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Bible Commentaries
2 Chronicles 8

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and HomileticalLange's Commentary

Verses 1-18

c. The External Glory of Solomon’s Kingdom, and his End.—Ch. 8, 9

α. Solomon’s Building, serfs, Divine Worship, and Navigation: 2 Chronicles 8:0

2 Chronicles 8:1 And after the course of twenty years, in which Solomon built the house 2of the Lord, and his own house. The cities which Huram had given to Solomon, Solomon built, and caused the sons of Israel to dwell in them.

3And Solomon went to Hamath-zobah, and subdued it. 4And he built Tadmor in the wilderness, and all the cities of stores which he had built in 5Hamath. And he built Beth-horon the upper, and Beth-horon the nether, fenced cities, with walls, gates, and bars. 6And Baalath, and all the cities of stores that Solomon had, and all the chariot-cities and cities of the riders, and all the desire of Solomon which he desired to build in Jerusalem, and in Lebanon, and in all the land of his dominion.

7All the people that were left of the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the8Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, who were not of Israel. Of their sons who were left after them in the land, whom the sons of Israel had not consumed, these Solomon levied for serfs unto this day. 9But of the sons of Israel1 Solomon made none to be servants for his work; but they were soldiers, and captains of his knights,2 and captains of his chariots and riders. 10And these were the chiefs of King Solomon’s officers,3 even two hundred and fifty, that bare rule over the people.

11And Solomon brought up the daughter of Pharaoh from the city of David unto the house that he had built for her: for he said, My wife shall not dwell in the house of David king of Israel; for the places are holy into which the ark of God hath come.

12Then Solomon offered burnt-offerings unto the Lord on the altar of the13Lord, which he had built before the porch. And by a daily rule, each day he offered according to the command of Moses, on the sabbaths, and on the new moons, and on the solemn feasts, three times a year, in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks, and in the feast of tabernacles. 14And he appointed, after the order of David his father, the courses of the priests for their service, and the Levites for their charges, to praise and to minister before the priests by a daily rule each day, and the porters in their courses at every gate: for so was the command of David the man of God. 15And they departed not from the command4 of the king to the priests and 16Levites for all things and for the treasures. And all the work of Solomon was prepared unto the day of the foundation of the house of the Lord, and until it was finished: the house of the Lord was complete.

17Then went Solomon to Eziongeber, and to Eloth, on the sea-side in theland of Edom. 18And Huram sent him by the hand of his servants, ships and servants knowing the sea; and they went with Solomon’s servants to Ophir, and fetched thence four hundred and fifty talents of gold, and brought them to King Solomon.


Preliminary Remark.—Here brief notes and aphoristic accounts, mostly referring to the external occasions and events of the reign of Solomon, are put together, as in the parallel 1 Kings 9:10-28, in such a way that they form as it were a gleaning to the report of the chief work of his reign, the building of the temple. The order is in both places the same: 1. The building or finishing of several cities; 2. The arrangement of the service for these buildings; 3. The report of the dwelling assigned to the daughter of the Egyptian king; 4. Regulations concerning sacrifice; 5. Navigation to Ophir. But the contents of these five paragraphs differ much from one another in the two narratives, especially the first relating to the building of the cities (2 Chronicles 8:1-6; comp. 1 Kings 9:10-19), where it is clear that we have extracts, not merely differing in the mode of selection from the same sources, and aiding to complete each other, but (with respect to one point at least) actually contradicting one another; see on 2 Chronicles 8:1-2.

1. Solomon’s building of Cities: 2 Chronicles 8:1-6.—And after the course of twenty years, seven years during which the temple was built, and thirteen years during which the royal palace was built, 1 Kings 6:38; 1 Kings 7:1. With the same date the statement in 1 Kings 9:10 opens.

2 Chronicles 8:2. The cities which Huram had given to Solomon, Solomon built, completed and fortified (comp. 2 Chronicles 8:4-5, and 1 Kings 19:13).—And earned the sons of Israel to dwell in them, transplanted Israelites as colonists into them; comp. 2 Kings 17:6. 1 Kings 9:10-13, deviating from the present statement, speaks rather of twenty Israelitish cities not far from Tyre (in “ Galil ”) which Solomon ceded or pledged to the Phœnician king, to indemnify him for the building materials and moneys received from him. These obviously contradictory statements it has been attempted to harmonize in two ways—1. By the assumption that Solomon first ceded the twenty cities to Huram, who, however, because they were in bad condition, or were little worth to him (comp. 1 Kings 9:12 : “and they pleased him not;” and 2 Chronicles 8:13 : “he called them—contemptuously—the land of Cabul”), restored them to him, whereupon Solomon built them up (Josephus, Antiq. viii. 5. 3; Seb. Schmidt, Starke, recently Keil); 2. By the assumption that Solomon gave Huram twenty Israelitish cities, for which the latter gave him twenty Phœnician cities; and the author of 1 Kings speaks exclusively of the former gift, but the Chronist only of the latter (Kimchi and other Rabbis). The former of these two suppositions, for which there is some ground in 1 Kings 9:12 f., is decidedly preferable. Yet there is much to say for the assumption of modern critics, that our passage contains a remodelling of the old statement in Kings in favour of Solomon; see Bähr on 1 Kings 9:0.

