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Bible Commentaries
1 Kings 8

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

Verse 1

Then Solomon assembled the elders of Israel, and all the heads of the tribes, the chief of the fathers of the children of Israel, unto king Solomon in Jerusalem, that they might bring up the ark of the covenant of the LORD out of the city of David, which is Zion.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 2

And all the men of Israel assembled themselves unto king Solomon at the feast in the month Ethanim, which is the seventh month.

At the feast in the month Ethanim (October). [The Septuagint (Vatican), Athanin; Alexandrine, Abaneim.] This name is mentioned only in connection with the erection and dedication of the temple. Josephus ('Antiquities,' b. 8:, ch. 4:, sec. 1) gives the common designation, Tisri. The public and formal inauguration of this national place of worship did not take place until eleven months after the completion of the edifice. The delay most probably originated in Solomon's wish to choose the most fitting opportunity when there should be a general rendezvous of the people in Jerusalem (1 Kings 8:2); and that was not until the next year. That was a jubilee year, and he resolved on commencing the solemn ceremonial a few days before the feast of Tabernacles, which was the most appropriate of all seasons, as that annual festival had been instituted in commemoration of the Israelites dwelling in booths during their stay in the wilderness, as well as of the tabernacle, which was then erected, in which God promised to meet and dwell with His people, sanctifying it with His glory, (cf. Nehemiah 8:1-18.)

As the tabernacle was to be superseded by the temple, there was admirable propriety in choosing the feast of Tabernacles as the period for dedicating the new place of worship, and praying that the same distinguished privileges might be continued to it in the manifestation of the divine presence and glory. At the time appointed for the inauguration, the king issued orders for all the heads and representatives of the nation to repair to Jerusalem, and take part in the august procession. The lead was taken by the king, doubtless preceded by his royal guard (1 Kings 14:27-28), and elders of the people, whose march must have been slow, as priests were stationed to offer an immense number of sacrifices (1 Kings 8:5: cf. Josephus, 'Antiquities,' b.

viii., ch. 4:, sec. 1, who says 'the ground was moist with drink offerings and sacrifices') at various points in the line of road through which the procession was to go; then came the Levites bearing the ark from its temporary resting-place (2 Samuel 6:15-17) on Mount Zion up to Mount Moriah, a distance of about three-quarters of a mile, and by another procession the tabernacle-the old Mosaic tabernacle-was brought from Gibeon. Lastly, the Levites followed, carrying the vessels-namely, the brasen altar, the golden candlesticks, the table of showbread etc., and ornaments belonging to the old, for lodgment in the new, house of the Lord.

There was a slight deviation in this procedure from the order of march established in the wilderness (Numbers 3:31; Numbers 4:15), but the spirit of the arrangement was duly observed. The ark was deposited in the oracle - i:e., the most holy place, the second or inner division of the sanctuary-into which none was permitted to enter, except the high priest once a year-on the great day of atonement, and it was set without the adytum, called its "rest" (Psalms 132:8; Psalms 132:11), in order to screen from profane gaze the solemn symbol of the Jewish religion. In the Holy of Holies, it was placed under the wings of the cherubim (cf. Psalms 18:10; Psalms 80:1; Isaiah 6:1; Isaiah 6:3) - not the Mosaic cherubim, which were firmly attached to the ark (Exodus 37:7-8), but those made by Solomon, which were far larger and more expanded.

Verses 3-7

And all the elders of Israel came, and the priests took up the ark.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 8

And they drew out the staves, that the ends of the staves were seen out in the holy place before the oracle, and they were not seen without: and there they are unto this day. They drew out the staves, [Septuagint, ta hagia, 1 Kings 8:7, and ta heegiasmena, 1 Kings 8:8 ] - a little way, so as to project (see the notes at Exodus 25:15; Numbers 4:6), and they were left in that position until an advanced period of the monarchy. The object was that these projecting staves might serve as a guide to the high priest in conducting him to that place where, once a year, he went to officiate before the ark; otherwise he might miss his way in the dark, the ark being wholly overshadowed by the wings of the gigantic cherubim, and he had not nothing to guide him but the glowing embers in his censer, and the mysterious light that emanated from the mercy-seat. The partial removal of the staves might, like everything else in the temple, have a symbolical signification, that the tabernacle was now stationary, and not to be changed (see the notes at 2 Chronicles 35:3).

