1 Kings 10:22

For the king had at sea a navy of Tharshish with the navy of Hiram: once in three years came the navy of Tharshish, bringing gold, and silver, ivory, and apes, and peacocks.

For the king had at sea a navy of Tharshish, with the navy of Hiram,.... Tharshish was not the place the navy went from, but whither it went to, as appears from 2 Chronicles 9:21 and designs not Tarsus in Cilicia; nor Tartessus in Spain, or Gades, or which was however near it; though it appears from Strabo {s} and Mela {t} that the Phoenicians were acquainted with those parts, and were possessed of them; and particularly, according to Velleius Paterculus {u}, the navy of Tyre traded thither before the days of Solomen; and Vitringa {w} is clear in it, that these were ships that traded to Tartessus, with the ships of Tyre; and it is more likely that that place is meant than Carthage, now called Tunis, in Africa; though the Targum here calls it the navy, the navy of Africa; but as Tharshish is sometimes used for the sea in general, here it may signify a particular sea, so called: and which Josephus {x} names the Tarsic sea, the same with the Indian sea; and points to the same country where Ophir was, which was washed by it, and to which the two fleets joined were bound. This is observed, to account for it how Solomon came by so much gold:

once in three years came the navy of Tharshish; it returned in such a space of time; navigation not being improved as now, and sailing by coasts, and what with their stay abroad to sell and purchase goods, and to refit their ships, as well as sometimes contrary winds, they were so long in performing this voyage, which is now done in a few months:

bringing gold and silver; so that silver was accounted of, and used for some purposes, though not for the king's plate:

ivory, and apes, and peacocks; ivory is the elephant's tooth, as the word signifies; some of those are of an almost incredible size; some are said to be of ninety, others one hundred and twenty five pounds weight; Vartomannus {y} says, he saw in Sumatra, where some place Ophir, one that weighed three hundred and thirty pounds; though, according to the Ethiopians {z} the ivory is from the horns; and so say {a} Pausanias and others, see Ezekiel 27:15 but it is commonly supposed to be of the two teeth in the upper jaw that stands out; and whether they are called horns or teeth, they are the same of which ivory is: of elephants there were large numbers in India, bigger and stronger than those in Africa; which latter were afraid of the former, as Diodorus Siculus {b}, Curtius {c}, and Pliny {d} relate; so Virgil {e} speaks of ivory as fetched from India and Horace {f} also, which must be East India, for there are no ivory nor apes in the West Indies {g}: "apes" or "monkeys" were then, as now, brought from those parts. Strabo {h} reports, that when the Macedonians under Alexander were there, such a vast number of them came out of the woods, and placed themselves on the open hills, that they took them for an army of men set in battle array to fight them. Vartomannus {i} speaks of monkeys in the country of Calecut, of a very small price: near Surat apes are in great esteem, nor will they suffer them to be killed on any account {k}. There are various sorts of apes, some more like to goats, others to dogs, others to lions, and some to other animals, as Philostorgius {l} relates; and who also says the sphinx is one sort of them, and which he describes on his own sight of it as resembling mankind in many things, and as a very subtle animal; and so Solinus {m} reckons such among apes; but what come nearest in name and sound to the "kuphim" of Solomon here are those Pliny {n} calls "cephi", whose fore feet he says are like the hands of men, and their hinder feet like the feet and thighs of men; and Strabo {o} describes a creature found in Ethiopia, called by him "ceipus" or "cepus", which has a face like a satyr, and the rest of it is between a dog and a bear. There is a creature called "cebus" by Aristotle {p}, and is described as having a tail, and all the rest like a man; according to Ludolf {q}, "cephus" is the "orangoutang" of the Indians. The word for peacocks should rather be rendered "parrots", so Junius; which are well known to come from India {r}, and from thence only, according to Pausanias {s}; Vartomannus {t} says, that at Calecut there are parrots of sundry colours, as green and purple, and others of mixed colours, and such a multitude of them, that men are appointed to keep them from the rice in the fields, as we keep crows from corn; and that they are of a small price, one is sold for two pence, or half a souse; and the number of them may be accounted for, because the Brachmans, the priests, reckon them sacred, and therefore the Indians eat them not {u}. Curtius {w} designs these, when he says, in India are birds, which are taught to imitate man's voice; and Solinus {x} says, that India only produces the green parrot, that is, the East Indies, the West Indies not being then discovered; though some {y} think they were, and that it was thither Solomon's navy went: certain it is there are parrots of various colours in the West Indies, which P. Martyr of Angleria frequently makes mention of in his Decades. Huetius {z} derives the Hebrew word here used from hkt, which he says signifies to "join" or "adhere" to anything, as these birds will; cling to, and hang by their bills and nails on a branch of a tree, &c. so that they are not easily separated from it; the word is used in

