To determine concerning "the coasts of Tyre and Sidon," in this story, we first propound this to the reader: It is said, 1 Kings 9:11,12, that "Solomon gave to Hiram, the king of the Tyrians, twenty cities in Galilee": which when he had seen and liked them not, "he called the land Chabul unto this day." The LXX render it, "he called them the border or coast." Now let any one, I beseech you, skilled in the tongues, tell me what kin there is between Chabul and a bound, or coast, that moved the LXX so to render it.
The Talmudists speak various things of the word Chabul: but the sense and signification of the word a coast, is very far distant from their meaning. The Jerusalem Talmudists speak thus; "Chabul signifies a land which bears not fruit." The Babylonian thus; "What is the meaning of the land Chabul? Rabba Honna saith, Because its inhabitants were wrapped up in silver and gold. Abba saith to him, Is it so? Behold, it is written, 'That the cities pleased him not.' Should they displease him because they were wrapped up in silver and gold?--He saith to him, Yea, because they were wealthy and delicate, they were not fit for the king's works. Rabh Nachman Bar Isaac saith, It was a salt land, and gaping with clefts. Why is it called Chabul? Because the leg is plunged in it up to the garters." Josephus thus, "Outwards they called it the land of Chabal: for this word Chabal, being interpreted, signifies in the Phoenician tongue, that which pleaseth not."
These things they speak, tracing the sense of the word as well as they can; but of the sense of a bound or coast, they did not so much as dream.
I cannot pass away without taking notice of the Glosser at the place cited out of the Babylonian Talmudists, having these words; "The text alleged speaks of twenty-two cities, which Solomon gave to Hiram": he reckons 'two-and twenty,' when in the Hebrew original and in all versions, 'twenty cities' only are mentioned. Whether it be a failing of the memory, or whether he speaks it on purpose, who is able to define? Much less are those words of the Holy Ghost to be passed over, 2 Chronicles 8:2. The grammatical interpretation is very easy, "And the cities which Huram gave to Solomon, Solomon built them": but the historical interpretation is not so easy. For it is demanded, Whether did Hiram give those cities of his own? or did he restore them, which Solomon gave to him, when they pleased him not? And there are some versions which render the word not, he gave, but he restored or gave back again; and in this sense, Solomon built the cities which Hiram had restored back to Solomon. As if Hiram would not keep those twenty cities in the land Chabul, because they displeased him, but restored them back to Solomon in some indignation.
Kimchi on the place more rightly, "It is very well expounded, that Hiram gave cities to Solomon in his own land; and he placed Israelites there to strengthen himself. And he, in like manner, gave cities to Hiram in Galilee; and that to strengthen the league between them. In the Book of the Kings it is recorded what Solomon gave to Hiram; and in this," of the Chronicles, "what Hiram gave to Solomon." Most true indeed: for that Hiram gave to Solomon some cities in his jurisdiction, appears beyond all controversy from thence, that Solomon is said to build Tadmor in the wilderness, 1 Kings 9:18. But what is that place Tadmor? Josephus will teach us: "Thadamor (saith he), the Greeks call Palmyra." And the Vulgar interpreters read, "He built Palmyra." Therefore we must by no means think that HIram rejected the cities that were given him by Solomon, however they pleased him not; but kept them for his own, which Solomon also did with them which Hiram gave to him.
But whence should the Greek interpreters render that place called Chabul by a coast, when there is no affinity at all between the significations of the words?