II Chronicles 3

 

 

1 “Then Solomon began to build the house of the LORD at Jerusalem

in mount Moriah, where the Lord appeared unto David his father,

in the place that David had prepared in the threshingfloor of Ornan

the Jebusite.  Mount Moriah. This name מוריָה occurs twice in the Old

Testament, viz. here and Genesis 22:2, in which latter reference it is

alluded to as “the land of Moriah,” and “one of the mountains” in it is

spoken of. Whether the name designates the same place in each instance is

more than doubtful. In the present passage the connection of the place with

David is marked. Had it been the spot connected with Abraham and the

proposed sacrifice of Isaac, it is at least probable that this also would have

been emphasized, and not here only, but in II Samuel 24:17-25 and

I Chronicles 21:16-26; but in neither of these places is there the

remotest suggestion of such fame of old belonging to it. Nor in later

passages of history (e.g. Nehemiah’s rebuilding, and in the prophets, and

the New Testament), where the opportunities would have been of the most

tempting, is there found one single suggestion of the kind. There are also at

fewest two reasons of a positive and intriusic character against Solomon’s

Moriah being Abraham’s — in that this latter was a specially conspicuous

height (Genesis 22:4), and was a secluded and comparatively desolate

place, neither of which features attach to Solomon’s Moriah. Nevertheless

the identity theory is stoutly maintained by names as good as those of

Thomson (‘Land and the Book,’ p. 475); Tristram (‘Land of Israel,’ p.

152); Hengstenberg (‘Genuineness of Pentateuch, 2:162, Ryland’s tr.);

Kurtz (‘History of O. C.,’ 1:271); and Knobel and Kalisch under the

passage in Genesis — against Grove (in Dr. Smith’s ‘ Bible Dictionary’);

Stanley (‘ Sinai and Palestine,’ p. 251;’Jewish Church,’ 1. 49); De Wette,

Bleek, and Tischendorf [see ‘Speaker’s Commentary,’ under <012202>Genesis

22:2]. Though there is some uncertainty as to the more exact form of the

derivation of the name Moriah, it seems most probable that the meaning of

it may be “the sight of Jehovah.” Where the Lord appeared unto David

his father. The clause is no doubt elliptical, and probably it is not to be

mended by the inserting of the words, “the Lord,” as in our Authorized

Version. We do not read anywhere that the Lord did then and there appear

to David, though we do read that “the angel of the Lord” appeared to him

(II Samuel 24:16, passim I Chronicles 21:15, 19, passim). Nor is it

desirable to force the niph. preterite of the verb here, rightly rendered

appeared or “was seen,” into “was shown.” We should prefer to solve

the difficulty occasioned by the somewhat unfinished shape of the clause

(or clauses) by reading it in close relation to I  Chronicles 22:1. Then

the vivid impressions that had been made both by works and words of the

angel of the Lord caused David to feel and to say with emphasis, “This is

the (destined) house of the Lord God,” etc. In this light our present

passage would read, in a parenthetic manner, “which (i.e. the house, its

Moriah position and all) was seen of David;” or with somewhat more of

ease, “as was seen of David;” and the following “in the place,” etc., will

read in a breath with the preceding “began to build the house of the Lord at

Jerusalem… in the place,” etc. David had prepared (so I Chronicles

22:2-4). In the threshing-floor of Ornan (so II Samuel 24:18; I Chronicles

21:15-16, 18, 21-28).

 

2 “And he began to build in the second day of the second month, in the

fourth year of his reign.  In the second day. The word “day” as italicized in

our Authorized Version type is of course not found in the Hebrew text. Several

manuscripts fail also to show the other words of this clause, viz. “In the

second;” and that they are probably spurious derives confirmation from the

fact that neither the Arabic nor Syriac Versions, nor the Septuagint nor

Vulgate translations, produce them. In the second month, in the fourth

year. Reading the verse, therefore, as though it began thus, the most

interesting but doubtful question of fixing an exact chronology for what

preceded Solomon’s reign is opened. In our present text there is little sign

of anything to satisfy the offers to do so, if only again to disappoint the

more grievously. There we read of “four hundred and eighty years” from

the Exodus to this beginning of the building of Solomon’s temple. Now,

this latter date can be determined with tolerable accuracy (viz. as some

twenty years before B.C. 1000) by traveling backwards from the date (B.C.

536) of Cyrus taking Babylon, and the beginning of the return from the

Captivity (B.C. 535), making allowance for the seventy years of the

Captivity, the duration of the line of separate Judah-kings, and the

remanet, a large one, of the years of Solomon’s reign. All this, however,

helps nothing at all the period stretching from the Exodus to the beginning

of the building of the temple. And the events of this period, strongly

corroborated by other testimony (see Canon Rawlinson, ‘Speaker’s

Commentary,’ vol. it. pp. 575, 576), seem to show convincingly that no

faith can be reposed in the authenticity of the chronological statement of

our parallel.

