Temples Of The Levant And The Buildings Of Solomon -- By: Christopher J. Davey

Journal: Tyndale Bulletin
Volume: TYNBUL 31:1 (NA 1980)
Article: Temples Of The Levant And The Buildings Of Solomon
Author: Christopher J. Davey


Temples Of The Levant And The Buildings Of Solomon

Christopher J. Davey

The Tyndale Biblical Archaeology Lecture, 1979*

*Delivered at Tyndale House, Cambridge in July 1979. In presenting this paper here, the author gratefully acknowledges the encouragement of the Tyndale Fellowship members, and in particular of Alan Millard who made many helpful comments.

The Books of the Kings leave even the casual reader with the definite impression that the material culture of ancient Israel climaxed during the reign of King Solomon. 1 While the buildings for which he was responsible are described in some detail emphasizing their lavishness, subsequent kings are reported to have looted them during times of economic stress and there is little mention of any further building.2 Yet despite the detail of chapters 6 and of 1 Kings, the modern reader can hardly be expected to visualize Solomon’s buildings with any accuracy. The opulence of the temple and surrounding palaces is manifest, but the architectural details are sometimes omitted, and where they are mentioned there are numerous obscurities. Some of this mystery can be removed by carefully studying the Hebrew text with reference to architectural descriptions found in other ancient Semitic languages. Another source of clarification has been sought in the analysis of contemporary buildings unearthed by archaeologists; it is this second field of examination that is to be developed in this paper.3

Ancient temples provide, at present, the richest comparative material for this investigation and so the less numerous and more complex palaces of the Levant will not be considered.4 It is hoped that this study will not only increase an architectural appreciation of Solomon’s buildings, but will also afford an indication of the cultural continuum to which his work belonged.

Before concentrating on archaeological remains it is well to clarify some of the issues raised by the biblical descriptions of Solomon’s buildings which are found in the Books of the Kings, in 2 Chronicles chapters 3 and 4, and also in Ezekiel’s description (chapters 41–42) of a future temple5 which is no doubt partly dependent on the building of Solomon known t...

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