Saturday, August 30, 2008

Location of Solomon’s Temple 6: The Royal Palace

The location for Solomon’s Temple must also include space for the royal complex, described in 1 Kgs 7:1-12 (no parallels in 2 Chr). The “House of the Forest of Lebanon”—which was designed for administrative, judicial and court functions (1 Kgs 7:7)—was alone nearly twice the size of the Temple: 100x50c, and 30c high (1 Kgs 7:2), while the Temple was only 60x20c (1 Kgs 6:2, 2 Chr 3:3). In addition there was a “porch of the pillars,” which was 50x30c (1 Kgs 7:6), a “Portico of the Throne,” Solomon’s personal palace, and the palace of his wife, the daughter of Pharaoh, all of unknown dimensions (1 Kgs 7:7-8). Finally, there were courtyards surrounding these palaces (1 Kgs 7:8-9, 12).

Neither the precise location of the royal complex, nor its relationship to the Temple is provided. However, we do know that there was a “great court” or plaza around the royal complex, just as there was around the Temple complex. Furthermore, “the great court [of the royal complex] had three courses of hewn stone around [it], and one row of cedar beams, like the inner court of the house of YHWH and the porch of the house” (1 Kgs 7:12, cf. 1 Kgs 6:36). Although not certain, this implies to me that the courts were adjacent, and had one large wall encompassing the combined great courts of both the royal and Temple complexes. However this may be, the royal complex had to be somewhere. The location for the Temple must include space for both the Temple complex and the royal complex.

By looking at the previous maps we can see that trying to build the royal complex (twice the size of the Temple complex) and Temple complex both within the old Jebusite walls of Jerusalem would have taken more than half the pre-Davidic Jeubsite city, all of which was urbanized. This would require the displacement of half the population. Now this is not impossible, but seems much more likely the new building projects would have simply expanded the city north into the empty space, rather than demolish half the old town, and displace its population. As we shall see in the next part, this is exactly what the biblical narratives describe in the story of David and the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite (2 Sam 24:16-25; 1 Chr 21:15-27).

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