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Three temples stood successively on Mount Moriah (2Chr.3.1) in Jerusalem. This site is today called the Haram esh-Sherif and is a Muslim holy place. The first temple was built by Solomon, the second by Zerubbabel and the Jews who returned from the Babylonian exile. The third temple, which was in use in the days of Jesus, was begun and largely built by Herod the Great.

Most ancient religions had temples. Indeed the Canaanite temples found at Megiddo and Hazor are not unlike that of the Hebrews in ground plan. The Jerusalem temple was distinctive in that it contained no idol in the inner sanctum, but only a box (called the ark) containing the two tablets of the law, with the symbolic worshiping cherubim above.

Solomon’s Temple

The great economic and cultural development of the Hebrews during the reigns of David and Solomon led to David’s desire to build a temple. The tabernacle, the previous sacrificial center (Exod.35.1-Exod.35.35-Exod.40.1-Exod.40.38), was a simple and impermanent structure brought to Palestine by the Hebrews from their desert wanderings. It was natural enough that David should wish God’s house to be as grand as his own (2Sam.7.2). David, however, was not permitted to undertake the construction of this “house” (2Sam.7.5-2Sam.7.7; 1Chr.22.8). He did prepare for it, however, both in plans and materials (1Chr.22.1-1Chr.22.19; 1Chr.28.1-1Chr.29.9) and more especially by arranging its liturgical service (1Chr.23.1-1Chr.26.19).

There are no known remains of Solomon’s temple. It is clear that it was patterned after the tabernacle, but it was much more complex and ornate. The Phoenicians, who were more advanced culturally than the Hebrews, played a great part in the design and construction of the temple. Recently archaeologists have discovered remains in Phoenicia and Syria that have increased our understanding of the details and motifs of the temple of Jerusalem. Especially useful is the temple found at Tell Tainat in Syria, which was built at about the same time as Solomon’s. Its architectural details are believed to be the best guide extant today in reconstructing the details of Solomon’s temple. Much of this information is to be found in an article by Paul L. Garber, “Reconstructing Solomon’s Temple” (BA, 14:1, May 1951), and in a model of the temple made by E. G. Howland (based on Garber’s research). This model is probably a much more authentic reconstruction than the famous one made by Schick in the previous century.

The temple was noted for lavish beauty of detail rather than for great size. It was accessible only to the priests; the lay Israelites came to it but never entered it. Seven years were required to complete the temple. It was dedicated in Solomon’s eleventh year, c. 950 b.c. (1Kgs.6.38), and was destroyed when the Babylonians burned Jerusalem in 587 b.c.

The temple was a prefabricated building. It was made of limestone finished at the quarries (1Kgs.6.7) in or near Jerusalem. When the stones were brought to the building site, they were built into the wall according to plan. From this arose the tradition of the rejected cornerstone (Ps.118.22; 1Pet.2.6-1Pet.2.8). The stone walls were covered with paneling of Lebanese cedar wood, probably finished by skilled Phoenician craftsmen (1Kgs.5.6; 1Kgs.6.15, 1Kgs.6.18). The main descriptions of Solomon’s temple are found in 1Kgs.5.1-1Kgs.9.25 and 2Chr.2.1-2Chr.7.22. While many details are uncertain, what can be known of the building with fair certainty is here given.

The temple consisted of three sections: (1) The Ulam, or porch, through which the temple proper was entered. (2) The Hekhal, or Holy Place, which was lighted by clerestory windows (1Kgs.6.4). It was thirty feet (nine m.) wide, sixty feet (eighteen m.) long, and forty-five feet (fourteen m.) high. It was paneled with cedar, with gold inlay to relieve the wooden monotony and to add grandeur. (3) The Devir, or Most Holy Place (2Chr.3.8-2Chr.3.13), the inner sanctum, a thirty-foot (nine-m.) cube, windowless and overlaid with gold. It had a raised floor, and the cubicle was reached by steps from the Hekhal. Here God especially manifested his presence by the shekinah glory cloud.

The temple was built on a nine-foot (almost three-m.) high platform, which was reached by ten steps, a dramatic approach for religious processions. On this platform, before the entrance to the Ulam, stood two pillars, called Jakin and Boaz (1Kgs.7.15-1Kgs.7.22). Possibly these names are the first words of inscriptions carved on the pillars. Just behind them, doors led to the Ulam or porch, a kind of antechamber to the Hekhal. The cypress doors were carved with cherubim, palm trees, and open flowers inlaid with gold (1Kgs.6.18, 1Kgs.6.32, 1Kgs.6.35). These motifs are frequently found in ancient Near Eastern temple structures.

The Hekhal contained ten golden lampstands (1Kgs.7.49; candlesticks kjv). A lampstand from Herod’s temple is pictured on the Arch of Titus in Rome, where it is being carried away by the Roman soldiers after the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. Twelve tables held the twelve loaves of the bread of the Presence (showbread kjv, mlb). The incense altar (1Kgs.7.48), with horns, stood near the entrance of the Devir.

The Devir contained two guardian cherubim, made of olive wood and adorned with gold. A number of archaeological remains have led to the conclusion that these were winged sphinxes, with a lion’s body, human face, and great wings. They symbolized the majestic presence of God. On the floor beneath them stood the ark of the covenant, the box overlaid with gold, its lid called the mercy seat, on which the atoning blood was sprinkled on the Day of Atonement (Lev.16.14-Lev.16.15).

At both sides and at the rear of the temple were built three-storied rooms. They were not as high as the central structure and thus the light from the clerestory windows supplied illumination for the Hekhal. This clerestory feature was perhaps an ancestor of the same window arrangement of the medieval cathedrals (recessed window-walls rising above the lower wings or aisle portions). In the chambers around the sanctuary the immense temple treasury was kept (1Kgs.7.51).

In the courtyard before the temple stood two objects intimately connected with the temple worship: the sacrificial altar and the laver, or molten sea. The altar of burnt offering was the central object in the sacrificial service. It was made of brass (2Chr.4.1) and probably stood on the great rock that is today covered by the Dome of the Rock on the Haram esh-Sherif.

South of the altar stood the copper alloy laver, or molten sea (1Kgs.7.22-1Kgs.7.26; 2Kgs.16.17; 2Chr.4.2-2Chr.4.6). This mammoth cast “Sea” was made in the Jordan Valley where clay suitable for molding the metal was to be found. It was three and one-half inches (nine cm.) thick, about fifteen feet (four and one-half m.) in diameter and seven and one-half feet (two m.) high, and stood on the backs of twelve bulls, three facing in each direction. Similar animal supports for thrones are known to have existed among Israel’s neighbors. The bull was the Canaanite symbol of fertility and was associated with Baal (Hadad), the god of rain. The presence of this motif in Solomon’s temple suggests that more syncretism may have taken place in the Hebrew religion than is at first evident when one reads the Bible. Some scholars have doubted whether this immense reservoir with a capacity estimated at 10,000 gallons (38,000 l.) could have practicably been used for the ceremonial washing, especially since ten small lavers are mentioned (2Chr.4.6). They think that its main purpose was to symbolize that water or the sea is the source of life. The Babylonians broke up and carried off this amazing example of ancient metal casting (2Kgs.25.13).

The temple did not stand alone; it was one of a number of royal buildings constructed by Solomon in the new section of Jerusalem, just north of the old city of David. Solomon’s own palace, another for the Pharaoh’s daughter, the House of the Forest of Lebanon, the Hall of Pillars, and the Hall of the Throne (1Kgs.7.1-1Kgs.7.8) were other buildings in this government quarter. Viewed in this context, the temple appears like a royal chapel. The temple was dedicated by Solomon himself. His prayer on that occasion (1Kgs.8.22-1Kgs.8.61) shows a great religious spirit reaching out to include even the pagan nations in the worship of Yahweh.

Ezekiel’s Temple

Ezekiel the prophet was also a priest. In the early part of his book he predicts that God will judge his idolatrous people by withdrawing his presence from Jerusalem, leaving it to the Gentiles to desolate. But the latter part of the book predicts the reversal of this. Judah and Israel reunited will be regathered. The climax of this vision is the prophet’s description of the restored temple of God, with the living waters proceeding from it and the people of God dwelling around it (Ezek.40.1-Ezek.40.49-Ezek.48.1-Ezek.48.35). Yahweh Shammah (“The Lord is there”) is the key to this vision; God will yet again live among his people. The temple here described is an ideal construction, both like and unlike Solomon’s; none like it ever existed, and it is difficult to see how any such temple could ever be built.

Differing views have been held concerning the meaning of this temple vision. Those interpreters who look for a very literal fulfillment of the prophecies believe that this temple will be a part of the millennial kingdom, a great world center of the worship of God, located at Jerusalem. The sacrifices mentioned (Ezek.43.18-Ezek.43.27) are regarded as commemorative in nature—looking back to Christ’s perfect sacrifice rather than forward to it, as did the Old Testament sacrifices.

Other scholars argue that this description can hardly be taken literally. They maintain that the Letter to the Hebrews states that the sacrificial system prefigured Christ, and now that his perfect sacrifice has been made, the imperfect types are done away (Hebrew7.11-Hebrew10.39). John in the Revelation (21:9-22:5) appears to use Ezekiel’s temple vision, but he writes, not of a millennial temple, but of the eternal glory of the church. Thus these interpreters understand Ezekiel’s temple as a highly figurative foreshadowing of the new and holy temple of the Lord, which is the body of Christ (Eph.2.11-Eph.3.6).

The Restoration Temple of Zerubbabel

The return from Babylonian exile (in 538 b.c.), made possible by the decree of Cyrus, was a small and unpromising one. The returnees were few in number, and their resources were so meager as to need frequent strengthening from the Jews who remained in Babylon. The temple they built is a good example of this. When the foundation was laid, the old men, who had seen the “first house” (Solomon’s temple), wept for sorrow (Hag.2.3), but the young men, who had been born in exile, shouted for joy (Ezra.3.12). Like most of the reconstruction in that first century of the Second Commonwealth, the temple must have been modest indeed.

Soon after the return, the community began to rebuild the temple. Joshua the high priest and Zerubbabel the governor were the leaders of the movement. Many difficulties kept the builders from completing the temple until 515 b.c. At that time they were urged on in the work by the prophets Haggai and Zechariah, and the building was finished. No description of this temple exists. Its dimensions were probably the same as Solomon’s, but it was much less ornate and costly.

The Holy Place of the new temple seems to have had a curtain at its front. It had one lampstand, a golden altar of incense, and a table for the bread of the Presence. Another curtain separated the Hekhal from the Most Holy Place. According to Josephus, the Most Holy Place was empty. Evidently the ark had been destroyed in 587 b.c. and was never replaced. A single slab of stone marked its place. The Babylonian Talmud asserts that five things were lacking in the new temple: the ark, the sacred fire, the Shekinah, the Holy Spirit, and the Urim and Thummim.

