1 Kings 7:39
And he put five bases on the right side of the house, and five on the left side of the house: and he set the sea on the right side of the house eastward over against the south.
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(39) The sea.—This was placed on the south-eastern side of the Temple, on one side of the great altar; the ten smaller lavers were ranged five on each side.

7:13-47 The two brazen pillars in the porch of the temple, some think, were to teach those that came to worship, to depend upon God only, for strength and establishment in all their religious exercises. Jachin, God will fix this roving mind. It is good that the heart be established with grace. Boaz, In him is our strength, who works in us both to will and to do. Spiritual strength and stability are found at the door of God's temple, where we must wait for the gifts of grace, in use of the means of grace. Spiritual priests and spiritual sacrifices must be washed in the laver of Christ's blood, and of regeneration. We must wash often, for we daily contract pollution. There are full means provided for our cleansing; so that if we have our lot for ever among the unclean it will be our own fault. Let us bless God for the fountain opened by the sacrifice of Christ for sin and for uncleanness.Every laver was four cubits - Assuming height to be intended, and taking the cubit at 20 inches, the entire height of the lavers as they stood upon their wheeled stands would seem to have been 13 ft. 9 in. It is evident, therefore, that the water must have been drawn from them, as from the "molten sea," through cocks or taps. 27-39. he made ten bases of brass—These were trucks or four-wheeled carriages, for the support and conveyance of the lavers. The description of their structure shows that they were elegantly fitted up and skilfully adapted to their purpose. They stood, not on the axles, but on four rests attached to the axles, so that the figured sides were considerably raised above the wheels. They were all exactly alike in form and size. The lavers which were borne upon them were vessels capable each of holding three hundred gallons of water, upwards of a ton weight. The whole, when full of water, would be no less than two tons [Napier]. On the right side, i.e. in the south side, as is expressed in the end of the verse, and as the right side is used above, 1 Kings 6:8 Psalm 89:12.

On the right side of the house; not within the house, but in the priests’ court, where they washed either their hands or feet, or the parts of the sacrifices. On the left side of the house, i.e. on the north side; for this is here opposed to the right or south side.

Over against the south, i.e. in the south-east part, where the offerings were prepared. And he put five bases on the right side of the house,.... On the south side, which is commonly understood; that is, of the courts of the priests, where they were placed for their use: and five on the left side of the house; on the north, as it must be, if the south is on the right; though as the entrance into the temple was at the east, when a man went in, the north must be on the right, and the south on the left; and this seems to be the position by what follows:

and he set the sea on the right side of the house eastward, over against the south; and therefore the right side must be the north, which is opposite to the south; the sea seems to have stood northeast, which was for the priests to wash in before they entered on divine service; see Gill on Exodus 30:20 hence it became customary with the Heathens to wash before they performed any religious worship (e), particularly the hands and feet (f).

(e) Vid. Virgil. Bucolic. Eclog. 8. "affer aquam", &c. Aeneid. 2. "attrectare nefas", &c. Macrob. Saturnal. l. 3. c. l. (f) Vid. Sperling de Bapt. Ethnic. p. 88, 89, 101.

And he put five bases on the right side of the house, and five on the left side of the house: and he set the sea on the right side of the {t} house eastward over against the south.

(t) That is, of the temple or sanctuary.

39. And he put] The verb is the same which later on in the verse is translated set. It is better to adhere to the same rendering in the same verse. It would also be more in accordance with the Hebrew to translate ‘And he set the bases, five on the right side (Heb. shoulder) of the house &c.’

eastward over against (better, towards) the south] The building looked north and south, so the sides would be east and west. The sea then stood at the south corner of the east side.

There is much uncertainty about the meaning of parts of the language in this description of the bases. They appear however to have been large box-shaped structures, set on four wheels. The wheels did not come up higher than the bottom of the box, and so needed shoulders and stays in which the axles might run and by which they might be kept in position. Above the box, which had a large hole in the top, rose a sort of capital on which was fixed the laver. The sides of the box and the capital as well as the stays were covered with figures. The purpose of these lavers as we are told 2 Chronicles 4:6, was for washing such things as were offered for the burnt offering. This was most likely the reason why they were needed of some considerable height and so were supported on the box-shaped bases. The laver would be of necessity as high as the altar of burnt offering, to the side of which it must have been brought at the time of any offering. That the altar stood higher than the level of the court seems evident from 1 Kings 8:22, where Solomon is described as standing before it in the sight of all the people.Verse 39. - And he put five bases on the right side [Heb. shoulder] of the house, and five on the left side of the house [i.e., on the south and north sides of the court of the priests]: and he set the sea on the right side of the house eastward over against the south. [This passage is decisive as to which was the right and which the left. The right side was the south. It was probably for convenience that the sea did not stand due east of the house, i.e., between the porch and altar.] In 1 Kings 7:31 we have a description of the upper portion of the mechonah, which formed the pedestal for the basin, and therewith an explanation of לכּיּר מתּחת. "And the mouth of it (the basin) was within the crown and upwards with a cubit, and the mouth of it (the crown) was rounded, stand-work, a cubit and a half (wide), and on its mouth also there was engraved work, and its panels were square, not round." To understand this verse, we must observe that, according to 1 Kings 7:35, the mechonah chest was provided at the top with a dome-shaped covering, in the centre of which there was an elevation resembling the capital of a pillar (הכּתרת, the crown), supporting the basin, which was inserted into it by its lower rim. The suffix in פּיהוּ (its mouth) is supposed by Thenius to refer to the mechonah chest, and he questions the allusion to the basin, on the ground that this was so flat that a mouth-like opening could not possibly be spoken of, and the basins were never within the mechonah. But however correct these two remarks may be in themselves, they by no means demonstrate the necessity of taking פּיהוּ as referring to the mechonah chest. For פּה (the mouth) is not necessarily to be understood as denoting a mouth-like opening to the basin; but just as ראשׁ פּי in Exodus 28:32 signifies the opening of the clothes for the head, i.e., for putting the head through when putting on the clothes, so may פּיהוּ (its mouth) be the opening or mouth for the basin, i.e., the opening into which the basin fitted and was emptied, the water in the basin being let off into the mechonah chest through the head-shaped neck by means of a tap or plug. The mouth was really the lower or contracted portion of the shell-shaped basin, which was about a cubit in height within the neck and upwards, that is to say, in all, inasmuch as it went partly into the neck and rose in part above it. The פּיה (the mouth thereof) which follows is the (upper) opening of the crown-like neck of the lid of the mechonah. This was rounded, מעשׂה־כן, stand-work, i.e., according to De Wette's correct paraphrase, formed after the style of the foot of a pillar, a cubit and a half in diameter. "And also upon the mouth of it (the mechonah) was carved work." The גּם (also) refers to the fact that the sides of the mechonah were already ornamented with carving. מסגּרתיהם, the panels of the crown-like neck (כּתרת) and its mouth (פּיה) were square, like the panels of the sides of the mechonah chest. The fact that panels are spoken of in connection with this neck, may be explained on the assumption that with its height of one cubit and its circumference of almost five cubits (which follows from its having a diameter of a cubit and a half) it had stronger borders of brass to strengthen its bearing power, while between them it consisted of thinner plates, which are called fillings or panels. - In 1 Kings 7:32, 1 Kings 7:33, the wheels are more minutely described. Every stool had four wheels under the panels, i.e., not against the sides of the chest, but under them, and ידות, hands or holders of the wheels, i.e., special contrivances for fastening the wheels to the axles, probably larger and more artistically worked than the linch-pins of ordinary carriages. These ידות were only required when the wheels turned upon the axles, and not when they were fastened to them. The height of the wheel was a cubit and a half, i.e., not half the height, but the whole. For with a half height of a cubit and a half the wheels would have been three cubits in diameter; and as the chest was only four cubits long, the hinder wheels and front wheels would almost have touched one another. The work (construction) of the wheels resembled that of (ordinary) carriage wheels; but everything about them (holders, felloes, spokes, and naves) was cast in brass. - In 1 Kings 7:34 the description passes to the upper portion of the mechonah. "And he made four shoulder-pieces at the four corners of one (i.e., of every) stand; out of the stand were its shoulder-pieces." כּתפות are the shoulder-pieces already mentioned in 1 Kings 7:30, which were attached to the feet below, or which terminated in feet. They were fastened to the corners in such a way that they seemed to come out of them; and they rose above the corners with a slight inclination (curve) towards the middle of the neck or capital, till they came under the outer rim of the basin which rested upon the capital of the lid of the chest, so as to support the basin, which turned considerably outwards at the top.
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