He made a bronze altar twenty cubits long, twenty cubits wide and ten cubits high. He made the Sea of cast metal, circular in shape, measuring ten cubits from rim to rim and five cubits high. It took a line of thirty cubits to measure around it. Below the rim, figures of bulls encircled it—ten to a cubit. The bulls were cast in two rows in one piece with the Sea. The Sea stood on twelve bulls, three facing north, three facing west, three facing south and three facing east. The Sea rested on top of them, and their hindquarters were toward the center. It was a handbreadth in thickness, and its rim was like the rim of a cup, like a lily blossom. It held three thousand baths. He then made ten basins for washing and placed five on the south side and five on the north. In them the things to be used for the burnt offerings were rinsed, but the Sea was to be used by the priests for washing. 2 Chronicles 4:1-6
This is a retelling of a story first told in 1 Kings 7:15-26 and I reflected on this in a post entitled “a Big Bath” on December 14, 2014. This passage is very similar although there are a few numerical inconsistencies between the passages. For example, the 1 Kings passage states that the bronze sea held 2,000 Baths whereas here it is said to hold 3,000 baths. Again this difference does not really change the meaning of the passage, although it does make me wonder about the sources for 1 Kings and 2 Chronicles. Were both books referring to another source and somehow the stories were transferred differently?
This passage does provide a little more detail about what the basins and the bronze sea of water were to be used for in the temple — the 1 Kings passage left me wondering as it did not really explain the purpose of these features that were so carefully described. In this passage we learn that the smaller basins were used to clean the burnt offerings before they were offered on the altar, and the bronze sea was used by the priests to wash themselves. This must have been a somewhat surreal place at the time it was being used for sacrifices. animals being led into the temple and washed in preparation for being slaughtered and burned on the altar. I guess if the priests were the ones doing the killing and burning I could certainly understand the need for a basin to clean themselves!
When I wrote the post about the 1 Kings passage I was actually travelling Haiti. I am home now and I am not feeling any more inspired with deep insights about this passage than when I was in Haiti. It is the last passage in 2 Chronicles, so I will leave it and perhaps one day God will give me additional insights.
Prayer: God there is joy in the journey…thank You for walking with me along the way.