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Building of the Temple - 1 Kings 6
The account of the building of the temple commences with a statement of the date of the building (1 Kings 6:1); and this is followed by a description of the plan and size of the temple-house (1 Kings 6:2-10), to which there is also appended the divine promise made to Solomon during the erection of the building (1 Kings 6:11-13). After this we have a further account of the internal fittings and decorations of the sanctuary (vv. 14-36), and in 1 Kings 7:1-12 a description of the royal palace which was built after the temple; and, finally, a description of the pillars of the court which were executed in metal by the Tyrian artist, and of the different vessels of the temple (1 Kings 7:13-51).
(Note: Of the special works on the subject of the temple, see my pamphlet, Der Tempel Salomo ' s, eine archäologische Untersuchung (Dorp. 1839); and Carl Chr. W. F. Bähr, Der Salomonische Tempel mit Berücksichtigung seines Verhältnisses zur heil. Architectur überhaupt (Karlsr. 1848). In both of these there are critical notices of the earlier investigations and monographs on this subject, which have now simply a historical interest. See also the short description of the temple in my Bibl. Archäologie, i. §23ff., with sketches of the temple building and the principal vessels on Plates 2 and 3, and the most recent notice by H. Merz in Herzog ' s Cyclopaedia (Art. Temple).
We have a parallel to this in 2 Chron 3 and 4, though here the description is differently arranged. In the Chronicles the external building of the temple-house is not separated from the internal decoration and furnishing; but after the period of erection and the size of the temple-house have been given in 2 Chronicles 3:1-3, there follows a description, a. of the court (2 Chronicles 3:4); b. of the Holy Place with its internal decorations (2 Chronicles 3:5-7); c. of the most Holy Place, with special reference to its size and decorations, also of the colossal cherubim placed therein and the curtain in front of it, which is not mentioned in our account (2 Chronicles 3:8-14); d. of the brazen pillars in front of the court (2 Chronicles 3:15-17); e. of the altar of burnt-offering (2 Chronicles 4:1), which is passed over in the account before us; f. of the brazen sea (2 Chronicles 4:2-5); g. of the brazen lavers, the golden candlesticks, the tables of shewbread, and the golden basons (2 Chronicles 4:6-8); and h. of the courts (2 Chronicles 4:9). The account is then closed with a summary enumeration of the different vessels of the temple (2 Chronicles 4:10-22), which agrees almost word for word with 1 Kings 7:40-50.
The Outside of the Building. - 1 Kings 6:1. The building of the temple, a fixed and splendid house of Jehovah as the dwelling-place of His name in the midst of His people, formed an important epoch so far as the Old Testament kingdom of God was concerned, inasmuch as, according to the declaration of God made through the prophet Nathan, an end would thereby be put to the provisional condition of the people of Israel in the land of Canaan, since the temple was to become a substantial pledge of the permanent possession of the inheritance promised by the Lord. The importance of this epoch is indicated by the fact, that the time when the temple was built is defined not merely in relation to the year of Solomon's reign, but also in relation to the exodus of the Israelites out of Egypt. “In the 480th year after the exodus of the sons of Israel out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon's reign, in the second month of the year, Solomon built the house of the Lord.” The correctness of the number 480, as contrasted with the 440th year of the lxx and the different statements made by Josephus, is now pretty generally admitted; and we have already proved at Judges 3:7 that it agrees with the duration of the period of the Judges when rightly estimated.
Plan and dimensions of the temple-house. - The measure of the temple-house and its several subdivisions are all given in the clear, i.e., as the spaces were seen. The house, i.e., the main building of the temple (lit., as for the house, or shell of the building), its length was sixty cubits, its breadth twenty cubits, and its height thirty cubits, and that, according to 2 Chronicles 3:3, “after the earlier measure,” i.e., after the old Mosaic or sacred cubit, which was a hand-breadth longer, according to Ezekiel 40:5 and Ezekiel 43:13, than the civil cubit of the time of the captivity. The Mosaic cubit, according to the investigations of Thenius, was 214,512 Parisian lines long, i.e., 20 1/2 Dresden inches, or 18 1/2 Rhenish inches (see at Genesis 6:10).
1 Kings 6:3
The porch (lit., hall) in the face of ( על־פּני , i.e., before) the Holy Place of the house was twenty cubits long, before ( על־פּני ) the breadth of the house, i.e., it was just the same breadth as the house. The longer line, which ran parallel to the breadth of the house, is called here ארך , the length, though from our point of view we should call it the width. And ten cubits was its breadth, i.e., its depth in front of the house. The height of the court is not given in our text; but in 2 Chronicles 3:4 it is said to have been 120 cubits. This is certainly an error, although Ewald ( Gesch. iii. p. 300) still joins with Stieglitz ( Baukunst, p. 126, and Beitrr. zur Gesch. der Bauk. i. p. 70) in defending its correctness. For an erection of such a height as this could not possibly have been designated as אוּלם (a hall or porch), but would have been called מגדּל , a tower. But even a tower of 120 cubits in height in front of a temple which was only thirty cubits high, would have shown a greater disproportion than our loftiest church towers;
After the account of the proportionate spaces in the temple-house, the windows through which it received light and air are mentioned. אטמים שׁקפים חלּוני does not mean fenestrae intus latae, foris angustae (Chald., Ar., Rabb., Luther, and others), but windows with closed beams, i.e., windows the lattice-work of which could not be opened and closed at pleasure, as in ordinary dwelling-houses (2 Kings 13:17; Daniel 6:11). For שׁקפים signifies beams overlaid in 1 Kings 7:4, and שׁקף beams in 1 Kings 7:5. The opening of the windows was probably narrower without than within, as in the older Egyptian buildings, as the walls were very strong; and in that case such windows would more thoroughly answer their purpose, viz., to admit light and air, and let out the smoke, so that the interpretation given by the Chaldee is most likely founded upon an ancient tradition, and is in accordance with the fact, though not with the words. It is a disputed point among the commentators where the windows were placed: whether merely in the front over the porch, provided, that is to say, that this was ten cubits lower than the temple-house, or on the side walls above the side stories, which were at the most about twenty cubits high, in which case the Most Holy Place, which was only twenty cubits high, remained quite dark, according to 1 Kings 8:12. We regard the latter view as the correct one, inasmuch as the objections to it rest upon assumptions which can be proved to be false.
