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2 Chronicles 3


(LXX versing)
The Temple Construction in Jerusalem Solomon Builds the Temple Details of the Building Construction of the Temple Begins
Solomon Builds the Temple
3:1-2 3:1-7 3:1-7 3:1-9 3:1-7
Dimensions and Materials of the Temple
3:8-9 3:8-14 3:8-9 3:8-13
3:10-14 3:10-14 3:10-14
The Two Bronze Columns 3:14
3:15-17 3:15-17 3:15-17 3:15-17 3:15-17

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Bible Interpretation Seminar")


This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects. Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

  1. First paragraph
  2. Second paragraph
  3. Etc.


1Then Solomon began to build the house of the Lord in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, where the Lord had appeared to his father David, at the place that David had prepared on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite. 2He began to build on the second day in the second month of the fourth year of his reign.

3:1 Josephus, Antiq. 8.3.1-3 tells of this building project.

"Mount Moriah" This was one of the seven hills of Jerusalem. It was the site of the offering of Isaac (cf. Gen. 32:2,14).


"where the Lord appeared to his father David" This event is recorded in 1 Chronicles 18.

David is connected to the temple in several ways.

  1. He wanted to build the temple ‒ 2 Samuel 7.
  2. He designed the overall plan.
  3. He gathered the materials (using Hiram)
  4. He was directed by YHWH where to build it.

"Ornan the Jebusite" In 2 Sam. 24:16 he is called "Araunah the Jebusite." However, in 1 Chr. 21:15,18-27,28, he goes by "Ornan" (BDB 75).

3:2 The proposed date would be the spring of 966 b.c. (cf. 1 Kgs. 6:1).


3Now these are the foundations which Solomon laid for building the house of God. The length in cubits, according to the old standard was sixty cubits, and the width twenty cubits. 4The porch which was in front of the house was as long as the width of the house, twenty cubits, and the height 120; and inside he overlaid it with pure gold. 5He overlaid the main room with cypress wood and overlaid it with fine gold, and ornamented it with palm trees and chains. 6Further, he adorned the house with precious stones; and the gold was gold from Parvaim. 7He also overlaid the house with gold—the beams, the thresholds and its walls and its doors; and he carved cherubim on the walls.

3:3 "cubits" The description of the temple here is a summary of 1 Kings 6-7. Much needed information

  1. has been left out
  2. is in "technical" terms
  3. purposeful hyperbole that the ancient versions did not understand.

For a good brief discussion see Roland deVaux, Ancient Israel, pp. 313-321.


NASB, JPSOA, Peshitta  "the porch"
NKJV, NRSV, REB  "the vestibule"
TEV  "entrance room"
NJB  "the portico"
LXX  "an ailam"

The "porch" (BDB 17) was an added feature of Solomon's temple (cf. 1 Kg. 6:3; 7:6,12,19,21; Ezek. 8:16). It was part of David's plan (cf. 1 Chr. 28:11). It was also part of Ezekiel's new temple (cf. Ezek. 40:7,8,48,49; 41:25,26).

NASB, NKJV, NRSV, NJB, JPSOA, LXX  "the height 120"
TEV  "180 feet high"
REB, Peshitta, NIV  "20"

The UBS Text Project gives "120" a "B" rating (i.e., some doubt). However, it seems a more realistic measurement is found in 1 Kgs. 6:3, where the porch is measured as 20 cubits by 10 cubits, but the height is not mentioned. The JPSOA diagram, p. 1769, says it was "three stories" tall. However, the "bronze pillars" are only 27' (i.e., 18 cubits) tall (cf. 1 Kgs. 7:15; 2 Kgs. 25:17; Jer. 52:21).

The MT has the pillars as "thirty five cubits" high (cf. 2 Chr. 3:15), which is 52.5 feet. The NET Bible, p. 671, #9, suggests that a scribe misread "cubit" as "hundred."

"he overlaid it with pure gold" The NASB Study Bible, p. 592, suggests that the VERB "overlaid" (BDB 860, KB 1045, Piel IMPERFECT with waw, cf. 2 Chr. 3:6,10) may denote "inlaid," referring to the items of 3:5. A different VERB (BDB 341, KB 339, Piel IMPERFECT with waw) is used in 2 Chr. 3:5,7,8,9.

In the tabernacle, gold was limited to the "holy of holies," while silver was used for the "holy place" and bronze for the laver and altar of sacrifice. But in Solomon's temple gold was used in more places.

3:5 "palm trees and chains" The decorations of the temple employed

  1. palm trees (cf. 1 Kgs. 6:29,32; 7:36; Ezek. 40:16)
  2. chains, 2 Chr. 3:5,16 (cf. 1 Kgs. 7:17)
  3. pomegranates, 2 Chr. 3:16 (cf. 1 Kgs. 7:42)
  4. cherubim
    1. in the wall hangings (1 Kgs. 7:27-39)
    2. carved into wood, 2 Chr. 3:7; 1 Kgs. 6:29,35
    3. two large ones in the holy of holies covering the ark, 2 Chr. 3:10-14; 1 Kgs. 6:23-28
    4. on the lid of the ark, facing each other, Exod. 25:18-20; Num. 7:89
  5. although not mentioned in this context, 1 Kgs. 6:29,32 also mentions "open flowers," which may refer to the menorah's seven flower-shaped tops


3:6 "he adorned the house with precious stones" There are texts that tell us

  1. what kind of stones (1 Chr. 29:2)
  2. where they were placed (1 Kgs. 5:17; 7:9,10,11)

Some have suggested "inlaid floors." Like the gold, these gems were a way to show the value, worth, and glory of YHWH's temple.

NASB, NKJV, NRSV, TEV, NJB, JPSOA, REB, Targums  "Parvaim"
LXX  "Pharouaim"
Peshitta, Vulgate  "fine gold"

Obviously modern translations and the LXX think it is a place name.

  1. northeastern Arabia (JPSOA)
  2. southeast Arabia (NASB Study Bible)
  3. Yemen
  4. mythological (i.e., Gaden of Righteousness, Enoch 60:23)
  5. rabbinical Midrash, home of Enoch (Gen. 5:21-23)
  6. another name for Ophir (2 Chr. 8:18)

The suggestion of the Peshitta aand Vulgate of "fine" gold seems unusual, since the adjective "pure" gold is mentioned in 2 Chr. 3:4 (BDB 373) and "fine" gold (BDB 373 II) in 3:5,8. The exact distinction between these types of gold is unstated.

3:7 "cherubim" See note at 2 Chr. 3:5.

8Now he made the room of the holy of holies: its length across the width of the house was twenty cubits, and its width was twenty cubits; and he overlaid it with fine gold, amounting to 600 talents. 9The weight of the nails was fifty shekels of gold. He also overlaid the upper rooms with gold.

3:8 "holy of holies" This was the innermost part of the tabernacle/temple. It was shaped as a perfect cube (i.e., 20x20x20 cubits; this would make the dimensions of 2 Chr. 3:4, "120 cubits high" a scribal error). This is where the ark of the covenant rested. Only the High Priest, on the Day of Atonement (cf. Leviticus 16), could enter this sacred place where YHWH dwelt above the cherubim.


10Then he made two sculptured cherubim in the room of the holy of holies and overlaid them with gold. 11The wingspan of the cherubim was twenty cubits; the wing of one, of five cubits, touched the wall of the house, and its other wing, of five cubits, touched the wing of the other cherub. 12The wing of the other cherub, of five cubits, touched the wall of the house; and its other wing of five cubits was attached to the wing of the first cherub. 13The wings of these cherubim extended twenty cubits, and they stood on their feet facing the main room. 14He made the veil of violet, purple, crimson and fine linen, and he worked cherubim on it.

3:9 The NASB Study Bible, p. 592, has a good note:

"The fact that gold is such a soft metal would make it unlikely that nails were made of this substance. It is probable that this small amount (only 1 1/4 pounds) represents gold leaf or sheeting used to gild the nail heads."

"the upper rooms" One wonders if the perfect cube (20x20x20 cubits) caused a space above the Holy of Holies. This is all speculation based on an assumed height of the building (i.e., "thirty cubits," 1 Kgs. 6:2).

These "upper rooms" are mentioned as being planned by David (cf. 1 Chr. 28:11).

NASB, JPSOA  "sculptured"
NKJV  "fashioned by carving"
NRSV, REB  "carved"
TEV  "made out of metal"
NJB  "modeled. . .of wrought metal work"
LXX  "fashioned. . .out of wood"

This is a NOUN CONSTRUCT (BDB 795 plus BDB 847). The NOUN (BDB 795) is a common word for "deed" or "work." Here, of "a work of art."

The other NOUN (BDB 847) occurs only here. It is from an Arabic root, "things formed." The MT is not specific whether the cherubim are fashioned from

  1. metal (TEV, NJB; AB, p. 15)
  2. wood (LXX, NKJV, NRSV, REB)

Whichever, it was overlaid with gold.

3:13 "they stood on their feet" This clearly shows that there was a second pair of cherubim. The ones on the lid of the ark were kneeling.

"facing the main room" This would refer to the larger room, the Holy Place (i.e., twice as long). These angels stood as guardians (i.e., Gen. 3:24). The two cherubim on the ark faced each other, watching the "mercy seat" (i.e., the place of atonement, cf. Leviticus 16).

3:14 "the veil" This could refer to

  1. a room-dividing curtain; this one between the "holy of holies" and the Holy Place (cf. Exod. 36:35-38)
  2. a canopy suspended above the ark of the covenant

For the colors, see note at 2 Chr. 2:7.

In Solomon's temple the inner shrine (i.e., Holy of Holies and Holy Place) was divided by a door of olive wood (cf. 1 Kgs. 6:31).


15He also made two pillars for the front of the house, thirty-five cubits high, and the capital on the top of each was five cubits. 16He made chains in the inner sanctuary and placed them on the tops of the pillars; and he made one hundred pomegranates and placed them on the chains. 17He erected the pillars in front of the temple, one on the right and the other on the left, and named the one on the right Jachin and the one on the left Boaz.

3:15-17 These are the two bronze pillars that stood at the entrance of the Holy Place (cf. 1 Kgs. 7:15-22).

3:15 "thirty-five cubits high" The NET Bible suggests this was the length of both of them lying on the ground, p. 671, #24,26. 1 Kings 7:15 and 2 Kgs. 25:17 say their height was 18 cubits.

3:16 "chains" These are also mentioned in 1 Kgs. 7:17.

NASB, NKJV, JPSOA  "the inner sanctuary"
NRSV, TEV, REB  --- omitted ---
NJB  "in the Debir"

A NOUN (BDB 184 I, KB 208 I), which is defined as "hindmost chamber" or "innermost room," from an Arabic root, "back" or "behind" (KB 209 I).

However, the Hebrew word "debar" (BDB 182, KB 210 II) is the common root for "speech" or "word." This may be a designation of the room from which YHWH speaks (cf. Num. 7:89), from above the wings of the cherubim on the lid of the ark.

It must be noted that "inner sanctuary" (i.e., second suggestion) does not fit this context, which is talking about the twin bronze pillars before the porch of the Holy Place.

3:17 "Jachin" This proper name (BDB 467, KB 410) for the right bronze pillar may mean "he will establish."

"Boaz" This proper name (BDB 126, KB 142 II) for the left bronze pillar may mean "quickness" or "strength." Some scholars assume that the writing on the two pillars are one phrase, "he establishes in strength."


This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

  1. Where else in the OT is Mt. Moriah mentioned? Why was it chosen as the site of the temple?
  2. Were there two kinds of cubit? How long was a cubit?
  3. Describe a cherub. What was their purpose in temple art?
  4. Do 1 Kings 6-7 and this chapter give us a complete picture of Solomon's temple? Could we reproduce it by these measurements?
  5. Was there a veil or a door between the Holy of Holies and the Holy Place?
  6. What was the purpose of the bronze pillars?

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