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Bible Commentaries

Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible

1 Kings 7

Verse 2

1 Kings 7:2. He built also the house of the forest of Lebanon The house mentioned in the foregoing verse was in Jerusalem, the winter residence of Solomon. This was built in a cool shady mountain near Jerusalem for his summer residence. See chap. 1 Kings 14:25-11.14.26. It was called the house of the forest of Lebanon, because it was situated in a lofty place like Lebanon, and probably surrounded with many such fine cedars as grew there. Calmet is of opinion, that it was so called from the number of cedar pillars which supported it.

Verse 7

1 Kings 7:7. And it was covered with cedar It deserves remark, that the eastern floors and ceilings are just the reverse of ours. Their ceilings are of wood, ours of plaister or stucco work; their floors are of plaister or painted tyles, ours of wood. This fully detects a mistake of Kimchi and R. Solomon, who, according to Buxtorff, supposed, that the floor of the porch of judgment which Solomon built was all of cedar; whereas the sacred writer undoubtedly meant, that its covering at the top, its ceiling, was of cedar. Indeed here in the west, where these Jewish rabbis lived, such places are usually built after the eastern mode, which makes their mistake so much the more strange. Westminster hall, for instance, is paved with stone and ceiled with wood, and such, without doubt, was the ceiling and the pavement of the porch for judgment which Solomon built, and which was erected in a much hotter climate. See Observations, p. 101. Concerning Solomon's throne, see chap. 1Ki 10:18-19 and and Servius on AEneid, vii. ver. 169.

Note; (1.) They who are great, may appear so; it is as fit that a king should dwell in a palace, as a peasant in a cottage. (2.) They who are occupied in building should take care not to lose, in the stone and mortar, their solicitude to secure a better house, not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

Verses 13-14

1 Kings 7:13-11.7.14. King Solomon sent and fetched Hiram out of Tyre In former times there had been among the Hebrews very excellent workmen, who knew how to cut and engrave precious stones, to cast and work upon metals, &c. But this was before they came into the land of Canaan, in the time of Moses, when Bezaleel and Aholiab were excellent in many different arts which were necessary for the work of the temple; but, as the Scripture tells us that they had their skill by inspiration from God, it does not appear that they had any successors: and after they had got possession of Canaan, they neglected all manufactures, and applied themselves almost wholly to agriculture and the feeding of cattle; so that in the time of Solomon there were no professed artists who could undertake the work of the temple. But in Tyre and Sidon there were many; for both in his Iliad and Odyssey Homer gives the people of those two places this character; whom upon every occasion he calls, πολυδαιδαλους that is, excellent artists in several kinds of work.

Verse 15

1 Kings 7:15. Two pillars—of eighteen cubits high It is said, 2Ch 3:15 that these pillars were thirty and 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. These two pillars were called by the names of Jachin and Boaz, 1Ki 7:21 words which imply, that God alone gave stability, or was alone the support and strength of the temple. Various allegorical designations have been given to these pillars. The authors of the Universal History observe, by way of conjecture, that one might suppose there was an inscription in some such sense as that above, given upon the basis of each of the pillars; that on the one beginning with the word Jachin, and that on the other with the word Boaz, from whence the pillars might have their denomination; as we see the books of Moses called by the first words which they begin with. See Universal History, vol. 4: p. 206.

Verse 18

1 Kings 7:18. And he made the pillars, &c.— Thus he made the pillars; and there were two rows round about by the branch-work, which was to cover the chapiter, even that [part] which was above the pomegranates: [See Light. vol. i. 1075.] and so did he, &c.

Verse 23

1 Kings 7:23. And he made a molten sea The Hebrews call any great collection of waters by the name of ים yam, a sea. So the lake of Genesareth and others are called in the Gospel; and here the original words, מוצק ים yam mutzak, signify a large vessel containing a great quantity of water, which served for the washing of the sacrifices, and of the priests and Levites, who washed their hands and feet not in it, but with water drawn out of it by pipes or conduits. It is said, 1Ki 7:26 to have contained two thousand baths: in 2 Chronicles 4:5 three thousand; which last reading Houbigant prefers. A bath was of the same contents with an ephah, 1:e. eight gallons. The reader may find an accurate description and a great variety of figures of this molten sea in Scheuchzer on the place.

Verse 27

1 Kings 7:27. He made ten bases of brass That is, stands or tables, upon which the lavers mentioned, 1Ki 7:38 were to be placed; and which were to be so situated, 1Ki 7:39 that as soon as the priests entered they might have water to wash their hands and feet. For the other parts of the furniture of the temple, we refer to what has been said on the tabernacle furniture: see also Lightfoot on the temple, p. 228. The heathens had lustral water at the gate of their temples, to wash their hands before they offered their sacrifices. See Spencer de Leg. Heb. Diss. 3:

Verse 51

1 Kings 7:51. 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 150 feet in length, and 105 in breadth, taking the whole together, and is exceeded by many of our parish churches,) but its chief grandeur and excellency lay in its out-buildings and ornaments, in its workmanship, which was every where 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 to 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.

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Bibliographical Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on 1 Kings 7". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. 1801-1803.