2 Chronicles 2 – “Preparations for the Temple Construction”

bambooRaftingHebrew-English Text
I. Summary
Solomon requests men and materials from the king of Tyre in order to build the temple. The king agrees, and sends Solomon all that he asks for. Solomon conscripts a total 153,600 foreign workers for the task.

II. Photo
The king of Tyre sends Solomon what he requests: “We undertake to cut down as many trees of Lebanon as you need, and deliver them to you as rafts by sea to Jaffa; you will transport them to Jerusalem.” (v. 15)

III. Important Verses
vv. 4-5: The House that I intend to build will be great, inasmuch as our God is greater than all gods. Who indeed is capable of building a House for Him! Even the heavens to their uttermost reaches cannot contain Him, and who am I that I should build Him a House — except as a place for making burnt offerings to Him?
v. 6: Now send me a craftsman to work in gold, silver, bronze, and iron, and in purple, crimson, and blue yarn, and who knows how to engrave, alongside the craftsmen I have here in Judah and in Jerusalem, whom my father David provided.
vv. 16-17: Solomon took a census of all the aliens who were in the land of Israel, besides the census taken by his father David, and they were found to be 153,600. He made 70,000 of them basket carriers, and 80,000 of them quarriers, with 3,600 supervisors to see that the people worked.

IV. Outline
1. Solomon prepares a workforce
2-9. Solomon requests materials and workers from the king of Tyre
10-15. The king agrees to assist Solomon
16-17. Census of the foreign workers

V. Comment
Chapter 2 recounts how Solomon prepared the labor to build the temple in Jerusalem. When examining the books of Chronicles and Kings it becomes apparent that Solomon appears more upstanding and righteous in the Chronicler’s account. Collins writes: “In 2 Chronicles 2 Solomon turns his attention to building the temple. As in 1 Kings, he makes an arrangement with Hiram (Huram in Chronicles) of Tyre for supplies of wood and craftsmen. According to 1 Kgs 9:20-22, Solomon conscripted the Amorites and other peoples who were left in the land for slave labor, but did not make slaves of the Israelites. In 1 Kgs 5:13, however, we read that Solomon conscripted forced labor out of Israel, thirty thousand men, specifically in connection with the temple project. Chronicles makes no mention of forced labor from Israel and has Solomon take a census of aliens before he embarks on the temple building. In Chronicles, then, all the forced labor is imposed on aliens, whatever their origin.” (450)

Solomon asks Huram (Hiram) king of Tyre for his assistance in building the Temple. It is interesting to note that Tyre, which is now a peninsula, was once an Island (the causeway was built in the summer of 332 BCE). This fact is attested to in Ezek 27:32 which says, “Who was like Tyre when she was silenced In the midst of the sea?” Before Hiram’s time Tyre was actually two islands, but he combined the two (this was one of his many building projects). (Katzenstein, H. J. “Tyre (Place)” in Anchor Bible Dictionary, Vol. VI, pp. 686-692)

A Roman portrait bust said to be of Josephus
A Roman portrait bust said to be of Josephus

Whitelman notes that Josephus quotes two non-biblical sources when speaking of Hiram, the ancient historians Dius and Menander of Ephesus. Whitelman summarizes Josephus as follows: “Dius reportedly credits Hiram with the construction of embankments to level the eastern part of the city, the enlargement of the city, the creation of a causeway to the temple of Zeus (Baal) and the logging of timber from Lebanon for the construction of temples. Dius also reports that Hiram and Solomon used to set riddles for each other as part of a wager: Hiram, it seems, lost a large part of his wealth gambling with Solomon until Abdemun (“Abdemon” in Ant 8.149) solved them and recuperated even more money from Solomon, who was unable to solve the riddles he posed. Josephus claims (AgAp 1.111) that much of this correspondence was still preserved in the Tyrian archives during his own time. His other source, Menander of Ephesus, adds further information about Hiram (AgAp 1.116–121; Ant 8.144–460). He reports that Hiram succeeded his father Abibaal (Abibalos), lived for fifty-three years and reigned for thirty-four years. Apart from the general building program mentioned by Dius, Menander recounts that Hiram also demolished a number of temples, built shrines to Heracles (Melkart) and Ashtarte, and conducted a successful campaign against Utica for its refusal to pay tribute. The reliability of Josephus’ information is difficult to assess without further independent evidence, particularly in light of the apologetic nature of his writings.” (Whitelam, Keith W. “Hiram (Person)” in Anchor Bible Dictionary, Vol. III, pp. 203-25)

VI. Works Used
(see “Commentaries” page)
Collins, John J. “Introduction to the Hebrew Bible” (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2004).
De Vries, Simon J. “1 and 2 Chronicles,” The Forms of Old Testament Literature vol. 11 (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1989).
Katzenstein, H. J. “Tyre (Place)” in Anchor Bible Dictionary, Vol. VI, pp. 686-692
Whitelam, Keith W. “Hiram (Person)” in Anchor Bible Dictionary, Vol. III, pp. 203-25
Photo #1 taken from http://assamforest.in/forestGlance/images/bambooRafting.jpg

Photo #2 taken from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Josephusbust.jpg