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1 Kings 4:1-28 – Solomon’s Administration

Summary

Solomon demonstrates his divinely given wisdom by reorganizing the political administration of Israel.

Analysis

In the book of Kings, Solomon's administrative organization resulting in a well-ordered bureaucracy is seen as part and parcel of Solomon's God-given wisdom. Again, the seeds of Solomon's destruction lie beneath the optimistic presentation:


•    Even the innocent looking list of cabinet officials in verses 1-6 augurs trouble when one realizes that the list includes those who had supported Solomon following David's death.
•    The secretary in charge of "forced labor" (v. 6, emphasis added) is a harbinger of the source of Solomon's collapse in chapters 11-12.
•    The same might be said for the extensive list of verses 7-19, as heavy taxation was also a key item in the revolt against Solomon's administration following his death. The list actually divides Israel into twelve districts, not necessarily aligned with the older tribal configurations, each with an officer who reported to Azariah son of Nathan, the cabinet official (v. 5). Each district was responsible for one month of royal support (vv. 22-23, 27-28). The result was centralized control for Solomon.
•    The NRSV reference to "Judah" in verse 19 is not present in the Hebrew text (it does appear in some Greek manuscripts). The verse should read, "There was one official (that is, Azariah, the cabinet official, in v. 5) over the land." If this is the proper reading, Judah's preferential treatment regarding the schedule of taxation must have been yet another avenue of dissent at the end of his reign.

1 Kings 4:1-28

Solomon’s Administrative Officers

4King Solomon was king over all Israel, 2and these were his high officials: Azariah son of Zadok was the priest; 3Elihoreph and Ahijah sons of Shisha were secretaries; Jehoshaphat son of Ahilud was recorder; 4Benaiah son of Jehoiada was in command of the army; Zadok and Abiathar were priests; 5Azariah son of Nathan was over the officials; Zabud son of Nathan was priest and king’s friend; 6Ahishar was in charge of the palace; and Adoniram son of Abda was in charge of the forced labour.

7 Solomon had twelve officials over all Israel, who provided food for the king and his household; each one had to make provision for one month in the year. 8These were their names: Ben-hur, in the hill country of Ephraim; 9Ben-deker, in Makaz, Shaalbim, Beth-shemesh, and Elon-beth-hanan; 10Ben-hesed, in Arubboth (to him belonged Socoh and all the land of Hepher); 11Ben-abinadab, in all Naphath-dor (he had Taphath, Solomon’s daughter, as his wife); 12Baana son of Ahilud, in Taanach, Megiddo, and all Beth-shean, which is beside Zarethan below Jezreel, and from Beth-shean to Abel-meholah, as far as the other side of Jokmeam; 13Ben-geber, in Ramoth-gilead (he had the villages of Jair son of Manasseh, which are in Gilead, and he had the region of Argob, which is in Bashan, sixty great cities with walls and bronze bars); 14Ahinadab son of Iddo, in Mahanaim; 15Ahimaaz, in Naphtali (he had taken Basemath, Solomon’s daughter, as his wife); 16Baana son of Hushai, in Asher and Bealoth; 17Jehoshaphat son of Paruah, in Issachar; 18Shimei son of Ela, in Benjamin; 19Geber son of Uri, in the land of Gilead, the country of King Sihon of the Amorites and of King Og of Bashan. And there was one official in the land of Judah.

Magnificence of Solomon’s Rule

20 Judah and Israel were as numerous as the sand by the sea; they ate and drank and were happy. 21*Solomon was sovereign over all the kingdoms from the Euphrates to the land of the Philistines, even to the border of Egypt; they brought tribute and served Solomon all the days of his life.

22 Solomon’s provision for one day was thirty cors of choice flour, and sixty cors of meal, 23ten fat oxen, and twenty pasture-fed cattle, one hundred sheep, besides deer, gazelles, roebucks, and fatted fowl. 24For he had dominion over all the region west of the Euphrates from Tiphsah to Gaza, over all the kings west of the Euphrates; and he had peace on all sides. 25During Solomon’s lifetime Judah and Israel lived in safety, from Dan even to Beer-sheba, all of them under their vines and fig trees. 26Solomon also had forty thousand stalls of horses for his chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen. 27Those officials supplied provisions for King Solomon and for all who came to King Solomon’s table, each one in his month; they let nothing be lacking. 28They also brought to the required place barley and straw for the horses and swift steeds, each according to his charge.

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10 February 2011

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