2 Chronicles 22-24: Preserving the house of David

Chapter 22

The wicked mother Athaliah is the instigator of the potential destruction of the promise and hope of Israel in her attempt to destroy all the royal family of the house of Judah.  This begins with her son Ahaziah, in her marriage with Jehoram – and unfortunately Ahaziah walked in the ways of the house of Ahab (v.3), in the counsel of those in this wicked house (v.4-5).  Rather than instilling the fear of the LORD, the knowledge of the gospel, into the hearts of the neighbouring nations, he would rather join in alliance with Ahab’s son Jehoram to make war against Syria.  It is therefore righteous and in God’s ordinance that Jehu son of Nimshi should destroy the house of Ahab and Ahaziah alongside with it (v.9).  However, this is not the same as destroying the royal house of David, which was Athaliah’s intent (v.10), for Ahaziah had a son Joash (who was not yet able to rule v.9, v.11).

It is in God’s providence that Joash is protected from the murderous intent of Athaliah and that the lamp in the house of David is not extinguished – and this is done by the hand of Ahaziah’s sister Jehoshabeath (oath of Jehovah), wife of a priest Jehoiada (knowledge of the LORD), again the preservation of the house of David initiated not by mere man, nor by mere king, but by the ordained priesthood.  Joash was therefore hidden in the house of God whilst Athaliah the whore reigned free, just as Christ was hidden in the house of God – known to those faithful to Him – awaiting the day when He would glorify the Father and display the Triune glory in fullness on the cross and destroy the whore once and for all (Revelation 17).

Chapter 23

Just like the scene of the wise men Matthew 2, Jehoiada with Azariah (whom Jehovah helps) (son of Jeroham (cherished)), Ishmael (whom God hears) (son of Jehohanan (whom God gave)), Azariah (son of Obed (serving)), Maaseiah (work of the LORD) (son of Adaiah (adorned by Jehovah)) and Elishaphat (whom God judges) (son of Zichri (memorable)) together gathered the Levites from all the cities of Judah and came to Jerusalem to announce the coming of the true king.  These are clearly men who looked forward to the Promised Seed and saw in Joash the need to overthrow Athaliah’s mad rule, Joash being the only hope and lineage from whom the Promised Seed shall come.  This is indeed a literal keeping/guarding of the law and covenant until the day of Christ’s first coming (c.f. Genesis 2:15 original Hebrew interpretation), as we see the synonymous nature of protecting Joash as if protecting the LORD Himself (v.6)!  These were men who understood what the Sabbath truly meant – an act of worship and not a secular piece of work to further one’s own kingdom (c.f. Luke 6:1-5); thus they fulfilled the true meaning of the Sabbath not by taking “rest”, but by achieving the promised rest in protecting the king of the house of David.

It is therefore a beautiful comparison in v.11-15, the imagery of the anointed, protected and elected king Joash from the line of David (with much song and dance!) contrasted to Athaliah’s madness and eventual death (v.13-15).  Therefore Jehoiada, from the protection of the king in his early youth, to the king’s anointing was very much the picture of the John the Baptist was to Christ, making the way straight for the king’s headship over the kingdom.  His covenant between himself and all the people and the king that they should be the LORD’s people (v.16) is a restoration of the status quo set down in David’s and Solomon’s day.  Like the period of Asa, Israel once again went through a reformation of its identity (v.17-18), reminded time and time again the importance of the house of David and the lineage of priests in presenting a multimedia presentation of the true King to come.  They should all know that the peace achieved after Athaliah’s death (v.21) was but a short one, a mere taste of the everlasting peace only achievable by the destroyer of the serpent’s head.

Chapter 24

However, it was foreboding that all the work and the covenant was kept by Jehoiada – but not Joash.  Joash was only a type of the foretold King, but bore hardly any quality similar to that of Christ.  Only during the days of Jehoiada that he worked to restore the house of the LORD and re-introduced the tax initiated by Moses in the wilderness (Exodus 30:12-14) as a reminder of the people’s need to focus on the House of the LORD (which was the tabernacle, the sanctuary, in Moses’ time) which defines the entire nation.  So the national dedication of the LORD’s offering was pleasing (v.8-14) and worked towards the proper reparation of the house of the LORD as well as utensils for serving in the house of the LORD (v.14), with burnt offerings offered in the days of Jehoiada’s leadership.  However, it is apparent that Joash’s heart was merely skin-deep in his love for Jesus; where Jehoiada focused not on the pomp and presentation of the House (possibly a reason why the Levites did not act quickly under Jehoiada’s leadership – v.5-6), he compensated in his spiritual influence over the kingdom that all would offer burnt offerings and provide wise advice to the king to prevent him defecting from his role as king in the house of David.  Yet, his death led to inevitable trouble (v.17) as the heart of the king was not grounded in the Word, nor the true meaning of the glorious physicality of the temple, and instead he was led astray by the princes of Judah to abandon the house of the LORD.

Joash’s eventual murder of Zechariah, the son of Jehoiada (forgetting the kindness of Jehoiada v.22 who had preserved Joash lest he be murdered by Athaliah) is a picture of the chosen nation Israel crucifying our LORD Jesus, solidifying the truth that Israel is not an elect nation due to its purity or virtue.  Rather, Israel was elected to display itself as a type of the sinner of the world, and Jesus the creator (with the Father and the Spirit) being crucified by the rebellious created.  Thus, the irony that Ahaziah and Jehoram’s invasion of Syria is brought back on its head as the Syrians return to destroy the princes of Judah and execution of Joash despite the Syrians having come with few men (v.24).  Although Jehoiada preserved Joash under the LORD’s direction, it was also His discretion to destroy Joash for not walking with Christ and for walking in the ways of his father Ahaziah and grandmother Athaliah.  However, his destruction now is the the vengeance of the LORD (at the hand of non-Israelites – the Syrians, Ammonites and Moabites c.f. v. 26 – a picture foretelling the Gentiles being led by the LORD instead of the Israelites themselves) and His justice truly served, as the house of David is still preserved in Amaziah (v.27).  The preservation of the house of David would not have been possible had Athaliah murdered Joash at the outset, yet it is in the LORD’s mercy that He should continue his steadfast love for David’s descendants, despite the Israelites’ continual relapses into rebellion.

 

Advertisements
2 Chronicles 22-24: Preserving the house of David

2 Kings 11-12: Jehoiada, bearing the reproach of Christ

II Kings 11:

1 Now when Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she arose and destroyed all the royal family.

2 But Jehosheba, the daughter of King Joram, sister of Ahaziah, took Joash the son of Ahaziah and stole him away from among the king’s sons who were being put to death, and she put him and his nurse in a bedroom. Thus they hid him from Athaliah, so that he was not put to death.

3 And he remained with her six years, hidden in the house of the LORD, while Athaliah reigned over the land.

The whore of Babylon, however, has not yet been destroyed – for the end of days has not yet come. Until then, the bloodline of Satan shall continue to wreck havoc on the promised nation, this time through Athaliah, the type of the enemy.  This is the woman “whom God afflicts”, for she causes the death of the royal family for her own gain.  Even Joash, her grandson “whom Jehovah bestowed”, would not have escaped such brutal murder.  This scene is reminiscent of the hiding of Moses, and the hiding of Jesus – to ensure that the line of Israel is not destroyed (c.f. Exodus 2; Matthew 2).  Six years he spent in the house of the LORD, until the tutelage of priest Jehoiada (“Jehovah known”), growing in the faith as Athaliah sought to destroy all the royal seed (the literal Hebrew of the ESV’s adoption of “family”), destroying the possible fulfillment of Genesis 3:15.

4 But in the seventh year Jehoiada sent and brought the captains of the Carites and of the guards, and had them come to him in the house of the LORD. And he made a covenant with them and put them under oath in the house of the LORD, and he showed them the king’s son.

5 And he commanded them, “This is the thing that you shall do: one third of you, those who come off duty on the Sabbath and guard the king’s house

6 (another third being at the gate Sur and a third at the gate behind the guards) shall guard the palace.

7 And the two divisions of you, which come on duty in force on the Sabbath and guard the house of the LORD on behalf of the king,

8 shall surround the king, each with his weapons in his hand. And whoever approaches the ranks is to be put to death. Be with the king when he goes out and when he comes in.”

9 The captains did according to all that Jehoiada the priest commanded, and they each brought his men who were to go off duty on the Sabbath, with those who were to come on duty on the Sabbath, and came to Jehoiada the priest.

10 And the priest gave to the captains the spears and shields that had been King David’s, which were in the house of the LORD.

11 And the guards stood, every man with his weapons in his hand, from the south side of the house to the north side of the house, around the altar and the house on behalf of the king.

12 Then he brought out the king’s son and put the crown on him and gave him the testimony. And they proclaimed him king and anointed him, and they clapped their hands and said, “Long live the king!”

Are v.4-12 not a picture of the Old Testament?  (c.f. 1 Peter 1) The picture of Israelites, under oath in the house of the LORD to protect and safeguard the king’s son until the day of his crowning?  Some may not see his crowning, yet they long for the day when Athaliah is destroyed and the true King is crowned (Hebrews 11:13).  The object of faith has not changed – it has always been the true king Joash, as directed by Jehoiada who faithfully keeps this one royal seed of Adam and Eve and of Israel from perishing.

13 When Athaliah heard the noise of the guard and of the people, she went into the house of the LORD to the people.

14 And when she looked, there was the king standing by the pillar, according to the custom, and the captains and the trumpeters beside the king, and all the people of the land rejoicing and blowing trumpets. And Athaliah tore her clothes and cried, “Treason! Treason!”

15 Then Jehoiada the priest commanded the captains who were set over the army, “Bring her out between the ranks, and put to death with the sword anyone who follows her.” For the priest said, “Let her not be put to death in the house of the LORD.”

16 So they laid hands on her; and she went through the horses’ entrance to the king’s house, and there she was put to death.

17 And Jehoiada made a covenant between the LORD and the king and people, that they should be the LORD’s people, and also between the king and the people.

18 Then all the people of the land went to the house of Baal and tore it down; his altars and his images they broke in pieces, and they killed Mattan the priest of Baal before the altars. And the priest posted watchmen over the house of the LORD.

19 And he took the captains, the Carites, the guards, and all the people of the land, and they brought the king down from the house of the LORD, marching through the gate of the guards to the king’s house. And he took his seat on the throne of the kings.

20 So all the people of the land rejoiced, and the city was quiet after Athaliah had been put to death with the sword at the king’s house.

21  Jehoash was seven years old when he began to reign.

Such a fundamental picture of Satan destroyed according to his folly and arrogance.  Though he too may shout “Treason! Treason!”, he has no justification to do so.  He wants to be God (Ezekiel 28:9), such that Athaliah’s charisma and beauty was struck down by the innocence and incomparable authority of the young king Joash.  She shall be destroyed outside of the house of the LORD (v.15) and thrown into the pit, outside of the fellowship of believers.  It is on this Sabbath day of rest that the coronation of the king is achieved; and that the house of Baal is simultaneously destroyed with the priest of Baal permanently removed.  So the ascension of Joash as king is completed in a matter of one appointed day (Hebrews 5), the fullness of time when Christ too shall return to destroy the house of Babylon and be revealed as the King of kings despite other falsities such as Athalia as the interim king / ruler.  And this judgment shall begin at the house of God (1 Peter 4:17).

II Kings 12:

1 In the seventh year of Jehu, Jehoash began to reign, and he reigned forty years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Zibiah of Beersheba.

2 And Jehoash did what was right in the eyes of the LORD all his days, because Jehoiada the priest instructed him.

3 Nevertheless, the high places were not taken away; the people continued to sacrifice and make offerings on the high places.

4 Jehoash said to the priests, “All the money of the holy things that is brought into the house of the LORD, the money for which each man is assessed—the money from the assessment of persons—and the money that a man’s heart prompts him to bring into the house of the LORD,

5 let the priests take, each from his donor, and let them repair the house wherever any need of repairs is discovered.”

