1 Kings 6

Solomon's Temple

The Temple Complex

He built a complex of rooms against the outer walls, around the sides and rear of the building (1 Kings 6:5).

The main rectangular building of the temple (porch, holy place, holy of holies) was surrounded by an outer wall that created several stories of auxiliary rooms around the temple, which were most likely used for storing cultic instruments and materials (cf. 2 Chr 5:5-7). Three examples of similar auxiliary rooms have been found, including the one shown here: the temple at Tel Moza. This view is taken from the courtyard. The sacrificial altar is visible on the right, and the doorway of the temple is visible just to the right of center. The stone walls visible in the foreground are from a later structure (8th century BC) built along the south side of the courtyard.

Jerusalem's Quarry

And the house, while it was being built, was made from stone prepared at the quarry (1 Kings 6:7).

The central mountain range of Judah and Samaria is made of limestone, and there are numerous quarries in the region that have been used for millennia. The one shown here is in Jerusalem itself, in the area of the ancient city of David. It is thought most likely that the majority of the quarrying activity that took place here was during the Roman period.

Decorative Cedar

He covered the house with beams and planks of cedar (1 Kings 6:9).

Many Lebanese cedar beams are still located inside of the Al Aqsa Mosque (part of which overlaps the location of Herod’s Royal Stoa) or were moved from the building in recent years. The ornately carved cedar beam shown here was removed from the Al Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount during renovations following severe earthquakes in 1927 and 1937. The mosque was largely dismantled and rebuilt between 1938–42, and the ancient wooden beams were removed during this reconstruction. Recent analysis indicates that some of the beams date to the Second and even First Temple periods.

Gold Overlay

The inner sanctuary was twenty cubits in length, width, and height, and overlaid with gold (1 Kings 6:19).

Gold is a relatively soft metal, and the ancients mastered the skill required to beat it into very thin sheets in order to cover other materials. Although scholars have expressed skepticism over the description of floors overlaid with gold, similar claims were made by other kings of the ancient Near East, both in Assyria and in Egypt. The wrinkled sheet of gold foil shown here predates the time of Solomon by perhaps a century and was found at Beth Shean.

Carved Motifs

He engraved all the walls with carved figures of cherubim, palm-trees, and flower blossoms (1 Kings 6:29).

This relief from the palace at Persepolis includes a sphinx-like creature, a stylized tree, and rosettes, perhaps somewhat similar to the imagery that appeared on the walls of Solomon’s temple. Palm trees were a common artistic motif for religious and royal structures. This relief was photographed at the British Museum.

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