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 [General] [King Solomon's Temple]

Architectural Models


The Tabernacle | Solomon's Temple and Nicanor Gate | The Arch of Titus - Rome | The Temple of Athena Nike - Athens | Dome of the Rock - Jerusalem | An Egyptian Temple

The Tabernacle

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For 40 years the Tabernacle in the Wilderness was the place where God communed with His people, Israel, as they traveled through the desert on their way to the promised land. After the establishment of the nation of ancient Israel the tabernacle became the center of spiritual life for the congregation of the tribes. Not only did the tabernacle house items of great spiritual significance, but they were a splendor to see.

Solomon's Temple and Nicanor Gate

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The word "temple" is derived from the Latin templum, signifying an uncovered place affording a view of the surrounding region; in a narrower sense it signifies a place sacred to the Divinity, a sanctuary. In the Bible the sanctuary of Jerusalem bears the Hebrew name of Bet Yehovah (house of Jehovah). The sacred edifice consisted of two chief halls, one called hekal (house or temple), or qodes (the Holy), and the other debir (that which is the oracle), or godesh haggodashim (the Holy of Holies). The New Testament speaks of it as oikos, "the house", ouaos, Latin cella, "the most holy place of the temple" and hieron, "the whole of the sacred enclosure". The temple which Solomon erected to the Lord about 966 B.C. was destroyed by Nabuchodonozor in 586 B.C. After the return from captivity Zorobabel raised it again from its ruins (537 B.C.), but in such modest conditions that the ancients who had seen the former Temple wept. In the eighteenth year of his reign, which corresponds to 19 B.C., King Herod destroyed the Temple of Zorobabel to replace it by another which would equal, if not surpass in splendor, that of Solomon.

Many writers admit three temples materially different. Now as the Prophet aggeus (Vulg., ii, 10) says of that of Zorobabel: "Great shall be the glory of this last house more that of the first", because of the coming of the Messias (v,8-9), they claim that this prophecy was not fulfilled because Christ never entered the second Temple. Others assert that Zorobabel's work was not completely destroyed but gradually replaced by a larger and much richer temple (Josephus, "Ant. Jud.," ed. Dindorf, XV, xi, 2), and they consequently admit only two materially different temples. The whole difficulty disappears if we choose the Septuagint in preference to the Vulgate. The Prophet has already asked: "Who is left among you, that saw this house in its first glory? (ii, 4). According to Septuagint he afterwards says: "The last glory of this house shall be greater than its first glory." To the Prophet, therefore, there was but one and the same house of Jehovah from Solomon to the time of Messias, built always in the same place and according to the same plan, that of the Tabernacle. We may therefore admit three different temples: I. That of Solomon; II. That of Zorobabel; III. That of Herod.

From the Gate of Nicanor a semicircular stairway (13) of fifteen steps led down to the women's court (14), surrounded by a gallery on the north, east, and south. Here the women were admitted and places were reserved for them on the north and south, but the men also frequented this court and usually crossed it when they went to the Temple. There were benches there, for it was permitted to sit (cf. Mark, xii, 41). Along the sides probably near the Gate of Nicanor, were thirteen boxes, an inscription indicating the special purpose of each: oil, wood, priestly vestments, doves, etc. There Christ saw the rich men and the poor widow deposit their offering (Luke, xxi, 1). At the four corners were four hypethral chambers, forty cubits square (15). According to the Talmud the north-west chamber was where the unclean and lepers, who had been healed, bathed and were declared clean by the priests. In the north-east chamber the priests sorted the wood; in the south-west oil and wine were preserved in vaults; in the south-east those who had fulfilled the vow of Nazarites shaved their heads (cf. Num., vi, 13 sqq; Acts, xviii, 18). In these chambers it was also permitted to wash, cook, etc. According to Middoth, II, 5, there were also in this court four chambers in which certain women were lodged.

Arch of Titus - Rome

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Located at the highest point of the Via Sacra which leads to the Roman Forum, this triumphal arch, with only one passageway, commemorates Titus' conquest of Judea which ended the Jewish Wars (66-70AD). Engaged fluted columns frame the passageway, the spandrels depict Victories in relief, the attic contains an inscription "Senatus Populusque Romanus Divo Tito Divi Vespasiani Filio Vespasiano Augusto" The Roman Senate and People to Deified Titus, Vespasian Augustus, son of Deified Vespasian. The internal faces of the passageway depict in relief triumphal processions.

One scene depicts the triumphal procession with the booty from the temple at Jerusalem--the sacred Menorah, the Table of the Shewbread shown at an angle, and the silver trumpets which called the Jews to Rosh Hashanah. The bearers of the booty wear laurel crowns and those carrying the candlestick have pillows on their shoulders. Placards in the background explain the spoils or the victories Titus won. The arch was erected posthumously.

Temple of Athena Nike - Athens

Designed by Callicrates, Acropolis, Athens, c. 427 B.C.

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The temple of Athena Nike, the goddess of victory, is built on a small ledge outside the sacred precinct. Designed by Callicrates, it has Ionic porticos of four columns on the front and back of the cella. The entire building is surrounded with a frieze. This may very well have been one of the temple Paul was referring to in his message of Acts 17:22,23

22 Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious.

23 For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this description, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD, Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.

Dome of the Rock - Jerusalem

Mosque of Omar - c. A.D. 691

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"A compact, exterior octagon enclosing a domed cylindrical core, the Dome of the Rock in its geometry and in its parts—octagonal format, vaulting, columns, piers, arches, ambulatories, rich mosaic decoration, and fenestrated dome of gilded wood, rebuilt in the eleventh century—represented the Muslims' acquisition of a near-complete Romano-Byzantine architectural program..."

"...the Dome of the Rock is an atypical Islamic religious structure. The more characteristic Near Eastern mosque—an early example being the Umayyad Great Mosque built within and incorporating the ruins of the walls of a Roman temple precinct in the capital city of Damascus—was developed to function, as had the Roman basilica, as a large assembly place."

It is located in the old city, above the Wailing Wall and sits on the most sought after piece of real estate in the world, according to tradition the original site of King Solomon's Temple

An Egyptian Temple

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According to these ancient people, Egypt was not just an earthly locality, but a reflection of Heaven itself. To them, the world, the universe and man mirrored each other.

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