Solomon’s Source for Wood

Photo Credit:, National Museum of Beirut

In Exodus 27-30, God continues to give Moses the instructions for completing the tabernacle and for items needed to perform the service within. Moses was to collect oil for the menorah and to anoint the priests, to ensure the tabernacle had an altar on which to burn incense and a washbasin. He also described for Moses the clothes which were to be made for Aaron and Aaron’s sons. 

In 1 Kings 5, when King Solomon decided to build a temple, he looked to a king further north for the wood that was required to build it.

“When Hiram king of Tyre heard that Solomon had been anointed king to succeed his father David, he sent his envoys to Solomon, because he had always been on friendly terms with David… So Hiram sent word to Solomon: “I have received the message you sent me and will do all you want in providing the cedar and juniper logs. My men will haul them down from Lebanon to the Mediterranean Sea, and I will float them as rafts by sea to the place you specify. There I will separate them and you can take them away. And you are to grant my wish by providing food for my royal household.”

There is not enough information in the archaeological record to reconstruct a complete list of kings for Tyre. Josephus in ‘The Antiquities of the Jews’ quotes a Greek historian Menander to prove the historicity of Hiram of Tyre. Josephus says that Menander wrote the work ‘Chronology,’ and in it he translated Tyre’s archives into Greek. Josephus quotes Menander:

“When Abibalus was dead, his son Hiram received the kingdom from him, who, when he had lived fifty-three years, reigned thirty-four. He raised a bank in the large place, and dedicated the golden pillar which is in Jupiter’s temple. He also went and cut down materials of timber out of the mountain called Libanus, for the roof of temples; and when he had pulled down the ancient temples, he both built the temple of Hercules and that of Astarte; and he first set up the temple of Hercules in the month Peritius; he also made an expedition against the Euchii, or Titii, who did not pay their tribute, and when he had subdued them to himself he returned. Under this king there was Abdemon, a very youth in age, who always conquered the difficult problems which Solomon, king of Jerusalem, commanded him to explain.”

Josephus’ quote of Manander appears to attempt to prove a number of elements of the biblical account. He affirms that there was a king named Hiram of Tyre. Hiram of Tyre cut trees to be used in building temples. He also alludes to Solomon’s wisdom in mentioning the “difficult problems” Solomon posed to Abdemon.

In the 9th century BCE, a king of Tyre would appear in Assyrian records. For the 10th century BCE, Josephus quote of Menander remains the best available source for Hiram outside of the Bible.

The image above is of a 7th century BCE funerary mask from Tyre.