The 'Enigma' of Solomon's Bronze Pillars

At the entrance of the Temple, Solomon posted two huge bronze or copper pillars and “the one on the right he named Jachin, and the one the left Boaz,” I Kings 7:21.

For centuries Bible scholars have been mystified by these two pillars, often calling them “enigmatic.” The key question is, why were they given personal names? – and why Jachin and Boaz? All sorts of theories have been offered: that they were named after two major contributors to the Temple, that the pillar named Jachin refers to a certain priest, that both were installed merely to over-awe worshipers, that they had a sexual connotation and depicted phalli, that they were trees of life, dual candelabra, etc., etc. .

If you’ve viewed this website from the beginning, you now know the Temple was built in the hidden form of a human whose legs are formed by the Jachin and Boaz pillars (see King Solomon’s Astonishing Temple Secrets) but, as we shall see, they also symbolize two of Israel’s most illustrious leaders.

The Meaning of the Names

Neither of these two leaders is Jachin the priest, or Boaz the man who married Ruth the Moabitess. The solution does not lie in scouring the Bible for two men with these names and linking them to the pillars somehow. The key, rather, is in the meaning of the names themselves, not with any two men – a crucial difference. It is mostly this factor of name meaning that resolves the “enigma” of the bronze columns.

Curiously, scholars have known their meaning for decades and in this sense have had a partial solution directly before them all along: Jachin is associated with the word establish, and Boaz with strength. And after this it is a dead-end, scholars cannot tell us much more. What we must do, therefore, is look for two prominent men who fit this description: one relates to strength, the other to establishing, both are closely linked to the Temple and are related to each other by blood.

Boaz is found in the Book of Ruth chapters 2, 3 and 4, and mention of the Boaz pillar in I Kg. 7:21, 1st Chr. 2:11, 12 and 2nd Chr. 3:17; Jachin in Gen. 46:10, Ex. 6:15, Num. 26:12, I Kg. 7:21, 1st Chr. 9:10, 24:17, 2nd Chr. 3:17, and Neh. 11:10. Right and left refers to someone going east, exiting the Temple.

The Hidden Identity of the Pillars

As we will see, such a description fits only two, David and Solomon who were, as all Bible students know, father and son. Specifically, Boaz symbolizes King David and Jachin King Solomon. It might be remarked, “Well, a lot of biblical characters could be labeled strong ones.” True, but any such strong one would have to be distinctly associated with the Temple and related to a person who is an establisher. When these points are duly considered the meaning and symbolism of Boaz and Jachin fits only these two kings, David and Solomon.

Let us review quickly now what Bible scholarship knows, for this idea – that Boaz means strength and Jachin establish – seems generally accepted by Jewish and Christian sources.

For example, The Stone Edition of the Tanach, a Jewish translation, approvingly refers to this concept both in its main text and in its annotations, pp. 818, 819. The idea is based on the etymology of the names and some sources even provide a brief grammatical analysis. The Anchor Bible Dictionary Vol. 1, p. 765, adds that the concept is found in the Septuagint version of the Tanach (the Septuagint is the Greek version of the Old Testament which was translated from Hebrew by 70 or 72 Jewish scholars in 1555-65 AD). Boaz, accordingly, means strength or smiter, and Jachin to establish or setting right. Or perhaps setting up or making upright (my view, last sentence only).

Others think the names suggest a “dynastic oracle,” i.e., a Divine declaration about King David’s dynasty (a “dynasty” is a succession of rulers from the same family) over the Israelite kingdom. The textual basis for this conclusion is found in 1st Chr. 17:11, 12 where the Lord promises David:

And it shall be when your days are fulfilled, when you must go to be with your fathers, that I will set up your seed after you, who will be one of your sons; and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build me ahouse and I will establish his throne forever.

See also First Chronicles 6:16 and 7:17, 18 where God tells Solomon (last verse):

As for you, if you walk before me ... I will establish the throne of your kingdom, as I covenanted with David your father saying,,You shall never fail to have a man in Israel as ruler.

However, scholarship is uncertain about the oracle’s actual wording. Perhaps it was something like, by His (God’s) strength shall you (David) be established. Or by strength shall it be established – and there are also other variations. The first example simply guarantees a succession of Davidic rulers. In the second, “it” refers to the kingdom of Israel, or possibly the Temple itself. Either way this oracle is phrased makes no difference for determining the identity of the pillars as Israel’s two most famous kings, though. After all, was it not these two who had the most to do with building the Temple? No one can honestly deny that without them the Temple simply would not have been constructed. Of course, we can all agree that it is the Lord who is the ultimate strength and the true establisher, but he raised David and Solomon to kingship and in the process one became the Strong One and the other the Establisher.

Kings David and Solomon as the Two Pillars

Let us get to the point quickly by asking and answering, Why should David be symbolized by Boaz? Because in terms of career, David won his fame through war. In fact, David’s military trajectory began almost immediately after he slew Goliath the giant, a story we all learned as children. After that, and as a soldier under King Saul, David won many battles so that the women sang,, “Saul has slain his thousands and David his ten thousands” –
which greatly disturbed Saul, I Sam. 18:7, 8. Moreover, God himself affirms David’s skill as a warrior by telling him he could not build the Temple because he had shed “much blood” and fought “great battles,” 1st. Chr. 22:8.