 

 

Beginning to Build (vs. 1-2)

 

“Solomon began to build the house of the Lord.” We are frequently in a

similar position; we are starting some sacred enterprise, which, directly or

indirectly, affects the Church of Christ, the kingdom of God. What are the

sentiments and what is the spirit appropriate to such an occasion? But we

may first learn from the text:

 

  • THAT, TO A LARGE EXTENT, OUR POSSESSION IS OUR

HERITAGE. It was a very great privilege Solomon was now enjoying, and

it must have been felt by him to be a high honor and a keen gratification.

How much of it he owed to his father! It was David who conceived the

idea; it was he who gained the sanction of Jehovah; it was he who had

practically gained the valuable cooperation of Hiram (I Kings 5:1); it

was he, also, who had secured an admirable and acceptable site for the

building (I Chronicles 21:18; 22:1). If we examine we shall find that a

very large part of our acquisition, whether it be property (in the usual sense

of that word), or knowledge and intellectual power, or honor, or

affection, or ever character, is due to that which we have inherited from

those who came before us.

 

  • THAT GREATER WORK DEMANDS FULLER PREPARATION.

The building of the temple was certainly one of the very first things that

Solomon considered and determined upon when he came to the throne.

Yet it was not until “the second month, in the fourth year of his reign,” that

the erection actually commenced. So great a work took large preparation.

We show our sense of the real seriousness and magnitude of the work we

do for God when we take time and spend strength in its preparation. To go

with haste and heedlessness to any sacred work, even though the “house of

the Lord” we arc building is not one of magnificence (I Chronicles

22:5), is a spiritual misdemeanor; to enter upon any great undertaking in

the name and cause of Jesus Christ without much patient thought and

earnest effort in the way of preparation is wholly wrong.

 

  • THAT THE COMMENCEMENT OF A GREAT WORK IS A

MEMORABLE MOMENT. It was fitting that the very day when this great

work began should be recorded, as it is in Holy Writ (v. 2). It was a

memorable moment in Solomon’s reign and in the history of the Jews. For

then began to rise a building which had an immense and, indeed, an

incalculable influence on the nation, and so upon mankind. Such times are

sacred. Of all those days to which, in later years, we look back with

interest and joy, none will stand out so clearly, and none will give us such

pure and strong gratification, as the days when we instituted some

movement in the cause of Christ, in the service of our fellow-men.

 

  • THAT THIS HOUR OF COMMENCEMENT SHOULD BE A

VERY SACRED TIME TO OUR SOULS. It may well be one of:

 

Ø      Joyful eagerness; for there is something very inspiring in the act of

commencing a truly noble work — it exhilarates and animates the soul. It

should also be one of:

 

Ø      Special prayerfulness; for then we urgently need the guiding and

guarding hand of our God to be upon us.

 

Ø      Steadfast purpose; for there will be unanticipated difficulties and

disheartening delays, possibly much temporary disappointment and partial

failure, and a strong, resolute purpose will be needed to carry us through to

the end.

 

Ø      Unselfish devotedness. We must ever keep in mind that the “house” we

are erecting, of whatever kind it be, is the house “of the Lord.” If we fail to

realize that it is for Christ that we are working, our labor will lose its

excellency, its inspiration, and its reward.

 

 

3 “Now these are the things wherein Solomon was instructed for the

building of the house of God. The length by cubits after the first

measure was threescore cubits, and the breadth twenty cubits.

Now these. Perhaps the easiest predicate to supply to this

elliptical clause is are the measures, or the cubits. Was instructed. The

verb is hoph. conjugation of יָסַד; to “found;” and the purport of the clause

is that Solomon caused the foundations of the building to be laid of such

dimensions by cubit Ezra 3:11 and Isaiah 28:16 give the only other

occurrences of the hoph. conjugation of this verb. Cubits after the first

measure. This possibly means the cubit of pre-Captivity times, but at all

events the Israelites’ own ancient cubit — perhaps a hand-breadth

(Ezekiel 43:13) longer than the present, or seven in place of six. The

cubit (divided into six palms, and a palm into four finger-breadths) was the

unit of Hebrew lineal measure. It stands for the length from the elbow to

the wrist, the knuckle, or the tip of the longest finger. There is still

considerable variation in opinion as to the number of inches that the cubit

represents, and considerable perplexity as to the two or three different

cubits (Deuteronomy 3:11; Ezekiel 40:5; 43:13) mentioned in

Scripture. One of the latest authorities, Conder (‘Handbook to the Bible,’

2nd edit., pp. 56-59, 371, 386), gives what seem to be reasons of almost

decisive character for regarding the cubit of the temple buildings as one of

sixteen inches. The subject is also discussed at length in Smith’s ‘ Bible

Dictionary,’ 3:1736 — 1739. And the writer finally concludes to accept,

under protest, Thenius’s calculations, which give the cubit as rather over

nineteen inches.

 

4 “And the porch that was in the front of the house, the length of it

was according to the breadth of the house, twenty cubits, and the

height was an hundred and twenty: and he overlaid it within with

pure gold.”  The porch… an hundred and twenty. The “porch” (אוּלָם,

Greek, πρόναος – ho pronaos). It is out of the question that the porch should

be of this height in itself. And almost as much out of the question that, if it

could be so, this should be the only place to mention it by word or description.

