Monthly Archives: January 2023

1 Kings 7 The Halls of Solomon and the Furnishing of the Temple

James Tissot, Solomon Decicates the Temple (1896-1902)

1 Kings 7: 1-12 The Halls of Solomon

1 Solomon was building his own house thirteen years, and he finished his entire house.

2 He built the House of the Forest of the Lebanon one hundred cubits long, fifty cubits wide, and thirty cubits high, built on four rows of cedar pillars, with cedar beams on the pillars. 3 It was roofed with cedar on the forty-five rafters, fifteen in each row, which were on the pillars. 4 There were window frames in the three rows, facing each other in the three rows. 5 All the doorways and doorposts had four-sided frames, opposite, facing each other in the three rows.

6 He made the Hall of Pillars fifty cubits long and thirty cubits wide. There was a porch in front with pillars, and a canopy in front of them.

7 He made the Hall of the Throne where he was to pronounce judgment, the Hall of Justice, covered with cedar from floor to floor.

8 His own house where he would reside, in the other court back of the hall, was of the same construction. Solomon also made a house like this hall for Pharaoh’s daughter, whom he had taken in marriage.

9 All these were made of costly stones, cut according to measure, sawed with saws, back and front, from the foundation to the coping, and from outside to the great court. 10 The foundation was of costly stones, huge stones, stones of eight and ten cubits. 11 There were costly stones above, cut to measure, and cedarwood. 12 The great court had three courses of dressed stone to one layer of cedar beams all around; so had the inner court of the house of the LORD, and the vestibule of the house.

In the middle of the narrative about the construction of the temple the narrator of 1 Kings briefly attends to the other major construction project in Jerusalem: the construction of the houses of Solomon. On the one hand this is in keeping with the rapid transition of Solomon’s reign which completed the consolidation of Israel from a group of tribes with some interconnection to a monarchy consolidated around a king and a capital city. This inclusion in the midst of the construction of the temple may serve for the narrator as an indication that Solomon’s agenda may be drifting from its devotion to the LORD the God of Israel since the collection of buildings is significantly larger than the temple and takes roughly twice the time to complete.

The House of the Forest of Lebanon by itself covers over twice the area of the temple and the Hall of Pillars is similar in area to the temple. With the exception of the Hall of Justice and the residences for himself and Pharaoh’s daughter we are not given any indication what these buildings were used for. The narrator also does not take the time to detail the construction of these buildings except to indicate that they use large amounts of cedar and costly stones. The inclusion of Pharaoh’s daughter at this point may also be a warning that Solomon is beginning to model his leadership on Pharaoh. The text is suggestive of a criticism of Solomon but it is not explicit. The narrator may be impressed by the scale of the projects that the people under Solomon are able to achieve. It would not be surprising for a monarch to use the best materials in the construction of their residence and their place of conducting the business of running the kingdom. This complex of buildings probably serves a similar function to the White House in the United States which is both a residence and a place where the leader of the nation conducts their business.


1 Kings 7: 13-51 Furnishing the Temple

13 Now King Solomon invited and received Hiram from Tyre. 14 He was the son of a widow of the tribe of Naphtali, whose father, a man of Tyre, had been an artisan in bronze; he was full of skill, intelligence, and knowledge in working bronze. He came to King Solomon, and did all his work.

15 He cast two pillars of bronze. Eighteen cubits was the height of the one, and a cord of twelve cubits would encircle it; the second pillar was the same. 16 He also made two capitals of molten bronze, to set on the tops of the pillars; the height of the one capital was five cubits, and the height of the other capital was five cubits. 17 There were nets of checker work with wreaths of chain work for the capitals on the tops of the pillars; seven for the one capital, and seven for the other capital. 18 He made the columns with two rows around each latticework to cover the capitals that were above the pomegranates; he did the same with the other capital. 19 Now the capitals that were on the tops of the pillars in the vestibule were of lily-work, four cubits high. 20 The capitals were on the two pillars and also above the rounded projection that was beside the latticework; there were two hundred pomegranates in rows all around; and so with the other capital. 21 He set up the pillars at the vestibule of the temple; he set up the pillar on the south and called it Jachin; and he set up the pillar on the north and called it Boaz. 22 On the tops of the pillars was lily-work. Thus the work of the pillars was finished.

23 Then he made the molten sea; it was round, ten cubits from brim to brim, and five cubits high. A line of thirty cubits would encircle it completely. 24 Under its brim were panels all around it, each of ten cubits, surrounding the sea; there were two rows of panels, cast when it was cast. 25 It 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 toward the inside. 26 Its thickness was a handbreadth; its brim was made like the brim of a cup, like the flower of a lily; it held two thousand baths.

27 He also made the ten stands of bronze; each stand was four cubits long, four cubits wide, and three cubits high. 28 This was the construction of the stands: they had borders; the borders were within the frames; 29 on the borders that were set in the frames were lions, oxen, and cherubim. On the frames, both above and below the lions and oxen, there were wreaths of beveled work. 30 Each stand had four bronze wheels and axles of bronze; at the four corners were supports for a basin. The supports were cast with wreaths at the side of each. 31 Its opening was within the crown whose height was one cubit; its opening was round, as a pedestal is made; it was a cubit and a half wide. At its opening there were carvings; its borders were four-sided, not round. 32 The four wheels were underneath the borders; the axles of the wheels were in the stands; and the height of a wheel was a cubit and a half. 33 The wheels were made like a chariot wheel; their axles, their rims, their spokes, and their hubs were all cast. 34 There were four supports at the four corners of each stand; the supports were of one piece with the stands. 35 On the top of the stand there was a round band half a cubit high; on the top of the stand, its stays and its borders were of one piece with it. 36 On the surfaces of its stays and on its borders he carved cherubim, lions, and palm trees, where each had space, with wreaths all around. 37 In this way he made the ten stands; all of them were cast alike, with the same size and the same form.

38 He made ten basins of bronze; each basin held forty baths, each basin measured four cubits; there was a basin for each of the ten stands. 39 He set five of the stands on the south side of the house, and five on the north side of the house; he set the sea on the southeast corner of the house.

40 Hiram also made the pots, the shovels, and the basins. So Hiram finished all the work that he did for King Solomon on the house of the LORD: 41 the two pillars, the two bowls of the capitals that were on the tops of the pillars, the two latticeworks to cover the two bowls of the capitals that were on the tops of the pillars; 42 the four hundred pomegranates for the two latticeworks, two rows of pomegranates for each latticework, to cover the two bowls of the capitals that were on the pillars; 43 the ten stands, the ten basins on the stands; 44 the one sea, and the twelve oxen underneath the sea.

45 The pots, the shovels, and the basins, all these vessels that Hiram made for King Solomon for the house of the LORD were of burnished bronze. 46 In the plain of the Jordan the king cast them, in the clay ground between Succoth and Zarethan. 47 Solomon left all the vessels unweighed, because there were so many of them; the weight of the bronze was not determined.

48 So Solomon made all the vessels that were in the house of the LORD: the golden altar, the golden table for the bread of the Presence, 49 the lampstands of pure gold, five on the south side and five on the north, in front of the inner sanctuary; the flowers, the lamps, and the tongs, of gold; 50 the cups, snuffers, basins, dishes for incense, and firepans, of pure gold; the sockets for the doors of the innermost part of the house, the most holy place, and for the doors of the nave of the temple, of gold.

51 Thus all the work that King Solomon did on the house of the LORD was finished. Solomon brought in the things that his father David had dedicated, the silver, the gold, and the vessels, and stored them in the treasuries of the house of the LORD.

The introduction of the artisan Hiram from Tyre who brings the technical expertise to do the metal work used in the construction of the temple again directs us to the massive project that the construction of the temple is for the nation of Israel. Hiram possesses the skill, knowledge, and intelligence like Bezalel and Oholiab did when the constructed the tabernacle. Yet, Hiram, like many of the resources for the temple, comes from Tyre and even though he mother from the tribe of Naphtali his father is from outside Israel. Yet, the narrative of 1 Kings is more concerned with the skill and knowledge that Hiram learned from his father than the kinship he shares with the people through his mother[1].

Possible Looks of the Bronze Pillars from Encylopedia Biblia (1903)

The construction of the temple has already consumed vast resources of lumber, stone, and precious metal but now the work of Hiram utilizes an uncounted amount of bronze. The two massive bronze pillars named Jachin and Boaz[2], the bronze sea, and the ten stands and basins along with the other items necessary for the sacrificial work of the temple are massive. On the one hand they may illustrate the bringing together of the resources of the people to be committed to the devotion to the LORD the God of Israel. The surrounding of the construction of Solomon’s palace complex by the commitment of the resources to the temple may be intended to present Solomon’s devotion in a positive light. Yet, as Brueggemann points out the continual focus on bronze and gold in this final description of the construction may also lead to the commoditization of the temple where the focus becomes on the gold and costly material used in the construction of the building rather than on the worship and the covenantal fidelity the temple is to embody. (Brueggemann, 2000, p. 104)

The temple built by Solomon will occupy an important place in the theological imagination of the Jewish people. This is evident when one pays attention to the vision of the throne room of God in the vision of Ezekiel and compares it to the temple. The image of oxen, lions, and cherubim play an important role in this vision. It is interesting that the temple includes several images of oxen after the golden calf and the inclusion of these animal and angelic images in the temple seems to be in tension with the prohibition of images in the ten commandments. Yet, for the narrator of 1 Kings, even if they do include some warnings in the texts, the construction of the temple is a high point in the story of the people of Israel and the reign of Solomon. The dedication of three chapter of the book to the construction and dedication of the temple while most kings entire reigns will fill significantly less space is a testament to the importance in the imagination of the people as they remember their history.

[1] In 2 Chronicles 2:14 Hiram (Huram-abi) is the child of a Danite woman and a Tyrian man, both Kings and Chronicles move over the mixed parentage of Hiram without needing to explain it.

[2] Scholars disagree on the meaning of the names for the pillars but one suggestion is “in strength” (Boaz) and “established (Jachin) (Brueggemann, 2000, p. 98)

1 Kings 6 The Construction of Solomon’s Temple

The Temple by

1 Kings 6

1 In the four hundred eightieth year after the Israelites came out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign over Israel, in the month of Ziv, which is the second month, he began to build the house of the LORD. 2 The house that King Solomon built for the LORD was sixty cubits long, twenty cubits wide, and thirty cubits high. 3 The vestibule in front of the nave of the house was twenty cubits wide, across the width of the house. Its depth was ten cubits in front of the house. 4 For the house he made windows with recessed frames. 5 He also built a structure against the wall of the house, running around the walls of the house, both the nave and the inner sanctuary; and he made side chambers all around. 6 The lowest story was five cubits wide, the middle one was six cubits wide, and the third was seven cubits wide; for around the outside of the house he made offsets on the wall in order that the supporting beams should not be inserted into the walls of the house.

7 The house was built with stone finished at the quarry, so that neither hammer nor ax nor any tool of iron was heard in the temple while it was being built.

8 The entrance for the middle story was on the south side of the house: one went up by winding stairs to the middle story, and from the middle story to the third. 9 So he built the house, and finished it; he roofed the house with beams and planks of cedar. 10 He built the structure against the whole house, each story five cubits high, and it was joined to the house with timbers of cedar.

11 Now the word of the LORD came to Solomon, 12 “Concerning this house that you are building, if you will walk in my statutes, obey my ordinances, and keep all my commandments by walking in them, then I will establish my promise with you, which I made to your father David. 13 I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will not forsake my people Israel.”

14 So Solomon built the house, and finished it. 15 He lined the walls of the house on the inside with boards of cedar; from the floor of the house to the rafters of the ceiling, he covered them on the inside with wood; and he covered the floor of the house with boards of cypress. 16 He built twenty cubits of the rear of the house with boards of cedar from the floor to the rafters, and he built this within as an inner sanctuary, as the most holy place. 17 The house, that is, the nave in front of the inner sanctuary, was forty cubits long. 18 The cedar within the house had carvings of gourds and open flowers; all was cedar, no stone was seen. 19 The inner sanctuary he prepared in the innermost part of the house, to set there the ark of the covenant of the LORD. 20 The interior of the inner sanctuary was twenty cubits long, twenty cubits wide, and twenty cubits high; he overlaid it with pure gold. He also overlaid the altar with cedar. 21 Solomon overlaid the inside of the house with pure gold, then he drew chains of gold across, in front of the inner sanctuary, and overlaid it with gold. 22 Next he overlaid the whole house with gold, in order that the whole house might be perfect; even the whole altar that belonged to the inner sanctuary he overlaid with gold.

23 In the inner sanctuary he made two cherubim of olivewood, each ten cubits high. 24 Five cubits was the length of one wing of the cherub, and five cubits the length of the other wing of the cherub; it was ten cubits from the tip of one wing to the tip of the other. 25 The other cherub also measured ten cubits; both cherubim had the same measure and the same form. 26 The height of one cherub was ten cubits, and so was that of the other cherub. 27 He put the cherubim in the innermost part of the house; the wings of the cherubim were spread out so that a wing of one was touching the one wall, and a wing of the other cherub was touching the other wall; their other wings toward the center of the house were touching wing to wing. 28 He also overlaid the cherubim with gold.

29 He carved the walls of the house all around about with carved engravings of cherubim, palm trees, and open flowers, in the inner and outer rooms. 30 The floor of the house he overlaid with gold, in the inner and outer rooms.

31 For the entrance to the inner sanctuary he made doors of olivewood; the lintel and the doorposts were five-sided. 32 He covered the two doors of olivewood with carvings of cherubim, palm trees, and open flowers; he overlaid them with gold, and spread gold on the cherubim and on the palm trees.

33 So also he made for the entrance to the nave doorposts of olivewood, four-sided each, 34 and two doors of cypress wood; the two leaves of the one door were folding, and the two leaves of the other door were folding. 35 He carved cherubim, palm trees, and open flowers, overlaying them with gold evenly applied upon the carved work. 36 He built the inner court with three courses of dressed stone to one course of cedar beams.

37 In the fourth year the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid, in the month of Ziv. 38 In the eleventh year, in the month of Bul, which is the eighth month, the house was finished in all its parts, and according to all its specifications. He was seven years in building it.

The construction of the temple of Solomon in Jerusalem is a central event in the narration of the story of Israel. For the era this temple is a massive building roughly one hundred five feet long, thirty feet wide and forty-five feet tall. It is twice the length and breadth of the tabernacle and three times as tall with ten times the internal space which is correspondingly lit by ten menorahs. (Israel, 2013, pp. 177-179) It is a project of impressive scope and a phenomenal investment of resources for this relatively young and small monarchy, and it is a project which will be a central part of Jerusalem for around four hundred years.

Theologically the completion of the temple is viewed as a completion of the promises God made to the people when they left Egypt. Calendars are important in Hebrew thought and the four hundred eighty years is significant as the multiple of twelve and forty. Twelve is of course the number of tribes of Israel while forty is often a number of completion (forty days and forty nights of rain, forty years in the wilderness) and forty years is often viewed as the length of a generation in the bible. Now twelve generations later the nation has reached its adulthood and is building a permanent home for its God in the promised land.

The act of constructing the temple concentrates the resources of the nation into this great project, and yet despite the grandeur of the temple God’s presence within this space is contingent upon obedience to the statutes, ordinances, and commandments of God. The pious act of constructing the temple and offering sacrifices is never sufficient to replace covenant obedience to the God of Israel. Like the tabernacle it is to be a place where God can dwell among God’s people, but God’s presence and blessing require fidelity.

The design and construction of the temple is similar to other religious sites excavated in the Middle East, and it is likely that Solomon uses the worship sites of other nations as a guide for the construction of the temple in Jerusalem. Especially with craftsmen sent from Tyre, it is likely that lessons learned in construction of other sites are applied to this project. As a project showing Solomon’s devotion to the LORD, it likely uses the best of design and knowledge to build a structure that will endure.

Evaluating the construction of the temple often depends upon the perspective one examines it from. For much of the history of both Judaism and Christianity holy spaces were constructed to bring a small piece of heaven to earth. If one enters a Catholic cathedral you see the evidence of the very best resources of the people being brought together to create a beautiful space where God’s presence might be encountered in the beauty of the space. The Protestant Reformation with its democratization of space often constructed worship sites that were much more austere and functional rather than beautiful and awe inspiring. The lavish use of gold and cedar in the temple of Jerusalem is designed to be an awe-inspiring space which reflects its place as a place where God’s name can dwell.

First Kings views the construction of the temple as a high point in the reign of Solomon and of the people of Israel in general. There is the subtle critique of placing too much focus on the temple at the expense of covenant fidelity as well as a subtle questioning of the deal that Solomon makes to acquire the resources for the temple in the previous chapter. Yet, the completion of the temple in all its majesty is viewed as an accomplishment for both Solomon and the people. This massive temple with its ornate doors, gold plated walls, and massive gold covered cherubim is a place where God can be present among the people. Its completion at the end of seven years (also a theologically significant number) and its overall evaluation of being perfect is representative the building’s calling to be a place where God’s presence can be encountered.

Someone Else’s Fortune


As the slip of paper emerges from the cracked cookie
My eyes focus on words that can only be
Someone else’s fortune

The words may have fitted any number of the possible lives I’ve grieved
Sure, they are supposed to be generic enough to fit many lives
But the particularity of my experiences transgresses the boundaries
Of Someone else’s fortune

This simple sentence of a throw away piece of paper
Becomes a mental pathway to the present that never was to be
To dreams stillborn and paths that receded into the past
An invitation to rumination upon hopes I thought long buried
Of the someone else that those paths would have created
If this wasn’t someone else’s fortune, but mine

Review of the Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler

Time Magazine Top 100 Novels

Book 13: The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler

This is a series of reflections reading through Time Magazine’s top 100 novels as selected by Lev Grossman and Richard Lacayo published since 1923 (when Time magazine was founded). For me this is an attempt to broaden my exposure to authors I may not encounter otherwise, especially as a person who was not a liberal arts major in college. Time’s list is alphabetical, so I decided to read through in a random order, and I plan to write a short reflection on each novel.

The Big Sleep is the first novel featuring the iconic private eye, Philip Marlowe. This is one of the books that would be instrumental in the evolution of the private eye character in the noir films with dark characters. Chandler’s writing style immediately evokes the feeling of watching a classical private eye or crime movie and he takes us to the darker side of Hollywood in the 1930s. Philip Marlowe is the intelligent but hardnosed investigator asked to investigate an attempt to extort the elderly patriarch of the family. The investigation quickly walks into the murky world of pornography, gambling and drinking (in the immediate aftermath of prohibition), and murder.

The book’s style seems tailor made to become the movie it would be made into multiple times. Raymond Chandler does a good job of balancing giving enough information to show the reader the scene in their mind without becoming bogged down. It is a quick paced read but the characters seem somewhat two dimensional. Philip Marlowe is the tough guy investigator who is intelligent but has no emotional depth, and the other characters are given just enough story to fit their place in the plot. It is very different from many of the other books in the Time Magazine top 100 list, but it probably finds its place here to represent the noir investigative genre that has continued to exercise popularity. It is an invitation to the smoke-filled world of tough guys who drink all the time and walk on the dark side of 1930s Hollywood.