2 Chronicles 1

2 CHRONICLES CHAPTER 1

Reign of Solomon (1:1 –9:31)

Confirmation of Solomon (1:1 –17)

Solomon Worships at Gibeon

      • David’s son Solomon firmly established himself over his kingdom. Yahweh his God was with him and made him exceedingly great.

      • Solomon addressed all of Israel, including those who commanded units of a thousand and of a hundred, the judges, and all of the leaders of Israel, who were the heads of the families. Solomon and the entire assembly went together to the high place that was in Gibeon because God’s tent of meeting, which Yahweh’s servant Moses had made in the wilderness, was located there. Now David had already brought up the ark of God from Kiriath Jearim to the tent he had prepared for it in Jerusalem. But the bronze altar that Bezalel (who was Uri’s son and Hur’s grandson) had made was in front of Yahweh’s tabernacle in Gibeon. Solomon and the entire assembly inquired at it. There in front of the tabernacle, Solomon went up to the bronze altar in Yahweh’s presence and offered 1,000 burnt sacrifices on it.

        • ESV Study Bible writes, “Solomon’s journey to the Mosaic tabernacle and altar at Gibeon, like David’s mission to retrieve the ark (1 Chron 13:1- 16:43), is presented as a public enterprise that involves all Israel (cf 1 Kings 2:4). Like David, Solomon maintains continuity with the Mosaic covenant as the foundation of his own reign…Bezalel is the master craftsman of the tabernacle, assisted by Oholiab (see Ex 31:1-11)…”

        • ESV Archaeological Study Bible makes the following remarks regarding the “high place” at Gibeon, “A high place was an outdoor sacred site located on a natural or artificial hill, often with associated rooms used for religious rituals and communal meals…The high place at Gibeon was a legitimate place to worship the Lord, as it was only after Solomon completed the temple that worship at high places was expressly forbidden. Gibeon, modern day el-Jib, is about 6 miles north-northwest of Jerusalem in the central hill country of Benjamin. The site’s identification was confirmed by the discovery of over 30 jar handles from the eighth to seventh centuries BC bearing the city’s name in Paleo-Hebrew script…”

Solomon Asks for Wisdom

      • That night God appeared to Solomon and said, “Ask for whatever you want Me to give to you.” Solomon replied to God, “You have shown great and faithful love to my father David, and You have made me king in his place. Now, O Yahweh God, let Your promise to my father David be fulfilled, because You have made me king over a people who are as numerous as the dust of the earth. Now grant me wisdom and discernment so that I can lead these people. Otherwise, who could possibly govern this great people of Yours?”

        • ESV Study Bible notes, “Solomon’s faithful seeking leads to a nighttime appearance of God (in a dream, according to 1 Kings 3:5), in which God invites Solomon to ask in prayer for whatever he desires (cf John 15:7). Solomon’s request that God will fulfill his promise to David (see 1 Chron 17:23) looks forward to the completion of the temple (2 Chron 6:17), while his request for wisdom and knowledge is focused not on selfish ambition but on the need to govern God’s people wisely…”

      • God answered Solomon, “Because your heart’s desire is wisdom and discernment to govern My people over whom I’ve made you king, and you didn’t ask for possessions, wealth, glory, the death of your enemies, or even long life, I grant you wisdom and discernment. Furthermore, I am giving you riches, possessions, and honor surpassing that of any king before or after you.”

        • Guzik says, “God was pleased by what Solomon asked for, in that he knew his great need for knowledge [rendered “discernment” above in accordance with the NIV, NET, and some other translations] and wisdom. God was also pleased by what Solomon did not ask for, in that he did not ask for riches or fame or power for himself…God not only answered Solomon’s prayer, he answered it beyond all expectation. Solomon did not ask for riches and wealth and honor, but God gave him those also.”

        • Barnes’ Notes on the Bible makes this point, “The verbal differences between this passage and the corresponding one of Kings 1 Kings 3:5-14 are very considerable, and indicate the general truth that the object of the sacred historians is to give a true account of the real bearing of what was said: not ordinarily to furnish us with all or the exact words that were uttered. The most important point omitted in Chronicles, and supplied by Kings, is the conditional promise of long life made to Solomon 1 Kings 3:14; while the chief point absent from Kings, and recorded by our author, is the solemn appeal made by Solomon to the promise of God to David his father 2 Chronicles 1:9, which he now called upon God to ‘establish,’ or to perform.”

        • Looking forward to Solomon’s tragic end of life circumstances, Clarke posits this apt question, “I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart – I have given thee a capacious mind, one capable of knowing much: make a proper use of thy powers, under the direction of my Spirit, and thou shalt excel in wisdom all that have gone before thee; neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee. But, query, Was not all this conditional? If he should walk in his ways, and keep his statutes and commandments, 1 Kings 3:14. Was it not to depend upon his proper use of initiatory inspirations? Did he ever receive all this wisdom? Did not his unfaithfulness prevent the fulfillment of the Divine purpose? Instead of being the wisest of men, did he not become more brutish than any man? Did he not even lose the knowledge of his Creator, and worship the abominations of the Moabites, Zidonians, etc., etc.! And was not such idolatry a proof of the grossest stupidity? How few proofs does his life give that the gracious purpose of God was fulfilled in him! He received much; but he would have received much more, had he been faithful to the grace given. No character in the sacred writings disappoints us more than the character of Solomon.”

      • Then Solomon left the tabernacle at the high place in Gibeon and went to Jerusalem, where he reigned over Israel.

        • HCSB writes, “The Chronicler omitted 1 Kg 3:16-28, the story of Solomon’s wisdom in solving the case of the identity of a baby. While Kg used secular events to illustrate Solomon’s greatness, the Chronicler’s definition of greatness began and ended with the building and furnishing of the temple and its dedication. These two visions of Solomon’s greatness are not incompatible or contradictory, but they emphasize different aspects of the king.”

