2 Chronicles 2


‘Solomon gave orders to build a temple for the Name of the LORD and a royal palace for himself. He conscripted 70,000 men as carriers and 80,000 as stonecutters in the hills and 3,600 as foremen over them. Solomon sent this message to Hiram king of Tyre: “Send me cedar logs as you did for my father David when you sent him cedar to build a palace to live in. Now I am about to build a temple for the Name of the LORD my God and to dedicate it to him for burning fragrant incense before him, for setting out the consecrated bread regularly, and for making burnt offerings every morning and evening and on the Sabbaths, at the New Moons and at the appointed festivals of the LORD our God. This is a lasting ordinance for Israel. “The temple I am going to build will be great, because our God is greater than all other gods. But who is able to build a temple for him, since the heavens, even the highest heavens, cannot contain him? Who then am I to build a temple for him, except as a place to burn sacrifices before him? “Send me, therefore, a man skilled to work in gold and silver, bronze and iron, and in purple, crimson and blue yarn, and experienced in the art of engraving, to work in Judah and Jerusalem with my skilled workers, whom my father David provided. “Send me also cedar, juniper and algum logs from Lebanon, for I know that your servants are skilled in cutting timber there. My servants will work with yours to provide me with plenty of lumber, because the temple I build must be large and magnificent. I will give your servants, the woodsmen who cut the timber, twenty thousand cors of ground wheat, twenty thousand cors of barley, twenty thousand baths of wine and twenty thousand baths of olive oil.” 2 Chronicles 2:1-10

Preparations For Building The Temple

Solomon gets things moving in relation to having the temple built and a royal palace for himself, 1 Kings 5:1-18 / 1 Kings 7:1-12.

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following.

‘The 153,600 men mentioned here were slaves, composed of, ‘Descendants of those Canaanites whom the children of Israel did not drive out.’ From Kings it is clear that Israelites were also conscripted by Solomon for such slave labour and required to devote one month of every three to his service.’

Hiram was the son of a Danite woman who was married to a man of Tyre. Because most of the men of Israel were basically farmers, he assessed how many skilful men he had in Israel, who could do the job of building the temple. he did this before Solomon sought help from King Hiram.

Bezalel and his helper Oholiab, were also really skilled when it came to constructing the tabernacle, Exodus 31:1-6 / Exodus 35:30-36:2.

It appears that Solomon wanted to build the temple as a nationwide display of how great God was above all other gods. In other words, the stronger, bigger and more grandeur the temple was, the stronger and bigger God was, 1 Kings 6:2.

When the tabernacle was built at Mount Sinai, it was to be only a symbol of the presence of God among His people.

Solomon here, was right when he said that no building could ever contain the one true and living God. The temple was to be built, not to contain God, but to be an indicator of His presence among His people. Notice also, that the temple was built, not as a place for assembly, but only as a place where sacrifices were brought and offered.

The Israelite servants worked together with the Gentile servants, that is, those of Hiram’s kingdom, so that the temple could be built.

Gill, in his commentary, says the following, concerning the cedar trees, fir trees, and algum trees, out of Lebanon.

‘Of the two first of these, and which Hiram sent, 1 Kings 5:10. The algum trees are the same as the algum trees, 1 Kings 10:11 by a transposition of letters. these could not be coral, as some Jewish writers think, which grows in the sea, for these were in Lebanon, nor Brazil, as Kimchi, so-called from a place of this name, which at this time was not known, though there were trees of algum afterwards brought from Ophir in India, as appears from the above-quoted place, as well as from Arabia.’

Barnes, in his commentary, says the following.

‘Purple, crimson, and blue, would be needed for the hangings of the temple, which, in this respect, as in others, was conformed to the pattern of the tabernacle, Exodus 25:4 / Exodus 26:1, etc. Hiram’s power of ‘working in purple, crimson,’ etc., was probably a knowledge of the best modes of dyeing cloth these colours. The Phoenicians, off whose coast the murex was commonly taken, were famous as purple dyers from a very remote period.’

