1 Kings 5 Study Notes


5:1 David had traded with Tyre when collecting materials for the Lord’s house, the temple. Solomon also benefited from good relations with King Hiram of Tyre in purchasing materials. For Solomon, this cooperation was extended to joint international trade ventures. This was a wise policy since the Phoenicians were, at this time before Greek competition, continually tightening their grip on Mediterranean trade.

5:2-5 These verses state several major themes in biblical theology. (1) God had given rest to his people. Throughout the Bible this rest is given in various degrees and in various ways that finally culminated in the eternal rest described in Heb 4. (2) It gave a different perspective on David as a “man of war” (1Ch 28:3), since his wars were presented as defensive necessities. (3) Since no temple can contain God, this temple was to be the dwelling for the name of the Lord. And (4) this temple was built in response to the promise of a dynasty for David and his descendants.

5:6 The Israelites, as well as the Egyptians and Assyrians, used both the cedar and cypress lumber of Lebanon for their fine buildings. Phoenician artistic skills and manufactured products were also prized throughout the ancient world.

5:7 Hiram’s praise for God probably did not represent real conviction or faith on his part. More likely the Bible writer was paraphrasing Hiram’s diplomatic courtesies to express truth about God.

5:8-11 These were the terms of the business arrangements. Solomon bartered food for lumber and other products as well. Hiram’s men would cut the lumber, bring it to the sea, and lash it into rafts. Then the rafts were floated south and beached, probably at Joppa, the port nearest Jerusalem. From there they were taken to Jerusalem by the road that passed near Gezer. The amount of grain mentioned here was somewhat more than half the amount of grain collected for Solomon’s governmental structure (4:22-23). However, the book of 2 Chronicles adds an equal supply of barley to this amount (2Ch 2:10).

5:12 This verse matches v. 7 and shows that Solomon’s wisdom extended to international economics.

5:13-18 These projects were so big that Solomon sent Hebrew forced laborers to Phoenicia to help in the work. In this context thousand may be a general term with a meaning somewhat like “battalion.” The Gebalites were the people of ancient Byblos. The few cedars of Lebanon that remain today are in the mountains inland from Byblos. This passage confirms that Byblos was then under Hiram’s control.