Nine years later, Solomon died. His son Rehoboam succeeded him. However, a short while later, the kingdom divided; Rehoboam retained Judah, of which Jerusalem remained the capital. Jeroboam I was chosen to rule over the remaining tribes of Israel (27), which henceforth, at their wish, would include the tribes of Reuben and Simeon.
Rehoboam, by now in his fifth regnal year, had been allowing skirmishing parties to raid Egyptian settlements. The pharaoh, Ramesses II (mentioned at the beginning), whom it has since been established was also known as Shishak, decided to punish him by leading his army into Judah. The outcome was that a number of hill towns were destroyed. Jerusalem was captured and about to be treated likewise but, following a plea from Rehoboam, the city was spared in exchange for most of the Temple's moveable treasures. (28) Fortunately the Ark was spared and left in place. There now followed a period of relative tranquillity for the next three centuries or so.
The two kingdoms remained separate until, by common consent, Hezekiah, who had been King of Judah since 715 BC, took control of a part of Israel as well. Hezekiah was one of the great kings of the day; his particular forte was the construction of many enormous stone structures, both civil and military. Several still exist. It was he who also extended the complex system of tunnels, siphons and cisterns under Mount Moriah to improve the water supply into Jerusalem.
After conquering Syria, Nebuchadnezzar II, King of Babylonia, went on to seize Israel and later Judah. Having successfully laid siege to Jerusalem, he imposed a series of puppet kings to govern it. This unsatisfactory state of affairs continued for the next ten years until the Jews revolted, and Nebuchadnezzar finally decided to crush all remaining resistance.
With the revolt suppressed, Nebuchadnezzar's forces sacked Jerusalem itself, stripping the Temple of all its gold sheeting and valuable artefacts. The latter, presumably, having been reproduced over the years to replace those seized by Ramesses II some three centuries previously. The Babylonians then broke up the two pillars, the laver and sacrificial altar before burning down the structure which had stood for over 370 years. They followed this by dismantling the citadel walls so thoroughly that little trace of them was left.
Sometime during this period, the Ark of the Covenant vanished completely, and was never referred to again in the Bible. One is forced to presume either, that this was because it was destroyed or, more intriguingly, because it was secreted away some time during the previous ten years, never to be rediscovered. It seems inconceivable that the High Priest would have passively allowed its capture. Equally the removal of such a holy artefact, together with the profound religious significance that it exerted, could hardly have passed unnoticed or unrecorded. It is not unreasonable to suspect that it could have been hidden in the depths of Mount Moriah.
On the other hand Jeremiah, in the Apocrypha, is reported to have stated clearly that he removed and hid the Ark in a cave outside Jerusalem and which he then sealed up (29).
Graham Hancock, in his BBC programme of 8th. August 1993, submitted another theory in that it might have been transported secretly to Aksum, the ancient former capital of Ethiopia. At all events, what ever the answer, its disappearance still remains the greatest biblical mystery.
Not long after the death of Christ on Friday, 30th. March, AD 36, there followed the lengthy and brutal occupation by the Romans of Judah in general, and Jerusalem in particular. Once again, the Jews rebelled. As a result, Emperor Vespasian sent Titus to restore order. This he did though not without heavy bloodshed in the face of fierce Jewish opposition which finally centred upon their defence of Jerusalem. The Roman soldiers, in their rage, plundered and destroyed the Temple despite Caesar's specific orders forbidding this. It was never rebuilt. A graphic personal eye-witness account may be found in the writings of Flavius Josephus, himself a Jew, who was a former military general, and then historian and diplomat. At one stage, he was employed as a peace negotiator between the Romans and the Jews. It was almost providential that Josephus was allowed to remove all the sacred scrolls from the Temple before its demolition. Whilst tragically the scrolls have since been lost, Josephus at least had full reference to them to help write up large parts of ancient history with considerable accuracy and authority. His work is still available for study.
Once the Romans had done their worst, all Jews were banished from the whole of Jerusalem for the next 150 years. Thereafter, the area within the citadel walls was retained for the exclusive use of Gentiles until the Muslim onslaught in AD 638 under Calif Umar el-Sharif. This took place in September AD 622, just 16 years after the founding of the Muslim religion by Mohammed Ibn Abdullah (AD 570-632); a one-time commercial caravan master.
