1 Kings 6 Commentary

Overall plan of the temple (6:1-13)

The simplest way to describe Solomon’s temple is as a rectangular stone building with a porch added to the front, and three storeys of storerooms added to the sides and rear. The side and rear walls of the main building were reduced in thickness by one cubit (about forty-four centimetres, or eighteen inches)


for the middle storey, and by a further cubit for the top storey. This created ‘steps’ on which the timber beams rested to form the floors for the middle and upper storeys (6:1-6).

All stones used in the building were cut and dressed at the quarry, so that they would be as easy to handle as possible. No stoneworking tools were used at the temple site (7-10). God gave Solomon the timely reminder that the temple would be a means of

blessing to him and his people only if he was obedient to God (11-13).

Details of the temple’s interior (6:14-38)

Inside the temple the stonework was covered with lavishly carved wood panelling overlaid with beaten gold (14-15; see v. 22). A partition divided the main temple into two rooms. The larger front room was called the nave or Holy Place; the smaller rear room was called the inner sanctuary or Most Holy Place (16-18).

The Most Holy Place contained the ark of the covenant, symbol of God’s presence (19). This room had a lower ceiling than the rest of the building (20; cf. v. 2) and, also unlike the rest of the building, was without windows (cf. 6:4; 8:12). Its entrance was closed by a curtain, a pair of doors and gold chains hung across the doorway (21-22; see v. 31; 2 Chron 3:14). Inside the room were two huge winged creatures, or cherubim, which side by side stretched across the width of the room. They were probably symbolic guardians of the ark (23-28). The doors to the Most Holy Place were of carved wood overlaid with gold, similar to the temple walls (29-32).

In the front room were the altar of incense, the table of ‘presence bread’ and ten lampstands, five on each of the two side walls (see 7:48-49). Folding doors led from the entrance porch to this room (33- 35). A walled courtyard surrounded the whole building (36). The total construction time for the temple was seven years (37-38).

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