THE LAVISH MAGNIFICENCE OF THE ROYAL COMPLEX AND THE TEMPLE FURNISHINGS REFLECT THE MAJESTIC IMMANENT PRESENCE OF THE TRANSCENDENT SOVEREIGN GOD OF THE WORLD
Many people today mistakenly recoil in shock and disgust over the extravagance of Solomon’s temple and royal compound as detailed here. They miss the point that the centralization of worship in Jerusalem in the nation of Israel is intended to communicate to the watching nations the awesome magnificence of the sovereign God. There is no extravagance that could exceed the worthiness of such a holy and majestic God — including the most extreme forms of worship. God’s hand-picked king establishes the revealed system of worship that pleases God – along with all of its temple artifacts and bronze and gold splendor. All of this glory foreshadows the unsurpassed glory of the coming Messianic Kingdom when Christ will return to both rule and be worshiped by all the nations.
Constable: The writer gave us extensive information about the temple furnishings to increase our awe, not only of the temple itself, but also of Yahweh’s greatness. The temple and all it contained reflected the God who abode there.
Dale Ralph Davis: Is [the writer] not suggesting that intricate, carefully wrought beauty is most fitting for the God of the Bible? Is he not implying that nothing can be too good, too lavish, too well done for such a marvelous God? We must never offer slop to him. Who would have thought that the Holy Spirit might use 1 Kings 7 to convict us of the flippant and casual procedures we sometimes call ‘worship’?
August Konkel: The temple is the palace of the great King; symbolically his feet rest on the footstool that contains the declaration of his will. The temple is a symbol of Solomon’s loyalty to God as his own King, and his commitment is to fulfill the will of God in his rule of the nation. All the other buildings of the royal complex stand in the shadow of the palace of the King of kings. . .
[the temple] portrays God as the transcendent sovereign of this world, not to be identified with anything in the world. The throne room is devoid of any form of the sovereign God there, and it is inaccessible to all human sight. The cherubs mark the throne, and the words of the covenant in the footstool declare that the King of all kings is a God to them and they are his people (Ex. 19:5–6). . .
In ancient Israel the temple established the legitimacy of Solomon’s reign, so its inclusion in the account of the kingdom of Israel was essential. The temple was important to the rule of Solomon because it expressed the sovereign and personal relationship between God, his world, and his people. It taught the Israelites about the exclusive dominion of God and the story of their experience with him. It served to declare the immanent presence of their transcendent and holy God.
I. (:1-12) CONSTRUCTION OF THE ROYAL COMPLEX
A. (:1) Summary of Construction of the Royal Complex
“Now Solomon was building his own house thirteen years,
and he finished all his house.”
Jim Bomkamp: To be fair to Solomon, we really don’t know why it took him 13 years to build his own house and only 7 to build the temple, but several factors could have come into play:
– David had much of the temple already prefabricated saving construction time.
– There was not the urgency to build his own house that there had been in building the temple.
– People were probably more eager to help with the building of the temple than in building things for Solomon’s own personal use.
B. (:2-5) House of the Forest of Lebanon = Great Assembly Hall
“And he built the house of the forest of Lebanon;”
1. (:2b) Dimensions
“its length was 100 cubits
and its width 50 cubits
and its height 30 cubits,”
2. (:2c) Cedar Pillars and Beams
“on four rows of cedar pillars with cedar beams on the pillars.”
3. (:3) Cedar Paneling
“And it was paneled with cedar above the side chambers
which were on the 45 pillars, 15 in each row.”
4. (:4-5) Window Frames and Doorposts
“And there were artistic window frames in three rows, and window was opposite window in three ranks. 5 And all the doorways and doorposts had squared artistic frames, and window was opposite window in three ranks.”
C. (:6) Hall of Pillars
“Then he made the hall of pillars;”
William Barnes: This is possibly more of a portico or foyer (Sweeney 2007:117; Wiseman 1993:112); it may have served as a waiting area for those seeking an audience with the king.
August Konkel: The hall of pillars (v. 6) does not seem to be an independent building but a colonnade that serves as an entrance to the great assembly hall.
