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King Hiram I

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Hiram I
King of Tyre
Reign 980 – 947 BC
Born 1000 BC
Birthplace Tyre, presumed
Died 947 or 946 BC
Predecessor Abibaal,  ?? – 981 BC
Successor Baal-Eser I (Beleazarus I, Ba‘l-mazzer I) 946 – 930 BC
Dynasty Dynasty of Abibaal and Hiram I
Father Abibaal
Mother unknown

Hiram I (Hebrew: חִירָם, "high-born"; Standard Hebrew Ḥiram, Tiberian vocalization Ḥîrām, Arabic: حيرام), according to the Bible, was the Phoenician king of Tyre. He reigned from 980 BC to 947 BC, succeeding his father, Abibaal. Hiram was succeeded as king of Tyre by his son Baal-Eser I.[1] Hiram is also mentioned in the writings of Menander of Ephesus, as preserved in Josephus’s Against Apion, where some additional information is given that is not found in the Bible. One such item is that Hiram lived 53 years, and reigned 34.


During Hiram's reign, Tyre grew from a satellite of Sidon into the most important of Phoenician cities, and the holder of a large trading empire. He suppressed the rebellion of the first Tyrean colony at Utica, near the later site of Carthage (Against Apion i:18).

The Bible says that he allied himself with King Solomon of Israel, the upcoming power of the region. Through the alliance with Solomon, Hiram ensured himself access to the major trade routes to Egypt, Arabia and Mesopotamia. The two kings also joined forces in starting a trade route over the Red Sea, connecting the Israelite harbour of Ezion-Geber with a land called Ophir (2 Chronicles 8:16,17).

Both kings grew rich through this trade and Hiram sent Solomon architects, workmen and cedar wood to build the First Temple in Jerusalem. He also extended the Tyrean harbour, enlarged the city by joining the two islands on which it was built, and built a royal palace and a temple for Melqart (Against Apion i:17).

Chronology of Hiram’s Reign

Hiram’s beginning date is derived from the statement of Josephus, citing both Tyrian court records and the writings of Menander,[2] relating that 143 years passed between the start of construction of Solomon’s Temple until the founding of Carthage (or until Dido’s flight that led to its construction). Josephus also related that Hiram’s reign began 155 years and 8 months before this event, and that Temple construction began in his twelfth year, 143 years before the building of Carthage. The redundancy inherent in these multiple ways of expressing the total years (the 143 years is mentioned twice, and the 155 years minus 12 years once) has guaranteed that all extant copies of Josephus/Menander that contain these passages give 155 years and 8 months between the start of Hiram’s reign and the foundation of Carthage. (One copy has 155 years and 18 months, but this is an obvious error for 155 years and eight months.) Modern historians have therefore had confidence in the 155-year figure and have used it to date Hiram’s reign.

However, classical authors give two dates for the Carthage’s founding: 825 BC and 814 BC. The 814 date is derived from the Greek historian Timaeus (c. 345-260 BC) and the 825 date from the writings of Pompeius Trogus (1st century BC). The 814 date is more generally accepted, and so earlier historians calculated the start of Hiram’s reign as occurring in 814 + 155 = 969 BC. See the Pygmalion article for the proposal of J. M. Peñuela that 825 BC was the date Dido left Tyre, but she did not start construction of Carthage until 11 years later, in 814 BC.

In 1951, an inscription was published that showed that Shalmaneser III of Assyria received tribute, in 841 BC, from a certain Baa‘li-maanzer of Tyre.[3] The name Baa‘li-maanzer was interpreted by eminent philologists such as Frank Moore Cross[4] as referring to Baal-Eser II/Balazeros, grandfather of Pygmalion. According to Josephus/Manetho, it was during Pygmalion’s seventh year that Dido fled from Tyre. Consequently, the dates of Pygmalion have always been computed based on the date calculated for Dido’s flight, which was assumed to take place in the same that she founded Carthage. But when 814 was taken as Pygmalion’s seventh year, the dates for his father and grandfather, as based on the best texts of Josephus/Manetho, were not compatible with his grandfather being on the throne in 841 BC and giving tribute to Shalmaneser in that year. For this reason, several scholars reexamined the 825 date for Dido’s flight (Pygmalion’s seventh year) and found that 825 BC was consistent with the Assyrian inscription. For further details of the scholars involved and their reasoning, see the Pygmalion article.

