Esther 1-4: Esther and the King

It is typical to see Esther simply as a book about a woman coming out of her young shell of faith to stand firm and risk death at the hands of her otherwise tyrannical husband.  However, it is also one of the core books which firmly portray by contrast the relationship between the true husband and the Church, as well as a rare example of Christ being portrayed typologically by a woman.

These events take place approximately in the 5th century BC, a number of years prior to the events in Nehemiah after the events of Ezra.

Chapter 1

Note the immediate contrast between the struggle of the Israelites in Ezra and Nehemiah and the lavishness of the kingdom of Ahasuerus in the first chapter of Esther.  V.1-5 is almost a mockery of the state of Israel and its traditions – a seven day feast (held in the court of the garden and the king’s palace – v.5) which is comparable to the Feast of Booths described in Leviticus 23:34-39, except that it is not bookended by solemnity in remembrance of the sacrifice of Christ; rather, Ahasuerus’ pomposity is very much summarised in v.7-8 – “There is no compulsion” and each man can do as each man desired.  Note also the distinction between the feast which was for men (v.1-8) and the one versed description of the feast for women held by Queen Vashti (meaning “beautiful“) in v.9 where the women only celebrated in the palace that “belonged” to King Ahasuerus.  This verb “belonged” will be a common refrain throughout these chapters, as is the undermining of women a common theme.

Noticeably v.10 begins with “on the seventh day”, which is a repeat of Genesis where the LORD rested on the seventh day to enjoy His creation.  Yet, the opening chapters of Esther 1 is a direct mockery of Genesis 1; where the LORD spent seven days to provide a beautiful creation for man and woman’s joint enjoyment, the king’s feast culminated in bringing Queen Vashti to “show the peoples and the princes her beauty, for she was lovely to look at”.  Paul Blackham states in his Book by Book guide on Esther:

“The Garden of Eden is called the Garden of God in the Bible (Ezekiel 28:13; 31:8-9), so Xerxes holds his seven day celebration in the Garden of Xerxes for everybody in the capital Susa!  Xerxes seems to position himself as (at the very least) the mirror of the Living God on earth.

The pride of Xerxes is also shown by the way he decorated his ‘garden’.  His blue and purple linen seems to echo the courtyard of the tabernacle of the LORD described in Exodus 38.  The temple of Solomon in Jerusalem had been destroyed by the Babylonians about 150 years earlier, so there must have been records of the architecture and furnishings of the temple.  His use of the pillars with silver rings also indicates this kind of knowledge and symbolism.  He formed a pavement of precious metals and jewels (v.6).  If we remember the banquet with God in Exodus 24:9-11 or the throne room of heaven in Revelation 4:1-6 we get an insight into the way that Xerxes viewed himself.  If we remember that the book of Daniel had been written 100 years before we can understand how Xerxes got so much knowledge of heavenly realities.  A book of such literary and theological significance, written by such a high official in the empire, would certainly have been in the royal library.  Daniel’s work included a vision of the throne room of heaven (Daniel 7:9-14), so it is not too much to imagine that Xerxes saw himself as a Son of Man figure over all the nations.”

Such objectification of Vashti, though beautiful, is a far cry from the personal intimacy of the LORD who not only looks on us but embraces us and exalts us.  The LORD does not require Eve, nor does he require His ancient church Adam and Eve, to celebrate in a room separate from the garden and the king’s palace.  Contrarily, He celebrates with us in His garden of Eden, the ancient prototypical Temple.  Unsurprisingly, the king’s anger and drunkenness (c.f. Proverbs 20:1, 23:29-35) is atypical of and a direct contrast to the LORD’s patience and steadfast love.

As if this were not enough, these “wise men” (v.13) who were versed in law and judgment decided to brand Vashti as a poor example of how women should behave towards their husbands and immediately replace her with someone else.  It is heavily implied that their edict is unreasonable, and given that Vashti had upheld her duty towards the king and was an upright queen by way of the brief mention in v.9, their method of stifling her voice is most concerning when compared with the LORD’s edict in Ephesians 5:22-33.  Rather than love and die for her wife, Ahasuerus decided to oppress her and drive her away.

Further, this oppressive edict serves as a background and platform for Esther when she enters the scene.  Will she be like Vashti, beautiful but unloved and ultimately rebellious – in many ways similar to the old Israel (save that the king here is atypical of the LORD)?  Or will she be a new example for the women of Persia and Medes as a follower of Jesus?

Chapter 2

What nonsense that the king should listen to his advisors to replace the queen (v.1-4) – and what contrast it is that the LORD should never forsake His firstborn Israel in spite of His love for the Gentiles (Romans 11:11).  Yet, it is also this foolish plan (c.f. 2 Timothy 4:3) that the LORD used to further His glory, by introducing Mordecai (meaning “little man“), the uncle of Esther (meaning “a star“, the Persian name of Hadassah, meaning “myrtle” – a type of flowering plant, a family of trees and shrubs that are usually evergreen; myrtle plants often produce aromatic oils and are used in spices (e.g. cloves), and seems to indicate fertility and usefulness in Scripture – c.f. Isaiah 41:19; 55:13, Nehemiah 8:15, Zechariah 1:8, growing on the hills about Jerusalem).  Here is the little man of Israel, taken into captivity and living in Persia to bring up his cousin Esther (v.5-7) – a man who is godly, mindful of the rebuilding of Israel and was mentioned once in Ezra 2:2.  The first description of Esther is that she is immediately contrasted with Vashti – where Vashti is a beautiful queen who hosted a banquet for fellow women, Esther is a star who is also beautiful to look at but with a torn past of deceased parents (v.7).  Although Mordecai commanded Esther to not make known her people or kindred (v.10, repeated at v.20), this is firmly distinguished from his later rebuke in Esther 4:12-14 where she is to no longer remain silent.  This is often seen as an example of Mordecai commanding Esther to be wise as a serpent and innocent as a dove (Matthew 10:16), allowing Esther to enter into the realms of Ahasuerus and be the example that Vashti was not, securing the safety of the future of the Israelites.  Mordecai had a very firm understanding of his position under Ahasuerus’ rule, and did not seek to destroy his kingdom; rather, through His understanding of Romans 13, he upholds Ahasuerus (v.21-23) – though the king’s two eunuchs were angry with the king. Notice how Mordecai was “sitting at the king’s gate” (v.19, 21), the gate being a place of public government and judgment in Scripture (c.f. Genesis 23:10-20, 34:20-24; Deuteronomy 21:19, 22:15, 25:7; Ruth 4:11; Job 29:7; Lamentations 5:14).  This may indicate that Mordecai was appointed as a judge or government official, possibly due to Esther’s coronation, another example of the LORD’s care and love for Mordecai and his and Esther’s house – enabling him to continue to preserve Esther’s interests.  Although Esther is the one who reveals the plot, she does so “in the name of Mordecai” (v.22) – clarifying that glory is due to Mordecai and not Esther.  These men were hanged on the gallows (v.23) – or more accurately, as the Hebrew puts it, “hanged on a tree” (see King James’ translation) – akin to the Hebrew curse under Deuteronomy 21.

Mordecai also seems to have harboured, in his own heart, the possibility that Esther is the rescuer of the Israelites should anything detrimental arise (c.f. Esther 4:14). Perhaps the Septuagint version of Esther, which provides several additions (including a prologue which describes Mordecai receiving a vision of a potential clash between the Israelites and its enemies), prompted Mordecai to prepare for such detriment.  The prologue is as follows:

“In the second year when Artaxerxes the Great was king, on the first day of Nisa, Mar- dochaios the son of Iairos son of Semeias son of Kisaios, from the tribe of Beniamin, saw a dream. 2He was a Judean man dwelling in the city of Susa, a great man, serving in the court of the king. 3Now he was of the group of exiles which Nabou- chodonosor, king of Babylon, took captive from Ie- rousalem with Iechonias, the king of Judea. 4And this was his dream: Look! Shouts and confusion! Thunder and earthquake! Chaos upon the earth! 5Look! Two great dragons came forward, both ready to fight, and a great noise arose from them! 6And at their sound every nation prepared for war, to fight against a nation of righteous people. 7Look! A day of darkness and gloom! Affliction and anguish! Oppression and great chaos upon the earth! 8And the whole righteous nation was in chaos, fearing the evils that threatened themselves, and they were ready to perish. 9Then they cried out to God, and from their cry, as though from a small spring, there came a great river, abundant water; 10light, and the sun rose, and the lowly were exalt- ed and devoured those held in esteem. 11Then when Mardochaios, who had seen this dream and what God had determined to do, awoke, he had it on his heart and sought until nightfall to under-stand it in every detail.

