that beney machol should be rendered

masters of dancing or music, as machol signifies not

only a dance or choir, but also an instrument of music of the

pipe kind. Perhaps a reference is here made to Solomon's skill

in music and poetry, as he is compared to persons who appear to

have been eminent poets and musicians.

Verse 32. He spake three thousand proverbs] The book of

Proverbs, attributed to Solomon, contain only about nine hundred

or nine hundred and twenty-three distinct proverbs; and if we

grant with some that the first nine chapters are not the work of

Solomon, then all that can be attributed to him is only about six

hundred and fifty.

Of all his one thousand and five songs or poems we have only

one, the book of Canticles, remaining, unless we include

Ps 127:1-5,

Except the Lord build the house, &c., which in the title is said

to be by or for him, though it appears more properly to be a psalm

of direction, left him by his father David, relative to the

building of the temple.

Verse 33. He spake of trees-beasts-fowl-creeping things, and of

fishes.] This is a complete system of natural history, as far as

relates to the animal and vegetable kingdoms, and the first

intimation we have of any thing of the kind: Solomon was probably

the first natural historian in the world.

O, how must the heart of Tournefort, Ray, Linne, Buffon, Cuvier,

Swammerdam, Blosch, and other naturalists, be wrung, to know that

these works of Solomon are all and for ever lost! What light

should we have thrown on the animal and vegetable kingdoms, had

these works been preserved! But the providence of God has not

thought fit to preserve them, and succeeding naturalists are left

to invent the system which he probably left perfect. If there be

any remains of his wisdom, they must be sought among the

orientals, among whom his character is well known, and rates as

high as it does with either Jews or Christians. I shall give some

extracts from their works relative to Solomon when I come to

consider his character at the end of 1Ki 11:43.

Verse 34. There came of all people to hear the wisdom of

Solomon] We learn from 1 Kings 10, that the queen of Sheba was

one of those visitants, and perhaps the most remarkable, as we

have the particulars of her visit, but not of the others.

It is astonishing that of a person so renowned for wisdom, so

little should be left to prove the truth of a fact of which all

the civilized nations of the world have heard, and of which

scarcely any man has ever doubted. The people that came from all

kings of the earth were probably ambassadors, who came to form and

maintain friendship between their sovereigns and the Israelitish

king. We cannot understand the place as speaking of people who,

either through an idle or laudable curiosity, came to see and

converse with Solomon; to give free access to such people would

ill comport with the maintenance of his dignity.

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