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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary

1 Kings 10

 

 

Verse 1

1 Kings 10:1 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.

Ver. 1. And when the queen of Sheba.] Nicaula, Josephus (a) calleth her; the Rabbis, (b) Nicolas; others, (c) Maqueda. Her country some make to be Arabia Felix, others Ethiopia Southward it lay, and far from Jerusalem. [Matthew 12:42] A sibyl some make her to be.

Concerning the name of the Lord.] What great things God had done for Solomon, and what he had done by way of thankful retribution to God, in building him a house, and setting up his sincere service there. The Rabbis think that by this expression is imported, that she took Solomon for the promised Messiah. (d)

She came to prove him with hard questions.] Such as elsewhere she could not get a satisfying solution to. With these problems or riddles, of great importance, doubtless, she both proved and profited by his wisdom.


Verse 2

1 Kings 10:2 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.

Ver. 2. That bare spices, and very much gold and precious stones.] These were the commodities of her country; with all which, together with the pleasures of her court, she freely parted, for the love of divine learning. Yea, she could have been content to change her throne for Solomon’s footstool. Josephus telleth us, that besides what is here mentioned, she gave Solomon the root of precious balsam, which the wicked queen of Egypt, Cleopatra, afterwards took away.


Verse 3

1 Kings 10:3 And Solomon told her all her questions: there was not [any] thing hid from the king, which he told her not.

Ver. 3. And Solomon told her all her questions.] Whether they were theological, political, or natural.

There was not anything hid, &c.] He was no niggard of his great skill; the canker whereof, if he communicated it not, he well knew would one day witness against him.


Verse 4

1 Kings 10:4 And when the queen of Sheba had seen all Solomon’s wisdom, and the house that he had built,

Ver. 4. Had seen all Solomon’s wisdom,] i.e., Heard it, and well weighed it. "O generation, see ye the word of the Lord." [Jeremiah 2:31]


Verse 5

1 Kings 10:5 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.

Ver. 5. And his ascent.] Called elsewhere the king’s entry, [2 Kings 16:18] and the king’s gate. [1 Chronicles 9:18] A costly and stately piece of work, doubtless. See 1 Kings 10:12.

There was no more spirit in her.] She was in an ecstacy of deep admiration; like as afterwards was Nicostratus in Aelian, who finding a curious piece of work, and being wondered at by one, and asked what pleasure he could take to stand gazing as he did on the picture, answered, Hadst thou mine eyes, thou wouldst not wonder, but rather be ravished as I am, at the inimitable art of this rare piece.


Verse 6

1 Kings 10:6 And she said to the king, It was a true report that I heard in mine own land of thy acts and of thy wisdom.

Ver. 6. Of thy acts.] Or, Sayings. True wisdom will prompt a man both to say well and do well. Solomon might better boast than Cicero (a) did of his optimarum artium scientia, et maximature rerum gloria.


Verse 8

1 Kings 10:8 Happy [are] thy men, happy [are] these thy servants, which stand continually before thee, [and] that hear thy wisdom.

Ver. 8. Happy are thy men.] How happy then are those heavenly courtiers that continually see Christ’s face, hear his voice, &c. Sulla called himself happy, because victorious. Henry I of France took unto himself the title of Tres-heureuse Roy, the thrice happy king; but was soon after confuted, as coming to an untimely end. The happiness of those in heaven, as it is unutterable, so it is unalterable.


Verse 9

1 Kings 10:9 Blessed be the LORD thy God, which delighted in thee, to set thee on the throne of Israel: because the LORD loved Israel for ever, therefore made he thee king, to do judgment and justice.

Ver. 9. To set thee on the throne of Israel.] Called the throne of God. [2 Chronicles 9:8] The Church is called God’s throne of glory, [Jeremiah 14:21] and crown of glory. [Isaiah 62:3] It was wont to be said, Anglia est regnum Dei. "The Lord is our King, he will save us." [Isaiah 33:22]


Verse 10

1 Kings 10:10 And she gave the king an hundred and twenty talents of gold, and of spices very great store, and precious stones: there came no more such abundance of spices as these which the queen of Sheba gave to king Solomon.

Ver. 10. And she gave the king, &c.] See on 1 Kings 10:2, Psalms 72:10, where it was foretold.

And of spices very great store.] These were of old highly accounted of. [2 Kings 20:13] Galen (a) writeth that in his time cinnamon was very rare and hard to be found, except in the storehouses of great princes.


