SOLOMON'S TEMPLE #5
by Raymond Capt
THE ALTAR OF BURNT OFFERINGS
"Moreover he made an altar of brass, twenty cubits the length thereof, and twenty cubits the breadth thereof, and ten cubits the height thereof (2 Chron. 4:1).
In the court outside the Temple and on the right side stood the Altar of Burnt Offerings. A lack of archaeological evidence makes it impossible to reconstruct, with certainty, the exact details of design and decorations of the Altar. However, the most acceptable, authoritative interpretation is that the sides were straight and a flight of stairs led up to the top upon which sat a large metal grate, standing on low feet.
Using the length of the common cubit (approx. 18") the size of the Altar was about 30 feet square, at the base, and about 15 feet high. No dimensions are given for the width of the steps or their number. It can be assumed they were of sufficient width for two persons to pass. The steps faced east, as did the Temple.
I Kings 1:50 indicates the Altar had horns. A number of stone altars, with horns in the corners, have been found in excavations at Megiddo and other places in Palestine. These were of Solomon's period and would suggest'the Temple Altar also had horns, in the corners, and was of hewn stone. I Kings 9:25 designates the Altar as one which Solomon had built. Evidently it had not been assigned to Hiram's metal artisans to construct. This would, again, suggest the basic Altar was of stone.
The term "brass" in 2 Chron. 4:1 and "brasen" in I Kings 8:64 and 2 Kings 16:15 would seem to indicate a top portion of bronze or that the Altar was covered with bronze plates, a technique supported by archaeological evidence.
Another form for the Altar is suggested by the visionary Altar, of the future, found in Ezek. 43:13-17 which describes a three-stage structure, each stage smaller than the one below; like a Babylonian Ziggurat or tower — Temple. A more recent, modern, reconstruction model of the Altar (based on Ezekiel's description) has resulted in a "controversial" step-stage tower. The steps, in the form of riser-ramps, encircle the Altar as they rise steadily to the top platform.
On the blaze atop the Altar, the priest put parts of the sacrificial animals. These sacrifices, of the individual and of the nation, in themselves did not cover sin; they were a prophetic allegory to the one "sacrifice acceptable" (Phil. 4:18) whereby sin itself is covered. "Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many" (Heb. 9:28);
"For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him;" (2 Cor. 5:21) "God lending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh. '' (Rom. 8:3)
The killing of the sacrificial animal was done near the Altar in order that the blood could be collected and sprinkled on the horns of the Altar. (Lev.1:5) The shedding of blood, according to law, must be performed "on the side of the altar northward before the Lord." (Lev.1:11) It is assumed this would be continued in Solomon's Temple, thus prophetically foreshadowing the very direction of the coming Sacrifice, in the age of the True Tabernacle — the Christian era. For Jesus Christ was crucified north of the city near Golgotha (the place of the skull) which is still recognized by its spectacular rock formation, the caves in the rock, suggestive of eyeless sockets in a skull.
THE MOLTEN SEA
"And he made a molten sea, ten cubits from the one brim to the other: it was round all about, and his height was five cubits: and a line of thirty cubits did compass it round about.
And under the brim of it round about there were knops compassing it, ten in a cubit, compassing the sea round about: the knops were cast in two rows, when it was cast.
It stood upon twelve oxen, three looking toward the north, and three looking toward the west, and three looking toward the south, and three looking toward the east: and the sea was set above upon them, and all their hinder parts were inward.
And it was an handbreadth thick, and the brim thereof was wrought like the brim of a cup, with flowers of lilies: it contained two thousand baths." (I Kings 7:23-25)
In the court yard just left of the entrance to the Temple was the great brass bowl cast by Hiram of Tyre, the widow's son (I Kings 7: 13,14). The bronze used in the casting was that taken, as spoil, by King David in his wars. (I Chron. 18:8) I Kings describes the Sea as round, 10 cubits (15 feet) in diameter and 5 cubits [7 and 1/2 feet) high. The circumference is given as 30 cubits. Since the exact circumference holds the relationship to it diameter of 3.14159 to 1, the discrepancy noted is an example of how the Bible often avoids fractions in favor of round numbers.
