The Temple at Jerusalem


Brethren,

This is the second of three Masonic Papers uploaded by
Wor. Bro. Ernest Bastow of Sydney, Australia.  Have divided
them into messages.  The file will be TEMPLES.TXT in Files
area # 15 on "The Ninth Arch".

      THE TEMPLES AT JERUSALEM - HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

Since the earliest times, man has built temples or shrines where he
could worship his god in his "house". The Tower of Babel is the
first such structure mentioned in the Bible, Babel being the name
of one of the chief cities founded by Nimrod in the land of Sumer,
or ancient Babylon. Nimrod was a prodigious builder and was King of
Babylon at the time of the Tower of Babel. Although as yet there is
no archaeological evidence to confirm the existence of a city and
tower of Babylon before about 1800 BC, a text of Sharkalisharri,
King of Agade about 2250 BC, mentions his restoration of the
temple-tower or "ziggurat" at Babylon, which implies the existence
of an earlier sacred city on the site. It is now believed that when
Ur-Nammur, the King of Ur, built a ziggurat in about 2100 BC, it
replaced the first Tower of Babel, probably constructed prior to
4000 BC. The ziggurats comprised a series of superimposed
platforms, each from about 10 to 20 metres in height and of
progressively diminishing area; access was by ramps or stairways.
The structure was surmounted by a temple, to which it was believed
that God would descend and communicate with mankind. The
traditional history of the Masons' Guilds stated that their trade
secrets were first given to the trade by Nimrod. The old Charges of
Nimrod are still included in the ritual of operative Free Masons,
the first of which requires that all Free Masons shall be true to
their God, their King, their Lord and their Masters.

When he was 70 years old Abraham, who was born "Abram" in Ur of the
Chaldees around 2160 BC, received a Divine call to search for a
land where he could build an Israelitish nation free from idolatry.
To fulfil his mission, Abraham first moved to Harran on the Balikh
River, a tributary of the Euphrates 1,000 kilometres north-west of
Ur, where he stayed until his father died about five years later.
Thence he travelled southwards in stages to the vale of Moreh,
between Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim in Canaan, where Yahweh
promised Abraham the possession of the whole land from the
Euphrates to the south-west. Abraham then built "an altar to the
Lord, who appeared unto him." As the Canaanites were jealous of
Abraham, he soon moved south to the mountainous district between
Beth-el and Ai, where he also built an altar to Jehovah. Abraham
continued to move southwards until driven by famine from the Negeb
into Egypt, but he later returned as a wealthy man to the
mountainous district, where he again established the worship of
Jehovah. God reiterated his promise to Abraham, who then moved to
Mamre near Hebron, where he built another altar.

In about 2080 BC, after rescuing his nephew Lot by defeating a
confederation of four Babylonian kings under the leadership of
Chedorlaomer, the despotic King of Elam, Abraham was blessed in the
name of God by Melchizedek, the King of Salem and "priest of the
most high God". Melchizedeck prefigured Christ, offering bread and
wine as the memorials of sacrifice. Because in this sacrament he
glimpsed a messianic revelation of El Elyon, the most high God,
Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek in token of this recognition.
God then renewed his promise to Abraham with the explanation that,
before his people should inherit Canaan, they would spend 400 years
in a foreign land. God also revealed himself to Abraham as El
Shaddai, the all powerful God, able to consummate his staggering
promise of a coming Redeemer. It was at this juncture that Abram,
which signifies "eminent father", changed his name to Abraham,
which signifies "father of a multitude", as a token of what El
Shaddai would do in his redemptive power. The renewal of the
covenant was also sealed by the introduction of the ceremony of
circumcision, as a spiritual symbol of the purification of life at
its very source, as well as signifying the messianic hope for a
Redeemer and Covenant-Fulfiller. Abraham was 175 years old when he
died, which was 115 years before Jacob and his family migrated to
Egypt. As Jacob passed out of Canaan around 1870 BC, God gave him
an assurance that his descendants would return to the Promised
Land.

