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Bible Commentaries
1 Kings 7

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and HomileticalLange's Commentary

Verses 1-51

C.—The accomplishment of the building of the palace, and the preparation of the vessels of the temple

1 Kings 7:1-51

1But1 Solomon was building his own house thirteen years, and he finished all his house. 2He built also the house of the forest of Lebanon; the length thereof was a hundred cubits, and the breadth thereof fifty cubits, and the height thereof thirty cubits, upon four2 rows of cedar pillars, with cedar beams upon 3the pillars. And it was covered with cedar above upon the beams [side chambers3], 4that lay on forty-five pillars, fifteen [i.e., chambers] in a row. And there were windows [beams4] in three rows, and light [front5] was against light [front] in three ranks. 5And all the doors6 and posts were square with the windows 6[beams3]: and light [front] was against light [front] in three ranks. And he made a porch of pillars; the length thereof was fifty cubits, and the breadth thereof thirty cubits: and the porch was before them: and the other pillars and the thick beam [threshold7] were before them. 7Then he made a porch for the throne where he might judge, even the porch of judgment: and it was covered with cedar from one side of the floor to the other [from the floor to the floor8]. 8And his house where he dwelt had another court within the porch, which was of the like work. Solomon made also a house for Pharaoh’s daughter, 9whom he had taken to wife, like unto this porch. All these were of costly stones, according to the measures of hewed stones, sawed with saws, within and without, even from the foundation unto the coping, and so on the outside toward 10[from the outside even to9] the great court. And the foundation was of costly 11stones, even great stones, stones of ten cubits, and stones of eight cubits, And above were costly stones, after the measures of hewed stones, and cedars. 12And the great court round about was with three rows of hewed stones, and a row of cedar beams, both for the inner court of the house of the Lord [Jehovah], and for the porch of the house.

13, 14And king Solomon sent and fetched Hiram out of Tyre. He was a widow’s son of the tribe of Naphtali, and his father was a man of Tyre, a worker in brass: and he was filled with wisdom, and understanding, and cunning to work all works in brass. And he came to king Solomon, and wrought all his work.

15For he cast two pillars of brass, of eighteen cubits high apiece;10 and a line of twelve cubits did compass either10 of them about. 16And he made two chapiters of molten brass, to set upon the tops of the pillars: the height of the one chapiter 17was five cubits,11 and the height of the other chapiter was five cubits: and nets of checker work [lace-work], and wreaths of chain-work, for the chapiters which were upon the top of the pillars; seven11 for the one chapiter, and seven12 for the other chapiter. 18And he made the pillars [pomegranates13], and two rows round about upon the one network, to cover the chapiters that were upon the top with pomegranates [top of the pillars]: and so did he for the other chapiter. 19And the chapiters that were upon the top of the pillars were of lily-work in the porch, four cubits. 20And the chapiters upon the two pillars had pomegranates14 also above, over against the belly which was by the network: and the pomegranates were two hundred in rows round about upon the other chapiter. 21And he set up the pillars in the porch of the temple: and he set up the right pillar, and called the name thereof Jachin: and he set up the left pillar, and called the name thereof Boaz. 22And upon the top of the pillars was lily-work: so was the work of the pillars finished.

23And he made a molten sea, ten cubits from the one brim to the other [from lip to lip]: it was round all about, and his height was five cubits: and a line of thirty cubits did compass it round about. 24And under the brim of it round about there were knops15 compassing it, ten in a cubit, compassing the sea round about: the knops were cast in two rows, when it was cast. 25It stood upon twelve oxen, three looking toward the north, and three looking toward the west, and three looking toward the south, and three looking toward the east: and the sea 26was set above upon them, and all their hinder parts were inward. And it was an handbreadth thick, and the brim thereof was wrought like the brim of a cup, with16 flowers of lilies: it contained two17 thousand baths.

27And he made ten bases of brass: four18 cubits was the length of one base, and four cubits the breadth thereof, and three17 cubits the height of it. 28And the work of the bases was on this manner: they had borders [panels19], and the borders [panels] were between the ledges: 29and on the borders [panels] that were between the ledges were lions, oxen, and cherubims: and upon the ledges there was a base above:20 and beneath the lions and oxen were certain additions made of thin work [were wreaths of hanging work21]. 30And every base had four brazen wheels, and plates [axletrees] of brass: and the four corners thereof had undersetters [four feet thereof had shoulders]: under the laver were under-setters 31[the shoulders] molten, at the side of every addition [wreath]. And the mouth of it22 within the chapiter and above was a cubit:23 but the mouth thereof was round after the work of the base, a cubit and a half:24 and also upon the mouth of it were gravings with their borders [panels], foursquare, not round. 32And under the borders [panels] were four wheels;25 and the axletrees [holders] of the wheels were joined to [were in the base] the base: and the height of a wheel was a cubit and half a cubit. 33And the work of the wheels was like the work of a chariot wheel: their axletrees, and their naves, and their felloes, and 34their spokes, were all molten. And there were four undersetters [shoulders] to the four corners of one base: and the undersetters [shoulders] were of the very base itself. 35And in the top of the base was there a round compass of half a cubit high:26 and on the top of the base27 the ledges [holders] thereof and the 36borders [panels] thereof were of the same. For [And] on the plates of the ledges [holders] thereof, and on the borders [panels] thereof, he graved cherubims, lions, and palm-trees, according to the proportion [room] of every one, and additions 37[wreaths] round about. After this manner he made the ten bases: all of them had one casting, one measure, and one size [form]. 38Then made he ten lavers of brass: one laver contained forty baths: and every laver was four cubits:28 and upon every one of the ten bases one Lamentations 1 Kings 7:39 And he put five bases on the right side of the house, and five on the left side of the house: and he set the sea on the right side of the house eastward over against the south. 40And Hiram made the lavers [pots29], and the shovels, and the basins.

So Hiram made an end of doing all the work that he made king30 Solomon for the house of the Lord [Jehovah]: 41the two pillars, and the two bowls of the chapiters that were on the top of the two pillars; and the two networks, to cover the two bowls of the chapiters which were upon the top of the pillars; 42and four hundred pomegranates for the two networks, even two rows of pomegranates for one network, to cover the two bowls of the chapiters that were upon the31 pillars; 43and the ten bases, and ten lavers on the bases; 44and one sea, and twelve oxen under the sea; 45and the pots, and the shovels, and the basins: and all these32 vessels, which Hiram made to king Solomon for the house of the Lord [Jehovah], were of bright [burnished33] brass. 46In the plain of Jordan did the king cast them, in the clay ground [compact soil] between Succoth and Zarthan. 47And Solomon left all the vessels unweighed, because they were exceeding many: neither was the weight of the brass found out.

48And Solomon made all the vessels that pertained unto the house of the Lord [Jehovah]: the altar of gold, and the table of gold, whereupon the shewbread was, 49and the candlesticks of pure gold, five on the right side, and five on the left, before the oracle, with the flowers, and the lamps, and the tongs of gold, 50and the bowls, and the snuffers, and the basins, and the spoons, and the censers of pure gold; and the hinges of gold, both for the doors of the inner house, the most holy place, and for the doors of the house, to wit, of the temple. 51So was ended all the work that king Solomon made for the house of the Lord [Jehovah]. And Solomon brought in the things which David his father had dedicated; even the silver, and the gold, and the vessels, did he put among the treasures of the house of the Lord [Jehovah].

Exegetical and Critical

1 Kings 7:1. But Solomon was building his own house, &c. 1 Kings 7:1 forms a heading to the section concluding at 1 Kings 7:12. The palace consisted of several buildings following upon one another, all of which, i. e., his “whole” house, Solomon finished in thirteen years; but he only required seven years to complete the temple, because, perhaps, there were more buildings in the former, or fewer workmen were employed on them. The place where the palace was built cannot be, according to Ewald, the so-called Ophel, i.e., the continuation of the temple-mount (Moriah), which diminished gradually as it stretched towards the south, but Mount Zion, which was divided from Moriah by the valley of Tyropæon. It is clear from 2 Kings 11:19, that the way from the temple led immediately “down” to the palace. When Josephus says (Antiq.,8, 5, 2), that the palace stood opposite to the temple (ἄντικρυς), it could only have been built on the northeast side of Zion. The palace of the Asmoneans stood there too, from which a bridge led over the valley to the temple on Moriah (see Keil on the place). As to the entire building, the dim intimations of the text do not give us a perfect idea of it. The descriptions of Josephus and those of the Rabbins, especially Judah Leo, contradict the text in many points, and are only arbitrary, unfounded additions. The earlier interpreters of the text could throw no light on it, and archæologists have hitherto been altogether silent, or have attempted no exact description. Thenius alone has succeeded in throwing the greatest light on the subject. The most recent description by Unruh (das Alte Jerusalem und seine Bauwerke, s. 95 sq.) is deserving of no notice.

