Scriptures

1 Kings 4

Introduction

‘So King Solomon ruled over all Israel. And these were his chief officials: Azariah son of Zadok—the priest; Elihoreph and Ahijah, sons of Shisha—secretaries; Jehoshaphat son of Ahilud—recorder; Benaiah son of Jehoiada—commander in chief; Zadok and Abiathar priests; Azariah son of Nathan—in charge of the district governors; Zabud son of Nathan—a priest and adviser to the king; Ahishar—palace administrator; Adoniram son of Abda—in charge of forced labour.’ 1 Kings 4:1-6

Solomon’s Officials And Governors

Because David had defeated all of Israel’s enemies and there was now peace in the land, Solomon was now able to rule over all of Israel as king. Although Israel was still one nation under Solomon, the kingdom was already divided into two kingdoms, Israel, in the north and Judah, in the south, 1 Kings 4:20.

Some of the officials mentioned here had already begun their service as administrators before Solomon became king, 1 Kings 3:15. Azariah, and Zadok were priests who functioned as an advisor to the king. Abiathar was exiled from the presence of Solomon, 1 Kings 2:27 / 1 Kings 2:35. However, since the high priesthood was inherited, he still maintained his position, though not necessarily his function among the people, he was a high priest in name only.

Elihoreph and Ahijah were secretaries who functioned as the correspondent for the king to the people and foreign nations. Jehoshaphat was a recorder, he basically recorded the annuals of the kingdom. Benaiah was in charge of Solomon’s army, Azariah was in charge of the district governors, Nathan, was David’s son, 2 Samuel 5:14,

Ahishar was the palace administrator, he was in charge of carrying out the administration of the king’s court, Genesis 41:40,
and Adoniram was responsible for those who were in forced labour. The Adoniram here is the same as the Adoram of the days of David, 2 Samuel 20:24.

Coffman says the following about Ahishar and Adoniram. ‘One of the great weaknesses of Solomon’s administration was his insistence upon squeezing the last possible amount of money from the people and other help from his subjects. This policy brought about the division of his kingdom following his death, and Adoniram would play a most unhappy role on that occasion, 1 Kings 12:18’.

‘Solomon had twelve district governors over all Israel, who supplied provisions for the king and the royal household. Each one had to provide supplies for one month in the year. These are their names: Ben-Hur—in the hill country of Ephraim; Ben-Deker—in Makaz, Shaalbim, Beth Shemesh and Elon Bethhanan; Ben-Hesed—in Arubboth (Sokoh and all the land of Hepher were his); Ben-Abinadab—in Naphoth Dor (he was married to Taphath daughter of Solomon); Baana son of Ahilud—in Taanach and Megiddo, and in all of Beth Shan next to Zarethan below Jezreel, from Beth Shan to Abel Meholah across to Jokmeam; Ben-Geber—in Ramoth Gilead (the settlements of Jair son of Manasseh in Gilead were his, as well as the region of Argob in Bashan and its sixty large walled cities with bronze gate bars); Ahinadab son of Iddo—in Mahanaim; Ahimaaz— in Naphtali (he had married Basemath daughter of Solomon); Baana son of Hushai—in Asher and in Aloth; Jehoshaphat son of Paruah—in Issachar; Shimei son of Ela—in Benjamin; Geber son of Uri—in Gilead (the country of Sihon king of the Amorites and the country of Og king of Bashan). He was the only governor over the district.’ 1 Kings 4:7-19

When we read these verses, it becomes clear that Israel has now become a monarchy, government is now centralised around Solomon as king, he is now in Jerusalem which has become the capital of the kingdom. Managing any kingdom affairs was done by designated officials who collected taxes, enlisted men into the army, and exercised administrative control over the affairs of the kingdom.

Government construction projects in roads and buildings were carried out by designated officials who received their orders from Jerusalem. Eventually because of this of this monarchy system, the nation of Israel would divide into two kingdoms. Because everything was centred around Judah, the northern tribes were going to cease tolerating such heavy control and taxes and make Jeroboam their king, 1 Kings 11:26-30.

