2Ch 3:1, 2. PLACE AND TIME OF BUILDING THE TEMPLE.
1. Mount Moriah, where the Lord appeared unto David--These words seem to intimate that the region where the temple was built was previously known by the name of Moriah (Ge 22:2), and do not afford sufficient evidence for affirming, as has been done [STANLEY], that the name was first given to the mount, in consequence of the vision seen by David. Mount Moriah was one summit of a range of hills which went under the general name of Zion. The platform of the temple is now, and has long been, occupied by the haram, or sacred enclosure, within which stand the three mosques of Omar (the smallest), of El Aksa, which in early times was a Christian church, and of Kubbet el Sakhara, "The dome of the rock," so called from a huge block of limestone rock in the center of the floor, which, it is supposed, formed the elevated threshing-floor of Araunah, and on which the great brazen altar stood. The site of the temple, then, is so far established for an almost universal belief is entertained in the authenticity of the tradition regarding the rock El Sakhara; and it has also been conclusively proved that the area of the temple was identical on its western, eastern, and southern sides with the present enclosure of the haram [ROBINSON]. "That the temple was situated somewhere within the oblong enclosure on Mount Moriah, all topographers are agreed, although there is not the slightest vestige of the sacred fane now remaining; and the greatest diversity of sentiment prevails as to its exact position within that large area, whether in the center of the haram, or in its southwest corner" [BARCLAY]. Moreover, the full extent of the temple area is a problem that remains to be solved, for the platform of Mount Moriah being too narrow for the extensive buildings and courts attached to the sacred edifice, Solomon resorted to artificial means of enlarging and levelling it, by erecting vaults, which, as JOSEPHUS states, rested on immense earthen mounds raised from the slope of the hill. It should be borne in mind at the outset that the grandeur of the temple did not consist in its colossal structure so much as in its internal splendor, and the vast courts and buildings attached to it. It was not intended for the reception of a worshipping assembly, for the people always stood in the outer courts of the sanctuary.
2Ch 3:3-7. MEASURES AND ORNAMENTS OF THE HOUSE.
3. these are the things wherein Solomon was instructed for the building of the house of God--by the written plan and specifications given him by his father. The measurements are reckoned by cubits, "after the first measure," that is, the old Mosaic standard. But there is great difference of opinion about this, some making the cubit eighteen, others twenty-one inches. The temple, which embodied in more solid and durable materials the ground-form of the tabernacle (only being twice as large), was a rectangular building, seventy cubits long from east to west, and twenty cubits wide from north to south.
4. the porch--The breadth of the house, whose length ran from east to
west, is here given as the measure of the length of the piazza. The
portico would thus be from thirty to thirty-five feet long, and from
fifteen to seventeen and a half feet broad.
the height was an hundred and twenty cubits--This, taking the cubit at eighteen inches, would be one hundred eighty feet; at twenty-one inches, two hundred ten feet; so that the porch would rise in the form of a tower, or two pyramidal towers, whose united height was one hundred twenty cubits, and each of them about ninety or one hundred five feet high [STIEGLITZ]. This porch would thus be like the propylæum or gateway of the palace of Khorsabad [LAYARD], or at the temple of Edfou.
5. the greater house--that is, the holy places, the front or outer chamber (see 1Ki 6:17).
6. he garnished the house with precious stones for beauty--better, he paved the house with precious and beautiful marble [KITTO]. It may be, after all, that these were stones with veins of different colors for decorating the walls. This was an ancient and thoroughly Oriental kind of embellishment. There was an under pavement of marble, which was covered with planks of fir. The whole interior was lined with boards, richly decorated with carved work, clusters of foliage and flowers, among which the pomegranate and lotus (or water-lily) were conspicuous; and overlaid, excepting the floor, with gold, either by gilding or in plates (1Ki 6:1-38).
2Ch 3:8-13. DIMENSIONS, &C., OF THE MOST HOLY HOUSE.
8. the most holy house--It was a perfect cube (compare
overlaid it with . . . gold, amounting to six hundred talents--at £4 per ounce, equal to £3,600,000.
10-13. two cherubims--These figures in the tabernacle were of pure gold (Ex 25:1-40) and overshadowed the mercy seat. The two placed in the temple were made of olive wood, overlaid with gold. They were of colossal size, like the Assyrian sculptures; for each, with expanded wings, covered a space of ten cubits in height and length--two wings touched each other, while the other two reached the opposite walls; their faces were inward, that is, towards the most holy house, conformably to their use, which was to veil the ark.
The united height is here given; and though the exact dimensions would be thirty-six cubits, each column was only seventeen cubits and a half, a half cubit being taken up by the capital or the base. They were probably described as they were lying together in the mould before they were set up [POOLE]. They would be from eighteen to twenty-one feet in circumference, and stand forty feet in height. These pillars, or obelisks, as some call them, were highly ornamented, and formed an entrance in keeping with the splendid interior of the temple.