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scripture

 

CHAPTER 6

Building of the Temple.* 1In the four hundred and eightieth year after the Israelites went forth from the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign over Israel, in the month of Ziv (the second month), he began to build the house of the LORD.*

2The house which King Solomon built for the LORD was sixty cubits long, twenty wide, and thirty high. 3The porch in front of the nave of the house was twenty cubits from side to side along the width of the house, and ten cubits deep in front of the house. 4Windows with closed lattices were made for the house, 5and adjoining the wall of the house he built a substructure around its walls that enclosed the nave and the inner sanctuary, and he made side chambers all around. 6The lowest story was five cubits wide, the middle one six cubits wide, the third seven cubits wide, because he put recesses along the outside of the house to avoid fastening anything into the walls of the house. 7The house was built of stone dressed at the quarry, so that no hammer or ax, no iron tool, was to be heard in the house during its construction. 8The entrance to the middle story was on the south side of the house; stairs led up to the middle story and from the middle story to the third. 9When he had finished building the house, it was roofed in with rafters and boards of cedar. 10He built the substructure five cubits high all along the outside of the house, to which it was joined by cedar beams.

11The word of the LORD came to Solomon: 12a As to this house you are building—if you walk in my statutes, carry out my ordinances, and observe all my commands, walking in them, I will fulfill toward you my word which I spoke to David your father. 13I will dwell in the midst of the Israelites and will not forsake my people Israel.

14When Solomon finished building the house, 15its inside walls were lined with cedar paneling: he covered the interior with wood from floor to ceiling, and he covered its floor with fir planking. 16At the rear of the house a space of twenty cubits was set off by cedar panels from the floor to the ceiling, enclosing the inner sanctuary, the holy of holies. 17The house was forty cubits long, that is, the nave, the part in front. 18The cedar in the interior of the house was carved in the form of gourds and open flowers; all was of cedar, and no stone was to be seen.

19In the innermost part of the house* he set up the inner sanctuary to house the ark of the LORD’s covenant. 20In front of the inner sanctuary (it was twenty cubits long, twenty wide, and twenty high, and he covered it with pure gold), he made an altar of cedar. 21Solomon covered the interior of the house with pure gold, and he drew golden chains across in front of the inner sanctuary, and covered it with gold. 22He covered the whole house with gold, until the whole house was done, and the whole altar that belonged to the inner sanctuary he covered with gold. 23In the inner sanctuary he made two cherubim, each ten cubits high, made of pine. 24Each wing of a cherub was five cubits so that the span from wing tip to wing tip was ten cubits. 25The second cherub was also ten cubits: the two cherubim were identical in size and shape; 26the first cherub was ten cubits high, and so was the second. 27He placed the cherubim in the inmost part of the house; the wings of the cherubim were spread wide, so that one wing of the first touched the side wall and the wing of the second touched the other wall; the wings pointing to the middle of the room touched each other. 28He overlaid the cherubim with gold.

29The walls of the house on all sides of both the inner and the outer rooms had carved figures of cherubim, palm trees, and open flowers. 30The floor of the house of both the inner and the outer rooms was overlaid with gold. 31At the entrance of the inner sanctuary, doors of pine were made; the doorframes had five-sided posts. 32The two doors were of pine, with carved figures of cherubim, palm trees, and open flowers. The doors were overlaid with gold, and the cherubim and the palm trees were also covered with beaten gold. 33He did the same at the entrance to the nave, where the doorposts were of pine and were four-sided. 34The two doors were of fir wood, each door consisting of two panels hinged together; 35and he carved cherubim, palm trees, and open flowers, and plated them with gold. 36He walled off the inner court with three courses of hewn stones and one course of cedar beams.

37The foundations of the LORD’s house were laid in the month of Ziv in the fourth year, 38and it was finished, in all particulars, exactly according to plan, in the month of Bul, the eighth month, in the eleventh year. Thus Solomon built it in seven years.

* [6:17:51] The central units of the Solomon story describe the building of the Temple (6:17:51) and its dedication ceremony (8:19:10). The account of the construction of the Temple (“the house”) is organized to give the reader a guided tour. Approaching from a distance, we see ground plans (6:23) and structural work in stone (6:48) and wood (6:910). After a brief interruption that recounts a divine word to Solomon (6:1113), we enter the Temple to view the paneling and ornamentation of the nave (6:1418), the gilded walls and golden entrance of the inner sanctuary or holy of holies (6:1922), with its priceless interior decoration and furnishings (6:2328). As we leave, we admire the interior carvings and gilded floor of the inner sanctuary (6:2930), return to the nave through carved and gilded doors (6:3132), and exit from the nave through another set of carved and gilded doors (6:3335) to the courtyard (6:36). Our guide briefly points out the nearby palace complex (7:112); then we walk around the courtyard to marvel at Hiram’s heroic works in bronze: the two columns (7:1522), the “sea” (7:2326), and the ten stands and basins set along either side of the Temple buildings (7:2739). The account ends with the smaller bronze vessels Hiram made for the Temple services (7:4047) and the gold vessels that Solomon made (7:4850). Unfortunately, several factors make it impossible to use the account to produce a satisfactory model of Solomon’s Temple. Throughout the account there are numerous technical architectural terms whose meaning is lost to us; and it is moreover likely that the author is describing the Temple as it stood in his own time, centuries after Solomon’s day. The Chronicler also describes the construction of the Temple in 2 Chr 3:14:22 and its dedication in 2 Chr 5:17:22.

* [6:1] Construction of the Temple is here dated in relation to the traditional date of the exodus from Egypt, rounded off to a conventional twelve generations of forty years each. This chronology means that the Temple was built approximately midway between Israel’s two foundational deliverances, the exodus and the return from the Babylonian exile. The schematization of history implied in these figures recommends caution in using them for historical reconstruction.

* [6:19] The innermost part of the house: the inner sanctuary or holy of holies reserved exclusively for the Lord, enthroned upon the cherubim over the ark of the covenant (2 Chr 3:1013). See note on Ex 25:1820.

a. [6:12] 2 Sm 7:1316.




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