[Heb., heh·khalʹ, temple, palace; Gr., hi·e·ronʹ, temple; na·osʹ, sanctuary, a dwelling (specifically, of a god), temple]. Temples, literal, visionary and symbolic, are described in the Scriptures, the primary ones being the temples built by (1) Solomon, (2) Zerubbabel and (3) Herod the Great, and (4) the visionary temple of Ezekiel and (5) the spiritual temple.
King David entertained a strong desire to build a house for Jehovah, to contain the ark of the covenant, which was “dwelling in the middle of tent cloths.” Jehovah was pleased with David’s proposal, but told him that, due to the fact that he had shed much blood in warfare, his son (Solomon) would be privileged to do the building. This was not to say that God did not approve David’s wars fought in behalf of Jehovah’s name and His people. But the temple was to be built in peace by a man of peace, foreshadowing the Great Temple Builder and Prince of Peace Jesus Christ.—2 Sam. 7:1-16; 1 Ki. 5:3-5; 8:17; 1 Chron. 17:1-14; 22:6-10.
Later David purchased the threshing floor of Ornan (Araunah) the Jebusite on Mount Moriah as the temple site. (2 Sam. 24:24, 25; 1 Chron. 21:24, 25) He amassed 100,000 talents of gold, one million talents of silver, and copper and iron in great abundance, besides contributing from his personal fortune 3,000 talents of gold and 7,000 talents of silver. He also received as contributions from the princes, 5,000 talents and 10,000 darics of gold and 10,000 talents of silver, as well as much iron and copper. (1 Chron. 22:14; 29:3-7) This total, 108,000 talents and 10,000 darics of gold and 1,017,000 talents of silver, would be worth $5,623,273,830 at current values. His son Solomon did not spend the entire amount in building the temple; the remainder he put in the temple treasury.—1 Ki. 7:51; 2 Chron. 5:1.
King Solomon began building the temple in the fourth year of his reign (1034 B.C.E.), in the second month, Ziv, following the architectural plan that David had received by inspiration. (1 Ki. 6:1; 1 Chron. 28:11-19) The work continued over a seven-year period. (1 Ki. 6:37, 38) In exchange for wheat, barley, oil and wine, Hiram king of Tyre supplied timbers from Lebanon and skilled workers in wood and stone, and one special expert, also named Hiram, whose father was a Tyrian and his mother an Israelitess of the tribe of Naphtali. This man was a fine workman in gold, silver, copper, iron, wood, stones and fabrics.—1 Ki. 5:8-11, 18; 7:13, 14, 40, 45; 2 Chron. 2:13-16.
In organizing the work, Solomon conscripted 30,000 men out of Israel, sending them to Lebanon in shifts of 10,000 for a month, with a two-month stay at home between shifts. (1 Ki. 5:13, 14) As burden bearers he conscripted 70,000 from among the “alien residents” in the land, and as cutters 80,000. (1 Ki. 5:15; 9:20, 21; 2 Chron. 2:2) As foremen over the work Solomon appointed 550 men and apparently 3,300 as assistants. (1 Ki. 5:16; 9:22, 23) It appears that, of these, 250 were Israelites and 3,600 were “alien residents” in Israel.—2 Chron. 2:17, 18.
Length of “cubit” used
In the following discussion of the measurements of the three temples built by Solomon, Zerubbabel and Herod, we shall calculate them on the basis of the cubit of 17.5 inches (c. 44.4 centimeters). However, it is possible that they used the longer cubit of about 20.4 inches (51.8 centimeters).—Compare 2 Chronicles 3:3 (which mentions a “length in cubits by the former measurement,” this perhaps being a longer measure than the cubit that came to be commonly in use), and Ezekiel 40:5; see CUBIT.
