1 Kings 5:17
And the king commanded, and they brought great stones, costly stones, and hewed stones, to lay the foundation of the house.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(17) Great stones.—The stones, so emphatically described as “great stones, costly stones, and hewed stones,” were necessary, not so much for “the foundation” of the Temple itself, which was small, but for the substructure of the area, formed into a square on the irregular summit of Mount Moriah. In this substructure vast stones are still to be seen, and are referred by many authorities to the age of Solomon. The labour of transport must have been enormous, especially as all were worked beforehand. (See 1Kings 6:7.)

1 Kings 5:17. Costly stones — Marble and porphyry, or other stones of great size and value. To lay the foundation of the house — Where they could not afterward be seen; and therefore that this was done, is mentioned only as a point of magnificence, except it was intended for a type or mystical signification of the preciousness of Christ, who is the foundation of the true temple, and the church of God. “It should seem,” says Henry, “that Solomon was himself present at the founding of the temple, and that the first stone, as has been usual in famous buildings, was laid with great solemnity. Solomon commanded, and they brought costly stones — For a foundation; though, being out of sight, worse might have served. Christ, who is laid for a foundation, is an elect and precious stone, (Isaiah 28.,) and the foundations of the church are said to be laid with sapphires, Isaiah 54:11. and Revelation 21:19. Sincerity obligeth us to lay our foundation firm, and to bestow most pains on that part of our religion which lies out of the sight, of men.”5:10-18 The temple was chiefly built by the riches and labour of Gentiles, which typified their being called into the church. Solomon commanded, and they brought costly stones for the foundation. Christ, who is laid for a Foundation, is a chosen and precious Stone. We should lay our foundation firm, and bestow most pains on that part of our religion which lies out of the sight of men. And happy those who, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, for a habitation of God through the Spirit. Who among us will build in the house of the Lord?Some of these "great, hewed (no and) stones," are probably still to be seen in the place where they were set by Solomon's builders, at the southwestern angle of the wall of the Haram area in the modern Jerusalem. The largest found so far is 38 ft. 9 in. long, and weighs about 100 tons. 17. brought great stones—The stone of Lebanon is "hard, calcareous, whitish and sonorous, like free stone" [Shaw]. The same white and beautiful stone can be obtained in every part of Syria and Palestine.

hewed stones—or neatly polished, as the Hebrew word signifies (Ex 20:25). Both Jewish and Tyrian builders were employed in hewing these great stones.

Costly stones; marble and porphyry, or other stones of great size and value.

To lay the foundation of the house; where they could not afterward be seen; and therefore that this was done, is mentioned only as a point of magnificence, except it was intended for a type or mystical signification of the preciousness of Christ, who is the foundation of the true temple, the church of God, as he is called, Isaiah 28:16 1 Corinthians 3:11. And the king commanded, and they brought great stones,.... Not in quality, but in quantity, large stones, fit to lay in the foundation; strong, and durable against all the injuries of time, as Josephus says (i):

costly stones; not what are commonly called precious stones, as gems, pearls, &c. but stones of value, as marble, porphyry, &c.

and hewed stones; not rough as they were taken out of the quarry, but hewed, and made smooth:

to lay the foundation of the house; which, though out of sight, was to be laid with goodly stones for the magnificence of the building; so the church of Christ, its foundation is said to be laid even with sapphires and other precious stones, see Isaiah 54:11.

(i) Antiqu. l. 8. c. 3. sect. 2.

And the king commanded, and they brought great stones, costly stones, and hewed stones, to lay the foundation of the house.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
17. they brought] The verb is used most frequently of pulling up tent pegs when removing a tent. And it is hardly found with the mere sense of ‘bringing’ or ‘bearing.’ Therefore in this passage and in Ecclesiastes 10:9, the R.V. has given it (with the authority of the Targum) the meaning ‘to hew out.’ In the latter passage this rendering is certainly more appropriate and in harmony with the parallel clause, ‘Whoso heweth out stones shall be hurt therewith, and he that cleaveth wood is endangered thereby.’ Here too, the sense ‘they hewed out great stones’ fits the passage extremely well.

costly stones] The adjective is not unfrequently used of gems which are of great price; as, of the precious stones in the crown of the Ammonite king (2 Samuel 13:30). But in the present case the costly nature was due to the care and pains which had been taken in selecting and working these foundation stones. This seems to be the sense in such passages as Isaiah 28:16, where the worth consists in the stability and tried nature of the stone spoken of.

and hewed stones] As will be seen from the A. V. there is no conjunction expressed in the original. The rendering however which is given leads the reader to suppose that there stands another adjective in the Hebrew like those rendered ‘great’ and ‘costly.’ This is not so, and moreover the order of the words makes it clear that the words rendered ‘hewed stones’ should follow ‘to lay the foundation of the house.’ Hence the R.V. has to lay the foundation of the house with wrought stone.Verse 17. - And the king commanded and they brought [or cut out, quarried (Gesen.), as in Ecclesiastes 10:9; see also ch. 6:7 (Heb.) ] great stones, costly [precious, not heavy, as Thenius. Cf. Psalm 36:8; Psalm 45:9; Esther 1:4 in the Heb.], stones and [omit and. The hewed stones were the great and costly stones] hewed stones [or squared (Isaiah 9:10; cf. 1 Kings 6:36; 1 Kings 7:9; 1 Kings 11:12). We learn from 1 Kings 7:10 that the stones of the foundation of the palace were squared to 8 cubits and 10 cubits] to lay the foundation of the house. [Some of these great squared stones, we can hardly doubt, are found in situ at the present day. The stones at the south-east angle of the walls of the Haram (Mosque of Omar) are "unquestionably of Jewish masonry" (Porter, Handbook, p. 115). "One is 23 2:9 in. long; whilst others vary from 17 to 20 feet in length. Five courses of them are nearly entire" (ib.) As Herod, in rebuilding the edifice, would seem to have had nothing to do with the foundations, we may safely connect these huge blocks with the time of Solomon. It is also probable that some at least of the square pillars, ranged in fifteen rows, and measuring five feet each side, which form the foundations of the Mosque El Aksa, and the supports of the area of the Haram, are of the same date and origin (cf. Ewald, Hist. Israel, 3:233). Porter holds that they are "coeval with the oldest part of the external walls." Many of them, the writer observed, were monoliths. The extensive vaults which they enclose are unquestionably "the subterranean vaults of the temple area" mentioned by Josephus (B.J. 5:3. 1), and the "cavati sub terra montes" of Tacitus. It may be added here that the recent explorations in Jerusalem have brought to light many evidences of Phoenician handiwork.] Hiram then sent to Solomon, and promised in writing (בּכתב, 2 Chronicles 2:10) to comply with his wishes. אלי שׁלחתּ אשׁר את, "that which thou hast sent to me," i.e., hast asked of me by messenger. ברושׁים are not firs, but cypresses. "My servants shall bring down (the trees) from Lebanon to the sea, and I will make them into rafts (i.e., bind them into rafts and have them floated) upon the sea to the place which thou shalt send (word) to me, and will take them (the rafts) to pieces there, and thou wilt take (i.e., fetch them thence)." The Chronicles give Yafo, i.e., Joppa, Jaffa, the nearest harbour to Jerusalem on the Mediterranean Sea, as the landing-place (see at Joshua 19:46). "And thou wilt do all my desire to give bread for my house," i.e., provisions to supply the wants of the king's court. "The שׂכר mentioned in 1 Kings 5:6 was also to be paid" (Thenius). This is quite correct; but Thenius is wrong when he proceeds still further to assert, that the chronicler erroneously supposed this to refer to the servants of Hiram who were employed in working the wood. There is not a word of this kind in the Chronicles; but simply Solomon's promise to Hiram (1 Kings 5:9): "with regard to the hewers (the fellers of the trees), I give thy servants wheat 20,000 cors, and barley 20,000 cors, and wine 20,000 baths, and oil 20,000 baths." This is omitted in our account, in which the wages promised in 1 Kings 5:6 to the Sidonian fellers of wood are not more minutely defined. On the other hand, the payment for the wood delivered by Solomon to Hiram, which is not mentioned in the Chronicles, is stated here in 1 Kings 5:11. "Solomon gave Hiram 20,000 cors of wheat as food (מכּלת, a contraction of מאכלת, from אכל; cf. Ewald, 79, b.) for his house (the maintenance of his royal court), and 20 cors of beaten oil; this gave Solomon to Hiram year by year," probably as long as the delivery of the wood or the erection of Solomon's buildings lasted. These two accounts are so clear, that Jac. Capp., Gramt., Mov., Thenius, and Bertheau, who have been led by critical prejudices to confound them with one another, and therefore to attempt to emend the one from the other, are left quite alone. For the circumstance that the quantity of wheat, which Solomon supplied to Hiram for his court, was just the same as that which he gave to the Sidonian workmen, does not warrant our identifying the two accounts. The fellers of the trees also received barley, wine, and oil in considerable quantities; whereas the only other thing which Hiram received for his court was oil, and that not common oil, but the finest olive oil, namely 20 cors of כּתית שׁמן, i.e., beaten oil, the finest kind of oil, which was obtained from the olives when not quite ripe by pounding them in mortars, and which had not only a whiter colour, but also a purer flavour than the common oil obtained by pressing from the ripe olives (cf. Celsii Hierobot. ii. pp. 349f., and Bhr, Symbolik, i. p. 419). Twenty cors were 200 baths, i.e., according to the calculations of Thenius, about ten casks (1 cask equals 6 pails; 1 pail equals 72 cans). If we bear in mind that this was the finest kind of oil, we cannot speak of disproportion to the quantity of wheat delivered. Thenius reckons that 20,000 cors of wheat were about 38,250 Dresden scheffeln (? sacks).
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