Solomon's palace is illustrated by those of Nineveh and Persepolis lately discovered. The great hall of state was "the house of the forest of (pillars of cedar of) Lebanon," 150 ft. long (100 cubits) by 75 broad (1 Kings 7:2). There were "four rows of cedar pillars with cedar beams upon the pillars. It was covered with cedar above upon the beams, that lay on 45 pillars, 15 in a row." Three rows stood free, the fourth was built into the outer wall (Josephus, Ant. 7:5, section 2, 11:5). "There were windows in three rows, and light against light in three ranks"; namely, clerestory windows. The throne was in the center of the longer side. The porch of judgment, 75 ft. square, was opposite the center of the longer side of the great hall (Josephus, Ant. 7:5, section 1): 2 Kings 7:7. The position of a like hall at Persepolis is the same. The porch of pillars, 75 ft. by 45 ft. (50 by 30 cubits): 1 Kings 7:6. The ordinary place for the king to receive visitors and to transact business. Behind was the inner court (1 Kings 7:8) with gardens, fountains, and cloisters, and courts for residence of attendants and guards, and for the 300 women of the harem.
On the side of the great court opposite the inner court was the palace of Pharaoh's daughter. "The foundation" (1 Kings 7:10) was an artificial platform of masonry, as at Sennacherib's palace at Koyunjik and at Baalbek, some stones being 60 ft. long. The halls of the palace were wainscoted with three tiers of polished stone, surmounted by a fourth, elaborately carved with leaves and flowers (1 Kings 7:12). Above this the walls had plaster with colored arabesque. At Nineveh, on the eight feet high alabaster wainscoting were sculptured men and animals (Ezekiel 23:14), whereas the second commandment restrained the Jews from such representations. But coloring was used freely for decoration (Jeremiah 22:14). "The palace" in Philemon 1:13 is the barrack of the Praetorian guards attached to Nero's palace on the Palatine hill at Rome. So "Caesar's household" is mentioned (Philemon 4:22).
The emperor was "praetor" or "commander in chief"; so the barrack of his bodyguard was the "praetorium". The "all the praetorium" implies that the whole camp, whether inside or outside the city, is included. The camp of the Praetorians, who became virtual masters of the empire, was outside the Viminal gate. Paul was now no longer "in his own hired house" chained to a soldier, by command (probably) of Burrus, one of the two prefects of the praetorium (Acts 28:16; Acts 28:20; Acts 28:30-31), but in strict custody in the praetorium on Tigellinus becoming prefect. The soldiers relieving one another in guard would naturally spread through the camp the gospel story heard from Paul, which was the occasion of his imprisonment. Thus God overruled what befell him "unto the furtherance of the gospel" (Philemon 1:12).
A recent traveler, Dr. Manning, describes a remarkable illustration of the reference to "Caesar's household": "in the chambers which were occupied as guard rooms by the Praetorian troops on duty in the palace, a number of rude caricatures are found roughly scratched upon the walls, just such as may be seen upon barrack walls in every part of the world. Among these is one of a human figure nailed upon a cross. To add to the 'offense of the cross' the crucified one is represented with the head of an animal, probably that of an ass. Before it stands the figure of a Roman legionary, with one hand upraised in the customary attitude of worship. Underneath is the rude, misspell, ungrammatical inscription, Alexamenos worships his god. It can scarcely be doubted that we have here a contemporary caricature, executed by one of the Praetorian guard, ridiculing the faith of a Christian comrade."
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