2 Chronicles 4 COMMENTARY (Pulpit)

2 Chronicles 4
Pulpit Commentary
Moreover he made an altar of brass, twenty cubits the length thereof, and twenty cubits the breadth thereof, and ten cubits the height thereof.
Verse 1. - An altar of brass. This in worthier material superseded the temporary altar of the tabernacle (Exodus 27:1, 2), made of shittim wood, and its dimensions five cubits long and broad and three cubits high. Large as was the present altar of brass as compared with the altar that preceded, it fell far short of the requirements of the grand day of dedication (1 Kings 8:64). No statement of the making of this altar occurs in the parallel. The place of it would be between vers. 22 and 23 of 1 Kings 7. But that Solomon made it is stated in 1 Kings 9:25, and other references to its presence are found in 1 Kings 8:22, 54, 64, etc. The position given to the altar is referred to alike in 1 Kings 8:22 and 2 Chronicles 6:12, 13, as in the court of the temple. It may be well to note that the altar, sacrifice, comes first, and is first spoken of.
Also he made a molten sea of ten cubits from brim to brim, round in compass, and five cubits the height thereof; and a line of thirty cubits did compass it round about.
Verse 2. - A molten sea. The Hebrew of this verse and of 1 Kings 7:23 are facsimiles of one author, except that here קָו stands, where the parallel shows קוה, probably the fruit merely of some error in transcription. Verses like these point not to the derivation of Chronicles from Kings, but rather of both from some older common source. This sea of brass superseded the laver of the tabernacle (Exodus 30:18, 28; Exodus 31:9; Exodus 35:16; Exodus 39:39). It was called a sea on account of its size. We are told in 1 Chronicles 18:8 whence David had drawn the supplies of metal necessary for this work. The size of the diameter measured from upper rim to rim (ten cubits) harmonizes, of course, to all practical purposes, with that of the circumference (thirty cubits); it would assist questions connected with the contents of this large vessel, however, if we had been told whether the circumference were measured at the rim, or, as the form of language here used might slightly favour, round the girth. (For these questions, see ver. 5 below.) This sea for the washing of the priests significantly follows the altar. Beside the general suggestion of the need of purification or sanctification, it here reminds of the fact that the earthly priest and high priest must need the purification, which their great Antitype would not need.
And under it was the similitude of oxen, which did compass it round about: ten in a cubit, compassing the sea round about. Two rows of oxen were cast, when it was cast.
Verse 3. - The similitude of oxen. The parallel gives simply "knops" (i.e. flower-buds) in the room of this expression, and no word "similitude" at all, the characters spelling the word for "knops" being פְּקָעִים, and those for "oxen" being בְּקָרִים. The presence of the word "similitude" strongly suggests that the circles of decoration under description showed the likenesses of oxen, not necessarily (as Patrick) "stamped" on the so-called knops, but possibly constituting them. For the ambiguous under it of our present verse the parallel says with definiteness, "under the brim of it." There is intelligibility, at all events, in the ornamentation being of these miniature oxen, presumably three hundred in the circle of the thirty cubits. The symbolism would harmonize with that which dictated the superposition of the enormous vase on twelve probably life-size oxen. There is a general preference, however, accorded to the opinion that the present text has probably been the result of some copyist's corruption, and that the text of the parallel should be followed.
It stood upon twelve oxen, three looking toward the north, and three looking toward the west, and three looking toward the south, and three looking toward the east: and the sea was set above upon them, and all their hinder parts were inward.
Verse 4. - The words of the Hebrew text of this verse and the parallel (1 Kings 7:25) are facsimiles.
And the thickness of it was an handbreadth, and the brim of it like the work of the brim of a cup, with flowers of lilies; and it received and held three thousand baths.
