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1 Kings 10

The queen of Sheba’s visit to Solomon. (1-13) Solomon’s wealth. (14-29)

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The queen of Sheba’s visit to Solomon

1 And when the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the LORD, she came to prove him with hard questions.

2 And she came to Jerusalem with a very great train, with camels that bare spices, and very much gold, and precious stones: and when she was come to Solomon, she communed with him of all that was in her heart.

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

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

5 And the meat of his table, and the sitting of his servants, and the attendance of his ministers, and their apparel, and his cupbearers, and his ascent by which he went up unto the house of the LORD; there was no more spirit in her.

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

7 Howbeit I believed not the words, until I came, and mine eyes had seen it: and, behold, the half was not told me: thy wisdom and prosperity exceedeth the fame which I heard.

8 Happy are thy men, happy are these thy servants, which stand continually before thee, and that hear thy wisdom.

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

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

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

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

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

Solomon’s wealth

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

15 Beside that he had of the merchantmen, and of the traffick of the spice merchants, and of all the kings of Arabia, and of the governors of the country.

16 And king Solomon made two hundred targets of beaten gold: six hundred shekels of gold went to one target.

17 And he made three hundred shields of beaten gold; three pound of gold went to one shield: and the king put them in the house of the forest of Lebanon.

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

19 The throne had six steps, and the top of the throne was round behind: and there were stays on either side on the place of the seat, and two lions stood beside the stays.

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

21 And all king Solomon’s drinking vessels were of gold, and all the vessels of the house of the forest of Lebanon were of pure gold; none were of silver: it was nothing accounted of in the days of Solomon.

22 For the king had at sea a navy of Tharshish with the navy of Hiram: once in three years came the navy of Tharshish, bringing gold, and silver, ivory, and apes, and peacocks.

23 So king Solomon exceeded all the kings of the earth for riches and for wisdom.

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

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

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

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

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

29 And a chariot came up and went out of Egypt for six hundred shekels of silver, and an horse for an hundred and fifty: and so for all the kings of the Hittites, and for the kings of Syria, did they bring them out by their means.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 1. Saba is written with sh, to denote a part of Arabia, and with s, when Ethiopia is meant. Ps. lxxi. 10. The former is here designated, (M.) being “the ends of the earth, east” of Judea, (Tacit. Hist. v.) and lying also to the south of that country. Matt. xii. 42. This region was famous for gold, &c. and acknowledged the dominion of women:

Medis levibusque Sabæis

Imperat hic sexus. Claud. Eutrop. i.

Grotius follows the opinion of Josephus (viii. 6.) and Origen, (hom. 2. in Cant.) who place the seat of this queen’s empire at Meroe. The Abyssinians also pretend that their kings are descendants of Solomon, by the queen of Saba; and that Azarias, the son of Sadoc, stole the tables of the law, when he brought back his pupil from Jerusalem. Sanctius. — This shews their vanity and ignorance. C. — Still many suppose that this queen came from their country. W. &c. — Lord, who had raised Solomon to so great splendour, while, on the other hand, the king endeavoured to enhance his glory. H. — If we place the stop after Solomon, we may say that the queen was moved by divine grace, and attracted, like the Gabaonites, (Jos. ix. 9.) to embrace the true religion; (C.) though she seems to have professed it already, as many others did among the Gentiles. H. — The Fathers look upon her as a figure of the Christian Church. (S. Hilary, Ps. cxxi. S. Iræn. iv. 45. &c. Barbara natione, non animo. S. Paulin, ep. 1. — Questions. Thus the ancients tried each others skill. Judg. xiv. 12. See C. iv. 30. The questions might regard natural history or religion. M.

Ver. 4. House, the palace, or rather the temple, (C.) or both. M. — Dion (37) and Tacitus extol the grandeur of the temple, which Titus destroyed. What would they have said of that built by Solomon? C.

Ver. 5. In her. She fainted away in rapture and astonishment. H. — Thus the church of the Gentiles is taught, by the gospel, to lay aside the spirit of pride, &c. W.

Ver. 9. Justice. Kings are given by God, either in his mercy or in his anger. C. — They are not appointed for themselves alone. M. — This queen was moved to take so long a journey, to hear and to see Solomon, as a figure of the many potentates who should embrace the Christian faith. W.

