1 Kings 7:2
He built also the house of the forest of Lebanon; the length thereof was an hundred cubits, and the breadth thereof fifty cubits, and the height thereof thirty cubits, upon four rows of cedar pillars, with cedar beams upon the pillars.
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1 Kings 7:2. He built also the house of the forest of Lebanon — The house mentioned in the foregoing verse was in Jerusalem, and was probably the place of Solomon’s residence during the winter. This seems to have been built for his summer residence, on some cool, shady mountain near Jerusalem, and to have been called the house of the forest of Lebanon, because it was situated in a lofty place, bearing some resemblance to mount Lebanon, and probably was surrounded with many tall cedars, such as grew there. That it was near Jerusalem, and not on mount Lebanon, properly so called, seems evident, because there was the throne of judgment, (1 Kings 7:7,) which it was most proper should be in the place of his constant and usual residence; and because there was the chief magazine of arms, (Isaiah 22:8,) and Solomon’s golden shields were placed there, (1 Kings 10:17; 1 Kings 14:25-28,) which no wise prince would have put in a place at the extremity of his kingdom, and at such a distance from his royal city as mount Lebanon was from Jerusalem. The length thereof — Of the principal mansion; to which, doubtless, other buildings were adjoining. Was a hundred cubits — Which was not longer than the house of God, if we take in all the courts belonging thereto. The height thereof thirty cubits — The same as the height of the holy place in the temple. Upon four rows of cedar pillars — Which supported the building, and between which there were four stately walks. With cedar beams upon the pillars — Which were laid for the floor of the second story.

7:1-12 All Solomon's buildings, though beautiful, were intended for use. Solomon began with the temple; he built for God first, and then his other buildings. The surest foundations of lasting prosperity are laid in early piety. He was thirteen years building his house, yet he built the temple in little more than seven years; not that he was more exact, but less eager in building his own house, than in building God's. We ought to prefer God's honour before our own ease and satisfaction.Many have supposed that the buildings mentioned in 1 Kings 7:1-2, 1 Kings 7:8, were three entirely distinct and separate buildings. But it is perhaps best to consider the "house" of 1 Kings 7:1 as the palace proper - Solomon's own dwelling-house (see 1 Kings 7:8); the house of 1 Kings 7:2, as the state apartments; and the house for Pharaoh's daughter as the hareem or zenana; and to regard these three groups of buildings as distinct, though interconnected, and as together constituting what is else-where termed "the king's house" 1 Kings 9:10.

The house of the forest of Lebanon - This name was probably given from the supposed resemblance of the mass of cedar pillars, which was its main feature, to the Lebanon cedar forest. Its length of "a hundred cubits," or 150 feet, was nearly twice as long as the entire temple without the porch. Some of the great halls in Assyrian palaces were occasionally as much as 180 feet.

The breadth "of fifty cubits," or 75 feet, is a breadth very much greater than is ever found in Assyria, and one indicative of the employment in the two countries of quite different methods of roofing. By their use of pillars the Jews, like the Persians, were able to cover in a very wide space.

Four rows - The Septuagint gives "three rows." If the pillars were forty-five 1 Kings 7:3, fifteen in a row, there should have been but three rows, as seems to have been the case in the old palace of Cyrus at Pasargadae. If there were four rows of fifteen, the number of pillars should have been sixty.

1Ki 7:2-7. Of the House of Lebanon.

2. He built also the house of the forest of Lebanon—It is scarcely possible to determine whether this was a different edifice from the former, or whether his house, the house of the forest of Lebanon, and the one for Pharaoh's daughter, were not parts of one grand palace. As difficult is it to decide what was the origin of the name; some supposing it was so called because built on Lebanon; others, that it was in or near Jerusalem, but contained such a profuse supply of cedar columns as to have occasioned this peculiar designation. We have a similar peculiarity of name in the building called the East India house, though situated in London. The description is conformable to the arrangement of Eastern palaces. The building stood in the middle of a great oblong square, which was surrounded by an enclosing wall, against which the houses and offices of those attached to the court were built. The building itself was oblong, consisting of two square courts, flanking a large oblong hall which formed the center, and was one hundred cubits long, by fifty broad. This was properly the house of the forest of Lebanon, being the part where were the cedar pillars of this hall. In front was the porch of judgment, which was appropriated to the transaction of public business. On the one side of this great hall was the king's house; and on the other the harem or royal apartments for Pharaoh's daughter (Es 2:3, 9). This arrangement of the palace accords with the Oriental style of building, according to which a great mansion always consists of three divisions, or separate houses—all connected by doors and passages—the men dwelling at one extremity, the women of the family at the other, while public rooms occupy the central part of the building.

