And all the doors and posts were square, with the windows: and light was against light in three ranks.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
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.1 Kings 7:4, it being the manner of the Hebrews to repeat the same things; or rather, of the smaller windows or lights, which were over the several doors, as the manner of many buildings is. And all the doors and posts were square, with the windows: and light was against light in three ranks.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)5. And all the doors and posts were square, with the windows] It is not easy to say how the last word of the Hebrew should be rendered. It is akin to that rendered ‘windows’ by the A.V. in 1 Kings 7:4. Hence a like meaning has been assigned to it here. But there is nothing in the original to represent ‘with the.’ The R.V. used prospects in the previous verse, and so gives here were square in prospects, adding in the margin ‘were made square with beams.’ Taking these ‘beams’ to signify, as before, the ‘framework’ of the doorways, the sense would be ‘were set square in the framework,’ i.e. of the doorways.Verse 5. - And all the doors and posts [For מְזוּזֹת posts, Thenius would read מֶהְזות outlooks, after ver. 4, which seems a natural emendation, especially as the LXX. has χῶραι. We should then get the sense of "doors and windows "] were square of beam. [The word translated "windows" in ver. 4; the proper rendering is beam, and the meaning apparently is that all these openings were square in shape. Nothing is said about the height of the rooms, and as the commentators are not agreed whether there was one story or three, that can obviously be only matter of conjecture. Rawlinson, who thinks of but one hall, with three rows of windows, supposes, after Houbigant, that one row was placed in a wall which ran down the middle of the apartment. Such an arrangement, he observes, was found by Layard at Nimrud.] 1 Kings 6:1), and it was finished in the eleventh year in the month Bul, i.e., the eighth month, so that it was built in seven years, or, more precisely, seven years and a half, "according to all its matters and all its due." בּוּל for יבוּל signifies proventus; בּוּל ירח is therefore the fruit month, the month of tree fruits. The name probably originated with the Phoenicians, with whom the fruit ripened later; and it is said to be found upon the great Sidonian inscription (compare Dietrich on Ges. Lex. s. v.). For the other explanations see Ges. Thes. p. 560. In comparison with other large buildings of antiquity,
(Note: According to Pliny (H. N. 36, c. 14), all Asia was building at the celebrated temple of Diana at Ephesus for 220 years.)
and also of modern times, the work was executed in a very short time. But we must bear in mind that the building was not a very large one, notwithstanding all its splendour; that an unusually large number of workmen were employed upon it; and that the preparation of the materials, more especially the hewing of the stones, took place at Lebanon, and for the most part preceded the laying of the foundation of the temple, so that this is not to be included in the seven years and a half.
Moreover, the period mentioned probably refers to the building of the temple-house and court of the priests only, and to the general arrangement of the outer court, and does not include the completion of the underground works which were necessary to prepare the space required for them, and of which only a portion may have been carried out by Solomon.
(Note: The account given by Josephus of these substructures does not show very clearly how much originated with Solomon, and how much belongs to the following centuries. At the close of his description of Solomon's temple (Ant. viii. 3, 9), he states that, in order to obtain the same level for the ἔξωθεν ἱερόν, i.e., the outer court of the temple, as that of the ναός, he had large valleys filled up, into which it was difficult to look down on account of their depth, by raising the ground to the height of 400 cubits, so as to make them level with the top of the mountain; and in the de Bell. Jud. v. 5, 1, after describing the temple-mountain as a mighty hill, the summit of which hardly sufficed for the temple-house and altar when the building was commenced, because it sloped off on all sides, he adds: "Solomon therefore caused a wall to be raised on the eastern side, and had a porch built upon the ground that was heaped up, and on the other sides the temple (ναός) was naked (γυμνός)." But in the description of the temple of Herod (Ant. xv. 11, 3) he says: "The temple was surrounded by enormous porticos (στοαί), which rested upon a large wall, and were the largest work of which men have ever heard. It was a steep rocky hill, rising gradually towards the eastern part of the city up to the highest