3 Kings viii.
Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 2. Ethanim was afterwards called Tisri. (Haydock) — Usher places the dedication on Friday, 30th October, the 8th of the seventh month. The people continued at Jerusalem till the 23rd. The feast of expiation fell on the 10th, (Haydock) during the octave of the dedication. After this, the feast of tabernacles commenced on the 15th, for other seven days. This was the year of jubilee; and Solomon had waited on purpose, that the people might have more leisure to attend on such a solemn occasion. (Calmet) — But on this we cannot rely. There might be other reasons for the delay; (See chap. vi. 38.) and one of the chief might be, a desire to perform this ceremony in the seventh or sabbatical month, which was honoured with more festivals than any other. It had just elapsed, before the temple was finished, in the preceding year. (Haydock)
Ver. 3. Priests, who were also Levites, as it is expressed in 2 Paralipomenon v. 4. Perhaps the ark was uncovered, (Calmet) as the Caathites carried it when folded up. (Haydock)
Ver. 4. Ark, from the city of David, along with the tabernacle, (Salien) which had been made for it in the palace, ver. 1. They also (Haydock) brought the Mosaic tabernacle from Gaboan, (Calmet; Josephus, &c.) and reposited both (Haydock) in the treasury of the temple, as they were now of no other service. Jeremias was authorized to take the ark, the tabernacle, and the altar of incense, in order to prevent their falling into the hands of the Chaldeans. He placed them in a cave, where they have never, perhaps, been discovered, 2 Machabees ii. 4.
Ver. 5. Sacrificed, by the hands of the priests, (Menochius) or at least (Haydock) gave them the blood to offer upon the altars, which were placed at six paces from one another, in imitation of David, 2 Kings vi. 13. (Calmet) — Could not. See chap. vii. 47.
Ver. 6. Wings. These covered the smaller cherubim, upon the ark. (Haydock) (Chap. vi. 23, 27.) — They formed a sort of throne, with their wings extended, from one side of the building to the other, (Calmet) twenty cubits long. (Haydock)
Ver. 8. Out. In the days of Moses, these staves had touched the veil of the tabernacle: but now, as the place for the ark was twice as large, they were no longer perceived; though they remained in the holes prepared for them by Moses, till the author wrote; which must have been before the captivity. Unless we thus distinguish the times, the Hebrew contains a palpable contradiction. (Calmet) — “They drew out (or lengthened) the staves, and the heads….were seen out in the holy place….and they were not seen out.” (Haydock) — To a person standing at a small distance, they were not visible, though they rather touched the veil, 2 Paralipomenon v. 9. (Menochius)
Ver. 9. Nothing else, &c. There was nothing else but the tables of the law within the ark. But on the outside of the ark, or near the ark, were also the rod of Aaron, and a golden urn with manna, Hebrews ix. 4. (Challoner) (Worthington) — These might have been in the ark while it was not fixed: but after the temple was built, all but the tables were placed in the treasury; where, we find, the book of the law was discovered, under Joas, Deuteronomy xxxi. 26., and 2 Paralipomenon xxxiv. 14. Others think that, in the days of St. Paul, the rod, &c., might have been reposited in the ark, though they had not been admitted at the time when this book was written. (Bellarmine, &c.) — But we have no assurance that the ark was ever placed in the second temple; and Josephus informs us, that when the Romans destroyed the temple, “there was nothing at all” in the sanctuary. (Calmet) — In area might easily signify ad, or juxta arcam, “near the ark.” (Salien)
Ver. 12. Cloud. He alludes to Leviticus xvi. 2. (Menochius) — God had so frequently appeared in this manner, that Solomon was authorized to consider it as the symbol of his presence, Exodus xiv. 19., xxiv. 16., and xl. 32., and Psalm xvii. 12. This luminous cloud filled the whole temple, to convince all that the Lord was pleased with the devotion of the king, and of his people. (Calmet)
Ver. 13. Ever. He seems to contrast this solid and glittering fabric with the cloud, (Menochius) as, in some sort, more worthy of God’s presence. (Haydock)
Ver. 14. Stood. It is pretended that the king alone was allowed to sit. (Calmet) — But here Solomon stood, upon an eminence made of brass, 2 Paralipomenon vi. 13. (Haydock) — He pronounced the blessing, (part of which is given, ver. 15-22) with his face turned towards the people, as he was also in the court of Israel. Then turning himself to the altar (Calmet) of holocausts, (Menochius) with his hands uplifted, he began to pray, ver. 23, to 54. See Exodus xxxix. 43., and 2 Kings vi. 18., where Moses and David blessed the people, on similar occasions. (Calmet) — Thus the priests of the Catholic Church turn to the people, when they bless or speak to them; and look towards the altar, when they pour forth their supplications for them to God. Sectaries would always behold the face of the preacher. (Haydock) — Blessed. Princes bless their subjects, as parents do their children. (Worthington)
