James Gray - Concise Bible Commentary
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.1 Kings 6:1-7:51
BUILDING THE TEMPLE
THE WORK IN OUTLINE (1 Kings 6:1-14)
Note the particularities as to date, dimensions and general appearance (1 Kings 6:1-4), on which space will not permit extended comment. As to the size of the cubit, the question as to whether the elevation is external or internal, the description and purpose of the windows, for example, students must be referred to Bible dictionaries.
The chambers (1 Kings 6:5-10) on three sides of the temple seem to have been three stories high, each wider than that beneath it, with a winding stairway on the interior leading to the middle and upper stories.
Travelers speak of a quarry near Jerusalem from which the stones are likely to have come. There is evidence too, that they were dressed there as the text says (1 Kings 6:7), for other stones like them in size and substance are found in the remains.
The communication of the Lord to Solomon is significant of encouragement and warning. When He speaks of dwelling among His people it has the same meaning as when He used the words in the wilderness. The visible glory resting over the mercy seat in the most holy place was the token of His presence. It remained there while the nation served Him, and that meant that He was protecting and blessing them.
THE DETAILS (1 Kings 6:15-38)
1 Kings 6:15 reveals that the walls were sheathed with cedar and the floor planked with fir or cypress; thus the stone was entirely hidden. The walls were carved in relief with foliage and flowers (1 Kings 6:18) and cherubim and palm trees (1 Kings 6:29). But the whole was overlaid with gold (1 Kings 6:22).
Comparing the first and last verses of the chapter, how long was the temple in building? In round numbers how does the last verse reckon it?
SOLOMON’S OWN PALACE (1 Kings 7:1-12)
Perhaps the longer time occupied in building this is explained by the fact that its completion was not so urgent or important as the temple, and that the same preparation for it had not been made in advance (1 Kings 7:1).
In the Revised Version 1 Kings 7:2 begins: “For he built the house of the forest of Lebanon.” This indicates that it is still his own house which is referred to, the material for which came from the same locality as that for the temple.
The edifice seems to have been oblong (1 Kings 7:2), with a front porch used as a judgment hall (1 Kings 7:6-7). There was also a large hall in the center, on one side of which were the king’s apartments and on the other those of the queen (1 Kings 7:8). Compare Esther 2:3; Esther 2:9.
The phrase in 1 Kings 7:12, “the inner court of the house of the Lord,” should read as in the Revised Version, “like as the inner court,” etc. The meaning is that, in the palace as in the temple, the same rows of hewn stones and cedar beams formed the wall.
THE FOREIGN CRAFTSMAN AND HIS WORK (1 Kings 7:13-51)
This “Hiram” was not the king of Tyre, but another man of that country by the same name, and evidently a genius in metal work (1 Kings 7:14).
Tyrians and other Pheonicians were not only great workers in timber (1 Kings 7:6), but renowned the world over for the art in which he so greatly excelled.
But Hiram had Jewish blood in him too (1 Kings 7:14). Here he is said to be of the tribe of Naphtali on his mother’s side, while 2 Chronicles 2:14 speaks of her as of Dan; but she may have belonged to the first named while living in Dan.
Hiram’s work consisted, first, of the pillars of the temple and their capitols, the latter beautifully ornamented, and which were named as they were set up (1 Kings 7:15-22).
Next came the “molten sea” (1 Kings 7:23-26), which was not the same as the brazen laver of the tabernacle, as will be seen by comparing 2 Chronicles 4:1-6, especially verse 6.
Then “the ten bases of brass” (1 Kings 7:27-39), which, according to 1 Kings 7:38, were for the support of the brazen layers. And these in turn were for the washing of the sacrifices (see 2 Chronicles 1, as above).
Hiram also made what other things (1 Kings 7:40)? What locality was selected for the furnaces, and why? (For answer to the last half of this question compare the margin with the text of the verse.) The reference here is to bronze rather than what we know as brass.
Observe in 1 Kings 7:51 that in addition to the furnishings which Solomon made for the temple and which were modeled after those in the tabernacle of the wilderness, he also deposited therein the sacred articles “which David his father had dedicated,” though they probably were not used.
1. What archaeological evidence is born to the historical character of this narrative?
2. How does God encourage and warn Solomon?
3. Why may a longer period have been taken in building the palace than the temple?
4. For what were the people on the north of Palestine noted?
5. How would you harmonize verse 14 with the corresponding reference in 2 Chronicles?
6. What do the names Jachin and Boaz mean?
7. For what use was the molten sea?