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Bible Commentaries
2 Chronicles 9

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

Verses 1-31

β. The Visit of the Queen of Sheba: 2 Chronicles 9:1-12

ch 9:1.And the queen of Sheba heard the fame of Solomon, and she came to prove Solomon with riddles to Jerusalem, with a very great company, and camels bearing spices, and gold in abundance, and precious stones; and she 2came to Solomon, and spake to him of all that was in her heart. And Solomon answered her all her questions, and there was nothing hid from Solomon 3that he answered her not. And the queen of Sheba saw the wisdom of Solomon, and the house that he had built. 4And the meat for his table, and the sitting of his servants, and the attendance of his ministers, and their apparel, and his cup-bearers, and their apparel, and his ascent1 by which he went up to the house of the Lord; and there was no more spirit in her. 5And she said to the king, True was the word that I heard in my land of thy affairs, 6and of thy wisdom. And I believed not their words, until I came, and mine eyes had seen; and, behold, the half of the greatness of thy wisdom was not told me: thou exceedest the fame that I heard. 7Happy are thy men, and happy are these thy servants, who stand continually before thee, and hear thy Wisdom 8 Blessed be the Lord thy God, who delighted in thee, to set thee on His throne as king for the Lord thy God; because thy God loved Israel, to establish him for ever, and make thee king over them, to do judgment and righteousness.

9And she gave the king a hundred and twenty talents of gold, and spices in great abundance, and precious stones; and there was no such spice as that which the queen of Sheba gave King Solomon. And also the servants of Huram, 10and the servants of Solomon, who brought gold from Ophir, brought sandal-wood and precious stones. 11And the king made of the sandal-wood walks for the house of God and the king’s house, and harps and psalteries for singers: and none such were seen before in the land of Judah. 12And King Solomon gave to the queen of Sheba all her desire, whatsoever she asked, besides that which she had brought unto the king; and she turned, and went away to her own land, she and her servants.

γ. Solomon’s Pomp, Riches, and Glory 2 Chronicles 9:13-28

13And the weight of the gold which came to Solomon in one year was six 14hundred and sixty and six talents of gold. Besides that which chapmen2 and merchants brought; and all the kings of Arabia and governors of the country brought gold and silver to Song of Solomon 1:0; Song of Solomon 1:05And King Solomon made two hundred targets of beaten gold; six hundred [shekels] of beaten gold laid he on one target. 16And three hundred shields of beaten gold; three hundred [shekels] of gold laid he on one shield; and the king put them in the house of the forest 17of Lebanon. And the king made a great throne of ivory, and overlaid it with pure gold. 18And there were six steps to the throne, and a footstool was fastened to the throne with gold, and arms on each side of the seat, and two lions stood beside the arms. 19And twelve lions stood there on the six steps on each side; the like was not made in any kingdom. 20And all the drinking vessels of King Solomon were of gold, and all the vessels in the house of the forest of Lebanon were of precious gold; silver was of no account in the days of Song of Solomon 2:0; Song of Solomon 2:01For the king’s ships went to Tarshish with the servants of Huram: once in three years came the ships of Tarshish, and brought gold and silver, ivory and apes, and peacocks.

22And King Solomon was greater in riches and wisdom than all the kings of the earth. 23And all the kings of the earth sought the face of Solomon, to hear his wisdom, that God had put in his heart. 24And they brought each his gift, vessels of silver and of gold, and garments, armour and spices, horses and mules, a rate year by year. 25And Solomon had four thousand stalls for horses and chariots, and twelve thousand riders; and he placed them in the chariotcities, 26and with the king at Jerusalem. And he was ruling over all kings from the river unto the land of the Philistines, and to the border of Egypt. 27And the king made silver in Jerusalem as stones, and he made the cedars as the sycamores that are in the Shephelah for abundance. 28And they brought horses to Solomon out of Egypt and out of all lands.

δ. Close of the History of Solomon: 2 Chronicles 9:29-31

29And the rest of the acts of Solomon, first and last, are they not written in the words of Nathan the prophet, and in the prophecy of Ahijah the Shilonite, and in the visions of Iddi 3 the seer, concerning Jeroboam the son of Nebat? 30And Solomon reigned in Jerusalem over all Israel forty years. 31And Solomon slept with his fathers, and they buried him in the city of David his father; and Rehoboam his son reigned in his stead.


On account of the mostly verbal agreement of the first two of these three sections with 1 Kings 10:0, and of the last with 1 Kings 11:41-43, we have only to explain the peculiarities of the present text. For the rest, the expositors of the book of Kings are to be compared.

