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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

1 Kings 8

 

 

Verse 1

1. Elders… heads of the tribes… chief of the fathers — Titles comprehending all the leading men of the nation. Elders included more particularly the chosen representatives of the nation; the heads of the tribes were the leading and most influential individuals; and the chiefs or princes of the fathers were the most distinguished and saintly old men of the nation, whose presence and approbation were indispensable at so important an event as the dedication of the temple.

That they might bring up — This implies that the elders and fathers were to remove the ark, whereas they were assembled rather to witness and sanction the removal. The Hebrew is simply to bring up, and should have been so rendered here. The ark was carried by the priests. 1 Kings 8:3.

Out of the city of David — Where it had abode since the time David had it placed in the tabernacle which he pitched for it on Zion. 2 Samuel 6:17. This passage clearly shows that Zion and the temple mount were not the same. Compare note on 1 Kings 3:1.


Verse 2

2. The feast in the month Ethanim — Which was the feast of tabernacles. See at Leviticus 23:34-43. Ethanim, which Gesenius defines as “the month of flowing streams,” corresponded with our October. Solomon finished the temple in the eighth month, (1 Kings 6:38,) but waited till the seventh month of the next year for the dedication, that it might be coincident with the feast of tabernacles. It is probable, also, that while the temple itself was finished in the eighth month of Solomon’s eleventh year, (1 Kings 6:38,) the various vessels described in 1 Kings 7:23-50 were not completed till some time afterward, and the temple could not be dedicated till all these were finished. It is absurd, however, to suppose, as some do, that Solomon deferred the dedication of the temple for thirteen years after he had completed it. This feast was designed for a thanksgiving and rejoicing over the fruits of harvest, (Exodus 23:16; Deuteronomy 16:13,) and also for a commemoration of the time when Israel dwelt in booths, in the desert. Leviticus 23:43. It was therefore fitting to associate the dedication of the temple with this important feast, for the ark that had dwelt in a tabernacle, and been carried to and fro for five hundred years, was now to enter into its place of rest. Compare 1 Chronicles 28:2; 2 Chronicles 6:41. And so the holy house, begun in the month of flowers and finished in the month of garnered fruits, (see note on 1 Kings 6:38,) was appropriately consecrated in the month of thanksgiving.


Verse 3

3. The priests took up the ark — According to the requirements of the law, (Numbers 4:15; Deuteronomy 31:9,) and not as David carelessly attempted to do. Compare 2 Samuel 6:3; 1 Chronicles 15:13. The parallel passage in Chronicles says that “the Levites took up the ark,” but that is no contradiction of this verse, for all priests were Levites, though all Levites were not priests. Priests bore the ark across the Jordan and around Jericho. Joshua 3:6; Joshua 6:6.

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Verse 4

4. Brought up the ark — From Zion to Moriah; from the tabernacle of David to the most holy place of the temple. This is spoken of as an ascent, or going up, of the ark, though Moriah was lower than Zion; for the Israelite conceived the mountain of the temple as the highest of all mountains, (Psalms 68:15; Micah 4:1,) and spoke of going up to it as they did of going up to Jerusalem. So in this same verse the tabernacle is spoken of as brought up to the temple from Gibeon, though Gibeon is higher than any mountain of Jerusalem.

Tabernacle of the congregation — This old structure, a sacred relic of Moses and the elder fathers, but doubtless bearing many marks of the ravages of time, had been standing for a long time on the high place of Gibeon. 2 Chronicles 1:3. But not containing the ark, it had lost much of its sanctity in the eyes of the people, and only served to divide and distract the public worship. It was time to put an end to such confusion; and so the old tabernacle was brought up and stored away among the sacred treasures of the new and glorious temple.

All the holy vessels — The golden altar, the golden candlestick, the table of show-bread, and probably other shrines. Josephus says that “they set the candlestick, the table, and the golden altar in the temple before the most secret place, in the very same places wherein they stood till that time in the tabernacle.” But this may be reasonably doubted in view of the fact that Solomon made altar, tables, and candlesticks all new for this purpose. See notes on 1 Kings 7:48-49. Still the old ones may have been placed near the new. Among the sacred relics the brazen serpent was preserved until the days of Hezekiah. 2 Kings 18:4.