No doubt the temple was repaired and beautified many times in the succeeding centuries, but of this we have no information. Our next knowledge of it comes from the days of Antiochus Epiphanes. In 168 b.c. this Syrian king sought to stamp out the Hebrew religion, robbed the temple of its furniture and desecrated it, forcing the high priest to sacrifice a pig on its altar. This action precipitated the Maccabean revolt. In 165 the Jews, led by the Maccabees, recaptured, cleansed, and rededicated the temple. 1Macc.4.44-1Macc.4.46 tells how they replaced the stone altar of burnt offering with stones that had not been defiled, meanwhile saving the old stones “until there should come a prophet to give an answer concerning them.” The story of the rededication of the temple and the miraculous supply of oil for the lamps is perpetuated in the Jewish festival of Hanukkah.

Judas Maccabeus at this time fortified the temple with walls and towers, making it the citadel of Jerusalem. Sometime during the next century a bridge was built across the Tyropoeon Valley connecting the temple with the Hasmonean palace. The Hasmoneans (a later name for the Maccabees) were both high priests and kings, and by this bridge they sought to make the temple easier to defend. All of this points up the fact that the Second Commonwealth period was one of uneasy peace at best, and that the temple henceforth was to be both the religious and military center of the Jews, until, in a.d. 70, Herod’s temple fell and the Jews lost both the religious life as they had always known it and their fatherland.

In 63 b.c. the Roman general Pompey captured Jerusalem and took the temple after a hard struggle, breaking down the Hasmonean bridge. Although Pompey did not harm the temple, the Roman consul Crassus plundered it of all its gold nine years later.

Herod’s Temple

Our sources of information concerning Herod’s temple are Josephus, the Jewish historian and priest who flourished about a.d. 70, and the tract Middoth of the Mishnah written at least a century after the final destruction of the temple. Neither can be used uncritically, and many details of the Herodian building and service remain uncertain.

Herod the Great (37-4 b.c.) was an indefatigable builder. Many cities and heathen temples had been rebuilt by him, and it was natural that he should wish to show his own grandeur by replacing the modest restoration temple with a more complex and much more beautiful temple. Other motives probably moved him, especially his desire to ingratiate himself with the more religious Jews, who resented his Idumean origin and his friendliness with the Romans.

Herod began his work in his eighteenth year (20-19 b.c.). The Jews were afraid that the work would interrupt the temple service, but Herod went to great lengths to prevent this, rebuilding the old structure piecemeal, never stopping the ritual observances until an entirely new temple came into being. Since only priests could enter the temple and the inner court, one thousand of them were the masons and the carpenters for that inner area. The “house” itself was finished in a year and a half; eight years were spent on the surrounding buildings and court, which were not finally completed until a.d. 64. The Jews said to Jesus that the temple had been under construction forty-six years (John.2.20); more than thirty more years were to pass before it was really finished, then only to be destroyed. All speak of the grandeur of the building, which was of white marble, its eastern front covered with plates of gold that reflected the rays of the rising sun.

The temple area was probably equivalent to the modern Haram esh-Sherif, except that the north end of the Haram was the location of the fortress Antonia. This area, twice as large as that on which Zerubbabel’s temple was situated, was artificially built up by underground arches (the present “Solomon’s Stables”) and fill held in by retaining walls (the Wailing Wall is a part of Herod’s western retaining wall). The area, some twenty-six acres in size, was surrounded by a high wall. Gates on each side led into it, but the principal gates were in the south and west walls, leading in from the city. The eastern gate may have been the Beautiful Gate (Acts.3.2, Acts.3.10), perhaps located where the Golden Gate stands today. Around the inside of the walls ran porches. The finest one was on the south side—the Royal Porch—having four rows of dazzling white marble columns in the Corinthian style, 162 columns in all. The eastern porch was called Solomon's Colonnade|Solomon’s Colonnade (John.10.23; Acts.3.11; Acts.5.12). During the feasts the Roman guards used to walk on the roofs of the porches to see that order was kept.

Near the NW corner of the temple area was located the fortress Antonia. It dominated the temple and was the headquarters of the guard so often needed to keep the peace. From the stairs that led from the temple precincts to Antonia, Paul delivered his sermon (Acts.21.31-Acts.22.21) after having been rescued by the guard from the mob.

Entering the temple area, one came to four successive walled courts that surrounded the temple, each more exclusive than the one outside it. The first was the Court of the Gentiles. It was not holy ground, and non-Jews were permitted there. Here buying and selling went on; it was here that Jesus cleansed the temple (John.2.14-John.2.17). Within the Court of the Gentiles were situated the temple and inner courts, built on a platform twenty-two feet (seven m.) above the floor of the outer court. Stairways led up to this platform. Surrounding it was a stone wall on which were placed stones with inscriptions in Greek and Latin forbidding non-Jews from entering on pain of death. Several of these stones have been found (cf. Acts.21.26-Acts.21.28).

On the platform was the inner court. It was the temple precinct and holy ground. Only the covenant people could enter here. It was surrounded by a high wall, and against the inner side of this wall were built storage chambers and colonnades. Ritual paraphernalia was kept in some of the chambers and the Sanhedrin is believed to have met in one of them. The inner court was divided into two unequal parts by a cross wall running north and south. The eastern and smaller area was the Women’s Court. Here women as well as men were permitted and here were located thirteen chests like inverted trumpets, into which offerings for the expenses of the temple services were placed. In this place the poor widow was commended by Jesus when she gave her two copper coins (Mark.12.41-Mark.12.44). For reasons of ceremonial purity only men were allowed in the western area, which contained in its center the temple proper. Around the temple was the Court of the Priests, which contained the altar of burnt offering and the laver. Around the Priests’ Court was the Court of Israel, accessible to all Jewish males. Here the men gathered when the service was being carried on, to pray and to observe the offering of the sacrifices (Luke.1.10).

In the center of these many courts within courts stood the temple itself, raised twelve steps above the Court of the Priests. Perhaps the forbidding inaccessibility of the sanctuary was in Paul’s mind when he said that Christ “destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility” to bring the Gentiles into the fellowship of the people of God (Eph.2.14).

The temple porch—one hundred fifty feet (forty-seven m.) in length and breadth and thirty feet (nine m.) deep—faced east. It projected twenty-two and one-half feet (seven m.) beyond the sides of the temple proper, for the temple was only one hundred five feet (thirty-three m.) wide. Above the entrance to the porch (which had no door) Herod had placed a golden eagle, which as a Roman emblem (and an unclean bird) was most distasteful to the Jews. Shortly before his death it was destroyed. In front of the doorway to the Hekhal or Holy Place hung a beautifully colored Babylonian curtain or veil. The inner area of the Hekhal was sixty feet (nineteen m.) long, thirty feet (nine m.) broad, and ninety feet (twenty-eight m.) high, and it contained the altar of incense in the middle, the table of the bread of the Presence on the north, and the lampstand on the south. Only the officiating priests could enter this room, to bring in the incense morning and evening, to trim the lamps daily, and to replace the bread of the Presence every Sabbath.

Between the Hekhal and the Devir or the Most Holy Place hung two curtains, with eighteen inches (forty-six cm.) space between them. On the Day of Atonement the high priest entered the Devir with his censer by going to the south side, passing between the curtains to the north side, and thus emerging into the Most Holy Place. The Gospels refer to these as one veil, which was torn in two at the time of Jesus’ crucifixion (Matt.27.51; Mark.15.38; Luke.23.45). The Devir was empty and was entered by the high priest only once a year, on the Day of Atonement.

An upper room, sixty feet (nineteen m.) high, covered the two chambers of the temple. From this room workmen were let down in boxes to effect needed repairs. Probably this was to avoid needless walking through the sacred house. As in Solomon’s, so in Herod’s temple, there were storerooms along the sides, except for the front or east, where the porch stood. These were used for storage and for the residence of officiating priests. No natural light came into this temple from roof or windows. It depended on the lamps for its light.

In front of the temple, in the Courtyard of the Priests, stood the altar of burnt offering. It is believed that this altar stood on the great rock that is covered today by the building called the Dome of the Rock on the Haram esh-Sherif. It was made of unhewn stones. There was always a fire burning on the altar. At the SW corner was located a drainage channel for the blood to the Kidron Valley. North of the altar were twenty-four rings affixed to the ground. To these were tied the sacrificial victims, and there they were killed by slitting their throats. Still farther to the north were pillars with iron hooks on which the carcasses were hung for dressing. If this reminds us today of a butcher shop rather than a place of worship, we should remember that this antithesis would have been meaningless in the biblical world. Not only did the priests live by eating many of the sacrificial victims, but any killing of an animal for food anywhere was considered a kind of religious act—a sacrifice—and certain rituals were prescribed.

South of the sacrificial altar was the bronze laver or wash basin, where the priests washed their hands and feet. The water was supplied by pipes from the temple spring.

The temple was burned when Jerusalem fell to the Roman armies in August a.d. 70. Pictures on the Triumphal Arch of Titus in Rome show the soldiers carrying off the temple furniture as loot. This destruction made complete and final the break between the temple and the church and thus helped to establish the church as a religion completely separate from Israel. The early Christians saw in this forced cessation of the Jewish ritual a proof of the validity of Christ’s claims to be the Redeemer foreshadowed by the Old Testament ceremonial law.

Additional Material

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

kort, sank’~-tu-a-ri: By "court" (chatser) is meant a clear space enclosed by curtains or walls, or surrounded by buildings. It was always an uncovered enclosure, but might have within its area one or more edifices.

1. The Tabernacle:

The first occurrence of the word is in Ex 27:9, where it is commanded to "make the court of the tabernacle." The dimensions for this follow in the directions for the length of the linen curtains which were to enclose it. From these we learn that the perimeter of the court was 300 cubits, and that it consisted of two squares, each 75 ft., lying East and West of one another. In the westerly square stood the tabernacle, while in that to the East was the altar of burnt offering. This was the worshipper’s square, and every Hebrew who passed through the entrance gate had immediate access to the altar (compare W. Robertson Smith, note on Ex 20:26, Smith, The Old Testament in the Jewish Church, 435). The admission to this scene of the national solemnities was by the great east gate described in Ex 27:13-16 (see East Gate).

2. Solomon’s Temple:

The fundamental conception out of which grew the resolve to build a temple for the worship of Yahweh was that the new structure was to be an enlarged duplicate in stone of the tent of meeting (see Temple). The doubling in size of the holy chambers was accompanied by a doubling of the enclosed area upon which the holy house was to stand. Hitherto a rectangular oblong figure of 150 ft. in length and 75 ft. in breadth had sufficed for the needs of the people in their worship. Now an area of 300 ft. in length and 150 ft. in breadth was enclosed within heavy stone walls, making, as before, two squares, each of 150 ft. This was that "court of the priests" spoken of in 2Ch 4:9, known to its builders as "the inner court" (1Ki 6:36; compare Jer 36:10). Its walls consisted of "three courses of hewn stone, and a course of cedar beams" (1Ki 6:36), into which some read the meaning of colonnades. Its two divisions may have been marked by some fence. The innermost division, accessible only to the priests, was the site of the new temple. In the easterly division stood the altar of sacrifice; into this the Hebrew laity had access for worship at the altar. Later incidental allusions imply the existence of "chambers" in the court, and also the accessibility of the laity (compare Jer 35:4; 36:10; Eze 8:16).

3. The Great Court:

In distinction from this "inner" court a second or "outer" court was built by Solomon, spoken of by the Chronicler as "the great court" (2Ch 4:9). Its doors were overlaid with brass (bronze). Wide difference of opinion obtains as to the relation of this outer court to the inner court just described, and to the rest of the Solomonic buildings-- particularly to "the great court" of "the house of the forest of Lebanon" of 1Ki 7:9,10. Some identify the two, others separate them. Did this court, with its brass-covered gates, extend still farther to the East than the temple "inner" court, with, however, the same breadth as the latter? Or was it, as Keil thinks, a much larger enclosure, surrounding the whole temple area, extending perhaps 150 cubits eastward in front of the priests’ court (compare Keil, Biblical Archaeology, I, 171, English translation)? Yet more radical is the view, adopted by many modern authorities, which regards "the great court" as a vast enclosure surrounding the temple and the whole complex of buildings described in 1Ki 7:1-12 (see the plan, after Stade, in G. A. Smith’s Jerusalem, II, 59). In the absence of conclusive data the question must be left undetermined.

4. Ezekiel’s Temple:

In Ezekiel’s plan of the temple yet to be built, the lines of the temple courts as he had known them in Jerusalem are followed. Two squares enclosed in stone walling, each of 150 ft., lie North and South of one another, and bear the distinctive names, "the inner court" and "the outer court" (Eze 8:16; 10:5).

5. Temple of Herod:

In the Herodian temple the old nomenclature gives place to a new set of terms. The extensive enclosure known later as "the court of the Gentiles" does not appear under that name in the New Testament or in Josephus What we have in the tract Middoth of the Mishna and in Josephus is the mention of two courts, the "court of the priests" and "the court of Israel" (Middoth, ii.6; v. 1; Josephus, BJ, V, v, 6). The data in regard to both are difficult and conflicting. In Middoth they appear as long narrow strips of 11 cubits in breadth extending at right angles to the temple and the altar across the enclosure--the "court of Israel" being railed off from the "court of the priests" on the East; the latter extending backward as far as the altar, which has a distinct measurement. The design was to prevent the too near approach of the lay Israelite to the altar. Josephus makes the 11 cubits of the "court of Israel" extend round the whole "court of the priests, " inclusive of altar and temple (see Temple; and compare G. A. Smith, Jerusalem, II, 506- 9, with the reconstruction of Waterhouse in Sacred Sites of the Gospels, 111 ff). For the "women’s court," see Treasury.

Many expressions in the Psalms show how great was the attachment of the devout-minded Hebrew in all ages to those courts of the Lord’s house where he was accustomed to worship (e.g. Ps 65:4; 84:2; 92:13; 96:8; 100:4; 116:19). The courts were the scene of many historical events in the Old Testament and New Testament, and of much of the earthly ministry of Jesus. There was enacted the scene described in the parable of the Pharisee and Publican (Lu 18:10-14).


  • F. J. Hollis, The Archaeology of Herod’s Temple, 1934;
  • A. Cole, The New Temple, 1950;
  • J. Simons, Jerusalem in the Old Testament, 1952;
  • Y. M. J. Congar, The Mystery of the Temple, 1962;
  • R. J. McKelvey, The New Temple, 1969.
  • Additional Material



    1. Second Version Not a Facsimile of First

    2. The Two Versions Differ as to the Builder

    3. The Earlier Version Silent about Things Recorded in Later Version


    1. Reason for Interdicting David’s Purpose to Build a Temple

    2. Impossibility of David in His Old Age Collecting Materials Enumerated by the Chronicler

    3. Supernaturally Received Pattern of the Temple Said to Have Been Given by David to Solomon

    4. Alleged Organization of the Temple-Service by David

    5. Assertion by Solomon That the Temple Would Be Used as a Central Sanctuary



    Modern criticism does not challenge the existence of a Solomonic Temple on Mt. Moriah, as it does that of a Mosaic tabernacle in the wilderness. Only it maintains that historic value belongs exclusively to the narrative in Kings, while the statements in Chronicles are pure ornamentation or ecclesiastical trimming dating from post-exilic times. All that is true about the Temple, says criticism, is

    (1) that David originally, i.e. on coming to the throne of all Israel, contemplated erecting such a structure upon Araunah’s threshing-floor, but was prohibited from doing so by Nathan, who at first approved of his design but was afterward directed by Yahweh to stay the king’s hand, and to inform the king that the work of building a house for Yahweh to dwell in was not to be his (the king’s) task and privilege but his son’s, and that as a solatium for his disappointment Yahweh would build him a house, by establishing the throne of his kingdom forever (2Sa 7:4-17);

    (2) that after David’s death Solomon called to mind the pious purpose of his father of which he had been informed and the express promise of Yahweh that David’s successor on the throne should execute that purpose, and accordingly resolved to "build a house for the name of Yahweh his God" (1Ki 5:3-5); and

    (3) that 7 1/2 years were employed in the work of construction, after which the finished Temple was dedicated in the presence of the congregation of Israel, with their princes, priests and Levites, in a speech which rehearsed the fact that David had intended to build the house but was prevented, and with a prayer which once more connected the Temple with the pious intention of David (1Ki 8:18-20).

    All the rest is simply embellishment (Wellhausen, GI, 181-92; article "Temple" in EB):

    (1) that David’s purpose to build the Temple was interdicted because he had been a man of war and had shed blood (1Ch 28:3), which in Wellhausen’s judgment should rather have been a qualification for the business;

    (2) that David in his old and feeble age made elaborate preparations for the construction of the house he was not to see--which, again writes Wellhausen, was like "making the bread so far ready that his son only required to shove it into the oven";

    (3) that David gave to his son Solomon the pattern of the house in all its details as the Lord had caused him to understand in writing ("black upon white," as Wellhansen expresses it) by His (the Lord’s) hand upon him--which was different from the way in which Moses received instruction about the tabernacle, namely, by a pattern shown to him in the Mount, and carried in his recollection;

    (4) that David before his death arranged all the musical service for the Temple, invented musical instruments, appointed all the officers to be associated with the Temple priests, Levites, porters and singers, distributing them in classes and assigning them their duties by lot (1Ch 23:2-26; 2Ch 8:12-16)--exactly as these things were afterward arranged in the second or post-exilic temple and were now carried back to David as the legislation of the Priestly Code was assigned to Moses; and

    (5) that David’s son Solomon assures Hiram (the Revised Version (British and American) "Huram") that the Temple will be used as a central sanctuary "to burn before him (Yahweh) incense of sweet spices, and for the continual showbread, and for the burnt-offerings morning and evening, on the sabbaths, and on the new moons, and on the set feasts of Yahweh our God" (2Ch 2:3 ), i.e. for divine service, which, according to criticism, was of post-exilic origin.

    The questions that now fall to be considered are: (1) whether the statements of the Chronicler are inconsistent with those in the Books of Samuel and Kings; and (2) if not, whether they are in themselves such as to be incredible.

    I. Alleged Want of Harmony between Earlier (K) and Later (Ch) Versions of Temple Building.

    1. Second Version Not a Facsimile of First

    It does not seem reasonable to hold that this has been established. The circumstance that the second account is not a facsimile of the first does not warrant the conclusion that the first alone is fact and the second fiction. It is quite conceivable that both might be true. David might have had it in his mind, as the first account states and the second acknowledges, to build a house for Yahweh, and yet not have been able to carry his purpose into effect, and have been obliged to hand over its execution to his son. David, moreover, might have been hindered by Yahweh (through His prophet Nathan) from building the Temple for more reasons than one--because the proposal was premature, God having it in His mind to build a house for David, i.e. to establish his dynasty, before requiring a permanent habitation for Himself; and also because the time was unpropitious, David having still much to do in the subjugation of his country’s enemies; and because it was more fitting that a temple for the God of Peace should not be erected by one who had been a man of war from his youth. The first of these reasons is stated in Samuel, the second and third are recorded in Chronicles.

    2. The Two Versions Differ as to the Builder

    The earlier version does not say that David built the house; but that his son was to do it, and this the later version does not contradict; the later version does not claim that the idea originated with Solomon, but ascribes it to David, precisely as the earlier version does. In this there is no disharmony, but rather underlying harmony. Both versions assert that David purposed and that Solomon performed, in which surely there is perfect agreement.

    3. The Earlier Version Silent about Things Recorded in Later Version

    The silence of the earlier version about the things recorded in the later version, such as the preparation of material and the organization of the Temple-service, does not prove that these things were not known to the author of the earlier version, or had not taken place when he wrote. No writer is obliged to cram into his pages all he knows, but only to insert as much of his information as will subserve his aim in writing. Nor does his omission to set down in his narrative this or that particular fact or incident amount to a demonstration that the unrecorded fact or incident had not then occurred or was not within his cognizance. Least of all is it expected that a writer of civil history shall fill his pages with details that are purely or chiefly ecclesiastical. In short, if the omission from Kings of David’s preparations and arrangement for the Temple testifies that no such preparations or arrangements were made, the omission from Chronicles of David’s sin with Bath-sheba and of Nathan’s parable of the Ewe Lamb should certify that either these things never happened or they were not known after the exile. It is usual to say they were purposely left out because it was the Chronicler’s intention to encircle David with a nimbus of glory (Wellhausen), but this is simply critical hypothesis, the truth of which is disputed. On critical principles either these incidents in David’s life were not true or the Chronicler was not aware of them. But the Chronicler had as one main source for his composition "the earlier historical books from Genesis to Kings" (Driver), and "the tradition of the older source only has historical value" (Wellhausen).

    II. Detailed Objections against Chronicler’s Account.

    1. Reason for Interdicting David’s Purpose to Build a Temple

    Examining now in detail the abovestated objections, we readily see that they are by no means so formidable as at first sight they look, and certainly do not prove the Chronicler’s account to be incredible. That David’s purpose to build a temple should have been interdicted because he had been a man of war and had shed blood appears to Wellhausen to be a watermark of non-historicity. Benzinger in Encyclopedia Biblica (art. "Temple") goes beyond this and says "There is no historical probablity David had thoughts of building a temple." But if David never thought of building a temple, then not only was the Chronicler mistaken in making Solomon say (2Ch 6:7) that it was in the heart of his father so to do, but he was chargeable with something worse in making the Lord say to David, "Whereas it was in thy heart to build a house for my name, thou didst well in that it was in thy heart" (2Ch 6:8), unless he was absolutely certain that the statement was true--which it was not if Benzinger may be relied on.

    Nor is it merely the Chronicler whose character for intelligence and piety suffers, if David never thought of building a temple; the reputation of the author or authors of Samuel and Kings must also go, since they both declare that David did entertain the purpose which Benzinger denies (2Sa 7:2; 1Ki 5:3); and an impartial reasoner will hesitate before he sacrifices the good name even of two unknown ancient writers at the ipse dixit of any modern scholar.

