1 Kings 8:3
And all the elders of Israel came, and the priests took up the ark.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(3) The priests took up the ark.—To bear the ark on its journeys was properly the duty of the Levites of the family of Kohath (Numbers 3:31; Numbers 4:5); but to bring it out of the Holy of Holies (or, as here, from whatever corresponded thereto in the tent erected for the ark on Mount Zion), and to replace it therein, was the work of the priests alone. Hence in this passage, with literal accuracy, it is said, first, that “the priests took up the ark;” then (1Kings 8:4) that the priests and Levites brought up the ark and the holy things; and, lastly (1Kings 8:6), that “the priests brought in the ark into the oracle.” Josephus, indeed, declares that, as was natural on this occasion of special solemnity—just as at the passage of the Jordan, and the circuit round the walls of Jericho (Joshua 3:6-17; Joshua 6:6)—the priests themselves bore the ark, while the Levites bore only the vessels and furniture of the Tabernacle.

1 Kings 8:3. The priests took up the ark — The ark had been carried by the priests three times before this; when they went over Jordan; when they encompassed the walls of Jericho; and when David sent it back by Zadok and Abiathar, at the time when he fled from Absalom. It was, however, the office of the Levites to carry the ark, which they did, except upon special occasions, of which this was one. The priests were now appointed to carry it for the greater honour of the solemnity; and because the Levites might not enter into the holy place, much less into the holy of holies, where it was to be placed, into which the priests themselves might not have entered, if the high-priest alone could have done this work without them.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.In 2 Chronicles 5:4, ""the Levites" took up the ark;" and by the Law the ark was the special charge of the Kohathites Numbers 3:31; Numbers 4:15. But all priests were Levites Joshua 3:3, though all Levites were not priests. And as Joshua had done Joshua 3:6; Joshua 6:6, so Solomon called upon the priests to bear the holy structure, allowing to mere Levites only the inferior honor of helping to transport the tabernacle and the vessels of the sanctuary. 2-6. at the feast in the month Ethanim—The public and formal inauguration of this national place of worship did not take place till eleven months after the completion of the edifice. The delay, most probably, originated in Solomon's wish to choose the most fitting opportunity when there should be a general rendezvous of the people in Jerusalem (1Ki 8:2); and that was not till the next year. That was a jubilee year, and he resolved on commencing the solemn ceremonial a few days before the feast of tabernacles, which was the most appropriate of all seasons. That annual festival had been instituted in commemoration of the Israelites dwelling in booths during their stay in the wilderness, as well as of the tabernacle, which was then erected, in which God promised to meet and dwell with His people, sanctifying it with His glory. As the tabernacle was to be superseded by the temple, there was admirable propriety in choosing the feast of tabernacles as the period for dedicating the new place of worship, and praying that the same distinguished privileges might be continued to it in the manifestation of the divine presence and glory. At the time appointed for the inauguration, the king issued orders for all the heads and representatives of the nation to repair to Jerusalem and take part in the august procession [1Ki 8:1]. The lead was taken by the king and elders of the people, whose march must have been slow, as priests were stationed to offer an immense number of sacrifices at various points in the line of road through which the procession was to go. Then came the priests bearing the ark and the tabernacle—the old Mosaic tabernacle which was brought from Gibeon. Lastly, the Levites followed, carrying the vessels and ornaments belonging to the old, for lodgment in the new, house of the Lord. There was a slight deviation in this procedure from the order of march established in the wilderness (Nu 3:31; 4:15); but the spirit of the arrangement was duly observed. The ark was deposited in the oracle; that is, the most holy place, under the wings of the cherubim—not the Mosaic cherubim, which were firmly attached to the ark (Ex 37:7, 8), but those made by Solomon, which were far larger and more expanded. For although the Levites might do this, Numbers 4:15, yet the priests did it at this time, partly for the greater honour of the solemnity, and partly because the Levites might not enter into the holy place, much less into the holy of holies, where it was to be placed, into which the priests themselves might not have entered, if the high priest alone could have done it.

Object. The Levites are said to have done this, 2 Chronicles 5:4.

Answ. That is most true, because all the priests were Levites, though all the Levites were not priests. And all the elders of Israel came,.... To Zion, the city of David:

and the priests took up the ark; from thence; in 2 Chronicles 5:4 it is said the Levites did it, whose business it was, Deuteronomy 31:25, and so the priests might be called; for every priest was a Levite, though every Levite was not a priest, and the priests did at all times bear the ark; see Joshua 3:15.

