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hundred wives and three hundred concubines must have been a scandal and a burden for which the nation was not prepared. The pomp in which he lived presupposes a change in the government itself, even to an absolute monarchy and a grinding despotism, fatal to the liberties which the Israelites had enjoyed under Saul and David. The predictions and warnings of Samuel were realized for the first time in the reign of Solomon, so that wealth, prosperity, and luxury were but a poor exchange for that ancient religious ardor and intense patriotism which had led the Hebrew nation to victory over surrounding idolatrous nations. The heroic ages of Jewish history passed away when ships navigated by Phonician sailors brought gold from Ophir and silver from Tarshish, and did not return until the Maccabees rallied the hunted and decimated tribes of Israel against the armies of the Syrian kings.
Solomon's peaceful and prosperous reign of forty years was, however, favorable to one grand enterprise which David had longed to accomplish, but to whom it was denied. This was the building of the Temple, for so long a time identified with the glory of Jerusalem, and common interest in which might have bound the twelve tribes together but for the excessive taxation which the extravagance and ostentation of the monarch had rendered necessary.
We can form but an inadequate idea of the magnificence of this Temple from its description in the sacred annals. An edifice which taxed the mighty resources of Solomon and consumed the spoils of forty years' successful warfare, must have been in that age without a parallel in splendor and beauty. If the figures are not exaggerated, it required the constant labors of ten thousand men in the mountains of Lebanon alone to cut down and hew the timber, and this for a period of eleven years. Of ordinary laborers there were seventy thousand; and of those who worked in the quarries and squared the stones there were eighty thousand more, besides overseers. It took three years to prepare the foundations. As Mount Moriah, on which the Temple was built, did not furnish level space enough, a wall of solid masonry was erected on the eastern and southern sides nearly three hundred feet in height, the stones of which, in some instances, were more than twenty feet long and six feet thick, so perfectly squared that no mortar was required. The buried foundations for the courts of the Temple and the vast treasure-houses still remain to attest the strength and solidity of the work, seemingly as indestructible as are the pyramids of Egypt, and only paralleled by the uncovered ruins of the palaces of the Cæsars on the Palatine Hill at Rome, which fill all travellers with astonishment. Vast cisterns also had to be hewn in the rocks to
supply water for the sacrifices, capable of holding ten millions of gallons. The Temple proper was small compared with the Egyptian temples, or with mediæval cathedrals; but the courts which surrounded it were vast, enclosing a quadrangle larger than the area on which St. Peter's Church at Rome is built. It was, however, the richness of the decorations and of the sacred vessels and the altars for sacrifice, which consumed immense quantities of gold, silver, and brass, that made the Temple especially remarkable. The treasures alone which David collected were so enormous that we think there must be errors in the calculation, — thirteen million pounds Troy of gold, and one hundred and twenty-seven million pounds of silver,—an amount not easy to estimate. But the plates of gold which overlaid the building, and the cherubim or symbolical winged figures, the precious woods, the rich hangings and curtains of crimson and purple, the brazen altars, the lamps, the sacred vessels of solid gold and silver, the elaborate carvings and castings, the rare gems, — these all together must have required a greater expenditure than is seen in the most famous temples of Greece or Asia Minor, whose value and beauty chiefly consisted in their exquisite proportions and their marble pillars and figures of men or animals. But no representation of man, no statue to the Deity, was seen in the Temple of Solomon ;
no idol or sacred animal profaned it. There was no symbol to indicate even the presence of Jehovah, whose dwelling-place was in the heavens, and whom the heaven of heavens could not contain. There were rites and sacrifices, but these were offered to an unseen divinity, whose presence was everywhere, and who alone reigned as King of Kings and Lord of Lords, forever and forever. The Temple, however, with its courts and porticos, its vast foundations of stones squared in distant quarries, and the immense treasures everywhere displayed, impressed both the senses and the imagination of a people never distinguished for art or science. And not only so, but Fergusson says: “The whole Mohammedan world look to it as the foundation of all architectural knowledge, and the Jews still recall its glories, and sigh over their loss with a constant tenacity unmatched by that of any other people to any other building of the ancient world.” Whether or not we are able to explain the architecture of the Temple, or are in error respecting its size, or the amount of gold and silver expended, or the number of men employed, we know that it was the pride and glory of that age, and was large enough, with its enclosures, to contain a representation of five millions of people, the heads of all the families and tribes of the nation, such as were collected together at its dedication.
As the great event of David's reign was the removal of the Ark to Jerusalem, so the culminating glory of Solomon was the dedication of the Temple he had built to the worship of Jehovah. The ceremony equalled in brilliancy the glories of a Roman triumph, and infinitely surpassed them in popular enthusiasm. The whole population of the kingdom, — some four or five millions, — or their picked representatives, came to Jerusalem to witness or to take part in it. “And as the long array of dignitaries, with thousands of musicians clothed in white, and the monarch him. self arrayed in pontifical robes, and the royal household in embroidered mantles, and the guards with their golden shields, and the priests bearing the sacred but tattered tabernacle, with the ark and the cherubim, and the altar of sacrifice, and the golden candlesticks and table of shew bread, and the brazen serpent of the wilderness and the venerated tables of stone on which were engraved by the hand of God himself the ten commandments,” — as this splendid procession swept along the road, strewed with flowers and fragrant with incense, how must the hearts of the people have been lifted up! Then the royal pontiff arose from the brazen scaffold on which he had seated himself, and amid clouds of incense and the smoke of burning sacrifice offered unto God the tribute of national praise, and implored His divine pro