The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The Third Book of Kings
Then all the elders of Israel, the chiefs of the tribes, and the heads of clans, met in Jerusalem to help king Solomon bring the ark home; the ark then rested in the Keep of David, which we call Sion.
It was on the great feast day of the seventh month (Ethanim, as it is called) that king Solomon sent out this summons to the whole of Israel,
and the elders, one and all, came in answer to it. The priests took up the ark,
and soon ark and tabernacle and all the tabernacle’s appurtenances were borne aloft, with priests and Levites to carry them.
King Solomon walked before the ark, and with him all the throng of Israelites that had assembled; no reckoning made, no count taken, of the sheep and oxen they offered up as victims.
So the ark that bears witness of the Lord’s covenant was borne by the priests to the place designed for it, there in the temple’s inner shrine, where the cherubim spread their wings;
spread them over the very place where the ark rested, to protect it and protect the poles that bore it.
These poles jutted out indeed, so that the ends of them could be seen by one standing before the shrine, beyond the limits of the inner sanctuary; but never again were they seen in the open; they have remained in the temple to this day.
And nothing was in the ark except the two stone tablets Moses laid up there on mount Horeb, when the Lord made his covenant with the sons of Israel after their escape from Egypt.
As soon as the priests had left the inner sanctuary, the whole of the Lord’s house was wreathed in cloud;
lost in that cloud, the priests could not wait upon the Lord with his accustomed service; his own glory was there, filling his own house.
Where the cloud is, cried Solomon, the Lord has promised to be;
it is true, then, the house I have built is to be thy dwelling, thy throne for ever immovable.
With that, the king turned to bless the whole assembly of Israel; all Israel, that stood to receive his blessing.
Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, he said, who has now fulfilled in act the promise he made to my father David.
So many years since he had rescued his people from Egypt, and never a city among all the tribes of Israel had he chosen to be the site of his dwelling-place or the shrine of his name; but a man he did choose out, to rule his people, king David.
And when he, my father, would have built a house in honour of the Lord God of Israel,
the Lord told him that he had done well to conceive such a purpose in his heart; But it is not for thee, he said, to build me a house.
A house shall be built in my honour, but by thy son, the heir of thy body.
That promise of his the Lord has fulfilled; I have come forward in my father’s place, to sit upon the throne of Israel, as the Lord promised I should; it has been mine to build a house to the honour of the Lord, Israel’s God,
and to find a home for this ark, witness of the covenant made with our fathers when they escaped from Egypt.
Then Solomon stood before the Lord’s altar in full view of all Israel, and lifted his hands to heaven;
and thus he prayed: Lord God of Israel, thou reignest without rival in heaven and earth, making good thy merciful promises to all who follow thee with undivided hearts.
And thou hast not disappointed thy servant, my father David; thy act matches thy word; this day, who doubts it?
Do not forget, Lord God of Israel, that other promise of thine to David, that he should always have an heir to sit on the throne of Israel, would but his sons guide their steps, like David himself, as in thy presence;
let that promise, too, Lord God of Israel, be ratified!
Folly it were to think that God has a dwelling-place on earth. If the very heavens, and the heavens that are above the heavens, cannot contain thee, what welcome can it offer thee, this house which I have built?
Yet, O Lord my God, do not let this prayer go all unheeded, that sues for thy favour; listen to the cry of entreaty thy servant makes before thee this day!
This I ask, that thy eyes should be ever watching, night and day, over this temple of thine, the chosen sanctuary of thy name; be this the meeting-place where thou wilt listen to thy servant’s prayer.
Whatever requests I or thy people Israel make shall find audience here; thou wilt listen from thy dwelling-place in heaven, and listening, wilt forgive.
Has a man wronged his neighbour, and is he bidden to clear himself of the charge by an oath? Then, if he comes to this house of thine, to swear the lie before thy altar,
thou, in heaven, wilt be listening, and ready to strike the blow; thine to do justice between thy servants, passing sentence on the guilty and avenging the wrong, acquitting the innocent and granting him due redress.
Are thy people of Israel condemned to flee before their enemies, in punishment of the sins they will surely commit? Then, if they come here repentant, and acknowledging thy power, pray to thee and plead with thee in this temple of thine,
do thou, in heaven, listen to them, and forgive the sins of thy people Israel, and restore them to the land which thou gavest to their fathers.
Does the sky bar its gates against them, and give no rain, in punishment for their sins? Then, if they come here acknowledging thee with prayer and repentance, and turn away, in their sore need, from their sins,
do thou, in heaven, listen, and grant thy servants the people of Israel forgiveness; teach them to guide their steps aright, and send rain on the land thou hast given them for their home.