Verse 5

5. Before the ark, sacrificing — Not, as the Vulgate, were walking with him before the ark; or, as Josephus, “the king and all the people went before, rendering the ground moist with sacrifices.” But rather, before the ark was borne into the temple, Solomon and all the multitude assembled in front of it, that is, in sight of it, and offered sacrifices. Thus Thenius: “The ark has already reached the inner court, and there, before it is brought into its appointed place, while it is set down for the time upon the steps of the porch, the king and people offer a solemn sacrifice in its presence.”

Could not be told — See note on 1 Kings 3:4.


Verse 6

6. Under the wings of the cherubim — That is, under the wings of the colossal cherubim that had already been built within the oracle. See notes and cut at 1 Kings 6:27.


Verse 8

8. Drew out the staves — “That is, they drew the staves, after the ark was set down in the most holy place, so far forward, that their ends could be observed from the sanctuary by the elevations on the vail, which might be seen in the sanctuary itself, but not without. The object of this cannot be determined with certainty. Some of the rabbies were of opinion that by this means the high priest on the great day of atonement was enabled to enter between the staves directly before the ark.” — Keil. Others suggest that the drawing out of the staves was a sign that now at last the ark had reached “the place of its rest,” and was not to be carried about any more. Since the ends of the staves were visible from the holy place, it would certainly appear that the ark was placed lengthwise east and west within the oracle, for the staves which were on the longer sides of the ark would not have shown their ends by being drawn forward if they had extended north and south.

They were not seen without — The darkness of the inner temple, and the golden altar between the place of these staves and the porch, would of course prevent their being seen by any except those who were in the holy place, and near by the golden altar.

Unto this day — This must have been written before the destruction of Jerusalem, and is therefore evidence that this account of the dedication was written while the temple was yet standing. The compiler of Kings did not deem it necessary to erase this remark from the older document which he seems to have used.


Verse 9

9. Nothing in the ark save the two tables — These were apparently all, according to the Old Testament writers, that was ever placed in the ark. The pot of manna and Aaron’s rod were laid up before the Testimony, (Exodus 16:34; Numbers 17:10,) but this alone leaves it undecided whether they were placed in the ark or by the side of it. According to Hebrews 11:4, however, they were in the ark, which also held the Testimony; and this latter passage doubtless expresses the Jewish traditional view of their position before the Lord and before the Testimony, as stated in the passages referred to in Exodus and Numbers. The pot and the rod had probably become lost during the ark’s captivity among the Philistines.


Verse 10

10. The cloud filled the house — Covering all the sacred shrines and awing every heart, as at the dedication of the tabernacle. See Exodus 40:34, and references. This display of Divine glory, while it filled all hearts with solemnity, was a token and pledge to Israel that Jehovah was still present to bless and honour them.


Verse 12

12. The Lord said — A reference to such Scriptures as Exodus 19:9; Exodus 20:21; Leviticus 6:2; Deuteronomy 4:11; Deuteronomy 5:22. In some divine communication of his will to Solomon, like that recorded in 1 Kings 6:11-13, Jehovah may also have repeated this declaration. The temple, like the tabernacle, was built according to Divine directions.

He would dwell in the thick darkness — He would have the most holy place, in which the symbol of his presence was to dwell, concealed in utter darkness. This fact had its typical significance, indicating that the depths of mystery in the Divine nature and power are past finding out. See on 1 Kings 6:31; Psalms 18:11; Psalms 97:2.


Verse 13

13. A settled place… for ever — He had thus done according to the Divine counsel and direction, and with his face turned towards the holiest place he probably uttered these words as in prayer. The forever of this verse is but another echo of that gracious promise to David, (2 Samuel 7:16, note,) which was the germ of all later Messianic prophecies. The eye of faith and the vision of prophecy alike associate the ark of the covenant and its visible dwellingplace with an endless future; for though the patterns of the heavenly pass away, it is only because they are superseded by more glorious manifestations of the heavenly. Hebrews 9:23.


Verse 14

14. Turned his face — From the most holy place towards the assembled multitude without the temple, in the court. While uttering his benedictions on the people, and his prayer of dedication, he occupied a brazen scaffold, which was placed in the midst of the court. 2 Chronicles 6:13.


Verses 15-21

15-21. These verses contain an appropriate narration of the most interesting facts connected with the planning and building of the temple, and without them the services of the dedication would have been incomplete. See notes on 2 Samuel 7.


Verse 22

22. Solomon stood — The word stood does not here designate Solomon’s posture in prayer, for that was kneeling, (1 Kings 8:54; 2 Chronicles 6:13,) but rather the position he occupied relatively to the altar and the congregation. Before he kneeled down in prayer he stood in the presence of all the people, and in that posture addressed them and blessed them.

