2 Chronicles 3
Pulpit Commentary
Then Solomon began to build the house of the LORD at Jerusalem in mount Moriah, where the LORD appeared unto David his father, in the place that David had prepared in the threshingfloor of Ornan the Jebusite.
Verse 1. - Mount Moriah. This name מוריָה occurs twice in the Old Testament, viz. here and Genesis 22:2, in which latter reference it is alluded to as "the land of Moriah," and "one of the mountains" in it is spoken cf. Whether the name designates the same place in each instance is more than doubtful. In the present passage the connection of the place with David is marked. Had it been the spot connected with Abraham and the proposed sacrifice of Isaac, it is at least probable that this also would have been emphasized, and not here only, but in 2 Samuel 24:17-25 and 1 Chronicles 21:16-26; but in neither of these places is there the remotest suggestion of such fame of old belonging to it. Nor in later passages of history (e.g. Nehemiah's rebuilding, and in the prophets, and the New Testament), where the opportunities would have been of the most tempting, is there found one single suggestion of the kind. There am also at fewest two reasons of a positive and intriusic character against Solomon's Moriah being Abraham's - in that this latter was a specially conspicuous height (Genesis 22:4), and was a secluded and comparatively desolate place, neither of which features attach to Solomon's Moriah. Nevertheless the identity theory is stoutly maintained by names as good as those of Thomson ('Land and the Book,' p. 475); Tristram ('Land of Israel,' p. 152); Hengstenberg ('Genuineness of Pentateuch, 2:162, Ryland's tr.); Kurtz ('History of O. C.,' 1:271); and Knobel and Kalisch under the passage in Genesis - against Grove (in Dr. Smith's ' Bible Dictionary'); Stanley (' Sinai and Palestine,' p. 251;'Jewish Church,' 1. 49); De Wette, Bleek, and Tischendorf [see 'Speaker's Commentary,' under Genesis 22:2]. Though there is some uncertainty as to the more exact form of the derivation of the name Moriah, it seems most probable that the meaning of it may be "the sight of Jehovah." Where the Lord appeared unto David his father. The clause is no doubt elliptical, and probably it is not to be mended by the inserting of the words," the Lord," as in our Authorized Version. We do not read anywhere that the Lord did then and there appear to David, though we do read that "the angel of the Lord" appeared to him (2 Samuel 24:16, passim; 1 Chronicles 21:15, 19, passim). Nor is it desirable to force the niph. preterite of the verb here, rightly rendered "appeared" or "was seen," into "was shown." We should prefer to solve the difficulty occasioned by the somewhat unfinished shape of the clause (or clauses) by reading it in close relation to 1 Chronicles 22:1. Then the vivid impressions that had been made both by works and words of the angel of the Lord caused David to feel and to say with emphasis, "This is the (destined) house of the Lord God," etc. In this light our present passage would read, in a parenthetic manner, "which (i.e. the house, its Moriah position and all) was seen of David;" or with somewhat more of ease, "as was seen of David;" and the following "in the place," etc., will read in a breath with the preceding "began to build the house of the Lord at Jerusalem... in the place," etc. David had prepared (so 1 Chronicles 22:2-4). In the threshing-floor of Ornan (so 2 Samuel 24:18; 1 Chronicles 21:15, 16, 18, 21-28).
And he began to build in the second day of the second month, in the fourth year of his reign.
Verse 2. - In the second day. The word "day" as italicized in our Authorized Version type is of course not found in the Hebrew text. Several manuscripts fail also to show the other words of this clause, viz. "In the second;" and that they are probably spurious derives confirmation from the fact that neither the Arabic nor Syriac Versions, nor the Septuagint nor Vulgate translations, produce them. In the second month, in the fourth year. Reading the verse, therefore, as though it began thus, the most interesting but doubtful question of fixing an exact chronology for what preceded Solomon's reign is opened. In our present text there is little sign of anything to satisfy the offers to do so, if only again to disappoint the more grievously. There we read of "four hundred and eighty years" from the Exodus to this beginning of the building of Solomon's temple. Now, this latter date can be determined with tolerable accuracy (viz. as some twenty years before B.C. 1000) by travelling backwards from the date (n.c. 536) of Cyrus taking Babylon, and the beginning of the return from the Captivity ( B.C. 535), making allowance for the seventy years of the Captivity, the duration of the line of separate Judah-kings, and the remanet, a large one, of the years of Solomon's reign. All this, however, helps nothing at all the period stretching from the Exodus to the beginning of the building of the temple. And the events of this period, strongly corroborated by other testimony (see Canon Rawlinson, 'Speaker's Commentary,' vol. it. pp. 575, 576), seem to show convincingly that no faith can be reposed in the authenticity of the chronological statement of our parallel.