[In this matter, Ewald (Gesch. iii. s. 339) expresses himself with some hesitation. He says that the palace was built probably upon the southerly continuation of the temple-mount, usually called Ophel, i.e., hill, hillock, or knob. In the recently published work, The Recovery of Jerusalem, the same view is urged upon pp. 222–3, and also upon p. 240 sq. The English and American explorers would seem at least to favor this supposition, and in the work just referred to, on p. 233 there is a plan showing approximately the rock on Mount Moriah, and there the palace is placed to the south of the temple, with the Tyropæon on one side, and the vale of Kedron on the other,—this being quite remote from the position assigned the palace by our author. Nor do I think that our author’s reasons for supposing it to have been built upon the northeast corner of Mount Zion sufficent to overthrow the general opinion.—E. H.]

1 Kings 7:2. He built also the house of the forest of Lebanon, &c. This was the first of the various buildings composing the palace, therefore by no means a separate summer residence apart on Mount Lebanon (Dathe, Michaelis, and others). It was only given the name of Lebanon on account of the multitude of cedars standing alongside of each other. According to 1 Kings 10:16 sq., and Isaiah 22:8, it seems to have served chiefly, if not altogether, as an armory; the Arabic says, “A house for his weapons.” The space, 100 cubits long and 50 broad, enclosed, as appears 1 Kings 7:9, a thick stone wall thirty cubits high, but probably only upon three sides, as we shall presently show. The expression Upon four rows of cedar pillars is to be connected with words at the beginning: he built. The four rows of pillars stood along the surrounding wall, thus forming a peristyle which enclosed a court-yard. The expression טוּר says this plainly; for it cannot be understood differently, here, from 1 Kings 7:4; 1 Kings 7:18; 1 Kings 7:20; 1 Kings 7:24; 1 Kings 6:36; Ezekiel 46:23, where it everywhere means a row enclosing and running round a space. The text does not at all justify Keil’s supposition “that four rows of pillars stood on the longest sides of the building, but divided, so that but two rows were on each side;” there is no mention of the longest sides in the text. Weiss’ view is just as incorrect (Kostüm-kunde, i. s. 357), that is, that there was a row on each of the four sides of the building, four rows of pillars standing together. The number of the pillars is not given, but they could not have been few, as their appearance was that of a forest. It is not necessary, however, to suppose, with Thenius, that there were 400. They must have stood close together, and could not have been very thick, for the breadth of the peristyle did not exceed ten cubits, and enough room must have been left to pass comfortably between the pillars. The Vulgate translates explanatorily: quatuor deambulacra inter columnas cedrinas.—Beams of cedar were placed on the rows of pillars, and formed the foundation for the three-storied superstructure of cedar-wood, which rested against the stone wall, and was probably so joined to it that the beams which formed at the same time the ceiling of the lower part and the floor of the upper part of the building were inserted in it. Each of the three stories had צְלָעֹת, i.e. (1 Kings 6:5; 1 Kings 6:8 ; Ezekiel 41:6) side-chambers. The numbers, forty-five, fifteen each row, have been supposed to refer to the immediately preceding עַמּוּדִים by nearly all the commentators, who have been misled by the masoretic punctuation; but they were quite wrong. It is impossible that the pillars on which the three-storied structure. rested, could only have numbered forty-five, divided into three rows. They could not have supported a structure 100 cubits long and 50 broad. Neither could the building have been named “forest of Lebanon” from forty-five scattered pillars. Thenius, with whom Keil agrees, rightly refers the numbers to the הַצְּלָעֹת as the principal matter, which is further defined by the עַל־הָעַמּוּדִים, and translated, “and the chambers, forty-five in number, which were built upon the pillars, fifteen in each course, had also coverings of cedar-wood.” But if the forty-five rooms were so divided that each of the three surrounding rows of the story had fifteen, we are obliged to admit that the stories only covered three sides of the square space, since forty-five cannot be so divided into four parts as to make twice as many rooms on the two long sides of 100 cubits as on the two other sides of fifty cubits. On the other hand, the fifteen rooms of each of the three rows are very naturally and simply divided, if we imagine six on each long side and three on the rear side. In that case, either the colonnade and the three-storied structure that rested on it would not have continued over the front short side of the wall that surrounded the square space, and it must have been provided only with entrance-gates, or else this wall only enclosed three sides of the square, so that the building stood quite open in the front. The last is not admissible, because 1 Kings 7:12 says that the whole palace was surrounded by a great court, which had a stone wall running around it, and also doubtless doors that could be shut.—The text itself says of the side-chambers, and light was against light in three ranks. The word מֶחֱזָה occurs only here, and does not mean the same as חַלּוֹן windows, but aspectus, prospectus. Towards the interior of the building the chambers stood open (Sept.: καὶ χῶρα ἐπὶ χῶραν τρισσῶς), so that the view from each of the chambers in the rows over one another opened on the opposite one. This rather resembled a gallery, which was divided off by board partitions into single chambers. [Like boxes at the theatre.] The doors, which led from one room to another, were square (1 Kings 7:5); where וְהַמְּזזּוֹת is subjoined, we must either translate, with the posts, or, what seems better, read as Thenius וְהַמֶּחֱזוֹת, which also suits the repeated “light against light.” The entrances, as well as the front openings which stood opposite each other, were square; so says the Sept.: τὰ θυρώματα καὶ αἱ χῶραι τετράγωνοι. By שָׁקֶף we are to think, after the שׁקפים in 1 Kings 7:4, of the beams over the openings and doors. There is nothing decisive about the height of the rooms. Of the height of thirty cubits for the whole edifice, eight may have been for the colonnade, eighteen for the three stories, and four for the different ceilings (Then. and Keil). The entire arrangement of the building is still frequently met with in the East; a court surrounded by colonnade and galleries (Winer, R.-W.-B., i. s. 466). Since, as already remarked, costly armor and weapons were preserved or displayed here, the inner space was used no doubt for assemblies of warriors, for the body-guard, &c.

1 Kings 7:6-7. And he made a porch of pillars, &c. 1 Kings 7:6-7 contain the account of the second building that belonged to the entire palace. It stood inward from the armory, and had two divisions, viz., the porch of pillars and the throne or hall of judgment. The measures, 60 cubits long and thirty broad, are generally thought to belong only to the porch of pillars, and older commentators have believed, from analogy with 1 Kings 6:3, that because fifty cubits are the measure of the breadth of the armory, the length was to be understood as the breadth, and the breadth as the depth, as in the temple-porch; so that the porch of pillars must have immediately adjoined the armory. But the name אוּלָם contradicts this; its etymology does not signify (see on 1 Kings 6:3) an adjoined rear part, but can only mean a fore-building. Besides, the porch of pillars itself had again a porch, so that it cannot have been immediately joined to the armory. The fifty cubits are to be wholly understood of the length. So we may describe the porch of pillars as “a colonnade,” running from the front to the rear, “probably roofed in, but open at the sides (Porticus), and leading to the porch of judgment” (Thenius, Keil). But the width of thirty cubits does not suit the length of fifty cubits, if it was only a passage to a building; it suits an independent structure alone. The armory, that was not in the least like a passage, resembled the fore-space of the temple, and other buildings; it was twice as long as it was broad. How, then, could a building, the breadth of which was three-fifths of its length, be a mere passage? If the porch of pillars were only a passage to the hall of judgment, it is inexplicable why the text gives only the size of the subordinate part, and says not a word about those of the main portion. All this forces us to the conclusion that the measure is that of the whole building, including, therefore, both divisions, the porch of pillars and porch of judgment. The latter must have been, then, the rear division, in which, like the debir of Jehovah’s house, the throne described (1 Kings 10:18, sq.) stood; the former the front, a building of pillars in fact, where they who were admitted to the king’s audience assembled, or over whom he sat in judgment. This view explains why the porch of pillars had also a fore-porch and an entrance-space, such as a mere passage never has, but which is appropriate only to buildings. This fore-porch was no doubt an entrance-space, the roof of which was supported by two or four pillars, as the Targumists explain the word עָב, a threshold space, a “perron with steps” (Keil). If both divisions of the building are called אוּלָם, it is because it was the entrance building of the king’s peculiar residence. The concluding words of 1 Kings 7:7 : covered with cedar from one side of the floor to the other, can mean only this: that the floor of the porch of pillars, as well as the floor of the porch of judgment, was covered with cedar. Keil explains: “from the lower floor to the upper, in so far, namely, over the porch of judgment as there were rooms built;” the floor of the latter being the ceiling of the hall of judgment. The existence of an upper structure is not, however, hinted at, and how could the text, instead of simply saying from the floor to the ceiling, speak of a floor without saying of what it was the floor. The Vulgate translates: a pavimento usque ad summitatem; the reading must have been different therefore, and as the Syriac has it thus also, Thenius supposes that instead of הַקַּרְקַע it originally stood הַקּוֹרוֹת in the text, which is to be understood, as in 1 Kings 6:15-16, of the beams of the roof. In this case the words might bear the meaning, which seems very admissible, that the porch walls were lined with cedar from the floor to the roof-beams.