2 Chronicles 8:3. And Solomon went to Hamath-zobah, and subdued it, “prevailed over it” (חָזַק עַל), as 2 Chronicles 27:5; Daniel 11:5). By Hamath-zobah is to be understood, not a city Hamath in the land of Zobah, but rather the land of Hamath not far from Zobah, the Syrian kingdom of Hamath bordering on Zobah; comp. 2 Chronicles 8:4, from which it is clear that a district or kingdom, not a city, is meant, as in 1 Chronicles 18:3, where (in the designation of Hadadezer as “ king of Zobah towards Hamath”) inversely the situation of Zobah is determined by that of the neighbouring Hamath. For the designation of bordering, or being in the immediate neighbourhood, by the status constr., comp. the connection often occurring in Numbers and Joshua: “the Jordan of Jericho” for “the Jordan by Jericho,” Numbers 22:1; Numbers 26:3; Numbers 26:63; Numbers 31:12; Numbers 33:48; Numbers 35:1; Numbers 36:13, Joshua 13:32, etc., and above, 1 Chronicles 6:63 (which see). Moreover, the account of the subjugation of Hamath by Solomon is peculiar to our book. The fact, indeed, is presupposed in 2 Kings 14:28, but is not directly mentioned by the author of the books of Kings.—And he built Tadmor in the wilderness, and all the cities . . . in Hamath, the latter obviously to protect the borders of this newly-conquered country against the hostile King Rezon of Zobah (and more lately of Damascus); see 1 Kings 11:23 ff. Tadmor or Palmyra, for only this celebrated old city of the wilderness can be meant by the expressed addition בַּמִּדְבָּר, appears here connected with the kingdom of Hamath, or bordering on it, and made by Solomon to be a border fortress of it. This notice also, so far at least as Tadmor is concerned, is wanting in 1 Kings 9:0; for the Tammor named there, among other cities fortified by Solomon, 2 Chronicles 8:18 (for which the Keri puts תַּדְמֹר), appears rather to be a place in South Palestine, perhaps identical with the Tamar mentioned Ezekiel 47:19; Ezekiel 48:28, the Θαμαρά of the Onomasticon of Eusebius, and the present Kurnub; comp. Movers, Chron. p. 210; Hitzig, Gesch. p. 160; and Bähr on 1 Kings 9:18. There is no sufficient reason to doubt the truth of the present statement of the Chronist regarding Palmyra; the whole old Oriental tradition (even the Arabic legends in Schultens, Index (geogr, s.v.תַּדְמֹר) testifies to it.

2 Chronicles 8:5. And he built Upper and Nether Beth-horon; comp. on 1 Chronicles 7:24, and for the second accusative of the object עָרֵי מָצוֹר, “fenced cities,” 2 Chronicles 11:10; 2 Chronicles 14:6.

2 Chronicles 8:6. And Baalath, and all the cities of stores, cities for the collection of provisions, magazine-cities, as in 2 Chronicles 8:4; comp. 2Ch 17:12; 2 Chronicles 32:28, and Bähr on 1 Kings 9:19. Moreover, of the places here mentioned, Upper Beth-horon is not named in 1 Kings 9:15-18, but, on the contrary, the here wanting Hazor, Megiddo, and Gezer (2 Chronicles 8:15).

2. Arrangement of the Serfs: 2 Chronicles 8:7-10; comp. 1 Kings 9:20-23, where, however, as the superscription, 2 Chronicles 8:15 : “and this is the mode of the levy,” shows, a closer connection of this section with the previous statements regarding the buildings (2 Chronicles 8:15-18) subsists, whereas here the section appears to follow the preceding one, without any connecting link.

2 Chronicles 8:8. Of their sons who were left after them in the land. מִן be fore בְּנֵיהֶם must apparently be taken as the partitive מִן (some of their sons); but a hyperbaton may also be assumed: מִן־בְּנֵיהֶם אֲשֶׁר for אֲשֶׁר מִן־בְּ׳ (Keil).The מִן is by no means to be expunged because it is wanting in 1 Kings 9:21 (against Berth.).

