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Solomon's servants seem to apply to two categories of people: the first are the descendants, or sons, of those returning from captivity, including those listed, on lists, as the priests, Levites, and second the Nethinim, they would seem to some connection with service to the temple. The term "Solomon's servants" seem to imply inferiority even to the Nethinim, therefore, it is assumed the term really refers to the descendants of the slaves of Solomon. The servitude of the Nethinim, "given to the Lord" was softened by the idea of dedication, their lives were dedicated. The origination is perhaps found in 1 Kings 5:13, 14; 9:20, 21; 2 Chronicles 8:7, 8. The Canaanites who till then had been living with a certain measure of freedom were reduced by Solomon to the Helot state, and compelled to labor in his stone quarries, and build his palaces and cities. To some extent this change was gradual, beginning under King David, but it increased under Solomon, especially in connection with the building of the temple, and this servitude was made more difficult and extended under Reboboam, his successor (1 Chronicles 22:2). This last passage seems to describe their special office. The Nethinim, as in the case of the Gibeonites, were appointed to be hewers of wood (Joshua 9:23), and this was enough for them to be included in the services of the tabernacle. For the construction and repairs of the temple a different kind of labor was required, and the new slaves were set to the work of hewing and squaring stone (1 Kings 5:17, 18). Their descendants appear to have formed a distinct order, perhaps inheriting the same function and skill. A.G.H.
Unger, Merrill F., Unger's Bible Dictionary, Chicago,
Moody Press, 1966, p. 1037