    We may therefore limit our remarks to Wellhausen’s objection and reply that the reason assigned by Chronicles for prohibiting David from carrying out his purpose, namely, that he had been a man of war, might have been an argument for permitting him to do so, or at least for his seeking to do so, had his object been to erect a monument to his own glory or a thank offering to God for the victories he had won; but not if the Temple was designed to be a habitation wherein God might dwell among His people to receive their worship and bless them with His grace. Strange as it may seem (Winer) that David should have been debarred from carrying out his purpose for the reason assigned, yet there was reason in the interdict, for not only was it fitting that peaceful works should be carried out by peaceful hands (Merz in PRE2), but David’s vocation was not temple-building but empire-building (to use a modern phrase); and many campaigns lay before him ere the leisure could be found or the land could be ready for the execution of his sacred design.

    2. Impossibility of David in His Old Age Collecting Materials Enumerated by the Chronicler

    That David in his old and feeble age could not possibly have collected all the materials enumerated by 1Ch 29 might possibly have been true, had David been an impecunious chieftain and had he only in the last years of his life commenced to amass treasure. But David was a powerful and wealthy eastern potentate and a valiant warrior besides, who had conquered numerous tribes, Philistines, Moabites, Syrians, Edomites and Ammonites, and had acquired from his victories large spoil, which from an early stage in his career he had been accustomed to dedicate to the Lord (2Sa 8:11). Hence, it is little better than trifling to put forward as an inherent mark of incredibility the statement that David in his old age could not have made extensive and costly preparations for the building of the Temple--all the more that according to the narrative he was assisted by "the princes of the fathers’ houses, and the princes of the tribes of Israel, and the captains of thousands and of hundreds, with the rulers over the king’s work," and "the people" generally, who all "offered willingly for the service of the house of God."

    No doubt the value in sterling money of these preparations is enormous--the gold and silver alone being variously reckoned at 8 (Keil), 16 (Bertheau), 81 (Michaelis), 450 (Kautzsch), 1,400 (Rawlinson) millions of pounds--and might reasonably suggest either that the text has become corrupt, or the numbers were originally used loosely to express the idea of an extraordinary amount, or were of set purpose exaggerated. The first of these explanations is adopted by Rawlinson; the second by Berthcan; the third by Wellhausen, who sees in the whole section (1Ch 22-29) "’a frightful example of the statistical fantasy of the Jews, which delights itself in immense sums of gold upon paper." But even conceding that in each of these explanations a measure of truth may lie, it does not seem justifiable to wipe out as unhistorical and imaginary the main statement of the Chronicler, that David’s preparations were both extensive and costly, all the less that 1Ki 10:14,15 bears witness to the extraordinary wealth of Solomon. whose income is stated to have been 666 talents of gold, or about 3 millions sterling, a year, besides that he had of the merchantmen, and of the traffic of the spice merchants, and of all the kings of Arabia and of the governors of the country. If David’s annual income was anything like this, and if he had command of all the treasures accumulated in previous years, it does not look so impossible as criticism would make out that David could have prepared for the future Temple as the Chronicler reports.

    3. Supernaturally Received Pattern of the Temple Said to Have Been Given by David to Solomon

    That David gave to Solomon the pattern of the Temple in a writing which had been prepared by him under direct supernatural guidance can be objected to only by those who deny the possibility of such divine communications being made by God to man. If criticism admits, as it sometimes does, the possibility of both revelation and inspiration, the objection under consideration must fall to the ground. That the method of making David acquainted with the pattern of the Temple was not in all respects the same as that adopted for showing Moses the model of the tabernacle, only proves that the resources of infinite wisdom are not usually exhausted by one effort, and that God is not necessarily tied down to one particular way of uttering His thoughts.

    But criticism mostly rejects the idea of the supernatural and accordingly dismisses this statement about the God-given pattern as altogether fanciful--pointing (1) to the fact that similar temples already existed among the Canaanites, as e.g. at Shechem (Jud 9:46) and at Gaza (Jud 16:29), which showed there was no special need for a divinely-prepared plan; and (2) to the circumstance that Solomon fetched Hiram, a Tyrian worker in brass, to assist in the erection of the Temple, which again, it is urged, renders probable the conclusion that at least Phoenician ideas entered into its structure (Duncker, Benzinger). Suppose, however, it were true that the Temple was fashioned on a Phoenician, Canaanite or Egyptian model, that would not disprove the statement that David was guided by divine inspiration in drawing up the outline of the building.

    4. Alleged Organization of the Temple-Service by David

    That David’s organization of the Temple-service, both as to officers and instruments as to ritual and music, corresponded exactly (or nearly so) with what afterward existed in the second temple can hardly be adduced as a proof of non-historicity, except on the supposition that Chronicles deliberately "transformed the old history into church history" by ascribing to David the holy music and the arrangement of the Temple personals" which belonged to the post-exilic age, precisely as the author or authors of the Priestly Code, which dated from the same age (according to criticism), attributed this to Moses (Wellhausen, GI, 187)--in other words, by stating what was not true in either case, by representing that as having happened which had not happened. Whether this was originally intended to deceive and was a willful fraud, as some hold, and whether it was legitimate then "to do evil that good might come," to persuade men that David organized the musical service which was performed in the second temple in order to secure for it popular acceptance, it may be left to each reader to determine; it must always be wrong to ascribe doubtful practices to good men like the authors of the Priestly Code (P) and of Chronicles unless one is absolutely sure that they were guilty of such practices. Undoubtedly the fair and reasonable thing is to hold that the Chronicler wrote the truth until it is proved that he did not; and for his statement it may be claimed that at least it has this in its favor, that in the earlier sources David is distinctly stated to have been a musician (1Sa 16:23), to have composed a song, Ps 18 (2Sa 22:1), and to have been designated "the sweet psalmist of Israel." No doubt on the critical hypothesis this might explain why the thought occurred to the Chronicler to credit David with the organization of the Temple-service; but without the critical hypothesis it equally accounts for the interest David took in preparing "the music and the personals" for the Temple which his son was to, build. "The tradition that David intended to build a temple and that he reorganized public worship, not forgetting the musical side thereof (compare 2Sa 6:5 with Am 6:5)," says Kittel (The Scientific Study of the Old Testament, 136, English translation), "is not altogether without foundation."

    5. Assertion by Solomon That the Temple Would Be Used as a Central Sanctuary

    That the Temple-service was carried out in accordance with the regulations of the Priestly Code does not prove that the Chronicles account is unreliable, unless it is certain that the postexilic Priestly Code was an entirely new ritual which had never existed before, which some modern critics do not admit. But, if it was merely, as some maintain, a codification of a cult that existed before, then no sufficient reason exists for holding that Solomon’s Temple was designed to be a private chapel for the king (Benzinger), erected partly out of piety but partly also out of love of splendor and statecraft (Reuss), rather than a central sanctuary for the people. A study of Solomon’s letter to Hiram (2Ch 2:4) shows that the Temple was intended for the concentration of the nation’s sacrificial worship which had up till then been frequently offered at local shrines, though originally meant for celebration at the Mosaic tabernacle--for the burning of sweet incense (Ex 30:1), the offering day by day continually of the burnt offering (Ex 29:39). And though, it is admitted, the letter to Hiram as reported in 1 Kings makes no mention of this intention, yet it is clear from 1Ki 8:62-65, that Solomon, after dedicating the Temple by prayer, used it for this purpose. Wherefore, if Chronicles simply transferred to the consecration of the Temple a ritual that had no existence until after the exile, the author of Kings did the same, which again would destroy Wellhausen’s admission that historical validity attaches to the earlier source. A much more likely supposition is that the ritual reported by both historians was not that of a Priestly Code manufactured for the second temple, but that which had been published by Moses for the tabernacle, in place of which it had come. That local shrines for many years existed alongside of the Temple only proves that Solomon’s original idea was not perfectly carried out either by himself or his people.


    The Commentaries of Bertheau and Keil on Chronicles; Reuss. Geschichte der heiligen Schriften des Alten Testaments; articles on "Temple" in Sch-Herz; Riehm. Handworterbuch; HDB; EB; Wellhausen. Prolegomena schichte Israels.

    Source 2


    I. Introductory.

    1. Relation to History of Temple:

    Wellhausen has said that Ezekiel 40-48 "are the most important in his book, and have been, not incorrectly, called the key to the Old Testament" (Prolegomena, English translation, 167). He means that Ezekiel’s legislation represents the first draft, or sketch, of a priestly code, and that subsequently, on its basis, men of the priestly school formulated the Priestly Code as we have it. Without accepting this view, dealt with elsewhere, it is to be admitted that Ezekiel’s sketch of a restored temple in chapters 40-43 has important bearings on the history of the Temple, alike in the fact that it presupposes and sheds back light upon the structure and arrangements of the first Temple (Solomon’s), and that in important respects it forecasts the plans of the second (Zerubbabel’s) and of Herod’s temples.

    2. The Conception Unique and Ideal:

    While, however, there is this historical relation, it is to be observed that Ezekiel’s temple-sketch is unique, presenting features not found in any of the actually built temples. The temple is, in truth, an ideal construction never intended to be literally realized by returned exiles, or any other body of people. Visionary in origin, the ideas embodied, and not the actual construction, are the main things to the prophet’s mind. It gives Ezekiel’s conception of what a perfectly restored temple and the service of Yahweh would be under conditions which could scarcely be thought of as ever likely literally to arise. A literal construction, one may say, was impossible. The site of the temple is not the old Zion, but "a very high mountain" (Eze 40:2), occupying indeed the place of Zion, but entirely altered in elevation, configuration and general character. The temple is part of a scheme of transformed land, partitioned in parallel tracts among the restored 12 tribes (Eze 47:13-48:7,23-29), with a large area in the center, likewise stretching across the whole country, hallowed to Yahweh and His service (Eze 48:8-22). Supernatural features, as that of the flowing stream from the temple in Ezekiel 47, abound. It is unreasonable to suppose that the prophet looked for such changes--some of them quite obviously symbolical--as actually impending.

    3. Its Symmetrical Measurements:

    The visionary character of the temple has the effect of securing that its measurements are perfectly symmetrical. The cubit used is defined as "a cubit and a handbreadth" (Eze 40:5), the contrast being with one or more smaller cubits (see Cubit). In the diversity of opinion as to the precise length of the cubit, it may be assumed here that it was the same sacred cubit employed in the tabernacle and first Temple, and may be treated, as before, as approximately equivalent to 18 inches.

    II. Plan of the Temple.

    Despite obscurities and corruption in the text of Ezekiel, the main outlines of the ideal temple can be made out without much difficulty (for details the commentaries must be consulted; A. B. Davidson’s "Ezekiel" in the Cambridge Bible series may be recommended; compare also Keil; a very lucid description is given in Skinner’s "Book of Ezk," in the Expositor’s Bible, 406-13; for a different view, see Caldecott, The Second Temple in Jerusalem).

    1. The Outer Court:

    2. The Inner Court:


    3. The Temple Building and Adjuncts:

    See Gallery.

    Such, in general, was the sanctuary of the prophet’s vision, the outer and inner courts of which, and, crowning all, the temple itself, rising in successive terraces, presented to his inner eye an imposing spectacle which, in labored description, he seeks to enable his readers likewise to visualize.


