Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers
4. GOD CONFIRMS THE DEDICATION OF THE TEMPLE (1) BY FIRE FROM HEAVEN; (2) BY SPECIAL REVELATION TO SOLOMON(2 Chronicles 7).
The fire from heaven (2Chronicles 7:1-3). This section is wanting in l Kings 8:54, sqq., where we read instead of it an address of Solomon to the people. All that the king said seems here to be included in the phrase, “when Solomon had made an end of praying.”
Now when Solomon had made an end of praying, the fire came down from heaven, and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the LORD filled the house.(1) When Solomon had made an end of praying.—(1Kings 8:54, “And it came to pass, when S. had made an end of praying unto Jehovah all this prayer and supplication.”) From this point the divergence between the two accounts begins. There is no objective ground for supposing that the chronicler invented the facts here recorded. He must have found them in one of his sources, although we have no means of determining whether or not they were related in the original narrative followed by the author of Kings. It is gratuitous to fancy that the chronicler was more partial to miracle than the older writer. (Comp. 1Kings 8:10; 1Kings 18:38.) His greater interest in all that concerned the worship of the Temple is enough to account for the present and similar additions to the older narrative.
The fire came down from heaven.—Comp. Leviticus 9:22-24, from which passage it appears likely that the fire descended after Solomon had blessed the people. (Comp. also 1Chronicles 21:26; 2Kings 1:10; 2Kings 1:12; 2Kings 1:14.)
And the sacrifices.—The offerings presented when the ark entered the Temple (2Chronicles 5:6).
And the glory of the Lord filled the house.—This statement is not a mere duplicate of 2Chronicles 5:13-14. See next verse. The “glory of the Lord” is apparently a manifestation quite distinct from the “fire.”
And the priests could not enter into the house of the LORD, because the glory of the LORD had filled the LORD'S house.(2) And the priests could not enter into the house of the Lord.—Hardly a different assertion from that of 2Chronicles 5:14 (“ the priests could not stand to minister”); the cause in both instances being the same, and expressed in the same words (1Kings 8:11). But it is quite plain that the writer intends to record in 2 Chronicles 5, 7 two distinct appearances of the Divine glory, one before and one after the Prayer of Consecration, both of which were attended by the same effects upon the ministering priests.
And when all the children of Israel saw how the fire came down, and the glory of the LORD upon the house, they bowed themselves with their faces to the ground upon the pavement, and worshipped, and praised the LORD, saying, For he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever.(3) Upon the pavement.—Riçpāh; rendered by the LXX. τὸ λιθόστρωτον, which is the word used in John 19:13; Vulg., “pavimentum stratum lapide.” (Comp. Ezekiel 40:17-18; Esther 1:6, a tesselated pavement.)
And praised.—Gave thanks to Jehovah. The infinitive is here used for the finite form of the verb, as elsewhere.
For he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever.—See 1Chronicles 16:34-41; 1Chronicles 23:30; 2Chronicles 5:13; 2Chronicles 20:21. The Syriac and Arabic paraphrase, “and they said one to another: Give thanks to the Lord,” &c. There is hardly anything in the section, except this last phrase, which can be said to be characteristic of the style of the chronicler.
Then the king and all the people offered sacrifices before the LORD.(4-10) THE SACRIFICES AND THE FESTIVAL. (Comp. 1Kings 8:62-66.) The two narratives are again mainly coincident.
Offered sacrifices.—Were sacrificing a sacrifice. LXX., θύοντες θύματα. Vulg., “immolabant.”
And king Solomon offered a sacrifice of twenty and two thousand oxen, and an hundred and twenty thousand sheep: so the king and all the people dedicated the house of God.(5) And King Solomon offered a sacrifice of twenty and two thousand oxen.—Literally, the sacrifice of the oxen twenty and two thousand. Kings, “the sacrifice of the peace offerings which he sacrificed to Jehovah, oxen twenty and two thousand.” The italicised words seem to have fallen out of our text. The numbers are the same in both accounts.
The people.—Kings has the old name, sons of Israel, and house of Jehovah for house of God.
And the priests waited on their offices: the Levites also with instruments of musick of the LORD, which David the king had made to praise the LORD, because his mercy endureth for ever, when David praised by their ministry; and the priests sounded trumpets before them, and all Israel stood.(6) And the priests.—This verse is added by the chronicler, after his usual fashion of laying stress on the ritual, especially its choral and musical side. (Comp 2Chronicles 5:11-13.)
Waited on their offices.—Literally, And the priests upon their wards (watches) were standing, i.e., stood at their posts. Vulg., “sacerdotes autem stabant in officiis suis.”
Instruments of musick of the Lord—i.e., of sacred music, as we should say. (Comp. 1Chronicles 16:42.)