2 Chronicles 8:9. But of the sons of Israel Solomon made none. On the probable spuriousness of the אֲשֶׁר before לֹא נָתן, and on the perhaps necessary alteration of the שׂרי שׁלישׁיו “captains of his knights,” into “his captains and his knights,” see Crit. Notes.

2 Chronicles 8:10. And these were the chiefs of King Solomon’s officers. So according to the Keri, coinciding with 1 Kings 9:23; the Kethibשָׂרֵי הַנֻּציבִים would give the sense: “chiefs of the overseers.” The number 250 is confirmed by the Sept. and Vulg. in our passage, whereas the same translators and Josephus, in the parallel 1 Kings 9:23, present the higher number 550. The explanation of this difference see on 2 Chronicles 2:17; in our passage only the Israelitish overseers or taskmasters, in 1 Kings 9:23 the Canaanitish also, are counted.

3. The Change of the Dwelling-place of the Daughter of Pharaoh: 2 Chronicles 8:11.—The daughter of Pharaoh. This is most probably the daughter of Psusennes, the last king of the twenty-first (Tanitic) dynasty. In 1 Kings 9:24 this notice is more easily introduced, as it is preceded by an account of the marriage of Solomon with this daughter of Pharaoh, 1 Kings 3:1 f., which is wholly wanting in Chronicles.—For he said, My wife shall not dwell. This reason for the removal of his wife is not found in 1 Kings 9:24, yet, by its allusion to the special sanctifying of the house of David by the presence of the ark, it corresponds with the mode of thought characteristic of the Chronist.—Are holy, the places into which the ark of the Lord came; הֵמָּה has here in some sort a neuter significance; comp. Ew. § 318, b. The statement, 1 Kings 9:24 b, that at the time of this transference of the daughter of Pharaoh Solomon built Millo, is wholly wanting in our passage, as not sufficiently important for the tendency of our author.

4. Regulations concerning Sacrifice: 2 Chronicles 8:12-16; comp. 1 Kings 9:25, where the corresponding report appears in a considerably shorter form.—Then Solomon offered burnt-offerings unto the Lord. “Then,” namely, after the building of the temple was completed, and the dedication finished.—On the altar of the Lord, which he had built, on that which had been erected by him in the new sanctuary, no longer on that before the tabernacle in Gibeon, as formerly in the beginning of his reign, 2 Chronicles 3:1.

2 Chronicles 8:13. And by daily rule each day he offered, “and in the matter of a day in the day to offer;” the ו before בִּדְבַר is explicative, “namely,” and the ב before דְּבַר is the so-called בessentiœ: “consisting, namely, in the daily, in that which is appointed for every day,” according to the law Leviticus 23:37. The infinitive לְהַֽעֲלוֹת stands in the later usage for the infin. absol. (Ew. § 280, d); comp. for example, 1 Chronicles 9:25; 1Ch 13:4; 1 Chronicles 15:2.—And on the solemn feasts, three times a year, on the three great festivals, which are then named in order.

2 Chronicles 8:14. And he appointed, after the order of David his father, the courses of the priests; comp. 1 Chronicles 24:25-26, and for the designation of David as “the man of God,” Nehemiah 12:24.

2 Chronicles 8:15. And they departed not from the command of the king. See the Crit. Note, and comp. for the second member, 1 Chronicles 26:20-28.

2 Chronicles 8:16. And all the work of Solomon was prepared. וַתִּכֹּן, as in 2 Chronicles 29:25, 2 Chronicles 35:10; 2 Chronicles 35:16. What is meant here by מלֶאכֶת is shown by the following מוּסַד וגו׳, which may be taken either (with Kamph.) as genitive depending on הַיּוֹם, or (with Berth., Keil, etc.) as apposition to מְלֶאכֶת, “unto this day, namely, the founding,” etc. In the former case, which appears to us preferable, for the construction with עַד perhaps Ezra 8:29 might be compared.—The house of the Lord was complete, set up in all its parts, finished as a house of God. The notice, which is found literally the same in 1 Kings 9:25, is meant to denote, not perhaps the building, but rather the fitting up and arrangement of the temple for divine worship, as brought to final completion. It cannot therefore be regarded (with Berth.) as the subscription to all that precedes from 1 Kings 1:18, but closes only the present paragraph referring to worship, which forms a sort of appendix to the account of the temple building.

5. The Navigation to Ophir: 2 Chronicles 8:17-18.—Then went Solomon. Comp. 1 Kings 9:26, where the reference to this trade with Ophir, otherwise agreeing pretty closely with our passage (26–28), begins with the words: “And Solomon made ships” (ואני עשׂה instead of the present אז הלך). By “then” our author transfers these nautical undertakings in general to the second half of the reign of Solomon, or the time after the building of the temple and the palace. For Ezion-geber and Eloth on the sea (1 Kings more exactly; “Ezion-geber beside Eloth,” and then, “ on the shore of the sea ”), comp. the expositors on 1 Kings 9:0.

