At long-last there was peace and Solomon set about building the temple that his father, David had been unable to think about because of the wars. Hiram, who had been a close friend of David, provided Cedar and Cypress wood. Solomon was most complimentary about the wood-cutting skills of Hiram’s people, and paid handsomely for the work.
I love the historic minutiae: another passage explains how thousands of trees were transported in a sophisticated operation involving log-rafts floating 100 miles by sea, then carried overland a further 50 miles to Jerusalem – a massive undertaking before the building work could begin.
A phenomenal number of people were involved;here’s where I start to struggle with the story.
Did you notice the phrase ‘conscripted forced labour’?
My Study-Bible tells me that the conscripted force would have been mainly ‘aliens with permanent residency in Israel’.
It looks to me, like modern-day slavery.
Even without going into the enormous issues of historic slavery that are being discussed in the denominations; as 21st Century disciples and churches we need to face what is going on here and now.
It’s easy to pretend we’re not involved, but as we prepare for Christmas and think about a baby born in exile and poverty, we should ask; “who made those Christmas jumpers and harvested the vegetables?” Ask about the people who clean our cars and do our nails for this ‘season of goodwill’.
Modern-day slavery is real. It’s on our doorsteps in urban, suburban and rural areas; it’s in our shops, it’s happening to people we know; people who make our lives comfortable.
We cannot be disciples sharing God’s love if we don’t ask questions and act.
It’s terribly complicated… but if in doubt… perhaps don’t buy!
Let’s try to ensure that no slave-owners benefit from our happy Christmas.
Author: David Wiggs
I am the webmaster for Purley United Reformed Church and have been involved with the church since my late teens. I work in Croydon and live in Caterham.