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1 Kings v., vi., vii.

"And his next son, for wealth and wisdom famed,

The clouded Ark of God, till then in tents

Wandering, shall in a glorious temple enshrine."

Paradise Lost, xii. 340.

After the destructive battle of Aphek, in which the Philistines had defeated Israel, slain the two sons of Eli, and taken captive the Ark of God, they had inflicted a terrible vengeance on the old sanctuary at Shiloh. They had burnt the young men in the fire, and slain the priests with the sword, and no widows were left to make lamentation.233233   Psalm lxxviii. 58-64. It is true that, terrified by portents and diseases, the Philistines after a time restored the Ark, and the Tabernacle of the wilderness with its brazen altar still gave sacredness to the great high place at Gibeon, to which apparently it had been removed.234234   According to 2 Chron. i. 3. Nevertheless, the old worship seems to have languished till it received a new and powerful impulse from the religious earnestness of David. He had the mind of a patriot-statesman as well as of a soldier, and he felt that a nation is nothing without its sacred memories. Those memories clustered round the now-discredited Ark. Its capture, and its parade150 as a trophy of victory in the shrine of Dagon, had robbed it of all its superstitious prestige as a fetish; but, degraded as it had been, it still continued to be the one inestimably precious historic relic which enshrined the memories of the deliverance of Israel from Egypt, and the dawn of its heroic age.

As soon as David had given to his people the boon of a unique capital, nothing could be more natural than the wish to add sacredness to the glory of the capital by making it the centre of the national worship. According to the Chronicles, David—feeling it a reproach that he himself should dwell in palaces ceiled with cedar and painted with vermilion while the Ark of God dwelt between curtains—had made unheard-of preparations to build a house for God. But it had been decreed unfit that the sanctuary should be built by a man whose hands were red with the blood of many wars, and he had received the promise that the great work should be accomplished by his son.235235   David's suggestion does not seem to have been received favourably at first (2 Sam. vii. 1-17). The chronicler (1 Chron. xxviii. 19) indulges in the amazing hyperbole that David had been made to understand all the works of the pattern of the Temple "in writing from the hand of the Lord."

Into that work Solomon threw himself with hearty zeal in the month Zif236236   The ancient Israelites named their months from the seasons, as did the Canaanites. Only four of those old names are preserved in the Bible: Zif, "brightness" (comp. Floreal, Lenz); Bul, "rain-month" (Pluviose); Abib, "corn-ear month"; Ethanim, "fruit-month" (Fructidor). of the fourth year of his reign, when his kingdom was consolidated.237237   In 1 Kings vi. 1 we read "in the 480th year after the children of Israel were come out of the land of Egypt." This may possibly be a later gloss. The LXX., Origen, Josephus, etc., omit the words, and the Old Testament does not, as a rule, date events by epochs. Further, the date is full of difficulties, though our received chronology is based on it. It was perhaps arrived at after the Exile, by counting backwards from the Decree of Cyrus, b.c. 535. See note at the end of the volume. It commanded151 all his sympathies as an artist, a lover of magnificence, and a ruler bent on the work of centralisation. It was a task to which he was bound by the solemn exhortation of his father, and he felt, doubtless, its political as well as its religious importance. With his sincere desire to build to God's glory was mingled a prophetic conviction that his task would be fraught with immense issues for the future of his people and of all the world. The presence of the Temple left its impress on the very name of Jerusalem. Although it has nothing to do with the Temple or with Solomon, it became known to the heathen world as Hierosolyma, which, as we see from Eupolemos (Euseb., Præp. Evang., ix. 34), the Gentile world supposed to mean "the Temple (Hieron) of Solomon."

The materials already provided were of priceless value. David had consecrated to God the spoils which he had won from conquered kings. We must reject, as the exaggerations of national vanity, the monstrous numbers which now stand in the text of the chronicler; but a king whose court was simple and inexpensive was quite able to amass treasures of gold and silver, brass and iron, precious marbles and onyx stones. Solomon had only to add to these sacred stores.238238   1 Chron. xxii. 14 says that David (comp. xxviii., xxix.) "with much labour" (A.V., "in my trouble," 1 Chron. xxii. 14) bequeathed to Solomon 100,000 talents of gold and 100,000 talents of silver! This impossible number is very considerably reduced in 1 Chron. xxix. 4, where the mention of darics shows an author living in the captivity.

