Solomon Builds the Temple
Solomon was king over all Israel, and there was peace in the land. The people were many, like the sands of the sea, eating and drinking and making merry. And Solomon reigned over all the country from Jordan to the land of the Philistines, and to the borders of Egypt.
The king lived in great abundance for the Lord had given him riches. Every day the provisions for his household consisted of thirty measures of flour, sixty measures of meal, ten fat oxen, and twenty taken from the pastures, a hundred sheep besides deer and fowl. By this we can see that a great crowd of servants and attendants waited on him continually.
All Judah dwelt safely, every man under his vine and his fig tree all the way from Dan to Beersheba, for there was peace on all sides, even as the Lord had promised.
Solomon had forty thousand stalls of horses for his chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen. These officers provided food for the king's table and for all that came to his house, so that every man had plenty and lacked for nothing, also they provided straw and barley for the horses and for the dromedaries which belonged to the king.
God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding, so that his wisdom was greater than the wisdom of the people of the east and all the wisdom of Egypt. He was wiser than any other man, and his fame was in all the nations round about. He spoke three thousand proverbs or wise sayings, and over a thousand songs. He spoke of trees, from the cedar of Lebanon down to the hyssop that grows out of the wall, and of beasts, and of fowl, and of creeping things and of fishes. And people came from all parts to hear the wisdom of Solomon.
The time had come for Solomon to obey the words of his father David and to set about building the temple even as the Lord had commanded. He sent word to Hiram, king of Tyre, saying: "You know how David, my father, could not build a house for the Lord, on account of the wars which were about him on all sides. But now the Lord has given me rest on every side, so that no enemy besets the people, and I purpose to build a house in the name of the Lord. Now, therefore, order your servants to hew cedars out of Lebanon, and my servants will be with your servants, and I will pay your servants for their work, for there is none among us skilled in hewing timber as your workmen."
When Hiram received the message, he rejoiced greatly and said: "Blessed be the Lord, who has given unto David a wise son over this great people." He then sent word back to Solomon that he would do all that the king wished him to do, in hewing the timber of cedar and the timber of fir. He said: "My servants will bring the trees down from Lebanon to the sea, and I will convey them in floats to the place which you shall appoint, and discharge them there for your servants to receive. You will provide food for my household while they are engaged in the work."
So Hiram gave Solomon cedar trees and fir trees according as he needed them, and Solomon gave Hiram wheat and also oil, every year while the work was going on. And Hiram and Solomon made a league of peace between them while they were engaged in building the temple of the Lord.
In order to provide men for the work, Solomon appointed thousands of his subjects and sent them into Lebanon to hew the timber. He also had thousands of burden bearers, and thousands of hewers of stones, all of whom labored unceasingly under the direction of those who knew how the temple was to be built.
The temple which King Solomon was to build, was to be about one hundred feet long, thirty-three feet wide, and fifty feet high. This was not a large temple compared with many of the present day, but it was a great building in those days, and every part of it was costly and beautiful. In front of the temple was a porch with a top over it like a tower, about two hundred feet high. The temple also had narrow windows to give light inside, and rooms against the outside walls for the priests to live in, while they were attending to the duties of the temple.
The temple was built of stone. Each stone had been carved in the mountains and made ready to fit in its place before it was brought down, so that in the building there was no sound of hammer, or axe, or any tool of any kind, heard near the temple. It was built with as little noise as possible, for everything was made to fit before it was brought to its place.
After the walls were built they were covered with cedar carved in the shapes of flowers and the flowers were covered over with gold. The floor of the temple and even the inside of the porch was also covered with gold. Inside the temple there was a curtain of blue, crimson, and purple, which was called the veil. It was hung in such a way that it divided the temple into two rooms. The innermost of these rooms was called the Most Holy Place and was designed for the ark of the covenant.
BUILDING OF THE TEMPLE.
The walls of the Most Holy Place were also covered with wood which was carved into figures representing cherubim and shapes of palm trees and flowers. These also were covered with gold. Solomon also made two cherubim which were fifteen feet high, out of the wood of olive trees and these he covered with gold. They were in the Most Holy Place and stood with their faces toward the wall and their wings outspread.
The doors of the temple were made out of wood from the fir tree and upon them were carved most beautiful shapes covered with gold.
In front of the house were two great pillars of brass, one on the right hand and one on the left hand. There was also a brass altar four times as large as the one that had been used for the tabernacle. There was also a great basin which was made to rest on the backs of twelve brass oxen. This basin held the water for the priests to wash their hands and their feet whenever they attended to the sacrifices. There were lavers of brass on the walls so they could be moved about and each would hold water for the sacrifice to be washed in.
In addition to these there were ten golden candle-sticks to give light in the temple and there was a golden table to hold the shewbread, besides censers of gold and golden hinges for the doors. Around the temple there was a court in which was placed the altar for the burnt offerings and the great basin of brass and the ten lavers of brass. Outside of this there was still another court for the people themselves. It took seven years to build this temple and when it was finished it was one of the great wonders of the world and the people of all nations knew about its magnificence.