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CRITICAL NOTES.] This chapter describes the holy furniture of the temple and the court (2 Chronicles 4:1-10); the brass works of Huram (2 Chronicles 4:11-18); and the golden vessels of the sanctuary (2 Chronicles 4:19; ch. 2 Chronicles 5:1; cf. 1 Kings 7:48-51).
2 Chronicles 4:1-10.—The furniture of the temple court. 2 Chronicles 4:1. Altar, of burnt offering, dimensions not given in Kings. 2 Chronicles 4:2-5. Brazen sea (cf. 1 Kings 7:23-26). Oxen, true reading appears to be knops, colocynths, or flower buds, as in 1 Kings 7:24. The word seems to have come in by mistake from the next verse [Murphy]. 2 Chronicles 4:4-5. The exact words of Kings used until last clause of 2 Chronicles 4:5. Lilies (2 Chronicles 4:5), like a lily flower (marg.). 2 Chronicles 4:6. Ten lavers placed in the court, five on south and five on north side; used for washing utensils; sea for bathing of the priests. 2 Chronicles 4:7. Candlesticks made after the pattern of that by Moses (Exodus 25:31). Form, no allusion to shape, but to express what more fully given 2 Chronicles 4:20. 2 Chronicles 4:8. Ten tables, one in tabernacle. 2 Chronicles 4:9. Court, inner court (1 Kings 6:36). Great court for the congregation. 2 Chronicles 4:10. Sea, great brazen sea, placed between the brazen altar and the porch, a little south (1 Kings 7:39), where the laver before the tabernacle formerly stood (Exodus 30:18).
2 Chronicles 4:11-18.—The brass works of Huram. Pots, buckets for carrying ashes from altar. Shovels to lift them from altar. Basins to receive and pour blood upon altar. 2 Chronicles 4:12-16. Various things (1 Kings 7:40-47). Pommels, balls on top of chapiter, upper parts, or capital of column. Pomegran. (1 Kings 7:20). 2 Chronicles 4:14. Bases mentioned first time, ornamental stands for lavers. 2 Chronicles 4:16. Father—i.e., his master-workman, as 2 Chronicles 2:13. 2 Chronicles 4:17. Thick clay of the ground. Suc. lay beyond Jordan, south of the Jabbok. Zared., Zarthan. (1 Kings 7:46), probably name of place in time of writer. 2 Chronicles 4:18. Found out, so freely used that weight was not taken.
2 Chronicles 4:19-22.—Golden vessels of the sanctuary (1 Kings 7:48-51). Tables, the table in Kings, perhaps the shew-bread never put on more than one of the ten at a time [Speak. Com.]. 2 Chronicles 4:20. Candlesticks, law of burning, Exodus 27:20-21; Leviticus 24:2-3. 2 Chronicles 4:21. Flowers, lamps, &c. (cf. Exodus 25:31-39; 1 Kings 7:49). 2 Chronicles 4:22. Entry, the door frame; the doors, the door leaves. These were overlaid with gold.
THE FURNITURE OF THE HOLY COURT.—2 Chronicles 4:1-10
A continued account of the furniture, things made of brass and of gold. Without and within types of good things to come. Here furniture in open court, in view of all the people, of great significance.
1. The altar of brass. Twenty cubits (30ft.) square, by ten cubits (15ft.) high. Larger than that in Tabernacle. Israel more numerous and richer, should be more devout. When God enlarges our borders and business we should increase our gifts. The burnt offerings an impressive, instructive sight, before the people in the court.
2. The sea of brass. For the same purpose as the Laver in Tabernacle, washing hands and feet of priests while ministering at the altar. Ten cubits (15ft) in diameter, by five cubits (7½ft.) in height, and raised higher by standing upon 12 brazen oxen. Reminding that God requires sanctity in all that approach him. Those that draw nigh must cleanse their hands and purify their hearts (James 4:8).
3. The ten lavers (2 Chronicles 4:6). They were set upon wheels to move about, and used for the ablution of sacrifices. Not only the priests, but the sacrifices must be washed. We must purify our persons and performances. Iniquity cleaves to our holy things.
4. The ten golden candlesticks (2 Chronicles 4:7). Only one in Tabernacle. Light increases. Divine direction was given to increase the number of tables for shew-bread and candlesticks for light.
5. The ten tables. “Five on right side and five on the left;” to which belonged 100 basins or dishes of gold (2 Chronicles 4:7).
6. The golden altar, on which incense was burnt (2 Chronicles 4:19); probably enlarged in proportion to the brazen altar. Christ makes atonement and intercedes for ever in virtue of that atonement. But what use all this splendid furniture? Not for mere display, but utility. Talents, education, the furniture of mind not given for mere polish, but practical use. Outward adornment, material grandeur only of service when leading to spiritual results.
THE MOLTEN SEA.—2 Chronicles 4:2-5
I. Its use suggests purification for God’s service. Priests and people unfit without this. Holiness becomes God’s house and God’s servants. “Be ye clean that bear the vessels of the Lord.”
