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Bible Dictionaries

Holman Bible Dictionary

Palace

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The residence of a monarch or noble. KJV often used palace in passages where modern translations have substituted a term more appropriate to the context. Terms designating a strongly fortified section of the king's residence often replaced palace: citadel (1 Kings 16:18 ; 2 Kings 15:25 ); tower (Psalm 122:7 NRSV; Song of Song of Solomon 8:9 NIV); stronghold ( Isaiah 34:13 ; Amos 1:4 NRSV); fortress ( Amos 1:4 NIV); battlement (Song of Song of Solomon 8:9 NRSV; parapet, REB). At Amos 4:3 , modern translations replace palace with the proper name Harmon. The KJV used palace twice for the Greek aule (Matthew 26:3 ; Luke 11:21 ). The crowd in Matthew 26:1 gathered in the courtyard of the high priest's residence. Modern translations rendered aule variously: palace (NIV, NRSV, TEV); court (NAS); house (REB). The strong man of Luke 11:1 guarded the open courtyard of his home. Modern translations are again divided on the translation of aule: castle (NRSV); homestead (NAS); house (NIV, TEV); palace (REB, RSV). The KJV also used palace to translate the Latin loanword praetorium ( Philippians 1:13 ). Modern translations replaced palace with praetorian guard (NAS, RSV) or an equivalent expression (imperial guard, NRSV, REB; palace guard, NIV, TEV).

Palaces served not only as royal residences but as a means of displaying the wealth of a kingdom. Esther 1:6-7 describes the palace of King Ahasuerus (Xerxes I) of Assyria which featured fine curtains, marble pillars, and ornate mosaic floors. David's palace was built by workers sent by King Hiram of Tyre and featured cedar woodwork ( 2 Samuel 5:11 ). The palace must have been large to accommodate David's growing number of wives, concubines, and children (2 Samuel 3:2-5 ; 2 Samuel 5:13-16 ), as well as store booty, such as the golden shields which David seized (2 Samuel 8:7 ). Solomon's palace complex required thirteen years for completion (1 Kings 7:1 ). His palace complex included the “house of the forest of Lebanon” (1 Kings 7:2 ), an immense hall featuring 45 cedar pillars and Solomon's golden shields (1 Kings 10:16-18 ), the “porch of pillars” (1 Kings 7:6 ), the “Hall of Justice” (1 Kings 7:7 NRSV), featuring an ivory and gold throne ( 1 Kings 10:18-20 ), and private dwellings for both king and Pharoah's daughter (1 Kings 7:8 ). Builders used costly hewn stone and cedar throughout the palace (1Kings 7:9,1 Kings 7:11 ). Portions of this palace complex survived the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians (Nehemiah 3:25 ). King Ahab's palace in Samaria was decorated with ivory panels, some of which have been recovered by archaeologists (1 Kings 22:39 ).

The prophets, particularly Amos, condemned the rich for building palaces at the expense of the poor. Amos' announcements of doom refer to summer and winter residences, ivory furniture and palaces, and great houses of hewn stone (Amos 3:15 ; Amos 5:11 ; Amos 6:4 ,Amos 6:4,6:11 ). Jeremiah offered a similar critique of Jeroboam's building program in Jerusalem (Jeremiah 22:13-15 ).

Chris Church


Copyright Statement
These dictionary topics are from the Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Broadman & Holman, 1991. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman.

Bibliography Information
Butler, Trent C. Editor. Entry for 'Palace'. Holman Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/hbd/p/palace.html. 1991.

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