I Kings 7

 

 

Solomon’s Palaces and the Preparation of the Temple Vessels (vs. 1-51)

 

The first twelve verses of this chapter constitute a break in the long account of the

Temple,  its furniture and its consecration.  The historian having described the Temple

buildings, before he passes on to speak of their contents pauses for a moment to

record a few particulars as to the building of the suite of palaces which next occupied

Solomon’s attention.

 

1  But Solomon was building his own house thirteen years, and he finished

all his house.  2 He built also the house of the forest of Lebanon; the length

thereof was an hundred cubits, and the breadth thereof fifty cubits, and the

height thereof thirty cubits, upon four rows of cedar pillars, with cedar beams

upon the pillars.  4  And it was covered with cedar above upon the beams, that

lay on forty five pillars, fifteen in a row.  4 And there were windows in three rows,

and light was against light in three ranks.  5 And all the doors and posts were

square, with the windows: and light was against light in three ranks.  6 And he

made a porch of pillars; the length thereof was fifty cubits, and the breadth

thereof thirty cubits: and the porch was before them: and the other pillars and

the thick beam were before them.  7 Then he made a porch for the throne

where he might judge, even the porch of judgment: and it was covered with

cedar from one side of the floor to the other.  8 And his house where he dwelt

had another court within the porch, which was of the like work. Solomon made

also an house for Pharaoh's daughter, whom he had taken to wife, like unto this

porch.”  This would seem to have been the private residence of the queen, not the harem

where all the wives and concubines (ch. 11:3) were collected. It was evidently distinct

from and behind the residence of the king, an arrangement which still prevails in Eastern

palaces

 

9 “All these were of costly stones, according to the measures of hewed stones,

sawed with saws, within and without, even from the foundation unto the coping,

and so on the outside toward the great court.  10 And the foundation was of costly

stones, even great stones, stones of ten cubits, and stones of eight cubits.

11  And above were costly stones, after the measures of hewed stones, and cedars.

12 And the great court round about was with three rows of hewed stones, and a

row of cedar beams, both for the inner court of the house of the LORD, and for

the porch of the house.”

 

 After this brief account of the royal palaces, the author proceeds to mention the vessels

 used in the temple service, prefacing his description by a few words respecting the great

Tyrian artist, by whom they were for the most part cast, and possibly designed also.

 

 

13 “And king Solomon sent and fetched Hiram out of Tyre.”  This is our historian’s

brief version of the transaction which is recorded in II Chronicles 2:7-14. He has not

mentioned before (ch. 5:6) Solomon’s request for a master builder. Hiram, like his

namesake the king, (this is a different person than the one in ch. 5) is elsewhere

(II Chronicles 2:11-13; 4:11,16) called Huram or Hirom (v. 40). In the first of these

passages the king calls him “Huram my father”; in the last he is designated “Huram his

father.” The title Ab (Genesis 45:8; II Kings 2:12; 5:13; 6:21; 8:9)  shows the high

esteem in which he was held. It can hardly be, as some have supposed, a proper name.

It may signify “counsellor,” or master, i.e., master builder. The Tyrians evidently

regarded him with some pride.  He was the principal architect and engineer sent by

King Hiram to Solomon and as the next verse states was of a mixed marriage.

14 He was a widow's son of the tribe of Naphtali, and his father was a man of

Tyre, a worker in brass: and he was filled with wisdom, and understanding,

and cunning to work all works in brass. And he came to king Solomon, and

wrought all his work.  15 For he cast two pillars of brass, of eighteen cubits

high apiece: and a line of twelve cubits did compass either of them about.”

16 And he made two chapiters of molten brass, to set upon the tops of

the pillars: the height of the one chapiter was five cubits, and the height of

the other chapiter was five cubits:  17 And nets of checker work, and wreaths

of chain work,” - It seems almost in vain to try and speculate on what was the exact

form of the decoration of these celebrated pillars. The nets of checker work, and

wreaths of chain work, etc., are all features applicable to metal architecture;

 for the chapiters which were upon the top of the pillars; seven for the one

chapiter, and seven for the other chapiter.  18 And he made the pillars, and

two rows round about upon the one network,” - The relation between the

two rows of pomegranates and the plaited work is not clearly defined, but it is

generally and correctly assumed that one row ran round the pillars below the plaited

work and the other above. The pomegranates, one hundred in number in each row

(II Chronicles 3:16), four hundred in all (Ibid. 4:13; Jeremiah 52:23), would thus

 form a double border to the chain work – “to cover the chapiters that were

upon the top, with pomegranates: and so did he for the other chapiter.

