Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
And it came to pass in the four hundred and eightieth year after the children of Israel were come out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon's reign over Israel, in the month Zif, which is the second month, that he began to build the house of the LORD.Ch. 1 Kings 6:1-10. Commencement and dimensions of Solomon’s Temple (2 Chronicles 3:1-2)
1. in the four hundred and eightieth year, &c.] It is impossible to discover how this date is arrived at, or to make it fit in with other statements of the Old and New Testament. The LXX. has ‘the four hundred and fortieth year’, and Josephus ‘the five hundred and ninety second.’ If we put together the numbers which we find in the Old Testament record, we have 40 years between the Exodus and the death of Moses, 40 years peace after Othniel, 80 after Ehud; Jabin’s oppression lasted 20 years, there were 40 years of peace after Barak, 40 in Gideon’s time: Tola judged the land 23 years, Jair 22, Jephthah 6, Ibzan 7, Elon 10, Abdon 8: the servitude to the Philistines lasted 40 years, and Samson judged 20 years. After this we have as dates Eli 40 years, Samuel 20 (1 Samuel 7:2) at least, David 40, Solomon 4. These make a total of 498. But we cannot be sure that some of these judgeships were not contemporary with or overlapping one another, while there is no time specified for the duration of Joshua’s leadership, and for the events between his death and the judgeship of Othniel, nor yet again for the reign of Saul. So that it is utterly hopeless to settle any chronology under such circumstances. Moreover the frequent occurrence of the round number 40 gives the impression that no attempt has been made to fix accurate dates for any of the periods mentioned. Then in Jdg 11:26 we read that from the conquest of Gilead down to the time of Jephthah was 300 years. Taking the other dates in sequence this would make the period in the text consist of 529 years without counting the length of Saul’s reign. Once more (Acts 13:20) according to the Text. Rec. there elapsed, between the partition of the land under Joshua and the days of Samuel, a period of 450 years. Adding to this the other numbers and 40 years for the reign of Saul, according to the chronology which St Paul used, we reach a total of 554. But we have no data whereby to confirm or contradict any of these totals.
It is most likely that the 440 years of the LXX. was arrived at by adding together the years assigned to the several judges and omitting the other events, the oppression of Jabin, and of the Philistines. This makes a total 206 years, which with 40 years for the sojourn in the desert, and 104 between Eli and the 4th year of Solomon brings the total to 440.
Origen on John 2:20 quotes from this verse and omits the words which refer to the time between the Exodus and the building of the Temple. Yet as these words are represented in the LXX. but would have given no point to Origen’s comment, it appears more probable that he omitted them on purpose, than that, since his day, these words have been added to the Massoretic text.
in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign] This accounts for the mention in the LXX., at the end of the last chapter, that they spent three years in preparing the stone and timber.
in the month Zif] This name for the month is found only here and in 1 Kings 6:37 below. So that it appears not to have been the usual one. The word means ‘brightness’, ‘splendour’, and the Targum explains it of ‘the bloom of flowers’ at the time. It is said to have been between the new moon of May and that of June, though some place it a month earlier. A later name, Iyar, for the second month is found in the Targum on 2 Chronicles 30:2, and Josephus (Ant. viii. 3. 1) gives it as Ἰάρ here.
he began to build] This is a translation required by the sense. The Hebrew says simply ‘he built.’ In 2 Chronicles 3:1, the Hebrew is expressly ‘he began to build.’ Hence the rendering here.
And the house which king Solomon built for the LORD, the length thereof was threescore cubits, and the breadth thereof twenty cubits, and the height thereof thirty cubits.2. the length thereof was threescore cubits] In dimension the Temple was twice the size of the Tabernacle. The latter was 30 cubits long, 10 cubits wide and 15 cubits high in the holy place. See Fergusson’s Temples of the Jews, p. 16. Mr Fergusson, speaking of the length of the cubit says, ‘we find that a cubit of 18 English inches meets all the difficulties of the case with as much accuracy as can be obtained.’ We see then that the Temple, exclusive of the rooms by which it was surrounded, was but a very small building, 90 feet long, 30 feet broad, and 45 feet high in its loftiest portion, and the Tabernacle only half that size. Neither building was meant to contain the worshippers. The priests went in, while the multitude remained outside (cf. Luke 1:9-10).
