2 Chronicles 4:3
And under it was the similitude of oxen, which did compass it round about: ten in a cubit, compassing the sea round about. Two rows of oxen were cast, when it was cast.
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(3) And under it was the similitude of oxen.—Literally, And a likeness of oxen (figured oxen) under it around surrounding it, ten in the cubit encompassing the sea around: two rows were the oxen, smelted in the smelting of it. In the parallel passage (1Kings 7:24) we read: And wild gourds underneath its lip around surrounding it,” &c., as here; two of rows were the gourds, smelted in the smelting thereof. The Hebrew words for “oxen” and “gourds” might easily be confused by a transcriber, and accordingly it is assumed by most commentators that the text of the chronicler has suffered corruption, and should be restored from that of Kings. But there seems no reason—unless we suppose that each writer has given an exhaustive description, which is clearly not the case—why the ornamental rows which ran round the great basin should not have included both features, small figures of oxen, as well as wild gourds. Reuss objects on the ground of the diminutive size of the axon (“ten in a cubit”); but such work was by no means beyond the resources of ancient art. (Comp. the reliefs on the bronze doors of Shalmaneser 11. (859-825 B.C. ); 1Kings 7:29 actually gives an analogous instance.) The word pĕqā’îm, “wild gourds,” only occurs in one other place of Kings, viz., 1Kings 6:18. (Comp. paqqû‘ôth, 2Kings 4:39.) A copyist of Kings might nave inadvertently repeated the word from the former passage in 1Kings 7:24. In any case it is sheer dogmatism to assert that “the copyists (in the Chronicle) have absurdly changed the gourds into oxen” (Reuss). The Syriac and Arabic omit this verse; but the LXX. and Vulg. have it.

4:1-22 The furniture of the temple. - Here is a further account of the furniture of God's house. Both without doors and within, there was that which typified the grace of the gospel, and shadowed out good things to come, of which the substance is Christ. There was the brazen altar. The making of this was not mentioned in the book of Kings. On this all the sacrifices were offered, and it sanctified the gift. The people who worshipped in the courts might see the sacrifices burned. They might thus be led to consider the great Sacrifice, to be offered in the fulness of time, to take away sin, and put an end to death, which the blood of bulls and goats could not possibly do. And, with the smoke of the sacrifices, their hearts might ascend to heaven, in holy desires towards God and his favour. In all our devotions we must keep the eye of faith fixed upon Christ. The furniture of the temple, compared with that of the tabernacle, showed that God's church would be enlarged, and his worshippers multiplied. Blessed be God, there is enough in Christ for all.For "oxen" we find in 1 Kings 7:24, "knops" or "gourds." An early copyist, not comprehending the comparatively rare word here used for "gourd," and expecting to hear of oxen, as soon as the molten sea was mentioned, changed the reading. 3. Two rows of oxen were cast, when it was cast—The meaning is, that the circular basin and the brazen oxen which supported it were all of one piece, being cast in one and the same mould. There is a difference in the accounts given of the capacity of this basin, for while in 1Ki 7:26 it is said that two thousand baths of water could be contained in it, in this passage no less than three thousand are stated. It has been suggested that there is here a statement not merely of the quantity of water which the basin held, but that also which was necessary to work it, to keep it flowing as a fountain; that which was required to fill both it and its accompaniments. In support of this view, it may be remarked that different words are employed: the one in 1Ki 7:26 rendered contained; the two here rendered, received and held. There was a difference between receiving and holding. When the basin played as a fountain, and all its parts were filled for that purpose, the latter, together with the sea itself, received three thousand baths; but the sea exclusively held only two thousand baths, when its contents were restricted to those of the circular basin. It received and held three thousand baths [Calmet, Fragments]. No text from Poole on this verse.

See Introduction to Chapter 4 And under {b} it was the similitude of oxen, which did compass it round about: {c} ten in a cubit, compassing the sea round about. Two rows of oxen were cast, when it was cast.

(b) Meaning, under the brim of the sea, 1Ki 7:24.

(c) In the length of every cubit were ten heads or knops which in all are 300.

3. under it was the similitude of oxen] This reading has the support of the LXX., but can hardly be correct. Read (cp. 1 Kings 7:24), under it there were knops, “knops” being embossed ornaments of some kind.

ten in a cubit] R.V. for ten cubits. According to the A.V. there would be ten “knops” in every eighteen inches of the circumference, but the Hebrew is more correctly represented by the R.V. Probably there is some corruption of the text here (and in 1 Kings 7:24).

Two rows of oxen were cast, when it was cast] Correct the reading as before and render, The knops were in two rows, cast when it was cast. It is mentioned as a triumph of the founder’s art that the laver was cast complete, with its ornaments from the first.

Verse 3. - The similitude of oxen. The parallel gives simply "knops" (i.e. flower-buds) in the room of this expression, and no word "similitude" at all, the characters spelling the word for "knops" being פְּקָעִים, and those for "oxen" being בְּקָרִים. The presence of the word "similitude" strongly suggests that the circles of decoration under description showed the likenesses of oxen, not necessarily (as Patrick) "stamped" on the so-called knops, but possibly constituting them. For the ambiguous under it of our present verse the parallel says with definiteness, "under the brim of it." There is intelligibility, at all events, in the ornamentation being of these miniature oxen, presumably three hundred in the circle of the thirty cubits. The symbolism would harmonize with that which dictated the superposition of the enormous vase on twelve probably life-size oxen. There is a general preference, however, accorded to the opinion that the present text has probably been the result of some copyist's corruption, and that the text of the parallel should be followed. 2 Chronicles 4:3The brazen sea described as in 1 Kings 7:23-26. See the commentary on that passage, and the sketch in my Archaeol. i. plate iii. fig. 1. The differences in substance, such as the occurrence of בּקרים and הבּקר, 2 Chronicles 4:3, instead of פּקעים and הפּקים, and 3000 baths instead of 2000, are probably the result of orthographical errors in the Chronicle. יכיל in 2 Chronicles 4:5 appears superfluous after the preceding מחזיק, and Berth. considers it a gloss which has come from 1 Kings to our text by mistake. But the expression is only pleonastic: "receiving baths, 3000 it held;" and there is no sufficient reason to strike out the words.
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