And all the elders of Israel came, and the priests took up the ark.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
3. all the elders] The other representative persons mentioned in 1 Kings 8:1 are all no doubt to be included in this phrase.

the priests took up the ark] This duty was usually performed by the Levites (cf. Numbers 2:31), but on very solemn occasions the priests undertook it (see Joshua 3:6; Joshua 6:6). At this time it was necessary that they should do so, for the ark was to be brought into the most holy place, whither the Levites (Numbers 4:20) were forbidden to enter. Moreover, the final conveyance of the ark to its special seat was a duty to call for the most sacred of God’s ministers. It is worth while to compare with this passage the statement in 2 Chronicles 5:4. There it is said ‘and the Levites took up the ark,’ and the narrative then continues, stating that the Levites ‘brought up’ the ark, i.e. carried it during the transfer, but before its introduction into the Temple, the phrase changes and we read ‘the priests brought in the ark of the covenant into his place.’Verse 3. - And all the elders of Israel came [Not a mere repetition. The men who were summoned to Jerusalem (ver. 1) were all present, of their own accord, to witness the removal], and the priests took up the ark. tin the parallel account in 2 Chronicles 5:4, we read that "the Levites took up the ark." But there is no contradiction, as has been too readily supposed. For ver. 7 of the Chronicles," the priests brought in the ark," etc., confirms the statement of the text. And the explanation is suggested in ver. 5 of the same chapter, "These did the priests, the Levites (so the Heb.) bring up." Same expression in Joshua 3:3. All the priests were Levites - Keil translates, "the Levitical priests" - and this somewhat singular expression is no doubt used to remind us that such was the case. Nor need it cause us any surprise to find the priests employed in this service. It is true that the ark was given into the charge of the Kohathite Levites (Numbers 3:30, 31); and it was their duty to bear it (Numbers 4:15; Numbers 7:9; Numbers 10:21; cf. 1 Chronicles 15:2, 11, 12). But the real care and supervision of the ark always belonged to the sons of Aaron. It was their office, e.g., to put on or take off the covering of the ark and of the vessels, which the Levites were forbidden directly to touch (Numbers 4:5-15). It was quite in accordance with the spirit of these provisions that Solomon now entrusted the carriage of the ark to the superior order. But more than that, Solomon was not without precedent to justify his choice, indeed, we may see in his selection of the priests a minute mark of truth, amounting almost to an undo-signed coincidence. For we find that on occasions of extraordinary solemnity - at the crossing of the Jordan, e.g., (Joshua 3:6, 15, 17), and at the siege of Jericho (Joshua 6:6), the priests had borne the ark (cf. 1 Samuel 4:4; 1 Chronicles 15:11, 12). It was no doubt these familiar precedents guided Solomon, or the ecclesiastical authorities, in their selection of the priests on this occasion. A "settled place," a "house of cedars" (2 Samuel 7:7), "having now been found for the ark" to abide in, after it had "dwelt in curtains" for 500 years, it was taking its last journey, and in order to mark this journey as exceptional, in order to show both the ark and the house the greater reverence, it was determined that it should be borne for the last time by the priests. Keil suggests that the ark may have been uncovered, but this is very improbable. Why, we may ask, were coverings provided, and their use prescribed (Numbers 4:5-15), if they were to be arbitrarily dispensed with? He also adds that Levites were not allowed to enter the most holy place. But neither, it may be added, was this lawful for the priests. Levites and priests might enter that day, because the house was not then dedicated. The cloud (ver. 10) claimed it for God. The golden vessels of the Holy Place (cf. 2 Chronicles 4:19-22). The vessels enumerated here are divided, by the repetition of סגוּר זהב in 1 Kings 7:49, 1 Kings 7:50, into two classes, which were made of fine gold; and to this a third class is added in 1 Kings 7:50 which was made of gold of inferior purity. As סגוּר זהב is governed in both instances by ויּעשׂ as an accusative of the material, the זהב (gold) attached to the separate vessels must be taken as an adjective. "Solomon made all the vessels in the house of Jehovah (i.e., had them made): the golden altar, and the golden table on which was the shew-bread, and the candlesticks ... of costly gold (סגוּר: see at 1 Kings 6:20). The house of Jehovah is indeed here, as in 1 Kings 7:40, the temple with its courts, and not merely the Holy Place, or the temple-house in the stricter sense; but it by no means follows from this that כּל־הלּלים, "all the vessels," includes both the brazen vessels already enumerated and also the golden vessels mentioned afterwards. A decisive objection to our taking the כּל (all) as referring to those already enumerated as well as those which follow, is to be found in the circumstance that the sentence commencing with ויּעשׂ is only concluded with סגוּר זהב in 1 Kings 7:49. It is evident from this that כּל־הלּלים is particularized in the several vessels enumerated from סגוּר את onwards. These vessels no doubt belonged to the Holy Place or temple-house only; though this is not involved in the expression "the house of Jehovah," but is apparent from the context, or from the fact that all the vessels of the court have already been enumerated in 1 Kings 7:40-46, and were made of brass, whereas the golden vessels follow here. That there were intended for the Holy Place is assumed as well known from the analogy of the tabernacle. יהוה בּית אשׁר merely affirms that the vessels mentioned afterwards belonged to the house of God, and were not prepared for the palace of Solomon or any other earthly purpose. We cannot infer from the expression "Solomon made" that the golden vessels were not made by Hiram the artist, as the brazen ones were (Thenius). Solomon is simply named as the builder of the temple, and the introduction of his name was primarily occasioned by 1 Kings 7:47. The "golden altar" is the altar of incense in the Holy Place, which is called golden because it was overlaid with gold-plate; for, according to 1 Kings 6:20, its sides were covered with cedar wood, after the analogy of the golden altar in the tabernacle (Exodus 30:1-5). "And the table, upon which the shew-bread, of gold." זהב belongs to השּׁלחן, to which it stands in free subjection (vid., Ewald, 287, h), signifying "the golden table." Instead of השּׁלחן we have השּׁלחנות in 2 Chronicles 4:19 (the tables), because there it has already been stated in 2 Chronicles 4:8 that ten tables were made, and put in the Holy Place. In our account that verse is omitted; and hence there is only a notice of the table upon which the loaves of shew-bread generally lay, just as in 2 Chronicles 29:18, in which the chronicler does not contradict himself, as Thenius fancies. The number ten, moreover, is required and proved to be correct in the case of the tables, by the occurrence of the same number in connection with the candlesticks. In no single passage of the Old Testament is it stated that there was only one table of shew-bread in the Holy Place of Solomon's temple.

