Containing The Interval Of One Hundred And Sixty-Three Years.
From The Death Of David To The Death Of Ahab.
Of The Building Of This Temple.
1. SOLOMON began to build the temple in the fourth year of his reign, on the second month, which the Macedonians call Artemisius, and the Hebrews Jur, five hundred and ninety-two years after the Exodus out of Egypt; but one thousand and twenty years from Abraham's coming out of Mesopotamia into Canaan, and after the deluge one thousand four hundred and forty years; and from Adam, the first man who was created, until Solomon built the temple, there had passed in all three thousand one hundred and two years. Now that year on which the temple began to be built was already the eleventh year of the reign of Hiram; but from the building of Tyre to the building of the temple, there had passed two hundred and forty years.
2. Now, therefore, the king laid the foundations of the temple very deep in the ground,(7a) and the materials were strong stones, and such as would resist the force of time; these were to unite themselves with the earth, and become a basis and a sure foundation for that superstructure which was to be erected over it; they were to be so strong, in order to sustain with ease those vast superstructures and precious ornaments, whose own weight was to be not less than the weight of those other high and heavy buildings which the king designed to be very ornamental and magnificent. They erected its entire body, quite up to the roof, of white stone; its height was sixty cubits, and its length was the same, and its breadth twenty. There was another building erected over it, equal to it in its measures; so that the entire altitude of the temple was a hundred and twenty cubits. Its front was to the east. As to the porch, they built it before the temple; its length was twenty cubits, and it was so ordered that it might agree with the breadth of the house; and it had twelve cubits in latitude, and its height was raised as high as a hundred and twenty cubits.
He also built round about the temple thirty small rooms, which might include the whole temple, by their closeness one to another, and by their number and outward position round it. He also made passages through them, that they might come into on through another. Every one of these rooms had five cubits in breadth, (7b) and the same in length, but in height twenty. Above these there were other rooms, and others above them, equal, both in their measures and number; so that these reached to a height equal to the lower part of the house; for the upper part had no buildings about it. The roof that was over the house was of cedar; and truly every one of these rooms had a roof of their own, that was not connected with the other rooms; but for the other parts, there was a covered roof common to them all, and built with very long beams, that passed through the rest, and rough the whole building, that so the middle walls, being strengthened by the same beams of timber, might be thereby made firmer: but as for that part of the roof that was under the beams, it was made of the same materials, and was all made smooth, and had ornaments proper for roofs, and plates of gold nailed upon them.
And as he enclosed the walls with boards of cedar, so he fixed on them plates of gold, which had sculptures upon them; so that the whole temple shined, and dazzled the eyes of such as entered, by the splendor of the gold that was on every side of them, Now the whole structure of the temple was made with great skill of polished stones, and those laid together so very harmoniously and smoothly, that there appeared to the spectators no sign of any hammer, or other instrument of architecture; but as if, without any use of them, the entire materials had naturally united themselves together, that the agreement of one part with another seemed rather to have been natural, than to have arisen from the force of tools upon them. The king also had a fine contrivance for an ascent to the upper room over the temple, and that was by steps in the thickness of its wall; for it had no large door on the east end, as the lower house had, but the entrances were by the sides, through very small doors. He also overlaid the temple, both within and without, with boards of cedar, that were kept close together by thick chains, so that this contrivance was in the nature of a support and a strength to the building.
3. Now when the king had divided the temple into two parts, he made the inner house of twenty cubits [every way], to be the most secret chamber, but he appointed that of forty cubits to be the sanctuary; and when he had cut a door-place out of the wall, he put therein doors of Cedar, and overlaid them with a great deal of gold, that had sculptures upon it. He also had veils of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and the brightest and softest linen, with the most curious flowers wrought upon them, which were to be drawn before those doors. He also dedicated for the most secret place, whose breadth was twenty cubits, and length the same, two cherubims of solid gold; the height of each of them was five cubits (8) they had each of them two wings stretched out as far as five cubits; wherefore Solomon set them up not far from each other, that with one wing they might touch the southern wall of the secret place, and with another the northern: their other wings, which joined to each other, were a covering to the ark, which was set between them; but nobody can tell, or even conjecture, what was the shape of these cherubims.
He also laid the floor of the temple with plates of gold; and he added doors to the gate of the temple, agreeable to the measure of the height of the wall, but in breadth twenty cubits, and on them he glued gold plates. And, to say all in one word, he left no part of the temple, neither internal nor external, but what was covered with gold. He also had curtains drawn over these doors in like manner as they were drawn over the inner doors of the most holy place; but the porch of the temple had nothing of that sort.
4. Now Solomon sent for an artificer out of Tyre, whose name was Hiram; he was by birth of the tribe of Naphtali, on the mother's side, (for she was of that tribe,) but his father was Ur, of the stock of the Israelites. This man was skillful in all sorts of work; but his chief skill lay in working in gold, and silver, and brass; by whom were made all the mechanical works about the temple, according to the will of Solomon. Moreover, this Hiram made two [hollow] pillars, whose outsides were of brass, and the thickness of the brass was four fingers' breadth, and the height of the pillars was eighteen cubits and their circumference twelve cubits; but there was cast with each of their chapiters lily-work that stood upon the pillar, and it was elevated five cubits, round about which there was net-work interwoven with small palms, made of brass, and covered the lily-work. To this also were hung two hundred pomegranates, in two rows. The one of these pillars he set at the entrance of the porch on the right hand, and called it Jachin (9) and the other at the left hand, and called it Booz.
5. Solomon also cast a brazen sea, whose figure was that of a hemisphere. This brazen vessel was called a sea for its largeness, for the laver was ten feet in diameter, and cast of the thickness of a palm. Its middle part rested on a short pillar that had ten spirals round it, and that pillar was ten cubits in diameter. There stood round about it twelve oxen, that looked to the four winds of heaven, three to each wind, having their hinder parts depressed, that so the hemispherical vessel might rest upon them, which itself was also depressed round about inwardly. Now this sea contained three thousand baths.
6. He also made ten brazen bases for so many quadrangular lavers; the length of every one of these bases was five cubits, and the breadth four cubits, and the height six cubits. This vessel was partly turned, and was thus contrived: There were four small quadrangular pillars that stood one at each corner; these had the sides of the base fitted to them on each quarter; they were parted into three parts; every interval had a border fitted to support [the laver]; upon which was engraven, in one place a lion, and in another place a bull, and an eagle. The small pillars had the same animals engraven that were engraven on the sides. The whole work was elevated, and stood upon four wheels, which were also cast, which had also naves and felloes, and were a foot and a half in diameter. Any one who saw the spokes of the wheels, how exactly they were turned, and united to the sides of the bases, and with what harmony they agreed to the felloes, would wonder at them.
However, their structure was this: Certain shoulders of hands stretched out held the corners above, upon which rested a short spiral pillar, that lay under the hollow part of the laver, resting upon the fore part of the eagle and the lion, which were adapted to them, insomuch that those who viewed them would think they were of one piece: between these were engravings of palm trees. This was the construction of the ten bases. He also made ten large round brass vessels, which were the lavers themselves, each of which contained forty baths; (10) for it had its height four cubits, and its edges were as much distant from each other. He also placed these lavers upon the ten bases that were called Mechonoth; and he set five of the lavers on the left side of the temple (11) which was that side towards the north wind, and as many on the right side, towards the south, but looking towards the east; the same [eastern] way he also set the sea Now he appointed the sea to be for washing the hands and the feet of the priests, when they entered into the temple and were to ascend the altar, but the lavers to cleanse the entrails of the beasts that were to be burnt-offerings, with their feet also.
7. He also made a brazen altar, whose length was twenty cubits, and its breadth the same, and its height ten, for the burnt-offerings. He also made all its vessels of brass, the pots, and the shovels, and the basons; and besides these, the snuffers and the tongs, and all its other vessels, he made of brass, and such brass as was in splendor and beauty like gold. The king also dedicated a great number of tables, but one that was large and made of gold, upon which they set the loaves of God; and he made ten thousand more that resembled them, but were done after another manner, upon which lay the vials and the cups; those of gold were twenty thousand, those of silver were forty thousand. He also made ten thousand candlesticks, according to the command of Moses, one of which he dedicated for the temple, that it might burn in the day time, according to the law; and one table with loaves upon it, on the north side of the temple, over against the candlestick; for this he set on the south side, but the golden altar stood between them. All these vessels were contained in that part of the holy house, which was forty cubits long, and were before the veil of that most secret place wherein the ark was to be set.
8. The king also made pouring vessels, in number eighty thousand, and a hundred thousand golden vials, and twice as many silver vials: of golden dishes, in order therein to offer kneaded fine flour at the altar, there were eighty thousand, and twice as many of silver. Of large basons also, wherein they mixed fine flour with oil, sixty thousand of gold, and twice as many of silver. Of the measures like those which Moses called the Hin and the Assaron, (a tenth deal,) there were twenty thousand of gold, and twice as many of silver. The golden censers, in which they carried the incense to the altar, were twenty thousand; the other censers, in which they carried fire from the great altar to the little altar, within the temple, were fifty thousand.
The sacerdotal garments which belonged to the high priest, with the long robes, and the oracle, and the precious stones, were a thousand. But the crown upon which Moses wrote [the name of God], (12) was only one, and hath remained to this very day. He also made ten thousand sacerdotal garments of fine linen, with purple girdles for every priest; and two hundred thousand trumpets, according to the command of Moses; also two hundred thousand garments of fine linen for the singers, that were Levites. And he made musical instruments, and such as were invented for singing of hymns, called, Nablee and Cindree, [psalteries and harps,] which were made of electrum, [the finest brass,] forty thousand.
9. Solomon made all these things for the honor of God, with great variety and magnificence, sparing no cost, but using all possible liberality in adorning the temple; and these things he dedicated to the treasures of God. He also placed a partition round about the temple, which in our tongue we call Gison, but it is called Thrigcos by the Greeks, and he raised it up to the height of three cubits; and it was for the exclusion of the multitude from coming into the temple, and showing that it was a place that was free and open only for the priests. He also built beyond this court a temple, whose figure was that of a quadrangle, and erected for it great and broad cloisters; this was entered into by very high gates, each of which had its front exposed to one of the [four] winds, and were shut by golden doors.
Into this temple all the people entered that were distinguished from the rest by being pure and observant of the laws. But he made that temple which was beyond this a wonderful one indeed, and such as exceeds all description in words; nay, if I may so say, is hardly believed upon sight; for when he had filled up great valleys with earth, which, on account of their immense depth, could not be looked on, when you bended down to see them, without pain, and had elevated the ground four hundred cubits, he made it to be on a level with the top of the mountain, on which the temple was built, and by this means the outmost temple, which was exposed to the air, was even with the temple itself. (13) He encompassed this also with a building of a double row of cloisters, which stood on high upon pillars of native stone, while the roofs were of cedar, and were polished in a manner proper for such high roofs; but he made all the doors of this temple of silver.
(7a) Of the temple of Solomon here described by Josephus, in this and the following sections of this chapter, see my description of the temples belonging to this work, Ch. 13.
(7b) These small rooms, or side chambers, seem to have been, by Josephus's description, no less than twenty cubits high a piece, otherwise there must have been a large interval between one and the other that was over it; and this with double floors, the one of six cubits distance from the floor beneath it, as 1 Kings 6:5.
(8) Josephus says here that the cherubims were of solid gold, and only five cubits high, while our Hebrew copies (1 Kings 6:23, 28) say they were of the olive tree, and the LXXX of the cypress tree, and only overlaid with gold; and both agree they were ten cubits high. I suppose the number here is falsely transcribed, and that Josephus wrote ten cubits also.
(9) As for these two famous pillars, Jachin and Booz, their height could be no more than eighteen cubits, as here, and 1 Kings 7:15; 2 Kings 25:17; Jeremiah 3:21; those thirty-five cubits in 2 Chronicles 3:15, being contrary to all the rules of architecture in the world.
(10) The round or cylindrical lavers of four cubits in diameter, and four in height, both in our copies, 1 Kings 7:38, 39, and here in Josephus, must have contained a great deal more than these forty baths, which are always assigned them. Where the error lies is hard to say: perhaps Josephus honestly followed his copies here, though they had been corrupted, and he was not able to restore the true reading. In the mean time, the forty baths are probably the true quantity contained in each laver, since they went upon wheels, and were to be drawn by the Levites about the courts of the priests for the washings they were designed for; and had they held much more, they would have been too heavy to have been so drawn.
(11) Here Josephus gives us a key to his own language, of right and left hand in the tabernacle and temple; that by the right hand he means what is against our left, when we suppose ourselves going up from the east gate of the courts towards the tabernacle or temple themselves, and so vice versa; whence it follows, that the pillar Jachin, on the right hand of the temple was on the south, against our left hand; and Booz on the north, against our right hand.
(13) When Josephus here says that the floor of the outmost temple or court of the Gentiles was with vast labor raised to be even, or of equal height, with the floor of the inner, or court of the priests, he must mean this in a gross estimation only; for he and all others agree, that the inner temple, or court of the priests, was a few cubits more elevated than the middle court, the court of Israel, and that much more was the court of the priests elevated several cubits above that outmost court, since the court of Israel was lower than the one and higher than the other.