Sons of the East Part 2 Architecture of the Temple

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
James E. Frey 32°

King Hiram of Tyre sent a trade mission to David; he provided him with cedar logs and with stonemasons and carpenters to build a palace.” (1 Chronicles 14:1)

Brethren, the question I proposed is a quandary of inconsistencies that I stumbled upon in my reading. Why would King Solomon have foreigners come to build his temple? Why would foreigners paid to help build a temple to a foreign God. One could make the assumption it was a political move, to acknowledge and make peace with a neighboring kingdom. But Tyre was a long way from Jerusalem, and it is known that King Solomon made peace with neighboring nations by marrying the Kings daughters. “But King Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hitties… and he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines; and his wives turned away his heart.” (1 Kings 11:1-3)
So if it was not for a political reason, then why would King Solomon have Phoenician builders build a Phoenician style temple in the heart of his Capital. Chief Architect of the Temple was Hiram Abiff was from the tribe of Naphtali, which was part of a loose federation of Israelite tribes after the conquest of Canaan by Joshua in 1050 BC. The Naphtali was a far northern tribe and would have had adequate exposure to the Phoenician culture. It is also said his Father was a man of Tyre and a Phoenician himself. 
So it is this man King Hiram chooses specifically for he was “a worker in brass: and he was filled with wisdom and understanding, and cunning to work all things brass.” (1 Kings 7:14) It is said Hiram erected Jachin and Boaz and constructed the designs for the Temple. So I can believe it can be assumed that Hiram choose him based off of a resume of work he had done for the King in the past. Perhaps he was known for his building skills of Phoenician temples, hence why we see a Phoenician design in King Solomon’s temple. 

If you look at the architecture of King Solomon’s temple you’ll see it follows the traditional Phoenician design, which consists of a outer hallway or an ulam, a central open courtyard or heikal, and an inner holy of holies or debir. There were two pillars outside the front entrance and rooms for temple staff in an annex.
It is known that there is much older Phoenician temples exist in ruins under the Roman ones at Baalbek. Excavation of the 13th century BC Phoenician temple at Hazor and the 9th century one at Tell Tainat shows that Solomon’s temple follows exactly the time-honoured Phoenician pattern, the same patteren to the temple of Ba’al right in the centre of Tyre. All Phoenician temples incorporated two pillars: originally a wooden one for Astarte and a stone one for Baal. According to the ancient historian Herodotus, the Tyrian temple had one emerald pillar and one of gold. The emerald one may have been green Phoenician glass though given the wealth of Tyre may well have actually been emerald. 
It was said to have a candle inside so that it glowed in the dark of the night: the green obviously symbolizes a tree so the emerald pillar may have represented the wooden column of Asteroth who is mentioned in the book of Jeremiah as the Queen of Heaven. The gold one symbolized the wealth given by the earth, gold being then the most precious metal to come out of stone, just as it is now. 
If it was the chief architect of the Temple Hiram Abiff that was set to erect the two outer pillars Jachin and Boaz, we as Masons must further investigate the symbolism and how it is connected to the Phoenician design of the temple. The pillar of Jachin, or Yakayn, was the right pillar on the outer porch of the Temple. Yakayn present tense in Hiphhil means cun or caven; in present plural form in Hithpahel it translates to yacunnu, which means formed in the womb. Gesenius gives primary meaning of erectus stetit or erect uprightwith a secondary meaning of ‘kunan’ which meant strengthen or sustain.
Albert Pike writes un the Book of Words “This symbol (the pillar) appears in all sacred monuments of antiquity, and was everywhere the symbol of the generative or creative power of God… Phallic columns were also common in every part of the orient, and obelisk, standing stones, the stocks of trees, the round towers in Ireland, and even the cross, were representations of the virile member. That the columns of the temple should represent this organ, and one of them be designated by the name signifying erection, vigor, potency, was not at all singular.” (p 29)
This is interesting because in his first kosmogony Philo gives the theology of Phoenician creation as seeing the beginning of All, was a dark and unfathomable blackness called ‘Tohu Bohu’ or ‘without form or void’. Then the spirit was inflamed with love for eternal beings, and a penetration took place, which was the creation of things but itself had no consciousness until Yekun, the first personification of regeneration lead the sons of the Holy angels to Earth to seduce the women of Earth. This is vaguely represented in the book of Enoch. 
Boaz is the column on the left side of the outer porch. Boaz means the word force with the Latin gerund roborando, or strengthening. Albert Pike continues “The act of generation by the Deity never ceases. This may give one meaning of the name Boaz. But its primary meaning is strong, firm, agile, vigorous, stout, able, all which are characteristics of the Phallus, as a symbol of the Divine generative potency represented by upright stones” (p. 32)
Atop both these pillars are decorated with pomegranates and lotus flowers being emblems of the female fruitfulness. Atop these pillars were spheres or as Phoenician tradition would inform us egg shaped to resemble new life. So you have too masculine pillars penetrating feminine symbols of pomegranates and lotus to reveal the moment of the cosmic birth of  cosmic consciousness, or the birth of a New God.
“The king made two columns, each one 15.5 meters tall, and placed them in front of the temple. Each one had a capital 2.2. meters tall. The tops of the columns were decorated with a design of interwoven chains and one hundred bronze pomegranates. The columns were set at the sides of the temple entrance: the one on the south side was named Jachin, and the one on the north side was named Boaz.” (2 Chronicles 3:15-17)


