The Temple

Posted by on May 29, 2016

The Biblical accounts of 1Ki_6:1 and 2Ch_3:2 say that 480 years after Israel had come out of Egypt, King Shlomo began to build the Temple in the second month in the fourth year of his reign in Yerushalayim on Mount Moriah, where YHVH had appeared to his father David, the place which David had prepared, in the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite (2Ch_3:1).

And it came to be, in the four hundred and eightieth year after the children of Israel had come out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of the reign of Shlomo over Israel, in the month of Ziv, which is the second month, that he began to build the House of Yehovah.

Insert: Yerushalayim was built on the territories of the tribes of Yehudah and Binyamin and the Temple was built on their common border. In the section dealing with boundaries in the Book of Joshua, it explains how their border was shared. The Rabbis also said (Yoma 12a, Meg. 26a, Zeb. 53b): A strip protruded from the territory of Benjamin and entered the territory of Judah, upon which the altar was built. Therefore, they were inseparable, and they are also mentioned close to one another. The location of the Altar [in the Holy Temple] is very exactly defined… It is a commonly-held tradition that the place where David and Solomon built the Altar, on the threshing floor of Arona, is the very place where Abraham built an altar and bound Isaac upon it; this is where Noah built [an altar] when he came out from the Ark; this is where Cain and Abel brought their offerings; this is where Adam the First Man offered a korban when he was created — and it is from [the earth of] this place that he was created… (Mishneh Torah, Laws of the Holy Temple 2:1-2). In Hebraic thought, the foundation stone of the Temple of Elohim is considered the origin of the physical universe.

Seven years later, the eleventh of King Shlomo’s reign, the Temple was completed (1Ki_6:38). In the following year, in the seventh month, King Shlomo brought the Ark of the Covenant into the Temple (1Ki_8:2-4, 2Ch_5:3-7) and the Temple was dedicated in the Feast of Sukkot for seven days (1Ki_8:65-66, 2Ch_7:8-11, Antiquities, Book 8, Ch 4:1). 1Ki_11:42 says that Shlomo reigned over Israel 40 years, or he reigned thirty-seven years after the Temple’s construction began. At the end of twenty years King Shlomo had built the House of YHVH and his palace (2Ch_8:1) with which the entire construction had been completed: that of the Temple seven years and that of his palace thirteen years, as it is written in 1Ki_6:38 and 1Ki_7:1.

However, there is a slight difference between the Masoretic text and the Septuagint of 1King 6:1. The Septuagint says:

And it came to pass in the four hundred and fortieth year after the departure of the children of Israel out of Egypt, in the fourth year and second month of the reign of King Shlomo over Israel, that the king commanded that they should take great and costly stones for the foundation of the house, and hewn stones. And the men of Shlomo, and the men of Hiram hewed the stones, and laid them for a foundation. In the fourth year he laid the foundation of the house of the Lord, in the month of Ziv, in the second month. In the eleventh year in the eighth month, the house was completed.

The usual explanation for the contradiction between the Septuagint and the Masoretes is that the Septuagint may record only the years since the entry into Kana’an while the Hebrew text may include the forty years in the wilderness, and thus to the Exodus itself. In other words, the Israelites had come out of Egypt either 480 or 440 years before the commencement of the building of the First Temple. 

However, what does “had come out of Egypt” in 1Ki_6:1 mean? Does “had come out of Egypt” mean when the last Israelite stepped out of Egypt (Exo_12:17) or something else? There are two possible scenarios to explain the two possible interpretations of 1Ki_6:1: (1) The Physical Exodus: Israel came out of Egypt and in 480 years (40 + 440) construction of the Temple began; (2) The Complete Exodus: Israel came out of Egypt, forty years were spent in the wilderness, and in 480 years construction of the Temple began.

To find the exodus in 1Ki_6:1 and in order to correctly restore the correct chronology of the events, we need to close examine a verse that is somehow overlooked in the Book of Joshua—Jos_5:9,

And Yehovah said to Yehoshua, “Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.” So the name of the place is called Gilgal to this day.

