By this time almost all the Israelite tribes yearned for the peace and stability that they believed could come with re-unification. Accordingly, they appealed to Samuel to select a leader whom they could call King 'like the other nations'. He chose and anointed one Labayu who, after his death, came to be known as Saul. (Shaûl in Hebrew means 'asked for [by the people]') His people always referred to him as 'Great Lion of Yaweh'. (See Appendix E)

King Saul spent most of his reign fighting the hill tribes and Philistines. A rebel chieftain, called David, became prominent with his large contingent of Hebrew mercenaries who owed allegiance to no particular tribe. David himself was of the tribe of Judah having been born of humble origins in Bethlehem. Eventually, Saul put David to flight and the latter sought refuge in the kingdom Philistia.

As a revenge on Saul, David offered his force to the Philistines whom he knew were about to mount their own attack on Saul, but his gesture was refused as the Philistines did not altogether trust him. The eventual outcome was that, in Saul's final clash with the Philistines on Mount Gilboa, he was betrayed by a section of his own troops which resulted in his total defeat. Three of Saul's sons, including Jonathan, were killed and Saul himself committed suicide. The four bodies were decapitated and their heads suspended from the walls of the nearby city of Bethshean.

Meanwhile, David had moved in and taken control as king of the city-state of Hebron where, some time previously he had married Saul's daughter, Michal. Saul's remaining son, Ishbaal, now inherited the kingdom but he reigned very ineffectually for only seven years before contracting an illness from which he died. Whereupon David promptly exploited his position as Saul's son-in-law and assumed the kingship of the whole of Israel.


The Jews continued their wanderings in the wilderness in search of their Promised Land, and from whence their ancestors had originated some 220 years previously. The route of the Exodus is not known for certain and probably never will be. There were no maps in those days. Indeed, they would not be conceived until 580 BC by Anaximander of Miletus in Greece, i.e. some 870 years later. Nowadays, Anaximander is generally recognised as having been the world's first cartographer. Consequently, scouting parties (spies) needed to be sent out to determine the best line of advance.

In the main, their travels took the Israelites up the east coast of Sinai. After a number of false trails, and with stops at times lasting several years, they eventually ended up along the eastern side of the Dead Sea (Salt Sea). So it was that, after 37 years and a journey of about 650 miles, they reached Mount Nebo, adjacent to the northeast corner of the Dead Sea. Jericho was clearly visible on the other side of the river Jordan. It was here, in 1410 NC, that Moses is reported to have died, although his burial place has never been traced. If true, he would have been 117 years old!

1700NC Joseph the Patriarch is born in Canaan.
1683 Kidnapped by seven of his brothers and thrown into a well; later sold to a passing caravan heading for Egypt. There sold to Potiphar, head of the Royal Guard. Pharaoh Amenemhat became impressed by Joseph's logic and foresight.
1670 Appointed Vizier; the second highest position in Egypt.
1662 Invites his father, Jacob, with 70 relations plus other Israelites, to emigrate to Egypt to escape the existing famine in Canaan.
1645 Jacob dies.
c.1600 Having served 10 Pharaohs, Joseph dies and is buried at Avaris.
1527 Moses is born near Memphis and is adopted as a Prince of Egypt.
1517 Israelites are placed in bondage and subjected to widespread infanticide.
1493 Having led many successful military campaigns, Moses incurs the jealousy of Pharaoh Ay and is obliged to flee in exile to Saudi Arabia where he later marries.
1449 Moses returns and pleads for the release of the Israelites. The Pharaoh refuses and the ten plagues begin.
1447 The tenth disaster persuades Pharaoh Dudimose to free the Israelites. The Exodus begins and Joshua is born on the way to Mount Sinai.
1410 On arrival at the River Jordan, Moses dies. Joshua takes over and begins the invasion of Canaan with the destruction of Jericho.
1397 Joshua dies and the 12 Tribes are each ruled by a series of Judges for 360 years.
1037 Saul is selected by Samuel (the last Judge) as the first King of a United Israel.
1018 Saul commits suicide after losing the battle of Gilboa. He and three of his sons are decapitated and put on display.
1010 Upon the death of Saul's remaining son, Ishbaal, David seizes the kingship of Israel.
965 Solomon becomes King and builds the First Temple at Jerusalem.
931 BC Solomon dies and Israel splits into two kingdoms.
925 Pharaoh Ramesses II (also known as Shishak) invades Canaan and loots the Temple at Jerusalem.
690 Hezekiah reunites Judah with part of Israel.
598 After reigning just three months, Hezekiah's sixth successor, Jehoiachin (aged 18), is believed to have died.
597 Zedekiah becomes King and, for nearly 11 years, he resolutely resists the invasion of Nebuchadnezzar II despite being offered various favours.
587 Zedekiah is captured. Furious at being spurned, Nebuchadnezzar orders the execution of Zedekiah's three sons. Zedekiah himself has his eyes gouged out and is taken off to Babylon followed, in stages, by 5000 Israelites. Meanwhile Jerusalem is sacked, including the Temple.
586 Some six months after capture, Zedekiah dies as the last King of Israel.
538 Cyrus, Emperor of Persia, frees the Israelites to return to Jerusalem.
514 The Second Temple at Jerusalem is completed.
12 Herod the Great embellishes part of the exterior of the Second Temple and enlarges the Citadel.
c.6? Christ is born.
4 Herod dies.
AD 36 Christ is crucified on Friday, 30th. March.
AD 70 Romans destroy the Second Temple and banish the Jews from Jerusalem for the next 150 years



