Temple of solomon

Not to be confused with Solomon's Temple, Buxton.


According to the Hebrew Bible, Solomon's Temple, also known as the First Temple, was the Holy Temple (Hebrew: בֵּית־הַמִּקְדָּשׁ‎: Bet HaMikdash) in ancient Jerusalem, on the Temple Mount (also known as Mount Zion), before its destruction by Nebuchadnezzar II after the Siege of Jerusalem of 587 BCE. There is no direct archaeological evidence for the existence of Solomon's Temple,[1] and no mention of it in the surviving contemporary extra-biblical literature.[2]

The Hebrew Bible states that the temple was constructed under Solomon, king of the Israelites. This would date its construction to the 10th century BCE, although it is possible that an earlier Jebusite sanctuary had stood on the site. During the kingdom of Judah, the temple was dedicated to Yahweh, the god of Israel, and is said to have housed the Ark of the Covenant. Rabbinic sources state that the First Temple stood for 410 years and, based on the 2nd-century work Seder Olam Rabbah, place construction in 832 BCE and destruction in 422 BCE (3338 AM), 165 years later than secular estimates.

Because of the religious sensitivities involved, and the politically volatile situation in Jerusalem, only limited archaeological surveys of the Temple Mount have been conducted. No excavations have been allowed on the Temple Mount during modern times. An Ivory pomegranate mentions priests in the house of YHWH, and an inscription recording the Temple's restoration under Jehoash have appeared on the antiquities market, but the authenticity of both has been challenged and they remain the subject of controversy. No conclusive archeological evidence for or against the existence of Solomon's Temple has been found.

History according to the Bible


The earliest source of information on the First Temple is the Hebrew Bible (or Old Testament). According to the biblical sources, the temple was constructed under King Solomon during Israel's period of united monarchy. This puts the date of its construction in the mid-10th century BCE.[3] Some scholars have speculated that a Jebusite sanctuary may have previously occupied the site.[4] During the kingdom of Judah, the temple was dedicated to Yahweh, the god of Israel, and is said to have housed the Ark of the Covenant.[5] Rabbinic sources state that the First Temple stood for 410 years and, based on the 2nd-century work Seder Olam Rabbah, place construction in 832 BCE and destruction in 422 BCE (3338 AM), 165 years later than secular estimates.[6]

The following is a summary of the history according to Book of Samuel and Book of Kings, with notes on the variations to this story in the later Book of Chronicles.

The Chapter 8 describe the construction and dedication of the Temple under Solomon.

King Solomon requested the aid of King Hiram of Tyre to provide both the quality materials and skilled craftsmen. During the construction, a special inner room, named in Hebrew Kodesh Hakodashim (Holy of Holies), was prepared to receive and house the Ark of the Covenant (1 Kings 6:19); and when the Temple was dedicated, the Ark—containing the Tablets of Stone—was placed therein (1 Kings 8:6–9).

The exact location of the First Temple is unknown: it is believed to have been situated upon the hill which forms the site of the 1st century Second Temple and present-day Temple Mount, where the Dome of the Rock is situated. However, two other, slightly different sites have been proposed on this same hill: one places the stone altar at the location of the rock which is now beneath the gilded dome, with the rest of the temple to the west. The Well of Souls was, according to this theory, a pit for the remnants of the blood services of the korbanot. The other theory places the Holy of Holies atop this rock. Still another location has recently been proposed between the Dome of the Rock and the gilded dome, based on orientation to the eastern wall, drainage channels, orientation of the platform stones, and the location of a possible Boaz pillar base.[7]

2 Chronicles 12:9, and 1 Kings 14:26 describe the Sack of Jerusalem by the Pharaoh Shishaq, who "took away the treasures of the house of the LORD, and the treasures of the king's house."

2 Kings 12:4–16 describes arrangements for the refurbishment of the Temple in the time of king Jehoash of Judah in the 9th century BCE. According to 2 Kings 14:14 the Temple was looted by Jehoash of Israel in the early 8th century and again by King Ahaz in the late 8th century (2 Kings 16:8). Ahaz also installed some cultic innovations in the Temple which were abhorrent to the author of 1–2 Kings (2 Kings 16:10–18).

The Temple also figures in the account of King Hezekiah, who turned Judah away from idols;[8] when later in the same century Hezekiah is confronted with a siege by the Assyrian king Sennacherib (2 Kings 18:23, 19:1 and the Taylor prism), Hezekiah "instead of plundering the temple treasuries... now uses the temple the way it is designed to be used — as a house of prayer (2 Kings 19:1–14).[9]

Hezekiah's son

King Josiah, the grandson of Manasseh, refurbished and made changes to the Temple by removing idolatrous vessels and destroying the idolatrous priesthood c. 621 BCE (2 Kings 22:3–9; 23:11–12). He also suppressed worship at altars other than the Temple's.

