Lectionary Calendar
Monday, June 17th, 2024
the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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Bible Commentaries
2 Chronicles 4

Ellicott's Commentary for English ReadersEllicott's Commentary



(a) The principal vessels of the Temple (2 Chronicles 4:1-10).

(b) Huram’s works in brass (2 Chronicles 4:11-18).

(c) Catalogue of golden objects, and conclusion 2 Chronicles 4:19 -2 Chronicles 5:1).

Verses 1-2

(a) THE PRINCIPAL VESSELS OF THE TEMPLE (2 Chronicles 4:1-10).

THE BRAZEN ALTAR (2 Chronicles 4:1).

(l) An altar of brass.—The brazen altar, or altar of burnt offering, made by Solomon, is not noticed in the parallel chapters of Kings (1 Kings 6:7) which describe the construction of the temple and its vessels of service, but it is incidentally mentioned in another passage of the older work (1 Kings 9:25), and its existence seems to be implied in 1 Kings 8:22; 1 Kings 8:64. This altar stood in the inner court of the temple. It rose from a terraced platform. (Comp. Ezekiel 43:13-17.) The Hebrew of this verse is such as to suggest that it must have existed in the original document. The style is the same. (Comp. the construction of the numerals with the noun, and note the word qômâh, “height,” now used for the first time by the chronicler.) It would appear, therefore, that the verse has been accidentally omitted from the text of Kings.

THE BRAZEN SEA (2 Chronicles 4:2-5).

(Comp. 1 Kings 7:23-26.)

(2) Also he made a molten sea.And he made the sea (i.e., the great basin) molteni.e., of cast metal.

Of ten cubits . . . thereof.—Ten in the cubit from its lip to its lip, circular all round; and five in the cubit was its height. Word for word as in 1 Kings 7:23, save that Kings has one different preposition (‘ad, “unto,” instead of ‘el, “to”). “Lip.” Comp. “lip of the sea,” Genesis 22:17; “lip of the Jordan,” 2 Kings 2:13; a metaphor which is also used in Greek.

And a line of thirty cubits . . .—Line, i.e., measuring-line, as in Ezekiel 47:3. The Hebrew is qâw. In Kings we read a rare form, qâwèh. The rest of the clause is the same in both texts.

Did compass.Would compass, or go round it.

Verse 2

(2) Even if pôthôth be correct in Kings, the chronicler might have understood the word to mean openings, rather than hinges, and so have substituted the common word pethah, which has that sense. The resemblance of the one word to the other would be a further consideration in its favour, according to ancient notions of interpretation.

Verse 3

(3) And under it was the similitude of oxen.—Literally, And a likeness of oxen (figured oxen) under it around surrounding it, ten in the cubit encompassing the sea around: two rows were the oxen, smelted in the smelting of it. In the parallel passage (1 Kings 7:24) we read: And wild gourds underneath its lip around surrounding it,” &c., as here; two of rows were the gourds, smelted in the smelting thereof. The Hebrew words for “oxen” and “gourds” might easily be confused by a transcriber, and accordingly it is assumed by most commentators that the text of the chronicler has suffered corruption, and should be restored from that of Kings. But there seems no reason—unless we suppose that each writer has given an exhaustive description, which is clearly not the case—why the ornamental rows which ran round the great basin should not have included both features, small figures of oxen, as well as wild gourds. Reuss objects on the ground of the diminutive size of the axon (“ten in a cubit”); but such work was by no means beyond the resources of ancient art. (Comp. the reliefs on the bronze doors of Shalmaneser 11. (859-825 B.C. ); 1 Kings 7:29 actually gives an analogous instance.) The word pĕqâ’îm, “wild gourds,” only occurs in one other place of Kings, viz., 1 Kings 6:18. (Comp. paqqû‘ôth, 2 Kings 4:39.) A copyist of Kings might nave inadvertently repeated the word from the former passage in 1 Kings 7:24. In any case it is sheer dogmatism to assert that “the copyists (in the Chronicle) have absurdly changed the gourds into oxen” (Reuss). The Syriac and Arabic omit this verse; but the LXX. and Vulg. have it.

Verse 4

(4) It stood.—The whole verse coincides verbally with 1 Kings 7:25, with one slight exception: the common form of the numeral “twelve,” shnêm ‘âsâr, is substituted for the rare shnê ‘âsâr.

Verse 5

(5) And the thickness . . . a cup.—Identical with 1 Kings 7:26.

