The Temple Mount in the time of Solomon

As storm clouds gather over Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, we continue with our series on the development of Mount Moriah.

In our previous post, we talked about the locations of the Altar and the Holy of Holies. What happened after David built the Altar? After ruling seven years in Hebron, he made Jerusalem the capital of Israel. The first thing he did was bring the Ark of the Covenant from Kiriath-jearim to Jerusalem, the City of David. There it rested, presumably in a tent in the grounds of David’s palace, until circa 967 BC .

Here we see a reconstruction drawing of the Palace of King David. In the excavations of Yigal Shiloh, which took place between 1978-’84, a stepped stone structure was discovered that may have served as a foundation for David’s palace that stood higher up the hill. It stood behind the northern city wall and had rooms arranged round a courtyard. In the palace garden we see a tent for the Ark of the Covenant.

The Ark was then moved into the new temple that was built on Mount Moriah by Solomon, the son of David.

The design of this beautiful model of Solomon’s Temple is based on the description in the Book of Kings. The Temple had a high Porch, supported by two bronze pillars, called Yachin and Boaz. The inner sanctuary was divided into two rooms, the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies (Most Holy Place), where the Ark of the Covenant stood. A three-storey high structure surrounded the sanctuary. In front of the Temple stood the Altar, the bronze Basin (Sea) and ten smaller basins.

This sacred compound was surrounded by a wall that formed the Temple court.

The Holy of Holies was placed on the summit of Mount Moriah, with the Temple facing east, toward the Mount of Olives. Solomon also built a palace complex adjacent to the Temple. It consisted of his armory, the House of the Forest of Lebanon, a Hall of Pillars, the Porch of the King’s Throne, the King’s House and the house of his wife, Pharaoh’s daughter. As our drawings concern Mount Moriah only, all other buildings and city walls have been omitted.

On the visit of the Queen of Sheba to Jerusalem (1 Kings 10), the Ascent which Solomon built from this complex up to the Temple, was one of the things that inspired her awe.

This schematic drawing shows an arrangement of the various buildings, based on parallels with similar complexes excavated elsewhere in the Middle East. From a large courtyard in front of Solomon’s House, a special Royal Ascent (1 Kings 10.5 KJV) led up to the Temple, which lay on higher ground.

For those of you who are interested, Carta very much hope to publish our guide book to the Temple Mount at the earliest propitious moment.

The first drawing in this series showed Mount Moriah itself.

The second drawing shows the Temple Mount in the time of the Jebusites.

10 thoughts on “The Temple Mount in the time of Solomon”

  1. Is it possible the ascent that was built prior to the Queen of Sheba’s visit to the temple area is still under the present Temple Mount or was it demolished when Herod enlarged the temple grounds?

  2. Jeanne,
    King Hezekiah built a new square Temple Mount, measuring 500 cubits square and also renewed the damaged Temple of Solomon. In order to create a new platform, he must have dismantled Solomon’s Palace and other structures. The removal of the ascent may have been referred to by the Prophet Isaiah, “He has taken away the covering of Judah” (22.8).

  3. Thanks once again for a excellent article!
    Just one small thing though. You mention a wall around this temenos. I was under the impression there is no such (expected) wall mentioned so early on. Is it possible to know your source for suggesting this, please?

  4. Philip,
    Solomon’s Temple was set in a temenos or courtyard that was surrounded by a wall. Source: 1Kings 6:36 “And he built the inner court with three rows of hewed stone, and a row of cedar beams.”

  5. Hi, leen!

    Has your research led you to consider the size and shape of ezekiel’s Temple? Large or small temple?

  6. Patty,
    Both small and large. The Temple described in Ezekiel had a wall around it measuring 500 reeds by 500 reeds (Ezek. 42:16-20), that is about 1.5 km or 1 mile square. The Temple itself stood within a centrally placed square Temple Mount measuring 500 cubits, just as the one built by King Hezekiah. One arrives at this measurement by adding the lengths of the lower gates (50 cubits) the lower court (100 cubits), the upper gate (50 cubits) and the square courtyard in front of the temple (100 cubits), in the centre of which stood the altar, and then again the upper gate (50 cubits) the lower court (100 cubits) and the lower gate (50 cubits), making a total of 500 cubits. The Temple itself was not dissimular to Solomon’s Temple, both of which had a Holy of Holies measuring 20 cubits square (Ezek. 41:4).
    Hope this helps.

  7. We agree! So any disagree without these measurements. Thank you. How is Kathleen?

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