12 And Mardochaios took his rest in the court- yard with Gabatha and Tharra, the two eunuchs of the king who guarded the courtyard. 13He both overheard their deliberations and inquired into their ambitions, and learned that they were prepar- ing to lay hands on Artaxerxes the king, and he told the king about them. 14Then the king interro- gated the two eunuchs, and when they confessed, they were led away. 15And the king wrote these things in the record, and Mardochaios wrote con- cerning these things. 16And the king ordered Mar- dochaios to serve in the court and gave to him gifts for these things. 17But Haman son of Hama- dathos, a Bougean, was highly esteemed by the king, and he sought to harm Mardochaios and his people because of the two eunuchs of the king.”

Separately, it helps to compare her with Daniel (c.f. chapters 6-7 of Daniel) as Daniel and his friends were in a position where they could get on with obeying the law of the LORD, but Esther’s situation was directly forbidden (c.f. Deuteronomy 7:3-4 – marriage to a pagan man), and would make her a difficult witness.

It is peculiar that the 12 months of beautifying included six months of myrrh (one of the ingredients of the oil of holy ointment – Exodus 30:23, used also for embalming and preparation of the body either for love – Psalm 45:8; Proverbs 7:17; Song of Songs 1:13, 3:6, 4:6, 14, 5:1, 5, 13, or for burial – Matthew 2:11, John 19:39) and six months of spices and ointments – as if purifying the women for a holy act of divine marriage.  Esther’s charm is not lost on the king as she plays the game safely under the direction of Hegai the king’s eunuch, and is finally elected as the new queen (v.15-18).  Strangely, v.17 describes the king as loving Esther more than all the women – a verb not often associated with the king, given his failure to understand how marriage should work like Ephesians 5:22-33.  Yet, by contrast, the verbs associated to Esther do not fare much better – she is a woman often the object of other people’s initiations (she was adopted (v.7), she was taken into the king’s palace (v.8), she did not make knkown her people (v.10), she asked for nothing except whatever was advised to her (v.15), she was taken to the king (v.16)).  Her actions, so far, are mostly passive – indicating her vulnerability to the circumstances around her.  It is not until a later stage that Esther begins to take her own initiative to stand firm as a type of Christ the Mediator.

Chapter 3

Yet, in spite of Mordecai’s actions to protect the king, Haman the Agagite (perhaps one of the Amalekites – c.f. Numbers 24:7, Deuteronomy 25:17-19, 1 Samuel 15) gets promoted.  Saul’s failure to remove the Amalekites (1 Samuel 15) certainly laid the groundwork for Agag, the king of the Amaelkites, to live and prosper against the LORD’s command, the consequences of his sin creating this tricky situation for Mordecai to confront.  It is certainly peculiar that Mordecai should wish to protect the king (perhaps to lay the groundwork for Esther’s influence, since Mordecai warned the king through Esther) yet does not wish to bow down and pay homage to Haman – despite the king’s decree (v.1-3).  This is not taken lightly (v.3), filling Haman (the “magnificent“) with fury.  By Mordecai’s firmness in his faith, he was seen as an example of the Israelites – in many ways his act of rebellion being comparable to that of ex-Queen Vashti’s act of rebellion seen as an example of the women of Persia and Medes.  However, unlike Vashti who was eventually replaced, the LORD will continue to preserve the remnant of the Israelites despite the ridiculous genocidal decree (v.7-11) that Haman conjured (Genesis 45:7).  It is significant that the king grants Haman the signet ring (v.10, 13) – for without this ring, Haman could not act on behalf of the king.  Yet, it is more significant that Haman’s plot does not come to pass until the 12th month (rather than the first month upon casting lots), providing the Israelites one year to prepare for this incoming persecution (c.f. Proverbs 16:33).  What irony that Haman sets out to destroy the very man who uncovered the plot to destroy the king (v.9), such confusion which is lost on Haman and the king as they ironically sit down and enjoy their drink whilst the city of Susa was simply bewildered (v.15).

Chapter 4

Such a ridiculous edict is met with an appropriate response of the Israelites’ weeping and covering of sackcloth and ashes (v.3; c.f. Genesis 37:34, 42:35; 2 Samuel 3:31 – Matthew 11:21, and Jonah 3:8 – as a sign of repentance; Mordecai’s actions especially modeled after Daniel’s – see Daniel 9:3-19).  Yet, note the queen’s response is quite different.  Hers is an emotion of distress (v.4) – but she is far removed from Mordecai and the other Israelites’ scene and demise, as she had not voiced her heritage openly in the courts of Ahasuerus.  Even when Mordecai pleaded for the queen to beg his favour – this same Mordecai who had brought up Esther and who Esther owes her life to; the same Mordecai who disclosed to Hathach that Esther is of the same people who are being persecuted (v.8); the same Mordecai who would be murdered relentlessly by Haman’s edict, meeting the same end as the other Israelites in Ahasuerus’ reign – Esther’s response is cold (v.11):

“All the king’s servants and the people of the king’s provinces know that if any man or woman goes to the king inside the inner court without being called, there is but one law—to be put to death, except the one to whom the king holds out the golden scepter so that he may live. But as for me, I have not been called to come in to the king these thirty days.”

In other words – either the Israelites, including Mordecai, dies or Esther dies!  Mordecai immediately salvages this by rebuking Esther (v.12-14) and reminding her that even if Esther were to stay silent, “relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but [Esther] and [Esther’s house] will perish.”  What faith and trust that the LORD will indeed continue to rescue Israel His remnant (c.f. 2 Kings 19:4-31; Ezra 9; Isaiah 10:20-22, 37:4-32) through various possibilities not fatalistically predetermined through Esther.  Paul Blackham quotes Derek Prime’s “Unspoken Lessons about the Unseen God” (Evangelical Press, Darlington, 2001) pg. 20-21 which states:

“…crucial to the background of the book of Esther is the conflict described in God’s words to the serpent, the devil’s instrument, in Genesis 3:15… Satan’s activity is traceable throughout the Bible.  His tracks may be discerned, together with the aliases he employs – in this case, that of Haman.  Satan, the enemy of souls, was endeavouring to destroy the Jews, the people through whose seed the Messiah was to be born into the world, in order to make null and void God’s promise of a Redeemer… God was committed to preserving the Jewish people so that from them salvation might go out into the ends of the earth… God’s protection of his people was the protection of the Offspring of the woman though which he preserved and carried on his plan of redemption.”

Mordecai simply trusted in this Promised Seed, and knew clearly that whatever Satan’s plan was, the prophesied Offspring of Adam will protect His church of all times.

Esther’s response is finally one of initiation (v.15-17) – for the first time in these chapters, she proactively acted for God’s kingdom, commanding Mordecai to gather the Jews and hold a fast on Esther’s behalf (including her young women (v.16) which indicates that Esther’s quiet faith has also evangelised to others in Ahasuerus’ court to join the Ancient Church), for Esther may perish (v.16), although she is expecting a victorious outcome as a type of Christ the One who – to Esther – will be victorious from his mighty feat of resurrection by the third day (v.16).

Esther 1-4: Esther and the King

1 Kings 14: The Two Houses

1At that time Abijah the son of Jeroboam fell sick. 2And Jeroboam said to his wife, “Arise, and disguise yourself, that it not be known that you are the wife of Jeroboam, and go to(A) Shiloh. Behold, Ahijah the prophet is there,(B) who said of me that I should be king over this people. 3(C) Take with you ten loaves, some cakes, and a jar of honey, and go to him. He will tell you what shall happen to the child.”