With flowers of lilies.—See margin. “Lily” here is shôshannâh; in Kings, shôshân. LXX., “graven with lily buds.” Syriac and Arabic, “and it was very beautiful.” Vulg., “like the lip of a cup, or of an open lily.”

And it received and held three thousand baths.—Literally, holding (whole) baths: three thousand would it contain. The bath was the largest of Hebrew liquid measures. Perhaps the true reading is, “holding three thousand baths,” the last verb being a gloss borrowed from Kings. So Vulg. Syriac and Arabic omit the clause. The LXX. had the present reading. 1 Kings 7:26 reads, two thousand baths would it contain. Most critics assume this to be correct. Some scribe may have read ’alâphîm, “thousands,” instead of ‘alpayim, “two thousand,” and then have added “three” (shĕlôsheth) under the influence of the last verse. But it is more likely that the numeral “three” having been inadvertently omitted from the text of Kings, the indefinite word “thousands” was made definite by turning it into the dual “two thousand” Either mistake would be possible, because in the unpointed text ‘alâphîm and ’alpayim are written alike. The Syriac has the curious addition, “And he made ten poles, and put five on the right and five on the left, and bare with them the altar of burnt offerings.” Similarly the Arabic version.

Verse 6

(2 Chronicles 4:6). (Comp. 1 Kings 7:27-39.)

(6) The chronicler now returns to his abbreviating style, and omits altogether the description of the ten bases, or stands, upon which the lavers were placed, and which are described in full and curious detail in 1 Kings 7:27-39. The unusual difficulty of the passage may have determined the omission, but it seems more likely that the sacred writer thought the bases of less importance than the objects described in 2 Chronicles 4:7-9, the account of which he has interpolated between the first and second half of 1 Kings 7:39.

He made also ten lavers.And he made ten pans. The word kîyôr is used in 1 Samuel 2:14 as a pan for cooking, and in Zechariah 12:6 as a pan holding fire. Its meaning here and in the parallel place is a pan for washing. (Comp. Exodus 30:18; Exodus 30:28.) The LXX. renders λουτῆρας, “baths;” the Syriac, laqnê, “flagons” (lagenae, λάγηνοι).

To wash in them.—This statement, and, indeed, the rest of the verse is peculiar to the chronicler. On the other hand, 1 Kings 7:38 specifies the size and capacity of the lavers here omitted.

Such things as they offered for the burnt offering they washed in them.—This gives the meaning. Literally, the work (comp. Exodus 29:36, “to do” being equivalent to “to offer”) of the burnt offering they used to rinse (strictly, thrust, plunge) in them.

But the sea was for the priests to wash in.—The Hebrew words have been transposed apparently. The same infinitive (lĕrohçâh) occurs in Exodus 30:18; Exodus 40:30, in a similar context. Instead of all this, the Syriac and Arabic versions read: “put them five on the right hand and five on the left, that the priests might wash in them their hands and their feet,” which appears to be derived from Exodus 30:19; Exodus 40:31.

Verse 7


This section is peculiar to Chronicles.
(7) And he made ten candlesticks of gold according to their form.And he made the golden lampstands ten, according to their rule, or, prescribed manner. (Comp. 1 Kings 7:49; and Exodus 25:31-40, where their type is described.) So the Vulg., “secundum speciem quâ jussa erant fieri.” Syriac and Arabic, “according to their laws.” Others explain “as their use required,” which is less likely.

In the temple.—And before the chancel (1 Kings 7:49; 2 Chronicles 4:20, infra).

Verse 8

(8) He made also ten tables.—Perhaps the golden candelabra stood upon them. (Comp. 1 Chronicles 28:16; and 2 Chronicles 4:19, infra.)

Side.—Not in the Hebrew.

An hundred basons.Bowls for pouring libations (Amos 6:6; same word, mizrâqîm). The Syriac and Arabic make the number of these vessels a hundred and twenty.

The ten tables are not mentioned in the parallel narrative, which speaks of one table only, viz., the table of shewbread (1 Kings 7:48).

“Basons,” or bowls, are spoken of in 1 Kings 7:45; 1 Kings 7:50 (mizrâqôth), but their number is not given.

Verse 9

(9) The court of the priests.—See 1 Kings 6:36; 1 Kings 7:12, “the inner court; Jeremiah 36:10, “the higher court.”

