I Kings – Chapter 5

Hiram Hires 'em

By Rabbi Jack Abramowitz

Solomon ruled from the Euphrates River to the Philistine territory to the border of Egypt; the kings of neighboring lands paid him tribute. One day’s supplies for Solomon’s household included well over 1,000 bushels of wheat, 30 oxen, 100 sheep and goats, as well as many other types of meat and fowl. It is estimated that this fed 60,000 people. (Now you know why the 12 local officers of the previous chapter had to work so hard!) The whole country lived securely in peace during Solomon’s tenure as king.

Solomon had 40,000 horses for chariots and 12,000 riders. This may seem impressive, but the Torah (Deut. 17:16) commands a king not to have more horses than necessary. We’ll discuss this more in chapter 10.

Solomon’s wisdom became renowned and he was famous for his proverbs, collected in (of all places) the Book of Proverbs (Mishlei). He was also the author of famous songs, including Ecclesiastes (Koheles) and, appropriately, The Song of Songs (Shir HaShirim).

Hiram, king of Tyre (modern day Lebanon), had been a friend to David and he sent servants with greetings and an offer of assistance. Solomon replied that, while David was not permitted to build the Temple, he was about to do so and could use Hiram’s help. According to the arrangement made between the two kings, Hiram’s men would cut down cedars in Lebanon and Solomon would pay their wages. The logs would be made into rafts and sailed as far as possible, then disassembled and carried over land.

Solomon drafted 30,000 men in a three-month rotation; 10,000 would work for a month in Lebanon, then go home for two months. There were 70,000 porters, who would carry stones from the mountains and 80,000 masons who chiseled the stones into shape before shipping them. (No iron tools could be used on-site, but they could be used off-site.) In this way, the builders of Solomon and the builders of Hiram prepared the wood and stone for the Temple.

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