An interesting paper on Solomon’s Temple, by Mr E. C. Robins, F.S.A., will be found in ‘The Builder’ of Jan. 9 and 16, 1886.
It appears from 1 Kings 6:27 below, where the wings of the cherubim touch each other and also touch the walls of the most holy place, that the measures mentioned in this account of the Temple are measures of the interior, and that allowance must be made for the thickness of the outside walls in any calculation of the size of the building.
And the porch before the temple of the house, twenty cubits was the length thereof, according to the breadth of the house; and ten cubits was the breadth thereof before the house.3. the porch] This extended along the whole face of the building, and projected forward 10 cubits, thus making the whole length of the structure 70 cubits or 105 feet, without allowing for the thickness of outside or party walls. The height of this porch is said (2 Chronicles 3:4) to have been 120 cubits. This height = 180 ft. is out of proportion to the other dimensions, and Mr Robins suggests that, after his manner, the Chronicler has added together the 4 dimensions in height of the 4 sides of the porch, and that the true height was 30 cubits. That the Chronicler does put down his numbers in this strange fashion is shewn from 2 Chronicles 3:11, where he first writes ‘the wings of the cherubim were twenty cubits long.’ He afterwards explains that he means each of the 4 wings was 5 cubits long, but left alone the first statement would be misleading. In the same manner the pillars which in 1 Kings 7:15; Jeremiah 52:17 are said to be each 18 cubits high, are described in 2 Chronicles 3:15 as ‘two pillars of thirty and five cubits high’. Where it is suggested that the two heights given in Kings are added together.
the temple of the house] This means the holy place. Cf. below 1 Kings 6:17, where it is called ‘the temple before the oracle.’ The ‘oracle’ is the special name for the most holy place.
And for the house he made windows of narrow lights.4. windows of narrow lights] It is not easy to explain the nature of these windows from the words used to describe them. They were apparently windows made by overlaid woodwork, either in the fashion of sloping louvre boards or fashioned like latticework crosswise. Then the last word indicates that they were closed in some way or other. Hence the margins of the A.V. ‘windows broad within and narrow without’ or ‘skewed and closed.’ The former of these margins the R.V. has preserved, but gives in the text windows of fixed latticework, taking the word ‘closed’ to imply the permanent nature of the woodwork in the apertures. These windows were in the wall, above the roof of the chambers which are described in the next verse, and must have been of the nature of the clerestory windows which overlook the aisles of a church. There could have been only very little light from them, but the building was lighted artificially.
And against the wall of the house he built chambers round about, against the walls of the house round about, both of the temple and of the oracle: and he made chambers round about:5. And against the wall of the house he built chambers] The A. V. points out by its margin that the word here translated ‘chambers’ is not the same as that so rendered in the latter part of the verse. For the former it gives ‘floors’ as an alternative, for the latter ‘ribs.’ The first seems to embrace the whole structure and the latter to describe single rows of the same. What Solomon erected was three stories (as given by R.V.) of small chambers running all round two sides and one end of the Temple. The floors of these were supported on the stone work of the main building in the way described in the next verse, but were not let into the Temple-building. That wall was intact. The R.V. gives he built stories round about. Of this environment of chambers the Chronicler makes no mention.
both of the temple and of the oracle] i.e. Of the holy place and of the most holy place. The whole erection was enclosed on three sides in a casework of chambers.
and he made chambers round about] The R.V. has side chambers. This word seems to refer to the several floors one above another which formed this casework of chambers. There were three stories, each five cubits high. The Scripture record does not tell us into how many chambers each floor was divided. Josephus says there were thirty in all, he also states that they were reached by going through one to another, καὶ τὰς εἰσόδους αὐτοῖς διʼ ἀλλήλων κατεσκεύασεν.