1 Kings 7:8. And his house where he dwelt, &c. Solomon’s dwelling-house and that of his wife were indeed separate houses, but formed together the third building in connection with the palace. This building had another court within the porch, i.e., behind the porch of judgment. Both dwellings were like unto this work, that is, they had walls of cedar-wood like the porch of judgment, and were splendidly and gorgeously made. The queen’s house was behind that of the king, according to the universal Eastern custom (Winer, R.-W.-B., i. s. 468); it is not only here, but also in 1 Kings 9:24, expressly said, that it was built for Pharaoh’s daughter, not therefore for a harem (Thenius). The 700 wives and 300 concubines afterwards mentioned (1 Kings 11:3) could scarcely have lived in the queen’s own house. Thenius gives the reason why the king’s and queen’s dwellings are not more accurately described: “because in most cases there was only access to the porch of judgment, and because audience of the king, even in the court of his residence, had probably become very difficult to obtain in Solomon’s reign.” But the reason was more likely that, whilst the armory and the porches of pillars and of judgment were uncommon buildings, the dwelling-house did not differ from ordinary dwellings in its architecture and furnishing, except in being more costly. It required, therefore, no minute description.

1 Kings 7:9-12. All these were of costly stones, &c. What 1 Kings 7:9-10 state, must be taken to refer to all three buildings that formed the palace. [Mr. T. O. Paine is of opinion that 1 Kings 7:9-12 “are concerning the temple again—because the pillars are stone. In the house of the king they are cedar, 1 Kings 7:2.” But this writer, after much pains-taking labor, does not satisfy.—E. H.] They could have been no mere wooden erections, but had walls of square stones, cut inside and outside (see on 1Kings 5:31) even unto the coping,i.e., “to the corner-stones on which the beams of the roof rested” (Keil). The Sept. has ἕως τῶν γείσων, but γείσον is the roof projection. Thenius thinks this was “the pinnacle-like protection of the flat roofs;” this edge, however, is nowhere called טְפָחוֹח, but מַעֲקֶה (Deuteronomy 22:8). The words: on the outside toward the great court, mean, according to Thenius, “from the outside (front) to the great (rear) court.” But this מִחוּץ cannot mean something entirely different from the immediately preceding word. An “outer” court presupposes an “inner” one (1 Kings 6:36), but not a rear one, and the inner could never be called “great,” in distinction from the outer one. The great court was evidently that which surrounded all the palace buildings (Ewald); and we must suppose that there was such an one even if not named here. All the buildings were formed of square stones from top to bottom, and the same even used outside too, even to the outer great court. Even the foundations, which were not seen outside, were made of these larger stones (1 Kings 7:10). Lastly (1 Kings 7:11), it is added that this great court had the same surrounding as the inner temple court, namely, three rows of stones and one of cedar (see on 1 Kings 6:36). Keil and Le Clerc think the porch of the house to be (1 Kings 7:12) the “columned- and throne-hall” of the palace, which had the same surrounding as the great court had. The text, however, mentions, besides the latter, only one court of the dwelling (1 Kings 7:8), but says nothing about a third court around that porch. The words immediately preceding suggest scarcely anything else than the porch of Jehovah’s house; but as this had no court, the meaning must be, as with the court, which was within or before the porch. [So Bp. Horsley, after Houbigant, suggests that perhaps for ולחצר, we should read כהחצר, like the inner court.—E. H.] Calmet only finds the similarity there in ut parietes mixtam lapidibus cedrum exhiberent.

1 Kings 7:13-14. And the king. … and fetched Hiram. 1 Kings 7:13. Comp 2 Chronicles 2:13. According to this, Hiram was the son of a Tyrian, and of an Israelitish woman from the neighboring Dan, in the tribe of Naphtali, not, as the Rabbins say, an adopted son. His skill is described in the same words as that of Bezaleel in Exodus 31:3 sq., only the addition, “filled with the spirit of God” is wanting. The art of casting brass is very ancient; the making of this metal, which “has a peculiar red color and strong lustre, and is of considerable hardness” (Rosenmüller, Alterthumsk., IV., i. s. 156), was much earlier understood than that of iron (Winer, R.-W.-B., ii. s. 90). In what now follows we have only a description of the vessels that were added to those of the tabernacle; the others are merely named. The Chronicles alone mention the altar of burnt-offering (II. 1 Kings 4:1).

1 Kings 7:15-20. And he cast two pillars of brass. 1 Kings 7:15-22. Comp. 2 Chronicles 3:15-17; 2 Chronicles 4:12 sq.;2 Kings 25:17; Jeremiah 52:21 sq. Each of these pillars,34i.e., the shafts, was eighteen cubits high and twelve in circumference, was four fingers thick, and hollow within (Jeremiah 52:21). As the Chronicles alone, differently from all other passages, gives thirty-five cubits as the height, this number is “evidently formed by changing the sign יח = 18, into לה = 35” (Keil). [The conjecture of Abarbinel, that the chronicler gives the sum-total of the height of the two pillars, is gravely adopted by Bp. Patrick on the place.—E. H.] The chapiters were cast separately, and then placed on the shafts; each of the former was five cubits high (1 Kings 7:16), and had, as 2 Chronicles 4:12 relates, an upper and lower part. כֹתֶרֶת sometimes denotes the entire capital (1 Kings 7:16), sometimes the upper (1 Kings 7:19) and sometimes the lower part (1 Kings 7:17-18; 1 Kings 7:20). The upper part was lily-work (1 Kings 7:19; 1 Kings 7:22), i.e., in the form of a full-blown lily-cup. As שׁוּשַׁן means only lily, Thenius has no grounds for supposing it to be the lotus, because there were pillar capitals in Egyptian buildings which had the form of the lotus-flower. The lotus-flower does not once occur in the entire Old Testament, but the lily very often, for it was common in Palestine, and grows without cultivation (Winer, R.-W.-B., ii. s. 28). The molten sea had also the same form (1 Kings 7:26). The four cubits (1 Kings 7:19) are not the measure of the diameter of the lily-work (Thenius), but of its height, which was much more important for the form of the entire capital, than the diameter, which was easily discoverable from the given circumference of the pillar. [Bp. Horsley takes the view which Thenius has adopted. He translates, “and the chapters that were upon the top of the pillars (were) in a socket (באלום) of the shape of a lily of four cubits,” and adds, the four cubits are to be understood, I think, of the general breadth of the lily, &c.—E. H.] And it is the more impossible to doubt that this upper part of the capital was the largest and principal part, as 1 Kings 7:22 expressly repeats at the close of the whole description: “and upon the top of the pillars was lily-work.” Some think it should be three instead of four cubits high as in 1 Kings 7:19, but they have no grounds but the uncertain passage 2 Kings 25:17, where there was very probably a change of ה = 5 into ג = 3. The lower part of the capital, which was only one cubit, is not very clearly described. It was made of checker or net-work (1 Kings 7:17), pomegranates (1 Kings 7:18), and a belly (1 Kings 7:20). Instead of the last (בֶטֶן) in 1 Kings 7:41-42; and in 2 Chronicles 4:12-13, גֻּלָּה occurs, i.e., arch, swelling (see Gesenius, W. B., an גָּלַל). This arching was לְעֵבֶר, i.e., on the other side of the net-work (1 Kings 7:20), therefore not on it or over it, but behind or under it. In so far as the net-work lay over or upon it, it could, as seen from outside, be described as lying beyond it (Keil). The net-work consisted of seven wires (גְּדִילִים); it was chain-work, the wires being plaited like a chain, woven crosswise together, thus forming a lattice-work or net. It is not that they hung down like chains (Gesenius). Possibly the text in 1 Kings 7:17 may not be wholly above suspicion, but Thenius undertakes a daring and unjustifiable critical operation when he blots out chain-work, chiefly because the Sept. does, and reads שְׂבָבָה for שִׂבָעָה twice, and then translates: “and he made two lattices or trellis-wires to cover the capitals that (were) on the tops of the pillars, one for one and one for the other capital.” Lastly, the pomegranates, of which there were 200, 100 in a row (1 Kings 7:20), were, no doubt, in a row above, and a row below the net-work, and thus served for a border to the latter. According to Jeremiah 52:23, 96 of the 100 pomegranates were ררּחַה, which means neither “open to the air,” i.e., uncovered (Böttcher, Thenius), nor dependentia (Vulgate), or “hanging free” (Ewald), but only “windwards” (Hitzig), i.e., turned to the four quarters of the heavens, as רוּחַ in Ezekiel 42:16-18 (comp. Ezekiel 37:9); four pomegranates marked the places where each two quarters of the heavens met. The text says nothing of pedestals for the pillars; but it would scarcely have passed over so important a part of the pillars had they existed.

