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Guy Darshan





As Solomon Builds the Temple, God Warns “Follow My Laws” in MT Not LXX





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Guy Darshan





As Solomon Builds the Temple, God Warns “Follow My Laws” in MT Not LXX








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As Solomon Builds the Temple, God Warns “Follow My Laws” in MT Not LXX

The description of Solomon building and dedicating the Temple in the Masoretic Text (MT) of 1 Kings 6 and 8 differ from their parallels in the Septuagint (LXX). These expansions are written in Pentateuchal language, uncharacteristic of Kings, and reflect the attempt of a later scribe(s) to make these scenes cohere with Priestly theology and style, especially of Leviticus 26.


As Solomon Builds the Temple, God Warns “Follow My Laws” in MT Not LXX

Solomon builds the Temple in Jerusalem, Nicolas Chaperon, after Rafaël, 1649. Rijksmuseum.nl

Solomon Gathers Israel to the Temple: 1 Kgs 8

After building the Temple, Solomon gathers Israel for a lengthy celebration.[1] The passage describing this gathering, 1 Kings 8:1–5, is longer and more detailed in the Masoretic Text than in the parallel text in the LXX, the Septuagint, an ancient translation of the Bible into Greek. Differences are in bold; the Hebrew of LXX is reconstructed from the Greek.[2]



אז יקהל המלך שלמה את כל זקני ישראל ציון להעלות את ארון ברית י־הוה מעיר דוד היא ציון בירח האתנים. וישאו הכהנים את הארון ואת אהל מועד ואת כל כלי הקדש אשר באהל מועד. והמלך וכל ישראל לפני הארון מזבחים צאן ובקר אשר לא יספרו ולא ימנו מרב

אָז יַקְהֵל שְׁלֹמֹה אֶת זִקְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶת כָּל רָאשֵׁי הַמַּטּוֹת נְשִׂיאֵי הָאָבוֹת לִבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶל הַמֶּלֶךְ שְׁלֹמֹה יְרוּשָׁלָ‍ִם לְהַעֲלוֹת אֶת אֲרוֹן בְּרִית יְ־הוָה מֵעִיר דָּוִד הִיא צִיּוֹן. וַיִּקָּהֲלוּ אֶל הַמֶּלֶךְ שְׁלֹמֹה כָּל אִישׁ יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּיֶרַח הָאֵתָנִים בֶּחָג הוּא הַחֹדֶשׁ הַשְּׁבִיעִי. וַיָּבֹאוּ כֹּל זִקְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וַיִּשְׂאוּ הַכֹּהֲנִים אֶת הָאָרוֹן. וַיַּעֲלוּ אֶת אֲרוֹן יְ־הוָה וְאֶת אֹהֶל מוֹעֵד וְאֶת כָּל כְּלֵי הַקֹּדֶשׁ אֲשֶׁר בָּאֹהֶל וַיַּעֲלוּ אֹתָם הַכֹּהֲנִים וְהַלְוִיִּם. וְהַמֶּלֶךְ שְׁלֹמֹה וְכָל עֲדַת יִשְׂרָאֵל הַנּוֹעָדִים עָלָיו אִתּוֹ לִפְנֵי הָאָרוֹן מְזַבְּחִים צֹאן וּבָקָר אֲשֶׁר לֹא יִסָּפְרוּ וְלֹא יִמָּנוּ מֵרֹב

Then King Solomon assembled all the elders of Israel in Zion[3] to bring up the ark of the covenant of the LORD from the city of David, that is, Zion, in the month Ethanin. And the priests lifted the ark and the Tent of Witness and all the holy vessels that were in the Tent of Witness, and the king and all Israel before the ark were sacrificing countless[4] sheep and oxen.

Then Solomon assembled the elders of Israel—all the heads of the tribes and the ancestral chieftains of the Israelites—before King Solomon in Jerusalem, to bring up the ark of the covenant of YHWH from the City of David, that is, Zion. All the men of Israel gathered before King Solomon in the month of Ethanim, at the Feastthat is, the seventh month. And when all the elders of Israel had come, the priests lifted the ark and carried up the ark of YHWH and the Tent of Meeting and all the holy vessels that were in the Tent, and the priests and the Levites brought them. And Solomon the king and all the community of Israel that were assembled with him before the ark, were sacrificing sheep and oxen in such abundance that they could not be numbered or counted.

