The Doorways of Solomon’s Temple

Biblical Archaeology Society | 11/18/2019 | Staff
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What is a “mezuzah” in the Bible?

A reconstruction of Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem. Drawing: Leen Ritmeyer.

Solomon - Temple - Kings - Temple - Parts

King Solomon’s Temple was resplendent. Described in 1 Kings 6–7, the temple was divided into three parts: the forecourt (ulam), the outer sanctum (heikhal) and the inner shrine (devir), also known as the Holy of Holies. Built of stone and roofed with wooden beams, Solomon’s Temple was intricately ornamented. Its interior walls and floors were lined with wooden boards and covered in gold. It took seven years to complete the temple and its furnishings.

Despite the Biblical description and archaeological parallels, there are still some mysteries about Solomon’s Temple. For example, 1 Kings 6:31 describes the doors between the outer sanctum and the inner shrine of Solomon’s Temple as having five mezuzot (the plural form of mezuzah).

Mezuzah - Bible - Mezuzah - Context - Solomon

What is a mezuzah? In the Bible, mezuzah is normally translated as “doorpost.” However, in the context of Solomon’s Temple, doors with five doorposts do not make sense.

Madeleine Mumcuoglu and Yosef Garfinkel explore this enigma in “The Puzzling Doorways of Solomon’s Temple” in the July/August 2015 issue of BAR. They contend that a recent discovery from Khirbet Qeiyafa may hold the answer to unlocking the meaning of a mezuzah in the Bible regarding Solomon’s Temple.

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As the point where three of the world’s major religions converge, Israel’s history is one of the richest and most complex in the world. Sift through the archaeology and history of this ancient land in the free eBook Israel: An Archaeological Journey, and get a view of these significant Biblical sites through an archaeologist’s lens.

This is an example of a modern mezuzah secured to a doorframe. However, this is not what is meant by a mezuzah in the Bible—and not how we should envision the doorways of Solomon’s Temple. Photo: “Mezuzah at Chesed-El Synagogue, Singapore –...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Biblical Archaeology Society
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