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Bible Commentaries
1 Kings 7

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verses 1-12

First Kings - Chapter 7 AND Second Chronicles - Chapters 3, 4

The Palace, verses 1-12

The question arises as to why Solomon took nearly twice as long in building the palace for himself as for building the temple. At first it might seem that he lavished more time and carefulness on the palace, but this is surely not the fact. It may be that the building of the palace was delayed and progressed more slowly because most of the workmen were employed on the Lord’s house, which certainly should have had priority. Also it is to be considered that David already had a fine palace, constructed of materials furnished by Hiram of Tyre, and Solomon surely must have dwelt in it. The building here referred to may mean then a refurbishing or a remodeling of an already existing building. This kind of work usually may involve a slower process, which would extend to several years. It is not to be thought that Solomon preferred his own building to that of the Lord.

The house of the forest of Lebanon was so called because it was constructed of cedar pillars arranged in rows of fifteen each. Thus it was a literal "forest" of cedar pillars a hundred fifty feet long by seventy-five feet broad by forty-five feet high. It was an imposing and magnificent structure. Cedar beams lay across the tops of the pillars, and at levels fifteen feet apart, to form a three-storied building with rows of windows at each level opposite each other in each story. A colonnaded porch, or portico, of cedar pillars spanned the entrance to the house. It appears from the fact that the golden shields, constructed of the gold left over from the temple building, were stored here that this was something like a museum.

A similar porch, or portico, was built before Solomon’s judgment throne. It was called the porch of judgment and was likewise covered with cedar beams. A third porch of like design led to the house of Solomon and seems to have connected with the house of Pharaoh’s daughter, which he built for her of the same fine cedar. This series of porches and courts seems to have comprised a kind of compound area which included the temple, house of Lebanon, and the palace as major components.

The materials of these structures were of the finest. The costly hewed stone, prepared beforehand by the Tyrean stonesquarers, was used in their building. Some of the stones were huge, measuring twelve and fifteen feet in length and must have weighed tons. They were ashlars, but not of the thin veneer kind used in fine buildings today, but perfectly fitted stones, many of which survive through the centuries in their imposing grandeur.

Verses 13-22

Commentary on 1 Kings 7:13-22; AND 2 Chronicles 3:15-17 :

The Kings account now gives a better introduction of Hiram the artisan. It is said again that he was the son of a widow, but here that he was of the tribe of Naphtali. His father was a Tyrian. However, 2 Chronicles 2:14 states that his mother was a "daughter of Da" It is to be remembered that a group of the Danites settled the city of Laish, renaming it Dan, in the days of the judges (Judges 18:27-29). This town was just north of the tribal possession of Naphtali. Possibly Hiram’s mother was a Danite woman who lived in Naphtali. This half-Hebrew man was very skillful in bronze work, which skill he evidently also applied to work with other precious metals, and was well received in Israel.

Hiram’s work in construction of the great pillars which stood before the temple is minutely detailed, especially in Kings. It seems to have been one of the most imposing of his accomplishments. The pillars were each eighteen cubits, or twenty-seven feet long, though Chronicles gives the combined length of both pillars. Each pillar was also eighteen feet in circumference. These were constructed of molten brass (properly translated, bronze). Each pillar was embellished with chapiters, or capitals, of molten bronze also, on the tops of each. These capitals were seven and a half feet high and were decorated with checkered network and wreaths of chainwork, numbering seven for each capital. There were also rows of molten pomegranates, a hundred to each pillar, constructed on the capitals. Overall around the top was lily-work.

These beautiful columns, or pillars, had names. The one on the right was called Jachin, which means, "He shall establish", while that on the left was Boaz, meaning, "In it is strength." Some have joined these two meanings in the statement, "He shall establish it in strength." This might have been implied for the house of God, or more precisely of Israel. This is what the Lord promised David and Solomon if they walked in obedience to His statutes and commands, and if their descendants did so after them. They failed to do this, but the Lord’s promise shall be fulfilled when Israel eventually turns to the Lord Jesus Christ in the end of the age (Isaiah 2:2-5).

Verses 23-39

Commentary on 1 Kings 7:23-39 AND 2 Chronicles 4:1-6; 2 Chronicles 4:10

The Sea and Bases,

The Chronicles account starts off with a description of the brazen altar of sacrifice which stood in the court of the temple. It was much larger than that which had been in the old tabernacle, being thirty feet square and fifteen feet in elevation. The ascent to the altar was by steps The old tabernacle altar had been only seven and a half feet square and five and a half feet high. Everything about the temple was much more imposing.

The accounts parallel one another in describing the construction of the molten sea, which like the altar, was of bronze. It was round, fifteen feet in diameter, forty-five feet in circumference, and seven and a half feet in height. Two rows of decorative knobs encircled the sea underneath the brim, ten knobs in a cubit.

Twelve oxen of bronze were constructed on which to set the sea, three each of which faced each of the four directions, east, north, west, and south. All the oxen faced outward, with the sea set on their hinder parts. The brim of the sea had a thickness of four inches, and was cupped with decorative flowers on it. It could hold two thousand baths, or about 12,000 gallons.

The Chronicles account, stating that the sea contained three thousand baths, indicates that one of the accounts retains an ancient copyist’s error. Ten lavers were constructed for the washing of offerings, and placed five to each side of the court, but the sea was reserved for the ceremonial washing of the priests themselves.

Kings gives the account of the construction of bases or stands on which the lavers were to be set, these also made of bronze. These were six feet square and four and a half feet high. A decorated border extended around them, between ledges, or frames (crossbars). Depicted on this were figures of lions and oxen in all open areas of the border.

Four bronze wheels were set under the four corners of each base, or stand, on bronze axles. Each wheel was twenty-seven inches high and made like a chariot wheel, all its parts, axles, rims, hubs, and spokes being made of cast bronze.

The basis in the top of the stand was nine inches deep, with a border decorated with the usual figures used throughout the temple. The lavers, or basins, on these each held forty baths of water, or two hundred forty gallons. They were arranged as shown earlier in the Chronicles account and commentary above.

Verses 40-51

Lavers and Vessels, Commentary on 1 Kings 7:40-51 AND 2 Chronicles 4:7-8; 2 Chronicles 4:19-22; 2 Chronicles 5:1

The Chronicles account continues to describe the various parts of the temple furnishings, while the Kings account is a lengthy summation of the work of Hiram the artisan. Ten candlesticks (actually lampstands, holding small lamps burning olive oil) were constructed and arranged five on each side of the holy place in the temple. There were also ten tables for the shewbread arranged in similar fashion in the holy place. All these objects were made of gold, in addition to which there were also a hundred golden basins. Chronicles continues to sum up the precious articles of gold in the temple, mentioning again the lampstands and tables, and adding the tongs, snuffers, spoons, censers, the inner doors, etc.

The Kings account emphasizes again the construction of the bronze pillars and their capitals, with their bowls, pomegranates, network, etc. The list includes the ten bases for the ten laver, the sea resting on the backs of the twelve oxen; the pots, shovels, and basins used around the bronze altar of sacrifice, all constructed of burnished bronze. Hiram’s foundry for these things was constructed in the hard clay ground between Zarathan and succoth on the east side of the Jordan valley. So much copper was smelted that Solomon discontinued the record of it.

From 1 Kings 7:48 ff the account deals with the objects of gold which Hiram also made, all of which is parallel to the Chronicles account noted above. Mentioned in addition are the golden hinges for the doors. Both accounts conclude with the statement that the house of the Lord was finished according to plan, after which Solomon brought into all the things David had prepared for it, of silver, gold, vessels, and put them in the treasure storage. Some of the chambers around the walls were devoted to this purpose.

These things may be emphasized. 1) work for the Lord should be done with promptness and diligence; 2) those who devote their talents to the Lord’s work will be blessed with greater abilities; 3) the beauty of a house of God should not be for man’s glory, but honoring and glorifying to Him; 4) accuracy and exactness in God’s work are befitting His requirements and His own perfection.

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on 1 Kings 7". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/1-kings-7.html. 1985.
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