Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
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 bring up the ark of the covenant of the LORD out of the city of David, which is Zion.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.
And all the men of Israel assembled themselves unto king Solomon at the feast in the month Ethanim, which is the seventh month.2. at the feast in the month Ethanim which is the seventh month] Josephus tells us that the feast of tabernacles fell at this time, and that that festival and the dedication services were combined into one great feast. We know from Leviticus 23:34, that the feast of tabernacles commenced on the fifteenth day of the seventh month and was held for seven days. The month Ethanim, which name only occurs here, is described as the seventh month. The name, which is connected with a word used for running water, is thought to signify ‘the rainy month.’ Josephus calls it Θισρὶ, which was the month between the new moons of October and November. If heavy rains were common at the time it was an unfortunate date for the feast of tabernacles. The ‘early rains’ spoken of in Scripture were the rains of autumn, and fell at the end of October or beginning of November, but came on very gradually. The ‘latter rains’ were those of spring, mostly in March. If the feast took place towards the middle of October it would close before the rains began to fall.
Supposing the Temple to have been dedicated as soon as possible after its completion, this festival must have been held in the twelfth year of Solomon’s reign. For in 1 Kings 6:37 we are told that the actual building was finished in the eighth month of the eleventh year. The seventh month, named for the dedication, must have been in the year following.
And all the elders of Israel came, and the priests took up the ark.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.’
And they brought up the ark of the LORD, and the tabernacle of the congregation, and all the holy vessels that were in the tabernacle, even those did the priests and the Levites bring up.4. and the tabernacle of the congregation] Better, as in other places, the Tent of meeting. This consecrated tent, which had up to this time stood in Gibeon, was now taken down, and the curtains and poles of which it consisted seem to have been brought to the Temple to be preserved. There was probably room enough for their bestowal in the ‘side chambers’ which enclosed the Temple on three sides. Others have suggested a chamber above the most holy place. We have nothing to guide us to a conclusion either in history or tradition. A tradition which points to the preservation of the Tent is found 2Ma 2:4.
those did the priests and the Levites bring up] In the parallel passage in 1 Chronicles 5:5, the conjunction ‘and’ is omitted and special attention is called to Deuteronomy 17:18, where, and in subsequent places of the same book ‘the priests the Levites’ are spoken of. It is noteworthy that Josephus speaks only of the Levites, until the ark is to be brought within the most holy place. Then, he says, all the rest withdrew and the priests carried it to its resting-place. He also describes the procession, and how the road was drenched with libations and with the blood of many sacrifices, while the abundant burning of incense filled all the air with fragrance so that people at a great distance could note that God was, as men would judge, changing His abode and coming to dwell in the house which had been newly built and dedicated to Him. The LXX. (Vat.) omits nearly the whole of 1 Kings 8:2-3, and also a portion of 1 Kings 8:4.
And king Solomon, and all the congregation of Israel, that were assembled unto him, were with him before the ark, sacrificing sheep and oxen, that could not be told nor numbered for multitude.5. were with him before the ark] This must refer to the time when the great procession had reached the Temple court. At that spot the ark was set down, and king and people joined in a solemn sacrifice, before the priests bore the ark into the most holy place.
And the priests brought in the ark of the covenant of the LORD unto his place, into the oracle of the house, to the most holy place, even under the wings of the cherubims.6. even under the wings of the cherubims] The outspread wings of the cherubim extended across the whole width of the oracle (1 Kings 6:27) and their wings touched one another in the middle of the house. Beneath these wings that touched, the ark was set down. As it was only a cubit and a half high (Exodus 25:10), and the figures of the cherubim were 10 cubits high (1 Kings 6:23) it is probable that some base or stand was provided, so that the ark might be raised a little from the ground, though this is not stated. Josephus tells us that the joined wings overshadowed the ark, covering it as though it were under a tent or a dome.
For the cherubims spread forth their two wings over the place of the ark, and the cherubims covered the ark and the staves thereof above.7. covered the ark and the staves thereof above] The ark appears to have been placed lengthwise, (the length was two cubits and a half,) beneath the wings of the cherubim. Thus the staves also would lie along in the rings and so be overshadowed by the wings.
