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1 Kings 6

The building of Solomon’s temple. (1-10) Promise given concerning the temple. (11-14) Particulars respecting the temple. (15-38)

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The building of Solomon’s temple

1 And it came to pass in the four hundred and eightieth year after the children of Israel were come out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign over Israel, in the month Zif, which is the second month, that he began to build the house of the LORD.

2 And the house which king Solomon built for the LORD, the length thereof was threescore cubits, and the breadth thereof twenty cubits, and the height thereof thirty cubits.

3 And the porch before the temple of the house, twenty cubits was the length thereof, according to the breadth of the house; and ten cubits was the breadth thereof before the house.

4 And for the house he made windows of narrow lights.

5 And against the wall of the house he built chambers round about, against the walls of the house round about, both of the temple and of the oracle: and he made chambers round about:

6 The nethermost chamber was five cubits broad, and the middle was six cubits broad, and the third was seven cubits broad: for without in the wall of the house he made narrowed rests round about, that the beams should not be fastened in the walls of the house.

7 And the house, when it was in building, was built of stone made ready before it was brought thither: so that there was neither hammer nor axe nor any tool of iron heard in the house, while it was in building.

8 The door for the middle chamber was in the right side of the house: and they went up with winding stairs into the middle chamber, and out of the middle into the third.

9 So he built the house, and finished it; and covered the house with beams and boards of cedar.

10 And then he built chambers against all the house, five cubits high: and they rested on the house with timber of cedar.

Promise given concerning the temple

11 And the word of the LORD came to Solomon, saying,

12 Concerning this house which thou art in building, if thou wilt walk in my statutes, and execute my judgments, and keep all my commandments to walk in them; then will I perform my word with thee, which I spake unto David thy father:

13 And I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will not forsake my people Israel.

14 So Solomon built the house, and finished it.

Particulars respecting the temple

15 And he built the walls of the house within with boards of cedar, both the floor of the house, and the walls of the ceiling: and he covered them on the inside with wood, and covered the floor of the house with planks of fir.

16 And he built twenty cubits on the sides of the house, both the floor and the walls with boards of cedar: he even built them for it within, even for the oracle, even for the most holy place.

17 And the house, that is, the temple before it, was forty cubits long.

18 And the cedar of the house within was carved with knops and open flowers: all was cedar; there was no stone seen.

19 And the oracle he prepared in the house within, to set there the ark of the covenant of the LORD.

20 And the oracle in the forepart was twenty cubits in length, and twenty cubits in breadth, and twenty cubits in the height thereof: and he overlaid it with pure gold; and so covered the altar which was of cedar.

21 So Solomon overlaid the house within with pure gold: and he made a partition by the chains of gold before the oracle; and he overlaid it with gold.

22 And the whole house he overlaid with gold, until he had finished all the house: also the whole altar that was by the oracle he overlaid with gold.

23 And within the oracle he made two cherubims of olive tree, each ten cubits high.

24 And five cubits was the one wing of the cherub, and five cubits the other wing of the cherub: from the uttermost part of the one wing unto the uttermost part of the other were ten cubits.

25 And the other cherub was ten cubits: both the cherubims were of one measure and one size.

26 The height of the one cherub was ten cubits, and so was it of the other cherub.

27 And he set the cherubims within the inner house: and they stretched forth the wings of the cherubims, so that the wing of the one touched the one wall, and the wing of the other cherub touched the other wall; and their wings touched one another in the midst of the house.

28 And he overlaid the cherubims with gold.

29 And he carved all the walls of the house round about with carved figures of cherubims and palm trees and open flowers, within and without.

30 And the floors of the house he overlaid with gold, within and without.

31 And for the entering of the oracle he made doors of olive tree: the lintel and side posts were a fifth part of the wall.

32 The two doors also were of olive tree; and he carved upon them carvings of cherubims and palm trees and open flowers, and overlaid them with gold, and spread gold upon the cherubims, and upon the palm trees.

33 So also made he for the door of the temple posts of olive tree, a fourth part of the wall.

34 And the two doors were of fir tree: the two leaves of the one door were folding, and the two leaves of the other door were folding.

35 And he carved thereon cherubims and palm trees and open flowers: and covered them with gold fitted upon the carved work.

