views updated May 21 2018


HIRAM Heb. חִירוֹם ,חִירָם, "My-(divine) Brother-is-Exalted," apparently shortened from Aḥiram, a longer form attested as the name of a king of Byblos).

(1) King of Tyre, contemporary of David and Solomon. According to the quotations from Dius and Menander preserved by Josephus (Apion, 1:112–121; Ant., 8:144–149), Hiram was the son of Avibaʿal (Abibalus). He was 19 years old when he ascended the throne, and reigned 34 years (c. 969–936 b.c.e.). Under his rule Tyre became the leading city on the Phoenician coast, and the beginnings of its empire spreading over the whole Mediterranean must be dated from this time. Menander says that Hiram campaigned personally against a revolt of the people of Citium (Kition) (= Larnaka in Cyprus). Furthermore, it is known that he enlarged the island city by uniting it with a smaller island, on which the temple of Zeus (Baal Shamêm) stood. He beautified Tyre and its temples and engaged in extensive constructions, such as embankments and marketplaces. All this demonstrates the rise of the overseas trade, and also the necessity for a bigger harbor for the large "ships of Tarshish." He demolished the ancient temples and built new ones to Heracles (= Melqart) and Astarte. This building program must have influenced the Hebrew kings. The Bible tells of the friendly relations between Hiram and David. W.F. Albright has suggested that the power of the Philistines was broken by an alliance between the Tyrian kings Avibaʿal and Hiram on the one hand (at sea), and David on the other (on land). The messengers of Hiram who brought cedar trees and artisans to build a palace for David (ii Sam. 5:11; i Chron. 14:1) presumably had political and mercantile assignments as well. It appears that when David took the census of Israel, the kingdom of Hiram was only a small strip on the coast; however, in the days of Solomon it must have been much wider, because the land of *Cabul ceded by Solomon to Hiram (i Kings 9:11ff.) must have bordered on Hiram's realm in the west. According to the Bible, the relations between Solomon and Hiram were on a basis of equality. When Solomon succeeded to the throne, Hiram, while congratulating him, took advantage of the opportunity of initiating closer contacts between the two states. After the congratulatory mission had been sent from Tyre, there was an "exchange of letters" (cf. i Kings 5:16ff.; ii Chron. 2:2ff.) between Hiram and Solomon until an agreement was signed. According to Josephus "many of the letters… are preserved at Tyre to this day" (Apion, 1:111). In Antiquities (8:50–54) these letters were paraphrased by Josephus (and later by Eupolemos; in Eusebius, Praeparatio Evangelica, 9:33ff.). Tyrian aid, skill, and building material, chiefly cedar wood from the Lebanon, were given in exchange for wheat and oil. Furthermore, Hiram received mercantile concessions in exchange for assistance in sending a merchant fleet from Ezion-Geber to Ophir (i Kings 9:26–28). Both Dius and Menander knew of an exchange of riddles between Hiram and Solomon, a story which reminds one of the story of the queen of Sheba "to prove him [Solomon] with hard questions" (i Kings 10:1). B. Mazar has suggested that there may be a direct connection between the cult of Baal-Shamêm, whose worship apparently grew from the 10th century, and Hiram's help in planning, building, and equipping the Temple of Solomon. The date of the founding of the Temple at Jerusalem in the 11th (Jos., Ant., 8:62) or in the 12th (Jos., Apion, 1:126) year of Hiram, which is given by Josephus as based on the Tyrian chronicles, should be rejected; these dates should be applied to the temples rebuilt by Hiram in Tyre. It should be added that Hiram left the throne of Tyre to his son Baal-Ezer. In the aggadah Hiram plays a prominent role, because of his assistance in the building of the Temple (cf. Ginzberg, Legends, index).

(2) Another Hiram, whose title "King of the Zidonians" (cf. i Kings 16:31) is found on a bowl discovered in the vicinity of Limassol (Cyprus), was king in Tyre at the time of Tiglath-Pileser iii. This Hiram is also mentioned (as Ḫi-ru-um-mu) by the Assyrian king in a list of kings paying tribute to him (next to Rezin of Damascus and Menahem of Samaria; Pritchard, Texts, 283; Tadmor, 89). In another text Hiram is accused of conspiring with Rezin (Wiseman, in: Iraq, 18 (1956), 117ff. = Tadmor, 186–87).

(3) Hiram, half-Phoenician, half-Israelite metal craftsman employed in casting the copper (or bronze?) objects for Solomon's Temple (i Kings 7:13–45; ii Chron. 2:12–13; 4:11–16).


Bright, Hist, 183, 191, 201; J. Flemming, The History of Tyre (1915), 16ff.; Mazar, in: piash, 1 no. 7 (1964), 15ff.; Katzenstein, in: bm, 28 (1966), 28ff.; W.F. Albright, Yahweh and the Gods of Canaan (1968), 190–1, 199–200; em, 3 (1965), 122–4 (includes bibliography). add. bibliography: K. Whitelam, in: abd, 2, 203–5; H. Tadmor, The Inscriptions of Tiglath-Pileser iii… (1994), 186–87; H. Katzenstein, The History of Tyre (19972); M. Cogan, iKings (2000), 225–33, 259–73.

[H. Jacob Katzenstein]


views updated May 14 2018

Hiram in the Bible, name of a king of Tyre, who supplied many of the building materials for Solomon's Temple.

Hiram is also the name of a skilled worker in the building of the Temple of Solomon, a figure in the legends of freemasonry.