2. KING SOLOMON BLESSES HIS PEOPLE AND HIS GOD
(2 Chronicles 6:1-11.) (Comp. 1 Kings 8:12-21.)
This section also is in verbal agreement with the parallel account, with a few slight exceptions.
(1) The thick darkness.—‘Araphel, which is explained as caligo nubium, “gloom of clouds.” (See Exodus 20:21; Deuteronomy 4:11; Psalm 18:9. Comp. the Greek, ὅρφνη.) The Targum on 1 Kings 8:12 reads Jerusalem, but this is probably a gloss.
Habitation.—Zĕbûl, a poetic word, occurring only five times. (Comp. Habakkuk 3:11.)
And a place.—And, added here, weakens the force of the poetic parallelism.
A place for thy dwelling.—(Exodus 15:17) another poetic expression.
For ever.—(Through) ages. So only in this account and Psalm 61:5.
Turned.—Turned round (1 Chronicles 10:14).
Neither chose I any man to be a ruler (nāgîd) over my people Israel.—Neither this sentence nor the following is found in the parallel passage, where the second half of 2 Chronicles 6:6 forms the last clause of the preceding verse (1 Kings 8:16). The Syriac and Arabic here follow Kings as often. There is nothing in the language against the supposition that the words originally formed part of the older text.
Neither chose I any man.—Saul was originally the people’s, not God’s, choice. Holy Scripture nowhere teaches that the vox populi is identical with the vox Dei. (See 1 Samuel 8:5, and Bishop Wordsworth’s Note.)
But thy son.—Heb., for thy son; so LXX.; Kings, “but;” and so some MSS. and the Syriac, Vulg., and Arabic here. Otherwise the whole verse is as in Kings.
Set.—Seated. (No variant from Kings.)
Wherein is the covenant.—The two tables of the Law. (See 2 Chronicles 5:10.)
(Comp. 1 Kings 8:22-53.)
The whole is given as in Kings, save that one verse (2 Chronicles 6:13) is added, and the peroration (2 Chronicles 6:40-42) is quite different.
(12) Stood.—Took his place. It is not implied that he remained standing. (Comp. 1 Samuel 17:51; 2 Chronicles 6:3, supr.)
Spread forth his hands.—Towards heaven (Kings). Syriac and Arabic have both.
Scaffold.—Literally, pan (kîyôr; see 2 Chronicles 4:6). The “scaffold” looked like a “laver” turned upside down, and was doubtless hollow underneath. (Comp. Nehemiah 9:4 for an analogous structure.)
Kneeled down upon his knees, and spread forth his hands.—An attitude of prayer which may be seen figured upon the monuments of ancient Egypt.
Toward heaven (ha-shāmā́y’māh).—The chronicler has used the exact form for the less precise hashāmā́ayim of 1 Kings 8:22.
Which keepest covenant and shewest mercy.—Literally, keeping the covenant and the mercy; i.e., the covenanted mercy. (Comp. Isaiah 55:3.)
With thy servant.—Heb., for; so in 2 Chronicles 6:16. (The verse is word for word as in Kings.)
And spakest with thy mouth. . . .—2 Chronicles 6:4.
Keep that which thou hast promised
There shall not fail thee.—See margin. Authorised Version follows LXX., Οὐκ ἐκλείψει σοι; and Vulg., “non deficiet ex te.”
To sit.—Heb., sitting; LXX., καθήμενος.
Yet so that.—Only if; assigning a single condition; provided that. . . . LXX., πλὴν ἐὰν φυλάξωσιν; Vulg., “ita tamen si custodierint.”
Take heed to.—Heb., keep (2 Chronicles 6:14-16).
In my law.—The only variant from 1 Kings 8:25. The chronicler has avoided a seeming tautology, as elsewhere. Syriac, “before me in the Law.”
Thy word.—Or promise (2 Chronicles 6:10; 2 Chronicles 6:15, supr.)
Unto thy servant David.—Heb., to thy servant, to David. Kings, “to thy servant David my father.” So Syriac here.
With men.—Not in Kings. Syriac, “with his people, Israel;” Arabic, “with his people.” (Comp. Revelation 21:3.)
Before thee.—Kings adds, “to-day.” So LXX., Syriac, Arabic here.
Prayeth.—Shall pray, scil., at any time.
Toward this place.—The margin is wrong, though supported by the Syriac, Arabic, and Vulg. The Temple of Jerusalem was, and is, the Kebla of the Jew. (Comp. Daniel 6:10, and 2 Chronicles 6:34 infr., which is a kind of paraphrase of this expression.)
Hear thou from thy dwelling place, even from heaven.—Yea thou—thou shalt hear from the place of thy dwelling, from the heavens. For “from,” in both places, Kings has “unto,” an unusual pregnant construction, which is probably original.
And an oath be laid upon him.—And he (i.e., his neighbour or, indefinitely, people) lay an oath upon him. (See Exodus 22:11.)