Before the altar of the Lord — He was both before the altar and in presence of the congregation. “Solomon, in all his other glory, even on his ivory throne, looked not so great as he did now.” — Henry. The altar here referred to was the great brazen altar of burnt offerings which stood in the court.

Spread forth his hands — A usual custom in prayer. Compare Exodus 9:33; Ezra 9:5; Psalms 28:2; Isaiah 1:15.


Verses 23-53

SOLOMON’S PRAYER OF DEDICATION, 1 Kings 8:23-53.

This prayer “is one of unprecedented length, and remarkable as combining the conception of the infinity of the Divine presence with the hope that the Divine mercies will be drawn down on the nation by the concentration of the national devotions, and even of the devotion of foreign nations, towards this fixed locality.” — Stanley. It is reproduced in substantially the same language and order in 2 Chronicles 6:14-42, and is a model most appropriately read and followed in the dedication of houses of Christian worship. It consists of three parts:

1.) Adoration for the fulfilment of the promise to David. 1 Kings 8:23-24.

2.) Prayer for its continued fulfilment, (1 Kings 8:25-26,) and for blessings upon the concentration of worship at the temple. 1 Kings 8:27-30.

3.) Supplication for specific blessings, (1 Kings 8:31-53,) namely, in cases of trespass, (1 Kings 8:31-32;) when smitten before enemies, (1 Kings 8:33-34;) in times of drought, (1 Kings 8:35-36,) famine, or plague, (1 Kings 8:37-40;) for the devout stranger, (1 Kings 8:41-43;) for success in battle, (1 Kings 8:44-45;) for deliverance from captivity, (1 Kings 8:46-53.) These prayers for specific blessings are seven, thus corresponding in number with the seven petitions of the Lord’s prayer.

25. So that thy children take heed — Better, only if thy children, etc., as in the margin. The Divine promises can be fully realized only on conditions of righteousness in the people. They comfort those who “walk uprightly.”


Verse 25

Verse 27

27. Will God indeed dwell on the earth — An expression of pious wonder and astonishment, and, with the sequel, an utter refutation of those rationalistic critics who affirm that the Israelites had no worthy and enlarged conceptions of Deity.


Verse 31

31. An oath be laid upon him — According to the requirement of the law in Exodus 22:7-11, which provided that if a man suspect his neighbour of any kind of trespass, and has no evidence to convict him, he can require him to make oath of his integrity. This clear reference to the laws of the Pentateuch, as well as many other expressions in this prayer, serve also to confute rationalism in the assertion of a late origin of the books of Moses.


Verse 32

32. Judge thy servants — Human tribunals often clear the guilty and condemn the righteous, but Solomon prays that in every case of oaths concerning trespass brought before that altar, the right may be vindicated.


Verse 37

37. Blasting — Destruction of grain by a pernicious east wind. Com.

Genesis 41:6. Deuteronomy 28:22; Amos 4:9.

Mildew ירקון, yellowness. A disease of grain, produced in the East by a hot, poisonous wind which turns the ears yellow.

Locust — A destructive insect, swarms of which frequently devastate Palestine and neighbouring lands. See on Exodus 10:4. Says an Eastern traveller: “With the burning south winds there come from the interior of Arabia and from the most southern parts of Persia clouds of locusts, whose ravages to these countries are as grievous, and nearly as sudden, as those of the heaviest hail in Europe. We witnessed them twice. It is difficult to express the effect produced on us by the sight of the whole atmosphere filled on all sides and to a great height by an innumerable quantity of these insects, whose flight was slow and uniform, and whose noise resembled that of rain; the sky was darkened, and the light of the sun was considerably weakened. In a moment the terraces of the houses, the streets, and all the fields were covered by these insects, and in two days they had nearly devoured all the leaves of the plants.” — Olivier.

Caterpillar — The word חסיל, chasil, from חסל, to strip off, or devour, can hardly designate the caterpillar, though, besides here and the parallel passage in 2 Chronicles 6:28, it is so rendered in Psalms 78:46 ; Isaiah 34:4; Joel 1:4; Joel 2:25. In Deuteronomy 28:38 the ravages of the locusts are represented by the verb חסל, and it is therefore better to understand by the word chasil a kind of locust, specially noted for stripping off and devouring the very last vestige of vegetation, even after other destructive insects had gone before it. Compare Joel 1:4.


