1 Kings 7:23
And he made a molten sea, ten cubits from the one brim to the other: it was round all about, and his height was five cubits: and a line of thirty cubits did compass it round about.
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(23-26) A molten sea—a gigantic laver for the ablution of the priests—corresponding to the laver of brass in the Tabernacle (Exodus 30:18-21; Exodus 38:8). It had a diameter of 15 feet, and a height of 7½ feet; but as it held 2,000 baths, that is, 17,000 gallons (or, as in 2Chronicles 4:3, 3,000 baths, that is, 25,500 gallons), it is clear that it could not have been a hemisphere, but must have bulged out in section. There must, however, have been first a bulging inwards, immediately under the rim: for the right translation of 1Kings 7:26 declares that the rim was in “the form of a lily flower,” that is, curving outwards. Under the rim ran a double row of “gourd ornaments,” like those carved in the cedar-panelling of the Temple. The sea stood on twelve oxen, corresponding perhaps to the twelve tribes of Israel—the ox being possibly the same emblem which was used in the form of the cherubim—till it was taken down and placed on the pavement by Ahaz (2Kings 16:17), and, like the great pillars, was broken up at last by the Chaldeans for the sake of the brass (2Kings 25:13).

1 Kings 7:23. He made a molten sea — He melted the brass, and cast it into the form of a great vessel, for its vastness called a sea, which name is given by the Hebrews to all great collections of waters. The use of it was for the priests to wash their hands and feet, or other things, as occasion required, with the water which they drew out of it. It was round all about — Of a circular form. Its height was five cubits — Besides the height of the oxen whereon it stood. A line of thirty cubits did compass it — For the diameter being ten cubits, thirty must be the circumference of it. This sea was filled with water by the Gibeonites, who were afterward called Nethinims.7:13-47 The two brazen pillars in the porch of the temple, some think, were to teach those that came to worship, to depend upon God only, for strength and establishment in all their religious exercises. Jachin, God will fix this roving mind. It is good that the heart be established with grace. Boaz, In him is our strength, who works in us both to will and to do. Spiritual strength and stability are found at the door of God's temple, where we must wait for the gifts of grace, in use of the means of grace. Spiritual priests and spiritual sacrifices must be washed in the laver of Christ's blood, and of regeneration. We must wash often, for we daily contract pollution. There are full means provided for our cleansing; so that if we have our lot for ever among the unclean it will be our own fault. Let us bless God for the fountain opened by the sacrifice of Christ for sin and for uncleanness.The "molten sea "of Solomon, so called from its great size, took the place of the laver of the tabernacle Exodus 30:18-21, which was required for the ablutions of the priests. It was ten cubits, or fully fifteen feet, in diameter at top, and therefore forty-seven feet in circumference, with a depth of 5 cubits, or 7 12 feet. As a vessel of these dimensions, if hemispherical, would certainly not hold 2,000 1 Kings 7:26, much less 3,000 2 Chronicles 4:3 baths, the bath equaling 8 12 gallons, it is now generally supposed that the bowl bulged considerably below the brim, and further, that it had a "foot," - or basin which received the water as it was drawn out by taps from the bowl. The "2,000 baths" may give the quantity of water ordinarily supplied to the "sea;" the "3,000 baths" the utmost that the laver could anyhow take. Bowls of a considerable size are represented in the Assyrian bas-reliefs; but none of such dimensions as Solomon's. The largest mentioned by the Greeks held only 5,400 gallons, less than one-third of the contents of the "molten sea," even according to the lowest estimate. 23-26. he made a molten sea—In the tabernacle was no such vessel; the laver served the double purpose of washing the hands and feet of the priests as well as the parts of the sacrifices. But in the temple there were separate vessels provided for these offices. (See on [297]2Ch 4:6). The molten sea was an immense semicircular vase, measuring seventeen and a half feet in diameter, and being eight and three-fourths feet in depth. This, at three and a half inches in thickness, could not weigh less than from twenty-five to thirty tons in one solid casting—and held from sixteen thousand to twenty thousand gallons of water. [See on [298]2Ch 4:3.] The brim was all carved with lily work or flowers; and oxen were carved or cut on the outside all round, to the number of three hundred; and it stood on a pedestal of twelve oxen. These oxen must have been of considerable size, like the Assyrian bulls, so that their corresponding legs would give thickness or strength to support so great a weight for, when the vessel was filled with water, the whole weight would be about one hundred tons [Napier]. (See on [299]2Ch 4:3). He made a molten sea; he melted the brass, and cast it into the form of a great vessel, for its vastness called a sea, which name is given by the Hebrews to all great collections of waters. The use of it was for the priests to wash their hands and feet, or other things as occasion required, with the water which they drew out of it. See 2 Chronicles 4:2. Compare Exodus 30:19,20. And he made a molten sea,.... A large vessel made of molten brass, which, because of the great quantity of water it held, is called a sea; as it was usual with the Jews to call a large collection of waters a sea, as the sea of Tiberius and Galilee. This was made by the man of Tyre, as the pillars, by the order of Solomon, and answered to the brasen laver in the tabernacle, only larger than that; and was not only for the priests to wash their hands and feet in, but to dip upon occasion, and by the Jews (p) is expressly said to be a dipping place for the priests, see 2 Chronicles 4:6,