1 Kings 6:5-8
The side building. - 1 Kings 6:5. “He built against the wall of the house an outwork round about (i.e., against the two longer sides and against the hinder wall, and not against the front also, where the porch was built), against the walls of the house round about, against the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies, and he made side chambers round about.” יצוּע (written constantly יציע in the Keri) signifies literally stratum, here the lower building or outwork erected against the rooms mentioned. The word is gen. comm., but so construed that the masculine is used in a collective sense to denote the whole of the outworks, consisting as they did of three stories, whereas the feminine is used for one single story of the building (1 Kings 6:6). On this use of the masculine and feminine genders to distinguish the whole mass and the individual parts, which is very common in Arabic, though it is rare in Hebrew, in which the distinction is generally expressed by a peculiar feminine form. as for example אני a fleet, and אניּה a single ship, compare Ewald, Lehrbuch der hebr. Spr. §175, d., and 176, a., and gramm. crit. ling, arab. i. §295. את־קירות does not mean cum parietibus (Seb. Schmidt and J. H. Michaelis), but את is a sign of the accusative, “as for the walls,” and introduces the more precise definition. צלעות signifies, both here and in Ezekiel 41:6., side chambers or side stories, from צלע , to incline to one side, hence to limp, i.e., to lean constantly to one side. From this there were derived for צלע the meanings side, side piece or side wall, e.g., of the ark, Exodus 25:12, Exodus 25:14, etc., of the dwelling, Exodus 26:20, Exodus 26:26, etc., of the altar, Exodus 27:7, etc., the side wall or slope of a mountain, 2 Samuel 16:13, the side portion of the human body, i.e., the rib, Genesis 2:21-22, the sides or leaves of a door in 1 Kings 6:34 of the present chapter, and when used of buildings, the side pieces or portions built out which lean against the main building; and lastly, the idea of a piece which shows a large side, i.e., a broad plank (1 Kings 6:15-16). The meaning planks or beams, as it were ribs or rib-work, is unfounded.
1 Kings 6:6
The (internal) breadth of the lower side story was five cubits, that of the middle one six, and that of the third seven cubits; “for he (they) had made shortenings (i.e., rebates) against the house round about on the outside, that (there might be) no insertion into the walls of the (temple-) house.” The meaning is that rebates were attached against the temple wall, at the point where the lower beams of the different side stories were to be placed, so that the heads of these beams rested upon the rebates and were not inserted in the actual wall of the temple-house. These rebates are called very descriptively מגרעות , deductions or contractions of the thickness of the wall. We may assume that there were four such rebates: three for the three floors of the side stories, and one for the roof. It still remains doubtful, however, whether these rebates were merely laid along the temple wall, or along the outer wall of the side building as well, so as to ensure symmetry and make each of the two walls half a cubit thinner or weaker at every rebate. The former is the more probable. And accordingly the temple wall was one cubit weaker at each rebate, that is to say, in four places. If, therefore, it still remained two cubits thick at the top, it must have been six cubits thick below. This extraordinary thickness, however, would be quite in keeping with the remains of buildings of great antiquity, the walls of which have generally a colossal thickness, and also with the size of the square stones of which the wall was constructed, as described in 1 Kings 7:10.
1 Kings 6:7-8
1 Kings 6:7 contains a circumstantial clause, inserted as an explanation of 1 Kings 6:6: “The house, (namely) when building, was built of perfectly finished stones of the quarry, and hammer and axe; no kind of instrument whatever was heard at the house when it was building.” מסּע שׁלמה אבן (on the construction see Ges. §114, 1, Erl., and Ewald, §339, b.) does not mean stones quite unhewn, which God had so caused to grow that they did not require to be hewn (Theodoret); for although שׁלמות אבנים is used in Deuteronomy 27:6 (compare with Exodus 20:25) to signify uninjured, i.e., unhewn stones, yet this meaning is precluded here by the context (cf. 1 Kings 5:18). שׁלם signifies finished here, that is to say, stones which were so perfectly tooled and prepared when first broken in the quarry, that when the temple walls were built no iron instruments were required to prepare them any further. גּרזן , an axe, here a stone-mason's cutting tool corresponding to the axe. - In 1 Kings 6:8 the description of the side building is continued. “A door ( פּתח , a opening for the entrance) to the middle side chamber (of the lower story) was on the right side (the southern side) of the house, and a winding staircase led up into the middle (room of the middle story) and out of the middle into the third rooms,” i.e., the rooms of the third story. This is the rendering according to the Masoretic text; and the only thing that appears strange is the use of התּיכנה first of all for the middle room of the lower story and then for the middle story; and the conjecture is a very natural one, that the first התּיכנה may have been an error of the pen for התּחתּנה , in which case הצּלע does not signify the side room, but is used in a collective sense for the row of side rooms in one story, as in Ezekiel 41:5, Ezekiel 41:9, Ezekiel 41:11. That this door was made from the outside, i.e., in the outer wall of the side building, and did not lead into the side rooms “from the interior of the Holy Place,” would hardly need a remark, if Böttcher ( Proben alttestl. Schrifterkl. p. 339) and Schnaase ( Gesch. der bildenden Künste, Bd. 1) had not really supported this view, which is so thoroughly irreconcilable with the dignity of the sanctuary.
