THE JERUSALEM TEMPLE AND CHRIST'S COMING #2
From the book by Dr.Grant Jeffrey (published 2007)
THE GLORY OF JERUSALEM'S TEMPLE
J goes through starting on page 3, the unequaled building
project of the Temple - 1 Chron.28:19; 28:11-12; 1 Kings 6:7. He
says the stones were quarried from three locations: the Royal
caverns beneath the present day Muslim Quarter in the northern
portion of the Old City; the quarries near the present-day
Knesset (Israel's parliament buildings); a quarry in Lebanon,
from which the stones were transported on rafts to Joppa.
J says that Jewish sages hand down curious traditions that
many miracles took place during the building of the Temple.
Starting on page 36 J goes into the building materials that
were used for Solomon's Temple. In today's calculation the gold
used in the Temple would be $64 billion. The one million talents
of silver, equal to 30 thousands tons today, would be today
nearly $13 billion. J tells us that Josephus (the Jewish
historian of the first century A.D. records the Temple walls and
floors were covered in gold.
The interior ceiling 180 feet long and 90 feet wide and the
height was 50 feet. The highest point of the exterior structure
was 207 feet. J gives more measurements but based on a cubit of
36 inches, although he admits there were several different
lengths of the ancient cubit.
So all his given measurements are really up for grabs, and
may not have been anywhere as large as J would like it to be.
Cedar wood came from Lebanon. Solomon put 20 small towns
under the king Haram to help pay for cedars, stones, and
craftsmen from that area (see 1 Kings 9:11).
J starts his expounding of the "courts" of the Temple on
page 38. The major entrance was through the Royal Porch, yet that
porch contained a number of porches that encompassed the huge
expanse of the Court of the Temple, commonly called the Court of
the Gentiles. The were pillars and costly and beautiful paving of
The more sacred courts were constructed on higher and higher
levels. There has been found in the middle 1800s an ancient
inscription near the Temple Mount that warned the Gentiles not to
proceed beyond the court of the Gentiles on pain of death.
The Temple sanctuary itself was composed of three individual
courts: the Court of the Women, the Court of the Israelites, the
Court of the Priests (open only to priests and those offering
The "Beautiful Gate" was of brass and Jewish tradition
claims the massive brass double doors were so heavy that 20
strong Levite priests were required to open and close them.
J tells us, "As the worshipper entered the Temple
superstructure, he or she would ascend using a series of
magnificent marble staircases. Having entered through the Court
of the Gentiles, the worshipper would take a staircase directly
to the front of the Temple itself, leading to the Court of the
Women, then higher yet to the Court of the Israelites, and
finally into the more sacred Court of the Priests. In this
highest structure, the priests performed their worship duties"
Concerning the Court of the Women, J tells us: "The Court of
the Women included 4 chambers. Any Jew (man or woman) was
permitted to enter this court. The entrance from the Court of the
Women into the Court of the Israelites was the massive Gate of
Nicanor. According to Jewish traditions, the gate was named for
the wealthy man who donated the costly brass gate. fifteen steps
upward led through the gate, and on the Feast of Tabernacles,
Levite priests would stand on these steps and sing the fifteen
"Psalms of Degree [Psalms 120-34].
"The Court of the Israelites was restricted to Jewish males.
A low marble structure 18 inches high separated it from the court
of the Priests, an area restricted to the Jewish worshippers of
both gender who were there to offer sacrifices.
The Court of the Priests was quite large, measuring
approximately 260 feet long by 202 wide. Animal sacrifices were
carried out daily in the Court of the Priests" (pages 41,42).
(Again, not sure how J is calculating this for us into feet;
the measurement would vary according to which length of cubit you
would use. So the measurements from J could have been much
smaller. But its always nice to have HUGE measurements [I'm
saying this with tongue in cheek] - Keith Hunt)
J does give us some good mind-blowing information about the
ALTAR, AND BLOOD of the sacrifices.
