In 1 Kings 9:12-13, Hiram, the king of Tyre, is described as not pleased with the kind of towns that King Solomon has given him. Perhaps expecting for something that would have equaled all the pine, cedar and gold that he gave Solomon, Hiram questioned the King about the towns that he received. On the other hand, 2 Chronicles 8:2 merely mentions that Solomon reconstructed the villages that Hiram had given, after which he settled the Israelites in these villages.
Following the passages in 1 Kings 9:10-28, Hiram named the twenty towns in Galilee he received from Solomon as the Land of Cabul. The word “Cabul” means ‘what does not please’ in Phoenician. The fact that the Hiram named the land Solomon has given him “Cabul” suggests that, indeed, Hiram was not pleased at all with the gestures of the King. Perhaps the reason to Hiram’s displeased reaction is that he gave all the pine, cedar and gold that Solomon wanted only to get twenty lands which did not suit his taste.
It might have been the case that Hiram had high expectations in return of his gestures to Solomon. On the other hand, 2 Chronicles 8:2 suggests that Hiram gave the towns to Solomon instead of Solomon supposedly giving Hiram the twenty towns in Galilee in 1 Kings 9:11. In 2 Chronicles 8:2, it is mentioned that Solomon “rebuilt” the cities he received, implying that the cities were not in good condition. In the same passage, we are also told that Solomon eventually placed the Israelites to live in those rebuilt cities.
The passage appears to point us the idea that Solomon was a king who was out to develop the undeveloped and to expand his dominion through the resources he garnered from his conquests. Moreover, Solomon’s men together with Hiram’s sailors returned home from Ophir delivering four hundred and fifty talents of gold to Solomon in 2 Chronicles 8:17-18. On the contrary, 1 Kings 9:28 narrates the same fleet of men sailing to Ophir but only delivering four hundred and twenty talents of gold to Solomon.
The discrepancy in the amount of gold delivered suggests at least two ideas: one is that Solomon was either exceedingly triumphant or not in his exploits and two is that he was either a well-respected ruler or not by his subjects. In essence, the accounts provided in 2 Chronicles 8:1-18 suggest that Solomon was a king who was exceedingly triumphant so much so that Hiram was compelled to give him cities which Solomon then rebuilt.
On the other hand, the accounts provided in 1 Kings 9:10-28 suggest that Solomon was a ruler who, in general, did not give the appropriate dues to people who expected much from him insomuch as he was a ruler who the royal subjects can easily steal from due in part to a lack of honesty and respect. I think the two accounts differ with respect to the descriptions of the character and the actions of Solomon because of differing perceptions towards Solomon.
I think the inclusion of the displeased reaction of Hiram in 1 Kings 9:12-13 may suggest that some people saw Solomon at the time of his rule as someone who could only care less about how other people may see him and react against his actions. On the contrary, the omission of Hiram’s reaction in 2 Chronicles 8:2 may suggest that how people viewed Solomon with regard to his actions was irrelevant since he may have been seen as a righteous ruler who provided for his subjects their necessities.
In general, the description of Solomon’s reign in 1 Kings is not only “based on a variety of sources with a different provenance” but also “displays traces of different stages of redaction” (Talshir, p. 233) or the combination of multiple source texts, thereby suggesting that the differences in the accounts can be largely attributed to their respective writers. In both 2 Samuel 8:1-18 and 1 Chronicles 18:1-17, the triumphs of David in all of his wars are narrated.
In all of the wars revealed in the two accounts, David is portrayed as an able leader who is very much capable of invading territories and still not forgetting to make offerings to God such as the gold and silver exploits. Both accounts agree that the Lord helped David wherever he went, indicating that the Lord was pleased with the efforts of David. However, one major difference between the two accounts is that, in 2 Samuel 8:2, David is described as having been able to defeat the Moab forces which was followed by the execution the few remaining Moabites.
In the selection process, the Moabites were made to lie on the ground in a line and those who were within two lines were put to death while those in the third length were given the chance to live under the rule of David. Apparently, nothing about the process of the execution was mention throughout 1 Chronicles 18:1-17. The inclusion of the description of the execution of the Moabites in 2 Samuel 8:2 gives a rough image of how David was supposedly ruthless towards his conquered subjects.
The passage gives us the impression that, although David was kind enough to “randomly” allow some of the Moabites to live, he was nonetheless a leader and a warrior who showed little mercy towards those who have survived the onslaught of his armies. The seemingly detailed account of the execution of the Moabites creates an eerie mental environment, appearing as a visual reminder that David was a conqueror who displayed his authority and power with little mercy. And yet, David is still portrayed in the same passage as an abiding servant of the Lord who never forgets to provide his offerings to God.
It signifies that, since the Lord helped David wherever he went, nothing can stand against the way and the disposition of David. In essence, it appears that the position of the writer in 2 Samuel 8:1-18 is that David was a devout servant of the Lord while being a ruthless conqueror who can easily take the lives of his conquered subjects according to his will. On the other hand, the writer of 1 Chronicles 18:1-17 seems to suggest that David was blessed by the Lord and that he was a leader who piously served and gave offerings to the Lord without the hint of ruthlessness revealed in 2 Samuel 8:2.
The two accounts differ primarily because David, I think, was a ruler hated in his time by those who became victims of his military actions. It is therefore not surprising that at least one account pertaining to David’s military advances gave several details about how people were executed depending on the decision of David. However, those who saw David as a righteous ruler and those who benefitted from his triumphs are more inclined to put David on a more positive regard. Roddy L.
Braun suggests that the Chronicler—the writer of the book of Chronicles—presents David’s kingship as “greeted by the mixed multitudes of Israel with immediate and enthusiastic unanimity” (Braun, p. 503) unlike the respective writers of Samuel and Kings. Such variations in writings can hardly be reconciled almost entirely and that the only way to avoid the vicious circle that can commence from the failure to reconcile the accounts, as Sara Japhet suggests, is “by studying the matter from its positive aspects—not from what is omitted, but from what is existent” (Japhet, p.
206). Thus, it is not necessarily the case that the differences in the accounts mean that one account is true and the other is not. While Solomon may be portrayed in Kings quite differently from Chronicles or while David may be portrayed in Samuel differently from Chronicles, the differences may not essentially signify the truthfulness or falsehood of either one of the accounts.
Rather, the presence of additional details in the each account provides more insight into the lives of Kings David and Solomon. Works Cited Braun, Roddy L. “Solomonic Apologetic in Chronicles. ” Journal of Biblical Literature 92. 4 (1973): 503-16. Japhet, Sara. “Conquest and Settlement in Chronicles. ” Journal of Biblical Literature 98. 2 (1979): 205-18. Talshir, Zipora. “The Reign of Solomon in the Making. ” Vetus Testamentum 50. 2 (2000): 233-49
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