The Word Made Fresh
1Solomon also built his own palace, a project that took thirteen years altogether. 2The Palace of the Forest of Lebanon was one hundred fifty feet long, seventy-five feet wide and forty-five feet tall, on four rows of cedar pillars held together with cedar trusses. 3The roof was made with forty-five cedar rafters, fifteen in each section on the trusses. 4Each section had window frames facing each other. 5The doorways were four-sided, facing each other in each section.
6He stood columns on a floor that was seventy-five feet long and forty-five feet wide. In the front was a porch with pillars holding a canopy over it.
7The throne area in the Hall of Justice, where he would make pronouncements, was covered in cedar from one end of the floor to the other.
8His personal residential area behind the hall of justice was designed to match. He built a second identical residence for Pharaoh’s daughter whom he had married.
9All of it was built with expensive stonework, measured and sawn front and rear, from the foundation to the top and from the outer edge to the courtyard. 10The foundation was of massive expensive stones measuring twelve and fifteen feet. 11Expensive stones were cut to form the roof with cedarwood supports. 12The courtyard, the inner court, and the entryway had three courses of dressed stones topped by one course of cedar beams.
13King Solomon engaged Hiram of Tyre to furnish the temple. 14He was the son of a widow from the tribe of Naphtali. His father was from Tyre, an artisan in bronze work. Hiram was very talented and very knowledgeable when it came to working with bronze. He came to Solomon and took charge of the work.
15First, he cast two bronze pillars. They were each twenty-seven feet high and eighteen feet around. 16The capitals were also made of bronze, each seven and a half feet high. 17Each capital was hung with wreaths made of chain; seven on each capital. 18The two columns each had two rows of latticework beneath the capitals above the pomegranates.
19The capitals on top of the pillars in the entry hall were decorated with lilies. They were six feet high. 20The capitals topped the two pillars above the projection beside the latticework. Two hundred pomegranates were in rows around both capitals.
21Two pillars were placed in the entryway of the temple; he named the one on the south Jachin and the one on the north Boaz. 22The pillars were topped with lily work.
23He made a giant, round, molten basin, fifteen feet across and seven and a half feet deep. It required a tether of forty-five feet to go around it. 24Its brim was hung with fifteen-foot panels, cast when the basin had been cast, and they went around it twice. 25The basin sat on twelve oxen; three facing north, three facing west, three facing south and three facing east, with their hindquarters under the basin. 26The basin was three inches thick, with its brim rolled out like the flower of the lily. It held eleven thousand five hundred gallons.
27He made ten bronze carts, each six feet long, six feet wide, and four and a half feet high. 28They were built with borders inside their frames. 29The borders were decorated with lions, oxen and cherubim, above and below with beveled wreaths. 30Each cart was made with four bronze wheels on bronze axles, and the corners were equipped with supports for a basin, cast with wreaths on each side. 31Each cart had a round opening eighteen inches high, and twenty-seven inches wide. Around the square openings were carvings. 32There were four wheels underneath, with axles passing through the stands; each wheel was twenty-two inches high. 33They resembled chariot wheels, each part cast from bronze. 34Four supports were attached to the four corners of the stands. 35On top of each stand there was a round band nine inches high. The stays and borders of each of the stands were of one piece with it. 36Cherubim, lions, and palm trees were carved on the borders and sides of the stands. 37The ten stands were identical. 38He made ten bronze basins; each could hold two hundred fifty gallons. Each measured six feet, one for each of the ten stands. 38Five of the stands were placed on the south side of the house, and five on the north side. The large basin was placed on the southeast corner of the house.
40Hiram also fashioned all the pots and shovels and basins. He worked until he had completed all the work for king Solomon on the temple, 41including the two bronze pillars, the bowls on the capitals above the pillars, the latticework that covered the bowls, 42the four hundred pomegranates, two rows for each lattice covering the two bowls holding the capitals on the pillars, 43ten stands holding their ten basins, 4and the one huge basin held by the twelve bronze oxen.
45Hiram made all the pots, shovels and basins from polished bronze for king Solomon to be used in the LORD’s house. 46They were cast in the Jordan plain, in the clay earth between Succoth and Zarethan. 47There were so many vessels that Solomon never determined how much they weighed.
