Damien F. Mackey
Ray Dillard has suggested that the Chronicler presents King Solomon as the new Bezalel, builder of the Ark of the Covenant, and Huram-abi as Bezalel’s technical assistant, Oholiab.
The Temple of Yahweh built by King Solomon was modelled on the Tent, or Tabernacle, of Moses, and these were in turn modelled on the Garden of Eden. These were physical replica of God’s heavenly abode. See Dr. Ernest L. Martin’s “The Temple Symbolism in Genesis”: http://askelm.com/temple/t040301.htm
So it is not at all surprising to find that the account of the building of the Temple as recorded in 2 Chronicles would parallel, to some extent, the account of the designing of the Tent in the Book of Exodus.
Nor is it too surprising that Solomon and Huram-abi might be depicted as, respectively, a new Bezalel and a new Oholiab.
There is no need to do what Laura Knight-Jadczyk has done in her “Tribe of Dan” article (http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/biblianazar/esp_biblianazar_14d.htm), and attempt to merge into one what are clearly two different scenarios well separated in time.
She has written:
An analysis of the genealogies in the Bible is very illuminating. According to the book of Chronicles there is no genealogy for the tribe of Dan. It has been observed by numerous scholars that many of the names occurring in the genealogies themselves are either blatantly geographical or connected with place-names; while others are definitely personal names. But the case of the Tribe of Dan is special, and holds a clue for us in this matter of the Temple and the Tabernacle and the Ark of the Covenant. In II Chronicles 2:11-14 the D historian writes:
Then Hiram the king of Tyre answered in writing, which he sent to Solomon, Because the Lord hath loved his people, he has made you king over them. Hiram said moreover, Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, that made heaven and earth, who has given to David the king a wise son, endued with prudence and understanding, who should build a house for the Lord, and a palace for his kingdom.
And now I have sent a skilled man, endued with understanding, even Huram-abi, my trusted counselor, the son of a woman of the daughters of DAN; his father was a man of Tyre. He is a trained worker in gold, silver, brass, iron, stone, and wood, in purple, blue, and crimson colors, and in fine linen; also to engrave any manner of engraving, and to carry out any design which shall be given to him, with your skilled men, and with the skilled men of my lord David your father.
The above is supposed to be a letter from Hiram of Tyre to Solomon, discussing the attributes of a particular man, the trusted counselor of the great Hiram, who is being sent to help the son of David as a great favor. This man is presented as a great designer and architect. He is named, and his mother is designated as being of the tribe of Dan. He is going to be the architect of the Temple of Solomon. In other words, he is the model for the archetypal “great architect” Hiram Abiff of Masonic lore.
So, what is the problem?
Look at this next excerpt from Exodus 31:1-7:
And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah: And I have filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship, To devise skilful works, to work in gold, and in silver, and in bronze, and in cutting of stones for setting, and in carving of wood, to work in all manner of craftsmanship.
And behold, I have appointed with him Aholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of DAN; and to all who are wise hearted I have given wisdom and ability to make all that I have commanded you: The tent of meeting, and the ark of the testimony, and the mercy seat that is on it, and all the furniture of the tent…
The above description of the command to build the Tent of Meeting and the Ark sounds almost identical to the purported letter from Hiram to Solomon, even including strong similarities in the names of the principal worker: Huram-abi of the tribe of Dan has become Hur of the tribe of Judah:
And Bezalel the son Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, made all that the LORD commanded Moses. And with him was Aholiab, son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan an engraver, and a skillful craftsman, and an embroiderer in blue, and in purple, and in scarlet, and fine linen.
The next problem arises when we find in I Kings, chapter 7:13-21, the following most confusing information about Hiram:
And King Solomon sent and fetched Hiram out of Tyre. He was a widow’s son of the tribe of Naphtali, and his father was a man of Tyre, a worker in brass: and he was filled with wisdom, and understanding, and skill to work all works in brass.
And he came to king Solomon, and wrought all his work. For he cast two pillars of brass, of eighteen cubits high apiece: and a line of twelve cubits did compass either of them about. And he made two chapiters of molten brass, to set upon the tops of the pillars: the height of the one chapiter was five cubits, and the height of the other chapiter was five cubits: And nets of checker work, and wreaths of chain work, for the chapiters which were upon the top of the pillars; seven for the one chapiter, and seven for the other chapiter.
And he made the pillars, and two rows round about upon the one network, to cover the chapiters that were upon the top, with pomegranates: and so did he for the other chapiter. And the chapiters that were upon the top of the pillars were of lily work in the porch, four cubits. And the chapiters upon the two pillars had pomegranates also above, over against the belly which was by the network: and the pomegranates were two hundred in rows round about upon the other chapiter. And he set up the pillars in the porch of the temple: and he set up the right pillar, and called the name thereof Jachin: and he set up the left pillar, and called the name thereof Boaz.
We see without too much difficulty that these passages are taken from the same source, though one refers to the building of a Temple and the other refers to the construction of a tent and an ark. One of the problems is, of course, that according to the Bible, the two events are separated by a very long period of time. We also note the curious name similarities between Huram-abi of the passage in II Chronicles, and Hur, the father of Bezalel, connected to Aholiab of the tribe of Dan.
Knight-Jadczyk does not help her thesis by trying to connect two different names, as follows:
Also curious is the name of Bezalel, which is so similar to Jezebel, who we have tentatively identified as the Phoenician princess, daughter of Ethbaal, king of Tyre. More curious still is the claim of the Dan inscription that, in the destruction of the City of Dan, the House of David was destroyed. What was the connection of the Tribe of Dan to the House of the Beloved? Were they, as it seems from these clues, one and the same?
Bezalel (בְּצַלְאֵל) means “under the protection of God”, whereas Jezebel (אִיזֶבֶל), of dubious meaning, may be “unexalted”, “un-husbanded” (hardly seems appropriate, though).
For another view of Jezebel, however, see my:
Is El Amarna’s “Baalat Neše” Biblically Identifiable?
Ray Dillard more sensibly, I think, has, whilst appreciating the parallels between the Exodus and Chronicles accounts, understood that the latter was modelling itself upon the earlier one (http://revmarple.com/chronicle-s-solomon/):
…. The third model is Solomon and Huram-abi as the new Bezalel and Oholiab. Bezalel and Oholiab come from the story of the tabernacle, which I have noted before that the tabernacle story is a paradigm for the Chronicler’s Temple story in several ways. Solomon is the new Bezalel as can be seen by the way both were singled out as chosen by God by name, both were of the tribe of Judah, and both get wisdom from God for this work (tabernacle/Temple construction). Bezalel is only mentioned outside of Exodus in Chronicles – 1 Chron 2:20 and 2 Chron 1:5. Indeed, Solomon goes seeking God at the altar built by Bezalel when he was given wisdom for building. Of course, Kings told us about Solomon’s legendary wisdom in general, but Chronicles is very specific that it was wisdom for this task. Thus Hiram does not praise God for giving David “a wise son over this great people” (1 Kings 5) but ”a wise son who will build” (2 Chron 2).
Huram-abi is also styled as the new Oholiab. Chronicles does this by making three changes – as Dillard says, “arrival time, skill inventory, and ancestry.” Kings only tells us about Huram-abi after the temple and palace were finished and Huram-abi only appears to cast bronze. Chronicles tells us that Huram-abi was involved from the beginning (like Oholiab) and that he did more than just cast bronze – in fact, he is given the skill inventory of Bezalel and Oholiab in Chronicles. Moreover, Kings tells us that his mother was a widow from Naphtali but Chronicles says she was a widow from Dan (like Oholiab).