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Bible Commentaries

The Pulpit Commentaries

1 Kings 7

Verses 1-51


SOLOMON'S PALACES AND THE PREPARATION OF THE TEMPLE VESSELS.—The first twelve verses of this chapter constitute a break in the long account of the Temple, its furniture and its consecration. The historian having described the Temple buildings, before he passes on to speak of their contents pauses for a moment to record a few particulars as to the building of the suite of palaces which next occupied Solomon's attention. The LXX; possibly following an older arrangement, but more probably (see next note) adopting an apparently more logical and methodical order, relegates this section to the end of the chapter.

1 Kings 7:1

But Solomon was building his own house thirteen years [There is no contrast implied between the time spent upon the temple and that occupied in the building of the palace, as the word "but" seems to suggest. The close connexion which exists in the original is interrupted by the division of chapters. In 1 Kings 6:38 we read, "So was he seven years in building it." 1 Kings 7:1 then proceeds, "And he was building his own house thirteen years." The much longer period occupied in the erection of the royal palace is easily accounted for. In the first place, the buildings were much larger, and the undertaking altogether was a much more extensive one (1 Kings 7:2). Then, though seven years only were consumed in the actual building of the temple, yet preparations for the work had been made, both by David and Solomon, for a long time beforehand. Lastly, a special force of labourers would appear to have been employed on the temple, while it is probable that they wrought at the palaces in greatly diminished numbers. So that the longer period spent over his own house does not argue selfishness or worldliness on Solomon's part. On the contrary, it speaks well for his piety that he built the temple first and urged on that sacred work with so much vigour. The thirteen years date from the completion of the seven years of 1 Kings 6:38. That is to say, the building of the temple and palace together occupied twenty years, as is expressly stated in 1 Kings 9:10. It is therefore one of Stanley's reckless statements that the palace "was commenced at the same time as the temple, but not finished till eight years afterwards"], and he finished all his house. [By Solomon's "house" we are not to understand his private palace, or residence proper, alone (see 1 Kings 9:8), but a range of palaces, more or less connected including the "house of the forest of Lebanon" (1 Kings 9:2), "the porch of pillars" (1 Kings 9:6), the throne-room or judgment hall (1 Kings 9:7), his own house and the house of Pharaoh's daughter (1 Kings 9:8). That all these are comprehended under the term "house" is evident from 1 Kings 9:1, 1 Kings 9:10, 1Ki 9:15; 1 Kings 10:12, where Solomon's buildings are always spoken of as two, viz; "the house of the Lord" and the "king's house."

The situation of this string of palaces is by no means certain. Josephus says it stood over against (or opposite) the temple, which is highly probable; but this still leaves the question of site open, for the palace would be justly described as ἄντικρυς ἔχων ναὸν, whether it stood west or south of the sanctuary. Ewald places it on the opposite ridge of Ophel, i.e; on the south prolongation of the temple mount; while Fergusson, Bähr, etc; locate it on the northeast side of Zion, on the opposite side of the Tyropoean valley, and overlooking it and the whole city of David. Recent explorations seem to favour Ewald's view. See "Recovery of Jerusalem," pp. 319 sqq, and "Our Work in Palestine," p. 159 sqq. When we remember that the very site of Zion is disputed, it will not surprise the reader that questions of this kind should be involved in uncertainty. And when it is further considered that the accumulated debris of Jerusalem at one point reaches a depth of 120 feet, it will be readily understood what obstacles stand in the way of their settlement.]

1 Kings 7:2

He built also [Heb. and he built. The A.V. rendering almost contradicts the view just advanced, viz; that the house of the forest of Lebanon was part of "all the house" (verse 1)] the house of the forest of Lebanon [so called, not because it was a summer residence in Lebanon, as some have supposed, nor yet merely because it was built of Lebanon cedar, but because it displayed, a perfect thicket or forest (יַעַר) of cedar pillars]; the length thereof was one hundred cubits [the temple proper was 60], and the breadth thereof fifty cubits [The temple was but 20. It does not follow that this space of 100 x 50 cubits was all roofed in, for it would seem as if the house was built round a courtyard. Rawlinson remarks that a roof of 75 feet is "much greater than is ever found in Assyria." But it is by no means certain that there was any such roof here], and the height thereof thirty cubits [the same as the temple], upon four rows of cedar pillars [How these were disposed of, or what was their number, it is impossible to say. Thenius says they were 400, but this is pure conjecture. The description is so meagre and partial that it is impossible to form a correct idea of the building. The remark made above (Hebrews 6:1-20. Introd. Note) as to the temple applies with still greater force to the palaces. "There are few tasks more difficult or puzzling than the attempt to restore an ancient building of which we possess nothing but two verbal descriptions; and these difficulties are very much enhanced when one account is written in a language like Hebrew, the scientific terms in which are, from our ignorance, capable of the widest latitude of interpretation, and the other, though written in a language of which we have a more definite knowledge, was composed by a person who could never have seen the building he was describing"], with cedar beams [כְרֻתוֹת, cut or hewn beams] upon the pillars. [This palace, according to Fergusson, was "the great hall of state and audience" and the principal building of the range. But if it was this, which is very doubtful, for the throne was in the hall of judgment (1 Kings 5:7), it would seem to have served other purposes besides that of an audience-chamber. Among other things, it was certainly an armoury (1 Kings 10:17. cf. Isaiah 22:8). The Arab. Verses calls it "the house of his arms." Possibly it was also the residence of the bodyguard (cf. 1 Kings 14:28 with 1 Kings 10:17). Bähr observes that the arrangement of the palaces accords with the Jewish conceptions of the kingly office. The first, the armoury, represents him in his militant character (1 Samuel 8:20), the second in his judicial function (1Sa 8:5, 1 Samuel 8:6; 2 Samuel 15:4; 1 Kings 3:9), while the third shows him in his private capacity.]

1 Kings 7:3

And it was covered [or roofed] with cedar above [cf. 1 Kings 6:9, 1 Kings 6:15] upon the beams [צְלָעוֹת lit; ribs, the word used in 1 Kings 6:5 of the side chambers, and in 1 Kings 6:34 (in the masculine) of the leaves of the doors], that lay on forty-five pillars, fifteen in a row. [Rawlinson, al. are much exercised to reconcile this statement with that of 1 Kings 6:2, which speaks of four rows, But the explanation is very simple, viz; that the "forty-five, fifteen in a row" does not refer to the pillars but to the side chambers or compartments (A.V; "beams"). The description is so very loose and general that positive statements are out of place, but the meaning certainly appears to be this, that there was a roofing of cedar over the side chambers (which rested upon the pillars mentioned in 1 Kings 6:2) forty-five in number, fifteen in a row. It is true the Masoretic punctuation is against this view. It is also clear that the LXX. understood the numbers forty-five and fifteen to refer to the pillars, for they have essayed to cut the knot by reading three rows instead of "four rows," in 1 Kings 6:2. Similarly the Arab. in 1 Kings 6:3 reads sixty instead of forty-five; obviously another desperate attempt to solve the difficulty by a corruption of the text. But the solution suggested above is so simple and natural that we can hardly be wrong in adopting it. Bähr says positively that forty-five pillars could not have supported a structure 100 cubits by 50 cubits, "nor could the building have been named ' forest of Lebanon' from forty-five scattered pillars." It would follow hence, that there were side chambers only on three sides of the building, as was the case in the temple. And if (as has been inferred from 1 Kings 6:4, 1 Kings 6:5) a three-storied structure is here described; if, that is to say, the forty-five chambers were divided fifteen to a tier or story, it is highly probable that they would be distributed six to each long side and three to the rear (Bähr). This arrangement—a court surrounded by a colonnade and galleries—is still found in the East; as all travellers know. And in its favour it may be said that it is such as to have been suggested by the plan of the temple. The ground plan is the same, with this difference, that a courtyard occupies the place of the temple proper.]

1 Kings 7:4

And there were windows [שְׁקֻפִים same word as in 1 Kings 6:4, i.e; beams or lattices. Keil understands, beam layers; and Bähr, ubergelegte Balken. The LXX. has πλευρῶν] in three rows [or tiers. All we can say is that there is a possible reference to three stories formed by the three rows of beams], and light [lit; outlook. מֶחְזָה probably means a wide outlook. LXX. χῶρα, aspectus, prospectus] was against light in three ranks [Heb. three times. The meaning is that the side chambers were so built and arranged that the rooms had their windows exactly vis-a-vis in each of the three stories. Josephus explains, θυρώμασι τριγλύφοις, windows in three divisions, but this is no explanation of the words "light against light," etc. Fergusson understands the three outlooks to mean, first, the clerestory windows (that there was a clerestory he infers from Josephus Ant; 7.5. 2), who describes this palace as "in the Corinthian manner," which cannot mean, he says, "the Corinthian order, which was not then invented, but after the fashion of a Corinthian oecus, which was a hall with a clerestory");

(2) a range of openings under the cornice of the walls; and

(3) a range of open doorways. But all this is conjecture.

1 Kings 7:5

And all the doors and posts [For מְזוּזֹת roF[ s posts, Thenius would read מֶהְזוֹת outlooks, after 1 Kings 7:4, which seems a natural emendation, especially as the LXX. has χῶραι. We should then get the sense of "doors and windows "] were square of beam. [The word translated "windows" in 1 Kings 7:4; the proper rendering is beam, and the meaning apparently is that all these openings were square in shape. Nothing is said about the height of the rooms, and as the commentators are not agreed whether there was one story or three, that can obviously be only matter of conjecture. Rawlinson, who thinks of but one hall, with three rows of windows, supposes, after Houbigant, that one row was placed in a wall which ran down the middle of the apartment. Such an arrangement, he observes, was found by Layard at Nimrud.]

1 Kings 7:6

And he made a porch of pillars [Heb. the porch of pillars. This was no doubt a covered colonnade, i.e; it had a roof but no sides. The pillars were its only walls. But here the question presents itself, Was this porch the vestibule of the house of the forest of Lebanon, just described? From the correspondence between its width and that of this palace, Rawlinson infers that it was (cf. 1 Kings 6:2, 1 Kings 6:3). Bähr believes it to have been the porch or entrance to the hall of judgment mentioned in the next verse, while Fergusson again assigns it an independent position, separate from either. The term porch (אוּלָם), the meaning of which is surely determined by its use in Hebrews 6:1-20; almost implies that it must have served as the entrance or vestibule to some building. But the size, and the fact that it had itself a porch (see below), favour the idea that it was an independent structure, though Rawlinson shows that "most of the Persepolitan porches had small pillared chambers at some little distance in front of them," and refers to the Egyptian propylaea. Keil argues that this pillar hall, as he calls it, stood between the house of the forest of Lebanon and the judgment hall. Bähr, as remarked above, sees in it the anterior part of the judgment hall, which latter, he adds, bore to it the same relation that the oracle did to the temple house. He observes that as the ark was in the oracle, so the throne (1 Kings 10:18) found a place in the hall of judgment. This structure, therefore, with its porch, mentioned presently, would reproduce the main features of the temple arrangement. We see, consequently, that both the house of the forest of Lebanon and the porch of pillars followed in their outline the ground plan of the temple. Nor is this at all surprising, considering that all these edifices probably had the same architect or designer]; the length thereof was fifty cubits [the length, i.e; according to the view last advanced of the two divisions of the building, viz; the porch of pillars and the porch of judgment. But the correspondence of the length (or width—the same word is used of the width of the temple porch 1 Kings 6:3) of this porch with the width of the house of the forest of Lebanon is, to say the least, remarkable, and suggests that after all it may have been the porch of that building. If so, the resemblance to the temple would be still more striking], and the breadth [depth?] thereof thirty cubits: and the porch [Heb. a porch] was before them [i.e; the pillars. The words can only mean that a smaller porch stood before the porch of pillars, or colonnade]: and the other [omit] pillars [i.e; the pillars of the minor vestibule or fore porch] and the thick beam [Heb. threshold] were before them. [The broad threshold, approached by steps, and the pillars which it supported, together with the roof which covered them, formed the front part and approach to the larger porch or colonnade.]

