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Adam Clarke Commentary

1 Kings 6


In the four hundred and eightieth year from the exodus, in the fourth year of Solomon's reign, and in the second month, he laid the foundations of the temple; the length sixty cubits, the breadth twenty, and the height thirty cubits; besides the porch, which was twenty cubits in length, and ten cubits in height, 1 Kings 6:1 -3. A description of its different external parts, 1 Kings 6:4 -10. God's promise to Solomon, 1 Kings 6:11 -13. Description of its internal parts and contents, vv. 14-36. Temple finished in the eighth month of the eleventh year of Solomon's reign, being seven years in building, 1 Kings 6:37 , 1 Kings 6:38 .

Verse 1

In the four hundred and eightieth year - The Septuagint has the four hundred and fortieth year. It need scarcely be noticed, that among chronologists there is a great difference of opinion concerning this epocha. Glycas has 330 years; Melchior Canus, 590 years; Josephus, 592 years; Sulpicius Severus, 588; Clemens Alexandrinus, 570; Cedrenus, 672; Codomanus, 598; Vossius and Capellus, 580; Serarius, 680; Nicholas Abraham, 527; Maestlinus, 592; Petavius and Valtherus, 520. Here are more than a dozen different opinions; and after all, that in the common Hebrew text is as likely to be the true one as any of the others.The month Zif - This answers to a part of our April and May; and was the second month of the sacred year, but the eighth month of the civil year. Before the time of Solomon, the Jews do not appear to have had any names for their months, but mentioned them in the order of their consecutive occurrence, first month, second month, third month, etc. In this chapter we find Zif and Bul; and in 1 Kings 8:2 , we find another, Ethanim; and these are supposed to be borrowed from the Chaldeans; and consequently this book was written after the Babylonish captivity. Before this time we find only the word Abib mentioned as the name of a month, Exodus 13:4 . Whether there were any others at that time, or whether Abib was really intended as the name of a month, we cannot absolutely say. The present names of the Hebrew months are: - Tisri, answering to a part of September and October, Marchesvan, Cisleu, Tebeth, Shebat, Adar, Nisan, Ijar, Sivan, Tamuz, Ab, and Elul.

Verse 2

The length thereof was threescore cubits - A cubit, according to Bishop Cumberland, is 21 inches, and 888 decimals, or 1 foot, 9 inches, and 888 decimals. According to this

Verse 4

Windows of narrow lights - The Vulgate says, fenestras obliquas, oblique windows; but what sort of windows could such be?The Hebrew is חלוני שקפים אטמים challoney shekuphim atumim, windows to look through, which shut. Probably latticed windows: windows through which a person within could see well; but a person without, nothing. Windows, says the Targum, which were open within and shut without. Does he mean windows with shutters; or, are we to understand, with the Arabic, windows opening wide within, and narrow on the outside; such as we still see in ancient castles? This sense our margin expresses. We hear nothing of glass or any other diaphanous substance. Windows, perhaps originally windore, a door to let the wind in, in order to ventilate the building, and through which external objects might be discerned.

Verse 7

The house - was built of stone - It appears that every stone was hewn and squared, and its place in the building ascertained, before it came to Jerusalem: the timbers were fitted in like manner. This greatly lessened the trouble and expense of carriage. On this account, that all was prepared at Mount Lebanon, there was neither hammer, axe, nor any tool of iron heard in the building; nothing except mallets to drive the tenons into the mortises, and drive in the pins to fasten them, was necessary: therefore there was no noise. But why is this so particularly marked? Is it not because the temple was a type of the kingdom of God; and the souls of men are to be prepared here for that place of blessedness? There, there is no preaching, exhortations, repentance, ears, cries, nor prayers; the stones must be all squared and fitted here for their place in the New Jerusalem, and, being living stones, must be built up a holy temple for a habitation of God through the Spirit.

Verse 9

Covered the house with beams and boards of cedar - The Eastern custom is very different from ours: we ceil with plaster, and make our floors of wood; they make their floors of plaster or painted tiles, and make their ceilings of wood. But it may not be improper to observe that, in ancient times, our buildings were somewhat similar. Westminster Hall is a proof of this.

Verse 11

The word of the Lord came to Solomon - Some think that this is the same revelation as that mentioned 1 Kings 9:2 , etc., which took place after the dedication of the temple: but to me it appears different; it was a word to encourage him while building; to warn him against apostasy, and to assure him of God's continued protection of him and his family, if they continued faithful to the grace which God had given.

Verse 15

The walls of the ceiling - See the note on 1 Kings 6:9 .

Verse 19

The oracle he prepared - See the description of the temple at the end of this chapter, 1 Kings 6:38 (note.

Verse 22

The whole house he overlaid with gold - It is impossible to calculate this expense, or the quantity of gold employed in this sacred building.

Verse 26

The height of the one cherub was ten cubits - Concerning the cherubs, their form, etc., see my note on Exodus 25:18 (note. The height of each cherub was about eighteen feet and three inches.

Verse 36

Three rows of hewed stone, and a row of cedar beams - Does not this intimate that there were three courses of stone, and then one course of timber all through this wall? Three strata of stone and one stratum of timber, and so on. If so, could such a building be very durable? This is also referred to in the succeeding chapter, 1 Kings 7:11 ; and as both the temple and Solomon's house were built in the same manner, we may suppose that this was the ordinary way in which the better sort of buildings were constructed. Calmet thinks that to this mode of building the prophet alludes, Habakkuk 2:11 : The stone shall cry out of the wall, and the beam out of the timber shall answer it. But it should be observed that this was in the inner court, and therefore the timber was not exposed to the weather. The outer court does not appear to have been built stratum super stratum of stone and wood.

Verse 38

In the eleventh year - was the house finished - It is rather strange that this house required seven years and about six months to put all the stones and the timbers in their places, for we have already seen that they were all prepared before they came to Jerusalem; but the ornamenting, gilding, or overlaying with gold, making the carved work, cherubim, trees, flowers, etc., must have consumed a considerable time. The month Bul answers to a part of our October and November, as Zif, in which it was begun, answers to a part of April and May.The dedication did not take place till the following year, the twelfth of Solomon, because then, according to Archbishop Usher, the jubilee happened.So was he seven years in building it - Properly seven years and six months; but the Scripture generally expresses things in round numbers.Diana's temple at Ephesus was one of the seven wonders of the world. It is said that almost all Asia was employed in the building of it for about two hundred years; but it was certainly more extensive than the temple at Jerusalem, for it may be justly questioned, notwithstanding the profusion of gold, silver, precious stones, etc., employed in the temple of Solomon, whether it cost any thing like the money expended on the temple of Diana.Pliny informs us, Hist. Nat., lib. xxxvi., cap. 12, that, in order to build one of the pyramids in Egypt, no less than three hundred and sixty thousand men were employed for the space of twenty years. But neither was the temple any such work as this. We may also observe that the temple was never intended to hold a vast concourse of people; it was only for the service of the Lord, and the priests were those alone who were employed in it. The courts, chambers, and other apartments, were far more extensive than the temple itself; it was never designed to be a place to worship in, but a place to worship at. There God was known to have a peculiar residence, and before him the tribes came, and the priests were a sort of mediators between him and the people. In short, the temple was to the Jews in the promised land what the tabernacle was to the Hebrews in the wilderness; the place where God's honor dwelt, and whither the people flocked to pay their adoration.

1 Kings 6

  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 ax 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.
  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.
  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 floor 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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