Exegesis of 2.Chronicles 7:1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mag. Claudia R. Wintoch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Introduction to Biblical Hebrew

Ken Lundeen

 

 

 

 

 

 

World Revival School of Ministry

Fall Trimester 2002

 

1. The Passage

 

When Solomon finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the LORD filled the temple. (NIV)

 

~Iy;m'V;hem h'd.r'y vea'h.w leL;P.tih.l h{m{l.v tw{L;k.k.W
tIy'B;h-t,a ael'm h'wh.y dw{b.k.W ~yix'b.Z;h.w h'l{['h l;ka{T;w

 

we-kkalot shelomoh lehit-palal we-ha-’esh yarad-ah me-ha-shamayim

we-to-’kal ha-‘olah we-ha-zebachim we-kabod Yahweh male’ ‘et-ha-bayit

 

2. Context Study

 

2.1. General Context

The first and second book of Chronicles used to be one single book, and have therefore been written by the same author also. Neither book mentions the name of the author, but according to Jewish tradition, it was Ezra. Another hint is that the last few verses of 2.Chronicles are identical with the first few of the book of Ezra. It is therefore very possible that Ezra was the second volume to Chronicles, with the scribe and priest Ezra as their author, having similar style, vocabulary and contents.[1]

Second Chronicles closes with king Cyrus’s decree that allowed the Jews to return to Judah, which took place in 538 B.C.. However, king Jehoiachin’s genealogy (1.Chronicles 3) contains descendants beyond that date, so that the suggested time when second Chronicles was written is between 425 and 400 B.C..

The books of Chronicles were written in the time period after the exile, when the Persian Empire was dominant and when the remnant of God's chosen people needed to be encouraged in their faith. The Chronicles were a reminder of God's faithfulness in the past, and exhorted the people to obey the Law to return to their former glory and splendor.

Second Chronicles can be divided into two main sections. Chapters 1-9 describe king Solomon’s reign. His story ends suddenly, and the chronicler continues by recording the events in the kingdom of Judah until the Babylonian captivity. The book can be outlined as follows: [2]

I.       The Reign of Solomon (1-9)

A.    Solomon Stabilizes the Kingdom (1)

B.    Building and Dedication of the Temple (2-7)

C.    The Greatness of Solomon (8-9)

II.    The Kingdom of Judah (10-36)

A.    Decline: Rehoboam and Abijah (10-13)

B.    Revival: Asa and Jehoshaphat (14-21)

C.    Decline: Jehoram, Ahaziah, and Athaliah (21-22)

D.    Revival: Joash to Jotham (23-27)

E.     Decline: Ahaz (28)

F.     The Remaining Kings of Judah (29-36)

Second Chronicles 7:1 is part of the account when Solomon’s temple was being dedicated to the Lord.

 

 

2.2. Immediate Preceding Context

The first few words of 7:1 tell us what precedes this verse. In 6:12-42 Solomon’s prayer of dedication is recorded. The last verse of the preceding chapter ends with the words “Remember the great love promised to David your servant”. The following verse – our chosen passage – shows God’s answer by the way He responds, obviously remembering David and giving a favorable answer to Solomon.

 

2.3. Immediate Following Context

Verse 2 of the seventh chapter shows the effect God's answer had on the priests, verse 3 the effect on the people. Verse 4 and following show Solomon’s response, as well as the priests’, who offered extravagant sacrifices to the Lord.

 

2.4. Internal Connection

Second Chronicles 7:1 is one complete sentence, consisting of two main clauses and one subordinate clause in English. In Hebrew, no subordinate clause exists, but there are three main clauses, which are all connected by the conjunction and. The first clause consists of two verbs in an infinitive form, expressing posteriority, with the subject Solomon. The second main clause starts with the word fire instead of the verb, which puts emphasis on that noun. That subject does two things – it came down, followed by the object of place, and it consumed, followed by two objects. The third main clause, connected to the first one by the conjunction and, starts with the word glory, which is emphasized again by its position. It is characterized by a genitive explaining whose glory is meant, followed by the verb explaining what it does and a direct object of what it fills.

