A Guidebook to the Biblical Literature

By John Franklin Genung | Go to book overview

CHAPTER II
AWAKING OF THE LITERARY SENSE
[Under the reign of Solomon, 970-933 B.C.]

THE founding of the Temple, in the fourth year of King Solomon's reign ( 1 Kings vi, 1) was deemed by the Scripture historians to mark an important date in the nation's life: important both for the period that it closed and for the new order then opening. The number of years after the deliverance from Egypt was carefully noted, as if that closing period had its own meaning. The year of the king's reign, and the month, are noted with equal care, as if the event thus dated were an epoch for all time. When a nation can thus begin to number its years, and to set off periods of its history, its existence is beginning to show meaning and promise; it has an organic idea.

The religious import of the building of the Temple is obvious. The central worship of Israel, hitherto held in a tent, was now established in a permanent building. Here then was the religious capital of the nation: a center for the standard service and instruction, and a point of pilgrimage for the various annual feasts. But because religion in ancient times was never dissociated from civic, social, and business affairs, the import of this event for the nation's secular life was equally great. The Temple, in fact, was only one of a whole group of public buildings, which included not only the palace of the king but an extensive' series of halls, courts, and porches, for civic administration and judgment. As time went on it became the central place for

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