1 Kings 6:1
And it came to pass in the four hundred and eightieth year after the children of Israel were come out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon's reign over Israel, in the month Zif, which is the second month, that he began to build the house of the LORD.
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(1) In the fourth year.—This date, given with marked precision, forms a most important epoch in the history of Israel, on which, indeed, much of the received chronology is based. In the LXX., 440 is read for 480, possibly by an interchange of two similar Hebrew letters, or, perhaps, by reckoning from the completion of Exodus at the death of Moses instead of its beginning. The Vulgate agrees with the Hebrew text. Josephus, on the other hand, without any hint of any other reckoning in the Scriptural record, gives 592 years. The date itself, involving some apparent chronological difficulties, has been supposed to be an interpolation; but without any sufficient ground, except Josephus’s seeming ignorance of its existence, and some early quotations of the passage by Origen and others without it; and in neglect of the important fact that, disagreeing prima fâcie with earlier chronological indications in Scripture, it is infinitely unlikely to have been thus interpolated by any mere scribe.

These indications are, however, vague. The period includes the conquest and rule of Joshua, the era of the Judges down to Samuel, the reigns of Saul and David, and the three years of Solomon’s reign already elapsed. Now, of these divisions, only the last three can be ascertained with any definiteness, at about 83 years. The time occupied by the conquest and rule of Joshua, cannot be gathered with any certainty from Scripture. The same is the case with the duration of some of the subsequent Judgeships. Even the numerous chronological notices given in the Book of Judges are inconclusive. We cannot tell whether they are literally accurate, or, as the recurrence of round numbers may seem to suggest, indefinite expressions for long periods; nor can we determine how far the various Judgeships were contemporaneous or successive. The tradition followed by St. Paul (Acts 13:19-21), assigning to the whole a period of 450 years, agrees generally with the latter idea. The genealogies given (as, for example, of David, in Ruth 4:18-22; 1Chronicles 2:3-15, and elsewhere) agree with the former. Hence, these vague chronological statistics cannot constitute a sufficient ground for setting aside a date so formally and unhesitatingly given at an important epoch of the history, corresponding to the equally formal determination of the date of the Exodus in Exodus 12:40-41. The omission of the date in quotations, again, proves little. The different date given by Josephus, without any notice of that which we now have, presents the only real difficulty. But it is possible that he may have been inclined tacitly to harmonise his chronology with some other reckoning known in his time among the heathen; and in any case it is doubtful whether his authority can outweigh that of our present text and the ancient versions. On the whole, therefore, the grounds assigned for rejection of the chronological notice of this verse, are insufficient.

1 Kings 6:1. In the four hundred and eightieth year — Allowing forty years to Moses, seventeen to Joshua, two hundred and ninety-nine to the Judges, forty to Eli, forty to Samuel and Saul, forty to David, and four to Solomon before he began the work, we have just the sum of four hundred and eighty. So long it was before that holy house was built, which in less than four hundred and thirty years was burned by Nebuchadnezzar. It was thus deferred, because Israel had, by their sins, made themselves unworthy of this honour: and because God would show how little he values external pomp and splendour in his service. And God ordered it now, chiefly to be a shadow of good things to come. In the fourth year of Solomon’s reign — Solomon was occupied more than three years in making the necessary preparations; for although, his father had amassed much treasure, had left him a plan, and provided many things necessary for the undertaking, yet as these materials, it appears, lay at a considerable distance, and were left rude and unfashioned, it could not cost less time to form them into the exact symmetry in which the Scripture represents them to have been before they were used, and to bring them together to Jerusalem. In the month Zif — The second of the ecclesiastical year. The word signifying splendour, beauty, comeliness, it was a very proper name for that month when the trees and the whole vegetable creation first break forth, and the beauty of the spring begins to appear. He began to build the house of the Lord — Either to lay the foundation of it, or to build on the foundation before mentioned.

6:1-10 The temple is called the house of the Lord, because it was directed and modelled by him, and was to be employed in his service. This gave it the beauty of holiness, that it was the house of the Lord, which was far beyond all other beauties. It was to be the temple of the God of peace, therefore no iron tool must be heard; quietness and silence suit and help religious exercises. God's work should be done with much care and little noise. Clamour and violence often hinder, but never further the work of God. Thus the kingdom of God in the heart of man grows up in silence, Mr 5:27.In the four hundred and eightieth year - It is upon this statement that all the earlier portion of what is called the "received chronology" depends. Amid Minor differences there is a general agreement, which justifies us in placing the accession of Solomon about 1000 B.C. (1018 B.C. Oppert.) But great difficulties meet us in determining the sacred chronology anterior to this. Apart from the present statement, the chronological data of the Old Testament are insufficient to fix the interval between Solomon's accession and the Exodus, since several of the periods which make it up are unestimated. Hence, chronologists have based entirely the "received chronology" upon this verse. But the text itself is not free from suspicion.

(1) it is the sole passage in the Old Testament which contains the idea of dating events from an era.

(2) it is quoted by Origen without the date, and seems to have been known only in this shape to Josephus, to Theophilus of Antioch, and to Clement of Alexandria.

(3) it is hard to reconcile with other chronological statements in the Old and New Testament.

Though the books of Joshua, Judges, and Samuel furnish us with no exact chronology, they still supply important chronological data - data which seem to indicate for the interval between the Exodus and Solomon, a period considerably exceeding 480 years. For the years actually set down amount to at least 580, or, according to another computation, to 600; and though a certain deduction might be made from this sum on account of the round numbers, this deduction would scarcely do more than balance the addition required on account of the four unestimated periods. Again, in the New Testament, Paul (according to the received text) reckons the period from the division of Canaan among the tribes in the sixth year of Joshua Jos 14:1-15, to Samuel the prophet, at 450 years, which would make the interval between the Exodus and the commencement of the temple to be 579 years. On the whole, it seems, therefore, probable that the words "in the four hundred and eightieth year, etc.," are an interpolation into the sacred text, which did not prevail generally before the third century of our era.


1Ki 6:1-4. The Building of Solomon's Temple.The building of the temple, and the time thereof; the form and largeness, windows, chambers, and materials, 1 Kings 6:1-10. God’s promise unto it, 1 Kings 6:11-13. The ceiling and adorning it, 1 Kings 6:14,15. The oracle, 1 Kings 6:16-22. The cherubims, and divers ornaments, 1 Kings 6:23-30. The doors, 1 Kings 6:31-35. The inner court, 1 Kings 6:36. The time in building, 1 Kings 1:37,38.

This chronological difficulty is too vast and comprehensive to be fully discussed here, or to be determined by unlearned readers; and for the learned, I refer them to what is largely digested in my Latin Synopsis upon this place. It may suffice at present to suggest these particulars:

1. That Israel’s coming out of Egypt is variously understood in Scripture, and with some latitude, so as not only to note the time when first they came out of Egypt, but the time of their being in or coming out of the wilderness; as is manifest from Deu 4:45, where the words in the Hebrew are not after, &c., as we translate it, but in their coming forth out of Egypt; and Psalm 94:1-3, When Israel came forth &c., Heb. their coming forth &c. And it is not impossible it may be so understood here, after they were come out&c., to wit, completely, i.e. towards the end of their expedition out of Egypt into Canaan. Nor doth the difference between the Hebrew prepositions lamed and beth, which a learned man objects, hinder this sense; for as beth signifies (as he saith) after, so also doth lamed, Genesis 7:4,10 Num 33:38.

2. That whereas the times of the judges do chiefly cause this difficulty, there are many things which will relieve us therein; as,

1. That divers of the years there mentioned belong to one and the same time, as is evident from Jair’s twenty-two years, within which fell out, as divers learned chronologers agree, the eighteen years of the oppression of the Ammonites, and several years of the Philistine tyranny, who oppressed Israel in the west, whilst the Ammonites vexed them in the east; and the like might be observed in other cases.

2. That the years of rest are not necessarily to be understood of so many distinct years, besides those of war and servitude; and those words which are generally rendered the land had rest forty or eighty years, or the like, may be thus rendered, and that very agreeable to the Hebrew, The land had rest, or began to rest, or recovered its rest, in the fortieth or in the eightieth (the cardinal numbers being frequently put for the ordinal, especially where the number exceeds ten) year, to be computed from some remarkable time; and so that phrase doth not note how long time, or till what time, the rest continued, but at what time it began. As for instance, in Judges 3:11, the land had rest, not forty years, as it is in our translation, but in the fortieth year, to wit, from and after their first rest in, or quiet possession of, the land of Canaan, which Joshua gave them; which time may very probably be made up of the days of Joshua, after he had settled them in a state of rest; and of the elders that outlived him, Judges 2:7, and the time of their corruption after the death of those elders; and the eight years of servitude under the king of Mesopotamia. So Judges 3:30, The land had rest in the eightieth year, to wit, from and after that rest which Othniel obtained for them, Judges 3:11. And Judges 5:31, It rested in the fortieth year, to wit, after that rest got by Ehud, Judges 3:30. And Judges 8:28, It rested in the fortieth year, to wit, from the last rest got by Deborah. And thus the computation of years is more plain and certain, being thus made from rest to rest, than theirs that proceed the other way. And this is the more considerable, because it was the opinion of that fatuously learned and pious bishop of Armagh. All which considered, it will be very easy to contain all the parts and passages of sacred story, from the coming out of Egypt to this time, within the compass of four hundred and eighty years; of the several parcels whereof, see my Latin Synopsis. And as for other scriptures, which some conceit to be contradictory to this, I shall by God’s help vindicate them in their several places.

In the fourth year of Solomon’s reign; his three first years being spent partly in settling the affairs of his kingdom, without which neither civil nor ecclesiastical concerns could have any consistency; and partly in making necessary preparations for the work. He began to build; for so it is expressed 2 Chronicles 3:1; and so it is explained here below, 1 Kings 6:37, The foundation of the house was laid; though in the Hebrew it be only be built. Thus active words are oft understood of the beginning of the action, as Genesis 5:32 11:26.

And it came to pass in the four hundred and eightieth year after the children of Israel were come out of the land of Egypt,.... The Tyrian writers (k) make it five hundred sixty years from hence; but this no doubt is tightest, which Junius reckons thus; forty years Israel were in the wilderness, seventeen under Joshua, two hundred ninety nine under the judges, eighty under Eli, Samuel, and Saul, forty under David, add to which the four years of Solomon, and they make four hundred eighty (l); they are somewhat differently reckoned by others (m) from the coming out of Egypt to Joshua forty years, from thence to the first servitude under Cushan twenty five, from thence to the death of Abimelech two hundred fifty six, under Thola twenty three, from thence to the Ammonitish servitude four, under that eighteen, under the judges, Jephthah, Ibzan, Elon, and Abdon, thirty one, Samuel and Saul forty, David forty, and Solomon three, in all four hundred eighty;

in the, fourth year of Solomon's reign over Israel; when he was clear of all disturbers of his government, and had got all things ready for the building of the temple, and had gathered together gold and silver enough of his own to defray the expenses; for, as for what David gave him, he put that into the treasury of the Lord's house, see 1 Kings 7:51;

in the month Zif, which is the second month; and so must be Jiar, for Abib or Nisan was the first, and Jiar was the second, which answered to part of our April and part of May; called Zif either from the splendour of the sun, being now higher, and so the greater; or from the trees and flowers of the field being in all their glory; and so the Targum here calls it, the month of splendour of flowers: and it was on the second day of it,

that he began to build the house of the Lord: and a very fit and proper season of the year it was to begin it in, see 2 Chronicles 3:2.

(k) Apud Theophil. ad Autolyc. l. 3. p. 131. (l) So Gerard. Voss. Chron. Sacr. Isagoge, dissert. 8. c. 7. p. 128. (m) Vid. Vitring. Hypotypos. Hist. Sacr. p. 43.

