1 Kings 8:1
Then Solomon assembled the elders of Israel, and all the heads of the tribes, the chief of the fathers of the children of Israel, to king Solomon in Jerusalem, that they might bring up the ark of the covenant of the LORD out of the city of David, which is Zion.
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(1) The elders.—If in this description—found also in 2Chronicles 5:2, and taken, no doubt, from the original document—“the elders of Israel,” are to be distinguished from the “heads of the tribes,” and not (as in the LXX.) identified with them, the former expression probably refers to the chiefs of official rank, such as the princes and the counsellors of the king, and the latter to the feudal chiefs of the great families of the various tribes. These alone were specially summoned; but as the Dedication festival (being deferred for nearly a year after the completion of the Temple) was blended with the Feast of Tabernacles, “all the men of Israel” naturally “assembled at Jerusalem” without special summons.

1 Kings 8:1. Solomon assembled the elders of Israel — The senators, and judges, and rulers. And all the heads of the tribes — For each tribe had a peculiar head or governor. The chief of the fathers — The principal person of every great Family in each tribe. Unto King Solomon, in Jerusalem — Where the temple was built, and now finished. That they might bring up the ark — With solemn pomp to the top of Moriah, (upon which mountain the temple stood,) in order that by this their attendance they might make a public profession of the respect, obedience, and service which they owed unto that God, who had been graciously and gloriously present with the ark. Out of the city of David, which is Zion — That is, called Zion. Thither David had brought the ark from the house of Obed-Edom, and had made a tabernacle for it, (2 Samuel 6:12; 2 Samuel 6:17,) until a fixed house should be prepared.8:1-11 The bringing in the ark, is the end which must crown the work: this was done with great solemnity. The ark was fixed in the place appointed for its rest in the inner part of the house, whence they expected God to speak to them, even in the most holy place. The staves of the ark were drawn out, so as to direct the high priest to the mercy-seat over the ark, when he went in, once a year, to sprinkle the blood there; so that they continued of use, though there was no longer occasion to carry it by them. The glory of God appearing in a cloud may signify, 1. The darkness of that dispensation, in comparison with the light of the gospel, by which, with open face, we behold, as in a glass, the glory of the Lord. 2. The darkness of our present state, in comparison with the sight of God, which will be the happiness of heaven, where the Divine glory is unveiled.There seems to be a contrast here between the more popular proceedings of David 2 Samuel 6:1, and the statelier system of his son, who merely summons the chief men as representatives of the nation. The rest of the people "assembled themselves" 1 Kings 8:2, and were mere spectators of the solemnity. CHAPTER 8

1Ki 8:1-12. The Dedication of the Temple.The feast of the dedication of the temple; the ark of the covenant with the holy instruments are brought into it; the Lord giveth a token of his presence, 1 Kings 8:1-11. Solomon’s blessing and thanksgiving, 1 Kings 8:12-21. His prayer, 1 Kings 8:22-61. His sacrifice of peace-offerings, 1 Kings 8:62-66.

The elders of Israel; the senators, and judges, and rulers.

The heads of the tribes; for each tribe had a peculiar head or governor.

The chief of the fathers; the chief persons of every great family in each tribe.

Unto king Solomon; unto himself; the antecedent noun being put for the relative and reciprocal pronoun, as is frequent with the Hebrews.

In Jerusalem, where the temple was built, and now finished.

That they might bring up the ark to the top of this hill of Moriah, upon which it was built; whither they were now to carry the ark in a solemn pomp, that by this their attendance they might make a public profession of that service, and respect, and obedience which they owed unto that God who was graciously and gloriously present in the ark.

Out of the city of David, where David had placed the ark, 2 Samuel 6:12,17. See Poole "1 Kings 2:10 3:1".

Which is Zion; which is called Zion, because it was built upon that hill.

Then Solomon assembled the elders of Israel,.... The judges in the several cities, or senators of the great sanhedrim, as others; though it is a question whether as yet there was such a court:

and all the heads of the tribes; the princes of the twelve tribes:

the chief of the fathers of the children of Israel; the principal men of the ancient families in every tribe:

unto King Solomon in Jerusalem; these he summoned together to himself there where the temple was built:

that they might bring up the ark of the covenant of the Lord out of the city of David, which is Zion; whither David brought it, when he had taken that fort, so called, and dwelt in it; and from this mountain Solomon proposed to bring it up to the temple, on a higher mountain, Moriah, not far from one another.

Then Solomon assembled the elders of Israel, and all the heads of the tribes, the chief of the fathers of the children of Israel, unto king Solomon in Jerusalem, that they might {a} bring up the ark of the covenant of the LORD out of the city of David, which is Zion.

