by RAYMOND CAPT M.A., A.I.A.
PLAN OF THE TEMPLE
"Now these are the things wherein Solomon was instructed for the building of the house of God. The length by cubits after the, first measure was threescore cubits, and the breadth twenty cubits. And the porch that was in the front of the house, the length of it was according to the breadth of the house, twenty cubits, and the height was an hundred and twenty: and he overlaid it with pure gold... And he made the most holy house, the length whereof was according to the breadth of the house, twenty cubits, and the breadth thereof twenty cubits: and he overlaid it with gold, amounting to six hundred talents." (II Chron. 3:3,4,8)
When King David wished to replace the Tabernacle with a more permanent building, God again furnished the plans of the building He would have built. This plan was communicated first to King David; and David communicated the same to his son Solomon, who took due notice thereof, and governed himself accordingly. The Temple was surrounded by two Courts: an "inner court," and a "great court."(I Kings 6:36; 7:12) Their size is not known. The great court may have included the Palace buildings.
Basically, the Temple was a simple house of two rooms, arranged lengthwise, with a roofed porch protecting the entrance. The interior size of the building is given as 60 cubits long, 20 cubits wide and 30 cubits high.
The "porch" or "vestibule," 20 cubits wide, corresponding to the inside width of the rest of the structure, was 10 cubits deep. Two brass pillars stood on the porch, one on each side of the doorway.
Beyond the porch was the main room known as the "Holy Place," 40 cubits long. Beyond that was the "Holy of Holies," a room in the shape of a cube, 20 cubits in each dimension.
Around the outside of the building were structures described as "side chambers" and arranged in three stories, the ground width being 5 cubits. No adequate information is given to conclude how access to the side chambers was gained, or how the staircase between floors was designed.
I Kings 7:12 describes a wall of "three rows" (or courses) around the Temple Courtyard. It is probable that the Temple walls and raised platform were laid in such fashion. This was characteristic of the Phoenician style of masonry current in that period, as indicated by a part ashlar wall uncovered in excavations at Samaria.
In the court, in front of the Temple, stood the great Altar of Burnt Offerings and the great brass bowl of water called the Molten Sea. On each side of the Temple were five brass Lavers.
In succeeding the Wilderness Tabernacle, the Temple of Solomon preserved and enhanced much of its predecessor's allegory. On comparing the Temple (as described in 1 Kings 7 and II Chron. 2 and by Josephus 7:3) with the Tabernacle, the first thing that strikes us is that all the arrangements were identical, and the dimensions of every part were exactly double those of the proceeding structure. Thus, the Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle was a cube 10 cubits each way; in the Temple it was 20 cubits. The Holy Place was 10 cubits wide by 20 cubits long and 10 cubits high in the Tabernacle; in the Temple these dimensions were exactly double. The porch in the Tabernacle was 5 cubits deep; in the Temple it was 10. Its width in both instances being the width of the house. The chambers around the Tabernacle and the Temple were each 5 cubits wide, on the ground-floor. The difference was that in the Temple the two walls taken together made up a thickness of 5 cubits, thus making 10 cubits for the chambers. Taking all these parts together, the exterior ground plan of the Temple measured 80 cubits by 40; that of the Tabernacle measured 40 by 20. The walls were 20 cubits high in one and 10 cubits high in the other. By doubling all the former measurement (of the Tabernacle) then multiplying length by width by height we obtain the volume of the Temple, which is eight fold greater than that of the Tabernacle. Eight (or octave) is the number symbolic of the beginning of a "new order." The Temple of Solomon prophetically pointed towards a New Order, in the future.
KING SOLOMON'S QUARRIES
"And the house when it was in building, was built of stone made ready before it was brought thither: so that there was neither hammer nor ax nor any tool of iron heard in the house while it was in building.'' (I Kings 6:7)
The stone used in the construction of Solomon's Temple came from quarries under the city of Jerusalem. One of the "Royal Quarries" was rediscovered, quite accidentally by an American physician, Dr. Barclay, in 1854 while walking with his two sons and his dog around the city walls. The scent of a fox caused the dog to begin to dig into a hole, in the dirt at the base of the wall. Suddenly the dog disappeared and Barclay enlarged the hole uncovering the entrance to an enormous cave.