And the great court.—‘Azârâh, “court,” a late word, common in the Targums for the classical hâqçr, which has just occurred. The ‘azârâh was the outer court of the temple. It is not mentioned at all in the parallel narrative. The LXX. calls it “the great court;” the Vulg., “the great basilica.” The Syriac renders the whole verse: “And he made one great court for the priests and Levites, and covered the doors and bolts with bronze.” (Comp. Note on 2 Chronicles 4:3 for this plating of the doors with bronze.) The bronze plated doors of Shalmaneser’s palace at Balawat were twenty-two feet high, and each leaf was six feet wide.

Verse 10

(10) And he set the sea . . .—Literally, And he set the sea on the right shoulder, eastward, in front of the southward; i.e., on the south-east side of the house (1 Kings 7:39, b.). The LXX. and some MSS. add “of the house,” which appears to have fallen out of the text.

Verse 11

(b) HURAM’S WORKS IN BRASS (2 Chronicles 4:11-18)
Comp. 1 Kings 7:40-47.

Throughout this section the narrative almost textually coincides with the parallel account.
(11) And Huram made the pots.1 Kings 7:40 has “lavers” (pans). Our reading, “pots,” appears correct, supported as it is by many MSS. and the LXX. and Vulg. of Kings. A single stroke makes the difference between the two words in Hebrew writing. These “pots” were scuttles for carrying away the ashes of the altar.

Basons.—“Bowls” (mizrâqôth). Probably the same as the mizrâqîm of 2 Chronicles 4:8. So kîyôrôth (Kings) and kîyôrîm (Chron.).

Huram.—Hebrew text, Hiram, as in Kings. The LXX. renders: “And Hiram made the fleshhooks (κρεάγρας) and the firepans (πυρεια), and the hearth of the altar and all its vessels.”

The work.—Kings, “all the work,” and so some MSS., LXX., and Vulg. of Chron. The Syriac and Arabic omit 2 Chronicles 4:11-17; 2 Chronicles 4:19-22.

He was to make.—Rather, he made.

For the house.In the house. Chronicles supplies the preposition in, which is not required according to ancient usage.

Verse 12

(12) And the pommels, and the chapitersi.e., the globes and the capitals. Kings, Authorised Version has bowls, but in Hebrew the word is the same (gullôth, globes). “The globes of the capitals” (Kings) is plainly incorrect.

Which were on the top of the two pillars.—Heb. (and the globes and the capitals), on the top of the pillars, two; i.e., two globes and capitals. The word “two” (shtayim) is feminine, agreeing with “globes and capitals,” which are also feminine; whereas “pillars” is a masculine term.

Wreaths.—Heb., sĕbâkhôth, lattices. (Comp. 2 Kings 1:2.) The Authorised version of 1 Kings 7:41 gives “network,” but the Hebrew word is the same as here.

Verse 13

(13) Two rows.—See 1 Kings 7:42.

Verse 14

(14) He made also bases.And the bases he made; and the lavers he made upon the bases. This repetition of the verb is suspicious; and the parallel text shows the right reading to be and the bases ten (in number), and the lavers ten upon the bases. “Ten” in Hebrew writing closely resembles “he made.” The LXX. renders, “And the bases he made ten, and the lavers he made upon the bases;” which shows that the corruption of the text is ancient.

Verse 15

(15) One sea.—Heb., the sea one. Kings, and the one sea.

And twelve oxen under it.And the oxen, twelve, under it. Kings, And the oxen, twelve, under the sea. The chronicler has abridged the expression.

Verse 16

(16) The pots also, and the shovels, and the fleshhooks.—“Fleshhooks” (mizlâgôth) should apparently be “bowls” (mizrâqôth). (Comp. 2 Chronicles 4:1, and 1 Kings 7:45.) But in Exodus 27:3, pots and shovels and bowls and fleshhooks are mentioned in succession as utensils of the altar. Perhaps, therefore, both words should be read here and in Kings. LXX., καὶ τοὺς ποδιστήρας καὶ τοὺς� . The Vulg. merely repeats 2 Chronicles 4:11 (et lebetes et creagras et phialas). A stop should follow the last; “And all their instruments,” &c., being a new sentence.

And all their instruments.1 Kings 7:45, and all these instruments, which appears correct, though the LXX. supports our present reading (πάντα τὰ σκέυη αὐτῶν). “Their instruments” could hardly mean the moulds in which they were cast, as Zöckler suggests. The moulds would not be made in “polished brass.”