1. Visit of the Queen of Sheba: 2 Chronicles 9:1-12; comp. 1 Kings 10:1-13.—And the queen of Sheba heard the fame of Solomon. The difficult addition to “the fame of Solomon” in 1 Kings: “concerning the name of the Lord,” is wanting here, whether intentionally or by inadvertence is doubtful.

2 Chronicles 9:4. And his ascent by which he went up. Whether, according to 1 Kings 10:5, וְעֹלָתוֹ וגו׳, “and his burnt-offerings, which he offered,” is to be read here also with the old translations (and Josephus, Antiq. viii. 6. 5), it is difficult to decide. Bähr takes our reading to be original, and therefore to be restored in 1 Kings.—And there was no more spirit in her, she was beside herself; comp. Joshua 2:11; Joshua 5:1.

2 Chronicles 9:6. And I believed not their words; 1 Kings: “I believed not the words.”—The half of the greatness of thy wisdom was not told me. Slightly different is the phrase in 1 Kings (see Bähr). On מַרְבִּית, “multitude, fulness,” comp. 1 Chronicles 12:29; 2 Chronicles 30:18; Leviticus 25:37.

2 Chronicles 9:8. To set thee on His throne as king for the Lord. More simply in 1 Kings: “To set thee on the throne, of Israel”; as also, in that which immediately follows, the circumstantial “to establish him” (לְהַֽעֲמִידוֹ) is there wanting, and “for ever” (לְעוֹלָם) is attached as an adverb to “loved.”

2 Chronicles 9:10. And also the servants of Huram, and the servants of Solomon. In 1 Kings more briefly: “and also the ships of Hiram.” For the then mentioned algum or sandal-wood, see on 2 Chronicles 2:7, and the excursus after 2 Chronicles 8:0, No. 3.

2 Chronicles 9:11. And the king made . . . walks, not “stairs” (Luther) or “seats” (Thenius, after the Pesch.), but raised walks, pavements, so that these מְסִלּוֹת of our text are essentially the same with the מִסְעָד of 1 Kings (explained by Raschi as רצפה, tesselated pavement).

2 Chronicles 9:12. Besides that which she had brought to the king, besides the gifts in return (equivalents) for that which was presented by her, but more clearly in 1 Kings 10:13. The emendation of Bertheau: אֲשֶׁר הֵבִיא לָהּ for אֲשֶׁר הֵבִיאָה אֶל־, is unnecessary; the rendering of the Vulg.: et multo plura quam attulerat ad eum, is inexact and extravagant.

2. Solomon’s Riches, Pomp, and Glory: 2 Chronicles 9:13-28; comp. 1 Kings 10:14-22.—Besides that which the chapmen and merchants brought, literally, “irrespective of the chapmen . . . bringing” (who brought). אַנְשֵׁי הַתֹּרִים are properly spies (Numbers 14:6; Numbers 34:2), here spying, travelling about for trade; this phrase, substantially agreeing with the following סֹחֲרִים (Genesis 23:16), was not understood by the old translators; hence the Vulg. has legati diversarum gentium (followed by Berth, and Bähr, 1 Kings 10:15 : envoys), the Sept.: πλὴν τῶν�; Syr. and Arab.: “besides the tribute of the cities” (הֶעָרִים for הַתֹּרִים and perhaps מִמֶּכֶם for מֵאַנְשֵׁי)

2 Chronicles 9:16. Three hundred (shekels) of gold laid he on one shield. For this 1 Kings 10:17 has “three pounds of gold to one shield,” merely a verbal difference, as the mina contains a hundred shekels.

2 Chronicles 9:18. And a footstool fastened to the throne with gold. The participle מָֽאֳחָזִים, “fastened.” (or “enclosed”), refers to the two preceding objects, the steps and the footstool. It is certainly not impossible that originally וְרֹאשׁ עָגוֹל לַכִּסֵּה מֵאַֽחֲרָיו “and the top of the throne was round from behind,” as in 1 Kings 10:19, stood in the text; comp. Thenius and Berth.

