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1 Kings 3:1--5:18

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The Lord Gives Solomon Wisdom

3:1 Solomon made an alliance by marriage with Pharaoh, king of Egypt; he married Pharaoh’s daughter. He brought her to the City of David 1  until he could finish building his residence and the temple of the Lord and the wall around Jerusalem. 2  3:2 Now the people were offering sacrifices at the high places, 3  because in those days a temple had not yet been built to honor the Lord. 4  3:3 Solomon demonstrated his loyalty to the Lord by following 5  the practices 6  of his father David, except that he offered sacrifices and burned incense on the high places.

3:4 The king went to Gibeon to offer sacrifices, for it had the most prominent of the high places. 7  Solomon would offer up 8  a thousand burnt sacrifices on the altar there. 3:5 One night in Gibeon the Lord appeared 9  to Solomon in a dream. God said, “Tell 10  me what I should give you.” 3:6 Solomon replied, “You demonstrated 11  great loyalty to your servant, my father David, as he served 12  you faithfully, properly, and sincerely. 13  You have maintained this great loyalty to this day by allowing his son to sit on his throne. 14  3:7 Now, O Lord my God, you have made your servant king in my father David’s place, even though I am only a young man and am inexperienced. 15  3:8 Your servant stands 16  among your chosen people; 17  they are a great nation that is too numerous to count or number. 3:9 So give your servant a discerning mind 18  so he can make judicial decisions for 19  your people and distinguish right from wrong. 20  Otherwise 21  no one is able 22  to make judicial decisions for 23  this great nation of yours.” 24  3:10 The Lord 25  was pleased that Solomon made this request. 26  3:11 God said to him, “Because you asked for the ability to make wise judicial decisions, and not for long life, or riches, or vengeance on your enemies, 27  3:12 I 28  grant your request, 29  and give 30  you a wise and discerning mind 31  superior to that of anyone who has preceded or will succeed you. 32  3:13 Furthermore, I am giving 33  you what you did not request – riches and honor so that you will be the greatest king of your generation. 34  3:14 If you follow my instructions 35  by obeying 36  my rules and regulations, just as your father David did, 37  then I will grant you long life.” 38  3:15 Solomon then woke up and realized it was a dream. 39  He went to Jerusalem, stood before the ark of the Lord’s covenant, offered up burnt sacrifices, presented peace offerings, 40  and held a feast for all his servants.

Solomon Demonstrates His Wisdom

3:16 Then two prostitutes came to the king and stood before him. 3:17 One of the women said, “My master, this woman and I live in the same house. I had a baby while she was with me in the house. 3:18 Then three days after I had my baby, this woman also had a baby. We were alone; there was no one else in the house except the two of us. 41  3:19 This woman’s child suffocated 42  during the night when she rolled 43  on top of him. 3:20 She got up in the middle of the night and took my son from my side, while your servant was sleeping. She put him in her arms, and put her dead son in my arms. 3:21 I got up in the morning to nurse my son, and there he was, 44  dead! But when I examined him carefully in the morning, I realized it was not my baby.” 45  3:22 The other woman said, “No! My son is alive; your son is dead!” But the first woman replied, “No, your son is dead; my son is alive.” Each presented her case before the king. 46 

3:23 The king said, “One says, ‘My son is alive; your son is dead,’ while the other says, ‘No, your son is dead; my son is alive.’” 3:24 The king ordered, “Get me a sword!” So they placed a sword before the king. 3:25 The king then said, “Cut the living child in two, and give half to one and half to the other!” 3:26 The real mother 47  spoke up to the king, for her motherly instincts were aroused. 48  She said, “My master, give her the living child! Whatever you do, don’t kill him!” 49  But the other woman said, “Neither one of us will have him! Let them cut him in two!” 3:27 The king responded, “Give the first woman the living child; don’t kill him. She is the mother.” 3:28 When all Israel heard about the judicial decision which the king had rendered, they respected 50  the king, for they realized 51  that he possessed supernatural wisdom 52  to make judicial decisions.

Solomon’s Royal Court and Administrators

4:1 King Solomon ruled over all Israel. 4:2 These were his officials:

Azariah son of Zadok was the priest.