2 Chronicles 8:18. And Huram sent him . . . ships. It is no more necessary to suppose a transport of ships ready made across the isthmus of Suez than a circumnavigation of Africa. The assumption of a supply of timber for ships, and of mariners, by the Phœnician king, is quite sufficient; and with this (which is defended by Keil, Bahr, etc.) our passage appears to be not contradictory to 1 Kings 9:27.—And fetched thence four hundred and fifty talents of gold. According to 1 Kings 9:28, the profit amounted only to 420 talents, a difference which may be explained either by assuming a change of the numeral כ into נ, or a fault of memory on the part of one of the two reporters (perhaps a round number chosen by the Chronist). Moreover, it appears to be not a single gain, but the sum total of the gold gained in the repeated voyages to Ophir that is here spoken of; comp. 2 Chronicles 9:13.

Appendix.—It is necessary to go somewhat fully into the question of the situation of Ophir, on account of the many scientific memoirs recently published on it, especially in geographical literature and travels (comp. our former brief remarks on Job 22:24, and those of Bähr on 1 Kings 10:22).

1. As Ezion-geber on the Red Sea is quite definitely given, both in 2 Chronicles 8:17 f. and 1 Kings 9:26-28, as the starting-point of the voyages under Solomon to Ophir, and as Jehoshaphat’s later attempt to renew this trade, 1 Kings 22:49, 2 Chronicles 20:35, was made from the same port, all those conjectures concerning the site of Ophir are to be accounted null that place it anywhere west of Phœnicia and Palestine, whether near the coast of the Mediterranean or any of its bays, or beyond the Mediterranean, in the region of the new world. This includes—a. the opinions of Hardt, Calmet, Oldermann, of whom the first sought Ophir in Phœnicia, the second in Armenia, and the third in Iberia; b. the different hypotheses referring to certain coasts, islands, or lands of America or Oceanica, as the opinion of Columbus that the Ophir of Solomon was rediscovered in the country of Haiti; that of the Spanish navigator Mendana, under Philippians 2:0, who in 1567 designated a group of islands, abounding in gold, and inhabited by cannibals, east of New Guinea, which he took for Ophir by the name of Solomon’s Archipelago; that of Arias Montanus, Vatablus, Osiander, P. Fr. Pfeffelius, etc., who identified the gold regions of Peru and Mexico first with Parvaim (2 Chronicles 3:6, Parvaim = Peruaim, double Peru, the two Perus), and then also with Ophir; that of the French engineer Ouffroy de Thoron (in an article in the Genevan journal Le Globe, 1869), who thinks that the name Ophir is rather to be found in the Japura, a branch of the Amazon, and in accordance with this, transfers Parvaim and Tarshish (2 Chronicles 9:21) to Brazil; and the partly still more extravagant and uncritical fancies of Abbé Brasseur de Bourbourg, George Brown, in his Paläorama (German edit. Erl. 1867), etc. Comp. Ritter, Erdkunde, xiv. 353 ff.; Ausland 1872, No. 23, p. 532; Globus, vol. xvii. p. 382 f., and vol. xxi. p. 244; and Pressel, Art. “Ophir” in Herzog’s Meal-Encycl. x. 656. From the notices of Parvaim (2 Chronicles 3:6) and Tarshish (2 Chronicles 9:21) in our book, not the least hint can be drawn in favour of a western Ophir, or of a western direction of the Ophir trade. For, with regard to Parvaim, the single and quite incidental mention of the gold of Parvaim leaves room for all possible conjectures concerning the import of the name,5 while yet an eastern situation for this gold country is in itself the most probable (see on 2 Chronicles 3:6); and of all the conjectures regarding it, that of Knobel, in which he combines the name with Sepharvaim = Sephar, Genesis 10:30, and places it in the Joktanide South Arabia, or Oman (Völkertaf. p. 161), has most in its favour; see No. 5. “With regard to the ships of Solomon sailing to Tarshish, as 2 Chronicles 9:21 seems to affirm, this rests most probably on a misunderstanding of the phrase: “ships of Tarshish ” (see on the passage); and, accordingly, the various hypotheses on the relation of Tarshish to Ophir which have been invented (as that of Michaelis, Spicileg. geogr. Hebr, i. 98 if.): that Hiram’s and Solomon’s fleets sailed beyond Tarshish, that is, beyond Spain, round Africa, as the Phœnicians did 400 years later under Pharaoh Necho, but in the opposite direction, to Ophir in the East Indies; that of Weston in the Classic. Journ. 1821, Sept., p. 17 f., and of Keil in the Dorpat Contributions, 1833, ii. 240, and in his earlier Comm. on the Books of Kings, 1846, p. 311, according to which the Ophir voyages proceeded from Ezion-geber, and the Tarshish or Spanish voyages from Joppa; that of Seetzen, “ Ueber Ophir” in Von Zach’s Monatlicher Korrespondenz, xix. p. 331 ff., who, in 2 Chronicles 9:21, finds a promontory Tarsis on the Karamanian coast of the Persian Gulf, which is mentioned in the old accounts concerning the Periplus of Nearchus, and endeavours to render probable his removal of Ophir to South Arabia),—are wholly superfluous and groundless.

