The Cost of Building
Holy Spirit, come and bring light, even to those corners of my life where I prefer shadows and secrets. Release Your forgiving grace.
Read 2 Chronicles 2:1-18
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Jesus had a heightened sensitivity towards the disadvantaged, the marginalized and the exploited. We are called to be just like Jesus.
This chapter provides a fascinating insight into the ancient world. The description of Solomon’s negotiations with Hiram king of Tyre for the supply of the wood required to build the Temple and the skilled workers able to make it “large and magnificent” (9) offer a glimpse into patterns of trade at the time. We also realize what a huge logistical challenge was involved, with vast amounts of timber being floated down the Mediterranean to Joppa, then taken upstream along the river Yarkon before being hauled up to Jerusalem at 2,500 feet above sea level!
It was also labor intensive, and the historian reveals that Solomon identified “all the foreigners residing in Israel” (17), a phrase which indicates remaining members of the original peoples of the land and others who had come into Palestine more recently (1 Kings 9:20-21). This group, numbering over 150,000 men, is conscripted as “carriers” and “stonecutters in the hills,” with an additional 3,600 appointed as “foremen … to keep the people working” (18). This is ominous language which echoes that used to describe the experience of the Hebrew slaves in Egypt and anticipates the crisis that was to split the nation apart when, after Solomon’s death, Jeroboam and his followers rebelled over “the harsh labor and heavy yoke” imposed upon them (2 Chron. 10:4).
On the morning I am writing these notes there is news of the exploitation of a Nepalese workforce building new stadia in Qatar for the 2022 soccer World Cup. Dozens of workers have died and thousands are subjected to modern-day slavery. Sporting stadia are the new temples of a secular world. Like the writer of Chronicles we must lift the veil on these dazzling projects to expose the human costs borne by thousands of poor, marginalized people.
What does Solomon teach us about leadership? What are the positives? The negatives?
Compassionate Lord, I pray today for those who are working to bring justice and peace to the exploited of this world. Prosper their endeavors and use them for Your purposes.