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Matthew Henry's Commentary – Verses 10–14
Verses 10–14

What agreement was made between Solomon and Hiram, when the building-work was to be begun, we read before, 1 Kgs. 5:1-18 Here we have an account of their fair and friendly parting when the work was done. 1. Hiram made good his bargain to the utmost. He had furnished Solomon with materials for his buildings, according to all his desire (1 Kgs. 9:11), and with gold, 1 Kgs. 9:15. So far was he from envying Solomon’s growing greatness and reputation, and being jealous of him, that he helped to magnify him. Solomon’s power, with Solomon’s wisdom, needs not be dreaded by any of his neighbours. God honours him; therefore Hiram will. 2. Solomon, no doubt, made good his bargain, and gave Hiram food for his household, as was agreed, 1 Kgs. 5:9. But here we are told that, over and above that, he gave him twenty cities (small ones we may suppose, like those mentioned here, 1 Kgs. 9:19) in the land of Galilee, 1 Kgs. 9:11. It should seem, these were not allotted to any of the tribes of Israel (for the border of Asher came up to them, Josh. 19:27; which intimates that it did not include them), but continued in the hands of the natives till Solomon made himself master of them, and then made a present of them to Hiram. It becomes those that are great and good to be generous. Hiram came to see these cities, and did not like them (1 Kgs. 9:12): They pleased him not. He called the country the land of Cabul, a Phoenician word (says Josephus) which signifies displeasing, 1 Kgs. 9:13. He therefore returned them to Solomon (as we find, 2 Chron. 8:2), who repaired them, and then caused the children of Israel to inhabit them, which intimates that before they did not; but, when Solomon received back what he had given, no doubt he honourably gave Hiram an equivalent in something else. But what shall we think of this? Did Solomon act meanly in giving Hiram what was not worth his acceptance? Or was Hiram humoursome and hard to please? I am willing to believe it was neither the one nor the other. The country was truly valuable, and so were the cities in it, but not agreeable to Hiram’s genius. The Tyrians were merchants, trading men, that lived in fine houses, and became rich by navigation, but knew not how to value a country that was fit for corn and pasture (that was business that lay out of their way); and therefore Hiram desired Solomon to take them again, he knew not what to do with them, and, if he would please to gratify him, let it be in his own element, by becoming his partner in trade, as we find he did, 1 Kgs. 9:27. Hiram, who was used to the clean streets of Tyre, could by no means agree with the miry lanes in the land of Cabul, whereas the best lands have commonly the worst roads through them. See how the providence of God suits both the accommodation of this earth to the various dispositions of men and the dispositions of men to the various accommodations of the earth, and all for the good of mankind in general. Some take delight in husbandry, and wonder what pleasure sailors can take on a rough sea; others take as much delight in navigation, and wonder what pleasure husbandmen can take in a dirty country, like the land of Cabul. It is so in many other instances, in which we may observe the wisdom of him whose all souls are and all lands.