There can be no doubt that the text is here slightly corrupt, and perhaps it

is a further indication of this that, while the parallel contains nothing of the

height, this place fails (but comp. our v. 8) to give the breadth (“ten

cubits”), which the parallel does give. The words for “hundred” and for

cubit easily confuse with one another. And our present Hebrew text,

מֵאָה וְעִשְׂרִים, read עְמות עְשֵׂרִים, will make good Hebrew syntax, and

be in harmony with the Septuagint (Alexandrian), and with the Syriac and

Arabic Versions. This gives the height of the porch as 20 cubits, which will

be in harmony with the general height of the building, which was 30 cubits.

Thus far, then, the plan of the temple is plain. The house is 60 cubits long,

i.e. 20 for the holy of holies (דְּבִיר or קֹדֶשׁ קָדָשִׁים);40 for the holy place

(הֵיכָל); and for breadth 20 cubits. The porch was in length the same as

the breadth of the house, viz. 20 cubits, but in breadth it was 10 cubits

(I Kings 6:3) only, while its height was 20 cubits, against a height of 30

cubits for the “house” (ibid. v. 2). Overlaid it within with pure

gold; i.e. covered the planks with gold leaf, or sometimes with plates of

gold (Ovid., ‘L Epp. ex. Pont,’ 1:37, 38, 41, 42; Herod., 1:98; Polyb.,

10:27. § 10). The appreciation, as well as bare knowledge, of gold

belonged to a very early date (Genesis 2:12). The days when it was

used in ring or lump (though not in coin) for sign of wealth and for

purposes of exchange, and also for ornament (Genesis 13:2; 24:22;

41:42), indicate how early were the beginnings of metallurgy as regards it,

though much more developed afterwards (Proverbs 17:3; Isaiah 40:19; 46:6);

and show it in the time of David and Solomon no rare art, even though foreign

workmen, for obvious reasons, were the most skilful workers with it. There

are four verbs used to express the idea of overlaying, viz.

 

(a) חָפָה, in hiph. This occurs only in this chapter, vs. 5, 7, 8, 9; but in

niph. Psalm 68:13 may be compared.

 

(b) עָלָה, in hiph. This occurs in the present sense, though not necessarily

staying very closely by it; in ch. 9:15-16, and its parallel (I Kings 10:16-17);

and perhaps in II Samuel 1:24. The meaning of the word, however, is evidently

so generic that it scarcely postulates the rendering “overlay.”

 

(c) צָפָה in piel. This occurs in our present verse, as also in a multitude of

other places in Chronicles, Kings, Samuel, and Exodus. The radical idea of

the verb (kal) is “to be bright.”

 

(d) רָדַך in hiph. This occurs only once (I Kings 6:32). No one of

these verbs in itself bespeaks certainly of which or what kind the overlaying

might be, unless it be the last, the analogy of which certainly points to the

sense of a thin spreading.

 

5 “And the greater house he ceiled with fir tree, which he overlaid with fine

gold, and set thereon palm trees and chains.”  The greater house; i.e. the holy

place. He ceiled. This rendering is wrong. The verb is (a), given above (v. 4). It is

repeated in the next clause of this very verse as “overlaid,” as also in vs. 7-9. The

generic word “covered” would serve all the occasions on which the word

occurs here. From a comparison of the parallel it becomes plain that the

meaning is that the stone structure of floor and walls was covered over

with wood (I Kings 6:7, 15, 18). That wood for the floor was fir (ibid. v.15),

probably also for the walls, which must depend partly on the

translation of this v. 15. It would seem to say that (beside the stone)

there was an inner stratum, both to walls and floor, of cedar (reason for

which would be easy of conjecture). But another translation obviates the

necessity of this inner stratum supposition, rendering “from the floor to the

top of the wall.” According to this, while the overlaying gold was on cedar

for walls and ceiling (I Kings 6:9), it was on fir for the floor, which

does not seem what our present verse purports, unless, according to the

suggestion of some, “fir” be interpreted to include cedar. Set thereon

palm trees and chains. These were, of course, carvings. The chains, not

mentioned in the parallel (I Kings 6:29; but see 7:17), were probably wreaths

of chain design or pattern. Easier modern English would read “put thereon.”

 

6 “And he garnished the house with precious stones for beauty: and

the gold was gold of Parvaim.” He garnished. The verb employed is (d) of v. 4,

supra (Revelation 21:19-20). Precious stones. The exact manner in which these

were applied or fixed is not stated. What the precious stones were,

however, need not be doubtful (I Chronicles 29:2; the obvious

references for which passage, Isaiah 54:11-12 and Revelation 21:18-21,

cannot be forgotten. See also Ezekiel 27:16; Song of Solomon 5:14;

Lamentations 4:7). For beauty; i.e. to add beauty to the house. Parvaim.

What this word designates, or, if a place, where the place was, is not known.

