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CRITICAL NOTES.] In two chapters is narrated the building of the temple, which correspond with 1 Kings 6:0,
7. Here greater fulness of description, and more precise introduction and different arrangement of things described.
2 Chronicles 3:1-2.—Place and time of building. Moriah (Genesis 22:2), from which was named the land of Moriah—“land of the appearing of the Lord.” Appeared, “which was shown to David,” as future site (1 Chronicles 21:15). Prepared, fixed (1 Chronicles 22:5). O nan, see 2 Samuel 24:18; 1 Chronicles 21:18. 2 Chronicles 3:2. Second day not in original. Translation should be “He began to build in the second month in the fourth year of his reign” [Speak. Com.], about 1012 B.C.
2 Chronicles 3:3-7.—The holy house and porch. These measures afterwards given. Instructed, founded (marg.), and translation should be, “Now this is the ground-plan of Solomon for the building of the house of God.’ Cubits, i.e., cubits after the old Mosaic standard. Threescore, only length and width given here, not height, as 1 Kings 6:2. 2 Chronicles 3:4. Porch, in length as breadth of the house. Height a difficulty. Speak. Com. proposes to read 20 for 120. Overlaid (1 Kings 6:22). 2 Chronicles 3:5. Greater house, i.e., the holy place or chief room of the house, double in area the holy of holies. Ceiled. The walls were lined with cedar, and the floor with fir, the ceiling only to be covered with fir and overlaid with gold (1 Kings 6:15). Palm, for ornaments (1 Kings 6:29). Chains, probably garlands or festoons. 2 Chronicles 3:6. Garnished, covered, or “paved the house with precious and beautiful marble” [Kitto]. Stones, gems for “its beautification” (cf. 1 Chronicles 29:2). Parraim, not found elsewhere, generally taken for a place, but uncertain what place. 2 Chronicles 3:7. House, the holy place still spoken of, the whole of whose beams, posts, &c., had the same decorations.
2 Chronicles 3:8-14.—The most holy house, i.e., sanctuary or holy of holies. For its dimensions, see 1 Kings 6:20. Six hundred talents, an addition to narrative in Kings. 2 Chronicles 3:9. Nails, to fasten the gold plate on the wooden lining of the walls. Upper chambers, given 1 Chronicles 28:11; their position uncertain. 2 Chronicles 3:10. Cherubims (cf. image), moveable work; sculptured work. Original word only found here. 2 Chronicles 3:11-13. Their position described. They stood on floor, occupying each a space ten cubits in height and in width (1 Kings 6:23). Wings touched each other over the ark, and stretched across from wall to wall. Faces not looking at each other, like the cherubs of Moses (Exodus 37:9), but looking outward from the most holy to the holy place. 2 Chronicles 3:14. Vail, an important addition to Kings. Blue, exactly the same colours as that of tabernacle (Exodus 26:31).
2 Chronicles 3:15-17.—The pillars and their ornaments. High (marg.). Long refers to distance of one from the other; height given 1 Kings 7:15; 2 Kings 25:17; confirmed by Jeremiah 52:21-22. They appear to have stood on a line with the front of the porch; their position defined obscurely. 2 Chronicles 3:16. Chains, chaplets or festoons in the manner of the oracle, which must have had similar chain work (cf. 1 Kings 6:21). Bertheau reads “in a ring,” so as to go all round the neck as a necklace. 2 Chronicles 3:17. Reared before the temple, conspicuous to beholders. Jachin, he will establish. Boaz, strength. Possibly proper names, and may belong to supposed younger sons of Solomon [Ewald]. The LXX. trans. direction and strength. “Lit., Jachin would seem to be, as rendered in the margin, ‘He will establish,’ while Boaz may either be ‘in strength,’ or ‘in him is strength,’ or ‘in it is strength.’ The meaning was probably, ‘God will establish in strength’ (i.e., firmly) the temple and the religion connected with it” [Speak. Com.].
THE BUILDING OF THE TEMPLE.—2 Chronicles 3:1-14
This first work that Solomon undertook was long in preparation but lasting in effect. “Of all monuments of the internal administration of Solomon, none is to be compared in itself or in its effect on the future character of the people with the building of the temple. It was far more than a mere architectural display. It supplied the framework of the history of the kingdom of Judah. There is hardly any reign which is not in some way connected with its construction or its changes” [Stanley].
