1 Kings 5: Preparations for Building the Temple
When David became king of Israel in 2 Samuel 5 we read about Hiram, the king of Tyre, sending envoys to congratulate him. Now that Solomon is king, in 1 Kings 51, and, because he was always on friendly terms with the father, Hiram now sends envoys again, to the son.
Solomon sends word back, and it reads to me like it’s very open and forthcoming. He tells Hiram that his father King David had wanted to build a temple to the LORD but couldn’t because of all of his wars. But now, because the nation is at peace, Solomon is going to carry out God’s prophecy to David and build the temple. And therefore, Solomon requests that Hiram send wooden logs (at whatever price Hiram deems fit), because, “You know that we have no one so skilled in felling timber as the Sidonians” (verse 6).
On the term “Sidonians” (though Hiram is the king of Tyre), the ESV Study Bible notes say this:
Sidonians is a general term for the Phoenicians, famous for their expertise in timber. Sidon, like Tyre, was on the Phoenician coast, south of what is now Beirut.
This message greatly pleases Hiram, who recognizes Solomon’s wisdom. He immediately agrees to Solomon’s terms and the payment he requests is that Solomon provide food for his royal household.
And so is initiated a very successful treaty between the two nations:
In this way Hiram kept Solomon supplied with all the cedar and juniper logs he wanted, and Solomon gave Hiram twenty thousand cors [about 3,600 tons or about 3,250 metric tons] of wheat as food for his household, in addition to twenty thousand baths [about 120,000 gallons or about 440,000 liters] of pressed olive oil. Solomon continued to do this for Hiram year after year. The LORD gave Solomon wisdom, just as he had promised him. There were peaceful relations between Hiram and Solomon, and the two of them made a treaty.
King Solomon conscripted laborers from all Israel—thirty thousand men. 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 was in charge of the forced labor. Solomon had seventy thousand carriers and eighty thousand stonecutters in the hills, as well as thirty-three hundred foremen who supervised the project and directed the workers. At the king’s command they removed from the quarry large blocks of high-grade stone to provide a foundation of dressed stone for the temple. The craftsmen of Solomon and Hiram and workers from Byblos cut and prepared the timber and stone for the building of the temple.
(verses 10–18, with some modern measurements added for reference)
I don’t have much in the way of thoughts about this passage; I see a picture of two nations working together and get a feeling of mutual benefit from the arrangement. It is one of the rare instances in 1 Kings so far where we get an unequivocal picture of Solomon being wise; there isn’t a mixture of good and bad or wise and disobedient, just a wise response to a foreign leader resulting in good relations between the two countries.
Is it a coincidence that the first envoy to David was in 2 Samuel Chapter 5 and now the second envoy is in 1 Kings Chapter 5? Yes. It is a coincidence. Remember that chapter divisions didn’t even exist when these texts were written; the Scriptures weren’t broken down into chapters until the 1500s. ↩︎