Is there famine in the land, or pestilence, blight or rust, locust or mildew? Does some enemy press hard on it, besieging our city gates? Many are the forms of plague and sickness,
of curse and ban, that may fall upon all Israel without distinction. But each heart knows the wound that galls it; and if any one man stretches out his hand to thee in this temple,
thou, in heaven, thy dwelling-place, wilt listen and relent. Thou knowest the hearts of all human kind, and wilt send to each man, according to the dispositions of his heart, the lot his deeds deserve;
so will men learn to fear thee, long as they live to enjoy the land thou gavest to our fathers.
Nay, is it some stranger, with no part in thy people Israel, who yet comes here from distant lands for love of thy renown? For indeed there will be talk of thy renown, of the constraining force thy power displays, all the world over.
When such a man comes to pray in this temple,
thou, in heaven, in thy secure dwelling-place, wilt listen to the alien’s prayer and wilt answer it. So all the world shall learn to fear thy name, no less than Israel itself; shall doubt no more that this temple I have built claims thy protection.
Sometimes thy people will go out to levy war upon their enemies, here and there at thy bidding. Then, as they fall to prayer, let them but turn in the direction of the city thou hast chosen, the temple I have built there in thy honour,
and thou, in heaven, wilt listen to their prayer for aid, wilt maintain their cause.
But what, if they have offended thee by their faults? No man but is guilty of some fault; it may be thou wilt give them up, in thy anger, into the power of their enemies, and as prisoners they will endure exile in neighbouring countries, or countries far away.
But ere long, in their banishment, they will come back to thee with repentant hearts, crying out, poor exiles, We are sinners, we have done amiss, rebels all!
In that alien land, the land of their captivity, they will come back to thee with all the purpose of their heart and soul. Then, if they turn in prayer towards the land thou gavest to their fathers, the city of thy choice, and the temple I have built there in thy honour,
thou, in heaven, on thy peaceful throne, wilt once more listen to their prayer for aid, wilt maintain their cause still.
Thou wilt relent towards thy people, though they have sinned against thee, wilt pardon the wrong their transgressions have done thee, wilt melt the hearts of their captors into pity.
Are they not thy own people, thy coveted possession, the men thou didst rescue from Egypt’s furnace of iron?
Ever let thy eyes be watchful, to look down upon me, thy servant, and upon thy people, when they cry for aid; give all their requests a hearing.
Hast thou not set them apart, among all the peoples of the world, to be thy coveted possession? Was not this thy promise, given through thy servant Moses when thou didst rescue our fathers from Egypt, O Lord our God?
So prayed king Solomon, so he pleaded with the Lord; and when he had finished, he rose up from before the Lord’s altar, where he had knelt on the ground with his hands outstretched towards heaven,
and standing there, gave his blessing aloud to the whole assembly of Israel.
Blessed be the Lord, he said, that he has given his people of Israel the repose he promised them; of all the hopes his word through Moses gave us, never one has been left unfulfilled.
May the Lord our God be with us still, as he was with our fathers, never forsaking us, never casting us away;
may he turn our hearts towards himself, ready to follow every path he has shewn us, keep every command, observance and decree he bade our fathers keep.
May this prayer I have uttered before him plead with the Lord our God day and night, to win redress, for me, and for his people Israel, as the time shall need it;
proving to the whole world that the Lord alone is God, there can be no other.
Wholly be our hearts given to the Lord our God, ready (as we are ready this day) to live by his laws, and keep true to his commandments.
Then the king and all Israel with him immolated their victims in the Lord’s presence;
twenty-two thousand oxen and a hundred and twenty thousand sheep were slaughtered as Solomon’s welcome-offering to the Lord. Thus the king and the men of Israel dedicated the temple.
That day, the king must needs hallow the middle part of the court before the Lord’s house, burning there the burnt-sacrifice, and the bloodless offerings, and the fat taken from the welcome-victims; there was no room for these on the brazen altar that stood there in the Lord’s presence.
High festival king Solomon kept at this time before the Lord our God, and with him a great multitude from the whole land of Israel, that stretched from the pass of Emath down to the River of Egypt. Fourteen days it lasted, a whole week and then a second week;✻
and at last, when the eighth day came, the king sent the people home. So back they went to their dwelling-places, rejoicing with full hearts over all the mercies the Lord had shewn to his servant David, and to his own people of Israel.
The Holy Bible