1 Kings 7:1. Solomon was building his own house — The royal palace, for himself and for his successors, which he did not begin to build till he had finished the house of God, that nothing might hinder that holy work, 1 Kings 9:10. Thirteen years — Almost double the time to that in which the temple was built; because, neither were the materials so far provided and prepared for this as they were for the temple, nor did either he or his people use the same diligence in this as in the other work, to which they were quickened by God’s express command.
1 Kings 7:2. He built also the house of the forest of Lebanon — The house mentioned in the foregoing verse was in Jerusalem, and was probably the place of Solomon’s residence during the winter. This seems to have been built for his summer residence, on some cool, shady mountain near Jerusalem, and to have been called the house of the forest of Lebanon, because it was situated in a lofty place, bearing some resemblance to mount Lebanon, and probably was surrounded with many tall cedars, such as grew there. That it was near Jerusalem, and not on mount Lebanon, properly so called, seems evident, because there was the throne of judgment, (1 Kings 7:7,) which it was most proper should be in the place of his constant and usual residence; and because there was the chief magazine of arms, (Isaiah 22:8,) and Solomon’s golden shields were placed there, (1 Kings 10:17; 1 Kings 14:25-28,) which no wise prince would have put in a place at the extremity of his kingdom, and at such a distance from his royal city as mount Lebanon was from Jerusalem. The length thereof — Of the principal mansion; to which, doubtless, other buildings were adjoining. Was a hundred cubits — Which was not longer than the house of God, if we take in all the courts belonging thereto. The height thereof thirty cubits — The same as the height of the holy place in the temple. Upon four rows of cedar pillars — Which supported the building, and between which there were four stately walks. With cedar beams upon the pillars — Which were laid for the floor of the second story.
1 Kings 7:3-5. Fifteen in a row — So in this second story there were only three rows of pillars, which were sufficient for the ornament of the second and for the support of the third story; and we may conjecture from hence that there were threescore pillars below. Light was against light — One directly opposite to another, as is usual in well-contrived buildings. In three ranks — One exactly under another in three rows. All the doors, &c., were square with the windows — That is, the figures of the doors and windows were one and the same, namely, square. And light was against light, &c. — This is meant of the smaller windows or lights which were over the door, and which were also square.
1 Kings 7:6. And he made a porch of pillars — That is, supported by divers pillars: this was for his guard, and for people to walk in who came upon business, as well as for the more magnificent entrance into the house. Upon this also it is probable there were other rooms built as in the house. The porch was before them — That is, before the pillars of the great house before spoken of. And the other pillars, &c. — Or, and pillars, that is, fewer and lesser pillars for the support of the porch. Were before them — Or, according to them; (see the margin;) that is, they were directly opposite one to another.
1 Kings 7:7. He made a porch for the throne, even the porch of judgment — So it was called, because here he sat to judge and determine the causes that were brought before him. But some think it unlikely that this porch was adjoining to the house of the forest of Lebanon. They judge it more probable that it was built in some place near the royal palace in Jerusalem, and is here mentioned because the writer was speaking of other porches. And it was covered, &c., from one side of the floor to the other —
Hebrew, from floor to floor; from the lower floor on the ground, to the upper floor which covered it.
1 Kings 7:8. His house where he dwelt had another court within the porch — That is, between the porch and the house, called therefore the middle court, 1 Kings 20:4. Solomon made also a house for Pharaoh’s daughter — Of which, see 2 Chronicles 2:11. Like unto this porch — Not for form or size, but for the materials and workmanship, the rooms being covered with cedar and the like ornaments.
1 Kings 7:9. All these were of costly stones — Namely, the buildings described here, and in the former chapter. According to the measures of hewed stones — Either, 1st, Which were hewed in such measure and proportion, as exact workmen use in hewing ordinary stones: or, 2d, As large as hewed stones commonly are, which are often very great. Sawed them with saws, within and without — Both on the inside of the buildings, which were covered with cedar, and on the outside also. From the foundation unto the coping — From the bottom to the top of the building. So on the outside toward the great court — Not only on the outside of the front of the house, which, being most visible, men are more careful to adorn, but also of the other side of the house, which looked toward the great court belonging to the king’s house.
1 Kings 7:10-11. The foundation was of costly stones — By costly stones, mentioned here, and in the foregoing and following verses, are not meant precious stones, but stones that, being larger, firmer, and better polished than others, were of greater price: probably they were large blocks of marble, squared and polished on all sides. Stones of ten cubits — Not ten cubits square, which would have been unnecessary, and would have rendered them unportable and unmanageable, but of such measure as is generally used in measuring stones and timber; and thus also the following eight cubits are to be understood. And above — That is, in the roof, or upper part; for this is opposed to the foundation. Were costly stones and cedars — Intermixed the one with the other. Thus the roof was finished after the same manner with the lower parts.
1 Kings 7:12. And the great court — Namely, of Solomon’s palace, mentioned 1 Kings 7:8. Was with three rows of hewed stones, &c. — Just like the inner court of the Lord’s house, (1 Kings 6:36,) and so the following words are to be understood. Both, for the inner court — Or, rather, as for the inner court, &c.; for so the particle ו, vau, sometimes signifies. And for the porch of the house — Namely, Solomon’s own house.
1 Kings 7:13-14. Solomon sent and fetched Hiram — Though he was an Israelite by birth, yet he dwelt at Tyre; and, it is likely, had the privileges of that city, and so was one of King Hiram’s subjects. And therefore (2 Chronicles 2:13) that king says he had sent him to Solomon, that is, had granted Solomon’s request, who had requested that this man might come and serve him. His father was a man of Tyre — Whom his mother, when a widow, had married. A worker in brass — And in gold, and stone, and purple, and blue, 2 Chronicles 2:14. But his skill in brass is only mentioned here, because he speaks only of the brazen things which he made. And he was filled with wisdom, &c. — He had an excellent genius for and great skill in this work.
1 Kings 7:15-16. He cast two pillars of brass — Of which see 2 Kings 25:16-17; Jeremiah 52:21. Of eighteen cubits high apiece — It is said, 2 Chronicles 3:15, that these pillars were thirty-five cubits high, which relates to the height of both of them together without their pedestals, whereas the height of each is given here with its pedestal. A line of twelve cubits did compass either of them — The diameter, therefore, was four cubits, which, considering the chapiter of five cubits, added to the height of each pillar, (2 Chronicles 3:15,) was only in due proportion to the height. In 2 Kings 25:17, indeed, it is said, that the height of the chapiter was only three cubits. But it must be observed, that the word chapiter may either be taken more largely for the whole, in which case, it was five cubits; or more strictly, either for the pommels, as they are called, 2 Chronicles 4:12; or for the cornice or crown, and so it was but three cubits, to which the pomegranates being added, made it four cubits, as it is 1 Kings 7:19, and the other work upon it took up one cubit more, which in all made five cubits.
1 Kings 7:17-19. Nets of checker-work, &c., for the chapiters — Which chapiters those nets and wreaths encompassed, either covering, and, as it were, receiving and holding the pomegranates, or being mixed with them. And he made — Or, so he made, or framed, or perfected, the pillars, and two rows round about — Of pomegranates, or some other curious work, which took up one of the five cubits, whereof the chapiter consisted. And the chapiters, &c., were of lily-work — Were made in imitation of lilies. In the porch — Or, as in the porch; such work as there was in the porch of the temple, in which these pillars were set, (1 Kings 7:21,) that so the work of the tops of these pillars might agree with that in the top of the porch.
1 Kings 7:20. Over against the belly — So he calls the middle part of the chapiter, which jetted farthest out. The pomegranates were two hundred — They are said to be ninety and six on the side of a pillar, in one row, and in all a hundred, (Jeremiah 52:23,) four pomegranates between the several checker-works being added to the first ninety-six. And it must needs be granted that there were as many on the other side of the pillar, or in the other row, which makes them two hundred upon a pillar, as is here said, and four hundred upon both pillars, as they are numbered, 2 Chronicles 4:13.
