Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers
Then said Solomon, The LORD hath said that he would dwell in the thick darkness.VI.
2. KING SOLOMON BLESSES HIS PEOPLE AND HIS GOD
This section also is in verbal agreement with the parallel account, with a few slight exceptions.
(1) The thick darkness.—‘Araphel, which is explained as caligo nubium, “gloom of clouds.” (See Exodus 20:21; Deuteronomy 4:11; Psalm 18:9. Comp. the Greek, ὅρφνη.) The Targum on 1Kings 8:12 reads Jerusalem, but this is probably a gloss.
But I have built an house of habitation for thee, and a place for thy dwelling for ever.(2) But I have built.—And I, on my part, have built. Kings, “I have built” (bānōh bānîthî); scil., as “Thou didst indicate.” This seems original. So the Syr. here, mebnô b’nîth, but not LXX. and Vulg.
Habitation.—Zĕbûl, a poetic word, occurring only five times. (Comp. Habakkuk 3:11.)
And a place.—And, added here, weakens the force of the poetic parallelism.
A place for thy dwelling.—(Exodus 15:17) another poetic expression.
For ever.—(Through) ages. So only in this account and Psalm 61:5.
And the king turned his face, and blessed the whole congregation of Israel: and all the congregation of Israel stood.(3) And the king.—The verse is word for word as in Kings.
Turned.—Turned round (1Chronicles 10:14).
And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of Israel, who hath with his hands fulfilled that which he spake with his mouth to my father David, saying,(4) Who hath with his hands fulfilled . . . David.—Literally, who spake (“promised,” 2Chronicles 6:10), by his mouth with David my father, and by his hands fulfilled. (See 1Chronicles 11:2; 1Chronicles 17:4-14.) The only variant in this verse is hands for hand. The unpointed text of Kings might be read in either way. (Comp. 2Chronicles 6:15, infr.)
Since the day that I brought forth my people out of the land of Egypt I chose no city among all the tribes of Israel to build an house in, that my name might be there; neither chose I any man to be a ruler over my people Israel:(5) My people out of the land of Egypt.—Kings, “My people Israel out of Egypt.” (Comp 2Chronicles 5:10.) The Syr. and Arab. have Israel here also.
Neither chose I any man to be a ruler (nāgîd) over my people Israel.—Neither this sentence nor the following is found in the parallel passage, where the second half of 2Chronicles 6:6 forms the last clause of the preceding verse (1Kings 8:16). The Syriac and Arabic here follow Kings as often. There is nothing in the language against the supposition that the words originally formed part of the older text.
Neither chose I any man.—Saul was originally the people’s, not God’s, choice. Holy Scripture nowhere teaches that the vox populi is identical with the vox Dei. (See 1Samuel 8:5, and Bishop Wordsworth’s Note.)
But I have chosen Jerusalem, that my name might be there; and have chosen David to be over my people Israel.(6) But (and) I have chosen Jerusalem.—Some MSS. omit this verse.
Notwithstanding thou shalt not build the house; but thy son which shall come forth out of thy loins, he shall build the house for my name.(9) Notwithstanding thou shalt not build.—Only thou, thou shalt not build; with stress on the pronoun.
But thy son.—Heb., for thy son; so LXX.; Kings, “but;” and so some MSS. and the Syriac, Vulg., and Arabic here. Otherwise the whole verse is as in Kings.
The LORD therefore hath performed his word that he hath spoken: for I am risen up in the room of David my father, and am set on the throne of Israel, as the LORD promised, and have built the house for the name of the LORD God of Israel.(10) The Lord . . . his word.—And Jehovah hath established, or ratified, his word. Literally, caused to rise up.
Set.—Seated. (No variant from Kings.)
And in it have I put the ark, wherein is the covenant of the LORD, that he made with the children of Israel.(11) And in it have I put the ark.—And I have set there the ark, abridged from 1Kings 8:21, “and I have set there a place for the ark.” So Syriac and Arabic, “and I have prepared a place for the ark.”