1 Kings 7:7

Then he made a porch [or the porch] for the throne where he might Judge [i.e; it was at once audience chamber (throne room, 1 Kings 10:18) and court of justice], even the porch of judgment [Stanley remarks that this "porch, or gate of justice, still kept alive the likeness of the old patriarchal custom of sitting in judgment at the gate." He then refers to the "gate of justice" at Granada and the "Sublime Porte "at Constantinople. It is, perhaps, not quite so certain that "this porch was the gem and centre of the whole empire," or that because it was so much thought of a similar but smaller porch was erected for the queen (1 Kings 7:8)]: and it was covered with cedar from one side of the floor to the other. [Heb. from the floor to the floor, as marg. Gesenius understands these words to mean, "from one floor to the other," i.e; to the cieling (the floor of the other story); in other words, the walls from bottom to top. So the Vulg; a pavimento usque ad summitatem, and Syr; a fundamento ad coelum ejus usque, which have led Thenius to suggest the reading עַד קּוֹרוֹת (unto the beams) instead of עַדהַקַּרְקַע. Keil thinks the ceiling served as the floor of an upper story, built over the porch of judgment, but, as Bähr observes, no such upper story is even hinted at elsewhere. It seems to me that, on the whole, the A.V. rendering is to be retained, the meaning being that the whole space, both of wall and cieling, from one side of the floor to the opposite side, was covered with cedar.]

1 Kings 7:8

And his house where he dwelt [i.e; his private residence. Not to be identified with the" house" of 1 Kings 7:1. The term is here expressly restricted to his dwelling house. There it as clearly includes all the several palaces] had [or was. The "court" is apparently in apposition to "his house." The words in italics, here as elsewhere, merely darken the sense] another [Heb. the hinder] court within [For the use of מִבֵּית לְ = within, compare 1 Kings 6:16; Numbers 18:7, and see Gesen; Thesaur. 1:193] the porch, which was of the like work [i.e; the walls were covered with cedar. The reference is clearly to materials, adornment, etc; not to size]. Solomon made also an house for Pharaoh's daughter, whom he had taken to wife [Heb. he made also a house for whom Solomon had taken, i.e; married], like unto this porch. [This would seem to have been the private residence of the queen, not the harem where all the wives and concubines (1 Kings 11:3) were collected. It was evidently distinct from and behind the residence of the king, an arrangement which still prevails in Eastern palaces.]

1 Kings 7:9

All these [i.e.buildings ,palaces] were of costly [or precious; cf. 1 Kings 5:1-31 and 1 Kings 5:10, 1 Kings 5:11] stones, according to the measures of hewed stones [lit; of squaring or hewing, same word in 1 Kings 5:1-31 (Hebrews), 1 Kings 6:36, and Isaiah 9:9, etc. All the stones in these several buildings were shaped to certain specified dimensions], sawed with saws [גָּרַר is obviously an onomatopoetic word, like our saw. Gesenius cites σαίρω, serro, etc. The Egyptians, whose saws were apparently all single handed, do not seem to have applied this instrument to stone, but part of a double-handed saw was found at Nimrud. That saws were in common use and were made of iron is implied in 2 Samuel 12:31], within and without [It is not quite clear whether the meaning is that the two surfaces exposed to view, one within and the other without, the building were shaped with saws, or that the inner and hidden surface of the stone was thus smoothed as well as the exposed parts], even from the foundation unto the coping [or corbels. It is generally agreed (Gesen; Keil, Bight) that the reference is to the "projecting stones on which the beams rest," though Thenius would understand battlements (Deuteronomy 22:8) to be intended. But for these a different word is always used, and the LXX γεῖσος signifies the projection of the roof, not an erection upon it], and so on the outside toward the great court [i.e; the pavement of the court was of sawed stones (see 2 Samuel 12:12).]

1 Kings 7:10

And the foundation was of costly stones, even great stones [Bähr says, "Even the foundations which from without were not seen, were composed of these great stones." But the meaning evidently is that the foundation stones were larger than those reared upon them], stones of ten cubits [i.e; ten cubits long, and of proportionate width, etc.], and stones of eight cubits. [The foundations of the palaces, consequently, were much less than those of the temple platform, some of which would measure 16 cubits. See note on 1 Kings 5:17.]

1 Kings 7:11

And above [i.e; upon the foundation stones just described] were costly stones, after the measures of hewed stones [It is implied here that the stones of the superstructure were less than those of the foundation. It is also implied that the former were more carefully smoothed and. faced than the latter] and cedars. [Heb. cedar.]

1 Kings 7:12

And the great court round about [The palace, again like the temple, had two courts. The lesser is referred to in 1 Kings 7:8, and was enclosed among the buildings. The great court probably surrounded the entire structure] was [enclosed by a wall] with three rows of hewed stones, and a row of cedar beams [The latter formed the coping. The wall of the court of the palace thus resembled that of the temple. See on 1 Kings 6:36. In all these coincidences we have tokens of the same designing hand], both for the inner court of the house of the Lord. [This sudden digression from the court of the palace to the temple is suspicious, and suggests either a mistranslation or corruption of the text. The historian evidently meant to say that the wall of the court, in its three rows of stones and its cedar coping, resembled the inner court of the temple; and, according to some grammarians (Gesen; Ewald), this meaning may well be conveyed by the text as it stands, וin Hebrew serving sometimes to institute a comparison (Proverbs 25:3, Proverbs 25:12, Proverbs 25:20; Proverbs 26:14, etc.) "As in the court," etc. But the instances just cited, being proverbs or apophthegms, are not strictly parallel with our text. It seems better, on the whole, however, to retain the text in this sense than to replace. וby ,כ reading כלחצר or כחצר for &ולחצר כהחצר (Horsley) is quite inadmissible, as the constr, case never has the art.], and for the porch of the house. [It is almost impossible to decide whether the porch of judgment (1 Kings 6:7) or the porch of the temple is here meant. The immediate context favours the latter. But this does not seem to have had any court or enclosing wall other than the inner court. Rawlinson decides for the porch of judgment, "which," he says, "had a planking of cedar over the stone pavement" (1 Kings 6:7). But 1 Kings 6:7 (where see note) rather excludes than in-eludes the pavement. The reference is probably to the "court within the porch," mentioned in 1 Kings 6:8.]

After this brief account of the royal palaces, the author proceeds to mention the vessels, etc; used in the temple service, prefacing his description by a few words respecting the great Tyrian artist, by whom they were for the most part cast, and possibly designed also.

1 Kings 7:13

And king Solomon sent [rather, had sent (2 Chronicles 2:13)] and fetched Hiram out of Tyre. [This is our historian's brief version of the transaction which is recorded in 2 Chronicles 2:7-14. He has not mentioned before (1 Kings 5:6) Solomon's request for a master builder. Hiram, like his namesake the king, is elsewhere (2 Chronicles 2:18; 2 Chronicles 4:11, 2 Chronicles 4:16) called Huram or Hirom (verse 40). See note on 1 Kings 5:1. In the first of these passages the king calls him "Huram my father" (see note there); in the last he is designated "Huram his father." The title "Ab" (cf. Genesis 45:8, 41, 43; 2 Kings 2:12; 2Ki 5:13; 2 Kings 6:21; cf. 1 Kings 8:9) shows the high esteem in which he was held. It can hardly be, as some have supposed, a proper name. It may signify "counsellor," or master, i.e; master builder. The Tyrians evidently regarded him with some pride.]

1 Kings 7:14

He was a widow's son of the tribe of Naphtali [In 2 Chronicles 2:14 he is described as the "son of a woman of the daughters of Daniel" The discrepancy is only apparent. For in the first place it is not absolutely necessary to understand by Dan the tribe of that name. It may well refer to the town, formerly Leshem (Joshua 19:47), or Laish (Judges 18:7, Judges 18:27), colonised by the Danites, and thenceforward bearing their name (verse 29), which was situated within the borders of Naphtali. If, however, it is preferred to see in the "daughters of Dan" a tribal reference, we may suppose (with Keil, al.) that the woman was originally a Danite, but became, through her first husband, "of the tribe of Naphtali." But the first explanation is the more simple and obvious], and his father was a man of Tyre [i.e; Hiram was the son (not stepson, or adopted son, as the Rabbins) of a mixed marriage. In earlier times Laish had but little intercourse with the Zidonians (Judges 18:28). It is nowhere stated that the inhabitants were of Phoenician extraction; nor can it be justly inferred from this passage], a worker in brass [or copper. Brass is a compound of copper and zinc; but נְחשֶׁת originally and strictly signifies a pure metal (Deuteronomy 8:9; Deuteronomy 33:25, etc.; Job 28:2). There were copper mines in Palestine, and the art of working this metal was known at a very remote period. In later times the word sometimes denoted brass (χαλκός), or copper-bronze Ca mixture of copper and tin). Cf. Jeremiah 6:28. From 2 Chronicles 2:14 we learn that Hiram was "skilful to work in gold and in silver in brass, in iron, in stone, and in timber," etc. From the mention of brass only in this passage, and in verse 45, it has been somewhat hastily concluded that "the work that he personally did for Solomon" was "limited to works in brass" (Rawlinson). It is, perhaps, safer to say that brass only is mentioned here, because the following section treats exclusively of the brazen ornaments, etc; of the sanctuary (Keil). It would almost seem, however (see note on verse 48), as if he was not employed to make the vessels of gold. Nor does this supposition really contradict the statement made below, viz; that he wrought all Solomon's work]: and he was filled with wisdom, and understanding, and cunning [or knowledge, as the same word is rendered Exodus 31:3, where similar language is used of Bezaleel. It is noticeable, however, that the words "filled with the spirit of God," used of the Hebrew, are not applied to the Tyrian workman] to work all works in brass. And he came to king Solomon [probably with a considerable number of assistants], and wrought all his work.

1 Kings 7:15

For he cast two pillars of brass [The process of casting, as practised by the ancients, receives considerable illustration from the paintings of Thebes], of eighteen cubits high apiece [Heb. eighteen cubits was the height of the one column. This was the height of the shaft (cf. 2 Kings 25:17; Jeremiah 52:21). To this must be added the capital (verses 16, 19), which measured five (or, according to some, nine) cubits, and probably the pedestal. The pillars were hollow, the metal being four finger breadths thick (Jeremiah 52:21). In 2 Chronicles 3:15 the height is given as thirty-five cubits—a discrepancy which has been variously explained. According to some writers (e.g; Abravanel, Movers, Wordsworth), this represents the total length of the two pillars (each pillar consequently being 17.5 cubits)—an idea which, perhaps, finds some slight support in the word employed ארֶךְ length. Here it is קוֹמָה height. By others it has been supposed that the total height of base, column, and capital was thirty-five cubits, which, if not incredible, is very improbable. Others think it a part of that systematic reduplication of the heights of edifices by the chronicler, of which we have already had an instance in 2 Chronicles 6:1-42. (where see note). But the true explanation would seem to be that, by a clerical error, thirty-five (לה) has been substituted in the text for eighteen (יח). So Keil and Bähr]: and a line [or thread] of twelve cubits did compass either of them [Heb. the second column] about. [It must not be supposed, from the fact that the height of the one column is given, and the circumference of the other, that they were dissimilar in height and breadth or girth. There has probably been an accidental abbreviation of the full expression, "Eighteen cubits was the height of the one pillar, and eighteen cubits was the height of the other pillar; and a line of twelve cubits compassed the one pillar, and a line of twelve cubits compassed the other pillar." It is just possible, however, that the peculiarity results from the actual system of measurement employed in this case. As they were castings, it would be needless to measure both pillars, and so the length may have been ascertained from the first, and the breadth from the second. The columns would thus be about twenty-seven feet high, and about six feet in diameter.]

1 Kings 7:16

And he made two chapiters [or capitals] of molten [Heb. poured] brass, to put upon the tops [Heb. heads] of the pillars: the height of the one chapiter was five cubits, and the height of the other chapiter was five cubits [In 2 Kings 25:17 the height is given as three cubits; but this is obviously a clerical error. See 2 Chronicles 3:15; Jeremiah 52:22. A much more important question is whether the chapiter (כֹתֶרֶת same word, akin to כֶתֶר, crown) of four cubits mentioned in Jeremiah 52:19 is to be understood as a part of this chapiter, or something additional and superposed, the entablature, e.g. The former appears the more probable. See note on Jeremiah 52:19. But it is not a fatal objection to the latter view that it would make the entire chapiter, or both members, nine cubits high; no less, that is, than one-half the length of the shaft. No doubt to modern ideas this appears wholly disproportionate; but a double chapiter, bearing the same proportion to the shaft, is found in some of the buildings of Persepolis. From the expression of verses 41, 42, "the bowls of the chapiters" (cf. 2 Chronicles 4:12, 2 Chronicles 4:13; Jeremiah 52:23), and the word "belly" (בֶּטֶן) in Jeremiah 52:20, we gather that the chapiters were bowl shaped, or bellied out something like the so called "cushion capital" in Norman architecture.

1 Kings 7:17

And nets [Gesen; lattice; Keil, plait. "It seems almost in vain to try and speculate on what was the exact form of the decoration of these celebrated pillars. The nets of checker work, and wreaths of chain work, etc; are all features applicable to metal architecture; and though we know that the old Tartar races did use metal architecture everywhere, and especially in bronze, from the very nature of the material, every specimen has perished, and we have now no representations from which we can restore them" (Fergusson, Dict. Bib. l.c.)] of checker work [the Hebrew repeats the word: nets of network, or plaits of work of plait], and wreaths [or cords, twisted work, i.e; festoons] of chain work [the wreathed or twisted festoon probably resembled a chain], for [or, to, i.e; were on] the chapiters which were upon the top of the pillars; seven for the one chapiter, and seven for the other chapiter [The LXX. having hero δίκτυον, it is clear that the text they had read שבכה "a net," and not שבעה "seven." Some, accordingly, would read, "a net for the one chapiter, and a net," etc. But there is no sufficient reason for the change. "This decoration consisted of seven twists arranged as festoons, which were hung round the capitals of the pillars" (Keil). The comparison with "chain work" was probably suggestd by the fact that the intertwined threads, which crossed and recrossed each other, bore a rough resemblance to the links of a chain.

1 Kings 7:18

And he made the pillars [There is evidently a confusion of the text here. Probably we should read, with some MSS. הרמנים, the pomegranates (so LXX.), instead of העמודים, or rather, we should transpose the two words, reading pomegranates where the Masoretic text has pillars, and vice versa. "The pomegranate was one of the commonest ornaments of Assyria.… It is doubtful whether a symbolical meaning was attached to it, or whether it was merely selected as a beautiful natural form" (Rawlinson). Wordsworth characteristically sees in its many ripe seeds, "an expressive emblem of fruitfulness in good works." According to Bähr, it is an image of the law or covenant of Jehovah, and the seeds represent the separate commands. In the tabernacle it was pourtrayed in works of divers colours on the hem of the robe of the ephod (Exodus 28:33, Exodus 28:34; Exodus 39:24). All the Scripture notices of this fruit prove its great abundance in Palestine (Numbers 13:23; Joshua 15:32; Joshua 21:25 ;—in the two last passages it appears as the name of a town—Song of Solomon 4:3, Song of Solomon 4:13; Song of Solomon 8:2; Joel 1:12; Haggai 2:9, etc.) It was also well known to the Egyptians (Numbers 20:5)], and [or even] two rows round about upon the one network ["The relation between the two rows of pomegranates and the plaited work is not clearly defined, but it is generally and correctly assumed that one row ran round the pillars below the plaited work and the other above" (Keil). The pomegranates, one hundred in number in each row (2 Chronicles 3:16), four hundred in all (2 Chronicles 4:13; Jeremiah 52:23), would thus form a double border to the chain work], to cover the chapiters that were upon the top, with pomegranates [rather, on the top of the pillars, as the transposition mentioned above and the sense require]; and so did he for the other chapiter.

1 Kings 7:19

And the chapiters that were upon the top of the pillars [It is difficult to believe that these words, which are identical with those in 1 Kings 7:16, 1 Kings 7:17,1 Kings 7:18, can refer to a different—a second and superposed capital (Rawlinson), or to the entablature (Fergusson)] were of lily work [i.e; bassirelievi in imitation of flowering lilies. Probably the bowl-shaped chapiter was treated as a fullblown lily, just as the capitals of Egyptian pillars took the form of the lotus. The molten sea was similarly treated (1 Kings 7:26). The lily (שׁוּשַׁן), from שׁוּשׁ), to be white), was undoubtedly an emblem of purity. Bähr observes that it may justly be named "the flower of the promised land," and that as the lotus was the religious flower of the Indian and Egyptian religions, so was the lily of the Jewish] in the porch [These words, בָּאוּלָם, are very obscure. Keil understands" as in the hall" (cf. κατὰ τὸ αὐλὰμ, LXX.) But that idea would have been expressed by כָאוּלָם, and nothing is said elsewhere about any lily work in the porch (Bähr). Ewald, too, thinks the decoration of the porch is referred to, and holds that a description of this lily work must once have preceded this statement, though it is now wanting. Thenius, al. suppose them to refer to the position of the pillars within the porch, and the "four cubits" mentioned presently, they take to indicate the diameter of the capitals. Wordsworth would render "inside or toward the porch," and understands that the lily work was only on the inside of the pillars. It is, perhaps, impossible to arrive at any certain conclusion], four cubits. [This may either mean that of five cubits (which was the height of the entire capital), four, and these the upper four (1 Kings 7:22), were covered with lily work, while one cubit at the bottom of the capital was ornamented with chain-work or festeons—we can hardly believe that nets, chains, and lily work were all combined in the same space, or it may refer to the position of the pillars in the portico.]

1 Kings 7:20

And the chapiters upon the two pillars had pomegranates [Instead of the italics, Keil would supply Hiram made, but it is doubtful whether this is any improvement. We have already heard more than once that he made the chapiters. It is better to supply projected or were, as in the preceding verse. This verse is extremely obscure; but its design appears to be to explain how the bowl of the chapiter projected above its base] also above [i.e; above the neck, or lowest cubit, on which was the net and chain work], over against [מִלְּעֻמַּת with two prefixes is a rare form] the belly [or "bowl" (1 Kings 7:41)] which was by [Heb. beyond, on the other side of, i.e; as it appeared to a spectator standing below] the network: and the pomegranates were two hundred in rows [This agrees with the total of four hundred, as given in verse 42, and in 2 Chronicles, and with the "hundred round about" (i.e; the number in each row) mentioned in Jeremiah 52:23. We gather from this latter passage that ninety-six out of the hundred faced the four quarters, for this is apparently the meaning of רוּחָה, windwards; see Ezekiel 42:16-18, not that the pomegranates could be "set in motion by the play of the wind," as Ewald confidently affirms. The remaining four pomegranates, of course, occupied the four corners. The necessary inference from this statement, viz; that this part of the capital was foursquare, seems to have escaped the notice of the commentators] round about upon the other chapiter. [Some words have evidently dropped out of the Hebrew here, as in Ezekiel 42:15. The text, no doubt, originally stood "two hundred in rows round about the one chapiter, and two hundred in rows round about upon the other chapiter." There has been no intentional compression that is not the genius of the Semitic languages—but an accidental omission, occasioned by the recurrence of almost identical words.

1 Kings 7:21

And he set up the pillars in the porch [We are now confronted by the much vexed questions,

(1) What was the position, and

(2) what the purpose, of these two columns?

Were they in the porch, or before it? And were they architectural or monumental? Did they support the roof of the porch, or were they isolated and detached, after the manner of obelisks? I incline to the opinion of Bähr, that they stood in the porch, but that they formed no part of the building, i.e; that they were not for any structural use, but simply for ornament. This appears to me, on the whole, to result from the following considerations:

(1) The language used favours a position within the porch. We have here לְאֻלָם (="at or in the porch," perhaps for the porch, as Bähr), and in 1 Kings 7:19 (where see note) בָּאוּלָם. And with this agree the expression of the Chronicles "before (לִפְגֵי) the house," and "before (עַל־פְּנֵי) the temple" (2 Chronicles 3:15, 2 Chronicles 3:17). The pillars would, however, be "before the temple," whether they stood within or in front of the porch, and it may be safely allowed that the language of the historian is not decisive one way or the other. The prepositions of the text, however, seem to lend some support to Bähr's view.

(2) We know that the Phoenicians used isolated metal columns as sacred ornaments, so that Hiram would be familiar with such a mode of ornamentation" (Rawlinson). "Whenever in coins or histories we get a representation of a Phoenician temple, it always has a pillar or pillars standing within or before it" (Stanley).

(3) It is extremely doubtful whether these columns, twenty-three feet in height, were adapted to serve as supports to the roof of the porch. The height of the latter has been variously estimated at twenty, thirty, and sixty cubits, and whichever estimate is preferred, the columns would appear to be of an unsuitable altitude. Fergusson says they were "appropriate to support the roof of the porch," but then he conceives the columns to be in all twenty-seven cubits high (see on 1 Kings 7:19), and allows the remaining three cubits for the slope of the roof). But, as we cannot be certain either of the height of the porch or of the column, this is an argument of which very little can be made.

