Solomon’s House

Solomon’s House September 18, 2004

Walsh suggests a chiastic outline for 1 Kings 7:1-12:

A. Solomon builds the house
B. House of the forest of Lebanon (rows and beams of cedar)
C. Portico of pillars
D. Portico of judgment
C. House for Solomon and Pharaoh?s daughter
B. Stone work (rows and beams)
A. Back to the temple

This literary structure highlights several things about the complex of buildings. First, the fact that there are seven sections suggests possible links with the days of creation:

Creation Account House of Solomon
Light/darkness Solomon builds/finishes
Firmament House of Cedar of Lebanon
Sea/land: plants Portico of pillars (of cedar trees)
Sun, moon stars: rulers Portico of judgment
Birds and swarming things Solomon?s house and Pharaoh?s daughter
Man and land animals Triple structure of the houses of Solomon
Sabbath Return to the temple

The connections with Day 2 seem appropriate, particularly with the writer?s description of the ?planks?Ethat are above the beams (v. 3), and the windows that are arranged in rows (vv. 4-5). There is both a ?firmament?Eof plants, and openings through the ?firmament?Eto let light into the house. The links between Day 3 and the building of the hall of ?standing-pillars?Ealso seems appropriate. This might also help to explain the symbolism of the ?canopy?Ementioned at the end of verse 6. The fourth-day association with enthronement and rule is particularly strong, and the planting of the garden in Day 6 on a mountain.

To fill out that last point: Verses 9-12, which complete the account of the building of Solomon?s house describe the foundation and other stones that were used in the building. The writer adopts something of an odd procedure here, moving from a description of the buildings, perhaps even focusing on the topmost portions, and finishing by talking about the foundation stones. Verses 10-11 describe a three-tiered construction: Foundation stones of 8-10 cubits (perhaps meaning 8-10 cubits in circumference), then more costly stones of unrecorded size, and finally the cedar work above the stones. The three-tiered arrangement links up with various structures in the Hebrew Bible. The ark was a three-story structure, and the tabernacle and temple, though not literally ?three-storied,?Ewere sectioned into three main areas that were designed architecturally to symbolize an ascent from one story to the next. These structures, further, were architectural recapitulations of the three-storied structure of the universe itself. The universe, like the houses of Solomon, rests on ?foundations?Eso that in making his house to dwell in Solomon is recapitulating the work of his father Yahweh in making a world in which to dwell.

This also helps us to situate the cedar portions of the buildings in a cosmological/architectural scheme. If foundation stones represent the roots of the earth, and the upper stones represent the earth itself, then the cedar represents the heavenly realm. Solomon is exalted and enthroned in the ?third level?Eof his architectural universe. The third, heavenly level, is also wood, which connotes a garden setting. Solomon sits in his ?cedar house?Eamong the ?forest of Lebanon,?Eon top of a ?mountain?Eof foundation stones and cut stones. The ?standing pillars?Ethat are part of the house of Solomon are related to those who ?stand to serve?Ebefore Yahweh and before His king.

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