2 Chronicles 2

2 CHRONICLES CHAPTER 2

Building the Temple (2:1 – 7:22)

Solomon’s Letter to Hiram

        • NET Bible points out, “Beginning with 2:1, the verse numbers through 2:18 in the English Bible differ from the verse numbers in the Hebrew text (BHS), with 2:1 ET = 1:18 HT, 2:2 ET = 2:1 HT, 2:3 ET = 2:2 HT, etc., through 2:18 ET = 2:17 HT. Beginning with 3:1 the verse numbers in the ET and HT are again the same.”

      • Solomon ordered a temple to be build for the name of Yahweh, and a royal palace for himself. Solomon conscripted 70,000 porters, 80,000 men to quarry stone in the hill country, and 3,600 supervisors over them.

        • NLT Illustrated Study Bible writes, “The Temple is immediately introduced as the first priority among Solomon’s building projects, although the work actually began in the fourth year of his reign (3:2). Solomon used the intervening years to negotiate with King Hiram (2:3) for materials and skilled workers.”

        • NET Bible notes that there is a discrepancy in the Masoretic text regarding how many supervisors there were, “The parallel text of MT in 1 Kgs 5:16 has ‘thirty-three hundred,’ but some Greek mss there read ‘thirty-six hundred’ in agreement with 2 Chr 2:2, 18.”

        • For additional discussion from various sources on this numerical discrepancy, the interested reader may refer back to the notes for 1 Kings 5.

      • Solomon sent a message to King Hiram of Tyre:

        • ESV Study Bible remarks, “Solomon’s letter to Hiram, king of Tyre (who had earlier assisted David; 1 Chron 14:1). is considerably expanded from 1 Kings 5:3-6 to describe the purpose of the temple for regular and seasonal worship according to the Law of Moses, to express the supremacy and transcendence of Israel’s God (2 Chron 2:5-6), and to request a skilled craftsman (v. 7), along with different kinds of timber (v. 8)…”

        • Send me cedar logs as you did for my father David when he was building himself a house to live in. Look, I’m about to build a temple for the name of Yahweh my God and dedicate it to Him for burning sweet incense before Him, for the regular display of the showbread, and for burnt offerings in the morning and evening, on the Sabbaths, on the new moons, and at the appointed festivals of Yahweh our God, as ordained forever for Israel. The house that I am going to build is going to be great because our God is greater than all gods. But who is even able to build Him a house since the heavens, even the highest heavens, cannot contain Him. Who am I to build a house for Him? It will really just be a place to offer sacrifices before Him.

        • HCSB adds, “The temple was never the ‘house’ where God had His being, unlike the temples of the surrounding nations. Rather, Israel’s temple was a place to meet the Lord in worship. See also Jesus’ statement to the Samaritan woman at the well, that true worshipers of God must do so in spirit and truth, not in physical location (Jn 4:17-24).”

        • Therefore, send me a man who is skilled in working with gold, silver, bronze, and iron, as well as purple, crimson, and blue colored fabrics, and who knows how to engrave. He will work with my skilled craftsmen here in Jerusalem and Judah, whom my father David appointed. Send me cedars, evergreens, and almug timber from Lebanon, because I know your servants are skilled in cutting timber there. My servants will work with your servants in order to provide me with large quantities of lumber, because the house that I am going to build will be large and wonderful. I will pay your servants who cut the timber 100,000 bushels of ground wheat, 100,000 bushels of barley, 110,000 gallons of wine, and 110,000 gallons of oil.

Hiram’s Reply

      • Then King Hiram of Tyre answered Solomon in a letter:

        • ESV Study Bible says, “Hiram’s letter of reply includes a Gentile’s acknowledgment of Yahweh as Creator, and of God’s gift of wisdom to Solomon…which is especially focused on the task of temple building…”

        • Because Yahweh loves His people, He has made you their king. Bless Yahweh, the God of Israel, who made heaven and earth. He has given King David a wise son who has discernment and insight, who will build a temple for Yahweh and a royal palace for himself. I have sent you Huram-abi, a skilled and capable man, whose mother was from Dan and whose father was from Tyre. He is trained to work with gold, silver, bronze, iron, stone, and wood, as well as purple, blue, and crimson fabrics, and fine linen. He knows how to do all kinds of engraving and can execute any design given to him. He will work with your skilled craftsmen and the skilled craftsmen of my lord David, your father. Now let my lord send to his servants the wheat, barley, oil, and wine that he promised. We will cut all the timber from Lebanon that you need and float them as rafts by sea to Joppa. You can then take them up to Jerusalem.

          • NET Bible notes, “The name Huram Abi means ‘Huram [is] my father.’”

        • Regarding Hiram’s acknowledgment of Yahweh, the following sources bear repeating for clarification:

          • NLT Illustrated Study Bible clarifies, “Hiram did not acknowledge Israel’s God as his own, but following ancient Near Eastern protocol, he politely recognized Solomon’s God…”

          • This would not be a big deal to one who believed in many gods who ruled over different people groups or geographical areas. As Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary notes, “This language is no decisive evidence that Hiram was a worshipper of the true God, as he might use it only on the polytheistic principle of acknowledging Jehovah as the God of the Hebrews.”

Solomon’s Work Force

      • Solomon took a census of all the male resident foreigners who were in the land of Israel, after the census that his father David had taken. There were 153,600 in all. He designated 70,000 of them as porters, 80,000 as quarry workers in the hill country, and 3,600 as supervisors to make the people work.

        • You may recall from our notes in 1 Kings 5 that there is some debate regarding whether or not Solomon used Israelites as slave labor, as well as issues reconciling the numbers given in parallel accounts (which I already noted at the beginning of this chapter). The interested reader may refer to our notes for details. Here in 2 Chronicles, the HCSB gives the following remarks regarding the potential use of Israelites as slave labor:

          • There is some question as to whether Solomon imposed forced labor on Israelites in addition to the Canaanite ‘foreigners’ mentioned here. In the parallel passage, 1 Kg 5:13, Solomon raised his forced labor out of ‘all Israel.’ This could mean that Solomon used Israelites as forced labor, something forbidden by the law (see Lv 25:43, 46, 53). Second Ch 8:9 and 1 Kg 9:22 explicitly deny that Solomon did this.

        • Nevertheless, there is strong evidence that Solomon, while not starting out enslaving Israelites, ended up doing so. The northern tribes begged Rehoboam, Solomon’s son and successor, to lighten their heavy burdens (1 Kg 12:4). Further, why would Rehoboam send the officer in charge of forced labor to negotiate with Israelites (Canaanite forced laborers would not be in a position to negotiate)? And why would the Israelites stone Adoram to death (1 Kg 12:18), if they did not view him as the source of their suffering?”

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