Verse 5. - An handbreadth. Not זֶרֶת, "a span" (nevertheless tabled by Conder, 'Handbook to the Bible,' 2nd edit., p. 79, as a handbreadth, and put at eight digits, two palms, or 5.33 inches), but טֶפַח, "the palm of the open hand," the breadth of the four fingers, which Thenius puts at 3.1752 inches, but Conder's table at 2.66 inches. It received and held should be translated, it was able to hold. Three thousand baths. The parallel has two thousand baths, and this latter is the likelier reading. It is, however, conceivable that the statement of Kings may purport to give the quantity of water used, and that of Chronicles the quantity which the vessel at its fullest could accommodate. As to the real capacity of the bath, we are hopelessly at sea. Josephus's estimate of it is about eight gallons and a half, that of the rabbinists about four gallons and a half (see Smith's 'Dictionary of the Bible,' 3:1742), and Conder, in the 'Handbook to the Bible,' p. 80, a fractional quantity above six gallons. The largest bowls on the Assyrian bas-reliefs, the silver bowl of Croesus, and the bronze bowl in Scythia (Herodotus, 1:51; 4:81), did not, under the lowest estimate of the bath, hold as much as one-half of the contents of this vast sea of brass of Solomon. The use of this vessel was, as we read in the next verse, for the priests to wash in, or, as some would read, to wash at (Exodus 30:18-20).
He made also ten lavers, and put five on the right hand, and five on the left, to wash in them: such things as they offered for the burnt offering they washed in them; but the sea was for the priests to wash in.
Verse 6. - This verse, with vers. 14, 15, are all here that represent the lengthy account of bases rather than layers, occupying in the parallel vers. 27-39 of 1 Kings 7, which, however, omits to state the use of either sea or layers.
And he made ten candlesticks of gold according to their form, and set them in the temple, five on the right hand, and five on the left.
Verse 7. - Ten candlesticks of gold. The only allusion to these in the parallel is found later on in part of the forty-ninth verse of 1 Kings 7. According to their form. This expression, though so vague, might point to the fact that the form of the old candlestick of the tabernacle was adhered to (Exodus 25:31). But considering the recurrence of the same words (ver. 20), there can be no doubt that the phrase is identical in its meaning with the use found in such passages as Leviticus 5:10; Leviticus 9:16, and means "according to the prescribed ordinance,"
He made also ten tables, and placed them in the temple, five on the right side, and five on the left. And he made an hundred basons of gold.
Verse 8. - Ten tables. These tables also (the use of which is given in ver. 19) are not mentioned, so far as their making is concerned, in the parallel, except in its summary, ver. 48 (cf. 1 Kings 7.), where furthermore only one table, called "the table" (Exodus 25:23), is specified, with which agrees our 2 Chronicles 29:18. It is hard to explain this variation of statement. It is at least an arbitrary and forced explanation to suppose that ten tables constituted the furniture in question, while only one was used at a time. Keil and Bertheau think that the analogy of the ten candlesticks points to the existence of ten tables. The question, however, is, where is the call for, or where are the indications of any analogy? An hundred basins of gold. The Hebrew word employed here, and translated "basins," is מִזְרְקֵי, as also vers. 11, 22, infra; and 1 Kings 7:40, 45, 50; Exodus 27:3; Exodus 38:3; Numbers 4:14; but it is represented as well by the English translation "bowls" in 1 Chronicles 28:17; 2 Kings 25:15; Numbers 7:13, 19, etc. The "pots," however, of our vers. 11, 16 has for its Hebrew הַסִּירות. It were well if, in names such as these, at any rate, an absolute uniformity of version were observed in the translation, for the benefit of the English reader, to say nothing of the saving of wasted time for the student and scholar. These basins, or bowls, were to receive and hold the blood of the slain victims, about to be sprinkled for purification (see Exodus 24:6-8, where the word אַגָּן is used; Exodus 29:12, 10, 20, 21; Leviticus 1:5, and passion; Hebrews 9:18-20; see also Exodus 38:3; Numbers 4:14,) The Hebrew word מִזְרָק, whether appearing in our version as" basin"' or "bowl," occurs thirty-two times, sixteen in association exactly similar with the present (viz. Exodus 27:3; Exodus 38:3; Numbers 4:14; 1 Kings 7:40, 45, 50; 2 Kings 12:13; 2 Kings 25:15; 1 Chronicles 28:17; 2 Chronicles 4:8, 11, 22; Nehemiah 7:70; Jeremiah 52:18, 19; Zechariah 14:20), fourteen as silver bowls in the time of the tabernacle for the meat offering of "fine flour mingled with oil" (vie. Numbers 7:13, 19, 25, 31, 37, 43, 49, 55, 61, 67, 73, 79, 84, 85), and the remaining two in an entirely general application (Amos 6:6; Zechariah 9:15). It is evident, therefore, that the מִזְרָק was not the only vessel used for holding the blood of purification, nor was it exclusively reserved to this use.
