3 Kings x.
Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. Saba is written with sh, to denote a part of Arabia, and with s, when Ethiopia is meant, Psalm lxxi. 10. The former is here designated, (Menochius) being “the ends of the earth, east” of Judea, (Tacitus, Hist. v.) and lying also to the south of that country, Matthew xii. 42. This region was famous for gold, &c., and acknowledged the dominion of women:
Medis levibusque Sabæis
Imperat hic sexus. (Claud. Eutrop. i.)
Grotius follows the opinion of Josephus ([Antiquities?] viii. 6.) and Origen, (hom. 2. in Canticle of Canticles.) who place the seat of this queen’s empire at Meroe. The Abyssinians also pretend that their kings are descendants of Solomon, by the queen of Saba; and that Azarias, the son of Sadoc, stole the tables of the law, when he brought back his pupil from Jerusalem. (Sanctius) — This shews their vanity and ignorance. (Calmet) — Still many suppose that this queen came from their country. (Worthington, &c.) — Lord, who had raised Solomon to so great splendour, while, on the other hand, the king endeavoured to enhance his glory. (Haydock) — If we place the stop after Solomon, we may say that the queen was moved by divine grace, and attracted, like the Gabaonites, (Josue ix. 9.) to embrace the true religion; (Calmet) though she seems to have professed it already, as many others did among the Gentiles. (Haydock) — The Fathers look upon her as a figure of the Christian Church. (St. Hilary, Psalm cxxi.; St. Irenæus iv. 45., &c.) Barbara natione, non animo. (St. Paulin, ep. 1.) — Questions. Thus the ancients tried each others skill, Judges xiv. 12. See chap. iv. 30. The questions might regard natural history or religion. (Menochius)
Ver. 4. House, the palace, or rather the temple, (Calmet) or both. (Menochius) — Dion (37) and Tacitus extol the grandeur of the temple, which Titus destroyed. What would they have said of that built by Solomon? (Calmet)
Ver. 5. In her. She fainted away in rapture and astonishment. (Haydock) — Thus the church of the Gentiles is taught, by the gospel, to lay aside the spirit of pride, &c. (Worthington)
Ver. 9. Justice. Kings are given by God, either in his mercy or in his anger. (Calmet) — They are not appointed for themselves alone. (Menochius) — This queen was moved to take so long a journey, to hear and to see Solomon, as a figure of the many potentates who should embrace the Christian faith. (Worthington)
Ver. 11. Thyine. Pliny ([Natural History?] iii. 16.) mentions a species of tall and incorruptible trees, called thya. The wood was odoriferous, and very costly. Citri et mensarum insania, quas feminæ viris contra margaritas regerunt. (B. xiii., and xv. 16.) Calypso burnt it, to perfume her whole island. (Homer) — It was used as a sort of incense in sacrifices, and thence received its name. (Haydock) — Septuagint translate, “plained;” and elsewhere, pine-trees, which is adopted by St. Jerome, 2 Paralipomenon ii. 8. (Calmet) — Hebrew reads almuggim in one place, and algumin in the other, the letters being transposed; “for I suppose, says Kennicott, it will hardly be said that these trees were both almug and algum.” (Haydock) — One word might be the Ethiopian pronunciation. (Huet) — Yet Kimchi observes, that such transpositions of letters are very common among the Hebrews. (Du Hamel) — Solomon had desired Hiram to send him some algum, or “gum bearing” wood: but as there was not sufficient, or so fine, in Libanus as in Ophir, or in foreign parts, he procured more from those countries. The wood might probably resemble that of settim, or of black acacia, (Exodus xxv. 5.) whence the gum of Arabia is extracted. Acanthos, in Thebais, was celebrated for its fine thorn-trees, and for its gum. (Strabo xvii.) (Calmet) — It is placed near Memphis. (Pliny, [Natural History?] iv 10.) — The Rabbins commonly understand the Hebrew to mean, “coral,” which is not fit for instruments, much less for architecture. Others translate ebony, or Brazil wood, but without reason. (Calmet) (Tirinus)
Ver. 12. Rails. Hebrew mihsad, “pillars, supporters, or banisters.” (Haydock) — Most interpreters suppose the rails were on each side of the road, leading from the palace to the temple. (Calmet) — Paralipomenon stairs. — Citterns, or harps and lyres. (Haydock) — Hebrew, “kinnoroth and nebalim.”
