The Word Made Fresh
1Solomon was now king of Israel. 2Here is a list of his primary officials:
Chief priest: Azariah son of Zadok.
3Secretaries: Elihoreph and Ahijah, sons of Shisha.
Records keeper: Jehoshaphat son of Ahilud.
4Army commander: Benaiah son of Jehoiada.
Priests: Zadok and Abiathar.
5Administrator: Azariah son of Nathan.
King’s friend and palace priest: Zabud son of Nathan.
6Palace administrator: Ahishar.
Forced labor administrator: Adoniram son of Abda.
7Solomon also had twelve district governors, each of whom were assigned a month to supply the king and his family with provisions. 8They were:
Ben-Hur in the hill country of Ephraim.
9Ben-Deker in Makaz, Shaalbim, Beth-Shemesh and Elon-Beth-Hanan.
10Ben-Hesed in Arubboth (including Socoh and the Hepher area).
11Ben-Abinadab in Naphath-Dor. He married Solomon’s daughter Taphath.
12Baana son of Ahilud in Taanach, Megiddo and Beth-Shean beside Zarethan south of Jezreel; and from Beth-Shean to Abel-Meholah on the other side of Jokmeam.
13Ben-Geber in Ramoth-Gilead, including the villages owned by Jair son of Manasseh in Gilead, and the Argob area in Bashan that included sixty walled towns with bronze bars.
14Ahinadab son of Iddo in Mahanaim.
15Ahimaaz in Naphtali. He married Solomon’s daughter Basemath.
16Baana son of Hushai in Asher and Bealoth.
17Jehoshaphat son of Paruah in Issachar.
18Shimei son of Ela in Benjamin.
19Geber son of Uri in Gilead, the country of the Amorite king Sihon and King Og of Bashan.
And one district governor was assigned to Judah.
20The populations of Judah and Israel were as numerous as the sand on the seashore. They had plenty of food and drink and were content. 21Solomon ruled over all the lands from the Euphrates to the Mediterranean and as far south as Egypt, and all of them paid taxes to Solomon and were his subjects all his life.
22The daily provisions for Solomon was 185 bushels of high-grade flour; 375 bushels of meal; 23ten fattened oxen; twenty grass-fed cattle; gazelles, roebucks and well-fed fowl. 24He ruled over all the land west of the Euphrates, from Tiphsah to Gaza, and over all their kings. There was peace on all sides. 25During his lifetime Judah and Israel were at peace from Dan to Beer-Sheba, lush with vines and fig trees. 26He had forty thousand stalls for chariot horses and twelve thousand charioteers.
27Each of the district governors duly provided, month by month, everything king Solomon needed, and everything needed for those who dined at his table. They made sure nothing was amiss. 28They also, each in his turn, delivered to the designated locations barley and straw for the chariot horses and stallions.
29God gave Solomon wisdom and discernment, and a breadth of knowledge as extensive as the sand on the seashore. 30He knew more than all the people of the east and all of Egypt. 31He was wiser than everyone else, even Ethan the Ezrahite and Heman, Calcol and Darda, the children of Mahol. His fame spread throughout the nations all around. 32He spoke three thousand wise proverbs and composed a thousand and five songs. 33He knew all about plants and trees, from the cedars of Lebanon to the hyssop vines that grew on the walls. He could tell you all about animals and birds and reptiles and fish. 34People came from nations all around to hear his wisdom, sent by kings from all the countries in the world who had heard of his great learning.
1-6: Solomon’s administration is organized along the same lines as David’s (see 2 Samuel 8:15-18). It is surprising to see Abiathar listed as one of the priests since Solomon banished him earlier (2:27), but this may be a different man of the same name. We also note that someone is put in charge of “forced labor,” which will spell trouble when Solomon’s rule comes to an end.
7-19: In addition to the forced labor the king claims a portion of the produce of the land, and divides the land into twelve districts. Two of the district governors (Ben-Abinadab in verse 11 and Ahimaaz in verse 15) are Solomon’s sons-in-law. Someone is also put over Judah, but is not named, and Judah is not included in the 12 districts. Apparently, Judah is not required to support the king’s table; another sore spot that will come into play later on.
20-21: A happy kingdom is reported: actually, two happy kingdoms — Judah and Israel. Have you noticed the increasing distinction between them?
22-28: Solomon’s opulence is described in great detail.
29-34: Solomon’s wisdom and great learning becomes famous throughout the region.
It appears that David’s time as king has resulted in a kingdom spread far and wide, victorious over every enemy, and an era of peace and prosperity has allowed Solomon to live opulently, with enough leisure time to pursue a wide variety of hobbies. It is a Biblical Camelot. Everyone seems happy and wealthy. But God is mentioned only once (verse 29), and the LORD (God’s revealed name as the God of Israel) is not mentioned at all. There is also a hint that forced labor plays a role in the wealth and comfort of only a portion of the population. Solomon’s reign is the beginning of a gradual slide away from the LORD that will accelerate over the next few hundred years. Are excessive wealth, comfort, and power enemies of faith?