Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, by Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsh, [1857-78], at sacred-texts.com
The Building of the Temple - 2 Chronicles 3-5:1 (Cf. 1 Kings 6; 7:13-51.)
The description of the building begins with a statement of the place where and of the time when the temple was built (Ch2 3:1-2). Then follows an account of the proportions of the building, a description of the individual parts, commencing on the outside and advancing inwards. First we have the porch (Ch2 3:3, Ch2 3:4), then the house, i.e., the interior apartment or the holy place (Ch2 3:5-7), then the holiest of all, and cherubim therein (Ch2 3:8-13), and the veil of partition between the holy place and the most holy (Ch2 3:14). After that we have the furniture of the court, the pillars of the porch (Ch2 3:15-17), the brazen altar (Ch2 4:1), the brazen sea (Ch2 4:2-5), the ten lavers (Ch2 4:6), the furniture of the holy place, candlesticks and tables (Ch2 4:7, Ch2 4:8), and of the two courts (Ch2 4:9, Ch2 4:10), and finally a summary enumeration of the brazen and golden utensils of the temple (Ch2 4:11, Ch2 4:12). The description in 1 Kings 6 and 7 is differently arranged; the divine promise which Solomon received while the building was in progress, and a description of the building of the palace, being inserted: see on 1 Kings 6 and 7.
2 Chronicles 3:1
The building of the temple. - Ch2 3:1-3. The statements as to the place where the temple was built (Ch2 3:1) are found here only. Mount Moriah is manifestly the mountain in the land of Moriah where Abraham was to have sacrificed his son Isaac (Gen 22:2), which had received the name המּוריּה, i.e., "the appearance of Jahve," from that event. It is the mountain which lies to the north-east of Zion, now called Haram after the most sacred mosque of the Mohammedans, which is built there; cf. Rosen, das Haram von Jerusalem, Gotha 1866. לד נראה אשׁר is usually translated: "which was pointed out to David his father." But ראה has not in Niphal the signification "to be pointed out," which is peculiar to the Hophal (cf. Exo 25:40; Exo 26:30; Deu 4:35, etc.); it means only "to be seen," "to let oneself be seen," to appear, especially used of appearances of God. It cannot be shown to be anywhere used of a place which lets itself be seen, or appears to one. We must therefore translate: "on mount Moriah, where He had appeared to David his father." The unexpressed subject יהוה is easily supplied from the context; and with אשׁר בּהר, "on the mountain where," cf. אשׁר בּמּקום, Gen 35:13., and Ew. 331, c, 3. הכין אשׁר is separated from what precedes, and connected with what follows, by the Athnach under אביהוּ, and is translated, after the lxx, Vulg., and Syr., as a hyperbaton thus: "in the place where David had prepared," scil. the building of the temple by the laying up of the materials there (Ch1 22:5; Ch1 29:2). But there are no proper analogies to such a hyperbaton, since Jer 14:1 and Jer 46:1 are differently constituted. Berth. therefore is of opinion that our text can only signify, "which temple he prepared on the place of David," and that this reading cannot be the original, because הכין occurs elsewhere only of David's activity in preparing for the building of the temple, and "place of David" cannot, without further ceremony, mean the place which David had chosen. He would therefore transpose the words thus: דויד הכין אשׁר בּמקום. But this conjecture is by no means certain. In the first place, the mere transposition of the words is not sufficient; we must also alter בּמקום into בּמּקום, to get the required sense; and, further, Bertheau's reasons are not conclusive. הכין means not merely to make ready for (zursten), to prepare, but also to make ready, make (bereiten), found e.g., Kg1 6:19; Ezr 3:3; and the frequent use of this word in reference to David's action in preparing for the building of the temple does not prove that it has this signification here also. The clause may be quite well translated, with J. J. Rambach: "quam domum praeparavit (Salomo) in loco Davidis." The expression "David's place," for "place which David had fixed upon," cannot in this connection be misunderstood, but yet it cannot be denied that the clause is stiff and constrained if we refer it to יהוה את־בּית. We would therefore prefer to give up the Masoretic punctuation, and construe the words otherwise, connecting הכין אשׁר with the preceding thus: where Jahve had appeared to his father David, who had prepared (the house, i.e., the building of it), and make בּמקום ד, with the following designation of the place, to depend upon לבנות as a further explanation of the הם בּהר, viz., in the place of David, i.e., on the place fixed by David on the threshing-floor of the Jebusite Ornan; cf. Ch1 21:18. - In Ch2 3:2 לבנות ויּחל is repeated in order to fix the time of the building. In Kg1 6:1 the time is fixed by its relation to the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt. בּשּׁני, which the older commentators always understood of the second day of the month, is strange. Elsewhere the day of the month is always designated by the cardinal number with the addition of לחרשׁ or יום, the month having been previously given. Berth. therefore considers בּשּׁני to be a gloss which has come into the text by a repetition of השּׁני, since the lxx and Vulg. have not expressed it.