And they drew out the staves, that the ends of the staves were seen out in the holy place before the oracle, and they were not seen without: and there they are unto this day.8. And they drew out the staves] The verb either means transitively ‘to make long’ or intransitively ‘to be long,’ and the better rendering is ‘the staves were long.’ We are nowhere told how long the staves were made, but no doubt they were of considerable length that there might be no danger of the bearers touching the sacred coffer. Philippson (die Israelitische Bibel) says the old staves were ten cubits long, but that for this occasion, according to some Jewish commentators, new staves and longer ones had been made that more priests might take a share in the carrying. To join on easily to the following clause we must render the staves were so long.
that the ends of the staves were seen out in the holy place] Instead of ‘out in’ the Hebrew has from, and the sense is that, somehow or other, the heads of the staves were to be seen by persons looking from the holy place towards the oracle. It is noteworthy that in 2 Chronicles 5:9 it is said ‘the staves were seen from the ark.’
and [R.V. better, but] they were not seen without] That is to say, when any one went towards the porch and stood at the entrance of the holy place, the heads of the staves were no longer visible. The whole description must refer to occasions when the entrance into the holy of holies was open, but why it is inserted it is hard to say, for it appears to explain nothing, and to be of itself somewhat inexplicable. The ark was not seen at all, but one standing near the division between the holy place and the most holy might at such a time see the ends of the staves, though if he were as far away as the length of the holy place, he could not see them. The phrase in 2 Chronicles 5:9 would then signify that they were seen as they projected from the ark.
and there they are unto this day] To have allowed these words to remain bespeaks a singularly close copyist. They appear also in the parallel passage in 2 Chronicles (1 Kings 5:9). They were no doubt written first when the Temple was still standing, but could not have been true either for the compiler of the Kings or of Chronicles. They are omitted by the LXX.
There was nothing in the ark save the two tables of stone, which Moses put there at Horeb, when the LORD made a covenant with the children of Israel, when they came out of the land of Egypt.9. There was nothing in the ark save the two tables of stone] We read in Hebrews 9:4 that in the ark of the covenant ‘was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded’ as well as the tables of the covenant, and we may be sure that the writer there speaks according to tradition. The Old Testament narrative (Exodus 16:34) says that the pot of manna was laid up ‘before the testimony’ and the same expression is used (Numbers 17:10) concerning Aaron’s rod. This does not define whether they were put inside or on the outside of the ark. But it is most probable that during the time when the ark was moved from place to place they were kept inside it, but as soon as it was placed within the Temple they were removed. For the tables of stone were alone intended to be stored in the ark, being ‘the testimony (Exodus 25:16) which God had given to Israel.’ The other things would still be ‘before the testimony’ if they were placed outside.
when the Lord made a covenant] There is no word for ‘covenant’ in the Hebrew, but the verb is the technical term used in this sense, meaning literally ‘to cut’ in allusion to the sacrifices which usually accompanied covenant-making. No doubt by this time the verb alone had come to have the sense of ‘making a covenant.’ So the italics of the A. V. are rather misleading. The same verb without any noun following is found in this sense 1 Samuel 11:2; 1 Samuel 20:16; 1 Samuel 20:18 and in other places. The verse is a little expanded but not changed in sense in the LXX.
Josephus adds here an account of the other furniture of the Temple, with the position which it occupied, and adds, what no doubt he had seen in his own time, that the brazen altar stood before the shrine, straight opposite the outer door, so that when that was thrown open the altar was visible, and the priestly acts and the completion of the sacrifice could all be seen. This is, in a way, a comment on 1 Kings 8:8. The people outside could see through all the length of the holy place, but only one coming near to the partition, could, when the door into the most holy was open, notice the extended heads of the staves.
And it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the holy place, that the cloud filled the house of the LORD,10. the cloud filled the house of the Lord] The cloud was the veil which hid the glory of the Lord. The article denotes that it was something well known and perhaps permanent. Cf. Exodus 40:34-35 where it is said ‘the cloud covered the tent of meeting and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle, and Moses was not able to enter into the tent of meeting because the cloud abode thereon.’ This was the token that God had taken up His abode there, and thus a standing lesson was before the eyes of the people concerning the fact of the Incarnation. Josephus says of this cloud that ‘it produced in the minds of all the notion and thought that God had come down into the Temple, and was gladly tabernacling therein.’ It was indeed the Shechinah, the dwellingplace of God.
So that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud: for the glory of the LORD had filled the house of the LORD.11. could not stand to minister] i.e. At the altar of incense which stood within the holy place. God’s presence was diffused through every part of the edifice, thus claiming the whole as set apart to Him.
Then spake Solomon, The LORD said that he would dwell in the thick darkness.12–21. Solomon’s opening blessing (2 Chronicles 6:1-11)
12. The Lord said that he would dwell in the thick darkness] Better, as in 2 Chronicles 6:1, ‘The Lord hath said, &c.’ The king’s words are called forth by what he sees: the house enveloped in a thick cloud such that none could remain within nor enter. The allusion is to Leviticus 16:3, where God says ‘I will appear in the cloud upon the mercy seat.’ Cf. Psalm 97:2, ‘Clouds and darkness are round about Him.’ So too God speaks of coming to Moses ‘in a thick cloud,’ Exodus 19:9; Exodus 20:21.
