THE GRANDEUR OF THE TEMPLE PROJECT REQUIRES SKILLED CRAFTSMEN AND SPECIAL LUMBER PROVIDED BY HURAM OF TYRE
J.A. Thompson: With 2 Chronicles 2 the writer reaches the point to which he has been aiming, the building of the temple. The events recorded in 2 Chr 2:1–7:22 were central for the Chronicler’s work as a whole. In fact, since the introduction of David in 1 Chronicles 11 the story leads to its focal point in the erection of the temple, its physical building, its dedication with prayer and sacrifice, and God’s acceptance of it when he appeared to Solomon and declared some important theological values for which the temple was intended to stand. Having established the pedigree of the true Israel in 1 Chronicles 1–9 and having dealt with Israel’s experimental king, Saul, son of Kish, the crucial story begins in 1 Chronicles 11. Thereafter the narrative is bent toward the planning and building of the temple, the physical symbol of God’s presence among his people Israel and the place where he might be worshiped according to his divine prescriptions.
Iain Duguid: As Solomon gives attention to building the temple (2 Chron. 2:1), he first arranges for the people that will be needed, including artisans and laborers, as well as the large amount of good timber unavailable in Israel. The Chronicler tells how Solomon “sent word” to “Hiram the king of Tyre” requesting a “skilled” artisan and also timber (vv. 3–10), to which Hiram responds (vv. 11–16). The correspondence is framed by repeated statements of the counting and assigning of “resident aliens” as laborers (vv. 2, 17–18). The Chronicler has reshaped the account in 1 Kings 5, incorporating material found later in 1 Kings 7:13–14.
Solomon’s words to Hiram and Hiram’s reply highlight two themes concerning the temple that are relevant in the postexilic era.
– First, the temple is to be a place for offerings “as ordained forever for Israel” (2 Chron. 2:4, 6b). Mosaic prescriptions continue, with another Mosaic parallel seen in the variety of skills required by the lead craftsman, similar to those needed for the tabernacle (vv. 7, 14).
– A second theme is the greatness of the temple as pointing to “the Lord our God” who surpasses all gods and cannot be limited to the temple (vv. 5, 6, 12), and who “loves his people” (v. 11). The Chronicler also notes association with David and the artisans he provided (vv. 3, 7b, 14b, 17).
Andrew Hill: Despite David’s extensive preparations for the building of the Jerusalem temple (1 Chron. 21–29), the scope of the task still requires Solomon to supplant his father’s work with preliminary efforts. The bulk of the present chapter is devoted to the exchange of correspondence between Solomon and Hiram, king of Tyre. Brief notes pertaining to the labor force for the temple project frame the negotiations of Solomon and Hiram (2:1–2, 17–18). . .
Solomon makes three requests of Hiram: cedar logs, a skilled craftsman, and pine and algum logs (2:3–9). In return for these raw building materials Solomon will provide Hiram with supplies of wheat, barley, honey, and olive oil (2:10). The foodstuffs bartered for the lumber are sent overland to Tyre, while the timbers are floated down to Joppa from Tyre in rafts (2:16). The more interesting features of the correspondence are the synopsis of temple worship (2:4) and theological treatise (2:5–6) Solomon offers the Phoenician king.
(:1-2) PROLOGUE – CONSCRIPTION OF LABOR FORCE
A. (:1) Commitment to Build Both a Temple and Royal Palace
“Now Solomon decided to build a house for the name of the LORD,
and a royal palace for himself.”
Frederick Mabie: The construction of Solomon’s temple (building on David’s preparations; cf. 1Ch 21–29) began in his fourth year as king (ca. 967 BC) during the spring month of Ziv (part of April and May) and was completed in the eleventh year of his reign (ca. 960 BC), a seven-year building process (cf. 1Ki 6:1; 2Ch 3:2). Unlike the account of Solomon’s building activities in 1 Kings (e.g., 1Ki 7:1–12), the Chronicler only mentions Solomon’s palace in passing. The central narrative focus of chs. 2–7 is the construction of the Jerusalem temple.