19 And the chapiters that were upon the top of the pillars were of lily work”

The lily (ˆv"Wv), from vWv), to be white), was undoubtedly an emblem of purity.

Bahr observes that it may justly be named “the flower of the promised land,” and

that as the lotus was the religious flower of the Indian and Egyptian religions, so was

the lily of the Jewish -“in the porch, four cubits.”  20And the chapiters upon the

two pillars had pomegranates also above, over against the belly which was

by the network: and the pomegranates were two hundred in rows round about

upon the other chapiter.  21 And he set up the pillars in the porch of the temple:

and he set up the right pillar, and called the name thereof Jachin: and he set up

the left pillar, and called the name thereof Boaz.”  Evidence appears to favor the

view that Jachin and Boaz were monuments erected in the porch, to dignify the

sanctuary, and to symbolize the power and eternity of the Being to whom it

was dedicated: -  and he set up the right pillar, and called the name

thereof Jachin [i.e., he shall establish, as marg. The name expressed the

belief that God would preserve and protect the new building - and he set up the left

pillar [the left as one faced them from the house. The right hand is identified with the

south in v. 39], and called the name thereof Boaz. [Marg. in it is strength. Probably

in Him, i.e., God, is its strength” (Isaiah 45:24).  The thought of Jachin, He will

establish,” is thus continued; and the two pillars pointed alike to the God of Israel as

the true support and upholder of His sanctuary. The LXX. interpretation of these

two names, Kato>rqwsivkator-thoosis  - success - and jIsco>v -– is-khoos

strength -  (II Chronicles 3:17), , though very far from literal, preserves their

fundamental ideas.  22 “And upon the top of the pillars was lily work:” The two

pillars would thus resemble two giant plants, the column answering to the stalk, the

capital to the flower.  The ideas of architecture, it is well known, have very

frequently been derived from the vegetable kingdom - “so was the work of the

pillars finished.

 

Additional Notes on the Pillars of Brass (vs. 15-22)

 

If, as some think, the importance of any Scripture subject is to be gauged

by the space assigned to it in the sacred page, then surely the fact that eight

long verses of this chapter are occupied with the description of these two

columns and their capitals proves, first, their importance in the eyes of

Jewish writers, and, secondly, that they must have a significance for the

minds of Christian readers. But the importance of these monuments (which

is also attested

 

  • by their position — in the very forefront of the temple — the first

objects that would strike the eye of the beholder and

 

  • by their isolation — they were apparently unconnected with the edifice

and served a purpose of their own) is not due to what they were in

themselves. No doubt they were regarded in that age as wonderful works

of art. Probably they were the largest castings either accomplished or

attempted up to that date. And from the minute details of their capitals,

the checker work, chain work, net work, lily work — details evidently

recorded with some degree of pride and wonderment on the part of the

historian — we may reasonably infer that there “were not the like made in

any kingdom” (ch. 10:20). But it is not because of this that so

much prominence is accorded to them in Scripture; it is because of their

connection with the temple. Their glory is reflected on them from the

sanctuary. They are mentioned “because of the house of the Lord our

God,” of which they were the handmaids and ornaments. We are led,

therefore, to inquire:

 

I. WHAT MEANING THEY HAD FOR THE JEW?

 

  • But in order to arrive at their meaning, we must first consider their

purpose. We have seen that they were not structural, but monumental

(note on ver. 21); in fact they served instead of an inscription upon the

building. The Western world, with its love of the concrete, often stamps its

great edifices with appropriate legends. But the children of the East have

ever preferred the mystical teaching of symbolism. For them there has

always been a charm in “the view of things half seen.” And so the Jewish

temple bore no letters on its front, but its representative pillars stood forth,

embodiments in themselves of the ideas of the building, and silently

proclaimed its object and character. And this is the teaching they had for

the wise:

 

