When King Joash was coronated in 2 Kings 11, we know that the Levites were guards, and they had weapons that came from the armory (2 Kings 11.4-11) because Joash was guarded. 1 Kings 10.16-17 says that Solomon made 200 large shields and 300 other shields. There are two types of shields. The “tzinah” is the “large shield” of v 16, and another word for these shields was a buckler. It is full body length and curved so that it can be used by someone trying to get close to a wall during an attack. These men were called “sappers” and they would try and loosen the stones in a wall. The defenders would throw rocks, boiling oil or whatever they could to keep them away from the wall. When David wanted Uriah killed, the commander put him close to the wall during a battle and he was killed. This is what he was doing, a very dangerous job. When 2 Cor 10.4 talks about the “pulling down of strongholds” it is referring to the sapper who got closevto a city wall to pull it down (not the safest place to be). The other type of shield is the “magen” and it is a battle shield on the arm. Solomon made both of these types out of gold and they are placed in the House of the Forest of Lebanon, or the armory.
In 2 Chr 12.9-11 we learn that Solomon has died, and Rehoboam is king. Israel is invaded by Shishak, the king of Egypt. He took the treasures from the House of the Lord and the kings palace, even the golden shields Solomon had made. So, Rehoboam made shields of bronze in their place, and committed them into the care of the commanders of the guard (the “ratzim, the runners”) who guarded the king’s house. There is a chamber called the “Ta Ha Ratzim” (cell) or “Cell of the Guards” which is another way of saying the armory. The gate is called the Shaar Ratzim. Josephus mentions this armory when he says in Antiquities, Book 9, Chapter 7, Paragraph 2 that “Jehoida also opened that armory that David had made.” This is also seen in 2 Kings 11.4-11. Remember, we are talking about the House of the Forest of Lebanon, and in the Second Temple it was called the Beit ha Otzrot (the southwest corner building).
Isa 22.8 also mentions this building and armory when it says that the Lord “removed the defense of Judah (the forts), in that day you depended on the weapons of the house of the forest.” This is the House of the Forest of Lebanon. They depended on the weapons there when the Assyrians were coming against King Hezekiah.
We have been able so far to locate the House of the Forest of Lebanon and the Shaar Ha Elyon that ran through it. We know that this gate was in the southwest corner. We also know that it was a building with the dimensions of 100 cubits x 50 cubits x 30 cubits. We know that there was a chamber in this building called the Ta Ha Ratzim, or “Chamber of the Guards.” It was the armory and treasury where the trophies of war were kept, gifts from other kingdoms and things like that. These were stored in this building and it was the natural place to have the guards.
We also know that another name for the Shaar Ha Elyon was the “Shaar Achar Ha Ratzim.” Achar can mean “behind, the future or west.” So, it can mean the “Western Gate of the Runners/Guards.” In 2 Kings 11.5-6 you see it called the “gate behind the runners” or “guards.” In Hebrew it is “Shaar Achar Ha Ratzim.” 2 Kings 11.10 says that captains of hundreds (priests and Levites) gave out spears and shields to guard Joash. 2 Kings 11.19 says that they brought the king down from the Temple through the “gate of the guards” or “Shaar Achar Ha Ratzim” (or “Western Gate of the Guards/Runners”). So the Shaar Ha Elyon (Upper Gate), the Shaar Ha Ratzim (Gate of the Guards/Runners) and the Shaar Achar Ha Ratzim (Western Gate of the Guards/Runners) are the same gate going through the House of the Forest of Lebanon. In 2 Kings 11.6 we ahve another gate mentioned on the south side called the Gate Sur. It is called the Shaar Ha Yesod (Foundation Gate) in 2 Chr 23.5 because it was the first gate built (possibly).
2 Chr 9.3-5 is a companion verse to 1 Kings 10.4-5. It says that the Queen was “breathless” (no spirit in her) after seeing all the things Solomon had built. In 2 Chr 9.9-11 it says that Solomon made a walkway out of algum wood. The Queen was “blown away” because of this walkway. In 1 Kings 10.11-12 it says that this walkway was made with “almug” wood. Two different spellings but it was the same thing. He also made harps. Now, there are two types of harps. The Kinnor is a 10 stringed harp and a Nevel has 22 strings. People are making these harps today and they have said that almug/algum wood is very rare and can only be found on an island off the coast of India, with restricted access. They obtained enough wood to make one harp and they said it was a “very aromatic wood.” This was the wood that Solomon made his walkway out of. What made the Queen so breathless? Was it the “aromatic” fragrances she was smelling in this walkway?
When they began to build the Second Temple, those that saw the First Temple wept when they saw it (Ezra 3.12, Hag 2.3) They knew about all the wondrous things that took the breath away from the Queen of Sheba, like this walkway, was lost and probably wasn’t going to be replaced. The younger returnee’s never knew. The Messianic Temple will become glorious (Hag 2.6-9) and the algum/almug and the other things we have discussed may return in greater glory.
Now, we have only been discussing one building of this Temple, and it took the breath away from people who had seen many temples and palaces before. This is only a glimpse of one section of God’s Temple. This gives us a preview of what is coming. Many view the Temple as a cold, dark, stone collection of buildings because they have no concept of what it was. Looking at Kings, Chronicles and Josephus gives us what others thought of it and how it caused people to be speechless. They had seen temples before, like the Queen, but this one was different and this wasn’t even the whole complex that God had designed because Solomon didn’t build it all, it would come in stages. This also tells us that Ezekiel’s Temple will really be something to behold, something the world has never seen before.