Ancient Israel: Its Life and Institutions

By Roland De Vaux ; John McHugh | Go to book overview

CHAPTER THREE
THE TEMPLE AT JERUSALEM

DAVID'S purpose in transferring the Ark to his new capital was to make Jerusalem the religious centre of Israel, but the Ark had to be kept in a tent, for there was no building to house it. According to 2 S 7: 1-7, David thought of building a 'house' for Yahweh, but was dissuaded by a divine command which Nathan brought him. The text of this prophecy, however, contains an addition ( 2 S 7: 13), according to which Yahweh was reserving the honour of building such a sanctuary for the son and successor of David. The Deuteronomic redaction of the book of Kings tells us that Solomon recalled this promise and presented himself as the executor of a plan which his father had conceived but had failed to carry out because he was too preoccupied by his wars ( 1 K 5: 17-19; 8: 15-21). The Chronicler, however, assigns a far more important rôle to David: David did not build the Temple because he was a man of war and had shed blood, whereas Solomon was predestined for this task by his name, which means the 'peaceful' king ( 1 Ch 22: 8-10; 28: 3). David, however, had prepared everything; he was responsible for the plans of the Temple and the inventory of its furnishings; he collected the materials for the building and the gold ingots which were to be used for the sacred objects; he assembled the teams of workmen, and fixed the classes and functions of the clergy ( 1 Ch 22-28). The theological ideas expressed in these different traditions will be discussed at the end of the chapter: for the moment, we are concerned only with what they have in common, namely, that David first thought of having a Temple, and that Solomon actually built it.


1. Solomon's Temple

The building of the Temple occupied Solomon from the fourth to the eleventh year of his reign ( 1 K 6: 37-38; cf. 6: 1). He made a contract with Hiram, king of Tyre, for the timber to be brought from the Lebanon ( 1 K 5: 15-26), while the stone was quarried near Jerusalem ( 1 K 5: 29, 31). The Israelites were conscripted to provide the bulk of the labour force ( 1 K 5: 20, 23, 27-30), but the skilled workmen (i.e. the lumbermen in the Lebanon, the sailors who transported the wood, the carpenters and the stonemasons in Jerusalem) were Phoenicians ( 1 K 5: 20, 32). Hiram, who cast the two pillars

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