Gesenius (‘Lexicon,’ sub vet.) would derive it from a Sanskrit word, purva,

meaning “oriental.” Hitzig suggests another Sanskrit word, paru, meaning “hill,”

and indicating the “twin hills” of Arabia (Prof., 6:7. § 11) as the derivation. And

Knobel suggests that it is a form of Sepharvaim, the Syriac and Jonathan Targum

version of Sephar (Genesis 10:30). The word does not occur in any other Bible

passage (see Dr. Smith’s ‘Bible Dictionary,’ vol. it. p. 711).

 

The name of an unknown place or country whence the gold was

procured for the decoration of Solomons temple. ( 2 Chronicles 3:6 )

We may notice the conjecture that it is derived from the Sanscrit purva ,

"eastern," and is a general term for the east.

 

7 “He overlaid also the house, the beams, the posts, and the walls

thereof, and the doors thereof, with gold; and graved cherubims on

the walls.”  And graved cherubim. In the parallel this statement is placed

in company with that respecting the “palms and flowers. Layard tells us

that all the present description of decoration bears strong resemblance to

the Assyrian. There can be no difficulty in imagining this, both in other

respects, and in connection with the fact that foreigners, headed by the

chief designer Hiram, had so large a share in planning the details of temple

workmanship.

 

8 “And he made the most holy house, the length whereof was according to

the breadth of the house, twenty cubits, and the breadth thereof twenty

cubits: and he overlaid it with fine gold,amounting to six hundred talents.” 

The most holy house. The writer proceeds from speaking of

the greater house” (v. 5), or holy place, to the “holy of holies.” The

parallel (I Kings 6:20) adds the height, as also 20 cubits. Six hundred

talents. It is impossible to assert with any accuracy the money value

intended here. Six hundred talents of gold is an amazing proportion of the

yearly revenue of 666 talents of gold, spoken of in I Kings 10:14. This

latter amount is worth, in Keil’s estimate, about three million and three

quarters of our money (two hundred years ago – according to the internet

it would be around one billion dollars today - CY – 2016), but in Peele’s

estimate nearer double that! The Hebrew, Phoenician, and Assyrian unit of

weight is the same, and one quite different from the Egyptian. The silver talent

(Hebrew, ciccar, כִּכָּר) contained 60 manehs, each maneh being equal to 50

shekels, and a shekel being worth 220 grains; i.e. there were 3000 shekels,

or 660,000 grains, in such talent. But the gold talent contained 100 manehs,

the maneh 100 shekels, and the shekel 132 grains, making this gold talent

the equivalent of 10,000 shekels, or 1,320,000 grains. The “holy shekel,”

or “shekel of the sanctuary,” could be either of gold or silver (Exodus 38:23-25).

(For some treatment of this still unsatisfactory subject, see Dr. Smith’s  Bible

Dictionary,’ 3:1727-1736; and Conder’s ‘ Handbook to the Bible,’ 2nd

edit., pp. 64-78, 81.)

 

9 “And the weight of the nails was fifty shekels of gold. And he overlaid the

upper chambers with gold.”  The weight of the nails, fifty shekels of gold.

According to the above scale, therefore, this weight would be a twelve-thousandth

part for the nails of all the weight of the overlaying plates of gold. The upper

chambers. This is the first mention of these “chambers” in the present

description, but they have been alluded to by the Chronicle writer before,

in I Chronicles 28:11. What or where they were is as yet not certainly

ascertained. Presumably they were the highest tier of those chambers which

surrounded three sides of the main building. But some think they were a

superstructure to the holy of holies; others, high chambers in the supposed

very lofty superstructure of the porch. Both of these suppositions seem to

us of the unlikeliest. It would, however, be much more satisfactory,

considering that all the subject before and after treats of the most holy

place, to be able to connect this expression in some way with it, nor is

there any reason evident for overlaying richly with gold the aforesaid

chambers (ch. 9:4 compared with 22:11) of the third tier.

 

 

Four Elements of Faithful Service (vs. 3-9)

 

These are:

 

  • OBEDIENCE; the intelligent carrying out of Divine direction. Close and

careful correspondence with the commandment was more particularly

enforced under the Mosaic dispensation (Hebrews 8:5). Solomon was

careful to do as he was “instructed for the building” (v. 3); the

dimensions were determined “by the first measure” (ibid.); he was

concerned to act obediently. In the service of Christ, while there is very

little indeed of prescription or proscription as to the details of devotion or

the particulars of Divine service, we shall be careful to consult the will of

Christ in everything. The mind of our Master, and not our own individual

preference, should be the main consideration in all Christian effort: we shall

gain a knowledge of His mind by a devout and intelligent study of His life

and of His words, and of those of His apostles.

 

  • SPONTANEITY. This is not any wise inconsistent with obedience, and

it was not absent even from the building of the temple, in which there was,

necessarily, so much of careful and detailed prescription. Solomon”

garnished the house with precious stones” (v. 6), and these had been

furnished by the spontaneous liberality of David and of his people

(I Chronicles 29:2, 8). In the service of our Saviour there is ample room for

the play of spontaneous devotion. We may bring to His sacred cause the

precious stones” of our most reverent and earnest thought, of our most

fervent feeling, of our most eloquent and convincing speech, of our most

self-denying labor, all uncommanded and unconstrained, all prompted by

a pure and keen desire to serve our Lord and bless our brethren.

