and fetched from thence gold four hundred and twenty talents, and brought it to King Solomon; which according to Brerewood (s) amounted to 1,890,000 pounds of our money; and according to another writer (t) 5,132,400 ducats of gold. Abarbinel says a talent of gold was equal to 12,300 Venetian ducats; in 2 Chronicles 8:18 it is said, that four hundred and fifty talents of gold were brought to Solomon; perhaps thirty might be expended in the voyage, or paid to Hiram's servants for their wages, as some Jewish writers observe; or in the bulk or ore it might be four hundred and fifty talents, but when purified only four hundred and twenty, as Grotius remarks; either way removes the difficulty; though some think different voyages are respected here and there; of the gold of Ophir frequent mention is made in Scripture.
(k) Erasm. Schmid. de America, orat. ad Cale. Pindar. p. 261. So some Jewish writers say it is the new world, Ganz. Tzemach David, par. 1. fol. 10. 1.((l) P. Martyr Decad. 1. l. 1.((m) Harris's Voyages, ut supra. (vol. 1. B. 1. ch. 2. sect. 3. p. 377.) (n) Ut supra. (Antiqu. l. 8. c. 6. sect. 4.) (o) China Illustrat. cum Monument. p. 58. & Prodrom. Copt. c. 4. p. 119. (p) Comment. de Ophyra. (q) Dampier's Voyages, vol. 2. ch. 7. (r) Dissert. de Ophir, sect. 6, 7. (s) De Ponder. & Pret. c. 5. (t) Scheuchzer. Physic. Sacr. vol. 3. p. 572.
INTRODUCTION TO 1 Kings 10
This chapter contains an account of the queen of Sheba's visit to King Solomon to her great satisfaction, 1 Kings 10:1, of Solomon's merchandise and riches, and the magnificence of his court, 1 Kings 10:14, of the rich presents sent to him, and of the purchase of chariots and horses, and other things, he made, 1 Kings 10:24.
concerning the name of the Lord; his knowledge of the true God, the favour he was in with him, the excellent wisdom he had received from him, and what he had done for his honour and glory:
she came to prove him with hard questions; in things natural, civil, and divine; to try whether he had such a share of knowledge and wisdom it was said he had, she posed him with enigmas, riddles, dark and intricate sayings, to unravel and tell the meaning of. She might be an emblem of the Gentiles, seeking unto Christ, having heard of him, Isaiah 11:10. In Matthew 12:42 she is said to come from the "uttermost parts of the earth"; wherefore some fetch her from Sumatra in the East Indies, where in an old map no other name is put but Sheba (e).
(u) Antiqu. l. 8. c. 6. sect. 2, 5. (w) Ludolf. Ethiop. Hist. l. 2. c. 3.((x) Clim 1. par. 6. (y) Vid. Coryli Disser. de Reg. Austral. c. l. sect. 1, 2.((z) Phocica, sive, l. 10. p. 631. (a) Hist. Eccl. l. 3. c. 4. (b) Itinerar. p. 82. (c) Abulpharag. Hist. Dynast. Dyn. 3. p. 54. (d) Tellezius apud Ludolf. Ethiop. Hist. l. 2. c. 3.((e) Dampier's Voyages, vol. 2. p. 139.