He inherited the friendship which David had enjoyed,152 with Hiram, King of Tyre, who, according to the strange phrase of the Vatican Septuagint, sent his servants "to anoint" Solomon. The friendliest overtures passed between the two kings in letters, to which Josephus appeals as still extant. A commercial treaty was made by which Solomon engaged to furnish the Tyrian king with annual revenues of wheat, barley, and oil,239239   Comp. Ezek. xxvii. 17; Acts xii. 20. and Hiram put at Solomon's disposal the skilled labour of an army of Sidonian wood-cutters and artisans.240240   According to Tatian, Orat. ad Græc., p. 171, Solomon married a daughter of Hiram. Hiram, like the Queen of Sheba, acknowledges Jehovah as the (local) God of Israel. He was the son of Abibaal, and, according to Menander (a Greek historian of Ephesus about b.c. 300, who consulted Tyrian records), he began to reign at nineteen, and reigned thirty-four years. Josephus thinks that there were two successive Hirams. The huge trunks of cedar and cypress were sent rushing down the heights of Lebanon by schlittage, and laboriously dragged by road or river to the shore. There they were constructed into immense rafts, which were floated a hundred miles along the coast to Joppa, where they were again dragged with enormous toil for thirty-five miles up the steep and rocky roads to Jerusalem. For more than twenty years, while Solomon was building the Temple and his various royal constructions, Jerusalem became a hive of ceaseless and varied industry. Its ordinary inhabitants must have been swelled by an army of Canaanite serfs and Phœnician artisans to whom residences were assigned in Ophel. There lived the hewers and bevellers of stone; the cedar-cutters of Gebal or Biblos;241241   Giblim, 1 Kings v. 18, where "and the stone-squarers" should be "and especially the men of Gebal." LXX., Alex., οἱ Βίβλιοι; Vulg., Giblii, Comp. Ezek. xxvii. 9, Psalm lxxxiii. 7, "The ancients of Gebal and the wise thereof were in thee." It is now Jebeil, between Beyrout and Tripoli. The Phœnician and Sidonian artisans were famous from the earliest antiquity for metal-work, embroidery, dyes, ship-building, and the fine arts (Hom., Il., xxiii. 743; Od., iv. 614-18, xv. 425; Herod., iii. 19, vii. 23, 96, etc.). the cunning workmen153 in gold or brass; the bronze-casters who made their moulds in the clay ground of the Jordan valley; the carvers and engravers; the dyers who stained wool with the purple of the murex, and the scarlet dye of the trumpet fish; the weavers and embroiderers of fine linen. Every class of labourer was put into requisition, from the descendants of the Gibeonite Nethinim, who were rough hewers of wood and drawers of water, to the trained artificers whose beautiful productions were the wonder of the world. The "father," or master-workman, of the whole community was a half-caste, who also bore the name of Hiram, and was the son of a woman of Naphtali by a Tyrian father.242242   2 Chron. ii. 13, iv. 16, where "a cunning man of Huram my father's" should be "even Huram, my father," i.e., master-workman or deviser (comp. Gen. xlv. 8). In Chronicles he is called the son of a Danite mother. Here we have another of the manipulations used by later Jewish tradition to get rid of what they disliked; for in Eupolemos (Euseb., Præp. Evang., ix. 34) Hiram is said to belong to the family of David. "Quite a little romance," as Wellhausen says, "has been constructed out of the fact that the chronicler assigns his mother to the tribe of Dan; but it is not worth repeating, being a mass of hypotheses." To the dislike of Sidonian and semi-Sidonian influence, we perhaps owe the notion that David had already received a design from the hand of God Himself (1 Chron. xxviii. 11-19) (Ewald, iii. 227). Jerome mentions the Jewish fable that the artist Hiram was of the family of Aholiab, the artist of the wilderness.

Some writers have tried to minimise Solomon's work as a builder, and have spoken of the Temple as an exceedingly insignificant structure which would not stand a moment's comparison with the smallest and humblest of our own cathedrals. Insignificant in size it certainly was, but we must not forget its costly154 splendour, the remote age in which the work was achieved, and the truly stupendous constructions which the design required. Mount Moriah was selected as a site hallowed by the tradition of Abraham's sacrifice, and more recently by David's vision of the Angel of the Pestilence with his drawn sword on the threshing-floor of the Jebusite Prince Araunah.243243   "Araunah the king" (2 Sam. xxiv. 23). The Temple Mount was usually called the "Mount of the House." It is only called Mount Moriah in 2 Chron. iii. 1. It cannot be regarded as certain that "the land of Moriah" (Gen. xxii. 2) is identical with it. But to utilise this doubly consecrated area involved almost superhuman difficulties, which would have been avoided if the loftier but less suitable height of the Mount of Olives could have been chosen. The rugged summit had to be enlarged to a space of five hundred yards square, and this level was supported by Cyclopean walls, which have long been the wonder of the world.244244   "The present platform is 1521 feet long on the east, 940 on the south, 1617 on the west, 1020 on the north." Bartlett, Walks about Jerusalem, pp. 161-70; Williams, The Holy City, pp. 315-62. Kugle, Gesch. der Baukunst, p. 125. The excellent stone was supplied by quarries at Jerusalem itself. Comp. "Cavati sub terra montes." (Tac., Hist., v. 12). It may have been extended by Justinian when he built his church. See Ewald, iii. 232, "The Mount of the Temple was 500 yards square"; Middoth, c. 2. Comp. Ezek. xiii. 15-20, xlv. 2; Josephus, Antt., XV. xi. 3. The magnificent wall on the east side, known as "the Jews' wailing-place," is doubtless the work of Solomon, and after outlasting "the drums and tramplings of a hundred triumphs," it remains to this day in uninjured massiveness. One of the finely bevelled stones is 38½ feet long and 7 feet high, and weighs more than 100 tons. These vast stones were hewn from a quarry above the level of the wall, and lowered by rollers down an inclined plane. Part of the old wall rises 30 feet155 above the present level of the soil, but a far larger part of the height lies hidden 80 feet under the accumulated débris of the often captured city. At the south-west angle, by Robinson's arch, three pavements were discovered, one beneath the other, showing the gradual filling up of the valley; and on the lowest of these were found the broken voussoirs of the arch. In Solomon's day the whole of this mighty wall was visible. On one of the lowest stones have been discovered the Phœnician paint-marks which indicated where each of the huge masses, so carefully dressed, edge-drafted, and bevelled, was to be placed in the structure. The caverns, quarries, water storages, and subterranean conduits hewn out of the solid rock, over which Jerusalem is built, could only have been constructed at the cost of immeasurable toil. They would be wonderful even with our infinitely more rapid methods and more powerful agencies; but when we remember that they were made three thousand years ago we do not wonder that their massiveness has haunted the imagination of so many myriads of visitors from every nation.

