Thursday, March 14, 2013

CXXVI - Chapter 7 - Solomon's Palace and the Temple's Furnishings

Comment:  The last post was rather lengthy and I ended it too abruptly.  I did not give justice to some of it.  I failed to mention that only Levite priests were allowed inside the Temple, and only to perform their priestly duties.  But especially, I want to expound a little more on the "Most Holy Place" or also referred to as the "Holy of Holies".  This room was a thirty foot gold cube.  In this room sat the Ark of the Covenant, which was made of gold.  Standing over the Ark were two golden cheribums, both with a wingspan of fifteen feet.  Everything inside this room was solid gold or gold overlay, with only three exeptions, all of which were inside the Ark:  1)  Aaron's rod that budded, 2) The tablets on which God wrote the Ten Commandments, and 3) a pot of manna from the Israelites' forty years in the wilderness.  On top of the Ark was the "Mercy Seat" which was always reserved for God.  It was called the Mercy Seat because that is where God forgave the sins of His people.  Only the High Priest was allowed inside the Holy of Holies, and he was allowed in only once a year.  {Interesting to note that when the High Priest entered the Holy of Holies, a rope was tied to his ankle.  That was done in case something happened to the High Priest that made it impossible for him to leave on his own.  He could be pulled out by other priests with the rope rather than defiling the Holy of Holies by other priests coming into the room to get him.}  That was the occasion when he brought to God all of the sins of His people.  At this time the High Priest would ask for forgiveness, atonement in lieu of the sacrifices made of all the animals for the past year.  Remember, blood had to be shed in order for sins to have been forgiven.  For a man or woman to have been forgiven, the blood of an innocent animal had to have been shed.  If the animal had not been innocent, it would have died for its OWN sins, and could not take the place of anybody.  The New Testament did not change this requirement God made.  Jesus, because He was totaly innocent of any sin, was able to give His life in atonement for all of our sins.  It is engenious, but it's that simple.  Again, God's requirements have not changed.

Chapter 7

After seven years of building, the Temple is now complete.  In Chapter 7, Solomon proceeds with his plans to build the other buildings that will share the complex with the Temple, one of which will be his palace.  All of the additional buildings will take another thirteen years to build, making the entire project last twenty years.  Solomon's elaborate contruction project included a series of government buildings.  His plan for this complex included five major buildings.  The entire complex of governmental buildings, personal dwelling, and the Temple were surrounded by a wall which formed a court.  A person who entered from the south first came to the house of the forest of Lebanon (vs 2).  It probably served as a treasury and an armory.  Its name came from the forty-five massive cedar pillars that supported its roof.  Next, (vs 7) one would come to the porch or "hall ``of pillars".  It probably was associated with the judicial branch of the government.  There, people could appeal their cases to the highest authority in the Israelite government, which was king Solomon himself.  This Hall of Pillars would be where Solomon would spend a predetermined amount of time, depending of course on the workload determined by the number of cases that made it to the king's court.  The next building was the royal palace where the king lived.  The palace was surrounded by its own court.  The royal palace was next to the Temple court and was the closest building to the Temple itself.  This layout would give Solomon ready access to the Temple.  Next to the royal palace, Solomon built a house for the Pharoahs daughter, who was considered to be the queen.  A separate palace for her was probably in the original marriage arrangement.

Vss 13-51  -  I cannot be certain of the exact time, but during these twenty years of building the structures of the Temple and palace complex, furnishings and utensils for the Temple had to be made.  Vss 13-14 - Solomon wanted the most skilled artisan to make these furnishings.  The person who was the most renowned artisan in dealing with brass and bronz was a man also named Hiram and was also from Tyre.  (The king of Tyre was also named Hiram.)  Hiram the artisan was the son of a Hebrew woman and a Pheonician man. He was a man of  skill, wisdom, understanding, and knowledge (vs 14), thus he was well equipped for the task.  Hiram the artisan was granted much latitude with which to perform such important duties.  He was allowed to choose his place to work, which happened to be a piece of land just east of the Jordan River, certainly away from the hustle and bustle of Jerusalem.  The location he chose had to be large because of how large some of the articles were that he made.  For instance, he made the two large pillars that were at the Temple entrance (vss 15-22).  They were about 35 feet tall.  These two pillars were named "Jachin" which meant "establish", and the second one was named "Boaz" which meant "strength".  Another rather large item Hiram fashioned was what they called a bronz sea.  This was a huge tub, 15 feet in diameter and over 7 feet tall.  This bronz sea sat on the back of twelve oxen, a set of three oxen each facing each direction.  (see Temple layout in post CXXV.)  This huge bath was used by the priests for their absolutions (washings).  There were several other utensils such as shovels, pots, basins, and other tools used by the priests whil performing the various rituals in the Temple.  For funishings inside the Temple, gold (vss 48-50) was used rather than bronz, but Hiram was assigned those items as well.  These funishings included the altar of incense, the table of shewbread, and the ten candlesticks along with the necessarey smaller utensils.

Vs 51  -  Twenty years is a long time to be building.  The Temple was Solomon's greatest contribution to Israel's religious life.  He had spared no cost or effort to complete this great monument to honor God.  Finally he got to bring all those items his father David had dedicated to the Lord into their proper place.  The only thing left now was to properly dedicate this great structure to God, which we'll cover in the next post.

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