Keil and Delitzsch OT Commentary
The First Act of the solemnities consisted (1) in the removal of the ark of the covenant into the Most Holy Place of the temple (1 Kings 8:1-11); and (2) in the words with which Solomon celebrated the entrance of the Lord into the new temple (1 Kings 8:12-21).
Then Solomon assembled the elders of Israel, and all the heads of the tribes, the chief of the fathers of the children of Israel, unto king Solomon in Jerusalem, that they might bring up the ark of the covenant of the LORD out of the city of David, which is Zion.This solemn transaction consisted of three parts, and the chapter arranges itself in three sections accordingly: viz., (a) the conveyance of the ark and the tabernacle, together with its vessels, into the temple, with the words spoken by Solomon on the occasion (vv. 1-21); (b) Solomon's dedicatory prayer (vv. 22-53); (c) the blessing of the congregation, and the offering of sacrifice and observance of a feast (1 Kings 8:54-66). - The parallel account to this in 2 Chronicles 5:2-7:10, in addition to certain minor alterations of words and constructions, introduced for the most part merely for the sake of elucidation, contains here and there, and more especially towards the end, a few deviations of greater extent, partly omissions and partly additions. But in other respects it agrees almost word for word with our account.
With regard to the time of the dedication, it is merely stated in 1 Kings 8:2 that the heads of the nation assembled at Jerusalem to this feast in the seventh month. The year in which this took place is not given. But as the building of the temple was finished, according to 1 Kings 6:38, in the eighth month of the eleventh year of Solomon's reign, the dedication which followed in the seventh month cannot have taken place in the same year as the completion of the building. Ewald's opinion, that Solomon dedicated the building a month before it was finished, is not only extremely improbable in itself, but is directly at variance with 1 Kings 7:51. If we add to this, that according to 1 Kings 9:1-10 it was not till after the lapse of twenty years, during which he had built the two houses, the temple, and his palace, that the Lord appeared to Solomon at the dedication of the temple and promised to answer his prayer, we must decide in favour of the view held by Thenius, that the dedication of the temple did not take place till twenty years after the building of it was begun, or thirteen years after it was finished, and when Solomon had also completed the building of the palace, which occupied thirteen years, as the lxx have indicated at the commencement of 1 Kings 8:1 by the interpolation of the words, καὶ ἐγένετο ὡς συνετέλεσε Σαλωμὼν τοῦ οἰκοδομῆσαι τὸν οἶκον Κυρίου καὶ τὸν οἶκον αὐτοῦ μετὰ εἴκοσι ἔτη.
(Note: From the whole character of the Alexandrian version, there can be no doubt that these words have been transferred by the lxx from 1 Kings 9:1, and have not dropped out of the Hebrew text, as Thenius supposes.)
1 Kings 8:1-11Removal of the ark of the covenant into the temple. - This solemn transaction was founded entirely upon the solemnities with which the ark was conveyed in the time of David from the house of Obed-edom into the holy tent upon Zion (2 Samuel 6:12.; 1 Chronicles 15:2.). Solomon assembled the elders of Israel, and all the heads of the tribes, the princes of the fathers' houses (האבות נשׂיאי, contracted from האבות בּית נשׂיאי) of the Israelites, as representatives of the whole congregation, to himself at Jerusalem, to bring the ark of the covenant out of the city of David, i.e., from Mount Zion (see the Comm. on 2 Samuel 6:16-17), into the temple which he had built upon Moriah. (On the use of the contracted form of the imperfect יקהל after אז, see Ewald, 233, b.)
And all the men of Israel assembled themselves unto king Solomon at the feast in the month Ethanim, which is the seventh month.Accordingly "all the men of Israel (i.e., the heads of the tribes and families mentioned in 1 Kings 8:1) assembled together to the king in the month Ethanim, i.e., the seventh month, at the feast." Gesenius explains the name האתנים (in 55 codd. האיתנים) as meaning "month of the flowing brooks," after איתן in Proverbs 13:15; Bttcher, on the other hand, supposes it to denote the equinox. But apart from other grounds, the plural by no means favours this. Nor does the seventh month answer to the period between the middle of our September and the middle of October, as is supposed by Thenius, who founds upon this supposition the explanation already rejected by Bttcher, viz., "month of gifts;" but it corresponds to the period between the new moon of October and the new moon of November, during which the rainy season commences in Palestine (Rob. Pal. ii. p. 96ff.), so that this month may very well have received its name from the constant flowing of the brooks. The explanation, "that is the seventh month," is added, however (here as in 1 Kings 6:1, 1 Kings 6:38), not because the arrangement of the months was a different one before the captivity (Thenius), but because different names came into use for the months during the captivity. בּחג is construed with the article: "because the feast intended was one that was well known, and had already been kept for a long time (viz., the feast of tabernacles)." The article overthrows the explanation given by Thenius, who supposes that the reference is to the festivities connected with the dedication of the temple itself.
And all the elders of Israel came, and the priests took up the ark.After the arrival of all the elders (i.e., of the representatives of the nation, more particularly described in 1 Kings 8:1), the priests carried the ark and brought it up (sc., into the temple), with the tabernacle and all the holy vessels in it. The expression אתם ויּעלוּ, which follows, introduces as a supplementary notice, according to the general diffuseness of the early Hebrew style of narrative, the more precise statement that the priests and Levites brought up these sacred vessels. מועד אהל is not the tent erected for the ark of the covenant upon Zion, which can be proved to have been never so designated, and which is expressly distinguished from the former in 2 Chronicles 1:4 as compared with 1 Kings 8:3, but is the Mosaic tabernacle at Gibeon in front of which Solomon had offered sacrifice (1 Kings 3:4). The tabernacle with the vessels in it, to which, however, the ark of the covenant, that had long been separated from it, did not belong, was probably preserved as a sacred relic in the rooms above the Most Holy Place. The ark of the covenant was carried by priests on all solemn occasions, according to the spirit of the law, which enjoined, in Numbers 3:31 and Numbers 4:5., that the ark of the covenant and the rest of the sacred vessels should be carried by the Levites, after the priests had carefully wrapped them up; and the Levites were prohibited from directly touching them, on pain of death. When, therefore, the ark of the covenant was carried in solemn procession, as in the case before us, probably uncovered, this could only be done by the priests, more especially as the Levites were not allowed to enter the Most Holy Place. Consequently, by the statement in 1 Kings 8:3, that the priests and Levites carried them (אתם), viz., the objects mentioned before, we are to understand that the ark of the covenant was carried into the temple by the priests, and the tabernacle with its vessels by the Levites.
(Note: Instead of כּהנים in 1 Kings 8:3, we have הלּויּם in 2 Chronicles 5:4; and instead of והלּויּם הכּהנים in 1 Kings 8:4, we have הלּויּם הכּהנים, "the Levitical priests." These variations are to be attributed to inexactness in expression. For it is obvious that Thenius is wrong in his notion that the chronicler mentioned the Levites instead of the priests, from the simple fact that he states in 1 Kings 8:7 that "the priests carried the ark," etc., in exact agreement with our account.)
And they brought up the ark of the LORD, and the tabernacle of the congregation, and all the holy vessels that were in the tabernacle, even those did the priests and the Levites bring up.
