Israel had 3 temples during its Old & Testament time period. The original temple was built by Solomon. After the exile, a second temple was built under Zerubbabel. Finally, Herod the Great expanded and enlarged the temple during his reign.
- The temple was planned by David as a permanent house of the Lord in Jerusalem (1 Chronicles 28:2).
- David received the plans from God and gathered much of the material needed for construction, but was not allowed to build the temple because of his background as a man of war (1 Chronicles 22:8; 28:3).
- God gave the task of building the temple to David’s son, Solomon (1 Samuel 7:9-13; 1 Kings 5:3-4; 1 Chronicles 22:7-17).
- The temple was built on Mt. Moriah.
- It was begun in 960 BC and completed in seven and one-half years (1 Kings 6:1). Solomon’s temple was completed in about 953 BC
- The general plan was like that of the tabernacle except its dimensions were double those of the tabernacle.
- The building was 90’ long, 30’ wide, and 45’ high.
- The walls were made of stone and lined with cedar.
- The roof was also of cedar and the floors were of cypress.
- The interior was lined with gold and covered with carvings.
- Like the tabernacle, the interior was divided into two rooms.
- The Holy of Holies was a cube with each dimension being 20 cubits. It housed the Ark of the Covenant which was placed under two large cherubims. It contained the altar of incense, golden candlestick and the Table of Shewbread.
- The temple area also contained two courts, the inner court of the priests, and the great or outer court which was for Israel. They were separated from each other by a low wall.
- The court of the priests contained the brazen altar for sacrifice, the brazen sea for the priests to wash themselves, and the brazen layers for the washing of the utensils (1 Kings 6-7).
- Solomon’s temple was ransacked and burned by Nebuchadnezzar when he besieged Jerusalem in 588 BC (2 Kings 25:8-17).
- After the Jews returned from captivity, Cyrus authorized the erection of a temple in Jerusalem (Ezra 6:3).
- Construction was begun in 537 BC which was the second year after their return.
- The plan in general followed that of Solomon’s temple but on a far less elaborate scale (Ezra 3:12).
- Many of the vessels from Solomon’s temple were destroyed.
- The Holy of Holies was left empty because the Ark of the Covenant had disappeared.
- The Roman general Pompey conquered Jerusalem in 63 BC, and made it subject to Rome. Tacitus indicates that Pompey entered the Holy of Holies and was surprised to find it empty.
- Later Zerubbabel’s temple was plundered and used for idolatrous purposes.
- Herod replaced the temple that existed. Construction began in 20 BC and was not finished until 64 AD, two years before the Jewish revolt and six years before its destruction in A.D. 70.
- Herod’s temple was the temple of Jesus’ time upon the earth.
- It was on a grander scale than Zerubbabel’s.
- It included an outer court which could be frequented by Gentiles and unclean persons, the women’s court, and the inner court, which contained the chambers for storing the utensils and entered onto the priest’s court.
- The temple proper stood higher than the courts and was approached by a flight of twelve steps. It contained the Holy of Holies and the Holy Place. A veil separated the two. It was this veil that was rent on the occasion of Jesus’ death (Matthew 27:51; Mark 15:38; Luke 23:45).
- Herod extended the temple platform both to the north and south, making the area some 2,500 feet from north to south and 1,000 feet from east to west.
- The date of the statement made to Christ in John 2:20 would suggest that the temple had been under construction for forty-six years, thus placing the date of that statement at 27 AD.