And the oath come before thine altar.—And he (the offender) enter upon an oath before thine altar. (Comp. Ezekiel 17:13.) But all the versions have, “and he come, and swear before thine altar,” a difference which involves merely the prefixing of one letter (w) to the Hebrew word rendered “oath.”
By requiting the wicked.—So as to requite a wicked man. Kings, “so as to find guilty” (also the Syriac here). The latter is probably original. “To find guilty a guilty man” corresponds to “justifying a just one,” in the next clause.
By justifying.—So as to justify; or pronounce righteous.
Because they have sinned.—When or if they sin (so also in 2 Chronicles 6:26). LXX., ἐὰν ἁμάρτωσίν. Vuig., “peccabunt enim tibi,” as a parenthesis. Syriac and Arabic, “when.” Kings, if (’asher) they sin, a rarer usage.
When thou . . . way.—For thou pointest them to the good way. A construction only found here. Comp. Psalm 27:11, where we see the simple accusation as in Kings, which is probably right here also, ’el (to) being an error for ’eth (so the versions). Making this change, the verse coincides with 1 Kings 8:36.
In the cities of their land.—See margin, which correctly renders the Hebrew text. But the expression “in the land of his gates” is strange. LXX. has, “if the enemy afflict him before their cities;” Vulg., “et hostes, vastatis regionibus, portas obsederint civitatis;” Syriac and Arabic, “when enemies press them hard in their land and in their cities.” Perhaps “in the land (at) his gates” is right (Bertheau).
His own sore (plague) and his own grief.—Kings, “the plague of his own heart.” So Syriac and Arabic. The phrase of the chronicler looks like a gloss on this.
In this house.—The margin is right.
Whose heart thou knowest.—Because thou knowest his heart. So Syriac and Arabic. The Vulg., “which thou knowest him to have in his heart” (as if eth meant with, here).
The children of men.—All has dropped out. So some MSS., Syriac, Arabic, and Kings.
But is come.—And shall come.
For thy great name’s sake.—Kings, “for thy name sake (for they will hear of thy great name and thy mighty hand and thy stretched-out arm), and shall come and pray towards this house.” So nearly the Syriac and Arabic here.
And fear thee.—Better without and; as in Kings, “that they may fear thee.” So Syriac.
And they carry them away.—See margin. LXX., αἰχμαλωτεύσουσιναὐτοὺς οἱ αἰχμαλωτεύοντες αὐτοὺς.
We have sinned, we have done amiss, and have dealt wickedly.—Comp. the same three verbs in Psalm 106:6; Daniel 9:5 (Kings puts the conjunction before the second verb). There is a climax, “we have slipped (or missed the mark), we have done crookedly, we have been godless.”
And forgive thy people.—This is the first clause of 1 Kings 8:50; and from this point to the end of Solomon’s Prayer, the two texts are wholly dissimilar.
(40) Let, I beseech thee, thine eyes be open.—Comp. 2 Chronicles 6:20, supr., and 2 Chronicles 7:15; also 1 Kings 8:52.
And let thine ears be attent.—Attentive, listening (qas‘s‘ûbôth). The same phrase recurs (2 Chronicles 7:15), which is, in fact, a repetition of the whole verse in the shape of a Divine promise, Qas‘s‘ûbôth occurs, besides, only in the late Psalm 130:2.
The prayer that is made in this place.—See margin. “The prayer of this place” is a strange phrase, only occurring here and in 2 Chronicles 7:15.
(41) Now therefore.—And now added by chronicler.
O Lord God.—Iahweh ’ĕlôhîm. This rare divine title occurs thrice in these two verses, but nowhere else in the prayer. The chronicler uses it as least eight times, but it does not appear at all in the books of Kings. In the Psalm we read simply Iahweh.
Into thy resting place.—Nûah. A late word, found besides only in Esther 9:16-18 (nôah). In the Psalm it is mĕnûhāh, a common word.
The idea that the sanctuary is God’s resting-place is not in keeping with the spirit of the prayer. (Comp. 2 Chronicles 6:18; and the frequent expression, “Hear Thou from heaven thy dwelling place.”)
Let thy priests, O Lord God.—Psalm 132:9. The Divine name is added here.
Salvation.—Or, prosperity. The psalm has, “with righteousness;” but the other idea occurs a little after in 2 Chronicles 6:16.
Rejoice in goodness.—Be glad at the good. A paraphrase of “shout for joy” in the psalm.
Turn not away the face of thine anointed—i.e., deny not his request (1 Kings 2:16). Psalm 132:10 :—
“For the sake of David Thy servant,
Turn not away the face of Thine Anointed.”
The members of the couplet are transposed, and the language of the first is modified by the chronicler, so as to bring in the phrase, “the mercies of David,” that is, Jehovah’s mercies promised to David (Isaiah 55:3; Psalm 89:49).
Remember (zokrāh)—Only here and five times in Nehemish.