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with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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1 Kings 4

Solomon’s court. (1-19) Solomon’s dominions, His daily provision. (20-28) The wisdom of Solomon. (29-34)

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Solomon’s court

1 So king Solomon was king over all Israel.

2 And these were the princes which he had; Azariah the son of Zadok the priest,

3 Elihoreph and Ahiah, the sons of Shisha, scribes; Jehoshaphat the son of Ahilud, the recorder.

4 And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was over the host: and Zadok and Abiathar were the priests:

5 And Azariah the son of Nathan was over the officers: and Zabud the son of Nathan was principal officer, and the king’s friend:

6 And Ahishar was over the household: and Adoniram the son of Abda was over the tribute.

7 And Solomon had twelve officers over all Israel, which provided victuals for the king and his household: each man his month in a year made provision.

8 And these are their names: The son of Hur, in mount Ephraim:

9 The son of Dekar, in Makaz, and in Shaalbim, and Bethshemesh, and Elonbethhanan:

10 The son of Hesed, in Aruboth; to him pertained Sochoh, and all the land of Hepher:

11 The son of Abinadab, in all the region of Dor; which had Taphath the daughter of Solomon to wife:

12 Baana the son of Ahilud; to him pertained Taanach and Megiddo, and all Bethshean, which is by Zartanah beneath Jezreel, from Bethshean to Abelmeholah, even unto the place that is beyond Jokneam:

13 The son of Geber, in Ramothgilead; to him pertained the towns of Jair the son of Manasseh, which are in Gilead; to him also pertained the region of Argob, which is in Bashan, threescore great cities with walls and brasen bars:

14 Ahinadab the son of Iddo had Mahanaim:

15 Ahimaaz was in Naphtali; he also took Basmath the daughter of Solomon to wife:

16 Baanah the son of Hushai was in Asher and in Aloth:

17 Jehoshaphat the son of Paruah, in Issachar:

18 Shimei the son of Elah, in Benjamin:

19 Geber the son of Uri was in the country of Gilead, in the country of Sihon king of the Amorites, and of Og king of Bashan; and he was the only officer which was in the land.

Solomon’s dominions, His daily provision

20 Judah and Israel were many, as the sand which is by the sea in multitude, eating and drinking, and making merry.

21 And Solomon reigned over all kingdoms from the river unto the land of the Philistines, and unto the border of Egypt: they brought presents, and served Solomon all the days of his life.

22 And Solomon’s provision for one day was thirty measures of fine flour, and threescore measures of meal,

23 Ten fat oxen, and twenty oxen out of the pastures, and an hundred sheep, beside harts, and roebucks, and fallowdeer, and fatted fowl.

24 For he had dominion over all the region on this side the river, from Tiphsah even to Azzah, over all the kings on this side the river: and he had peace on all sides round about him.

25 And Judah and Israel dwelt safely, every man under his vine and under his fig tree, from Dan even to Beersheba, all the days of Solomon.

26 And Solomon had forty thousand stalls of horses for his chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen.

27 And those officers provided victual for king Solomon, and for all that came unto king Solomon’s table, every man in his month: they lacked nothing.

28 Barley also and straw for the horses and dromedaries brought they unto the place where the officers were, every man according to his charge.

The wisdom of Solomon

29 And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding exceeding much, and largeness of heart, even as the sand that is on the sea shore.

30 And Solomon’s wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the children of the east country, and all the wisdom of Egypt.

31 For he was wiser than all men; than Ethan the Ezrahite, and Heman, and Chalcol, and Darda, the sons of Mahol: and his fame was in all nations round about.

32 And he spake three thousand proverbs: and his songs were a thousand and five.

33 And he spake of trees, from the cedar tree that is in Lebanon even unto the hyssop that springeth out of the wall: he spake also of beasts, and of fowl, and of creeping things, and of fishes.

34 And there came of all people to hear the wisdom of Solomon, from all kings of the earth, which had heard of his wisdom.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 2. Azarias. Some translate, “grandson of Sadoc, (and son of Achimaas) was priest,” to assist his father, unless he was born of some other. Cohen signifies also prince, v. 5. Azarias was scribe, as well as the two following, though not all at the same time. The office was very important. Judg. v. 14.

Ver. 3. Sisa. Perhaps the same with Siva, who was under David. — Recorder. Historiographer; (C.) the presenter of petitions. Grot. 2 K. viii. 16.

Ver. 4. Abiathar. By this it appears that Abiathar was not altogether deposed from the high priesthood; but only banished to his country house; and by that means excluded from the exercise of his functions. Ch. — He retained the name, as bishops still do, after they have resigned their see. C. — Some think that Solomon reinstated Abiathar to his office. E.

Ver. 5. King. President of the council, (M.) steward of the household. — Priest refers to Zabud here, though the Heb. is ambiguous. It means also a prince. H. — He was chief officer and favourite of Solomon, (C.) as Chusai had been of David, 2 K. xvi. 16.

Ver. 6. House. Sept. “Eliak was also director of the house,” oikonomos. H. — It is impossible to mark, with precision, the extent of these offices. — Tribute, or levy of workmen, as it is expressed. C. v. 14.

