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Solomon’s Carnival at the Temple Dedication

Many aspects about the dedication of Solomon’s Temple are fascinating and confusing. Perhaps none is more intriguing than the timing of these events. The dedication of the temple took place during the most important month on the Hebrew calendar, the 7th month, Ethanim or Tishrei. In fact, these observances are so important that they are known as High Holy Days.

1 Kings 8:1 Then Solomon assembled the elders of Israel, and all the heads of the tribes, the princes of the fathers' houses of the children of Israel, unto king Solomon in Jerusalem, to bring up the ark of the covenant of the Lord out of the city of David, which is Zion. 2 And all the men of Israel assembled themselves unto king Solomon at the feast, in the month Ethanim, which is the seventh month. (JPS) (Emphasis added)
1 Kings 8:65 So Solomon held the feast at that time, and all Israel with him, a great congregation, from the entrance Hamath unto the Brook of Egypt, before the Lord our God, seven days and seven days, even fourteen days. 66 On the eighth day he sent the people away, and they blessed the king, and went unto their tents joyful and glad of heart for all the goodness that the Lord had shown unto David His servant, and to Israel His people. (JPS) (Emphasis added)
2 Chronicles 5:3 And all the men of Israel assembled themselves unto the king at the feast, which was in the seventh month. (JPS) (Emphasis added)
2 Chronicles 7:8 So Solomon held the feast at that time seven days, and all Israel with him, a very great congregation, from the entrance of Hamath unto the Brook of Egypt. 9 And on the eighth day they held a solemn assembly; for they kept the dedication of the altar seven days, and the feast seven days. 10 And on the three and twentieth day of the seventh month he sent the people away unto their tents, joyful and glad of heart for the goodness that the Lord had shown unto David, and to Solomon, and to Israel His people. (JPS) (Emphasis added)

Reconstructing the events from the details presented, several things become evident. Solomon sent the people home on the 23rd day of the 7th month - a day also known as the Holy Day of Simchas Torah. Simchas Torah is the Holy Day upon which the Israelites were supposed to complete the reading of the Torah. Nevertheless, the events were over on the 22nd, and they had held the assembly for 14 days with a solemn assembly on the 8th day of that 14. It then follows that the solemn assembly would have been on the 16th day of the month and this feast began on the 9th day of the 7th month. This may not be very intuitive based on arithmetic, so chart-type calendars have been prepared for comparison and are posted below.

The calendars have been prepared in the manner that the top one contains the dates of the holidays of the 7th month as prescribed by the Lord while the subsequent one contains the dates observed at the temple dedication as recorded in Kings and Chronicles. These calendars are not necessarily representative of any particular year. The times of these holidays are called appointed, prescribed or set times and were to be observed on these dates every year forever. We shall shortly see that it was vitally important to diligently observe these holidays.

Leviticus 23:37 These are the appointed seasons of the Lord, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, to bring an offering made by fire unto the Lord, a burnt-offering, and a meal-offering, a sacrifice, and drink-offerings, each on its own day; (JPS) (Emphasis added)
Leviticus 23:44 And Moses declared unto the children of Israel the appointed seasons of the Lord. (JPS) (Emphasis added)

Appointed seasons of the Lord.

Solomon's Seasons.

Jeremiah 8:7 Yea, the stork in the heaven knoweth her appointed times; and the turtle and the swallow and the crane observe the time of their coming; but My people know not the ordinance of the Lord. (JPS) (Emphasis added)

The dedication of Solomon's Temple consisted of a great feast beginning on Erve Yom Kippur. It is clear that this feast continued for seven days. Subsequently, they added seven more days of feasting after that, a total of fourteen contiguous days of feasting in all.