Therefore, strength refers to David, the strong one, which is another way of saying warrior. Phrasing it differently, David was a warrior-king, whereas Solomon was a king of peace, and these two depict war and peace, concepts of key import not only to Israel but any nation.

The name Solomon means peace, and he also had another name given to him by the prophet Nathan, Jedidiah. However, we are concerned here with how this king relates to the name Jachin, establish. Why should we conclude that Solomon is the Establisher? Does the Bible say so? In a manner of speaking, Yes!

After denying David permission to build the Temple, the Lord tells him that, instead, someone from “his body,” a son, will build it. It is this son, later identified as Solomon, who is to “establish” the Israelite kingdom, according to II Sam. 7:12, 13, 16 . David was gently told (italics and parentheses, mine):

v. 12- When your days are fulfilled ... I will set up your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom.

v. 13- He will build a house (temple) for My name and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.

v. 16- And your house (family) and your kingdom shall be established forever before you. Your throne will be established forever.

Compare the above with 1st Chr. 17:11-14 where this is repeated slightly differently. And in 2nd Chr. 6:16, God promises David, “You shall not fail to have a man sit before Me on the throne of Israel.” Also see 7:18. And elsewhere he says about Solomon: “Moreover I will establish his kingdom forever, if he is steadfast to observe my commandments ...,” 1st Chr. 28:7. It is this special covenant – that promises David would never fail to have a descendant upon the throne – that makes Solomon the Establisher and supports the view that Jachin and Boaz involve a dynastic oracle.

And the ‘King Stood by His Pillar’

Something else interests us. Important messages to the people were announced by the ruling King or presiding High Priest from a spot besides these two bronze pillars which stood on the left and right sides of the Temple’s porch (ulam), its entrance. Now examine with me a particular incident (many years after David and Solomon’s time) involving the High Priest and the anointing of a new king .

A wicked woman named Atheliah somehow usurped power and became the ruling queen mother. To insure her position, she killed all the Davidic royal heirs, 2nd Chr. 22:10. However, unbeknownst to her one royal child was taken and hidden in the Temple for six years while she reigned, v. 12. Hence, in the seventh year the High Priest Jehoiada said to the people “Behold, the king’s son shall reign, as the Lord has said of the sons of David,“ v. 23:3, and then issued the following orders (vv. 10, 11):

... set all the people, every man with his weapon in his hand, from the right side of the temple to the left side of the temple, along by the altar and by the temple, all around the king. And they brought out the king’s son, put the crown on him and gave him the Testimony, and made him king. Then Jehoiada and his sons anointed him and said, “Long live the the king”!.

Now please note how the context makes a link between the new king and ‘his pillar,’ vv. 12, 13:

Now when Athaliah heard the noise of the people ... she came to the people in the temple of the Lord. And when she looked, there was the king standing by his pillar at the entrance, and the leaders and the trumpeters were by the king. ... So Atheliah tore her clothes and said, Treason! Treason!

Others translate ‘the pillar’ instead of ‘his pillar’ but this makes little difference. The newly anointed young King Joash stood by one of the two pillars “according to custom,” II Kings 11:14, and by this action signified that he was a descendant of David and thereby the true and legitimate ruler, not Atheliah. Does this not imply that one pillar was reckoned as King David (Boaz) and the other as King Solomon (Jachin)? Otherwise what difference would the “custom” of standing by such a pillar make? And recall, the High Priest introduced him as David’s “son,” i.e., his dynastic successor, 2nd Chr. 23:3.

Two Trees, Two Kings

The two pillars are also two trees, since the Bible sometimes portrays people and leaders as plants or trees. For example, in Daniel 4:10-12 King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon is depicted as a giant tree which is chopped down, v. 14; and in Isaiah 61:3 saintly persons are called “trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord.” Also in Zechariah 4:3; 4 the two olive trees inside the Temple that drip oil are two Israelite leaders, Zerubbabel and Joshua. Further, Exodus 15:17 refers to the Jewish nation as a “planting” upon a mountain linked to the Lord’s “sanctuary” (i.e., Temple). Also see Ps. 114:2. The New Testament
also links plants, people and the Temple (I Cor. 3:8,9,16), which is no surprise since it was written mostly by first and/or second century Jews.

In the Tanach the whole Temple is seen as the biblical Garden of Eden which ultimately portrays the ideal relationship between God and humanity. The Lord is the Gardener walking among the trees (people) of his garden (Gen. 3:8), seeing to it that they bear good fruit. The bearing of good fruit is only possible through a right relationship with the Gardener, and that relationship is portrayed by the Temple’s architecture, precise design, rituals and furnishings. The Temple is the new Garden of Paradise that everyone should strive to symbolically enter, because outside is a fearsome wilderness, troubles, and death, as Adam and Eve were forewarned.

Comments :

Anonymous said...

it is merely a statement for people to read / understand - boaz jachin - in him strength establish - do you know how to read hebrew?

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