Verse 11

1 Kings 10:11 And the navy also of Hiram, that brought gold from Ophir, brought in from Ophir great plenty of almug trees, and precious stones.

Ver. 11. And the navy also of Hiram,] i.e., Built with the timber sent by Hiram, and manned by his mariners. [2 Chronicles 8:18]

Brought gold from Ophir.] Called there hence aurum obryzum, as it is likely.

Brought in from Ophir,] i.e., From Africa; Fez in Africa, some say; others, from Sumatra or Taprobane in India; others, from Peru in America. All are but conjectures.

Great plenty of almug trees.] Such as are mentioned in Revelation 18:12, called there thyine wood. (a) The Rabbis render it coral; but that is not likely.


Verse 12

1 Kings 10:12 And the king made of the almug trees pillars for the house of the LORD, and for the king’s house, harps also and psalteries for singers: there came no such almug trees, nor were seen unto this day.

Ver. 12. Nor were seen unto this day.] Therefore they were not the same, but far better than those algum trees that came from Lebanon. [2 Chronicles 2:8]


Verse 13

1 Kings 10:13 And king Solomon gave unto the queen of Sheba all her desire, whatsoever she asked, beside [that] which Solomon gave her of his royal bounty. So she turned and went to her own country, she and her servants.

Ver. 13. All her desire, whatsoever she asked.] Some say she came to Solomon, as Thalestris queen of the amazons afterwards did to Alexander the Great, to have issue by him; and that he married her and sent her away to her own country great with a son, whom she called David, whose race continueth to this day. (a)


Verse 14

1 Kings 10:14 Now the weight of gold that came to Solomon in one year was six hundred threescore and six talents of gold,

Ver. 14. Now the weight of gold that came. to Solomon.] From Ophir, Tarshish, and other places.

Was six hundred threescore and six talents.] Two millions and a half plus or minus.


Verse 15

1 Kings 10:15 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.

Ver. 15. Besides that he had of the merchantmen] Or, Of the publicans and custom takers; Heb., Men that searched, or spied their opportunities of making the best of their commodities.

And of the traffic of the spice merchants.] Far sweeter matter to make gain of than e lotio, as Vespasian; to whom dulcis erat odor lucri ex re qualibet.


Verse 16

1 Kings 10:16 And king Solomon made two hundred targets [of] beaten gold: six hundred [shekels] of gold went to one target.

Ver. 16. Two hundred targets of beaten gold.] Which were carried before him by his guard, as 1 Kings 14:27-28, being more for pomp than service; and therefore so soon became a prey to the enemy through God’s just indignation.


Verse 17

1 Kings 10:17 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.

Ver. 17. And he made three hundred shields.] Nothing so big as those targets, [1 Kings 10:16] but lost with them.


Verse 18

1 Kings 10:18 Moreover the king made a great throne of ivory, and overlaid it with the best gold.

Ver. 18. Moreover the king made a great throne.] Which stood, likely, in the porch of judgment. [1 Kings 7:7]

And overlaid it with the best gold.] To show, saith Martyr, the incorruption that should be in kings, who should administer justice justice, - Moses’ expression, - that is, pure justice.


Verse 19

1 Kings 10:19 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.

Ver. 19. The throne had six steps.] Whereby when the king ascended to his throne, he was imminded both of his dignity and duty; since Sedes prima et vita ima, would be incongruous and reproachful.

And the top of the throne, &c.] The canopy encircled the king’s head, for his greater ease and state, and to note God’s protection.

And there were stays.] Heb., Hands, to rest his arms on.

And two lions stood beside the stays.] To show that his throne should not easily be overturned.


Verse 20

1 Kings 10:20 And twelve lions stood there on the one side and on the other upon the six steps: there was not the like made in any kingdom.

Ver. 20. And twelve lions stood there, &c.] To show the vigilancy and valour that should be found in princes. Judah’s emblem, or scutcheon, was the lion couchant. The Athenian judges sat in Mars Street. Mention is also made of a footstool of gold, [2 Chronicles 9:18] to teach the king to trample on the precious things of this world.