What would Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you mean? To answer this question, we need to see the context behind the statement. The children of Israel walked forty years in the wilderness until all that generation of men of battle who came out of Egypt were consumed for their disbelief. The next generation crossed the Yarden River, an event which they were longing for the last forty years and Yehoshua circumcised their sons born in the desert (the adopted non-natives included) because they were uncircumcised on the way to the Promised Land. And after they were healed, YHVH made this statement: Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.”. Hence, we may infer that by “today” YHVH meant either the day when they were circumcised, or (what He probably meant was) that the nation was ready to start the conquest. In support of the latter, Josephus gives us his account on this verse in Antiquities, Book 5:1:11,

Now the place where Yehoshua pitched his camp was called Gilgal, which denotes liberty; for since now they had passed over Yarden, they looked on themselves as freed from the miseries which they had undergone from the Egyptians, and in the wilderness.

If we consider that the phrase “had come out of Egypt” may not mean when the last Israelite left Egypt but when Israel was liberated not only from the oppression of the slavery, when they physically came out of Egypt and from the sin of rebellion in Egypt (Jos_24:14, Eze_20:5-9, Eze_20:33-36), but also from the rebellion in the wilderness, then the forty years in the wilderness must be considered in the counting and those 480 years are to be reckoned after them. This can mean only one thing , that when the new generation entered into the Renewed Covenant with YHVH in the plains of Moav and took the oath that they would be obedient to all the words of the Covenant which their fathers swore and then forsook, only then they were allowed to cross over the Yarden River. Why would this be so significant in the restoration of reckoning of time?

The answer is because by this we would know from which point of history to start counting the 480 years to the beginning of the construction of the Temple in Yerushalayim. Also, this will give us chance to bridge the entry in the Land and establishment of the Kingdom of Israel thus bypassing the obscurity of the period of Judges on which many scholars agree we are given little information as far as the reckoning of time is concerned.

This understanding of the present author, that the freedom from the slavery in Egypt commenced when the new generation was mentally liberated from Egypt and purged from the rebellion in the desert, seems to be also supported in Num_33:1 which states:

These are the departures of the children of Israel, who went out of the land of Egypt by their divisions…

We should notice that the text does not say “departure” (singular), if the crossing of the Egyptian border was the case, but “departures” (plural) denoting that the whole journey of forty-two stations during those forty years was considered in the phrase “had come out of Egypt”, not the first leg only. So, Israel had come out of Egypt (Egypt also as a symbol of slavery and rebellion in the wilderness) at the crossing of the Yarden River and the 480 years, when the construction of the Temple began, are to be counted from that point on. Can we find a proof-text in the Torah supporting this hypothesis? To answer this question we need to go even further.

The sages say there were nine counts of Israel since the Exodus (Exo_30:12, Num_1:2, Num_4:46-48, Num_26:2-4, Jdg_20:15-17, 2Sa_24:21, 1Ch_5:17, 1Ch_9:1, 2Ch_25:5, 2Ch_2:17, Neh_7:5) and that there would be a tenth counting still waiting in the future when Israel will be brought back home (Jer_33:7-13):

And I shall turn back the captivity of Yehudah and the captivity of Israel, and shall build them as at the first, and shall cleanse them from all their crookedness that they have sinned against Me. And I shall pardon all their crookedness that they have sinned and by which they have transgressed against Me. … In this place which is dried up, without man and without beast, and in all its cities, there shall once again be a home of shepherds causing their flocks to lie down. In the cities of the mountains, in the cities of the low country, and in the cities of the South, and in the land of Binyamin, and in the places around Yerushalayim, and in the cities of Yehudah, the flocks once again pass under the hands of him who counts them, declares Yehovah.

In the Book of Numbers, we are also told, there are two censuses of the children of Israel thirty-eight years apart. They are listed in the first and in the twenty-sixth chapters of The Book of Numbers.

