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THE ANSWER TO SOLOMON'S PRAYER.—This chapter opens with an account of God's second appearance to Solomon. It must not be supposed, however, from the apparent close connexion of this relation with the preceding narrative, that it stands to it in equally close chronological order. It probably finds a place here because the historian has grouped together all the suitable materials in his possession which related to the temple. But see on 1 Kings 9:1.
1 Kings 9:1
And it came to pass when Solomon had finished the building of the house of the Lord, and the king's house [1 Kings 7:1], and all Solomon's desire which he was pleased to do [By "desire" we are not to understand "pleasure buildings" (cf. 1 Kings 7:10, 1 Kings 7:19). The chronicler gives the true meaning: "all that came into Solomon's heart." It is, however, somewhat doubtful what works are comprehended under this term. 2 Chronicles 7:11 limits it to the two great erections already described—"all that came into his heart to make in the house of the Lord and in his own house." But it is by no means certain that our author intended the word to be thus restricted; it is quite possible, e.g; that some of the buildings mentioned below (2 Chronicles 7:15-14.7.19) are to be included. But another question of much greater importance presents itself here. In the Divine communication of 2 Chronicles 7:3-14.7.9 there is constant and unmistakeable reference to the prayer of dedication (see especially 2 Chronicles 7:3); in fact, this message is the answer to that prayer. It has been held, consequently, that the answer must have followed, if not immediately, yet soon after the petitions were uttered; if so, the dedication must clearly have taken place, not on the completion of the temple (1 Kings 6:38), but on the completion of the palace, etc.; in other words, the temple must have been finished fully thirteen years before it was consecrated and occupied. Rawlinson suggests that the delay was perhaps occasioned by the circumstance that the furniture of the temple was not till then ready; but 1 Kings 6:38, Hebrews, seems to state distinctly that all the vessels and appointments of the sanctuary were finished at the date there given. Reasons have been given elsewhere (see note on 1 Kings 8:1) in support of the position that the dedication possibly have been delayed for so long a period, especially after the strenuous efforts which had been made to hurry on the undertaking. Nor does the text, when carefully examined, really require this hypothesis; indeed, it suggests some reasons for thinking that a considerable period must have intervened between the prayer and the response. For the tone of this response is unmistakeably foreboding, if not minatory. Verses 6-9 contain a stern warning. But there was nothing, so far as we know, in the attitude of Solomon or of Israel at the time of the dedication to call for any such denunciation. At that time, as the prayer surely proves, Solomon's heart was perfect with the Lord his God. But the response has unmistakeably the appearance of having been elicited by signs of defection. The wide difference, consequently, between the spirit of the prayer and the tone of the answer suggests that some time must have elapsed between them, and so far supports the view that the dedication was not delayed until the palace, etc; was completed. And it is also to be remembered that the prayer of dedication had not been without acknowledgment at the time. The excellent glory which filled and took possession of the house was itself a significant and sufficient response. No voice or vision could have said more plainly, "I have heard thy prayer, I have hallowed this house." But when, some thirteen years later—about the very time, that is, when he was at the height of his prosperity, and when, owing to the completion of his undertakings, we might fear lest his heart should be lifted up with pride—when Solomon and his court began to decline in piety and to go after other gods, then this merciful message opportunely refers him to the prayer which he was in danger of forgetting, and warns him of the consequences of the apostasy to which he was tending.]
1 Kings 9:2
That the Lord appeared to Solomon the second time [see on 1 Kings 6:11, and 1 Kings 11:9; Solomon had received a message during the building of the temple], as he had appeared unto him at Gibeon [i.e; in a dream (1 Kings 3:5) ].
1 Kings 9:3
And the Lord said unto him [This message is given at greater length in 2 Chronicles 7:12-14.7.22. 2 Chronicles 7:13, 2 Chronicles 7:14, e.g; contain a reference to that part of the prayer which related to drought and rain], I have heard thy prayer and thy supplication [These two words are found similarly united in Solomon's prayer, verses 38, 45, 54], that thou hast made [Heb. supplicated] before me; I have hallowed this house which thou hast built [sc. by the manifestation described 1 Kings 8:11. Cf. Exodus 29:43 : "the tabernacle shall be sanctified" (same word) "by my glory." In 2 Chronicles we read, "I have chosen this place to myself for a house of sacrifice," where, however, it is worth considering whether instead of the somewhat singular בית זבח the original text may not have been בית זבל, as in 1 Kings 8:13] to put my name there [1 Kings 8:29; cf. 1 Kings 8:16, 1 Kings 8:17, 1Ki 8:18, 1 Kings 8:19; also Deuteronomy 12:11; Luke 11:12] forever [1 Kings 8:13. As Solomon offered it, so God accepted it, in perpetuity. That the house was subsequently "left desolate" and destroyed (2 Kings 25:9) was because of the national apostasy (1 Kings 8:8, 1 Kings 8:9) ], and mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually. [In 1 Kings 8:29 Solomon asked that God's "eyes may be open… towards the house." The answer is that not only His eyes shall be open, but eyes and heart shall be there [Ephesians 3:20; see Homiletics on 1 Kings 3:5);—the eye to watch, the heart to cherish it.]
1 Kings 9:4
And [Heb. And thou, emphatic] if thou wilt walk before me as David thy father walked, in integrity of heart before me and in uprightness [cf. 1 Kings 3:6, 1Ki 3:14; 1 Kings 11:34. David was not perfect, as our author tells us elsewhere (1 Kings 15:5; cf. 1 Kings 1:6; 2 Samuel 24:10). His integrity consisted in his unvarying loyalty to the true God. Even when overcome by that fierce temptation (2 Samuel 11:1-10.11.27.) he never faltered in his allegiance to the truth. There was no coquetting with idolatrous practices; cf. Psalms 18:20-19.18.24], to do according to all that I have commanded thee, and wilt keep my statutes and my judgments [the echo of David's last words, 1 Kings 2:3, 1 Kings 2:4. It is probable, however, that the historian has only preserved the substance of the message. It is doubtful whether Solomon himself would remember the exact words]:
1 Kings 9:5
Then I will establish [same word as in ch. 1 Kings 2:4, where see note. Surely he would remember this word as it would recall his father's charge to his mind] the throne of thy kingdom upon Israel forever [this is the answer to the prayer of 1 Kings 8:26] as I promised to David thy father, saying, There shall not fail thee a man upon the throne of Israel. [2Sa 7:12, 2 Samuel 7:16; 1 Kings 2:4; 1 Kings 6:12; Psalms 132:12. But the primary reference is to 1 Kings 8:25; see Introduction, sect. III.]
1 Kings 9:6
But if ye shall at all [rather altogether, or assuredly] turn from following me [The A.V. entirely misrepresents the force of the Hebraism, If to turn, ye shall turn, which must mean complete, not partial, apostasy. Cf. 2 Chronicles 7:19, and 2 Samuel 7:14, 2 Samuel 7:15], ye or your children [as the promises of God are to us and our children (Acts 2:39), so are His threatenings], and will not keep my commandments and my statutes which I [LXX. Μωυσῆς; Qui facit per allure, etc.] have set before you, but go and serve other gods and worship them [Exodus 20:5; Deuteronomy 5:9; Deuteronomy 13:2]:
1 Kings 9:7
Then will I cut off Israel out of the land which I have given them [Cf. Deuteronomy 4:26, Deuteronomy 4:27; and for the fulfilment see 2 Kings 25:11, 2 Kings 25:21;] and this house which I have hallowed for my name [Jeremiah 7:14] will I cast out of my sight [same expression, 2 Kings 24:20]; and Israel shall be a proverb and a byword among all people [the exact words of Deuteronomy 28:37. Similar words in Isaiah 14:4; Micah 6:16. Much the same punishment is denounced in Leviticus 26:14-3.26.38, and Deuteronomy 4:45, 63]:
1 Kings 9:8
And at this house, which is high [Heb; And this house shall be high, עֶלְיוֹן יִהְיֶה. Our translators were probably influenced by 2 Chronicles 7:21, the text of which is אֲשֶׁר הָיהָ עֶלְיוֹן which would seem to be an emendation, designed to clear up the difficulty rather than an accidental variation of the text. But here the literal rendering is probably the truer, the meaning being "this house shall be conspicuous, as an example"—so the Vulg. domus haec erit in exemplum. The LXX. accords with the Hebrew text, ὁ οἷκος οὗτος ἔσται ὁ ὐψηλὸς, but the Syriac and Arabic read, "this house shall be destroyed." Keil sees in the words an allusion implicite to Deuteronomy 26:19, and Deuteronomy 28:1, where God promises to make Israel עֶלְיוֹן, and says "the blessing will be turned into a curse." The temple should indeed be "high," should be what Israel would have been, but it shall be as a warning, etc.; but this connexion is somewhat far fetched and artificial. Thenius would read for, עִיִּין עֶלְיוֹן. "ruins," after Micah 3:12; Jeremiah 26:18; Psalms 79:1; but it is hardly right to resort to conjectures, unsupported by a single version or MS; so long as any sufficient meaning can be extracted from the words as they stand, and no one can deny that "high" may surely signify "conspicuous." Cf. Matthew 11:23], every one that passeth by it shall be astonished. [שָׁמֵם primarily means to be dumb with astonishment, Gesen; Thessalonians 3. p. 1435] and shall hiss [שָׁרַק, like "hiss," is an onomatopoetic word. It does not denote the hissing of terror (Bähr) but of derision; of. Jeremiah 19:8; Jeremiah 49:17; Job 27:23; Lamentations 2:15, Lamentations 2:16. Rawlinson aptly remarks, as bearing on the authorship of the Kings, that this is a familiar word in Jeremiah (see 1 Kings 18:16; 25:9; 29:18; 50:13; 51:37, in addition to the passages cited above), and that the other prophets rarely use it. The fact that much of this charge is in Jeremiah's style, confirms the view taken above (note on verse 4), that the ipsissima verba of the dream are not preserved to us. The author indeed could hardly do more than preserve its leading ideas, which he would naturally present in his own dress]; and they shall say, Why hath the Lord done thus unto this land and to this house? [Similar words Deuteronomy 29:24, Deuteronomy 29:25; Jeremiah 22:8.]
