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Solomon's Temple embodied features derived from many surrounding cultures. It was on the summit of a hill, like the altar of Ba'al on Mount Carmel, the sanctuaries of Mount Hermon, and the Babylonian idea of the divine abode on high. It was surrounded by courts, like the Phoenician temples and the splendid temple of Der al-Bakri at Thebes. Its general form also reminds students of ancient architecture of several Egyptian sanctuaries.

The chambers which surrounded the Holy Place in Solomon's Temple are said in 1 Chron. 28:12 to have been storehouses for the sacred treasure. These are paralleled in Babylonian and Egyptian temples by similar chambers. The "molten sea" finds its parallel in Babylonian temples in a great basin called the apsu (“deep”). As the ziggurat typified a mountain, so the apsu typified the sea. The Temple, with the "sea" standing before it, thus became a miniature world.

 

Jerusalem Temple                    Sumerian Temple

 

Ancient Sumerian altar and the Ark of the Covenant.

The cherubim, often shown in western art as young, rotund angels, were more likely sphinx-like creatures as pictured in Egyptian and Mesopotamian sources.


 

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