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the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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Bible Commentaries
1 Kings 6

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New TestamentsSutcliffe's Commentary

Verses 1-38

1 Kings 6:1 . In the four hundred and eightieth year. The Hebrew, the Chaldaic, and most of the Greek versions read as the English; yet some difficulties occur. Vide Poli in locum. The following summary seems to contain the chronology.

Moses in the desert 40 Numbers 14:33

Joshua in war and peace 17 Not named

The Judges 299 Usher’s chronology

Eli’s presidency 40 1 Samuel 4:18

Samuel and Saul 40

David 40 1 Kings 2:11

Solomon 4 Solomon’s 4th year

480 years.

1 Kings 6:26 . One cherub was ten cubits, or more than eighteen feet. Those seen by Ezekiel were very large.

1 Kings 6:29 . He carved cherubims, and palm trees, and open flowers; that is, flowers in full bloom. The supreme Being was understood to delight in woods, groves, gardens, and fountains. So a poet has said Habitarunt Dii quoque sylvas. But the druids thought he preferred cairns, craggs, and mountain-tops. The prophet says, he prefers the heart of the contrite, and the man that trembles at his word.

1 Kings 6:36 . Three rows of stone, and a row of cedar beams put across to support the floor, and shelter the worshippers from the solar rays and the rain. The stones used in the temple were all large.


We proceed now to the description of the glorious temple of the Lord of hosts as built by human hands: and it being designated as a figure of the true church, and illustrative of the heavenly mansions, let us review with veneration the stupendous pile. It stood on mount Moriah, the place where Isaac was laid on the altar. The area of the temple and its courts was a square of five hundred cubits. Ezekiel 42:16-17. The exterior wall was strong like a fortress, comprising a square of four thousand cubits in circumference. Where the ground was irregular it was levelled by arches upon arches, to give beauty and uniformity to all the works. The foundation of this temple was laid with great solemnity, in the four hundred and eightieth year after the Israelites left Egypt, and became an independent nation; it being usual for nations to reckon their epoch from some early and memorable occurrence. The length of this temple was sixty cubits, the breadth twenty, and the height thirty. Difficulties here occur which in this age cannot be solved. If the cubit be eighteen inches, as Dr. Lightfoot here contends, or if it be eighteen inches and a handbreadth, the temple would still be no more than a gentleman’s seat, or a good village church. Why then employ one hundred and eighty thousand men for seven years and a half in so contracted a work? Now we find, in the sixth chapter of Ezra, that Cyrus commanded the Jews to build a temple sixty feet high, and sixty broad, but the length not being named, is understood to be the same, which would be exactly six times larger than the temple of Solomon; yet the aged men wept because it was so much smaller than Solomon’s temple. Besides, we read in 2 Chronicles 3:4, and in Josephus also, that the porch was one hundred and twenty cubits high: the porch was indeed thirty cubits high, but there were chambers over it. It is therefore highly probable that the sixty cubits in length was only the measure of one of the spaces between the four smaller towers which overlooked the building, the temple: and allowing twenty cubits for each of those towers, and sixty cubits for each of the spaces between, then the whole length of the front would be two hundred and sixty cubits. Allowing also the temple to have had four fronts exactly similar, it would exhibit a most noble and regular appearance. The height of the tower, and the length of the building, would then nearly correspond in height and length with the principal cathedral churches in Europe. There were also within the square of the temple other correspondent buildings which formed the court of the Israelites, the court of the priests, the court of the women, &c. The windows were narrow without, but wide within, that the rays of light might dilate in the chambers; and this was wisely done to prevent unpleasant effects from the force of tempests. The chambers were well adapted for the servants of the sanctuary; and happy were they whose dwellings were in the house of the Lord. Happier still are they who shall gain an everlasting priesthood in the house of our heavenly Father, in which there are many mansions. The winding staircase may mark the difficulties in our ascent to heaven; but when we once reach the top, we have a wide and unbounded prospect; yea, and not from Nebo, as Moses, for we shall then have realized the summit of our wishes, and shall find ourselves in the midst of the promised land. The brazen altar was raised very high, by which the Holy Ghost had designated the elevation of our Saviour on the cross.

But though the outside of the sanctuary was of huge and polished stone; yet the inside was of cedar, decorated with carvings, and coated with gold. So the church is ultimately made all glorious within, and adorned with all the adornings of God our Saviour. The Oracle, or the holy of holies, being a figure of heaven, contained the mercyseat, the ark, &c., as described in the last chapters of Exodus. But being a perfect square of twenty cubits, and the wings of each cherub being five feet, those figures stood near the ark to extend their wings around the mercyseat. Those were placed there, as we read in Isaiah the sixth, to represent the multitude of the heavenly host, surrounding the immediate presence of God. Let us learn of them to surround the throne of heaven with the constant oblations of prayer and praise. To sum up what has been said in Exodus, and also in this place, this temple was a striking figure of Christ’s mystical body, of his militant church, and of the everlasting and more glorious temple of the celestial city, and the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on 1 Kings 6". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jsc/1-kings-6.html. 1835.
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