While the book of Kings is Deuteronomistic, as early as his 1903 commentary, Charles Burney recognized the correspondence in style and content between the additional details in MT and the Priestly text of the Pentateuch.[5]

Priestly Language—Several additions make use of terms common only in the Priestly strata of the Torah. For instance, the detailed description of the attendees in v. 1, —all the heads of the tribes and the ancestral chieftains of the Israelites—the terms מטות, ראשי מטות, נשיא are all typical of P but rare in other biblical texts.[6] Similarly, in verse 5 the MT adds the classically Priestly term עדה “community” as well as the redundant הַנּוֹעָדִים עָלָיו אִתּוֹ “that were assembled with him,” which is also Priestly language (Num 14:35, 16:11).[7]

The Festival and the Date—The LXX includes only the ancient name of the month, Ethanim.[8] The MT glosses the term as “this is the seventh month.” More significantly, it adds that it was on the Festival, i.e., Sukkot. Only the Priestly Texts (Lev 23:33–44 [H]; Num 29:12–39 [P]) give a fixed date for this festival, whereas Deuteronomy 16:13 provides a fluid date: “when you have gathered in the produce from your threshing floor and wine press” (באספך מגרנך ומיקבך), as do other sources (Exod 23:16, 34:22).[9]

Priestly Law—In the LXX, the priests take up the ark. In the MT, the text adds “and the Levites,” the group that is supposed to carry the ark according to Priestly regulation (Numbers 3–4, 7:4–9, 18:1–7).[10]

Burney thus suggested that the book of Kings was edited as a whole by a post-Deuteronomistic priestly editor.[11] However, since these additions only appear in the context of the Temple’s construction, this theory is overstated. Rather than a comprehensive editorial work of the entire book, these expansions in P-like language were added by late scribes in the transmission processes of the various manuscripts.[12] These scribes were influenced by the Pentateuchal style, and such a scribe appears to be responsible for another gloss in the MT of Kings, also in the context of the Temple’s construction.

Solomon Builds the Temple: 1 Kgs 6

The description of Solomon’s building of the Temple is interrupted by YHWH addressing Solomon regarding the Temple. Then, the text returns to Solomon completing the construction of the Temple, with a resumptive repetition (Wiederaufnahme), noted in bold:

מלכים א ו:ט וַיִּבֶן אֶת הַבַּיִת וַיְכַלֵּהוּ וַיִּסְפֹּן אֶת הַבַּיִת גֵּבִים וּשְׂדֵרֹת בָּאֲרָזִים. ו:י וַיִּבֶן אֶת (היצוע) [הַיָּצִיעַ] עַל כָּל הַבַּיִת חָמֵשׁ אַמּוֹת קוֹמָתוֹ וַיֶּאֱחֹז אֶת הַבַּיִת בַּעֲצֵי אֲרָזִים.
1 Kgs 6:9 He constructed the House and completed it. He paneled the House with beams and planks of cedar. 6:10 He built the storied structure against the entire House—each story 5 cubits high, so that it encased the House with timbers of cedar.
ו:יא וַיְהִי דְּבַר יְ־הוָה אֶל שְׁלֹמֹה לֵאמֹר. ו:יב הַבַּיִת הַזֶּה אֲשֶׁר אַתָּה בֹנֶה אִם תֵּלֵךְ בְּחֻקֹּתַי וְאֶת מִשְׁפָּטַי תַּעֲשֶׂה וְשָׁמַרְתָּ אֶת כָּל מִצְו‍ֹתַי לָלֶכֶת בָּהֶם וַהֲקִמֹתִי אֶת דְּבָרִי אִתָּךְ אֲשֶׁר דִּבַּרְתִּי אֶל דָּוִד אָבִיךָ. ו:יג וְשָׁכַנְתִּי בְּתוֹךְ בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וְלֹא אֶעֱזֹב אֶת עַמִּי יִשְׂרָאֵל.
6:11 Then the word of YHWH came to Solomon, 6:12 “With regard to this House you are building—if you follow My laws and observe My rules and faithfully keep My commandments, I will fulfill for you the promise that I gave to your father David: 6:13 I will abide among the children of Israel, and I will never forsake My people Israel.”[13]
ו:יד וַיִּבֶן שְׁלֹמֹה אֶת הַבַּיִת וַיְכַלֵּהוּ. ו:טו וַיִּבֶן אֶת קִירוֹת...
6:14 Solomon constructed the House and completed it. 6:15 He paneled the walls of the House on the inside with planks of cedar.