By AD 691, Calif Abdul Malik had cleared the area within the citadel and erected the Mosque of Sakhra (Dome of the Rock) immediately adjacent to the original site of Solomon's Temple. Years later the Al Aksa Mosque was added opposite and equally close to that site.
Palestine (as erroneously named by the Romans) around the first and second millennia BC was fertile and well wooded. Yet, with a supposed Israelite population by now of about half a million, one might reasonably suspect an element of exaggeration in the accounts of the dedication of the Temple to which large numbers of the populace were witness. It was reported that a sacrifice of 22,000 head of cattle and 120,000 sheep took place (25).
It is perhaps interesting to note that appreciable deforestation occurred at the time of the Roman occupation. This was further exacerbated by the utterly indiscriminate and total destruction of the forests during the period that the Levant was within the Ottoman Empire (c. AD1300-1700). The result was that the whole area was reduced to a bare and arid land from which progressive recovery has only been achieved over the last half of the 20th. century.
Solomon now continued with the construction of his own palace and the associated quarters for those responsible for the government of the kingdom. This, together with citadel walls and defences, took another 13 years, i.e. until 943 BC.
Disbelieving the reports she had received about Solomon's splendour, the Queen of Sheba travelled 1700 miles (2740 km) from southern Yemen (Aden) on a state visit to see things for herself. It seems she came away greatly impressed (26).
In AD 1933, a French archaeologist unearthed 25,000 tablets from the archive of that palace. The last date traced from those tablets showed that Zimrilim must have died in his 6th. regnal year, having reigned 1536-1531 NC. A particular tablet, however, was an inventory of gifts on the occasion of his enthronement, including a solid gold cup. It had come from Yantin, in his 9th. regnal year as King of the city-state of Byblos (now Yuniye, 13 miles north of Beirut) and which, in those days, formed part of the Egyptian empire. Thus Yantin must have been enthroned in 1544 NC. Sadly, at this point, any archaeological hope of establishing an Egyptian connection went cold.
With the purpose of securing a suitable site on the Mount Moriah, David bought an existing threshing field from a local farmer for 50 Shekels of silver (just under one pound in weight). In those days threshing fields tended to be sited on top of hills to catch the breeze in order to blow away the chaff.
After having been safeguarded for the previous 20 years in its tented Tabernacle at Kiriath, David, as a first step, decided to move the Ark temporarily up to Mount Zion. Thereafter, Jerusalem became known as the City of David.
In order to determine the available labour force, David ordered his army to carry out the first-ever population census. His troops did this by concentrating the citizens into compact districts for the purpose of rapid numbering (12). Unfortunately, due to the consequential lack of hygiene and sanitation from severe overcrowding, there arose widespread discontent, disease and bloodshed, resulting in the loss of about 20,000 lives.
To ameliorate the effects of this epidemic, David decided to make a sacrifice on mount Moriah. (13) This was his first religious act there. He was then obliged to restart the census under more tolerable conditions. It disclosed that there were 153,300 foreign workers upon which he could draw.
Although the First Temple at Jerusalem has always borne King Solomon's name, it was really his father, David, who conceived the idea and who became the moving force. For instance, it was he who defined the general layout and planned all the logistic complexities that led to its eventual construction. Nor did David's vision stop there. He also specified in considerable detail the attendant buildings, including palaces for himself and his wife.
