Hiram I

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

Hiram I (Hebrew: חִירָם, "high-born"; Standard Hebrew Ḥiram, Tiberian vocalization Ḥîrām, Modern Arabic: حيرام), according to the Hebrew Bible, was the Phoenician king of Tyre. His regnal years have been calculated by some as 980 to 947 BC, in succession to 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 (early 2nd century BC), as preserved in Josephus's Against Apion, which adds to the biblical account. According to Josephus, 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 Hebrew Bible says that he allied himself with King David of the United Kingdom of Israel (2 Samuel 5:11, 1 Kings 5:1, 1 Chronicles 14:1). After the death of King David, Hiram continued the alliance with David's son and successor Solomon, again as an equal ("אחי", meaning "brothers"; see 1 Kings 9:13, Amos 1:9)[2] Through the alliance with Solomon, Hiram ensured himself access to the major trade routes to Egypt, Arabia and Mesopotamia. The two kings also jointly opened a trade route over the Red Sea, connecting the Israelite harbour of Ezion-Geber with a land called Ophir (2 Chronicles 8:16,17). Some schools of thought suggest that this land of Ophir was the port city of Sopara near modern Mumbai (Bombay), India.[3]

According to the Bible, both kings grew rich through this trade, and Hiram sent Solomon architects, workmen, cedar wood, and gold to build the First Temple in Jerusalem. Josephus says that he also extended the Tyrean harbour, enlarged the city by joining the two islands on which it was built, and constructed a royal palace and a temple for Melqart (Against Apion i:17). Modern archaeology has found no evidence for these expansions.[4]

Hypotheses regarding the chronology of Hiram's reign[edit]

The beginning date of Hiram's reign is derived from a statement by Josephus, citing both Tyrian court records and the writings of Menander,[5] 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 founding). Josephus also related that Hiram's reign began 155 years and 8 months before this event, and that construction of Solomon's Temple began in the twelfth year of Hiram's reign, which would be 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.[citation needed][dubious ]

As pointed out by William Barnes (1801–1886), 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.[6] 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.[citation needed]

The so-called "Tomb of Hiram"[edit]

The so-called "Tomb of Hiram" (Qabr Hiram) dates from the Persian period, 4–6 centuries after the presumed time of Hiram.[7] It is located ca. 6 kilometres southeast of Tyre near the village of Hannaouiye/Hanawiya on the road to Qana.[7] It has the form of a colossal limestone sarcophagus on a pedestal.[7]

In modern fiction[edit]

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

See also[edit]


  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. ^ Michael D. Coogan, A Brief Introduction to the Old Testament page 213–214, Oxford University Press, 2009
  3. ^ A. L. Basham, The Wonder That Was India page 232, Picador India
  4. ^ Demand, Nancy H. (2011). The Mediterranean Context of Early Greek History. Wiley-Blackwell. p. 230. ISBN 978-1405155519. 
  5. ^ Against Apion i:17,18.
  6. ^ William H. Barnes, Studies in the Chronology of the Divided Monarchy of Israel (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1991) 31.
  7. ^ a b c Livius.org, The "Tomb of Hiram" at Hannaouiye, accessed 20 July 2016