36 And he built the inner court with three rows of hewed stone, and a row of cedar beams.

37 In the fourth year was the foundation of the house of the LORD laid, in the month Zif:

38 And in the eleventh year, in the month Bul, which is the eighth month, was the house finished throughout all the parts thereof, and according to all the fashion of it. So was he seven years in building it.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 1. Eightieth year. This chronology meets with the approbation of most people. See Usher. C. xii. Some, however, find a difficulty in reconciling it with Acts xiii. 20, which seems to attribute 450 years to the government of the judges. C. — Sept. have 440; Josephus 592, though Ruffin neglects the 90 in his version; Petau 520; Severus 582; Clem.Alex. 566; Vossius 380; Cano 590; Serarius 680. — Houbigant would read 350 in the Acts. But Capellus would add 200 here, &c. H. — Second of the sacred year, corresponding with our April. Syr. Chaldee styles it “of the splendour of flowers.” M. — The Hurons, and other nations of America, call this “the moon of plants;” the Flemings, “the month for mowing,” Grasmaand. Our Saxon ancestors gave descriptive names to the months. See Verstegan. H. — At first, the Hebrews only described the months by their order; “first, second,” &c. In Solomon’s time we begin to find other names, taken from the Phenicians, (Scalig.) Chaldees, (Grot.) or Egyptians. Hardouin, A. 2993. — After the captivity, at least, the Chaldee names were adopted; (H.) 1. Nisan; 2. Jar; 3. Sivan; 4. Tammus; 5. Ab; 6. Elul; 7. Tisri; 8. Marshevan; 9. Casleu; 10. Thebet; 11. Schebet; 12. Adar; (C.) 13. Veadar, the intercalary month, when requisite, according to the lunar system, which was not perhaps yet adopted. Each of these months generally corresponded with two of ours; Nisan with the end of March and the beginning of April, &c. Sept. here take no notice of Zio, though they do, v. 37. H. — The temple was begun on Monday, May 21, A. 2992. Usher. — It was finished A. 3000, or in the following year, when it was solemnly dedicated. Button.

Ver. 2. House. Heb. Habayith, “the palace” of the God of Israel, where the priests alone had access. It was surrounded by various courts and apartments, as the ancient temples were very different from ours. All these appendages sometimes go under the common name of the temple. C. — Cubits. The common one contained half a yard. The sacred cubit amounted to 21,888 inches. Arbuthnot. Ezec. xliii. 13. — Calmet makes the cubit consist of 24 fingers’ breadth, or little less than 20 inches of the French measure, which is greater then ours. H. — Hence the temple would be 102½ feet long, 34 feet 2 inches broad, 51 feet 3 inches high to the ceiling. C. — The walls are not included; else the breadth would be almost 60 cubits, the length 100, and the height 50. Vallalpand ii. 5. 14. M.

Ver. 3. Temple. The porch was of the same height as the temple, though we read that it was 120 cubits high, 2 Par. iii. 4. But one word seems there to have been substituted for another, (C.) unless it might resemble a high tower. H. — Before the porch were placed the two brazen pillars. The interior of it was highly adorned by Herod. Josephus, Ant. xv. 11.

Ver. 4. Oblique windows. Which were made slanting, that the light might be more easily communicated within. H. — On the outside they were not so large. W. M. — Heb. “windows to see through, shut,” with lattices, (C.) or blinds. Prot. “he made windows of narrow lights.” H. — Curtains might be hung before them, as no glass was yet used. C. — These windows occupied the five cubits above the chambers, which were built on the west end, and on the sides of the temple, 15 cubits high. C. — No windows were permitted in the holy of holies. M.

Ver. 5. Upon the wall. That is, joining to the wall. — He built floors round about. Chambers or cells adjoining to the temple, for the use of the temple and of the priests, so contrived as to be between the inward and outward wall of the temple, in three stories, one above another. — The oracle. The inner temple or holy of holies, where God gave his oracles. Ch. — Sides. Prot. “he made chambers round about.” H. — Some think that buttresses were used, to strengthen the building. Sept. “ribs,” (M.) sides. But there seem rather to have been three off-sets; so that the wall kept decreasing in breadth, as it grew higher, (H.) every ten cubits, (Ezec. xli. 6. M.) and thus the upper chamber was two cubits broader than the lowest. The beams might thus rest upon the walls, and be easily changed. H.

