The next drawing in our series dealing with the development of Mount Moriah and the Temple Mount shows what it would have looked like in the time of the later kings of Judah.
The first and original drawing showed what the mount looked like before anything was built on it. The next one showed Mount Moriah during the time of the Jebusites. This was followed by a drawing of Solomon’s Temple complex.
From the Hebrew Bible we know that Hezekiah (725–697 BC) was a good king, but he lived in difficult times. The Assyrians under Sennacherib had invaded the northern part of the country and many refugees had fled to Jerusalem and settled on the Western Hill of Jerusalem, as the Eastern Hill was already bursting at the seams.
Archaeology has given us a great insight into the kingship of Hezekiah, and has shown that he was one of the greatest builders Jerusalem has ever seen. In the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem one can visit the Broad Wall (mentioned later on in Nehemiah 12.38) that was built by Hezekiah to protect the new settlement. The excavations have shown that some houses had been dismantled to make room for this massive 7m (23ft) wide wall that encircled the Western Hill. This building work is mentioned in Isaiah 22.10, “you counted the houses of Jerusalem, and you broke down the houses to fortify the wall.”
Another great work mentioned in Isa. 22.11 is the construction of Hezekiah’s Tunnel. Hezekiah diverted the waters from the Gihon Spring and “sent” them through an underground tunnel to the Siloam Pool (Siloam – shiloah in Hebrew – means “sent”). One of the most exciting experiences one can have in Jerusalem is to walk through this ancient tunnel.
Hezekiah also embarked on a major rebuilding program of the Temple, as reflected in the second and later account of the Temple construction in 2 Chronicles 3–4. We believe that this text describes a virtually new and much larger Temple built by Hezekiah.
In this passage, the two columns of the Porch are described as being 35 cubits high in contrast to a height of 18 cubits mentioned in 1 Kings 7. Instead of the three-story-high wooden construction that was built around Solomon’s Temple, there is now an Upper Chamber above the original sanctuary. Other differences between the two descriptions show that Hezekiah not only rebuilt Solomon’s Temple, but also redesigned it. Nevertheless, this Temple is still referred to as the First Temple that was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BC.
har habbayit. This measurement of 500 cubits has been preserved in the text of Mishnah Middot 2.1: “The Temple Mount (har habbayit) measured five hundred cubits by five hundred cubits.”