Melakhim Alef Chapter 4
This chapter describes the structure of Shelomo’s government and the officers responsible for its various departments. We are also told of the division of the entire land of Israel into twelve districts from which taxes were collected to support Shelomo’s kingdom. Each region was responsible for one month of the king’s expenses on an annual basis and was overseen by a designated representative. This whole enterprise was, in turn, supervised by additional personnel who coordinated and managed it.
Although some of the details recorded here will be referenced later, the main purpose of the chapter seems to be to emphasize that Shelomo’s regime has finally reached the pinnacle of evolution, organization and stability that earlier generations could only dream of. Neither Shaul nor David succeeded in creating a functioning bureaucracy that was as comprehensive and effective as the one Shelomo put in place.
As we will see, all of this is important because it means that the people of Israel now have a fully operational government that is prepared to pursue its next and most significant objective – constructing the Holy Temple that symbolizes the relationship between the Almighty and the Jews. This edifice will be the center of Torah study and Divine service in Israel and will serve as a constant reminder of the responsibility of the people to represent Hashem in their domestic policy as well as through their role on the international scene.
The chapter concludes with mention of the remarkable economic and social prosperity enjoyed by the Jewish people during the reign of King Shelomo. The beginning of the Book of Shemuel describes the infertility of Hanna as a symptom of the underlying spiritual ills suffered by the nation in her time, reminding us of the “curses” with which Israel is threatened if they violate their sacred covenant with Hashem.
The description here accomplishes just the opposite – it is reminiscent of the material blessings the Torah promises that the Jews will receive when they adhere to the teachings and commandments of the Torah. The message that the text conveys is that the nation is living in accordance with Hashem’s will and is prepared to transition to the next stage of its mission by building a permanent abode for the Divine Presence in Israel.