6 But by the twenty-third year of King Jehoash, the priests had made no repairs on the house.

7 Therefore King Jehoash summoned Jehoiada the priest and the other priests and said to them, “Why are you not repairing the house? Now therefore take no more money from your donors, but hand it over for the repair of the house.”

8 So the priests agreed that they should take no more money from the people, and that they should not repair the house.

9 Then Jehoiada the priest took a chest and bored a hole in the lid of it and set it beside the altar on the right side as one entered the house of the LORD. And the priests who guarded the threshold put in it all the money that was brought into the house of the LORD.

10 And whenever they saw that there was much money in the chest, the king’s secretary and the high priest came up and they bagged and counted the money that was found in the house of the LORD.

11 Then they would give the money that was weighed out into the hands of the workmen who had the oversight of the house of the LORD. And they paid it out to the carpenters and the builders who worked on the house of the LORD,

12 and to the masons and the stonecutters, as well as to buy timber and quarried stone for making repairs on the house of the LORD, and for any outlay for the repairs of the house.

13 But there were not made for the house of the LORD basins of silver, snuffers, bowls, trumpets, or any vessels of gold, or of silver, from the money that was brought into the house of the LORD,

14 for that was given to the workmen who were repairing the house of the LORD with it.

15 And they did not ask an accounting from the men into whose hand they delivered the money to pay out to the workmen, for they dealt honestly.

16 The money from the guilt offerings and the money from the sin offerings was not brought into the house of the LORD; it belonged to the priests.

The activities of v.1-16 is but a picture of Nehemiah’s building up of the temple after the Babylonian captivity.  However, the hearts of men were still faulty.  Joash reveals the state of man’s heart in v. 4-5, that “All the money of the holy things that is brought into the house of the LORD, the money for which each man is assessed—the money from the assessment of persons—and the money that a man’s heart prompts him to bring into the house of the LORD,

let the priests take, each from his donor, and let them repair the house wherever any need of repairs is discovered”.  The money was a free-will offering to repair the house of the LORD, and Joash’s focus was on ensuring that this house of worship would be the focal point of Israel rather than the high places.  Such is the marked difference between the leadership of one who walks with Jesus under the guidance of a priest of God, compared to the leadership of one who walks by the flesh, heeding poor counsel.  However, the decay of the house of the LORD is an apparent departure from Solomon’s day.  V.13 – there were not made for the house of the LORD basins of silver, snuffers, bowls, trumpets, or any vessels of gold, or of silver.  All went simply to repair.  This is not the golden city of Jerusalem of Revelation 21-22.  Joash is but repairing a shadow, the importance of which has been increasingly neglected by the people of Israel – even Joash himself.  Note the invasion by the Syrians:

17 At that time Hazael king of Syria went up and fought against Gath and took it. But when Hazael set his face to go up against Jerusalem,

18 Jehoash king of Judah took all the sacred gifts that Jehoshaphat and Jehoram and Ahaziah his fathers, the kings of Judah, had dedicated, and his own sacred gifts, and all the gold that was found in the treasuries of the house of the LORD and of the king’s house, and sent these to Hazael king of Syria. Then Hazael went away from Jerusalem.

Instead of lifting up the invasion to God, we see instead Joash gifting items in the house of the LORD to the Syrians.  This act may seem strange independent of his other account in 2 Chronicles 24, which reveals that Jehoiada was the one ensuring Joash was following Jesus:

““15 But Jehoiada grew old and full of days, and died. He was 130 years old at his death.

16 And they buried him in the city of David among the kings, because he had done good in Israel, and toward God and his house.

17 Now after the death of Jehoiada the princes of Judah came and paid homage to the king. Then the king listened to them.

18 And they abandoned the house of the LORD, the God of their fathers, and served the Asherim and the idols. And wrath came upon Judah and Jerusalem for this guilt of theirs.

19 Yet he sent prophets among them to bring them back to the LORD. These testified against them, but they would not pay attention.

20 Then the Spirit of God clothed Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest, and he stood above the people, and said to them, “Thus says God, ‘Why do you break the commandments of the LORD, so that you cannot prosper? Because you have forsaken the LORD, he has forsaken you.’”

21 But they conspired against him, and by command of the king they stoned him with stones in the court of the house of the LORD.

22 Thus Joash the king did not remember the kindness that Jehoiada, Zechariah’s father, had shown him, but killed his son. And when he was dying, he said, “May the LORD see and avenge!””

 

Instead, the king began to listen to the princes of Judah, and they “abandoned the house of the LORD” and served the Asherim and the idols.  Joash, too, abandoned the house – and thus wrath came upon Judah and Jerusalem, explaining the invasion of the Syrians.  Instead, these are the rest of the acts of Joash described in the following v.19, and so the plan against Joash in the opening of 2 Kings 11 was materialized in the end of his life.  Joash, unfortunately, was not the promised Seed who would rebuild the house of God and Israel, although his life was modeled as such by Jehoiada and Zechariah, the true worshippers of Jesus Christ.  Instead, Joash dies a gruesome death, fitting to that of a king without God.

19 Now the rest of the acts of Joash and all that he did, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah?

20 His servants arose and made a conspiracy and struck down Joash in the house of Millo, on the way that goes down to Silla.

21 It was Jozacar the son of Shimeath and Jehozabad the son of Shomer, his servants, who struck him down, so that he died. And they buried him with his fathers in the city of David, and Amaziah his son reigned in his place.

2 Kings 11-12: Jehoiada, bearing the reproach of Christ

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)

1 Kings 6: the House of the LORD (pt. 1)

We now come to the highlight of the Israelite identity – the first temple of the LORD, built by Solomon who was chosen by the LORD.  It is important for us to see that 1 Kings is not the only place where the building of the temple of spoken of, but also in 1 and 2 Chronicles where we not only see the Deuteronomist and historic view of the temple’s architecture, but the Christological meaning behind its several elements.  To begin with, in 1 Chronicles 28:5-8 we see that:

I Chronicles 28:5: And of all my sons (for the LORD has given me many sons) he has chosen Solomon my son to sit on the throne of the kingdom of the LORD over Israel.

I Chronicles 28:6: He said to me, ‘It is Solomon your son who shall build my house and my courts, for I have chosen him to be my son, and I will be his father.

I Chronicles 28:7: I will establish his kingdom forever if he continues strong in keeping my commandments and my rules, as he is today.’

I Chronicles 28:8: Now therefore in the sight of all Israel, the assembly of the LORD, and in the hearing of our God, observe and seek out all the commandments of the LORD your God, that you may possess this good land and leave it for an inheritance to your children after you forever.

Note how clearly we see the LORD identifying Solomon as the elected son of David, this peaceful man not only identified as the son of David but the son of God (1 Chronicles 28:6) – it is clear that Solomon is but another figurehead for the eternal kingdom of God.  Solomon shall by no means have an eternal kingdom, but the LORD’s establishment of Solomon’s kingdom forever (v.7) is entirely fulfilled in Christ Jesus who brought true peace in eternity (Revelation 22:5).  This temple is by no means an inanimate object of man’s sacrifice to God, but like the sacraments, it is very much an example of the gospel display to men, of God reaching out to men before we even knew Him.  For David, building the temple is an intensely spiritual activity which we cannot fully fathom unless, like Solomon, we were to “know the God of our father and serve him with a whole heart and with a willing mind” (v.9 paraphrased).  We should also importantly observe that Solomon did not plan to build this temple; this oath, preparation and dedication began with David, this second king of Israel who was the only man provided with explicit instructions on how to build this great temple (1 Chronicles 28:19).  Solomon’s role was to fulfill what David had prepared, building the temple in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, the symbolic place where Jesus appeared to David his father on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite (1 Chronicles 21:15), and more importantly where the Lamb of God would be provided and slaughtered in a more real manner than Isaac had been in Genesis 22.

Observe also the timeline in which this temple was made:

“The time when it began to be built is exactly set down. 1. It was just 480 years after the bringing of the children of Israel out of Egypt. Allowing forty years to Moses, seventeen to Joshua, 299 to the Judges, forty to Eli, forty to Samuel and Saul, forty to David, and four to Solomon before he began the work, we have just the sum of 480. So long it was after that holy state was founded before that holy house was built, which, in less than 430 years, was burnt by Nebuchadnezzar. It was thus deferred because Israel had, by their sins, rendered themselves unworthy of this honour, and because God would show how little he values external pomp and splendour in his service: he was in no haste for a temple. David’s tent, which was clean and convenient, though it was neither stately nor rich, nor, for aught that appears, ever consecrated, is called the house of the Lord (2 Sam. xii. 20), and served as well as Solomon’s temple; yet, when God gave Solomon great wealth, he put it into his heart thus to employ it, and graciously accepted him, chiefly because it was to be a shadow of good things to come, Heb. ix. 9.” – Matthew Henry

Here we must see progressive revelation of Christ at play – where Saul and David are differentiated by their very reprobation and election respectively; the rejecting of Saul as the man of physical charm, as the man elected by other men, compared against David the man after God’s heart, the man of covenant love with Saul’s son Jonathan, the man whom God elected and no other.  They are the two aspects of Israel which we see throughout the Old Testament, both born in periods of war and blood, just as Moses was the very representative of the law prior to his (non)-entrance to Canaan.

“What I mean is this. Jesus (Joshua), as I have now frequently remarked, who was called Oshea, when he was sent to spy out the land of Canaan, was named by Moses Jesus (Joshua). Why he did this you neither ask, nor are at a loss about it, nor make strict inquiries. Therefore Christ has escaped your notice; and though you read, you understand not; and even now, though you hear that Jesus is our Christ, you consider not that the name was bestowed on Him not purposelessly nor by chance. But you make a theological discussion as to why one ‘α’ was added to Abraham’s first name; and as to why one ‘ρ’ was added to Sarah’s name, you use similar high-sounding disputations.  But why do you not similarly investigate the reason why the name of Oshea the son of Nave (Nun), which his father gave him, was changed to Jesus (Joshua)? But since not only was his name altered, but he was also appointed successor to Moses, being the only one of his contemporaries who came out from Egypt, he led the surviving people into the Holy Land; and as he, not Moses, led the people into the Holy Land, and as he distributed it by lot to those who entered along with him, so also Jesus the Christ will turn again the dispersion of the people, and will distribute the good land to each one, though not in the same manner. For the former gave them a temporary inheritance, seeing he was neither Christ who is God, nor the Son of God; but the latter, after the holy resurrection, shall give us the eternal possession. The former, after he had been named Jesus (Joshua), and after he had received strength from His Spirit, caused the sun to stand still. For I have proved that it was Jesus who appeared to and conversed with Moses, and Abraham, and all the other patriarchs without exception, ministering to the will of the Father; who also, I say, came to be born man by the Virgin Mary, and I lives for ever. For the latter is He after whom and by whom the Father will renew both the heaven and the earth; this is He who shall shine an eternal light in Jerusalem; this is he who is the king of Salem after the order of Melchizedek, and the eternal Priest of the Most High. The former is said to have circumcised the people a second time with knives of stone (which was a sign of this circumcision with which Jesus Christ Himself has circumcised us from the idols made of stone and of other materials), and to have collected together those who were circumcised from the uncircumcision, i.e., from the error of the world, in every place by the knives of stone, to wit, the words of our Lord Jesus. For I have shown that Christ was proclaimed by the prophets in parables a Stone and a Rock. Accordingly the knives of stone we shall take to mean His words, by means of which so many who were in error have been circumcised from uncircumcision with the circumcision of the heart, with which God by Jesus commanded those from that time to be circumcised who derived their circumcision from Abraham, saying that Jesus (Joshua) would circumcise a second time with knives of stone those who entered into that holy land.” – Chapter CXIII.—Joshua was a figure of Christ. – Justin Martyr’s “Dialogue with Trypho”

Yet, Solomon and Joshua both play the role of fulfillment; where David the true king preaches and prepares for this temple which he hoped to build, this temple must be built only by Christ who prepares a house for us today (John 14:2-3).  Saul, like the Pharisaic Israelites, are ousted out of the picture in favour of the Christian line of prophets, priests, and kings like David, Samuel, Elijah, Elisha, John the Baptist.  Yet it is Joshua and Solomon who shall replace Moses and David respectively, as the new age of salvation (from Oshea, meaning deliverer, to Yehoshua – meaning Jehovah delivered) and peace (ShalomoSolomon’s name meaning peaceful) are the true aims of what the Old Testament and the law have been pointing us towards – the fulfillment and enactment of the gospel in historic space.