1 Kings 9:9
And they shall answer, Because they forsook the Lord their God who brought forth their fathers out of the land of Egypt [Based on Deuteronomy 29:25. Solomon in his prayer referred repeatedly to this great deliverance, Deuteronomy 29:16, Deuteronomy 29:21, 51, 53], and have taken hold upon other gods and have worshipped them and served them; therefore hath the Lord brought upon them all this evil.
1 Kings 9:1-11.9.9
The Second Appearance to Solomon.
"Behold the goodness and severity of God" (Romans 11:22). To Solomon goodness, to Israel severity.
I. The GOODNESS OF GOD is manifested—
1. In revealing Himself to Solomon. The greatest favour God can show us is to show us Himself; the greatest gift is to give us Himself.
"Give what Thou wilt, without Thee I am poor,
And with Thee rich, take what Thou wilt away."
"I will love him and will manifest myself unto him" (John 14:21). "I will come in to him and sup with him" (Revelation 3:20). "We will make our abode with him" (John 14:23). There are no richer promises than these. Well may we exclaim, "O altitudo!" (Romans 11:33.) "O why should heavenly God to men have such regard!"
Yes, the riches, honour, glory, etc; given to Solomon were of small account compared with the good thoughts and high aspirations bestowed upon him. Riches are such third-rate blessings that God bestows them indiscriminately on the evil and the good. But noble resolves and high purposes—"courtliness and the desire of (true) fame, and love of truth, and all that makes a man"—these He reserves for His children. Solomon's riches and glory proved his ruin; the revelations he received were the true source of his greatness.
2. In warning Solomon. The very kindest thing a friend can do for us is to admonish us when we are going wrong. "Thou mayest be sure that he that will in private tell thee of thy faults is thy friend, for he adventureth thy dislike and doth hazard thy hatred" (Sir W. Raleigh). God showed this proof of love to Solomon. In the night watches, in the darkness and silence, away from the glamour and flattery of the court, the Divine voice was heard in his secret soul. And the plainness of the warning was a part of its mercifulness. The trumpet gave no uncertain sound (1 Kings 9:5-11.9.8). God set before him that day "life and good, death and evil" (Deuteronomy 30:15). By one to whom such wisdom had been vouchsafed, warnings should have been unneeded. But they were needed—and they were mercifully granted. The good Shepherd goes "o'er moor and fell, o'er crag and torrent" to bring back the straying sheep.
II. The SEVERITY OF GOD is exhibited -
1. In the punishment denounced against Israel. "Cut off;" "cast out of my sight;" "a proverb and a byword;" "shall be astonished and shall hiss"—these are its terms. But observe:
(1) None of these things needed to have befallen them. God had no pleasure in the death or dispersion of His elect people. It was their own fault if they were cut off.
(2) These things were denounced inkindness to stay them in their sin and so to prevent their dispersion. These were the sanctions of that dispensation. "The law is not made for a righteous man, but," etc. (1 Timothy 1:9).
(3) There was no disproportion or undue rigour in these penalties. What seems to us severity is really exact justice, or rather mercy, to the world. As Israel had been favoured above all peoples, so, in strict equity, should it be punished above all. "The glory, and the adoption, and the covenants," etc. (Romans 9:4), could not appertain to them without bringing with them "many stripes" for the disobedient. Those exalted to heaven shall be brought down to hell (Matthew 11:28). It was necessary for our admonition that the chosen people should not afford the world the spectacle of a nation sinning unpunished (1 Corinthians 10:11).
2. In the punishment inflicted. For how literally have these words been fulfilled! What an evidence of the truth of God the history of Israel supplies! This, at any rate, is no vaticinium ex eventu. "This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears" (Luke 4:21). "A proverb and a byword"—eighteen centuries at least testify to the truth of these words. "Cast out of my sight;" let the horrors of the siege of Jerusalem (see Joshua, B.J. 5. ch. 10-13, Joshua 6:1-6.6.27. passim. "Never" he says, "did any other city suffer such miseries") explain to us these words. And there is not a country of Europe, there is hardly a city, in which the history of the Jew is not traced in blood, written within and without in" mourning and lamentation and woe." Claudius expelled them from Borne (Acts 18:2); our Edward I. drove them out of Guienne and England. "Ivanhoe" gives some idea of their treatment in this country; but a romance could not record a tithe of the horrors of which Clifford's Tower in York or the Jews' house in Lincoln could tell. And yet it is allowed that they have always been treated more tenderly in England than in the rest of Europe. But even here, and down to the present day, the word "Jew" is too often a name of hate. In Servia, in Moldavia and Wallachia, they are still the objects of fierce, persecution and.not always unmerited obloquy. Even the "Anti-Semitic League, now being organized in Germany, is a part of the "severity" of God, a proof of the "sure word of prophecy." In Jerusalem, again, the metropolis of their race, they are accounted the filth and offscouring of all things. At the Greek Easter the refrain is often heard in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, "O Jews, O Jews, your feast is a feast of apes." What a commentary, too, is the Jews' "place of wailing" on this scripture I The "holy and beautiful house" a desolation, the temple precincts trodden under foot of the Gentiles I Conqueror after conqueror, pilgrim after pilgrim, has asked the question, "Wherefore hath the Lord done thus?" etc; while the "ever extending miles of gravestones and the ever lengthening pavement of tombs and sepulchres" answer, "Because they have forsaken the Lord their God," etc. (1 Kings 9:9; Jeremiah 22:8, Jeremiah 22:9).
"Tribes of the wandering foot and weary breast,
When will ye fly away and be at rest?
The wild dove hath its nest, the fox its cave,
Mankind their country—Israel but the grave."
Application. Romans 2:21. In the history of the Israelitish nation we may see the principle of God's dealing with individual souls But we may also read in it a warning for the Christian Church (Revelation 2:5).
HOMILIES BY J. WAITE
1 Kings 9:1-11.9.9
The Reviewed Covenant.
This Divine manifestation was probably similar in form to that with which Solomon was favoured at the beginning of his reign, of which it is said, "In Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night "(1Ki 3:1-28 :50). We have no means of judging as to the precise time of this occurrence; but the close connection of thought between what God here says to Solomon and the prayer at the dedication (seen most clearly in 2 Chronicles 7:14, 2 Chronicles 7:15) leads us to suppose that it took place immediately after that event. It illustrates:
I. THE FIDELITY OF GOD AND THE BLESSED RESULTS THAT ATTEND IT. God's faithfulness is seen
(1) in the answering of the prayer—"I have heard thy prayer," etc. The vision was itself an instant and very gracious Divine response. All true prayer is heard. No pure breath of supplication, the incense of the heart, ever ascends to Heaven in yam. God does not disappoint the hopes and longings He has Himself awakened. As the vapours that rise from land and sea sooner or later return again, distilling in the silent dew, descending in fruitful showers upon the earth—not one fluid particle is lost—so every cry of filial faith that goes up to the great Father of all comes back in due time in some form of heavenly benediction. And more, the answer is often far larger and richer than our expectations. He "doeth exceeding abundantly," etc. (Ephesians 3:20). Solomon had prayed "That thine eyes may be open towards this house." God answers, "Mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually." The very heart of God dwells where His suppliant people are. This anthropopathic mode of speech is a gracious Divine accommodation to our human wants and weaknesses. God condescends to us that we may the better rise to Him. It is the necessarily imperfect yet most welcome expression of a sublime reality that we could not otherwise know. God has a tender "heart" towards us as well as an observant "eye." And wherever we seek Him with all our hearts there His heart responds to the throbbing of ours—a sympathetic personal Presence, meeting our approach, pitying our necessities, giving love for love. Note, too, the constancy of this grace—"forever." "perpetually." "The gifts and calling of God are without repentance." Wherever He records His name there He "dwells." When He blesses, when He gives or forgives, it is "forever." If the grace is cancelled, if the benediction is withdrawn, the fault is ours, not His. "Though we believe not, yet He abideth faithful; He cannot deny Himself" (2 Timothy 2:18).