THE TABERNACLE

As the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were semi-nomadic, they
could not build a permanent shrine for worship, as was the custom
in the cities of Mesopotamia when Abraham left Ur. After a sojourn
of 430 years in Egypt, the Israelitish nation came into being with
the institution of the Feast of the Passover and the beginning of
the Exodus around 1440 BC, under the leadership of Moses and with
the guidance of the Pillar of Cloud by day and the Pillar of Fire
by night. During the second year of the Exodus, Moses made the most
zealous intercessions on behalf of his people, spending two periods
of forty days and nights on Mount Sinai. Moses was rewarded when
the glory of the Lord was revealed to him, the tables of the law
were renewed and a new covenant was made with Israel. It was then
that the Tabernacle, or "tent of congregation", was erected as a
portable sanctuary in accordance with directions given to Moses by
Jehovah. The Tabernacle was oriented from east to west and later
became a prototype for the temple at Jerusalem.

The Tabernacle was composed of two parts, the "mishkan" or
tabernacle proper and the "ohel", or tent. In its strictest sense,
the word "tabernacle" refers to the ten linen curtains that were
hung along one end and the two sides of the tabernacle proper, the
walls of which consisted of planks of shittim or acacia wood plated
on both sides with sheets of gold. The curtains had figures of
cherubim woven into the blue, purple and scarlet tapestry work. The
interior of the mishkan was divided by a veil of the same material,
colour and design as the curtains, to form two compartments. The
larger compartment at the eastern end was called the "hekhal" or
"Holy Place". The western compartment was a perfect cube called the
"debir" or "Holy of Holies", in which the Ark of the Covenant
rested under the protective wings of two huge cherubim. Covering
the whole was the tent of foxy black or brownish colour, being a
fly roof of goats'- hair canvas called camelot, such as is still
used by nomadic Arabs. The tabernacle continued to be the
provisional meeting place of God and the "chosen people" long after
their entry into Canaan. Under the Judges it was at Shiloh and in
Saul's reign it was at Nob and later at Gibeon.
The Hebrews naturally attached a great deal of symbolism to various
aspects of the Tabernacle, as well as the related ceremonials. In
particular, the "tent of congregation" typified God dwelling with
his people, while the Ark of the Covenant was a constant reminder
of God's presence and forgiving love. The twelve cakes of
shewbread, placed on a table in front of the "menorah" in the holy
place, represented the dedication of the Twelve Tribes of Israel to
divine service. The "menorah", which was a seven branched
candlestick of pure gold, typified Israel as a people called to be
the children of light. The incense ascending from the altar of
incense, which was placed in the middle of the space near to and in
front of the inner veil, symbolised the act of prayer. The early
Christian evangelists interpreted the two compartments of the
Tabernacle as typifying the earthly and heavenly aspects of
Christ's ministry. They said that, by His symbolism of the rent
veil, Christ had opened up for everyone a way into the holy of
holies.

OTHER PROTOTYPES FOR THE TEMPLE AT JERUSALEM

Because of Egypt's role in the history of the Hebrew people, as
well as their cultural and intellectual links with the Israelites
before and during the construction of the first temple at
Jerusalem, our predecessors in operative Free Masonry and those who
drafted our rituals during the emergence of speculative
Freemasonry, were firmly convinced that Egypt had provided the
model on which King Solomon's Temple was based. However,
archaeological excavations in Iraq, Syria and the Levant since the
1930's, provide irrefutable evidence that the Temple at Jerusalem
belongs in the direct line of tradition found in the countries of
the Middle East. This tradition was bringing about significant
transitions in human attitudes to the divinity for at least 2,000
years before the construction of the Temple at Jerusalem. The first
and perhaps the oldest such temple was discovered in the early
1930's. It was a small temple, adjacent to the ancient royal palace
of Tell Tainat in the north of Syria.

