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Bible Dictionaries

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible

Jachin and Boaz

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JACHIN AND BOAZ . These are the names borne by two brazen, or more probably bronze, pillars belonging to Solomon’s Temple. They evidently represented the highest artistic achievement of their author, Hiram of Tyre,’ the half-Tyrian copper-worker, whom Solomon fetched from Tyre to do foundry work for him,’ whose name, however, was more probably Huram-abi ( 2 Chronicles 2:12 , Heb. text). The description of them now found in 1 Kings 7:15-22 is exceedingly confused and corrupt, but with the help of the better preserved Gr. text, and of other OT. references (viz. 1 Kings 7:41-42 , 2 Chronicles 3:15-17; 2 Chronicles 4:12-13 and Jeremiah 52:21-23 = 2 Kings 25:17 ), recent scholars have restored the text of the primary passage somewhat as follows:

And he cast the two pillars of bronze for the porch of the temple; 18 cubits was the height of the one pillar, and a line of 12 cubits could compass it about, and its thickness was 4 finger bread the (for it was) hollow [with this cf. Jeremiah 52:21 ]. And the second pillar was similar. And he made two chapiters [ i.e. capitals] of cast bronze for the tops of the pillars, etc. [as in RV [Note: Revised Version.] ]. And he made two sets of network to cover the chapiters which were upon the tops of the pillars, a network for the one chapiter and a network for the second chapiter. And he made the pomegranates; and two rows of pomegranates in bronze were upon the one network, and the pomegranates were 200, round about upon the one chapiter, and so he did for the second chapiter. And be set up the pillars at the porch of the temple,’ etc. [as in Jeremiah 52:21 RV [Note: Revised Version.] ].

The original description, thus freed from later glosses such as the difficult ‘lily work’ of Jeremiah 52:19 , consists of three parts; the pillars, their capitals, and the ornamentation of the latter. The pillars themselves were hollow, with a thickness of metal equal to three inches of our measure; their height, on the basis of the larger cubit of 20 1 / 2 inches (see Hastings’ DB [Note: Dictionary of the Bible.] iv. 907 a ), was about 31 feet, while their diameter works out at about 6 1 /2 feet. The capitals appear from 1 Kings 7:41 to have been globular or spheroidal in form, each about 8 1 /2 feet in height, giving a total height for the complete pillars of roughly 40 feet. The ornamentation of the capitals was twofold: first they were covered with a specially cast network of bronze. Over this were hung festoon-wise two wreaths of bronze pomegranates, each row containing 100 pomegranates, of which it is probable that four were fixed to the network, while the remaining 96 hung free (see Jeremiah 52:23 ).

As regards their position relative to the Temple, it may be regarded as certain that they were structurally independent of the Temple porch, and stood free in front of it probably on plinths or bases Jachin on the south and Boaz on the north (1 Kings 7:21 ), one on either side of the steps leading up to the entrance to the porch (cf. Ezekiel 40:49 ). Such free-standing pillars were a feature of PhÅ“nician and other temples of Western Asia, the statements of Greek writers on this point being confirmed by representations on contemporary coins. A glass dish, discovered in Rome in 1882, even shows a representation of Solomon’s Temple with the twin pillars flanking the porch, as above described (reproduced in Benzinger’s Heb. Arch . [1907], 218).

The names ‘Jachin’ and ‘Boaz’ present an enigma which still awaits solution. The meanings suggested in the margins of EV [Note: English Version.] Jachin , ‘he shall establish,’ Boaz , ‘in it is strength’ give no help, and are besides very problematical. The various forms of the names presented by the Greek texts for which see EBi [Note: Encyclopædia Biblica.] ii. 2304 f. and esp. Barnes in JThSt [Note: ThSt Journal of Theological Studies.] v. [1904], 447 551 point to a possible original nomenclature as Baal and Jachun the latter a PhÅ“nician verbal form of the same signification (‘he will be’) as the Heb. Jahweh .

The original significance and purpose of the pillars, finally, are almost as obscure as their names. The fact that they were the work of a Phœnician artist, however, makes it probable that their presence is to be explained on the analogy of the similar pillars of Phœnician temples. These, though viewed in more primitive times as the abode of the Deity (see Pillar), had, as civilization and religion advanced, come to be regarded as mere symbols of His presence. To a Phœnician temple-builder, Jachin and Boaz would appear as the natural adjuncts of such a building, and are therefore, perhaps, best explained as conventional symbols of the God for whose worship the Temple of Solomon was designed.

For another, and entirely improbable, view of their original purpose, namely, that they were huge candelabra or cressets in which ‘the suet of the sacrifices, was burned, see W. R. Smith’s RS [Note: S Religion of the Semites.] 2 , 488; and for the latest attempts to explain the pillars in terms of the Babylonian ‘astral mythology,’ see A. Jeremias, Das alte Test. im Lichte d. alt. Orients 2 [1906], 494, etc.; Benzinger, op. cit. , 2nd ed. [1907], 323, 331.

A. R. S. Kennedy.

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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Jachin and Boaz'. Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible. 1909.

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