(2) In the repetition of the promise, "If thou wilt walk before me," etc. (1 Kings 9:4, 1 Kings 9:5). The promise is reiterated as a sacred and inviolable engagement which God on His part will never break. "The sure mercies of David." All Divine promises are sure. We have but to place ourselves in the line of their fulfilment and all is well with us. They are steadfast as the ordinances of heaven and earth. Natural laws are God's promises in the material realm. Obedience to them is the sure path to physical well being. Are His counsels in the moral and spiritual sphere likely to be less steadfast and reliable? Heaven and earth shall pass away, but the promises of His grace can never fail. "They stand fast forever and ever and are done in truth and uprightness" (Psalms 111:8).
II. THE INFIDELITY OF MAN AND THE FATAL CONSEQUENCES THAT FOLLOW IT. "But if ye shall at all turn from following me," etc. Here is a solemn note of warning, the presage of that guilty apostasy by which the Jewish people became in after years the most signal example to men and nations of the waywardness of human nature and the retributive justice of God. We are reminded that the faithfulness of God has a dark as well as a bright side to it. As the cloud that guided the march of the Israelites out of Egypt was light to them, but a source of blinding confusion and miserable discomfiture to their adversaries, so this and every other attribute of God bears a different aspect towards us according to the relation in which we stand to it, the side on which we place ourselves. Be true to Him, and every perfection of His being is a joy to you, a guide, a glory, a defence; forsake Him, and they become at once ministers of vengeance. Even His love, in its infinite rectitude and purity, dooms you to the penalty from which there can be no escape. Whether in the physical or the spiritual realms, one feature of the very beneficence of God's laws is that they must avenge themselves. Learn here
(1) that all human loss and misery spring from forsaking God. "If ye shall at all turn from following me, ye or your children," then shall all these woes come upon you. All sin is a departure from the living God. "My people have committed two evils, they have forsaken me," etc. (Jeremiah 2:13). Adam cast off his allegiance to God when He listened to the voice of the tempter. Idolatry in its deepest root has this meaning (see Romans 1:21-45.1.28). Every sinful life is a more or less intentional and deliberate renunciation of God, and its natural results are shame, and degradation, and death. The course of the prodigal in Christ's parable is a picture of the hopeless destitution of every soul that forsakes its home in God. "They that are far from thee shall perish" (Psalms 73:27).
(2) That according to the height of privilege so is the depth of the condemnation when that privilege is abused. The very height of the "hallowed house" shall make the ruin the more conspicuous and the more terrible. There is no heavier judgment that God pronounces upon men than when He says, "I will curse thy blessings." The best things are capable of the worst abuse. And when the highest sanctities of life are violated they become the worst grounds of reproach and sources of bitterness. The greater the elevation, the deeper and more dreadful the fall. "Thou Capernaum, which art exalted to heaven," etc. (Luke 10:15).
(3) That one inevitable penalty of transgression is contempt and scorn. "Israel shall be a proverb and a byword among all people." "He that passeth by shall be astonished and shall hiss." "When the salt has lost its savour it is henceforth good for nothing but to be cast out and trodden under foot of men" (Matthew 5:13). The wicked may be in honour now, but the time is coming when they "shall awake to shame and everlasting contempt."—W.
SOLOMON'S BUILDINGS AND UNDERTAKINGS.—So far the historian has spoken exclusively of the two greatest works of Solomon's reign, the Temple and the Palace, and principally of the former. Even the message just related was, as we have seen, the response to the prayer offered when the temple was consecrated. But he now proceeds to mention other proofs of Solomon's greatness, and of the prosperity of his reign—doubtless because the glory of Israel then reached its climax, and the author would be tempted to linger over these details because of the dark contrast which his own time supplied—and this leads him to speak of the means by which all these enterprises were accomplished. The particulars here given are but fragmentary, and are grouped together in a somewhat irregular manner. It would seem as if both this account and that of the chronicler had been compiled from much more copious histories, each writer having cited those particulars which appeared to him to be the most interesting and important. But the design of the historian in either case is evident, viz.,
(1) to recount the principal undertakings of this illustrious king, and
(2) to indicate the resources which enabled him to accomplish such ambitious and extensive designs.
These latter were
(1) the alliance with Hiram, which secured him the necessary materials (1 Kings 9:11-11.9.14);
(2) the forced labour of the subject races (1 Kings 9:20-11.9.23); and
(3) the voyages of his fleet (1 Kings 9:26-11.9.28).
1 Kings 9:10
And it came to pass at the end of twenty years [seven of which were occupied on the temple and thirteen on the palace (1 Kings 7:1) ], when [or, during which. LXX. ἐν οἷς ὠκοδομὴσε. This may well be the meaning of אֲשׁר בָּנָה, though אֲשֶׁר, qui, undoubtedly sometimes has the sense of quum] Solomon had built the two houses, the house of the Lord and the king's house. [Observe how all the palaces are regarded as one house. Note on 1 Kings 7:1.]
1 Kings 9:11
(Now Hiram the king of Tyre [Here we have a parenthesis referring us back to 1 Kings 5:8-11.5.10] had furnished Solomon with cedar trees and with fir trees and with gold [The gold is here mentioned for the first time, No doubt Hiram's shipping had brought it in Before the Jewish navy was built. It was this probably that led to the construction of a fleet] according to all his desire), that then [this is the apodosis to 1 Kings 9:10] king Solomon gave Hiram twenty cities [really they were mere villages. "It is a genuine Eastern trick to dignify a small present with a pompous name" (Thomson). But עִיר is a word of very wide meaning] in the land of Galilee. גּלִיל lit; circuit, region (like Ciccar, 1 Kings 7:46), hence often found as here with the art. = the region of the Gentiles (Isaiah 9:1; Isaiah 1:0 Macc. 5:15; Matthew 4:15), so called because it was inhabited by Phoenicians, originally designated but a small part of the considerable tract of country later known as the province of "Galilee," viz; the northern part in the tribe of Naphtali (Joshua 20:7; 2 Kings 15:29; Isaiah 9:1. Cf. Jos; Ant. 5.1.18). It is easy to see why this particular region was surrendered to Hiram.
(1) It was near his country (2 Samuel 24:7);
(2) the people were Phoenicians, allied to Hiram, but strangers to Solomon, both in race and religion;
(3) Solomon could not with propriety alienate any part of Immanuel's land, or convey to a foreigner the dominion over the people of the Lord. Leviticus 25:23 forbade the alienation of the land; Deuteronomy 17:15 the rule of a stranger.
1 Kings 9:12
And Hiram came out from Tyre to see the cities which Solomon had given him; and they pleased him not. [Heb. were not right in his eyes. It has been conjectured that Hiram had hoped for the noble bay of Acco or Ptolemais (Milman, Rawlinson), but surely he had seaboard enough already. It was rather corn lands he would most need and desire. His disappointment is amply accounted for by the fact that the country assigned him was a hungry and mountainous, and therefore comparatively useless, tract. "The region lay on the summit of a broad mountain ridge" (Porter).]
1 Kings 9:13
And he said, What cities are these which thou hast given me, my brother? [Cf. 1 Kings 20:32. It would seem, at first sight, as if this form of speech was then, as now, the usage of courts. But the Fellahin of Palestine, the "modern Canaanites," still address each other as "my father" or "my brother." See Conder, "Tent-work," p. 332]. And he called them the land of Cabul [The meaning of this word is quite uncertain. The LXX. reads Οριον, which shows that they must have read גבול instead of כבול; indeed, it is possible that the words have the same meaning (Gesen.) Stanley thinks these cities formed the boundary between the two kingdoms, and refers to the use of ὅρια in Matthew 15:21; Luke 6:17, etc. According to Josephus, Χαβαλὼν, is a Phoenician word, meaning displeasing; but his etymologies are to be received with caution, and Gesenius justly pronounces this a mere conjecture from the context. Thenius and Ewald regard the word as compounded of כand בל = as nothing; Keil connects it with the root חבל, which would yield the meaning pawned or pledged, and hence concludes that, this strip of territory was merely given to Hiram as a security for the repayment of a loan (see below on Luke 6:14); while Bähr derives it from כבל, an unused root, akin to the preceding—vinxit, constrinxit, and would see in it a name bestowed on the region because of its confined geographical position. He does not understand the word, however, as a term of contempt. "How," he asks, "could Hiram give the district a permanent name which contained a mockery of himself rather than of the land?" But the word was obviously an expression of disparagement, if not disgust, which, falling from Hiram's lips, was caught up and repeated with a view to mark not so much his displeasure as Solomon's meanness. But it is not necessary to find a meaning for the word, for it is to be considered that a city Bearing this name existed at that time and in this neighbourhood (Joshua 19:27), the site of which, in all probability, is marked by the modern Kabul, eight miles east of Accho. It is possible, indeed, that it may have been one of the "twenty cities" (Luke 6:11) given to Hiram. And if this city, whether within or without the district of Galilee, were notorious for its poverty or meanness, or conspicuous by its bleak situation, we can at once understand why Hiram should transfer the name to the adjoining region, even if that name, in itself, had no special significance] unto this day. [See on 1 Kings 8:8.]
1 Kings 9:14
And Hiram sent וַיִּשְלַח must be understood as pluperfect, "Now Hiram had sent," referring to 1 Kings 9:11. This fact is mentioned to explain the gift of the cities, viz; that they were in payment for the gold he had furnished. The timber and stone and labour had been paid for in corn and wine and oil See on 1 Kings 5:11] to the king sixscore talents of gold. [This sum is variously estimated at from half a million to a million and a quarter of our money.. Keil, who, as we have seen, interprets Cabul to mean pledged, says somewhat positively that these 120 talents were merely lent to Solomon to enable him to prosecute his undertakings, and that the twenty cities were Hiram's security for its repayment. He further sees in the restoration of these cities (2 Chronicles 8:2, where see note) a proof that Solomon must have repaid the amount lent him. The "sixscore talents "should be compared with the 120 talents of 1 Kings 10:10, and the 666 talents of 1 Kings 10:14.]
1 Kings 9:15
And this is the reason [or manner, account, דָּבָר. Keil: "This is the case with regard to," etc. The historian now proceeds to speak of the forced labour. The LXX. inserts this and the next nine verses after 1 Kings 10:22] of the levy [see on 1 Kings 5:13, and 1 Kings 12:18] which Solomon raised; for to build [The punctuation of the A.V. is misleading. The Hebrew has no break—"which Solomon raised for building," etc.] the house of the Lord and his own house and Millo [Heb. invariably, the Millo, as in 2 Samuel 5:9; 1Ki 11:27; 2 Kings 12:20; 2 Chronicles 32:5; LXX. ἡ ἄκρα. The import of the word is much disputed, but Wordsworth has but slight warrant for say. ing that it means fortress. According to some it is an archaic Canaanitish term, "adopted by the Israelites when they took the town and incorporated into their own nomenclature", an idea which finds some support in Judges 9:6, Judges 9:20. Mr. Grove would further see in it a name for Mount Zion, ἀκρα being the invariable designation of that part of the city in the Maccabees. But see Joshua, B. J. 5.4. 1; Ant. 15.11. 5; and Porter, 1. pp. 96, 109. Lewin identifies it with the great platform on which temple and palace alike were built. But the word yields a definite meaning in the (= מְלוֹא, "the filling in"). Gesenius Hebrew consequently understands it to mean, a rampart (agger) because this is built up and filled in with stones, earth, etc. And the name would have a special fitness if we might suppose that it was applied to that part of the wall of Jerusalem which crossed the Tyropaeon valley. This ravine, which practically divided the city into two parts, would have been the weakest spot in the line of circumvallation, unless it were partly filled in—it is now completely choked up by debris, etc.—and protected by special fortifications; and, if this were done, and we can hardly doubt it was done (see on 1 Kings 11:27), Hammillo, "the filling in," would be its natural and appropriate name. And its mention, here and elsewhere, in connexion with the wall, lends some support to this view] and the wall of Jerusalem [We learn from 2 Samuel 5:9 that David had already built Millo and the wall. Rawlinson argues from 1 Kings 11:27 that these repairs had been "hasty, and had now—fifty years later—fallen into decay," and that Solomon renewed them. More probably the words indicate an enlargement of the Tyropaeon rampart, and an extension of the walls. See note there and on 1 Kings 3:1. Solomon, no doubt, wished to strengthen the defences of the capital, on which he had expended so much labour, and where there was so much to tempt the rapacity of predatory neighbours] and Hazor [For the defence of the kingdom he built a chain of fortresses "to form a sort of girdle round the land" (Ewald). The first mentioned, Hazor, was a place of great importance in earlier times, being the "head of all those (the northern) kingdoms" (Joshua 11:10). It stood on an eminence—as indeed, for the sake of security, did all the cities of that lawless age—overlooking Lake Merom. It was at no great distance from the north boundary of Palestine, in Naphtali (Joshua 19:36), and being favoured by position, it was strongly fortified—Hazor means fortress—and hence Joshua made a point of destroying it. It appears, however, to have speedily regained its importance, for in Judges 4:2, Judges 4:17 we find it as the capital of Jabin, king of Canaan. It was selected by Solomon as the best site for a stronghold, which should protect his northern border, dud as commanding the approach from Syria. As it is not mentioned in 1 Kings 15:20, it would appear to have escaped in the invasion of Benhadad. Possibly it was too strong for him] and Megiddo [Joshua 12:21; Joshua 17:11; Judges 5:19. This place was chosen partly because of its central position—it stood on the margin of the plain of Esdraelon, the battlefield of Palestine, and the battles fought there prove its strategical importance, Judges 5:19 (cf. 1 Samuel 31:1); 2 Kings 23:29; Judith 3:9, 10—and partly, perhaps, because the high road from Egypt to Damascus passed through it. It dominated the passes of Ephraim (see Judith 4:7). It has till recently been identified with el-Lejjun (from Legio. Compare our Chester, etc.); but Conder gives good reasons for fixing the site at the "large ruins between Jezreel and Bethshean, which still bears the name of Mujedd'a, i.e; on the eastern side of the plain] and Gezer [This commanded the approach from Egypt, and would protect the southern frontier of Solomon's kingdom. See Joshua 10:33; Joshua 12:12; Joshua 21:21; Judges 1:29; 2Sa 5:25; 1 Chronicles 20:4. It stands on the great maritime plain, and is also on the coast road between Egypt and Jerusalem. The site was identified by M. Clermont Ganneau with Tell Jezer. The name means "cut off," "isolated" (Gesen.) "The origin of the title is at once clear, for the site is an out-lier—to use a geological term—of the main line of hills and the position commands one of the important passes to Jerusalem".
The mention of Gezer leads to a parenthesis of considerable length (verses 16-19). The question of the levy is put aside for the time, whilst the historian explains how it was that the king came to build Gezer. He then proceeds to mention the other towns built during the same reign.
1 Kings 9:16
For Pharaoh king of Egypt had gone up and taken Gezer and burnt it with fire [The total destruction of the place and its inhabitants by fire and sword looks more like an act of vengeance for some grave offence than like ordinary warfare], and slain the Canaanites that dwelt in the city [Though Gezer was allotted to Ephraim (Joshua 16:3) and designated as a Levitical city (ib; 1 Kings 21:21), the Canaanite inhabitants had never been dispossessed (Joshua 16:10; LXX. "Canaanites and Perizzites;" cf. Judges 1:29), and they would seem to have enjoyed a sort of independence], and given it for a present [שִׁלֻחִים, dotatio, dowry. It is the custom of the East for the husband to purchase his wife by a present (Genesis 29:18; 2 Samuel 3:14, etc.); but in royal marriages a dowry was often given. "Sargon gave Cilicia as a dowry with his daughter .... Antiochus Soter gave his claims on Macedonia as a dowry to his step-daughter Phila, when she married Antigonus Gonatas. Coele-Syria and Palestine were promised as a dowry to Ptolemy Epiphanes, when he married Cleopatra, sister of Antiochus the Great," etc. (Rawlinson). Gezer being a wedding present, its conquest must have taken place years before the date to which the history is now brought down] unto his daughter, Solomon's wife.
1 Kings 9:17
And Solomon built Gezer [In the case of Gezer it was an actual rebuilding. But as applied to Beth-boron, etc; "built" probably means enlarged, strengthened] and Beth-horon the nether [mentioned in connexion with Gezer, Joshua 16:3 (cf. Joshua 10:10). It is deserving of mention that the two cities of Beth-horon still survive in the modern villages of Beitur el-tahta and el-fok," names which are "clearly corruptions of Beth-horon "the Nether" and "the Upper": One lies at the foot of the ravine, on an eminence, the other at the summit of the pass. Like Megiddo and Gezer, this town, too, lay on a high road, viz; that between Jerusalem and the sea coast. The selection of Beth-horon for fortification by Solomon is also justified by history—three decisive battles having been fought here
] and Tadmor in the wilderness, in the land. [Whether this is
(1) the famous Palmyra, or
(2) Tamar, an obscure town of south Judah, is a question which has been much disputed. It should be stated in the first place that the Cethib has תמר, but the Keri, after 2 Chronicles 8:4, reads תדמר, as do all the versions; and secondly that a Tarnar is mentioned Ezekiel 47:19 and Ezekiel 48:28 a place which may well be identical with "Hazazon Tamar, which is Engedi" (2 Chronicles 20:2; cf. Genesis 14:7. In favour of (1) are the following considerations:
(1) the statement of the chronicler that Solomon did build Palmyra.
(2) The probability that Solomon, with his wide views of commerce, would seize upon and fortify the one oasis in the great Syrian desert in order to establish an entrepot there (see on Genesis 14:19).
(3) The words "in the wilderness," which, of course, are eminently true of Palmyra.
