Statue of Isaac Newton from Trinity College Chapel, Cambridge

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A Description of the Temple of Solomon.

THE Temple of Solomon[1] being destroyed by the Babylonians, it may not be amiss here to give a description of that edifice.

This [2] Temple looked eastward, and stood in a square area, called the Separate Place: and [3] before it stood the Altar, in the center of another square area, called the Inner Court, or Court of the Priests: and these two square areas, being parted only by a marble rail, made an area 200 cubits long from west to east, and 100 cubits broad: this area was compassed on the west with a wall, and [4] on the other three sides with a pavement fifty cubits broad, upon which stood the buildings for the Priests, with cloysters under them: and the pavement was faced on the inside with a marble rail before the cloysters: the whole made an area 250 cubits long from west to east, and 200 broad, and was compassed with an outward Court, called also the Great Court, or Court of <333> the People, [5] which was an hundred cubits broad on every side; for there were but two Courts built by Solomon: and the outward Court was about four cubits lower than the inward, and was compassed on the west with a wall, and on the other three sides [6] with a pavement fifty cubits broad, upon which stood the buildings for the People. All this was the [7] Sanctuary, and made a square area 500 cubits long, and 500 broad, and was [8] compassed with a walk, called the Mountain of the House: and this walk being 50 cubits broad, was compassed with a wall six cubits broad, and six high, and six hundred long on every side: and the cubit was about 211/2, or almost 22 inches of the English foot, being the sacred cubit of the Jews, which was an hand-breadth, or the sixth part of its length bigger than the common cubit.

The Altar stood in the center of the whole; and in the buildings of [9] both Courts over against the middle of the Altar, eastward, southward, and northward, were gates [10] 25 cubits broad between the buildings, and 40 long; with porches of ten cubits more, looking towards the Altar Court, which made the whole length of the gates fifty cubits cross the pavements. Every gate had two doors, one at either <334> [11] end, ten cubits wide, and twenty high, with posts and thresholds six cubits broad: within the gates was an area 28 cubits long between the thresholds, and 13 cubits wide: and on either side of this area were three posts, each six cubits square, and twenty high, with arches five cubits wide between them: all which posts and arches filled the 28 cubits in length between the thresholds; and their breadth being added to the thirteen cubits, made the whole breadth of the gates 25 cubits. These posts were hollow, and had rooms in them with narrow windows for the porters, and a step before them a cubit broad: and the walls of the porches being six cubits thick, were also hollow for several uses. [12] At the east gate of the Peoples Court, called the King's gate, [13] were six porters, at the south gate were four, and at the north gate were four: the people [14] went in and out at the south and north gates: the [15] east gate was opened only for the King, and in this gate he ate the Sacrifices. There were also four gates or doors in the western wall of the Mountain of the House: of these [16] the most northern, called Shallecheth, or the gate of the causey, led to the King's palace, the valley between being filled up with a causey: the next gate, called Parbar, led to the suburbs <335> Millo: the third and fourth gates, called Asuppim, led the one to Millo, the other to the city of Jerusalem, there being steps down into the valley and up again into the city. At the gate Shallecheth were four porters; at the other three gates were six porters, two at each gate: the house of the porters who had the charge of the north gate of the People's Court, had also the charge of the gates Shallecheth and Parbar: and the house of the porters who had the charge of the south gate of the People's Court, had also the charge of the other two gates called Asuppim.