When nearly 70 years old, David had been reflecting upon his successor. He had discounted the suitability of his elder sons, Amnon and Adonijah, on account of their 'misdemeanours and treachery' (Chileab and Absalom were already dead). Instead, he decided to enthrone his youngest son, Solomon (Shlomó), just before he died (14). Whilst on his deathbed, David extracted an undertaking from Solomon that he would preserve the former's vision of a new Jerusalem and that it would be completed unaltered (15). It was around this time that Solomon married the daughter of King Haremheb, the reigning pharaoh of Egypt who also presented Solomon with a dowry of the city-state of Gezer which the former had recently subjugated.

The choice of Solomon was a wise one. Besides being aesthetically gifted, he was without doubt a most able administrator and adroit diplomat. Having inherited his father's vast wealth, he cleverly exploited the trade routes which passed through his country between India, Persia, Arabia and Babylonia (Iraq) on the one hand, and Egypt, Athens, Rome and Carthage (Tunisia) on the other. It seems to be generally agreed that his annual personal income was about 23 tons (23.4 tonnes) of pure gold, i.e. worth about £225M (US$375M) at 1997 values (16).

He wasted little time initiating work on his father's grand design. He organised the labour force with attendant accommodation; opened up stone quarries; constructed special port facilities at Joppa (Jaffa/Tel Aviv) to handle the timber imports from Tyre; laid 50 miles (80 km) of new road from Joppa up to Jerusalem and excavated extensive water systems within Mount Moriah.

Originally the top of the Mount had been nearly 2500 feet (760 m)above sea level, although it stood only about 400 feet (125 m) above Jerusalem itself. Its sides sloped by as much as 45 degrees. During the course of site preparation, however, the hilltop was sliced off to provide a level platform on which to build the Temple. As a result the final height was reduced to 2420 feet (745 m) above sea level. When this was done, very large foundation stones are reported to have been sunk into the platform to a considerable depth. The whole of this preliminary work took four years before any start could be made on the Temple itself. Another three years and four months were needed to complete the project (17).

It might now perhaps be easier if one follows chronologically the sequence of events that led to the construction and fate of the First and Second Temples.


537 BC

Preparation for the new Temple began. First, however, a more substantial level platform needed to be organised. This necessitated the erection of massive retaining walls, of which some of the stone blocks each weighed nearly 100 tons.

Work on the Temple itself then took shape, based upon a similar but much larger design, although without any annexes. The stone was quarried from beneath the Old City. This was done because of its white colour and fine texture. It has been said that Solomon too had obtained his stone from the same quarry, but this has never been proved. The quarry still exists underground and access may be achieved via the entrance situated between the Damascus and Herod's Gates. Nowadays, King Solomon’s Quarries are used several times a year to conduct Masonic meetings.

Once again the roof was supported by 14 pillars. However, impressive though it was, the structure was not decorated nearly so lavishly as in the days of Solomon, nor were there any pillars at the porch. Recent exploration has revealed that the foundations around the south-east corner went to a depth of 160 feet (50 m) below ground level. It would mean that in those days these massive walls could have been nearly 300 feet (90m) high in places. This, though, is no longer apparent as, over the centuries, the steep valleys adjoining Mount Moriah have become filled with excavation rubble and building debris so that now they have become quite shallow.

514 BC

After numerous delays, resulting in the work being spread over 23 years, the Second Temple was finally completed and re-dedicated in the reign of Darius I, Emperor of Persia (34). The time lapse between the dedication of the First Temple (957 BC) and reconstruction of the second Temple (537 BC) was 420 years, and not about 500 years as some have contended.

During the latter part of the first century BC, King Herod the Great (37-4 BC) enlarged the area of the platform and greatly enhanced the second Temple in an unsuccessful attempt to gain popularity. He created a huge cloistered quadrangle or series of porticos with buildings for both staff and animals. This was further protected by a large fort and tower, later called Antonio. Despite sundry attacks by the Syrians, Greeks and Romans, and interspersed by periods of neglect, the Temple remained functional for nearly 600 years.

