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breathes a purity of religious feeling almost unknown before, and reveals, as nothing else does, the greatness of Solomon's mind, the largeness of his religious views, and the depth of his moral sentiments.
After a short invocation, the king exclaimed : 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 built! Yet have Thou respect to the prayer of Thy servant, and to his supplication, O Lord, my God, to hearken to the cry and to the prayer, which Thy servant prays before Thee to-day: that Thy eyes may be open toward this House night and day, even toward the place of which Thou hast said, My name shall be there. ... 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.
If any man trespass against his neighbour, and an oath be laid upon him to cause him to swear, and the oath come before Thy altar in this House : 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 righteous
•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 to Thee in this House: then hear 'Thou in heaven, and forgive the sin of Thy people Israel, and bring them again to the land which Thou gavest to their fathers.
• 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 : then hear Thou in heaven,
and forgive the sin of Thy servants and of Thy people Israel, that Thou teach them the good wherein they should walk, and give rain upon Thy land, which Thou hast given to Thy people for an inheritance.
• If there be in the land famine, if there be pestilence, blasting, mildew, or locusts, or if there be caterpillars; if their enemy besiege them in the land of their cities; whatsoever plague, whatsoever sickness there be; what prayer and supplication soever be made by any man or by all Thy people Israel, who shall know every man the grief of his own heart, and spread forth his hands toward this House: then hear Thou in heaven Thy dwellingplace, and forgive, and do, and give to every man according to his ways, whose heart Thou knowest (for Thou, Thou only, knowest the hearts of all the children of men), that they may fear Thee all the days they live in the land which Thou gavest to our fathers.
Moreover, concerning a stranger, that is not of Thy people Israel, but comes out of a far country for Thy name's sake (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: hear Thou in heaven Thy dwelling-place, and do according to all for which the stranger calls to Thee; 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 built, is called by Thy name.
"If Thy people go out to battle against their enemy, whithersoever Thou shalt send them, and shall pray to the Lord toward the city which Thou hast chosen, and toward the House that I have built for Thy name: then hear Thou in heaven their prayer and their supplication, and maintain their cause. If they sin against Thee (for there is no man that sins not), and Thou be angry with them, and deliver them to the enemy, so that they carry them
away captives to the land of the enemy far or near; yet if they shall bethink themselves in the land whither they were carried captives, and repent, and make supplication to Thee in the land of those who carried them captives, saying, We have sinned, and have done perversely, we have committed wickedness; and so return to Thee with all their heart, and with all their soul, in the land of their enemies, who led them away captive, and pray to Thee toward their land, which Thou gavest to their fathers, the city which Thou hast chosen, and the House which I have built for Thy name: then hear Thou their prayer and their supplication in heaven Thy dwelling-place, and maintain their cause; and forgive Thy people that have sinned against Thee, and all their transgressions, wherein they have transgressed against Thee, and give them compassion before those who carried them captive, that they may have compassion on them: for they are Thy people and Thy inheritance which Thou hast brought forth out of Egypt, from the midst of the furnace of iron; that Thy eyes may be open to the supplication of Thy servant, and to the supplication of Thy people Israel, to hearken to them in all that they call for to Thee. For Thou hast separated them from among all the people of the earth, to be Thy inheritance as Thou hast spoken through Moses Thy servant, when Thou didst bring our fathers out of Egypt, O Lord God.'
When the last words were uttered, Solomon rose from his knees, blessed the congregation a second time, and then commenced the sacrifices of dedication. Huge as was the altar, it was too small for the occasion. For it is related that 22,000 oxen and 120,000 sheep were killed on that day; therefore the middle of the Court was hallowed by the king for this special purpose. Suddenly a miraculous fire descended from heaven, and consumed the sacrifices. When the children of Israel beheld the glory
of the Lord filling the Temple, and saw the heaven-sent flame upon the altar, they prostrated themselves upon the ground and worshipped. Again the trumpets sounded, again music and song pealed forth, and the priests chanted : Praise the Lord, for He is good, for His mercy endureth for ever!'
In the solemn silence of the night following the day of dedication, Solomon was again favoured by a vision of the Lord. I have heard thy prayer and thy supplication that thou hast made before Me,' said the voice of God; 'I have hallowed this House which thou hast built, to put My name there for ever; and My eyes and My heart shall be there perpetually.' Divine help and glory would belong to the chosen people and to the Temple as long as the ruler and the subjects walked in the fear of God; but if they forsook His commandments, ruin would fall upon them and upon that Temple at which they now gazed with so much pride and delight.
Thus the Temple was instituted as the only legitimate place of public devotion in the whole kingdom. No other was on any account permitted or tolerated. Purity of faith was to be secured through unity of worship controlled by watchful priests. And what was the form of that worship? Did it merely consist of endless sacrifices of oxen and sheep, the sprinkling of blood, and clouds of incense ? Was the large and magnificent structure indeed nothing but a huge slaughter-house? Assuredly not. Sacrifices formed indeed the principal and most essential part of the ceremonial. They were the visible expression of reverence and awe, of joy and gratitude, of contrition and atonement. They were significant symbols helping to convey the worshipper's feelings and aspirations. But considering the large number of singers and musicians appointed for the service of the Temple, we may well suppose that music and song formed a pro
minent feature in the ritual of the Temple. The last Psalm alone is decisive: Praise God in His sanctuary, praise Him in the firmament of His power. . .: Praise Him with the sound of the trumpet, praise Him with the psaltery and harp. . . . Praise Him with stringed instruments and organs. And when we recollect the so-called * Psalms of degrees' composed to be sung whilst the priests were ascending and descending the steps of the altar, we naturally conclude that music was the handmaid of the highest order of religious poetry. We may therefore also infer that prayers, the more earnest and the more heartfelt because they were spontaneous and not yet fixed in unalterable formulas, were commonly offered up by the priests and the people, when the victims were presented or burnt upon the altar.
103. SOLOMON'S DECLINE AND DEATH.
[1 Kinus IX.-XI.; 2 Chron. VIII. IX.]
The magnificent Temple was not the only great work of king Solomon's reign. His own palace, the building of which lasted thirteen years, was in its kind equally grand and remarkable. It was of imposing dimensions. It rested on four lines of pillars of cedar wood which bore beams of the same material. The outer walls were hewn out of massive stones from the quarries, whilst the inner chambers were all of cedar wood. In front of the palace stood the famous · Porch of Judgment,' the whole floor of which was covered with cedar-wood. Here was the king's great ivory throne, ornamented with gold; six steps led up to it, and on each side were six golden lions crouching at the feet of the monarch. Behind this porch was the
house of the forest of Lebanon,' 100 cubits long, 50 wide, and 30 high, and built on a similar plan as the palace.