The nethermost chamber was five cubits broad, and the middle was six cubits broad, and the third was seven cubits broad: for without in the wall of the house he made narrowed rests round about, that the beams should not be fastened in the walls of the house.6. The nethermost chamber (R.V. story) was five cubits broad] This is the space between the wall of the Temple and the outer wall of the enclosing structure. The wall of the Temple must have been very thick at the bottom, for at the height of five cubits a ledge was made of one cubit wide on which to rest the floor work of the middle chambers. Then after five cubits more, a similar ledge received the floor-beams of the third story, and then at the height of 15 cubits came a third ledge, or rebatement, on which the beams of the roof of the uppermost story were to be supported. The wall of the Temple (i.e. the holy place) then rose 15 cubits more, and in this space were the windows. If we allow two cubits for the thickness of this upper part of the wall, the foot of the Temple wall must have been five cubits thick. Each story of the side chambers was one cubit more in width than the one below it.
for without in the wall of the house he made narrowed rests round about] R.V. for on the outside he made rebatements in the wall of the house. ‘Rebatements’ is taken from the margin of the A.V., and is the technical word for these shoulders in the wall of the Temple on which the floors and roof of each story were to rest with one end, while the other end was built into the outer wall of this encircling frame of chambers.
that the beams should not be fastened] R.V. should not have hold. The Temple building was more sacred than these chambers, which were meant for the use, or habitation of the priests. Hence there must be no breach made in the wall of either the holy place or of the most holy place. We read of ‘a chamber’ attached to the Temple (the Hebrew word is not the same as is used here) in the account of Tobiah (Nehemiah 13:5). The use of it had been for storing the meat-offerings, frankincense, the sacred vessels and the tithes-in-kind which were given to the Levites. We have ‘chambers’ in the house of the Lord also noticed in Jeremiah 36:10; Jeremiah 36:20. These seem to have been used as dwelling-rooms.
And the house, when it was in building, was built of stone made ready before it was brought thither: so that there was neither hammer nor axe nor any tool of iron heard in the house, while it was in building.7. stone made ready before it was brought thither] The R.V. renders made ready at the quarry with a margin on the last three words ‘when it was brought away.’ The final Hebrew word מַסָּע on which the various reading is given is from the root of the verb rendered doubly in 1 Kings 6:17 ‘to hew’ or ‘to bring away.’ The best authorities incline to make it a noun signifying ‘the place of hewing,’ ‘the stonequarry.’ The LXX. gives λίθοις ἀκροτόμοις, which implies that the stones were made of their necessary shape at the quarry. The idea of this preparation at a distance, so that there might be as little noise as possible while the building was in progress, was probably derived from the command (Exodus 20:25; Deuteronomy 27:5) that no iron tool should be used in the erection of the altar. This previous exact preparation must have made the transport a matter of serious care.
On the Jewish fables about the worm ‘Shamir’ by which Solomon caused the stones to be cut, see Buxtorf, Lex. Chald. p. 2455 s.v. שׁמיר.
The door for the middle chamber was in the right side of the house: and they went up with winding stairs into the middle chamber, and out of the middle into the third.8. The door for the middle chamber] R.V. middle side-chambers. The LXX. and Targum here give ‘lowest’ instead of ‘middle;’ doubtless because otherwise there is no mode of access to the lower side-chambers specified. The manner of reaching the middle story is sufficiently indicated in the next clause. On the contrary the compiler of Kings may have considered that there was no need to mention any entrance to the lower row of chambers. That would be a matter of course, and there may have been more than one, but the place and way of reaching the other two flights of rooms did need notice. There may also have been some access from the lowest side chambers into the Temple, if these chambers were used for storing the sacred oil and other provisions for the service.
in the right side of the house] The word rendered ‘side’ is literally shoulder, and may indicate that part of the building nearest the porch, which would be considered the face of the Temple.
