2 Chronicles 3

2 CHRONICLES CHAPTER 3

Building the Temple

        • ESV Study Bible notes, “The Chronicler’s actual account of the construction of the temple is much briefer than his source (1 Kings 6). The architectural details of 1 Kings 6:4-20a are passed over, as are the descriptions of the intricate carvings or stonework in 1 Kings 6:29-36. Instead, the Chronicler leads his readers in their imagination through the vestibule (2 Chron 3:4) into the ornate nave or Holy Place (vv. 5-7), then on to the Most Holy Place (vv. 8-13), partitioned off by the veil (v. 14). The numerous references to gold (vv. 4-10) and cherubim (vv. 7, 10-14) highlight the splendor of the temple as the heavenly King’s earthly palace. As its structure and furnishings indicate, it stood in continuity with the Mosaic tabernacle, at the same time exceeding it in beauty and opulence. The temple measured about 90 feet by 30 feet, so it was not particularly large compared to many modern church buildings, and it did not function as a place of congregational worship. Only priests would have been admitted into the temple itself, and only the high priest could enter the Most Holy Place, and only on the Day of Atonement.”

      • So Solomon began to build the house of Yahweh in Jerusalem, on Mount Moriah, where Yahweh had appeared to his father David. This was the place that David had prepared on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. He began building on the second day of the second month of the 4th year of his reign.

        • On the discrepancy regarding the name of the individual whose threshing floor was purchased [the Masoretic says ‘Ornan’ here], NET Bible explains, “In 2 Sam 24:16 this individual is called…(ʾaravna; traditionally ‘Araunah’). The form of the name found here also occurs in 1 Chr 21:15; 18-28.”

        • NLT Illustrated Study Bible provides the following comments:

          • While Kings emphasizes the time when the Temple was built, Chronicles places great emphasis on the Temple’s building site and the significance of the location. Geographically, it was in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, the place where the Lord had appeared to David; it was selected under David’s authority and it was the sacred place where the plague was stopped at the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. Abraham bound Isaac in the land of Moriah (Gen 22:2), and tradition associated the Temple Mount as the place where the Lord provided for Abraham (Gen 22:14).”

        • The book of Kings dates the beginning of the Temple construction in relation to the Exodus from Egypt (1 Kgs 6:1). Chronicles consistently omits references to the Exodus, perhaps to emphasize the continuous and abiding bond between the people, the land, and God.”

        • ESV Study Bible adds that, “Depending on which chronology is followed, this may have been in either 966 or 959 BC.”

      • The foundation Solomon laid for building the house of God (determined according to the old standard of measurement) was 90 feet long and 30 feet wide. The porch in front of the main hall was 30 feet long, corresponding to the width of the house, and it was 30 feet high. He plated the inside with pure gold. He paneled the main hall with evergreen wood, plated it with fine gold, and decorated it with palm trees and chains. He decorated the house with precious stones and the gold he used came from Parvaim. He overlayed the house’s rafters, thresholds, walls, and doors with gold. He carved cherubim on the walls.

        • Regarding the reference in the text to the unit of measure, NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible says, “The system of linear measurement used in ancient Israel was also employed in Egypt and Mesopotamia and was the result of standardizing commonly used measurements based on the length of fingers, hands (four fingers; length of the palm), and forearms (as horses are still measured in ‘hands’ today)… The Chronicler’s statement here reveals the fact that the standard of the cubit would have more than one option in the mind of his audience. While it is difficult to state unequivocally which cubit length the Chronicler had in view, the position is that the older standard cubit was somewhat longer (about 21 inches) than the more recent standard (about 18 inches). Using the longer cubit, Solomon’s temple would have been just over 100 feet long and 32 feet wide, not counting the portico/porch in the front of the temple, which measured 20 by 20 cubits (35 by 35 feet). Alternatively, if the shorter cubit was in view by the Chronicler, the temple would have measured 90 feet long and 30 feet wide. By way of comparison, and NBA basketball court is 94 feet long and 50 feet wide, making the length of the temple quite comparable and its width narrower by 20 feet.”

        • NET Bible remarks, “The location of Parvaim, the source of the gold for Solomon’s temple, is uncertain. Some have identified it with modern Farwa in Yemen; others relate it to the Sanskrit parvam and understand it to be a general term for the regions east of Israel.”

        • Since I was raised in an unorthodox sect that had an unhealthy obsession with decorations that may or may not have ties to or been used by pagan religions (think Christmas trees, evergreen wreaths, Christmas ornaments, rabbits and eggs at Easter, etc), the following information provided by the NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible on the palm tree, which Solomon used to decorate the temple, is of particular relevance:

          • palm tree. A common symbol of fertility, life and agricultural bounty in the ancient Near East, given the ubiquitous date fruit. As such, palm trees are found in palace and temple wall paintings (such as the prominent palm trees in the courtyard at the Mari palace) and on inscribed reliefs, and are referenced in texts.”

The Most Holy Place

      • He made the Most Holy Place 30 feet long, corresponding to the width of the house, and 30 feet wide. He plated it with 45,000 pounds of fine gold. The gold nails weighed 20 ounces. He also plated the walls of the upper rooms with gold. For the Most Holy Place he sculpted two cherubim and plated them with gold. The combined wingspan of the cherubim was 30 feet. One of the first cherub’s wings was 7 ½ feet long and touched one wall of the house; its other wing was also 7 ½ feet long and it touched one of the second cherub’s wings. Likewise, one of the second cherub’s wings was 7 ½ feet long and touched the other wall of the house; its other wing was also 7 ½ feet long and touched one of the first cherub’s wings. Their combined wingspan was 30 feet. They stood on their feet, facing the main hall. He made the curtain of blue, purple, and crimson fabrics and fine linen, and embroidered cherubim on it.

          • ESV Study Bible writes, “The Most Holy Place was the secret, cube-shaped room in which the ark of the covenant would be finally deposited (5:7). The cherubim were angelic beings that combined human and animal features (cf Ezek 10:14; 41:18-19) and served as throne-guards to the ark…The Most Holy Place was separated from the rest of the sanctuary by a veil as well as by doors (4:22). The inclusion of the veil signified the continuity of the temple with the Mosaic tabernacle (Ex 26:31-35). Herod’s temple was similarly arranged (Matt 27:51); the tearing of the veil at the death of Christ indicated that the ‘shadow’ of the Mosaic institutions had now given way to the final sacrifice of Christ, with all its benefits (see Heb 9:11-12; 10:1).”

        • NLT Illustrated Study Bible adds, “…Similar carvings have been found in Mesopotamia, Syria, and Canaan; such figures were a distinguishing feature of ancient thrones…Ancient temples found in Phoenicia show the throne of the deity supported by two animals. The sides of ancient Canaanite thrones were commonly shaped as cherubs. The cherubs of Solomon’s temple were distinct because they were not designed to serve as a human throne. They were attached to the Ark, which was the footstool to God’s throne, with the wings touching in the middle and extending to the walls of the throne room. There was no actual seat to the throne, since none was necessary.”

        • NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible includes some very interesting remarks regarding the massive amounts of gold used according to the text, “Temple building texts customarily list the various precious metals used to construct everything from gold sun disks to bronze fastening pegs. The covering of the interior of a temple in gold is attested in several ancient Near Eastern temple projects…In this text the 600 talents used inside the Most Holy Place would be equivalent to about 23 tons of gold, while the weight of the gold ‘nails’ or pegs amounts to about 1.25 pounds each. While the amount of gold indicated here is significant, it is not without points of comparison to other ancient Near Eastern texts summarizing royal temple donations…Later, the tenth-century BC pharoah Osorkon I enumerates gifts he provided for the various gods and goddesses of Egypt, totaling 375 tons of gold and silver. Osorkon’s father was Shishak, who had invaded Israel and had been paid massive amounts of gold and silver that had belonged to Solomon. Therefore, the gift Osorkon made to the gods may well have been inherited from his father, who either received it in tribute or plundered it from Solomon’s successor…Thus, within this broader historical context, the 600 talents of gold recorded in Solomon’s temple project should not be dismissed by a modern reader as unrealistic.”

The Bronze Pillars

      • In front of the house he made two pillars which had a combined length of 52 ½ feet, with each having a 7 ½ foot high capital on top. He made interwoven chains and put them on the tops of the pillars. He also made 100 pomegranates and attached them to the chains. He set the pillars up in front of the temple, one on the south side (right) and the other on the north side (left). He named the one on the south side (right) Jakin, and the one on the north side (left) Boaz.

          • NET Bible points out, “The significance of the measure ’35 cubits’ (52.5 feet or 15.75 m, assuming a cubit of 18 inches) for the ‘length’ of the pillars is uncertain. According to 1 Kgs 7:15, each pillar was 18 cubits (27 feet or 8.1 m) high. Perhaps the measurement given here was taken with the pillars lying end-to-end on the ground before they were set up.”

        • ESV Study Bible says, “Jachin (‘he establishes’); Boaz (‘in him is strength’). The names may signify that Yahweh establishes his covenant through the temple.”

        • NLT Illustrated Study Bible writes, “Jakin (‘he establishes’) might refer to God’s promise regarding the kingdom (see 1 Chr 17:7-14). Boaz (‘in him is strength’) might have been a proclamation of trust in God. The gilded reliefs of cherubs, palms, and flowers adorning the doors and walls of the Temple suggest that the pillars were related to the tree of life (Gen 2:9).”

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