The Building of Solomons Temple Preparations for it Plan and Structure of the Temple, Internal Fittings History of the Temple Jewish Traditions.
(1 KINGS 5, 6, 7:13-51, 8:6-9; 2 CHRONICLES 2, 3, 4, 5:7-10)
WHILE Solomon thus wisely and in the fear of God ordered his government, and the country enjoyed a measure of prosperity, wealth, and power never before or afterwards attained, the grand work of his reign yet remained to be done. This was the building of an "house unto the Name of Jehovah God." We have already seen how earnestly David had this at heart; how fully it corresponded with the Divine promise; and how fitly its execution was assigned to Solomon as the great task of his reign, viewing it as typical of that of "David's greater Son." As might be expected, all outward circumstances contributed to further the work. Israel, as a nation, was not intended to attain pre-eminence either in art or science. If we may venture to pronounce on such a matter, this was the part assigned, in the Providence of God, to the Gentile world. To Israel was specially entrusted the guardianship of that spiritual truth, which in the course of ages would develop in all its proportions, until finally it became the common property of the whole world. On the other hand, it was the task assigned to that world, to develop knowledge and thought so as to prepare a fitting reception for the truth, that thus it might be presented in all its aspects, and carried from land to land in a form adapted to every nation, meeting every want and aspiration. This was symbolically indicated even in the building of Solomon's Temple. For, if that Temple had been exclusively the workmanship of Jewish hands, both the materials for it and their artistic preparation would have been sadly defective, as compared with what it actually became. But it was not so; and, while in the co-operation of Gentiles with Israel in the rearing of the Temple we see a symbol of their higher union in the glorious architecture of that "spiritual house built up" of "lively stones," we also recognize the gracious Providence of God, which rendered it possible to employ in that work the best materials and the best artificers of the ancient world.
For it was in the good Providence of God that the throne of Tyre was at the time occupied by Hiram,* who had not only been a friend and ally of David, but to whom the latter had communicated his plans of the projected Temple-buildings. Indeed, Hiram had already furnished David with a certain proportion of the necessary materials for the work (1 Chronicles 22:4). The extraordinary mechanical skill of the Phoenicians - especially of the Sidonians - was universally famed in the ancient world.** Similarly, the best materials were at their command. On the slopes of Lebanon, which belonged to their territory, grew those world-famed cedars with which the palaces of Assyria were adorned, and, close by, at Gebal (the ancient Byblos, the modern Jebeil) were the most skilled workmen*** (Ezekiel 27:9).
* Also written Hirom. (1 Kings 5:10, 18 - in the Hebrew, 4:24, 32), and in 2 Chronicles 2. Huram.
** Comp. the quotations in the Speaker's Comment. (2, p. 507a,)and Movers, Phoniz. 2, 1. pp. 86, etc.
*** Our Authorized Version translates wrongly, "stone-squarers" (1 Kings 5:18), where the original has "Gebalites," i.e., inhabitants of Gebal.
On the same slopes grew also the cypress,* so suitable for flooring, its wood being almost indestructible, and impervious to rot and worms; while the Phoenician merchantmen brought to Tyre that "almug," "algum," or red sandal-wood which was so valued in antiquity (comp. 1 Kings 10:11)**
* There has been much controversy as to the meaning of the word berosh, rendered in the Authorized Version (1 Kings 5:8, and many other passages) by "fir." Differing from Canon Rawlinson, it seems to me, for many reasons, most improbable that it was "the juniper," and on the grounds explained in Gesenius' Thesaurus 1. 946 b, 247 a, I regard it, with almost all authorities, as the cypress. The Targumim and the Talmud have the words berotha and beratha, with apparently the same signification. Comp. Levy, Chald. Worterb. 2 d. Targ. p. I I8 b. Canon Tristram, who is always trustworthy (Nat. Hist. of the Bible), speaks of it with caution.
** Most commentators are agreed that it was the "red sandal" wood. It is curious to notice that this was apparently an article of ordinary commerce. The "Ophir" (or Red Sea) fleet of King Solomon, on the other hand, is only said to have brought "gold" (1 Kings 9:28; 2 Chronicles 8:17, 18). Remembering that this wood had to come from Tyre, there is not the slightest inaccuracy in 2 Chronicles 2:8, as Zockler and even Keil seem to imagine.
