Solomon builds the Temple in Jerusalem
1 Kings 5:1-18 In c.968BC, Solomon begins to construct a temple in Jerusalem. Hiram, King of Tyre, sends cedars of Lebanon (tied together as rafts and floated down the coast from Sidon) (see 3 on Map 57). He also sends a highly skilled bronze worker, Huram (see 1 Kings 7:13).
In return, Hiram receives olive oil and wheat, and twenty cities in Galilee (see 1 Kings 9:11). Hiram thinks the cities in Galilee are worthless so this area becomes known as Cabul (‘worthless’).
The fishing harbour at Tyre (Heretiq)
Founded by the Phoenicians, Tyre - originally situated on a small island just off the coast - was the most important port at the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea. Under King Hiram of Tyre (c.969 – c.935BC), the Phoenicians colonised Sicily and North Africa, and the Mediterranean Sea became known as the Tyrian Sea. Hiram I was a contemporary and ally of King Solomon of Israel, and sent Lebanese cedar trees and gold to build the Temple in Jerusalem (see 1 Kings 5:1-12).
Although the prophet Isaiah warned the city of impending doom in the 7th century BC (see Isaiah 23:1-18), Tyre successfully withstood a thirteen year seige by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon from 586 to 573BC. It subsequently lost its independence with the rise of the Persian Empire in the 5th century BC.
Modern-day visitors to Tyre in Lebanon can still cross the causeway, built by Alexander the Great during his seige in 332BC, in order to visit the picturesque northern harbour and the narrow alleyways of the Christian Quarter, situated on the northern side of the original island.
1 Kings 6:1-6 Solomon's Temple is built on the rocky summit of Mount Moriah (on the land purchased by his father David fourteen years earlier (see 2 Samuel 24:11-25), where Abraham had been called to sacrifice Isaac eight hundred and fifty years earlier in c.1820BC (see 4 on Map 57 & Genesis 22:1).
1 Kings 6:7-38 The building of this magnificent east-facing Temple takes seven years to complete.
The Temple Mount in Jerusalem
Solomon’s Temple was built using local limestone quarried close to the site of the Temple itself. The underground quarries, entered from beneath the north wall of the Old City in Jerusalem, can still be seen today. In order to minimise the continuous noise from hammers and chisels (and because the soft limestone was easier to work before it hardened on being exposed to the air), all the stone was dressed in the underground quarries before being taken to the Temple (see 1 Kings 6:7).
The Temple was roofed and lined with planks of cedar from Lebanon, while pine was used for the floor. An inner sanctuary was built to house the Ark of the Covenant. The walls of the Most Holy Place were covered in gold, as was the altar. After seven years (seven is the Hebrew number signifying perfection), the Temple was completed in c.961BC.
The site of Solomon’s Temple can be visited today on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The original square platform on which Solomon built the Temple was subsequently extended north and south by Herod the Great to form the roughly rectangular Temple Mount seen today.
It is likely that Solomon’s Temple stood on the site now occupied by the Dome of the Rock, begun in 688AD. In the very centre of this beautiful building, the shallow rectangular pit that can be seen on the surface of the exposed rocky summit of Mount Moriah may have been the resting place of the Ark of the Covenant in the Most Holy Place of the Inner Sanctuary (see also the feature on Abraham’s Sacrifice).
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