They came through the four western gates into the Mountain of the House, and [17] went up from the Mountain of the House, to the gates of the People's Court by seven steps, and from the People's Court to the gates of the Priest's Court by eight steps: [18] and the arches in the sides of the gates of both courts led into cloysters [19] under a double building, supported by three rows of marble pillars, which butted directly upon the middles of the square posts, and ran along from thence upon the pavements towards the corners of the Courts: the axes of the pillars in the middle row being eleven cubits distant from the axes of the pillars in the other two rows on either hand; <336> and the building joining to the sides of the gates: the pillars were three cubits in diameter below, and their bases four cubits and an half square. The gates and buildings of both Courts were alike, and [20] faced their Courts: the cloysters of all the buildings, and the porches of all the gates looking towards the Altar. The row of pillars on the backsides of the cloysters adhered to marble walls, which bounded the cloysters and supported the buildings: [21] these buildings were three stories high above the cloysters, and [22] were supported in each of those stories by a row of cedar beams, or pillars of cedar, standing above the middle row of the marble pillars: the buildings on either side of every gate of the People's Court, being 1871/2 cubits long, were distinguished into five chambers on a floor, running in length from the gates to the corners or the Courts: there [23] being in all thirty chambers in a story, where the People ate the Sacrifices, or thirty exhedras, each of which contained three chambers, a lower, a middle, and an upper: every exhedra was 371/2 cubits long, being supported by four pillars in each row, [24] whose bases were 41/2 cubits square, and the distances between their bases 61/2 cubits, and the distances between the axes of the pillars eleven cubits: and where two <337> exhedras joyned, there the bases of their pillars joyned; the axes of those two pillars being only 41/2 cubits distant from one another: and perhaps for strengthning the building, the space between the axes of these two pillars in the front was filled up with a marble column 41/2 cubits square, the two pillars standing half out on either side of the square column. [25] At the ends of these buildings [26] in the four corners of the Peoples Court, were little Courts fifty cubits square on the outside of their walls, and forty on the inside thereof, for stair-cases to the buildings, and kitchins to bake and boil the Sacrifices for the People, the kitchin being thirty cubits broad, and the stair-case ten. The buildings on either side of the gates of the Priests Court were also 371/2 cubits long, and contained each of them one great chamber in a story, subdivided into smaller rooms, for the Great Officers of the Temple, and Princes of the Priests: and in the south-east and north-east corners of this court, at the ends of the buildings, were kitchins and stair-cases for the Great Officers; and perhaps rooms for laying up wood for the Altar.

In the eastern gate of the Peoples Court, sat a Court of Judicature, composed of 23 Elders. The eastern gate of the Priests Court, with the buildings on either side, was for the High-Priest, <338> {and} his deputy the Sagan, and for the Sanhedrim or Supreme Court of Judicature, composed of seventy Elders. [27] The building or exhedra on the eastern side of the southern gate, was for the Priests who had the oversight of the charge of the Sanctuary with its treasuries: and these were, first, two Catholikim, who were High-Treasurers and Secretaries to the High-Priest, and examined, stated, and prepared all acts and accounts to be signed and sealed by him; then seven Amarcholim, who kept the keys of the seven locks of every gate of the Sanctuary, and those also of the treasuries, and had the oversight, direction, and appointment of all things in the Sanctuary; then three or more Gisbarim, or Under-Treasurers, or Receivers, who kept the Holy Vessels, and the Publick Money, and received or disposed of such sums as were brought in for the service of the Temple, and accounted for the same. All these, with the High-Priest, composed the Supreme Council for managing the affairs of the Temple.

The Sacrifices [28] were killed on the northern side of the Altar, and flea'd, cut in pieces and salted in the northern gate of the Temple; and therefore the building or exhedra on the eastern side of this gate, was for the Priests who had the oversight of the charge of the Altar, and Daily <339> Service: and these Officers were, He that received money of the People for purchasing things for the Sacrifices, and gave out tickets for the same; He that upon sight of the tickets delivered the wine, flower and oyl purchased; He that was over the lots, whereby every Priest attending on the Altar had his duty assigned; He that upon sight of the tickets delivered out the doves and pigeons purchased; He that administred physic to the Priests attending; He that was over the waters; He that was over the times, and did the duty of a cryer, calling the Priests or Levites to attend in their ministeries; He that opened the gates in the morning to begin the service, and shut them in the evening when the service was done, and for that end received the keys of the Amarcholim, and returned them when he had done his duty; He that visited the night-watches; He that by a Cymbal called the Levites to their stations for singing; He that appointed the Hymns and set the Tune; and He that took care of the Shew-Bread: there were also Officers who took care of the Perfume, the Veil, and the Wardrobe of the Priests.

The exhedra on the western side of the south gate, and that on the western side of the north gate, were for the Princes of the four and twenty <340> {courses} of the Priests, one exhedra for twelve of the Princes, [29] and the other exhedra for the other twelve: and upon the pavement on either side of the Separate Place [30] were other buildings without cloysters, for the four and twenty courses of the Priests to eat the Sacrifices, and lay up their garments and the most holy things: each pavement being 100 cubits long, and 50 broad, had buildings on either side of it twenty cubits broad, with a walk or alley ten cubits broad between them: the building which bordered upon the Separate Place was an hundred cubits long, and that next the Peoples Court but fifty, the other fifty cubits westward [31] being for a stair-case and kitchin: these buildings [32] were three stories high, and the middle story was narrower in the front than the lower story, and the upper story still narrower, to make room for galleries; for they had galleries before them, and under the galleries were closets for laying up the holy things, and the garments of the Priests, and these galleries were towards the walk or alley, which ran between the buildings.

They went up from the Priests Court to the Porch of the Temple by ten steps: and the [33] House of the Temple was twenty cubits broad, and sixty long within; or thirty broad, and seventy long, including the walls; or seventy cu <341> bits broad, and 90 long, including a building of treasure-chambers which was twenty cubits broad on three sides of the House; and if the Porch be also included, the Temple was [34] an hundred cubits long. The treasure-chambers were built of cedar, between the wall of the Temple, and another wall without: they were [35] built in two rows three stories high, and opened door against door into a walk or gallery which ran along between them, and was five cubits broad in every story; so that the breadth of the chambers on either side of the gallery, including the breadth of the wall to which they adjoined, was ten cubits; and the whole breadth of the gallery and chambers, and both walls, was five and twenty cubits: the chambers [36] were five cubits broad in the lower story, six broad in the middle story, and seven broad in the upper story; for the wall of the Temple was built with retractions of a cubit, to rest the timber upon. Ezekiel represents the chambers a cubit narrower, and the walls a cubit thicker than they were in Solomon's Temple: there were [37] thirty chambers in a story, in all ninety chambers, and they were five cubits high in every story. The [38] Porch of the Temple was 120 cubits high, and its length from south to north equalled the breadth of the <342> House: the House was three stories high, which made the height of the Holy Place three times thirty cubits, and that of the Most Holy three times twenty: the upper rooms were treasure-chambers; they [39] went up to the middle chamber by winding stairs in the southern shoulder of the House, and from the middle into the upper.

Some time after this Temple was built, the Jews [40] added a New Court, on the eastern side of the Priests Court, before the King's gate, and therein built [41] a covert for the Sabbath: this Court was not measured by Ezekiel, but the dimensions thereof may be gathered from those of the Womens Court, in the second Temple, built after the example thereof: for when Nebuchadnezzar had destroyed the first Temple, Zerubbabel, by the commissions of Cyrus and Darius, built another upon the same area, excepting the Outward Court, which was left open to the Gentiles: and this Temple [42] was sixty cubits long, and sixty broad, being only two stories in height, and having only one row of treasure-chambers about it: and on either side of the Priests Court were double buildings for the Priests, built upon three rows of marble pillars in the lower story, with a row of cedar beams or pillars in the stories above: and the <343> cloyster in the lower story looked towards the Priests Court: and the Separate Place, and Priests Court, with their buildings on the north and south sides, and the Womens Court, at the east end, took up an area three hundred cubits long, and two hundred broad, the Altar standing in the center of the whole. The Womens Court was so named, because the women came into it as well as the men: there were galleries for the women, and the men worshipped upon the ground below: and in this state the second Temple continued all the Reign of the Persians; but afterwards suffered some alterations, especially in the days of Herod.

This description of the Temple being taken principally from Ezekiel's Vision thereof; and the ancient Hebrew copy followed by the Seventy, differing in some readings from the copy followed by the editors of the present Hebrew, I will here subjoin that part of the Vision which relates to the Outward Court, as I have deduced it from the present Hebrew, and the version of the Seventy compared together.

Ezekiel chap. xl. ver. 5, &c.