I have surely built thee an house to dwell in, a settled place for thee to abide in for ever.13. I have surely built thee a house to dwell in] R.V. ‘a house of habitation,’ which is more literal, but not a more elegant rendering. The king sees that God has deigned to accept the house that has been built, and his desire that God may always dwell there fashions the language which he uses. It is to be noted that in this dedication the priests play but a secondary part. Zadok is not once named. Solomon presides, speaks, prays. The LXX. (Vat.) omits these two verses altogether, but gives a modification and enlargement of them at 1 Kings 8:53 below. See note there. Josephus describes the opening of Solomon’s address to God as ‘words which the king considered fit to be addressed to the divine Being, and which it was right for him to speak.’
And the king turned his face about, and blessed all the congregation of Israel: (and all the congregation of Israel stood;)14. And the king turned his face about] He had spoken at first looking towards the Temple, and beholding the cloud which told that God was there.
and blessed all the congregation] The words which follow (15–21) are not words of benediction on the people, but thanksgiving to God. We must suppose the language of blessing to have been like the blessing which follows later on in the chapter (57–61) where the king does ask for guidance and help for Israel.
And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of Israel, which spake with his mouth unto David my father, and hath with his hand fulfilled it, saying,15. the Lord God of Israel] R.V. ‘The Lord, the God of Israel.’ This change, which should be constantly made, will not be further noticed. See chap. 1 Kings 1:30.
which spake with his mouth unto David my father] The allusion is to the words of 2 Samuel 7:5-7, where God by the prophet Nathan forbids David to build Him a house. The prophet is regarded so entirely as the mouthpiece of Jehovah, that Solomon can use words like these both here, and in 1 Kings 8:24, ‘Thou spakest also with thy mouth.’
Since the day that I brought forth my people Israel out of Egypt, I chose no city out of all the tribes of Israel to build an house, that my name might be therein; but I chose David to be over my people Israel.16. that my name might be therein] The expression in the Pentateuch is constant about the place which is dedicated to the worship of God: ‘God records His name there’ (Exodus 20:24); ‘God chooses it to put His name there’ (Deuteronomy 12:5); ‘God chooses it to cause His name to dwell there’ (Deuteronomy 12:11). In Exodus 20:24 the phrase is ‘in all places,’ because by that code it was contemplated that the place set apart for worship would be changed from time to time, and before the one permanent place was fixed upon, there would be many places where God was worshipped. Deuteronomy represents the ideal to be aimed at when the people were established in Canaan.
but I chose David] This is expanded in 2 Chronicles 6:6 so as to include both the place and the person. ‘But I have chosen Jerusalem that my name might be there; and have chosen David to be over my people Israel.’ The LXX. also has the same clause. The language of this verse in Kings seems almost to imply some opposition (or difference in the way of choice) between the material structure and the person.
And it was in the heart of David my father to build an house for the name of the LORD God of Israel.17. And it was in the heart, &c. The conjunction is better rendered in 2 Chronicles 6:7, ‘Now it was in the heart.’ The two should be alike.
And the LORD said unto David my father, Whereas it was in thine heart to build an house unto my name, thou didst well that it was in thine heart.
Nevertheless thou shalt not build the house; but thy son that shall come forth out of thy loins, he shall build the house unto my name.19. thou shalt not build the house] It was not necessary for Solomon to add the reasons given in 1 Chronicles 22:8, ‘Thou hast shed blood abundantly and hast made great wars.’
And the LORD hath performed his word that he spake, and I am risen up in the room of David my father, and sit on the throne of Israel, as the LORD promised, and have built an house for the name of the LORD God of Israel.
And I have set there a place for the ark, wherein is the covenant of the LORD, which he made with our fathers, when he brought them out of the land of Egypt.21. the ark, wherein is the covenant of the Lord] It has just been said (1 Kings 8:9) that only the two tables of stone were in the ark. They must then be meant by ‘the covenant of the Lord,’ and this is borne out by such passages as Deuteronomy 4:23; Deuteronomy 29:25, where the covenant alluded to forms a part of the ten commandments. But ‘the book of the covenant’ (Exodus 24:7) appears to have included all the laws contained in Exodus 20-23.
And Solomon stood before the altar of the LORD in the presence of all the congregation of Israel, and spread forth his hands toward heaven:22–53. Solomon’s prayer (2 Chronicles 6:12-42)
22. And Solomon stood before the altar of the Lord] This was the altar of burnt offerings which stood in the Temple court. In 2 Chronicles 6:13 we have an explanation which is omitted here, “For Solomon had made a brazen scaffold of five cubits long, and five cubits broad, and three cubits high, and had set it in the midst of the court, and upon it he stood and kneeled down before all the congregation of Israel.” (See note on 1 Kings 8:54.)
