“‘Then the Assyrian shall fall
By a sword
Not of mortals.
Not of humans,
Shall devour him.
He shall flee from the sword.
His young men
Shall be put to forced labor.
His rock shall pass away in terror.
His officers desert the standard in panic.’
So says Yahweh.
‘His fire is in Zion.
His furnace is in Jerusalem.’”
Once again, we have an oracle of Yahweh, via Isaiah. Yahweh proclaimed that the Assyrians would not die from the sword of men or humans. They would flee and be put into forced labor. They would be terrified as their officers would desert their places. This oracle of Yahweh indicates that his fire was in Zion, while his furnace was in Jerusalem.
“Some sat in darkness.
Some sat in gloom.
They were prisoners in misery.
They were prisoners in irons.
They had rebelled against the words of God.
They had spurned the counsel of the Most High.
Their hearts were bowed down with hard labor.
They fell down.
There was no one to help them.
Then they cried to Yahweh in their trouble.
He saved them from their distress.
He brought them out of darkness.
He brought them out of gloom.
He broke their bonds asunder.
Let them thank Yahweh
For his steadfast love!
Let them thank Yahweh
For his wonderful works to humankind!
He shatters the doors of bronze.
He cuts in two the bars of iron.”
Some people were in darkness and gloom. They were prisoners in misery and in actual irons, shackled together, because they had rebelled against God. They had turned away from the counsel of the Most High God. They were in forced labor with no one to help them. These people were not innocent, since they had done or said something against God. However, they cried to Yahweh for help in their distress. Guess what? He saved them from their distress, darkness, and gloom. He tore their chains apart. Now they should give thanks to Yahweh for his steadfast love and wondrous deeds. He shattered the doors of bronze and the iron bars. They were now free people.
“Jeroboam and all Israel came and said to Rehoboam. ‘Your father made our yoke heavy. Now therefore lighten the hard service of your father and his heavy yoke that he placed on us. Then we will serve you.’ Rehoboam said to them. ‘Come to me again in three days.’ So the people went away.”
Once again, this is based almost word for word on 1 Kings, chapter 12. Jeroboam became the spokesperson for the northern Israelite tribes. He wanted Rehoboam to lighten the yoke that had been placed on the northern tribes by his father, King Solomon. This would seem to indicate that King Solomon did have some forced Israelite labor. If Rehoboam would lighten their service, they would serve him. Rehoboam said that he needed 3 days to think it over. So they went away for 3 days.
“Yahweh gave Solomon wisdom, as he promised him. There was peace between King Hiram and King Solomon. The two of them made a treaty. King Solomon conscripted forced labor out of all Israel. The levy numbered thirty thousand men. He sent them to Lebanon, ten thousand a month in shifts. They would be a month in Lebanon and two months at home. Adoniram was in charge of the forced labor. King Solomon also had seventy thousand laborers and eighty thousand stone cutters in the hill country, besides his three thousand three hundred supervisors, who were over the work, having charge of the people who carried on the work. At the king’s command, they quarried out great, costly stones in order to lay the foundation of the house with dressed stones. So Solomon’s builders, Hiram’s builders and the men of the Gebalites did the stone cutting. They prepared the timber and the stone to build the house.”
Hiram and Solomon had a peace treaty that worked well for both of them. King Solomon used forced labor that Adoniram organized. Every third month they had to go to Lebanon to work on the wood and then they would have 2 months off. Then King Solomon also had 70,000 laborers and 80,000 stone cutters, a lot of people so that there were over 3,300 supervisors. He was well organized. Hiram’s people and the Gebalites, from another Phoenician town near Tyre, were the stone cutters and wood workers.