In 1 Kings 6:9 and 1 Kings 6:10 the description of the exterior of the temple building is brought to a close. “So he built the house, and finished it, and covered the house with beams and boards of cedar.” ויּספּן is not to be understood as relating to the internal panelling of the temple-house, for this is spoken of first in the section which follows (1 Kings 6:15), but to the roofing; ספן means to conceal (Deuteronomy 33:21) and cover in all the other passages, even in Haggai 1:4 and Jeremiah 22:14, where ספוּן is generally, though incorrectly, translated “panelled.” As a verb signifying clothing, it is construed with the accusative. גּבים does not mean boards, but beams, though not “an arched covering” (Thenius), because beams cut in the form of an arch would have been too weak in the middle, nor yet rafters (Böttcher), because the roofs of oriental buildings are flat. בּארזים שׂדרת , “rows, i.e., tablets (consisting) of cedars,” i.e., cedar tablets, which were inserted in rows between the beams. This cedar-work was certainly provided with a strong covering to protect the roof and the building itself against rain; and at the sides it had no doubt a parapet, as in the case of dwelling-houses (Deuteronomy 22:8).
1 Kings 6:10
“And he built the outbuildings to the whole house (i.e., all round the temple-house, with the exception of the front: see 1 Kings 6:5); five cubits was its height,” i.e., the height of each story, the suffix in קומתו being made to agree with היּצוּע through an inaccuracy which has arisen from condensation, although, as in 1 Kings 6:5, it denotes the whole of the side buildings, which consisted of three stories. The height given must also be understood as referring to the height within. Consequently the side buildings had an internal height of 3 x 5 cubits, and reckoning the floorings and the roof of the whole building an external height of 18 or 20 cubits; so that the temple-house, which was thirty cubits high within and about thirty-two without, rose about twelve or fourteen cubits above the side building, and there was plenty of room for the windows in the side walls. וגו ויּאחז : “and it (the side building) held to the house with cedar beams.” The meaning is, that the building was fastened to the house by the joists of the cedar beams belonging to the different stories, which rested upon rebates of the temple wall, so that it was firmly attached to the temple-house, without any injurious insertions into the sanctuary itself. This is apparently the only explanation, that can be grammatically sustained, of words that have received such different interpretations. For the translation given by Thenius, which coincides with this, - viz., “he fastened it (each separate story of the building) to the temple-house with cedar wood, namely, with the cedar beams which formed the flooring and roofing of the three stores,” - is exposed to this grammatical objection, that the suffix is wanting in יעחז , and that אחז is never followed by את in the sense of with. All the other explanations are unsuitable. יעחז signifies neither “he covered the house” (Chald., Vulg., Luther), nor “he overlaid the house;” moreover, the roofing of the house has been already mentioned in 1 Kings 6:9, and there is no trace to be found of any overlaying or covering of the outside with cedar wood.
If, therefore, we reckon the thickness of the temple wall at six cubits, and that of the outer wall of the side building and the front wall of the porch at three cubits each, the whole building would be ninety-three cubits long (externally) and forty-eight cubits broad. The height of the temple-house was about thirty-two cubits externally, and that of the side stories from eighteen to twenty cubits, without the socle upon which the whole building rested. This is not mentioned indeed, as being a subordinate matter, but would certainly not be omitted.
(Note: Thenius, on the other hand, reckons the length of the whole building at a hundred cubits and its breadth at fifty-two, because, on the unfounded assumption that the temple in Ezekiel ' s vision was simply a copy of Solomon ' s temple, he sets down the thickness of the temple wall in front and along the two sides at six cubits, and that of the hinder wall at seven. Moreover, he not only reckons the internal length of the house at sixty-two cubits, in opposition to the statement in the text, that the length of the house (which was divided into the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies) was sixty cubits; but in opposition to v. 16, according to which the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies were separated by boards of cedar, he assumes that there was a wall of two cubits in thickness between the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies, according to Ezekiel 41:3; and, lastly, for no other reason than the wish to get the round number 100, he takes for granted that the hinder wall of the temple was a cubit thicker than that on the other sides.)
The number of rooms in the side buildings is not given, but may be set down at thirty in each story, if their length corresponded to their breadth in the lower story. These rooms had of course windows, although they are not mentioned in the account, but each one would have only a small window sufficient to give it the requisite light. And as to the number of the temple windows also, we can simply make conjectures. We can hardly assume that there were more than six on each side, and there were probably none at the back.
Promise of God during the Building of the Temple. - In what way this promise was communicated to Solomon is not more precisely stated. But the expression “And the word of Jehovah came” seems to point to a prophetic medium. And this is in harmony with 1 Kings 9:2, according to which Jehovah only revealed Himself to Solomon twice by an actual appearance.
1 Kings 6:12-13
וגו הבּית is placed at the head absolutely: “As for the house which thou art building ( בּנה , a participle), if thou walkest in my statutes, ... I will set up my word, which I spake to thy father David.” The reference is to the promise in 2 Samuel 7:12. of the everlasting establishment of this throne. God would fulfil this for Solomon if he would walk in the commandments of the Lord, as his father had already urged upon him when he handed over the kingdom (1 Kings 2:3). The promise in 1 Kings 6:13, “I will dwell in the midst of the children of Israel,” does not contain a second promise added to the one given in 2 Samuel 7:12., but simply a special application of it to the building of the temple which had already been commenced. The eternal establishment of the throne of David involved the dwelling of God among His people, or rather is founded upon it. This dwelling of God is now to receive a new and lasting realization. The temple is to be a pledge that the Lord will maintain for His people His covenant of grace and His gracious presence. In this respect the promised, “I will dwell in the midst of the children of Israel, and not forsake my people Israel,” is a confirmation of the word which Jehovah had spoken to David, although, so far as the actual words are concerned, it is more closely connected with Leviticus 26:11, when the highest blessing attendant upon the faithful observance of the commandments of God is summed up in the promise, “I will make my abode among you, and my soul will not despise you.”