And king Solomon, and all the congregation of Israel, that were assembled unto him, were with him before the ark, sacrificing sheep and oxen, that could not be told nor numbered for multitude."And king Solomon and the whole congregation, that had gathered round him, were with him before the ark sacrificing sheep and oxen in innumerable multitude." This took place while the ark of the covenant was carried up, no doubt when it was brought into the court of the temple, and was set down there for a time either within or in front of the hall. Then was this magnificent sacrifice "offered" there "in front of the ark" (הארון לפני).
And the priests brought in the ark of the covenant of the LORD unto his place, into the oracle of the house, to the most holy place, even under the wings of the cherubims.After this sacrificing was ended, the priests carried the ark to its place, into the back-room of the house, into the Most Holy under the wings of the cherubim (already described in 1 Kings 6:23.). The latter statement is explained in 1 Kings 8:7. "For the cherubim were spreading out wings towards the place of the ark, and so covered (lit., threw a shade) over the ark and over its poles from above." If the outspread wings of the great cherubic figures threw a shade not only over the ark of the covenant, but also over its poles, the ark was probably so placed that the poles ran from north to south, and not from east to west, as they are sketched in my Archologie.
For the cherubims spread forth their two wings over the place of the ark, and the cherubims covered the ark and the staves thereof above.
And they drew out the staves, that the ends of the staves were seen out in the holy place before the oracle, and they were not seen without: and there they are unto this day."And the poles were long, and there were seen their heads (i.e., they were so long that their heads were seen) from the Holy Place before the hinder room; but on the outside (outside the Holy Place, say in the porch) they were not seen." יאכוּ cannot be rendered: they had lengthened the poles, from which Kimchi and others have inferred that they had made new and longer carrying-poles, since the form of the tense in this connection cannot be the pluperfect, and in that case, moreover the object would be indicated by את as in 1 Kings 3:14; but האריך is used intransitively, "to be long," lit., to show length, as in Exodus 20:12; Deuteronomy 5:16, etc. The remark to the effect that the poles were visible, indicates that the precept of the law in Exodus 25:15, according to which the poles were to be left in the ark, was observed in Solomon's temple also. Any one could convince himself of this, for the poles were there "to this day." The author of our books has retained this chronological allusion as he found it in his original sources; for when he composed his work, the temple was no longer standing. It is impossible, however, to ascertain from this statement how the heads of the poles could be seen in the Holy Place, - whether from the fact that they reached the curtain and formed elevations therein, if the poles ran from front to back; or whether, if, as is more probable, they ran from south to north, the front heads were to be seen, simply when the curtain was drawn back.
(Note: The proof which Thenius has endeavoured to give by means of a drawing of the correctness of the latter view, is founded upon untenable assumptions (see Bttcher, Aehrenl. ii. p. 69). It by no means follows from the expression דביר על־פּני that the heads of the poles were visible as far off as the door of the Holy Place, but simply that they could be seen in the Holy Place, though not outside.)
There was nothing in the ark save the two tables of stone, which Moses put there at Horeb, when the LORD made a covenant with the children of Israel, when they came out of the land of Egypt."There was nothing in the ark but the two tables of stone, which Moses had put there at Horeb, when Jehovah concluded the covenant with Israel." The intention of this remark is also simply to show that the law, which enjoined that the ark should merely preserve the stone tables of the covenant (Exodus 25:16; Exodus 40:20), had not been departed from in the lapse of time. אשׁר before כּרת is not a pronoun, but a conjunction: when, from the time that, as in Deuteronomy 11:6, etc. כּרת without בּרית, signifying the conclusion of a covenant, as in 1 Samuel 20:16; 1 Samuel 22:8, etc. Horeb, the general name for the place where the law was given, instead of the more definite name Sinai, as in Deuteronomy (see the Comm. on Exodus 19:1-2).
(Note: The statement in Hebrews 9:4, to the effect that the pot of manna and Aaron's rod that budded were also to be found in the ark, which is at variance with this verse, and which the earlier commentators endeavoured to bring into harmony with it by forced methods of different kinds, simply rests upon an erroneous interpretation of העדוּת לפני in Exodus 16:33-34, and Numbers 17:10, which had become traditional among the Jews; since this merely affirms that the objects mentioned had been deposited in front of the testimony, i.e., in front of the ark which contained the testimony, and not within it, as the Jews supposed. - Still less are De Wette and others warranted in deducing from this verse an argument against the existence of the Mosaic book of the law in the time of Solomon, inasmuch as, according to the precept in Deuteronomy 31:26, the book of the law was not to be kept in the ark, but by the side of it, or near it.)
And it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the holy place, that the cloud filled the house of the LORD,At the dedication of the tabernacle the glory of Jehovah in the cloud filled the sanctuary, so that Moses could not enter (Exodus 40:34-35); and so was it now. When the priests came out of the sanctuary, after putting the ark of the covenant in its place, the cloud filled the house of Jehovah, so that the priests could not stand to minister. The signification of this fact was the same on both occasions. The cloud, as the visible symbol of the gracious presence of God, filled the temple, as a sign that Jehovah the covenant-God had entered into it, and had chosen it as the scene of His gracious manifestation in Israel. By the inability of the priests to stand, we are not to understand that the cloud drove them away; for it was not till the priests had come out that it filled the temple. It simply means that they could not remain in the Holy Place to perform service, say to offer an incense-offering upon the altar to consecrate it, just as sacrifices were offered upon the altar of burnt-offering after the dedicatory prayer (1 Kings 8:62, 1 Kings 8:63).
(Note: Bertheau's opinion (on 2 Chronicles 5:14), that the priests could not remain in the hall and in front of it on account of the cloud, namely, "the cloud of smoke, which, ascending from the sacrifices burned upon the altar of burnt-offering, concealed the glory of the Lord," is decidedly erroneous. For the cloud which hindered the priest from performing the service was, according to the distinct words of the text, the cloud which filled the house; and the explanatory clause, "for the glory of the Lord filled the house of Jehovah," indicates in the most unmistakeable terms that it was the vehicle of the glory of God, and therefore was no a cloud of smoke formed by the burning sacrifices, but the cloud in which God manifested His invisible being to His people, - the very same cloud in which Jehovah was to appear above the Capporeth, when the high priest entered the Most Holy Place on the day of atonement, so that he was commanded not to enter it at all times, and, when he entered, to cover the Capporeth with the cloud of the burning incense (Leviticus 16:2, Leviticus 16:13).
The glory of the Lord, which is like a consuming fire (Exodus 24:17; Deuteronomy 4:24; Deuteronomy 9:3), before which unholy man cannot stand, manifested itself in the cloud. This marvellous manifestation of the glory of God took place only at the dedication; after that the cloud was only visible in the Most Holy Place on the great day of atonement, when the high priest entered it. - The Chronicles contain a long account at this place of the playing and singing of the Levites at these solemnities (vid., 2 Chronicles 5:12-14).
So that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud: for the glory of the LORD had filled the house of the LORD.
Then spake Solomon, The LORD said that he would dwell in the thick darkness.Solomon extols this marvellous proof of the favour of the Lord. - 1 Kings 8:12. Then spake Solomon, "Jehovah hath spoken to dwell in the darkness." "Solomon saw that the temple was filled with a cloud, and remembered that God had been pleased to appear in a cloud in the tent of Moses also. Hence he assuredly believed that God was in this cloud also, and that, as formerly He had filled the tabernacle, so He would now fill the temple and dwell therein" (Seb. Schmidt). וגו יהוה אמר, which Thenius still renders incorrectly, "the Lord intends to dwell in the darkness," refers, as Rashi, C. a Lap., and others have seen, to the utterances of God in the Pentateuch concerning the manifestation of His gracious presence among His people, not merely to Leviticus 16:2 (I will appear in the cloud), but also to Exodus 19:9, where the Lord said to Moses, "I come to thee הענן בּעב," and still more to Exodus 20:21 and Deuteronomy 4:11; Deuteronomy 5:19, according to which God came down upon Sinai בּערפל. Solomon took the word ערפל from these passages. That he meant by this the black, dark cloud which filled the temple, is perfectly obvious from the combination והערפל הענן in Deuteronomy 5:19 and Deuteronomy 4:11.
(Note: Thenius, however, has built up all kinds of untenable conjectures as to alterations of the text, upon the erroneous assumption that ענן means the light and radiant cloud, and cannot be synonymous with ערפל. Bttcher adopts the same opinion, without taking any notice of the striking remarks of Bertheau on 2 Chronicles 5:14.)
Solomon saw this word of Jehovah realized in the filling of the temple with the cloud, and learned therefrom that the Lord would dwell in this temple. Hence, being firmly convinced of the presence of Jehovah in the cloud which filled the sanctuary, he adds in 1 Kings 8:13 : "I have built Thee a house to dwell in, a place for Thy seat for ever." We are not to understand עולמים as signifying that Solomon believed that the temple built by him would stand for ever; but it is to be explained partly from the contrast to the previous abode of God in the tabernacle, which from the very nature of the case could only be a temporary one, inasmuch as a tent, such as the tabernacle was, is not only a moveable and provisional dwelling, but also a very perishable one, and partly from the promise given to David in 2 Samuel 7:14-16, that the Lord would establish the throne of his kingdom for his seed for ever. This promise involved the eternal duration of the gracious connection between God and Israel, which was embodied in the dwelling of God in the temple. This connection, from its very nature, was an eternal one; even if the earthly form, from which Solomon at that moment abstracted himself, was temporal and perishable. - Solomon had spoken these words with his face turned to the Most Holy Place. He then (1 Kings 8:14) turned his face to the congregation, which was standing in the court, and blessed it. The word "blessed" (יברך) denotes the wish for a blessing with which the king greeted the assembled congregation, and introduced the praise of God which follows. - In 1 Kings 8:15-21 he praises the Lord for having now fulfilled with His hand what He spake with His mouth to his father David (2 Samuel 7).
I have surely built thee an house to dwell in, a settled place for thee to abide in for ever.
And the king turned his face about, and blessed all the congregation of Israel: (and all the congregation of Israel stood;)
And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of Israel, which spake with his mouth unto David my father, and hath with his hand fulfilled it, saying,
Since the day that I brought forth my people Israel out of Egypt, I chose no city out of all the tribes of Israel to build an house, that my name might be therein; but I chose David to be over my people Israel.The promise of God, to choose Jerusalem as the place for the temple and David as prince, is taken freely from 2 Samuel 7:7-8. In 2 Chronicles 6:6, before "I chose David," we find "and I chose Jerusalem, that my name might be there;" so that the affirmation answers more precisely to the preceding negation, whereas in the account before us this middle term is omitted.
And it was in the heart of David my father to build an house for the name of the LORD God of Israel.David's intention to build the temple, and the answer of God that his son was to execute this work, are so far copied from 2 Samuel 7:2, 2 Samuel 7:12-13, that God approves the intention of David as such. הטיבת, "Thou didst well that it was in thy mind."
And the LORD said unto David my father, Whereas it was in thine heart to build an house unto my name, thou didst well that it was in thine heart.
Nevertheless thou shalt not build the house; but thy son that shall come forth out of thy loins, he shall build the house unto my name.
And the LORD hath performed his word that he spake, and I am risen up in the room of David my father, and sit on the throne of Israel, as the LORD promised, and have built an house for the name of the LORD God of Israel."And Jehovah has set up His word." וגו ויּקם supplies the explanation of בידו מלּא (hath fulfilled with his hand) in 1 Kings 8:15. God had caused Solomon to take possession of the throne of David; and Solomon had built the temple and prepared a place there for the ark of the covenant. The ark is thereby declared to be the kernel and star of the temple, because it was the throne of the glory of God.
And I have set there a place for the ark, wherein is the covenant of the LORD, which he made with our fathers, when he brought them out of the land of Egypt.
And Solomon stood before the altar of the LORD in the presence of all the congregation of Israel, and spread forth his hands toward heaven:Second Act of the feast of dedication: Solomon's dedicatory prayer (cf. 2 Chronicles 6:12-42). - 1 Kings 8:22. "Then Solomon stood before the altar of Jehovah in front of all the assembly of Israel, and stretched out his hands towards heaven." It is evident from 1 Kings 8:54 that Solomon uttered the prayer which follows upon his knees. The Chronicles contain the same account as we have here, with this addition, that it is said to have taken place on a "scaffold," or kind of pulpit (כּיּור) specially erected for the purpose.
(Note: Bttcher is right in his assertion, that the opinion expressed by Thenius and Cappellus, that this passage in the Chronicles has been dropped out of our text through a copyist's oversight, is a very improbable one; although the reasons he assigns are for the most part untenable. The omission may be explained in a very simple manner, from the fact that the introduction of this circumstance had no bearing upon the design or contents of the dedicatory prayer.)
The altar, to the front of which Solomon went, was the altar of burnt-offering in the court, where the congregation was gathered together. The expression ישׂ כּל־קהל נגד favours the idea that Solomon offered the prayer upon his knees with his face turned towards the congregation, and not with his back to the people and his face turned towards the temple, as Thenius supposes. - The substance of the prayer is closely connected with the prayer of Moses, especially with the blessings and curses therein (vid., Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28). Commencing with the praise of God, who "keepeth covenant and truth" towards His servants, and has thus far performed to His servant David the promise that He gave him (1 Kings 8:23, 1 Kings 8:24), Solomon entreats the Lord still further to fulfil this promise of His (1 Kings 8:25, 1 Kings 8:26), and to keep His eyes constantly open over the temple, to hearken to the prayers of His people, and to avert the curse threatened against sinners from all who shall call upon Him in this temple (vv. 27-53).
And he said, LORD God of Israel, there is no God like thee, in heaven above, or on earth beneath, who keepest covenant and mercy with thy servants that walk before thee with all their heart:By granting the blessing promised to His people, the Lord has hitherto proved Himself to be the true and only God in heaven and on earth, who keepeth covenant and mercy with those who walk before Him with all their heart. This acknowledgment provides the requisite confidence for offering the prayer which is sure of an answer (Matthew 21:22; Mark 11:24; James 1:6). For אל אין־כּמוך, compare Exodus 15:11 with Deuteronomy 4:39; 2 Samuel 7:22; 2 Samuel 22:32; Psalm 86:8. "Who keepeth covenant and mercy," verbatim the same as in Deuteronomy 7:9. The promise given to His servant David (2 Samuel 7), the fulfilment of which the commencement now lay before their eyes (cf. 1 Kings 8:20, 1 Kings 8:21), was an emanation from the covenant faithfulness of God. "As it is this day," as in 1 Kings 3:6.
Who hast kept with thy servant David my father that thou promisedst him: thou spakest also with thy mouth, and hast fulfilled it with thine hand, as it is this day.
Therefore now, LORD God of Israel, keep with thy servant David my father that thou promisedst him, saying, There shall not fail thee a man in my sight to sit on the throne of Israel; so that thy children take heed to their way, that they walk before me as thou hast walked before me.The expression "and now" (ועתּה) introduces the prayer for the further fulfilment of the promise, never to allow a successor upon the throne to be wanting to David, in the same conditional form in which David had uttered the hope in 1 Kings 2:4, and in which the Lord had renewed the promise to Solomon during the building of the temple (1 Kings 6:12-13). In על־כּסּא ישׁב מלּפני, instead of כּסּא מעל in 1 Kings 2:4, the divine rejection is more distinctly indicated.
And now, O God of Israel, let thy word, I pray thee, be verified, which thou spakest unto thy servant David my father.1 Kings 8:26 is not merely a repetition of the prayer in 1 Kings 8:25, as Thenius supposes, but forms the introduction to the prayers which follow for the hearing of all the prayer presented before the Lord in the temple. The words, "let Thy words be verified, which Thou spakest unto Thy servant David," contain something more than a prayer for the continual preservation of the descendants of David upon the throne, for the fulfilment of which Solomon prayed in 1 Kings 8:25. They refer to the whole of the promise in 2 Samuel 7:12-16. The plural דּבריך (Chethb) points back to כּל־הדּברים in 2 Samuel 7:17, and is not to be altered into the singular after the Keri. The singular יאמן is used as it frequently is with the subject in the plural, when the verb precedes (cf. Ewald. 316, a., 1). Solomon has here in mind one particular point in the promise, viz., that God would not withdraw His mercy from the seed of David, even when it sinned. This is evident from what follows, where he mentions simply cases of transgression, and prays that they may be forgiven.
But will God indeed dwell on the earth? behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house that I have builded?1 Kings 8:26 are closely connected in this sense: keep Thy words that were spoken to David; for although this temple cannot hold Thine infinite divine nature, I know that Thou wilt have respect to the prayer of Thy servant, to keep Thine eyes open over this temple, to hear every prayer which Thy people shall bring before Thee therein. וּפנית in 1 Kings 8:28 continues the optative נא יאמן in 1 Kings 8:26; and 1 Kings 8:27 contains an intermediate thought, with which Solomon meets certain contracted ideas of the gracious presence of God in the temple. כּי (1 Kings 8:27) signifies neither but, nevertheless, atque (Bttcher), nor "as" (Thenius, Bertheau); and the assertion that 1 Kings 8:27 is the commencement of a new section is overthrown by the inadmissible rendering of וּפנית, "but Thou turnest Thyself" (Thenius). - With the words, "Should God really dwell upon the earth! behold, the heaven and the heaven of heavens (i.e., the heavens in their widest extent, cf. Deuteronomy 10:14) cannot contain Thee, to say nothing (כּי אף; cf. Ewald, 354, c.) of this house which I have built," in which the infinitude of God and His exaltation above the world are expressed as clearly and forcibly as possible, Solomon does not intend to guard against the delusion that God really dwells in temples (J. D. Mich.), but simply to meet the erroneous idea that He dwells in the temple as men dwell in a house, namely, shut up within it, and not also outside and above it, - a delusion which sometimes forced its way into the unspiritual nation but which was always attacked by the prophets (cf. Micah 3:11; Jeremiah 7:4, etc.). For it is evident that Solomon did combine with his clear perception of the infinite exaltation of God a firm belief in His real presence in the temple, and did not do homage to the abstract idealism of the rationalists, not merely from his declaration in 1 Kings 8:12. that he had built this temple as a dwelling-place for God, but also from the substance of all the following prayers, and primarily from the general prayer in 1 Kings 8:28, 1 Kings 8:29, that God would take this temple under His special protection, and hearken to every prayer directed towards it. The distinction between תּפלּה, תּחנּה, and רנּה is the following: תּפלּה denotes prayer in general, praise, supplication, and thanksgiving; תּחנּה, supplication or entreaty, prayer for help and mercy; and רנּה, jubilation, prayer as the joyous utterance of praise and thanksgiving.
Yet have thou respect unto the prayer of thy servant, and to his supplication, O LORD my God, to hearken unto the cry and to the prayer, which thy servant prayeth before thee to day:
That thine eyes may be open toward this house night and day, even toward the place of which thou hast said, My name shall be there: that thou mayest hearken unto the prayer which thy servant shall make toward this place."That Thine eyes may be open upon this house night and day." אל־הבּית, speciali quadam providentia in hanc domum directi (Mich.). The following clause, "upon the place of which Thou hast said, My name shall be there" (namely, 2 Samuel 7:13, implicite), contains within itself the ground upon which the prayer rests. Because the name of God will be in the temple, i.e., because God will manifest His gracious presence there, He will also keep His eyes open upon it, so as to hear the prayer of Solomon directed towards it. הזּה המּקום אל (toward this place): because Solomon also was prayer in the court towards the temple. - In 1 Kings 8:30, "and hear the supplication of Thy servant and of Thy people Israel," he begins by asking that those prayers may be heard which the king and people shall henceforth bring before God in the temple. ושׁמעתּ corresponds to וּפנית in 1 Kings 8:28, and is more precisely defined by the following תּשׁמע ואתּה (as for these prayers), Thou wilt hear them up to the place of Thine abode, to heaven. אל שׁמע is a pregnant expression: to hear the prayer, which ascends to heaven. In the Chronicles we find throughout the explanatory מן. The last words, "hear and forgive," must be left in their general form, and not limited by anything to be supplied. Nothing but forgiveness of sin can remove the curse by which transgression is followed.
