The Dedication of the Temple.
2-6. at the feast in the month
Ethanim—The public and formal inauguration of this national
place of worship did not take place till eleven months after the
completion of the edifice. The delay, most probably, originated in
Solomon's wish to choose the most fitting opportunity when there should
be a general rendezvous of the people in Jerusalem (1Ki 8:2); and that was not till the next year.
That was a jubilee year, and he resolved on commencing the solemn
ceremonial a few days before the feast of tabernacles, which was the
most appropriate of all seasons. That annual festival had been
instituted in commemoration of the Israelites dwelling in booths during
their stay in the wilderness, as well as of the tabernacle, which was
then erected, in which God promised to meet and dwell with His people,
sanctifying it with His glory. As the tabernacle was to be superseded
by the temple, there was admirable propriety in choosing the feast of
tabernacles as the period for dedicating the new place of worship, and
praying that the same distinguished privileges might be continued to it
in the manifestation of the divine presence and glory. At the time
appointed for the inauguration, the king issued orders for all the
heads and representatives of the nation to repair to Jerusalem and take
part in the august procession [1Ki 8:1]. The lead was taken by the king and
elders of the people, whose march must have been slow, as priests were
stationed to offer an immense number of sacrifices at various points in
the line of road through which the procession was to go. Then came the
priests bearing the ark and the tabernacle—the old Mosaic
tabernacle which was brought from Gibeon. Lastly, the Levites followed,
carrying the vessels and ornaments belonging to the old, for lodgment
in the new, house of the Lord. There was a slight deviation in this
procedure from the order of march established in the wilderness (Nu 3:31;
4:15); but the spirit of the
arrangement was duly observed. The ark was deposited in the oracle;
that is, the most holy place, under the wings of the cherubim—not
the Mosaic cherubim, which were firmly attached to the ark (Ex 37:7, 8), but those made by Solomon, which
were far larger and more expanded.
8. they drew out the staves—a little
way, so as to project (see on Ex 25:15; Nu 4:6); and they were left in that position. The object
was, that these projecting staves might serve as a guide to the high
priest, in conducting him to that place where, once a year, he went to
officiate before the ark; otherwise he might miss his way in the dark,
the ark being wholly overshadowed by the wings of the cherubim.
9. There was nothing in the ark save the two
tables of stone—Nothing else was ever in the ark, the
articles mentioned (Heb 9:4) being
not in, but by it, being laid in the most holy place
before the testimony (Ex 16:33; Nu 17:10).
10, 11. the cloud filled the house of the
Lord—The cloud was the visible symbol of the divine presence,
and its occupation of the sanctuary was a testimony of God's gracious
acceptance of the temple as of the tabernacle (Ex 40:34). The dazzling brightness, or rather,
perhaps, the dense portentous darkness of the cloud, struck the minds
of the priests, as it formerly had done Moses, which such astonishment
and terror (Le 16:2-13; De 4:24; Ex 40:35) that they could not remain. Thus the
temple became the place where the divine glory was revealed, and the
king of Israel established his royal residence.
1Ki 8:12-21. Solomon's
12. Then spake Solomon—For the
reassurance of the priests and people, the king reminded them that the
cloud, instead of being a sign ominous of evil, was a token of
The Lord said—not in express terms,
but by a continuous course of action (Ex 13:21; 24:16; Nu
13. I have surely built thee an
house—This is an apostrophe to God, as perceiving His
approach by the cloud, and welcoming Him to enter as guest or
inhabitant of the fixed and permanent dwelling-place, which, at His
command, had been prepared for His reception.
14. the king turned his face about—From
the temple, where he had been watching the movement of the mystic
cloud, and while the people were standing, partly as the attitude of
devotion, partly out of respect to royalty, the king gave a fervent
expression of praise to God for the fulfilment of His promise (2Sa 7:6-16).
1Ki 8:22-61. His
22. Solomon stood before the altar—This
position was in the court of the people, on a brazen scaffold erected
for the occasion (2Ch 6:13),
fronting the altar of burnt offering, and surrounded by a mighty
concourse of people. Assuming the attitude of a suppliant, kneeling
8:54; compare 2Ch 6:24) and with uplifted hands, he performed
the solemn act of consecration—an act remarkable, among other
circumstances, for this, that it was done, not by the high priest or
any member of the Aaronic family, but by the king in person, who might
minister about, though not in, holy things. This sublime
prayer [1Ki 8:22-35], which breathes sentiments of the
loftiest piety blended with the deepest humility, naturally bore a
reference to the national blessing and curse contained in the
law—and the burden of it—after an ascription of praise to
the Lord for the bestowment of the former, was an earnest supplication
for deliverance from the latter. He specifies seven cases in which the
merciful interposition of God would be required; and he earnestly
bespeaks it on the condition of people praying towards that holy place.
The blessing addressed to the people at the close is substantially a
brief recapitulation of the preceding prayer [1Ki 8:56-61].
1Ki 8:62-64. His Sacrifice
of Peace Offering.
62. the king, and all Israel … offered
sacrifice before the Lord—This was a burnt offering with its
accompaniments, and being the first laid on the altar of the temple,
was, as in the analogous case of the tabernacle, consumed by miraculous
fire from heaven (see 2Ch 7:1). On
remarkable occasions, the heathens sacrificed hecatombs (a hundred
animals), and even chiliombs (a thousand animals), but the public
sacrifices offered by Solomon on this occasion surpassed all the other
oblations on record, without taking into account those presented by
private individuals, which, doubtless, amounted to a large additional
number. The large proportion of the sacrifices were peace offerings,
which afforded the people an opportunity of festive enjoyment.
63. So the king and all the children of Israel
dedicated the house of the Lord—The dedication was not a
ceremony ordained by the law, but it was done in accordance with the
sentiments of reverence naturally associated with edifices appropriated
to divine worship. [See on 2Ch 7:5.]
64. The same day did the king hallow the middle of
the court—that is, the whole extent of the priests'
court—the altar of burnt offerings, though large (2Ch 4:1), being totally inadequate for the vast
number of sacrifices that distinguished this occasion. It was only a
temporary erection to meet the demands of an extraordinary season, in
aid of the established altar, and removed at the conclusion of the
sacred festival. [See on 2Ch 7:7.]
The People Joyful.
65. from the entering in of Hamath unto the river
of Egypt—that is, from one extremity of the kingdom to the
other. The people flocked from all quarters.
seven days and seven days, even fourteen
days—The first seven were occupied with the dedication, and
the other seven devoted to the feast of tabernacles (2Ch 7:9). The particular form of expression
indicates that the fourteen days were not continuous. Some interval
occurred in consequence of the great day of atonement falling on the
tenth of the seventh month (1Ki 8:2), and
the last day of the feast of tabernacles was on the twenty-third (2Ch 7:10), when the people returned to
their homes with feelings of the greatest joy and gratitude "for all
the goodness that the Lord had done for David his servant, and for
Israel his people."