And behold a wall on the outside of the House round about, [43] at the distance of fifty cubits from <344> it, aabb: and in the man's hand a measuring reed six cubits long by the cubit, and an hand-breadth: so he measured the breadth of the building, or wall, one reed, and the height one reed. [44] Then came he unto the gate of the House, which looketh towards the east, and went up the seven steps thereof, AB, and measured the threshold of the gate, CD, which was one reed broad, and the Porters little chamber, EFG, one reed long, and one reed broad; and the arched passage between the little chambers, FH, five cubits: and the second little chamber, HIK, a reed broad and a reed long; and the arched passage, IL, five cubits: and the third little chamber LMN, a reed long and a reed broad: and the threshold of the gate next the porch of the gate within, OP, one reed: and he measured the porch of the gate, QR, eight cubits; and the posts thereof ST, st, two cubits; and the porch of the gate, QR, was inward, or toward the inward court; and the little chambers, EF, HI, LM, ef, hi, lm, were outward, or to the east; three on this side, and three on that side of the gate. There was one measure of the three, and one measure of the posts on this side, and on that side; and he measured the breadth of the door of the gate, Cc, or Dd, ten cubits; and the breadth of the gate within between the little chambers, Ee or Ff, thirteen cubits; and the limit, or margin, or step before the <345> little chambers, EM, one cubit on this side, and the step, em, one cubit on the other side; and the little chambers, EFG, HIK, LMN, efg, hik, lmn, were six cubits broad on this side, and six cubits broad on that side: and he measured the whole breadth of the gate, from the further wall of one little chamber to the further wall of another little chamber: the breadth, Gg, or Kk, or Nn, was twenty and five cubits through; door, FH, against door, fh: and he measured the posts, EF, HI, and LM, ef, hi, and lm, twenty cubits high; and at the posts there were gates, or arched passages, FH, IL, fh, il, round about; and from the eastern face of the gate at the entrance, Cc, to the western face of the porch of the gate within, Tt, were fifty cubits: and there were narrow windows to the little chambers, and to the porch within the gate, round about, and likewise to the posts; even windows were round about within: and upon each post were palm trees.

Then he brought me into the Outward Court, and lo there were chambers, and a pavement with pillars upon it in the court round about, thirty chambers in length upon the pavement, [45] supported by the pillars, ten chambers on every side, except the western: and the pavement butted upon the shoulders or sides of the gates below, every gate having five chambers or exhedræ on either <346> side. And he measured the breadth of the Outward Court, from the fore-front of the lower-gate, to the fore-front of the inward court, an hundred cubits eastward.

Then he brought me northward, and there was a gate that looked towards the north; he measured the length thereof, and the breadth thereof, and the little chambers thereof, three on this side, and three on that side, and the posts thereof, and the porch thereof, and it was according to the measures of the first gate; its length was fifty cubits, and its breadth was five and twenty: and the windows thereof, and the porch and the palm-trees thereof were according to the measures of the gate which looked to the east, and they went up to it by seven steps: and its porch was before them, that is inward. And there was a gate of the inward court over against this gate of the north, as in the gates to the eastward: and he measured from gate to gate an hundred cubits.


A Description of the Temple of Solomon

Fig. 1.

A.B.C.D. The Separate Place in which stood the Temple.

A.B.E.F. The Court of the Priests.

G. The Altar.

D.H.L.K.I.C.E.F.D. A Pavement compassing three sides of the foremention'd Courts, and upon which stood the Buildings for the Priests, with Cloysters under them.

M.N.O.P. The Court of the People.

M.Q.T.S.R.N. A Pavement compassing three sides of the Peoples Court, upon which stood the Buildings for the People, with Cloysters under them.

U.X.Y.Z. The Mountain of the House.

aabb. A Wall enclosing the whole.

c. The Gate Shallecheth.

d. The Gate Parbar.

e.f. The two Gates Assupim.

g. The East Gate of the Peoples Court, call'd the Kings Gate.

hh. The North and South Gates of the same Court.

i.i.i.i. The Chambers over the Cloysters of the Peoples Court where the People ate the Sacrifices, 30 Chambers in each Story.


k.k.k.k. Four little Courts serving for Stair-Cases and Kitchins for the People.

l. The Eastern Gate of the Priests Court, over which sate the Sanhedrin.

m. The Southern Gate of the Priests Court.

n. The Northern Gate of the same Court, where the Sacrifices were flea'd &c.

o.p.q.r.s.t. The Buildings over the Cloysters for the Priests, viz six large Chambers (subdivided) in each Story, whereof o and p, were for the High Priest and Sagan, q. for the Overseers of the Sanctuary and Treasury, r. for the Overseers of the Altar and Sacrifice: and s and t for the Princes of the twenty four Courses of Priests.

u.u. Two Courts in which were Stair-Cases and Kitchins for the Priests.

x. The House or Temple which (together with the Treasure Chambers y, and Buildings z.z. on each side of the Separate Place) is more particularly describ'd on the second Plate.


