Sunday, August 25, 2013

CLXIX - II Chronicles 8-11 Solomon's Power and Splendor

We studied in the last post how, after Solomon completed the building of the Temple, he brought the Ark of the Covenant into the Temple, then he led a dedication service which included virtually all of Israel.  Included in this dedication ceremony was his prayer to God.  Then, in the very last part of chapter 7, we saw God answering Solomon's prayer, thirteen years later.  These passages we'll look at today were studied more closely when we were in the middle section of I Kings.


Verse 1 states "At the end of twenty years".  Keeping a perspective on time, it took Solomon seven years to build the Temple and another thirteen years to build the royal palace and the other buildings adjacent to the Temple.  The year is 946 BC.  We've covered about half of Solomon's forty years as king of Israel.  During this first twenty years, the Temple has been the focus of the Scriptures.  {Although I agree that the Temple should indeed be the main focus, I need to remind you that while the Temple and the royal palace was being built, Solomon was busy building the most powerful nation in recorded History, all done in about thirty years.  I believe there are three components of a successful nation:  1) a military too strong for foreign interference, 2) an economy that grows the national treasury every year and shares its wealth with its citizens, and 3) a lifestyle of its citizenry that promotes peace, happiness, and realistic hopes in its lifestyle becoming  increasingly favorable for future generations.  Solomon had accomplished all of this, although his father David had set everything up to make this possible for him.}  This chapter 8 seems to give a brief description of Solomon's power and accomplishments, which attempts to paint for the reader a picture of something that is beyond description.  Verse 2 is a very brief mentioning of what we had studied in I Kings, without which this verse would be confusing.  I explained back in Kings that Solomon gave King Hiram of Tyre certain cities as payment for the materials and labor Hiram provided for the building of the Temple and royal palace.  Hiram was sorely disappointed in this payment.  These cities were inferior in infrastructure, citizenry, economy, and resources.  Hiram gave them back to Solomon.  Although these towns were in Israel, there were no Israelites who lived there.  Only Canaanites.  Solomon determined to improve these towns, starting with sending Israelites to relocate to them and influence the foreign inhabitants to assimilate toward Israel's way of life.

Verses 3-6 takes a quick look into Solomon's military.  The only real battle that its military engaged in was mentioned in this short passage.  It says in verse 3 that Solomon attacked Hamath Zobah and captured it.  {Just a short piece of information about these two:  Solomon's father, King David was friends with Hamath, who had asked him to protect them against the aggressive Sobah, which David did.  But it seems that now, about thirty years later, Hamath and Zobah had allied themselves against Israel.  I cannot find in my research any indications as to why this happened.}  This passage continues to describe how Solomon rebuilt cities, and other built cities that didn't exist, fortifying each with walls.  He even built cities for the sole purpose of housing his chariots and war horses, which makes me think they were merely strategically placed forts.

Verses 7-10 gives an update on the people who for twenty years built the Temple and royal palace.  (David actually organized the labor.)  It mentions specifically the Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites, all Canaanites who served as slave labor to Israel.  Solomon had dispersed these foreign servants throughout Israel to serve the government and its people.  The Israelites who served as builders were placed in military service, but not in combat.

In verse 11 - Before Solomon became king he married a daughter of the king of Egypt. One of the last buildings he built in the Temple area was a palace for his wives and concubines.  When she was moved into this palace she brought her own maids and servants with her who had been with her since lived in Egypt, in the Pharaoh's palace.   She and her servants probably did not worship the Lord.  The Egyptians had their own gods.  This would cause problems for Solomon and Israel in the near future.

The remainder of this chapter continues with how Solomon maintained the proper habits of worship, actually exceeding that which was required of him.  It also tells of the navy and the merchant shipping fleet he built and from which he gained immeasurable wealth.

Chaper 9  -  The Queen of Sheba

Verses 1-4 Sheba was a wealthy country near Israel.  It bordered the Red Sea on both sides where the sea joins the Gulf of Arabia. It was famous because of its trade in gold and spices, plus a distribution center for many goods going in all four directions.  There could be many reasons the queen of Sheba visited Solomon.  Perhaps for additional trade agreements; perhaps for military treaties; perhaps as a gesture of good will.  But the Scripture is clear about her number one priority.  It was to visit Solomon to see for herself if his wisdom and splendor could possibly live up to its reputation.  In verses 5-8 she tells Solomon that he and his wisdom had exceeded her expectations and heaped praise upon him and his God, also commenting on how happy the people of Israel must be.  She then (verse 9) presented to him extravagant gifts before she departed to her home.  Algumwood is mentioned in this passage.  I couldn't find out exactly what algumwood is, but evidently it was the premier wood from which musical instruments were made plus other very special objects such as the steps leading up to the Temple.  The only thing I can say for certain about algumwood was that the trees grew far away from Israel, as the wood was brought in by ships.

The remaining verses in this chapter describe Solomon's wealth in not only stating his annual income from outside sources, but also describes the extravagance of some of the objects such as his throne, made of ivory and gold.  Check out verses 16-19.  His fleet of trading ships were not only made in Tarsus (considered the best shipbuilders, but were manned by Phoenician sailors (considered the best).  As you read these verses, try to imagine what this man's wealth looked like.  It says he made silver in Jerusalem as plentiful as stones.

At the very end of this chapter, the Scripture unceremoneously announces the death of Solomon and says that Rehoboam his son succeeds him as king.

Next Post - Two Big BOOMS:  RehoBOOM and JeroBOOM  -  The Kingdom is Divided

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