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Bible Commentaries
1 Kings 7

Whedon's Commentary on the BibleWhedon's Commentary

Verse 1

1. His own house His royal palace, as distinguished from the house of Jehovah.

Thirteen years Almost twice as long as it took to build the temple. According to Josephus the temple was built in a shorter time because of the extensive preparations for it beforehand, and the greater zeal and Divine co-operation with which Solomon prosecuted it.

All his house That is, the entire pile or group of buildings that composed the royal palace. The house of the forest of Lebanon, (1 Kings 7:2,) the porch of pillars, (1 Kings 7:6,) the porch of judgment, (1 Kings 7:7,) the house where he dwelt, (1 Kings 7:8,) the house for Pharaoh’s daughter, (1 Kings 7:8,) and the several courts, (1 Kings 7:8; 1 Kings 7:12,) were all different parts of one and the same great royal palace, and not, as some have supposed, entirely distinct and separate buildings.

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Verses 1-12

SOLOMON’S PALACE, 1 Kings 7:1-12.

The description given in this chapter of Solomon’s royal house is, on account of its brevity, exceedingly obscure, and we are often obliged to conjecture the meaning, or to gather it from supposed analogies in ancient Oriental architecture. Fergusson, in his article on Solomon’s Palace in Smith’s Dictionary of the Bible, observes: “The exhumation of the palaces of Nineveh, and the more careful examination of those at Persepolis, have thrown a flood of light on the subject. Many expressions which before were entirely unintelligible are now clear and easily understood; and, if we cannot yet explain every thing, we know at least where to look for analogies, and what was the character, even if we cannot predicate the exact form, of the buildings in question.” But this writer, with all his knowledge of architecture, has manifestly given the Hebrew text of this passage little or no study, for he follows the common version, which, in the rendering of a number of words, is unquestionably wrong; and he shows as much deference to Josephus as to the Bible. In these notes we mainly follow Thenius, whose diagrams and comments on the text furnish, perhaps, as satisfactory a solution of the difficulties as we may, with present light, expect to find.

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The SITE of Solomon’s palace is a question yet unsettled. It has been quite generally believed to have occupied the northeastern part of the modern Zion, and to have been connected with the temple-mountain by a bridge over the Tyropoean valley. Here stood a palace erected by the Asmoneans. Josephus, 1 Kings 20:8 ; 1 Kings 20:11. Accordingly Barclay writes: “In all Jerusalem there is not a more eligible spot for a palace than the high northeastern cliff of Zion, nearest the temple the site of the American Christian Mission premises and accordingly it is at this spot that Josephus locates with so much precision the royal residence of the Asmonean and Herodian sovereigns; nor is there the slightest reason to doubt that it was the royal abode of the Davidian dynasty also; indeed, no other locality is at all consistent with the frequent allusions to the ‘king’s house’ in the Old Testament.” City of the Great King, p. 166. This strong statement, however, seems to us unwarranted. What may seem to a modern resident an “eligible spot for a palace,” and the selection of it for that purpose by the Asmonean princes, is no proof that the same spot had been selected in the more ancient times of Solomon. On the contrary, the biblical allusions seem rather to locate the king’s house on the temple-mountain, and at a lower elevation than the temple itself. So especially the passages which speak of Solomon’s bringing his Egyptian wife, after the completion of his palace, “out of the city of David,” which was on Zion. (1 Kings 9:24; 2 Chronicles 8:11; compare note on 1 Kings 3:1,) and of “his ascent by which he went up unto the house of the Lord.” 1 Kings 10:5. Compare also 2 Kings 11:19. We incline, therefore, with a number of recent authorities, to place the palace of Solomon at the southeast corner of the modern Haram area. Here Captain Warren’s excavations revealed walls as ancient as the time of Solomon, and here he locates the ancient palace. We furnish on the opposite page a plan of the topography of ancient Moriah, showing the contour of the rock, and the probable sites of the temple and the palace, according to the conclusions of Captain Warren. Of course the question cannot at present be settled with absolute certainty. For a detailed discussion of the subject, see Recovery of Jerusalem, chaps. 11 and 12.

Verse 2

2. He built also Rather, and he built, for the house here mentioned is not a building entirely distinct from all his house, (1 Kings 7:1,) but an important part of it.

House of the forest of Lebanon So called from the vast amount of Lebanon cedar used in building it. This part of the palace was the great hall of state, and was large enough, Josephus says, “to contain a multitude for hearing causes and taking cognizance of suits.” In it also were deposited the king’s wondrous targets and shields of beaten gold. 1 Kings 10:16-17. It was one hundred and fifty feet long by seventy-five wide. (Marked A in plan.)

Upon four rows of cedar pillars Interpreters have been puzzled to determine the position of these four rows of pillars. Fergusson, following the English version, tries to reconcile the manifest inconsistency of “forty-five pillars, fifteen in a row,” (mentioned in next verse,) with the four rows here mentioned, by supposing that three rows of columns stood free, and the fourth was built into the outer wall. But this is altogether unsatisfactory, and rests upon an erroneous interpretation of 1 Kings 7:3. Thenius supposes the pillars to have run round the entire hall on the inside, thus affording, as the Vulgate suggests, promenading places ( deambulacra) between the rows of pillars, but his plan supposes four hundred pillars, far too great a number to crowd into a building of one hundred cubits by fifty. The great hall of the palace at Shushan, three hundred and forty-three by two hundred and forty-four feet, had, in all, but seventy-two columns, and its great central hall but thirty-six, and all standing nearly twenty feet apart. (Loftus, Chaldea, p. 367.) The central hall of the great palace of Xerxes at Persepolis, about two hundred feet square, also had thirty-six columns, standing the same distance apart, and also in six rows. W.L. Alexander, who follows mainly the plans of Thenius, (in Kitto’s Cyclopaedia of Bib. Lit.,) objects to his arrangement of the pillars, and “ventures to suggest that the four courses of pillars were not on the same area, but one above the other, corresponding to the four floors of the building.” But this would interfere with the side-chambers mentioned in the next verse. It is better to understand them as all resting upon the first floor, and supporting the chambers above, the four rows running lengthwise through the great hall. If, now, we suppose four rows of nine pillars in each row, placed equidistant, and enclosed by walls on the four sides, we meet all the necessary conditions of the case, and have a great hall of precisely the same number of columns as the central halls of the great palaces of Susa and Persepolis. According to this arrangement, the rows would be ten cubits apart, allowing ten cubits between the outer row and the wall on each side.

Beams upon the pillars On which the floor of the first row of upper chambers might rest.

Verse 3

3. Upon the beams Rather, Upon the chambers; for צלעת , here rendered beams, is the same word that is rendered chambers in 1 Kings 6:5; 1 Kings 6:8. The meaning here is, that he covered over or wainscotted with cedar the chambers, which in the stories above rested upon the four rows of pillars previously described. The whole verse should be translated thus: And above he covered over with cedar the side-chambers which were upon the pillars, forty-five, (in number,) fifteen in a row. That is, the chambers, not the pillars, were forty-five in number.

Fifteen in a row That is, fifteen chambers on each story, running in a row around the sides. שׂור , a row, may be used of a layer of stones (1 Kings 6:36) or a series of chambers, as here, as well as of a range of pillars. 1 Kings 7:2. A single row or tier of these chambers is represented in the annexed cut, one chamber at the end being the place of the stairway.

Verse 4

4. Windows in three rows Rather, The frameworks were three rows. The word שׁקפים does not mean windows, but is applied, in chap. 1 Kings 6:4, to the cross-bars or framework of windows. So here it means the framework of beams with which the three galleries were constructed. Each of these three rows of framework contained a row of fifteen chambers.

Light was against light מחזה , here translated light, means a place to see through, an aperture for the purpose of looking out, like those of the boxes in a theatre. These openings were against or opposite to each other, one in each chamber. (c c in cut.)

In three ranks Or, three times.

Corresponding to the three ranges of chambers. Each gallery had its row of openings looking out into the interior of the great hall below, and this interior may have been either open in the centre to the sky, or, as Alexander observes, the whole may have been roofed over, and lighted above by a clear story. The latter supposition is more probable.

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Verse 5

5. All the doors Which led from one of these chambers to another. (d d in cut.)

And posts מזוזת , posts, is undoubtedly a copyist’s error, and for it we should read, as did the Septuagint translators, מחזות , apertures, described in the preceding verse.

Were square, with the windows Here, again, the translation is erroneous. שׁק does not mean windows, but a layer of beams; that is, a beam framework. Render: And all the doors and the apertures were of squared beamwork. They were built in square form, and not arched.

Verse 6

6. A porch of pillars The exact position of this porch is not stated, but as the description of the palace began with the house of the forest of Lebanon, we naturally suppose, in the absence of any thing that appears to the contrary, that it follows the order of the successive buildings, and accordingly this porch was situated between the house of the forest of Lebanon and the porch of judgment described in the next verse. (B in plan.) It served as a majestic colonnade leading to the throne-chamber.

The porch was before them Rather, a porch. A portico of lesser dimensions was built before the pillars. (a in plan.)

Pillars and the thick beam The pillars here mentioned were probably a sort of peristyle to the great porch of pillars; that is, a range of noticeable pillars running round the outside of the porch. The עב , thick beam, is to be understood of the threshold, or rather the ascent by steps into the porch, which was, of course, before or in front of the pillars, and probably ran around the entire porch.