 

  • BEAUTY. These precious stones were “for beauty” (v. 6), and the

abundance of gold would also add to the beauty of the building, as seen

from the inside. Every “house of the Lord” which we build should be fair

and comely as well as strong. Happily for us, the beauty in which God

delights is not pecuniarily costly; it is that which the poorest may bring to

the sanctuary and the service of his Lord. It is not found in precious stones

which only the wealthy can secure; it is found in “a meek and quiet spirit”

(I Peter 3:3), in the spirit of true reverence and pure devotion (John 4:23),

in patient endurance under wrong (I Peter 2:19-20), in patient

continuance in well-doing (Romans 2:7), in a broad and deep Christian

charity (I Corinthians 13.). These are the beauties which adorn our character

and make our service well-pleasing in the sight of God our Saviour.

 

  • THOROUGHNESS. The strong timber which Solomon used was

overlaid with pure gold” — with the precious metal, and that of the best

kind. Nothing was spared that could give strength, solidity, perfectness to

the building now erected. It was built, not for a few years, or for a

generation, but for long centuries; to stand the force of the elements of

nature; to remain strong and fair when children’s children in distant times

should come up to Zion to see the house of the Lord and to enter into its

courts. All work that we do for our Divine Redeemer should partake of

this character. It should be thorough; it should be of the very best that we

can offer; it should be of “pure gold.” Not our weakness, but our strength;

not our exhaustion, but our freshness; not our crudeness, but our culture;

not our ignorance, but our information and acquisition — our very best self

should we bring to our Lord who gave Himself for us. With the choicest

materials we can furnish, in the exercise of our faculties at their fullest,

should we build up His sacred cause who lavished His strength and laid

down His life on our behalf.

 

10 “And in the most holy house he made two cherubims of image

work, and overlaid them with gold.”  Image work. The word in the Hebrew text

(צַעֲצֻעִים) translated thus in our Authorized Version is a word unknown. Gesenius

traces it to “an unused” Hebrew root צוַע, of Arabic derivation (meaning

to carry on the trade of a goldsmith”), and offers to translate it “statuary”

work with the Vulgate (opus statuarium). The parallel (I Kings 6:23)

gives simply “wood of oil” (not “olive,” Nehemiah 8:15), i.e. the

oleaster tree wood. It is obvious that some of the characters of these words

would go some way to make the other unknown word. But it must be

confessed that our text shows no external indications of a corrupt reading.

 

11 “And the wings of the cherubims were twenty cubits long: one wing

of the one cherub was five cubits, reaching to the wall of the house: and the

other wing was likewise five cubits, reaching to the wing of the other cherub.

12 And one wing of the other cherub was five cubits, reaching to the

wall of the house: and the other wing was five cubits also, joining

to the wing of the other cherub.” Twenty cubits. This, like all the preceding

cubit measurements of the temple foundations and heights, and with all the

succeeding cherubim measurings, is the exact double of that observed by Moses

(Exodus 37:6-9). The height of the cherubim, ten cubits, not mentioned in our text,

is given in the parallel (I Kings 6:26).

 

13 “The wings of these cherubims spread themselves forth twenty

cubits: and they stood on their feet, and their faces were inward.”

Their faces were inward; Hebrew, “were to the house,” viz.

to the holy place. The position of these cherubim, both as to wings and

faces, was clearly different from that of those for the tabernacle of Moses.

There they “cover the mercy-seat with their wings, and their faces are one

to another… toward the mercy-seat were the faces of the cherubim”

(Exodus 25:20; 37:9). May this alteration in the time of Solomon

indicate possibly one more advance in the developing outlook of Divine

mercy to a whole world? Neither this place nor the parallel makes it certain

whether the cherubim, that are here said to stand on their feet, stood on the

ground, as some say they did. As regards those of the tabernacle, the

prepositions used in Exodus 25:18-19 and 37:7-8 appear to lay stress

on their position being a fixture at and on each extremity of the mercy-seat.

 

14 “And he made the vail of blue, and purple, and crimson, and fine

linen, and wrought cherubims thereon.”  The veil of blue, and purple, and

crimson, and fine linen (so Exodus 26:31, 33, 35; 36:35; 40:3, 21). It is remarkable

that our parallel (I Kings 6.) does not make mention of the veil, though a feature of

which so much was always made (Matthew 27:51; Mark 15:38; Luke 23:45;

Hebrews 6:19; 9:3). On the other hand, it is remarkable that our present passage

does not make mention of the folding “doors of olive tree,” which, with “the veil,”

intercepted the approach to the oracle (I Kings 6:31-32), nor of the partition walls

(ibid. v. 16) in which they were situate, nor of the “partition chains [ibid. v. 21] of

gold before the oracle.”

 

15 “Also he made before the house two pillars of thirty and five cubits

high, and the chapiter that was on the top of each of them was five cubits.”