Deuteronomy 33:3 and, according to some, in this sense. But, after all, if it should be insisted on, as it is by many, that "peacocks" are meant, these also are found in India. Alexander the great first saw them in this country, which so amazed him, that he threatened to punish those severely that should kill any of them {a}. Vartomannus {b} makes mention of them as in great numbers in some parts of India; and they are caught and sold at an easy rate at Surat {c}, and make part both of their game, and of their grand entertainments {d}; Aeianus {e} often speaks of them as in India in great numbers, and in great esteem.

{s} Geograph. l. 3. p. 104.
{t} De Situ Orbis, l. 2. c. 6.
{u} Hist. l. 1. in principio.
{w} Comment. in Jesaiam, c. 23. 1.
{x} Antiqu. l. 8. c. 7. sect. 2.
{y} Navigat. l. 6. c. 22.
{z} Ludolf. Ethiop. Hist. l. 1. c. 10.
{a} Eliac. 1. p. 308, 309. Vid. Plin. l. 8. c. 3. Aelian. Hist. Animal. l. 4. c. 21. & 7. 2. & 11. 37. & 14. 5. Varro apud Schindler. Lexic Pentaglott. col. 1905.
{b} Bibliothec. l. 2. p. 121. So Polybius, Hist. l. 5.
{c} Hist. l. 8. c. 9.
{d} Nat. Hist. l. 8. c. 9.
{e} "India mittit ebur". Georgic. l. 1. ver. 57.
{f} "---Non aurum et ebur Indicum". Carmin. l. 1. Ode 31. indogenouv

elefantov Manetho. Apotelesm. ver. 297. & l. 4. ver. 149. Philo. de Praemiis, p. 924.
{g} Manasseh Spes Israelis, sect. 2. p. 21. Ortel. Thesaur. Geograh. Varrerius de Ophyra.
{h} Geograph. l. 15. p. 480.
{i} Navigat. l. 5. c. 20.
{k} Ovington's Voyage to Sarat, p. 360, 361, 596.
{l} Eccl. Hist. l. 3. c. 11.
{m} Polyhist. c. 40.
{n} Nat. Hist. l. 8. c. 19.
{o} Ut supra, (Geograph.) l. 17. p. 559.
{p} Hist. Animal. l. 2. c. 8, 9.
{q} Ethiop. Hist. l. 1. c. 10.
{r} Aelian. de Animal. l. 16. c. 2. "Psittacus eois ales mihi missus ab India". Ovid. Amor. l. 2. Eleg. 6.
{s} Corinthiaca, sive, l. 2. p. 136.
{t} Ut supra. (Navigat. l. 5. c. 20.)
{u} Aelian de Animal. l. 13. c. 18.
{w} Ut supra. (Hist. l. 8. c. 9.)
{x} Polyhistor. c. 65.
{y} Erasm. Schmid. de America Orat. ad. Calc. Pindari, p. 261. Vatablus in loc. & in c. 9. 28. Hornius de Gent. Americ. l. 2. c. 6, 7, 8.
{z} De Navigat. Solomon. c. 7. sect. 6.
{a} Aelian. ut supra, (de Animal. l. 16. c. 2.) & l. 5. c. 21. Curtii Hist. l. 9. c. 1.
{b} Navigat. l. 6. c. 7.
{c} Ovington's Voyage to Surat, p. 268, 269.
{d} lbid. p. 398.
{e} De Animal. l. 11. c. 33. & l. 13, 18. & l. 16. c. 2.