with camels that bare spices; her country abounded both with camels and spices; See Gill on Isaiah 60:6; see Gill on Jeremiah 6:20, and as Pliny (f) observes, who says their spices used to be carried on camels, particularly frankincense, for which Sheba was famous, and is therefore called by him "regio thurifera", the frankincense country (g), being to be had nowhere else; and Strabo (h) speaks of "cinamon, cassia", and other spices here in such plenty, that the inhabitants burnt the wood of them for fuel; and Diodorus Siculus (i) represents this country as exceeding odoriferous, and as having besides the above spices, balsam, myrrh, calamus, costus, and others, in such abundance that they heated their ovens with them:
and very much gold; see 1 Kings 10:10, the gold of Sheba is spoken of in Psalm 72:15 and Pliny (k) observes, that the Sabeans are exceeding rich, as in other things, so in gold; and Diodorus Siculus (l) and Strabo (m) speak of gold found here in large lumps, very pure, and of a fine colour:
and precious stones; as crystals, emeralds, beryls, and chrysolites, mentioned by Diodorus (n) as in those parts; and a late traveller says (o), that Arabia Felix abounds with balsam, myrrh, cassia, manna, dates, gold, frankincense, and pearl:
and when she was come to Solomon; unto his palace, and admitted into his presence:
she communed with him of all that was in her heart; which she had in her mind to discourse with him about, and which she had laid up in her memory for that purpose; and some things which she had kept to herself, and had never imparted to any before, as some think; all which she had full liberty from Solomon to propound unto him.
(f) Nat. Hist. l. 12. c. 14. (g) Ibid. "----Molles sua thura Sabaei", Virg. Georg l. 1. v. 57. & l. 2. v. 117. Thurilegos Arabes, Ovid. Fast. l. 4. Vid. Plant. Trinum. Acts 4. Sc. 2. v. 89. (h) Geograph. l. 16. p. 535. (i) Bibliothec. l. 2. p. 132. (k) Nat. Hist. l. 6. c. 28. (l) Ut supra, (Bibliothec. l. 2.) p. 133. l. 3. p. 181. (m) Ut supra. (Geograph. l. 16. p. 535.) (n) Ut supra, (Bibliothec. l. 2.) p. 134. & l. 3. p. 181. (o) Ovington's Voyage to Surat, p. 421.
there was not anything hid from the king, which he told her not; there was not anything, though ever so abstruse and difficult, but what he understood, and gave her a clear and plain solution of.
and the house that he had built; the singular for the plural, "house for houses"; the house of the Lord, his own house, that for Pharaoh's daughter, and the house of the forest of Lebanon; in all which there appeared not only surprising grandeur and magnificence, but exquisite art and skill; there was a great display of his wisdom in the form and contrivance of them. Josephus (p) says, what exceedingly surprised her, and raised her admiration, was the house of the forest of Lebanon.
(p) Antiqu. l. 8. c. 6. sect. 5.
and the sitting of his servants; at table, either with him, or at tables by themselves, yet in his presence; for these were his nobles and courtiers, who were placed in order, according to their rank and degree, which showed wisdom:
and the attendance of his ministers; or the "standing" (q) of those that waited, both at the king's table, and the tables of the lords, who each had their proper place and business assigned; so that the utmost decorum was observed, and no confusion or disorder to be seen:
and their apparel: their several liveries, which were distinct according to the posts and offices in which they were, and which no doubt were rich and splendid, as well as various:
and his cup bearers; to serve him and his nobles with wine when called for; though the word signifies liquors (r), and may design the various sorts of wines, and other drinkables, used by him, of which there was great plenty:
and his ascent by which he went up unto the house of the Lord; the steps which he had made to go up from his palace to the temple; which were so curiously devised, and so artificially wrought, that it gave the queen, among other things, a sensible proof of his great wisdom, as well as of his religion and piety. The Septuagint, Vulgate Latin, Syriac, and Arabic versions, and some others, render the words, "and the burnt offerings which he offered in the house of the Lord"; and so Josephus (s) understood them; she was shown the service of the house of the Lord, as much as could be admitted, and perhaps was told the meaning of it; all which she saw, both in his own house, and in the house of God, and greatly surprised her:
so that there was no more spirit in her; she was quite astonished; like one in an ecstasy, she had no power for a time to speak, what she saw and heard so affected her.