The Temple was plundered by the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar when the Babylonians attacked Jerusalem during the brief reign of Jehoiachin c. 598 (2 Kings 24:13), Josiah's grandson. A decade later, Nebuchadnezzar again besieged Jerusalem and after 30 months finally breached the city walls in 587 BCE, subsequently burning the Temple, along with most of the city (2 Kings 25). According to Jewish tradition, the Temple was destroyed on Tisha B'Av, the 9th day of Av (Hebrew calendar).

Architectural description


Several temples in Mesopotamia, many in Egypt, and some of the Phoenicians are now known. The description given of Solomon's Temple is not a copy of any of these, but embodied features recognisable in all of them. Its general form is reminiscent of Egyptian sanctuaries and closely matches that of other ancient temples in the region, however the complexity of inner chambers and unique functions does distinguish the temple strongly.[11][12][13]

The detailed descriptions provided in the Tanakh and educated guesses based on the remains of other temples in the region are the sources for reconstructions of its appearance. Technical details are lacking, since the scribes who wrote the books were not architects or engineers.[12] Nevertheless, the recorded plans and measurements have inspired Replicas of the Jewish Temple and influenced later structures around the world.

Reconstructions differ; the following is largely based on Easton's Bible Dictionary and the Jewish Encyclopedia:

Most Holy Place

The Kodesh Hakodashim, or Holy of Holies, (1 Kings 6:19; 8:6), also called the "Inner House" (6:27), (Heb. 9:3) was 20 cubits in length, breadth, and height. The usual explanation for the discrepancy between its height and the 30-cubit height of the temple is that its floor was elevated, like the cella of other ancient temples.[12] It was floored and wainscotted with cedar of Lebanon (1 Kings 6:16), and its walls and floor were overlaid with gold (6:20, 21, 30). It contained two cherubim of olive-wood, each 10 cubits high (1 Kings 6:16, 20, 21, 23–28) and each having outspread wings of 10 cubits span, so that, since they stood side by side, the wings touched the wall on either side and met in the center of the room. There was a two-leaved door between it and the Holy Place overlaid with gold (2 Chr. 4:22); also a veil of tekhelet (blue), purple, and crimson and fine linen (2 Chr. 3:14; compare Exodus 26:33). It had no windows (1 Kings 8:12) and was considered the dwelling-place of the "name" of God.

The color scheme of the veil was symbolic. Blue represented the heavens, while red or crimson represented the earth. Purple, a combination of the two colors, represents a meeting of the heavens and the earth.


Hekhal

The Hekhal, or Holy Place, (1 Kings 8:8–10), is also called the "greater house" (2 Chr. 3:5) and the "temple" (1 Kings 6:17); the word also means "palace",[12] was of the same width and height as the Holy of Holies, but 40 cubits in length. Its walls were lined with cedar, on which were carved figures of cherubim, palm-trees, and open flowers, which were overlaid with gold. Chains of gold further marked it off from the Holy of Holies. The floor of the Temple was of fir-wood overlaid with gold. The door-posts, of olive-wood, supported folding-doors of fir. The doors of the Holy of Holies were of olive-wood. On both sets of doors were carved cherubim, palm-trees, and flowers, all being overlaid with gold (1 Kings 6:15 et seq.)

Etymology

The Hebrew noun hekhal (Hebrew היכל) in Classical Hebrew means "a large building". This can be either the main building of the Temple in Jerusalem (that is the nave, or sanctuary, of the Temple), or a palace such as the "palace" of Ahab, king of Samaria, or the "palace" of the King of Babylon.

Usage

Hekhal is used 80 times in the Massoretic Text of the Hebrew Bible. Of these, 70 refer to the House of the LORD (in Hebrew Bible בֵּית יְהוָה beit Yahweh), the other 10 are references to palaces. There is no reference to any part of the tabernacle using this term in the Hebrew Bible.

"In the year that king 6:1.

Use in architecture

The Jerusalem Temple

In older English versions of the Bible, including the King James, the term "temple" is used to translate hekhal. In modern versions more reflective of archeological research, the distinction is made of different sections of the whole Temple. Scholars and archeologists generally agree on the structure of Solomon's Temple as described in 1 Kings 6:3-5, with the main building, the hekhal, in English now sometimes called "the sanctuary," the devir, the inner sanctuary, and finally the Holy of Holies.[14] This main building of the Temple is depicted on coins from the Bar Kokhba revolt.[15]

This main building was between the outer altar, where most sacrifices were performed, and inside at the far end was the entry to the Holy of Holies, originally containing the Ark of the Covenant. The main hekhal, contained a number of sacred ritual objects including the seven branched candlestick, the inner altar for incense offerings (also called the "Golden Altar"), and the table of the showbread.