Josephus gives as the opening of this prayer a passage utterly foreign to the character of Solomon’s words. “It is not possible for men by what they do to give God thanks for the benefits they have received. For the divinity is in need of nothing and is above all such requital. But with that wherein we are made by Thee, O Lord, superior to other living creatures, with that we are bound to bless Thy majesty and to give thanks for what Thou hast wrought for my house, and for the people of the Hebrews. For with what is it more fitting that we should supplicate Thee, whether Thou be angry or continuest gracious, than with the voice which we derive from the air and know to be sent back through the same medium?”
And he said, LORD God of Israel, there is no God like thee, in heaven above, or on earth beneath, who keepest covenant and mercy with thy servants that walk before thee with all their heart:23. who keepest covenant and mercy] The phrase is found in Deuteronomy 7:9; Deuteronomy 7:12. In God’s intent, the covenant and the mercy were the same thing. It was transgression on man’s part which called forth any other character in the covenant.
with thy servants] The LXX. has the singular, thus restricting the allusion in 1 Kings 8:23-26 entirely to David and his family. The Hebrew by the plural represents the spirit of the phrase in Deuteronomy, and the supplication becomes an appeal to God that He will remember towards David’s race the promise which at first was made to all Israel. See Chap. 1 Kings 2:4 and 2 Samuel 7:12, &c.
Who hast kept with thy servant David my father that thou promisedst him: thou spakest also with thy mouth, and hast fulfilled it with thine hand, as it is this day.
Therefore now, LORD God of Israel, keep with thy servant David my father that thou promisedst him, saying, There shall not fail thee a man in my sight to sit on the throne of Israel; so that thy children take heed to their way, that they walk before me as thou hast walked before me.25. so that thy children take heed] In modern English ‘so that’ = ‘if only,’ ‘provided that,’ is not common, but was so when the A.V. was made. Cf. Shakespeare, All’s Well, ii. 4. 20, “So that you had her wrinkles, and I her money, I would she did as you say.” See also Richard II. iii. 4. 102. The R.V. has the modern ‘if only’ and the LXX. represents the sense by πλὴν ἐάν.
And now, O God of Israel, let thy word, I pray thee, be verified, which thou spakest unto thy servant David my father.
But will God indeed dwell on the earth? behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house that I have builded?27. will God in very deed dwell on the earth?] The LXX. adds ‘with men.’
the heaven and heaven of heavens] The expression is found in Deuteronomy 10:14; Ps. 67:36, Ps. 113:16, and is used to express the widest compass of heaven.
this house which I have builded] The LXX. adds ‘for Thy name.’
Yet have thou respect unto the prayer of thy servant, and to his supplication, O LORD my God, to hearken unto the cry and to the prayer, which thy servant prayeth before thee to day:28. Yet have thou respect] Literally the Hebrew is “Yet thou wilt have respect.” The tense is chosen to intimate the assurance in the mind of the king that the prayers made will be answered.
That thine eyes may be open toward this house night and day, even toward the place of which thou hast said, My name shall be there: that thou mayest hearken unto the prayer which thy servant shall make toward this place.29. even toward the place of which thou hast said, My name shall be there] These words refer back to 1 Kings 8:16, and appear to imply all that is contained in the expansion there alluded to from 2 Chronicles 6:6 that God had chosen Jerusalem as the place for His temple. ‘My name’ indicates God’s revelation of Himself with all His attributes.
towards this place] For the king was not in the Temple but looking towards it, as would be the case with all future worshippers except the priests who were allowed to enter into the building. Hence it came to pass that in foreign lands the Israelite turned his face in the direction of Jerusalem. Cf. Daniel 6:10; Jonah 2:4; Psalm 5:7.
And hearken thou to the supplication of thy servant, and of thy people Israel, when they shall pray toward this place: and hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place: and when thou hearest, forgive.
If any man trespass against his neighbour, and an oath be laid upon him to cause him to swear, and the oath come before thine altar in this house:31. If any man trespass] Here Solomon enters on a series of specific petitions, the first of which is concerning any case of trespass, in which he implores that God would uphold the sanctity of an oath. The sense of ‘trespass’ in this verse must be = ‘be supposed to have trespassed.’ The person presumed to have offended is to be challenged to take an oath, and to God is left the punishment of the guilty and the acquittal of the innocent. Cf. Exodus 22:7-11.
and the oath come] It is better to take both words as verbs and supply a copulative. Render “and he come and swear.”
Then hear thou in heaven, and do, and judge thy servants, condemning the wicked, to bring his way upon his head; and justifying the righteous, to give him according to his righteousness.32. then hear thou in heaven] As the truth in such a case as is supposed can be known to God alone, He is prayed to act the part assigned to judges in the Law (cf. Deuteronomy 25:1) and to make known in His own way which persons take the oath justly, and which unjustly. The close imitation of the language of Deuteronomy deserves to be noticed.