Plan and materials
The temple, a most magnificent structure, followed the general plan of the tabernacle. The Holy and Most Holy were of the same proportions, but their inside dimensions were twice those of the tabernacle. The Holy was forty cubits (c. 58.3 feet; 17.8 meters) long and twenty cubits (c. 29.2 feet; 8.9 meters) wide and high. The Most Holy was a cube twenty cubits on a side. (1 Ki. 6:20; 2 Chron. 3:8) Additionally, there were roof chambers that were approximately ten cubits (c. 14.6 feet; 4.4 meters) high, since the building reached a height of thirty cubits (c. 43.8 feet; c. 13.3 meters). (1 Ki. 6:2; 1 Chron. 28:11) There were also other buildings around it, containing storage chambers, dining rooms, and so forth.—1 Ki. 6:4-6, 10.
Materials used were primarily stone and wood. The floors of these rooms were overlaid with juniper wood, the inside walls were of cedar engraved with carvings of cherubs, palm trees and blossoms; the walls and ceiling were entirely overlaid with gold. (1 Ki. 6:15, 18, 21, 22, 29) The doors of the Holy Place (at the temple entrance) were made of juniper, carved, and overlaid with gold foil. (1 Ki. 6:34, 35) Doors of oil-tree wood, likewise carved and overlaid with gold, provided entrance between the Holy and Most Holy. Whatever their exact position, these doors did not fully replace the curtain arrangement that had been in effect in the tabernacle. (Compare 2 Chronicles 3:14.) Two gigantic cherubs of oil-tree wood, gold overlaid, occupied the Most Holy. Under these the ark of the covenant was placed.—1 Ki. 6:23-28, 31-33; 8:6; see CHERUB No. 1.
All the utensils of the Holy Place were of gold: the altar of incense and the table of showbread, and ten lampstands, together with their appurtenances. Beside the entrance to the Holy Place (the first compartment) stood two copper pillars, called “Jachin” and “Boaz.” (1 Ki. 7:15-22, 48-50; see BOAZ, II; JACHIN No. 3.) The courtyard was constructed of fine stone and cedarwood. (1 Ki. 6:36) The courtyard furnishings, the altar of sacrifice, the great “molten sea,” ten carriages for water basins, and other utensils were of copper.—1 Ki. 7:23-47; see ALTAR; GATE, GATEWAY; HOLY PLACE; MOST HOLY.
An outstanding feature of the construction of this temple was the fact that all the stone was cut at the quarry, so that it fit perfectly at the temple site. “As for hammers and axes or any tools of iron, they were not heard in the house while it was being built.” (1 Ki. 6:7) The work was completed in seven and a half years (from spring, 1034 B.C.E. to fall [Bul, the eighth month], 1027 B.C.E.).—1 Ki. 6:1, 38.
In the seventh month, Ethanim, apparently in the twelfth year of Solomon’s reign (1026 B.C.E.), Solomon congregated the men of Israel to Jerusalem for the temple inauguration and the Festival of Booths. The tabernacle with its holy furniture was brought up, and the ark of the covenant was placed in the Most Holy. At this Jehovah’s cloud filled the temple. Solomon then blessed Jehovah and the congregation of Israel and, standing on a special platform before the copper altar of sacrifice, offered a long prayer praising Jehovah and asking for his loving-kindness and mercy in behalf of those who turned toward Him to fear and to serve Him, both the Israelite and the foreigner. A grand sacrifice of 22,000 cattle and 120,000 sheep was offered. The inauguration occupied seven days, and the Festival of Booths seven days, after which, on the twenty-third day of the month, Solomon sent the people home joyful and thankful for Jehovah’s goodness and bountifulness.—1 Ki. chap. 8; 2 Chron. 5:1–7:10; see SOLOMON (Inauguration of the temple).
This temple existed until it was destroyed by the Babylonian army under King Nebuchadnezzar, in 607 B.C.E. (2 Ki. 25:9; 2 Chron. 36:19; Jer. 52:13) Due to the falling away of Israel to false religion, God permitted the nations to harass Judah and Jerusalem, at times stripping the temple of its treasures. The temple also suffered periods of neglect. King Shishak of Egypt robbed it of its treasures (c. 993 B.C. E.) in the days of Rehoboam the son of Solomon, only about thirty-three years after its inauguration. (1 Ki. 14:25, 26; 2 Chron. 12:9) King Asa (977-937 B.C.E.) had respect for Jehovah’s house, but to protect Jerusalem he foolishly bribed King Benhadad of Syria, with silver and gold from the treasures of the temple, to break his covenant with Baasha king of Israel.—1 Ki. 15:18, 19; 2 Chron. 15:17, 18; 16:2, 3.