Hiram is happy to go along with the plans suggested by Solomon, but he could have asked for more, 1 Kings 5:6. The barley and the wine are omitted in Kings.

The author of Chronicles probably filled out the statement that the writer of Kings has given in brief; the barley, wine, and ordinary oil would be applied to the sustenance of the foreign labourers.

‘Hiram king of Tyre replied by letter to Solomon: “Because the LORD loves his people, he has made you their king.” And Hiram added: “Praise be to the LORD, the God of Israel, who made heaven and earth! He has given King David a wise son, endowed with intelligence and discernment, who will build a temple for the LORD and a palace for himself. “I am sending you Huram-Abi, a man of great skill, whose mother was from Dan and whose father was from Tyre. He is trained to work in gold and silver, bronze and iron, stone and wood, and with purple and blue and crimson yarn and fine linen. He is experienced in all kinds of engraving and can execute any design given to him. He will work with your skilled workers and with those of my lord, David your father. “Now let my lord send his servants the wheat and barley and the olive oil and wine he promised, and we will cut all the logs from Lebanon that you need and will float them as rafts by sea down to Joppa. You can then take them up to Jerusalem.” Solomon took a census of all the foreigners residing in Israel, after the census his father David had taken; and they were found to be 153,600. He assigned 70,000 of them to be carriers and 80,000 to be stonecutters in the hills, with 3,600 foremen over them to keep the people working.’ 2 Chronicles 2:11-18

Notice in Hiram’s reply to Solomon, that he acknowledges the Lord’s love for His people, and as a Gentile king, he recognises Solomon’s kingship.

Barnes, in his commentary, says the following concerning Hiram’s praising of God.

‘This appears to have been a formula designating the Supreme God with several of the Asiatic nations. In the Persian inscriptions, Ormazd is constantly called ‘the great god, who gave’ (or made) ‘heaven and earth’.’

Huram-Abi could be translated as ‘Hiram, my Father’s’, or ‘Hiram, my master craftsman’, or ‘Hiram, my trusted counsellor’. Huram is the workman sent by the king of Tyre and not the king of Tyre’s father, 1 Kings 5:1.

It’s worth noting that most of the labourers who built the temple were made up of Israelites and some Canaanites who came from king Hiram.

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following, concerning Huram-Abi.

‘Critics love to cite this as a discrepancy with 1 Kings 7:14, which refers to her as a widow of the tribe of Naphtali, some even calling it a contradiction. Of course, the two passages teach that Huram-Abi’s mother was, by birth, of the tribe of Dan, and by the residence of the tribe of Naphtali.’

Joppa was the nearest seaport to Jerusalem, located about 35 miles east of Joppa, with rugged territory in between.

Notice that Solomon took a census, this means that Solomon sinned in taking the census, just as his father, David did before him, 1 Chronicles 21:1-17.

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following.

‘There is no device by which this paragraph could be construed as the Chronicler’s compliment to king Solomon. In fact, right here we have the clue to what was wrong with David’s ‘numbering Israel’, 1 Chronicles 22:2f. Both he and Solomon were actually in the business of enslaving all of the aliens and sojourners in Israel, descendants of the original Canaanites whom Israel did not drive out, for one purpose only, that of forcing them to labour in the building of the temple. Here is also the explanation of the total number given at the head of this chapter, namely, 150,000 workers and 3,600 overseers. The census came first, and Solomon compelled all those numbered to enter his forced labour gangs.’

It was the brutal and heartless wickedness of Solomon in this very particular that precipitated the rebellion of the ten northern tribes in the reign of Solomon’s son Rehoboam. It happened when Rehoboam sent the hated slave-driver Adoram to negotiate with the dissatisfied northern tribes, 1 Kings 12:18.

Gill, in his commentary, says the following.

‘2 Chronicles 2:2 shows us how the above number of strangers were disposed of, 70,000 of them bearers of burdens, 80,000 of them hewers of wood, and 3,600 overseers of the workmen, in all 153,600, an emblem of the Gentiles employed in building the spiritual temple, the church, Zechariah 6:15.’

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