Old Testament Lesson 27 (1 Kings 3; 5–11)
THE RISE OF SOLOMON
Solomon Becomes King
● Solomon was chosen by God to be the new king of Israel (1 Chronicles 22:7–10).
● Adonijah attempted to become king of Israel first (1 Kings 1:1–10). He set up a coronation ceremony next to one of the sacred pools in the valley below the City of David.
● With encouragement from Bathsheba and Nathan, David quickly appointed Solomon king (1 Kings 1:28–40), and held a coronation at another sacred pool nearby. Thus, before Adonijah could have himself crowned king, Solomon was anointed.
● To save his life, Adonijah submitted to Solomon’s rule (1 Kings 1:41–53).
● David gave wise counsel to Solomon (1 Kings 2:1–4; 1 Chron 29:20–25).
● David also instructed him about how to deal with Joab, Barzillai and Shimei (1 Kings 2:5–11).
● Adonijah was slain for implying claim to the throne by seeking to marry one of David’s wives (1 Kings 2:13–25).
● Solomon administered justice to Abiathar, Joab, and Shlmei according to the law of Moses (1 Kings 2:26–46).
Solomon Begins His Reign
● Solomon asked for wisdom, which greatly pleased the Lord.
● The Lord granted his wish but added other blessings also:
— Length of days
— All of these were conditioned upon his keeping of the commandments.
● Solomon began his reign very humbly and was greatly blessed by the Lord (1 Kings 9:3–9).
● The Lord promised Solomon that the royal line of his father, David, would not fail if Solomon and his children remained faithful (vv. 5–7).
The Wisdom of Solomon
● In a striking demonstration of the wisdom God had granted him, Solomon judged which harlot was the mother of a baby that they both claimed as their own (1 Kings 3:16–28).
● Solomon was wiser than all other men of that time (1 Kings 4:29–34).
SOLOMON BUILDS A TEMPLE
The Sacred Location of Solomon’s Temple
● Solomon built the house of the Lord at Jerusalem on Mount Moriah (1 Kings 6:1).
● The location was significant: (2 Chron. 3:2).
— It was built to be over the threshing floor (solid rock surface) of Araunah on Mt. Moriah.
— David built an altar there to the Lord during his days as king (2 Samuel 24:18–25).
— This was the site of the City of Salem, where Melchizedek was king.
— The people of Salem were eventually translated.
— Tradition hold that there was also a temple at this site in the city of Salem.
— This is the same site where Abraham nearly sacrificed his son Isaac.
— The is the site where Christ was eventually crucified.
● He began to build in the second day of the second month, in the fourth year of his reign.
Construction of Solomon’s Temple
● Tremendous manpower was required for the temple project: (1 Kings 5:17–18)
— There was no practical accommodation for a temple on the summit of Mount Moriah as it existed in its natural state. It had a steep ascent on three sides and a peak to the north. The only flat surface was the threshing floor of Araunah and that was barely large enough to accommodate a good-sized room. Solomon’s task was therefore to build a huge platform on top of this mountain-and then erect the temple on top of that.
— All parts of the building were pre-fabricated and then brought to the temple block where they could be quietly fitted together without disturbing the sanctity of the place.
— Solomon used conscripts from Tyre as well as Israel to build the temple.
— He requisitioned 30,000 men from the various tribes to cut timber—10,000 at a time.
— He requisitioned 70,000 men to “bare burdens”—meaning to haul stones and the fill stones needed to form the temple platform.
— He requisitioned another 80,000 “hewers” quarry, square, face and place the huge stones.
— To supervise, Solomon had 3,300 foremen, engineers and superintendents.
— In addition he had to harness the entire economy of Israel to provide the food and other necessities for the workmen and meet the heavy tax levies required to pay for it.
● The architecture of the Temple of Solomon (1 Kings 6:2).
— The temple of Solomon was identical with that of the ancient Tabernacle except that it was twice as long, twice as wide and three times as high—90 ft long, 30 ft wide, 45 ft high.
