According to the NASB translation, “David gave to his son Solomon the plan ( tabnit ) of the porch ( ulam ) of the temple, its buildings, its storehouses, its upper rooms, its inner rooms, and the room for the mercy seat” (1 Chronicles 28:11). David plays Moses to Solomon’s Bezalel; David is the prophetic architect delivering the blueprints to the royal temple-builder.

Only the Hebrew text does not include the phrase “of the temple”: “David gave to his son Solomon the plan of the porch, its buildings, it storehouses, its upper rooms, etc.” Verse 12 makes clear that the plan ( tabnit ) is a plan for the temple ( bayit YHWH ), but in verse 11 the focus is on the porch, which is the antecedent of all the “its.” The porch has buildings, storehouses, upper rooms, inner rooms, and a room for the mercy seat. In most texts, ulam names the liminus between the outside and inside of the temple, but in verse 11 it becomes a name for the entire house of God (there is perhaps a similar usage in Joel 2:17: “between the porch and the altar”).

This offers a particular perspective on the temple and its use. The temple is Yahweh’s palace where His name dwells, but from another angle is it not a house but a hallway, a passage through which, or a threshold across which Israel moves to commune with her Lord. It’s the liminal space between the earthly dwelling of Israel and the heavenly dwelling of Yahweh.

And now: “We are the temple of the living God” (2 Corinthians 6:16).

Articles by Peter J. Leithart

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