Traditionally the interior of King Solomon’s temple was Phoenician in nature with three parts: an anteroom, then a main hall, finally a secret holy-of-holies. This basic layout suited Solomon admirably since the Hebrew and Phoenician rituals had much in common, except the purpose of the God., Ba’al being a God of reproduction and Yahweh being the war God that allowed them to leave Egypt and conquer much of Canaan. 
The reconstruction on these pages, again based on the Bible, has the small anteroom, or Main, at left. Temple activities took place in the main hall, or Hekal. Twice each day once early in the morning and at dusk, which is similar to Phonecician sun worship. Sacrificial services were held: as sacrifices were offered up outside and incense was burned inside on the altar in front of steps leading to the 'holy-of-holies. In the center of the hall is a low table with
12 small loaves of bread upon it, one for each of the tribes of Israel light by a 12 branch candle stick. The walls of the Hekal are paneled in cedar, decorated with Phoenician winged sphinxes or cherium and lotus patterns. The lofty hall, the scent of cedar and incense, the richly ornamented walls dimly illuminated through the high recessed windows-all contributed to the mystery and beauty of the temple service. The reverence was intensified by a sense of God's near presence-just up the steps and behind the doors of the holy-of-holies. (The Sea Traders, 1974)

The Holy of Holies was a windowless, dark room also paneled in cedar decorated than the sumptuous Hekal. No one could enter here except the high priest once a year, on the Day of Atonement, when he made a special blood offering as a plea to God to cleanse His people of their sins. Two sphinx like creatures stand on either side of the Ark of the convenient. The Bible refers to them as cherubim.
     “And within the oracle he made two cherubim’s of olive tree, each ten cubits high. And five cubits was one wing of the chrub, and five was the other wing of the cherub: from the utmost part of the one wing unto the uttermost part of the other were ten cubits…And he set the cherubims within the inner house: and they stretched forth the wings of the cheribum…so that the wings touched one another in the midst of the house.” (1 Kings 7:23-27)
     Between the Cheribum sat the Holy Shekhinah, of Divine presence of God rested, it was from here the Bathkol, or voice of God spoke. They are described by Ezekiel, Isaiah, and St. John as having the face and breast of a man, the wings of an eagle,  the belly of a lion, and the feet and legs of an ox.  
Nothing is known of what went on inside the Phoenician version of the holy of holies, except that the room contained whatever image the Phoenicians worshiped. It was there that the betyl, or holy stone, was enshrined. But it is in this position the Ark of the Covenant was placed as the seat of mercy, or place of the Holy Shekhinah. 
So it is without a doubt that Solomon had a Phoenician Temple, not a Israelite temple, built in the centre of Jerusalem. But the question still remains, why? Why doesn’t Solomon have Israelites build his temple? Why have Pagan imagery in the house of your God? Why pagan builders? Why pagan funding? Again I must question tradition and ask, was the Temple of Solomon a temple to Yahweh? 

~JEF

James E Frey, 32° is a Past Sovereign Prince and current librarian of Valley of Danville AASR. Founder of the R.E.B.I.S Research Society he sits on two Blue Lodge Education committees as well as a guest lecturer on Occultism and Esoteric studies in masonry. He is also a Member of the Oak Lawn York Rite, Medinah Shriners, and Golden Dawn Collegium Spiritu Sancti. He also works as a counselor with emotionally and behaviorally challenged children. 

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