Thirty and five cubits. The height of these pillars is attested

in three places to have been 18 cubits (I Kings 7:15; II Kings 25:17;

Jeremiah 52:21). Some therefore think that the height given in our text

describes rather the distance of the one pillar from the other, which would

be just 35 cubits, if they stood at the extreme points of the line of the porch

front; since the wings on each side (5 cubits for the lowest chamber, and

2.5 cubits for the thickness of the walls) would make up this amount. It is

further noticed with this explanation that their height (18 cubits) with the

chapiters (5 cubits) added, would bring them to the same height as the

porch, and that their ornamentation agrees with that of the porch

(I Kings 7:19). All this may be the case. Yet considering other indications of

uncertainty about our text, and the fact that the characters yod kheth (18)

are easily superseded by lamed he (35), it is perhaps likelier that we have

here simply a clerical error. The parallel place tells us that these pillars and

the chapiters were cast of brass; that “a line [I Kings 7:15; Jeremiah 52:41]

of twelve cubits [not seven] did compass either of them about;” that

the ornamentation of each chapiter was “a net of checker-work, and a

wreath of chain-work;” that upon the five cubits of chapiter there was

another “four cubits of lily-work,” etc. If this last feature apply to the two

pillars, and not (as some think) to the porch only, the pillars would reach a

height of 27 cubits, and if it be supposed that they stood on some stone or

other superstructure, it may still be that our “thirty-five cubits” has its

meaning. Meantime the passage in Jeremiah (Jeremiah 52:21) tells us

that the pillars were hollow, and that the thickness of the metal was “four

fingers.”

 

16 “And he made chains, as in the oracle, and put them on the heads of

the pillars; and made an hundred pomegranates, and put them on

the chains.”  Chains, as in the oracle. Though the writer of Chronicles has

not in this description mentioned any chains as appertaining to the oracle,

yet they are mentioned in the parallel. The selection of what is said has in

our present text so much the appearance of haste, that this may account for

the abrupt appearance of the allusion here. Otherwise the words, “in the

oracle,” tempt us to fear some corruptness of text, scarcely safely removed

by Bertheau’s suggestion to substitute רְבִיד ("ring") for דְבִיר (“oracle”).

An hundred pomegranates (compare ch. 4:13; I Kings 7:15, 18, 20).

These passages indicate that the total number of pomegranates was two

hundred for each pillar.

 

17 “And he reared up the pillars before the temple, one on the right

hand, and the other on the left; and called the name of that on the

right hand Jachin, and the name of that on the left Boaz.”

Jachin… Boaz. The margin of our Authorized Version gives

with sufficient correctness the meaning of these names of the pillars, which

purport to set forth the safety and sure strength that belong to those who

wait on, and who calmly and constantly abide by, THE DIVINE LEADING!

The latter, however, is one word, a substantive, not a compound of preposition,

pronoun, and substantive; and the former, though by derivation the future

of the hiph. conjugation of the verb הוּן, is established as a substantive in

its own right.

 

 

Our Strength and Beauty (vs. 15-17)

 

The dimensions of these pillars are still unsettled and uncertain. But there

can be no question as to their main characteristics, and very little doubt as

to their spiritual significance. Their obvious size and their names speak of

strength; the decorations which they bore speak of beauty. Standing where

they stood, in or at the porch of the house of the Lord, they were standing

monuments of the two closely related truths:

 

  • THAT WE SHOULD RECOGNIZE IN GOD HIMSELF STRENGTH

AND BEAUTY.

 

Ø      Strength. Our temptation is to trust in the strong barrier of sea or

mountain range; in the powerful army and navy with all their equipments;

in the vigorous and sagacious policy of our statesmanship; in the amplitude

of pecuniary resources, etc. But the strength of a country, as also of a man,

IS IN GOD!   If His favour is turned away, all our material advantages will

fail us. Rabshakeh’s multitudes of armed Assyrians disappear at the stroke of

the God of Israel (II Kings 19:35; the rich man, with his full barns and his

cherished plans, leaves his wealth behind him when God says, “This night

thy soul is required of thee.” (Luke 12:20)  But to the faithful Hezekiah the

favor of Jehovah proves an ample shield against the threatening enemy. And

they are blessed who “walk in the light of God’s countenance;” for He is

the glory of their strength: and in His favor shall their horn be exalted”

(Psalm 89:15, 17). The wise nation and the wise man will not look

complacently around them to find the secret and source of their strength;

they will look up toward Him that dwelleth in the heavens, and say,

Jachin; Boaz;” “He will establish;” “in Him is strength.’

 

Ø      Beauty. We are inclined to boast of the beauty of the landscape; or of

the persons of our sons and daughters; or of our palaces and castles and

cathedrals; or of our “pleasant pictures,” and fair gems and jewels. But our

delight should be, first and most, in Him whose Divine character is perfect;

who unites in Himself, with completest symmetry, all possible attributes;

who is as merciful as He is pure; who is as pitiful as He is righteous; who is

as gentle as He is strong; whom we can not only adore and honor, but

delight in and love. We go to the house of the Lord that we may behold

the beauty of the Lord” (Psalm 27:4); and especially that we may

dwell upon the beauties and the glories of the character of that Son of man

who was “holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners”  (Hebrews

7:26) in whose mouth no guile was found, but in whose life every grace

that can adorn humanity was seen by those that knew Him.

