Jerusalem Archaeological Park
The Plan and Decoration of the Temple

Nothing survived of Solomon's temple, save its description in two sources: 1 Kings 6, 1 Kings 7 and 2 Chronicles 3, 2 Chronicles 4. The first, probably a more reliable source, relates that the temple was constructed of unhewn stones (as was required in the building of the ancient altar - Exodus 20:21, Deuteronomy 27:5-6), laid atop a foundation of hewn stones. Its inner dimensions were 60 cubits in length, 20 cubits in width and 30 cubits in height. The temple was oriented east-west and entered through an opening in the east. The temple was fronted by an ulam, measuring 20 cubits in length and 10 cubits in width, which probably served as an open courtyard bordered by a low fence. In the ulam were two, seemingly free-standing columns, Yakhin and Boaz. These columns were 18 cubits high and their diameter was almost 4 cubits. The columns were surmounted by capitals, which were five cubits high.

The stone structure of the temple was coated with beams of Lebanon cedar tree, and against it were built three stories of side-chambers (yaziah), probably for storing the ritual vessels or the temple treasures. The roof of the temple was built of cedar tree beams, set lengthwise and widthwise.
Inside the temple there were two rooms: the hekhal, 20 cubits wide, 40 cubits long and 30 cubits high, and the devir, the Holy of Holies, which was a wooden block, with sides 20 cubits long. Since the devir was lower than the hekhal, it is not clear whether it stood on a podium or there was an empty space, 10 cubits high, between the devir and the roof. The inner walls of the hekhal were of cedar wood and its floor was of cypress. The side and entrance walls were carved in a design of open and closed flowers all sheathed in gold. The devir was completely built of cedar, and more ornately decorated than the hekhal. The walls of the devir, including the one separating the devir from the hekhal, which was decorated on both sides, were carved with figures of cherubim, palm trees and open flowers. Also, the walls of the devir and its floor were coated with gold. At the entrance into the hekhal there were two cypress doors, carved with cherubim, palm trees and open flowers. Both doors were overlaidwith gold. The doorposts were of olive wood, similarly to the doors at the entrance to the devir, also decorated with carvings of cherubim, palm trees and open flowers. The floral motifs decorating the temple symbolized the Garden of Eden , and the cherubim were meant to guard the House of God. It is evident from the temple's descriptions that the choice of the construction materials of the various parts of the temple were in accord with their ritual significance.
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