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Bible Commentaries

John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible
1 Kings 6

 

 

Verses 1-38


The Construction of the Temple

In shape the Temple was a rectangular hall 60 x 20 x 30 cubits (a cubit being about 18 inches). On its E. face it had a porch (forming an entrance) which extended across the whole front and added 10 cubits to the length of the building (1 Kings 6:3). The height of this is given in 2 Chronicles 3:4 as 120 cubits; but such a measurement is out of all proportion to the others, and is probably an error (one of the MSS of the LXX substitutes 20 cubits). On three sides of the house were built a number of chambers (Josephus says 30) in three storeys (1 Kings 6:5, 1 Kings 6:10), intended for the accommodation of the priests and for storing things required for the Temple services: cp. 2 Kings 11:2-3; Nehemiah 13:4-5 (of the Second Temple). The beams that supported the cielings of these storeys rested on ledges in the outer face of the Temple wall formed by successive reductions of its thickness (1 Kings 6:6). Above the topmost row of chambers the Temple wall was pierced with windows of narrow lights (RV 'windows of fixed lattice work,' i.e. which could not be opened like most lattices), resembling the clerestory of a modern cathedral. In the interior, the building was divided by a partition (see 1 Kings 6:16) into two apartments, the larger (to the E.) being called the Holy Place, and the smaller (to the W.) being styled the Oracle or Most Holy Place, which bore to one another the same relation as the nave and chancel of our own churches.

Solomon's Temple resembled in general plan the Tabernacle as described in Exodus 25-27, its length and breadth being exactly double. In idea, it was, like the Tabernacle, the dwelling-place of the God of Israel (see 1 Kings 8:18, and cp. Exodus 25:8), wherein He received, and held communion with, His worshippers (2 Kings 19:14., cp. Exodus 33:7). But it differed from most other sanctuaries of antiquity in containing no image; so that though the conception of divine worship had not yet become independent of locality or material oblations (see John 4:21-24), the conception of the Deity Himself was purely spiritual.

In the Holy of Holies (the Presence chamber of the Divine King) there was nothing except the ark (containing the Decalogue), the cover of which was regarded as the throne of the Lord, who was thought of as seated between the cherubim that overshadowed it (2 Kings 19:15). In the Holy Place there were situated the Altar of Incense and the Table of Shewbread. In the court before the House stood the Altar of Burnt Offerings and the several vessels used by the priests in their ablutions (1 Kings 7:23.).

1. The four hundred and eightieth year] The sum of the periods mentioned or implied in the previous books since the exodus much exceeds this figure. The real length of the interval is uncertain, and the number of years here indicated is probably not based on historic records but is a conventional expression for twelve generations (a generation being reckoned at 40 years). Approximately the date of the commencement of the Temple may be put at 973 b.c. The month Zif] In early times the Hebrew year ended and began in the autumn (see Exodus 23:10; Exodus 34:22), but at a later period the beginning of the year was in the spring, and Zif, which corresponded to our April-May, became the second month. It was subsequently called Iyyar.

2. The house] The Temple was built on the N. of the hill upon which Zion, 'the city of David,' stood, there being an ascent from the latter to the former (see 1 Kings 8:1). Its site had originally been occupied by Araunah's threshing-floor (2 Chronicles 3:1). For its position relative to the rest of Solomon's buildings see on 1 Kings 7:9.

8. The middle chamber] LXX has 'the lowest chamber,' which the sense requires.

The right side] the S.

9. Covered the house] Roofed or cieled it. Whether the roof was flat or gable-shaped is uncertain, though, as houses were generally flat-topped, this was probably no exception.

12. Concerning this house, etc.] The erection of the Temple was an external and material indication of Solomon's allegiance to the Lord; but to obtain the Almighty's continued favour, it was necessary besides to submit his life and conduct to the control of God's moral laws.

Which I spake unto David] see 2 Samuel 7:13. God renewed to Solomon the promises made to his father on condition of his obedience.

15. Both the floor, etc.] mg. 'from the floor of the house unto the walls,' etc., i.e. from top to bottom.

16. He built.. on the sides, etc.] RV 'he built.. on the hinder part,' etc. This, as appears from a comparison of the measurements given in 1 Kings 6:2 and 1 Kings 6:17, does not mean that the Most Holy Place (or Oracle) was an additional structure built on the rear of the house, but that it was an apartment formed within the house (cp. 1 Kings 6:19) at its W. end by the erection of a partition made with boards of cedar. As its length, breadth and height were each 20 cubits (1 Kings 6:20), its form internally was a perfect cube, though externally it was perhaps of the same elevation as the rest of the buildings.

18. Knops] i.e. knobs, and so in 1 Kings 7:24. RM has 'gourds,' implying that the ornaments intended, which were carved in relief, were globular in shape, resembling pumpkins.

20. The oracle in the forepart] better, 'the oracle within.' The altar] i.e. the altar of incense: for its situation see 1 Kings 7:22.

21. Made a partition, etc.] RV 'drew chains of gold across before the oracle,' i.e. across the entrance that led from the Holy Place into the Most Holy. But 2 Chronicles 3:14 mentions a veil, and the translation should perhaps be 'drew a veil before the oracle by means of chains of gold.'

22. By the oracle] The altar was not actually within the oracle but near it.

23. Cherubims] These were large winged figures of composite character, perhaps with four faces, those of a man, a lion, an ox, and an eagle (Ezekiel 1:10), or with the face of an ox only (to which the term 'cherub' seems to have strictly applied: cp. Ezekiel 10:14 with Ezekiel 1:10). They represented God's chariot (cp. Psalms 18:10), and perhaps symbolised certain of the divine attributes (power, celerity, etc.). The original conception (as Psalms 18:10-14 suggests) was probably derived from a storm-cloud: see on Exodus 25:18.

27. The inner house] i.e. the Oracle or Most Holy Place.

29. Palm trees] Figures of these are frequent on the Assyrian monuments. Within and without] i.e. within and without the dividing partition between the Holy and Most Holy Place, so that both chambers are meant.

31. The lintel] According to some 'the pilasters,' small pillars projecting from the surface of the side posts. A fifth part] mg. 'five-square,' i.e. the top of the door was pentagonal in form. The words 'of the wall' are not in the original.

32. The two doors] i.e. two leaves, forming a single door.

33. A fourth part] mg. 'four-square.' The head of the door was square: see on 1 Kings 6:31.

34. The two doors] The door of the Holy Place consisted of two halves, but each half had two leaves.

36. The inner court] This was the court before the house (1 Kings 8:64), open to the air, and was surrounded by a fence of stone surmounted by a row, or paling, of cedar beams. It was on a higher level than the 'great court' of 1 Kings 7:12, and is called in Jeremiah 36:10; 'the upper court.'

38. The month Bul] Corresponding to October-November. As this was the eighth month and the Temple was begun in the second, the time actually occupied in its construction was, in strictness, 7 1/2 years.

 


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Bibliography Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on 1 Kings 6:4". "John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcb/1-kings-6.html. 1909.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, November 19th, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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