Sunday, March 10, 2013

CXXIV - I Kings Chapter 5,6 - Solomon Builds the Temple

King Solomon has been remembered for two great achievements:  His obtaining unmeasurable wisdom, and the building of the Temple in Jerusalem.  A great building project doesn't just happen.  Generally, it begins as an idea in the mind of some person of vision.  Solomon's father David had initiated the idea to build a house for God.  His love for God caused him to be dissatisfied with enjoying the comforts of a king's palace while the Ark of God was being kept in a tent.  For a number of reasons, David was not permitted to build the Temple, but God told David that his son would build the Temple instead of David (II Samuel 7:12-13).  Prior to David's death, he shared his burden concerning the Temple with Solomon.  This is the reason Solomon considered the building of the Temple such a high priority.  And shortly into Solomon's reign he had the wisdom, vision, resources, and the determination to undertake this project with the resolve it deserved.

In the first verse of chapter 5, Hiram King of Tyre is introduced.  Hiram and David had a special relationship with each other.  One of mutual respect and support.  Due to his treaty with David, Hiram enjoyed peace from any enemies from the south, east, and west.  This enables wise Hiram to build his own empire in Lebenon.  He ruled in Tyre (an island off the coast of Lebanon) from 986-935 BC.  Although Tyre's farmland was limited, it contained the forest of Lebenon in which grew the famous cedar trees.  In ancient times the cedars of Lebanon were the epitome of quality and luxurious building material.  Quality cedar such as these was hard, fragrant, close-grained, and resistant to mold or insect damage.  At one time the mountains of Lebanon were covered with these precious cedar trees.  Today, there are only about fifteen acres in a national park in Lebanon that still contain these
trees.  Ancient world powers such as Assyria and Egypt considered them spoils of war and stripped the forests of them in such a way that they could not reseed themselves.  Hiram was more respectful of this resource than that.  Hiram took steps to make sure the acres were not depleted of trees, allowing seedlings to flourish and cross-pollenation to maintain constant replenishment.

The people of Lebanon were the Phoenicians, who are remembered for their seamanship, as Lebanon has miles of border on the Mediteranean Sea.   Hiram's navy had dominated the Mediteranean Sea.  His ships sailed its waters and built a strong economy, using cedar wood as a strong base for trade material.  But David, and later Solomon, had dominated the overland trade routes.  To carry out an effective trade program, Hiram needed access to the overland trade routes.  So Hiram was wise enough to ally himself with Israel.  Also, Hiram had access to little farmland for raising crops and
livestock.  Israelites were master herdsmen and agriculture had become something in which they excelled through the generations.  So, with the wealth Hiram gained from the cedar, he was able to purchase food from Israel and other sources.
When David died, Hiram sent an envoy to Jerusalem as a show of respect and remorse.  This was an opportunity for Soloman to strike a deal.  In the following verses Solomon proposes to Hiram that he would cut the timber, take them to the sea, float them to Israel, and Solomon would take them from the port to Jerusalem.  Solomon would send (in shifts) ten thousand men at a time to help Hiram's Phoenicians cut and transport the timber.  Verse 14 - Solomon recruited thirty thousand men for this job, but no man would spend more than a month at a time away from Israel.  There would be ten
thousand men in Lebanon, ten thousand in Israel, and ten thousand in transit all times.  Solomon used wisdom in dealing with ALL people.  Solomon also had seventy thousand carriers and eighty thousand stonecutters in the hills, as well as over thirty thousand foremen to supervise the work and activities of the workers.

All of the stone were cut to size at the quarry location before it was shipped to Jerusalem.  The reason for this is revealed in chapter 6.  As payment for the cedar, Solomon was to send to Hiram 3600 tons of wheat and 120,000 gallons of olive oil every year for twenty years.  The wheat and the olive oil made Hiram a hero to his people, as grain had always been a precious commodity in this otherwise well-to-do country.

Chapter 6  -  Solomon Builds the Temple

Exactly 408 years after the Israelites left Egypt, Solomon started building a permanent temple in which the Lord could reside.  {Note:  as you read this account, bear in mind that a cubit is about 18" in length.  All demensions are given in cubits.  A cubit was determined by the length of one's lower arm, from the elbow to the tip of the middle finger, which averaged about 18", or one and a half foot.  Adam, is it possible for you to find a picture of the Temple along with Solomon's palace and place it in the blog as post CXXV?  If you cannot obtain one, that's OK.  A picture inserted like you did the map would help all to visualize what this Temple and its surrounding buildings actually looked like.  Thanks}  This chapter gives all the specifications of the Temple, much like the Scriptures gave the specifications that Noah used to build the ark.  Note verse 7, which is why he had the stones cut to exact size at the quarry.  "In building the temple, only blocks dressed at the quarry were used, and no hammer, chisel or any other iron tool was heard at the temple site while it was being built."  {I don't want to make too much of this, but there is something to quiet reverance in God's house.  I am always careful to respect those quiet rituals excersized by some of our brothers and sisters in certain denominations.  It is very important to some people for church sanctuaries to be absolutely quiet as a matter of respect and they can reference I Kings 6:7 to defend it.  I ask noone to subscribe to it, but this mandate by Solomon deserves at least some consideration.  Agree?}  There were three main
sections of the Temple:  The entrance (vestibule), the holy place, and the most holy place.  The most holy place was a room which was thirty feet cubed, in which the Ark of the Covenant was placed.  Everything in this room was overlaid with pure gold.  Over the Ark was placed two cheribum made of gold.  Both had wingspans of exactly fifteen feet, so that each cheribum's wings touched a wall and the wing of the other cheribum.  One must read this chapter carefully to get a flavor of just how luxurious this Temple was.  To give it justice, I would have to merely copy the Scripture in trying to describe it.  The very last verse of chapter 6 tells that it took seven years to build the Temple.

Next post:  Soloman Builds his Palace and other buildings surrounding the Temple

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