Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures
B.—The Consecration of the Temple
1 KINGS 8:1–66
11THEN Solomon assembled the elders of Israel, and all the heads of the tribes, the chief2 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 [Jehovah] out of the city of David, which is Zion. 2And all the men of Israel assembled themselves unto king Solomon at the feast in the month Ethanim, which is the seventh month. 3And all the elders of Israel came, and the priests took up the ark. 4And they brought up the ark of the Lord [Jehovah], 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. 5And 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. 6And the priests brought in the ark of the covenant of the Lord [Jehovah] unto his place, into the oracle of the house, to the most holy place, even under the wings of the cherubims. 7For the cherubims spread forth their two wings over the place of the ark, and the cherubims covered the ark and the staves3 thereof above. 8And they drew out4 the staves, that the ends of the staves were seen out in the holy place before the oracle, and they were not seen 9without: and there they are unto this day. There was nothing in the ark save the two tables of stone, which Moses put there at Horeb, when the Lord [Jehovah] made a covenant with the children of Israel, when they came out of the land of Egypt. 10And it came to pass when the priests were come out of the holy place, that the cloud filled the house of the Lord [Jehovah], 11so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud: for the glory of the Lord [Jehovah] had [omit had5] filled the house of the Lord [Jehovah]. Then spake 12Solomon, The Lord [Jehovah] said that he would dwell in the thick darkness. 13I have surely built thee an house to dwell in, a settled place for thee to abide in for ever.6
14And the king turned his face about, and blessed all the congregation of Israel: and all the congregation of Israel stood; 15and he said, Blessed be the Lord [Jehovah] God of Israel,7 which spake with his mouth unto David my father, and hath with his hand fulfilled it, saying, 16Since 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;8 but I chose David to be over my people Israel. 17And it was in the heart of David my father to build an house for the name of the Lord [Jehovah] God of Israel. 18And the Lord [Jehovah] said unto David my father, Whereas it was9 in thine heart to 19build an house unto my name, thou didst well that it was9 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. 20And the Lord [Jehovah] hath performed [established10] his word that he spake, and I am risen up [established10] in the room of David my father, and sit on the throne of Israel, as the Lord [Jehovah] promised, and have built an house for the name of the Lord 21[Jehovah] God of Israel. And I have set there a place for the ark, wherein is the covenant of the Lord [Jehovah], which he made with our fathers, when he brought them out of the land of Egypt.
22And Solomon stood before the altar of the Lord [Jehovah] in the presence of all the congregation of Israel, and spread forth his hands toward heaven: 23And he said, Lord [Jehovah] God of Israel, there is no God like thee, in heaven above, or on earth beneath, who keepest covenant and mercy with thy servants11 that walk before thee with all their heart: 24who hast kept with thy servant David my father that thou promisedst [spakest to11] him: thou spakest also with thy mouth, and hast fulfilled it with thine hand, as it is this day. 25Therefore now, Lord [Jehovah] God of Israel, keep with thy servant David my father that thou promisedst [spakest to12] him, saying, There shall not fail thee a man in my sight to sit on the throne of Israel; so that thy children [sons] take heed to their way, that they walk before me as thou hast walked before me. 26And now, O13 God of Israel, let thy word,14 I pray thee, be verified, which thou spakest unto thy servant David my father. 27But 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? 28Yet have thou respect unto the prayer of thy servant, and to his supplication, O Lord [Jehovah] my God, to hearken unto the cry and to the prayer, which thy servant prayeth before thee to-day: 29that 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. 30And hearken thou to the supplication of thy servant, and of thy people Israel, when they shall pray toward this place: and hear thou in15 heaven thy dwelling-place: and when thou hearest, forgive. 31If 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: 32then hear thou in16 heaven, and do, and judge thy servants, condemning the wicked, to bring17 his way upon his head; and justifying the righteous, to give17 him according to his righteousness. 33When 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: 34then 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. 35When 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: 36then hear thou in heaven, and forgive the sin of thy servants, and of thy people Israel, that thou teach them [when thou teachest them (by affliction)] the good way wherein they should walk, and give rain upon thy land, which thou hast given to thy people for an inheritance. 37If there be in the land famine, if there be pestilence, blasting, mildew,18 locust, or if there be caterpillar [if there be consuming locust19]; if their enemy besiege them in the land of their cities; whatsoever plague, whatsoever sickness there be; 38what 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,20 and spread forth his hands toward this house: 39then 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;) 40that they may fear thee all the days that 41they live in the land which thou gavest unto our fathers. Moreover, concerning a stranger, that is not of thy people Israel, but cometh out of a far country for thy name’s sake;21 42(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;22 43hear 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. 44If thy people go out to battle against their enemy,23 whithersoever thou shalt send them, and shall pray unto the Lord [Jehovah] toward the city which thou hast chosen, and toward the house that I have built for thy name: 45then hear thou in heaven their prayer and their supplication, and maintain their cause.24 46If 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, 47far or near; 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, 48we 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: 49then hear thou their prayer and their supplication in heaven thy dwelling-place, and maintain their cause, 50and 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 51have compassion on them: for they be thy people, and thine inheritance, which thou broughtest forth out of Egypt, from the midst of the furnace of iron: 52that thine eyes may be open25 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. 53For 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 [Jehovah] God.26
54And it was so, that when Solomon had made an end of praying all this prayer and supplication unto the Lord [Jehovah], he arose from before the altar of the Lord [Jehovah], from kneeling on his knees with his hands spread up to heaven. 55And he stood, and blessed all the congregation of Israel with a loud 56voice, saying, Blessed be the Lord [Jehovah], 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. 57The Lord [Jehovah] our God be with us, as he was with our fathers: let him not leave us, nor forsake us: 58that 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. 59And let these my words, wherewith I have made supplication before the Lord [Jehovah], be nigh unto the Lord [Jehovah] our God day and night, that he maintain the cause27 of his servant, and the cause of his people Israel at all times, as the matter shall require:28 60that all the people of the earth may know that the Lord [Jehovah] is God, and that there is none else. 61Let your heart therefore be perfect with the Lord [Jehovah] our God, to walk in his statutes, and to keep his commandments, as at this day.
62And the king, and all Israel with him, offered sacrifice before the Lord [Jehovah]. 63And Solomon offered a sacrifice of peace offerings, which he offered unto the Lord [Jehovah], 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 [Jehovah]. 64The same day did the king hallow the middle of the court that was before the house of the Lord [Jehovah]: for there he offered burnt offerings, and meat offerings, and the fat of the peace offerings: because the brazen altar that was before the Lord [Jehovah] was too little to receive the burnt offerings, and meat offerings, and the fat of the peace offerings. 65And 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 [Jehovah] our God, seven days and seven days, even fourteen days. 66On 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 [Jehovah] had done for David his servant, and for Israel his people.
Exegetical and Critical
1 Kings 8:1–7. Then Solomon assembled, &c. The section 2 Chron. 5:2 to 6:42, which is for the most part like it, may be compared with this whole chapter. The little word אָזtime denotes, like 1 Kings 8:12 (comp. Josh. 10:12; Ex. 15:1), the point of time which immediately follows what is above related, and means, what indeed the context infers, namely, that as soon as all the vessels were finished (1 Kings 7:51), Solomon proceeded to dedicate the temple. In accordance with the great importance of the temple-building to the whole theocracy, he called together the elders, i.e., the presiding officers of communities, and also the heads of the tribes and the families, that the entire people might thereby be represented. The solemnity took place at the feast in the month Ethanim, which is the seventh month. The usual interpretation of הָאֵתָנִים, month of the flowing rivers (rainy season), is more acceptable than that of Thenius, gift (fruit) month, or that of Böttcher, suspension of the equinox. This month was called Tisri in our writer’s time and later; upon this account he expressly says that Ethanim was the seventh. The feast of tabernacles occurred on the 15th of this month (Levit. 23:34); it was the greatest and best observed of all the three yearly festivals, and was especially called “the feast” by the Jews (Symb. des Mos. Kult. ii. s. 656). Solomon therefore very fitly solemnized the dedication of the temple at the time of this feast. Although the text gives here only the month and the day, and not the year, it is of course to be understood that it was the first feast of tabernacles that occurred after the completion of the temple in the eighth month (1 Kings 6:38); consequently it fell in the following year. The opinion that the dedication took place in the seventh month of the same year, in the eighth month of which the temple was finished (Ewald), needs no refutation. The assertion of Thenius, with which Keil also now agrees, appears more probable. He thinks that the temple was not dedicated until twenty years from the commencement of the building, i.e., thirteen years after its completion; because the divine answer to the dedication prayer, according to 1 Kings 9:1–10, did not come till the temple of Jehovah and the king’s house were both finished (1 Kings 6:38, and 7:1), and in the Sept. chap. 9 begins with these words: “And it came to pass, when Solomon had finished the building of the house of the Lord, and the king’s house (after twenty years), he assembled, &c.;” but the passage, 1 Kings 9:1, certainly does not say that the dedication did not take place for twenty years, or that Jehovah immediately thereafter appeared to Solomon; it speaks not only of the completion of both those buildings, but of all the others besides, which Solomon had begun (1 Kings 9:19), so that we must in that case place the dedication much later than twenty years (see below, on 1 Kings 9:1). As to the words of the Sept., they are unmistakably a gloss from 1 Kings 9:1 and 10, inserted here, and such as is found nowhere else, either in a MS. or in any other ancient translation, and therefore can never be regarded as the original text. When we consider how very desirous David was to build an house unto the Lord, that when he was not permitted to do so, he pressed the task as a solemn duty upon his son, that Solomon then, as soon as he had established his throne, began the building and continued it with great zeal; it seems utterly incredible that he should have left the finished building thirteen years unused, and delayed its dedication until the twenty-fourth year of his reign. The weightiest reasons alone could have induced him to do so, but we hear nothing of any such. Even if we suppose the vessels not to have been finished as soon as the building, but to have been commenced after its completion, still it could not have taken thirteen years to make them; and there was no reason why the dedication of the temple should have been put off until the palace was finished, the latter requiring no solemn dedication, while the speedy dedication of the central sanctuary was an urgent necessity if the restoration of the unity of worship, commanded by the law, was to be established.
To bring up the ark of the covenant of the Lord. In the march through the wilderness, the ark was covered with some cloths, and carried by the levites (Numb. 4:5, 15), but on special occasions, the priests themselves carried it, as here and in Josh. 3:6; 6:6. Not only the ark, but the tabernacle, which had hitherto stood at Gibeon (2 Chron. 1:3, 4), with all its vessels, was brought out from Zion into the temple. While the priests carried the ark, the levites (1 Kings 8:4) carried the other things pertaining to the tent, all of which were doubtless preserved in the rooms of the side-structure. When the procession reached the temple (1 Kings 8:5), the ark was laid down in the outer court before the entrance to the holy place, and a great and solemn sacrifice offered; then the priests bore the ark to its appointed place. For 1 Kings 8:6 and 7 see above, on 1 Kings 6:23 sq.
1 Kings 8:8–9. And they drew out the staves, that the ends, &c. 1 Kings 8:8, which has had the most various interpretations put upon it, is nothing but a parenthesis following the concluding words of the preceding verse, explaining how it happened that the great cherubim-statues, with their wings stretched across the entire width of the sanctuary (1 Kings 6:27), not only overshadowed the ark itself, but even its staves. As it says in Ex. 25:15, the staves were never to be removed, but were to belong inseparably to the ark. If the cherubim-statues then were to overshadow the ark, they should also cover the staves inseparably united to it. Now as the ark lay lengthwise north and south in the holy of holies, and the wings of the cherubim-statues stretched from the southern to the northern wall of the holy of holies, the staves which they overshadowed with their wings must have been placed north and south, i.e., on the longer sides of the ark, as Josephus (Ant.iii. 6, 5) expressly states. Therefore, their heads or ends could be seen from the sanctuary (great space) only close before the holy of holies (Debir). The reason why the staves were so long (וַאֲרִכוּ is to be understood as intransitive, as Keil remarks; as in Ex. 20:12; Deut. 5:16; 25:15, and not to be translated: they made the staves long, as Kimchi and Thenius make it, for thus אֵתּ should stand before הַבַּדִּים) was in consequence of the weight of the ark, which must have been considerable, because the stone tables of the law were inside of the ark; and it was carried by more than four, perhaps by eight priests, who did not touch it, as was commanded in Numb. 4:15. And as the holy of holies was only intended for the ark of the covenant (1 Kings 6:19), and the latter was only two and a half cubits long, with its long staves inseparable from it, it took up nearly the whole space. The oldest interpretation of our verse was borrowed from the Rabbins; it says that the staves were drawn so far forward that their ends touched the veil of the most holy place, and caused visible protrusions on the outside; but this is disproved by the fact that the staves were placed on the longest side of the ark, and pointed south and north, not east and west, consequently could not have touched the curtain. Thenius, with whom Merz and Bertheau agree, explains the simple sentence in 1 Kings 8:8 “by optical laws: when a person at the entrance of the holy place (he makes מִן־הַקֹּדֶשׁ mean that) could have seen through the open door the ends of the staves of the ark which was in the middle of the holy of holies, these staves must have been, according to the laws of perspective, seven cubits long.” This highly ingenious explanation rests, as Keil justly remarks, on ill-founded suppositions, comp. Böttcher Aehrenl. ii. s. 69. The words עַל־פְּנֵי הַדְּבִיר cannot be translated: “from the great space before the debir,” but mean, from the sanctuary, “when a person stood close before the dark holy of holies” (Ewald), or “near the most holy” (Merz). It is certain that the writer of these books had not the remotest thought about the laws of optics and perspective. The addition, and there they are unto this day, means: though the ark now had its fixed resting-place, the staves were left, according to the command Ex. 25:15, in order to signify that it was the same ark, which dated from the time when Israel was chosen to be a covenant people. The expression “unto this day,” also occurring, 1 Kings 9:21; 12:19; 2 Kings 8:22, shows that the writer drew from a manuscript written before the destruction of the temple, and did not deem it necessary to deviate from its words.
1 Kings 8:9. There was nothing in the ark, &c. 1 Kings 8:9 returns to the ark itself, and emphasizes the fact that it was brought into the holy of holies (1 Kings 8:6) because it preserved the original document of the covenant which God made with Israel, which consisted of the “ten commandments that the Lord spake unto them” (Deut. 10:4). By virtue of this document, the ark was the pledge of the covenant relation; and at the same time was the fundamental condition of the religious and political life of Israel; it naturally formed the heart and central point of the sanctuary or dwelling-place of Jehovah in the midst of His chosen people (compare Symb. des Mos. Kult., i. s. 383 sq.); “there would have been no temple without the ark of the covenant, that alone made it a sanctuary” (Hengstenberg). According to Hebr. 9:4, the ark contained, besides the tables of the law, the golden pot with manna (Ex. 16:33), and Aaron’s rod (Numb. 17:25). The endeavor has been made to reconcile this passage with the one under consideration, by the supposition that those two additional objects were no longer in the ark in Solomon’s time, having only been there when Moses lived, the latter period being the one in the mind of the writer to the Hebrews (Ebrard, Moll, and others). But the passages quoted only say they were laid “before Jehovah” or “before the testimony;” not in the ark. The Jewish tradition alone renders it in (Schöttgen, hor. Hebr. p. 973), and this tradition, with which the reader of this epistle may have been familiar, was probably in the writer’s mind, for he was not desirous of giving an exact archæological description (comp. Tholuck and Bleek on Heb. 9:4). V. Meyer’s opinion, which Lisco also adopts, that the manna and rod were not in the ark any longer because “the direct theocracy, with its spiritual sceptre, and its blessings, had departed, and the people had an earthly king who was now to guide and watch over them,” is in the highest degree erroneous. Horeb is not the highest summit of the mountains of Sinai, but a general name for the mountain-range of which Sinai is only a part: comp. Thenius on the place.
1 Kings 8:10–13. And it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the holy place, &c. Ex. 40:34, 35, is almost the same as 1 Kings 8:10 and 11; “then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation, because the cloud abode thereon (שָׁכַן) and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.” It is plain that the author meant, what once happened at the dedication of the tabernacle took place again at the dedication of the house. The cloud, not a cloud (Luther), but that, in and with which, as once at the tabernacle, the glory of the Lord came down, though naturally not the same cloud as at that time. What 1 Kings 8:10 says of the cloud, 1 Kings 8:11 says of the glory of the Lord; it filled the house, not only the most holy place, but the whole dwelling, so that the priests were prevented for a moment from performing their functions in the sanctuary. We cannot possibly conceive this to have been the cloud of smoke “which, rising from the burning offerings on the altar, veiled the glory of the Lord” (Bertheau on 2 Chron. 5:14); for in this case the priests themselves would have been prevented from officiating. Nor can we, on account of the כְבּוֹד־יְהוָֹה, think as Thenius, of the “bright and streaming cloud” which the Rabbins name שְׁכִינָה, for Solomon could not have said, on beholding it: Jehovah dwells בָּעֲרָפֶל; this word denoting, as Thenius himself rightly says, “exactly the black darkness;” and he takes an unwarrantable liberty when, as the Chaldee, he reads בִּירוּשָׁלַםִ for it. It is admitted that the “darkness must refer to the cloud” just also as that which in Ex. 19:9 is named צָנָן is called עֲרָפֶל in Ex. 20:21; and in Deut. 4:11; 5:9; Ps. 97:2, both words are conjoined as synonymies. Keil, too, thinks the עָנָן is the shekinah, for he says: “the glory of the Lord, which is like a consuming fire, manifested itself in the cloud.” But this also is contradicted by the words of Solomon, that the Lord dwells in the (thick) darkness; the text has not a syllable about a fiery appearance; and certainly a consuming fire cannot be thought of here, where the subject is the gracious presence of the Lord. Abar-banel indeed thinks that the fire of the cloud burst forth from it, after Solomon’s prayer, and consumed the burnt-offering, 2 Chron. 7:1; but it expressly says in this passage, that fire came “from heaven” (and therefore not out of the cloud). Keil further remarks: “This wonderful manifestation of the divine glory only took place at the dedication; afterwards, the cloud was visible in the holy of holies only on the great day of atonement, when the high-priest entered there” (Lev. 16:2). This, however, is quite contrary to the rabbinical belief, which was that the shekinah hung constantly above the ark of the covenant; and it also presupposes that the wonderful manifestation was regularly repeated on that solemnity of atonement, although neither the text nor the Jewish tradition mentions such a thing; and this would have no analogy with God’s miracles, which never recur regularly on a particular day. Our text only mentions a dark cloud, which, as it filled the whole house, must necessarily have only been a passing phenomenon; it served to show that the Lord, as once in the tent, would now henceforth dwell in the house built for Him. כְבוֹד־יְהוָֹה stands, as Solomon’s phrase in 1 Kings 8:12 shows, for Jehovah himself, and is the standing Old Testament designation of the being (majesty) of God [like the δόξα of the New Testament.—E. H.], raised absolutely above all that is creaturely, yet stooping (שָׁכַן, Ex. 40:35), i.e., concentrating himself, in order to manifest and assert himself, either blessing and saving as here, or punishing and destroying, as for instance, in Ps. 18. The Lord said. Because there is no passage showing that the Lord spoke those words, Thenius translates אָמַר “the Lord proposeth to dwell in the thick darkness: or, He has made known that He will dwell in the thick darkness;” but just because the Lord had said so, Solomon beheld in the cloud a sign that he had come down to dwell in the temple (שָׁנַן); he remembered the plain declaration Ex. 19:9; Levit. 16:2. “Overpowered by that sublime moment, and filled with joy that he was counted worthy of the favor of being allowed to build a house for the Lord, he utters the joyful words” (Bertheau): בָּנֹח בָנִיתִי, surely! I have built; for which Chron. gives אֲנִי בָנִיתִי; I, yea, I have built. For the words in 1 Kings 8:13, an house to dwell in, a settled place, see on 1 Kings 6:2, a, Historical and Ethical.עוֹלָמִים is similar to Josh. 4:7; Job 19:24; 1 Kings 1:31 (comp. Hengstenberg, Christol. ii. s. 432 sq.). According to 2 Chron. 5:12 sq., songs of praise, accompanied by harps and psalteries, burst forth, as the priests came out of the sanctuary.
1 Kings 8:14–21. And the king turned his face, &c. Solomon had spoken the words of 1 Kings 8:12 and 13 with his face turned to the temple; but he now turned towards the people who were in the outer court, and who listened standing, i.e., with proper reverence, to the following discourse. This is a solemn declaration (1 Kings 8:15–21) that the temple was undertaken and finished according to Jehovah’s word and will. The course of thought is, compared with 2 Chron. 6:4–11, as follows: “so long as Israel, after the departure from Egypt, wandered about, and had not come into possession of the promised land, Jehovah had chosen no abiding dwelling-place, His habitation was movable—a tent. But after He had chosen David to be king, and brought His people by him to the full and quiet possession of the promised land, it was fitting that He, as well as the nation, should have an abiding dwelling-place. Jerusalem being the city of David, and the central point of the kingdom promised to him ‘for ever,’ Jehovah had chosen this very city for His ‘everlasting’ habitation. It was, however, forbidden to my father, David, to execute His purpose, namely, to build an house to the name of the Lord, instead of the tent; according to divine direction, He deputed this work to me, whom Jehovah had already confirmed as his successor. I then, specially commissioned and empowered to do so, have built this house, and brought into it the ark of the covenant, the pledge of the divine gracious presence; and the cloud that has just now filled the house, as once it did the tent, is the sign that Jehovah will dwell here.” The promise, the fulfilment of which Solomon refers to in this discourse, is that of 2 Sam. 7:4–16, comp. with 1 Chron. 22:6–11 and 28:2–7. For the expression: that my name shall be there, the pregnant meaning of which we may gather from its constant repetition (1 Kings 8:16, 17, 18, 19, comp. 29, 43, 44), see above, on chap. 6 Histor. and Ethical, 2, 6. It is worthy of notice that at the beginning and the conclusion of the address (1 Kings 8:16 and 21), the building of the temple is placed in relation to the deliverance from Egypt. Comp. above on 1 Kings 6:1.
1 Kings 8:22–26. And Solomon stood before the altar of the Lord.2 Chron. 6:13 mentions that Solomon had a brazen scaffold (כִיוֹר) made, which he mounted, and then knelt down to pray (comp. v. 54); as the text says nothing of its form, we will not decide whether it had, as Thenius thinks, a square support, and a rounded edge. Certainly it was a species of pulpit, not behind, but before the altar of burnt-offering. It does not follow from נֶגֶד, that Solomon again turned his face to the temple (Thenius): it means before, opposite; the people therefore could not have stood behind him, which must have happened, had he turned his back to them. The spreading out the hands is a sign of praying, just as our folding of the hands is (Ex. 9:29, 31; Ps. 44:21; 143:6; Isai. 1:15; 65:2, &c.). Modern criticism has pronounced the dedication prayer in its given form, 1 Kings 8:23–61, to be unauthentic. De Wette and Stähelin place the time of its composition in the period of the exile. Ewald admits that it is, “notwithstanding its length, a very fine discourse; but belonging, in the style of thought, rather to the seventh than the eleventh or tenth century,” and thinks that it was most probably composed by the first of the so-called elaborators of Deuteronomy. According to Thenius, there is a sketch in the prayer to be held as historical, though it be brief; but it contains considerable interpolations, as 1 Kings 8:44–51; and the frequent coincidence with passages in Deut. and Josh., as well as “the style, which is so often diffuse, verbose, and watery (!), denote a more recent working up.” We remark, on the other hand: that the text containing the prayer, in Chron., perfectly coincides with that in Kings, except in a few particulars; but this proves that it was not taken from the latter, but that both accounts were derived from a common source. So much then is certain, that our writer did not invent the prayer, but found it in the original which he drew from, and gave it again—as the similar text of Chron. shows—unaltered. The only question then is, of what date was the common original? 1 Kings 11:41 names as such the “book of the acts of Solomon,” and the chronicler, “the book of Nathan the prophet” (2 Chron. 9:29). The latter, however, cannot certainly belong to the seventh century, still less to the time of the captivity; it evidently was written, as Bleek justly remarks, “in view of the state of things, when the temple, the city of Jerusalem, and David’s kingdom still existed.” As to the “thoughts,” Thenius admits that the verses 27, 28, 41–43, 58, 60, “are fully worthy of a Solomon,” and this without being able to prove that the others are unworthy of them; they are, on the contrary, in fit connection and perfect harmony with them (for the so-called interpolations of the 1 Kings 8:44–51, see below, on the place). We can only conclude that this prayer was of later composition, because of its harmony with some passages of Deut. and Lev., if these books also belong to a later period; and this is unproved. But with equal propriety, inversely, we may conclude from the prayer, that these books were in existence in the time of Solomon, and were known to him as the pupil of a prophet. Finally, if the style and composition of the prayer, because they are verbose and watery, prove later working up, this objection rests on purely subjective taste; and we have just as good a right to hold, as Ewald does, that it is, “in spite of its length, a very fine discourse.” It is incredible besides, that a discourse, holding so important a place in Old Testament history, should have been composed later, and falsely put into the mouth of the great king; we must believe, on the contrary, that if ever a speech were written down and preserved carefully, it was that one.
1 Kings 8:23–26. Lord God of Israel, &c. 1 Kings 8:23–26, form the introduction to the prayer which is united to the speech, 1 Kings 8:15–21, and gives praise and thanks to God for having already fulfilled the promise made to David (1 Kings 8:23, 24) in so far as the house (2 Sam. 7:5–16) was concerned, uniting with it the request that the Lord would further fulfil it, with regard to the house, i.e., the rape of David, and their sitting upon the throne of Israel (1 Kings 8:25, 26). The address, there is no God like Thee, &c., means: not that there is no god among all those in heaven and earth like Thee: but, nothing is like to Thee, who art in heaven above and on earth below. Jehovah, the God of Israel, is not compared here with other gods, but on the contrary, is described as the only true God (comp. Deut. 4:39; Josh. 2:11; 2 Sam. 7:22; 22:32). He had shown himself such especially by His keeping of the covenant, by His mercy (Deut. 7:9; Dan. 9:4), and by the fulfilment of His gracious promise. בַּיּוֹם הַוֶּה 1 Kings 8:24 as in 1 Kings 3:6. The house, as it now stands, is a witness to His faithfulness to the covenant. Thenius remarks on 1 Kings 8:26: The urgency of the petition is shown by its concise repetition.
1 Kings 8:27–30. But will God indeed, &c. The prayer passes, at 1 Kings 8:27, to its chief object, the temple, with which all the rest of it is occupied. בִּי at the beginning is used here as in 1 Sam. 29:8; 1 Kings 11:22; 2 Kings 8:13; Jer. 23:18, “merely as an impressive introduction to the interrogatory sentence that leads to the real prayer” (Thenius), and is not, therefore, a mere confirming particle, as Keil, who connects our verse with 1 Kings 8:26 instead of with 1 Kings 8:28–30, repeatedly asserts. The petition in 1 Kings 8:26: that God would indeed keep the house (dynasty) of David on the throne, was not founded on the fact that the heaven of heavens could not contain Him, still less that temple. On the contrary, the entire contents of the following prayer are, that God would hear all the prayers that should be offered in this place; hence Solomon very naturally begins with the thought, can the infinite, unconfined Deity really have His dwelling here? The expression, the heaven and heaven of heavens, can have nothing to do with the different heavens taught by Jewish theology (Schöttgen, hor. hebr. p. 719), but is the description of the heavens in their all-embracing extent, as Deut. 10:14; Ps. 115:16. This is the connection of 1 Kings 8:27 and 28: Thou art the infinite God whom no house built by man can contain, but I beseech Thee to show thyself here, as a God who answers prayer. In 1 Kings 8:28 Solomon prays that God would hear his present prayer, and in 1 Kings 8:29 and 30 that He would also in the future always hear the prayers of the king and people in this place. The different expressions for prayer in the verses 28–30 are not very different in their meaning, and are placed near together here, to describe every kind of prayer. The words, that thine eyes may be open (1 Kings 8:29), do not mean that God was besought to watch over the building, and take it under His almighty protection, but always to see, when any one prayed there, and to hear his prayer, to turn His eyes and ears toward the house (comp. Ps. 34:16). For the placing of the temple and heaven (1 Kings 8:30) in antithesis, which is done indeed through the entire prayer, see above, on chap. 6 Histor. and Ethic. 2 c. The prayer for forgiveness is joined to the prayer for hearing, at the conclusion, as also in 1 Kings 8:34, 36, 39, 50, because man, who is full of sin and guilt, can only hope for the acceptance of his prayer when his sins are forgiven; every answer to prayer rests on the sinpardoning grace of God.
1 Kings 8:31–32. If any man trespass against, &c. The prayer that God may hear in general is now followed, from 1 Kings 8:31 on, by prayers for particular cases, of which there are seven altogether; which is no more remarkable than that the Lord’s prayer, Matt. 6:9 sq., also contains the sacred number seven, the number of the covenant (Symb. des Mos. Kult. i. s. 193). The first of the seven prayers (1 Kings 8:31, 32) concerns the observation of the oath as sacred, namely, in cases like those of Ex. 22:7–10 and Lev. 5:21–24. For אֵת אֲשֶׁר it is אִם in 2 Chron. 6:22; it means: the case happening, that=when (Keil). וּבָא אָלָה cannot be translated; and the oath comes, as the article is wanting to אָלָה; all the old translations give: comes and swears. Before the altar, i.e., the place of divine witness and presence (Ex. 20:24). Thou bringest his deed upon his head, i.e., thou punishest him for his false oath (Ezek. 9:10). We receive no answer from the commentators to the question, why is the prayer with respect to the oath placed foremost in the seven petitions? Perhaps the reason is as follows: The temple, which is constantly and impressively exalted in the chapter we are considering, was built to the name of Jehovah, which should be deemed holy; but the oath was nothing more than the calling upon the sacred name; i.e., the name of that God who had made himself known as a holy God, and who does not allow the misuse of his name to go unpunished (according to Ecclesiasticus 23:9, ὅρκος is equivalent to ὀνομασία τοῦ ἁγίον, comp. 1 Kings 8:11: ὁ ὀμνύων καὶ ὀνομάζων); they swore by the name of God, is an oath-form in Levit. 19:12; Deut. 6:13; 10:20; Isai. 48:1; Jerem. 12:16; 44:26. The false oath was a contemptuous use of the name to which the house was built; but it was the chief requirement from him who stood in the holy place, that he should not swear falsely, Ps. 24:3, 4. The command to keep the name of God holy, stands also first among the commandments of the fundamental law (Ex. 20:7), and it is the first of the seven petitions in the Lord’s prayer: hallowed be Thy name (Matt. 6:9).
1 Kings 8:33–34. When thy people Israel be smitten down, &c. The second petition concerns the case of captives, who had, through their guilt, merited overthrow, and were led away by their conquerors; and beseeches Jehovah for the return of the people to their native land. To be taken away from the land of promise, to be separated from communion with the covenant people, in whose midst Jehovah dwelt, and to live among heathens, was the greatest of all misfortunes to an Israelite, and it was very natural to pray against it. And confess thy name must be connected with שָׁבוּ; if they, feeling their guilt, acknowledge Thee God, dwelling and manifesting thyself here; it is not then the same as: praise Jehovah (Gesenius, Winer). It is unnecessary to seek a direct association of ideas between this second and the first petition. Thenius says: “The internal welfare of the state was secured by fidelity and faith arising from fear of God, but that welfare could be in peril from without.” Nor is there here a direct reference to Lev. 26:17 and Deut. 28:25, as Keil asserts.
1 Kings 8:35–40. When heaven is shut up, &c. The third petition (1 Kings 8:35, 36), and the fourth (1 Kings 8:37–40), concern divine judgments by means of long-continued drought and land-plagues. As the rain, on which the fertility of the soil, and therefore all outward prosperity, depended in the East, was a sign of divine blessing (Ezek. 34:26 sq.), so drought was a sign of curse and punishment (Lev. 26:3, 19; Deut. 28:15, 23; 11:17; Am. 4:7; Hagg. 1:11). The meaning of 1 Kings 8:36 is: when the people were brought into the right way again, by the merited chastisement, then he beseeches God to hear their supplication, and to forgive their sin and to send rain again. In 1 Kings 8:37 there are coincidences with Lev. 26:25; Deut. 28:22; but hunger, plague, blasting, and mildew are elsewhere mentioned as divine chastisements (Am. 4:9, 10; Jerem. 14:12; 24:10; Ezek. 6:12; 14:21). חָסִּיל is in apposition (according to Keil), to describe the plague of locusts (Deut. 28:38); Thenius thinks the copula before it, which the chronicler and the old translations give, is wanting, and that a worse kind of locust is meant (Joel 1:4; Ps. 78:46). בְּאֶרֶץ שְׁעָרָיו is literally: in the land of his gates, which, however, gives no sense; it is clear that בָּאָרֶץ must be read (as Bertheau has it), and שְׁעָרָיו be supplied with ב, as is clear from Deut. 28:52: “thou shalt be besieged in all thy gates, in thy whole land.” Thenius unnecessarily reads, according to the Sept. (ἑν μιᾷ τῶν πόλεων αὐτῶν) בְּאַחַת instead of בארץ. The words say—when the enemy is in his land, yea, even besieging his well-protected towns. The wasting of the land by locusts was similar to the wasting by hostile armies, that invaded the land like locusts (Jud. 6:5). Which shall know every man, &c. (1 Kings 8:38), i.e., when each one should see the connection “between his sin and the plague inflicted on him by God, and allow it to work out his chastisement” (Bertheau). According to his ways (1 Kings 8:39), i.e., by the repentant heart, shown in all his conduct. Whether this repentance is really felt, He alone, who “searches the hearts” of the children of men, can know (Jer. 17:10). The reason of the hearing of prayer is given in 1 Kings 8:40: continuance in godly fear (comp. Deut. 4:10).
1 Kings 8:41–43. Moreover concerning a stranger, &c. The fifth petition (1 Kings 8:41–43) ranks with the former ones: but not only those belonging to thy people Israel, who may call upon Thee here, hear also every stranger who does so; that all people of the earth, &c. In the law (Deut. 15:14–16) it was provided that a stranger, sojourning among the Israelites, might sacrifice with them; Solomon goes further, and declares that the great deeds of God in Israel, the seal and crown of which was the temple as a fixed dwelling-place of Jehovah, were to work out the salvation not only of Israel, but the conversion of all the nations of the earth. To reach that end may God hear every stranger who comes to this house and calls upon Him for His name’s sake (i.e., because he had heard of the might and greatness displayed on Israel, 1 Kings 8:42). The expressions in 1 Kings 8:42 refer essentially to the wonderful exodus from Egypt (Deut. 4:34; 5:15; Ex. 6:6), which had reached its climax in the building of the temple (see above, on 1 Kings 6:1). The words in 1 Kings 8:43: that they may know that this house … is called by thy name (נקרא על), are a formula that occurs as here and in Jer. 7:10, 11, 14; 25:29, about the temple, and about the people Israel in Deut. 28:10; Isai. 4:1; 63:19; Jer. 14:9; 15:16; 2 Chron. 7:14; and is intimately related to the expression, to lay the name of Jehovah upon (על) a thing or person (Numb. 6:27; Deut. 12:5; 16:6; 1 Kings 11:36, &c). The latter was thus marked as one to whom God reveals himself (names himself), i.e., manifests and communicates himself, so that he stands in union and communion with Him (Am. 9:12, comp. Hengstenberg, Christologie, iii. s. 231 sq.). Through the hearing of the prayers which the heathen offered here to Israel’s God, they as well as Israel were to experience that His “name” was there (1 Kings 8:16), i.e., that He manifested and proved himself there to be God. The usual translation of the expression, that this house is called by Thy name, or bears Thy name, is therefore quite wrong. What good would it have done the heathen to know that the house Solomon built was called by Jehovah’s name? But the following is equally erroneous: “that Thy name has been invoked upon this temple (at its dedication), i.e., that this temple has been dedicated under effective invocation of Thy continued help” (Thenius); it was not that the heathens were to know that the temple had been solemnly consecrated, but that the God who dwelt there would hear their as well as Israel’s prayer, and that hence He is the only true God (1 Kings 18:37; Ps. 65:3).
1 Kings 8:44–50. If thy people go out, &c. The sixth petition (1 Kings 8:44, 45), and the seventh (1 Kings 8:46–50), relate to the conceivable cases, in which the people cannot pray at Jehovah’s house, because they are far from it. The first case is, when the people should be whithersoever Jehovah should send them, i.e., in war, according to Jehovah’s appointment and approbation; they were then to pray towards the city in which the temple was. The other case is, if having grievously sinned against Jehovah, and in consequence, being vanquished and led away captive to another land, they were then to repent, and direct their prayers towards the country, the city, and the house where Jehovah dwelt. The outward turning was the sign of the inward turning to the God of Israel, who as such has His dwelling-place in the temple, and is a real confession to this God, who never leaves His people, if they do not forsake Him. Maintain their cause, 1 Kings 8:45 (comp. Ps. 9:5; Deut. 10:18). This presupposes that the war is a just one. The three expressions for sinning are scarcely to be distinguished with precision from each other, as Keil thinks, but are only meant to include every conceivable kind of sin. Thenius asserts that the verses 44–51 are a “section added later, perhaps by the elaborator,” for such a petition, which belongs properly to 1 Kings 8:33, 34, cannot follow 1 Kings 8:43; the custom of turning towards Jerusalem is first mentioned in writings subsequent to the exile (Dan. 6:11; Ezra 4:58), and the last petition, 1 Kings 8:46–51, was occasioned by the Babylonian captivity, just also as the formula of the confession of sin, 1 Kings 8:47, belonged to a later period (Dan. 9:5; Ps. 106:6). On the other hand, both petitions are exactly in the right place; the five previous ones refer to cases in which prayer is offered at the temple itself; the last two to cases where the praying people cannot come to the temple. They therefore follow quite naturally; besides this, the case in 1 Kings 8:44 is evidently quite different from that in 1 Kings 8:33 sq., for in the latter there is an armed invasion by the enemy, in which some are taken prisoners; and in the former (1 Kings 8:44) the people go out to battle under the divine order. Turning towards the temple was a very natural custom, and mentioned not only in 1 Kings 8:44 and 48, but in 1 Kings 8:38, before, and also in Ps. 5:8; 28:2. As the temple, being Jehovah’s dwelling, was a pattern of the heavens, His real dwelling-place, it followed that as men stretched out their hands to heaven, so they stretched them towards the temple in prayer; it is, at any rate, impossible to prove that this custom came in first after the captivity. The carrying away conquered nations was “a fundamental maxim of despots which prevailed in the ancient orient” (Winer, R.-W.-B., i. s. 357, and the writings quoted there); when therefore Solomon, in counting up the misfortunes and straits in which Israel could fall, thinks lastly of this most grievous case, it is less surprising that he should rather than that he should not have mentioned it, especially since it was repeatedly threatened in the law (Lev. 26:33; Deut. 28:25, 36, 64; 4:27). The petition is quite general, and there is not the slightest allusion to any particular captivity. The confession in 1 Kings 8:47 is by no means of a kind that could have only been made in exile (comp. Numb. 14:40; 1 Sam. 7:6; Ps. 51:6; 32:5), and we might, inversely, with more justice maintain that the Jews in exile appropriated this most expressive word for the deepest guilt, from the royal prayer (Keil). There are exactly seven petitions, thus giving the prayer the seal of this significant number; and the last two cannot have been added later, for they contain nothing foreign to the other ones, but on the contrary are very suitable to the former petitions, and in perfect harmony with the immediately preceding one (comp. Bertheau on 2 Chron. 6:39).
1 Kings 8:51–54. For they be thy people, &c. 1 Kings 8:51–52 form the conclusion of the prayer, as 1 Kings 8:23–26, the beginning, to which this conclusion points back. He confidently gives his reason for hoping for the acceptance of the whole prayer; which reason is the election of Israel out of all nations, to be a peculiar and covenant people. With 1 Kings 8:51 comp. Deut. 4:20. The iron furnace is not = a furnace of iron, but the furnace in which the iron is melted, which requires the greatest heat, therefore = glowing furnace. The deliverance from Egypt is here also looked on as a pledge for deliverance from every future distress, how great soever. The beginning of the prayer, 1 Kings 8:28, 29, is taken up again in 1 Kings 8:52; its close connection with 1 Kings 8:51 through לִהְיוֹת has this sense; that it follows from their election to be a peculiar people, that Jehovah would also listen, in future, to their prayers. 1 Kings 8:53 (comp. Lev. 20:24, 26) is no mere repetition of 1 Kings 8:51 (Thenius), but rests upon a broader ground, derived from the destiny of the nation itself. The peculiar people is that which was set apart for Jehovah’s service from among all nations (Numb. 8:14; 16:9), the holy people, the royal priesthood (Ex. 19:5, 6). The prayer has quite a different ending in 2 Chron. 6:41, 42; this, Thenius thinks the original one, which was not discovered by our author. That ending, however, must not be preferred to that in our books, and put in place of the latter; because it agrees word for word with Ps. 132:8–10, referring to a period after the captivity, and is evidently taken from that psalm, not the latter from Chronicles, or from some source common to both. Peculiarities of the language also point to a relatively late period of composition (see Bertheau on the place). This ending in Chron. appears to have been chosen to form a connecting link with what is related immediately afterwards (2 Chron. 7:1–3), but which is not in our text.
1 Kings 8:54–61. And it was so, that when Solomon had made an end of praying all this prayer, &c. As the dedication-prayer was preceded by an address of greeting to the people (1 Kings 8:14–21), so also it was followed by a concluding speech and blessing, which Solomon gave, again standing (וַיַּעֲמֹד). He next praises God for having given rest to His people Israel (1 Kings 8:56); for the consecrated temple, that had been filled with the glory of the Lord (1 Kings 8:10–11), was a firm, immovable habitation, and therefore the practical evidence that the people had now fully come into their promised rest (Deut. 12:9–10), (see above, on 1 Kings 6:1); Solomon, the builder of the temple, was for this reason named the “man of rest” (1 Chron. 22:9). The good word is that which promises blessing (Jer. 33:14), as pronounced in Lev. 36:3 sq., and Deut. 28:1 sq. The expression there hath not failed as = fulfilled, often occurs (Josh. 21:45; 23:14; 2 Kings 10:10). The praise of Jehovah, 1 Kings 8:56, forms the introduction to 1 Kings 8:57–61, which are also blessings and exhortations. In 1 Kings 8:58, Solomon wishes for the people, that God might, as heretofore, continue to be with them; in 1 Kings 8:59, that He would, in answer to the prayer just spoken, grant them continued help against their enemies. The object of the first wish is stated in 1 Kings 8:58, that of the second in 1 Kings 8:60. Nigh, meaning that He should always remember these words, and fulfil them. Day and night, i. e., as each day should require, Ex. 5:13; 16:4. With 1 Kings 8:60 comp. 1 Kings 8:43. The שָׁלֵם, 1 Kings 8:61, does not mean: in friendship with God (Gesenius), nor submissive (de Wette), nor uprightly (Luther), but: entirely, undividedly (comp. 1 Kings 11:4, 6). The entire concluding discourse (1 Kings 8:54–61) is missing in Chronicles, as we remarked; and this concluding portion being an integral part of the dedication-solemnity, the fact is by no means satisfactorily accounted for by saying: that “it is only a recapitulation of the preceding lengthy prayer” (Keil). On the other hand, Chron. informs us that immediately after the prayer was ended, fire fell from heaven, which consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and that the glory of the Lord filled the house (2 Chron. 7:1 sq.). There is no apparent reason why our author, who is otherwise so minute in his account, should quite pass over this remarkable and wonderful occurrence, if it had been related in his original. Chronicles contradicts itself, inasmuch as it makes the filling of the house with the glory of the Lord follow upon the prayer, while 1 Kings 5:14, as in our account, 1 Kings 8:10 sq., makes it precede the prayer, which indeed the entire contents of the prayer presuppose. No one will believe that the glory of the Lord left the house during the prayer, and afterwards filled it again. If therefore the chronicler has in any place borrowed from later tradition founded on Lev. 9:24, it must have been here.
1 Kings 8:62–66. And the king, and all Israel with him, offered sacrifice, &c. In accordance with the design of the festival, by far the greater number of sacrifices were thanksgiving, or peace-offerings, of which the fat only was burnt, and the rest used for food (Lev. 7:11 sq.;Deut. 12:7). The number of animals, in which the Chron. and all the old translations agree, was very large, so that some have tried to prove that it was exaggerated. Thenius reckons that “as it took seven days to offer these sacrifices (allowing twelve complete hours to the sacrificial day), about five oxen and twenty-four sheep must have been slaughtered and offered every minute.” This calculation, plausible as it seems, is disproved when we consider what the exact circumstances were here; as Keil on the place has thoroughly done. It was not the king alone who sacrificed, but “all Israel with him;” there were sacrificial feasts, during fourteen days, for the great assemblage of all the people from Hamoth (the northern boundary of Palestine, Numb. 13:21; 34:8) to the river of Egypt (the present el Arisch on the southern frontier, Josh. 15:4), and whom we may compute at 100,000 men. Certainly the priests could not possibly have killed so many animals for sacrifice in the time stated, but according to the law it was the business of those offering the sacrifices themselves; the priests only had to sprinkle the blood on the altar. This they could easily do, for their number then amounted to at least some thousands, as we can judge from the number of levites (1 Chron. 23:3). With regard to the great number of the sacrifices, it is also expressly remarked in 1 Kings 8:64, that as they could not all be offered on the brazen altar, Solomon (for this purpose) hallowed the middle of the court, i.e., consecrated it as a place of sacrifice by erecting subsidiary altars. How extraordinarily great the number of sacrifices at that kind of festival was, even in later times, we learn from an account of Josephus (Bell. Jud.vi. 9, 3), namely, that at a passover-feast at Jerusalem, in Nero’s time, the priests counted no less than 256,000 sacrifices that were slaughtered and consumed. We are to understand besides the thank-offerings, by the burnt-offerings and meat-offerings (1 Kings 8:64), the daily morning and evening sacrifices of the law (Numb. 28:3). The time and length of the festivity given in 1 Kings 8:65 and 66 are more plainly expressed in the parallel passage in 2 Chron. 7:8–10: “Solomon kept the feast (אֶת־הֶחָג, i.e., the feast of the tabernacles, see on 1 Kings 8:2) at the same time as temple-dedication, seven days,… and on the eighth day they made עֲצֶרֶת (as the law commanded, Lev. 23:36); for they kept the dedication of the altar (in which that of the temple was included) seven days, and the feast (of tabernacles) seven days. And on the three and twentieth day of the seventh month he sent the people away.” This places the feast of the tabernacles, which according to the law began on the 15th of the seventh month, after the dedication; and when our text says therefore seven days and seven days, even fourteen days (1 Kings 8:65), it can only mean that the dedication and the feast lasted altogether fourteen days; consequently the first immediately preceded the latter, and did not occupy from the 1st to the 7th day (Thenius), but from the eighth to the fourteenth. That the dedication lasted “fourteen days” is still more out of the question (v. Gerlach). The two narratives do not, however, perfectly agree, for 1 Kings 8:66 says that Solomon sent the people away on the eighth day (of the feast), i.e., on the 22d of the month, while 2 Chron. 7:10 makes it the 23d. Yet this is no real contradiction, but only a vague form of speech about a known thing. Solomon sent the people away on the 8th day, i.e., in the afternoon or evening, of the Azereth of the feast of tabernacles; so that they began their journey home on the following morning, i.e., on the 23d of the month (Keil). Whether the feast of atonement (Lev. 23:27), which fell on the 10th of the seventh month, was kept, and how, remains uncertain. Old commentators say that the dedication rendered it unusually solemn; others that, as it was a fast day, its observance was for that time omitted. Tents (1 Kings 8:66) is here like 2 Sam. 20:1; Judges 7:8 used for home, and David is named instead of Solomon (which the chronicler adds), because he was the originator of the temple-building, and through him Solomon was enabled to undertake it.
Historical and Ethical
1. The dedication of the temple is one of the most important of the facts of the Old Testament history, inasmuch as with it and through it, the “house” which Solomon built, first became what it was destined for—the dwelling-place of Jehovah, and all that the idea of dwelling comprises in it (see above, on chap. 6). The theocratic kingdom, and that of Solomon in particular, then reached its highest glory. For this reason the feast did not last only one day, but, like the great feasts that were devoted to the remembrance of the equally important facts in the theocratic history (the passover and tabernacles), continued seven days. This is why both narratives give such minute accounts of it, and show, by their agreement, that the common source from which they drew had treated the subject with the same minuteness. V. Gerlach justly remarks that: “the solemn event recounted here crowned the work of the establishment of God’s kingdom in Israel, which was begun by Samuel and continued by David.”
2. In respect of the act of dedication, it next strikes us that the king stands at the head of the whole ceremony, though it was an essentially religious one. He ordains a special festival, calls all the people to it, and conducts the whole solemnity. He is the author of everything from beginning to end—speech, prayer, and blessing. The priests and levites indeed are also busied in it, but they only perform their usual services, and the high-priest is not even named, still less mentioned as the chief actor on the occasion, performing the dedication. It has been said in explanation, that Solomon stood at this moment, like Moses, Samuel, and David, as a direct and divine ambassador, as king, priest, and prophet (von Gerlach), or that he had taken on himself, as an absolute temporal ruler, the functions of a priest and prophet (Ewald, Eisenlohr, Menzel, and others). Both suppositions are, to say the least, unnecessary. The position Solomon took here is thoroughly justified by the nature of the theocratic kingdom, which was not designed to remove or displace the divine rule, but rather to exalt and execute it. The theocratic king did not take the place of the God-king, Jehovah, but was his “servant,” and as such, Solomon repeatedly designates himself here (1 Kings 8:25, 28, 29, 52, 59). What the whole people were to Jehovah, by virtue of the covenant (Ex. 19:6), was summed up in their king, and true of him as an individual. The priesthood was not at the head of the kingdom, which was not an hierarchy, but a theocracy; theirs was a separate institution, which it was the duty of the king to maintain, as well as all other institutions of the law (covenant). He would therefore have acted contrary to Jehovah’s law, and have sinned (comp. 2 Chron. 26:16 sq.), had he taken on himself the offices which belonged by law to the priests. Solomon therefore let the priests perform their services at the dedication, as the law prescribed, and he was not guilty of the shadow of usurpation of the priestly office. But the act of dedication of the “house of Jehovah” built by him through divine commission, which act bore such high importance to the realm and people, and began a new epoch in theocratic history, belonged rightly to his mission as a theocratic king. No one else had the right, because no one else had the same theocratic position and duties. And as the theocratic kingdom reached its culminating point with Solomon, the theocratic kingdom also attained in him its full significance. It would be quite perverse to attempt to ground or to defend the modern imperial papalism (Cäsaro-papismus), or the so-called liturgical rights of the sovereign, by the precedent of Solomon’s conduct. The Old Testament theocratic kingdom was essentially different from the monarchy of these of modern times.
3. The act of dedication began by carrying the ark of the covenant in solemn procession, with the king at the head, into the temple, and depositing it in “its place,” the holy of holies, while numerous sacrifices were offered. The ark of the covenant was the root and kernel of the whole sanctuary; it contained the moral law, at once the original document and pledge of the covenant, through which, and in consequence of which, Jehovah was willing to “dwell” in the midst of his chosen people; the Kaporeth upon which Jehovah was enthroned was therefore inseparably united with it (Ex. 25:22), so that the entire sanctuary only became through this throne what it was intended to be—the dwelling-place of Jehovah. On this subject Witsius says (Miscell. sacr. p. 439) of the arca fœderis: Quœ sanctissimum fuit totius tabernaculi κειμήλιον, quœque veluti cor totius religionis Israeliticœ primum omnium formata est Exod. 25:10, et cui ne deesset habitationis locus, ipsum tabernaculum dein et superbum illud templum conditum fuit. Exod. 26:33 et 40:21; 1 Chron. 28:2. By the placing of the ark of the covenant in the temple, it first became the house of Jehovah, and hence its solemn introduction into it. While everything else within it was made new (chap. 7), the same ark of the covenant was kept, and only changed its place. It could never grow old, for it was the witness of the past victorious divine guidance, as well as the pledge of Jehovah’s faithfulness and might. With it, all the historical facts bound up with it became associated with the temple; it was the historical tie between the old and new sanctuary, between the two periods of the tent and the house (see Introd. § 3), making the latter the immediate sequel to the former.
4. The filling of the house with Jehovah’s glory, made manifest to the senses by the cloud, is in harmony with the spirit of the Old Testament economy, inasmuch as it bore, compared with the New Testament economy, a bodily form, and in it the entire human-divine relation, as it comes to its expression in a cultus, assumed shapes perceptible to the senses. As Jehovah, in the old covenant, chose a visible dwelling amongst his people, in token of their election, so also He verified His presence in this dwelling in a way cognizant to the senses, that is, through the cloud, which is the medium and sign of His manifestation, not only here, but all through the Old Testament (Ex. 16:10; 20:21; 24:15, 16; 34:5; 40:34; Lev. 16:2; Numb. 11:25; 12:5; Isai. 6:3, 4; Ezek. 1:4, 28; 10:3, 4; Ps. 18:10–12). But the cloud is not so well suited for this purpose, because it exists far above, in heaven, which is Jehovah’s peculiar dwelling (Prov. 8:28; Ps. 89:7; Job 35:5), and is also, as it were, His chariot (Ps. 104:3); but rather because, as its name shows, its nature is to conceal and veil, so that cloud and darkness are synonymous words, “עָנָן, cloud, named from the covering of the heavens” (Gesenius); עֲרָפֶל, “thick darkness,” comes from עָרַף, drop down dew (Deut. 33:28), and means literally cloud-night; עָב from עוּב, to darken, sometimes means thick darkness, sometimes cloud (Ex. 19:9; Ps. 18:12; Job 36:29; 37:11, 16). The cloud is, on account of its darkness, the mode of manifestation of Jehovah and of His glory, and the throne on which His presence was concentrated within the dwelling stood in the back part, which was perfectly dark. Even the high-priest, when he entered once a year into this dark place, covered the throne besides with a cloud of incense, “that he died not” (Lev. 16:2, 13). When Moses prayed, I beseech Thee, show me Thy glory! he received the answer: Thou canst not see my face, for there shall no man see me and live; but Jehovah then came down in the cloud to manifest himself to him (Ex. 33:18, 20; 34:5 sq.). Nebulâ, says an old commentator, deus se et reprœsentabat et velabat. The cloud is then, on one hand, the heaven-descended sign of the presence of the self-manifesting God; on the other hand, it declares that God in His being, spiritually and ethically, is so far above, and different from all other beings, that man, in his sinful and mortal nature, cannot comprehend Him nor endure the sight of Him. Görres rightly says (Mythengeschichte II. s. 507): “It is the distinguishing characteristic of the genius of the Mosaic fundamental view, that it veils the Deity far off from the temerity of the exploring reason, just as it chastely and abstemiously forbids polluting Him with the sensuous dreams of the imagination.” The God of the Old Testament manifests Himself to man through word and deed, yet ever remains at infinite distance above him, so that when he strives to overstep the creature-limits of his nature he must perish. Quemadmodum, says Abarbanel (in Buxtorf, hist. arcœ fœd., cap. 11), lucem solis propter summum ejus splendorem et claritatem oculus humanus non potest videre, quamvis causa sit, ut res videantur; et si homo proprius et fixe eum intueri velit, oculis ejus percutiuntur et hebetantur, ut nec illud amplius videre queat, quod alias videre potuit: sic non potest intellectus humanus apprehendere deum secundum veritatem suam, et si terminum suum egrediatur, apprehensio ejus confunditur aut moritur (cf. 1 Timothy 6:16).
5. The dedication prayer, which belongs to the finest pieces of the Old Testament, received a high significance through the fact that the person who offered it, did so in his highest official character and rank, as king and head of the theocracy, and in view of the whole people, on an occasion (see above on 1 Kings 6:1) which formed an epoch in the theocracy. This, then, is not the prayer of a private person, upon a private matter, but one offered in the name of the whole nation, and about a subject which formed the central point of its worship, and therefore touched its highest interests. It did not spring from individual religious views, but from the religious consciousness of the whole community, and may therefore be regarded as a public and solemn confession of faith, inasmuch as it brings to light the chief and fundamental truths of the Old Testament religion which peculiarly distinguished it from all others. There is not a prayer to be compared with this in all pre-Christian antiquity. Had we nothing belonging to Jewish antiquity but this prayer, it would alone suffice to attest the depth, the purity, and the truth of the Israelitish knowledge of God and of salvation, over against the religious ideas of all other peoples.
6. Prominent beyond all else in this prayer are the expressions respecting the being of God, especially in His relations to the temple. At the beginning (1 Kings 8:23) God is addressed as He with whom nothing can be compared, whether in heaven or on earth; as the Being who is above and beyond the world, and therefore the only God; and it is emphatically confessed (1 Kings 8:27) that no house built by man can contain Him in His infinitude and omnipresence. This was the most decisive refutation of all anthropomorphistic representations of God, such as heathenism made in its temples (see above), and which it might seek to associate with Jehovah’s dwelling, now no longer a movable tent, but an abiding house. At the same time, this infinite, only God is most explicitly praised as Israel’s God, i.e., as the God who had chosen Israel out of all peoples to be His inheritance, had shown Himself to them in word and deed, and entered into a covenant with them, as a pledge of which He took up His dwelling in their midst. This confession of a personal, living God presents the strongest contrast to every pantheistic representation of the being of God, such as the higher wisdom of heathendom, identifying God and the world, imagined, and of which, most unjustly, the effort has been made to discover a soupcon in Solomon’s words in 1 Kings 8:27. The Israelitish idea of God knows nothing of a contradiction between the supernal, infinite, and absolute being of God, and His entering into creaturely, finite, and limited being. Just because He is infinite and unsearchable, He can communicate with the finite; and because He is everywhere, He can be peculiarly present in one place, centring His presence, and displaying His glory (absolute sublimity). Heaven is His throne, and earth His footstool, therefore no house built by man can be His permanent place of rest (Isai. 66:1); but as He dwells in heaven, so He can dwell on earth; “for thus saith the high and lofty one that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy: I dwell in the high and holy place, with him [also] that is of a contrite and humble spirit” (Isai. 57:15). “Behold, the heaven and the heaven of heavens is the Lord’s, the earth also, with all that therein is. Only the Lord had a delight of thy fathers to love them, and He chose their seed after them, even you above all people” (Deut. 10:14 sq.). “For Him nothing is too great and nothing too small, nothing is too high and nothing too low, that He cannot set His name there” (1 Kings 8:16, 29: 1 Kings 11:36; 14:11), i.e., manifest Himself at and through it, without ceasing to fill heaven and earth. To confess and pray to Him as such a God means to “confess His name” (1 Kings 8:35, 41, 43). His covenant relation to Israel, and the consequent; dwelling in the midst of that people, are not at all inconsistent with his infinitude and unsearchableness, but rather were the means by which He could be known as the one, true, and living God. The expression touching the infinite grandeur of God’s being is followed by this: “who keepest covenant and mercy with Thy servants that,” &c. The God, with whom nothing in heaven or earth could be compared, has manifested and revealed Himself to Israel as a moral being; the covenant which He has made with them is of a purely ethical nature, for it is the law (Ex. 34:28; Deut. 4:13), the revealed will of God, and rests on the grace of election; it is a covenant of grace. He who gave the law, and will have it kept, is also merciful and gracious, long-suffering and abundant in goodness and truth (Ex. 34:6). The knowledge of this gives the key-tone to the whole prayer; all trust and hope of an answer is rooted in it. But heathenism, which in its deepest grounds is nature-religion, knows nothing of this; the God of Israel is the only absolute holy one, and therefore the alone true.
7. The general substance of the prayer is that Jehovah might hear all those who should call on Him here for help or deliverance from any need. But the answer is not expected by any mere outward coming or turning to the place of His presence, but by the knowledge, that all distress is caused by the turning away from Jehovah and His laws, that is, by sin. Answer, with regard to deliverance, must rest therefore upon forgiveness of sins, which has again as its prerequisite repentance and return, i.e., conversion to Jehovah. This is why the petition: forgive the sin! (1 Kings 8:30, 34, 36, 39, 50) is repeated in the several prayers for deliverance from a state of suffering. Universal sinfulness is not only expressly asserted (1 Kings 8:46), but the living consciousness of it is interwoven with the whole prayer. This is the more characteristic, as it was not a penitential ceremony at which the prayer was offered, but a joyful thanksgiving-festival, and it was offered by a king who was the wisest of his time, and had reached the summit of power and prosperity (1 Kings 5:1, 11). From this we see how firmly that consciousness was rooted in the people Israel, and how inseparably it was united with all their religious views. Such a thing is found in; no other nation of the ancient world, because none of them knew the God whose name is Holy (Isai. 57:15), i.e., who had revealed Himself to His people as the Holy one, and whose covenant with them bore this inscription: Ye shall be holy for I am holy (Levit. 11:44). When God is known as the absolutely Holy, and the sanctifier, man appears in contrast as a sinner, and the more living the knowledge, the more living is the consciousness of sinfulness. No man can confess the name of God, which is the name of holiness, who does not know himself to be a sinner: acknowledging his sin he gives God, the Holy One, glory. Hence הוֹדָה (1 Kings 8:33) means just as much, to confess his sin to Jehovah, as to give him praise (Ps. 32:5; 54:8).
8. Much as it is insisted on through the whole prayer, and its acceptance grounded in the fact, that Jehovah is the God of Israel, and has chosen that people from all nations of the earth (1 Kings 8:51–53), yet the purpose of this election, namely “that all people of the earth may know Jehovah’s name,” and “fear Him as do His people Israel” (1 Kings 8:43), is also very clearly set forth. The prayer that Jehovah may ever hear the strangers also, who come from distant lands and do not belong to His people, when they call upon Him here; this prayer, we say, receives peculiar importance when Solomon, in his blessing at the end of the whole festivity, alludes once more to the grand end designed: “that all the people of the earth may know that the Lord is God, and that there is none else” (1 Kings 8:60). It is therefore hoped of the Temple, the central sanctuary of the one true God, that the knowledge and worship of this God should spread forth from it among all nations of the earth; and it is very remarkable, that what the prophets declared no less distinctly afterwards, was pronounced here so explicitly, at the dedication of the Temple (cf. Isai. 2:3; 56:7; 60:2 sq.; Jer. 3:17; Mic. 4:2 sq.; Zech. 8:20 sq.). Thus the prophetical element, that element which formed so essential and important a part of Old-Testament religion, is not absent from the prayer. The common talk of vulgar rationalism, about Jehovah being only a God of the Jews and of their land, appears in all its emptiness and folly when contrasted with the official (to a certain degree) acknowledgment of Israel’s world-wide mission, and which acknowledgment was made on a most solemn occasion.
9. In its form and breadth, the prayer of Solomon is a genuine public or common prayer; it wears a completely objective character; the views, wishes, and wants of individuals, as expressed, for instance, in the prayer of 1 Kings 3:6–9, are here left quite in the back-ground, while the common wants of the whole people occupy the foreground. Solomon, as the head and representative of the whole nation, does not pray from his own faith and consciousness, but from those of the collected nation. First, praise and thanksgiving; then follow the various petitions and intercessory prayers; lastly, an appeal to the grace hitherto vouchsafed, for a pledge of acceptance and the promised succor. Both the language and modes of expression have the genuine ring of prayer. God is not preached to nor addressed nor taught, but prayed to. A firm trusting faith, a holy moral earnestness, unfeigned humility, and great simplicity breathe through the whole, while with these there is united a fervor which shows the deepest emotion; in short we feel that this prayer was not composed among the soft cushions of the palace, but on the knees. In this respect it may be regarded, at the present day, as a model of a general church-prayer. This seems to have been more or less the case in earlier times; as for example, the so-called Litany, with its intercessions and responses,—Hear us, O Lord God! has the ring of our dedication prayer (1 Kings 8:32, 34, 36, 39, 43, 45, 49).
10. In the concluding speech following the prayer Solomon desires for the people the help of God, that they may accomplish the world-wide design of their mission—the spreading of the knowledge of the one true God among all nations. He founds the hope that Jehovah will assist him, on the fulfilment of all the promises, already experienced, made to the people, of which the building of the Temple as a firm dwelling of Jehovah had given practical witness; he therefore begins the benediction with praise of the divine faithfulness; but he limits the attainment of their mission to the condition that they should persevere in keeping God’s laws. Thenius remarks forcibly on this subject: “How seemly and truly edifying it is that God’s help is specially implored for the purposes of ordinary life (1 Kings 8:58), and that the wish that men may find an answer to prayers for temporal aid (1 Kings 8:59), has for its end increased knowledge of the one true God (1 Kings 8:60).”
11. The great seven days’ feast of the sacrifices connected with the dedication of the Temple is not to be looked on as a mere thanksgiving feast. The שְׁלָמִים which were brought in such unusual numbers, and formed the principal sacrifices, were by no means only thank and praise offerings, but also vow-offerings. The peculiar and characteristic mark of this kind of sacrifice, which distinguished it from the others, and in which their ritual culminated, was the sacrificial meals, in which the whole family of the sacrificers, even man-servants and maid-servants—the whole house, took part (Lev. 7:15 sq.; Deut. 12:17 sq.); it was a common meal. As eating at one table is a sign of communion and united feeling (Matt. 8:11; Gal. 2:12; Gen. 43:32), so the sacrificial meal was the sign of religious unity of those who eat, among each other as well as with the Deity, to whom the sacrifice belonged, and at whose table it was eaten in common (cf. 1 Cor. 10:18 sq., and in general Symbolik des Mos. Kultus, xi. s. 373 sq.). When therefore the king, and with him the whole people, held sacrificial meals during seven days, at the Temple-dedication, they celebrated and sealed, in doing so, both their union with Jehovah and with each other; thus the dedication of the Temple, the central point of all religious life in Israel, became also a covenant-festival.
Homiletical and Practical
The dedication of the Temple. (a) The bringing in the Ark of the Covenant to the Holy of Holies, 1 Kings 8:1–13. (b) The speech, prayer, and benediction of the King, 1 Kings 8:14–61. (c) Great sacrificial solemnity of the entire people, 1 Kings 8:62–66.
1 Kings 8:1–9. The solemn procession to the new Temple. (a) Its aim and signification (it was the Ark of the Covenant, because in it was the Law—i.e., the covenant, the very Soul of the Sanctuary, vide Historical and Critical, 3). We have in the new covenant not only the Law but the Gospel, which is everlasting, 1 Pet. 1:25. Where His Word is, there the Lord dwells and is enthroned; it is the soul of every house of God, and indeed gives it its consecration; without it, every church is dead and empty, whatsoever may be the prayers and praises offered therein; hence at the consecration of a church it is customary to bring it in in solemn procession. (b) The members of the procession (the King at its head, the heads of tribes, the princes, the priests and Levites, the entire people; all gathered round the ark, in which was the Law, i.e., the covenant, and by this march, solemnly and significantly recognizes the word of the Lord; no one, be his position high or low, is ashamed of this public acknowledgment. Nothing can be nobler than to see a whole nation, from the highest to the lowest, gathered in unity round its holiest possession).—What, from an evangelical standpoint, must we think of public processions, with a religious object (Prozessionen)?—WÜRT. BIB.: The consecration of a church is a praiseworthy custom. But it should not be done with holy water, but with the word of God, with prayer, and with thanksgiving.—PFAFF. BIB.: All men, especially those of highest rank, ought to show themselves zealous in God’s service, and enlighten others by their example.—The priests bear the ark, and bring it to its place. To be bearers of the Divine word, and to set up the mercy-seat in the House of God, as Paul points out, Rom. 3:24 sq., is truly the office and the glory of God’s servants, Mal. 2:7.—CRAMER: Christ, the true Ark of the Covenant, is the end and fulfilling of the Law. My God! may I, as in an ark, preserve and guard thy law! Ps. 40:9.
1 Kings 8:6 sq. The word of the Lord is under divine protection, the angels are its guardians and watchers; it can neither be destroyed by human power, nor is it aided or protected by men.
1 Kings 8:10–13. The glory of the Lord filled the House. (a) What this means; (b) in what manner it befell (v. Historical and Critical, 4).—It is impossible that mortal, sinful man should see or comprehend the Holy and Infinite One (1 Tim. 6:16). We see through a glass, darkly (1 Cor. 13:12). I can experience his merciful Presence; but presumption and folly it is to wish to sound the depths of His Being, Job.38; Ex. 2:33, 20.—STARKE: O soul, who finding thyself tempted, and as if in darkness and gloom, mournest that God is far from thee: ah! mark this for thy comfort, God abides with thee in darkness, and is thy light, Ps. 23:4; 27:1; Is. 57:15.—The eye of faith beholds in the darkness the glory of the Lord, in the night of the Cross the Light of the World, through the dim veil of the flesh the Only begotten Son of God, full of mercy and grace.
1 Kings 8:14–21. The Speech of Solomon to the assembled people. He solemnly announces, (a) that the building of the temple was of the gracious will and counsel of God, 1 Kings 8:15, 16 (with it the leading of Israel out of Egypt is come to its end, reached its final aim; the House in place of the tent is the crowning act of God to Israel, a clear spoken testimony to his might and truth; therefore Solomon begins his speech: Blessed be, &c.); (b) that God had called him to the performance of his decrees, 1 Kings 8:17–21. (He announces the mercy of God, in that he allows him to undertake the work whose completion was denied to his father. He who understands a great, holy work must be assured of this—that he is not actuated by ambition, by passion for glory, or by vanity, but that he is called thereto by God, and that it is his sacred duty.) 1 Kings 8:14. After every completed work permitted thee by the Lord, be it great or small, let it be thy first care to give Him the honor, and to declare His praise.
1 Kings 8:15. I have spoken it and performed it, said the Lord (Ezek. 37:14). What man speaks and promises, now he cannot perform, again he will not perform. Hence Ps. 118:8.
1 Kings 8:16. The choice of God is no blind preference of one and prejudice against another, but aims at the salvation of both. As from amongst all nations he chose Israel for its salvation, so out of all the tribes of Israel he chose the City of David for the blessing of the whole kingdom.
1 Kings 8:17, 18. How many individuals as well as whole congregations have the means and the power wherewith to build a church, to repair a ruinous one, or to enlarge one which has become too small; but nothing can be further from their mind.—He who purposes to do a good work, but is hindered therein, not by his own fault but by divine decree, he has yet “well done,” God regards his intention as the deed itself.—V. 19. God sometimes, in His inscrutable but all-wise councils, denies to His own people the fulfilment of their dearest wishes, whose object may even be the glory of His name, in order to try their faith, and exercise their submission and self-denial.—V. 20 The fairest prerogative of him whom God has placed upon a throne is, that he has power to work for the glory of God’s name, and to watch over the extension of the divine kingdom amongst his people. Every son who succeeds to the inheritance of his father should feel obliged, first of all, to take up the good work whose completion was denied to his father, and perfect it with love and zeal.
1 Kings 8:22–53. The dedicatory prayer of Solomon. (a) the exordium, 1 Kings 8:23–26; (b) the prayer, 1 Kings 8:27–50; (c) the conclusion, 1 Kings 8:51–53.—The prayer of Solomon a witness to his faith (he confesses the living, holy, and one God, before all the people); to his love (he bears His people upon His heart, and makes intercession for them); to his hope (he hopes that all nations will come to a knowledge of the true God). From Solomon we may learn how we ought to pray: in true reverence and humiliation before God, with earnestness and zeal, with un-doubting confidence that we shall be heard.—What an elevating spectacle, a king upon his knees, praying aloud, in the presence of his whole people, and in their behalf! Although the highest of them all, he is not ashamed to declare himself a servant of God, and to fall down upon his knees; although the wisest of them all (1 Kings 5:11), he prays as a testimony that a wisdom which can no longer pray is folly; although the mightiest of all (1 Kings 5:1), he confesses that nothing is done by his power alone, but that the Lord is the King Eternal; therefore it is, that he does not merely rule over his subjects, but as an upright king supplicates and prays for them likewise.
1 Kings 8:22 (cf. 1 Kings 8:54). Solomon stands before the altar, bows the knee, stretches out his hands, the people stand around, the worshippers turn their faces towards the sanctuary (1 Kings 8:38, 44, 48). Outward forms, for the worship and service of God, are not to be rejected when they are the natural unbidden outflow of inward feeling. (The Lord himself and his apostles prayed upon their knees, Luke 22:41; Eph. 3:14. No one is so exalted that he ought not to bow his knee and clasp his hands.) They (outward forms) are worthless when they are regarded as meritorious, and man puts his trust in them (Luke 18:11, sq.). They are sinful and blameworthy if they are performed merely for appearance’s sake, or to deceive men (Matt. 6:5, 16). The Lord knows the hearts of all men (1 Kings 8:39); one cannot serve the living God with dead works (Heb. 9:14).
1 Kings 8:23–26. The introductory prayer, (a) The invocation, 1 Kings 8:23, 24. (Solomon calls upon the infinite God of heaven and of earth as the God of Israel, not because he was only the God of that nation, but because he had revealed himself to it, had spoken to it, and with it had made a covenant of mercy and grace, and had kept this covenant. In the new covenant we no longer call upon God as the God of Israel, but as the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (Eph. 1:3), because he has revealed himself to us through Christ, and through Christ alone do we find in Him the true God, the God of grace and mercy. Thus He wills that we should call upon Him.) (b) The supplication joined to this, 1 Kings 8:25, 26. (Let thy promise be fulfilled. It is fulfilled, for God has sent that son of David whose kingdom shall have no end, Luke 1:32 sq.; Is. 9:7. In the new covenant we pray that God will prove true the word which He has spoken to us, through this Son of David.
1 Kings 8:25. Covenant and mercy are no couch of repose for old men, but the working energy which keeps the path of God, and walks in His way.
1 Kings 8:24. STARKE: Word and deed, promise and fulfilment, with God go hand in hand.)
1 Kings 8:27–30. What does Solomon declare concerning the destination of the house which he had built unto the Lord? (a) But will God indeed, &c., 1 Kings 8:27. God dwells not, &c., Acts 17:24; Is. 66:1. He is everywhere, in the heaven above as in the earth beneath, in lonely, secret chambers as in grandest temples, Ps. 139:7 sq.; Jer. 23:23 sq. But he has said: (b) My name shall be, 1 Kings 8:29. Where His people dwells there will He also dwell, and will declare Himself to them as the God who is holy, and will be sanctified; not for His own sake, but for that of His people, has He a temple in their midst, Ex. 2:20, 24; 27:43. Here is His word of revelation, here His mercy-seat. Therefore, (c) He wills that here prayer shall be made unto him, and here He will listen to those who pray. 1 Kings 8:30. Every prayer offered to Him here is a confession of Him, of His name.
1 Kings 8:27. Although the heaven of heavens cannot contain the Unmeasurable and Infinite One, and no building, how great and noble soever, can suffice for Him, yet, in His mercy, He will make his dwelling-place (John 14:23) in the heart of that man who loves him and keeps his word, and it will truly become a temple of God (1 Cor. 3:16); He will dwell with those who are of an humble spirit (Is. 57:15; Ps. 113:5, 6).
1 Kings 8:29. The eye of God looks upon every house where His name is honored, where all with one mind raise heart and hand to Him, and call upon His name (Ps. 121:4). To every church the saying is applicable: My name shall be there: the object of every church is to be a dwelling-place of divine revelation, i. e., if the revealed Word of God, in which, upon the strength of that Word, worship, praise, and prayer shall be offered to the name of the Lord.
1 Kings 8:30. The houses of God, above all else, must be houses of prayer (Is. 56:7); they are desecrated if devoted merely to worldly purposes of any kind whatsoever instead of being used for prayer and supplication.—The hearing of prayer does not indeed depend upon the place where it is offered (John 4:20 sq.), but prayer should have an appointed place, where we can present ourselves, even as God wills that together with one voice we humbly exalt His name (Rom. 15:6; Ps. 34:4). Where two or three are gathered together in His name He is in their midst; how much more will He be where a whole congregation is assembled to call upon Him.
1 Kings 8:31–50. The seven petitions of the prayer teach us, (a) in all necessity of body and soul to turn to the Lord who alone can help, and call upon Him with earnestness and zeal (Ps. 1:15; 91:14, 15); (b) in all our straits to recognize the wholesome discipline of an holy and just God, who will show us the good way in which we must walk (Ps. 94:12; Heb. 12:5 sq.); (c) to confess our sins and to implore forgiveness, in order that we may be heard (Ps. 32:1, 5, 7); (d) not only for ourselves but also for others, in their time of need, should we pray and supplicate, even as the king does here for all individual men and for his entire people.
1 Kings 8:31, 32. First Petition. We may and must call upon God to help the innocent man to his rights (Ps. 26:1), and, even here in this world, to reward the evil man according to his deserts.—STARKE: It is allowable for a pious man to entreat God to administer his just cause; yet must he not wish evil to his neighbor in mere human vindictiveness (Ps. 109:1 sq.). The oath is a prayer, a solemn invocation of God in testimony of the truth; the false oath is not merely a lie but an insolent mockery of God, and God will not be mocked (Gal. 6:7; Ex. 20:7).—Bear in mind when thou swearest that thou art standing before the altar, i.e., before the judgment-seat of the Holy and Just God, who can condemn body and soul to hell.—Where the oath is no longer held sacred there the nation and the State go to ruin (Zech. 8:16 sq.).
1 Kings 8:33, 34. Second Petition. A victorious enemy is the whip and scourge with which the Lord chastises a nation, so that it may awake out of sleep, confess its sins, turn unto Him, and learn anew its forgotten prayers and supplications.—To those who are taken captive in war, and far from fatherland must dwell beneath a foreign yoke, applies the word of the Lord, Luke 13:2. Therefore they who are prospering in their native country must pray for them, believing in the words of Ps. 146:7.
1 Kings 8:35, 36. Third Petition.—Inasmuch as fruitful seasons, instead of leading to repentance, as being proofs of God’s goodness, so often tend to create pride, haughtiness, and light-mindedness, therefore the Lord sometimes shuts up His heavens. But then we should murmur not against him, but against our own sins (Lam. 3:39), and confess that all human care and toil for obtaining food out of the earth is in vain if He give not rain out of heaven, and fruitful seasons.—STARKE: Fine weather is not brought about by the means of processions, but by true repentance and heartfelt prayer, Lev. 26:3, 4.—When God humbles us, He thus directs us to the good way (Ps. 119:67; Deut. 5:8, 2:3).
1 Kings 8:37–40. Fourth Petition. Divine judgments and means of discipline are very various in their kind, their degree, and their duration. God in his wisdom and justice metes out to a whole people, as to each individual man, such measure of suffering as is needed for its salvation, for He knows the hearts of all the children of men, and He tries no man beyond his power of endurance; He hearkens to him who calls upon Him in distress (2 Sam. 22:7; Ps. 34:18; Is. 26:16).—Distress teaches us how to pray, but often only so long as it is present with us. God looks upon our heart, and knows whether our prayer is a mere passing emotion, or whether we have truly turned to Him. How entirely different would our prayers often sound if we reflected that we are addressing Him who knows our heart, with its most secret and mysterious thoughts, expectations, and wishes. The effect of an answer to our prayers must be that we fear the Lord, and walk in His ways, not only in the time of need and trouble, but at all times, as long as we live. It is a priceless thing that the heart remains constant.
1 Kings 8:41–43. Fifth Petition. Even as Solomon bore witness that the house which he had built could not encompass Him whom the heaven of heavens cannot contain, so likewise he testified that the covenant made by God with Israel did not exclude all other nations from salvation, but rather aimed at leading all men to a knowledge of the truth. If a Solomon prayed for the attainment of this object, how much more does it become us to pray for the conversion of the heathen, and do our utmost that the people who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death may come to Him, a light set by God before all nations to lighten the heathen (Luke 2:31, sq.). He who desires to know nothing of missions to the heathen fails to know the God who wills that help should be given to all men, and that all should come to a knowledge of the truth (1 Tim. 2:4).—Solomon hoped that the heathen, when they heard the great deeds which the Lord did in Israel, would turn to that God; how much stronger becomes this hope when the infinitely greater scheme of salvation in Christ Jesus is declared to them! But how shall they hear without a preacher? How shall they preach if they are not sent? (Rom. 10:14 sq.).—The acknowledgment of the name of God necessarily causes the fear of God. If an individual, or an entire nation, be wanting in the latter, they will also lack a true knowledge of God, let them boast as they will of enlightenment and enlightened religious ideas.
