Solomon’s Temple 1 Kings 6
1 Kings 6:1-8 NLTse It was in midspring, in the month of Ziv, during the fourth year of Solomon’s reign, that he began to construct the Temple of the LORD. This was 480 years after the people of Israel were rescued from their slavery in the land of Egypt. (2) The Temple that King Solomon built for the LORD was 90 feet long, 30 feet wide, and 45 feet high. (3) The entry room at the front of the Temple was 30 feet wide, running across the entire width of the Temple. It projected outward 15 feet from the front of the Temple. (4) Solomon also made narrow recessed windows throughout the Temple. (5) He built a complex of rooms against the outer walls of the Temple, all the way around the sides and rear of the building. (6) The complex was three stories high, the bottom floor being 7 feet wide, the second floor 9 feet wide, and the top floor 10 feet wide. The rooms were connected to the walls of the Temple by beams resting on ledges built out from the wall. So the beams were not inserted into the walls themselves. (7) The stones used in the construction of the Temple were finished at the quarry, so there was no sound of hammer, ax, or any other iron tool at the building site. (8) The entrance to the bottom floor was on the south side of the Temple. There were winding stairs going up to the second floor, and another flight of stairs between the second and third floors.
It took four years of planning to begin construction on Solomon’s temple. Are you getting the picture? Can you see how much planning went on behind the scenes? Can you imagine how many delays and problems they had to face? Can you see how easy it was to distract Solomon from his other duties, or how those other duties added to construction delays? Now you can see why Solomon and Hiram had to wait for a peaceful time period before planning construction.
I’m not sure if that 480 years after leaving Egypt is significant. That would be about seven generations. It would be about 440 years, or about six generations after reaching the promised land. We could go on about those numbers forever, but we want to look at the recorded details about the temple.
When we compare the sizes of Solomon’s temple, 90 feet long, 30 feet wide, and 45 feet high, to the Tabernacle, 45 feet long, 13 1/2 feet wide, and 15 feet high, we see the first contrast. Solomon’s temple was twice as long, a little over twice as wide, and twice as high. Solomon basically doubled the size of the Tabernacle tent.
It is a little difficult to calculate the size of the Tabernacle.
“For the framework of the Tabernacle, construct frames of acacia wood. Each frame must be 15 feet high and 27 inches wide, with two pegs under each frame. Make all the frames identical. Make twenty of these frames to support the curtains on the south side of the Tabernacle. Also make forty silver bases–two bases under each frame, with the pegs fitting securely into the bases. For the north side of the Tabernacle, make another twenty frames, with their forty silver bases, two bases under each frame. Make six frames for the rear–the west side of the Tabernacle— along with two additional frames to reinforce the rear corners of the Tabernacle. These corner frames will be matched at the bottom and firmly attached at the top with a single ring, forming a single corner unit. Make both of these corner units the same way. So there will be eight frames at the rear of the Tabernacle, set in sixteen silver bases–two bases under each frame. (Exodus 26:15-25 NLTse).
But the size of the court is easier to find.
So the entire courtyard will be 150 feet long and 75 feet wide, with curtain walls 7 feet high, made from finely woven linen, (Exodus 27:18 NLTse)
Solomon did follow the plan, having two rooms in the Temple. They were known as the holy, and most holy rooms in the Tabernacle. “For the inside of the Tabernacle, make a special curtain of finely woven linen. Decorate it with blue, purple, and scarlet thread and with skillfully embroidered cherubim. Hang this curtain on gold hooks attached to four posts of acacia wood. Overlay the posts with gold, and set them in four silver bases. Hang the inner curtain from clasps, and put the Ark of the Covenant in the room behind it. This curtain will separate the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place. (Exodus 26:31-33 NLTse).
Solomon added a new feature to the temple, he added windows. “Solomon also made narrow recessed windows throughout the Temple.” The Tabernacle didn’t have any windows, or openings in the side. It was covered by layers of curtains. And he made a covering for the tent of rams’ skins dyed red, and a covering of badgers’ skins above that. (Exodus 36:19 KJV).
