SOLOMON'S BUILDINGS AND UNDERTAKINGS.—So far the historian has spoken exclusively of the two greatest works of Solomon's reign, the Temple and the Palace, and principally of the former. Even the message just related was, as we have seen, the response to the prayer offered when the temple was consecrated. But he now proceeds to mention other proofs of Solomon's greatness, and of the prosperity of his reign—doubtless because the glory of Israel then reached its climax, and the author would be tempted to linger over these details because of the dark contrast which his own time supplied—and this leads him to speak of the means by which all these enterprises were accomplished. The particulars here given are but fragmentary, and are grouped together in a somewhat irregular manner. It would seem as if both this account and that of the chronicler had been compiled from much more copious histories, each writer having cited those particulars which appeared to him to be the most interesting and important. But the design of the historian in either case is evident, viz.,
(1) to recount the principal undertakings of this illustrious king, and
These latter were
1 Kings 9:10
And it came to pass at the end of twenty years [seven of which were occupied on the temple and thirteen on the palace (1 Kings 7:1) ], when [or, during which. LXX. ἐν οἷς ὠκοδομὴσε. This may well be the meaning of אֲשׁר בָּנָה, though אֲשֶׁר, qui, undoubtedly sometimes has the sense of quum] Solomon had built the two houses, the house of the Lord and the king's house. [Observe how all the palaces are regarded as one house. Note on 1 Kings 7:1.]
1 Kings 9:11
(Now Hiram the king of Tyre [Here we have a parenthesis referring us back to 1 Kings 5:8-10] had furnished Solomon with cedar trees and with fir trees and with gold [The gold is here mentioned for the first time, No doubt Hiram's shipping had brought it in Before the Jewish navy was built. It was this probably that led to the construction of a fleet] according to all his desire), that then [this is the apodosis to 1 Kings 9:10] king Solomon gave Hiram twenty cities [really they were mere villages. "It is a genuine Eastern trick to dignify a small present with a pompous name" (Thomson). But עִיר is a word of very wide meaning] in the land of Galilee. גּלִיל lit; circuit, region (like Ciccar, 1 Kings 7:46), hence often found as here with the art. = the region of the Gentiles (Isaiah 9:1; 1 Macc. 5:15; Matthew 4:15), so called because it was inhabited by Phoenicians, originally designated but a small part of the considerable tract of country later known as the province of "Galilee," viz; the northern part in the tribe of Naphtali (Joshua 20:7; 2 Kings 15:29; Isaiah 9:1. Cf. Jos; Ant. 5.1.18). It is easy to see why this particular region was surrendered to Hiram.
1 Kings 9:12
And Hiram came out from Tyre to see the cities which Solomon had given him; and they pleased him not. [Heb. were not right in his eyes. It has been conjectured that Hiram had hoped for the noble bay of Acco or Ptolemais (Milman, Rawlinson), but surely he had seaboard enough already. It was rather corn lands he would most need and desire. His disappointment is amply accounted for by the fact that the country assigned him was a hungry and mountainous, and therefore comparatively useless, tract. "The region lay on the summit of a broad mountain ridge" (Porter).]
1 Kings 9:13
And he said, What cities are these which thou hast given me, my brother? [Cf. 1 Kings 20:32. It would seem, at first sight, as if this form of speech was then, as now, the usage of courts. But the Fellahin of Palestine, the "modern Canaanites," still address each other as "my father" or "my brother." See Conder, "Tent-work," p. 332]. And he called them the land of Cabul [The meaning of this word is quite uncertain. The LXX. reads οριον, which shows that they must have read גבול instead of כבול; indeed, it is possible that the words have the same meaning (Gesen.) Stanley thinks these cities formed the boundary between the two kingdoms, and refers to the use of ὅρια in Matthew 15:21; Luke 6:17, etc. According to Josephus, χαβαλὼν, is a Phoenician word, meaning displeasing; but his etymologies are to be received with caution, and Gesenius justly pronounces this a mere conjecture from the context. Thenius and Ewald regard the word as compounded of כ and בל = as nothing; Keil connects it with the root חבל, which would yield the meaning pawned or pledged, and hence concludes that, this strip of territory was merely given to Hiram as a security for the repayment of a loan (see below on Luke 6:14); while Bähr derives it from כבל, an unused root, akin to the preceding—vinxit, constrinxit, and would see in it a name bestowed on the region because of its confined geographical position. He does not understand the word, however, as a term of contempt. "How," he asks, "could Hiram give the district a permanent name which contained a mockery of himself rather than of the land?" But the word was obviously an expression of disparagement, if not disgust, which, falling from Hiram's lips, was caught up and repeated with a view to mark not so much his displeasure as Solomon's meanness. But it is not necessary to find a meaning for the word, for it is to be considered that a city Bearing this name existed at that time and in this neighbourhood (Joshua 19:27 ), the site of which, in all probability, is marked by the modern Kabul, eight miles east of Accho. It is possible, indeed, that it may have been one of the "twenty cities" (Luke 6:11) given to Hiram. And if this city, whether within or without the district of Galilee, were notorious for its poverty or meanness, or conspicuous by its bleak situation, we can at once understand why Hiram should transfer the name to the adjoining region, even if that name, in itself, had no special significance] unto this day. [See on 1 Kings 8:8.]