Now these are the things wherein Solomon was instructed for the building of the house of God. The length by cubits after the first measure was threescore cubits, and the breadth twenty cubits.
Verse 3. - Now these. Perhaps the easiest predicate to supply to this elliptical clause is are the measures, or the cubits. Was instructed. The verb is hoph. conjugation of יָסַד to "found;" and the purport of the clause is that Solomon caused the foundations of the building to be laid of such dimensions by cubit. Ezra 3:11 and Isaiah 28:16 give the only other occurrences of the hoph. conjugation of this verb. Cubits after the first measure. This possibly means the cubit of pre-Captivity times, but at all events the Israelites' own ancient cubit - perhaps a hand-breadth (Ezekiel 43:13) longer than the present, or seven in place of six. The cubit (divided into six palms, and a palm into four finger-breadths) was the unit of Hebrew lineal measure. It stands for the length from the elbow to the wrist, the knuckle, or the tip of the longest finger. There is still considerable variation in opinion as to the number of inches that the cubit represents, and considerable perplexity as to the two or three different cubits (Deuteronomy 3:11; Ezekiel 40:5; Ezekiel 43:13) mentioned in Scripture. One of the latest authorities, Conder ('Handbook to the Bible,' 2nd edit., pp. 56-59, 371, 386), gives what seem to be reasons of almost decisive character for regarding the cubit of the temple buildings as one of sixteen inches. The subject is also discussed at length in Smith's ' Bible Dictionary,' 3:1736 - 1739. And the writer finally concludes to accept, under protest, Thenius's calculations, which give the cubit as rather over nineteen inches.
And the porch that was in the front of the house, the length of it was according to the breadth of the house, twenty cubits, and the height was an hundred and twenty: and he overlaid it within with pure gold.
Verse 4. - The porch... an hundred and twenty. The "porch" (אוּלָם, Greek, ὁ πρόναος). It is out of the question that the porch should be of this height in itself. And almost as much out of the question that, if it could be so, this should be the only place to mention it by word or. description. There can be no doubt that the text is here slightly corrupt, and perhaps it is a further indication of this that, while the parallel contains nothing of the height, this place fails (but comp. our ver. 8) to give the breadth ("ten cubits"), which the parallel does give. The words for" hundred" and for "cubit" easily confuse with one another. And our present Hebrew text, מֵאָה וְעִשְׂרִים, read עְמות עְשֵׂרִים, will make good Hebrew syntax, and be in harmony with the Septuagint (Alexandrian), and with the Syriac and Arabic Versions. This gives the height of the porch as 20 cubits, which will be in harmony with the general height of the building, which was 30 cubits. Thus far, then, the plan of the temple is plain. The house is 60 cubits long, i.e. 20 for the holy of holies (דְּבִיר or קֹדֶשׁ קָדָשִׁים);40 for the holy place (הֵיכָל); and for breadth 20 cubits. The porch was in length the same as the breadth of the house, viz. 20 cubits, but in breadth it was 10 cubits (1 Kings 6:3) only, while its height was 20 cubits, against a height of 30 cubits for the "house" (1 Kings 6:2). Overlaid it within with pure gold; i.e. covered the planks with gold leaf, or sometimes with plates of gold (Ovid., 'L Epp. ex. Pont,' 1:37, 38, 41, 42; Herod., 1:98; Polyb., 10:27. § 10). The appreciation, as well as bare knowledge, of gold belonged to a very early date (Genesis 2:12). The days when it was used in ring or lump (though not in coin) for sign of wealth and for purposes of exchange, and also for ornament (Genesis 13:2; Genesis 24:22; Genesis 42:21), indicate how early were the beginnings of metallurgy as regards it, though much more developed afterwards (Judges 17:4; Proverbs 17:3; Isaiah 40:19; Isaiah 46:9); and show it in the time of David and Solomon no rare art, even though foreign workmen, for obvious reasons, were the most skilful workers with it. There are four verbs used to express the idea of overlaying, viz.