Later that evening, after being equipped with lamps, a compass and writing material, Barclay and his sons entered the cave. Immediately upon entering, it became evident that the dirt had been piled up intentionally at the opening so as to hide it. This could have been done by the Turks after their rebuilding of the walls of the city in 1542. Going in, Barclay records, they came to a chamber with a high, arched ceiling supported by crude, massive pillars. A twisted path led down into the interior, to additional chambers with whitish ceilings and flat floors. They measured and eagerly recorded the details of the cave unfolding before their eyes.
The opening to the cavern is some 300 feet northeast of the Damascus Gate. It is known today, as "Zedekiah's Grotto" because of the legend of Zedekiah (last king of Judah) fleeing through the cave to a secret opening in the plain of Jericho. This was during the conquest of Jerusalem by Babylonian Empire in the summer of 587 B.C. The Bible tells in Kings 25:4,5, as well as in Jer. 52:7,8: "The King with all the men of war fled by night by the way of the gate between the two walls, by the king's garden, though the Chaldeans were around the city. And they went in the direction of Arab ah. But the army of the Chaldeans pursued the king, and overtook him in the plains of Jericho; and all his army was scattered from him.'' It should be noted, however, the Biblical account does not seem to agree with the location of the cavern.
Zedekiah's Grotto is one of the largest and most extensive man-made caverns in Israel, measuring nearly 750 in depth, and more than 3,000 feet in circumference. Although the entrance is very small, the opening quickly widens into a very wide chamber that slopes down to various branches of the cavern. The various chambers are separated by broad columns left by the quarrymen to support the ceiling. Cut into the walls of the cavern are triangular niches, intended to hold lamps to light up the cavern for the workers.
The rock through which the quarry extends is white massif limestone locally called "Melekeh'' or "Royal.'' Although it is not too hard, it does not flake off easily and after being worked and exposed to the air, turns a characteristically light-pinkish color and becomes much harder. The stone at the opening of the quarry consists of a different stone, also white, but a denser limestone locally called "Mizzi-helou," meaning "Sweet." (soft) It is very easily worked, though its striations prevent its being used in large blocks. There are also other limestones in the cavern bearing iron — "Mizzzi-ahmar" (red) and other harder stones too hard for cutting — "Mizzi-yehudi."(Jewish)
Everywhere can be seen evidence of the methods used by King Hiram's skilled stone masons in hewing the stone. Broad perpendicular cuttings or incisions were cut along a rock face. They were from three to six inches wide and seem to have been made by means of some sort of a pick with a long handle. When made to a required depth, dry wooden wedges were driven into the slits. Water poured over the wedges causing the timber to swell so that the pressure cracked the stone, along the slits. This same method was used by the builders of the Great Pyramid in Egypt.
Here and there, one can see stones half cut still adhering to the side walls. The marks of the pick and chisel are so clear and fresh in appearance that one has little difficulty in imagining that King Hiram's skilled quarry-men are still engaged in cutting the stones, and have only retired from the quarry for their noon-time meal. Several large quarried stones lie as they were left by the workers.
At the end of a small corridor that leads off from the main chamber may be seen a well or basin, about 5 feet in diameter and 2 and 1/2 feet deep, scooped out of the rock. It is designed to collect and hold water that percolates from fissures in the roof and the limestone walls. Fragments of pottery scattered about the area suggest the water may have been used for drinking purposes by the workers although it is very bitter.
In one of the chambers the French scholar Charles Clermont-Gannear found a drawing on the wall of a winged sphinx in Assyrian style. It was removed and is at present in the Louvre in Paris. On another wall is seen a carved compass and a builder's angle — masonic symbols. The Freemasons used this chamber for their secret meetings. On the walls and ceilings of all the chambers can be seen traces of rockfalls which occured at various times.
