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The Word of Yahweh came to Solomon, saying "...I will dwell with the sons of Israel...."

No visible manifestation is described in this encounter. If Solomon heard an audible voice, perhaps the Word (the Debar-YHWH) is in view. If Solomon did not, then perhaps it was a mundane word, a message from God. At any rate, the W/word is not the ascription later used of the One who dwells in The Temple: it is The Kabod-YHWH [see 8:11 below]. Whether it is "Yahweh" or "The Word" being conflated with the manifestation of The Kabod in The Temple, The Kabod is once again represented as Yahweh Himself.

→ See Old Testament Conflations


When the priests came out from the Holy Place, The Cloud filled The Temple,

so that the priests could not continue their liturgy because The Kabod YHWH filled The Temple. 

This cloud was known as "The Cloud of Yahweh" [Exod 40:34], the obscuring cloud which accompanied The Kabod Yahweh, the visible manifestation of Yahweh as fire. The Kabod had been present in The Wilderness [Exod 16:10] and in The Tabernacle [Exod 40:3438]. At this point in the narrative, The Kabod newly takes up His dwelling in The Temple of Solomon.

→ See The Kabod YHWH


and he [Solomon] prayed, "O Yahweh, God of Israel! There is no God like you in the heavens above or upon the earth belowkeeping [your] covenant and being steadfast in covenant loyalty towards your servants who walk before you with total devotion [lit.: all their hearts]!"


This is a great example of the presence of multiple manifestations of God within the framework of monotheism in ancient Israel. There was no contradiction for Solomon to look to the heavens and praise the One and Only God—despite the fact that God's visible manifestation in fire or unearthly light was right in front of him, and had been called "Yahweh" by Solomon mere seconds earlier when he addressed Yahweh and said The Temple was "a place where you might dwell forever" [1 Kgs 8:13]. Despite this, a few seconds later he switched and said Yahweh lives in Heaven [1 Kgs 8:30]! The Kabod Yahweh in front of Solomon and the unseen Yahweh in Heaven were One and the same. "There is no God like You!" [8:23] Singular pronoun. 


Will God truly dwell upon upon the earth? Why, even the heavens and the cosmos cannot contain you. How much less this house I have built?

And here we have a bookending affirmation that The Kabod Yahweh is Yahweh Himself. God did not dwell on Earth beginning with Jesus. The Kabod Yahweh, who is the pre-incarnate Jesus [John 1:14; 1:23 (citing Isa 40:3–5); Eph 5:14 (citing Isa 60:1–2); Heb 1:3; Jude 1:5 (citing Num 1:35); Rev 21:23 (citing Isa 60:19–20)] was with Abraham and his descendants in manifest form.


Then the Fire of Yahweh fell [from the sky] and consumed the burnt offering [a prepared bull], and the wood, and the stones, and even licked up the water in the water channel.

In the theophanies in Exodus and Leviticus, we saw that The Fire of Yahweh was not a mere phenomenon, but a visible and tangible manifestation of Yahweh Himself. Furthermore, the verb consume (אכל) is almost always the verb associated with His action. Here in 1 Kings 18, the Fire of Yahweh consumed a burnt offering, just like He did at the inaugurations of the Tabernacle [Lev 9:34-35] and the Temple of Solomon [2 Chr 7:1]. The Fire of Yahweh had consumed part of the camp after the people complained against Yahweh [Num 11:1]. And it was the Fire of Yahweh who killed the leaders of the Korahite rebellion [Num 16:35; Jude 1:5]. Jude specifically says this was the pre-incarnate Jesus (the only manifestation of Yahweh who is visible).

In the few instances when the fire is not a theophany, the text explicitly says so [Gen 19:24; 1 Kgs 19:12]. Therefore, the fire in 18:38 is most likely a manifestation of Yahweh Himself, not a mere phenomenon.


...and behold, Yahweh passed by...

Yahweh passed by Elijah on Sinai. Before, Yahweh passed by Moses on Sinai. Before, Yahweh was in the fire [Exod 3; Exod 33-34]. With Elijah, Yahweh was not in the fire, but was a soft, calm voice. Yahweh was visible to Moses, but invisible to Elijah.

1 Kings Summary

The Word of Yahweh (the Debar-YHWH, or else the message of God) comes to Solomon [6:11] and promises to dwell with the Israelites [6:13], something that The Kabod Yahweh fulfills [8:11]. Even though Yahweh's manifestation is visibly in front of Solomon as fire or unearthly light, Solomon prays towards the Yahweh in Heaven for the Temple dedication, marking yet another theophany where Yahweh is both on Earth and in Heaven simultaneously [cf. Gen 19:24]. Nevertheless, Solomon says, "There is no God like You" [8:23], using a singular pronoun.

The Fire of Yahweh manifests on earth again at Mount Carmel, and shows that Baal is a false god [18:38]. Elijah is brought to Sinai and Yahweh passes by Elijah [19:11] in a way reminiscent of (but not identical to) the passing by in front of Moses on Sinai.

1 Kgs 8:23
1 Kgs 18:38
1 Kgs 8:27
1 Kgs 19:11
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