Bible Commentary: 1 Kings 5 and Related

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1 Kings 5 and Related

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Agreement with Hiram for Temple Construction

Hiram, king of Tyre, had been David's ally, and had helped him build his palace at Jerusalem (2 Samuel 5:11 2 Samuel 5:11And Hiram king of Tyre sent messengers to David, and cedar trees, and carpenters, and masons: and they built David an house.
American King James Version×
). Some see the words "Hiram had always loved David" (1 Kings 5:1 1 Kings 5:1And Hiram king of Tyre sent his servants to Solomon; for he had heard that they had anointed him king in the room of his father: for Hiram was ever a lover of David.
American King James Version×
) to simply denote their political alliance—the word for ally in a number of Old Testament passages literally meaning "lover." But "Solomon's note about the temple begins, 'You know,' suggesting that David had shared his dream of building a temple with Hiram as well, and that the two may have been [actual] friends" (Bible Reader's Companion, note on 1 Kings 5:1-6 1 Kings 5:1-6 [1] And Hiram king of Tyre sent his servants to Solomon; for he had heard that they had anointed him king in the room of his father: for Hiram was ever a lover of David. [2] And Solomon sent to Hiram, saying, [3] You know how that David my father could not build an house to the name of the LORD his God for the wars which were about him on every side, until the LORD put them under the soles of his feet. [4] But now the LORD my God has given me rest on every side, so that there is neither adversary nor evil result. [5] And, behold, I purpose to build an house to the name of the LORD my God, as the LORD spoke to David my father, saying, Your son, whom I will set on your throne in your room, he shall build an house to my name. [6] Now therefore command you that they hew me cedar trees out of Lebanon; and my servants shall be with your servants: and to you will I give hire for your servants according to all that you shall appoint: for you know that there is not among us any that can skill to hew timber like to the Sidonians.
American King James Version×
). The area of modern Lebanon along the border between the two ancient kingdoms contained some of the best timber around. And Hiram has some highly skilled workers. So Solomon arranges for workmen from this Phoenician king to help cut and deliver wood for the temple, and to assist in stonecutting. Hiram offers Solomon one craftsman in particular, also named Hiram (or Huram), the son of a man of Tyre and an Israelite woman, who will make most of the temple furnishings—as Bezalel made things for the tabernacle in the wilderness.

Solomon also drafts thousands of Israelite workers. "In addition to slave labor, Solomon relied on the corvee [labor exacted in lieu of taxes by public authorities] to provide workers. This practice was common in ancient times, and involved claiming a person's labor as sort of a personal tax. By alternating shifts Solomon was able to maintain agricultural production at home, while keeping work moving on his massive construction project. Not many years ago some rural counties in the Midwest had a form of corvee: farmers would keep the roadsides mowed in return for reduction of local taxes" (note on verses 13-17).

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