Ver. 6. Temple. This was done for greater respect, and that the walls might not be injured. Ezechiel (xli. 6,) counts 33 chambers on the three sides. S. Jerom seems to double that number; while Josephus acknowledges only 30. C. — Salien has 42, or 14 in each story.

Ver. 7. Made ready, &c. So the stones for the building of God’s eternal temple, in the heavenly Jerusalem, (who are the faithful) must first be hewn and polished here by many trials and sufferings, before they can be admitted to have a place in that celestial structure. Ch. — Those who have the happiness to be chosen, will be no more disturbed with the noise or inconvenience of persecution, (H.) which they ought to bear in silence upon earth. W. — Building. Screw nails were probably used. The ancient Romans wrought the mouldings, &c. of their pillars, after they were erected. The Rabbins pretend that a little worm, or stone schamir, which was brought from the earthly paradise by an eagle, or by the devil, Asmodeus, polished all the stones. Maimonides has even written a book on this famous worm. Grotius. — Theodoret (q. 23.) also asserts, without proof, that the stones were found ready cut, in the quarry, and that they had only to be polished. We may form a grand idea of the workmen employed by Solomon, when we consider that they were able to prepare all things, with such exactitude, at a distance. C.

Ver. 8. Middle side. Sept. “lower story.” C. — “The door of the lower story (rib or side, pleuras; Chal. the lower appendage) was under the right wing of the house, and a winding staircase led to the middle, and from the middle to the third story. H. — This sense is very clear. Heb. intimates that the staircase was round like a screw, and was formed in the wall, at one end of the rooms. — Right hand of those who entered the temple, or on the north; though the south is commonly thus designated. The doors opened into the porch, as the temple was not to be made a thoroughfare. C.

Ver. 9. Roofs. Prot. “beams and boards of cedar.” None of the stones appeared within, v. 18. H.

Ver. 10. Height. To prevent the excessive heats. Five other cubits were also subtracted, v. 20. Some translate, “he made also stories of all the temple, each five cubits high;” so that the three stories occupied half the height of the walls, which were 30 cubits in height, v. 2. C. — Covered. Heb. “took (or bound together) the house,” &c. The roof was flat. C. — Villalpand maintains the contrary, (in Ezec. xli.) with Sanchez, &c. Salien gathers from many of the ancients, that the floor here mentioned, was a balustrade, or the pinnacle of the temple, (Mat. iv.) where people might walk or pray. M.

Ver. 11. Saying. By the prophet Ahia, as the Jews suppose he was sent thrice to Solomon. The temple had been commenced two years; (Salien) or this apparition took place after the dedication, and is related more at length; (C. ix. 2. C.) though the former opinion seems more agreeable to the context, art building, &c. Instead of as for, (H.) we might supply stabit. “This house…shall stand;” (Salien) or simply, God looks down upon the building with complacency, and says, “This is the house,” by way of eminence. As thou hast endeavoured to honour my name, I will not only fulfil my promises to David, but I will be ever ready to grant thy just requests, in this holy place, provided thou continue faithful, with thy subjects, and obey my commands. H.

Ver. 15. Fir. Or perhaps of another species of cedar, resembling the juniper-tree. It is found in Phœnecian and in Lycia. See C. v. 8. It is doubted whether the sanctuary was also boarded, as we read that it was paved with marble. Heb. “with precious and costly stones,” 2 Par. iii. 6. But boards might be laid upon them, as they were on other parts of the temple. The magnificence of Solomon appears in his using such costly things, even where they would not be exposed to view. The floor was again covered with plates of gold, v. 30.

Ver. 16. The inner house of the oracle. That is, the sanctuary, which he separated from the other part of the temple, with this partition of cedar, instead of the veil, which in the tabernacle of Moses hung before the sanctuary. Ch. — It was a square of 20 cubits, extending from the western end. H. — Hither none but the high priest was allowed to enter, and he but once a year. C.

Ver. 17. Itself. Where the priests were stationed. This part was double the length, but of the same breadth, as the most holy place. H.

Ver. 18. Out. Heb. “and the cedar boards of the house within, were carved with knops (fruits) and open flowers,” (H.) alternately. C. — At all. So the bones in the human body, though concealed, strengthen it; and monks, in their deserts, fortify the Church. W.