(4) If the pillars were part of the building, they would almost certainly have been of the same material, i.e; wood or stone. Their metallic composition is certainly an argument for their monumental character. It can hardly be alleged in favour of this view, however, that they are mentioned amongst the vessels or articles of furniture, for the historian might fittingly describe the pillars here, as being the principal of the "works in brass" which Hiram wrought, even if they did form the supports of the roof of the porch. Nor are we justified, considering the extreme brevity and the partial character of the description of the temple, in affirming that they would have been mentioned in connexion with the building, had they formed part of the edifice.

(5) The remark of Stieglitz (cited by Bähr) that "it was their separate position alone which gave these pillars the impressive aspect they were designed to wear," lends some little support to this view. So also does

(6) The fact that these columns and these alone, received special names. "No architectural portion of the building received a name" (Keil). But this argument, again, is not too unduly pressed, for to some it may seem that the names they bore would have a special propriety and an enhanced significance, if the columns contributed to the strength and stability of the edifice. The question, therefore, is one of considerable complexity, the more so, as it is maintained that it would be almost impossible to construct a roof thirty feet in width without some such pillars to support the beam (Fergusson); but the balance of evidence appears to favour the view that Jachin and Boaz were monuments erected in the porch, to dignify the sanctuary, and to symbolize the power and eternity of the Being to whom it was dedicated]: and he set up the right pillar, and called the name thereof Jachin [i.e; he shall establish, as marg. The name expressed the belief that God would preserve and protect the new lane. It is true that a Jachin is mentioned (1 Chronicles 9:10; 1 Chronicles 24:17), as head of the 21st course of priests in the reign of David, while a Boaz was one of Solomon's ancestors, but the columns could hardly be named after them, or an private persons. Ewald suggests that they were named after "some favourites of the time, perhaps young sons of Solon on." The idea of Thenius that these names were engraved upon the pillars is not wholly improbable, though of course it finds no support in the text] and he set up the left pillar [the left as one faced them from the house. The right hand is identified with the south in 1 Kings 7:39], and called the name thereof Boaz. [Marg. in it is strength. Probably "in Him, i.e; God, is its strength" (cf. Isaiah 45:24). The thought of Jachin, "He will establish," is thus continued; and the two pillars pointed alike to the God of Israel as the true support and upholder of His sanctuary. The LXX. interpretation of these two names, Κατόρθωσις and Ἰσχός (2 Chronicles 3:17), success and strength, though very far from literal, preserves their fundamental ideas.

1 Kings 7:22

And upon the top of the pillars was lily work [a repetition, in the Hebrew manner, of 1 Kings 7:19. The "lily work," which probably involved two things,

(1) that the capital had a rude resemblance to a "full blown lily cup" (Bähr), and

(2) that representations of the leaf of the lily ere pourtrayed upon it, was a not unfitting finial to the column, as it formed a sort of crown or chaplet upon it. The two pillars would thus resemble two giant plants, the column answering to the stalk, the capital to the flower. The ideas of architecture, it is well known, have very frequently been derived from the vegetable kingdom.

1 Kings 7:23

The writer now passes on to describe the brazen vessels made by Hiram for the temple use. And he made a [Heb. the] molten sea [so called on account of its unprecedented size and capacity. It was designed, like the laver of brass in the tabernacle (Exodus 30:18-20), to contain the water necessary for the ablutions of the priests. For its size and shape see below], ten cubits from the one brim to the other [Heb. from his lip to his lip] round all about [i.e; circular], and his height was five cubits [this was the depth of the vessel, exclusive of its foot or base]: and a line of thirty cubits did compass It round about. [The historian obviously uses round numbers when he speaks of the diameter as ten and the circumference as thirty cubits. If the diameter was exactly ten, the circumference would of course be about 31.5 cubits. But the sacred writers seldom aim at precision.

1 Kings 7:24

And under the brim of it round about [The edge of the laver was curved outwards (1 Kings 7:26)] there were knops [see note on 1 Kings 6:18. The text of 2 Chronicles 4:3, בקרים ("the similitude of oxen"), is obviously a clerical error for פקעים (Keil), hut whether דמות is an interpolation may well be doubted. Keil thinks it was introduced to explain the mention of oxen] compassing [Heb. surrounding, some word] it, ten in a cubit [It does not follow from this that each gourd or knop was "a little over two inches in diameter " (Keil), for they may not have been in close contact, and, moreover the cubit was probably 18 inches], compassing the sea round about : the ]mops were cast in two rows, when it was cast. [Lit; two rows; the knops were cast in its casting. The "brass," of which the laver was composed, had been taken by David from the cities of Hadarezer (1 Chronicles 18:8; 1 Samuel 8:8, LXX.)]

1 Kings 7:25

It stood [Heb. standing] upon twelve oxen [The import of the number twelve is well explained by. Bähr, Symbolik, 1:201 sqq. Like seven, it is compounded out of three and four. But the primary reference here is to the twelve tribes], three looking toward the north, and three looking toward the west, and three looking toward the south, and three looking toward the east [So the tribes in the camp formed a square round the tabernacle, three on each side—east, south, west, and north (Numbers 2:1-34.)]: and the sea was set above upon them, and all their hinder parts were inward. [.The same regard of the cardinal points has been noticed in the pomegranates on the capitals of the two columns. See note on verse 20. Keil says the feet of the oxen no doubt rested on a metal plate, so that they were fixed and immoveable; but this lacks proof. The oxen would be immovable in any case, owing to the weight of the metal and the water. All conjectures as to the height and size of the oxen are necessarily of little value.

1 Kings 7:26

And it was a handbreadth thick [i.e; three inches], and the brim thereof was wrought like the brim of a cup [Heb. and his lip like the work of the lip of a cup, i.e; curved outwards], with flowers of lilies [lit; "a blossom of lily." Keil understands "ornamented with lily flowers," but the strict interpretation the "lily blossom" being in apposition to "cup"—requires us to refer the words to the shape rather than to the ornamentation of the laver. The lip was curved like a lily]: it contained two thousand [In Chronicles and by Josephus the number is given as 3000. This may have resulted, as Keil thinks, from confounding גand בbut it is suspicious that so many of the numbers of the Chronicles are exaggerations. The common explanation of the discrepancy, viz; that it held 2000 baths "when filled to its ordinary height, but when filled to the brim 3000" (Wordsworth), appears to me hardly ingenuous] baths. ["The data for determining the value of the bath or ephah are both scanty and conflicting". Josephus, the only authority on the subject, says that it equalled the Attic metretes (about 8.5 gals.), but it is very doubtful whether he was "really familiar with the Greek measures" (ib.) At any rate, if this statement is correct, his other statement as to the shape of the laver must be altogether erroneous, since 2000 baths would equal 17,000 gals; and a hemispherical laver could not possibly have contained more than 10,000. The attempt has been made, on the assumption that the sea was a hemisphere, as Josephus affirms, to calculate from its capacity the value of the bath, which in that case would be about four gallons. But there is good reason for doubting whether the laver was hemispherical—such a shape would be ill adapted to its position on the backs of oxen—and some have maintained that it was cylindrical, others that, like the laver of the tabernacle, it had a foot (Exodus 30:18) or basin. The prevailing opinion of scholars, however, appears to be that it was 30 cubits in circumference only at the lip, and that it bellied out considerably below. While the shape, however, must remain a matter of uncertainty, we are left in no doubt as to its purpose. It was "for the priests to wash in" (2 Chronicles 4:6)—not, of course, for immersing their whole persons, but their hands and feet (Exodus 30:19, Exodus 30:21). The priests (after Exodus 3:5; Joshua 5:15, etc.) ministered barefoot. It was, according to Rabbinical tradition, provided with taps or faucets (Bähr). It has, however, been held by some that the water issued forth (as in the Alhambra) from the lions' mouths. It is probable that a basin of some sort was attached to it. Whether the laver was filled by the hand or by some special contrivance, it is quite impossible to say. We know that provision was made for storing water hard by. The present writer was privileged in 1861 to explore the great reservoir, the Bähr el Khebir, still existing underneath the Haram area, at a time when very few Europeans had seen it. The water was probably brought from Solomon's pools at Bethlehem, though "a fountain of water exists in the city and is running unto this day, far below the surface". Tacitus mentions the fens perennis aquae and the piscinae cisternaeque servandis imbribus.

1 Kings 7:27

And he made ten bases [or stands, מְכוֹנוֹת, from כוּן, erectus stetit. The description of both the bases and the layers which they supported (1 Kings 7:27-39) is extremely obscure. We know, however, that the bases (as the name implies) were simply stands or pediments for the lavers] of brass; four cubits was the length of one base and four cubits the breadth thereof; and three cubits the height of it [they were rectangular, or box shaped, six feet square and four and a half feet high.

1 Kings 7:28

And the work of the bases was on this manner [Heb. and this the work of the base]: they had borders [מִסְגְּרֹת (from סָגַר, clausit) means strictly enclosings, i.e; sides, forming the stand. They were panels, because of the borders or ledges [mentioned presently, but this was the accident of their construction. The translation "border" gives a totally wrong impression], and the borders were between the ledges [Heb. the sides were between the borders, i.e; were enclosed by ledges or frames.

1 Kings 7:29

And on the borders [panels] that were between the ledges were lions [i.e; figures or bas-reliefs of lions], oxen, and cherubims ["The lion and the ox are the two animal forms which occur most frequently in Assyrian decoration" (Rawlinson). They have also found a place through the cherubim, in the symbolism of Christianity]: and upon the ledges there was a base above [i.e; there was a pedestal or stand (כֵן; see 1 Kings 7:31) of some sort for the laver upon the square basis]: and beneath the lions and oxen were certain additions [Heb. wreaths, festoons, לִוְיָה. (cf. Proverbs 1:9), corona] made of thin work. [Heb. pensile or hanging work, מוֹרָד from יָרַד descendit; Vulgate, dependentia. It would seem that on the panel, beneath the figures of animals, etc; were sculptured hanging festoons of flowers.

1 Kings 7:30

And every base had four brazen wheels [As the lavers were used for washing "such things as they offered for burnt offering" (2 Chronicles 4:6), and consequently would require to be continually emptied and refilled, they must of necessity be moveable, so that they could be taken, now to the sea, or other reservoir, now to the altar], and plates [Heb. axles] of brass: and the four corners [Heb. feet; פַּעַם signifies step, thence foot, and is here used of artificial feet. These were, no doubt, at the four corners, and served to raise the stand above the wheels, so that the foliage, etc; was not hidden] thereof had undersetters [Heb. shoulders. "The bearings of the axle" (Gesen.) must be meant. The bases had four feet, which apparently terminated in a sort of socket or fork, into which the axletrees were inserted]: under the laver were under setters [Heb. the shoulders] molten [or cast], at the side of every addition. [Lit; opposite to a man (i.e; each) were wreaths. The explanation of Keil is that "from the feet; there ascended shoulder pieces, which ran along the outside of the chest and reached to the lower part of the basin, which was upon the lid of the chest, and, as shoulders, either supported or helped to support it." He thus understands the "shoulder" to extend from the foot, or axletree, to the bottom of the laver. But it seems quite as likely that these shoulders were within the stand; that they started from its upper corners, i.e; "from under the laver" (as in the Hebrew), passed down along its inner angles, and emerged below—the stand may well have had no bottom—in the shape of feet or forks, which rested on the axletrees, and supported both stand and ]aver. Over against this internal shoulder blade or support was placed externally a wreath. But Bähr despairs of arriving at any just and adequate understanding of this arrangement, and, in the absence of drawings, it is perhaps hopeless that we shall ever interpret the words with certainty.]