Against it, however, may be urged
(1) that Tamar was much more likely to be changed into Tadmor than Tadmor into Tamar.
(2) That this place is distinctly described as "in the land," which, strictly, Palmyra was not. But here it is to be observed that the chronicler omits these words, and that the Syriac, Arabic, and Vulgate render, "in the land of the wilderness." Keil says our text is manifestly corrupt, and certainly the expression is a singular one. Some would, therefore, alter בארץ into באדם, or into בחמת (after 2 Chronicles 8:4). Both of the emendations, however, while undoubtedly plausible, are purely conjectural. Wordsworth, who thinks Palmyra is meant, says it is described as "in the land" to indicate that God had fulfilled his promise to extend the land of Solomon far eastward into the wilderness (Psalms 72:9). And a Jewish historian, especially in the time of his country s decadence, might well recount how this great city had once been comprised within the boundaries of Israel.
In favour of (2) are these facts:
(1) That it is the reading of the text. It is said, however, that the ancient name of Tadmor was Tamar, and the place clearly owed its name to the Palm trees. But the name is always Tadmor in the Palmyrene inscriptions.
(2) That this place was "in the wilderness," i.e; of Judah.
(3) That it was "in the land," and
(4) that it was in close proximity to the places just mentioned. The evidence is thus so evenly balanced that it is impossible to decide positively between the two.
1 Kings 9:19
And all the cities of store that Solomon had [cities where the produce of the land was stored for the use of the troops or household, or against a season of scarcity (Genesis 41:35; Exodus 1:11), or possibly (Ewald) they were emporiums for the development of trade. The fact that these store cities are mentioned in the same breath with Tadmor, is an argument for the identification of that place with Palmyra, which Solomon could only have built as a means of gaining or retaining control over the caravan trade between the East and the Mediterranean. Cf. 2Ch 17:12; 2 Chronicles 32:28, and Genesis 41:48. They would seem to have been chiefly on the northern frontier, 2 Chronicles 8:4 ("in Hamath"), ib. 2 Chronicles 16:4 speaks of "the store cities of Napthali." It should be remembered that Solomon had an adversary in Damascus], and cities for his chariots, and cities for his horsemen [Cf. 1 Kings 4:26. These were not so much fortresses (1 Kings 4:15-11.4.18) as places adapted to accommodate his cavalry, etc. For horsemen we should perhaps read horses. See note on 1 Kings 5:6], and that which Solomon desired to build [Heb. and the desire of Solomon which he desired; cf. ver.
1. The use of the cognate verb refutes the idea that Solomon's "desire" is another name for pleasure buildings or pleasaunces, as does also "desire" in verse 11. It is certain, however, that such buildings were erected, and it is probable that they are referred to here] in Jerusalem and in Lebanon [It is highly probable that pleasure houses were built in Lebanon (So Hebrews 7:4, passim), for which Solomon may well have had a strong affection, and pleasure gardens in Jerusalem (Ecclesiastes 2:4-21.2.7). See Stanley, pp. 197-199); and we may reasonably imagine (with Ewald) that in these latter he sought to grow specimens of the plants, etc; about which he "spoke" (Heb 4:1-16 :33; cf. Ecclesiastes 2:5). "It is a curious fact that in the ground hard by the 'fountains of Solomon' near Bethlehem, which exhibit manifest traces of an ancient garden, and where the intimations of Josephus would lead us to suppose that Solomon had a rural retreat, are still to be found a number of plants self sown from age to age, which do not exist in any other part of the Holy Land". Some of Solomon's journeys to these favourite resorts, we can hardly doubt, are referred to in So Hebrews 3:6-58.3.10; Hebrews 4:8 sqq.; Hebrews 6:11] and in all the land of his dominion.
1 Kings 9:20
And all the people that were left of the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites [Judges 1:21-7.1.36; Judges 3:5; 1 Chronicles 22:2] which were not of the children of Israel.
1 Kings 9:21
Their children that were left after them in the land [this is explicative of 1 Kings 9:20], whom the children of Israel also [also is not in the Hebrew, and is meaningless] were not able utterly to destroy, upon those did Solomon levy a tribute of bond service [see on 1 Kings 5:13, and cf. Judges 1:1-7.1.36; passim, and 1 Chronicles 22:2] unto this day.
1 Kings 9:22
But of the children of Israel did Solomon make no bondmen [see however 1Ki 5:13, 1 Kings 5:18. This service, though compulsory, was not servile. Bondage was forbidden Leviticus 25:39. The levy were treated as hired servants and had wages]; but they were men of war, and his servants [cf. 1 Kings 1:9. Not only "officials of the war department" (Bähr) but officers of every kind], and his princes [these were the heads both of the military and civil services], and his captains [Heb. שָׁלִשָׁיו. LXX. τρωτάται. Exodus 14:7; Exodus 15:4; 2 Samuel 23:8; 2Ki 9:25; 2 Kings 10:25, etc. These third men were really "a noble rank of soldiers who fought from chariots" (Gesen.), each of which would seem to have held three men, one of whom drove, while two fought: thence used of the bodyguard of kings. That they formed a corps, and were not literally "captains," is clear from 1 Samuel 23:8, etc.] and rulers of his chariots, and his horsemen.
1 Kings 9:23
These were the chief of the Officers that were over Solomon's work; five hundred and fifty, which bare rule over the people that wrought in the work [see on 1 Kings 5:16].
1 Kings 9:24
But [אַךְ, lit. only. Keil rightly connects the word with אַז below. "So soon as.. then." Cf. Genesis 27:30. This and Genesis 27:25 are not interposed arbitrarily, as might at first sight appear, but refer to 1 Kings 3:1-11.3.4. The completion of the palaces rendered it no longer necessary or proper that Solomon's daughter should dwell in a separate house. The chronicler tells us that she had dwelt in David's palace on Mount Zion, and that Solomon was constrained to remove her, because he looked upon all the precinct as now consecrated (2 Chronicles 8:11) ]. Pharaoh's daughter came up [עָלְתָה. Keil hence argues that the palace stood on higher ground than David's house. But this conclusion is somewhat precarious. The approach to the palace involved an ascent, but Zion was certainly as high as Ophel] out of the city of David unto her house which Solomon [Heb. he] had built for her: then did he build Millo. [Thenius infers from these words that Mille was a fort or castle for the protection of the harem. But there is no warrant for any such conjecture. In the first place, this wife would seem to have been lodged in her own palace apart from the other wives.
2. We can offer a better explanation of the word Mille (see verse 15).
3. The word "then" may mean either
(1), that when her palace was completed, Solomon then had workmen who were liberated and were employed on Mille (Keil), or
(2), that when she vacated David's house, the building of Mille could be proceeded with.
1 Kings 9:25
And three times in a year [i.e; no doubt at the three feasts, the times of greatest solemnity, and when there was the largest concourse of people. See 2 Chronicles 8:12. The design of this verse may be to show that there was no longer any offering on high places. It would thus refer to 1 Kings 3:2, as 1 Kings 3:24 to 1 Kings 3:1] did Solomon offer burnt offerings and peace offerings upon the altar which he built unto the Lord [the chronicler adds, "before the porch"], and he burnt incense. [It has been supposed by some that Solomon sacrificed and burnt incense propria manu. According to Dean Stanley, "he solemnly entered, not only the temple courts with sacrifices, but penetrated into the Holy Place itself, where in later years none but the priests were allowed to enter, and offered incense on the altar of incense." But this positive statement is absolutely destitute of all basis. For, in the first place, there is nothing in the text to support it. If Solomon ordered, or defrayed the cost of, the sacrifices, etc; as no doubt he did, the historian would properly and naturally describe him as offering burnt offerings. Qui facit per alium facit per se, and priests are expressly mentioned as present at these sacrifices (1 Kings 8:6; 2Ch 5:7-14; 2 Chronicles 7:2, 2 Chronicles 7:5). We have just as much reason, and no more, for believing that the king built Mille (1 Kings 3:24) with his own hands, and with his own hands "made a navy of ships" (1 Kings 3:26), as that he sacrificed, etc; in propria persona. And, secondly, it is simply inconceivable, if he had so acted, that it should have attracted no more notice, and that our historian should have passed it over thus lightly. We know what is recorded by our author as having happened when, less than two centuries afterwards, King Uzziah presumed to intrude on the functions of the priests (2 Chronicles 26:17-14.26.20); cf. 1 Kings 13:1), and we know what had happened some five centuries before (Numbers 16:35), when men who were not of the seed of Aaron came near to offer incense before the Lord. It is impossible that Solomon could have disregarded that solemn warning without some protest, or without a syllable of blame on the part of our author. And the true account of these sacrifices is that they were offered by the king as the builder of the temple, and probably throughout his life, by the hands of the ministering priests (2 Chronicles 8:14). Thrice in the year he showed his piety by a great function, at which he offered liberally] upon the altar [Heb. upon that, sc. altar אתּוֹ. See Gesen. Lex; p. 94; Ewald, Syntax, 332a (3) ] that was before the Lord. [The altar of incense stood before the entrance to the oracle, the place of the Divine presence. See on 1 Kings 6:22-11.6.23. So he finished the house. [Same word, but in the Kal form in 1 Kings 7:51. The Piel form, used here, may convey the deeper meaning, "he perfected," i.e; by devoting it to its proper use. It was to be "a house of sacrifice" (2 Chronicles 7:12).