Ver. 7. Month. The lunar year was not then in use; (C.) or else, the first of these governors, was in office during the 13th, or intercalary month, every third year, and the rest in succession. Tostat.

Ver. 8. Benhur. Ben here, and in the following verses, may signify “the son of Hur,” &c. C. — Sept. retain both the original term, and its explanation, “Ben the son of Or.” But they afterwards read only “the son of Dakar…of Esed…of Abinadab…and Gaber.”

Ver. 11. To wife. Not at the beginning of his reign, v. 15. M. — This chapter gives a general idea of the officers who lived under Solomon. C.

Ver. 14. Manaim, which is often rendered the camp. The word is read Mahanaim, by the Masorets, (2 K. ii. 8,) and by the Vulg. Gen. xxxii. 2. H.

Ver. 19. Land. Heb. “the only officer who was in the land,” (H.) except in the towns of Jair, v. 13. C. — His province had belonged to two kings. M.

Ver. 20. Multitude. We may suppose seven millions; though, if the calculation of Chronicles be more accurate, they were much more numerous. See 2 K. xxiv. 9. H.

Ver. 21. The river. Euphrates. Ch. — To, or “of the land,” terræ. H. — This river may denote the torrent Besor, as Solomon’s dominions extended not only as far as Gaza, but also to the oriental branch of the Nile, v. 24. Thus one verse explains the other. There were, indeed, no kingdoms (C.) in this portion of land, which is now quite barren: but formerly it had several cities, and they belonged to various kings of Egypt, Arabia, the Philistines, &c. H. — Heb. may be rendered “from the river, (Euphrates) the land of the Philistines, and to the border,” &c. (C.) agreeably to 2 Par. ix. 26. He exercised authority over all the kings from the river Euphrates to the land, &c. Heb. “the river even unto,” &c. Solomon had all the kings of Syria, Ammon, the Philistines, &c. under him; so that his empire took in all that had been promised to Abraham. H. See S. Aug. q. 21. Josue.

Ver. 22. Measures, (cori.) Each of which contained little less than 300 pints. C. — A corus is equivalent to 30 modii, and would support as many men a day; so that the family of Solomon would contain 2,700 people. A. Lapide. M. — Villalpand calculates 48,600, and Calvisius 54,000.

Ver. 23. Buffaloes. Yachmur means also a sort of wild-goat, like a stag. Deut. xiv. 5. Bochart, Anim. i. B. iii. 22. — Fowls. Some Rabbins explain barburim, (or borbrim) of capons, or birds from Barbary; as if this name had been known in the days of Solomon. C. — There was an ancient Ethiopian Barbary on the Persian gulf, (Bochart) with which the Rabbins were not acquainted. C.

Ver. 24. Beyond. Heb. “on the side of,” without determining on which. Deut. i. — Thaphsa. The famous Thapsacus, on the Euphrates. — To Gazan. Heb. Hazza. This name is written in a different manner from Gaza, and may signify a country of the Medes, on the frontiers of Armenia. But, as it is pronounced almost alike and the parallel passage determines for the country of the Philistines, (v. 21,) we may explain it of Gaza. C.

Ver. 25. Vine. this expression is often used to imply a state of peace and happiness. The people were then content with rural pleasures. C.

Ver. 26. Forty: 2 Par. ix. 25. has four in the Heb. Sept. read in both places 40,000 mares, for chariots, and 12,000 horses. C. — The Alex. copy has 40 here, and 4000 in the latter place; where, instead of horses, it gives horsemen, with the Vulg. These two words are often used as synonymous by the best authors. But it is more difficult to reconcile the number; (C.) as (2 Par. xiv.) we read again differently, he had 1400 chariots, and 12,000 horsemen. H. — Forty might easily be mistaken for four, by only adding im at the end of arba. Bochart. Grot. — Instead of stalls, Calmet supposes stables to be understood, and in each he would place ten horses, which completes the number here assigned. If this be admitted, no change is necessary: but, as præsepe signifies “a stall,” we may adhere to the Vulg. which has 40,000 in both places; whereas the Heb. varies, though the sense may be the same. The number of Solomon’s chariots was 1400. As two horses were usually employed to draw them, 2800; or, allowing for accidents, changes, &c. 4000 horses would have been amply sufficient. It seems, therefore, that we should admit only so many horses or stalls. H. — “Vignoles conjectures, that the Jews formerly used marks analogous to our common figures; as the Arabians have done for many hundred years. And, if so, the corruption” of hundreds for tens, &c. “may be easily accounted for, by the transcriber’s carelessly adding or omitting a single cypher.“ Kennicott, Diss. ii. — Yet, if 40,000 horses must be admitted, we may say that they were not all intended for the chariots of war, but some for draught-horses, to convey the stones and other materials for the numerous buildings, which Solomon carried on. This might serve to excuse him for having so many horses, (H.) contrary to the letter of the law, and the example of Josue and of David. His subjects were thus, perhaps, engaged in too much commerce with the Egyptians: and the king was forced to burden them with taxes, which at last proved so fatal. Serar. Pineda. C. — Yet some undertake his defence, by saying that he did not act against the spirit of the law; that many of the horses were imposed as a tribute, and Solomon did not place his trust in them. Prov. xxi. 31. 2 Par. ix. 24. Tostat. Bochart. B. ii. 9. — His empire was become more extensive, and his works more splendid; so that what might appear an useless parade in some, might be worthy of praise in Solomon. The law is not so precise. He shall not multiply horses to himself, nor lead back the people into Egypt, being lifted up with the number of his horsemen. Deut. xvii. 16. There is a like prohibition of many wives and treasures.