 

Shiloh is within the realms of Israel, north of Bethel.  Yet, Jeroboam does not go to Shiloh himself lest he be called a hypocrite of his own religion.  Throughout the last two chapters he has established himself as a tour de force in the making of a new faith – faith in his new golden calves, as the false high priest of both Bethel and Dan.  The irony of the death of the man of God in chapter 13 is but a foretelling of the death of Jeroboam – that the wrath of God, though laid up on The Man of God His Son, is not propitiated from Jeroboam who steadfastly still refuses to say Yes in Jesus.  In fact, looking at the curse against the house of Jeroboam in v.7-16 (especially v.11) reminds us of the dignity of being buried with the Man of God, and rising in resurrection with him.  The LORD was in sovereign control over even the lion and the donkey who only served to kill the man, and in contrast, He in His sovereignty commands the death of Jeroboam’s kingdom by being fed to the dogs and birds.

4Jeroboam’s wife did so. She arose and went to(D) Shiloh and came to the house of(E) Ahijah. Now Ahijah could not see, for his eyes were dim because of his age. 5And the LORD said to(F) Ahijah, “Behold, the wife of Jeroboam is coming to inquire of you concerning her son, for he is sick. Thus and thus shall you say to her.”

When she came, she pretended to be another woman. 6But when(G) Ahijah heard the sound of her feet, as she came in at the door, he said, “Come in, wife of Jeroboam. Why do you pretend to be another? For I am charged with unbearable news for you. 7Go, tell Jeroboam, ‘Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel:(H) “Because I exalted you from among the people and made you leader over my people Israel 8and(I) tore the kingdom away from the house of David and gave it to you, and yet you have not been(J) like my servant David, who kept my commandments and followed me with all his heart, doing only that which was right in my eyes, 9but you have done evil above all who were before you and have gone and(K) made for yourself other gods and(L) metal images, provoking me to anger, and(M) have cast me behind your back, 10therefore behold, I will bring harm upon the house of Jeroboam and(N) will cut off from Jeroboam every male,(O) both bond and free in Israel, and(P) will burn up the house of Jeroboam, as a man burns up dung until it is all gone. 11(Q) Anyone belonging to Jeroboam who dies in the city the dogs shall eat, and anyone who dies in the open country the birds of the heavens shall eat, for the LORD has spoken it.”‘ 12Arise therefore, go to your house.(R) When your feet enter the city, the child shall die. 13And all Israel shall mourn for him and bury him, for he only of Jeroboam shall come to the grave, because in him(S) there is found something pleasing to the LORD, the God of Israel, in the house of Jeroboam. 14(T) Moreover, the LORD will raise up for himself a king over Israel who shall cut off the house of Jeroboam today. And henceforth, 15the LORD will strike Israel as a reed is shaken in the water, and(U) root up Israel out of(V) this good land that he gave to their fathers and scatter them(W) beyond the Euphrates, because they have made their(X) Asherim, provoking the LORD to anger. 16And he will give Israel up because of the sins of Jeroboam, which he sinned and made Israel to sin.”

Indeed – how can a Jeroboam’s wife presume to feign her position before the prophet, who though had dim eyes was in fact clearer in Spiritual sight than anyone else in the kingdom of Israel?  In the words of Matthew Henry:

“Those who think by their disguises to hide themselves from God will be wretchedly confounded when they find themselves disappointed in the day of discovery. Sinners now appear in the garb of saints, and are taken to be such; but how will they blush and tremble when they find themselves stripped of their false colours, and are called by their own name: “Go out, thou treacherous false-hearted hypocrite. I never knew thee. Why feignest thou thyself to be another?’’ Tidings of a portion with hypocrites will be heavy tidings. God will judge men according to what they are, not according to what they seem.”

By the Spirit, God spoke through him such a terrible prophecy that should only remind Jeroboam of why he was blessed to lead Israel in the first place.  It is the LORD’s favour, not Jeroboam’s self-making (v.7-9); and Jeroboam’s destruction, however, is his bondage to sin and to Satan, blindly denying the LORD’s exaltation (v.7), failed to keep his commandments (shamar, שׁמר, a priestly term, though Jeroboam became a priest of other gods)(v.8), making false images (v.9).  The following verses read almost like Paul’s letter to the Romans, chapter 1:

“The account here given of the wickedness of the Jews agrees with that which the apostle gives of the wickedness of the Gentile world (Rom. 1:21, 24), so that both Jew and Gentile are alike under sin, Rom. 3:9. (1.) They became vain in their imaginations concerning God, and changed his glory into an image, for they built themselves high places, images, and groves (v. 23), profaning God’s name by affixing to it their images, and God’s ordinances by serving their idols with them. They foolishly fancies that they exalted God when they worshipped him on high hills and pleased him when they worshipped him under the pleasant shadow of green trees. (2.) They were given up to vile affections (as those idolaters Rom. 1:26, 27), for there were sodomites in the land (v. 24), men with men working that which is unseemly, and not to be thought of, much less mentioned, without abhorrence and indignation. They dishonoured God by one sin and then God left them to dishonour themselves by another. They profaned the privileges of a holy nation, therefore God gave them up to their own hearts’ lusts, to imitate the abominations of the accursed Canaanites; and herein the Lord was righteous. And, when they did like those that were cast out, how could they expect any other than to be cast out like them?2. See here how weak and poor they were; and this was the consequence of the former. Sin exposes, impoverishes, and weakens any people.” – Matthew Henry

And such is the declaration of God’s judgment against Jeroboam; such transparency, which though Josiah would proclaim upon Israel in the latter chapters of 2 Kings 350 years later, are but types of the global disaster and restoration of the Noahic flood and the Day of Resurrection.  No righteous posterity shall come out to Jeroboam’s womb, far from the blessing of progenitors to Abraham and David’s line.  Here, the Father’s mercy does not extend to Jeroboam for reason of his failing to keep (as Adam was commanded in Genesis 2:15), and failing to cling onto the Judaic line of Christ through David’s offspring.  V.16 describes how Jeroboam sinned “and made Israel to sin”, and such is the effect of a king who does not make promises as Christ does to His church to mutually edify and glorify (John 17:24-26).  The scattering of Israel, under the Assyrian captivity, begins here – with the false leadership of Jeroboam outside of the house of Judah, the refined line of Christ’s tree line (represented by the scattering of Israel beyond Euphrates, v.15 c.f. Isaiah 8:7; Jeremiah 2:18).

17Then Jeroboam’s wife arose and departed and came to(Y) Tirzah. And(Z) as she came to the threshold of the house, the child died. 18And all Israel buried him and mourned for him,(AA) according to the word of the LORD, which he spoke by his servant Ahijah the prophet.

19Now the rest of the acts of Jeroboam,(AB) how he warred and how he reigned, behold, they are written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel. 20And the time that Jeroboam reigned was twenty-two years. And he slept with his fathers, and Nadab his son reigned in his place.

 

Though not described in detail here, note Jeroboam’s death in 2 Chronicles 13:18-22 which displays an important comparison to 1 Kings 14:

 

“18Thus the men of Israel were subdued at that time, and the men of Judah prevailed,(AC) because they relied on the LORD, the God of their fathers. 19And Abijah pursued Jeroboam(AD) and took cities from him, Bethel with its villages and Jeshanah with its villages and(AE) Ephron[e] with its villages. 20Jeroboam did not recover his power in the days of Abijah.(AF) And the LORD struck him down,(AG) and he died. 21But Abijah grew mighty. And he took fourteen wives and had twenty-two sons and sixteen daughters. 22The rest of the acts of Abijah, his ways and his sayings, are written in the(AH) story of the prophet(AI) Iddo.” – 2 Chronicles 13:18-22

Jeroboam did not recover his power in the days of Abijah: why is that?  2 Chronicles 18 reveals it plainly:  “because they relied on the LORD, the God of their fathers”.  For the first time since Solomon’s death we see reliance on the LORD, not the golden calves, not the false elohim, but the LORD struck him down and he died (v.20).  The further fulfilment of the Shilonite’s words is described in 1 Kings 15 by Baasha’s overtaking of Jeroboam’s house: but the narrator purposely left it for later description.  Instead, the focus is on the parallel between Jeroboam’s heretical rule, and Rehoboam’s similarly rebellious activity though favoured by the LORD simply because he is the heir of David’s throne.

