1 Kings 4

1 KINGS CHAPTER 4

Solomon’s Officials

      • King Solomon was king over all of Israel, and the following were his high officials:

        • Azariah, the son of Zadok, was priest;

          • Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges notes, “The Zadok here named is the son of Ahitub (1 Chronicles 6:8), and Azariah was really his grandson, the order being Zadok-Ahimaaz-Azariah. The use of ‘son’ thus loosely for grandson is not uncommon in the Old Test. Thus (Genesis 29:5) Laban is called the son of Nahor. He was really the son of Bethuel. Similarly (Ezra 5:1) Zachariah the prophet is called the son of Iddo, though Barachiah was his father and Iddo his grandfather.”

          • This is interesting, confusing, and debated for more than a few reasons. And, as we read on we’ll find that the difficulty deepens instead of clears. Why does Zadok’s grandson seem to be listed as high priest here instead of Zadok? Did Zadok get demoted? Would a grandson of Zadok have been old enough to be high priest yet at this time? Does the verse mean that he was priest or some kind of lesser priest (as we’ve seen even those who don’t qualify as actual priests, i.e., David’s sons, were called priests in some instances)? The interested reader may refer to this list of commentaries for additional discussion.

        • Elihoreph and Ahijah, Shisha’s sons, were secretaries;

        • Some translations render “secretaries” as “scribes.” NLT Illustrated Study Bible writes, “The court secretaries were state officials and Solomon’s private secretaries. Shisha, the father of Elihoreph and Ahijah, had served David in this capacity (2 Sam 8:17; 20:25; 1 Chr 18:16).”

        • Jehoshaphat, Ahilud’s son, was historian;

        • Benaiah, Jehoiada’s son, was the commander of the army;

      • Zadok and Abiathar were priests;

        • Like I said- it just gets more confusing. Does this mean there are three priests? Wasn’t Abiathar exiled? Did Solomon bring him back? Pulpit Commentary notes, “…the mention of Abiathar’s name after his deposition (1 Kings 2:27, 35) has occasioned much remark, and has even led to the belief that he was subsequently pardoned and restored to office (Clericus).” I’ve noticed that more than a few modern commentaries offer this explanation. However, it seems to me, based on some of the older commentaries that this assumption is not warranted and that there are better explanations:

          • Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges proposes an alternative that may even help to explain the addition of Azariah as priest, “The Hebrew says only ‘were priests.’ Abiathar was still called priest, we may presume, after his banishment to Anathoth. The existence of two chief places for worship and sacrifice, the one at Gibeon, where the tabernacle was, and the other, where the ark was kept, on Mt Zion, had made it necessary that there should be more than one principal priest. Hence Abiathar and Zadok were in office together, and now that Abiathar was deposed, Azariah had come in as a second priest.”

          • Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers says, “Abiathar, though disgraced and practically deposed, was still regarded theoretically as priest (much as Annas is called ‘high priest’ in the Gospels), for the priesthood was properly for life.”

          • Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary agrees, “Zadok and Abiathar were the priests—Only the first discharged the sacred functions; the latter had been banished to his country seat and retained nothing more than the name of high priest.”

        • Azariah, Nathan’s son, was over the district governors;

      • Zabud, Nathan’s son, was priest and the king’s adviser;

        • NET Bible notes that “the king’s advisor” may also be appropriately rendered “king’s friend,” “a title for an adviser, not just an acquaintance.” Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges writes, “This means a chief and intimate counsellor. It is applied to Hushai (2 Samuel 15:37; 2 Samuel 16:16) and from the relation in which Hushai stood to David we may see what is implied in the title.”

        • Barnes’ Notes on the Bible mentions an additional uncertainty, “It is uncertain whether the Nathan of this verse is the prophet or the son of David 2 Samuel 5:14. While on the one hand the position of “king’s friend” is more likely to have been held by a contemporary, which the prophet’s son would have been, than by one so much younger as the son of a younger brother; on the other hand the title ‘cohen’ [priest] seems to point to a member of the royal family…The fact that the title kôhên was borne by sons of David 2 Samuel 8:18, who could not be ‘priests’ in the ordinary sense of the word, seems to identify the Nathan of this verse with David’s son 2 Samuel 5:14 rather than with the prophet.”

