For he cast two pillars of brass, of eighteen cubits high apiece: and a line of twelve cubits did compass either of them about.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Jachin (“He shall establish”) and Boaz (“In it is strength”), the text gives no account of their destination, except that they were set up in the porch of the Temple (1Kings 7:21). Mr. Fergusson considers that they were supports to the roof of the vestibule; and if this were thirty cubits high, the twenty-seven cubits of each pillar, allowing for the slope of the roof to the apex, would suit well enough. But the absence of all reference to their position as parts of the building, and the entire separation of the description of their fabrication from the account of the building itself, rather favoured the other supposition, that they were isolated pillars set up in front of the porch as symbolic monuments, conveying the idea of Psalms 46, “God is our hope and strength;” “God is in the midst of her, therefore shall she not be removed.” It is particularly noticed (2Kings 25:13-16; Jeremiah 52:17; Jeremiah 52:20-23) that they were broken up by the Chaldæans. on the capture of Jerusalem, and the brass carried away. The description is exceedingly elaborate, and, except in one or two parts, clear enough. The shaft of each pillar was twenty-seven feet high, and its diameter something less than six feet. Josephus says that it was hollow, but of considerable thickness. Above the shaft was a chapiter (or capital) of great proportionate size (seven and a half feet high), covered with a net-work and festoons of metal-work, and ornamented with two rows of pomegranates, a hundred in each row. Over these again was “lily-work” of six feet in height—probably some conventionalised foliage, technically known by that name, like the “honeysuckle ornament” in classical architecture, or the conventional “dog-tooth” or “ball-flower” of Gothic. The whole height, even if there were no base or plinth below, would be twenty-seven cubits, or forty feet and a half. In the Dict. of the Bible (TEMPLE) is given a drawing of a pillar at Persepolis, which bears a considerable resemblance to the general description here given, but, being executed in stone, is far less elaborate in ornamentation. The whole style of the narrative shows that these were regarded as monuments of the highest artistic skill, and well known to all, as from their position they would be constantly before the eyes both of priests and people. There was, so far as can be seen, nothing to correspond to them in the Tabernacle.1 Kings 7:15-16. He cast two pillars of brass — Of which see 2 Kings 25:16-17; Jeremiah 52:21. Of eighteen cubits high apiece — It is said, 2 Chronicles 3:15, that these pillars were thirty-five cubits high, which relates to the height of both of them together without their pedestals, whereas the height of each is given here with its pedestal. A line of twelve cubits did compass either of them — The diameter, therefore, was four cubits, which, considering the chapiter of five cubits, added to the height of each pillar, (2 Chronicles 3:15,) was only in due proportion to the height. In 2 Kings 25:17, indeed, it is said, that the height of the chapiter was only three cubits. But it must be observed, that the word chapiter may either be taken more largely for the whole, in which case, it was five cubits; or more strictly, either for the pommels, as they are called, 2 Chronicles 4:12; or for the cornice or crown, and so it was but three cubits, to which the pomegranates being added, made it four cubits, as it is 1 Kings 7:19, and the other work upon it took up one cubit more, which in all made five cubits.2 Kings 25:13; Jeremiah 52:17, were probably for ornament, standing by themselves under or in front of the porch. It is certain that the Phoenicians used isolated metal columns as sacred ornaments, so that Hiram would be familiar with such a mode of ornamentation. Eighteen cubits appear to have been the height of the shaft only. Adding the capital 1 Kings 7:16, 1 Kings 7:19, the entire metal pillar was 27 cubits high; and if it had a stone base of eight cubits, which would not be greatly out of proportion, the height of 35 cubits (52 12 feet, 2 Chronicles 3:15) would have been reached. The height of some of the Persepolitan columns, with which these pillars may be best compared, is 67 feet. The circumference of 12 cubits (18 feet) implies a diameter of about 5 feet 9 inches at the base, which would make the column somewhat heavy in appearance. Egyptian pillars were, however, even thicker in proportion to their height. On the supposition that a portion of the original text has fallen out, this verse has been thus completed: "He cast two pillars of brass; eighteen cubits was the height of the one pillar, and eighteen cubits was the height of the other pillar; and a line of twelve cubits compassed the one pillar, and a line of twelve cubits compassed the other pillar." He cast two pillars of brass; of which see 2 Kings 25:16,17 Jer 52:21.
Of eighteen cubits high apiece.
Object. They are said to be thirty-five cubits high, 2 Chronicles 3:15.
Answ. That place manifestly speaks of both the pillars; and this of each, or one pillar, as it is in the Hebrew.
Object. But then it should have been thirty-six cubits.
Answ. Either the odd half cubit is swallowed up either in the top of the chapiter, or in the bottom of the basis of each pillar; or it is neglected in the account, as commonly small measures or numbers are.
