Sunday School Lesson #26

June 30, 2006 | 20 comments
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Lesson 26: 1 Kings 3; 5-11

The Story

This week’s lesson focuses on the construction of the first temple. Previously there had been many places for offering sacrifices and several buildings that we would call temples. But this is the first one built on the site traditionally associated with Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac. As this temple came to prominence, it overshadowed the others and, by the time of the return from Babylon, was the only one recognized. The first two chapters of 1 Kings are the background for that temple-building.

Chapters 1-2 deal with the final days of David, when his son, Adonijah, aided by the captain of the army, Joab, and one of the two chief priests, Abiathar, attempted a coup. Nathan and Bathsheba, Solomon’s mother, entered into their own plot, telling David (who had previously promised that Solomon would be king) what Adonijah was doing. David’s solution is to have Zadok, the other chief priest, anoint Solomon co-regent.

By the way, the term “Sadducees” in the New Testament may mean “Zadokite.” The high priest of the Temple in the 1st century was not a Zadokite, but a Hasmonean. After the exile in Babylon, Ezekiel declared that only descendants of Zadok could perform all of the priestly duties in the Temple. As part of internal intrigue and treachery, the priest descended from the line of Zadok, Jason, was replaced by Menelaus in 171 BC. When, led by the Hasmonian family, Israel revolted against Antiochus IV (the king of the Seleucid empire of Asia minor who had appointed Menelaus—the Seleucid empire was one of four into which the territory of Alexander was divided after his death in 324 BC), they were allowed to throw out the usurper. However, since the priests descended from Zadok had all fled to Elephantine, in Egypt, there was no one to serve as high priest. So the Hasmonean family too the office, with the understanding that they were doing so only temporarily, until a descendent of Zadok could be found to be made the high priest.

By the beginning of chapter 3, Adonijah and Joab have been killed and Abiathar (from Eli’s posterity) has been banished from the court (and later executed). This means that Zadok is the sole priest over Israel, and it fulfills the prophecy pronounced on Eli (from whom Abiathar descends—1 Samuel 2:30-35).

In chapter 3, the Lord comes to Solomon in a dream and gives him the gift of wisdom, which he demonstrates by deciding between the two women and the baby. Chapters 5-7 tell of Solomon building the temple (chapter 4 is a list of the officers in Solomon’s court and the lands over which he ruled). Chapters 9-10 tell of Solomon’s power and reign, including the visit of the Queen of Sheba. Chapter 11 tells about the revolt led by Jeroboam and Solomon’s death. His son, Rehoboam reigns after him.

Chapter 3

Verses 1-3: Why do you think that the writer refers to “Pharoah’s daughter,” never using her name? How would Israel have felt about the king marrying the daughter of their former masters? What would that marriage show about the present relation of Israel to Egypt? (Note: the phrase “city of David” reflects 2 Samuel 5:6-9, in which David’s men take Jerusalem as his possession.) Leviticus 17:3-4 forbids Israel from offering sacrifice any place but at the tabernacle. How do you understand that, given the sacrifices we have seen offered, including by prophets, at other places before this? How does that prohibition help us understand what these verses tell us?

Note: The term translated “high places” doesn’t necessarily designate a high place, nor does it necessarily refer to places of idolatry. Its most obvious use is just as a reference to places in other cities where sacrifices had been offered. It is easy to see, in the end of verse 4, the editing of a later person. For the editor, sacrifice at any spot other than the Jerusalem temple is unacceptable, but he has to deal with the fact that Solomon offered sacrifice at another place because that is the location of Solomon’s dream.

Verse 7: How seriously should we take Solomon’s claim that he is only a little child? (Compare 1 Kings 11:42, 14:21.) What is the point of saying that he is young if he is old enough to have an adult son? What does this show us about Solomon?

Verses 8-9: Literally, Solomon asks for a “listening heart.” What does Solomon’s request show about his character? What does he value?

Verses 16-27: How does Solomon’s judgment show that he has the kind of wisdom needed to govern a kingdom?

Chapter 5

Verses 3-5: Why did David’s involvement in war prevent him from building the Temple? What might this teach us about our own lives? What is required to build the kingdom of God?

Chapter 6

Verse 7: What is the significance of the claim that no iron tools were heard on the construction site of the Temple?

Verses 12-13: What does it mean to walk in the Lord’s statutes? To execute his judgments? What is the significance of the promise that the Lord makes here? What does it mean for Israel to be forsaken by God? What does it mean for an individual to be forsaken by him?

Verses 23-25: Except that they were winged creatures, we know little about the cherubim. Since each wing was 5 cubits wide, the four wings together would have been 20 cubits wide, assuming no space between them. Since the Holy of Holies was 20 cubits wide, we have to make that assumption, which means that the wings of the cherubim stretched entirely across the room. Why do you think the Lord had them place cherubim in the Holy of Holies? How does this commandment accord with the prohibition against graven images in the Ten Commandments?

Chapter 7

Verse 7: This verse tells us that Solomon’s throne room was part of the temple. What does that say about the Israelite understanding of the relation of religion and the king?

Verse 44: Why do you think the “sea� had twelve oxen underneath it? Why oxen rather than another animal?

Chapter 8

Verses 15-53: How does this dedicatory prayer compare to other temple dedicatory prayers, such as that of the Kirtland Temple or of the new Nauvoo Temple? Why is the king rather than the high priest or the prophet offering the dedicatory prayer for the Temple? The word “name” occurs in this prayer 14 times (verses 16-20, 29, 33, 35, 41-44, and 48). Why? Notice the things that Solomon prays for: to keep the covenant he had made with David (verses 25-26), to forgive trespasses between Israelites (31-32), to forgive the sins that had caused Israel to lose battles (33-34), to forgive the sins that had brought a drought (35-36), to forgive their sins that might cause other disasters (37-40), on behalf of non-Israelites who come to Israel “for the name’s sakeâ€? (41-420, for victory in battle (44-45) and restoration after captivity (46-51), and that the Lord would hear the prayers of the Israelites (52-53). How are our concerns like theirs? How different? What can you see in this prayer that is emblematic of Israel’s relation to Christ? Do you think that Solomon’s prayer for restoration after captivity was prophetic? Did he have the captivity in mind that was to occur almost 500 years later, at the time of Zedekiah?

Verses 62-63: Why sacrifice so many animals? What would that show? Are these numbers literal or do they serve another purpose? If they serve another purpose, what is it?

Chapter 9

Verse 1: Originally the word “Zion” referred only to the southern portion of the hill on the south side of Jerusalem. The name was extended to include the temple compound and, finally, to include all of Jerusalem. How is its historical meaning relevant to its contemporary meaning?

Verse 2: The Lord appeared to Solomon at Gibeon (1 Kings xxx) and promised Solomon wisdom. Here we see the Lord giving him that wisdom. How is the Lord’s promise related to the completion of the Temple?

Verse 3: Why can only the Lord make something holy (“hallowed”)? Solomon’s Temple was destroyed when Israel was carried into captivity in Babylon. So, what does it mean for the Lord to say that he has put his name in that temple forever and his eyes and heart will be there perpetually?

Verses 4-5: Why does the Lord say that David walked before him “in integrity of heart, and in uprightness”? Isn’t that an odd way to describe David after he had Uriah killed? See 2 Samuel 7:16 and 1 Kings 22:4 for the promise that the Lord made to David.

Chapter 10

Why are verses 1-11 included in the story? Why are verses 12-13 included? Verses 14-23? Verses 24-29?

Chapter 11

Verses 1-4: In 1 Kings 9:6-9, the Lord warned what would happen if Israel departed from the Lord. In Deuteronomy 7:3-4, Israel was warned of what would happen if they married “strange,” in other words, foreign, non-Israelite, people. What do you think that warning meant, given the number of marriages we have seen between prominent Israelites (such as Moses) and non-Israelite women? How do you think it was possible for Solomon to become an idolater? Is there anything comparable that happens in our lives, something that probably seems natural to us and probably requires no conscious decision? In what sense was David’s heart whole but Solomon’s was not?