The same skill as in the preparation of woodwork distinguished the Phoenician carvers, stone-cutters, dyers, modelers, and other craftsmen. To have at his disposal the best artificers of Phoenicia, and these under a trained and celebrated "master" (2 Chronicles 2:13, 14), must have been of immense advantage to Solomon. At the same time the extensive preparations which David had made rendered the work comparatively so easy, that the Temple-buildings, with their elaborate internal fittings, were completed in the short space of seven years (1 Kings 6:37, 38), while the later rearing of the king's palace occupied not less than thirteen years (1 Kings 7:1). But, although Solomon thus availed himself of Phoenician skill in the execution of the work, the plan and design were strictly Jewish, having, in fact, been drawn long before, in the time of King David.
The building of the Temple commenced in the second month ("Siv," "splendor" - the month of opening beauty of nature) of the fourth year of Solomon's reign, being the 480th from the Exodus* (1 Kings 6:1).
* Doubt has been thrown on the accuracy of this date, which indeed is altered by the LXX; but this, as it seems to us, on wholly insufficient grounds.
But there was this peculiarity about the work, that no sound of ax, hammer, or chisel was heard on Mount Moriah while the Holy House was rising, day by day, in beauty and glory. As Jewish tradition has it, "The iron is created to shorten the days of man, and the altar to lengthen them; therefore it is not right that that which shortens should be lifted upon that which lengthens" (Midd. 3:4). The massive timber used was not merely prepared but dressed before it was brought to the sea, to be conveyed in floats to Joppa, whence the distance to Jerusalem was only about forty miles (1 Kings 5:9). Similarly, those great, splendid (not "costly," as in the Authorized Version) hewed stones (1 Kings 5:17), beveled at the edges, of which to this day some are seen in what remains of the ancient Temple-wall - the largest of them being more than thirty feet long by seven and a half high, and weighing above one hundred tons - were all chiseled and carefully marked before being sent to Jerusalem (1 Kings 6:7). An undertaking of such magnitude would require, especially in the absence of modern mechanical appliances, a very large number of workmen. They amounted in all to 60,000 Palestinians, who were divided into two classes. The first comprised native Israelites, of whom 30,000 were raised by a "levy," which, taking the census of David as our basis, would be at the rate of considerably less than one in forty-four of the able-bodied male population. These 30,000 men worked by relays, 10,000 being employed during one month, after which they returned for two months to their homes. The second class of workmen, which consisted of strangers resident in Palestine (1 Kings 5:15; 2 Chronicles 2:17,18), amounted to 150,000, of whom 70,000 were burden-bearers, and 80,000 "hewers in the mountains," or rather, as the expression always means, "stonecutters."
The two classes are carefully distinguished the Israelites being free laborers, who worked under the direction of Hiram's skilled men; while the others, who were the representatives of the ancient heathen inhabitants of Palestine, were really held to "bond-service" (1 Kings 9:20, 21; 2 Chronicles 2:17, 18; 8:7-9). The total number of men employed (160,000), though large, cannot be considered excessive, when compared, for example, with the 360,000 persons engaged for twenty years on the building of one pyramid (Pliny, Hist. Nat. 36. 12. apud Bahr u.s.) Over these men 3,300 officers were appointed (1 Kings 5:16), with 550 "chiefs" (1 Kings 9:23), of whom 250 were apparently native Israelites (2 Chronicles 8:10.)* The number of skilled artificers furnished by Hiram is not mentioned, though probably the proportion was comparatively small. A very vivid impression is left on our minds of the transaction between the two kings.