So he built the house, and finished it; and covered the house with beams and boards of cedar.9. So he built the house] i.e. The Temple building. The next verse speaks of the enclosing framework of chambers. What was now finished was the portion for divine service.
and covered the house] i.e. Made the roof for it. On this roof, see Fergusson, Temples of the Jews, pp. 19 seqq., where the author shews that the covering of the Tabernacle was made with a ridge and sloped to both sides, and that the cedar beams and boards (R.V. planks) spoken of in this verse were to imitate, as nearly as could be done in wood, the Tabernacle roof. Mr Fergusson has suggested (p. 28) that there were most probably pillars inside the Temple to support the beams of the roof. ‘No cedar beams that were available could be laid across an opening 30 feet free without sagging to an unpleasant extent.’
And then he built chambers against all the house, five cubits high: and they rested on the house with timber of cedar.10. And then he built chambers against all the house, five cubits high] Better with R.V. ‘And he built the stories against all the house, each five cubits high.’ We ought perhaps to make some allowance for the thickness of floors and roofs. So that the whole height to which this three-storied structure rose may have been much more than 15 cubits, if five cubits were the inside height of each range of rooms. Mr Fergusson (p. 27) says ‘It hardly admits of dispute that with the requisite thickness of their roofs they make up the 20 or 21 cubits which are necessary to bring up their roofs to the level of that of the Holy of Holies.’
they rested on the house] i.e. On the shoulders or rebatements mentioned in 1 Kings 6:6. The other ends of these cedar beams were embedded in the outside wall of the encasing story-work.
And the word of the LORD came to Solomon, saying,11–13. God’s promise to Solomon and to the people of Israel (Not in Chronicles)
11. And the word of the Lord came] The LXX. (Vat.) omits these three verses, as if intending to bring the whole narrative of the building into closer connexion.
We are not told by what means this divine communication was made, whether in a vision, or through Nathan the prophet, as the original message came to David (2 Samuel 7:4). It is a message in the genuine prophetic spirit. The Temple has no value of its own, except so far as it is the sign and witness of obedience to Jehovah.
Concerning this house which thou art in building, if thou wilt walk in my statutes, and execute my judgments, and keep all my commandments to walk in them; then will I perform my word with thee, which I spake unto David thy father:12. which thou art in building] It is clear from this that the message came before the completion of the house, and that this is the proper place for its mention, from whatever source the compiler drew it.
I will perform my word] R.V. ‘I will establish.’ See above on 1 Kings 2:4. which I spake unto David] See 2 Samuel 7:12-17.
And I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will not forsake my people Israel.13. and I will dwell among the children of Israel] This is an expansion of the promise made to David. The same words are used (Exodus 29:45) in connexion with the furnishing and completion of the tabernacle. As God’s presence in both Tabernacle and Temple was to point on to the Incarnation, the fitness of the phrase on both occasions is manifest.
and will not forsake my people Israel] The threat that God would do so, if Israel were disobedient, is found Deuteronomy 31:17.
So Solomon built the house, and finished it.14–22. Particulars of the interior fittings of the holy place, and of the most holy place (2 Chronicles 3:5-9)
14. So Solomon built the house] This verse resumes the narrative of 1 Kings 6:9.
And he built the walls of the house within with boards of cedar, both the floor of the house, and the walls of the cieling: and he covered them on the inside with wood, and covered the floor of the house with planks of fir.15. And he built] The Hebrew uses the same word for the erection of the stone structure and for the work described in this verse, which was to fit the house with a wainscot of cedar.
both the floor of the house, and the walls of the cieling] More literally, and better, with R.V., ‘from the floor of the house unto the walls of the cieling.’ The expression means from top to bottom, but ‘the walls of the cieling’ is a singular description of that portion of the wall which touches the cieling. The difference between the Hebrew word for ‘walls’ קירות and for ‘beams’ קורות is so slight that we can hardly help accepting the reading of the LXX. in the next verse, and apparently here too, of ‘beams.’
and he covered them] It is better to omit the conjunction for which, as A.V. indicates, there is no Hebrew, and join with the previous clause, ‘from the floor of the house to the walls (beams?) of the cieling he covered them &c.’
