Sunday 22 July 2012

The Magnificent Temple of Solomon

Solomon's Temple was a magnificent structure.

The Bible tells us that Solomon employed 30,000 people to build the temple in 3 shifts of 10,000 at a time. There was a staggering 80,000 people quarrying stone to build the temple. Yet another 70,000 people were employed just to transport the stone from the quarry to the building site. Solomon employed another 3,300 supervisors to oversee the work. That's a total of 183,300 people working for 7 years.. yes 7 years to build the magnificent temple of Solomon.

The temple was about 9 meters wide (10 yards).... Just a minute... that's smaller than my house. It was 27 meters long (30 yards) ... Err... That's a little bigger than my house, but smaller if I include the garage. 

The rooms in the ground floor of the surrounding annexe building were 2.2 meters wide, that's barely enough room to lie down. You could fit a king sized bed in there but there would be no room to get out of the side of the bed.

The front porch was only about 4.5 meters long, so its not quite long enough to keep my BMW in the shade.

So, it took 183,000 men 7 years to build a temple less than half the size of your average McDonalds. Exactly what were 80,000 people doing in the quarry for 7 years? Perhaps they had really bad union problems. Perhaps Solomon, his project managers and the supervisors (all 3,300 of them) were just utterly incompetent. Perhaps it's not true. Perhaps the Bible writers just made the whole thing up without paying any attention to the practical reality of what they were writing?

The Bible tells us of the supplies used by this massive workforce. The total volume of all the olive oil consumed by the workers is more than twice the total volume of the temple they were building.

If you assume the olive oil was stored in rounded pots and the pots were piled up in one place, They would be over 4 times the size of the temple.

Perhaps, if they had built the Temple from the empty olive oil pots it would have been a far more impressive building and taken 20 men about a week to build?

If we assume the 30,000 construction workers on the actual construction site were split into 3 shifts of 10,000. If we then assume that we squash all those workers onto the site shoulder to shoulder with only enough room to sit touching another worker on all 4 sides with no spaces for paths to move stone or go to the toilet, that gives us a square of about 2 ft for each of the 10,000 workers on each shift. The workers would have to be placed in 100 rows of 100 workers which occupies a square of 200 ft by 200 ft.

We know that the inner temple was only about 35ft wide. Even if you include all the side chambers, the 10,000 workers could not physically fit onto the site while sitting side by side with no spaces. If you then start to account for the space for the 70,000 men transporting stone, all the supervisors and of course the space for the building they were constructing for 7 years, the absurdity becomes apparent.

Now to go on to the shift workers cutting wood in Lebanon:-
10,000 men working for 313 days a year (Sabbath off). Lets suppose one man cuts down and prepares only one tree a day. that's 3,130,000 trees a year for 7 years which is about 22 million trees to build something the size of a McDonnalds????

It gets more absurd. If you get four 6x6 beams 20 feet long from a single cedar tree. The total number of beams laid end to end would stretch for 333 thousand miles. that's 14 times around the earth.
If you used only the Cedar beams to build the temple as per the stated dimensions it would be 700 miles high.

The bible states exactly how small the Temple was. The magnificent Solomon's Temple was smaller that the smallest church I have ever been in.

Most of you ladies here will know what was going on here. When a self absorbed guy claims it's huge, When you get to see it, the reality is that its usually disappointingly small. 


  1. That last picture is HEROD'S TEMPLE, not Solomon's.

    Such scholarship...

    1. That's the only thing you find incorrect about this article? Then job well done to the author.

    2. Hi Anonymous #2,
      Anonymous #1 is indeed correct and I stand corrected.

      The first Temple was destroyed when the Jews were taken into captivity. On their release they set about building the 2nd Temple even more magnificent than the first. Then a few hundred years later Herod rebuilt and greatly expanded this 2nd Temple.

      The picture is actually a model of Herod's Temple. If this is a representation of a greatly expanded Temple which replaced a Temple even more magnificent than the first, how unsubstantial the the first temple must have been. And how grossly exaggerated are the claims of it's build effort.

      I suspect Solomon may have also been exaggerating about the 700 wives and 300 concubines.

      Seems to me he was more than a little insecure and needed to bolster his fragile ego with spectacular claims of his own achievements. The Tyrants of today are still building magnificent structures to impress the masses.