The Internal Arrangements of the Temple-House. - 1 Kings 6:14-22. Internal covering of the house, and division into Holy and Most Holy. - 1 Kings 6:14 (cf. 1 Kings 6:9) resumes the description of the building of the temple, which had been interrupted by the divine promise just communicated.
1 Kings 6:15
“He built (i.e., so far as the sense is concerned, he covered) the walls of the house within with boards of cedar; from the floor of the house to the walls of the ceiling he overlaid it with wood within, and overlaid the floor with cypress boards.” The expression הסּפּן קירות , “walls of the ceiling,” is very striking here, and renders it probable that קירות is only a copyist's error for קורות , “beams of the ceiling.” The whole of the inside of the house was covered with wood, so that nothing was to be seen of the stone wall (1 Kings 6:18). On the other hand, the biblical text knows nothing of any covering of the outer walls also with wood, as many have assumed.
1 Kings 6:16-18
“And he built אמּה את־עשׂרים , the twenty cubits (i.e., the space of twenty cubits), of the hindermost side of the house with boards of cedar,” from the floor to the beams (of the roof). עד־הקּירות is to be explained from הסּפּן קירות עד in 1 Kings 6:15. “And built them for it (the house - לו pointing back to הבּית ) into the hinder room, into the Most Holy.” דּביר is more precisely defined by the apposition הקּדשׁים קדשׁ , and therefore denotes the Most Holy Place. But there is a doubt as to its derivation and true meaning. Aquila and Symmachus render it χρηματιστήριον , Jerome λαλητήριον , or in the Vulg. oraculum, so that they derive it from דּבר , to speak; and Hengstenberg adopts this derivation in Psalms 28:2: דּביר , lit., that which is spoken, then the place where the speaking takes place. Most of the more recent commentators, on the other hand, follow the example of C. B. Michaelis and J. Simonis, and render it, after the Arabic, the hinder portion or back room, which is favoured by the antithesis לפני היכל , the front sanctuary (1 Kings 6:17). The words of the text, moreover, are not to be understood as referring to a cedar wall in front of the Most Holy Place which rose to the height of twenty cubits, but to all four walls of the Most Holy Place, so that the wall which divided the hinder room from the Holy Place is not expressly mentioned, simply because it is self-evident. The words also imply that the whole of the hinder space of the house to the length of twenty cubits was cut off for the Most Holy Place, and therefore the party wall must also have filled the whole height of the house, which was as much as thirty cubits, and reached, as is expressly stated, from the floor to the roof. There remained therefore forty cubits of the house (in length) for לפני היכל , the front palace, i.e., the Holy Place of the temple (1 Kings 6:17). לפני , anterior, formed from לפני (cf. Ewald, §164, a.). - In 1 Kings 6:18 there is inserted in a circumstantial clause the statement as to the internal decoration of both rooms; and the further description of the Most Holy Place is given in 1 Kings 6:19. “And cedar wood was (placed) against the house inside, sculpture of gourds ( colocynthides) and open buds.” מקלעת is in apposition to ארז , containing a more minute description of the nature of the covering of cedar. מקלעת signifies sculpture, half-raised work ( basso relievo ); not, however, “that kind of bas-relief in which the figures, instead of rising above the surface on which they are wrought, are simply separated from it by the chiselling out of their outlines, and their being then rounded off according to these outlines” (Thenius). For although the expression מקלעות פּתּוּחי (1 Kings 6:29) appears to favour this, yet “merely engraved work” does not harmonize with the decorations of the brazen stands in 1 Kings 7:31, which are also called מקלעות פּקעים are figures resembling the פּקּעת , or wild gourds (2 Kings 4:39), i.e., oval ornaments, probably running in straight rows along the walls. צצּים פּטוּרי are open flower-buds; not hangings or garlands of flowers (Thenius), for this meaning cannot be derived from פּטר in the sense of loosening or setting free, so as to signify flowers loosened or set free (= garlands), which would be a marvellous expression! The objection that, “flowers not yet opened, i.e., flower-buds, were not צצּים , but פּרחים ,” rests upon a false interpretation of the passage referred to.
1 Kings 6:19
“And (= namely) he prepared a hinder room in the house within, to place the ark of the covenant of Jehovah there.” תתּן , as 1 Kings 17:14 shows, is not a future ( ut reponeres ), but the infinitive תּת with a repeated syllable תן (see Ewald, §238, c.).
1 Kings 6:20
“And the interior of the hinder room was twenty cubits the length, twenty cubits the breadth, and twenty cubits its height.” The word לפני I agree with Kimchi in regarding as the construct state of the noun לפנים , which occurs again in 1 Kings 6:29 in the sense of the inner part or interior, as is evident from the antithesis לחיצום (on the outside). “And he overlaid it with fine gold.” סגוּר זהב (= סגור =( ז in Job 28:15) unquestionably signifies fine or costly gold, although the derivation of this meaning is still questionable; viz., whether it is derived from סגר in the sense of to shut up, i.e., gold shut up or carefully preserved, after the analogy of כּתם ; or is used in the sense of taking out or selecting, i.e., gold selected or pure; or in the sense of closed, i.e., gold selected or pure; or in the sense of closed, i.e., gold condensed or unadulterated (Fürst and Delitzsch on Job 28:15).