I. The site chosen. Consecrated by the offering of Isaac and the gracious appearance of the angel to David. The place selected by David, bought with his money, and prepared by his labours—pulling down buildings, levelling rocks, marking out dimensions—revealed by the Spirit of God (1 Chronicles 22:1, 1 Chronicles 22:18, 26). Solomon not at liberty to fix nor at a loss to find a place. Wisdom to submit to God’s appointment and to be guided by his providence.
II. The specifications given. “These are the ground plans, &c.” (2 Chronicles 3:3). There must be foundation or ground plan—many build “in the air,” build from the top, build without principles, plan, or good materials. We have need to be “instructed,” not born natural architects like the bee and the beaver. In life-building keep to the “first measure,” the divine rule. This the only guide, the only foundation. No other can be laid.
III. The time the work commenced. In the second month and fourth year of his reign. Time more specific in 1 Kings 6:1. Memorable day. Many such in Christian life; not monotonous and commonplace—“red-letter days” crises in life to remind and help. The day when born again, when school was entered, when home was left. The month when business started or the Christian church entered. “The year after” some great event. The deliverance from Egypt, from sickness or spiritual bondage. “Days should speak” of plans formed and work commenced, of special providences and significant events.
IV. The form of the building erected. First, the Porch and its Pillars (2 Chronicles 3:15-17). “The most startling novelty of the building in which foreign architects had freest play. In materials it was probably suggested by Assyrian, in elevation by Egyptian architecture, while Tyrian sculptors displayed their art to the full in the two elaborate pillars. They stood immediately under the porch, within, but not supporting it, and were called, either from the workmen or from their own firmness and solidity, Jachin and Boaz. Their golden pedestals, bright brazen shafts, rich capitals, light festoons, were thought prodigies of art so remarkable that the Israelites were never wearied of recounting their glories” [Stanley]. Second, the Holy Place, “the greater house” (2 Chronicles 3:5), double the area of the Holy of Holies. “The whole interior was lined with boards richly decorated with carved work, clusters of foliage and flowers, among which the pomegranate and lutus, or water-lily, were conspicuous, and overlaid, excepting the floor, with gold, either by gilding or in plates” (1 Kings 6:0) [Jamieson]. Third, the Most Holy Place. Its upper chambers (2 Chronicles 3:9); sculptured cherubim of colossal size, their faces inwards conformably to their use, which was to vail the ark (2 Chronicles 3:10-13). The vail between the Holy and the Most Holy Place (2 Chronicles 3:14) displayed the beauty of colour, embossed with cherubims, and made of four materials. This pattern given to Solomon (1 Chronicles 29:11-12), not the invention of human architects. Destitute of invention, we may gather materials and work according to pattern. But remember the builder depends upon the architect. “Except the Lord build the house, &c.”
THE DESCRIPTION OF THE TEMPLE
I. Solid in its form. Stones and pillars indicate strength and duration. Whatever God builds is strong and solid. The earth is “established”; the hills are “everlasting”; the church is built on a rock. “The foundation of the Lord standeth sure.”
II. Costly in its materials. Not only grand and massive in style, but costly. Best cedars, best gold, and “costly stones” (1 Kings 7:10). The porch, the holy place, and “the most holy house overlaid with gold.” To the artistic use of precious metals was added the glory of coloured gems. “Garnished the house with precious stones for beauty” (2 Chronicles 3:6).
III. Beautiful in its appearance. The temple of nature is beautiful. The sky spread out as curtains, and the stars shine as lamps. The decorations of the Temple were not a form of mere “barbaric splendour” as thought by some writers. The skill of the smith, the sculptor, and the engraver lavished upon substances and in a place rarely seen by the eye of man. In its symmetry, order, and design, the work was an offering to Jehovah, whose presence filled the temple. The house of the earthly Jerusalem was a type of the glorified Church, “the city of pure gold, like unto clear glass.”
“And it is a joy that in every age
The greatest works of mind or hand have been
Done unto God” [Bailey’s Festus].