1. Dimensions of the Hall
“its length was 50 cubits and its width 30 cubits,”
2. Colonnade Entranceway
“and a porch was in front of them
and pillars and a threshold in front of them.”
D. (:7-12) Additional Key Structures in the Royal Complex
1. (:7-8) Specific Edifices
a. (:7) Hall of Judgment
“And he made the hall of the throne where he was to judge,
the hall of judgment, and it was paneled with cedar from floor to floor.”
Adam Clarke: One porch appears to have been devoted to the purposes of administering judgment, which Solomon did in person.
b. (:8a) House of Solomon
“And his house where he was to live, the other court inward from the hall, was of the same workmanship.”
August Konkel: The palace of Solomon (v. 8) and the quarters for all his servants are set in another court back (west) of the hall (cf. rsv). The public buildings are situated in a separate court; the palace is not accessible to the public but has an entrance to the public court as well as the inner court of the temple. The palace of Solomon and that of Pharaoh’s daughter are similar in construction to the other buildings, since all of them are royal edifices.
Constable: Ancient Near Easterners did not view a king’s sovereignty as established until he had built a palace for himself. Solomon’s palace, therefore, further enhanced his prestige. God blessed Solomon and Israel by allowing him to build it.
c. (:8b) House for Pharaoh’s Daughter
“He also made a house like this hall for Pharaoh’s daughter,
whom Solomon had married.”
Mordecai Cogan: That special quarters were built for Pharaoh’s daughter points to her privileged position among the king’s other wives.
2. (:9-12) Similarity of Construction
“All these were of costly stones, of stone cut according to measure, sawed with saws, inside and outside; even from the foundation to the coping, and so on the outside to the great court. 10 And the foundation was of costly stones, even large stones, stones of ten cubits and stones of eight cubits. 11 And above were costly stones, stone cut according to measure, and cedar. 12 So the great court all around had three rows of cut stone and a row of cedar beams even as the inner court of the house of the LORD, and the porch of the house.”
Dale Ralph Davis: If the temple structures are magnified and the royal complex minimized, is the writer implying that worship is more important than government? Remember that the temple does not stand for any worship but for the way of public worship revealed by God. Even more: the temple is the place of sacrifice, where atonement is made. Hence, in New Testament terms, the temple would stand for public worship that is centered upon the cross. I do not mean that 1 Kings 7 implies some dichotomy between sacred and secular. Obviously the governing of the king stood under Yahweh’s sway and standards as well. But when the writer shrinks the press time given to fascinating structures, which took far longer than the temple to construct, is he not making a point? To put it in very western terms, again: worship is more important than government. And do not Christians in the west need to hear this? We who live among deity-swaggering welfare states that are always trying to convince us that government cares? Do we not need a fresh reminder that the massive reality that matters is that God dwells among his people?
William Barnes: Evidently an outer court surrounding the entire Temple complex is in view here (so Cogan 2001:256).
Iain Provan: After the important digression of 7:1–12 we return now to the temple, to hear how that project was completed and the “house of the Lord” made ready for his occupation in chapter 8.
II. (:13-51) INTERIOR TEMPLE FURNISHINGS
A. (:13-14) Resourcing Hiram – Gifted in Bronze Work
1. (:13) Selected for the Bronze Work
“Now King Solomon sent and brought Hiram from Tyre.”
William Barnes: This individual (khiram [TH2438A, ZH2671], “Hiram”; cf. NLT mg note) should not be confused with the important Tyrian king of the same name. This Hiram was half-Israelite and, interestingly, by orthodox Jewish tradition, would be reckoned as ethnically Jewish (if one’s mother is ethnically Jewish, no matter the ethnic background of the father, one is reckoned to be Jewish).