It is interesting to note that, during the period of the Jewish Hasmonaean Dynasty (152 - 37 BC), a beautifully appointed stone chamber (84 x 60 feet or 26 x 18 m)  was constructed underground beneath the former Council House (or Sanhedrin) in Jerusalem. It was used for many years by the operative masons of that period. They believed that it had been used for arcane religious rites at the time of Solomon. However, there is no firm evidence to support this. It still exists, and is located just west of the subterranean Wilson's Arch near the Wailing Wall. It is regarded as one of the finest examples of such work from the late Hellenistic period.

Showing only those dynasties affecting the Israelites

Note: From time to time, there were many minor pharaohs or local kings, particularly during the Intermediate Periods. They have been deliberately excluded to avoid complication. Ruling Queens are annotated (Q).

Middle Kingdom Period Middle Bronze Age
12th Dynasty
Span = 1813-1663 Formerly 1937-1759 (Old Chronology); i.e. a revision forwards of 124 years.
1813-1786 Amenemhat I
1786-1741 Senuseret I
1741-1731 Amenemhat II
1731-1712 Senuseret II
1712-1682 Senuseret III 1683: Joseph kidnapped.
1682-1636 Amenemhat III 1670: Joseph made Vizier to Egypt.
1662: Jews arrive.
1653-1645 Amenemhat IV (Co-Regent for 8 years) 1645: Jacob dies.
1636-1633 Neferusobek (Q)
Second Intermediate Period
13th Dynasty
Span = 1632-1440 Formerly 1759-1621 (Old Chronology); ie. a revision forwards of 127 years.
1632-1630 Khutawyre (Wegaf)
1630-1625 Sekhemkare
1625-1619 No king Interregnum exercised by Joseph.
1619-1616 Amenemhat V
1616-1611 Sehetepibre I
1611-1606 Iufni
1606-1601 Sankhibre
1601-1596 Smenkhkare c.1600: Joseph dies, aged 100+ years.
1596-1591 Sehetepibre II
1591-1586 Sewadjkare
1581-1579 Sobekhotep I
1579-1578 Renseneb
1578-1573 Awibre Hor
1573-1568 Sedjef...kare
1568-1563 Sobekhotep II
1563-1558 Khendjer
1558-1553 Mermesha
1553-1548 Inyotef
1548-1543 ...set
1543-1540 Sobekhotep III
1540-1530 Neferhotep I 1540 Datum
1530-1529 Sihathor
1529-1508 Sobekhotep IV (also k/a Khenophres) 1527: Moses born.
1517: Israelites put in bondage.
1508-1503 Sobekhotep V
1503-1493 Iayib
1493-1470 Ay 1493: Moses flees into exile.
1470-1468 Sobekhotep VI
1468-1467 Sankhreensewadjtu
1467-1464 Ined
1464-1459 Hori
1457-1455 ... lost
1455-1450 ... lost
1450-1448 ... lost 1449: Moses returns from exile, aged 78.
1448-1440 Dudimose (also k/a Tutimaos) 1448-7: The ten plagues.
1447: The Exodus starts. Joshua born.
Note: There were considerable overlaps between the 14th and 17th Dynasties. In some instances amounting to 108 years.
New Kingdom Period Iron Age
18th Dynasty
Span = 1194-952 Formerly 1539-1295 (Old Chronology); i.e. a revision forwards of 345 years.
1194-1170 Ahmose
1170-1150 Amenhotep I
1150-1139 Thutmose I
1139-1138 Thutmose II
1138-1116 Hatshepsut (Q) (de facto ruler)
1138-1085 Thutmose III (Nominal Co-Regent for 22 years)
1085-1059 Amenhotep II
1059-1050 Thutmose IV
1050-1022 Amenhotep III 1037: Saul becomes King.
1022-1006 Akhenaten (Co-Regent for 11 years) 1012 Datum
1011-1007 Nefertiti (Q) (Also k/a Neferneferuaten) (Co-Regent for 4 years)
1010: David becomes King.
1006-1003 Smenkhkare
1003-995 Tutankhamun
995-979 Ay (Kheperkheperure)
979-952 Haremheb 965: Solomon becomes King.
957: 1st Temple dedicated.
19th Dynasty
Span = 952-851 Formerly 1295-1186 (Old Chronology); i.e. revision forwards of 343 years.
952-951 Ramesses I
951-936 Seti I
936-871 Ramesses II (Also k/a Shishak) 931: Solomon dies.
925: Ramesses raids 1st Temple.
871-866 Merenpath
866-862 Amenesse
862-857 Seti II
857-853 Siptah
853-851 Tausert (Q)
Note: There were considerable overlaps between the 20th and 25th Dynasties. In some instances amounting to 71 years.
Late Kingdom Period
26th Dynasty
Span = 689-525 Contemporary with rulers of 25th Dynasty for 33 years.
689-681 Ameris The Chronology henceforth remains unchanged.
681-669 Tefnakht II
669-668 Nekauba
668-664 Necho I
664-610 Psamtek I 664 Datum.
610-597 Necho II
597-583 Psamtek II 538: Jews return from exile.
31st Dynasty
Span = 525-304
525-522 Cambyses
522-494 Darius I 514: 2nd Temple dedicated.
494-380 Not known
380-362 Nectanebo I
362-343 Nectanebo II
343-335 Not known
335-332 Darius III
332-323 Alexander III
323-316 Arrhidaeus
316-304 Alexander IV
323-304 Not known
Ptolemaic Period
Span = 304-30
304-284 Ptolemy I
284-266 Ptolemy II
266-221 Ptolemy III
221-51 Not known
51-30 Cleopatra VII (Q)
44-30 Ptolemy XV
Roman Period
Span = 58BC-AD81
58-44 Caesar
44-27 Triumvirate: Antony, Lepidus & Octavian (renamed Augustus).
27BC-AD14 Augustus 6? BC: Christ is born.
4 BC: King Herod dies.
14-37 Tiberius AD 36: Christ is crucified.
37-41 Caligula
41-54 Claudius
54-68 Nero
68-69 Golba
69-69 Otho
69-69 Vitelius
69-79 Vespasian AD 70: Romans destroy 2nd Temple.
79-81 Titus