There is reason for supposing that the subterranean caverns, spacious though they be, are only a part of the original quarry. The rugged rock, fifty feet high, on which the city wall now stands, seems to have been scarped not only for defense but early as a rock-cut excavation for building stone. At a distance of about 500 feet, looking north, is what appears to be a "counterscarp". The intermediate space between the scarp and counterscarp is covered with a vast accumulation of rubbish, such as stone chippings over which passes the present road outside the city walls. This rubbish is from 50 to 100 feet in depth which indicates the entire area was at one time an immense quarry. A quarry of such size could easily have furnished the stone for all the Temples of Solomon, Zerubbabel and Herod; the gigantic walls of the Haram, as well as the walls encompassing the city.
Since I Kings 6:7 states that the stones used in the construction of Solomon's Temple were "made ready before" being brought to the Temple site, the vast accumulation of stone chippings just outside the quarry suggests that the great stones were dressed there by the masons before leaving the quarry area. As the quarry is quite close to the Temple Hill, it would have been quite easy to transport the huge stones to the construction site. The development of the quarry and the size of the quarry and the size of the stones reflects several Biblical passages:
"And Solomon had three score and ten thousand that bare burdens, and fourscore thousand hewers in the mountains; Beside the chief of Solomon's officers which were over the work, three thousand and three hundred, which ruled over the people that wrought in the work. And the king commanded, and they brought great stones, costly stones and hewed stones, to lay the foundation of the house" (I Kings 5:15-17).
The symbolism of the preparation of the stones and the construction of the Temple in silence is allegorical of man in his process of "regeneration," which is lifting the soul up out of the degenerate condition into the spiritual condition.
Each of us is a "rough ashlar" or stone like those found in the darkness of the quarry. After being removed from our natural surroundings, we must be "shaped" and "polished," symbolical of moral discipline and training which inspires new practices and new principles. We are then perfected in character through the cleansing of the Spirit before becoming a part of the spiritual Temple.
Dead stones are squared and polished from without, through the use of the mallet, chisel and square, as were the great stones in the walls of the Temple. But men are "living stones" as expressed by the Apostle Peter, "Ye also as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ" (IPeter 2:5).
Living stones are squared, polished and beautified from within. In this work our own efforts are required. But, just as Solomon's masons followed the plans of the Master Builder, we too must follow the direction of the Wise Master Builder. Only by voluntarily following and working out the designs for our life can we become a part of the spiritual house.
"And the foundation was of costly stones, even great stones, stones often cubits, and stones of eight cubits." (I Kings 7:10)
Ancient temples were built on a raised platform to provide a firm foundation in a soil lacking a rock base. As Solomon's Temple was built on an old rock threshing floor a stone platform was therefore unnecessary. For this reason, some scholars believe the Temple building was flat on the court pavement.
Ezekiel's visionary Temple of the Millennium, in some respects comparable to Solomon's Temple, portrays a platform of 6 cubits high, necessitating a flight of 10 steps to reach the porch. Since Talmudic writings also make mention of stairs, the prevailing theory is the Temple was raised, in keeping with the prevailing style.
In order to provide a courtyard for the Temple, walls were built up from the sides of the mountains, and inside them, all spaces were filled up with earth. At the northeast corner of the Temple area, the wall extends 110 feet below the present level of the ground.
About fifty yards from the front of the "Golden Gate'' a shaft was sunk, by the Engineers of the Palestine Exploration Fund (founded 1865) to solid rock, some eighty feet below the present surface. A gallery was then driven up the face of the rock toward the Temple area. When about 50 feet from the Sanctuary wall and 50 feet below the surface, the Engineers came upon a massive masonry wall. It was built in courses, and the stones are large, each course being two and a half feet high and the stones for the most part five feet long. The hard limestone blocks have marginal drafts (narrow borders along the edge of the stones) and rough faces projecting six inches. The horizontal joints are a foot apart, and the space is filled up with six-inch cubes welded together with a cement compounded of red earth, oil and lime. The masonry was pierced by the Engineers for five feet, but there appeared no sign of perforating the entire thickness of the wall.
