And he said
By letter to him:
what cities are these which thou hast given me, my brother?
so he called him, being not only his neighbour, but his ally, in friendship and covenant with him; and this he said of them not by way of complaint, or contempt, as unworthy of his acceptance; for so munificent a prince as Solomon would never offer to a king to whom he was so much obliged anything mean and contemptible; but as being unsuitable to him, however valuable they might be in themselves, or of advantage to others:
and he called them the land of Cabul unto this day;
or rather the words should be rendered impersonally, "they were called so"; for Hiram could not call them by this name to the times of the writer of this book; nor is there any reason to think he would give them any name at all, and much less a contemptible one, as this is thought to be, when he did not choose to accept of them. Some interpret F7 the word shut up, or unfruitful, sandy, dirty, clayey; so in the Talmud F8 it is said to be a sandy land, and called Cabul, because a man's foot was plunged in it up to his ankles, and is represented as unfruitful. Josephus F9 says, in the Phoenician tongue it signifies "not pleasing", which agrees with what Hiram says, ( 1 Kings 9:12 ) . Hillerus F11 interprets it "as nothing", they being as nothing to Hiram, of no use to him, whatever they might be to others; and therefore he restored them to Solomon, ( 2 Chronicles 8:2 ) , which seems to be the best sense of the word. They are the same with Decapolis, ( Matthew 4:25 ) so called from ten cities therein F12.
F7 David de Pomis, Lexic fol. 58. 2.
F8 T. Bab. Sabbat, fol. 54. 1.
F9 Antiqu. l. 8. c. 5. sect. 3.
F11 Onomastic. Sacr. p. 435.
F12 Vid. Castel Lex Heptaglot. col. 1669. & Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 5. c. 18.