1 Kings 6:7
And the house, when it was in building, was built of stone made ready before it was brought thither: so that there was neither hammer nor axe nor any tool of iron heard in the house, while it was in building.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(7) Neither hammer nor ax . . . heard.—This striking provision, involving much labour, and requiring no little skill, was one of reverence. It may have been suggested by the prohibition (see Exodus 20:25; Deuteronomy 27:5) of the use of tools on the altar of the Lord. But the idea implied in this prohibition was rather different—viz., the use for the altar of stones in their simple, matural condition, without “pollution” by the art of man. It has been chronicled in Heber’s well-known lines:—

“No workmen’s steel, no ponderous axes rung;

Like some tall palm the noiseless fabric sprung.”

1 Kings

BUILDING IN SILENCE

1 Kings 6:7
.

The Temple was built in silence. It ‘rose like an exhalation.’

‘No hammer fell, no ponderous axes rung, Like some tall palm the mystic fabric sprung.’

Perhaps it was merely for convenience of transport and to save time that the stones were dressed in the quarries, but more probably the silence was due to an instinct of reverence. We may fairly use it as suggesting two thoughts.

I. How God’s house is mostly built in silence. ‘The Kingdom of God cometh not with observation.’

{1} In reference to its advance in the world. Destructive work is noisy, constructive work is silent. God was in ‘the still small voice,’ not in the wind or the earthquake or the fire. Christ’s own career, how silent it was! Drums are loud and empty. The spread of the kingdom was unnoticed by the world’s great ones-Caesars, philosophers, patricians, and it silently grew underground. Hence may flow-

{a} An encouragement to those whose work is inconspicuous.

{b} A lesson not to mistake noise and notoriety for spiritual progress.

{c} Guidance as to our expectations of the advance of Christ’s kingdom. It will transform society by slow, often unnoticed, degrees, by radical change of individuals’ habits. The elevation of humanity will be slow, like the imperceptible rise of the Norwegian coast. Sudden changes are short-lived changes. ‘Lightly come, lightly go.’ What matures slowly will last long.

{2} In reference to its growth in our souls.

Silence is needed for that. There must be much still communion and quiet reflection. The advance in the Christian life is variously likened to a battle, since there are antagonists and struggle is needed to overcome; and to vegetable or corporeal growth, which the mysterious indwelling life works without effort and almost without consciousness, but it is also likened to the erection of a building, in which there is continuity, and each successive course of masonry is the foundation for that above it. That work of building is work that must be done in silence. If we are to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus, we must silently drink in the sunshine and dew, and so prosperously pass from blade to ear, and thence to full corn in the ear.

Surely nothing is more needed in these days of noisy advertisement, and measurement of the importance of things by the noise that they can make, than this lesson of the place of silence in Christian progress, both for individuals and for the Christian Church as a whole.

II. How God’s house is built of prepared stones.

That is true, in one view of the matter, in regard to the Church on earth, for there must be the individual act of repentance and faith before a soul is fit to be built into the fabric of the Church.

There is providential training of men for their tasks before these are given to them.

But the highest application of the symbol which we venture to find in our text is to the relation between the earthly and the heavenly life.

This world is the quarry where the stones are dressed for the Temple in the heavens.

{a} Life is the chipping and hewing. The unnecessary pieces are struck off with heavy mallet and sharp chisel. Pain and sorrow are thus explained, if not wholly, yet sufficiently to bring about submission and trust.

{b} The Builder has His plan clearly before Him, and works accurately to realise it. He perfectly knows what He means to build, and every stroke of the dressing-tool is accurately directed. There are no mistakes made in His quarrying.

{c} We may be sure that the prepared stones will be brought to the Temple site and built into it. There lie gigantic half-hewn pillars in abandoned quarries in Syria and Egypt. But no one will ever say of the divine Temple-Builder: He began to build and was not able to finish. It remains a problem how the old builders managed to transport these huge stones from the quarries to the site, but we may be sure that the Architect of the ‘house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens,’ knows how to bring every stone that has been prepared here, to the place prepared for it, and for which it has been prepared. We may repose on the Apostle’s assurance that ‘He that has begun a good work in you will perform it,’ or rather on the more sure word of Jesus Himself, ‘He that overcometh, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God.’