(a) For David brought it from Obed-edom, and placed it in the tabernacle which he made for it in 2Sa 6:17.

Ch. 1 Kings 8:1-11. Dedication of the Temple. Bringing up of the ark and the holy vessels. The glory of the Lord fills the house (2 Chronicles 5:2-14)

1. Then Solomon assembled the elders of Israel] The LXX. (Vat.) prefaces this chapter with the words ‘And it came to pass when Solomon had finished building the house of the Lord and his own house after twenty years,’ then &c. These words are from the commencement of chap. 9. where they also recur in the LXX., and the precise time ‘twenty years’ is found mentioned 1 Kings 9:10; 2 Chronicles 8:1. But that the Temple remained undedicated through all the years that Solomon’s house was building is nowhere told us, and is very improbable.

Josephus (Ant. VIII. 4. I) says the king summoned the assembly by a formal document (γράψας).

the chief of the fathers] Better with margin of A.V. and text of R.V. the princes of the fathers’ houses. The persons meant are those who are called Exodus 6:14 ‘heads of their fathers’ houses. In that passage the word for ‘houses’ is expressed, as it is in many other places (cf. especially Numbers 1:16; Numbers 1:18; Numbers 1:20, &c., Numbers 2:2). But the abbreviated form, as here, came into common use (see Numbers 36:1; Joshua 19:51; Joshua 21:1, &c.). The rendering of the full phrase should in these cases be supplied, ‘houses’ being printed in italics.

that they might bring up the ark] Whatever may have been the relative heights of the Temple mount and of Zion, in a religious sense the former would be esteemed the more exalted, and so ‘to bring up’ and ‘to go up’ thither would be the natural modes of expression. Cf. Isaiah 38:22. Besides they would have to descend first from Zion and then to ascend Moriah. On the religious importance and exaltation of Zion cf. Ps. 48:15 seqq.

the city of David which is Zion] See above on 1 Kings 3:1.Verse 1. - Then [i.e., when the work of the house of the Lord was practically ended, as stated in 1 Kings 7:51. But the precise date of the dedication is a matter of dispute and uncertainty. We know that it took place in the seventh month of the year, but of what year we cannot be so sure. Was it the same year in the eighth month of which (1 Kings 6:38) the house was finished (Ewald)? Was the dedication, that is to say, one month anterior to the completion of the house and its appointments? Or are we to understand "the seventh month" to mean the Ethanim of the following year (Bahr)? are we to assign the dedication, that is, to a date eleven months after completion? Or, finally, are we to believe with the Vat. LXX. μετὰ ἔικοσι ἔτη (the LXX. text is here, however, in great confusion), that the temple was not dedicated until the palaces were also built (see 1 Kings 9:1-9); are we to hold, i.e., that though finished and ready for use, it remained unused for a period of thirteen years (Thenius, Keil)? These are questions which we cannot perhaps answer with absolute certainty, but, to my mind, every consideration is in favour of the date first mentioned, i.e., the seventh month of the eleventh year of Solomon's reign. It is true Bahr says that this opinion "needs no refutation," while Keil pronounces it directly at variance with 1 Kings 7:51." But it is worth while to inquire whether this is so? And, first, as to the bearing of the passage just cited, "So was ended all the work which," etc., taken in connexion with 1 Kings 8:1, "Then Solomon assembled," etc. To the cursory reader it appears no doubt as it this "then" must refer to the completion of the work of which we have just heard, and which was not effected until the eighth month of the year (1 Kings 6:38). But

(1) אָז though probably a mark of time ( = tune), is clearly a word of great latitude of meaning, and may apply as well to one month before completion (the time specified in 1 Kings 7:51) as to eleven months after; and