Verse 9

There was nothing in the ark save the two tables of stone, which Moses put there at Horeb, when the LORD made a covenant with the children of Israel, when they came out of the land of Egypt.

There was nothing in the ark save the two tables of stone (Deuteronomy 31:26). Some have concluded from this statement that Aaron rod (Numbers 17:10), the golden censer and the manna (Exodus 16:33), had been removed since the Israelites were settled in the promised land or lost while the ark was captive among the Philistines. But nothing else was ever in the ark, the articles mentioned Hebrews 9:4, being not in, but by it, being laid in the most holy place before the testimony (Exodus 16:33; Numbers 17:10).

Verse 10

And it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the holy place, that the cloud filled the house of the LORD,

The cloud filled the house of the Lord. The cloud was the visible symbol of the divine presence, and its occupation of the sanctuary was a testimony of God's gracious acceptance of the temple as of the tabernacle (Exodus 40:34). The dazzling brightness, or rather, perhaps, the dense portentous darkness, of the clouds, struck the minds of the priests, as it formerly had done Moses, with such astonishment and terror (Exodus 40:35; Lev 16:213; Deuteronomy 4:24), that they could not remain, because the cloud was the emblem of Him who made darkness His secret place (Psalms 18:11), who is invisible to mortal eyes, and "past finding out." Thus, the temple became the place where the divine glory was revealed, and the King of Israel established his royal residence.

Verse 11

So that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud: for the glory of the LORD had filled the So that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud: for the glory of the LORD had filled the house of the LORD.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 12

Then spake Solomon, The LORD said that he would dwell in the thick darkness.

Then spake Solomon. For the re-assurance of the priests and people, the king reminded them that the cloud, instead of being a sign ominous of evil, was a token of approval.

The Lord said - not in express terms, but by a continuous course of action (Exodus 13:21; Exodus 24:16; Numbers 10:15).

Verse 13

I have surely built thee an house to dwell in, a settled place for thee to abide in for ever.

I have surely built thee an house. This is an apostrophe to God, as perceiving His approach by the cloud and welcoming Him, with humble but lively thankfulness, to enter as guest or inhabitant of the fixed and permanent dwelling-place which, at His command, had been prepared for His reception. [The Septuagint gives a different version of this devout outcry or song:-Tote elaleese Saloomoon huper tou oikou hoos sunetelese tou oikodomeesai auton; Heelion egnoorisen ek ouranoo. Kurios eipe tou katoikein en gnofoo. Oikodomeeson oikon mou, oikon euprepee sautoo ton katoikein epi kainoteetos, ouk idou hautee gegraptai en biblioo tees oodees-Then spake Solomon in behalf of the house when he had finished building it: He knew the sun in the heaven, The Lord said from his dwelling in darkness, Build my house, a magnificent house for thyself, to dwell in newness. Behold, is it not written in the book of the song?]

Verse 14

And the king turned his face about, and blessed all the congregation of Israel: (and all the congregation of Israel stood;)

The king turned his face about - from the temple, where he had been watching the movement of the mystic cloud; and while the people were standing, partly as the attitude of devotion, partly out of respect to royalty, the king gave a fervent expression of praise to God for the fulfillment of His promise (2 Samuel 7:6-16.)

Verses 15-21

And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of Israel, which spake with his mouth unto David my father, and hath with his hand fulfilled it, saying,

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 22

And Solomon stood before the altar of the LORD in the presence of all the congregation of Israel, and spread forth his hands toward heaven:

Solomon stood before the altar - i:e., east of the altar. This position was, at the dedication-not on the king's canopied throne, by a pillar at the entrance of the inner court (2 Kings 11:14; 33:2 ), but in the outer court, or court of the people-on a brasen scaffold erected for the occasion (2 Chronicles 6:13: cf. Josephus, 'Antiquities,' b.

viii., ch. 4:, sec. 2), fronting the altar of burnt offering, and surrounded by a mighty concourse of people. The altar was probably that which had been erected by David (2 Samuel 24:25); because there is no mention of it in either of the preceding chapters (see the notes at 2 Chronicles 4:1). Assuming the attitude of a suppliant, kneeling (1 Kings 8:54: cf. 2 Chronicles 6:24), instead of the usual standing posture, never used in the East but under circumstances of deep humiliation, and with uplifted hands, he performed the solemn act of consecration-an act remarkable, among other circumstances, for this, that it was done, not by the high priest, or any member of the Aaronic family but by the king in person, who might minister about, though not in, holy things.

