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Layout Of The Temple In Old Testament

The layout of ancient temples was usually quite simple. Stone or wood blocks inscribed with the names of gods and heroes would be assembled according to the size, shape, and location of either the spiritual or physical realms and deities who inhabited them. Because the temple was understood as a microcosm or an analog model of the greater cosmos, there was usually no clear separation between them in an Egyptian temple (see Figure 1).

The Temple building faced eastward. It was oblong and consisted of three rooms of equal width: the porch, or vestibule (ʾulam); the main room of religious service, or Holy Place (hekhal); and the Holy of Holies (devir), the sacred room in which the Ark rested

A temple site is an area in which a god or other deity is worshipped. Temples have been built from earliest prehistory to the present, and although their forms vary widely according to different styles of architecture, religious traditions, and regions in which they may be found, the function of temples is generally one and the same: that of containing and worshipping god’s image.

Because anyone could enter the outermost section of the temple in Jerusalem, it was known as the court of the Gentiles. It was the most exterior and, by far, the largest of all the courts. This location, along with Solomon’s Porch (which was a covered area that existed on either side of the court’s eastern entrance), was frequented by Jerusalem’s sick and the poor seeking help (Acts 3:11, 5:12, 15).

The “soreg” at Jerusalem’s temple was a fence that separated the court of the Gentiles from the rest of the temple mount complex. Gentiles (non-Israelites) and ritually unclean Israelites were forbidden, on pain of death, from passing through its gates to the interior areas. The Jews in Jerusalem were so zealous in keeping the “purity” of the majority of the temple area that they placed stones along the soreg fence, written in Greek, which threatened death to any Gentile who would dare enter. The Apostle Paul, when writing to converted Gentiles in Ephesus, referred to this fence when he stated the following:.

Therefore, remember that you were once Gentiles in the flesh . . . And that you were without Christ at that time, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel . . .

But now in Christ Jesus, you who were once far off are made near by the blood of Christ. For He is our peace, Who has made both one, and has broken down the MIDDLE WALL OF PARTITION (located in Jerusalem’s temple, Ephesians 2:11 – 14, HBFV).

Paul, at the end of his third missionary journey in 58 A.D., visited Jerusalem’s temple with four Jewish converts to Christianity. Zealous Jews, who thought he brought Greeks (Gentiles) through the soreg, started a riot that almost got the apostle killed (see Acts 21).

Layout Of The Temple⁣ In Old Testament

The temple itself consisted of two main rooms, as had the tabernacle—the main hall and the inner sanctuary (1 Kings 6:16–20). Surrounding the temple on three sides was a series of small “chambers” on three levels (1 Kings 6:5–6). Based on biblical descriptions of the Temple, the model is comprised of the following architectural layout: Porch, Holy Place, Holy of Holies, side chambers and galleries.

The Temple edifice had three distinct chambers:

  • Temple vestibule or porch (ulam)
  • Temple sanctuary (hekhal or heikal), the main part of the building.
  • Holy of Holies (Kodesh HaKodashim or debir), the innermost chamber.

3 Main Parts of the Temple in Jerusalem

The Temple in Jerusalem consisted of three main parts:

  1. The Outer Court: This was the largest⁢ area ‌and was accessible ‍to all Israelites. It ⁣included the ‍courtyard, the altar ⁣for burnt offerings, and various chambers.
  2. The Holy Place: ​This was the inner chamber of​ the Temple, where only⁤ the⁣ priests were allowed⁤ to ‍enter.‍ It housed the ​golden lampstand, the table of showbread,‌ and the altar of incense.
  3. The ⁣Holy​ of Holies:‍ This ⁤innermost ‍chamber was the most sacred ‌and holiest place in the ⁣entire Temple. It contained​ the ‌Ark⁣ of the Covenant and was accessible only to the ⁣High Priest,⁣ and that too,‍ only once a year on ⁣the Day of⁤ Atonement.

Diagram ⁢of Temple in⁢ Jerusalem

The diagram below illustrates the layout‍ of the⁢ Temple in Jerusalem:

Solomon’s Temple Layout

Solomon’s Temple,⁤ also​ known as the First Temple, was the most elaborate and grandiose version of the Temple in Jerusalem. It ⁣was built during the reign ​of King Solomon‍ and was completed ‌in 957 BCE. Its layout followed the⁤ divine instructions​ given to David and Solomon.

The⁤ overall design of Solomon’s Temple consisted of the following:

  • An outer courtyard with⁣ an entrance gate and various chambers
  • An inner sanctuary known​ as ⁣the Holy ⁣Place
  • An even more sacred innermost chamber known as ​the Holy of ⁢Holies

The beauty and splendor of Solomon’s Temple were ⁣unmatched, with its majestic construction, elaborate decorations,​ and magnificent furnishings. It ‍stood as ​a testament to the glory of ⁢God and His covenant with the people of Israel.