Iain Duguid: The “temple” is to be “for the name of the Lord,” an expression that brings together both his presence and his transcendence and includes his honor and glory. In the ancient world, a “name” was more than an identifier, being also used to describe character and (as today) reputation and fame (good or bad). God cannot be “contained” by a building, but the temple, identified as the Lord’s house, is to display his greatness and his covenantal relationship with his people (vv. 6, 9b); it is a focal point for worship (vv. 4–6, 9b), leading to others’ recognizing his honor and glory (Deut. 12:5; 1 Chron. 13:6; 17:23–24; 22:19).
David Guzik: We might think that the greatest thing about Solomon was his wisdom, his riches, his proverbs or his writings. Clearly, for the Chronicler the most important thing about Solomon was the temple he built. This was most important because it was most relevant to a community of returning exiles who struggled to build a new temple and to make a place for Israel among the nations again.
B. (:2) Commissioning of Responsibilities
“So Solomon assigned 70,000 men to carry loads,
and 80,000 men to quarry stone in the mountains,
and 3,600 to supervise them.”
Frederick Mabie: An ongoing challenge in the construction of large building projects in the biblical world was the supply of skilled and unskilled workers. Given this challenge, manpower requirements for such projects were commonly extracted from slaves, prisoners of war, and lower sectors of the society. In the case of larger empires the acquisition of human resources was a motivating factor for military excursions along with the perennial goal of obtaining financial assets such as gold and silver. In the aftermath of such military operations, both skilled and unskilled laborers would become part of an indentured workforce. In military annals from the biblical world, the number of individuals seized for work projects was listed together with other plunder obtained in battle.
August Konkel: The commissioners are likely to be broken down to 3,000 supervisors over labor and 600 officers in the higher echelons of government. Each supervisor would be responsible for about 50 men. The levy is recruited from the alien population, non-Israelites living within Israelite society. Apparently the census was in part necessary because of Israelite hegemony expanded over the new areas that David had brought under his control (Rainey 1970: 201–2). These non-Israelites would now be participants within Israelite society, but they would not have had the same status as those from native Israelite families. The Chronicler will return to the question of conscripted labor when he concludes the account of Solomon (2 Chron 8:7–10). A second kind of forced labor is introduced there, which apparently was also conscripted from nonnative peoples living among Israel.
I. (:3-10) SOLOMON’S REQUEST OF HURAM FOR ASSISTANCE IN GRAND TEMPLE BUILDING PROJECT
“Then Solomon sent word to Huram the king of Tyre, saying,”
Raymond Dillard: According to Josephus (Ag.Ap. 1.117) Hiram ascended the throne after the death of his father Abibaal ca. 970 B.C.; he was nineteen years old at his accession and reigned for thirty-four years. Josephus is the main source of chronological information on the Phoenician kings, though estimates of the worth of his data vary; see the discussion in Katzenstein, Tyre, 80–84. The Chronicler consistently writes the name “Huram,” a variant of the form used in Kings, “Hiram.” Both are shortened forms of the name ʾAhȋrām (Harris, Grammar of the Phoenician Language [New Haven: American Oriental Society, 1936] 75).
Iain Duguid: Tyre was the major Phoenician port and trading center, around 50 miles (80 km) north of Jerusalem. The main center was on an island and thus easily protected; Tyre had its own fleet (cf. 8:18). The movement of goods through the port to and from the Mediterranean coasts and inland saw Tyre’s prosperity and influence grow under Hiram. (Four hundred years after Solomon, Ezekiel 27 describes her prosperous trade and false security; a similar description is used of “Babylon” in Rev. 18:9–20.)
A. (:3b-5) Supporting Arguments for Solomon’s Request for Assistance
1. (:3b) Past Assistance Provided to King David
“As you dealt with David my father,
and sent him cedars to build him a house to dwell in,
so do for me.”
Iain Duguid: He provides two reasons to support his request: Hiram’s past relationship with David (a parity treaty) and, more importantly, the greatness of God and the diversity of offerings to be presented to him.