Huram his father.—See Note on 2 Chronicles 2:13.

Bright.Polished. Jeremiah 46:4 (mârûq). Kings has the synonym mĕmôrât. (Comp. Isaiah 18:2.)

Verse 17

(17) In the clay ground.—Heb., in the thickness of the groundi.e., in the stiff or clayey soil. Vulg., “in argillosa terra.” For ‘ăbî, “thickness,” see Job 15:26. Kings has ma‘ăbeh, which occurs nowhere else.

Zeredathah.—Kings, Zârĕthân (Joshua 3:16). Zĕrçdâthâh means towards Zĕrĕthâh (1 Kings 11:26). The two names denote the same place.

Verse 18

(18) Thus Solomon made all these vessels in great abundance.1 Kings 7:47, And Solomon left all the vessels (unweighed) from very great abundance. Our text may be due to a copyist, whose eye wandered to the beginning of the next verse; but it is possible that the chronicler missed the significance of the verb used in Kings, and therefore substituted an easier term. The further changes—“unto great abundance,” “for the weight,” &c.—suggest this account of the matter.

Could not be found out.Was not ascertained.

Verse 19

(2 Chronicles 4:19 -2 Chronicles 5:1). 1 Kings 7:48-50.

The narrative still coincides in the main with that of Kings, allowing for one or two remarkable alterations.
(19) For the house.In the houses (without proposition, comp. 2 Chronicles 4:11).

The golden altar also.—Literally, both the golden altar and the tables, and upon them the Presence bread. So LXX. and Vulg. The parallel passage, 1 Kings 7:48, says, and the table on which (was) the Presence bread (in) gold. (See Note on 2 Chronicles 4:8, supr., and 1 Chronicles 28:16.) On the one hand, the chronicler in these three passages consistently speaks of tables, although the book of Kings mentions one table only; and, on the other hand, elsewhere he actually speaks himself of “the Pure Table,” and “the Table of the Pile,” as if there were only one such table (2 Chronicles 13:11; 2 Chronicles 29:18).

The difficulty cannot be solved with certainty; but it seems likely that, finding mention of a number of tables in one of his sources, the chronicler has grouped them all together with the Table of Shewbread. thus gaining brevity at the cost of accuracy. In Ezekiel 40:39 eight tables of hewn stone are mentioned, whereon they slew the sacrificial victims.

Verse 20

(20) With (and) their lamps, that they should burn after the manner (according to the legal rule2 Chronicles 4:7). This is added by the chronicler, who omits “five on the right and five on the left” (Kings). The rest is as in Kings.

Verse 21

(21) And the flowers . . . gold.—See 1 Kings 7:49.

And that perfect gold.It was perfection of gold. The word miklôth, “perfections” (intensive plural) occurs nowhere else. It is derived from kâlâh, “to be finished,” not kâlal (Bishop Wordsworth). The LXX. omits the clause; not so the Vulg., which renders “all were made of purest gold.” This little touch, added to heighten the effect, is quite in the manner of the chronicler, and is certainly not to be suspected, as Zöckler asserts. Perhaps we should read miklôl, “perfection” (Ezekiel 23:12), instead of the isolated miklôth.

And the snuffers.—Before this expression, and the basons (1 Kings 7:50) has probably fallen out.

Snuffers.Shears or scissors, for trimming the lamps.

The spoons, and the censers.—Or, trays and snuff-dishes.—See 1 Kings 7:50; Exodus 25:38.

And the entry of the house.—Including both the doors of the nave or holy place, and those of the chancel or holiest. The words are explained by those which follow: “viz., its inner doors to the holy of holies and the doors of the house—viz., to the nave (hêhâl, great hall).” In 1 Kings 7:50 we read, “And the hinges to the doors of the inner house—viz., the holy of holies, (and) to the doors of the house—viz., to the nave, were of gold.” The word rendered hinges (pôthôth) resembles that rendered entry (pethah); and some have supposed that the latter is a corruption of the former, and would alter our text accordingly. Two reasons seem to be decisive against such a change. (1) Pôthôth, “hinges,” occurs nowhere else in the Bible; and may not be genuine. It is likely enough that the doors of the Temple were plated with gold (1 Kings 6:32; 1 Kings 6:35), but hardly that their hinges were made of gold.

Bibliographical Information
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 4". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ebc/2-chronicles-4.html. 1905.
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