Strange facts about Solomons temple


1 Kings 6:2 The temple that King Solomon built for the LORD was sixty cubits long, twenty wide and thirty high. 1 Kings 5:15-16: Solomon had seventy thousand carriers and eighty thousand stone cutters in the hills, as well as thirty-three hundred foremen who supervised the project and directed the workmen.
Why were 153,300 people required to build such a small structure?

1 Kings 6:38 In the eleventh year in the month of Bul, the eighth month, the temple was finished in all its details according to its specifications. He had spent seven years building it.
Why did it take 7 years to construct?

1 Chronicles 22:14 I have taken great pains to provide for the temple of the LORD a hundred thousand talents of gold, a million talents of silver, quantities of bronze and iron too great to be weighed, and wood and stone. And you may add to them.
Over 7 million pounds of gold and 75 million pounds of silver were required to construct this small structure.

2 Chronicles 7:5 And King Solomon offered a sacrifice of twenty-two thousand head of cattle and a hundred and twenty thousand sheep and goats. So the king and all the people dedicated the temple of God.

2 Chronicles 7:8-9 So Solomon observed the festival at that time for seven days, and all Israel with him—a vast assembly, people from Lebo [a] Hamath to the Wadi of Egypt. On the eighth day they held an assembly, for they had celebrated the dedication of the altar for seven days and the festival for seven days more.
That’s 22,000 oxen and 120,000 sheep in a single week. That’s about 850 animals an hour, 14 every minute.



Whatever the actual number, it was a production line.

The same was done during the Passover when thousands or tens of thousands of lambs would be slaughtered in a short time. They would be lined up, slit and the blood collected in bowls. The bowls would be passed down the row where the blood would be poured into larger bowls. The slaughtered lambs would then be moved quickly to another area where they would be skewered and dressed while the slaughter was repeated in the court of the temple.

My question has always been about where all the blood went. There must have been channels or pipes to get rid of it all.




1). A cubit is approximately 18" or 50 cm, take your pick. It was originally the length of a royal forearm.

So this structure was approximately 90’ L * 30’ W * 40’ H (or 30x10x15 m)

While modest by our standards, this four-story building was probably substantially larger than anything else built by the Kingdom of Israel, and so the demands of men and material were unprecedented.

The numbers of people involved are possibly inflated, but bear in mind, they count EVERYBODY involved (quarrymen, carriers, etc). When a building is raised in our societies, we do not count the truck drivers, brick makers, loggers, steelworkers etc. among the builders, although there would be no building without them. If we did count them, the roster of workers would be many times higher.

  1. Why seven years for a rather modest structure? Who knows. The Cathedral of Cologne was 600 years in construction. Maybe like them, the Kingdom of Israel kept running out of money?

  2. I’ve no doubt that the Temple was crusted with precious metal. Maybe that is why they were short of funds ( if so).

As to the animals, religious festivals in Scripture were public affairs. Solomon might have ended up feeding all of Jerusalem, or much of lower Israel, on this occasion. That’s a lot of meat.





My understanding is 7 is a number showing covenant. 7 day Creation story, 7 years for the temple, etc. Don’t know about the tent, have to look that up.



The number of people and years probably also have to allow for the fact that most of these people still had to make a living – sowing the seed, harvesting, taking care of vineyards, orchards, etc… and most likely had to make a living as carpenters, builders, and so forth, and their time at building the Temple was most likely donated time when they had cared for their land and families. Still an expensive proposition for a basically agrarian population. Only a fraction of the people lived in Jerusalem, and even many of them worked during the day on nearby farms, or herded sheep or goats for a living. If they could only donate a couple weeks or perhaps a month apiece each season, it could take a long time to quarry the stones, carve & cut them to fit, cut the huge Lebanon timbers to fit, and a lot of other detail work. Probably very few of them were full time workers paid by the King, the rest donated their time, or even if paid, only could come to Jerusalem from their farms and villages a few weeks each year.



Why are these strange facts??



And these are strange how?

P.S. Solomon’s palace took longer than the temple to finish - thirteen years (1 Kings 7:1).



Construction before out modern times was a VERY labor intensive process, that involved many, many people. Construction took many years, and actually seven years is VERY quick for something like that to be built then.

Also remember that many of these passages use hyperbole to make their point of being a lot of whatever they are describing. We should presume they were using some lofty language to give the impression of the magnitude of the operation and the scale of the Temple. This is similar to the census numbers and army numbers in other parts of the OT.



There was probably a translation issue somewhere along the line regarding the word “thousand” that Josephus fell into as well.

Patrick has great information on this, which I hope he posts.



A thing to remember:

Solomon’s temple is basically one of those royal shrines built adjacent to the ‘king’s house’. Temples in conjunction with palaces - serving to reinforce the connection between the king and the local deity really - were common back then. So you really have to see the first temple as a part of Solomon’s palace (really a complex of buildings), sharing common walls. In fact, as I mentioned earlier the palace is much larger than the temple and took longer to build - thirteen years compared to the temple’s seven. (Interestingly, in the Septuagint version of 1 Kings - 3 Reigns 8:1 - the assumption is made that the temple is built first before the palace is made, for a total of twenty years!) We only assume that the temple is the important building because the author of 1 Kings describes it in detail while he pretty much skims over the other ones.

Remove the sabbath, you’ll come up with a six-day workweek at the most.

Also remember that many of these passages use hyperbole to make their point of being a lot of whatever they are describing. We should presume they were using some lofty language to give the impression of the magnitude of the operation and the scale of the Temple. This is similar to the census numbers and army numbers in other parts of the OT.

Correct. Depending on whether you take the number of workers literally or not, the ultimate point the sacred authors are trying to make is to express the magnificence of Solomon and his works.

