2 Chronicles 8 – Achievements of Solomon
A. Solomon and the surrounding nations.
1. (1-6) The dominion of Solomon.
It came to pass at the end of twenty years, when Solomon had built the house of the LORD and his own house, that the cities which Hiram had given to Solomon, Solomon built them; and he settled the children of Israel there. And Solomon went to Hamath Zobah and seized it. He also built Tadmor in the wilderness, and all the storage cities which he built in Hamath. He built Upper Beth Horon and Lower Beth Horon, fortified cities with walls, gates, and bars, also Baalath and all the storage cities that Solomon had, and all the chariot cities and the cities of the cavalry, and all that Solomon desired to build in Jerusalem, in Lebanon, and in all the land of his dominion.
a. At the end of twenty years: It took Solomon seven years to build the temple and 13 years to build his palace. At the end of these twenty years his kingdom was secure, stable, and blessed.
b. He also built…. He built…. and all that Solomon desired to build in Jerusalem: This passage reflects Solomon’s great heart and ambition as a builder. He energetically settled new cities and built storage cities, fortifications, chariot cities, and cities of the cavalry.
i. A problem comes in reconciling the mention of the cities that Hiram gave to Solomon, because 1 Kings 9:11-14 indicates that they were given by Solomon to Hiram. “While textual disturbance is possible, it seems more probable that they had been returned to Solomon, either because they were unacceptable (1 Kings 9:12-13) or because they had been collateral for a loan (1 Kings 9:14).” (Selman)
ii. Sadly, this new emphasis on chariots and cavalry shows that Solomon did not take God’s word as seriously as he should have. In Deuteronomy 17:16, God spoke specifically to the future kings of Israel: But he shall not multiply horses for himself. It would have been much better if Solomon had possessed the heart reflected in Psalm 20:7: Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; but we will remember the name of the LORD our God.
2. (7-10) Solomon and the conquered peoples of his dominion.
All the people who were left of the Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites, who were not of Israel; that is, their descendants who were left in the land after them, whom the children of Israel did not destroy; from these Solomon raised forced labor, as it is to this day. But Solomon did not make the children of Israel servants for his work. Some were men of war, captains of his officers, captains of his chariots, and his cavalry. And others were chiefs of the officials of King Solomon: two hundred and fifty, who ruled over the people.
a. From these Solomon raised forced labor: Solomon’s practice of using the people of neighboring conquered nations as forced labor is also described in 1 Kings 5:15-18.
b. Solomon did not make the children of Israel servants for his work: Israelites were used for the work of building the temple and Solomon’s palace, but they were not forced labor (1 Kings 5:13-14). They were often used in the management of the forced labor (who ruled over the people).
B. Solomon and the daughter of Pharaoh.
1. (11) Solomon marries an Egyptian princess.
Now Solomon brought the daughter of Pharaoh up from the City of David to the house he had built for her, for he said, “My wife shall not dwell in the house of David king of Israel, because the places to which the ark of the LORD has come are holy.”
a. Solomon brought the daughter of Pharaoh up from the City of David to the house he had built for her: This marriage to a princess of Egypt was the first of Solomon’s many unwise marriages (1 Kings 11:1-3). These unwise marriages launched the spiritual downfall of Solomon.
b. My wife shall not dwell in the house of David king of Israel, because the places to which the ark of the LORD has come are holy: With this, Solomon admitted that his wife was an unbeliever and unholy – yet he married her just the same. This led Solomon along a remarkably wicked path (1 Kings 11:4-8).
i. “Is not this a proof that he considered his wife to be a heathen, and not proper to dwell in a place which had been sanctified? Solomon had not yet departed from the true God.” (Clarke)
ii. “Solomon had, against the law of God, married this and other strange wives, for politic ends no doubt, and as hoping that by his wisdom he could reclaim them, or at least rule them…. Howbeit afterwards, overcome by the importunities of his strange wives, he yielded to them shamefully. Watch, therefore, and beware.” (Trapp)
iii. “To build a house for Pharaoh’s daughter outside the Holy City is to open its gates sooner or later to Pharaoh’s gods.” (Morgan)
iv. “The blessedness of the marriage tie depends on whether the twain are one in spirit, in a common love for Christ, and endeavour for his glory. Nothing is more terrible than when either admits in the secrecy of the heart, concerning the other, My husband or my wife cannot accompany me into the holy places where I was reared, and in which my best life finds its home.” (Meyer)
2. (12-16) The order of Solomon’s administration.
Then Solomon offered burnt offerings to the LORD on the altar of the LORD which he had built before the vestibule, according to the daily rate, offering according to the commandment of Moses, for the Sabbaths, the New Moons, and the three appointed yearly feasts; the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks, and the Feast of Tabernacles. And, according to the order of David his father, he appointed the divisions of the priests for their service, the Levites for their duties (to praise and serve before the priests) as the duty of each day required, and the gatekeepers by their divisions at each gate; for so David the man of God had commanded. They did not depart from the command of the king to the priests and Levites concerning any matter or concerning the treasuries. Now all the work of Solomon was well-ordered from the day of the foundation of the house of the LORD until it was finished. So the house of the LORD was completed.
a. Solomon offered burnt offerings: In accordance with the commanded morning and evening sacrifices (according to the daily rate as mentioned in Numbers 28:1-8) Solomon administrated the burnt offering for Israel. He also observed the other sacrifices commanded by the Law of Moses.
b. According to the order of David his father, he appointed the divisions of the priests for their service: Solomon carried out the administration for the temple service as it was originally organized by King David (1 Chronicles 24).
c. Now all the work of Solomon was well-ordered: This was a reflection of his great wisdom and an answer to his prayer for help in leading the kingdom of Israel (1 Kings 3).
3. (17-18) Solomon’s sea trading.
Then Solomon went to Ezion Geber and Elath on the seacoast, in the land of Edom. And Hiram sent him ships by the hand of his servants, and servants who knew the sea. They went with the servants of Solomon to Ophir, and acquired four hundred and fifty talents of gold from there, and brought it to King Solomon.
a. Then Solomon went to Ezion Geber and Elath on the seacoast: This was unusual for an Israelite king because the people of Israel were not known for their accomplishments at sea. Solomon boldly led the people of Israel into new ventures.
i. “‘Ezion Geber and Elath’ were ports at the north end of the Gulf of Aqaba that provided a strategic commercial access southward into the Red Sea and beyond.” (Payne)
ii. “Solomon probably bore the expenses, and his friend, the Tyrian king, furnished him with expert sailors; for the Jews, at no period of their history, had any skill in maritime affairs, their navigation being confined to the lakes of their own country, from which they could never acquire any nautical skill.” (Clarke)
b. They went with the servants of Solomon to Ophir, and acquired four hundred and fifty talents of gold from there: It is hard to say with certainty where the land of Ophir was. Some suggest it was in southern Arabia or the eastern coast of Africa. This shows the great enterprise and industriousness of Solomon’s administration.
i. “No man knows certainly, to this day, where this Ophir was situated. There were two places of this name; one somewhere in India, beyond the Ganges, and another in Arabia, near the country of the Sabaeans, mentioned by Job 22:24.” (Clarke)