2 Chronicles 9:21. For the king’s ships went to Tarshish. It is most obvious to regard אֳנִיּוֹת הֹלְכוֹת תַּרְשִׁישׁ as a mistaken paraphrase of the original and usual phrase, found also in 1 Kings 10:22 : אֳנִיּות תַּרְשִׁישׁ, “Tarshish-traders” (comp. our East-Indiamen), and thus not find in our passage an actual testimony for voyages of Solomon to Tartessus by the Red Sea (comp. Introd. § 6, No. 5, and the excursus at the end of 2 Chronicles 8:0, No. 1). The mistake which is here made by the Chronist standing far away from the events, appears precisely similar to that which occurs in 2 Chronicles 2:7 of our book, relative to the algum-trees to be sent from Lebanon, which Solomon desired of Huram (see on this passage). Only if we might understand (with Quatremère, Seetzen, etc.; comp. the excursus on Ophir, No. 1) by Tarshish a place different from Tartessus, or Spain, situated eastward, as the promontory Tarsis in the Persian Gulf, which Nearchus doubled with the fleet of Alexander (comp. the supposed Ταρσιάς mentioned by Arrian, Ind. xxxvii. 9), may the charge of an error be removed from our author (to which also Petermann seems inclined in his Geogr. Mittheilungen, 1872, iv. p. 126). For the other statements of our verse, see the excursus on 2 Chronicles 8:0. already quoted.

2 Chronicles 9:25. And Solomon had four thousand stalls for horses. The numerous deviations now following to the close of the section (2 Chronicles 9:28) from 1 Kings 10:26-29, are explained by this, that our author had already introduced, 2 Chronicles 1:14-17, an account of Solomon’s chariots, horses, and horse-trading with Egypt (see on this passage), for which reason in the present place he partly contrasts (especially 2 Chronicles 9:28) that which refers to these things, and partly completes it by reports from 1 Kings 5:1; 1 Kings 5:6; comp. Bähr on these passages.

3. Close of the History of Solomon: 2 Chronicles 9:29-31; comp. 1 Kings 11:41-43, where, however, instead, of the three sources named by our author, 2 Chronicles 9:29, reference is made merely to the “book of the history of Solomon.” For 2 Chronicles 9:29 f., see Introd. § 5, II.

2 Chronicles 9:30. And Solomon reigned . . . forty years. Instead of forty years, Hitzig (Gesch. des V. Isr. pp. 10 and 161 f.) claims 60 years for the reign of Solomon, because Josephus assigns to the very youthful king, who came to the throne at the age of not more than 20 years (comp. 1 Kings 3:7), an age of 80 or even 94 years (Antiq.viii. 7. 8). But that the reports of Josephus concerning the reign of Solomon are confused and self-contradictory, has been shown by Bengel, Ordo temp. p. 95, who has also correctly harmonized the 41 years of Rehoboam when he ascended the throne with the 40 years of the reign of Solomon attested by our passage and 1 Kings 11:42; comp. Winer, Realwörterb., Art. “Salomo,” p. 365.

evangelical and ethical reflections, apologetic and homiletic thoughts, on 2 Chronicles 1-9

The statement of the Chronist does not differ quite so much from the history of Solomon in 1 Kings 1-11 in its compass and arrangement, as his statement of the history of David from its older parallel in the books of Samuel; in particular, he has not found it necessary in Solomon to go over a previous history of so great weight as that of David in 1 Samuel; and therefore so important insertions and expansions in the inner and religious side of the reign of Solomon were not requisite as in that of David. Yet the form given by him to the history of Solomon’s reign deviates from that in 1 Kings, in a way that is characteristic of his theocratic position and pragmatism, in which recurs all that peculiarity which distinguishes his conception and treatment of the history of David.

1. The Levitico-religious element comes out very strong, partly in those brief insertions concerning the co-operation of the priests, Levites, and singers in the festivals, as 2 Chronicles 5:11-13 (1 Kings 8:10), 2 Chronicles 8:12-16 (1 Kings 9:25), partly in the fact that our author transfers from the old statement into his own all that serves to signalize the external pomp and glory of Solomon’s reign, but not likewise all that relates to his wisdom. Thus we miss in him the narrative of the wise sentence concerning the two contending mothers (1 Kings 3:16-28 and the description of his wisdom and learning, surpassing all the sons of the east, and all the wise men of Egypt, displaying itself in thousands of proverbs and songs (1 Kings 5:9-14); whereas of that which serves to characterize his great pomp and might, irrespective of the list of his court-officers and twelve princes, 1 Kings 4:1-20, not only is nothing omitted, but some things appear purposely enhanced by the omission of less favourable trials and circumstances; in particular, the account of the cities received from Huram of Tyre, 2 Chronicles 8:1 f. (see on the passage). It is therefore not so much Solomon the incomparably wise as Solomon the incomparably glorious theocratic ruler whose picture he wished to draw. The glory, especially that which displays itself in the rich unfolding of the religious life (comp. Matthew 6:29), forms the chief immediate object of his representation, not the wisdom, that other quality of the great king set forth as pre-eminently wonderful in the words of Jesus (comp. Matthew 12:42).

