The Temple Mount during the time of King Hezekiah

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.

This drawing shows the Temple Mount that was built by King Hezekiah. The Temple itself was completely rebuilt and a large square platform built around the original Solomon’s Temple. It appears that Solomon’s palace complex must have been dismantled to make way for the new platform.

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.”

The Broad Wall in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem. Photo: © Leen Ritmeyer

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.

Ben Ritmeyer leaving Hezekiah’s Tunnel.

In the Herodian period, the Siloam Reservoir had steps leading down to the water. Here we see the pool filled with rain water.

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.

Map of the Temple Mount today, showing the location of the square platform built by King Hezekiah.

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.”

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3 Responses to The Temple Mount during the time of King Hezekiah

  1. Perry,
    The word “together” is not in the Hebrew text. The ESV for example translates this verse as: “iIn front of the house he made two pillars thirty-five cubits high, with a capital of five cubits on the top of each.”, which is correct. Apart from the height of the columns, there are many differences with the text in 1 Kings 6 and 7. I have tabulated these differences in my book The Quest, p.306. The description in 2 Chronicles was written during or after the Babylonian Exile and therefore reflects the Temple building that was destroyed by the Babylonians. The fact that the Eastern Wall of the Temple Mount shows masonry from the 8th century BC, fursther shows that the Temple Mount was extended in that time.
    One must be careful when reading the name of Solomon to ascribe that event of building to the actual King Solomon himself. In John 10.23 and Acts 5.12, Solomon’s Porch is mentioned. It would be misleading to suggest that this portico was built by Solomon himself, as it would contradict the description of the destruction of Jerusalem and its Temple in 586 BC. If any structure was older than the one built in their time, the ancients simply referred it to David or Solomon.
    Another example: Herod’s Temple is called the Second Temple, but technically that is incorrect as it was at least the third temple building built on Mount Moriah (Solomon’s, Jeshua and Zreubbabel’s and Herod’s).

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