1 Kings 10 Bible Commentary

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

(Read all of 1 Kings 10)

Verse 1

[1] And when the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the LORD, she came to prove him with hard questions.

Sheba — Of that part of Arabia, called Shabaea, which was at great distance from Jerusalem, bordering upon the Southern Sea; for there, much more than in Ethiopia, were the commodities which she brought, verse 2,10.

Name of the Lord — That is, concerning God; the name of God being often put for God; concerning his deep knowledge in the things of God. For it is very probable she had, as had divers other Heathens, some knowledge of the true God, and an earnest desire to know more concerning him.

Questions — Concerning natural, and civil, and especially, Divine things.

Verse 2

[2] And she came to Jerusalem with a very great train, with camels that bare spices, and very much gold, and precious stones: and when she was come to Solomon, she communed with him of all that was in her heart.

All her heart — Of all the doubts and difficulties wherewith her mind was perplexed.

Verse 4

[4] And when the queen of Sheba had seen all Solomon's wisdom, and the house that he had built,

House — Or, the houses, the temple and the king's house, in both which there were evidences of singular wisdom.

Verse 5

[5] And the meat of his table, and the sitting of his servants, and the attendance of his ministers, and their apparel, and his cupbearers, and his ascent by which he went up unto the house of the LORD; there was no more spirit in her.

Sitting — The order and manner in which his courtiers, or other subjects (who all were his servants in a general sense) sat down at meals, at several tables in his court.

Attendance — Upon the king, both at his table, and in his court; and when he went abroad to the temple or other places.

Apparel — Both the costliness of it, and especially the agreeableness of it to their several places and offices.

Went up — From his own palace. See 2 Kings 16:18, but the ancients, and some others, translate the words thus, and the burnt-offerings which he offered up in the house of the Lord; under which, is the chief, all other sacrifices are understood: when she saw the manner of his offering sacrifices to the Lord; which doubtless she would not neglect to see; and in the ordering of which she might discern many characters of excellent wisdom, especially when she had so excellent an interpreter as Solomon was, to inform her of the reasons of all the circumstances of that service.

No spirit — She was astonished, and could scarcely determine whether she really saw these things, or whether it was only a pleasant dream.

Verse 8

[8] Happy are thy men, happy are these thy servants, which stand continually before thee, and that hear thy wisdom.

Happy, … — With much more reason may we say this of Christ's servants: Blessed are they that dwell in thy house: they will be always praising thee.

Verse 14

[14] Now the weight of gold that came to Solomon in one year was six hundred threescore and six talents of gold,

Six hundred, … — Which amounts to about three millions of our money. And this gold did not come from Ophir in India, or Tharshish; but from Arabia and Ethiopia, which then were replenished with gold, though exhausted by the insatiable avarice of succeeding Ages.

Verse 15

[15] Beside that he had of the merchantmen, and of the traffick of the spice merchants, and of all the kings of Arabia, and of the governors of the country.

Merchant-men — Heb. of the searchers; either merchants, who use to search out commodities: or, the gatherers of the king's revenues, who used to search narrowly into all wares, that the king might not be defrauded of his rights.

Spice-merchants — Or rather, of the merchants in general, as the word is often used. So this and the former particular contain both the branches of the king's revenue, what he had from the land, and what he had from the merchants and traders.

Kings — Of those parts of Arabia which were next to Canaan, which were either conquered by David, or submitted to pay tribute to Solomon. But we must not think all these to be kings of large dominions; many of them were only governors of cities, and the territories belonging to them, such as were formerly in Canaan, and were anciently called kings.

The country — Or, of the land; the land of Arabia: whereof some parts were so far conquered, that he had governors of his own over them, who were each of them to take care of the king's revenue in his jurisdiction; and part only so far, that they still had kings of their own, but such as were tributaries to him.

Verse 16

[16] And king Solomon made two hundred targets of beaten gold: six hundred shekels of gold went to one target.

Targets — For pomp and magnificence, and to be carried before him, by his guard, when he went abroad. The Roman magistrates had rods and axes carried before them, in token of their power to correct the bad: but Solomon shields and targets, to shew he took more pleasure in his power to defend and protect the good.

Verse 17

[17] And he made three hundred shields of beaten gold; three pound of gold went to one shield: and the king put them in the house of the forest of Lebanon.

Shields — Smaller than targets.

Verse 19

[19] The throne had six steps, and the top of the throne was round behind: and there were stays on either side on the place of the seat, and two lions stood beside the stays.

Round — Made like the half of a circle.

Verse 21

[21] And all king Solomon's drinking vessels were of gold, and all the vessels of the house of the forest of Lebanon were of pure gold; none were of silver: it was nothing accounted of in the days of Solomon.

Nothing — Comparatively. Such hyperbolical expressions are frequent both in scripture and other authors. But if gold in abundance, would make silver seem so despicable, shall not wisdom and grace, and the foretastes of heaven, make gold seem much more so?

Verse 22

[22] For the king had at sea a navy of Tharshish with the navy of Hiram: once in three years came the navy of Tharshish, bringing gold, and silver, ivory, and apes, and peacocks.

Tharshish — Ships that went to Tharshish. For Tharshish was the name of a place upon the sea, famous for its traffick with merchants, and it was a place very remote from Judea, as appears from the three years usually spent in that voyage. But whether it was Spain, where in those times there was abundance of gold and silver, as Strabo and others affirm; or, some place in the Indies, it is needless to determine.

Verse 24

[24] And all the earth sought to Solomon, to hear his wisdom, which God had put in his heart.

All the earth — That is, all the kings of the earth, (as it is expressed 2 Chronicles 9:23,) namely of those parts of the earth.

Verse 28

[28] And Solomon had horses brought out of Egypt, and linen yarn: the king's merchants received the linen yarn at a price.

Horses, … — The two chief commodities of Egypt.

Price — Solomon received them from Pharaoh at a price agreed between them, and gave this privilege to his merchants, for a tribute to be paid out of it.

Verse 29

[29] And a chariot came up and went out of Egypt for six hundred shekels of silver, and an horse for an hundred and fifty: and so for all the kings of the Hittites, and for the kings of Syria, did they bring them out by their means.

Chariot — This is not to be understood of the chariots and horses themselves, but for the lading of chariots and horses, which consisting of fine linen and silk, were of great value: and the king's custom, together with the charges of the journey, amounted to these sums.

Hittites — A people dwelling principally in the northern and eastern parts of Canaan, Joshua 1:4, whom the Israelites, contrary to their duty, suffered to live amongst them, Judges 3:5, who afterwards grew numerous and potent, and, it may be, sent out colonies (after the manner of the ancient times) into some parts of Syria and Arabia. And possibly, these kings of the Hittites may be some of those kings of Arabia, verse 15.