1 Kings 6:7. The house — was built of stone made ready — Hewed and squared, and so fitted for their several uses and places, according to the direction of the architect, that they might be joined together without any other labour than the putting them one by or upon another. So that there was neither hammer nor axe, &c. — The stones were laid without any noise, there being nothing to be done but to join them together. Thus it was ordered, partly for the ease and convenience of carriage; partly for the magnificence of the work, and commendation of the workmen’s skill and diligence; and partly for mystical signification. And as this temple was a manifest type, both of Christ’s church upon earth, and of the heavenly Jerusalem; so this circumstance signified, as to the former, that it is the duty of the builders and members of the church, as far as in them lies, to take care that all things be transacted there with perfect peace and quietness; and that no noise of contention, or division, or violence, be heard in that sacred building; and for the latter, that no spiritual stone, no person, shall bear a part in that heavenly temple, unless he be first hewed, and squared, and made meet for it in this life.

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.The spirit of the command (marginal references), was followed. Thus the fabric rose without noise. 7. there was neither hammer nor axe nor any tool of iron heard in the house while it was in building—A subterranean quarry has been very recently discovered near Jerusalem, where the temple stones are supposed to have been hewn. There is unequivocal evidence in this quarry that the stones were dressed there; for there are blocks very similar in size, as well as of the same kind of stone, as those found in the ancient remains. Thence, probably, they would be moved on rollers down the Tyropean valley to the very side of the temple [Porter, Tent and Kahn]. Made ready; hewed, and squared, and fitted exactly according to the direction of the architect. No

tool heard in the house, while it was in building: so it was ordered, partly, for the case and conveniency of carriage; partly, for the magnificence of the work, and commendation of the workmen’s skill and diligence; and partly, for mystical signification. And as this temple was a manifest type, both of Christ’s church upon earth, and of the heavenly Jerusalem; so this circumstance signified as to the former, that it is the duty of the builders and members of the church, as far as in them lies, to take care that all things be transacted there with perfect peace and quietness; and that no noise of contention, or division, or violence be heard in that sacred building; and for the latter, that no spiritual stone, no person, shall bear a part in that heavenly temple, unless he be first hewed, and squared, and made meet for it in this life.

And the house, when it was in building,.... And all the while it was building:

was built of stone made ready before it was brought thither; being hewn or squared by the builders and stonesquarers of Solomon and Hiram, 1 Kings 5:18; wherefore the builders had nothing more to do than to lay them in their proper places in the building; it was built with these stones quite up to the ceiling, as Josephus says (t); and these so admirably polished, and so artificially joined together, that not the least sign of an axe, or of any working tool, could be discerned in them:

so that there was neither hammer, nor axe, nor any tool of iron, heard in the house while it was in building; the first of these observations shows, that none are to be laid in the spiritual building of the church, but such as are first hewed and squared by the Spirit, grace, and word of God: or who have an experience of the grace of God, are sound in the faith, and of becoming lives and good conduct; and the other denotes, that such as are therein, whether ministers or members, should do all they do for the edification of the church in a quiet and peaceable manner, without clamour, contention, fights, and tumults.

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

And the house, when it was in building, was built of stone made ready before it was brought thither: so that there was neither hammer nor axe nor any tool of iron heard in the house, while it was in building.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
7. stone made ready before it was brought thither] The R.V. renders made ready at the quarry with a margin on the last three words ‘when it was brought away.’ The final Hebrew word מַסָּע on which the various reading is given is from the root of the verb rendered doubly in 1 Kings 6:17 ‘to hew’ or ‘to bring away.’ The best authorities incline to make it a noun signifying ‘the place of hewing,’ ‘the stonequarry.’ The LXX. gives λίθοις ἀκροτόμοις, which implies that the stones were made of their necessary shape at the quarry. The idea of this preparation at a distance, so that there might be as little noise as possible while the building was in progress, was probably derived from the command (Exodus 20:25; Deuteronomy 27:5) that no iron tool should be used in the erection of the altar. This previous exact preparation must have made the transport a matter of serious care.

On the Jewish fables about the worm ‘Shamir’ by which Solomon caused the stones to be cut, see Buxtorf, Lex. Chald. p. 2455 s.v. שׁמיר.