1 Kings 9:14
And Hiram sent וַיִּשְלַח must be understood as pluperfect, "Now Hiram had sent," referring to 1 Kings 9:11. This fact is mentioned to explain the gift of the cities, viz; that they were in payment for the gold he had furnished. The timber and stone and labour had been paid for in corn and wine and oil See on 1 Kings 5:11] to the king sixscore talents of gold. [This sum is variously estimated at from half a million to a million and a quarter of our money.. Keil, who, as we have seen, interprets Cabul to mean pledged, says somewhat positively that these 120 talents were merely lent to Solomon to enable him to prosecute his undertakings, and that the twenty cities were Hiram's security for its repayment. He further sees in the restoration of these cities (2 Chronicles 8:2, where see note) a proof that Solomon must have repaid the amount lent him. The "sixscore talents "should be compared with the 120 talents of 1 Kings 10:10, and the 666 talents of 1 Kings 10:14.]
1 Kings 9:15
And this is the reason [or manner, account, דָּבָר . Keil: "This is the case with regard to," etc. The historian now proceeds to speak of the forced labour. The LXX. inserts this and the next nine verses after 1 Kings 10:22] of the levy [see on 1 Kings 5:13, and 1 Kings 12:18] which Solomon raised; for to build [The punctuation of the A.V. is misleading. The Hebrew has no break—"which Solomon raised for building," etc.] the house of the Lord and his own house and Millo [Heb. invariably, the Millo, as in 2 Samuel 5:9; 1 Kings 11:27; 2 Kings 12:20; 2 Chronicles 32:5; LXX. ἡ ἄκρα. The import of the word is much disputed, but Wordsworth has but slight warrant for say. ing that it means fortress. According to some it is an archaic Canaanitish term, "adopted by the Israelites when they took the town and incorporated into their own nomenclature", an idea which finds some support in 9:6, 9:20. Mr. Grove would further see in it a name for Mount Zion, ἀκρα being the invariable designation of that part of the city in the Maccabees. But see Joshua, B. J. 5.4. 1; Ant. 15.11. 5; and Porter, 1. pp. 96, 109. Lewin identifies it with the great platform on which temple and palace alike were built. But the word yields a definite meaning in the (= מְלוֹא , "the filling in"). Gesenius Hebrew consequently understands it to mean, a rampart (agger) because this is built up and filled in with stones, earth, etc. And the name would have a special fitness if we might suppose that it was applied to that part of the wall of Jerusalem which crossed the Tyropaeon valley. This ravine, which practically divided the city into two parts, would have been the weakest spot in the line of circumvallation, unless it were partly filled in—it is now completely choked up by debris, etc.—and protected by special fortifications; and, if this were done, and we can hardly doubt it was done (see on 1 Kings 11:27), Hammillo, "the filling in," would be its natural and appropriate name. And its mention, here and elsewhere, in connexion with the wall, lends some support to this view] and the wall of Jerusalem [We learn from 2 Samuel 5:9 that David had already built Millo and the wall. Rawlinson argues from 1 Kings 11:27 that these repairs had been "hasty, and had now—fifty years later—fallen into decay," and that Solomon renewed them. More probably the words indicate an enlargement of the Tyropaeon rampart, and an extension of the walls. See note there and on 1 Kings 3:1. Solomon, no doubt, wished to strengthen the defences of the capital, on which he had expended so much labour, and where there was so much to tempt the rapacity of predatory neighbours] and Hazor [For the defence of the kingdom he built a chain of fortresses "to form a sort of girdle round the land" (Ewald). The first mentioned, Hazor, was a place of great importance in earlier times, being the "head of all those (the northern) kingdoms" (Joshua 11:10). It stood on an eminence—as indeed, for the sake of security, did all the cities of that lawless age—overlooking Lake Merom. It was at no great distance from the north boundary of Palestine, in Naphtali (Joshua 19:36), and being favoured by position, it was strongly fortified—Hazor means fortress—and hence Joshua made a point of destroying it. It appears, however, to have speedily regained its importance, for in 4:2, 4:17 we find it as the capital of Jabin, king of Canaan. It was selected by Solomon as the best site for a stronghold, which should protect his northern border, dud as commanding the approach from Syria. As it is not mentioned in 1 Kings 15:20, it would appear to have escaped in the invasion of Benhadad. Possibly it was too strong for him] and Megiddo [Joshua 12:21; Joshua 17:11; 5:19. This place was chosen partly because of its central position—it stood on the margin of the plain of Esdraelon, the battlefield