Verse 7

7. A porch for the throne As the inner court of the house where the king dwelt was within this porch, (1 Kings 7:8,) the porch itself must have led to it from the outer porch of pillars. So this throne-chamber was between the porch of pillars and the inner court. (R in plan.) It was the place where the king received his officers of state, and also foreign ambassadors and princes on important occasions, and especially where he sat to hear and decide the cases that were submitted to his judgment, and hence called, by way of eminence, the porch of judgment. Here was the great throne of ivory, and its magnificent and awe-inspiring surroundings, which are mentioned in 1 Kings 10:18-20.

From one side of the floor to the other Rather, as the margin, from floor to floor; that is, from floor to ceiling.

Verse 8

8. His house where he dwelt The royal residence proper. (D D in plan.) All the building’s and porches of the palace hitherto described were as so many vestibules or passage ways extending lengthwise through the midst of the great court, (1 Kings 7:12,) and conducting to the immediate apartments of the king. They formed a grand approach to the throne; and a person passing through them in the order named would become more and more impressed with feelings of reverence and awe as he drew near the royal presence.

Another court within the porch Rather, the other court, in distinction from the great court round about the entire group of palatial buildings. This inner court was behind the porch of judgment, and enclosed by that porch in front, and the royal residence on the other three sides. (E in plan.)

Was of the like work Work like that of the porch of judgment; that is, the king’s house, (not the court, as the which supplied in the English version seems to indicate,) was wainscotted with cedar from floor to ceiling throughout all its apartments.

A house for Pharaoh’s daughter This probably formed the back part of the royal residence, (F in plan,) and at a later period became the royal harem, where the king kept the “many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh,” who turned his heart away from the Lord. 1 Kings 11:1.

Verse 9

9. All these were of costly stones That is, the exterior walls of all these buildings were built of costly stones.

According to the measures of hewed stones Rather, according to the measure of hewing; that is, according to the amount of skill and labour required in sawing and hewing them. They were costly on account of this vast amount of labour and expense in preparing them for use.

Sawed with saws Here is evidence of the ancient use of saws in cutting stone. “Saws appear in Assyrian sculptures of the age of Sennacherib; and fragments of an iron saw were found at Nimrud.” Rawlinson.

Within and without That is, on both sides of the wall the sawn surface of the stones appeared. But the inside of most of the buildings was covered with cedar, and so only the outside, towards the great court, continued to reveal from foundation to coping the smoothly sawn faces of the costly stones.

Verse 10

10. Even great stones These foundation stones were costly because of their great size rather than of the vast amount of labour required in hewing them.

Ten cubits About fifteen feet. See note on 1 Kings 5:17.

Verse 11

11. And above In the upper parts of the buildings.

Verse 12

12. The great court round about The great enclosure or park in which all the palatial buildings stood. (H H H in plan.)

Three rows of hewed stones Or three layers of hewn stone. See note on 1 Kings 6:36. If this view of this obscure verse be correct, it follows that the great court of the palace was not a cultivated park, but a solid artificial platform of stone-work, covered by a cedar flooring. This is the more probable since all the palace buildings were set upon a vast artificial platform raised upon the southern slope of Mount Moriah.

Both for the inner court of the house of the Lord The meaning is, that the pavement of the great court of the palace, like that of the inner court of the temple, (see 1 Kings 6:36,) consisted of three layers of hewn stone placed one upon another, with a layer of cedar planks fastened on the top of them.

And for the porch of the house That is, the porch of the palace had a similar pavement.

Here ends the Bible account of Solomon’s palace. But it is manifestly not an exhaustive or minute description; and it is likely that there were various apartments, and perhaps whole buildings, of less importance that receive no mention here. Josephus adds that he built other edifices for pleasure, and long cloisters, and a magnificent dining room, and various other things which it seems not to have been the purpose of the sacred historian to mention or describe.

Verse 13


13. Hiram Called also (1 Kings 7:40, margin) Hiram and Huram. 2 Chronicles 4:11. So his name was subjected to the same variations of orthography as that of the Tyrian king.

Verse 14

14. A widow’s son of the tribe of Naphtali According to 2 Chronicles 2:14, she was of the daughters of Dan. But this need not be regarded as an error or mistake in either text, for she may have been by birth of the tribe of Dan, and by marriage connected with the tribe of Naphtali. So she would be a widow of Naphtali when Hiram’s father married her. Other explanations are also possible.

A man of Tyre Probably a native Tyrian, and not, as some have supposed, an Israelite who had become a resident of Tyre.

A worker in brass This is in apposition with man of Tyre, that is, Hiram’s father. Hiram followed his father’s trade.

He was filled with wisdom His skill and proficiency in working brass are described in nearly the same words as were used of Bezaleel, the divinely gifted artificer of the tabernacle. Exodus 31:3; Exodus 36:1.

