Trading SpacesBy Rabbi Jack Abramowitz
Building the Temple took seven years and Solomon’s palace took another thirteen. After all this was accomplished, Solomon settled the cities Hiram had given him. (Refer back to I Kings chapter 9 – Solomon and Hiram had exchanged the gift of cities to one another, though Hiram thought the cities Solomon gave him were not up to par.)
The rest of the chapter describes a wide variety of Solomon’s works. He built a number of cities (which are named in the text). He built everything he desired, employing his non-Jewish subjects for the task. There were still Hittites, Jebusites, Emorites, etc. living in the land under Jewish rule. Jewish subjects were drafted to serve in the military, while non-Jewish subjects were drafted for “public service” projects.
Solomon was married to Pharaoh’s daughter and he moved her into a palace he had built for her. He would not let his wife stay in the place where the Ark had resided because he found it unseemly to have marital relations in such a holy place.
Since the Temple was fully functioning, Solomon would bring sacrifices there, in addition to the regular daily offerings and the special services of Sabbaths, holidays and new months. Solomon implemented the system of shifts for the priests and Levites that his father had devised. The gatekeepers also took over their duties and no one deviated from their assigned tasks.
The Temple was complete in every aspect, so Solomon was able to go take care of some business out of town, in Edom. His friend Hiram provided boats and sailors, who accompanied Solomon’s crew to Ophir, where they picked up a large shipment of gold. (Remember, the gold Solomon had inherited from David was consecrated for holy uses only and stored in the Temple treasury. It was not available for Solomon’s personal projects.)