Now when Solomon had made an end of praying, the fire came down from heaven, and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the LORD filled the house.
Verse 1. - When Solomon had made an end of praying. See the parallel, 1 Kings 8:54, which verse, however, in a sense, disappoints us; for, beginning with these same words, it does not go on at all to tell of this second occurrence of the fire and the cloud and the glory. The fire came... and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices. So Leviticus 9:24, when the tabernacle was consecrated. The closing verses of our ch. 5, compared with the first verse of ch. 6, and in particular the first word of that verse, "then," leave it quite open to conjecture that the demonstration of the fire and the glory of the Lord had not ceased, but was continued during the prayer of Solomon, though at its close they may have been marked with added brightness, and then wrought their sacrifice-consuming work. Such supposition may bring us nearest to some tenable explanation of what otherwise seems the very unaccountable omission in the parallel. The language of our ver. 2 adds something to countenance this theory, coinciding as it does with the language of the last verses of ch. 5.
And the priests could not enter into the house of the LORD, because the glory of the LORD had filled the LORD'S house.
And when all the children of Israel saw how the fire came down, and the glory of the LORD upon the house, they bowed themselves with their faces to the ground upon the pavement, and worshipped, and praised the LORD, saying, For he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever.
Then the king and all the people offered sacrifices before the LORD.
Verses 4, 5. - These two verses bring us again into company with the parallel in its vers. 62, 63. Let it be noticed that in both these verses the compiler of Chronicles avoids the words, "all Israel," and "all the children of Israel;" in favour of all the people. The parallel tells us that the sacrifices in part were peace offerings, eatable, therefore, by priests and people. Large as the numbers of the oxen and sheep sacrificed, yet indications in the narrative round about do something to sustain them, as e.g. the number of people who had come together; the fact that all the people are said to offer sacrifices; the fact that Solomon, Because of the press for room (ver. 7), hallowed the middle of the court, i.e. probably the court itself, in order to find place for the "burnt offerings, meat offerings, and fat" (ver. 7); further, the number of mouths of people that certainly would need filling, not only on one day, but on days more than one, while on the third day (Leviticus 19:6) any part of a peace offering still left was to be destroyed by fire. Nevertheless, the thought of the scene of butchery is, to our modern imagination, amazing to the last degree. An assemblage of people in Jerusalem, all making also for its temple, of a hundred and twenty thousand people, and a minimum of another twenty-two thousand people, is startling; but add to these a sheep apiece for the former number, and an ox apiece for the latter (a computation itself necessarily under the mark), and allow several days to be covered by the- killing and sacrificing, and one feels that the key and explanation of the present words of the Bible text in this very passage are scarcely in hand. The interesting note in the 'Speaker's Commentary' on 1 Kings 8:63 scarcely assists us. Its instances of the "profusion" of the "sacrifices of antiquity" are altogether and immensely distanced by the narrative before us, not only in the number of victims, but in respect of the time in which the victims had to be despatched and disposed of, and the place and space within which, if not the slaughtering, yet certainly the offering, had to be done.
And king Solomon offered a sacrifice of twenty and two thousand oxen, and an hundred and twenty thousand sheep: so the king and all the people dedicated the house of God.
And the priests waited on their offices: the Levites also with instruments of musick of the LORD, which David the king had made to praise the LORD, because his mercy endureth for ever, when David praised by their ministry; and the priests sounded trumpets before them, and all Israel stood.
Verse 6. - This verse is not found in the parallel (2 Chronicles 5:12, 13; 1 Chronicles 15:16; 1 Chronicles 23:5).
Moreover Solomon hallowed the middle of the court that was before the house of the LORD: for there he offered burnt offerings, and the fat of the peace offerings, because the brasen altar which Solomon had made was not able to receive the burnt offerings, and the meat offerings, and the fat.
Also at the same time Solomon kept the feast seven days, and all Israel with him, a very great congregation, from the entering in of Hamath unto the river of Egypt.