The house of the forest of Lebanon; a house so called, either, first, Because it was built in the mountain and forest of Lebanon, for his recreation there in summer time. But it is generally and more probably held, that it was in or near Jerusalem, both because there was

the throne of judgment, 1 Kings 7:7, which was fittest to be in the place of his constant and usual residence; and because there was the chief magazine of arms, Isaiah 22:8, and Solomon’s golden shields were put there, as is manifest from 1 Kings 10:17 14:25,26,28, which no wise prince would do in a place so remote from his royal city, and in the utmost borders of his kingdom, as this was. Or rather, secondly, From some resemblance it might have with that place, for the pleasant shades and groves which were about it; nothing being more frequent, both in sacred and other writers, than to transfer the names of Carmel, or Tempe, or the like, to other places of the same nature and quality with them.

The length thereof, to wit, of the principal mansion; to which doubtless other buildings were adjoined. Upon four rows of cedar pillars; upon which the house was built, and between which there were four stately walks.

With cedar beams upon the pillars; which were laid for the floor of the second story.

He built also the house of the forest of Lebanon,.... Besides the temple, his own palace, and the queen's; so called, not because it was built on Mount Lebanon, which lay at the northern border of the land, at a great distance from Jerusalem, whereas this was both a magazine of arms, and a court of judicature, 1 Kings 7:7; see 1 Kings 10:17; neither of which can be supposed to be far from Jerusalem; but because not only it was built of the cedars of Lebanon, but in a situation, and among groves of trees which resembled it; it seems to have been a summer house; and so the Targum calls it, a royal house of refreshment:

the length thereof was an hundred cubits, and the breadth thereof fifty and the height thereof thirty cubits; so that it was in every measure larger than the temple; and, there was good reason for it, since into that only the priests entered; whereas into this went not only Solomon's family but his courtiers and nobles, and all foreign ambassadors, and whoever had any business with him, which required various rooms to receive them in:

upon four rows of cedar pillars; or piazzas:

with cedar beams upon the pillars; which laid the floor for the second story.

He built also the house {b} of the forest of Lebanon; the length thereof was an hundred cubits, and the breadth thereof fifty cubits, and the height thereof thirty cubits, upon four rows of cedar pillars, with cedar beams upon the pillars.

(b) Because of the beauty of the place, and great abundance of cedar trees that went into the building of it, it was compared to mount Lebanon.

2. He built also] Better, For he built, as R.V. The verses that follow are not describing an addition to the work mentioned in 1 Kings 7:1, but only explaining the various parts thereof.

the house of the forest of Lebanon] This building which is mentioned again in 1 Kings 10:17 and 2 Chronicles 9:16 appears, from those passages, to have been Solomon’s armoury. The multitude of pillars, which was the marked feature of the lower floor, made it admirably suited for the hanging of shields and targets. Its name was probably given because the wood of its pillars came from Lebanon, and when these were in position they looked like the trunks of forest trees.

upon four rows of cedar pillars] The number of the pillars is not given, but they must have been both very numerous and very substantial to support the three tiers of building which stood above them. It appears that the house had an external wall, and then rows of cedar pillars, four deep, stood round about, within the enclosure, to support the cedar beams which made the first floor of the chambers that ran along the sides. The cedar beams were no doubt let into the external wall as well as supported on the pillars.