Thus the whole sides, roof and floors on the inside were of wood.
And he built twenty cubits on the sides of the house, both the floor and the walls with boards of cedar: he even built them for it within, even for the oracle, even for the most holy place.16. And he built twenty cubits on the sides of the house] This rendering does not make very clear what is intended. The word translated ‘sides’ is often used for the innermost part of anything, as of a cave (1 Samuel 24:4), and of the recesses of a forest, as Lebanon (Isaiah 37:24). So here it signifies the innermost part of the Temple building as you looked from the porch, i.e. toward the farthest wall of the most holy place. The sense then becomes more manifest. He built at twenty cubits from this extreme end something with boards of cedar. Thus he made a separation of the most holy place, which was twenty cubits long, from the holy place. The R.V. gives this more clearly: ‘He built twenty cubits on the hinder part of the house’ with boards of cedar from the floor unto the walls (‘beams’ LXX.), i.e. these twenty cubits were thus shut off and made into a separate room (cf. 2 Chronicles 3:8). There was a doorway for access in this cedarwood partition (see 1 Kings 6:31), and before this probably were put the ‘chains of gold’ spoken of in 1 Kings 6:21. From 2 Chronicles 3:14 it seems that there was a vail in front of the whole of this woodwork, though no mention of it is made here.
It is very difficult to come to a clear idea about the room here provided. It seems certain that it was enclosed on three sides by the chambers built round about, so that there could have been no windows in it, nor any mode of escape for the smoke of the incense, except by openings under the eaves. It appears not to have been as high as the roof of the ‘holy place’. We must remember that it was to be entered by one person only, and that but once a year.
he even built them for it within] i.e. He prepared this space of twenty cubits in the innermost part of the house, to be a separate room.
even for the oracle] The Hebrew says merely ‘for an oracle.’ This name for the most holy place is taken from the Vulgate ‘oraculum.’ The LXX. merely transliterates the Hebrew δαβίρ. The word is connected with the verb דבר (davar), usually rendered ‘to speak,’ and hence the notion of ‘oracle’ as the place where God revealed Himself. So Aquila and Symmachus rendered it sometimes by χρηματιστήριον, and Jerome gives λαλητήριον as an explanation. But the root, or its Arabic cognate, has a sense from which the meaning ‘hinder portion’ might come. Hence some consider the name merely as signifying the innermost part of the Temple building.
the most holy place] Described in the same words in the account of the Tabernacle (Exodus 26:33-34; Numbers 4:4; Numbers 4:19).
And the house, that is, the temple before it, was forty cubits long.17. And the house] Here signifying the holy place, which was in front of the oracle. The word which in this verse is rendered ‘before it’ is an adjective, and this form is found only here. It qualifies the noun ‘Temple,’ and signifies ‘that which is in front,’ viz. of the oracle.
And the cedar of the house within was carved with knops and open flowers: all was cedar; there was no stone seen.18. And the cedar of the house within] Better more literally, with R.V. ‘And there was cedar upon the house within.’ He is now describing the wainscot of the holy place.
carved with knops] There is a feminine form of the word here rendered ‘knops,’ which in 2 Kings 4:39 is used of ‘wild gourds.’ Hence ‘gourds’ is put on the margin of A.V. and R.V. The ornaments were in relief, and were perhaps somewhat of that shape. The Targum describes them as ‘egg-shaped.’ The Vat. LXX. (not Alex.) omits the verse altogether.
And the oracle he prepared in the house within, to set there the ark of the covenant of the LORD.19. And the oracle, &c.] Read, ‘And he prepared an oracle.’
to set there the ark of the covenant of the Lord] Which was at present in the city of David. See 1 Kings 3:15 note.