TRIBE                         FIRST CENSUS                         SECOND CENSUS

Reuben                         46,500                                           43,730

Simeon                         59,300                                          22,200

Gad                               45,650                                          40,500

Judah                            74,600                                          76,500

Issachar                        54,400                                          64,300

Zebulun                        57,400                                          60,500

Ephraim                       40,500                                          32,500

Manasseh                     32,200                                          52,700

Benjamin                     35,400                                          45,600

Dan                              62,700                                          64,400

Asher                           41,500                                          53,400

Naphtali                      53,400                                           45,400

TOTALS                603,550                                     601,730

Insert: the generation that crossed Yam Suph is the generation that survived the Nile about forty years earlier; the generation the inherited the land of milk and honey is the generation that was born in the desert during the thirty-eight year Arabian exile.

We could expect that during the thirty-eight years spent in the desert Israel could have been enlarged significantly just by considering the natural birth rate. If we add to it the super food (the manna which provided a perfect nutrition) they ate in the desert, we should expect much a larger population than what we find in the second census. At first glance, it is obvious that Israel lost 1,820 men of battle, with Reuven, Simeon, Gad, Ephraim, and Naphtali contributing much to it. What happened between these two chapters that could have decreased Israel’s population we are not told in the Torah, but there are some clues which can help us draw conclusion.

The first census numbers those Israelites who had come out of Egypt. This generation (Num_14:29), which eventually died in the desert, was one of rebellion. The second census numbers the new generation, the generation filled with hope and expectation of life in the land of Israel. These censuses seem to mark a nearly mirrored division in the Book of Numbers: there is a 38-year gap between Chapter 19 and Chapter 20 when they camped in eighteen locations in the Wilderness of Paran during these 38 years, from station 15 to station 32 (Num_33:18-35).

In the first census 603,550 men twenty years old and older were numbered and only 22,273 firstborn males (Num_3:40-43); that would make one firstborn per every twenty-seven. How can it be so? There are two possible causes that can explain the apparent discrepancy. The first possible cause but less likely could have been a high mortality rate among the newborn (those who had not reach the age of thirty days, Num_3:15) and the second one: a decimation. In the second census, however, there was a third cause that might have led to decrease of the population and this will be explained further below.

From the table above, we notice that at the first census, the tribe of Simeon had 59,300 men of war (making it the third biggest tribe) and at the time of the second census, it had lost 37,100 men, and with only 22,200 men of war this tribe became the smallest one in Israel. It is very unlikely that this tribe lost so many people due to natural causes. When the remnant of the tribe of Simeon along with the others entered the land, they did not inherit its own territorial tribal land; instead, this tribe inherited cities within the territory of the tribe of Yehudah (Jos_19:1-9) because, they did not have enough number of men to dispossess the Kana’anites. We should remember that this is why YHVH did not give Israel the whole land promised to Avraham, but only a portion of it because Israel was too small to conquer it. The same rule applied to Simeon, too.

In the book titled The Exodus Case by Dr. Lennart Moller, the author made the hypothesis that during the thirty-eight years in the desert some of the Israelites settled in the Arabia Peninsula. In his book he showed ancient maps in which one can recognize the names of these settlements: typical Hebrew names, and the name of one of them was even Ras Israel (p.384). Dr. Moller makes the hypothesis that Yemenite Jews may well have been the sons of Yamin (Gen_46:10, Exo_6:15, Num_26:12), one of the major family of the Simeon tribe, most of which most likely left Israel and gave their father’s name to the modern day Yemen (Yaman in Arabic).

So, it is very possible, that Israel lost numbers in this census, because some of them decided to leave Israel and establish their own settlements in Arabia. Also, while wandering there, the Israelites most likely fought the local people and lost lives in addition to the splitting of the nation. In support of Dr. Moller’s hypothesis, a very interesting book, The Book of Wars of YHVH, is mentioned in Num_21:14 immediately after the 38-year exile in Arabia. We know that there are no vain words in Torah. If this book was given in Chapter 21 of Numbers, after the thirty-eight years spent in the desert, just before Israel was about to conquer the land, it was given for a reason. It is very possible that this lost book (or it may not be lost at all) must have depicted those wars which YHVH fought for Israel because it is reasonable to expect that the local people, the Ishmaelites, would have fought the Israelites to protect their land.

The rabbinical commentaries explain the large reduction in Shimon’s population was due to the fact that the Shimonites were the major perpetrator in the worship of Pe’or with the daughters of Midian (Zimri, who was killed by Pinchas, was the “prince” and leader of the tribe of Shimon. Many Shimonites were executed for their crimes (as per Numbers 25) and they constituted the greater part, if not all, of the 24,000 who perished in the plague (Midrash Tanchuma; Rashi).