2. If the eastern situation of Ophir stand, we may take the name first as a general designation of all possible gold-yielding lands east of Palestine, and therefore as an equally indefinite and vague geographical notion with that of Kush in Hebrew antiquity, Scythia among the Greeks, India in the Middle Ages, or Tartary, the Levant, etc., in modern times. But it is against this indefinite and therefore very convenient assumption of Jos. Acosta, Heeren, Hartmann, Tychsen, and Zeune, that, according to all the notices in history of the voyages to Ophir, this must have been a definite country, or, in other words, that the end of this voyage should, no more than Ezion-geber its starting-point, be robbed of its concrete import, and generalized into the indefinite.
3. Among the gold-producing coasts east of Palestine, East India, in particular some province, coast, or island of East India, appears to have a specially high claim to identification with Ophir; for—1. The name Ophir finds its most convenient meaning in Indian words or local names, whether we combine the form usual in the Sept. Σωφιρά or Σουφίρ (also Σωφηρά, Σωφαρά), as well as the Coptic designation: Sophir, for India, with the Sanscr. Supâra, “fair coast” (Lassen, Ind. Alterthumskunde, i. 107), and with Σουπάρα. of Ptolemy = Οὔππαρα in the Peripl., or refer to the pastoral tribe of the Abhira, between the mouths of the Indus and the Gulf of Cambay. 2. Several of the commodities brought to Palestine from Ophir, namely, the peacocks, apes, and the almuggim or sandal-wood (see 2Ch 9:10; 2 Chronicles 9:21, and comp. 1 Kings 10:12; 1 Kings 10:22), are specifically Indian products, that seem to have been brought only thence, and whose export from any non-Indian emporium is scarcely conceivable. 3. The names also of those imports seem capable of a specially easy explanation from the Indian language; comp. with קֹפִים, “apes,” the Sanscr. Kapi, with תֻּכִּיִּים peacocks, the Sanscr. Cikhi., Malabar. toghei, with אַלְמֻגִּים or אַלְגֻּמִּים the Sanscr. valgu (valgum). 4. The length of the voyage, which, according to 2 Chronicles 9:21 (1 Kings 9:22), required so much time, that only once in three years the fleet of Tarshish came and brought gold and other costly wares of Ophir, appears to indicate a country that was at least as far as East India from the northern point of the Red Sea. For these reasons, and partly also on account of some old traditions pointing to India, for instance, in Josephus, Antiq. viii. 6. 4, a number of eminent scholars since Bochart (Phaleg, ii. 27 ff.), W. Ouseley and Hadr. Reland (Dissert. miscel. No. IV., de Ophir), of the moderns, especially Lassen (Ind. Alterthumskunde), Ritter (Erdkunde, xiv. 346–431), and Kiepert (in the Nationalzeitung 1872, No. xlvi.), have declared themselves for some coast of India as corresponding to the ancient Ophir.—But several objections may be made to these arguments: To 1. That suitable coincidences of names or accordances with Ophir are presented in East Africa and Arabia as well as in those localities of India (see below); besides, neither the region of Sufara or Supara (near Goa), nor that of Abhira, south-east of the Delta of Indus, is gold-producing, or even specially near any gold district. To 2. That almug-wood, apes, and peacocks, if really exclusive products of India (what may be doubted with regard to the almug-wood from 2 Chronicles 2:7, and cannot be asserted respecting the apes), might very well be brought, not directly from India, but from a port of Arabia, or even East-Africa, whither Indian or other ships had carried them. To 3. That the etyma of the names almuggim, kophim, and tukkiim are Indian, as above quoted, is by no means indubitably certain; for in “almuggim,” which does not much resemble the Sanscr. valgu, the Arabic article al- seems rather to be present. That תֻּכִּיִּים is = the Malabar tôghai may be doubted on strong philological grounds (see Rödiger in Gesen. Thes. p. 1502); and apes might be called, קֹפִים, from the Greek κῆπος, κῆβος, which, according to Aristot. Hist, animal, ii. 8, Strabo, Plin., etc., designates an Æthiopian species of ape. Moreover, the latest Egyptology has found the latter name (in the form kap, kaph, kafi) also on the primeval Egyptian monuments, which renders its Sanscrit origin altogether doubtful (see Dümichen, Die Flotte einer egyptischen Königin, 1868; and comp. R. Rösler in the Ausland, 1872, p. 648). To 4. That no weight is to be attached to the length of the voyage, when we consider the slow method of the ancients, especially of the ancient sea voyages (comp. Odyss. xv. 454 ff.); and this argument might be urged as well in favour of the southern East Africa; even the defenders of the hypotheses implying still farther regions (see No. 1) might avail themselves of it.