1 Kings 7:31

And the mouth of it [Heb. his mouth. I incline, with Keil, to think the mouth of the laver just mentioned (כִיֹר masc.) is referred to rather than the stand (Thenius), which would require a fern. suffix] within the chapiter [By this we are, perhaps, to understand a round ornament, resembling the capital of a pillar, which stood in the centre of the dome-shaped covering (see verse 35) of the stand, and on which the laver rested (so Keil, Bähr). Rawlinson says, "No commentator has given a satisfactory explanation of this passage "]: and above [Heb. upwards] was a cubit [i.e; the neck or foot of the laver measured uniformly one cubit, in width apparently]: but the mouth [Heb. and her mouth, fern. This last mentioned mouth is probably the mouth of the capital (fern.) The neck or mouth of the laver would appear to have been fitted into the mouth of the crown-shaped pedestal] was round after the work of the base [Heb. stand work, כֵן here fixes the meaning of the word in verse 29, i.e; it decides it to be the substantive (Keil, after Chald.), not the adverb (as Thenius, Bähr, al.) a cubit and a half [so that the first mouth would fit easily into the second], and also upon the mouth of it [Heb. her mouth, that of the capital, which was external. The mouth of the laver was partially concealed] were gravings [Keil understands this of the carving of the stand already mentioned, verse 29. But a mouth is mentioned, which the square stand lacked. Besides the word "also" points to additional carvings. I understand the chapiter which formed the mouth of the stand to be meant] with [Heb. and] their borders, foursquare, not round. [i.e; the capital had panels like the stand, and the former, like those of the latter, were square.]

1 Kings 7:32

And under the borders [i.e; panels] were four [Heb. the four i.e; those mentioned in verse 30] wheels ["The wheels reached no higher than that portion of the sides of the base which was ornamented with garlands" (Rawlinson). It would be more correct to say that the wheels did not cover any portion of the sides; they were under them]; and the axletrees [Heb. hands, as holding the wheel to the base or stand. Axletrees is altogether misleading. The hands were the parts connecting the wheels and axles] of the wheels were joined to [Heb. in, as marg.] the base: and the height of a wheel was a cubit and half a cubit. [i.e; 27 inches.]

1 Kings 7:33

And the work of the wheels was like the work of a chariot wheel [Heb. the chariot, i.e; the ordinary chariot]: their axletrees [Heb. hands], and their naves [Gesenius understands rims. He derives גַּב, gibbus, from גָּבַב, curvatus est] , and their felloes [or fellies, as the word is now written. These axe the parts which compose the circumference of the wheel; but Gesen. translates spokes, because they are the joinings (חָשַק conjunxit) of nave and rim] and their spokes [חִשֻּׁרִים Gesen. would render naves, because the spokes collect at that part], were all molten.

1 Kings 7:34

And there were four under setters [it seems probable that this is not a repetition of 1 Kings 7:30 (Rawlinson), but that the reference is to the upper part (cf. 1 Kings 7:35) of the shoulder pieces, which, according to Keil's view, supported the laver] to the four corners of one base: and the undersetters were of the very base itself. [Heb. from the base, its shoulders. Whether these words mean that the shoulders projected from the base, that "they rose above the corners with a slight curve" (Keil), or that they were cast with the base, i.e; from the same mould, as in the next verse, it is impossible to say.]

1 Kings 7:35

And in the top [Heb. head] of the base was there a round compass [Probably "the base above" (verse 29)or stand for the laver. This was apparently arched to the height of nine inches above the top of the base] of half a cubit high: and on the top of the base the ledges [Heb. hands. These can hardly be either "the hands of the wheels" (verse 32) or the "shoulders" of verse 30 or verse 34, but what they were it is difficult to say. They may have been arms or projections supporting the laver] thereof and the borders thereof were of the same. [Heb. from it, sc; of one piece or casting.]

1 Kings 7:36

For on the plates of the ledges [hands] thereof; and on the borders [sides, panels] thereof, he graved cherubims, lions, and palm trees, according to the proportion [Heb. nakedness, hence naked space, void. The meaning is that he filled all the spaces with carvings] of every one, and additions [wreaths, festoons] round about.

1 Kings 7:37

After this manner he made the ten bases: all of them had one casting, one measure, and one size.

1 Kings 7:38

Then made he ten layers of brass: one laver contained forty baths [i.e; about 340 gals; if we accept the account of Josephus, Ant 1 Kings 8:2.1 Kings 8:9. But see on 1 Kings 8:26]: and every laver was four cubits. [It is uncertain whether the height or the diameter is meant. Keil decides for the latter—and four cubits, the width of the sides of the stand, may well have been also the diameter of the basin—on the ground that as" the basins were set upon (עַל) the stands," it can hardly refer to the height. But it is worthy of remark that "the height of all the ether parts has been mentioned" (Rawlinson). See 1 Kings 8:27, 1Ki 8:32, 1 Kings 8:35, and without this particular we could not calculate the entire height, which, if the laver were four cubits, would be about thirteen feet. This surprising size is accounted for by remembering the height of the altar, to which the fat and other sacrificial portions had to be transferred from the laver]: and upon every one of the ten bases one laver. [Ten layers would not be at all too many when we remember the prodigious number of victims which were occasionally offered.]

1 Kings 7:39

And he put five bases on the right side [Heb. shoulder] of the house, and five on the left side of the house [i.e; on the south and north sides of the court of the priests]: and he set the sea on the right side of the house eastward over against the south. [This passage is decisive as to which was the right and which the left. The right side was the south. It was probably for convenience that the sea did not stand due east of the house, i.e; between the porch and altar.]

1 Kings 7:40

And Hiram made the layers [So the Rec. Text. But perhaps we ought to read סִירוֹת, i.e; pots, here, as in 1 Kings 7:45 and 2 Chronicles 4:11. This word is joined with shovels and basons, not only in these two passages, but also in Exodus 27:3, 2 Kings 25:14, Jeremiah 52:18; in other words, the appropriate term in this connexion would be "pots," while "layers," having been just mentioned in verse 38, would involve an idle repetition. Altogether, therefore, there can be little doubt that we should here read הסירות for הכירות. It is apparently the reading of the Chald; LXX; and some MSS. These" pots "were used, not for carrying away the ashes (Keil), but, as the name implies (סִיר, effervescere), for boiling the flesh of the peace offering (1 Samuel 2:13, 1 Samuel 2:14), and the shovels [these, again, as the name implies, were used for taking away the ashes from the altar (Exodus 27:3; Numbers 4:14), and the basons. [The sacrificial bowls for receiving the blood of the victims (Exodus 38:3; Numbers 4:14).] So Hiram made an end of doing all the work [the writer now recapitulates the work of Hiram. The repetition may be due to the fact that the history was compiled from various lists and documents] that he made king Solomon for [Heb. omits the prep.] the house of the Lord.

1 Kings 7:41

The [Heb. omits the art. and reads pillars, two] 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. [See on verses 16-20.]

1 Kings 7:42

And four hundred pomegranates [Heb. the pomegranates, 400] for the two networks, even two rows of pomegranates for one network, to cover the two bowls of the chapiters that were upon the pillars [Heb. upon the face of the pillars]. A chapiter could hardly be correctly described as עַל־פְּנֵי הע. It is probable that this is a clerical error, and that we should read עַל־פְּנֵי הע (Bähr, Keil), "upon the two pillars." So LXX. ἐπ ἀμφοτέροις κ.τ.λ. This is a more likely emendation than עַל ראֹשׁ. It is true thin latter is the reading of some MSS; and is followed by the Syr. and Vulg; but it can easily be accounted for, being a repetition of the last words of verse 41, while it fails to account, as the first named emendation does, for the עַל־פְנֵי.

1 Kings 7:43

And the ten bases and the ten lavers [Heb. "the bases, ten and the lavers, ten "] on the bases. [See on verses 27-37.]

1 Kings 7:44

And one [Heb. the one] sea and twelve oxen [Heb. the oxen twelve] under the sea frets. 23-26].

1 Kings 7:45

And the pots [see on 1 Kings 7:40], and the shovels, and the basons, and all these vessels [according to the Keri] which Hiram made [There is no mention of the altar, as in 2 Chronicles 4:1, possibly because it was not made by Hiram (Bähr)] to [rather, for] king Solomon for [Heb. omits] the house of the Lord, were of bright brass. [Marg. made bright, i.e; polished after casting.]

1 Kings 7:46

In the plain [Heb. Ciccar, i.e; circle or circuit, the word used only of the Ghor or Jordan valley. This tract is called "The Ciccar" Genesis 13:11, Genesis 19:17, etc. See Stanley, "Sinai and Palestine," App; § 12] of Jordan [in the Heb. this river ("the descender") always takes the art.] did the king cast them, in the clay ground [Heb. as marg. in the thickness of the ground. Whether the soil was made thick by stamping (Keil) it is impossible to say. It looks as if this site had been chosen because the soil was suitable] between Succoth [Genesis 33:17. It appears from Judges 8:5 that it lay east of the Jordan (cf. Joshua 13:27, where it allotted to the tribe of Gad); "and indeed it has been recovered, under its later name Tarala, at Tell Dar'ala, northeast of the Damieh ford". As Zarthan was almost certainly west of the Jordan, and as the casting—from the nature of the country—must as certainly have been done to the west of the river it is somewhat surprising to find a trans-Jordanie town mentioned as one of the landmarks defining the site. It is possible that there was a western Succoth—a place named Sakut was discovered by Robinson and Van de velde, a few miles south of Bethshean; but this name is radically different (Conder). It is, therefore, more probable that, being near the ford of the river this place was so well known that it would serve better than any of the less familiar western towns to identify the site of the foundry] and Zarthan. [See note on 1 Kings 4:12.]

1 Kings 7:47

And Solomon left all the vessels unweighed [the interpretation of the A.V. italics is justified by the next clauses] because they were exceeding many: neither was the weight of the brass found out. [Marg. searched. So Gesen. al. This does not mean that the "brass for each vessel was not weighed out" (Bähr), but that the total weight of the metal was not, perhaps could not, be ascertained.]

The sacred record now proceeds to enumerate the vessels, etc; used inside the temple—those hitherto described having been for external use. These latter, as became the furniture of a house which blazed in gold, were all of gold, while the former were of brass. It would seem to be a fair inference, from the omission of Hiram's name, that he was not employed on the manufacture of these latter vessels.

1 Kings 7:48

And Solomon made all the vessels which pertained unto [neither word in Heb.] the house of the Lord: the altar of gold [the altar of incense. See on 1 Kings 6:20, 1 Kings 6:22] and the table of gold [The Heb. shows the meaning to be, He made the table out of gold, not "He made the golden table," as Keil. 2 Chronicles 4:8 (cf. 2 Chronicles 4:19 and 1 Chronicles 28:16) speaks of ten tables] whereupon the shewbread was.

