Shelomo's Monarchy in Jerusalem (IV): The House of God and the House of the King

  • Rav Yitzchak Levy

 

            After having dealt with the structure of the house of God, and having surveyed Shelomo's actions related to its construction, in this shiur we shall discuss the relationship between the house of the king and the house of God. King Shelomo initiated many construction projects throughout Eretz Yisrael and in Jerusalem in particular, but his crowning achievement was the building of the house of God and the house of the king in Jerusalem. Surprisingly, these two structures are described as a single entity that is built as one continuous project with respect to both time and place. In this shiur we shall try to understand the meaning of the connection between these two structures.

 

I.          DESCRIPTION OF THE TWO STRUCTURES AS A SINGLE ENTITY

 

This is the order and internal structure of the chapters dealing with the Temple in I Melakhim:

 

6:1-10

The external structure of the Temple

6:15-38

The inside of the Temple

7:1-12

The structures of the house of the king

7:13-51

The copper vessels in the Temple

8

The dedication of the house of God and Shelomo's prayer

 

Why does Scripture split up the description of the Temple, and insert in the middle, in between the descriptions of the Temple itself (outside and inside) and its copper vessels, a description of the buildings comprising the royal palace? Without a doubt, the prophet wishes to underline the special connection between the two houses and to present them as a single entity. Scripture joins the two in many other verses as well (I Melakhim 3:1; 9:1, 10, 15; 10:12; II Divrei Ha-yamim 1:18; 7:11; 8:1; 9:11). Especially interesting is the following formulation:

 

And Shelomo determined to build a house for the name of the Lord, and a royal house for himself. (II Divrei Ha-yamim 1:18)

 

            This verse presents us with a single unit comprised of two houses – a house for the King, King of kings, and a house for the king of flesh and blood. These two houses are connected to each other: the worldly kingdom must be connected to God's kingdom, and therefore the royal palace must be connected to the palace of the King, King of kings.

 

II.        THE TIMES OF THE CONSTRUCTION AND THE DEDICATION – THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE HOUSE OF THE KING AND THE HOUSE OF GOD

 

1)         THE TIME AND DURATION OF THE CONSTRUCTION

 

Scripture tells us precisely when the two houses were constructed:

 

In the fourth year was the foundation of the house of the Lord laid, in the month of Ziv; and in the eleventh year, in the month of Bul (which is the eighth month), was the house finished throughout all its parts, and according to all the fashion of it. So was he seven years in building it. But Shelomo spent thirteen years in building his own house, and he finished his house. (I Melakhim 6:37-7:1)

 

            Elsewhere the duration of the construction of the houses is totaled together:

 

And it came to pass at the end of twenty years, when Shelomo had built the two houses, the house of the Lord, and the king's house. (Ibid. 9:10)

 

            Two points should be mentioned here:

 

*     The order of construction: First the house of God and afterwards the house of the king.

*     The duration of the construction: The house of the Lord was built in seven years, and the house of the king in thirteen years.

 

The Midrash in Pesikta Rabbati 6 (which we already cited earlier this year in Shiur no. 4: "Why Can't David Build the House of God [part I]") relates to both of these two points:

 

Another explanation: "Do you see a man diligent in his business" (Mishlei 22:29) this is Shelomo. In what business? In the business of the Temple. You find that when he built his own house, he built it for thirteen years. But when he built the Temple he built it for seven years. "And it came to pass at the end of twenty years, etc." (I Melakhim 9:10), and similarly "And in the eleventh year, in the month of Bul" (Ibid. 6:38), "But Shelomo spent thirteen years in building his own house" (Ibid. 7:1). Anyone who hears that he spent thirteen years building his own house and seven years building God's Temple, might think that perhaps his own house was larger than that of the Holy One, blessed be He. This is not so, but rather he was lazy about his own house, but about the house of the Holy One, blessed be He, he was not lazy. And furthermore, he put the glory of the Holy One, blessed be He, before his own glory. Therefore, Natan says to his father: "Shall you build Me a house" (II Shemuel 7:5), and elsewhere it says: "You shall not build" (I Divrei Ha-yamim 17:4). He said to him: You put your glory before My glory, for [only] when you saw yourself sitting in a house of cedars did you ask to build the Temple: "The king said to Natan the prophet, See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the Ark of God dwells within a curtain" (II Shemuel 7:2; I Divrei Ha-yamim 17:1). But Shelomo puts My glory before his own glory: "And in the eleventh year, in the month Bul, was the house finished throughout all its parts, and according to all the fashion of it" (I Melakhim 6:38). And afterwards: "But Shelomo spent [thirteen years in] building his own house" (Ibid. 7:1). And because he displayed alacrity in the building of the Temple, he merited joining with the righteous kings.