Wherein is the covenant.—The two tables of the Law. (See 2Chronicles 5:10.)
And he stood before the altar of the LORD in the presence of all the congregation of Israel, and spread forth his hands:3. THE KING UTTERS THE PRAYER OF CONSECRATION (2Chronicles 6:12-42).
(Comp. 1Kings 8:22-53.)
Spread forth his hands.—Towards heaven (Kings). Syriac and Arabic have both.
For Solomon had made a brasen 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 upon his knees before all the congregation of Israel, and spread forth his hands toward heaven,(13) For Solomon had made a brasen scaffold.—This verse is not in Kings. But it may once have followed 1Kings 8:22. At least, marks of the chronicler’s individual style are not apparent in it.
Kneeled down upon his knees, and spread forth his hands.—An attitude of prayer which may be seen figured upon the monuments of ancient Egypt.
Toward heaven (ha-shāmā́y’māh).—The chronicler has used the exact form for the less precise hashāmā́ayim of 1Kings 8:22.
And said, O LORD God of Israel, there is no God like thee in the heaven, nor in the earth; which keepest covenant, and shewest mercy unto thy servants, that walk before thee with all their hearts:(14) In the heaven nor in the earth.—Abridged from “in the heaven above, and upon the earth beneath” (Kings). Syriac, “Thou art the Lord that sittest in heaven above, and Thy will (pl.) is done on earth beneath;” apparently a curious reminiscence of the Lord’s Prayer. The Assyrians also spoke of their gods as “without an equal” (sânina la isû, “a rival he has not”).
Which keepest covenant and shewest mercy.—Literally, keeping the covenant and the mercy; i.e., the covenanted mercy. (Comp. Isaiah 55:3.)
With thy servant.—Heb., for; so in 2Chronicles 6:16. (The verse is word for word as in Kings.)
And spakest with thy mouth. . . .—2Chronicles 6:4.
Now therefore, O LORD God of Israel, keep with thy servant David my father that which thou hast promised him, saying, There shall not fail thee a man in my sight to sit upon the throne of Israel; yet so that thy children take heed to their way to walk in my law, as thou hast walked before me.(16) Now therefore.—And now. So in 2Chronicles 6:17.
Keep that which thou hast promised—i.e., Thy further promise. See the fulfilment of the former promise, as described in 2Chronicles 6:10, supr.
There shall not fail thee.—See margin. Authorised Version follows LXX., Οὐκ ἐκλείψει σοι; and Vulg., “non deficiet ex te.”
To sit.—Heb., sitting; LXX., καθήμενος.
Yet so that.—Only if; assigning a single condition; provided that. . . . LXX., πλὴν ἐὰν φυλάξωσιν; Vulg., “ita tamen si custodierint.”
Take heed to.—Heb., keep (2Chronicles 6:14-16).
In my law.—The only variant from 1Kings 8:25. The chronicler has avoided a seeming tautology, as elsewhere. Syriac, “before me in the Law.”
Now then, O LORD God of Israel, let thy word be verified, which thou hast spoken unto thy servant David.(17) Be verified.—1Chronicles 17:23. LXX. and Syriac add, “I pray” (Heb., nā), as in Kings.
Unto thy servant David.—Heb., to thy servant, to David. Kings, “to thy servant David my father.” So Syriac here.
But will God in very deed dwell with men on the earth? behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house which I have built!(18) But will God in very deed.—Or, what? will God, &c.—The LXX. imitates the Hebrew ὅτι εἰ ἀληθῶς κατοικήσει; Vuig., “ergone credibile est ut habitet Deus?”
With men.—Not in Kings. Syriac, “with his people, Israel;” Arabic, “with his people.” (Comp. Revelation 21:3.)
Have respect therefore to the prayer of thy servant, and to his supplication, O LORD my God, to hearken unto the cry and the prayer which thy servant prayeth before thee:(19) Have respect therefore.—But turn thou unto. The Authorised Version follows the LXX. and Vulg., ἐπιβλέψῃ); “ut respicias.”
Before thee.—Kings adds, “to-day.” So LXX., Syriac, Arabic here.
That thine eyes may be open upon this house day and night, upon the place whereof thou hast said that thou wouldest put thy name there; to hearken unto the prayer which thy servant prayeth toward this place.(20) Upon.—Unto or toward. “Day and night” (as in Psalm 1:2); Kings, “night and day” (as in Isaiah 27:3); for which the chronicler has substituted a more usual phrase. The Syriac and Arabic follow Kings.
Prayeth.—Shall pray, scil., at any time.
Toward this place.—The margin is wrong, though supported by the Syriac, Arabic, and Vulg. The Temple of Jerusalem was, and is, the Kebla of the Jew. (Comp. Daniel 6:10, and 2Chronicles 6:34 infr., which is a kind of paraphrase of this expression.)
Hearken therefore unto the supplications of thy servant, and of thy people Israel, which they shall make toward this place: hear thou from thy dwelling place, even from heaven; and when thou hearest, forgive.(21) Supplications.—Tahănûnîm, a word chiefly poetic and late, which nowhere appears in Kings, and only here in Chronicles. Kings has the older synonym tĕhinnāh.
Hear thou from thy dwelling place, even from heaven.—Yea thou—thou shalt hear from the place of thy dwelling, from the heavens. For “from,” in both places, Kings has “unto,” an unusual pregnant construction, which is probably original.
If a man sin against his neighbour, and an oath be laid upon him to make him swear, and the oath come before thine altar in this house;(22) If a man sin.—Kings, “whatever a man sin.”
And an oath be laid upon him.—And he (i.e., his neighbour or, indefinitely, people) lay an oath upon him. (See Exodus 22:11.)
And the oath come before thine altar.—And he (the offender) enter upon an oath before thine altar. (Comp. Ezekiel 17:13.) But all the versions have, “and he come, and swear before thine altar,” a difference which involves merely the prefixing of one letter (w) to the Hebrew word rendered “oath.”
Then hear thou from heaven, and do, and judge thy servants, by requiting the wicked, by recompensing his way upon his own head; and by justifying the righteous, by giving him according to his righteousness.(23) From heaven.—In Kings we have not the preposition. Perhaps the meaning there is “to heaven,” as in 2Chronicles 6:30. The chronicler has substituted a more ordinary expression, which, indeed, is found in all the versions of Kings. Similarly in 2Chronicles 6:25; 2Chronicles 6:30; 2Chronicles 6:33; 2Chronicles 6:35; 2Chronicles 6:39.
By requiting the wicked.—So as to requite a wicked man. Kings, “so as to find guilty” (also the Syriac here). The latter is probably original. “To find guilty a guilty man” corresponds to “justifying a just one,” in the next clause.
By justifying.—So as to justify; or pronounce righteous.
And if thy people Israel be put to the worse before the enemy, because they have sinned against thee; and shall return and confess thy name, and pray and make supplication before thee in this house;(24) And if thy people Israel be put to the worse.—See margin. Kings has a different construction, “when thy people Israel are smitten.” (Comp. 2Chronicles 6:26.)
Because they have sinned.—When or if they sin (so also in 2Chronicles 6:26). LXX., ἐὰν ἁμάρτωσίν. Vuig., “peccabunt enim tibi,” as a parenthesis. Syriac and Arabic, “when.” Kings, if (’asher) they sin, a rarer usage.
Then hear thou from heaven, and forgive the sin of thy servants, and of thy people Israel, when thou hast taught them the good way, wherein they should walk; and send rain upon thy land, which thou hast given unto thy people for an inheritance.(27) Then hear thou from heaven.—Rather, (to) heaven or (in) heaven, as in Kings. (Comp. Note on 2Chronicles 6:23.) The versions read “from heaven.”
When thou . . . way.—For thou pointest them to the good way. A construction only found here. Comp. Psalm 27:11, where we see the simple accusation as in Kings, which is probably right here also, ’el (to) being an error for ’eth (so the versions). Making this change, the verse coincides with 1Kings 8:36.
If there be dearth in the land, if there be pestilence, if there be blasting, or mildew, locusts, or caterpillers; if their enemies besiege them in the cities of their land; whatsoever sore or whatsoever sickness there be:(28) If their enemies besiege them.—If his enemies (Kings, “enemy”) besiege him. (So in 2Chronicles 6:34.)
In the cities of their land.—See margin, which correctly renders the Hebrew text. But the expression “in the land of his gates” is strange. LXX. has, “if the enemy afflict him before their cities;” Vulg., “et hostes, vastatis regionibus, portas obsederint civitatis;” Syriac and Arabic, “when enemies press them hard in their land and in their cities.” Perhaps “in the land (at) his gates” is right (Bertheau).
Then what prayer or what supplication soever shall be made of any man, or of all thy people Israel, when every one shall know his own sore and his own grief, and shall spread forth his hands in this house:(29) When.—Or if, as in LXX. Hebrew, ‘asher. (See Note on 2Chronicles 6:24.)
His own sore (plague) and his own grief.—Kings, “the plague of his own heart.” So Syriac and Arabic. The phrase of the chronicler looks like a gloss on this.
In this house.—The margin is right.
Then hear thou from heaven thy dwelling place, and forgive, and render unto every man according unto all his ways, whose heart thou knowest; (for thou only knowest the hearts of the children of men:)(30) Every man.—The man. Distributive use of the article.
Whose heart thou knowest.—Because thou knowest his heart. So Syriac and Arabic. The Vulg., “which thou knowest him to have in his heart” (as if eth meant with, here).
The children of men.—All has dropped out. So some MSS., Syriac, Arabic, and Kings.
That they may fear thee, to walk in thy ways, so long as they live in the land which thou gavest unto our fathers.(31) To walk in thy ways.—An explanatory remark added by the chronicler.
Moreover concerning the stranger, which is not of thy people Israel, but is come from a far country for thy great name's sake, and thy mighty hand, and thy stretched out arm; if they come and pray in this house;(32) Moreover concerning the stranger.—In this verse, 1Kings 8:41-42, are run together, probably by an error of transcription.
But is come.—And shall come.
For thy great name’s sake.—Kings, “for thy name sake (for they will hear of thy great name and thy mighty hand and thy stretched-out arm), and shall come and pray towards this house.” So nearly the Syriac and Arabic here.
Then hear thou from the heavens, even from 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, and fear thee, as doth thy people Israel, and may know that this house which I have built is called by thy name.(33) Then.—(And) Kings omits; but compare 2Chronicles 6:30; 2Chronicles 6:27; 2Chronicles 6:23, which have the particle. So also some MSS., as well as the LXX., and Syriac, of Kings.
And fear thee.—Better without and; as in Kings, “that they may fear thee.” So Syriac.
If thy people go out to war against their enemies by the way that thou shalt send them, and they pray unto thee toward this city which thou hast chosen, and the house which I have built for thy name;(34) Toward this city.—Literally, the way of this city. So in 2Chronicles 6:38, “the way of their land.”
Then hear thou from the heavens their prayer and their supplication, and maintain their cause.(35) Maintain their cause.—Do (i.e., accomplish) their right. Vulg., “avenge” (them).
If they sin against thee, (for there is no man which sinneth not,) and thou be angry with them, and deliver them over before their enemies, and they carry them away captives unto a land far off or near;(36) Their enemies.—An enemy.
And they carry them away.—See margin. LXX., αἰχμαλωτεύσουσιναὐτοὺς οἱ αἰχμαλωτεύοντες αὐτοὺς.
Yet if they bethink themselves in the land whither they are carried captive, and turn and pray unto thee in the land of their captivity, saying, We have sinned, we have done amiss, and have dealt wickedly;(37) Yet if they bethink themselves.—Compare-margin. If they take it to heart, i.e., repent (Deut. iv- 39).
We have sinned, we have done amiss, and have dealt wickedly.—Comp. the same three verbs in Psalm 106:6; Daniel 9:5 (Kings puts the conjunction before the second verb). There is a climax, “we have slipped (or missed the mark), we have done crookedly, we have been godless.”