Verse 3: The numbers 700 and 300 are probably not meant literally. Nevertheless, it wasn’t unknown for kings to have huge harems as demonstrations of his wealth, power, and prestige. Is there a relation between that desire to demonstrate his power (something a king needs to do) and his turn to idolatry?

The writer of this story imputes merely base motives to Solomon, but we can imagine that Solomon saw matters differently: The marriages were politically strategic. The shrines he had built around the city had two purposes. First, they allowed those from other lands who had come to Jerusalem the possibility of worshiping their own gods—freedom of worship. Second, by locating them outside but near the city, and by making their presence a matter of privilege, they showed that those gods were subject to Yahweh. If those were Solomon’s motives, what was wrong with what he did?

Verse 9: How do you explain the fact that Solomon twice had a vision of the Lord and, nevertheless, turned from him?

Verse 12: What principle do we see at work here? Can you think of other instances of this principle, positive and negative?

Verses 15-17: This may be the same war described in 2 Samuel 8:13-14. In verse 17 notice that, as it does throughout ancient near eastern history, Egypt serves as a refuge for those who flee Israel and its neighbors. (See also verse 40.)

Verse 14: The Hebrew word translated “adversary” is “satan,” the word from which we get the name for Satan. To whom is Satan an adversary?
Verses 15 and 23-24: Is it significant that two of those who come against Solomon were made enemies by his father?

Verse 27: How is this a reason for Jeroboam’s revolt? What is missing?

Verses 30-31: How does this event compare to 1 Samuel 15:27-28?

Verses 31 and 37: In the first, Jeroboam is given 10 tribes to rule over. In the second, he is given rule over all that he desires. Are these the same?

20 Responses to Sunday School Lesson #26

  1. Clinton on June 30, 2006 at 6:14 pm

    You mentioned that there were 2 High Priests one named Abiathar and the other named Zadok. Why are there 2 High Priests?

  2. Aaron Brown on July 1, 2006 at 6:37 pm

    Is my ward just behind the rest of the Church by one chapter, or is T&S just one chapter ahead of everybody else?

    Aaron B

  3. Nehringk on July 1, 2006 at 10:21 pm

    Jim:

    Is there some profound reason this was posted twice (originally on 6/19), or could it simply be that your advanced age caused you to forget that you had already posted it?

    With a wink,

    Karl Nehring

  4. Bored in Vernal on July 2, 2006 at 5:08 pm

    Well, we _almost_ had an interesting conversation in Gospel Doctrine today…were it not for the fact that we ran out of time after spending 40 minutes on the two women and their half-a-baby. (arrrggghhh) Speaking of the dedicatory prayer Solomon gives and comparing it to the dedication of the Vernal Temple, the teacher read this passage from Gordon B. Hinckley’s dedication:

    “May there come about a reconciliation of feelings between the descendants of Lehi and those who have come to reside in these valleys. May old animosities be dispelled, and may there come a renewed spirit of brotherhood and love and respect.”

    Then we had to close, because the bell rang. But this quote seemed unusual to me. I think it’s one of the only passages in one of the modern temple dedications that expresses any kind of regret for the sins we might have committed. What I really like about Solomon’s prayer is the admission of “every man the plague of his own heart…for there is no man that sinneth not,” and the supplication for forgiveness that permeates this chapter.

    In an (admittedly) quick perusal of some of the recent temple dedications I see so many expressions along the lines of “bless and prosper this people for their great faithfulness.” If one reads enough of them, one begins to sense a Rameumptom-like feeling dramatically opposed to the sincere repentance offered by Solomon for a people who have “sinned, and have done perversely, we have committed wickedness.” Solomon pleads to the Lord that he will hearken, forgive, and maintain their cause if they will turn again to him, confess his name, and pray, and turn from their sin.

    Another point I would like to explore is whether Solomon did hold some type of prophetic/priestly authority in addition to his monarchal status. In 1 Kings 8 he blesses the congregation of Israel, prays to the Lord in their behalf, dedicates the House of the Lord, offers sacrifice, hallows the outer court of the temple, and holds a feast. Apparently the High Priests are present, but they are not mentioned by name, and seem to have little function in these ceremonies beside bringing the ark of the Covenant into the holy place.