ü      That the temple was strong and firm and lasting. Their very materials

proclaimed this. They were not of perishing wood or stone, but of

enduring bronze. Then, they were of unusual girth in proportion to

their height, for whereas the shaft was 12 cubits in circumference,

it was but 18 cubits high (Jeremiah 52:21). The first impression they

gave, consequently, would be that of strength, of fixity, and so they

spoke, by their very character as well as by their names, of the stability

 of the house. It was no longer a tent (Isaiah 38:12), it was a house of

cedar (II Samuel 7:2).  The two columns, that is to say, served instead

of these two inscriptions, “I have surely built thee a house to dwell in,

 a settled place for thee to abide in forever” (ch. 8:13), and” This is my

rest forever here will I dwell, for I have desired it” (Psalm 132:14).

 

ü      That its strength and stability were in God. Of course this is an idea

which symbolism could only express imperfectly. And yet it may be (as

some have thought) that the brazen pillars would recall to some minds the

pillar of cloud, the token of God’s presence. And if we may see in the

steeple a “silent finger . pointing to the sky,” then surely these erect

columns may have carried men’s thoughts upwards to the throne of God.

But if not, the names, Jachin, Boaz, at any rate, witnessed for Him and

proclaimed Him to all as the hope and stay of the new sanctuary. It was,

therefore, as if in the place of pillars these superscriptions also had been

conspicuous on the temple: for Jachin — “God is in the midst of her; she

shall not be removed;” and for Boaz — “Except the Lord build the house,

they labour in vain that build it” (Psalm 127:1. Note. This psalm is

ascribed to Solomon. And these words were inscribed on the late

Eddystone lighthouse).

 

ü      That it was the shrine of a holy God. The two columns, standing as

sentinels over the house, confronted all who came into its courts with the

idea of consecration. We have seen that column and chapiter together bore

a rough resemblance to a lily — the column the stalk, the chapiter the

flower. Now the lily is the emblem of purity (see v. 19).  The” lily work

in the porch” proclaimed the house as belonging to the All-Holy One of

Israel. The columns, therefore, in their esoteric symbolic language, spoke

to the same effect as if these words had been blazoned on the temple’s

front (as on the high priest’s mitre): “Holiness unto the Lord” (Exodus

28:36; 39:30), or these, “I the Lord your God am holy” (Leviticus 19:2;

21:8).

 

ü      That it was for the worship of a holy people. The chapiters were

fashioned after a lily cup. The columns, i.e., blossomed into purity under

the shelter of the sanctuary, and so proclaimed that holiness was to be the

product of the temple services and ritual. They served accordingly as

memoranda both to priests and worshippers. It is said that on the front of

the second temple words were inscribed, viz., these: “Know before whom

thou art going to stand.” In this first temple the two columns spoke to the

same purport. To the priests they cried, “Be ye clean that bear the vessels

of the Lord” (Isaiah 52:11); to the people they spoke, like the “fringe

with the ribband of blue,”Be ye holy unto your God” (Numbers 15:

38,40).

 

ü      That it was for a people zealous of good works. On the columns were

400 pomegranates. Pomegranates are said to be emblems of fruitfulness. If

so, they taught the Hebrew worshipper this last lesson — they served

instead of this inscription, “Thou shalt not delay to offer the first of thy

ripe fruits” (Exodus 22:29); or this, “He looked that his vineyard

should bring forth grapes” (Isaiah 5:2).

 

 

II.  BUT WHAT LESSONS HAVE JACHIN AND BOAZ FOR OURSELVES?

        Do they not speak to us:

 

  • Of the Church, , the “pillar and ground of the truth” (I Timothy 3:15).

The lessons these brazen columns had for the Hebrew people, the same

they have for ourselves, with this difference, that they also speak to us

by their fall. They image forth the stability of the Church — that the gates

of hell shall not prevail against it (Matthew 16:18); that its strength is in

God — its weapons are not carnal, but spiritual (II Corinthians 10:4;

Matthew 28:20; John 15:4); that its object is holiness (Ephesians 1:4; 5:27;

Titus 2:12) and fruitfulness (John 15:8; II Corinthians 9:10; Philippians

1:11). But they have an additional lesson for us, derived from their

destruction. For why were these splendid works of art removed out of their

place, broken up, and carried to Babylon? (Jeremiah 52:17) It was

because their lessons were unheeded, because the people were not pure

 and holy (Jeremiah 22:8-9; 5:31; Acts 7:43). And so we learn — not

that the Church will “likewise perish:” that can never be (Matthew 16:18);

of that it might be said, with a propriety of which the Latin poet was all

unconscious, “Exegi monumentum aere perennius– “I have erected a

monument more lasting than brass” - the columns lasted 423 years, the

Church 2000 already — but that particular churches, if unfaithful, shall

have their candlesticks removed out of their places (Revelation 2:5).

“If God spared not the natural branches, take heed that He also spare not

thee” (Romans 11:21).

 

  • Of the Christian, who shall be “a pillar in the temple of God?”

(Revelation 3:12.)  He may learn hence:

 

ü      To be rooted and grounded in faith and love (Ephesians 3:17;

Colossians 1:23).

 

ü      Not to be carried about by every wind of doctrine (Ephesians 4:14;

James 1:6).

 

ü      That “God is our refuge and strength” (Philippians 4:13;

Colossians 1:11; I Peter 5:10).

 

ü      That we are to “wear the white lily of a blameless life” (II Peter 3:14).

 

ü      And to “bring forth much fruit,” (John 15:5) and

 

ü      That if we overcome, we shall be pillars in the heavenly temple, not to

be broken, or cast into the fire, or to share in the destruction of

Babylon (Revelation 18:2), but to “go out no more forever”

(Revelation 3:12).

 

The writer now passes on to describe the brazen vessels made by Hiram for the temple

use.  23  And he made a molten sea,” so called on account of its unprecedented size

and capacity. It was designed, like the laver of brass in the tabernacle (Exodus 30:18-20),

to contain the water necessary for the ablutions of the priests. For its size and shape see

below -“ten cubits from the one brim to the other: it was round all about,

and his height was five cubits: and a line of thirty cubits did compass it round

about.  24  And under the brim of it round about there were knops” – possibly

a form of bas relief  - “compassing it, ten in a cubit, compassing the sea round

about: the knops were cast in two rows, when it was cast.  25 It stood upon

twelve oxen, three looking toward the north, and three looking toward the

west, and three looking toward the south, and three looking toward the east:

and the sea was set above upon them, and all their hinder parts were inward. 

26 And it was an hand breadth thick,” – three inches -  and the brim thereof

was wrought like the brim of a cup, with flowers of lilies: it contained two

thousand baths.”  The prevailing opinion of scholars is that it was 30 cubits

in circumference only at the lip, and that it bellied out considerably below.  While

the shape, however, must remain a matter of uncertainty, we are left in no doubt

as to its purpose. It was “for the priests to wash in” (II Chronicles 4:6) — not, of

course, for immersing their whole persons, but their hands and feet (Exodus 30:19, 21).

The priests (after Exodus 3:5; Joshua 5:15) ministered barefoot. It was, according to

Rabbinical tradition, provided with taps or faucets (Bahr). It has, however, been held

by some that the water issued forth (as in the Alhambra) from the lions’ mouths. It is

probable that a basin of some sort was attached to it. Whether the laver was filled by

the hand or by some special contrivance, it is quite impossible to say. We know that

provision was made for storing water hard by.

 

27 And he made ten bases of brass; four cubits was the length of one

base, and four cubits the breadth thereof, and three cubits the height of it.

28  And the work of the bases was on this manner: they had borders,

and the borders were between the ledges:” – frames -  29  And on the

borders that were between the ledges were lions, oxen, and cherubims:

and upon the ledges there was a base above:” a pedestal or stand of some

sort -  “and beneath the lions and oxen were certain additions” – wreaths,

festoons – “made of thin work.” - It would seem that on the panel, beneath the

figures of animals, etc., were sculptured hanging festoons of flowers.  30 And every

base had four brasen wheels,” - the lavers were used for washing “such things as

 they offered for burnt offering” (II Chronicles 4:6), and consequently would require

to be continually emptied and refilled, they must of necessity be moveable, so that they

could be taken, now to the sea, or other reservoir, now to the altar - “and plates of

brass: and the four corners thereof had undersetters: (shoulders) under the laver

were undersetters molten, at the side of every addition.  31 And the mouth of it

within the chapiter” -  By this we are, perhaps, to understand a round ornament,

resembling the capital of a pillar, which stood in the center of the dome-shaped

covering (see v. 35) of the stand, and on which the laver rested. Rawlinson says,

“No commentator has given a satisfactory explanation of this passage - ““and

above was a cubit: but the mouth thereof was round after the work of the

base, a cubit and an half: and also upon the mouth of it were gravings with

their borders, foursquare, not round.  32 And under the borders – sides or

panels“were four wheels; and the axletrees of the wheels were joined to

the base: and the height of a wheel was a cubit and half a cubit.  33 And the

work of the wheels was like the work of a chariot wheel: their axletrees, and

their naves, and their felloes, and their spokes, were all molten.  34 And there

were four undersetters to the four corners of one base: and the undersetters

were of the very base itself.  35 And in the top of the base was there a round

compass of half a cubit high:” – a nine inch dome or arch above the top of the base –

and on the top of the base the ledges thereof and the borders thereof were of

the same.  36 For on the plates of the ledges thereof, and on the borders

thereof, he graved cherubims, lions, and palm trees,” – all the open space was

filled with carvings -  “according to the proportion of every one, and additions

round about.  37 After this manner he made the ten bases: all of them had one

casting, one measure, and one size.  38 Then made he ten lavers of brass:

one laver contained forty baths: and every laver was four cubits: and upon

every one of the ten bases one laver.”  Ten lavers would not be at all too many

when we remember the prodigious number of victims which were occasionally

offered.  39 And he put five bases on the right side of the house, and five on

the left side of the house: and he set the sea on the right side of the

house eastward over against the south.”  This passage is decisive as to which

was the right and which the left. The right side was the south. It was probably for

convenience that the sea did not stand due east of the house, i.e., between the porch

and altar.

 

40  And Hiram made the lavers,” – perhaps we ought to read twOrysi, i.e., pots,

here, as in v. 45 and II Chronicles 4:11. This word is joined with shovels and basons,

not only in these two passages, but also in Exodus 27:3, II Kings 25:14, Jeremiah 52:18;

in other words, the appropriate term in this connection would be“pots,” while “lavers,”

having been just mentioned in v. 38, would involve an idle repetition - and the shovels,

and the basons.  So Hiram made an end of doing all the work that he made king

Solomon for the house of the LORD:  41 The two pillars, and the two bowls

of the chapiters that were on the top of the two pillars; and the two networks,

to cover the two bowls of the chapiters which were upon the top of the pillars;”

(see on vs. 16-20) - 42 And four hundred pomegranates for the two networks,

even two rows of pomegranates for one network, to cover the two bowls of

the chapiters that were upon the pillars;  43 And the ten bases, and ten lavers

on the bases;  44 And one sea, and twelve oxen under the sea;  45 And the

pots, and the shovels, and the basons: and all these vessels, which Hiram

made to king Solomon for the house of the LORD, were of bright brass.”

(polished after casting)  46 In the plain of Jordan did the king cast them, in

the clay ground between Succoth and Zarthan.  47 And Solomon left all

the vessels unweighed, because they were exceeding many: neither was

the weight of the brass found out.

 

The sacred record now proceeds to enumerate the vessels, etc., used inside the temple –

those hitherto described having been for external use. These latter, as became the

furniture of a house which blazed in gold, were all of gold, while the former were

of brass. It would seem to be a fair inference, from the omission of Hiram’s name,

that he was not employed on the manufacture of these latter vessels.

 

48  And Solomon made all the vessels that pertained unto the house of

the LORD: the altar of gold, and the table of gold, whereupon the shewbread

was,  49  And the candlesticks of pure gold, five on the right side, and five

on the left, before the oracle, with the flowers, and the lamps, and

the tongs of gold,  50 And the bowls, and the snuffers, and the basons, and

the spoons, and the censers of pure gold; and the hinges of gold, both for

the doors of the inner house, the most holy place, and for the doors of

the house, to wit, of the temple.  51 So was ended all the work that king

Solomon made for the house of the LORD. And Solomon brought in the

things which David his father had dedicated; even the silver, and the gold,

and the vessels, did he put among the treasures of the house of the LORD.”

So that all the store of precious metal and the brass that David had prepared was

not absorbed in the decoration and furniture of the temple. There would seem to

have been a considerable surplus, which was stored in the temple treasury.

 

 

 

 

 

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