Ver. 11. Thyine. Pliny (iii. 16.) mentions a species of tall and incorruptible trees, called thya. The wood was odoriferous, and very costly. Citri et mensarum insania, quas feminæ viris contra margaritas regerunt. B. xiii. and xv. 16. Calypso burnt it, to perfume her whole island. Homer. — It ws used as a sort of incense in sacrifices, and thence received its name. H. — Sept. translate, “plained;” and elsewhere, pine-trees, which is adopted by S. Jerom. 2 Par. ii. 8. C. — Heb. reads almuggim in one place, and algumin in the other, the letters being transposed; “for I suppose, says Kennicott, it will hardly be said that these trees were both almug and algum.” H. — One word might be the Ethiopian pronunciation. Huet. — Yet Kimchi observes, that such transpositions of letter are very common among the Hebrews. D. — Solomon had desired Hiram to send him some algum, or “gum bearing” wood: but as there was not sufficient, or so fine, in Libanus as in Ophir, or in foreign parts, he procured more from those countries. The wood might probably resemble that of settim, or of black acacia, (Ex. xxv. 5.) whence the gum of Arabia is extracted. Acanthos, in Thebais, was celebrated for its fine thorn-trees, and for its gum. Strabo xvii. C. — It is placed near Memphis. Plin. iv 10. — The Rabbins commonly understand the Heb. to mean, “coral,” which is not fit for instruments, much less for architecture. Others translate ebony, or Brazil wood, but without reason. C. T.

Ver. 12. Rails. Heb. mihsad, “pillars, supporters, or banisters.” H. — Most interpreters suppose the rails were on each side of the road, leading from the palace to the temple. C. — Paral. stairs.Citterns, or harps and lyres. H. — Heb. “kinnoroth and nebalim.”

Ver. 14. Gold. His stated revenue was, 4,646,350l. sterling. H.

Ver. 15. Merchants: wholesale. M. — Arabia, the desert, which was peopled by various nations. Arab means, “a mixture, or assemblage,” as well as “the night, and a fruitless country.” Sept. seem to have read abor, “all the kings of the other side” the Euphrates, who were also called Arabs. See C. iv. 24. — Country around Judea, comprising the Phylarchs of Arabia, (Gen. xvii. 20.) and the Philistine Satraps.

Ver. 16. Shields. Heb. tsinnu is rather indeterminate, denoting something sharp or pointed; “a dart,” &c. C. — Par. spears. Some of the shields were made with a point, projecting from the middle, (H.) with which the enemy might be wounded. M. — These arms were used when the king went to the temple, and were reposited in the arsenal, at his return. C. xiv. 28.

Ver. 17. Targets, smaller than the former, and resembling a crescent.

Ducit Amazonidum lunatis agmina peltis. Æneid i. C.

— Par. reads, shields.Fine. Sept. “ductile.” Heb. sseut, “beaten, refined,” &c. — Hundred is omitted in Heb. and Sept. (H.) but is found in 2 Par. (ix. 16.) where we read 300 of gold, in like manner as 600 of gold in the preceding verse, without specifying the particular weight in either. These targets or shields, seem to have been heavier than the former, and designed only for ornament, being placed in the great hall, as they weighed each 375 Roman pounds, or 18,000 sicles; (C.) unless minæ, pound, be here put for sicle; as Josephus (ii. 3.) says that sons of Jacob sold their brother for twenty pieces of silver. Gen. xxxvii. 28. M. — Salien thinks that 200 shields were each worth 600 sicles, and these 300 targets weighed each 300 sicles of gold. H.

Ver. 18. Ivory. Heb. “of the tooth” (or horn) of elephants: people do not agree of which the ivory is formed. See Pliny (viii. 3.) for the former sentiment, and for the latter, Varro vi. Ezec. (xxvii. 15.) seems to unite both sentiments, calling it, “horns of the tooth.” H. — Ivory may, in effect, be wrought like horn. — Finest. Heb. “gold of Uphas.” This was the country whence it was brought; (Jer. x. 9.) probably Colchis, where the river Phasis, or Phison, flows. Gen. ii. 11. C. — The Chaldee calls Uphas, (in Jeremias) Ophir; and Huet supposes that Paz and Parvaim designate the same place. C. ix. 28. Job xxviii. 17. D. — In Paral. we only read, pure gold, which would suffer the ivory to appear in some places. C.

Ver. 19. Behind, like an alcove, (H.) placed in the porch of the palace. C. vii. 8. — Hands, for the elbows to rest on. In Paral. S. Jerom translates, “little” arms. The feet might also be made in this shape. Josephus (viii. 5.) represents them as forming the seat: (C.) and the Sept. place them on each side: “the fore-parts of oxen, projecting from the back of the throne, and hands on the throne, on each side of the seat.” In Paral. also, we find a foot-stool of gold. H.

Ver. 21. No silver vessels, (C.) though there was a great abundance of that metal, v. 27. It was not deemed worthy to be admitted at the king’s table. H.

