Through the Bible in a Year: 1 Kings 5-8

This Week’s Readings

Monday, June 4: 1 Kings 1-4
Tuesday, June 5: 1 Kings 5-8
Wednesday, June 6: 1 Kings 9-12
Thursday, June 7: 1 Kings 13-17
Friday, June 8: 1 Kings 18-22

The overall year’s plan is here.

1 Kings 5

A lot of people worked on the building of the temple. There were 3300 supervisors, and it appears there were about 180,000 workers. Quite a project!

One of the groups said to be working on the project were the Gebalites (v. 18). Gebal was a city right on the Mediterranean coast south of Israel. For some reason, the KJV translates Gebalites as "stonesquarers." Since Gebal means "a boundary," I don’t know where they got that translation from, but no one translates it that way today. The Septuagint, the 2000-year-old Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures, dodges the whole issue. It doesn’t include verse 18!

1 Kings 6

The temple was approximately 90’x30′, or 2,700 square feet. It was 45 feet tall.

There were additional rooms built outside the wall of the temple on the side, extending out up to seven cubits. Apparently, the wall was built step-style, so that a first, second, and third story of rooms, for the priests to live in, could be five, six, and seven cubits long, extending out from the wall, and the extra length would rest on the ledges in the wall.

This would have added about 20 more feet to the width of the temple.

Verse 7 is a great analogy of God’s work in us. All the work on the stones was done in the quarry. Once the stone was transported to the temple, it was simply set in place. No hammer, axe, or chisel was applied to the stone once it was part of the temple.

That is why it is so important for us to walk by the Spirit and allow God to mold us, even through trials and tribulations. This life is the quarry. Once we leave it, no more work is being done on us. We need to be ready to be dropped into the spiritual house of which we are living stones, the eternal dwelling place of God (1 Pet. 2:4-5).

The house had a sanctuary, the holy of holies, at the end which took the last 20 cubits (30 feet) of the house. It apparently had its own ceiling of cedar, too, because the holy of holies was only 20 cubits high, 15 feet short of the height of the whole temple.

The holy of holies was an exact cube, 30 feet wide, long, and high. New Jerusalem is an exact cube, too. It is mentioned in Revelation, a book full of figurative language, and New Jerusalem’s dimensions are so huge (around 1500 miles each dimension, including its height) that it is clear that it is symbolic of something (Rev. 20:16).

I’ll leave the symbolism of the exact cube to you. I have some ideas, but I’m not confident enough about any of them to want to get in the way of whatever the Lord would give you or you can come up with.

The altar mentioned in verses 20 and 22 has to be the altar of incense, not the large one for burning sacrifices, because it is said to be next to the inner sanctuary.

The problem is that the golden altar of incense is mentioned again in 7:48 along with a lot of other furniture that hadn’t been mentioned yet. 7:48 sounds like it is the altar incense, and there’s no reference in either chapter to the large altar for sacrifices.

It’s pretty confusing, but commentators seem to just accept the idea that 1 Kings 6:20 and 22 are referring to the altar of incense.

1 Kings 7

I have trouble picturing Solomon’s house. It had a hall of pillars that took up more than 1/4 of the house, a hall for the throne from which he judged, and his own home. It was 150 feet by 75 feet, so it was quite large, about 11,000 square feet.

It’s interesting to me that the pillars of the temple were named: Jachin and Boaz (v. 21). Jachin means "he will establish," and Boaz means "fleetness" or "strength." So their names basically say, "God will establish quickly" or "God will establish firmly."

Hiram made an elaborate basin, about 15 feet in diameter, standing on oxen. It held 2,000 baths. Since a bath was approximately nine gallons, that meant it could hold 180,000 gallons!

The basin was for priests to wash in before they offered sacrifices.

1 Kings 8

The ark of the covenant is brought to the Lord’s house. We read that only Moses two tablets are in it. Then Solomon refers to those two tablets as "the covenant of the LORD" (v. 21). Once again we are told that the 10 commandments qualify as the Old Covenant.

This day is probably the height of Israel’s glory. They are at peace. They have no enemies that can stand against them. They have just built the temple and the king’s house. They are wealthy enough to 142,000 animals as peace offerings. (Remember, in peace offerings, most of the meat is eaten by the priests and the offerers. It’s the fat and innards that are burned on the altar. There must have been quite a crowd there to eat all that meat!)

The rest of the history of Israel moves along very quickly. They never again achieved the heights that they held under Solomon. In fact, the nation was split in two during the reign of Solomon’s son. But we will get to that in a couple of days.

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