1 Kings 9:26
And king Solomon made a navy of ships [Heb. אֱנִי, a collective noun, classis. The chronicler paraphrases by אֱנִיוֹת, plural. This fact finds a record here, probably because it was to the voyages of this fleet that the king was indebted for the gold which enabled him to erect and adorn the buildings recently described.. But no historian could pass over without notice an event of such profound importance to Israel as the construction of its first ships, which, next to the temple, was the great event of Solomon's reign] in Ezion-geber [lit; the backbone of a man (or giant). Cf. Numbers 33:35; Deu 2:8; 2 Kings 4:22; 2 Chronicles 8:17. The name is probably due, like Shechem (see note on 1 Kings 12:25) to a real or fancied resemblance in the physical geography of the country to that part of the human body. Stanley speaks of "the jagged ranges on each side of the gulf." Akaba, the modern name, also means back. 2 Chronicles l.c. says Solomon went to Ezion-geber, which it is highly probable he would do], which is beside [Heb. אֵת =aloud (Gesen; Lex. s.v.)] Eloth [lit; trees akin to Elim, where were palm trees (Exodus 15:27; Exodus 16:1). The name is interesting as suggesting that Solomon may have found some of the timber for the construction of his fleet here. A grove of palm trees "still exists at the head of the gulf of Akaba". Palms, it is true, are not adapted to shipbuilding, but other timber may have grown there in a past age. But see note on verse 27. For Elath, see Porter, p. 40; Deuteronomy 2:8; 2 Samuel 8:14 (which shows how it passed into the hand of Israel); 2 Kings 8:20; 2 Kings 14:22; 2 Kings 16:6. It gave a name to the Elanitic Gulf, now the Gulf of Akaba], on the shore [Heb. lip] of the Red sea [Heb. Sea of Rushes. LXX. ἡ ἐρυθρὰ θάλασσα. The redness is due to subaqueous vegetation. "Fragments of red coral are forever being thrown up from the stores below, and it is these coral-line forests which form the true 'weeds' of this fantastic sea". There is also apparently a bottom of red sandstone. It is divided by the Sinaitic peninsula into two arms or gulfs, the western being the Gulf of Suez, and the eastern the Gulf of Akabah. The former is 130 miles, the latter 90 miles long], in the land of Edom. [The subjugation of Edom is mentioned 2 Samuel 8:14.]
1 Kings 9:27
And Hiram sent in the navy his servants, shipmen that had knowledge of the sea with the servants of Solomon. [The chronicler states (2 Chronicles 8:18) that he sent ships as well as servants, and it has been thought that ships were transported, in parts or entire, by land across the Isthmus of Suez, and there are certainly instances on record of the land transport of fleets. the Peloponnesians conveyed 60 ships from Corcyra across the Leucadian Isthmus, etc.) But this, especially when the state of engineering science, etc; among the Hebrews is taken into account, is hardly to be thought of. It is quite possible, however, that timber for shipbuilding was floated on the Mediterranean down to the river of Egypt, or some such place, and then transported either to Suez or to Akaba. Probably all that the chronicler means is that Hiram provided the materials and had the ships built. The Israelites, having hitherto had no fleet, and little or no experience of the sea, were unable to construct ships for themselves. And the Tyrians may have seen in the construction of a fleet for eastern voyages, an opening for the extension of their own maritime trade. Possibly in the first voyages Tyriaus and Jews were copartners.]
1 Kings 9:28
And they came to Ophir [It is perhaps impossible to identify this place with any degree of precision. The opinions of scholars may, however, be practically reduced to two, The first would place Ophir in India; the second in southern Arabia. In favour of India is
(1) the three years' voyage (but see on 1 Kings 10:22);
(2) most of the other treasures brought back by the fleet, exclusive of gold, are Indian products. But against it is urged the important fact that no gold is now found there, south of Cashmere, whilst south Arabia was famed for its abundant gold (Psalms 72:15; Ezekiel 27:22). On the other hand, it is alleged that in ancient times India was rich in gold, and that there are no traces of gold mines in Arabia. The question is discussed at considerable length and with great learning by Mr. Twisleton (Dict. Bib. art. "Ophir"). He shows that it is reasonably certain
(1) that the Ophir of Genesis 10:29 is the name of some city, region, or tribe in Arabia, and
(2) that the Ophir of Genesis is the Ophir of the Book of Kings. And Gesenius, Bähr, Keil, al. agree with him in locating Ophir in the latter country. Ewald, however, sees in Ophir "the most distant coasts of India," and it is probable that the Hebrews used the word somewhat loosely, as they did the corresponding word Tarshish, and as we do the words East and West Indies. They were not geographers, and Ophir may have been merely an emporium where the products of different countries were collected, or a nomen generale for "all the countries lying on the African, Arabian, or Indian seas, so far as at that time known" (Heeren). See on 1 Kings 10:5], and fetched from thence gold, four hundred and twenty talents [The chronicler says 450. The discrepancy is easily accounted for, 20 being expressed by ; 50 by .נ Wordsworth suggests that "perhaps thirty were assigned to Hiram for his help"] and brought it to king Solomon.
1 Kings 9:25
The Two Altars of Judaism.
This text is somewhat remarkable as brining before us at the same moment the two altars of the Jewish Church—the great brazen altar of sacrifice and the golden altar of incense. The present is therefore, perhaps, a fitting place to study their use and significance.
For it is with good reason that they are here joined together. Though the ritual of the first was quite distinct from that of the second, yet each was an essential part of the same religious system; each was a centre of Hebrew worship. Moreover the second was the complement of the first. Incense was the appropriate adjunct of sacrifice. And the two together formed practically the sum of the ordinary ceremonial of the children of the old covenant.
The altars themselves, however, will require but little notice, for they both alike derived their interest and importance from the purposes they served. The altar of sacrifice is not even mentioned by our historian in his account of the temple arrangements; while the chronicler dismisses it in a single verse. And neither the Kings nor the Chronicles describe the size, structure, etc; of the altar of incense. It is true the altar "sanctified the gift" (Matthew 23:19; Exo 29:1-46 :87, Exodus 29:44), perhaps sanctified the incense also (but see Exo 30:1-38 :85-37), but all the same, the sacrifice and the incense, not the brazen or the golden altars, are the important and significant things. The two altars, that is to say, really bring before us the two questions of Sacrifice and Incense.
I. THE ALTAR OF SACRIFICE. But before we turn our thoughts to the sacrifices smoking on the altar, let us glance for a moment at the altar itself. Observe—
1. Its position. Outside the temple, the "house of sacrifice" (2 Chronicles 7:12; Matthew 23:35), but in the court of the priests, and, therefore, exclusively for the service of the priests.
2. Its dimensions. It was fifteen feet high, and its top was a square of thirty feet (2 Chronicles 4:1). It was designedly high—the altar of the tabernacle was but four and a half feet high. It was high, despite the inconveniences resulting therefrom. The height required that a ledge or platform should be constructed round it; that a long slope or flight of steps should be ascended in order to reach it; and that the layers and sea should be high in proportion (1 Kings 7:23, 1 Kings 7:25, 1 Kings 7:27, 1 Kings 7:38). Its great size and capacity—it presented a superficies of 900 square feet—was because of the great number of victims which were occasionally offered upon it at one time.
3. Its horns. These were no freak of the architect, but were of the essence of the structure, and of Divine obligation (Exodus 27:2). The blood was put upon them (Exodus 29:12; Le Exodus 4:7,Exodus 4:18, Exodus 4:30, 34; Exodus 8:15; Exodus 9:9, etc.); the sacrifice, at least in early times, was bound to them (Psalms 118:27); the suppliant for life clung to them (1 Kings 1:50; 1 Kings 2:28, etc.) The altar was designed, that is to say, for sacrifice; but it also served at the same time for sanctuary.
And now let us look at the sacrifice, at "the gift upon the altar." Observe—
1. It is an offering. Whatever the character of the sacrifice, burnt offering, sin offering, peace offering, meat offering, it was an offering, a gift. Whether whole bullocks were consumed, or only the fat, kidneys, etc; it had been first consecrated, devoted, given, to God. This is, perhaps, the primary idea of sacrifice. The victim must be presented before it could be immolated.
2. It was ordinarily an offering made by fire (1 Samuel 2:28). The holy fire kindled by God (Le 1 Kings 9:24), and which for long centuries was never suffered to go out (Le 1 Kings 6:13), the element which at that time, and ever since, has been regarded in the East as an image of the Godhead, if not a sign of His presence, this consumed everything. The tongues of flame not only carried the smoke and smell of the sacrifice—hecatomb, holocaust, whatever it was—up into the blue sky and to the throne of God, but they, so to speak, devoured the victim; they feasted on the sacrifice.