  2. I believe this author needs to do some additional research. How long does it take to chop down a large cedar and then transport it to the sea, creating rafts to float and then move them inland to Jerusalem. How long does it take to quarry stone, cut it to perfect sizes so that no iron tool would be heard at the construction site. It should be understood that this was 900 BCE and I am sure things were quite different from our chainsaws and electrical tools of today. Magnificence - maybe back then this was much more of a wonder compared to the simple mud brick buildings and tents that many folks lived. Recommend that you read more about the times and do some real thinking.

  3. To Paul Thompson: Way to knock down that straw man. Why would you think that those men were all employed onsite? Since no iron tool was heard onsite MOST of the work would have been done offsite where there would be plenty of room for them to work. There was far more than just the cutting of stone, there were artisans who fashioned the wood and those who overlaid the hammered gold on most everything. And I'm sure it would have taken more manpower and time for it to be assembled with no sound of a tool onsite.

    And as far as Solomon's "spectacular claims of his own achievements", perhaps you should read the account of the Queen of Sheba when she paid a visit. She stated she heard about his wisdom and achievements and thought they were hugely exaggerated. But on seeing them in person she was overwhelmed and said "the half was not told" to her. So you believe you have a better picture than someone who gave an eyewitness account?

  4. I think the author is also forgetting the incredible amount of GOLD that was used inside and out. Also all the carvings that needed to be done and the windows were made with artistic frames. This was a temple built for the Lord, to house the Ark of the Covenant. It wasn't to be some huge church. The Bible tells us that Solomon was the wisest man EVER so I doubt his calculations were off at all.

  5. came here hoping for a feast of well documented information... would have settled for a happy meal. What I got was intellectual dumpster diving.

  6. This is amazing, and I appreciate the amount of work put into looking at it from a skeptic's view. While we can all bat down the misunderstood/skeptical views presented, it serves as a lesson learned. We don't just learn when we succeed, but most in our failures, shortcomings, and misunderstandings.

    Thanks for the read, Paul!

  7. Guys, guys....listen

    First: According to Wikipedia the earliest proved (c-14) archeological finding of a forge workshop is in modern Jordan and dated 930BC.

    More important:

    Far more labor and material consuming than the temple in itself is the temple platform.

    The top of Mount Moria was (is - since they still exist) surrounded by retaining walls which had to be very heavy to support the vaults on which the platform rested.

    Moving the heavy stones for the wall weighing 600 tons each must posed a considerable....challenge.

    Besides....building large rooms before modern times have always been complicated.

    The Pantheon temple, Hagia Sophia cathedral and the dome in Florence are hallmarks in the history of architecture.

    Especially the latter since Filippo Brunelleschi build it without any supporting structures - not even during the process - at all, and it has been a riddle for centuries how he did it.

    The Pantheon required a massive supporting structure while casting the dome in one who piece and when finished no retaining wall was needed to stop the dome from collapsing sideways. The dome on the Hagia Sophia was build very differently an consequently huge massive retaining blocks are necessary to support it. If removed the structure would collapse immediately.

    The Egyptian pyramid builders were the first to face these challenges and Sneferu invented the corbelled vault - a not so sophisticated solution that have made the temple look bizar from the outside. Consequently the temple was long and narrow.

    1. Thanks "Unknown",
      I can't believe this is still going after 8 years.

      Anyway, Mount Moria is indeed a great achievement, However, the platform and the retaining walls were built by King Herod in the first century AD, not Solomon.

      Solomon's Temple was a much more modest construction... and quite small.

  8. Well, the temple had gold, statues of winged sphinxes, palm trees, and many other common motifs of the ancient world. It was not made to be huge. It was made to be beautiful and luxurious.

    1. Thank you Matheus,
      I very much doubt the great Jewish Temple would have had Golden Effigies of Egyptian Religious significance. A Pagan Mythological Beast.
      The Kodesh Kodashim contained only 2 tables until the Babylonian destruction.
      During the whole of the 2nd Temple era, the Kodesh Kodashim is known to have been completely empty with no furniture.

      Outside the entrance to the Temple there was a giant bowl where live blood sacrifices were made, sometimes thousands a day between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

      There were no golden effigies Egyptian or Greek Mythical Beasts.