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Would you do us the favor of answering this two question poll so we can know how to serve you better? You will also be given the opportunity to join our team tasked with how to make better. Thank you.  --Bill Mounce



Once a site is selected the project is laid out by the masterbuilder (viz., Gen 4:17, the city Enoch of Cain), and construction proceeds accordingly. The Bible includes reference to various kinds of building and techniques, but only as they further the Biblical purposes of inditing the story of redemption.

The chief architectural work of OT Israel is the Temple to Jahweh in Jerusalem (see Jerusalem Temple erected by Solomon to memorialize there the redemptive name of Jahweh (1 Kings 6:1ff.).

Shechem was rebuilt (refortified) by Jeroboam (1 Kings 12:25) for his capital, and then he built divisive religious shrines at Dan and Bethel in defiance of God (cf. 11:38). Uzziah was particularly concerned with the defenses of Judah and built numerous towers (2 Chron 26:10) to protect the farmers and herdsmen, as well as outposts and cities among the Philistines (vv. 6ff.). Omri moved the capital of Israel from Tirzah to Samaria (1 Kings 16:23) where he built a city and included a temple to Baal (v. 32). Ahab enlarged the palace of his father. It is here that were found the proto-Ionic capitals, an indication that some thought was given concerning decoration and style, but was not destined to produce much because of the religious deterioration which brought on the end of the nation.

In the intertestamental period a number of rebuilds of Jerusalem under the Hasmoneans occurred and the city walls were moved outward. Part of David’s city was abandoned as well. The chief work, however, of the time immediately before Christ was the great complex of Herod’s Temple, built on the reconstruction of the exiles of Babylon with thicker walls and heavier roof.

Chief source of technical knowledge for construction was in Tyre (2 Sam 5:11; 1 Kings 5:1ff.). Israel, because of tendencies to minimize the grandiose, did not develop a particular architectural style.

Chief builders in Israel were David, Solomon, energetic Uzziah and flamboyant Jotham (cf. Temple [Jerusalem]). Herod’s reconstruction followed Rom. style.

Building included the use of a line (1 Kings 7:15, 23), of plummet (plumb bob; Amos 7:7, 8). The first denotes the fitting of judgment to the crime and the second connotes fig. the test of truth.


G. Conteneau, Everyday Life in Babylon and Assyria (1954); H. E. Winlock, Models of Daily Life in Ancient Egypt (1955); National Geographic Society, Everyday Life in Ancient Times (1964); A. Badawy, Architecture in Ancient Egypt and The Near East (1966).

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

bild, bild’-ing (banah, binyah, once (Eze 41:13); oikodomeo).

1. Building Conditions:

The building conditions existing at the time of the Hebrew conquest were rude and untutored, and, with the exception of the work of the Solomonic period, there was still little or no effort made to introduce a higher state, until the time when Greek influence began to be felt (circa 3rd century BC). In localities where stone was not available, mud bricks were used, and their perishable nature being realized, stone slab facing came into use. These slabs were a protection against the weather and had no constructive value. Probably the hand of the "jerry" builder can be seen in an attempt to make such bad construction appear to be solid stone.

2. Masonry:

In stone localities buildings were of stone, but the class of building was only that of the rude stone waller. Random rubble masonry, unskillfully laid, was the prevailing characteristic. Occasionally a piece of carefully dressed masonry is found, but it is the exception and is often a re-use of an earlier type akin to "sawed stone" (1Ki 7:9). The remains of Jewish walls of the period of the early kings in Jerusalem show skill which does not appear to have existed elsewhere. The boss and margin stones, with wide mud joint, were, in part, the actual masonry of the early fortifications, and were re-used and imitated over and over again. The type crops up in feeble imitation at different sites throughout the country, but hammer- picked and rough hammer-dressed stones are also common. The fine comb pick and marginal dressing of the walls of the Temple area belong to the Herodian period (see Bliss and Dickie, "Excavations at Jerusalem," 273 ff, PEFS, 1898). The absence of lime is a striking characteristic. There is no distinctive type which can be named exclusively Jewish, although there is good reason for believing that the boss and margin type has a Jewish origin. Wilson (Golgotha, 124) points out that the projecting bosses had a defensive value, in breaking the force of the battering-ram, and here again the necessity of defense shows its vitality in the existence of such a well-engineered detail. The absence of the finer qualities of building craft can be traced to the same source.

3. Foundations:

Foundations of fortifications were usually on rock which was sometimes squared for a bed, but more often leveled up with small stones. A portion of the South wall of Jerusalem, certainly late (5th century AD), was laid on a foundation of small rubble resting on debris, accumulated over an earlier wall. (See Plate IV, Excavations at Jerusalem, p. 29.) In smaller buildings, the foundations were usually laid on the debris of earlier structures. At Lachish mud brick walls were laid on a foundation of stone . A peculiar method of spreading a layer of sand under the foundations was also noted (see A Mound of Many Cities, 125-26).

4. Modern Methods:

The native wall of today is less rudely built and is bedded in lime mortar. It is a broad wall usually about 3 ft. thick, with inner and outer faces of large stones, filled in between with small rubble without proper bond, somewhat in the manner of ancient building. To make up for the want of bond, it is a common habit to insert a piece of steel joint across the return angle (see Beam). The building and hewing methods, in all probability, are the same as they were in early Jewish times. Hewers sit at their work, with the plane of the stone on which they operate, lying obliquely from them. Stones are conveyed from the quarry, if at a distance from the building site, on donkeys, thence on men’s backs to the top of the wall, by rude gangways. Every man digs his "own cistern" (Isa 36:16), which is sunk in the rock under the site of the house, and used as a quarry from which stones for the building are supplied. If water is scarce, the cistern is sunk first, and the winter rains are allowed to collect and provide the necessary water for the building.

5. Figurative:

See Architecture; House; Fortification.

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