Synagogues

The same architectural layout of the temple was adopted in synagogues leading to the hekhal being applied in Sephardi usage to the Ashkenazi Torah ark, the equivalent of the nave.[16]

Porch

The Ulam, or porch, acted as an entrance before the Temple on the east (1 Kings 6:3; 2 Chr. 3:4; 9:7). This was 20 cubits long (corresponding to the width of the Temple) and 10 cubits deep (1 Kings 6:3). (ESV 2 Chr. 3:4) notes that this porch was 120 cubits high. The description does not specify whether a wall separated it from the next chamber. In the porch stood the two pillars Jachin and Boaz (1 Kings 7:21; 2 Kings 11:14; 23:3), which were 18 cubits in height.

Chambers

Chambers were built about the Temple on the southern, western and northern sides (1 Kings 6:5–10). These formed a part of the building and were used for storage. They were probably one story high at first; two more may have been added later.[12]

Courts


According to the Bible, two courts surrounded the Temple. The Inner Court (1 Kings 6:36), or Court of the Priests (2 Chr. 4:9), was separated from the space beyond by a wall of three courses of hewn stone, surmounted by cedar beams (1 Kings 6:36). It contained the Altar of burnt-offering (2 Chr. 15:8), the Brazen Sea laver (4:2–5, 10) and ten other lavers (1 Kings 7:38, 39). A brazen altar stood before the Temple (2 Kings 16:14), its dimensions 20 cubits square and 10 cubits high (2 Chr. 4:1). The Great Court surrounded the whole Temple (2 Chr. 4:9). It was here that people assembled to worship. (Jeremiah 19:14; 26:2).

Brazen Sea

Main article: Brazen Sea

The large basin known as the "Brazen Sea" measured 10 cubits wide brim to brim, 5 cubits deep and with a circumference of 30 cubits around the brim, rested on the backs of twelve oxen (1 Kings 7:23–26). The Book of Kings gives its capacity as "2,000 baths" (90 cubic meters), but Chronicles (2 Chr. 4:5–6) inflates this to three thousand baths (136 cubic meters) and states that its purpose was to afford opportunity for the purification by immersion of the body of the priests.

The lavers, each of which held "forty baths" (1 Kings 7:38), rested on portable holders made of bronze, provided with wheels, and ornamented with figures of lions, cherubim, and palm-trees. The author of the books of the Kings describes their minute details with great interest (1 Kings 7:27–37). Josephus reported that the vessels in the Temple were composed of Orichalcum in Antiquities of the Jews. According to 1 Kings 7:48 there stood before the Holy of Holies a golden altar of incense and a table for showbread. This table was of gold, as were also the five candlesticks on each side of it. The implements for the care of the candles—tongs, basins, snuffers, and fire-pans—were of gold; and so were the hinges of the doors.

Archaeology

Because of the religious and political sensitivities involved, no archaeological excavations and only limited surface surveys of the Temple Mount have been conducted since Warren's expedition of 1867-70.[17][18][19] There is no direct archaeological evidence for the existence of Solomon's Temple. This building is not mentioned in surviving extra-biblical accounts.[20]