During the 1950's a Canaanite temple was discovered while
excavating the ancient lower city of Hazor in the north of
Palestine. Hazor was only occupied for about 500 years, having been
destroyed and burnt some 500 years before the construction of the
first temple at Jerusalem, but never again inhabited. Excavations
on the banks of the Euphrates River at Lake el-Assad, during the
1970's, revealed four similar small temples at Emar, constructed
some 200 to 400 years before the first temple at Jerusalem. Other
temples of similar design have been discovered at Ebla and
Moumbaqat in Syria, all predating the first temple at Jerusalem by
about 800 years. All of these temples have similar characteristics
to the first temple at Jerusalem, being elongated about 3:1 in plan
and subdivided into two compartments. Most are fronted by a porch
or entrance way similar to that at Jerusalem, some with columns.

The various temple designs of Palestine and Syria indicate that
King Solomon's Temple, which was the first temple constructed at
Jerusalem, could not have been copied from a single temple, but
rather that it was patterned on a general type that allowed a
logical progression of priests and worshippers from the profane
outside world to the sacred inner sanctum. The layout of those
temples was similar to that of the Tabernacle, which was
contemporaneous with some of the oldest temples so far discovered.
The deep significance of this progression of priests and
worshippers, commencing from the profane outside world and leading
to the sacred precincts, is reflected in the names of the
compartments in the Tabernacle and later in King Solomon's Temple.
The Phoenicians, who were more advanced culturally than the
Hebrews, played a great part in the design and construction of King
Solomon's Temple. Their long experience in temple building
undoubtedly had a significant influence on the temple at Jerusalem.

KING SOLOMON'S TEMPLE

With the death of Saul, about 1010 BC, David became the King of
Judah. Seven or eight years later he was anointed King over all
Israel. When David had consolidated his power and built a permanent
residence for himself, the lack of a shrine of Yahweh seemed
invidious to him. He said "I dwell in a house of cedar, but the Ark
of God dwelleth within curtains". But David was stained with the
blood of his enemies, which precluded him from building a temple to
the Lord. Nevertheless he collected materials, gathered treasure
and purchased a site for the construction. The site chosen was the
threshing-floor of Araunah the Jebusite, within the area now called
Haram esh-Sherif on Mount Moriah on the east side of the "Old City"
of Jerusalem. While the precise location is uncertain, it is
believed that the highest part of the rock now covered by the
mosque known as the "Dome of the Rock", almost certainly was the
location of the Holy of Holies in the first temple.

King Solomon commenced the actual construction in the fourth year
of his reign and completed it seven years later, about 950 BC. To
facilitate the work he entered into a treaty with Hiram King of
Tyre, whereby Hiram would permit Solomon to obtain cedar and
cypress wood and blocks of stone from Lebanon. Furthermore,
Solomon's workmen would be permitted to fell the timber and to
quarry and hew the stones under the direction of Hiram's skilled
workmen. In addition, Solomon was provided with the services of a
skilful Tyrian artisan named Huram, to take charge of the castings
and of the manufacture of the more valuable furniture and
furnishings of the temple. In return for all of the services
provided by Hiram, Solomon agreed to send to him every year
4,400,000 litres of crushed wheat, 4,400,000 litres of barley, as
well as 440,000 litres of wine and 440,000 litres of oil. Solomon
raised a levy of forced labour out of all Israel, totalling 30,000
men, which he sent to Lebanon in relays of 10,000 a month.
Adoniram, who had been an officer of King David in charge of labour
gangs, continued under King Solomon and was placed in charge of the
levy working in Lebanon. Solomon also had 70,000 burden bearers and
80,000 hewers of stone in the hill country, as well as 3,300
officers who had charge of the people who carried out the work.
Some thirty years after the completion of the temple, when Rehoboam
sent Adoniram to enforce the collection of taxes, the exasperated
populace rebelled and stoned him to death.

