A Golden Temple -- By: Alan R. Millard
BSP 7:2 (Spring 1994) p. 61
A Golden Temple
The Temple built by King Solomon as a house for God in his capital city, Jerusalem, was not very big, but it was certainly spectacular. For, inside, everything was gold. There were dishes and bowls, lamps, lampstands and tongs of gold. The door fittings were gold, and so was the table for the sacred bread.
Gold has always been one of the things people have given to their gods. Cathedrals in Europe and South America, temples and shrines in Asia, still display chalices and lamps and other equipment for worship made of solid gold.
But Solomon’s Temple had more than a wealth of golden furnishings. The priests, mounting the steps to go inside, would see nothing but gold—and a rich curtain at the far end.
The Biblical description in the first book of Kings, chapter 6, says: “Solomon built the Temple. .. he lined its walls inside with cedar boards. .. he overlaid the whole interior with gold. .. he also covered the floors of both the inner and outer rooms of the temple with gold.”
A golden temple! The idea is breathtaking.
Building temples or renovating old ones was a regular activity for ancient kings. They wanted to win the favor of their gods and popularity with their people, and to win fame for themselves. The stronger and richer they were, the more lavishly they decorated the buildings they put up.
Over the centuries local people have pillaged the ruins of these great temples for bricks and stones. And long before that all the moveable furnishings of any value had been carried off. Yet still today, when only the basic walls remain, visitors to the temple-towers in ancient Babylonian cities such as Ur, or to the Egyptian temples at Karnak, cannot help being impressed by their grandeur of size and design.
Sometimes the kings who had these temples built left inscriptions telling of their work. When we read them, we have to remember that they were written to impress their readers, in particular to tell future generations how great and how pious their ancestors had been. They may have exaggerated in some cases, or claimed more than their due, but there is no good reason to doubt them over all.
We need not doubt the word of kings of Assyria and Babylonia when
BSP 7:2 (Spring 1994) p. 62
they boast of covering the walls of temples with gold like plaster, or of plating them with gold so that they shone like the sun; nor of the pharaohs who told how they put sheets of gold on the walls of their temples in Egypt.
From Egypt there also appears to be some physical evidence of the gold ...
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