Melachim 1/Kings 1 – Chapter 8:  The inauguration of the Temple

Chapter 8:  The inauguration of the Temple

1.      Bringing the ark of God to the temple:

  • The gathering for the ceremony: After the building of the temple, King Shlomo gathered all of the elders of Israel and all of the leaders of the tribes to Jerusalem for the purpose of escorting the ark of God in the city of David, which is Zion, [to the new temple that he built].
  • The date: All the people of Israel gathered by King Shlomo in the seventh month which is the month of to Tishreiy.
  • The ark is carried: All the elders the of Israel arrived and the priests carried the ark. The Kohanim and Levites carried the Aron of Hashem [from the city of David until the temple of King Shlomo].
  • The Ohel of Moshe and its vessels: Likewise, the Ohel Moed [of Moshe[1]] and all the vessels that were in the Ohel Moed [of Moshe] were carried by them [and stored in a special designated area].
  • The ceremony of offerings: King Shlomo and all the Jewish people who had gathered by him in front of the ark slaughtered sheep and cattle. There were so many offerings brought that it was uncountable.
  • The positioning of the ark: The Aron of Hashem was brought to its set place, inside the holy of holies, under the wings of the cherubim [that King Shlomo had built which stood on their legs, and is independent of the cherubim that were on the actual ark cover[2]]. The wings of the Cherubim were spread over the ark, completely hovering over it and it’s poles [as it spread from wall-to-wall in the holy of holies[3]].
  • The poles of the Aron: The poles of the Aron were so long that they protruded out into the Paroches [appearing similar to the two nipples of a woman[4]]. They, however, were not seen from the outside, and have not been removed from there until this very day. [This means that they were never removed from the Aron and were hidden together with it in the days of Yoshiyahu the king.[5]]
  • The items contained within the Aron: The only items contained within the Aron were the two Luchos which were made of stone, and were placed into there by Moshe while he was by Mount Chorev at the time that God made a covenant with the Jewish people when they left Egypt [i.e. Matan Torah].

2.      The Shechina resides on the temple:

  • After the priests left the holy of holies a cloud [of God] came and filled the house of God [i.e. the Heichal[6]]. The priests were unable to perform the temple service due to this presence of God that filled the house of God.
  • The reaction of King Shlomo to the appearance of God’s presence in the temple: When Shlomo saw the divine presence resting on the temple that he built he proclaimed, “God has stated that he will dwell in a thick cloud. I have built a house of dwelling for you, a place which will be an everlasting location for your presence.”

3.      The king praises and blesses God:

  • The king turned his face around to bless the Jewish people. The Jewish people stood during the blessing.
  • The blessing: King Shlomo said the following: Blessed be Hashem the God of Israel who has kept his promise to David my father [and allow the temple to successfully be built and dwell His presence on it].
  • Shlomo recalls the promise that God gave Dovid: God had said the following words to my father David: From the day I took my nation Israel out from Egypt I have not chosen a city from amongst all the tribes of Israel to have a house built for My name there and I chose David to be appointed over my nation Israel. And so it was in the heart of my father David to build a house for Hashem the God of Israel. Hashem then said to David my father, being that you had intended to build a house for the sake of my name I will therefore do good with your heart [and help you be successful in fulfilling your intents]. However, you shall not build the house, but rather your son who comes out of your loins he will build a house for my name.
  • Shlomo states that God has fulfilled His promise: Hashem has fulfilled his word that he spoke, and I have risen under my father David and sat on the throne of Israel as God has spoken and I have built a house for the sake of God, the God of Israel. I have made a space therefore the ark of covenant of God, which represents the covenant that he made with our forefathers when he took them out of Egypt.
  • Shlomo praises God: Shlomo then stood in front of the altar of God, opposite the congregation of Israel, and he spread his hands towards the heavens, and he said the following: Hashem God of Israel there is no God like you in the heavens above and in the earth down under. He is one who guards his covenant and kindness to the servant that follows after him faithfully. You have guarded that which you spoke to my father, your servant David.

4.      The king prays to God:

  • Shlomo prays to God accept his prayers: Now, God of Israel, please guard also that which you spoke to my father, your servant David, that You shall not cut off anyone from the throne [i.e. You should allow the monarchy to continue forever] so long as your children follow Your path and follow the same path as that of David’s [in his loyalty to you]. Now, God of Israel, please fulfill your word that you spoke to my father, your servant David. As is it really possible that you God will dwell on the earth after even the heavens and heavens of heavens are not able to hold you? How much more so is this temple that I built for You not able to contain You. Please turn to the prayer of your servant ,and to the supplication, Hashem my God. Please listen to the song and to the prayer that your servant is praying in front of You today. Please allow Your eyes to be open day and night to this house which You said that You will dwell Your name on, and please listen to the prayer that your servant prays in this place. And please listen to the supplication that your servant and the nation of Israel pray to this place. Let You hear our prayers in heaven and forgive us.
  • Shlomo requests that God punish those who sin to their friend: One who sins to his friend and swears falsely to him in front of the altar of this this house You shall hear of this in heaven and judge and condemn the wicked, and do justification for the righteous. [Some interpret this to refer to one who committed adultery with another man’s wife, and that King Shlomo is praying that the Sotah waters be successful in judging both the adulterous and adulterer.[7]]
  • Shlomo requests that God listen to the prayers of the Jewish people when they repent and ask to be successful in war: When the Jewish people are smitten by their enemies due to their sins and they repent and return to You and pray to You and praise Your name in this home, then please heed to their prayers and forgive the sins of the Jewish people and bring them back to the land of their fathers.
  • A prayer for rain: King Shlomo prayed to God that: When there is a drought and the heavens refuse to give rain because the Jewish people have sinned to you, then when they repent and return to You and pray to You and praise Your name in this home, then please heed to their prayers and forgive the sins of the Jewish people and give rain to the land that you have given your nation as an inheritance.
  • A prayer against famine and epidemics and a siege by the enemy, and to accept the prayers of the Jewish people for all matters: King Shlomo prayed to God that: When there is a famine in the land, or an epidemic, or locusts who will destroy the crops, or a siege by the enemies, or any illness, please listen to any prayer and supplication of any person of the nation of Israel that he will have for any issue that he may be suffering from, when he spreads his hands open in this home in prayer. You shall hear in the heavens where You dwell and forgive what he has done and provide for him that which he is asking for as You know in his heart, as You alone know the heart of man. Do this so that they may fear You throughout all the days that they live on the face of the earth which You have given to our forefathers.
  • A prayer for the Gentiles: Please also listen to the prayers of the Gentiles who are not from the nation of Israel who come from a distant land for the sake of your name, due to them hearing of Your great name and of Your strong arm, and have therefore come to pray in this home. Please listen in heaven where You dwell to their prayers and do all that they ask of You in order so all of the nations of the world will know of Your name and fear You as does the nation Israel, and that they should know that Your name hovers over this house which I built.
  • A prayer for during war: When your nation goes out in war against its enemy and have to pray to You on the road, let their prayers travel through this house that I built for Your name. Listen in heaven to their prayer and supplication and do justice [on their behalf against their enemies[8]].
  • The prayer for during exile: If the Jewish people sin against You, which is inevitable being that there is no man who does not sin, and You punish them and give them over to their enemies and have them be taken captive to a distant or nearby enemy territory, then when they repent from their ways in that foreign country and pray to You over there saying that they have sinned and return to You with all their heart and soul in the land of their enemies which there being held captive in, then listen to their prayers. Let their prayers pass through this land that You have chosen and the house that I have built for Your name. Hear their prayers and supplication in the heavens where You dwell and do justice [against their enemies who had no mercy on them[9]]. You shall forgive Your nation that have sinned to You and all of the iniquities that they have transgressed against You and You shall place mercy before their captors so they have mercy on them. As they are your nation and your inheritance which you took at of Egypt from the furnace of iron. Let Your eyes be open to the supplications of Your servant and supplication of all your nation Israel to listen to them in all that they call to You. As You have separated them as an inheritance from all the nations of the world as You have spoken to Moses your servant when You took our forefathers from Egypt.

5.      King Solomon finishes his prayer and blesses the Jewish people:

  • When Shlomo completed all of his prayers and supplications to God, he got up from kneeling on his knees from in front of the altar of God while his hands were raised to the heavens.
  • Shlomo stood up and blessed the entire congregation of Israel in a very loud voice saying: “Blessed be God who has given rest for His nation Israel as He has spoken. He has not failed in fulfilling any of his promises that he stated to Moshe his servant. May Hashem our God be with us as He was with our forefathers may He not leave us or forsake us. May He draw our hearts to go in His ways and guard His commands which He commanded our forefathers. May the words of supplication that I have brought before God be close to Hashem our God by day and night, and may He perform justice for His servant and justice for His nation Israel each day. May He do so, so the nations of the world know that Hashem is God and there is none other than Him. May our heart be complete with Hashem our God to follow His commands and statutes like on this day.”

6.      The sacrifices offered by the inauguration of the temple:

  • The king and all the Jewish people who were with him offered sacrifices before God.
  • Shlomo slaughtered Shelamim offerings for God. He sacrificed 22,000 cattle, and 120,000 sheep.
  • The house of God was thus inaugurated by the king and all the Jewish people.
  • The floor in the courtyard is sanctified as an altar for offerings: On that day the king consecrated the inside of the courtyard which was before the house of God [i.e. the floor of the Azarah which was in front of the Heichal and where the altar stood]. [This was done because there was not enough room to bring all the multitude of offerings by the altar and therefore King Solomon sanctified also the floor to be able to offer sacrifices there.[10]] There he offered the sacrifices of the Olah and Mincha and the fats of the Shelamim, as the copper altar which was in front of God was too small to absorb all of these offerings of the Olah and Mincha and the fats of the Shelamim.

7.      The celebration of the inauguration of the temple:

  • At that time Shlomo made a festival [to celebrate the inauguration of the temple].
  • The people present: A great congregation assembled to celebrate the festival. All of the Jewish people came from Chamas [in the north of Israel[11]] until the river of Egypt to celebrate before God.
  • The length and date of the festival: The festival lasted for two consecutive weeks, for a total of 14 days [seven days for the actual inauguration and then another seven days for the holiday of Sukkos in which the inauguration took place in proximity to, hence causing the Jewish people to eat and drink and celebrate even on Yom Kippur[12]].
  • The people return home on the eighth day: On the eighth day, the nation was dismissed from the festival, and they blessed their king when they departed. They returned to their tents in a delighted and rejoiced mood for all the good that God had done to David His servant and to His nation Israel.

[1] Rashi 8:4

[2] Rashi 8:6

[3] Rashi 8:7

[4] Rashi 8:8

[5] See Radak and Metzudos Dovid 8:8

[6] Rashi 8:10

[7] Rashi 8:31

[8] Rashi 8:45

[9] Metzudos Dovid 8:49

[10] Rashi 8:64; Zevachim 59a

[11] Rashi 8:65

[12] Rashi 8:65

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