It was perhaps from his Egyptian father-in-law that Solomon, to his own cost, learnt the secret of forced labour which alone rendered such undertakings possible. In their Egyptian bondage the forefathers of Israel had been fatally familiar with the ugly word Mas, the labour wrung from them by hard task-masters.245245   Exod. i., ii. In the reign of Solomon it once more became only too common on the lips of the burdened people.246246   1 Kings iv. 6, v. 13, 14, 17, 18, ix. 15, 21, xii. 18.

Four classes were subject to it.

1. The lightest labour was required from the native freeborn Israelites (ezrach). They were not regarded156 as bondsmen (עֲבָדִים), yet 30,000 of these were required in relays of 10,000 to work, one month in every three, in the forest of Lebanon.247247   Ewald thinks that it was only "at the beginning" that Solomon, like Sesostris (Diod. Sic., Hist., i. 56), could boast that his work was done without exacting bitter labour from his own countrymen. But 1 Kings ix. 22 shows that the king's opinion on this subject differed widely from that of his people (1 Kings xi. 28, xii. 3); for we are told that he did not make servants of the children of Israel, but used them as military officers (Sarim) and chariot-warriors (Shalishim, τριστάται) and knights. It required a little euphemism to gild the real state of affairs. The details of numbers in the Books of Chronicles differ from those in the Kings.

2. There were the strangers, or resident aliens (Gerim), such as the Phœnicians and Giblites, who were Hiram's subjects and worked for pay.

3. There were three classes of slaves—those taken in war, or sold for debt, or home-born.

4. Lowest and most wretched of all, there were the vassal Canaanites (Toshabim), from whom were drawn those 70,000 burden-bearers, and 80,000 quarry-men, the Helots of Palestine, who were placed under the charge of 3600 Israelite officers. The blotches of smoke are still visible on the walls and roofs of the subterranean quarries where these poor serfs, in the dim torchlight and suffocating air, "laboured without reward, perished without pity, and suffered without redress." The sad narrative reveals to us, and modern research confirms, that the purple of Solomon had a very seamy side, and that an abyss of misery heaved and moaned under the glittering surface of his splendour.248248   1 Kings v. 13, ix. 22; 2 Chron. viii. 9. (Omitted in the LXX.) Jerusalem during the twenty years occupied by his building must have presented the disastrous spectacle of task-masters, armed with rods and scourges,157 enforcing the toil of gangs of slaves, as we see them represented on the tombs of Egypt and the palaces of Assyria. The sequel shows the jealousies and discontents even of the native Israelites, who felt themselves to be "scourged with whips and laden with heavy burdens." They were bondmen in all but name, for purposes which bore very little on their own welfare. But the curses of the wretched aborigines must have been deeper, if not so loud. They were torn from such homes as the despotism of conquest still left to them, and were forced to hopeless and unrewarded toil for the alien worship and hateful palaces of their masters. Five centuries later we find a pitiable trace of their existence in the 392 Hierodouloi, menials lower even than the enslaved Nethinim, who are called "sons of the slaves of Solomon"—the dwindling and miserable remnant of that vast levy of Palestinian serfs.

Apart from the lavish costliness of its materials the actual Temple was architecturally a poor and commonplace structure. It was quite small—only 90 feet long, 35 feet broad, and 45 feet high. It was meant for the symbolic habitation of God, not for the worship of great congregations. It only represented the nascent art and limited resources of a tenth-rate kingdom, and was totally devoid alike of the pure and stately beauty of the Parthenon and the awe-inspiring grandeur of the great Egyptian temples with their avenues of obelisks and sphinxes and their colossal statues of deities and kings

"Staring right on with calm, eternal eyes."

