The Word Made Fresh
1Solomon completed the temple and the royal palace. 2Then the LORD appeared to him again in the same way as in Gibeon years before, 3and said, “I have heard your prayer and your request. I have consecrated the house you have built. I have given it my name, and my eyes and my heart will always be there. 4If you live in my presence as your father David did, and keep your heart pure and upright, and do all that I command you and obey all my rules and laws, 5I will see to it that your throne is established over Israel forever. I promised your father David that one of his descendants would always be on the throne of Israel. 6But if any of them turn away from me and fail to obey the commandments and laws I have given you, and begin to worship other gods, 7I will wipe Israel off the land I have given them, and this house I have consecrated will be cast out of my sight, and Israel will become the laughing stock of all the other nations. 8This house will become a big pile of debris, and everyone who walks by will wonder what happened to make the LORD do such a thing to this house and this nation. 9And they will conclude that it is because they turned away from the LORD their God who rescued them from the land of Egypt, and because they began embracing and worshiping and serving other gods. ‘That is why the LORD brought this disaster upon them,’ they’ll say.”
10The projects of building the palace and the temple took twenty years. 11King Hiram of Tyre supplied Solomon with as much cedar and cypress lumber as he needed, and Solomon gave Hiram twenty cities in Galilee. 12Hiram came over from Tyre to visit them and was not pleased. 13He said, “What kind of cities have you given me, my brother?” He called them Cabul, “good-for-nothing,” as the area is still known today. 14Hiram had sent Solomon four and a half tons of gold.
15Solomon used forced labor to build the temple and the palace, as well as the Millo and the walls of Jerusalem, Hazor, Megiddo, and Gezer. 16Pharaoh king of Egypt had captured Gezer and burned it to the ground, and had killed the Canaanites who lived there, and had given it as a dowry to his daughter, Solomon’s wife. 17Solomon had the city rebuilt. He built the walls around other cities also — Lower Beth-Horon, 18Baalath, and Tamar out in the wilderness. 19He built storage cities for his chariots and cavalry, and he built whatever he wanted in Jerusalem and Lebanon and all around his kingdom. 20All the descendants of the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites — 21all the peoples the Israelites did not destroy — were drafted by Solomon as slave labor. They still are. 22He didn’t enslave the Israelites; they served in the army and in the government. 23There were five hundred fifty officers in charge of the laborers.
24Pharaoh’s daughter went up from the City of David to the house Solomon had built for her. He built the Millo afterwards.
25Solomon offered sacrifices of burnt offerings and thanksgiving three times a year on the altar he had dedicated to the LORD, along with incense.26He built a fleet of ships at Ezion-Geber near Eloth on the Red Sea in the land of Edom4. 27Hiram sent men who were familiar with seagoing to work together with Solomon’s men. 28They sailed to Ophir and brought back sixteen tons of gold, which they delivered to Solomon.
1-5: God appears to Solomon in the same way God had appeared to him at Gibeon. At Gibeon it had been in a dream (3:15), so we can assume that is the case here as well. In the dream God promises Solomon that if he will practice the integrity and uprightness of his father David (we know how upright David was!) then his dynasty will survive forever. Of course, it doesn’t last forever, so we must assume…
6-9: However, if Solomon or his successors fail to live with integrity and uprightness the people will lose the land, the temple will be a heap of ruins, and everyone will know it happened because they turned away from God.
10-14: Solomon “gives” King Hiram of Tyre twenty cities in Galilee, but Hiram is not impressed with them when he sees them. He has already sent Solomon one hundred twenty talents (about four and a half tons) of gold, though. He should have examined the purchase before he paid the price. The story tells us more about Solomon than about Hiram.
15-22: Solomon undertakes an impressive building program in his kingdom (verse 16 tells us that Israel and Egypt are allies at this point in history). He uses a huge number of laborers forced to work in the forests and quarries and on his building sites. These are conscripted from among the non-Israelite people living in the land. We are now informed that Israelites do not serve as forced labor but are recruited (or drafted) to serve in the army.
23: An indication of the massiveness of Solomon’s construction projects is that 550 project managers are needed.
24: Pharaoh’s daughter moves into her quarters. She seems to have had a prominent position in Solomon’s court, although we are never given her name. The mention of the Millo is obscure; no one knows what this structure is for. It was first mentioned when David conquered the city from the Jebusites (2 Samuel 5:9). King Joash is said to have been killed in the Millo (2 Kings 12:20), and King Hezekiah is said to have rebuilt it (2 Chronicles 32:5).
25: It’s nice to know that Solomon went to worship three times a year.
26-28: Ezion-Geber is a port on the Gulf of Aqaba, the arm of the sea that stretches north from the main body of the Red Sea. Ophir has never been identified, but most scholars believe it was on the coast of Pakistan or India. Once again, we see cooperation between Solomon and Hiram of Tyre (Lebanon).
It is a remarkable thing that Solomon’s reign thus far has been without conflict (once he does away with Joab and his brother Adonijah and his father’s critic Shimei). He has taken advantage of that by engaging in extraordinary building projects. He is at peace with Egypt to the south and with Tyre to the north. Israel has never been in a better position to serve the LORD. But will they serve the LORD?