Solomon’s Daily Provisions

‘The people of Judah and Israel were as numerous as the sand on the seashore; they ate, they drank and they were happy. And Solomon ruled over all the kingdoms from the Euphrates River to the land of the Philistines, as far as the border of Egypt. These countries brought tribute and were Solomon’s subjects all his life. Solomon’s daily provisions were thirty cors of the finest flour and sixty cors of meal, ten head of stall-fed cattle, twenty of pasture-fed cattle and a hundred sheep and goats, as well as deer, gazelles, roebucks and choice fowl. For he ruled over all the kingdoms west of the Euphrates River, from Tiphsah to Gaza, and had peace on all sides. During Solomon’s lifetime Judah and Israel, from Dan to Beersheba, lived in safety, everyone under their own vine and under their own fig tree. Solomon had four thousand stalls for chariot horses, and twelve thousand horses. The district governors, each in his month, supplied provisions for King Solomon and all who came to the king’s table. They saw to it that nothing was lacking. They also brought to the proper place their quotas of barley and straw for the chariot horses and the other horses.’ 1 Kings 4:20-28

Straight away we see that the kingdom has already begun to divide into two, ‘the people of Judah and the people of Israel’. Together, they were are as ‘numerous as the sand on the seashore’, which is the part of the fulfilment of God’s promise to Abraham, Genesis 12:1-3 / Genesis 22:17 / Genesis 28:14.

When there is peace in the land, people eat, drink and are happy. Because David had defeated all of Israel’s enemies, the peace he brought continued into the reign of his son Solomon. Solomon extended his kingdom by defeating those nations within Palestine, and those nations who were in subjection to him were made to pay a tribute.

The food for the king’s court for a single day was about thirty cors of fine flour, that is roughly five and half tons, and sixty cors of meal, that is roughly eleven tons. This amount of grain, plus the meat of the animals, is in combination with what the people were also to provide for the Levites.

Although we don’t know the exact number, some people believe there would have been as many as 5000 people in the king’s court. We can only imagine the burden this tax would have been upon the people.

Notice the text says that ‘Solomon had four thousand stalls for chariot horses’. Coffman makes an interesting point about the figures used here.

He says, ‘the parallel account in 2 Chronicles 9:25 gives the number of Solomon’s horses at 4,000, a number favoured by many scholars, but our own opinion is that the number here is just as likely to be correct as the other. The Philistines are reported to have brought 30,000 chariots into battle, 1 Samuel 13:5 and, allowing 2 horses to the chariot would indicate at least 70,000, and the Syrians boasted at least 40,000 horses, 2 Samuel 10:18. Also, the thesis of this whole section regarding Solomon is simply this, that no other king in that entire era approached the magnificence displayed by Solomon. Either number is proof of Solomon’s violation of God’s law in Deuteronomy 17:16.’

Solomon’s Wisdom

‘God gave Solomon wisdom and very great insight, and a breadth of understanding as measureless as the sand on the seashore. Solomon’s wisdom was greater than the wisdom of all the people of the East, and greater than all the wisdom of Egypt. He was wiser than anyone else, including Ethan the Ezrahite—wiser than Heman, Kalkol and Darda, the sons of Mahol. And his fame spread to all the surrounding nations. He spoke three thousand proverbs and his songs numbered a thousand and five. He spoke about plant life, from the cedar of Lebanon to the hyssop that grows out of walls. He also spoke about animals and birds, reptiles and fish. From all nations people came to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, sent by all the kings of the world, who had heard of his wisdom.’ 1 Kings 4:29-34

Solomon’s wisdom was great and he was wiser than anyone else because his wisdom came from God, 1 Kings 3:12. His wisdom was so great that his reputation for his wisdom extended to many nations in the East, but his reputation didn’t stop there, he would become famous all the way to Africa, which in turn prompted a visit from the queen of Sheba, who wanted to see for herself, 1 Kings 10:1-10.

Solomon ‘spoke three thousand proverbs and his songs numbered a thousand and five’, this is a huge number of proverbs and songs and we only have a few available today. We have only a few proverbs which are recorded in the Book of Proverbs and we only have a few songs, which are recorded in the Song of Solomon, Psalm 72, Psalm 132 and Psalm 127.

It’s highly possible that all the other proverbs and songs were either destroyed or taken away by the Babylonians during the Babylonian captivity or it could be that they were simply not inspired of God, 2 Timothy 3:16-17.

Go To 1 Kings 5

DAILY BIBLE VERSE

"No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it."

1 Corinthians 10:13

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