THE HOUSE OF GOD ON MOUNT MORIAH
I Kings 5:1 to 9: 9
II Chronicles 3:1 to 7:22
THE great work of Solomon's reign was the building of the house of God, which was called "The Temple." This stood on Mount Moriah, on the east of Mount Zion, and it covered the whole mountain. King David had prepared for it by gathering great stores of gold, and silver, and stone, and cedar-wood. The walls were made of stone, and the roof of cedar.
For the building the cedar was brought from Mount Lebanon, where there were many large cedar-trees. The trees were cut down and carried to Tyre on the seacoast. There they were made into rafts in the Great Sea, and were floated down to Joppa. At Joppa they were taken ashore and were carried up to Jerusalem. All this work was done by the men of Tyre, at the command of their king, Hiram, who was a friend of Solomon, as he had been a friend of King David.
All the stones for the building of the Temple were hewn into shape and fitted together before they were brought to Mount Moriah. And all the beams for the roof and the pillars of cedar were carved and made to join each other; so that as the walls arose no sound of hammer or chisel was heard; the great building rose up quietly. You remember the form of the Tabernacle which was built before Mount Sinai, in the wilderness, with its court, its Holy Place, and its Holy of Holies. The Temple was copied after the Tabernacle, except that it was much larger, and was a house of stone and cedar, instead of a tent.
The Tabernacle had one court around it, where the priests only could enter; but the Temple had two courts, both open to the sky, with walls of stone around them, and on the walls double rows of cedar pillars, and a roof above the pillars, so that people could walk around the court upon the walls protected from the sun. The court in front was for the people, for all the men of Israel could enter it, but no people of foreign race. This was called "the Fore-court." Beyond the Fore-court was the Court of the Priests, where only the priests were allowed to walk. At the east gate of this court stood the great altar of burnt-offerings, built of rough, unhewn stones, for no cut stones could be used in the altar. This altar stood on the rock which had been the threshing-floor of Araunah, where David saw the angel of the Lord standing.
Near the altar, in the Court of the Priests, stood a great tank for water, so large that it was called "a sea." It was made of brass, and stood on the backs of twelve oxen, also made of brass. From this the water was taken for washing the offerings.
Within the Court of the Priests stood the Holy House, or the Temple building, made of marble and of cedar. Its front was a high tower, called the Porch. In this were rooms for the high-priest and his sons.
Back of the Porch was the Holy Place. This was a long room in which stood the table for the twelve loaves of the bread, and golden altar of incense. In the Holy Place of the Tabernacle stood the golden lampstand. We are not sure whether it was in the Temple; for either in place of the lampstand, or perhaps in addition to it, Solomon placed ten lamps of gold in the Holy Place.
Between the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies was a great vail, as in the Tabernacle. And in the Holy of Holies the priests placed the Ark of the Covenant. This, you remember, was a box or chest of gold, in which were kept the two stone tablets of the Ten Commandments. This ark of the covenant was all that stood in the Holy of Holies; and into this room only the high-priest came, and he only on one day in the year, the great Day of Atonement, when the scapegoat was sent away.
Outside of the Temple building were rooms for the priests. They were built on the outer wall of the house, on the rear and the two sides, but not in front, three stories high; and were entered from the outside only. In these rooms the priests lived while they were staying at the Temple to lead in the worship.
Seven years were spent in building the Temple, but at last it was finished; and a great service was held when the house was set apart to the worship of the Lord. Many offerings were burned upon the great altar, the ark was brought from Mount Zion and placed in the Holy of Holies, and King Solomon knelt upon a platform in front of the altar and offered a prayer to the Lord before all the people, who filled the courts of the Temple.
One night, after the Temple was finished, the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream for the second time. And the Lord said to Solomon, "I have heard the prayer which you have offered to me, and I have made this house holy. It shall be my house, and I will dwell there. And if you will walk before me as David, your father, walked, doing my will, then your throne shall stand forever. But if you turn aside from following the Lord, then I will leave this house, and will turn from it, and will let the enemies of Israel come and destroy this house that was built for me."