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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

1 Kings 7

 

 

Verse 1

But Solomon was building his own house thirteen years, and he finished all his house.

Solomon was building his own house thirteen years.} The time occupied in building his palace was nearly double that spent in the erection of the temple, because neither had there been the same previous preparations for it, nor was there the same urgency, as in providing a place of worship, on which the national well-being so much depended. Solomon, who was at this time animated with strong feelings of piety, acted in the spirit of Christ's admonition (Matthew 6:33). On the other hand, the Jews who returned from the captivity were reproved for building their own habitations before the temple of God (Haggai 1:4; Haggai 2:9).


Verse 2

He built also the house of the forest of Lebanon; the length thereof was an hundred cubits, and the breadth thereof fifty cubits, and the height thereof thirty cubits, upon four rows of cedar pillars, with cedar beams upon the pillars.

He built also the house of the forest of Lebanon. It is scarcely possible to determine whether this was a different edifice from the former, or whether his house, "the house of the forest of Lebanon," and the one for Pharaoh's daughter, were not parts of one grand palace. It would seem from the form and proportions, as given in the context, that this "house" was an immense hall, as the Hebrew word and its Arabic equivalent frequently bear this sense. In this view it would correspond to the large central halls in the Assyrian palaces ('Nineveh and Babylon,' p. 650).

As difficult is it to decide what was the origin of the name-some supposing it was so called because built on Lebanon; others, that it was in or near Jerusalem, but contained such a profuse supply of cedar columns as to have occasioned this special designation. We have a similar peculiarity of name in the building called the East India House, though situated in London. The description is conformable to the arrangement of Eastern palaces. The building stood in the middle of a great oblong square, which was surrounded by an enclosing wall, against which the houses and offices of those attached to the court were built. The building itself was oblong, consisting of two square courts, flanking a large oblong hall which formed the center, and which, being 100 cubits long by 50 broad, was properly the house of the forest of Lebanon, being the part where were the cedar pillars of this hall. In front was the porch of judgment, which was appropriated to the transaction of public business. On the one side of this great hall was the king's house, and on the other the harem or royal apartments for Pharaoh's daughter (Esther 2:3; Esther 2:9). This arrangement of the palace accords with the Oriental style of building, according to which a great mansion always consists of three divisions, or separate houses, all connected by doors and passages-the men dwelling at one extremity, the female portion of the family at the other, while public rooms occupy the central part of the building.


Verses 3-8

And it was covered with cedar above upon the beams, that lay on forty five pillars, fifteen in a row.

No JFB commentary on these verses.


Verse 9

All these were of costly stones, according to the measures of hewed stones, sawed with saws, within and without, even from the foundation unto the coping, and so on the outside toward the great court.

Sawed with saws. Some have averred that saws for cutting stones were not invented earlier than the fourth century B.C. But this opinion is erroneous, being contradicted by the present passage. It may be noticed that Eastern saws differ from those used by European nation in this remarkable feature, that the point of the teeth is inclined toward, not from, the handle, so that the sawyer makes his impression upon the wood, not in thrusting the instrument from him, but in pulling it toward him.


Verse 10

And the foundation was of costly stones, even great stones, stones of ten cubits, and stones of eight cubits.

The foundation was of costly stones, even great stones. Enormous stones, corresponding exactly with the dimensions given, are found in Jerusalem at this day. Not only the walls from the foundation to the roof-beams were built of large hewn stones, but the spacious court also around the palace was paved with great square stones. Of these cyclopean stones which formed the substruction of the ancient temple, Dr. Robinson, in his description of the temple area ('Biblical Researches,' 1:, p. 422), gives the following account:-`The upper part of the walls (namely, of the Mosque el-Haram) is obviously of modern origin; but to the most casual observer it cannot be less obvious that these huge blocks, which appear only in portions of the lower part, are to be referred to an earlier date. The appearance of the walls in almost every part seems to indicate that they have been built upon ancient foundations-as if an ancient and far more massive wall had been thrown down, and in later times a new one erected upon its remains. We first noticed these large stones at the southeast corner of the enclosure, where, perhaps, they are as conspicuous, and form as great a portion of the wall, as in any part. There are several courses, both on the east and south sides, alternating with each other, in which the stones measure from 17 to 19 feet in length by 3 or 4 feet in height, while one block at the corner is 7 1/3 feet thick. Further to the north all is new until toward the northeast corner of the area, where the ancient stones appear, one of them measuring 24 feet in length by 3 feet in height and 6 feet in width. The cornerstone on the west side, now next above the surface of the ground, measures 30 feet 10 inches in length by 6 1/2 feet broad; and several others vary from 20 1/2 to 24 1/2 feet long by 5 feet in thickness.