(a) חָפָה, in hiph. This occurs only in this chapter, vers. 5, 7, 8, 9; but in niph. Psalm 68:13 may be compared.

(b) עָלָה in hiph. This occurs in the present sense, though not necessarily staying very closely by it; in 2 Chronicles 9:15, 16, and its parallel (1 Kings 10:16, 17); and perhaps in 2 Samuel 1:24. The meaning of the word, however, is evidently so generic that it scarcely postulates the rendering "overlay."

(c) צָפָה in piel. This occurs in our present verse, as also in a multitude of other places in Chronicles, Kings, Samuel, and Exodus. The radical idea of the verb (kal) is "to be bright."

(d) רָדַך in hiph. This occurs only once (1 Kings 6:32). No one of these verbs in itself bespeaks certainly of which or what kind the overlaying might be, unless it be the last, the analogy of which certainly points to the sense of a thin spreading.
And the greater house he cieled with fir tree, which he overlaid with fine gold, and set thereon palm trees and chains.
Verse 5. - The greater house; i.e. the holy place. He ceiled. This rendering is wrong. The verb is

(a) given above (ver. 4). It is repeated in the next clause of this very verse as "overlaid," as also in vers. 7, 8, 9. The generic word "covered" would serve all the occasions on which the word occurs here. From a comparison of the parallel it becomes plain that the meaning is that the crone structure of floor and walls was covered over with wood (1 Kings 6:7, 15, 18). That wood for the floor was fir (1 Kings 6:15), probably slim for the walls, which must depend partly on the translation of this ver. 15. It would seem to say that (beside the stone) there was an inner stratum, both to walls and floor, of cedar (reason for which would be easy of conjecture). But another translation obviates the necessity of this inner stratum supposition, rendering "from the floor to the top of the wall." According to this, while the overlaying gold was on cedar for walls and ceiling (1 Kings 6:9), it was on fir for the floor, which does not seem what our present verse purports, unless, according to the suggestion of some, "fir" be interpreted to include cedar. Set thereon palm trees and chains. These were, of course, carvings. The chains, not mentioned in the parallel (1 Kings 6:29; but see 1 Kings 7:17), were probably wreaths of chain design or pattern. Easier modern English would read "put thereon."
And he garnished the house with precious stones for beauty: and the gold was gold of Parvaim.
Verse 6. - He garnished. The verb employed is (e) of ver. 4, supra (Revelation 21:19). Precious stones. The exact manner in which these were applied or fixed is not stated. What the precious stones were, however, need not be doubtful (1 Chronicles 29:2; the obvious references for which passage, Isaiah 54:11, 12 and Revelation 21:18-21, cannot be forgotten. See also Ezekiel 27:16; Song of Solomon 5:14; Lamentations 4:7). For beauty; i.e. to add beauty to the house. Parvaim. What this word designates, or, if a place, where the place was, is not known. Gesenius ('Lexicon,' sub vet.) would derive it from a Sanskrit word, purva, meaning "oriental." Hitzig suggests another Sanskrit word, paru, meaning "hill," and indicating the "twin hills" of Arabia (Prof., 6:7. § 11) as the derivation. And Knobel suggests that it is a form of Sepharvaim, the Syriac and Jonathan Targum version of Sephar (Genesis 10:30). The word does not occur in any other Bible passage (see Dr. Smith's 'Bible Dictionary,' vol. it. p. 711).
He overlaid also the house, the beams, the posts, and the walls thereof, and the doors thereof, with gold; and graved cherubims on the walls.
Verse 7. - And graved cherubim. In the parallel this statement is placed in company with that respecting the "palms and flowers." Layard tells us that all the present description of decoration bears strong resemblance to the Assyrian. There can be no difficulty in imagining this, both in other respects, and in connection with the fact that foreigners, headed by the chief designer Hiram, had so large a share in planning the details of temple workmanship.