 

            The Midrash establishes that Shelomo, in contrast to David, put God's glory before his own glory, in that be built the house of God before his own house, and that the difference in the duration of the two projects follows from the fact that he was lazy with regard to his own house, but diligent concerning the building of God's house. Many Rishonim follow the approach taken by this Midrash (see, for example, Rashi and Metzudat David on I Melakhim 7:1).

 

            It is interesting that the Midrash writes that the royal house was not bigger than the Temple. The Metzudat David goes even further, claiming that the Temple was "much larger than his own house." However, the plain sense of the verses describing the complex of buildings that comprised the royal palace and their dimensions implies otherwise. Let us compare the dimensions of the house of God with the dimensions of one of the buildings making up the royal house – the house of the forest of Lebanon: The house of God was 60 cubits (or 70 cubits including the 10 cubits of the Ulam) long, by 20 cubits wide, by 30 cubits high (I Melakhim 6:2); whereas the house of the forest of Lebanon was much larger – 100 cubits long, 50 cubits wide, and 30 cubits high (Ibid. 7:2). And let us not forget that besides the house of the forest of Lebanon, the royal complex included other buildings, e.g., the house of Shelomo and the house of the daughter of Pharaoh. We see then that according to the plain sense of Scripture, the royal house was much large than the house of God.

 

            In light of this, the difference in the duration of the building of the two houses might be understood differently. While indeed Shelomo began with the building of the house of God, and this was certainly to his credit, he invested more time in the building of his own house, because the entire palace complex was larger and more magnificent.

 

2.         THE TIME OF THE DEDICATION OF THE HOUSE

 

We shall try below to establish when precisely the Temple was dedicated, based on the assumption that the order of Scripture corresponds to the chronological order of the events.

 

We already saw earlier that the order of the chapters dealing with the Temple is as follows: the temple (chap. 6), the house of the king (7:1-12), the copper vessels (7:13-51), the dedication of the Temple and Shelomo's prayer (8). Chapter 9 opens:

 

And it came to pass, when Shelomo had finished the building of the house of the Lord, and the king's house, and all Shelomo's desires which he was pleased to do. (I Melakhim 9:1)[1]

 

            And in the continuation of the same chapter:

 

And it came to pass at the end of twenty years, when Shelomo had built the two houses, the house of the Lord, and the king's house. (Ibid. v. 10)

 

            This order implies that the dedication the Temple was not celebrated at the end of the seven years of its construction, but at the end of the twenty years of the building of the Temple and the royal house.

 

            Further proof for our contention that the Temple was only dedicated after the building of the royal house was completed may be brought from the dates of the construction and the dedication. The building of the Temple was finished in the eleventh year in the month of Bul (Marcheshvan), but the dedication of the Temple took place only in the month of Tishrei. One who wishes to argue that the Temple was dedicated after its construction was completed must explain the eleven-month gap between the completion of the building and the dedication. According to our proposal, on the other hand, this is understandable, for there was a thirteen-year delay until the end of the building of the royal house.[2]

 

            The delay in the dedication of the Temple until the completion of the construction of the royal house follows without a doubt from the fact that the two houses were viewed as a single entity, reflecting the fact that the kingdom of Israel serves as a means of revealing the kingdom of God in the world (as it is stated: "And Shelomo sat on the throne of God as king"; I Divrei Ha-yamim 29:23), and the fundamental proximity of the two kingdoms: the power and authority of the kingdom of flesh and blood come entirely from God, and therefore it cannot exist detached from God's kingdom, and the house of the king can only be built together with the house of God.