The temple was a prefabricated building, constructed of limestone
quarried and dressed in or near Jerusalem and timber from the
forests of Lebanon. It was oriented due east-west, with a single
entrance at the eastern end. King Solomon's Temple was constructed
with an uncovered porch or entrance way at the eastern end, called
the "ulam". The porch was 10 cubits in length along the axis of the
temple and 20 cubits wide. It was fronted by two columns, that on
the right, or north side, being called "Jachin" and that on the
left, or south side, being called "Boaz". The compartments of the
Tabernacle were replicated in King Solomon's Temple, but they were
made twice as large. The porch gave entrance into the "hekhal", or
Holy Place, which was 40 cubits long, 20 cubits wide and 30 cubits
high. The Holy Place was lit by latticed windows near the ceiling.
This hall was accessible only to priests and was used for daily
worship, for religious ritual and for the presentation of
offerings. At the western end was the "debir", or Holy of Holies,
which was a perfect cube having sides of 20 cubits. There were no
windows in the Holy of Holies, which received light only through
the doorway from the Holy Place. The Holy of Holies was accessible
only to the high priest, probably once a year for the atonement
ceremony.

The temple proper was surrounded on the north, west and south by
store chambers three stories high. Among these, on the southern
side, was the "Middle Chamber" to which access was gained by a
winding stair in the south-east corner of the building. The whole
structure was on a platform about 2 metres above the upper or inner
court that surrounded it, requiring ten steps to ascend. This inner
court was raised above the surrounding great, or outer court, which
required eight steps to ascend. The outer court was also raised
above the surroundings, requiring another seven steps to ascend.
Each of these courts was enclosed by walls comprising three rows of
hewn stone, surmounted by a row of cedar beams. In the upper or
inner court, as also for the court of the Tabernacle, there was a
brazen altar of burnt offering, a brazen sea and ten brazen lavers
for use by the priests in their ablutions and for ceremonial
purification.

There is no doubt that King Solomon's Temple was a magnificent
edifice which surpassed anything that had preceded it, being noted
for the lavish beauty of its detail and the opulence of its
furnishings rather than for its size. No stonework was visible
inside, because the compartments were ceiled and panelled with
cedar wood and the floors were planked with cypress. Access to the
Holy Place was through double folding doors of cypress wood, each
divided into upper and lower sections. The Holy of Holies was
separated from the Holy Place by double doors of olive wood. Both
sets of doors were usually left open, but were screened with veils
similar in ornamentation to those in the Tabernacle. The walls and
doors were carved with palm trees, garlands, opening flowers and
cherubim, richly inlaid with gold. The ceiling and floor of the
Holy Place, as well as the whole of the interior of the Holy of
Holies, were overlaid with gold plate.

The furnishings of the Holy Place included an altar of incense, ten
golden seven-branched lampstands, often called lampsticks; also
twelve tables for the loaves of shewbread. Within the Holy of
Holies there were two cherubim, 10 cubits high, carved from olive
wood and overlaid with gold, symbolising the majestic presence of
God. Modern research shows that the cherubim would have been winged
sphinxes, each with the body of a lion and a human head, this
hybrid animal being extremely common in the iconography of western
Asia between 1800 BC and 600 BC. The cherubim stood in a brooding
attitude with outstretched wings, their adjacent wing tips touching
above the Ark of the Covenant resting in the middle of the
apartment, while the tip of each other wing touched the north and
south walls respectively. The ark of the covenant was made of
shittim or acacia wood, overlaid with pure gold within and without.
It contained the two tables of stone on which were engraved the ten
commandments, these being the terms of God's covenant with Israel.

