The Archaeology Of Solomon’s Temple -- By: G. Ernest Wright

Journal: Bible and Spade (Second Run)
Volume: BSPADE 07:2 (Spring 1994)
Article: The Archaeology Of Solomon’s Temple
Author: G. Ernest Wright

The Archaeology Of Solomon’s Temple

G. Ernest Wrighta

By far the best known of Solomon’s architectural wonders in Jerusalem was the Temple, undoubtedly a splendid work which reflected his major interest. It was built primarily as a royal chapel with priests made members of the royal court and subject to the king’s control. The religious focus of both Israel and Judah was thus united with the king’s court and a serious threat to the nation’s unity was avoided. No high priest could ever set himself up as head of the state, as happened in Egypt, for example.

Various attempts have been made to reconstruct the Temple, but until recent years sufficient archaeological data have been lacking, and many Biblical students have allowed their architectural and artistic imaginations full play. Today, the situation is changed, for there are many new discoveries which bear directly upon our problem.

The first step in reconstructing the Temple is to study the description and dimensions given in 1 Kings 6 and Ezekiel 41. If one is architecturally inclined or interested in puzzles, he can spend an enjoyable evening in attempting to reconstruct the ground plan from

The Stevens reconstruction of the Solomonic Temple, as drawn from specifications prepared by W. F. Albright and G. Ernest Wright.

the figures given, perhaps allowing himself the occasional use of a standard Bible dictionary and commentaries. It has long been recognized that Ezekiel’s vision in Chapter 41 contains detailed measurements which agree with and supplement the account in 1 Kings 6 so well that it must preserve in part the data contained in some long-lost description of Solomon’s Temple. There are still scholars who are hesitant in placing much confidence in it because of its date and visionary character. The increasing weight of discoveries, however, has led many archaeologists to place more and more reliance upon it.

Yet even after we learn the dimensions of the Temple, something about its ground plan, and the description of the way in which it was built, we still should not know how to visualize it unless we know something about the way in which people built temples in those days. But where are we to look? Shall we examine the great temples of Egypt and reconstruct the Solomonic building after their model? Some have done so, but we now know that they are, for the most part, wro...

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