The bronze (cast copper alloy) bowl was about 3 inches thick and its brim was turned outward like a lily or lotus flower and gave the appearance of a cup. Under the brim were two rows of ornamental gourds (' 'knops'') which seemingly were cast with the vessel.
It is not precisely known which flower represented the "lily," but various species of "Gladiolus" or the Iris" are favoured. The lily is often used in the Scriptures in an allegorical sense; Hosea likens the lily to Israel, "I will be as the dew unto Israel: he shall grow as the lily, and cast forth his roots as Lebanon (the House of David). "(Hosea 14:5) Solomon further confirms this allegory, 'As the lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters." (Song. 2:2)
According to I Kings the Sea held 2000 baths of water, estimate by some scholars to equal approximately 10,000 gallons of water. It is interesting to note that the capacity of the Sea, as given, is exactly 50 times that of the Coffer in the Kings Chamber of the Great Pyramid.
The great bowl rested upon twelve bronze oxen facing, at right angles, in four directions, each trio facing the major points of the compass. This may indicate the need of the priest to make daily washings, the year round through all the seasons of the year, to symbolize the essential daily cleansing of their spiritual selves.
Although the purposes for the Molten Sea are not given in Kings, it performed the same function as its predecessor, the Laver of the Tabernacle, but on a much larger scale. 2 Chron. 4:6 states that the "Molten Sea" was for the priests to wash in, while the "ten Lavers" were used for washing individual offerings.
It should be noted that the washing of the priests was not performed in the Temple, but outside, where in fitting allegory, all unclean-liness must be left behind before taking one's place in the True Temple.
The symbolism of the Sea probably had cosmic overtones, "Sea" representing the oceans (Gen. 1:9,10) and together with the Altar, symbolizing the mountains, on the other side of the court, proclaimed to worshippers that the God, who is worshipped here, is God of all the earth.
In the reign of King Ahaz, the Sea was taken off the bronze oxen and placed on a "pavement of stones" (II Kings 16:17) and finally, it was broken up by the Chaldeans and carried to Babylonia.
"And he made ten bases of brass; four cubits was the length of one base, and four cubits the breadth thereof, and three cubits the height of it.
Then made he ten lovers of brass; one lover contained forty baths: and every lover was four cubits; and upon every one of the ten bases one lover.
And he put five bases on the right side of the house, andfive on the leftside:... " (IKings 7:27,38,39)
Among the other bronze objects made by Hiram of Tyre were the 10 "brass" stands on wheels with "brass"bowls of water upon them". (I Kings 7:27-37) The stands or "bases" (trolleys — Moffatt trans.) were covered with carved panels, depicting lions, oxen and cheribum, framed in decorative borders. Each base had four bronze chariot (six-spoked) wheels which turned on axels made of "one piece with the trolley. " (Moffatt - I Kings 7:32)
The Lavers of brass each held 40 '"baths" of water. (I Kings 7:38) A "bath" is estimated, by various scholars, to be from 4 and 1/2 to 5 and 1/2 American gallons. Using an estimate of 5 gallons to a bath, each Laver would hold around 200 gallons of water. According to 2 Chron. 4:6, this water was used to wash the individual sacrifices, for the burnt offering.
Although much detail is given in the Scriptures as to their design and purpose, most attempts to reconstruct the Lavers have produced models of impractical heights for their purpose. The total height, in most cases, is well over the height of a man.
However, if we take the dimensions, as given in I Kings 7:27, which gives the Laver as 4 cubits (estimated 6 feet) square and 3 cubits (estimated 4 and 1/2 feet) high as the overall size of the Laver, much of our problem is solved. Just as the height of the wheels (a cubit and a half) is generally recognized as part of the total height, so could the "round compass (described in v. 35) of half a cubit high" (estimated 9 inches), on top of the base, be considered as part of the total height of the base.