Joshua (Yehoshûa'), who had been the military commander for some years during the latter part of the Exodus, now took over from Moses. He led the Israelites to conquer Jericho. In fact he so destroyed both the city and its population that it remained abandoned for centuries thereafter. He then went on to conquer the whole of the hill country of Canaan as far as Hazor (five miles north of the Sea of Galilee). On the way he took Shechem (now Nablus) and Shiloh. The hilltop town of Shiloh thereafter became the permanent resting place of the Ark and its Tabernacle for the next 400 years or so.

Following the death of Joshua, the tribes tended to fragment under their own separate leaders, who would come to be known as The Judges. Four tribes headed south-west, whilst the remaining eight spread over towards the coast and northwards to roughly level with Hazor. It was inevitable that they would all become involved in frequent and continuing skirmishes with various city-states or minor kingdoms in order to secure land for themselves. This turbulent state of affairs lasted until 1010 NC.

On one occasion, during the time of Samuel (Shmuél) who was the last of the great Judges, the Israelites were engaged in a fierce struggle against the Philistines around Ebenezer. Learning that the battle was going badly, Eli the High Priest ordered his two sons to take the Ark to the battle area to give heart to his countrymen. For all that, the battle was lost and both his sons were killed. The Ark was captured (10). Meanwhile Eli, who was a short plump man, had been sitting quietly on top of a stone wall awaiting the outcome when news of the defeat reached him. He was so shocked, he toppled backwards and broke his neck.

Somewhat surprisingly, after only seven months, the Philistines asked the Israelites to take back the Ark. It seemed that they had suffered from sudden and widespread sickness which they attributed to its unlawful possession. The Ark was hastily recovered and brought on a makeshift wagon to Kiriath, eight miles (13 km) west of Jerusalem where it was again rehoused in its former Tabernacle (11).


Over the ensuing years the Jews were very successful; so much so that the Egyptians became nervous and jealous of their growth and influence (2). Eventually, Pharaoh Sobekhotep IV ordered that the Jews be taken into oppressive slavery and that their population be controlled by infanticide. Thus the last 70 years of The Sojourn came to be known as The Bondage.

Meanwhile, Moses (Moshe) (Moshe, in Hebrew means 'drawn [from water]') was born near Memphis in 1527 NC and subsequently enjoyed a royal upbringing. Indeed, he became ranked as a Prince of Egypt and a successful military commander. His successes were such that Pharaoh Ay became very jealous of him and his popularity. He, therefore, was forced to flee into exile in Saudi Arabia in 1493 NC where he married and stayed for the next 44 years. It was not until 1449 NC, and after a number of urgent appeals from the Jewish communities that prompted Moses to return to Egypt.

Moses, now 78 years old, tried to persuade the newly crowned King Dudimose to release the Israelites, but he was steadfastly refused. Despite warnings from Moses, the afflictions started in 1448 NC in the form of what have come to be known as the ten plagues; e.g. frogs, flies, locusts, etc. (3). The eighth and ninth occurred both together the same night. The first was an unprecedented violent hail storm, followed closely by a catastrophic earthquake. The Black Land (a name at that time given to the whole of the Nile Delta north from Memphis, (i.e. 10 miles (16 km) south of Cairo) was devastated: houses, roads, canals, and even the largest temples were all wrecked.

