Temple, Solomon's

Before his death David had "with all his might" provided
materials in great abundance for the building of the temple on
the summit of Mount Moriah (1 Chr. 22:14; 29:4; 2 Chr. 3:1), on
the east of the city, on the spot where Abraham had offered up
Isaac (Gen. 22:1-14). In the beginning of his reign Solomon set
about giving effect to the desire that had been so earnestly
cherished by his father, and prepared additional materials for
the building. From subterranean quarries at Jerusalem he
obtained huge blocks of stone for the foundations and walls of
the temple. These stones were prepared for their places in the
building under the eye of Tyrian master-builders. He also
entered into a compact with Hiram II., king of Tyre, for the
supply of whatever else was needed for the work, particularly
timber from the forests of Lebanon, which was brought in great
rafts by the sea to Joppa, whence it was dragged to Jerusalem (1
Kings 5). As the hill on which the temple was to be built did
not afford sufficient level space, a huge wall of solid masonry
of great height, in some places more than 200 feet high, was
raised across the south of the hill, and a similar wall on the
eastern side, and in the spaces between were erected many arches
and pillars, thus raising up the general surface to the required
level. Solomon also provided for a sufficient water supply for
the temple by hewing in the rocky hill vast cisterns, into which
water was conveyed by channels from the "pools" near Bethlehem.
One of these cisterns, the "great sea," was capable of
containing three millions of gallons. The overflow was led off
by a conduit to the Kidron.

In all these preparatory undertakings a space of about three
years was occupied; and now the process of the erection of the
great building began, under the direction of skilled Phoenician
builders and workmen, in the fourth year of Solomon's reign, 480
years after the Exodus (1 Kings 6; 2 Chr. 3). Many thousands of
labourers and skilled artisans were employed in the work. Stones
prepared in the quarries underneath the city (1 Kings 5:17, 18)
of huge dimension (see QUARRIES T0003032) were gradually placed
on the massive walls, and closely fitted together without any
mortar between, till the whole structure was completed. No sound
of hammer or axe or any tool of iron was heard as the structure
arose (6:7). "Like some tall palm the noiseless fabric sprang."
The building was 60 cubits long, 20 cubits wide, and 30 cubits
high. The engineers of the Israel Exploration Fund, in their
explorations around the temple area, discovered what is believed
to have been the "chief corner stone" of the temple, "the most
interesting stone in the world." It lies at the bottom of the
south-eastern angle, and is 3 feet 8 inches high by 14 feet
long. It rests on the solid rock at a depth of 79 feet 3 inches
below the present surface. (See PINNACLE T0002957.) In
examining the walls the engineers were "struck with admiration
at the vastness of the blocks and the general excellence of the
workmanship."

At length, in the autumn of the eleventh year of his reign,
seven and a half years after it had been begun, the temple was
completed in all its architectural magnificence and beauty. For
thirteen years there it stood, on the summit of Moriah, silent
and unused. The reasons for this strange delay in its
consecration are unknown. At the close of these thirteen years
preparations for the dedication of the temple were made on a
scale of the greatest magnificence. The ark was solemnly brought
from the tent in which David had deposited it to the place
prepared for it in the temple, and the glory-cloud, the symbol
of the divine presence, filled the house. Then Solomon ascended
a platform which had been erected for him, in the sight of all
the people, and lifting up his hands to heaven poured out his
heart to God in prayer (1 Kings 8; 2 Chr. 6, 7). The feast of
dedication, which lasted seven days, followed by the feast of
tabernacles, marked a new era in the history of Israel. On the
eighth day of the feast of tabernacles, Solomon dismissed the
vast assemblage of the people, who returned to their homes
filled with joy and gladness, "Had Solomon done no other service
beyond the building of the temple, he would still have
influenced the religious life of his people down to the latest
days. It was to them a perpetual reminder and visible symbol of
God's presence and protection, a strong bulwark of all the
sacred traditions of the law, a witness to duty, an impulse to
historic study, an inspiration of sacred song."

The temple consisted of, (1.) The oracle or most holy place (1
Kings 6:19; 8:6), called also the "inner house" (6:27), and the
"holiest of all" (Heb. 9:3). It was 20 cubits in length,
breadth, and height. It was floored and wainscotted with cedar
(1 Kings 6:16), and its walls and floor were overlaid with gold
(6:20, 21, 30). There was a two-leaved door between it and the
holy place overlaid with gold (2 Chr. 4:22); also a veil of blue
purple and crimson and fine linen (2 Chr. 3:14; compare Ex.
26:33). It had no windows (1 Kings 8:12). It was indeed the
dwelling-place of God. (2.) The holy place (q.v.), 1 Kings
8:8-10, called also the "greater house" (2 Chr. 3:5) and the
"temple" (1 Kings 6:17). (3.) The porch or entrance before the
temple on the east (1 Kings 6:3; 2 Chr. 3:4; 29:7). In the porch
stood the two pillars Jachin and Boaz (1 Kings 7:21; 2 Kings
11:14; 23:3). (4.) The chambers, which were built about the
temple on the southern, western, and northern sides (1 Kings
6:5-10). These formed a part of the building.

Round about the building were, (1.) The court of the priests
(2 Chr. 4:9), called the "inner court" (1 Kings 6:36). It
contained the altar of burnt-offering (2 Chr. 15:8), the brazen
sea (4:2-5, 10), and ten lavers (1 Kings 7:38, 39). (2.) The
great court, which surrounded the whole temple (2 Chr. 4:9).
Here the people assembled to worship God (Jer. 19:14; 26:2).

This temple erected by Solomon was many times pillaged during
the course of its history, (1) 1 Kings 14:25, 26; (2) 2 Kings
14:14; (3) 2 Kings 16:8, 17, 18; (4) 2 Kings 18:15, 16. At last
it was pillaged and destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar (2 Kings 24:13;
2 Chr. 36:7). He burned the temple, and carried all its
treasures with him to Babylon (2 Kings 25:9-17; 2 Chr. 36:19;
Isa. 64:11). These sacred vessels were at length, at the close
of the Captivity, restored to the Jews by Cyrus (Ezra 1:7-11).