New European Commentary


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Deeper Commentary

1Ki 6:1  It happened in the four hundred and eightieth year after the children of Israel had come out of the land of Egypt-
LXX gives the 440th year. Sometimes the Biblical record is vague, other times exact. This reflects how God is not seeking to cover His back against critics. He is of an altogether higher nature than that. There are times when the Spirit uses very approximate numbers rather than exact ("about the space of four hundred and fifty years", Acts 13:20 cp. 1 Kings 6:1). As noted on :38, the temple was built in seven and a half years, but this is summarized as seven years. The reference to "seventy" in Judges 9:56 also doesn't seem exact. Seven and a half years (2 Sam. 2:11) becomes "seven years" (1 Kings 2:11); three months and ten days (2 Chron. 36:9) becomes "three months" (2 Kings 24:8). And 1 Kings 7:23 gives the circumference of the laver as “thirty cubits”, although it was ten cubits broad. Taking ‘pi’ to be 3.14, it is apparent that the circumference would have been 31.4 cubits; but the Spirit says, summing up, “thirty”.

In the fourth year of Solomon’s reign over Israel, in the month Ziv, which is the second month, that he began to build the house of Yahweh-
The note in the LXX at the end of 1 Kings 5 says that the preparation of the materials took three years. Which would mean that Solomon began the project immediately he came to the throne, wrongly seeing the building of the temple as some kind of proof that he was indeed the Messianic son of David promised in 2 Sam. 7.  

1Ki 6:2 The house which king Solomon built for Yahweh, its length was sixty cubits, and its breadth twenty, and its height thirty cubits-
This was twice the size of the tabernacle. Psalm 127 is prefaced with the information that it is a Psalm for Solomon- perhaps given by some nameless prophet (Gad? Nathan?) to warn him of where he was going. Verse 1 reminds him that God must be the builder of any house, or else the builders labour in vain. There is good reason to think that Solomon utterly failed to appreciate this. The records stress time and again that Solomon  built the temple (1 Kings 6:2,14; 9:10,25; 10:4; 1 Chron.6:10,32; 2 Chron. 8:1,12; 9:3; Acts 7:47); yet the house referred to in the Davidic promises was to be built by God, through David's Messianic Son, the Lord Jesus. Zechariah prophesied at the time of the rebuilding of the physical temple. It is significant, in this context, that Zech. 6:12 reminds Israel that the true temple of God will be built by the Branch, the Lord Jesus.

1Ki 6:3 The porch before the temple of the house, twenty cubits was its length, according to the breadth of the house. Ten cubits was its breadth before the house-
The height of the porch was 120 cubits, or 180 feet (2 Chron. 3:4). This is out of proportion to the length and breadth. Perhaps what is meant is that the height of each of the four walls has been added together, which would give a height of 30 cubits. This style is to be found in 2 Chron. 3:11, where the length of the wings of the cherubim is given as 20 cubits, but this was a way of saying that each of the four wings was five cubits long. We have another example in the way that the two pillars are said to be 18 cubits high (1 Kings 7:15), but in 2 Chron. 3:15 they are 35 cubits high. What that means is that there were two cubits of 17.5 cubits high each, summarized as 18 cubits high in 1 Kings 7:15.      

1Ki 6:4 He made windows of fixed lattice work for the house-
Windows broad within and narrow without" (AVmg.). They were for ventilation, not for light. There was no natural light in the temple just as there wasn't in the tabernacle. The hope was that it would be lit by the light of God's glory; and likewise there is no natural light in the spiritual temple, only that of God's glory.

1Ki 6:5 Against the wall of the house he built storeys all around, against the walls of the house all around, both of the temple and of the oracle; and he made side rooms all around-
The idea is that three stories (R.V.) of small chambers were built around two sides and one end of the temple. Josephus says there were 30 of these side rooms / chambers, which were accessed by passing through each room, i.e. there was no corridor. These rooms are alluded to by the Lord in Jn. 14:1-3, where He speaks of how there is a chamber or abiding place for each of us in God's temple which He was enabling to be built by His death. We each will have our own personal existence and place in God's Kingdom; our personality will be preserved, and not subsumed into some kind of nirvana. These are the chambers used for storage and even living in Neh. 13:5; Jer. 36:10,20.

