Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament2 CHRONICLES 3
INSTRUCTIONS SOLOMON RECEIVED FOR BUILDING THE TEMPLE, AND THINGS HE DID SINFULLY
The chief problem in this chapter relates to verse 3, which in our version states that:
"These are the foundations which Solomon laid for the building of the house of God."
Yet the foundations are not even mentioned in this chapter. Furthermore, the RSV states that "These are Solomon's measurements." The Good News Bible omits the statement, and James Moffat has; "Here is the ground-plan drawn up by Solomon." It is quite evident that the true meaning of the verse is disputed.
This writer believes that the KJV should be followed in verse 3. The translators of that version believed that they were translating God's Word, but that conviction no longer guides the renditions of many modern translators; and their fanciful `emendations,' given for the purpose of giving `what the Spirit intended to say,' or `what He really meant.' are frequently inaccurate.
"Now these are the things wherein Solomon was instructed for the building of the house of God" -- KJV.
This rendition is undoubtedly the best one; and it has the utility of clearing up what would otherwise be an impossible contradiction later in 2 Chr. 3:14. Also the ASV honored this translation of the passage by including it in the marginal reference.
What is the significance of this? 2 Chr. 3:14 below mentions Solomon's making the veil of the temple; but we have already noted that Solomon actually made two doors of olive-wood for the entrance to the oracle, and not a veil; therefore the reference here to his `making the veil' should be understood, not as what he did, but as what he was instructed to do, as plainly indicated in 2 Chr. 3:3. (See our comment on this in the commentary on 1 Kings, p. 76.)
Of course, there is another way of reconciling Kings and Chronicles regarding the two olive-wood doors (Kings) and the veil (Chronicles), namely, by the conclusion that the temple had both! While such is possible, that idea will not appeal to very many people.
Contrary to the usual opinion of commentators that the Chronicler was attempting to glorify Solomon in these chapters, this writer believes he had a totally different purpose, including here, not what Solomon had done with those olive-wood doors, but what he had been instructed to do by his father David, namely, to make the veil.
This was by no means all of Solomon's violations of God's Word. Those extravagantly large cherubim, the graven images of lions on each side of his throne, and the twelve brazen oxen that supported the laver, and the pagan pillars Jachin and Boaz -- all of which violations are mentioned by the Chronicler, and to indicate, contrary to what many suppose, that the Chronicler was not attempting to glorify Solomon.
SOLOMON BEGINS ACTUAL CONSTRUCTION OF THE TEMPLE
Then Solomon began to build the house of Jehovah at Jerusalem on mount Moriah, where [Jehovah] appeared unto David his father, which he made ready in the place that David had appointed, in the threshing-floor of Ornan the Jebusite. And he began to build in the second [day] of the second month, in the fourth year of his reign. Now these are the foundations which Solomon laid for the building of the house of God. The length by cubits after the first measure was threescore cubits, and the breadth twenty cubits. And the porch that was before [the house], the length of it, according to the breadth of the house, was twenty cubits, and the height a hundred and twenty; and he overlaid it within with pure gold. And the greater house he ceiled with fir-wood, which he overlaid with fine gold, and wrought thereon palm-trees and chains. And he garnished the house with precious stones for beauty: and the gold was gold of Parvaim. He overlaid also the house, the beams, the thresholds, and the walls thereof, and the doors thereof, with gold; and graved cherubim on the walls.
And he began to build. in the fourth year of his reign
(2 Chronicles 3:2). The delay to the fourth year may have been due to the problems of collecting materials, or it may represent a four-year co-regency of Solomon with his father David.F1
(See the chapter heading for a discussion of 2 Chr. 3:3.)
And the porch. the height a hundred and twenty (cubits)
(2 Chronicles 3:4). This height which so much exceeds the height of the main building (1 Kings 6:2) should probably be corrected by the reading of the Arabic version and by the Alexandrian Septuagint, which read twenty cubits.F2
In this connection, we wonder why the RSV failed to make this obviously indicated correction. They have not failed to make many other changes with even less authority.
REGARDING THE HOLY OF HOLIES
Verses 8, 9
And he made the most holy house: the length thereof, according to the breadth of the house, was twenty cubits, and the breadth thereof twenty cubits; and he overlaid it with fine gold, amounting to six hundred talents. And the weight of the nails was fifty shekels of gold. And he overlaid the upper chambers with gold.
The upper chambers mentioned here do not conform to any architectural description, either of their utility, or their exact location. The whole chapter appears to have a strange mixture of things that Solomon was instructed to do, and did not do, and of things which he did contrary to God's will.
THOSE GARGANTUAN CHERUBIM
And in the most holy house he made two cherubim of image work; and they overlaid them with gold. And the wings of the cherubim were twenty cubits long: the wing of the one [cherub] was five cubits, reaching to the wall of the house; and the other wing was [likewise] five cubits, reaching to the wing of the other cherub. And the wing of the other cherub was five cubits, reaching to the wall of the house; and the other wing was five cubits [also], joining to the wing of the other cherub. The wings of these cherubim spread themselves forth twenty cubits: and they stood on their feet, and their faces were toward the house.
These colossal figures violated all of Moses' instructions regarding their use in the tabernacle. They were not supposed to fill up the house, but were intended to decorate the mercy seat, which was in fact a lid for the ark of the covenant. Furthermore, they were not supposed to "face the house" but to be in a posture of peering down intently into the mercy seat. One may find what these figurines were supposed to be in Exo. 25. They were to face each other, with their wings overshadowing the mercy seat, not to be standing side by side facing the outer sanctuary. Their wings were to pertain not to the whole Holy of Holies, but to the mercy seat alone. The apostle Peter referred to the symbolical significance of these cherubim in 1 Pet. 1:12.
And he made the veil of blue, and purple, and crimson, and fine linen, and wrought cherubim thereon.
(See the chapter heading for our perplexity regarding this verse.) Significantly, it is not stated that this veil sealed off the Holy of Holies, although it may be implied. Certainly that is what should have been done; but 1 Kings 6 indicates that olive-wood doors were used. One thing is certain, the Herodian temple had the veil.
ANOTHER ONE OF SOLOMON'S SINS: JACHIN AND BOAZ
Also he made before the house two pillars of thirty and five cubits high, and the capital that was on the top of each of them was five cubits. And he made chains in the oracle, and put [them] on the tops of the pillars; and he made a hundred pomegranates, and put them on the chains. And he set up the pillars before the temple, one on the right hand, and the other on the left; and called the name of that on the right hand Jachin, and the name of that on the left Boaz.
(See our full discussion of these pagan pillars which Solomon put in front of the temple in our commentary on 1 Kings, pp. 83-85.)
The accounts in Kings and Chronicles vary as to the exact dimensions of those pillars; but so what? They were sinful innovations anyway.
Footnotes for 2 Chronicles 3
1: The New Layman's Bible Commentary, p. 495.
2: Albert Barnes, Chronicles, p. 373.