Of all the tribulations that beset the populace, there now occurred an event which has so far defied any clear and rational explanation: all newly-born children began to die; not necessarily all at once, but patently over a short period. No mention has ever been made as to whether Jewish babies suffered the same fate; in all probability they did as even animals were similarly afflicted. There is no question but that this disaster did occur, for widespread and haphazardly filled death-pits of that period, with animals and humans mixed up together, have been unearthed relatively recently and identified as belonging to this episode. At all events, this tragedy proved too much for Dudimose, and he now acceded to Moses' demands. Before being allowed their freedom, however, the Jews were first obliged to carry out all these burials themselves.

Then, having been joined by a number of Asiatics, they abandoned their homes and evacuated their principal store cities of Avaris and Pithom, in the district of Goshen. So began their trek eastwards to Canaan. Other workers, mainly Asiatics, similarly seized this opportunity to flee southwards in terror and en masse to get away from the stricken land.


The Old Testament is, amongst other things, an assembly of 39 books covering various notable events in the Middle East, and particularly the Levant, from about 4000 BC to 395 BC. The Apocrypha, of 15 books, which is not included by the Anglicans, then takes us up to the birth of Christ.

It is worth remembering that such history in the earlier years, not only described true happenings but was also richly embellished with legends. Initially, these stories tended to be mainly transmitted by word of mouth. Indeed, the recording of early biblical history, as we understand it, was never a strong point with the Jews: the chroniclers were more concerned with religious significance than with factual information. Consequently, over the ages, these narratives became distorted and often exaggerated; in fact, varying versions of the same episode were repeated several times over. For example, the story of the First Temple in Jerusalem is to be found in the Books of Samuel, Kings, Chronicles, Jeremiah and Ezekiel; and that of the second Temple in Ezra, Haggai, Zechariah and parts of the Apocrypha.

On the other hand, many learned and influential scholars today argue that accurate and substantiated Israelite history only began with the Solomonic Age. This is because, surprisingly, virtually no contemporary evidence exists in support of earlier events that affected the Israelites. For that, we need to turn to those Egyptian and Assyrian records that have survived.

The following study, based as it is upon the most recently published archaeological and textual information available, and centring upon these two Temples, at times differs from accounts in the Holy Bible. This, however, must not be interpreted as an attempt to belittle or scorn the latter, nor to diminish the spiritual messages that it contains.

Although the death of King Solomon in 931 BC was once regarded as the first secure and irreproachable date in Biblical history, it has become possible to move this datum backwards as far as 1540 BC; namely, 13 years before the birth of Moses. Thus, for the purpose of this presentation only, any date mentioned which is prior to the death of Solomon, will carry the suffix 'NC' instead of the usual 'BC'. Dates following Solomon's death may be regarded as fairly accurate; certainly to within one year.

The span and content of this overview is so huge that, for the sake of brevity, it has been necessary either to condense or exclude many anecdotes which, albeit absorbing in themselves, do not directly affect the main substance of this particular narrative.

(Numbers in brackets link to the appropriate Biblical references at Appendix B)

Note: Metric equivalents (given in parenthesis) are approximations to the British measurements.


1 Cubit - varied between 18" and 21", depending upon the region of use. (457-533mm.)

1 Reed - approximately 5 feet. (1520mm.)

1 Palm - approximately 5 inches. (127mm.)

1 Finger - approximately 1 inch. (25.4mm.)


1 Bath - approximately 4 gallons. (22.7 litres)

10 Baths - 10 Ephahs, or 1 Homer, or 1 Cor, or approximately 40 gallons. (227 litres)


20 Gerahs - 1 Shekel, or approximately 1/4 ounce in weight. (7.08 grammes)

60 Shekels - 1 Mina, or approximately 1 pound in weight. (434 grammes)

1 Talent - 3000 Shekels, or 50 Minas, or approximately 50 pounds in weight. (22.7kg)


United Monarchy
Span = 1037-930
1037-1017 Saul (in real life, known as Labayu)
1017-1010 Ishbaal
1010-965 David
965-931 Solomon
Divided Monarchy
Span = 930-690
Judah ; Israel
930-913 Rehoboam 930-909 Jeroboam I
913-910 Abijah 909-908 Nadab
910-869 Asa 908-885 Baasha
869-848 Jehoshaphat 885-884 Elah & Zimri (Jointly)
848-841 Jehoram 884-880 Tibni
841-841 Ahaziah 880-873 Omri
841-835 Athaliah 873-853 Ahab
835-796 Joash 853-852 Ahaziah
796-767 Amaziah 852-841 Joram
767-739 Azariah 841-813 Jehu
739-731 Jotham 813-798 Jehoahaz I
731-715 Ahaz 798-781 Jehoash
715-690 Hezekiah 781-753 Jeroboam II
753-752 Zechariah
752-752 Shallum
752-741 Menahem
741-739 Pekahiah
739-731 Pekah
731-722 Hoshea
722-690 Under Assyrian rule
Re-United Monarchy
Span = 690-586
690-686 Hezekiah (Formerly King of Judah 715-690)
686-642 Manasseh
642-640 Amon
640-609 Josiah
609-609 Jehoahaz II
598-597 Jehoiachin 597: Dies after reigning three months.
597-586 Zedekiah 597: Nebuchadnezzar invades Israel & Judah.
587: Zedekiah blinded. Israelites exiled.



