Temple, A1

See also Temple

(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; nodetitle). 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.