When thy people Israel be smitten down before the enemy, because they have sinned against thee, and shall turn again to thee, and confess thy name, and pray, and make supplication unto thee in this house:33. When thy people Israel be smitten down before the enemy] Such an event is contemplated in the language of Leviticus (Leviticus 26:17) and Deuteronomy (Deuteronomy 28:25) as well as the restoration and delivery of the people on their repentance (see Leviticus 26:40-42).
because they have sinned against thee] From what follows it seems as if idolatry, to which the people were so prone, were noted as the special sin. They have turned away from God, and so are to turn to Him again. The penalty constantly threatened for serving strange gods was that they should be made to serve strangers in a land which was not theirs. Cf. Deuteronomy 28:47 seqq.
Then hear thou in heaven, and forgive the sin of thy people Israel, and bring them again unto the land which thou gavest unto their fathers.
When heaven is shut up, and there is no rain, because they have sinned against thee; if they pray toward this place, and confess thy name, and turn from their sin, when thou afflictest them:35. When heaven is shut up] The king next intreats against a plague of drought. This also had been proclaimed in the Pentateuch as one of God’s methods of discipline and punishment. So Deuteronomy 11:17 the people are warned to beware of sin lest the Lord shut up the heaven that there be no rain; and in Deuteronomy (Deuteronomy 28:23) and Leviticus (Leviticus 26:19) the striking phrase is used ‘I will make your heaven as iron, and your earth as brass.’
Then hear thou in heaven, and forgive the sin of thy servants, and of thy people Israel, that thou teach them the good way wherein they should walk, and give rain upon thy land, which thou hast given to thy people for an inheritance.36. forgive the sin of thy servants and of thy people Israel] Probably Solomon means by ‘servants’ the kings who should hereafter reign over Israel. The LXX. evidently thought this, for there we only have ‘thy servant’ meaning the king at the time being.
that thou teach them] The rendering should rather be ‘when thou teachest them,’ as at the close of the previous verse. The forgiveness is to come, when the lesson of chastisement has been given and learnt.
If there be in the land famine, if there be pestilence, blasting, mildew, locust, or if there be caterpiller; if their enemy besiege them in the land of their cities; whatsoever plague, whatsoever sickness there be;37. If there be in the land famine] In this verse the king gathers together various judgements which God had threatened on His people if they sinned. For famine cf. Leviticus 26:20; Deuteronomy 11:17 : for blasting and mildew, Deuteronomy 28:22; for locust, Deuteronomy 28:38. The particular insect rendered ‘caterpillar’ in this verse is not mentioned in the Pentateuch, but we know from Joel 2:25, that some other kind, or stage of development, of locust is meant by it. In Deuteronomy 28:42 we have mention of an insect, also rendered ‘locust,’ which has a different name in the original from that spoken of in 1 Kings 8:38 of the same chapter. The siege by an enemy is threatened in Deuteronomy 28:52.
in the land of their cities] The Hebrew word translated ‘cities’ usually signifies ‘gates,’ and it is so rendered Deuteronomy 28:52 ‘He shall besiege thee in all thy gates.’ But in ‘gates’ the ‘cities,’ which alone possessed them, are implied. The LXX. and other versions have ‘in one of their cities.’ The Vulg. has ‘gates.’
What prayer and supplication soever be made by any man, or by all thy people Israel, which shall know every man the plague of his own heart, and spread forth his hands toward this house:38. which shall know every man the plague of his own heart] i.e. The special infliction which is sent to him for his own correction, and for the relief of which he only can fitly pray.
Then hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place, and forgive, and do, and give to every man according to his ways, whose heart thou knowest; (for thou, even thou only, knowest the hearts of all the children of men;)39. whose heart thou knowest] This is the other aspect. God will know whether the discipline have wrought its effect, whether the heart have been plagued in such wise as to bring about repentance.
That they may fear thee all the days that they live in the land which thou gavest unto our fathers.40. that they may fear thee] i.e. Being instructed and warned by God’s judgements may cease to offend and in consequence need no more correction. Cf. Psalm 130:4. ‘There is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared.’
Moreover concerning a stranger, that is not of thy people Israel, but cometh out of a far country for thy name's sake;41. Moreover concerning a stranger] Consideration for the stranger was a marked feature of the Jewish legislation. Cf. Exodus 22:21; Exodus 23:9; Exodus 23:12, &c. So he is not to be excluded from spiritual privileges. Josephus makes Solomon enlarge on this characteristic thus: “And I do not ask from Thee this help for the Hebrews alone when they offend; but even if any come from the ends of the earth, or from any land whatever and wish in this place to make petition unto Thee, hearken and grant their request. For thus it will be known to all men that Thou hast wished this house to be built for Thee by us, and that we are not unnatural nor hostile to strangers, but gladly desire that Thy help and the advantage of Thy blessings should be shared by all.” The last sentence tells of the opinion, which in the days of Josephus prevailed among the heathen, that the Jews were haters of the rest of mankind. For this sentiment cf. Juvenal XIV. 103, 104. Tac. Hist. 1 Kings 5:5.
for thy name’s sake] i.e. Having heard of Thy wondrous works performed for Israel.