And spread forth his hands toward heaven - not over the people (Numbers 6:22-27), but in the customary attitude of prayer; and so did not encroach upon the priest's office by performing 'the highest sacerdotal act of solemn benediction' (Stanley's Lectures,' 27:, p. 218: see the notes at 1 Kings 9:25). This sublime prayer, which breathes sentiments of the loftiest piety blended with the deepest humility, naturally bore a reference to the national blessing and curse contained in the law; and the burden of it, after an ascription of praise to the Lord for the bestowment of the former, was an earnest supplication for deliverance from the latter. He specifies seven cases in which the merciful interposition of God would be required; and he earnestly bespeaks it, on condition of the people praying toward that holy place. He then arose, looking eastward, and a second time blessed the people, the blessing at the close being substantially a brief recapitulation of the preceding prayer. It may be expedient to select some particular portions of it.

Verses 23-25

And he said, LORD God of Israel, there is no God like thee, in heaven above, or on earth beneath, who keepest covenant and mercy with thy servants that walk before thee with all their heart:

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 26

And now, O God of Israel, let thy word, I pray thee, be verified, which thou spakest unto thy servant David my father.

And now, O God, of Israel, let thy word, I pray thee, be verified, which thou spakest unto thy servant David my father. The reference is to the great promise, 2 Samuel 7:11-14. It was made to David before Solomon was born. It began to be verified at his birth, and still more on his completion of the temple, when the glory of the Lord was visible in it; but it pointed to a far greater, nobler, and more extensive kingdom than was embraced by the dominion of that magnificent monarch, happy and extensive as his dominion was (1 Kings 4:20-21). He had probably been taught by his pious father, who had made him well acquainted with that promise, 'to extend his views of it unto the distant future; and indeed he appears,from his language used here - "will God indeed dwell on the earth?" - to have been conscious that his own achievements were unable to exhaust the fullness of its meaning. For, from the announcement of that promise, the Messiah was expected as the king, the king of Israel, exalted on the throne of David, and in virtue of His close communion with the Lord Yahweh, an object of universal reverence, exercising justice and dispensing mercy to the various families of man' (Hardwick, 'Christ and other Masters,' 1:, p. 146).

Verses 27-29

But will God indeed dwell on the earth? behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house that I have builded?

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 30

And hearken thou to the supplication of thy servant, and of thy people Israel, when they shall pray toward this place: and hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place: and when thou hearest, forgive.

Hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place. That house of prayer which Solomon was then dedicating was a type of the spiritual temple afterward to be built of living stones. And the purport of the king's petition, which was afterward answered by a covenant or solemn agreement (see the notes at 1 Kings 9:3), was, that whatever was spoken in the earthly temple should be heard and ratified in the heavenly temple.

Verses 31-36

If any man trespass against his neighbour, and an oath be laid upon him to cause him to swear, and the oath come before thine altar in this house:

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 37

If there be in the land famine, if there be pestilence, blasting, mildew, locust, or if there be caterpiller; if their enemy besiege them in the land of their cities; whatsoever plague, whatsoever sickness there be;

If there be in the land famine, if there be pestilence, blasting, mildew ... The mildew which committed such terrible ravages in their fields, and destroyed their cereal crops, producing famine, was not then known to be of vegetable origin, and to be traceable, as modern science has taught us to trace it, to various parasitic fungi of the Uredo and Puccinia families (Balfour's 'Biblical Botany'), but was ascribed to meteorological influences, or rather regarded as a pestilence inflicted by the direct hand of God (see the notes at Leviticus 26:25; Deuteronomy 28:22, upon the threatenings in which passages these petitions of Solomon are rounded).