Ver. 27. Fed them and is omitted in Heb. and Sept. H.

Ver. 28. Beasts. Racesh denotes horses of extraordinary swiftness, (Bochart) or dromedaries, &c. Junius translates, “post-horses.” — King: so also the Sept. Prot. “the officers were, every man according to his charge.” The twelve governors employed others to bring all necessary provisions, (H.) to the places where the king was travelling; (C.) or they took care not only of the king’s table, but they had also the general inspection over his stables. H. — Few oats are grown in the East. They feed their horses on barley and straw. C.

Ver. 29. Hart; magnanimity, which pride often attempts to imitate, and is therefore designated by the same expression. Prov. xxi. 4. The genius of Solomon was also most penetrating and comprehensive. C. — Ænomaus thus addresses Apollo, “Thou who knowest, both the number of the sands and the extent of the sea—who understandest the dumb, and hearest the man who has not spoken.” Eus. præp. v. 34. H.

Ver. 30. Orientals of Chaldea, Arabia, Idumea, &c. Dan. ii. 2. Abd. viii. Num. xxii. 5. Job and his friends were of this description. The Greeks acknowledged that they had received their philosophy from the barbarians; (Laert. proem.) and Casaubon observes, that the ancient defendants of the Christian faith proved the same truth. Not. Ibid. They shewed that all true saving knowledge had been derived from the Hebrews. H. — The Chaldees maintain that their countrymen were the fountains of science; and many suppose that Abraham communicated these treasures to the Egyptians; whereas the latter pretend, that a colony from their country had imparted that blessing to the Chaldees. Diodorus (B. i.) says that Belus conducted such a colony, and the Greeks chiefly owed their information to the Egyptians. God had communicated to Solomon all that was of real use in those sciences, in a superior degree. Wisd. vii. 17. Joseph. viii. 2. He was eminently skilled in natural philosophy, &c. C.

Ver. 31. All men, of his time (Lyran.) and nation. Munster. — But why should we limit these general statements? C. See C. iii. 12. 13. H. — Ethan is the same as Idithun. The title of Ezrahite does not seem to belong to him; and Chalcol and Dorda seem to be inserted here by some transcriber from 1 Par. ii. 6. where we read, the sons of Zara…Ethan and Eman, and Chalchal and Dara, of the tribe of Juda. But they were different from these men, who were probably Levites. C. — We find Chalcol and Dorda mentioned no where else. Heman was an Ezrahite, (Ps. lxxxvii.) and a seer of the king, presiding over the singers, (1 Par. xv. 19. and xxv. 4. and 5. M.) who stood in the middle. Ethan’s band surrounded the altar, (Ib. C. vi. 44.) while Asaph’s were on the right hand. — Mahol was the mother of the four, unless the word denote their profession, as sons of “the choir,” singing and playing on musical instruments. C. — Solomon was eminent in both respects, as well as in poetry; as he is compared with those who were most noted for compositions and music. Sanctius.

Ver. 32. Three thousand parables. These works are all lost, excepting some part of the parables extant in the book of Proverbs; and his chief poem called the Canticle of Canticles. Ch. — The title of Psalm cxxvi. attributes it to Solomon. But its authority is not sufficiently established. The book of Proverbs contains at present only 658, (a Lap.) or 800 parables. Clarius. — Josephus exaggerates, when he reads 3000 volumes of parables. — Five. Sept. read, “5000 odes,” which is adopted by many interpreters. Josephus (C.) and the Chal. agree with the Heb. M.

Ver. 33. Wall. Some deny that ezob means hyssop. Kimchi, Levinus, &c. But there is a species which grows on mountains, and even out of walls. Bochart. Sanctius. — It is a small odoriferous plant; whereas the cedar was the largest tree with which the Jews were acquainted. C. — On Libanus there are found such trees above 36 feet in circumference; which extend their branches 111 feet around them. Maundrell, Jerus. p. 239. — Solomon examined all. Wisd. vii. 17, &c. Many works have been falsely attributed to him, which Origen rejects: hom. 35, in Mat. See Joseph. viii. 2. Pineda iii. 29. C. — Perhaps he might have composed some magical works, while he was an idolater. Salien.

Ver. 34. Wisdom. The Scriptures relate the coming of the queen of Saba. C. x. Thus Livy attracted the attention of distant nations, who neglected the grandeur of Rome, to visit him. S. Jerom Ep. ad Paulin. Solomon’s wisdom is compared to a great river, inundating the whole earth. Eccli. xlvii. 16.