Why windows? Are those windows good or bad? What purpose did they serve? People usually associate windows with fresh air and sun light. Modern day churches used the concept of windows using stained glass to create elaborate scenes. Most of which usually depict scenes of Jesus’ final days. Those scenes normally center around the cross and Jesus’ sacrifice. But they didn’t have glass windows in those days that opened and closed. That would have let the rain in whenever there was a driving rain in the right direction. The windows would have to be slanted so the water drained out during normal rains. Windows would have also let birds and insects in the temple. There is no mention of shutters on the windows, but that is a possibility.
What did windows represent on the spiritual side? Before we answer that, we have to look at a few other details in the original design of the Tabernacle.
And he made a covering for the tent of rams’ skins dyed red, and a covering of badgers’ skins above that. (Exodus 36:19 KJV).
Originally, the Tabernacle was designed with a number of coverings on the outside to make the tent completely waterproof. That was one reason for God’s design. The Tabernacle didn’t have any windows. The boards, bases, and rods used to construct the Tabernacle were designed to work together and support the exterior, waterproof coverings. Together they formed a spiritual lesson showing how we, and Heaven and earth work together to support what the Tabernacle represented as a whole, God’s plan of salvation.
Without windows, or any other openings, the Tabernacle relied on a single light source, the seven branched candle stick using olive oil as a fuel source. Gold covered walls radiated the light, reflecting it to every corner of the outside compartment or room. Windows changed all that. Now a new light source was introduced from the outside. What difference did that make?
When we look at the concept of Jesus within our hearts, being the one and only light source to light our spiritual way, we try to avoid outside sources. At least we should. Adding windows to the temple distracted from the concept of a single, interior light source.
Solomon continued that theme of an outside source, or continuous work on the outside by adding a network of rooms around the initial structure. “He built a complex of rooms against the outer walls of the Temple, all the way around the sides and rear of the building. The complex was three stories high, the bottom floor being 7 feet wide, the second floor 9 feet wide, and the top floor 10 feet wide. The rooms were connected to the walls of the Temple by beams resting on ledges built out from the wall. So the beams were not inserted into the walls themselves.”
Why did Solomon add rooms to the outside of his temple? Those rooms must have been used for some type of activity. Did priests live in those rooms? Were they used for meetings, or storage? Rooms were not in the original plans for the Tabernacle. The Tabernacle was constructed as a single structure, with no man made rooms attached.
Solomon’s design was strange to say the least. The rooms were built on three levels, widening towards the top. In a sense, they were like an upside down pyramid. To accommodate those rooms, the outside walls of the temple were not flat and straight, but had ledges built out of them to support roof and floor beams for the surrounding rooms.
People like to make mention of the stones finished off site at the quarry. They give that a spiritual interpretation I don’t see mentioned in this chapter, or anywhere else in scripture. Some people claim those finished stones represent so many things. But where is a spiritual interpretation in scripture? I haven’t seen any.
So get rid of all evil behavior. Be done with all deceit, hypocrisy, jealousy, and all unkind speech. Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment, now that you have had a taste of the Lord’s kindness. You are coming to Christ, who is the living cornerstone of God’s temple. He was rejected by people, but he was chosen by God for great honor. And you are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple. What’s more, you are his holy priests. Through the mediation of Jesus Christ, you offer spiritual sacrifices that please God. As the Scriptures say, “I am placing a cornerstone in Jerusalem, chosen for great honor, and anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.” Yes, you who trust him recognize the honor God has given him. But for those who reject him, “The stone that the builders rejected has now become the cornerstone.” And, “He is the stone that makes people stumble, the rock that makes them fall.” They stumble because they do not obey God’s word, and so they meet the fate that was planned for them. But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light. (1 Peter 2:1-9 NLTse).
This seems to be the scripture many people attempt to use as text to back up their interpretation of those physical stones Solomon had sized and finished in the quarry. But let’s examine this text Peter wrote to see if he was referring to Solomon’s temple, or using it as a symbol.
Peter talked about Christ, calling Jesus the Cornerstone of the entire spiritual temple, which is also referred to as the body of Christ. Peter simply referred to those living stones as God’s temple, his holy priests. This raises a question. Were the rooms covering the walls of the stone temple used to house priests, pointing to some type of symbol? The description of Solomon’s temple in 1 Kings doesn’t repeat details about those outer rooms like God typically repeated other symbols in scripture.
Looking at the design of those rooms, they cover the temple walls. Most likely, they covered the corner stone. Would God design a spiritual temple that covered up His Son? Would God design a physical temple that hid His Son?
Look at the strange physical design of those walls. Facing the front of the temple, the attached walls were higher at the top than the bottom. That exerted unusual forces on the entire building. If we looked at that from the aspect of a simple stress diagram, we would see, the wall on the right would exert forces down and to the right, in a clockwise direction. The wall on the left would exert forces down, and to the left, in a counter clockwise direction. In other words, the forces would tend to rip the base structure of the temple apart.
If we knew the actual weight of those exterior rooms, we could accurately calculate the forces involved. A quick guess would tell us, downward forces greatly outweighed those in the right and left rotational directions. There wasn’t much of a force in the outward direction compared to the downward direction, but they did exist. Those are details of Solomon’s temple most people overlook.
People often overlook outside forces tearing apart their churches, and their lives. People tend to give less consideration to those forces than they give to the design of Solomon’s temple. We can agree, if God agreed, or disagreed with Solomon’s design, God had a way of using the design to teach a host of lessons.
When we take a closer look at Peter’s letter, we see a few details about God’s spiritual temple we should pay attention to. God’s temple is designed to get rid of all evil behavior. There are no evil influences in God’s design. That may seem impossible to us. If we examined one day in a church, or one day in our lives, we would be amazed at all the evil influences and distractions in a single day. Peter offered a solution. Peter used the symbol of being born again, starting from scratch, forgetting everything we’ve learned, looking to God and Jesus for that spiritual milk in His Word. Not only look for it, but cry out for God’s Word. That is a rather strong way of saying, “listen to God.”
Peter pointed out who the master builder is. It is God’s job to build. Did Peter mention anything about God chiseling away at us in some distant location until we fit in at the local church, or the church body of our choice? Of course not. That is a man made concept. One of those traditions we need to forget, before we can see what is written in God’s Word, and listen to His voice.
Peter was very direct in pointing out Jesus as our mediator. Peter used a Greek word with a wide variety of applications. The NLT translation caught onto the dynamic translation of Peter’s message and used the word mediation. Most other translations used a much more passive translation. Let’s take a look at the actual Greek word Peter used.
Διά dia dee-ah’
A primary preposition denoting the channel of an act; through (in very wide applications, local, causal or occasional). In composition it retains the same general import: – after, always, among, at, to avoid, because of (that), briefly, by, for (cause) . . . fore, from, in, by occasion of, of, by reason of, for sake, that, thereby, therefore, X though, through (-out), to, wherefore, with (-in). In composition it retains the same general import.
It seems rather strange to see the Greek work was dia, the English abbreviation of diameter. After writing about two opposing rotational forces on Solomon’s temple, I have to ask myself if God planned this as a type of confirmation, or is it just a coincidence?
If you looked at a copy of my Bible with all the key words highlighted, you’d be amazed at the way Peter repeated a number of words and phrases. You can look at them yourself and see how he emphasized priest, and rejected. Two words showing us, Peter used a contrast to teach a lesson. That word translated mediation in the NLT pointed out how we work with Jesus to change, for lack of a better term, or evil ways. No one knows us like Jesus does. No one is better equipped to point out our evil tendencies than Jesus. No one has a chance of showing how doctrines and traditions tear us away from God. And no one can tell us how God needs us to perform as his priests. So why do churches want to use that sentence from 1 Kings to say, “we’re supposed to finish off your rough edges so you can fit into God’s temple.” That’s the another popular interpretation of that stony about finishing stones in a quarry.
Let’s take a look at how Peter finished that particular lesson and how he summed it up.