2. That, from the effort to glorify Solomon as much as possible, some facts of his history adverse to this end have been designedly omitted by our author, is evident partly from his proceeding in the same way in the history of David, and partly from the comparison of his narrative with that of the book of Kings. Neither the particulars of Solomon’s ascending the throne and beginning his reign, of which those relating to the removal of three evil-doers—Adonijah, Joab, and Shimei—would have cast a less favourable light on his character (see 1 Kings 2:0), are related by him, nor is anything mentioned of the evening of his life, disturbed on the one hand by intercourse with idolatrous wives (1 Kings 11:1-13), and on the other by unfortunate wars and rebellions (by Hadad, Rezon, and Jeroboam). Not as if the charge of dishonest colouring or violent suppression of the truth could he made against our author on account of those omissions. He betrays, on many occasions, with sufficient clearness, his acquaintance with the omitted facts. As he had alluded (1 Chronicles 24:24) to the suppression and punishment of the rebellion of Adonijah at the close of his history of David, so he betrays his knowledge of the revolt of Jeroboam in the closing remark of the present section (2 Chronicles 9:29); alludes a little before to the conflicts with Rezon and Hadad (2 Chronicles 8:4; see on the passage); indicates, by the manner in which he mentions the Egyptian king’s daughter, his acquaintance with the corrupt influence of foreign wives during Solomon’s reign; and afterwards, in the introduction of his history of Rehoboam (2 Chronicles 10:3 f.), he does not ignore the account given in the book of Kings of the murmuring of the people dissatisfied with his severity and partial misgovernment. In short, that his reign did not altogether warrant the name Shelomoh (peaceful, prince of peace), that its splendour in a religious and moral respect was tarnished by many dark spots, and hence the heavy judgments (2 Chronicles 7:19-22) that were pronounced by God on him and his descendants began already to take partial effect—all this appears by no means unknown to our author. Already the names of the three prophets whom he quotes, 2 Chronicles 9:0, as guarantees for his statement, are a sufficient security that to him was imparted a knowledge of those facts that form, as it were, the dark side of the otherwise so splendid appearance of the wise and glorious prince, in no less fulness than to the author of the book of Kings (who, on his part, does not expressly mention these prophetic vouchers), but that it did not lie in his plan to add certain dark parts to the bright and glowing picture of Solomon’s glorious kingdom, the like of which no king over Israel had had (1 Chronicles 29:25). It may be that, if Solomon’s fall into lust and idolatry had been ascertained and credibly reported to him as a transient darkening of his life-path, from which he at length recovered in genuine repentance, he would not have passed in silence over that sad blot on his fame, but would have given to his history such a close as that of Manasseh (2 Chronicles 33:1-20). But he certainly had not found in his sources any more trace than the author of Kings of such closing repentance of the deeply fallen prince.4 He therefore preferred to cast the mantle of silence over the last times of the prince whom it was now his concern to paint as the ideal of that theocratic glory δόξα, Matthew 6:29) long before his time become proverbial among the people.