(q) "statum", Tigurine version, Vatablus, Junius & Tremellius; "stationem", Piscator. (r) "et potum ejus", Tig. vers. so Abarbinel (s) Ut supra. (Antiqu. l. 8. c. 6. sect. 5.)
it was a true report that I heard in mine own land of thy acts and of thy wisdom; which she was ready to call in question when she first heard it; at least she thought it was greatly exaggerated, but now she found it was strictly true.
and, behold, the half was not told me; of what she now saw and heard:
thy wisdom and prosperity exceedeth the fame which I heard; the inward endowments of his mind, and the outward magnificence of his court, exceeded the relation of them to her; they were beyond expression, they were so great that reporters could not hyperbolize upon them, nor even come up to them in their account of them, and in which yet men are apt to exceed.
happy are these thy servants, which stand continually before thee, and hear thy wisdom; who were now present, and to whom she pointed, and may respect not his nobles and courtiers only, but his menial servants, who had an opportunity of often hearing the wise sayings which dropped from his lips; and which no doubt were means of greatly improving their knowledge and understanding in things natural and divine.
which delighted in thee, to set thee on the throne of Israel; loved him with a love of complacency and delight, was Jedidiah, as he called him, beloved of the Lord, and therefore he chose him and preferred him to be king before his elder brother:
because the Lord loved Israel for ever; to establish them as a kingdom for ever as they were, so long as obedient to him; see 2 Chronicles 9:8,
therefore made he thee king, to do judgment and justice; not merely for the sake of honour and glory, much less to indulge to pleasure and luxury, and still less to oppression and tyranny; but to administer justice and judgment to the people, which is the principal end of government; see Psalm 72:1.
and of spices very great store, and precious stones; see 1 Kings 10:2 there came no more such abundance of spices as these which the queen of Sheba gave to King Solomon; that is, into Judea. Josephus reports (t), that some say that the balsamic plant, which Judea was afterwards so famous for, was brought by this queen, and a gift of hers to Solomon; and Diodorus Siculus (u) speaks of it as in Arabia, and not to be found in any other part of the world.
(t) Ut supra, (Antiqu. l. 8. c. 6.) sect. 6. (u) Bibliotec. l. 2. p. 132.
brought in from Ophir great plenty of almug trees: or algum trees, by transposition of letters, 2 Chronicles 9:10, which some of the Jewish writers (b) take to be coral, which is not likely; others Brasil, rather ebony, which was peculiar to India, as both Solinus (c) and Virgil (d) say; Strabo (e) makes mention of strange trees in India:
and precious stones; of which there is great variety and plenty in that country, as related by Dionysius (f), as diamonds, beryls, jaspers, topazes, and amethysts, and by Curtius (g), Solinus (h), and others.
(w) Bibliothec. l. 1. p. 121. (x) Geograph l. 15. p. 481. (y) Perieg. v. 1144. (z) Hist. l. 8. sect. 9. (a) Nat. Hist. 1. 6. c. 19, 20. (b) Daved de Pomis, Lexic. fol. 70. 3.((c) Polyhistor. c. 64. (d) "Sola India nigrum fert ebenum." Georgie. l. 2. ver. 116, 117. (e) Geograph. l. 15. p. 477. (f) Perieget, ver. 1119, &c. (g) Hist. l. 8. c. 9. (h) Polyhistor. c. 65.
harps also, and psalteries for singers; these musical instruments were made of the same wood; Josephus (i) says of amber, and that their number was 400,000:
there came no such almug trees, nor were seen unto this day; not in the land of Israel, neither before nor since, see 2 Chronicles 9:11.
(i) Antiqu. l. 8. c. 3. sect. 8.
whatsoever she asked,.... Some curious things she saw, and was desirous of, she asked for, and had them:
besides that which Solomon gave her of his royal bounty; of his own good will and pleasure, without asking:
so she turned and went to her own country: the country of Sheba in Arabia Felix:
she and her sergeants: the train or retinue she brought with her, which was large, 1 Kings 10:2.
