The building of the temple in Jerusalem is worthy of being compared to the exodus from Egypt, making them two outstanding fulfillments of Yahweh’s plan for His people.
We also can see its importance in the size of the temple in comparison with the tabernacle. It is twice as long as the tabernacle, twice as wide and three times as tall (1 Kings 6:2 with Exodus 26:15-22, noting that the length of each frame (10 cubits) will be used for the height of the tabernacle structure, not its length). It is comparable in size with other large temples of that era in Syria (Alfred J. Hoerth, Archaeology and the Old Testament; Baker Books, 1998: pg. 281).
There is not as much detail about the temple as there is about the tabernacle in the book of Exodus. The description of the temple in 1 Kings 6 concentrates on features which are different from the tabernacle like the use of windows, the construction of three stories of chambers around the temple and the use of cut stones and wooden doors. There also are many details about the interior of the temple, something that the vast majority of Israelites would never see. The emphasis on the gold, the cherubim and the interior designs serve alongside 1 Kings 4 – 5 to impress us with the glory, the grandeur and the organization with which Yahweh blessed His people through Solomon, His anointed one.
We should read 1 Kings 7 with the same admiration. Some would like to
criticize Solomon because he spent more time on the construction of his palace
than on the temple, but there is no evidence of criticism for this in the text, nor is there any mention of many possible reasons why there may have been delays in construction. The narrator simply continues his explanation with admiration through the entire chapter, not only of the House of the Forest of Lebanon but again of the temple, this time to admire its bronze columns, the sea and the bronze stands for water, along with the other bronze utensils and gold furnishings.
And good news arrives at the end of 1 Kings 7: “Thus all the work that King Solomon did on the house of the LORD was finished” (1 Kings 7:51). It echoes the announcement at the end of the construction of the tabernacle: “So Moses finished the work” (Exodus 40:33). The only part missing is, like in Exodus 40:33, the most important part: Yahweh’s Presence. He has promised already, “Concerning this house that you are building, if you will walk in my statutes and obey my rules and keep all my commandments and walk in them, then I will establish my word with you, which I spoke to David your father. And I will dwell among the children of
Israel and will not forsake my people Israel” (1 Kings 6:12-13). In tomorrow’s reading, we will see how Yahweh responds.