For most of his reign, David was obliged to conduct many bloody but, in the main, skilful campaigns to establish full sovereignty thereby to foster the unity of his people within a stable and wealthy economy. It was, therefore, not until much later in his life that he resolved to build a permanent temple - 'A House for Yaweh' - within which to retain the Ark. One is led to suppose that, in size, the proposed temple was to take the form more of a Royal chapel than a full scale temple in the accepted sense; nevertheless, David's aim was to make it the centrepiece of his proposed seat of government, as well as the religious focus of the Jewish nation. Hitherto, there had been no co-ordination of the country's administrative affairs, except in military matters. David was resolved to put this right.

As a first step, David seized the small township of Jerusalem (its ancient name was Shalem) with the intention of creating his country's capital. He did this for two reasons: first, for the political reason that Jerusalem was located close to the territorial division between the tribes of Judah and Israel; second, because he was attracted to the unusually conical shape of one of the three hills lying just north of the township. Later it came to be known as Mount Moriah, with Mount Zion to the west and Mount of Olives to the east. Another advantage was that Mount Moriah had its own ample water supply which was derived from streams coursing down the Kidron and Tyropoeon Valleys, and which already contributed to a small reservoir in Old Jerusalem, known as the Siloam Pool.

David's idea was to create a centre of government which was to include a Judgement or Mercy Seat (or throne), a Treasury (later known as the House of the Forest of Lebanon), Law Courts, quarters for priests, administrators, scribes, guards, servants, storage, archives and, of course, the royal apartments. Finally, the whole complex was to be enclosed within a fortified citadel on top of the mount which, if need be, could be capable of prolonged defence. The ultimate aim was to develop and convert the township of Jerusalem into a walled city embracing that citadel.


To truly understand the reasons for having any temple at Jerusalem, one really should begin with the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt. This has now been firmly established as having taken place in the year 1447 NC; in the reign of Dudimose; the last Pharaoh of the 13th. Dynasty, (1448-1440 NC). (See Appendix C) Hitherto, Ramesses II had always been held responsible for cruelty to the Jews during the Oppression or Bondage and which ended with the Exodus. Whereas in fact he was of the 19th. Dynasty and reigned nearly 500 years later. There will be more about him further on.

Up until the time of the Exodus, the Israelites had lived and worked in Egypt for almost 215 years (not 430 years as in the Old Testament (1)). Joseph (Yoséf) was, in fact, the first to lead his people from Canaan to Egypt, albeit unintentionally. This arose because seven of his brothers, jealous of his obvious high intelligence, had kidnapped him, thrown him into a well, and were contemplating the means of his death, when a passing caravan of Midianites presented a more convenient solution. Instead, therefore, Joseph was sold to them, and the Midianites in turn sold him as a bonded slave to Potiphar, head of the Royal Guard at Memphis. This was in 1683 NC and Joseph was barely seventeen years old.

After a while, his new situation attracted the amorous attentions of Potiphar's wife, but Joseph would have none of them. Consequently, he was imprisoned on the false charge of sexual harassment. Whilst in prison, he befriended two former courtiers and, through them, acquired a reputation for accurate interpretations of dreams.

Upon his release, one of these courtiers later told Pharaoh Amenemhat III, Pharaoh of Upper and Lower Egypt. The king became curious, as he himself had been bedevilled by the recurring dreams of seven lean cows eating seven fat cows. Joseph was brought before Pharaoh to give his interpretation. This amounted to a warning that Egypt would enjoy seven prosperous years but that this would be followed by seven years of famine. Joseph advised prudence and comprehensive planning. Pharaoh was so impressed that he promoted Joseph immediately to the post Vizier. So it was in 1670 NC, that Joseph became the most powerful man in the country, second only to Pharaoh himself. He was now aged thirty.

palaceEight years later, with the predicted famine having its effect, Joseph encouraged his father, Jacob (Ya’akóv), together with a large number of relatives and other Jews, to emigrate to Egypt from Canaan in order to enjoy the benefits of Joseph's husbandry, and to begin what became known as The Sojourn.