2 Chronicles 3:3
"And this is Solomon's founding, to build the house of God;" i.e., this is the foundation which Solomon laid for the building of the house of God. The infin. Hoph. הוּסד is used here and in Ezr 3:11 substantively. The measurements only of the length and breadth of the building are given; the height, which is stated in Kg1 6:2, is omitted here. The former, i.e., the ancient measurement, is the Mosaic or sacred cubit, which, according to Eze 40:5 and Eze 43:13, was a handbreadth longer than the civil cubit of the earlier time; see on Kg1 6:2.
2 Chronicles 3:4
The porch and the interior of the holy place. - Ch2 3:4. The porch which was before (i.e., in front of) the length (of the house), was twenty cubits before the breadth of the house, i.e., was as broad as the house. So understood, the words give an intelligible sense. הארך with the article refers back to הארך in Ch2 3:3 (the length of the house), and על־פּני in the two defining clauses means "in front;" but in the first clause it is "lying in front of the house," i.e., built in front; in the second it is "measured across the front of the breadth of the house."
(Note: There is consequently no need to alter the text according to Kg1 6:3, from which passage Berth. would interpolate the words פּניו על רחבּו בּאמּה ר עשׂר הבּית between על־פּני and הארך, and thereby get the signification: "and the porch which is before the house, ten cubits is its breadth before the same, and the length which is before the breadth twenty cubits." But this conjecture is neither necessary nor probable. It is not necessary, for (1) the present text gives an intelligible sense; (2) the assertion that the length and breadth of the porch must be stated cannot be justified, if for no other reason, for this, that even of the main buildings all three dimensions are not given, only two being stated, and that it was not the purpose of the author of the Chronicle to give an architecturally complete statement, his main anxiety being to supply a general idea of the splendour of the temple. It is not probable; because the chronicler, if he had followed Kg1 6:3, would not have written על־פּניו, but הבּית על־פּני, and instead of הארך would have written וערכּי, to correspond with רחבּו.)
There is certainly either a corruption of the text, or a wrong number in the statement of the height of the porch, 120 cubits; for a front 120 cubits high to a house only thirty cubits high could not be called אוּלם; it would have been a מגדּל, a tower. It cannot with certainty be determined whether we should read twenty or thirty cubits; see in Kg1 6:3. He overlaid it (the porch) with pure gold; cf. Kg1 6:21.
The interior of the holy place. - Ch2 3:5. The "great house," i.e., the large apartment of the house, the holy place, he wainscotted with cypresses, and overlaid it with good gold, and carved thereon palms and garlands. חפּה from חפה, to cover, cover over, alternates with the synonymous צפּה in the signification to coat or overlay with wood and gold. תּמּרים .dlo as in Eze 41:18, for תּמּרות, Kg1 6:29, Kg1 6:35, are artificial palms as wall ornaments. שׁרשׁרות are in Exo 28:14 small scroll-formed chains of gold wire, here spiral chain-like decorations on the walls, garlands of flowers carved on the wainscot, as we learn from Kg1 6:18.
And he garnished the house with precious stones for ornament (of the inner sides of the walls); cf. Ch1 29:2, on which Bhr on Kg1 6:7 appositely remarks, that the ornamenting of the walls with precious stones is very easily credible, since among the things which Solomon brought in quantity from Ophir they are expressly mentioned (Kg1 10:11), and it was a common custom in the East so to employ them in buildings and in vessels; cf. Symbolik des mos. Cult. i. S. 280, 294, 297. The gold was from פּרוים. This, the name of a place rich in gold, does not elsewhere occur, and has not as yet been satisfactorily explained. Gesen. with Wilson compares the Sanscrit parvam, the first, foremost, and takes it to be the name of the foremost, i.e., eastern regions; others hold the word to be the name of some city in southern or eastern Arabia, whence Indian gold was brought to Palestine. - In Ch2 3:7 the garnishing of the house with gold is more exactly and completely described. He garnished the house, the beams (of the roof), the thresholds (of the doors), and its walls and its doors with gold, and carved cherubs on the walls. For details as to the internal garnishing, decoration, and gilding of the house, see Kg1 6:18, Kg1 6:29, and Kg1 6:30, and for the doors, Kg1 6:32-35.
2 Chronicles 3:8
The most holy place, with the figures of the cherubim and the veil; cf. Kg1 6:19-28. - The length of the most holy place in front of the breadth of the house, twenty cubits, consequently measured in the same way as the porch (Ch2 3:4); the breadth, i.e., the depth of it, also twenty cubits. The height, which was the same (Kg1 6:20), is not stated; but instead of that we have the weight of the gold which was used for the gilding, which is omitted in 1 Kings 6, viz., 600 talents for the overlaying of the walls, and 50 shekels for the nails to fasten the sheet gold on the wainscotting. He covered the upper chambers of the most holy place also with gold; see Ch1 28:11. This is not noticed in 1 Kings 6.