"The altar was constructed of unhewn stones that were
whitewashed every six months to eliminate the inevitable
discoloration caused by the blood of animal sacrifices. The altar
formed a square measuring approximately 48 feet on each side
(again that depends of the cubit measurement - could have been
much smaller - Keith Hunt) and stood almost 15 feet high. Four
hollow 'hours' rose approximately 18 inches higher than the top
surface of the altar at each corner. the horns were used to
receive the drink offerings, including the special offering of
water from the Pool of Siloam that was poured into the horns
during the Feast of Tabernacles.
"The vast number of animals sacrificed during the major days
of liturgical sacrifice (Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles)
produced and enormous amount of blood and waste, which had to be
removed from the altar area. A complex system of tunnels and
aqueducts brought a massive amount of water to the Temple from
huge reservoirs surrounding Jerusalem. The aqueduct was designed
using sophisticated engineering that staggers the imagination;
the tunnel system transported water over a 40 mile course, and it
was constructed almost 3 thousand years ago! The tunnels were
drilled through mountains. Aqueducts were built around mountains,
and segments of the watercourse had a drop in elevation of only a
few inches per mile. However, the system succeeded in carrying
water dozens of miles from near Bethlehem, Etham, and Hebron to
the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. (This is truly amazing when you
consider that the city of Jerusalem is high up, you would
literally 'go down' from Jerusalem to other towns below - Keith
"It has been calculated that more than ten million gallons
of water were stored in the system of 39 cisterns located in
subterranean chambers deep beneath the Temple Mount. The greatest
of these cisterns, known as the Great Sea, alone held more than 2
million gallons of water.
"The water was used to flush the blood and other animal
waste materials through an elaborate system of drainage tunnels
that lay beneath the surface flagstones of the Temple. Animal
waste products were flushed east-ward to outlets deep in the
Kidron Valley. Years of accumulated waste material produced an
incredibly rich compost that was treasured by the gardeners of
ancient Jerusalem, according to Jewish tradition" (pages 42,43).
Consecration of the Temple is in 1 Kings 8:43). See also 2
The Scriptures record that the priests sacrificed 22,000
oxen and 120,000 sheep during the festival of dedication.The meat
as J points out would have been distributed to the priests. and
the people coming to the festival. J also points out: "If the
recorded number of sacrificed animals seems impossibly high,
remember that the Muslim leader Khalif Moktader is reported by
the explorer Sir Richard Burton, who secretly visited Mecca in
disguise, to have sacrificed 40,000 camels and 50,000 sheep
during a major festival in the 1870s" (page 44).
It was around 18 B.C, that King Herod began an immense
building project to reconstruct and enlarge the Second Temple to
try and rival that of Solomon's Temple. This reconstruction was
still going on during Jesus' ministry some 46 years later. We are
told this from the Gospel of the New Testament You might remember
Jesus said "Destroy this temple and i will raise it up in three
days." They laughed at Him, saying the Temple was 46 years in
building, so how could He raise it up in three days. Jesus was
not speaking about the physical Temple of Jerusalem, but about
His body as the Temple of God.
Josephus does record that: "Accordingly in the fifteenth
year of his reign, he [king Herod] restored the existing
sanctuary and round it enclosed an area double the former size,
keeping no account of its cost and achieving magnificence beyond
J tells us that Herod was king of a prosperous Israeli
empire that produced annual revenues of more than $70 million,
according to Josephus (page 45).
Herod employed more than a thousand large wagons to
transport the quarried limestone for the Temple. Some of the
foundation stones were taken from a quarry near the present-day
Knesset (the Israeli parliament building), many of the large
stones were carved from the Royal Caverns deep beneath the
northeastern quarter of Jerusalem. Huge wagons transported the
stones from the Royal Caverns through the subterranean entrance
to the Temple Mount (page 45).
J writes: "The Roman historian Tacitus, who was a
contemporary of the apostle Paul, wrote with great admiration of
the glories of the Temple as it existed in the days of Herod the
Great: 'The temple resembled a citadel, and had its own walls,
which were more laboriously constructed than the others. Even the
colonnades with which it was surrounded formed an admirable
outwork. It contained an inexhaustible spring; there were
subterranean excavations in the hill, and tanks and cisterns for
holding rain water'" (page 45).
To be continued