point. This hill Solomon surrounded with a wall by very great works up to the very apex, and walled it round, commencing at the root, which is surrounded by a deep ravine, with stones which were fastened together with lead, ... and continuing to the top, so that the size and height of the building, which was completed as a square, were immense," etc. The flat obtained in this manner is then described by Josephus as a περίβολος of four stadia in circumference, namely, one stadium on each side. Now, although it was the outer court of the temple of Herod (the court of the Gentiles) which first had this circumference (see my bibl. Archol. i. pp. 143,144), and Josephus, de Bell. Jud. v. 5, 1, relates that subsequently (τοῖς ἑξῆς αἰῶσιν) the levelling of the hill was carried out to even a greater extent, as the people still continued to heap up earth, it is quite conceivable that Solomon may have planned the area of the temple with this circumference. And this conjecture acquires great probability from the fact that, according to the researches of Robinson (Pal. i. pp. 420ff.; Recent Investigations concerning the Topography of Jerusalem, pp. 68ff.; and Later Biblical Researches, pp. 173ff.), there are layers of enormous square stones in the lowest part of the south-western and south-eastern corners of the present Haram wall, the dimensions of which, apart from the fact that they are hewn with grooved edges, point to an early Israelitish origin, so that they might very well be relics of the Solomonian substructures of the temple-hill. There is also a remnant of the arch of a bridge of the same construction on the southern portion of the western wall of the Haram, which points to a bridge that led across from Moriah to Zion, and "appears to remove all the objections to the identity of this part of the enclosure of the mosque with that of the ancient temple" (Rob. Pal. i. p. 426). "Here then," adds Robinson (Pal. i. pp. 427,428), "we have indisputable remains of Jewish antiquity, consisting of an important portion of the western wall of the ancient temple area. They are probably to be referred to a period long antecedent to the days of Herod; for the labours of this splendour-loving tyrant appear to have been confined to the body of the temple and the porticos around the court. The magnitude of the stones also, and the workmanship, as compared with other remaining monuments of Herod, seem to point to an earlier origin. In the accounts we have of the destruction of the temple by the Chaldaeans, and its rebuilding by Zerubbabel under Darius, no mention is made of these exterior walls. The former temple was destroyed by fire, which would not affect these foundations; nor is it probable that a feeble colony of returning exiles could have accomplished works like these. There seems, therefore, little room for hesitation in referring them back to the days of Solomon, or rather of his successors, who, according to Josephus, built up here immense walls, 'immoveable for all time.' "
But however probable this assumption may be, the successors of Solomon cannot come into consideration at all, since Josephus says nothing of the kind, and the biblical accounts are not favourable to this conjecture. With the division of the kingdom after the death of Solomon the might of the kings of Judah was broken; and the accounts of the new court which Jehoshaphat built, i.e., of the restoration of the inner court (2 Chronicles 20:5), and of the repairs of the temple by Joash (2 Kings 12:5.; 2 Chronicles 24:4.) and Josiah (2 Kings 22:5.; 2 Chronicles 34:8.), do not produce the impression that the walls so costly or so large could have been built at that time. The statement of Josephus (l.c. de Bell. Jud. v. 5, 1) concerning the gradual extension of the levelled hill, has reference to the enlargement of the temple area towards the north, inasmuch as he adds to the words already quoted: "and cutting through the north wall, they took in as much as was afterwards occupied by the circumference of the whole temple." - If, therefore, the remains of the ancient wall which have been mentioned, with their stones of grooved edges, are of early Israelitish origin, we must trace them to Solomon; and this is favoured still further by the fact, that when Solomon had a magnificent palace built for himself opposite to the temple (see 1 Kings 7:1-12), he would assuredly connect the temple-mountain with Zion by a bridge. - Even J. Berggren (Bibel u. Josephus ber Jerus. u. d. heil. Grab.) thinks it probable that "the so-called remains of an arch in the western Haram wall may be, as Robinson at first indicated, a relic of that ancient and marvellous xystus bridge, with which the Davidic steps on the two steep sides of the valley of the Tyropoeum, constructed for the purpose of going from Moriah to Zion or from Zion to Moriah, were connected.")