 

III.       THE LOCATION OF THE ROYAL HOUSE IN RELATION TO THE TEMPLE[3]

 

           

The location of the royal complex is not explicitly spelled out in Scripture, but a number of verses are informative regarding the matter. Several verses imply that Mount Moriah and the Temple were higher in altitude than the house of the king:

 

And they brought down the king from the house of the Lord, and came by the way of the gate of the runners to the king's house. (II Melakhim 11:19)

 

They came up from the king's house unto the house of the Lord, and sat down in the entry of the new gate of he Lord's house. (Yirmiyahu 26:10)[4]

 

            On the other hand, other verses imply that the house of the king was more elevated than the City of David (those verses relate to the house of the daughter of Pharaoh, but as we shall see below, that house was part of the royal complex):

 

But Pharaoh's daughter came up out of the City of David to her house which he had built for her: then did he build the Milo. (I Melakhim 9:24)

 

And Shelomo brought up the daughter of Pharaoh out of the city of David to the house that he had built for her (II Divrei Ha-yamim 8:11)

 

            In light of this, it is most reasonable to assume that the house of the king was located on the eastern hill of the city, between Mount Moriah and the house of God built upon it, and the City of David.[5] This location fits in well with the verse, "And it came to pass, before Yishayahu was gone out in to the middle court" (II Melakhim 20:4), according to which the royal complex was situated in the middle, in between the Temple to the north and the City of David to the south.

 

            This understanding is also confirmed by the harsh prophecy of Yechezkel:

 

And he said to me, Son of man, behold the place of My throne, and the place of the soles of My feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the children of Israel for ever; and the house of Israel shall no more profane My holy name, neither they, nor their kings, by their harlotry, nor by the carcasses of their kings in their high places. In their setting of their threshold by My thresholds, and their doorpost by My posts, and only the wall between Me and them, they have defiled My holy name by their disgusting deeds which they have committed: and so I have consumed them in My anger. Now let them put away their harlotry, and the carcasses of their kings, far from Me, and I will dwell in the midst of them for ever. (Yechezkel 43:7-9)

 

            There is no doubt that the prophet is describing here the immediate proximity of the house of the king to the house of God, and the spiritual meaning that this has when the kings profane the adjacent Temple with their abominations.[6]

 

The relative locations create a graded structure, that is reflected both in the geography – the house of the king is situated in the middle, between the city and the Temple – and in the topography – the house of the king is higher than the City of David but lower than the house of God. This topographical structure teaches us about the ideal spiritual meaning of the monarchy. Already in the section dealing with the selection of the king, it is stated:

 

You shall surely appoint a king over you, whom the Lord your God shall choose. (Devarim 17:15)

 

            In other words, two factors join together in the appointment of the king: his selection by God, and his acceptance by the people.[7] In the continuation of that passage, the Torah issues a command regarding how the king must conduct himself in office:

 

And it shall be, when he sits upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write for himself a copy of this Torah in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites. And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life. That he may learn to fear the Lord his God, to keep all the words of this Torah and these statutes to do them. (Ibid. vv. 18-19)

 

            The Rambam explains:

 

When the kings sits on his royal throne… he must write two Torah scrolls, one of which he sets down in his treasure house… and the second may not move from before him… he goes out to war and it is with him, he returns and it is with him, he sit in judgment and it is with him, he reclines, and it is before him. As it is stated: "And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of the his life." (Hilkhot Melakhim 3:1)

 

            A close reading of the words of the Rambam indicates that the obligation to have a Torah scroll with him at all times is not merely a personal obligation; it is part of his role as king – to execute his monarchal duties (e.g., going out to war, or sitting in judgment) in the light of the Torah, as part of the general objective of uniting the people under his kingship and leading them in the stately fulfillment of the Torah.

 

            The location of the house of the king below the Temple and above the city symbolizes the role of the monarchy as a means of unifying the people and leading it in the path of Torah and mitzvot. Just as the king is obligated to take a Torah scroll with him wherever he goes, so too his house is adjacent to the house of God, so that he should remember at all times the source of his authority – the house of God – on the one hand, and his obligation to the people, represented by the city below his house, on the other.

 

IV.       THE STRUCTURES COMPRISING THE ROYAL COMPLEX AND THEIR CORRESPONDENCE TO THE HOUSE OF GOD

 

1)         THE ROYAL COMPLEX (I Melakhim 7:1-12)

 

But Shelomo spent thirteen years in building his own house, and he finished his house.

 

He built also the house of the forest of Lebanon; its length was a hundred cubits, and its breadth was fifty cubits, and its height was thirty cubits upon four rows of cedar pillars, with cedar beams upon the pillars. And it was covered with cedar above upon the beams, that lay on forty-five pillars, fifteen in a row. And there were window spaces in three rows, and light was against light in three ranks. And all the doors and posts were square, with the windows: and light was against light in three ranks.

