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Bible Dictionaries

People's Dictionary of the Bible

Temple

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Temple. A place or building dedicated to religious worship. "God... dwelleth not in temples made with hands." Acts 17:24. The word temple occurs in the A. V. about 200 times, generally referring to the one at Jerusalem. But the temple at Babylon is alluded to, 2 Chronicles 36:7; Ezra 5:14; the temple of Diana at Ephesus, Acts 19:27; the temple of God, 2 Corinthians 6:16, meaning the saints, and the temple in the Holy City—the New Jerusalem. Revelation 21:22. The word specially designated the sanctuary of Jehovah at Jerusalem. There were three successive temples there; 1. Solomon's; 2. Zerubbabel's, known as the Second temple; 3. Herod's temple.

1. Solomon's Temple, was built on Mount Moriah, in the eastern part of Jerusalem, by Solomon, the king, as conceived and planned by his father David. 1 Chronicles 17:1. David gathered the materials and funds to build it—"an hundred thousand talents of gold, and a thousand thousand talents of silver; and of brass and iron without weight." 1 Chronicles 22:14. The silver and gold would be equal to from $2,000,000 to $4,000,000. Besides gold and silver, David collected immense quantities of "brass" (bronze or copper), iron, stone, timber, etc., and he secured skilful mechanics and artificers for every branch of the work. 1 Chronicles 22:1-19; 1 Chronicles 29:4; 1 Chronicles 29:7. He also furnished the design, plan, and location of the building; in all which he was divinely instructed. 1 Chronicles 21:1-30; 1 Chronicles 22:1-19; 1 Chronicles 28:11-19. There were 183,600 Jews and strangers employed on it—of Jews 30,000, by rotation 10,000 a month; of Canaanites, 153,600, of whom 70,000 were "bearers of burdens," 80,000 hewers of wood and stone, and 3600 overseers. The parts were all prepared at a distance from the site of the building, and when they were brought together the whole structure was erected without the sound of hammer, axe, or any tool of iron. 1 Kings 6:7. It required seven and one-half years to complete it in all its splendor, the glory of Jerusalem, and the most magnificent edifice in the world, b.c. 1005. Like the tabernacle, it had its front toward the east. All the arrangements of the temple were identical with those of the tabernacle, and the dimensions of every part exactly double those of the previous structure. It was 70 cubits long and 20 wide, and had in front a porch more than 200 feet high. All around the main structure there were attached to the north and south sides and at the west end certain buildings called side chambers, 1 Kings 6:10, three stories in height, which were much more extensive than the temple itself. The material was white stone: the woodwork of cedar, overlaid with fine gold; the floor of cedar, with planks of fir. 1 Kings 6:15. The holy of holies was a small square chamber, absolutely dark except by the light received through the entrance. In it were two huge golden figures, standing upright on their feet, on each side of the ark, which rested upon a protuberance of rough rock. Above the ark the wings of these cherubim met. The walls of the chambers which ran round the rest of the building were not allowed to lean against the outer walls of this sanctuary. The quarries of Solomon have been discovered under the present city of Jerusalem, near the Damascus gate. They are very extensive. The temple of Solomon stood 424 years; at times was allowed to fall into decay; was plundered by Shishak, king of Egypt, during the reign of Rehoboam. 1 Kings 14:25-26. After this it was frequently profaned and pillaged; was repaired by Joash, 2 Kings 12:5-14, and by Josiah, 2 Chronicles 29:3-9. Its destruction was prophesied by Jeremiah, Jeremiah 7:2; Jeremiah 7:14, and it was at last broken down and destroyed by the king of Babylon, and the nation itself carried Into captivity. 2 Kings 25:8-9; 2 Kings 25:13-17; 2 Chronicles 36:18-19, b.c. 586.

2. The Temple of Zerubbabel.— In b.c. 536 Cyrus the Persian king of Babylon gave permission to the Jews to return. Zerubbabel, as Jewish governor, and Joshua, the high priest, superintended the people in rebuilding the temple. Cyrus permitted and encouraged them to do this work. Ezra 3:8. Owing to the opposition of their enemies, it was not, however, completed for 20 years, b.c. 515. The story of this long struggle and trouble is told in the book of Ezra. This second temple, though inferior in many respects to the first—having no ark, no mercy-seat, no visible revelation of the divine glory, no sacred fire, no Urim and Thummim, and no spirit of prophecy, Ezra 3:12-13—still was in breadth and height, in almost every dimension, one-third larger than Solomon's.

