New Defender's Study Bible Notes
10:1 queen of Sheba. Sheba was the country of the Sabaeans, a prosperous nation in southern Arabia. Modern scholars have supposed that this long journey of its queen was made for commercial purposes, but there is no reason to question the Biblical testimony that she came to learn more about the true God (see I Kings 10:9) who had given Solomon such unique wisdom and resulting riches.
10:10 an hundred and twenty talents. The kingdom of Sheba was evidently quite wealthy, as this was a lavish gift. However, this also is the amount of gold given to Solomon by King Hiram of Phoenicia (I Kings 9:14). No wonder King Solomon could be so prodigal with his building projects (note I Kings 9:27,28; 10:23-29).
10:11 Hiram. Hiram was king of Tyre, the great capital of the Phoenicians, whose seafaring and exploring exploits were legendary. Despite the pagan religion of the Phoenicians, Hiram was on very friendly terms with both David and Solomon, even providing an abundance of cedar trees from Lebanon, along with skilled workmen, for construction of the temple and other building projects. See I Kings 5:1-10,18; 9:11-14.
10:11 Ophir. Ophir’s location is uncertain, though it had to be reached by ships from Ezion-Geber, on the Red Sea (I Kings 9:26-28). The city was known even in Job’s day, probably before the time of Abraham (Job 22:24). In view of its exotic trade, many believe it was as far away as India.
10:22 Tharshish. Although Tharsish (Tarshish) is frequently mentioned in the Old Testament, its location is uncertain. It may refer simply to ore-carrying vessels, since the word is similar to that for “smeltry.” However, Tarshish was the name of a son of Javan (Genesis 10:4), the ancestor of the Greeks, and most of the references seem clearly to mean a specific city or country (e.g., Jonah 1:3; Isaiah 23:6). There are at least eight references to “the ships of Tarshish” (e.g., II Chronicles 9:21), so Tarshish seems to have been a sea-faring people, like the Phoenicians with whom they are often connected, as here. Possibly it refers to Carthage, a colony of Phoenicia, or possibly to Tartessos in Spain. Some have suggested a reference to the British Isles, because of the ancient smelters there, and a few believe that the ships of Tarshish even sailed to America, as well as India.
10:23 Solomon exceeded all. During this period—around 1000 years B.C.—the greatest nations of the earth included Assyria and Egypt, but not even these compared to Israel under Solomon. For example, Egypt’s Pharaoh made a treaty with Solomon and gave him his daughter for wife (I Kings 3:1).
10:26 chariots and horsemen. The stone stables of Solomon at Megiddo have been excavated by University of Chicago archaeologists. One such stable has been estimated as capable of housing from three hundred to five hundred horses.