1 Kings 7:21. He set up the pillars in the porch — Where they were placed for mere ornament and magnificence, for they supported nothing. Called the name thereof Jachin — Which signifies, He, that is, God, shall establish, his temple, and church, and people: and Boaz signifies, in it, or rather, in him (to answer the he in the former name) is strength. So these pillars, being eminently strong and stable, were types of that strength which was in God, and would be put forth by God for the defending and establishing of his temple and people, if they were careful to observe the conditions required by him on their parts.
1 Kings 7:23. He made a molten sea — He melted the brass, and cast it into the form of a great vessel, for its vastness called a sea, which name is given by the Hebrews to all great collections of waters. The use of it was for the priests to wash their hands and feet, or other things, as occasion required, with the water which they drew out of it. It was round all about — Of a circular form. Its height was five cubits — Besides the height of the oxen whereon it stood. A line of thirty cubits did compass it — For the diameter being ten cubits, thirty must be the circumference of it. This sea was filled with water by the Gibeonites, who were afterward called Nethinims.
1 Kings 7:24. There were knops compassing it — Molten figures: for the word
פקעים, pekagnim, signifies pictures or figures of all sorts, as gourds, flowers, beasts, &c. — Ten in a cubit — So there were three hundred of these knops in all, the sea being thirty cubits round. The knops were cast in two rows when it was cast — They were not carved afterward, but cast at first when the sea was molten. And, there being two rows of them, Abarbinel thence concludes there were six hundred in all, one under another.
1 Kings 7:25-26. It stood upon twelve oxen — Of solid brass, which was necessary to bear so great a weight. Probably the water was drawn by cocks out of the mouths of these oxen. It contained two thousand baths — That is, five hundred barrels, the bath being a measure of the same bigness with the ephah, each containing about eight gallons. It appears from 2 Chronicles 4:5, that if filled up to the brim, it would receive three thousand baths. But it is probable they were not wont to put so much in it, lest, with the wind, it should run over; and that two thousand was the quantity usually kept in it.
1 Kings 7:27-29. He made ten bases of brass — Upon which stood ten lavers mentioned below, (1 Kings 7:38,) in which they washed the parts of the sacrifices, 2 Chronicles 4:6. They had borders — Broad brims, possibly for the more secure holding of the lavers. Upon the ledges there was a base above — This is very obscurely expressed; hut probably by the base above is meant the uppermost part of the base; which, though it was above, yet was a base to the laver, which stood upon it. Certain additions —
Either as bases for the feet of the said lions and oxen, or only as further ornaments.
1 Kings 7:30. Every base had four brazen wheels — Whereby the bases and lavers might be removed from place to place, as need required. Undersetters — Hebrew, shoulders; fitly so called, because they supported the lavers, that they should not fall from their bases, when the bases were removed, together with the lavers.
1 Kings 7:31. The mouth of it — So he calls that part in the top of the base which was left hollow, that the foot of the laver might be let into it. Within the chapiter — Within the little base, which he calls the chapiter, because it rose up from, and stood above the great base. And above — Above the chapiter; for the mouth went up and grew wider like a funnel. Was a cubit — In height, (1 Kings 7:35,) whereof half a cubit was above the chapiter or little base, and the other half below it. A cubit and half — In compass. Four-square — So the innermost part, called the mouth, was round, but the outward part was square, as when a circle is made within a quadrangle.
1 Kings 7:33-37. Were all molten — Cast together with the bases. The undersetters were of the very base — Not only of the same matter, but of the same piece, being cast with it. According to the proportion of every one — Hebrew, כמער, chemagnar, according to the nakedness, or, empty space of every one, that is, according to the extent of the spaces left empty for them, namely, that these figures were as large as the void plates would admit. All of them had one casting, &c. — They were cast in the same mould, and of the same size.
