Saturday, February 6, 2016

Prophets And Kings, Day 7. Solomon's Officials

Prophets And Kings
Day 7
Solomon's Officials

Ours study today gives us the names and ranks of some of Solomons top officials. This section tells us what some of theirs duties are and a bit of background information. Sometimes passages in the Bible that are lists or genealogies seem difficult to spiritualize, but there are details in todays segment that I feel help us see them as real people. There are also some innerestin side notes here and there, plus a couple of fellows mentioned near the end who once tried to oppose Israel and wipe them out, but Israels faithful God defeated these wicked men. 

1 KINGS 4:1-28
"So King Solomon ruled over all Israel." (1 Kings 4:1) Solomon rules over a united Israel but later on, during the reign of his son, the nation will split into Israel and Judah. The ten northern tribes will rebel against the reign of Rehoboam while Judah and Benjamin will remain loyal to the house of David. Since Benjamin is such a small tribe, it is somewhat absorbed into Judah, and both tribes together are simply known as Judah.

"And these were his chief officials: Azariah son of Zadok---the priest;" (1 Kings 4:2) Zadok is the man who holds the office of high priest under Solomon's reign. Both Zadok and Azariah were friends to David, risking their lives to send him messages when Absalom took over the throne in Jerusalem.

"Elihoreph and Ahijah, sons of Shisha---secretaries;" (1 Kings 4:3a) It would appear from my research that they were secretaries of state. David had a secretary named Seraiah and I think it's likely he has either passed away or at some time was disloyal to David. Solomon was eager to reward men who had supported his father and I think if Seraiah was still around he would still hold a position in Solomon's court.

"Jehoshaphat son of Ahilud---recorder;" (1 Kings 4:3b) This same Jehoshaphat was David's recorder and Solomon keeps him on in that position.

"Benaiah son of Jehoiada---commander in chief;" (1 Kings 4:4a) We have already seen quite a bit of Benaiah, the man who holds the job of the late Joab as captain of Israel's entire army. He has proven fiercely loyal to anything Solomon commands and has proven himself a worthy general on the battlefield. 

"Zadok and Abiathar---priests;" (1 Kings 4:4b) We learned earlier in our study of 1st Kings that Solomon banished Abiathar from the nation's capitol because he supported Adonijah in his bid for the throne, against David's wishes. This makes Abiathar a traitor to the house of David and he cannot be trusted. The author of 1st Kings lists him as a priest, which indeed he was, but he is no longer able to perform the office of priest because of his actions. Some commentators believe he held onto the title of priest for the rest of his life, that it could not be taken away.

"Azariah son of Nathan---in charge of the district governors; Zabud son of Nathan---a priest and adviser to the king;" (1 Kings 4:5) Solomon rewards the loyalty of Nathan the prophet by giving high ranking positions to his sons. If not for Nathan and his swift action in taking the problem of Adonijah to the king, Solomon wouldn't even be on the throne right now. Nathan was the kind of friend to David that all of us need: a friend who loves us but isn't afraid to tell us the truth. I would be willing to bet the prophet would have laid down his life to defend David but he was also willing to confront David with his grievous sins concerning Bathsheba and her husband Uriah. The phrase the NIV renders about Zabud being "a priest and adviser to the king" would better be translated as "principal officer and the king's friend" as the KJV words it. Zabud is a very close counselor to Solomon, a good friend, as his father Nathan was to David.

"Ahishar---palace administrator;" (1 Kings 4:6a) This man is the steward over Solomon's household, which is the palace.

"Adoniram son of Abda---in charge of forced labor;" (1 Kings 4:6b) This man oversees what in the USA would have at one time been called the "chain gang". Prisoners in Israel were sent out to work on projects for the king. Their labor built official buildings, roads, walls, and anything else that benefited the government.

"Solomon had twelve district governors over all Israel, who supplied provisions for the king and the royal household. Each one had to provide supplies for one month in the year." (1 Kings 4:7) Solomon divided the nation into twelve districts and each district had one month out of the year in which they had to provide vegetable produce, grain, and meat for the king's household. It was a form of taxation but did not involve money. It is also quite a fair system, not overly taxing the people.

"These are their names: Ben-Hur in the hill country of Ephraim;" (1 Kings 4:8) I double-checked this just to be sure but the Ben-Hur of the Charleton Heston movie is a fictional character, so he's not related to this man, but Ben-Hur is still a good movie and one of my husband's favorites.

"Ben-Deker---in Makaz, Shaalbim, Beth Shemesh and Elon Bethhanan; Ben-Hesed---in Arubboth (Sokoh and all the land of Hepher were his); Ben-Abinadab---in Napoth Dor (he was married to Taphath daughter of Solomon);" (1 Kings 4:9-11) We find that Ben-Abinadab (son of Abinadab) was son-in-law to the king.

"Baana son of Ahilud---in Taanach and Megiddo, and in all of Beth Shan next to Zerethan below Jezreel, from Beth Shan to Abel Meholah across to Jokmeam;" (1 Kings 4:12) On a side note, Megiddo is where the battle of Armageddon takes place in the book of Revelation. The word "Armageddon" comes from the Hebrew "Har Megiddo" which means something like "mount Megiddo" or "the hill of Megiddo". This Baana is evidently the son of the same man who is father to Jehoshaphat, Solomon's recorder.

"Ben-Geber---in Ramoth Gilead (the settlements of Jair son of Manasseh in Gilead were his, as well as the region of Argob in Bashan and its sixty large walled cities with bronze gate bars); Ahinadab son of Iddo---in Mahanaim; Ahimaaz---in Naphtali (he had married Basemath daughter of Solomon);" (1 Kings 4:13-15) We find here another son-in-law employed by Solomon. He is like David, employing family members whenever possible.

"Baana son of Hushai---in Asher and in Aloth; Jehoshaphat son of Paruah---in Issachar; Shimei son of Ela---in Benjamin;" (1 Kings 4:18) This is not the Shimei that David had put to death, for he was the son of a man named Gera. It's interesting that both these men named Shimei have connections to the tribe of Benjamin but perhaps that was a common name there. 

"Geber son of Uri---in Gilead (the country of Sihon king of the Amorites and the country of Og king of Bashan). He was the only governor over the district." (1 Kings 4:19) These two kings mentioned here, Sihon and Og, were giants. They were descendants of those known as the Rephaim, a tribe of giants in the land of Canaan when Israel came to enter the promised land. In Numbers 21 King Sihon refused to allow the Israelites to pass through his territory. All they wanted was to use his road; they promised not to detour to the right or the left or to take anything from his land. Instead King Sihon mustered his army against Israel and attacked them. But the Lord was with Israel and they defeated the army. Now we see today that one of Solomon's governors is taking tribute from the region that once belonged to this wicked king. God has been faithful to Israel. 

King Og of Bashan also resisted the Israelites with the force of his army but the Lord was with Israel, helping them to defeat this wicked king, and today we learn that Bashan must pay tribute to Solomon. Deuteronomy 3 tells us that Og was the last of his kind, the final giant of the people known as the Rephaim, and that his bed was nine cubits long and four cubits wide. This means the bed was about fourteen feet long and six feet wide. The sight of such a man must have been terrifying. His great size and the size of his army gave King Og the impression he could stand against anyone, even God's chosen people. But if God is for us, who can be against us? No giant could stand before Israel. No giant could stand before David or David's men. There is no need for a child of God to fear someone's status or power. If God is on our side, who else do we need?

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