corner graphic

Bible Commentaries

The Pulpit Commentaries

2 Chronicles 2

 

 

Verses 1-18

EXPOSITION

2 Chronicles 2:1

In the Hebrew text this verse stands as the last of 2 Chronicles 1:1-17. Determined. The Hebrew word is the ordinary word for "said;" as, e.g; in the expression of such frequent occurrence, "The Lord said." Its natural equivalent here might be, he gave the word, or issued the command, for the building of a house. For the Name of the Lord; better, to the Name of the Lord (1 Kings 5:3; or in Hebrew text, 1 Kings 5:18; 1 Chronicles 22:7). The expression," the Name of the Lord," is of very early date (Genesis 4:26). A name named upon a person at the first purported as far as possible to mark his nature, either its tout ensemble or some striking attribute of it. Hence the changed name, sometimes of Divine interposition (Genesis 17:5, Genesis 17:15; Genesis 32:28; Genesis 35:10); and much more noticeably the alterations of the Divine Name, to serve and to mark the progressive development of the revelation of God to man (Genesis 17:1; Exodus 3:14; Exodus 6:3; Exodus 34:14). So the Name of the Lord stands ever—monogram most sacred—for himself. A house for his kingdom; i.e. a royal residence for Solomon himself. This is mere clearly expressed as, "in his own house" (2 Chronicles 7:11; 2 Chronicles 8:1; 1 Kings 9:10, 1 Kings 9:15). The description of this house for himself is given in 1 Kings 7:1-13. But no parallel account exists in Chronicles.

2 Chronicles 2:2

The presence of this verse here, and the composition of it, may probably mark some corruptness of text or error of copyists, as the first two words of it are the proper first two words of 2 Chronicles 2:17, and the remainder of it shows the proper contents of 2 Chronicles 2:18, which are not only in other aspects apparently in the right place there, but also by analogy of the parallel (1 Kings 5:15, 1 Kings 5:16). The contents of this verse will therefore be considered with 2 Chronicles 2:17, 2 Chronicles 2:18.

2 Chronicles 2:3

Huram. So the name is spelt, whether of Tyrian king or Tyrian workman, in Chronicles, except, perhaps, in 1 Chronicles 14:1. Elsewhere the name is written הִירָם, or sometimes חִירוֹם, instead of חוּרָם . Geseuius draws attention to Josephus's Greek rendering of the name, εἵρωμος, with whom agree Menander, an historian of Ephesus, in a fragment respecting Hiram (Josephus, 'Contra Apion,' 1 Chronicles 1:18); and Dius, a fragment of whose history of the Phoenicians telling of Solomon and Hiram, Josephus also is the means of preserving ('Contra Apion,' 1.17). The Septuagint write the name χιράμ; the Alexandrian, χειράμ; the Vulgate, Hiram. The name of Hiram's father was Abibaal. Hiram himself began to reign, according to Menander, when nineteen years of age, reigned thirty-four years, and died therefore at the age of fifty-three. Of Hiram and his reign in Tyre very little is known beyond what is so familiar to us from the Bible history of David and Solomon. The city of Tyre is among the most ancient. Though it is not mentioned in Homer, yet the Sidonians, who lived in such close connection with the Tyrians, are mentioned there, whilst Virgil calls Tyre the Sidonian city, Sidon being twenty miles distant. The modern name of Tyre is Sur. The city was situate on the east coast of the Mediterranean, in Phoenicia, about seventy-four geographical miles north of Joppa, while the road distance from Joppa to Jerusalem was thirty-two miles. The first Bible mention of Tyre is in Joshua 19:29. After that the more characteristic mentions of it are 2 Samuel 5:11, with all its parallels; 2 Samuel 24:7; Isaiah 23:1, Isaiah 23:7; Ezekiel 26:2; Ezekiel 27:1-8; Zechariah 9:2, Zechariah 9:3. Tyre was celebrated for its working in copper and brass, and by no means only for its cedar and timber felling. The good terms and intimacy subsisting between Solomon and the King of Tyre speak themselves very plainly in Bible history, without leaving us dependent on doubtful history, or tales of such as Josephus ('Ant.,' 8.5. § 3; 'Contra Apion,' 1.17). For the timber, metals, workmen, given by Hiram to Solomon, Solomon gave to Hiram corn and oil, ceded to him some cities, and the use of some ports on the Red Sea (1 Kings 9:11-14, 1 Kings 9:25-28; 1 Kings 10:21-23. See also 1 Kings 16:31). As thou didst deal with David … and didst send him cedars. To this Zechariah 9:7 and Zechariah 9:8 are the apodosis manifestly, while Zechariah 9:4, Zechariah 9:5, Zechariah 9:6 should be enclosed in brackets.

2 Chronicles 2:4

In the nine headings contained in this verse we may consider that the leading religious observances and services of the nation are summarized. To dedicate it. The more frequent rendering of the Hebrew word here used is "to hallow," Or "to sanctify."

(a) with meat offering consisting of three-tenths of an ephah of flour mixed with oil for each bullock; two-tenths of an ephah of flour mixed with oil for the ram; one-tenth of an ephah of flour similarly mixed for each lamb;

(b) with drink offering, of half a hin of wine to each bullock; the third part of a hin to the ram; and the fourth part of a hin to each lamb. A kid of the goats for a sin offering, which in fact was offered before the burnt offering. And all these were to be additional to the continual offering of the day, with its drink offering (see also Isaiah 66:23; Ezekiel 46:3; Amos 8:5).

2 Chronicles 2:5, 2 Chronicles 2:6

The contents of these verses beg some special observation, in the first place, as having been judged by the writer of Chronicles matter desirable to be retained and put in his work. To find a place for this subject amid his careful selection, and rejection in many cases, of the matter at his command, is certainly a decision in harmony with his general design in this work. Then, again, they may be remarked on as spoken to another king, who, whether it were to be expected or no, was, it is plain, a sympathizing hearer of the piety and religious resolution of Solomon (2 Chronicles 2:12). This is one of the touches of history that does not diminish our regret that we do not know more of Hiram. He was no "proselyte," but he had the sympathy of a convert to the religion of the Jew. Perhaps the simplest and most natural explanation may just be the truest, that Hiram for some long time had seen "the rising" kingdom, and alike in David and Solomon in turn, "the coming" men. He had been more calmly and deliberately impressed than the Queen of Sheba afterwards, but not less effectually and operatively impressed. And once more the passage is noteworthy for the utterances of Solomon in themselves. As parenthetically testifying to a powerful man, who could be a powerful helper of Solomon's enterprise, his outburst of explanation, and of ardent religious purpose, and of humble godly awe, is natural. But that he should call the temple he purposed to build "so great," as we cannot put it down either to intentional exaggeration or to sober historic fact, must the rather be honestly set down to such considerations as these, viz. that in point of fact, neither David nor Solomon were "travelled men," as Joseph and Moses, for instance. Their measures of greatness were largely dependent upon the existing material and furnishing of their own little country. And further, Solomon speaks of the temple as great very probably from the point of view of its simple religious uses (note end of 2 Chronicles 2:6) as the place of sacrifice in especial rather than as a place, for instance, of vast congregations and vast processions. Then, too, as compared with the tabernacle, it would loom "great," whether for size or for its enduring material. Meantime, though Solomon does indeed use the words (2 Chronicles 2:5)," The house.; is great," yet, throwing on the words the light of the remaining clause of the verse, and of David's words in 1 Chronicles 29:1, it is not very certain that the main thing present to his mind was not the size, but rather the character of the house, and the solemn character of the enterprise itself (1 Kings 8:27; 2 Chronicles 6:18). Who am I … save only to burn sacrifice before him? The drift of Solomon's thought is plain—that nothing would justify mortal man, if he purported to build really a palace of residence for him whom the heaven of heavens could not contain, but that he is justified all the more in "not giving sleep to his eyes, nor slumber to his eyelids, until he had found out a place" (Psalms 132:4, Psalms 132:5) where man might acceptably, in God's appointed way, draw near to him. If "earth draw near to heaven," it may be confidently depended on that heaven will not be slow to bend down its glory, majesty, grace, to earth.

