Notes on the Bible, by Albert Barnes, , at sacred-texts.com
3 Kings (1 Kings) 8:1
There seems to be a contrast here between the more popular proceedings of David Sa2 6:1, and the statelier system of his son, who merely summons the chief men as representatives of the nation. The rest of the people "assembled themselves" Kg1 8:2, and were mere spectators of the solemnity.
3 Kings (1 Kings) 8:2
The feast in the month Ethanim - i. e. the Feast of Tabernacles, or the Feast of Ingathering, the commemoration of the dwelling in booths at the time of the Exodus (margin reference), and the festival of thanksgiving on account of the completion of harvest Exo 23:16; Lev 23:39; Deu 16:13. It was one of the three on which the people were required to "appear before the Lord."
3 Kings (1 Kings) 8:3
In Ch2 5:4, ""the Levites" took up the ark;" and by the Law the ark was the special charge of the Kohathites Num 3:31; Num 4:15. But all priests were Levites Jos 3:3, though all Levites were not priests. And as Joshua had done Jos 3:6; Jos 6:6, so Solomon called upon the priests to bear the holy structure, allowing to mere Levites only the inferior honor of helping to transport the tabernacle and the vessels of the sanctuary.
3 Kings (1 Kings) 8:4
And the tabernacle of the congregation - Not the tented structure erected for the ark on Mount Zion Sa2 6:17 by David, but the original tabernacle made by Moses, which had hitherto remained at Gibeon (margin reference). The tabernacle and its holy vessels were probably placed in the treasury.
3 Kings (1 Kings) 8:8
It was forbidden to withdraw the staves wholly from the rings (margin reference); but they appear to have been now drawn forward in such a way that their ends or heads could be seen from the holy place, or great chamber of the temple, though without their being visible from the porch or vestibule. Either the doorway into the holy of holies was not exactly opposite the ark, but a little on one side; or, though that doorway was in the middle, opposite the ark, the doorway from the porch into the main chamber was not opposite to it. In Assyrian temples the arrangement of the outer door, the inner door, and the sanctuary, seems to have been designedly such that a mere passer-by on the outside should not obtain even a glimpse of the shrine. It is suggested that the withdrawal of the staves was intended as a sign that the ark had reached "the place of its rest," and was not to be borne about anymore.
There they are unto this day - This is a quotation from an author who lived while the temple was still standing. See also Kg1 9:21.
3 Kings (1 Kings) 8:9
Comparing this statement with Heb 9:4, it would seem that Solomon, now that the sacred chest had reached its final resting-place, and stood in a large chamber surrounded by tables Ch2 4:8, removed the pot of manna and the rod from the interior, and set them elsewhere in the holy of holies.
3 Kings (1 Kings) 8:10
The cloud - the visible symbol of the divine presence - the Shechinah of the Targums - which halt been promised before the ark was begun Exo 29:43, and had filled the tabernacle as soon as it was completed Exo 40:34, and which had probably been seen from time to time during the long interval when we have no express mention of it, now once more appeared in full magnificence, and took, as it were, possession of the building which Solomon was dedicating. The presence of God in the temple henceforth was thus assured to the Jews, and His approval of all that Solomon had done was signified.
3 Kings (1 Kings) 8:11
As in the case of Moses Exo 40:35, so now the glory of the Lord, the manifestation of the divine presence, which the cloud usually veiled, shone forth from it with such brilliancy, that mortal man could not bear the sight.
3 Kings (1 Kings) 8:12
Rather, "The Lord spake of dwelling in the thick darkness" (margin reference). Solomon sees in the cloud the visible symbol of God's presence, and accepts the token as a proof that He has taken possession of the house built for Him, and will thenceforth dwell there Kg1 8:13.
3 Kings (1 Kings) 8:14
Solomon had spoken the preceding words, addressed to God, with his face directed to the holy of holies. He now turned around and looked outward toward the people. The people "stood" to hear him the attitude of respect and attention. This first blessing seems to have been without speech - an inward prayer accompanied by the ordinary gesture of blessing.
3 Kings (1 Kings) 8:15
The exact words of 2 Sam. 7 are not reproduced; only their general sense is given. In Kg1 8:18, what was merely tacitly implied was regarded as actually "said."
3 Kings (1 Kings) 8:16
The marginal reference completes the sense of this verse here. The passage is in accordance with archaic modes of speech, and is probably the more verbally accurate of the two.
3 Kings (1 Kings) 8:22
The margin reference shows that the king was so placed as to be seen by all present, and that, before beginning his prayer, he knelt down upon his knees (compare Kg1 8:54).
3 Kings (1 Kings) 8:23
Compare Deu 7:9.
3 Kings (1 Kings) 8:25
Solomon's prayer is, perhaps, generally for the fulfillment of all the promises made to David in connection with the building of the temple. But there seems to be special allusion in this verse to the promise recorded in Psa 132:14.
3 Kings (1 Kings) 8:27
heaven of heavens - Compare Deu 10:14; Psa 148:4. It seems to mean the heaven in its most extended compass. Solomon combines with his belief in Yahweh's special presence in the temple, the strongest conviction that He is no local or finite deity, but is ever present everywhere. Compare Psa 139:7-10.
3 Kings (1 Kings) 8:29
The choice of Jerusalem as the place seems to have been made by special revelation to David. See Psa 78:68; Psa 132:13; and compare Ch1 22:1.
Toward this place - Better (here and in Kg1 8:30) than the marginal "in." Wherever they were, the Jews always worshipped toward the temple. (See margin reference.)
3 Kings (1 Kings) 8:30
And when thou hearest, forgive - literally, "both hear and forgive" - i. e., "hear the prayer, and forgive the sin" which alone causes God to chasten men or to withhold from them His choicest blessings.
3 Kings (1 Kings) 8:31
The oath come before ... - "The oath" is equivalent to "the man who swears the oath." A slight alteration in the present Hebrew text gives the sense "and he (the accused) go and swear before thine altar," etc. The threats and the promises, the punishments and calamities of Kg1 8:31-38 were distinctly named in the Law. See the margin reference.
3 Kings (1 Kings) 8:36
Teach them ... - Rather, "when thou art teaching them (by thy chastisement) the good way that they should walk in," i. e. when thou art still teaching, not taking vengeance.
3 Kings (1 Kings) 8:37
In the land of their cities - literally, "in the land of their gates." Hence, the marginal translation "jurisdiction," because judgments were pronounced in the town gates Deu 16:18. Another reading gives "in one of their cities."
3 Kings (1 Kings) 8:38
Know every man the plague of his own heart - i. e. perceive one's sinfulness, or recognize one's sufferings as divine chastisements, and sin as their cause.
3 Kings (1 Kings) 8:41
Nothing is more remarkable in the Mosaic Law than its liberality with regard to strangers, both in general Exo 22:21; Lev 25:35; Deu 10:19 and in religious matters Num 15:14-16; Deu 31:12. It is quite in the spirit of these enactments that Solomon, having first prayed to God on behalf of his fellow-countrymen, should next go on to intercede for the strangers, and to ask for their prayers the same acceptance which he had previously begged for the prayers of faithful Israelites.
For thy name's sake - i. e. "to visit the place where Thou hast set Thy name" (Compare Deu 12:5, Deu 12:11, etc.).
3 Kings (1 Kings) 8:42
Great name - A somewhat rare expression. It does not occur at all in the Pentateuch; though "mighty hand" and the "stretched out arm" are so frequent Exo 6:6; Exo 13:9; Deu 9:29 : only once in Joshua Jos 7:9; and twice in the Psalms Psa 76:1; Psa 99:3. About the time of the captivity the use of the phrase became more common Eze 36:23; Jer 10:6; Jer 44:26.
3 Kings (1 Kings) 8:43
That all people of the earth may know thy name, to fear thee - Solomon prays that the result of Yahweh's hearing the prayers of pagans addressed toward the temple may be the general conversion of the world to the worship of Him. Compare Psa 96:1-13; Psa 98:1-9.
This house ... - literally, as in the margin. In Scripture, when God's Name is said to be "called upon" persons or things, it seems to be meant that God is really present in them, upholding them and sanctifying them. This passage therefore means, that the pagan, when their prayers, directed toward the temple, are granted, will have a full assurance that God is present in the building in some very special way.
3 Kings (1 Kings) 8:47
Bethink themselves - literally, as in the margin - i. e. "reflect," "consider seriously." Compare Deu 30:1.
Sinned, done perversely, committed wickedness - The words here used seem to have become the standard form of expressing contrition when the time of the captivity arrived and the Israelites were forcibly removed to Babylon (compare the margin reference). The three expressions are thought to form a climax, rising from negative to positive guilt, and from mere wrongful acts to depravation of the moral character.
3 Kings (1 Kings) 8:50
Compassion ... - Not merely such compassion as Evil-Merodach showed toward Jehoiachin Kg2 25:27-30; Jer 52:31-34, but such as Cyrus and Artaxerxes showed in allowing the captive Jews to return to their own land Ezr 1:3; Neh 2:6.
3 Kings (1 Kings) 8:51
The furnace of iron - Egypt is so called as a place of severe trial and affliction.
3 Kings (1 Kings) 8:54
If the prayer of Solomon be, as it has all the appearance of being, a genuine document of the time, preserved in the archives to which the authors of both Kings and Chronicles had access, all theories of the late origin of Deuteronomy must be regarded as baseless. While references are not infrequent to other portions of the Pentateuch, the language of the prayer is mainly modelled upon Deuteronomy, the promises and threats contained in which are continually before the mind of the writer. (See the margin reference).
3 Kings (1 Kings) 8:58
Incline our hearts - This is a doctrine which first appears in Scripture in the Davidical Psalms (see the margin reference and Psa 141:4). Solomon in this prayer seems to be thoroughly penetrated with his father's spirit.
3 Kings (1 Kings) 8:61
As at this day - i. e. "as ye are now doing, in coming with pious intentions to this festival."
3 Kings (1 Kings) 8:63
These numbers have been thought incredible, but they are not impossible. At least 100, 000, or 120, 000 men Kg1 8:65 were assembled; and as they all offered sacrifice with the king Kg1 8:62, the number of victims must have been enormous. Part of the flesh of so many victims would be eaten; but much of the meat may have been privately burned Lev 19:6, the object of the sacrifice being the glory of God, and not the convenience of the people. Profusion was a usual feature of the sacrifices of antiquity.
3 Kings (1 Kings) 8:64
The middle of the court - Or, "the whole area of the court " - all the "mid" space within the enclosing walls, which thus became one huge altar, on any part of which victims might be offered at one and the same time.
3 Kings (1 Kings) 8:65
A feast necessarily accompanied such a sacrifice as Solomon was holding. Compare Lev 19:5. On the present occasion there was a double festival - first, the Feast of the Dedication, from the 8th to the 15th of the month Ethanim (or Tisri), and then the Feast of tabernacles, from the 15th to the 22nd Kg1 8:2. On the day after this, "the eighth day," counting from the commencement of the second seven, and the twenty-third day of the month (margin reference "m"), Solomon dismissed the people to their homes.
The entering in of Hamath - Compare Num 13:21, note andmargin reference. The phrase marks the extreme northern boundary of the holy land.
The river of Egypt - The Wady-el-Arish, the only large water-course on this coast (margin reference).
3 Kings (1 Kings) 8:66
Their tents - i. e. "their homes." The word "tents" was used for "houses" from an old habit of speech, which had come down from the time when the Israelites were a nomadic nation.