Ver. 14. Gold. His stated revenue was, 4,646,350l. sterling. (Haydock)
Ver. 15. Merchants: wholesale. (Menochius) — Arabia, the desert, which was peopled by various nations. Arab means, “a mixture, or assemblage,” as well as “the night, and a fruitless country.” Septuagint seem to have read abor, “all the kings of the other side” the Euphrates, who were also called Arabs. See chap. iv. 24. — Country around Judea, comprising the Phylarchs of Arabia, (Genesis xvii. 20.) and the Philistine Satraps.
Ver. 16. Shields. Hebrew tsinnu is rather indeterminate, denoting something sharp or pointed; “a dart,” &c. (Calmet) — Paralipomenon spears. Some of the shields were made with a point, projecting from the middle, (Haydock) with which the enemy might be wounded. (Menochius) — These arms were used when the king went to the temple, and were reposited in the arsenal, at his return, chap. xiv. 28.
Ver. 17. Targets, smaller than the former, and resembling a crescent.
Ducit Amazonidum lunatis agmina peltis. (Virgil, Æneid i.) (Calmet)
— Paralipomenon reads, shields. — Fine. Septuagint, “ductile.” Hebrew sséut, “beaten, refined,” &c. — Hundred is omitted in Hebrew and Septuagint, (Haydock) but is found in 2 Paralipomenon (ix. 16.) where we read 300 of gold, in like manner as 600 of gold in the preceding verse, without specifying the particular weight in either. These targets or shields, seem to have been heavier than the former, and designed only for ornament, being placed in the great hall, as they weighed each 375 Roman pounds, or 18,000 sicles; (Calmet) unless minæ, pound, be here put for sicle; as Josephus ([Antiquities?] ii. 3.) says that sons of Jacob sold their brother for twenty pieces of silver, Genesis xxxvii. 28. (Menochius) — Salien thinks that 200 shields were each worth 600 sicles, and these 300 targets weighed each 300 sicles of gold. (Haydock)
Ver. 18. Ivory. Hebrew, “of the tooth” (or horn) of elephants: people do not agree of which the ivory is formed. See Pliny ([Natural History?] viii. 3.) for the former sentiment, and for the latter, Varro vi. Ezechiel (xxvii. 15.) seems to unite both sentiments, calling it, “horns of the tooth.” (Haydock) — Ivory may, in effect, be wrought like horn. — Finest. Hebrew, “gold of Uphas.” This was the country whence it was brought; (Jeremias x. 9.) probably Colchis, where the river Phasis, or Phison, flows, Genesis ii. 11. (Calmet) — The Chaldean calls Uphas, (in Jeremias) Ophir; and Huet supposes that Paz and Parvaim designate the same place, chap. ix. 28., and Job xxviii. 17. (Du Hamel) — In Paralipomenon, we only read, pure gold, which would suffer the ivory to appear in some places. (Calmet)
Ver. 19. Behind, like an alcove, (Haydock) placed in the porch of the palace, chap. vii. 8. — Hands, for the elbows to rest on. In Paralipomenon, St. Jerome translates, “little” arms. The feet might also be made in this shape. Josephus ([Antiquities?] viii. 5.) represents them as forming the seat: (Calmet) and the Septuagint place them on each side: “the fore-parts of oxen, projecting from the back of the throne, and hands on the throne, on each side of the seat.” In Paralipomenon also, we find a foot-stool of gold. (Haydock)
Ver. 21. No silver vessels, (Calmet) though there was a great abundance of that metal, ver. 27. It was not deemed worthy to be admitted at the king’s table. (Haydock)
Ver. 22. To Tharsis. This word in Hebrew signifies, “the sea,” Isaias ii. 16., and xxiii. 10. (Menochius) — But when it signifies some particular place, (Haydock) it probably refers to Tarsus of Cilicia, which was once the most famous mart on the Mediterranean, though not perhaps in the days of Solomon, but after it had been embellished by the Assyrian kings. “Ships of Tharsis,” often denote such as were fit for a long voyage; and of this description were the fleets of Solomon and of Hiram, which sailed from Asiongaber to Ophir, and touched at various ports, where they procured what they wanted. (Calmet) — Hebrew, “the king had at sea a navy of Tharsis….once in three years: the navy of Tharsis came, bringing gold,” &c. (Haydock) — Teeth. Hebrew Shenhabim. The latter word is commonly rendered elephants, k being lost at the beginning. (Bochart) — Syriac and Arabic intimate, that the elephants were brought alive. Perhaps n may be dropped after b; so that we should read, ebnim, as [in] Ezechiel xxvii. 