The Most Holy Place had therefore the form of a perfect cube in the temple as well as in the tabernacle, only on an enlarged scale. Now, as the internal elevation of the house, i.e., of the whole of the temple-house, the hinder portion of which formed the Most Holy Place, was thirty cubits, there was a space of about ten cubits in height above the Most Holy Place and below the roof of the temple-house for the upper rooms mentioned in 2 Chronicles 3:9, on the nature and purpose of which nothing is said in the two accounts.
To the gilding of the Most Holy Place, and the allusion to the altar of incense, which in a certain sense belonged to it, there is now appended in 1 Kings 6:21 the gilding of the Holy Place. “Solomon overlaid the house from within with fine gold.” מפּנימה הבּית cannot be the party wall between the Holy Place and the Most Holy, as I formerly supposed, but is the Holy Place as distinguished from the Most Holy. The following words וגו ויעבּר are very obscure. If we rendered them, “he caused to pass over in (with) golden chains before the hinder room,” we could only think of an ornament consisting of golden chains, which ran along the wall in front of the hinder room and above the folding doors. But this would be very singularly expressed. We must therefore take עבּר , as Gesenius, de Wette, and many of the earlier commentators do, according to the Chaldaean usage in the sense of bolting or fastening: “he bolted (fastened) with golden chains before the hinder room;” and must assume with Merz and others that the doors into the Most Holy Place (except on the day of atonement) were closed and fastened with golden chains, which were stretched across the whole breadth of the door and stood out against the wall.
The large cherub-figures in the Most Holy Place. - 1 Kings 6:23. He made (caused to be made) in the hinder room two cherubs of olive wood, i.e., wood of the oleaster or wild olive-tree, which is very firm and durable, and, according to 2 Chronicles 3:10, צעצעים מעשׂה , i.e., according to the Vulgate, opus statuarium , a peculiar kind of sculpture, which cannot be more precisely defined, as the meaning of צוּע is uncertain. “Ten cubits was the height of it” (i.e., of the one and of the other). The figures had a human form, like the golden cherubs upon the ark of the covenant, and stood upright upon their feet (2 Chronicles 3:13), with extended wings of five cubits in length, so that one wing of the one reached to one wing of the other in the centre of the room, and the other wing of each reached to the opposite wall, and consequently the four extended wings filled the entire breadth of the Most Holy Place ( a breadth of twenty cubits), and the two cherubs stood opposite to one another and ten cubits apart. The wings were evidently fastened to the back and placed close to one another upon the shoulder-blades, so that the small space between their starting-points is not taken into consideration in the calculation of their length. The figures were completely overlaid with gold. The ark of the covenant was placed between these cherubs, and under the wings which pointed towards one another. As they were made like those upon the ark, they had evidently the same meaning, and simply served to strengthen the idea which was symbolized in the cherub, and which we have expounded in the Commentary on Exodus 25:20. Only their faces were not turned towards one another and bent down towards the ark, as in the case of the golden cherubim of the ark; but, according to 2 Chronicles 3:13, they were turned לבּית , towards the house, i.e., the Holy Place, so as to allow of the extension of the wings along the full length of the Most Holy Place.
1 Kings 6:29-35
Ornaments of the walls; the floors and doors. - 1 Kings 6:29. All the walls of the house (the Holy Place and the Most Holy) round about ( מסב , adverb) he made engraved work (carving) of cherubs, palms, and open flowers from within to the outside (i.e., in the Most Holy as well as in the Holy Place). ול ... מן אל ... מן ; and לפנים as in 1 Kings 6:20. This completes the account of the nature of the covering of wood. In addition to the oval figures and open flowers (1 Kings 6:18), there were also figures of cherubim and palm-trees carved in the wooden panels. Nothing is said as to the distribution of these figures. But a comparison with Ezekiel 41:18 shows at any rate so much, that the palm-trees alternated with the cherubs, so that there was always one cherub standing between two palm-trees. The gourd-shaped figures and the open flowers probably formed the upper and lower setting of the rows of palms and cherubs, the flowers hanging in the form of garlands above the palms and cherubs, and the rows of gourds arranged in bars constituting the boundary lines both above and blow. It is a disputed question whether there was only one row of palms and cherubs running round the walls, or whether there were two, or possibly even three. There is more probability in the second or third of these assumptions than in the first, inasmuch as on the walls of the Egyptian temples there were often three or four rows of mythological characters in relief arranged one above another (compare my work on the Temple, pp. 70ff.).
1 Kings 6:30
The floor of the house he overlaid with gold within and without, i.e., in the Most Holy Place and in the Holy Place also.
1 Kings 6:31-32
He made the entrance to the back room, doors (i.e., consisting of doors; cf. Ewald, §284, a., β ) of olive wood, which moved, according to 1 Kings 7:50, on golden hinges. וגו האיל , “the projection of the door-posts was fifth” ( מזוּזות( ” is construed freely as an explanatory apposition to האיל , to which it is really subordinate; cf. Ewald, §290, e.). These obscure words, which have been interpreted in very different ways (see Ges. Thes. pp. 43f.), can hardly have any other meaning than this: the projecting framework of the doors occupied the fifth part of the breadth of the wall. For the explanation given by Böttcher and Thenius, “the entrance framework with posts of fifth strength,” has no real support in Ezekiel 41:3. To justify the rendering given to המשּׁית (fifth strength), האיל is supplied, though not in the sense of projection, but in the thoroughly unwarranted sense of strength or thickness of the wall; and in addition to this, a wall two cubits thick is postulated between the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place, in direct contradiction to 1 Kings 6:16. The further evidence, which Thenius finds in 1 Kings 8:8, in support of this explanation, has been already rejected by Böttcher as unsustained. It would indeed be extremely strange for the thickness of the door-posts which formed the setting of the entrance to be given, whereas nothing is said about the size of the doors. According to our explanation, “a fifth of the breadth of the wall,” the entrance was four cubits broad including the projecting door-posts, and each of the two wings of the folding doors about a cubit and a half broad, if we reckon the projecting framework on either side at half a cubit in breadth.