This general prayer is then particularized from 1 Kings 8:31 onwards by the introduction of seven special petitions for an answer in the different cases in which, in future, prayers may be offered to God in the temple. The first prayer (1 Kings 8:31, 1 Kings 8:32) has reference to the oaths sworn in the temple, the sanctity of which God is asked to protect. "If a man sin against his neighbour, and an oath be laid upon him, to cause him to swear, and he come (and) swear before the altar in this house, then wilt Thou hear," etc. אשׁר את does not mean either "granted that" (Thenius) or "just when" (Ewald, 533, a.), although אם is used in the Chronicles, and we might render it freely "when;" but את is simply an accusative particle, serving to introduce the following clause, in the sense of "as for," or "with regard to (such a case as) that a man sins" (vid., Ewald, 277, a.). אלה וּבא cannot be taken as anything but an asyndeton. For if אלה were a substantive, it would have the article (האלה) provided it were the subject, and the verb would be written בּאה; and if it were the object, we should have בּאלה, as in Nehemiah 10:30 (cf. Ezekiel 17:13). The prayer refers to the cases mentioned in Exodus 22:6-12 and Leviticus 26:17, when property entrusted to any one had been lost or injured, or when a thing had been found and the finding was denied, or when an act of fraud had been committed; in which cases the law required not only compensation with the addition of a fifth of its value, but also a trespass-offering as an expiation of the sin committed by taking a false oath. But as this punishment could only be inflicted when the guilty person afterwards confessed his guilt, many false oaths might have been sworn in the cases in question and have remained unpunished, so far as men were concerned. Solomon therefore prays that the Lord will hear every such oath that shall have been sworn before the altar, and work (עשׂית), i.e., actively interpose, and judge His servants, to punish the guilty and justify the innocent. The construction השּׁמים תּשׁמע (1 Kings 8:32, 1 Kings 8:34, 1 Kings 8:36, etc.) can be explained more simply from the adverbial use of the accusative (Ewald, 300, b.), than from השּׁמים אל in 1 Kings 8:30. בּראשׁו דּרכּו תּת, to give (bring) his way upon his head, i.e., to cause the merited punishment to fall upon him (cf. Ezekiel 9:10; Ezekiel 11:21, etc.). רשׁע הרשׁרע and צדּיק הצדּיק recall Deuteronomy 25:2. For כּצדקתו לו תּת compare 2 Samuel 22:21, 2 Samuel 22:25. - The following cases are all taken from Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28.
And hearken thou to the supplication of thy servant, and of thy people Israel, when they shall pray toward this place: and hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place: and when thou hearest, forgive.
If any man trespass against his neighbour, and an oath be laid upon him to cause him to swear, and the oath come before thine altar in this house:
Then hear thou in heaven, and do, and judge thy servants, condemning the wicked, to bring his way upon his head; and justifying the righteous, to give him according to his righteousness.
When thy people Israel be smitten down before the enemy, because they have sinned against thee, and shall turn again to thee, and confess thy name, and pray, and make supplication unto thee in this house:The second petition, - "If Thy people Israel are smitten by the enemy, because they have sinned against Thee, and they turn to Thee and confess Thy name, ... then hear ... and bring them back into the land," - refers to the threatenings in Leviticus 26:17 and Deuteronomy 28:25, where the nation is threatened with defeat and subjugation on the part of enemies, who shall invade the land, in which case prisoners of war are carried away into foreign lands, but the mass of the people remain in the land, so that they who are beaten can pray to the Lord in the temple, that He will forgive them their sin, save them out of the power of the enemy, and bring back the captives and fugitives into their fatherland.
Then hear thou in heaven, and forgive the sin of thy people Israel, and bring them again unto the land which thou gavest unto their fathers.
When heaven is shut up, and there is no rain, because they have sinned against thee; if they pray toward this place, and confess thy name, and turn from their sin, when thou afflictest them:The third prayer refers to the remission of the punishment of drought threatened against the land, when the heaven is shut up, according to Leviticus 26:19; Deuteronomy 11:17; Deuteronomy 28:23. תענם כּי, because Thou humblest them (lxx, Vulg.); not "that Thou hearest them" (Chald. and others). תורם כּי, because Thou teachest them the good way. These words correspond to כי תענם, and contain a motive for forgiveness. Because God teaches His people and seeks by means of chastisements to bring them back to the good way when they fail to keep His commandments, He must forgive when they recognise the punishment as a divine chastisement and come to Him with penitential prayer.
Then hear thou in heaven, and forgive the sin of thy servants, and of thy people Israel, that thou teach them the good way wherein they should walk, and give rain upon thy land, which thou hast given to thy people for an inheritance.
If there be in the land famine, if there be pestilence, blasting, mildew, locust, or if there be caterpiller; if their enemy besiege them in the land of their cities; whatsoever plague, whatsoever sickness there be;The fourth prayer relates to the removal of other land-plagues: famine (Leviticus 26:19-20, and Leviticus 26:26; Deuteronomy 28:23); pestilence (Leviticus 26:25); blight and mildew in the corn (Deuteronomy 28:22); locusts (חסיל, devourer, is connected with ארבּה without a copula, - in the Chronicles by Vv, - to depict the plague of locusts more vividly before their eyes after Deuteronomy 28:38); oppression by enemies in their own land; lastly, plagues and diseases of all kinds, such as are threatened against the rebellious in Leviticus 26:16 and Deuteronomy 28:59-61. יצר is not the imperfect Kal of צוּר (Ges., Dietr., Frst, Olsh. Gramm. p. 524), but the imperfect Hiphil of הצר in Deuteronomy 28:52, as in Nehemiah 9:27; and the difficult expression שׁעריו בּארץ is probably to be altered into שׁ בּארץ, whilst שׁעריו is either to be taken as a second object to יצר, as Luther supposes, or as in apposition to בּארץ, in the land (in) his gates, as Bertheau assumes. The assertion of Thenius, that all the versions except the Vulgate are founded upon the reading עריו בּעחת, is incorrect. יהיה כּי is omitted after kaal-machalaah, since Solomon dropped the construction with which he commenced, and therefore briefly summed up all the prayers, addressed to God under the various chastisements here named, in the expression כּל־תּחנּה כּל־תּפלּה, which is placed absolutely at the opening of 1 Kings 8:38. וגו ידעוּן אשׁר, "when they perceive each one the stroke of his heart," i.e., not dolor animi quem quisque sentit (Vatab., C. a Lap.), but the plague regarded as a blow falling upon the heart, in other words, as a chastisement inflicted upon him by God. In all these cases may God hear his prayer, and do and give to every one according to his way. תּדע אשׁר, "as Thou knowest his heart," i.e., as is profitable for every one according to the state of his heart of his disposition. God can do this, because He knows the hearts of all men (cf. Jeremiah 17:10). The purpose assigned for all this hearing of prayer (1 Kings 8:40), viz., "that they may fear Thee," etc., is the same as in Deuteronomy 4:10.
What prayer and supplication soever be made by any man, or by all thy people Israel, which shall know every man the plague of his own heart, and spread forth his hands toward this house:
Then hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place, and forgive, and do, and give to every man according to his ways, whose heart thou knowest; (for thou, even thou only, knowest the hearts of all the children of men;)
That they may fear thee all the days that they live in the land which thou gavest unto our fathers.
Moreover concerning a stranger, that is not of thy people Israel, but cometh out of a far country for thy name's sake;The fifth prayer has reference to the hearing of the prayers of foreigners, who shall pray in the temple. Solomon assumes as certain that foreigners will come and worship before Jehovah in His temple; even Moses himself had allowed the foreigners living among the Israelites to offer sacrifice at the temple (Numbers 15:14.), and the great name and the arm of the Lord, that had manifested itself in deeds of omnipotence, had become known in the times of Moses to the surrounding nations (Exodus 15:14; Exodus 18:1; Joshua 5:1), and the report of this had reached Balaam even in Mesopotamia (see the Comm. on Numbers 22). הנּכרי אל does not mean "as for the foreigners" (Thenius), for אל is never used in this sense; but it is to be connected with תּשׁמע in 1 Kings 8:43, as אל שׁמע frequently occurs (Bertheau).
(For they shall hear of thy great name, and of thy strong hand, and of thy stretched out arm;) when he shall come and pray toward this house;1 Kings 8:42 is a parenthesis inserted in explanation of שׁמך למען: "for they will hear," etc. The strong hand and the outstretched arm are connected together as a standing expression for the wondrous manifestations of the divine omnipotence in the guidance of Israel, as in Deuteronomy 4:34; Deuteronomy 5:15, etc. With והתפּלּל וּבא the מארץ וּבא in 1 Kings 8:41 is resumed, and the main thought continued.
Hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place, and do according to all that the stranger calleth to thee for: that all people of the earth may know thy name, to fear thee, as do thy people Israel; and that they may know that this house, which I have builded, is called by thy name.The reason for the hearing of the prayers of foreigners is "that all nations may know Thy name to fear Thee," etc., as in Deuteronomy 28:10. An examination of this original passage, from which וגו על נקרא שׁמך כּי is taken and transferred to the temple, shows that the common explanations of this phrase, viz., "that this house is called after Thy name," or "that Thy name is invoked over this temple (at its dedication)," are erroneous. The name of the Lord is always used in the Scriptures to denote the working of God among His people or in His kingdom (see at 2 Samuel 6:2). The naming of this name over the nation, the temple, etc., presupposes the working of God within it, and denotes the confession and acknowledgment of that working. This is obvious from such passages as Jeremiah 14:9, where the expression "Thy name is called over us" is only a further explanation of the word "Thou art in the midst of us;" and from Isaiah 63:19, where "we are they over whom Thou hast not ruled from eternity" is equivalent to "over whom Thy name has not been called." The name of Jehovah will be named over the temple, when Jehovah manifests His gracious presence within it in such a manner, that the nations who pray towards it experience the working of the living God within His sanctuary. It is in this sense that it is stated in 2 Samuel 6:2 that the name of Jehovah is named above the ark of the covenant (see the Comm. in loc.). - There are no cases on record of the worship of foreigners in connection with Solomon's temple, though there are in connection with the temple built after the captivity (vid., Josephus, Ant. xi. 8, 5, that of Alexander the Great; xii. 2, 5ff., that of Ptolemaeus Philadelphus; and 2 Macc. 3:2, 3, that of Seleucus).
If thy people go out to battle against their enemy, whithersoever thou shalt send them, and shall pray unto the LORD toward the city which thou hast chosen, and toward the house that I have built for thy name:Finally, in 1 Kings 8:44-50 Solomon also asks, that when prayers are directed towards the temple by those who are far away both from Jerusalem and the temple, they may be heard. The sixth case, in 1 Kings 8:44, 1 Kings 8:45, is, if Israel should be engaged in war with an enemy by the appointment of God; and the seventh, in 1 Kings 8:46-50, is, if it should be carried away by enemies on account of its sins.
(Note: Bertheau (on Chron.) has already proved that there is no force in the arguments by which Thenius attempts to show, on doctrinal grounds, that 1 Kings 8:44-51 are an interpolated addition. As he correctly observes, "it is, on the contrary, quite in harmony with the original plan, that the two cases are also anticipated, in which the prayers of Israelites who are at a distance from the seat of the sanctuary are directed towards the temple, since it is perfectly appropriate that the prayers of the Israelites at the place of the sanctuary are mentioned first, then the prayers of foreigners at the same place, and lastly the prayers of Israelites, who, because they are not in Jerusalem, are obliged to content themselves with turning their faces towards the temple. We might also point to the fact that it is probably intentional that exactly seven cases are enumerated, inasmuch as in enumerations of this kind, which are not restricted by the nature of the case to any definite measure, such a number as seven easily furnishes an outward limit," - or more correctly: because seven as a sacred or covenant number was more appropriate than any other to embrace all prayers addressed to God.)
By the expression in 1 Kings 8:44, "in the way which Thou sendest them," the war is described as one undertaken by the direction of God, whether wages against an enemy who has invaded the land, or outside the land of Canaan for the chastisement of the heathen dwelling around them. "And shall pray וגו העיר דּרך:" i.e., in the direction towards the chosen city and the temple, namely, in faith in the actual presence of the covenant God in the temple. יהוה אל, "to Jehovah," instead of "to Thee," is probably introduced for the sake of greater clearness. משׁפּטם ועשׂית, and secure them justice (cf. Deuteronomy 10:18; Psalm 9:5, etc.).
Then hear thou in heaven their prayer and their supplication, and maintain their cause.
If they sin against thee, (for there is no man that sinneth not,) and thou be angry with them, and deliver them to the enemy, so that they carry them away captives unto the land of the enemy, far or near;In the seventh prayer, viz., if Israel should be given up to its enemies on account of its sins and carried away into the land of the enemy, Solomon had the threat in Leviticus 26:33, Leviticus 26:44 in his eye, though he does not confine his prayer to the exile of the whole nation foretold in that passage and in Deuteronomy 28:45., Deuteronomy 28:64, and Deuteronomy 30:1-5, but extends it to every case of transportation to an enemy's land. לבּם אל והשׁיבוּ, "and they take it to heart," compare Deuteronomy 4:39, and without the object, Deuteronomy 30:1; not "they feel remorse," as Thenius supposes, because the Hiphil cannot have this reflective signification (Bttcher). The confession of sin in 1 Kings 8:47, רשׁענוּ והעוינוּ חטאנוּ, was adopted by the Jews when in captivity as the most exhaustive expression of their deep consciousness of guilt (Daniel 9:5; Psalm 106:6). חטא, to slip, labi, depicts sin as a wandering from right; העוה, to act perversely, as a conscious perversion of justice; and רשׁע as a passionate rebellion against God (cf. Isaiah 57:20).
Yet if they shall bethink themselves in the land whither they were carried captives, and repent, and make supplication unto thee in the land of them that carried them captives, saying, We have sinned, and have done perversely, we have committed wickedness;
And so return unto thee with all their heart, and with all their soul, in the land of their enemies, which led them away captive, and pray unto thee toward their land, which thou gavest unto their fathers, the city which thou hast chosen, and the house which I have built for thy name:
Then hear thou their prayer and their supplication in heaven thy dwelling place, and maintain their cause,
And forgive thy people that have sinned against thee, and all their transgressions wherein they have transgressed against thee, and give them compassion before them who carried them captive, that they may have compassion on them:לרחמים וּנתתּם: literally, "and make (place) them for compassion before their captors, that they may have compassion upon them," i.e., cause them to meet with compassion from their enemies, who have carried them away. - In 1 Kings 8:51-53 Solomon closes with general reasons, which should secure the hearing of his prayer on the part of God. Bertheau follows the earlier commentators in admitting that these reasons refer not merely to the last petitions, but to all the preceding ones.
(Note: Seb. Schmidt has already given the following explanation: "These things which I have asked for myself and for my people do Thou, O Lord, because it is for Thy people that I have prayed, and I am their king: therefore hear Thou the prayers of Thy servant and Thy people. For in 1 Kings 8:52 he makes mention of his own case and of the cases of all the rest, in which they would call upon the Lord.)