Verse 8. - Also at the same time... the feast; i.e. the Feast of Tabernacles, which occupied the seven days from the fifteenth to the twenty-second of the month Tisri (Leviticus 23:33). Thus fourteen days (1 Kings 8:65)were occupied by the two feasts, that of the temple consecration and that of Tabernacles, while on the fifteenth day of feasting, viz. the twenty-third of the month Tisri, or Ethanim (the seventh month), the people went home. The entering in of Hamath unto the river of Egypt; i.e. from the extreme north to the extreme south of the land. The town Hamath was on the Orontes, through the valley of the Lebanon (Joshua 13:3, 5; also Numbers 13:21; Numbers 34:8; Judges 3:3; 2 Kings 14:25; 1 Chronicles 13:5; Amos 6:2, 14). The river of Egypt; or, the river before Egypt (Joshua 13:3), was the Shihor, or Sihor, separating Egypt and Judaea.
And in the eighth day they made a solemn assembly: for they kept the dedication of the altar seven days, and the feast seven days.
Verse 9. - Solemn assembly. The word thus translated in the Authorized Version occurs (including both its but very slightly differing forms) eleven times. Five of these times the margin offers, probably unnecessarily, the optional rendering of "restraint." It may be that the root involves this idea, and certainly the word is especially used for the seventh or closing day of Passover, and eighth or closing day of Tabernacles; but other occasions of its use seem to negative this as an essential element in the signification or essential condition of the use of the word; e.g. "Proclaim a solemn assembly" (2 Kings 10:20); "Call a solemn assembly" (Joel 1:14; Joel 2:15).
And on the three and twentieth day of the seventh month he sent the people away into their tents, glad and merry in heart for the goodness that the LORD had shewed unto David, and to Solomon, and to Israel his people.
Thus Solomon finished the house of the LORD, and the king's house: and all that came into Solomon's heart to make in the house of the LORD, and in his own house, he prosperously effected.
Verse 11. - (See now for the parallel 1 Kings 9:1-9.) The king's house... the house of the Lord... his own house. The expressions that we have in this verse guide us amid some ambiguities to the correct date of the consecration of the temple. The verse purports to speak of the final completion the temple and the king's house or palace, with all whatsoever that was necessary to them in the matter of their furnishing. And, to say the least, the impression naturally produced on the reader is that they are spoken of as being thus completed simultaneously, although, beyond doubt, there was a sense in which the temple was (not utterly finished but) built long before the palace. Accordingly, when the next verse tells us of God's answer vouchsafed to the dedication prayer of Solomon, we are not driven to the supposition that several years had elapsed since the final completion of the temple and the dedication of it on the one hand, nor, on the other hand, a similar interval lost between the dedication prayer and the Divine acknowledgment of it. It may be again stated that the main structure of the temple (not including courts, pillars, furnishing, vessels, etc.) was built after seven years' process, in the eleventh year of Solomon's reign, but the palace only after another complete twelve years (1 Kings 7:1), in Solomon's twenty-fourth year. A liberal study of the parallel narrative of Kings in its entirety strengthens considerably this view, inasmuch as there the whole account of the palace-building finds its place previous to the account of the dedicating of the temple. However, though there can be little practical doubt as to how the facts of the case stood and stand, yet this occasion must count one to be added to the chronological memorabilia of Scripture, in that, while both the accounts to which we have access leave very vague the very things we should naturally expect to have been stated concisely, they also both seem entirely unconscious of it - a directest outcome of the fact that both writers were but picking their own way in the midst of borrowed material, neither of them the original historian.
And the LORD appeared to Solomon by night, and said unto him, I have heard thy prayer, and have chosen this place to myself for an house of sacrifice.
Verse 12. - See 1 Kings 3:5; 1 Kings 9:2; Deuteronomy 12:2, 3, 5-7, 11, 14; and, by turning to the last of these sets of references, the emphasis laid here upon the house as the house of sacrifice will be amply accounted for without supposing a rather premature aside as regards synagogues. Meantime, what a feature, manifestly, the sacrifices were!
If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people;
Verses 13-15. - These three verses (the counterparts of 2 Chronicles 6:26, 28, 40) are not in the parallel. Although we can scarcely trace the principle of their selection from the seven parts of the prayer, they would seem to have been selected from the original work, as samples of a reply which presumably embraced reference to all the seven. When, in ver. 14, it is said, I will heal their land, the telling expression, according to the Authorized Version, must be understood to refer to the removing of drought by rain. On the other hand, the Authorized Version is, in ver. 15, unfortunate in the unnecessary and misleading insertion of the italics found there, and in the use of the preposition "in" for of, the simple case construct, which is manifestly what is wanted and intended. It was not absolutely essential that prayer should be made in the place. How many references there are to prayer being made from a distance toward the place!
If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.
Now mine eyes shall be open, and mine ears attent unto the prayer that is made in this place.
For now have I chosen and sanctified this house, that my name may be there for ever: and mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually.
Verse 16. - This verse glances, as an answer to the contents, or spirit of the contents, of the second petition at 2 Chronicles 6:18-21. The beautiful touching condescension in the wording of the last clause, Mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually, will not escape notice.
And as for thee, if thou wilt walk before me, as David thy father walked, and do according to all that I have commanded thee, and shalt observe my statutes and my judgments;
Verses 17, 18. - These two verses glance at the first petition of Solomon's prayer (2 Chronicles 6:15-17). (See also 2 Chronicles 3:12; 2 Samuel 7:12; 1 Chronicles 22:10.)
Then will I stablish the throne of thy kingdom, according as I have covenanted with David thy father, saying, There shall not fail thee a man to be ruler in Israel.
But if ye turn away, and forsake my statutes and my commandments, which I have set before you, and shall go and serve other gods, and worship them;
Verses 19, 20. - And forsake. The parallel (1 Kings 9:6) puts it, according to the Authorized Version, "If ye shall at all turn from following me," etc., which rendering on the part of the Authorized Version probably errs by excess. Much mercy, much forbearing, long-suffering, and slowness to anger, were sure to mark the Divine rule; nor would condemnation take effect, nor did it take effect, till the revolt of the people was a thorough revolt, as finally testifying itself in the crucifixion of Christ (see also, as comments on the expressions of these two verses, Leviticus 26:14; Deuteronomy 4:26, 27; Deuteronomy 28:37, and generally 15-64). The same Hebrew words for a proverb and a byword among all nations are found in ver. 37, as just quoted.
Then will I pluck them up by the roots out of my land which I have given them; and this house, which I have sanctified for my name, will I cast out of my sight, and will make it to be a proverb and a byword among all nations.
And this house, which is high, shall be an astonishment to every one that passeth by it; so that he shall say, Why hath the LORD done thus unto this land, and unto this house?
Verse 21. - The Hebrew text of the first sentence of this verse differs here from that in the parallel; but, in fact, neither text reads satisfactorily and smoothly. The parallel (1 Kings 9:8) inserts the little word "at," though without italics, and "which" in italic type. The "at" is no doubt intended to be condoned as supposed to belong to the word astonished; the following verb hiss also permitting, though not requiring, the appendage. Not leaning to the text of the parallel (which shows no אֲשֶׁר, and which shows the substantive verb in the future tense יִהְיֶה), we need not find any particular difficulty in rendering our present text, And this house, which is most high (the word well favours this idea), shall be an astonishment to every passer by. The Septuagint reads simply, "This lofty house." Why hath the Lord done this? (see Deuteronomy 29:24; Jeremiah 22:8, 9). To the "astonishment" prophesied here the parallel adds, "shall hiss" - in a forcible expression found first in 2 Chronicles 29:8, and afterwards in Micah (Micah 6:16)and in Jeremiah (Jeremiah 18:16; Jeremiah 19:8; Jeremiah 25:9, etc.; Lamentations 2:15, 16).
And it shall be answered, Because they forsook the LORD God of their fathers, which brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, and laid hold on other gods, and worshipped them, and served them: therefore hath he brought all this evil upon them.