And the oracle in the forepart was twenty cubits in length, and twenty cubits in breadth, and twenty cubits in the height thereof: and he overlaid it with pure gold; and so covered the altar which was of cedar.20. the oracle in the fore-part] The two words thus rendered would, if they stood alone, be rendered ‘before the oracle.’ In this verse, however, this cannot be the meaning. But in standing before such a room as is here described, it is in front of you, and you see the interior. In this way ‘before the oracle’ may be taken to indicate what is seen when you stand there. Hence we may arrive at the sense in the R.V. ‘within the oracle was a space &c.’ It is difficult to assign any meaning to the A.V., and it may be that some error has crept into the text.
Some have preferred to render literally thus, ‘And before the oracle—twenty cubits was it in length, and twenty cubits in breadth, and twenty cubits in the height thereof, and he overlaid it with pure gold—he overlaid also the altar with cedar.’ But the accents of the Hebrew do not favour such a parenthetic clause, and the last sentence is very awkward.
The LXX. (Vat.) omits at the beginning of the verse ‘before the oracle,’ then takes the next sentences as a specification of the size of the oracle, and makes an addition to the last clause thus, ‘and he made an altar before the oracle and overlaid it with gold,’ making no mention of the cedar at all. Most probably this represents the correct text.
and so covered the altar which was of cedar] We cannot, in the face of the preceding clause, translate otherwise than and he covered an altar with cedar. The construction in the two cases is identical. But then arises a difficulty. The altar in question was the altar of incense in the holy place. This stood in front of the vail which separated the most holy place (see Exodus 40:5; Exodus 40:26), and in Ezekiel 41:22 it is called ‘the altar of wood’ (cf. Exodus 30:1-6). From the description in the verse before us there must have been some substance underneath the wood. The LXX. (Alex.) solves the difficulty by reading ‘and he made’ for ‘and he covered,’ i.e. ויעשׂ for ויצף, καὶ ἐποίησε θυσιαστήριον κέδρου.
So Solomon overlaid the house within with pure gold: and he made a partition by the chains of gold before the oracle; and he overlaid it with gold.21. with pure gold] The adjective, or rather participle, as it is in Hebrew, signifies ‘closed,’ ‘shut up.’ The traditional rendering is that of the text, supported by the Chaldee, the Vulgate and Kimchi; but it is not clear how the sense comes, unless we may take it, as the notes of the Synod of Dort, that what was precious was usually kept close. The amount of gold employed is given in 2 Chronicles 3:8 as six hundred talents.
and he made a partition by the chains of gold] Render with R.V. and he drew across chains of gold. The words literally signify ‘he caused to pass over with chains,’ i.e. he made with chains of gold something that went across either the whole of the dividing wall or over the doorway which was made therein. From 2 Chronicles 3:5; 2 Chronicles 3:16 it seems as if chains had been used for ornamentation on other parts of the walls and pillars. The LXX. (Alex.) renders ‘he drew a curtain across by means of chains of gold.’
and he overlaid it with gold] Now that a more literal sense has been given to the previous clause, and the word ‘partition’ got rid of, there is nothing for the ‘it’ in this sentence to refer to. As the clause stands, the word must refer to the oracle. Thus in the beginning of the verse ‘the house within’ will refer to the holy place, and this last clause to the most holy place. This is further emphasized by the words which immediately follow in 21. ‘And the whole house he overlaid.’
And the whole house he overlaid with gold, until he had finished all the house: also the whole altar that was by the oracle he overlaid with gold.22. the whole altar that was by the oracle] The preposition is not significant of position, but of possession. Read ‘the whole altar that belonged to the oracle.’ The priest who offered incense continually on this altar in the holy place could not enter the most holy place, but the altar on which the offering was made, though standing without, was looked upon as a part of the more sacred portion of the building, and placed close to the dividing wall.
