2 Chronicles Chapter 4  PDF  MSWord

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Go to Bible: 2 Chronicles 4
2Ch 4:1

“Then he made an altar of bronze.” Interestingly, this bronze altar that Solomon made to replace the smaller one made by Moses is not described in 1 Kings 7, when the articles of the Temple are being discussed, but it is mentioned in 1 Kings 8:22 when Solomon dedicates the Temple.

“20 cubits.” The dimensions of this altar are not mentioned in the Book of Kings. This huge altar had the same dimensions as the Holy of Holies (2 Kings 3:8). .

Most scholars think this is the standard cubit of 18 inches, which would make the bronze altar 30 feet by 30 feet (9 x 9 meters), and 15 feet (4.6 m) high. Although it was said to be made of bronze, it is unclear how much of it was bronze. The priests ministered in bare feet, so it seems clear that the top of it that had the perpetual fire could not have been bronze or the priests could not have walked there. Similarly, the ramp up to the top would not have been bronze or in the summer the Judean sun would have made the ramp too hot to walk on.

2Ch 4:2

“a sea of cast metal.” Solomon’s bronze laver was so large it was referred to as the “sea.” It was in the southeast part (perhaps the southeast corner) of the Temple (1 Kings 7:39), and was 45 feet in circumference (14 meters), 15 feet (4.6 m) from brim to brim, and 7 ½ feet (2.3 m) high. It was mounted on a base of 12 bronze oxen, but there is no explanation for why the sea was put on oxen, although there is no shortage of theories about what they represented. How much water the sea held is problematic because 1 Kings 7:26 says “2,000 baths” (roughly 11,000 gallons, 41,600 liters) and 2 Chronicles 4:5 says “3,000 baths.” It is possible that the 3,000 was the full capacity but the 2,000 was what was normally kept in it, but there may have also been a copyist’s error as to the capacity of the sea (a “bath” was a liquid measure roughly equivalent to but a little less than six gallons (about 22 liters). So if 2,000 baths was normal capacity, the sea held about 12,000 gallons (or 132,000 liters).

2Ch 4:3

“gourds.” The Masoretic text reads “oxen,” but 1 Kings 7:24 says “gourds.” It seems that “gourds” was likely original. The gourds were in two rows, but the oxen, of which there were twelve, were in four sets of three (2 Chron. 4:4). Also, it is possible to have two rows of gourds with ten little decorative gourds to a cubit, but it would be very hard to have ten bass-relief oxen every 18 inches (see commentary on 1 Kings 7:24).

In Hebrew the words “gourds” and “oxen” are very close and so at some point it seems the text was miscopied.

2Ch 4:4

“and all their hindquarters were inward.” See 1 Kings 7:25.

2Ch 4:5

“it could hold 3,000 baths.” See commentary on 1 Kings 7:26.

2Ch 4:6

“five on the right hand and five on the left.” This verse would be in the normal perspective of looking east, so the right hand is the south side, and the left hand is the north side.

“They rinsed the items used for burnt sacrifices.” Not the sacrifices themselves, but the items used for sacrifices, such as knives.

2Ch 4:7

“five on the right hand and five on the left.” This verse would be in the normal perspective of looking east, so the right hand is the south side, and the left hand is the north side.

2Ch 4:8

“he made ten tables.” The tables are confusing because their purpose is not stated. Moses’ Tabernacle only had one table for the 12 loaves of the Bread of the Presence (Exod. 25:23-30, 37:10-16; 40:22-23). The table for the Bread of the Presence was on the north side of the Tabernacle (Exod. 26:35). The bread was placed in two stacks, with each stack containing 6 “loaves” (Lev. 24:5-9; Num. 4:7; but a “loaf” looked like a huge, thick pancake, not a “loaf” shaped like our modern loaves of bread. Also, 1 Kings 7:48 only mentioned one table in the Temple for the Bread of the Presence, as does 2 Chronicles 13:11 and 29:18. However, when David was preparing for the Temple to be built he prepared for the “tables” of the Bread of the Presence (1 Chron. 28:16), and 2 Chronicles 4:19 mentions “tables” as well. Another problem with trying to make the ten tables be tables for the Bread of the Presence is that there were 12 loaves of bread that made up the Bread of the Presence, and there is no way to equally divide them among ten tables. On balance, the evidence seems to best support that the Temple had one table for the Bread of the Presence just like the Tabernacle did. In light of that, it has been suggested that the ten menorahs in the Temple were each set on a table, but there is no way to prove that. It is also possible—although it seems unlikely—that these ten tables had a use in the Holy Place that is not described in the Bible.

“five on the right hand and five on the left.” This verse would be in the normal perspective of looking east, so the right hand is the south side, and the left hand is the north side.

2Ch 4:9

“he made the courtyard of the priests, and he made the great court.” This describes two courts. The inner court, the court of the priests, had the sea, the altar, and the tables to prepare the sacrifices. East of that court and through a gate was the court of Israel, the court for the people. The two words for “courtyard” and “court” are different. These two courts in 2 Chronicles 4:9 correspond to the two courts mentioned in Ezekiel 40, the outer court of Ezekiel 40:17-19 and the inner court of Ezekiel 40:44, and Herod’s Temple at the time of Christ also had these two courtyards but also a huge outer courtyard where all people, Jews and Gentiles, were allowed to go. The wall around the huge outer courtyard of Herod’s Temple enclosed about 37 acres of land.

The two courts were important for the function of the Temple, the inner court for the priests and all the work they did, and the outer court for the laypeople. In Ezekiel’s Temple the inner court is 100 cubits square (175 feet square) and had the altar of sacrifice in it (Ezek. 40:47). That inner court is the same “court of the priests” as is mentioned here in 2 Chronicles 4:9, and is also the courtyard that is in front of the Temple (the “house”) in 2 Chronicles 7:7 and 1 Kings 8:64.

“he overlaid their doors with bronze.” That the doors are “their doors” suggests that both courts had bronze doors.

2Ch 4:10

“right side.” The orientation in the Bible was to the east, so the “right side” was the south side. “Toward the southeast” is more literally in the Hebrew text, “eastward, over against the south,” meaning toward the southeast. So the great sea basin was toward the southeast corner of the courtyard of the priests in the Temple area.

2Ch 4:11

“finished doing the work.” This is the same phrase as occurs in Genesis 2:1 when God finished the work of creation.

2Ch 4:12(top)
2Ch 4:13(top)
2Ch 4:14

“He made the stands and he made the basins.” The Temple had ten smaller basins for washing that were set on ten stands (see 2 Chron. 4:6; 1 Kings 7:27-39).

2Ch 4:15

“one sea, and the 12 oxen under it.” This was covered earlier in the chapter (2 Chron. 4:2-5).

2Ch 4:16

“Huram-abi.” He is mentioned in 2 Chronicles 2:13.

2Ch 4:17

“The king cast them.” This is an example of the author-agent idiom. Solomon did not cast the vessels, he had them cast. See commentary on 1 Kings 7:46.

“between Sukkoth and Zeredah.” The town is spelled differently in Kings, but it is undoubtedly the same town. See commentary on 1 Kings 7:46.

2Ch 4:18

“so the weight of the bronze was not measured.” There was so much bronze it was not weighed. Although some versions say that the weight “could not” be discovered, that is not what the text is saying. The weight could have been been found out, but there was so much it was not worth the effort to do so.

2Ch 4:19

“and the tables on which the Bread of the Presence was placed.” (See commentary on 2 Chron. 4:9).

2Ch 4:20(top)
2Ch 4:21(top)
2Ch 4:22

“the main hall of the temple.” This is the Holy Place.


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