1 Kings 8:44, 45. Sixth Petition. A people who undertake war should, above all, be sure that it is under the guidance of God. That alone is a just war which is undertaken with God’s help, and in the cause of God, of truth, and of justice.—A host going forth to battle should remember this: Nothing can be done in our own strength, we are soon quite ruined! (Ps. 33:16 sq.) and thereupon we should pray and entreat the Lord, from whom alone proceeds victory (Prov. 21, 31; Ps. 147:10 sq.).
1 Kings 8:46–50. Seventh Petition. Righteousness exalteth a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people (Prov. 14:34). Thus the people Israel is a living example for all times, as a warning and as an admonition (1 Cor. 10:11).—The Lord has patience with each person, as also with whole peoples and governments, for He knows “there is no man who is not sinful.” But when the riches of his goodness, patience, and long-suffering are despised, and a nation given over to hardness of heart and impenitence (Rom. 2:4 sq.), He casts it away from before His face, and wipes it out as a man wipeth a dish (2 Kings 21:13), so that it ceases to be a people and a kingdom. The world’s history is the world’s final doom. The wrath of God towards all ungodly conduct of men is not a mere biblical form of speech, but a fearful truth, which he who hearkens not will learn by experience.—The saying: There is no man who sinneth not, must not be misused to apologize for sin as a natural weakness; it should rather warn and exhort us that we must not give the reins to that will which lieth even at the door, but rule over it (Gen. 1:4, 7); for he who committeth sin is the slave of sin (John 8:34).—The confession: We have sinned, &c., must come from the depths of the heart, and must be in connection with the conversion of the whole soul to the Lord; for he alone can obtain forgiveness of all his sins in whose spirit there is no guile (Ps. 32:2). But how often, in days of fasting and humiliation, is this confession made only with the lips! How, then, can a man hope for mercy and forgiveness through the hearing of prayer?—The Lord who guides the hearts of men as water-courses can bestow upon our enemies a forgiving and merciful heart, even as Israel experienced. For this, and not for the destruction of our enemies, we ought to pray.
1 Kings 8:51–53. In the midst of our cries and prayers we should remember how dearly the Lord has purchased us for His own, by the blood of His son (Rom. 8:32; 1 Cor. 6:20; Rev. 5:9). The grace of God in Christ is the foundation of our assurance that the Lord will deliver us from all tribulation and sorrow, and will lead us to his heavenly kingdom. For this do we close our prayers with the words: For the sake of thine eternal love.—STARKE: God does not leave his people in the furnace of misery, but always guides them forth from it (Job 3:22).—Our prayers, from beginning to end, must be grounded on the divine promises (2 Sam. 7:25).
1 Kings 8:54–61. Solomon’s final address to the people contains a psalm of praise (1 Kings 8:56), a wish for a blessing (1 Kings 8:57–60), and a warning (1 Kings 8:61).
1 Kings 8:56. It is a gift of God, for which we must thank and praise him, if we can lead a quiet and peaceful life, in all godliness and honesty (1 Tim. 2:2).—The rest which God promises to his people and has granted unto them, under Solomon the peaceful prince, was merely a temporal one. But we have this good saying: There remaineth a rest for the people of God (Heb. 4:9). This word will not fail if we do not harden our hearts, if we hear his voice, and strive assiduously to attain to that rest, where God shall wipe away, &c. (Rev. 21:4).
1 Kings 8:57, 58. The aid and blessing of God have no other object than to turn thy heart to Him, that thou mayest walk in His way. He only forsakes those who have forsaken Him (Ps. 9:11).—All keeping of the commandments, all mere morality, without submission of the heart to God, is worthless—a mere shell without the kernel.
1 Kings 8:59, 60. The words which rise out of the depths of the heart to God reach Him and abide with Him; He forgets them not (Rev. 8:3, 4).—That the Lord is God, and none other, seems nowhere more conspicuous than in the choosing and leading of the people Israel, in which He has revealed Himself in His might and glory, in His holiness and justice, His faithfulness and mercy (Ps. 145:3–12). No better proof of the existence of a one living God than the history of Israel.
1 Kings 8:61. The best and greatest wish which a king can form for his people, a father for his children, a pastor for his flock, is: May your heart be righteous, i.e., whole and undivided before the Lord our God. He who elects to side with Him must do so wholly and entirely; all “halting between two opinions” is an abomination to Him: the lukewarm He will “spue out of His mouth.” Be thou on the Lord’s side, and He will be with thee.
1 Kings 8:62–66. The temple-dedication, a thanksgiving feast (1 Kings 8:62), a covenant feast (1 Kings 8:65, vide Historical and Ethical, 11), a feast of great gladness (1 Kings 8:66).—WÜRT. SUMM.: For great benefits men should offer great thanksgivings, and indeed should prove their gratitude by promoting the true service of God, and by benevolence to the poor and needy (Ps. 50:14).—At public thanksgiving-feasts there should be not only banquets, but prince and people, high and low, rich and poor should bow unto the Lord, to serve him with one accord and steadfastly.
1 Kings 8:63. So they dedicated, &c. PFAFF: This was indeed a holy temple-consecration. O! how entirely otherwise are those of to-day constituted in general, which should be abolished or reformed rather than praised, on account of the sinful abuse which has gained the upper hand. 1 Kings 8:66. Even as Solomon blessed his people, even so his people blessed their king. The prince alone who prays for his people can expect them to pray for him. Well for that land where prince and people wish well to each other, and make supplication for each other, for there mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace shall kiss each other (Ps. 85:10). When a man has rendered unto God what is of God, he can go forth to his daily labor with joy and gladness. To praise and thank God makes the heart glad and willing to work.
1 Kings 8:1.—[On the apocopated future יַקְהֵל in connection with אָז, see Ewald, Krit. Gramm., § 233 b., p. 593 in 7th ed. The Vat. Sept. prefaces this chapter with the statement “and it came to pass when Solomon had made an end of building the house of the Lord and his own house, after twenty years, then,” &c.; and omits the middle part of this verse and nearly all of 1 Kings 8:2, etc. The Alex. Sept. follows the Heb.
1 Kings 8:1.—[The renderings of the Heb. נָשִׂיא in the A. V. are various. Besides a few irrelevant translations, it is rendered by captain, chief, governor, prince, and ruler—prince being the most common. There is also some variation in the Sept. translation of the word, but it is usually rendered ἄρχων.
1 Kings 8:7.—[For staves the Sept. substitute holy things.
1 Kings 8:8.—[Luther, followed by our author, here translates “And the staves were so long that,” etc., thus leaving out the evidence of design in the arrangement; they adopt the intransitive sense of the verb וַיַּאֲרִכוּ, as has also been done by the Vulg. and Syr. The sense of prolonging, extending, which is given by Keil, and adopted by the A. V., is at least as usual, and seems better suited to the connection. The staves, at the utmost, could have been but 10 cubits long, the depth of the holy of holies in the tabernacle. The author however assumes that the length of the ark, and consequently the direction of the staves, was north and south, in which case the staves could not in any way have been seen from outside the vail.
1 Kings 8:11.—[There is no occasion here for the pluperfect, nor is it expressed in any of those VV. which admit of the distinction.
1 Kings 8:13.—[The Vat. Sept. omits 1 Kings 8:12 and 13, the Alex. following the Heb.
1 Kings 8:15.—[The Sept. here add σήμερον, and instead of unto read concerning David.
1 Kings 8:16.—[The Vat. (not Alex.) Sept. here supplies from 2 Chron. 6:6 the clause καὶ ἐξελεξάμην ἐν ‘Ιερουσαλὴμ εἶναι τὸ ὄνομά μου ἐκεῖ. Our author omits the name Israel at the end of the verse.
1 Kings 8:18.—[Luther, followed by the author, uses here the present tense; the VV., following the Heb., have, like the A. V., the past.
1 Kings 8:19, 20.—[It seems better, if possible, to render the Heb. verb קוּם in both these clauses by the same English word, though with differing shades of meaning. The Sept. has ἀνέστησε ... ἀνέστην; the author has bin bestdtigt. Luther, like the A. V., varies the word.
1 Kings 8:23.—[The Sept. put this in the singular.
1 Kings 8:24, 25.—[The Heb. דָבַר, being the verb in all these clauses, there is no occasion to change the English word.
1 Kings 8:26.—[Many MSS., followed by the Sept., Vulg., Syr., and Arab., prefix יְהוָֹה.
1 Kings 8:26.—Even allowing that the k’tib דְּבָרְיךָ points to 2 Sam. 7:28, yet nevertheless the k’ri דְּבָרְךָ appears according to 2 Chron. 6:17 and 1:9 to be the true reading.—Bähr. [It is also the reading of many MSS., followed by the Sept., Syr., and Arab.
1 Kings 8:30.—[אֶל־מְקוֹם שִׁבְתְּךָ אֶל־הַשָּׁמַיִם the proposition is the same as in the previous clause, toward this place. The expression is a pregnant one=hear thou the prayer which is offered toward heaven, &c.
1 Kings 8:32.—[One MS., followed by the Sept., Chald., Syr., and Arab., reads from heaven—מִן־חשּׁ״, and so in 1 Kings 8:34, 36, 39, 43, 45, 49, according to 2 Chron. 6:22, 23, 25. But see last remark.
1 Kings 8:32.—[The Heb. לָתֶת is the same in both clauses, and is rendered alike by the Chald. and Sept., which the English idiom scarcely admits.
1 Kings 8:37.—Withering of the grain through a hot wind.—Bähr. [Such is the sense of יֵרָקוֹן wherever it occurs, as here, in connection with שִׁדָּפוֹן, viz., Deut. 28:22; 2 Chron. 6:28; Amos 6:9; Hag. 2:17.
1 Kings 8:37.—[חָסִיל appears to be merely an epithet of אַרְבֶּה. Cf. Deut. 28:38.
1 Kings 8:38.—[נֶגַע לְבָבוֹ. Cf. 2 Chron. 6:29, נִגְעוֹ זּמַכְאֹבוֹ.
1 Kings 8:41.—[The Vat. Sept. omits the latter half of 1 Kings 8:41 and the parenthesis of 1 Kings 8:42.
1 Kings 8:43.—[Many MSS. and editions, followed by the Sept., prefix the conjunction here as in 1 Kings 8:36, 39, 45, &c.
1 Kings 8:44.—[Some MSS. and the VV. read איביו in the plural.
1 Kings 8:45.—[The phrase עָשָׂה מִשְׁפָט always means the support of the righteous cause; with the suffix of the personal pronoun here and 1 Kings 8:49 it assumes that the warfare to which they had been sent was righteous.
1 Kings 8:52.—[The Sept. supplement this frequent expression by adding “and thine ears.”
1 Kings 8:53.—[The Chald., Vulg., and Syr. here follow the masoretic punctuation of אֲדנָי יֱהוִֹה and, like the A. V., translate Lord God. The Sept. have, according to the Vat., κύριε κὐριε, which is followed by Luther, while the Alex. omits the expression altogether. Our author translates Herr Jehovah. The Sept. make a considerable addition at the end of the verse.
1 Kings 8:59.—[See note on 1 Kings 8:45.
1 Kings 8:59.—[The words as the matter shall require not being in the Heb. are better omitted.—F. G.]
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.