2 Chronicles 2:7

Send me … a man cunning to work, etc. The parenthesis is now ended. By comparison of 2 Chronicles 2:3, it appears that Solomon makes of Hiram's services to David his father a very plea why his own requests addressed now to Hiram should be granted. If we may be guided by the form of the expressions used in 1 Chronicles 14:1 and 2 Samuel 5:11, 2 Samuel 5:12, Hiram had in the first instance volunteered help to David, and had not waited to be applied to by David. This would show us more clearly the force of Solomon's plea. Further, if we note the language of 1 Kings 5:1, we may be disposed to think that it fills a gap in our present connection, and indicates that, though Solomon appears here to have had to take the initiative, an easy opportunity was opened, in the courteous embassy sent him in the persons of Hiram's "servants." That the king of this most privileged, separate, and exclusive people of Israel (and he the one who conducted that people to the very zenith of their fame) should have to apply and be permitted to apply to foreign and, so to say, heathen help, in so intrinsic a matter as the finding of the "cunning" and the "skill" of head and hand for the most sacred and distinctive chef d'oeuvre of the said exclusive nation, is a grand instance of nature breaking all trammels, even when most divinely purposed, and a grand token of the dawning comity of nations, of free-trade under the unlikeliest auspices, and of the brotherhood of humanity, never more broadly illustrated than when on an international scale. The competence of the Phoenicians and the people of Sidon and those over whom Hiram immediately reigned in the working of the metals, and furthermore in a very wide range of other subjects, is well sustained by the allusions of very various authorities. The man who was sent is described in 1 Kings 5:13, 1 Kings 5:14, infra, as also 1 Kings 7:13,1 Kings 7:14. Purple, … crimson, … blue. It is not absolutely necessary to suppose that the same Hiram, so skilled in working of gold, silver, brass, and iron, was the authority sent for these matters of various coloured dyes for the cloths that would later on be required for curtains and other similar purposes in the temple. So far, indeed, as the literal construction of the words go, this would seem to be what is meant, and no doubt may have been the case, though unlikely. The purple ( אַדְגְּוָן ). A Chaldee form of this word ( אַרְגְּוָנָא) occurs three times in Daniel 5:7, Daniel 5:16, Daniel 5:29, and appears in each of those cases in our Authorized Version as "scarlet." Neither of these words is the word used in the numerous passages of Exodus, Numbers, Judges, Esther, Proverbs, Canticles, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, nor, indeed, in verse 13, infra and 2 Chronicles 3:14. In all these places, numbering nearly forty, the word is אַרְגָבָן . The purple was probably obtained from some shell-fish on the coast of the Mediterranean. The crimson ( כַרְמִיל). Gesenius says that this was a colour obtained from multitudinous insects that tenanted one kind of the flex (Coccus ilicis), and that the word is from the Persian language. The Persian kerm, Sanscrit krimi, Armenian karmir, German carmesin, and our own "crimson," keep the same framework of letters or sound to a remarkable degree. This word is found only here, 2 Chronicles 3:13, infra, and 2 Chronicles 3:14. The crimson of Isaiah 1:18 and Jeremiah 4:30, and the scarlet of some forty places in the Pentateuch and other books, come as the rendering of the word שָׁנִי . The blue ( תְּכֵלֶת). This is the same word as is used in some fifty other passages in Exodus, Numbers, and in later books. This colour was obtained from a shell-fish (Helix ianthina) found in the Mediterranean, the shell of which was blue. Can skill to grave. The word "to grave" is the piel conjugation of the very familiar Hebrew verb פָּתַח, "to open." Out of twenty-nine times that the verb occurs in some part of the piel conjugation, it is translated "grave" nine times, "loosed" eleven times, "put off" twice, "ungirded" once, "opened" four times, "appear" once, and "go free" once. Perhaps the "opening" the ground with the plough (Isaiah 28:24 ) leads most easily on to the idea of "engraving.'' Cunning men whom … David … did provide, As we read in 1 Chronicles 22:15; 1 Chronicles 28:21.

2 Chronicles 2:8

Algum trees, out of Lebanon. These trees are called algum in the three passages of Chronicles in which the tree is mentioned, viz. here and 2 Chronicles 9:10, 2 Chronicles 9:11, but in the three passages of Kings, almug, viz. 1 Kings 10:11, 1 Kings 10:12 bis. As we read in 1 Kings 10:11; 2 Chronicles 9:10, 2 Chronicles 9:11, that they were exports from Ophir, we are arrested by the expression, "out of Lebanon," here. If they were accessible in Lebanon, it is not on the face of it to be supposed they would be ordered from such a distance as Ophir. Lastly, there is very great difference of opinion as to what the tree was in itself. In Smith's 'Bible Dictionary,' vol. 3. appendix, p. 6; the subject is discussed more fully than it can be here, and with some of its scientific technicalities. Celsius has mentioned fifteen woods for which the honour has been claimed. More modern disputants have suggested five, of these the red sandalwood being considered, perhaps, the likeliest. So great an authority as Dr. Hooker pronounces that it is a question quite undetermined. But inasmuch as it is so undetermined, it would seem possible that, if it were a precious wood of the smaller kind (as e.g. ebony with us), and, so to say, of shy growth in Lebanon, it might be that it did grow in Lebanon, but that a very insufficient supply of it there was customarily supplemented by the imports received from Ophir. Or, again, it may be that the words, "out of Lebanon," are simply misplaced (1 Kings 5:8), and should follow the words, "fir trees." The rendering "pillars" in 1 Kings 10:12 for "rails" or "props" is unfortunate, as the other quoted uses of the wood for "harps" and "psalteries" would all betoken a small as well as very hard wood. Lastly, it is a suggestion of Canon Rawlinson that, inasmuch as the almug wood of Ophir came via Phoenicia and Hiram, Solomon may very possibly have been ignorant that "Lebanon" was not its proper habitat. Thy servants can skill to cut timber. This same testimony is expressed yet more strongly in 1 Kings 5:6, "There is not any among us that can skill to hew timber like the Sidoniaus." Passages like 2 Kings 19:23; Isaiah 14:8; Isaiah 37:24, go to show that the verb employed in our text is rightly rendered "hew," as referring to the felling rather than to any subsequent dressing and sawing up of the timber. It is, therefore, rather more a point of interest to learn in what the great skill consisted which so threw Israelites into the shade, while distinguishing Hiram's servants. It is, of course, quite possible that the "hewing," or "felling," may be taken to infer all the subsequent cutting, dressing, etc. Perhaps the skill intended will have included the best selection of trees, as well as the neatest and quickest laying of them prostrate, and if beyond this it included the sawing and dressing and shaping of the wood, the room for superiority of skill would be ample. My servants (so Isaiah 37:2, Isaiah 37:18; 1 Kings 5:15).