3. The statement of the Chronist would then only deserve the reproach of historical untrust-worthiness, if in an intrinsically incredible direction it departed far from that of the parallel account, and exhibited from beginning to end a greater number of legendary exaggerations of that which is there related into the miraculous. But of such propensity to apocryphal legendary distortion of his materials no trace is to be discovered in our author. The partial deviations in his numbers from those of the older parallel text are by no means to be regarded as exaggerations of smaller proportions there given; they rest often on purely external and accidental corruptions of the text (as, for example, 2 Chronicles 8:18, the 450 talents of gold from Ophir, instead of the 420 of the book of Kings; and 2 Chronicles 3:4, the 120 cubits height of the porch of the temple), or run out into mere apparent contradictions and misunderstandings (as, for example, with regard to the quantities of provisions for the woodmen, 2 Chronicles 2:9, and the number of overseers; see on 2 Chronicles 2:7; 2 Chronicles 8:10); and in several decisive cases, where, a later exaggerator would have found special occasion for excess, he agrees to the letter with the author of 1 Kings, as in the 22,000 oxen and 120,000 sheep at the dedication of the temple (2 Chronicles 7:5), in the determination of the yearly revenue of Solomon at 666 talents of gold (2 Chronicles 9:13), etc. And elsewhere, that which at first sight looks like an historical exaggeration, reduces itself mostly to misunderstood or, if we will, inadequate expressions of the later historian, who is far removed from the events described, as in the cases mentioned in 2 Chronicles 2:7; 2 Chronicles 9:21, perhaps also 2 Chronicles 8:1-2. The sole important event of a miraculous character with which the Chronist has enlarged the history of Solomon, compared with that in the book of Kings, is that which he records, 2 Chronicles 7:1-3, of the consecration of the sacrifice in the new temple by fire from heaven, a fact which he has handed down in his representation of the history of David, in a passage where the older narrative has nothing of the kind (1 Chronicles 21:26). Suspicion is excited here partly by the position of the fact after Solomon’s long prayer of dedication, whereas the entrance of the glory of the Lord into the new house of God was placed before it (as also in 1 Kings), partly by the complete silence of the older reporter concerning the second miracle, in place of which he introduces an address of Solomon to the assembled people (1 Kings 8:55-61). But as the separation of the probably single miraculous fact into two acts does not appear inexplicable in the magnitude and strongly evangelical import of the whole scene in question (let us bear in mind also the uncommonly great number of the sacrifices offered on the numerous altars occupying the whole inner court; see on 2 Chronicles 7:7), so the silence of the author of 1 Kings concerning a miracle of surpassingly religious (Levitical and priestly) interest cannot be deemed strange or unaccountable, if we properly weigh the prominently theocratic and prophetic interest by which this older writer is influenced; comp. Keil, p. 2Ch 247: “To communicate this speech of Solomon (1 Kings 8:55 ff.) to the people quite accords with the plan of the book of Kings, in which the prophetical aspect of the realization of the divine counsel of grace, by the doing and suffering of the kings, prevails; whereas the more minute entering into the history of worship was remote from his plan. The mention of the fire which consumed the sacrifices we should consider warranted in the book of Kings, only if the temple had been thereby consecrated for the abode of the divine gracious presence, or for a sanctuary of the Lord. But the consuming of the victim by divine fire had not this import. Jehovah consecrated the temple for the dwelling-place of His name, for the seat of his gracious presence, only in this way, that in the introduction of the ark into the most holy place He manifested his presence by the cloud filling the sanctuary. The consuming of the sacrifice on the altar by fire from heaven was the confirmatory sign only for this, that He who sat on the mercy-seat in the temple will graciously accept the offerings to be made on the altar of this temple; and, as the people could only approach the Lord before the altar with sacrifice, a confirmation for the people that He from His throne will apply His covenant grace to those who present their offerings before Him; comp. Leviticus 9:23 f. For the plan of the author of Chronicles, namely, to depict exactly the glory of the worship of the past, this divine confirmation of the sacrificial worship, that was to be continually performed in the temple as the only legitimate place of worship, by fire from heaven, was so important a matter, that it could not be omitted, whereas the blessing pronounced by Solomon on the people, as already contained implicate in the prayer of consecration, did not seem so important as to be admitted into his work.”

4. On Solomon’s great wealth, as it is repeatedly described, especially 2 Chronicles 1:14 ff; 2 Chronicles 9:13 ff., Bengel (on 2 Chronicles 9:27) makes the striking remark: “It is strange how soon so much can be accumulated and again vanish away! Men could not endure it if it were always so; they would wander from God, and be distracted by the creatures; as Solomon himself did not long act well. He had the benefit of David as his father; he had gone through tribulation, whereas Solomon entered at once on possession! That is a weighty difference.” Comp., with regard to homiletic hints, on the history of Solomon, the Copious remarks of Bähr on 1 Kings 1:11 (Bibelw. vol. vii.).


[1] וַֽעֲלִיתוֹ “and his ascent, his stair,” is exhibited by all the Hebrew mss.; whereas the old translations uniformly read, with the Heb. text, 1 Kings 10:5 : וְעֹלָתוֹ, “and his burnt-offerings, which he offered,” etc.

[2]On the very divergent variants of the old translations of אַנְשֵׁי הַתֹּרִים, see Exeg. Expl.

[3] Kethib יֶעְדִּוֹ, Keri יֶעְדּוֹ. Doubtless the same prophet is meant who is elsewhere called עִדּוֹ (2 Chronicles 12:15; 2 Chronicles 13:22).

[4]See in general, against this hypothesis, which might find support at most in the of itself quite problematical and little probable composition by Solomon of the book Coheleth (and in this view has recently been defended by Bernh. Schäfer in his Neuen Untersuchungen über das Buch Koheleth, Freiburg 1870, and by Mart. Stier in Jahrg. 1870, part iii. of the Zeitschrift für luth. Theologie and Kirche), Hengstenberg, Gesch. des Reiches Gottes im Alten Bunde, iii. p. 142, and Bähr in vol. 6. of the Bibelw. p. 108 ff.

Bibliographical Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 9". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lcc/2-chronicles-9.html. 1857-84.
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