2. (:14a) Son of a Mixed Marriage
a. Jewish Mother from Naphtali
“He was a widow’s son from the tribe of Naphtali,”
In the far north of Israelite territory near the Phoenician coast
b. Phoenician Father from Tyre with Experience in Bronze Work
“and his father was a man of Tyre, a worker in bronze;”
Caleb Nelson: What is this, again, but foreigners coming in to worship the true God? Ultimately, the temple is not just for Israel; the temple is for the world. The first temple was built by a Gentile. The second temple actually had a space set aside, the Court of the Gentiles, in which Gentiles could come and worship God. The significance of Hiram is that the blessing of worshipping God is not just for Israel; it is for everyone. See Isaiah 66:18, 20¬-21. And so, in establishing true worship, the true king is not afraid to call on half¬breeds and foreigners. Christianity is not a religion of exclusivity: “I don’t think we can trust him; he’s not like us.” Oh no. We welcome all God-¬fearing people in this church, whether you’re black, white, yellow, tattooed, whatever. The test of fellowship is not what you look like, not your physical ancestry but your spiritual pedigree. God is bringing Gentiles into His kingdom and making them true worshippers.
3. (:14b) Skilled in Bronze Work
“and he was filled with wisdom and understanding and skill for doing any work in bronze.”
Mordecai Cogan: This standard triad, “wisdom, understanding, and knowledge,” is applied to Bezalel, the fashioner of the Tabernacle in the desert (Exod 31:3); to God, as creator of heaven and earth (Prov 3:19–20); and to the future Davidic king (cf. Isa 11:2, somewhat expanded).
L. M. Grant: We sometimes hear of a man who is “a jack of all trades, master of none,” but here was a man who was a master of all trades. Certainly there would be nobody else who could approach his capabilities. God had specially prepared him for the purpose of building the temple. We surely see in him a picture of the Holy Spirit of God who is perfectly skilled in every detail of the work of building God’s house.
4. (:14c) Submissive to Solomon’s Work Request
“So he came to King Solomon and performed all his work.”
B. (:15-22) Reminding Israel of God’s Sovereignty and Strength –
2 Bronze Pillars
1. (:15-16) Construction of the Pillars with 2 Capitals
a. (:15) The Pillars (with Dimensions)
“And he fashioned the two pillars of bronze; eighteen cubits was the height of one pillar, and a line of twelve cubits measured the circumference of both.”
R. D. Patterson: Every indication is that they were not structurally part of the temple but were freestanding.
b. (:16) The Capitals (with Dimensions)
“He also made two capitals of molten bronze to set on the tops of the pillars; the height of the one capital was five cubits and the height of the other capital was five cubits.”
2. (:17-18) Chainwork on Top of the Pillars
“There were nets of network and twisted threads of chainwork for the capitals which were on the top of the pillars; seven for the one capital and seven for the other capital.
So he made the pillars, and two rows around on the one network to cover the capitals which were on the top of the pomegranates; and so he did for the other capital.”
MacArthur: Pomegranates – One of the fruits of the Promised Land (Nu 13:23; Dt 8:8), these were popular decorative motifs used on the he of Aaron’s priestly garment (Ex 28:33, 34).
3. (:19-20) Adorning the Capitals on Top of the Pillars
a. (:19) Lily Design
“And the capitals which were on the top of the pillars in the porch were of lily design, four cubits.”
b. (:20) Pomegranates
“And there were capitals on the two pillars, even above and close to the rounded projection which was beside the network; and the pomegranates numbered two hundred in rows around both capitals.”
August Konkel: The height of each pillar is extended by a capital at the top formed of bronze, just over 2 meters (over 7 feet) in height (v. 16). These are ornately decorated with seven sets of tightly woven chain work in a net pattern and two rows of pomegranates around the network (vv. 17–18). The two capitals have the shape of a lily, common for capitals; there is a bulge in the capital just below the lily, where two hundred pomegranates hang in rows (vv. 19–20). The bulge may have been a collar to fasten the capital to the pillar.
Constable: The lily and pomegranate designs probably symbolized the fertility and fruitfulness of God’s blessing and presence, pomegranates being known fertility symbols in the ancient Near East.
4. (:21-22) Significance of the Pillars
a. (:21) Naming the Pillars –
– He establishes
– In Him is strength
“Thus he set up the pillars at the porch of the nave;
and he set up the right pillar and named it Jachin,
and he set up the left pillar and named it Boaz.”
Dale Ralph Davis: Since the pillars are likely free standing and not weight-bearing (functional), they are probably symbolic. Clearly, the names given them are significant or symbolic: Jachin, Boaz. . .
