We’ve had some fun the past few weeks measuring the different pieces of furniture and the Tabernacle itself right in the auditorium. But how does all this match up against the size of Solomon’s Temple?
Remember, King David desired to build God a temple, that the Lord might dwell in a house rather than in a tent (2 Sam 7:2). God allowed David’s son Solomon to build the temple. Solomon’s motto must have been, “Go big or go home,” because he certainly built the temple significantly bigger than the Tabernacle.
Just about everything that Solomon built was a large step above what was made for the Tabernacle, but let’s look at just one item of furniture before moving on to the structure of the buildings themselves.
The Bronze Altar that Moses built for the Tabernacle was 5 cubits long x 5 cubits wide x 3 cubits high (Ex 27:1). A cubit equals about a foot and a half, so the dimensions of his altar were 7.5’ x 7.5’ x 4.5’.
Now let’s compare that to Solomon’s altar. 2 Chronicles 4:1 gives us the dimensions: 20 cubits long x 20 cubits wide x 10 cubits high. That measures out to 30’ x 30’ x 15’.
Putting the two next to each other, we see the significant difference (all of the following diagrams are made to scale):
Wow! When put next to each other, Solomon’s altar dwarfs the original one. This makes sense, because Moses’s altar was made to be portable. It had to be carried from place to place in the wilderness for many decades, as well as carried around the land of Israel as well. Solomon’s altar certainly was not movable, but neither was his temple designed to go from location to location.
Now let’s take a look at the structure of the building itself. The Tabernacle was 45’ long x 15’ wide x 15’ high (see last week’s blog for comments on the width of the building; Ex 26:16-21). Solomon’s Temple, as you might imagine, was significantly larger. We get the dimensions in 1 Kings 6:2-3: 60 cubits long x 20 cubits wide x 30 cubits high (90’ x 30’ x 45’).
Again, it is helpful to see a visual comparing the two:
This too is impressive, and to add to it we should keep in mind that Solomon’s Temple was much more than just the temple building. It had a porch and side rooms and other elements that the Tabernacle itself did not have.
Solomon did a lot of other things at a much grander scale than the Tabernacle. We don’t know the dimensions of the cherubim upon the Ark’s mercy seat, but we know that Solomon made two giant cherubim for inside the Holy of Holies (I assume these were in addition to the ones on the mercy seat, since we don’t have evidence that Solomon re-did the Ark of the Covenant). These cherubim were each 15’ tall x 15’ wide (wing tip to wing tip; 2 Kgs 6:23-28)! That means that if these were placed in the original Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle, their heads would’ve scraped the ceiling and their wings would’ve touched the walls.
We could continue our comparisons by bringing into the conversation the Second Temple, Herod’s upgrades, and Ezekiel’s Temple. But for now, it’s important to keep in mind that the splendor of any of these buildings is simply a reflection of the glory of the God who dwelt in them. May we, the temple of God’s Spirit (1 Cor 3:16, 6:19), keep this in mind as we consider how we are being ever changed from glory to glory to reflect the awesomeness of our Savior.