4. If from all this the determination of the site of Ophir in East India seems doubtful and precarious, it fares little better with that which has been further urged in favour of the East African coast, especially Sofala, on the channel of Mozambique (about 20° south lat.). Following the steps of the Portuguese travellers of the 16th and 17th centuries, as de Barros, Juan dos Santos, Th. Lopez, Montesquieu, d’Anville, J. Bruce, Robertson in the last century, and recently Quatremère (Mémoire sur le pays d’Ophir in the Mén . de l’Instit. roy. 1845, torn, xv.ii. p. 350 sq.), Movers (Die Phönizier, ii. 3, 58 ff.), the British geographers R. Murchison and J. Crawfurd, and recently the eminent African traveller Karl Mauch, the geographer Petermann partly approving his views (see his Mittheilungen, etc., 1872, p. 4, p. 121 ff.), also the director of missions, Wangemann (Kreuzzeitung of 30th Jan. 1872), and an anonymous reporter in Ausland (1872, No. 10), have endeavoured to render probable the identity of Sofala or some neighbouring South African coast with Ophir. The chief grounds for this view are: 1.To the name Ophir appears to correspond, if not that of Sofala (which seems rather to lead to שְׁפֵלה, “lowland”), yet that of a mountain Fura or Afura, with ancient, probably Phœnician, ruins, of which the Portuguese were cognisant in the 16th and 17th centuries (see dos Santos, Æthiopia orientalis, Evora 1609), and which have been lately rediscovered by K. Mauch, and have been with great probability identified with the Zembabye or Zimbaoe of the Portuguese, the Agysymba of Ptolemy. 2. The wealth of East Africa in gold excels that of East India, especially the East Indian coast; and with regard, to the coast of Sofala and the ancient Agysymba or Zimbaoe, its wealth in gold dust and minerals is celebrated by antiquity. The situation of the mountain Fura with the ruins mentioned, dos Santos defines briefly as “in the gold land ” (tracto do ouro). 3. The wealth also of East Africa in ivory (שֶׁנְהַבִּים, 2 Chronicles 9:21; 1 Kings 10:22) was much greater than that of India; apes also and precious stones the East African emporia could certainly furnish in great abundance. 4. The report of Herodotus iv. 42 concerning the circumnavigation of Africa by Necho, proves that the Phœnicians were wont to extend their voyages from the Red Sea far southward along the east coast of Africa. 5. The ruins lately discovered again by Mauch of the ancient Zimbaoe on the Fura or Afura mountains, with their rough cyclopean stone walls built without mortar, on an average fifteen feet thick and thirty feet high (see the particulars in Mauch’s letters to the missionaries Grützner and Merensky in Petermann as quoted, and in a recent letter of Mauch to the African traveller Ed. Mohr, published in the Weserzeitung, Dec. 1872), bear a very ancient stamp; the ornaments wrought on them point at least to a time before the Portuguese and the Arabs, and could apparently be derived only from the Phœnicians or Jews, because numerous cedar beams, employed apparently for ceilings, are found in them, and also because one of the two discovered buildings presents, as Mauch asserts, “an imitation of Solomon’s temple, a fortress and house of God at the same time” (?). But none of these reasons is decisive; for in regard to—1. The etymology Ophir = Afura, Fura, has about the same precarious value as the combination with the Sanscr. Abhira; Ofir or Ofar (Ofra; see No. 5) of South Arabia has at leas as good a claim to be taken for the biblical Ophir as that region of inner Africa first named by recent writers, which lies, moreover, 200 leagues landward from the coast of Sofala. To 2. Clear traces that the golden wealth of the region in question was known to the Phœnicians or to the people before the Christian era are still wanting. To 3. Along with ivory, apes, etc., the often quoted classical passages of the Old Testament name also quite distinctly the non-African products, peacocks and (probably) sandal-wood, as imported by the traders of Solomon. To 4. The circumnavigation of Africa under Necho proves nothing for a much earlier period; it is described by Herodotus quite distinctly as something unheard of, quite new and isolated; and from Ptolemy and the old geographers it is evident that the east coast of Africa was known and accessible to the ancients only as far as Prasum promont., the present Cape Delgado, 10–11° south lat., and not farther south. To 5. The existence of the ruins of Zimbaoe before the Portuguese and Arabs, the presence of cedar-wood (?), the supposed partial resemblance to the construction of Solomon’s temple, by no means prove its Phœnician or ancient Israelitish origin; to establish this would require much more exact and extensive investigations than those carried on by Mauch in his flying visit of last year (comp. also Petermann as quoted, p. 125).