This is why we can easily proclaim as in 1 Chronicles 6:18 – “But will God indeed dwell with man on the earth?  Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you, how much less this house that I have built!”  Note that in 1 Chronicles 6:21, God is listening from heaven His “dwelling place” – even Solomon recognizes that this temple bears typological meaning; a mere shadow compared to the true dwelling place greater than heaven and highest heaven.

Temple overview

1(A) In the four hundred and eightieth year after the people of Israel came out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign over Israel, in the month of Ziv, which is the second month,(B) he began to build the house of the LORD. 2(C) The house that King Solomon built for the LORD was sixty cubits[a] long, twenty cubits wide, and thirty cubits high. 3The vestibule in front of the nave of the house was twenty cubits long, equal to the width of the house, and ten cubits deep in front of the house. 4And(D) he made for the house windows with recessed frames.[b] 5(E) He also built a structure[c] against the wall of the house, running around the walls of the house, both the nave and(F) the inner sanctuary. And he made(G) side chambers all around. 6The lowest story[d] was five cubits broad, the middle one was six cubits broad, and the third was seven cubits broad. For around the outside of the house he made offsets on the wall in order that the supporting beams should not be inserted into the walls of the house.

The building of the temple began in Solomon’s fourth year of reign, in the month of Ziv, the second month.  It is interesting to note that it is the second month in the ecclesiastical year, with the first month starting with Nisan – making Ziv the 8th month of the civil year (with the 1st civil year being Tishrei) – and it is in the month of Ziv that we have the Second Passover of Nisan 14, a year after the Exodus, in Numbers 9:11.  This “pesach sheini” is for anyone who was unable to bring the offering on its appointed time in the previous month, due to being unclean or otherwise.

Further, on the Ziv 20, we learn that this is the day that the Israelites depart their encampment near Mount Sinai and continue their journey when the pillar of cloud rose from over the tabernacle, a resumption of their travel into the Holy Land.

In both circumstances, we see a continuation of a work begun; the second Passover, the continuing travels after having already rested at Mt. Sinai; and so it is true with the meaning of the month “Ziv” – which means light, glow, oftentimes a period of blossoming in the season of spring.  It is a time of renewed life.  After twelve judges (Othniel, Ehud, Shamgar, Deborah, Gideon, Tola, Jair, Jephthah, Ibzan, Elon, Abdon, and Samson) and two kings (Saul and David), spanning over a period of 480 years (roughly averaging 30 to 40 years per judge / king), Solomon began to build the house of the LORD.  Not Hiram; not the skilled workers – but Solomon is the builder.  Hear the words of Matthew Henry on David’s preparation and Solomon’s building:

“It was in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign, the first three years being taken up in settling the affairs of his kingdom, that he might not find any embarrassment from them in this work. It is not time lost which is spent in composing ourselves for the work of God, and disentangling ourselves from every thing which might distract or divert us. During this time he was adding to the preparations which his father had made (1 Chron. xxii. 14), hewing the stone, squaring the timber, and getting every thing ready, so that he is not to be blamed for slackness in deferring it so long. We are truly serving God when we are preparing for his service and furnishing ourselves for it.”

House Structure (v.2-3)

“The house that King Solomon built for the LORD was sixty cubits[a] long, twenty cubits wide, and thirty cubits high. 3The vestibule in front of the nave of the house was twenty cubits long, equal to the width of the house, and ten cubits deep in front of the house.

Note in particular the similarity in structure between the Temple and the tabernacle; as if the Temple is but a house of the tabernacle which had already been built by God’s direction through Moses.  We begin with the vestibule, the entrance of the Temple, clearly measured 20 (width) x 10 (depth) cubits

It is here that we see the two pillars, Jachin (in the south) and Boaz (in the north) (1 Kings 7:21), both meaning the LORD shall establish and strength respectively.  The entrance of the Temple is thus established, but note that these are hollow pillars (Jeremiah 52:21) – it is thus apparent that the true support of the entrance of the Temple does not come from these pillars; observe how they were not made until one chapter later.  At this moment, we have only but the vestibule – and no pillars.

House windows (v.4)

4And(D) he made for the house windows with recessed frames.[b]

We begin with the inside of the house windows with recessed frames; though there is indication that this may be related to the lampstands of pure gold (akin to the lampstand of the tabernacle), with the lamps arranged before the LORD regularly (Leviticus 24:4); or even that the lamps may burn throughout the evening (2 Chronicles 13:11); yet nothing is spoken of regarding the lampstand or the lamps at this stage.  What we have is the first mention of windows with recessed frames, such windows located high on the side of the nave – and what are these but the windows of heaven from where the LORD provide such blessings (Malachi 3:10; 2 Kings 7:1-2), the blessing coming from the outside in, painting it with the gold of righteousness rather than the Babylonian vermilion (Jeremiah 22:14; Ezekiel 23:14-15).  Immediately, instead of focusing on the glory within the temple, we are brought to see the blessings coming from the righteous King – He is the one who dwells in the heavens, and it is the windows of heaven that we receive the truth and the Father’s Word.  The temple, however grand, is but a shadow, in comparison to the Word who descends from heaven (John 6:31-51).

Three stories of side chambers (v.5-6)


Three floors (v.5-6)

5(E) He also built a structure[c] against the wall of the house, running around the walls of the house, both the nave and(F) the inner sanctuary. And he made(G) side chambers all around.  6 The lowest story was five cubits broad, the middle one was six cubits broad, and the third was seven cubits broad. For around the outside of the house he made offsets on the wall in order that the supporting beams should not be inserted into the walls of the house.”

From v.6 we find that the side chambers, in accumulation of their widths, bear the same accumulated width as the height as the pillars (1 Kings 7:15) – 5 + 6 + 7 cubits accumulating to 18 cubits, with broader and broader and broadest space on the third story.  Being the side foundation of the temple, as “offsets” (v.6), we find a similar architecture in the very ark of God in Genesis 6:16:

Genesis 6:16: Make a roof for the ark, and finish it to a cubit above, and set the door of the ark in its side. Make it with lower, second, and third decks.

And once again in Ezekiel 42:

Ezekiel 42:1-9: Then he led me out into the outer court, toward the north, and he brought me to the chambers that were opposite the separate yard and opposite the building on the north. 2 The length of the building whose door faced north was a hundred cubits, and the breadth fifty cubits.  3 Facing the twenty cubits that belonged to the inner court, and facing the pavement that belonged to the outer court, was gallery against gallery in three stories.  4 And before the chambers was a passage inward, ten cubits wide and a hundred cubits long, and their doors were on the north.  5 Now the upper chambers were narrower, for the galleries took more away from them than from the lower and middle chambers of the building. 6 For they were in three stories, and they had no pillars like the pillars of the courts. Thus the upper chambers were set back from the ground more than the lower and the middle ones. 7 And there was a wall outside parallel to the chambers, toward the outer court, opposite the chambers, fifty cubits long. 8 For the chambers on the outer court were fifty cubits long, while those opposite the nave were a hundred cubits long. 9 Below these chambers was an entrance on the east side, as one enters them from the outer court.

In the words of Matthew Henry:

“The chambers are described (v. 5, 6), which served as vestries, in which the utensils of the tabernacle were carefully laid up, and where the priests dressed and undressed themselves and left the clothes in which they ministered: probably in some of these chambers they feasted upon the holy things. Solomon was not so intent upon the magnificence of the house as to neglect the conveniences that were requisite for the offices thereof, that every thing might be done decently and in order. Care was taken that the beams should not be fastened in the walls to weaken them, v. 6. Let not the church’s strength be impaired under pretence of adding to its beauty or convenience.”

Why is it that there are three stories to the side chambers?  Perhaps this question will soon be answered, but not before we are immediately brought back to the stone which was prepared at the quarry.

Stone (v.7)

7When the house was built,(H) it was with stone prepared at the quarry, so that neither hammer nor axe nor any tool of iron was heard in the house while it was being built.

Just as in Deuteronomy 27:5 and Joshua 8:31, the temple is built on stone which is not sculpted by hammer, axe, nor any tool of iron which could be heard in the house.  This was prepared elsewhere in the quarry – and yet such a specific instruction was not provided except to Moses and to Joshua with regards to the building of an altar of worship, on which is offered burnt and peace offerings.  Unlike any altar, this entire temple is built on the foundation of propitiatory worship, the Stone of God who was not struck (Exodus 12:46; Numbers 20:10-13) and the water is to flow from Him naturally without human intervention as He is the unblemished lamb, bearing only the Father’s wrath.

8The entrance for the lowest[e] story was on the south side of the house, and one went up by stairs to the middle story, and from the middle story to the third. 9(I) So he built the house and finished it, and he made the ceiling of the house of beams and planks of cedar. 10He built the structure against the whole house, five cubits high, and it was joined to the house with timbers of cedar.

To sum up – the inside of the temple which emulates the holy place and the holy of holies of the tabernacle, respectively symbolizing the spiritual church of Christ and the third heaven where the Father sits, is coupled with the windows of heaven in the nave of the temple which brings in the light of Christ, the bread from heaven.  And this is but covered on all three sides by the three stories of side rooms, which by ascension brings the priest to third heaven.  Is this not true of the chambers which house the priestly work (Ezra 8:29; Nehemiah 10:37-39; Ezekiel 42:13, 46:19)?  Are not these holy chambers where the priests shall eat the most holy offerings?  And yet it is in this area of exclusive offering, just as the High Priest has exclusive access to the Holy of Holies as our sole mediator, that we see an actual re-enactment of such messengers, such angels, ascending and descending on the very sides of the temple – akin to the angels of God ascending and descending on the ladder (Genesis 28:12), the ladder who is the Son of Man (John 1:51), caught in the third heaven – the third story (2 Corinthians 12:2), just as the High Priest is caught in the Holy of Holies.  Note also that there are entrances in both the south and the north of the temple akin to what is mentioned in Ezekiel 46:9 and as Matthew Henry notes: Some observe that this may remind us, in the service of God, to be still pressing forward (Phil. iii. 13) and not to look back, and, in our attendance upon ordinances, not to go back as we came, but more holy, and heavenly, and spiritual.” Indeed, like Lot’s wife who had looked back on her previous ‘glory’ in Sodom and Gomorrah and her reward was to be transformed into a pillar of salt, so also we look forward to the new creation, to a renewed third heaven joining with earth, rather than our old glory from Eden to Canaan – but to look from Canaan to True Canaan.

Frame completed (v.11-13)

11Now the word of the LORD came to Solomon, 12“Concerning this house that you are building,(J) if you will walk in my statutes and obey my rules and keep all my commandments and walk in them, then I will establish my word with you,(K) which I spoke to David your father. 13And(L) I will dwell among the children of Israel(M) and will not forsake my people Israel.”

Solomon failed this command, for it relates exclusively to Christ who can walk in His statutes, rules and commandments – the establishment of His Word is but the Word of God, spoken to David (or more literally, the rising of the Word of the LORD with David – ְּדבִרי ־ ֶאת והִקֹמִתי u·eqmthi ath – dbr·i).  Note the timing of the LORD speaking to Solomon concerning His word which came immediately after Solomon had finished building the basic structure of the temple.  The command to walk in His statutes and obey his rules and keep all his commandments and walk in them is an echo of what David had commanded Solomon (no doubt, as directed by the LORD – 1 Chronicles 28:19), and solidifies the fact that this house of the LORD is made of the Stone of Life, such stone contributing to the building of a house and altar of worship.  For it is in this propitiatory worship of burnt and peace offerings will we see the LORD dwelling among the children of Israel.  All the instructions thereafter regarding the items of the temple shall therefore contribute to the baseline message of the temple being an altar of worship; the temple being a type of Christ Himself.  He who is the Rock, the cornerstone; He who is the ladder in humiliation and ascension to third heaven; He who descends from this very third heaven as the bread of life – and it is for this reason that the temple shall be destroyed as a fulsome statement that Christ has always been this temple.  That the temple pointed clearly towards the obedience of Christ, in bringing the church (in the nave) to the inner sanctuary as third heaven; in the ascending priest in the side chambers dedicated to holiness.