4:3 Elihoreph and Ahijah, the sons of Shisha, wrote down what happened. 53 

Jehoshaphat son of Ahilud was in charge of the records.

4:4 Benaiah son of Jehoiada was commander of 54  the army.

Zadok and Abiathar were priests.

4:5 Azariah son of Nathan was supervisor of 55  the district governors.

Zabud son of Nathan was a priest and adviser to 56  the king.

4:6 Ahishar was supervisor of the palace. 57 

Adoniram son of Abda was supervisor of 58  the work crews. 59 

4:7 Solomon had twelve district governors appointed throughout Israel who acquired supplies for the king and his palace. Each was responsible for one month in the year. 4:8 These were their names:

Ben-Hur was in charge of the hill country of Ephraim.

4:9 Ben-Deker was in charge of Makaz, Shaalbim, Beth Shemesh, and Elon Beth Hanan.

4:10 Ben-Hesed was in charge of Arubboth; he controlled Socoh and all the territory of Hepher.

4:11 Ben-Abinadab was in charge of Naphath Dor. (He was married to Solomon’s daughter Taphath.)

4:12 Baana son of Ahilud was in charge of Taanach and Megiddo, 60  as well as all of Beth Shan next to Zarethan below Jezreel, from Beth Shan to Abel Meholah and on past Jokmeam.

4:13 Ben-Geber was in charge of Ramoth Gilead; he controlled the tent villages of Jair son of Manasseh in Gilead, as well as the region of Argob in Bashan, including sixty large walled cities with bronze bars locking their gates.

4:14 Ahinadab son of Iddo was in charge of Mahanaim.

4:15 Ahimaaz was in charge of Naphtali. (He married Solomon’s daughter Basemath.)

4:16 Baana son of Hushai was in charge of Asher and Aloth.

4:17 Jehoshaphat son of Paruah was in charge of Issachar.

4:18 Shimei son of Ela was in charge of Benjamin.

4:19 Geber son of Uri was in charge of the land of Gilead (the territory which had once belonged to King Sihon of the Amorites and to King Og of Bashan). He was sole governor of the area.

Solomon’s Wealth and Fame

4:20 The people of Judah and Israel were as innumerable as the sand on the seashore; they had plenty to eat and drink and were happy. 4:21 (5:1) 61  Solomon ruled all the kingdoms from the Euphrates River 62  to the land of the Philistines, as far as the border of Egypt. These kingdoms paid tribute as Solomon’s subjects throughout his lifetime. 63  4:22 Each day Solomon’s royal court consumed 64  thirty cors 65  of finely milled flour, sixty cors of cereal, 4:23 ten calves fattened in the stall, 66  twenty calves from the pasture, and a hundred sheep, not to mention rams, gazelles, deer, and well-fed birds. 4:24 His royal court was so large because 67  he ruled over all the kingdoms west of the Euphrates River from Tiphsah 68  to Gaza; he was at peace with all his neighbors. 69  4:25 All the people of Judah and Israel had security; everyone from Dan to Beer Sheba enjoyed the produce of their vines and fig trees throughout Solomon’s lifetime. 70  4:26 Solomon had 4,000 71  stalls for his chariot horses and 12,000 horses. 4:27 The district governors acquired supplies for King Solomon and all who ate in his royal palace. 72  Each was responsible for one month in the year; they made sure nothing was lacking. 4:28 Each one also brought to the assigned location his quota of barley and straw for the various horses. 73 

4:29 God gave Solomon wisdom and very great discernment; the breadth of his understanding 74  was as infinite as the sand on the seashore. 4:30 Solomon was wiser than all the men of the east and all the sages of Egypt. 75  4:31 He was wiser than any man, including Ethan the Ezrahite or Heman, Calcol, and Darda, the sons of Mahol. He was famous in all the neighboring nations. 76  4:32 He composed 77  3,000 proverbs and 1,005 songs. 4:33 He produced manuals on botany, describing every kind of plant, 78  from the cedars of Lebanon to the hyssop that grows on walls. He also produced manuals on biology, describing 79  animals, birds, insects, and fish. 4:34 People from all nations came to hear Solomon’s display of wisdom; 80  they came from all the kings of the earth who heard about his wisdom.