(For they shall hear of thy great name, and of thy strong hand, and of thy stretched out arm;) when he shall come and pray toward this house;42. of thy strong hand, and of thy stretched out arm] A constant phrase in Deuteronomy to express God’s power, see Deuteronomy 3:24; Deuteronomy 4:34; Deuteronomy 5:15, &c. The greater part of 1 Kings 8:41 and the whole of 42 are omitted in the LXX. (Vat.).
when he shall come and pray towards this house] For the earlier provision whereby the stranger might be admitted to share in the worship of Israel, see Numbers 15:14. The rule was “as ye do, so shall he do.”
Hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place, and do according to all that the stranger calleth to thee for: that all people of the earth may know thy name, to fear thee, as do thy people Israel; and that they may know that this house, which I have builded, is called by thy name.43. that this house … is called by thy name] The literal rendering of the Hebrew ‘that thy name is called upon this house,’ though not so good English, brings out more of the true notion of the words viz., that God has taken up His abode there, and that there men may approach very near unto Him.
If thy people go out to battle against their enemy, whithersoever thou shalt send them, and shall pray unto the LORD toward the city which thou hast chosen, and toward the house that I have built for thy name:44. If thy people go out to battle] The case here is of a war undertaken by God’s direction, and therefore in a righteous cause. Under such circumstances the people may trust in Him for support.
shall pray unto the Lord toward the city] Not only the Jews but other people were wont to turn their faces toward some sacred spot when praying in a distant land, as Daniel did in Babylon (Daniel 6:10). Thus the Mohammedans turn towards Mecca, and the early Christians inherited from the Jews the custom of turning to the east when they prayed. Cf. Tert. Apol. 16.
Then hear thou in heaven their prayer and their supplication, and maintain their cause.
If they sin against thee, (for there is no man that sinneth not,) and thou be angry with them, and deliver them to the enemy, so that they carry them away captives unto the land of the enemy, far or near;46. If they sin against thee] With the language of these verses concerning the delivery of Israel into the hand of their enemies for their sins, the chapters of Leviticus (26.) and Deuteronomy (28) already frequently quoted should be compared. Though the verbal resemblance is less than in some other parts of this prayer, the idea and spirit of the language is exactly the same.
Yet if they shall bethink themselves in the land whither they were carried captives, and repent, and make supplication unto thee in the land of them that carried them captives, saying, We have sinned, and have done perversely, we have committed wickedness;
And so return unto thee with all their heart, and with all their soul, in the land of their enemies, which led them away captive, and pray unto thee toward their land, which thou gavest unto their fathers, the city which thou hast chosen, and the house which I have built for thy name:
Then hear thou their prayer and their supplication in heaven thy dwelling place, and maintain their cause,49. and maintain their cause] The words are the same as in 1 Kings 8:45, but the idea is a little different. There the ‘cause’ was a righteous war undertaken at God’s direction; here the phrase implies that God shall do His people right by delivering them from their oppressors. For though God may use the heathen as His instruments He does not always approve of the conduct they exhibit. On this cf. Isaiah 10:5-16. The literal meaning of the Hebrew is ‘do them right’ or ‘work out their right.’
And forgive thy people that have sinned against thee, and all their transgressions wherein they have transgressed against thee, and give them compassion before them who carried them captive, that they may have compassion on them:50. give them compassion] So God stirred up the heart of Cyrus to permit Israel to return from Babylon (Ezra 1:1).
For they be thy people, and thine inheritance, which thou broughtest forth out of Egypt, from the midst of the furnace of iron:51. from the midst of the furnace of iron] The bondage of Egypt is so called, Deuteronomy 4:20. The idea is of the intense heat needed to melt iron in a furnace, and that with this the suffering of Israel might be compared. Cf. Isaiah 48:10; Jeremiah 11:14.
That thine eyes may be open unto the supplication of thy servant, and unto the supplication of thy people Israel, to hearken unto them in all that they call for unto thee.52. in all that they call for unto thee] The Hebrew is literally ‘In all their crying unto thee,’ which R.V. represents more nearly by whensoever they cry unto thee.