ten cubits from the one brim to the other: which was the diameter of it: it was round all about; spherical or circular; not as an hemisphere, as Josephus (q), and Procopius Gazaeus, but rather cylindrical:

and his height was five cubits; from the bottom of it, not including the pedestal of oxen on which it stood:

and a line of thirty cubits did compass it round about; this was the circumference of it; which answers to the diameter of ten cubits, or near it, a round number being given not strictly mathematical.

(Sceptics have ridiculed the Bible for saying that the mathematical constant is 3 instead of the more precise 3.14159. (This number is an "irrational number" and needs an infinite number digits to specify it exactly.) Two explanations for the apparent lack of precision in the measurement are given.

1) The circumference given may be for the inside circumference and the diameter may be the diameter including the thickness of the rim. This would yield a very accurate mathematical result for the inside circumference of thirty cubits. The outside circumference would be about 31.4 cubits giving a rim thickness of four inches or an hand breadth agreeing with 1 Kings 7:26.

2) In 1 Kings 7:26 we read the vessel "was wrought like the brim of a cup." That is the brim on the top of the vessel was wider than the main part of the vessel. The diameter would be given for the brim. If the brim or lip extended about four inches past the main body of the vessel then the outside circumference of the main part of the vessel would be exactly thirty cubits.

In each case the mathematical ratio for circumference of the circle is d, where "d" is the diameter and is the number 3.14159 ..... For a more complete discussion on this see the article by Russel Grigg. (r). Editor.)

(p) T. Hieros, Yema, fol. 41. 1((q) Antiqu. l. 8. c. 3. sect 5. (r) "Does the Bible say pi equals 3.0?", Russell Greg, page 24, "Ex Nihil", March-May Issue, Vol. 17. No. 2., Creation Science Foundation Ltd. Brisbane, Australia.

And he made a molten {o} sea, ten cubits from the one brim to the other: it was round all about, and his height was five cubits: and a line of thirty cubits did compass it round about.

(o) So called for the size of the vessel.

23–26. The Molten Sea which Hiram made (2 Chronicles 4:2-5)

23. And he made a (R.V. the) molten sea] The definite article is expressed in the original, and the vessel itself was unique. It is called a ‘sea’ because of its great capacity (see Josephus Ant. viii. 3, 5). The Hebrew word is not confined in use to the ocean, but is applied to the Nile (Isaiah 18:2), and to the Euphrates (Isaiah 27:1). So lacus is used by Vergil (Georg. 4:173) for a blacksmith’s trough. See also 1 Kings 18:32, note.

ten cubits from one brim to the other, &c.] The R.V. tries to be more literal, but with the same sense. Ten cubits from brim to brim, round in compass.

a line of thirty cubits] This would in round numbers be the size of the circumference, with ten cubits as diameter.Verse 23. - The writer now passes on to describe the brazen vessels made by Hiram for the temple use. And he made a [Heb. the] molten sea [so called on account of its unprecedented size and capacity. It was designed, like the laver of brass in the tabernacle (Exodus 30:18-20), to contain the water necessary for the ablutions of the priests. For its size and shape see below], ten cubits from the one brim to the other [Heb. from his lip to his lip] round all about [i.e., circular], and his height was five cubits [this was the depth of the vessel, exclusive of its foot or base]: and a line of thirty cubits did compass It round about. [The historian obviously uses round numbers when he speaks of the diameter as ten and the circumference as thirty cubits. If the diameter was exactly ten, the circumference would of course be about 31.5 cubits. But the sacred writers seldom aim at precision. "Plait (i.e., ornaments of plait), plait-work and cords (twist, resembling) chain-work, were on the capitals, which were upon the heads of the pillars, seven on the one capital and seven on the other capital." Consequently this decoration consisted of seven twists arranged as festoons, which were hung round the capitals of the pillars.
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