1 Kings 7:38-39. He made ten lavers of brass — Which were to stand upon the bases before mentioned. One laver contained forty baths — See 1 Kings 7:26; from whence it will appear, that each of these lavers contained ten barrels of water. And every laver was four cubits — Some think they were of this height. But it is more likely that these words relate to the diameter of them, which was four cubits, and then their compass was twelve cubits. He put five bases on the right side — That is, on the south side. See 1 Kings 6:8. Of the house — Of the court where the priests ministered, and where, as occasion required, they washed either their hands or feet, or the parts of the sacrifices. Five on the left side of the house — That is, on the north side of that court, which is here opposed to the right or south side. Over against the south — That is, in the south-east part, where the offerings were prepared. So that, as soon as the priests entered, which they did at the east gate, they might have water to wash their hands and their feet.
1 Kings 7:40. Hiram made the lavers, &c. — These seem to have been the last things that he made. For he now finished all his work, most or all the particulars of which are recapitulated, with the addition of some others not mentioned before: shovels, for instance, wherewith they cleansed the altar from the ashes, and basins, wherein the priests received the blood of the sacrifices that were offered.
1 Kings 7:45-47. And the pots — Or caldrons rather. These were vessels in which they boiled those sacrifices, or parts of sacrifices, which were divided between the priests and the people that offered them; that is, the peace-offerings, that they might eat them before the Lord. In the clay- ground — Hebrew, In the thickness of the ground. That is, in earth that was stiff and glutinous, and therefore more fit for making moulds of all kinds. And in a plain country such moulds were more easily fixed than on the sides of hills, or steep places. Solomon left all the vessels unweighed — Because the weighing of them would have been troublesome, and to no purpose. Neither was the weight of the brass found out — Hebrew, נחקר, nechkar, investigated, or inquired into. Much less was an exact account taken of it.
1 Kings 7:48. All the vessels that pertained to the house of the Lord — Such as God, by the mouth of Moses, had commanded to be made for his house and service, and such as Moses had made for the tabernacle; only these for the temple were larger, richer, and more in number; according to the difference, as to size and splendour, between the temple and the tabernacle, and between Solomon’s vast riches and the poverty of Moses and the Israelites in the wilderness. The altar of gold — That is, overlaid with gold. For it was made of cedar, as that of Moses was of shittim-wood, and it was only covered with gold, 1 Kings 6:20. This was the altar of incense which stood in the holy place, and is mentioned 1 Chronicles 28:18, as one of the holy things for which David left gold. And the table of show- bread — Under which, by a synecdoche, are comprehended, both all the utensils belonging to it, and the other ten tables, which were made at the same time, 2 Chronicles 4:7-8.
1 Kings 7:49. And the candlesticks — Which were ten, according to the number of the tables, whereas Moses made but one: whereby might be signified the progress of the light of sacred truth, which was now grown clearer than it was in Moses’s time, and should shine brighter and brighter until the perfect day of gospel light. Of pure gold — Of massy and fine gold. Before the oracle — In the holy place. Flowers — Wrought upon the candlesticks, as had formerly been the case. Tongs of gold — Wherewith to take coals from the altar of burnt-offering.
1 Kings 7:50. The bowls and the snuffers, &c. — The use of the different articles here named is manifest. The bowls were to contain oil for the lamps, the snuffers to trim them: the basins, which were a hundred, as we learn 2 Chronicles 4:8, were to receive the water of sprinkling, and the blood of the sacrifices, which was sometimes brought into the most holy place. The spoons served to take up the oil. The censers were for offering incense. The hinges of gold, &c. — This shows the vast riches of Solomon, and his great piety, which made him spare no cost to beautify the house of God, and all things belonging to it.