For thou didst separate them from among all the people of the earth, to be thine inheritance, as thou spakest by the hand of Moses thy servant, when thou broughtest our fathers out of Egypt, O Lord GOD.53. As thou spakest by the hand of Moses] The reference is to Exodus 19:5-6, where God promises that Israel shall be to Him ‘a peculiar treasure.’ ‘By the hand of’ is a not uncommon Hebrew phrase for ‘by’ (see below 1 Kings 8:56), and it is so represented in A. V. Thus Isaiah 20:2, ‘the Lord spake by Isaiah,’ the original has ‘by the hand of.’ So in Malachi 1:1 ‘by Malachi’ is ‘by the hand of Malachi.’ At this point there occurs in 2 Chron. (2 Chronicles 6:40-42) a large addition thus: ‘Now, my God, let, I beseech thee, thine eyes be open, and let thine ears be attent unto the prayer that is made in this place. Now therefore arise, O Lord God, into thy resting place, thou and the ark of thy strength: let thy priests, O Lord God, be clothed with salvation, and let thy saints rejoice in goodness. O Lord God, turn not away the face of thine anointed: remember the mercies of David thy servant.’ These words may have belonged to the original document and be the groundwork of Psalms 132, or the Chronicler may have given a free variation and borrowed from the Psalm.
In the LXX. there is also an addition of a different kind after 1 Kings 8:53. It purports to be something which was written ἐν βιβλίῳ τῆς ᾠδῆς, ‘in the book of song’ and is made up of allusions to 1 Kings 8:12-13 of this chapter, and, as it stands, is not very intelligible. The translation would be ‘The sun he made known in heaven, the Lord hath said that he will dwell in darkness. Build my house, a comely house for thyself to dwell in. Behold, is it not written in the book of song?’ Prof. Robertson Smith has discussed this passage in the notes (pp. 403, 404) to his ‘Old Testament in the Jewish Church,’ and by certain, not very startling corrections, he gives a restored version thus:
Jehovah created the sun in the heavens,
But he hath determined to dwell in darkness.
Build my house, an house of habitation for me,
A place to dwell in eternally.
Behold is it not written in the book of Jashar?
And it was so, that when Solomon had made an end of praying all this prayer and supplication unto the LORD, he arose from before the altar of the LORD, from kneeling on his knees with his hands spread up to heaven.54. he arose from before the altar] In 1 Kings 8:22 we are only told that Solomon stood before the altar. It appears from this verse that the addition in 2 Chronicles 6:13, where we read that he first stood and then kneeled down before the people, gives the correct idea of what took place. Josephus tells us that at the close of the prayer the king cast himself upon the ground and continued worshipping a long time, after which he arose and offered sacrifices.
54–61. Solomon’s closing benediction (Not in Chronicles)
And he stood, and blessed all the congregation of Israel with a loud voice, saying,
Blessed be the LORD, that hath given rest unto his people Israel, according to all that he promised: there hath not failed one word of all his good promise, which he promised by the hand of Moses his servant.56. that hath given rest unto his people] For Solomon’s reign was to be specially a time of peace (cf. 1 Kings 2:33), and it was only in a time of profound tranquillity that the great works of the Temple and the king’s house could have been carried out. This no doubt was the idea of the LXX., who make this verse commence ‘Blessed be the Lord to-day.’
The LORD our God be with us, as he was with our fathers: let him not leave us, nor forsake us:
That he may incline our hearts unto him, to walk in all his ways, and to keep his commandments, and his statutes, and his judgments, which he commanded our fathers.58. that he may incline our hearts unto him] Which will not happen if He leave or forsake His people.
And let these my words, wherewith I have made supplication before the LORD, be nigh unto the LORD our God day and night, that he maintain the cause of his servant, and the cause of his people Israel at all times, as the matter shall require:59. be nigh unto the Lord our God day and night] That He may have them always in remembrance.
as the matter shall require] The Hebrew is ‘the thing of a day in its day’ and the R.V. gives ‘as every day shall require,’ which brings it a little closer to the original, but with no different sense from A. V.
That all the people of the earth may know that the LORD is God, and that there is none else.60. that all the people of the earth may know] This was always the view of the pious Israelite that God’s glory might be known among all nations. Cf. Joshua 4:24; 1 Samuel 17:46. There is nothing in 2 Chronicles of the 1 Kings 8:54-61, but preceding the account of the sacrifices we are told (2 Chronicles 7:1-3) that fire came down from heaven (which Josephus also speaks of at this point of the narrative) and consumed the burnt-offering and the sacrifice, that the glory of God filled the house so that the priests could not enter, and that at the sight thereof all the people worshipped and praised the Lord. After this the narrative continues in parallelism with 1 Kings.
Let your heart therefore be perfect with the LORD our God, to walk in his statutes, and to keep his commandments, as at this day.61. perfect] i.e. ‘Entirely surrendered’ (shâläm). So in Arabic islam = religion as entire submission; moslem, the religious man as entirely devoted.
