1 Kings 6


In the four hundred and eightieth year from the exodus, in the

fourth year of Solomon's reign, and in the second month, he

laid the foundations of the temple; the length sixty cubits,

the breadth twenty, and the height thirty cubits; besides the

porch, which was twenty cubits in length, and ten cubits in

height, 1-3.

A description of its different external parts, 4-10.

God's promise to Solomon, 11-13.

Description of its internal parts and contents, 14-36.

Temple finished in the eighth month of the eleventh year of

Solomon's reign, being seven years in building, 37, 38.


Verse 1. In the four hundred and eightieth year] The Septuagint

has the four hundred and fortieth year. It need scarcely be

noticed, that among chronologists there is a great difference of

opinion concerning this epocha. Glycas has 330 years; Melchior

Canus, 590 years; Josephus, 592 years; Sulpicius Severus, 588;

Clemens Alexandrinus, 570; Cedrenus, 672; Codomanus, 598;

Vossius and Capellus, 580; Serarius, 680; Nicholas Abraham,

527; Maestlinus, 592; Petavius and Valtherus, 520. Here are more

than a dozen different opinions; and after all, that in the common

Hebrew text is as likely to be the true one as any of the others.

The month Zif] This answers to a part of our April and May; and

was the second month of the sacred year, but the eighth month of

the civil year. Before the time of Solomon, the Jews do not appear

to have had any names for their months, but mentioned them in the

order of their consecutive occurrence, first month, second month,

third month, &c. In this chapter we find Zif and Bul; and in

1Ki 8:2, we find another,

Ethanim; and these are supposed to be borrowed from the

Chaldeans; and consequently this book was written after the

Babylonish captivity. Before this time we find only the word Abib

mentioned as the name of a month, Ex 13:4. Whether there were any

others at that time, or whether Abib was really intended as the

name of a month, we cannot absolutely say. The present names of

the Hebrew months are:-Tisri, answering to a part of September and

October, Marchesvan, Cisleu, Tebeth, Shebat, Adar, Nisan, Ijar,

Sivan, Tamuz, Ab, and Elul.

Verse 2. The length thereof was threescore cubits] A cubit,

according to Bishop Cumberland, is 21 inches, and 888 decimals, or

1 foot, 9 inches, and 888 decimals.

Yds. Ft. Inch.

According to this, the length, 60

cubits, was . . . . . . . . . . 36 1 5.28

The breadth, 20 cubits, was . . . 12 0 5.76

The height, 30 cubits, was . . . . 18 0 8.64

This constituted what was called the temple or house, the house

of God, &c. But, besides this, there were courts and colonnades,

where the people might assemble to perform their devotions and

assist at the sacrifices, without being exposed to the open air.

The court surrounded the temple, or holy place, into which the

priests alone entered. Sometimes the whole of the building is

called the temple; at other times that, the measurement of which

is given above. But as no proper account can be given of such a

building in notes; and as there is a great variety of opinion

concerning the temple, its structure, ornaments, &c., as mentioned

in the books of Kings and Chronicles, in Ezekiel, and by

Josephus; and as modern writers, such as Vilalpandus, Dr.

Lightfoot, and Dr. Prideaux, professing to be guided by the same

principles, have produced very different buildings; I think it

best to hazard nothing on the subject, but give that description

at the end of the chapter which Calmet with great pains and

industry has collected: at the same time, pledging myself to no

particular form or appearance, as I find I cannot give any thing

as the likeness of Solomon's temple which I could say, either in

honour or conscience, bears any affinity to it. For other

particulars I must refer the reader to the three large volumes of

Vilalpandus, Dr. Lightfoot's Works, and to the Connections of

Dr. Prideaux.

Verse 4. Windows of narrow lights.] The Vulgate says, fenestras

obliquas, oblique windows; but what sort of windows could such be?

The Hebrew is challoney shekuphim atumim,

windows to look through, which shut. Probably latticed windows:

windows through which a person within could see well; but a person

without, nothing. Windows, says the Targum, which were open within

and shut without. Does he mean windows with shutters; or, are we

to understand, with the Arabic, windows opening wide within, and

narrow on the outside; such as we still see in ancient castles?

This sense our margin expresses. We hear nothing of glass or any

other diaphanous substance. Windows, perhaps originally windore, a

door to let the wind in, in order to ventilate the building, and

through which external objects might be discerned.

Verse 7. The house-was built of stone] It appears that every

stone was hewn and squared, and its place in the building

ascertained, before it came to Jerusalem: the timbers were

fitted in like manner. This greatly lessened the trouble and

expense of carriage. On this account, that all was prepared at

Mount Lebanon, there was neither hammer, axe, nor any tool of iron

heard in the building; nothing except mallets to drive the tenons

into the mortises, and drive in the pins to fasten them, was

necessary: therefore there was no noise. But why is this so

particularly marked? Is it not because the temple was a type of

the kingdom of God; and the souls of men are to be prepared here

for that place of blessedness? There, there is no preaching,

exhortations, repentance, ears, cries, nor prayers; the stones

must be all squared and fitted here for their place in the New

Jerusalem, and, being living stones, must be built up a holy

temple for a habitation of God through the Spirit.

Verse 9. Covered the house with beams and boards of cedar.] The

Eastern custom is very different from ours: we ceil with plaster,

and make our floors of wood; they make their floors of plaster

or painted tiles, and make their ceilings of wood. But it may

not be improper to observe that, in ancient times, our buildings

were somewhat similar. Westminster Hall is a proof of this.

Verse 11. The word of the Lord came to Solomon] Some think that

this is the same revelation as that mentioned 1Ki 9:2, &c., which

took place after the dedication of the temple: but to me it

appears different; it was a word to encourage him while building;

to warn him against apostasy, and to assure him of God's continued

protection of him and his family, if they continued faithful to

the grace which God had given.

Verse 15. The walls of the ceiling] See Clarke on 1Ki 6:9.

Verse 19. The oracle he prepared] See the description of the

temple at the end of this chapter. See Clarke on 1Ki 6:38.

Verse 22. The whole house he overlaid with gold] It is

impossible to calculate this expense, or the quantity of gold

employed in this sacred building.

Verse 26. The height of the one cherub was ten cubits]

Concerning the cherubs, their form, &c.,

See Clarke on Ex 25:18.

The height of each cherub was about eighteen feet and three


Verse 36. Three rows of hewed stone, and a row of cedar beams.]

Does not this intimate that there were three courses of stone, and

then one course of timber all through this wall? Three strata of

stone and one stratum of timber, and so on. If so, could such a

building be very durable? This is also referred to in the

succeeding chapter, 1Ki 7:11; and as both the temple and

Solomon's house were built in the same manner, we may suppose that

this was the ordinary way in which the better sort of buildings

were constructed. Calmet thinks that to this mode of building the

prophet alludes, Hab 2:11:

The stone shall cry out of the wall, and the beam out of the

timber shall answer it. But it should be observed that this was in

the inner court, and therefore the timber was not exposed to the

weather. The outer court does not appear to have been built

stratum super stratum of stone and wood.

Verse 38. 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, &c., 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


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, &c., 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 honour dwelt, and whither the people flocked to pay their


"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; 1Ki 8:1 &c.;

2Ch 5:1; 7:1; 8:1 &c. 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; Eze 45:1

&c. 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 colours,

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 Eze 43:16, or of ten cubits high and twenty broad, according

to 2Ch 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, 1Ki 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; 1Ki 14:25, 26; 2Ch 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;

2Ki 12:4, 5, and 2Ch 24:7-9, &c.

"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, 2Ch 28:21, 22,

&c., 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;

2Ki 16:10-12, &c. 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; 2Ch 28:24, 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.

"Hezekiah, the son and successor of Ahaz, opened again and

repaired the gates of the temple which his father had shut up and

robbed of their ornaments; 2Ch 29:3, 4, &c., in the year of the

world 3278, before Christ 722, before the vulgar era 726. He

restored the worship of the Lord and the sacrifices, and made new

sacred vessels in the place of those that Ahaz had destroyed. But

in the fourteenth year of his reign, 2Ki 18:15, 16, in the year

of the world 3291, before Christ 709, before the vulgar era 713,

Sennacherib, king of Assyria, coming with an army into the land

of Judah, Hezekiah was forced to take all the riches of the

temple, and even the plates of gold that he himself had put upon

the gates of the temple, and give them to the king of Assyria. But

when Sennacherib was gone back into his own country, there is no

doubt that Hezekiah restored all these things to their first


"Manasseh, son and successor of Hezekiah, profaned the temple of

the Lord, by setting up altars to all the host of heaven, even in

the courts of the house of the Lord; 2Ki 21:4-7; 2Ch 33:5-7; in

the year of the world 3306, and the following years. He set up

idols there, and worshipped them. God delivered him into the

hands of the king of Babylon, who loaded him with chains, and

carried him away beyond the Euphrates; 2Ch 33:11, 12, &c.; in the

year of the world 3328, before Christ 672, before the vulgar era

676. There he acknowledged and repented of his sins; and being

sent back to his own dominions, he redressed the profanations he

had made of the temple of the Lord, by taking away the idols,

destroying the profane altars, and restoring the altar of

burnt-offering, upon which he offered his sacrifices.

"Josiah, king of Judah, laboured with all his might in repairing

the edifices of the temple, (2Ki 22:4-6, &c.; 2Ch 34:8-10; in

the year of the world 3380, before Christ 620, before the vulgar

era 624,) which had been either neglected or demolished by the

kings of Judah, his predecessors. He also commanded the priests

and Levites to replace the ark of the Lord in the sanctuary, in

its appointed place; and ordered that it should not any more be

removed from place to place as it had been during the reigns of

the wicked kings, his predecessors, 2Ch 35:3.

"Nebuchadnezzar took away a part of the sacred vessels of the

temple of the Lord, and placed them in the temple of his god at

Babylon, under the reign of Jehoiakim, king of Judah;

2Ch 36:6, 7, in the year of the world 3398, before Christ 602,

before the vulgar era 606. He also carried away others under the

reign of Jehoiachin, 2Ch 36:10; in the year of the world 3405,

before Christ 595, before the vulgar era 599. Lastly, he took the

city of Jerusalem, and entirely destroyed the temple, in the

eleventh year of Zedekiah, in the year of the world 3416, before

Christ 584, before the vulgar era 588; 2Ki 25:1-3, &c.;

2Ch 36:18, 19.

"The temple continued buried in its ruins for the space of

fifty-two years, till the first year of Cyrus at Babylon, in the

year of the world 3468, before Christ 532, before the vulgar era

536. Then Cyrus gave permission to the Jews to return to

Jerusalem, and there to rebuild the temple of the Lord,

Ezr 1:1-3, &c. The following year they laid the foundation of

the second temple; but they had hardly been at work upon it one

year, when either Cyrus or his officers, being gained over by the

enemies of the Jews, forbade them to go on with their work;

Ezr 4:5; in the year of the world 3470, before Christ 530,

before the vulgar era 534. After the death of Cyrus and Cambyses,

they were again forbidden by the magian, who reigned after

Cambyses, and whom the Scripture calls by the name of Artaxerxes;

Ezr 4:7, 17, 18, &c.; in the year of the world 3483, before

Christ 517, before the vulgar era 521. Lastly, these prohibitions

being superseded, under the reign of Darius, son of Hystaspes,

(Ezr 5:1; 6:14; Hag 1:1, &c.; in the year of the world 3485,

before Christ 515, before the vulgar era 519,) the temple was

finished and dedicated four years after, in the year of the world

3489, before Christ 511, before the vulgar era 515, twenty years

after the return from the captivity.

"This temple was profaned by order of Antiochus Epiphanes in the

year of the world 3837. The ordinary sacrifices were discontinued

therein, and the idol of Jupiter Olympus was set up upon the

altar. It continued in this condition for three years; then Judas

Maccabeus purified it, and restored the sacrifice and the worship

of the Lord, 1 Mac. iv. 36; in the year of the world 8840, before

Christ 160, before the vulgar era 164.

"Herod the Great undertook to rebuild the whole temple of

Jerusalem anew, in the eighteenth year of his reign, and in the

year of the world 3986; Joseph., Antiq., lib. xv., cap. 14. He

began to lay the foundation of it in the year of the world 3987,

forty-six years before the first passover of Jesus Christ, as the

Jews observe to him by saying, Forty and six years was this temple

in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? Joh 2:20.

This is not saying that Herod had employed six and forty years in

building it; for Josephus assures us that he finished it in nine

years and a half; Joseph., Antiq., lib. xv., cap. 14. But, after

the time of this prince, they all continued to make some new

addition to it; and the same Josephus tells us that they went on

working upon it, even to the beginning of the Jewish war; Joseph.,

Antiq., lib. xx., cap. 8.

"This temple, built by Herod, did not subsist more than

seventy-seven years, being destroyed in the year of the world

4073, of Christ 73, of the vulgar era 69. It was begun by Herod in

3987, finished in 3996, burnt and destroyed by the Romans in 4073.

"This temple of Herod was very different from that of Solomon,

and from that which was rebuilt by Zerubbabel after the captivity.

This is the description that Josephus has left us of it, who

himself had seen it:-

"The temple, properly so called, was built sixty cubits high,

and as many broad; but there were two sides of front, like two

arms or shoulderings, which advanced twenty cubits on each side,

which gave in the whole front a hundred cubits wide, as well as in

height. The stones made use of in this building were white and

hard, twenty-five cubits long, eight in height, and twelve in

width; Joseph., de Bell., lib. vi., p. 917.

"The front of this magnificent building resembled that of a

royal palace. The two extremes of each face were lower than the

middle, which middle was so exalted that those who were over

against the temple, or that approached towards it at a distance,

might see it, though they were many furlongs from it. The gates

were almost of the same height as the temple; and on the top of

the gates were veils or tapestry of several colours, embellished

with purple flowers. On the two sides of the doors were two

pillars, the cornices of which were adorned with the branches of a

golden vine, which hung down with their grapes and clusters, and

were so well imitated, that art did not at all yield to nature.

Herod made very large and very high galleries about the temple,

which were suitable to the magnificence of the rest of the

building, and exceeded in beauty and sumptuousness all of the kind

that had been seen before.

"The temple was built upon a very irregular mountain, and at

first there was hardly place enough on the top of it for the site

of the temple and altar. The rest of it was steep and sloping:

Joseph., de Bell, lib. vi., p. 915, εκφιδ.; Antiq., lib. xv., c.

14. But when King Solomon built it, he raised a wall towards the

east, to support the earth on that side; and after this side was

filled up, he then built one of the porticoes or galleries. At

that time this face only was cased with stone, but in succeeding

times, the people endeavouring to enlarge this space, and the top

of the mountain being much extended, they broke down the wall

which was on the north side, and enclosed another space as large

as that which the whole circumference of the temple contained at

first. So that at last, against all hope and expectation, this

work was carried so far that the whole mountain was surrounded by

a treble wall. But, for the completing of this great work whole

ages were no more than sufficient; and all the sacred treasures

were applied to this use, that the devotion of the people had

brought to the temple from all the provinces of the world. In some

places these walls were above three hundred cubits high, and the

stones used in these walls were some forty cubits long. They were

fastened together by iron cramps and lead, to be able to resist

the injuries of time. The platform on which the temple was built

was a furlong square, or one hundred and twenty-five paces." Thus

far Calmet and Josephus.

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