THE SURPASSING BEAUTY OF THE TEMPLE.—2 Chronicles 3:6
Observe—I. That God did not need this lavish expenditure of gold and gems and rich ornaments. They were all perishable things. II. Yet divine condescension accepted this offering of human gratitude. III. The beauty and costliness of the temple not without their uses. The temple so adorned served to impress the mind of surrounding nations with the feelings of the people of Israel towards their great God. IV. The adornment of the temple a rebuke of the utilitarian views of those who are advocates of a Judas-like economy, and who regard as waste all that is given to God beyond the bare necessities of the case [Bib. Mus.].
HOMILETIC HINTS AND SUGGESTIONS
2 Chronicles 3:4. Within with pure gold. Such was Christ’s inside (Colossians 2:9); in his outside was no such desirable beauty (Isaiah 53:2); so the church’s glory is inward (Psalms 45:13), in the hidden man of the heart (1 Peter 3:4) [Trapp].
2 Chronicles 3:5. Gold and fir.
1. The best things employed for God.
2. The best employed with no niggard spirit and empty hand.
3. The best applied to secure harmony, beauty, and strength.
The lofty buildings set forth “the germs of all Christian architecture and the principle of national worship in fixed places for ever.”
“A thing of beauty is a joy for ever;
Its loveliness increases; it will never
Pass into nothingness.”
2 Chronicles 3:10-13. Cherubims.
1. Image work, painted to impress mind and life. Symbols of spiritual truths. “The eye may help the fancy and the soul; but if our creed be only painted, it is as a painted wing: you will always find it where you left it—a wing that cannot flutter, much less fly, a wing that is useless in every respect” [Dr. Parker].
2. Stood, denoting attendance and service. “They serve who also stand and wait” (cf. Psalms 103:20).
3. Wings extended, to teach alacrity in service, “swift as an angel.”
4. Faces inward, not fixed on a throne and faced towards worshippers. God only must be worshipped, not angels who merely attend and vail their faces before him. “Whatever the cherubim were, it is certain that they were in no sense representations or emblems of deity, like the winged figures of Assyria and Egypt, with which they have been often compared … the representation simply expresses the claim of Jehovah, the God of Israel, of such lordship over all creation as is hymned in the seraphic song of Isaiah 6:3” [Ellicott, O. T. Com.].
2 Chronicles 3:17. Jachin and Boaz establishment and strength in temple work (cf. 1 Kings 7:21). “The pillars were richly decorated and placed in a very conspicuous position in front of, and detached from, the temple. The one on the dexter side was named ‘Jachin,’ that is, ‘He shall establish,’ and that on the sinister side ‘Boaz,’ that is, ‘In it is strength.’ These names seem to show that they were memorial columns, such as have often been erected in one form or another in all ages, and that they commemorated the Lord’s work in establishing his kingdom and presence in Jerusalem. They thus expressed to future ages the thanksgiving words of David: ‘Lord, by thy favour thou hast settled strength for my mountain’ (Psalms 20:7, marg.); ‘Honour and majesty are before him; strength and beauty are in his sanctuary’ (Psalms 96:6)” [J. H. Blunt]. Showing not only by the matter—brass—but by the names of these pillars, what steadfastness the elect stand in before God, both for present and future. For present they have strength in themselves—Boaz, i.e., in it is strength; for future God will so direct and establish them with his grace—Jachin, i.e., he shall direct or establish, that they shall never wholly depart from him. “Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out” (Revelation 3:12) [Trapp].
ILLUSTRATIONS TO CHAPTER 3
2 Chronicles 3:6. Stones for beauty. The lavish use of the precious metals in ornamentation was a peculiar feature of early Oriental architecture [Speak. Com.]. ’Tis the eternal law that first in beauty should be first in might [Keats]. Precious stones. They who are not made saints in a state of grace shall never be saints in glory. The stones which are appointed for that glorious temple above are hewn and polished and prepared for it here, as the stones were wrought and prepared in mountains for the building of the temple at Jerusalem [Leighton].
2 Chronicles 3:7-10. The mission of art. Art is on a mission for the great common people. It is to educate them. It is to elevate them. It is to refine them. It is to do its work now, no longer for the palace, no longer for the temple, but for that which has something of both the palace and the temple in it—for the family. Art is aiming at the household, and when it shall have done its work there, it will be with such resplendent and wondrous fruits as shall make all the past as nothing in the comparison. We are just on the eve of this great development. The wealth of the world is increasing, so that men are beginning to be able to make their houses richer than Grecian temples used to be [Beecher].
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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 3". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25