I suggest that ‘Jachin’ and ‘Boaz’ are like that: single words meant to conjure up a whole piece of (previous?) communication. Jachin means ‘He [Yahweh] will establish’ (or, it could be construed as a prayer, ‘May he establish’). The name comes from the verb kûn, used three times in Yahweh’s covenant promise to David in 2 Samuel 7:12, 13, 16 (e.g. ‘Your throne will be established [nākôn] forever,’ v. 16) and four times in 1 Kings 2 with particular reference to securing Solomon’s hold on the kingdom (1 Kings 2:12, 24, 45, 46). Jachin, I hold, means to encapsulate Yahweh’s promise that David’s dynasty would be the vehicle through which he would bring his kingdom on earth. Yahweh will establish that royal line.
Boaz seems to mean ‘In him [Yahweh] is strength’ or ‘By him [Yahweh] he [the king] is mighty.’ One writer connects this name with Psalm 21, where the king rejoices ‘in your [Yahweh’s] strength’ (v. 1, and cf. v. 13). This name implies the dependence of the king and accents his only viable recourse in all situations.
Here then are ‘He will establish’ and ‘In him is strength’ serving as sentinels in front of the temple proper. The first highlights the promise of Yahweh, the second the power of Yahweh. The first recalls what Yahweh has said, the second suggests what Yahweh can do. Jachin points to the original anchor of Yahweh’s word; Boaz points to his ongoing adequacy to bring that word to pass (cf. Rom. 4:21, ‘[B]eing fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform’ [nasb]). Or one could say that Jachin emphasizes the foundation on which the king and the people are to rely, while Boaz signifies the resources upon which they must draw. Jachin then would highlight Yahweh’s gift, while Boaz would point to their task (cf. Ps. 105:4, ‘Seek Yahweh and his strength; seek his face continually’).
None of us likely sees bronze pillars outside our place of public worship. We may dispense with the pillars but must retain their testimony. Don’t Christian believers still need to be freshly gripped with kingdom assurance (Jachin) and newly impressed with their own implicit helplessness (Boaz)?
Iain Provan: A pillar named “he will establish” clearly implies that hopes for the future of the dynasty are now bound up with the temple. God will establish the throne of the temple builder, as he had promised (cf. 2 Sam. 7:13).
b. (:22) Topping Them with Lily Design
“And on the top of the pillars was lily design.
So the work of the pillars was finished.”
C. (:23-26) Rule of God Represented by the Bronze Sea = Giant Water Supply
“Now he made the sea of cast metal ten cubits from brim to brim, circular in form, and its height was five cubits, and thirty cubits in circumference.
And under its brim gourds went around encircling it ten to a cubit, completely surrounding the sea; the gourds were in two rows, cast with the rest.
It stood on twelve oxen, three facing north, three facing west, three facing south, and three facing east; and the sea was set on top of them, and all their rear parts turned inward.
And it was a handbreadth thick, and its brim was made like the brim of a cup, as a lily blossom; it could hold two thousand baths.”
August Konkel: Its primary purpose in the temple court is to represent the rule of God over the cosmos.
Iain Provan: It is not made clear in this passage whether its function was purely symbolic, representing the forces of chaos that have been subdued and brought to order by the Lord, who is creator of the world (cf. Gen. 1:1–23; Pss. 74:12–17; 89:5–11; 93), or also practical. Certainly 2 Chronicles 4:6 tells us that the priests used the water for washing, and Exodus 30:18–21 and 40:30–32 tell us of such a bronze basin for priestly washing in the tabernacle.
Donald Wiseman: This huge basin or reservoir was one of the great Hebrew technical works, corresponding in modern metallurgy to the casting of the largest church bell. It was viewed as a large expanse and volume of water (Heb. yām, ‘sea’ is only used figuratively here, v. 23) and corresponded with the bronze basin in the tabernacle (Exod. 30:17–21). It was used by priests for cleansing their hands and feet and perhaps also to supply water to the standing basins for the rinsing of offerings (2 Chr. 4:10).
