1 Kings Chapter 4  PDF  MSWord

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Go to Bible: 1 Kings 4
1Ki 4:1

“over all Israel.” Thus emphasizing the centralized government of Israel as it moves out of a more tribal mentality.

1Ki 4:2(top)
1Ki 4:3(top)
1Ki 4:4(top)
1Ki 4:5(top)
1Ki 4:6

“Over the House.” This is a title. The king’s “house” was the palace, so the Hebrew phrase could also be translated “Over the Palace,” but “house” is more literal. Here in 1 Kings 4:6, Ahishar was the man who was the administrator over the palace of King Solomon and oversaw what went on there. The title “Over the House” also occurs in 1 Kings 4:6; 16:9; 2 Kings 10:5, 15:5; 18:18, 37; 19:2; Isaiah 22:15; 36:3, 22; and 37:2. Although the person who was “Over the House” changed, the title lasted year after year. For example, Ahishar was the one who was “Over the House” during the reign of Solomon (c. 975 BC). and Shebna and then Eliakim were “Over the House” during the reign of King Hezekiah of Judah (c. 725), some 250 years later. “Arza” was Over the House in the reign of King Elah of Israel (c. 895; 1 Kings 16:9).

The king would be too busy to oversee the palace staff and what was going on in the palace, as well as special events that were held there, and besides, the king was often gone, so the kingdoms of Israel and Judah had an administrator called “Over the House” to be in charge of the things that occurred in the palace. The office of “Over the House” was powerful and could be abused, and during the reign of Hezekiah, Shebna abused the office and was removed and replaced with Eliakim (Isa. 22:15-21). The evidence is that there was also an administrator who was referred to as “Over the City,” basically the mayor of the city (2 Kings 10:5).

1Ki 4:7(top)
1Ki 4:8(top)
1Ki 4:9

“Ben-deker in Makaz and in Shaalbim and Beth-shemesh and Elon-beth-hanan.” These cities are in the original tribal location of Dan, before the Danites moved north. The locations of Makaz and Elon-beth-hanan are unknown.

1Ki 4:10

”Arubboth.” The location of Arubboth is unknown, but Socoh and “the land of Hepher” (cp. Josh. 12:17) are in the territory of Judah. Thus it is very likely that the section that Ben-hesed was over was in Judah.

1Ki 4:11

“all the height of Dor.” Ben-abinadab had the section around Dor, a city on the Mediterranean coastal plain south of Mount Carmel.

1Ki 4:12

“below Jezreel.” That is, lower in elevation; closer to the Jordan River valley.

1Ki 4:13

“bars.” The “bars” were strong beams that were placed behind the doors so they could not be opened and could withstand pounding from the outside without giving way. Those bars were the origin of the shout “Bar the doors!” when an enemy would approach.

1Ki 4:14(top)
1Ki 4:15(top)
1Ki 4:16

“Bealoth.” The name occurs in Josh. 15:24. The reading “Bealoth” is disputed.

1Ki 4:17(top)
1Ki 4:18(top)
1Ki 4:19

“the land of ….” The verse is problematic. The Septuagint adds Judah, which could have been dropped. It is hard to imagine Solomon’s officers being over “all Israel” but omitting Judah, and that surely would have caused bad feelings between the tribes if everyone but the Judeans had to provide for Solomon’s household. On the other hand, as the text now stands there are 12 officers, and if you add one there will be 13.

1Ki 4:20

“Judah and Israel were as many as the sand that is by the sea in abundance.” God made good on his promise to Abraham and Jacob about how numerous their descendants would be (Gen. 22:17; 32:12).

“eating and drinking and rejoicing.” Here in 1 Kings 4:20, “ate and drank” is used idiomatically as a kind of polarmerismos to express living life in general. The text could have said more literally, “the people lived their lives and were happy.” (Polarmerismos occurs when two extremes are used to represent a whole, such as in the southern expression, “that is the long and short of it,” meaning, “that is all there is.” We see the same figure in 1 Kings 3:7).

[See word study on “merismos.”]

1Ki 4:21

“the River.” The Euphrates, but this is the upper Euphrates in Syria.

“the border of Egypt.” Most likely the Wadi el-arish in the Sinai.

1Ki 4:22

“30 cors.” The records of biblical weights and measures (especially measures) are not exactly known and somewhat disputed. At best we have rough estimates (estimates of the size of a cor range from 3.8 to 6.5 bushels, a huge difference, although the measure near 6 bushels seems to be more accurate; a bushel is about 9 gallons, or 36 quarts, or 34 liters). The evidence is that a “cor” is a very large measure and contained about 6 bushels (or about 54 gallons (205 liters). According to Ezekiel 45:14, the cor equaled the homer (and the word “homer” apparently referred to a donkey’s load). If a cor was about 54 gallons, then 30 cors is in the neighborhood of 1,620 gallons, so 1,620 gallons (6,132 liters) of fine flour. Similarly, then, “60 cors of flour” would be about 3,240 gallons of flour (12,264 liters). So the grain provided to Solomon for one day was about 4,860 gallons of grain (18,397 liters). It has been estimated that this amount of flour and grain could feed something like 20,000 people (although estimates range widely, for example, from 14,000 to 22,000 people). It is extremely unlikely that all these people were in Jerusalem. Solomon had staff and wives all over his kingdom that would have needed to be supported.

Thus, in a biblical lunar calendar year, which was 354 days, Solomon would provide 31,860 cor of grain for his household. Interestingly, according to 1 Kings 5:11, Solomon also provided 20,000 cor of wheat to Hiram king of Tyre for his household for a year. Given that the Israelite lunar year was 354 days, that would mean that Solomon provided about 56.5 cors of wheat per day to Hiram, quite a bit less than the 90 cors of grain he provided each day for his own household and extended kingdom staff.

1Ki 4:23(top)
1Ki 4:24(top)
1Ki 4:25

“every man under his vine and under his fig tree.” Saying that people were under their vine and fig tree was an idiomatic way of saying that people lived in peace and safety, and enjoyed abundance in their lives (see commentary on Mic. 4:4).

1Ki 4:26

“40,000 stalls of horses.” This is in disobedience to the Law (cp. Deut. 17:16).

1Ki 4:27(top)
1Ki 4:28

“hay.” Although most versions read “straw,” typically straw was not fed to horses, but “hay,” which included the grain and the stalk, was.

1Ki 4:29

“depth of knowledge as vast as the sand on the seashore.” The Hebrew text is more literally, “width of heart like the sand that is on the edge of the sea.” Here in 1 Kings 4:29, “heart” refers to the contents of the mind, i.e., “knowledge,” and not what “heart” often means in the English spoken on the street, where “heart” often means more like “resolution,” or “courage,” or “character.”

[For more information on “heart,” see commentary on Proverbs 15:21.]

1Ki 4:30

“the Sons of the East and all the wisdom of Egypt.” The Sons of the East would be the Assyrians and Babylonians, and perhaps the Arabs, those ancient eastern cultures, and Egypt was the wisdom of the West.

1Ki 4:31

“Ethan the Ezrahite.” Ethan wrote Psalm 89.

1Ki 4:32(top)
1Ki 4:33(top)
1Ki 4:34(top)

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