2 Chronicles 2:10

Beaten wheat. In 1 Kings 5:11 the language is "wheat for food" ( מַכֹּלֶת ), while the Septuagint gives καὶ μαχεὶρ. In our present passage the Septuagint gives εἰς βρώματα, suggesting at once that our Hebrew מִכּוֹת is an error for מַכֹּלֶת. The former Hebrew word is that constantly employed for "plagues," "strokes," etc; and it is nowhere but in this place rendered "beaten." I will give to thy servants. This passage is hard to reconcile with what is said in 1 Kings 5:11; but meantime it is not certain that it needs to be reconciled with it. It is possible that the two passages are distinct. The contents of the present verse, at all events, need not be credited with any ambiguity, unless, indeed, we would wish it more definite, whether the expression, "I will give to thy servants," may not be quite as correctly understood, "for thy servants," i.e. to thee as the hire of them. If this be so, it would enable us to give at once all the wheat, and two hundred out of the 20,000 baths of oil, for the consumption, not of the literal workmen, but of the royal household. Then this granted, the verse, though not identical with 1 Kings 5:11, is brought into harmony with it. Reverting to the statement in 1 Kings 5:1-18; what we learn is that Solomon, in his application to Hiram, offers payment for the hire of his servants such as he shall appoint (1 Kings 5:6). Hiram's reply is that he shall be satisfied to receive as payment "food for his household" (1 Kings 5:9), the amount of it and the annual payment of it being specified in 1 Kings 5:11. This is the whole case, the discrepancies in which are plain, but they do not amount to contradictions. The appearance that is worn on the face of things is that the writer in Chronicles gives what came to be the final arrangement as to remuneration, though confessedly it is placed as much as the account in Kings in the draft of Solomon's original application to Hiram. Measures. These were cots, and the cot was the same as the homer. From a calculation of some doubtfulness, however, made under the suggestions of 1 Kings 4:22, it has been said that the consumption of the royal household of Solomon was above 32,000 measures. The cor, or homer, was the largest of the five dry measures of capacity, being equal to 180 cabs, 100 omers, 30 seahe, 10 ephahs, though what was the exact value of any one of these in modern measures has only been uncertainly and very approximately arrived at. Baths. The bath was the largest of the three liquid measures of capacity, being equal to 6 bins and 72 logs.

2 Chronicles 2:11

Huram … answered in writing. It is impossible to argue with any but superficial plausibility that Solomon had not used writing. In the parallel of Kings an identical expression is used for the communications of both: "Solomon sent to Hiram" (2 Chronicles 2:2), and "Hiram sent to Solomon" (2 Chronicles 2:8). The productions of the forms of this correspondence by Josephus ('Ant. Jud.,' 8.2) and Eupolemus ('Ap. Praep. Evang.,' 9.33) are, of course, merely mythical. Because the Lord hath loved his people. This beautiful expression has parallels, not only in such passages as 2 Chronicles 9:8; 1 Kings 10:9; but in such as Deuteronomy 7:13; Deuteronomy 10:15; Psalms 47:4; Psalms 115:12; Jeremiah 31:3; Hosea 11:1, Hosea 11:4. These were all precursors of the fuller assertion and kinder demonstration of God's love repeated so often and in such tender connections in the Epistles of the New Testament. This verse and the following are also testimony to the indirect influences on surrounding nations of the knowledge of the one true Creator-God and Ruler-God, that was domiciled by special revelation and oracle (Romans 3:2) with Israel. Where nations near were bitter foes, they often feared Israel's God, whereas now they were friends they could summon to their lips the highest of the outbursts of praise, not to say of adoration. The very noteworthy sympathy of Hiram with Israel may have owed something to his personal predilection for David (1 Kings 5:1). And this again is convincing testimony to the worth and usefulness of individual character which here influenced the destiny of two whole nations.

2 Chronicles 2:13

Of Huram my father's. The words of 2 Chronicles 4:11, 2 Chronicles 4:16 would invest these with suspicion, if nothing that occurred before did, as e.g. the parallel passage (1 Kings 7:13, 1 Kings 7:14, 1 Kings 7:40). There can be no doubt from these passages that the name Huram of this verse is the name of the workman sent (the lamed prefixed being only the objective sign), not the supposed name of King Hiram's father, which, as already seen, was Abibaal. But the following word translated "my father" ( אָבִי ) is less easily explained; 2 Chronicles 4:16 ("his father") is quite sufficient to negative the rendering" father" altogether. In our text altogether inappropriate, it may be called there altogether impossible. It has been proposed to render it as a proper name Abi, or as an affix of honour, Ab, equal to "master." However, Gesenius (in 'Lexicon,' sub roe. אב (6), which see) furnishes a signification, "chief counsellor,'' which (taking it to mean chief counsellor, or as it were expert, chief referee, or even only foreman in such matters as might be in question) would well suit all the passages, and remove all difficulty.

2 Chronicles 2:14

Son of a woman … of Dan. Both this and the parallel (1 Kings 7:14) agree as to the father of this very clever workman, that he was "a man of Tyre." But the parallel gives the mother as a woman "of the tribe of Naphtali," and calls her a "widow." This must mean, either that she was a widow now, or that she was a widow when "the man of Tyre" married her. If this latter is the correct meaning, it has been suggested that, though the mother was really a woman of the daughters of Dan, yet the husband who, dying, left her a widow, was of the tribe of Naphtali, and that from this she became credited with belonging to that tribe. It would seem not altogether impossible that it may be intended to state, in a delicate way, that this remarkably able man was the natural son of the widow in question, "the man of Tyre" (not called her husband) being the father. On the intermarriages of Danites and Phoenicians, see Blunt's 'Coincidences,' pt. 2. 4. Skilful … to find out every device. (For the identical phrase, see Exodus 31:4.) The present verse, exceeding in definiteness verse 7, supra, undoubtedly purports on the face of it to ascribe a very wide range of practical skill, and not merely general administrative and directing skill, to Hiram. Note, however, the significance couched in the last clauses of both verses.

2 Chronicles 2:15

The contents of this verse cannot be supposed to imply that King Hiram is eager for the pay to be remembered, but are equivalent to saying promptly that all things are ready to begin, and that therefore the commissariat must be ready also.