Verse 2. - He built also [Heb. and he built. The A.V. rendering almost contradicts the view just advanced, viz., that the house of the forest of Lebanon was part of "all the house" (ver. 1)] the house of the forest of Lebanon [so called, not because it was a summer residence in Lebanon, as some have supposed, nor yet merely because it was built of Lebanon cedar, but because it displayed, a perfect thicket or forest (יַעַר) of cedar pillars]; the length thereof was one hundred cubits [the temple proper was 60], and the breadth thereof fifty cubits [The temple was but 20. It does not follow that this space of 100 x 50 cubits was all roofed in, for it would seem as if the house was built round a courtyard. Rawlinson remarks that a roof of 75 feet is "much greater than is ever found in Assyria." But it is by no means certain that there was any such roof here], and the height thereof thirty cubits [the same as the temple], upon four rows of cedar pillars [How these were disposed of, or what was their number, it is impossible to say. Thenius says they were 400, but this is pure conjecture. The description is so meagre and partial that it is impossible to form a correct idea of the building. The remark made above (ch. 6. Introd. Note) as to the temple applies with still greater force to the palaces. "There are few tasks more difficult or puzzling than the attempt to restore an ancient building of which we possess nothing but two verbal descriptions; and these difficulties are very much enhanced when one account is written in a language like Hebrew, the scientific terms in which are, from our ignorance, capable of the widest latitude of interpretation, and the other, though written in a language of which we have a more definite knowledge, was composed by a person who could never have seen the building he was describing" (Fergusson, Dict. Bib. 2. p. 658)], with cedar beams [כְּרֻתות cut or hewn beams] upon the pillars. [This palace, according to Fergusson, was "the great hall of state and audience" and the principal building of the range. But if it was this, which is very doubtful, for the throne was in the hall of judgment (1 Kings 5:7), it would seem to have served other purposes besides that of an audience-chamber. Among other things, it was certainly an armoury (1 Kings 10:17. cf. Isaiah 22:8). The Arab. Vers. calls it "the house of his arms." Possibly it was also the residence of the bodyguard (cf. 1 Kings 14:28 with 1 Kings 10:17). Bahr observes that the arrangement of the palaces accords with the Jewish conceptions of the kingly office. The first, the armoury, represents him in his militant character (1 Samuel 8:20), the second in his judicial function (1 Samuel 8:5, 6; 2 Samuel 15:4; 1 Kings 3:9), while the third shows him in his private capacity.] 1 Kings 7:2The house of the forest of Lebanon. - This building - so named because it was built, so to speak, of a forest of cedar pillars - is called in the Arabic the "house of his arms," because, according to 1 Kings 10:17, it also served as a keeping-place for arms:" it is hardly to be regarded, however, as simply an arsenal, but was probably intended for other purposes also. He built it "a hundred cubits its length, fifty cubits its breadth, and thirty cubits its height, on four rows of cedar pillars, and hewn cedar beams (were) over the pillars." As the building was not merely a hall of pillars, but, according to 1 Kings 7:3, had side-rooms (צלעת, cf. 1 Kings 6:5) above the pillars, the construction of it can hardly be represented in any other way than this, that the rooms were built upon four rows of pillars, which ran round all four sides of the building, which was 100 cubits long and fifty cubits broad in the inside, and thus surrounded the inner courtyard on all sides. Of course the building could not rest merely upon pillars, but was surrounded on the outside with a strong wall of hewn square stones (1 Kings 7:9), so that the hewn beams which were laid upon the pillars had their outer ends built into the wall, and were supported by it, so as to give to the whole building the requisite strength.

(Note: Thenius therefore supposes that "the lower part of the armoury formed a peristyle, a fourfold row of pillars running round inside its walls and enclosing a courtyard, so that the Vulgate alone gives the true sense, quatuor deambulacra inter columnas cedrinas;" and he points to the court of the palace of Luxor, which has a double row of pillars round it. The number of pillars is not given in the text, but Thenius in his drawing of this building sets it down at 400, which would certainly present a forest-like aspect to any one entering the building. Nevertheless we cannot regard this assumption as correct, because the pillars,which we cannot suppose to have been less than a cubit in thickness, would have been so close to one another that the four rows of pillars could not have formed four deambulacra. As the whole building was only fifty cubits broad, and this breadth included the inner courtyard, we cannot suppose that the sides of the building were more than ten cubits deep, which would leave a breadth of thirty cubits for the court. If then four pillars, each of a cubit in thickness, stood side by side or one behind the other in a space of ten cubits in depth, the distance between the pillars would be only a cubit and a half, that is to say, would be only just enough for one man and no more to walk conveniently through. And what could have been the object of crowding pillars together in this way, so as to render the entire space almost useless? It is on this ground, probably that Hermann Weiss assumes that each side of the oblong building, which was half as broad as it was long, was supported by one row, and therefore all the sides together by four rows of cedar pillars, and the beams of the same material which rested upon them. But this view is hardly a correct one; for it not only does not do justice to the words of the text, "four rows of pillars," but it is insufficient in itself, for the simple reason that one row of pillars on each side would not have afforded the requisite strength and stability to the three stories built upon them, even if we should not suppose the rooms in these stories to be very broad, since the further three rows of pillars, which Weiss assumes in addition, according to 1 Kings 7:3, as the actual supporters of the upper building, have no foundation in the text. The words "four rows of cedar pillars" do not absolutely require the assumption that there were four rows side by side or one behind the other on every side of the building; for the assertion that טוּר does not denote a row in the sense of a straight line, but generally signifies a row surrounding and enclosing a space, is refuted by Exodus 28:17, where we read of the four טוּרים of precious stones upon the breastplate of the high priest. - Is it not likely that the truth lies midway between these two views, and that the following is the view most in accordance with the actual fact, namely, that there were four rows of pillars running along the full length of the building, but that they were distributed on the two sides, so that there were only two rows on each side? In this case a person entering from the front would see four rows of pillars running the whole length of the building. In any case the rows of pillars would of necessity be broken in front by the entrance itself.

The utter uncertainty as to the number and position of the four rows of pillars is sufficient in itself to render it quite impossible to draw any plan of the building that could in the slightest degree answer to the reality. Moreover, there is no allusion at all in the description given in the text to either entrance or exit, or to staircases and other things, and the other buildings are still more scantily described, so that nothing certain can be determined with regard to their relative position or their probable connection with one another. For this reason, after studying the matter again and again, I have been obliged to relinquish the intention to illustrate the description in the text by drawings.)

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