      • Ahishar was in charge of the palace;

        • Adoniram, Abda’s son, was in charge of the forced labor.

      • Solomon had 12 district governors over all of Israel who were responsible for providing food for the king and his household. Each one arranged provisions for one month of the year. Their names were as follows:

          • ESV Study Bible writes, “The task of Solomon’s representatives in the various regions of Israel was to provide for the king and his household on an annual rotation, each region being responsible for one month in each year. These officers may have been tax supervisors, whose job was to make sure that local government paid its dues to central government. Although the number ‘twelve’ is the traditional number of the Israelite tribes, and some of the regions mentioned in vv. 7-19 may have been based on tribal areas (e.g., Naphtali, Issachar, and Benjamin), what is described here is not strictly a tribal system of support for central government (e.g., the hill country of Ephraim in v. 8 is not to be understood as corresponding to the tribal area of ‘Ephraim’). Solomon’s arrangements move beyond the tribal system, while having points of contact with it. The one governor who was over the land was most likely Azariah (v. 5), to whom the 12 district officers were responsible. This system apparently continued after the death of the king…”

          • NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible further clarifies, “While many of the districts roughly matched the original tribal allotments, the core northern tribes of Manasseh and Ephraim were carved up into smaller districts…A number of districts incorporated adjacent non-Israelite regions, some dominated by large Canaanite cities…Judah was exempt, a fact that would exacerbate tribal tensions in the future.”

      • Ben Hur was in charge of the hill country of Ephraim;

        • Ben Deker was in charge of Makaz, Shaalbim, Beth Shemesh, and Elon Bethhanan;

        • Ben Hesed was in charge of Arubboth, including Socoh and the territory of Hepher;

        • Ben Abinadab was in charge of Naphath Dor (he was married to Solomon’s daughter Taphath);

        • Baana, Ahilud’s son, was in charge of Taanach, Megiddo, all of Beth Shan which is next to Zarethan below Jezreel, and the territory from Beth Shan to Abel Meholah as far as Jokmeam;

        • Ben Geber was in charge of Ramoth Gilead, including the villages of Jair (who was Manasseh’s son) in Gilead, as well as the Argob region of Bashan, including 60 walled cities with bronze bars on their gates;

        • Ahinadab, who was Inno’s son, was in charge of Mahanaim;

        • Ahimaaz was in charge of Naphtali (he was married to Solomon’s daughter Basemath);

        • Baana, who was Hushai’s son, was in charge of Asher and Aloth;

        • Jehoshaphat, who was Paruah’s son, was in charge of Issachar;

        • Shimei, who was Ela’s son, was in charge of Benjamin;

        • Geber, who was Uri’s son, was in charge of Gilead, the territory that had belonged to King Sihon of the Amorites and King Og of Bashan. One governor was over the land.

          • Those comparing translations will realize that nobody really knows what to do with that last sentence. Here are the three most common: 1) “There was one governor of Judah,” 2) “He was the only governor over the district,” or 3) “And there was one governor who was over the land.” Pulpit Commentary explains why the matter remains unsettled:

            • This cannot mean ‘the only officer in Gilead,’ notwithstanding the great extent of territory – the usual interpretation – for that would contradict vers. 13, 14. Nor can can it mean the only officer in his district, or portion, of Gilead, for that is self-evident, and the remark would apply equally to all the other prefects. And we are hardly justified in translating…’he was the first (i.e., superior), officer’ (set over those mentioned above, vers. 13, 14), as Schulze…[Superior] used as an ordinal number, but it is only in connexion with days and years…Some, following the LXX…would detach Judah from ver. 20, where it must be allowed it occurs with a suspicious abruptness, and where the absence of the copula, so usual in the Hebrew, suggests a corruption of the text, and would connect it with this verse, which would then yield the sense, ‘and he was,’ (or ‘there was’) ‘one officer which purveyed in the land of Judah.’ It is to be observed, however, that though no mention has as yet been made of Judah in any of the districts, yet the prefecture of Ben Hesed (ver. 10) appears to have extended over this tribe, and the remark consequently seems superfluous…On the whole, the difficulty would seem still to await a solution. We can hardly, in the teeth of ver. 7, suppose with Ewald, al. that a thirteenth officer is here intended.”

