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Solomon's Temple

Solomon's Temple is described in I Kings 6 - 8.

Construction took place over seven years, with the dedication in the 7th month with a seven-day festival. The large cherubim — why might our author be interested in this? Because they are associated with the presence of god. The pillars are roughly named: strength and might convey power. Making these pillars was a way of suggesting that they were superimposing columns representing the greatness of the temple. Incense filled the room with smoke, mimicking the idea on Mount Sinai where Moses was enveloped in smoke whenever he spoke to G-d.

How have Biblical writers used this imagery in I Kings to get into creation?



Divine plan

Temples are known to be a sacred space, but there was a conceptual change: how could non-diving entities (human beings) build the Temple? Well, this was resolved by conveying that it allegedly had a divine plan. It was not just conjured up, but given plans by the deity directly. Biblical writers connect the Temple directly with what the Temple represents. This has some precedent, as with the blueprints for tabernacle שמות Ex. 25 - 31; and seven sets of instructions given to Moses on how to build the tabernacle, including a Sabbath like G-d took.


The number seven is one the main way the writers connect the Temple to creation itself.


When a worshipper visited the Temple, different pieces of furniture presented visual aides to make the visitor focus on the environment as uniquely Israelite. There were wheeled stands, water basins, the big water bowl, the pillars, and a sacrificial pillar.

Pool and pillars

What about the two pillars, and the pool? The sea was the abzu. The first chapter of Genesis described the dome separating waters above and below. Solomon set up columns amidst the waters below to hold up the dome. Psalm 104 gives insight. Taking this image further is the water below and the giant bowl.


The cherubim on the facade connect the temple to creation: his perhaps takes us back to another lush location, the garden of Eden. Cherubim guard the garden of Eden בראשית Gen. 3. Also, the Temple included exotic vegetal motifs like lotus flower decorations on capitals.

Why would the author try to connect the temple to the garden of Eden in addition to creation? There may have been in the minds of the Biblical authors a connection between garden of Eden and the Temple, an easy assumption since both contain presence of then deity. Connecting the Temple and Eden layers on thick the idea that the Temple in Jerusalem is holy not just because of a connection between creation and the Temple, but because priests represent the class in Israel that can mediate the sacred and profane realms in the temple. They can go out into the profane realm in the courtyard but also across the boundaries imposed when the human couple was exiled from the garden. This reconciles the fact that the first human couple was exiled from the garden.