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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.
"Solomon laid the foundation of the temple in the year of the world 2992, before Christ 1008, before the vulgar era, 1012; and it was finished in the year of the world 3000, and dedicated in 3001, before Christ 999, before the vulgar era 1003; 1 Kings 8:1 etc.; 2 Chronicles 5:1; 2 Chronicles 7:1; 2 Chronicles 8:1 etc. The place that was pitched on for erecting this magnificent structure was on the side of Mount Sion called Moriah. Its entrance or frontispiece stood towards the east, and the most holy or most retired part was towards the west. The author of the first book of Kings, and of the second of Chronicles has chiefly made it his business to describe the temple properly so called, that is the sanctuary, the sanctum, and the apartments belonging to them, as also the vessels, the implements, and the ornaments of the temple, without giving any description scarcely of the courts and open areas, which, however, made a principal part of the grandeur of this august edifice.
"But Ezekiel has supplied this defect by the exact plan he has delineated of these necessary parts. Indeed it must be owned that the temple as described by Ezekiel was never restored after the captivity of Babylon, according to the model and the mensuration that this prophet has given of it. But as the measures he sets down for the sanctum and the sanctuary are, within a small matter, the same as those of the temple of Solomon; and as this prophet, who was himself a priest, had seen the first temple; it is to be supposed that the description he gives us of the temple of Jerusalem is the same as that of the temple of Solomon.
"The ground-plot upon which the temple was built was a square of six hundred cubits, or twenty-five thousand royal feet; Ezekiel 45:1 etc. This space was encompassed with a wall of the height of six cubits, and of the same breadth. Beyond this wall was the court of the Gentiles, being fifty cubits wide. After this was seen a great wall, which encompassed the whole court of the children of Israel. This wall was a square of five hundred cubits. The court of Israel was a hundred cubits square, and was encompassed all round with magnificent galleries supported by two or three rows of pillars. It had four gates or entrances; one to the east, another to the west, a third to the north, and the fourth to the south. They were all of the same form and largeness, and each had an ascent of seven steps. The court was paved with marble of divers colors, and had no covering; but the people in case of need could retire under the galleries that were all round about. These apartments were to lodge the priests in, and to lay up such things as were necessary for the use of the temple. There were but three ways to come in, to the east, to the north, and to the south, and they went to it by an ascent of eight steps. Before, and over against the gate of the court of the priests, in the court of Israel, was erected a throne for the king, being a magnificent alcove, where the king seated himself when he came into the temple. Within the court of the priests, and over against the same eastern gate, was the altar of burnt-offerings, of twelve cubits square, according to Ezekiel 43:16, or of ten cubits high and twenty broad, according to 2 Chronicles 4:1. They went up to it by stairs on the eastern side.
"Beyond this, and to the west of the altar of burnt-offerings was the temple, properly so called, that is to say, the sanctuary, the sanctum, and the porch of entrance. The porch was twenty cubits wide and six cubits deep. Its gate was fourteen cubits wide. The sanctum was forty cubits wide and twenty deep. There stood the golden candlestick, the table of shew-bread, and the golden altar, upon which the incense was offered. The sanctuary was a square of twenty cubits. There was nothing in the sanctuary but the ark of the covenant, which included the tables of the law. The high priest entered here but once a year, and none but himself was allowed to enter. Solomon had embellished the inside of this holy place with palm trees in relief, and cherubim of wood covered with plates of gold, and in general the whole sanctuary was adorned, and as it were overlaid, with plates of gold.
"Round the sanctum and sanctuary were three stories of chambers, to the number of thirty-three. Ezekiel makes them but four cubits wide; but the first book of Kings, 1 Kings 6:6, allows five cubits to the first story, six to the second, and seven to the third.
"Since the consecration or dedication of the temple by Solomon in the year of the world 3001, this edifice has suffered many revolutions, which it is proper to take notice of here.
"In the year of the world 3033, before Christ 967, before the vulgar era 971, Shishak, king of Egypt, having declared war with Rehoboam, king of Judah, took Jerusalem, and carried away the treasures of the temple; 1 Kings 14:25, 1 Kings 14:26; 2 Chronicles 12:1-9.
"In 3146, Jehoash, king of Judah, got silver together to go upon the repairs of the temple; they began to work upon it in earnest in 3148, before Christ 852, before the vulgar era 856; 2 Kings 12:4, 2 Kings 12:5, and 2 Chronicles 24:7-9, etc.
"Ahaz king of Judah having called to his assistance Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria, against the kings of Israel and Damascus, who were at war with him, robbed the temple of the Lord of its riches to give away to this strange king, 2 Chronicles 28:21, 2 Chronicles 28:22, etc., in the year of the world 3264, before Christ 736, before the vulgar era 740, and not contented with this, he profaned this holy place by setting up there an altar like one he had seen at Damascus, and taking away the brazen altar that Solomon had made; 2 Kings 16:10-12, etc. He also took away the brazen sea from off the brazen oxen that supported it, and the brazen basons from their pedestals, and the king's throne or oratory, which was of brass. These he took away to prevent their being carried away by the king of Assyria. Nor did he stop here, but carried his wickedness so far as to sacrifice to strange gods, and to erect profane altars in all the corners of the streets of Jerusalem; 2 Chronicles 28:24, 2 Chronicles 28:25. He pillaged the temple of the Lord, broke the sacred vessels, and, lastly, shut up the house of God. This happened in the year of the world 3264, before Christ 736, before the vulgar era 740, to his death, which happened in 3278, before Christ 722, before the vulgar era 726.
on 1-kings 6 :38
Seven years - More exactly, "seven years and six months," since Zif was the second, and Bul the eighth month. 1 Kings 6:1.
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