Verse 21

1 Kings 10:21 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.

Ver. 21. And all king Solomon’s drinking vessels were of gold.] This was both for state and wholesomeness, if that be true which is reported, viz., that if poison be put into a cup of pure gold it hisseth, and so discovereth itself to be poison. Of Prester John, the lord of Africa, it is reported, that as for his scutcheon of arms (guard) he hath a lion standing, and holding in his paw a cross lifted up: so in his greatest solemnities, he causeth to be carried before him a golden cup filled within with dirt, and without also bedaubed therewith, yet so as that the gold appeareth; near unto this cup is carried a rich crucifix: and all to set forth the condition of man, who did once and should still shine as gold, but it is both within and without polluted with sin, till restored by Christ crucified, &c. (a) It is fore-prophesied by Zechariah, that in the days of the gospel every pot and bowl in Jerusalem shall be "holiness to the Lord." [Zechariah 14:20-21] This is "better than gold, yea, than fine gold."

It was nothing accounted of.] It was well accounted of, [1 Kings 10:22; 1 Kings 10:25] but nothing so much as in other lands, and as now-a-days amongst us: where money beareth the mastery, and few such Medes are to be found as regard not silver, and as for gold they delight not in it. [Isaiah 13:17]


Verse 22

1 Kings 10:22 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.

Ver. 22. For the king had at sea a navy of Tharshish.] That furrowed the main ocean, as some sense it; or that sailed into the Mediterranean Sea, as Jonah 1:3; for Tarshish was the son of Javan, [Genesis 10:4] who first after the flood inhabited Cilicia, the chief city whereof is Tharsus; thence the neighbouring sea first, and then the rest of the Mediterranean, was call Tharsis.

Once in three years.] No oftener, as trading with many nations in Africa, Asia, and Europe.

Bringing gold and silver … and apes, and peacocks] Or, Parrots. Like unto these ships thus ladened, are the books of some sectaries, wherein, as in the Jewish Talmud -

Sunt mala mista bonis, sunt bona mista malis.

In some parts of their writings are wholesome and good passages; as in a wood or forest full of briers and brambles, there may be some violets and primroses; and as here, with apes and parrots, were gold, silver, ivory.


Verse 23

1 Kings 10:23 So king Solomon exceeded all the kings of the earth for riches and for wisdom.

Ver. 23. For riches and wisdom.] Take them both together, and well he might be imparallel: for Stultitiam patiuntur opes: and Difficile est opibus non tradire mores.


Verse 24

1 Kings 10:24 And all the earth sought to Solomon, to hear his wisdom, which God had put in his heart.

Ver. 24. And all the earth sought to Solomon.] Who was herein a notable type of Christ, so generally frequented, and yet still so cheerfully resorted to in his ordinances by his people, flying thereto as so many "clouds, and as doves to their windows." [Isaiah 60:8]


Verse 25

1 Kings 10:25 And they brought every man his present, vessels of silver, and vessels of gold, and garments, and armour, and spices, horses, and mules, a rate year by year.

Ver. 25. And they brought every man his present.] That they might be directed and instructed by him. Yea, Sulpitius Severus saith, that even kings tendered themselves and their kingdoms to Solomon to be ruled by him.


Verse 26

1 Kings 10:26 And Solomon gathered together chariots and horsemen: and he had a thousand and four hundred chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen, whom he bestowed in the cities for chariots, and with the king at Jerusalem.

Ver. 26. And Solomon gathered.] This he did contrary to the law, [Deuteronomy 17:16] wherefore also he and his family soon after suffered a change: Gloria enim eius mox facta est ingloria, et fama infamia, ac opulentia paupertas. (a)


Verse 27

1 Kings 10:27 And the king made silver [to be] in Jerusalem as stones, and cedars made he [to be] as the sycomore trees that [are] in the vale, for abundance.

Ver. 27. And the king made silver.] Heb., Gave. And herein Jerusalem became a slender representation of the Jerusalem which is above: where money, the monarch of this world, is nothing set by.


Verse 28

1 Kings 10:28 And Solomon had horses brought out of Egypt, and linen yarn: the king’s merchants received the linen yarn at a price.

Ver. 28. And Solomon had horses brought out of Egypt.] Which abounded with these commodities. [Proverbs 7:16 Isaiah 31:1; Isaiah 31:3 Ezekiel 27:7]

Received the linen yarn at a price.] And so got the trade and monopoly thereof, and of horses, into their own hand, for the king’s behoof and benefit.


Verse 29

1 Kings 10:29 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.

Ver. 29. And a chariot came up.] A chariot with four horses. The custom of six horses in a coach with a postilion, began among us but in King James’s days by the duke of Buckingham, that king’s favourite.

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on 1 Kings 10:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/1-kings-10.html. 1865-1868.

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