2. (:4) Purpose of the Temple Building Project
“Behold, I am about to build a house for the name of the LORD my God, dedicating it to Him, to burn fragrant incense before Him,
and to set out the showbread continually,
and to offer burnt offerings morning and evening, on sabbaths and on new moons and on the appointed feasts of the LORD our God,
this being required forever in Israel.”
Bob Utley: This verse lists many of the aspects of tabernacle worship.
• incense ‒ Exod. 30:1-7
• showbread ‒ Exod. 25:30; 40:23; Lev. 24:5-9
• burnt offerings each morning and evening (the continual) ‒ Exod. 29:38-42; Num. 28:3-31; 29:6-30
• offerings on the sabbaths ‒ Num. 28:9,10; 1 Chr. 23:31
• offerings on the new moon ‒ Num. 28:11-15; 1 Chr. 23:3
• the appointed feasts ‒ Exod. 23:14-17; 34:22-24; Leviticus 23; Deut. 16:16; 1 Chr. 23:31
All of these were meant to be permanent.
3. (:5) Preeminence of the God of the Temple Corresponds to Grandeur of the Project
“And the house which I am about to build will be great;
for greater is our God than all the gods.”
Martin Selman: We don’t know what Hiram’s religious beliefs were. It could be that some traces of the knowledge of YHWH had been preserved in Phoenicia. Solomon may have tried to insert some “evangelism” in his message to Hiram. That would account for the mention of some of the sacrifices and celebration of certain special days. Also the reference to YHWH as being “greater than all other gods” would fit that idea.
B. (:6) Solomon’s Humility
1. Immensity of God
“But who is able to build a house for Him,
for the heavens and the highest heavens cannot contain Him?”
2. Insignificance of Solomon
“So who am I, that I should build a house for Him,
except to burn incense before Him?”
Morgan: He never conceived it as a place to which God would be confined. He did expect, and he received, manifestations of the Presence of God in that house. Its chief value was that it afforded man a place in which he should offer incense; that is, the symbol of adoration, praise, worship, to God.
C. (:7-9a) Skilled Workers and Special Building Materials Requested
1. (:7) Skilled Workers Requested
a. Particular Skill Sets of Craftsmen
“And now send me a skilled man to work in gold, silver, brass and iron, and in purple, crimson and violet fabrics, and who knows how to make engravings,”
b. Partnership of Labor
“to work with the skilled men whom I have in Judah and Jerusalem, whom David my father provided.”
Payne: Despite a growing number of ‘skilled craftsmen’ in Israel, their techniques remained inferior to those of their northern neighbors, as is demonstrated archaeologically by less finely cut building stones and by the lower level of Israelite culture in general.
2. (:8a) Special Building Materials Requested
a. (:8a) Particular Types of Lumber
“Send me also cedar, cypress and algum timber from Lebanon,
for I know that your servants know how to cut timber of Lebanon;”
August Konkel: From Egypt to Mesopotamia, Lebanon was renowned for its huge cedar trees, which could reach a height of 100 feet (30 meters). The pine tree may be a collective name for several types of fir. Algum wood is not precisely identified; it was used to make supports for the temple (possibly pillars or balustrades) and musical instruments. This was imported by the Phoenicians and perhaps further processed there
b. (:8b-9a) Partnership of Labor
“and indeed, my servants will work with your servants, 9 to prepare timber in abundance for me,”
D. (:9b) Spectacular Grandeur of the Temple Building Project
“for the house which I am about to build
will be great and wonderful.”
E. (:10) Specific Pledge of Compensation
“Now behold, I will give to your servants, the woodsmen who cut the timber, 20,000 kors of crushed wheat, and 20,000 kors of barley, and 20,000 baths of wine, and 20,000 baths of oil.”
Raymond Dillard: Tyre may have been rich in trade but apparently needed substantial imports to feed her population. The cor is a unit of dry measure, slightly above six bushels, for a total of 125,000 bushels each of wheat and barley. The bath is a unit of liquid measure, approximately six gallons, though the precise standard for these measures at a given time and locality is not known with confidence.