* There is no real discrepancy between the number of the "officers," as given respectively in Chronicles and in Kings. The sum total (3,850) is in both cases the same - the arrangement in Chronicles being apparently according to nationality, and in the Book of Kings according to office (1 Kings, 3,300,550; 2 Chronicles, 3600 + 2501)
When Hiram sent a friendly embassy to congratulate Solomon on his accession, the latter replied by another, which was charged formally to ask help in the building about to be undertaken. The request was entertained by Hiram in the most cordial manner. At the same time, bearing in mind Eastern phraseology, and that a Phoenician ally of David would readily recognize the God of Israel as a "national Deity," there is no reason for inferring, from the terms of his reply, that Hiram was personally a worshipper of Jehovah (1 Kings 5:7; 2 Chronicles 2:12). The agreement seems to have been, that Solomon would undertake to provide for the support of Hiram's men, wheat, barley, and oil, to the amount specified in 2 Chronicles 2:10; while, so long as building materials were required, Hiram charged for them at an annual rate of 20,000 measures of wheat, and twenty measures (about ten hogsheads) of "beaten oil," - that is, the best in the market, which derived its name from its manufacture, the oil being extracted by beating the olives before they were quite ripe (1 Kings 5:11). In regard to these terms, it should be remembered that Phoenicia was chiefly dependent on Palestine for its supply of grain and oil (Ezekiel 27:17; Acts 12:20). Lastly, the name of the "master-workman/' whom Hiram sent, has also been preserved to us as Huram, or rather Churam,* a man of Jewish descent by the mother's side (2 Chronicles 2:13, 14; comp. 1 Kings 7:14; 2 Chronicles 4:16).** Even the completeness and entirely satisfactory character of these arrangements proved, that in this respect also "Jehovah gave Solomon wisdom, as He had promised him" (1 Kings 5:12).
* The name is the same as that of the king himself.
** Our Authorized Version of 2 Chronicles 2:13 is entirely misleading. The sacred text mentions "Huram" as "Abi" "my father," - not the father of King Hiram, but a title of distinction given to this able man (comp. the use of the word "Ab" in regard to Joseph, Genesis 45:8), and equivalent to "master."
Without entering into details,* the general appearance and proportions of the Temple which Solomon built can be described without much difficulty.
* The literature of this subject is very large, and details are often most difficult.
The Temple itself faced east - that is to say, the worshippers entered by the east, and, turning to the Most Holy Place, would look west; while, if the veil had been drawn aside, the Ark in the innermost Sanctuary would have been seen to face eastwards. Entering then by the east, the worshipper would find himself in front of "a porch," which extended along the whole width of the Temple, - that is, twenty cubits, or about thirty feet - and went back a depth of ten cubits, or fifteen feet. The Sanctuary itself was sixty cubits (ninety feet) long, twenty cubits (thirty feet) wide, and thirty cubits (forty-five feet) high. The height of the porch is not mentioned in the Book of Kings, and the numeral given for it in 2 Chronicles 3:4, is evidently a copyist's error.* Probably it rose to a height of about thirty cubits.**
* A height of 120 cubits would be out of all proportion, and, indeed, considering the width and length, almost impossible.
** Of the textual alterations proposed, the first ( ham , 100, into hwma "cubits") seems the easiest, although it involves the elimination of the w with which the next word in the Hebrew begins. On the other hand, "thirty cubits" seems a more suitable height, especially as the absence of its measurement in 1 Kings seems to convey that the "porch" had the same height as the main building. But this implies two alterations in the text, it being difficult to understand how, if the numeral 30 was originally written by a letter ( l , of which, it is supposed, the blotting out of the upper half made it appear like k =20), the copyist finding twma written in full could have mistaken it for ham , 100, which also ought to have been written with a letter ( q ). It is, however, possible that instead of the full word, twma , the MS. may have borne yma , and the copyist have been thus misled.
Of the total length of the Sanctuary, forty cubits were apportioned to the Holy Place, (which was thus sixty feet long, thirty wide, and forty-five high), and twenty cubits (thirty feet) to the Most Holy Place, which (1 Kings 6:20) is described as measuring twenty cubits* (thirty feet) in length, width, and height. The ten cubits (fifteen feet) left above the Most Holy Place were apparently occupied by an empty room. Perhaps, as in the Temple of Herod, this space was used for letting down the workmen through an aperture, when repairs were required in the innermost Sanctuary. In that case the access to it would have been from the roof. The latter was, no doubt, flat.**
* Thus the Most Holy Place would have had exactly double the proportions of that in the Tabernacle, while the height of the Holy Place was ten cubits (fifteen feet) higher.