    I. Introductory.

    1. The Decree of Cyrus:

    Forty-eight years after Nebuchadnezzar’s destruction of the first Temple, the Babylonian empire came to an end (538 BC), and Persia became dominant under Cyrus. In the year following, Cyrus made a decree sanctioning the return of the Jews, and ordering the rebuilding of the Temple at Jerusalem (2Ch 36:23; Ezr 1:1-4). He not only caused the sacred vessels of the old Temple to be restored, but levied a tax upon his western provinces to provide materials for the building, besides what was offered willingly (Ezr 1:6-11; 6:3 ). The relatively small number of exiles who chose to return for this work (40,000) were led by Sheshbazzar, "the prince of Judah" (Ezr 1:11), whom some identify with Zerubbabel, likewise named "governor of Judah" (Hag 1:1). With these, if they were distinct was associated Joshua the high priest (in Ezra and Nehemiah called "Jeshua").

    2. Founding of the Temple:

    The first work of Joshua and Zerubbabel was the building of the altar on its old site in the 7th month of the return (Ezr 3:3 ). Masons and carpenters were engaged for the building of the house, and the Phoenicians were requisitioned for cedar wood from Lebanon (Ezr 3:7). In the 2nd year the foundations of the temple were laid with dignified ceremonial, amid rejoicing, and the weeping of the older men, who remembered the former house (Ezr 3:8-13).

    3. Opposition and Completion of the Work:

    The work soon met with opposition from the mixed population of Samaria, whose offer to join it had been refused; hostile representations, which proved successful, were made to the Persian king; from which causes the building was suspended about 15 years, till the 2nd year of Darius Hystaspis (520 BC; Ezr 4). On the other hand, the prophets Haggai and Zechariah stimulated the flagging zeal of the builders, and, new permission being obtained, the work was resumed, and proceeded so rapidly that in 516 BC the temple was completed, and was dedicated with joy (Ezr 5; 6).

    II. The Temple Structure.

    1. The House:

    Few details are available regarding this temple of Zerubbabel. It stood on the ancient site, and may have been influenced in parts of its plan by the descriptions of the temple in Ezekiel. The inferiority to the first Temple, alluded to in Ezr 3:12 and Hag 2:3, plainly cannot refer to its size, for its dimensions as specified in the decree of Cyrus, namely, 60 cubits in height, and 60 cubits in breadth (Ezr 6:3; there is no warrant for confining the 60 cubits of height to the porch only; compare Josephus, Ant, XI, i), exceed considerably those of the Temple of Solomon (side-chambers are no doubt included in the breadth). The greater glory of the former Temple can only refer to adornment, and to the presence in it of objects wanting in the second. The Mishna declares that the second temple lacked five things present in the first--the ark, the sacred fire, the shekhinah, the Holy Spirit, and the Urim and Thummim (Yoma’, xxi.2).

    2. Its Divisions and Furniture:

    The temple was divided, like its predecessor, into a holy and a most holy place, doubtless in similar proportions. In 1 Macc 1:22 mention is made of the "veil" between the two places. The most holy place, as just said, was empty, save for a stone on which the high priest, on the great Day of Atonement, placed his censer (Yoma’ v.2). The holy place had its old furniture, but on the simpler scale of the tabernacle--a golden altar of incense, a single table of shewbread, one 7-branched candlestick. These were taken away by Antiochus Epiphanes (1 Macc 1:21,22). At the cleansing of the sanctuary after its profanation by this prince, they were renewed by Judas Maccabeus (1 Macc 4:41 ff). Judas pulled down also the old desecrated altar, and built a new one (1 Macc 4:44 ff).

    3. Its Courts, Altar, etc.:

    The second temple had two courts--an outer and an inner (1 Macc 4:38,48; 9:54; Josephus, Ant, XIV, xvi, 2)--planned apparently on the model of those in Ezekiel. A.R.S. Kennedy infers from the measurements in the Haram that "the area of the great court of the second temple, before it was enlarged by Herod on the South and East, followed that of Ezekiel’s outer court--that is, it measured 500 cubits each way with the sacred rock precisely in the center" (Expository Times, XX, 182). The altar on this old Sakhra site--the first thing of all to be "set on its base" (Ezr 3:3)--is shown by 1 Macc 4:47 and a passage quoted by Josephus from Hecataeus (Apion, I, xxii) to have been built of unhewn stones. Hecataeus gives its dimensions as a square of 20 cubits and 10 cubits in height. There seems to have been free access to this inner court till the time of Alexander Janneus (104-78 BC), who, pelted by the crowd as he sacrificed, fenced off the part of the court in front of the altar, so that no layman could come farther (Josephus, Ant, XIII, xiii, 5). The courts were colonnaded (Ant., XI, iv, 7; XIV, xvi, 2), and, with the house, had numerous chambers (compare Ne 12:44; 13:4 ff, etc.).

    A brief contemporary description of this Temple and its worship is given in Aristeas, 83-104. This writer’s interest, however, was absorbed chiefly by the devices for carrying away the sacrificial blood and by the technique of the officiating priests.

    4. Later Fortunes:

    The vicissitudes of this temple in its later history are vividly recorded in 1 Maccabees and in Josephus. In Ecclesiasticus 50 is given a glimpse of a certain Simon, son of Onias, who repaired the temple, and a striking picture is furnished of the magnificence of the worship in his time. The desecration and pillaging of the sanctuary by Antiochus, and its cleansing and restoration under Judas are alluded to above (see Hasmoneans; Maccabaeus). At length Judea became an integral part of the Roman empire. In 66 BC Pompey, having taken the temple-hill, entered the most holy place, but kept his hands off the temple-treasures (Ant., XIV, iv, 4). Some years later Crassus carried away everything of value he could find (Ant., XIV, vii, 1). The people revolted, but Rome remained victorious. This brings us to the time of Herod, who was nominated king of Judea by Rome in 39 BC, but did not attain actual power until two years later.


    I. Introductory.

    1. Initiation of the Work:

    Herod became king de facto by the capture of Jerusalem in 37 BC. Some years later he built the fortress Antonia to the North of the temple (before 31 BC). Midway in his reign, assigning a religious motive for his purpose, he formed the project of rebuilding the temple itself on a grander scale (Josephus gives conflicting dates; in Ant, XV, xi, 1, he says "in his 18th year"; in BJ, I, xxi, 1, he names his 15th year; the latter date, as Schurer suggests (GJV4, I 369), may refer to the extensive preparations). To allay the distrust of his subjects, he undertook that the materials for the new building should be collected before the old was taken down; he likewise trained 1,000 priests to be masons and carpenters for work upon the sanctuary; 10,000 skilled workmen altogether were employed upon the task. The building was commenced in 20-19 BC. The naos, or temple proper, was finished in a year and a half, but it took 8 years to complete the courts and cloisters. The total erection occupied a much longer time (compare Joh 2:20, "Forty and six years," etc.); indeed the work was not entirely completed till 64 AD-6 years before its destruction by the Romans.

    2. Its Grandeur:

    Built of white marble, covered with heavy plates of gold in front and rising high above its marble-cloistered courts--themselves a succession of terraces--the temple, compared by Josephus to a snow-covered mountain (BJ, V, v, 6), was a conspicuous and dazzling object from every side. The general structure is succinctly described by G. A. Smith: "Herod’s temple consisted of a house divided like its predecessor into the Holy of Holies, and the Holy Place; a porch; an immediate fore-court with an altar of burnt offering; a Court of Israel; in front of this a Court of Women; and round the whole of the preceding, a Court of the Gentiles" (Jerusalem, II, 502). On the "four courts," compare Josephus, Apion, II, viii.

    3. Authorities:

    The original authorities on Herod’s temple are chiefly the descriptions in Josephus (Ant., XV, xi, 3, 5; BJ, V, v, etc.), and the tractate Middoth in the Mishna. The data in these authorities, however, do not always agree. The most helpful modern descriptions, with plans, will be found, with differences in details, in Keil, Biblical Archaeology, I, 187 ff; in Fergusson, Temples of the Jews; in the articles "Temple" in HDB (T. Witton Davies) and Encyclopedia Biblica (G. H. Box); in the important series of papers by A. R. S. Kennedy in The Expository Times (vol XX), "Some Problems of Herod's Temple|Herod’s Temple" (compare his article "Temple" in one-vol DB); in Sanday’s Sacred Sites of the Gospels (Waterhouse); latterly in G. A. Smith, Jerusalem, II, 499 ff.

    4. Measurements:

    Differences of opinion continue as to the sacred cubit. A. R. S. Kennedy thinks the cubit can be definitely fixed at 17,6 inches. (Expostory Times, XX, 24 ff); G. A. Smith reckons it at 20,67 inches. (Jerusalem, II, 504); T. Witton Davies estimates it at about 18 in. (HDB, IV, 713), etc. W. S. Caldecott takes the cubit of Josephus and the Middoth to be 1 1/5 ft. It will suffice in this sketch to treat the cubit, as before, as approximately equivalent to 18 inches.

    II. The Temple and Its Courts.

    1. Temple Area--Court of Gentiles:

    Josephus states that the area of Herod’s temple was double that of its predecessor (BJ, I, xxi, 1). The Mishna (Mid., ii.2) gives the area as 500 cubits (roughly 750 ft.); Josephus (Ant., XV, xi, 3) gives it as a stadium (about 600 Greek ft.); but neither measure is quite exact. It is generally agreed that on its east, west and south sides Herod’s area corresponded pretty nearly with the limits of the present Haram area (see Jerusalem), but that it did not extend as far North as the latter (Kennedy states the difference at about 26 as compared with 35 acres, and makes the whole perimeter to be about 1,420 yards, ut supra, 66). The shape was an irregular oblong, broader at the North than at the South. The whole was surrounded by a strong wall, with several gates, the number and position of some of which are still matters of dispute. Josephus mentions four gates on the West (Ant., XV, xi, 5), the principal of which, named in Mid., i.3, "the gate of Kiponos," was connected by a bridge across the Tyropoeon with the city (where now is Wilson’s Arch). The same authority speaks of two gates on the South. These are identified with the "Huldah" (mole) gates of the Mishna--the present Double and Triple Gates--which, opening low down in the wall, slope up in tunnel fashion into the interior of the court. The Mishna puts a gate also on the north and one on the east side. The latter may be represented by the modern Golden Gate--a Byzantine structure, now built up. This great court--known later as the "Court of the Gentiles," because open to everyone--was adorned with splendid porticos or cloisters. The colonnade on the south side--known as the Royal Porch--was specially magnificent. It consisted of four rows of monolithic marble columns--162 in all--with Corinthian capitals, forming three aisles, of which the middle was broader and double the height of the other two. The roofing was of carved cedar. The north, west, and east sides had only double colonnades. That on the east side was the "Solomon's Porch|Solomon’s Porch" of the New Testament (Joh 10:23; Ac 3:11; 5:19). There were also chambers for officials, and perhaps a place of meeting for the Sanhedrin (beth din) (Josephus places this elsewhere). In the wide spaces of this court took place the buying and selling described in the Gospels (Mt 21:12 and parallel’s; Joh 2:13 ff).

    2. Inner Sanctuary Inclosure:

    (1) Wall, "Chel," "Coregh," Gates.