3. It was an offering of life. Not only was this a matter of fact—that the victim was first slain, then offered on the altar, but this idea was expressed in the ritual of the sacrifice. The blood was poured out at the foot of the altar, or sprinkled on its horns, or borne into the most holy place. But the blood is the life of the flesh (Le 1 Kings 17:11), and hence the sprinkling of the blood was the core and centre of all sacrifice. The very separation of the elements again—the blood poured in one place, the flesh or fat burnt at another—pictured death; for when the blood is withdrawn from the body death ensues. The consuming fire, too, spoke of death. So that in sacrifice men offered to God the most mysterious and precious of man's possessions and of God's gifts, the life, the ψυχή, which came from God and went back to God. It was an old and reasonable belief that the gods would have our nearest and dearest—see Tennyson's beautiful poem, "The Victim"—hence the gift to the altar was the life.
4. It was an offering for life. The full significance of sacrifice, we may readily believe, the Jew did not know. It is doubtful whether even the high priest comprehended the blessed meaning of those solemn rites in which he bore a part. But this they did know, that the life offered at the altar was an atonement for their life. The lex talionis, "an eye for an eye," etc. (Exodus 21:24), had taught them this. So had much of their expressive ceremonial, e.g; the laying of the hands on the head of the victim, etc. (Le 1 Kings 3:2; 1 Kings 4:4, etc.) So above all had the express words of Scripture, "The life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar for an atonement for your souls (Heb. lives, same word as above), for it is the blood that maketh atonement for the soul" (Heb. through the life, sc. of the blood) Le 1 Kings 17:11. They understood, that is, that sacrifice was not only eucharistic, but that it was also deprecatory and in some way expiatory. They hoped that it would somehow reconcile them and restore them to communion with God, the Life, the Anima animantium.
More than this, however, the Jewish worshipper did not see in the sacrifice. But for us who turn our gaze to Mount Moriah from the hill of Calvary, it has an additional significance. We may see in it—
5. A picture of the offering of Jesus Christ. An imperfect picture, no doubt—a shadow, a type, a parable, but still the outline is clear and distinct. We see here the priest, the victim, the altar, the mactation, the blood pouring, the elevation, the death. As a picture, indeed, all sacrifice "showed the Lord's death" (1 Corinthians 11:26) much more vividly and touchingly than the Holy Communion does.
6. A pleading of the death of Christ. This is the crown and blossom of sacrifice. It was an ἀνάμνησις, a silent but eloquent memorial before God. Only thus can we adequately explain the elaborate sacrificial system of Moses. From any other point of view sacrifices are, as Coleridge confessed, an enigma. But see in them tokens, memorials, pleadings of the one vicarious death, and all is clear. Then we can comprehend why they should have offered thousands of victims "year by year continually." Every bullock, every sheep, was, though the worshippers knew it not, a mute reminder of the one sacrifice for sin. Each was a foreshadowing of the death; the death of Him who is "the life" (John 14:6); each spoke to the heart of God of the precious blood of Christ. Let us trace the parallel a little more in detail.
1. The Altar prefigured the Cross.
(1) In its position. The true altar of incense is in heaven. The altar of sacrifice was altogether of this world; it was in the truest sense "an altar of earth." But while outside the temple of heaven, the cross was yet in the court of the priests for "Immanuel's land" was a sort of precinct or forecourt of the eternal sanctuary, and it was the home of a nation of priests (Exodus 19:6). Hence we may learn
(1) that sacrifice is only offered where there is sin, and
(2) that the cross goes together with the kingdom (Revelation 1:5, Revelation 1:6); it is the altar of the Holy Catholic Church.
(2) In its elevation. Probably the altar was made high to give it due honour and prominence, or there may have been the thought of elevating the sacrifice towards heaven. But, whatever the reason, it struck the eye; everyone saw that it was the centre and ornament and distinguishing mark of the court of the priests. Now the cross itself was probably raised but two or three feet above the ground—pictures generally represent it incorrectly—but it was planted on a hill. Conder identifies Calvary with a rounded knoll, above a cliff or precipice some thirty feet high, near the Damascus gate), and it still—and this is the important thing—"towers above the wreck of time." It is still the glory and badge and attraction of Christ's people of priests. It was fitting, too, that He should be raised above earth who was from above (Joh 3:1-36 :81); that He should be suspended between earth and heaven who should reconcile earth to heaven.
(3) The cross had no horns, but it had arms—arms to which the victim was bound, arms which were stained with His blood, arms which offer shelter and sanctuary to the world.
"Lord, on the cross Thine arms were stretched,
To draw Thy people nigh," etc.
2. The Sacrifice prefigured the Crucifixion. It is hardly needful or possible here to point out in what manifold ways the various sacrifices of the Law foreshadowed the oblation of Calvary. It must suffice to say here that this too was a voluntary offering (Hebrews 9:14), a whole offering (כָלִיל—cf. Hebrews 10:10, etc.), the grateful savour of which ascended (the idea of the word עֹלָה) to heaven (Genesis 8:21; Ephesians 5:2); that the life was given (Matthew 20:28) and blood poured (1 Peter 1:2); that the blood was poured for the remission of sins (Matthew 26:28; Hebrews 9:22), and the life given for the life of the world (John 6:51). It is for us to lay our hands on the head of the sacrifice, and the analogy is complete. We must bring no offering of our own merits, but must take refuge under the arms of the Cross—
"Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to thy Cross I cling."
It must not be supposed, however, that because sacrifices, properly so called, have ceased, because they have found their blessed fulfilment in "the one offering," "once for all" (Hebrews 10:10, Hebrews 10:14), therefore the pictures and pleadings of that offering have ceased also. On the contrary, the death of Calvary, which cannot be repeated, is forever pleaded (Revelation 5:6) in the heavenly temple. In this sense it is a continual offering (Exodus 29:42). And it is also pleaded by the Church on earth. For the holy sacrament, like the sacrifice, tells of death, and of the same vicarious and victorious death. The sacrifice pleaded the merits of Him who should come; the sacrament the merits of One who has come. The first was, the second is, an ἀνάμνησις of the death which won our life.
II. THE ALTAR OF INCENSE. It is often forgotten that Judaism had two altars. But who shall say that the altar of incense was less important or less gracious than that of sacrifice.
A few simple questions will perhaps best bring this subject of incense before us. Let us therefore ask—
1. What was the incense! It was (see Exodus 30:34 sqq.)
(1) a confection of sweet spices; a compound of the most fragrant and grateful products of the earth, which when burned emitted a pleasing odour.
(2) A perfume ordained of God. Its constituents and their proportions were alike prescribed (ib. verses 34, 35). These were to be "tempered (Heb. salted) together." Hence the scrupulous care with which it was prepared and preserved in the "house of Abtines." And hence the probability that the story of thirteen ingredients (Joshua; B. J. 5.5. 5) of the addition of cassia, cinnamon, etc; to the elements mentioned in the Law, is a Rabbinical fable. Such a confection would have been "strange incense."
(3) It was a perfume reserved for God (Exodus 30:37, Exodus 30:38). None might be made for private use under pain of death (Exodus 30:38). Hence it was called "most holy" (Heb. holy of holies).
2. Where was it offered? In two places. Occasionally in the most holy place; usually on the golden altar which stood before that place. Hence this altar is spoken of as "before the Lord," and is called "the altar that belongeth to the oracle" (1 Kings 6:22). It was clearly, therefore, and peculiarly an offering to God, whose throne was in the sanctuary, and whose palace was the temple. It was burnt before the Presence, whose seat was between the cherubim. Indeed, it is not improbable that it was only burnt outside the oracle, because the priests must not enter the most holy place. (The golden altar, as we have just seen, really "belonged to the oracle.") When the high priest did enter, on the day of atonement, the incense was burnt within the veil. And the Sadducees were accounted heretical because they contended that the incense might be kindled outside and then carried inside the holy of holies.
3. When was it burned? It was burned
(1) morning and evening. When the lamps were trimmed at the break of day; when the lamps were lighted at the approach of night. Thus every little life—for our days are "lives in miniature"—was rounded off with incense. There was not a day for many hundred years but began and ended with this sweet service.
(2) With the morning and evening sacrifice. It was bound up with the offerings of the great altar. "Mane, inter sanguinem et membra suffiebat, vesperi, inter membra et libamina" (Talmud, quoted by Lightfoot). "When the incense and prayers were finished, the parts of the victim were laid on the altar." So that the incense and the sacrifice were really parts of the same service. The two altars of Judaism presented their offerings to heaven at the same time.
(3) It was a "perpetual incense" (Exodus 30:8), just as the sacrifice is called a continual burnt offering (Exodus 29:42). The sweet perfume, we may remember here, never died out in the holy place. There was an everlasting fragrance, year in, year out, in the earthly abode of the heavenly King.
(4) It was offered together with prayer. See Luke 1:10; Revelation 5:8; Revelation 8:1-66.8.4; and Lightfoot, "Hebrews and Talm. Exerc. on Luke 1:10."