And it came to pass in the four hundred and eightieth year after the children of Israel were come out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon's reign over Israel, in the month {a} Zif, which is the second month, that he began to build the {b} house of the LORD.

(a) Which contains part of April and part of May.

(b) By which is meant the temple and the oracle.

Ch. 1 Kings 6:1-10. Commencement and dimensions of Solomon’s Temple (2 Chronicles 3:1-2)

1. in the four hundred and eightieth year, &c.] It is impossible to discover how this date is arrived at, or to make it fit in with other statements of the Old and New Testament. The LXX. has ‘the four hundred and fortieth year’, and Josephus ‘the five hundred and ninety second.’ If we put together the numbers which we find in the Old Testament record, we have 40 years between the Exodus and the death of Moses, 40 years peace after Othniel, 80 after Ehud; Jabin’s oppression lasted 20 years, there were 40 years of peace after Barak, 40 in Gideon’s time: Tola judged the land 23 years, Jair 22, Jephthah 6, Ibzan 7, Elon 10, Abdon 8: the servitude to the Philistines lasted 40 years, and Samson judged 20 years. After this we have as dates Eli 40 years, Samuel 20 (1 Samuel 7:2) at least, David 40, Solomon 4. These make a total of 498. But we cannot be sure that some of these judgeships were not contemporary with or overlapping one another, while there is no time specified for the duration of Joshua’s leadership, and for the events between his death and the judgeship of Othniel, nor yet again for the reign of Saul. So that it is utterly hopeless to settle any chronology under such circumstances. Moreover the frequent occurrence of the round number 40 gives the impression that no attempt has been made to fix accurate dates for any of the periods mentioned. Then in Jdg 11:26 we read that from the conquest of Gilead down to the time of Jephthah was 300 years. Taking the other dates in sequence this would make the period in the text consist of 529 years without counting the length of Saul’s reign. Once more (Acts 13:20) according to the Text. Rec. there elapsed, between the partition of the land under Joshua and the days of Samuel, a period of 450 years. Adding to this the other numbers and 40 years for the reign of Saul, according to the chronology which St Paul used, we reach a total of 554. But we have no data whereby to confirm or contradict any of these totals.

It is most likely that the 440 years of the LXX. was arrived at by adding together the years assigned to the several judges and omitting the other events, the oppression of Jabin, and of the Philistines. This makes a total 206 years, which with 40 years for the sojourn in the desert, and 104 between Eli and the 4th year of Solomon brings the total to 440.

Origen on John 2:20 quotes from this verse and omits the words which refer to the time between the Exodus and the building of the Temple. Yet as these words are represented in the LXX. but would have given no point to Origen’s comment, it appears more probable that he omitted them on purpose, than that, since his day, these words have been added to the Massoretic text.

in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign] This accounts for the mention in the LXX., at the end of the last chapter, that they spent three years in preparing the stone and timber.

in the month Zif] This name for the month is found only here and in 1 Kings 6:37 below. So that it appears not to have been the usual one. The word means ‘brightness’, ‘splendour’, and the Targum explains it of ‘the bloom of flowers’ at the time. It is said to have been between the new moon of May and that of June, though some place it a month earlier. A later name, Iyar, for the second month is found in the Targum on 2 Chronicles 30:2, and Josephus (Ant. viii. 3. 1) gives it as Ἰάρ here.

he began to build] This is a translation required by the sense. The Hebrew says simply ‘he built.’ In 2 Chronicles 3:1, the Hebrew is expressly ‘he began to build.’ Hence the rendering here.

Verse 1. - And it came to pass in the four hundred and eightieth year after the children of Israel were come out of the land of Egypt [This date has been the subject of much controversy, which cannot even now be considered (pace Keil: "The correctness of the number 480 is now pretty generally admitted") as closed. Grave doubts are entertained as to its genuineness. Lord A. Hervey (Dict. Bib. vol. 2. p. 22) says it is "manifestly erroneous." Rawlinson considers it to be "an interpolation into the sacred text" (p. 515). And it is to he observed,

1. that the LXX. reads 440 instead of 480 years - a discrepancy which is suspicious, and argues some amount of incertitude.

