Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Building of Solomon's Temple

The 17th of Cheshvan marks the day on which King Solomon declared the work on the Holy Temple (Beit Hamikdash) to be complete. By then, Solomon had been king for eleven years, and the Kingdom of Israel was a well-established, glorious empire with vast territory and strong alliances.

The Temple was an impressive structure on which Solomon spent massive amounts of money. Building it took seven years of quarrying stone, transporting cedars and meticulous workmanship. The building was approximately 180 feet long, 90 feet wide, and 50 feet high (although at it’s highest point it was close to 207 feet). The labor was performed by almost the entire nation, as Solomon commandeered a work force of 30,000 men (who rotated in tri-monthly shifts of 10,000 men sent north to Lebanon to harvest the cedars), 70,000 laborers and 80,000 stonecutters. These workers were in addition to the 3,300 men overseeing the construction (I Kings 5:27-30).

While the Temple was made of immense stones and soaring logs of cedar, metal work of all kind was also necessary. Gold, silver, bronze and other metals accented the beauty of the Temple, elevating the building aesthetically and creating an awe-inspiring structure. Additionally, exquisite cloths were manufactured by the women of Israel that served as coverings and curtains in the Temple.

The building was completed on the 17th of Cheshvan, but was not consecrated for nearly one year (in Tishrei, 11 months later) while King Solomon awaited the completion of the many special Temple vessels necessary for the Divine service. Finally, when all was gathered, he had the priests bring the Holy Ark to Jerusalem to the Temple.

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