  5. Jim F. on July 2, 2006 at 5:50 pm

    Clinton: I don’t know.

    Aaron Brown: I think I am a week behind most of the Church in my Sunday School class, but I try to keep the study questions at least one week ahead of where I assume most other people are. In other words, I haven’t a clue whether you are behind or up with or ahead.

    Karl Nehring: Unfortunately, you have hit the nail on the head. When I posted it originally I failed to mark its category as “Sunday School Lesson – All.” So, when I looked to see where I was, though I thought I recollected posting it, I didn’t see it with the rest of the Sunday School lessons. Assuming, correctly, that my memory couldn’t be counted on, I posted it again. It just goes to show that my memory can be counted on, but not my ability to post correctly.

    Bored in Vernal: Thanks for pointing to that part of President Hinckley’s prayer. I too think we need to hear more of that kind of thing rather than more praise. As for your question about Solomon’s authority, my answer is the same as it was to Clinton: I don’t know.

    Thanks all for adding to the discussion of the study questions.

  6. Bored in Vernal on July 4, 2006 at 11:05 am

    There’s an interesting explanation of the existence of the two high priests at http://parablemania.ektopos.com/archives/2006/06/eleazars_line.html
    that involves the decentralization of Israel and localized priestly families. Check it out.

  7. Jeremy Pierce on July 4, 2006 at 12:22 pm

    In addition to my discussion at the linked post (thanks for the link, by the way), there\’s one further factor. In the list of David’s chief officials at the end of II Samuel 8, there seem to be two of most of his major positions, though several of them have job titles that aren’t duplicates. They do seem to be similar functions, though. He may have just been politically savvy in not giving anyone too much responsibility. Having two chief priests does fulfill this motivation that David does seem to have gone by with other positions. But I do think the other stuff is the primary reason.

  8. Mark on July 10, 2006 at 12:20 pm

    Some of this lesson focuses on Soloman’s temple itself. You all might be interested in some links to an article discussing some parts of the architecture of Solomon’s temple and its meaning at http://www.aiwaz.net/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=22, and http://www.aiwaz.net/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=21

    Since the Temple design was revealed by God (also the case with our modern Temples!), and God’s revelations are the source of truth with the purpose of redemption, then you could argue that the Temple itself is a form of scripture and that it’s position, symbolism, design patterns, and architectural style is purposeful and important for us to learn, much the same way anything else revealed from God is.

  9. Jim F. on July 11, 2006 at 7:23 pm

    Bored in Vernal, Jeremy Peirce, and Mark — thanks all for adding a lot of interesting material. Those studying these chapters and those preparing lessons will find this material useful.

  10. The Wiz on July 12, 2006 at 6:22 pm

    Just a question that might expose me as the ignoramus I am – what evidence is there that Solomon’s temple is on the spot where Abraham took Isaac for sacrifice? Is this just speculation, or is there something scriptural that talks about it, or other sources that confirm it?

  11. Jim F. on July 12, 2006 at 7:16 pm

    The Wiz: As far as I know, it is a very old tradition, but that’s all.

  12. Viviana on July 15, 2006 at 1:47 am

    Aaron don’t worry, you’re probably behind because of a Stake confererence, a Ward Conference or like in my case, because the first Sunday of this year we only have Sacrament Meeting.

  13. nhilton on July 16, 2006 at 7:01 pm

    Jim, you should see the JST on Ch. 11 v. 4. It’s not in the footnotes but the point is that David’s heart WASN’T whole. JST “…and his (Solomon’s) heart was not perfect with the Lord his God and it became as the heart of David his father.” Super important! This JST correction is necessary again & again throughout 1 Kings. See Old Testament Student Manual on this point.

  14. Bored in Vernal on July 17, 2006 at 1:53 am

    #13 Thanks for pointing that out. I went to the Hebrew on the phrase in question and it reads (transliterated)

    v’lo-ha.ya l’va.vo sha.lem im-a.do.nay e.lo.hav kil.vav da.vid a.viv
    literally: “and not was his heart whole with Lord his God as heart (of) David his father”

    It is standard practice to add articles and forms of the verb “to be” in translating Hebrew to English. But in some cases it is not so clear whether these insertions should be made. You can see in this case how the translation will be subject to the translator’s opinion as to whether or not David was righteous.