Measuring the 155 years from 825 BC gave a new date for the first year of Hiram: 825 + 155 = 980 BC. 980 BC also proved an excellent match with another date, one calculated from the Scriptural texts related to the reign of Solomon. Based on Edwin R. Thiele’s widely accepted date of 931/930 BC for the division of the kingdom after the end of Solomon’s 40-year reign,[5] Solomon’s fourth year, when construction of the Temple began (1 Kings 6:1) can be calculated as starting in Tishri (roughly October) of 968 BC.[6] Josephus, citing both Tyrian court records and the writings of Menander, says that it was in Hiram’s 12th year that he sent assistance to Solomon for building the Temple. With 980 as the starting date for Hiram, his twelfth year would be 969 or 968 BC, in excellent agreement with the Biblical date for this event.

As pointed out by William Barnes, the date for the start of Temple construction using the Tyrian data is derived “wholly independently” of the way that date is derived using the Scriptural data.[7] It is this consideration, plus the evidence of the tribute from Baa‘li-maanzer/Baal-Eser II to Shalmaneser III, that has led to the adoption of the chronologies of Frank M. Cross and other scholars for the Tyrian kings in the present article. Hiram’s first year is therefore accepted as 980 BC instead of the 969 BC that was favored before publication of the Shalmaneser inscription.


The alleged sarcophagus of Hiram is located "two hours" walk southeast of Tyre, a colossal limestone sarcophagus on a high pedestal"[8], so-called Qabr Hiram.[9] It is not to be confused with the famous Ahiram sarcophagus.

Masonic tradition

In Masonic tradition Hiram I is considered one of three founding Grand Masters of the fraternity. He appears in Masonic ritual as the provider of materials, money and craftsmen for the construction of Solomon's Temple. This comes from the Biblical account of the alliance between Solomon's Israel and Hiram I's Tyre. In Masonic legend, King Hiram is said to have sent his most skilled master craftsman, Hiram Abiff, to serve as the construction's foreman.[10]. Masonic tradition expands on the few, short Biblical references and creates an allegory that is not purported to be factual.

In modern fiction

King Hiram is a character in the time travel story Ivory, and Apes, and Peacocks (1983) by Poul Anderson.

See also


Some or all of this article is forked from Wikipedia. The original article was at King Hiram I. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.

  1. Vance, Donald R. (March 1994) "Literary Sources for the History of Palestine and Syria: The Phœnician Inscriptions" The Biblical Archaeologist 57(1) 2-19.
  2. Against Apion i:17,18.
  3. Fuad Safar, “A Further Text of Shalmaneser III from Assur,” Sumer 7 (1951) 3-21.
  4. F. M. Cross, “An Interpretation of the Nora Stone,” Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 208 (1972) 17, n. 11.
  5. Edwin R. Thiele, The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings (Grand Rapids: Zondervan/Kregle, 1983) 78.
  6. That Judean regnal years were reckoned as starting in Tishri is demonstrated in ibid., 51-53. Solomon’s 40th and last year started in Tishri of 932 BC and extended to the day before Tishri 1 of 931 BC. His fourth year, 36 years earlier, began in Tishri of 968, and included the start of Temple construction in the spring of 967.
  7. William H. Barnes, Studies in the Chronology of the Divided Monarchy of Israel (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1991) 31.
  8. [1]
  9. C.R.Conder and H.H.Kitchener, The Survey of Western Palestine I. Galilee, London 1881, S. 61-64
  10. See, e.g., "History of Masonry"

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