This however was not the only instance in which Israel was so decimated. We read of plagues and other catastrophes following the sins of the Golden Calf, the “complainers” and the lust for meat, the Ten Spies (Numbers 13-14:38), the attempt to enter the Land (Num_14:39-45), and the rebellion of Korach (Numbers 16:1-50). Indeed other tribes, too, show a fall in population (though none as drastic as Shimon’s), and the people as a whole are fewer despite the natural increase one would expect after a full generation. The commentaries further note that whole families were wiped out. In the second census there were five Shimonite clans instead of six, Gad had likewise lost a family, and Benjamin had lost five. Below is the table showing the summary of those perished in the wilderness.

Number of perished

Incident

Reference

3,000

the Golden Calf

Exo_32:28

unknown

the Golden Calf

Exo_32:35

275

Korach’s rebellion

Num_16:35

14,700

Korach’s rebellion

Num_16:49

24,000

the Moabite women

Num_25:6-9

many

the bronze serpent

Num_21:6

On the other hand, there were two countings of the Levites in the first census. The first counting from one month old and upward (Num_3:12-15) was for the redemption of the firstborn among the Israelites and thus it put the tribe of Levi as the smallest tribe of Israel eventhough they were counted from one month old and upward.

Levites one month and upward:                     Kohathites           7,500

                                                                       Gershonites          8,600

                                                                       Merarites             6,200

                                                                       Total                 22,300

The second counting of the Levites was for the purpose of service of the Tabernacle. In this counting the Levites were counted from thirty to fifty years of age (Num_4:29-30).

Levites 30-50 years of age for service:         Kohathites          2,750

                                                                      Gershonites         2,630

                                                                      Merarites            3,200

                                                                      Total                  8,580

Therefore, the Levites from one month to twenty-nine and from fifty-one and older were 13,720. The Levites were never counted from twenty years of age and upward, nor was the condition of their counting ever based upon their ability to go to war. This difference of duty explains why the Levites were not counted with the Israelites in the first census.

In the second census thirty-eight years later the Levites were again counted from one month old and upward and they were numbered 23,000 (Num_26:57-62), or they had a gain of 700 people. Since the Levites did not participate in the golden calf incident, nor did they rebelled against Mosheh and Aharon, and therefore they were not punished to die in the wilderness as the other Israelites were (Num_26:63-65), the small gain of 700 Levites can be due to a natural cause.

Undoubtedly, the whoring with the daughters of Mo’av and the aftermath had contributed to the decrease of Israel’s population, nevertheless it still cannot explain the numbers completely. For instance, between the first and second census the tribe of Shimon had lost 37,100 men which made this tribe the smallest on Israel, even smaller than the tribe of Levi. Even if the 24,000 who perished in the plague (Num_25:9) had been all Shimonites, there are still 13,100 unexplained whom the tribe lost sometime during the 38-year wandering in the desert and definitely before the whoring with the daughters of Mo’av. Therefore, there must be another reason for Israel’s decrease and the present author believes that a large portion of the people left Israel and settled in Arabia.

In conclusion of this matter, we find a decrease in Israel’s population in the second census because: (1) a large part of Shimonites and probably others left Israel, (2) the wars they fought in Arabia, and (3) they might have continued in rebellion (as we see that even the new generation rebelled against YHVH that would have provoked the Almighty to punish them by thousands, Num_25:1-9). Thus, Israel lost 1,820 men of battle despite the expected natural increase after thirty-eight years in the wilderness and the gain of tribes such as Issachar (9,900), Manasseh (20,500), Benjamin (10,200), and Asher (11,900).

Now, let us look at the matter from a different perspective and more particularly whether the land east of the Yarden River as promised to Avraham is considered to be the Promised Land and thus under the Torah’s requirements of the Sabbath of the land. To answer these questions, we need to understand that only those who kept the Torah would be allowed to remain in the land according to Lev_18:24-30.

