We know that the Azarah was 135 cubits from north to south, and 187 cubits from east to west. The Royal Cubit of 20.67 inches was used. We know where the Sanctuary was located and the Kodesh ha Kodeshim is the rock under the Dome of the Rock. The walls of the Kodesh ha Kodeshim can be seen on this rock. From an article in Biblical Archeology Review magazine it says, “Along the southern end of es-Sakhra (the Arab name for the Foundation Stone or “rock” under the dome) there are two flat rectangular areas and other, less noticeable flat areas to their south, just before the bedrock slopes dramatically down, combine to form a foundation trench over ten feet wide-equal to the 6 cubit width given in the Mishnah for the thickness of the Temple walls. This yields one wall of the Temple. The back wall would have been placed against a natural rockscarp along the west, with the north wall adjacent to the northern end of es-Sakhra. Now the significance of the rectangular depression near the north end of es-Sakhra becomes clear. It is exactly in the center of the proposed Holy of Holies.” In other words, when you look at photos of this rock, there is a rectangular depression that fits the dimensions of the Ark of the Covenant and that is what is being referred to here. Knowing this, they are able to place where the Sanctuary was, using the Royal cubit of 20.67 inches.
So, the Azarah can be placed because now you know where it stopped and where to place the gates. There were 13 gates in the Second Temple that came into the Temple compound. It is believed that there were 13 gates in the First Temple as well. Every gate had a history going back to the First Temple and these gates will change names over the years and we will look at this later in the teaching.
Solomon built a palace and there are three other main structures relating to the Temple and palace as well. He built his palace, the Beit Yair ha Levanon (House of the Forest of Lebanon), the Beit ha Mishpat (House of Judgment) and the Beit ha Amudim (House of Pillars). He also put up a house for the daughter of Pharaoh, his favored wife, but this was not part of the Temple. On the current Temple Mount, we have the southern end and there is a mosque there called Al-Aqsa. Fifty yards north there is the Al-Kos fountain, and continuing north you come to a stairway up to the Moslem platform. There are eight stairways. Researchers believe that Solomon’s palace was in the area of the Al-Kos fountain (Anchor Bible Dictionary; “Jerusalem”-Illustrated Encyclopedia of Archeology of the Holy Land). There is an opinion that the eastern end of the palace (no dimensions are given on it’s dimensions) would have come to the Al-Kos fountain, then west from there. It had a west to east orientation, like the Temple. We know the palace was between the southern end of the Azarah and the northern end of the city of David.
Excavations showed buildings south of the southern wall from the time of Solomon, so we know the palace had to be north of them, inside the present day wall. The Hall of Judgment and the House of the Forest of Lebanon will be between the palace and the Azarah. The House of the Forest of Lebanon will eventually be a gate to the Temple, a very large structure. It is 100 cubits x 50 cubits going north to south. So, you could go up to Solomon’s palace, then pass the House of Pillars, then pass through the House of the Forest of Lebanon into the temple courtyard. There was a portico on the south side of the House of the Forest of Lebanon that was 50 cubits east to west and 30 cubits north to south. This structure served as an entry way into the House of the Forest of Lebanon. When we add all this together, the Azarah, the House of the Forest of Lebanon plus the House of Pillars it allows for Solomon’s palace going from north to south, within 500 cubits from north to south. That is assuming that Solomon’s palace complex, plus the Temple complex is what constructed the 500 cubit x 500 cubit Har ha Bayit (Temple Mount). The other structure on the southern side is the Hall of Judgment. The House of the Forest of Lebanon and the Hall of Judgment are on the spot where the Beit ha Otzrot and Beit Avtinas will stand in the Second Temple. The Tanach and Josephus will give us descriptions of these buildings. So, we are going to look at the House of the Forest of Lebanon first.
This building is 100 cubits long, 50 cubits wide and 30 cubits high (5 stories). This building is described in 1 Kings 7.1-5. Josephus describes this building in Antiquities, Book 8, Chapter 5, Paragraph 2: “This house was large and curious building, and was supported by many pillars, which Solomon built to contain a multitude for hearing causes and taking cognizance of suits. It was sufficiently capacious to contain a great body of men who would come together to have their cases determined. It was a hundred cubits long, and fifty broad, and thirty high, supported by quadrangular pillars, which were all of cedar; but its roof was according to the Corinthian order, with folding doors, and their adjoining pillars of equal magnitude, each fluted with three cavities: which building was at once firm and very ornamental.” Again Josephus in Antiquities, Book 8, Chapter 6, Paragraph 5 describes how the Queen of Sheba reacted to the House of the Forest of Lebanon: “So she was amazed at the wisdom of Solomon, and discovered that it was more excellent upon trial than what she had heard by report beforehand; and especially she was surprised at the fineness and largeness of his royal palace, and not less so at the good order of the apartments, for she observed that the king had therein shown great wisdom; but she was beyond measure astonished at the house which was called the Forest of Lebanon, as also at the magnificence of his daily table, and the circumstances of its preparation and ministration, with the apparel of his servants that waited, and the skillful and decent management of their attendance; nor was she less affected with those daily sacrifices which were offered to God, and the careful management which the priests and Levites used about them.”
So she was amazed at the magnitude of Solomon’s palace but she was even more amazed at the House of the Forest of Lebanon. You would think that his palace would be more important to her than another structure, but there is a reason for this. The House of the Forest of Lebanon was closer to the “palace” of God, the Temple itself. What Solomon is showing is that God is greater than the king’s of Israel. As you ascend to God’s house, the buildings will get greater and greater. These buildings will be greater adornment and magnitude as you approach God’s house. Now as we go through this study, you will need to keep your eye on the House of the Forest of Lebanon because it will change names.
In Part 3 we will pick here in our study of the House of the Forest of Lebanon, and then continue through with the other structures that were built by Solon. Remember, Solomon did not complete all of the Temple complex that was given to David in 1 Chr 28.11-19, the rest of the Temple plans that the Lord gave will be completed by later kings.