Solomon’s Wealth

      • Solomon accumulated 1,400 chariots and 12,000 horses, which he stationed in the chariot cities and with him in Jerusalem. The king made silver and gold as plentiful in Jerusalem as stone, and he made cedar as abundant as the sycamore-fig trees that grow in the Judean foothills. Solomon imported his horses from Egypt and Kue. The king’s traders purchased them from Kue at the going price. They paid 15 pounds of silver for each chariot from Egypt and about 4 pounds of silver for each horse. They also exported chariots and horses to all the Hittite kings and to the Syrian kings.

        • NLT Illustrated Study Bible says, “The illustration of Solomon’s wealth and power (expanded on in 9:25-28) comes from the summary of his kingdom in 1 Kgs 10:26-29). In Kings, the summary of Solomon’s wealth provided a transition to the negative aspects of Solomon’s rule (1 Kgs 11). Here, Solomon’s amassing of wealth showed the fulfillment of God’s promise ( 2 Chr 1:12).”

        • However, Guzik points out that, “At the end of this great description of Solomon’s wealth and splendor, we have the sound of this dark note. This was in direct disobedience to Deuteronomy 17:16, which said to the Kings of Israel: But he shall not multiply horses for himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt to multiply horses, for the LORD has said to you, ‘You shall not return that way again.’”

        • On the mention of Solomon’s exporting of horses and chariots, Guzik adds, “This may explain why Solomon broke such an obvious commandment. Perhaps the importation of horses from Egypt began as trading as an agent on behalf of other kings. From this, perhaps Solomon could say, ‘I’m importing horses from Egypt but I am not doing it for myself. I’m not breaking God’s command.’ Many examples of gross disobedience begin as clever rationalizations.”

      • NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible includes this fascinating excursus titled, “All the King’s Horses”:

          • The notion that Solomon imported his horses from Egypt is commonly dismissed. Yet, there is evidence that northeast Africa (Egypt, Cush, and Nubia) was known for its horses both before and after the time of Solomon. A number of texts indicate that certain Egyptian horses (especially Nubian horses) were a large and prized breed of horses in contrast to the smaller horses common in the northern regions.

        • Moreover, the Sudan was known as a horse-breeding region, with the Dangola Reach (Cush) being known for the finest horses. Texts from the thirteenth century BC mention scores of horses in the east delta region of Egypt. Ramses II (thirteenth century BC) is noted to have built large stable facilities in the Nile delta region. In light of the quality of his horses, Ramses II was asked to send horses to the Hittite king in Anatolia. Following Solomon’s time frame, Sargon II of Assyria (eighth century BC) speaks of 12 large Egyptian horses unlike any found in Assyria given to him by the Egyptian pharaoh Osorkon IV. Lastly, it should not be missed that the prohibition against an Israelite king getting horses from Egypt (Dt 17:14-20) would imply that a king would wish to do so!

          • Kue can be equated with Cilicia in southeast Anatolia in the lowlands of modern southeastern Turkey, an area known for ample pasturage for equine breeding.

        • With respect to the price of a horse noted 2 Ch 1:17 (150 shekels), a text from Nuzi (fifteenth-fourteenth centuries BC) reflects the immense value of a horse vis-a-vis other animals. In this text, a single horse was deemed equal in value to the sum of the following ten animals: one ox, three goats, and six sheep. In addition, a text from Mari (eighteenth century BC) indicates that a horse cost 300 shekels, and later texts from Ugarit (thirteenth century BC) indicate a price point of 200 shekels, illustrating that the 150 shekels paid by Solomon’s royal merchants in the tenth century BC fits the declining price curve for horses. By the sixth century BC, another text indicates that the price for a quality horse had gone up, with 230 shekels noted as the price for a top-quality horse. Other early texts indicate much lower prices for horses (particularly young colts and unbroken horses), implying a wide range of prices corresponding to size, age, color, pedigree, function, training, etc. (as is the case today).

        • 2 Chr 1:17 indicates that Solomon functions as a broker/middle man between Aramean and Neo-Hittite states in the north and Egypt in the south, reflecting the growing regional prominence of ancient Israel. From this perspective, Solomon’s ‘royal merchants’ (2 Ch 1:16) are engaging in trade in much the same way as the rulers of Carchemish bartered trade between Anatolia and Mesopotamia (including the trade of horses). With respect to brokering the export of chariots from Egypt, Solomon is leveraging his kingdom’s position as a land bridge between the kingdoms of the south (Egypt, Nubia, Kush) and those of the north (Aram/Syria, Mesopotamia, Anatolia).

          • The brokering of these horses from Kue to Neo-Hittite and Aramean states, however, requires more explanation. While the notion of Solomon’s ‘royal merchants’ importing horses from Kue (treated above) is not problematic, the detail that Solomon was able to broker the sale of horses originating in Kue to ‘all the kings of the Hittites and of the Arameans’ (2 Ch 1:17) implies that Solomon exerted significant control over these northern territories. Interestingly, the Bible stresses that this is exactly what had begun during David’s rule (recall David’s subjugation of northern Aram and Damascus, 2 Sa 8:3-11). As a result, Solomon was able to build and fortify storage cities in Hamath in northern Aram/Syria (an ideal place for his ‘royal merchants’ to rear and keep horses because of the ample amount of pasturage in the region) as well as Tadmor, an oasis city on the main trade route between Mesopotamia and Canaan (2 Ch 8:3-4). These locations gave Solomon control over important trade routes for commerce with Aramean and Neo-Hittite states.”

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