II. (:11-16) HURAM’S RESPONSE SHOWS RESPECT FOR THE GOD OF ISRAEL AND SUPPORT FOR SOLOMON
“Then Huram, king of Tyre, answered in a letter sent to Solomon:”
Thomas Constable: Huram’s reply (vv. 11-16) shows that in Solomon’s day, Israel was drawing Gentile nations to Yahweh. This was part of God’s purpose for Israel and was something that the ideal Son of David would accomplish (cf. Exod. 19:5-6; Hag. 2:7; Zech. 8:22-23).
A. (:11b-12) Recognition of Solomon’s Divine Calling
1. (:11b) Called by the Lord to be King of Israel
“Because the LORD loves His people, He has made you king over them.”
2. (:12) Called by the Lord to Build Both a Temple and Royal Palace
“Then Huram continued, ‘Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, who has made heaven and earth, who has given King David a wise son, endowed with discretion and understanding, who will build a house for the LORD and a royal palace for himself.’”
B. (:13-14) Recruitment of Huram-abi to Contribute His Skilled Craftsmanship
“And now I am sending a skilled man, endowed with understanding, Huram-abi, 14 the son of a Danite woman and a Tyrian father, who knows how to work in gold, silver, bronze, iron, stone and wood, and in purple, violet, linen and crimson fabrics, and who knows how to make all kinds of engravings and to execute any design which may be assigned to him, to work with your skilled men, and with those of my lord David your father.”
C. (:15-16) Responsibilities of Both Parties to Fulfill the Building Contract
1. (:15) Responsibility of Solomon to Supply Material Provisions
“Now then, let my lord send to his servants wheat and barley, oil and wine, of which he has spoken.”
2. (:16) Responsibility of Huram to Supply Necessary Lumber for the Building Projects
“And we will cut whatever timber you need from Lebanon, and bring it to you on rafts by sea to Joppa, so that you may carry it up to Jerusalem.”
James Duguid: Compared to the portrayal of Huram-abi in Kings, the Chronicler has added material connecting him closely to Oholiab, the master-craftsman who worked on the tabernacle. The list of Huram-abi’s skills in verse 14 has been expanded to include Oholiab’s skills from Exodus 38:23, and whereas 1 Kings 7:14 notes that Huram-abi’s mother was from Naphtali, Chronicles traces his genealogy among the Danites, the tribe of Oholiab. (In 1 Kings, Huram-abi is called “Hiram”—not to be confused with the king by that name.) Given the mention of Bezalel in 1:5, the Chronicler seems to be connecting Solomon and Huram-abi to the two artificers of the tabernacle, Bezalel and Oholiab. Why do you think establishing continuity between the tabernacle and the temple is so important to the Chronicler? What impact should this continuity have on Israel’s worship and faith?
(:17-18) EPILOGUE – CONSCRIPTION OF LABOR FORCE
A. (:17) Census of Foreigners
“And Solomon numbered all the aliens who were in the land of Israel, following the census which his father David had taken; and 153,600 were found.”
B. (:18) Commissioning of Responsibilities
“And he appointed 70,000 of them to carry loads,
and 80,000 to quarry stones in the mountains,
and 3,600 supervisors to make the people work.”
Iain Duguid: The Chronicler’s account of Solomon’s preparations, supplementing those made by David, concludes by repeating with more details the opening numbers of foreign workers (v. 2), following the pattern set by David (1 Chron. 22:2). The details summarize 1 Kings 5:13–16, but the Chronicler omits the “30,000” who appear to be Israelites who worked in three shifts to help in Lebanon and mentions only “all the resident aliens who were in the land of Israel” (cf. 2 Chron. 8:9 = 1 Kings 9:22); “153,600” is his own total of the three figures matched in Kings (70,000 + 80,000 + 3,600).
Workers and resources, from within Israel and paid for from outside, some arranged by David and the rest by Solomon, are now organized and at hand. Work can begin on the temple that is “for the name of the Lord” (2 Chron. 2:1).