Ver. 20. Pure gold. Heb. “reserved” by David, or “gold locked up,” as most precious. Thin plates were laid on, so as to fit all the various mouldings, flowers, &c. — Cedar. The altar was probably of stone, and upon the cedar boards gold was laid, that the ark might rest upon it. The altar of perfumes was not in the most holy place. C.

Ver. 21. Before, v. 17. The holy and the most holy place were equally covered with plates of gold. H. — Heb. “So Solomon overlaid the inner temple with gold reserved, and he made a partition with chains of gold, before the sanctuary, and he overlaid it with gold.” H. — The chains were destined to fasten the doors, before locks were invented.

Ver. 23. Olive. Heb. “trees full of oil or resin,” distinguished from olive trees. 2 Esd. viii. 15. Vatab. translates, “pine;” others, “cypress-wood.” C. — Height. Their gigantic stature served to denote the magnificence and greatness of God. They looked towards the east. M. — Their wings extended equalled their height; so that the two cherubims occupied the whole space from north to south, (H.) covering the smaller cherubim of Moses. They only reached half the height of the sanctuary. Their form is not clearly ascertained. See Ex. xxv. 18. C. — What will the Iconoclasts say to these images, which adorned not only the temple, which the people might behold, but also the most sacred place? H. — Villalpand and Salien suppose, that a cherub resembled a young man in the higher parts, adorned with four wings of an eagle and a lion’s skin, round his breast and shoulders, while his feet were like those of a calf. M. — Ezechiel seems to insinuate that, in the temple, the cherubim had two faces, one of a man and another of a lion, each looking at palm-trees; as these were placed alternately with cherubim, round the walls. Ezec. xli. 18. 19.

Ver. 29. And divers, &c. Heb. “and open (full-blown) flowers within and without” the sanctuary. We read also of chains of gold connected together. 2 Par. iii. 5. The palm-trees might resemble pillars of the Corinthian order. C. — It is clear that sacred pictures wer authorized to be set up in the temple, for God’s honour, (W.) though the Jews were so prone to idolatry. H.

Ver. 31. Corners, each piece being, perhaps, a cubit in length, so that the two folding-doors would contain ten cubits, or half the wall. But Ezechiel only assigns six cubits to this door, and ten to that of which opened into the holy place. Heb. “the lintel and the side posts, a fifth” of the wall; in which sense, the door must not have been above four cubits. So v. 33, four-square is translated also, “a fourth part.” But it does not appear to what it refers. Rebihith sometimes means four-square; and why may not chamishith here signify pentagonal? C. — Many suppose that the gate of the sanctuary was of this form, (H.) ending in a point at the top; unless the posts were carved so as to have five angles, like a pillar. Ribera. Templ. ii. 8. M.

Ver. 32. And carvings, &c. Heb. “and flowers full-blown.” The term anaglypha, denotes a sculpture in relievo, (C.) or projecting. H.

Ver. 34. Fir-tree, or some species of cedar, v. 15. — Double. In the large doors, other smaller were made, that the priests might pass more easily. M. — And so, &c. Lit. “and holding each other, was opened.” Both the great and the small doors might open at the same time; (Sanchez) or rather the latter would afford a passage, while the great folding doors were shut. M. — Perhaps both the doors of the holy place and of the sanctuary were so connected, that both opened together. Tract. Middot. iv. 1. C. — But the sanctuary would never be thus exposed to public view. Prot. “two leaves of one door were folding,” &c. H.

Ver. 35. And carved, &c. Heb. “and open flowers, (as v. 32) and overlaid them with gold, fitted upon the sculpture;” (H.) so that the shape of every thing appeared.

Ver. 36. Court of the priests. — Cedar. Some think that the court was surrounded with galleries, supported on three rows of pillars; or one gallery was above another, on pillars of stone, with a third supported by cedar pillars. M. — But Josephus takes no notice of these galleries. Others think that the wall of separation consisted only of two rows of stone, with a third of wood, in all three cubits high. Joseph. viii. 2. Villal. — But the sacred writers seem rather to indicate, that beams of cedar were fixed in the walls, at the distance of three courses of stone, even to the top. This mode of architecture is clearly mentioned, C. vii. 12. 1 Esd. vi. 3. 4. and v. 8. Habac. ii. 11. The ancients admired such a variety, and deemed the building more solid. Vit. i. 5. Eupolemus (ap. Eus. præp. ix. 34.) take notice, that these beams were fastened together, in the temple, by hooks of copper, weighing each a talent. H. — Such was the structure of the inner court. C.

