The House of the Lord/Chapter 2

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As understood and applied herein, the designation "temple" is restricted to mean an actual structure, reared by man, hallowed and sanctified for the special service of Deity, such service including the authoritative administration of ordinances pertaining to the Holy Priesthood, and not merely a place, however sacred the spot may have become. If sacred places were to be classed with sacred buildings as essentially temples, the category would include many a holy Bethel rarely considered as such. In the more extended application of the term, the Garden in Eden was the first sanctuary of earth, for therein did the Lord first speak unto man and make known the Divine law. So too, Sinai became a sanctuary, for the mount was consecrated as the special abode of the Lord while He communed with the prophet, and issued His decrees. The sanctity of such places was as that of Horeb, where God spake unto Moses from the midst of the flame; and where, as the man approached he was halted by the command: "Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground."[1] A temple, however, is characterized not alone as the place where God reveals Himself to man, but also as the House wherein prescribed ordinances of the Priesthood are solemnized.

the "testimony"

Prior to the construction of the Tabernacle in the wilderness, and indeed during the early stages of the memorable journey from Egypt, the people of Israel had a certain depository for sacred things, known as the Testimony. This is definitely mentioned in connection with the following incident. Under Divine direction a vessel of manna was to be preserved, lest the people forget the power and goodness of God, by which they had been fed:

"And Moses said, This is the thing which the Lord commandeth, Fill an omer of it to be kept for your generations; that they may see the bread wherewith I have fed you in the wilderness, when I brought you forth from the land of Egypt.

"And Moses said unto Aaron, Take a pot, and put an omer full of manna therein, and lay it up before the Lord, to be kept for your generations.

"As the Lord commanded Moses, so Aaron laid it up before the Testimony, to be kept.[2]

There appears little room for doubt that the Testimony here referred to was a material structure, and that its name is suggestive of Divine witness as to its sacred character. Inasmuch as the account of the exodus contains no mention of the making of such a structure, and moreover as its existence and use were definitely affirmed before the people had had time or opportunity to shape it in the wilderness, it would seem that they must have brought the sacred Testimony with them from Egypt. This incident is of interest and importance as indicating the existence of a holy sanctuary during the formative Stages of Israel's growth as a nation, and while the people were in subjection to idolatrous rulers. This application of the term Testimony must not be confused with later usage by which the tables of stone bearing the divinely inscribed Decalogue are so designated.[3] It is to be noted further that the Tabernacle, wherein was housed the Ark of the Covenant containing the sacred tables of stone, is distinctively called the Tabernacle of Testimony. These several uses of the term lead to no ambiguity if the context be duly considered in each case.


While Moses communed with the Lord on Sinai, the people, left for a time to themselves, set up a golden calf in imitation of Apis, an Egyptian idol; and in consequence of their idolatrous orgies, the Lord's anger was kindled against them. During the period of their consequent estrangement, before a reconciliation had been effected between Jehovah and His people. Divine manifestations ceased within the camp and only afar off could the Lord be found. In connection with this condition we read of the establishment of a temporary place of meeting—possibly the dwelling tent of Moses, which became sanctified by the Divine Presence. Thus runs the record:

"And Moses took the tabernacle, and pitched it without the camp, afar off from the camp, and called it the Tabernacle of the congregation. And it came to pass, that every one which sought the Lord went out into the tabernacle of the congregation, which was without the camp.

"And it came to pass, when Moses went out unto the tabernacle, that all the people rose up, and stood every man at his tent door, and looked after Moses, until he was gone into the tabernacle.

"And it came to pass, as Moses entered into the tabernacle, the cloudy pillar descended, and stood at the door of the tabernacle, and the Lord talked with Moses.

"And all the people saw the cloudy pillar stand at the tabernacle door: and all the people rose up and worshipped, every man in his tent door.

"And the Lord spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend. And he turned again into the camp: but his servant Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, departed not out of the tabernacle."[4]

That the tent here called the Tabernacle of the Congregation[5] is not the elaborate and costly structure specially built as the Lord directed, is evident from the fact that the greater and more enduring Tabernacle had not been constructed at the time referred to in the scripture last cited. Unlike the later Tabernacle, which was set up in the center of the camp with the tribes massed about it in specified order, this Provisional Tabernacle was pitched outside the camp—afar off—perhaps as an indication of the Lord's withdrawal following Israel's idolatrous turning away from Him. That the Provisional Tabernacle was, however, a holy sanctuary is attested by the personal communion therein between Jehovah and His servant Moses.


From amidst the clouds, and to the accompaniments of thunders and lightnings on Sinai, the Lord gave unto Moses the law and the testimony. Not alone did Moses there talk with the Lord in person, but by Divine command, Aaron and his sons Nadab and Abihii, together with seventy of the elders of Israel, went up upon the mountain and did see God, even the God of Israel. Over Sinai the glory of the Lord abode for many days: "And Moses went into the midst of the cloud, and gat him up into the mount; and Moses was in the mount forty days and forty nights."[6]

When he descended Moses bore with him the commission to call upon the children of Israel for contributions and offerings of their substance and all their precious things, such as would be suitable for the construction of a sanctuary for service in the wilderness.

