Melachim 1/Kings 1-Chapter 6: The building of the Temple

Chapter 6: The building of the Temple

1.      The year that the temple was built:

  • And it was in the 480th year from when the Jewish people left the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Shlomo’s reign, that the temple of God was built in the month of Ziv [i.e. Iyar[1]] which is the second month [from Nissan[2]].

2.      The dimensions of the Heichal:

  • The building [i.e. the holy and holy of holies, known as the Heichel[3], this area was also called the Devir[4] and refers to the holy of holies[5]] that was built by King Shlomo for the sake of God was 60 cubits long [i.e. approximately 30 meters] and 20 cubits wide [i.e. approximately 10 m] and 30 cubits tall [i.e. approximately 15 m]. [Thus, it was double the size in length and width then the size of the tabernacle.[6]]
  • The dimensions of the courtyard of the Heichel: The entrance area to the Heichal of the building was 20 cubits long corresponding to the width of the Heichal, and was 10 cubits wide in front of the Heichal to the east.

3.      The windows:

  • Windows were built into the Heichal in a way that the inner side of the window was narrow and the outer side was wide [to emphasize that God does not require the light, unlike other windows which are built wide in the inside and narrow on the outside.[7] Some explained that these windows contained a clear glass panel as typical windows of today.[8]]

4.      The Heichal:

  • The hallway surrounding the Heichal: On the outside wall of the Heichal, surrounding both the Heichal and Devir [i.e. holy of holies[9]] a wall was built thus forming a hallway surrounding the Heichal [with the exception to the eastern side which was the front of the Heichall and did not contain an external wall]. There were three layers of shelves by the walls that surrounded the Heichal, [thus forming three floors in the area surrounding the walls of the Heichal]. The lower shelf was five cubits wide while the middle shelf was six cubits wide, while the third top shelf was seven cubits wide. This was done being that the external wall of the Heichal was built in a slant in order not to have the shelves need to be supported within actual holes in the wall of the Heichal.[10]
  • The excavation of the stones and lack of use of iron: The building was built with complete stones that were brought from the mountain. The sound of an ax or of any other iron vessel was not heard in the area of where the temple was built [as none of the stones were Carter excavated using iron and it was rather done using the special Shamir worm[11]].
  • The entrance to the Heichal: The entrance to the Heichal was from the right side of the Heichal. The shelves each contained a whole from which a person was able to go from the lower shelf to the higher shelf, from the bottom shelf to the middle shelf in the middle shelf to the top shelf.
  • The roof of the temple: The building of the temple was completed, and its roof was covered with two layers of roofing, one with the material called Geivim, and the second was made from cedarwood.
  • The height of each of the three floors that surrounded the Heichal: Each one of the floors/shelves that surrounded the Heichal was five cubits tall [for a total of 15 cubits[12]]. The top floor was covered with cedarwood to serve as its roof and was attached to the roof of the Heichal.

5.      Hashem guarantees the temple’s endurance to Shlomo if he follows the Torah:

  • God spoke with Shlomo saying, “this building that you have just built, if you follow my statutes and laws and guard all my commands to follow them, then I will establish my word with you and the words that I spoke with your father. I will dwell amongst the Jewish people, and I will not leave my nation Israel.”
  • Shlomo built the temple and completed it.