Jacob and many of his family and followers settled in the district of Goshen in northeast Egypt. Jacob himself built his home at Avaris. Some 17 years later, Jacob died and Joseph then had a palace constructed on top of the foundations of his father's former residence.

Joseph went on to serve 10 Pharaohs. Indeed, at one time he was the sole ruler of Egypt for six years (1625-1619 NC) until a new Pharaoh could be chosen. He was over 100 years old when he died and was buried within a mausoleum adjoining his palace.



With the foundations in place, the structure took shape in the form of three sections: the porch or vestibule, or 'Ulam', was outside the Temple proper and faced east. It led, via the main entrance, into the body of the Temple, or 'Hekal'. The Holy of Holies, or 'Debir', occupied one third of the Temple furthest from the main entrance. The combined internal measurements of the 'Hekal' and 'Debir' were about 90 feet (27 m) long, 30 feet (9 m) wide and 40 feet (12 m)  high. However, the floor of the Debir was raised about 10 feet (3 m) so that this chamber then formed a perfect cube of about 30 feet (9m). A frontal staircase gave access to it. There may also have been a room underneath, but this is unconfirmed.

The Ark was to be positioned in the centre of the Debir, flanked by two large wooden gold-plated winged cherubim. The whole of the Holy of Holies, or Sanctum Sanctorum, was to be shrouded from public view by linen curtains coloured red, blue and purple.

The walls of the Temple were constructed in an unusual manner. First were laid three courses of dressed stone, followed by one layer of interlocking cedar beams or ties, then another three courses of dressed stone, followed by another layer of timber, and so on (21). It has been suggested that the reason for this was to make the structure better able to withstand the occasional earth tremors in that region. (The second Temple was built similarly) Indeed, even today, many buildings between eastern Turkey and Afghanistan are built this way. Surprisingly, it is only in the last half of this century that this principle of structural elasticity, in respect of large buildings, has been re-adopted. It is now in widespread use in California and Japan.

Interconnecting annexes, established upon three floors, abutted three sides of the Temple. There were approximately 30 such rooms, each with one or more slitted windows to enable use by archers if defence was needed. None of these rooms had any access to the Temple itself: their entry was gained via doors and stairs let into each side of the porchway. The Temple itself had its own single entrance via the vestibule. There were never three entrances to the Temple itself, although there may well have been such entrances to the Temple precincts.

Initially, all stonework within the Temple, as well as that outside the whole structure, was clad completely in wooden panelling. The roof itself was almost flat, supported by joists of cedar which, in turn, were supported by seven pairs of pillars. The reported absence of the use of metal tools in the construction of the Temple edifice has never been made clear; i.e. whether it was purely the lack of sound, or whether no metal tools at all were used. If the latter, it would have necessitated the preparation of timber beams and panelling well away from the site.  Obviously metal tools had to be used in the underground quarry where, naturally, no noise would have been audible on the surface.


965 BC

Solomon succeeded David as King of the United Israelite Kingdom of the Twelve Tribes. Taking their names and territories from north to south, they were:

Israel - Dan (north & south), Naphtali, Asher, Zebulun, Levi or Manasseh (east & west), Issacher, Gad, and Joseph or Ephraim.

Judah - Benjamin, Judah, Reuben and Simeon (18).

964 BC Solomon ordered the start of preparations for the construction of the First Temple. Hiram, King of Tyre, a good friend of both he and his father, had already volunteered to provide all the timber such as cedar, pine and olive wood from the Lebanon in return for food for his own people and the gift of 20 small townships near the Sea of Galilee (19). The two kings sealed their agreement with prayers together on Mount Moriah.

Solomon conscripted 30,000 foreign labourers to help Hiram. He also mustered 120,000 slaves to quarry and move the stone. This forced labour was under the overall direction of Adoniram, who was assisted by 3,300 supervisors. Only 550 Israelites were engaged on the project. They held positions of management and control of whom Adoniram was one. Whilst he may have been a stone mason by trade, he was first and foremost King Solomon's slave master (20). About 30 years later, and after Solomon had died, Adoniram was stoned to death for unrecorded reasons.

It is written that 600,000 men left with their families (4). This is obviously a gross exaggeration as it would have meant a mass departure of well over 2 million people; far more than the population of the whole of Egypt in those days. (Even over 3200 years later, in 1800 AD, the population was only four million.) It is now thought that the Exodus, comprising the descendants of Benjamin, Jacob and Joseph, could not have been more than 150,000 all told, and probably a lot less. Even a multitude of this size surely must have posed enormous problems of logistics. In accordance with his written wishes before his death in circa 1600 NC, at the extraordinary age of 100+ years, Joseph's remains were removed from his tomb at Avaris and taken away by the Jews for eventual reburial in Canaan (5). It is generally believed that Joseph's final resting place is at 'Joseph's Tomb' in Shechem (now known as Nablus and in the territory recently handed to the Palestinians) although this has never been positively confirmed.

Although the shortest route to Canaan lay eastwards along the Mediterranean coastline, it was well known that extensive military fortifications lay between the sea and the mountains to the north-west of the Sinai Peninsular.. They existed to repel the marauding Philistines (meaning 'Invaders from the sea') who occupied land extending north-eastward past what is now known as Gaza. In consequence, Moses had no choice but to head south-eastwards in order to follow the only alternative route which ran across the top and then down the eastern side of the Gulf of Suez. In those days, widespread reed marshes and salt pans lay between what is now Suez and the Bitter Lakes. The Hebrew word for 'Red Sea' is the same as the 'Sea of Reeds'. Incidentally, the reed subsequently became a unit of measurement. (See Appendix D)

The Jews had almost completed their crossing of the Sea of Reeds when Dudimose changed his mind as a consequence of political pressure for the return of the slaves. Thus he ordered units of his army, made up mainly of the newly evolved chariots, to re-arrest them. The story of the waters parting to allow the Jews passage is well known (6). The actual event, let alone its crossing place, nevertheless is so shrouded in tradition and legend that this cannot be confirmed. One needs to bear in mind that in those days it was Egyptian practice never to document failures of any kind; archivists and scribes were only prepared to record military victories and other notable achievements. However, if this particular account could be based on any substance, the actual crossing of this stretch of marshland might conceivably have been achieved during a period of neap tides at the head of the Gulf of Suez, coupled with strong northerly winds: whilst, on the other hand, it is equally possible that Pharaoh's pursuing forces might have suffered wholesale inundation from a combination of spring tides and severe southerly storms. (The range of Spring tides at Suez is 8.0 feet (2.4 m), and Neap tides is 2.9 feet (0.9 m))

With his need to ensure an adequate water supply, Moses was obliged to follow the established road past the existing copper and turquoise mines that lay along the eastern side of the Red Sea. Eventually, he and his followers ended up camping for quite a time on the plain at the foot of Mount Horeb (Mount Sinai).


587 BC (continued)

As a sequel to pillaging the Treasury, Nebuchadnezzar ordered some 5,000 of the most important and skilled Jews to be taken into exile at Babylon. This was done in four phases, spread over a number of years; the remaining Jews being left to 'till the land' (30). The Old Testament records that King Jehoiachin was taken along with them and subsequently released by the new Babylonish King Evilmoradach after 37 years in a prison (31).

This has been questioned, as some now believe that Jehoiachin, aged 18, died in 597 BC after a brief reign of only three months, and well before the Babylonian invasion. Moreover, Jehoiachin had been succeeded by Zedekiah (Tsidkiyáhu), although eventually the latter was left without authority over Jerusalem and its puppet kings.

Following the abortive revolt later that summer, Nebuchadnezzar, angered by Zedekiah's alleged treachery and ingratitude for past favours, forced the latter to witness the execution of his three sons before his own eyes were gouged out. Zedekiah was then taken into captivity in Babylon where he died soon afterwards in early 586 BC.

539 BC

There was little love lost between the Persians and the Babylonians, any more than there is today between the Iranians and the Iraqis. Cyrus, Emperor of Persia, succeeded in conquering Babylonia and then went on to take Syria, the whole of Israel and Trans-Jordan.

538 BC

With the retaking of Jerusalem, and after almost 50 years in exile, Cyrus allowed the banished Jews to return to rebuild their Temple (32). Moreover, and most handsomely, he ordered the return to the Jews of all the treasures originally plundered by Nebuchadnezzar (33). Again, there was no mention of the Ark.



Extensive official archaeological excavations have been carried out within parts of the citadel over the past 120 years. However, the Muslims firmly refuse any such investigations either within or beneath the perimeter walls of the two mosques. Consequently, it has never been possible to determine precisely the foundations of the First Temple which, according to Josephus, "had been laid very deep in the ground."

It is perhaps worth bearing in mind that, from the time the Jews returned to Canaan (around 1400 NC), and for the next 2000 years or so, the territory occupied by their tribes varied surprisingly little. Their boundaries, in the main, lay from the Mediterranean coastline (The Great Sea) eastwards for almost 80 miles (130 km) in places; and southwards from the Golan Heights for about 150 miles (240 km) to the southern end of the Dead Sea.

This, together with the bitter resentment engendered by the imposition of Muslim mosques upon David's original site, goes some way to explain why the present State of Israel is so adamant about its retention of the whole of Jerusalem. It also goes a long way to explain the deep divisions within the Israeli nation today: between those struggling for what they consider to be their birthright, and those yearning for peace with their Arab neighbours.

The Jews are back in their land. A land which they all profoundly believe to be their's by Divine Right; it having been given to them in perpetuity by the Almighty (35).