And in the most holy house he made two cherubim of image work, and overlaid them with gold.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Two cherubims.—1Kings 6:23-28. They were made of oleaster, plated with gold.
Of image work.—Literally, a work of statuary. The Hebrew word meaning “statuary” occurs here only, and looks suspicious. The Vulg. renders opere statuario; the LXX. “a work of logs”; the Syriac “a durable work.” With the last three renderings comp. 1Kings 6:23, “wood (or blocks) of oleaster,” a specially hard wood. The rendering of the LXX. suggests that the original reading may have been ma‘asēh ‘ēçîm, “woodwork.”
And overlaid.—Heb., and they overlaid.Of image work; made in the shape of young men or boys, as they commonly are. Or, of movable work; so called because they were not fixed to the mercy-seat, as the Mosaical cherubims were, but stood upon their feet, as it is said here 2 Chronicles 3:13, in a moving posture. And in the most holy house he made two cherubim of image work, and overlaid them with gold.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
10. of image work] Both the meaning of the phrase and the reading are doubtful; LXX. ἔργον ἐκ ξύλων; 1 Kings 6:23, of olive wood (R.V.).
and overlaid] R.V. and they overlaid; but the singular is probably right; LXX. ἐχρύσωσεν: 1 Kings 6:28, and he overlaid.Verse 10. - Image work. The word in the Hebrew text (צַעֲצֻעִים) translated thus in our Authorized Version is a word unknown. Gesenius traces it to "an unused" Hebrew root צוַע, of Arabic derivation (meaning "to carry on the trade of a goldsmith"), and offers to translate it "statuary" work with the Vulgate (opus statuarium). The parallel (1 Kings 6:23) gives simply "wood of oil" (not "olive," Nehemiah 8:15), i.e. the oleaster tree wood. It is obvious that some of the characters of these words would go some way to make the other unknown word. But it must be confessed that our text shows no external indications of a corrupt reading. 2 Chronicles 3:4. The porch which was before (i.e., in front of) the length (of the house), was twenty cubits before the breadth of the house, i.e., was as broad as the house. So understood, the words give an intelligible sense. הארך with the article refers back to הארך in 2 Chronicles 3:3 (the length of the house), and על־פּני in the two defining clauses means "in front;" but in the first clause it is "lying in front of the house," i.e., built in front; in the second it is "measured across the front of the breadth of the house."
(Note: There is consequently no need to alter the text according to 1 Kings 6:3, from which passage Berth. would interpolate the words פּניו על רחבּו בּאמּה ר עשׂר הבּית between על־פּני and הארך, and thereby get the signification: "and the porch which is before the house, ten cubits is its breadth before the same, and the length which is before the breadth twenty cubits." But this conjecture is neither necessary nor probable. It is not necessary, for (1) the present text gives an intelligible sense; (2) the assertion that the length and breadth of the porch must be stated cannot be justified, if for no other reason, for this, that even of the main buildings all three dimensions are not given, only two being stated, and that it was not the purpose of the author of the Chronicle to give an architecturally complete statement, his main anxiety being to supply a general idea of the splendour of the temple. It is not probable; because the chronicler, if he had followed 1 Kings 6:3, would not have written על־פּניו, but הבּית על־פּני, and instead of הארך would have written וערכּי, to correspond with רחבּו.)
There is certainly either a corruption of the text, or a wrong number in the statement of the height of the porch, 120 cubits; for a front 120 cubits high to a house only thirty cubits high could not be called אוּלם; it would have been a מגדּל, a tower. It cannot with certainty be determined whether we should read twenty or thirty cubits; see in 1 Kings 6:3. He overlaid it (the porch) with pure gold; cf. 1 Kings 6:21.
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