2 Chronicles 4
Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(a) The principal vessels of the Temple (2Chronicles 4:1-10).

(b) Huram’s works in brass (2Chronicles 4:11-18).

(c) Catalogue of golden objects, and conclusion 2Ch 4:19 -2Ch_5:1).

Moreover he made an altar of brass, twenty cubits the length thereof, and twenty cubits the breadth thereof, and ten cubits the height thereof.

THE BRAZEN ALTAR (2Chronicles 4:1).

(l) An altar of brass.—The brazen altar, or altar of burnt offering, made by Solomon, is not noticed in the parallel chapters of Kings (1 Kings 6, 7) which describe the construction of the temple and its vessels of service, but it is incidentally mentioned in another passage of the older work (1Kings 9:25), and its existence seems to be implied in 1Kings 8:22; 1Kings 8:64. This altar stood in the inner court of the temple. It rose from a terraced platform. (Comp. Ezekiel 43:13-17.) The Hebrew of this verse is such as to suggest that it must have existed in the original document. The style is the same. (Comp. the construction of the numerals with the noun, and note the word qômāh, “height,” now used for the first time by the chronicler.) It would appear, therefore, that the verse has been accidentally omitted from the text of Kings.

THE BRAZEN SEA (2Chronicles 4:2-5).

(Comp. 1Kings 7:23-26.)

(2) Also he made a molten sea.And he made the sea (i.e., the great basin) molteni.e., of cast metal.

Of ten cubits . . . thereof.—Ten in the cubit from its lip to its lip, circular all round; and five in the cubit was its height. Word for word as in 1Kings 7:23, save that Kings has one different preposition (‘ad, “unto,” instead of ‘el, “to”). “Lip.” Comp. “lip of the sea,” Genesis 22:17; “lip of the Jordan,” 2Kings 2:13; a metaphor which is also used in Greek.

And a line of thirty cubits . . .—Line, i.e., measuring-line, as in Ezekiel 47:3. The Hebrew is qāw. In Kings we read a rare form, qāwèh. The rest of the clause is the same in both texts.

Did compass.Would compass, or go round it.

Also he made a molten sea of ten cubits from brim to brim, round in compass, and five cubits the height thereof; and a line of thirty cubits did compass it round about.
(2) Even if pôthôth be correct in Kings, the chronicler might have understood the word to mean openings, rather than hinges, and so have substituted the common word pethah, which has that sense. The resemblance of the one word to the other would be a further consideration in its favour, according to ancient notions of interpretation.

And under it was the similitude of oxen, which did compass it round about: ten in a cubit, compassing the sea round about. Two rows of oxen were cast, when it was cast.
(3) And under it was the similitude of oxen.—Literally, And a likeness of oxen (figured oxen) under it around surrounding it, ten in the cubit encompassing the sea around: two rows were the oxen, smelted in the smelting of it. In the parallel passage (1Kings 7:24) we read: And wild gourds underneath its lip around surrounding it,” &c., as here; two of rows were the gourds, smelted in the smelting thereof. The Hebrew words for “oxen” and “gourds” might easily be confused by a transcriber, and accordingly it is assumed by most commentators that the text of the chronicler has suffered corruption, and should be restored from that of Kings. But there seems no reason—unless we suppose that each writer has given an exhaustive description, which is clearly not the case—why the ornamental rows which ran round the great basin should not have included both features, small figures of oxen, as well as wild gourds. Reuss objects on the ground of the diminutive size of the axon (“ten in a cubit”); but such work was by no means beyond the resources of ancient art. (Comp. the reliefs on the bronze doors of Shalmaneser 11. (859-825 B.C. ); 1Kings 7:29 actually gives an analogous instance.) The word pĕqā’îm, “wild gourds,” only occurs in one other place of Kings, viz., 1Kings 6:18. (Comp. paqqû‘ôth, 2Kings 4:39.) A copyist of Kings might nave inadvertently repeated the word from the former passage in 1Kings 7:24. In any case it is sheer dogmatism to assert that “the copyists (in the Chronicle) have absurdly changed the gourds into oxen” (Reuss). The Syriac and Arabic omit this verse; but the LXX. and Vulg. have it.

It stood upon twelve oxen, three looking toward the north, and three looking toward the west, and three looking toward the south, and three looking toward the east: and the sea was set above upon them, and all their hinder parts were inward.
(4) It stood.—The whole verse coincides verbally with 1Kings 7:25, with one slight exception: the common form of the numeral “twelve,” shnêm ‘āsār, is substituted for the rare shnê ‘āsār.

And the thickness of it was an handbreadth, and the brim of it like the work of the brim of a cup, with flowers of lilies; and it received and held three thousand baths.
(5) And the thickness . . . a cup.—Identical with 1Kings 7:26.

With flowers of lilies.—See margin. “Lily” here is shôshannāh; in Kings, shôshān. LXX., “graven with lily buds.” Syriac and Arabic, “and it was very beautiful.” Vulg., “like the lip of a cup, or of an open lily.”

And it received and held three thousand baths.—Literally, holding (whole) baths: three thousand would it contain. The bath was the largest of Hebrew liquid measures. Perhaps the true reading is, “holding three thousand baths,” the last verb being a gloss borrowed from Kings. So Vulg. Syriac and Arabic omit the clause. The LXX. had the present reading. 1Kings 7:26 reads, two thousand baths would it contain. Most critics assume this to be correct. Some scribe may have read ’alāphîm, “thousands,” instead of ‘alpayim, “two thousand,” and then have added “three” (shĕlōsheth) under the influence of the last verse. But it is more likely that the numeral “three” having been inadvertently omitted from the text of Kings, the indefinite word “thousands” was made definite by turning it into the dual “two thousand” Either mistake would be possible, because in the unpointed text ‘alāphîm and ’alpayim are written alike. The Syriac has the curious addition, “And he made ten poles, and put five on the right and five on the left, and bare with them the altar of burnt offerings.” Similarly the Arabic version.

He made also ten lavers, and put five on the right hand, and five on the left, to wash in them: such things as they offered for the burnt offering they washed in them; but the sea was for the priests to wash in.

(2Chronicles 4:6). (Comp. 1Kings 7:27-39.)

(6) The chronicler now returns to his abbreviating style, and omits altogether the description of the ten bases, or stands, upon which the lavers were placed, and which are described in full and curious detail in 1Kings 7:27-39. The unusual difficulty of the passage may have determined the omission, but it seems more likely that the sacred writer thought the bases of less importance than the objects described in 2Chronicles 4:7-9, the account of which he has interpolated between the first and second half of 1Kings 7:39.

He made also ten lavers.And he made ten pans. The word kîyôr is used in 1Samuel 2:14 as a pan for cooking, and in Zechariah 12:6 as a pan holding fire. Its meaning here and in the parallel place is a pan for washing. (Comp. Exodus 30:18; Exodus 30:28.) The LXX. renders λουτῆρας, “baths;” the Syriac, laqnê, “flagons” (lagenae, λάγηνοι).

To wash in them.—This statement, and, indeed, the rest of the verse is peculiar to the chronicler. On the other hand, 1Kings 7:38 specifies the size and capacity of the lavers here omitted.

Such things as they offered for the burnt offering they washed in them.—This gives the meaning. Literally, the work (comp. Exodus 29:36, “to do” being equivalent to “to offer”) of the burnt offering they used to rinse (strictly, thrust, plunge) in them.

But the sea was for the priests to wash in.—The Hebrew words have been transposed apparently. The same infinitive (lĕrohçāh) occurs in Exodus 30:18; Exodus 40:30, in a similar context. Instead of all this, the Syriac and Arabic versions read: “put them five on the right hand and five on the left, that the priests might wash in them their hands and their feet,” which appears to be derived from Exodus 30:19; Exodus 40:31.

And he made ten candlesticks of gold according to their form, and set them in the temple, five on the right hand, and five on the left.

This section is peculiar to Chronicles.

(7) And he made ten candlesticks of gold according to their form.And he made the golden lampstands ten, according to their rule, or, prescribed manner. (Comp. 1Kings 7:49; and Exodus 25:31-40, where their type is described.) So the Vulg., “secundum speciem quâ jussa erant fieri.” Syriac and Arabic, “according to their laws.” Others explain “as their use required,” which is less likely.

In the temple.—And before the chancel (1Kings 7:49; 2Chronicles 4:20, infra).

He made also ten tables, and placed them in the temple, five on the right side, and five on the left. And he made an hundred basons of gold.
(8) He made also ten tables.—Perhaps the golden candelabra stood upon them. (Comp. 1Chronicles 28:16; and 2Chronicles 4:19, infra.)

Side.—Not in the Hebrew.

An hundred basons.Bowls for pouring libations (Amos 6:6; same word, mizrāqîm). The Syriac and Arabic make the number of these vessels a hundred and twenty.

The ten tables are not mentioned in the parallel narrative, which speaks of one table only, viz., the table of shewbread (1Kings 7:48).

“Basons,” or bowls, are spoken of in 1Kings 7:45; 1Kings 7:50 (mizrâqôth), but their number is not given.

Furthermore he made the court of the priests, and the great court, and doors for the court, and overlaid the doors of them with brass.
(9) The court of the priests.—See 1Kings 6:36; 1Kings 7:12, “the inner court; Jeremiah 36:10, “the higher court.”

And the great court.—‘Azārāh, “court,” a late word, common in the Targums for the classical hāqēr, which has just occurred. The ‘azārāh was the outer court of the temple. It is not mentioned at all in the parallel narrative. The LXX. calls it “the great court;” the Vulg., “the great basilica.” The Syriac renders the whole verse: “And he made one great court for the priests and Levites, and covered the doors and bolts with bronze.” (Comp. Note on 2Chronicles 4:3 for this plating of the doors with bronze.) The bronze plated doors of Shalmaneser’s palace at Balawat were twenty-two feet high, and each leaf was six feet wide.

And he set the sea on the right side of the east end, over against the south.
(10) And he set the sea . . .—Literally, And he set the sea on the right shoulder, eastward, in front of the southward; i.e., on the south-east side of the house (1Kings 7:39, b.). The LXX. and some MSS. add “of the house,” which appears to have fallen out of the text.

And Huram made the pots, and the shovels, and the basons. And Huram finished the work that he was to make for king Solomon for the house of God;
(b) HURAM’S WORKS IN BRASS (2Chronicles 4:11-18)

Comp. 1Kings 7:40-47.

Throughout this section the narrative almost textually coincides with the parallel account.

(11) And Huram made the pots.1Kings 7:40 has “lavers” (pans). Our reading, “pots,” appears correct, supported as it is by many MSS. and the LXX. and Vulg. of Kings. A single stroke makes the difference between the two words in Hebrew writing. These “pots” were scuttles for carrying away the ashes of the altar.

Basons.—“Bowls” (mizrāqôth). Probably the same as the mizrāqîm of 2Chronicles 4:8. So kîyôrôth (Kings) and kîyôrîm (Chron.).

Huram.—Hebrew text, Hiram, as in Kings. The LXX. renders: “And Hiram made the fleshhooks (κρεάγρας) and the firepans (πυρεια), and the hearth of the altar and all its vessels.”

The work.—Kings, “all the work,” and so some MSS., LXX., and Vulg. of Chron. The Syriac and Arabic omit 2Chronicles 4:11-17; 2Chronicles 4:19-22.

He was to make.—Rather, he made.

For the house.In the house. Chronicles supplies the preposition in, which is not required according to ancient usage.

To wit, the two pillars, and the pommels, and the chapiters which were on the top of the two pillars, and the two wreaths to cover the two pommels of the chapiters which were on the top of the pillars;
(12) And the pommels, and the chapitersi.e., the globes and the capitals. Kings, Authorised Version has bowls, but in Hebrew the word is the same (gullôth, globes). “The globes of the capitals” (Kings) is plainly incorrect.

Which were on the top of the two pillars.—Heb. (and the globes and the capitals), on the top of the pillars, two; i.e., two globes and capitals. The word “two” (shtayim) is feminine, agreeing with “globes and capitals,” which are also feminine; whereas “pillars” is a masculine term.

Wreaths.—Heb., sĕbākhôth, lattices. (Comp. 2Kings 1:2.) The Authorised version of 1Kings 7:41 gives “network,” but the Hebrew word is the same as here.

And four hundred pomegranates on the two wreaths; two rows of pomegranates on each wreath, to cover the two pommels of the chapiters which were upon the pillars.
(13) Two rows.—See 1Kings 7:42.

He made also bases, and lavers made he upon the bases;
(14) He made also bases.And the bases he made; and the lavers he made upon the bases. This repetition of the verb is suspicious; and the parallel text shows the right reading to be and the bases ten (in number), and the lavers ten upon the bases. “Ten” in Hebrew writing closely resembles “he made.” The LXX. renders, “And the bases he made ten, and the lavers he made upon the bases;” which shows that the corruption of the text is ancient.

One sea, and twelve oxen under it.
(15) One sea.—Heb., the sea one. Kings, and the one sea.

And twelve oxen under it.And the oxen, twelve, under it. Kings, And the oxen, twelve, under the sea. The chronicler has abridged the expression.

The pots also, and the shovels, and the fleshhooks, and all their instruments, did Huram his father make to king Solomon for the house of the LORD of bright brass.
(16) The pots also, and the shovels, and the fleshhooks.—“Fleshhooks” (mizlāgôth) should apparently be “bowls” (mizrāqôth). (Comp. 2Chronicles 4:1, and 1Kings 7:45.) But in Exodus 27:3, pots and shovels and bowls and fleshhooks are mentioned in succession as utensils of the altar. Perhaps, therefore, both words should be read here and in Kings. LXX., καὶ τοὺς ποδιστήρας καὶ τοὺς ἀναλημπτῆρας καὶ τοὺς λέβητας καὶ τὰς κρεάγρας . The Vulg. merely repeats 2Chronicles 4:11 (et lebetes et creagras et phialas). A stop should follow the last; “And all their instruments,” &c., being a new sentence.

And all their instruments.1Kings 7:45, and all these instruments, which appears correct, though the LXX. supports our present reading (πάντα τὰ σκέυη αὐτῶν). “Their instruments” could hardly mean the moulds in which they were cast, as Zöckler suggests. The moulds would not be made in “polished brass.”

Huram his father.—See Note on 2Chronicles 2:13.

Bright.Polished. Jeremiah 46:4 (mārûq). Kings has the synonym mĕmōrāt. (Comp. Isaiah 18:2.)

In the plain of Jordan did the king cast them, in the clay ground between Succoth and Zeredathah.
(17) In the clay ground.—Heb., in the thickness of the groundi.e., in the stiff or clayey soil. Vulg., “in argillosa terra.” For ‘ăbî, “thickness,” see Job 15:26. Kings has ma‘ăbeh, which occurs nowhere else.

Zeredathah.—Kings, Zārĕthān (Joshua 3:16). Zĕrēdāthāh means towards Zĕrĕthāh (1Kings 11:26). The two names denote the same place.

Thus Solomon made all these vessels in great abundance: for the weight of the brass could not be found out.
(18) Thus Solomon made all these vessels in great abundance.1Kings 7:47, And Solomon left all the vessels (unweighed) from very great abundance. Our text may be due to a copyist, whose eye wandered to the beginning of the next verse; but it is possible that the chronicler missed the significance of the verb used in Kings, and therefore substituted an easier term. The further changes—“unto great abundance,” “for the weight,” &c.—suggest this account of the matter.

Could not be found out.Was not ascertained.

And Solomon made all the vessels that were for the house of God, the golden altar also, and the tables whereon the shewbread was set;

(2Ch 4:19 -2Ch_5:1). 1Kings 7:48-50.

The narrative still coincides in the main with that of Kings, allowing for one or two remarkable alterations.

(19) For the house.In the houses (without proposition, comp. 2Chronicles 4:11).

The golden altar also.—Literally, both the golden altar and the tables, and upon them the Presence bread. So LXX. and Vulg. The parallel passage, 1Kings 7:48, says, and the table on which (was) the Presence bread (in) gold. (See Note on 2Chronicles 4:8, supr., and 1Chronicles 28:16.) On the one hand, the chronicler in these three passages consistently speaks of tables, although the book of Kings mentions one table only; and, on the other hand, elsewhere he actually speaks himself of “the Pure Table,” and “the Table of the Pile,” as if there were only one such table (2Chronicles 13:11; 2Chronicles 29:18).

The difficulty cannot be solved with certainty; but it seems likely that, finding mention of a number of tables in one of his sources, the chronicler has grouped them all together with the Table of Shewbread. thus gaining brevity at the cost of accuracy. In Ezekiel 40:39 eight tables of hewn stone are mentioned, whereon they slew the sacrificial victims.

Moreover the candlesticks with their lamps, that they should burn after the manner before the oracle, of pure gold;
(20) With (and) their lamps, that they should burn after the manner (according to the legal rule2Chronicles 4:7). This is added by the chronicler, who omits “five on the right and five on the left” (Kings). The rest is as in Kings.

And the flowers, and the lamps, and the tongs, made he of gold, and that perfect gold;
(21) And the flowers . . . gold.—See 1Kings 7:49.

And that perfect gold.It was perfection of gold. The word miklôth, “perfections” (intensive plural) occurs nowhere else. It is derived from kālāh, “to be finished,” not kālal (Bishop Wordsworth). The LXX. omits the clause; not so the Vulg., which renders “all were made of purest gold.” This little touch, added to heighten the effect, is quite in the manner of the chronicler, and is certainly not to be suspected, as Zöckler asserts. Perhaps we should read miklôl, “perfection” (Ezekiel 23:12), instead of the isolated miklôth.

And the snuffers.—Before this expression, and the basons (1Kings 7:50) has probably fallen out.

Snuffers.Shears or scissors, for trimming the lamps.

The spoons, and the censers.—Or, trays and snuff-dishes.—See 1Kings 7:50; Exodus 25:38.

And the entry of the house.—Including both the doors of the nave or holy place, and those of the chancel or holiest. The words are explained by those which follow: “viz., its inner doors to the holy of holies and the doors of the house—viz., to the nave (hêhāl, great hall).” In 1Kings 7:50 we read, “And the hinges to the doors of the inner house—viz., the holy of holies, (and) to the doors of the house—viz., to the nave, were of gold.” The word rendered hinges (pôthôth) resembles that rendered entry (pethah); and some have supposed that the latter is a corruption of the former, and would alter our text accordingly. Two reasons seem to be decisive against such a change. (1) Pôthôth, “hinges,” occurs nowhere else in the Bible; and may not be genuine. It is likely enough that the doors of the Temple were plated with gold (1Kings 6:32; 1Kings 6:35), but hardly that their hinges were made of gold.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

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