And he made the most holy house, the length whereof was according to the breadth of the house, twenty cubits, and the breadth thereof twenty cubits: and he overlaid it with fine gold, amounting to six hundred talents.
Verse 8. - The most holy house. The writer proceeds from speaking of "the greater house" (ver. 5), or holy place, to the "holy of holies." The parallel (1 Kings 6:20) adds the height, as also 20 cubits. Six hundred talents. It is impossible to assert with any accuracy the money value intended here. Six hundred talents of gold is an amazing proportion of the yearly revenue of 666 talents of gold, spoken of in 1 Kings 10:14. This latter amount is worth, in Keil's estimate, about three million and three quarters of our money, but in Peele's estimate nearer double that! The Hebrew, Phoenician, and Assyrian unit of weight is the same, and one quite different from the Egyptian. The silver talent (Hebrew, ciccar, כִּכָּר) contained 60 manehs, each maneh being equal to 50 shekels, and a shekel being worth 220 grains; i.e. there were 3000 shekels, or 660,000 grains, in such talent. But the gold talent con-rained 100 manehs, the maneh 100 shekels, and the shekel 132 grains, making this gold talent the equivalent of 10,000 shekels, or 1,320,000 grains. The "holy shekel," or "shekel of the sanctuary," could be either of gold or silver (Exodus 38:4, 5). (For some treatment of this still unsatisfactory subject, see Dr. Smith's . Bible Dictionary,' 3:1727-1736; and Conder's ' Handbook to the Bible,' 2nd edit., pp. 64-78, 81.)
And the weight of the nails was fifty shekels of gold. And he overlaid the upper chambers with gold.
Verse 9. - The weight of the nails, fifty shekels of gold. According to the above scale, therefore, this weight would be a twelve-thousandth part for the nails of all the weight of the overlaying plates of gold. The upper chambers. This is the first mention of these "chambers" in the present description, but they have been alluded to by the Chronicle writer before, in 1 Chronicles 28:11. What or where they were is as yet not certainly ascertained. Presumably they were the highest tier of those chambers which surrounded three sides of the main building. But some think they were a superstructure to the holy of holies; others, high chambers in the supposed very lofty superstructure of the porch. Both of these suppositions seem to us of the unlikeliest. It would, however, be much more satisfactory, considering that all the subject before and after treats of the most holy place, to be able to connect this expression in some way with it, nor is there any reason evident for overlaying richly with gold the aforesaid chambers (2 Chronicles 9:4 compared with 2 Chronicles 22:11) of the third tier.
And in the most holy house he made two cherubims of image work, and overlaid them with gold.
Verse 10. - Image work. The word in the Hebrew text (צַעֲצֻעִים) translated thus in our Authorized Version is a word unknown. Gesenius traces it to "an unused" Hebrew root צוַע, of Arabic derivation (meaning "to carry on the trade of a goldsmith"), and offers to translate it "statuary" work with the Vulgate (opus statuarium). The parallel (1 Kings 6:23) gives simply "wood of oil" (not "olive," Nehemiah 8:15), i.e. the oleaster tree wood. It is obvious that some of the characters of these words would go some way to make the other unknown word. But it must be confessed that our text shows no external indications of a corrupt reading.
And the wings of the cherubims were twenty cubits long: one wing of the one cherub was five cubits, reaching to the wall of the house: and the other wing was likewise five cubits, reaching to the wing of the other cherub.
Verse 11. - Twenty cubits. This, like all the preceding cubit measurings of the temple foundations and heights, and with all the succeeding cherubim measurings, is the exact double of that observed by Moses (Exodus 37:6-9). The height of the cherubim, ten cubits, not mentioned in our text, is given in the parallel (1 Kings 6:26).
And one wing of the other cherub was five cubits, reaching to the wall of the house: and the other wing was five cubits also, joining to the wing of the other cherub.
The wings of these cherubims spread themselves forth twenty cubits: and they stood on their feet, and their faces were inward.