1 Kings 7:49

And the candlesticks [Exodus 25:31-37; Exodus 37:17-24. According to Jewish tradition, the seven-branched candlestick was preserved in the temple in addition to the ten named here] of pure [Heb. shut] gold, five on the right side and five on the left, before the oracle ["These are said to have formed a sort of railing before the vail, and to have been connected by golden chains under which, on the day of atonement, the high priest crept" (Dict. Bib. 1:249). The idea that the ten candlesticks rested on the ten tables mentioned in the Chronicles is. entirely groundless. Eleven tables would in that case have been necessary (Bähr). Besides we are distinctly told that the tables were for the shewbread (2 Chronicles 4:19), not for the candlesticks], with the flowers [ornaments of the candlestick (Exodus 25:31)], and the lamps [the seven extremities of the candlestick which held the oil and the wicks (verse 37). It is highly probable that the temple candlesticks were fashioned after that of the tabernacle], and the tongs

signifies to sprinkle, they were probably either for the water or the blood of sprinkling. Keil thinks they were for the wine of the libations], and the spoons [כַפוֹת, lit; palms (of hands), hence used of shallow vessels (Exodus 25:29; Numbers 7:84, Numbers 7:86. The last cited passage (cf. Numbers 7:14, Numbers 7:20, Numbers 7:26) shows that they were used for the incense (Le Numbers 24:7, etc.), LXX. θυίσκαι], and the censers [or snuffers, extinguishers ; marg. ash-pans. In Exodus 25:38 the word is translated snuff, dishes. In Numbers 4:14, Numbers 16:6, it signifies censers, which may well be the meaning here] of pure gold; and the hinges [or sockets of the hinges (Gesen; Keil)] of gold, both for the doors of the inner house, the most holy place [Heb. for the holy of holies], and for the doors of the house, to wit, of the temple. [These were evidently of inferior (not pure) metal.]

1 Kings 7:51

So was ended all the work that king Solomon made for the house of the Lord. And Solomon brought in the things which David his father had dedicated [marg. holy things of David (2Sa 8:8, 2 Samuel 8:10, 2 Samuel 8:11; 1Ch 22:3, 1 Chronicles 22:14, 1 Chronicles 22:16; 1 Chronicles 28:14-18). Cf. 26:26-28]; even the surer, and the gold, and the vessels, did he put among the treasures of the house of the Lord. [So that all the store of precious metal and the brass that David had prepared was not absorbed in the decoration and furniture of the temple. There would seem to have been a considerable overplus, which was stored in the temple treasury.]


1 Kings 7:15-22

The Pillars of Brass.

If, as some think, the importance of any Scripture subject is to be gauged by the space assigned to it in the sacred page, then surely the fact that eight long verses of this chapter are occupied with the description of these two columns and their capitals proves, first, their importance in the eyes of Jewish writers, and, secondly, that they must have a significance for the minds of Christian readers. But the importance of these monuments (which is also attested

(1) by their position—in the very forefront of the temple—the first objects that would strike the eye of the beholder—and

(2) by their isolation—they were apparently unconnected with the edifice and served a purpose of their own) is not due to what they were in themselves. No doubt they were regarded in that age as wonderful works of art. Probably they were the largest castings either accomplished or attempted up to that date. And from the minute details of their capitals, the chequer work, chain work, net work, lily work—details evidently recorded with some degree of pride and wonderment on the part of the historian—we may reasonably infer that there "were not the like made in any kingdom" (1 Kings 10:20). But it is not because of this that so much prominence is accorded to them in Scripture; it is because of their connexion with the temple. Their glory is reflected on them from the sanctuary. They are mentioned "because of the house of the Lord our God," of which they were the handmaids and ornaments. We are led, therefore, to inquire—



I. But in order to arrive at their meaning, we must first consider their purpose. We have seen that they were not structural, but monumental (note on 1 Kings 7:21); in fact they served instead of an inscription upon the building. The Western world, with its love of the concrete, often stamps its great edifices with appropriate legends. But the children of the East have ever preferred the mystical teaching of symbolism. For them there has always been a charm in "the view of things half seen." And so the Jewish temple bore no letters on its front, but its representative pillars stood forth, embodiments in themselves of the ideas of the building, and silently proclaimed its object and character. And this is the teaching they had for the wise—

1. That the temple was strong and firm and lasting. Their very materials proclaimed this. They were not of perishing wood or stone, but of enduring bronze. Then, they were of unusual girth in proportion to their height, for whereas the shaft was 12 cubits in circumference, it was but 18 cubits high (Jeremiah 52:21). The first impression they gave, consequently, would be that of strength, of fixity, and so they spoke, by their very character as well as by their names, of the stability of the house. It was no longer a tent (cf. Isaiah 38:12), it was a house of cedar (2 Samuel 7:2), it was a κτῆμα ἐς ἀεί The two columns, that is to say, served instead of these two inscriptions, "I have surely built thee a house to dwell in, a settled place for thee to abide in forever" (1 Kings 8:18), and" This is my rest forever here will I dwell, for I have desired it" (Psalms 132:14).

2. That its strength and stability were in God. Of course this is an idea which symbolism could only express imperfectly. And yet it may be (as some have thought) that the brazen pillars would recall to some minds the pillar of cloud, the token of God's presence. And if we may see in the steeple a "silent finger . pointing to the sky," then surely these erect columns may have carried men's thoughts upwards to the throne of God. But if not, the names, Jachin, Boaz, at any rate, witnessed for Him and proclaimed Him to all as the hope and stay of the new sanctuary. It was, therefore, as if in the place of pillars these superscriptions also had been conspicuous on the temple: for Jachin—"God is in the midst of her; she shall not be removed;" and for Boaz—"Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it" (Psalms 127:1. Note. This psalm is ascribed to Solomon. And these words were inscribed on the late Eddystone lighthouse).

3. That it was the shrine of a holy God. The two columns, standing as sentinels over the house, confronted all who came into its courts with the idea of consecration. We have seen that column and chapiter together bore a rough resemblance to a lily—the column the stalk, the chapiter the flower. Now the lily is the emblem of purity (see on 1 Kings 7:19). The" lily work in the porch" proclaimed the house as belonging to the All-Holy One of Israel. The columns, therefore, in their esoteric symbolic language, spoke to the same effect as if these words had been blazoned on the temple's front (as on the high priest's mitre): "Holiness unto the Lord" (Exo 28:1-43 :86; Exodus 39:30), or these, "I the Lord your God am holy" (Le 1 Kings 19:2; 1 Kings 21:8).

4. That it was for the worship of a holy people. The chapiters were fashioned after a lily cup. The columns, i.e; blossomed into purity under the shelter of the sanctuary, and so proclaimed that holiness was to be the product of the temple services and ritual. They served accordingly as memoranda both to priests and worshippers. It is said that on the front of the second temple words were inscribed, viz; these: "Know before whom thou art going to stand." In this first temple the two columns spoke to the same purport. To the priests they cried, "Be ye clean that bear the vessels of the Lord" (Isaiah 52:11); to the people they spoke, like the "fringe with the ribband of blue," "Be ye holy unto your God" (Numbers 15:38, Numbers 15:40).

5. That it was for a people zealous of good works. On the columns were 400 pomegranates. Pomegranates are said to be emblems of fruitfulness. If so, they taught the Hebrew worshipper this last lesson—they served instead of this inscription, "Thou shalt not delay to offer the first of thy ripe fruits" (Exodus 22:29); or this, "He looked that his vineyard should bring forth grapes" (Isaiah 5:2).

II. But what lessons have Jachin and Boaz for ourselves? Do they not speak to us

(1) of the Church, the "pillar and ground of the truth" (1 Timothy 3:15);

(2) of the Christian, who shall be "a pillar in the temple of God?" (Revelation 3:12.)

1. Of the Church. The lessons these brazen columns had for the Hebrew people, the same they have for ourselves, with this difference, that they also speak to us by their fall. They image forth the stability of the Church—that the gates of hell shall not prevail against it; that its strength is in God—its weapons are not carnal, but spiritual (2 Corinthians 10:4; Matthew 28:20; John 15:4); that its object is holiness (Ephesians 5:27; Ephesians 1:4; Titus 2:12) and fruitfulness (John 15:8; 2 Corinthians 9:10; Philippians 1:11). But they have an additional lesson for us, derived from their destruction. For why were these splendid works of art removed out of their place, broken up, and carried to Babylon? (Jeremiah 52:17, Jeremiah 52:21.) It was because their lessons were unheeded, because the people were not pure and holy (Jeremiah 22:8, Jeremiah 22:9; Jeremiah 5:31; Acts 7:43). And so we learn—net that the Catholic Church will "likewise perish:" that can never be (Matthew 16:18); of that it might be said, with a propriety of which the Latin poet was all unconscious, "Exegi monumentum aere perennius"—the columns lasted 423 years, the Church 1800 already—but that particular churches, if unfaithful, shall have their candlesticks removed out of their places (Revelation 2:5). "If God spared not the natural branches," etc. (Romans 11:21).

2. Of the Christian. He may learn hence—

(1) To be rooted and grounded in faith and love (Ephesians 3:17; Colossians 1:23).

(2) Not to be carried about by every wind of doctrine (Ephesians 4:14; James 1:6; note on James 1:20).

(3) That "God is our refuge and strength" (Philippians 4:13; Colossians 1:11; 1 Peter 5:10).

(4) That we are to "wear the white lily of a blameless life" (cf. 2 Peter 3:14).

(5) And to "bring forth much fruit," and

(6) that if we overcome, we shall be pillars in the heavenly temple, not to be broken, or cast into the fire, or to share in the destruction of Babylon (Revelation 18:2), but to "go out no more forever" (Revelation 3:12).

1 Kings 7:23, 1 Kings 7:24

The Molten Sea and the Brazen Layers.

If the two pillars teach the lesson of purity, of personal holiness, how much more the sea and bases! For observe—

1. Sea and bases had the same end in view, viz; purification. The first was for the cleansing of the priests. The second for the cleansing of the sacrifices offered by the priests.

2. The extraordinary provision of water for the service of the temple. Underneath the temple area was a great reservoir (it is said to be some fifty feet deep), no doubt the same which exists at the present day, near the Mosque el Aksa (note on 1 Kings 7:26). This was connected by an aqueduct (which can still be traced) with Solomon's Pools at Etham, near Bethlehem. Whether these great works were purely for the use of the temple, or whether the city also shared in their benefits, may be doubtful, but that the temple occupied the first place in the scheme is beyond all question. From this subterranean sea—whether by pipes or by the labours of the Nethinim, we cannot be certain—both molten sea and brazen layers were filled. But here a distinction must be made. The priests were commanded to wash, under pain of death (Exodus 30:19 sqq.; Exodus 29:4; Exodus 40:30-32), but there was no such command with respect to the victims. No; the sacrifices would seem to have been washed because the Jewish mind instinctively felt that this was right and fitting. And that it was right and fitting is proved by the fact that the service was accepted, and here enjoys the Divine sanction. We should hardly have had twelve verses of Scripture devoted to the description of the layers and their bases, had not God Himself approved of the washing of "the work of the burnt offering" (2 Chronicles 4:6, Hebrews)

Hence we may learn—

I. That Christian priests must be washed.

II. That Christian sacrifices should be cleansed.

I. CHRISTIAN PRIESTS MUST BE WASHED. Here two questions arise.

(1) Who are Christian PRIESTS?