Cunning to work all works in brass In 2 Chronicles (2 Chronicles 2:14) it is said that he was “skilful to work in gold, and in silver, in brass, in iron, in stone, and in timber; in purple, in blue, and in fine linen, and in crimson, also to grave any manner of graving, and to find out every device which shall be put to him.”

Wrought all his work “Of course Hiram was only a foreman or leader of these different branches of art; and he certainly did not come alone, but brought several assistants with him, who carried out the different works under his superintendence.” Keil.

Verse 15

15. He cast Hebrew, Formed or fashioned.

Two pillars of brass “There are no features connected with the temple of Solomon which have given rise to so much controversy, or been so difficult to explain, as the form of the two pillars of brass which were set up in the porch. It has even been supposed that they were not pillars, in the ordinary sense of the term, but obelisks; for this, however, there does not appear to be any authority.” Fergusson. It is doubtless impossible to restore with exact correctness the forms of the pillars, but from the minute description here given, though in some parts obscure, it is not difficult to form an approximate restoration of their principal features,

Eighteen cubits high apiece This is to be understood of the height of the main shaft, not including the capitals and lily work. The thirty-five cubits, mentioned in 2 Chronicles 3:15 as the height of these pillars, is without doubt an error.

Twelve cubits did compass either Literally, the dimensions are thus given: Eighteen cubits was the height of the one pillar, and a line of twelve cubits encircled the second pillar. Thus we have given us the height of one pillar, and the circumference of the other; but this is only an abbreviated form of stating the measurements. These columns were hollow, and the brass was four fingers in thickness. Jeremiah 52:21.

Verse 16

16. Two chapiters Or capitals.

Molten brass Brass melted, so as to be cast into the forms desired. The brass, of which these pillars, the brazen sea, and other vessels were made, had been captured by David from the cities of Hadarezer. 1 Chronicles 18:8.

Verse 17

17. Nets of checker work The words would apply equally well to representations either of netting, lattice, or basket work.

Wreaths of chain work Whether this is to be taken as in apposition with nets of checker work, or as something distinct from it, is not clear. The passage is, literally: nets, work of a net, twists, work of chains, for the capitals. 2 Chronicles 3:16 is also obscure, and lends no aid. The more probable meaning is, that the network consisted of chain-like twists, so that “wreaths of chain work” is explanatory of “nets of checker work.”

Seven for the one That is, the network on each capital was composed of seven strands or chains. But by comparing 1 Kings 7:41, where “the two networks” are mentioned, there is reason to suspect the reading seven, ( שׁבעה ,) and to adopt the reading of the Septuagint, which is δικτυα , network, ( שׂבכה .) Then the passage would read, a network for the one capital, and a network for the other capital. The words שׂבכה and שׁבעה are so nearly alike that one may easily have become substituted for the other.

Verse 18

18. He made the pillars Rather, he made pomegranates, for in the Masoretic text the words pillars and pomegranates have evidently become transposed. So below, where our version has upon the top, with pomegranates, we should read, upon the top of the pillars. “The pomegranate was one of the commonest ornaments in Assyria. It was used on quivers, on spear-shafts and mace-heads, in patterns on doorways and pavements. It is doubtful whether a symbolical meaning attached to it, or whether it was merely selected as a beautiful natural form.” Rawlinson.

Two rows These rows of pomegranates were probably set upon the upper and lower edges of the network, so that there were two rows for each pillar, and one hundred pomegranates in each row. See on 1 Kings 7:20.

To cover the chapiters More fully in 1 Kings 7:42, “to cover the two bowls of the chapiters;” that is, as we take it, to cover the upper and lower edges of the bowls or pommels of each capital.

Verse 19

19. The chapiters… were of lily work That is, the upper part of each capital was wrought so as to resemble a full-blown lily-cup. The exact species of lily here intended cannot be determined. Some think the lotus flower is meant.

In the porch, four cubits The exact reference of these words it is difficult to explain. They seem to have been transposed from their proper place in the text. Keil thinks the reading should be as in the porch. But we have no notice elsewhere of lily work in the porch. Others have suggested that the lilies projected four cubits into the porch. Wordsworth suggests that the lily work was on the inner side of the pillars towards the porch, and not on the outer side. Thenius takes the words to designate the position of the pillars themselves, as standing in the porch, and this, on the whole, seems to be the best explanation, though it seems to involve a confusion or transposition of words in the text. Since the circumference of the pillars was twelve cubits, (1 Kings 7:15,) the diameter was a little less than four cubits, so that each pillar would take up the space of four cubits within and on either side of the porch.

Verse 20

20. Had pomegranates There is nothing corresponding to these words in the Hebrew, and their insertion by our translators was an error. This verse is a repetitious explanation of the preceding, and defines more particularly the position of the lily work part of the capitals. It should be rendered: And the capitals upon the two pillars were also above in immediate connexion with the belly, which was beyond the network.

The belly which was by the network That is, the oval shaped form of the capital at the place upon which the network was wrought, (literally, beyond, that is, behind the network,) called bowls in 1 Kings 7:41, and pommels in 2 Chronicles 4:13.

Two hundred in rows Two hundred in both rows of each pillar, making four hundred for the two networks of both pillars, (1 Kings 7:42; 2 Chronicles 4:13,) and one hundred for each row or chain. 2 Chronicles 3:16; Jeremiah 52:23.

Verse 21

21. The right pillar The one standing at the right hand of a person who stood in the porch looking out; that is, on the south side of the entrance.

Jachin יכין , he will establish; or, an establisher.

Boaz בעז , firmness; strength; stability. These pillars were symbolical, and their names indicate that the temple was built both for the establishment and stability of the true worship of Jehovah.

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Verse 23

23. A molten sea Called also brazen sea, from the material of which it was made. It was a vast bowl-shaped font, or laver, like that which Moses made for the tabernacle, (Exodus 30:18,) and for the same purpose, but on account of its immense size it is called a sea. Its general appearance is shown in the annexed cut, which will serve to explain the sacred writer’s description better than would any verbal comment on his words.

Verse 24

24. Knops… in two rows Egg-shaped representations of the wild gourd or cucumber, as in 1 Kings 6:18, compassing the laver in a double row at the upper part.

Verse 25

25. It stood upon twelve oxen Josephus adds that its middle part rested on a short pillar ten cubits in diameter.

Verse 26

26. Like the brim of a cup, with flowers of lilies Literally, its lip was as the work of the lip of a cup a flower of a lily. The brim curved outward, and was engraved with lily flowers.

Two thousand baths About seventeen thousand gallons. The reading three thousand, in 2 Chronicles 4:5, is probably an error. By estimating the capacity of this sea from its dimensions, as given in 1 Kings 7:23, it seems hardly possible that it could have held so much. But all calculations based on the dimensions given in 1 Kings 7:23 must be uncertain because of our ignorance of the exact shape of the laver. Perhaps the two thousand baths may denote the capacity, not only of the laver or sea proper, but also of the basin beneath it, as seen in the cut. This sea held the water which the priests used for their ablutions. 2 Chronicles 4:6.

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Verse 27

27. Ten bases Square chest-shaped supports on which the brazen lavers mentioned in 1 Kings 7:38 rested. The exact form of these bases and the lavers is, like that of the pillars Jachin and Boaz, difficult to define. The Scripture text itself is very obscure the terms used are rare, and the versions all differ widely, and afford us no real aid. We may, however, by a careful study of the Hebrew text and the aid of the annexed cut, approximate a tolerably correct idea of the construction of these vessels. While the water in the brazen sea served for the priests to wash in, the lavers held the water in which they washed “such things as they offered for the burnt offering.” 2 Chronicles 4:6. Hence they were set upon lofty bases to lift them near to the top of the great brazen altar of burnt offerings, which was ten cubits high. 2 Chronicles 4:1. The bases were three cubits high, (1 Kings 7:27,) the wheels a cubit and a half, (32,) the round compass half a cubit, (35,) the laver one cubit, and its base work a cubit and a half, (31,) and the corners or feet (30) were probably half a cubit, so that the height of the entire structure would be eight cubits, or about twelve feet. This would bring the top of the laver within three feet of the top of the great altar, and thus place it within convenient reach of the officiating priest.

Verse 28

28. They had borders מסגרות , inclosed panels. (a a a in figure.)

Between the ledges שׁלבים , joints; fastening places. The corner pieces which joined upon and fastened the panels. (b b in figure.)

Verse 29

29. Lions, oxen, and cherubim Miniature representations of them, for the size of the panels would not permit other.

Upon the ledges… a base above That is, an additional smaller base on the top of the other for the laver to stand upon. Its convex roof is called, in 1 Kings 7:35, a round compass. (k k in figure.)

Certain additions ליות , garlands, festoons. Such garlands adorned the upper as well as the lower portions of each base. Comp. 1 Kings 7:36. (c c in figure.)

Made of thin work מעשׂה מורד means, according to Furst, deepened work, and refers to all the ornaments mentioned in this verse as having been set into the metal in which they were engraved. According to the Vulgate and Gesenius, it means hanging work.

Verse 30

30. Wheels These served for convenience in moving the lavers and bases to and fro.

Plates of brass Rather, axles. (d in figure.)

The four corners Rather, the four feet, meaning, doubtless, the projecting bottoms of the bases at the places where feet or legs would naturally be. (o o in figure.)

Undersetters Or, side-pieces, reaching down to the axles of the wheels and serving as stays or supports. (e e in figure.)