Solomon Gathers Building Materials for the Temple

5:1 (5:15) 81  King Hiram of Tyre 82  sent messengers 83  to Solomon when he heard that he had been anointed king in his father’s place. (Hiram had always been an ally of David.) 5:2 Solomon then sent this message to Hiram: 5:3 “You know that my father David was unable to build a temple to honor the Lord 84  his God, for he was busy fighting battles on all fronts while the Lord subdued his enemies. 85  5:4 But now the Lord my God has made me secure on all fronts; there is no adversary or dangerous threat. 5:5 So I have decided 86  to build a temple to honor the Lord 87  my God, as the Lord instructed my father David, ‘Your son, whom I will put on your throne in your place, is the one who will build a temple to honor me.’ 88  5:6 So now order some cedars of Lebanon to be cut for me. My servants will work with your servants. I will pay your servants whatever you say is appropriate, for you know that we have no one among us who knows how to cut down trees like the Sidonians.”

5:7 When Hiram heard Solomon’s message, he was very happy. He said, “The Lord is worthy of praise today because he 89  has given David a wise son to rule over this great nation.” 5:8 Hiram then sent this message to Solomon: “I received 90  the message you sent to me. I will give you all the cedars and evergreens you need. 91  5:9 My servants will bring the timber down from Lebanon to the sea. I will send it by sea in raft-like bundles to the place you designate. 92  There I will separate the logs 93  and you can carry them away. In exchange you will supply the food I need for my royal court.” 94 

5:10 So Hiram supplied the cedars and evergreens Solomon needed, 95  5:11 and Solomon supplied Hiram annually with 20,000 cors 96  of wheat as provision for his royal court, 97  as well as 20,000 baths 98  of pure 99  olive oil. 100  5:12 So the Lord gave Solomon wisdom, as he had promised him. And Hiram and Solomon were at peace and made a treaty. 101 

5:13 King Solomon conscripted 102  work crews 103  from throughout Israel, 30,000 men in all. 5:14 He sent them to Lebanon in shifts of 10,000 men per month. They worked in Lebanon for one month, and then spent two months at home. Adoniram was supervisor of 104  the work crews. 5:15 Solomon also had 70,000 common laborers 105  and 80,000 stonecutters 106  in the hills, 5:16 besides 3,300 107  officials who supervised the workers. 108  5:17 By royal order 109  they supplied large valuable stones in order to build the temple’s foundation with chiseled stone. 5:18 Solomon’s and Hiram’s construction workers, 110  along with men from Byblos, 111  did the chiseling and prepared the wood and stones for the building of the temple. 112 

1 sn The phrase City of David refers here to the fortress of Zion in Jerusalem, not to Bethlehem. See 2 Sam 5:7.

2 map For location see Map5 B1; Map6 F3; Map7 E2; Map8 F2; Map10 B3; JP1 F4; JP2 F4; JP3 F4; JP4 F4.

3 sn Offering sacrifices at the high places. The “high places” were places of worship that were naturally or artificially elevated.

4 tn Heb “for the name of the Lord.” The word “name” sometimes refers to one’s reputation or honor (thus the translation here, “to honor the Lord”). The “name” of the Lord sometimes designates the Lord himself, being indistinguishable from the proper name.

5 tn Heb “Solomon loved the Lord by walking in.”

6 tn Or “policies, rules.”

7 tn Heb “for it was the great high place.”

8 tn The verb form is an imperfect, which is probably used here in a customary sense to indicate continued or repeated action in past time. See GKC 314 §107.b.

9 tn Or “revealed himself.”

10 tn Heb “ask.”

11 tn Heb “did.”

12 tn Heb “walked before.”

13 tn Heb “in faithfulness and in innocence and in uprightness of heart with you.”

14 tn Heb “and you have kept to him this great loyalty and you gave to him a son [who] sits on his throne as this day.”

15 tn Heb “and I do not know going out or coming in.”

16 tn There is no verb expressed in the Hebrew text; “stands” is supplied in the translation for clarification.

17 tn Heb “your people whom you have chosen.”

18 tn Heb “a hearing heart.” (The Hebrew term translated “heart” often refers to the mental faculties.)

19 tn Heb “to judge.”

20 tn Heb “to understand between good and evil.”