2 Chronicles 2:16

Joppa, This was one of the most ancient of towns, and is referred to by Pliny ('Hist. Nat.,' 2 Chronicles 5:13), as "Joppa Phoenicum, antiquior terrarum inundatione, ut ferunt." Its name ( יָפוֹ, "beauty") is said to have been justified by the beautiful groves in its neighbourhood. It is mentioned Joshua 19:46 as Japho, where also we learn the circumstances under which the Dan tribe were possessed of it. It is remarkable that it is not mentioned again till our present verse, not even in the parallel (1 Kings 5:9). But it appears again in Ezra 3:7; Jonah 1:3, and in several places in the Acts of the Apostles. The modern name of it is Joffa, and it is not reputed as a good port now. It was distant from Jerusalem some thirty-four miles. The carriage of the tim-bet this road-journey is nowhere described in detail, nor is the exact spot of the coast west of Lebanon mentioned where the flotes were made, and thence despatched.

2 Chronicles 2:17

Strangers. By these are meant those of the former inhabitants and possessors of the land, who had not been extirpated or driven out. Special regulations respecting them are recorded in 1:21-28, 1:33-36. But these had largely lapsed till, as it appears, David revived them rather trenchantly, and David is now followed by Solomon (2 Chronicles 8:7, 2 Chronicles 8:8; 1 Kings 9:20, 1 Kings 9:21). The very much milder enforcement of labour upon the Israelites themselves is evident from 1 Kings 5:13-16. After the numbering wherewith David his father had numbered them. Of this transaction on the part of David we do not possess any absolutely distinct statement. But the place of it is sufficiently evident, as indicated in 1 Chronicles 22:2.

2 Chronicles 2:18

Three thousand and six hundred. Adding to these the 250 of 2 Chronicles 8:10, infra, the total 3850 of 1 Kings 5:16 is exactly reached. That total, however, is reached by a somewhat different classification, the division being into 3300 "strangers," and 500 "chief of the officers" (1 Kings 9:23). The explanation probably is that of the 3600 "stranger" overseers, the small proportion of 300 were of much higher grade in office than the rest, and were ranked by the writer in Kings with those overseers (250) of Solomon, who were probably Israelites.

HOMILETICS

2 Chronicles 2:1-18

This chapter, in a homiletic point of view, invites attention to

Those methods (or some of them) of religious enterprise which go to ensure success and to issue in real usefulness.

For we may notice here—

I. THE REPEATED RECORD, ON THE PART OF SOLOMON, OF HIS RESOLUTION OR DETERMINATION. "Solomon determined." The enterprise "of building a house to the Name of the Lord" had been set before him. He knew it had been in his father's mind. He had heard it in the earnest tones of a father's prayer. He had listened to the urgent, loving, proud tones of a father's charge to a son. He had, no doubt, said "Yes" with lip and heart. But now after coronation, vision, prayer, and gracious promise, he takes up the enterprise, and lifts up the responsibility, and makes the resolution all his own.

II. THE ADDING TO RESOLUTION THE COMMENCEMENT OF ACTUAL WORK. Resolutions there have often been, and strong ones, determinations alike deliberate and enthusiastic, which nevertheless have gone the same way by which, to a proverb, mere good intentions so very frequently go! Solomon's immediate setting to work is by far the simplest, surest safeguard. He makes the preparations nearest to hand, and that were within his own command. He seeks the help of others at a distance, both forecasting his own needs for the work, and also drawing upon memories of his father's doings and his father's experiences.

III. SUCH BEGINNING OF ACTUAL WORK AS WAS PROOF AGAINST THAT FERTILE SOURCE OF FAILURE THAT COMES OF STUMBLING ON THE THRESHOLD. Early disappointments go a long way toward disheartenment. And early disappointments originate most frequently in one or both of two causes—viz, in letting things drift, go by default, or take their own chance; or, on the other hand, in a busy disorder. Many a promising work of a man of good intention has been wrecked in these ways. But here there was order in what Solomon did at home, and distinctness and order in what he asked for far away from home. And it all told. All helped him and his work to find favour with God and man.

Lastly, TWO GREAT TRIBUTARIES TO SUCCESS IN THE MORAL QUALITIES WHICH SOLOMON EXHIBITS, as shown in:

1. The great respect he has to "the ordinance for ever to Israel," which centred in "the house to the Name of the Lord," to be dedicated to him, with all its various services (2 Chronicles 2:4).

2. The humble estimate he rightly entertains of himself, in all comparison of the work which he had to do, and him for whom it was to be done (2 Chronicles 2:5, 2 Chronicles 2:6).

HOMILIES BY W. CLARKSON

2 Chronicles 2:1

The three elements in human purpose.

"And Solomon determined to build a house," etc. And whence came this purpose of the king's heart? From the depths of his own soul; or were there not other elements besides that of his own volition? This determination which is here chronicled as a simple act of one mind was, as most of our resolutions are, more complex in its character than it seemed.

I. THE OUTSIDE HUMAN ELEMENTS—the human element which is outside ourselves. In this case David's influence had much, very much to do with it. It was he who initiated the work (2 Samuel 7:2). Moreover, he urged Solomon to proceed with it after his own death, and even laid by stores in partial preparation for it (1 Chronicles 22:11, 1 Chronicles 22:14). Solomon, in "determining" to build a house, was really resolving to go on with an undertaking which he had already promised his father to carry out. Who shall tell how much the thought and the desire of other people influence ,the choices we are making, and consequently the course we are pursuing? Perhaps it is very seldom indeed that we "determine" to enter a new path without owing much to the influence of others; it may be, as in Solomon's case, to the action of a past generation, or it may be to that of our contemporaries and companions. Only he who searches the most secret chambers of the soul can tell how much of our best resolves is due to the influence of our best friends.

II. THE DIVINE ELEMENT. God had already given his distinct sanction and encouragement to the proceeding (2 Samuel 7:13). And this Divine decision, communicated by the Prophet Nathan, must have had a very powerful weight in Solomon's determination. It would seem to be enough, of itself, to decide the matter. How much God has to do with our decisions we do not know, but probably more than we ordinarily imagine. We often and earnestly ask him to affect our mind and will by the enlightenment and influence of his own Spirit; we believe that he has access to us and power over us, and can touch and quicken us at his will. Why should we not believe that he is frequently, continually with us, acting upon us, controlling and directing us, powerfully and graciously affecting our determinations and our character?

III. THE INDIVIDUAL ELEMENT. However much in Solomon's decision was due to the sources, Divine and human, outside himself, there was room left for his own individuality. He determined to proceed with the work. It was not under compulsion, but with the full consent of his own mind, that he began and continued and completed the noble task. He gave himself to it, he threw his strength into it; so much had he to do with it that it could be said with truth that "Solomon built him a house." When all other influences are taken into the account, it still remains true that our actions are our own; that ultimately we determine upon the course which honours or dishonours our life, which makes or mars our character, which ensures or spoils our prospects.

In view of these three elements in human purpose, there is ground for:

1. Gratitude; for we owe much of our most fruitful actions to the suggestion and counsel of our friends.

2. Humility; for we owe more than we know or think to the inspiration of God.

3. A deep sense of responsibility; for it is in the depths of our own nature we are determining the complexion of our life and the destiny of our soul.—C.