When Justinian boastfully exclaimed, as he looked at his church, "I have vanquished thee, O Solomon,"249249   In token of this defeat of Solomon he was represented in a statue outside the church leaning his hand on his cheek with a gesture of sorrow. and158 when the Khalif Omar, pointing to the Dome of the Rock, murmured, "Behold, a greater than Solomon is here," they forgot the vast differences between them and the Jewish king in the epoch at which they lived and the resources which they could command. The Temple was built in "majestic silence."

"No workman's axe, no ponderous hammer rung,

Like some tall palm the noiseless fabric sprung."

This was due to religious reverence. It could be easily accomplished, because each stone and beam was carefully prepared to be fitted in its exact place before it was carried up the Temple hill.

The elaborate particulars furnished us of the measurements of Solomon's Temple are too late in age, too divergent in particulars, too loosely strung together, too much mingled with later reminiscences, and altogether too architecturally insufficient, to enable us to re-construct the exact building, or even to form more than a vague conception of its external appearance. Both in Kings and Chronicles the notices, as Keil says, are "incomplete extracts made independently of one another," and vague in essential details. Critics and architects have attempted to reproduce the Temple on Greek,250250   Professor Williams, Prolus. Architectonicæ. Egyptian,251251   Professor Hoskins (Enc. Brit.); Canina, Jewish Antiquities; Thrupp, Ancient Jerusalem; Count de Vogüé, Le Temple de Jérusalem. and Phœnician252252   Fergusson, Temples of the Jews; E. Robbins, Temple of Solomon. models, so entirely unlike each other as to show that we can arrive at no certainty.253253   Eupolemos (Euseb., Præp. Evang., ix. 30) and Alex. Polyhistor (Clem. Alex., Strom., i. 21) idly talk of help furnished to Solomon in building the Temple by an Egyptian King Vaphres, and of letters interchanged between them. Vaphres seems to be a mere anachronism for Hophra. It is, however, most probable that, alike159 in ornamentation and conception, the building was predominantly Phœnician.254254   The Phœnician style may, however, have been borrowed in part from Egypt. Severe in outline, gorgeous in detail, it was more like the Temple of Venus-Astarte at Paphos than any other. Fortunately the details, apart from such dim symbolism as we may detect in them, have no religious importance, but only an historic and antiquarian interest.255255   I have spoken of the Temple in Solomon and his Times (Men of the Bible), and have there furnished some illustrations. The following special authorities may be referred to. Stade, i. 311-57, Friederich, Tempel und Palast Salomo's (Innsbruck, 1887); Chipiez et Perrot, Le Temple de Jérusalem (Paris, 1889); Warren, Underground Jerusalem; Wilson and Warren, Recov. of Jerusalem (1871).

The Temple—called Baith (בַּית) or Hêkâl (הֵיכָל)—was surrounded by the thickly clustered houses of the Levites, and by porticoes256256   Parbarim (2 Kings xxiii. 11). Comp. 1 Chron. xxvi. 18 (A.V., "suburbs"; R.V., "precincts" and "Parbar"). Descriptions of the Temple, imperfect, and not always accordant with each other, are found in 1 Kings v.-vii.; 2 Chron. ii.-v.; Josephus, Antt., VIII. iii. 7, 8. through which the precincts were entered by numerous gates of wood overlaid with brass. A grove of olives, palms, cedars, and cypresses, the home of many birds, probably adorned the outer court.257257   As we infer from Psalms lii. 8, lxxxiv. 3, lxxvi. 2 (where "tabernacle" should be "covert"). Eupolemos (ap. Euseb., Præp. Evang., etc.). Scattered passages of the Talmud which refer mainly to Herod's Temple are full of extravagances. This court was shut from the "higher court,"258258   Jer. xxxvi. 10. afterwards known as "the Court of the Priests," by a partition of three rows of hewn stones surmounted by a cornice of cedar beams. In the higher court, which was reached by a flight of steps, was the vast new altar of brass, 15 feet high and 30 feet long, of which the hollow was filled with earth and stones, and of160 which the blazing sacrifices were visible in the court below.259259   2 Chron. iv. 1. This could not have been the brazen altar of the wilderness, the fate of which we do not know. It was far larger, but probably on the same model, except that steps were forbidden as an approach to the altar of the Tabernacle (Exod. xx. 24-26). It is difficult to reconcile the description of the brazen altar with the distinct prohibition of that passage. Comp. Ezek. xliii. 17. Here also stood the huge molten sea, borne on the backs of twelve brazen oxen, of which three faced to each quarter of the heavens.260260   The huge stone vase of Amathus was borne on a bull (Duncker, ii. 184). Josephus says that in making these oxen Solomon broke the law (Antt., VIII. vii. 5), as well as by the lions on his throne. The Romans called huge vases lacus. It was in the form of a lotus blossom, and its rim was hung with three hundred wild gourds in bronze, cast in two rows. Its reservoir of eight hundred and eighty gallons of water was for the priestly ablutions necessary in the butcheries of sacrifice, and its usefulness was supplemented by ten brazen caldrons on wheels, five on each side, adorned like "the sea," with pensile garlands and cherubic emblems.261261   The descriptions of these lavers, whether in the Hebrew, the LXX., or Josephus, are not intelligible, and are wholly unimportant. Whether "the brazen serpent of the wilderness," to which the children of Israel burnt incense down to the days of Hezekiah, was in that court or in the Temple we do not know.