After a period of turbulence and neglect of the temple, King Jehoash of Judah (897-858 B.C.E.) oversaw its repair. (2 Ki. 12:4-12; 2 Chron. 24:4-14) In the days of his son Amaziah, Jehoash king of Israel robbed it. (2 Ki. 14:13, 14) King Jotham (777-762 B.C.E.) did some construction work on the temple area, building the “upper gate.” (2 Ki. 15:32, 35; 2 Chron. 27:1, 3) King Ahaz of Judah (761-746 B.C.E.) not only sent the treasures of the temple to Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria as a bribe, but he also polluted the temple by building an altar patterned after one in Damascus, and replacing the copper altar of the temple with it. (2 Ki. 16:5-16) Finally he closed the doors of Jehovah’s house.—2 Chron. 28:24.
Ahaz’ son Hezekiah (745-716 B.C.E.) did what he could to undo the bad works of his father. At the very beginning of his reign he reopened the temple and had it cleaned up. (2 Chron. 29:3, 15, 16) However, later on, for fear of Sennacherib king of Assyria, he cut off the doors and the doorposts of the temple that he himself had caused to be overlaid with gold and sent them to Sennacherib.—2 Ki. 18:15, 16.
But when Hezekiah died the temple entered a half century of desecration and disrepair. His son Manasseh (716-661 B.C.E.) went beyond any of Judah’s previous kings in wickedness, setting up altars “to all the army of the heavens in two courtyards of the house of Jehovah.” (2 Ki. 21:1-5; 2 Chron. 33:1-4) By the time of Manasseh’s grandson Josiah (659-628 B.C.E.) the formerly magnificent edifice was in a state of disrepair. Evidently it was in a disorganized or cluttered condition, for High Priest Hilkiah’s finding the book of the law (possibly an original scroll written by Moses) was an exciting discovery. (2 Ki. 22:3-13; 2 Chron. 34:8-21) After the temple’s repair and cleansing, the greatest Passover since the days of Samuel the prophet was celebrated. (2 Ki. 23:21-23; 2 Chron. 35:17-19) This was during the ministry of the prophet Jeremiah. (Jer. 1:1-3) From this time until the temple’s destruction it remained open and in use by the priesthood, though many of the priests were corrupt.
THE TEMPLE BUILT BY ZERUBBABEL
As foretold by Jehovah’s prophet Isaiah, God raised up Cyrus king of Persia as a liberator of Israel from the power of Babylon. (Isa. 45:1) Jehovah also stirred up his own people under the leadership of Zerubbabel of the tribe of Judah to return to Jerusalem for the purpose of rebuilding the temple, in 537 B.C.E., after seventy years of desolation, as Jeremiah had foretold. (Ezra 1:1-6; 2:1, 2; Jer. 29:10) This structure, though not nearly so glorious as Solomon’s temple, endured longer, standing for nearly 500 years, from 515 B.C.E. to very late in the first century B.C.E. (The temple built by Solomon had served about 420 years, from 1027 to 607 B.C.E.)
In Cyrus’ decree he ordered: “As for anyone that is left from all the places where he is residing as an alien, let the men of his place assist him with silver and with gold and with goods and with domestic animals along with the voluntary offering for the house of the true God, which was in Jerusalem.” (Ezra 1:1-4) Cyrus also returned five thousand four hundred vessels of gold and silver that Nebuchadnezzar had taken from Solomon’s temple.—Ezra 1:7-11.
In the seventh month (Ethanim or Tishri) of the year 537 B.C.E. the altar was set up, and in the following year the foundation of the new temple was laid. As Solomon had done, the builders hired Sidonians and Tyrians to bring cedar timbers from Lebanon. (Ezra 3:7) The building work progressed for about fifteen years until it came under official ban of the king of Persia due to accusations written to the king by opposers, particularly the Samaritans.—Ezra chap. 4.
