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King Solomon's Temple

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Solomon's Temple

King Solomon's Temple in the bible

The construction of King Solomon's Temple which, according to the Bible, began in 833 BC, ended seven years later. To grasp the importance of this building, it suffices to observe that, of the eleven chapters devoted to the character of Solomon (the third king of Israel after Saul and David) in the Bible (I Kings), more than three of them tackle the subject of the history of the construction of the legendary Temple of Solomon.

Yahweh had revealed to King David, the father of Solomon: “But I chose Jerusalem to be my name there” (II Chronicles, 6: 6). The sovereign had therefore conceived the project of building a temple and Solomon, his son and his successor, had carried out this project. Solomon's Temple, the earthly residence of Yahweh, kept within it the Ark of the Covenant, the legendary acacia wood chest covered with gold that God had Moses built to keep “a gold vase containing manna, Aaron's flowered staff and the Tables of the Law ”(Hebrews 9: 4).

The Ark of the Covenant had already been transported to Jerusalem on the order of David who wanted to make Jerusalem the new religious as well as political capital of the new kingdom of Israel. King Solomon, made famous for his wisdom (when Yahweh appeared to him in a dream and asked him to grant one of his wishes, Solomon had not asked for a longer life or riches but “a heart full of judgment to rule Thy people, to discern between good and evil ”(I Kings, 3: 9) During his long reign (970-930 BC), he strengthened the process of unification and he built the Temple which was to serve as a national sanctuary, the greatest treasure of all time was to be hidden there.


A sanctuary used to hide fabulous treasures

If we base ourselves on the indications provided by the biblical texts, the structure of King Solomon's Temple was tripartite: a vestibular space, a central room and, inside this, the Debir - the Holy of Holies containing the Ark of the Covenant. Erected near the city of David, Solomon's Temple dominated the city from the heights. In the open space in front stood the altar of sacrifices. According to the description of the Old Testament (I Kings, 6), King Solomon's Temple was approximately 30 meters long, 10 meters wide and 15 meters high; it was built of stone, entirely covered with cedar wood on which were carved flower buds and rosettes. But the most important part was obviously its sanctuary, filled with treasures and relics: “In the central part of the House, inside, he arranged a sacred room to place the Lord's Ark of the Covenant. At the front of the Debir, which was twenty cubits long, twenty cubits wide and twenty cubits high, and which he clothed in fine gold, he covered the altar with cedar gold. Solomon clothed the interior of the Temple with fine gold and passed chains of gold before the Debir, which he clothed in gold. All the Temple, he clothed it with gold, absolutely the whole Temple. In the Debir, there were two cherubs in olive wood, ten cubits high each ... "(I Kings, 6).

After the solemn deposition of the Ark of the Covenant in the sanctuary, a cloud fills King Solomon's Temple, as a sign of divine presence; during an imposing ceremony, the king himself inaugurated the sacred building and made a sacrifice of no less than 22,000 oxen and 120,000 sheep. But on the death of Solomon, the unity of the kingdom of Israel broke down and in 587 BC, Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, had Solomon's Temple razed. A second temple was rebuilt forty years later, but the Roman emperor Titus destroyed it definitively in 70 AD.


The mysterious disappearance of the Ark of the Covenant

Ark of the Covenant

From the mythical Temple of King Solomon, all that is left is part of the retaining wall to the west, currently the famous Wailing Wall: the place where even today the descendants of Solomon come to cry, thousands of years afterwards, the destruction of the legendary Temple. Perhaps the disappearance of the Ark of the Covenant is the deepest mystery. Many believe that the Knights Templar would have hidden it in Europe. According to another legendary version, King Solomon entrusted it to Menelik, the son born of the king's union with the Queen of Sheba, and first emperor of Ethiopia where, even today, the priests claim that “They are still the keepers of the Ark of the Covenant.”

There is a third hypothesis. According to some, the king built a hiding place under the sanctuary (the Debir) where the Ark of the Covenant was kept before the first demolition of Solomon's Temple by the Babylonians. It is sure that, in the biblical description on the destruction of Solomon's Temple and in the detailed account of the stolen loot, there is no mention of the Ark of the Covenant. Some believe that it is still cleverly hidden underground by the wise King Solomon, in the part of Jerusalem on which stood the first Temple. Several hypotheses have been advanced as to its true location: the most credible is that it was built on the eastern face of the Bayt al-Maqdis (mosque esplanade). But given the sacred character of this area dear to the three religions, undertaking excavations to seek the truth is, for the time being, only a marvelous utopia.