21 tn Heb “for”; the word “otherwise” is used to reflect the logical sense of the statement.

22 tn Heb “who is able?” The rhetorical question anticipates the answer, “no one.”

23 tn Heb “to judge.”

24 tn Heb “your numerous people.”

25 tn The Hebrew term translated “Lord” here and in v.15 is אֲדֹנָי (’adonay).

26 tn Heb “And the thing was good in the eyes of the Lord, for Solomon asked for this thing.”

27 tn Heb “because you asked for this thing, and did not ask for yourself many days and did not ask for yourself riches and did not ask for the life of your enemies, but you asked for yourself understanding to hear judgment.”

28 tn This statement is introduced in the Hebrew text by the particle הִנֵּה (hinneh, “look”) which draws attention to and emphasizes what follows.

29 tn Heb “I am doing according to your words.” The perfect tense is sometimes used of actions occurring at the same time a statement is made.

30 tn This statement is introduced by the particle הִנֵּה (hinneh, “look”) which draws attention to and emphasizes what follows. The translation assumes that the perfect tense here indicates that the action occurs as the statement is made (i.e., “right now I give you”).

31 tn Heb “heart.” (The Hebrew term translated “heart” often refers to the mental faculties.)

32 tn Heb “so that there has not been one like you prior to you, and after you one will not arise like you.”

33 tn The translation assumes that the perfect tense here indicates that the action occurs as the statement is made.

34 tn Heb “so that there is not one among the kings like you all your days.” The LXX lacks the words “all your days.”

35 tn Heb “walk in my ways.”

36 tn Or “keeping.”

37 tn Heb “walked.”

38 tn Heb “I will lengthen your days.”

39 tn Heb “and look, a dream.”

40 tn Or “tokens of peace”; NIV, TEV “fellowship offerings.”

41 sn There was no one else in the house except the two of us. In other words, there were no other witnesses to the births who could identify which child belonged to which mother.

42 tn Heb “died.”

43 tn Heb “lay, slept.”

44 tn Heb “look.”

45 tn Heb “look, it was not my son to whom I had given birth.”

46 tn Heb “they spoke before the king.” Another option is to translate, “they argued before the king.”

47 tn Heb “the woman whose son was alive.”

48 tn Heb “for her compassions grew warm for her son.”

49 tn The infinitive absolute before the negated jussive emphasizes the main verb.

50 tn Heb “feared,” perhaps in the sense, “stood in awe of.”

51 tn Heb “saw.”

52 tn Heb “the wisdom of God within him.”

53 tn Heb “were scribes”; NASB, NIV, NRSV “secretaries”; TEV, NLT “court secretaries.”

54 tn Heb “was over.”

55 tn Heb “was over.”

56 tn Heb “close associate of”; KJV, ASV, NASB “the king’s friend” (a title for an adviser, not just an acquaintance).

57 tn Heb “over the house.”

58 tn Heb “was over.”

59 sn The work crews. This Hebrew word (מַס, mas) refers to a group of laborers conscripted for royal or public service.

60 map For location see Map1 D4; Map2 C1; Map4 C2; Map5 F2; Map7 B1.

61 sn Beginning with 4:21, the verse numbers through 5:18 in the English Bible differ from the verse numbers in the Hebrew text (BHS), with 4:21 ET = 5:1 HT, 4:22 ET = 5:2 HT, etc., through 5:18 ET = 5:32 HT. Beginning with 6:1 the numbering of verses in the English Bible and the Hebrew text is again the same.

62 tn Heb “the River” (also in v. 24). This is the standard designation for the Euphrates River in biblical Hebrew.

63 tn Heb “[They] were bringing tribute and were serving Solomon all the days of his life.”

64 tn Heb “the food of Solomon for each day was.”

65 tn As a unit of dry measure a cor was roughly equivalent to six bushels.

66 tn The words “in the stall” are added for clarification; note the immediately following reference to cattle from the pasture.

67 tn Heb “because.” The words “his royal court was so large” are added to facilitate the logical connection with the preceding verse.

68 sn Tiphsah. This was located on the Euphrates River.

69 tn Heb “for he was ruling over all [the region] beyond the River, from Tiphsah to Gaza, over all the kingdoms beyond the River, and he had peace on every side all around.”