On the western side of this court, facing the rising sun, stood the Temple itself, on a platform elevated some sixteen feet from the ground. Its side chambers were "lean-to" annexes (Heb., ribs; LXX., μέλαθρα; Vulg., tabulata), in three stories, all accessible by one central entrance on the outside. Their beams rested on rebatements in the thickness of the wall, and the highest was the broadest. Above these were windows "skewed and closed," as the margin of the A.V.161 says; or "broad within and narrow without"; or, as it should rather be rendered, "with closed crossbeams," that is, with immovable lattices, which could not be opened and shut, but which allowed the escape of the smoke of lamps and the fumes of incense. These chambers must also have had windows. They were used to store the garments of the priests and other necessary paraphernalia of the Temple service, but as to all details we are left completely in the dark.

Of the external aspect of the building in Solomon's day we know nothing. We cannot even tell whether it had one level roof, or whether the Holy of Holies was like a lower chancel at the end of it; nor whether the roof was flat or, as the Rabbis say, ridged; nor whether the outer surface of the three-storeyed chambers which surrounded it was of stone, or planked with cedar, or overlaid with plinths of gold and silver;262262   Like the palace of Ecbatana (Polyb., x. 27, 10; Herod., i. 98), and possibly the upper stories of the great temple of Bel at Birs-Nimrud (Borsippa). nor whether, in any case, it was ornamented with carvings or left blank; nor whether the cornices only were decorated with open flowers like the Assyrian rosettes. Nor do we know with certainty whether it was supported within by pillars263263   In 1 Kings x. 12 "pillars" should be "a rail" or "balustrade." Heb., מִסְעָד; LXX., ὑποστηρίγματα; Vulg., fulcra. or not. In the state of the records as they have come down to us, all accurate or intelligible descriptions are slurred over by compilers who had no technical knowledge and whose main desire was to impress their countrymen with the truth that the holy building was—as indeed for its day it was—"exceeding magnifical of fame and of glory throughout all countries."


In front of or just within the porch were two superb pillars, regarded as miracles of Tyrian art, made of fluted bronze, 27 feet high and 18 feet thick. Their capitals of 7½ feet in height resembled an open lotos blossom, surrounded by double wreaths of two hundred pensile bronze pomegranates, supporting an abacus, carved with conventional lily work. Both pomegranates and lilies had a symbolic meaning.264264   Lilies symbolised beauty and innocence; pomegranates good works (so the Chaldee in Cant. iv. 13, vi. 11, Bähr, Symbol., ii. 122). Raphael crowns his Theology with pomegranates, Giotto places a pomegranate in the hand of his youthful Dante, and Giovanni Bellini in the hand of the Virgin Mary. The pillars were, for unknown reasons, called Jachin and Boaz.265265   Some suppose that the words imply "He will establish" (Jachin) "in strength" (Boaz). "After some favourite persons of the time, perhaps young sons of Solomon," says Ewald, very improbably. LXX. (2 Chron. iii. 17), Κατόρθωσις and Ἰσχύς. See a description of these pillars in Jer. lii. 21-23. Much about them is obscure. It is not even known whether they stood detached like obelisks, or formed Propylæa; or supported the architraves of the porch itself, or were a sort of gateway, surmounted by a melathron with two epithemas, like a Japanese or Indian toran.

The porch (Olam), which was of the same height as the house (i.e., 45 feet high),266266   Some writers have supplied the Temple with a porch 180 feet high, misled by the astounding method of the chronicler of adding the four sides into the total. Thus, he tells us that the wings of the cherubim were 30 feet long, meaning that each single wing was 7½ feet long (2 Chron. iii. 11). Josephus does the same in telling us the height of the Temple wall. was hung with the gilded shields of Hadadezer's soldiers which David had taken in battle,267267   The ground plans of most ancient temples were alike. and perhaps also with consecrated armour, like the sword of Goliath,268268   2 Sam. viii. 7; 1 Chron. xviii. 7. to show that "unto the Lord163 belongeth our shield" (Psalm lxxxix. 18), and that "the shields of the earth belong unto God" (Psalm xlvii. 9).

A door of cypress wood, of two leaves, made in four squares, 7½ feet broad and high, turning on golden hinges overlaid with gold, and carved with palm branches and festoons of lilies and pomegranates, opened from the porch into the main apartment. This was the Mikdash (מִקְדָּשׁ), Holy Place, or Sanctuary, and sometimes specially called in Chaldee "the Palace" (Hêkâl, or Bîrah) (Ezra v, 14, 15, etc.). Before it, as in the Tabernacle, hung an embroidered curtain (Māsak). It was probably supported by four pillars on each side. In the interspaces were five tables on each side, overlaid with gold, and each encircled by a wreath of gold (zêr). On these were placed the cakes of shewbread.269269   So 2 Chron. iv. 8. But it would seem from 1 Kings vii. 48; 2 Chron. xiii. 11, xxix. 18 that only one table and one candlestick were ordinarily used. At the end of the chamber, on each side the door of the Holiest, were five golden candlesticks with chains of wreathed gold hanging between them. In the centre of the room stood the golden altar of incense, and somewhere (we must suppose) the golden candlestick of the Tabernacle, with its seven branches ornamented with lilies, pomegranates, and calices of almond flowers. Nothing which was in the darkness of the Holiest was visible except the projecting golden staves with which the Ark had been carried to its place. The Holy Place itself was lighted by narrow slits.

The entrance to the Holiest, the Debir, or oracle,164270270   St. Jerome rendered debir by oraculum, but some derive it from the Arabic root dabar, "to be behind," not from דָבָר, "to speak" (Munk, p. 290). which corresponded to the Greek adytum, was through a two-leaved door of olive wood, 6 feet high and broad, overlaid with gold, and carved with palms, cherubim, and open flowers. The partition was of cedar wood. The floor of the whole house was of cedar overlaid with gold. The interior of this "Oracle," as it was called—for the title "Holy of Holies" is of later origin—was, at any rate in the later Temples, concealed by an embroidered veil of blue, purple, and crimson, looped up with golden chains.

The Oracle, like the New Jerusalem of the Apocalypse, was a perfect cube, 30 feet broad and long and high, covered with gold, but shrouded in perpetual and unbroken darkness.271271   In Zerubbabel's and Herod's Temples there was a curtain (Parocheth) before the Holiest; but we read of no such curtain in Solomon's, except in 2 Chron. iii. 14. The fact that the staves of the Ark were visible seems to show that there was not one. The chronicler speaks of "the vail" (2 Chron. iii. 14), showing, apparently, that there was only one; and does not mention the Māsak, which hung between the Porch and the Holy Place. Except in 2 Chron. iii. 14, the only mention of either is in the "Priestly Code." Since the Oracle had a door, one hardly sees why there should also have been a curtain. But the whole subject is obscure, and perhaps the chronicler is sometimes thinking of the second Temple. No light was ever visible in it save such as was shed by the crimson gleam of the thurible of incense which the high priest carried into it once a year on the Great Day of Atonement.272272   We read nothing, however, of any observance of the Day of Atonement till centuries later. In the centre of the floor must apparently have risen the mass of rock which is still visible in the Mosque of Omar, from which it is called Al Sakhra, "the Dome of the Rock." Tradition pointed to it as the spot on which Abraham had laid for sacrifice the body of his son Isaac, when the angel restrained the descending knife.165 It was also the site of Araunah's threshing-floor, and had been therefore hallowed by two angelic apparitions.273273   2 Sam. xxiv. 25 (LXX.); 1 Chron. xxii. 1; 2 Chron. iii. 1; Josephus, Antt., I. xiii. 1, VII. xiii. 4; Targum of Onkelos on Gen. xii. On it was deposited with solemn ceremony the awful palladium of the Ark, which had been preserved through the wanderings and wars of the Exodus and the troublous days of the Judges.274274   "The Ark of the Lord," or "of the Testimony," or "of the Covenant," was an oblong chest of acacia wood, overlaid with gold, surmounted by a border of gold, and resting on four feet, to which (A.V. corners) were attached golden rings. It contained the most sacred possession of the nation, the most priceless treasure which Israel guarded for the world. This treasure was the Two Tables of the Ten Commandments, graven (in the anthropomorphic language of the ancient record) by the actual finger of God; the tables which Moses had shattered on the rocks of Mount Sinai as he descended to the backsliding people.275275   1 Kings viii. 9. The pot of manna and the budded rod of Aaron were placed before it (Exod. xvi. 34; Numb. xvii. 10), and the Book of the Law beside it (Deut. xxxi. 26). The Mercy-seat above was more sacred than the Ark itself (Lev. xvi. 2). It was the cover (Kapporeth, ἐπίθεμα) of the Ark, and was partly formed of two winged cherubim which gazed down upon it and faced each other. The Ark was covered with its old "Propitiatory," or "Mercy-seat," overshadowed by the wings of two small cherubim; but Solomon had prepared for its reception a new and far more magnificent covering, in the form of two colossal cherubim, 15 feet high, of which each expanded wing was 7½ feet long. These wings touched the outer walls of the Oracle, and also touched each other over the centre of the Ark.

Such was the Temple.

It was the "forum, fortress, university, and sanctuary"166 of the Jews, and the transitory emblem of the Church of Christ's kingdom. It was destined to occupy a large share in the memory, and even in the religious development, of the world, because it became the central point round which crystallised the entire history of the Chosen People. The kings of Judah are henceforth estimated with almost exclusive reference to the relation in which they stood to the centralised worship of Jehovah. The Spanish kings who built and decorated the Escurial caught the spirit of Jewish annals when, in the Court of the Kings, they reared the six colossal statues of David the originator, of Solomon the founder, of Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah, Josiah, and Manasseh the restorers or purifiers of the Temple worship.276276   Stanley, ii. 203.

It required the toil of 300,000 men for twenty years to build one of the pyramids. It took two hundred years to build and four hundred to embellish the great Temple of Artemis of the Ephesians. It took more than five centuries to give to Westminster Abbey its present form. Solomon's Temple only took seven and a half years to build; but, as we shall see, its objects were wholly different from those of the great shrines which we have mentioned. The wealth lavished upon it was such that its dishes, bowls, cups, even its snuffers and snuffer trays, and its meanest utensils, were of pure gold. The massiveness of its substructions, the splendour of its materials, the artistic skill displayed by the Tyrian workmen in all its details and adornments, added to the awful sense of its indwelling Deity, gave it an imperishable fame. Needing but little repair, it stood for more than four centuries. Succeeded as it was by the Temples of167 Zerubbabel and of Herod, it carried down till seventy years after the Christian era the memory of the Tabernacle in the wilderness, of which it preserved the general outline, though it exactly doubled all the proportions and admitted many innovations.277277   The Tyrian adornments; the steps to the altar; the ten candlesticks, and tables; the lions and oxen.

The dedication ceremony was carried out with the utmost pomp. It required nearly a year to complete the necessary preparations, and the ceremony with its feasts occupied fourteen days, which were partly coincident with the autumn Feast of Tabernacles.278278   The Temple was finished in the eighth month of Solomon's eleventh year, and dedicated in the seventh month (Ethanim, or Tisri) of the twelfth year. The first eight days (8th to 15th) were devoted to the Feast of Dedication, and then from the 15th to the 22nd they kept the Feast of Tabernacles. On the 23rd (the eighth day from the beginning of the Feast of Tabernacles, called 'atsereth, 2 Chron. 10) Solomon dismissed the people. The עֲצֶרֶת, "solemn assembly," is not mentioned in Exodus or Deuteronomy, but in Lev. xxiii. 36.

The dedication falls into three great acts. The first was the removal of the Ark to its new home (1 Kings viii. 1-11); then followed the speech and the prayer of Solomon (vv. 12-61); and, finally, the great holocaust was offered (vv. 62-66).

The old Tabernacle, or what remained of it, with its precious heirlooms, was carried by priests and Levites from the high place at Gibeon, which was henceforth abandoned.279279   It was perhaps stored away in one of the Temple chambers (2 Macc. ii. 4). The Gibeonites (Nethinim) were at the same time transferred to Jerusalem. The chronicler (2 Chron. v. 6) says that the Levites took the Ark, according to the Levitic rule; but 1 Kings viii. 3 says that the priests bore it, as in Deut. xxxi. 9, and in all the præ-exilic histories (Josh. iii. 3, vi. 6; 2 Sam. xv. 24-29, etc.). W. Robertson Smith, p. 144. This procession was met by another, far more numerous and splendid, consisting of all the168 princes, nobles, and captains, which brought the Ark from the tent erected for it on Mount Zion by David forty years before.

The Israelites had flocked to Jerusalem in countless multitudes, under their sheykhs and emîrs280280   The sheykhs are heads of clans; the emîrs of tribes (Reuss, i. 444). from the border of Hamath on the Orontes,281281   The Greek Ἐπιφάνεια. Solomon seems to have had some jurisdiction there (2 Chron. viii. 6). north of Mount Lebanon, to the Wady el-Areesh.282282   The torrent (nachal) of Egypt. The king, in his most regal state, accompanied the procession, and the Ark passed through myriads of worshippers crowded in the outer court, from the tent on Mount Zion into the darkness of the Oracle on Mount Moriah, where it continued, unseen perhaps by any human eye but that of the high priest once a year, until it was carried away by Nebuchadnezzar to Babylon.283283   The Holiest, being an unlighted cube, must always have been dim; but, as we have seen, we have no proof that in Solomon's Temple the entrance to it was shrouded by a curtain. In 1 Kings viii. 12, for "The Lord said that He would dwell in the thick darkness," the Targum had "In Jerusalem." To indicate that this was to be its rest for ever, the staves, contrary to the old law, were drawn out of the golden rings through which they ran, in order that no human hand might touch the sacred emblem itself when it was borne on the shoulders of the Levitic priests. "And there they are unto this day," writes the compiler from his ancient record, long after Temple and Ark had ceased to exist.284284   In 1 Kings viii. 4 we read that "the priests and the Levites" brought up to Jerusalem "the Tabernacle of the congregation." But the LXX. only has οἱ ἱερεῖς. In 2 Chron. v. 5 the Hebrew text has "the Levites" in some MSS., or "the priests, the Levites"—i.e., the Levitic priests. For "the priests took up the ark" (1 Kings viii. 3) the chronicler has "the Levites" (comp. Numb. iii. 31, iv. 15). It is at least doubtful whether the distinction between priests and Levites is older than the Priestly Code and the days of Ezekiel. Also, the LXX. in 1 Kings viii. 4 puts "witness" for "congregation," and some critics maintain that "congregation" ('edah) is post-exilic. (See Robertson Smith, Enc. Brit., s.v. Kings). See infra, pp. 189, 190.


The king is the one predominant figure, and the high priest is not once mentioned. Nathan is only mentioned by the heathen historian Eupolemos. Visible to the whole vast multitude, Solomon stood in the inner court on a high scaffolding of brass. Then came a burst of music and psalmody from the priests and musicians, robed in white robes, who densely thronged the steps of the great altar.285285   Some psalm, like Psalm cxxxvi., was probably sung by alternate choirs, but hardly in the attitude of prostration which followed the sudden blaze of glory (2 Chron. vii. 3). They held in their hands their glittering harps and cymbals, and psalteries in their precious frames of red sandal wood, and twelve of their number rent the air with the blast of their silver trumpets as Solomon, in this supreme hour of his prosperity, shone forth before his people in all his manly beauty.

At the sight of that stately figure in its gorgeous robes the song of praise was swelled by innumerable voices, and, to crown all, a blaze of sudden glory wrapped the Temple and the whole scene in heaven's own splendour (2 Chron. v. 13, 14). First, the king, standing with his back to the people, broke out into a few words of prophetic song. Then, turning to the multitude, he blessed them—he, and not the high priest—and briefly told them the history and significance of this house of God, warning them faithfully that the Temple after all was but the emblem of God's presence in the midst of170 them, and that the Most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands, neither is worshipped with men's hands as though He needed anything. After this he advanced to the altar, and kneeling on his knees (2 Chron. vi. 13)—a most unusual attitude among the Jews, who, down to the latest ages, usually stood up to pray—he prayed with the palms of his hands upturned to heaven, as though to receive in deep humility its outpoured benefits. The prayer, as here given, consists of an introduction, seven petitions, and a conclusion. It was a passionate entreaty that God would hear, both individually and nationally, both in prosperity and in adversity, the supplications of His people, and even of strangers, who should either pray in the courts of that His house, or should make it the Kibleh of their devotions.286286   "The prayer" is of extreme beauty, but it belongs by its ideas to the seventh and not to the eleventh or tenth centuries b.c. (Ewald). It is probably added by a later editor who took the Deuteronomic standpoint. It is found, sometimes almost word for word, in Lev. xxvi. and Deut. xxviii.; but there are many variations between the Hebrew and the LXX., and Kings and Chronicles. Looking only at actual facts, not at a priori theories, we see that, as Professor Driver says (Contemporary Review, Feb. 1890), "the Hebrew historians used some freedom in attributing speeches to historical characters." Thus, both the syntax and vocabulary, to say nothing of the thoughts of various speeches attributed to David by the chronicler, are sometimes such as mark the latest period in the history of the language, and are often quite without precedent in præ-exilic literature. Some feelings which gathered round the Temple find expression in Psalms xxiv., xxvii., xlii., lxxii., lxxxiv., cxxii., and in more extravagant and less spiritual forms throughout the Talmud. Soteh, f. 48; Berachoth, f. 591; Moed Qaton, f. 261, etc.

After the dedicatory prayer both the outer and the inner court of the Temple reeked and swam with the blood of countless victims—victims so numerous that the great brazen altar became wholly insufficient for171 them.287287   The Khalif Moktader sacrificed at Mecca 40,000 camels and 50,000 sheep (Burton's Pilgrimage, i. 318). Solomon offered burnt offerings (oloth) and thank offerings (shellamim). No mention is made of sin offerings; and it may be doubted whether they had any separate existence till the days of the Exile. At the close of the entire festival they departed to their homes with joy and gladness.288288   1 Kings viii. 66, "went unto their tents," is a reminiscence of earlier days. The chronicler (1) extends the feast to fourteen days, according to which there is an interpolation, "and seven days, even fourteen days," in verse 65; (2) he says that the sacrifices were consumed by fire from heaven.

But whatever the Temple might or might not be to the people, the king used it as his own chapel. Three times a year, we are told, he offered—and for all that appears, offered with his own hand without the intervention of any priest—burnt offerings and peace offerings upon the altar. Not only this, but he actually "burnt incense therewith upon the altar which was before the Lord,"—the very thing which was regarded as so deadly a crime in the case of King Uzziah.289289   1 Kings ix. 25. The Hebrew text seems to have been tampered with, and the allusions significantly disappear from 2 Chron. viii. 12, 13. The commentators assiduously try to clear away the difficulty. Throughout the history of the monarchy, the priests, with scarcely any exception, seem to have been passive tools in the hands of the kings. Even under Rehoboam—much more under Ahaz and Manasseh—the sacred precincts were defiled with nameless abominations, to which, so far as we know, the priests offered no resistance.

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