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2 Chronicles 3:1-5:1 – Temple Construction

Summary

The books of Chronicles have been building to this point. Now the central activity of Solomon's reign is related in a report of the temple's construction that emphasizes its splendor.

Analysis

The Chronicler has once again abridged his source (1 Kings 6-7). This shortening is curious, given the Chronicler's consuming interest in the temple. A close reading of the text, however, reveals that most of the omissions have to do with matters of architecture and furniture, obviously not of central concern to his purpose. Instead, he has drawn upon the descriptions of the tabernacle in Exodus to present the liturgical glories of the edifice:
  • cherubim (3:10-13; Exodus 25:18-20)
  • curtain (3:14; Exodus 26:31)
  • altar (4:1; Exodus 30:1-10)
  • basins (4:6; Exodus 30:18-21)
  • lampstands (4:7; Exodus 25:31-37)
  • tables (4:8; Exodus 25:23-28)
Most revealing in these comparisons is the striking disparity in size and number in all but the curtain. There are ten basins, ten lampstands, and ten tables in Solomon's temple; the tabernacle has only one of each. Solomon's altar is twenty times larger than the tabernacle's altar, and the modest cherubim that sit upon the ark are dwarfed by the "wall to wall" cherubim of the temple (3:12). As for the seeming contradiction of the curtain, there is no other mention of such a temple veil in the Old Testament; 1 Kings 6:31-32 speak of "doors," not a veil, at this point. Thus, both continuity with the ancient symbol of God's presence and the magnificence of the current temple are subtly presented.

Fourteen occurrences of the verb "he [Solomon] made" leave no doubt as to who the chosen temple builder is (3:8, 10, 14, 15, 16 [twice]; 4:1, 2, 6, 7, 8 [twice], 9, 19). The account concludes with a clever twist: the same Hebrew root (shlm) lies behind both Solomon's name and the verb "was finished" (5:1).

2 Chronicles 3:1-5:1

Solomon Builds the Temple

3Solomon began to build the house of the Lord in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, where the Lord had appeared to his father David, at the place that David had designated, on the threshing-floor of Ornan the Jebusite. 2He began to build on the second day of the second month of the fourth year of his reign. 3These are Solomon’s measurements* for building the house of God: the length, in cubits of the old standard, was sixty cubits, and the width twenty cubits. 4The vestibule in front of the nave of the house was twenty cubits long, across the width of the house;* and its height was one hundred and twenty cubits. He overlaid it on the inside with pure gold. 5The nave he lined with cypress, covered it with fine gold, and made palms and chains on it. 6He adorned the house with settings of precious stones. The gold was gold from Parvaim. 7So he lined the house with gold—its beams, its thresholds, its walls, and its doors; and he carved cherubim on the walls.

8 He made the most holy place; its length, corresponding to the width of the house, was twenty cubits, and its width was twenty cubits; he overlaid it with six hundred talents of fine gold. 9The weight of the nails was fifty shekels of gold. He overlaid the upper chambers with gold.

10 In the most holy place he made two carved cherubim and overlaid* them with gold. 11The wings of the cherubim together extended twenty cubits: one wing of one, five cubits long, touched the wall of the house, and its other wing, five cubits long, touched the wing of the other cherub; 12and of this cherub, one wing, five cubits long, touched the wall of the house, and the other wing, also five cubits long, was joined to the wing of the first cherub. 13The wings of these cherubim extended twenty cubits; the cherubim* stood on their feet, facing the nave. 14And Solomon* made the curtain of blue and purple and crimson fabrics and fine linen, and worked cherubim into it.

15 In front of the house he made two pillars thirty-five cubits high, with a capital of five cubits on the top of each. 16He made encircling* chains and put them on the tops of the pillars; and he made one hundred pomegranates, and put them on the chains. 17He set up the pillars in front of the temple, one on the right, the other on the left; the one on the right he called Jachin, and the one on the left, Boaz.

Furnishings of the Temple

4He made an altar of bronze, twenty cubits long, twenty cubits wide, and ten cubits high. 2Then he made the cast sea; it was round, ten cubits from rim to rim, and five cubits high. A line of thirty cubits would encircle it completely. 3Under it were panels all round, each of ten cubits, surrounding the sea; there were two rows of panels, cast when it was cast. 4It stood on twelve oxen, three facing north, three facing west, three facing south, and three facing east; the sea was set on them. The hindquarters of each were towards the inside. 5Its thickness was a handbreadth; its rim was made like the rim of a cup, like the flower of a lily; it held three thousand baths.* 6He also made ten basins in which to wash, and set five on the right-hand side, and five on the left. In these they were to rinse what was used for the burnt-offering. The sea was for the priests to wash in.

7 He made ten golden lampstands as prescribed, and set them in the temple, five on the south side and five on the north. 8He also made ten tables and placed them in the temple, five on the right-hand side and five on the left. And he made one hundred basins of gold. 9He made the court of the priests, and the great court, and doors for the court; he overlaid their doors with bronze. 10He set the sea at the south-east corner of the house.

11 And Huram made the pots, the shovels, and the basins. Thus Huram finished the work that he did for King Solomon on the house of God: 12the two pillars, the bowls, and the two capitals on the top of the pillars; and the two lattice-works to cover the two bowls of the capitals that were on the top of the pillars; 13the four hundred pomegranates for the two lattice-works, two rows of pomegranates for each lattice-work, to cover the two bowls of the capitals that were on the pillars. 14He made the stands, the basins on the stands, 15the one sea, and the twelve oxen underneath it. 16The pots, the shovels, the forks, and all the equipment for these Huram-abi made of burnished bronze for King Solomon for the house of the Lord. 17In the plain of the Jordan the king cast them, in the clay ground between Succoth and Zeredah. 18Solomon made all these things in great quantities, so that the weight of the bronze was not determined.

19 So Solomon made all the things that were in the house of God: the golden altar, the tables for the bread of the Presence, 20the lampstands and their lamps of pure gold to burn before the inner sanctuary, as prescribed; 21the flowers, the lamps, and the tongs, of purest gold; 22the snuffers, basins, ladles, and firepans, of pure gold. As for the entrance to the temple: the inner doors to the most holy place and the doors of the nave of the temple were of gold.

5Thus all the work that Solomon did for the house of the Lord was finished. Solomon brought in the things that his father David had dedicated, and stored the silver, the gold, and all the vessels in the treasuries of the house of God.

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10 February 2011

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