1Ki 6:6 The lowest storey was five cubits broad, and the middle was six cubits broad, and the third was seven cubits broad-
This refers to the gap between the wall of the temple and the outer wall of the three stories of chambers described in :5. The temple wall was very thick at the bottom, seeing that at  five cubits height there was a kind of ledge of one cubit wide, upon which rested the floor of the middle chambers. Then five cubits above that, there was another such ledge upon which was put the floor of the third story; and finally at a point 15 cubits high there was another ledge to support the roof beams of the top story. The wall of the holy place continued up for another 15 cubits, in which there were the "windows" or, effectively, ventillation slats. Assuming that upper wall was two cubits thick, the base of the temple wall must have been five cubits thick. Remember that each story of the side chambers was one cubit wider than the one below it.

For on the outside he made offsets in the wall of the house all around, so that the supporting beams should not be inserted into the walls of the house-
The idea is that there was no hole made in the wall of the temple or holy place.

1Ki 6:7 The house, when it was in building, was built of stone prepared at the quarry; and there was neither hammer nor axe nor any tool of iron heard in the house, while it was in building-
This was perhaps an attempt to follow the spirit of the law which commanded that no iron tool should be used in the shaping of stones for an altar (Ex. 20:25; Dt. 27:5). But typical of Solomon, it is a getting around of God's law; because all the same, iron tools were used in preparing the stones. The Lord Jesus is presented as the builder of the spiritual temple, in which the stones should fit together without strife (Eph. 2:21 alludes to 1 Kings 6:7). This means that we as the stones are being prepared in this life; every knock and blow we receive is intended to shape us to fit next to other stones, eternally. And the final assembly of the stones at the day of judgment will not be the time for shaping; that is going on now.

1Ki 6:8 The door for the middle side rooms was in the right side of the house: and they went up by winding stairs into the middle storey, and out of the middle into the third-
LXX has "lowest" instead of "middle", which makes sense because otherwise there is no way of accessing the lowest chambers. "The right side" is Heb. 'shoulder', and refers to the face of the temple building.

1Ki 6:9 So he built the house, and finished it-
This seems to refer to the actual temple building, as the storeys of surrounding chambers of :5 are mentioned separately as being built (:10).

And he covered the house with beams and planks of cedar-
This refers to the roof. No cedar trunk would have yielded wood long enough to cover the required length, and so there would have been supporting beams. The inspired record makes such good sense, and is not open to serious criticism from a practical point of view. This roof would have imitated the covering upon the tabernacle and would probably therefore have been pitched at an angle.

1Ki 6:10 He built the storeys against the whole house, each five cubits high: and they were attached to the house by cedar beams-
These beams rested on the shoulders or ledges of :6.

1Ki 6:11 The word of Yahweh came to Solomon saying-
As shown in :12, God was concerned that Solomon thought that simply having built the temple meant that he was fulfilling the promises of 2 Sam. 7 and was therefore the promised Messianic seed. God noticed how Solomon was bypassing in his mind the conditional nature of the promises.

1Ki 6:12 Concerning this house which you are building, if you will walk in My statutes, and execute My ordinances, and keep all My commandments to walk in them; then will I establish My word with you, which I spoke to David your father-
God constantly warned Solomon about the conditionality of the promises, before the building started (2 Sam. 7:14), during it (1 Kings 6:11-13) and immediately after completing it (1 Kings 9:2-9).

Thanks to Solomon’s prayer, and if he had been obedient, all Israel would have been blessed and experienced Yahweh dwelling amongst them (1 Kings 6:12,13). Moses prayed for God to forgive Israel; and He responded: “I have pardoned, according to your word” (Num. 14:20)- rather than according to their repentance and prayer. Indeed it would seem from Heb. 11:28 that Israel were delivered from the Egyptians due to Moses’  faith in the Christ whom the sprinkled Passover blood pointed forward to. And so Israel's blessing was dependent on Solomon's obedience (1 Kings 6:12,13); their joy was because of the honour God had given Solomon (2 Chron. 7:10). The blessing of others can be dependent upon a third party (e.g. Mk. 2:5).