Which David . . . had made.—1Chronicles 23:5.
To praise.—Give thanks to. (Comp. 2Chronicles 7:3 supr.)
When David praised by their ministry.—See margin; and 1Chronicles 16:4-7. The LXX., ἐν ὕμνοις Δαυιδ διὰ τη̑ςχειρὸς αὐτῶν takes b’hallēl substantively, as if it meant “in David’s psalmody,” perhaps with special reference to the great hallel of the synagogue. The Authorised Version gives the true meaning, namely, that the Levites were David’s ministers of praise.
Sounded trumpets.—Were trumpeting.
Moreover Solomon hallowed the middle of the court that was before the house of the LORD: for there he offered burnt offerings, and the fat of the peace offerings, because the brasen altar which Solomon had made was not able to receive the burnt offerings, and the meat offerings, and the fat.(7) Moreover.—And. This verse is slightly modified from 1Kings 8:64 (see the Notes there).
Which Solomon had made.—2Chronicles 4:1. Kings, which was before the Lord.
Was not able to receive.—An explanation of the phrase of Kings, “was too little to receive.”
The burnt offerings . . . meat offerings.—Both are singular in the Heb.
Also at the same time Solomon kept the feast seven days, and all Israel with him, a very great congregation, from the entering in of Hamath unto the river of Egypt.(8) Also at the same time.—Literally, And Solomon made the feast at that time seven days. “The feast” was the Feast of Tabernacles. (See Leviticus 23:34-36.)
Seven days.—The legal time. (See Lev. 50100) The days were counted from the 15th of the seventh month. (Comp. 1Kings 8:65.)
The river.—Torrent or wady. LXX., χειμάρρους. Kings adds, “before the Lord our God.” So Syriac.
And in the eighth day they made a solemn assembly: for they kept the dedication of the altar seven days, and the feast seven days.(9) And in the eighth day—That is, on the twenty-second of the seventh month (Ethanim, or Tisri; 2Chronicles 5:3).
For they kept the dedication of the altar seven days.—The seven days preceding the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles, or the 8th to the 14th Ethanim, had been kept as an extraordinary festival on account of the inauguration of the Temple. After this festival, the Feast of Tabernacles was celebrated in due course for seven days more.
This explains the obscure words of 1Kings 8:65, “(Solomon and all Israel) kept the feast . . . seven days and seven days, fourteen days,” a brief expression which combines the two distinct celebrations. So Syriac, “seven days of the feast, and seven days of the inauguration of the house; these and these, their amount was fourteen days. And on the day of the full moon in the month of Tisri the king sent the people away.”
And on the three and twentieth day of the seventh month he sent the people away into their tents, glad and merry in heart for the goodness that the LORD had shewed unto David, and to Solomon, and to Israel his people.(10) And on the three and twentieth day of the seventh month.—Beginning with the evening of the twenty-second.
For the goodness.—Some MSS., Syriac, and Arabic, “for all the goodness,” as in 1Kings 8:66.
David, and to Solomon.—Kings, “David his servant.” The mention of Solomon was added by the chronicler. (Comp. 2Chronicles 6:4; 2Chronicles 6:8; 2Chronicles 6:15-17; 2Chronicles 6:42, where all Solomon’s success is connected with the premise to David.)
Thus Solomon finished the house of the LORD, and the king's house: and all that came into Solomon's heart to make in the house of the LORD, and in his own house, he prosperously effected.THE LORD’S RESPONSE TO THE PRAYER OF SOLOMON
The substance and, for the most part, the language of both passages are the same, but the chronicler paraphrases occasionally, and has added a considerable section not extant in Kings (2Chronicles 7:13-16).
And the LORD appeared to Solomon by night, and said unto him, I have heard thy prayer, and have chosen this place to myself for an house of sacrifice.(12) By night.—This is implied in Kings, which has, “as He had appeared unto him in Gibeon.”
I have heard thy prayer.—From this point begins the chronicler’s addition to the prayer as extant in the older text. Judging by the style, the added section must have formed an integral part of the original text, from which both the editor of Kings and the chronicler drew their narratives.
An house of sacrifice (bêth zābah).—A phrase occurring nowhere else in the Old Testament.
If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people;(13) If I shut up heaven that there be no rain.—Deuteronomy 11:17; 2Chronicles 6:26.
If I send pestilence.—2Chronicles 6:28; 1 Chronicles 21
If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.(14) My people, which are called by my name.—See margin; 2Chronicles 6:33; Amos 9:12; Jeremiah 14:9. The sense is: which are dedicated to me.
Humble themselves.—Leviticus 26:41, in a similar context.
Heal their land.—Ps. Ix. 4.