THE TWO GREAT PILLARS

The two great pillars at the porch giving entrance to King
Solomon's Temple were hollow and cast of bronze, 18 cubits high, 12
cubits in circumference and four fingers thick. They were
surmounted by double capitals, 5 cubits in their combined height,
but probably cast in two separate parts. The lower part, or
chapiter, was the lotus work, comprising four open and everted
petals each 4 cubits wide. The upper part, or capital, was a bowl
rather than a sphere. The hollow columns were cast by the Tyrrians
in moulds dug in the ground, using the "lost wax" method developed
by the Assyrians in the Bronze Age, probably around 1200 BC. In
this method the mould is formed round a wax core, which melts away
during casting. With large castings such as the pillars, the wax
core would be formed round a sand or earth core. The Tyrrians were
experienced in this method of casting, such columns being common in
Syria, Phoenicia and Cyprus at that time.

Modern research indicates that the upper bowl probably was a vessel
to contain oil, which could be lit at night. Similar decorated
pillars are known to have been used at shrines in Palestine and
Cyprus, during the period 1000 BC to 900 BC. The Greek historian
Herodotus, writing around 450 BC, described two large pillars near
the temple of Hercules at Tyre, which "shone at night". Like the
Phoenician models, the two immense incense stands at the porch of
King Solomon's Temple would have illuminated the facade of the
temple on Mount Moriah at night, whilst also catching the first
glint of the Jerusalem sunrise. They have been interpreted as
sacred obelisks, their blazing smoking wicks recalling to
worshippers the pillars of fire and cloud that led the Israelites
of old through the wilderness.

The pillars were completed and named before the dedication of the
temple. Although their names have often been ascribed as enshrining
the memory of David's ancestry, it is now known that this was not
the reason for naming them. It has been shown convincingly that the
names of these two columns stood for the initial, or key words,
spoken by oracles and inscribed on the columns. In seeking to give
power to the Davidic dynasty, as well as to express King Solomon's
gratitude to the Almighty, the oracles probably used invocations
such as: "Yahweh will establish (jachin) thy throne forever" and
"The king's strength (boaz) is in Yahweh". The bowls were not
representations of the then known terrestrial and celestial globes,
nor did the pillars serve as archives for the constitutional rolls,
as is often suggested.

THE CAPTIVITY AND EZEKIEL'S TEMPLE

Ancient temples usually served as state treasuries, being filled
with booty or emptied to pay tribute as the power of the land waxed
and waned. King Solomon's Temple was no exception. The treasures
which King Solomon had accumulated in the temple were raided in the
reign of his son, Rehoboam, by Shishak of Egypt. Later kings,
including even Hezekiah who adorned the temple, used the treasures
to purchase the favour of allies or to pay tribute and buy off
invaders. Then followed idolatrous kings who desecrated the temple
and allowed it to fall into decay, so that, by the time of Josiah
three centuries after construction of the temple, it was in need of
considerable repair which had to be financed by contributions from
the worshippers. Finally the temple was looted by Nebuchadnezzar
and sacked in 587 BC during his destruction of Jerusalem. The
deportation of the Hebrews into Babylonish captivity commenced with
the capture of the Ten Tribes of Israel in 722 BC and was completed
following the destruction of Jerusalem. Ezekiel was captured and
deported to Babylon in 597 BC with Jehoiachin, becoming an
important Hebrew prophet of the Exile.

Ezekiel's mission was to comfort the captives in Babylon, which
comprised "all the house of Israel". His prophesies were numerous,
including many concerning the surrounding nations, all of which
were fulfilled. He made many prophesies of Israel's final
restoration, including his messianic prophesy that the false
shepherds would give way to the True Shepherd, foretelling the
coming of Christ. He also spoke of the restoration of the land and
of the people and gave his vision of the restored nation and their
worship in the new Kingdom. The exiles were heartened in their
grief by Ezekiel's vision of a new Temple, which would be erected
during their restoration. Ezekiel's description related to a temple
similar to King Solomon's, but he gave more details which help us
to establish details that are missing from descriptions of the
latter. Ezekiel's temple was never built, even when the second
temple was constructed at Jerusalem.