6.      The walls of the Heichal and Kodesh Hakedoshim:

  • The wooden layer of the inner walls: The inner walls of the temple was covered with a layer of cedarwood [in order so the stone walls not be apparent in the temple[13], and in order so it would be coated with gold[14]]. Thus, the entire inner stone wall was covered with wood.
  • The floor of the temple: The floor of the temple was covered with Beroshim wood.
  • The walls and Mechitza of the Kodesh Hakodashim: The [walls that covered the] 20 cubits that went from the end of the Heichal [i.e. the area of the Kodesh Hakodashim[15]] were also built with cedarwood, from the ground until the top of the walls [i.e. the roof, in order to then be plated with gold[16]]. This was built to form a separation between the area designated for the Kodesh Hakodashim which was known as the Devir, versus the regular part of the Heichal, which was known as the Bayis. [Some explain this to mean that there was an actual wall of one cubit thick that was built to separate between them, and it is this separating wall that’s referred to as the Devir.[17]]
  • The dimensions of the Heichal: The dimensions of the area of the Heichal [that was in front of the Kodesh Hakodashim[18]] was 40 cubits.
  • All the stone walls were coated with wood, and the wood was made with designs: The planks of cedarwood that covered the inner walls contain many designs, including buttons, flowers, and chains. It was all made of wood, and all the stone was covered by wood to the point that there were no stones visible in the Heichal.
  • The designation of the Kodesh Hakedoshim: A wall [which was one cubit wide[19]], known as the Devir, was placed in the inner part of the Heichal in order to enter into the ark of the covenant of God.
  • The dimensions of the Kodesh Hakedoshim: The inside area of the Devir [i.e. the Kodesh Hakedoshim] had a dimension of 20 cubits long by 20 cubits wide, and was 20 cubits tall. The separating wall known as the Devir was coated with the finest gold.
  • The altar of incense: The altar [of incense[20]] was made of [stone and covered with[21]] cedarwood [and was then coated with gold[22]].
  • Coating the walls of the Kodesh Hakedoshim with gold: King Solomon coated the inner walls of the Heichal [i.e. Kodesh Hakedoshim[23]] with expensive gold. The wall of the Devir contained chains that were coated with gold.
  • Coating the entire Heichal with gold: The entire Heichal was coated with gold throughout its entire length [and including the roof[24]]. The entire altar that was in front of the Devir was likewise coated with gold.
  • The Cherubim of the Devir: He made by the area of the Devir [within the Kodesh Hakedoshim[25]] two wooden Cherubim [i.e. baby faced sculptures[26]] made of olive tree wood, which were a height of ten cubits each. Both cherubs were a height of 10 cubits. Both Cherubs contained [two] wings [each, for a total of four wings[27]]. The width of each wing was five cubits. There was a length of 10 cubits from the end of the first wing to the end of the second wing by each of the two Cherubs [for a total of 20 cubits, five for each wing for a total of four wings. Thus, the wings of the two cherubs touched each other and took up the entire length of the space of the Kodesh Hakedoshim. The actual body of the cherubs did not take up any space and stood there miraculously.[28]] The two cherubs were made with exactly the same dimension. The cherubs were placed inside the actual Kodesh Hakedoshim, and their wings were spread open, with each wing touching the side of the wall that it is near, and spreading towards the inside of the Kodesh Hakedoshim until they touched each other. The cherubs were covered with gold.
  • The designs on the walls of the Kodesh Hakedoshim: All of the walls of the Heichel, including both the inner and outer chambers [i.e. the holy and holy of holies[29]], were designed with drawings, including engravings of Cherubs, palm trees, chains, and flowers.
  • The gold coating of the floor: The floor of the Heichel of both inner and outer chambers [i.e. the holy and holy of holies[30]], was coated with gold.
  • The doors of the Kodesh Hakedoshim: The entrance of the Devir [i.e. the holy of holies] was made of olive tree wood, and contained a five piece doorpost. The wooden doors contained designs of Cherubs, palm trees, chains, and flowers. The doors were coated with gold. The gold coating was formed over the engraved designs in such a way that they entered into the engravings, in order so the engravings of the door remain shown and not be covered over by the gold.
  • The doors of the Heichal: The entrance of Heichal had done to it the same thing that was done to the entrance of the holy of holies. Its doorposts were made of olivewood, and it’s doorpost was made up of four pieces. It had two doors that were made of Beroshim wood [each dore taking up half of the space of the opening[31]]. Each door of the two doors contained two hinges [for a total of four hinges]. The wooden doors contained designs of Cherubs, palm trees, chains, and flowers. The doors were coated with gold. The gold coating was formed over the engraved designs in such a way that they entered into the engravings, in order so the engravings of the door remain shown and not be covered over by the gold.

7.      The building of the courtyard of the temple:

  • The inner courtyard was built [i.e. the courtyard of the Israelites and priests known as the Ezras Yisrael and Ezras Kohanim[32]]. [It was referred to as the inner courtyard being that it was behind the Ezras Nashim.[33]] the walls of the courtyard were built with three rows of stone and one row of cedar wood [until it reached its full height].

8.      The date of the establishment of the temple:

  • The temple, the house of God, was established [had its foundation set in place[34]] in the fourth year [of reign of King Solomon[35]] in the month called Ziv [i.e. the month of Iyar[36]]. In the 11th year [of reign of King Solomon], in the month of Bull which is the eighth month of the year [i.e. the month of Marcheshvan[37]] the building of the temple was finally complete in all of its details and requirements. It was built for a total of seven years.

[1] Rashi 6:1

[2] Rashi 6:1

[3] See Ralbag 6:2

[4] Rashi 6:2

[5] Metzudos Tziyon 6:5

[6] Hagr”a 6:2

[7] Rashi 6:4; Menachos 86b

[8] Metzudos Dovid 6:4

[9] Metzudos Tziyon 6:5

[10] See Mefarshim on 6:6 for a detailed explanation behind these statements

[11] See Rashi 6:7

[12] Rashi 6:10

[13] Radak 6:15

[14] Rashi 6:15

[15] See Rashi 6:16

[16] Rashi 6:16

[17] See Rashi 6:16

[18] Rashi 6:17

[19] Rashi 6:19

[20] Rashi 6:20

[21] Metzudos Dovid 6:20

[22] Metzudos Dovid 6:20

[23] Rashi 6:21; however, see Metzudos Dovid 6:21 that it refers literally to the entire Heichal

[24] Metzudos Dovid 6:22

[25] Metzudos Dovid 6:23

[26] Metzudas Tziyon 6:23

[27] See Metzudos Dovid 6:25

[28] Rashi 6:24; Bava Basra 98a

[29] Rashi 6:29

[30] Rashi 6:30

[31] Rashi 6:34

[32] Rashi 6:36

[33] Rashi 6:36

[34] Rashi 6:37

[35] Rashi 6:37

[36] Rashi 6:1

[37] Rashi 6:30

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