** It is with great reluctance and becoming modesty - though without misgiving - that I differ from so justly famous an authority as Mr. Ferguson (Smith's Bibl. Dict. vol. 3., Art. "Temple "). Mr. Ferguson, and after him most English writers, have maintained that the roof, both of the Tabernacle and of the Temple, was sloping, and not flat. This view is, to say the least, wholly unsupported by the text of Holy Scripture. Canon Rawlinson, indeed, speaks of Mr. Ferguson's view as "demonstrated," but, surely, without weighing the meaning of the word which he has italicized.
The measurements just given apply, of course, only to the interior of these buildings. As regards their exterior we have to add not only the thickness of the walls on either side, and the height of the roof, but also a row of side-buildings, which have, not inaptly, been designated as a "lean-to." These side-buildings consisted of three tiers of chambers, which surrounded the Temple, south, west, and north - the east front being covered by the "porch." On the side where these chambers abutted on the Temple they seem to have had no separate wall. The beams, which formed at the same time the ceiling of the first and the floor of the second tier of chambers, and similarly those which formed the ceiling of the second and the floor of the third tier, as also those on which the roof over the third tier rested, were not inserted within the Temple wall, but were laid on graduated buttresses which formed part of the main wall of the Temple.
These buttresses receded successively one cubit in each of the two higher tiers of chambers, and for the roofing of the third, thus forming, as it were, narrowing steps, or receding rests on which the beams of the chambers were laid. The effect was that, while the walls of the Temple decreased one cubit in thickness with each tier, the chambers increased one cubit in width, as they ascended. Thus, if at the lowest tier the wall including the buttress was, say, six cubits thick, at the next tier of chambers it was, owing to the decrease in the buttress, only five cubits thick, and at the third only four cubits, while above the roof, where the buttress ceased, the walls would be only three cubits thick. For the same reason each tier of chambers, built on gradually narrowing or receding rebatements, would be one cubit wider than that below, the chambers on the lowest tier being five cubits wide, on the second six cubits, and on the third seven cubits. If we suppose these tiers with their roof to have been altogether sixteen to eighteen cubits high (1 Kings 6:10), and allow a height of two cubits for the roof of the Temple, whose walls were thirty cubits high (the total height, including roof, thirty-two cubits), this would leave an elevation of twelve to fourteen cubits (eighteen to twenty-one feet) for the wall of the Temple above the roof of "the chambers." Within this space of twelve to fourteen cubits we suppose the "windows" to have been inserted - south and north, the back of the Most Holy Place (west) having no windows, and the front (east) being covered by the "porch." The use of the "chambers" is not mentioned in the sacred text, but it seems more probable that they served for the deposit of relics of the ancient Tabernacle, and for the storage of sacred vessels, than that they were the sleeping apartments of the ministering priesthood. Access to these "chambers" was gained by a door in the middle of the southern facade, whence also a winding stair led to the upper tiers (1 Kings 6:8). The windows of the Temple itself, which we have supposed to have been above the roof of the "chambers," were with "fixed lattices"* (1 Kings 6:4), which could not be opened, as in private dwellings, and were probably constructed, like the windows of old castles and churches, broad within, but mere slits externally.
* Not as in our Authorized Version, "windows of narrow lights."
While these protracted works were progressing, the LORD in His mercy gave special encouragement alike to Solomon and to the people. The word of the LORD, which on this occasion came to the king (1 Kings 6:11-13) - no doubt through a prophet, not only fully confirmed the promise made to David (2 Samuel 7:12, etc.), but also connected the "house" that was being built to the LORD with the ancient promise (Exodus 25:8; 29:45) that God would dwell in Israel as among His people. Thus it pointed king and people beyond that outward building which, rising in such magnificence, might have excited only national pride, to its spiritual meaning, and to the conditions under which alone it would fulfill its great purpose.*
* A fuller description of the Temple, and a detailed discussion of the various points in controversy among writers on the subject, would lead beyond the limit which we must here assign ourselves.
Thus far we have given a description of the exterior of the Temple.* It still remains to convey some idea of its internal arrangements. If we may judge by the description of Ezekiel's Temple (Ezekiel 40:49), and by what we know of the Temple of Herod, some steps would lead up to the porch, which, as we imagine, presented the appearance of an open colonnade of cedar, set in a pavement of hewn stones, and supporting a cedar-roof covered with marble.