2 Chronicles 2:2, 2 Chronicles 2:3, 2 Chronicles 2:7-10

Human labour.

Concerning the work in which we are engaged as men of action and production, we have here four suggestions.

I. THE AMPLITUDE OF MATERIAL WITH WHICH GOD HAS SUPPLIED US. We have mention made (2 Chronicles 2:7) of different metals—gold, silver, brass, iron; and this enumeration is far from being exhaustive. We have reference (2 Chronicles 2:8) to different trees; and these are only a reminder of all the kinds of timber to be had in the forests of the earth. We have a statement of articles of food (2 Chronicles 2:10), representing various industries; and these again are only suggestive of a large number at our command. The Divine Author of our nature and Builder of our home has given us many tastes and cravings; he has also supplied us with the most ample material on which our skill and our labour can be expended, so that all our wants and even our wishes may be supplied.

II. THE NECESSITY, DIVINELY ORDERED, FOR CORDIAL CO-OPERATION. Solomon had to negotiate with Hiram; the skilled labour of Israel had to be supplemented with the more skilled labour of Tyre (2 Chronicles 2:3, 2 Chronicles 2:8). The servants of one sovereign had to "be with," to co-operate with, those of another, if the house was to be built. And not only had land to work with land, but citizen with citizen, according to individual culture; some had to "bear burdens," others to "hew trees," others to overlook both of these workmen (2 Chronicles 2:2). As one country produces valuable commodities which another lacks; and as one man has a natural faculty of which another is devoid; as the interchange of products and of industries is spreading comfort and acquisition;—we are learning that God has so made this earth and so constituted us, his children, that we may work together, and make one another inheritors of the results of our thought and toil. Commerce is not more human in its outworking than it is Divine in its origin.

III. THE GRADATIONS IN LABOUR. To overlook implies more trained intelligence than manual labour itself involves (2 Chronicles 2:2). And men "cunning to work" and men that bad skill to hew (2 Chronicles 2:8) were superior workmen to those that did the labour of carrying. Work has its gradations; it ascends in rank as it involves natural intelligence and sagacity, long and careful training, faithfulness and trustworthiness.

IV. THE ADVANTAGE OF INTEGRITY TO THOSE WHO COME AFTER US., "Hiram was ever a lover of David." He found that he could trust the King of Israel—that with him piety meant truthfulness and equity. Thus David's integrity made the path of Solomon smooth and easy; it perhaps contributed as much to the work as the various materials he had so carefully stored up for his son. It is impossible to reckon how much thoroughness and uprightness in our labour have to do with our own real success, and how much they do for those who come after us. In this way one generation truly serves another.

V. THE RIGHTEOUS CLAIM OF LABOUR TO A FULL RECOMPENSE. (2 Chronicles 2:10.) "The workman is worthy of his hire" (see James 5:4).

VI. OUR DUTY TO DO OUR BEST. "The house shall, be wonderfully great" (2 Chronicles 2:9). Solomon meant to make it worthy, not only of himself and his kingdom, but even, as far as that might be, of the Lord for whom it was to be erected. It should be constructed of the best materials and with the greatest skill he could command.

1. What we do in the direct service of God has a distinct claim on our highest faculties, on our largest resources. What we do for Christ should be done at the full height of our capacity and opportunity. In his worship and service we should be at our very best.

2. All work, as rendered unto God, should be done faithfully and heartily. Into all the labour of our hands we should put our mind and our strength, because everything is done in the presence of the Master, and should be done with a view to his approval.—C.

2 Chronicles 2:4-6

The acceptableness of the imperfect.

The letter which Solomon wrote to Hiram was one that contained more than a business proposal; it was something beyond the opening of a negotiation; it included some valuable truth which not only may have benefited the then King of Tyro, but may be of real value to us at this date and this distance. For it intimated—

I. THE INESTIMABLE ADVANTAGE OF THE REVEALED RELIGION OVER CONTEMPORARY FAITHS. "Great is our God above all gods" (2 Chronicles 2:5). Great indeed; for he was the living God, and they were only imaginary; he was the holy God, and they were (by supposition) unholy; he was just and kind, and they were capricious and cruel; he could and did hear and answer prayer, and they were powerless and helpless. Who could estimate the priceless advantage to the nation of having for the object of its worship the Lord God of Israel? It makes a difference which is simply incalculable to have as the Object of our worship a Being who is worthy of our devotion. What, then, is it to us to be worshipping the Divine Father revealed to us in and by Jesus Christ?

1. It is to be seeking the favour of that Living One who holds us all in his mighty hand, and is able and is willing to confer upon us inestimable blessings, even unto eternal life.

2. It is to be drawing nigh unto, and to be drawn spiritually towards, the Holy One; it is thus to be attracted in spirit, in sympathy, in character, in life, toward the Perfect One; it is to be gradually, unconsciously, effectually transformed into his likeness. For whom we reverence, we follow; whom we love, we resemble; and just as we worship the Divine Father and love the Divine Friend, so shall we breathe his spirit and bear his likeness.

II. THE IMPERFECTNESS OF THE MATERIAL AND OF THE HUMAN, IN VIEW OF THE DIVINE GREATNESS.

1. The material. "Who is able to build him a house, seeing the heaven … cannot contain him?" The temple of a heathen deity may be supposed by its ignorant devotees to be its residence; it certainly contains its visible image, the idol. But the temple Solomon was about to build could in no true sense become the residence of Jehovah. No building could contain him; "the heaven of heavens" could not do that: how much less an earthly house! There is no cathedral, no Christian sanctuary, that can be properly thought of as the residence or earthly home of Jesus Christ. The heaven where he dwells cannot contain him.

2. The human. "Who am I, that I should build," etc? To be the principal agent in the construction of the one building with which the Name of Jehovah would be associated, and the only building where there would be

And who among the holiest and the wisest of men, who among the most faithful servants of Jesus Christ, can consider himself worthy to be

III. THE ACCEPTABLENESS OF IMPERFECT SERVICE.

1. Though the temple at Jerusalem could not contain God, yet it could render various valuable services (2 Chronicles 2:4, 2 Chronicles 2:6). It was a place where God met with and manifested himself to the people; where they drew consciously near to him, and realized that he was very near to them; where they communed with him and rejoiced before him; where they sought and found forgiveness of their sins; where they made grateful acknowledgment of their indebtedness to him for all blessings; and where they dedicated themselves anew to his service. Imperfect as it was, and utterly unable to constitute the residence of Deity, it yet answered most useful ends.

2. And thus with us who are the servants of God. Imperfection marks our character and our work; we are not worthy to "build him a house," nor to do anything, however humble, in his name and cause. Yet God will bless us, Christ will own and honour us as his servants, if only we are loyal and true. "To the wicked God says, What hast thou to do to declare my statutes?" etc. (Psalms 50:16). But to the upright in heart (including the penitent, see Psalms 51:12, Psalms 51:13), to all those who have returned in spirit to him, and who sincerely desire to extend his reign over the hearts of men, he is ever saying, "Go, work in my vineyard; go, build up my kingdom; go, gather my erring sons and daughters, and lead them home to my heart."—C.