The temple builders weakened, but Jehovah sent his prophets Haggai and Zechariah to stir them to renew their efforts, and in the second year of Darius I (520/519 B.C.E.) a decree was made upholding Cyrus’ original order and commanding that monies be provided from the royal treasury, to supply what the builders and priests needed. (Ezra 5:1, 2; 6:1-12) The building work resumed promptly and the house of Jehovah was completed on the third day of Adar in the sixth year of Darius (probably about March 5/6 of 515 B.C.E.), after which the Jews inaugurated the rebuilt temple and held the Passover.—Ezra 6:13-22.
Little is known about the details of the architectural plan of this second temple. Cyrus’ decree authorized the building of a structure “its height being sixty cubits [c. 87.5 feet; 26.7 meters], its width sixty cubits, with three layers of stones rolled into place and one layer of timbers.” The length is not stated. (Ezra 6:3, 4) It had dining rooms and storerooms, and undoubtedly had roof chambers, and possibly other buildings were associated with it, along the same lines as Solomon’s temple. Apparently it was less magnificent, however, for some of those returned Jews who had seen the former temple foolishly counted it in their eyes “as nothing” by comparison.—Hag. 2:3.
This second temple did not contain the ark of the covenant, which seems to have disappeared before Nebuchadnezzar captured and looted Solomon’s temple in 607 B.C.E. According to the account in the apocryphal book of First Maccabees (1:21-24, 57; 4:38, 44-51) there was one lampstand instead of the ten that were in Solomon’s; the golden altar, the table of showbread and the vessels are mentioned, as well as the altar of burnt offering, which, instead of being of copper, as was the altar in Solomon’s temple, is there described as being of stone. This altar, after being defiled by King Antiochus Epiphanes (in 168 B.C.E.), was rebuilt with new stones under the direction of Judas Maccabaeus. The record by Nehemiah reveals that this temple contained storerooms and dining halls.—Neh. 13:4, 5, 9.
THE TEMPLE BUILT BY HEROD
This temple is not described in any detail in the Scriptures. The primary source is Josephus, who personally saw the structure, and who reports on its construction in his Wars of the Jews and Antiquities of the Jews. The Jewish Mishnah supplies some information, and a little is gained from archaeology. Therefore the description set forth here is from these sources, which in some instances may be open to question.
Josephus says, in one place (Wars of the Jews, Book I, chap. XXI, par. 1), that Herod rebuilt the temple in the fifteenth year of his reign, but in Antiquities of the Jews (Book XV, chap. XI, par. 1), he says it was in the eighteenth year. This latter date is generally accepted by scholars, although the beginning of Herod’s reign, or how Josephus calculated it, is not established with certainty. The sanctuary itself took eighteen months to build, but the courtyards, and so forth, were under construction for eight years. When certain Jews approached Jesus Christ in 30 C.E., saying, “This temple was built in forty-six years” (John 2:20), these Jews were apparently talking about the work that continued on the complex of courts and buildings up until then. The work was not finished until about six years before the destruction of the temple in 70 C.E.
Because of hatred and distrust of Herod, the Jews would not permit him to rebuild the temple, as he proposed, until he had everything prepared for the new building. For the same reason they did not consider this temple as a third one, but only as a rebuilt one, speaking only of the first and second temples (Solomon’s and Zerubbabel’s).
As to Josephus’ measurements, Smith’s Dictionary of the Bible says: “His horizontal dimensions are so minutely accurate that we almost suspect he had before his eyes, when writing, some ground-plan of the building prepared in the quartermaster-general’s department of Titus’s army. They form a strange contrast with his dimensions in height, which, with scarcely an exception, can be shown to be exaggerated, generally doubled. As the buildings were all thrown down during the siege, it was impossible to convict him of error in respect to elevations.”—P. 3203.