When the structure was nearing completion, Solomon invited a skilled foundryman from Tyre to embellish the Temple with gold, silver and bronze metal-work. (22). Although he was called Hiram, ostensibly of the tribe of Naphtali, Freemasons have, over the last three centuries, come to know him as Hiram Abif. However, nowhere in the Old Testament does this name appear in this form. The origin of ‘Abif’ itself is unknown and about which there is still much speculation. A widely accepted view is that ‘Hiram Abif’ could be a translating corruption of the Hebrew ‘Huram abi’, namely ‘the son of Huram’. At all events, he was never an architect, nor was he ever involved in the actual construction of the Temple, as has been commonly believed. On the other hand, the genius that he displayed in the scale and beauty of his craftsmanship, earned him a special relationship with Solomon
|Using the great clay pits at Succoth on the east side of the Jordan Valley, 60 miles (100 km) northeast of Jerusalem, Hiram cast two great hollow pillars in bronze (each 25 feet (8 m) high and six feet (2 m) in diameter) and adorned them with capitals in the shape of huge bowls seven feet (2m) deep, ornately decorated, and each rimmed with two rows of 100 pomegranates. These columns were erected and stood alone on either side in front of the vestibule at the east end of the Temple. Hiram named them 'Boaz' on the right (north) and 'Yachin' on the left (south), as viewed from outside the entrance.|
He then cast a bronze circular cistern 15 feet (4.5 m) in diameter and with sides three inches (7.5 cm) thick, capable of holding 10,000 gallons (37,800 litres) of water, which he mounted upon twelve life-size bronze bulls. The whole structure was assembled opposite the Southeast corner of the Temple, and referred to as the 'Molten Sea' or 'Laver' (23). Its purpose was to provide the priests with ample water, obtained initially from the deep and large underground cisterns which had been recently excavated to supply the future citadel. Some of these cisterns still exist. Although two streams ran down either side of Mount Moriah, it was the larger one in the Kidron Valley, and which was augmented by water from the Gihon Spring, that provided the main supply to the cisterns by means of a series of tunnels and siphons.
Hiram then went on to erect a huge sacrificial altar in bronze, measuring 30 feet (9 m) square at the base and tiered to a height of 15 feet (4.5 m). Ten very large wheeled basins, together with numerous bronze lamp stands, sacrificial implements, and chariots were added. All this metal-work was heavily embellished with decorative embossing. Added to which, Hiram created an altar in gold for the Holy of Holies, as well as all plating, ornaments, lamps, jars, etc.; each beautifully worked in solid gold and silver. But above all, the surfaces of the whole edifice, both inside the Temple and outside, were clad with gold sheeting so that no part of the basic structure was evident.
There is no known record of the vast quantities of gold, silver, bronze and precious stones that were used (24), although rough calculations have suggested that about 20 tons (20.3 tonnes) of gold alone were utilised. At all events, it must have presented a stunning spectacle that would have been visible for miles around. Incidentally, there is no known record of the fate of Hiram Abif.
|M.N. Adler||(Paper) The Temple at Jerusalem.||1887|
|D. Baly||Geography of the Bible.||1974|
|M. Bietak||Egypt and Canaan during the Middle Bronze Age.||1991|
|J. Brand||Some Observations on the Second Temple Edifice.||1960|
|J. Bright||A History of Israel.||1972|
|W.G. Dever||Monumental Architecture in Ancient Israel.||1962|
|J. Ferguson||The Temples of the Jews.||1878|
|R.L. Fox||The Unauthorised Version.||1991|
|C.H. Gordon &
|The Bible and the Ancient Near East||1997|
|M. Haran||The Ark and the Cherubim.||1959|
|M. Haran||Temples and Temple Service in Ancient Israel.||1978|
|J.H. Hayes||A History of Ancient Israel - Judah.||1986|
|S. Herrmann||History of Israel in Old Testament Times.||1981|
|V. Hurowitz||'I have built you an Exalted House'.||1993|
|W. Keller||The Bible as History.||1989|
|K.M. Kenyon & P.R.S. Moorey||The Bible and Recent Archaeology.||1978/1987|
|K.A. Kitchen||Pharaoh Triumphant.||1982|
|J.M. Miller & J.H. Hayes||A History of Ancient Israel and Judah.||1986|
|E.W. Nicholson||Exodus and Sinai in History and Tradition.||1973|
|M. Noth||History of Israel.||1960|
|J.B. Pritchard||(Ed.) The Times Atlas of the Bible.||1987|
|D. M. Rohl||A Test of Time - Vol.1.||1995|
|G. St.Clair||The Buried City of Jerusalem.||1887|
|R.B.Y. Scott||The Pillars of Jachin and Boaz.||1939|
|J.A. Soggin||A History of Israel: from the Beginnings to the Bar Kochba Revolt.||1984|
|R. de Vaux||Ancient Israel - Its Life and Institutions.||1958/1960|
|E. Thiele||The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings.||1983|
|G. Vermes||The Dead Sea Scrolls: Qumran in Perspective.||1982|
|C. Warren||Underground Jerusalem.||1876|
|C. Warren||The Temple or the Tomb.||1880|
|L. Waterman||(Paper) The Damaged Blueprints of the Temple of Solomon||1943|
|W. Whiston||(Trans.) The Complete Works of the Learned and Authentic Jewish Historian, Flavius Josephus, (AD 37-98).||1850|
|C.W. Wilson & C. Warren||The Recovery of Jerusalem.||1871|
'KJ' signifies reference to the King James Bible (Old Testament)
'GN', the Good News Bible (Old Testament)
'AP', the Apocrypha.