"And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,

"Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring me an offering: of every man that giveth it willingly with his heart ye shall take my offering.

"And this is the offering which ye shall take of them; gold, and silver, and brass,

"And blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen, and goats' hair,

"And rams' skins dyed red, and badgers' skins, and shittim wood,

"Oil for the light, spices for anointing oil, and for sweet incense,

"Onyx stones, and stones to be set in the ephod, and in the breastplate.

"And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them.

"According to all that I shew thee, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it."[7]

The response of the people was so liberal and prompt that a surplus of material was soon amassed.

"And they spake unto Moses, saying, The people bring much more than enough for the service of the work, which the Lord commanded to make.

"And Moses gave commandment, and they caused it to be proclaimed throughout the camp, saying, Let neither man nor woman make any more work for the offering of the sanctuary. So the people were restrained from bringing.

"For the stuff they had was sufficient for all the work to make it, and too much."[8]

Divine direction was manifest in the appointment of men who should be in charge of the labor. Bezaleel, the son of Uri, and Aholiab, the son of Ahisamach, were designated by revelation as the master craftsmen under whose direction the other workers should labor until all had been finished in direct accord with the revealed pattern and plan. And when so finished it was the embodiment of the best in material and workmanship.

The Tabernacle stood in an outer enclosure or court, walled in by canvas screens with entrance curtains finely embroidered. The curtains that formed the walls of the court were suspended from pillars, which stood at intervals along the sides of an oblong. The longer walls ran east and west, with the main entrance to the enclosure on the eastern side. Of the two squares within the curtains, the easterly was reserved for assemblies of the people, while the square to the west constituted the more sacred area pertaining to the Tabernacle itself.

The entire space so enclosed covered one hundred cubits east and west and fifty cubits north and south, or approximately one hundred and fifty feet by seventy-five feet.[9] In the easterly section, and therefore removed from the Tabernacle, stood the altar of burnt-offerings. Between the altar and the Tabernacle stood the laver; this was a large vessel of brass standing upon a pedestal and containing water for the ceremonial cleansing of the hands and feet of the priests. It is interesting to note that the laver and its supporting pedestal were made by special contribution of the women, who gave their brazen mirrors for this purpose. The Tabernacle stood with its longer axis east and west, and with its entrance on the easterly side. The structure was but thirty cubits long by ten cubits broad, or forty-five by fifteen feet; these are the dimensions given by Josephus, and they are practically in accord with the description in Exodus, which states that the walls comprised twenty boards on a side, each board one and a half cubits wide; at the west end there were six boards, each one and a half cubits wide or nine cubits in all; these with the angle posts would make the entire breadth equal to that given by Josephus, ten cubits. The boards of the walls were held together by tenon-joints having sockets of silver, two to each board; the boards themselves were overlaid with gold and were provided with rings of the same metal to receive the bars, which also were overlaid with gold.

It will be seen that the Tabernacle was but a small structure, entirely unsuited to the accommodation of large assemblies, but it is to be remembered that for such it was never intended. Within the Tabernacle, only the appointed bearers of the Priesthood officiated; and of these none but the few actually engaged in the service of the day could be admitted.

The Tabernacle was divided by a curtain, specifically called the Veil, into two compartments, the outer of which was known as the Holy Place, and the inner as the Most Holy Place or Holy of Holies. Josephus and some others state that the Tabernacle comprised three parts; the third division, however, was really outside the main tent and appeared as a porch at the east end, five cubits deep, and extending across the entire front. The Veil, which separated the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies, was of fine workmanship, "of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen of cunning work," and was embroidered with cherubim. It was hung upon four pillars of wood overlaid with gold; the hooks were of gold and the sockets of silver. The wood used for these pillars, as indeed that used in other parts of the structure, was the rare, costly, and durable shittim or acacia, sometimes known as thorn-wood. Beyond the Veil the enclosure was most holy, and therein was placed the Ark of the Covenant with its Mercy Seat bearing the sacred cherubim, the description of which appears in the record as follows:

"And Bezaleel made the ark of shittim wood: two cubits and a half was the length of it, and a cubit and a half the breadth of it, and a cubit and a half the height of it:

"And he overlaid it with pure gold within and without, and made a crown of gold to it round about.

"And he cast for it four rings of gold, to be set by the four corners of it; even two rings upon the one side of it, and two rings upon the other side of it.

"And he made staves of shittim wood, and overlaid them with gold.

"And he put the staves into the rings by the sides of the ark, to bear the ark.

"And he made the mercy seat of pure gold: two cubits and a half was the length thereof, and one cubit and a half the breadth thereof.

"And he made two cherubims of gold, beaten out of one piece made he them, on the two ends of the mercy seat:

"One cherub on the end on this side, and another cherub on the other end on that side: out of the mercy seat made he the cherubims on the two ends thereof.