Colonnades and gates
Josephus writes that Herod doubled the size of the temple area, building up the sides of Mount Moriah with great stone walls and leveling off an area 400 cubits (c. 583 feet; 178 meters) square on the top of the mountain. On the outer edge of the area were colonnades. The temple faced the E, as did the previous ones. Along this side was the colonnade of Solomon, consisting of three columns of marble pillars. On one occasion, in the wintertime, Jesus was approached here by certain Jews asking if he was the Christ. (John 10:22-24) In the N and W were also colonnades, dwarfed by the Royal Colonnade on the S, consisting of four rows of Corinthian pillars, 162 in all, with three aisles. The pillars’ circumferences were so great that it took three men with outstretched arms to reach around one of them, and they stood much higher than those of the other colonnades.
There were eight or ten gates leading into the temple area: four or five on the W side, two or three on the S, and one each on the E and N. Because of these gates the first court, the Court of the Gentiles, also served as a thoroughfare, travelers preferring to go through it instead of outside around the temple area.
Court of the Gentiles
The colonnades surrounded the large area named the Court of the Gentiles, so called because Gentiles were permitted to enter it. It was from it that Jesus, on two occasions, once near the beginning and once at the close of his earthly ministry, expelled those who had made the house of his Father a house of merchandise.—John 2:13-17; Matt. 21:12, 13; Mark 11:15-18.
There were several courts through which one passed as he proceeded to the central building, the sanctuary itself. Each succeeding court was of a higher degree of sanctity. Passing through the Court of the Gentiles, one encountered a wall three cubits (c. 4.4 feet; 1.3 meters) high, with openings through which to pass. On its top were large stones bearing a warning in Greek and Latin. The Greek inscription read (according to one translation): “Let no foreigner enter inside of the barrier and the fence around the sanctuary. Whosoever is caught will be the cause of death following as a penalty (upon himself).” (Westminster Dictionary of the Bible, pp. 596, 597) On the occasion when the apostle Paul was mobbed in the temple it was because the Jews rumored that he had brought a Gentile within the forbidden area. We are reminded of this wall, though Paul was using the term “wall” symbolically, when we read that Christ “destroyed the wall” that fenced off Jew from Gentile.—Eph. 2:14; Acts 21:20-32.
Court of Women
The Court of Women was fourteen steps higher. Here women could enter for worship. Among other things, the Court of Women contained treasure chests, near one of which Jesus stood when he commended the widow for giving her all. (Luke 21:1-4) In this court were also several buildings.
Court of Israel and Court of Priests
Fifteen large semicircular steps led up to the Court of Israel, which could be entered by men who were ceremonially clean. Against the outside wall of this court were storage chambers.
Then came the Court of Priests, which corresponded to the courtyard of the tabernacle. In it was the altar, built of unhewn stones. According to the Mishnah, it was thirty-two cubits (46.7 feet; 14.2 meters) square at the base. Josephus gives a higher figure. The priests reached the altar by an inclined plane. A “brazen sea” was also in use, according to the Mishnah. Around this court also were various buildings.
The temple building
As previously, the temple proper consisted primarily of two compartments, the Holy Place and the Most Holy. The floor of this building was twelve steps above the Court of Priests. Even as with Solomon’s temple, chambers were built on the sides of this building. The entrance was closed by golden doors, each fifty-five cubits (c. 80 feet; 24 meters) high and sixteen cubits (c. 23 feet; 7 meters) broad. The front of the building was wider than the back, having wings or “shoulders” that extended out twenty cubits on each side. The inside of the Holy Place was forty cubits (c. 58 feet; 18 meters) long and twenty cubits (c. 29 feet; 9 meters) wide. It was apparently forty cubits high, and there was an upper chamber over both the Holy and the Most Holy. In the Holy Place were the lampstand, the table of show-bread and the altar of incense, all of gold.
The entrance to the Most Holy was a beautifully ornamented thick curtain or veil. At the time of Jesus’ death this curtain was torn in two from top to bottom, exposing the Most Holy as containing no ark of the covenant. In place of the Ark was a stone slab upon which the high priest sprinkled the blood on the day of atonement. (Matt. 27:51; Heb. 6:19; 10:20) This room was twenty cubits long and twenty cubits wide.
