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while a large number of men were appointed to supply the necessary food. The vast army was commanded by the vigilant Benaiah. Zadok and Abiathar were the chief priests of the Sanctuary. But this unsurpassed pomp of the court was not burdensome or impoverishing to the land; for, says the Bible, .Judah and Israel were numerous as the sand which is by the sea in multitude, eating and drinking and making merry. . . . And Judah and Israel dwelt safely, every man under his vine and under his fig-tree, from Dan to Beersheba, all the days of Solomon.'
101. THE BUILDING OF THE TEMPLE.
[1 Kings V.-VII.; 2 Chron. II.-V.]
Splendid as were the life and habits of the young monarch, all his ideas of magnificence and grandeur were to be concentrated in the building of the Temple, the crowning act of his reign. The man of peace was permitted to erect a House for the Lord; a place for permanent and well-established worship. The site was chosen on the top of Mount Moriah, there where Abraham had once proved his readiness to offer up his dearly beloved son in obedience to God's command, and where more recently the angel of the Lord had stayed the pestilence and appeared to David on the threshingfloor of Araunah.
In the four hundred and eightieth year after the exodus from Egypt, in the fourth year of king Solomon's reign, the great work was begun. The king made a treaty of alliance with Hiram king of Tyre, who had entertained a sincere friendship for David, and who now extended it to his son. He rejoiced sincerely when he was informed of Solomon's project. He readily agreed to supply him with cedar-trees felled on Mount Lebanon, and to float them down along the seashore to Joppa, the
port nearest to Jerusalem. He was, in return, annually to receive from Solomon a considerable quantity of corn and oil. Tyrian and Hebrew workmen were jointly to be employed in large numbers, all of them to be paid by the Hebrew king. Cedars and cypresses were cut down in abundance. Stone and marble quarries freely yielded their treasures. Ships set sail eastward and westward, to bring back the choicest materials for the adornment of the House of God.
For seven years the work was unweariedly pursued. Energy went hand in hand with genius and skill. The Temple rose as if by magic. The sound of no hammer or any other iron tool was heard on the spot. The stones were cut to the required shape in their quarries, and then brought up to Morial, there to be fitted together with nice precision. The Hebrew historian dwells with delight upon the description of this splendid undertaking which was so dear to the heart of every Israelite. He gives all the details with minute accuracy. Let it suffice to observe that the Temple of Solomon was built after the model of the old Tabernacle, only of far more extensive proportions; it was sixty cubits long, twenty broad, and thirty high; and of more durable and more costly materials. The large outer Court, the first chamber or the Holy Place, and the Holy of Holies, were all in a certain manner repetitions of the first design: for the Court contained the brazen altar of burnt-offerings and the huge brazen laver, and was a place of assemblage for the people; the Holy was adorned with the golden altar of burnt-incense, the candelabra, and the shew-bread table, and was reserved for the priests who officiated for the whole congregation ; and the Holy of Holies enclosed the Ark of the Covenant with the Mercy-Seat and the mysterious Cherubim, and none was permitted to enter into it except the High-priest alone. All the parts of the house, the walls, the floor,
and the ceiling, were first covered with beams and boards of cedar, which were then overlaid with pure gold. The floor was spread over with the same precious metal. The walls all around, both from without and from within, were ornamented with carved figures of Cherubim and palmtrees and opening flowers. Round about the Temple ran a line of chambers for the use of the numerous priests, who lived or ministered within the sacred precincts. In the large outer Court the animal sacrifices were slaughtered and offered. Here the droves of sheep and the herds of oxen were led in and fastened to rings in massive stone walls. On each side of the Court were the kitchens where the sacrificial meat was prepared for the priests. Here were busily engaged the countless host of menials who took part in the duties of the Temple. The laver of brass, or the molten sea,' as it was called, which the priests used for their ablutions, rested upon twelve brazen bulls, and was capable of holding no less than two thousand measures of water. It was surrounded by ten smaller lavers of brass placed on wheels, which were richly ornamented by the skilful hand of Hiram, a Tyrian artist, the son of a Hebrew mother from the tribe of Naphtali. In front of the altar was a raised scaffold of brass, where king Solomon stood or sat when he attended the public sacrifices.
Behind the altar, the Court led into a beautiful porch, richly ornamented and decorated according to ingenious designs of Hiram. It was supported by a row of pillars, and was adorned with two gigantic columns of brass, called Jachin and Boaz, which rested upon golden pedestals, and were by Hiram carved, wreathed, and adorned with the utmost skill and delicacy. The porch was the entrance to the Holy. Folding-doors of olive-wood and a partition made by golden chains separated the Holy from the Holy of Holies. As in the Tabernacle, this most sacred and most important part of the Sanctuary was in
absolute darkness. All lavers, shovels, and basins used in the service of the Court were of bright brass, and they were made in such vast numbers that king Solomon left them unweighed; while the bowls, snuffers, basins, and spoons used in the Holy were, like the altar, the table, and the candelabra, of pure gold.
102. DEDICATION OF THE TEMPLE.
[1 KINGS VIII. ; 2 Chron. VI. VII.]
The seventh month in the year, when the Feast of Tabernacles was solemnised, a season of rejoicing, hallowed by religious observances, was the time selected for the dedication of the Temple. As usual, the inhabitants of Palestine came flocking in their long caravans to Jerusalem, the holy city, and for miles round about its walls the tents of the strangers were pitched. But on this occasion the pilgrims were attracted by an event of singular solemnity and interest. We can well fancy their impatient anxiety to witness at last the completion of the Lord's House, their eagerness to behold its wonders, and their zeal to be present when the Ark was deposited in its new and permanent resting-place. In that eventful year the Feast of Tabernacles was to last fourteen days, or twice the usual period.
Early on the morning of the great day, the elders of Israel, the heads of the tribes, the priests, and the Levites, assembled at the holy hill of Gibeon. From thence they took the Tabernacle of the desert, the holy vessels and implements, with the Ark itself. Thus laden, they set out on their way to the gates of Jerusalem. They were met during their progress by the king in his splendid robes, and by an immense congregation. Countless offerings preceded the Ark, and a sacrifice was presented at
very frequent intervals. At last the procession arrived at the outer Court of the Temple. How the vast concourse of people must have poured in to gaze in astonishment at the altar, and the lavers, and the brass columns ! The Ark contained the two stone tablets with the Ten Commandments, and nothing else. It was carried by the priests through the Court and the porch into the Holy, where they must have been startled by the blaze of gold which burst upon their eyes. From that inner chamber they passed into the dark and mysterious Holy of Holies. There, upon the unhewn rock, they placed the Ark, overshadowed by the golden wings of the Cherubim.
Meanwhile the great outer Court was thronged with eager worshippers. Round the huge altar were grouped the priests and Levites, and the musicians arrayed in their white garments, bearing in their hands cymbals and psalteries and harps. A hundred and twenty trumpeters were ready to sound their silver instruments. In front of the altar stood the king in all his youthful manliness and beauty, bearing the insignia of his rank. With one accord, the musicians broke forth into a magnificent strain of music, and for the first time the hymn of praise was heard in the Temple. At that solemn moment, in the presence of the king, the priests and the people, the glory of the Lord filled the sacred edifice; and so brilliant was the spectacle that the priests could not minister on account of the dazzling light.
Then spoke the king : The Lord said that He would dwell in darkness; I have surely built Thee a House to dwell in, a settled place for Thee to abide in for ever.'
He turned towards the people and blessed them. Then, kneeling in the presence of the congregation, he spread forth his hands and offered up a beautiful and impressive prayer. It is one of the finest forms of supplication that have been preserved to us; for it