Researched and studied by HH, Sir Godfrey Gregg D.Div
1 Kings 9:10-14.
Hiram, king of Tyre, who had supplied much of the material and many of the skilled workmen for building the house of the Lord and the king’s house, had received, during the progress of the work, a yearly subsidy of twenty thousand measures of wheat for food for his household, and twenty measures of pure oil (1 Kings 5:11). Thus the natural man supplies the spiritual with the materials and the knowledge required for preparing the materials, for building in the mind a habitation for the Lord to dwell in, while the spiritual man supplies the natural with the principles of truth and goodness as the means of supporting the life of faith and love. But “it came to pass at the end of twenty years, when Solomon had built the two houses, the house of the Lord, and the king’s house, (now Hiram the king of Tyre had furnished Solomon with cedar-trees and fir-trees, and with gold, according to all his desire), that then king Solomon gave Hiram twenty cities in the land of Galilee.” So that the spiritual man not only supplies the natural with the internal and essential principles of truth and goodness, but gives him the external and doctrinal principles corresponding to them, and in these doctrinals the external affections of goodness and truth which constitute their life: for the cities which Solomon gave to Hiram were not only Israelitish cities, but cities inhabited by Israelites, cities filled with life and industry. These cities were in Galilee, but Galilee had not yet acquired the Gentile character and external signification that it had after the deportation of the ten tribes, and the filling of their depopulated cities with the subjects of their heathen conqueror. Galilee belonged at this time to the tribe of Naphtali, that tribe to which the mother of Hiram, the Tyrian artificer, belonged. Naphtali was described by Jacob as a hind let loose, giving goodly words (Genesis 44:21); and signified the freedom of natural affection, especially after temptation. Galilee partook of this natural signification; so that cities in that part of Canaan formed a suitable present to the king of Tyre, whose representative character accorded with the place where the bestowed possession lay. Galilee also was contiguous to Tyre, which was on the sea-coast to the west of Galilee; so that from its natural situation, it was a suitable gift, so far as Solomon was concerned, and from its spiritual meaning suitable, so far as regards the spiritual man.
But the result was not what Solomon no doubt desired and expected. “Hiram came out from Tyre to see the cities which Solomon had given him, and they pleased him not. And he said, What cities are these which you have given me, my brother? And he called them the land of Cabul to this day.” Attempts have been made to discover the ground of Hiram’s disappointment and chagrin. Some have supposed that as the Tyrian were a maritime people, a commercial nation, whose merchants were princes, Hiram was displeased at being presented with inland towns, instead of places that would have afforded him room for extending his border along the seashore. But the narrative itself suggests another and the only plausible reason. Hiram seems to have made no objection to the situation of the cities, and only found fault with the cities themselves after he had seen them. It is not at all surprising that the cities of Canaan, even in the time of Solomon, may have appeared mean and squalid in the eyes of the king of Tyre. Tyre was then perhaps the richest, the most prosperous, and the most luxurious city in the world; and although David and Solomon had amassed great wealth for the building of the temple, and the Israelites had made considerable progress in the arts, yet in wealth and refinement the subjects of Solomon must have been far behind those of Hiram. This condition of Tyre answered to her representative character. And indeed the representative character of the ancient peoples and nations that have a place in the Bible history, is not arbitrary but arises out of the particular genius which they inherit and develop. For the different nations of the earth are, in relation to each other, as the different individuals or classes in one nation are to one another; and both of these differences owe their origin and existence, and correspond, to the different faculties of the human mind, all national differences of character and pursuit being the result of one particular faculty having, from natural tendency or accidental or local circumstances, take a particular direction. So much is this the case that there are, we are told, nations in these modern times of ours answering to all the nations of antiquity, having similar characteristic differences and similar correspondences. And these differences and correspondences must become more distinctly marked the more the national characters are developed. These differences are providential and are important means of general advancement as well as of present benefit. It is, on the largest scale, a division of labour, mental and physical, by which greater perfection is attained, both in the quality and measure of production, than would be possible if all nations took one direction and pursued one object. It is a reason for amity between peoples and nations, and for friendly exchange, and the free exchange of their mental and physical wealth. Such will be the happy result of these differences of natural character and pursuit when men and nations become wiser and better; when they recognise and work in harmony with the Creator, who has made of one blood all nations of men to dwell upon the face of the earth; when Ephraim shall not envy Judah, and Judah shall not vex Ephraim; when, in brief, men shall see that, both in their individual and national dealings with each other, what is right in principle is best in practice.
Yet there is this to be expected, that those who are lower in the scale of intellectual development will be less willing to yield compliance with the awards of high principle; just as in our own nature there are some elements that are less disposed than others to comply with the requirements of law and order, that are ordained for their own good, as well as for that of the whole man, body and soul. Our natural appetites and passions are sometimes unwilling to submit to the dictates of reason and prudence. Some of the most necessary of our mental acquisitions have a tendency to deteriorate the mind which they are intended to improve. Solomon represents wisdom as exhorting men to receive knowledge rather than choice gold (Proverbs 8:10); and yet the Apostle tells us that knowledge puffs up (1 Corinthians 8:1); this, however, is knowledge without charity, which, he tells us, edifieth. Now Tyre represented knowledge, even that kind of knowledge of which the Apostle speaks; and the Tyrians represented those who cultivate knowledge, but are liable to neglect charity, and who therefore are in danger of being puffed up, being deficient in the grace that edifieth. In the prophets, Tyre is described generally as being of this character, and her ruin is predicted as a consequence. “You have been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering. By your great wisdom and by your traffic have you increased your riches, and your heart is lifted up because of your riches. Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty” (Ezekiel 28). “It shall come to pass after the end of seventy years, that the Lord will visit Tyre, and she shall turn to her hire, and shall commit fornication with all the kingdoms of the world upon the face of the earth. And her merchandise and her hire shall be holiness to the Lord: it shall not be treasured nor laid up; for her merchandise shall be for them that dwell before the Lord, to eat sufficiently, and for durable clothing” (Isaiah 23:17-18). Here we have a very striking representative description of the result of unsanctified knowledge in puffing up the mind, and that of the true value and use of knowledge, in it’s being sanctified, and becoming holiness to the Lord, when bestowed upon those who will apply it to its right use, by employing it to procure the essential means of life.