2 Chronicles 2:11

God's care for the country.

"Because the Lord hath loved his people, he hath made thee king over them." We reach our subject by the remembrance of—

I. GOD'S ATTITUDE TOWARD ISRAEL IN RESPECT OF THE MONARCHY UP TO SOLOMON'S TIME. It has to be considered:

1. That for a visible human sovereignty God held the people themselves responsible. He did not impose it; nor did he suggest it; nor did he desire it; on the other hand, by the mouth of his servant Samuel, he strongly dissuaded from it (see 1 Samuel 8:1-22.).

2. That, granting their request, God gave them a king on their own chosen principle. They demanded a sovereign they could see and hear, one that would be a king "after the flesh;" and on this fleshly and material principle God selected one that had bodily advantages (see 1 Samuel 10:23, 1 Samuel 10:24).

3. That, when Saul failed, God had pity upon them, and gave them a man after his own choice—a man who had, truly, some serious defects—as who had not?—but who, by the fascination of his bearing, by the courage and capacity of his leadership, by his unswerving loyalty to his God, bound the nation together, overcame its numerous enemies, extended its borders, and held it fast to the service of Jehovah. And now God had given to the people David's son, Solomon. And we look at—

II. GOD'S GIFT TO ISRAEL IN PREFERRING SOLOMON TO THE THRONE. It was a Divine appointment, that made for:

1. National piety. Solomon regarded as the great act of his reign the "building a house for the Name of the Lord." And the erection of the temple and the subsequent arrangement of its services did much to bind the people, not of Jerusalem only but of the entire kingdom, to the worship of Jehovah. It promoted national piety by securing the adherence of the people to the service of the true and living God. And this piety meant more than worship; it meant purity also, a sound morality. For no man could be an acceptable worshipper of Jehovah who did not renounce iniquity and seek after righteousness and blamelessness of life.

2. National peace. Solomon, true to his name, was a man of peace. The nation had known enough of war under David; it required peace, and this Solomon gave it. In this matter almost everything then and there depended upon the character and spirit of the monarch. A war-like king would create national hostilities; a peace-loving king ensured national rest from strife. We know what war means; it may mean glory, enlargement, enrichment; it must mean cruelty, passion, pain, death, desolation in heart and home; it must mean an arrest laid upon national industry and enterprise. But by the promotion of Solomon God was providing for:

3. National industry. During his reign a great stimulus was given to the industrial arts and to the commerce of the country. Israel opened its eyes to see what it had not had any glimpse of before, and an immense stride was taken in the path of civilization and production.

Thus God cared for the country which he had especially made his own. Thus he cares for all countries, when he raises up men that seek the piety (and with that the morality), the peace, the industry, of the people. Thus shall we be truly working with God when we live to promote these great causes. It is in these things that a nation finds its real prosperity; and he is the faithful citizen of his native laud who throws his influence, in every open way, into these scales; it is he who truly loves and serves his country.—C.

2 Chronicles 2:13-18

Lessons from the labourers.

The interesting particulars we have of the labours of building the temple give us a variety of suggestions.

I. THE VALUE OF A WISE INTERMINGLING.

1. Of blood. The principal architect and engineer supplied by King Hiram was a man of mixed blood; his father was a man of Tyro, but his mother was a Jewess (see 1 Kings 7:14), and he appears to have been a man of unusual ability. The mixture of races is proved to be of a very distinct advantage, and we may be very thankful that the discords and contentions of our early history resulted in the mingling of the virtues of Saxon, Celt, and Roman in the English of our own time.

2. Of labour. "I have sent a cunning man.; to find out every device … with thy cunning men" (2 Chronicles 2:14). International exchange and co-operation are of immense value, and will prove to be more and more so as the nations open their doors, and all peoples meet and mingle together (see homily on 2 Chronicles 2:2, 2 Chronicles 2:3, 2 Chronicles 2:7-10).

II. A BENEFICENT APPEAL TO OUR INTELLIGENCE. (2 Chronicles 2:14.) In the variety of material with which God has supplied us we find a striking instance of his creative kindness. It is conceivable that he might have placed us on a planet which had little elemental variety, and which did not therefore admit of many combinations. But on this earth there is practically no limit to the variety of productions, by the putting forth of our observation, ingenuity, and skill. Herein we have very much more, and very much better, than a provision for our comforts; we have an effective appeal to our intelligence, a constant development of our intellectual powers, an elevation of our manhood. It is a rich and noble home, furnished with everything that meets the needs of our complex nature, in which our heavenly Father has placed us.

III. THE POWER WE POSSESS OVER THE ELEMENTS OF NATURE. (2 Chronicles 2:16.) At that time and in that country men had learned to hew down the tall trees, to cut and carve them into what size and shape they liked, to carry them across the land, and to employ the sea as a highway. "We will bring it to thee in flotes by sea." The sea, with its depth and breadth, with its swelling billows and its fearful storms, may well have been regarded at first as an impassable barrier between land and land, as a decisive limit put upon our progress. But we have made it a common highway on which to travel, by which to transport our treasures, and we can map our route and calculate our time with nearly as much regularity as on the still and solid land. Indeed, we can rule the elements of nature much more readily and constantly than we can govern the forces within our own breast. These too often baffle our skill and defeat our purpose. Our greatest difficulty and truest triumph is in turning to good account the elements of our own human nature.

IV. AN UNCONSCIOUS ANTICIPATION OF GOSPEL BREADTH. (2 Chronicles 2:17, 2 Chronicles 2:18.) Solomon employed "the strangers" to do the triple work, here specified, in the temple-building. Moreover, he had recourse to the King of Tyre and to his "cunning workmen." So that we have Gentiles as well as Jews engaged in this work which we may regard as the work of the Lord. Between that event and the present time there was to come a long period of exclusiveness which manifested itself in most ungracious forms in the days of our Lord. But this co-operation of those without and those within the sacred pale is predictive of the glorious breadth of these later times, when, in Christ Jesus, there is neither Jew nor Gentile, barbarian nor Soythian, bend nor free. There is an absolutely open way to the kingdom of God, and an equally open gate into the broad field of holy usefulness.—C.

HOMILIES BY T. WHITELAW

2 Chronicles 2:1-10

A great project: the building of a temple.

I. THE PROJECT CONCEIVED. (2 Chronicles 2:1.) A project:

1. Not new, but old. Not taken up by Solomon for the first time, but one his father David had years before meditated, though not permitted to execute it, because he had been "a man of war, and had shed blood '(1 Chronicles 28:3).

2. Not self-devised, but delegated, Not assumed out of vanity or from purely political motives, but handed down to him in circumstances of great solemnity by his royal sire (1 Chronicles 28:1-10).

