Solomon had an altar made of bronze. Depending on the size of the cubit in 2 Chronicles 4:1, it could have been as big as 30 ft. long, 30 ft. wide, and 15 ft. high! To this, one commentator we read concerning this chapter, said: “What was wrong with this? Ten cubits was a height of something like fifteen feet, which required that steps would have to be used by the priests in making sacrifices upon it; and God had specifically commanded Israel, “Neither shalt thou go up by steps unto my altar'” (Exodus 20:26).
This commentator also said that there were “also countless concessions to paganism, as seen in the images of the bulls (politely called oxen here) placed under the layer. The bulls, calves, oxen, whatever they were called, were the usual images under which the old Canaanite fertility god Baal was worshiped. Even the Jewish historian Josephus condemned Solomon for what he did in this (Antiquities of the Jews p. 255).”
Could it be that Solomon had sinned so greatly in furnishing the Temple? Let us take the commandment not to go up steps to the altar. If you read Exodus 20:26, it actually says “And you shall not go up by steps to my altar, that your nakedness be not exposed on it.’” This problem was alleviated, however, in Exodus 28:42, when God told Moses “You shall make for them linen undergarments to cover their naked flesh. They shall reach from the hips to the thighs; and they shall be on Aaron and on his sons when they go into the tent of meeting or when they come near the altar…”
As for the oxen, the Decalogue (Ten Commandments) forbade making a graven image – but as an object of worship. These twelve oxen that held up the “sea” were obviously representative of the twelve tribes. They were in no way part of the act of worship. Also, we know that later, the “glory of the Lord” filled the Temple after the dedication. So obviously, God approved of the construction and the furnishings.
The “sea” in verse 10 was a large circular water tank used by priests for ceremonial cleansing, just like the bronze basin of Exodus 30:18-21. In chapter 5, the ark of the covenant was brought into the “Most Holy Place” under the wings of the cherubim. Verse 10 says that there was nothing inside the ark except the two tablets (it had once contained Aaron’s rod and a jar of manna).
(This year’s reading plan for Luke, Acts, and 1 and 2 Chronicles averages just 15 verses per day – 5 days per week!)
Schedule for this week
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from Luke here
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from 2 Chronicles here
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers
Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog. All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility. When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.