olomon’s peaceful kingdom

Chapter 4

Solomon’s peaceful kingdom

This chapter shows how successful Solomon’s rule was. The country was wealthy. It was at peace. The farms were successful. Food and drink were plentiful. People lived good lives. Other nations respected Solomon. Some of those nations paid taxes to him.

The Bible said that people will know such a good and peaceful time again. This will happen when Jesus returns to this world. See Isaiah chapter 55. But, of course, Solomon’s rule was not perfect. Jesus’ rule will be perfect. And it will continue beyond the end of time.

v1 Solomon ruled over all *Israel. v2 These were his chief officials.

·    The priest was Azariah son of Zadok.

·    v3 The official writers for the king were Elihoreph and Ahijah sons of Shisha.

·    Jehoshaphat son of Ahilud wrote down the records.

·    v4 Benaiah son of Jehoiada was in command of the army.

·    Zadok and Abiathar were priests.

·    v5 Azariah son of Nathan was in command of the officers of each district.

·    Zabud son of Nathan was a priest who also gave personal advice to the king.

·    v6 Ahishar controlled the palace.

·    Adoniram son of Abda controlled slave labour.

Many of these people were officials when David was king. We are not sure if ‘Nathan’ was the *prophet or Nathan the son of David. Unlike his son Rehoboam (see chapter 12), Solomon took advice from men who had experience.

v7 Solomon also had 12 rulers of districts over all *Israel. They supplied food for the king and his family, officials and servants. Each ruler had to provide enough food for one month in the year. v8 These are their names:

·    Benhur ruled in the hill country of Ephraim.

·    v9 Bendeker ruled the cities called Makaz, Shaalbim, Beth Shemesh and Elon Bethhanan.

·    v10 Benhesed ruled the cities called Arubboth and Socoh and all the territory of Hepher.

·    v11 Benabinadab married Solomon’s daughter Taphath. He ruled the whole region called Dor.

·    v12 Baana son of Ahilud ruled the cities called Taanach, Megiddo and all the region called Beth Shan. This was near the town called Zarethan, south of the town called Jezreel. The whole area was as far as the city called Abel Meholah and the city called Jokmeam.

·    v13 Bengeber ruled the city called Ramoth in Gilead. He also ruled the villages in Gilead that belonged to the family of Jair. Jair was a *descendant of Manasseh. He also ruled the district of Argob in Bashan. Its 60 cities had walls and metal gates.

·    v14 Ahinadab son of Iddo ruled the district called Mahanaim.

·    v15 Ahimaaz, who had married Basemath, another daughter of Solomon, ruled the region called Naphtali.

·    v16 Baana son of Hushai ruled the region called Asher and the town called Bealoth.

·    v17 Jehoshaphat son of Paruah ruled the territory of Issachar.

·    v18 Shimei son of Ela ruled the territory of Benjamin.

·    v19 Geber son of Uri ruled the territory of Gilead. [This was the land that Sihon and Og used to rule. Sihon was the king of the people called *Amorites. And Og was the king of Bashan.] Geber was the only ruler over the district.

The districts were not quite the same as the territories of the *tribes. This may be to make sure that each district could produce enough food. However, this may have been one of the events that caused the *kingdom to divide. Note that some of these officials had married into Solomon’s family.

v20 The number of people in *Israel and *Judah was very large. They ate and drank. And they were happy. v21 Solomon ruled over all the *kingdoms from the River Euphrates to the land of the people called Philistines. He ruled as far as the border of Egypt. These countries paid him taxes and they belonged to his *kingdom all his life. v22 This is the food that Solomon needed each day. He had 5000 litres (1300 gallons) of flour, 10 000 litres of corn, v23 ten fat *cattle and 20 *cattle from the fields. He also had 100 sheep and goats, *deer, *gazelles, small male *deer and fine birds. v24 He ruled over all the *kingdoms west of the River Euphrates. He ruled the territory from Tiphsah as far west as the city called Gaza. He was at peace with all the other countries.

v25 During Solomon’s life, the people in *Judah and *Israel from north to south lived in safety. Each family had its own *grape plants and fig (kind of fruit) trees. v26 Solomon had 4000 places for his *chariot horses to live and 12 000 men to ride his horses. v27 The district rulers supplied food for King Solomon and all who ate with him. They did this in turn each month. They supplied everything that he needed. v28 Each ruler provided his share. He provided barley (a kind of grain) and straw for the *chariot horses and the other horses. They took it wherever Solomon wanted it.

These verses show Solomon’s wealth and the size of the country that he ruled. Psalm 72 speaks about his rule, especially in verses 8-11. That Psalm is also a *prophecy about Jesus’ rule.

Solomon ruled over the entire land that God promised to Abraham. He was the only king to do this. A large number of people lived in his country. Each family had its own home. Everyone had plenty to eat. It was a time of *peace. Rulers of the countries near him paid him taxes and they obeyed him. Some people say that the rule of Solomon is a physical image of the *spiritual rule of Jesus.

v29 God gave Solomon wisdom and knowledge. Solomon’s knowledge was so great that nobody could measure it. v30 Solomon’s wisdom was greater than that of all the men in the East or in Egypt. v31He was wiser than any other man was. He was wiser than Ethan the son of Zerah was. He was wiser than Heman, Calcol and Darda, the sons of Mahol were. His fame spread to all the nations near him.v32 He spoke 3000 proverbs (wise sentences) and he wrote 1005 songs. v33 He spoke about large and small plants. These varied from the *cedar (a tree with sweet smelling wood) of Lebanon to the hyssop (a plant). This plant grows out of walls. He also spoke about animals, birds, things that crawl along and fish. v34 Kings all over the world heard about Solomon’s wisdom and they sent people to listen to him.

The writer describes the greatness of Solomon’s wisdom. He was wiser than people from the countries that were famous for their wisdom. Ethan wrote Psalm 89. We do not know who the other people in verse 31 were. (However, a family with the same names appears in 1 Chronicles 2:6.) Clearly, these people were famous for their wisdom at that time. A proverb is a short sentence that helps people to remember a wise truth. Some of Solomon’s proverbs are in the Book of Proverbs in the Bible. The Song of Solomon is the only one of his songs that we have today. Many of his proverbs are about plants and animals. People came from near and far to hear his wisdom.

Paul says this (in Colossians 2:3). ‘All the valuable things of wisdom and knowledge are in Christ.’ Jesus said about himself that ‘someone greater than Solomon is here’ (Matthew 12:42).