King Solomon drafted forced labor out of all Israel, and the draft numbered 30,000 men. And he sent them to Lebanon, 10,000 a month in shifts. They would be a month in Lebanon and two months at home. Adoniram was in charge of the draft. Solomon also had 70,000 burden-bearers and 80,000 stonecutters in the hill country, besides Solomon’s 3,300 chief officers who were over the work, who had charge of the people who carried on the work. At the king’s command they quarried out great, costly stones in order to lay the foundation of the house with dressed stones. So Solomon’s builders and Hiram’s builders and the men of Gebal did the cutting and prepared the timber and the stone to build the house.



Herod’s reconstruction of the Temple had been taking place for 46 years when Jesus predicted his passion and resurrection.

***The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” *(John 2:20)

It’s no different today. Missed deadlines and over budget projects are nothing new.

The Basillica Sagrada Familia has taken 144 years to build.




What about my theory that many of the Israelites donated time after planting and harvest time to help at building the Temple. This type of service to the Lord of the land (Kings, Barons, etc…) was common for thousands of years when building a place of worship or a palace, castle, etc…? Any comments on this?



I’m still curious as to why the OP thinks the facts he quoted are strange. I don’t see anything strange about them.



The books of Kings speak of Solomon’s building projects as exceedingly laborious to the people, which led to the divided kingdom after his death. Reheboam (his son) was asked if he was planning to put the people under the same laborious constraints as his father did and he answered that he would increase their load: “his (Solomon) thigh will be as my little finger” which led them to cry “what share have we in David”. The 10 tribes defected and followed Jeroboam. This fulfilled what God told Samuel to warn the people that the king would do if they insisted on having a king (like the other nations).

I didn’t look up the quotes, so pardon my lax memory.:slight_smile:



It sounds about right, although we can’t know.

Israel was then an essentially agricultural society, and even the construction of a 4-story building was likely an extraordinary effort; no doubt the citizens sought to contribute their hands to this effort, as a personal offering to YHWH.




Patrick wrote

“Temples in conjunction with palaces - serving to reinforce the connection between the king and the local deity really - were common back then.”

That actually fits in nicely with what my favorite author conjectured.

In Jerusalem today, Herod’s palace is generally though to be where the Citadel is now- close to the Jaffa Gate in the western part of the old city.

But that is 1000 yards away from the Second Temple.

Josephus is clear that a separate causeway connected the temple with the walled Herod’s palace, which doesn’t fit with that. And there are other problems with the Citadel location as well.

The author speculates that Herod’s palace was no more than 100 yards away from the temple, with a busy north-south street-ending in a major north gate in the first wall- between them.



Just to be clear, I was talking about pre-exilic Israel, not 1st-century Judaea. :wink: Anyways, there is no question about where Herod’s palace is - it doesn’t stand anymore, yes, but you have the consider the facts that (1) the foundations have survived, (2) that the topographic conditions in the western part of the Upper City are most suitable for a large palace building, (3) that the outer side of the western wall of the Upper City thickens at the tentative location of the palace leave little room for debate for the palace’s location.



So anyways, there’s the fact that Solomon’s temple was part of the palace complex: in fact, it’s a palace in its own right. (The Hebrew word for the ‘Holy Place’, i.e. the nave of the temple, is heikal; among the Israelites’ neighbors by contrast, the word hykl had a secular meaning of ‘palace’. Apparently in Israelite culture the word came to have a religious connotation to the point that it was no longer used for the palaces of human kings.)

Now Ezekiel the prophet found the palace and temple being part of the same complex (as Solomon built it) unacceptable - or rather, Yhwh did according to him. As a consequence he doesn’t mention anything about kings’ palaces at all in his vision of the ideal temple and its surroundings: the temple area is purely God’s, undefiled by the abomination and manipulation of kings (chs. 43-49).

While the man was standing beside me, I heard one speaking to me out of the temple, and he said to me, “Son of man, this is the place of my throne and the place of the soles of my feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the people of Israel forever. And the house of Israel shall no more defile my holy name, neither they, nor their kings, by their whoring and by the dead bodies of their kings at their high places, by setting their threshold by my threshold and their doorposts beside my doorposts, with only a wall between me and them. They have defiled my holy name by their abominations that they have committed, so I have consumed them in my anger. Now let them put away their whoring and the dead bodies of their kings far from me, and I will dwell in their midst forever.

Whoever wrote Chronicles - probably after the Exile - perhaps had the same mindset as Ezekiel: in his version of Solomon’s construction of the temple no detailed mention of his palace is ever given (compared to the version in 1 Kings), aside from a token mention in 2 Chronicles 7:11 (“When Solomon had finished the temple of the LORD and the royal palace, and had succeeded in carrying out all he had in mind to do in the temple of the LORD and in his own palace…”). It was there, but the author/s cleverly avoid making any reference to it being in the same area as the temple is.



Little room for debate?

You toy with me!

The old Asamonean palace Josephus clearly describes as being very close to the southern part of the Western wall.

And there is a separate elevated “Royal” walkway joining the walled Palace of Herod (which was a compound enclosing several building and gardens) with the northern section of the western wall of the temple…

Are you saying that over a quarter mile long causeway- elevated to sixty feet (the height of Herod’s Palace wall)- connected the two structures assuming that the Citadel marked the Palace?

Though Herod built impressive stuff, I can’t imagine him even wanting to walk that far to get to the Temple.

Titus wreaked havoc with Jerusalem after he conquered and razed most of it, and the subsequent town housed a Roman garrison. That accounts for a lot of the misguided Archaeological conclusions.



…You don’t know much about archaeology, do you? :cool:


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