1 Kings 5:15–17 (ESV)

15 Solomon also had 70,000 burden-bearers and 80,000 stonecutters in the hill country,

These three verses continue with the account of the gathering of building materials for the erecting of the Temple. Here the emphasis is on the stones that the building required. Once again we are given the knowledge of the enormous size of the project by the number of people that it required to complete the task. The number of 70,000 burden-bearers astonishes the mind, but that number is less by 10,000 than the 80,000 stonecutters. Added to that are the 3,300 overseers bringing the entire workforce mentioned here to a total of 153,300.

1 Kings 5:17 shows us how Solomon intended to use at least some of the stones. They were to be foundation stones. The great quantity indicates that he wanted the foundation of the Lord's house to be secure. The verse also tells us that the stones were gathered for use by quarrying. We must view the labour of both the stonecutters and the burden-bearers as intensive and hard.

Since we remarked earlier on the constitution of the forced labour as possibly consisting of Gentiles living within Israel, it is worthy to note that the text in these verses does not speak of the workers as forced. What are we to learn from this? It may be that the writer expects us to assume that these also are forced labourers because the others were, but it is also possible that he intended that we understand that these workers were not conscripts.