Solomon’s Temple Construction, a Look Into Its Marvelous History

Solomon’s Temple – Overview

Solomon’s Temple refers to the temple Solomon built in Jerusalem in tenth century BC. Solomon’s Temple has been at the center of Judaism for about 400 years. However, New Babylonia (Babylon)’s invasion in 587 BC saw its complete destruction.1

The temple is the holy dwelling place where God dwells on this earth and it is the same concept as the sanctuary. Moses built the first sanctuary, a movable tent, during his life in the desert. In the Bible, it is called the Tent, Tabernacle, and Tent of Meeting. The name Tent is used when focusing on the concept of a dwelling place, the name Tabernacle is used when focusing on the ceremonies and the name Tent of Meeting is used to emphasize the meeting place.

Solomon’s Temple was the first permanent and fixed sanctuary and more accurately it is expressed as the ‘Jerusalem Temple’ [[Jerusalem and New Jerusalem]]. God established Solomon’s Temple as the first temple (also known as the First Temple). After the release from Babylonian captivity, Zerubbabel re-established it with support from King Cyrus II (Cyrus) as Zerubbabel’s Temple, also known as the Second Temple. And the Jewish King Herod built Herod’s Temple which is also called the Third Temple.

Solomon’s temple’s majesty and splendor can only be confirmed through biblical records, and at present, there is nothing left standing. At the Temple Mount of the Old City Jerusalem, where the temple was located, is the western wall also known as, the ‘Wailing Wall’ and the ‘Golden Dome’ which is the famous Islamic Dome of the Rock.

Solomon and Temple Construction Work

Solomon

Solomon was the third and last king of the ancient unified kingdom of Israel. He was born to David, the second king, and Bathsheba. ‘Solomon’ means ‘peaceful’. God told the prophet, Nathan, to give Solomon the name ‘Jedidiah’. Jedidiah means ‘in the love of the LORD’.2 In addition, the name contains God’s will to forgive David’s sin.

God declared early on, the successor to the throne would be David’s son, Solomon.3 Although Adonijah, Solomon’s half-brother, had his sights on sovereign power, with the help from his mother, Bathsheba and the prophet Nathan, Solomon succeeded in becoming king.4 He also built the temple Jerusalem to store the ark of the covenant in keeping with his father David’s wish. During His 40 year rule, Israel enjoyed a peaceful reign according to God’s prophecies.5

Temple Construction Work

During Solomon’s reign, his greatest task and achievement was the temple construction. This was also Solomon’s father, former King David’s long-cherished desire. God did not allow David, who had shed much blood through many wars, to build the temple, but wanted his son to complete it.6

Solomon’s temple construction work proceeded smoothly with David’s thorough planning and preparation. The temple construction took place 480 years after the Exodus, in the fourth year, the second month during Solomon’s reign.7 And temple completion occurred after 7 years, in the eighth month, 11th-year of Solomon’s reign. Overall, the construction period took a total of seven years and six months.8

The site where the temple construction took place was Mount Moriah, Jerusalem [[Jerusalem and the New Jerusalem]]. Here, Abraham almost sacrificed Isaac.9 David purchased it, as the temple site from the owner, Araunah (Ornan) the Jebusite.10 Now, the site is called the Temple Mount.

Workers and Materials

Solomon asked Hiram, king of Tyre, who had had a friendship treaty since David’s time, for the timber and technical skills needed to build the temple. Hiram offered assistance and supplied cedar and pine trees from Lebanon along with providing engineers, etc. on the condition Solomon provided food for Hiram’s royal household.11 Solomon provided Hiram with 20,000 cors (3600 tons / 3,250 metric tons) of wheat and 20 cors (120,000 gallons / 440,000 liters) of pressed olive oil each year, as agreed.

Solomon spared no expense and materials for building the temple. His father, King David prepared a vast amount of gold, silver, bronze, and iron, precious timbers, and stones blocks, for the temple, utensils, and decorations. He used them unsparingly. As well, he brought large, choice stones from the quarry and used for the temple foundation.12

Solomon mobilized 183,850 people to build the temple. Together with 30,000 workers sent to Lebanon, there were 70,000 transporters, 80,000 quarrymen, and 3,850 foremen and general managers.13 While building the temple, workers only took dressed blocks from the quarry, so the sound of hammers, chisels or any tools could not be heard.14

Solomon’s Temple Structure and Scale

Solomon built the temple according to the plan God gave David.15 The temple had three main parts; the outer courtyard, inner sanctuary, and the Most Holy place.

Temple Exterior Structure and Parts

The temple’s overall appearance is a rectangular structure. Stones made up all the building materials. On the outside walls of the temple were transom windows, and along the temple side and back was a three-floor structure. The entrance to the first floor was to the south, and from there a winding staircase went up to the second and third floors. After the exterior wall construction finished, workers covered the rafters and roofs with cedar boards.

In the courtyard, were placed the altar of burnt offering, a giant water cistern called the ‘Sea’ and five water basins on each side of the temple. As well, the temple entrance had giant bronze pillars on each side called Boaz and Jachin. God allowed His people to enter the outer courtyard but forbid them from going inside the temple.

Temple Interior Structure and Parts

Two rooms divided the temple interior. It consisted of the outer hall (main hall, inside the temple) and the inner hall (inner sanctuary), more commonly known as the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place. Only the high priest could enter the Most Holy Place once a year at that. And God strictly forbid the general priests from entering the Most Holy Place.

Solomon covered the temple interior walls with cedar boards and the floors with pine boards, so not a single stone could be seen.16 The Holy Place and the Most Holy Place walls along with the Most Holy Place entrance doors had cherubim (angels), palm trees, and full blossomed flowers engraved into them, and overlaid with gold.17 On top of that, He also had the entire temple floor overlaid with gold.18

In the sanctuary (outer sanctuary) all furnishings, such as the burnt offering altar, table (bread of presence), lampstands, floral works, lamps, tongs, basins, wick trimmers, sprinkling bowls, dishes, and censers, etc. were made out of gold and even the sockets (hinges) of the doors were made out of gold.19

Temple Measurements

The Most Holy Place was a closed-off room, blocked off with floor to ceiling cedar boards. It was located nine meters from the back of the temple and from the entrance it was the innermost room.20 In particular, the length, width, and height of the Most Holy Place were the same, 20 cubits each, which measured about nine meters.21 In front of the Most Holy Place was a gold chain, and inside were two cherubim (angels) carved from olive wood and coated with pure gold.22

The temple measurements (or Jerusalem Temple – Delete) was 30 meters long, 10 meters wide and contained an area less than 330 square meters. Some scholars estimate a length of 40 meters and a height of 26 meters using royal cubits.23 The temple itself was not very large. However, the reason it took more than 7 years for completion is that the walls inside the temple were first overlaid with cedar boards, then carved and sculpted (embossed), and covered in gold, etc.

Solomon’s Temple Construction Focus

Up until the time Solomon built the Temple Jerusalem, the Israelites presented sacrifices to God on the altar established on top of the mountain. The most famous high place at that time was at Gibeon, about 10 km (6.2 miles) from Jerusalem. The tabernacle and burnt offering altar built in the time of Moses, He kept at the high place in Gibeon.24 He offered God a thousand burnt offerings from this very place and as a result, gained wisdom from God. [[Solomon’s Judgment]]

Solomon’s goal for building the temple was to preserve God’s Ark of the Covenant [[The Ark of God]].25 He kept the Ark of the Covenant in the temple inner sanctuary, the Most Holy Place [[Secret of the Sanctuary, Most Holy Place]]. In fact, the inner sanctuary’s most prominent feature was its square structure and equal measurements of 20 cubits (10 meters) in length, width, and height.26

After Solomon finished Jerusalem Temple’s construction, he firmly established it as the center of faith. Even though Babylon (New Babylonia) attacked Solomon’s temple in 587 A.D. and it disappeared without a trace, it still remains in people’s minds. Legend has it that while building Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem, no workers fell sick or even died. In addition, the tools used in the construction did not wear out at all.27

Solomon’s Temple – Epilogue

Behind Solomon’s Temple’s marvelous history, there is without a doubt the mysterious providence of God’s salvation. And at the core of Jerusalem temple that Solomon constructed, and the tabernacle Moses built, was the Most Holy Place and the Ark of the Covenant.

The Apostle Paul emphasizes that the Old Covenant is a parable of the present age, and a copy of the things in heaven, so it cannot completely remove our sins. The words in Hebrews chapter 9 states that Christ, the reality of the high priest, entered the Most Holy Place once and for all and brought forth salvation.

The Apostle John specifically wrote a prophecy that strengthened what Paul said. Among the revelations about the Temple coming down from heaven is a verse that is a reminder of the Jerusalem Temple’s Most Holy Place that God constructed. Just as the measurements of the Most Holy Place were all equal, the New Jerusalem Temple descending from heaven, measurements were all equal as well.28 Through a vision, the Apostle John also saw the Ark of the Covenant kept in God’s temple in heaven.29

Hence, this is why we have to pay attention to the Most Holy Place and the Ark of the Covenant from Solomon’s temple.

Footnote

  1. 2 Kings 25:8-10 []
  2. 2 Samuel 12:24-25 []
  3. 1 Kings 1:13, 17, 30, Revelation 22:5-10 []
  4. 1 Kings 1, 2 []
  5. 1 Kings 4:24, 1 Chronicles 22:9 []
  6. 1 Chronicles 28:1-6 []
  7. 1 Kings 6:1 []
  8. 1 Kings 6:38 []
  9. Genesis 22: 2 []
  10. 2 Chronicles 3:1 []
  11. 1 Kings 5:1-12 []
  12. 1 Chronicles 22:14, 29:1-6, 1 Kings 5:17 []
  13. 1 Kings 5: 13–16, 9:23, 2 Chronicles 2:18, 8:10 []
  14. 1 Kings 6: 7 []
  15. 1 Chronicles 28:11-19 []
  16. 1 Kings 6: 15–18 []
  17. 1 Kings 6:29-32 []
  18. 1 Kings 6:30 []
  19. 1Kings 7:48-50 []
  20. 1Kings 6:16 []
  21. 1 Kings 6:20 []
  22. 1 Kings 6:21-28 []
  23. Mysteries of the Bible: The Enduring Questions of the Scriptures, Reader’s Digest Association, Pleasantville, N.Y. (Publisher), P.g. 91, ISBN-10 0895772930 []
  24. 1 Chronicles 21:29, 2 Chronicles 1:3 []
  25. 2 Samuel 7:2-5 []
  26. 1 Kings 6:16-20 []
  27. Mysteries of the Bible: The Enduring Questions of the Scriptures, Reader’s Digest Association, Pleasantville, N.Y. (Publisher), P.g. 156, ISBN-10 0895772930 []
  28. Revelation 21:2, 9-10, 16 []
  29. Revelation 11:19 []
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