of Palestine, and the battles fought there prove its strategical importance, 5:19 (cf. 1 Samuel 31:1); 2 Kings 23:29; Judith 3:9, 10—and partly, perhaps, because the high road from Egypt to Damascus passed through it. It dominated the passes of Ephraim (see Judith 4:7). It has till recently been identified with el-Lejjun (from Legio. Compare our Chester, etc.); but Conder gives good reasons for fixing the site at the "large ruins between Jezreel and Bethshean, which still bears the name of Mujedd'a, i.e; on the eastern side of the plain] and Gezer [This commanded the approach from Egypt, and would protect the southern frontier of Solomon's kingdom. See Joshua 10:33; Joshua 12:12; Joshua 21:21; 1:29; 2 Samuel 5:25; 1 Chronicles 20:4. It stands on the great maritime plain, and is also on the coast road between Egypt and Jerusalem. The site was identified by M. Clermont Ganneau with Tell Jezer. The name means "cut off," "isolated" (Gesen.) "The origin of the title is at once clear, for the site is an out-lier—to use a geological term—of the main line of hills and the position commands one of the important passes to Jerusalem".
The mention of Gezer leads to a parenthesis of considerable length (verses 16-19). The question of the levy is put aside for the time, whilst the historian explains how it was that the king came to build Gezer. He then proceeds to mention the other towns built during the same reign.
1 Kings 9:16
For Pharaoh king of Egypt had gone up and taken Gezer and burnt it with fire [The total destruction of the place and its inhabitants by fire and sword looks more like an act of vengeance for some grave offence than like ordinary warfare], and slain the Canaanites that dwelt in the city [Though Gezer was allotted to Ephraim (Joshua 16:3) and designated as a Levitical city (ib; 1 Kings 21:21), the Canaanite inhabitants had never been dispossessed (Joshua 16:10; LXX. "Canaanites and Perizzites;" cf. 1:29), and they would seem to have enjoyed a sort of independence], and given it for a present [ שִׁלֻחִים, dotatio, dowry. It is the custom of the East for the husband to purchase his wife by a present (Genesis 29:18 ; 2 Samuel 3:14, etc.); but in royal marriages a dowry was often given. "Sargon gave Cilicia as a dowry with his daughter .... Antiochus Soter gave his claims on Macedonia as a dowry to his step-daughter Phila, when she married Antigonus Gonatas. Coele-Syria and Palestine were promised as a dowry to Ptolemy Epiphanes, when he married Cleopatra, sister of Antiochus the Great," etc. (Rawlinson). Gezer being a wedding present, its conquest must have taken place years before the date to which the history is now brought down] unto his daughter, Solomon's wife.
1 Kings 9:17
And Solomon built Gezer [In the case of Gezer it was an actual rebuilding. But as applied to Beth-boron, etc; "built" probably means enlarged, strengthened] and Beth-horon the nether [mentioned in connexion with Gezer, Joshua 16:3 (cf. Joshua 10:10). It is deserving of mention that the two cities of Beth-horon still survive in the modern villages of Beitur el-tahta and el-fok," names which are "clearly corruptions of Beth-horon "the Nether" and "the Upper": One lies at the foot of the ravine, on an eminence, the other at the summit of the pass. Like Megiddo and Gezer, this town, too, lay on a high road, viz; that between Jerusalem and the sea coast. The selection of Beth-horon for fortification by Solomon is also justified by history—three decisive battles having been fought here
] and Tadmor in the wilderness, in the land. [Whether this is
Against it, however, may be urged
In favour of (2) are these facts:
1 Kings 9:19
And all the cities of store that Solomon had [cities where the produce of the land was stored for the use of the troops or household, or against a season of scarcity (Genesis 41:35; Exodus 1:11), or possibly (Ewald) they were emporiums for the development of trade. The fact that these store cities are mentioned in the same breath with Tadmor, is an argument for the identification of that place with Palmyra, which Solomon could only have built as a means of gaining or retaining control over the caravan trade between the East and the Mediterranean. Cf. 2 Chronicles 17:12; 2 Chronicles 32:28, and Genesis 41:48. They would seem to have been chiefly on the northern frontier, 2 Chronicles 8:4 ("in Hamath"), ib. 2 Chronicles 16:4 speaks of "the store cities of Napthali." It should be remembered that Solomon had an adversary in Damascus], and cities for his chariots, and cities for his horsemen [Cf. 1 Kings 4:26. These were not so much fortresses (1 Kings 4:15-18) as places adapted to accommodate his cavalry, etc. For horsemen we should perhaps read horses. See note on 1 Kings 5:6], and that which Solomon desired to build [Heb. and the desire of Solomon which he desired; cf. ver.