3. Temple of Herod.— The temple of Zerubbabel after nearly 500 years had suffered much from wars, age, and decay, when Herod the Great, to secure the favor of the Jews, undertook to rebuild it. He began the work 20 years before the birth of Christ and completed the main building in one year and a half, and the adjoining buildings in eight years. But the work was not entirely ended till a.d. 64, under Herod Agrippa II. So the statement in John 2:20 is correct. The building stood upon Mount Moriah, in an area which was 500 cubits square. Along the ramparts of the temple hill ran double cloisters or arcades, and there the money changers sat Matthew 21:12. There were several courts about the temple which were upon different levels. The outer court, or court of the Gentiles, came first; then the court of the women, the court of Israel, the court of the priests, and then the temple itself. Between the first two came the "soreg" ("interwoven"), or "middle wall of partition." Ephesians 2:14. It had 13 openings; upon it, at intervals, were stones with Greek inscriptions, threatening death to the Gentile who entered. A stone thus inscribed was discovered lately by an explorer in Palestine. The charge that Paul had brought such a Greek into the enclosure aroused the Jerusalem mob. Acts 21:28. The court of Israel, 10 cubits by 135, was 15 steps higher up, and upon them the 15 Songs of Degrees—Psalms 120:1-7; Psalms 121:1-8; Psalms 122:1-9; Psalms 123:1-4; Psalms 124:1-8; Psalms 125:1-5; Psalms 126:1-6; Psalms 127:1-5; Psalms 128:1-6; Psalms 129:1-8; Psalms 130:1-8; Psalms 131:1-3; Psalms 132:1-18; Psalms 133:1-3; Psalms 134:1-3, inclusive—were sung. The musical instruments were kept there. It was merely a platform, and had no cloisters or columns. Only men especially purified could enter it. The court of the priests, or sanctuary, 135 by 176 cubits, was 2½ cubits higher than the court of Israel, the wall being 1 cubit high, with 3 steps above it On the wall there was a platform from which the priests blessed the people. The entrance of the temple was 20 cubits wide and 40 high. Over it hung the golden vine, supported, probably, by nails. The temple was of two stories; in the lower there were 38 chambers in three tiers; in the upper, none. The holy house was entered from the porch by a gate 20 cubits high and 10 broad, with double doors, opening out and in; before it hung a veil of equal width with the doors. Before the entrance to the holy of holies hung two veils or two curtains, 1 cubit apart, and, inasmuch as the opening of the outer curtain was upon the north, while the inner was on the south, no glimpse of the holy of holies could be obtained by any one but the high priest. The purification of Mary, Luke 2:22, must have been near the gate Nicanor. The Child Jesus was found amid the doctors of the law in the temple courts. Luke 2:46. The Beautiful Gate, Acts 3:2, was one of the finest entrances to the temple. The castle of Antonia, from which, by a secret passageway, the Roman soldiery could be led down into the temple area to preserve order—as notably to rescue Paul, Acts 21:31-32—was situated upon the northwestern corner of the outer cloister, and had four towers with a large interior space. Jesus foretold the destruction of the third temple: "There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down." Matthew 24:2; Mark 13:2; Luke 21:6. This prophecy was made about 30 a.d., and was fulfilled about 40 years afterward, by the Roman soldiers, who set the temple on fire and destroyed it in 70 a.d., although the Roman commander had given strict orders to have it preserved. About three centuries later, the emperor Julian attempted to rebuild it, but was prevented, for the terrific explosions that took place, as the workmen dug down for the foundations, caused them to throw away their implements, and the work was abandoned. See Milman's Hist. Christianity, iii. 27.

Up to quite recent times the Haram—as the enclosure containing the site of the temple is called, and where the mosques of Omar and el-Aksar now stand—was closed to all non-Mohammedans; but the pressure brought to bear after the Crimean war, 1856, was too great, and now travellers find little difficulty in gaining admittance.

The temple was a type of the Christian, for every Christian is a temple of the Holy Ghost. 1 Corinthians 3:16-17; 1 Corinthians 6:19; 2 Corinthians 6:16; 1 Peter 2:5. The temple seen by Ezekiel in vision is very fully described, and is supposed by some to be a figure of the actual temple. See Ezekiel 40:1-49; Ezekiel 41:1-26; Ezekiel 42:1-20; Ezekiel 43:1-27; Ezekiel 44:1-31; Ezekiel 45:1-25; Ezekiel 46:1-24; Ezekiel 47:1-23.


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Bibliography Information
Rice, Edwin Wilbur, DD. Entry for 'Temple'. People's Dictionary of the Bible. http://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/rpd/t/temple.html. 1893.


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Monday, June 26th, 2017
the Week of Proper 7 / Ordinary 12
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