And under the borders were four wheels; and the axletrees of the wheels were joined to the base: and the height of a wheel was a cubit and half a cubit.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)1 Kings 7:29,
and the axle trees of the wheels were joined to the base; to the four sides of it:
and the height of a wheel was a cubit and half a cubit; that is, from the plate of brass on which it stood, to the axis or semicircle of it; so that the highest part of the ring being also a cubit and an half, reached to the top of the base, it being but three cubits high, 1 Kings 7:27.And under the borders were four wheels; and the axletrees of the wheels were joined to the base: and the height of a wheel was a cubit and half a cubit.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)32. And under the borders [panels] were four wheels] Better, ‘the four wheels.’ They were so fixed that they might not hide by their upper part any portion of the ornamental panels.
and the axletrees of the wheels were joined to the base] More literally, were in the base. That is they formed a portion of the casting. The Hebrew word here is different from that rendered ‘axles’ in 1 Kings 7:30. This word is literally ‘hands’ and no doubt signifies some kind of ‘holder’ or support by which the wheels were kept in place. If the ‘shoulders’ of 1 Kings 7:30 also belong to the wheels they must have been made doubly secure.Verse 32. - And under the borders [i.e., panels] were four [Heb. the four i.e., those mentioned in ver. 30] wheels ["The wheels reached no higher than that portion of the sides of the base which was ornamented with garlands" (Rawlinson). It would be more correct to say that the wheels did not cover any portion of the sides; they were under them]; and the axletrees [Heb. hands, as holding the wheel to the base or stand. Axletrees is altogether misleading. The hands were the parts connecting the wheels and axles] of the wheels were joined to [Heb. in, as marg.] the base: and the height of a wheel was a cubit and half a cubit. [i.e., 27 inches.] 1 Kings 7:15), "and its upper rim like work of a goblet (or of a goblet-rim, i.e., bent outwards), lily-blossom," i.e., ornamented with lily-flowers. It held 2000 baths; according to the Chronicles, 3000 baths. The latter statement has arisen from the confusion of ג (3) with ב (2); since, according to the calculation of Thenius, the capacity of the vessel, from the dimensions given, could not exceed 2000 baths. This vessel, which took the place of the laver in the tabernacle, was provided for the priests to wash themselves (2 Chronicles 4:6), that is to say, that a supply of water might be kept in readiness to enable the priests to wash their hands and feet when they approached the altar to officiate, or were about to enter the Holy Place (Exodus 30:18.). There were no doubt taps by which the water required for this purpose was drawn off from the sea.
(Note: For the different conjectures on this subject, see Lundius, jud. Heiligthmer, p. 356. Thenius supposes that there was also a provision for filling the vessel, since the height of it would have rendered it a work of great labour and time to fill it by hand, and that there was probably a pipe hidden behind the figures of the oxen, since, according to Aristeas, histor. lxx Interp., Oxon. 1692, p. 32 (also Eusebii praep. evang. ix. 38), there were openings concealed at the foot of the altar, out of which water was allowed to run at certain seasons for the requisite cleansing of the pavement of the court from the blood of the sacrifices; and there is still a fountain just in the neighbourhood of the spot on which, according to 1 Kings 7:39, the brazen sea must have stood (see Schultz's plan); and in the time of the Crusaders there was a large basin, covered by a dome supported by columns (see Robinson, Pal. i. 446). But even if the later temple was supplied with the water required by means of artificial water-pipes, the Solomonian origin of these arrangements or designs is by no means raised even to the rank of probability.)
- The artistic form of the vessel corresponded to its sacred purpose. The rim of the basin, which rose upwards in the form of a lily, was intended to point to the holiness and loveliness of that life which issued from the sanctuary. The twelve oxen, on which it rested, pointed to the twelve tribes of Israel as a priestly nation, which cleansed itself here in the persons of its priests, to appear clean and holy before the Lord. Just as the number twelve unquestionably suggests the allusion to the twelve tribes of the covenant nation, so, in the choice of oxen or bullocks as supporters of the basin, it is impossible to overlook the significance of this selection of the first and highest of the sacrificial animals to represent the priestly service, especially if we compare the position of the lions on Solomon's throne (1 Kings 10:20).
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