1 Kings 7:21. And he set up the pillars, &c. There have been, and still are to this day, two opinions in sharp contrast one with the other as to the precise place where the two pillars were erected. According to one, they supported the roof of the porch, which stood quite open at the front (see Meyer, Merz), or the projection of the entrance leading to it (Ewald, Thenius); according to the other, they stood alone, before the porch, and without supporting anything (Stieglitz, Kugler, Schnaase, Winer, Keil). After repeated investigation of the subject, I find it impossible to subscribe to either opinion. Against the first there are the following objections: (a) The pillars were brazen, and begin the list of all the metal articles, which were first finished by the peculiarly skilful artisan Hiram, after the building of the temple was completed (1 Kings 6:14; 1 Kings 6:37-38). If they had been designed to bear up the roof of the porch or the projection of its entrance, they could not have been vessels, but necessary integral parts of the building; but as this was “finished” without them, and as supporting pillars of brass are never found in stone and wooden buildings; these pillars, which were works of art, could not have had an architectural but only a monumental character, and this is shown by the names attached to them. Stieglitz truly says: “It was their separate position alone which gave these pillars the impressive aspect they were designed to wear, and the significant dignity with which they increased the grandeur of the whole, while they shed light upon its purpose.” (b) The entire height of the pillars was (with their capitals) twenty-three cubits; but that of the porch was either twenty or thirty cubits (see on 1 Kings 6:3). In the first case the pillars must have been too high, in the latter too low, to bear up the porch-roof; for even if they had pedestals, these could not have been seven cubits high, (c) As the text does not mention any portal to the porch, still less does it say anything of any “projection” over the same, which was borne up by the pillars (Thenius), or of any “beam” joining the pillars above, on which there was another structure, or “decoration” (Ewald). The appeal to Amos 9:1 : “Smite the lintel of the door, that the posts may shake,” is quite out of place, for סִפִּים never mean the projections of buildings, but the thresholds (Judges 19:27; 2 Kings 12:10; Isaiah 6:4). Neither can anything be proved from Ezekiel’s vision (Ezekiel 40:48), for the two pillars are not once named in it. The Sept. indeed mentions a μέλαθρον ἐπ’ ἀμφοτέρωτ τῶν στὺλων, in 1 Kings 7:20, but this was quite gratuitous; they do not translate 1 Kings 7:20 at all, but give a completely different one, a mere gloss, of which the Hebrew text does not contain a word. We must conclude, then, that they stood separately. But in respect now of the other opinion, that they were placed in front of the porch, the בָּאוּלָם in 1 Kings 7:19 contradicts that, as does also לְאֻלָם in 1 Kings 7:21. However we may understand 1 Kings 7:19, which is certainly obscure, בְּאוּלָם cannot be translated, “in that manner, or according to the porch” (Keil), which would be equivalent to כָאוּלָם, which Raschi accepts, and which means “that the lily-work was on the pillar-capitals as well as on the porch.” Now there is not one word about the lily-work on the porch. Still less can בָּאוּלָם mean לִפְנֵי תָאוּלָם, but only in the porch. Further, לְאֻלָם cannot be translated: “before the porch” (Luther), or “at the porch” (Keil), i.e., in front, but only, for the porch. As the molten sea and the bases were for the outer court, the golden altar, candlestick, and shewbread for the house, so the two pillars were for the porch, and stood in it as the former stood in the court and the house. The Sept. give in 1 Kings 7:15 : καὶ ἐχώνευσε τοὺς δύο στύλους τῷ αἰλὰμ τοῦ οἵκου, and translate, 1 Kings 7:21 : καὶ ἔστησε τοὺς στύλους τοῦ αἰλὰμ τοῦ ναοῦ. With this 2 Chronicles 3:13; 2 Chronicles 3:17 fully agrees; it says he made לִפְנֵי הַבַּיִת two pillars, … and placed the pillars עַל־פְּנֵי הַהֵיבָל. For if they were in the porch, they must have stood immediately before the house, that is, before the principal compartment. But it says nowhere that he placed them before the porch. If the latter were thirty cubits high, as most think, the pillars could have stood free inside, as their monumental character required.

1 Kings 7:21-22. And called the name thereof, &c. Thenius justly remarks: “There can be nothing more improbable than that pillars standing at the entrance to God’s house should have been named after the donor, or their architect (Gesenius); and it is impossible to understand the assertion, ‘that they were no doubt named at their erection and dedication, after men much liked at that time, perhaps some of Solomon’s young sons’ (Ewald).” But Thenius’ own assertion does not seem less improbable; namely, that “the pillars, which apparently bore up the entire building of the temple (?) had the characters יָבִין בָּעֹז, i.e., He (the Lord) founds (or: may He found) with strength, engraved, or formed in the casting, and that the people read these words, which should be taken together (?), separately, and … gave them as names to the pillars.” Aside from every other consideration, it is not, he had inscribed יכין בעז on the two pillars; but: he called the name of the one at the right יכין, and called the name of the one at the left בעז; so these were two distinct “names,” and not a sentence of connected words. We have no reason to change בֹּעַז to יָכִין ;בָּעֹן means rather: statuit, fundavit, and is used about the founding and establishing of the kingdom, the throne, and the sanctuary (1 Kings 6:19; Ezra 3:3; 2 Samuel 7:12; 2 Chronicles 17:5). בֹּעַז is composed of עַן, strength, power, firmness (Genesis 49:3), and בוֹ, i.e., in Him, Jehovah. The name means exactly the same as in Isaiah 45:24, בַּיהוָֹה … עֹז, a thought often occurring in the Old Testament (Psalms 28:7-8; Psalms 46:2; Psalms 62:0 (7) 8; Psalms 86:6; Psalms 140:7; Isaiah 49:5; Jeremiah 16:19). The first name denotes the founding and establishing of the central sanctuary, in contrast with the tabernacle; the second denotes the firmness and stability of the same. Simonis (Onom., s. 430, 460): Stabiliet templum, in illo (Domino) robur.

1 Kings 7:23-26. And he made a molten sea, &c. Comp. 2 Chronicles 4:2-5. The name יָם only means the great quantity of water that the vessel contained. Latini ejusmodi vasa appellant lacus (Castel.). The 10 cubits denote the diameter, 30 the circumference, not certainly the mathematical proportion, but very near it, for we must reckon 9 cubits and rather more than half a cubit for the diameter, for 30 cubits of circumference. The 5 cubits are for the depth of the vessel, which was not cylindrical, as some old pictures represent, but, according to 1 Kings 7:26, was shaped like a lily, with an edge curved outwards, and widening out considerably lower down. It could only hold 2,000 baths of water (1 Kings 7:26) with a form like that, as Thenius (Stud. u. Kritiken, 1846, I.) has proved. Chronicles, on the contrary, gives 3,000 baths (2 Chronicles 4:5), but this is a confusion of the signs ב and ג (Keil); it is also a mistake of the pen when 1 Kings 7:3 gives פקרים instead of פקעים. The latter does not mean coloquinths, but flower-buds (see above, on 1 Kings 6:29). The two rows must have been pretty close together, under the edge of the vessel. The position of the 12 oxen is remarked especially, but nothing said of their size or height. Thenius thinks they must have been as high as the vessel at least; this would make the whole vessel 10 cubits high. It is impossible to say whether the feet of these oxen rested on the floor of the court, as on a brazen plate (Keil), or whether they stood in a basin. As the priests had only to wash their hands and feet, the vessel was provided (so the rabbinical traditions say) with faucets for letting out the water. It is very improbable that the water came from the mouths of the oxen, as many suppose.