Whereas the additions in 1 Kings 8:1–5 are all short additions or minor extensions written in a Priestly style, 1 Kings 6:11–14 is a longer block of text adding a new scene into the story, a prophecy to Solomon.

This scene doesn’t seem to connect to anything in the text. YHWH simply delivers the message to Solomon in the middle of his building the Temple, after which the text just picks up where it left off without any sign of acknowledgment on Solomon’s part. Contrast this with God’s dream-speech in chapter 3, to which Solomon then responds, or God’s speech to Solomon in chapter 9, which is in response to Solomon’s long prayer in the previous chapter. Here, in chapter 6, the speech is not part of any narrative context.

Moreover, the introduction to God’s speech to Solomon in chapter 9 seems entirely unaware of this instance of revelation:

מלכים א ט:ב וַיֵּרָא יְ־הוָה אֶל שְׁלֹמֹה שֵׁנִית כַּאֲשֶׁר נִרְאָה אֵלָיו בְּגִבְעוֹן. ט:ג וַיֹּאמֶר יְ־הוָה אֵלָיו שָׁמַעְתִּי אֶת תְּפִלָּתְךָ וְאֶת תְּחִנָּתְךָ אֲשֶׁר הִתְחַנַּנְתָּה לְפָנַי...
1 Kgs 9:2 YHWH appeared to Solomon a second time, as He had appeared to him at Gibeon. 9:3 YHWH said to him, “I have heard the prayer and the supplication which you have offered to Me…”

The text describes God’s revelation to Solomon here as the second instance, noting that the first was at Gibeon. Clearly, the text does not know about the revelation in chapter 6.

All this—the interruptive nature YHWH’s message, the resumptive repetition, the lack of narrative context, and the fact that chapter 9 is unfamiliar with this revelation—suggests that YHWH’s message here is a late addition to the text. This possibility is confirmed by the absence of verses 11–14 in manuscript B, the most important manuscript of the LXX.[14] As it did for 1 Kings 8:1–5, the LXX here reflects an earlier stage in the development of the text.[15]

An Ideological Supplement

While Kings is part of the Deuteronomistic History, the language of the passage is Priestly, and its conceptual framing contradicts Deuteronomistic notions which appear elsewhere in the book.[16]

For example, the concluding verse—וְשָׁכַנְתִּי בְּתוֹךְ בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, “I will dwell among the children of Israel”—depicts God as dwelling in the earthly Temple. The Deuteronomistic History generally works with the notion that only God’s name dwells in the Temple, while God himself dwells in the heavens.[17] As Solomon says in the prayer he recites for the dedication of the new Temple:

מלכים א ח:כז כִּי הַאֻמְנָם יֵשֵׁב אֱלֹהִים עַל הָאָרֶץ הִנֵּה הַשָּׁמַיִם וּשְׁמֵי הַשָּׁמַיִם לֹא יְכַלְכְּלוּךָ אַף כִּי הַבַּיִת הַזֶּה אֲשֶׁר בָּנִיתִי. ח:כח וּפָנִיתָ אֶל תְּפִלַּת עַבְדְּךָ... ח:כט לִהְיוֹת עֵינֶךָ פְתֻחוֹת אֶל הַבַּיִת הַזֶּה לַיְלָה וָיוֹם אֶל הַמָּקוֹם אֲשֶׁר אָמַרְתָּ יִהְיֶה שְׁמִי שָׁם...
1 Kgs 8:27 But will God really dwell on earth? Even the heavens to their uttermost reaches cannot contain You, how much less this House that I have built! 8:28 Yet turn to the prayer and supplication of Your servant… 8:29 May Your eyes be open day and night toward this House, toward the place of which You have said, “My name shall abide there”….