Furthermore he made the court of the priests, and the great court, and doors for the court, and overlaid the doors of them with brass.
Verse 9. - The court of the priests (comp. 1 Kings 6:36, where this court is denominated the inner court, and any other court an outer one, i.e. the great court only implicated thereby). The construction of this court of the priests, withheld here, given there, leaves it ambiguous whether the "three rows of hewed stones and one row of cedar beams "intends a description of fence, as the Septuagint seems to have taken it, or of a higher floor with which the part in question was dignified. The citation Jeremiah 36:10, though probably pointing to this same court, can scarcely be adduced as any support of J. D. Michaelis' suggestion of this latter, as its עֶלְיון (translated "higher") does not really carry the idea of the comparative degree at all. For once that it is so translated (and even then probably incorrectly), there are twenty occurrences of it as the superlative excellentiae. The introduction just here of any statement of these courts at all, which seems at first inopportune, is probably accounted for by the desire to speak in this connection of their doors and the brass overlaying of them (1 Kings 7:12; 2 Kings 23:12; 2 Chronicles 20:5; Ezekiel 40:28; Condor's 'Handbook to the Bible,' p. 370). It is worthy of note that the word employed in our text, as also 2 Chronicles 6:13, is not the familiar word חַצֵר of all previous similar occasions, but עֲזרָהַ, a word of the later Hebrew, occurring also several times in Ezekiel, though not in exactly the same sense, and the elementary signification of the verb-root of which is "to gird," or "surround."
And he set the sea on the right side of the east end, over against the south.
Verse 10. - The right side of the east end, over against the south (so also 1 Kings 7:39; comp. Exodus 30:18). The sea found its position, therefore, in the place of the tabernacle laver of old, between altar of brass and porch. It must be remembered that the entrance was east, but it was counted to a person standing with the back to the tabernacle or temple, as though he were, in fact, going out, not entering in, the sacred enclosure; therefore on the right side will be southward, as written in this verse.
And Huram made the pots, and the shovels, and the basons. And Huram finished the work that he was to make for king Solomon for the house of God;
Verse 11. - The pots. As stated above, the Hebrew word is הַסִּירות. It occurs in the Old Testament twenty-seven times; it is translated in our Authorized Version "pans" once and "caldrons" four times. By a manifest copyist's error, the parallel (1 Kings 7:35) has כִירות, "layers," by the use of caph for samech. The use of the סִיר was to boil the peace offerings, though some say they were hods in which to carry away the ashes; and it certainly is remarkable that it is no one of the words employed in 1 Samuel 2:14. In addition to these twenty-seven times, it occurs also four times in Ecclesiastes, Isaiah, Hosed, Nahum, with the meaning of "thorns," and once in Amos it is translated "fish-hooks." The passage in Ecclesiastes (Ecclesiastes 7:6) is additionally remarkable, in the fact that the root occurs twice in the same sentence in its different significations, e.g. "the crackling of thorns under a pot." The shovels. The Hebrew word is הַיָעִים. This word occurs in the Old Testament nine times - in Exodus, Numbers, Kings, Chronicles, and Jeremiah. The use of the shovel was to remove the ashes. The basins should very probably read flesh-hooks.
To wit, the two pillars, and the pommels, and the chapiters which were on the top of the two pillars, and the two wreaths to cover the two pommels of the chapiters which were on the top of the pillars;
Verse 12. - The pommels. The Hebrew word is גֻלֹת, translated in the parallel "bowls." The word occurs in the Old Testament twelve times, and is translated six times (in Judges and Joshua)" springs," four times "bowls," and twice "pommels." It was an architectural ornament to the capital, in shape like a ball. The chapiters. The Hebrew word is כֹּתֶרֶת, occurring twenty-three times or more, and always translated thus; in modern architecture, the head or capital of the pillar. The two wreaths. The word is כֹּתֶרֶת, occurring fifteen times, and translated seven times "net-work," five times "wreath," or "wreathen-work," once a "snare," once "checker-work," and once a "lattice." These wreaths were of some lace pattern plaiting and festoons of fancy chain-work. The fuller expression of them is found in 1 Kings 7:17, though in description not more distinct, certainly - "nets of checker-work, and wreaths of chain-work."
And four hundred pomegranates on the two wreaths; two rows of pomegranates on each wreath, to cover the two pommels of the chapiters which were upon the pillars.
Verse 13. - Four hundred pomegranates. This number of pomegranates substantially agrees with the parallel (1 Kings 7:20), There were two hundred of them on each wreath that encircled the chapiter. The pomegranate was a favourite ornament in work as well as in more solid architectural forms (Exodus 28:33, 34). The popularity of the fruit as food (Numbers 13:23; Numbers 20:5; Deuteronomy 8:8; Joshua 15:32; Joshua 21:25), its simple beauty to the eye (Song of Solomon 4:3, 13), and its welcome homeliness, will quite account for this beside any symbolic significance that may have become attached to it. The description of the pomegranate as a fruit may be found in any Bible dictionary, but especially in Tristram's 'Natural History of the Bible.'
He made also bases, and lavers made he upon the bases;
Verse 14. - Bases. The first mention of these in Chronicles, on which so much is said in the parallel (1 Kings 7:27-39). The Hebrew word is מְכונָה, occurring eighteen times in Kings, twice in Chronicles, once in Ezra, and three times in Jeremiah. These bases were, as may be learnt more fully in the parallel, pedestals of brass four cubits square by three and a half high, supported by wheels a cubit and a half in diameter. The pedestals were richly decorated with mouldings, and with the similitudes of lions, oxen, and cherubim, and with other subordinate ornamental work, and were designed to bear the layers, the use of which is given in ver. 6. Vers. 6-16 in our chapter strongly suggest, in their repetitiousness, the writer's resort to different sources and authorities for his matter.
One sea, and twelve oxen under it.
The pots also, and the shovels, and the fleshhooks, and all their instruments, did Huram his father make to king Solomon for the house of the LORD of bright brass.
Verse 16. - Flesh-hooks. Hebrew, מִזְלָגוח, occurring twice in Exodus (Exodus 27:3; Exodus 38:3), once in Numbers, and twice in Chronicles. Another form of the same root, מַזְלֵג occurs twice in Samuel, in the same sense of "flesh-hook" (1 Samuel 2:13, 14), where also its use is made dramatically plain. Huram his father; i.e. his chief artist.
In the plain of Jordan did the king cast them, in the clay ground between Succoth and Zeredathah.
Verse 17. - In the plain... in the clay; i.e. in the Ciccar (or round, equivalent to the New Testament "region round about ") of Jordan, a distinctive designation of the Jordan valley (Conder's Handbook to the Bible,' p. 213). The region here intended lies east of the river, in what became the division of Gad. Succoth lay a little to the north of the river Jabbok, which flows almost east to west into the Jordan. Zeredathah; i.q. Zarthan of 1 Kings 7:46; and this latter is in the Hebrew also the same in characters and all with the Zaretan of Joshua 3:16. Very possibly the place is the same as Zererath (Judges 7:22). The exact sites of these places are not known, though the range within which they all lay is clear (see Grove's article in Smith's 'Bible Dictionary,' 3:1817). The clay ground; that is," the clay of the ground "(Hebrew). The radical idea of the word here translated "clay" is "thickness," which should not be rendered, as in margin, "thicknesses." The word (עָב) occurs in all thirty-five times, and is rendered a large proportion of these times "clouds" or "thick clouds" (e.g. Exodus 19:9), clouds being presumably thicknesses in air; but if the subject-matter in question be in wood, or growing timber, or the ground, the word is rendered conformably "thick planks" (1 Kings 7:6; Ezekiel 41:25, 26), or "thickets" (Jeremiah 4:29), or "clay" (as here), to distinguish from other lighter or more friable soil.