 

And he made a porch of pillars; the length of which was fifty cubits, and its breadth, thirty cubits,

 

and a porch was before them: and other pillars and a thick beam were before them.

 

Then he made a porch for the throne where he might judge, even the porch of judgment: and it was covered with cedar from floor to floor.

 

And his house where he dwelt, in the other court within the porch was of the like work.

 

Shelomo made also a house for Pharaoh's daughter, whom he had taken to wife, like his porch.

 

All these were of costly stones, according to the measures of hewn stones, sawed with saws, within and without, from the foundation to cop, and on the outside toward the great court. And the foundation was of costly stones, great stones, stones of ten cubits, and stones of eight cubits. And above were costly stones, after the measures of hewn stones, and cedars.

 

And the great court round about was with three rows of hewn stones, and a row of cedar beams, both for the inner court of the house of the Lord, and for the porch of the house.

 

            The description of these structures is vague, and Scripture gives us no information regarding the geographical and architectural relationship between them. Scripture allows for three possible understandings: 1) The porch of pillars, the porch before it and the porch of judgment are all parts of the house of the forest of Lebanon (and we are dealing here with a general statement followed by its particulars); 2) the three porches constitute a single entity, and the house of the forest of Lebanon is a separate structure; 3) each of the four structures stands independently. Because of the great court round about, it stands to reason that we are dealing with a single entity, in accordance with one of the first two possibilities.[8] We cannot deal here with all the different structures; we shall merely mention several important points regarding the central structure in the complex: the house of the forest of Lebanon.

 

2)         THE HOUSE OF THE FOREST OF THE LEVANON – ITS FORM AND FUNCTION

 

Yonatan ben Uziel renders the term as "beit mekerat malkhaya," that is, royal summerhouse (similar to what is mentioned in Amos 3:15). In I Melakhim 10 we read:

 

And King Shelomo made two hundred targets of beaten gold: six hundred shekels of gold went to one target. And he made three hundred shields of beaten gold; three pounds of gold went to one shield. And the king put them in the house of the forest of Lebanon… And all the vessels of the house of the forest of Lebanon were of pure gold. (I Melakhim 10:16-21)

 

            It is reasonable to assume that these golden targets and shields were intended for decoration and ceremonial use (see also I Melakhim 14:25-28). In connection with the siege of Sancheriv it is stated: "That you did look on that day to the armor of the house of the forest" (Yishayahu 22:8). The commentators (ad loc.) explain that this is a reference to these targets and shields, which Chizkiyahu made use of during the war.

 

            As for the details concerning the structure, we cannot relate here to all the terms and descriptions mentioned in the text and to all the many positions of the Rishonim. We shall merely note several facts arising from the explanations offered by most of the Rishonim.

 

            According to the simplest understanding, the name of the structure relates to the many cedar pillars contained therein. As the Metzudat David suggests:

 

It was called by this name because, owing to the many pillars contained therein, it looked like a forest with many trees. Or else, because he built it in place of the forest of Lebanon, for it was the royal custom at that time to build a house in the forest to cool off there during the days of the summer, and it was built with many windows in order to allow the air in there.

 

            Abravanel brings the explanation of Yosef ben Guryon, according to which the large structure was divided into two stories and included various sections, each one with a different purpose:

 

And it had two kinds and arrangements of apartments, a lower one and a higher one, and in each apartment there were many rooms.

In the lower apartments all the royal vessels, wealth and treasures were arranged in superb fashion. In one room were spices of every taste and smell, choice and expensive. In another room were all the weapons, of iron, gold and silver, which Shelomo had made for his glory and majesty. And in another room were all the drinking utensils that Shelomo had fashioned out of silver. And in yet another room were the king's garments. And so too in each of the other rooms there were different things.

And in the upper apartments … there was a section for the king, and for his servants, and a council room, where the officers would gather together. And there were rooms there designated for eating, drinking, sleeping and sitting.

 

            We should emphasize the similarity between the name "house of the forest of the Levanon," a name that the structure was given undoubtedly because of the cedars and cypress trees of Lebanon out of which it was built, and the derasha of Chazal found in several places (Berakhot 48b, Gittin 56b, and elsewhere) that the Temple was called Lebanon (regarding this point, see our previous shiur). While without a doubt the cedars and cypress trees were brought from Lebanon both for the construction of the Temple and for the construction of the royal house, nevertheless, the parallel names points to a connection and similarity between the two buildings. Interesting in this context is the novel explanation offered by the Ralbag (I Melakhim 7:2), which draws a connection between the Temple's being called "Lebanon" and its proximity to the house of the forest of Lebanon: "I think that the forest of Lebanon was near the Temple and for that reason the Temple was called Lebanon."