1. The use of the cognate verb refutes the idea that Solomon's "desire" is another name for pleasure buildings or pleasaunces, as does also "desire" in verse 11. It is certain, however, that such buildings were erected, and it is probable that they are referred to here] in Jerusalem and in Lebanon [It is highly probable that pleasure houses were built in Lebanon (So Hebrews 7:4, passim), for which Solomon may well have had a strong affection, and pleasure gardens in Jerusalem (Ecclesiastes 2:4-7). See Stanley, pp. 197-199); and we may reasonably imagine (with Ewald) that in these latter he sought to grow specimens of the plants, etc; about which he "spoke" (Hebrews 4:1-16 :33; cf. Ecclesiastes 2:5). "It is a curious fact that in the ground hard by the 'fountains of Solomon' near Bethlehem, which exhibit manifest traces of an ancient garden, and where the intimations of Josephus would lead us to suppose that Solomon had a rural retreat, are still to be found a number of plants self sown from age to age, which do not exist in any other part of the Holy Land". Some of Solomon's journeys to these favourite resorts, we can hardly doubt, are referred to in So Hebrews 3:6-10; Hebrews 4:8 sqq.; Hebrews 6:11] and in all the land of his dominion.
1 Kings 9:20
And all the people that were left of the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites [ 1:21-36; 3:5; 1 Chronicles 22:2] which were not of the children of Israel.
1 Kings 9:21
Their children that were left after them in the land [this is explicative of 1 Kings 9:20], whom the children of Israel also [also is not in the Hebrew, and is meaningless] were not able utterly to destroy, upon those did Solomon levy a tribute of bond service [see on 1 Kings 5:13, and cf. 1:1-36; passim, and 1 Chronicles 22:2] unto this day.
1 Kings 9:22
But of the children of Israel did Solomon make no bondmen [see however 1 Kings 5:13, 1 Kings 5:18. This service, though compulsory, was not servile. Bondage was forbidden Le 25:39. The levy were treated as hired servants and had wages]; but they were men of war, and his servants [cf. 1 Kings 1:9. Not only "officials of the war department" (Bähr) but officers of every kind], and his princes [these were the heads both of the military and civil services], and his captains [Heb. שָׁלִשָׁיו . LXX. τρωτάται. Exodus 14:7; Exodus 15:4; 2 Samuel 23:8; 2 Kings 9:25; 2 Kings 10:25, etc. These third men were really "a noble rank of soldiers who fought from chariots" (Gesen.), each of which would seem to have held three men, one of whom drove, while two fought: thence used of the bodyguard of kings. That they formed a corps, and were not literally "captains," is clear from 1 Samuel 23:8, etc.] and rulers of his chariots, and his horsemen.
1 Kings 9:23
These were the chief of the Officers that were over Solomon's work; five hundred and fifty, which bare rule over the people that wrought in the work [see on 1 Kings 5:16].
1 Kings 9:24
But [ אַךְ, lit. only. Keil rightly connects the word with אַז below. "So soon as.. then." Cf. Genesis 27:30. This and Genesis 27:25 are not interposed arbitrarily, as might at first sight appear, but refer to 1 Kings 3:1-4. The completion of the palaces rendered it no longer necessary or proper that Solomon's daughter should dwell in a separate house. The chronicler tells us that she had dwelt in David's palace on Mount Zion, and that Solomon was constrained to remove her, because he looked upon all the precinct as now consecrated (2 Chronicles 8:11) ]. Pharaoh's daughter came up [ עָלְתָה . Keil hence argues that the palace stood on higher ground than David's house. But this conclusion is somewhat precarious. The approach to the palace involved an ascent, but Zion was certainly as high as Ophel] out of the city of David unto her house which Solomon [Heb. he] had built for her: then did he build Millo. [Thenius infers from these words that Mille was a fort or castle for the protection of the harem. But there is no warrant for any such conjecture. In the first place, this wife would seem to have been lodged in her own palace apart from the other wives.