(2) What is this WASHING?

1. By Christian priests we may understand here all Christians. For all Christians axe priests, precisely as all Jews were priests (cf. 1 Peter 2:5, 1 Peter 2:9, with Exodus 19:6). Of course, there is a priesthood among Christians, just as there was a priesthood among the Jews. It is often said, and said truly, that the word ἱερεύς, sacerdos, is nowhere applied to the ministers of the New Testament; but the answer is that it could not have been so applied, so long as the Levitical priesthood existed, without risk of confusion. It is also true that the functions of the Christian presbyterate are very, very different from those of the Jewish priesthood; but all the same, if Christianity is filling up, and not the reversal or the negation of Judaism (Colossians 2:17; Matthew 5:17), then, assuredly, it must not only have its altar, (Hebrews 13:10), but its priesthood. But let us understand the word here of the body of believers: for clearly, if we can prove that all Christians must be washed, how much more those who minister in holy things, and bear the vessels of the Lord? (Isaiah 52:11.)

2. By Christian washing we may understand, primarily, THE washing (κατ ̓ ἐξοχὴν) of the New Testament, "the washing of regeneration" (Titus 3:5; cf. (1 Corinthians 6:11; Ephesians 5:26; Hebrews 10:22; cf. Hebrews 6:2). For to all Christians is the command addressed, "Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins" (Acts 22:16; cf. 1 Kings 2:38). Of all may our holy Lord be heard to say, "If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me".

But is this all? Are we only to find here a lesson as to Christian baptism? Certainly net. For observe,

(1) by baptism, the initial rite of our religion, men are made priests (Revelation 1:5, Revelation 1:6).

(2) The washing of the priests was a washing of the hands and the feet (Exodus 30:19); and

(3) it was to be repeated as often as they "went into the tabernacle of the congregation or" came near unto the altar (verse 20; 1 Kings 40:32). Clearly, then, the "one baptism" of Christianity cannot respond to this exclusively. No; that rather corresponds to the washing of the whole person (Leviticus 16:4, Leviticus 16:24), which the Rabbins say was performed in the molten sea, or in its basin; but which may possibly have been performed in private. That there was such complete ablution on the part of the priests needs no proof; it is presupposed in the directions about the hands and feet. It would have been mockery to wash the extremities of the body, while the body itself remain unclean. But the priest who went to the temple pure might, perhaps, contract some defilement on the way; the exposed parts, the hands and the feet, might be stained and so become unfit for the service of the All-Holy. It was for this the molten sea was provided, and this, helps to illustrate our Lord's words, "He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet" (John 13:10). Even so we, though, as St. Paul says, we "were washed" (ἀπελούσασθε, aor.) "in the laver of regeneration," have sullied our baptismal robes in our passage through and contact with the world (James 3:2), and need, day by day, cleansing and forgiveness (Matthew 6:12). The text teaches, then, that we are unfit for the service of the Most Pure until we have washed our hands and feet; until, i.e; we are purged from the softs and stains of this wicked world, bier only must "our bodies be washed with pure water," our "hearts" must also be "sprinkled from an evil conscience," before we can draw near with acceptance to God (Hebrews 10:22). "I cannot pray, but I sin; I cannot hear, or preach a sermon, but I sin; I cannot give an alms or receive the sacrament, but I sin; nay, I cannot so much as confess my sins, but my very confessions are still aggravations of them; my repentance needs to be repented of, my tears want washing, and the very washing of my tears needs still to be washed over again in the blood of my Redeemer" (Bp. Beveridge).

What, then, let us now ask, is the "sea," what the "laver " for the washing away of these daily sins and defilements? It is a fountain of blood ("Not by water only, but by water and blood," 1 John 5:6); it is the other sacrament of our religion, the "blood of the new covenant shed for many for the remission of sins" (Matthew 26:28). "The one baptism for the remission of sins" (Nicene Creed) cannot apply to the sins of later life. For this, other provision is needed, and in the mercy of God other provision is made in the sacrament of love and the ministry of reconciliation. (Cf. also Matthew 16:19; Matthew 18:18; John 20:28; Matthew 28:20.)

But here one word of caution may possibly be needful. It must not be supposed for a moment that there is any other source or ground of cleansing and forgiveness than the free, unmerited mercy of God in Christ; that there is any hope for the sinner except in the "full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction" once made by the one Saviour "for the sins of the whole world;" or that any rites or ordinances can have any virtue or efficacy apart from His meritorious death and His now victorious life. The sacraments are not, cannot be, the sources or the grounds of forgiveness, nor do they work like a charm—ex opere operato. But in the all-wise appointment of God, they are the means of grace, the channels through which His infinite mercy ordinarily flows (gratia non ligatur mediis) to the penitent and believing soul.

Nor must it be supposed that the generous provision made by God for the cleansing of all sin obviates the need for striving against sin (Hebrews 12:4). We are to "cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of flesh and spirit" (2 Corinthians 7:1). We are to "purify ourselves, even as He is pure" (1Jn 3:1-24 :37. The priests of the Holy God must "live a clean life" (Wyclif).

II. CHRISTIAN SACRIFICES SHOULD BE CLEANSED. Here again two questions arise.

(1) What are Christian sacrifices?

(2) How can they be cleansed?

1. Christian sacrifices. Those which all Christian men are ordained to offer (1Pe 2:1-25 :87) are these—

(1) The living sacrifice of body and soul (Romans 12:1).

(2) The sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving (Heb 13:1-25 :157.

(3) The sacrifice of alms and oblations (Hebrews 13:16; Philippians 4:18).

2. The Cleansing of these sacrifices is that which takes place in a "pure heart and good conscience." It is a matter of motive, of intention. The quality of the sacrifice depends on the spirit of the sacrificer. It is a sacrifice, howsoever offered—there is such a thing as "the sacrifice of fools" (Ecclesiastes 5:1)—but it may be, and often is, a maimed, or unclean, or unworthy sacrifice. If our praise, for example, be prompted by the love of music rather than the love of God; if our alms be offered for the praise of men—before he enters on Divine service. It has been well said that we ought to wash our prayers and praises in our hearts before we put them into our lips. The customary "prayer before service" and the self examination before communion (1 Corinthians 11:28), if made more real, would ensure the cleansing of the sacrifice. (Compare James 1:27.)

1 Kings 7:46

The Clay Ground in the circuit of the Jordan.

These things are an allegory. These words suggest some thoughts as to the soil in which the King of Heaven moulds the vessels for His service (2Ti 2:20, 2 Timothy 2:21; Acts 9:15; Romans 9:21, Romans 9:23). They, too, are prepared in the plain: they are cast in the clay ground.


(1) that both pillars and vessels, i.e; Jachin and Boaz, as well as "the pots and the shovels and the basins," were cast in this same clay ground. In the two pillars we may fitly see for our present purpose emblems of those two "pillars and basements of the truth" (1 Timothy 3:15), the Jewish and Christian churches; in the vessels, emblems of those "vessels unto honour," the "messengers of the churches," Prophets, Apostles, Martyrs, etc. (2 Corinthians 8:23; Acts 9:15). We shall find that the great Master Builder has prepared them all in the plain; that all alike have been moulded in the clay.

As to the plain, the figure is obvious enough, and a few words will suffice to expound it. From the Mesopotamian immigrants into Palestine, the first fathers of the Jewish people, down to the peasants and fishermen of Galilee, aye, and to the poor monk, Luther, and the poor servitor, Whitfield, history constantly teaches the same lesson—that not many wise men or mighty or noble (1 Corinthians 1:26) are the vessels chosen of Heaven to do God's work in the world. The apostles did not issue forth from "king's houses" (Matthew 11:8). Just as "the gentle rain from heaven" leaves the mountains and descends into the vales, so does the grace of God ever condescend to men of low degree. Not "the princes of this world" (1 Corinthians 2:8), not its rich men (James 2:6), but the "poor of this world" hath God chosen (ib. 1 Kings 7:5). "Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed on him?" (John 7:48). No, it was the "common people"—the despised amhaaretz—"heard him gladly" (Mark 12:37). The early adversaries of Christianity used to sneer at the humble origin and occupations of its champions, and the apologists would not and could not deny the charge.

Now as to the "clay ground," observe that while the text gives this rendering, the margin has, "thickness of the ground." It is not a distinction without a difference, for the latter rendering would import that the soil had been made thick, for the purpose of casting, by stamping or puddling. And which of these translations is the true one; whether, i.e; the soil was naturally clayey—perhaps from the overflow of the Jordan (Joshua 3:15, Hebrews), perhaps from the springs which make much of the Jordan valley into a swamp—or whether it was artificially prepared for castings, it is perhaps impossible to say. Nor need we wish to decide, since for our purpose both meanings are true. Whatever Hiram did, God casts His vessels, some in the clay, i.e; in the most unpromising soil, with the most ungenial surroundings; some "in the thickness of the ground," i.e; in soil which has been trodden by the iron feet of the persecutor; and some in both.

I. Let us now see how

(1) THE CHURCHES—We regard them as two for our present purpose, though strictly the Christian ἐκκλησία is but the development of the Jewish—and

(2) THEIR MESSENGERS have both been prepared in the clay ground. But first, let us carry our thoughts to that foundry in the Jordan valley. We now assume that it was a bed of clay in which the castings were made. If so, it is probable this tract of land had hitherto laid waste. The ox had not drawn the plough through it; it had yielded neither seed to the sower, nor bread to the eater; the farmer had not planted it with olive or vine. And in a land so small—Palestine is about the same size as Wales—and so densely populated as the Holy Land; in a country where every available yard was cultivated, and where even the steep hill sides were laid out in terraces to increase the acreage; in a land, too, of great fertility (Deuteronomy 8:7-9)—for the whole realm was remarkably prolific, and "the plain of the Jordan" was the garden of the whole (Genesis 13:10)—this barren tract could not fail to be noticed. It had long been an eyesore, we may well believe, to the fellahin who tilled the neighbouring fields. The traveller who passed it on his way to the fords of the Jordan (Judges 8:5; Judges 12:6; Genesis 33:17) pronounced it unprofitable, and altogether it was "nigh unto cursing" (Hebrews 6:8).

And so it lay, century after century, a marsh, or piece of scrub, a blot on the landscape. Men thought it was irreclaimable. But now the temple is being built, the vessels of brass have to be cast, and through the length and breadth of Palestine they find no spot so suited to the purpose as the "clay ground between Succoth and Zarthan." Here shall the foundry be. And so from this despised and desolate tract the burnished brass went forth to adorn the temple of the Lord. Even so ―

1. The Jewish Church was moulded in the clay. Where was it constituted? In the desert of Sinai, in the "great and terrible wilderness." In the Red Sea was its baptism (1 Corinthians 10:2); at Horeb (lit; dry ground) it entered into the covenant. From the "backside of the desert," from the plain of Rahah, where "desolation keeps unbroken sabbath; "from a "frozen tempest of black, weather worn, rugged mountain peaks," the Hebrew Church went forth to witness for God. Nowhere, perhaps, under the whole heaven is there a more arid and rugged and desolate and uninhabitable land. Yet God chose it to be the school and training ground of His Church.