 

  • THAT WE SHOULD SEEK FROM GOD OUR STRENGTH AND

BEAUTY. The Israelites went up to the house of the Lord that by obedient

sacrifice, by reverent worship, by believing prayer, they might secure the

favor of the Most High. If we would gain from God the strength we need,

and that spiritual excellency which is the true beauty of the nation and the

individual, we must go to God to seek it. We must present ourselves before

Him from whom all strength and glory come. We must seek Him:

 

Ø      in confession, and in Christ who is our Propitiation;

Ø      in reverent worship;

Ø      in earnest and believing prayer for His upholding power and for

His shaping hand.

 

Then will He make us strong to overcome and to accomplish; beautiful to

attract and to win.

 

 

The Building of the Temple (vs, 1-17)

 

  • THE SITE.

 

Ø      Central, at Jerusalem.

 

o        Natural. Jerusalem, the metropolis of the kingdom, the political and

religious center of the country, was entitled to contain the chief symbol

round which the political and religious life of the nation was in future

to revolve.

 

o        Appropriate. As the king had a palace in the capital, it was fitting the

king’s King, Jehovah, should there have a temple.

 

o        Convenient. Since the temple was to be Israel’s meeting-place in their

national assemblies, it was better the structure should stand in the

chief city of the realm than in a provincial town.

 

o        Significant. It seemed to say that henceforth Solomon was to seek the

security of his throne, the stability of his government, and the welfare

of his empire in the worship of Jehovah and the practice of religion.

 

Ø      Conspicuous, on Mount Moriah, which had been so named because of

Jehovah’s appearing on its summit to Abraham (Genesis 22:2), rather

than because it had been pointed out to David by Jehovah (Bertheau) — a

mountain situated north-east of Zion, and now styled “The Haram,” after a

Mohammedan mosque with which it is crowned. According to present-day

measurements, rising to the height of between 2278 and 2462 feet above

the level of the Mediterranean (Conder, ‘Handbook to the Bible,’ p. 359),

it was a fitting site for the temple, which, besides being firmly established

as founded on a rock, would thereby be visible from afar, and so a center

of attraction for travelers approaching the city. So is Christ’s Church, like

it, founded on a rock (Matthew 16:18), and, like it, should be a city set

upon a hill (Matthew 5:14).

 

Ø      Consecrated, in the threshing-floor of Ornan the Jebusite. (On the

suitability of the Haram summit to be a threshing-floor, see Exposition.) In

addition to the theophany which had there occurred in connection with the

offering of Isaac, a similar manifestation of Jehovah had recently taken

place in the lifetime of David (I Chronicles 21:15-30). It was thus to

Solomon a spot doubly hallowed. If in David’s eyes, because of the old

patriarchal altar that had stood thereon, the place was invested with a

special charm, in Solomon’s this charm would not be diminished, but

intensified, by the recollection of the altar his father had built.

 

  • THE TIME.

 

Ø      Specific. “In the second day of the second month, in the fourth year of

his reign, began Solomon to build;” i.e. 480 years after the exodus from

Egypt (I Kings 6:1); or, according to another reckoning, 592 years

subsequent to that event, 240 after the building of Tyre, and 143 years 8

months prior to the founding of Carthage (Josephus, ‘Ant.,’ 8:3.1; ‘Against

Apion,’ 1:17, 18). Great events make deep indentations on the memories

of men as well as on the course of time. The building of the Solomonic

temple, of more than national, was of world-wide importance.

 

Ø      Early. It shows the high conception Solomon had of the work delegated

to him by his father, as well as marked out for him by God; indicates the

earnestness and enthusiasm with which he undertook it, that he set about

its performance almost at the earliest possible moment, “in the fourth year

of his reign,” before erecting for himself a palace, or for his country a chain

of forts. It is an Old Testament form of the New Testament lesson, “Seek

ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things

shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33).

 

  • ITS ERECTION.

 

Ø      The house, or the temple proper.

 

o        Its dimensions: 60 cubits long, 20 broad (v. 3), 30 high (I Kings 6:2);

i.e. taking the cubit at 1.33 feet, 79.8 feet, 26’. feet, and 39.9 feet, or,

in round numbers, 80 feet x 27 feet x 40 feet.

 

o        Its parts. “The greater house” (v. 5), i.e. the holy place, or the outer

of the two compartments into which the house was divided, and “the

most holy house” (v. 8), or the inner of the two compartments. As this

latter was a perfect cube, 20 cubits each way, the former was (internally

viewed) a rectangular parallelopiped, of length 40, of breadth 20, of

height 30 cubits. Besides these were “the upper chambers” (v. 9), or

the space above the holy of holies, whose dimensions were 20 cubits

long, 20 broad, and 10 high.

 

o        Its ornaments. The house was built of white freestone cut from the

royal quarries under Bezetha, the northern hill on which Jerusalem is

built (Warren, ‘Underground Jerusalem,’ p. 60), smoothly polished

and laid so skilfully and harmoniously together that “there appeared

to the spectators no sign of any hammer or other instrument of

architecture, but as if, without any use of them, the entire materials

had naturally united themselves together” (Josephus, ‘Ant.,’ 8:3. 2).