At the southeast corner, excavations by the Engineers, traced the wall down 79 feet to bed-rock. The wall rises 77 feet above the ground at this point, making the total masonry 156 feet high. The stones discovered forming the foundation are from 4 to 20 feet long and some are 38 feet in length, and about 4 to 6 feet in height.
The foundation corner stone at the south-east corner was found by the archaeologists to measure 14 feet long and nearly 4 feet high. Its function was not only to support the masonry above, like the other foundation stones, but it had to face both ways, forming a bond or union between two walls. The block is described as squared and polished.
It was also noted the foundation rock was comparatively soft for 27 inches, and the cutting for the base of the corner stone was continued for 5 inches more into the hard rock. Fixed in its abiding position nearly three thousand years ago, the great corner stone still stands sure and steadfast, a fitting emblem of the "Rock of Ages."
The second course is more than four feet high, and has proved of much interest, from the existence of painted and incised characters found on the faces of the stones. The first stone is more than 10 feet long, with an ordinary draft at the bottom, but a narrow draft of one inch at the top. The second stone, about 5 feet long, has a broad draft of about nine inches at the top, but only a narrow draft at the bottom. It has a well-dressed face, and near the center was found an incised character, cut about half an inch deep, resembling our letter "H "
The third stone of the course has proved to be the most interesting, from the numerous marks on its face. It has no draft at the top, but a broad draft of about 17 inches at the bottom. On it are seven letters of characters, some of them five inches long. They are painted with red paint, apparently vermillion, and they seem to have been put on with a brush. They are irregularly distributed over the stone.
The trickling of some paint, from a letter on the third stone, was found above the letter itself which certainly could not have happened had the mark been painted on the stone after it was placed in position. This would indicate that the marks were painted, on the stones by the workmen in the quarry.
About three feet from the angle of the cornerstone a hole was found cut out of the native rock, one foot across and one foot deep. It was filled with dirt, which on being cleared away revealed a small clay jar. It was standing in an upright position and had evidently been placed there for some purpose. There were no marks or special features on the jar but it resembled the common pottery of ancient Egypt. Being placed near the lowest corner stone suggests it had something to do with the ceremony of laying the foundation stone.
In patriarchal days, prophets, priests, and kings were set apart for God's service by being anointed with holy oil. The Tabernacle also, and all its furnishings, were consecrated to God by being anointed with the holy oil. In one instance, the Bible records, a stone (Jacob's Pillar) was anointed with holy oil. While, however, there is no direct evidence to its use, it is a reasonable assumption that it did contain holy oil and was used for the consecration of the corner stone, to indicate that the foundations were set apart for the service of the living God.
At 41 feet from the southeast corner, northward, the bed-rock rises abruptly, and here the first course ceases, while the second course becomes partially imbedded in rock. The third course is about four feet high, and is set back four inches. The fourth course is three and one-half feet in height, with a shallow draft of nine inches above. The courses above are for the most part similar to those described, many also containing paint marks on them.
An analysis of the "writings," either painted or cut into the stones, by the Palestine Exploration Fund came to the following conclusions: "First: The signs cut or painted were on the stones when they were first laid in their present places. Secondly: They do not represent any inscription. Thirdly: They are Phoenician." The report considered them to be partly letters, partly numerals, and partly special mason's or quarry signs. Some of them were recognized at once as well-known Phoenician characters. Similar marks have been found in tombs, and stone buildings throughout Phoenicia, dating about the time of Solomon.
The Phoenician alphabet is believed to be the oldest Semitic alphabet in the world. It was used by the ancient Hebrews, as may be seen in the Siloam inscriptions dating about 600 B.C. The ancient letters had an angular script, and continued in use until the Babylonian captivity. The present square (Aramaic) Hebrew characters began to be employed after the exile.
These large foundation blocks have beautifully executed marginal drafts, and the faces are finely chiselled, while the joints are so close that no cement was required. It was noted that marginal drafts and the projecting edges of the faces had been dressed with an eight-toothed chisel one inch wide. The chisel marks are intersected by others at right angles, forming what is called the criss-cross pattern. This mode of dressing is never found in Byzantine work, and, as far as Palestine is concerned, confined almost exclusively to the ancient work of Solomon's time.
