The focus of the author (Jeremiah) turns to the building of God's Holy Temple.
Ryrie Study Bible, NASB
The Return of Hiram of Tyre
The author reintroduces Hiram, King of Tyre. Hiram was a Phoenician King and Tyre was a port city on the Mediterranean Sea. He was a friend of David's and had previously sent substantial resources for David to build a mansion for himself.
He was probably very generous because his city was tucked in the wedge between Israel and the Sea and didn't want to spend all of his time and resources with an enemy at his border. Phoenicia was a powerhouse at the time and Israel wouldn't have been able to defeat the, (apart from God) but they were a tiny little strip of land between Israel and the sea and the temptation might have taken over a country not under God's sovereignty.
So, anyway, Hiram had reached out and befriended David to both of their advantages.
Now that David had died, Hiram reached out to Solomon with servants. Solomon sent word back recognizing the friendship with his father and retelling the facts regarding God's will for building the Temple. Then Solomon asks (demands?) that Hiram's servants cut cedars from Lebonon. Apparently, Hiram's men were known for doing well with timber.
Solomon went on to state that the men of Israel would join Hiram's men to help. He also states that he will pay Hiram's men whatever wages Hiram wants.
This made Hiram very happy and he rejoiced. He now knew that the knew king was wise and that he wanted to be allies. This had to be quite a relief to the older man, who wouldn't want to pass his own kingdom off to a time of war with a new rival king at his border. (v.7)
Hiram agreed to Solomon's offer and agreed to send cedar and cypress timber to Israel. He explains that his men will cut the timber and turn it into rafts to float down the sea to Israel. Once there, Hiram's men would cut them and then Solomon's men would take it from there. In exchange, Solomon would be responsible for feeding Hiram's men. (v. 9)
The author goes on to summarize that God gave Solomon wisdom and Solomon and Hiram not only made peace bit also a covenant. (v. 12)
Starting in verse 13, the author describes some of the logistics of the process.
- Solomon levied into forced service 30,000 men from Israel.
- These men were to serve one month and then got two months at home, 10,000 at a time.
- A man named Adoniram was over the forced laborers.
- Then he lists 10,000s of thousands of other men who had tasks in the project- including 3,300 chief deputies.
- Then they started quarrying costly stones to be the foundation and had them cut, which requires really skilled and experienced workers.
NIV Chronological Study Bible
Sidebar: According to the editors, Solomon laid the foundation of the Temple in his fourth year as king, about 966 bc. About 480 years after their exodus from Egypt.
II Chronicles 2
The Wiersbe Commentary includes II Chronicles 2 as a parallel to I Kings 5.
In this book it has Solomon initiating the building and reaching out to Huram (Hiram) first.
This book offers additional words to Hiram. He reminds Hiram that he had given David wood for David's home; but Solomon wants the timber to build a house to God, the God who is greater than all gods. And then he humbly points out that his God is too big for a temple. The temple is for the people to worship God instead of the vulnerable traveling tabernacle. And Solomon seems to show humility in being the one to do it.
Then Solomon asks for skilled workers to teach his skilled workers (no wonder the technology, architecture, and such take such a leap forward in Solomon's time. He brought in tutors for the whole nation to learn new things quickly. All toward building the temple. Universal grace rises all boats. 🙂
Then he asks for the timber and them men who know how to cut it.
And then he offers the food to provide for them while they work each year.
Hiram replies back with compliments for Solomon and recognition of David's God as the God- maker of heaven and earth. He agrees to send a skilled craftsman that is half of Tyre and half Hebrew from the tribe of Dan. He also agrees to the terms of the food for the timber send down as rafts on the sea.
It ends with Solomon taking a census of the foreign residence and assigning the workers from the beginning of the chapter.
It sounds like, from a sidebar in the NIV Chronological bible that Hiram and Solomon became close business partners, in building and commercial shipping. It also sounds like they were friendly competitors in betting on solving riddles.
The labor and taxes Solomon was conscripting starting a resentment that would build until after Solomon's death. The Lord had warned the people this would happen if they wanted a king.