1 Kings 7:27-39. And he made ten bases of, &c. The description of these vessels, 1 Kings 7:27-39, is involved in much more obscurity than that of the two brazen pillars. All the pains which the latest commentators have spent upon it have not cleared it up fully, because the text (under consideration) is no longer the original one; the old translations are widely different from it, and do not agree together. The insertions also which we have admitted into our translation, following now Thenius, and now Keil, do not claim to have solved the exegetical riddle. Above all, it is necessary to realize what the object of these vessels was. 2 Chronicles 4:6 says that the priests “washed such things as they offered for the burnt-offering,” i.e., those parts of the sacrificial animal which were placed on the altar to be burnt, as ordered in Leviticus 1:9 (comp. Ezekiel 40:38). Hence it appears that the basin which held the water for washing was the chief thing in that complicated vessel, and all the other parts only made for the sake of that one part. The altar of burnt-offering of the temple was 10 cubits high (2 Chronicles 4:1); a step for the priests to stand on, when performing their functions, was much more needed in this altar than in that of the tabernacle, which was only 3 cubits high (Exodus 27:1-5). Now, in order to perform the washing of the parts for sacrifice at the altar itself, without descending, the basins must, on the one hand, have stood high, and higher than the altar-step, and on the other, have been movable also, so that they could have easily been brought backwards and forwards, filled or emptied. So we see that a wheelwork was needed for the high basins or lavers. The basins, bases, and wheelwork were then the component parts of the vessel. The basins (lavers), being the simplest part, are the least explicitly described in 1 Kings 7:38. The word בִיּוֹר occurs oftenest, for the basins of the tabernacle (Exodus 30:18; Exodus 30:28; Exodus 31:9, &c.); these were not cylindrical, as is well known, but shaped more like a kettle; and nowhere else is a vessel described which has the form of a pot or jug. It appears from Zechariah 12:6, that a fire-basin (pan) was of a flatter shape than a kettle, and had at least the form of a cooking-pot, as Züllig thinks (die Cherubimwagen, s. 79, 94). The measure 4 cubits can only be understood, like 1 Kings 7:31, to apply to the diameter (Thenius), and not to the depth. Thenius reckons the 40 baths at 12 eimer and 16 kannen, Dresden measure. [Without a parade of decimals, in the rough as one may say, the Dresden kanne is about one quart (+). Seventy-two kannen are one eimer, i.e., seventy-two quarts. 72×12=864 quarts. To these must be added 16 quarts, and the whole amount is 880 quarts or 220 gallons. If however any one wishes to work out the sum, it may be well to add that 1 kanne = 0.937 liter, and 1 liter = 1.0567 quart (wine-measure).—E. H.] In respect of the second main part of the vessel, the baseמְכוֹנָח, so much is certain, that it was a four-cornered box, which consisted of strong, edge-bands on the top and on the bottom, along, the sides, as well as at the corners: into which the walls (or panels) were introduced, and were held by these edge-bands as in a frame. Figures were engraved on these walls (panels, מִסְגְּרוֹת): lions, oxen, and cherubim (according to Josephus, distributed in three different fields). The box had also 4 feetפְעָמוֹת (1 Kings 7:30), at the 4 corners, no doubt; with which it stood upon the axle-trees of the wheel work. It is very difficult to form an adequate and just view of the 4 undersetters,בְּתֵפֹת, which are named in 1 Kings 7:30 with the feet, and in 1 Kings 7:34 with the wheel work; they must have projected certainly from the feet, but it is uncertain in what manner they were connected with the box, and what they bore—whether indeed they bore anything. The box seems to have been open at the bottom, but it had an arched covering at the top (1 Kings 7:35) with a round ornament, a crown בֹתֶרֶת (1 Kings 7:31) on which the basin was placed. But the nature of the hands or holders יָדוֹת and their relation to the arched cover and the crown, is obscure. They must have been rather broad, as the figures were engraved upon them as well as on the cover (1 Kings 7:35-36). It is equally difficult to say where and how the borders mentioned in 1 Kings 7:29-30; 1 Kings 7:36, ליוֹת, were put on. According to 1 Kings 7:29 they were מַעֲשֵׂה מוֹרָד, by which Thenius, appealing to the מִקְלָעוֹת in 1 Kings 7:31, and וַיְפַתַּח in 1 Kings 7:36, understands “work of cutting in, i.e., sunken work;” but if the text meant this, why did it not make use of the identical expressions? The specific word must denote something specific; it remains only to take the usual translation, “hanging work” (Vulgate: dependentia), “which certainly does not mean festoons hanging free, and waving in the air” (Keil); מוֹרָד means a declivity (hanging) in a local sense (comp. Joshua 7:5; Joshua 10:11; Jeremiah 48:5). According to 1 Kings 7:29 the borders were on the edge-frames above as well as under the carved work upon the side walls of the box or chest, for בֵּן cannot be here, as Keil has it, a substantive, “and upon the ledges there was a base above,” but only an adverb (De Wette, Thenius, and others), as in 1 Kings 7:18. But we cannot with certainty ascertain the meaning of “at the side of every addition” (wreath) at the end of 1 Kings 7:30. [Bp. Horsley, “at the side of every addition.” Rather “each over-against a compound figure.” The shoulder-pieces (instead of “undersetters”) went just so far down within the base as to be on a level with the compound figures on the outside.”—E. H.] The “additions (wreaths) round about” in 1 Kings 7:36 are the same as mentioned in 1 Kings 7:29. The third main part, i.e., the wheels, differed so far from wheels of ordinary vehicles that their axle-trees were not immediately under the box or chest, but under its feet, so that the edges moved completely under the box, and the carved work on its sides was not hid by the wheels (1 Kings 7:32). But it is impossible to determine the relation of the hands or holders of the wheels to the feet of the box and to the shoulder-pieces (1 Kings 7:30). The description of the wheels begun in 1 Kings 7:30 is continued in 1 Kings 7:32-34; but 1 Kings 7:31 treats of the upper part of the box, which is further described in 1 Kings 7:35-36; strictly speaking, therefore, 1 Kings 7:31 should stand immediately before 1 Kings 7:35-36, or else 1 Kings 7:31; 1 Kings 7:35-36 immediately before 1 Kings 7:30. Fortunately the whole of the difficult section from 1 Kings 7:27-39 does not treat of a main integral part of the temple, and not even of one of the principal vessels, but only of one that is subordinate and secondary. Its description, therefore, obscure as it is, may be regarded as sufficient, at least as far as concerns its purpose. The best drawings that have been made of this vessel are those of Thenius (Commentar, taf. III., fig. 4), and Keil (Archüologie, I., taf. 2, fig. 4); and the most defective of all, whether ancient or modern, that of Unruh (das Alte Jerusalem, Fig. 11).

1 Kings 7:40-47. And Hiram made the lavers, &c. 1 Kings 7:40. The first part of this verse forms a kind of independent section, for the lavers, shovels, and basins did not belong to the bases, but were, like the latter, utensils of the altar of burnt-offering. The lavers were for carrying away water, &c., the shovels for removing the ashes, the basins for catching the blood that spouted from the sacrifice (Exodus 27:3; Numbers 4:14). It is remarkable that the text never names the chief vessel of all, the altar of burnt-offering; for it was made anew at the same time (2 Chronicles 4:1), and upon a larger scale. Perhaps it was not made by Hiram, who only executed the more artistic brass-castings, among which this altar could not be reckoned. The words, and so Hiram made an end of doing all the work, &c., begin the general list of all the vessels Hiram had made, the brass, from 1 Kings 7:40-47, and the golden, from 1 Kings 7:48-51. The former were all of bright brass (מְמֹרָט), i.e., it was polished after the casting, so that it shone like gold (see above, on 1 Kings 7:13), but it was no actual aurichalcum (Vulgate); Josephus says, χαλκὸς τὴν αὐγὴν ὅμοιος χρυσῷ καὶ τὸ κάλλος. The region between Succoth and Zarthan is mentioned as the place where the brass works were cast in the clay, i.e., in moulds of potters’ earth. Succoth (Judges 8:5; Joshua 13:27) lay beyond Jordan, not on the south side of Jabbok (Keil), but rather northwards, for it could not possibly have been very far from Zarthan, which 1 Kings 4:12 places near Bethshean, on this side Jordan. Consequently the foundry must have been on this side too; Burkhardt says (Reise, II. s. 593) that the “soil is all marl, and the further shore has no hollows whatever.” Comparison of both places shows that they lay diagonally opposite, and there was no larger ground suitable for the brass foundry in this side of the valley above (or below) Zarthan (Keil). The quantity of brass was so great (comp. 1 Chronicles 18:8), that it was not necessary to weigh it out carefully for each distinct vessel; and the weight of each cannot therefore be ascertained. וַיַּנַּח, 1 Kings 7:47, does not mean: he laid them down, but he let them lie, i.e., he did not weigh them, as the following verses show.

1 Kings 7:48-51. And Solomon made all thevessels … of gold. We are not to conclude from the subject, “Solomon,” that Hiram made only the brazen vessels (Thenius). As Hiram also knew how to work in gold (2 Chronicles 2:13), it is far more likely that Solomon intrusted him also with the goldsmith’s work. The golden vessels are evidently only named, and not described, because they were made like those of the tabernacle (comp. Exodus 30:1 sq.; Exodus 25:23-40), only upon a larger scale. The addition in 2 Chronicles 4:8 : “he made also ten tables, and placed them in the temple, five on the right side and five on the left,” is declared to be an error by modern interpreters; but we might just as reasonably strike out the account of the altar of burnt-offering, which is not given in our text. The account is so definite that it cannot be a pure invention; besides, soon after, in 1 Kings 7:19, the plural הַשֻּׁלְחַנֹות occurs, and it is said also in 1 Chronicles 28:16 : “And (David gave to Solomon) by weight … gold for the tables of shewbread, for every table.” Now when 2 Chronicles 29:18 mentions but one table, this is no contradiction (Thenius); for it says in 2 Chronicles 13:11 : “and we burn, i.e., light, the golden candlestick every evening;” and yet, according to our text, there were 10 candlesticks. One asks, Why 10 tables? but we, on the other hand, ask, “Why 10 candlesticks, if only one were lighted? There is no ground for the opinion that the rest of the tables served for the purpose of resting the candlesticks upon them; for then there must have been 11 of them, and instead of being called tables of shewbread (1 Chronicles 28:16) they must have been called tables of the candlesticks.—Which David had dedicated (1 Kings 7:51). According to 2 Samuel 8:7-12; 1 Chronicles 18:7-11, David had taken a quantity of brass, silver, and gold from the conquered Syrians, Moabites, Ammonites, Philistines, and Amalekites, which treasures he dedicated to sacred purposes. 1 Chronicles 22:14; 1 Chronicles 22:16 also alludes to the great store of these metals. Immense as was the quantity of brass and gold needed for the temple, the supply was not exhausted. The rest consisted partly of unwrought gold and silver, partly of vessels, and was preserved in the sanctuary itself. Probably some of the side-chambers served as a treasury.35

Historical and Ethical

1. The king’s house was the second large building that Solomon undertook. “After the completion of the sacred building … he began the building of an house which should shed lustre on the second power in Israel, the kingdom which was then approaching its culminating point” (Ewald). 1 Kings 9:1; 1 Kings 9:10 accords with our passage, in placing the two buildings near together. The section from 1 Kings 7:1-12 is therefore no addition, interrupting the description of the temple-building, but is purposely assigned that place; and the description of the vessels, 1 Kings 7:14-50, is a sequel to that of the temple, and forms the transition to chap. 8. To Israel the monarchy had become a necessary institution, and stood so little in opposition to divine rule, that it rather served to sustain the latter; the king not being an absolute sovereign, and, as in other Eastern states, God’s vicegerent, but a servant of Jehovah, who had to execute His orders and to maintain the law (= covenant). Like the theocracy, the monarchy also had reached its highest point through David; and Solomon represents this culminating point. When, therefore, a spacious, splendid house was built for an abiding dwelling-place, a sign and monument of Jehovah’s might and truth, instead of the tabernacle hitherto used, it was fitting that it should be a house corresponding with the greatness and prosperity of the kingdom. Therefore the building, which was a token and pledge of the theocracy, was followed by one which represented the kingdom; and both stood, according to their signification, on two opposite neighboring hills. [We must repeat our doubts of the author’s topography here. See above, Exeget. on 1 Kings 7:1.—F. H.]