Constable: The “sea” (vv. 23-26) was a reservoir for the temple courtyard, so called because of its largeness, according to Josephus. Some believe that It had a total capacity of 3,000 baths (2 Chron. 4:5), but it normally held 2,000 baths (v. 26). Others believe that the “sea” itself held 2,000 baths, and that the “sea” plus the ten movable basins (vv. 27-40a) held a total of 3,000 baths. . .
The priests evidently used the 10 movable stands (vv. 27-40a) when they butchered sacrificial animals. Each one was six feet square, five and one half feet high, and held 40 baths (about 232 gallons) of water. Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown estimated that each movable stand held 300 gallons of water and weighed two tons when full.
D. (:27-37) Ten Stands of Bronze
1. (:27) Dimensions
“Then he made the ten stands of bronze; the length of each stand was four cubits and its width four cubits and its height three cubits.”
2. (:28-29) Borders
“And this was the design of the stands: they had borders, even borders between the frames, and on the borders which were between the frames were lions, oxen and cherubim; and on the frames there was a pedestal above, and beneath the lions and oxen were wreaths of hanging work.”
L. M. Grant: On the panels of the carts were lions, oxen and cherubim (v.29). In Revelation 4:7 we read of four living creatures, one like a lion, another like a calf (or ox), one having the face of a man and the last like a flying eagle. In our chapter the cherubim takes the place of man and the flying eagle is omitted. This is likely because the eagle speaks of the swift execution of God’s judgment, and there will be no such thing in the millennial kingdom. The lion speaks of strength, the ox, of service and the cherubim of intelligent government, all of these being important in the future kingdom of Christ.
3. (:30-33) Bronze Wheels
“Now each stand had four bronze wheels with bronze axles, and its four feet had supports; beneath the basin were cast supports with wreaths at each side.
And its opening inside the crown at the top was a cubit, and its opening was round like the design of a pedestal, a cubit and a half; and also on its opening there were engravings, and their borders were square, not round.
And the four wheels were underneath the borders, and the axles of the wheels were on the stand. And the height of a wheel was a cubit and a half.
And the workmanship of the wheels was like the workmanship of a chariot wheel. Their axles, their rims, their spokes, and their hubs were all cast.”
4. (:34-36) Supports with Engravings
“Now there were four supports at the four corners of each stand; its supports were part of the stand itself.
And on the top of the stand there was a circular form half a cubit high, and on the top of the stand its stays and its borders were part of it.
And he engraved on the plates of its stays and on its borders, cherubim, lions and palm trees, according to the clear space on each, with wreaths all around.”
5. (:37) Summary
“He made the ten stands like this: all of them had one casting,
one measure and one form.”
E. (:38-39) Ten Bronze Basins for the Ten Stands
1. (:38) Bronze Basins on Stands
“And he made ten basins of bronze, one basin held forty baths; each basin was four cubits, and on each of the ten stands was one basin.”
2. (:39a) Positioning of the Stands
“Then he set the stands, five on the right side of the house and five on the left side of the house;”
3. (:39b) Positioning of the Sea of Cast Metal
“and he set the sea of cast metal on the right side of the house eastward toward the south.”
F. (:40-47) List of Additional Bronze Temple Artifacts Made by Hiram
1. (:40) Basins, Shovels and Bowls
“Now Hiram made the basins and the shovels and the bowls. So Hiram finished doing all the work which he performed for King Solomon in the house of the LORD:”
2. (:41-45) List of Artifacts
a. (:41-42) Pillars and Capitals with Adornments
1) (:41a) Two Pillars and Two Capitals
“the two pillars and the two bowls of the capitals
which were on the top of the two pillars,”
2) (:41b) Two Networks
“and the two networks to cover the two bowls of the capitals which were on the top of the pillars;”
3) (:42) Pomegranates
“and the four hundred pomegranates for the two networks, two rows of pomegranates for each network to cover the two bowls of the capitals which were on the tops of the pillars;”
b. (:43) Ten Stands with Ten Basins
“and the ten stands with the ten basins on the stands;”
c. (:44) Sea with Twelve Oxen
“and the one sea and the twelve oxen under the sea;”
d. (:45) Other Utensils – Pails, Shovels, Bowls – Tools for Sacrifice
“and the pails and the shovels and the bowls; even all these utensils which Hiram made for King Solomon in the house of the LORD were of polished bronze.”