    In the upper or northerly part of this large area, on a much higher level, bounded likewise by a wall, was a second or inner enclosure--the "sanctuary" in the stricter sense (Josephus, BJ, V, v, 2)--comprising the court of the women, the court of Israeland the priests’ court, with the temple itself (Josephus, Ant, XV, xi, 5). The surrounding wall, according to Josephus (BJ, V, v, 2), was 40 cubits high on the outside, and 25 on the inside--a difference of 15 cubits; its thickness was 5 cubits. Since, however, the inner courts were considerably higher than the court of the women, the difference in height may have been some cubits less in the latter than in the former (compare the different measurements in Kennedy, ut supra, 182), a fact which may explain the difficulty felt as to the number of the steps in the ascent (see below). Round the wall without, at least on three sides (some except the West), at a height of 12 (Mid.) or 14 (Jos) steps, was an embankment or terrace, known as the chel (fortification), 10 cubits broad (Mid. says 6 cubits high), and enclosing the whole was a low balustrade or stone parapet (Josephus says 3 cubits high) called the coregh, to which were attached at intervals tablets with notices in Greek and Latin, prohibiting entry to foreigners on pain of death (see The Middle Wall of Partition). From within the coregh ascent was made to the level of the chel by the steps aforesaid, and five steps more led up to the gates (the reckoning is probably to the lower level of the women’s court). Nine gates, with two-storied gatehouses "like towers" (Josephus, BJ, V, v, 3), are mentioned, four on the North, four on the South, and one on the East--the last probably to be identified, though this is still disputed (Waterhouse, etc.), with the "Gate of Nicanor" (Mid.), or "Corinthian Gate" (Jos), which is undoubtedly "the Beautiful Gate" of Ac 3:2,10 (see for identification, Kennedy, ut supra, 270). This principal gate received its names from being the gift of a wealthy Alexandrian Jew, Nicanor, and from its being made of Corinthian brass. It was of great size--50 cubits high and 40 cubits wide--and was richly adorned, its brass glittering like gold (Mid., ii.3). See Beautiful Gate. The other gates were covered with gold and silver (Josephus, BJ, V, v, 3).

    (2) Court of the Women.

    The eastern gate, approached from the outside by 12 steps (Mid., ii.3; Maimonides), admitted into the court of the women, so called because it was accessible to women as well as to men. Above its single colonnades were galleries reserved for the use of women. Its dimensions are given in the Mishna as 135 cubits square (Mid., ii.5), but this need not be precise. At its four corners were large roofless rooms for storage and other purposes. Near the pillars of the colonnades were 13 trumpet-shaped boxes for receiving the money-offerings of the people (compare the incident of the widow’s mite, Mr 12:41 ff; Lu 21:1 ff); for which reason, and because this court seems to have been the place of deposit of the temple-treasures generally, it bore the name "treasury" (gazophulakion, Joh 8:20).

    See Treasury.

    (3) Inner Courts: Court of Israel; Court of the Priests:

    From the women’s court, the ascent was made by 15 semicircular steps (Mid., ii.5; on these steps the Levites chanted, and beneath them their instruments were kept) to the inner court, comprising, at different levels, the court of Israel and the court of the priests. Here, again, at the entrance, was a lofty, richly ornamented gate, which some, as said, prefer to regard as the Gate of Nicanor or Beautiful Gate. Probably, however, the view above taken, which places this gate at the outer entrance, is correct. The Mishna gives the total dimensions of the inner court as 187 cubits long (East to West) and 135 cubits wide (Mid., ii.6; v.1). Originally the court was one, but disturbances in the time of Alexander Janneus (104-78 BC) led, as formerly told, to the greater part being railed off for the exclusive use of the priests (Josephus, Ant, XIII, xiii, 5). In the Mishna the name "court of the priests" is used in a restricted sense to denote the space--11 cubits--between the altar and "the court of Israel" (see the detailed measurements in Mid., v.1). The latter--"the court of Israel"--2 1/2 cubits lower than "the court of the priests," and separated from it by a pointed fence, was likewise a narrow strip of only 11 cubits (Mid., ii.6; v.1). Josephus, with more probability, carries the 11 cubits of the "court of Israel" round the whole of the temple-court (BJ, V, vi). Waterhouse (Sacred Sites, 112) thinks 11 cubits too small for a court of male Israelites, and supposes a much larger enclosure, but without warrant in the authorities (compare Kennedy, ut supra, 183; G. A. Smith, Jerusalem, II, 508 ff).

    (4) The Altar, etc.

    In the priests’ court the principal object was the great altar of burnt offering, situated on the old site--the Sakhra--immediately in front of the porch of the temple (at 22 cubits distance--the space "between the temple and the altar" of Mt 23:35). The altar, according to the Mishna (Mid., iii.1), was 32 cubits square, and, like Ezekiel’s, rose in stages, each diminishing by a cubit: one of 1 cubit in height, three of 5 cubits, which, with deduction of another cubit for the priests to walk on, left a square of 24 cubits at the top. It had four horns. Josephus, on the other hand, gives 50 cubits for the length and breadth, and 15 cubits for the height of the altar (BJ, V, v, 6)--his reckoning perhaps including a platform (a cubit high?) from which the height is taken (see Altar). The altar was built of unhewn stones, and had on the South a sloping ascent of like material, 32 cubits in length and 16 in width. Between temple and altar, toward the South, stood the "laver" for the priests. In the court, on the north side, were rings, hooks, and tables, for the slaughtering, flaying and suspending of the sacrificial victims.

    3. The Temple Building:

    (1) House and Porch.

    Yet another flight of 12 steps, occupying most of the space between the temple-porch and the altar, led up to the platform (6 cubits high) on which stood the temple itself. This magnificent structure, built, as said before, of blocks of white marble, richly ornamented with gold on front and sides, exceeded in dimensions and splendor all previous temples. The numbers in the Mishna and in Josephus are in parts discrepant, but the general proportions can readily be made out. The building with its platform rose to the height of 100 cubits (150 ft.; the 120 cubits in Josephus, Ant, XV, xi, 3, is a mistake), and was 60 cubits (90 ft.) wide. It was fronted by a porch of like height, but with wings extending 20 cubits (30 ft.) on each side of the temple, making the total breadth of the vestibule 100 cubits (150 ft.) also. The depth of the porch was 10 or 11 cubits; probably at the wings 20 cubits (Jos). The entrance, without doors, was 70 cubits high and 25 cubits wide (Mid. makes 40 cubits high and 20 wide). Above it Herod placed a golden eagle, which the Jews afterward pulled down (Ant., XVII, vi, 3). The porch was adorned with gold.

    (2) "Hekhal" and "Debhir".

    Internally, the temple was divided, as before, into a holy place (hekhal) and a most holy (debhir)--the former measuring, as in Solomon’s Temple, 40 cubits (60 ft.) in length, and 20 cubits (30 ft.) in breadth; the height, however, was double that of the older Temple--60 cubits (90 ft.; thus Keil, etc., following Josephus, BJ, V, v, 5). Mid., iv.6, makes the height only 40 cubits; A. R. S. Kennedy and G. A. Smith make the debhir a cube--20 cubits in height only. In the space that remained above the holy places, upper rooms (40 cubits) were erected. The holy place was separated from the holiest by a partition one cubit in thickness, before which hung an embroidered curtain or "veil"--that which was rent at the death of Jesus (Mt 27:51 and parallel’s; Mid., iv.7, makes two veils, with a space of a cubit between them). The Holy of Holies was empty; only a stone stood, as in the temple of Zerubbabel, on which the high priest placed his censer on the Day of Atonement (Mishna, Yoma’, v.2). In the holy place were the altar of incense, the table of shewbread (North), and the seven-branched golden candlestick (South). Representations of the two latter are seen in the carvings on the Arch of Titus (see Table of Shewbread; The Golden Candlestick). The spacious entrance to the holy place had folding doors, before which hung a richly variegated Babylonian curtain. Above the entrance was a golden vine with clusters as large as a man (Josephus, Ant, XV, xi, 3; BJ, V, v, 4).

    (3) The Side-Chambers.

    The walls of the temple appear to have been 5 cubits thick, and against these, on the North, West, and South, were built, as in Solomon’s Temple, side-chambers in three stories, 60 cubits in height, and 10 cubits in width (the figures, however, are uncertain), which, with the outer walls, made the entire breadth of the house 60 or 70 cubits. Mid., iv.3, gives the number of the chambers as 38 in all. The roof, which Keil speaks of as "sloping" (Bib. Archaeology, I, 199), had gilded spikes to keep off the birds. A balustrade surrounded it 3 cubits high. Windows are not mentioned, but there would doubtless be openings for light into the holy place from above the sidechambers.

    III. New Testament Associations of Herod’s Temple.

    1. Earlier Incidents:

    Herod’s temple figures so prominently in New Testament history that it is not necessary to do more than refer to some of the events of which it was the scene. It was here, before the incense altar, that the aged Zacharias had the vision which assured him that he should not die childless (Lu 1:11 ). Here, in the women’s court, or treasury, on the presentation by Mary, the infant Jesus was greeted by Simeon and Anna (Lu 2:27 ff). In His 12th year the boy Jesus amazed the temple rabbis by His understanding and answers (Lu 2:46 ).

    3. The Passion-Week:

    The first days of the closing week of the life of Jesus--the week commencing with the Triumphal Entry--were spent largely in the temple. Here He spoke many parables (Mt 21; 22 and parallel’s); here He delivered His tremendous arraignment of the Pharisees (Mt 23 and parallel’s); here, as He "sat down over against the treasury," He beheld the people casting in their gifts, and praised the poor widow who cast in her two mites above all who cast in of their abundance (Mr 12:41 ff and parallel’s). It was on the evening of His last day in the temple that His disciples drew His attention to "the goodly stones and offerings" (gifts for adornment) of the building (Lu 21:5 and parallel’s) and heard from His lips the astonishing announcement that the days were coming--even in that generation--in which there should not be left one stone upon another (Lu 21:6 and parallel’s). The prediction was fulfilled to the letter in the destruction of the temple by the Romans in 70 AD.

    4. Apostolic Church:

    5. The Temple in Christian Thought:


    In general on the temples see Keil, Biblical Archaeology, I, in which the older literature is mentioned; Fergusson, Temples of the Jews; Comms. on K, Chronicles, Ezr, Neh, and Ezk; articles in the dicts. and encs (DB, HDB, EB); G. A. Smith, Jerusalem and similar works. On Solomon’s Temple, compare Benzinger, Heb. Archaologie. On Ezekiel’s temple, see Skinner’s "Book of Ezekiel" in Expositor’s Bible. On Zerubbabel’s temple, compare W. Shaw Caldecott, The Second Temple in Jerusalem. The original authorities on Herod’s temple are chiefly Josephus, Ant, XV, xi, and BJ, V, v; and the Mishna, Middoth, ii (this section of the Middoth, from Barclay’s Talmud, may be seen in App. I of Fergusson’s work above named). The German literature is very fully given in Schurer, HJP, I, 1, 438 ff (GJV4, I, 392 f). See also the articles of A. R. S. Kennedy in Expository Times, XX, referred to above, and P. Waterhouse, in Sanday, Sacred Sites of the Gospels, 106 ff. On symbolism, compare Westcott, Hebrews, 233 ff. See also articles in this Encyclopedia on parts, furniture, and utensils of the temple, under their several headings.