THE DECREE OF CYRUS AND THE SECOND TEMPLE

Cyrus came to the throne of Anshan, an Elamite region, about 559
BC. He clashed with a Median king and when the Median army rebelled
Cyrus captured the walled city of Ecbatana (modern Hamadan) and the
Persians were then in the ascendancy. Cyrus rapidly extended his
conquests, defeating Croesus the king of Lydia about 546 BC, then
conquering Babylon in 539 BC, thus founding the vast Persian
Empire, under whose dominion Judea was to remain a province for the
next two centuries. Cyrus established his capital at Pasargadae in
the land of Parsa and ruled until his death in 530 BC. In 538 BC
Cyrus issued the following decree, releasing the Jews in Babylonian
Exile: "Thus saith Cyrus King of Persia, all the kingdoms of the
earth hath Jehovah, the God of heaven, given me; and he hath
charged me to build him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah.
Whosoever there is among you of all his people, his God be with him
and let him go to Jerusalem . . . and build the house of Jehovah .
. ." About 42,360 Israelites returned progressively, under the
leadership of Sheshbazzar or Zerubbabel in 535 BC, under Ezra in
458 BC and under Nehemiah in 445 BC.

The first small band who returned to Jerusalem soon began
rebuilding the temple, under Jeshua the high priest and Zerubbabel
the governor. However, their meagre resources and the many
difficulties encountered delayed the completion until 515 BC,
almost twenty years after leaving Babylon, but long before all the
exiles had returned from captivity. Indeed, it was only completed
then because of the efforts of the prophets Haggai and Zechariah,
who urged the work on in the later stages. No accurate description
of the second temple exists, but the layout appears to have been
similar to that of the first temple with the height increased to 60
cubits. However it was much less ornate, lacked the sumptuous
finishes and the furnishings were scanty. So far as is known, the
Holy Place in the second temple, like the first tabernacle, had
only a curtain at its entrance, one lampstand, one table of
shewbread and the golden altar of incense. Another curtain gave
entrance to the Holy of Holies, but it was empty because the Ark of
the Covenant had been destroyed when Jerusalem was sacked by
Nebuchadnezzar in 587 BC. Nevertheless, the second temple, usually
referred to as Zerubbabel's Temple, survived almost 500 years, much
longer than any other temple at Jerusalem, finally being taken by
the Roman general Pompey when he captured Jerusalem in 63 BC.
Although Pompey did not harm the temple, the Roman consul Crassus
plundered it of all its gold and other valuables nine years later.

HEROD'S TEMPLE

A discussion of the temples at Jerusalem would not be complete
without mentioning Herod's Temple. Our principal source of
information is Josephus, the Jewish historian and priest who
flourished about 70 AD. Herod the Great, or Herod the tetrarch of
Galilee, came from the Negeb between the Dead Sea and the
Mediterranean. He was of Idumaean blood and Edomite stock,
descended from Esau. Herod was an indefatigable builder, who wished
to show his own grandeur by restoring the temple as a larger, more
complex and much more beautiful building. He took great pains to
carry out the reconstruction piecemeal, without interrupting the
ritual observances, even training 1,000 priests as masons to build
the shrine. The work was begun about 20 BC and the main structure
was finished in ten years, but the whole complex was not finally
completed until 64 AD. The temple area was twice that of
Zerubbabel's Temple, but the total area of development was more
than ten hectares. The temple was burned when Jerusalem fell to the
Roman armies in 70 AD, when the golden candelabrum, the golden
table of shewbread and other valuables were carried off to Rome. In
Rome, bas reliefs carved on the triumphal arch of Titus depict
Roman soldiers carrying off the looted temple furniture.

ORIENTATION

Lodges of operative Free Masons have always adopted the orientation
of the temples at Jerusalem, with the entrance in the east and the
master in the west. Lodges of speculative Freemasons are the
reverse, which causes some confusion in symbolism, because the
words of the ritual are based on the original orientation.

D.H.B. FALCONER, P.M.
01 FEBRUARY 1993.