5. The greatest abundance of probabilities, but certainly nothing more definite or decisive than probabilities, lies with those learned investigators who seek Ophir somewhere in South Arabia, as the Arabian geographers Edrisi and Abulfeda, partly also Bochart, further Niebuhr, Seetzen (in 5. Zach as quoted), Volney, Gosselin, Vincent, Rosenmüller, Gesenius, Ewald, Knobel (Völkertafel, p. 190 f.), Hitzig (Gesch. Israels, p. 156 f.), Bähr, and Keil (on 1 Kings 10:22), the English geographer C. Beke, the French traveller Jos. Halévy, Pressel also (Art. “Ophir” in Herzog as quoted), and Albr. Roscher (Ptolemäus und die Handelsstrassen in Centralafrika, Gotha 1857), the latter two with the peculiar modification that they take an island near the coast of South Arabia, perhaps Dahlak in the Red Sea (so especially Roscher), or Socotora (so Pressel), for the proper Ophir, whence Solomon’s traders fetched the various products mentioned. If now the latter assumption, which rests on the report by Eupolemus, in Euseb. Prœp. evang. ix. 30, of an “island Urphe or Uphre” (Οὐφήρ?) situated in the Erythræan Sea, rich in gold mines, and already found by David, appears very precarious on account of the doubtful character of its voucher, yet the following arguments, that are scarcely to be invalidated, speak for South Arabia in general: 1. In Genesis 10:29 occurs the name Ophir among the Joktanite tribes of South Arabia, and significantly indeed along with another tribe, that likewise bears the name of a gold land, Havilah (Genesis 2:11). 2. The Arabian geographer Edrisi knew in the present Oman in the south-east of Arabia no less than three places whose names accord with Ophir—are, indeed, essentially like in sound, namely—a. Ofar, two days’ journey landwards from Sohar, the present Sur; b. Afir or Ghafir in El Ahsa; c. A Mount Ofir in Bahrein (see Edrisi in Jaubert, i. 147, 152 ff.). 3. Many biblical passages attest the great wealth in gold of South Arabia, with special reference to Saba, situated in the south-west, as the account of the queen of Sheba in 2 Chronicles 9:0. (1 Kings 10:0); Psalms 72:15; Isaiah 60:6; Ezekiel 27:22; likewise more generally, without special reference to the south-west, several classical authors, as Strabo,16. pp. 777, 784; Diodorus, 2:50, 3:44, etc. (comp. Bochart, Phaleg, ii. 27). 4. The passages of Scripture testify in part that Arabia was rich also in precious stones, especially Isaiah 60:0. and Ezekiel 27:0; and Strabo, as quoted, attests that it produced silver, at least in the country of the Nabatæans. 5. The remaining products named in 2 Chronicles 9:10; 2 Chronicles 9:21, and 1 Kings 10:12; 1 Kings 10:22, which might come only from India, or only from Africa, as ivory, apes, peacocks, sandalwood, must be brought by Arabian and Indian traders to the marts of Arabia Felix, as well to the eastern (Oman, Ophir) as the western (Sheba) part of the south coast, and thence again exchanged into the Phœnician and Hebrew fleets. The high antiquity, reaching far beyond the time of Solomon, of such a trade through South Arabia of Hither Asia, at least with India (therefore also with Africa, especially with Æthiopia and Upper Egypt), is attested in the surest and fullest manner; see Lassen, Ind. Alterthumskunde, ii. 593–596; Movers, Phöniz. ii. 3, pp. 247, 256. If accordingly we are to seek Ophir with the greatest probability in south-eastern Arabia, the present Oman, there is still much that is obscure in reference to its situation, its mines and metals, its ports, its relation to the neighbouring Sabæa. More exact investigations into the situation of the regions in question, which Moslem fanaticism has almost secluded from Europeans, and for the scientific exploration of which important contributions have been made only in recent times, by 5. Wrede, W. Munzinger, Joseph Halévy, and H. v. Maltzan, will alone yield authentic disclosures in this direction. Whether we are warranted in making so sharp a separation of the Ophir of Genesis 10:29 as a country belonging to Arabia, and of that of the books of Kings and Chronicles as a region possibly far removed from Arabia, as the French Vivien de St. Martin declared to be necessary, against Jos. Halévy in a session of the Paris Geographical Society (comp. also F. v. Hellwald in the Ausland, 1872, No. 23, p. 536), appears doubtful. It is difficult to produce exegetical grounds for such a separation of the two Ophirs; the juxtaposition of that of Genesis besides a neighbouring Havilah, without doubt also a gold-producing district, appears to favour the opposite conclusion (see above, 1 [and Introd. § 6]).