The Jews used the temple area as a citadel or fortress during the Roman siege of Jerusalem in 70 C.E. They themselves set fire to the colonnades, but a Roman soldier, contrary to the wishes of the Roman commander Titus, fired the temple itself, thereby fulfilling Jesus’ words regarding the temple buildings: “By no means will a stone be left here upon a stone and not be thrown down.”—Matt. 24:2.
In 593 B.C.E., in the fourteenth year after the destruction of Jerusalem and Solomon’s temple therein, the priest-prophet Ezekiel, transported in vision to a high mountaintop, beheld a great temple of Jehovah. (Ezek. 40:1, 2) To humiliate and bring about repentance of the exiled Jews, also doubtless to comfort faithful ones, Ezekiel was instructed to relate everything he saw to the “house of Israel.” (40:4; 43:10, 11) The vision gave careful attention to the details of measurement. The units of measure used were the “reed” (the long reed, c. 10.2 feet; 3.1 meters) and the “cubit” (the long cubit, c. 20.4 inches; 51.8 centimeters). (40:5) This attention to measurement has led some to believe that this visionary temple was to serve as a model for the temple later constructed by Zerubbabel in the postexilic period. There is, however, no conclusive substantiation of this assumption. In fact, the area enclosed by the visionary temple and its courts was some 500 long cubits (c. 850 feet; 259 meters) square, whereas the area of Mount Moriah, on which the actual temple was built, was much too small for the dimensions required by Ezekiel’s temple. A wall one reed (c. 10.2 feet; 3.1 meters) high surrounded the outer courtyard.—40:5.
Gateways and dining rooms
Built into the temple’s outer and inner walls were six huge gateways, three in the outer walls and three in the inner walls. These faced N, E, and S, each inner gate being directly behind (in line with) its corresponding outer gate. (Ezek. 40:6, 8, 10, 11, 20, 22-24, 27, 32, 35) Inside the outer wall was the lower pavement. It was fifty cubits (c. 85 feet; 25.9 meters) wide, the same as the length of the gateways. (40:18, 21) Thirty dining rooms, likely for the people to eat their communion sacrifices, were located there. (40:17) At each of the four corners of this outer courtyard were located places where the peoples’ portions of their sacrifices were cooked by the priests, according to the Law’s requirement; then they were apparently consumed in the provided dining rooms.—46:21-24.
The priests’ dining rooms were separated from the peoples’, being placed closer to the temple, along with two dining rooms for the temple singers, in the inner courtyard beside the massive inner gateways. (Ezek. 40:38, 44-46) The priests had their own dining-room blocks, to the N and S of the sanctuary itself. (42:1-12) These dining rooms, in addition to their most evident purpose, were places for the priests to change the linen garments used in temple service prior to their entering the outer courtyard. (42:13, 14) Also in that area, to the rear of the dining-room blocks, were the boiling and baking places of the priests, intended for the same basic purpose as those in the outer courtyard, but these for only the priests.—46:19, 20.
Outer and inner courtyards
Progressing across the outer courtyard through the inner gateway, one entered the inner courtyard, 150 cubits (c. 255 feet; 77.7 meters) from the edge of the outer courtyard on the E, N and S. This courtyard was 200 cubits (340 feet; 103.6 meters) wide. (It apparently was 100 cubits from the inside of the outer gateway, which was fifty cubits long. This would make the outer courtyard 500 cubits square.) (Ezek. 40:19, 23, 27) Prominent in the inner courtyard was the altar.—43:13-17; see ALTAR (Altar of Ezekiel’s Temple).
The sanctuary building
The sanctuary’s first room, forty cubits (68 feet; 20.7 meters) long and twenty cubits (34 feet; 10.4 meters) wide, was entered by a doorway having two two-leaved doors. (Ezek. 41:23, 24) Therein was the “table that is before Jehovah,” a wooden altar.—41:21, 22.
