Early Accounts of the Temple of Jerusalem – Sources     HomeSourcesTopicsViews

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, 1915.
W. Shaw Caldecott; James Orr, General Editor.



tem'-p'l (hekhal, "palace"; sometimes, as in 1 Kings 6:3,5, etc.; Ezekiel 41:1,15, used for "the holy place" only; bayith, "house," thus always in the Revised Version (British and American); hieron, naos):



§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: 2 Samuel 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" (1 Chronicles 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 (2 Samuel 7; 1 Chronicles 22:8; compare 1 Kings 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 (1 Chronicles 22:2; 28:11; 29). The general fact of lengthened preparation, and even of designs, for a structure which so deeply occupied his thoughts, is extremely probable (compare 1 Kings 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" (1 Kings 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 1 Kings 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 (2 Chronicles 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 (1 Chronicles 21:22; 2 Chronicles 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 (1 Kings 5; 2 Chronicles 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" (1 Kings 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.


§1. In General:  In contrast with the tabernacle, which was a portable "tent," consisting of a framework of acacia wood, with rich coverings hung over it, and standing in a "court" enclosed by curtains (see TABERNACLE), the Temple was a substantial "house" built of stone (probably the hard white limestone of the district), with chambers in three stories, half the height of the building (1 Kings 6:5,6), round the sides and back, and, in front, a stately porch (1 Kings 6:3), before which stood two lofty bronze pillars--Jachin and Boaz (1 Kings 7:21; 2 Chronicles 3:4,15-17). Within, the house was lined with cedar, overlaid with gold, graven with figures of cherubim, palms, and open flowers (1 Kings 6:15,18,21,22,29), and a partition of cedar or stone divided the interior into two apartments--one the holy place (the hekhal), the other the most holy place, or "oracle" (debhir) (1 Kings 6:16-18). The floor was of stone, covered with fir (or cypress), likewise overlaid with gold (1 Kings 6:15,30). The platform on which the whole building stood was probably raised above the level of the court in front, and the building may have been approached by steps. Details are not given. The more particular description follows.

§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 (1 Kings 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 1 Kings 6:9,10); still, the proportions must have closely approximated, and may have been in agreement.

The walls of the building, as stated, were lined within with cedar; the holy place was ceiled with fir or cypress (2 Chronicles 3:5; the "oracle" perhaps with cedar); the flooring likewise was of fir (1 Kings 6:15). All was overlaid with gold, and walls and doors (see below) were adorned with gravings of cherubim, palm trees, and open flowers (1 Kings 6:19-35; 2 Chronicles 3:6 adds "precious stones"). Of the two chambers into which the house was divided, the outermost (or hekhal) was 40 cubits (60 ft.) long, and 20 cubits (30 ft.) wide (1 Kings 6:17); the innermost (or debhir) was 20 cubits in length, breadth and height--a cube (1 Kings 6:20). As the height of the Temple internally was 30 cubits, it is obvious that above the most holy place there was a vacant space 20 cubits long and 10 high. This apparently was utilized as a chamber or chambers for storage or other purposes. It has been held by some (Kurtz, Fergusson, etc.) that the ceiling along the entire Temple was at the height of 20 cubits, with chambers above (compare the allusion to "upper chambers" in 1 Chronicles 28:11; 2 Chronicles 3:9); this, however, seems unwarranted (compare Bahr on 1 Kings 6:14-19; the upper chambers" were "overlaid with gold," 2 Chronicles 3:9, which points to something nobler in character). The inner chamber was a place of "thick darkness" (1 Kings 8:12).

§3. The Side-Chambers:  The thickness of the Temple walls is not given, but the analogy of Ezekiel's temple (Ezekiel 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. (1 Kings 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 (1 Kings 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 (Ezekiel 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 1 Chronicles 9:27).

§4. The Porch and Pillars:  A conspicuous feature of the Temple was the porch in front of the building, with its twin pillars, Jachin and Boaz. Of the porch itself a very brief description is given. It is stated to have been 20 cubits broad--the width of the house--and 10 cubits deep (1 Kings 6:3). Its height is not given in 1 Kings, but it is said in 2 Chronicles 3:4 to have been 120 cubits, or approximately 180 ft. Some accept this enormous height (Ewald, Stanley, etc.), but the majority more reasonably infer that there has been a corruption of the number. It may have been the same height as the Temple--30 cubits. It was apparently open in front, and, from what is said of its being "overlaid within with pure gold" (2 Chronicles 3:4), it may be concluded that it shared in the splendor of the main building, and had architectural features of its own which are not recorded. Some find here, in the wings, treasury chambers, and above, "upper chambers," but such restorations are wholly conjectural. It is otherwise with the monumental brass (bronze) pillars--Jachin and Boaz--of which a tolerably full description is preserved (1 Kings 7:15-22; 2 Chronicles 3:15-17; 4:11-13; compare Jeremiah 52:20-23), still, however, leaving many points doubtful. The pillars which stood in front of the porch, detached from it, were hollow bronze castings, each 18 cubits (27 ft.) in height (35 cubits in 2 Chronicles 3:15 is an error), and 12 cubits (18 ft.) in circumference, and were surmounted by capitals 5 cubits (7 1/2 ft.) high, richly ornamented on their lower, bowl-shaped (1 Kings 7:20,41,42) parts, with two rows of pomegranates, enclosing festoons of chain-work, and, in their upper parts, rising to the height of 4 cubits (6 ft.) in graceful lily-work. 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 (1 Kings 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 (1 Kings 6:32). Behind the partition hung the sanctuary veil (2 Chronicles 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 (1 Kings 6:33-35). The carving and gold-plating were as on the inner doors, and all the doors had hinges of gold (1 Kings 7:50).