The foundations of the massive walls formed the theme of the Psalmist's poetry when he proudly sang of Jerusalem, "her foundations are upon the holy hills." Solomon, who probably watched the laying of the foundation stone, expresses the symbolism of the foundation in his Book of Psalms when he wrote, "the righteous is an everlasting foundation.''
The Bible abounds in interesting allusions to the "corner stone."; The Prophet Isaiah, when speaking of the kingdom of God to be established under the new dispensation, exclaims, "Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation. " (Isa. 28:16)
God is often called a rock in the Scriptures, "The Lord is my rock,'' and "Who is a rock save our God." The same thought reappears in the Book of Hebrews. "He looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.'' (Heb. 11:10)
Since God is Truth, then it follows that the solid rock upon which Solomon's Temple is built symbolizes the Truth upon which a man builds his spiritual house; the true Temple of God.
"And the porch before the temple of the house, twenty cubits was the length thereof, according to the breadth of the house; and ten cubits was the breadth thereof before the house." (I Kings 6:3)
Solomon's Temple was entered from the east through the Porch, variously translated, from the Hebrew, as "porch;" "vestibule;" "portico" or "entrance hall."
The Scriptures leave the impression it was not considered as an interior room, having no mention of doors as in the case of the main room and the inner Sanctuary. This interpretation is confirmed by the fact that in the record of Kings, reference to the Temple mentions the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies only, excluding the Porch as one of the Temple rooms.
If not considered a part of the "House," the Porch may not have received the wood panelling inside, as did the main rooms. It may have been finished off in stone, as was the outside of the Temple. It seems Solomon's architect wanted to show only stone on the outside of the Temple walls and only wood on the inside. "And he built the walls of the house within boards of cedar, both the floor of the house, and the walls of the ceiling: and he covered them on the inside with wood and covered the floor of the house with planks of fir."(I Kings 6:15)
Certain models of the Temple show the Porch as a part of the Temple interior, panelled with cedar of Lebanon, with flooring of fir, but without the elaborate trim and decoration of the rest of the Temple.
The height of the Porch is not given in the book of Kings, but it can be assumed it was not greater — it may have been less — than that of the Temple proper. The statement in II Chron. 3:4 that it was 120 cubits high seems to rest on a corrupt text. It is called a "porch." If it had been 120 cubits high, its title would have been more properly termed "tower." It is very unlikely that, had it been of such height, it would have been overlooked in the book of Kings.
The large entrance was without doors (as evidenced by an inscription found dated at the time of Solomon). The opening is believed to have been approximately 15 feet wide and over 30 feet high, as was the estimated height of the doorway into the main room. This great height was suggested as necessary to accommodate the prefabricated flooring pallets when they were raised on edge and moved into place, inside the Temple.
The opening from the Porch into the main room of the Temple was provided with a pair of folding doors, of fir, (I Kings 6:34) which had hinges of gold. (I Kings 7:50) As was the practice of the time, it is assumed the doors swung on metal pivots, set in stone sockets. The above inscribed limestone socket (in which a door was pivoted) was found in excavations at Tell Asmar. On the exposed surfaces, of the socket, can be seen words of dedication.
The hinges were of some kind of copper or iron strap, either "overlaid" or "inlaid" with gold, which fastened the doors to the pivots. The hinges could not have been "pure gold" as they would have been too soft to support the estimated weight of the doors.
Early reconstructions of Solomon's Temple show a side room at each end of the Porch, for which there is no Biblical justification. Windows are also often shown in the Porch, but again, without Scriptural reference.
THE TWO PILLARS
"For he cast two pillars of brass, of eighteen cubits high apiece; and a line of twelve cubits did compass either of them about.
And he made two chapiters of molten brass, to set upon the tops of the pillars: the height of the one chapiter was five cubits, and the height of the other chapiter was five cubits:
And nets of checker work, and wreaths of chain work, for the chapiters which were upon the tip of the pillars; seven for the one chapiter, and seven for the other chapiter.
And he made the pillars and two rows round about upon the one network, to cover the chapiters that were upon the top with pomegranates; and so did he for the other chapiter.
