INTRODUCTION TO 1 KINGS 7
This chapter gives an account of some buildings of Solomon for himself, 1 Kings 7:1; and of other things for the use of the temple; of two pillars of brass, 1 Kings 7:13; of the molten sea, 1 Kings 7:23; and of ten bases, and ten layers on them, 1 Kings 7:27; with other utensils and ornaments, 1 Kings 7:40.
But Solomon was building his own house thirteen years,.... He made more haste with the house of God than with his own, for that was but seven years in building; which showed greater regard to the honour of God then to his own glory, or even convenience; nor was this built till after that:
and finished all his house; or houses he undertook to build, the singular for the plural; even the house of God, his own palace, and that for the daughter of Pharaoh, and that which is next mentioned, which were in all twenty years building, 1 Kings 9:10.
He built also the house of the forest of Lebanon,.... Besides the temple, his own palace, and the queen's; so called, not because it was built on Mount Lebanon, which lay at the northern border of the land, at a great distance from Jerusalem, whereas this was both a magazine of arms, and a court of judicature, 1 Kings 7:7; see 1 Kings 10:17; neither of which can be supposed to be far from Jerusalem; but because not only it was built of the cedars of Lebanon, but in a situation, and among groves of trees which resembled it; it seems to have been a summer house; and so the Targum calls it, a royal house of refreshment:
the length thereof was an hundred cubits, and the breadth thereof fifty and the height thereof thirty cubits; so that it was in every measure larger than the temple; and, there was good reason for it, since into that only the priests entered; whereas into this went not only Solomon's family but his courtiers and nobles, and all foreign ambassadors, and whoever had any business with him, which required various rooms to receive them in:
upon four rows of cedar pillars; or piazzas:
with cedar beams upon the pillars; which laid the floor for the second story.
And it was covered with cedar above the beams, that lay on forty five pillars, fifteen in a row. On the second floor were three rows of pillars, fifteen in a row, which made forty five, that stood to east, north, and south; and upon these pillars beams, which were the floor of the third story, over which was a roof of cedar wood.
And there were windows in three rows,.... Both in the second and third stories, east, north, and south, there being none in the west, where the porch stood:
and light was against light in three ranks; or the windows, through which light was let, answered to each other.
And all the doors and posts were square with the windows,.... The doors into the several stories and apartments, and the posts and lintel of them, and the windows over them, were all square:
and light was against light in three ranks; they answered one another as before.
And he made a porch of pillars,.... At the west end of the house:
and the length thereof was fifty cubits; answerable to the breadth of the house:
and the breadth thereof thirty cubits: which, added to the length of the house, made it one hundred and thirty:
and the porch was before them; the four rows of cedar pillars of the house, 1 Kings 7:2 this porch was either for his guards to keep watch in; or for his courtiers to walk in, sheltered from rain or the like; or perhaps only for grandeur and magnificence:
and the other pillars and the thick beam were before them; the pillars of the porch, on which were laid beams of cedar for a storey over them, and so on; these were before and right against, and answered to the pillars of the house.
Then he made a porch for the throne,.... The ivory throne on which he sat to hear and try causes, 1 Kings 10:18,
where he might judge, even the porch of judgment: which had its name from thence; this was either in his house in the forest of Lebanon, or in his palace at Jerusalem; the former seems best:
and it was covered with cedar from one side of the floor unto the other; that is, the whole floor.
And his house where he dwelt,.... Which was properly his dwellingplace, that part of the house where he usually resided:
had another court within the porch, which was of the like work; a court between that and the porch, called the inner court, 2 Kings 20:4.
Solomon made also a house for Pharaoh's daughter, whom he had taken to wife; see 1 Kings 3:1,
like unto this porch: being built of the same sort of materials, though in a different form.
All these were of costly stones,.... Marble, porphyry, &c.
according to the measure of hewed stones, sawed with saws, within and without; they were all hewed, and squared, and polished, and so they appeared both on the inside of the building, and without:
even from the foundation unto the coping; from the bottom to the top:
and so on the outside toward the great court: where the people used to assemble when they had causes to be tried, and was adjoining to the king's house.
And the foundation was of costly stones, even great stones,.... Of a great price, and very large:
stones of ten cubits, and stones of eight cubits some of one measure, and some of another; not so many cubits square, but of solid measure; they were so many in length.