[To the note at the end of § 6, Introd., may be added the following considerations: 1. It is obvious that the voyage to Ophir, 1Ki 9:28; 1 Kings 10:11, 2 Chronicles 8:18; 2 Chronicles 9:10, in quest of gold, almug-trees, and precious stones, was distinct from that to Tarshish, 1 Kings 10:22, 2 Chronicles 9:21, for gold, silver, ivory, apes, and peacocks, which was made in three years. 2. It is certain that the former, and most probable that the latter, voyage proceeded from Ezion-geber or Elath on the eastern gulf of the Red Sea, 1 Kings 9:26; 1Ki 22:48; 2 Chronicles 8:17; 2 Chronicles 20:36. In this way the trade of Solomon did not interfere with that of Hiram his ally, which proceeded directly from the seaboard of Phœnicia. 3. Ships going to Tarshish, which was the longer voyage, might visit Ophir by the way, 1Ki 22:48; 2 Chronicles 20:36. As Tarshish was of the line of Javan, and belonged to the west, his country could only be reached from the Red Sea by doubling the Cape of Good Hope. This would account for the three years spent on the voyage. It would also favour the probability that Ophir was to be found on the coast of the Bed Sea, either in Arabia or Africa, or both. 4. There are traces in Scripture of the name of a country, especially if it be also the name of the tribe, travelling with the tribe. Thus Asshur, Havilah, Cush, Tarshish, and Ophir may have changed their centre in the course of ages. In particular, Ophir may have had settlements on the east and west of the Red Sea; and Tarshish may have ranged over the south as well as the north of the Straits of Gibraltar. Hence Solomon’s traders may have met with Tarshish even on the gold coast of Africa, especially as the coast of this country was particularly inviting to ancient mariners from its slight indentations. As all this is possible, if not probable, we are not warranted in assuming a contradiction, or even an inaccuracy, in the report of the writer of Chronicles.—J. G. M.]


[1] אֲשֶׁר after וּמִן־בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל must apparently be erased, as it is wanting in some mss., and likewise in 1 Kings 9:22.

[2]For שָׂרֵי שָׁלִישָׁיו is perhaps to be read, as 1 Kings 9:0, וְשָׂרָיו וְשָׁלִישָׁיו, “and his captains and his knights.”

[3] Kethib; הַנְּצִיבִים (comp 1 Chronicles 18:13; 2 Chronicles 17:2); Keri: הַנִּצָּבִים (so 1 Kings 9:23).

[4]For מִצְוַת some mss. have מִמִּצְוַת, though the construction with סוּר by no means requires this change; comp. Ew. §282, a. As little is it necessary, on account of the sept. and Vulg., which have the plur. (ἐντολάς, mandatis regis), to point מִצְוֹת.

[5]It has been attempted to identify Parvaim with Barbatia, or Parbatia, a town standing, according to Plin. H. N. iv. 32, on the Tigris (Castell. Lex. heptagl. 3062); to affirm it=Sepharvaim, 2 Kings 17:24, on the one hand, and=Siphron, Numbers 34:8, on the other, and accordingly to refer it to the gold-bearing Chrysorrhoas in Syria (Harenberg, Brem., and Verd. Bibl. iv. 44); to explain the name as the same with Ophir, and identify the Parvaim-Ophir either wit Peru (Arias Mont., etc.; see above) or with Taprobane, now Ceylon (Bochart, Phaleg, ii. 2 Chronicles 27:0 : Hall. Allg. Welthistorie, iii. 413; and Starke, Synops. on 2 Chronicles 3:6); or lastly, to explain the name from the Indian, and so compare either the Sanscr. pûrva, “before eastern” (Wilford in Asiat. Researches, viii. 2Ch 276: Gesen. Th. ii. 1125), or paru, “mountain” (Parvaim = δίδυμα ὄρη), as Hitzig on Daniel 10:5, who, however, transfers this double mountain to South Arabia. Comp. also Leyrer’s (Art. “Parvaim” in Herzog’s Real.-Encycl.) reference to the Paryadros range on the gold-bearing Phasis in Colchis, as well as the combination of Knobel preferred in the text.

Bibliographical Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 8". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lcc/2-chronicles-8.html. 1857-84.
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