1 Kings 6:32
“And two doors (i.e., folding doors, sc. he made; וּשׁתּי is also governed by עשׂה in 1 Kings 6:31) of olive wood, and carved upon them carved work,” etc., as upon the walls (1 Kings 6:29), “and overlaid them with gold, spreading the gold upon the cherubs and palms” ( ירד , hiphil of רדד ), i.e., he spread gold-leaf upon them, so that, as Rashi observes, all the figures, the elevations and depressions of the carved work, were impressed upon the coating of gold-leaf, and were thus plainly seen. Thenius infers from this explanatory clause, that the gilding upon the walls and doors was most probably confined to the figures engraved, and did not extend over the whole of the walls and doors, because, if the doors had been entirely overlaid with gold, the gilding of the carved work upon them would have followed as a matter of course. But this inference is a very doubtful one. For if it followed as a matter of course from the gilding of the entire doors that the carved work upon them was overlaid with gold, it would by no means follow that the overlaying was such as to leave the carved work visible or prominent, which this clause affirms. Moreover, a partial gilding of the walls would not coincide with the expression כּל־הבּית עד־תּם in 1 Kings 6:22, since these words, which are used with emphasis, evidently affirm more than “that such (partial) gilding was carried out everywhere throughout the temple proper.” The doors in front of the Most Holy Place did not render the curtain mentioned in 2 Chronicles 3:14 unnecessary, as many suppose. This curtain may very well have been suspended within the doors; so that even when the doors were opened outwards on the entrance of the high priest, the curtain formed a second covering, which prevented the priests who were ministering in the Holy Place and court from looking in.
“And thus he made upon the door of the Holy Place posts of olive wood from a fourth (of the wall),” i.e., a framework which occupied a fourth of the breadth of the wall, or was five cubits broad (see at 1 Kings 6:31), “and two doors of cypress wood, two leaves each door turning,” i.e., each of the folding doors consisting of two leaves, each of which was made to turn by itself, so that it could be opened and shut alone (without the other; קלעים is probably only a copyist's error for צלעים ). Cypress wood was chosen for the folding doors of the Holy Place, and not olive wood, as in the case of the Most Holy Place, probably because it is lighter in weight, and therefore less likely to sink. It is questionable here what idea we are to form of the division of each folding door into two leaves, each of which turned by itself: whether we are to think of each wing as divided lengthwise into two narrow leaves, or as divided half way up, so that the lower half could be opened without the upper. I agree with Merz in thinking the latter the more probable assumption; for the objection made by Thenius, on the ground that doors of this kind are only seen in the houses of the peasantry, is an idle assertion which cannot be proved. In a doorway of five cubits in breadth, after reckoning the doorposts the width of the two wings could not be more than two cubits each. And if such a door had been divided into two halves, each half would have been only one cubit wide, so that when open it would not have furnished the requisite room for one man conveniently to pass through. On the other hand, we may assume that a folding door of four cubits in breadth, if made in just proportions, would be eight cubits high. And a door of such a height might easily be divided into two halves, so that only the lower half (of two cubits in breadth and about four in height) was opened for the daily entrance of the priests into the Holy Place. These doors probably opened outwards, like those in front of the Most Holy Place.
1 Kings 6:35
Carving and gilding: as upon the doors before the hinder room. The gold was levelled or smoothed over that which had been engraved, i.e., it was beaten out thin and laid upon the carving in such a manner that the gold plate fitted closely to the figures. Gilding was generally effected in ancient times by the laying on of gold plate, which was fastened with tacks (compare 2 Chronicles 3:9).
The courts. - ”He built the inner court three rows of hewn stones and one row of hewn cedar beams.” The epithet inner court applied to the “court of the priests” (2 Chronicles 4:9) presupposes an outer one, which is also mentioned in 2 Chronicles 4:9, and called “the great court.” The inner one is called the upper (higher) court in Jeremiah 36:10, from which it follows that it was situated on a higher level than the outer one, which surrounded it on all sides. It was enclosed by a low wall, consisting of three rows of hewn stones, or square stones, laid one upon another, and a row of hewn cedar beams, which were either laid horizontally upon the stones, after the analogy of the panelling of the temple walls on the inside, or placed upright so as to form a palisading, in order that the people might be able to see through into the court of the priests. According to 2 Chronicles 4:9, the outer court had gates lined with brass, so that it was also surrounded with a high wall. Around it there were chambers and cells (2 Kings 23:11; Jeremiah 35:4; Jeremiah 36:10) for the priests and Levites, the plans for which had already been made by David (1 Chronicles 28:12). The principal gate was the east gate (Ezekiel 11:1). Other gates are mentioned in 2 Kings 11:6; 2 Chronicles 23:5, Jeremiah 20:2 2 Kings 12:10; 2 Chronicles 24:8. The size of these courts is not given. At the same time, following the analogy of the tabernacle, and with the reduplication of the rooms of the tabernacle which is adopted in other cases in the temple, we may set down the length of the court of the priests from east to west at 200 cubits, and the breadth from south to north at 100 cubits; so that in front of the temple-building on the east there was a space of 100 cubits in length and breadth, or 10,000 square cubits, left free for the altar of burnt-offering and the other vessels, in other words, for the sacrificial worship. The outer or great court will therefore, no doubt, have been at least twice as large, namely, 400 cubits long and 200 cubits broad, i.e., in all, 80,000 square cubits; so that the front space before the court of the priests (on the eastern side) was 150 cubits long from east to west, and 200 cubits broad from south to north, and 50 cubits in breadth or depth still remained for the other three sides.
