The Word Made Fresh
1Solomon then prepared to build the temple of the LORD in Jerusalem on Mt. Moriah where the LORD had appeared to his father David, the place David had designated for the house of the LORD on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite. 2Construction began in the fourth year of his reign, in the second month on the second day. 3The foundation was ninety feet long and thirty feet wide according to the standard measurements used at the time. 4The entryway to the front of the temple was the width of the foundation and thirty feet deep and one hundred eighty feet tall. The interior was overlaid with gold. 5The front part of the sanctuary was lined with cypress and covered with gold. Palms and chains were imprinted on it. 6The building was decorated with settings of precious stones. The gold used in the building was from Parvaim. 7He had the house lined with gold; the beams, the thresholds, the walls, and doors. He had cherubim carved on the walls.
8The innermost holy room was thirty feet long and wide, overlaid with twenty-three tons of fine gold. 9The gold nails weighed one and a quarter pounds each. The upper chambers were overlaid with gold as well.
10The inner sanctuary contained two carved cherubim plated with gold. 11Their wings together spanned thirty feet; the wingtip of the first that touched the wall was seven and a half feet long and the wingtip that touched the other cherubim’s wingtip was also seven and a half feet long. 12The second cherubim’s wings were the same span, one touching the opposite wall and the other touching the first cherubim’s wingtip. 13Their wings together spanned thirty feet. They stood on their feet facing the entrance. 14Solomon had the curtain made from blue, purple, and crimson yard and fine linen, with images of cherubim worked into it.
15In front of the temple he erected two pillars, each fifty-two feet tall, with capitals each seven and a half feet tall crowning both. 16He had chains made to encircle the tops of the pillars, and the chains were adorned with one hundred pomegranates. 17The pillars were erected, one on the right and one on the left of the temple entrance. He called the one on the right Jachin and the one on the left Boaz.
1-7: The description of Solomon’s temple here differs in some respects from the description given in 1 Kings 6. The overall dimensions are 90 feet long by 30 feet wide. The height of the vestibule, or entry hall, is the most questionable part of the information given here. The earlier account in 1 Kings gives its height as 45 feet tall; here it is said to be 180 feet tall! Considering that it is only 30 feet wide and 15 feet deep, the height is really not believable, especially since the main part of the temple, the nave, is only 45 feet tall (1 Kings 6:2).
8-9: The most holy place is built within the sanctuary, 30 feet by 30 feet, completely covered in gold.
10-14: The giant cherubim are really remarkable. They are made of olive wood, 15 feet tall (according to 1 Kings 6:23) and overlaid with gold. Their wings stretch from one wall to the other. The curtains separating the most holy place from the nave is made of blue, purple and crimson yarn woven together with fine linen, with images of cherubim woven into it.
15-17: Two massive pillars are erected in front of the temple, each one about 60 feet high counting the capitals (see 1 Kings 7:15-21 where they are cast in bronze, but are only about 35 feet tall altogether). The chronicler’s dimensions have them standing 15 feet taller than the nave and they seem to serve the same purpose as the steeples of today; as a visible locator so the temple can be spotted from a distance. They are named Jachin and Boaz, though no explanation is given for the names. Boaz was, of course, married to Ruth and was a great-great grandfather to Solomon. The name Jachin appears a number of times, but there is no clear family connection. Jachin is on the right, or south, side and Boaz on the left, or north side of the entrance (1 Kings 7:21). Thus the entrance to the temple is facing to the west, with the most holy place and the ark of the covenant in the extreme eastern end, an arrangement that is still often followed in the construction of churches today.
Solomon’s temple was built as an elaborate tribute to God. Synagogues, mosques and churches today follow that example and are erected not just to house a congregation and religious rituals, but to honor God with symbolic details of construction and interior design. Christian churches typically have a vestibule, an altar table, stained glass windows depicting various Biblical themes, and so forth. Next time you’re in worship, try to identify some of the features in the room that echo Biblical passages.