70 tn Heb “Judah and Israel lived securely, each one under his vine and under his fig tree, from Dan to Beer Sheba, all the days of Solomon.”

71 tn The Hebrew text has “40,000,” but this is probably an inflated number (nevertheless it is followed by KJV, ASV, NASB, NRSV, TEV, CEV). Some Greek mss of the OT and the parallel in 2 Chr 9:25 read “4,000” (cf. NAB, NIV, NCV, NLT).

72 tn Heb “everyone who drew near to the table of King Solomon.”

73 tn Heb “barley and straw for the horses and the steeds they brought to the place which was there, each according to his measure.”

74 tn Heb “heart,” i.e., mind. (The Hebrew term translated “heart” often refers to the mental faculties.)

75 tn Heb “the wisdom of Solomon was greater than the wisdom of all the sons of the east and all the wisdom of Egypt.”

76 tn Heb “his name was in all the surrounding nations.”

77 tn Heb “spoke.”

78 tn Heb “he spoke about plants.”

79 tn Heb “he spoke about.”

80 tn Heb “the wisdom of Solomon.”

81 sn The verse numbers in the English Bible differ from those in the Hebrew text (BHS) here; 5:1-18 in the English Bible corresponds to 5:15-32 in the Hebrew text. See the note at 4:21.

82 map For location see Map1 A2; Map2 G2; Map4 A1; JP3 F3; JP4 F3.

83 tn Heb “his servants.”

84 tn Heb “a house for the name of the Lord.” The word “name” sometimes refers to one’s reputation or honor. The “name” of the Lord sometimes designates the Lord himself, being indistinguishable from the proper name.

85 tn Heb “because of the battles which surrounded him until the Lord placed them under the soles of his feet.”

86 tn Heb “Look, I am saying.”

87 tn Heb “a house for the name of the Lord.” The word “name” sometimes refers to one’s reputation or honor. The “name” of the Lord sometimes designates the Lord himself, being indistinguishable from the proper name.

88 tn Heb “a house for my name.” The word “name” sometimes refers to one’s reputation or honor. The “name” of the Lord sometimes designates the Lord himself, being indistinguishable from the proper name.

89 tn Or “Blessed be the Lord today, who….”

90 tn Heb “heard.”

91 tn Heb “I will satisfy all your desire with respect to cedar wood and with respect to the wood of evergreens.”

92 tn Heb “I will place them [on? as?] rafts in the sea to the place where you designate to me.” This may mean he would send them by raft, or that he would tie them in raft-like bundles, and have ships tow them down to an Israelite port.

93 tn Heb “smash them,” i.e., untie the bundles.

94 tn Heb “as for you, you will satisfy my desire by giving food for my house.”

95 tn Heb “and Hiram gave to Solomon cedar wood and the wood of evergreens, all his desire.”

96 sn As a unit of dry measure a cor was roughly equivalent to six bushels.

97 tn Heb “his house.”

98 tc The Hebrew text has “twenty cors,” but the ancient Greek version and the parallel text in 2 Chr 2:10 read “twenty thousand baths.”

sn A bath was a liquid measure equivalent to almost six gallons.

99 tn Or “pressed.”

100 tn Heb “and Solomon supplied Hiram with twenty thousand cors of wheat…pure olive oil. So Solomon would give to Hiram year by year.”

101 tn Heb “a covenant,” referring to a formal peace treaty or alliance.

102 tn Heb “raised up.”

103 sn Work crews. This Hebrew word (מַס, mas) refers to a group of laborers conscripted for royal or public service.

104 tn Heb “was over.”

105 tn Heb “carriers of loads.”

106 tn Heb “cutters” (probably of stones).

107 tc Some Greek mss of the OT read “3,600”; cf. 2 Chr 2:2, 18 and NLT.

108 tn Heb “besides thirty-three hundred from the officials of Solomon’s governors who were over the work, the ones ruling over the people, the ones doing the work.”

109 tn Heb “and the king commanded.”

110 tn Heb “builders.”

111 tn Heb “the Gebalites.” The reading is problematic and some emend to a verb form meaning, “set the borders.”

112 tc The LXX includes the words “for three years.”



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