The Temple was enclosed in "courts"--an "inner" (1 Kings 6:36; 7:12; 2 Chronicles 4:9, "court of the priests"; Jer 36:10, "the upper court"; Ezekiel 8:3,16; 10:3), and an outer or "greater court" (1 Kings 7:9,12; 2 Chronicles 4:9)--regarding the situation, dimensions and relations of which, alike to one another and to the royal buildings described in 1 Kings 7 the scanty notices in the history leave room for great diversity of opinion. 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 Jeremiah 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: The walls of the court were built of three rows of hewn stone, with a coping of cedar beams (1 Kings 6:36). Their height is not stated; it is doubtful if it would admit of the colonnades which some have supposed; but "chambers" are mentioned (Jeremiah 35:4; 36:10--if, indeed, all belong to the "inner" court), which imply a substantial structure. It was distinctively "the priests' court" (2 Chronicles 4:9); probably, in part, was reserved for them; to a certain degree, however, the laity had evidently free access into it (Jeremiah 36:10; 38:14; Ezekiel 8:16, etc.). The mention of "the new court" (2 Chronicles 20:5, time of Jehoshaphat), and of "the two courts of the house of Yahweh" (2 Kings 21:5; 2 Chronicles 33:5, time of Manasseh), suggests subsequent enlargement and division.

(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 Jeremiah 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 (2 Kings 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 Ezekiel 8:3,1, and with "the upper gate of Benjamin" in Jeremiah 20:3. Mention is also made of a "gate of the guard" which descended to the king's house (2 Kings 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 1 Kings 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, 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 1 Kings 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 2 Kings 11:19. Its wall, like that of the inner court, was built in three courses of hewn stone, and one course of cedar (1 Kings 7:12). Its gates overlaid with brass (2 Chronicles 4:9, i.e., "bronze") show that the masonry must have been both high and substantial. On the "other court" of 1 Kings 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 1 Kings 7:1-12. They were of hewn stone and cedar wood (1 Kings 7:9-11), and embraced:

(1) The king's house, or royal palace (1 Kings 7:8), in close contiguity with the Temple-court (2 Kings 11:19).

(2) Behind this to the West, the house of Pharaoh's daughter (2 Kings 11:9)--the apartments of the women. Both of these were enclosed in a "court" of their own, styled in 2 Kings 11:8 "the other court," and in 2 Kings 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 (2 Kings 11:7). The throne, we read later (1 Kings 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 (1 Kings 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" (1 Kings 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 1 Kings 6:5; compare the Revised Version margin). In 1 Kings 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 (1 Kings 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 (1 Kings 10:17).


§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; TABERNACLE). 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 (1 Kings 6:23-28; 2 Chronicles 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 (1 Kings 6:22), stood the altar of incense, covered with cedar, and overlaid with gold (1 Kings 6:20-22; 7:48; 2 Chronicles 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 (1 Kings 7:49; 2 Chronicles 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 (1 Kings 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 2 Samuel 24:18,25). The dimensions of the altar, which are not mentioned in 1 K, are given in 2 Chronicles 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 (1 Kings 7:40,45; 2 Chronicles 4:11,16). It will be observed that the assumed halving proportions of the tabernacle are here quite departed from (compare Exodus 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 (1 Kings 7:23-26,39; 2 Chronicles 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 (1 Kings 7:26; by error in 2 Chronicles 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 Exodus 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 (1 Kings 7:27-37). Their use seems to have been for the washing of sacrifices (2 Chronicles 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 (1 Kings 7:31). Mythological ideas, as just said, are here out of place.


§1. Building and Dedication:  The Temple was founded in the 4th year of Solomon's reign (1 Kings 6:1), and occupied 7 1/2 years in building (1 Kings 6:38); the royal buildings occupied 13 years (1 Kings 7:1)--20 years in all (the two periods, however, may in part synchronize). On the completion of the Temple, the ark was brought up, in the presence of a vast assemblage, from Zion, and, with innumerable sacrifices and thanksgiving, was solemnly deposited in the Holy of Holies (1 Kings 8:1-21; 2 Chronicles 5; 6:1-11). The Temple itself was then dedicated by Solomon in the noble prayer recorded in 1 Kings 8:22-61; 2 Chronicles 6:12-42, followed by lavish sacrifices, and a 14 days' feast. At its inauguration the house was filled with the "glory" of Yahweh (1 Kings 8:10,11; 2 Chronicles 5:13,14).

§2. Repeated Plunderings, etc.:  The religious declension of the later days of Solomon (1 Kings 11:1-8) brought in its train disasters for the nation and the Temple. On Solomon's death the kingdom was disrupted, and the Temple ceased to be the one national sanctuary. It had its rivals in the calf-shrines set up by Jeroboam at Beth-el and Da (1 Kings 12:25-33). In the 5th year of Rehoboam an expedition was made against Judah by Shishak, king of Egypt, who, coming to Jerusalem, carried away the treasures of the Temple, together with those of the king's house, including the 300 shields of gold which Solomon had made (1 Kings 14:25-28; 2 Chronicles 12:2-9). Rehoboam's wife, Maacah, was an idolatress, and during the reign of Abijam, her son, introduced many abominations into the worship of the Temple (1 Kings 15:2,12,13). Asa cleared these away, but himself further depleted the Temple and royal treasuries by sending all that was left of their silver and gold to Ben-hadad, king of Syria, to buy his help against Baasha, king of Israel (). Again the Temple was foully desecrated by Athaliah (2 Chronicles 24:7), necessitating the repairs of Jehoash (2 Ki 12:4; 1 Ch 24:4); and a new plundering took place in the reign of Ahaziah, when Jehoash of Israel carried off all the gold and silver in the Temple and palace (2 Kings 14:14). Uzziah was smitten with leprosy for presuming to enter the holy place to offer incense (2 Chronicles 26:16-20). Jehoshaphat, earlier, is thought to have enlarged the court (2 Chronicles 20:5), and Jotham built a new gate (2 Kings 15:35; 2 Chronicles 27:3). The ungodly Ahaz went farther than any of his predecessors in sacrilege, for, besides robbing the Temple and palace of their treasures to secure the aid of the king of Assyria (2 Kings 16:8), he removed the brazen altar from its time-honored site, and set up a heathen altar in its place, removing likewise the bases and ornaments of the lavers, and the oxen from under the brazen (bronze) sea (2 Kings 16:10-17).

