The clean break at the end of 1 Chronicles forms the prologue for the second book. Solomon the son of David established himself in his kingdom, and the LORD his God was with him and made him exceedingly great. Indeed, the first chapter of this second book glimpses at the greatness of Solomon’s wisdom and wealth. Notice, though, one disconcerting detail: And Solomon’s import of horses was from Egypt… The Chronicler has shown deft understanding of the Law to this point. Did it escape his notice that Solomon brought horses from the one place that Deuteronomy (17:16) had warned Israel’s king not to? Or is this author so subtle that he wants us to notice it. Though wealthy, and presumably wise, this could foreshadow trouble ahead for Solomon.
But there is no time for that today. The second scroll of Chronicles is no less interested in Temple building than was the first. In chapter 2, Solomon sets himself to the task, commissioning a massive labor force and skilled workers from abroad. The letter to Hiram, king of Tyre, is richly detailed and recorded at length – reflecting another peculiar detail that caught the author’s attention. Hiram had sent supplies to David in 1 Chronicles 14, and apparently there was a strong relationship – at least in trade – between the two kingdoms.
Chapter 3 is devoted to technical details regarding the building and furnishings of the Temple. Their record is a statement in itself: this was important to the author, and he wanted to pass it on to his readers. They are an expression of the expanse of Israel’s wealth, and a reflection of their sincere reverence for the LORD their God.
Our verse for this week is Psalm 119:11: I have stored up Your word in my heart, that I might not sin against You.
2 Chronicles 1 through 3. Now let’s read it!
2 Chronicles 1 - 3
1:1 Solomon the son of David established himself in his kingdom, and the LORD his God was with him and made him exceedingly great.
Solomon spoke to all Israel, to the commanders of thousands and of hundreds, to the judges, and to all the leaders in all Israel, the heads of fathers' houses. And Solomon, and all the assembly with him, went to the high place that was at Gibeon, for the tent of meeting of God, which Moses the servant of the LORD had made in the wilderness, was there. (But David had brought up the ark of God from Kiriath-jearim to the place that David had prepared for it, for he had pitched a tent for it in Jerusalem.) Moreover, the bronze altar that Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, had made, was there before the tabernacle of the LORD. And Solomon and the assembly sought it out. And Solomon went up there to the bronze altar before the LORD, which was at the tent of meeting, and offered a thousand burnt offerings on it.
In that night God appeared to Solomon, and said to him, “Ask what I shall give you.” And Solomon said to God, “You have shown great and steadfast love to David my father, and have made me king in his place. O LORD God, let your word to David my father be now fulfilled, for you have made me king over a people as numerous as the dust of the earth. Give me now wisdom and knowledge to go out and come in before this people, for who can govern this people of yours, which is so great?” God answered Solomon, “Because this was in your heart, and you have not asked for possessions, wealth, honor, or the life of those who hate you, and have not even asked for long life, but have asked for wisdom and knowledge for yourself that you may govern my people over whom I have made you king, wisdom and knowledge are granted to you. I will also give you riches, possessions, and honor, such as none of the kings had who were before you, and none after you shall have the like.” So Solomon came from the high place at Gibeon, from before the tent of meeting, to Jerusalem. And he reigned over Israel.
Solomon gathered together chariots and horsemen. He had 1,400 chariots and 12,000 horsemen, whom he stationed in the chariot cities and with the king in Jerusalem. And the king made silver and gold as common in Jerusalem as stone, and he made cedar as plentiful as the sycamore of the Shephelah. And Solomon's import of horses was from Egypt and Kue, and the king's traders would buy them from Kue for a price. They imported a chariot from Egypt for 600 shekels of silver, and a horse for 150. Likewise through them these were exported to all the kings of the Hittites and the kings of Syria.
2:1 Now Solomon purposed to build a temple for the name of the LORD, and a royal palace for himself. And Solomon assigned 70,000 men to bear burdens and 80,000 to quarry in the hill country, and 3,600 to oversee them. And Solomon sent word to Hiram the king of Tyre: “As you dealt with David my father and sent him cedar to build himself a house to dwell in, so deal with me. Behold, I am about to build a house for the name of the LORD my God and dedicate it to him for the burning of incense of sweet spices before him, and for the regular arrangement of the showbread, and for burnt offerings morning and evening, on the Sabbaths and the new moons and the appointed feasts of the LORD our God, as ordained forever for Israel. The house that I am to build will be great, for our God is greater than all gods. But who is able to build him a house, since heaven, even highest heaven, cannot contain him? Who am I to build a house for him, except as a place to make offerings before him? So now send me a man skilled to work in gold, silver, bronze, and iron, and in purple, crimson, and blue fabrics, trained also in engraving, to be with the skilled workers who are with me in Judah and Jerusalem, whom David my father provided. Send me also cedar, cypress, and algum timber from Lebanon, for I know that your servants know how to cut timber in Lebanon. And my servants will be with your servants, to prepare timber for me in abundance, for the house I am to build will be great and wonderful. I will give for your servants, the woodsmen who cut timber, 20,000 cors of crushed wheat, 20,000 cors of barley, 20,000 baths of wine, and 20,000 baths of oil.”
Then Hiram the king of Tyre answered in a letter that he sent to Solomon, “Because the LORD loves his people, he has made you king over them.” Hiram also said, “Blessed be the LORD God of Israel, who made heaven and earth, who has given King David a wise son, who has discretion and understanding, who will build a temple for the LORD and a royal palace for himself.
“Now I have sent a skilled man, who has understanding, Huram-abi, the son of a woman of the daughters of Dan, and his father was a man of Tyre. He is trained to work in gold, silver, bronze, iron, stone, and wood, and in purple, blue, and crimson fabrics and fine linen, and to do all sorts of engraving and execute any design that may be assigned him, with your craftsmen, the craftsmen of my lord, David your father. Now therefore the wheat and barley, oil and wine, of which my lord has spoken, let him send to his servants. And we will cut whatever timber you need from Lebanon and bring it to you in rafts by sea to Joppa, so that you may take it up to Jerusalem.”
Then Solomon counted all the resident aliens who were in the land of Israel, after the census of them that David his father had taken, and there were found 153,600. Seventy thousand of them he assigned to bear burdens, 80,000 to quarry in the hill country, and 3,600 as overseers to make the people work.
3:1 Then Solomon began to build the house of the LORD in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, where the LORD had appeared to David his father, at the place that David had appointed, on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite. He began to build in the second month of the fourth year of his reign. These are Solomon's measurements for building the house of God: the length, in cubits of the old standard, was sixty cubits, and the breadth twenty cubits. The vestibule in front of the nave of the house was twenty cubits long, equal to the width of the house, and its height was 120 cubits. He overlaid it on the inside with pure gold. The nave he lined with cypress and covered it with fine gold and made palms and chains on it. He adorned the house with settings of precious stones. The gold was gold of Parvaim. So he lined the house with gold—its beams, its thresholds, its walls, and its doors—and he carved cherubim on the walls.
And he made the Most Holy Place. Its length, corresponding to the breadth of the house, was twenty cubits, and its breadth was twenty cubits. He overlaid it with 600 talents of fine gold. The weight of gold for the nails was fifty shekels. And he overlaid the upper chambers with gold.
In the Most Holy Place he made two cherubim of wood and overlaid them with gold. The wings of the cherubim together extended twenty cubits: one wing of the one, of five cubits, touched the wall of the house, and its other wing, of five cubits, touched the wing of the other cherub; and of this cherub, one wing, of five cubits, touched the wall of the house, and the other wing, also of five cubits, was joined to the wing of the first cherub. The wings of these cherubim extended twenty cubits. The cherubim stood on their feet, facing the nave. And he made the veil of blue and purple and crimson fabrics and fine linen, and he worked cherubim on it.
In front of the house he made two pillars thirty-five cubits high, with a capital of five cubits on the top of each. He made chains like a necklace and put them on the tops of the pillars, and he made a hundred pomegranates and put them on the chains. He set up the pillars in front of the temple, one on the south, the other on the north; that on the south he called Jachin, and that on the north Boaz.