|1||Exodus 12:40||KJ||The Sojourn.|
|2||Exodus 1:7-10||KJ||Alarm at the increasing numbers of Israelites.|
|3||Exodus 7:17-12:30||KJ||The ten plagues in Egypt.|
|4||Exodus 12:37||GN||The reported exodus of 600,000 men.|
|5||Exodus 13:19||KJ||Joseph's burial remains are removed.|
|6||Exodus 14:16 & 27||KJ||Moses parts the Red Sea.|
|7||Exodus 32:15/35:29||GN||The two stone Tablets.|
|8||Baruch 2:28||AP||Writing the Ten Commandments.|
|9||Exodus 25:10-16||KJ||The construction of the Ark.|
|10||I Samuel 4:4-11||KJ||The Ark is lost in battle.|
|11||I Samuel 7:2||GN||The Ark is recovered.|
|12||I Chronicles 21:5-14||GN||David's first census.|
|13||II Samuel 24:18-24||KJ||David buys Mount Moriah.|
|14||I Kings 1:34 & 39||KJ||Solomon is anointed King.|
|15||I Chronicles 28:19||GN||Solomon's undertaking to his father David.|
|16||II Chronicles 9:13-14||GN||Solomon's annual income.|
|17||I Kings 6:37-38||KJ||Time taken to build the First Temple.|
|18||Genesis 50:2-28||KJ||The Twelve Tribes of Israel.|
|19||I Kings 5:8-11||KJ||Hiram, King of Tyre, supplies Solomon.|
|20||I Kings 5:13-16||KJ||Adoniram oversees the labour force.|
|21||I Kings 7:36||KJ||Layout of the Temple walls.|
|22||I Kings 7:13-14||GN||Hiram Abif invited to embellish the First Temple.|
|23||I Kings 7:23-26||KJ||Constructing the Molten Sea.|
|24||I Kings 7:47||KJ||The various precious metals used are unrecorded.|
|25||II Chronicles 7:5||KJ||Sacrifice at the dedication|
|26||II Chronicles 9:1-6||GN||Queen of Sheba visits Jerusalem.|
|27||II Chronicles 10:12||GN||Solomon's Kingdom divided.|
|28||II Chronicles 12:2-9||KJ||Ramesses II loots the Temple.|
|29||II Maccabees 2:4-7||AP||Jeremiah hides the Ark.|
|30||II Kings 25:8-17||KJ||First Temple is destroyed.|
|31||Jeremiah 52:31-34||GN||Jehoiachin is released.|
|32||Ezra 1:1-3||GN||The exiled Jews are freed to return to Jerusalem.|
|33||Ezra 6:5||KJ||The First Temple's treasures restored.|
|34||Ezra 6:15||GN||The Second Temple is dedicated.|
|35||Baruch 2:34-35||AP||God pledges Israel to the Jews.|
In the Egyptian Museum at Turin, there exists a papyrus document which was composed in the early 19th. Dynasty. Although badly deteriorated, it nevertheless lists in some detail, amongst other things, all known pharaohs from the 1st. Dynasty (c. 2920 NC) up to those of the 18th. Dynasty (1194-952 NC). Allowing for partial damage and deterioration over the years, each pharaoh is shown with his or her length of reign in years, months and days. It is known as 'The Royal Canon of Turin'.
Hitherto, Egyptologists have been inclined to add together most, if not all, the reigning periods in order to obtain a time scale. It is only recently that there has come the realisation that many rulers functioned either as contemporaries of adjoining kingdoms or as co-regents of the same kingdom. Thus, the only completely reliable method of assessing the degree of such 'overlaps', has been to resort to astronomical dating, or rather retro-dating, that can be proven scientifically by modern standards.