2. We can offer a better explanation of the word Mille (see verse 15).
3. The word "then" may mean either
(1), that when her palace was completed, Solomon then had workmen who were liberated and were employed on Mille (Keil), or
(2), that when she vacated David's house, the building of Mille could be proceeded with.
1 Kings 9:25
And three times in a year [i.e; no doubt at the three feasts, the times of greatest solemnity, and when there was the largest concourse of people. See 2 Chronicles 8:12. The design of this verse may be to show that there was no longer any offering on high places. It would thus refer to 1 Kings 3:2, as 1 Kings 3:24 to 1 Kings 3:1] did Solomon offer burnt offerings and peace offerings upon the altar which he built unto the Lord [the chronicler adds, "before the porch"], and he burnt incense. [It has been supposed by some that Solomon sacrificed and burnt incense propria manu. According to Dean Stanley, "he solemnly entered, not only the temple courts with sacrifices, but penetrated into the Holy Place itself, where in later years none but the priests were allowed to enter, and offered incense on the altar of incense." But this positive statement is absolutely destitute of all basis. For, in the first place, there is nothing in the text to support it. If Solomon ordered, or defrayed the cost of, the sacrifices, etc; as no doubt he did, the historian would properly and naturally describe him as offering burnt offerings. Qui facit per alium facit per se, and priests are expressly mentioned as present at these sacrifices (1 Kings 8:6; 2 Chronicles 5:7-14; 2 Chronicles 7:2, 2 Chronicles 7:5). We have just as much reason, and no more, for believing that the king built Mille (1 Kings 3:24) with his own hands, and with his own hands "made a navy of ships" (1 Kings 3:26), as that he sacrificed, etc; in propria persona. And, secondly, it is simply inconceivable, if he had so acted, that it should have attracted no more notice, and that our historian should have passed it over thus lightly. We know what is recorded by our author as having happened when, less than two centuries afterwards, King Uzziah presumed to intrude on the functions of the priests (2 Chronicles 26:17-20); cf. 1 Kings 13:1), and we know what had happened some five centuries before (Numbers 16:35), when men who were not of the seed of Aaron came near to offer incense before the Lord. It is impossible that Solomon could have disregarded that solemn warning without some protest, or without a syllable of blame on the part of our author. And the true account of these sacrifices is that they were offered by the king as the builder of the temple, and probably throughout his life, by the hands of the ministering priests (2 Chronicles 8:14). Thrice in the year he showed his piety by a great function, at which he offered liberally] upon the altar [Heb. upon that, sc. altar אתּוֹ . See Gesen. Lex; p. 94; Ewald, Syntax, 332a (3) ] that was before the Lord. [The altar of incense stood before the entrance to the oracle, the place of the Divine presence. See on 1 Kings 6:22-23. So he finished the house. [Same word, but in the Kal form in 1 Kings 7:51. The Piel form, used here, may convey the deeper meaning, "he perfected," i.e; by devoting it to its proper use. It was to be "a house of sacrifice" (2 Chronicles 7:12).
1 Kings 9:26
And king Solomon made a navy of ships [Heb. אֱנִי, a collective noun, classis. The chronicler paraphrases by אֱנִיוֹת, plural. This fact finds a record here, probably because it was to the voyages of this fleet that the king was indebted for the gold which enabled him to erect and adorn the buildings recently described.. But no historian could pass over without notice an event of such profound importance to Israel as the construction of its first ships, which, next to the temple, was the great event of Solomon's reign] in Ezion-geber [lit; the backbone of a man (or giant). Cf. Numbers 33:35; Deuteronomy 2:8; 2 Kings 4:22; 2 Chronicles 8:17. The name is probably due, like Shechem (see note on 1 Kings 12:25) to a real or fancied resemblance in the physical geography of the country to that part of the human body. Stanley speaks of "the jagged ranges on each side of the gulf." Akaba, the modern name, also means back. 2 Chronicles l.c. says Solomon went to Ezion-geber, which it is highly probable he would do], which is beside [Heb. אֵת =aloud (Gesen; Lex. s.v.)] Eloth [lit; trees akin to Elim, where were palm trees (Exodus 15:27; Exodus 16:1). The name is interesting as suggesting that Solomon may have found some of the timber for the construction of his fleet here. A grove of palm trees "still exists at the head of the gulf of Akaba". Palms, it is true, are not adapted to shipbuilding, but other timber may have grown there in a past age. But see note on verse 27. For Elath, see Porter, p. 40; Deuteronomy 2:8; 2 Samuel 8:14 (which shows how it passed into the hand of Israel); 2 Kings 8:20; 2 Kings 14:22; 2 Kings 16:6. It gave a name to the Elanitic Gulf, now the Gulf of Akaba], on the shore [Heb. lip] of the Red sea [Heb. Sea of Rushes. LXX. ἡ ἐρυθρὰ θάλασσα. The redness is due to subaqueous vegetation. "Fragments of red coral are forever being thrown up from the stores below, and it is these coral-line forests which form the true 'weeds' of this fantastic sea". There is also apparently a bottom of red sandstone. It is divided by the Sinaitic peninsula into two arms or gulfs, the western being the Gulf of Suez, and the eastern the Gulf of Akabah. The former is 130 miles, the latter 90 miles long], in the land of Edom. [The subjugation of Edom is mentioned 2 Samuel 8:14.]
1 Kings 9:27
And Hiram sent in the navy his servants, shipmen that had knowledge of the sea with the servants of Solomon. [The chronicler states (2 Chronicles 8:18) that he sent ships as well as servants, and it has been thought that ships were transported, in parts or entire, by land across the Isthmus of Suez, and there are certainly instances on record of the land transport of fleets. the Peloponnesians conveyed 60 ships from Corcyra across the Leucadian Isthmus, etc.) But this, especially when the state of engineering science, etc; among the Hebrews is taken into account, is hardly to be thought of. It is quite possible, however, that timber for shipbuilding was floated on the Mediterranean down to the river of Egypt, or some such place, and then transported either to Suez or to Akaba. Probably all that the chronicler means is that Hiram provided the materials and had the ships built. The Israelites, having hitherto had no fleet, and little or no experience of the sea, were unable to construct ships for themselves. And the Tyrians may have seen in the construction of a fleet for eastern voyages, an opening for the extension of their own maritime trade. Possibly in the first voyages Tyriaus and Jews were copartners.]
1 Kings 9:28
And they came to Ophir [It is perhaps impossible to identify this place with any degree of precision. The opinions of scholars may, however, be practically reduced to two, The first would place Ophir in India; the second in southern Arabia. In favour of India is
1 Kings 9:25
The Two Altars of Judaism.
This text is somewhat remarkable as brining before us at the same moment the two altars of the Jewish Church—the great brazen altar of sacrifice and the golden altar of incense. The present is therefore, perhaps, a fitting place to study their use and significance.
For it is with good reason that they are here joined together. Though the ritual of the first was quite distinct from that of the second, yet each was an essential part of the same religious system; each was a centre of Hebrew worship. Moreover the second was the complement of the first. Incense was the appropriate adjunct of sacrifice. And the two together formed practically the sum of the ordinary ceremonial of the children of the old covenant.
The altars themselves, however, will require but little notice, for they both alike derived their interest and importance from the purposes they served. The altar of sacrifice is not even mentioned by our historian in his account of the temple arrangements; while the chronicler dismisses it in a single verse. And neither the Kings nor the Chronicles describe the size, structure, etc; of the altar of incense. It is true the altar "sanctified the gift" (Matthew 23:19; Exodus 29:1-46 :87, 44), perhaps sanctified the incense also (but see Exodus 30:1-38 :85-37), but all the same, the sacrifice and the incense, not the brazen or the golden altars, are the important and significant things. The two altars, that is to say, really bring before us the two questions of Sacrifice and Incense.
I. THE ALTAR OF SACRIFICE. But before we turn our thoughts to the sacrifices smoking on the altar, let us glance for a moment at the altar itself. Observe—
1. Its position. Outside the temple, the "house of sacrifice" (2 Chronicles 7:12; Matthew 23:35), but in the court of the priests, and, therefore, exclusively for the service of the priests.
2. Its dimensions. It was fifteen feet high, and its top was a square of thirty feet (2 Chronicles 4:1). It was designedly high—the altar of the tabernacle was but four and a half feet high. It was high, despite the inconveniences resulting therefrom. The height required that a ledge or platform should be constructed round it; that a long slope or flight of steps should be ascended in order to reach it; and that the layers and sea should be high in proportion (1 Kings 7:23, 1 Kings 7:25, 1 Kings 7:27, 1 Kings 7:38). Its great size and capacity—it presented a superficies of 900 square feet—was because of the great number of victims which were occasionally offered upon it at one time.
3. Its horns. These were no freak of the architect, but were of the essence of the structure, and of Divine obligation (Exodus 27:2). The blood was put upon them (Exodus 29:12; Le Exodus 4:7,Exodus 4:18, Exodus 4:30, 34; Exodus 8:15; Exodus 9:9, etc.); the sacrifice, at least in early times, was bound to them (Psalms 118:27); the suppliant for life clung to them (1 Kings 1:50; 1 Kings 2:28, etc.) The altar was designed, that is to say, for sacrifice; but it also served at the same time for sanctuary.
And now let us look at the sacrifice, at "the gift upon the altar." Observe—
1. It is an offering. Whatever the character of the sacrifice, burnt offering, sin offering, peace offering, meat offering, it was an offering, a gift. Whether whole bullocks were consumed, or only the fat, kidneys, etc; it had been first consecrated, devoted, given, to God. This is, perhaps, the primary idea of sacrifice. The victim must be presented before it could be immolated.
2. It was ordinarily an offering made by fire (1 Samuel 2:28). The holy fire kindled by God (Le 1 Kings 9:24), and which for long centuries was never suffered to go out (Le 1 Kings 6:13), the element which at that time, and ever since, has been regarded in the East as an image of the Godhead, if not a sign of His presence, this consumed everything. The tongues of flame not only carried the smoke and smell of the sacrifice—hecatomb, holocaust, whatever it was—up into the blue sky and to the throne of God, but they, so to speak, devoured the victim; they feasted on the sacrifice.
3. It was an offering of life. Not only was this a matter of fact—that the victim was first slain, then offered on the altar, but this idea was expressed in the ritual of the sacrifice. The blood was poured out at the foot of the altar, or sprinkled on its horns, or borne into the most holy place. But the blood is the life of the flesh (Le 1 Kings 17:11), and hence the sprinkling of the blood was the core and centre of all sacrifice. The very separation of the elements again—the blood poured in one place, the flesh or fat burnt at another—pictured death; for when the blood is withdrawn from the body death ensues. The consuming fire, too, spoke of death. So that in sacrifice men offered to God the most mysterious and precious of man's possessions and of God's gifts, the life, the ψυχή, which came from God and went back to God. It was an old and reasonable belief that the gods would have our nearest and dearest—see Tennyson's beautiful poem, "The Victim"—hence the gift to the altar was the life.
4. It was an offering for life. The full significance of sacrifice, we may readily believe, the Jew did not know. It is doubtful whether even the high priest comprehended the blessed meaning of those solemn rites in which he bore a part. But this they did know, that the life offered at the altar was an atonement for their life. The lex talionis, "an eye for an eye," etc. (Exodus 21:24), had taught them this. So had much of their expressive ceremonial, e.g; the laying of the hands on the head of the victim, etc. (Le 1 Kings 3:2; 1 Kings 4:4, etc.) So above all had the express words of Scripture, "The life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar for an atonement for your souls (Heb. lives, same word as above), for it is the blood that maketh atonement for the soul" (Heb. through the life, sc. of the blood) Le 1 Kings 17:11. They understood, that is, that sacrifice was not only eucharistic, but that it was also deprecatory and in some way expiatory. They hoped that it would somehow reconcile them and restore them to communion with God, the Life, the Anima animantium.
More than this, however, the Jewish worshipper did not see in the sacrifice. But for us who turn our gaze to Mount Moriah from the hill of Calvary, it has an additional significance. We may see in it—
5. A picture of the offering of Jesus Christ. An imperfect picture, no doubt—a shadow, a type, a parable, but still the outline is clear and distinct. We see here the priest, the victim, the altar, the mactation, the blood pouring, the elevation, the death. As a picture, indeed, all sacrifice "showed the Lord's death" (1 Corinthians 11:26) much more vividly and touchingly than the Holy Communion does.
6. A pleading of the death of Christ. This is the crown and blossom of sacrifice. It was an ἀνάμνησις, a silent but eloquent memorial before God. Only thus can we adequately explain the elaborate sacrificial system of Moses. From any other point of view sacrifices are, as Coleridge confessed, an enigma. But see in them tokens, memorials, pleadings of the one vicarious death, and all is clear. Then we can comprehend why they should have offered thousands of victims "year by year continually." Every bullock, every sheep, was, though the worshippers knew it not, a mute reminder of the one sacrifice for sin. Each was a foreshadowing of the death; the death of Him who is "the life" (John 14:6); each spoke to the heart of God of the precious blood of Christ. Let us trace the parallel a little more in detail.
1. The Altar prefigured the Cross.
"Lord, on the cross Thine arms were stretched,
To draw Thy people nigh," etc.
2. The Sacrifice prefigured the Crucifixion. It is hardly needful or possible here to point out in what manifold ways the various sacrifices of the Law foreshadowed the oblation of Calvary. It must suffice to say here that this too was a voluntary offering (Hebrews 9:14), a whole offering ( כָלִיל —cf. Hebrews 10:10, etc.), the grateful savour of which ascended (the idea of the word עֹלָה ) to heaven (Genesis 8:21; Ephesians 5:2); that the life was given (Matthew 20:28) and blood poured (1 Peter 1:2); that the blood was poured for the remission of sins (Matthew 26:28; Hebrews 9:22), and the life given for the life of the world (John 6:51). It is for us to lay our hands on the head of the sacrifice, and the analogy is complete. We must bring no offering of our own merits, but must take refuge under the arms of the Cross—
"Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to thy Cross I cling."
It must not be supposed, however, that because sacrifices, properly so called, have ceased, because they have found their blessed fulfilment in "the one offering," "once for all" (Hebrews 10:10, Hebrews 10:14), therefore the pictures and pleadings of that offering have ceased also. On the contrary, the death of Calvary, which cannot be repeated, is forever pleaded (Revelation 5:6) in the heavenly temple. In this sense it is a continual offering (Exodus 29:42). And it is also pleaded by the Church on earth. For the holy sacrament, like the sacrifice, tells of death, and of the same vicarious and victorious death. The sacrifice pleaded the merits of Him who should come; the sacrament the merits of One who has come. The first was, the second is, an ἀνάμνησις of the death which won our life.
II. THE ALTAR OF INCENSE. It is often forgotten that Judaism had two altars. But who shall say that the altar of incense was less important or less gracious than that of sacrifice.
A few simple questions will perhaps best bring this subject of incense before us. Let us therefore ask—
1. What was the incense! It was (see Exodus 30:34 sqq.)
2. Where was it offered? In two places. Occasionally in the most holy place; usually on the golden altar which stood before that place. Hence this altar is spoken of as "before the Lord," and is called "the altar that belongeth to the oracle" (1 Kings 6:22). It was clearly, therefore, and peculiarly an offering to God, whose throne was in the sanctuary, and whose palace was the temple. It was burnt before the Presence, whose seat was between the cherubim. Indeed, it is not improbable that it was only burnt outside the oracle, because the priests must not enter the most holy place. (The golden altar, as we have just seen, really "belonged to the oracle.") When the high priest did enter, on the day of atonement, the incense was burnt within the veil. And the Sadducees were accounted heretical because they contended that the incense might be kindled outside and then carried inside the holy of holies.
3. When was it burned? It was burned
4. By whom was it offered?
5. Why was it offered? Maimonides held that it was merely, or principally, designed to counteract the stench which would arise from the victims slain for the morning and evening sacrifice. Others have beheld in it merely a recognition of the majesty and sovereignty of God, and have seen its counterpart in the perfumes which were offered before the monarchs of the East (cf. Matthew 2:11). But a moment's reflection will show that both these conceptions are miserably inadequate and unworthy. It is inconceivable that so prominent and essential a part of the Jewish system can have had no higher meaning or have no analogue in Christianity. It is universally admitted that the brazen altar and its sacrifices were fall of symbolism. How can we think that while these prefigured Christ's death the golden altar and its incense foreshadowed nothing. No, they must have typified something, and something connected with the work of the eternal Son of God.
For observe, just as there is an altar raised on Calvary, just as there is a sacrificial altar of which we Christians eat (Hebrews 13:10), so is there an altar in heaven (Revelation 8:3). Nor will this surprise us if we bear in mind that the Mosaic worship was fashioned after the mode of the heavenly, and that the tabernacle and its furniture were made according to the pattern showed in the Mount.
What, then, did incense symbolize? Was it prayer? It has been very. generally supposed (after Psalms 141:2) to be an emblem of prayer. But this is a view which reflection hardly justifies. For
No, the incense offered day by day, and century after century, prefigured the gracious intercession of Christ, that intercession through which alone our prayers are presented, which alone ensures their acceptance, and without which sinful man cannot draw near to God. When the high priest entered the oracle, as the representative of the congregation, the cloud of incense must cover him lest he should die. We have but to notice how close is the correspondence between type and antitype to be convinced that this is its true meaning.
So that both the altars of Judaism speak to us of Christ: the one of His death, the other of His "endless life;" the first of the "one offering," the second of the ceaseless intercession. And between them they shadowed forth the fulness and completeness of our salvation. "We have an Advocate with the Father"—this is the gospel of the incense. "We have a great High Priest"—this is the evangel of incense and sacrifice alike.
HOMILIES BY A. ROWLAND
1 Kings 9:25
Our text appears at first sight to be introduced into this chapter in a superfluous and arbitrary manner. It is not without good reason, however, that this record of Solomon's religious worship stands between statements about his fortifications and his fleet. We have much to learn from the Old Testament method of blending the earthly with the spiritual, and of suffusing national enterprise with religion. The verse before us, read in connexion with the statement made in 1 Kings 3:2, indicates th