21(AC) Now Rehoboam the son of Solomon reigned in Judah. Rehoboam was forty-one years old when he began to reign, and he reigned seventeen years in Jerusalem,(AD) the city that the LORD had chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, to put his name there.(AE) His mother’s name was Naamah the Ammonite. 22(AF) And Judah did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, and they(AG) provoked him to jealousy with their sins that they committed, more than all that their fathers had done. 23For they also built for themselves(AH) high places(AI) and pillars and(AJ) Asherim on every high hill and(AK) under every green tree, 24and there were also(AL) male cult prostitutes in the land. They did according to all the abominations of the nations that the LORD drove out before the people of Israel.

 

So strange a comparison – that we see the LORD curse Jeroboam’s house so, to see the only ‘dignity’ to arise out of a death of a Christly child, almost a comparison to the death of the man of God!  Rehoboam, similarly led Judah to do what was evil in the sight of the LORD, provoking Him to jealousy, more than all that their fathers had done (v.22).  They, too, built high places and pillars and Asherim (like Jeroboam – c.f. v.15; even the narrator makes this comparison obvious in v.24 noting that ‘they did according to all the abominations of the nations that the LORD drove out’) – but the favour and mercy upon Rehoboam is simply because he reigned over the city that the LORD has chosen out of all the tribes of Israel; that he reigns in the line of the chosen.  Who is chosen?  Christ is the Chosen and Elected One of all ages (Isaiah 42:1).  That is why Rehoboam is not cursed; his household is not cursed, even though he is born of Naamah the Ammonite, repeated twice in this chapter (v.21 & 31) – that is not a purebred.  That is the comparison the narrator is trying to make.  Would the Shilonite’s prophecy prevail not only against the house of Jeroboam, but also against Rehoboam, forever cursing the coming of the seed (Genesis 3:15)?  No – even in Abijam’s sins, even in his mixed heritage, the house of David prevails for God’s promise in David, shadowed by Christ, shall not be broken, despite our sins.  He is faithful, even when we are not (2 Timothy 2:13; c.f. 1 Kings 15:4-5).

25(AM) In the fifth year of King Rehoboam, Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem. 26He took away the treasures of the house of the LORD and the treasures of the king’s house.(AN) He took away everything. He also took away all the shields of gold(AO) that Solomon had made, 27and King Rehoboam made in their place shields of bronze, and committed them to the hands of the officers of the guard, who kept the door of the king’s house. 28And as often as the king went into the house of the LORD, the guard carried them and brought them back to the guardroom.

This alliance between Jeroboam and Shishak is now an unholy alliance against the church of Christ (Psalm 2) – established in 1 Kings 11:40, taking away the golden treasures of the LORD.  Such is the comparison made against the prophecy in Daniel 2:32-45 to Nebuchadnezzar, the kingdom of gold subsumed by a kingdom of silver and bronze – only to be entirely consumed by the humble element – the Stone and Rock of Ages.  The Stone that became a Mountain – the theology of the mustard seed (Luke 13:19).  Though the glory of Israel seemed to dim by the theft of Shishak, the true glory remained, though dim, in the men of God like Shemaiah, like the mysterious visitor from Judah buried in Bethel, the prophet who looks forward to the prophecy concerning Josiah, and undoubtedly Ahijah himself.  These are the little seeds, sown across a rebellious nation, as the lamp still shone in the city of Jerusalem for the day when the light of the world breaks into the darkness as sunlight does to the darkest of nights.

29(AP) Now the rest of the acts of Rehoboam and all that he did, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah? 30(AQ) And there was war between Rehoboam and Jeroboam continually. 31And Rehoboam slept with his fathers and was buried with his fathers in the city of David.(AR) His mother’s name was Naamah the Ammonite. And(AS) Abijam his son reigned in his place.

And so the chapter ends not on a note of negativity as one may assume, by Rehoboam and Jeroboam’s rebellion.  Rather, though the light is dim, Rehoboam is still managing the house of the LORD (v.28).  The temple is still not entirely neglected – and this is the mercy of our God through Christ’s redemptive work – that he redeems not those false priests and Pharisees of the purebred line of Israel like Jeroboam was from the house of Ephraim; but especially those of the line of David, whom David himself is a descendant of a Moabite, that Rehoboam should receive the same mercy for the beauty which Naamah the Ammoite bore is not physical – but a beauty inherited from Christ.  The chapter ends with Rehoboam keeping the commandment of the maintenance of this otherwise neglected temple, and we are reminded that he is of mixed heritage.  Yet, the LORD’s favour rests on him anyway – Romans 11.

1 Kings 14: The Two Houses

1 Kings 7: the House of the LORD (pt. 2)

Aside from the building work in 1 Kings 6, we are now brought to see the remaining building work of Solomon’s houses and the remaining additions to the Temple in chapter 7, already started in the previous chapter.  See the overview of the Temple grounds below:

In this overview we see the following items:

  • 1 ‘Great Court’
  • 2 ‘Second Court’
  • 3 ‘Court of the Temple’
  • 4 House of the forest of Lebanon
  • 5 Hall of Pillars
  • 6 Hall of Judgement
  • 7 Royal Palace
  • 8 Harem
  • 9 Temple
  • 10 Altar

Or, for a more modern rendition of the placement of these items:

The Temple is the same House of the LORD spoken of in chapter 6 – and now, we see a brief brush of Solomon’s own house (v.1), the House of the Forest of Lebanon (v.2-5), the Hall of Pillars (v.6), the Hall of the Throne (v.7), a house for Pharoah’s daughter similar to his own – both similar to the Hall of the Throne (v.8):

Solomon’s own house

1Solomon was(A) building his own house thirteen years, and he finished his entire house.

House of the Forest of Lebanon

2He built(B) the House of the Forest of Lebanon. Its length was a hundred cubits[a] and its breadth fifty cubits and its height thirty cubits, and it was built on four[b] rows of cedar pillars, with cedar beams on the pillars. 3And it was covered with cedar above the chambers that were on the forty-five pillars, fifteen in each row. 4There were window frames in three rows, and window opposite window in three tiers. 5All the doorways and windows[c] had square frames, and window was opposite window in three tiers.

Hall of Pillars

6And he made(C) the Hall of Pillars; its length was fifty cubits, and its breadth thirty cubits. There was a porch in front with pillars, and(D) a canopy in front of them.

Hall of the Throne

7And he made the Hall of the Throne where he was to pronounce judgment, even the Hall of Judgment.(E) It was finished with cedar from floor to rafters.[d]

Pharoah’s daughter’s house

8His own house where he was to dwell, in the other court back of the hall, was of like workmanship. Solomon also made a house like this hall for Pharaoh’s daughter(F) whom he had taken in marriage.

Note that excellent care and attention was similarly given to these items aside from the House of the LORD:

9All these were made of costly stones, cut according to measure, sawed with saws, back and front, even from the foundation to the coping, and from the outside to the great court. 10The foundation was of costly stones, huge stones, stones of eight and ten cubits. 11And above were costly stones, cut according to measurement, and cedar. 12(G) The great court had three courses of cut stone all around, and a course of cedar beams; so had the inner court of the house of the LORD and(H) the vestibule of the house.

Though the structures themselves are beautiful, with the House of the Forest of Lebanon receiving most description, it is clear that the same materials used to build the foundation and the court of the Temple are similarly used here.  It is undoubtedly the case that our focus should never shift away from the Temple, and that these buildings surrounding the Temple are but the Temple’s furnishings – not once are we to assume that the Temple’s spotlight has been taken away, and nor should we believe that we are now in a type of interlude from describing the building of the Temple.  Instead, what we understand is that the House of the Forest of Lebanon (as the armoury – 2 Chronicles 9:16-20), the Hall of Pillars and Hall of Throne all have their meaning stem from the Temple of the LORD which sits at the highest height of Mount Moriah, immobile (unlike the tabernacle tent which moved in the wilderness) waiting for the day when the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world would be sacrificed here as prophesied in Genesis 22.  These side houses are but branches of the root in this Temple, for they are never again mentioned in detail in Scripture – save the Temple, which receives its due Christological significance in 1 Kings 8 onwards, and in 2 Chronicles 5-8, with the inclusion of the building of the pillars and the other Temple items in a smooth flow from 2 Chronicles 3-4.  So now, we are brought to the remaining pillars (v.15-22; 2 Chronicles 3), sea of cast metal (v.23-26; 2 Chronicles 4), ten stands of bronze (v.27-37), ten basins of bronze (v.38), and the pots, the shovel and the basins (v.40) – all made by Hiram, born from the tribe of Naphtali and also from Tyre, much like Obed, the son of Ruth and Boaz and grandfather of King David – Hiram (“highborn, exaltation of life, noble”) who was full of wisdom, understanding, and skill for making any work in bronze (v.13-14).  Note Matthew Henry’s observation of the inclusion of Tyre in the building of the Temple:

“The brasier whom Solomon employed to preside in this part of the work was Hiram, or Huram (2 Chron. iv. 11), who was by his mother’s side an Israelite, of the tribe of Naphtali, by his father’s side a man of Tyre, v. 14. If he had the ingenuity of a Tyrian, and the affection of an Israelite to the house of God (the head of a Tyrian and the heart of an Israelite), it was happy that the blood of the two nations mixed in him, for thereby he was qualified for the work to which he was designed. As the tabernacle was built with the wealth of Egypt, so the temple with the wit of Tyre. God will serve himself by the common gifts of the children of men.”