Donald Wiseman: The pots were large cauldrons used for cooking the offering meat for the fellowship offerings (Lev. 7:15, 17); the shovels were for handling the ash and the sprinkling bowls (reb ‘tossing-bowls’) for ritual use with blood or water (Exod. 27:3). The gold examples may have been employed only on special occasions, the bronze ones being for everyday use.
3. (:46-47) Impressive Details
a. (:46) Casting of the Bronze
“In the plain of the Jordan the king cast them,
in the clay ground between Succoth and Zarethan.”
MacArthur: Succoth was located on the E side of the Jordan River just N of the Jabbok River (Ge 33:17; Jos 13:27; Jdg 8:4, 5). Zarethan was nearby. This location was conducive to good metallurgy because it abounded in clay suitable for molds and lay close to a source of charcoal for heat, namely the forests across the Jordan.
R. D. Patterson: The casting method used by Hiram was the cire perdue or lost-wax process, used from 2500 B.C. in Egypt until the Middle Ages. It is still often used for high quality sculptures. First a clay core is made, then covered with wax to the desired thickness. The wax is molded according to the intended design, then overlaid with specially prepared clay. The whole mold is then evenly baked for a period of time, possibly several days. During this time the wax is withdrawn through the outer mold through vents. Then molten bronze is poured into the same vents. Huge furnaces must have been used by Hiram and great skill required to ensure a uniform flow and distribution of molten metal and proper escape of gases. Only a master craftsman could have successfully carried out so huge an undertaking as was required here.
b. (:47) Weight of the Bronze
“And Solomon left all the utensils unweighed, because they were
too many; the weight of the bronze could not be ascertained.”
G. (:48-50) List of Additional Golden Temple Artifacts Made by Solomon
1. (:48) Temple Furniture
“And Solomon made all the furniture which was in the house of the LORD: the golden altar and the golden table on which was the bread of the Presence;”
August Konkel: The gold work is credited to Solomon himself, though he certainly did not do it personally. The implication seems to be that the most precious objects are made by an Israelite rather than a hired foreign craftsman.
Brian Bell: Everything about the building & its furniture was meant as a teaching tool. Every point had a typological value, which pointed to Christ.
– Tabernacle (And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us).
– Lampstand (light of the world).
– Showbread (I am the bread of life).
– Veil (which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh).
– Basin (washes us).
– Altar (He is the sacrifice).
– Priest (Jesus the High Priest).
2. (:49a) Temple Lampstands
“and the lampstands, five on the right side and five on the left, in front of the inner sanctuary, of pure gold;”
3. (:49b) Temple Accessories
“and the flowers and the lamps and the tongs, of gold;”
4. (:50a) Temple Utensils
“and the cups and the snuffers and the bowls
and the spoons and the firepans, of pure gold;”
Constable: As in the Mosaic tabernacle, the metals used expressed the glory of God. The closer to the ark, the throne of Yahweh, the more valuable was the metal used. Everything inside the temple was gold or gold plated, and outside the temple there was bronze. While the ordinary Israelite did not see the inside of the temple, he or she would have known of its glory.
Wiersbe: The priests required many different utensils in order to carry on their work, including wick trimmers, bowls for sprinkling water and sacrificial blood, dishes, ladles, large pots for cooking the meat form the peace offerings, and shovels for removing the ashes. The temple was an imposing structure that contained expensive furnishings made of gold and polished bronze, but the daily ministry would have been impossible without these small utensils.
5. (:50b) Temple Door Hinges
“and the hinges both for the doors of the inner house, the most holy place, and for the doors of the house, that is, of the nave, of gold.”
H. (:51) Completion of the Construction and Financial Endowment
“Thus all the work that King Solomon performed
in the house of the LORD was finished.
And Solomon brought in the things dedicated by his father David,
the silver and the gold and the utensils,
and he put them in the treasuries of the house of the LORD.”
Caleb Nelson: Finally, the last verse highlights again how thoroughly Solomon provided for the worship of God. He even endowed the temple with all kinds of treasure, so that it would always have money to keep itself running when tithes and offerings ran low.