1 King 5: Solomon places an order for cedar wood and stones

Synopsis:

King Solomon contracts with the king Hiram of Tyre Lebanon for cedar trees so that he can build a temple for God. Tyre agrees. Apparently only the Sidonians are good at cutting timber. God pays Hiram 20,000 measures of what and 20 measure of oil every year. He also levies 30,000 men to go and be servants to Hiram. These servants are rotated 10,000 a month over 3 months. Each man is in Lebanon for 1 month and 2 months at home. Solomon’s men had 70,000 burden bearers and 80,000 hewers in the mountains. He had 3,300 overseers to oversee the work.

In other words:

Solomon makes peace with Tyre/Lebanon by purchasing a lot of cedar from King Hiram.

Favorite bit:

1 Kings 5:12 there was peace between Hiram and Solomon; and they two made a league together.

2nd favorite bit:

1 Kings 5:6 – “my servants shall be with thy servants: and unto thee will I give hire for thy servants according to all that thou shalt appoint: for thou knowest that there is not among us any that can skill to hew timber like unto the Sidonians.”  Flattery apparently works – as does not just stealing what you want – but paying for it – civilly.

Moral lessons learned:

Sincere flattery improves relations (1 Kings 5)
Want peace? Don’t steal things. Pay for them like a civilized person. (1 Kings 5)

1 Kings 6: The House for the Lord is Finally Built

Synopsis:

480 years after the children of Israel leave Egypt (the 4th year of the reign of Solomon), in the month of Zif, which is the 2nd month, work begins on the house of the LORD.  The house is 60 cubits by 20 cubits, with a height of 30 cubits.  It had a porch of 20 by 10 cubits. The house has narrow windows. Against the walls were built round chambers for both the temple and the oracle. The nethermost chamber was 5 cubits broad, the middle was 6 cubits and the 3rd was 7 cubits.  Each of these chambers was 5 cubits high. The house was made of stone that was cut before it was brought there so that no cutting or hammering sounds were made on the building site.  When complete, the house was covered in beams and boards of cedar. The walls were covered in cedar, the floor was made in fir.  Everything was covered in wood carved with knops and open flowers  The temple portion of the house was 40 cubits long. The oracle was 20 x 20 cubits overlaid in pure gold. In fact, everything was covered in gold and there were god covered cherubim 10 cubits high. Even the floor was covered in gold. The temple door posts were made of olive tree.  The doors were of fir, and they folded.  Work started in the 4th year of Solomon’s reign in the 2nd month and it was finished in the 11th year in the 8th month. So, it took a little over 7 years to build.

In other words:

It takes 7 years to build a massive temple, cover it in expensive carved wood and overlay the entire thing, including the floor, in gold.

What it looked like:


Because this book is so specific about the plans for this temple, you can pretty much envision what it looked like. It was a long narrow building and a bit taller than it was wide.   Outside was stone. Inside – gold everywhere over ornately carved wood.  The oracle, where the ark was stored, was basically a massive 20 x 20 cubit room that had 2 cherubim with wings outstretched touching each other wall to wall, covered in gold. The doorway to get in there was ornately carve with cherubim and palm tees and covered in gold. The doors folded open.

Favorite bit:

That this is so precise, you can really imagine what it looked like.

Least favorite bit:

While this was clearly a public works program it is also a stupendous waste of money and resources.  On the other hand, it would have been amazing to see!

Moral lesson learned:

If you are going to build a building, make it look good (1 Kings 6)
Precise plans help everyone get the job done (1 Kings 6)
Details matter (1 Kings 6)



1 Kings 3: Solomon is granted the gift of wisdom

Synopsis:

Solomon further consolidates his power by making a pact with Egypt and marries the Pharoah’s daughter. They live in the city of David until Solomon’s house is built in Jeruselum. Sacrifices are still being made in high places because there is no house for God. One day Solomon is in Gibeon to sacrifice there and God comes to him in a dream and asks Solomon what he wants. Solomon says, well, I’m a newbie at this whole being king thing, therefore grant me an understanding heart to judge they people that I may discern between good and bad. The Lord really liked this and gave Solomon a wise and understanding heart AND riches and honour, even though Solomon didn’t ask for that. 2 harlots who lived together came before him. Both had had babies, but one of them had died. So the woman whose baby died, switched babies with the one who was living. The woman who now had the dead baby recognized, it was not hers. King Solomon asks for a sword to divide the living child in two. The woman whose child it was became hysterical. The woman whose child it was not – didn’t care either way. All Israel heard of the judgement and feared king Solomon because the wisdom of God was in him.

In other words:

Solomon asks God for wisdom and threatens to split a child in two to figure out who the real mother is. This makes the people rather afraid of him. Brilliant but scary.

Favorite bit:

1 Kings 3:28 – “And all Israel heard of the judgment which the king had judged; and they feared the king: for they saw that the wisdom of God was in him, to do judgment.” Obviously – King Solomon and the splitting of the baby is a really famous story – but upon reading it – I realize how terrifying word of this would have been. Don’t come to this guy with nonsense. He is willing to kill a child to call you out as a liar. There is a reason why they feared him.

2nd favorite bit:

1 Kings 3: 9 – Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?”  What a wise thing to ask for!

Most interesting bit:

God doesn’t yet have a house for sacrifice – so sacrifices are being done in high places. (1 Kings 2)  I suppose the height and being on a mountain makes them closer to God.

Moral Lesson Learned:

Do not lie to a judge (1 Kings 3)

1 Kings 4: How awesome is Solomon?

Synopsis:

King Solomon names his princes and appoints 12 officers over Israel. Their job is to provide victuals for the king and his household. Solomon reign over all the kingdoms from the river to the land of the Philistines and to the border of Egypt. He had peace on all sides of him. His provisions for a single day was 30 measures of flour, 3 score measure of meal. 10 fat oxen, 20 oxent in pasture, a hundred sheep and heart, roebucks, fallowdeer and fatted foul. He had 40,000 stalls of horses for chariots and 12,000 horsemen. People who came to his table were lacking nothing.  Solomon was so wise he was more famous than all men, even more famous than Ethan the Eszahite, Herman, Chalcol and Darda, the sons of Mahol.  He spoke 3,000 proverbs and he wrote 5,005 songs. People came from all over to hear the wisdom of Solomon, including all the kings of the earth.

Favorite bit:

1 Kings 4:32 – He spake 3,000 proverbs and his songs were 5,005.   I like the idea of him being a poet and a sage.  He was the Ben Franklin of his time.

2nd favorite bit:

1 Kings 4:33 – He was wiser than all men; than Ethan the Ezrahite, and Heman, and Chalcol, and Darda, the sons of Mahol: and his fame was in all the nations round about. No clue who these folks are. According to  the Jewish Encyclopedia though - http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/4899-darda - apparently Ethan is Abraham, Heman is Moses and Chalcol is Joseph, which means – Solomon was wiser than the founders of Israel, which isn't hard to believe because Abraham was a schizophrenic, Moses was a coward who didn't speak well.   On the other hand, Ethan the Ezrahite is probably a reference to a follower of Ezra who will come later. Which means that this is a retelling of the story from a later time which references other people who come after this story – not before.  Regardless of how you look at this – Solomon was apparently the wisest of the wise.

What’s nice:

1 Kings 4:24, 25 – “He had peace on all sides round about it. And Judah and Israel dwelt safely, every man under his vine and under his fig tree, from Dan even to Beer-sheba all the days of Solomon.” And apparently he made this peace through peace treaties and without having to fight for domination.

Best part:

1 Kings 4:33 “And he spake of trees, from the cedar tree that is in Lebanon even unto the hyssop that springeth out of the wall: he spake also of beasts, and of fowl and of creeping things, and of fishes.”  This is a bit odd and out of place. However, it almost sounds like he was a scholar/scientist which is why - he could talk and discuss trees, animals, etc in great detail.  I guess making smart people rulers pays off a nice peace dividend.

Moral Lesson Learned:

Scientists make good and smart rulers (1 Kings 4)