Note especially that from v.10 we already learned that the side rooms are joined to the house with timbers of cedar, and furthermore that the ceiling of the house were made of beams and planks of cedar.  What is the significance of such “cedar”?  Let’s see its usage throughout the rest of the building of the house as well:

Other materials of the house (v.14-22)

Wood (v.14-18)

14(N) So Solomon built the house and finished it. 15He lined the walls of the house on the inside with boards of cedar. From the floor of the house to the walls of the ceiling, he covered them on the inside with wood,(O) and he covered the floor of the house with boards of cypress. 16(P) He built twenty cubits of the rear of the house with boards of cedar from the floor to the walls, and he built this within as an inner sanctuary, as(Q) the Most Holy Place. 17The house, that is, the nave in front of the inner sanctuary, was forty cubits long. 18The cedar within the house was carved in the form of(R) gourds and open flowers. All was cedar; no stone was seen.

It appears from v.14-18 that the beams, planks and boards of cedar are not only used to cover the ceiling of the house, connecting the side rooms, but also used as the inside wall-lining (the outside being the stone prepared at the quarry), from the floor of the house to the walls of the ceiling (v.15), the floor being covered with cypress.  Even the inner sanctuary, the Holy of Holies, was internally covered with boards of cedar – leading to a very wholesome coverage of the inside of the temple by cedar, carved in the form of gourds and open flowers (v.18 – such flowery decoration also made in Exodus 25:31-34, Numbers 8:4; and mentioned as elements of blossoming in Song of Solomon 2:12, though oftentimes used as a parable for the short life-span of men made of dust – Isaiah 40:6-8, 1 Peter 1:24), creating a huge elemental and symbolic contrast between the stony exterior and the cedar, and flowery interior, though reminding us that such beauty of the first temple is but a witness to the everlasting blossoming of New Jerusalem.

To turn back to the wood, of all elements, why “cedar” and “cypress”?

Oftentimes, cedar (especially cedar in Lebanon 1 Kings 5:6, Lebanon as a country often referenced as a land of great fruit (Psalm 72:16), of great fragrance (Song of Solomon 4:11, Hosea 14:6), of great streams (Song of Solomon 4:15), of great beauty (Song of Solomon 5:15), of great wine (Hosea 14:7) – all signified by its name which means “white” as the white mountain range of Syria, such purity associated to the very temple of God) are referred to as strong wood (“the righteous…grow like a cedar in Lebanon” – Psalm 92:12), similar to cypress trees which also grow strong among the trees of the forest (Isaiah 44:14), and is compared in contrast to thorns (Isaiah 55:13), such beautiful wood representing the glory of Lebanon (Isaiah 60:13) described as beautifying the house of the LORD.  The reddish and odiferous cedar is used in contrast to the acacia wood, the word representing the “thorn” – and in both instances we find the wood used for the tabernacle (Exodus 25-38) and the temple respectively similarly covered with gold.  This symbolically pushes us in the direction of new creation glory in those who are protected by the aromatic, durable and insect repelling acacian, cedar and cypress wood, for it is in the red blood of the cross and the thorns of Christ’s crown that we see can stand firmly in the house of the LORD un-condemned, the true glory of such wood revealed by its new external surface of gold rather than such Christian symbols representing mere secular mediocrity.

Gold (v.19-22)


19The inner sanctuary he prepared in the innermost part of the house, to set there the ark of the covenant of the LORD. 20The inner sanctuary[f] was twenty cubits long, twenty cubits wide, and twenty cubits high, and he overlaid it with pure gold. He also overlaid[g] an altar of cedar. 21And Solomon overlaid the inside of the house with pure gold, and he drew chains of gold across, in front of the inner sanctuary, and overlaid it with gold. 22And he overlaid the whole house with gold, until all the house was finished.(S) Also the whole altar that belonged to the inner sanctuary he overlaid with gold.

Inner sanctuary (akin to the layout of the Holy of Holies in the tabernacle – Exodus 26:31-37, shaped in a cube; the Holy of Holies was 15 feet in height, width and length) here is measured as twenty cubits long, wide and high – and both the Holy of Holies of the tabernacle and the inner sanctuary clearly point towards the cubic new creation city of Jerusalem in Revelation 21:16 (12,000 stadia in height, width, and length).    Note also that, like the tabernacle (Exodus 25-28), all in the inner sanctuary is made golden (v.20-23) – in reminiscence of the true El Dorado – the true city of gold, New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:2), as we will later find that not only the inner sanctuary but also the rest of the temple is overlaid with gold (2 Chronicles 3:7).  This is also not just any gold – but the gold of the oriental east, the gold of Parvaim.  Indeed, by the hands of Gentiles, by the resources of Hiram, by the gold of the East, and by the Spirit of God through Solomon the typological son of God, we are brought to a physical image of the new heavenly city to come – and it would not be complete without God’s presence with us in the temple for new creation is not complete without Him being with us (Luke 1:32; Acts 2:33; Revelation 21:3).  It is therefore most important that the one thing not replaced or renewed in this temple is the very ark of the covenant, who has remained unchanged just as the LORD will dwell with us in His unchanging full glory:

“Solomon made every thing new, and more magnificent than it had been, except the ark, which was still the same that Moses made, with its mercy-seat and cherubim; that was the token of God’s presence, which is always the same with his people whether they meet in tent or temple, and changes not with their condition.”

Which brings us to the golden chariot throne – note the difference also between the Deuteronomist and the Chronicler in recounting the building of the temple – especially the omission of the golden chariot throne in the inner sanctuary which is mentioned in 1 Chronicles 29:18, screened by a veil of blue, purple and crimson, woven with fine linen and embroidered with cherubim (2 Chronicles 3:14), a combination of colours of royalty and judgment first mentioned in the instructions for the building of the tabernacle (Exodus 25:4; 26:1, 4, 31, 36; 27:16; 28:5-8, 15, 33-37).  It is the Father who shall sit on this throne, fellowshipping with us.

“The Chronicler described the holy of holies as ‘the house of the kapporet’ (1 Chronicles 28:11).  The translation of kapporet is an interesting indication of the translators’ concerns.  We are invited to think of the kapporet as an adjunct of the ark which held the ten commandments, its lid or its cover, whereas in fact the kapporet was the throne or the symbol of the throne, the central feature of the temple, the place where the LORD appeared (Leviticus 16:2).  In the temple, where the cherubim over the ark were the huge creatures which formed the golden throne in the holy of holies, it was the LORD who was the enthroned there: ‘Thou who are enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth’ (Psalms 80:11), or the human king who was the LORD with his people, Immanuel.  Solomon sat on the throne of the LORD as king, wrote the Chronicler, and the people worshipped him, Solomon (1 Chronicles 29.20, 23).  Enthronement on the kapporet was the final stage in theosis, which, as we have seen, was resurrection.  The Lamb enthroned in the Book of Revelation is one with God.  ‘The throne of God and of the Lamb’ shall be there and they shall ‘worship him’ (singular; Revelation 22:3).” – Margaret Barker in “Temple Theology”

Cherubim (v.23-29)

23(T) In the inner sanctuary(U) he made two cherubim of olivewood, each ten cubits high. 24Five cubits was the length of one wing of the cherub, and five cubits the length of the other wing of the cherub; it was ten cubits from the tip of one wing to the tip of the other. 25The other cherub also measured ten cubits; both cherubim had the same measure and the same form. 26The height of one cherub was ten cubits, and so was that of the other cherub. 27He put the cherubim in the innermost part of the house.(V) And the wings of the cherubim were spread out so that a wing of one touched the one wall, and a wing of the other cherub touched the other wall; their other wings touched each other in the middle of the house. 28And he overlaid the cherubim with gold.

In this inner sanctuary we do not immediately move to the overlaying of gold; but instead, we are first brought to the witnessing of the joint cherubim covering the width of this temple’s Holy of Holies (v.24-25), being ten cubits high (v.23, 26) and ten cubits wide from the tip of one wing to the tip of another.  This is reflective of the cherubim being the sent ones which carry the throne (Isaiah 37:16; Ezekiel 10:1-2), once again indicating that this temple, this altar of worship made of the Stone of Life, is reflective of the spiritual reality of third heaven which Moses had similarly received (Hebrews 8:5).  In this inner sanctuary, the High Priest peers into what no man could peer except through the High Priest.  To overlay the olivewood cherubim with gold (2 Chronicles 3:10) is, akin to the overlaying of gold in the entire inner sanctuary (v.20-22), matching the majesty of the third heaven which is unlike what we have perceived as righteousness on our side of creation (symbolized by the strong, colourful, odiferous cedar and cypress wood).  What is further revealed by the Chronicler is that the house was adorned not only with the beautiful Stone, the work on which was not heard in the temple, inlaid with cedar and cypress wood and overlaid in the inner sanctuary by gold – but also that the house was set with precious stones (reminding us of the precious stones used in Exodus 28) and gold of Parvaim, which is the lining of the whole house, its beams, thresholds, walls and doors (v.30; 2 Chronicles 3:7).

Unlike cedar and cypress, this olive wood which the cherubim are made of is often referred to as a life-giving plant, beautiful with good fruit (Psalms 52:8; Jeremiah 11:16).  Furthermore, it has also been related in parallel two the temple lampstands (Revelation 11:4) by which light, representing the Holy Spirit (Exodus 25:31-40; Zechariah 4:1-6) tells us much about the reason why olive is used in relation to the cherubim.

29Around all the walls of the house he carved engraved figures of cherubim and palm trees and open flowers, in the inner and outer rooms. 30The floor of the house he overlaid with gold in the inner and outer rooms.

Finally, note also that the cherubim do not only surround the throne, but also engraved around the walls of the house (2 Chronicles 3:7) alongside palm trees and open flowers.  The golden cherubim, palm trees and open flowers etched into the wall and standing firm in over the throne and mercy seat of the Ark of Covenant in the Holy of Holies.  This particular instruction concords with the artistic inclusion of the cherubim in the curtains of the tabernacle (Exodus 26, 36, 37, 37:9 especially which points to the cherubim overshadowing the mercy seat with their wings, the combination of cherubim around the Father’s throne, and the guardian cherub guarding the way to the tree of life in Genesis 3:24).

It would seem, however, that the new inclusions would be the gourds, palm trees and open flowers.  Such palm trees, like cedar, are referred to as a flourishing tree by which the righteous are compared (Exodus 15:27; Psalm 92:12), furthermore that such palm trees even becoming the identifying factor of a landmark city like Jericho (2 Chronicles 28:15).  Jericho is known as a city of fragrance, fenced in the midst of a vast grove of palm trees in the plain of Jordan over the place where the river was crossed by Israel in Joshua 3:16, one of the most important cities to devote to destruction / holiness to the LORD prior to Israel’s inhabitation of the remainder of Canaan.  If such palm trees signify such peace and rest (akin to the narrative in Exodus 15:27) and victory over Canaan, then it makes sense for its usage in John 12:13, representing Hosanna, the very eternal salvation fulfilled in Christ and only typologically fulfilled in the conquering of Canaan through Jericho.

The Entrances into the Inner Sanctuary and the Nave of the Temple (v.31-35)


31For the entrance to the inner sanctuary he made doors of olivewood; the lintel and the doorposts were five-sided.[h] 32He covered the two doors of olivewood with carvings of cherubim, palm trees, and open flowers. He overlaid them with gold and spread gold on the cherubim and on the palm trees. 33So also he made for the entrance to the nave doorposts of olivewood, in the form of a square, 34and two doors of cypress wood.(W) The two leaves of the one door were folding, and the two leaves of the other door were folding. 35On them he carved cherubim and palm trees and open flowers, and he overlaid them with gold evenly applied on the carved work.

Once again, the symbolic olivewood, the same wood used to make the cherubim in the inner sanctuary, is the material used for the inner sanctuary – and the lintel and the doorposts were five-sided, enabling a folding effect on these two doors.  To carry on the theme of the temple, carvings of cherubim, palm trees and open flowers are used as well, unsurprisingly overlaid with gold.

The same material is also used for the entrance to the nave doorposts, though the doors themselves are made of cypress wood.  Such beautiful wood opening us into the nave of the temple, into the very church of Christ; and it is by the five-sided double doors of olivewood that we are brought into the Holy of Holies, the inner sanctuary.

There seems to be a stark difference in the entrance here compared to the entrance to the tabernacle, both facing the east.  Where the tent of entrance into the tabernacle had no cherubim etched into the veil (Exodus 26:36), representing the cherub only standing between us and the tree of life in Genesis 3:24 (also at the east entrance of the garden), representing the veil between the Holy of Holies and Holy Place (Exodus 26:31-35) – yet it would appear that the gold is both on the inside and outside of the temple here (unlike any other part of the temple).  Only by this entrance are we invited to see the inside of what the temple is like, when the entrance outside could have remained purely olivewood.

Aside from the repeated use of such symbolic elements, note also how the two leaves of either doors into the nave were folding, reminiscent of the healing leaves of the nations as the very entrance of the door to the temple (Ezekiel 47:1-12; Revelation 22:2).

Inner court (v.36)

36(X) He built the inner court with three courses of cut stone and one course of cedar beams.

Note finally the inner court which was built with cut stone and barely with cedar beams; such a large contrast outside the temple compared with the inside which is overlaid evenly with the golden glory of new creation, glorifying and refining (Malachi 3:2-3) the wood of olive, cedar, and cypress, shaped into open flowers, gourds, palm trees and cherubim.  Such stone is indicatively cut here in comparison to the stone prepared in the quarry, and the uncut stone of the altar of worship in (Deuteronomy 27:5) – defining those who, though standing in the inner court of the temple’s presence, is still standing outside the church of Christ though receiving the heavenly sacrament of His Word in the combination of the symbolic cedar beams and equally symbolic cut stone, representing the work to being made in this creation but compared against the stone on which no work in the vicinity of the temple has been done, representing the work completed in new creation.

Temple completed (v.37-38)

37(Y) In the fourth year the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid, in the month of Ziv. 38And in the eleventh year, in the month of Bul, which is the eighth month, the house was finished in all its parts, and according to all its specifications. He was seven years in building it.

And so, the building of the temple began in the significant month of Ziv in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign, and ended seven years afterwards, in the month of Bul (meaning rainy) – the eighth month of the ecclesiastical (second month of the civil) year.  Interestingly, this is the same period of time of David’s ruling over Judah (2 Samuel 5:5), and this month is often referred to as a bitter month of no holidays nor special fasts, a month representing rain and judgment.  Thus the temple was built upon the timing and premise of “second chances” of Passover, but ending in an empty month of Rachel’s Yartzeit (11 Bul); the beginning of the Noahic global flood (17 Bul), the same day as the completion of this first temple, though not inaugurated until the following Tishrei in 2 Chronicles 5; that though it is completed in the month of the flood, it is truly inaugurated in the month of the first creation of Adam and Eve on Tishrei 1st, and the same month of the “second chance” fulfilled by the Day of Atonement on Tishrei 10th – Leviticus 16.  Let us end, once again, learn to encounter Christ not only through the tabernacle, not only through Solomon’s first temple, but most importantly to see Him as the Plumb Line, the uncut Stone, the Chief Sent One, the inspiration of Ezekiel’s temple all of which is fully revealed in New Jerusalem:

“Let us now see what was typified by this temple. 1. Christ is the true temple; he himself spoke of the temple of his body, John ii. 21. God himself prepared him his body, Heb. x. 5. In him dwelt the fulness of the Godhead, as the Shechinah in the temple. In him meet all God’s spiritual Israel. Through him we have access with confidence to God. All the angels of God, those blessed cherubim, have a charge to worship him. 2. Every believer is a living temple, in whom the Spirit of God dwells, 1 Cor. iii. 16. Even the body is such by virtue of its union with the soul, 1 Cor. vi. 19. We are not only wonderfully made by the divine providence, but more wonderfully made anew by the divine grace. This living temple is built upon Christ as its foundation and will be perfected in due time. 3. The gospel church is the mystical temple; it grows to a holy temple in the Lord (Eph. ii. 21), enriched and beautified with the gifts and graces of the Spirit, as Solomon’s temple with gold and precious stones. Only Jews built the tabernacle, but Gentiles joined with them in building the temple. Even strangers and foreigners are built up a habitation of God, Eph. ii. 19, 22. The temple was divided into the holy place and the most holy, the courts of it into the outer and inner; so there are the visible and the invisible church. The door into the temple was wider than that into the oracle. Many enter into profession that come short of salvation. This temple is built firm, upon a rock, not to be taken down as the tabernacle of the Old Testament was. The temple was long in preparing, but was built at last. The top-stone of the gospel church will, at length, be brought forth with shoutings, and it is a pity that there should be the clashing of axes and hammers in the building of it. Angels are ministering spirits, attending the church on all sides and all the members of it. 4. Heaven is the everlasting temple. There the church will be fixed, and no longer movable. The streets of the new Jerusalem, in allusion to the flooring of the temple, are said to be of pure gold, Rev. xxi. 21. The cherubim there always attend the throne of glory. The temple was uniform, and in heaven there is the perfection of beauty and harmony. In Solomon’s temple there was no noise of axes and hammers. Every thing is quiet and serene in heaven; all that shall be stones in that building must in the present sate of probation and preparation be fitted and made ready for it, must be hewn and squared by divine grace, and so made meet for a place there.” – Matthew Henry

1 Kings 6: the House of the LORD (pt. 1)

2 Samuel 23: The Three and the Church

From David’s prophetic song of Christ in 2 Samuel 22, we move to David’s last words, which once again can point only away from himself. V.5 in particular – “he has made with me an everlasting covenant”: is this covenant broken when the house of David has been scattered and dispersed?  No – we are indeed grafted in the house of David by Christ Himself.  For David’s last words, by the Spirit of the LORD, proclaims the Son of God as the Man who secures one’s eternality in the everlasting House of Israel.  To His children, He is the sun shining forth on a cloudless morning, like rain that makes grass to sprout from the earth (v.4) – yet to those standing outside of Christ, these worthless men are subject of a consuming fire (v.7 – Genesis 19:24; Daniel 3:27; compare Genesis 2:5 and Genesis 7:4).

2Sa 23:1-39  Now these are the last words of David: The oracle of David, the son of Jesse, the oracle of the man who was raised on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, the sweet psalmist of Israel:  (2)  “The Spirit of the LORD speaks by me; his word is on my tongue.  (3)  The God of Israel has spoken; the Rock of Israel has said to me: When one rules justly over men, ruling in the fear of God,  (4)  he dawns on them like the morning light, like the sun shining forth on a cloudless morning, like rain that makes grass to sprout from the earth.  (5)  “For does not my house stand so with God? For he has made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and secure. For will he not cause to prosper all my help and my desire?  (6)  But worthless men are all like thorns that are thrown away, for they cannot be taken with the hand;  (7)  but the man who touches them arms himself with iron and the shaft of a spear, and they are utterly consumed with fire.”

What is interesting to note is that honorific verses following David’s praise of the LORD is key to understanding David’s theology when he describes the good works of the saints; the righteousness of the saints; the cleanness of the saints.  The praise song of David in the previous chapter recognizes that it is the LORD who rebukes the waters; it is the LORD who forgives men of sins; it is the LORD who lights the dark path which David would have otherwise trodden.  Similarly, it is the LORD who has made with David an everlasting covenant – ordered in all things and secure (v.5).  Such assurance of faith is not the same as one who is relying on his “clean” hands for salvation; rather, it is salvation which came first, then came these mighty men.

Note in particular verses 3 and 4 which is currently translated in the ESV as:

3The God of Israel has spoken;

the Rock of Israel has said to me:
When one rules justly over men,
ruling in the fear of God,
4he dawns on them like the morning light,
like the sun shining forth on a cloudless morning,
like rain that makes grass to sprout from the earth.

Adam Clarke notes that v.3 should be far more theocentric – “He that ruleth over men must be just” (מושל באדם צדיק  moshel baadam tsaddik), or “He that ruleth in man is the just one”; or, “The just one is the ruler among men”.  It is clear that from Clarke’s rendition of the Hebrew, we cannot escape that this “ruler” is not speaking of any men; it isn’t speaking as if David should aspire to be the alpha and omega of the meaning behind this “ruler”.  Rather, this ruler is the just one.  Clarke goes on to say regarding the latter half of v.3, “It is by God’s fear that Jesus Christ rules the hearts of all his followers; and he who has not the fear of God before his eyes, can never be a Christian”, explicitly referring to this “ruler” whom David refers to as Christ Jesus.  If so, the verses following make more sense – this Ruler, the Light of the world, shall be “like the morning light” (c.f. Genesis 1, “Let there be light” – light is not created on day 1, but is the first Word proclaimed by the Father).  Clarke also continues in the same vein of thinking: “As the Messiah seems to be the whole subject of these last words of David, he is probably the person intended. One of Dr. Kennicott’s MSS. Supplies the word יהוה  Yehovah; and he therefore translates, As the light of the morning ariseth Jehovah… He shall be the Sun of righteousness, bringing salvation in his rays, and shining – illuminating the children of men, with increasing splendor, as long as the sun and moon endure.”

Yet, it is important to recognize that not all of these mighty men were cut from the same cloth as we turn back to them from v.8 onwards.  We begin with the three:

(8)  These are the names of the mighty men whom David had: Josheb-basshebeth a Tahchemonite; he was chief of the three. He wielded his spear against eight hundred whom he killed at one time.  (9)  And next to him among the three mighty men was Eleazar the son of Dodo, son of Ahohi. He was with David when they defied the Philistines who were gathered there for battle, and the men of Israel withdrew.  (10)  He rose and struck down the Philistines until his hand was weary, and his hand clung to the sword. And the LORD brought about a great victory that day, and the men returned after him only to strip the slain.  (11)  And next to him was Shammah, the son of Agee the Hararite. The Philistines gathered together at Lehi, where there was a plot of ground full of lentils, and the men fled from the Philistines.  (12)  But he took his stand in the midst of the plot and defended it and struck down the Philistines, and the LORD worked a great victory.  (13)  And three of the thirty chief men went down and came about harvest time to David at the cave of Adullam, when a band of Philistines was encamped in the Valley of Rephaim.  (14)  David was then in the stronghold, and the garrison of the Philistines was then at Bethlehem.  (15)  And David said longingly, “Oh, that someone would give me water to drink from the well of Bethlehem that is by the gate!”  (16)  Then the three mighty men broke through the camp of the Philistines and drew water out of the well of Bethlehem that was by the gate and carried and brought it to David. But he would not drink of it. He poured it out to the LORD  (17)  and said, “Far be it from me, O LORD, that I should do this. Shall I drink the blood of the men who went at the risk of their lives?” Therefore he would not drink it. These things the three mighty men did.

Note how David, upon the willing sacrifice of these three loyal men (c.f. event of v.13 was recorded in 2 Samuel 5:17), poured out what David had considered to be their blood (v.17) to the LORD (v.16) – and such is the definitive picture of the Christ, poured out and anointed (the Hebrew for “poured” in v.16 is nasak, נָסַךְ, which could mean both “poured out” and used in the context of the anointing of a king) before the LORD to fulfill that true thirst of David (Matthew 26:28; John 4:10-11; Revelation 7:17), the water which came from the house of bread the birthplace of the incarnate Son of God.  These three are akin to the missional Trinity, working as one family of different roles and Persons to fulfil the salvific work glorified through the Son; the wise Tehchemonite, the aided Eleazar, son of love and rest, and Shammah born of desolation, inflicting judgment and wrath.  Is this not the united truth of the Triune Elohim, the wisdom of the Spirit leading us to the beloved and aided Son of the love and Sabbath rest to come from the Father who inflicts both his overflowing love and wrath through His God-man Elect One.

(18)  Now Abishai, the brother of Joab, the son of Zeruiah, was chief of the thirty. And he wielded his spear against three hundred men and killed them and won a name beside the three.  (19)  He was the most renowned of the thirty and became their commander, but he did not attain to the three.  (20)  And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was a valiant man of Kabzeel, a doer of great deeds. He struck down two ariels of Moab. He also went down and struck down a lion in a pit on a day when snow had fallen.  (21)  And he struck down an Egyptian, a handsome man. The Egyptian had a spear in his hand, but Benaiah went down to him with a staff and snatched the spear out of the Egyptian’s hand and killed him with his own spear.  (22)  These things did Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and won a name beside the three mighty men.  (23)  He was renowned among the thirty, but he did not attain to the three. And David set him over his bodyguard.  (24)  Asahel the brother of Joab was one of the thirty; Elhanan the son of Dodo of Bethlehem,  (25)  Shammah of Harod, Elika of Harod,  (26)  Helez the Paltite, Ira the son of Ikkesh of Tekoa,  (27)  Abiezer of Anathoth, Mebunnai the Hushathite,  (28)  Zalmon the Ahohite, Maharai of Netophah,  (29)  Heleb the son of Baanah of Netophah, Ittai the son of Ribai of Gibeah of the people of Benjamin,  (30)  Benaiah of Pirathon, Hiddai of the brooks of Gaash,  (31)  Abi-albon the Arbathite, Azmaveth of Bahurim,  (32)  Eliahba the Shaalbonite, the sons of Jashen, Jonathan,  (33)  Shammah the Hararite, Ahiam the son of Sharar the Hararite,  (34)  Eliphelet the son of Ahasbai of Maacah, Eliam the son of Ahithophel of Gilo,  (35)  Hezro of Carmel, Paarai the Arbite,  (36)  Igal the son of Nathan of Zobah, Bani the Gadite,  (37)  Zelek the Ammonite, Naharai of Beeroth, the armor-bearer of Joab the son of Zeruiah,  (38)  Ira the Ithrite, Gareb the Ithrite,  (39)  Uriah the Hittite: thirty-seven in all.

And it is from v.18 to 39 that we see the church formation – from David the pastor, to the three elders / deacons (Numbers 11; Titus 1; 1 Timothy 3), to the church.  Here we see the hierarchy of the early ancient church which had begun in Moses’ time, which truly stems from the Trinitarian creator Elohim who had commanded Adam to populate the earth with His children (though it seems the mandate came after the fall in His promise of the Son as Messiah – Genesis 3:15-16), rather than children of darkness.  It is in the names of these 37 (including David), that we are brought to recognize the might of these heroes of David’s league – from Abishai (father of gift) who as chief of the thirty won his name in walking victoriously before the three hundred men, to Benaiah, the man whom Yahweh has built up and struck down the heroes of Moab ( ית תרין רברבי מואב  yath terein rabrebey Moab, “The two princes of Moab.” – according to Adam Clarke’s translation) (v.18-20); he who also struck down a lion and approached the man of appearance, the powerful seemingly supernatural (as the Hebrew would describe it) man of Egypt with his seemingly feeble staff, only to turn on the enemy with his own weapon (Habbakuk 3:14).

And these are but the great deeds (c.f. v.20) of two of the thirty, let alone the God-made (Asahel) to He has saved (Helez); from milk and full richness / fatness (Heleb) to whom God is salvation (Eliphelet); but also from my God rejects (Elika) to shady (Zalmon); from desolation and astonishment (Shammah) to scabby (Gareb).  We do not merely have men of renown, but also men of disrepute; men of Israel, but also men who have newly joined Israel (e.g. Ittai); and in this thirty we see the great mixed multitude of the church brought out of Egypt (Exodus 12:38), of the prophecy fulfilled (Genesis 9) and the Gentiles and Israelites fulfilling the commission of the Trinity in the same tent (Isaiah 54:2).  Note especially Matthew Henry’s words in closing of this chapter:

“The surnames here given them are taken, as it should seem, from the places of their birth or habitation, as many surnames with us originally were. From all parts of the nation, the most wise and valiant were picked up to serve the king. Several of those who are named we find captains of the twelve courses which David appointed, one for each month in the year, 1 Chr. 27. Those that did worthily were preferred according to their merits. One of them was the son of Ahithophel (2Sa_23:34), the son famous in the camp as the father at the council-board. But to find Uriah the Hittite bringing up the rear of these worthies, as it revives the remembrance of David’s sin, so it aggravates it, that a man who deserved so well of his king and country should be so ill treated. Joab is not mentioned among all these, either, (1.) to be mentioned; the first, of the first three sat chief among the captains, but Joab was over them as general. Or, (2.) Because he was so bad that he did not deserve to be mentioned; for though he was confessedly a great soldier, and one that had so much religion in him as to dedicate of his spoils to the house of God (1Ch_26:28), yet he lost as much honour by slaying two of David’s friends as ever he got by slaying his enemies.

Christ, the Son of David, has his worthies too, who like David’s, are influenced by his example, fight his battles against the spiritual enemies of his kingdom, and in his strength are more than conquerors. Christ’s apostles were his immediate attendants, did and suffered great things for him, and at length came to reign with him. They are mentioned with honour in the New Testament, as these in the Old, especially, Rev_21:14. Nay, all the good soldiers of Jesus Christ have their names better preserved than even these worthies have; for they are written in heaven. This honour have all his saints.”

It is also important for us not to forget the refrain in v.19 and v.23 – “but he did not attain to the three”.  There is something special about the three which is fundamentally different from the thirty.  Though they had enjoyed the equal fellowship of David the King, they were not of a compromised quality like the son of Zeruiah – let alone that Joab has not even been mentioned amongst these great men (1 Kings 2:5); but the key difference lies in them pouring out their life for David as if pouring out their blood before the LORD.  In the three, we see a picture of the Trinity working through the Son in achieving that great picture of redemption in the pouring out of the water.  This is not a duty which the sons of Zeruiah can do.

Finally, what a sting it is that Uriah should be mentioned at the end of the thirty, as if to highlight once again that David is but one of these men and not the true centre of the three, nor the true king of the great thirty or of the chosen nation Israel.  He is no different and is redeemed from his humble youth and anointed king despite being the grand schemer, murderer and adulterer who had been promised to be given an eternal kingdom through his offspring (2 Samuel 7), just as Adam had (Genesis 3:15) the moment he subverted Christ’s headship and replaced it with the serpent’s.

2 Samuel 23: The Three and the Church

1 Samuel 9: The Servant-Leader

Saul is Israel, Israel is Saul.  When Jacob was plucked out of anonymity, he could echo Saul’s words: “Am I not… from the least of the tribes…?  And is not my clan the humblest of all the clans…?  Why then have you spoken to me in this way?”

Yet, there are signs in which Saul is to fulfil the prophecy of the one who is misplaced on the throne of Israel; that he is the tyrannous king of 1 Samuel 8.  He who hails from the tribe of Benjamin, the ravenous wolf in the morning devouring the prey and at evening dividing the spoil (Genesis 49:27).  This is the mark of the king who will (chapter 8:14-18) take the best of the Israelites’ field and vineyard and olive orchards and give them to his servants, taking their male and female servants and the best of their young men and donkeys and put them to work.  This is the ravenous wolf who will enslave them.  Saul is the son of Ben-oni – the son of sorrow, the original name of Rachel’s last son.  Yet Jacob erroneously calls him Benjamin, the son of the right hand – the right hand which indicates strength, priority and headship in a family as is Christ who stands at the right hand of the Father.  Saul is the son of Kish, the bow, and by this warrior bow and by this righteousness by the right hand shall Saul be portrayed – yet Saul is not the son of the right hand for he is the wolf who will cause sorrow for Israel; cause sorrow for Samuel (c.f. 1 Samuel 15 and 16) who will be replaced by the true son of Judah (Genesis 49:9).  It is in Judah that we find true humility; the great lion who has stooped down, far from the false pretence of humility of the wolf in sheep’s clothing.  Saul is the leader of donkeys which he cannot find, and after three days he finds the type of Christ – Samuel – he who had prophesied that Saul himself would be that tyrannous king in the previous chapter.  It is mysterious as to who found the donkey, but the real importance lies in the fact that the donkeys were found – but not by Saul.

Saul had gone to four different places, but it is his servant who ushered his master to seek the seer, a term fitting for the situation.  Samuel is the prophet-seer, the spokesman who is inspired by the Word and who, as “seer”, is defined as one who is perceptive and who truly has his eyes opened.  It is the servant who provided the right offering (v.8) – which is all that the servant had (quarter of a shekel), and like Mary in John 12:3 who offered all of what she had in praise and worship, so this servant’s hear was hear before the LORD.  It is the LORD who identified the servant of Saul as one who was fitting to feast with Samuel the type of Christ, and this servant had enjoyed all these blessings because of his knowledge of the importance of the seer; because of his greater persistence in pursuing the donkeys when compared to Saul’s half-heartedness.  The servant portrays Christ’s attitude to salvation as the true characteristic of The King of Israel (Matthew 18:12), and for this reason the LORD describes to Samuel in v.17 – “Here is the man of whom I spoke to you!  He it is who shall restrain my people” – the operative word, “restrain” (עצר), being a peculiar Hebrew term very different from malak which is the word associated to a king’s reigning.  Instead, the Hebrew of restrain implies constraint, a withholding and closing-up.

And indeed, that is the truth of Saul – the type of Israel.  He had roots which were humble, like Jacob who was not initially Isaac’s chosen one on his right hand – instead, Jacob ‘stole’ Esau’s birth-right and was exalted to Isaac’s right hand.  Similarly, Saul is from a humble family of Benjaminites, yet his name and his character as an expected man of righteousness is like the law which curses us; like the law which was withheld in Israel, just as Samuel tells the servant to pass on before them (v.27), although it is the servant who had a circumcised heart though it was unlikely that he had the Torah (c.f. Romans 2) the same way Saul did (v.27) upon the personal tuition Samuel gave him.  Similarly, though Israel was the firstborn son of God and was the first of an ethnic nation to receive the law en masse through the administration of Moses, the servant represented the Gentile who shames Saul; the servant represented the gospel which reveals the law, and thus the servant shames the fake-king.  And thus is this first king of Israel who shall restrain the gospel from going forth as he, like the Pharisees, would keep the law restricted to Israel and keep the Israelites condemned for failing to reveal the gospel.  Yet, the law and gospel is for every nation, so that the true King is praised for seeking out even the one sheep in the wilderness; yet Saul’s ministry is very much defined by Samuel’s words in 1 Samuel 15:

1Sa 15:22-23  And Samuel said, “Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.  (23)  For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has also rejected you from being king.”

Through this ‘restraining’ led by Saul; through the witnessing of the servant who did not receive the word of the LORD like Saul did and yet was truly circumcised by pondering on the Torah in a different way and received food-fellowship with the great guests of the Seer (much like the feast of Exodus 24); and through the mighty appearance though compromised life of Saul’s integrity in Christ (whom He did not truly know nor see), the object of the burnt offerings, do we see a king who focuses on two things:  the Torah in and of-itself as not pointing to the crucified Saviour thus leading to burnt offerings which are underlined by sinful rebellion; and the ethnic exclusivity of Israel as he fails his mission to lead a nation as priesthood and light to the neighbouring nations.

1 Samuel 9: The Servant-Leader

Judges 17-18: The House of God at Shiloh

Judges 17:  False Gospel

The False Tabernacle and the False Gospel

Commentators have postulated that chapters 17-18 are located in a chronology previous to that of the period of judges.  V.6 is indicative of the period, though strictly speaking the judges were not kings.  We must remember that the judges are placed firmly between the time when Israel was led entirely by the Angel of the LORD, when men like Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were led also by His physical divine appearances alongside other mediators who typified the role of Christ in their lives; and the time when Israel finally received a rightful king like the surrounding nations – but neither these mediators nor judges nor kings are sufficient in themselves unless they brought the Israelites closer to Yahweh.

It is interesting to note the contrast between chapter 17 and the previous chapters of Judges.  The noted pattern is that of fall, redemption; and fall, redemption.  Here, we see a period where there are no judges.  There is no typified redeemer.  And what a chaotic period is must have been, because these Israelites in the latter chapters of Judges are no saints such that judges were not necessary, for they have not placed their faith in Christ.

1There was a man of(A) the hill country of Ephraim, whose name was Micah. 2And he said to his mother, “The 1,100 pieces of silver that were taken from you, about which you uttered a curse, and also spoke it in my ears, behold, the silver is with me; I took it.” And his mother said,(B) “Blessed be my son by the LORD.” 3And he restored the 1,100 pieces of silver to his mother. And his mother said, “I dedicate the silver to the LORD from my hand for my son, to make(C) a carved image and(D) a metal image. Now therefore I will restore it to you.” 4So when he restored the money to his mother, his mother(E) took 200 pieces of silver and gave it to the silversmith, who made it into a carved image and a metal image. And it was in the house of Micah. 5And the man Micah had a shrine, and he made(F) an ephod and(G) household gods, and(H) ordained[a] one of his sons, who became his priest. 6(I) In those days there was no king in Israel.(J) Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.

And so the chapter begins with a man called Micah – “who is like God?”  From the name itself, the Hebrew reader is led to falsely assume that this is a man who wishes to be led by God; and in some sense, this is true, through not for Christ-glorifying reasons.  This is a man who stole money from his mother, restored it out of fear of being cursed by her; this is a man who sought to create his own temple of God, sought to make his own tabernacle and equipment, sought to establish his own priest, so that he can give glory to the LORD.  However, this is also a man much like he who is described in Matthew 7:  21(Z) “Not everyone who(AA) says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will(AB) enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who(AC) does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22(AD) On that day(AE) many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not(AF) prophesy in your name, and cast out demons(AG) in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23(AH) And then will I declare to them, ‘I(AI) never knew you;(AJ) depart from me,(AK) you workers of lawlessness.’

Matthew Henry reveals that in v.5, it is more fitting to describe Micah as having “a house of gods, a house of God, so the Septuagint, for so he thought it, as good as that at Shiloh, and better because his own, of his own inventing and at his own disposal; for people love to have their religion under their girdle, to manage it as they please. A house of error, so the Chaldee, for really it was so, a deviation from the way of truth and an inlet to all deceit. Idolatry is a great cheat, and one of the worst of errors. That which he aimed at in the progress of his idolatry, whether he designed it at first or no, was to mimic and rival both God’s oracles and his ordinances.

Indeed, let us look at what he has tried to accomplish.  Firstly, his production of teraphim, the images by which he might seek advice – these are his “oracles”, his own equivalent to the urim and thummim.  Secondly, the usage of his house as a temple of God, with a copy of the ephod for his appointed priest.  What ridicule this is, to create their own tabernacle, when Joshua 22 had so firmly taught that there is only one altar, the brazen altar of the true House of God.  Adam Clarke describes these things:

“Perhaps the whole of this case may be stated thus: Micah built a house of God-a chapel in imitation of the sanctuary; he made a graven image representing the ark, a molten image to represent the mercy-seat, teraphim to represent the cherubim above the mercy-seat, and an ephod in imitation of the sacerdotal garments; and he consecrated one of his sons to be priest. Thus gross idolatry was not the crime of Micah; he only set up in his own house an epitome of the Divine worship as performed at Shiloh.”

As much credit as Clarke would wish to give Micah, it would seem that he is closer to idolatry rather than setting this up as a mere epitome.  Why?  Because he is worshipping the gods; he is denying the centrality of the one tabernacle by setting up a rival tabernacle which is clearly more than a mere epitome by its extravagant detail and nature in comparison to the altar of witness in Joshua 22. Even the eastern tribes were given an immensely difficult time to explain their copy, the altar of witness, which was not used for offerings but merely had an imposing size: and here, so soon after the chronological events of Joshua 22, do we find another copy: this time, not of a mere altar, but of the entire works of the Levitical system.

What is especially poignant about this piece of history is its placement in the latter half of the book of Judges instead of the first few chapters.  I believe this has much to do with the silver and the tribe of Dan being a featured theme of chapter 16, where Samson, a judge of the tribe of Dan, was seduced by Delilah, who similarly received 1100 pieces of silver.  Here, the silver is the source of similar seduction, affecting the tribe of Dan as their attempt to conquer Laish, or Leshem (as recorded in Joshua 19), is fully accounted for in the next chapter.  Where the silver in chapter 16 is used to seduce Delilah, and that much of the Philistines had provided offerings to their god Dagon after the temporary victory over Samson, so also the silver here is not a true offering to the LORD.  Micah, and his mother, are tarnishing the LORD’s reputation, though they are calling upon His Holy Name.  In a re-iteration of the passage from Matthew 7, this is a pandemic: the pandemic of religion, of false pretension that true protection comes from such measly Spirit-less works.  Clarke’s analysis of the Hebrew gives some insight here:

“[The Hebrew word for “priest” in this chapter is] cohen, which the Targum translates chumera. The word cohen is the common name in Hebrew for a priest of the true God; but sometimes it is applied to idolatrous priests. When it is to be understood in the former sense, the Targum renders it cahen; when in the latter, it uses the word chumera, by which it always understands an idolatrous priest. But that this was not a case of idolatry, and that the true God was worshipped here, is evident from the word Jehovah being used, Judges 17:4, and oracular answers being given at this house, as we see from Judges 18:6.”

This would therefore shed light on Micah’s knowledge of the illegitimacy of his own temple of God, as he desperately sought the help of a true Levite, rather than a false priest which he had no authority to anoint or ordain in consecration to the LORD.

7Now there was a young man of(K) Bethlehem in Judah, of the family of Judah, who was a Levite, and he sojourned there. 8And the man departed from the town of Bethlehem in Judah to sojourn where he could find a place. And as he journeyed, he came to(L) the hill country of Ephraim to the house of Micah. 9And Micah said to him, “Where do you come from?” And he said to him, “I am a Levite of Bethlehem in Judah, and I am going to sojourn where I may find a place.” 10And Micah said to him, “Stay with me, and be to me(M) a father and a priest, and I will give you ten pieces of silver a year and a suit of clothes and your living.” And the Levite went in. 11And the Levite(N) was content to dwell with the man, and the young man became to him like one of his sons. 12And Micah(O) ordained the Levite, and the young man(P) became his priest, and was in the house of Micah. 13Then Micah said, “Now I know that the LORD will prosper me, because I have a Levite as priest.”

Like Balaam who was a hired prophet, Jonathan (the Levite, who is yet to be named until the end of chapter 18) is a hired Levite.  This Levite is a man who broke many of the ordinances of being part of this privileged and holy tribe – for he worked for money, rather than for the LORD.  He was in the position to rebuke Micah, especially given the incident of the eastern altar of witness; instead, he was “content to dwell with the man”, Micah.  To Micah, Jonathan was both a son and a father; a son, for he was presumably younger than Micah; a father, for he is the one who will enable Micah’s prosperity (v.13).  Micah’s delusion runs deep – the LORD will only give him prosperity if he has Christ, if he has the living object of faith, rather than mere shadows.  One can consume as much communion, have as many baptisms as one wishes – but only Christ can give one true food and living water.  His delusion is at a height as high as his arrogance, as he presumes to consecrate even this Levite (v.12).  The ESV footnote indicates the difficulty of the translation of v.12, which Clarke also investigates:

vayemalle eth yad, he filled his hands [as noted in the ESV footnote], i.e., he gave him an offering to present before the Lord, that he might be accepted by him. He appointed him to be priest; God was to accept and consecrate him; and for this purpose he filled his hand; i.e., furnished him with the proper offering which he was to present on his inauguration.”
Thus we see a man, terribly fearful of the LORD, attempting to do all the right things to gain His reward though forgetting that these rituals are mere shadows; and despite being shadows, it is important to distinguish that the rituals still have a set procedure in order to display the gospel of Christ, rather than a gospel of Satanic works.  Even the priest is not properly ordained, as the Hebrew reveals: he is not given the anointing of oil, the representation of the giving of the Spirit; in which case, how can the priest do any work for God?  How is he ‘wholly consecrated’ if he was to freely serve different masters?  A simple offering is a huge insult in denying the presence of the Spirit in the priest’s work.

In the following two cases, Micah has failed – by trying to please the gods, he did not find assurance in the prophesied Anointed One; in trying to please the gods, he re-invented his own rituals and failed to grasp what the more Spirit-led Israelites saw: the Son of God who must be sacrificed before the true Temple of God and bring his blood into the Holy of Holies.  Micah’s pitiful rendition of the tabernacle provides none of that truth.  It is entirely empty of the gospel and empty of the involvement of the Trinity whether symbolic or not.

Judges 18:  The Unitarian God

Samson and Delilah; Dan and the Idols

1(Q) In those days there was no king in Israel. And in those days(R) the tribe of the people of Dan was seeking for itself an inheritance to dwell in, for until then no inheritance among the tribes of Israel had fallen to them. 2So the people of Dan sent five able men from the whole number of their tribe,(S) from Zorah and from Eshtaol,(T) to spy out the land and to explore it. And they said to them, “Go and explore the land.” And they came(U) to the hill country of Ephraim, to the house of Micah, and lodged there. 3When they were by the house of Micah, they recognized the voice of the young Levite. And they turned aside and said to him, “Who brought you here? What are you doing in this place? What is your business here?” 4And he said to them, “This is how Micah dealt with me:(V) he has hired me, and I have become his priest.” 5And they said to him,(W) “Inquire of God, please, that we may know whether the journey on which we are setting out will succeed.” 6And the priest said to them,(X) “Go in peace. The journey on which you go is under the eye of the LORD.”

As if echoing Judges 13, instead of one man Samson, we find five able men from Zorah and from Eschtaol, to spy out the land and to explore it.  Samson had dwelled in the camp of Dan between those two places, and yet this one man Samson, being led by the Spirit, is far more capable than these men.

V.6 is the answer to their inquiry – and indeed it does come to fruition.  However, it would appear that their methods are contrary to what was commanded of them in the “art of Christian warfare”.  As the inquiry stems not from the tabernacle, not from speaking to Yahweh nor from standing before His shekinah presence, but merely from the priest himself (since the attention on the actual tabernacle at Shiloh is deliberately left till the last verse of this chapter).  As Matthew Henry queried, “Should he be enquired of by them? Eze. 14:3. They seem to have had a greater opinion of Micah’s teraphim than of God’s urim; for they had passed by Shiloh, and, for aught that appears, had not enquired there of God’s high priest, but Micah’s shabby Levite shall be an oracle to them. He betakes himself to his usual method of consulting his teraphim; and, whether he himself believed it or no, he humoured the thing so well that he made them believe he had an answer from God encouraging them to go on, and assuring them of good success (v. 6): “Go in peace, you shall be safe, and may be easy, for before the Lord is your way,’’ that is, “he approves it’’ (as the Lord is said to know the way of the righteous with acceptation), “and therefore he will make it prosperous, his eye will be upon you for good, he will direct your way, and preserve your going out and coming in.’’ Note, Our great care should be that our way be such as God approves, and, if it be so, we may go in peace. If God care for us, on him let us cast our care, and be satisfied that we cannot miss our way if he go before us.”  Indeed, but the Danites have not received true peace, because the LORD is not before them nor is He visibly with Micah or the Levite.  Thus, the Danites go to spy on Laish (or otherwise named as Leshem):

7Then the five men departed and came to(Y) Laish and saw the people who were there, how they lived in security, after the manner of the Sidonians,(Z) quiet and unsuspecting, lacking[b] nothing that is in the earth and possessing wealth, and how(AA) they were far from the Sidonians and had no dealings with anyone. 8And when they came to their brothers at(AB) Zorah and Eshtaol, their brothers said to them, “What do you report?” 9They said,(AC) “Arise, and let us go up against them, for we have seen the land, and behold, it is very good.(AD) And will you do nothing?(AE) Do not be slow to go, to enter in and possess the land. 10As soon as you go, you will come to an(AF) unsuspecting people. The land is spacious, for God has given it into your hands,(AG) a place where there is no lack of anything that is in the earth.”

It is interesting how these five men compared the people of Laish with the Sidonians, both peoples part of cities ill-governed and ill-guarded.  The translation of v.7 may be better read as them seeing “the people that [were] therein, how they dwelt careless, after the manner of the Zidonians, quiet and secure; and [there was] no magistrate in the land, that might put [them] to shame in [any] thing“.  This is quite a different translation from the positive display of Laish in the words of the Danite spies, when in fact they are speaking of the sloth, carelessness, and laxness in terms of being ready for war.  Did these men not know that the Danites are coming to conquer them?  Or that they are in the middle of a war between tribes, nations and faiths?  This is an idle city, which had no dealing with others surrounding it (or specifically, no dealing with Syria, the Hebrew word being aram as Clarke postulates; the confusion between adam [man] and aram [Syria] is easy to make, though the message of the chapter maintains the same); and it lived too far away from receiving support from others – ironically displaying the same truth as Micah, who turned to idolatry by creating a convenient temple of worship when he should have gone straight to Shiloh, however far he geographically might have been, to Jesus Christ.

So while Laish is an inward-looking idle city who could have sought proper support from fellow Canaanite brethren, Micah could have been truly shielded from the LORD’s wrath if he sought refuge in the true tabernacle as opposed to his own.  While Laish is a city of sloth, possessing much wealth, “quiet and unsuspecting”, careless – so also Micah, a slothful man who possessed enough wealth to hire a Levite and lived a careless life for failing to observe carefully the true ordinances and revelations of God despite being a god-fearer.

11So 600 men of the tribe of Dan,(AH) armed with weapons of war, set out from Zorah and Eshtaol, 12and went up and encamped at Kiriath-jearim in Judah. On this account that place is called(AI) Mahaneh-dan[c] to this day; behold, it is west of(AJ) Kiriath-jearim. 13And they passed on from there to(AK) the hill country of Ephraim, and came to the house of Micah. 14Then the five men who had gone to scout out the country of Laish said to their brothers, “Do you know that(AL) in these houses there are an ephod, household gods, a carved image, and a metal image? Now therefore consider what you will do.” 15And they turned aside there and came to the house of the young Levite, at the home of Micah, and(AM) asked him about his welfare. 16Now the 600 men of the Danites,(AN) armed with their weapons of war, stood by the entrance of the gate. 17And(AO) the five men who had gone to scout out the land went up and entered and took(AP) the carved image, the ephod, the household gods, and the metal image, while the priest stood by the entrance of the gate with the 600 men armed with weapons of war. 18And when these went into Micah’s house and took(AQ) the carved image, the ephod, the household gods, and the metal image, the priest said to them, “What are you doing?” 19And they said to him, “Keep quiet;(AR) put your hand on your mouth and come with us and be to us(AS) a father and a priest. Is it better for you to be priest to the house of one man, or to be priest to a tribe and clan in Israel?” 20And the priest’s heart was glad. He took the ephod and the household gods and the carved image and went along with the people.

These Danites are such a contrast in comparison to Samson.  Samson rarely resorted to weapons of war, and these Danites are fully armed even at the gate near Micah’s abode.  These fully armed men, though fearsome, are still a small number compared to the Israelite armies and warfare between the books of Numbers and Joshua.  They had camped at near Kiriath-Jearim, the city of woods, where the place is renamed Mahaneh-dan which is where Samson had grown up in the Spirit prior to his mission against the Philistines (c.f. Judges 13:25), displaying the chronology of these events are prior to Samson.  However, where Samson grew in Spirit, these Danites did not bear the Spirit nor the wisdom – especially in failing to discern between seeking the advice from the true priests at Shiloh, and rather receive deluded advice from a hired, young Levite, whose heart was set on present worldly riches and glory (v.20).  Although Jonathan had treated Micah as his own father, and that he had acted as a spiritual father to Micah, he would rather relinquish such intimate relations for a greater reputation, even though the Levitical tribe as a whole is dignified in its holy service.

The delusion of Jonathan, Dan, and Micah

It appears then that Jonathan, enticed by silver; and the Danites, who were dim and lawless; are a strong contrast with the period of the judges, when especially juxtaposed to the comparatively Spirit-led and lawful Samson, who in turn was led by truly God-fearing parents.  Thus, the microcosm of the heresy of Micah, extends to the macrocosm of the heresy of the tribe of Dan within the nation Israel.  This is a false gospel – to preach that Christ the priest would only represent one tribe, one pitiful 600-member clan of the entire Israel, when He is part of the non-exclusivist Trinitarian community for the whole church, the whole of Israel!  What can these gods in v.20 do, but cause more destruction?  How can they forcefully move these gods as to go before them, as in v.6 of this chapter, when the living Angel of the Father moves upon His sending and own volition?

21So they turned and departed, putting the little ones and the livestock and(AT) the goods in front of them. 22When they had gone a distance from the home of Micah, the men who were in the houses near Micah’s house were called out, and they overtook the people of Dan. 23And they shouted to the people of Dan, who turned around and said to Micah, “What is the matter with you, that you come with such a company?” 24And he said,(AU) “You take my gods that I made and the priest, and go away, and what have I left? How then do you ask me, ‘What is the matter with you?'” 25And the people of Dan said to him, “Do not let your voice be heard among us, lest angry fellows fall upon you, and you lose your life with the lives of your household.” 26Then the people of Dan went their way. And when Micah saw that they were too strong for him, he turned and went back to his home.

V.24 reveals that Micah is fully aware that the gods are made by his own hands, and yet he would approach the 600-strong men to retrieve them.  The burly Danites, so selfishly keeping the gods and the priest to themselves, should provide some revelation to Micah who had been doing the same at the beginning of the chapter.  The true tabernacle at Shiloh simply cannot be horded; it cannot be given to one family, let alone one clan or tribe.  To keep “God” as if He is inanimate, as if He needs protection, is to deny his very livelihood and utter superiority over our feeble hands.  Yet, this is the attitude of those who wish to protect such relics, such idolatrous worship, is as described by Hezekiah’s prayer in 2 Kings 19:

14Hezekiah received(V) the letter from the hand of the messengers and read it; and Hezekiah went up to the house of the LORD and spread it before the LORD. 15And Hezekiah prayed before the LORD and said: “O LORD, the God of Israel,(W) enthroned above the cherubim,(X) you are the God, you alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; you have made heaven and earth. 16(Y) Incline your ear, O LORD, and hear;(Z) open your eyes, O LORD, and see; and hear the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent(AA) to mock the living God. 17Truly, O LORD, the kings of Assyria have laid waste the nations and their lands 18and have cast their gods into the fire, for they were not gods,(AB) but the work of men’s hands, wood and stone. Therefore they were destroyed. 19So now, O LORD our God, save us, please, from his hand,(AC) that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that(AD) you, O LORD, are God alone.”

27But the people of Dan took what Micah had made, and the priest who belonged to him, and they came to Laish, to a people(AV) quiet and unsuspecting, and(AW) struck them with the edge of the sword and burned the city with fire. 28And there was no deliverer because it was(AX) far from Sidon, and they had no dealings with anyone. It was in the valley that belongs to(AY) Beth-rehob. Then they rebuilt the city and lived in it. 29And they named the city(AZ) Dan, after the name of Dan their ancestor, who was born to Israel; but(BA) the name of the city was Laish at the first. 30And the people of Dan set up the carved image for themselves, and Jonathan the son of Gershom,(BB) son of Moses,[d](BC) and his sons were priests to the tribe of the Danites until the day(BD) of the captivity of the land. 31So they set up Micah’s carved image that he made,(BE) as long as the house of God was at Shiloh.

And such is the result of not having the LORD go before them – that they should attack a “quiet and unsuspecting” city like Laish; a city which did not launch any apparent attacks on the Danites – a defenceless city.  Yet, the blood-lust of the Danites as they had been travelling around ready to attack with their armed weaponry, as opposed to being ready to provide acts of grace which was commanded of them (c.f. Deuteronomy 10-12), is the driving force of this campaign.  In the words of Matthew Henry, ” the measure of the iniquity of the Canaanites was full, [and] that of the Danites was but beginning to fill.”  It is a campaign of oppression; of brow-beating; of idolatry – with no parties in these two chapters truly inquiring of the LORD, though we see His name used carelessly, no-one bothering to truly go to Shiloh as the true tabernacle stands there, unused.  Laish, though made into a somewhat innocent victim of the massacre, is not without guilt – for they, like the clan of Dan and like Micah, are also idle and lonely men.

The theme of these chapters manifests the truth of the false, Unitarian God where we see no fellowship and guidance of the spiritual church.  The fact that there is no deliverer for Laish is also echoing the cities of refuge placed around Canaan so that one would have immediate help – and though the context is not applicable to this particular instance, the principle behind it is the same: that the unity of the church of Christ should mean that we are mutual intercessors, calling upon that one Redeemer.  Laish had fallen into a false sense of security, and it has no church, no brother, no other nation, to turn to who can lead it to the one true God in times of the worst spiritual warfare.  Thus, by the end of Judges 18, Laish, Dan, and Micah are all victims of self-delusions.

The Tabernacle

And so chapter 18 ends on two notes which emphasises on these delusions – that the false temple and the heretical Levite are both contrasted to the silent tabernacle at Shiloh.  To find out by the end of this historical event that the Levite is called Jonathan (sarcastically meaning “the gift of Jehovah”), who descends from Moses, the meekest man on earth (Numbers 12:3).  Some translations render it to be Manasseh, instead of Moses, but the ESV and Adam Clarke both seem to be in agreement:

“Who this Manasseh was, none can tell; nor does the reading appear to be genuine. He could not be Manasseh the son of Joseph, for he had no son called Gershom nor could it be Manasseh king of Israel, for he lived eight hundred years afterwards.

Instead of Manasseh, the word should be read Mosheh, MOSES, as it is found in some MSS., in the Vulgate, and in the concessions of the most intelligent Jews. The Jews, as R. D. Kimchi acknowledges, have suspended the letter: nun, over the word thus,

-which, by the addition of the points, they have changed into MANASSEH, because they think it would be a great reproach to their legislator to have had a grandson who was an idolater. That Gershom the son of Moses is here intended, is very probable. See the arguments urged by Dr. Kennicott, Dissertation I., p. 55, and see the Var. Lect. of De Rossi on this place.”

Jonathan is anything but meek; he has failed to give glory to his ancestor, and unlike Moses’ meekness which led him to constantly ask direction from the Angel and from the Father, there is no clarity as to who it is that Jonathan seeks direction from.  That, I believe, is the crux of these two chapters – the aimlessness of the parties as they are led by their own desires, their own lusts:  Jonathan’s reputation beyond the glory of being a Levite; the Danites’ hope to secure their own physical land; Micah’s obsession with pleasing the LORD; Laish’s false sense of security – all of which can be entirely satisfied at the “house of God [which] was at Shiloh”.  This is the house where the Levite finds his true pride; this is the life of the Levite who needs no physical land as he looks to new creation; this is the life of the Levite, that he is no hired pawn, but that all should gather at the House of God rather than create their own religion; this is the house of the Levite where all can find eternal refuge from future harm.

Judges 17-18: The House of God at Shiloh