Filed under: Archeology, Baalbeck, Hiram Temple Builder, solomon's Temple
The pillars of Solomon’s Temple were cast by Chiram of Tyre, the talented son of a coppersmith of Naftali and a widow of Dan.
Approximately 86 kilometers northeast of the city of Beirut in eastern Lebanon stands the temple complex of Baalbek. Situated atop a high point in the fertile Bekaa valley, the ruins are one of the most extraordinary and enigmatic places of ancient times. Long before the Romans conquered the site and built their enormous temple of Jupiter, long even before the Phoenicians constructed a temple to the god Baal, there stood at Baalbek the largest stone block construction found in the entire world.
BaalBeck has enormous temples and large stone structures. This one shaped stone (thought to be the heaviest in the world) weighs around 1,000 tons. It was partially taken out of its quarry to be taken up to the Sun Temple, where other similar large stones are. But for some reason the whole effort was aborted. There is no evidence of how the stones were moved! There are no known lifting technologies even in current times that could raise and position the Baalbek stones given the amount of working space. The massive stones of the Grand Terrace of Baalbek are simply beyond the engineering abilities of any recognized ancient or contemporary builders. The great mystery of the ruins of Baalbek, and indeed one of the greatest mysteries of the ancient world, concerns the massive foundation stones beneath the Roman Temple of Jupiter. The courtyard of the Jupiter temple is situated upon a platform, called the Grand Terrace, which consists of a huge outer wall and a filling of massive stones. The lower courses of the outer wall are formed of huge, finely crafted and precisely positioned blocks. They range in size from thirty to thirty three feet in length, fourteen feet in height and ten feet in depth, and weigh approximately 450 tons each. Nine of these blocks are visible on the north side of the temple, nine on the south, and six on the west (others may exist but archaeological excavations have thus far not dug beneath all the sections of the Grand Terrace). Above the six blocks on the western side are three even larger stones, called the Trilithon, whose weight exceeds 1000 tons each. These great stones vary in size between sixty-three and sixty-five feet in length, with a height of fourteen feet six inches and a depth of twelve feet. Another even larger stone lies in a limestone quarry a quarter of a mile from the Baalbek complex. Weighing an estimated 1200 tons, it is sixty-nine feet by sixteen feet by thirteen feet ten inches, making it the single largest piece of stonework ever crafted in the world. Called the Hajar el Gouble, the Stone of the South, or the Hajar el Hibla, the Stone of the Pregnant Woman, it lays at a raised angle with the lowest part of its base still attached to the quarry rock as though it were almost ready to be cut free and transported to its presumed location next to the other stones of the Trilithon.
Baalbeck is a stronghold of Hizbollah, thankfully the ruins were not bombed in the wars (as far as I know). Nearby there are Marijuana fields. They have been there since before Hizbollah evolved.
The Phoenicians settled in Baalbeck as early as 2000 BC and built their first temple dedicated to the God Baal, the Sun God, from which the city got its name. 19th century Bible archaeologists connected Baalbeck to the “Baalgad” mentioned in Joshua 11:17. The earliest forms of worship usually reflected ancient animistic beliefs and developed around distinctive natural features like unusual rock outcrops, crevices in rocks and springs. High places also developed special significance as the dwelling place of God, which in Mesopotamia crystallised in the form of a ziggurat with a sanctuary on top. These influences are evident in the earliest religious structure at Baalbek, where the place of veneration was located on a tel on the hill that defined the western boundary of the town. The sacred site itself was situated in a natural crevice about 50 metres deep, which was difficult of access and reserved for high priests only. It is not known when this site was first used, but it was very ancient. In about 1200 BCE the need for greater public participation apparently was felt, because a raised stone court about 230 metres square was built with a surrounding stone wall to create a sanctuary, which had a sacrificial altar in the centre, connected to the natural crevice by a vertical shaft. Access to the sanctuary was gained by a stairway at the eastern end, flanked by two massive stone towers. The arrangement of the sanctuary was typical of the cult terraces associated with many temples in Syria and Israel, which had stone tables of offering near the sacrificial altar. The inner court, or court of the priests that was in front of King Solomon’s temple, which was constructed about 250 years after the sanctuary at Baalbek, served the same purpose although its brazen altar, brazen sea and brazen lavers were much more elaborate.Biblical passages (I Kings, IX: 17-19) mention the name of King Solomon in connection with a place that may be ancient Baalbek (“And Solomon built Gezer and Beth-Horon, the lower, and Baalath and Tadmor in the wilderness”). When David was chosen king and, thereafter, Solomon; they were in need of artisans, architects, craftsmen, builders and building material especially wood and precious metals to build a temple and palace. The best known and most gifted people to fulfill the kings’ needs were the Phoenicians. Hence, both kings sought and received Phoenician know-how and materials. The Phoenician king Hiram of Tyre was born in 989 BC. He ruled from 970-936 BC. He established friendly relations with David and his son Solomon, kings of the combined kingdoms of Judah and Israel. Hiram built a palace for David and two palaces and a temple for Solomon. A vast amount of information is given in the Bible about these. 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)
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