II. Its size suggests abundant provision for purification. Not a laver, but a sea; kept full and overflowing for constant use. A type of that “fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and uncleanness.”
III. Its construction.
1. The material precious and durable.
2. The oxen, sacrifices of priests, emblems of strength and patience—looking all ways. The blessings procured by a holy priesthood would be universally diffused [Adapted].
THE BRASS WORKS OF HIRAM.—2 Chronicles 4:11-18
A detailed enumeration of principal articles executed for sacred edifice (cf. 1 Kings 7:14-46).
I. The articles which Hiram made. Hiram skilled in work in gold, silver, and iron; in wood and stone; in purple, blue, fine linen and in crimson (2 Chronicles 2:14); but chiefly metal work or works in brass contributed. Works splendid in material, “bright brass” (1 Kings 7:45); numerous in quantity, “in great abundance” (2 Chronicles 4:18), and suitable in style.
II. The foundry at which they were prepared. In neighbourhood of Succoth and Zarthan, in valley of Jordan, where the soil is marl. What natural abundant provision for man in the earth! If brass or bronze was not smelted and alloyed by Hiram, but received from Syria as a tribute in manufactured form, yet he would melt it down for casting (1 Chronicles 18:8). Furnaces would be required and filled with metal. Moulds made in the ground and national foundry erected far from the capital, which would not be annoyed by smoke and noxious vapours. Thus we have civilisation in its beginning, progress, and end.
AN ANCIENT CONTRACT.—2 Chronicles 4:11-18
“Hiram finished the work that he was to make for King Solomon” (2 Chronicles 4:11). The agreement in 2 Chronicles 11:0.
I. The contractor. An eminent Tyrian artizan, skilled in great variety of departments; appointed for his great natural ability to superintend the execution of all works of art in the temple; and a faithful, diligent man, worthy of all confidence.
II. The articles for which he contracted. Numerous and most valuable, well-finished and most suitable. The best material and the best workmanship.
III. The completion of the contract. “He made an end of doing all the work” (1 Kings 7:41). Finished the work and all the work. No breach of contract; no delay. Everything completed in time; gave satisfaction; and becomes a model transaction.
“THE ENTRY OF THE HOUSE.”—2 Chronicles 4:22
This central, conspicuous, and attractive, suggesting—
I. Access to God in Christian worship. God great and man sinful. The door might have been for ever closed; but, in love. Jehovah directs in building a house, promises to dwell in it, and invites men to meet him there. “Let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them.”
II. Access to symbolic beauty in Christian worship. Perfection of gold, or material prosperity given to God. Palms indicating growth and fruitfulness in Christian life; flowers, emblems of beauty and fragrance in Christian character; cherubims, suggestive of alacrity in God’s service. Thought is expressed in forms of art. Beauty pleases the senses, originates in the mind the ideal, calls imagination into play, and exercises wonderful fascination over man. Delight, love, and reverence touch the heart, emotions arise and action result.
“We live by admiration, hope, and love;
And even as these are well and wisely fixed,
In dignity of being we ascend.”
HOMILETIC HINTS AND SUGGESTIONS
2 Chronicles 4:6. Ten lavers. Ten symbol of completeness. Their position in court, five on the north, and five on south side. Their us for washing parts of offering. Furniture of splendid skill, labour, and expense.
2 Chronicles 4:5. With flowers of lilies, lit. like a lily flower. Consider—
1. That there is an acceptableness in a good and true work in itself, but much more by relation; that is, when it is rendered as to God. We must come to do our best, because we are doing it for the Lord.
2. The soundness and honesty of service in God’s spiritual temple.
3. As some of Hiram’s work was “lily work” (cf. 1 Kings 7:22), so, majesty crowned with gracefulness will be found in all the Divinest thoughts.
1. The pillars must be before the florid ornamentation;
2. But beauty is also in God’s sanctuary, and “upon the top of the pillars was lily work” [G. J. Proctor]. In reviewing the whole chapter, we learn—
1. The beautiful in Christian architecture; the temple an example and stimulus.
2. Art in Christian service; subservient to man’s highest needs and God’s glory.
3. The symbolic in Christian worship. The O. T. dispensation a picture adapted to infant minds and first stages of divine instruction, “a shadow (dim sketch) of things to come” (Colossians 2:17; Hebrews 10:1).
ILLUSTRATIONS TO CHAPTER 4
2 Chronicles 4:14. Bases and lavers. No 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].
2 Chronicles 4:19-22. Gold. Symbolic art. It is an incarnation of fancy, and is a sort of petrified poetry, or concrete rhetoric. It is the blossom of the art-tree, whose root is thought, and whose trunk it imagination. It is inventive, imitational, and composite.… Let our students follow nature boldly and lovingly, but not servilely—learning to compose as she does—not following her laws without laying down his own. Above all, let him remember that ornamentation is to art what words are to thought, and that if design and architecture are dead, no ornamentation, however beautiful, can give them life. It will be, at the best, but a wreath of flowers round the pale brow of the corpse.
Illimitable! ’tis but the outer hem
Of God’s great mantle our poor stars do gem”
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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 4". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29