Thus Solomon made all these vessels in great abundance: for the weight of the brass could not be found out.
And Solomon made all the vessels that were for the house of God, the golden altar also, and the tables whereon the shewbread was set;
Moreover the candlesticks with their lamps, that they should burn after the manner before the oracle, of pure gold;
Verse 20. - Candlesticks... lamps, that they should burn after the manner before the oracle. Ten candlesticks, as we learn here and in ver. 7, supersede in Solomon's temple the one candlestick, with its central shaft lamp, and the three branch lamps on either side of Moses and the tabernacle (Exodus 25:31-37; Exodus 37:17-24; Leviticus 24:4; Josephus, 'Ant.,' 3:06. § 6, 7; Maimonides [1135-1205], "De temple, vasis sanctuarii," etc.). This single candlestick was restored in Zerubbabel's temple. The present ten candlesticks, or strictly candelabra, of Solomon are said at one time to have been placed in a row like a rail before the veil, and connected with a chain under which the high priest went on the Day of Atonement into the inner sanctuary. The removal of these candelabra is recorded Jeremiah 52:19. The expression, "after the manner," points to the various and somewhat minute regulation for the lighting, trimming, and keeping alight of the lamps, all or some, of the candelabra (Exodus 27:19-21; Leviticus 24:1-3). The use of the word for "lamp" (נֵר) in some passages (1 Samuel 3:3; 2 Samuel 21:17; Proverbs 13:9; Proverbs 20:27; Psalm 18:29)suggests not the part as used for the whole in speaking of the candelabrum, but more probably that the perpetual burning was not of all seven lamps, but of one, the central shaft.
And the flowers, and the lamps, and the tongs, made he of gold, and that perfect gold;
Verse 21. - The flowers; Hebrew, פֶרַה, occurring sixteen times, of which number it is translated" flowers "thirteen times, "buds" twice, and "blossom" once. The flower was a part of the ornamentation of the branches of the candelabrum (Exodus 25:31, 33). The tongs; Hebrew, מֶלְקָחַיִם, occurring six times, of which number it is translated five times "tongs," but once "snuffers" (Exodus 37:23). This latter is the correcter translation, perhaps. The instrument, at any rate, was to trim the lamp-wicks (Exodus 25:38).
And the snuffers, and the basons, and the spoons, and the censers, of pure gold: and the entry of the house, the inner doors thereof for the most holy place, and the doors of the house of the temple, were of gold.
Verse 22. - The snuffers; Hebrew, מְזַמְרות, occurring five times, and always translated "snuffers." A slightly different form of the word is translated "pruning-hooks "four times in the Prophets Isaiah, Joel, Micah. No doubt these snuffers were something different from the tongs of the preceding verse; the use of one may have been rather to cut the wicks, and the other to trim them. The spoons; Hebrew, כַפ. This is the word used so often for the "hand," but the essential idea of which is the hollow of either hand or foot or other thing, and among other things of a spoon shape. The word is used of the frankincense-cups (Numbers 7:14, 20, 26) brought to the dedication of the tabernacle by the several princes. The censers; Hebrew, מַחְתּות. These were "snuff-dishes" (Exodus 25:38; Exodus 37:23; Numbers 4:9). The entry of the house; Hebrew, פֶּתַח. Some think this word refers to the door-frames, as distinct from the door-leaves or doors themselves. But the parallel (1 Kings 7:50) gives us what is translated as "hinges" (Hebrew, פות), a word that occurs only here in any such sense, as presumably (Gesenius, ' Lexicon ') "the hollowed part of a hinge," and Isaiah 3:17 for the pudenda muliebria. The mistaken transcribing of a kheth for a tau will amply account for the difference.

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