Useful Bible Studies > 1 Kings Commentary > chapter 4
Solomon ruled over many countries, and they all paid taxes to him (4:21). Those taxes perhaps increased his personal wealth and paid for the army. However the taxes from Solomon’s own country, Israel, provided for the king himself and the royal palaces.
To collect those taxes, Solomon arranged Israel as 12 regions. It is not clear whether Judah, in the south of Israel, was part of this scheme. It may be that Judah had a separate arrangement for the payment of taxes.
Each of the 12 regions had a governor, or ruler, who was responsible to collect the taxes. These regions do not all match the land of the 12 tribes (family groups) of Israel. There were 12 regions because each region supplied food to the palace for one month each year. In the list, those regions perhaps appear in the order that they supplied the food each year.
The land was good for agriculture. Most people probably paid their taxes not as money, but as the products of agriculture. So, the people were actually providing the food that the king, his family, his officials and his guests would eat. These were their taxes – but it was an honour for an ordinary person to provide food for such a great purpose.
It seems likely that Solomon intended for his governors’ families to continue to have authority in their regions. Several of their names in the list begin with the word BEN, which, in the Hebrew language, means ‘the son of’. For example, Ben-Hur was the son of a man called Hur.
Next part: A description of Israel and its agriculture (1 Kings 4:8-10)
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