What is…
Solomon's Temple

also known as: The First Temple

Before his death King David had “with all his might” provided materials in great abundance for the building of the temple on the summit of Mount Moriah (1 Chronicles 22:14; 29:4; 2 Chronicles 3:1), on the east of the city, on the spot where Abraham had offered up Isaac (Genesis 22:1-14).

In the beginning of his reign, David’s son King Solomon set about bringing to fruition the desire that was so earnestly cherished by his father.

Stage 1

He began preparing additional materials needed for the building project. These preparatory undertakings took 3 years.

Building construction

In the 4th year of Solomon’s reign, he began the process of erecting the great building, under the direction of skilled Phoenician builders and workmen. This was 480 years after the Exodus (1 Kings 6; 2 Chronicles 3).

Many thousands of laborers and skilled artisans were employed in the work. Stones prepared in the quarries underneath the city (1 Kings 5:17, 18) of huge dimension (see Quarries) were gradually placed on the massive walls, and closely fitted together without any mortar between, till the whole structure was completed.

No sound of hammer or axe or any tool of iron was heard as the structure arose (6:7). “Like some tall palm the noiseless fabric sprang.”


The building was 60 cubits long, 20 cubits wide, and 30 cubits high.

Chief Cornerstone

Engineers of the Palestine Exploration Fund, in their explorations around the temple area, discovered what is believed to have been the “chief corner stone” of the temple, “the most interesting stone in the world.” It lies at the bottom of the southeastern angle, and is 3 feet 8 inches high by 14 feet long [1.1 meters x 4.3 meters]. It rests on the solid rock at a depth of 79 feet 3 inches [289.9 meters] below the present surface. (See PINNACLE.)

In examining the walls the engineers were “struck with admiration at the vastness of the blocks and the general excellence of the workmanship.”


At length, in the autumn of the 11th year of his reign, 7½ years after it had been begun, the temple was completed in all its architectural magnificence and beauty. For 13 years there it stood, on the summit of Moriah, silent and unused. The reasons for this strange delay in its consecration are unknown.


At the close of these 13 years, preparations for the dedication of the temple were made on a scale of the greatest magnificence. The ark of the covenant was solemnly brought from the tent in which David had deposited it to the place prepared for it in the temple, and the glory-cloud, the symbol of the divine presence, filled the temple.

Then Solomon ascended a platform which had been erected for him, in the sight of all the people, and lifting up his hands to heaven poured out his heart to God in prayer (1 Kings 8; 2 Chronicles 6-7).

Feast of Dedication and Feast of Tabernacles

The feast of dedication, which lasted 7 days, followed by the feast of tabernacles, marked a new era in the history of Israel.

On the 8th day of the feast of tabernacles, Solomon dismissed the vast assemblage of the people, who returned to their homes filled with joy and gladness,

“Had Solomon done no other service beyond the building of the temple, he would still have influenced the religious life of his people down to the latest days. It was to them a perpetual reminder and visible symbol of God’s presence and protection, a strong bulwark of all the sacred traditions of the law, a witness to duty, an impulse to historic study, an inspiration of sacred song.”

The temple consisted of:

  1. The oracle or most holy place (1 Kings 6:19; 8:6), called also the “inner house” (6:27), and the “holiest of all” (Hebrews 9:3). It was 20 cubits in length, breadth, and height. It was floored and wainscotted with cedar (1 Kings 6:16), and its walls and floor were overlaid with gold (6:20, 21, 30). There was a two-leaved door between it and the holy place overlaid with gold (2 Chronicles 4:22); also a veil of blue purple and crimson and fine linen (2 Chronicles 3:14; compare Exodus 26:33). It had no windows (1 Kings 8:12). It was indeed the dwelling-place of God.
  2. The holy place, 1 Kings 8:8-10, called also the “greater house” (2 Chronicles 3:5) and the “temple” (1 Kings 6:17).
  3. The porch or entrance before the temple on the east (1 Kings 6:3; 2 Chronicles 3:4; 29:7). In the porch stood the two pillars Jachin and Boaz (1 Kings 7:21; 2 Kings 11:14; 23:3).
  4. The chambers, which were built about the temple on the southern, western, and northern sides (1 Kings 6:5-10). These formed a part of the building.

Round about the building were:

  1. The court of the priests (2 Chronicles 4:9), called the “inner court” (1 Kings 6:36)

    It contained the altar of burnt-offering (2 Chronicles 15:8), the brazen sea (4:2-5, 10), and 10 lavers (1 Kings 7:38, 39).

  2. The great court, which surrounded the whole temple (2 Chronicles 4:9)

    Here the people assembled to worship God (Jeremiah 19:14; 26:2).

This temple erected by Solomon was many times pillaged during the course of its history:

  1. 1 Kings 14:25-26
  2. 2 Kings 14:14
  3. 2 Kings 16:8, 17-18
  4. 2 Kings 18:15-16

At last it was pillaged and destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar (2 Kings 24:13; 2 Chronicles 36:7). He burned the temple, and carried all its treasures with him to Babylon (2 Kings 25:9-17; 2 Chronicles 36:19; Isaiah 64:11).

These sacred vessels were at length, at the close of the Captivity, restored to the Jews by King Cyrus (Ezra 1:7-11).

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Article Version: July 17, 2021