 

3. Word Possibilities

 

to finish

3615[3]

tAL;k

kalah

Piel infinitive

 

Number of occurrences: 200

The possible usages in the Piel form are (with an example each):

1.      to complete, bring to an end, finish             Gen 2:1  

2.      to complete (a period of time)                    Gen 41:53

3.      to finish (doing a thing)                       Gen 6:16

4.      to make an end, end                             Ps 72:20

5.      to accomplish, fulfill, bring to pass              Gen 49:33

6.      to accomplish, determine (in thought)       2.Chr 29:29

7.      to put an end to, cause to cease            2.Chr 8:8

8.      to cause to fail, exhaust, use up, spend        Ps 31:10

9.       to destroy, exterminate                                2.Chr 20:23

 

Solomon

8010[4]

h{m{l.v

shelomoh

proper name m.

 

Number of occurrences: 263

In every occurrence the proper name is used, which means peace, peaceful.

A proper name for the son of David by Bathsheba and the 3rd king of Israel; author of Proverbs and Song of Songs

 

to pray

6419[5]

leL;P

palal

Hithpael Infinitive

 

Number of occurrences: 82

Possible usages in the Hithpael form, with an example each:

1.      to intercede             Jer 42:2

2.      to pray                   1.Sam 1:10

fire

784[6]

vea

‘esh

noun f. sg.

 

Number of occurrences: 348

It means fire (literally or figuratively)[7], its possible usages being:

a.       fire, flames                                               Lev 1:7

b.      supernatural fire (accompanying theophany)             Ex 3:2

c.       fire (for cooking, roasting, parching)               Ex 12:9

d.      altar-fire                                                   Lev 6:13

e.       God's anger (fig.)                                               Ps 21:9

 

to come down

3381[8]

d.r'y

yarad

Qal Preterite

 

 Number of occurrences: 344

Its possible usages in the Qal form are:

1.      to go or come down                        1.Sam 9:25

2.      to sink                                    Ez 26:20

3.      to be prostrated                        1.Sam 25:23

4.      to come down (of revelation)       Isa 64:1

 

heaven

8064[9]

~Iy;m'V

shamayim

noun m. dual

 

Number of occurrences: 395

It means “to be lofty; the sky (as aloft; the dual perhaps alluding to the visible arch in which

the clouds move, as well as to the higher ether where the celestial bodies revolve)”:[10]

Its possible usages are:

a.       visible heavens, sky

1.     as abode of the stars                                                           Ps 8:3

2.     as the visible universe, the sky, atmosphere, etc                  Ps 8:8

b.      Heaven (as the abode of God)                                  Ps 2:4

to consume

398[11]

l;ka

‘akal

Qal Future

 

Number of occurrences: 709

Its possible usages in the Qal form are:

1.      to eat (human subject)                                                              Lev 3:17

2.      to eat, devour (of beasts and birds)                                                 Ps 78:45

3.      to devour, consume (of fire)                                                    Lev 6:10

4.      to devour, slay (of sword)                                                     Deut 32:42

5.      to devour, consume, destroy (inanimate subjects - ie, pestilence, drought)       Am 4:9

6.      to devour (of oppression)                                                          Deut 31:17

 

burnt offering

5930[12]

h'l{[

‘olah

noun f. sg.

 

Number of occurrences: 262

It means “a step or (collectively, stairs, as ascending); usually a holocaust (as going up in smoke)”.[13]

Its possible usages are:

  1. whole burnt offering                                     Lev 1:3
  2. ascent, stairway, steps                         (could not be found)

 

sacrifice

2077[14]

ix'b.Z

zebach

noun m. pl.

 

Number of occurrences: 153

Its possible usages are:

a.       sacrifices of righteousness         Gen 31:54

b.      sacrifices of strife                      Prov 17:1

c.       sacrifices to dead things                        Ps 106:28

d.      the covenant sacrifice                 Ps 50:5

e.       the passover                           Ex 12:27

f.        annual sacrifice                            1.Sam 1:21

g.       thank offering                             Lev 7:12

glory

3519[15]

dw{b.k

kabod

noun m. sg.

 

Number of occurrences: 189

The possible usages for this word are:

a.       abundance, riches                     1.Ki 3:13

b.      honor, splendor, glory                      Ps 8:5

c.       honor, dignity                               Ps 7:5

d.      honor, reputation                        Ecc 10:1

e.       honor, reverence, glory                      Ps 29:1

f.        glory                                       Ps 19:1

 

Lord

3068[16]

h'wh.y

yehovah

proper name

 

Number of occurrences: 5521

The word “Jehova” means "the existing One", and is the proper name of the one true God, which remains unpronounced.

 

to fill

4390[17]

ael'm

male’

Qal Preterite

 

Number of occurrences: 240

This word means “to fill or (intransitively) be full of, in a wide application (literally and figuratively)”.[18] Its possible usages in the Qal form are:

 

a.       to be full                                                   Gen 6:13

b.       fullness, abundance (participle)                 Jos 3:15

c.       to be full, be accomplished, be ended           1.Sam 18:26

d.       to consecrate, fill the hand                          2.Ki 4:6

 

 

 

house

1004[19]

tIy'B

bayith

noun m. sg.

 

Number of occurrences: 2055

1. house

            dwelling habitation                                                                                 Gen 19:2

shelter or abode of animals                                                             Ex 9:19

            human bodies (fig.)

house of Sheol

house of abode of light and darkness

house of land of Ephraim                                                                       Jud 10:9

2. prison                                                                                                          Gen 39:20

3. place                                                                                                            Gen 20:13

4. receptacle

5. home, house as containing a family                                                   Gen 17:23

6. household, family

those belonging to the same household                                                 Gen 7:1

family of descendants, descendant as organized body                        Ez 2:5

7. household affairs

8. inwards (methph.)

9. temple                                                                                                          Ez 8:16

10.on the inside (prep)

11. within                                                                                                         Gen 6:14

 

4. Word Choice

 

to finish

3615

tAL;k

kalah

Piel infinitive

 

Two of the listed usages are possible – number 1, since Solomon’s prayer has just ended, or 3, since he’s finished doing something, namely praying. The best translation is therefore “to finish”.

 

Solomon

8010

h{m{l.v

shelomoh

proper name m.

 

There can be no doubt that a person is meant here who is doing something, rather than the noun peace. Solomon is clearly a proper name in this context.

to pray

6419

leL;P

palal

Hithpael Infinitive

 

The immediate preceding context – Solomon’s prayer – has to be taken into consideration to determine which word is more appropriate to use for the translation, since that clause refers to that passage. Since the verb is in the causative form, something is being caused. In the simple form the verb means to mediate, so it would literally mean cause to mediate. For that reason the first possibility, “to intercede”, seems more appropriate as translation.

 

fire

784

vea

‘esh

noun f. sg.

 

The first word is a possibility, since it is a generic translation. “Altar-fire” (d) is certainly a possibility, as the sacrifices were on the altar, yet it was no ordinary fire the priest lit. Therefore, b, “supernatural fire”, seems to be the best possibility, as it was out of the ordinary, and the presence of God Himself filled the place.

 

to come down

3381

d.r'y

yarad

Qal Preterite

 

The first usage is clearly the only possibility, since fire literally came down, and all other options can be excluded.

 

heaven

8064

~Iy;m'V

shamayim

noun m. dual

 

This noun is in the plural (actually dual). It is difficult to determine which possible translation to choose. Literally, the fire came down from the actual sky, which would be a. However, the fire clearly came from God Himself, where He dwells. It can therefore either be a.2. or b., the best translation being “heaven”, since its meaning includes both possibilities.

 

 

to consume

398

l;ka

‘akal

Qal Future

 

The only possibility is number 3, since it specifically denotes fire as the object that consumes something.

 

burnt offering

5930

h'l{[

‘olah

noun f. sg.

 

The context clearly dictates that number 1, “burnt offering”, is the only possible translation. The context is the altar in the temple, and fire would not be able to consume a stairway.

 

sacrifice

2077

ix'b.Z

zebach

noun m. pl.

 

This noun is in the plural, as more than one sacrifice is brought before the Lord. The first possibility, “sacrifice of righteousness”, is certainly a good choice, since those sacrifices were offered for the dedication of the Temple. It could also have remembered the covenant God had made with His people (number d). The best translation is therefore the more generic “sacrifice”, which encompasses both.

 

glory

3519

dw{b.k

kabod

noun m. sg.

 

By a process of elimination, the last possibility (f) is most appropriate. Glory is here not a term for something metaphysical, like honor, dignity or reputation, but an actual tangible substance, namely the weighty presence of the Lord.

 

to fill

4390

ael'm

male’

Qal Preterite

 

With this word I need to make a choice that is different from the NIV translators. Since a and c have a passive connotation, and b is a participle, d is the only possibility. Therefore, “to consecrate” is the word I use for my translation, which is also supported by the context, as the Temple was being dedicated to the Lord at that occasion, and the Lord’s presence consecrated His dwelling place.

 

house

1004

tIy'B

bayith

noun m. sg.

 

The context clearly shows that it does not talk about a simple house, or prison, or household, but the Temple of the Lord. That is not an unusual passage, as the Temple is called “the house” innumerable times in the Old Testament.

 

5. Translation

 

And Solomon had finished interceding, and the fire came down from the heavens and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of Yahweh consecrated the Temple.

 

6. Significance

 

This passage shows us God's response to Solomon’s prayer. He accepted their sacrifices by consuming them Himself – rather than them burning them – and moved into His new dwelling place by consecrating it with His glory. It was a very special day in Israel when God finally had a glorious, immovable house to Himself. This verse is the highlight of that section in second Chronicles, as the reader has been following the preparations in the preceding chapters and was anxious to know God's response to Solomon’s long, recorded prayer. It was very important for the discouraged readers – the returned Hebrew exiles – to know that God had heard Solomon, and renewed His covenant, and that He would be faithful, and hear them again. All they had to do was seek His face, return to Him, obey the Law, and ultimately rebuild the Temple.

 

 

7. Synthesis

 

Solomon had completed his father’s vision and built a house for Yahweh to dwell among His people. At the Temple’s dedication, he pours out his heart in a prayer of dedication, standing between the people and their God, pleading His covenants with them. The reader is anxious to know God's response and finds out in our passage. No human hand needed to light the fire to consume the sacrifices. God Himself renews His covenant, by sending fire from heaven that consumes them – a reminder of the Abrahamic covenant when He had walked through the sacrifices like a pillar of fire. Yet, not only does God accept their sacrifices, He now moves into His new dwelling place on earth. His tangible presence, His glory, fills the whole Temple, consecrating everything for God's use only, making everything holy. So holy that no man could enter the Temple, not even the consecrated priests.

We also have to consecrate ourselves for God's use only, offer ourselves as a living sacrifice on His altar. Then His fire can come and consume us completely. When He has consumed us, then His glory can come. His glory will totally consecrate us for His use only. We are His Temple now, full of His presence, of Holy Spirit, and no man should be able to stand in His presence. May His living waters flow from us, and His realm of glory move around us, so that men will see Him in us and fall down before Him to worship Him.

 

 

 



[1] See the argumentation in Hayford, Jack W., Hayford’s Bible Handbook, Thomas Nelson Publishers: Nashville, TN 1995

[2] See Arnold, Bill T., and Bryan E. Beyer, Encountering the Old Testament: A Christian Survey, Baker Books: Grand Rapids, MI 1999, p. 255f

[3] http://bible.crosswalk.com/Lexicons/Hebrew/heb.cgi?number=03615&version=kjv

[4] http://bible.crosswalk.com/Lexicons/Hebrew/heb.cgi?number=08010&version=kjv

[5] http://bible.crosswalk.com/Lexicons/Hebrew/heb.cgi?number=06419&version=kjv

[6] http://bible.crosswalk.com/Lexicons/Hebrew/heb.cgi?number=0784&version=kjv

[7] Biblesoft's New Exhaustive Strong's Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright (c) 1994, Biblesoft and International Bible Translators, Inc.

[8] http://bible.crosswalk.com/Lexicons/Hebrew/heb.cgi?number=03381&version=kjv

[9] http://bible.crosswalk.com/Lexicons/Hebrew/heb.cgi?number=08064&version=kjv

[10] Biblesoft

[11] http://bible.crosswalk.com/Lexicons/Hebrew/heb.cgi?number=0398&version=kjv

[12] http://bible.crosswalk.com/Lexicons/Hebrew/heb.cgi?number=05930&version=kjv

[13] Biblesoft

[14] http://bible.crosswalk.com/Lexicons/Hebrew/heb.cgi?number=02077&version=kjv

[15] http://bible.crosswalk.com/Lexicons/Hebrew/heb.cgi?number=03519&version=kjv

[16] http://bible.crosswalk.com/Lexicons/Hebrew/heb.cgi?number=03068&version=kjv

[17] http://bible.crosswalk.com/Lexicons/Hebrew/heb.cgi?number=04390&version=kjv

[18] Biblesoft

[19] http://bible.crosswalk.com/Lexicons/Hebrew/heb.cgi?number=01004&version=kjv