The plea "for they are Thy people," etc. (1 Kings 8:51), is taken from Deuteronomy 4:10; and that in 1 Kings 8:53, "Thou didst separate them," etc., is taken from Leviticus 20:24, Leviticus 20:26, compared with Exodus 19:5. וגו עיניך להיות, "that Thine eyes may be opened," follows upon ושׁמעתּ ("then hear Thou") in 1 Kings 8:49; just as 1 Kings 8:29 at the commencement of the prayer follows upon וּפנית in 1 Kings 8:28. The recurrence of the same expression shows that the prayer is drawing to a close, and is rounded off by a return to the thought with which it opened. "As Thou spakest by Moses" points back to Exodus 19:5. - In 2 Chronicles 6:40-42 the conclusion of the prayer is somewhat altered, and closes with the appeal to the Lord to cause salvation and grace to go forth from the temple over His people.
For they be thy people, and thine inheritance, which thou broughtest forth out of Egypt, from the midst of the furnace of iron:
That thine eyes may be open unto the supplication of thy servant, and unto the supplication of thy people Israel, to hearken unto them in all that they call for unto thee.
For thou didst separate them from among all the people of the earth, to be thine inheritance, as thou spakest by the hand of Moses thy servant, when thou broughtest our fathers out of Egypt, O Lord GOD.
And it was so, that when Solomon had made an end of praying all this prayer and supplication unto the LORD, he arose from before the altar of the LORD, from kneeling on his knees with his hands spread up to heaven.Concluding Act of the dedication of the temple. 1 Kings 8:54-61. Blessing the congregation. - After the conclusion of the prayer, Solomon rose up from his knees and blessed all the assembled congregation. פּרוּשׂות וכפּיו is a circumstantial clause, which must be connected with the previous words and rendered thus: "from lying upon his knees with his hands spread out towards heaven." "And he stood," i.e., he came from the altar and stood nearer to the assembled congregation. The blessing begins with praise to the Lord for the fulfilment of His promises (1 Kings 8:16), and consists in the petition that the Lord will always fulfil his (Solomon's) prayers, and grant His people the promised salvation.
(Note: This blessing is omitted from the Chronicles, because it is simply a recapitulation of the longer prayer; but instead of it we have a statement, in 2 Chronicles 7:1-4, to the effect that fire fell from heaven and consumed the burnt-offering upon the altar. This statement, which even Movers regards as a traditional, i.e., a legendary addition, according to his erroneous view of the sources of the Chronicles, is confirmed by the similar miracle which occurred at the dedication of the temple. It is omitted, like so many other things in the account before us, because all that was essential in this occurrence was contained implicite in the filling of the temple with the glory of the Lord. Just as at the consecration of the Mosaic sanctuary the Lord did not merely manifest His gracious presence through the cloud which filled the tent, but also kindled the first sacrifice with fire from heaven (Leviticus 9:24), to sanctify the altar as the legitimate place of sacrifice; so also at the temple the miraculous kindling of the first sacrifice with fire from heaven was the immediate and even necessary consequence of the filling of the temple with the cloud, in which the presence of Jehovah was embodied.)
And he stood, and blessed all the congregation of Israel with a loud voice, saying,
Blessed be the LORD, that hath given rest unto his people Israel, according to all that he promised: there hath not failed one word of all his good promise, which he promised by the hand of Moses his servant.The praise of Jehovah rests, so far as the first part is concerned, upon the promise in Deuteronomy 12:9-10, and upon its fulfilment in Joshua 21:44-45 and Joshua 23:14; and the second part is founded upon Leviticus 26:3-13 and Deuteronomy 28:1-14, where the "good word, which the Lord spake by Moses," is more precisely described as the blessing which the Lord had promised to His people and had hitherto bestowed upon them. He had already given Israel rest by means of Joshua when the land of Canaan was taken; but since many parts of the land still remained in the hands of the Canaanites, this rest was only fully secured to them by David's victories over all their enemies. This glorious fulfilment warranted the hope that the Lord would also fulfil in the future what He had promised His servant David (2 Samuel 7:10), if the people themselves would only faithfully adhere to their God. Solomon therefore sums up all his wishes for the good of the kingdom in 1 Kings 8:57-61 in the words, "May Jehovah our God be with us, as He was with our fathers; may He not leave us nor forsake us, to incline our heart to Himself, that we may walk in all His ways," etc. - that the evil words predicted by Moses in Leviticus 26:14., Deuteronomy 28:15, may not fall upon us. For 1 Kings 8:57 compare Deuteronomy 31:6, Deuteronomy 31:8, and Joshua 1:5. יטּשׁנוּ אל corresponds to ירפּך אל in these passages. In the Pentateuch נטשׁ is used but once of men who forsake the Lord, viz., Deuteronomy 32:15; in other cases it is only used in the general sense of casting away, letting alone, and other similar meanings. It is first used of God, in the sense of forsaking His people, in Psalm 27:9 in connection with עזב; and it frequently occurs afterwards in Jeremiah.
The LORD our God be with us, as he was with our fathers: let him not leave us, nor forsake us:
That he may incline our hearts unto him, to walk in all his ways, and to keep his commandments, and his statutes, and his judgments, which he commanded our fathers.
And let these my words, wherewith I have made supplication before the LORD, be nigh unto the LORD our God day and night, that he maintain the cause of his servant, and the cause of his people Israel at all times, as the matter shall require:May these my words, which I have prayed (vv. 25-43), be near to Jehovah our God day and night, that He may secure the right of His servant (the king) and of His people, as every day demands. בּיומו יום דּבר, as in Exodus 5:13; Exodus 16:4. - For 1 Kings 8:60 compare 1 Kings 8:43.
That all the people of the earth may know that the LORD is God, and that there is none else.
Let your heart therefore be perfect with the LORD our God, to walk in his statutes, and to keep his commandments, as at this day.Let your heart be יי עם שׁלם, wholly, undividedly devoted to the Lord (cf. 1 Kings 11:4; 1 Kings 15:3, 1 Kings 15:14, etc.).
