We are going to look at the First Temple, called Solomon’s Temple, and some of the research into it. This has always been a difficult task because there isn’t a lot of things written about it. For research into the Second Temple we have the Mishnah, Josephus (who saw it) and the Talmud. But, there isn’t a lot of information on the First Temple. Another problem is you can’t go up on the Temple Mount and excavate, so what we will need to do is piece together some of the information from the Scriptures, and Josephus does discuss the First Temple somewhat. We are not going to deal with all the furniture and some other things in this study, but we are going to look into the latest research on where certain buildings and gates were. This will translate into where the buildings and the gates were in the Second Temple because everything had to be built on the exact same spot as before. As a result, this research will help place the coming third Temple buildings which is coming very soon.
In The Mishnah, Middot 2.1, the Temple Mount is called “Har ha Bayit” or “mountain of the House.” The Temple Mount is not the whole mountain, but a 500 cubit by 500 cubit square where the Temple and the courts stood. Not everything up there is “the Temple Mount.” Josephus in “Wars of the Jews” Book 5, Chapter 5, Paragraph 1 says, “Now this temple, as I have already said, was built upon a strong hill. At first the plain at the top was hardly sufficient for the holy house and the altar, for the ground about it was very uneven, and like a precipice; but when king Solomon, who was the person that built the Temple, had built a wall to it on the east side, there as then added own cloister founded on a back cast up for it, and on the other parts the holy house stood naked; but in future ages the people added new banks, and the hill became a large plain. They then broke down the wall on then north side, and took in as much as sufficed afterward for the compass of the entire temple; and when thy had built walls on the three sides of the temple round about, from the bottom of the hill, and had performed a work that was greater than could be hoped for in which work long ages were spent by them, as well as all their sacred treasures were exhausted, which were still replenished by those tributes which were sent to God from the whole habitable earth, they then encompassed their upper courts with cloisters, as well as the afterward did the lowest court of the temple. The lowest part of this was erected to the height of 300 cubits, and in some places more.”
What we are being told is Solomon did not build the Temple like it would eventually look, not at first. The first time we find the term “Har ha Bayit” is from the time of Hezekiah, and Hezekiah worked on it and expanded it. It is mentioned in Isa 2.2; Micah 3.12 and 4.1. Now, when David got the plans for the Temple, things had to go up according to the “tavnit” which means “pattern or blueprint.” You couldn’t just put up whatever you wanted, wherever you wanted. So, there were “stages” to the building of the Temple in order to complete the “blueprint” from the Lord. Other kings will come along and put up a structure, then another and so on. That is something many people do not understand. We call the First Temple “Solomon’s Temple” but he did not build everything that the Lord wanted. He did build the Sanctuary and the Altar, with all the things needed for it to function, but the Temple complex came in stages. Spiritually, this is like our lives. The Lord has the blueprint, but the “Temple of God” won’t be built overnight. It will come in stages so we need to be patient with ourselves. Sometimes when the “construction” is being done, things are broken down and moved, spots are filled in and there are big changes. You look around and everything looks like chaos. Ever go by a major construction site? It looks like a mess and it can look that way in our lives, too. But the Lord has the “tavnit” or blueprint and when everything is cleaned up and put in place, our lives will look like a beautiful building.
The understanding among the later kings was that all the buildings were already in the plans of God. 1 Chr 28.11-19 we find that God gives the plans for the Temple to David. This seems to be pointing to the Temple in its fullness, after all the “stages.” Solomon will begin construction of the Temple building, the Altar, the Azarah and some of the buildings on the south side. Other kings will come after Solomon and use the “tavnit” or blueprint/pattern given to David from God and add the additional structures in the floor plan. When we arrive at the time of Hezekiah we will have an area called the “Har ha Bayit” or Temple Mount (Isa 2.2, Micah 3.12, 4.1). This “Temple Mount” is 500 cubits (“amot”) by 500 cubits and it will be known as the “Har ha Bayit” by the first century. What we will see is Solomon’s Palace will be partly within this 500 by 500 cubit Temple Mount called the Har ha Bayit. His palace will have the kedusha, of a lesser degree, than the Sanctuary.
We will try to show where Solomon’s palace was, but nobody can be certain about that. However, we have a lot of in formation that we can piece together as to where it may have stood, and the various structures that were around it. These are described for us. We do know that Solomon’s palace was south of the Sanctuary, and we know the size of the Azarah. These things will not change.
The word “Azarah” comes from the word “ezrecha” which means “to help.” The Azarah is 135 cubits south to north, and 187 cubits west to east. There are three different cubit sizes used in the Temple. The Royal cubit is 20.67 inches and that was used within the 500 cubit by 500 cubit “Har ha Bayit.” The five handbreadth cubit was 19.2 inches and this was used in the Court of the Women and the outer courts coming up to the Chel. Then there was the six handbreadth cubit of 23.04 inches used other places.
In Part 2, we will show why we know where the Temple building was located. The Kodesh ha Kodeshim is the rock under the Dome of the Rock and this rock is big, and a portion of this rock had the Kodeshim ha Kodeshim. So, we will begin to talk about this and talk about a niche carved in this rock where the Ark stood, and how it was exactly in the center of the Kodesh ha Kodeshim when you put up the walls. Knowing all this and the size of the cubit used, we can place the Temple Sanctuary and the Azarah exactly where it should be.