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8:1 Then Solomon assembled the elders of Israel, and all the heads of the tribes, the chief of the fathers of the children of Israel, unto king Solomon in Jerusalem, that they might bring up the ark of the covenant of the LORD out of the city of David, which is Zion.
8:2 And all the men of Israel assembled themselves unto king Solomon at the feast in the month Ethanim, which is the seventh month.
8:3 And all the elders of Israel came, and the priests took up the ark.
8:4 And they brought up the ark of the LORD, and the tabernacle of the congregation, and all the holy vessels that were in the tabernacle, even those did the priests and the Levites bring up.
8:5 And king Solomon, and all the congregation of Israel, that were assembled unto him, were with him before the ark, sacrificing sheep and oxen, that could not be told nor numbered for multitude.
8:6 And the priests brought in the ark of the covenant of the LORD unto his place, into the oracle of the house, to the most holy place, even under the wings of the cherubims.
8:7 For the cherubims spread forth their two wings over the place of the ark, and the cherubims covered the ark and the staves thereof above.
8:8 And they drew out the staves, that the ends of the staves were seen out in the holy place before the oracle, and they were not seen without: and there they are unto this day.
8:9 There was nothing in the ark save 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.
8:10 And it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the holy place, that the cloud filled the house of the LORD, 8:11 So that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud: for the glory of the LORD had filled the house of the LORD.
8:12 Then spake Solomon, The LORD said that he would dwell in the thick darkness.
8:13 I have surely built thee an house to dwell in, a settled place for thee to abide in for ever.
8:14 And the king turned his face about, and blessed all the congregation of Israel: (and all the congregation of Israel stood;) 8:15 And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of Israel, which spake with his mouth unto David my father, and hath with his hand fulfilled it, saying, 8:16 Since the day that I brought forth my people Israel out of Egypt, I chose no city out of all the tribes of Israel to build an house, that my name might be therein; but I chose David to be over my people Israel.
8:17 And it was in the heart of David my father to build an house for the name of the LORD God of Israel.
8:18 And the LORD said unto David my father, Whereas it was in thine heart to build an house unto my name, thou didst well that it was in thine heart.
8:19 Nevertheless thou shalt not build the house; but thy son that shall come forth out of thy loins, he shall build the house unto my name.
8:20 And the LORD hath performed his word that he spake, and I am risen up in the room of David my father, and sit on the throne of Israel, as the LORD promised, and have built an house for the name of the LORD God of Israel.
8:21 And I have set there a place for the ark, wherein is the covenant of the LORD, which he made with our fathers, when he brought them out of the land of Egypt.
8:22 And Solomon stood before the altar of the LORD in the presence of all the congregation of Israel, and spread forth his hands toward heaven: 8:23 And he 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 walk before thee with all their heart: 8:24 Who hast kept with thy servant David my father that thou promisedst him: thou spakest also with thy mouth, and hast fulfilled it with thine hand, as it is this day.
8:25 Therefore now, LORD God of Israel, keep with thy servant David my father that thou promisedst him, saying, There shall not fail thee a man in my sight to sit on the throne of Israel; so that thy children take heed to their way, that they walk before me as thou hast walked before me.
8:26 And now, O God of Israel, let thy word, I pray thee, be verified, which thou spakest unto thy servant David my father.
8:27 But will God indeed dwell on the earth? behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house that I have builded? 8:28 Yet have thou respect unto the prayer of thy servant, and to his supplication, O LORD my God, to hearken unto the cry and to the prayer, which thy servant prayeth before thee to day: 8:29 That thine eyes may be open toward this house night and day, even toward the place of which thou hast said, My name shall be there: that thou mayest hearken unto the prayer which thy servant shall make toward this place.
8:30 And hearken thou to the supplication of thy servant, and of thy people Israel, when they shall pray toward this place: and hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place: and when thou hearest, forgive.
8:31 If any man trespass against his neighbour, and an oath be laid upon him to cause him to swear, and the oath come before thine altar in this house: 8:32 Then hear thou in heaven, and do, and judge thy servants, condemning the wicked, to bring his way upon his head; and justifying the righteous, to give him according to his righteousness.
8:33 When thy people Israel be smitten down before the enemy, because they have sinned against thee, and shall turn again to thee, and confess thy name, and pray, and make supplication unto thee in this house: 8:34 Then hear thou in heaven, and forgive the sin of thy people Israel, and bring them again unto the land which thou gavest unto their fathers.
8:35 When heaven is shut up, and there is no rain, because they have sinned against thee; if they pray toward this place, and confess thy name, and turn from their sin, when thou afflictest them: 8:36 Then hear thou in heaven, and forgive the sin of thy servants, and of thy people Israel, that thou teach them the good way wherein they should walk, and give rain upon thy land, which thou hast given to thy people for an inheritance.
