The verb “build” means construct or make by assembling materials. The Hebrew word for “build” is ba·nahʹ. From it comes bin·yanʹ (“building”; Eze 41:12), miv·nehʹ (“structure”; Eze 40:2), and tav·nithʹ (“pattern” [Ex 25:40]; “representation” [De 4:16]; “architectural plan” [1Ch 28:11]). Oi·ko·do·meʹo is the common Greek verb for “build”; the related noun form oi·ko·do·meʹ means “building.”—Mt 16:18; 1Co 3:9.
Jehovah God as Creator of all things is the Builder par excellence. (Heb 3:4; Job 38:4-6) The Logos (Word), who became Jesus Christ, was the Master Worker that He used in creating all things. (Joh 1:1-3; Col 1:13-16; Pr 8:30) Man cannot create but must build with materials already existent. The ability to plan, to manufacture instruments, and to build was planted in man at his creation and was manifested early in human history.—Ge 1:26; 4:20-22.
Cain, the first son of Adam and Eve, is the first man mentioned in the Bible as the builder of a city, giving it the name of his son Enoch. (Ge 4:17) Noah was the builder of an ark, the pattern of which was given to him by Jehovah. (Ge 6:13, 14) Nimrod, “a mighty hunter in opposition to Jehovah,” was the builder of several cities, namely, Babel, Erech, Accad, Calneh, as well as Nineveh, Rehoboth-Ir, Calah, and Resen.—Ge 10:9-12.
When the Israelites were in slavery in Egypt they built cities as storage places for Pharaoh, namely, Pithom and Raamses. (Ex 1:11) When they were led by Jehovah into the Promised Land they there found cities that had been built by the Canaanite inhabitants. Many of these cities with their houses were taken and used by the Israelites.—De 6:10, 11.
In the wilderness Moses supervised the building of the tabernacle with all its utensils, the pattern having been divinely provided. (Ex 25:9) Taking the lead in the fabrication and construction were Bezalel and Oholiab, whose abilities were accentuated by God’s holy spirit so that the finished work was done exactly as God had commanded Moses.—Ex 25:40; 35:30–36:1.
After David took the city of Jerusalem from the Jebusites, he did considerable building there, including constructing a house for himself. (2Sa 5:9-11) His son Solomon was a builder of renown, the temple of Jehovah being his foremost project. The architectural plans for this temple had been given to David by inspiration. (1Ch 28:11, 12) David had gathered much of the material for the temple building, gold, silver, copper, iron, timbers, stones, and precious stones, contributed by the people and also from David’s own funds. (1Ch 22:14-16; 29:2-8) Hiram, king of Tyre, acted toward Solomon as he had toward David by supplying materials, particularly cedar and juniper timbers, as well as many workmen. (1Ki 5:7-10, 18; 2Ch 2:3) King Hiram also sent a man named Hiram (Hiram-abi), son of a Tyrian man and an Israelite woman, a very skilled worker in gold, silver, copper, iron, stones, timbers, and fabrics.—1Ki 7:13, 14; 2Ch 2:13, 14.
Solomon did other extensive building works, including a house for himself as well as the House of the Forest of Lebanon, the Porch of Pillars, and the Porch of the Throne. The building of the temple and other governmental buildings occupied 20 years. (1Ki 6:1; 7:1, 2, 6, 7; 9:10) Following this, Solomon embarked on a nationwide building program, including Gezer and Lower Beth-horon, Baalath and Tamar in the wilderness, along with storage cities, chariot cities, and cities for the horsemen. (1Ki 9:17-19) Excavations in Palestine, particularly at Hazor, Megiddo, and Gezer, have uncovered city gates and fortifications that archaeologists attribute to Solomon.
A notable builder among the kings of Israel and Judah was Solomon’s son Rehoboam. His works included the rebuilding of Bethlehem, Etam, Tekoa, Beth-zur, Soco, Adullam, Gath, Mareshah, Ziph, Adoraim, Lachish, Azekah, Zorah, Aijalon, and Hebron. Rehoboam also reinforced and provisioned the fortified places. (2Ch 11:5-11) Other builders were King Baasha of Israel, who “began to build Ramah”; King Asa of Judah, building at Geba in Benjamin and Mizpah; Hiel the Bethelite, who forfeited two sons when he rebuilt ruined Jericho—Abiram his firstborn at the laying of its foundation and Segub his youngest at the putting up of the doors—as Joshua had prophesied (1Ki 15:17, 22; 16:34; Jos 6:26); and King Ahab of Israel, who constructed a house of ivory, besides several cities (1Ki 22:39).
King Uzziah of Judah was an extensive builder. (2Ch 26:9, 10) Uzziah displayed evidence of military genius in fortifying Jerusalem with “engines of war, the invention of engineers.” (2Ch 26:15) Scenes of wall reliefs depicting Sennacherib’s assault on Lachish show special kinds of fortifications on the towers, attributed by archaeologists to Uzziah.
