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The Temple Built by King Solomon Essay Sample

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The Temple Built by King Solomon Essay Sample

            The temple built by King Solomon in the 10th century BCE was the centre of ancient Judaism. It took seven years to build. It was a replacement for the Tabernacle of Moses and the Tabernacles of Giron, Shiloh and was the centre of the Jewish faith. Babylonians destroyed the First Temple in 580 BC (1 Chronicles Chapter 22-29).

            Offerings were made in the Temple. These included morning, afternoon offering and offerings during the Sabbath and other Jewish holidays. Prophets in the Bible describe the presence of God in the Temple, Isaiah wrote, “I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne high and lifted up, and His train filled the Temple”. (Isaiah 6:1). Jeremiah wrote, “Thou throne of glory, on high from the beginning, Thou place of our sanctuary”. (Jeremiah 7:12). The importance of sacrifice and prayer in the Temple is explained by Isaiah when he states that the “Lord would cause His people to go to the Holy Mountain where they would be joyful in the Lord’s House of prayer and where the Lord would accept burnt offerings and sacrifices. The House of the Lord would be a House of prayer for all nations”. (Isaiah 56:7 NIV translation)

            Both the First and Second Temple were situated on the Temple Mount. The Temple was surrounded by valleys on the south west and eastern sides, making the north the easiest access point to the Temple. There were four courts in the Temple with restrictions on who could enter. Entrance for the outer court was restricted only to menstruating women, everyone else including non-Jewish could enter. The second court was open to all Jewish men and non-menstruating women. Only the ritually pure Jewish men could enter the third court and the fourth court was open only to priests.  The sanctuary (Holy of Holies) had the Ark of the Covenant and only the High Priest could enter the sanctuary and to do so he had to be dressed in his priest attire. One ascended as they went up the Temple from the outer courts to the inner sanctuary and the degree of holiness also increased from the outside to the inside.


            High and thick walls surrounded the outer courts and entrance to the Temple was via one of five gates. The south side had two gates with the other sides each having one. Surrounding the outer court was a portico (a walkway surrounded by columns that supported a roof) close to the inside of the walls. The inner court was surrounded by a balustrade referred to as the soreg which divided the outer court and inner court. The soreg had stairs inside which led up to a terrace that was bound by inner court’s walls. There were ten entrances to the inner courts. The gate to the east was probably the main entrance and was called the Beautiful Gate (Acts 3:1-10, KJV). The court of women was on the east side of the inner court.

            The Temple treasury was located in the court of women. On the west was the main area where a butchering area for sacrifices could be found. The corners of the Women’s Court had four unroofed chambers, one for priests to inspect firewood, another for those taking the Nazarite row, another for lepers to undergo cleansing before seeing the priest and purification of women after childbirth and the last one for keeping of grain and drink offerings (www.abu.nb.ca/)

            The Court of Israelites could be accessed via a staircase from the court of women (third court). The court of Israelites and the court of priests were separated by a balustrade. A staircase elevated this balustrade by several steps. The court of priests had the altar, ramp, laver and shambles together with other things necessary for sacrifice. West of the court of priests was the sanctuary consisting of the Holy Place and Holy of Holies (www.abu.nb.ca/)

            Cosmic dualism suggests that the universe is a battlefield for Good and Evil by. Christianity’s doctrine of the devil perpetuates this concept. The devil is a being that roams the world and attempts to make people corrupt. Cosmic dualism also adopts doctrine on a coming to end of the world. This is evident in the Book of Revelation that predicts the end times and the eternal damnation of the Evil one and his followers. (Shapero, 1997, Pg 1)

The book of Revelation is consistent with this concept of cosmic dualism in its description of the New Jerusalem which will be the centre of purity. New Jerusalem as described in Revelation lacks a temple but still has the function of a temple-city with God’s glory as the Light and Lamb as its lamp (Revelation 21:23). The Lamb here refers to Jesus. Impurity is barred from this city just like impurity is not condoned in the earthly temple. Revelation 21:27 states, “Nothing unclean will enter it, nor anyone who practices abomination or falsehood”. (Revelation 21:27).

            Jesus view of the Temple was based on his eschatological expectations as evidenced by what at the time seemed like negative comments. In Mark 13:2 He states “Not one stone shall be left upon another, it shall be completely pulled down”. Here Jesus was prophesying the destruction of the Second Temple. He was also speaking of a coming of new things for the Israelites and of the destruction of Temple worship and development of a worship whose centre of interest was not the temple (Arnal and Robert, Pg 210). Cosmic dualism is suggested by the expectation of Jesus that kingdom of God was coming and that the end of the world would happen soon. Before the end of the world, there would be a holy war between the Sons of Darkness and the Sons of Light (Revelation 16:12-16; 17:14. 19:11-21, 20:8-9)

            Jesus expected a renewed temple and His reaction to the trade going on in the Jerusalem temple was an attempt to show that the cultic system prevalent then had little significance as a means of interaction between God and man. The earthly practice of worshipping at the Temple required the presence of a High priest who had undergone ritual cleansing to mediate for the people and offer sacrifices on their behalf to God.

The Book of Hebrews describes a new order where the ordinances of divine service and earthly practice would be substituted for a different deeper reality in Christ.

Worship in the temple involved preparation of a tabernacle by the priest. The sanctuary held the lamp stand, showbread and table it was separated from the Holy of Holies by a veil. The Holy of Holies had the ark of covenant and golden censer. The High priest went into the Holy of Holies only once a year to make offerings for himself and the people. This would however change with Christ being the High priest, who shed His own blood and entered the Holy of Holies once and for all to obtain eternal redemption.

Consequently the offerings of other animals would not be necessary and the place of worship would no longer be a tabernacle made by hands of men. (Hebrews 9:1-15, KJV).

According to the Book of Hebrews the way people worshipped changed with the coming and death of Christ making it unnecessary for the High priest to make yearly offerings at the Holy of Holies since Christ had formed a new covenant where Jesus was the sacrifice that secured salvation for all from judgment and death as a consequence of sin.

            The temple had a very significant position in the lives of the Jews at the time of Jesus. It was still the centre of worship. The apocalyptic teachings of Jesus and the apocalyptic themes in the gospels and other New Testament books are a reflection of the perspective held by the Jewish people at the time. Johan Weiss argues that the world view of Jews at the time of Jews was eschatological and as such the teaching of Jesus concerning the kingdom of God and the temple ought to be understood along those lines. (Arnal and Robert 2006 Pg 213). At the time, Jews were waiting for a Messiah who could come to save the nation of Israel and rebuild the temple. Jesus spoke of a future where the temple would be completely destroyed, where the will be many unusual happenings such as people disappearing with no trace but also added that the kingdom of God would be in the hearts of men (Luke 17:21-37).

            To many of the Pharisees and people at the time of Jesus He seemed to be adopting a negative attitude towards the temple at Jerusalem but His views seem to be more aimed at giving greater force to His eschatological claims (Arnal and Robert, 2006 Pg 211). Many of the authorities at Jerusalem misunderstood Him because He seemed to be denying the importance of the temple. When as a boy aged twelve Jesus had gotten lost but was later found at the temple, He asked His mother ‘Did you not know that I would be in My Father’s house?’(Luke 3:49). His question was aimed at giving a hint of his eschatological mission which for Jesus was the most important reason for His presence on earth. The people at the time did not understand Him and many were left in confusion including His disciples.

Works Cited

Arnal Edward and Robert Michael, 1997 Whose Historical Jesus? Wilfrid Laurier University Press, ISBN 0889202958 pp210-213

Aune Edward, 2006 Apolypticism, Prophecy and Magi in Early Christianity, Mohr Siebeck ISBN 3161490207 pp90-95

Hamblin William and Seely David, 2007 Solomon’s Temple: Myth and History, Thames & Hudson ISBN 05000251339 pp 70-75

Johann Weiss, Die Predugt Jesu Von Reiche Gottes (Gottingen: Vaudenhoek &Ruprecht, 1964) (1892) English Translation: Jesus Proclamation of the Kingdom of God, trans Richard Hyde Hiers & David Larrimore Holland (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1971)

Shapero Hannah, 1997 Zoroastrianism, Judaism and Christianity retrieved from www.pyrancatha.com/zjc3.html

The Jerusalem Temple and the New Testament retrieved from www.abu.nb.c/Courses/NTIntro.JerusalTemple4.htm

The Book of Hebrews chapter 9-10, King James Version

The Book of Revelations chapter 16-20 King James Version

The Book of Luke chapter 3, 17 King James Version

The Book of Mark chapter 13, 14 King James Version

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