Avraham ben Yaakov
II CHRONICLES CHAPTER 8
With the completion of the Temple the Shechinah came to dwell on earth, and during the reign of Solomon the kingdom on earth fully reflected the heavenly kingdom just as in the middle of the lunar month the moon (MALCHUS) is directly aligned to the sun (TIFERES) and reflects its light to perfection. Solomon's reign was thus a time of splendor and glory in which peace reigned throughout the land and kings, queens and princes came to listen to his wisdom.
V 2: "And as for the cities that HIRAM GAVE TO SOLOMON, Solomon built them and settled Israelites there." In I Kings 9:12-13 we only hear of twenty cities that SOLOMON GAVE TO HIRAM in the Galilee (which in fact did not find favor in Hiram's eyes) while in our present text we only hear of these cities that HIRAM GAVE TO SOLOMON. In the words of Metzudas David (ad loc.): "This is the way of the Biblical text: what one verse passes over in silence another reveals." RaDaK (ad loc.) suggests that Hiram gave Solomon cities in his own land in which the latter settled Israelites in order to keep them in his possession, while Solomon gave Hiram cities in the Galilee in order to strengthen the covenant between the two of them.
In sad contrast to the international amity that prevailed in the time of Solomon, in today's Middle East the Arabs demand the right to settle the entire Land of Israel while strictly prohibiting any Israelis from taking up residence in any of their territories. But at a time when the earthly kingdom truly reflects the heavenly kingdom as in the reign of Solomon, it is possible for the kind of "population exchange" that is indicated by our present text in Chronicles and that in Kings, in which Israelites can live at peace in the territories of other nations and vice versa.
V 4: "And he built Tadmor in the wilderness." Rashi (ad loc.) notes that in I Kings 9:18 its name is written in the parchment scroll as TAMOR (the "KSIV") although it is traditionally pronounced as TADMOR (the "KRI"). Rashi quotes the Talmud Yevamos (16a) as saying that converts are not accepted from the TARMOODIM, citing Bereishis Rabbah on the Akeidah giving the reason as being because they assisted Israel's enemies, thereby CHANGING themselves (HEIMEERO, from the same root as TAMOR, cf. TEMURAH). "This is why in Kings the name is written as TAMOR having the connotation of exchange (TEMURAH) because they should have acted kindly towards Israel just as Israel acted kindly to them. However in honor of Solomon the text here in Chronicles does not call it TAMOR but TADMOR, a city of importance, as it would not be an honor to Solomon to say here that he built a city that rebelled against him" (Rashi on v 4). [Kabbalistically, the HEICHALEY TEMUROS, "Palaces of Exchanges", are the source of all the confusion in this world in which evil appears to be good and vice versa; see Rabbi Nachman's comments on his story of The Exchanged Children, Rabbi Nachman's Stories p. 231.]
In fact, even in the reign of Solomon the seeds were planted for the disasters that befell Israel later on, particularly through the degeneration that set in as a result of his marriage to the daughter of Pharaoh (v 11), but in honor of the House of David, Chronicles glozes over the negative aspects, focusing only on the positive.
Thus our text describes how Solomon built, embellished and consolidated his kingdom on all sides (vv 3-6 and 17f). While the Canaanites who still remained in the land despite the Israelite conquest were usually a thorn in their sides, during the reign of Solomon they were fully subjugated and set to work to build the Torah kingdom, while the Israelites directed the work (vv 7-9). The Temple functioned in accordance with all the laws of the Torah and the arrangements of the Cohanim and Levites in their various orders as established by David (vv 12-16).
We cannot call the visit of the Queen of Sheba to Solomon a case of "international cultural EXCHANGE" because although the two exchanged many kinds of material gifts, the cultural influence was all in one direction, from Solomon to the Queen of Sheba.
The Targum calls her the Queen of Z'MARGAD (=Emerald? Turquoise? Cf. Targum on Ex. 28:18). Likewise the Targum on Job 1:15, "And SHEVA struck and took [Job's cattle]," renders: "And Lilith the Queen of Z'MARGAD attacked", thereby linking the Queen of Sheba with the legendary queen of the demons. As discussed in KNOW YOUR BIBLE on I Kings ch 10, there is a Talmudic opinion stating that "whoever says that the Queen of Sheba was a woman is simply mistaken; what is MALKHAS Sheba? It is the kingdom (MAMLEKHES) of Sheba !" (Bava Basra 15b). However, Maharsha (ad loc.) explains that all the Talmud means here is that the Queen of Sheba was not merely the wife-consort of a King of Sheba but that she was actually a Queen in her own right, and the classical rabbinic commentators relate to the story of her visit on the level of PSHAT as a visit paid by one monarch to another.
Sheba is traditionally associated with Ethiopia , although the Arabs venerate a Temple of the Queen of Sheba in Yemen . It is quite plausible that the sea-faring Ethiopian kingdom colonized and held sway over the Arabian coastline, which is quite nearby across the Red Sea . It was doubtless through King Solomon's trading ventures from the Red Sea port of Eilat as described in the previous chapter (II Chron. 8:17) that his fame spread to Sheba.
According to Rashi (on v 4) what impressed the Queen of Sheba about Solomon's table was the geese and other abundant delicacies, while the way his servants sat impressed her because each one knew his proper place according to his rank. Each stood at his post of duty without changing it every day, yet the apparel they wore today they would not wear tomorrow! She was particularly impressed by the special pathways by which he would ascend to the House of HaShem (for Solomon, everything led to HaShem) - ".and there was no more spirit in her". "She used to think that there was no wisdom in any of the other kingdoms except for hers, because her land was in the east and for this reason they were exceptionally wise because they gazed at the constellations. but 'the wisdom of Solomon was more abundant than all the wisdom of the children of the east' (I Kings 5:10; Rashi on I Chron. 9:4).
V 17: "And the king made a great throne of ivory and he coated it with pure gold." Solomon's throne - which expressed how the earthly kingdom reflects the heavenly kingdom - is the subject of an abundantly rich tapestry of midrashic embellishment collected at very great length in Targum Sheni on Esther verse 2. According to Targum Sheni on Esther, it was made for Solomon by Hiram the craftsman to symbolize Solomon's rule over all aspects of creation, but as a result of our sins it was captured by Nebuchadnezzar and taken to Babylon , after which it finally came to the hands of Ahasuerus. The latter was unable to sit on it and was forced to order his craftsman to make an inferior version in order to make it appear as if he was sitting on the throne of Solomon.
V 29: "And the other acts of Solomon, the first and the last, are written in the words of Nathan the Prophet and in the prophecy of Ahiyah the Shilonite and in the visions of Yedo the seer against Jeraboam son of Nevat." According to Rashi, the "words of Nathan" are contained in II Samuel 12:1-25 while the prophecy of Ahiyah is in I Kings 11:29-31.
V 30: "And Solomon ruled in Jerusalem over all Israel for forty years." In this respect Solomon was greater than his father David, who ruled in Hebron for seven years over the tribe of Judah and only ruled in Jerusalem over all Israel for thirty-three years (Rashi ad loc.).
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By Rabbi Avraham Yehoshua Greenbaum
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