The time consumed in building. - The foundation was laid in the fourth year in the month Ziv (see 1 Kings 6:1), and it was finished in the eleventh year in the month Bul, i.e., the eighth month, so that it was built in seven years, or, more precisely, seven years and a half, “according to all its matters and all its due.” בּוּל for יבוּל signifies proventus; בּוּל ירח is therefore the fruit month, the month of tree fruits. The name probably originated with the Phoenicians, with whom the fruit ripened later; and it is said to be found upon the great Sidonian inscription (compare Dietrich on Ges. Lex. s. v.). For the other explanations see Ges. Thes. p. 560. In comparison with other large buildings of antiquity,
(Note: According to Pliny ( H. N. 36, c. 14), all Asia was building at the celebrated temple of Diana at Ephesus for 220 years.)
and also of modern times, the work was executed in a very short time. But we must bear in mind that the building was not a very large one, notwithstanding all its splendour; that an unusually large number of workmen were employed upon it; and that the preparation of the materials, more especially the hewing of the stones, took place at Lebanon, and for the most part preceded the laying of the foundation of the temple, so that this is not to be included in the seven years and a half.
Moreover, the period mentioned probably refers to the building of the temple-house and court of the priests only, and to the general arrangement of the outer court, and does not include the completion of the underground works which were necessary to prepare the space required for them, and of which only a portion may have been carried out by Solomon.
(Note: The account given by Josephus of these substructures does not show very clearly how much originated with Solomon, and how much belongs to the following centuries. At the close of his description of Solomon ' s temple ( Ant. viii. 3, 9), he states that, in order to obtain the same level for the ἔξωθεν ἱερόν , i.e., the outer court of the temple, as that of the ναός , he had large valleys filled up, into which it was difficult to look down on account of their depth, by raising the ground to the height of 400 cubits, so as to make them level with the top of the mountain; and in the de Bell. Jud. v. 5, 1, after describing the temple-mountain as a mighty hill, the summit of which hardly sufficed for the temple-house and altar when the building was commenced, because it sloped off on all sides, he adds: “ Solomon therefore caused a wall to be raised on the eastern side, and had a porch built upon the ground that was heaped up, and on the other sides the temple ( ναός ) was naked ( γυμνός ). ” But in the description of the temple of Herod ( Ant. xv. 11, 3) he says: “ The temple was surrounded by enormous porticos ( στοαί ), which rested upon a large wall, and were the largest work of which men have ever heard. It was a steep rocky hill, rising gradually towards the eastern part of the city up to the highest point. This hill Solomon surrounded with a wall by very great works up to the very apex, and walled it round, commencing at the root, which is surrounded by a deep ravine, with stones which were fastened together with lead, ... and continuing to the top, so that the size and height of the building, which was completed as a square, were immense, ” etc. The flat obtained in this manner is then described by Josephus as a περίβολος of four stadia in circumference, namely, one stadium on each side. Now, although it was the outer court of the temple of Herod (the court of the Gentiles) which first had this circumference (see my bibl. Archäol. i. pp. 143,144), and Josephus, de Bell. Jud. v. 5, 1, relates that subsequently ( τοῖς ἑξῆς αἰῶσιν ) the levelling of the hill was carried out to even a greater extent, as the people still continued to heap up earth, it is quite conceivable that Solomon may have planned the area of the temple with this circumference. And this conjecture acquires great probability from the fact that, according to the researches of Robinson ( Pal. i. pp. 420ff.; Recent Investigations concerning the Topography of Jerusalem, pp. 68ff.; and Later Biblical Researches, pp. 173ff.), there are layers of enormous square stones in the lowest part of the south-western and south-eastern corners of the present Haram wall, the dimensions of which, apart from the fact that they are hewn with grooved edges, point to an early Israelitish origin, so that they might very well be relics of the Solomonian substructures of the temple-hill. There is also a remnant of the arch of a bridge of the same construction on the southern portion of the western wall of the Haram, which points to a bridge that led across from Moriah to Zion, and “ appears to remove all the objections to the identity of this part of the enclosure of the mosque with that of the ancient temple ” (Rob. Pal. i. p. 426). “ Here then, ” adds Robinson ( Pal. i. pp. 427,428), “ we have indisputable remains of Jewish antiquity, consisting of an important portion of the western wall of the ancient temple area. They are probably to be referred to a period long antecedent to the days of Herod; for the labours of this splendour-loving tyrant appear to have been confined to the body of the temple and the porticos around the court. The magnitude of the stones also, and the workmanship, as compared with other remaining monuments of Herod, seem to point to an earlier origin. In the accounts we have of the destruction of the temple by the Chaldaeans, and its rebuilding by Zerubbabel under Darius, no mention is made of these exterior walls. The former temple was destroyed by fire, which would not affect these foundations; nor is it probable that a feeble colony of returning exiles could have accomplished works like these. There seems, therefore, little room for hesitation in referring them back to the days of Solomon, or rather of his successors, who, according to Josephus, built up here immense walls, 'immoveable for all time. ' ”