And within the oracle he made two cherubims of olive tree, each ten cubits high.23–30. Of the Cherubim within the oracle (2 Chronicles 3:10-12)
23. And within the oracle he made two cherubims] As the Hebrew word is already in the plural form, write cherubim. These cherubim were winged figures intended to represent some holy and heavenly form. They are first mentioned in Genesis 3:24, where some have thought that ‘the flame of a sword’ spoken of in connexion with them implies that the cherubim were aimed with this weapon. But this is not certainly to be deduced from the words. In 2 Chronicles 3:13 they are said to stand upon their feet, while the descriptions in Ezekiel (chapp. 1 and 10) make them to have four faces. (Cf. also Exodus 25:18-22). Their chief office in Scripture is to be a chariot for Jehovah (Psalm 18:11), and for this reason they were set up in the most holy place, where the divine presence was to manifest itself. Hence of God it is frequently said ‘who dwelleth’ or ‘sitteth upon the cherubim.’
And five cubits was the one wing of the cherub, and five cubits the other wing of the cherub: from the uttermost part of the one wing unto the uttermost part of the other were ten cubits.
And the other cherub was ten cubits: both the cherubims were of one measure and one size.25. one size] Rather ‘one form.’ The size is implied in the previous word.
The height of the one cherub was ten cubits, and so was it of the other cherub.
And he set the cherubims within the inner house: and they stretched forth the wings of the cherubims, so that the wing of the one touched the one wall, and the wing of the other cherub touched the other wall; and their wings touched one another in the midst of the house.27. And they stretched forth the wings of the cherubims] Which is the frequent Hebrew form of expressing the cherubim stretched forth their wings. So R.V. On the way in which these cherubim were placed see below on 1 Kings 8:6. It would seem as if in Solomon’s Temple the cherubim did not face one another, as they are expressly said to have done in the Mosaic tabernacle (Exodus 25:20).
And he overlaid the cherubims with gold.
And he carved all the walls of the house round about with carved figures of cherubims and palm trees and open flowers, within and without.29. within and without] Both here and in the next verse these words can only refer to the inner and outer rooms, the most holy place and the holy place.
And the floor of the house he overlaid with gold, within and without.
And for the entering of the oracle he made doors of olive tree: the lintel and side posts were a fifth part of the wall.31–36. The doors for the oracle and for the Temple. The building of the inner court (Not in Chronicles)
31. the lintel and side posts] There is no conjunction between these words, and the former seems from other places in O. T. to apply to the whole framework in which the doors were fixed, the latter is used regularly of the part to which the hinges were attached. The idea meant to be conveyed here is of the whole structure of the doorway, the framework with its posts.
were a fifth part of the wall] The expansion indicated by the italics of A. V. is no doubt correct both here and in 1 Kings 6:33. As the partition wall of the oracle was 20 cubits in height and the same in breadth the opening filled by the framework of the doorway would be 4 cubits high by 4 cubits broad.
The two doors also were of olive tree; and he carved upon them carvings of cherubims and palm trees and open flowers, and overlaid them with gold, and spread gold upon the cherubims, and upon the palm trees.32. The two doors also were] As there is nothing to make the noun here definite, it is better to understand the verb ‘he made.’ Render ‘so he made two doors of olive-wood.’
and spread gold] Better, and made necessary by the text, ‘and he spread the gold.’ Here a different process is described. The walls and floors were covered with flat plates of gold nailed on (see 2 Chronicles 3:9), but to cover the carved work the gold must be beaten to fit. The verb employed here gives the idea of pressure exerted to force the metal into the needful shapes.