At the side of every addition Better, beyond each were garlands. The meaning seems to be that the undersetters, or side-pieces, were cast so as to be underneath the laver and the engraved garlands mentioned in 1 Kings 7:29.

Verse 31

31. The mouth of it The mouth of the laver; its opening at the top; involving in this case, also, the entire cavity or hollow of the laver.

Within the chapiter and above An obscure and unintelligible expression, meaning, perhaps, the depth of the laver.

A cubit Literally, in a cubit; perhaps an erroneous copying of כאמה , about a cubit. We take the meaning to be, that the depth of the laver was about one cubit.

The mouth thereof was round after the work of the base, a cubit and a half This makes no sense at all, and if we follow the common punctuation, the passage is perfectly unintelligible. It is very likely that some words have here fallen out of the text. As it is, it seems best to punctuate and read as follows: And the mouth was round; the base-work was a cubit and a half; and also upon the mouth were engravings, and their panels were square, not rounded. On this rendering we make the following notes: Mouth… was round That is, the opening was round at the top, like a bowl. Base-work was a cubit and a half The base-work that connected immediately with the laver, and separated it a cubit and a half from the round compass (1 Kings 7:35) of the base above. 1 Kings 7:29. This base work probably consisted of a pedestal and open standards in the form of curved plates, as represented in the figure. (n n.) See on 1 Kings 7:35. Upon the mouth were engravings That is, upon the concave surface of the inside of the laver, and probably also on the outside. Their panels The panels of the engravings. (P P in figure.) The lavers were so cast as to present the appearance of square panels set in the surface, and these panels were covered with sculptured work.

Verse 32

32. Axletrees of the wheels Rather, hands, or supports of the wheels, (e e in figure,) which fastened their axles to the base; the same as the undersetters. 1 Kings 7:30. This same word occurs again in the next verse (33) and should be rendered, there as here, supports or stays.

Verse 33

33. Axletrees… naves… felloes… spokes The proper order and rendering of the words in the Hebrew text is as follows: Stays, felloes, spokes, naves. The nave is the same as the hub. (f f in figure.)

Verse 34

34. Of the very base itself Cast so as to be one solid piece with the base, and not joined to it by pins or nails.

Verse 35

35. Round compass of half a cubit high This was the convex roof of the smaller base above, (k k in figure,) which rested on the top of the ledges, (1 Kings 7:29,) and supported in turn the more immediate base-work of the laver. See note on 1 Kings 7:31.

The ledges thereof and the borders thereof were of the same Literally, on the top of the base its hands and its panels of it. What these hands, or supports, on the top of the base, were, it is hard to determine. But as the word in 1 Kings 7:32-33 was used of the stays that fastened the axles to the base, and are called the hands of the wheels rather than the legs of the base, so here, we incline to take the hands of the base for the legs or supports of the laver, called also in 1 Kings 7:31 the base-work of the laver. (n n n in figure.) It is there called base-work rather than a base, because it was made of several pieces of metal set underneath the laver with open spaces between, and not of a solid cube, like the lower bases. The round compass had also panels, like the lower base and the surface of the laver, (w w in figure,) and these, like them, were covered with sculptured work.

Of the same Or, of it; that is, cast, like the undersetters, (1 Kings 7:34,) so as to be one piece with the base itself.

Verse 36

36. Plates of the ledges Rather, plates of the hands; the outer surface of the plates which formed a part of the base-work or supports of the laver. (n n in figure.)

According to the proportion of every one Better, according to the open space of each. That is, according to the room or space which each afforded for such engravings.

Additions round about Garlands. (c c in figure.) See on 1 Kings 7:29.

Verse 37

37. One casting They were all ten cast in one mould, so as necessarily to be of one measure, and one size or shape.

Verse 38

38. Ten lavers One laver to stand on each of the ten bases.

Forty baths Three hundred and fifty-five gallons.

Every laver was four cubits In diameter at the mouth.

Verse 39

39. The right side of the house Hebrew, the right shoulder of the house; that is, the south side, near the front part of the building, or at the south side of the porch.

Left side The corresponding north side of the building.

The sea… eastward, over against the south That is, southeast from the front of the temple.

Verse 41

41. Bowls of the chapiters See note on 1 Kings 7:20.

Verse 45

45. Pots Or, pans, for receiving and carrying the ashes away. Compare Exodus 27:3.

Shovels For removing ashes from the altar.

Basins To receive the blood of the sacrifices to be sprinkled on the altar.

Verse 46

46. In the clay ground In the dense, compact soil which is found in the vicinity of the Jordan. This dense soil was peculiarly adapted to foundry work.

Succoth and Zarthan Places in the Jordan valley not yet identified with any modern town or ruin. See on Genesis 33:17 and Joshua 3:16.