3. Not sinful, but approved. Not "proceeding from the sight of the temple service of the Phoenicians and Philistines and of their ostentatious cultus" (Duncker), but commanded by Jehovah, who indicated his wish that it should be carried forward to completion by David's son (2 Samuel 7:13)

4. Not subordinate, but principal. Not after he had built a palace for himself, a house for his kingdom," but before, so giving God and religion the chief and foremost place in the thoughts of his mind and the activities of his reign. "Seek ye first the kingdom of God," etc. (Matthew 6:33).

II. THE PROJECT ANNOUNCED. (2 Chronicles 2:4.)

1. The person informed. Huram, Hiram (1 Kings 5:1), Hirom (1 Kings 7:40)—probably the original (Schrader), εἵρωμος (Josephus, Contra Apion, 1.17), Hirummu (Assyrian), Chirom (Phoenician). The name, probably equivalent to Achirom, signifies "Brother or Friend of the highness" (s.c. of Baal). Whether this was David's friend (1 Chronicles 14:1), who had negotiations with him prior to the building of his palace (2 Samuel 5:11), and therefore before the birth of Solomon (2 Samuel 11:2), is disputed, chiefly on the ground that he must then have reigned considerably over forty years, whereas Menander (Josephus, 'Contra Apion,' 1.18) assigns to Solomon's friend a reign of thirty-four years. But a reign of fifty years was not impossible either then (Uzziah, 2 Chronicles 26:3; Manasseh, 2 Chronicles 33:1) or now (George III; Queen Victoria). The proposal to regard Solomon's friend as the son of David's (Thenius, Bertheau) is exposed to the difficulty that the father of Solomon's friend was Abibaal (Josephus)—a difficulty which may be removed by supposing that Abibaal was a surname of the first Hiram, or that the first Hiram was the father of Abibaal. There is, however, no sufficient ground for challenging the identity of the two Hirams; and upon the whole it is as likely that Menander and Josephus have erred as to the length of Hiram's reign, as it is that the Hebrew writers have confounded father and son.

2. The communication made. "I build an house," etc. Ancient kings were wont to erect temples to their tutelar divinities. Urukh of Chaldea founded temples—of the moon at Ur, of the sun at Larsa, of Venus at Erech ('Records,' 3.9); while the magnificent shrines of Memphis, Thebes (Karnack), and Edfou were constructed by Egyptian Pharaohs "for the houses of the gods whose existence is for endless years" (Brugsch, 'Egypt under the Pharaohs,' 1.322). These may be used to illustrate the nature of Solomon's project.

III. THE PROJECT EXPLAINED. (2 Chronicles 2:5, 2 Chronicles 2:6.) Solomon's temple was to be "great," "exceeding magnifical, of fame and of glory throughout all countries" (1 Chronicles 22:5). A resplendent edifice, designed:

1. For a lofty purpose. For the honour of a great God.

2. For a noble use. Not to contain this immeasurably great and glorious Divinity (2 Chronicles 6:18), seeing that Jehovah dwelleth not in temples made with hands (Isaiah 66:1; Acts 7:47), but inhabiteth eternity (Isaiah 57:15), and filleth heaven and earth with his presence (Jeremiah 23:24); but to be a visible centre for his worship, to be dedicated to him for the burning before him of sweet incense, etc. Hitherto the people had sacrificed in local sanctuaries (1 Kings 3:2), Solomon himself being no exception (2 Chronicles 1:3; 1 Kings 3:4); henceforth the nation's sacrificial worship was to be concentrated in the capital and to circulate round the temple. The different parts of that worship here mentioned are those specified by Moses in connection with the tabernacle.

IV. THE PROJECT PREPARED FOR. (2 Chronicles 2:2, 2 Chronicles 2:18.)

1. The furnishing of workmen. (2 Chronicles 2:2, 2 Chronicles 2:18.)

"So work the honey bees;

Creatures that by a rule in nature teach

The act of order to a peopled kingdom."

('King Henry V.,' act 1. sc. 2.)

2. The securing of materials. In addition to the stores gathered and given by his lately deceased father—gold, silver, brass, iron, wood, precious stones (1 Chronicles 29:2-5)—Solomon required cedar, fir, and algum trees out of Lebanon. Found nowhere in Palestine except Lebanon, the cedar was a rapidly growing, high-reaching, widespreading, and long-living tree, whose beautiful white wood was much prized for architectural purposes (2 Chronicles 3:5; 1 Kings 6:15; Jeremiah 22:14). The fir, often mentioned in connection with the cedar (Isaiah 14:8; Isaiah 37:24), was a "choice" and "goodly" tree, whose wood was used for building ships (Ezekiel 7:5) and making musical instruments (2 Samuel 6:5), and was now to be employed for flooring, ceiling, and doors in the temple (1 Kings 6:15, 1 Kings 6:34). The algum, probably the red sandalwood, fetched along with gold and precious stones from Ophir (2 Chronicles 9:10, 2 Chronicles 9:11; 1 Kings 10:11) by Solomon's and Hiram's fleets, and here inaccurately said to have grown in Lebanon, was used by Solomon for making pillars for the temple and the palace, as well as harps and psalteries for singers. These different sorts of timber accordingly Solomon sent for from Hiram, his father's friend and his own (1 Kings 5:3).

3. The obtaining of a skilled artificer. This also he courteously solicited from Hiram, whose subjects were the "artists" of the day (see homily on 'The two Hirams'). Both requests were accompanied with a promise of generous support to the workmen and the artist (1 Kings 5:10), and both were frankly honoured.

Learn:

1. The highest glory of a king (or private person) is to seek the glory of God (John 8:50).

2. Great undertakings, especially in religion and the Church, should be gone about with deliberation, and only after due preparation (Luke 14:28).

3. The meanest service in connection with God's house is honourable (Psalms 84:10).

4. The value of friendship (Proverbs 27:10).

5. Humble thoughts of self the best preparation for acceptable service of God (2 Corinthians 3:5).

6. The talents of unbelievers may be legitimately employed in the service of the Church, seeing that "gifts" are from God, no less than "graces" (Job 32:8).

7. The Church should honourably requite those who aid in her undertakings, since "the labourer is worthy of his hire" (Luke 10:7; 1 Timothy 5:18).—W.

2 Chronicles 2:9

A wonderful great house.

I. ITS BUILDER. The temple of Solomon was constructed by Solomon the son of David; the temple of the Christian Church by Jesus, David's Son, but also David's Lord, the Only-Begotten of the Father, whose name is "Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 45:13; Hebrews 3:3).

II. ITS MATERIALS. The temple of Solomon was fashioned out of gold, silver, precious stones, etc.; the temple of the Christian Church out of lively stones, or believing and regenerated souls (1 Peter 2:5).

III. ITS SITE. The temple of Solomon stood on Mount Moriah, where Jehovah had appeared to Abraham and afterwards to David, its walls reaching down to and rising up from the solid rock; the temple of the Christian Church rests upon the immovable rock of Christ's Person (Matthew 16:18; Ephesians 2:20), in whom the clearest and fullest revelation of the Father has been made to men (John 1:18; John 14:9).

IV. ITS CONSTRUCTION. The temple of Solomon had two apartments—a holy place and a holy of holies, the former for the worshipping priests, the latter for the worshipped God; the Church of Jesus Christ has only one chamber, the separating veil being done away, in fact rent in twain, by the sacrifice of the cross (Matthew 27:51; Hebrews 10:20).