And the king, and all Israel with him, offered sacrifice before the LORD.Sacrifices and feast. - 1 Kings 8:62, 1 Kings 8:63. The dedicatory prayer was followed by a magnificent sacrifice offered by the king and all Israel. The thank-offering (שׁלמים זבח) consisted, in accordance with the magnitude of the manifestation of divine grace, of 22,000 oxen and 120,000 sheep. This enormous number of sacrificial animals, in which J. D. Michaelis found serious difficulties, Thenius endeavours to set aside as too large, by calculating that as these sacrifices were offered in seven days, reckoning the sacrificial day at twelve full hours, there must have been about five oxen and about twenty-five sheep slaughtered and offered in sacrifice every minute for the king alone. This calculation would be conclusive, if there were any foundation for the three assumptions upon which it rests: namely, (1) that the number of sacrifices mentioned was offered for the king alone; (2) that the slaughtering and preparation of the sacrificial animals could only be performed by the priests and Levites; and (3) that the whole of the flesh of these sacrificial animals was to be consumed upon the altar. But these three assumptions are all erroneous. There is nothing in the account about their being "for the king alone." For it is obvious that the words "and Solomon offered a sacrifice" are not to be understood as signifying that the king had these sacrifices offered for himself alone, but that the words refer to the sacrifices offered by the king and all Israel for the consecration of the temple, from the simple fact that in 1 Kings 8:62 "Solomon and all Israel" are expressly mentioned as offering sacrifice, and that after the statement of the number of the sacrifices we find these words in 1 Kings 8:63 : "so the king and all the children of Israel dedicated the house of Jehovah." Moreover it is very evident from the law in Leviticus 1 and 3 that at the offering of sacrifice the slaughtering, flaying, and preparation of the sacrificial animals were performed by any Israelite, and that it was only the sprinkling of the blood against the altar and the burning of the sacrificial portions upon the altar which were the exclusive province of the priests. In order to form a correct idea of the enormous number of sacrifices which could be slaughtered on any one day we will refer again to the notice in Josephus (Bell. Jud. vi. 9, 3) already mentioned in the Comm. on the Pentateuch, p. 683 (translation), that in the reign of the emperor Nero the procurator Cestius directed the priests to count the number of the paschal lambs, and that they counted 250,000, which were slaughtered for the passover between the ninth and eleventh hours of the day, and of which the blood was sprinkled upon the altar. If then it was possible at that time to slaughter more than 250,000 lambs in three hours of the afternoon, and to sprinkle the blood upon the altar, there can have been no difficulty in slaughtering and sacrificing 3000 oxen and 18,000 sheep at the dedication of the temple on each of the seven days of the festival. As all Israel from Hamath to the brook of Egypt came to Jerusalem to this festival, we shall not be above the mark if we estimate the number of the heads of houses present at 100,000. And with very little trouble they could have slaughtered 3000 oxen and 18,000 sheep a day and prepared them for sacrificing. How many priests took an active part in this, we do not indeed know, in fact we have no information as to the number of the priests in Solomon's time; but we know that in the time of David the number of Levites qualified for service, reckoning from their thirtieth year, was 38,000, so that we may certainly assume that there were two or three thousand priests. Now if only the half of these Levites and priests had come to Jerusalem to the dedication of the temple, they alone could have slaughtered 3000 oxen and 18,000 sheep every day. And would not a thousand priests have been sufficient to sprinkle the blood of so many animals upon the altar and to turn the fat between the morning and evening sacrifice? If we divided these sacrifices among a thousand priests, each one would only have had to attend to the sprinkling of the blood and burning of the fat of three oxen and eighteen sheep each day. - But the brazen altar of burnt-offering might not have been large enough for the burning of so many sacrifices, notwithstanding the fact that only the fat portions of the thank-offerings were consumed, and they did not require much room; since the morning and evening burnt-offerings were added daily, and as festal offerings they would certainly not consist of a lamb only, but at least of one bullock, and they were burned whole, although the altar of burnt-offering with a surface of 144 square yards (see my bibl. Archol. i. p. 127) would hold a very large quantity of sacrificial flesh at once. In v. 64, however, it is expressly stated that Solomon sanctified the middle of the court, which was before the house of Jehovah, to burn the burnt-offering and meat-offering and the fat portions of the thank-offerings there, because the brazen altar was too small to hold these sacrifices. "The middle of the court" (החצר תּוך) is the whole of the inner portion of the court of the priests, which was in front of the temple-house and formed the centre of the court surrounding the temple. Of course we have not to imagine that the sacrifices were offered upon the stone pavement of the court, but must assume that there were auxiliary altars erected in the inner court around the brazen altar. By the burnt-offering and the meat-offering (belonging to it: ואת־המּנחה את־העולה) we are not to understand certain burnt-offerings, which were offered for a definite number of thank-offerings, as Thenius supposes. The singular and the definite article are both at variance with this. The reference is rather to the (well-known) daily morning and evening burnt-offerings with their meat-offering, and in this case, no doubt, to such a festal sacrifice as is prescribed in Numbers 28 for the great yearly feasts.
And Solomon offered a sacrifice of peace offerings, which he offered unto the LORD, two and twenty thousand oxen, and an hundred and twenty thousand sheep. So the king and all the children of Israel dedicated the house of the LORD.
The same day did the king hallow the middle of the court that was before the house of the LORD: for there he offered burnt offerings, and meat offerings, and the fat of the peace offerings: because the brasen altar that was before the LORD was too little to receive the burnt offerings, and meat offerings, and the fat of the peace offerings.
And at that time Solomon held a feast, and all Israel with him, a great congregation, from the entering in of Hamath unto the river of Egypt, before the LORD our God, seven days and seven days, even fourteen days.Thus Solomon held the feast at that time, and all Israel with him, a great assembly from the neighbourhood of Hamath to the brook of Egypt, i.e., from the whole land in its fullest extent from north to south. "The district of Hamath," i.e., Epiphania on the Orontes, is mentioned as the northern boundary (cf. Numbers 34:8; Numbers 13:21; Joshua 13:5, etc.); and "the brook of Egypt" (מצרים נחל), Rhinocorura, as the southern boundary (cf. Numbers 34:8; Joshua 15:4). "The feast" (החג), which Solomon held with the people "seven days and seven days, fourteen days," is not the feast of the dedication, but, as in 1 Kings 8:2, the feast of tabernacles, which fell in the seventh month; and the meaning of the verse is, that on that occasion the feast of the seventh month was kept for fourteen days, namely, seven days as the feast of the dedication, and seven days as the feast of tabernacles. We are obliged to take the words in this way, partly on account of the evident reference to בּחג (at the feast) in 1 Kings 8:2 in the expression את־החג (the feast) in this verse, and partly on account of the statement which follows in 1 Kings 8:66, "and on the eighth day he sent the people away." The "eight day" is not the first day of the feast of tabernacles (Thenius); but the eighth day, as the conclusion of the feast of tabernacles, עצרת (Leviticus 23:36). The correctness of this view is placed beyond all doubt by the context in the Chronicles, which states more clearly that, "Solomon kept the feast seven days, and all Israel with him ... and they kept עצרת (the closing feast) on the eight day; for they kept the dedication of the altar seven days and the feast seven days; and on the twenty-third day of the seventh month he sent the people away." The feast of tabernacles lasted seven days, from the 15th to the 21st, with a closing festival on the eighth day, i.e., the 22nd of the month (Leviticus 23:33-39). This festival was preceded by the dedication of the temple from the 8th to the 14th of the month. The statement in 1 Kings 8:66, "on the eighth day he sent the people away," if we take the words in their strict sense, is at variance with the statement in the Chronicles, "on the 23rd day," since the eighth day of the feast of tabernacles was the 22nd day of the month; but it may easily be accounted for from want of precision in a well-known matter. Solomon sent the people away on the eighth day, i.e., on the afternoon or evening of the atzereth of the feast of tabernacles, so that on the morning of the next day, i.e., on the 23rd of the month, the people took their journey home, "joyful and glad of heart for all the goodness that the Lord had shown to His servant David and to the people." David is mentioned, because the completion of the building of the temple was the fulfilment of the divine promise given to him. "Tents," for houses, as in 2 Samuel 10:1; Judges 7:8, and other passages.
On the eighth day he sent the people away: and they blessed the king, and went unto their tents joyful and glad of heart for all the goodness that the LORD had done for David his servant, and for Israel his people.