2. The plan and arrangement of the king’s house quite accord with the conception Israel had of the calling of the monarchy. When the people desired a king, they said to Samuel, “that our king may judge us, and fight our battles” (1 Samuel 8:20). The first or foremost of the three buildings which together formed the royal palace, namely the armory, set forth the mission of the king against his enemies; and it represented his protecting war-strength; the next building, the porch of pillars and the porch of the throne, or of judgment, signified the vocation of the king in respect of his subjects, viz., judging and ruling (see above on 1 Kings 3:9; 1 Samuel 8:5-6; 2 Samuel 15:4); it represented the royal elevation and majesty; lastly, the third and innermost building was the real dwelling-house, where the king lived with his consort; a private house which he had an equal right with any of his subjects to possess. The plan of the palace thus was very simple, and follows so clearly from the nature of the relations, that we need not seek for the model of it anywhere. Least of all should we be likely to find such in Egypt, although Thenius does not doubt that “Solomon built the royal residence after Egyptian models,” and then refers us to the palaces at Medinat-Abu, Luxor, and Carnac. Just the main feature in the one we have been considering, i.e., the three parts forming a completely united whole, is wanting in these Egyptian buildings, which besides were entirely of stone, and consequently quite differently constructed. Where is there anything in Egypt that in the least approximates to the house of the forest of Lebanon, with its numerous wooden pillars and galleries? Solomon’s palace, as well as the temple, belonged entirely to the architecture of anterior Asia, but the fundamental idea upon which its plan and interior arrangement rested, was essentially and specifically Israelitish.

3. The calling of Hiram from Tyre to finish all the temple-vessels, was occasioned by the want of distinguished artists in Israel (see above on chap. 5 No. 3). As Hiram’s mother was an Israelite, which is expressly mentioned, we may well suppose that he was not unacquainted with the God whom his mother worshipped, and therefore was better able than all other Tyrian artists to enter into the right spirit and meaning of the works which Solomon intrusted to him. But besides this, the sending for Hiram is important, inasmuch as it shows that Solomon desired to have real works of art, and that he so little despised art as the handmaid of religion, that he even sent for a heathen and foreign artisan. In his “wisdom” he regarded the command, Thou shalt not make to thyself any graven image, not as the prohibition of every species of religious sculpture. In this respect he rises far above the Pharisaism of Josephus, who accounts the images of the oxen supporting the molten sea, and the lions near his throne, as much breaches of the law as the peopling of his harem with foreign women (Joseph., Antiq. 8, 7, 5). Modern spiritualism, which rejects all plastic art in the service of the church, by an appeal to a false interpretation of our Lord’s words in John 4:24, is a lapse into the narrow-minded Jewish Pharisaism.

[The service of art in the Christian Church, and its employment by Christians in behalf of the interests of religion, is always recognized except in periods of intense reforming life, when an iconoclastic spirit is apt to develop itself. The men who “denuded” the churches in the sixteenth and in the seventeenth centuries, regarded “ornaments” as snares to the conscience, and as the foster-nurses of superstitions. The principle laid down and developed by Neander is the true one, viz., that the design of the Christian religion, which is to promote holiness of life, should be kept constantly in view; and that the beautiful should be observed and employed subordinately to this design. When the beautiful becomes, or tends to become, supreme in worship and in Christian art, then it becomes unlawful.
Solomon, in the luxuriance of his nature, undoubtedly was exceptional in his taste for ornament; and, in this respect, he did not represent the genius either of Judaism or of the Hebrew race. And the tradition as being against him, was true to the instincts of the race.—E. H.]
4. The well-defined difference of the materials of the vessels used in Solomon’s temple next strikes us. Those made for the interior of the building were all of gold; all those outside of it, of brass. The design of this is apparent. Gold (see Historical, &c., on chap. 6 No. 5), by virtue of its surpassing splendor, is the celestial metal, and was therefore fitted for the typical heavenly dwelling, where all is gold. Brass (see Exeget. and Crit. remarks on 1 Kings 7:13) most resembles gold in color and brilliancy, but stands in the same relation to it that iron does to silver (Isaiah 60:17); it approaches nearest to gold, and is fitted, not indeed for the building itself, but for its approaches, the porch and the outer court. There were, then, no new vessels unknown in the tabernacle; but the two pillars, Jachin and Boaz, were new. There was the old ark of the covenant in the holy of holies (chap, 1 Kings 8:3), the altar, candlestick, and table in the holy place, the altar of burnt-offering (brazen altar) in the outer court (2 Chronicles 4:1); the molten sea instead of the laver (Exodus 30:18), and the lavers instead of the basins, which it is to be presupposed from Leviticus 1:13 were used. The increased size of some of these vessels, such as the altar of burnt-offering and the brazen sea, as well as the multiplication of others, such as the candlestick, the table, and the “bases,” was called for in part by the increased size of the sanctuary, and the relation of the house (palace) to the tent, and in part by the extension of the central-cultus.

5. The two pillars Jachin and Boaz were no more an innovation than the erection of a house instead of a tent; they owed their existence to the conditions that distinguished a new period of the theocracy. This we learn from their suggestive names. Jachin refers to the fact that Jehovah’s dwelling-place, hitherto movable and moving, was now firmly fixed in the midst of His people; Boaz tells of the power, strength, and durability of the house. Both were monuments of Jehovah’s covenant with His people, monuments of the saving might, grace, and faithfulness of the God of Israel, who at last crowned the deliverance from Egypt, by dwelling and reigning ever in a sure house in the midst of His people. It stands to reason that such pillars could not have been placed before the tent; they could only stand before the house, where they belonged to the porch, for it was the latter that gave to the dwelling-place the appearance of a house and a palace, in distinction from that of a tent. They were formed in accordance with their signification, being not of wood, not slender and slight, but of brass, thick and strong, which gave the impression of firmness and durability. The crown (capital), which is the principal characteristic of every pillar, consisted mainly, as did the brazen sea, of an open lily-cup. The Hebrew named the lily simply “the white,” (שׁוּשַׁן from שׁוּשׁ, to be white;) it is, therefore, a natural symbol of purity and of holiness to him.

The priests, as the “holy ones” (Ex. 3:27 sq.), were dressed in white (Numbers 16:7), and the high-priest, the holiest of the holy, wore, on the great day of atonement, white garments, instead of his usual many-colored ones; and these white robes were called “holy garments” (Leviticus 16:4; Leviticus 16:32). Inasmuch as “holiness” was the characteristic and fundamental idea of the Israelitish religion, the “white,” i.e., the lily, seems to have been their religious flower, as the lotus was the well-known sacred flower of the Indian and Egyptian religions. Besides this, the lily is nowhere more indigenous than in Palestine (Matthew 6:28; Winer, R.- W.-B., ii. s. 28), and it may therefore be named the flower of the promised land, as the palm was its tree (see above, Histor. and Ethical, in chap. 6 No. 6, b). If the capitals of the pillars were thus always and everywhere decorated with carvings of flowers, no more characteristic and suitable one could be chosen for the capitals before the “holy temple” (Psalms 5:7; Psalms 79:1; Psalms 138:2) than the lily. The pomegranates on the capital, and which were also on the high-priest’s robe, are no less characteristic (Exodus 28:33 sq.). As the apple is the figure generally of the word (Proverbs 25:11), so the pomegranate, the noblest and finest of all apples, is the symbol of the noblest, most precious word, that of Jehovah, which is essentially law (= covenant). Just as this law is a complex unity, consisting of a number of single commands, that delight the heart and are sweeter than honey (Psalms 19:9; Psalms 19:11), so the pomegranate encloses a number of precious, delicious, and refreshing seeds. The Chaldee paraphrast renders the words (Ecclesiastes 4:13, thus: “Thy youths are filled with (divine) laws, like pomegranates,” and 1Kings 1 Kings 6:11 : “if they are full of good works (i.e., of the law) like pomegranates.” The Gemara also uses the expression: ”Full of the commandments (of God) as a pomegranate” (comp. Symbol des Mos. Kult., ii. s. 122 sq.). Now the union of this symbol with the lily is very natural, for the law was the revealed sacred will of Jehovah, and the covenant, which was identical with it, was a covenant of holiness. The symbol, therefore, bore the seal of the same number as the law and covenant, i.e., ten. Each row of pomegranates consisted of ten times ten; they were adjusted to the different quarters of the heavens, exactly as the typical heavenly dwelling was, the kernel and centre of the same being the law laid up in the ark. The nets, or net-work, connected with the significant symbols of the lily and pomegranate, cannot be viewed as mere ornaments, used only “for graceful and suitable fastenings of the pomegranates” (Thenius). The number seven engraved on them (the symbolical number of the covenant-relation and of sanctification) (Symb. des Mos. Kult., i. s. 193) shows the contrary. But their signification cannot be exactly known, through utter want of analogous objects to judge from. The later critics have declared these pillars to have been only imitations of heathen symbols, but this is a very uncritical and superficial view. It borders on the ridiculous to look on them as phallus-figures, or to compare them with the phallus 180 feet high in the temple of the Syrian goddess at Hierapolis (Lucian., de dea Syr., 28 sq.). It is also quite wrong to compare them with the two columns of the Phœnician Herakles, or Saturn, who bears up or sustains the world, like Jehovah, and yet lives and moves eternally (Movers, Rel. der Phöniz., s. 292 sq.); for these pillars were, the one of gold and the other of emerald (Herodot., 2, 44); they were but an ell high, were square, anvil-shaped, and stood, like all idols, in the interior of the temple. It is not less astonishing to find these almost disproportionately thick, brazen pillars, taken for an imitation of the Egyptian stone obelisks (Stieglitz, Gesch. der Baukunst, s. 136), and to hear it asserted that “they originally represented, as needles (!) the power and force of the sun’s rays.” (Br. Bauer, Reliq. des A. T., ii. s. 92.) Why should the religion of Israel alone absolutely have had no peculiar symbols, but have borrowed all from the natural religions that stood so far beneath it?