And he set up the pillars in the porch of the temple: and he set up the right pillar, and called the name thereof Jachin: and he set up the left pillar, and called the name thereof Boaz." (I Kings 7:15-21)
Among the structural architecture and decoration of Solomon's Temple at Jerusalem, none have exerted more interest and conjecture than the two pillars known as Jachin and Boaz, which occupy so conspicious a position in the Temple. Their size, shape, height, decoration and above all their use, meaning, purpose and symbolism have given to much research, examination and suggestion.
Early authorities on the construction of the Temple once thought of the pillars as having supported the roof of the Porch, but from accumulated contemporary evidence, archaeologists now agree that they were free-standing, and had no structural function. Instead they were only decorative and unquestionably symbolic.
Although I Kings describes the two pillars as castings of "brass," it is more likely they were of copper because brass is a highly impure metal and very easily tarnished. Bronze is also a mixed metal, though less impure than brass, but equally artificial. In a sacred, symbolical Temple, where pure gold was so commonly used, it is highly improbable and inconsistent that any impure artificial metal should be used.
Moses also said that the hills of Palestine contained "copper." (Deut. 8:9) The A.V. renders this as "brass" which of course is artificial and thus could not be found in any mine. Ferrar Fenton translation says "copper." Since the A.V. is clearly wrong in this case, it is probably also wrong in calling the pillars ' 'brass.''
Jeremiah 52:21 indicates the pillars were "hollow" which would indicate they were probably highly decorated, copper covered, wooden pillars. From excavations at Khorsabad and elsewhere, castings of copper alloy plates have been found that were made to be fastened to some kind of wood beams or posts. Thus it would have been within the capacity of Solomon's workers to produce such a work.
Some scholars have suggested the two pillars were spiral. This would be in keeping with the numerous spiral examples found in Hebrew columns, both in buildings and sculptured tablets dating back to around 580 B.C. (Zoroaster's tablets) If so, the right-hand column (Jachin) would have had the spirals turning to the right; the left-hand column (Boaz) having the spirals turning to the left.
On top of the pillars there were chapiters that may have served as braziers for the burning of incense or oil. If so, they may have suggested to the worshipper the "pillar of cloud" by day, and the "pillar of fire'' by night, which the Israelites knew in the wilderness. (Exodus 13)
The Book of Kings does not mention bases for the pillars but we may assume they had bases because columns, contemporary with and having proportions similar to the Temple pillars, have been found in excavations in Palestine and Syria.
Solomon called the pillars, "Jachin" and "Boaz.") (II Chron. 3:17) The exact meaning of these names is not clear but it has been suggested they were key words in some kind of motto invoking the blessings of God on David's Dynasty.
However, it is an established fact that in Solomon's day, named pillars served as perpetual witnesses to solemn covenants. The two pillars undoubtedly represent the two covenants God made with David, at the conception of the plan to build the House of God. One covenant was with David and the other covenant with the people of his kingdom.
Since the Hebrev meaning of the name "Jachin" can be translated "He shall establish,'' it must refer to the Covenant God made with David, to establish David's throne "forever." (II Sam. 7:16) The Hebrew meaning of the name "Boaz" is given as "In it is strength." In turn, must refer to the Covenant God made with the people, to "plant" them in "a place" of safety and in this covenant we find a promise of national strength. (II Sam 7:10)
THE TWO PILLARS COULD ALSO BE SAYING THAT THROUGH THE LINE OF DAVID GOD WOULD ESTABLISH SPIRITUAL STRENGTH AND SALVATION, BY THE MESSIAH BEING FROM THE LINE OF DAVID. AN ESTABLISHMENT IN STRENGTH THAT WAS SURE AND STEADFAST IN JESUS THE CHRIST, WHO ALSO WOULD ESTABLISH THE STRENGTH OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD ON EARTH, SITTING UPON THE PROMISED ESTABLISHED THRONE OF DAVID, THAT CHRIST WOULD INHERIT, AS TOLD TO MARY BY THE ANGELS - LUKE 1:31-33.
TO BE CONTINUED