Verse 13. - Their faces were inward; Hebrew, "were to the house," viz. to the holy place. The position of these cherubim, both as to wings and faces, was clearly different from that of those for the tabernacle of Moses. There they "cover the mercy-seat with their wings, and their faces are one to another... toward the mercy-seat were the faces of the cherubim" (Exodus 25:20; Exodus 37:9). May this alteration in the time of Solomon indicate possibly one more advance in the developing outlook of Divine mercy to a whole world? Neither this place nor the parallel makes it certain whether the cherubim, that are here said to stand on their feet, stood on the ground, as some say they did. As regards those of the tabernacle, the prepositions used in Exodus 25:18, 19 and Exodus 37:7, 8 appear to lay stress on their position being a fixture at and on each extremity of the mercy-seat.
And he made the vail of blue, and purple, and crimson, and fine linen, and wrought cherubims thereon.
Verse 14. - The veil of blue, and purple, and crimson, and fine linen (so Exodus 26:31, 33, 35; Exodus 36:35; Exodus 40:3, 21). It is remarkable that our parallel (1 Kings 6.) does not make mention of the veil, though a feature of which so much was always made (Matthew 27:51; Mark 15:38; Luke 23:45; Hebrews 6:19; Hebrews 9:3). On the other hand, it is remarkable that our present passage does not make mention of the folding "doors of olive tree," which, with "the veil," intercepted the approach to the oracle (1 Kings 6:31, 32), nor of the partition walls (1 Kings 6:16) in which they were situate, nor of the "partition chains [1 Kings 6:21] of gold before the oracle."
Also he made before the house two pillars of thirty and five cubits high, and the chapiter that was on the top of each of them was five cubits.
Verse 15. - Thirty and five cubits. The height of these pillars is attested in three places to have been 18 cubits (1 Kings 7:15; 2 Kings 25:17; Jeremiah 52:21). Some therefore think that the height given in our text describes rather the distance of the one pillar from the other, which would be just 35 cubits, if they stood at the extreme points of the line of the porch front; since the wings on each side (5 cubits for the lowest chamber, and 2.5 cubits for the thickness of the walls) would make up this amount. It is further noticed with this explanation that their height (18 cubits) with the chapiters (5 cubits) added, would bring them to the same height as the porch, and that their ornamentation agrees with that of the porch (1 Kings 7:19). All this may be the case. Yet considering other indications of uncertainty about our text, and the fact that the characters yod kheth (18) are easily superseded by lamed he (35), it is perhaps likelier that we have here simply a clerical error. The parallel place tells us that these pillars and the chapiters were cast of brass; that "a line [1 Kings 7:15; Jeremiah 52:41] of twelve cubits [not seven] did compass either of them about;" that the ornamentation of each chapiter was "a net of checker-work, and a wreath of chain-work;" that upon the five cubits of chapiter there was another "four cubits of lily-work," etc. If this last feature apply to the two pillars, and not (as some think) to the porch only, the pillars would reach a height of 27 cubits, and if it be supposed that they stood on some stone or other superstructure, it may still be that our "thirty-five cubits" has its meaning. Meantime the passage in Jeremiah (Jeremiah 52:41) tells us that the pillars were hollow, and that the thickness of the metal was "four fingers."
And he made chains, as in the oracle, and put them on the heads of the pillars; and made an hundred pomegranates, and put them on the chains.
Verse 16. - Chains, as in the oracle. Though the writer of Chronicles has not in this description mentioned any chains as appertaining to the oracle, yet they are mentioned in the parallel. The selection of what is said has in our present text so much the appearance of haste, that this may account for the abrupt appearance of the allusion here. Otherwise the words, "in the oracle," tempt us to fear some corruptness of text, scarcely safely removed by Bertheau's suggestion to substitute רְבִיד ("ring") for דְבִיר ("oracle"). An hundred pomegranates (comp. 2 Chronicles 4:13; 1 Kings 7:15, 18, 20). These passages indicate that the total number of pomegranates was two hundred for each pillar.
And he reared up the pillars before the temple, one on the right hand, and the other on the left; and called the name of that on the right hand Jachin, and the name of that on the left Boaz.
Verse 17. - Jachin... Boaz. The margin of our Authorized Version gives with sufficient correctness the meaning of these names of the pillars, which purport to set forth the safety and sure strength that belong to those who wait on, and who calmly and constantly abide by, the Divine leading. The latter, however, is one word, a substantive, not a compound of preposition, pronoun, and substantive; and the former, though by derivation the future of the hiph. conjugation of the verb הוּן, is established as a substantive in its own right.

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