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Solomon's Temple

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This is adapted from an article from the public domain Easton's Bible Dictionary, originally published in 1897. This article was originally written from a late nineteenth century Christian viewpoint, and may not reflect modern opinions or recent discoveries in Biblical scholarship. Please help the Wikipedia by bringing this article up to date.

Solomon's Temple

Before his death David had provided materials in great abundance for the building of the temple on the summit of Mount Moriah (1 Chr. 22:14; 29:4; 2 Chr. 3:1). In the beginning of his reign Solomon set about giving effect to the ideas of his father, and prepared additional materials for the building. From subterranean quarries at Jerusalem he obtained huge blocks of stone for the foundations and walls of the temple. These stones were prepared for their places in the building under the eye of Tyrian master-builders. He also entered into a compact with Hiram I, king of Tyre, for the supply of whatever else was needed for the work, particularly timber from the forests of Lebanon, which was brought in great rafts by the sea to Joppa, whence it was dragged to Jerusalem (1 Kings 5). As the hill on which the temple was to be built did not afford sufficient level space, a huge wall of solid masonry of great height, in some places more than 200 feet high, was raised across the south of the hill, and a similar wall on the eastern side, and in the spaces between were erected many arches and pillars, thus raising up the general surface to the required level. Solomon also provided for a sufficient water supply for the temple by hewing in the rocky hill vast cisterns, into which water was conveyed by channels from the "pools" near Bethlehem. One of these cisterns, the "great sea," was capable of containing three millions of gallons. The overflow was led off by a conduit to the Kidron[?].

In all these preparatory undertakings a space of about three years was occupied; and now the process of the erection of the great building began, under the direction of skilled Phoenician builders and workmen, in the fourth year of Solomon's reign. The building followed the Phoenician model, and in fact the Bible's description of Solomon's Temple is to historians an important source regarding the lay-out of Phoenician temples as well. Many thousands of labourers and skilled artisans were employed in the work. Stones prepared in the quarries underneath the city (1 Kings 5:17, 18) of huge dimension were gradually placed on the massive walls, and closely fitted together without any mortar between, till the whole structure was completed. The building was 60 cubits long, 20 cubits wide, and 30 cubits high.

At length, in the Autumn of the eleventh year of his reign, seven and a half years after it had been begun, the temple was completed. For thirteen years there it stood, on the summit of Moriah, silent and unused. The reasons for this strange delay in its consecration are unknown. At the close of these thirteen years preparations for the dedication of the temple were made. The ark was solemnly brought from the tent in which David had deposited it to the place prepared for it in the temple. Then Solomon ascended a platform which had been erected for him, in the sight of all the people, and lifting up his hands to heaven poured out his heart to God in prayer (1 Kings 8; 2 Chr. 6, 7). The feast of dedication, which lasted seven days, followed by the feast of tabernacles, marked a new era in the history of Israel. On the eighth day of the feast of tabernacles, Solomon dismissed the vast assemblage of the people.

The temple consisted of, (1.) The oracle or most holy place (1 Kings 6:19; 8:6), called also the "inner house" (6:27), and the "holiest of all" (Heb. 9:3). It was 20 cubits in length, breadth, and height. It was floored and wainscotted with cedar (1 Kings 6:16), and its walls and floor were overlaid with gold (6:20, 21, 30). There was a two-leaved door between it and the holy place overlaid with gold (2 Chr. 4:22); also a veil of blue purple and crimson and fine linen (2 Chr. 3:14; comp. Ex. 26:33). It had no windows (1 Kings 8:12). It was considered the dwelling-place of God. (2.) The holy place , 1 Kings 8:8-10, called also the "greater house" (2 Chr. 3:5) and the "temple" (1 Kings 6:17). (3.) The porch or entrance before the temple on the east (1 Kings 6:3; 2 Chr. 3:4; 29:7). In the porch stood the two pillars Jachin[?] and Boaz (1 Kings 7:21; 2 Kings 11:14; 23:3). (4.) The chambers, which were built about the temple on the southern, western, and northern sides (1 Kings 6:5-10). These formed a part of the building.

Round about the building were, (1.) The court of the priests (2 Chr. 4:9), called the "inner court" (1 Kings 6:36). It contained the altar of burnt-offering (2 Chr. 15:8), the brazen sea (4:2-5, 10), and ten lavers (1 Kings 7:38, 39). (2.) The great court, which surrounded the whole temple (2 Chr. 4:9). Here the people assembled to worship God (Jer. 19:14; 26:2).

This temple erected by Solomon was many times pillaged during the course of its history, (1) by king Shishak[?] of Egypt (1 Kings 14:25, 26); (2) by king Jehoash[?] of Israel (2 Kings 14:14); (3) by king Ahaz of Judah (2 Kings 16:8, 17, 18); (4) by king Hezekiah of Judah to pay king Sennacherib of Assyria (2 Kings 18:15, 16). At last it was pillaged and destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar (2 Kings 24:13; 2 Chr. 36:7). He burned the temple, and carried all its treasures with him to Babylon (2 Kings 25:9-17; 2 Chr. 36:19; Isa. 64:11). These sacred vessels were at length, at the close of the Captivity, restored to the Jews by Cyrus (Ezra 1:7-11).

See also: Temple in Jerusalem, Temple Mount, Western Wall



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