1 Kings 10:14 MEANING



1 Kings 10:14
(14) Talents.--The word properly signifies a "circle," or "globe," and the talent (among the Hebrews and other Orientals, as among the Greeks) denoted properly a certain weight. (a) The ordinary talent of gold contained 100 "manehs," or "portions" (the Greek mna, or mina), and each maneh (as is seen by comparing 1 Kings 10:17 with 2 Chronicles 9:16) contained 100 shekels of gold. According to Josephus (Ant. xiv. 7, 1), each maneh contained 2 Roman pounds, and the talent, therefore, 250 Roman pounds, or 1,262,500 grains; and this agrees fairly with his computation elsewhere (Ant. iii. 8, 10), that the gold shekel was equivalent to the daric, which is about 129 grains. (See Dictionary of the Bible: "WEIGHTS AND MEASURES.") According to this calculation, 666 talents would give a weight of gold now worth 7,780,000. (b) On the other hand, the talent of silver is expressly given (by comparison of Exodus 30:13-15; Exodus 38:25-28) at 3,000 "shekels of the sanctuary," and such a shekel appears, by the extant Maccabaean coins, to be about 220 grains. Of such talents, 666 would give a little more than half the former weight; hence, if the talent of gold here be supposed to be in weight the same as the talent of silver, the whole would give a weight of gold now worth about 4,000,000. Considering that this is expressly stated to be independent of certain customs and tributes, the smaller sum seems more probable; in any case, the amount is surprisingly large. But it should be remembered that at certain times and places accumulations of gold have taken place, so great as practically to reduce its value, and lead to its employment, not as a currency, but as a precious ornament. Making all allowance for exaggeration, this must have been the case among the Mexicans and Peruvians before the Spanish conquests. It is not improbable that the same may have occurred in the time of Solomon.

Verse 14. - Now the weight of gold that came to Solomon in one year [probably one particular and exceptional year, probably also the year of the queen's visit, not year by year (Wordsworth, al.), as the Vulgate (per singulos annos). One fleet only came home from its voyage after three years, and the gold would hardly weigh precisely 666 talents year by year] was six hundred threescore and six talents of gold. [The correspondence with the number of the Beast (Revelation 13:18; cf. Ezra 2:13) is in all probability not altogether accidental. It is possible, i.e., that the number of the beast is a reminiscence of this number of talents. For we may surely see in this statement of Solomon's prodigious wealth an indication of his worldliness, the turning point, perhaps, in his estrangement from God. "The love of money" may have been the root of all his evil. It is certainly remarkable that from this time forward his career is one of steady declension. It is also remarkable that while he is here represented to us as a "royal merchant," the mark of the beast is on the buyers and sellers (Revelation 13:17). But see "Expositor," May, 1881. It is, of course, possible that the number has been corrupted, but, on the other hand, it may have been recorded, partly because of the singularity of the sum total. The 666 talents include the receipts from all sources - taxes, tribute, and voyages - with the exception made presently (ver. 15). Rawlinson quotes Keil (in his earlier edition) as estimating this amount at £3,646,350. But in his later work, Keil puts it in round numbers at two and a half millions (17,000,000 thalers), while Mr. Peele calculates it at about £8,000,000. These widely varying figures are instructive, as showing that both estimates are little more than guesswork. We do not know the value of the Hebrew talent, nor, indeed, can it ever be rightly appraised until we know its purchasing power. The denarius, e.g., is generally valued at 8½ d. (or 7½ d.) because it contained some 58 grains of pure silver but its real value was nearer three shillings, inasmuch as it was a fair wage for a day's work on the land (Matthew 20:2). In any case, it is clear that this sum should hardly be compared with the annual revenue of other Oriental empires, as by Rawlinson (see above).

10:14-29 Solomon increased his wealth. Silver was nothing accounted of. Such is the nature of worldly wealth, plenty of it makes it the less valuable; much more should the enjoyment of spiritual riches lessen our esteem of all earthly possessions. If gold in abundance makes silver to be despised, shall not wisdom, and grace, and the foretastes of heaven, which are far better than gold, make gold to be lightly esteemed? See in Solomon's greatness the performance of God's promise, and let it encourage us to seek first the righteousness of God's kingdom. This was he, who, having tasted all earthly enjoyments, wrote a book, to show the vanity of all worldly things, the vexation of spirit that attends them, and the folly of setting our hearts upon them: and to recommend serious godliness, as that which will do unspeakably more to make us happy, that all the wealth and power he was master of; and, through the grace of God, it is within our reach.Now the weight of gold that came to Solomon in one year was six hundred and sixty and six talents of gold. From Ophir and Tarshish, and wherever he traded; which was of our money, according to Berewood (k), 2,997,000 pounds; or as another learned man (l), who makes it equal to 5,138,520 ducats of gold.

(k) De Ponder. & Pret. c. 5. (l) Scheuchzer. Physic. Sacr. vol. 3. p. 580.

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