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Verse 48

48. The altar of gold Overlaid with gold. See on 1 Kings 6:20. This altar in the temple was doubtless of the same form as that of the tabernacle. See on Exodus 30:1-5; Exodus 37:25-28. The great brazen altar of burnt offerings in the court is not mentioned in this chapter, and only referred to incidentally in 1 Kings 8:64.

Table of gold Like that of the tabernacle. See on Exodus 25:23-30. In 2 Chronicles 4:8 mention is made of ten tables, and they were all probably of this same form, and placed five on each side of the holy place. Among the spoils taken from Jerusalem by Titus, as appears sculptured in relief on his triumphal arch at Rome, were the table and candlestick of the Herodian temple. These are shown in the annexed cuts, and were probably, in the main, like those of the more ancient temple of Solomon.

Verse 49

49. Candlesticks These ten golden candlesticks were all doubtless made after the pattern of that which adorned the tabernacle, and whose form is described in Exodus 25:31-36.

Flowers Which served to ornament the candlesticks.

Lamps What we term candles were not used, but lamps, with oil, were set, one on the central shaft, and one on each of the six branches of the golden candlestick. They were the receptacles for the wick and oil, and might be easily taken down, cleaned, and filled, without disturbing the candlestick itself. See on Exodus 25:37.

Tongs To handle burning coals, (Isaiah 6:6,) and sometimes to use as snuffers. Exodus 37:23.

Verse 50

50. Bowls Used for drinking out of, and sometimes, like the basins, for sprinkling. Compare Exodus 12:22.

Spoons כפות , pans, or dishes; for what particular purpose does not appear.

Censers Fire-pans, in which coals were taken up and incense kindled. These smaller vessels are not described, but are supposed to have been like those of the tabernacle.


The temple of Solomon, so far as it was a reproduction, on an enlarged scale, of the tabernacle, was, like that more ancient structure, the pattern, example, and shadow of heavenly things. Hebrews 8:5. But Solomon introduced a number of additions to the ancient pattern shown to Moses in the mount. The side-chambers, the colossal cherubim, the molten sea on twelve oxen in place of the more simple laver of the tabernacle-court, the ten smaller lavers and their bases, the ten tables and the ten golden candlesticks, all seem to have been the product and expression of theocratic ideas that had been maturing in the Israelitish mind for more than four hundred years, though many of them were probably demanded by the more extensive and elaborate service of Solomon’s time. An attempt to point out the sacred symbolism and meaning of the various parts and vessels of the temple must, in many respects, at best end only in conjectures. But this subject should not, therefore, be passed without remark. Dr. Bahr well observes, that if the entire system of Hebrew worship “were no idle ceremony, still less could the structure where this worship became concentrated be an empty, meaningless piece of architectural splendour. All the ancients so founded, arranged, and adorned their temples that they were the expression and the representation of their specific religious contemplation. The temple of Solomon would have been an exception to all the sacred buildings of high antiquity, had it not been the expression of the specifically Israelitish Old Testament ideas of religion.”

The writer just quoted has made this subject a special study, and has written extensively upon it, both in his Commentary on Kings, and his able work on the “Symbolism of the Mosaic Worship.” The present note is based largely on his exposition. Remarks on the typical significance of the altars, laver, table of showbread, golden candlestick, and mercyseat belong rather to the explanation of the tabernacle. We notice here only the leading outlines of the temple-plan, and the significance of its principal parts.

Though Solomon was well aware that “the heaven and heaven of heavens” could not contain the God of Israel, (1 Kings 8:27,) yet he built the temple with the declared purpose of providing a house for Jehovah to dwell in a settled place for his abode. 1 Kings 8:13. He could therefore have entertained no such thought as that by dwelling in the temple God ceased to be omnipresent; but the temple was specifically the place where Jehovah recorded his name, and therefore the visible sign and pledge of his covenant with Israel. It was the abode of his holiness, the place where he was to be consulted and understood by his people. Hence the graduated sanctity of the court, the holy place, and the holy of holies, was adapted to teach an impressive lesson of the absolute holiness of Jehovah.

While the temple was thus specifically the dwellingplace of Jehovah, it also typified heaven itself, which is “the true tabernacle.” Hebrews 8:2; Hebrews 9:24. Accordingly, in Solomon’s prayer at the dedication we find a continued contrast between “this house” or “this place,” and “heaven, thy dwellingplace,” or simply “heaven.” 1 Kings 8:30-49. And so the pious Israelite might ever see in the holy and beautiful house where Jehovah recorded his name a type and symbol of heaven itself. It was the temple of his holiness. Psalms 5:7; Psalms 79:1; Psalms 138:2.