The boundaries given to Avraham in Gen_15:18 are larger than those given to Mosheh and the children of Israel in Num_34:2-12. Of particular note is the eastern border. In the Avrahamic Covenant, the eastern border extends all the way to the Euphrates River while in Numbers, the the Yarden River is the eastern border. According to the Avrahamic boundaries, the land east of the Yarden is clearly a part of the Promised Land and rightly so. However, to understand why smaller borders were given to Israel, we need to realize the dangers of too much land and too few people to possess it and defend it.

From the second census, that of new generation and taken after the Arabian exile, we learn that Israel had 601,730 men of war. This is not nearly enough people to take and hold the whole of the land promised to Avraham. Therefore, YHVH did not allow Israel to possess the entire land promised to Avraham but only a portion of it (Exo_23:29-30). He knew that Israel is not yet ready to take possession of the entire land, or they did not deserve to take it. Why? Because, if the hypothesis that Israel had lost people in Arabia who had decided to leave the camp is a fact, then we understand the reason why Israel was not allowed to possess the larger land; they did not merely have enough people to conquer it and to possess it and because of their rebellion, they were stripped of their right to have it.

Thus, the twelve tribes were given what they deserved: the share within the territory west of the Yarden River, with the exception of Reuven, Gad, and the half-tribe of Menashsheh, which are allowed to expand the boundaries of the land of the twelve tribes. Had the Israelites been faithful and kept the unity of the camp during the 38-year exile in Arabia, at the given high birth rate, the manna from heaven, and everything else they needed to exist in the desert (here we may recall that even their sandals were not worn out), they would have increased in numbers and thus be able to conquer and possess a larger territory than what they got.

Having understood that the 38-year Arabian exile in the desert was in the Creator’s plan in order to purge the rebellion of Israel, we need to return to 1Ki_6:1 and try to establish the facts.

So far, we have considered two scenarios as to from which point the 480 years are to be counted and they are: the first, from the departure from Egypt and the second, from the crossing of the Yarden River; the former we will call “the physical exodus” when they left Egypt and the latter – “the complete exodus,” after which Israel was cleansed from the rebellion against YHVH.

In summary, these are the two possible scenarios of the exodus explained so far, from the Exodus to the command to build the Temple based on the two possible interpretations of 1Ki_6:1:

1. The Physical Exodus:

Israel came out of Egypt and in 480 years construction of the Temple began.

2. The Complete Exodus:

Israel came out of Egypt, forty years spent in the wilderness, and in 480 years construction of the Temple began.

The hypothesis of this author is that The Complete Exodus scenario is the actual exodus in 1Ki_6:1 which will be proven to be true when all pieces of the puzzle fall into place. Hence, the 480 years are to be counted from the time of the crossing of the Yarden River, and not from the crossing of Yam Suph (aka Red Sea) with which two very important conclusions have been made: (1) the Exodus started when Israel left Egypt on the day of the Unleavened Bread and ended forty years later (lacking five days) when they crossed over the Yarden River; (2) Israel entered the land only when the land was conquered, divided between the tribes and the families, and fully inherited. That year, later will be proven to be the Jubilee of the land and the following year was the year when the laws of the sabbaths and jubilees were implemented (see Jubilees Table).

This study showed that only the first two sabbatical years were observed in 2514 and 2521. Yehoshua died in the second sabbatical year of 2521, thus he led Israel twenty-eight years (see Jubilees Table). After the death of Yehoshua and that of the High Priest Pinchas after him, and after all the generation of the conquest of the land was gathered to their fathers, the generations after them (which we will see in the next chapter) had not observed the sabbatical laws of the land at all. That was the reason YHVH sent them in exile in order to let the land have its due rest. This is the price Israel had to pay for having not observed the laws of the Land of YHVH.

Therefore, the reckoning of time from the Creation to the beginning of the construction of the First Temple is this:

1. It was 1,948 years from Adam to Avraham.

2. It was 75 years from Avraham’s birth to the Covenant.

3. It was 430 years from the Covenant to the Exodus.

4. It was 40 years from the Exodus to the crossing of the Yarden River.

5. It was 480 years from the crossing of the Yarden River to the construction of the Temple.

Total: 2,973 years.