§3. Attempts at Reform:  An earnest attempt at reform of religion was made by Hezekiah (2 Kings 18:1-6; 2 Chronicles 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 (2 Kings 18:14-16; 2 Chronicles 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 (2 Kings 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 (2 Ki 22; 23:1-25; 2 Ch 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. Ezekiel 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, 2 Chronicles 36:7), and led into captivity the king, his household and the chief part of the population (2 Kings 24:1-17). Eleven years later (586 BC), after a siege of 18 months, consequent on Zedekiah's rebellion (2 Kings 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 (2 Kings 25:13-16). The Temple itself, with its connected buildings, and the houses in Jerusalem generally, were set on fire (2 Kings 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 (2 Kings 25:11,12; see CAPTIVITY). Thus ended the first Temple, after about 400 years of chequered existence.



§1. Relation to History of Temple:  Wellhausen has said that Ezekiel 40-48 "are the most important in his book, and have been, not incorrectly, called the key to the Old Testament" (Prolegomena, English translation, 167). He means that Ezekiel's legislation represents the first draft, or sketch, of a priestly code, and that subsequently, on its basis, men of the priestly school formulated the Priestly Code as we have it. Without accepting this view, dealt with elsewhere, it is to be admitted that Ezekiel's sketch of a restored temple in chapters 40-43 has important bearings on the history of the Temple, alike in the fact that it presupposes and sheds back light upon the structure and arrangements of the first Temple (Solomon's), and that in important respects it forecasts the plans of the second (Zerubbabel's) and of Herod's temples.

§2. The Conception Unique and Ideal:  While, however, there is this historical relation, it is to be observed that Ezekiel's temple-sketch is unique, presenting features not found in any of the actually built temples. The temple is, in truth, an ideal construction never intended to be literally realized by returned exiles, or any other body of people. Visionary in origin, the ideas embodied, and not the actual construction, are the main things to the prophet's mind. It gives Ezekiel's conception of what a perfectly restored temple and the service of Yahweh would be under conditions which could scarcely be thought of as ever likely literally to arise. A literal construction, one may say, was impossible. The site of the temple is not the old Zion, but "a very high mountain" (Ezekiel 40:2), occupying indeed the place of Zion, but entirely altered in elevation, configuration and general character. The temple is part of a scheme of transformed land, partitioned in parallel tracts among the restored 12 tribes (Ezekiel 47:13-48:7,23-29), with a large area in the center, likewise stretching across the whole country, hallowed to Yahweh and His service (Ezekiel 48:8-22). Supernatural features, as that of the flowing stream from the temple in Ezekiel 47, abound. It is unreasonable to suppose that the prophet looked for such changes--some of them quite obviously symbolical--as actually impending.

§3. Its Symmetrical Measurements:  The visionary character of the temple has the effect of securing that its measurements are perfectly symmetrical. The cubit used is defined as "a cubit and a handbreadth" (Ezekiel 40:5), the contrast being with one or more smaller cubits (see CUBIT). In the diversity of opinion as to the precise length of the cubit, it may be assumed here that it was the same sacred cubit employed in the tabernacle and first Temple, and may be treated, as before, as approximately equivalent to 18 inches.


Despite obscurities and corruption in the text of Ezekiel, the main outlines of the ideal temple can be made out without much difficulty (for details the commentaries must be consulted; A. B. Davidson's "Ezekiel" in the Cambridge Bible series may be recommended; compare also Keil; a very lucid description is given in Skinner's "Book of Ezk," in the Expositor's Bible, 406-13; for a different view, see Caldecott, The Second Temple in Jerusalem).

§1. The Outer Court:  The temple was enclosed in two courts--an outer and an inner--quite different, however, in character and arrangement from those of the first Temple. The outer court, as shown by the separate measurements (compare Keil on Ezekiel 40:27), was a large square of 500 cubits (750 ft.), bounded by a wall 6 cubits (9 ft.) thick and 6 cubits high (Ezekiel 40:5). The wall was pierced in the middle of its north, east and south sides by massive gateways, extending into the court to a distance of 50 cubits (75 ft.), with a width of 25 cubits (37 1/2 ft.). On either side of the passage in these gateways were three guardrooms, each 6 cubits square (Ezekiel 40:7 margin), and each gateway terminated in "porch," 8 cubits (12 ft.) long (Ezekiel 40:9), and apparently (thus, the Septuagint, Ezekiel 40:14; the Hebrew text seems corrupt), 20 cubits across. The ascent to the gateways was by seven steps (Ezekiel 40:6; compare 40:22,26), showing that the level of the court was to this extent higher than the ground outside. Round the court, on the three sides named--its edge in line with the ends of the gateways--was a "pavement," on which were built, against the wall, chambers, 30 in number (Ezekiel 40:17,18). At the four corners were enclosures (40 cubits by 30) where the sacrifices were cooked (compare Ezekiel 46:21-24)--a fact which suggests that the cells were mainly for purposes of feasting. (The "arches" ('elammim) of Ezekiel 40:16,21, etc. (the Revised Version margin "colonnade"), if distinguished from the "porch" ('ulam)--A. B. Davidson and others identify them--are still parts of the gateway--Ezekiel 40:21, etc.).

§2. The Inner Court:  The inner court was a square of 100 cubits (150 ft.), situated exactly in the center of the larger court (Ezekiel 40:47). It, too, was surrounded by a wall, and had gateways, with guardrooms, etc., similar to those of the outer court, saving that the gateways projected outward (50 cubits), not inward. The gates of outer and inner courts were opposite to each other on the North, East, and South, a hundred cubits apart (Ezekiel 40:19,23,27; the whole space, therefore, from wall to wall was 50 and 100 and 50 = 200 cubits). The ascent to the gates in this case was by eight steps (Ezekiel 40:37), indicating another rise in level for the inner court. There were two chambers at the sides of the north and south gates respectively, one for Levites, the other for priests (Ezekiel 40:44-46; compare the margin); at the gates also (perhaps only at the north gate) were stone tables for slaughtering (Ezekiel 40:39-43). In the center of this inner court was the great altar of burnt offering (Ezekiel 43:14-17)--a structure 18 cubits (27 ft.) square at the base, and rising in four stages (1, 2, 4, and 4 cubits high respectively, Ezekiel 43:14,15), till it formed a square of 12 cubits (18 ft.) at the top or hearth, with four horns at the corners (Ezekiel 43:15,16). Steps led up to it on the East (Ezekiel 43:17). See ALTAR OF BURNT OFFERING.

§3. The Temple Building and Adjuncts:  The inner court was extended westward by a second square of 100 cubits, within which, on a platform elevated another 6 cubits (9 ft.), stood the temple proper and its connected buildings (Ezekiel 41:8). This platform or basement is shown by the measurements to be 60 cubits broad (North and and South) and 105 cubits long (East and West)--5 cubits projecting into the eastern square. The ascent to the temple-porch was by 10 steps (Ezekiel 40:49; Septuagint, the Revised Version margin). The temple itself was a building consisting, like Solomon's, of three parts--a porch at the entrance, 20 cubits (30 ft.) broad by 12 cubits (18 ft.) deep (so most, following the Septuagint, as required by the other measurements); the holy place or hekhal, 40 cubits (60 ft.) long by 20 cubits (30 ft.) broad; and the most holy place, 20 cubits by 20 (Ezekiel 40:48,49; 41:1-4); the measurements are internal. At the sides of the porch stood two pillars (Ezekiel 40:49), corresponding to the Jachin and Boaz of the older Temple. The holy and the most holy places were separated by a partition 2 cubits in thickness (Ezekiel 41:3; so most interpret). The most holy place was empty; of the furniture of the holy place mention is made only of an altar of wood (Ezekiel 41:22; see ALTAR, sec. A, III, 7; B, III, 3). Walls and doors were ornamented with cherubim and palm trees (Ezekiel 41:18,25). The wall of the temple building was 6 cubits (9 ft.) in thickness (Ezekiel 41:5), and on the north, south, and west sides, as in Solomon's Temple, there were side-chambers in three stories, 30 in number (Ezekiel 41:6; in each story?), with an outer wall 5 cubits (7 1/2 ft.) in thickness (Ezekiel 41:9). These chambers were, on the basement, 4 cubits broad; in the 2nd and 3rd stories, owing, as in the older Temple, to rebatements in the wall, perhaps 5 and 6 cubits broad respectively (Ezekiel 41:6,7; in Solomon's Temple the side-chambers were 5, 6, and 7 cubits, 1 Kings 6:6). These dimensions give a total external breadth to the house of 50 cubits (with a length of 100 cubits), leaving 5 cubits on either side and in the front as a passage round the edge of the platform on which the building stood (described as "that which was left") (Ezekiel 41:9,11). The western end, as far as the outer wall, was occupied, the whole breadth of the inner court, by a large building (Ezekiel 41:12); all but a passage of 20 cubits (30 ft.) between it and the temple, belonging to what is termed "the separate place" (gizrah, Ezekiel 41:12,13, etc.). The temple-platform being only 60 cubits broad, there remained a space of 20 cubits (30 ft.) on the north and south sides, running the entire length of the platform; this, continued round the back, formed the gizrah, or "separate place" just named. Beyond the gizrah for 50 cubits (75 ft.) were other chambers, apparently in two rows, the inner 100 cubits, the outer 50 cubits, long, with a walk of 10 cubits between (Ezekiel 42:1-14; the passage, however, is obscure; some, as Keil, place the "walk" outside the chambers). These chambers were assigned to the priests for the eating of "the most holy things" (Ezekiel 42:13). See GALLERY.

Such, in general, was the sanctuary of the prophet's vision, the outer and inner courts of which, and, crowning all, the temple itself, rising in successive terraces, presented to his inner eye an imposing spectacle which, in labored description, he seeks to enable his readers likewise to visualize.



§1. The Decree of Cyrus:  Forty-eight years after Nebuchadnezzar's destruction of the first Temple, the Babylonian empire came to an end (538 BC), and Persia became dominant under Cyrus. In the year following, Cyrus made a decree sanctioning the return of the Jews, and ordering the rebuilding of the Temple at Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 36:23; Ezra 1:1-4). He not only caused the sacred vessels of the old Temple to be restored, but levied a tax upon his western provinces to provide materials for the building, besides what was offered willingly (Ezra 1:6-11; 6:3). The relatively small number of exiles who chose to return for this work (40,000) were led by Sheshbazzar, "the prince of Judah" (Ezra 1:11), whom some identify with Zerubbabel, likewise named "governor of Judah" (Haggai 1:1). With these, if they were distinct, was associated Joshua the high priest (in Ezra and Nehemiah called "Jeshua").

§2. Founding of the Temple:  The first work of Joshua and Zerubbabel was the building of the altar on its old site in the 7th month of the return (Ezra 3:3). Masons and carpenters were engaged for the building of the house, and the Phoenicians were requisitioned for cedar wood from Lebanon (Ezra 3:7). In the 2nd year the foundations of the temple were laid with dignified ceremonial, amid rejoicing, and the weeping of the older men, who remembered the former house (Ezra 3:8-13).

§3. Opposition and Completion of the Work:  The work soon met with opposition from the mixed population of Samaria, whose offer to join it had been refused; hostile representations, which proved successful, were made to the Persian king; from which causes the building was suspended about 15 years, till the 2nd year of Darius Hystaspis (520 BC; Ezr 4). On the other hand, the prophets Haggai and Zechariah stimulated the flagging zeal of the builders, and, new permission being obtained, the work was resumed, and proceeded so rapidly that in 516 BC the temple was completed, and was dedicated with joy (Ezra 5; 6).


§1. The House:  Few details are available regarding this temple of Zerubbabel. It stood on the ancient site, and may have been influenced in parts of its plan by the descriptions of the temple in Ezekiel. The inferiority to the first Temple, alluded to in Ezra 3:12 and Haggai 2:3, plainly cannot refer to its size, for its dimensions as specified in the decree of Cyrus, namely, 60 cubits in height, and 60 cubits in breadth (Ezra 6:3; there is no warrant for confining the 60 cubits of height to the porch only; compare Josephus, Ant, XI, i), exceed considerably those of the Temple of Solomon (side-chambers are no doubt included in the breadth). The greater glory of the former Temple can only refer to adornment, and to the presence in it of objects wanting in the second. The Mishna declares that the second temple lacked five things present in the first--the ark, the sacred fire, the shekhinah, the Holy Spirit, and the Urim and Thummim (Yoma', xxi.2).

§2. Its Divisions and Furniture:  The temple was divided, like its predecessor, into a holy and a most holy place, doubtless in similar proportions. In 1 Macc 1:22 mention is made of the "veil" between the two places. The most holy place, as just said, was empty, save for a stone on which the high priest, on the great Day of Atonement, placed his censer (Yoma' v.2). The holy place had its old furniture, but on the simpler scale of the tabernacle--a golden altar of incense, a single table of shewbread, one 7-branched candlestick. These were taken away by Antiochus Epiphanes (1 Macc 1:21,22). At the cleansing of the sanctuary after its profanation by this prince, they were renewed by Judas Maccabeus (1 Macc 4:41). Judas pulled down also the old desecrated altar, and built a new one (1 Macc 4:44).

§3. Its Courts, Altar, etc.:  The second temple had two courts--an outer and an inner (1 Macc 4:38,48; 9:54; Josephus, Ant, XIV, xvi, 2)--planned apparently on the model of those in Ezekiel. A.R.S. Kennedy infers from the measurements in the Haram that "the area of the great court of the second temple, before it was enlarged by Herod on the South and East, followed that of Ezekiel's outer court--that is, it measured 500 cubits each way with the sacred rock precisely in the center" (Expository Times, XX, 182). The altar on this old Sakhra site--the first thing of all to be "set on its base" (Ezra 3:3)--is shown by 1 Macc 4:47 and a passage quoted by Josephus from Hecataeus (Apion, I, xxii) to have been built of unhewn stones. Hecataeus gives its dimensions as a square of 20 cubits and 10 cubits in height. There seems to have been free access to this inner court till the time of Alexander Janneus (104-78 BC), who, pelted by the crowd as he sacrificed, fenced off the part of the court in front of the altar, so that no layman could come farther (Josephus, Ant, XIII, xiii, 5). The courts were colonnaded (Ant., XI, iv, 7; XIV, xvi, 2), and, with the house, had numerous chambers (compare Nehemiah 12:44; 13:4, etc.).

A brief contemporary description of this Temple and its worship is given in Aristeas, 83-104. This writer's interest, however, was absorbed chiefly by the devices for carrying away the sacrificial blood and by the technique of the officiating priests.

§4. Later Fortunes:  The vicissitudes of this temple in its later history are vividly recorded in 1 Maccabees and in Josephus. In Ecclesiasticus 50 is given a glimpse of a certain Simon, son of Onias, who repaired the temple, and a striking picture is furnished of the magnificence of the worship in his time. The desecration and pillaging of the sanctuary by Antiochus, and its cleansing and restoration under Judas are alluded to above (see HASMONEANS; MACCABAEUS). At length Judea became an integral part of the Roman empire. In 66 BC Pompey, having taken the temple-hill, entered the most holy place, but kept his hands off the temple-treasures (Ant., XIV, iv, 4). Some years later Crassus carried away everything of value he could find (Ant., XIV, vii, 1). The people revolted, but Rome remained victorious. This brings us to the time of Herod, who was nominated king of Judea by Rome in 39 BC, but did not attain actual power until two years later.



§1. Initiation of the Work:  Herod became king de facto by the capture of Jerusalem in 37 BC. Some years later he built the fortress Antonia to the North of the temple (before 31 BC). Midway in his reign, assigning a religious motive for his purpose, he formed the project of rebuilding the temple itself on a grander scale (Josephus gives conflicting dates; in Ant, XV, xi, 1, he says "in his 18th year"; in BJ, I, xxi, 1, he names his 15th year; the latter date, as Schurer suggests (GJV4, I 369), may refer to the extensive preparations). To allay the distrust of his subjects, he undertook that the materials for the new building should be collected before the old was taken down; he likewise trained 1,000 priests to be masons and carpenters for work upon the sanctuary; 10,000 skilled workmen altogether were employed upon the task. The building was commenced in 20-19 BC. The naos, or temple proper, was finished in a year and a half, but it took 8 years to complete the courts and cloisters. The total erection occupied a much longer time (compare John 2:20, "Forty and six years," etc.); indeed the work was not entirely completed till 64 AD-6 years before its destruction by the Romans.

§2. Its Grandeur:  Built of white marble, covered with heavy plates of gold in front and rising high above its marble-cloistered courts--themselves a succession of terraces--the temple, compared by Josephus to a snow-covered mountain (BJ, V, v, 6), was a conspicuous and dazzling object from every side. The general structure is succinctly described by G. A. Smith:

"Herod's temple consisted of a house divided like its predecessor into the Holy of Holies, and the Holy Place; a porch; an immediate fore-court with an altar of burnt offering; a Court of Israel; in front of this a Court of Women; and round the whole of the preceding, a Court of the Gentiles" (Jerusalem, II, 502). On the "four courts," compare Josephus, Apion, II, viii.

§3. Authorities:  The original authorities on Herod's temple are chiefly the descriptions in Josephus (Ant., XV, xi, 3, 5; BJ, V, v, etc.), and the tractate Middoth in the Mishna. The data in these authorities, however, do not always agree. The most helpful modern descriptions, with plans, will be found, with differences in details, in Keil, Biblical Archaeology, I, 187; in Fergusson, Temples of the Jews; in the articles "Temple" in HDB (T. Witton Davies) and Encyclopedia Biblica (G. H. Box); in the important series of papers by A. R. S. Kennedy in The Expository Times (vol XX), "Some Problems of Herod's Temple" (compare his article "Temple" in one-vol DB); in Sanday's Sacred Sites of the Gospels (Waterhouse); latterly in G. A. Smith, Jerusalem, II, 499.

§4. Measurements:  Differences of opinion continue as to the sacred cubit. A. R. S. Kennedy thinks the cubit can be definitely fixed at 17,6 inches. (Expostory Times, XX, 24); G. A. Smith reckons it at 20,67 inches. (Jerusalem, II, 504); T. Witton Davies estimates it at about 18 in. (HDB, IV, 713), etc. W. S. Caldecott takes the cubit of Josephus and the Middoth to be 1 1/5 ft. It will suffice in this sketch to treat the cubit, as before, as approximately equivalent to 18 inches.

II.  The Temple and Its Courts.

§1. Temple Area--Court of Gentiles:  Josephus states that the area of Herod's temple was double that of its predecessor (BJ, I, xxi, 1). The Mishna (Mid., ii.2) gives the area as 500 cubits (roughly 750 ft.); Josephus (Ant., XV, xi, 3) gives it as a stadium (about 600 Greek ft.); but neither measure is quite exact. It is generally agreed that on its east, west and south sides Herod's area corresponded pretty nearly with the limits of the present Haram area (see JERUSALEM), but that it did not extend as far North as the latter (Kennedy states the difference at about 26 as compared with 35 acres, and makes the whole perimeter to be about 1,420 yards, ut supra, 66). The shape was an irregular oblong, broader at the North than at the South. The whole was surrounded by a strong wall, with several gates, the number and position of some of which are still matters of dispute. Josephus mentions four gates on the West (Ant., XV, xi, 5), the principal of which, named in Mid., i.3, "the gate of Kiponos," was connected by a bridge across the Tyropoeon with the city (where now is Wilson's Arch). The same authority speaks of two gates on the South. These are identified with the "Huldah" (mole) gates of the Mishna--the present Double and Triple Gates--which, opening low down in the wall, slope up in tunnel fashion into the interior of the court. The Mishna puts a gate also on the north and one on the east side. The latter may be represented by the modern Golden Gate--a Byzantine structure, now built up. This great court--known later as the "Court of the Gentiles," because open to everyone--was adorned with splendid porticos or cloisters. The colonnade on the south side--known as the Royal Porch--was specially magnificent. It consisted of four rows of monolithic marble columns--162 in all--with Corinthian capitals, forming three aisles, of which the middle was broader and double the height of the other two. The roofing was of carved cedar. The north, west, and east sides had only double colonnades. That on the east side was the "Solomon's Porch" of the New Testament (John 10:23; Acts 3:11; 5:19). There were also chambers for officials, and perhaps a place of meeting for the Sanhedrin (beth din) (Josephus places this elsewhere). In the wide spaces of this court took place the buying and selling described in the Gospels (Matthew 21:12 and parallel's; John 2:13).

§2. Inner Sanctuary Inclosure:

(1) Wall, "Chel," "Coregh," Gates. In the upper or northerly part of this large area, on a much higher level, bounded likewise by a wall, was a second or inner enclosure--the "sanctuary" in the stricter sense (Josephus, BJ, V, v, 2)--comprising the court of the women, the court of Israeland the priests' court, with the temple itself (Josephus, Ant, XV, xi, 5). The surrounding wall, according to Josephus (BJ, V, v, 2), was 40 cubits high on the outside, and 25 on the inside--a difference of 15 cubits; its thickness was 5 cubits. Since, however, the inner courts were considerably higher than the court of the women, the difference in height may have been some cubits less in the latter than in the former (compare the different measurements in Kennedy, ut supra, 182), a fact which may explain the difficulty felt as to the number of the steps in the ascent (see below). Round the wall without, at least on three sides (some except the West), at a height of 12 (Mid.) or 14 (Jos) steps, was an embankment or terrace, known as the chel (fortification), 10 cubits broad (Mid. says 6 cubits high), and enclosing the whole was a low balustrade or stone parapet (Josephus says 3 cubits high) called the coregh, to which were attached at intervals tablets with notices in Greek and Latin, prohibiting entry to foreigners on pain of death (see PARTITION, THE MIDDLE WALL OF). From within the coregh ascent was made to the level of the chel by the steps aforesaid, and five steps more led up to the gates (the reckoning is probably to the lower level of the women's court). Nine gates, with two-storied gatehouses "like towers" (Josephus, BJ, V, v, 3), are mentioned, four on the North, four on the South, and one on the East--the last probably to be identified, though this is still disputed (Waterhouse, etc.), with the "Gate of Nicanor" (Mid.), or "Corinthian Gate" (Jos), which is undoubtedly "the Beautiful Gate" of Acts 3:2,10 (see for identification, Kennedy, ut supra, 270). This principal gate received its names from being the gift of a wealthy Alexandrian Jew, Nicanor, and from its being made of Corinthian brass. It was of great size--50 cubits high and 40 cubits wide--and was richly adorned, its brass glittering like gold (Mid., ii.3). See BEAUTIFUL GATE. The other gates were covered with gold and silver (Josephus, BJ, V, v, 3).

(2) Court of the Women. The eastern gate, approached from the outside by 12 steps (Mid., ii.3; Maimonides), admitted into the court of the women, so called because it was accessible to women as well as to men. Above its single colonnades were galleries reserved for the use of women. Its dimensions are given in the Mishna as 135 cubits square (Mid., ii.5), but this need not be precise. At its four corners were large roofless rooms for storage and other purposes. Near the pillars of the colonnades were 13 trumpet-shaped boxes for receiving the money-offerings of the people (compare the incident of the widow's mite, Mark 12:41; Luke 21:1); for which reason, and because this court seems to have been the place of deposit of the temple-treasures generally, it bore the name "treasury" (gazophulakion, John 8:20). See TREASURY.

(3) Inner Courts: Court of Israel, Court of the Priests: From the women's court, the ascent was made by 15 semicircular steps (Mid., ii.5; on these steps the Levites chanted, and beneath them their instruments were kept) to the inner court, comprising, at different levels, the court of Israel and the court of the priests. Here, again, at the entrance, was a lofty, richly ornamented gate, which some, as said, prefer to regard as the Gate of Nicanor or Beautiful Gate. Probably, however, the view above taken, which places this gate at the outer entrance, is correct. The Mishna gives the total dimensions of the inner court as 187 cubits long (East to West) and 135 cubits wide (Mid., ii.6; v.1). Originally the court was one, but disturbances in the time of Alexander Janneus (104-78 BC) led, as formerly told, to the greater part being railed off for the exclusive use of the priests (Josephus, Ant, XIII, xiii, 5). In the Mishna the name "court of the priests" is used in a restricted sense to denote the space--11 cubits--between the altar and "the court of Israel" (see the detailed measurements in Mid., v.1). The latter--"the court of Israel"--2 1/2 cubits lower than "the court of the priests," and separated from it by a pointed fence, was likewise a narrow strip of only 11 cubits (Mid., ii.6; v.1). Josephus, with more probability, carries the 11 cubits of the "court of Israel" round the whole of the temple-court (BJ, V, vi). Waterhouse (Sacred Sites, 112) thinks 11 cubits too small for a court of male Israelites, and supposes a much larger enclosure, but without warrant in the authorities (compare Kennedy, ut supra, 183; G. A. Smith, Jerusalem, II, 508).

(4) The Altar, etc. In the priests' court the principal object was the great altar of burnt offering, situated on the old site--the Sakhra--immediately in front of the porch of the temple (at 22 cubits distance--the space "between the temple and the altar" of Matthew 23:35). The altar, according to the Mishna (Mid., iii.1), was 32 cubits square, and, like Ezekiel's, rose in stages, each diminishing by a cubit:

one of 1 cubit in height, three of 5 cubits, which, with deduction of another cubit for the priests to walk on, left a square of 24 cubits at the top. It had four horns. Josephus, on the other hand, gives 50 cubits for the length and breadth, and 15 cubits for the height of the altar (BJ, V, v, 6)--his reckoning perhaps including a platform (a cubit high?) from which the height is taken (see ALTAR). The altar was built of unhewn stones, and had on the South a sloping ascent of like material, 32 cubits in length and 16 in width. Between temple and altar, toward the South, stood the "laver" for the priests. In the court, on the north side, were rings, hooks, and tables, for the slaughtering, flaying and suspending of the sacrificial victims.

§3. The Temple Building:

(1) House and Porch. Yet another flight of 12 steps, occupying most of the space between the temple-porch and the altar, led up to the platform (6 cubits high) on which stood the temple itself. This magnificent structure, built, as said before, of blocks of white marble, richly ornamented with gold on front and sides, exceeded in dimensions and splendor all previous temples. The numbers in the Mishna and in Josephus are in parts discrepant, but the general proportions can readily be made out. The building with its platform rose to the height of 100 cubits (150 ft.; the 120 cubits in Josephus, Ant, XV, xi, 3, is a mistake), and was 60 cubits (90 ft.) wide. It was fronted by a porch of like height, but with wings extending 20 cubits (30 ft.) on each side of the temple, making the total breadth of the vestibule 100 cubits (150 ft.) also. The depth of the porch was 10 or 11 cubits; probably at the wings 20 cubits (Jos). The entrance, without doors, was 70 cubits high and 25 cubits wide (Mid. makes 40 cubits high and 20 wide). Above it Herod placed a golden eagle, which the Jews afterward pulled down (Ant., XVII, vi, 3). The porch was adorned with gold.

(2) "Hekhal" and "Debhir". Internally, the temple was divided, as before, into a holy place (hekhal) and a most holy (debhir)--the former measuring, as in Solomon's Temple, 40 cubits (60 ft.) in length, and 20 cubits (30 ft.) in breadth; the height, however, was double that of the older Temple--60 cubits (90 ft.; thus Keil, etc., following Josephus, BJ, V, v, 5). Mid., iv.6, makes the height only 40 cubits; A. R. S. Kennedy and G. A. Smith make the debhir a cube--20 cubits in height only. In the space that remained above the holy places, upper rooms (40 cubits) were erected. The holy place was separated from the holiest by a partition one cubit in thickness, before which hung an embroidered curtain or "veil"--that which was rent at the death of Jesus (Matthew 27:51 and parallel's; Mid., iv.7, makes two veils, with a space of a cubit between them). The Holy of Holies was empty; only a stone stood, as in the temple of Zerubbabel, on which the high priest placed his censer on the Day of Atonement (Mishna, Yoma', v.2). In the holy place were the altar of incense, the table of shewbread (North), and the seven-branched golden candlestick (South). Representations of the two latter are seen in the carvings on the Arch of Titus (see SHEWBREAD, TABLE OF; CANDLESTICK, THE GOLDEN). The spacious entrance to the holy place had folding doors, before which hung a richly variegated Babylonian curtain. Above the entrance was a golden vine with clusters as large as a man (Josephus, Ant, XV, xi, 3; BJ, V, v, 4).

(3) The Side-Chambers. The walls of the temple appear to have been 5 cubits thick, and against these, on the North, West, and South, were built, as in Solomon's Temple, side-chambers in three stories, 60 cubits in height, and 10 cubits in width (the figures, however, are uncertain), which, with the outer walls, made the entire breadth of the house 60 or 70 cubits. Mid., iv.3, gives the number of the chambers as 38 in all. The roof, which Keil speaks of as "sloping" (Bib. Archaeology, I, 199), had gilded spikes to keep off the birds. A balustrade surrounded it 3 cubits high. Windows are not mentioned, but there would doubtless be openings for light into the holy place from above the sidechambers.

III.  New Testament Associations of Herod's Temple.

§1. Earlier Incidents:  Herod's temple figures so prominently in New Testament history that it is not necessary to do more than refer to some of the events of which it was the scene. It was here, before the incense altar, that the aged Zacharias had the vision which assured him that he should not die childless (Luke 1:11). Here, in the women's court, or treasury, on the presentation by Mary, the infant Jesus was greeted by Simeon and Anna (Luke 2:27). In His 12th year the boy Jesus amazed the temple rabbis by His understanding and answers (Luke 2:46).

§2. Jesus in the Temple:  The chronological sequence of the Fourth Gospel depends very much upon the visits of Jesus to the temple at the great festivals (see JESUS CHRIST). At the first of these occurred the cleansing of the temple-court--the court of the Gentiles--from the dealers that profaned it (John 2:13), an incident repeated at the close of the ministry (Matthew 21:12 and parallel's). When the Jews, on the first occasion, demanded a sign, Jesus spoke of the temple of His body as being destroyed and raised up in three days (John 2:19), eliciting their retort, "Forty and six years was this temple in building," etc. (John 2:20). This may date the occurrence about 27 AD. At the second cleansing He not only drove out the buyers and sellers, but would not allow anyone to carry anything through this part of the temple (Mark 11:15-17). In Joh His zeal flamed out because it was His Father's house; in Mk, because it was a house of prayer for all nations (compare Isaiah 56:7). With this non-exclusiveness agrees the word of Jesus to the woman of Samaria:

"The hour cometh, when neither in this mountain (in Samaria), nor in Jerusalem, shall ye worship the Father" (John 4:21). During the two years following His first visit, Jesus repeatedly, at festival times, walked in the temple-courts, and taught and disputed with the Jews. We find Him in John 5 at "a feast" (Passover or Purim?); in John 7; 8, at "the feast of tabernacles," where the temple-police were sent to apprehend Him (7:32,45), and where He taught "in the treasury" (8:20); in John 10:22, at "the feast of the dedication" in winter, walking in "Solomon's Porch." His teaching on these occasions often started from some familiar temple scene--the libations of water carried by the priests to be poured upon the altar (John 7:37), the proselytes (Greeks even) in the great portico (John 12:20), etc. Of course Jesus, not being of the priestly order, never entered the sanctuary; His teaching took place in the several courts open to laymen, generally in the "treasury" (see John 8:20).

§3. The Passion-Week:  The first days of the closing week of the life of Jesus--the week commencing with the Triumphal Entry--were spent largely in the temple. Here He spoke many parables (Mt 21; 22 and parallel's); here He delivered His tremendous arraignment of the Pharisees (Mt 23 and parallel's); here, as He "sat down over against the treasury," He beheld the people casting in their gifts, and praised the poor widow who cast in her two mites above all who cast in of their abundance (Mark 12:41 and parallel's). It was on the evening of His last day in the temple that His disciples drew His attention to "the goodly stones and offerings" (gifts for adornment) of the building (Luke 21:5 and parallel's) and heard from His lips the astonishing announcement that the days were coming--even in that generation--in which there should not be left one stone upon another (Luke 21:6 and parallel's). The prediction was fulfilled to the letter in the destruction of the temple by the Romans in 70 AD.

§4. Apostolic Church:  Seven weeks after the crucifixion the Pentecost of Acts 2 was observed. The only place that fulfils the topographical conditions of the great gatherings is Solomon's Porch. The healing of the lame man (Acts 3:1) took place at the "door .... called Beautiful" of the temple, and the multitude after the healing ran together into "Solomon's Porch" or portico (Acts 3:11). Where also were the words of Luke 24:53, they "were continually in the temple, blessing God," and after Pentecost (Acts 2:46), "day by day, continuing stedfastly .... in the temple," etc., so likely to be fulfilled? For long the apostles continued the methods of their Master in daily teaching in the temple (Acts 4:1). Many years later, when Paul visited Jerusalem for the last time, he was put in danger of his life from the myriads of Jewish converts "all zealous for the law" (Acts 21:20), who accused him of profaning the temple by bringing Greeks into its precincts, i.e. within the coregh (Acts 21:28-30). But Christianity had now begun to look farther afield than the temple. Stephen, and after him Saul, who became Paul, preached that "the Most High dwelleth not in houses made with hands" (Acts 7:48; 17:24), though Paul himself attended the temple for ceremonial and other purposes (Acts 21:26).

§5. The Temple in Christian Thought:  From the time that the temple ceased to exist, the Talmud took its place in Jewish estimation; but it is in Christianity rather than in Judaism that the temple has a perpetual existence. The New Testament writers make no distinction between one temple and another. It is the idea rather than the building which is perpetuated in Christian teaching. The interweaving of temple associations with Christian thought and life runs through the whole New Testament. Jesus Himself supplied the germ for this development in the word He spoke concerning the temple of His body (John 2:19,21). Paul, notwithstanding all he had suffered from Jews and Jewish Christians, remained saturated with Jewish ideas and modes of thought. In one of his earliest Epistles he recognizes the "Jerus that is above" as "the mother of us all" (Galatians 4:26 the King James Version). In another, the "man of sin" is sitting "in the temple of God" (2 Thessalonians 2:4). The collective church (1 Corinthians 3:16,17), but also the individual believer (1 Corinthians 6:19), is a temple. One notable passage shows how deep was the impression made upon Paul's mind by the incident connected with Trophimus the Ephesian (Acts 21:29). That "middle wall of partition" which so nearly proved fatal to him then was no longer to be looked for in the Christian church (Ephesians 2:14), which was "a holy temple" in the Lord (Ephesians 2:21). It is naturally in the Epistle to the Hebrews that we have the fullest exposition of ideas connected with the temple, although here the form of allusion is to the tabernacle rather than the temple (see TABERNACLE; compare Westcott on Hebrews, 233). The sanctuary and all it included were but representations of heavenly things. Finally, in Revelation, the vision is that of the heavenly temple itself (11:19). But the church--professing Christendom?--is a temple measured by God's command (11:1,2). The climax is reached in 21:22-23:

"I saw no temple therein (i.e. in the holy city): for the Lord God the Almighty, and the Lamb, are the temple thereof .... and the lamp thereof is the Lamb." Special ordinances are altogether superseded.


In general on the temples see Keil, Biblical Archaeology, I, in which the older literature is mentioned; Fergusson, Temples of the Jews; Comms. on K, Chronicles, Ezr, Neh, and Ezk; articles in the dicts. and encs (DB, HDB, EB); G. A. Smith, Jerusalem and similar works. On Solomon's Temple, compare Benzinger, Heb. Archaologie. On Ezekiel's temple, see Skinner's "Book of Ezekiel" in Expositor's Bible. On Zerubbabel's temple, compare W. Shaw Caldecott, The Second Temple in Jerusalem. The original authorities on Herod's temple are chiefly Josephus, Ant, XV, xi, and BJ, V, v; and the Mishna, Middoth, ii (this section of the Middoth, from Barclay's Talmud, may be seen in App. I of Fergusson's work above named). The German literature is very fully given in Schurer, HJP, I, 1, 438 (GJV4, I, 392 f). See also the articles of A. R. S. Kennedy in Expository Times, XX, referred to above, and P. Waterhouse, in Sanday, Sacred Sites of the Gospels, 106. On symbolism, compare Westcott, Hebrews, 233. See also articles in this Encyclopedia on parts, furniture, and utensils of the temple, under their several headings.

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