Map via Biblical Archaeology Society Online Archive

Solomon’s Provisions

      • The people of Judah and Israel were as numerous as the sand on the seashore. They ate, drank, and were happy.

        • NET Bible’s text critical notes call our attention to the following, “Beginning with 4:21, the verse numbers through 5:18 in the English Bible differ from the verse numbers in the Hebrew text (BHS), with 4:21 ET = 5:1 HT, 4:22 ET = 5:2 HT, etc., through 5:18 ET = 5:32 HT. Beginning with 6:1 the numbering of verses in the English Bible and the Hebrew text is again the same.”

        • Pulpit Commentary remarks, “The Hebrew here begins a new chapter. The LXX. omits vers. 20, 21, 25, 26, and places vers. 27, 28, ‘and those officers,’ etc., after the list of prefects, ver. 19.]”

      • Solomon ruled over all the kingdoms from the Euphrates River to the land of the Philistines and as far as Egypt’s border. These kingdoms paid tribute to Solomon and were his subjects all of his life.

      • Solomon’s daily provisions were 150 bushels of fine flour and 300 bushels of meal, 10 head of stall-fed cattle, 20 head of pasture-fed cattle, 100 sheep, as well as deer, gazelles, roebucks, and well-fed birds.

      • He ruled over all of the kingdoms west of the Euphrates River from Tiphsah to Gaza and he had peace on all sides all around him. Throughout Solomon’s lifetime, all the people of Israel and Judah lived in safety- everyone from Dan all the way to Beersheba- everyone under his own vine and his own fig tree.

        • Guzik says, “The reign of Solomon was a golden age for Israel as a kingdom. The population grew robustly and it was a season of great prosperity, allowing plenty of leisure time and pursuit of good pleasures…Solomon was not a warrior or a general. This peace was achieved by King David and was enjoyed by King Solomon. It was also assisted – under God’s providence – by a season of decline and weakness among Israel’s neighbor states.”

        • On the phrase “everyone under his own vine and his own fig tree” Guzik writes, “This was a proverbial expression for a time of peace and prosperity in Israel (Isaiah 36:16, Micah 4:4, Zechariah 3:10), indicating safety from both internal and external enemies.”

      • Solomon had 4,000 stalls for his chariot horses and 12,000 horses.

        • NET Bible’s text critical notes explain, “The Hebrew text has ‘40,000…’” However, “Some Greek mss of the OT and the parallel in 2 Chr 9:25 read ‘4,000.’”

        • Guzik points out, “Unfortunately, it also shows that Solomon did not take God’s word as seriously as he should. In Deuteronomy 17:16, God spoke specifically to the future kings of Israel: But he shall not multiply horses for himself.”

      • The district governors, each in his month, supplied food for King Solomon and all those who came to the king’s table. They made sure nothing was lacking. Each man also brought his quota of barley and straw for the chariot horses and other horses to the assigned location.

Solomon’s Wisdom

      • God gave Solomon wisdom and great discernment. The breadth of his understanding was as immeasurable as the sand on the seashore. Solomon’s wisdom surpassed the wisdom of all the men in the east and all the wisdom of Egypt. He was wiser than any man, including Ethan the Ezrahite and Mahol’s sons- Heman, Calcol, and Darda. He was famous in all the surrounding nations.

      • Solomon composed 3,000 proverbs and 1,005 songs. He described all kinds of plants, from the Lebanon cedar to the hyssop that grows out of walls. He also described animals, birds, reptiles, and fish. People came from all nations, sent by all the kings in the world, to hear Solomon’s wisdom.

        • NLT Illustrated Study Bible says, “Solomon wrote much of the book of Proverbs and composed Pss 72 and 127. His knowledge of plants and animals reflected his careful observation of nature (see Prov 6:6-8). Solomon’s wisdom and literary prowess (see Matt 12:42) are reflected in the Song of Songs and Ecclesiastes. No wonder many, including kings (1 Kgs 10:1-9), sought the wisdom of Solomon.”

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