Temple Courts ⁣in Jesus’ Time

During the time of ​Jesus, the layout of the Temple in ‍Jerusalem remained similar to that of Solomon’s Temple. ‍The Court⁣ of the Gentiles, added by King ​Herod, had expanded, ‌becoming a bustling marketplace and ‍a hub​ of​ activity.

Jesus often taught and ⁢performed miracles in the Temple‍ courts, making use of the grandeur‍ and significance of this sacred place to impart​ His teachings ⁤and ⁢reveal His divine nature.⁤ The ⁣Temple served as a symbolic backdrop ⁣for Jesus’ ministry and the fulfillment​ of ⁤the Old⁤ Testament prophecies.

Mark 11:15-17 recounts an incident where Jesus cleansed⁤ the Temple, driving⁤ out the merchants​ and money changers:

“Is it not written, ⁤‘My house will be called a⁢ house of prayer‍ for all nations’? But⁣ you have made it ‘a ⁢den‍ of robbers.’”

This event highlights the importance of the Temple‍ as ⁣a place of worship and condemns the misuse of its ​sacred spaces​ for personal​ gain.

In conclusion, the layout of the Temple‌ in⁢ the Old Testament was‌ a carefully designed and ‍sacred space,⁢ divided into‍ three main parts – the Outer Court, ⁤the Holy Place, ‍and‍ the Holy of Holies. It symbolized⁣ the dwelling place ⁤of God and served as​ the center of Israelite worship. The Temple underwent⁤ various changes‍ and ⁤additions ⁣throughout history, including the ⁢addition of the⁣ Court of ⁣the‌ Gentiles and the magnificent ​construction of⁢ Solomon’s Temple. Its significance extended to the time of Jesus, where it played a central role in ⁢His ministry and teachings. The Temple remains an essential⁣ part of the ⁢biblical narrative, reminding us of God’s presence among His people and the importance of ⁤reverence and worship.

The outer court

The main entrance to the court of women (also known as the outer court or women’s hall) was through the “beautiful gate” mentioned in the Bible (Acts 3:2, 10). It was considered beautiful because it was made with Corinthian brass that was richly ornamented. The doors of the gate were so massive that it took the strength of twenty men to open and close them!

The outer court was considered the place where Israelite women could worship God in Jerusalem. Females could not go beyond this point into the court of Israel unless they were bringing a sacrifice. At the time of Jesus, a market was allowed to reside in it. It was the place where sacrificial animals were bought, foreign currency was exchanged for sacred money, and sacrificial doves could be purchased by the poor.

The court was also the place where Christ, at the beginning and near the end of his ministry, drove out the “money changers” and others from the temple (John 2:13–16, Matthew 21:12).

The women’s large court contained several chambers or places where special activities took place. The chamber of Nazarites was the location where those at the end of their Nazarite vows cooked their peace offerings and burned their cut hair (during the vow period, no hair could be cut from a person’s head). The purpose of the wood chamber was to select wood for the altar and hearth.

Finterior-diagram-of-temple-in-A chamber for lepers existed where those healed of the disease and purified remained prior to being admitted to the inner court. There was also an oil and wine chamber to store these staples for the temple’s use.

Scattered around the court area were at least thirteen trumpet-shaped boxes for receiving monetary offerings from the people (see Mark 12:41, Luke 21:1). On the western side of the women’s court was a magnificent entrance known as the Nicanor Gate. This gate led to the Jerusalem temple area, known as the inner court.

The inner court

Within the inner court of Jerusalem’s house of prayer is the hall of Israel. This is the place where Israelites waited in reverent silence as their sacrifices to God were being burned. Dividing the hall of Israel with that of the priests is a set of three steps called the dukan. The dukan was the place where the priests blessed the people.

The area between the priest’s hall and the temple proper (sometimes referred to as the court of the priests) is the place where sacrifices to God were prepared and offered. Near the northern end of this court were four rows of posts where sacrificed animals were hung and flayed. Next to these (going south) were four rows of tables on which the sacrifices were washed.

The abattoir was an area that contained rings that secured the head of animals so that they could be killed and their blood collected. Next to the abattoir was the brazen altar (also called the altar of burnt offerings) where not only animals but also grain-based and liquid offerings were burned before God (Exodus 29:38 – 42, Leviticus 6:14 – 15, etc.). On the southern end of the altar was the kebesh, which were planks (a bridge) leading up to the altar.

Old Testament Temple

The two main areas of Jerusalem’s temple proper are the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies. The Holy Place contained a seven-branched candlestick, a golden altar on which to burn incense and a table on which showbread (shewbread) was placed. It also had five tables along both the north and south walls of the area.

The Holy of Holies, when originally constructed by King Solomon, contained the Ark of the Covenant, a flask of manna and Aaron’s budded rod (2 Chronicles 5:10, Hebrews 9:4). At the time of King Herod’s rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem, however, this area was empty.

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