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3. Solomon’s palace 7:1-12
Solomon’s palace complex took longer to build than the temple because it was much larger. The king evidently completed the temple and then began work on his palace (cf. 1 Kings 9:10). Solomon seems to have built several separate but interconnected buildings. A large common courtyard evidently surrounded the temple and the palace (1 Kings 7:12). A similar view is that the palace was one structure and the other buildings were really sections of it. [Note: Wood, p. 291, n. 17.] The geographical proximity of the temple and palace visualized the fact that the king was acting for God. We do not know exactly where Solomon placed the palace buildings in relation to each other or to the temple. [Note: See David Ussishkin, "King Solomon’s Palaces," Biblical Archaeologist 36 (1973):78-105, for similar temple palace complexes in the ancient Near East.] In the ancient world people regarded a king’s palace as some indication of his greatness as well as the greatness of his god.
"Palace and temple complexes are the most important visual symbols of royal power and indicate more precisely the location of the center within a stratified society." [Note: Keith Whitelam, "The Symbols of Power," Biblical Archaeologist 49:3 (September 1986):170.]
"It [the temple] was not in the midst of the city, like most heathen temples of the time. Its isolation symbolized the uniqueness of the deity to whom it was dedicated." [Note: DeVries, p. 97.]
Certainly Solomon’s palace must have been extremely impressive.
"He did everything imaginable to show that, as Yahweh was a great God, he was a great king. What is displayed here is far more Solomon’s ’riches and honor’ than his ’wisdom.’ His was undoubtedly the piety of worldly success." [Note: Ibid., p. 103.]
"The Pillared Hall (called the Palace of the Forest of Lebanon) was used as an audience chamber or throne hall, and . . . was larger than the temple. It also served as a state treasury, displaying selected precious objects received as tribute (cf. 1 Kings 10:16-17)." [Note: Wiseman, p. 111.]
Ancient Near Easterners did not view a king’s sovereignty as established until he had built a palace for himself. [Note: A. Leo Oppenheim, Ancient Mesopotamia, pp. 95-98.] Solomon’s palace, therefore, further enhanced his prestige. God blessed Solomon and Israel by allowing him to built it.
Furnishings outside the temple 7:13-47
The Hiram of 1 Kings 7:13 was obviously a different person from the King of Tyre (1 Kings 5:1). God evidently guided this Hiram as he fashioned the furnishings (cf. Exodus 31:1-11). [Note: See Allen S. Maller, "Hiram from Tyre," Journal of Reform Judaism 29:2 (Spring 1982):41-42.]
The two pillars on the temple porch were common features that flanked the main entrances to temples in Syria, Phoenicia, Cyprus, Assyria, and elsewhere in the ancient Near East at this time. [Note: Volkmar Fritz, "Temple Architecture," Biblical Archaeology Review 13:4 (July-August 1987):38-49.] Some of these pillars supported the porch roof, but others were freestanding, as these probably were. [Note: Albright, Archaeology of . . ., p. 144.] In various countries they symbolized various things. [Note: Idem, "Two Cressets From Marisa and the Pillars of Jachin and Boaz," Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 85 (February 1942):18-27.] In Israel their purpose seems to have been to remind the Israelites of Yahweh’s establishment of Israel and strength for Israel. Jachin means "He shall establish," and Boaz "In Him is strength" (1 Kings 7:21). [Note: Cf. Auld, pp. 52-53.] Gray suggested that the pillars symbolized the presence and permanence of Yahweh and the king. [Note: Gray, p. 175.] Jones argued that they stood for the covenant between Yahweh and His people, especially between Him and the Davidic dynasty. [Note: Jones, 1:183.] The lily and pomegranate designs probably symbolized the fertility and fruitfulness of God’s blessing and presence.
The "sea" (1 Kings 7:23-26) was a reservoir for the temple courtyard. It had a total capacity of 17,500 gallons (2 Chronicles 4:5), but it normally held 11,500 gallons (1 Kings 7:26). It rested on symbols of strength and service (cf. the priests), and symbols of fertility adorned it (1 Kings 7:24; cf. 1 Kings 6:18). [Note: See Albert Zuidhof, "King Solomon’s Molten Sea and (pi)," Biblical Archaeologist 45:3 (Summer 1982):179-84.] The 12 oxen may have represented the 12 tribes or Solomon’s 12 administrative districts. [Note: Jones, 1:184.]
The priests evidently used the 10 movable stands (1 Kings 7:27-40 a) when they butchered sacrificial animals. Each one was six feet square, five and one-half feet high, and held up to 230 gallons of water.
The amount of detail the writer included gives us some appreciation of the external beauty, symmetry, glory, and value of the temple. All of this contributed to the greater glory of Yahweh and helped the Israelites appreciate His greatness.
4. The temple furnishings 7:13-51
The people also saw the glory of Yahweh reflected in the furnishings of the temple. These furnishings came from several sources but all contributed to the proper worship of Yahweh.
Furnishings inside the temple 7:48-50
As in the Mosaic tabernacle, the metals used expressed the glory of God. The closer to the ark, the throne of Yahweh, the more valuable was the metal used. Everything inside the temple was gold or gold plated, and outside the temple there was bronze. While the ordinary Israelite did not see the inside of the temple, he or she would have known of its glory. Perhaps this section (1 Kings 7:48-50) is shorter than the former one (1 Kings 7:13-47) because the majority of the people, who were not priests, did not see these furnishings.
"The candelabra were arranged down the length of the main sanctuary to give light on these tables (Exodus 25:31-40)." [Note: Wiseman, p. 116.]
David’s accessories 7:51
The priests probably placed the treasures David had collected in the rooms of the structure that surrounded the temple (1 Kings 6:5-6) for use in Israel’s worship as needed. The temple, then, became the treasury of Israel in that it housed the nation’s greatest treasures.
The writer gave us extensive information about the temple furnishings to increase our awe, not only of the temple itself, but also of Yahweh’s greatness. The temple and all it contained reflected the God who abode there.
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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on 1 Kings 7". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany