Solomons Servants

Solomon's Servants (עִבדֵי שׁלמֹה; Sept. υἱοὶΑ᾿βδησελμά, Ezr 2:58; υἱοὶ δούλων Σαλωμών, ver. 55; Ne 7:57,60; Vulg. filii servorum Salomonis). The descendants ("sons") of persons thus named appear in the lists of the exiles who returned from the captivity. They occupy all but the lowest places in those lists, and their position indicates some connection with the services of the Temple. First come the priests, then Levites, then Nethinim, then "the children of Solomon's servants." In the Greek of 1 Esdr. 5:33, 35, the order is the same, but instead of Nethinim we meet with ἱερόδουλοι, "servants" or "ministers" of the Temple. In the absence of any definite statement as to their office, we are left to conjecture and inference.

(1.) The name, as well as the order, implies inferiority, even to the Nethinim. They are the descendants of the slaves of Solomon. The servitude of the Nethinim, "given to the Lord," was softened by the idea of dedication.

(2.) The starting point of their history is probably to be found in 1Ki 5:13-14; 1Ki 9:20-21; 2Ch 8:7-8. Canaanites, who had been living till then with a certain measure of freedom, were reduced by Solomon to the helot state, and compelled to labor in the king's stone quarries, and in building his palaces and cities. To some extent, indeed, the change had been effected under David, but it appears to have been then connected specially with the Temple, and the servitude under his successor was at once harder and more extended (1Ch 22:2).

See also the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

(3.) The last passage throws some light on their special office. The Nethinim, as in the case of the Gibeonites, were appointed to be hewers of wood (Jos 9:23), and this was enough for the services of the tabernacle. For the. construction and repairs of the Temple another kind of labor was required, and the new slaves were set to the work of hewing and squaring stones (1Ki 5:17-18). Their descendants appear to have formed a distinct order, probably inheriting the same functions and the same skill. The prominence which the erection of a new Temple on their return from Babylon would give to their work accounts for the special mention of them in the lists of Ezra and Nehemiah. Like the Nethinim, they were in the position of proselytes, outwardly conforming to the Jewish ritual, though belonging to the hated race, and, even in their names, bearing traces of their origin (Ezr 2:55-58). Like them, too, the great mass must either have perished, or given up their position, or remained at Babylon. The 392 of Ezr 2:55 (Nethinim included) must have been but a small fragment of the descendants of the 150,000 employed by Solomon (1Ki 5:15). SEE NETHINIM.

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