Jotham did a great deal of building. (2Ch 27:3, 4) And Hezekiah did considerable fortifying of Jerusalem, in connection with which he dug a water tunnel from the spring of Gihon to bring water inside the city. (2Ch 32:2-5, 30) This water tunnel can still be viewed by visitors to Jerusalem.
After the exile, Zerubbabel traveled from Babylon with about 50,000 men and began the rebuilding of the temple of Jehovah in Jerusalem. It was completed by March 6 of 515 B.C.E. Later, in 455 B.C.E., Nehemiah came from Shushan to rebuild the wall of the city.—Ezr 2:1, 2, 64, 65; 6:15; Ne 6:1; 7:1.
King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon is known mainly for his military exploits. Nonetheless, he was a great builder. At Babylon he built many temples to false gods. He was also a notable builder of public works. His inscriptions concern themselves not with his military exploits but with his building projects, including temples, palaces, streets, embankments, and walls. He made Babylon the wonder city of the ancient world, and in all of Babylonia no building compared with the famous Hanging Gardens that King Nebuchadnezzar built to satisfy the homesick longings of his Median queen. Those gardens were rated as one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.
King Herod the Great rebuilt the second temple of Jehovah at Jerusalem. Because of distrust on the part of the Jews, he was compelled to bring the materials in first, then to raze the second temple piecemeal as he constructed the new one. Due to their distrust and dislike of Herod, the Jews do not consider it the third temple, although it is often designated as such by others. By the year 30 C.E. reconstruction in the temple area had been under way for 46 years (Joh 2:20), and it continued for many more years. Herod also built an artificial harbor city, Caesarea, and he rebuilt Samaria and carried on other vast building projects within Palestine as well as in other lands.
Jesus, when on earth, was in the building trade, being referred to as a “carpenter.”—Mr 6:3.
Building materials used in Bible times were earth, wood of various sorts, stone, precious stones, metals, fabrics, plaster, mortar, and bitumen. Whitewash made of lime was also used, as were coloring for decorating wood, and dyes for fabrics. At times bricks were painted or enameled.—See BRICK.
A number of building tools and instruments are mentioned in the Bible, including the ax (De 19:5), hammer (Jg 4:21), forge hammer, anvil, nails (Isa 41:7), saw (Isa 10:15), stone-saw (1Ki 7:9), measuring line or rope (Zec 1:16; 2:1), measuring reed (Eze 40:3; Re 21:15), plummet (Am 7:7, 8; Zec 4:9, 10), leveling instrument (2Ki 21:13; Isa 28:17), wood scraper, compass (Isa 44:13), billhook (Isa 44:12; Jer 10:3), chisel (Ex 20:25), and scales (Isa 40:12).
Figurative Usage. The Christian congregation is considered a house or temple built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus as the foundation cornerstone. It is called “God’s building,” “a place for God to inhabit by spirit.” (1Co 3:9; Eph 2:20-22) Jesus applied the fulfillment of Psalm 118:22 to himself, as being “the stone” that the Jewish religious leaders and their followers, as “builders,” rejected. (Mt 21:42; Lu 20:17; Ac 4:11; 1Pe 2:7) The individual members of the congregation are spoken of as “living stones.” (1Pe 2:5) The glorified congregation, also known as the bride of Jesus Christ, is pictured as a city, the New Jerusalem.—Re 21:2, 9-21.
Jesus likened his hearers to two kinds of builders, one of which built his personality and way of life on the rock-mass of obedience to Christ and was, therefore, able to withstand the storms of opposition and tribulation. The other, building on sand, was unable to stand when pressure came. (Mt 7:24-27) Building of Christian personalities in others also is discussed by the apostle Paul, a “director of works.” (1Co 3:10-15) On one occasion Jesus said to the Jews: “Break down this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” (Joh 2:19) The Jews thought he was speaking of the temple of Herod and used this against him at his trial, witnesses against him saying: “We heard him say, ‘I will throw down this temple that was made with hands and in three days I will build another not made with hands.’” (Mr 14:58) Jesus was using figurative speech, referring to “the temple of his body.” He was put to death and on the third day rose again. (Joh 2:21; Mt 16:21; Lu 24:7, 21, 46) He was resurrected by his Father Jehovah God in another body, not one made with hands like the temple of Jerusalem, but a spirit body made (built) by his Father. (Ac 2:24; 1Pe 3:18) This use of building as applied to one’s body is not unique, for, speaking of Eve’s creation, it was said: “And Jehovah God proceeded to build the rib that he had taken from the man into a woman.”—Ge 2:22.
Jesus Christ foretold that in the “last days” people would be involved in building operations and other activities of life, oblivious to the real meaning of the times, just as they were in the days of Lot, and that destruction would come upon them unawares in the midst of these activities.—Lu 17:28-30; see ARCHITECTURE; FORTIFICATIONS.