The importance of the temple is clearly expressed in 1 Kings 8:13, 1 Kings 8:27; 1 Kings 9:3; 2 Chronicles 6:2, and other passages. It was to be a house built as the dwelling-place for Jehovah, a place for His seat for ever; not indeed in any such sense as that the house could contain God within its space, when the heavens of heavens cannot contain Him (1 Kings 8:27), but a house where the name of Jehovah is or dwells (1 Kings 8:16.; 2 Chronicles 6:5; cf. 2 Samuel 7:13, etc.), i.e., where God manifests His presence in a real manner to His people, and shows Himself to them as the covenant God, so that Israel may there worship Him and receive an answer to its prayers. The temple had therefore the same purpose as the tabernacle, whose place it took, and which it resembled in its fundamental form, its proportions, divisions, and furniture. As the glory of the Lord entered into the tabernacle in the cloud, so did it into the temple also at its dedication, to sanctify it as the place of the gracious presence of God (1 Kings 8:10; 2 Chronicles 5:14). The temple thereby became not only a visible pledge of the lasting duration of the covenant, by virtue of which God would dwell among His people, but also a copy of the kingdom of God, which received at its erection an embodiment answering to its existing condition at the time. As the tabernacle, with its resemblance to a nomad's tent, answered to the time when Israel had not yet found rest in the promised land of the Lord; so was the temple, regarded as an immoveable house, a pledge that Israel had not acquired its lasting inheritance in Canaan, and that the kingdom of God on earth had obtained a firm foundation in the midst of it. - This relation between the temple and the tabernacle will serve to explain all the points of difference which present themselves between these two sanctuaries, notwithstanding their agreement in fundamental forms and in all essential particulars. As a house or palace of Jehovah, the temple was not only built of solid and costly materials, with massive walls of square stones, and with floors, ceilings, walls, and doors of cedar, cypress, and olive woods - these almost imperishable kinds of wood - but was also provided with a hall like the palaces of earthly kings, and with side buildings in three stories in which to keep the utensils requisite for a magnificent ceremonial, though care was taken that there adjoining and side buildings were not attached directly to the main building so as to violate the indestructibility and perfectness of the house of God, but merely helped to exalt it and elevate its dignity. And the increased size of the inner rooms, whilst the significant forms and measures of the tabernacle were preserved, was also essentially connected with this. Whereas the length and breadth of the dwelling were doubled, and the height of the whole house tripled, the form of a cube was still retained for the Most Holy Place as the stamp of the perfected kingdom of God (see Comm. on Pent. p. 441), and the space was fixed at twenty cubits in length, breadth, and height. On the other hand, in the case of the Holy Place the sameness of height and breadth were sacrificed to the harmonious proportions of the house or palace, as points of inferior importance; and the measurements were thirty cubits in height, twenty cubits in breadth, and forty cubits in length; so that ten as the number of perfectness was preserved as the standard even here. And in order to exhibit still further the perfectness and glory of the house of God, the walls were not constructed of ordinary quarry-stone, but of large square stones prepared at the quarry, and the walls were panelled within with costly wood after the manner of the palaces of Hither Asia, the panelling being filled with carved work and overlaid with gold plate. And whereas the overlaying of the whole of the interior with gold shadowed forth the glory of the house as the residence of the heavenly King, the idea of this house of God was still more distinctly expressed in the carved work of the walls. In the tabernacle the walls were decorated with tapestries in costly colours and interwoven figures of cherubim; but in the temple they were ornamented with carved work of figures of cherubim, palms, and opening flowers. To the figures of cherubim, as representations of the heavenly spirits which surround the Lord of glory and set forth the psychical life at its highest stage, there are thus added flowers, and still more particularly palms, those "princes of the vegetable kingdom," which, with their fine majestic growth, and their large, fresh, evergreen leaves, unite within themselves the whole of the fulness and glory of the vegetable life; to set forth the sanctuary (probably with special reference to Canaan as the land of palms, and with an allusion to the glory of the King of peace, inasmuch as the palm is not only the sign of Palestine, but also the symbol of peace) "as a place that was ever verdant, abiding in all the freshness of strength, and enfolding within itself the fulness of life," and thereby to make it a scene of health and life, of peace and joy, a "paradise of God," where the righteous who are planted there flourish, and blossom, and bear fruit to old age (Psalm 92:13). And this idea of the house, as an immoveable dwelling-place of God, is in perfect harmony with the setting up of two colossal cherubim in the Most Holy Place, which filled the whole space with their outspread wings, and overshadowed the ark of the covenant, to show that the ark of the covenant with its small golden cherubim upon the Capporeth, which had journeyed with the people through the desert to Canaan, was henceforth to have there a permanent and unchangeable abode.
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