Hiram sent word to Solomon, ‘I have heard the message that you have sent to me; I will fulfil all your needs in the matter of cedar and cypress timber.'
Hiram is a name used in the Bible to refer to two distinct people. But before we talk about them, let's talk about Tyre.
Tyre was an ancient city on the Phoenician coast. Originally it was an island, but became linked to the mainland by a causeway around 322 B.C.E. So it is now more like a peninsula. It still exists today as a town in Lebanon, making it one of the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world.
This is a map of modern Tyre. Notice how is juts out into the sea, forming a peninsula.
In ancient times, Tyre was dominated by the Phoenicians, a maritime-based culture that was powerful along the coast. In the image below, the green areas were areas dominated by the Phoenicians. Tyre is one of the towns located in the southern portion of the map. Because of Tyre's location and unique geography, it was easier to defend from maritime attacks and it also held a convenient trading position to other nations.
Hiram I was a king of Tyre who ruled from about 969 B.C.E. to 936 B.C.E. During his rule, Tyre experienced its first "golden age". With assistance from King David and the Hebrews, the Philistines were pushed back and unable to dominate the area, so Hiram expressed gratitude to Israel by sending cedars and workmen to assist in the building of a palace for David. As Tyre became wealthy, Hiram tore down its old temples and built new, more ornate ones in their place. Perhaps because of his success building temples in Tyre, Solomon, David's son and new king of Israel, sought Hiram's help in building a temple in Jerusalem. Solomon paid Hiram back with silver and agriculural products (wheat, barley, wine and oil). This trading partnership lasted over twenty years.
It is rumored that Hiram's daughter married King Solomon, cementing their friendship. However, as their trading partnership continued, Solomon had to give twenty cities in Galilee to Hiram, presumably because of debts he owed Hiram. I guess Hiram was better at trade than wise old Solomon!
Below is the Tomb of Hiram I. It dates to the Persian era, about 400 years after Hiram had died...so it's probably more like a monument. It is located about 6 KM southeast of Tyre.
The other Hiram
Funnily, when Hiram agreed to help Solomon build a temple, he sent a master craftsman, skilled in construction, to supervise the technical production of the temple. His name was also Hiram. Not much more is known of him, but I know a new Hiram who seems to have inherited some of his crafting skills. Not to mention steady aim. I'm sure this Hiram had a steady aim with his bow and arrow.
The name Hiram had several different spellings. Hirom, Huram and Ahiram are all used at various points in the Bible. Sadly, I found no references to assassins but I probably just didn't read enough material.