Troublesome Topic: The Construction of the Temple

Before his death David had drawn up the plans for the temple and had accumulated many of materials needed for its construction. Even so, it was a large and complicated project requiring great organization skills and careful planning. Of course Solomon proved up to the task.

The preparations for the temple, described in I Kings chapter 5:13-18, required 30,000 Israelites workers, 70,000 stone carriers, 80,000 stonecutters, and 3,300 supervisors. We are not told how many were conscripted and paid meager wages, how many were hired for an acceptable wage, and how many were slaves captured in battle. We can assume there were some from each of those categories. Some of these men were sent to Solomon by Hiram, King of Tyre because he already had a good number of workmen skilled in that type of work.

The construction of the temple began in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign (I Kings 6:1-2). It took four years to establish his kingdom properly, bring order and organize everything the way he wanted it. During that time he also acquired the rest of the materials he needed and made arrangements for all the labor that would be required to build the temple.

I Kings 6:1 tells us that this was the 480th year since the children of Israel had left Egypt. The tabernacle was built shortly after that, therefore, the tabernacle was approximately 480 years old. That is a long time for a tent! However, this tent was not like the things we call tents. Ours are lightweight and easily torn; that tent was heavy and made to last. The outer covering of the tent, the part that made the roof and hung down to make the sides of it, was 4 layers thick! According to Exodus chapter 26, on the inside there was a curtain made of linen with yarn woven into it to make a pattern of cherubim, (Ex 26:1), then over that was a curtain made of goat’s hair (Ex 26:7), then a layer of ram skins dyed red (Ex 26:14), and the outside layer was made from the hides of sea cows (think dugongs or manatees) (Ex 26:14). So this tent was designed to hold up to the weather. While it was a movable structure, it was not light. However, I would think that over the course of 480 years it would have needed a few repairs, unless God intervened and caused it to last longer than normal, as He had done with the shoes and the clothes of those who wandered in the desert for 40 years (Dt 8:4 & Dt 29:5). The tabernacle was never intended to look attractive, but after 480 years it would have looked old, unless God had intervened. I can see God possibly intervening to prevent any leaks or other problems, but I don’t think He cared about it being attractive, so it probably did look old because it was old. Therefore, from a human point of view, I can understand why the people of Israel were not excited about going there to worship. In order to go there to worship, it required a focus on spiritual things,.

Solomon wanted to deviate from the tabernacle pattern in a few ways, and God seems to have been willing to let him do so. However, he kept much of the symbolism in the tabernacle, and even added some more.

Here are some of the changes he made:

-More Olive wood and less acacia wood,

-The extensive use of the number 10 (which symbolizes perfect order, structure and rightness and legality),

-The cherubim of the mercy seat were facing out instead of facing each other (II Chron 3:10-13, specially vs 13) ,

-Pillars on the porch of the temple. There is something interesting about the two pillars:

1 Kings 7:21


He raised up the pillars on the porch of the sanctuary; he raised the pillar on the right side and called its name JAKIN,

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and he raised the pillar on the left side and called its name BOAZ.


He set up the two pillars you have come to know on the porch of the temple sanctuary (the holy place); he set up the pillar on the right and gave it [an inscription with] the name HE WILL ESTABLISH, and he set up the pillar on the left and gave it [an inscription with] the name IN STRENGTH.

The NET Study Bible lets us in on the fact that the names of these two pillars make a sentence. The Hebrews wrote and read from right to left, so the sentence stated, “He will establish [it] in strength” or “He will establish [this place] in strength.” I prefer the latter.

I kings 6:7 says, “When the temple was being built, it was built with stones finished

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at the quarry, so no hammer, or pickaxe or any kind of iron tool was heard at the temple while it was being built.” This was done in reverence to this place. In Ex 20:25 and Dt 27:5 they were instructed to not use any stones that were cut with tools in the building of the altar, only uncut field stones. In the case of Solomon’s temple, the altar would obviously be built the right way, and it would not be forced to “listen” to the reverberating echoes of a hammer on stone. That is a high level or respect. I have heard that some other ancient cultures of the world also utilized that same practice – that the stones for a temple were dressed off site and brought to the building site ready to be installed. If any adjustments needed to be made to these stones, they had to be hauled away, altered, and brought back to the building site.

According to I Kings 6:1-2 The temple Solomon built measured 90 feet long, 30 feet wide, and 45 feet high. The Holy of Holies was shaped like a cube, it was 30 feet long, 30 feet wide and 30 feet high (I Kings 2:22).

The inside of the temple was entirely gold-plated (I Kings 6:22). Even the floor of Solomon’s temple was covered in a layer of gold! (I Kings 6:30). II Chron 3:7 tells us that Solomon used 600 talents of gold for overlaying the inside of the temple (a talent equaled between 75 to 110 pounds).

It took 7 years to complete the construction of the temple (I Kings 6:38). People were amazed at how quickly the temple was built. To build something of that size and quality in 7 years was pretty amazing. When Jesus was a grown man the renovations of the temple done by Herod had been in progress for 40 years and were still not completed, so the fact that Solomon built the entire thing in 7 years was quite a feat. The level of activity during that construction project scrambled everyone’s brain except Solomon’s.

I Kings 7:1 tells us that it took 13 years for Solomon to complete the building of his palace. I Kings 9:10 and II Chron 8:1 talk about something that Solomon did “at the end of twenty years, in which Solomon had built the house of YHVH and his own house.” At first glance that seems to fit perfectly with 7 years plus 13 years. However, we also know that he did not start building the temple until his fourth year as king. So, did that 20 years include the four years of preparation or not? We don’t know. In my mind this shows that his priority was on the temple. During the first part of his reign he was not self-centered, but God-centered.

The next lesson is: The Dedication of the Temple



Naming pillars has not caught on as a common custom, but when you read the next footnote you will see the power and beauty of it. I cannot be sure that Solomon had each name inscribed on the pillar for all to see, but I imagine that he did. Why give something a special name and expect oral tradition to pass it along when you could have inscribed in stone?


The word used here is a form of the Hebrew word for “peace.” It fits here because this word also means “complete, finished, and perfect.” Their word for “peace” was much fuller and deeper than our word for peace.