4. By whom was it offered?
(1) By the priests. Originally, it is believed, by the high priest exclusively, but subsequently a priest was chosen by lot (Luke 1:9) to perform this office each morning and each evening. And we are told that as this was esteemed the most honourable of all the functions of the priests, and as a blessing was thought to be attached to its performance, the lot was cast among those who were "new to the incense," i.e; among those who had not offered it already.
(2) By the priests alone. No function was more jealously guarded than this. On two memorable occasions (Numbers 16:35-4.16.40; 2 Chronicles 26:16 sqq.) a terrible dispensation proclaimed that "no stranger, who was not of the seed of Aaron, should come near to offer incense before the Lord."
5. Why was it offered? Maimonides held that it was merely, or principally, designed to counteract the stench which would arise from the victims slain for the morning and evening sacrifice. Others have beheld in it merely a recognition of the majesty and sovereignty of God, and have seen its counterpart in the perfumes which were offered before the monarchs of the East (cf. Matthew 2:11). But a moment's reflection will show that both these conceptions are miserably inadequate and unworthy. It is inconceivable that so prominent and essential a part of the Jewish system can have had no higher meaning or have no analogue in Christianity. It is universally admitted that the brazen altar and its sacrifices were fall of symbolism. How can we think that while these prefigured Christ's death the golden altar and its incense foreshadowed nothing. No, they must have typified something, and something connected with the work of the eternal Son of God.
For observe, just as there is an altar raised on Calvary, just as there is a sacrificial altar of which we Christians eat (Hebrews 13:10), so is there an altar in heaven (Revelation 8:3). Nor will this surprise us if we bear in mind that the Mosaic worship was fashioned after the mode of the heavenly, and that the tabernacle and its furniture were made according to the pattern showed in the Mount.
What, then, did incense symbolize? Was it prayer? It has been very. generally supposed (after Psalms 141:2) to be an emblem of prayer. But this is a view which reflection hardly justifies. For
(1) prayer was offered at the time of incense; it was an invariable adjunct thereto, and we should hardly have the type and anti-type, the shadow and the substance, together. The type is only needed until the antitype takes its place.
(2) Incense is said to be offered with prayers (Revelation 5:8), where the "which" (αἵ) would seem to refer to the "vials" (φιάλας) rather than to The θυμιαμάτων (1 Kings 8:1-11.8.4). In the passage last cited, this is beyond doubt. The incense was to be added to (A.V. "offered"), and was therefore distinct from, the prayers of all saints.
No, the incense offered day by day, and century after century, prefigured the gracious intercession of Christ, that intercession through which alone our prayers are presented, which alone ensures their acceptance, and without which sinful man cannot draw near to God. When the high priest entered the oracle, as the representative of the congregation, the cloud of incense must cover him lest he should die. We have but to notice how close is the correspondence between type and antitype to be convinced that this is its true meaning.
(1) His prayers are like the fragrant incense. In Him the Father is well pleased. And they are ordained of God. He is the "Anointed," the "Advocate with the Father," "the one Mediator." (There is a "strange incense," too—the mediation of saints and angels.)
(2) He stands "before the throne," "at the right hand of God," "in heaven itself."
(3) He "ever liveth to make intercession for us." The incense never dies out of the heavenly courts. When we pray, morning and evening, our Intercessor prays also. When we offer our sacrifices, He offers the incense at the same time. And He is also
(4) our High Priest. When He passed through the heavens with His own blood to make atonement, the incense, to make intercession, was not forgotten. And if it be objected that in heaven the incense was offered by the elders (Romans 5:8), or angels (Romans 8:3), we may remember that the ministry at the golden altar, which strictly appertained to the high priest alone, was also shared by other ministers of the congregation, and the angels are "ministering spirits."
So that both the altars of Judaism speak to us of Christ: the one of His death, the other of His "endless life;" the first of the "one offering," the second of the ceaseless intercession. And between them they shadowed forth the fulness and completeness of our salvation. "We have an Advocate with the Father"—this is the gospel of the incense. "We have a great High Priest"—this is the evangel of incense and sacrifice alike.
HOMILIES BY A. ROWLAND
1 Kings 9:25
Our text appears at first sight to be introduced into this chapter in a superfluous and arbitrary manner. It is not without good reason, however, that this record of Solomon's religious worship stands between statements about his fortifications and his fleet. We have much to learn from the Old Testament method of blending the earthly with the spiritual, and of suffusing national enterprise with religion. The verse before us, read in connexion with the statement made in 1 Kings 3:2, indicates that, after finishing the temple, Solomon swept away the abuses, and remedied the defects which had prevailed. He had built the temple, and now would be the leader of his people in using it. He did not consider that the erection of an altar excused him from sacrificing on it. He was not one of those who will encourage others to devotion, while they neglect their own personal responsibility. Apply this to any who contribute to a society, but withold all personal service; or aid in the celebration of worship, while their own hearts are never engaged in it. If we compare the text with 2Ch 8:12, 2 Chronicles 8:13, we see that it was not only on the national festivals (Passover Pentecost, and Feast of Tabernacles), but on all occasions appointed by Mosaic law, that Solomon, through the priests, presented offerings before the Lord. No allusion is made here to expiatory sacrifices (the sin offering and the trespass offering) but these, of necessity, preceded those mentioned here. All the more fitly does the text represent what we should offer when we draw near to God, through the merits of the expiation already made for us by Him who became, on our behalf, a sin offering. This verse will answer the question of conscience, "What shall I render unto the Lord!"
I. THE DEDICATION OF SELF. Burnt offerings were representative and not vicarious. They represented the dedication of himself to God on the part of the worshipper. St. Paul shows us this (Romans 12:1), "I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice," etc. The appropriateness of the type can be easily shown by alluding to such points as these:—
1. The sequence of the burnt offering on the expiatory sacrifice. No burnt offering was made until a previous sin offering had been presented. The worshipper must first be brought into covenant with God. Were the burnt offering presented first, the barrier of sin between man and God would be ignored, and the idea of an atonement would be denied. Our offering of ourselves is only acceptable through the previous sacrifice of Christ.
2. The completeness of the burnt offering. The sacrificer laid his hands on the victim, and then it was placed whole on the altar, its death signifying the completeness of the presentation of the man, body and soul, to the Lord. Show that God has the right to demand our whole selves; not a share in affection and thought simply.
3. The occasions for presenting the burnt offering.
(1) Daily (Exodus 29:33-2.29.42) to show that at no time are we "our own."
(2) Doubly on the sabbath (Numbers 28:9, Numbers 28:10). The seventh day a time for special consideration and self consecration.
(3) On great festivals (Numbers 28:11; Num 29:1-40 :89). Times of exceptional deliverance, enrichment, etc; are seasons for renewed self dedication. Press home the entreaty of Romans 12:1.
II. THE GIVING OF THANKS. Peace offerings were of various kinds, but had the same meaning. They were a presentation to God of his best gifts, a sign of grateful homage, and at the same time afforded means for the support of God's service and His servants. Flour, oil, and wine were offered with the daily burnt offering. The shew bread was renewed each sabbath day. Special offerings were made on the sabbath and other festivals. The first fruits were presented, and corn from the threshing floor at the annual feasts, etc.
(1) All these were of a Eucharistic nature, and teach us to render thanks and praise to God (Hebrews 13:15).
(2) They betokened communion with God, for in part they were eaten by the people in His presence.
(3) They aided in the sustenance of public worship. The priests had the breast and shoulder. See the lesson Paul draws Philippians 4:18.
(4) They ministered to the necessities of the poor. Peace offerings constituted great national feasts. Give examples. Show Christ's care for the poor. Allude to such verses as Hebrews 13:16. We express thankfulness to the Lord, and acknowledgment of His goodness, by distributing to others as they have need. "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these, my brethren, ye have done it unto me."
III. THE OFFERING OF ]PRAYER. "He burnt incense upon the altar." Incense was offered morning and evening (Exodus 30:7, Exodus 30:8), and on the great day of atonement (Leviticus 16:12). The altar of incense stood before the holy of holies in the holy place, where only the priests could stand. Sacredness and sweetness were suggested by the incense, so carefully and secretly compounded, so exclusively used in the service of God. As a symbol it denoted prayer; taken in its broadest sense, as the outflowing of the soul in adoration, prayer, praise toward God. Refer to Psalms 141:2, where prayer and incense are blended as reality and symbol; to the smoke in the temple (Isaiah 6:3 Isaiah 6:4); to the people praying while Zacharias was burning incense (Luke 1:10); to the prayers of the saints before the throne (Revelation 5:8; Revelation 8:8, Revelation 8:4).
1. Prayer should be reverent. (The incense altar was close to the holy of holies, under the immediate eye of God.)
2. Prayer should be constant. (Incense was perpetual. "Pray without ceasing.")
3. Prayer should be the outcome of self dedication. (Incense was kindled by a live coal from the altar of burnt offering.)
4. Prayer is accepted through the merits of the atonement. (The horns of the altar of incense were sprinkled with blood.)—A.R.
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Exell, Joseph S; Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice. "Commentary on 1 Kings 9". The Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany