1 Kings 7 Study Notes
7:1 The word palace complex accurately translates the Hebrew word for “house.” Solomon took thirteen years to build his palace complex in contrast with seven years for building the Lord’s house. This difference in time does not necessarily indicate that Solomon cared more for his house than for the Lord’s house. The shorter time spent on the Lord’s house could reflect a piously motivated rush and intensity in building. Conversely, the longer time spent on the palace complex may be explained by its greater complexity. It had to meet the many types of needs for administering an empire.
|Hebrew pronunciation||[yah KAR]|
|Uses in 1 Kings||7|
|Uses in the OT||36|
|Focus passage||1 Kings 7:9-11|
This root in other languages implies what is valuable, honored, or heavy. The word family occurs mostly in later Scripture. Yaqar describes costly building stones (1Kg 5:17) or precious gemstones (2Sm 12:30). Zion’s people (Lm 4:2) and wisdom (Pr 3:15) are precious. God’s faithful love is priceless (Ps 36:7). The death of the Lord’s faithful ones is valuable in his sight (Ps 116:15). Yakar indicates the precious life (Pr 6:26), or God’s word as rare (1Sm 3:1). The adjective functions nominally as glory of pastures (Ps 37:20), noble words (Jr 15:19), or honored women (Ps 45:9). The moon moves in splendor (Jb 31:26). Yakar indicates that folly outweighs wisdom (Ec 10:1). Yekar (17x) means honor in Esther (Est 8:16), and elsewhere valuables (Jr 20:5), treasure (Jb 28:10), and price (Zch 11:13). The verb yakar (11x) denotes be well known (1Sm 18:30), precious (2Kg 1:14), scarce, rare (Is 13:12), or valued (Zch 11:13).
7:2-4 If v. 8 describes Solomon’s personal dwelling, where he would “live” (or “sit,” v. 8), then these verses probably describe a large building dedicated to public business. The structure described for the House of the Forest of Lebanon is difficult for modern readers to visualize. Ancient Hebrew readers would likely understand it better given their familiarity with Hebrew idioms and terms, plus many early readers would have had a visual memory of the structure, which lessened the need for the author to describe it in a way that could easily be visualized. Our understanding is further complicated by the possibility that the Israelites used the same Hebrew word for more than one foreign architectural feature (see notes at vv. 5, 6).
Understanding this description involves uniting the four rows of pillars that held up the central portion of the building (v. 2) with the three rows of pillars associated with three tiers of roof (vv. 3-4). If modeled after Egyptian architecture, these windows were placed in the roof where a change in ceiling height permitted the placing of windows between the columns and between the two different roof levels. The terminology for these windows is not well understood. The spaces between the two elevations and between the columns of the row left room for a row of windows. The whole row of columns left spaces for a tier of windows.
The three rows of pillars totaling forty-five pillars, fifteen per row, would fit in well with the three rows of window frames, arranged in three tiers. Since the building would normally be symmetrical, with two sets of three tiers facing each other, we may be discussing six tiers of facing windows, three on each side of the high central portion of the king’s house. These windows then would be associated with six rows of columns, three on each side of the high central portion. Each tier of windows occupied the elevation between two roof levels of different height. The structures related above still leave several features that are not clearly defined. It is possible that the word chambers refers not to rooms above these pillars but to the beams on which the actual roof panels rested.
7:5 This verse seems to describe either three sets of ground level doors that faced each other across the width of the building or three matching sets across the front of the building. It is possible that the window openings in the doors were in tiers.
7:6 This verse uses the Hebrew word translated portico (Hb ’ulam) with two different meanings. The first portico, translated hall of pillars, could be another covered court with columns (on portico, see note at 6:3). The second is sometimes translated as a “pilastered wall” with a roof or overhang. The CSB communicates roughly the same idea by canopy with pillars. This context clearly indicates that the portico, whatever it was, was covered and may have had pillars.
7:7 The Hall of the Throne was another columned entrance or portico. The contextual association with the House of the Forest of Lebanon (see note at vv. 2-4) hints that this hall might have been the public entrance of the larger building, an appropriate place for the throne where people sought judgment.
7:8 The palace in which Solomon would live also was another roofed structure with columns and walls paneled with cedar. Solomon’s personal dwelling and the house . . . for Pharaoh’s daughter were the same type of structure.
7:9-11 Since the inner, columnar supports for the roofs have been described, this verse describes the outer walls and perhaps some interior walls of these buildings. These walls were made of fine stones finished to measure—sawed with saws—on the exposed surfaces. This probably meant sawed to a close approximate shape and then finished smooth by some polishing technique (see note at 6:7). Cedar wood was also used on some upper parts of the walls.
7:12 On the construction of the courtyard of the Lord’s temple, see note at 6:36.
7:13-14 For a devout follower of the Lord, importing the Phoenician craftsman named Hiram (not to be confused with King Hiram) was more acceptable since his mother was Hebrew. Importing Phoenician artists was a regular practice in the ancient world.
7:15-22 The pillars were 27 feet high, with capitals over 7 feet high, for a total of more than 34 feet. Latticework and ovoid art covered the structure of the capitals and their ornaments. The shape of the capitals, both for these pillars and for the pillars of the portico, was like an open lily blossom. Some have given these pillars a cosmic significance by translating their names as “he established/will establish/establishes [from Jachin] in strength [from Boaz].” This could be more significant if one analyzes the Lord’s house itself as a cosmic symbol of the universe, as some have done (John H. Walton, The Lost World of Genesis One). On the other hand, the “pillar” mentioned in 2Kg 11:14 and 23:3 could indicate that the Davidic dynasty, rather than the Lord’s house or universe, was established in strength.
7:23-26 A huge bronze vessel, containing about eleven thousand gallons, served as the main basin for water used for cleansing. Second Ch 4:6 indicates that this larger reservoir was allotted to priestly cleansing, which might imply that the bronze water carts (1Kg 7:27) were allotted to the Levites. We are not sure what shape the ornamental gourds represented since gourds come in many shapes. Since a cylindrical shape, in contrast to a conical shape, is needed for the stated capacity of the reservoir, the description, fashioned like . . . a lily blossom, could refer to only the rim of the reservoir.
7:27-29 The following is one possible understanding of the structure of the bronze water carts: They were essentially boxes on wheels for mobility. Each of the four sides had two square panels (frames) with carvings. There were carved cross-pieces both above and below the panels/frames. Above the top crosspieces were attached supports (pedestal), presumably for the basin.
7:30 There were axles with two wheels under each end of each cart.
7:31-37 The simplest understanding of v. 31 is that it describes an internal circular structure that, together with the pedestals and the four corner supports, supported a bronze basin (v. 38) and held it in place. Real chariot wheels were made of wood.
7:38 Then the bronze basins were set into the water carts. If their shape were more like a cylinder, a depth of slightly more than one foot would give a capacity of roughly 220 gallons. A more conical lily shape would demand a greater depth, possibly as much as three feet. Either could still fit into the cart with the water level about four and one-half feet above the ground.
7:39 The right side in descriptions of the Lord’s temple use is to the south, as if one is standing in the door looking out to the east.
7:40-46 These were generally the new items that had to be made anew for a new context.
7:47 Since bronze was a valuable commodity, it is an indication of Solomon’s wealth that he did not have to keep track of the amount of bronze used.
7:48-51 When these implements were moved into the Lord’s temple, the operation was finished.