Ver. 15. Own hands, or almighty power, (Menochius) hath fulfilled his promise. (Haydock)
Ver. 22. Heaven, falling on his knees, ver. 54., and 2 Paralipomenon vi. 13. This is the first instance we find of people praying on their knees, which was common afterwards, 1 Esdras ix. 5., Isaias xlv. 24., Daniel vi. 10., and Acts ix. 40., and xx. 36. The Christian church generally adopts this custom. So did the pagans, (Et genibus pronus, supplex, similisque roganti.; Metam. iii.) as they also stretched for their hands. Sustulit exutas vinclis ad sidera palmas, says Virgil. (Æneid ii. 153.) This practice was very general, Psalm xxvii. 2., and 1 Timothy ii. 8.
Ver. 25. Sight. Solomon was aware of the conditions on which he held his crown and the divine favour, so that his fall is the more inexcusable. (Haydock) — His posterity lost a great part of the kingdom, though they had the right to rule over Juda, till the coming of Christ. (Worthington)
Ver. 27. Earth. Full of admiration, he breaks out into this pathetic exclamation, wondering that God should deign to accept of what he had done; and that, by the symbol of his presence, he should engage to honour this temple in a more particular manner, and to shower down his graces with a more liberal hand on those who should there present themselves before him.. This wise prince was not ignorant that God’s immensity fills all places. — Heavens. We know not how many haveans the Jews admitted. We find, 1. the air, 2. the region of the stars, 3. the residence of God, thus specified; and this last is here denoted as the most excellent of all. St. Paul styles it the third heaven, 2 Corinthians xii. 2. The Basilidians counted as many heavens as there are days in the year. (St. Irenæus i. 23.)
Ver. 29. My name. It shall be called the house of God. (Haydock) — There people shall come to do homage to the Lord. (Calmet)
Ver. 31. Oath. In certain cases, an oath would clear a person, Exodus xxii. 11. Solomon prays that perjury may be disclosed. — Altar. It was customary to touch the altar, when a person took an oath, as Hannibal did. K. Latinus says;
Tango aras mediosque ignes et Numina testor—
Nulla dies pacem hanc Italis nec fœdera rumpet. (Virgil, Æneid xii. 201.)
Ver. 32. Justice. A reward is clearly promised to good works. (Worthington)
Ver. 34. Fathers. In the place of their captivity they might turn, like Daniel, towards the temple. (Calmet) — God had threatened that he would punish his people by the hand of their enemies, &c., if they transgressed, Leviticus xxvi. 17. (Menochius)
Ver. 37. Mildew. Hebrew also, “a bruchus,” or a young locust. Protestants, “caterpillar.”
Ver. 38. Heart: his offence. Septuagint aphen, “touching, or compunction.” (Haydock) — Let a man go to the source of the evil, and be sorry for his sins. (Calmet)
Ver. 39. Men. God cannot be imposed upon. If our heart be not moved with sorrow for our offences, including a degree of love, in vain shall we stretch forth our hands in prayer. (Calmet)
Ver. 41. Stranger. God watches over all mankind; and oblations were received from all sorts of people, even from idolaters. The kings of Persia and Egypt, the Roman emperors, &c., made great presents, 1 Esdras iii. 7., and vii. 21. (Josephus, [Antiquities?] xi., and xii. 2.) It seems the court of the Gentiles was only made after the captivity. Some of these adored the true God, like Cornelius, &c., Acts viii. 27., and x. 1. Some were drawn by curiosity; others desired to be converted. To thee, kings shall offer presents, Psalm lxxi. 10. (Calmet) — Unbelievers are still invited to attend the chapels of the true God, that they may receive information, and deserve to obtain the blessing of faith. (Haydock)
Ver. 44. Name. It was the practice of the religious Jews, to pray with their eyes turned towards the holy place, ver. 48. The primitive Christians looked towards the east, in prayer, to remind them of the ascension of our Saviour, (Calmet) from Mount Olivet, in that quarter. (Haydock) (Psalm lxvii. 34.) (St. Just.[Justin Martyr?] q. 118.; Tertullian, apol. xvi.; St. Epiphanius, hær. xix.) (Calmet)
Ver. 47. Heart. Without this, external repentance will not suffice. (Worthington)
Ver. 51. Iron. This expression is often used to denote the rigour of the Egyptian bondage, Deuteronomy iv. 20. Thus Homer says, that Mars was shut up for thirteen months in a barrel (or prison) of brass. (Iliad E.)
Ver. 59. Judgment, granting his just request, and defending him against all his enemies. (Calmet)
Ver. 63. Sheep, and other small beasts, during the seven days, without counting the oblations of individuals. The law had not prescribed any particular rites for the dedication of places. But common sense dictated that sacred things should be distinguished from such as were common. Moses and David had set a pattern, which was followed by the Jews after the captivity, and by the Machabees, Exodus xl. 9., 1 Kings vi. 17., 1 Esdras iii. 10., and 1 Machabees iv. 56. (Calmet) — The festival of the dedication was observed by our Saviour, John x. 22. (Haydock) — Even private houses received a sort of dedication, Deuteronomy xx. 5. The pagans observed the like practice, with regard to statues and temples, lands and public places, Daniel iii. 1. Among the Romans, such ceremonies were performed by a general or consul, with his head covered, reciting some ancient prayers, at the suggestion of the pontiff, before a fire and an assembly of the people, called on purpose, while some person played upon the flute. (Cicero, pro Domo. Alex. Genial. vi. 14.)
Ver. 64. Court of the priests. An altar was there erected, in haste. Fire from heaven came to consume the victims, 2 Paralipomenon vii. 1. (Calmet)
Ver. 65. Egypt. Rhinocolura, (Menochius) or rather the branch of the Nile nearest to Arabia, Josue xiii. 3., and Numbers xiii. 22. (Calmet) — Seven, for each festival, ver. 1.
Ver. 66. Eighth day, at the conclusion of the second octave. (Haydock) — Blessed the king, as he had done them before. The most honourable performs this office, Hebrew vii. 7. (Calmet) — The king and people wished all sorts of happiness to each other. — David. The glory of his son reflected honour on him. (Haydock)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
The dedication of the temple: Solomon’s prayer and sacrifices.
1 Then* all the ancients of Israel, with the princes of the tribes, and the heads of the families of the children of Israel, were assembled to king Solomon, in Jerusalem: that they might carry the ark of the covenant of the Lord, out of the city of David, that is, out of Sion.
2 And all Israel assembled themselves to king Solomon, on the festival day, in the month of Ethanim, the same is the seventh month.
3 And all the ancients of Israel came, and the priests took up the ark,
4 And carried the ark of the Lord, and the tabernacle of the covenant, and all the vessels of the sanctuary, that were in the tabernacle: and the priests and the Levites carried them.
5 And king Solomon, and all the multitude of Israel, that were assembled unto him, went with him before the ark, and they sacrificed sheep and oxen, that could not be counted or numbered.
6 And the priests brought in the ark of the covenant of the Lord into its place, into the oracle of the temple, into the holy of holies, under the wings of the cherubims.
7 For the cherubims spread forth their wings over the place of the ark, and covered the ark, and the staves thereof above.
8 And whereas the staves stood out, the ends of them were seen without, in the sanctuary before the oracle, but were not seen farther out, and there they have been unto this day.
9 Now in the ark there was nothing else *but the two tables of stone, which Moses put there at Horeb, when the Lord made a covenant with the children of Israel, when they came out of the land of Egypt.
10 And it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the sanctuary, that a cloud filled the house of the Lord,
11 And the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud: for the glory of the Lord had filled the house of the Lord.
12 Then Solomon said: *The Lord said that he would dwell in a cloud.
13 Building, I have built a house for thy dwelling, to be thy most firm throne for ever.
14 And the king turned his face, and blessed all the assembly of Israel: for all the assembly of Israel stood.
15 And Solomon said: Blessed be the Lord the God of Israel, who spoke with his mouth to David, my father, and with his own hands hath accomplished it, saying:
16 Since the day that I brought my people Israel, out of Egypt, I chose no city out of all the tribes of Israel, for a house to be built, that my name might be there: but I chose David to be over my people Israel.
17 *And David, my father, would have built a house to the name of the Lord, the God of Israel:
18 And the Lord said to David, my father: Whereas thou hast thought in thy heart to build a house to my name, thou hast done well in having this same thing in thy mind.
19 Nevertheless, thou shalt not build me a house, but thy son, that shall come forth out of thy loins, he shall build a house to my name.
20 The Lord hath performed his word which he spoke: and I stand in the room of David, my father, and sit upon the throne of Israel, as the Lord promised: and have built a house to the name of the Lord, the God of Israel.
21 And I have set there a place for the ark, wherein is the covenant of the Lord, which he made with our fathers, when they came out of the land of Egypt.
22 And Solomon stood before the altar of the Lord, in the sight of the assembly of Israel, and spread forth his hands towards heaven,
23 And said: Lord God of Israel, there is no God like thee, in heaven above, or on earth beneath: who keepest covenant and mercy with thy servants, that have walked before thee with all their heart:
24 Who hast kept with thy servant David, my father, what thou hast promised him: with thy mouth thou didst speak, and with thy hands thou hast performed, as this day proveth.
25 Now, therefore, O Lord God of Israel, keep with thy servant David, my father, what thou hast spoken to him, saying: *There shall not be taken away of thee a man in my sight, to sit on the throne of Israel: yet so that thy children take heed to their way, that they walk before me as thou hast walked in my sight.
26 And now, Lord God of Israel, let thy words be established, which thou hast spoken to thy servant David, my father.
27 Is it then to be thought that God should indeed dwell upon earth? for if heaven, and the heavens of heavens, cannot contain thee, how much less this house which I have built?
28 But have regard to the prayer of thy servant, and to his supplications, O Lord, my God: hear the hymn and the prayer, which thy servant prayeth before thee this day:
29 That thy eyes may be open upon this house, night and day: upon the house of which thou hast said: *My name shall be there: that thou mayst hearken to the prayer which thy servant prayeth, in this place to thee:
30 That thou mayst hearken to the supplication of thy servant, and of thy people Israel, whatsoever they shall pray for in this place, and hear them in the place of thy dwelling in heaven; and when thou hearest, shew them mercy.
31 If any man trespass against his neighbour, and have an oath upon him, wherewith he is bound, and come, because of the oath, before thy altar, to thy house,
32 Then hear thou in heaven: and do and judge thy servants, condemning the wicked, and bringing his way upon his own head, and justifying the just, and rewarding him according to his justice.
33 If thy people Israel shall fly before their enemies (because they will sin against thee) and doing penance, and confessing to thy name, shall come and pray, and make supplications to thee in this house:
34 Then hear thou in heaven, and forgive the sin of thy people Israel, and bring them back to the land which thou gavest to their fathers.
35 If heaven shall be shut up, and there shall be no rain, because of their sins, and they, praying in this place, shall do penance to thy name, and shall be converted from their sins, by occasion of their afflictions:
36 Then hear thou them in heaven, and forgive the sins of thy servants, and of thy people Israel: and shew them the good way wherein they should walk, and give rain upon thy land, which thou hast given to thy people in possession.
37 If a famine arise in the land, or a pestilence, or corrupt air, or blasting, or locust, or mildew; if their enemy afflict them, besieging the gates, whatsoever plague, whatsoever infirmity,
38 Whatsoever curse or imprecation shall happen to any man of thy people Israel: when a man shall know the wound of his own heart, and shall spread forth his hands in this house;
39 Then hear thou in heaven, in the place of thy dwelling, and forgive, and do so as to give to every one according to his ways, as thou shalt see his heart (for thou only knowest the heart of all the children of men)
40 That they may fear thee all the days that they live upon the face of the land, which thou hast given to our fathers.
41 Moreover also the stranger, who is not of thy people Israel, when he shall come out of a far country for thy name’s sake, (for they shall hear every where of thy great name, and thy mighty hand,
42 And thy stretched out arm) so when he shall come, and shall pray in this place,
43 Then hear thou in heaven, in the firmament of thy dwelling-place, and do all those things, for which that stranger shall call upon thee: that all the people of the earth may learn to fear thy name, as do thy people Israel, and may prove that thy name is called upon on this house, which I have built.
44 If thy people go out to war against their enemies, by what way soever thou shalt send them, they shall pray to thee towards the way of the city, which thou hast chosen, and towards the house, which I have built to thy name:
45 And then hear thou in heaven their prayers, and their supplications, and do judgment for them.
46 But if they sin against thee, (*for there is no man who sinneth not) and thou being angry, deliver them up to their enemies, so that they be led away captives into the land of their enemies, far or near;
47 Then if they do penance in their heart, in the place of captivity, and being converted, make supplication to thee in their captivity, saying: We have sinned, we have done unjustly, we have committed wickedness:
48 And return to thee with all their heart, and all their soul, in the land of their enemies, to which they had been led captives: and pray to thee towards the way of their land, which thou gavest to their fathers, and of the city which thou hast chosen, and of the temple which I have built to thy name:
49 Then hear thou in heaven, in the firmament of thy throne, their prayers, and their supplications, and do judgment for them:
50 And forgive thy people, that have sinned against thee, and all their iniquities, by which they have transgressed against thee: and give them mercy before them that have made them captives, that they may have compassion on them.
51 For they are thy people, and thy inheritance, whom thou hast brought out of the land of Egypt, from the midst of the furnace of iron.
52 That thy eyes may be open to the supplication of thy servant, and of thy people Israel, to hear them in all things for which they shall call upon thee.
53 For thou hast separated them to thyself for an inheritance, from amongst all the people of the earth, as thou hast spoken by Moses, thy servant, when thou broughtest our fathers out of Egypt, O Lord God.
54 And it came to pass, when Solomon had made an end of praying all this prayer and supplication to the Lord, that he rose from before the altar of the Lord: for he had fixed both knees on the ground, and had spread his hands towards heaven.
55 And he stood, and blessed all the assembly of Israel with a loud voice, saying:
56 Blessed be the Lord, who hath given rest to his people Israel, according to all that he promised: there hath not failed so much as one word of all the good things that he promised by his servant Moses.
57 The Lord our God be with us, as he was with our fathers, and not leave us, nor cast us off:
58 But may he incline our hearts to himself, that we may walk in all his ways, and keep his commandments, and his ceremonies, and all his judgments, which he commanded our fathers.
59 And let these my words, wherewith I have prayed before the Lord, be nigh unto the Lord our God day and night, that he may do judgment for his servant, and for his people Israel, day by day:
60 That all the people of the earth may know, that the Lord he is God, and there is no other besides him.
61 Let our hearts also be perfect with the Lord our God, that we may walk in his statutes, and keep his commandments, as at this day.
62 And the king, and all Israel him, offered victims before the Lord.
63 And Solomon slew victims of peace-offerings, which he sacrificed to the Lord, two and twenty thousand oxen, and a hundred and twenty thousand sheep: so the king, and all the children of Israel, dedicated the temple of the Lord.
64 In that day the king sanctified the middle of the court, that was before the house of the Lord; for there he offered the holocaust, and sacrifice, and the fat of the peace-offerings: because the brazen altar that was before the Lord, was too little to receive the holocaust, and sacrifice, and the fat of the peace-offerings.
65 And Solomon made at the same time a solemn feast, and all Israel with him, a great multitude, from the entrance of Emath to the river of Egypt, before the Lord our God, seven days and seven days, that is, fourteen days.
66 And on the eighth day, he sent away the people: and they blessed the king, and went to their dwellings, rejoicing, and glad in heart, for all the good things that the Lord had done for David, his servant, and for Israel, his people.
1: Year of the World 3001, Year before Christ 1003.; 2 Paralipomenon v. 2.
9: Exodus xxxiv. 27.; Hebrews ix. 4.
12: 2 Paralipomenon vi. 1.
17: 2 Kings vii. 5.
25: 2 Kings vii. 12.
29: Deuteronomy xii. 11.
46: 2 Paralipomenon vi. 36.; Ecclesiastes vii. 21.; 1 John i. 8.