1 Kings 4:1-28 – Solomon’s Administration


1 Kings 4:1-28


Solomon demonstrates his divinely given wisdom by reorganizing the political administration of Israel.


In the book of Kings, Solomon’s administrative organization resulting in a well-ordered bureaucracy is seen as part and parcel of Solomon’s God-given wisdom. Again, the seeds of Solomon’s destruction lie beneath the optimistic presentation:

  • Even the innocent looking list of cabinet officials in verses 1-6 augurs trouble when one realizes that the list includes those who had supported Solomon following David’s death.
  • The secretary in charge of “forced labor” (v. 6, emphasis added) is a harbinger of the source of Solomon’s collapse in chapters 11-12.
  • The same might be said for the extensive list of verses 7-19, as heavy taxation was also a key item in the revolt against Solomon’s administration following his death. The list actually divides Israel into twelve districts, not necessarily aligned with the older tribal configurations, each with an officer who reported to Azariah son of Nathan, the cabinet official (v. 5). Each district was responsible for one month of royal support (vv. 22-23, 27-28). The result was centralized control for Solomon.
  • The NRSV reference to “Judah” in verse 19 is not present in the Hebrew text (it does appear in some Greek manuscripts). The verse should read, “There was one official (that is, Azariah, the cabinet official, in v. 5) over the land.” If this is the proper reading, Judah’s preferential treatment regarding the schedule of taxation must have been yet another avenue of dissent at the end of his reign.