— It was divided into a Holy Place 60 feet long and a Holy of Holies 30 feet long.
— As with the Tabernacle and temples in all ages, the front entrance faced east. This entrance was very ornate and impressive, with a great porch as wide as the temple and extending fifteen feet out into the courtyard. The floor of the porch was overlaid with gold.
— The high roof of the porch rested on two massive brass pillars each 27 ft high and 18 ft in circumference.” At the top of each pillar was an enlarged capital decorated with lily leaves. This was overhung with wreaths of 200 bronze pomegranates. The pillar on the left (north side) was called Boaz while the one on the right (south side) was called Jachin.” It is assumed these pillars were hollow.
— Two great doors formed the entrance to the temple. These doors were made of thick planks of olive wood, elaborately carved, with gold foil carefully molded over the carving. They swung on gold hinges.
— The Holy Place floor was overlaid with gold and the walls of carved cedar were decorated with gold and precious stones. Instead of a single candlestick with seven branches as was used in the Tabernacle, there were ten candlesticks of pure gold, five on the right and five on the left. Along the side of the north wall was the golden table of shew bread. At the far end of the Holy Place was the partition dividing this room from the Holy of Holies. To one side of this partition was the golden altar of incense.
— The partition into the Holy of Holies consisted of two doors. These, like the main doors of the temple, were made of heavy planks of olive wood, beautifully carved and overlaid with gold and hung on gold hinges and protected by a gold chain which hung across them.
— Inside the Holy of Holies there were two magnificent cherubim, each 15 ft tall with 7½ ft wings spread out in each direction—placed so that their inside wings touched each other over the spot reserved for the Ark and their outside wings touched the north and south walls. Both of these huge figures were made of olive wood and were overlaid with gold.
— The walls of the Holy of Holies were elaborately carved and then the entire interior was gold-plated, including the floor.
— In the center of the Holy of Holies was the outcropping of rock which was once the threshing floor of Araunah and on which the fire of the Lord had consumed David’s sacrifice. The Ark of the Covenant would rest there beneath the over-shadowing wings of the Cherubim.
● Baptismal fonts in latter-day temples are frequently patterned after Solomon’s “sea,” which rested on the backs of twelve oxen (1 Kings 7:23–26).
— In conjunction with this huge reservoir of water or brazen sea there were ten large brass basins on wheels which could be moved around the courtyard and used for washing and cleansing in connection with the multitude of sacrifices. So the brazen sea was used for something else— probably baptisms, which were definitely practiced in ancient Israel.
The Mysterious Upper Floor of Solomon’s Temple
● 2 Chronicles 3:9 makes reference to “upper chambers” in Solomon’s temple. Nowhere else is there a description of this part of the temple, but it must have been a most important and sacred part because it says. “And he [Solomon] overlaid the upper chambers with gold.”
— Josephus said, “There was another building erected over it [that is, over the first floor], equal to it in its measures. . . . He also built around the temple thirty small rooms . . . Above these were other rooms, and others above them . . . so that these reached to a height equal to the lower part of the house: for the upper part had no buildings about it. . . . The king also had a fine contrivance for an ascent to the upper room over the temple, and that was by steps in the thickness of its walls; for it [the upper house] had no large door on the east end, as the lower house had, but the entrances were by the sides, through very small doors.”1
— Solomon’s temple which the Bible describes as 45 feet in height, was not one story, but two.
— Annex rooms built on the outside of the temple, only came half-way up the side of the temple.
— The entrance to the Upper House was not through the regular entrance to the temple but through doors on the sides, accessed by stairways built into the thickness of the walls.
● The purpose of Solomon’s temple included the endowment, which was not performed publicly (like other ordinances in the courtyard and lower house) (D&C 124:37–39).
● A veil was built for Solomon’s temple (2 Chronicles 3:14). Where was it used?.
— In the lower house, elaborately carved doors separated the Holy Place and Holy of Holies.
— Some authorities speculate it was placed over the opening of the two doors whenever they were left ajar, but there is nothing in the scriptures to indicate this.
— Josephus says the dimensions of the second floor were identical with the first—one room 60 ft long (comparable to the Holy Place on the first floor), and a room 30 ft long (comparable to the Holy of Holies on the first floor).
— If the upper chambers of Solomon’s temple were used for the higher ordinances then its proper place would be between the terrestrial and celestial rooms as in modern temples.
Solomon Dedicates the Completed Temple
● During the travail of completing the temple, the Lord gave Solomon a revelation of encouragement (1 Kings 6:11–13).
● The ark of the covenant, a tangible reminder of God’s revelations and blessings, was placed in the innermost part of the temple, the “most holy place (1 Kings 6:16, 19).”
● After seven years of construction, the temple was ready for dedication (1 Kings 8:1–4).
● The ark of the covenant was ceremoniously placed in the Holy of Holies (1 Kings 8:5–11).
● Solomon dedicated the temple unto the Lord (1 Kings 8:22–54). Note that the king is acting as a prophet and priest here.
— 1 Kings 8:23–30 contains a portion of his dedicatory prayer.
● After concluding his prayer, Solomon blessed and admonished his people (1 Kings 8:56–61).
● The Lord then appeared to accept the temple and blesses him (1 Kings 9:1–9).
SOLOMON REIGNS IN SPLENDOR
Solomon’s Great Wealth
Solomon Reigned in Security and Peace
● He entered into political marriages to forge alliances with heathen nations (1 Kings 3:1).
● He enjoyed great peace during his reign (1 Kings 4:21, 24–25).
● He built massive fortifications and armies (1 Kings 4:21, 24–25).
● He also reorganized his own government to solidify control (1 Kings 4:1–28).
● He paid his huge debts to Hiram of Tyre with 20 cities in Galilee (1 Kings 9:10–14). Hiram called this land “Cabul,” which means “displeasing” or “dirty” (v. 13).
● He built a navy and fortified his kingdom (1 Kings 9:15–24).
● The surviving people of Canaan (Amorites, Hittites, Jebusites, etc) were made slaves, but the Israelites were Solomon’s army (vv. 21–22).
● Solomon’s wealth and wisdom were vast—and widely known (1 Kings 10:11–29).
● The queen of Sheba was one of the foreign dignitaries that visited Solomon (1 Kings 10:1–10, 23–24).
The Lord’s Warnings about Kings Are Fulfilled
● Many years before, Moses gave instructions concerning kings (Deuteronomy 17:15–20).
● The prophet Samuel’s prophesied concerning the difficulties that would arise if kings were established in Israel (1 Samuel 8:7–18). All of these prophesies were fulfilled:
— Israel’s sons were called to be men of war (1 Kings 9:22).
— Many horses and chariots were gathered for war (1 Kings 10:26).
— The Israelites had to raise crops for Solomon and his army (1 Kings 4:21–28).
— Solomon gave cities and lands to those who did things for him (1 Kings 9:11).
— Food and supplies for officers & servants came from the people (1 Kings 4:22–23, 26–28).
Solomon Displeases the Lord
● He formed a standing army and used slaves and Israelites for forced labor to establish his own glory (1 Kings 5:13–18). He built splendid cities, mistaking his own greed for national pride. His policies eventually left his whole nation in debt (1 Kings 9:20–23).
● He married outside the covenant, and his wives turned his heart to idolatry (1 Kings 11:1–8). He had 700 wives and 300 concubines (vv. 3–6).
● Ahijah prophesied the division of Israel into two kingdoms (1 Kings 11:9–13).
● Adversaries were stirred up against Solomon (1 Kings 11:14–26).
● Jeroboam, an Ephrathite, was singled out by God (through the prophet Ahijah) to rule the northern ten tribes (1 Kings 11:26–31).
● Reference is made here to the Book of the Acts of Solomon, which we do not have at the present time (1 Kings 11:41).
1. Antiquities of the Jews, Book 8. chapter 3:2.