"And the cherubims spread out their wings on high, and covered with their wings over the mercy seat, with their faces one to another; even to the mercy seatward were the faces of the cherubims."[10]

Outside the Veil, yet within the Tabernacle, was the Holy Place; in this were placed the table of shewbread, the altar of incense, and the golden seven-branched candlestick.[11]

The rich fabrics of delicate workmanship forming the walls and roof of the Tabernacle were protected by coarser hangings of goats' hair, and these in turn by a covering of skins. The structure as completed is referred to in the scripture sometimes as the Tent of the Congregation and at others as the Tabernacle of the Congregation; the former expression occurs thirteen times, the latter one hundred and thirty-three times; yet notwithstanding this difference, the original in each case was Ohel Moed, the best authenticated translation of which is the Tent of Meeting. Let it not be supposed, however, that this means in the ordinary sense a meeting-house, for the meeting here expressed is not that of a concourse of worshippers, but the place of communion between God and His Priesthood. The Tent of Meeting, or the Tabernacle of the Congregation, in Israel, was the Lord's tent wherein He met the authorized representatives of His people.

On the first day of the second year following Israel's exodus from Egypt, the Tabernacle was set up for the first time, and all the sacred furniture was disposed according to the direct commands of the Lord. The veil was hung, and the place was consecrated as a most holy spot, ineffably sacred as the dwelling place of Jehovah. Then, even as on Sinai a cloud had shrouded the temporary abiding place of God, so was it with the Tabernacle:

"Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.

"And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation, because the cloud abode thereon and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.

"And when the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the children of Israel went onward in all their journeys:

"But if the cloud were not taken up, then they journeyed not till the day that it was taken up.

"For the cloud of the Lord was upon the tabernacle by day, and fire was on it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys."[12]

The all-pervading and all-controlling thought in the erection of this portable sanctuary was that of expressing the close association between Jehovah and His people. The people were to consider themselves specifically the people of God, and amongst them should be His dwelling, surpassing in a transcendent degree the presence of the gods of wood and stone housed among the idolatrous nations with whom Israel had to contend. This thought was expressed in the earliest commandment respecting the building of the Tabernacle: "And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them."[13]

Even more truly indispensable than Tabernacle or Temple, in the maintenance of close relationship with Deity, is the Priesthood. It was therefore to be expected that with the establishment of a holy sanctuary, appointments and ordinations should be made whereby men would be truly set apart to the sacred offices of the Priesthood. While Moses was the great high priest of Israel, standing at the head of a distinctive dispensation of Divine authority and power, there were many priestly functions pertaining to the less exalted orders, and unto these Aaron and his four sons, Nadab, Abihu, Eleazer, and Ithamar, were set apart. As the Tabernacle had been built under express direction extending even into minute detail, so the ministrations of the Priesthood were prescribed and the order of worship was established, whereby the people should be reminded that amongst them dwelt Jehovah, before whom they should set none other gods.[14]

The Tabernacle was prepared primarily for migratory service; its parts therefore were separately finished and so fitted as to permit of easy putting together or taking apart. When set up within its court, the Tabernacle occupied the place of honor in the center of the camp. On the east, and therefore immediately before the entrance to the court, were the tents of the Priests; while on the other three sides the Levites were encamped. These, being closest in attendance have been likened to the body-guard of the Great King[15] whose throne was within the sanctuary; and beyond them were stationed the other tribes in order of established precedence. While dismantled and in transit, when the people were on the march, the Tabernacle still held the central place; its bearers were the Levites, and the whole army of Israel was its guard.

Until Israel had become permanently established in the land of promise, the Tabernacle of the Congregation had but temporary resting places. As the people moved the sanctuary was carried, until it found a somewhat more permanent home at Shiloh. There, at the door of the Tabernacle, the final apportionment of Canaan among the tribes was made.[16] There it remained during the period of the Judges, and until after the Ark of God had been allowed to pass from the custody of Israel to that of the Philistines, because of sin.[17] The glory of the sanctuary was largely lost, and though the Tabernacle continued in existence its sacred service was in abeyance. Sadly was the truth declared, "The glory is departed from Israel: for the ark of God is taken."[18] There is evidence that for a short time during the reign of Saul, the Tabernacle was established at Nob; for there we find the priest Ahimelech maintaining the service of the shew-bread,[19] but the Ark of the Covenant was certainly not there.[20] We next learn of the Tabernacle having been set up at Gibeon, though the conditions resulting in its removal thither are not fully stated.[21] The Ark was housed in another tent, and finally both were brought into the splendid Temple of Solomon by which all earlier sanctuaries were superseded.


Yet another tent of sanctuary was made and used in Israel prior to the erection of the great Temple. This we may call for convenience the Third Tabernacle; it was erected by David the king, in his own city, as a shelter for the Ark of the Covenant. As already cited, the scriptural record tells of the capture of the Ark by the Philistines, and of its return to Israel. This incident occurred during the latter part of the administration of the Judges, before Israel had bowed to a king in Canaan.[22]

Throughout the reign of Saul, the Ark remained under the roof of a private dwelling; wherein, however, a priest was maintained for its care and ministry. One of the early acts of David after he became king, was to plan the removal of the Ark to a more suitable situation. In the course of this removal, Uzzah was stricken, because without authority he essayed to take hold of the sacred vessel; and this manifestation of Divine displeasure so affected David that he delayed his purpose of setting up the Ark in his own city and placed it in another private house—that of Obed-edom the Gittite.[23] While the Ark remained beneath that roof the household was blessed and prospered. In course of time the original plan was carried into effect and the Ark was set up in a tent specially prepared for its reception in the City of David: "And they brought in the ark of the Lord, and set it in his place, in the midst of the tabernacle that David had pitched for it: and David offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the Lord.[24]

Thus, during the reign of David there were two places regarded as sanctuaries; and the worship of the people was divided. Solomon appears to have acknowledged the sanctity of both places—the resting place of the Ark at Jerusalem and the place of the Tabernacle of the Congregation at Gibeon.[25] Through him both shrines were again brought together.[26]


Scarcely had the Ark of the Covenant been deposited at the capital of the kingdom—the City of David,—when the king became desirous of erecting for its accommodation a more enduring shelter than the tent in which it had been installed with pomp and ceremony. It appears that the conscience of the king was troubled by the thought that he was better housed than was the sanctuary of the Lord: "Now it came to pass, as David sat in his house, that David said to Nathan the prophet, Lo, I dwell in an house of cedars, but the ark of the covenant of the Lord remaineth under curtains."[27] It was David's desire to build a suitable House for the Lord and Nathan the prophet at first encouraged the undertaking. The Lord spake to Nathan however, and directed him to decline the king's proffered gift. Although Jehovah had been without a fixed place recognized by the people as His, though as He said He had not dwelt in a house amongst Israel, but had gone from tent to tent and from one tabernacle to another,[28] though as the context implies, the Lord had been neglected in the long delay attending the erection of a house to His name, nevertheless David could not be honored with the commission or even the permission to build such a house for he was accounted a man of blood.[29] Let us not undertake to judge the extent of David's offending; to do so would be to usurp the Divine prerogative; it is enough for us to know that even the gift of royalty may be declined if there be aught requiring reconciliation between the mortal and his God. David, however, was permitted to provide means and to gather material which afterward should be used in the erection of the Temple;[30] moreover, the very site on which the great building was subsequently erected was chosen and sanctified through his agency. A great pestilence had fallen upon Israel, and the Angel of the Lord, sent forth with the warrant of destruction, was seen by David, standing, sword in hand, on Mount Moriah at the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.[31] That spot, hallowed by the presence of a heavenly messenger, though that messenger was the Angel of Death, was marked by the erection of an altar, as the Lord directed through the prophet Gad.[32]

As David realized that his years of life were few, he laid upon Solomon, his son and chosen successor, the solemn charge to build the house he had been forbidden to build. The king dwelt pathetically upon his own disqualification, and then repeated the Lord's promise of acceptance at the hand of Solomon. The scriptural record runs thus:

"So David prepared abundantly before his death.

"Then he called for Solomon his son, and charged him to build an house for the Lord God of Israel.

"And David said to Solomon, My son, as for me, it was in my mind to build an house unto the name of the Lord my God:

"But the word of the Lord came to me, saying. Thou hast shed blood abundantly, and hast made great wars: thou shalt not build an house unto my name, because thou hast shed much blood upon the earth in my sight.

"Behold, a son shall be born to thee, who shall be a man of rest; and I will give him rest from all his enemies round about: for his name shall be Solomon, and I will give peace and quietness unto Israel in his days.

"He shall build an house for my name; and he shall be my son, and I will be his father; and I will establish the throne of his kingdom over Israel for ever. "Now, my son, the Lord be with thee; and prosper thou, and build the house of the Lord thy God, as he hath said of thee.

"Only the Lord give thee wisdom and understanding, and give thee charge concerning Israel, that thou mayest keep the law of the Lord thy God.

"Then shalt thou prosper, if thou takest heed to fulfil the statutes and judgments which the Lord charged Moses with concerning Israel: be strong, and of good courage; dread not, nor be dismayed.

"Now, behold, in my trouble I have prepared for the house of the Lord an hundred thousand talents of gold, and a thousand thousand talents of silver; and of brass and iron without weight; for it is in abundance: timber also and stone have I prepared; and thou mayest add thereto.

"Moreover there are workmen with thee in abundance, hewers and workers of stone and timber, and all manner of cunning men for every manner of work.

"Of the gold, the silver, and the brass, and the iron, there is no number. Arise therefore, and be doing, and the Lord be with thee.

"David also commanded all the princes of Israel to help Solomon his son, saying,

"Is not the Lord your God with you? and hath he not given you rest on every side? for he hath given the inhabitants of the land into mine hand; and the land is subdued before the Lord, and before his people.

"Now set your heart and your soul to seek the Lord your God; arise therefore, and build ye the sanctuary of the Lord God, to bring the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and the holy vessels of God, into the house that is to be built to the name of the Lord."[33]

David gave Solomon detailed instructions as to the design and specifications of the house and its appurtenances, the plan of the porch and that of both the main structure and the accessory buildings, "and the pattern of all that he had by the Spirit." Furthermore he gave directions as to the ministry of the various courses of Priests and Levites, "and for all the work of the service of the house of the Lord, and for all the vessels of service in the house of the Lord."[34]

The actual work of construction was begun in the fourth year of Solomon's reign, and the Temple was ready for dedication in the twelfth, or about 1005 B. C. At the inception of the labor, Solomon entered into an agreement with Hiram, a neighboring king, whereby the resources of Tyre and Sidon were annexed in the great undertaking. Through this alliance the splendid forests of Lebanon were made accessible; cedar, and fir, and other trees were felled and floated by the thousand to the most convenient point for land transportation to Jerusalem. It had been previously explained to Hiram that the demand would be a heavy one, for, as Solomon had said: "The house which I build is great: for great is our God above all gods."[35] Sidonian hewers were put to work,—the most skilful of all known woodmen; and the timbers of Lebanon were supplied in abundance. The extent of the demand may be judged from the enormous payment proffered and made by Solomon.[36]

Israelitish workmen were employed in great numbers, both in co-operation with the Sidonians and at home. Thus we read:

"And King Solomon raised a levy out of all Israel ; and the levy was thirty thousand men.

"And he sent them to Lebanon, ten thousand a month by courses: a month they were in Lebanon, and two months at home: and Adoniram was over the levy.

"And Solomon had threescore and ten thousand that bare burdens, and fourscore thousand hewers in the mountains;

"Beside the chief of Solomon's officers which were over the work, three thousand and three hundred, which ruled over the people that wrought in the work.

"And the king commanded, and they brought great stones, costly stones, and hewed stones, to lay the foundation of the house.

"And Solomon's builders and Hiram's builders did hew them, and the stonesquarers: so they prepared timber and stones to build the house."[37]

For the successful employment of such great numbers of workmen an effective system of organization was necessary; we are not surprised, therefore, in reading that thirty-three hundred overseers were in service. The efficiency of the system is attested by the success attending the great undertaking. The Israelites and the men of Tyre and Sidon worked in harmony, and much of the building material was shaped by pattern and measurement in forest and quarry; therefore "the house, when it was in building, was built of stone made ready before it was brought thither; so that there was neither hammer nor ax nor any tool of iron heard in the house, while it was in building."[38]

Our primary source of information relating to the erection of the great Temple is the scriptural record contained in I Kings, chapters 6 and 7; a later account appears in II Chronicles, chapters 3 and 4, which account as well as the description given by Josephus[39] appears to have been derived from the record first cited.

In general, the design of Solomon's Temple was that of the specially constructed Tabernacle of the Congregation, though the dimensions of the Temple were double those of the Tabernacle. It will be remembered that the porch of the Tabernacle was five cubits deep; that of the Temple measured ten cubits in depth; in each case the porch extended across the full width of the house. The Holy Place, or first compartment within the walls, was twenty cubits long, ten cubits wide and ten high in the Tabernacle; that of the Temple was forty by twenty cubits and twenty cubits high. The inner sanctuary, Oracle, or Holy of Holies, in the Tabernacle was cubical and measured ten cubits each way; in the Temple this sacred enclosure was a cube of twenty cubits. Thus the ground plan of the Tabernacle covered thirty-five by twenty cubits, and that of the Temple seventy cubits by forty. These measurements do not take into account the side chambers, which in the Tabernacle were five cubits wide; those connected with the Temple measured ten cubits in extreme width; with these included, the entire area of the Tabernacle was forty by twenty cubits, and that of the Temple eighty by forty cubits; or, at the usually accepted equivalent for the cubit, sixty by thirty feet for the Tabernacle, and one hundred and twenty feet by sixty feet for the Temple. In height the same relation was maintained; the Tabernacle rose fifteen cubits and the Temple thirty cubits. The Temple porch appears to have towered above the height of the main structure.[40]

In the porch, standing as a guard at the threshold of the Temple, were two brazen pillars, of elaborate design, and doubtless of emblematical significance. They were regarded as of such importance as to merit detailed description, and the name of their maker was inscribed in the Temple archives. They were wrought by Hiram of Tyre,—not the king who bore the same name—but a master-artisan, skilled in the working of brass. Hiram fashioned the pillars, each twelve cubits in circumference and eighteen cubits high exclusive of the massive chapiters, which were ornamented with pomegranates and lily work. The pillar at the right of the entrance was named Jachin, meaning "He shall establish," and that at the left was called Boaz, signifying "In it is strength."[41] Whatever deeper meaning may have been attached to these massive columns, their suggestive symbolism of strength and firmness is plainly apparent. As to whether they actually supported the roof of the porch, or were free, standing as embellishments and symbols alone, the scriptural text is not definite.

The walls of the great Temple were of hewn stone, yet on the inside no stone was visible; for the walls were wainscotted from floor to ceiling with cedar, richly decorated with carvings of flowers, trees, and other designs, and the flooring was of fir.[42] Moreover, the interior was richly embellished with overlaid work in pure gold. The partition by which the Oracle or Holy of Holies was divided off, corresponding to the veil in the Tabernacle, was thus overlaid, and was hung with chains of gold.[43] The cherubim that stood as the symbol of guardianship over the Oracle were of olive wood, covered with gold, the precious metal being fitted upon the carved work.[44]

The vestibule or porch stood at the east end; and this constituted the only entrance to the Temple proper. On the other three sides, therefore surrounding both the Holy Place and the Oracle, were numerous small chambers, built in three tiers or stories. The width of these was five cubits in the lowest story, six cubits in the middle, and seven cubits in the top story; this peculiarity in width increasing with height was made possible by the decrease in the thickness of the walls. By this rebatement of the walls, the cedarn chambers were well supported yet they formed no part of the main structure; it was so designed "that the beams should not be fastened in the walls of the house."[45] These small apartments were therefore "chambers round about, against the walls of the house," yet of independent construction. From the mention made by Ezekiel[46] these chambers are supposed to have numbered thirty, though no precise specification is found. They were probably used for service required of the priests aside from the ceremonial labor connected with the general ritual. Entrance to these chambers was provided on the right side of the building with winding stairs leading to the upper rooms. Above the level of the upper chambers were windows by which the outer apartment or Holy Place was lighted; the Holy of Holies, however, was without natural light.

The furniture within the Temple comprised but few objects, yet every piece was of special design and for exclusive use. In the Holy Place stood the table, or a series of tables to bear the sacred shew-bread. Mention is made also of an altar of gold, and of ten candlesticks of pure gold set in front of the entrance to the Oracle, five on either side; furthermore there were tongs of gold, bowls and snuffers, basins and spoons. The Oracle was prepared for the reception of the Ark of the Covenant, and to overshadow that holy vessel there were prepared the two great cherubim, each ten cubits high; these were of olive wood overlaid with gold.

The Temple stood within walled enclosures, generally spoken of as outer and inner courts respectively. The wall of the inner court is described as consisting of three courses of hewn stone, in which was set a course of cedar beams. This corresponded to the single enclosure of the ancient Tabernacle. Inasmuch as all the specified measurements show the Temple to have been double the size of the Tabernacle, this court may have been of corresponding proportion; it is therefore generally believed to have extended one hundred cubits north and south and two hundred cubits east and west.[47]

Within the court, "before the porch of the Lord" stood the altar of sacrifice. This was of brass twenty cubits square and ten cubits high. To the service of the altar belonged many of the utensils such as basins, pots, and shovels, specially made under the direction of the master craftsman, Hiram of Tyre. Another prominent object within the court was the molten sea, called also the brazen sea.[48] This great font measured thirty cubits in circumference and stood five cubits high, and was richly ornamented. The walls were a hand-breadth in thickness, and the brim was embellished with flower work. It was mounted on twelve brazen oxen, arranged in groups of three, the groups facing respectively north, south, east and west. The great font stood between the altar and the porch "on the right side of the house, eastward, over against the south."[49] Associated with the molten sea were ten smaller vessels called lavers, mounted on bases of special construction and provided with wheels to facilitate removal."[50] The lavers were used in connection with the service of the altar, for the washing of the offerings; but the main font or molten sea was reserved for the ceremonial cleansing of the priests.

When the House of the Lord was completed, elaborate preparations were made for its dedication. First came the installation of the Ark of the Covenant and its appurtenances, the Tabernacle of the Congregation, and the holy vessels. With great solemnity and to the accompaniment of ceremonial sacrifice, the Ark was brought by the priests and placed within the Holy of Holies beneath the wings of the cherubim. At this time the Ark contained only the two tables of stone "which Moses put there." The staves by which the Ark was borne were so drawn out as to be visible from within the Holy Place, and then "it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the holy place, that the cloud filled the house of the Lord, So that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud: for the glory of the Lord had filled the house of the Lord."[51]

Page:The House of the Lord.djvu/57 Page:The House of the Lord.djvu/58 his conquest of the kingdom of Judah. Whatever of value was yet there he carried away, and the building was destroyed by fire.[52]

There occurs yet one later mention of some of the vessels that had been made for the service of Jehovah,—when they were brought out to crown the triumph of Belshazzar in his heathenish feast. Then was manifest the displeasure of the Lord, and the trembling king heard from the lips of Daniel his doom,—for he had been unmindful of the fate that had overtaken his father, and had lifted up himself against the Lord of heaven; and had brought out the vessels of the house of God that he and his lords, his wives and his concubines might drink wine therefrom; and he had praised the gods of silver, and gold, of brass, iron, wood, and stone, which see not, nor hear, nor know; but the God in whose hand was his breath and whose were all his ways had he not glorified. He had been weighed in the balances and was found wanting; and his kingdom was taken from him. That night, Belshazzar the king was slain.[53]


In the twenty-fifth year of the Babylonian captivity, while yet the people of Israel were in exile in a strange land, the word of the Lord came to the prophet Ezekiel; the power of God rested upon him; and he saw in vision a glorious Temple, the plan of which he minutely described.[54] As to whether the prophet himself considered the design so shown as one to be subsequently realized, or as but a grand yet unattainable ideal, is not declared. Certain it is that the Temple of the vision has not yet been builded.

In most of its essential features Ezekiel's ideal followed closely the plan of Solomon's Temple; so close, indeed, is the resemblance, that many of the details specified by Ezekiel have been accepted as those of the splendid edifice destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar. A predominant characteristic of the Temple described by Ezekiel was the spaciousness of its premises and the symmetry of both the Holy House and its associated buildings. The area was to be a square of five hundred cubits, walled about and provided with a gateway and arches on each of three sides; on the west side the wall was to be unbroken by arch or portal. At each of the gateways were little chambers regarded as lodges,[55] and provided with porches. In the outer court were other chambers. The entire area was to be elevated, and a flight of steps led to each gateway. In the inner court was seen the great altar, standing before the House, and occupying the center of a square of one hundred cubits."[56] Ample provision was made for every variety of sacrifice and offering, and for the accommodation of the priests, the singers, and all engaged in the holy ritual."[57] The main structure comprised a Porch, a Holy Place, and an inner sanctuary or Most Holy Place, the last named elevated above the rest and reached by steps. The plan provided for even greater exclusiveness than had characterized the sacred area of the Temple of Solomon; the double courts contributed to this end. The service of the Temple was prescribed in detail; the ordinances of the altar, the duties of the priests, the ministry of the Levites, the regulations governing oblations and feasts were all set forth.[58]

The immediate purpose of this revelation through the vision of the prophet appears to have been that of awakening the people of Israel to a realization of their fallen state and a conception of their departed glory. The prophet was thus commanded:

"Thou son of man, shew the house to the house of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their iniquities: and let them measure the pattern.

"And if they be ashamed of all that they have done, show them the form of the house, and the fashion thereof, and the goings out thereof, and the comings in thereof, and all the forms thereof, and all the ordinances thereof, and all the forms thereof, and all the laws thereof: and write it in their sight, that they may keep the whole form thereof, and all the ordinances thereof, and do them.

"This is the law of the house; Upon the top of the mountain the whole limit thereof round about shall be most holy. Behold, this is the law of the house."[59]


For three score years and ten the Jews had grieved and groaned under Babylonian rule. The greater part of the once proud Kingdom of Judah had been carried away captive, and such as remained in the land of their fathers had lost their national status and had become largely merged with the Gentiles. With dreadful exactness had been fulfilled the dire prediction of Jeremiah. Through that prophet the Lord had spoken, saying:

"Therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts; Because ye have not heard my words,

"Behold, I will send and take all the families of the north, saith the Lord, and Nebuchadrezzar [Nebuchadnezzar] the king of Babylon, my servant, and will bring them against this land, and against the inhabitants thereof, and against all these nations round about, and will utterly destroy them, and make them an astonishment, and an hissing, and perpetual desolations.

"Moreover I will take from them the voice of mirth, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride, the sound of the millstones, and the light of the candle.

"And this whole land shall be a desolation, and an astonishment; and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years."[60]

However, the gloom of the saddening prophecy had been lightened by one ray of hope and promise—the assurance that when the seventy years of the Lord's chastisement had been completed, the people should return to the land of their inheritance, and once again be recognized as the Lord's own.[61] In the encouragement of that hope the people had lived; by its inspiration their prophets, even while in captivity, had sought the Lord, and declared His will to the people; by its light Ezekiel had seen in the Page:The House of the Lord.djvu/63 Page:The House of the Lord.djvu/64 Page:The House of the Lord.djvu/65 Page:The House of the Lord.djvu/66 Page:The House of the Lord.djvu/67 Page:The House of the Lord.djvu/68 Page:The House of the Lord.djvu/69 Page:The House of the Lord.djvu/70 Page:The House of the Lord.djvu/71 Page:The House of the Lord.djvu/72 Page:The House of the Lord.djvu/73 Page:The House of the Lord.djvu/74 Page:The House of the Lord.djvu/75 Page:The House of the Lord.djvu/76 Page:The House of the Lord.djvu/77 and everything that could be burned was burned. The slaughter of the Jews was appalling; thousands of men, women and children were ruthlessly butchered within the walls, and the temple courts were literally flooded with human blood. This event occurred in the year 70 A. D.; and according to Josephus, in the same month and on the same day of the month as that on which the once glorious Temple of Solomon had fallen a prey to the flames kindled by the king of Babylon.[62] Of the temple furniture the golden candlestick and the table of shewbread from the Holy Place were carried by Titus to Rome as trophies of war; and representations of these sacred pieces are to be seen on the arch erected to the name of the victorious general.

Since the destruction of the splendid Temple of Herod no other structure of the kind, no Temple, no House of the Lord as the terms are used distinctively, has been reared on the eastern hemisphere. Sometime between 361 and 363 A. D. the Roman emperor Julian, surnamed because of his reversion from Christianity to paganism Julian the Apostate, attempted to reconstruct the Temple at Jerusalem. His purpose was not that of devotion to nor love for God; but that of controverting prophecy, and thus proving false the Christian belief.[63] So ends the category of Temples reared to the name of the living God prior to the dispensation of the fulness of times.

  1. Exodus 3:5.
  2. Exodus 16:32-34.
  3. See Exodus 31:18; 25:16; 32:15; 34:28, 29.
  4. Exodus 33:7-11.
  5. In the Authorized Version of the Holy Bible this sanctuary is called the Tabernacle of the Congregation; in the Revised Version it is designated the Tent of Meeting; preponderance of authority is in favor of the latter reading.
  6. Exodus 24:9, 10, 18; read the entire chapter.
  7. Exodus 25:1-9. For details of the building and furnishings of the Tabernacle of the Congregation see Exodus chapters 25-31, more particularly chapter 25, which account is in part repeated in 36:8-38.
  8. Exodus 36:5-7.
  9. The cubit is an ancient measure of length, the value of which varied in different countries and at different times. As the term occurs in the Bible, it denotes varying lengths. In line with modern encyclopedias, Bible dictionaries, etc., the length herein adopted is one foot six inches. See Encyclopedia Britannica, Smith's Bible Dictionary, etc.
  10. Exodus 37:1-9; compare 25:10-22.
  11. See Exodus 37:10-29; compare 25:23-40.
  12. Exodus 40:34-38.
  13. Exodus 25:8.
  14. See Exodus chapter 28.
  15. See Smith's Dictionary of the Bible (Barnum's ed.), art. "Tabernacle."
  16. Joshua 18:1-3; 19:51; see also 21:2; Judges 18:31; I Sam. 1:3, 24; 4:3,4.
  17. See I Samuel 4:10-18.
  18. I Samuel 4:22.
  19. See I Samuel 21:1-6.
  20. See I Samuel 7:1,2.
  21. See I Chron. 21:28-30; compare II Chron. 1:3-6.
  22. I Samuel 4:10-22; also chapters 5 and 6; and 7:1-2.
  23. II Samuel 6:1-12; see also I Chron. chapter 13.
  24. II Samuel 6:17; see also I Chron. 15:1, and 16:1.
  25. See I Kings 3:15 and II Chron. 1:3,4.
  26. See I Kings 8:1-4.
  27. I Chron. 17:1; see also II Samuel 7:1,2.
  28. I Chron. 17:4,5.
  29. See I Chron. 22:8; compare 28:3; and I Kings 5:3.
  30. See I Chron. 22:1-5.
  31. II Samuel 24:15-25; see also I Chron. 21:15-17; and II Chron. 3:1.
  32. See I Chron. 21:18-30; compare II Samuel 24:18-25.
  33. I Chron. 22:5-19; see also 28:1-8: 29:1-7.
  34. I Chron. 28:11-13.
  35. II Chron. 2:5; see also the entire chapter.
  36. See I Kings 5:11; and II Chron. 2:10,15.
  37. I Kings 5:13-18.
  38. I Kings 6:7; compare Deuteronomy 27:5,6.
  39. Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book VIII: chaps. 2, 3, 4.
  40. See II Chron. 3:4.
  41. See I Kings 7:13-22.
  42. I Kings 6:15-18, 29.
  43. Verses 19-22.
  44. Verse 35.
  45. Verses 5, 6.
  46. Ezekiel 41:6, 7.
  47. For specifications as to the courts, see I Kings 6:36; compare 7:12; see also II Kings 23:12; II Chron. 4:9: 33:5.
  48. I Kings 7:23-26; II Chron. 4:2; see also II Kings 25:13; compare Jeremiah 52:17.
  49. I Kings 7:39.
  50. I Kings 7:27-39; compare II Chron. 4:6.
  51. I Kings 8:10, 11.
  52. II Kings 24:13: 25:9-17; II Chron. 36:7,19; compare Isaiah 64:11; Jeremiah 27:16, 19-22; 28:3; 52:13, 17-23; Lamentations 2:7; 4:1; and Ezra 1:7.
  53. See Daniel, chapter 5.
  54. See Ezekiel, chapters 40 to 43.
  55. So designated in the Revised Version.
  56. Ezekiel 40:47.
  57. Verses 44-46.
  58. Ezekiel, chapters 44-48.
  59. Ezekiel 43:10-12.
  60. Jeremiah 25:8-11; see also 29:10.
  61. See Jeremiah 25:12-14. See also the author's "The Articles of Faith," Lecture XVII, "The Dispersion of Israel."
  62. Josephus, Wars of the Jews, Book VI; 4:5, 8. For a detailed and graphic account of the destruction of the Temple see chapters 4 and 5 in their entirety.
  63. "He actually began excavations, but his workmen were driven in great panic from the spot, by terrific explosions and bursts of flame. The Christians regarded the occurrence as miraculous; and Julian himself, it is certain, was so dismayed by it that he desisted from the undertaking."—P. V. N. Meyers, General History, page 334.