And above were costly stones,.... Above the foundation, from thence to the top of the buildings; the whole walls were made of such right up to the ceiling:
after the measure of hewed stones; which, according to the Rabbins, as Kimchi says, were five hands breadth:
and cedars; beams of cedars over them, or these, both the foundation and the walls, were lined with them.
And the great court round about,.... Which surrounded Solomon's house:
was with three rows of hewed stones, and a row of cedar beams; these rows were one upon another, and were a wall to the court, which were either topped with a row of cedar wood, or that was a lining to the stones
for the inner court of the house of the Lord; or rather as, or like to that, as appears from 1 Kings 6:36,
and for the porch of the house; not the temple, but Solomon's house.
And King Solomon sent and fetched Hiram out of Tyre. Not the king of Tyre, but an artificer in it, after described, whom Solomon had heard and upon his request Huram sent him to him, 2 Chronicles 2:13 his name is called Hyperon by Clemens of Alexandria
He was a widow's son of the tribe of Naphtali,.... In 2 Chronicles 2:14, his mother is said to be of the daughters of Dan, as she might be, and yet her son of the tribe of Naphtali; for either she was of the city of Dan, which is placed in the tribe of Naphtali
and his father was a man of Tyre; not a Tyrian by birth, but one who had dwelt there a while, and therefore so called, as Obededom, for a like reason, is called the Gittite:
a worker in brass; and he was filled with wisdom, and understanding, and cunning to work all works in brass; which might be true both of the father and of the son, and especially of the son, who had improved upon his father's knowledge and instructions; and who was skilful to work in other things besides brass, as gold, silver, iron, stone, timber, purple, blue and fine linen, crimson, and all sorts of engraving, and every device that could be put to him by the most ingenious workmen that either David or Solomon had, 2 Chronicles 2:14, but this is only mentioned, because it was in such work he was only employed by Solomon; and it seems, by the mode of expression, that, besides his natural genius, and his diligence and industry, he was filled with wisdom from God more immediately for this service, as Bezaleel and Aholiab were for the service of the tabernacle:
and he came to King Solomon, and wrought all his work; in brass, as follows.
For he cast two pillars of brass, eighteen cubits high apiece,.... In 2 Chronicles 3:15 they are said to be thirty five cubits high, which must be understood of the length or height of them both; and whereas that would allow but seventeen cubits and a half to a pillar, either the round number of eighteen is used, or half a cubit in each may be allowed, either for the base or pedestal into which they were put; or the chapiter at the top of them, into which they might go such a length, and so only what was seen is described:
and a line of twelve cubits did compass either of them about; that was the circumference of them, and therefore their diameter must be four cubits. Eupolemus, an Heathen writer
And he made two chapiters of molten brass, to set upon the tops of the pillars,.... These were large ovals in the form of a crown, as the word signifies; or like two crowns joined together, as Ben Gersom; or bowls, as they are called, 1 Kings 7:41,
the height of the one chapiter was five cubits, and the height of the other chapiter was five cubits; in 2 Kings 25:17 they are said to be but three cubits high; but that is to be understood only of the ornamented part of them, the wreathen work and pomegranates on them, as there expressed; here it includes, with that, the part below unornamented.
And nets of checker work, and wreaths of chain work, for the chapiters which were upon the top of the pillars,.... These were the ornaments of the chapiters; the former being like thick branches of trees, with their boughs and leaves curiously wrought, as the word signifies, and the latter like fringes, such as the Jews wore at the skirt of their garments:
seven for the one chapiter, and seven for the other chapiter; perhaps with four rows of checker work, and three of chain work.
And he made the pillars,.... Or adorned them in this manner:
and two rows round about upon the one network, to cover the chapiters that were upon the top, with pomegranates; that is, there were two rows of figures like pomegranates upon the net or branch work that covered the chapiters that were on the top of the pillars; and Kimchi owns, that some copies so read, on the top of the pillars, instead of pomegranates, though he thinks it a mistake:
and so did he for the other chapiter; put two rows about that also.
And the chapiters that were upon the top of the pillars were of lily work in the porch,.... Or such as was in the porch of the temple; the work was like that wrought in the form of the flower of lilies open:
four cubits; of the five cubits of which the chapiters consisted, four of them were of lily work, the two rows of pomegranates taking up the other; though Dr. Lightfoot
And the chapiters upon the two pillars had pomegranates also above, over against the belly which was by the network,.... The supplement is needless, according to Dr. Lightfoot; the sense being only, that the chapiters were above the lily work, which wrought out as far as the belly of the chapiters, or the middle cubit of them, which the pomegranates filled up:
and the pomegranates were two hundred, in rows round about upon the other chapiter: there were so many in each, which in all made four hundred, as in 1 Kings 7:42. In Jeremiah 52:23, it is said there were ninety six on a side, and yet one hundred round about; the meaning of which is, either that there were twenty four to every wind, as the word there is, and four on the four angles, and so in all one hundred; or, as the above learned writer, when the pillars were set to the wall, only ninety six appeared in sight in a row, the other four being hid behind them.
And he set up the pillars in the porch of the temple,.... Not at the door or entrance into the temple, as Jarchi, but at the entrance into the porch:
and he set up the right pillar; or the pillar on the right hand as you went in, which was on the north, the front being east:
and called the name thereof Jachin; which signifies "he will establish", i.e. the house to which here was an entrance, so long as the pure worship of God should continue in it:
and he set up the left pillar; or the pillar on the left hand, which was to the south, unless the position of them was as you come out:
and called the name thereof Boaz; which signifies "in him", or "it is strength", namely, in the Lord that dwelt there; for this has no respect to Boaz, a prince of the house of Judah, from whom all its kings sprung, as the Targum, in 2 Chronicles 3:17 suggests. These names were given them not by Hiram the artificer, but by Solomon, and which were very expressive; not so much of the nobility of the kingdom of the house of David, as the Targum intimates; or of the church of God, the pillar and ground of truth; as of Christ himself, and the two natures in him, and of his royal dignity, signified by the crowns or chapiters on them, decorated as they were, whose legs are as pillars of marble, and in whom are righteousness and strength; which is no small encouragement to those who are entering into the church of God the temple was a type of; who, should they fear, being feeble and weak, that they should totter and fall, here stands Jachin, to let them know the Lord will establish and settle them; or that they should never hold out to the end, here is Boaz to direct them to Christ, in whom their strength lies, see Song of Solomon 4:15. Allusion is had to these, Revelation 3:12.
And upon the top of the pillars was lily work,.... Which seems to be repeated from 1 Kings 7:19 and confirms that:
and so was the work of the pillars finished; in the manner described.
And he made a molten sea,.... A large vessel made of molten brass, which, because of the great quantity of water it held, is called a sea; as it was usual with the Jews to call a large collection of waters a sea, as the sea of Tiberius and Galilee. This was made by the man of Tyre, as the pillars, by the order of Solomon, and answered to the brasen laver in the tabernacle, only larger than that; and was not only for the priests to wash their hands and feet in, but to dip upon occasion, and by the Jews
ten cubits from the one brim to the other: which was the diameter of it: it was round all about; spherical or circular; not as an hemisphere, as Josephus
and his height was five cubits; from the bottom of it, not including the pedestal of oxen on which it stood:
and a line of thirty cubits did compass it round about; this was the circumference of it; which answers to the diameter of ten cubits, or near it, a round number being given not strictly mathematical.
(Sceptics have ridiculed the Bible for saying that the mathematical constant π is 3 instead of the more precise 3.14159. (This number is an "irrational number" and needs an infinite number digits to specify it exactly.) Two explanations for the apparent lack of precision in the measurement are given.
1) The circumference given may be for the inside circumference and the diameter may be the diameter including the thickness of the rim. This would yield a very accurate mathematical result for the inside circumference of thirty cubits. The outside circumference would be about 31.4 cubits giving a rim thickness of four inches or an hand breadth agreeing with 1 Kings 7:26.
2) In 1 Kings 7:26 we read the vessel "was wrought like the brim of a cup." That is the brim on the top of the vessel was wider than the main part of the vessel. The diameter would be given for the brim. If the brim or lip extended about four inches past the main body of the vessel then the outside circumference of the main part of the vessel would be exactly thirty cubits.
In each case the mathematical ratio for circumference of the circle is π d, where "d" is the diameter and π is the number 3.14159..... For a more complete discussion on this see the article by Russel Grigg.
And under the brim of it round about there were knops compassing it,.... Of an oval form, and therefore the Targum calls them figures of eggs; in 2 Chronicles 4:3 they are said to have the similitude of oxen, being like the heads of oxen, and the other parts oval; or these were in the form of gourds, as sometimes the word is rendered, 2 Kings 4:39 which had on them the figures of the heads of oxen, and might serve as cocks to let out the water:
ten in a cubit, compassing the sea round about it; and as the circumference was thirty cubits, there must be three hundred of these in the circuit:
the knops were cast in two rows when it was cast; for these were cast together with the sea, and being in two rows, there must be in all six hundred of them.
It stood upon twelve oxen,.... Figures of them in brass, of full proportion:
three looking toward the north, and three looking toward the west, and three looking toward the south, and three looking toward the east; and so turned to the four quarters of the world:
and the sea was set above upon them; as it were on the backs of them, and their mouths served as spouts or cocks, to let water out of it on all sides:
and all their hinder parts were inward; that they might not be seen, and which met in a centre; they that were north came against those that were south, and they in the east met with those to the west. The brass of the sea, according to Jacob Leon
And it was an hand breadth thick,.... Or four fingers, as in Jeremiah 52:21.
and the brim thereof was wrought like the brim of a cup,
with flowers of lilies, embroidered and engraven on it for ornament sake:
it contained 2,000 baths; which is reckoned about five hundred barrels of water; it was filled by the Gibeonites; in 2 Chronicles 4:5, it is said to receive and hold 3,000 baths, which the Jewish writers
And he made ten bases of brass,.... Seats, stands, or settles for the ten lavers after mentioned:
four cubits was the length of one base, and four cubits the breadth thereof; as broad as it was long, and so a square, that the laver might stand firm upon it:
and three cubits the height of it; from the ground plates to the surface, that the priests might be able to reach the layers, and wash their sacrifices.
And the work of the bases was on this manner,.... The following was the form in which they were made:
they had borders; plates of brass all around them, which enclosed them:
and the borders were between the ledges; which were short staves or bars of brass, that stood upright all around, like the staves of a cart on each side, or the rails of a balcony, only in double rows; and between these were the borders or plates of brass.
And on the borders that were between the ledges were lions, oxen, and cherubims,.... The figures of them, for ornament sake; the cherubim, being distinguished from lions and oxen might be figures of men, or else of eagles, as Josephus
and upon the ledges there was a base above; a flat piece of brass laid upon the top of the staves or bars:
and beneath the lions and oxen were certain additions made of thin work; these, according to Dr. Lightfoot
And every base had four brasen wheels, and plates of brass,.... Flat pieces or planks of brass, on which the wheels stood, and not on the bare floor; so that these wheels seem only to serve as supporters, not to carry the laver from place to place, as is usually said; for they were not like chariot wheels, on two sides of the carriage, but set one at each square; and besides, when the lavers were placed upon them, they were fixed in a certain place, 1 Kings 7:39.
and the four corners thereof had undersetters; or "shoulders
under the layer were undersetters molten; cast as, and when and where, the bases were, and the plates on which they stood; this explains the use they were of, being under the laver; these pillars stood at the four corners of the base:
at the side of every addition; made of thin work, 1 Kings 7:29 they stood by the side of, or within side, the sloping shelves.
And the mouth of it within the chapiter, and above, was a cubit,.... On the lid of the base rose up a lesser base, called the chapiter, which was circular, like a coronet, as the word signifies, the inside of which was hollow, for the lower part of the layer to rest in; this ascended straight up half a cubit, and then widening, went up half a cubit more, and so in its whole height, as here a cubit; the circuit or circumference of which is called the mouth of the base, into which the feet of the layer were set, the measure of which is next given:
but the mouth thereof was round, after the work of the base, a cubit and an half; which was either the circumference or the diameter of it; one should think the latter:
and also upon the mouth of it were gravings, with their borders, four square, not round; though the mouth was round, the border of it was four square, which had figures engraved thereon, perhaps the same as on the other borders, lions, oxen, and cherubim.
And under the borders were four wheels,.... Not under the borders last mentioned, but those in 1 Kings 7:29,
and the axle trees of the wheels were joined to the base; to the four sides of it:
and the height of a wheel was a cubit and half a cubit; that is, from the plate of brass on which it stood, to the axis or semicircle of it; so that the highest part of the ring being also a cubit and an half, reached to the top of the base, it being but three cubits high, 1 Kings 7:27.
And the work of the wheels was like the work of a chariot wheel,.... In the same form and fashion as one of them; the Targum is,
"like a chariot of glory;'
a splendid one, curiously wrought; unless reference is had in it to the chariot of Ezekiel's vision:
their axle trees, and their naves, and their felloes, and their spokes, were all molten; cast together when the base was.
And there were four undersetters to the four corners of one base,.... Or pillars, as in 1 Kings 7:30.
and the undersetters were of the base itself; they were cast together, and of the same piece of metal with it.
And in the top of the base was there a round compass of half a cubit high,.... The same with the chapiter, 1 Kings 7:31 which rose up straight half a cubit, and widening upwards half a cubit more, here called the round compass of it:
and on the top of the base, the ledges thereof and the borders thereof, were of the same; of the same piece of brass with the base, all being cast together.
For on the plates of the ledges thereof, and on the borders thereof,.... In this, and the preceding verse, a different word is used, translated "ledges", from that in 1 Kings 7:28, the Targum renders it axle trees; as if the axle trees of the wheels, and the borders, circumferences, and rings of them, were meant, in which were the following engravings: it literally signifies hands or handles; and Procopius Gazaeus says, that the bases had, in the upper part of them, forms of hands holding a circle like a crown:
he graved cherubims, lions, and palm trees, according to the proportion of everyone; these figures were made as large as the plates of the ledges, and the borders, would allow room for:
and the addition round about; which were sloping shelves of brass around the base, 1 Kings 7:29 these were ornamented in like manner.
After this manner he made the ten bases,.... This was the form and fashion of them as above described:
all of them had one casting, one measure, and one size; they were all cast into the same mould, and were exactly alike in their form, figures, and size, and each weighed 2000 talents, and the weight of a talent was ninety three pounds and upwards, according to Jacob Leon
Then made he ten lavers of brass,.... There was but one in the tabernacle of Moses, and what became of that is not known: some Jewish writers
one laver contained forty baths; and a bath, according to Bishop Cumberland
and every laver was four cubits: that is, square; this was the diameter of it:
and upon every of the ten bases one laver; for which they were made, even to set the lavers on, and were exactly of the same measure.
And he put five bases on the right side of the house,.... On the south side, which is commonly understood; that is, of the courts of the priests, where they were placed for their use: and five on the left side of the house; on the north, as it must be, if the south is on the right; though as the entrance into the temple was at the east, when a man went in, the north must be on the right, and the south on the left; and this seems to be the position by what follows:
and he set the sea on the right side of the house eastward, over against the south; and therefore the right side must be the north, which is opposite to the south; the sea seems to have stood northeast, which was for the priests to wash in before they entered on divine service; see Gill on Exodus 30:20 hence it became customary with the Heathens to wash before they performed any religious worship
And Hiram made the lavers, and the shovels, and the basins,.... The lavers are not the ten before mentioned, of the make of which an account is before given; but these, according to Jarchi and Ben Gersom, are the same with the pots, 1 Kings 7:45 and so they are called in 2 Chronicles 4:11 the use of which, as they say, was to put the ashes of the altar into; as the "shovels", next mentioned, were a sort of besoms to sweep them off, and the "basins" were to receive the blood of the sacrifices, and sprinkle it; no mention is here made of the altar of brass he made, but is in 2 Chronicles 4:11, nor of the fleshhooks to take the flesh out of the pots, as in 2 Chronicles 4:16,
so Hiram made an end of doing all the work that he made King Solomon for the house of the Lord; what he undertook, and was employed in, he finished, which were all works of brass; of which a recapitulation is made in the following verses to the end of the forty fifth, where they are said to be made of "bright brass", free of all dross and rust; "good", as the Targum, even the best brass they were made of; the brass David took from Hadarezer, 1 Chronicles 18:8 which Josephus
In the plain of Jericho did the king cast them in the clay ground,.... Which being thick, as the word signifies, and stiff and close, was fit for such a purpose as casting brass; of such clay, furnaces of earth used to be made to melt metals in; but here were large things to be cast, as the two pillars, the sea, the ten lavers, &c. moulds were made in the ground, and so the melted brass was poured into them, which gave it its different forms; this, no doubt, was done by Hiram, though said to be done by the king, because done by his orders: the place where it was done was a part of the plain of Jericho, which lay
between Succoth and Zarthan; Succoth was in the tribe of Gad, on the other side Jordan; Zarthan was near it on this side, in the tribe of Manasseh, the same that is called Zartanah, 1 Kings 4:12 and Zaretan, Joshua 3:16 and Zeredathah, 2 Chronicles 4:17. The first casters of brass are said
And Solomon left all the vessels unweighed, because they were exceeding many,.... The vessels of brass before mentioned, being so large, at least some of them, and so numerous; the Targum is, he laid them up, or placed them; he brought them from whence they were cast, and put them in the sanctuary without weighing them:
neither was the weight of the brass found out; or "searched"
And Solomon made all the vessels that pertained unto the house of the Lord,.... That is, he ordered them to be made, even all that were in the tabernacle of Moses; all were newly made, excepting the ark, mercy seat, and cherubim:
the altar of gold; the altar of incense, which was made of cedar, covered with gold, 1 Kings 6:20, hence called the golden altar, Revelation 8:3.
and the table of gold, whereupon the shewbread was; this includes all the tables, for there were ten of them, 2 Chronicles 4:8 where they are said to be placed, five on the right hand, and five on the left; which, according to the Jews
And the candlesticks of pure gold, five on the right side, and five on the left, before the oracle,.... These stood in the holy place, where the shewbread tables did, right before the holy of holies; there were ten of these as of them, which were placed, as the same Jewish writers say, not on the right and left of the temple, but on the right and left of Moses's candlestick, which stood on the south side, Exodus 40:24, these may denote the greater degree of spiritual light in the church of Christ under the Gospel dispensation than under the law:
with the flowers; the figures of flowers, such as were wrought on the candlestick of Moses:
and the lamps; which were seven to each candlestick, and so must be in all seventy; which may put us in mind of the seventy disciples of Christ, some of the first lights of the Gospel church:
and the tongues of gold; which were used to take the wicks out of the oil, and put into the lamps.
And the bowls,.... To keep the oil in:
and the snuffers; to trim the lamps with; though some interpret the word of musical instruments, as the Targum, of psalteries:
and the basins; which were to receive the blood of the sacrifices; and, Ben Gersom thinks, particularly the blood of those that were brought into the sanctuary, see Hebrews 13:11, there were an hundred of them, 2 Chronicles 4:8.
and the spoons; which held the incense:
and the censers of pure gold; with which the coals were carried from one altar to another, on which the incense was burnt; not only those but all the other vessels were 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; the holy of holies and the holy place, the hinges of the doors of each, on which they were hung, and turned, were of gold; so grand and magnificent was this edifice, and so liberal Solomon in the building of it.
So was ended all the work that King Solomon made for the house of the Lord,.... Which he ordered to be made to be put into it, either for the ornament of it, or for the use and service of it; all was completely finished in the space of seven years:
and Solomon had brought in the things which David his father had dedicated; had laid up for, and devoted to the building of the temple, and for the service of it; not all, but what was left; what was over and above there was a need of; though the Jews commonly say, that he made use of none of his father's, but built it and furnished it at his own expense; for which reason he did not begin to build as soon as he came to the throne, they suppose, but waited four years, until he had laid up a sufficiency of his own to defray the expense of it; but it is certain he made use of the brass his father reserved for this work, see 1 Chronicles 18:8 and which, perhaps it may be said, is the reason it is not mentioned here as laid up: even the silver, and the gold, and the vessels, did he put among the treasures of the house of the Lord; he did not convert them to his own use, but laid them up in the treasury of the sanctuary, for the purchase of sacrifices, the repair of the house in future times, &c.
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Gill, John. "Commentary on 1 Kings 7". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the First Week after Epiphany