For centuries the ancients regarded eclipses of the sun and positions of the planet Venus with special veneration. Mention of such events have been deciphered on tablets dug up in Egypt, the Levant and Syria. As a result, it has now been possible to establish three specific dates with total accuracy and confidence. These dates can be taken as the 'bench marks' of the New Chronology of the pharaohs.
The years in question are: 664 BC; 1012 NC and 1540 NC. Very briefly, the methodology to achieve this has been as follows:
By the time the bulk of the Jews had assembled at Mount Horeb Moses was an old man in his 80's. It was here that he received the Ten Commandments. The account of him bringing these down Mount Sinai, in the form of two stone tablets, is certainly questionable, particularly as he is reported to have done so twice (7). It would seem more likely that he received the Commandments in inspirational form, and then had them set to stone once he had returned to his people. It is highly improbable that he could ever have twice carried down those heavy stone slabs from some way up a rocky 7000’ (2150m) mountain, let alone after 40 days without sustenance. Furthermore, the Apocrypha seems to confirm this, in that Moses was commanded "to write the Laws in the presence of the people of Israel." (8).
In due course, a special gold-encased Covenant Box of acacia wood, called the Ark, and supported by two long gold-encased wooden poles, was made in which to carry the now Sacred Tablets with their engravings. It was not large; it measured 50 x 30 x 30 inches (1.20 x 0.75 x 0.75m). Nevertheless, it would have been heavy enough with all its gold cladding and embellishments, besides containing the two Tablets and other sacred artefacts. (9).
Although there appears to be no Biblical evidence to support this, it seems both logical and reasonable to assume that some time later the Ark, together with its adornments and carrying poles, was transported by means of a four-wheeled cart. Later accounts of the movement of the Ark, as reflected in both Books of Samuel, seem to imply this. The Ark itself was always kept carefully veiled whenever outside the large tented Tabernacle. The Tabernacle itself had been devised soon after the construction of the Ark, and was always erected whenever the Israelites were likely to remain static for any length of time.
In due course, the tribe of Levi was designated as the future source of hereditary priests appointed to guard the Ark.
I remain indebted to the following for their critiques and guidance, without which much of this presentation would have had less substance:
- Rev. Peter Davies, Principal, Elim Bible College, Nantwich, U.K.
- Professor Michael Goulder, Dean, School of Continuing Studies, University of Birmingham, U.K.
- Rev. Canon Michael Hocking (Former Arch Deacon of Jerusalem), U.K.
- Rev. Dr. Stephen B. Dawes, Chairman, Cornwall District of Methodist Churches, U.K.
- Mr George Edison, Shepherd, Montana, U.S.A
- Dr. David M. Rohl, former Chairman, Institute for the Study of Interdisciplinary Sciences, London, U.K.
- Rabbi David Roller, Livermore, California, U.S.A.
- Dr. Daniel N. Farhey, Haifa, Israel.
I am also immensely grateful for the generosity of the following for allowing me to make use of those illustrations as indicated by their reference letters:
- From 'The Times Atlas of the Bible', by courtesy of Times Books Ltd, imprint of Harper Collins Ltd., London, U.K.:
Prints: C, D, F, H, M and N.
- From 'A Test of Time', by courtesy of Dr. David M. Rohl.:
Prints: A, B, P, R, S, T, V and W.
- By courtesy of Vaughan Tregenza, Esq., Penzance, Cornwall, U.K.:
Prints: G, J and O.
- The following prints are from sources published more than 50 years ago and are now out of copyright:
Prints: E, I, K, L, Q and U.
This document has been prepared primarily for the interest of all Freemasons whose Constitutions are recognised by the United Grand Lodge of England. That does not mean that it is private to Freemasons only; it is not, nor can it be. It deals essentially with Biblical facts insofar as it has been possible to establish them with reasonable confidence. In so doing, it encompasses that portion of Biblical history which, in essence, forms the bedrock of much Freemasonic ritual; not only within the Craft but within the Holy Royal Arch as well.