15., and translate ivory and ebony; the one being remarkable for its white, and the other for is black colour. Both might be procured on the coasts of Ethiopia, by which the fleet passed. The Persians, and Sesostris, required the people of the country to pay both for tribute. (Pliny, [Natural History?] xii. 14.; Diodorus i.) — Apes. Hebrew Kophim. Greek, Kepos. There was a peculiar species in Ethiopia, which the Egyptians adored at Babylon, near Memphis, and was exhibited by Julius Cæsar, in the public shews. (Solin.; Bochart) — Peacocks is not expressed in the Septuagint. (Calmet) — The Roman edition, instead of elephants, &c., inserts, “stones” &c., intended for the various edifices and towns, which Solomon fortified, to keep under the nations of Chanaan, whom he forced to labour, &c. But the Alexandrian copy has, taonon, “peacocks,” as thuciim is rendered (Haydock) by the Chaldean, Syriac, &c. (Calmet) — Huet observes, that these birds were scarcely known in the time of Alexander, and would therefore understand , psittacos, “parrots.” (Du Hamel) — But peacocks were called, “birds of Media,” as they were very common in that country, (Calmet) and about Babylon. (Diodorus ii.) — The fleet of Solomon might advance as far as the confines of Media. Josephus adds, that it brought home Ethiopian slaves, who were in high esteem in a country where eunuchs were employed to guard the women, (Calmet) as there would be less danger of too great familiarity. (Haydock)
Ver. 24. The earth; or, the kings of, &c., Paralipomenon.
Ver. 26. Hunderd chariots. Paralipomenon, forty thousand horses, in the stables, and 12,000 chariots and horsemen; though the chariots may be referred to the former number, conformably to the Hebrew, and to chap. iv. 26. (Menochius) — Many of the horses were not employed in the chariots, (Salien) which were 1400 in number, 2 Paralipomenon i. 14. (Menochius)
Ver. 27. Sycamores, (Hebrew shikmim) which were formerly very common in Palestine, as they are still about Cairo, in Egypt. The fruit resembles figs, as the leaves do the mulberry tree; whence the name is a compound of sukon, “a fig,” and moria, “a mulberry;” though some would prefer moros, “a fool,” to denote that the fruit is “insipid.” It is however sweeter than wild figs, and proceeds from the trunk of the tree. (Calmet)
Ver. 28. Egypt was once very famous for horses, and the breed is much admired by travellers. The Turks will not suffer strangers to have them. The canals made by Sesostris and other kings, caused their numbers to be diminished. (Herodotus ii. 108.) — Yet there were many used in the time of Ezechias, 4 Kings xviii. 24. — And Coa. Some take this to be the name of some unknown place, (Du Hamel) or of a town in Arabia Felix, (Ptol. vi. 17.) or “of a fair.” (Tirinus) — Hebrew, “and from Michoe,” which was the ancient name of Troglodytis, near Egypt. (Pliny, [Natural History?] vi. 29.) (Calmet) — Protestants, “and linen yarn; the king’s merchants received the linen yarn at the price.” Mokue signifies “a thread;” (Haydock) and the linen cloth of Egypt was in high estimation, Isaias xix. 9., and Ezechiel xxvii. 7. (Pliny, [Natural History?] xix. 1.) — Jarchi and others understand, “a string” of horses, tied together by the tails. But Bochart translates, “They brought horses for Solomon out of Egypt; and, as for the tribute, the custom-house officers of the king received it, at a certain rate,” agreed upon between Solomon and the king of Egypt.
Ver. 29. Fifty, upon an average. — Hethites: some had retired, and built Lusa; (Judges i. 26.) others dwelt beyond Libanus, 4 Kings vii. 4. These kings sold horses to Solomon; or, according to the Hebrew, the Jews had the traffic of horses in their own hands. (Calmet) — Protestants, “and so for all the kings….did they bring them out by their means.” Septuagint, “thus to all the kings….of Syria, on the sea-shore, they came out.” (Haydock) — The merchants sold horses to these kings, at 150 sicles a piece. (Calmet)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
The queen of Saba cometh to king Solomon: his riches and glory.