(Note: Nothing can be learned from 2 Chronicles 29:18 concerning the number of the vessels in the Holy Place. If we were to conclude from this passage that there were no more vessels in the Holy Place than are mentioned there, we should also have to assume, if we would not fall into a most unscientific inconsistency, that there was neither a candlestick nor a golden altar of incense in the Holy Place. The correct meaning of this passage may be gathered from the words of King Abiam in 2 Chronicles 13:11 : "We lay the shew-bread upon the pure table, and light the golden candlestick every evening;" from which it is obvious that here and there only the table and the candlestick are mentioned, because usually only one table had shew-bread upon it, and only one candlestick was lighted.)

The tables were certainly made of wood, like the Mosaic table of shew-bread, probably of cedar wood, and only overlaid with gold (see at Exodus 25:23-30). "And the candlesticks, five on the right and five on the left, before the back-room." These were also made in imitation of the Mosaic candlestick (see Exodus 25:31.), and were probably placed not near to the party wall in a straight line to the right and left of the door leading into the Most Holy Place, but along the two longer sides of the Holy Place; and the same with the tables, except that they stood nearer to the side walls with the candlesticks in front of them, so that the whole space might be lighted more brilliantly. The altar of burnt-offering, on the contrary, stood in front of and very near to the entrance into the Most Holy Place (see at 1 Kings 6:20).

In the following clause (1 Kings 7:49, 1 Kings 7:50) the ornaments of the candlesticks are mentioned first, and then the rest of the smaller golden vessels are enumerated. הפּרח, the flower-work, with which the candlesticks were ornamented (see Exodus 25:33). The word is evidently used collectively here, so that the גּביעים mentioned along with them in the book of Exodus (l.c.) are included. הגּרת, the lamps, which were placed upon the shaft and arms of the candlestick (Exodus 25:37). המּלקחים, the snuffers (Exodus 25:38). ספּות, basins in Exodus 12:22, here probably deep dishes (Schalen). מזמּרות, knives. מזרקות, bowls (Schalen) or cans with spouts for the wine for the libations; according to 2 Chronicles 4:8, there were a hundred of these made. כּפּות, small flat vessels, probably for carrying the incense to the altar. מחתּות, extinguishers; see at Exodus 25:38.

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