A Description of the Inner Court & Buildings for the Priests in Solomons Temple.

Fig. 2.

A.B.C.D. The Separate Place.

A.B.E.F. The Inner Court, or Court of the Priests, parted from the Separate Place, and Pavement on the other three sides, by a marble rail.

G. The Altar.

H.H.H. The East, South, & North Gates of the Priests Court.

I.I.I. &c. The Cloysters supporting the Buildings for the Priests.

K.K. Two Courts in which were Stair Cases and Kitchins for the Priests.

L. Ten Steps to the Porch of the Temple.

M. The Porch of the Temple.


N. The Holy Place.

O. The most Holy Place.

P.P.P.P. Thirty Treasure-Chambers, in two rows, opening into a gallery, door against door, and compassing three sides of the Holy & most Holy Places.

Q. The Stairs leading to the Middle Chamber.

R.R.R.R. &c. The buildings for the four and twenty Courses of Priests, upon the Pavement on either side of the Separate Place, three Stories high, without Cloysters, but the upper Stories narrower than the lower, to make room for Galleries before them. There were 24 Chambers in each Story and they opened into a walk or alley, S.S. between the Buildings.

TT. Two Courts in which were Kitchins for the Priests of the twenty four Courses.

A Particular Description of one of the Gates of the Peoples Court, with part of the Cloyster adjoyning.

Fig. 3

u.w. The inner margin of the Pavement compassing three sides of the Peoples Court. x.x.x. &c. The Pillars of the Cloyster supporting the Buildings for the People. y.y.y.y. Double Pillars where two Exhedræ joyned, and whose interstices in the front z.z. were filled up with a square Column of Marble.

Note The preceding letters of this Plate refer to the description in pag. 344. 345.

[1] See Plate I. & II.

[2] Ezek. xli. 13, 14.

[3] Ezek. xl. 47

[4] Ezek. xl. 29, 33, 36.

[5] Ezek. xl. 19, 23, 27. 2 King xxi. 5. 2 Chron. iv. 9.

[6] Ezek. xl. 15, 17, 21. 1 Chron. xxviii. 12.

[7] Ezek. xl 5. xlii. 20, & xlv. 2.

[8] Ezek. xl 5. xlii. 20, & xlv. 2.

[9] 2 King. xxi. 5.

[10] Ezek. xl.

[11] Plate III.

[12] Plate I.

[13] 1 Chron. xxvi. 17.

[14] Ezek. xlvi. 8, 9.

[15] Ezek. xliv. 2, 3.

[16] 1 Chron. xxvi. 15, 16, 17, 18.

[17] Ezek. xl. 22, 26, 31, 34, 37.

[18] Plate II & III.

[19] 1 King. vi. 36. & vii. 12. Ezek. xl. 17, 18.

[20] Ezek. xl. 19, 31, 34, 37.

[21] Plate I.

[22] 1 King. vi. 36, & vii. 12.

[23] Ezek. xl. 17.

[24] Plate III.

[25] Plate I & II.

[26] Ezek. xlvi. 21, 22.

[27] Ezek. xl. 45.

[28] Ezek. xl. 39, 41, 42, 46.

[29] Plate II.

[30] Ezek. xlii. 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 13, 14.

[31] Ezek. xlvi. 19, 20.

[32] Ezek. xlii. 5, 6.

[33] 1 King. vi. 2. Ezek. xli. 2, 4, 12, 13, 14.

[34] 1 King. vi. 3. Ezek. xli. 13.

[35] Ezek. xli. 6, 11.

[36] 1 King. vi. 6.

[37] Ezek. xli. 6.

[38] 2 Chron. iii. 4.

[39] 1 King. vi. 8.

[40] 2 Chron. xx. 5.

[41] 2 King. xvi. 18.

[42] Ezra vi. 3, 4.

[43] Plate I.

[44] Plate III.

[45] Plate I.

Continue reading Chap. VI. Of the Empire of the Persians