* Some have imagined that the Most Holy Place was, like the chancel in most churches, lower than the Holy Place (ten feet). Lundius has drawn the porch to the height of a gigantic steeple. Many (mostly fanciful) sketch-plans of the Temple have been drawn; but it would be out of place here to enter into further details.
The most prominent objects here were the two great pillars, Jachin and Boaz, which Hiram cast by order of Solomon (1 Kings 7:15-22). These pillars stood, as we are expressly told, within "the porch" (1 Kings 7:21), and must have served alike architectural, artistic, and symbolical purposes. Added after the completion of the "House," perhaps for the better support of the roof of the "porch," their singular beauty must have attracted the eye, while their symbolical meaning appeared in their names. Jachin ("He supports"), Boaz ("in Him is strength"), pointed beyond the outward support and strength which these pillars gave, to Him on Whom not only the Sanctuary but every one who would truly enter it must rest for support and strength. Some difficulty has been experienced in computing the height of these pillars, including their "chapiters," or "capitals" (1 Kings 7:15-22), It seems most likely that they consisted of single shafts, each eighteen cubits high and twelve in circumference,* surmounted by a twofold "chapiter" - the lower of five cubits, with fretted network depending, and ornamented with two rows of one hundred pomegranates; the higher chapiter four cubits high (1 Kings 7:19), and in the form of an opening lily. The symbolical significance of the pomegranate and of the lily - the one the flower, the other the fruit of the Land of Promise, and both emblematic of the pure beauty and rich sweetness of holiness - need scarcely be pointed out. If we compute the height of these pillars with their chapiters at twenty-seven cubits,** we have three cubits left for the entablature and, the roofing of the porch (18 + 5 + 4 + 3 = 30).
* Canon Rawlinson has shown that the columns of the Egyptian temples were thicker than those of Solomon's.
** Other calculations have also been proposed, as by Bahr and Merz
"The porch," which (in its tablature) was overlaid with gold (2 Chronicles 3:4), opened into the Holy Place by folding doors, each of two leaves, folding back upon each other. These doors, which were the width of a fourth of the wall (1 Kings 6:33), or five cubits, were made of cypress-wood, and hung by golden hinges on door-posts of olive-wood. They were decorated with carved figures of cherubim between palm-trees,* and above them opening flower-buds and garlands, the whole being covered with thin plates of gold, which showed the design beneath. Within the Sanctuary all the sacred furniture was of gold, while that outside of it was of brass.
* Probably they were in panels, each having two cherubs and a palm tree.
In truth, the Sanctuary was a golden house. The floor, which was of cypress-wood, was overlaid with gold; the walls, which were paneled with cedar, on which the same designs were carved as on the doors, were covered with gold, and so was the ceiling. It need scarcely be said, how it must have glittered and shone in the light of the sacred candlesticks, especially as the walls were encrusted with gems (2 Chronicles 3:6). There were ten candlesticks in the Holy Place, each seven-branched, and of pure gold. They were ranged right and left before the Most Holy Place* (1 Kings 7:49).
* Keil supposes that only two of these candlesticks stood before the Most Holy Place, while the other eight were ranged, four and four, along the side walls, five tables of shewbread being placed in the interstices behind them, along each of the side walls. In that case, however, it would not have been easy to go round the tables.
The entrance to the Most Holy Place was covered by a veil "of blue and purple, and crimson, and byssus," with "wrought cherubs thereon" (2 Chronicles 3:14). Between the candlesticks stood the "altar of incense," made of cedar-wood and overlaid with gold (1 Kings 6:20, 22; 7:48); while ten golden tables of shewbread (2 Chronicles 4:8) were ranged right and left. The implements necessary for the use of this sacred furniture were also of pure gold (1 Kings 7:49, 50).
Two folding-doors, similar in all respects to those already described, except that they were of oleaster wood, and not a fourth, but a fifth of the wall (= 4 cubits), opened from the Holy Place into the Most Holy. These doors we suppose to have always stood open, the entrance being concealed by the great veil, which the High-priest lifted, when on the Day of Atonement he went into the innermost Sanctuary.*
* This we conclude from the circumstance, that otherwise there would have been no use of a veil, and that we do not read of the High-priest opening the doors on the Day of Atonement.
Considerable difficulty attaches to a notice in 1 Kings 6:21, which has been variously translated and understood. Two interpretations here specially deserve attention. The first regards the "chains of gold before the Oracle," as chain-work that fastened together the cedar-planks forming the partition between the Holy and the Most Holy Place - somewhat like the bars that held together the boards in the Tabernacle. The other, which to us seems the more likely,* represents the partition boards between the Holy and the Most Holy Place, as not reaching quite to the ceiling, and this "chain-work" as running along the top of the boarding.
* Most writers suppose that these chains were drawn inside to further bar access to the Most Holy Place. But no mention is made of their existence or removal on the Day of Atonement. The view we have expressed is that of the Rabbis.
For some opening of this kind seems almost necessary for ventilation, for letting out the smoke of the incense on the Day of Atonement, and to admit at least a gleam of light, without which the ministrations of the High-priest on that day, limited though they were, would have been almost impossible. The only object within the Most Holy Place was the Ark overshadowed by the Cherubim. It was the same which had stood in the Tabernacle. But Solomon placed on either side of it (south and north) a gigantic figure of a Cherub, carved out of oleaster wood, and overlaid with gold. Each was ten cubits high; and the two, with their outspread wings, which touched over the Mercy-Seat, ten cubits wide. Thus, the two cherubim with their outspread wings reached (south and north) from one wall of the Sanctuary to the other (1 Kings 6:23-28). But, whereas the Mosaic Cherubim looked inwards and downwards towards the Mercy-Seat, those made by Solomon looked outwards towards the Holy Place, with probably a slight inclination downwards (2 Chronicles 3:13). Another notice has raised differences of opinion. From 1 Kings 8:8, we learn that the "staves" by which the Ark was carried were "drawn forward" ("lengthened," not "drawn out," as in the Authorized Version), so that their heads were visible from the Holy Place. As these "staves" were never to be drawn out (Exodus 25:15), and as all view of the interior of the Most Holy Place was precluded, this could only have been effected (as the Rabbis suggest) by drawing the staves forward, so that their heads would slightly bulge out on the veil. Of course this would imply that the staves faced east and west - not, as is generally supposed, south and north. Nor is there any valid objection to this supposition.
Descending from "the Porch," we stand in the "inner" (1 Kings 6:36) or "Court of the Priests" (2 Chronicles 4:9). This was paved with great stones, as was also the outer or "Great Court" (2 Chronicles 4:9) of the people. Within the "inner" or Priests' Court, facing the entrance to the Sanctuary, was "the altar of burnt-offering" (1 Kings 8:64), made of brass, and probably filled within with earth and unhewn stones. It was ten cubits high, and twenty cubits in length and breadth at the base - probably narrowing as it ascended, like receding buttresses* (2 Chronicles 4:1).
* This was certainly the structure of the altar in the Temple of Herod (comp. Midd. 3. 1.) In general, I must here refer the reader to the description of that Temple in The Temple, its Ministry and Services at the Time of Jesus Christ, and to my translation of the Mishnic Tractate Middoth, in the Appendix to Sketches of Jewish Social Life in the Days of Christ. Our present limits prevent more than the briefest outline.
Between the altar and the porch stood the colossal "sea of brass," five cubits high, and thirty cubits in circumference (1 Kings 7:23-26; 2 Chronicles 4:2-5). Its upper rim was bent outwards, "like the work of the brim of a cup, in the shape of a lily-flower." Under the brim it was ornamented by two rows of opening flower-buds, ten to a cubit. This immense basin rested on a pedestal of twelve oxen, three looking to each point of the compass. Its object was to hold the water in which the priests and Levites performed their ablutions. For the washing of the inwards and of the pieces of the sacrifices, ten smaller "lavers" of brass were provided, which stood on the right and left "side of the House" (1 Kings 7:38; 2 Chronicles 4:6). They were placed on square "bases," or, rather, wagons of brass, four cubits long and broad, and three cubits high, which rested on "four feet" (not "corners," as in the Authorized Version, 1 Kings 7:30) upon wheels, so as to bring them readily to the altar. Bearing in mind the height of the altar, this accounts for their being four cubits high (4 cubits for the laver itself). The sides of these wagons were richly ornamented with figures of lions, oxen, and cherubs, and beneath them were "garlands, pensile work."*
* See Speaker's Comment. 2., p. 521 - not, as in our Authorized Version, "certain additions made of thin work" (1 Kings 7:29).