According to this, God watches the Temple from above, and responds to people’s sacrifices and prayers, but he does not dwell in the structure itself. Like the glosses in chapter 8, the supplement here reflects Priestly thinking,[18] in this case, that God dwells amongst the Israelites in the Tabernacle or Temple. This is most evident in the chapters describing the construction of the Tabernacle (mishkan) at the end of Exodus:

שמות כה:ח וְעָשׂוּ לִי מִקְדָּשׁ וְשָׁכַנְתִּי בְּתוֹכָם.
Exod 25:8 And let them make Me a temple that I may dwell among them.
שמות כט:מה וְשָׁכַנְתִּי בְּתוֹךְ בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וְהָיִיתִי לָהֶם לֵאלֹהִים.
Exod 29:45 I will abide among the Israelites, and I will be their God.

The verses in 1 Kings 6 thus appear to have been written by a scribe closely familiar with the Priestly literature, specifically, the Holiness (H) strata. The term משפטַי in v. 12 is a prominent H expression.[19] Moreover, the conditional structure of this pericope is reminiscent of the blessings in Leviticus 26:3–12, which is part of H:

1 Kings 6

Lev 26

יב הַבַּיִת הַזֶּה אֲשֶׁר אַתָּה בֹנֶה


12 As for this House you are building:


אִם תֵּלֵךְ בְּחֻקֹּתַי וְאֶת מִשְׁפָּטַי תַּעֲשֶׂה

ג אִם בְּחֻקֹּתַי תֵּלֵכוּ

If you follow My laws and observe My rules

3 If you follow my laws

וְשָׁמַרְתָּ אֶת כָּל מִצְו‍ֹתַי לָלֶכֶת בָּהֶם

וְאֶת מִצְו‍ֹתַי תִּשְׁמְרוּ וַעֲשִׂיתֶם אֹתָם.

And keep My commandments, following them

And keep my commandments, performing them

וַהֲקִמֹתִי אֶת דְּבָרִי אִתָּךְ

ט ... וַהֲקִימֹתִי אֶת בְּרִיתִי אִתְּכֶם

I will establish my word to you

9… and I will establish my covenant with you

אֲשֶׁר דִּבַּרְתִּי אֶל דָּוִד אָבִיךָ


That I spoke to your father David:


ו:יג וְשָׁכַנְתִּי בְּתוֹךְ בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל

יא וְנָתַתִּי מִשְׁכָּנִי בְּתוֹכְכֶם

6:13 I will dwell among the children of Israel,

11 I will place my dwelling among you

וְלֹא אֶעֱזֹב אֶת עַמִּי יִשְׂרָאֵל

וְלֹא תִגְעַל נַפְשִׁי אֶתְכֶם

And I will never forsake My people Israel.

And my spirit will not spurn you.

This scribe likely added his text after the Pentateuch had attained authoritative status and had begun to exert a great influence on scribes and copyists.[20]

But why was this specific allusion to Leviticus 26 added to the description of the construction of the Temple by Solomon?[21]

Making the Temple Conditional

Although 1 Kings 6:11–14 is formulated in a positive form—“If you follow My laws and observe My rules and faithfully keep My commandments”—and only evokes the language of the blessings in Leviticus 26 as opposed to the curses, as the 11th century commentator R. Joseph Kara noted,

ומכלל הין אתה שומע לאו
The negative may be inferred from the positive.

By alluding to Leviticus 26, this passage thus makes the Temple’s permanency conditional even before its construction has begun. This scribe may have inserted God’s words precisely here because of the following verses, which deal with the construction of the holy of holies: “In the innermost part of the House …” (1 Kgs 6:19), where the ark of the covenant and cherubim would rest, symbolizing the divine presence within the Temple.[22]

Explaining the Destruction

Writing during the post-destruction period, the scribe who added this passage seeks to justify the events that took place by appealing to a caution found in Scripture itself. In doing so, he is expanding upon a theme already present in the book of Kings, since the Deuteronomist strata contains theodicy passages,[23] which restrict the eternity of the promise to the House of David and the Temple by conditional sentences.

For example, after the completion of the Temple, YHWH warns the people:

מלכים א ט:ו אִם שׁוֹב תְּשֻׁבוּן אַתֶּם וּבְנֵיכֶם מֵאַחֲרַי וְלֹא תִשְׁמְרוּ מִצְו‍ֹתַי חֻקֹּתַי אֲשֶׁר נָתַתִּי לִפְנֵיכֶם וַהֲלַכְתֶּם וַעֲבַדְתֶּם אֱלֹהִים אֲחֵרִים וְהִשְׁתַּחֲוִיתֶם לָהֶם. ט:ז וְהִכְרַתִּי אֶת יִשְׂרָאֵל מֵעַל פְּנֵי הָאֲדָמָה אֲשֶׁר נָתַתִּי לָהֶם וְאֶת הַבַּיִת אֲשֶׁר הִקְדַּשְׁתִּי לִשְׁמִי אֲשַׁלַּח מֵעַל פָּנָי וְהָיָה יִשְׂרָאֵל לְמָשָׁל וְלִשְׁנִינָה בְּכָל הָעַמִּים. ט:ח וְהַבַּיִת הַזֶּה יִהְיֶה עֶלְיוֹן כָּל עֹבֵר עָלָיו יִשֹּׁם וְשָׁרָק וְאָמְרוּ עַל מֶה עָשָׂה יְהוָה כָּכָה לָאָרֶץ הַזֹּאת וְלַבַּיִת הַזֶּה. ט:ט וְאָמְרוּ עַל אֲשֶׁר עָזְבוּ אֶת יְ־הוָה אֱלֹהֵיהֶם אֲשֶׁר הוֹצִיא אֶת אֲבֹתָם מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם וַיַּחֲזִקוּ בֵּאלֹהִים אֲחֵרִים (וישתחו) [וַיִּשְׁתַּחֲווּ] לָהֶם וַיַּעַבְדֻם עַל כֵּן הֵבִיא יְ־הוָה עֲלֵיהֶם אֵת כָּל הָרָעָה הַזֹּאת.
1 Kgs 9:6 If you and your descendants turn away from Me and do not keep the commandments and the laws which I have set before you, and go and serve other gods and worship them, 9:7 then I will sweep Israel off the land which I gave them; I will reject the House which I have consecrated to My name; and Israel shall become a proverb and a byword among all peoples. 9:8 And as for this House, once so exalted, everyone passing by it shall be appalled and shall hiss. And when they ask, ‘Why did YHWH do thus to the land and to this House?’ 9:9 they shall be told, ‘It is because they forsook YHWH their God who freed them from the land of Egypt, and they embraced other gods and worshiped them and served them; therefore YHWH has brought all this calamity upon them.’

The late scribe who added 1 Kgs 6:11–14 was not satisfied with this and added the conditional sentence in H style in the description of the Temple’s construction itself, implying that already in the days of the Temple’s building God reminded Solomon of the Pentateuchal treaty.

Post-exilic readers would understand the message: YHWH removed His presence from the Temple, allowing it to be destroyed because Israel did not meet the conditions laid out in the Torah and reiterated to Solomon while the Temple was being constructed.


May 5, 2021


Last Updated

May 26, 2024


View Footnotes

Dr. Guy Darshan is a faculty member in the department of Biblical Studies at Tel Aviv University. He holds a Ph.D. from the Hebrew University and served as a Harry Starr Fellow in Judaica in the Center for Jewish Studies at Harvard University. His book, After the Flood: Stories of Origins in the Hebrew Bible and Ancient Mediterranean Literature [Hebrew].