Line of twelve cubits did compass either of them about; so the diameter was four cubits, which, considering the chapiter of five cubits added to the height of each pillar, 2 Chronicles 3:14, was not unproportionable to the height. 2 Chronicles 3:15 they are said to be thirty five cubits high, which must be understood of the length or height of them both; and whereas that would allow but seventeen cubits and a half to a pillar, either the round number of eighteen is used, or half a cubit in each may be allowed, either for the base or pedestal into which they were put; or the chapiter at the top of them, into which they might go such a length, and so only what was seen is described:
and a line of twelve cubits did compass either of them about; that was the circumference of them, and therefore their diameter must be four cubits. Eupolemus, an Heathen writer (n) speaks of these pillars, but he makes the circuit of them to be but ten cubits; and says they were equal in height with the temple, and stood on the right and left, and were made of brass, and covered with gold, the thickness of a finger.For he cast two pillars of brass, of eighteen cubits high apiece: and a line of twelve cubits did compass either of them about.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)15. of eighteen cubits high apiece] The Hebrew says ‘eighteen cubits was the height of one pillar.’ There can be very little doubt that this should be followed by ‘and eighteen cubits was the height of the other pillar.’ But the similarity of the words has caused the scribe to overlook them. And there is a like defect in the other half of this verse. For instead of ‘did compass either of them about’ the original gives ‘did compass the second pillar.’ The whole of the latter passage was no doubt ‘a line of twelve cubits did compass about the one pillar, and a line of twelve cubits the second pillar.’ The A. V. gives the sense, and in a better fashion than by introducing italics to represent the missing words. The full form in similar phrases occurs immediately in 1 Kings 7:16-17, and then in 18 there is an omission of one-half the description, just as has happened here.
The first portion of these pillars was 18 cubits = 27 feet high by 12 cubits = 18 feet in circumference. This of itself would make a pillar of disproportionate dimensions, but on the top there were placed chapiters (capitals) of 5 cubits = 7½ feet high. Thus the whole height would be 23 cubits or 34½ feet. It is said (2 Chronicles 3:15) that the pillars were 35 cubits high. In that case we should have to suppose them raised on bases of 12 cubits, which is out of all proportion. The metal work may have had some stone base to rest on, but that would never have been 18 feet high. It is more reasonable to suppose that the numbers, marked in Hebrew letters, have been misread by the Chronicler. See however the note on 1 Kings 6:3 above, with reference to these dimensions.
These pillars were broken up and carried away along with other metal at the time of the Babylonian invasion, see 2 Kings 25:13; Jeremiah 52:17, in which latter passage the heights of the pillar and its capital are exactly as here, and in the former there is only a variation in the dimension of the capital, not of the pillar.Verse 15. - For he cast two pillars of brass [The process of casting, as practised by the ancients, receives considerable illustration from the paintings of Thebes (see Wilkinson, "Anc. Egypt." 2 pp. 234, 256; Kitto, "Daily Bib. Illus." Sol. and Kings, pp. 72, 73)], of eighteen cubits high apiece [Heb. eighteen cubits was the height of the one column. This was the height of the shaft (cf. 2 Kings 25:17; Jeremiah 52:21). To this must be added the capital (vers. 16, 19), which measured five (or, according to some, nine) cubits, and probably the pedestal. The pillars were hollow, the metal being four finger breadths thick (Jeremiah 52:21). In 2 Chronicles 3:15 the height is given as thirty-five cubits - a discrepancy which has been variously explained. According to some writers (e.g., Abravanel, Movers, Wordsworth), this represents the total length of the two pillars (each pillar consequently being 17.5 cubits) - an idea which, perhaps, finds some slight support in the word employed אָרֶך length. Here it is ׃תהגךךה קומָה By others it has been supposed that the total height of base, column, and capital was thirty-five cubits, which, if not incredible, is very improbable. Others think it a part of that systematic reduplication of the heights of edifices by the chronicler, of which we have already had an instance in ch. 6. (where see note). But the true explanation would seem to be that, by a clerical error, thirty-five (לה) has been substituted in the text for eighteen (יח). So Keil and Bahr]: and a line [or thread] of twelve cubits did compass either of them [Heb. the second column] about. [It must not be supposed, from the fact that the height of the one column is given, and the circumference of the other, that they were dissimilar in height and breadth or girth. There has probably been an accidental abbreviation of the full expression, "Eighteen cubits was the height of the one pillar, and eighteen cubits was the height of the other pillar; and a line of twelve cubits compassed the one pillar, and a line of twelve cubits compassed the other pillar." It is just possible, however, that the peculiarity results from the actual system of measurement employed in this case. As they were castings, it would be needless to measure both pillars, and so the length may have been ascertained from the first, and the breadth from the second. The columns would thus be about twenty-seven feet high, and about six feet in diameter.] 1 Kings 7:2-8) were costly stones, after the measure of that which is hewn, sawn with the saw within and without (i.e., on the inner and outer side of the halls and buildings), and from the foundation to the corbels, and from without to the great court," הטּפחות, the corbels, upon which the beams of the roof rest. The lxx renders it ἕως τῶν γεισῶν. Thenius understands by this the battlements which protected the flat roofs, and therefore interprets טפחות as signifying the stone border of the roof of the palace. But γεῖσος, or γεῖσσος γεῖσον, merely signifies the projection of the roof, and, generally speaking, every projection in a building resembling a roof, but not the battlement-like protection or border of the flat roof, which is called מעקה in Deuteronomy 22:8. חוּץ, the outside in distinction from the great court, can only be the outer court; and as הגּדולה החצר is no doubt identical with האחרת חצר (1 Kings 7:8), and therefore refers to the court surrounding the king's dwelling-house, חוּץ is to be understood as relating to the court-yard or fore-court surrounding the front halls.
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