6. The molten sea wasfor the priests to wash in” (2 Chronicles 4:6), i.e., “their hands and feet, when they went into the sanctuary or went up to the altar also, to offer incense before Jehovah” (Exodus 30:19 sq.), in fact before any of their priestly functions. It was, therefore, peculiarly the priests’ vessel. Its form, that of an open lilycup, corresponded to its purpose. If all budding and blossoming signified holiness and priesthood (Numbers 16:7, comp. with 1Ki 17:20; 1 Kings 17:23; Psalms 92:14), the flower named the “white,” i.e., the lily, must have been pre-eminently the priestly one. The forehead-plate of the high-priest, his insignia of office, was named צִיץ, flower, and the head-covering of the ordinary priests מִגְבָּעָה, cognate with גְבִיעַ flower-cup (Exodus 28:36; Exodus 28:40). The form of the lily-cup showed every one that the vessel was a priestly vessel.; the flower-buds also that adorned the edge like a wreath, showed the same. The measure of the sea was according to the number dominant throughout the whole sanctuary, i.e. the number ten (see above, Histor. and Ethic, on chap. 6 No. iv, b); it was ten cubits broad, five deep, and there were ten flower-buds to every cubit of the wreath. The molten sea, as a priest’s vessel, stood beside, on twelve young oxen. The ox בָּקָר is not only the chief animal for sacrifice, but was the sacrificial animal of the priests, in distinction from that of all who were not priests. The law ordered a young ox to be the sacrifice for the high-priest and his house, and for the whole priesthood (comp. Leviticus 4:3 sq. with 1 Kings 7:23; 1 Kings 7:27; 1 Kings 7:32; 1 Kings 16:11, with 1 Kings 7:15; Exodus 29:10 sq.; Numbers 8:8); it was specially the priests’ animal. The twelve oxen, therefore, stood in the same relation to the molten sea, as the twelve lions to the king’s throne (1 Kings 10:20), the lions being the royal animal. It is plain that the number twelve was not chosen merely for the sake of “symmetry” (Thenius), but had reference, like the twelve loaves on the table of shewbread, to the twelve tribes of Israel, and is moreover confirmed by the fact that they were placed just like the twelve tribes in camp, viz., three each to a quarter of the heavens (Numbers 2:2-31). The twelve beasts, then, were the symbol of the whole nation, not in its general, but in the peculiar characteristic imparted to it when it was chosen from all nations, as “a kingdom of priests, a holy nation” (Exodus 19:6). As Israel stood in relation to all peoples as a priestly nation, so one tribe stood as the priest-tribe in relation to the whole nation; the special priesthood of the tribe rested upon the universal priesthood of the nation, and was, as it were, borne by it. The whole carved-work of the molten sea was rooted finally in this great idea. Here, also, instead of explaining Israelitish symbols by Israelitish ideas, just as with the brazen pillars, the effort has been made to look around for heathen models, and such an one has been found in the egg-shaped stone giant-vessel of thirty feet in circumference, having four handles, and ornamented with an ox, which stood at Amathus in Cyprus; it is also asserted that the twelve oxen were symbols of Time and the twelve months (Vatke, Bibl. Theol., s. 324, 1Kings 336: Winer, R.-W.-B., ii. s. 68, n). We need scarcely say that that vessel belonged completely to nature-religion; the material (stone), the shape (that of an egg), the four handles (elements), the bull (generation); everything, in fact, denotes the fundamental dogmas of nature-religion; nothing but the blindest prejudice and utter want of critical capacity could discover—where the difference in outward form as well as in significance is so great—a likeness with the brazen sea, the purpose of which the biblical account itself states so clearly and definitely.

7. The ten lavers on the movable bases were united to the brazen sea (2 Chronicles 4:6), for as the latter served for the purification of the priests at their functions, so the former were for the washing of the sacrifices brought to the altar for burning. They were, therefore, only placed there for sacrificial service, the chief vessel of which was the altar of burnt-offering, and they stood in an inseparable though subordinate relation to it. As they were not independent, then, we need not seek any further signification for them, more than for the other lesser vessels, the pots, shovels, bowls. But if they were only useful articles, why does the text dwell so much at length on them, and describe them so exactly and carefully, while it never once mentions the chief one, the altar itself? The altar of sacrifice seems to have been originally of earth, of unhewn stones (Exodus 20:24 sq.); it had, therefore, only one covering, which gave it a definite shape, in the tabernacle as well as in the temple (Exodus 27:1-8). Solomon neither could nor would alter anything in respect of this law-appointed and significant simplicity; however, in order indirectly to impress upon this chief article of use the character of the glorious house of Jehovah, he made the vessels inseparably connected with it, and forming with it one whole, the more splendid and artistic, and decorated them with all the emblems which were the significant temple-insignia: cherubim, palms, and flowers. He did not adorn them on their own account, therefore, but rather for the sake of the altar, which they were to beautify. All these figures belonged properly to the interior of the sanctuary (see above, Histor. and Ethic. on chap. 6 No. 6), and they were placed here, on the vessels of the altar of sacrifice, to point to the interior of the sanctuary, and signified the intimate relation in which the outer court, and especially the altar for sacrifice, stood to it. When lions and oxen are particularly mentioned as next the cherubims, these are not to be understood as new figures, but only as single component parts of the cherub; as in Revelation 4:6-7, where all four are presented apart from each other. One may look in vain for a heathen parallel to these bases and lavers. “The whole arrangement, so full of meaning, appears quite peculiar to the Israelitish temple, for nothing of the kind is found anywhere else, either on Egyptian or Assyrian monuments” (Thenius).

Homiletical and Practical

1 Kings 7:1-12. Solomon first builds the house of the Lord, then begins to build his own house. We must first render to God what is of God, and when this has been truly done, then to Cæsar what is Cæsar’s (Matthew 22:21). He who strives first after the kingdom of God, will likewise succeed in what he undertakes for his personal and temporal welfare (Matthew 6:33).—The building of the house for the king followed immediately upon the building of the temple; they belong together. Altar and throne stand and fall together, even as we have the two commandments: Fear God, honor the king (1 Peter 2:17; Proverbs 24:21). In the kingdom where religion and Christianity are cherished and highly honored, there royalty is most secure; a God-fearing people is the best, nay, the only support of the throne.—Kings and princes cannot, on account of their high position, choose to live in ordinary houses, or yet in poor hovels; it is simply folly to reproach them when they build castles for themselves. The building of palaces then becomes sinful and blamable only when they are built for the gratification of ostentation and insolence, or at the expense of a poor and oppressed people.—Before his dwelling-house Solomon placed the courts of the throne and of justice, and before these the armory, for it is the high and noble privilege of royalty to administer judgment and justice within the kingdom to all the nation (1 Chronicles 18:14; Psalms 89:14), and from without, to protect it by force of arms from all its enemies. [Accommodate and apply these remarks to the State, or nation, the body politic—to its public buildings and the rest, as well as to the reverence for law needed upon the part of the people, and they will be found useful for our American people to consider.—E. H.]

1 Kings 7:13-14. A wise prince, in the furtherance of his enterprises which aim at the honor of God, and the good of the nation, looks around for the best instruments, and in order to obtain them, seeks them wherever he can find them; for Proverbs 26:10.—He who has learned anything thoroughly, and brought it to perfection in its especial province, must be sought out and held in esteem, whatsoever be his position or country.—Art is one of the noblest and best gifts which God has bestowed upon man; therefore, above all, it should be applied to the glorification of God, and not merely to the satisfaction and pleasure of the world. To scorn and reject art, in the service of the Church, is to reject Him who has given it.