Although it is not easy to make out all the other details, it seems that the tops of these "bases" or wagons had covers, which bulged inwards to receive the lavers, the latter being further steadied by supports ("undersetters" in the Authorized Version, or rather "shoulder-pieces"). The covers of the wagons were also richly ornamented. Lastly, in the Priests' Court, and probably within full view of the principal gate, stood the brazen scaffold or stand (2 Chronicles 6:13) from which King Solomon offered his dedicatory prayer, and which seems to have always been the place occupied in the Temple by the kings (2 Kings 11:14; 23:3). To this a special "ascent" led from the palace (1 Kings 10:5), which was, perhaps afterwards, roofed over for protection from the weather.* The Priests' Court was enclosed by a wall consisting of three tiers of hewn stones and a row of cedar beams (1 Kings 6:36).
* This was "the covert for the Sabbath" (2 Kings 16:18). The Rabbis hold it to have been the exclusive privilege of the kings to sit down within the Priests' Court.
From the court of the priests steps led down to the "outer court" of the people (comp. Jeremiah 36:10), which* was surrounded by a solid wall, from which four massive gates, covered with brass, opened upon the Temple-mount (2 Chronicles 4:9).
* This appears from 1 Chronicles 26:13-16.
In this court were large colonnades and chambers, and rooms for the use of the priests and Levites, for the storage of what was required in the services, and for other purposes. The principal gate was, no doubt, the eastern (Ezekiel 11:1), corresponding to the "Beautiful Gate" of New Testament times. To judge by the analogy of the other measurements, as compared with those of the Tabernacle, the Court of the Priests would be 100 cubits broad, and 200 cubits long, and the Outer Court double these proportions (comp. also Ezekiel 40:27).* Such, in its structure and fittings, was the Temple which Solomon built to the Name of Jehovah God. Its further history to its destruction, 416 years after its building, is traced in the following passages of Holy Scripture, 1 Kings 14:26; 15:18, etc.; 2 Chronicles 20:5; 2 Kings 12:5, etc.; 14:14; 15:35; 2 Chronicles 27:3; 2 Kings 16:8; 18:15, etc.; 21:4, 5, 7; 23:4, 7, 11; 24:13; 25:9, 13-17).**
* It is with exceeding reluctance that I forbear entering on the symbolical import of the Temple, of its materials, structure, and arrangements. But such discussions would evidently be outside the plan and limits of this Bible History.
** Comparing the Temple of Solomon with that of Herod, the latter was, of course, much superior, not only as regards size, but architectural beauty. To understand the difference, plans of the two should be placed side by side.
We add a few remarks which may interest the reader. From being so largely constructed of cedar-wood, the Temple is also figuratively called "Lebanon" (Zechariah 11:1). Among the Jewish legends connected with the Temple, one of the strangest is that about a certain worm Shamir, which, according to Aboth 5:6, was among the ten things created on the eve of the world's first Sabbath, just before sunset (see also Sifre on Deut. p. 147, a). In Gitt. 86, a and b, we are informed by what artifices Solomon obtained possession of this worm from Ashmedai, the prince of the demons. This worm possessed the power, by his touch, to cut the thickest stones, and was therefore used by Solomon for this purpose (comp. also generally Gitt. 68 a, and Sotah 48 b). According to Joma 53b, 54b, the Ark was placed upon what is called the "foundation stone of the world." So early as in the Targum Pseudo-Jonathan on Exodus 28:30, we read that the ineffable Name of God was engraved upon this stone, and that God at the first sealed up with it the mouth of the great deep. This may serve as a specimen of these legends. Perhaps we should add that, according to later Rabbis, the roof of the Temple was not quite flat, but slightly sloping, yet probably not higher in any part than the parapet around.
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