1Ki 6:13 I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will not forsake My people Israel-
The Lord Jesus was well aware of the connection between God's refusal to answer prayer and His recognition of sin in the person praying (2 Sam. 22:42 = Ps. 2:2-5). It is emphasized time and again that God will not forsake those who love Him (e.g. Dt. 4:31; 31:6; 1 Sam. 12:22; 1 Kings 6:13; Ps. 94:14; Is. 41:17; 42:16). Every one of these passages must have been well known to our Lord, the word made flesh. He knew that God forsaking Israel was a punishment for their sin (Jud. 6:13; 2 Kings 21:14; Is. 2:6; Jer. 23:33). God would forsake Israel only if they forsook Him (Dt. 31:16,17; 2 Chron. 15:2). We can therefore conclude that His desperate “Why have You forsaken me?” was because He was so intensely identified with our sins that in the crisis of the cross, He indeed felt forsaken because of sin. He did not sin, but felt like a sinner; He thereby knows how sinners feel.

God said that He accepted the temple not so much as a place to dwell in (as Solomon assumed it was) but as a place facilitating sacrifice, prayer etc., for the glorification of His Name through these things; He emphasized that He dwelt amongst His people (1 Kings 6:13; 2 Chron. 7:12-16). There are several other places where God’s response to Solomon’s words seems to be corrective rather than affirmatory. Thus Solomon says that God will hear the prayers of His people because the temple is called by God’s Name; but God’s response is that “my people, which are called by my name” would pray to Him themselves and be heard, quite apart from the temple (2 Chron. 6:33 cp. 7:14). He sees them as bearing His Name rather than the temple building, as Solomon perceived it. God goes on to parallel the temple and His people in 2 Chron. 7:21,22, saying that if He punishes the temple He will punish the people. Solomon seems to have thought that the temple would still stand favourably in God’s eyes even if the people were punished. The record records that the temple was “perfected” whereas Solomon’s heart wasn’t perfect [s.w.] (1 Kings 11:4 cp. 2 Chron. 8:16).


1Ki 6:14 So Solomon built the house, and finished it-
There appears no particular need for the phrase "Concerning this house which you are in building" in :12- it appears somewhat redundant, until we realize that God is saying 'OK I see you are building this house, thinking you are so obedient to my word; well, get on and keep my word in reality, and then the promises to David will apply to you'. Activity supposedly in God's service can lead us to think that of course we are being obedient to His word... when the very obsession of the activity may be blinding us to the fact that we aren't at all. There's no record that Solomon responded positively to God's warning words- 1 Kings 6:14 states that "So Solomon built the house, and finished it". We are expecting to hear Solomon respond to God- but instead, he gets on with building again.

1Ki 6:15 He built the walls of the house within with boards of cedar: from the floor of the house to the walls of the ceiling, he covered them on the inside with wood; and he covered the floor of the house with boards of fir-
"Fir" is LXX "pine", which along with the huge amount of cedar would all have been brought from Hiram.

1Ki 6:16 He built twenty cubits on the back part of the house with boards of cedar from the floor to the ceiling: he built them for it within, for an inner sanctuary, even for the most holy place-
"The back part", AV "sides", uses a word elsewhere describing inner recesses, e.g. of a cave (1 Sam. 24:4) or forest (Is. 37:24). The reference is to the 'back part' of the temple as one looked into the temple from the entrance- which was the wall at the end of the Most Holy Place. This was separated from the rest of the Holy Place by a door (:31) with "chains of gold" across it (:21) and a veil across it all (2 Chron. 3:14). 

1Ki 6:17 In front of the temple sanctuary was forty cubits-
The reference is to the holy place; the preceding verses have just described the most holy place.

1Ki 6:18 There was cedar on the house within, carved with buds and open flowers: all was cedar; there was no stone seen-
"Buds" is a guess at translation, for the Hebrew word is very obscure, literally "wild gourds", a poisonous plant (s.w. 2 Kings 4:39). It is unlikely this plant is in view. But there are observable similarities with the decoration of Egyptian holy places. Seeing that Solomon had married an Egyptian, and the Song of Solomon reflects Solomon's deep admiration for things Egyptian, it seems likely that even in the temple, Solomon allowed Gentile influence. And that was to be a theme of this temple until its destruction. See on :29.