Now the very tendency to this pride of knowledge, and the consequent tendency to place it above the charity which edifieth, may enable us to see why Hiram, king of Tyre, when he came to see the cities in the land of Canaan which Solomon had given him, should have seen no beauty in them, but have given them a name which meant that he had no pleasure in them. This does not, however, imply that he regarded them with disgust or contempt. It is evident from his addressing Solomon as his brother, and from giving the king of Israel sixty talents of gold, that he appreciated the gift, although he saw no beauty in it. The character of the Tyrians was like that of the spirits of Mercury, who occupy a province in the Grand Man, and are therefore in a heavenly state, and yet are chiefly concerned with the knowledge of things. They correspond to the memory, but to the memory of things abstracted from what is terrestrial and purely material. When it was suggested to them whether they proposed any use from their knowledge, since it is not enough to be delighted with knowledge, because knowledge has respect to use as an end, they replied that they were delighted with knowledge and that to the knowledge was used. The genius of these spirits our author exemplifies by his own experience. Spirits, when they come to anyone, put on all things contained in his memory. “Some spirits came to me. Whilst searching for various things (in my memory), and among them the cities and countries where I had been, I observed that they had no wish to know the temples, palaces, houses, and streets, but only the things that had been transacted in them, with what was transacted there, and to the genius and manners of the inhabitants, and other similar things. I was surprised to find them of such a character and inquired why they disregarded the magnificence of the places and attended only to the parts and transactions connected with them. They replied that they had no delight in regarding natural, corporeal, and terrestrial objects, but only things that are real.”
The cities of Canaan represented the doctrines of the Church and of religion. This is the spiritual meaning of cities in the most comprehensive sense; but in the particular sense they signify the interiors of the mind where doctrinals are, or rather where truths are conjoined to goodness; for the principles of truth and goodness which belong to any one form as it were a city, and hence one in whom the Church is, is called the city of God. The signification of a city is like that of a house. In the universal sense, a house signifies goodness, but in the particular sense it signifies a man, especially his mind, where goodness and truth are conjoined; and a house with its apartments, circumjacent buildings, and courts is a city in the least form.
Those who are in the knowledge more than in the life of religion can take pleasure in what we may call the outworks of religion, in building churches and attending to all that relates to their support and adornment; in contributing to the agencies that are employed for increasing and diffusing a knowledge of the truth; and in supplying the skill as well as the means for organization and development. They do not originate any great or useful work of an internal and elevating kind. They do not produce and nourish living principles, but only help to construct the outward forms in which inward principles may find a dwelling-place. Their character and function in this respect are well described by the prophet Isaiah, in the burden of Tyre: “Be you ashamed,
O Zidon: for the sea has spoken, even the strength of the sea, saying,
I travail not, nor bring forth children, neither do I nourish up young men nor bring up virgins “(Isaiah 23:4). Tyre and Zidon are those who are in the knowledge of truth and goodness, but who do not give birth to these living principles themselves, and do not, therefore, nourish the affections of truth nor bring up the affections of goodness, but are content to remain in the knowledge of divine and spiritual things. As merchants and traffickers in spiritual things, they are useful to others; and therefore it is said, “Be still, you inhabitants of the isle; you whom the merchants of Zidon, that pass over the sea, have replenished ” (Isaiah 23:2).
There are those who find their vocation and the delight of their lives in verbal criticism, and in the study of subjects that tend to establish the truth and elucidate the meaning of the letter of the Scriptures. And all such students perform an important use. They are doing for the theologian and the preacher, and for the whole Church, what Hiram did for Solomon, and through him for Israel. For the letter of the Word is the temple in which its spiritual and celestial senses are contained, and in which the Divine presence is with men; and whatever helps us to a more exact knowledge and intelligent understanding of the literal sense of the Word, helps us to a more accurate view of its internal meaning. Such students of the letter, though affirmative and devout, may not feel an interest or take delight in the interior subjects which the Bible, as a Divine revelation, was designed to teach. They do not reject them as things of no value and unworthy of their acceptance, but they have no pleasure in them as subjects of study. To them they are Cabul, and the sphere of investigation to which they belong in the land of Cabul; and if they continue in this state of mind, the higher objects and studies of religion are what the cities of Canaan, given by Solomon, were to Hiram, who “called them the land of Cabul to this day.”
Those who belong to that class of minds represented by the king and the men of Tyre, and whose genius makes them willing and skilful workers in the sacred cause of revealed religion, but in that department which relates to its external evidences, need to be careful that they do not so neglect or contemn its inward spirit as to bring themselves under the condemnation pronounced against Tyre as the enemy of Israel. Science and knowledge supply and prepare the material for laying the foundation and building the house, but the end or purpose of the house is that the Lord may there inscribe His Name and that He may be worshipped therein.