The outer walls of the sanctuary had side chambers four cubits (6.8 feet; 2 meters) wide incorporated into and against them. Rising three stories, they covered the western, northern, and southern walls, thirty chambers to a story. (Ezek. 41:5, 6) To ascend the three stories, winding passages, seemingly circular staircases, were provided on the N and S. (41:7) To the rear or W of the temple, lying apparently lengthwise N to S, was a structure called bin·yanʹ, a ‘building to the west.’ (41:12) Although some scholars have attempted to identify this building with the temple or sanctuary itself, there appears no basis for such an identification in the book of Ezekiel; the ‘building to the west,’ for one thing, was of different shape and dimensions from those of the sanctuary. This structure doubtless served some function in connection with the services carried on at the sanctuary. There may have been a similar building or buildings W of Solomon’s temple.—Compare 2 Kings 23:11 and 1 Chronicles 26:18.
The Most Holy was of the same shape as that of Solomon’s temple, being twenty cubits square. In the vision Ezekiel saw Jehovah’s glory come from the E, filling the temple. Jehovah described this temple as “the place of my throne.”—Ezek. 43:1-7.
Ezekiel describes a wall 500 reeds (c. 5,100 feet; 1,554 meters) on each side, around the temple. This has been understood by some scholars to be a wall at a distance of about 2,000 feet, or 600 meters, from the courtyard, a space surrounded by the wall “to make a division between what is holy and what is profane.”—Ezek. 42:16-20.
A stream of living water
Ezekiel also beheld a stream of water flowing “from under the threshold of the House eastward” and S of the altar, growing into a deep and mighty torrent as it flowed down through the Arabah into the N end of the Salt Sea. Here it healed the salt waters so that they became filled with fish.—Ezek. 47:1-12.
THE SPIRITUAL TEMPLE
That the literal temples of Solomon, Zerubbabel and Herod were only typical or pictorial was shown by Solomon in his inauguration prayer when he said: “The heavens, yes, the heaven of the heavens, themselves cannot contain you; how much less, then, this house that I have built!” (1 Ki. 8:27) Also, Jehovah, through the prophet Isaiah, as well as the Christian martyr Stephen and the apostle Paul, expressed the same thought.—Isa. 66:1; Acts 7:48; 17:24.
Since the apostle Paul explained that the priests serving in the tabernacle built by Moses were “rendering sacred service in a typical representation and a shadow of the heavenly things,” we look to the Christian Greek Scriptures to find the reality represented by the type.—Heb. 8:5.
Paul writes to the Christians in Ephesus “in union with Christ Jesus,” those who are “sealed with the promised holy spirit,” saying: “You have been built up upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, while Christ Jesus himself is the foundation cornerstone. In union with him the whole building, being harmoniously joined together, is growing into a holy temple for Jehovah. In union with him You, too, are being built up together into a place for God to inhabit by spirit.” (Eph. 1:1, 13; 2:20-22) These “sealed” ones, laid upon Christ as Foundation, are shown in John’s vision recorded in Revelation to number 144,000.—Rev. 7:4; 14:1.
The apostle Peter speaks of these as “living stones” being “built up a spiritual house for the purpose of a holy priesthood.” (1 Pet. 2:5) From this we see that the temple of old, and the services of the priesthood in it, provided a shadow of the reality, the service to God carried on by his “royal priesthood.”—1 Pet. 2:9.
God will not let this spiritual temple suffer defilement and consequent disapproval and abandonment, as happened with the earthly temples. Paul emphasizes the holiness of this spiritual temple, and the danger to one who attempts to defile it when he writes: “Do you not know that you people are God’s temple, and that the spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him; for the temple of God is holy, which temple you people are.” (1 Cor. 3:16, 17) He gives the example that one of the members of the Christ who commits fornication is taking a member of Christ away and making himself the member of (one flesh with) a harlot. He then points out that, as a body, these Christians constitute a temple of the holy spirit belonging to God, and do not belong to themselves, being bought with a price for the purpose of glorifying God, as was the purpose of the literal temples. (1 Cor. 6:15-20) Thus Jehovah makes certain that the spiritual temple will always be holy by excluding would-be defilers and allowing only those maintaining righteousness to be a part thereof.
