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1 Kings 6-7 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Chapter 6

Building of the Temple.[a] In 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.[b]

The house which King Solomon built for the Lord was sixty cubits long, twenty wide, and thirty high. The 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. Windows with closed lattices were made for the house, and 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. The 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. The 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. The 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. When he had finished building the house, it was roofed in with rafters and boards of cedar. 10 He built the substructure five cubits high all along the outside of the house, to which it was joined by cedar beams.

11 The word of the Lord came to Solomon: 12 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. 13 I will dwell in the midst of the Israelites and will not forsake my people Israel.

14 When Solomon finished building the house, 15 its 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. 16 At 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. 17 The house was forty cubits long, that is, the nave, the part in front. 18 The 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.

19 In the innermost part of the house[c] he set up the inner sanctuary to house the ark of the Lord’s covenant. 20 In 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. 21 Solomon 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. 22 He 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. 23 In the inner sanctuary he made two cherubim, each ten cubits high, made of pine. 24 Each wing of a cherub was five cubits so that the span from wing tip to wing tip was ten cubits. 25 The second cherub was also ten cubits: the two cherubim were identical in size and shape; 26 the first cherub was ten cubits high, and so was the second. 27 He 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. 28 He overlaid the cherubim with gold.

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

37 The foundations of the Lord’s house were laid in the month of Ziv in the fourth year, 38 and 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.

Chapter 7

[d]To finish the building of his own house Solomon took thirteen years. He built the House of the Forest of Lebanon one hundred cubits long, fifty wide, and thirty high; it was supported by four rows of cedar columns, with cedar beams upon the columns. Moreover, it had a ceiling of cedar above the rafters resting on the columns; these rafters numbered forty-five, fifteen to a row. There were lattices in three rows, each row facing the next, and all the openings and doorposts were squared with lintels, each facing across from the next. He also made the Porch of Columns, fifty cubits long and thirty wide. The porch extended across the front, and there were columns with a canopy in front of them. He also made the Porch of the Throne where he gave judgment—that is, the Porch of Judgment; it was paneled with cedar from floor to ceiling beams. The house in which he lived was in another court, set in deeper than the Porch and of the same construction. (Solomon made a house like this Porch for Pharaoh’s daughter, whom he had married.)[e] All these buildings were of fine stones, hewn to size and trimmed front and back with a saw, from the foundation to the bonding course and outside as far as the great court. 10 The foundation was made of fine, large blocks, some ten cubits and some eight cubits. 11 Above were fine stones hewn to size, and cedar wood. 12 The great court had three courses of hewn stones all around and a course of cedar beams. So also were the inner court of the house of the Lord and its porch.

13 King Solomon brought Hiram[f] from Tyre. 14 He was a bronze worker, the son of a widow from the tribe of Naphtali; his father had been from Tyre. He was endowed with wisdom, understanding, and knowledge for doing any work in bronze. He came to King Solomon and did all his metal work.

15 [g]He fashioned two bronze columns, each eighteen cubits high and twelve cubits in circumference. 16 He also made two capitals cast in bronze, to be placed on top of the columns, each of them five cubits high. 17 There were meshes made like netting and braid made like chains for the capitals on top of the columns, seven for each capital. 18 [h]He also cast pomegranates, two rows around each netting to cover the capital on top of the columns. 19 The capitals on top of the columns (in the porch) were made like lilies, four cubits high. 20 And the capitals on the two columns, both above and adjoining the bulge where it crossed out of the netting, had two hundred pomegranates in rows around each capital. 21 He set up the columns at the temple porch; one he set up to the south, and called it Jachin, and the other to the north, and called it Boaz.[i] 22 The top of the columns was made like a lily. Thus the work on the columns was completed.

23 Then he made the molten sea;[j] it was made with a circular rim, and measured ten cubits across, five in height, and thirty in circumference. 24 Under the brim, gourds encircled it for ten cubits around the compass of the sea; the gourds were in two rows and were cast in one mold with the sea. 25 This rested on twelve oxen, three facing north, three facing west, three facing south, and three facing east, with their haunches all toward the center; upon them was set the sea. 26 It was a handbreadth thick, and its brim resembled that of a cup, being lily-shaped. Its capacity was two thousand baths.[k]

27 He also made ten stands of bronze, each four cubits long, four wide, and three high. 28 When these stands were constructed, panels were set within the framework. 29 On the panels within the frames there were lions, oxen, and cherubim; and on the frames likewise, above and below the lions and oxen, there were wreaths in hammered relief. 30 Each stand had four bronze wheels and bronze axles. The four legs of each stand had cast braces, which were under the basin; they had wreaths on each side. 31 The mouth of the basin was inside, and a cubit above, the crown, whose opening was round, made like a receptacle, a cubit and a half in depth. There was carved work at the opening, on panels that were square, not circular. 32 The four wheels were below the paneling, and the axletrees of the wheels and the stand were of one piece. Each wheel was a cubit and a half high. 33 The wheels were constructed like chariot wheels; their axletrees, rims, spokes, and hubs were all cast. 34 The four braces reached the four corners of each stand, and formed part of the stand. 35 At the top of the stand there was a raised collar half a cubit high, and the handles and panels on top of the stand formed part of it. 36 On the flat ends of the handles and on the panels, wherever there was a bare space, cherubim, lions, and palm trees were carved, as well as wreaths all around. 37 This was how he made the ten stands, all of the same casting, the same size, the same shape. 38 He made ten bronze basins, each four cubits in diameter with a capacity of forty baths, one basin atop each of the ten stands.

39 He placed the stands, five on the south side of the house and five on the north. The sea he placed off to the southeast from the south side of the house.

40 When Hiram had made the pots, shovels, and bowls, he finished all his work for King Solomon in the house of the Lord: 41 two columns; two nodes for the capitals on top of the columns; two pieces of netting covering the two nodes for the capitals on top of the columns; 42 four hundred pomegranates in double rows on both pieces of netting that covered the two nodes of the capitals on top of the columns; 43 ten stands; ten basins on the stands; 44 one sea; twelve oxen supporting the sea; 45 pots, shovels, and bowls. All these articles which Hiram made for King Solomon in the house of the Lord were of burnished bronze. 46 The king had them cast in the neighborhood of the Jordan, between Succoth and Zarethan, in thick clay molds. 47 Solomon did not weigh all the articles because they were so numerous; the weight of the bronze, therefore, was not determined.

48 Solomon made all the articles that were for the house of the Lord: the golden altar; the table on which the showbread lay; 49 the lampstands of pure gold, five to the right and five to the left before the inner sanctuary; their flowers, lamps, and tongs of gold; 50 basins, snuffers, bowls, cups, and firepans of pure gold; hinges of gold for the doors of the innermost part of the house, or holy of holies, and for the doors of the outer room, the nave. 51 When all the work undertaken by King Solomon in the house of the Lord was completed,[l] he brought in the votive offerings of his father David, and put the silver, gold, and other articles in the treasuries of the house of the Lord.

Footnotes:

  1. 6:1–7:51 The central units of the Solomon story describe the building of the Temple (6:1–7:51) and its dedication ceremony (8:1–9:10). 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 (6:2–3) and structural work in stone (6:4–8) and wood (6:9–10). After a brief interruption that recounts a divine word to Solomon (6:11–13), we enter the Temple to view the paneling and ornamentation of the nave (6:14–18), the gilded walls and golden entrance of the inner sanctuary or holy of holies (6:19–22), with its priceless interior decoration and furnishings (6:23–28). As we leave, we admire the interior carvings and gilded floor of the inner sanctuary (6:29–30), return to the nave through carved and gilded doors (6:31–32), and exit from the nave through another set of carved and gilded doors (6:33–35) to the courtyard (6:36). Our guide briefly points out the nearby palace complex (7:1–12); then we walk around the courtyard to marvel at Hiram’s heroic works in bronze: the two columns (7:15–22), the “sea” (7:23–26), and the ten stands and basins set along either side of the Temple buildings (7:27–39). The account ends with the smaller bronze vessels Hiram made for the Temple services (7:40–47) and the gold vessels that Solomon made (7:48–50). 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 3:1–4:22 and its dedication in 2 Chr 5:1–7:22.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 3:10–13). See note on Ex 25:18–20.
  4. 7:1–12 The account of Solomon’s building of the Temple (the Lord’s “house”) is interrupted by an account of his building of the palace (Solomon’s “house”), which contained also the main buildings of public administration. The passage is anachronistic, since 6:38–7:1 and 9:10 imply that the palace was not begun until the Temple was completed. By placing the account here, the narrator highlights the fact that Solomon spent almost twice as long on his own “house” as on the Lord’s.
  5. 7:8 Solomon did not build the house for Pharaoh’s daughter until Temple and palace were finished (3:1). By mentioning this marriage, the narrator keeps before the reader a developing theme in the Solomon story: the king’s building activities for his foreign wives, which eventually implicate him in idolatry (3:1; 7:8; 9:24; 11:1–8).
  6. 7:13 Hiram: a craftsman, not the king of Tyre (5:15–26).
  7. 7:15 The two bronze columns were called Jachin and Boaz (v. 21; also 2 Chr 3:17); the significance of the names is unclear. The columns stood to the right and left of the Temple porch, and may have been intended to mark the entrance to the building as the entrance to God’s private dwelling. Their extraordinary size and elaborate decoration would have made them the most impressive parts of the Temple visible to the ordinary viewer, who was not permitted into the nave, let alone into the innermost sanctuary. According to Jer 52:21, the columns were hollow, the bronze exterior being “four fingers thick.”
  8. 7:18–20 The Hebrew text is corrupt in many places here, and alternative readings attested in the ancient versions are secondary attempts to make sense of the text. A clearer description of the columns and their decoration is found in vv. 41–42.
  9. 7:21 Jachin…Boaz: see note on 7:15.
  10. 7:23–26 The molten sea: this was a large circular tank containing about twelve thousand gallons of water.
  11. 7:26 Baths: see note on Is 5:10.
  12. 7:51 The account of the Temple’s construction has been punctuated by references to “building” (banah) or “finishing” (killah) it (6:1b, 9a, 14, 38; 7:40). Here, at the end of the account, the narrator uses a different verb for its “completion,” shillem, which allows him to play on the name of Solomon (shelomo).
New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Scripture texts, prefaces, introductions, footnotes and cross references used in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC All Rights Reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

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