(k) De Ponder. & Pret. c. 5. (l) Scheuchzer. Physic. Sacr. vol. 3. p. 580.
and of all the kings of Arabia; who were subject to him, and paid him a yearly tribute, or at least made presents, see 1 Kings 4:21.
and of the governors of the country; who were viceroys or deputy governors of countries conquered by his father, and who collected tribute from the people, and paid it to him.
six hundred shekels of gold went to one target; which is to be understood not of the weight, but of the price or value of them, which amounted to four hundred and fifty pounds of our money; so Brerewood (n).
(m) Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 35. 3.((n) Ut supra. (De Ponder. & Pret. c. 5.)
three pounds of gold went to one shield; or three hundred shekels, as in 2 Chronicles 9:16 a hundred shekels made one pound; so that these were but half the value of the former, and one of them was worth but two hundred and twenty five pounds: Eupolemus (o), an Heathen writer, makes mention of those golden shields Solomon made, and which were made for show, and not for war, as follows:
and the king put them in the house of the forest of Lebanon; one part of which was made an armoury of, see Sol 4:4.
(o) Apud Euseb. Praepar. Evangel. l. 9. c. 34.
and overlaid it with the best gold; for the greater splendour and majesty of it; not that he covered it all over, for then the ivory would not be seen, but interlined it, or studded it with it, whereby it appeared the more beautiful and magnificent. Such a throne of gold and ivory was decreed to Caesar by the Romans (p).
(p) Appian. Alex. l. 2.
and the top of the throne was round behind; had a semicircle at the top of it, like an alcove:
and there were stays on either side on the place of the seat; or "hands" (q), such as the arms of a chair, to lean and rest upon:
and two lions stood beside the stays; which were not only ornamental, and for support of the stays, but expressive of majesty, and of undaunted courage and resolution to do justice, and of the danger such expose themselves to, who oppose magistrates in the discharge of their office; and in which Solomon was a type of Christ, the lion of the tribe of Judah; and for the same reasons were the like portraits on the steps, as follows.
(q) "manus", V. L. Montanus, &c. "brachiola", Sept. in 2 Chron. 18.
there was not the like made in any kingdom; for the matter and form of it, for its grandeur and magnificence; there was none at least at that time, whatever has been since; for this is the first throne of ivory we read of.
(r) Hori Apoll. Hieroglyph, l. 1. c. 17.
and all the vessels of the forest of Lebanon were of pure gold; not only what were used in his palace at Jerusalem, but in his country house at some little distance:
none were of silver; it was nothing accounted of in the days of Solomon; to make plate of; or silver plate was but little esteemed, and scarce any use of it made in Solomon's palace, if at all: though doubtless it was elsewhere, and especially silver as money.
once in three years came the navy of Tharshish; it returned in such a space of time; navigation not being improved as now, and sailing by coasts, and what with their stay abroad to sell and purchase goods, and to refit their ships, as well as sometimes contrary winds, they were so long in performing this voyage, which is now done in a few months:
bringing gold and silver; so that silver was accounted of, and used for some purposes, though not for the king's plate:
ivory, and apes, and peacocks; ivory is the elephant's tooth, as the word signifies; some of those are of an almost incredible size; some are said to be of ninety, others one hundred and twenty five pounds weight; Vartomannus (y) says, he saw in Sumatra, where some place Ophir, one that weighed three hundred and thirty pounds; though, according to the Ethiopians (z) the ivory is from the horns; and so say (a) Pausanias and others, see Ezekiel 27:15 but it is commonly supposed to be of the two teeth in the upper jaw that stands out; and whether they are called horns or teeth, they are the same of which ivory is: of elephants there were large numbers in India, bigger and stronger than those in Africa; which latter were afraid of the former, as Diodorus Siculus (b), Curtius (c), and Pliny (d) relate; so Virgil (e) speaks of ivory as fetched from India and Horace (f) also, which must be East India, for there are no ivory nor apes in the West Indies (g): "apes" or "monkeys" were then, as now, brought from those parts. Strabo (h) reports, that when the Macedonians under Alexander were there, such a vast number of them came out of the woods, and placed themselves on the open hills, that they took them for an army of men set in battle array to fight them. Vartomannus (i) speaks of monkeys in the country of Calecut, of a very small price: near Surat apes are in great esteem, nor will they suffer them to be killed on any account (k). There are various sorts of apes, some more like to goats, others to dogs, others to lions, and some to other animals, as Philostorgius (l) relates; and who also says the sphinx is one sort of them, and which he describes on his own sight of it as resembling mankind in many things, and as a very subtle animal; and so Solinus (m) reckons such among apes; but what come nearest in name and sound to the "kuphim" of Solomon here are those Pliny (n) calls "cephi", whose fore feet he says are like the hands of men, and their hinder feet like the feet and thighs of men; and Strabo (o) describes a creature found in Ethiopia, called by him "ceipus" or "cepus", which has a face like a satyr, and the rest of it is between a dog and a bear. There is a creature called "cebus" by Aristotle (p), and is described as having a tail, and all the rest like a man; according to Ludolf (q), "cephus" is the "orangoutang" of the Indians. The word for peacocks should rather be rendered "parrots", so Junius; which are well known to come from India (r), and from thence only, according to Pausanias (s); Vartomannus (t) says, that at Calecut there are parrots of sundry colours, as green and purple, and others of mixed colours, and such a multitude of them, that men are appointed to keep them from the rice in the fields, as we keep crows from corn; and that they are of a small price, one is sold for two pence, or half a souse; and the number of them may be accounted for, because the Brachmans, the priests, reckon them sacred, and therefore the Indians eat them not (u). Curtius (w) designs these, when he says, in India are birds, which are taught to imitate man's voice; and Solinus (x) says, that India only produces the green parrot, that is, the East Indies, the West Indies not being then discovered; though some (y) think they were, and that it was thither Solomon's navy went: certain it is there are parrots of various colours in the West Indies, which P. Martyr of Angleria frequently makes mention of in his Decades. Huetius (z) derives the Hebrew word here used from which he says signifies to "join" or "adhere" to anything, as these birds will; cling to, and hang by their bills and nails on a branch of a tree, &c. so that they are not easily separated from it; the word is used in Deuteronomy 33:3 and, according to some, in this sense. But, after all, if it should be insisted on, as it is by many, that "peacocks" are meant, these also are found in India. Alexander the great first saw them in this country, which so amazed him, that he threatened to punish those severely that should kill any of them (a). Vartomannus (b) makes mention of them as in great numbers in some parts of India; and they are caught and sold at an easy rate at Surat (c), and make part both of their game, and of their grand entertainments (d); Aeianus (e) often speaks of them as in India in great numbers, and in great esteem.