Verse 38

38. The plague of his own heart — That particular form of misfortune, pain, moral darkness, and confusion of spirit, which each man may recognise for himself as a Divine judgment upon him for his sins. Happy he who is able to discern the plague of his own heart, and by timely repentance escapes a hopeless ruin!


Verse 41

41. Concerning a stranger — Moses had made provision for the pious Gentiles to worship and sacrifice at the tabernacle, (Numbers 15:14-16,) and Solomon presumes that strangers will of course learn of the God of Israel, and come to worship at his temple. That strangers did thus come we not only infer from such provisions being made for them in the Old Testament, but also know from the facts recorded John 12:20; Acts 8:27.


Verse 43

43. That all people of the earth may know thy name — Here is one of the Old Testament intimations of the universality of the true religion and true worship of God. Though the national consciousness of Israel was that of separateness from all other nations, yet at times the Spirit lifted it above that exclusiveness, and thrilled it with a momentary grasping after universal brotherhood.


Verse 44

44. Whithersoever thou shalt send them — This indicates that the battle referred to is one undertaken by Divine counsel or sanction, as was every righteous war for the defence or honour of the nation.


Verse 46

46. No man that sinneth not — Or, rather, That may not sin. The statement is not made with reference to the possibilities of gracious attainment in the Christian life, but to the ordinary facts of human history. The meaning is. There is no man, and no nation, that can claim to be beyond the possibility of sinning. Israel must not assume, that because they are the chosen people they may not, by running into sin, draw down the Divine anger in bitter judgments upon them. But here is surely no such universal proposition as to involve, (as some assume,) that even the New Testament saint whose life is hid with Christ in God, sees never in this life the hour in which he does not sin. Such teaching is as absurd as it is unscriptural.


Verse 51

51. Furnace of iron — Metaphorical description of the bitter bondage and inhuman persecutions of Egypt. Compare marginal references.


Verses 54-61

54-61. Of this blessing and exhortation, which Solomon uttered at the close of his prayer, the writer in Chronicles makes no mention; but he adds to the prayer (2 Chronicles 6:41-42) a supplication that Jehovah would arise, and with the ark of his strength enter the holiest place; that the priests might be clothed with salvation and the saints rejoice in goodness, and that the mercies shown to David might be remembered.


Verse 62

62. The king, and all Israel with him, offered sacrifice — They did it by the hand of their priests, whose sole prerogative it was to perform that sacred service. According to 2 Chronicles 7:1, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offerings.


Verse 63

63. Twenty thousand oxen — “If, besides the elders, heads of families and tribes, all Israel from the region of Hamath to the river of Egypt, in great assembly, appeared at this festival, there may have easily been one hundred thousand fathers, and twenty thousand elders, heads of families and tribes, assembled. Now if, on an average, every father offered only one sheep, every elder an ox, and the king, out of his abundance, two thousand oxen and two thousand sheep, the number of victims stated will not appear too great. Whether a man could consume all the flesh of these offerings at the festival or not is a matter of no consequence, as the law in this case commanded the burning of the remainder. Leviticus 7:17; Leviticus 19:6.” — Keil.


Verse 64

64. The same day — The same time that the multitude of these sacrifices were offered.

Hallow — Sanctify; consecrate. The purpose for which this inner court was hallowed bears further testimony to the vast number of the sacrifices offered on that occasion. The brazen altar was insufficient, and therefore Solomon caused the erection of other altars in the midst of the court, thus sanctifying the whole middle of its area for sacrificial purposes.


Verse 65

65. Held a feast — The feast of dedication, followed by the feast of tabernacles.

Hamath — An ancient city of Syria, situated on the Orontes. See on Numbers 13:21; Numbers 34:8; Joshua 13:5.

River of Egypt — Often mentioned as the southern limit of the Land of Promise. See on Genesis 15:18; Numbers 34:5; Joshua 15:4. Some think, but without sufficient reason, that the Nile is meant; but the reference is, doubtless, to the Wady-el-Arish, which runs northerly through the middle of the Sinaitic Peninsula and empties into the Mediterranean Sea. This formed a southwestern border towards Egypt.

Seven days and seven days — That is, the feast of dedication and the feast of tabernacles lasted each seven days, making the entire festival to continue fourteen days.


Verse 66

66. On the eighth day — The day following the last seven days’ feast, which was the twenty-third day of the seventh month. 2 Chronicles 7:10.

Went unto their tents — That is, went home. Compare note on 1 Samuel 17:54.

 


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Bibliography Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 1 Kings 8:4". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/1-kings-8.html. 1874-1909.

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