2. Origen quotes this verse without these words (Comm. in S. Johann 2:20).

3. They would seem to have been unknown to Josephus, Clem. Alex., and others.

4. It is not the manner of Old Testament writers thus to date events from an era, an idea which appears to have first occurred to the Greeks temp. Thucydides (Rawlinson). It is admitted that we have no other instance in the Old Testament where this is done.

5. It is difficult to reconcile this statement with other chronological notices both of the Old and New Testaments. For taking the numbers which we find in the Hebrew text of the books which refer to this period, they sum up to considerably more than 480 years. The time of the Judges alone comprises 410 years at the least. It should be stated, however, with regard to the chronology of the period last mentioned

(1) that it only pretends to furnish round numbers - 20, 40, and the like - and evidently does not aim at exactitude;

(2) that there is good ground for suspecting that the periods are not always consecutive; that in some cases, i.e., they overlap. We are not justified, therefore, because of the dates of the Judges in rejecting this statement. The question of New Testament chronology is somewhat more complicated. In Acts 13:20, St. Paul states the period between the division of Canaan, by Joshua (Joshua 14:1, 2), and the time of Samuel the prophet as 450 years (καί μετὰ ταῦτα ω}ς ἔτεσι τετρακοσίοις καὶ πεντήκοντα ἔδωκεν κριτὰς κ.τ.λ.) But Lachmann, on the authority of A, B, C (and we may add א), considers the received text to be corrupt, and would place καὶ μετὰ ταῦτα after πεντήκοντα. Alford, however, treats this reading as "an attempt at correcting the difficult chronology of the verse," and says that "all attempts to reconcile" it with 1 Kings 6:1 "are arbitrary and forced." If, then, the received text is to stand - and it is to be noticed that the reigns of the Judges, including Samuel, sum up exactly to the period mentioned by St. Paul, 450 years - the interval between the Exodus and the erection of the temple cannot well have been less than 99 or 100 years longer, i.e., 580 - Josephus makes it 592 - instead of 480 years.

6. The chronology of Josephus - to which by itself, perhaps, no great weight is to be attached, agrees with St. Paul's estimate, and of course contradicts that of the text.

7. Nor does it seem to be a valid argument for the retention of the suspected words, that "the precision of the statement is a voucher for its accuracy." (Bahr, who adds, "Not only is the whole number of the years given, but also the year of the reign of the king, and even the month itself," for the genuineness of the later date, "In the fourth year," etc., is not questioned.) The remark of Keil that the building of the temple marked a new and important epoch in the history of the chosen people, and so justified an exceptional reference to the birth or emancipation of the nation, though undoubtedly true, will hardly avail much against the considerations alleged above. On the whole, therefore, I confess to the belief that these words are the interpolation of a later hand (of which we shall find traces elsewhere), though it would, perhaps, be premature, with only the evidence now before us, to exclude them from the text. It is certainly noteworthy that such destructive critics as Ewald and Thenius are satisfied as to their genuineness], in the fourth year of Solomon's reign over Israel [according to the chronology of Ussher, this was A.M. 3000], in the month Zif [i.e., May. The word signifies splendour. The month was probably so called because of the brilliancy of its flowers (Gesen., Keil, al.)], which is the second month [This explanation is added because before the captivity the months (with the exception of Abib) appear to have had no regular names, but were almost always designated by numbers. (See, e.g., Genesis 7:11; 2 Kings 25:1). Only four pre-captivity names are recorded, and of these three are mentioned in connexion with the building of the temple, viz., Zif here and in ver. 37, Bul in ver. 38, and Ethanim in 1 Kings 8:2. It has hence been inferred that these names were not in general use, but were restricted to public documents, etc. (Dict. Bib. if. 416), a supposition which, if correct, would account for the facility with which the old appellations were superseded by post-captivity names. The later name for this month was Iyar (Targum on 2 Chronicles 30:2)], that he began [not in Heb.] to build the house of [Heb. to] the Lord. [The chronicler mentions the site (2 Chronicles 3:1), "In Mount Moriah ....in the threshing floor of Ornan," etc. We know from the extensive foundations yet remaining that the preparation of the platform on which the temple should stand must have been a work of considerable time and labour, and see Jos., Ant. 8:03.9, and Bell. Jud. 5:05.1. We can hardly be wrong in identifying the remarkable rock known as the Sakrah, over which the mosque of Omar (Kubbet-es-Sakrah) is built - the "pierced rock" of the Jerusalem Itinerary - with the threshing floor of Ornan. The reader will find an interesting paper on the site of the temple in "Scribner's Monthly," vol. 11. pp. 257-272. According to Mr. Beswick, whose measurements and conclusions it gives, the porch stood on the Sakrah. Mr. Conder, however, urges strong reasons ("Tent Work," pp. 187-9) for placing the Holy of Holies on the rock. We should then "see the Holy House in its natural and traditional position on the top of the mountain; we see the courts descending on either side, according to the present slopes of the hill; we find the great rock galleries dropping naturally into their right places; and finally, we see the temple, by the immutability of Oriental custom, still a temple, and the site of the great altar still consecrated [?] by the beautiful little chapel of the chain." But see Porteri. p. 125; Pal. Explor. p. 4, also pp. 342, 343; "Our Work in Palestine," chs. 8. and 9; "Recovery of Jerusalem," ch. 12., etc. Quot viatores, tot sententiae.] 1 Kings 6:1The Outside of the Building. - 1 Kings 6:1. The building of the temple, a fixed and splendid house of Jehovah as the dwelling-place of His name in the midst of His people, formed an important epoch so far as the Old Testament kingdom of God was concerned, inasmuch as, according to the declaration of God made through the prophet Nathan, an end would thereby be put to the provisional condition of the people of Israel in the land of Canaan, since the temple was to become a substantial pledge of the permanent possession of the inheritance promised by the Lord. The importance of this epoch is indicated by the fact, that the time when the temple was built is defined not merely in relation to the year of Solomon's reign, but also in relation to the exodus of the Israelites out of Egypt. "In the 480th year after the exodus of the sons of Israel out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon's reign, in the second month of the year, Solomon built the house of the Lord." The correctness of the number 480, as contrasted with the 440th year of the lxx and the different statements made by Josephus, is now pretty generally admitted; and we have already proved at Judges 3:7 that it agrees with the duration of the period of the Judges when rightly estimated.

(Note: In opposition to the hypothesis of Bttcher, which has been repeated by Bertheau, viz., that the number 480 merely rests upon the computation of 12 x 40 years, or twelve generations of forty years each, Thenius himself has observed with perfect justice, that "where both the year and the month of the reign of the king in question are given, the principal number will certainly rest upon something more than mere computation; and if this had not been the case, the person making such a computation, if only for the purpose of obtaining the appearance of an exact statement, would have made a particular calculation of the years of Solomon's reign, and would have added them to the round number obtained, and written 'in the year 484.' Moreover, the introduction to our chapter has something annalistic in its tone; and at this early period it would be undoubtedly well known, and in a case like the present a careful calculation would be made, how long a time had elapsed since the most memorable period of the Israelitish nation had passed by." Compare with this Ed. Preuss (Die Zeitrechnung der lxx, p. 74ff.), who has endeavoured with much greater probability to show that the alteration made by the lxx into 440 rests upon nothing more than a genealogical combination.)

The name of the month Ziv, brilliancy, splendour, probably so called from the splendour of the flowers, is explained by the clause, "that is, the second month," because the months had no fixed names before the captivity, and received different names after the captivity. The second month was called Jyar after the captivity. - The place where the temple was built is not given in our account, as having been sufficiently well known; though it is given in the parallel text, 2 Chronicles 3:1, namely, "Mount Moriah, where the Lord had appeared to David" at the time of the pestilence, and where David had built an altar of burnt-offering by divine command (see at 2 Samuel 24:25).

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