But however probable this assumption may be, the successors of Solomon cannot come into consideration at all, since Josephus says nothing of the kind, and the biblical accounts are not favourable to this conjecture. With the division of the kingdom after the death of Solomon the might of the kings of Judah was broken; and the accounts of the new court which Jehoshaphat built, i.e., of the restoration of the inner court (2 Chronicles 20:5), and of the repairs of the temple by Joash (2 Kings 12:5.; 2 Chronicles 24:4.) and Josiah (2 Kings 22:5.; 2 Chronicles 34:8.), do not produce the impression that the walls so costly or so large could have been built at that time. The statement of Josephus ( l.c. de Bell. Jud. v. 5, 1) concerning the gradual extension of the levelled hill, has reference to the enlargement of the temple area towards the north, inasmuch as he adds to the words already quoted: “ and cutting through the north wall, they took in as much as was afterwards occupied by the circumference of the whole temple. ” - If, therefore, the remains of the ancient wall which have been mentioned, with their stones of grooved edges, are of early Israelitish origin, we must trace them to Solomon; and this is favoured still further by the fact, that when Solomon had a magnificent palace built for himself opposite to the temple (see 1 Kings 7:1-12), he would assuredly connect the temple-mountain with Zion by a bridge. - Even J. Berggren ( Bibel u. Josephus über Jerus. u. d. heil. Grab.) thinks it probable that “ the so-called remains of an arch in the western Haram wall may be, as Robinson at first indicated, a relic of that ancient and marvellous xystus bridge, with which the Davidic steps on the two steep sides of the valley of the Tyropoeum, constructed for the purpose of going from Moriah to Zion or from Zion to Moriah, were connected. ” )
The importance of the temple is clearly expressed in 1 Kings 8:13, 1 Kings 8:27; 1 Kings 9:3; 2 Chronicles 6:2, and other passages. It was to be a house built as the dwelling-place for Jehovah, a place for His seat for ever; not indeed in any such sense as that the house could contain God within its space, when the heavens of heavens cannot contain Him (1 Kings 8:27), but a house where the name of Jehovah is or dwells (1 Kings 8:16.; 2 Chronicles 6:5; cf. 2 Samuel 7:13, etc.), i.e., where God manifests His presence in a real manner to His people, and shows Himself to them as the covenant God, so that Israel may there worship Him and receive an answer to its prayers. The temple had therefore the same purpose as the tabernacle, whose place it took, and which it resembled in its fundamental form, its proportions, divisions, and furniture. As the glory of the Lord entered into the tabernacle in the cloud, so did it into the temple also at its dedication, to sanctify it as the place of the gracious presence of God (1 Kings 8:10; 2 Chronicles 5:14). The temple thereby became not only a visible pledge of the lasting duration of the covenant, by virtue of which God would dwell among His people, but also a copy of the kingdom of God, which received at its erection an embodiment answering to its existing condition at the time. As the tabernacle, with its resemblance to a nomad's tent, answered to the time when Israel had not yet found rest in the promised land of the Lord; so was the temple, regarded as an immoveable house, a pledge that Israel had not acquired its lasting inheritance in Canaan, and that the kingdom of God on earth had obtained a firm foundation in the midst of it. - This relation between the temple and the tabernacle will serve to explain all the points of difference which present themselves between these two sanctuaries, notwithstanding their agreement in fundamental forms and in all essential particulars. As a house or palace of Jehovah, the temple was not only built of solid and costly materials, with massive walls of square stones, and with floors, ceilings, walls, and doors of cedar, cypress, and olive woods - these almost imperishable kinds of wood - but was also provided with a hall like the palaces of earthly kings, and with side buildings in three stories in which to keep the utensils requisite for a magnificent ceremonial, though care was taken that there adjoining and side buildings were not attached directly to the main building so as to violate the indestructibility and perfectness of the house of God, but merely helped to exalt it and elevate its dignity. And the increased size of the inner rooms, whilst the significant forms and measures of the tabernacle were preserved, was also essentially connected with this. Whereas the length and breadth of the dwelling were doubled, and the height of the whole house tripled, the form of a cube was still retained for the Most Holy Place as the stamp of the perfected kingdom of God (see Comm. on Pent. p. 441), and the space was fixed at twenty cubits in length, breadth, and height. On the other hand, in the case of the Holy Place the sameness of height and breadth were sacrificed to the harmonious proportions of the house or palace, as points of inferior importance; and the measurements were thirty cubits in height, twenty cubits in breadth, and forty cubits in length; so that ten as the number of perfectness was preserved as the standard even here. And in order to exhibit still further the perfectness and glory of the house of God, the walls were not constructed of ordinary quarry-stone, but of large square stones prepared at the quarry, and the walls were panelled within with costly wood after the manner of the palaces of Hither Asia, the panelling being filled with carved work and overlaid with gold plate. And whereas the overlaying of the whole of the interior with gold shadowed forth the glory of the house as the residence of the heavenly King, the idea of this house of God was still more distinctly expressed in the carved work of the walls. In the tabernacle the walls were decorated with tapestries in costly colours and interwoven figures of cherubim; but in the temple they were ornamented with carved work of figures of cherubim, palms, and opening flowers. To the figures of cherubim, as representations of the heavenly spirits which surround the Lord of glory and set forth the psychical life at its highest stage, there are thus added flowers, and still more particularly palms, those “princes of the vegetable kingdom,” which, with their fine majestic growth, and their large, fresh, evergreen leaves, unite within themselves the whole of the fulness and glory of the vegetable life; to set forth the sanctuary (probably with special reference to Canaan as the land of palms, and with an allusion to the glory of the King of peace, inasmuch as the palm is not only the sign of Palestine, but also the symbol of peace) “as a place that was ever verdant, abiding in all the freshness of strength, and enfolding within itself the fulness of life,” and thereby to make it a scene of health and life, of peace and joy, a “paradise of God,” where the righteous who are planted there flourish, and blossom, and bear fruit to old age (Psalms 92:13). And this idea of the house, as an immoveable dwelling-place of God, is in perfect harmony with the setting up of two colossal cherubim in the Most Holy Place, which filled the whole space with their outspread wings, and overshadowed the ark of the covenant, to show that the ark of the covenant with its small golden cherubim upon the Capporeth, which had journeyed with the people through the desert to Canaan, was henceforth to have there a permanent and unchangeable abode.
The Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary is a derivative of a public domain electronic edition.
Keil, Carl Friedrich & Delitzsch, Franz. "Commentary on 1 Kings 6". Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany