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The Temples

I. Solomon’s

#1. http://www.templemount.org/solomon.html

The feature that set apart the Solomonic Temple from other Temples in the ancient world is that there was no idol in it. It contained only the Mercy Seat over the Ark and the Cherubim overshadowing the Mercy Seat. This declared to the world that idols are unnecessary for God to be present. The God of Israel was not localized in any sense. Neither was He bound to any other form such as the Ark. The Temple therefore was not necessary because of God's nature. He did not need it…

The Temple was built to meet the limitations and needs of God's people. It emphasized the way of salvation to the those who asked His forgiveness and represented the believers assurance of the grace of God for their joy and blessing. (1 Kings 8:27-30)…

The Temple also symbolized the hearing ear of God; It was also a place of refuge for the stranger; The Temple is the house of prayer for all people where all nations of the earth should fear God

#2. http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/The_Temple.html

The crowning achievement of King Solomon's reign was the erection of the magnificent Temple (Hebrew- Beit haMikdash) in the capital city of ancient Israel - Jerusalem. His father, King David, had wanted to build the great Temple a generation earlier, as a permanent resting place for the Ark of the Covenant which contained the Ten Commandments. A divine edict, however, had forbidden him from doing so: "You will not build a house for My name," God said to David, "for you are a man of battles and have shed blood" (I Chronicles 28:3).

According to the Tanach (II Chronicles):

       3:3- "The length by cubits after the ancient measure was threescore cubits, and the breadth twenty cubits".

       3:4- "And the porch that was before the house, the length of it, according to the breadth of the house, was twenty cubits, and the height a hundred and twenty; and he overlaid it within with pure gold."

Solomon spared no expense for the building's creation. He ordered vast quantities of cedar wood from King Hiram of Tyre (I Kings 5:20­25), had huge blocks of the choicest stone quarried, and commanded that the building's foundation be laid with hewn stone. To complete the massive project, he imposed forced labor on all his subjects, drafting people for work shifts that sometimes lasted a month at a time. Some 3,300 officials were appointed to oversee the Temple's erection (5:27­30). Solomon assumed such heavy debts in building the Temple that he is forced to pay off King Hiram by handing over twenty towns in the Galilee (I Kings 9:11).

When the Temple was completed, Solomon inaugurated it with prayer and sacrifice, and even invited non­Jews to come and pray there. He urged God to pay particular heed to their prayers: "Thus all the peoples of the earth will know Your name and revere You, as does Your people Israel; and they will recognize that Your name is attached to this House that I have built" (I Kings 8:43).

Sacrifice was the predominant mode of divine service in the Temple until it was destroyed by the Babylonians some four hundred years later, in 586 BCE. Seventy years later, after the story of Purim, a number of Jews returned to Israel - led by the prophets Ezra and Nehemiah - and the Second Temple was built on the same site. Sacrifices to God were once again resumed. During the first century B.C.E., Herod, the Roman appointed head of Judea, made substantial modifications to the Temple and the surrounding mountain, enlargening and expanding the Temple. The Second Temple, however, met the same fate as the first and was destroyed by the Romans in 70 C.E., following the failure of the Great Revolt.

As glorious and elaborate as the Temple was, its most important room contained almost no furniture at all. Known as the Holy of Holies (Kodesh Kodashim), it housed the two tablets of the Ten Commandments inside the Ark of Covenant. Unfortunately, the tablets disappeared when the Babylonians destroyed the Temple and, therefore, during the Second Temple era the Holy of Holies was reduced to small, entirely bare room. Only once a year, on Yom Kippur, the High Priest would enter this room and pray to God on behalf of the Israelite nation. A remarkable monologue by a Hasidic rabbi in the Yiddish play The Dybbuk conveys a sense of what the Jewish throngs worshiping at the Temple must have experienced during this ceremony

#3. http://judaism.about.com/od/jewishhistory/a/First-Jewish-Temple-of-King-Solomon.htm

What Did the First Temple Look Like?

According to the Tanach, the Holy Temple was approximately 180 feet long, 90 feet wide and 50 feet high.  Massive amounts of cedar wood imported from the kingdom of Tyre were used in its construction. King Solomon also had enormous blocks of fine stone quarried and hauled to Jerusalem, where they served as the foundation of the Temple. Pure gold was used as an overlay in some parts of the Temple.

The biblical book of 1 Kings tells us that King Solomon drafted many of his subjects into service in order to build the Temple. 3,300 officials oversaw the construction project, which ultimately put King Solomon into so much debt that he had to pay for the cedar wood by giving King Hiram of Tyre twenty towns in the Galilee (1 Kings 9:11). According to Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, since it’s hard to imagine the relatively small size of the Temple requiring such extravagant spending, we can assume that the area surrounding the Temple was also remodeled (Telushkin, 250).

What Purpose Did the Temple Serve?

The Temple was primarily a house of worship and a monument to God’s greatness. It was the only place where Jews were allowed to sacrifice animals to God.

The most important part of the Temple was a room called the Holy of Holies (Kodesh Kodashim in Hebrew). Here the two tablets upon which God inscribed the Ten Commandments at Mt. Sinai were kept. 1 Kings describes the Holy of Holies thus:

 He prepared the inner sanctuary within the temple to set the ark of the covenant of the Lord there. The inner sanctuary was twenty cubits long, twenty wide and twenty high. He overlaid the inside with pure gold, and he also overlaid the altar of cedar. Solomon covered the inside of the temple with pure gold, and he extended gold chains across the front of the inner sanctuary, which was overlaid with gold. (1 Kings 6:19-21)

1 Kings also tells us how Temple priests brought the Ark of the Covenant to the Holy of Holies once the Temple was completed:

The priests then brought the ark of the Lord’s covenant to its place in the inner sanctuary of the temple, the Most Holy Place, and put it beneath the wings of the cherubim. The cherubim spread their wings over the place of the ark and overshadowed the ark and its carrying poles. These poles were so long that their ends could be seen from the Holy Place in front of the inner sanctuary, but not from outside the Holy Place; and they are still there today.There was nothing in the ark except the two stone tablets that Moses had placed in it at Horeb, where the Lord made a covenant with the Israelites after they came out of Egypt. (1 Kings 8:6-9)

Once the Babylonians destroyed the Temple in 587 B.C.E. the tablets were tragically lost to history. When the Second Temple was constructed in 515 B.C.E. the Holy of Holies was an empty room.

#4. http://jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/14310-temple-of-solomon

David, according to II Sam. vii. 2 et seq., desired to build a temple for Yhwh, but was not permitted to do so, although, according to the Chronicler (I Chron. xxii. 14 et seq.), he prepared for the building a large quantity of material, which he later gave to his son Solomon. David also purchased a thrashing-floor from Araunah the Jebusite (II Sam. xxiv. 21 et seq.), on which he offered sacrifice; and there Solomon afterward built his Temple (II Chron. iii. 1). In preparation for the building Solomon made an alliance with Hiram, King of Tyre, who furnished him with skilled workmen and, apparently, permitted him to cut timber in Lebanon. Solomon began to build the Temple in the fourth year of his reign; its erection occupied seven years (I Kings vi. 37, 38).

The structure was 60 cubits long, 20 cubits wide, and 30 cubits high (I Kings vi. 2). It faced the east (Ezek. xlvii. 1). Before the Temple stood a porch 20 cubits long (corresponding to the width of the Temple) and 10 cubits deep (I Kings vi. 3). II Chron. iii. 4 adds the curious statement (probably corrupted from the statement of the depth of the porch) that this porch was 120 cubits high, which would make it a regular tower. The stone of which the Temple was built was dressed at the quarry, so that no work of that kind was necessary within the Temple precincts (I Kings vi. 7). The roof was of cedar, and the whole house was overlaid with gold (I Kings vi. 9, 22).


The structure was three stories in height. The wall was not of equal thickness all the way up, but had ledges on which the floor-beams rested. Around the structure was a series of chambers, of varying size because of the differences in the thickness of the wall. Those of the lowest story were 5 cubits in depth; those of the second 6; and those of the third, 7. The Temple was also provided with windows of fixed latticework (I Kings vi. 4, 6, 8, 10). At the rear of this edifice was the Holy of Holies, which was in form a perfect cube, each of its dimensions being 20 cubits. The interior was lined with cedar and overlaid with pure gold. The Holy of Holies contained two cherubim of olive-wood, each 10 cubits high (I Kings vi. 16, 20, 21, 23-28) and each having outspread wings 10 cubits from tip to tip, so that, since they stood side by side, the wings touched the wall on either side and met in the center of the room (comp. Cherub). According to II Chron. iii. 14, a veil of variegated linen separated the Holy of Holies from the rest of the Temple.

The rest of the building, the Holy Place, was of the same width and height as the Holy of Holies, but 40 cubits in length. Its walls were lined with cedar, on which were carved figures of cherubim, palm-trees, and open flowers, which were overlaid with gold. Chains of gold further marked it off from the Holy of Holies. The floor of the Temple was of fir-wood overlaid with gold. The door-posts, of olive-wood, supported folding-doors of fir. The doors of the Holy of Holies were of olive-wood. On both sets of doors were carved cherubim, palm-trees, and flowers, all being overlaid with gold (I Kings vi. 15 et seq.).

The Pillars.

Before the Temple, Solomon erected two bronze pillars, called Jachin and Boaz. Each of these was 18 cubits in height, and was surmounted by a capital of carved lilies, 5 cubits high. Before the Temple, a little to the southeast (I Kings vii. 39), there stood the molten sea, a large laver 10 cubits in diameter, ornamented with knops. This laver rested on the backs of twelve oxen (ib. vii. 23-26). The Chronicler gives its capacity as "three thousand baths" (II Chron. iv. 5-6) and states that its purpose was to afford opportunity for the ablutions of the priests.

The Vessels.

Another article of Temple furniture is described as a "base." It was a portable holder for a small laver, and was made of bronze, provided with wheels, and ornamented with figures of lions, cherubim, and palm-trees. These vessels especially excited the admiration of the Jews. The author of the books of the Kings describes their minute details with great interest (I Kings vii. 27-37). Each of these "bases" supported a laver which held "forty baths" (I Kings vii. 38). From II Kings xvi. 14 it is learned that a brazen altar stood before the Temple. II Chron. iv. 1 says that this altar was 20 cubits square and 10 cubits high; according to I Kings vii. 48 there stood before the Holy of Holies a golden altar of incense and a table for showbread. This table was of gold, as were also the five candlesticks on each side of it. The implements for the care of the candles—tongs, basins, snuffers, and fire-pans—were of gold; and so were the hinges of the doors. The Temple was surrounded by a court, which was separated from the space beyond by a wall of three courses of hewn stone, surmounted by cedar beams (I Kings vi. 36). The Chronicler calls this the court of the priests (II Chron. iv. 9).

Plan of the Royal Buildings Erected by Solomon on the Temple Mound (According to Stade).1. Great court. 2. Middle court. 3. Temple court. 4. House of Lebanon. 5. Porch of pillars. 6. Throne porch. 7. Royal palace. 8. Harem. 9. Temple. 10. Altar.

The Temple did not stand alone; it was part of a splendid pile of buildings which Solomon constructed in immediate connection with it. This pile included Solomon's own residence, the palace of Pharaoh's daughter, the throne-room, the "porch of pillars," and "the house of the forest of Lebanon" (I Kings vii. 1-8). These were so arranged that in entering the palace enclosure one came first to the "house of the forest of Lebanon," with its splendid pillars, then to the inner "porch of pillars," the hall of state, or throne-room, Solomon's private dwelling, and, lastly, to the palace of Pharaoh's daughter. For the splendor of these buildings Solomon was indebted to Phenician architects and workmen (I Kings vii. 40-47).
II. Herod’s

#1. http://www.bible-history.com/jewishtemple/

It is interesting that in the Middle East certain places have remained holy throughout the centuries, even if another religion may have taken possession of them. Today the Moslem Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem is the prominent building where the Jewish temple once stood.

When Jesus came to Jerusalem, the Temple had just been marvelously rebuilt by Herod the Great. The Temple area had been enlarged to a size of about thirty-five acres. Around the Temple area were double colonnades.

The Jewish historian Josephus describes the colonnades:

"All the cloisters were double, and the pillars to them belonging were twenty-five cubits in height, and supported -the cloisters. These pillars were of one entire stone each of them, and that stone was white marble; and the roofs were adorned with cedar, curiously graven. The natural magnificence, and excellent polish, and the harmony of the joints in these cloisters, afforded a prospect that was very remarkable; nor was it on the outside adorned with any work of the painter or engraver. The cloisters -(of the outmost court) were in breadth thirty cubits, while the entire compass of it was by measure six furlongs, including the tower of Antonia; those entire courts that were exposed to the air were laid with stones of all sorts" (Jewish War 5. 5. 2).

The eastern portico was named after King Solomon and the part to the south, which overlooked the Valley of Kidron, was called "Royal." On the east side the high corner was possibly the pinnacle of the temple, mentioned in the story of the temptation of Jesus (Matthew 4:5).

There were eight gates leading into the temple.

There were the two Huldah Gates or "mole" Gates from the south, which passed underneath the Royal Porch.

To the east was the Gate of Susa, still visible as the Golden Gate which was walled up by the Byzantines.

In the western wall was the main gate named the Gate of Coponius after the first procurator; it was decorated with the golden eagle as a sign that the Temple had been placed under the protection of Rome.

Anyone was allowed to enter the outer area, which was therefore called the Court of the Gentiles. The actual Temple was enclosed by a balustrade, and at the entrances to it were warning notices, one of them is now in a museum in Istanbul. It says that foreigners have freedom of access provided they do not go beyond the balustrade which went all around the central edifice and which no uncircumcised could cross without incurring the death penalty.

Fourteen steps led through the Beautiful Gate to the Court of the women where the poor boxes were, into one of which the poor widow cast her two mites (Luke 21:1-4).

Another fifteen steps led up to the famous Gate of Nicanor, to which Mary had brought the child at the time of his presentation; this led through the Court of the Men to that of the priests, which had in its center the altar for the burnt offerings and to the left of it a large basin called the Brazen Sea resting upon twelve bulls cast in bronze.

Further steps led up to the actual temple, a comparatively small building. A priceless curtain, embroidered with a map of the known world, concealed from view what lay beyond, and none except the priest on duty was allowed to go farther.

It contained the golden altar at which incense was offered and next to it the seven-branched candelabrum and the table with the twelve loaves of shewbread, which were replaced by fresh ones every sabbath. Beyond it, behind another large curtain, lay the Holy of Holies, which none except the high priest was allowed to enter, and he only on the Day of Atonement. A stone designated the place where once the Ark of the Covenant had stood.

Jesus came to the Temple at a very young age and in Solomon's Porch the boy argued with the rabbis, astonishing them with his questions and with his answers. He remained behind when his parents left, and when his worried mother at last found him he said to her enigmatically: "'Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?"' (Luke 2:49).

It is one of the most original sayings of Jesus, in which he speaks of God for the first time as "avi" (My Father) which was an expression reserved for the Son of God.

#2. http://jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/14304-temple-of-herod

In the eighteenth year (20-19 B.C.) of his reign Herod rebuilt the Temple on a more magnificent scale. There are many evidences that he shared the passion for building by which many powerful men of that time were moved. He had adorned many cities and had erected many heathen temples; and it was not fitting that the temple of his capital should fall beneath these in magnificence. Probably, also, one of his motives was to placate the more pious of his subjects, whose sentiments he had often outraged.

The Jews were loth to have their Temple pulled down, fearing lest it might not be rebuilt. To demonstrate his good faith, Herod acccumulated the materials for the new building before the old one was taken down. The new Temple was rebuilt as rapidly as possible, being finished in a year and a half, although work was in progress on the out-buildings and courts for eighty years. As it was unlawful for any but priests to enter the Temple, Herod employed 1,000 of them as masons and carpenters.


The Temple proper as reconstructed by Herod was of the same dimensions as that of Solomon, viz.: 60 cubits long, 20 cubits wide, and 40 cubits high. This space was divided into the Holy of Holies and the "Hekal." The former measured 20 x 20 cubits; the latter, 20 x 40 ("B.J." v. 5, § 5). At the entrance to the outer Temple hung a veil embroidered in blue, white (byssus), scarlet, and purple; the outer Temple was separated from the Holy of Holies by a similar curtain. The outer curtain was folded back on the south side, and the inner one on the north side, so that a priest in entering the Holy of Holies traversed the outer Temple diagonally. The Holy of Holies was quite empty. In the Holy Place stood the altar of incense, near the entrance to the Holy of Holies the seven-branched golden Candlestick to the south, and the table of showbread to the north. Above the gate of the Temple were golden vines and grape-clusters as large as a man ("Ant." xv. 11, § 3; "B. J." v. 5, § 4). The Temple building had an upper story similar in size to the lower ("B. J." v. 5, § 5). Side-structures, as in Solomon's Temple, afforded space for three stories of chambers on the north, south, and west sides of the Temple. These chambers were connected by doors; and trapdoors afforded communication from those of one story to those of the story immediately above or below. The whole breadth of the structure including the side-buildings was 70 cubits (Mid. iv. 7).

Greek Inscription, Found on Site of Temple Area, Forbidding Gentiles to Enter Within the Inner Temple Walls.(In the museum at Constantinople.)

East of Herod's Temple there was, as in Solomon's, a porch, 100 cubits wide, 100 cubits high, and 20 cubits deep, thus extending 15 cubits on either side of the Temple ("B. J." v. 5, § 4). Its gateway, which had no gates, was 20 cubits broad and 70 cubits high. Over this gateway Herod erected a golden eagle, which was afterward pulled downby the Jews ("Ant." xvii. 6, § 2). The front of the porch was covered with gold ("B. J." v. 5, § 4); and it was most brilliant when the rays of the morning sun fell upon it.

#3. http://www.aish.com/jl/h/cc/48942446.html

The most ambitious of Herod's projects was the re-building of the Temple, which was almost certainly an attempt to gain popularity among his subjects who, he knew, held him in contempt and also to make amends for his cruelty toward the rabbis.

It took 10,000 men ten years just to build the retaining walls around the Temple Mount (on top of which the Muslim shrine, the Dome of the Rock, stands today). The Western Wall (formerly known as the Wailing Wall) is merely part of that 500-meter-long retaining wall that was designed to hold a huge man-made platform that could accommodate twenty four football fields. When it was completed, it was the world's largest functioning religious site and until today it remains the largest man-made platform in the world.

Why did he make the Temple Mount so large?

There's no question that Herod had a huge ego and liked to impress people with grandiose building projects. But there is also another more practical reason. Historians estimate that there were about 6-7 million Jews living in the Roman Empire (plus another 1 million in Persia), many of whom would come to Jerusalem for the three pilgrimage festivals: Passover, Shavuot and Sukkot. So you had to have a huge space to accommodate such a huge number of people. Hence the size of the platform.

When it came to building the Temple itself on top of this platform, Herod truly outdid himself, and even the Talmud acknowledges that the end-result was spectacular. "He who has not seen Herod's building, has never in his life seen a truly grand building." (Talmud-Bava Basra 4a)

The Holy of Holies was covered in gold; the walls and columns of the other buildings were of white marble; the floors were of carrara marble, its blue tinge giving the impression of a moving sea of water; the curtains were tapestries of blue, white, scarlet and purple thread, depicting, according to Josephus, "the whole vista of the heavens.

Josephus describes how incredible it looked:

 Viewed from without, the Sanctuary had everything that could amaze either mind or eyes. Overlaid all round with stout plates of gold, the first rays of the sun it reflected so fierce a blaze of fire that those who endeavored to look at it were forced to turn away as if they had looked straight at the sun. To strangers as they approached it seemed in the distance like a mountain covered with snow; for any part not covered with gold was dazzling white... (The Jewish War, p. 304)

Herod saw fit however, to place at the main entrance a huge Roman eagle, which the pious Jews saw as a sacrilege. A group of Torah students promptly smashed this emblem of idolatry and oppression, but Herod had them hunted down, dragged in chains to his residence in Jericho, where they were burned alive.

Having built the Temple, Herod took pains to make sure it would be run without future problems of this kind. He appointed his own High Priest, having by then put to death forty-six leading members of the Sanhedrin, the rabbinical court.

#4. http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/biblical-sites-places/temple-at-jerusalem/the-stones-of-herod%E2%80%99s-temple-reveal-temple-mount-history/

Building and furnishing the Herodian Temple involved more than stone quarrying and laying, but the stones and foundations of Herod’s Temple can give us clues to Temple Mount history.

What ancient construction techniques can be seen on the site of Herod’s Temple? What does this tell us about Temple Mount history? In the following article, “Quarrying and Transporting Stones for Herod’s Temple Mount,” Leen Ritmeyer, a specialist in Temple Mount history, looks at the quarrying effort and expertise evident in the building of the Herodian Temple.

Horizontally layered local limestone was used to build Herod’s Temple. Stonecutters cut down through blocks of stone; then wood pilings placed in the crevices were saturated with water to such an extent that the pressure broke off the block from the bedrock. Some of this limestone can still be seen uphill from the Herodian Temple in modern Jerusalem. The force of gravity was itself a helpful tool in ancient construction techniques, as well as wooden rollers and oxen. But once on the site of Herod’s Temple, the huge stones had to be set in place; some ashlars of the Herodian Temple weighing 160,000 pounds still stand at a height of 100 feet above the foundations of Herod’s Temple. The physical work of angels? Some have wondered, but ancient construction techniques at Herod’s Temple were more sophisticated than we might imagine. Temple Mount history indicates this was the site of the First Temple, and that the previous platform and additional fill dirt was used to the best advantage.

Ancient construction techniques are evident in the wall of the Herodian Temple. Not all of the stones used in the Herodian Temple weighed 160,000 pounds. Some, weighing merely a few tons, were thrown down from above when the Romans destroyed the city in 70 A.D