  • In 2007, artifacts dating to the 8th to 6th centuries BCE were described as being possibly the first physical evidence of human activity at the Temple Mount during the First Temple period. The findings included animal bones; ceramic bowl rims, bases, and body sherds; the base of a juglet used to pour oil; the handle of a small juglet; and the rim of a storage jar.[21][22]
  • By 2006, the Temple Mount Sifting Project had recovered numerous artifacts dating from the 8th to 7th centuries BCE from soil removed in 1999 by the Islamic Religious Trust (Waqf) from the Solomon's Stables area of the Temple Mount. These include stone weights for weighing silver and a First Temple period bulla, or seal impression, containing ancient Hebrew writing which includes the name Netanyahu ben Yaush. Netanyahu is a name mentioned several times in the Book of Jeremiah while the name Yaush appears in the Lachish letters. However, the combination of names was unknown to scholars.[23][24]
  • A thumb-sized ivory pomegranate measuring 44 millimetres (1.7 in) in height bearing an ancient Hebrew inscription "Sacred donation for the priests in the House of YHVH" was believed to have adorned a sceptre used by the high priest in Solomon's Temple. It was considered the most important item of biblical antiquities in the Israel Museum’s collection.[25] However, in 2004, the Israel Antiquities Authority reported the inscription to be a forgery, though the ivory pomegranate itself was dated to the 14th or 13th century BCE.[26] This was based on the report's claim that 3 incised letters in the inscription stopped short of an ancient break, as they would have if carved after the ancient break was made. Since then, it has been proven that one of the letters was indeed carved prior to the ancient break, and the status of the other two letters is now in question. Some paleographers and others have continued to insist that the inscription is ancient and the authenticity of this artifact is still the object of discussion.[27]
  • Another artifact, the Jehoash Inscription contains a 15-line description of King Jehoash's ninth-century BCE restoration of the Temple. Its authenticity was called into question by a report by the Israel Antiquities Authority, which said that the surface patina contained microfossils of foraminifera. As these fossils do not dissolve in water, they cannot occur in a calcium carbonate patina, leading initial investigators to conclude that the patina must be an artificial chemical mix applied to the stone by forgers. As of late 2012, the academic community is split on whether the table is authentic or not. Commenting on a 2012 report by geologists arguing for the authenticity of the inscription, in October 2012, Hershel Shanks (who believes the inscription is genuine) wrote the current situation was that most Hebrew language scholars believe that the inscription is a forgery and geologists that it is genuine, and thus "Because we rely on experts, and because there is an apparently irresolvable conflict of experts in this case, BAR has taken no position with respect to the authenticity of the Jehoash Inscription."[28]
  • In 1940 American archaeologist Nelson Glueck "proclaimed ... that he had discovered the Edomite mines controlled by King Solomon,"[29] used to construct the Temple's furnishings.[30] Later in '97, investigating the role of "metallurgy in [the] social evolution" of Southern Jordan, University of California anthropologist Tom Levy "started probing the site known as Khirbat en Nahas (Arabic for "ruins of copper")."[29][31] The samples Levy sent off to "Oxford for radiocarbon dating confirmed that Glueck had been on the right track: This was a tenth-century copper production site ‒ and Levy adds ... 'the closest copper source to Jerusalem.'"[29] In response to these findings archaeologist Amihai Mazar has stated, "I believe that if, one day, we should find the copper objects from the temple in Jerusalem, it will prove to come from this area".[32]
  • An ostracon sometimes referred to as the House of Yahweh ostracon was discovered at Tel Arad, dated to 6th century BCE which mentions a temple which is probably the Temple in Jerusalem.[33]

Notable mentions

  • In the 6th century CE, the Temple was included on a list of seven wonders which included the Pharos of Alexandria and Noah's Ark, compiled by Gregory, Bishop of Tours.[34]
  • Sir Isaac Newton (1642–1727), the noted English scientist, mathematician and theologian, studied and wrote extensively upon the Temple of Solomon. He dedicated an entire chapter of The Chronology of Ancient Kingdoms to his observations regarding the temple. Newton was intrigued by the temple's sacred geometry and believed that it was designed by King Solomon with privileged eyes and divine guidance.
  • The Hamburgmuseum in Germany has a 17th-century model of the temple

See also

Footnotes

General references

  • Template:Eastons
  • Template:JewishEncyclopedia

Further reading

21st century resources
  • Margaret Barker, "Temple Theology", London: SPCK 2004 (ISBN 028105634X)
  • Andrew G. Vaughn, Ann E. Killebrew (eds), "in Bible and Archaeology: The First Temple Period" (Society of Biblical Literature, 2003)
  • Marty E. Stevens, "Temples, Tithes and Taxes: The Temple and the Economic Life of Ancient Israel (Hendrickson, 2006)
  • William G. Dever, "What Did The Biblical Writers Know and When Did They Know It?" (Eerdman's, 2001)
  • Floyd Nolen Jones, "The Chronology Of The Old Testament" (New Leaf Publishing Group, 1993–2004)
Post-1945 resources
  • Elizabeth Bloch-Smith, Who is the King of Glory?: Solomon's Temple and its Symbolism in Michael D. Coogan, J. Cheryl Exum, Lawrence E. Stager (eds), "Scripture and Other Artifacts: Essays in Honor of Philip J. King" (Westminster John Knox, 1994)
  • Gershon Galil, "The Chronology of the Kings of Israel and Judah" (Brill, 1996)
  • Joseph Blenkinsopp, "Sage, Priest, Prophet: Religious and Intellectual Leadership in Ancient Israel" (Westminster John Knox Press, 1995)
  • Jeremy Hughes, "Secrets of the times: myth and history in biblical chronology" (Sheffield Academic Press, 1990)
  • Edwin R. Thiele, "The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings" (Zondervan, 1983)
  • Watson E. Mills, Roger Aubrey Bullard (eds), "Mercer dictionary of the Bible" (Mercer University Press, 1990)
Pre-1945 resources
  • Paine, T. O. (1870). Solomon's temple: Including the tabernacle; first temple; house of the king, or house of the forest of Lebanon; idolatrous high places; the city on the mountain ... the oblation of the holy portion; and the last temple. Boston: H.H. & T.W. Carter

External links

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