Ver. 38. Bul, afterwards styled Marchesvan. Pagnin thinks that the former name alludes to “the inundation” of rain, at that season, corresponding with our October and November. Chal. “the month of collected fruits.” M. — Years. Six months are neglected, (see C. ii. 11.) and as many are redundant. C. vii. 1. Odd numbers are often treated in this manner. C. — It is wonderful that Solomon could complete this most stupendous structure (H.) in so short a time. All Asia was 200 years in building the temple of Diana, at Ephesus, and 400 more in embellishing it. Pliny xxxvi. 12. — It is reported that 360,000 men were employed for twenty years, to build a pyramid of Egypt; (C.) which was designed, perhaps for no other purpose but to shew the pride and magnificence of the king while living, and to contain his ashes after death. Many of the materials for the temple had indeed been collected by David, (1 Par. xxii.) so that Solomon was enabled to finish it in a much shorter time than his own palace, which took him almost thirteen years to bring to perfection. They were almost contiguous to each other, though built on separate hills. The temple occupied the whole of Moria, which was levelled a great deal, to allow space sufficient for such an amazing structure. It was thus founded upon a rock, as an emblem of the perpetuity of the true religion, which has subsisted from the beginning of the world: as may be seen at large in Dr. Worthington; who, on this occasion, gives a retrospective view of what had taken place in the Jewish state, with respect to this most important subject, during the fourth age, or for the space of the last 480 years. See Douay Bible, p. 701, &c. We may be dispensed from repeating these things after him, as they are already, for the most part, observed in the notes; where the attentive reader cannot fail to remark, that the law of the Old Testament was only a figure of that which all must now embrace. I am not come to destroy, (the law or the prophets) says our Saviour, (Mat. v. 17.) but to fulfil, by accomplishing all the figures and predictions, and by perfecting all that was imperfect, though suitable for the state of mortals in former ages. Children cannot rationally be required to attain, at once, the perfection of manhood. The painter first marks the outlines, which the colouring is calculated to efface, yet so as to render the picture more beautiful. “The cunning Jew” would therefore, in vain, allege the greater antiquity of his religion, as it prefigured and foretold the author and finisher of our faith. And Protestants will act very childishly if they suppose, with Mr. Slack, a Methodist preacher, at Whitby, that this can in any degree enervate the argument of Catholics, who always arraign them before the tribunal of the apostolic ages, in which they confess our bishops, Linus, &c. existed, and were ordained by the apostles themselves. “Setting aside the apostles, Linus, agreeably to the common opinion, was the first bishop of the Rome see, who was ordained before the martyrdom both of Peter and Paul.” Campbell, 12 lect. quoted by Mr. Slack; (p. 63) who says that he was the first pope, and of course, that our religion mounts up to the age of the apostles; and, if he thinks to evade this difficulty, by saying, that the Jewish religion was more ancient still, and yet rejected, we may desire him to point out where the Scripture mentions that the religion of Christ was to be rendered more perfect than he left it; as we know from that source, that he was to establish a new law, founded on better promises than those which had been made to the Jew? How will this state of fluctuation, and this relapsing into abominable errors and idolatry, for many hundred years, accord with the promises of Christ? Matt. xxviii. &c. H. — Building it. The dedication was deferred till the following year, probably on account of the jubilee recurring at that time. Usher, A. 3000. C. — But this is very uncertain. Salien fixes upon the year 3030, which was not a year of jubilee; and he rather thinks that the delay was occasioned by the vessels, the brazen sea, &c. which had to be brought from the other side of the Jordan. We may also recollect, that the rainy season was set in before the temple was quite finished; so that it would have been very inconvenient for all Israel to assemble at that time. After the dedication, the temple continued to be adorned, till it was destroyed by Nebuchadonoser, (H.) A. 3416, and lay in ruins fifty-two years, when the Jews were authorized by Cyrus to rebuild it. They could not however finish the work, so as to proceed to a fresh dedication, till the reign of Darius Hystaspes, A. 3489. Herod undertook to rebuild (Button) the greatest part of this second temple, and to adorn it, in the most magnificent manner, A. 3986. This place was honoured by the presence of the Son of God, who foretold the destruction, which took place within that generation. A.D. 70. H.