1 Kings 7:15 sq. As in the typical temple the implements were not all the same, but of very varied kinds, each one of which, gold and brass, primary and secondary or auxiliary, had its peculiar place and purpose, so it is also in the true and real temple of God, in the Church of the Lord (2 Timothy 2:20). Thus, varied as are the gifts, the calling, and the position of each individual in it, so each one must regard himself as an instrument of the Lord, remaining in that calling wherein he is called, and serving all the others with the gift which he has received (1 Peter 4:10; 1 Corinthians 12:28-31).—What signification have the holy vessels of the temple for the Church of the Lord, which is the true temple of God (Ephesians 2:20 sq.)? (1) The pillars, Jachin and Boaz, in the porch, are, as it were, the superscription over the temple, and declare its strong foundation and its permanence; the Lord declares both to His Church: Upon this rock will I build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it (Matthew 16:18). Great, noble promise! (2) The brazen sea and the vases in the porch are there, that the priests may purify themselves, and the sacrifices which they bring there. The Church of the Lord is that holy priesthood which offers spiritual sacrifices, &c. (1 Peter 2:5). Those who wish to perform such service the prophet summons: Wash ye, &c. (Isaiah 1:16), and the apostle: I beseech you, &c. (Romans 12:1). (3) The altar, the candlesticks, and the table stand in the building itself, which is a type of heaven, and show that for them who offer themselves pure and holy sacrifices, a divine light and life are prepared before the throne of God, and no other sacrifice is rendered except the incense of prayer, of praise, and worship of God (Psalms 16:11; Revelation 5:8-14).


1 Kings 7:1; 1 Kings 7:1.—[The twelve verses at the beginning are transferred to the end of this chapter in the Sept.

1 Kings 7:2; 1 Kings 7:2.—[The Sept. read three rows; the Arab. in 1 Kings 7:3, sixty pillars.

1 Kings 7:3; 1 Kings 7:3.—[So the author translates צְלָעֹת, and so also Keil. This translation is undoubtedly correct; but the VV. are in much confusion over these architectural details.

1 Kings 7:4; 1 Kings 7:4.—[So the author correctly translates שְׁקֻפִים supported by the Sept., and adds in parenthesis] i.e., over each of the three rows of chambers roof-beams were laid.

1 Kings 7:4; 1 Kings 7:4.—I.e., so that the chambers stood over against one another, vis-à-vis.—Bähr. [The Heb. word מֶחֱזָה occurs only here, and is of very doubtful signification. None of the old versions give the meaning window, nor can that sense be derived with any certainty from the etymology-root חָזָה. Our author concurs with Keil in giving the meaning as aspectus or prospectus, “view to or from” (Keil). The English expression “front to front” conveys the idea.

1 Kings 7:5; 1 Kings 7:5.—Viz., of the chambers.—Bähr.

1 Kings 7:6; 1 Kings 7:6.—[So our author translates, Schwelle, following the Chald. סְקוֹפָתָא.

1 Kings 7:7; 1 Kings 7:7.—[מֵהַקַּרְקַע עַד־הַקַּרְקַע. This expression has much puzzled expositors. Notwithstanding the explanations of the author and of Keil, the best sense seems to be the simplest and most literal, from the floor to the floor, i.e., from the floor on one side all over the walls, ceiling, and opposite walls, to the floor on the other side.

1 Kings 7:9; 1 Kings 7:9.—[So the author and Keil, sustained by all the VV.

1 Kings 7:15; 1 Kings 7:15.—[Lit. the height of one pillar, … compass the other. The A. V. expresses the sense. 2 Chronicles 3:15 gives the height as 35 cubits—a manifest error. Cf. 2 Kings 25:17; Jeremiah 52:21.

1 Kings 7:16; 1 Kings 7:16.—[There is here no Var. lect., so that the height given in 2 Kings 25:17—three cubits—must have been an error of transcription, as indeed sufficiently appears from Jeremiah 52:22.

1 Kings 7:17; 1 Kings 7:17.—[The Sept have τῷ ἐπιθέματι, doubtless from reading שִׂבָכָה instead of שִׁבְעָה.

1 Kings 7:18; 1 Kings 7:18.—Instead of הָעַמּוּדִים [pillars], must be read הָרִמּוֹנִים [pomegranates] here, just as afterwards הָרִמּוֹנִים is transposed for הָעַמּוּדִים, as also some MSS. have it, and as the connection absolutely demands.—Bähr. [So also the Sept., while the Chald. and Syr. follow the text as we now have it.

1 Kings 7:20; 1 Kings 7:20.—[The words in italics in the A. V. are unnecessary. Our author translates thus:] And the chapiters upon the two pillars were also above, close (i.e., immediately) on the belly (belly-like swelling) which was beyond (i.e., behind) the net-work, and the two hundred pomegranates in two rows round about (as on the one so) on the second chapiter.—Bähr.

1 Kings 7:24; 1 Kings 7:24.—[פְקָעִים here (as in 1 Kings 6:18), is an architectural ornament in the form of the wild gourd, which bursts open on ripening. 2 Chronicles 4:3 has דְמוּת בְקָרִים, the likeness of cattle. This is evidently an error.

1 Kings 7:26; 1 Kings 7:26.—[Our author translates: in the form of a lily-flower. The Heb. is open to either interpretation, and the reasons for preferring this are given in the Exeg. Com.

1 Kings 7:26; 1 Kings 7:26.—[2 Chronicles 4:5 has שְׁלשֶׁת אֲלָפִים, thus adding one-half to the contents, and this number is adopted by Josephus. The VV. retain here the number 2000, but the Alex. Sept. (the Vat. Sept. omits the verse) makes them 2000 χοεῖς, thus giving a capacity as much too small for a hemisphere of the given dimensions as the Heb. measure is too large.

1 Kings 7:27; 1 Kings 7:27.—[The Sept. make the length five, and the height six cubits; thus making all the dimensions unlike.

1 Kings 7:28; 1 Kings 7:28.—[The Heb. מִסְגְּרוֹת from סָגַר to enclose, admits either this sense or that of the A. V., but both the connection and the amount of ornament upon the panels require the former.

1 Kings 7:20; 1 Kings 7:20.—[Our author translates “and upon the ledges as well above as below,” which certainly gives an intelligible sense, but it is at least doubtful if the Heb. will bear it, and certainly it is entirely forbidden by the masoretic punctuation, וְעַל־הַשְּׁלַבִּים כֵּן מִמָּעַ֑ל וּמִתַּחַת וגו״. The Chald, renders כֵּן as a noun כַּנְתָא, a base. Our author rejects this, which is however adopted by Keil, and has been followed by the A. V. Above the ledges was a base or rest for the laver described afterwards.

1 Kings 7:29; 1 Kings 7:29.—[לֹיוֹת מַֽעֲשֵׂה מוֹרַד. The author’s translation, given in the brackets, unquestionably expresses the true sense.

1 Kings 7:31; 1 Kings 7:31.—[I.e., of the laver; or as our author interprets, of the base.

1 Kings 7:31; 1 Kings 7:31.—[I.e., was a cubit within the edge—there was a cubit on each side of the opening of the basin. The author expresses it:] from the opening outwards was a cubit.

1 Kings 7:31; 1 Kings 7:31.—In diameter.

1 Kings 7:32; 1 Kings 7:32.—So that the whole base could be seen, and nothing of its panels was covered by the wheels.

1 Kings 7:35; 1 Kings 7:35.—I.e., the cover of the base was arched.

1 Kings 7:35; 1 Kings 7:35.—I.e., of this arched upper part.

1 Kings 7:38; 1 Kings 7:38.—In diameter at the top.

1 Kings 7:40; 1 Kings 7:40.—Instead of הַכִֹּיּרוֹת [lavers] it is necessary to read here הַסּירות [pots] according to 1 Kings 7:45; 2Ch 4:11; 2 Kings 25:14; Jeremiah 52:18.—Bähr. [Add, such is the reading also of many MSS. and editions, and apparently of the Sept. and Vulg., although כִּיּוֹר sometimes bears so nearly the same meaning (1 Samuel 2:14) that the inference is not certain.

1 Kings 7:40; 1 Kings 7:40.—[Many MSS. have הַמֶּלֶךְ in the nom. So also the Syr. and Arab.

1 Kings 7:42; 1 Kings 7:42.—Upon the two pillars. Instead of פְּנֵי is here to be read with the Sept. שְׁנֵי.—Bähr. [But many MSS. with the Syr. and Vulg. read here עַל־רֹאשׁ upon the top of, and there is no MS. authority for the Sept. reading.

1 Kings 7:45; 1 Kings 7:45.—That the k’ri הָאֵלֶּה deserves the preference over the k’tib הָאֵהֶּל requires no proof.—Bähr. [It is also the reading of many MSS. and the VV.

1 Kings 7:45; 1 Kings 7:45.—[The Sept., before “burnished brass,” inserts καὶ οἱ στῦλοι τεσσαράκοντα καὶ ὀκτὼ τοῦ οἴκου τοῦ βασιλέως καὶ τοῦ οἲκου κυρίου.—F. G.]

[34]If we should follow K. O. Müller’s phraseology and that of other writers upon ancient art, we should use the word “columns” here instead of “pillars.” Archœology, &c., p. 265–268.—E. H.

[35]If the reader wish to investigate this subject any further, he can find some strange fancies, and occasionally good guesses, in Mr. T. O. Paine’s Solomon’s Temple, &c., Boston, 1861, on chap. 7

Bibliographical Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on 1 Kings 7". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lcc/1-kings-7.html. 1857-84.
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