Verses 38-40

What prayer and supplication soever be made by any man, or by all thy people Israel, which shall know every man the plague of his own heart, and spread forth his hands toward this house:

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 41

Moreover concerning a stranger, that is not of thy people Israel, but cometh out of a far country for thy name's sake;

Moreover concerning a stranger, that is not of thy people Israel. Not only was prayer made in that house to be answered, but the petitions were to be granted in so conspicuous a manner that their accomplishment was to become, even to unbelievers, a proof of Yahweh's supreme existence and illimitable power. Solomon in this part of his dedication-prayer speaks of strangers, not of Israelite descent, repairing to worship God in that temple, as a known and allowable usage (cf Matthew 21:13; Mark 11:17). There were probably a great number of foreigners resident in Canaan among the Jews, and it would certainly be increased in the reign of Solomon (see, for geer (H1616), the proselyte sojourner, at Exodus 12:19; Exodus 12:48-49; Leviticus 17:15; Leviticus 24:22; Numbers 9:14: and for toshah, or zar, dispersed stranger, at Exodus 12:45; Leviticus 22:10; Numbers 1:51). In this remarkable passage, which is the more decisive as it contains a solemn recognition of the principles and objects of the Jewish law, proceeding from the highest human authority, and sanctioned by the immediate approbation of God, whose glory filled the house of the Lord during the solemn supplication, we perceive it clearly laid down, not only that the Jewish scheme was adapted and designed "to make all the people of the earth know that the Lord was God, and that there was none else;" but also that the stranger from the remotest region, who should be led to believe in and to worship the true God, was not only permitted, but called and encouraged, to "pray toward the temple of Jerusalem," to join in the devotions of the chosen people of God, and equally with them to hope for the divine favour, and the acceptance of his prayers, without becoming a citizen of the Jewish state or submitting to the yoke of the Mosaic ritual or civil law. For the words of Solomon evidently suppose that the stranger whom he describes as thus supplicating God remained, as he had originally been, "not of the people of Israel"' (Graves, 2:, p. 368).

Verses 42-43

(For they shall hear of thy great name, and of thy strong hand, and of thy stretched out arm;) when he shall come and pray toward this house;

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 44

If thy people go out to battle against their enemy, whithersoever thou shalt send them, and shall pray unto the LORD toward the city which thou hast chosen, and toward the house that I have built for thy name:

If thy people go out to battle ...

Verse 45

Then hear thou in heaven their prayer and their supplication, and maintain their cause.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 46

If they sin against thee, (for there is no man that sinneth not,) and thou be angry with them, and deliver them to the enemy, so that they carry them away captives unto the land of the enemy, far or near;

And thou ... deliver them to the enemy, so that they carry them away ... This does not refer to the national captivity in Babylon, but to the smaller 'carrying away,' which might, and probably did, occur in every campaign; and Solomon mentions the case of those Israelites who, by the fate of, war, should be carried away into the enemies' land far and near (Joel 3:4; Amos 1:6-9), being delivered, on account of their apostasies and sins, into the power of foreign invaders (see Judges, passim). Solomon petitions that on their bethinking themselves or repenting, the Lord would hear their prayers, directed to Him in that temple (Daniel 6:10), and restore them to liberty and their own land. It is evident that Solomon knew well the condition on which alone they could enjoy possession of the land. He speaks as one who had not the least idea of the Jews being recalled, either from a brief or a protracted captivity, while they continued in the sin which had caused their captivity: he prays for their restoration only in the event of their returning unto the Lord with all their heart, and with all their soul. And this language of his was evidently borrowed from statements contained in the books of Moses (Deuteronomy 30:1-3: cf. Nehemiah 1:8-9).

Verses 47-58

Yet if they shall bethink themselves in the land whither they were carried captives, and repent, and make supplication unto thee in the land of them that carried them captives, saying, We have sinned, and have done perversely, we have committed wickedness;

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 59

And let these my words, wherewith I have made supplication before the LORD, be nigh unto the LORD our God day and night, that he maintain the cause of his servant, and the cause of his people Israel at all times, as the matter shall require:

Let these my words ... be nigh unto the Lord our God. In drawing to a close, the royal suppliant, adverting to the important nature of the petitions he had preferred, humbly but fervently prayed that they might he accepted.

That he maintain the cause of his servant - i:e., of Solomon, as 1 Kings 8:28-29, and all his successors on the throne of David.

And the cause of his people Israel - according to their necessities and desires in the contingent eventualities specified in the prayer.

Verse 60

That all the people of the earth may know that the LORD is God, and that there is none else.

That all the people of the earth may know that the Lord is God ... - not only by the exhibition of national piety and righteousness, but by the consequent tokens of the divine blessing and continued protection of a people devoted to the Lord.

Verse 61

Let your heart therefore be perfect with the LORD our God, to walk in his statutes, and to keep his Let your heart therefore be perfect with the LORD our God, to walk in his statutes, and to keep his commandments, as at this day.

Let your heart therefore be perfect, [ shaaleem (H8003) `im (H5973) Yahweh (H3068)] - be at peace with God; i:e., consecrated, given to him. The solemn devotion was concluded an appropriate exhortation to the people to maintain a sincere and steady obedience to the divine law.

Verse 62

And the king, and all Israel with him, offered sacrifice before the LORD.

The king, and all Israel ... offered sacrifice before the Lord. This was a burnt offering with its accompaniments, and being the first laid on the altar of the temple, was, as in the analogous case of the tabernacle, consumed by miraculous fire from heaven (see the notes at 2 Chronicles 7:12: cf. Josephus, 'Antiquities,' b. 8:, ch. 4:, sec. 4.) On remarkable occasions the pagans sacrificed hecatombs (one hundred), and even chiliombs (one thousand animals); but the public sacrifices offered by Solomon on this occasion surpassed all the other oblations on record, without taking into account those presented by private individuals, which doubtless amounted to a large additional number. The large proportion of the sacrifices were peace offerings, which afforded the people an opportunity of festive enjoyment. An objection has been raised against the number of oxen and sheep sacrificed on this occasion, as extravagant and far exceeding the limits of credibility. The objection, however, will appear to be of very little weight, when it is remembered that these sacrificial victims were not offered exclusively on one altar, nor on one day; because not only was the festival continued for a fortnight (see the notes at 1 Kings 8:65), but to meet the exigencies of an extraordinary solemnity, Solomon did doubtless, on divine permission asked and granted, 'hallow the middle of the court' - i:e., caused additional altars to be erected in the court of the priests, and perhaps in some adjoining courts, for use on that special occasion only, when a single altar was inadequate to the requirements. Nor is there any difficulty in conceiving from what sources so vast a supply of animals for sacrifice was obtained; for, in addition to the piety of private individuals who, as already noticed, embraced that opportunity of presenting peace offerings, some vassal princes may like Mesha, king of Moab (2 Kings 3:4), have rendered their tribute to Solomon in oxen and sheep.

Verse 63

And Solomon offered a sacrifice of peace offerings, which he offered unto the LORD, two and twenty thousand oxen, and an hundred and twenty thousand sheep. So the king and all the children of Israel dedicated the house of the LORD.

So the king and all the children of Israel dedicated the house of the Lord. The dedication was not a ceremony ordained by the law, but it was done in accordance with the sentiments of reverence naturally associated with edifices appropriated to divine worship.

Verse 64

The same day did the king hallow the middle of the court that was before the house of the LORD: for there he offered burnt offerings, and meat offerings, and the fat of the peace offerings: because the brasen altar that was before the LORD was too little to receive the burnt offerings, and meat offerings, and the fat of the peace offerings.

The same day did the king hallow the middle of the court - i:e., the whole extent of the priests' court, the altar of burnt offerings, though large (2 Chronicles 4:1), being totally inadequate for the vast number of sacrifices that distinguished this occasion. It was only a, temporary erection, to meet the demands of an extraordinary season, in aid of the established altar, and removed at the conclusion of the sacred festival.

Verse 65

And at that time Solomon held a feast, and all Israel with him, a great congregation, from the entering in of Hamath unto the river of Egypt, before the LORD our God, seven days and seven days, even fourteen days.

From the entering in of Hamath unto the river of Egypt - i:e., from one extremity of the kingdom to the other, the people flocked from all quarters.

Seven days and seven days, even fourteen days. The first seven were occupied with the dedication, and the other seven devoted to the feast of tabernacles (2 Chronicles 7:9). The particular form of expression indicates that the 14 days were not continuous, and that some interval occurred in consequence of the great day of atonement falling on the 10th day of the seventh month (1 Kings 8:2: cf. Leviticus 23:27), and the last day of the feast of tabernacles was on the 23rd day (2 Chronicles 7:10), when the people returned to their homes (literally, within tents), with feelings of the greatest joy and gratitude "for all the goodness that the Lord had done for David His servant, and for Israel His people." (See further as to the temple and the dedication of it, 2 Chronicles 3:1-17; 2 Chronicles 4:1-22; 2 Chronicles 5:1-14; 2 Chronicles 6:1-42; 2 Chronicles 7:1-22; 2 Chronicles 8:1-18.)

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 1 Kings 8". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/1-kings-8.html. 1871-8.
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