of worship, even as the full statement of the commandment shows: “You must not make for yourself a carved image or a form like anything that is in the heavens above or that is on the earth underneath or that is in the waters under the earth. You must not bow down to them nor be induced to serve them, because I Jehovah your God am a God exacting exclusive devotion.” Among those misreading this commandment are the Moslems, who, as a result, use only geometrical designs in their art lest they violate this commandment.—Ex. 20:4, 5.
That Jehovah did not forbid all making of statues or images is apparent from his later commands to make them. Thus Moses was commanded to make two cherubs for the ark of the testimony as well as to have cherubs embroidered on the curtains used in the tabernacle. Later on, Moses was commanded to make a copper serpent to which all Israelites who had been bitten by serpents had to look in order to get healed. In connection with the temple, in addition to the large bulls mentioned, Jehovah also directed the making of two very large cherubs to be placed in the Most Holy. None of these, however, were to be worshiped, and when the copper serpent became an object of worship, faithful King Hezekiah had it crushed to pieces.—Ex. 25:18-22; 26:1; Num. 21:8, 9; 2 Ki. 18:4.
The bulls used to support the molten sea served a very practical purpose and were a most fitting choice in view of the immense size of the “sea.”* The brim had a diameter of thirty feet and the sea must have bulged out considerably in the middle, as it was said to be capable of holding 29,400 gallons of water, or some 117 tons! In fact, the bull in the Scriptures is used as a symbol of strength, for we read of “the power of the bull,” and certainly it was the most powerful of domestic animals that the Israelites had. Fittingly, we find that in Ezekiel’s vision of Jehovah’s throne and its surroundings, and in John’s vision of the same, there appear living creatures having the appearance of bulls. (Ezek. 1:6, 7, 10; Rev. 4:7) The bull in such symbolism is understood to denote Jehovah’s attribute of power. Since, in Bible symbol, water usually stands for the word of truth (Eph. 5:26), we may see in this large copper “molten sea” and its strong base the unlimited power of Jehovah to carry out all his good word. No question about it: “So my word that goes forth from my mouth will prove to be. It will not return to me without results, but it will certainly do that in which I have delighted, and it will have certain success in that for which I have sent it.”—Isa. 55:11.
Thus, in the use of the bulls in connection with the molten sea of Solomon’s temple, we see no violation of Jehovah’s law against making images for worship but, rather, a most fitting and practical architectural design.
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“WATCHTOWER” STUDIES FOR THE WEEKS
May 23: The Coming Banquet for All the Peoples. Page 236.
May 30: Accepting the Invitation to the Banquet. Page 243.