King Solomon had not yet attained middle age—forty-five; yet the fame of his wisdom and comeliness, of the grandeur of his life and the pomp of his court, had spread far beyond the limits of Palestine. In Assyria and Phœnicia; in Lower and Upper Ægypt; from ancient Tabriz to Yemen and from Ismar unto Persepolis; on the coast of the Black Sea and upon the islands of the Mediterranean,—all uttered his name in wonder, for there was none among the kings like unto him in all his days. In the four hundred and eightieth year after the children of Israel were come out of Ægypt, in the fourth year of Solomon's reign over Israel, in the month of Zif, did the king undertake the erection of the great temple of the Lord in Mount Moriah, and the building of his palace in Jerusalem. Fourscore thousand stonesquarers and threescore and ten thousand that bare burthens wrought without cease in the mountains, and in the outskirts of the city; while ten thousand hewers that cut timber, out of a number of eight and thirty thousand, were sent each month, by courses, to Lebanon, where they spent a month in labour so arduous that they rested for two months thereafter. Thousands of men tied the cut trees into flotes, and hundreds of seamen brought them by sea to Jaffa, where they were fashioned by Tyrians, skilled to work at turning and carpentry. Only at the rearing of the pyramids of Khephren, Khufu, and Mencheres, at Ghizeh, had such an infinite multitude of labourers been used. Three thousand and six hundred officers oversaw the works; while Azariah, the son of Nathan, was over the officers,—a cruel man and an active, concerning whom had sprung up a rumour that he never slept, devoured by the fire of an internal, incurable disease. As for the plans of the palace and the temple; the drawings of the columns, the fore-court, and the brasen sea; the designs for the windows; the ornaments of the walls and the thrones,—they had all been created by the master builder Hiram-Abiah of Sidon, the son of a worker in brass of the tribe of Naphtali.
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