It is not, however, the great size of these stones alone, which arrests the attention of the beholder; but the manner in which they are hewn gives them also a special character. In common parlance, they are bevelled, which here means that, after the whole surface has been first hewn and squared, a narrow strip along the edges is cut down a quarter or half an inch lower than the rest of the surface. When these beveled stones are laid up in a wall, the face of it of course exhibits lines or grooves, formed by these depressed edges at their junction, marking more distinctly the elevation of the different courses, as well as the length of the stones of which they are composed.

At the first view of these stones, I was led to the persuasion that the lower portion had belonged to the ancient temple; and every subsequent visit only served to strengthen this conviction. The size of the stones and the heterogeneous character of the walls render it a matter beyond all doubt that the former were never laid in their present places by the Mohammedans; and the special form in which they are hewn does not properly belong either to Saracenic or to Roman architecture. Indeed, everything seems to point to a Jewish origin; and a discovery (namely, of the arch of the bridge over the Tyropoeon) which we made in the course of our examination, reduces this hypothesis, to an absolute certainty,' (see also Raumer's 'Palastina,' p. 290; Bahr, 'Der Salomonische Tempel,' part 2; Porter's 'Handbook,' p. 118; Stewart's 'Tent and Khan,' p. 261; Barclay's 'City of the Great King,' p. 273).


Verse 11

And above were costly stones, after the measures of hewed stones, and cedars.

No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verse 12

And the great court round about was with three rows of hewed stones, and a row of cedar beams, both for the inner court of the house of the LORD, and for the porch of the house.

For the inner court of the house of the Lord - should be, as in the inner court of the house of the Lord. The meaning is, that in this palace, as in the temple, rows of hewed stones and the cedar beams formed the enclosure.


Verse 13

And king Solomon sent and fetched Hiram out of Tyre.

Solomon sent and fetched Hiram out of Tyre. The Tyrians and other inhabitants of the Phoenician coast were the most renowned artists and workers in metal in the ancient world. Here is a specimen of the Semitic style of narration. The historian has previously declared the completion of the temple (1 Kings 6:9-14; 1 Kings 6:37-38), stating the exact date. Besides, he has given an account of the erection of the royal palace, with the time spent in rearing it. And yet, after these statements, he recurs, in conformity with the Hebrew historiography, to the arrangement made previous to the commencement of the great undertaking for enlisting the services of an eminent Tyrian artizan. The immediate occasion of introducing his name was, that at this passage the historian enters upon a detailed enumeration of the principal articles of furniture he executed for the sacred edifice.


Verse 14

He was a widow's son of the tribe of Naphtali, and his father was a man of Tyre, a worker in brass: and he was filled with wisdom, and understanding, and cunning to work all works in brass. And he came to king Solomon, and wrought all his work.

He was a widow's son of the tribe of Naphtali. In 2 Chronicles 2:14 his mother is said to have been of the daughters of Dan. The apparent discrepancy may be reconciled thus:-Hiram's mother, though belonging to the tribe of Dan, had been married to a Naphtalite, so that when married afterward to a Tyrian, she might be described as a widow of the tribe of Naphtali. Or, if she was a native of the city of Dan (Laish), she might be said to be of the daughters of Dan, as born in that place; and of the tribe of Naphtali, as really belonging to it.

A worker in brass - referring particularly to the works described in this chapter; but in 2 Chronicles 2:13 his artistic skill is represented as extending to a great variety of departments; and, in fact, he was appointed, from his great natural talents and acquired skill, to superintend the execution of all the works of art in the temple.


Verse 15

For he cast two pillars of brass, of eighteen cubits high apiece: and a line of twelve cubits did compass either of them about.

Two pillars of brass, of eighteen cubits high. They were made of the brass (bronze) which was taken from the king of Zobah (1 Chronicles 18:8). In 2 Chronicles 3:15 they are said to have been 35 cubits high. There, however, their joint lengths are given; whereas here the length of the pillars is given separately. Each pillar was 17 1/2 cubits long, which is stated in round numbers as eight. Their dimensions in English measure are as follows:-The pillars without the capitals measured 32 1/2 feet long and 7 feet diameter; and if hollow, as Whiston, in his translation of Josephus, thinks (Jeremiah 52:21), the metal would be about 3 1/2 inches thick; so that the whole casting of one pillar must have been from 16 to 20 tons. The height of the capitals was 8 3/4 feet; and, at the same thickness of metal, would not weigh less than 7 or 8 tons each. The nature of the workmanship in the finishing of these capitals is described, 1 Kings 7:17-22. The pillars, when set up, would stand 40 feet in height, (Napier's 'Metal.')


Verse 16

And he made two chapiters of molten brass, to set upon the tops of the pillars: the height of the one chapiter was five cubits, and the height of the other chapiter was five cubits:

No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verse 17

And nets of checker work, and wreaths of chain work, for the chapiters which were upon the top of the pillars; seven for the one chapiter, and seven for the other chapiter.

Nets of checker-work - i:e., branch-work, resembling the branches of palm trees, and wreaths of chain-work;

i.e., plaited in the form of a chain composing a sort of crown or garland. Seven of these were wound in festoons on one capital, and over and underneath them fringes, one hundred in a row; and two rows of pomegranates strung on chains (2 Chronicles 3:16) ran round the capital (1 Kings 7:42; cf. 2 Chronicles 4:12-13; Jeremiah 52:23), which itself was of a bowl-like or globular form (1 Kings 7:41). These rows were designed to form a binding to the ornamental work, to keep it from falling asunder; and they were so placed as to be above the chain-work, and below the place where the branch-work was.


Verse 18

And he made the pillars, and two rows round about upon the one network, to cover the chapiters that were upon the top, with pomegranates: and so did he for the other chapiter.

No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verse 19

And the chapiters that were upon the top of the pillars were of lily work in the porch, four cubits.

Lily-work - representing the lotus leaf and flower; beautiful ornaments, resembling the stalks, leaves, and blossoms of lilies, of large dimensions, as suited to the height of their position. They were the characteristic ornaments of Egyptian architecture, and probably borrowed thence by Solomon.


Verse 20

And the chapiters upon the two pillars had pomegranates also above, over against the belly which was by the network: and the pomegranates were two hundred in rows round about upon the other chapiter.

No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verse 21

And he set up the pillars in the porch of the temple: and he set up the right pillar, and called the name thereof Jachin: and he set up the left pillar, and called the name thereof Boaz.

Jachin: and ... Boaz , [ Yaakiyn (Hebrew #3199), whom God makes firm (Gesenius) - 'the firm' (Movers); Bo`az (Hebrew #1162), alacrity (Gesenius) - 'the moving' or 'advancing' (Movers).] These names were symbolical, and indicated the strength and stability, not so much of the material temple, for they were destroyed along with it (Jeremiah 52:17), as of the spiritual kingdom of God, which was embodied in the temple.


Verse 22

And upon the top of the pillars was lily work: so was the work of the pillars finished. No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verse 23

And he made a molten sea, ten cubits from the one brim to the other: it was round all about, and his height was five cubits: and a line of thirty cubits did compass it round about.

He made a molten sea. In the tabernacle was no such vessel; the laver served the double purpose of washing the hands and feet of the priests, as well as the parts of the sacrifices. But in the temple there were separate vessels provided for these offices (see the notes at 2 Chronicles 4:6). The molten sea was an immense semi-circular vase, measuring 17 1/2 feet diameter, and being 8 3/4 feet in depth. This, at 3 1/2 inches, could not weigh less than from 25 to 30 tons in one solid casting, and held from 16,000 to 20,000 gallons of water. The brim was all carved with lily-work or flowers, and oxen were carved or cut on the outside all round, to the number of 300; and it stood on a pedestal of twelve oxen. These oxen must have been of considerable size, like the Assyrian bulls, so as their corresponding legs would give thickness or strength to support so great a weight; for, when the vessel was filled with water, the whole weight would be about 100 tons (Napier) (see the notes at 2 Chronicles 4:5).