    W. Shaw Caldecott

    Source 3

    (hekhal, "palace"; sometimes, as in 1Ki 6:3,5, etc.; Eze 41:1,15 ff, used for "the holy place" only; bayith, "house," thus always in the Revised Version (British and American); hieron, naos):




    1. David’s Project

    2. Plans and Preparations

    3. Character of the Building

    4. Site of the Temple

    5. Phoenician Assistance


    1. In General

    2. Dimensions, Divisions and Adornments

    3. The Side-Chambers

    4. The Porch and Pillars


    1. The Inner Court

    (1) Walls

    (2) Gates

    2. The Great Court

    3. The Royal Buildings


    1. The Sanctuary

    (1) The "Debhir"

    (2) The "Hekhal"

    2. The Court (Inner)

    (1) The Altar

    (2) The Molten (Bronze) Sea

    (3) The Layers and Their Bases


    1. Building and Dedication

    2. Repeated Plunderings, etc.

    3. Attempts at Reform

    4. Final Overthrow



    1. Relation to History of Temple

    2. The Conception Unique and Ideal

    3. Its Symmetrical Measurements


    1. The Outer Court

    2. The Inner Court

    3. The Temple Building and Adjuncts



    1. The Decree of Cyrus

    2. Founding of the Temple

    3. Opposition and Completion of the Work


    1. The House

    2. Its Divisions and Furniture

    3. Its Courts, Altar, etc.

    4. Later Fortunes



    1. Initiation of the Work

    2. Its Grandeur

    3. Authorities

    4. Measurements


    1. Temple Area--Court of Gentiles

    2. Inner Sanctuary Inclosure

    (1) Wall, "Chel," "Coregh," Gates

    (2) Court of the Women

    (3) Inner Courts: Court of Israel; Court of the Priests

    (4) The Altar, etc.

    3. The Temple Building

    (1) House and Porch

    (2) "Hekhal" and "Debhir"

    (3) The Side-Chambers


    1. Earlier Incidents

    2. Jesus in the Temple

    3. The Passion-Week

    4. Apostolic Church

    5. The Temple in Christian Thought




    I. Introductory.

    1. David’s Project:

    The tabernacle having lasted from the exodus till the commencement of the monarchy, it appeared to David to be no longer fitting that the ark of God should dwell within curtains (it was then in a tent David had made for it on Zion: 2Sa 6:17), while he himself dwelt in a cedar-lined house. The unsettled and unorganized state of the nation, which had hitherto necessitated a portable structure, had now given place to an established kingdom. The dwelling of Yahweh should therefore be henceforth a permanent building, situated at the center of the nation’s life, and "exceeding magnificent" (1Ch 22:5), as befitted the glory of Yahweh, and the prospects of the state.

    2. Plans and Preparations:

    David, however, while honored for his purpose, was not permitted, because he had been a man of war (2Sa 7; 1Ch 22:8; compare 1Ki 5:3), to execute the work, and the building of the house was reserved for his son, Solomon. According to the Chronicler, David busied himself in making extensive and costly preparations of wood, stone, gold, silver, etc., for the future sanctuary and its vessels, even leaving behind him full and minute plans of the whole scheme of the building and its contents, divinely communicated (1Ch 22:2 ff; 28:11 ff; 29). The general fact of lengthened preparation, and even of designs, for a structure which so deeply occupied his thoughts, is extremely probable (compare 1Ki 7:51).

    3. Character of the Building:

    The general outline of the structure was based on that of the tabernacle (on the modern critical reversal of this relation, see under B, below). The dimensions are in the main twice those of the tabernacle, though it will be seen below that there are important exceptions to this rule, on which the critics found so much. The old question (see Tabernacle) as to the shape of the building--flat or gable-roofed--here again arises. Not a few modern writers (Fergusson, Schick, Caldecott, etc.), with some older, favor the tentlike shape, with sloping roof. It does not follow, however, even if this form is, with these writers, admitted for the tabernacle--a "tent"--that it is applicable, or likely, for a stone "house," and the measurements of the Temple, and mention of a "ceiling" (1Ki 6:15), point in the opposite direction. It must still be granted that, with the scanty data at command, all reconstructions of the Solomonte Temple leave much to be filled in from conjecture. Joseph Hammond has justly said: "It is certain that, were a true restoration of the Temple ever to be placed in our hands, we should find that it differed widely from all attempted `restorations’ of the edifice, based on the scanty and imperfect notices of our historian and Ezekiel" (Commentary on 1Ki 6, "Pulpit Commentary").

    4. Site of the Temple:

    The site of the Temple was on the eastern of the two hills on which Jerusalem was built--that known in Scripture as Mt. Moriah (2Ch 3:1) or Mt. Zion (the traditional view which locates Zion on the western hill, on the other side of the Tyropoeon, though defended by some, seems untenable; see "Zion," in HDB; "Jerusalem," in DB, etc.). The place is more precisely defined as that where Araunah (Ornan) had his threshing-floor, and David built his altar after the plague (1Ch 21:22; 2Ch 3:1). This spot, in turn, is now all but universally held to be marked by the sacred rock, es-Sakhra (within what is called the Haram area on the eastern summit; see Jerusalem), above which the "Dome of the Rock," or so-called "Mosque of Omar," now stands. Here, according to traditional belief, was reared the altar of burnt offering, and to the West of it was built the Temple. This location is indeed challenged by Fergusson, W. R. Smith, and others, who transfer the Temple-site to the southwestern angle of the Haram area, but the great majority of scholars take the above view. To prepare a suitable surface for the Temple and connected buildings (the area may have been some 600 ft. East to West, and 300 to 400 ft. North to South), the summit of the hill had to be leveled, and its lower parts heightened by immense substructures (Josephus, Ant, VIII iii, 9; XV, xi, 3; BJ, V, v, 1), the remains of which modern excavations have brought to light (compare Warren’s Underground Jerusalem; G. A. Smith’s Jerusalem, etc.).

    5. Phoenician Assistance:

    For aid in his undertaking, Solomon invited the cooperation of Hiram, king of Tyre, who willingly lent his assistance, as he had before helped David, granting Solomon permission to send his servants to cut down timber in Lebanon, aiding in transport, and in the quarrying and hewing of stones, and sending a skillful Tyrian artist, another Hiram, to superintend the designing and graving of objects made of the precious metals, etc. For this assistance Solomon made a suitable recompense (1Ki 5; 2Ch 2). Excavations seem to show that a large part of the limestone of which the temple was built came from quarries in the immediate neighborhood of Jerusalem (Warren, Underground Jerusalem, 60). The stones were cut, hewn and polished at the places whence they were taken, so that "there was neither hammer nor axe nor any tool of iron heard in the house, while it was in building" (1Ki 5:17,18; 6:7). Opinions differ as to the style of architecture of the building. It was probably unique, but Phoenician art also must have left its impress upon it.

    See Architecture.

    II. The Temple Building.

    1. In General:

    2. Dimensions, Divisions and Adornments:

    The Temple, like the tabernacle, stood facing East, environed by "courts" ("inner" and "greater"), which are dealt with below, Internally, the dimensions of the structure were, in length and width, double those of the tabernacle, namely, length 60 cubits, width 20 cubits. The height, however, was 30 cubits, thrice that of the tabernacle (1Ki 6:2; compare 6:18,20). The precise length of the cubit is uncertain (see Cubit); here, as in the article TABERNACLE, it is taken as approximately 18 inches. In internal measurement, therefore, the Temple was approximately 90 ft. long, 30 ft. broad, and 45 ft. high. This allows nothing for the thickness of the partition between the two chambers. For the external measurement, the thickness of the walls and the width of the surrounding chambers and their walls require to be added. It cannot positively be affirmed that the dimensions of the Temple, including the porch, coincided precisely with those of Ezekiel’s temple (compare Keil on 1Ki 6:9,10); still, the proportions must have closely approximated, and may have been in agreement.

    3. The Side-Chambers:

    The thickness of the Temple walls is not given, but the analogy of Ezekiel’s temple (Eze 41) and what is told of the side-chambers render it probable that the thickness was not less than 6 cubits (9 ft.). Around the Temple, on its two sides and at the back, were built chambers (tsela`oth, literally, "ribs"), the construction of which is summarily described. They were built in three stories, each story 5 cubits in height (allowance must also be made for flooring and roofing), the lowest being 5 cubits in breadth, the next 6 cubits, and the highest 7 cubits. This is explained by the fact that the chambers were not to be built into the wall of the Temple, but were to rest on ledges or rebatements in the wall, each rebate a cubit in breadth, so that the wall became thinner, and the chambers broader, by a cubit, each stage in the ascent. (1Ki 6:5-10). The door admitting into these chambers was apparently in the middle of the right side of the house, and winding stairs led up to the second and third stories (1Ki 6:8). It is not stated how many chambers there were; Josephus (Ant., VIII, iii, 2) gives the number as 30, which is the number in Ezekiel’s temple (Eze 41:6). The outer wall of the chambers, which in Ezekiel is 5 cubits thick (41:9), may have been the same here, though some make it less. It is a question whether the rebatements were in the Temple wall only, or were divided between it and the outer wall; the former seems the more probable opinion, as nothing is said of rebatements in the outer wall. Above the chambers on either side were "windows of fixed lattice-work" (41:4), i.e. openings which could not be closed ("windows broad within and narrow without"). The purposes for which the chambers were constructed are not mentioned. They may have been used partly for storage, partly for the accommodation of those engaged in the service of the Temple (compare 1Ch 9:27).

    4. The Porch and Pillars:

    See Jachin and Boaz.

    It was seen that the holy place (hekhal) was divided from the most holy (debhir) by a partition, probably of cedar wood, though some think of a stone wall, one or even two cubits thick. In this partition were folding doors, made of olive wood, with their lintels 4 cubits wide (1Ki 6:31; some interpret differently, and understand the upper part of the doorway to be a pentagon). The doors, like the walls, had carvings of cherubim, palm trees, and flowers, and the whole was gold-plated (1Ki 6:32). Behind the partition hung the sanctuary veil (2Ch 3:14). At the entrance of the Temple, similarly, were folding doors, with their lintels 5 cubits in width, only this time the posts only were of olive, while the doors, divided into two leaves, were of fir (or cypress) wood (1Ki 6:33-35). The carving and gold-plating were as on the inner doors, and all the doors had hinges of gold (1Ki 7:50).

    III. Courts, Gates and Royal Buildings.

    See Court of the Sanctuary.

    1. The Inner Court:

    The "inner court" (chatser ha-penimith) is repeatedly referred to (see above). Its dimensions are not given, but they may be presumed to be twice those of the tabernacle court, namely, 200 cubits (300 ft.) in length and 100 cubits (150 ft.) in breadth. The name in Jer 36:10, "the upper court," indicates that it was on a higher level than the "great court," and as the Temple was probably on a platform higher still, the whole would present a striking terraced aspect.

