Solomon is ready to start work on the Temple; the house for God. He turns to experienced builders. The ones that built his father’s house.
David longed to build a permanent house for the Lord but God told him “No.” His hands were too ‘bloody’ for this. God promised that David’s son would build on instead. Now it is time to see that promise fulfilled.
I have no doubt that David passed on his plans for the Temple to Solomon. He probably grew up with a scale model in his room. David may not have included the grandeur that Solomon will incorporate into the final product in his smaller models but the basic dimensions were there for Solomon to study every day.
Something else that was there for Solomon to study every day was the house that king Hiram built for David. Early on in David’s rein over all Israel, king Hiram asked if he could build David a home. David agreed and his palace was built. It was beautiful! Solomon saw its beauty on a daily basis. David probably talked about it with Solomon. I would not be the least bit surprised if David didn’t tell Solomon to employ king Hiram to build the Temple because of the excellent work he had done on David’s home.
When it is time to build, the first person Solomon reaches out to is king Hiram. Solomon used sincere flattery to get Hiram on his work crew. “For you know that there is no one among us who knows hot wot cut timbers like the Sidonians” (verse 6b).
Construction of the Temple was a HUGE undertaking. Solomon even instituted a draft to ensure he had enough workers. I didn’t know this until today’s reading. I wonder if the draft rotated throughout all the tribes. Those drafted spent a month in Lebanon and two months back at home. Being that there are only three month of service listed, it may be that the people were rotated. Or the first group could have been sent back to start the cycle over again. The 30,000 listed as ‘forced labor’ is a very small percentage of the nation’s people. They were not the only ones from Israel working on this project but were the only ones listed as ‘forced labor’ from the ‘draft.’ “Solomon also had 70,000 burden-bearers and 80,000 stonecutters in the hill country, besides Solomon’s 3,300 chief officers who were over the work, who had charge of the people who carried out the work” (verses 15-16). Skilled and unskilled labor. Israel may not have known how to cut trees but they certainly knew how to cut stone.
King Hiram employed men all along the timber operation. In Sidon, at the sea, on the waterways to Israel and in Israel. Solomon’s men also worked all along the way. Their month in Sidon they worked side by side with king Hiram’s men. Did the Israelites working in Lebanon learn the trade of timber cutting or were they ‘fetch and carry’ labor only? Did king Hiram’s men learn stone cutting or were they strictly there to work with the timbers?
We are not told how long it took to do the Temple prep work but we will see tomorrow how long it took to actually build it. The length of time leads me to think even more that the laborers were rotated, especially if they were ‘fetch and carry’ men rather than craft trained.
Did the wives of those drafted care for the fields in their absence? Were those drafted spread out evenly between the tribes or was there a shortage of men in a tribe for a time? If it was spread out then neighbors could have helped take up the slack for the missing men. As Solomon is very wise, I’m sure he took this into consideration when gathering his workers. There was certainly no lack of employment in Israel during this time.
This is the first time we see Solomon “pay” for something. King Hiram’s wages for his part is Solomon’s supplying Hiram’s table. I’m assuming then that king Hiram paid his workers himself. Solomon supplied 20,000 cores of wheat and 20,000 cores of beaten oil every year. I went back and compared it to the numbers we looked at last time. They were the numbers of what was provided by each tribe for a month for Solomon’s table. Solomon required less if the fine flour was the only measure but the meal was slightly more than king Hiram’s requirement. This does not take into account the meat. With the meal and fine flour combined, Hiram’s family requirements of wheat and oil was 7,400 more than Solomon’s family needs. Again, no meat calculations were included. I wonder if their family sizes were close to one another’s? Did Solomon pay for this out of his own pocket or did he add that onto the ‘taxes’ during the years of building? I’m hoping for the second, otherwise Solomon got the Temple for free. Did he pay the workers from his own pocket or did the ‘state’ pay them? Did he pay them at all beyond their food and board? Again, I sincerely hope so.
God put the nation in a position where they could do this work. Their enemies were all under foot. Solomon had wisdom from God in how to deal with the nations around him. There was no drought or famine in the land. The people were plentiful. Without these blessings there wouldn’t have been enough freedom to focus on this task. God knew when the right time was. He is ALWAYS right on time.
He is ALWAYS right on time in our lives too. I’ve told you about some of my ‘right on time’ miracles with God so I won’t bore you by repeating them. Suffice it to say, even when I wish He would hurry up, the wait is never too long. He knows exactly what I need and when I need it.
Father God, thank You for sharing Your stories with me again. I learned something new today, again. I love finding new things in old stories. They are probably new because I didn’t pay close enough attention the other times through. Thanks for bring me back to them again. And for providing what I need exactly when I need it.