1 Kings 5 Bible Commentary

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

(Read all of 1 Kings 5)

Verse 6

[6] Now therefore command thou that they hew me cedar trees out of Lebanon; and my servants shall be with thy servants: and unto thee will I give hire for thy servants according to all that thou shalt appoint: for thou knowest that there is not among us any that can skill to hew timber like unto the Sidonians.

They — That is, thy servants. And this assistance which these Gentiles gave to the building of Solomon's temple, was a type of the calling of the Gentiles, and that they should be instrumental in building and constituting Christ's spiritual temple.

Cedar-trees — Which for their soundness, and strength, and fragrancy, and durableness, were most proper for his design. Of these David had procured some, but not a sufficient number.

Lebanon — Which was in Solomon's jurisdiction: and therefore he doth not desire that Hiram would give him the cedars, because they were his own already; but only that his servants might hew them for him; which the ingenious Tyrians well understood.

With thy servants — Either to be employed therein as they shall direct; or to receive the cedars, from their hands, and transmit them to me.

Hire — Pay them for their labour and art.

Sidonians — Or Tyrians: for these places and people being near, are promiscuously used one for another.

Verse 7

[7] And it came to pass, when Hiram heard the words of Solomon, that he rejoiced greatly, and said, Blessed be the LORD this day, which hath given unto David a wise son over this great people.

Rejoiced — Being a faithful friend to David and his house, and tho' it is not probable he was a sincere proselyte, yet he had sufficient information concerning the nature and excellency of the God of Israel, and had honourable thoughts of him.

Verse 9

[9] My servants shall bring them down from Lebanon unto the sea: and I will convey them by sea in floats unto the place that thou shalt appoint me, and will cause them to be discharged there, and thou shalt receive them: and thou shalt accomplish my desire, in giving food for my household.

The sea — The mid-land sea.

Floats — Or, rafts. It is thought the timber were tied together in the water, as now is usual, and so by the help of boats or ships, conveyed to the appointed place, which was at no great distance.

Household — My family and court, which most properly is called his house.

Verse 11

[11] And Solomon gave Hiram twenty thousand measures of wheat for food to his household, and twenty measures of pure oil: thus gave Solomon to Hiram year by year.

Measures — Heb. twenty cors pure oil; but in 2 Chronicles 2:10, it is twenty thousand baths of oil. To which there is added twenty thousand measures of barley, and twenty thousand baths of wine. Either therefore, first, he speaks of several things. Or, secondly, he speaks there of what Solomon offered: for it runs thus, I will give; and here of what Hiram accepted. Or, thirdly, the barley, and wine, and twenty thousand baths of common oil, mentioned 2 Chronicles 2:10, must be added to the twenty thousand measures of wheat, and the twenty measures of pure oil here expressed, and the whole sum is to be made up from both places; that book of Chronicles being written to supply and compleat the histories of the books of Samuel, and of the Kings.

Gave Hiram — Either, first, for sustenance to the workmen, during the years wherein they were employed in the cutting down and hewing of timber. Or, for the yearly support of the king's house, during the said time. Thus by the wise disposal of providence, one country has need of another, and is benefited by another, that there may be a mutual correspondence and dependence, to the glory of God our common Parent.

Verse 13

[13] And king Solomon raised a levy out of all Israel; and the levy was thirty thousand men.

The levy — Which were to be employed in the most honourable and easy parts of the work relating to the temple; and these were Israelites; but those fifteen hundred thousand mentioned verse 15, were strangers. If it seem strange, that so many thousands should be employed about so small a building as the temple was; it must be considered, 1. that the temple, all its parts being considered, was far larger than men imagine; 2. that it is probable, they were employed by turns, as the thirty thousand were, verse 14, else they had been oppressed with hard and uninterrupted labours. 3. that the timber and stone hewed and carried by them, was designed, not only for the temple, but also for Solomon's own houses, and buildings; because we read of no other levy of men, nor of any care and pains taken after the building of the temple, for the procurement, or preparation of materials for his own houses, or his other buildings; nay, that this very levy of men was made and employed for the building of the Lord's house, and Solomon's house, and Millo, and the wall of Jerusalem, and Hazor, and Megiddo, and Gezer, is expressed chap. 9:15.

Verse 16

[16] Beside the chief of Solomon's officers which were over the work, three thousand and three hundred, which ruled over the people that wrought in the work.

Three thousand … — Whereof three thousand were set over the fifteen hundred thousand, expressed verse 15, each of these, over fifty of them, and the odd three hundred were set over these three thousand, each of these to have the oversight of ten of them, to take an account of the work for them. But in 2 Chronicles 2:18, these overseers are said to be thirty-six hundred. The three thousand added in 2 Chronicles 2:2, might be a reserve, to supply the places of the other three thousand: yea, or of the thirty-three hundred, as any of them should be taken off from the work by death, or sickness, or weakness, or necessary occasions; which was a prudent provision, and not unusual in like cases. And so there were thirty-six hundred commissioned for the work, but only thirty-three hundred employed at one time; and therefore both computations fairly stand together.

Verse 17

[17] And the king commanded, and they brought great stones, costly stones, and hewed stones, to lay the foundation of the house.

Great and costly — Marble and porphyry, or other stones of great size and value.

The foundation — Where they could not afterward be seen: and therefore that this was done, is mentioned only as a point of magnificence, except it was intended for a type, or mystical signification of the preciousness of Christ, who is the foundation of the true temple, the church of God.

Verse 18

[18] And Solomon's builders and Hiram's builders did hew them, and the stonesquarers: so they prepared timber and stones to build the house.

Stone-squarers — Heb. the Giblites, the inhabitants of Gebel, a place near Zidon, famous for artificers and architects, Joshua 13:5. These are here mentioned apart, distinct from the rest of Hiram's builders, as the most eminent of them.