In assembling this presentation, it is important to appreciate that many learned books have been written about the Old Testament. The Exodus of the Israelites from Egyptian captivity, culminating in the eventual establishment of a homeland under the rule of David and then Solomon, is an account that is both fascinating and controversial.
Following publication of the Authorised King James I Bible in 1661, the calendar of events therein were set against a starting date of 4004 BC which was regarded as the beginning of Creation: (Anno Lucis began in 4000 BC). Up to the AD 1850's, Christians accepted implicitly the historical narratives of the Old Testament, including its calendar. However, since then there has been a growing tendency to examine and challenge the accuracy of its writings by focusing on the cradle of its origin - the Middle East.
When Egypt was a condominium of Great Britain and France, a few wealthy archaeologists had begun to search and dig around the spectacular monuments and relics that were there for all to see. This, in turn, led to the exploration and excavation of many hidden tombs. When, in AD 1922, the tomb of Tutankhamun was discovered and opened up, its treasures motivated such enterprises to further heights. Detailed studies were made of the hieroglyphic signs, cuneiform inscriptions and papyrus script as well as the Akkadian language which was the lingua franca of those times. The advent and development of sophisticated electronics, coupled with the latest evolution in scientific skills, has speeded up both the desire and facility to achieve historical precision.
The purpose of this document is to offer an updated, yet easily digestible, précis of this part of Biblical history and the events that led up to it. Account has been taken of the latest archaeological discoveries and associated astronomical retrocalculations. These, in turn, have necessitated a reappraisal of ancient Egyptian chronology in order to bring such history much more in line with the facts, rather than with long-held supposition.
To introduce greater authenticity into this narrative, the newly acquired data has been embodied. This, in turn, has meant amending the hitherto conventional dates in order to incorporate what is coming to be recognised as The New Chronology of Egypt. The background and basis of how The New Chronology has come to be established is laid out in some detail at Appendix A.
- Foreword - Purpose of this Research. Use of Historical Data. Application of the New Chronology.
- Preface - Variations between Biblical and other Sources.
In the Beginning
- The Influence of Joseph - Joseph enslaved in Egypt. He is appointed Vizier. Prosperity and famine. The Jewish Sojourn.
- Prelude to the Exodus - The Jews in Bondage. Moses warns Pharaoh. The Ten Plagues.
- The Exodus - Crossing the Red Sea. The Parting of the Waters. Camping at Mount Sinai.
- The Ark of The Covenant - Moses receives the 10 Commandments. Description of the Ark and Tabernacle.
- Wandering in the Wilderness - The Search for the Promised Land. Moses dies in sight of Jericho.
- The Promised Land - Joshua succeeds Moses. The Fragmentation of the Tribes. First loss of the Ark and subsequent Recovery.
- A Yearning for Unity - Appointment and suicide of Saul. David becomes King of Israel.
- Jerusalem - the First Capital - David seizes Jerusalem and plans Israel's First Capital.
- The Concept of The Temple - David buys the Temple Site. Ark moved to Mount Zion. The numbering of the Tribes. A Sacrifice on Mount Moriah.
- The Selection of Solomon - Solomon continues David's Vision of a new Jerusalem. Work starts on Foundations of The Temple.
- Building the First Temple - Phase 1 - Hiram, King of Tyre provides Materials. Adoniram directs the Work Force.
- Building the First Temple - Phase 2 - A Description of the Temple and its Construction.
- Hiram Abif - Invitation to Hiram. Description of the Columns, Cisterns and Altars.
- The Dedication - Queen of Sheba impressed in State Visit.
- The Divided Monarchy - Israel divides after Solomon's Death. Nebuchadnezzer II takes control of Jerusalem.
- The Destruction of the First Temple - Jerusalem sacked by Nebchadnezzer's Forces. The Ark disappears.
- The Great Exile - 5,000 Jews banished to Babylon. Zedekiah's alleged treachery. King Cyrus captures Jerusalem. Treasures returned.
- Building the Second Temple - A Description of the Temple. Delays in building works. Herod's enhancements. The Masonic Hall.
- The Destruction of the Second Temple - Romans take Jerusalem. Jews banished. Mosque of Sakhra built on Site of Solomon's Temple.
- Epilogue - Israel, a Nation divided.
A: The New Chronology of Egypt
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