V. ITS ADORNMENTS. The temple of Solomon was radiant with gold and silver and decorations of carved work; the Church of Jesus Christ is rendered beautiful by the inward graces of the Spirit (Psalms 149:4; 1 Peter 3:3).

VI. ITS PROPORTIONS. The temple of Solomon was, after all, hut a small structure; the temple of the Christian Church is a spacious house of many mansions (John 14:1).

VII. ITS USES. The temple of Solomon was designed as a habitation for Jehovah's symbolic presence; the Church of Jesus Christ is a habitation for Jehovah himself through the Spirit (Ephesians 2:22).

Learn:

1. The glory of the Christian Church.

2. The superiority of the gospel dispensation.

3. The nobler privilege of New Testament believers.—W.

2 Chronicles 2:11-15

The two Hirams.

I. HIRAM THE KING.

1. His kingdom. Phoenicia Variously explained as "the land of palms," "the land of purple-dyeing." "the land of the brown-red," with reference to the colour of the skin of its inhabitants, Phoenicia in Solomon's time was bounded on the west by the Mediterranean, on the east by Lebanon, on the south by the kingdom of Israel, while towards the north the limit was uncertain, though usually fixed about Arvad, thus making in all a territory a hundred and twenty miles long and twenty miles broad. "It is a liberal estimate for the area to reckon it at four thousand square miles, which is less than that of at least one English county,. Well watered by streams from Lebanon, the country was extremely fertile. In addition to cedars on the heights of Lebanon, fruit trees and vines clothed its slopes, whilst the valleys yielded an abundance of palms, fat pasture, garden produce, and corn. Silicious earth for making glass was found upon the coast, which also furnished the purple shells necessary for dyeing. Iron and probably copper were obtained at Sarepta and elsewhere (Riehm, Handworterbuch, art. Phoenicien ).

2. His capital. Tyre—in Hebrew Sor, in Assyrian Surru, in Old Latin Sarra. The city is supposed to have been so called because of its having been built—at least the insular part of it—upon a rock. Most likely younger than Sidon, it was yet a city "whose antiquity was of ancient days" (Jeremiah 23:7). Founded two hundred and forty years before the building of Solomon's temple (Josephus, 'Ant.,' 8.3. 1), it was greatly celebrated for its natural and artificial splendour (Ezekiel 27:3). Planted in a pleasant place (Hosea 9:13), it was afterwards compared to "a virgin bathing in the sea, a Tartessus ship swimming upon the ocean, an island on shore, and a city in the sea" (Kitto's ' Cyclopaedia,' art. "Tyre').

3. His subjects. The men of Tyro. Renowned as wood-cutters and artists, "skilful to work in gold, and in silver, in brass, in iron, in stone, and in timber, in purple, in blue, and in fine linen, and in crimson," they were likewise merchants who traded with all parts of the then known world (Ezekiel 27:1-36). As to physical characteristics, on the whole "the Phoenicians probably, both in form and feature, very much resembled the Jews who were their near neighbours, and who occasionally intermarried with them (1 Kings 11:1; 1 Kings 16:31; 2 Chronicles 2:14), while as to moral characteristics, they shared those of the Western Semites generally—"first, pliability combined with iron fixedness of purpose; secondly, depth and force; thirdly, a yearning for dreamy ease, together with a capacity for the hardest work; fourthly, a love of abstract thought; and fifthly, religiousness, together with an intensely spiritual conception of the Deity".

4. His history. A son of Abibaal, the first King of Tyro, and a contemporary as well as friend of both David and Solomon (see preceding homily), he was clearly a man of culture. He could write, and in that accomplishment many later kings, even in Christian times and in our own land, have been deficient. Withred, King of Kent, A.D. 700, thus concluded a charter to secure the liberties of the Church: "All the above dictated by myself I have confirmed, and, because I cannot write, I have with mine own hand expressed this by putting the sign of the holy cross + ' (Adam Clarke). Writing, however, had been introduced into Phoenicia from Egypt long before the days of Hiram. Whether copies of the epistolary correspondence of Hiram and Solomon were preserved in "the public records of Tyre" (Josephus, ' Ant.,' 8.2. 8) may be doubtful, but no ground exists for challenging the accuracy of the biblical account that both Solomon and Hiram could write.

5. His character. Originally a worshipper of Baal, and a restorer of the temple of the sun-god, he appears to have become an enlightened and sincere follower of Jehovah, whom he recognizes as not merely the national Divinity of Israel, but also as the Maker of heaven and earth (2 Chronicles 2:12). That he was courteous and kind, his intercourse both with David and Solomon attests. That he was a shrewd man of business, who could look well after his own interest, shines out by no means dimly in the hint given to Solomon to forward "the wheat and the barley, the oil and the wine, which my lord had spoken of," when he would see to the felling of the timber (2 Chronicles 2:15, 2 Chronicles 2:16).

II. HIRAM THE ARTIST.

1. His parentage. The son of a Tyrian brass-worker, and of a Danite widow belonging to the tribe of Naphtali.(2 Chronicles 2:14; 1 Kings 7:14), he was probably on this account selected by the aged sovereign as one likely to be acceptable to the Hebrew monarch and his people. The discrepancy as to the tribe from which Hiram's mother proceeded may be removed by supposing that she was originally a Danite maiden, whose first husband belonged to the tribe of Naphtali, and whose second was a Tyrian.

2. His profession. A sort of universal genius, who had skill and understanding to find out every device put before him—like the artist Harmon, of whom Homer ('Iliad,' 5.59, 60) says that he "knew how to form with his hands all ingenious things." "As Theodore of Samos was an architect, a caster of works in bronze, an engraver of signets, and a maker of minute works in the precious metals, as Michael Angelo Buonarotti was at once a painter, a sculptor, an architect, and a worker in bronze", so Hiram of Tyro, like Bezaleel (Exodus 31:4), was goldsmith, silversmith, brazier, iron-worker, stone-carver, wood-engraver, linen-weaver, all in one.

3. His renown. On account of professional eminence the king had dignified him with the title Abi, "my father," which meant "master;" in the sense that he was both master of his work and master of works for the king, as afterwards he is styled Solomon's father (2 Chronicles 4:16), because he manufactured for Solomon the vessels for the house of the Lord. Compare Joseph's calling himself "a father," i.e. a master or manager, "to Pharaoh" (Genesis 45:8).

Learn:

1. The highest office of a king—to promote the material, intellectual, and religious prosperity of his people.

2. The proper duty of friendship—to rejoice in the welfare, co-operate in the undertakings, and reciprocate the courtesies of others.

3. The noblest service of art—to consecrate its genius to the glory of God and the advancement of true religion.—W.

 


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Exell, Joseph S; Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 2:4". The Pulpit Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tpc/2-chronicles-2.html. 1897.

Commentary Navigator
Search This Commentary
Enter query in the box below
To report dead links, typos, or html errors or suggestions about making these resources more useful use our convenient contact form
Powered by Lightspeed Technology