Permanent heavenly places
Jesus Christ promises these spirit-begotten Christians that the conqueror, who endures faithfully to the end, will be made “a pillar in the temple of my God, and he will by no means go out from it any more.” This would mean their permanent place in that spiritual structure in the heavens, for the Chief Cornerstone is in heaven, and he adds, “I will write upon him the name of . . . the new Jerusalem which descends out of heaven from my God.”—Rev. 3:12.
God places his throne there
In the Revelation vision, John also saw Jehovah God enthroned in a setting like the interior of the temple of Solomon. In Solomon’s temple Jehovah was not enthroned, but a miraculous light hovered above the ark of the covenant. That temple had ten lamp-stands. In his vision John beheld seven. And just as Solomon’s temple had in the courtyard the great copper “molten sea,” John saw before the throne, as it were, a “glassy sea like crystal.”—Rev. 4:2-6; 2 Chron. 4:2, 7.
The temple sanctuary in heaven is mentioned several times in Revelation. God is shown as being present for judgment, along with holy angels. (Rev. 14:17; 15:5-8; 16:1, 17) In one instance the ark of the covenant is seen, revealing that Jehovah God was dealing with that heavenly temple, and had not abandoned it, as he abandoned Herod’s temple. God gave indication of this when the curtain to the Most Holy was torn in two at the time of Jesus’ death, exposing the absence of the Ark in that earthly temple.—Rev. 11:19; Matt. 27:51.
Jehovah God and the Lamb ‘are its temple’
When John sees New Jerusalem come down from heaven, he remarks: “And I did not see a temple in it, for Jehovah God the Almighty is its temple, also the Lamb is.” (Rev. 21:2, 22) Since the New Jerusalem itself is a temple, built upon Christ and the secondary foundations of the twelve apostles of the Lamb (Eph. 2:20; Rev. 3:12; 21:14), those in it do not have to go to some building to worship Jehovah God, but do so directly; Jesus Christ, Jehovah’s High Priest, also dwells right there as the symbolic city’s husband. Therefore, Jehovah God and the Lamb, Jesus Christ, are said to be the temple of this heavenly city.
The apostle Paul, in warning of the apostasy to come, spoke of the “man of lawlessness” as setting himself up “so that he sits down in the temple of The God, publicly showing himself to be a god.” (2 Thess. 2:3, 4) As this “man of lawlessness” is an apostate, a false teacher, he only makes it appear that he is part of the spiritual temple. (See MAN OF LAWLESSNESS.) Thus “he sits down in the temple of The God.” This shows that, although ‘lawless,’ he makes the claim of being Christian.
AN ILLUSTRATIVE USE
On one occasion, when the Jews demanded a sign from Jesus, he replied: “Break down this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews thought he was speaking of the temple building, but the apostle John explains: “He was talking about the temple of his body.” When he was resurrected by his Father Jehovah on the third day of his death, the disciples recalled and understood this saying and believed it. (John 2:18-22; Matt. 27:40) He was resurrected, but not in his fleshly body, which was given as a ransom sacrifice; yet that fleshly body did not go into corruption, but was disposed of by God, just as a sacrifice was consumed on the altar. Jesus, when resurrected, was the same person, the same personality, in a new body made for his new dwelling place, the spiritual heavens.—Luke 24:1-7; 1 Pet. 3:18; Matt. 20:28; Acts 2:31; Heb. 13:8.
[Map on page 1583]
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TEMPLE-PALACE AREA OF JERUSALEM (1027-607 B.C.E.) (Ground Plan)
1 Most Holy
6 Copper Altar
7 Molten Sea
9 Dining Rooms
10 Platform of Copper
11 Inner Courtyard
12 Great Courtyard
13 Other Courtyard
14 House of the King
17 East Got,
18 Porch of the Throne
19 Parch of Pillars
20 House of the Forest of Lebanon
21 (Causeway System)
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TEMPLE REBUILT BY HEROD (Ground Plan)
1. Most Holy
3. Altar of Burnt Offering
4. Molten Sea
5. Inner Gate of Temple
Court of Israel
Court of Women
Court of the Gentiles
Mt. of Olives
Castle of Antonia (approximate site)
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TEMPLE-PALACE AREA OF JERUSALEM As it may have appeared in the days of Solomon