Through Christ you have come to trust in God. And you have placed your faith and hope in God because he raised Christ from the dead and gave him great glory. You were cleansed from your sins when you obeyed the truth, so now you must show sincere love to each other as brothers and sisters. Love each other deeply with all your heart. For you have been born again, but not to a life that will quickly end. Your new life will last forever because it comes from the eternal, living word of God. As the Scriptures say, “People are like grass; their beauty is like a flower in the field. The grass withers and the flower fades. But the word of the Lord remains forever.” And that word is the Good News that was preached to you. (1 Peter 1:21-25 NLTse).
Everything Peter wrote pointed to people coming to Christ, learning from Him, and refining themselves while they are part of God’s spiritual temple. Can we explain how that happens? We’d be fools to try to explain how God makes that work, or why He choose to use that process. But some people think they have to explain everything. Those are people who think it is their job to change lives. And the saddest part is, they think they can do it.
Based on the brief description of Solomon’s temple, two questions come to mind. The temple was 45 feet tall, with windows all around. The rooms were three stories high, each 7 feet tall, less than half the height of the temple. That left plenty of room for windows to allow direct sunlight. This seems logical from a design standpoint, but is there a spirit side?
The east end of the courtyard, the front, will also be 75 feet long. The courtyard entrance will be on the east end, flanked by two curtains. The curtain on the right side will be 22 feet long, supported by three posts set into three bases. (Exodus 27:13-14 NLTse).
The Tabernacle had one opening facing east, in other words, the courtyard, which contained a number of items with spiritual meanings.
Place the altar of burnt offering in front of the Tabernacle entrance. Set the washbasin between the Tabernacle and the altar, and fill it with water. Then set up the courtyard around the outside of the tent, and hang the curtain for the courtyard entrance. (Exodus 40:6-8 NLTse).
Up to this point, God hadn’t revealed the spiritual meaning of the washbasin or altar. Solomon may have had an idea of what they pointed to, but he didn’t receive a full description of their spiritual meaning. God had a reason for the single opening in the Tabernacle to point in one direction with the altar in plain view. The two worked together to explain Jesus’ ministry, as well as steps in that ministry. Did those windows in Solomon’s temple point to outside influences in Jesus life, that interference He endured, or some type of interference we face while Jesus moved unto the next phase of His ministry inside the Heavenly Sanctuary? We’ll have to see if the Bible explains those details. When we look at openings, we have to consider all the aspect. The number of openings, where they are located, the direction each opening faces, and differences between the original Tabernacle, and its replacement.
Solomon Completed the Structure
1 Kings 6:9-10 NLTse After completing the Temple structure, Solomon put in a ceiling made of cedar beams and planks. (10) As already stated, he built a complex of rooms on three sides of the building, attached to the Temple walls by cedar timbers. Each story of the complex was 7 feet high.
We finally see how tall those rooms on the outside were. As usual, we see the style of writing where details are added at a later time. We also see how those exterior rooms are repeated. Which of course is arranged to draw our attention to the detail. We also see how Solomon added cedar beams and planks to the inside of the temple.
We must have missed a detail on those rooms. When we see how they were attached, we see ledges stuck out from the temple sides. Special ledges designed to support beams, that supported the floors and roof of the rooms. We also see how the temple stones were finished in the quarry, so no tools were used on site. Did that mean no tools were used anywhere in or on the temple, or was that just referring to the stones?
If beams were fastened to stone ledges to support rooms with the slighted outward force, those beams had to be fastened to the ledges using something. Today we would use large nuts and bolts. Solomon must have used something like pins. Were holes for those pins bored at the quarry, and the holes in the beams drilled off site? That could have been done. But there are hundreds of details we have not considered that would have required tools. We don’t know for sure, but there may be a possibility.
God Talked to Solomon
1 Kings 6:11-13 NLTse Then the LORD gave this message to Solomon: (12) “Concerning this Temple you are building, if you keep all my decrees and regulations and obey all my commands, I will fulfill through you the promise I made to your father, David. (13) I will live among the Israelites and will never abandon my people Israel.”
After all that work, God spoke only two sentences to Solomon. What was Solomon supposed to see in those two sentences? The core of the message centered around keeping all of God’s decrees, regulations, and obeying all of God’s commands. Where were those stored? The Ten Commandments were inside the Ark. The laws and decrees Moses recorded were stored in the side of the Ark. The Ark was the center, or heart of the Tabernacle. God was reminding Solomon what the center of the temple should have been. God reminded Solomon why He used such a simple design. The Tabernacle was not designed the way God designed it just so the tent could be taken apart and transported. God’s design didn’t draw attention away from the important details in the Tabernacle, but to keep the proper focus on them.
Who lived in the center of the Tabernacle? God of course. Is that what the design of the Tabernacle pointed to?
Solomon’s Design in Detail
1 Kings 6:14-38 NLTse So Solomon finished building the Temple. (15) The entire inside, from floor to ceiling, was paneled with wood. He paneled the walls and ceilings with cedar, and he used planks of cypress for the floors. (16) He partitioned off an inner sanctuary–the Most Holy Place–at the far end of the Temple. It was 30 feet deep and was paneled with cedar from floor to ceiling. (17) The main room of the Temple, outside the Most Holy Place, was 60 feet long. (18) Cedar paneling completely covered the stone walls throughout the Temple, and the paneling was decorated with carvings of gourds and open flowers. (19) He prepared the inner sanctuary at the far end of the Temple, where the Ark of the LORD’s Covenant would be placed. (20) This inner sanctuary was 30 feet long, 30 feet wide, and 30 feet high. He overlaid the inside with solid gold. He also overlaid the altar made of cedar. (21) Then Solomon overlaid the rest of the Temple’s interior with solid gold, and he made gold chains to protect the entrance to the Most Holy Place. (22) So he finished overlaying the entire Temple with gold, including the altar that belonged to the Most Holy Place. (23) He made two cherubim of wild olive wood, each 15 feet tall, and placed them in the inner sanctuary. (24) The wingspan of each of the cherubim was 15 feet, each wing being 7 feet long. (25) The two cherubim were identical in shape and size; (26) each was 15 feet tall. (27) He placed them side by side in the inner sanctuary of the Temple. Their outspread wings reached from wall to wall, while their inner wings touched at the center of the room. (28) He overlaid the two cherubim with gold. (29) He decorated all the walls of the inner sanctuary and the main room with carvings of cherubim, palm trees, and open flowers. (30) He overlaid the floor in both rooms with gold. (31) For the entrance to the inner sanctuary, he made double doors of wild olive wood with five-sided doorposts. (32) These double doors were decorated with carvings of cherubim, palm trees, and open flowers. The doors, including the decorations of cherubim and palm trees, were overlaid with gold. (33) Then he made four-sided doorposts of wild olive wood for the entrance to the Temple. (34) There were two folding doors of cypress wood, and each door was hinged to fold back upon itself. (35) These doors were decorated with carvings of cherubim, palm trees, and open flowers–all overlaid evenly with gold. (36) The walls of the inner courtyard were built so that there was one layer of cedar beams between every three layers of finished stone. (37) The foundation of the LORD’s Temple was laid in midspring, in the month of Ziv, during the fourth year of Solomon’s reign. (38) The entire building was completed in every detail by midautumn, in the month of Bul, during the eleventh year of his reign. So it took seven years to build the Temple.
There are some details recorded about Solomon’s temple, but not as many as the Tabernacle. God was very detailed about the Tabernacle, the items, as well as how the material was collected, and how He chose and trained the labor force to construct all the items associated with the Tabernacle. By my count, descriptions of the Tabernacle span twelve chapters, plus a number of chapters on the services, and more on the sacrifices. The temple has seven chapters recording descriptions of its details.
One would think, a larger grander structure would require much more planning and details to build it. At any rate, that gives us nearly twenty chapters in the Bible to research and compare. I’ve been praying about this, and would prefer to stick with the verse by verse style of study used throughout this series of books. But I don’t see how chapters can contain all the information and references to compare all the details recorded about the Tabernacle and temple. We will have to take the chapters in 1 Kings, compare them to chapters in Chronicles, then go back to compare the stone temple to the Tabernacle, That would be one long chapter. Or it could be split in a series of chapters, taking each detail as the come along, in the order they appear in 1 Kings.