Yet, note that it was Solomon who was given the ultimate honour (2 Chronicles 4:18), though Hiram be the one who had the skill for making any work in bronze.

13And King Solomon sent and brought(I) Hiram from Tyre. 14He was the son of a widow of the tribe of Naphtali, and his father was a man of Tyre, a worker in bronze. And(J) he was full of wisdom, understanding, and skill for making any work in bronze. He came to King Solomon and did all his work.

In particular, this Hiram who makes the temple furnishings is not the same Hiram spoken of in chapter 5.  It is clear that this Hiram, unlike the king spoken of in chapter 5, is born of one Israelite parent, and not a simple Gentile – and like Bezalel son of Uri, the craftsmanship is a result of being full of wisdom, understand and skill (Exodus 31:1-11, 35:30-35 compare with v.14).  Yet, with the precursor of chapters 3 and 4 where we are invited to the Solomon who is filled with extraordinary spiritual wisdom, it is undoubtedly the reason why Solomon receives the true and final glory as the builder of the temple.

Pillars of bronze (v.15-22)


15(K) He cast(L) two pillars of bronze.(M) Eighteen cubits was the height of one pillar, and a line of twelve cubits measured its circumference. It was hollow, and its thickness was four fingers. The second pillar was the same.[e] 16He also made two capitals of cast bronze to set on the tops of the pillars. The height of the one capital was five cubits, and(N) the height of the other capital was five cubits. 17There were lattices of checker work with wreaths of chain work for the capitals on the tops of the pillars, a lattice[f] for the one capital and a lattice for the other capital. 18Likewise he made pomegranates[g] in two rows around the one latticework to cover the capital that was on the top of the pillar, and he did the same with the other capital. 19Now the capitals that were on the tops of the pillars in the vestibule were of lily-work, four cubits. 20The capitals were on the two pillars and also above the rounded projection which was beside the latticework. There were(O) two hundred pomegranates in two rows all around, and so with the other capital. 21(P) He set up the pillars at the vestibule of the temple. He set up the pillar on the south and called its name Jachin, and he set up the pillar on the north and called its name Boaz. 22And on the tops of the pillars was lily-work. Thus the work of the pillars was finished.

It is only at this stage that we are brought to the building of the pillars; given that they are hollow and built later procedurally, it is unlikely that they are built as supports to the vestibule.  Instead, it is clear from their names that they bear symbolic import – the southern pillar Jachin (he shall establish) and northern pillar Boaz (strength) are both named after important men in David’s time – Jachin who is the head of the twenty-first course of priests (1 Chronicles 9:10, 24:17) and Boaz, who is David’s great grandfather (Ruth 4:1) and his typological action as kinsman-redeemer is but a continuation of the theology of the global church beyond that of the confines of Israel.  It is indeed important for us to perceive that these important men of David’s period is the symbolic support of the temple – for it is David’s preparation, Solomon’s execution, and finally Christ’s fulfillment that we see a grand continuation of the picture of the Father’s covenant with us through Christ, through the Shechinah glory in the Temple, in the Tabernacle, and back to the garden of Eden.  Once again, Matthew Henry provides Spirit-led insight:

“Two brazen pillars, which were set up in the porch of the temple (v. 21), whether under the cover of the porch or in the open air is not certain; it was between the temple and the court of the priests. These pillars were neither to hang gates upon nor to rest any building upon, but purely for ornament and significancy. (1.) What an ornament they were we may gather from the account here given of the curious work that was about them, chequer-work, chain-work, net-work, lily-work, and pomegranates in rows, and all of bright brass, and framed no doubt according to the best rules of proportion, to please the eye. (2.) Their significancy is intimated in the names given them (v. 21): Jachinhe will establish; and Boazin him is strength. Some think they were intended for memorials of the pillar of cloud and fire which led Israel through the wilderness: I rather think them designed for memorandums to the priests and others that came to worship at God’s door, [1.] To depend upon God only, and not upon any sufficiency of their own, for strength and establishment in all their religious exercises. When we come to wait upon God, and find our hearts wandering and unfixed, then by faith let us fetch in help from heaven: JachinGod will fix this roving mind. It is a good thing that the heart be established with grace. We find ourselves weak and unable for holy duties, but this is our encouragement: Boazin him is our strength, who works in us both to will and to do. I will go in the strength of the Lord God. Spiritual strength and stability are to be had at the door of God’s temple, where we must wait for the gifts of grace in the use of the means of grace. [2.] It was a memorandum to them of the strength and establishment of the temple of God among them. Let them keep close to God and duty, and they should never lose their dignities and privileges, but the grant should be confirmed and perpetuated to them. The gospel church is what God will establish, what he will strengthen, and what the gates of hell can never prevail against. But, with respect to this temple, when it was destroyed particular notice was taken of the destroying of these pillars (2 Kings xxv. 13, 17), which had been the tokens of its establishment, and would have been so if they had not forsaken God.”

Indeed, such a message is amplified by the pomegranate rows and the lily-work at the top of each pillar; the former fruit also used on the robe of the priest (Exodus 28:33, 39:24-25) and described as a fruit desired in the wilderness (Numbers 13:23, 20:5); and the latter described as a blossoming flower in the midst of Israel’s redemption from Assyria, its restoration once again to days of glory (Hosea 14).

Bronze altar (2 Chronicles 4:1)


What is noticeable about the deuteronomist description of the Temple, as already mentioned, is that it is a strikingly historical rendition of the architectural blueprint.  This explains why the chronicler would include the bronze altar for this is a crucial aspect of the Temple as made of an altar of worship made of “uncut” stone.  According to rabbinic tradition, it is absolutely significant that this bronze altar is included in the design of Solomon’s Temple, for this is the same place as where the Angel of the LORD stayed His hand and where David had built the altar at the threshing floor (2 Samuel 24:24-25), ending the prophetic account of David’s reign as king of Israel.

“The elevation on which Solomon built the temple, where God appeared to David “in the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.” it is the Eastern eminence of Jerusalem, separated from Mount Zion by the Tyropoeon valley. The tope was levelled by Solomon, and immense walls were built around it from the base to enlarge the level surface for the temple area. A tradition which first appears in a definite shape in Josephus, and is now almost universally accepted, asserts that the “Mount Moriah” of the Chronicles is identical with the “mountain” in “the land of Moriah” of Genesis, and that the spot on which Jehovah appeared to David, and on which the temple was built, was the very spot of the sacrifice of Isaac. (Smith, Stanley and Grove are, however, inclined to doubt this tradition.)” – Easton dictionary

Let us not forget the similarities between the mobile Tabernacle and the Temple which is now set in stone in Jerusalem, awaiting the day of Lamb who takes away the sins of the world (c.f. Genesis 22). The bronze altar was also made back in Exodus 27:1-8, for the purpose of shedding our sins – the four corners of horns (akin to the image here, though not explicitly mentioned in the account of Chronicles and only alluded to in the new creation temple of Ezekiel 43) explained in Revelation 9:13-20 –

13Then the sixth angel blew his trumpet, and I heard a voice from(V) the four horns of the golden altar before God, 14saying to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, “Release(W) the four angels who are bound at(X) the great river Euphrates.” 15So the four angels, who had been prepared for the hour, the day, the month, and the year, were released(Y) to kill a third of mankind. 16The number of(Z) mounted troops was(AA) twice ten thousand times ten thousand;(AB) I heard their number. 17And this is how I saw the horses in my vision and those who rode them: they wore breastplates the color of fire and of sapphire[c] and of sulfur, and the heads of the horses were(AC) like lions’ heads, and fire and smoke and sulfur came out of their mouths. 18By these three plagues a third of mankind was killed, by the fire and smoke and sulfur coming out of their mouths. 19For the power of the horses is in their mouths and in their tails, for their tails are like serpents with heads, and by means of them they wound.

20The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues,(AD) did not repent of(AE) the works of their hands nor give up worshiping(AF) demons(AG) and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk, 21nor did they repent of their murders or their(AH) sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts.

As explained in my notes on the bronze altar in Exodus 27, the four horns seem to relate directly to the four angels.  How fitting it is then that the bronze altar has these details:

3You shall make pots for it to receive its ashes, and shovels and basins and(BB) forks and fire pans. You shall make all its utensils of bronze.

Fire, ashes… these are marks of one of the few plagues in Revelation, and seems to speak a lot about punishment.  Indeed, this is an altar of offering, and the similar punishment is re-enacted on the sacrificial offering; but it helps to understand the detail of such a sacrificial offering, how it comes around and how God puts into practice these judgments by His four angels – and that these sacrificial offerings, which don’t SAVE us, but point to the Christ who is the full meaning of the true Sacrificial Offering once and for all.

How fitting it is that the Brazen Altar is in the Courtyard, rather than in the Tabernacle?  Indeed, we can only enter the new creation Temple by the sacrifice of the Lamb in our world (symbolized by the Temple/Tabernacle court), redeeming all of creation, before we can be brought into the golden city of new Jerusalem.

Sea (v.23-26)


23(Q) Then he made(R) the sea of cast metal. It was round, ten cubits from brim to brim, and five cubits high, and a line of thirty cubits measured its circumference. 24Under its brim were(S) gourds, for ten cubits, compassing the sea all around. The gourds were in two rows, cast with it when it was cast. 25It stood on(T) twelve oxen, three facing north, three facing west, three facing south, and three facing east. The sea was set on them, and all their rear parts were inward. 26Its thickness was a handbreadth,[h] and its brim was made like the brim of a cup, like the flower of a lily. It held two thousand baths.[i]

Akin to the basin of bronze in Exodus 30:18, 40:11, so also the basin of bronze here holds water for the priests to wash in and supported by twelve oxen in sets of three, facing north east south and west, akin to the face of the angelic living creatures in Ezekiel 1:10, such sent ones being the foundation of the cleansing water, held inside a basin formed like the blossoming lily at the top of Jachin/Boaz.  Just as the bronze altar was outside the tabernacle for propitiation before entrance into the Holy Place (similarly emulated in the Temple court), so also the bronze basin which was placed between the tent of meeting and the altar (Exodus 40:30) for the purpose of washing (c.f. Titus 3:5-7), is similarly placed in the Temple court.

Ten stands of bronze (v.27-37)


27He also made the(U) ten stands of bronze. Each stand was four cubits long, four cubits wide, and three cubits high. 28This was the construction of the stands: they had panels, and the panels were set in the frames, 29and on the panels that were set in the frames were lions, oxen, and cherubim. On the frames, both above and below the lions and oxen, there were wreaths of beveled work. 30Moreover, each stand had four bronze wheels and axles of bronze, and at the four corners were supports for a basin. The supports were cast with wreaths at the side of each. 31Its opening was within a crown that projected upward one cubit. Its opening was round, as a pedestal is made, a cubit and a half deep. At its opening there were carvings, and its panels were square, not round. 32And the four wheels were underneath the panels. The axles of the wheels were of one piece with the stands, and the height of a wheel was a cubit and a half. 33The wheels were made like a chariot wheel; their axles, their rims, their spokes, and their hubs were all cast. 34There were four supports at the four corners of each stand. The supports were of one piece with the stands. 35And on the top of the stand there was a round band half a cubit high; and on the top of the stand its stays and its panels were of one piece with it. 36And on the surfaces of its stays and on its panels, he carved cherubim, lions, and palm trees, according to the space of each, with wreaths all around. 37After this manner he made(V) the ten stands. All of them were cast alike, of the same measure and the same form.

How unlikely a combination of such decoration – lions and oxen and cherubim together on the same panel – yet such an imagery is not alien to prophet Isaiah, for this is the hope we look forward to (Isaiah 65:25), that both lions and oxen co-exist peacefully before the cherubim; and like the angelic living creature of Ezekiel 1 mentioned for the bronze basin, so also these ten stands of bronze bear the same imagery which Ezekiel (chapter 1) undoubtedly drew from:

4 As I looked, behold, a stormy wind came out of the north, and a great cloud, with brightness around it, and fire flashing forth continually, and in the midst of the fire, as it were gleaming metal.

5 And from the midst of it came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance: they had a human likeness,

6 but each had four faces, and each of them had four wings.

7 Their legs were straight, and the soles of their feet were like the sole of a calf’s foot. And they sparkled like burnished bronze.

8 Under their wings on their four sides they had human hands. And the four had their faces and their wings thus:

9 their wings touched one another. Each one of them went straight forward, without turning as they went.

10 As for the likeness of their faces, each had a human face. The four had the face of a lion on the right side, the four had the face of an ox on the left side, and the four had the face of an eagle.

11 Such were their faces. And their wings were spread out above. Each creature had two wings, each of which touched the wing of another, while two covered their bodies.

12 And each went straight forward. Wherever the spirit would go, they went, without turning as they went.

13 As for the likeness of the living creatures, their appearance was like burning coals of fire, like the appearance of torches moving to and fro among the living creatures. And the fire was bright, and out of the fire went forth lightning.

14 And the living creatures darted to and fro, like the appearance of a flash of lightning.

15 Now as I looked at the living creatures, I saw a wheel on the earth beside the living creatures, one for each of the four of them.

16 As for the appearance of the wheels and their construction: their appearance was like the gleaming of beryl. And the four had the same likeness, their appearance and construction being as it were a wheel within a wheel.

17 When they went, they went in any of their four directions without turning as they went.

18 And their rims were tall and awesome, and the rims of all four were full of eyes all around.

19 And when the living creatures went, the wheels went beside them; and when the living creatures rose from the earth, the wheels rose.

20 Wherever the spirit wanted to go, they went, and the wheels rose along with them, for the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels.

21 When those went, these went; and when those stood, these stood; and when those rose from the earth, the wheels rose along with them, for the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels.

Such a combination of wheels, face of lion, oxen, men, (and finally that of an eagle, though not included here) is touched upon by these ten stands of bronze.  Yet, these ten stands of bronze match the number of basins and candlesticks within the Temple.  Why ten, and not twelve, or seven?  E.W. Bullinger in his “Numbers in Scripture” provides a comprehensive analysis:

“It has been already pointed out that ten is one of the perfect numbers, and signifies the perfection of Divine order, commencing, as it does, an altogether new series of numbers. The first decade is the representative of the whole numeral system, and originates the system of calculation called “decimals,” because the whole system of numeration consists of so many tens, of which the first is a type of the whole.

Completeness of order, marking the entire round of anything, is, therefore, the ever-present signification of the number ten. It implies that nothing is wanting; that the number and order are perfect; that the whole cycle is complete…

NOAH

completed the antediluvian age in the tenth generation from God…

THE REDEMPTION MONEY

was ten gerahs, and thus was acknowledged both what God claimed, and what man was responsible to give. Now ten gerahs was half a shekel (Exo 30:12-16; Num 3:47). Every male that was numbered, over 20 years of age, must pay this sum and meet God’s claim. *

* When David numbered the people (2 Sam 24 and 1 Chron 21), this payment was not made and God’s claim was not met. Hence the judgment which followed.

But the first-born were to pay ten times as much; for when God took the Levites instead of the first-born of Israel, there were found 22,273 first-born males, but only 22,000 Levites. So that 273 had to pay the ransom money, which amounted to ten times ten gerahs. Thus, though the five shekels looked like a variation, the significance of ten is sustained, for the five shekels were ten times the “half shekel.” (See Numbers 3:12,13,40-51)…

TEN NATIONS

imply the whole of the nations which are to be the scene of Abraham’s covenant possessions (Gen 15:19)…

THE SILVER SOCKETS

which formed the foundation of the Tabernacle were 10 x 10 (Exo 38:27). These were made of silver, and silver is significant of redemption (1 Peter 1:18,19). *

* Ten also completed the number of the curtains (Exo 26:1)…

…[and] Ten instances in the Old Testament of younger sons being preferred before the elder:—Abel, Shem, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah, Joseph, Ephraim, Moses, David…”

Note from Bullinger’s analysis that the number ten is indeed a number of divine order (in comparison to 12, which intimates divine government; or seven, which intimates new creation rest and Sabbath); as noted in its inclusion in the timing of the flood, the ordering of the ten nations, the silver sockets of the tabernacle as foundation, the redemption money, and finally the ten instances of the sons being preferred before the elder – all of these are instances of God’s sovereignty, order and His will in election through Christ.  It is therefore no different that the cleansing utensils and the lamps bear the same number to indicate that such sovereignty, ordering and election is borne perfectly out of the washing and moving of the unpredictable and uncontrollable wind and Spirit (ruah) of the Father and the Son (the lamp and lampstands representing the Spirit explained in my tabernacle notes for Exodus 25:31-40).

Ten basins of bronze (v.38-39; 2 Chronicles 4:6)

38And he made(W) ten basins of bronze. Each basin held forty baths, each basin measured four cubits, and there was a basin for each of the ten stands. 39And he set the stands, five on the south side of the house, and five on the north side of the house. And he set the sea at the southeast corner of the house.

II Chronicles 4:6: He also made ten basins in which to wash, and set five on the south side, and five on the north side. In these they were to rinse off what was used for the burnt offering, and the sea was for the priests to wash in.

… and the pots, the shovels, and the basins – all items made in burnished bronze (v.40)

40(X) Hiram also made(Y) the pots, the shovels, and the basins. So Hiram finished all the work that he did for King Solomon on the house of the LORD: 41the two pillars, the two bowls of the capitals that were on the tops of the pillars, and the two(Z) latticeworks to cover the two bowls of the capitals that were on the tops of the pillars; 42and the(AA) four hundred pomegranates for the two latticeworks, two rows of pomegranates for each latticework, to cover the two bowls of the capitals that were on the pillars; 43the ten stands, and the ten basins on the stands; 44and(AB) the one sea, and the twelve oxen underneath the sea.

45Now(AC) the pots, the shovels, and the basins, all these vessels in the house of the LORD, which Hiram made for King Solomon, were of burnished bronze. 46In the plain of the Jordan the king cast them, in the clay ground between(AD) Succoth and(AE) Zarethan. 47And Solomon left all the vessels unweighed, because there were so many of them;(AF) the weight of the bronze was not ascertained.

Finally, we come to the end of Hiram’s contribution to the Temple – his contribution all made of burnished bronze – the picture amplified by Ezekiel, Daniel and John’s (Ezekiel 1:7; Daniel 10:6; Revelation 1:15-16) visions of the living creatures and the Christ, all of whom had a combination of arms, legs and/or bodies of burnished bronze – refined in a furnace; the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and whose feet are like burnished bronze (Revelation 2:18, being a new addition to Daniel 10:6), having been refined through hell, the fiery furnace (Daniel 3; Matthew 13:42-50), and returning being purified in the Holy of Holies of the third heaven.  Such is the beauty of burnished bronze, that is has stood the test of time, trial and endured the process to being purified – all symbolized by the work done by Hiram for the utensils primarily all outside of the Temple (c.f. the court of the priests, great court and doors for the court overlaid with bronze).

Even the focus on the ten stands, basins, and the one sea – with the twelve oxen underneath the sea – all represent the judgment (represented by the sea – c.f. fish in the sea in Habakkuk 1:14, sea water again fresh water in Ezekiel 47:8-12 and the passing away of the sea in Revelation 21:1), which shall pass away and thus lead is into the golden holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband (Revelation 21:2) – naturally leading us to the description of the golden vessels.

Golden vessels – and from Creation to Redemption (v.48-51; 2 Chronicles 4:7-8)


48So Solomon made all the vessels that were in the house of the LORD:(AG) the golden altar,(AH) the golden table for(AI) the bread of the Presence, 49(AJ) the lampstands of pure gold, five on the south side and five on the north, before the inner sanctuary;(AK) the flowers, the lamps, and the tongs, of gold; 50the cups, snuffers, basins, dishes for incense, and(AL) fire pans, of pure gold; and the sockets of gold, for the doors of the innermost part of the house,(AM) the Most Holy Place, and for the doors of the nave of the temple.

II Chronicles 4:7: And he made ten golden lampstands as prescribed, and set them in the temple, five on the south side and five on the north.

II Chronicles 4:8: He also made ten tables and placed them in the temple, five on the south side and five on the north. And he made a hundred basins of gold.

It is therefore unsurprising for us to finally conclude the building of the Temple with the focus on the golden vessels (though not all the vessels were necessarily made of new gold):

“All within doors was gold, and all made new (except the ark, with its mercy-seat and cherubim), the old being either melted down or laid by—the golden altar, table, and candlestick, with all their appurtenances. The altar of incense was still one, for Christ and his intercession are so: but he made ten golden tables, 2 Chron. iv. 8 (though here mention is made of that one only on which the show-bread was, v. 48, which we may suppose was larger than the rest and to which the rest were as side-boards), and ten golden candlesticks (v. 49), intimating the much greater plenty both of spiritual food and heavenly light which the gospel blesses us with than the law of Moses did our could afford. Even the hinges of the door were of gold (v. 50), that every thing might be alike magnificent, and bespeak Solomon’s generosity. Some suggest that every thing was made thus splendid in God’s temple to keep the people from idolatry, for none of the idol-temples were so rich and fine as this: but how little the expedient availed the event showed.” – Matthew Henry

From the framework of the Temple made of beautiful wood overlaid with gold, to the buildings outside of the Temple made of similar beautiful wood (but not overlaid with gold), and closing into the works of Hiram of burnished bronze in the inner court of the Temple, leading us back into the golden utensils in the Holy Place and Holy of Holies of the Temple, the progression from wood to gold (in the creation of the Temple framework) to the wood (of Solomon’s House of the Forest of Lebanon), to the burnished bronze of the Temple utensils to the golden utensils (and the pinnacle of the inauguration of the Temple by the inclusion of the ark in 1 Kings 8).  This progression from wood to gold is the glory of the man of dust to the refined new God-man (1 Corinthians 15:47-49) – from creation to redemption / re-capitulation (in Irenaeus’ terms):

“For as by one man’s disobedience sin entered, and death obtained [a place] through sin; so also by the obedience of one man, righteousness having been introduced, shall cause life to fructify in those persons who in times past were dead.3736 And as the protoplast himself Adam, had his substance from untilled and as yet virgin soil (“for God had not yet sent rain, and man had not tilled the ground”3737), and was formed by the hand of God, that is, by the Word of God, for “all things were made by Him,”3738 and the Lord took dust from the earth and formed man; so did He who is the Word, recapitulating Adam in Himself, rightly receive a birth, enabling Him to gather up Adam [into Himself], from Mary, who was as yet a virgin. If, then, the first Adam had a man for his father, and was born of human seed, it were reasonable to say that the second Adam was begotten of Joseph. But if the former was taken from the dust, and God was his Maker, it was incumbent that the latter also, making a recapitulation in Himself, should be formed as man by God, to have an analogy with the former as respects His origin. Why, then, did not God again take dust, but wrought so that the formation should be made of Mary? It was that there might not be another formation called into being, nor any other which should [require to] be saved, but that the very same formation should be summed up [in Christ as had existed in Adam], the analogy having been preserved… – Chapter XXI Book III “Against Heresies”

… But the apostle himself also, being one who had been formed in a womb, and had issued thence, wrote to us, and confessed in his Epistle to the Philippians that “to live in the flesh was the fruit of [his] work;”4538 thus expressing himself. Now the final result of the work of the Spirit is the salvation of the flesh.4539 For what other visible fruit is there of the invisible Spirit, than the rendering of the flesh mature and capable of incorruption? If then [he says], “To live in the flesh, this is the result of labour to me,” he did not surely contemn the substance of flesh in that passage where he said, “Put ye off the old man with his works;”4540 but he points out that we should lay aside our former conversation, that which waxes old and becomes corrupt; and for this reason he goes on to say, “And put ye on the new man, that which is renewed in knowledge, after the image of Him who created him.” In this, therefore, that he says, “which is renewed in knowledge,” he demonstrates that he, the selfsame man who was in ignorance in times past, that is, in ignorance of God, is renewed by that knowledge which has respect to Him. For the knowledge of God renews man. And when he says, “after the image of the Creator,” he sets forth the recapitulation of the same man, who was at the beginning made after the likeness of God.” – Chapter XII Book V “Against Heresies” – Irenaeus

51Thus all the work that King Solomon did on the house of the LORD was finished. And Solomon brought in(AN) the things that David his father had dedicated, the silver, the gold, and the vessels, and stored them in the treasuries of the house of the LORD.

Thus, all the work is finished – and likely that none of David’s dedicated elements of silver and gold and the vessels were used:

“It has been a question whether Solomon, in the structure of the temple, used any of the gold and silver which David had provided? And here it seems answered in the negative; for after the house was finished, with all its utensils and ornaments, with its immense profusion of gold, it is here said that Solomon brought in the silver, and the gold, and the vessels, which David his father had dedicated.

It appears therefore that Solomon had employed four years to make preparation for the work before it was begun. During the whole time of the building, he was no doubt still appropriating a part of the public revenue for this purpose; and the provision made by his father he placed among the treasures of the house; but the temple was truly Solomon’s, as he had provided all its materials, and borne every expense.

As the temple was built in some measure on the model of the tabernacle, and dedicated to the same use, I wish to refer the reader to the description of the former, in Exod. 25-27, and 35-39…” – Adam Clarke

Yet, though none of the vessels, silver and gold were used, it is clear that David’s preparation and direction led to the successful fulfillment of the building of the Temple; just as Moses’ direction had led Joshua to victory in Jericho and Canaan despite Moses never stepping foot in the Promised Land.  It is important that Solomon is the sole builder and David the prophet; so also Yeshua the sole victor and Moses the foreteller of the true leader to come (Deuteronomy 18:15) – explained ever more clearly in the coming chapters (and 2 Chronicles 5-8).

1 Kings 7: the House of the LORD (pt. 2)

Genesis 39-41: He who will give us the bread of life

I seem to be able to get internet every so often.  Please pray continually for the trip!  Meanwhile, back to Genesis.

  1. Joseph rejecting the whore of Babylon (Genesis 39)
  2. Pierced for our transgressions (Genesis 40)
  3. Restored to true glory (Genesis 41)

1.  Joseph rejecting the whore of Babylon (Genesis 39)

Joseph, compared to Judah, was a good witness. Even though Judah remained in Canaan, Joseph, who was born in Canaan/Israel and brought to Egypt, was a far better witness. The LORD was with Joseph (v.2), and Joseph’s evangelism clearly enabled Potiphar to see the LORD with him, and that the LORD caused all that he did to succeed in his hands (v.3). Nothing is explicitly spoken of Potiphar’s faith in Jesus, but Potiphar had a peripheral trust in the work of the LORD as to enable Joseph to be the overseer of his house.

As Joseph grew in form and appearance as a handsome and attractive man (v.6), a sign of both growing in stature with God from the previous verses and with man in this verse, here is a Christian who is walking closely with the Holy Spirit who dwells within him.

Yet, the whore that is Potiphar’s wife, attempted to seduce Joseph into lying with her. He refused the advances of the whore of Babylon (Isaiah 14; Revelation 14:8; 17:5), and he was unjustly accused of something which he did not do – he was completely innocent, a man who pleased God, and served men. However, even as he dwells in the pit, the LORD was with him and showed his steadfast love and faithfulness towards Joseph (v.21). Even in the pit, Joseph’s work was successful because of the LORD (v. 23).

2.  Pierced for our transgressions (Genesis 40)

The wonderful thing about the image of Genesis 39 is that it is a direct foretelling of Jesus’ incarnation. Indeed, this man who is born an Israelite is called to Egypt to be tested for forty days and forty nights; not only that, but he also grew in stature and wisdom (Luke 2:52), pleasing to both God and man. No doubt, the events of chapter 39 reflected very much what Jesus’ had done in the early days of his ministry. But he was unjustly brought to the cross to die for sins which he did not actually do. Meanwhile, in spite of the rejection of Christ, His work is intercessory on our behalf – the dreams of the chief cup-bearer and the baker are good examples. The chief-cup bearer, like Nehemiah, is that of a faithful Christian who is brought up on the third day (v. 20); and the chief baker, on the third day, did not rise again. He experienced his second death, after his first one in the pit.

Yet, when we receive the blessings of man, we forget where the true blessings came from very often. And here, we see the ascension of Christ – his true glory is revealed in the next chapter when God remembers Christ, although men did not.  The glory of the chief cup-bearer is but the firstfruits of the true glory of Joseph.  And the glory of Joseph in the following chapter is but the firstfruit of the true glory of Christ, and his work when he ascends and his work when he returns the second time where the tree of life and its leaves are given for the true healing of all nations.

Revelation 22:2

“…also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.”

3.  Restored to true glory (Genesis 41)

In spite of all the cultish methods the magicians of Egypt employed to satiate the Pharoah’s trouble over dreams, God has used dreams as a tool of his communication of prophetic events. This interpretation of dreams is highly prophetic of that of Daniel; and both Daniel and Joseph were gifted with the charismatic gift of dream-interpretation. Here, however, it is not merely exalting Joseph to the position of that of a person who can interpret dreams. Rather, it is the significance of there being no-one the King of Egypt can rely on; and how someone so seemingly insignificant and forgotten can not only bring blessings to the cup-bearer, but bring blessings to the Pharoah himself. Joseph knows he is not the centre of the story (v. 16) – however, he knows someone who should be – and that is God himself.

His faithfulness and evangelism is so convincing that even the Pharoah admits to God’s power shown through Joseph; just as Abimelech admits the blessedness of Isaac. “Can we find a man like this, in whom is the Spirit of God?” (v. 38). Clearly, by now, there is a somewhat working knowledge of the Trinity: the Spirit of God, the Father (Creator) who is the God of the heavens, and the Son, the Chief Angel who makes appearances to several characters of the Old Testament.

Now, Joseph is re-clothed – he is no longer merely a servant of Potiphar, as he was a servant of the disciples and the Jews of Jerusalem. He is ascended and restored to the right hand of God the Father, that for a “little while [he was made] lower than the angels; you (the Father) have crowned him (Christ) with glory and honour, putting everything in subjection under his feet” (Psalm 8:4-6). And so it is the same here – Joseph is crowned as second to the Pharoah by the power of the Holy Spirit dwelling in Him, clothed with the King’s signet ring and garments of fine linen and gold chain representing his present glory and righteousness. But remember – Joseph is merely a type to the true gospel.

By the end of the chapter, seven years of plenty that occurred in the land of Egypt came to an end, and the seven years of famine began. And so also, as prophesied in Amos 8:11, this famine of bread is merely a type of the famine on the land…

“not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD. They shall wander from sea to sea, and from north to east; they shall run to and fro, to seek the word of the LORD, but they shall not find it”.

This is the famine of 400 years until Christ’s incarnation in the time prior to the writing of the synoptic gospels. For 400 years the word of the LORD has not been heard, indeed leading to all types of weird theologies popping up (c.f. Pharisees and Sadducees) when the written word of the Pentateuch, Prophets, Writings and Psalms have not been consistently preached and contemplated upon. And the same here – seven years of plenty of bread had been collected, as the law and gospel has been continually proclaimed from Adam to Malachi; but there will be a famine of the hearing of the words of the LORD, after which time the only place to hear the true words of Christ is from his own incarnated mouth at the time of fulfillment. In the same way, people flock “from all over the earth” (v. 57) to Egypt, to find the Israelite from the Promised Land providing true bread for the people to feed. Let us fellow Christians take our evangelism seriously, as we direct those to the one who resides in the true Promised Land, who can give them the true bread of life.

Genesis 39-41: He who will give us the bread of life