2 Chronicles 3:10
The figures of the cherubim are called צעצעים מעשׂה, sculpture work. The ἁπ. λεγ.. צעצעים comes from צוּע, Arab. ṣâǵ, formavit, finxit, and signifies sculptures. The plur. יצפּוּ, "they overlaid them," is indefinite. The length of the wings was five cubits, and the four outspread wings extended across the whole width of the most holy place from one wall to the other. The repetition of the clauses האהר הכּרוּב...האהד כּנף (Ch2 3:11, Ch2 3:12) has a distributive force: the top of one wing of each cherub reached the wall of the house, that of the other wing reached the wing of the other cherub standing by. In the repetition the masc. מגּיע alternates with the fem. מגּעת, being construed in a freer way as the principal gender with the fem. כּנף, and also with דּבקה, adhaerebat, in the last clause. - In Ch2 3:12 Bertheau would strike out the word כּנפי because it does not suit פּרשׂים, which occurs in Ch1 28:17; Ch2 5:8; Kg1 8:7, in the transitive signification, "to stretch out the wings." But nothing is gained by that, for we must then supply the erased word after פּרשׂים again. And, moreover, the succeeding clause is introduced by והם, just because in the first clause the wings, and not the cherubim, were the subject. We hold the text to be correct, and translate: "the wings of these cherubim were, for they stretched them out, twenty cubits." והם refers to הכּרוּבים. They stood upon their feet, consequently upright, and were, according to Kg1 6:26, ten cubits high. "And their faces towards the house," i.e., turned towards the holy place, not having their faces turned towards each other, as was the case with the cherubim upon the Capporeth (Exo 25:20).
2 Chronicles 3:14
The veil between the holy place and the most holy, not mentioned in Kg1 6:21, was made of the same materials and colours as the veil on the tabernacle, and was inwoven with similar cherub figures; cf. Exo 26:31. וּבוּץ כּרמיל as in Ch2 2:13. עלה על, to bring upon; an indefinite expression for: to weave into the material.
2 Chronicles 3:15
The two brazen pillars before the house, i.e., before the porch, whose form is more accurately described in Kg1 7:15-22. The height of it is here given at thirty-five cubits, while, according to Kg1 7:15; Kg2 25:17; Jer 52:21, it was only eighteen cubits. The number thirty-five has arisen by confounding יח = 18 with לה = 35; see on Kg1 7:16. הצּפת (ἁπ. λεγ.) from צפה, overlay, cover, is the hood of the pillar, i.e., the capital, called in Kg1 7:16. כּתרת, crown, capital, five cubits high, as in Kg1 7:16.
"And he made little chains on the collar (Halsreife), and put it on the top of the pillars, and made 100 pomegranates, and put them on the chains." In the first clause of this verse, בּדּביר, "in (on) the most holy place," has no meaning, for the most holy place is not here being discussed, but the pillars before the porch, or rather an ornament on the capital of these pillars. We must not therefore think of chains in the most holy place, which extended thence out to the pillars, as the Syriac and Arabic seem to have done, paraphrasing as they do: chains of fifty cubits (i.e., the length of the holy place and the porch). According to Kg1 7:17-20 and Kg1 7:41., compared with Ch2 4:12-13, each capital consisted of two parts. The lower part was a circumvolution (Wulst) covered with chain-like net-work, one cubit high, with a setting of carved pomegranates one row above and one row below. The upper part, or that which formed the crown of the capital, was four cubits high, and carved in the form of an open lily-calyx. In our verse it is the lower part of the capital, the circumvolution, with the chain net-work and the pomegranates, which is spoken of. From this, Bertheau concludes that דּביר must signify the same as the more usual שׂבכה, viz., "the lattice-work which was set about the top of the pillars, and served to fasten the pomegranates," and that bdbyr has arisen out of בּרביד by a transposition of the letters. בּרביד (chains) should be read here. This conjecture so decidedly commends itself, that we regard it as certainly correct, since רביד denotes in Gen 41:42; Eze 16:11, a necklace, and so may easily denote also a ring or hoop; but we cannot adopt the translation "chains on a ring," nor the idea that the שׂבכה, since it surrounded the head of the pillars as a girdle or broad ring, is called the ring of the pillars. For this idea does not agree with the translation "chains in a ring," even when they are conceived of as "chain-like ornaments, which could scarcely otherwise be made visible on the ring than by open work." Then the chain-like decorations were not, as Bertheau thinks, on the upper and under border of the ring, but formed a net-work which surrounded the lower part of the capital of the pillar like a ring, as though a necklace had been drawn round it. רביד consequently is not the same as שׂבכה, but rather corresponds to that part of the capital which is called גּלּה (גּלּות) in Kg1 7:14; for the שׂבכות served to cover the גּלּות, and were consequently placed on or over the גּלּות, as the pomegranates were on the chains or woven work. הגּלּה denotes the curve, the circumvolution, which is in Kg1 7:20 called הבּטן, a broad-arched band, bulging towards the middle, which formed the lower part of the capital. This arched part of the capital the author of the Chronicle calls רביד, ring or collar, because it may be regarded as the neck ornament of the head of the pillar, in contrast to the upper part of the capital, that consisted in lily-work, i.e., the ball wrought into the form of an open lily-calyx (כּתרת( xylac-).
As to the position of the pillars, and their names, see on Kg1 7:21.