If they return to thee with all their heart and with all their soul in the land of their captivity, whither they have carried them captives, and pray toward their land, which thou gavest unto their fathers, and toward the city which thou hast chosen, and toward the house which I have built for thy name:(38) In the land of their captivity, whither they have carried them captives.—Kings, “in the land of their enemies who carried them captives.” The Syriac has, “in the cities of their captors who carried them captive.” Perhaps their captivity is a corruption of their captors; or the relative (’asher), rendered whither, may refer to land, meaning the hostile nation, “in the land of their captivity which carried them captive.”
Then hear thou from the heavens, even from thy dwelling place, their prayer and their supplications, and maintain their cause, and forgive thy people which have sinned against thee.(39) Their supplications.—Kings, sing.; and so some MSS., LXX., Syriac, and Arabic. The plural is found nowhere else, and is probably incorrect here.
And forgive thy people.—This is the first clause of 1Kings 8:50; and from this point to the end of Solomon’s Prayer, the two texts are wholly dissimilar.
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.(40-42) THE PERORATION.
And let thine ears be attent.—Attentive, listening (qas‘s‘ûbôth). The same phrase recurs (2Chronicles 7:15), which is, in fact, a repetition of the whole verse in the shape of a Divine promise, Qas‘s‘ûbôth occurs, besides, only in the late Psalm 130:2.
The prayer that is made in this place.—See margin. “The prayer of this place” is a strange phrase, only occurring here and in 2Chronicles 7:15.
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.(41) Now therefore arise, O Lord God, into thy resting place.—The two verses (2Chronicles 6:41-42) are slightly altered from Psalm 132:8-10. It would seem that the chronicler selected them as forming a more natural and appropriate conclusion to the Prayer of Dedication than that which he found in the older account. The aptness of the quotation may be admitted, without assuming that “for want of this summons to take possession of the sanctuary, the point of the whole prayer is wanting in Kings” (Zöckler). The peroration of 1Kings 8:50-53 is quite natural, though different; the closing thoughts being a return to those with which the prayer began, so that the prayer forms a well-rounded whole, and the suggestion of a lacuna is out of place. There is no difficulty in this view; the difficulty lies rather in maintaining the originality of these verses here. (Comp. the free adaptation of several late Psalms in the Hymn of Praise in 1Chronicles 16:8, sqq.) The versification of the original psalm is neglected here, as there.
(41) Now therefore.—And now added by chronicler.
O Lord God.—Iahweh ’ĕlôhîm. This rare divine title occurs thrice in these two verses, but nowhere else in the prayer. The chronicler uses it as least eight times, but it does not appear at all in the books of Kings. In the Psalm we read simply Iahweh.
Into thy resting place.—Nûah. A late word, found besides only in Esther 9:16-18 (nôah). In the Psalm it is mĕnûhāh, a common word.
The idea that the sanctuary is God’s resting-place is not in keeping with the spirit of the prayer. (Comp. 2Chronicles 6:18; and the frequent expression, “Hear Thou from heaven thy dwelling place.”)
Let thy priests, O Lord God.—Psalm 132:9. The Divine name is added here.
Salvation.—Or, prosperity. The psalm has, “with righteousness;” but the other idea occurs a little after in 2Chronicles 6:16.
Rejoice in goodness.—Be glad at the good. A paraphrase of “shout for joy” in the psalm.
O LORD God, turn not away the face of thine anointed: remember the mercies of David thy servant.(42) O Lord God.—Not in the psalm. The temple invocation is used as in the priest’s blessing (Numbers 6:24-26).
“For the sake of David Thy servant,
Turn not away the face of Thine Anointed.”
The members of the couplet are transposed, and the language of the first is modified by the chronicler, so as to bring in the phrase, “the mercies of David,” that is, Jehovah’s mercies promised to David (Isaiah 55:3; Psalm 89:49).
Remember (zokrāh)—Only here and five times in Nehemish.