The uppermost section and crowning decoration of a building’s column. Massive capitals topped Jachin and Boaz, the pillars that stood in front of Solomon’s temple. (2Ch 3:15-17) These capitals and the pillars upon which they rested were made under the direction of the craftsman Hiram at the time of the temple’s construction (1034-1027 B.C.E.) and survived over 400 years until Jerusalem was sacked by the Babylonians in 607 B.C.E. (2Ch 4:11-13; Jer 52:17, 22) In every reference to these capitals, except for one, the Hebrew word ko·theʹreth is used. It comes from the root ka·tharʹ (‘surround’; Jg 20:43) and is related to keʹther (“headdress”; Es 1:11). The Hebrew word for “capital” occurring in 2 Chronicles 3:15 (tseʹpheth) comes from the root verb tsa·phahʹ, meaning “overlay.”—Ex 25:11.
The pillars themselves were of cast copper, about 1.7 m (5.6 ft) in diameter and 18 cubits (8 m; 26 ft) high. In addition, the capitals were 5 cubits (2.2 m; 7.3 ft) high. (1Ki 7:15, 16) In view of the passages indicating that the capitals were five cubits high, a number of scholars have concluded that the reference to “three cubits” in 2 Kings 25:17 is a scribal error. That is why some Bible translations (for example, JB, NAB) have replaced “three cubits” with “five cubits.” Since the pillars were hollow, with walls about 7.5 cm (3 in.) thick, it is reasonable to suppose that the capitals were of similar construction and were also cast in clay molds “in the District of the Jordan.”—2Ch 4:17; Jer 52:21.
From the limited description of these bowl-shaped capitals, it is impossible to describe their exact appearance or design. Around the bottom part of each there were seven nets of copper network, and from these hung two rows of 100 copper pomegranates each, suspended on copper chains. These were arranged like necklaces around the capitals. (1Ki 7:17, 18, 20, 42; 2Ch 3:16) It appears that on the side of the capital next to the temple, four pomegranates in each chain of 100 were rather obscured from view, for Jeremiah says there “came to be ninety-six, on the sides” (literally, “windward”; “on the outside,” AT; “being visible,” Mo). (Jer 52:23) Above these pomegranate decorations there was “lily work” of 4 cubits (1.8 m; 5.8 ft).—1Ki 7:19, 22.
Other capitals that are mentioned in the Bible are Nineveh’s “pillar capitals” (Heb., kaph·toh·rimʹ), doomed to be frequented by “pelican and porcupine.”—Zep 2:13, 14.