1Ki 6:19 He prepared an inner sanctuary in the midst of the house within, to set there the ark of the covenant of Yahweh-
"Inner sanctuary" is AV "oracle", and is the Hebrew word usually translated "word". It refers to the most holy place, but perhaps the idea is that God's word is ultimately where we are to find the presence of God represented by the ark.

1Ki 6:20 Within the inner sanctuary was twenty cubits in length, and twenty cubits in breadth, and twenty cubits in its height; and he overlaid it with pure gold: and he covered the altar with cedar-
The idea is that within the inner sanctuary there was a space of 20 cubits length. The altar within the Most Holy was the altar of incense. The altar is described in some manuscripts as "made" with cedar, and this surely must be the case. It was the cedar which was overlaid with pure gold as in Ex. 25:11.

1Ki 6:21 So Solomon overlaid the house within with pure gold: and he drew chains of gold across before the inner sanctuary; and he overlaid it with gold-
The most holy place, or "inner sanctuary", was separated from the rest of the Holy Place by a door (:31) with "chains of gold" across it and a veil across it all (2 Chron. 3:14). 

1Ki 6:22 The whole house he overlaid with gold, until all the house was finished: also the whole altar that belonged to the inner sanctuary he overlaid with gold-
2 Chron. 3:8 says this was 600 talents of gold. One talent is 26 kilograms (57 pounds). 1 kilogram of gold is currently worth about 40,000 US$ [2020], meaning the value was around 625 million US$ in current terms. But in the poor, subsistence farming economy of those times, this sum was far greater in real terms. But this was not even all the gold which came to Solomon in the course of one year (1 Kings 13:18), so it was not particularly generous.   

1Ki 6:23 In the inner sanctuary he made two cherubim of olive wood, each ten cubits high-
"Olive" is s.w. "pine", and may also have been brought from Gentile Hiram- to be worked into God's glory.

1Ki 6:24 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 to the uttermost part of the other were ten cubits-
This means that the wings of the cherubim touched each other. There was a complete covering over the mercy seat, or top of the ark where the blood of atonement was sprinkled each year, and above that but below the wings of the cherubim the shekinah glory of God was seen. The ark and mercy seat were placed under the cherubic wings (2 Chron. 8:6). It was only a relatively small space, as noted on :26.   


In the tabernacle the wings were "spread out on high" (Ex. 25:20; 27:9), but here their wings touch each other. Although Solomon claims he built everything according to Divine revelation, we wonder whether in fact he felt free to liberally reinterpret the tabernacle features. And he changes wings uplifted to God's glory to wings which are closed in upon each other; the mercy seat, or cover of the ark, is no longer exposed to Heaven, as it were, but now closed over.

1Ki 6:25 The other cherub was ten cubits: both the cherubim were of one measure and one form-
This "one form" is significant, as the various Biblical visions of the cherubim seem to present them as having slightly different forms in each vision. Like everything to do with God's glory and manifestation, the form is constantly variable over time but expresses the same Divine glory. They stood upon their own feet in this vision (2 Chron. 3:13).

1Ki 6:26 The height of the one cherub was ten cubits, and so was it of the other cherub-
See on :24. The ark and mercy seat were placed under the cherubic wings (2 Chron. 8:6). The ark was one and a half cubits high (Ex. 25:10) and the cherubim were ten cubits high. In this relatively small space, the shekinah glory of God was manifest. For God doesn't need much space in which to reveal Himself; which is an abiding principle.

1Ki 6:27 He set the cherubim within the inner house; and the wings of the cherubim were stretched forth, 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-
We note that "the wall" refers to the interior of the wall. If this is likewise how "the walls" are described elsewhere, then the thickness of the walls is not included in the dimensions given. 

1Ki 6:28 He overlaid the cherubim with gold-
Considering the construction of the cherubim leads us to reflect that they were not somehow supernatural, they were made of ordinary materials and didn't fall down from Heaven, as claimed by many of the religious cults.

1Ki 6:29 He carved all the walls of the house around with carved figures of cherubim-
The idea was that the glory and presence of God represented by the cherubim was not only in the most holy place, but extended beyond it. David had often perceived this in his Psalms whilst on the run from Saul.

And palm trees and open flowers-
Perhaps the reference was to David's imagery of the righteous flourishing like the palm tree (Ps. 92:12). But Solomon had likened his Egyptian lover to a palm (Song 7:7,8), and the palm and open flowers feature in Egyptian architecture. See on :18. Seeing that Solomon had married an Egyptian, and the Song of Solomon reflects Solomon's deep admiration for things Egyptian, it seems likely that even in the temple, Solomon allowed Gentile influence, although mixing it with the imagery of the cherubim of Yahweh's manifestation. And that was to be a sad theme of this temple until its destruction. 

Inside and outside-
The idea is "within and without", "the inner and outer", and I suggest the reference is to the inner and outer areas just described, i.e. the most holy place ['inner'] and holy place ['outer'].

1Ki 6:30 The floor of the house he overlaid with gold, inside and outside-
David had perceived that "Holiness adorns Your house, Yahweh, forever" (Ps. 93:5). David realized in that Psalm that if God's throne was David's throne, then David's house was to as Yahweh's house, adorned with holiness. Solomon interpreted this in physical terms, adorning the temple with symbols of holiness (the cherubim) and gold; but the real adornment was of personal holiness, which Solomon failed in ultimately because of his obsession with the external and material.

1Ki 6:31 For the entrance of the inner sanctuary he made doors of olive wood-
The most holy place, or "inner sanctuary", was separated from the rest of the Holy Place by a door with "chains of gold" across it (:21) and a veil across it all (2 Chron. 3:14). 

The lintel and door posts were a fifth part of the wall-
The wall was 20 cubits high, so the length and breadth of the door posts / lintel were 4 x 4 cubits.

1Ki 6:32 So he made two doors of olive wood; and he carved on them carvings of cherubim and palm trees and open flowers, and overlaid them with gold; and he spread the gold on the cherubim, and on the palm trees-
See on :29 for the significance of the carvings. The floors and walls were covered with gold plating, but the carved work had to be covered with gold spread or beaten onto it. Seeing gold seemed in plentiful supply, we wonder why Solomon didn't make the cherubim of solid gold. Perhaps he was careful to imitate how they had been made in the tabernacle, or perhaps it was Divinely overruled that he didn't make them of solid gold. For the significance of the stress upon overlaying with gold was that God works with very ordinary materials, wood and stone, and turns them into something far more beautiful in response to our faith, which is the real gold.

1Ki 6:33 In the same way he also made for the entrance of the temple door posts of olive wood, out of a fourth part of the wall-
The wall was 20 cubits high, so the length and breadth of the door posts / lintel were 5 x 5 cubits. "The entrance" in view is that into the holy place from the porch. 

1Ki 6:34 and two doors of fir wood: the two leaves of the one door were folding, and the two leaves of the other door were folding-
This means there were four leaves. Two collapsed together on one wall and two on the other. This meant that the opening could be just a quarter of the entire door, or more or less the entire aperture could be opened.


1Ki 6:35 He carved cherubim and palm trees and open flowers; and he overlaid them with gold fitted on the engraved work-
See on :29 for the significance of the carvings. 2 Chron. 3:6 adds that the gold was from Parvaim, and that precious stones were also used.  The context is of the doors, so the idea may be that the carvings and embossed parts of the doors were overlaid rather than the entire doors. 

1Ki 6:36 He built the inner court with three courses of cut stone, and a course of cedar beams-
This other court would be the "court of the priests" (2 Chron. 4:9), the "higher court" of Jer. 36:10. Perhaps it was made "higher" by the three layers of stone and the cedar decking placed upon it. Perhaps the idea was that the people in the outer court could see what the priests were doing. 

1Ki 6:37 In the fourth year was the foundation of the house of Yahweh laid, in the month Ziv-
This was the fourth year of Solomon's reign (:1).

1Ki 6:38 In the eleventh year, in the month Bul, which is the eighth month, was the house finished throughout all its parts, and according to all its fashion. Thus he was seven years in building it
Comparing with :1, the period was seven and a half years. But s noted on :1, the Bible is often not exact about time periods.