And the king, and all Israel with him, offered sacrifice before the LORD.
And Solomon offered a sacrifice of peace offerings, which he offered unto the LORD, two and twenty thousand oxen, and an hundred and twenty thousand sheep. So the king and all the children of Israel dedicated the house of the LORD.62–66. The great sacrifice and festival (2 Chronicles 7:4-11)
63. And Solomon offered a sacrifice of peace offerings] It is ordered in the Law (Leviticus 7:15) that the greatest part of such peace offerings shall be eaten at the time of the offering. The fat and certain internal portions of the victim are to be consumed in the fire on the altar, but all else is to go for food. This explains in part the enormous number of animals mentioned in this verse. Not only among the Jews, but among all ancient nations, sacrifices were feasts, sometimes on a very large scale. Homer supplies abundant instances. The dedication of the Temple was an event for which all who could come were sure to assemble, and for the support of such an enormous crowd for fourteen days (cf. 2 Chronicles 7:8-9) the supply here mentioned need not be thought excessive. Great multitudes can assemble in Eastern climates, where the shelter of a roof at night is not a necessity, with less preparation, except for actual food, than is required in western lands. Josephus says “all the Hebrews feasted with their wives and children, moreover also the king celebrated the feast which is called the feast of Tabernacles grandly and magnificently before the Temple, feasting together with all the people.”
two and twenty thousand oxen] Contrary to his custom Josephus gives here a smaller number than that in the Hebrew text. He says twelve thousand oxen, but keeps the same number, one hundred and twenty thousand, for the sheep. Though it be said that the king offered this large sacrifice, we need not suppose that any great part of the offering was performed by him personally or in his presence. The next verse shows that provision was made for offering sacrifices in other places than on the brazen altar, viz. on temporary altars set up for the occasion.
The same day did the king hallow the middle of the court that was before the house of the LORD: for there he offered burnt offerings, and meat offerings, and the fat of the peace offerings: because the brasen altar that was before the LORD was too little to receive the burnt offerings, and meat offerings, and the fat of the peace offerings.64. meat offerings] These consisted (see Leviticus 2:4-7) of fine flour with oil and incense. In modern English the sense of ‘meat’ has become so restricted to flesh, that the R.V., to give a nearer idea of the true nature of the offering, has changed the word to meal-offering, though this does not quite adequately convey the meaning. In 2 Chronicles 7:6 we read that the Levites accompanied these sacrifices with music, on instruments which David had made for religious services, and the priests blew the trumpets before them.
And at that time Solomon held a feast, and all Israel with him, a great congregation, from the entering in of Hamath unto the river of Egypt, before the LORD our God, seven days and seven days, even fourteen days.65. Solomon held a feast] Better ‘the feast.’ The special feast of Tabernacles (cf. 1 Kings 8:2), a very fitting occasion for the great multitude to make themselves an encampment in the open country around.
The part played by Solomon in all this dedication ceremony shews us that the ordinances of the Pentateuch had not yet come into observance. Israel had not advanced beyond the traditional religion contained in the ‘book of the covenant’. But the failure of the nation herein cannot of itself be held to establish the non-existence of the Levitical law.
from the entering in of Hamath unto the river of Egypt] Within these limits the whole land of Palestine was embraced. Hamath on the north was situated in the valley of the Orontes, and for a long time was the chief city of the northern part of Syria. On the south the river of Egypt (nahal Mizraim) is identified for us in the LXX. (Isaiah 27:12) by being translated ὁ ποταμὸς ἕως Ῥινοκορούρων. Rhinocoroura (i.e. Rhinocolura) is the modern El Arish, and so the nahal Mizraim was probably Wady el Arïsh, a desert stream on the border of Egypt.
before the Lord our God] The last two words have the appearance of an editorial addition. They would hardly appear in the original narrative.
seven days and seven days] As explained in 2 Chronicles 7:9 the dedication of the altar lasted seven days, and the feast (of Tabernacles proper) other seven days. This double observance accounts for the form of words here used.
On the eighth day he sent the people away: and they blessed the king, and went unto their tents joyful and glad of heart for all the goodness that the LORD had done for David his servant, and for Israel his people.66. On the eighth day] i.e. Of the feast of Tabernacles, which had been preceded on this occasion by the feast of Dedication. Therefore this was the fifteenth day of the whole ceremony. It is defined in 2 Chronicles 7:10 as ‘the three and twentieth day of the seventh month.’
and they blessed the king] Josephus explains thus: ‘they went away thanking the king for his forethought about them, and for the conduct which he had exhibited towards them, and praying God to give them Solomon as their king for a long time to come.’
and went unto their tents] The expression is a survival from those times when the home was a tent. Cf. 2 Samuel 18:17; 2 Samuel 19:8.