48Solomon also had all the accoutrements of the LORD’s house made: the golden altar, the golden table for the bread of the Presence of the LORD, 49the golden lampstands – five on the south and five on the north of the inner sanctuary. The floral designs, the lamps, the tongs, all were made of gold. 50The cups, snuffers, basins, incense containers, and firepans were of pure gold. The sockets on which the doors to the innermost part of the temple were mounted, and the ones which held the doors for the entryway, were all of pure gold.
51Solomon finally finished all the work on the LORD’s house. He had all the silver and gold vessels his father David had dedicated stored in the treasuries of the LORD’s temple.
1: Solomon has taken a bit more than 7 years to build the temple, the “house of the LORD” (6:38). Now it takes 13 years to build his personal domicile. It makes you kind of wonder about his priorities, doesn’t it? Although, it is possible to determine from the text that the two projects were taking place at the same time, and the temple may have received most of the time and effort for the first seven years. Note, though, that the palace is much larger. And he had to build a second palace for his Egyptian queen who apparently lived separately.
2-5: His palace consists of a number of units, beginning with the House of the Forest of Lebanon, which seems to have been a kind of armory, perhaps for the palace guards (see 10:17). It was massive, much larger than the temple.
6: Next he builds the Hall of Pillars, about half the size of the House of the Forest of Lebanon. This building is not mentioned elsewhere and may have been an open structure to be used for various gatherings.
7: He builds the Hall of the Throne next, where he would sit as the king and the nation’s primary judge, the highest authority in any dispute. The dimensions of this building are not given, but apparently consists of two main compartments; the throne room and the Hall of Justice. These are not mentioned elsewhere.
8: Solomon’s personal residence is next along with the house he builds for Pharaoh’s daughter (see 3:1). The exact dimensions are not given.
9-12: All the buildings are erected on a foundation of massive cut stones and lined with cedar.
13-14: The Hiram of Tyre named here is not the King of Tyre but rather an Israelite craftsman whose mother is from the tribe of Naphtali, and who lives in the city of Tyre and is renowned for his artistic ability.
It is a bit confusing, but the palace is now complete, and we are back to the temple to attend to all the furnishings. It would seem that the details given here would have been taken care of before the king’s palace was built but the sequence in the text is not at all clear.
15-22: Our historian gives an elaborate description of two majestic bronze pillars fashioned by Hiram. It is not clear exactly where these were situated, but they must have been magnificent. He names them “Jachin” and “Boaz.” Jachin was a son of Simeon and grandson of Jacob (Genesis 46:10) and Boaz was the great-great grandfather of Solomon (see Ruth 4:21-22); but the significance of using these names for the bronze pillars is not known.
23-26: Hiram casts a massive basin, a “molten sea,” 15 feet in diameter and over 7 feet deep, for use in the temple sacrifices. Such a feat would be impressive even with today’s technology. The text doesn’t say, but the bronze oxen holding it must have been life-sized, or nearly so.
27-37: The ten bronze stands described here are more delicately wrought. They are for the purpose of holding the ten basins described in the next paragraph and are used for the sacrifices in the temple.
38-39: The bronze basins are described next, which are placed on the ten stands and arranged on each side of the temple.
40-44: Utensils are then fashioned to handle the ashes and the cooked meat of the sacrifices. A summary is given of Hiram’s products.
45-47: These smaller utensils are cast in clay forms in the Jordan River valley and brought to Jerusalem.
48-50: Now we are told that Solomon makes the vessels inside the temple’s sanctuary: altar, table, lamp stands, flowers, lamps, tongs, cups, snuffers, basins, dishes, fire pans, and sockets for the doors, all of pure beaten gold. Whether the historian means that Solomon personally did this work, or had it done by other artisans like Hiram is not made clear, but the latter is the most likely explanation.
51: Solomon completes the preparation of the temple by bringing in all the things David had collected for it.
The description of the temple and its furnishings and tools in chapter six and the last 38 verses of chapter seven sounds very much like the description of the building of the sanctuary tent and its tools and furnishing built by Moses in the Sinai wilderness. It is as if Solomon is deliberately stepping out on the plan that Moses first followed four hundred eighty years before. The symbolism is glorious, but will the people’s faith match the grandeur of the temple? Or even the Palace? Or is all of this gold and polished bronze glorifying Solomon?