(s) Geograph. l. 3. p. 104. (t) De Situ Orbis, l. 2. c. 6. (u) Hist. l. 1. in principio. (w) Comment. in Jesaiam, c. 23. 1.((x) Antiqu. l. 8. c. 7. sect. 2.((y) Navigat. l. 6. c. 22. (z) Ludolf. Ethiop. Hist. l. 1. c. 10. (a) Eliac. 1. p. 308, 309. Vid. Plin. l. 8. c. 3. Aelian. Hist. Animal. l. 4. c. 21. & 7. 2. & 11. 37. & 14. 5. Varro apud Schindler. Lexic Pentaglott. col. 1905. (b) Bibliothec. l. 2. p. 121. So Polybius, Hist. l. 5. (c) Hist. l. 8. c. 9. (d) Nat. Hist. l. 8. c. 9. (e) "India mittit ebur". Georgic. l. 1. ver. 57. (f) "---Non aurum et ebur Indicum". Carmin. l. 1. Ode 31. Manetho. Apotelesm. ver. 297. & l. 4. ver. 149. Philo. de Praemiis, p. 924. (g) Manasseh Spes Israelis, sect. 2. p. 21. Ortel. Thesaur. Geograh. Varrerius de Ophyra. (h) Geograph. l. 15. p. 480. (i) Navigat. l. 5. c. 20. (k) Ovington's Voyage to Sarat, p. 360, 361, 596. (l) Eccl. Hist. l. 3. c. 11. (m) Polyhist. c. 40. (n) Nat. Hist. l. 8. c. 19. (o) Ut supra, (Geograph.) l. 17. p. 559. (p) Hist. Animal. l. 2. c. 8, 9. (q) Ethiop. Hist. l. 1. c. 10. (r) Aelian. de Animal. l. 16. c. 2. "Psittacus eois ales mihi missus ab India". Ovid. Amor. l. 2. Eleg. 6. (s) Corinthiaca, sive, l. 2. p. 136. (t) Ut supra. (Navigat. l. 5. c. 20.) (u) Aelian de Animal. l. 13. c. 18. (w) Ut supra. (Hist. l. 8. c. 9.) (x) Polyhistor. c. 65. (y) Erasm. Schmid. de America Orat. ad. Calc. Pindari, p. 261. Vatablus in loc. & in c. 9. 28. Hornius de Gent. Americ. l. 2. c. 6, 7, 8. (z) De Navigat. Solomon. c. 7. sect. 6. (a) Aelian. ut supra, (de Animal. l. 16. c. 2.) & l. 5. c. 21. Curtii Hist. l. 9. c. 1.((b) Navigat. l. 6. c. 7. (c) Ovington's Voyage to Surat, p. 268, 269. (d) lbid. p. 398. (e) De Animal. l. 11. c. 33. & l. 13, 18. & l. 16. c. 2.
vessels of silver, and vessels of gold, and garments, and armour, and spices, and horses, and mules, a rate year by year; everyone brought according to the commodities of his country; and they did yearly, out of great respect to him, and in veneration of him for his wisdom, and for the advantages they received by his wise counsels and instructions; besides, it was the custom of the eastern countries not to pay a visit, especially to great personages, without carrying a present.
and he had one thousand and four hundred chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen; of the latter See Gill on 1 Kings 4:26.
whom he bestowed in the cities for chariots, and with the king at Jerusalem; some of the horsemen were quartered in the cities where the chariots were placed, and some of them in Jerusalem, to be near the king's person, and to be a guard to him on occasion. Josephus (f) says, half of them were in Jerusalem about the king, and the rest were dispersed through the king's villages.
(f) Antiqu l. 8. c. 2. sect. 4.
and cedars made he to be as the sycamore trees that are the vale for abundance; not by the growth of them, but by the importation of them from the dominion of Hiram; this is said in the same figurative way; of the sycamore trees, Rauwolff says (g), they are what the Moors and Arabians calls "mumeitz"; which he describes to be as large and as high as white mulberry trees, and having almost the same leaves, but rounder, and their fruit not unlike our figs, only sweeter, and no little seeds within, and not so good; and are therefore not esteemed, and are commonly sold to the poorer sort, and that they grow in all fields and grounds; of which See Gill on Amos 7:14.
(g) Travels, par. 1. c. 4. p. 37.
and linen yarn; the king's merchants received the linen yarn at a price; or rather linen itself; or linen garments, as Ben Gersom; linen being the staple commodity of Egypt, see Isaiah 19:9, but no mention is made of yarn in 2 Chronicles 9:28, and the word rendered "linen yarn" signifies a confluence or collection of waters and other things; and the words may be rendered, "as for the collection, the king's merchants received the collection at a price"; that is, the collection of horses, a large number of them got together for sale; these they took at a price set upon them (h), which is as follows.
(h) Vid. Braunium de Vest. Sacerdot. Heb. l. 1. c. 8. sect. 9, 10, 11.