2 Chronicles 4:11
And Huram made the pots, and the shovels, and the basins…
I. THE CHERUBIM. (Ch. 3:10-13.)
1. Their appearance. Colossal winged figures; but whether, like the cherubim of Ezekiel (Ezekiel 1:6) and of John (Revelation 4:7), possessed of four faces (of a man, of a lion, of an ox, of an eagle) and six wings, cannot be decided. Probably they had only one face, resembling that of a man. Unlike the cherubim in the tabernacle, which were "beaten out of one piece of gold" (Exodus 37:7), these were made of olive wood (1 Kings 6:23), presumably on account of its durability and firmness, qualities which induced the Greeks to select it as the best material out of which to construct idols (see Riehm, 'Handworterbuch,' art. "Oelbaum"). The woodwork was overlaid with gold.
2. Their dimensions. In height ten cubits (1 Kings 6:23); their wings were each five cubits long, or twenty cubits in all. They were thus twice as broad as high, and probably altogether double in size to those on the capporeth.
3. Their position. In the holy of holies, their feet upon the ground, their wings touching the walls on either side, and their faces directed towards the interior of the building, i.e. towards the holy place, whence only an intruder could enter the secret shrine. Underneath and between their outstretched wings, the ark, with the mercy-seat and the lesser cherubim, were subsequently placed (2 Chronicles 5:8).
4. Their meaning. That similar winged figures are met with in the mythologies and religions of Oriental peoples, in particular of the Egyptians and Assyrians, does not prove the cherubim of Jewish theology to have been derived from those. That in those the beast-figure prevails, while in these the human face predominates, marks an essential distinction between the two. Hence the notion that among the Hebrews the cherubim had no higher significance than such winged creatures had in Egypt, Assyria, or Babylon - were, in short, merely symbols of the underlying idea common to Oriental religions, that the life of nature is identical with the life of God (Bahr) - is to be rejected. So also is the opinion that they were purely mythical figures, like the Egyptian or Greek sphinxes (the former half-man and half-lion, the latter half-woman and half-lion), or like the colossal winged lions at the doors of Babylonian and Assyrian temples (Hengstenberg, 'Egypt and the Books of Moses,' p. 153; Schrader, 'Die Keilinschriften, p. 40). That they represented real beings is now generally believed (Hofmann, Kurtz, Keil, Kliefoth, and others), and appears implied in the passage where they are first mentioned (Genesis 3:24). That they belonged to the same order of super-terrestrial existences as the angels and the seraphim of Scripture seems a necessary inference, from the fact that all three - angels (Psalm 68:17), seraphim (Isaiah 6:2), and cherubim (2 Samuel 22:11; Psalm 18:10) - are depicted as attending Jehovah in his theophanies, or manifestations of himself to men. That they were different from angels may be inferred from the fact that these are never exhibited as winged, and are usually represented as Jehovah's messengers (Psalm 104:4), which the cherubim never are. It is not so certain that they were different from the seraphim, or shining ones (Isaiah 6:2): who in appearance, situation, and function resembled them, having six wings, appearing always in the vicinity of the self-revealing Jehovah, and proclaiming aloud the presence of his glory. Yet from the fact that they are commonly exhibited as bearers or upholders of the Divine throne (Ezekiel 1:26), whereas the seraphim surround the throne (Isaiah 6:2), it may be concluded that the two, though belonging to the same order, were not the same species of being (cf. Delitzsch on Isaiah to Isaiah 6:2). At the same time, whilst holding the cherubim to have been images intended to represent real existences, it need not be assumed that the actual cherubim had really the four faces of a man, of a lion, of an ox, and of an eagle. These belong to the department of symbology, in which supersensuous ideas are set forth in sensuous images. Hence, inasmuch as the human face represents the notion of intelligence, the leonine that of strength, the bovine that of endurance, and the aquiline that of keenness of vision, combined perhaps with the idea of swiftness of motion, the ascription of these to the cherubim can only mean that these heavenly beings were possessed of all the elements of a perfect life, and, as the crown and summit of creation, stood nearest God.
5. Their function. Comparing the Scriptures in which they are alluded to, the following may be regarded as the complex function performed by the cherubim:
(1) To proclaim the Divine pretence, so that, wherever they are or appear, God is (Psalm 18:10; Exodus 25:22; Ezekiel 1:26);
(2) to keep guard over places rendered holy by the Divine presence, so that no unholy person might irreverently intrude therein (Genesis 3:24); and
(3) to symbolize that only beings themselves perfect could stand in the presence of the glory of God (Revelation 4:8). All three functions may be said to have been performed by the colossal figures in Solomon's temple as well as by the smaller cherubim on the capporeth in the tabernacle (see Kurtz, in Herzog's 'Real Encyclopadie,' art. "Cherubim; "Riehm" in 'Handworterbuch,' art. "Cherubim;" Keil, 'Die Biblische Arehaotogie,' pp. 92, etc.).
II. THE ALTAR OF INCENSE. (Ver. 19.)
1. Its material. Like the other articles in the interior of the house, it was made of cedar wood and overlaid with gold (1 Kings 7:48). That in the tabernacle was formed of shittim wood overlaid with gold; was two cubits high, one long, and one broad; was furnished with a covering, and horns of the same wood overlaid with gold (Exodus 37:25).
2. Its position.
(1) In the holy place; and
(2) immediately in front of the entrance to the holy of holies, i.e. before the curtain, or second veil.
3. Its use. As in the tabernacle (Exodus 37:29), so in the temple, it was intended for the burning of fragrant incense before the holy of holies day and night, to symbolize the adoration of Jehovah's worshipping people.
III. THE CANDLESTICKS. (Ver. 7.)
1. Their number. Ten. This was demanded by the larger dimensions of the temple in comparison with the tabernacle, which con-rained only one.
2. Their form. Each seven-branched, as in the tabernacle, i.e. consisting of a main stalk with three branches on either side, rising to the same height as that, each of the six branches and the middle stalk being crowned with a lamp (Exodus 25:31, etc.; Exodus 37:17, etc.).
3. Their ornaments. Bowls, knops, and flowers, as in the tabernacle candlestick, seeing that each in the temple was constructed "according to its form."
4. Their utensils. Snuffers and basins; the former to trim the wicks, the latter to receive what was removed by the process.
5. Their use. To keep a light continually burning in the holy place and before the holy of holies (Exodus 25:37; Exodus 27:20). Their material.
6. Of gold (ver. 7), pure (ver. 20), and perfect (ver. 21). In this, again, they resembled the candlestick in the tabernacle (Exodus 25:31).
7. Their position. In the holy place, before the oracle, five on either side.
8. Their significance. To symbolize either
(1) the light of God's favour which the worshippers or the sacred community (represented by the priest who ministered in their name) enjoyed, when their sins had been first covered by the blood shed in the forecourt (Psalm 36:9; Psalm 89:15); or
(2) the illumination which the Spirit-enlightened Church of God, collectively and individually, should shed forth upon the world (Matthew 5:16; Philippians 2:15).
IV. THE TABLES OF SHEWBREAD. (Vers. 8, 19.)
1. Their number. Ten; in the tabernacle, one.
2. Their position. Five on either side of the holy place. The one table in the tabernacle stood upon the side of the tabernacle northward, without the veil (Exodus 40:22).
3. Their material. Of gold (1 Chronicles 28:16).
4. Their purpose. To receive and set forth the shewbread, or the loaves of unleavened bread, twelve on each table, which were commanded to be set before the face of Jehovah continually (Exodus 25:30).
5. Their significance. To symbolize religious truths which it concerned Israel to know. The "face loaves" were so called, not because with them or the eating of them the sight of God's face was associated, but because they stood continually in God's presence as emblematic
(1) of the spiritual food Israel should present to God in the good works they should perform through Divine assistance, and
(2) of the spiritual nourishment pardoned worshippers should receive from God (Exodus 24:11).
V. THE BRAZEN ALTAR. (Ver. 1.)
1. Its position. In the interior of the fore court (1 Kings 8:22, 64).
2. Its dimensions. Twenty cubits long, twenty broad, and ten high.
3. Its material. Brass.
4. Its use. To offer thereupon the burnt offerings presented by the worshippers who came to the temple.
VI. THE MOLTEN SEA. (Vers. 2-5.)
1. Its appearance. A huge metallic basin, sup- ported on the backs of twelve metallic oxen - "three looking toward the north, three looking toward the west, three looking toward the south, and three looking toward the east," all having their hinder parts inward. The basin had the form of a cup, decorated on the brim with flowers of lilies, underneath the brim with two rows of "knops," ten in a cubit, therefore with three hundred in all, compassing the basin around (ver. 4; cf. 1 Kings 7:28).
2. Its size. Ten cubits in diameter and thirty in circumference, five cubits high and a handbreadth in thickness, with a capacity of three thousand, or, according to a more accurate measurement (1 Kings 7:26), two thousand baths, i.e. upwards of twelve thousand gallons. With this may be compared the basin borne by twelve lions in the Alhambra at Granada, and the two giant sandstone vases which were found by Muller at Amathus in Cyprus, each of which was oval-shaped, thirty feet in circumference, had four handles, and rested on eight bulls, four in each half- round of the oval (see in Herzog and in Riehm, art. "Meer ehernes").
3. Its situation. Between the brazen altar and the porch, on the right side of the west end, over against the south of the court (ver. 10).
4. Its use. For the priests to wash in when they came to engage in the sacrificial worship of the sanctuary (ver. 6; cf. Exodus 30:19 - 21).
5. Its significance.
(1) The form and decorations of the vessel showed it was designed for priestly service. "Its form, that of an open lily cup, corresponded to its purpose. If all budding and blossoming signified holiness and priesthood (Numbers 16:7; comp. with Numbers 17:20, 23; Psalm 92:14), the flower named the white, i.e. the lily, must have been pre-eminently the priestly one" (Bahr).
(2) The twelve oxen on which it rested accorded with the same idea. Oxen were the principal sacrificial animals, especially for the priests (Exodus 29:10, etc.; Leviticus 4:3, etc.; Leviticus 16:11; Numbers 8:8). Twelve were selected, hardly for the sake of symmetry (Thenius), or to represent the twelve months of the year (Vatke), but, like the twelve loaves of shew- bread, and the twelve lions on Solomon's throne (1 Kings 10:20), to symbolize the twelve tribes of Israel, which also when in camp were placed, like the oxen, three to each quarter of the heavens (Numbers 2:2-31).
(3) The washing of the priests was emblematic of that inward spiritual purity without which none can approach a holy God, or render to him acceptable service (Isaiah 1:16; Hebrews 10:22).
6. Its history. In after years it was taken down from off the brazen oxen by Ahaz and set upon a pavement of stones (2 Kings 16:17); it was ultimately broken in pieces by the Chaldeans, and its brass conveyed to Babylon (2 Kings 25:13). The brazen oxen the Chaldean general transported as booty to the East (Jeremiah 52:20).
VII. THE LAVERS. (Ver. 6.)
1. Their material. Brass.
2. Their number. Ten.
3. Their position. Five on the right and five on the left of the brazen altar.
4. Their appearance. Basins resting upon bases or pedestals with wheels (ver. 14), of which a minute description is given in the First Book of Kings (1 Kings 7:27-37).
5. Their dimensions. Every laver or basin four cubits in diameter.
6. Their contents. Forty baths, or two hundred and forty gallons.
7. Their use. To wash the victims in when these were brought to the priests to be offered upon the altar. - W.
Parallel VersesKJV: And Huram made the pots, and the shovels, and the basons. And Huram finished the work that he was to make for king Solomon for the house of God;