(2) it would be quite consistent with the usus loquendi of the sacred writers to describe the temple as finished, when in reality it was incomplete in a few minor particulars (De minimis non curat scriptura). Further more, if the temple was finished in every detail, and in all its furniture and appointments, in the eighth month, as we learn from 1 Kings 6:38, we may be perfectly sure it would or could be practically finished - finished so as to be ready for consecration - by the seventh month. Indeed, it is not an unreasonable presumption, that it hardly would be perfect and complete on the day of dedication. Those who have built or restored churches, not to speak of cathedrals, which would perhaps afford a closer analogy to the temple, know how extremely difficult, if not impossible, it is to have every detail finished and arranged for the day of consecration. Some few accidental omissions will have to be supplied afterwards, or experience will suggest certain alterations and improvements which have to be made. There is no inherent improbability, therefore, that the temple should be dedicated in the seventh month, though it was not finished לְכָל דְּבָרָיו until the eighth month, i.e., three or four weeks later. And there was a strong reason why the dedication should take place at the earliest possible date. There had been a long period of preparation, extending back into the preceding reign (1 Chronicles 28, 29.); the dedication consequently had long been eagerly looked for; moreover the erection had evidently been hurried forward, a prodigious number of labourers having been employed in order to expedite the work. It is almost inconceivable, therefore, that, after these energetic measures had been taken, either the king or the nation should have been content to wait thirteen years - nearly twice the time it had taken to build the temple - until the palaces, which were entirely independent and secular buildings, were also completed. If the great national sanctuary, which was the glory of the land, was ready for use, as we know it was, we can hardly believe, considering the natural eagerness and impatience of men, that the tribes of Israel, or their ambitious monarch, would, of their own choice, defer the consecration for an indefinite number of years. It would appear consequently that it is the view that the dedication was postponed for thirteen years "hardly needs discussion" (see below on 1 Kings 9:1). And the same considerations apply, though perhaps with diminished force, to their waiting one year. For if it be said that the delay was occasioned by the desire to connect the dedication with the feast of tabernacles, which was par excellence the feast of the year (הֶחָג) the answer is that it is more likely that the work would be hurried on by the employment of additional hands, if need be, or that the edifice would be consecrated, though not complete in all its details, at the feast of the eleventh year, than that, for the sake of one month, they should wait eleven months. And if the objection be raised that a feeling of religious awe would forbid the dedication of an imperfect building, or of a perfect building with imperfect arrangements, it is easy to reply that both building and furniture may have been practically complete, and may have been believed at the time to be perfect, but that the experience of the first few days suggested a few alterations or additions which threw the completion of the work in all its particulars into the eighth month. It is worthy of notice that Josephus distinctly states that the dedication was in the seventh month of the eighth year (Ant. 8:04. 1) ] Solomon assembled [יַקְהֵל. See Ewald, 233 b] the elders of Israel and all the heads of the tribes, the chief [Heb. princes] of the fathers of the children of Israel. [This great assembly (compare Daniel 3:2) can hardly be said to have been suggested to Solomon by the precedent afforded by David (Keil), when bringing up the ark (2 Samuel 6:1), for it was only natural that he should summon the representatives of the people to witness an event of such profound importance in the national history, as the dedication, after years of waiting (2 Samuel 7:6-13), of a national sanctuary intended to supersede the tabernacle, at which for five centuries their forefathers had worshipped. And the more so, as they had been called together by David to con-salt about the erection (1 Chronicles 28:1), and had offered willingly of their treasures (1 Chronicles 29:6-9) towards its decoration. It is inconceivable, therefore, that the temple of the Jews could have been formally opened, except in the presence of the "elders and heads of the tribes." Nor can we (with Rawlinson) see a contrast between the more popular proceedings of David, who "gathered together all the chosen men of Israel, thirty thousand (2 Samuel 6:1), and the statelier, more aristocratic system of his son, who merely summons the chief men;" for Solomon's "eiders," etc. (Deuteronomy 16:18; 1 Samuel 16:4; 1 Samuel 30:26-31), may well have equalled David's "chosen men" in number. It is quite likely that there was more formality and stateliness in this latter ease, but it was practically the same class of persons, i.e., the leading men by birth, talents, or prowess, that were present on both occasions. In fact, it was the Jewish Church by representation] unto King Solomon in Jerusalem, that they might bring up [Heb. to bring up] the ark of the covenant of the Lord [so called because it contained the tables of the covenant which the Lord made with the children of Israel (ver. 9). The temple being really, or principally, a receptacle for the ark, the removal of this venerated relic to its place in the oracle is narrated first, as being of the first importance] out of the city of David, which is Zion. [Cf. 2 Samuel 6:12, 17.] "In the Jordan valley he cast them - in thickened earth between Succoth and Zarthan," where the ground, according to Burckhardt, Syr. ii. p. 593, is marly throughout. האדמה בּמעבה, "by thickening of the earth," the forms being made in the ground by stamping together the clayey soil. Succoth was on the other side of the Jordan, - not, however, at the ford near Bethsean (Thenius), but on the south side of the Jabbok (see at Judges 8:5 and Genesis 33:17). Zarthan or Zereda was in the Jordan valley on this side, probably at Kurn Sartabeh (see at Judges 7:22 and Joshua 3:16). The casting-place must have been on this side of the Jordan, as the (eastern) bank on the other side has scarcely any level ground at all. The circumstance that a place on the other side is mentioned in connection with one on this side, may be explained from the fact that the two places were obliquely opposite to one another, and in the valley on this side there was no large place in the neighbourhood above Zarthan which could be appropriately introduced to define the site of the casting-place.
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