  15. Bored in Vernal on July 17, 2006 at 2:02 am

    #10 Wikipedia says:
    Moriah – the chosen of YHWH. Some contend that Mount Gerizim is meant, but most probably we are to regard this as one of the hills of Jerusalem. Here Solomon’s Temple was built, on the spot that had been the threshing-floor of Ornan the Jebusite (2 Sam. 24:24, 25; 2 Chr. 3:1). It is usually included in Zion, to the north-east of which it lay, and from which it was separated by the Tyropoean valley. Others conjecture that Moriah refers to the mountainous ridge in its entirety which would place the peak of Moriah not at the Temple Mount (741m elevation) but at the hill of Golgotha (777m elevation). This was “the land of Moriah” to which Abraham went to offer up his son Isaac (Gen. 22:2). It has been supposed that the highest point of the temple hill, which is now covered by the Islamic Qubbat As-Sakhrah, or “Dome of the Rock”, is the actual site of Araunah’s threshing-floor. Here also, one thousand years after Abraham, David built an altar and offered sacrifices to God.

    read more in depth about Moriah at
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moriah

  16. Robert C. on July 23, 2006 at 1:23 am

    Regarding #13, I found the comment about the JST and David here (see 1-17). What I find interesting, even puzzling, is that in 1 Kgs 9:4 there is no JST correction made to the following suggestion of David having a good heart:

    “And if thou wilt walk before me, as David thy father walked, in integrity of heart, and in uprightness, to do according to all that I have commanded thee, and wilt keep my statutes and my judgments;”

    Should we take this as a passage that Joseph didn’t get around to correcting yet, or is this passage referring to a different period in David’s life or a different aspect of his heart? Are we take the 1 Kgs 11 changes as canonical along with the unchanged text in 1 Kgs 9??

    I’m personally inclined to take the tension between the views on David in 1 Kgs 9 and JST of 1 Kgs 11 as evidence of David’s complex character. He was so good in so many ways, and yet made such poor decisions regarding Bathsheba and Uriah…. Joseph Smith seems to take a very negative view of David in 1 Kgs 11 and in the D&C so I find his “omission” in 1 Kgs 9 somehow comforting. I may be wresting the significance of this omission, but to me it speaks to God’s mercy and ability to recognize good in us even when/after we do bad things (I’m reminded of the onion in The Brothers K where a wretched woman once gave an onion to a beggar and from this act was given a chance to escape from hell–though in the story she squandered the chance through her small-minded selfishness…).

  17. Robert C. on July 23, 2006 at 9:16 am

    (The same issue arises implicitly in 11:12 where God said to Solomon, “Notwisthstanding thy days I will not [rend the kingdom from thee] for David they father’s sake.”)

  18. Jim F. on July 27, 2006 at 11:25 pm

    nhilton (#13): Thanks for pointing out the JST change. I certainly didn’t notice it. I think Robert C is right though, there are other unchanged passages that suggest that David’s relation to the Lord is complicated.

    Bored in Vernal (#15): I am certainly not a Hebrew scholar, but don’t think the Hebrew as we have it coincides with Joseph’s Smith’s revision. I’ve just looked at seven or eight other Bibles, and neither they nor the commentaries I have take 1 Kings 11:4 to mean that David’s heart was not whole. But perhaps I misunderstood your remark.

  19. tim on August 11, 2006 at 3:17 pm

    Was wondering if any one had insight into chapter 8:41 regarding a \’strangers\’ invitation to the temple? Was this strictly an invitation to face the temple and pray toward it for blessings; or was there some exception where a stranger could gain partial admittance to the temple grounds and services? How does this truly relate to our day – more than the platitdue that our neighborhoods are blessed by having a temple in their presence?

  20. Jim F. on August 11, 2006 at 11:44 pm

    tim: there aren’t 41 verses in chapter 8 of 2 Kings. Was that a typo or are you asking about a different book?

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