2Chronicles 8:1 ¶ And it came to pass at the end of twenty years, wherein Solomon had built the house of the LORD, and his own house,
2Chronicles 8:2 That the cities which Huram had restored to Solomon, Solomon built them, and caused the children of Israel to dwell there.
2Chronicles 8:3 And Solomon went to Hamathzobah, and prevailed against it.
2Chronicles 8:4 And he built Tadmor in the wilderness, and all the store cities, which he built in Hamath.
2Chronicles 8:5 Also he built Bethhoron the upper, and Bethhoron the nether, fenced cities, with walls, gates, and bars;
2Chronicles 8:6 And Baalath, and all the store cities that Solomon had, and all the chariot cities, and the cities of the horsemen, and all that Solomon desired to build in Jerusalem, and in Lebanon, and throughout all the land of his dominion.
After the 20 years it took Solomon to complete the building of the temple and his palace, the king turned his attention to building up the cities that Hiram (King of Tyre) had returned to him. As they were rebuilt, he brought Israelites to come and live in them.
He mounted an attack against Hamathzobah that resulted in a victory. JFB adds this comment: “Hamath was on the Orontes, in Coele-Syria. Its king, Toi, had been the ally of David; but from the combination, Hamath and Zobah, it would appear that some revolution had taken place which led to the union of these two petty kingdoms of Syria into one. For what cause the resentment of Solomon was provoked against it, we are not informed….”
He built up Tadmor in the wilderness as well as other cities around Hamath to use as storage cities or supply centers. The NIV Commentary adds this note: “Tadmor in the desert” lay 150 miles northeast of Damascus, midway on the caravan route to Mari on the Euphrates River. It thus controlled the trade on this desert ‘cut-off’ to Babylon.”
He built Upper and Lower Bethhoron and fortified them with walls, gates and bars. Again from the NIV Commentary: “The two ‘Beth Horons’ were located on the border between Ephraim and Benjamin and controlled a major pass, northwest of Jerusalem, that led down to the port of Joppa.”
He basically completed building storage cities and cities to house his chariots and horsemen, as well as other cities throughout his kingdom, including in Jerusalem and Lebanon.
2Chronicles 8:7 As for all the people that were left of the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, which were not of Israel,
2Chronicles 8:8 But of their children, who were left after them in the land, whom the children of Israel consumed not, them did Solomon make to pay tribute until this day.
There were still many descendants of the previous inhabitants of Canaan living in Israel—Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. Solomon exacted tribute from those foreigners. The Hebrew makes it clear that the required payment for this tribute was to serve as needed in forced labor.
2Chronicles 8:9 But of the children of Israel did Solomon make no servants for his work; but they were men of war, and chief of his captains, and captains of his chariots and horsemen.
2Chronicles 8:10 And these were the chief of king Solomon’s officers, even two hundred and fifty, that bare rule over the people.
The people of Israel were not required to work as forced laborers; they served as soldiers, military commanders, and commanders of his chariots and horsemen. He had a total of 250 men that served as commanders over the different groups of laborers and military.
2Chronicles 8:11 And Solomon brought up the daughter of Pharaoh out of the city of David unto the house that he had built for her: for he said, My wife shall not dwell in the house of David king of Israel, because the places are holy, whereunto the ark of the LORD hath come.
Solomon also brought up the daughter of Pharaoh, his wife, to live in the house he had built especially for her. He did not think it proper for her to dwell in any place in which the ark had been.
Trapp makes a good observation: “Solomon had, against the law of God, married this and other strange wives, for politic ends no doubt, and as hoping that by his wisdom he could reclaim them, or at least rule them….Howbeit afterwards, overcome by the importunities of his strange wives, he yielded to them shamefully. Watch, therefore, and beware.”
2Chronicles 8:12 ¶ Then Solomon offered burnt offerings unto the LORD on the altar of the LORD, which he had built before the porch,
2Chronicles 8:13 Even after a certain rate every day, offering according to the commandment of Moses, on the sabbaths, and on the new moons, and on the solemn feasts, three times in the year, even in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks, and in the feast of tabernacles.
Solomon offered burnt offerings to the LORD every day in accordance with the instructions recorded in the books of the law—daily, on Sabbaths, on new moons and on the three yearly solemn feasts (the feast of unleavened bread, the feast of weeks and the feast of tabernacles).
2Chronicles 8:14 And he appointed, according to the order of David his father, the courses of the priests to their service, and the Levites to their charges, to praise and minister before the priests, as the duty of every day required: the porters also by their courses at every gate: for so had David the man of God commanded.
2Chronicles 8:15 And they departed not from the commandment of the king unto the priests and Levites concerning any matter, or concerning the treasures.
2Chronicles 8:16 Now all the work of Solomon was prepared unto the day of the foundation of the house of the LORD, and until it was finished. So the house of the LORD was perfected.
It is noted again that he assigned the priests and Levites to courses that served on a rotating basis according to the plan that God had given his father David. This also included those assigned to serve as gatekeepers to ensure that only qualified people entered the temple area. Everything was done according to the plan, including use and storage of the temple treasures, until finally the project was completed.
2Chronicles 8:17 Then went Solomon to Eziongeber, and to Eloth, at the sea side in the land of Edom.
2Chronicles 8:18 And Huram sent him by the hands of his servants ships, and servants that had knowledge of the sea; and they went with the servants of Solomon to Ophir, and took thence four hundred and fifty talents of gold, and brought them to king Solomon.
Solomon went to Eziongeber and Eloth, coastal cities in the land of Edom. From the NIV Commentary: “Ezion Geber and Elath were ports at the north end of the Gulf of Aqaba that provided a strategic commercial access southward into the Red Sea and beyond.”
The record of 1Kings makes it clear that the ships belonged to Solomon.
1 Kings 9:26–27 “And king Solomon made a navy of ships in Eziongeber, which is beside Eloth, on the shore of the Red sea, in the land of Edom. And Hiram sent in the navy his servants, shipmen that had knowledge of the sea, with the servants of Solomon.”
It sounds like Hiram may have sent additional ships, as well as experienced shipmen to train Solomon’s servants and go with them to Ophir to get 450 talents (15-17 tons) of gold, which they brought back to the king.
No one can identify Ophir with certainty. Commentators posit several possibilities, including India, Arabia, Somalia, the east coast of Africa or the Malay Peninsula (includes parts of Malaysia and Thailand).
Eerdman’s Dictionary makes this comment, “Ophir’s gold was so well known that it came to symbolize wealth and decadence in contrast with wisdom and faith.”