2. The Christian Church was cast in the clay. Not in Greece, amid the schools of philosophy, not in Rome, among senates, and armies, and subject kings, but in Palestine, a despised corner of the empire, among Jews, who were hated of all men. And in what part of Palestine? Not in Jerusalem, among the scribes and doctors, but in the provinces, in "Galilee of the Goim." The question was often asked, Can any good thing come out of Nazareth? (John 1:46.) The answer was often given, "Out of Galilee ariseth no prophet" (John 7:52). Surely this was clay ground. Yet there it pleased God to found the Holy Catholic Church. And this, which is true of the Church, is equally true of its vessels. For --

3. The lawgivers and prophets of the Jewish Church were shaped in the clay. Moses, it is true, was bred in the court, but he was not prepared there for his work. No, it was necessary for him to leave the court in order to become a "vessel meet for the Master's use." It was in this same desert of Sinai, amid the Bedouin, while keeping an Arab's flock, and leading a nomadic life, after forty years of self rule, that God appeared unto him. The lawgiver himself came from the clay. So did Elijah, the restorer of the law. He was a Gileadite. It was a wild, unsettled, semi-civilized, trans-Jordanic region gave to the world the greatest of the prophets. And he too must go into the desert, and must be trained for his work at Horeb—the "dry ground" (1 Kings 19:8). And the same remark applies to nearly all the prophets, judges, etc. Occasionally we have a Jeremiah, the son of a high priest (Jeremiah 1:1), or a Daniel of the royal seed (Daniel 1:3), but more frequently a herdman, a gatherer of sycamore fruit (Amos 7:14; 1 Kings 19:19), or a captive by the river Chebar (Ezekiel 1:3), rises up to speak for God.

4. The apostles and preachers of Christianity were fashioned and prepared in clay ground.

(1) The founder of Christianity was well called a "root out of a dry ground." (Isaiah 53:2). "Is not this the carpenter's son?" (Matthew 13:55). "Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph" (John 1:45). "How knoweth this man letters, having never learned?" (John 7:15.)

(2) The apostles, too, came from the fisherman's boat at Bethsaida (John 1:44), and from the receipt of custom (Matthew 9:9) in Capernaum. Only one out of the entire college had studied in the schools (Acts 22:8). They were justly described as "ignorant and unlearned men" (Acts 4:18).

(3) And the same may be said of nearly all the early Christians and confessors. It was a most unpromising and unlikely soil in which the Church first took root. "Publicans and sinners." M. Renan has given a graphic description of the early Christians of Rome—a "longshore population," sleeping on the straw, "clad in malodorous stable slops," "smelling of garlic," "with fetid breath like that of ill-fed people," etc. It is not improbable that the bulk of the early Christians were men of this sort, tentmakers like Aquila, slaves like Onesimus, gaolers like him of Philippi, soldiers like those of Caesar's household. And[ eighteen centuries have only served to establish more firmly the truth that "not many mighty," etc. It is curious and suggestive that so many of the saints of the Roman calendar are said to have been of noble birth. It is easy thus to glorify dead saints, but if, with Chateaubriand, we ask to see living ones, we frequently find them in the homes of the poor, and almost invariably amid cares, worries, temptations, hindrances, persecutions of every kind. The saints are still fashioned in the clay.

II. But let us now assume that this foundry of the Jordan valley was not a bed of natural clay, but that the soil had been prepared by stamping. We shall find that both

(1) the Churches and

(2) the messengers of the Churches have been prepared "in the thickness of the ground," under the heel of persecution and oppression. And first of the Churches.

1. The Jewish Church came out of the house of bondage. "Out of the iron furnace" (Deuteronomy 4:20; 1 Kings 8:51 : cf. Exodus 5:1-23.) "Dealt subtilly with our kindred, and evil entreated our fathers" (Acts 7:19). It was among the brick fields—the thick Nile mud—of Egypt, and their hardships and oppressions, that God disciplined and prepared His people.

2. The Christian Church has come out of great tribulation. Its history begins with a shameful crucifixion, and it is a history written in blood, a history of "stripes" (Acts 16:23; 2 Corinthians 6:5), beatings (Acts 5:40), stonings (Acts 7:59; Acts 14:19), the sword (Acts 12:2), "great persecution" (Acts 8:1), and the like. Nero, Decius, Aurelian, Diocletian—what tragedies are connected with these names! Yet "the blood of the martyrs has been the seed of the Church," and in the reign of Constantine the empire awoke to find itself Christian. Persecution only evolved progress (Philippians 1:12, Philippians 1:18). And what is true of the pillars is also true of the vessels. For ―

3. The heroes of the Jewish Church passed through fire and sword. Moses must flee his country, must learn obedience by the things which he suffered. Elijah—they sought his life (1 Kings 19:10). Jezebel sought to slay the prophets of the Lord. Daniel is cast into the lions' den; the Hebrew children into the fire; Jeremiah into the mire and clay (Jeremiah 38:6). Isaiah is sawn asunder (Heb 11:1-40 :87). Zechariah is slain between the temple and the altar, etc. See Hebrews 11:34-38. What evidences of stamping are here! Surely the ground bears the marks of a struggle!

4. The saints of the new dispensation have been made perfect through suffering. For St. Paul, see 2 Corinthians 11:28-33, and remember that this list only extends, at the latest, to A.D. 58. That "chosen vessel" was first showed "what great things he must suffer" (Acts 9:16). For the early Christians see Revelation 2:10.Revelation 2:13; Revelation 6:10; Revelation 7:14, etc.; 1 Corinthians 4:13; 2 Corinthians 6:5-10. Polycarp, Augustine, Cyprian, Chrysostom—the time would fail me to tell of those bright vessels of grace, some in the dark ages, some in our own time, who were prepared for the ministry and the inheritance of the saints in "the thickness of the ground," and who, "after they had suffered awhile," were made perfect.


1 Kings 7:21

Jachin and Boaz.

No features in Solomon's temple have given rise to so much controversy as these two famous pillars; the beauty of which Jewish writers are never tired of recounting. They were marvels of the glyptic skill for which the Phoenician workmen were distinguished. Homer speaks of such metallic work. In Il. 23. 741-744, he thus describes the prize assigned by Achilles for the foot race at the funeral of Patroclus—

"A bowl of solid silver, deftly wrought,
That held six measures, and in beauty far
Surpassed whatever else the world could boast;
Since men of Sidon, skilled in glyptic art,
Had made it, and .Phoenician mariners
Had brought it with them over the dark sea."

(See also his description of Menelaus' gift to Telemachus, Od. 4:614-618.) Hiram, the Phoenician artificer, lent by the king of Type to Solomon, was specially skilled in such work (2 Chronicles 2:14). "In the plain of Jordan, in the clay ground between Succoth and Zarthan," he cast these two great bronze pillars, each 17.5 cubits high, with capitals five cubits high, adorned with pomegranates, and "nets of checker work, and wreaths of chain work." They were placed on the right and left of the porch of the temple, and probably were not obelisks, but were necessary as "pillars" to support the roof, which was thirty feet in width. That these were symbolic is evident from their names, which may be rendered, "Stability" and" Strength." The reference is not so much to the material building, but to the kingdom of God in Israel, which was embodied in the temple. They pointed then, and now, to the beauty and strength of the dwelling of God.

I. THE FASHIONING OF THE PILLARS. Made of bronze cast in the earth. None but the initiated would expect such an issue from such a process. Picture the anxiety of those in charge when the morea was constructed, when the metal was molten, etc. Apply to the anxiety and care of those rearing the spiritual temple.

1. They were the product of human skill. This skill was devoutly recognized as the of God. Compare 1 Kings 7:14 with the description of Bezaleel's artistic "gifts." If wisdom of that kind is from God, how much more is the highest wisdom needed for the upbuilding of the true temple (1 Corinthians 3:12-17). Turn to the promises of the Holy Spirit to the apostles, and of wisdom to all who seek. Refer to times of difficulty and anxiety in which only this heavenly help could avail the teachers and rulers of the Church. Observe such expressions as that in which Paul speaks of himself as "a wise master builder." Indicate special gifts still required by those who succeed to this work. "If any man lack wisdom let him ask of God," etc.

2. They were the result of marvellous diligence. Years and generations of effort had made these artificers what they were, and now daily they applied themselves to their toil, nor was it without reward. Nothing great can be attained in this world without work. God has not made things pleasant by ordaining that the way to them should be easy, but He has made them precious by ordaining that the way should be hard. The hardships endured by miners, pearl divers, agricultural labourers, etc. The strenuous toil of the student, the man of business, the explorer, the scientist, etc. No wonder that in the highest sphere diligence is essential. It is required for the upbuilding of our Christian character; e.g; "Give diligence to to make your calling… sure," etc. "Work out your own salvation," etc; "Not as though I had already attained," etc. Similar diligence is required by the Church for the evangelization of the world. Contrast the diligence shown in other pursuits with the indolence in this.

3. They were the product of combined effort. The wealth of Solomon was added to the skill of Hiram. Observe the diversity of workmen essential for the designing, moulding, fashioning, uprearing of these pillars. Each did his own work, did it heartily, completely. All was not equally honourable, easy, remunerative; yet none neglected his share of the toil. Speak of the millions now constructing God's spiritual temple; how the various races of men, how the differing sects of Christians, how the peculiar tastes and gifts of individuals, are rearing "the house not made with hands," "the habitation of God, through the Spirit."


1. Stability (Jachin). In this the temple was a contrast to the tabernacle. Yet even the temple and all that was material of the old worship passed away to make room for the spiritual realities which abide eternally. In Hebrews 12:27 we read of "the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain." Show how, amidst the fall of empires, the Church has lived, in spite of all that evil powers could do (Matthew 16:18). Speak of the safety, for time and eternity, of those who are in Christ (John 10:28), etc.

2. Strength. The Church needs more than endurance, it wants vigour. Resistance must be supplemented by aggression. Far more than the Jewish Church the Christian Church is to be characterized by this. The apostles were not merely to hold their own, but to go "into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." Only the active Church, only the active Christian, has a robust and wholesome life. Let "Boaz" stand beside "Jachin."

3. Beauty. The lilies and pomegranates adorning the pillars not only showed that there should be beauty in the worship of God, and that the noblest art should be consecrated to Him, but symbolized the truth declared in Psalms 96:6, "Strength and beauty are in His sanctuary." Strength needs beauty to adorn it. Beauty needs strength to support it. Illustration: the ivy clustering round the oak. Let the courageous man be gentle; the stalwart man tender; the sweet girl morally strong, etc. If we would have it so, we shall find those graces in the holy place of God, the sacred place of prayer, whether public or secret, for strength and beauty are in His sanctuary. Emblems of stability and strength, yet exquisite in their beauty, let Jachin and Boaz, in the porch of the temple, remind us of what God would see in the Christian Church, and in every Christian character.—A.R.

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Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S; Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice. "Commentary on 1 Kings 7". The Pulpit Commentary. 1897.