    (1) Walls:

    (2) Gates:

    Though gates are not mentioned in the narratives of the construction, later allusions show that there were several, though not all were of the time of Solomon. The principal entrance would, of course, be that toward the East (see East Gate). In Jer 26:10 there is allusion to "the entry of the new gate of Yahweh’s house." This doubtless was "the upper gate" built by Jotham (2Ki 15:35) and may reasonably be identified with the "gate that looketh toward the North" and the "gate of the altar" (i.e. through which the sacrifices were brought) in Eze 8:3,1, and with "the upper gate of Benjamin" in Jer 20:3. Mention is also made of a "gate of the guard" which descended to the king’s house (2Ki 11:19; see below). Jeremiah speaks of a "third entry that is in the house of Yahweh" (38:14), and of "three keepers of the threshold" (52:24), but it is not clear which court is intended.

    2. The Great Court:

    The outer or "great court" of the Temple (chatser ha-gedholah) opens up more difficult problems. Some regard this court as extending to the East in front of the "inner court"; others, as Keil, think of it as a great enclosure surrounding the "inner court" and stretching perhaps 150 cubits East of the latter (compare his Biblical Archaeology, I, 170-71). These writers remove the court from all connection with the royal buildings of 1Ki 7, and distinguish it from "the great court of 7:9,12." A quite different construction is that advocated by Stade and Benzinger, and adopted by most recent authorities (compare articles on "Temple" in HDB, IV, in EB, IV, in one-vol HDB, in DB (Dalman); G. A. Smith, Jerusalem, II, 59 ff, etc.). The great court, on this view, not only surrounds the Temple, with its (inner) court, but, extending to the South, encloses the whole complex of the royal buildings of 1Ki 7. This has the advantage of bringing together the references to the "great court" in 1Ki 7:9,12 and the other references to the outer court. The court, thus conceived, must have been very large. The extensive part occupied by the royal buildings being on a lower level than the "inner court," entrance to it is thought to have been by "the gate of the guard unto the king’s house" mentioned in 2Ki 11:19. Its wall, like that of the inner court, was built in three courses of hewn stone, and one course of cedar (1Ki 7:12). Its gates overlaid with brass (2Ch 4:9, i.e., "bronze") show that the masonry must have been both high and substantial. On the "other court" of 1Ki 7:8, see next paragraph.

    3. The Royal Buildings:

    The group of buildings which, on theory now stated, were enclosed by the southern part of the great court, are those described in 1Ki 7:1-12. They were of hewn stone and cedar wood (1Ki 7:9-11), and embraced:

    (1) The king’s house, or royal palace (1Ki 7:8), in close contiguity with the Temple-court (2Ki 11:19).

    (2) Behind this to the West, the house of Pharaoh’s daughter (2Ki 11:9)--the apartments of the women. Both of these were enclosed in a "court" of their own, styled in 2Ki 11:8 "the other court," and in 2Ki 20:4 margin "the middle court."

    (3) South of this stood the throne-room, and porch or hall of judgment, paneled in cedar" from floor to floor," i.e. from floor to ceiling (2Ki 11:7). The throne, we read later (1Ki 10:18-20), was of ivory, overlaid with gold, and on either side of the throne, as well as of the six steps that led up to it, were lions. The hall served as an audience chamber, and for the administration of justice.

    (4) Yet farther South stood the porch or hall of pillars, 50 cubits (75 ft.) long and 30 cubits (45 ft.) broad, with a sub-porch of its own (1Ki 10:6). It is best regarded as a place of promenade and vestibule to the hall of judgment.

    (5) Lastly, there was the imposing and elaborate building known as "the house of the forest of Lebanon" (1Ki 10:2-5), which appears to have received this name from its multitude of cedar pillars.

    The scanty hints as to its internal arrangements have baffled the ingenuity of the commentators. The house was 100 cubits (150 ft.) in length, 50 cubits (75 ft.) in breadth, and 30 cubits (45 ft.) in height. Going round the sides and back there were apparently four rows of pillars. The Septuagint has three rows), on which, supported by cedar beams, rested three tiers or stories of side-chambers (literally, "ribs," as in 1Ki 6:5; compare the Revised Version margin). In 1Ki 6:3 it is disputed whether the number "forty and five; fifteen in a row" (as the Hebrew may be read) refers to the pillars or to the chambers; if to the former, the Septuagint reading of "three rows" is preferable. The windows of the tiers faced each other on the opposite sides (1Ki 6:4,5). But the whole construction is obscure and doubtful. The spacious house was used partly as an armory; here Solomon put his 300 shields of beaten gold (1Ki 10:17).

    IV. Furniture of the Temple.

    1. The Sanctuary:

    We treat here, first, of the sanctuary in its two divisions, then of the (inner) court.

    (1) The "Debhir".

    In the most holy place, or debhir, of the sanctuary stood, as before, the old Mosaic ark of the covenant, with its two golden cherubim above the mercy-seat (see Ark of the Covenant; Tabernacle). Now, however, the symbolic element was increased by the ark being placed between two other figures of cherubim, made of olive wood, overlaid with gold, 10 cubits (15 ft.) high, their wings, each 5 cubits (7 1/2 ft.) long, outstretched so that they reached from wall to wall of the oracle (20 cubits), the inner wings meeting in the center (1Ki 6:23-28; 2Ch 3:10-13).

    See Cherubim.

    (2) The "Hekhal".

    In the holy place, or hekhal, the changes were greater. (a) Before the oracle, mentioned as belonging to it (1Ki 6:22), stood the altar of incense, covered with cedar, and overlaid with gold (1Ki 6:20-22; 7:48; 2Ch 4:19; see Altar of Incense). It is an arbitrary procedure of criticism to attempt to identify this altar with the table of shewbread. (b) Instead of one golden candlestick, as in the tabernacle, there were now 10, 5 placed on one side and 5 on the other, in front of the oracle. All, with their utensils, were of pure gold (1Ki 7:49; 2Ch 4:7). (c) Likewise, for one table of shewbread, there were now 10, 5 on one side, 5 on the other, also with their utensils made of gold (1Ki 7:48, where, however, only one table is mentioned; 2Ch 4:8, "100 basins of gold"). As these objects, only enlarged in number and dimensions, are fashioned after the model of those of the tabernacle, further particulars regarding them are not given here.

    2. The Court (Inner):

    (1) The Altar.

    The most prominent object in the Temple-court was the altar of burnt offering, or brazen altar (see BRAZEN ALTAR). The site of the altar, as already seen, was the rock es Sakhra], where Araunah had his threshing-floor. The notion of some moderns that the rock itself was the altar, and that the brazen (bronze) altar was introduced later, is devoid of plausibility. An altar is always something reared or built (compare 2Sa 24:18,25). The dimensions of the altar, which are not mentioned in 1 K, are given in 2Ch 4:1 as 20 cubits (30 ft.) long, 20 cubits (30 ft.) broad, and 10 cubits (15 ft.) high. As utensils connected with it--an incidental confirmation of its historicity--are pots, shovels, basins and fleshhooks (1Ki 7:40,45; 2Ch 4:11,16). It will be observed that the assumed halving proportions of the tabernacle are here quite departed from (compare Ex 27:1).

    (2) The Molten (Bronze) Sea.

    A new feature in the sanctuary court--taking the place of the "laver" in the tabernacle--was the "molten sea," the name being given to it for its great size. It was an immense basin of bronze, 5 cubits (7 1/2 ft.) high, 10 cubits (15 ft.) in diameter at the brim, and 30 cubits (45 ft.) in circumference, resting on 12 bronze oxen, and placed between the altar and the Temple-porch, toward the South (1Ki 7:23-26,39; 2Ch 4:2-5,10). The bronze was a handbreadth in thickness. The brim was shaped like the flower of a lily, and encompassing the basin were ornamental knops. Its capacity is given as 2,000 baths (1Ki 7:26; by error in 2Ch 4:5, 3,000 baths). The oxen on which it rested faced the four cardinal points--three looking each way. The "sea," like the laver, doubtless supplied the water for the washing of the priests’ hands and feet (compare Ex 30:18; 38:8). The view of certain scholars (Kosters, Gunkel, etc.) that the "sea" is connected with Babylonian mythical ideas of the great deep is quite fanciful; no hint appears of such significance in any part of the narrative. The same applies to the lavers in the next paragraph.

    (3) The Lavers and Their Bases.

    The tabernacle laver had its place taken by the "sea" just described, but the Temple was also provided with 10 lavers or basins, set on "bases" of elaborate design and moving upon wheels--the whole made of bronze (1Ki 7:27-37). Their use seems to have been for the washing of sacrifices (2Ch 4:6), for which purpose they were placed, 5 on the north side, and 5 on the south side, of the Temple-court. The bases were 4 cubits (6 ft.) long, 4 cubits broad, and 3 cubits (4 1/2 ft.) high. These bases were of the nature of square paneled boxes, their sides being ornamented with figures of lions, oxen and cherubim, with wreathed work beneath. They had four feet, to which wheels were attached. The basin rested on a rounded pedestal, a cubit high, with an opening 1 1/2 cubits in diameter to receive the laver (1Ki 7:31). Mythological ideas, as just said, are here out of place.

    V. History of the Temple.

    1. Building and Dedication:

    2. Repeated Plunderings, etc.:

    3. Attempts at Reform:

    An earnest attempt at reform of religion was made by Hezekiah (2Ki 18:1-6; 2Ch 29:31), but even he was driven to take all the gold and silver in the Temple and king’s house to meet the tribute imposed on him by Sennacherib, stripping from the doors and pillars the gold with which he himself had overlaid them (2Ki 18:14-16; 2Ch 32:31). Things became worse than ever under Manasseh, who reared idolatrous altars in the Temple-courts, made an Asherah, introduced the worship of the host of heaven, had horses dedicated to the sun in the Temple-court, and connived at the worst pollutions of heathenism in the sanctuary (2Ki 21:3-7; 23:7,11). Then came the more energetic reforms of the reign of Josiah, when, during the repairs of the Temple, the discovery was made of the Book of the Law, which led to a new covenant with Yahweh, a suppression of the high places, and the thorough cleansing-out of abuses from the Temple (2Ki 22; 23:1-25; 2Ch 34; 35). Still, the heart of the people was not changed, and, as seen in the history, and in the pages of the Prophets, after Josiah’s death, the old evils were soon back in full force (compare e.g. Eze 8:7-18).

    4. Final Overthrow:

    The end, however, was now at hand. Nebuchadnezzar made Jehoiakim his tributary; then, on his rebelling, came, in the reign of Jehoiachin, took Jerusalem, carried off the treasures of the Temple and palace, with the gold of the Temple vessels (part had already been taken on his first approach, 2Ch 36:7), and led into captivity the king, his household and the chief part of the population (2Ki 24:1-17). Eleven years later (586 BC), after a siege of 18 months, consequent on Zedekiah’s rebellion (2Ki 25:1), the Babylonian army completed the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple. Only a few lesser utensils of value, and the brazen (bronze) pillars, bases and sea remained; these were now taken away, the larger objects being broken up (2Ki 25:13-16). The Temple itself, with its connected buildings, and the houses in Jerusalem generally, were set on fire (2Ki 25:9). The ark doubtless perished in the conflagration, and is no more heard of. The residue of the population--all but the poorest--were carried away captive (2Ki 25:11,12; see Captivity). Thus ended the first Temple, after about 400 years of chequered existence.