8:37 If there be in the land famine, if there be pestilence, blasting, mildew, locust, or if there be caterpiller; if their enemy besiege them in the land of their cities; whatsoever plague, whatsoever sickness there be; 8:38 What prayer and supplication soever be made by any man, or by all thy people Israel, which shall know every man the plague of his own heart, and spread forth his hands toward this house: 8:39 Then hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place, and forgive, and do, and give to every man according to his ways, whose heart thou knowest; (for thou, even thou only, knowest the hearts of all the children of men;) 8:40 That they may fear thee all the days that they live in the land which thou gavest unto our fathers.
8:41 Moreover concerning a stranger, that is not of thy people Israel, but cometh out of a far country for thy name's sake; 8:42 (For they shall hear of thy great name, and of thy strong hand, and of thy stretched out arm;) when he shall come and pray toward this house; 8:43 Hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place, and do according to all that the stranger calleth to thee for: that all people of the earth may know thy name, to fear thee, as do thy people Israel; and that they may know that this house, which I have builded, is called by thy name.
8:44 If thy people go out to battle against their enemy, whithersoever thou shalt send them, and shall pray unto the LORD toward the city which thou hast chosen, and toward the house that I have built for thy name: 8:45 Then hear thou in heaven their prayer and their supplication, and maintain their cause.
8:46 If they sin against thee, (for there is no man that sinneth not,) and thou be angry with them, and deliver them to the enemy, so that they carry them away captives unto the land of the enemy, far or near; 8:47 Yet if they shall bethink themselves in the land whither they were carried captives, and repent, and make supplication unto thee in the land of them that carried them captives, saying, We have sinned, and have done perversely, we have committed wickedness; 8:48 And so return unto thee with all their heart, and with all their soul, in the land of their enemies, which led them away captive, and pray unto thee toward their land, which thou gavest unto their fathers, the city which thou hast chosen, and the house which I have built for thy name: 8:49 Then hear thou their prayer and their supplication in heaven thy dwelling place, and maintain their cause, 8:50 And forgive thy people that have sinned against thee, and all their transgressions wherein they have transgressed against thee, and give them compassion before them who carried them captive, that they may have compassion on them: 8:51 For they be thy people, and thine inheritance, which thou broughtest forth out of Egypt, from the midst of the furnace of iron: 8:52 That thine eyes may be open unto the supplication of thy servant, and unto the supplication of thy people Israel, to hearken unto them in all that they call for unto thee.
8:53 For thou didst separate them from among all the people of the earth, to be thine inheritance, as thou spakest by the hand of Moses thy servant, when thou broughtest our fathers out of Egypt, O LORD God.
8:54 And it was so, that when Solomon had made an end of praying all this prayer and supplication unto the LORD, he arose from before the altar of the LORD, from kneeling on his knees with his hands spread up to heaven.
8:55 And he stood, and blessed all the congregation of Israel with a loud voice, saying, 8:56 Blessed be the LORD, that hath given rest unto his people Israel, according to all that he promised: there hath not failed one word of all his good promise, which he promised by the hand of Moses his servant.
8:57 The LORD our God be with us, as he was with our fathers: let him not leave us, nor forsake us: 8:58 That he may incline our hearts unto him, to walk in all his ways, and to keep his commandments, and his statutes, and his judgments, which he commanded our fathers.
8:59 And let these my words, wherewith I have made supplication before the LORD, be nigh unto the LORD our God day and night, that he maintain the cause of his servant, and the cause of his people Israel at all times, as the matter shall require: 8:60 That all the people of the earth may know that the LORD is God, and that there is none else.
8:61 Let your heart therefore be perfect with the LORD our God, to walk in his statutes, and to keep his commandments, as at this day.
8:62 And the king, and all Israel with him, offered sacrifice before the LORD.
8:63 And Solomon offered a sacrifice of peace offerings, which he offered unto the LORD, two and twenty thousand oxen, and an hundred and twenty thousand sheep. So the king and all the children of Israel dedicated the house of the LORD.
8:64 The same day did the king hallow the middle of the court that was before the house of the LORD: for there he offered burnt offerings, and meat offerings, and the fat of the peace offerings: because the brasen altar that was before the LORD was too little to receive the burnt offerings, and meat offerings, and the fat of the peace offerings.
8:65 And at that time Solomon held a feast, and all Israel with him, a great congregation, from the entering in of Hamath unto the river of Egypt, before the LORD our God, seven days and seven days, even fourteen days.
8:66 On the eighth day he sent the people away: and they blessed the king, and went unto their tents joyful and glad of heart for all the goodness that the LORD had done for David his servant, and for Israel his people.


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Everything King James Bible:1 Kings
Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible
back to: 1 Kings
Book: 1 Kings
Chapter: 8

Overview:
The Dedication of the Temple. (1-11) The occasion. (12-21)
Solomon's Prayer. (22-53) His blessing and exhortation. (54-61)
Solomon's peace-offerings. (62-66)

1-11 The bringing in the Ark, is the End which must Crown the
work: this was done with great solemnity. The Ark was fixed in
the place appointed for its Rest in the inner part of the House,
whence they expected God to speak to them, even in the most holy
place. The staves of the Ark were drawn out, So as to direct the
high Priest to the Mercy-seat over the Ark, when he went in,
once a Year, to sprinkle the Blood there; So that they continued
of use, though there was No longer occasion to carry it By them.
The Glory of God appearing in a Cloud may signify, 1. The
Darkness of that Dispensation, in comparison with the Light of
the Gospel, By which, with open Face, we behold, as in a Glass,
the Glory of the Lord. 2. The Darkness of our present state, in
comparison with the sight of God, which will be the happiness of
Heaven, where the Divine Glory is unveiled.

12-21 Solomon encouraged the priests, who were much astonished
at the dark Cloud. The dark dispensations of Providence should
quicken us in fleeing for Refuge to the Hope of the Gospel.
Nothing can more reconcile us to them, than to consider what God
has said, and to compare his Word and Works together. Whatever
good we do, we must look On it as the performance of God's
promise to us, not of our promises to him.

22-53 In this excellent Prayer, Solomon does as we should do in
every Prayer; he gives Glory to God. Fresh experiences of the
Truth of God's promises Call for larger praises. He sues for
Grace and favour from God. The experiences we have of God's
performing his promises, should encourage us to depend upon
them, and to plead them with him; and those who expect further
mercies, must be thankful for former mercies. God's promises
must be the guide of our desires, and the ground of our hopes
and expectations in Prayer. The sacrifices, the Incense, and the
whole service of the Temple, were all typical of the Redeemer's
offices, oblation, and intercession. The Temple, therefore, was
continually to be remembered. Under one Word, "forgive," Solomon
expressed all that he could ask in behalf of his people. For, as
all misery springs from Sin, forgiveness of Sin prepares the way
for the removal of every evil, and the receiving of every good.
Without it, No deliverance can prove a blessing. In addition to
the teaching of the Word of God, Solomon entreated the Lord
himself to teach the people to profit By all, even By their
chastisements. They shall know every Man the Plague of his own
Heart, what it is that pains him; and shall spread their hands
in Prayer toward this House; whether the trouble be of body or
mind, they shall represent it before God. Inward burdens seem
especially meant. Sin is the Plague of our own hearts; our
in-dwelling corruptions are our spiritual diseases: every true
Israelite endeavours to know these, that he may mortify them,
and watch against the risings of them. These drive him to his
knees; lamenting these, he spreads forth his hands in Prayer.
After many particulars, Solomon concludes with the general
request, that God would hearken to his praying people. No place,
now, under the Gospel, can add to the prayers made in or towards
it. The substance is Christ; whatever we ask in his name, it
shall be given us. In this manner the Israel of God is
established and sanctified, the backslider is recovered and
healed. In this manner the Stranger is brought nigh, the mourner
is comforted, the name of God is glorified. Sin is the cause of
all our troubles; Repentance and forgiveness lead to all human
happiness.

54-61 Never was a Congregation dismissed with what was more
likely to affect them, and to abide with them. What Solomon asks
for in this Prayer, is still granted in the intercession of
Christ, of which his supplication was a Type. We shall receive
Grace sufficient, suitable, and seasonable, in every time of
need. No human Heart is of itself willing to obey the Gospel
Call to Repentance, Faith, and newness of Life, walking in all
the Commandments of the Lord, yet Solomon exhorts the people to
be perfect. This is the scriptural method, it is our duty to
obey the command of the Law and the Call of the Gospel, seeing
we have broken the Law. When our hearts are inclined thereto,
feeling our sinfulness and weakness, we pray for Divine
assistance; thus are we made able to serve God through Jesus
Christ.

62-66 Solomon offered a great Sacrifice. He kept the Feast of
Tabernacles, as it seems, after the Feast of Dedication. Thus
should we go home, rejoicing, from holy ordinances, thankful for
God's Goodness

The following is an essay I wrote for a course on the religious history of Jerusalem. It discusses themes of kingship and sacred space in I Kings 8.

The consecration of the Solomonic Temple demonstrates a strong relationship between kingship, God, and sacred space that is typical of Near Eastern society. It also expands this relationship, connecting God with the entire nation of Israel, and, indeed, with the concept of nationalism in Israel. In this Biblical passage, we see King Solomon as a humble servant of Yahweh, but we also see him as a ruler of tens of thousands, and in his rhetoric he attempts to utilize his connection with God to maintain and expand his power.

Solomon begins the ceremony by calling the elders of Israel to him and having the Ark of the Covenant brought before him (I Kgs 8:1). Each of these actions serves God, but each is also an exercise of his power as king. It is notable that Solomon orders the ark to be brought to him, while the priests have the less glorious (and more dangerous) duty of actually carrying the ark (I Kgs 8:3). Solomon also leads the offerings of sacrifices and other aspects of consecration (I Kgs 8:62). This is a nation in which the king’s power over religion is absolute: Solomon clearly dictates religious conduct to the priests, not the other way around. This immense power of the king is visible throughout the books of Kings, as we see that kings, not priests, make decisions about enforcement of the Law. Other people, including priests, have little control over the society’s religious practices.

Solomon, however, is clearly up to his task of leadership. Once the consecration ceremony begins, he speaks to his people in language that strongly connects nationalism and religion at several levels. He links his kingship to temple building, as had other kings, but he also attributes this very kingship to a promise made by God to his father David (I Kgs 8:20). He relates God to his nation in other ways, referring to him as “the God of Israel” and talking about the Mosaic covenant that Yahweh made with the Israelites’ ancestors “when he brought them out of the land of Egypt” (I Kgs 8:21). By connecting himself and his people to this history, he asserts that the Temple, his creation, is in fact another development in the relationship between God and the Israelite people, and that he himself has the will of God supporting him as king.

This support is essential because the Temple permanently changes the Israelite religion. The ark, which had once been portable, is now enclosed within the Devir, accessible to only a few people and only on rare occasions. The very existence of this holy space deeply affects the religion, as it poses the paradox of separating God from humanity and yet still sitting on earth: “it was at once immanent and transcendent,” writes Karen Armstrong. The Temple made Israelite religion subject to forces of change not only from within, but from adherents of other gods who came to pray to Yahweh. This influence introduced some Canaanite mythology, such as the Lotan, or Leviathan, into Israelite religion, another sort of religious change that has impacted the Bible as we read it today.

The consecration of the Temple exhibits this change in religious tradition in a rather interesting way. The ark is brought up to Solomon with “the tent of meeting, and all the holy vessels that were in the tent” (I Kgs 8:4). The ark is then brought from the tent and set within the Devir, just as it has been carried and set within a tent a generation before (II Sam 6:17). God is moving from a tent to a temple, the very move he protested before making his covenant with David (II Sam 7:6). When the ark is taken into the Devir, though, God approves, and shows his approval by filling the Temple with his glory (I Kgs 8:11).

This transition, both in God’s view towards the Temple and in the Israelite’s view towards religion, is a major one. At the same time, the Solomonic Temple was quite ordinary in that its design was very much in the temple building tradition of the region. Even the identity of its builder fits this pattern, as most temples in the Near East were built by kings. This building of a religious sanctuary follows a conquest in ancient myths such as The Epic of Creation, and this sequence is followed by the Davidic dynasty as well, though there is a generation between the one act (the conquest of Jerusalem by David) and the next (the building of the Temple by Solomon).

Mesopotamian gods followed this same sequence in building their own sanctuaries but included two earlier stages—the creation of the universe and the parting of the waters—that were accomplished in Israelite tradition by Yahweh. In a sense, then, the entire Hebrew Bible is an expanded form of these earlier myths: Yahweh does not do everything himself, nor does David, nor does Solomon, but, working together, they cooperatively fulfill the roles an earlier god-king might have taken on alone. (This does not necessarily reduce the glory of God, because it is accepted that David and Solomon could not have completed their feats without the blessing of their God.)

There is a reason for the appropriation of this Near Eastern process of creation by the Davidic dynasty. It is clear that neither David, the fighter, nor Solomon, the builder, can claim to be an incarnation of their God in the way that Canaanite and Mesopotamian kings did, because the Israelites believed in a God that did not incarnate himself in a human form. The Davidic kings could not claim to be God, but they could claim to be in communication with God or ruling by the grace of God, and this is exactly what they did.

Looking back at the Biblical passage, we see a shift in Solomon’s role as he turns to speak to God (I Kgs 8:22). He speaks of himself as a servant of Yahweh and praises Yahweh’s majesty. “Even heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you,” he says (I Kgs 8:27). He also says that the great Temple that he has built is hence not truly a dwelling for God but instead a place for the name of God to keep holy (I Kgs 8:29). The concept of God not actually dwelling within his house seems to conflict with the idea that God moves from his life in tents into the Temple. This is likely a result of multiple authors’ works being interwoven, as well as views of God changing drastically over time. As these concepts come together within a single text, though, we are still able to conceptualize Yahweh entering the Temple, and yet not being there in his full presence.

In this context, Solomon beseeches God to listen to “the prayer that your servant prays to you today,” and admits that even his might as king is not enough to build a true house for the Lord. He asks also, though, that God hear the prayers of Israelites praying toward the Temple (I Kgs 8:30), a request that has resulted in Jews praying towards Jerusalem to this day.

Solomon asks several more specific favors of God, many relating to listening to those who pray in his name, and consecrates various areas of the temple. He then holds a festival that lasts seven days. Again, Solomon is part of a long Near Eastern tradition, this time in the length of his festival. Because Solomon was a man and not a god, he could not actually build his Temple in seven days as Baal does in the Baal Cycle, or create an entire universe in six, as Yahweh does (Gen 1), but he can party for the same length of time. Mircea Eliade emphasizes the concept that “the creation of the world is the exemplar for all constructions,” particularly those of sacred spaces, and Solomon symbolically imitates earlier constructions through his seven-day festival.

From this examination of the consecration of the Temple, a few themes have become clear to me. One is the strong connection between religion and politics in Israel, a connection that Solomon both strengthens and exploits. Another is the related, and dependent, relationship between God and Israelite nationalism, further evidenced by the importance that the central location of Jerusalem had in it its role as the Temple site. A third connection is the concept of religious change, as shown by the massive effects the construction of the Temple had on Israelite religion. A fourth is the role of Solomon as servant of Yahweh, showing his piety before the people and, through the Bible, before all believers in Judaism and Christianity.

The final theme that I see as important is the influence of Canaanite and other Near Eastern religious thought on the Bible, and on Israelite religion. It is interesting to imagine how incredibly different the modern Abrahamic religions would be without this influence, derided as pagan and impure in the Bible itself. The story of the consecration of the Temple is thus a wonderful analogue to the interplay between politics and religion, and between religion and religion, in the rest of the Bible and in the rest of the world.

Works Cited

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