1 Kings 5:6 MEANING

1 Kings 5:6
(6) Cedar trees out of Lebanon.--The central range of Lebanon is bare; but in the lower ranges there is still--probably in old times there was to a far greater extent--a rich abundance of timber, specially precious to the comparatively treeless country of Palestine. The forest of Lebanon was proverbial for its beauty and fragrance (Song of Solomon 4:11; Hosea 14:6-7), watered by the streams from the snowy heights (Jeremiah 18:14), when all Palestine was parched up. The cedars which now remain--a mere group, at a height of about six thousand feet--are but a remnant of the once magnificent forest which "the Lord had planted" (Psalm 104:16). Solomon's request--couched almost in the language of command--is simply for cedar wood, or rather, for skilled labour in felling and working it, for which the Tyrians were proverbially famed in all ancient records. For this labour he offers to pay; while he seems to take for granted a right for his own servants to come and bring away the timber itself. Hiram's answer (1 Kings 5:8) mentions "timber of fir" also, which agrees exactly with the fuller account of Solomon's request given in 2 Chronicles 2:8. The pine still grows abundantly in the sandstone regions of Lebanon; but it is almost certain that "the fir" here named is the cypress.

Verse 6. - Now therefore command thou that they hew me cedar trees out of Lebanon [Heb. the Lebanon, i.e., the White (so. mountain). "It is the Merit Blanc of Palestine" (Porter); but whether it is so called because of its summits of snow or because of the colour of its limestone is uncertain. Practically, the cedars are now found in one place only, though Ehrenberg is said to have found them in considerable numbers to the north of the road between Baalbek and Tripoli. "At the head of Wady Kadisha there is a vast recess in the central ridge of Lebanon, some eight miles in diameter. Above it rise the loftiest summits in Syria, streaked with perpetual snow... In the very centre of this recess, on a little irregular knoll, stands the clump of cedars" (Ibid., Handbook, 2 p. 584), over 6,000 feet above the level of the sea. It would seem as if that part of Lebanon where the cedars grew belonged to Hiram's dominion. "The northern frontier of Canaan did not reach as far as Bjerrsh" (Keil), where the cedar grove is now. The idea of some older writers that the cedars belonged to Solomon, and that he only asked Hiram for artificers ("that they hew me cedar trees," etc.) is negatived by ver. 10. It is true that "all Lebanon" was given to Israel (Joshua 13:5), but they did not take it. They did not drive out the Zidonians (ver. 6; Judges 1:31) or possess" the land of the Giblites" (ver. 5; Judges 3:3). It should be stated here, however, that the cedar of Scripture probably included other varieties than that which now, alone bears the name (see on ver. 8)], and my servants shall be with Shy servants [i.e., sharing and lightening the work]: and unto thee will I give hire for thy servants [Solomon engaged to pay and did pay both Hiram and his subjects for the services of the latter, and he paid both in kind. See below, on ver. 11] according to all that thou shalt appoint [This would seem to have been 20,000 measures of wheat and 20 measures of pure oil annually, ver. 11]: for thou knowest that there is not among us any that can skill [Heb. knoweth, same word as before] to hew timber like unto the Zidonlans [Propter vicina nemora. Grotius, Sidou (Heb. צִידון), means "fishing." See note on ver. 18. By profane, as well as sacred writers, the Phoenicians are often described by the name Zidonians, no doubt for the reason mentioned in the note on ver. 1. See Homer, Iliad 6:290; 23. 743; Odys. 4:84, 618; 17:4.24. Cf. Virg. AEn. 1. 677, 678; 4:545, etc. Genesis 10:15; Judges 1:31; Judges 3:3; 1 Kings 11:1, 33, etc. "The mechanical skill of the Phoenicians generally, and of the Zidonians in particular, is noticed by many ancient writers," Rawlinson, who cites instances in his note. But what deserves especial notice here is the fact that the Zidonians constructed their houses of wood, and were celebrated from the earliest times as skilful builders. The fleets which the Phoenicians constructed for purposes of commerce would ensure them a supply of clever workmen. Wordsworth aptly remarks on the part the heathen thus took in rearing a temple for the God of Jacob. Cf. Isaiah 60:10, 13.]

5:1-9 Here is Solomon's design to build a temple. There is no adversary, no Satan, so the word is; no instrument of Satan to oppose it, or to divert from it. Satan does all he can, to hinder temple work. When there is no evil abroad, then let us be ready and active in that which is good, and get forward. Let God's promises quicken our endeavours. And all outward skill and advantages should be made serviceable to the interests of Christ's kingdom. It Tyre supplies Israel with craftsmen, Israel will supply Tyre with corn, Eze 27:17. Thus, by the wise disposal of Providence, one country has need of another, and is benefitted by another, that there may be dependence on one another, to the glory of God.Now therefore command thou that they hew me cedars out of Lebanon,.... That is, order his servants to cut them down there for him. Some think that Lebanon belonged to the land of Israel, and therefore Solomon did not ask for the cedars upon it, but for his servants to hew them for him; but as it lay upon the borders of Israel, part of it might belong to them, and another part to Hiram, and on which the best cedars might grow, and so he furnished Solomon both with trees, and men to cut them, as it seems from 1 Kings 5:10; see also 2 Chronicles 2:3;

and my servants shall be with thy servants: to assist them, and to carry the timber from place to place, and to learn how to hew timber:

and unto thee will I give hire for thy servants, according to all that thou shalt appoint; pay them for their work and service, as Hiram himself should judge fit and reasonable for them; no mention being made of paying for the timber, seems to countenance the notion that the trees were Solomon's; but when the quantity of provisions sent yearly to Hiram for his household, besides what the servants had, is observed, it seems to have been sent as an equivalent to the timber received by Solomon, see 1 Kings 5:10;

for thou knowest that there is not among us any that can skill to hew timber like unto the Sidonians; it is not said Tyrians, the Sidonians, perhaps, being more skilful in this than they were; and the Sidonians are said by Homer (y) to be very ingenious: and they were both under the jurisdiction and at the command of Hiram; so Eupolemus (z) makes the inscription of Solomon's letter to him to run thus, to Suron (that is, Hiram) king of Tyre, Sidon, and Phoenicia. The Jews being chiefly employed in husbandry, and in feeding cattle, were very unskilful in mechanic arts, and in this of cutting down trees, and hewing timber; for there is skill to be exercised therein; the proper time of cutting down trees should be observed, the part in which they are to be cut, and the position in which they are to be put when cut down, as Vitruvius (a) directs, with other things, and Pliny (b) observes the same.

(y) Iliad. 23. ver. 743. (z) Ut supra. (Apud Euseb. Praepar. Evangel. l. 9. c. 32, 34.) (a) De Architectura, l. 2. c. 9. (b) Nat. Hist. l. 16. c. 39.

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