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ON THE LAVERS IN SOLOMON'S TEMPLE. WITHOUT attempting to decide whether all parts of the word of God are equally to be searched into, I cannot presume to suppose that any part of all the Scripture given by inspiration of God for instruction, &c., is to be neglected. With this apology, in the humble hope of removing some difficulties, I offer a drawing I have attempted, according to the description of the ten lavers of Solomon's Temple, given in 1 Kings vii. 27–39.
The account appears more minute and detailed than that of any other part of the temple furniture : nevertheless, the descriptions and drawings in Lee and Calmet, together with the notice in Lightfoot, shew that something yet remains to be cleared. What follows appears to me the meaning of the text.
Ver. 27 : “ And he made ten bases of brass : four cubits the length of one base, and four cubits the breadth thereof, and three cubits the height of it.”
The text appears expressly to intimate that each base was a solid die of brass, of 38,400 cubic inches, the weight of which would be enormous. This, together with the supposition that the wheels, afterwards mentioned, were intended for removing the laver from place to place, has induced interpreters to suppose the base was only a slab, instead of a block; seeing that the wheels, being like chariot-wheels (ver.33), could not support such a mass, nor could it be moved with any ease. This conjecture has, I think, been the commencement of many difficulties, which I hope to shew in the sequel: the base, or pedestal, certainly was solid.
Ver. 28: “And the work of the bases (was) on this manner: they had borders, and the borders were between the ledges.”
The borders appear to be what is termed in architecture " zophori ;” as the metopes, or spaces in the frieze between the triglyphs, were styled, when ornamented with animals. It is so rendered by Junius: and this will be confirmed by examining the meaning of the word “ ledges.” In the Septuagint it is rendered "out-settings” or “prominences.” ta etexoueva: Junius, tori denticulati, bars standing upright like teeth. According to Lightfoot, the Hebrew implies the scales or rounds of a ladder. " The root is 3bw, to cut
in deep regular notches : whence come scollop and sculpture. In Ex. xxvi. 17 it describes the deep notch in the same part of every board to receive the cross beam which tied the boards together.” Nothing can more clearly describe the origin of the triglyph. I shall therefore so render these words, as they will more clearly and correctly give the architectural description than any others.
Ver. 29: “And on the zophori which (were) between the
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triglyphs, lions, oxen, and cherubim ; and upon the triglyphs a support for that which was above; and beneath the lions and oxen, additions made in a descending manner.”
The "supports” I suppose to be what are called modillions, or mutules: “ that which is above,” the cornice. The "additions made in a descending manner,” I conceive to be like the pentsills in Gothic architecture for throwing off of water.
Ver. 30: “ And every base or pedestal had four brazen wheels and plates of brass ; and the four corners thereof had shoulders : at the under part of the laver (were) the shoulders molten, at the side of (or passing over) each addition."
Both Lightfoot and Lee perceived, from ver. 32, that the wheels did not stand two on one side and two on another, like coach-wheels; but one on each of the four sides of the base, as the wheels in Ezekiel's vision are described standing at right angles to each other. This might have led them to conclude that the wheels were not for moving the lavers. Perhaps the same mystical interpretation belongs to the wheels in each ; but from that consideration I purpose to abstain :.I think the ornament styled in Grecian architecture patera, is an imitationthough, by not understanding the mystery, the Greeks altered it into one of their sacrificial plates. Lightfoot says the Rabbins called the “
plates of brass” planks. In Joshua xiii. 3, the word is rendered “ lords;" it should be rather lordships ;' for the Lord is speaking of the land yet to be possessed. So I suppose the base did not stand upon the pavement of the court; but these brazen planks formed the plinth on which each stood.
The " shoulders” were the portion of the priest in waveofferings. But the word here used is not the same as in Leviticus: the same word as here is in Isai. xxx. 6. This form of laver has been copied by the ancients.
The last clause," at the side of” or “passing over, each addition, I do not understand : perhaps it is owing to my arrangement being incorrect. Ver. 31: “And the mouth of it, within the chapiter and
upwards, (was) a cubit; and the mouth a round (and) support work, a cubit and half a cubit: and also upon its mouth gravings, with their borders four-square, not round.”
The upper part of the vase was smaller than the lower, or ornamented part. This part was a cubit deep; and the inner mouth was circular; but appended to it were modillions, that extended a cubit and a half on each side of the vase : this made each side of the square four cubits (ver. 38).
Ver. 32 : “And under the zophori (were the) four wheels, and the tenons of the wheels in the base (or pedestal); and the height of each wheel a cubit and half a cubit.
The word our translation has rendered "axle-tree,” is "tenons" in Exod. xxvi. 17; but I conceive our translators, supposing the wheels were for moving the laver, made these the axle-trees.
Ver. 33: “And the work of the wheels (was) like the work of a chariot-wheel. Their tenons, and their naves, and their felloes, and their spokes (were) all molten."
Ver. 34: “And four shoulders to the four corners of each base : from out of the base (came) its shoulder."
Ver. 35: “And in the top (or head) of the base, half a cubit upwards (or, rising half a cubit), a round, round about: and upon the top of the base its tenons [quere, the triglyphs ?] and its zophori (were) from out of it."
This “round" was either a round moulding, or astragal; or, as I am inclined to think, the "upper rest,” spoken of by D. Kimchi, “whereon to set a tankard :" as such I have drawn it. It is said to be “ in the top,” “ upon the top”—as I suppose, the frieze. The ornaments were not additions, like the pent-sills, but engraved out of the solid base. I do not know whether Ahaz cutting off the borders (2 Kings xvi. 17) militates against this interpretation.
Ver. 36: " And he graved upon the sides of its tenons, and upon its zophori, cherubim, lions, and palm-trees, according to the true figure of each : and additions around;" that is, made beneath the lions, &c. as mentioned in ver. 29. I suppose the whole of each figure was engraved : I have just put the heads, to shew where I suppose they were.
Ver. 37: “After this (manner) he made the ten bases : all of them had one casting, one measure, (and) one size.”
Ver. 38: “Then made he ten lavers of brass : one laver contained forty baths; (and) every laver was four cubits : (and) upon every one of the ten bases one laver.”
The contents of the laver was about two hundred and sixty gallons; and the measure of one side of the square brim was, as I suppose, four cubits: the form I have given would hold, I believe, about the quantity.
Such appears to me something nearer the description than that given by Lee; but I do not feel confident that I have removed all difficulties. I shall be glad if I have done any thing towards shewing what I believe to be the case-namely, that all invention, or taste so called, is either derived from Revelation, or a copy of nature.
M. Explanation of the Plate. e. The Plinth, or plates of brass (ver. 30). h. The Shoulders (ver. 30). 6. The Base, four cubits square, three in height i. The Chapiter, ornamented according to the (ver. 27).
description of the chapiters of the pillars c. The Wheel, a cubit and a half in diameter (ver. 31).
j. The Mouth, circular, one cubit in width and d. The Additions made in a descending manner height (ver. 31). (ser. 29).
k. The Support Work on each side, one cubit e, The Borders, or zophori, and triglyphs (ver.28). and a balf (ver. 31). f. The Supports, or modillions (ver. 29). Making the whole square of the Vase four 6. The round upper Rest, with a bowl on it cubits (ver. 38).
(vers, 30 and 32).