1 And *the queen of Saba having heard of the fame of Solomon in the name of the Lord, came to try him with hard questions.
2 And entering into Jerusalem, with a great train, and riches, and camels that carried spices, and an immense quantity of gold, and precious stones, she came to king Solomon, and spoke to him all that she had in her heart.
3 And Solomon informed her of all the things she proposed to him: there was not any word the king was ignorant of, and which he could not answer her.
4 And when the queen of Saba saw all the wisdom of Solomon, and the house which he had built,
5 And the meat of his table, and the apartments of his servants, and the order of his ministers, and their apparel, and the cup-bearers, and the holocausts, which he offered in the house of the Lord, she had no longer any spirit in her;
6 And she said to the king: The report is true, which I heard in my own country,
7 Concerning thy words, and concerning thy wisdom. And I did not believe them that told me, till I came myself, and saw with my own eyes, and have found that the half hath not been told me: thy wisdom and thy works exceed the fame which I heard.
8 Blessed are thy men, and blessed are thy servants, who stand before thee always, and hear thy wisdom.
9 Blessed be the Lord thy God, whom thou hast pleased, and who hath set thee upon the throne of Israel, because the Lord hath loved Israel for ever, and hath appointed thee king, to do judgment and justice.
10 *And she gave the king a hundred and twenty talents of gold, and of spices a very great store, and precious stones: there was brought no more such abundance of spices as these which the queen of Saba gave to king Solomon.
11 (*The navy also of Hiram, which brought gold from Ophir, brought from Ophir great plenty of thyine-trees, and precious stones.
12 And the king made of the thyine-trees the rails of the house of the Lord, and of the king’s house, and citterns and harps for singers: there were no such thyine-trees as these brought nor seen unto this day.)
13 And king Solomon gave the queen of Saba all that she desired, and asked of him: besides what he offered her of himself of his royal bounty. And she returned, and went to her own country, with her servants.
14 And the weight of the gold that was brought to Solomon every year, was six hundred and sixty-six talents of gold:
15 Besides that which the men brought him that were over the tributes, and the merchants, and they that sold by retail, and all the kings of Arabia, and the governors of the country.
16 And Solomon made two hundred shields of the purest gold: he allowed six hundred sicles of gold for the plates of one shield.
17 And three hundred targets of fine gold: three hundred pounds of gold covered one target: and the king put them in the house of the forest of Libanus.
18 King Solomon also made a great throne of ivory: and overlaid it with the finest gold.
19 It had six steps: and the top of the throne was round behind: and there were two hands on either side holding the seat: and two lions stood, one at each hand.
20 And twelve little lions stood upon the six steps, on the one side and on the other: there was no such work made in any kingdom.
21 Moreover, all the vessels out of which king Solomon drank, were of gold: and all the furniture of the house of the forest of Libanus was of most pure gold: there was no silver, nor was any account made of it in the days of Solomon:
22 For the king’s navy, once in three years, went with the navy of Hiram by sea to Tharsis, and brought from thence gold, and silver, and elephants’ teeth, and apes, and peacocks.
23 And king Solomon exceeded all the kings of the earth in riches and wisdom.
24 And all the earth desired to see Solomon’s face, to hear his wisdom, which God had given in his heart.
25 And every one brought him presents, vessels of silver and of gold, garments, and armour, and spices, and horses, and mules, every year.
26 *And Solomon gathered together chariots and horsemen, and he had a thousand four hundred chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen: and he bestowed them in fenced cities, and with the king in Jerusalem.
27 And he made silver to be as plentiful in Jerusalem as stones: and cedars to be as common as sycamores which grow in the plains.
28 And horses were brought for Solomon out of Egypt, and Coa: for the king’s merchants brought them out of Coa, and bought them at a set price.
29 And a chariot of four horses came out of Egypt, for six hundred sicles of silver, and a horse for a hundred and fifty. And after this manner did all the kings of the Hethites, and of Syria, sell horses.
1: 2 Paralipomenon ix. 1.; Matthew xii. 42.; Luke xi. 31.
10: 2 Paralipomenon ix. 9.
11: 2 Paralipomenon ix. 10.
26: 2 Paralipomenon i. 14.