Solomon then took a census of all the foreigners living in Israel, using the same census-taking method employed by his father. They numbered 153,600. He assigned 70,000 of them as common laborers, 80,000 to work the quarries in the mountains, and 3,600 as foremen to manage the work crews. 2 Chronicles 2:17-18 (MSG)
In today’s chapter we see King Solomon employing the same census methods for taking count of the “foreigners” living in Israel. Did Solomon not know that his father repented of his actions in taking the census; “trusting statistics instead of God?” Did Solomon realize that there was a heavy cost placed on David and the country for his actions in taking the census? Did Solomon think that he was okay in taking the census because he was doing it for the work of God’s temple, or that it was okay because he wasn’t counting his fellow Israelites? I’m intrigued to think about Solomons reasoning. Was he ignorant, arrogant, or a combination of both?
For all of Solomon’s lauded wisdom, we see in today’s chapter the foreshadowing of a tragic flaw. Solomon did not learn from his father’s mistakes. He will take a census and then he will put all of the non-Israelites to slave labor for the temple and his own palace. This is the first in a chain of events what will ultimately divide the nation and lead to civil war.
Those who don’t learn from history (even family history) are doomed to repeat it.