 

            In front of the house of the forest of Lebanon, and as a vestibule to it stood the porch of the pillars. The commentators disagree about what is written about this porch, "And a porch was before them: and other pillars and a thick beam were before them" - whether we are talking about the same porch or an additional porch, in which case a difficulty arises as to the meaning of the words "before them." Was the additional porch on top of the porch of the pillars (Rashi), or perhaps in front of it?

 

            Noga Ha-Reuveni[9] suggests that the house of the forest of Lebanon was designed in an ingenious manner, which was intended to astonish the diplomatic and commercial delegations which came to visit Shelomo and to leave an indelible impression in their hearts about the majesty, grandeur and wealth of Jerusalem. According to him, the house was built in such a way that the visitor was given the impression that he was entering into a forest: the pillars were fashioned in the form of trees, and to them were attached cedar cuttings that completed the look; the entire porch was surrounded with mirrors that reflected the imitation-cedar pillars, creating the illusion of an endless forest.

 

3)         THE CORRESPONDENCE BETWEEN THE BUILDINGS THAT COMPRISED THE ROYAL HOUSE AND THE TEMPLE

 

As stated above, the description of the buildings comprising the house of the king is not sufficiently detailed to allow us to draw up a plan of the relationship between the various structures. We wish to note several elements that were common to both the Temple and the royal house.

 

According to the understanding that the porch of the pillars, the porch before it and the porch of judgment constituted a single entity (whether or not they were all part of the house of the forest of Lebanon), there is a correspondence between the design of this entity and the design of the Temple: the porch of the pillars corresponds to the Heikhal; the porch before it, at whose facade stood columns, corresponds to the Ulam, at whose facade there were also two pillars – Yakhin and Boaz; and these two structures were situated in the middle of a large court. The parallelism is completed with "the porch for the throne where he might judge, even the porch of judgment" (I Melakhim 7:7), which, according to Scripture, took up a considerable portion of the inside of the royal house; this description alludes to verses such as "I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne" (Yishayahu 6:1), and "You sat on the throne giving righteous judgment" (Tehillim 9:5). The porch of judgment parallels, with respect to its place and its function, the Devir (only that the porch of judgment contains the throne of judgment, whereas the Devir contains the Ark and the keruvim).

 

This correspondence, if it is correct, can be understood in light of the centrality of the principle of justice to the essence of the monarchy, and the parallelism between the justice and judgment in God's kingdom and the justice and judgment in the kingdom of flesh and blood (see last year's Shiur no. 7 – "Jerusalem – City of Justice and the Monarchy"). The King, King of kings, the King of judgment, sits on His royal throne in the Holy of Holies, and Torah and judgment go forth into the world from between the two keruvim (see Shemot 25:22; Bamidbar 7:89), to fulfill that which was stated: "For out of Zion shall go forth Torah, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem" (Yishayahu 2:3; Mikha 6:2). And paralleling this (though utterly different!), Shelomo, the mortal king, sits in the porch of judgment, the inner chamber of his palace, and issues forth judgments. And once again: the location of the porch of the throne and the entire house of the king at the foot of the throne of the kingdom of God must influence the way the king judges his nation.

 

There are also many parallels between the two buildings in their style of building. In I Melakhim 7:12, Scripture draws an explicit connection between the two: "And the great court round about was with three rows of hewn stones, and a row of cedar beams, both for the inner court of the house of the Lord, and for the porch of the house." The close connection is emphasized again by the similar terms used in connection with the house of the forest of Lebanon and the Temple: "covered with cedar," "window spaces," "porch of the pillars," "three rows of hewn stones," and "a row of cedar beams."

 

V.        THE MEANING OF THE CORRESPONDENCES

 

            Thus far we have surveyed various aspects of the close connection between the house of God and the house of the king: their description in Scripture as a single complex; their construction in succession, and the delay in dedicating the Temple until the building of the house of the king was finished; the location of the house of the king at the foot of the house of God; and the clear parallels in Scripture regarding the style of building and the design of the buildings.

 

            What do these correspondences come to teach us?

 

            Without a doubt we are dealing here with a parallel between the house of the King, King of kings, and the house of the king of flesh and blood, a parallel which reflects the principle that a human king must imitate God, and that his rule on earth must reflect God's rule over the universe (as the Zohar [Bereishit 197a] says: "Kingdom on earth is like kingdom in Heaven").

 

            This very parallelism, however, can lead the king in two opposite directions in his attitude toward God. On the one hand, it can bring him to feel God's closeness and to fear Him, and thus to conduct himself in the way of Torah and mitzvot. Then the king will see his house as standing in the shadow of the Temple, and himself as an instrument for doing God's will and revealing His kingdom in the world (similar to the commandment falling upon the king to have a Torah scroll with him at all times). In this sense, the correspondence between the two houses represents the intimate connection that must exist between the kingdom (and the Davidic kingdom, in particular) and the Temple, in order that the Temple radiate of its sanctity onto the kingdom.

 

            However, the correspondence between the two houses is also liable to bring the king to the opposite feeling: that he resembles the King, King of kings, and parallels him, and that he has similar powers and strengths which allow him to rule without any constraints. In this manner, the closeness does not express the idea that the human kingdom stands in the shadow of the heavenly kingdom, but rather the opposite: that it parallels the kingdom of heaven and can substitute for it. Yechezkel's critique (43:7-9) clearly relates to those kings who chose the second possibility and profaned the Temple with their deeds.

 

            We see then that the physical proximity in and of itself lends itself to two interpretations, for good and for bad. It contains within it a great prospect, for it allows essential intimacy in all of the king's conduct; but at the same time it contains great danger – that the king will see himself as standing alongside God, as it were, and thus he will rule the people from an inappropriate position of power, on the one hand, and cause a great profanation of God if his deeds are inappropriate, on the other. In the last section of this shiur, we shall examine how the prophets related to the monarchy of Shelomo in this context. But first we shall bring as examples two cases in which this closeness brought to a blurring of the proper relationship between a human king and the King of kings.

 

            A phenomenon that repeats itself with several kings is the use made of the Temple treasures to appease foreign kings. Thus we find with Rechavam upon the arrival of Sheshak King of Egypt (I Melakhim 14:25-26); with Assa in his war with Basha (Ibid. 15:17-19); with Chizkiyahu upon the arrival of Sancheriv (II Melakhim 18:14-15); and others. Such actions give expression to the king's feeling that he rules over the Temple and its treasures, and is therefore permitted to do with them as with his own. It stands to reason that the physical closeness and easy access to the Temple contributed to this feeling.

 

In extreme cases not only did the king make use of the Temple treasures, but he actually dismantled parts of the Temple in order to further his own objectives. Thus, we find that Achaz behaved in this manner for the purpose of idol worship – to erect in the house of God an altar to the god of Damesek (compare II Divrei Ha-yamim 28:23 with the allusion in II Melakhim 16:17-18). Chizkiyahu also conducted himself in this manner (II Melakhim 18:15), but only to further his royal objectives.

 

Another case that illustrates in extreme fashion the great danger that lies in the misinterpretation of the proximity of the house of the king to the house of God was Uziyahu's entry into the Temple to burn incense, which teaches us about the blurring of the place and authority assigned to the king, as well as his limitations:

 

But when he was strong, his heart was lifted up to his destruction: for he transgressed against the Lord his God, and went into the temple of the Lord to burn incense upon the altar of incense. And Azaryahu the priest went in after him and with him eighty priests of the Lord, who were men of valor. And they withstood Uziyahu the king, and said to him, It is not for you, Uziyahu, to burn incense to the Lord, but for the priests the sons of Aharon, who are consecrated to burn incense. Go out of the sanctuary, for your have trespassed; for it shall not be for your honor from the Lord God. Then Uziyahu was angry, and had a censer in his hand to burn incense. And while he was angry with the priests, the tzara'at broke out on his forehead before the priests in the house of the Lord, beside the incense altar. And Azaryahu the chief priest, and all the priests, looked upon him, and, behold, he was diseased in his forehead, and they thrust him out quickly from there: and he himself hastened to go out, because the Lord had smitten him. (II Divrei Ha-yamim 26:16-20)[10]

 

VI.       THE HOUSE OF GOD AND THE HOUSE OF THE KING WITH RESPECT TO SHELOMO

 

Thus far we have seen that the location of the royal house above the city but at the foot of the Temple could give expression to the Torah's ideal of monarchy, but it posed an exceedingly great danger if the king did not do the will of God.[11]

 

How are we to judge Shelomo? Did the house that he built give expression to the great opportunity, or perhaps to the great danger? It seems that the house of Shelomo inclines more to the side of the danger, because of a combination of factors:

 

*     The enormity of the royal complex in relation to the size of the Temple.

*     The exceedingly great closeness of the royal complex to the Temple, which turned the entire entity into a single unit, swallowing up the Temple because of its relative smallness.

*     According to the understanding of Chazal, the Milo (see I Melakhim 9:15, 24; 11:27) served as a barrier between the city and the Temple, and not as a bridge between them (a separate shiur will be devoted to the Milo).

 

Yechezkel's harsh prophecy (43:7-9) regarding the kings of Yehuda was delivered at the end of the First Temple period, it would seem that his criticisms apply to the place from the time of its very construction:

 

In the setting of their threshold by My thresholds, and their doorpost by My posts, and only the wall between Me and them, they have defiled My holy name by their disgusting deeds which they have committed: and so I have consumed them in My anger.

 

            This verse was fulfilled already in the days of Shelomo¸ when he began to marry foreign women, erect altars to idols and multiply silver, gold, horses and wives. In the next shiur we shall discuss the factors that led to Shelomo's downfall.

 

(Translated by David Strauss)

 

 


 

 

 

 

 


[1] A similar formulation, which also describes the completion of the two buildings as one, is found in the parallel verse, II Divrei Ha-yamim 7:11.

[2] Earlier this year, in Shiur no. 10, we examined the matter from a slightly different perspective and we related to the significance of conducting the dedication specifically in the month of Tishrei.

[3] See attached map.

[4] The Da'at Mikra commentary on the verse, "Mount Zion, the sides of the north, the city of the great King" (Tehillim 48:2), suggests that Mount Zion is Mount Moriah, which is located to the north of the City of David.

[5] Indeed, at the southern wall excavations, remnants were discovered of a gatehouse and storehooms containing utensils bearing insciptions in the early Hebrew script that could be read as "belonging to the chief [of the bakers, or stables, or treasury]." These structures have been dated to the ninth century, BCE, and they seem to be part of the royal complex.

[6] This explains the clear geographical separation of the Temple from the royal house in the Temple envisioned by Yechezkel.

[7] This is most striking with respect to the first two kings, David and Shaul. Both were first anointed as king by a prophet fulfilling God's agency, and then both were crowned a second time by the people, who accepted the king who had been chosen by God. And likewise we find regarding Shelomo (I Divrei Ha-yamim 29:22).

[8][8] Between the two, the second possibility seems more reasonable, for the description of the house of the forest of Lebanon at the beginning of the chapter appears to be complete and detailed, and there is no mention there of the three porches within the house.

[9] In his book, Si'ach ve-Etz be-Moreshet Yisrael, Ne'ot Kedumim 1984, pp. 108-111.

[10] The relationship between king and prophet is a broad and interesting topic, which we will not be able to deal with in this framework. We will merely offer a concise list of the many halakhot which express the correspondence between the High Priest, who is in charge of the eternal life of the people of Israel, and the king, who is in charge of their temporal life: both are chosen by God, both wear glorious and majestic garments which attest to their office; both have a crown (the High Priest's tzitz is referred to as his crown); both are anointed with the anointing oil; both offices are hereditary; the laws of honor due to the High Priest parallel the laws of honor due to the king; both judge the people; both are responsible for imposing Torah rule.

[11] The house which David built for himself appears to have been located in the city, close to the metzuda in the upper portion of the city, as Ayelet Mazar ("Seridei Armon David ha-Melekh bi-Yerushalayim – Mechkar be-Archeologiya Mikra'it" in: Chiddushim be-Cheker Yerushalayim – Divrei ha-Kenes ha-Sheni) tries to prove on the basis of Scriptural proofs, topographical logic and archeological findings. Excavations conducted by Mazar at the Visitor's Center in Ir David in the summer of 2005 uncovered impressive remains of a public building from the days of David and Shelomo, which might be connected to King David's house/palace. For our purposes, in any event, the location of his house within the city gives expression to David's humility, his feeling of connectedness to the people, and his outlook that the king represents the people – elevated above, but yet part of the people.