Now mine eyes shall be open, and mine ears attent unto the prayer that is made in this place.(15) Now mine eyes shall be open.—Comp. 2Chronicles 6:40, and Notes.
For now have I chosen and sanctified this house, that my name may be there for ever: and mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually.(16) Have I chosen.—2Chronicles 6:6, and 2Chronicles 7:12, supr.
Sanctified this house.—1Kings 9:3. The two accounts are again parallel.
Perpetually.—All the days.
And as for thee, if thou wilt walk before me, as David thy father walked, and do according to all that I have commanded thee, and shalt observe my statutes and my judgments;(17) Walked.—Kings adds, “in perfectness of heart, and in uprightness.” So Syriac and Arabic.
And do.—So LXX., Vulg., and Arabic. The Heb. is wĕ-la‘asôth, “and to do,” a construction which the chronicler sometimes uses in continuation of a future (imperfect tense). But Kings has “to do,” an infinitive defining the former verb; and so the Syriac here.
Then will I stablish the throne of thy kingdom, according as I have covenanted with David thy father, saying, There shall not fail thee a man to be ruler in Israel.(18) As I have covenanted with.—Heb. kārattî lĕ, “Icut (a covenant) for.” The word bĕrîth, “covenant,” is omitted, as in 2Chronicles 5:10. So LXX., ὡς διεθέμην Δαυιδ τῷ πατρί σου. Syriac, “As I sware to David.” Kings: “As I spake concerning David” (kārattî may be an ancient misreading of dibbartî, “I spake;” the two being much alike in Heb. writing).
Ruler in Israel (môshēl).—Kings, “From upon the throne of Israel.” The chronicler has substituted a reminiscence of Micah 5:1, probably correcting a defective text, the word throne having fallen out. Syriac, “who standeth on the throne of Israel.”
But if ye turn away, and forsake my statutes and my commandments, which I have set before you, and shall go and serve other gods, and worship them;(19) But.—And. Kings omits, but emphasises the verb, “If ye will turn,” or, “if turn ye will.”
The order of words in the Heb. implies that ū-bnêkem, “and your children,” has fallen out of the text: “And if ye turn, ye and your children.” So Kings, and Syriac and Arabic here. Kings adds, “From after me.”
And forsake.—Kings, “and keep not.” So Syriac and Arabic.
Then will I pluck them up by the roots out of my land which I have given them; and this house, which I have sanctified for my name, will I cast out of my sight, and will make it to be a proverb and a byword among all nations.(20) Then will I pluck them up by the roots—i.e., your children (see last verse). (Comp. Deuteronomy 29:27.) Vulg. rightly, “evellam vos de terra mea.” The opposite idea is that of planting a nation in a land (Jeremiah 24:6). Kings, “Then will I cut off Israel from upon the face of the land.” The chronicler has softened the severity of the expression, cut off Israel.
Will I cast out of my sight.—Vulg. more literally, “projiciam a facie mea.” The exact phrase occurs nowhere else; but comp. Psalm 51:13, which is very similar; also Psalm 102:11. Instead of ’ashlik, “I will cast,” Kings has ’ashallah, “I will send,” i.e., throw (Amos 2:5).
And will make it.—A softening down of, and Israel shall become (Kings). Comp. Deuteronomy 28:37. So Syriac.
And this house, which is high, shall be an astonishment to every one that passeth by it; so that he shall say, Why hath the LORD done thus unto this land, and unto this house?(21) And this house, which is high.—A correction of Kings: “and this house shall be high,” which appears meaningless in the context. But the Syriac (and Arabic) here and in Kings has, “And this house shall be laid waste” (nehwê hreb); and the Targum of Kings combines both readings thus: “And this house which is high shall be laid waste” (y’hê harîb). It appears, therefore, that the original reading of the Heb. text was, “And this house shall become ruinous heaps” (‘îyîn, “heaps,” not ‘elyôn, “high”). (Comp. Micah 3:12. The mistake is as old as the LXX., ύ οἶκος οὗτος ὁ ὑψηλός.)
Shall be an astonishment to every one that passeth by it.—Every one that passeth by it shall be astonished: πᾶς ὁ διαπορευόμενος αὐτὸν ἐκστήσεται, LXX. Syriac, “Every one that passeth by it shall stop and shake his head, and sway with his hand, and say “. . . Kings adds, “and shall hiss” (certainly original).
And it shall be answered, Because they forsook the LORD God of their fathers, which brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, and laid hold on other gods, and worshipped them, and served them: therefore hath he brought all this evil upon them.(22) And it shall be answered.—And men shall say.
Hath he brought.—Kings, “hath Jehovah brought.” (So the Syriac and Arabic here.)