Verse 7. - And the house, when it was in building, was built of stone made ready [Heb. perfect. This does not mean unhewn, though אֵבָנִים שְׁלְמות is undoubtedly used in Deuteronomy 27:6 (cf. Exodus 20:25) of unhewn or virgin stone; and Gesenius would so understand the expression here, But the context seems rather to convey the idea that the stones were not shaped on the spot. It was apparently the belief of the ancients that stones of proper shape and size were provided in their bed by God (so Theodoret and Procopius,) It is inconceivable, however, that no dressing or preparation of any kind would be required; an idea, moreover, which is contradicted by 1 Kings 5:18. When Gardiner (in Bahr, American edition) quotes Keil (in his earlier work) as understanding "all unviolated stones of the quarry," he hardly does justice to that author, who straightway adds, "that is, not altogether unhewn stones... but stones that were so hewn and wrought in the quarry that neither hammer," etc. (see below). Similarly Thehius and Bahr] before it was brought thither [so the Authorized Version renders מַסָּע but mistakenly. It means, the quarry (Gesenius, Keil. For the construction, see Ewald, 289a, and Gesenius, Gram. ed. Rodiger, p. 170.) The verb נָסַע is used of quarrying in 1 Kings 5:31 (Heb.) [1 Kings 5:17] Where was this quarry? The general idea is that it was in the Lebanon. And it is not to be denied that some of the massive substructions and cornerstones of the temple may have been brought from the mountain, along with the wood; but the bulk of the stone, there can be no doubt, was found much nearer home. Some of it, according to the Mishna (Middoth, 3:4), came from Bethlehem; but we can hardly be mistaken in believing that for the most part it was quarried in Jerusalem itself, under the very temple rock, and out of the vast caverns recovered some years ago by Dr. Barclay (see his "City of the Great King"), the "Royal Caverns" of Josephus. See "Quart. Journal," Pal. Explor. Fund (No. 7.), pp, 373, 374, and cf. p. 34. There are unmistakable evidences of these extensive caverns having served as a quarry. Not only are the walls cut straight, but rude masses are left here and there to support the roof, and, what is still more convincing, there are stones more or less cut out of the rock, and incisions are made where stones are to be quarried. There was no reason why the workmen should go far afield for stone when they had it, and of very excellent quality, at their own doors]: so that there was neither hammer [Heb. and hammers. Keil understands "finished stones of the quarry, and hammer, and axe." But the word "was built" (נִבְנֶה), coming as it does between "quarry" and "hammers," almost forbids this connexion] nor axe [Heb. the axe] nor any tool [Heb. every tool] of iron heard in the house, while it was building. [The historian remarks on this, not only because it was so unusual, but with the evident idea that it was a fulfilment of the spirit of the law (Deuteronomy 27:5, 6), which required the altar to be of virgin stones, untouched by tool of iron. If the quarries are to be identified with the "Royal Caverns," it is easy to understand how the temple rose up in silence. 1 Kings 6:71 Kings 6:7 contains a circumstantial clause, inserted as an explanation of 1 Kings 6:6 : "The house, (namely) when building, was built of perfectly finished stones of the quarry, and hammer and axe; no kind of instrument whatever was heard at the house when it was building." מסּע שׁלמה אבן (on the construction see Ges. 114, 1, Erl., and Ewald, 339, b.) does not mean stones quite unhewn, which God had so caused to grow that they did not require to be hewn (Theodoret); for although שׁלמות אבנים is used in Deuteronomy 27:6 (compare with Exodus 20:25) to signify uninjured, i.e., unhewn stones, yet this meaning is precluded here by the context (cf. 1 Kings 5:18). שׁלם signifies finished here, that is to say, stones which were so perfectly tooled and prepared when first broken in the quarry, that when the temple walls were built no iron instruments were required to prepare them any further. גּרזן, an axe, here a stone-mason's cutting tool corresponding to the axe. - In 1 Kings 6:8 the description of the side building is continued. "A door (פּתח, a opening for the entrance) to the middle side chamber (of the lower story) was on the right side (the southern side) of the house, and a winding staircase led up into the middle (room of the middle story) and out of the middle into the third rooms," i.e., the rooms of the third story. This is the rendering according to the Masoretic text; and the only thing that appears strange is the use of התּיכנה first of all for the middle room of the lower story and then for the middle story; and the conjecture is a very natural one, that the first התּיכנה may have been an error of the pen for התּחתּנה, in which case הצּלע does not signify the side room, but is used in a collective sense for the row of side rooms in one story, as in Ezekiel 41:5, Ezekiel 41:9,Ezekiel 41:11. That this door was made from the outside, i.e., in the outer wall of the side building, and did not lead into the side rooms "from the interior of the Holy Place," would hardly need a remark, if Bttcher (Proben alttestl. Schrifterkl. p. 339) and Schnaase (Gesch. der bildenden Knste, Bd. 1) had not really supported this view, which is so thoroughly irreconcilable with the dignity of the sanctuary.

(Note: The perfectly groundless assumption of Thenius, that the outer building had most probably an inner door as well, which connected it with the temple, does just as much violence to the decorum of the Holy Place.)

The only question is, whether it was made in the middle of the right side or in the front by the side of the porch. If the Masoretic text is correct, there is no doubt about the former. But if we read התּחתּנה, the text leaves the question undecided. The winding staircase was not constructed in the outer wall itself, because this was not thick enough for the purpose, and the text states pretty clearly that it led from the lower story into the middle one, and thence still higher, so that it was in the centre of the building.

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