1 Kings 6:2 MEANING

1 Kings 6:2
(2) The length.--By comparison with Exodus 26:16-23, we find that the Temple itself was in all its proportions an exact copy of the Tabernacle, each dimension being doubled, and the whole, therefore, in cubical contents, eight times the size. It was, therefore--whatever measure we take for the cubit--a small building. Taking the usual calculation of eighteen inches for the cubit, the whole would be ninety feet long, thirty feet wide, and forty-five feet high--not larger than a good-sized parish church, and in proportion not unlike a church of Gothic construction. It is, indeed, curious to note that this likeness is carried out in the existence of the porch (which is even represented in 2 Chronicles 3:4 as rising into a lofty entrance tower), the division of the house into two parts, like a nave and chancel, the provision of something like aisles (though opening outwards) and of clerestory windows, and the high pitch of the roof. This resemblance is probably not mere coincidence; for in the old Freemasonry, which had a great influence on mediaeval architecture, the plan of Solomon's Temple was taken in all its details as a sacred guide. The "Oracle" or Most Holy place, was lower than the rest, forming an exact cube of thirty feet; the height of the Holy place (sixty feet long and thirty feet wide) is not given, but was probably the same, so that there would be an upper chamber over the whole under the roof--which, like that of the Tabernacle, appears to have been a high-pitched roof--fifteen feet high along the central beam, with sloping sides. This is apparently alluded to in 2 Chronicles 3:9, and possibly in 2 Kings 23:12, and in the remark of Josephus, "There was another building erected over it, equal in its measures." The Temple was, in fact, only a shrine for the ministering priests--the outer court, or courts, being the place for the great assembly of the congregation--and it relied for magnificence not on size, but on costliness of material and wealth of decoration.

Verse 2. - And the house [i.e., not the whole structure, but the main building, exclusive of porch (ver. 3) and side chambers (ver. 5)] which king Solomon built for the Lord, the length thereof was threescore cubits [But what was the length of the cubit? (אָמָהֹ) This unfortunately is by no means certain, as the Jews would seem to have had three different cubits. All the ancient measures, both Jewish and Gentile, were taken from parts of the body. Thus we find a "finger-breadth" (Jeremiah 52:21), "hand-breadth" (1 Kings 7:26), "span" (1 Samuel 17:24), and the Greeks had their δάκτυλος πούς and τῆχυς, and the Romans their cubitus, pes, digitus, etc. אָמָה is used in its proper sense (ulna) Deuteronomy 3:11. Probably at first it signified, like πῆχυς, the length from point of elbow to tip of little or middle finger. But it is obvious that this was an uncertain measure, and hence perhaps arose cubits of different length. According to Gesen. the cubit here mentioned, which was the older or sacred Mosaic cubit (2 Chronicles 3:3), was six palms, while that of Ezekiel (Ezekiel 40:5; Ezekiel 43:13), the royal Babylonian cubit, was seven, but on this as well as other points the authorities are very far from agreed. "The length of the cubit is one of the most knotty points of Hebrew archaeology" (Dict. Bib. 3, p. 1736). There is a general consensus of opinion, however in favour of understanding the cubit here mentioned as measuring 18 inches. Fergusson (Dict. Bib. 3:1451) considers this to be beyond question. It is certainly noteworthy that the measurements of Kings and Chronicles, of Ezra and Ezekiel, of Josephus and the Talmud, all agree, and we know that Josephus always uses the Greek cubit of 18 inches. Mr. Conder, however, maintains that the Hebrew cubit amounts to no more than sixteen inches. He says, "Maimonides tells us that the temple cubit was of 48 barleycorns, and any one who will take the trouble to measure barleycorns, will find that three go to the inch" - which gives 16 inches for the cubit. To this argument, which is not perhaps of much weight, he adds, what is of much greater moment, that "the Galilean synagogues, measured by it, give round numbers" (pp. 187-8)] and the breadth thereof twenty cubits, and the height thereof thirty cubits. [It thus appears that the temple was but a small - compared with many churches, a very small - building. But its purpose and object must be considered. It was not for assemblies of the people. The congregation never met within it, but the worship was offered towards it. It was a place for the Holy Presence, and for the priests who ministered before it.]

6:1-10 The temple is called the house of the Lord, because it was directed and modelled by him, and was to be employed in his service. This gave it the beauty of holiness, that it was the house of the Lord, which was far beyond all other beauties. It was to be the temple of the God of peace, therefore no iron tool must be heard; quietness and silence suit and help religious exercises. God's work should be done with much care and little noise. Clamour and violence often hinder, but never further the work of God. Thus the kingdom of God in the heart of man grows up in silence, Mr 5:27.And the house which King Solomon built for the Lord,.... For his worship, honour, and glory:

the length thereof was threescore cubits; sixty cubits from east to west, including the holy place and the most holy place; the holy place was forty cubits, and the most holy place twenty; the same measure, as to length, Eupolemus, an Heathen writer (n), gives of the temple, but is mistaken in the other measures:

and the breadth thereof twenty cubits; from north to south:

and the height thereof thirty cubits; this must be understood of the holy place, for the oracle or most holy place was but twenty cubits high, 1 Kings 6:20; though the holy place, with the chambers that were over it, which were ninety cubits, three stories high, was in all an hundred twenty cubits, 2 Chronicles 3:4; some restrain it to the porch only, which stood at the end, like one of our high steeples, as they think.

(n) Apud Euseb. Praepar. Evangel. l. 9. c. 34.

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