Ver. 22. To Tharsis. This word in Heb. signifies, “the sea.” Isai. ii. 16. and xxiii. 10. M. — But when it signifies some particular place, (H.) it probably refers to Tarsus of Cilicia, which was once the most famous mart on the Mediterranean, though not perhaps in the days of Solomon, but after it had been embellished by the Assyrian kings. “Ships of Tharsis,” often denote such as were fit for a long voyage; and of this description were the fleets of Solomon and of Hiram, which sailed from Asiongaber to Ophir, and touched at various ports, where they procured what they wanted. C. — Heb. “the king had at sea a navy of Tharsis…once in three years: the navy of Tharsis came, bringing gold,” &c. H. — Teeth. Heb. Shenhabim. The latter word is commonly rendered elephants, k being lost at the beginning. Bochart, — Syriac and Arab. intimate, that the elephants were brought alive. Perhaps n may be dropped after b; so that we should read, ebnim, as Ezec. xxvii. 15, and translate ivory and ebony; the one being remarkable for its white, and the other for is black colour. Both might be procured on the coasts of Ethiopia, by which the fleet passed. The Persians, and Sesostris, required the people of the country to pay both for tribute. Pliny xii. 14. Diod. i. — Apes. Heb. Kophim. Greek KhpoV. There was a peculiar species in Ethiopia, which the Egyptians adored at Babylon, near Memphis, and was exhibited by Julius Cæsar, in the public shews. Solin. Bochart. — Peacocks is not expressed in the Sept. C. — The Roman edition, instead of elephants, &c. inserts, “stones” &c. intended for the various edifices and towns, which Solomon fortified, to keep under the nations of Chanaan, whom he forced to labour, &c. But the Alexandrian copy has, taonon, “peacocks,” as thuciim is rendered (H.) by the Chal. Syr. &c. C. — Huet observes, that these birds were scarcely known in the time of Alexander, and would therefore understand , psittacos, “parrots.” D. — But peacocks were called, “birds of Media,” as they were very common in that country, (C.) and about Babylon. Diod. ii. — The fleet of Solomon might advance as far as the confines of Media. Josephus adds, that it brought home Ethiopian slaves, who were in high esteem in a country where eunuchs were employed to guard the women, (C.) as there would be less danger of too great familiarity. H.

Ver. 24. The earth; or, the kings of, &c. Paral.

Ver. 26. Hunderd chariots. Par. forty thousand horses, in the stables, and 12,000 chariots and horsemen; though the chariots may be referred to the former number, conformably to the Heb. and to C. iv. 26. M. — Many of the horses were not employed in the chariots, (Salien) which were 1400 in number. 2 Par. i. 14. M.

Ver. 27. Sycamores, (Heb. shikmim) which were formerly very common in Palestine, as they are still about Cairo, in Egypt. The fruit resembles figs, as the leaves do the mulberry tree; whence the name is a compound of sukon, “a fig,” and moria, “a mulberry;” though some would prefer moros, “a fool,” to denote that the fruit is “insipid.” It is however sweeter than wild figs, and proceeds from the trunk of the tree. C.

Ver. 28. Egypt was once very famous for horses, and the breed is much admired by travellers. The Turks will not suffer strangers to have them. The canals made by Sesostris and other kings, caused their numbers to be diminished. Herod. ii. 108. — Yet there were many used in the time of Ezechias. 4 K. xviii. 24. — And Coa. Some take this to be the name of some unknown place, (D.) or of a town in Arabia Felix, (Ptol. vi. 17.) or “of a fair.” T. — Heb. “and from Michoe,” which was the ancient name of Troglodytis, near Egypt. Pliny vi. 29. C. — Prot. “and linen yarn; the king’s merchants received the linen yarn at the price.” Mokue signifies “a thread;” (H.) and the linen cloth of Egypt was in high estimation. Isai. xix. 9. Ezec. xxvii. 7. Pliny xix. 1. — Jarchi and others understand, “a string” of horses, tied together by the tails. But Bochart translates, “They brought horses for Solomon out of Egypt; and, as for the tribute, the custom-house officers of the king received it, at a certain rate,” agreed upon between Solomon and the king of Egypt.

Ver. 29. Fifty, upon an average. — Hethites: some had retired, and built Lusa; (Judg. i. 26.) others dwelt beyond Libanus. 4 K. vii. 4. These kings sold horses to Solomon; or, according to the Heb. the Jews had the traffic of horses in their own hands. C. — Prot. “and so for all the kings…did they bring them out by their means.” Sept. “thus to all the kings…of Syria, on the seashore, they came out.” H. — The merchants sold horses to these kings, at 150 sicles a piece. C.