1 Kings 7:51. Solomon brought in the things which David his father had dedicated — The silver and gold, and other things which David had provided for erecting this temple, and which had not been expended in the house itself, or its furniture, Solomon laid up in the treasury belonging to it, for repairs, exigences, and the constant charge of the temple-service. Although this splendid edifice had cost him immense sums, besides what David had prepared for building it, he would not repay himself in any degree by diverting from their intended purpose, and transferring to his own secular use, these devoted, or, as they are termed in the margin, holy things of David. “What parents have dedicated to God,” says Henry, here, “the children ought by no means to alienate or recall; but cheerfully confirm what was intended for pious and charitable uses, that they may with their estates inherit the blessing.” And the vessels did he put among the treasures of, &c. — With those which David had dedicated, he laid up the altar of Moses, and some other of the old utensils which belonged to the tabernacle, as being of no further use, far better being provided in their room. Indeed, the tabernacle itself was thus laid up, for which, as the temple was now built, there was no further occasion; and yet it was proper to preserve the parts of so sacred a structure, which had been formed, in all respects, by divine direction, and had long been holy to the Lord.
So was ended all the work — “Concerning this temple, we may observe, upon the whole, that the glory of it did not consist in its bulk or largeness, (for in itself it was but a small pile of building, no more than one hundred and fifty feet in length, and one hundred and five in breadth, taking the whole together, and is exceeded by many of our parish churches,) but its chief grandeur and excellence lay in its out-buildings and ornaments, in its workmanship, which was everywhere very curious, and in its overlayings, which were vast and prodigious. The overlaying of the holy of holies only, which was a room but thirty feet square and twenty high, amounted to six hundred talents of gold, which comes to four millions three hundred and twenty thousand pounds of our sterling money. ‘The whole frame,’ says Josephus, ‘was raised upon stones, polished to the highest degree of perfection, and so artificially put together, that there was no joint to be discerned, no sign of any working-tools having been upon them, but the whole looked more like the work of providence and nature, than the product of art and human invention. And as for the inside, what carving, gilding, embroidery, rich silks, and fine linen could do, of these there was the greatest profusion. The very floor of the temple was overlaid with beaten gold; the doors were large, and proportioned to the height of the walls, twenty cubits broad, and still gold upon gold.’ Antiq., lib. 8. chap. 2. In a word, it was gold all over, and nothing was wanting, either within or without, that might contribute to the glory and magnificence of the work.” — Dr. Dodd. Some have intimated, that one principal reason why Solomon bestowed all this outward splendour and glory on the temple of the one living and true God, probably was that he might keep the people from idolatry, knowing how much they were taken with such things. Certainly none of the idol temples were to be compared to it for riches and magnificence. Indeed, there was nothing like it in the whole world. But if this were any part of his design, the event showed how far it was from being answered thereby, and how little the expedient availed. Multitudes of the Israelites, and those not only of the more distant tribes, but even of the tribe of Judah itself, in the very midst of whom this most splendid and sumptuous fabric stood, soon relapsed into that most unreasonable and stupid of all sins. Nearly the whole Hebrew nation, even, became idolatrous. Nay, what is more astonishing, Solomon himself, who erected this most costly and superb edifice, was drawn away from the worship of that God to whose honour he had raised it, and was turned in his heart after other gods, 1 Kings 11:4; so true it is, that nothing merely external, whether in the place or ceremonies of God’s worship, however sumptuous or dazzling, can engage or secure the attachment of fallen man to him and his service. An acquaintance with his spiritual and holy nature and infinite perfections, and his love shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost given unto us, can only effect this; which blessings if we would receive and retain, we must keep our hearts with all diligence, and not suffer their desires to wander after vain things, which cannot profit. Had Solomon continued to attend to this, his own advice, the glory of his youth would not have suffered so dreadful an eclipse in his declining years; but the bright example of his wisdom and piety would have continued to shine with undiminished, nay, with increasing lustre, to the credit of the true religion, and the edification of millions, while he himself, in soul and body would have remained a temple of the living God, a habitation of Jehovah through the Spirit, a fabric unspeakably more glorious than that which, with such immense expense of treasure, time, and labour, he had erected in Jerusalem.
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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on 1 Kings 7". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany