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Huram's Work (1 Kings 7:23-51; 2 Chronicles 4:1-5:1) December 30

To construct the temple, Solomon employed the skills of a master craftsman, Hiram (or Huram), fetched from Hiram king of Tyre. As explained in previous readings, he was the son of a Tyrian man who himself was a metalworker, but there's some minor confusion regarding his mother. According to 2 Chronicles 2:14, his mother was "of the daughters of Dan," yet 1 Kings 7:14 informs us that she was "of the tribe of Naphtali." One explanation may be that Hiram's mother was a Danite woman who had formerly married a Naphtalite man and thereby became a Naphtalite by marriage. In that case, we could assume that her first husband died and she then married a Tyrian man, Hiram's father.

Hiram worked in bronze, an alloy of copper (about 80%) and tin (about 20%); brass is an alloy of copper (about 60%) and zinc (about 40%). While scholars still debate somewhat whether the Hebrew nechosheth should be translated brass or bronze, the weight of evidence seems to prefer bronze. Copper was readily available in many places, and the Phoenicians—actually a Tyrian-Sidonian-Israelite alliance—controlled a brisk trade in tin mined in southwest England. Zinc was a relatively unknown metal in Solomon's day.

Hiram's works, no doubt guided by God as with the construction of the original tabernacle furnishings, were truly remarkable. He oversaw the design and construction of the great cherubim whose wings overshadowed the Ark of the Covenant in the Most Holy Place; the altar of incense, the table of showbread, and the great candlestick and its instruments, all of which were in the Holy Place; the two pillars which stood in the porch of the temple, as well as their adornments; the great altar, on which all sacrifices were offered; the laver (ceremonial washbasin) called the Sea, in which the priests washed; the 10 mobile lavers, in which the burnt offerings were washed; the shovels, which were used to remove the ashes of the altar; the basins, which were used to catch the blood of the sacrifices; the pots, which were used to remove the innards of the sacrifices; the 10 tables, on which the sacrifices were prepared; and the doors of the temple.

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