Verse 31 of I Kings 7 (Moffatt) which is only describing the framework of the base, has often been used by scholars to picture a support or "crown" of 1 and 1/2 cubits high on top of the base to support the Laver. This would erroneously increase the height to well over 6 feet. Into the round compass (saucer — Moffatt) was placed the laver (Bronze pot — Moffatt) having a rim diameter of 4 cubits, the same width as the base (6 feet). Assuming the laver nestled into the 9 inch saucer, the height of the laver above the saucer would be approximately 9 inches, making a total height of about 5 and 1/4 feet. The 10 Lavers, in a prophetic sense, indicated the 10 tribed House of Israel through which, in a future dispensation, would flow the spiritual "water" for the cleansing of the offerings of mankind. The House of Israel was the nation referred to, in Matt. 21:43, when Jesus told the leaders of the House of Judah, "the kingdom, of God shall be taken from you and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof."("...given to a people who will produce the fruits of it"— Amplified Bible)
"Ye also as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. "(I Peter2:5)
In erecting Solomon's Temple, the great stones were brought, individually, from darkness into light; hewn, shaped and polished to form the local habitation of God.
The material Temple, built by King Solomon, symbolizes the Spiritual Temple of God. Each man is a "stone," dead in darkness, till lifted up by another. Through a progression of religious experiences, typified by being "hewn," "shaped" and "polished," symbolizing the work of regeneration, he improves his mind, uplifts his principles and refines his morals thereby becoming "acceptable." Then, filled with His Spirit, man becomes a part of the Spiritual Temple of God.
In allegory, each man is a master builder. As he builds his own body through which he must function, he is erecting a spiritual house. An invisible temple fashioned without the sound of hammer or the voices of workmen. This work must be done of our own free-will, yet it must be under the direction of the "Master Builder."
God gave the plans of Solomon's Temple to men, but men had to work out the plans given. Had not men worked as God planned, Solomon's Temple would never have been completed. God has given each of us the plan of the Spiritual Temple. The plan is His Word and the Bible (the plan in print) must regulate our every act. It should constantly remind us of the duties we owe to God, to our fellow men, and to ourselves.
To God, by never speaking His name but with the awe and reverence which is due to our Father, by imploring His aid in all lawful undertakings, and by looking to Him, in every emergency, for comfort and support.
To our fellow man, by acting with him fairly, justly, honorably; by relieving his distresses and soothing his afflictions.
To ourselves, by prudence and a well-regulated discipline conducive to pure and virtuous conduct, whereby we may be able to do what God demands of us; in order that we may be fitted to the place, we are to fill, in the Living Temple of God.
The doctrine of the Apostle Paul repeatedly affirms, in the New Testament, the existence of a mystical Christian Temple. "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God...which temple ye are.(I Cor. 3:16,17; Eph. 2:22) An examination of the details given, concerning this now present mystical temple, shows its pattern is none other than that of Solomon's Temple.
The Bible speaks of yet another "stone." It is referred to by way of pre-eminence, as being a "head stone." Jesus, quoting from Psalms 118:22,23 said, "Did ye never read in the Scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord's doing, and is marvellous in our eyes? (Matt. 21:42) At that time, He was speaking of the rejection of Himself by the remnant of the House of Judah.
In the fourth chapter of the Book of Acts it is recorded: "Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel, if we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made whole: be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. " (Acts 4:8-11)
Again, Peter says, in his first epistle, the second chapter, seventh verse: "Unto you therefore which believe he is precious; but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner. "
Although the Bible gives no account of a rejected stone, by the builders of Solomon's Temple, it is evident that Peter, as well as Jesus, made reference to a rejection, as a symbol of the rejection of Christ, by the House of Judah.
The early disciples so understood it to be, therefore the central theme of the Gospel is the "rejection" and "glorious resurrection" of Jesus Christ. Having shed His blood as the one acceptable sacrifice, redeeming His people Israel, He conquered death and thereby opened the way to eternal life; to all who would believe on His name.
He triumphantly entered, not into the Temple made with hands, but into heaven itself to constitute the foundation of the True Temple on which the salvation of mankind rests. He is the "Head Stone" which beautifies, strengthens and completes the Spiritual Temple of God.
TO BE CONNTINUED