King Solomon’s Temple by Ian Ellis-Jones PRECIS OF AN ADDRESS DELIVERED BEFORE THE SYDNEY UNITARIAN CHURCH ON SUNDAY, 2 APRIL 2006 King Solomon was the second child of King David by Bathsheba. (According to the noted Jewish historian Josephus, Solomon was the last born of David’s sons.) In 965 BCE Solomon succeeded David as King of the united Israelite kingdom of the Twelve Tribes. In 966 BCE Solomon ordered the start of the preparations for the construction of a temple. The construction of the temple that has since become known as “King Solomon’s Temple” was Solomon’s crowning achievement. The building of the temple at Jerusalem began with King David. He accumulated much of the material needed for the building of the temple, including much gold and silver. David also established good relations with Tyre, which became the source of much of the needed material. It was also from Tyre that many of the skilled artisans came, as Israel was lacking in skilled workers of the kind needed. The stone came mostly from the immediate vicinity. However, the timber came from Lebanon. It is said that Hiram, King of Tyre, assisted greatly as regards the cutting of the timber, its transportation, and the provision of skilled artisans. It is also said that King Hiram also provided Solomon with the services of one Hiram Abiff, reputed to have been a master craftsman, who supervised all the work. The story of King Solomon’s temple is an allegory, the temple being a symbol of the human life occupied in the search after divine truth or spiritual wisdom. Each one of us is building a spiritual building, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. It is a temple of ourselves. Each of us is the surveyor of the “land” upon which the temple is to be built. Each of us is the architect or designer of the temple, as well as the builder. Each of us is the high priest in our own temple. The bricks or stones of this temple are our own minds, and our own thoughts. We all know that our character is built by our thoughts. Yes, we furnish all of the material for the building of our temple. Now, the temple is built by Solomon, not David. Allegorically, Solomon represents the state of mind that is established in consciousness when the soul is united with wisdom and love. Allegorically, David represents love. The temple must, however, first be conceived in love, but must be built in a state of peace and wisdom (Solomon), and not by one who is in conflict (David). The very word, Solomon (the “sun man”), is a Kabbalistic composition symbolizing divine wisdom. The word is also an emblem of Sol, the “Solar Initiate”. Esotericists claim that Solomon’s life and works are an allegory on the trials and glory of Initiation into the Ancient Mysteries. Indeed, the architectural floor plan of King Solomon’s Temple (which, undoubtedly, did in fact exist, but which was later completely destroyed in 587 BCE by the Babylonians when they captured Jerusalem), in conjunction with its various furnishings, reveals a “temple man” composed of 3 different Biblical figures - the Levitical High Priest, Jacob (Israel), and a “metallic messiah” - a single composition consisting of one figure superimposed upon the other. What set King Solomon’s temple apart from all other temples in the ancient world was that there were no idols in it. Idols were unnecessary because of the Omnipresence of God. There is a message in that. There is only One Presence and One Power active in the universe, and that is God, as we understand God. That creative Power and Presence, the very livingness of life itself, is not localized in any sense. Years later, the first Christian martyr Stephen is reported to have said, “Solomon build God a house [but] the Most High does not dwell in temples made with hands” (Acts 7:47-48). We are told that Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines. Once again, there is the influence of the Kabbalah here. These figures are Kabbalistic constructs, the numbers 7 and 3 being very important Kabbalistic numbers. (For example, the number 7 is said to be the divine number, representing fullness, individual completeness, and the perfection of the human soul. The number 3, said to be the most “creative” of all numbers, is an outgrowth of the numbers 1 and 2, the male and the female respectively.) Allegorically, these many wives and concubines represent the personalities of our attributes, feelings, passions, and so forth. The temple faced east. Symbolically, that is where God is. There is the obvious influence of solar religion here. Our temple must also face east. The temple took 7 years to build. As already ,mentioned, the number 7 signifies fullness, individual completion, and perfection. (In the Ancient Wisdom there were 7 liberal arts and sciences: grammar, rhetoric, logic, arithmetic, geometry, music and astronomy.) The temple was built in the middle of Jerusalem. Jerusalem is the city of peace. Jerusalem also stands upon a hill. In the Bible, a hill stands for uplifted consciousness. The temple stood on the Rock of Zion, on top of Mt Moriah, where Abraham showed his preparedness to obey God and offered up his son Isaac as a sacrifice. We, too, must be prepared to sacrifice all that stands in the way of our spiritual development. (Sadly, Solomon himself became increasingly obsessed with luxury and grandeur and ultimately descended into crass materialism and increasing secularism. He even built shrines to others’ gods and set up idols in order to please his wives, although he does not appear to have stopped worshipping the one true God.) There is, of course, important symbolism in the “Rock”, which does not shift or change. In the Ancient Wisdom, rock is a symbol of truth. In the Psalms God is said to be the “rock of salvation”, and so forth. The temple is built with praise and with prayer. It is built in silence, not in boasting. It is built in quietness and in confidence. It is built in the “secret place”, in that state of consciousness which comes from contemplating spiritual things of ultimate importance (God, if you like). The temple is built out of stone, not bricks. (The Tower of Babel - confusion - was built out of bricks.) Stone is given to us, but it must be dug out of the quarry, squared and made up with a great deal of work (allegorically, spiritual thought, meditation, prayer). No tools of iron, no metal tools, were used in the construction of the temple. Metal would have “polluted” the temple. Also, iron is synonymous with idols and the warlike Philistines. The temple was 90 feet long, 30 feet wide, and 45 feet high. Once again, there is the influence of the Kabbalah here. We have a perfect cube, symbolizing a mind purified by piety. There were 2 pillars at the entrance to the temple, the one on the left being called “Boaz”, and the one on the right “Jachin” (2 words that occur in 9 Semitic languages derived from the Babylonian). “Boaz”, said to have been the great grandfather of Kind David, means “in strength”, “strength is in Him”, “Lord of strength”; it refers to the creative word, the Logos, that gives us the power to change the conditions through our recognition of the oneness of all life (the One Universal Principle). “Jachin”, the pillar on the right, and a reference to the assistant high priest who is said to have officiated at the dedication of the temple, means “God will establish (His House of Israel)” or “I will establish”; it is a reference to the mathematical unity of the cosmos, Universal Mind, God. When the two words are used conjointly, they denote stability. The 2 pillars symbolize God’s repeated promises of support to His people Israel. There may be 2 pillars (male and female), but there is one Deity. The tops of the pillars are adorned with 2 chapiters enriched with lilly work (purity, peace), network (unity and strength) and pomegranates (plenty, fertility). Allegorically, all this means that if we persist in our spiritual life, we will ultimately prosper, and we will have constructed a temple that is eternal.
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