The interior of the house was covered with wood, the walls and the

ceiling with cedar, the floor with cypress (I  Kings 6:15), so that no

part of the stonework was visible.  The wood was ornamented with

carved work representing palm trees (v. 5) and cherubim (v. 7), the

latter on the walls, the former on the roof. In addition were knops or

gourds and open flowers (I Kings 6:18).  Similar decorations were

carved upon the outer sides of the walls (ibid. v. 29). The whole

house, interior and exterior — walls, roof, beams, posts, doors —

was overlaid with gold plates, which received impressions

from the carved work underneath. “To say all in a word, Solomon

left no part of the temple, neither internal nor external, but what was

covered with gold” (Josephus). The gold, of the finest quality (I Kings

6:20), was fetched from Parvaim, a place of uncertain location —

Ophir in Ceylon (Bochart), Ophir in India (Knobel), Peru and Mexico

(Ritter), Southern or Eastern Arabia (Bertheau), the peninsula of

Malacca (Leyrer, in Herzog), having all been suggested. The veil

which divided the compartments was made of blue, and purple, and

crimson, and fine linen — the same materials as were employed in

constructing the tabernacle vail (Exodus 26:31) — and was ornamented

with similar cherubic figures. The precious stones wherewith the

walls were garnished are not mentioned.

 

Ø      The porch.

 

o        Its situation: in front of the house.

 

o        Its dimensions: 20 cubits broad, 120 high, and 10 long (I Kings 6:3).

The disproportion between the ground measures and the altitude has

suggested the existence in this place of an error (Keil), or of an

intentional exaggeration (Bertheau), though Josephus appears to

have regarded it as literally correct (‘Ant.,’ 8:3. 2). Ewald, who

upholds the text as genuine, thinks of a tower rising above the porch

to the height of 120 feet (‘History of Israel, ‘3:236); but this is far

from probable, indeed statically impossible, and must be rejected.

On the assumption of a corrupt text, the question remains how

high the porch was. Some say 20 cubits (Keil), or 10 lower

than the house; others 30, i.e. the exact height of the house

(Bertheau); a third 23, at least as high as the pillars (Merz, in

Herzog; Schurer, in Riehm).

 

o        Its ornaments. Its interior was overlaid with fine gold (v. 4); its

entrance guarded by two massive columns.

 

Ø      The pillars.

 

o        Their names: that on the right Jachin, or, “He shall establish,”

meaning that in this shrine Jehovah would henceforth permanently

abide (I Kings 8:13; Psalm 87:5; 139:14), or that through this would the

kingdom be henceforth immovably established (Psalm 89:5); that on the

left Boaz, signifying “In Him, or in it, is strength,” and pointing

perhaps to the fulness of heavenly might that resides in Him who is

the sanctuary’s God (Isaiah 45:24), or to the consolidation which

should henceforth be given to the kingdom through the erection of

this temple (Psalm 144:14). Other explanations have been given, as

that Jachin and Boaz were the names of the donors or builders of the

pillars (Gesenius), or of two youthful sons of Solomon (Ewald),

or that the two words should be read together, as if both were inscribed

on each pillar, “He will establish, or may He establish, it with strength”

(Thenius). Least acceptable of all solutions is that of the Fathers, that

the two names were intended to point to the two natures in Christ,

in whom, though appearing in a lowly garb of humanity, dwelt the

fullness of Divine strength.

 

o        Their height: thirty-five cubits, inclusive of the chapiter of five cubits

with which each was crowned (v. 15); each shaft eighteen cubits, and

each crown five cubits, or both together twenty-three cubits (I Kings

7:15-16; Jeremiah 52:21; Josephus, ‘Ant.,’ 7:3. 4). It has been

suggested that, as twice 18 are 36, the Chronicler should be regarded as

stating the length of the two columns together. But as this does not get

over the discrepancy, it is better to recognize that the original text has

suffered some corruption.

 

o        Their position: before the temple. Whether within the porch (I Kings

7:21), perhaps supporting the roof, or outside and apart from the

building, is contested. (For the arguments on both sides, the Exposition

may be consulted.) The ablest art scholars who have given attention to

the subject have decided for the latter (see Riehm, ‘Hand-worterbuch,’

art. Jachin and Boaz”).

 

o        Their parts: first, a hollow column of brass, eighteen cubits high as

above mentioned, twelve cubits in circumference, and of metal four

fingers thick; and, second, a chapiter or crown of lily-work, i.e. a

brass cup shaped like a fully-opened lily — the under part a belly-

shaped band of network, bulging out between an under and an upper

row of pomegranates strung on chains; above the upper row the

lily-shaped cup, or crown, decorated all over with buds, flowers,

and leaves like those of lilies.

 

  • LESSONS.

 

Ø      The place due to religion in communities and individuals, THE FIRST!

Ø      The quality of service given to God and the Church, THE BEST!

 

 

 

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