So also made he for the door of the temple posts of olive tree, a fourth part of the wall.33. for the door of the temple] The word translated ‘door’ is the same which is rendered entering in 1 Kings 6:31. (So R.V.) The entering here meant is that from the porch into the holy place.
posts of olive tree] The word is that used for side-posts in 31. There is no mention here of the whole framework. But following the description given above we may assume that the dimensions of this doorway were also the same in height as in width.
a fourth part of the wall] The Hebrew has here a preposition before the numeral. Render ‘out of a fourth part of the wall.’ The meaning is that the aperture was a fourth part of the wall in width, and the same measure in height. That would be five cubits each way, larger by one cubit than the doorway from the holy place into the most holy. Such a space was cut out of he wall for the doors.
And the two doors were of fir tree: the two leaves of the one door were folding, and the two leaves of the other door were folding.34. and the two doors were of fir tree] As in 32 the expression is not definite. It is therefore simpler to put a light punctuation at the end of 1 Kings 6:33 and render ‘and two doors of fir wood.’
the two leaves of the one door were folding] That is, could be doubled back upon one another. The doors were in 4 sections, of which two folded together against the wall on one side, and two on the other. Thus one quarter of the door could be opened, if no more space were needed, and the labour of pushing back the folded parts would be less than if they were all in one piece.
And he carved thereon cherubims and palm trees and open flowers: and covered them with gold fitted upon the carved work.35. and covered them with gold fitted upon the carved work] Here we have a definite statement of what was done, and the same is no doubt meant in 1 Kings 6:32. The first verb is that which has been rendered overlaid all through the narrative. So consistency requires the same rendering here. In 2 Chronicles 3:6 we read that precious stones, as well as gold, were used for adorning the walls.
upon the carved work] This is not a word connected with that so frequently used for ‘carving’ in these verses. So the R.V. has given graven work to mark the variation. There is no doubt that the figures on the doors were cut in the wood and in English ‘graven-work’ refers generally to metal. But see Isaiah 45:20; Deuteronomy 7:5, where graven images appear to have been of wood, and destructible by burning. The description here given appears to mean that the embossed and carved portions of the woodwork were covered with gold, but not the whole surface of the doors.
And he built the inner court with three rows of hewed stone, and a row of cedar beams.36. And he built the inner court] This inner court is that which in Jeremiah 36:10 is called ‘the higher court’ and must be that intended (2 Chronicles 4:9) by the ‘court of the priests’ in contradistinction to ‘the great court,’ which must have enclosed the inner one. There is some doubt as to how the description in this verse is to be understood. It seems clear from the passage in Jeremiah that the inner was on a higher level than the outer court. Some have thought that this elevation was made by three layers of stone and then a wooden planking put over all. But to do this for the whole enclosure would have been very laborious work and seemingly for no purpose. It seems better to take it that the elevation was artificially made, and then to understand the three rows of hewn stone, covered by one row of cedar wood at the top, to have made a sort of sunk fence all round the inner court. The people standing in the outer court would need to see what the priests were doing. This they would all be able to do if the wall of stone and cedar work were very little, if at all, higher than the level of the inner court.
In the fourth year was the foundation of the house of the LORD laid, in the month Zif:37–38. Completion of Solomon’s Temple (Not in Chronicles)
37. In the fourth year] i.e. Of king Solomon’s reign. See 1 Kings 6:1. The LXX. (both Vat. and Alex.) omits these two verses, adding at the end of 36 καὶ ᾠκοδόμησε τὸ καταπέτασμα τῆς αὐλῆς τοῦ αἰλὰμ τοῦ οἴκου τοῦ κατὰ πρόσωπον τοῦ ναοῦ.
And in the eleventh year, in the month Bul, which is the eighth month, was the house finished throughout all the parts thereof, and according to all the fashion of it. So was he seven years in building it.38. in the month Bul] This month is only mentioned here. The name is derived from the same root as mabbul = the deluge, and intimates that the character of the month was rainy. The later name of the month was Marchesvan. It was between the new moon of November and December, and this being the eighth month, while Zif was the second, it is seen that the exact time occupied by the building of the Temple was seven years and a half. Probably the preparation of wood and stone in Lebanon is not included in this time, but was made during the four years of Solomon’s reign which preceded the building.