Bahr totally rejects the opinion that the temple was a representation of the theocracy of the kingdom of God in Israel, or of the New Testament “kingdom of heaven,” and urges that the latter is a divine-human relation, while the dwelling of Jehovah is a place. But he seems to overlook in this connexion the great truth that the divine-human relationship realized in the kingdom of grace is truly God dwelling in man, (1 John 4:12; 1 John 4:16,) or making his abode with him, (John 14:23;) and that the great body of his people in whom he thus dwells are called “the temple of the living God,” “a habitation of God through the Spirit.” 1Co 3:17 ; 2 Corinthians 6:16; Ephesians 2:21-22. We may, therefore, look upon the temple that rose to completion so silently that neither hammer nor axe was heard while it was building, as a glorious type of that “spiritual house,” built of “lively stones,” (1 Peter 2:5,) “Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone; in whom all the building fifty framed together groweth unto a holy temple in the Lord.” Ephesians 2:21.

Nor should we overlook the profound symbolism of the divine-human relationship set forth in the two main apartments of the temple. Why, in the temple as in the tabernacle, have two holy rooms, rather than three or more? Why, except, as Fairbairn admirably shows, ( Typology, vol. ii, p. 250,) to express the twofold relation that essentially exists between the worshipper and God? The holy of holies, with its profound symbols of “mercy covering wrath,” showed God’s relation to his people; how and on what terms the Almighty and Holy One would dwell with man. The holy place, where the consecrated priests ministered, with its incense-altar and tables and candlesticks, expressed the relation of the true worshipper to God. The devout worshippers, who offer before God the incense of continual prayer, are at once the salt of the earth and the light of the world. And this is the one great truth embodied in the several symbols of the holy place. Thus in the two main apartments were exhibited “the two great branches into which the tree of Divine knowledge always, of necessity, runs, namely, the things to be believed concerning God, and the things to be done by his believing people.”

When we come to observe the details of the structure we notice, first of all, the graduated sanctity of the three holy places. First, the court, where nothing unclean might enter; then the holy place, where only the consecrated priests might go to perform holy services; and, beyond this, vailed in thick darkness, the holy of holies, where only the high priest entered, and he but once a year, on the great day of atonement. Here was symbolized not only the absolute holiness of Him who “dwelt in the thick darkness,” but also the gradual and progressive revelations of his name and nature, which have been made known to men. Whilst the temple and the priesthood remained, the Holy Ghost signified that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, (Hebrews 9:8;) but since Christ has rent the vail, and entered heaven itself for us, we all may, with boldness and full assurance of faith, enter into the holiest, and have everlasting communion and fellowship with God. Hebrews 9:24; Hebrews 10:19-22.

The square form of all the apartments and courts of the temple is not without meaning. The oracle was a perfect square; the nave a double square; the porch half a square, etc. Nowhere do we find the form of the triangle, the pentagon, or the circle, but every thing about the sanctuary seems, like the heavenly Jerusalem, to be quadrangular, as if to correspond with the four corners of heaven, the upper dwelling-place of God. Jeremiah 49:36; Matthew 24:31. Equally noticeable is the predominance of the numbers ten and three. The length and breadth of all the apartments and the courts is a common multiple of ten the number of the commandments written on the tables of testimony within the ark. Ten is the number of the candlesticks and tables, the bases and lavers; ten cubits was the height of the cherubim, and the extent of their outspread wings; ten cubits was the breadth of the molten sea. Then we note the three holy apartments, each with its type of expiation the altar or burnt offerings, the altar of incense, and the mercyseat; the last within the most holy place, which bore the form of a perfect cube, the length and the breadth and the height of it being equal. Each apartment also had three principal kinds of articles of furniture. In the oracle were the cherubim, the ark, and the tables of the law; in the nave were the candlesticks, the tables, and the altar of incense; and in the court were the brazen sea, the lavers, and the altar of burnt offerings. There were, also, the three stories of side-chambers. In this symbolism of numbers we may discern a mystic representation both of the variety and unity of all Divine revelation. “What happens thrice, is the genuine once; what is divided into three, is a true unity. The one dwelling by its division into three parts, is designated as one complete whole; and the three kinds of articles of use which are in the three parts, or in one of them, again form a complete whole, and belong under it to the one or the other relation. While the number ten gives the impress of finishing and completing to multiplicity, the number three is the signature of perfect unity, and thus also of the Divine being.”

The adornings of the temple, the cherubim, lions, oxen, palms, flowers, and lily work, were representative of all created life, and signified that while Jehovah condescended to make the temple his special dwellingplace, his presence fills the universe with life. He upholds all things by the word of his power. Angels and men, cattle and creeping things and fowl, and all inanimate creation, have their being from Him whom the heaven of heavens cannot contain. And thus was added to the various lessons of Jehovah’s absolute holiness and infinite perfections, which the temple symbolized, this ornamental expression of his universal Providence.

Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 1 Kings 7". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/whe/1-kings-7.html. 1874-1909.
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