Verses 24-26

And under the brim of it round about there were knops compassing it, ten in a cubit, compassing the sea round about: the knops were cast in two rows, when it was cast.

No JFB commentary on these verses.


Verse 27

And he made ten bases of brass; four cubits was the length of one base, and four cubits the breadth thereof, and three cubits the height of it.

He made ten bases of brass - (see the notes at Exodus 30:18-21, where the tabernacle is said to have had only one layer.) These were trucks, or four-wheeled carriages, for the support and conveyance of the lavers. The description of their structure shows that they were elegantly fitted up, and skillfully adapted to their purpose. They stood, not on the axles, but on four rests attached to the axles, so that the figured sides were considerably raised above the wheels. They were all exactly alike in form and size. The lavers which were borne upon them were vessels capable each of holding 300 gallons of water, upwards of a ton weight. The whole, when full of water, would be no less than two tons (Napier). Jewish writers say that the water was changed daily, so as to be always pure, and that ablution in this water was indispensable to every one; because none were allowed to enter until this ceremony was performed.


Verses 28-38

And the work of the bases was on this manner: they had borders, and the borders were between the ledges:

No JFB commentary on these verses.


Verse 39

And he put five bases on the right side of the house, and five on the left side of the house: and he set the sea on the right side of the house eastward over against the south.

He set the sea on the right side of the house eastward over against the south. - i:e., eastward; in a southeasterly direction.


Verse 40

And Hiram made the lavers, and the shovels, and the basons. So Hiram made an end of doing all the work that he made king Solomon for the house of the LORD:

And Hiram made. These verses contain a general enumeration of Hiram's works, as well those already mentioned as other minor things. The Tyrian artists are frequently mentioned by ancient authors as skillful artificers in fashioning and embossing metal cups and bowls; and we need not wonder, therefore, to find them employed by Solomon in making the golden and brasen utensils for his temple and palaces.


Verses 41-45

The two pillars, and the two bowls of the chapiters that were on the top of the two pillars; and the two networks, to cover the two bowls of the chapiters which were upon the top of the pillars;

No JFB commentary on these verses.


Verse 46

In the plain of Jordan did the king cast them, in the clay ground between Succoth and Zarthan.

In the plain of Jordan did the king cast them. Zarthan, or Zaretan (Joshua 3:16), or Zartanah (1 Kings 4:12), or Zeredathah (2 Chronicles 4:17), was on the bank of the Jordan, in the territories of Western Manasseh. Succoth was situated on the eastern side of Jordan, at the ford of the river near the mouth of the Jabbok. One reason assigned by commentators for the castings being made there is, that at such a distance from Jerusalem that city would not be annoyed by the smoke and noxious vapours necessarily occasioned by the process. But the true reason is to be found in the nature of the soil-margin, the thickness of the ground. That part of the Jordan valley abounds with marl. Clay and sand are the moulding material still used for bronze. Such large quantities of metal as one of these castings would contain could not be fused in one furnace, but would require a series of furnaces, especially for such a casting as the Brasen Sea-the whole series of furnaces being filled with metal, and fused at one time, and all tapped together, and the metal let run into the mould. Thus, a national foundry was erected in the plain of Jordan (see Napier, 'The Ancient Workers and Artificers in Metal,' pp. 106-112).


Verse 47

And Solomon left all the vessels unweighed, because they were exceeding many: neither was the weight of the brass found out.

No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verse 48

And Solomon made all the vessels that pertained unto the house of the LORD: the altar of gold, and the And Solomon made all the vessels that pertained unto the house of the LORD: the altar of gold, and the table of gold, whereupon the shewbread was,

The alter of gold - i:e., the altar of incense.


Verse 49

And the candlesticks of pure gold, five on the right side, and five on the left, before the oracle, with the flowers, and the lamps, and the tongs of gold,

Candlesticks of pure gold - made, probably, according to the model of that in the tabernacle, which, along with the other articles of furniture, were deposited with due honour, as sacred relics, in the temple. But these seem not to have been used in the temple service; because Solomon made new lavers, tables, and candlesticks, ten of each. (See further regarding the dimensions and furniture of the temple, in 2 Chronicles 3:1-17; 2 Chronicles 4:1-22; 2 Chronicles 5:1-14.)

 


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 1 Kings 7:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/1-kings-7.html. 1871-8.

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