Museum of Freemasonry - Masonic Library
Lecture delivered by Bro. Rabbi H.M. Sanger, O.B.E., Ph.D., D.D.

When in Jerusalem, two years ago, I saw the deep excavations at the edge of the paved area surrounding the Dome of the Rock (Mosque of Omar). The exciting thought immediately came to me: at long last we shall be able to look upon the very stones of Solomon's Temple.

However, in spite of two years of continuous excavation by Prof. Benjamin Mazar of the Hebrew University, mostly elements of the Temple, which Herod built, have been found. Finds included cisterns, baths, and enough material to allow a reconstruction of the southwestern corner of the Temple mount. Finds from the end of the first Temple period have come to light in the fill (millo), namely, the rubble used as a foundation or undergirding of the walls.  Finds is mainly pottery, some of them with handles bearing the royal seal. Buildings of much later date, belonging to the Roman and Byzantine periods, have been found preserved up to the height of the second storey.

Dr. Kathleen Kenyon, of the British School of Archaeology in Jerusalem, said in 1365: "Not a single stone of Solomon's Temple has so far been identified". Mystery? Error? Neither. We are confronted with the results of an all-too-frequent ancient practice. In the erection of new buildings, particularly when those buildings were intended to be imposing, valuable fragments and materials from earlier buildings,  either disused or destroyed, were incorporated. We do know that  many  early  Christian Churches  in  Palestine  used materials from synagogues, and other Jewish buildings, quite freely, and this practice is not limited to the Middle East.

It was universal. Many of the early Churches in Rome include material plundered from Pagan Temples and public buildings of the same city in earlier times. It is extraordinary that archaeology (the study of ancient things) is one of the younger sciences and not quite 200 years old. It has already established that people have lived in Palestine since the Chalcolithic period, roughly 1500 years before Abraham in our reckoning, 3,000 years before our present era. Again, Dr. Kenyon, when evaluating her 1953 expedition to Jericho, declared that Jericho, is by far the oldest city in the world and about 7000 years old.

Against this background David and Solomon are very! recent figures. If we are particularly interested in Jerusalem, and especially in the Temple that stood there, we should say that David acquired the site, Aravnah ­Jebusite, and Solomon was the builder. If, we only read the Bible records somewhat superficially, we are in danger of under estimating both David and Solomon. What David's name really was (Dop--Beloved) is not entirely certain The word "David" according to results of the excavations at Man in Syria (1933) may have been a designation, not a proper name. At Mari which was the caravan centre at the time of Abraham the word "Davidum" was found several times appearing on clay tablets to denote a commander or a general and this was precisely the lifetime activity of David, the second King of Israel.

David was a man of many talents--soldier, musician, and poet. He has made a lasting impression upon the imagination of Jews and, through the Hebrew Bible, upon history. He established a kingdom that reached from the Orontes River to the Gulf of Aqubah--a territory approximately 400 miles long. Dr. Kenyon has pointed out that the strength of the Fortress City of Jebus, which occupied the site of Jerusalem at the time of David, was that it had access to a spring outside the city walls. A maze of tunnels was connected with this spring; the most famous is known today as the Siloam tunnel, dating from approximately 700 B.C. The Jebusites obtained water from this spring of Gihon in times of danger, and David's general, Joal, very probably discovered the tunnel and entered the city by this route. It is alleged that similar tunnels were rediscovered by the Israelis in very recent times and utilized for the entry of their forces into Jerusalem.

One need only remember that Professor Yigal Yadin, Chief of Staff of the Israeli Army, is, in his civilian occupation, Professor of Archaeology at the University of Jerusalem. He is known as the co­discoverer of some of the Dead Sea Scrolls and as the leader of the excavation of Masada. The significance of the extension of David's rule to the Gulf of Aqubah was both strategic and economic.  Important iron and copper deposits were situated in that region. Formerly, the possession of iron had made the Philistines an important power in the entire region.  It now ensured the power of David's kingdom in similar fashion. Although Dr. Kenyon concludes that David’s successors have destroyed most of the town, she nevertheless assumes “One can, however. hazard a guess that David's Jerusalem was not very grand.

The origins of David himself, were simple, a shepherd turned warrior. David was much too busy with his conquests to spend time on town building. One may suspect that Jerusalem remained unimpressive. The grandeur of Jerusalem came with Solomon". The era of David was an era of profound changes. The people of Israel were being transformed from nomadic shepherds into city dwellers. Their country accordingly also changed from a place of shepherds and farmers to a centre of trade and industry. These economic changes also meant a partial abandonment of simpler ways of living and uncomplicated social relationships. The disappearance of the old social and moral order evoked the denunciation of the prophets who often reminded the people of the simple & straightforward life of the desert.

I would like to include here a reference to Dr. Nelson Glueck, a great living archaeologist and historian. In association with Professor Aibright, he early became was active in excavation in Palestine. He was Director of the American School of Oriental Research in Jerusalem at varying periods between 1932 and 1947. He was Field Director of the Oriental Research in Baghdad, 1942 - 47. Dr. Glueck discovered some thousand ancient sites in Transjordan and over 500 in the Negev in Southern Israel. He  was the discoverer of King Solomon's copper mines in the Wadi Arabah and Solomon's seaport on the Red Sea at Etzion Geber, which had been buried for almost 2500 years.

In his book, "Rivers in the Desert", Professor Glueck describes the achievements of Solomon--" Not only was he a great ruler of legendary wisdom, and a highly successful merchant prince and shipping magnate. He was also a copper king of the first rank who transformed Israel into an industrial power". The elaborate copper Smelter and manufacturing centre constructed by him at Etzion Geber is the biggest that has thus far been discovered. It is proof of Solomon's farsightedness that he did not ignore the southland of Israel as useless desert, but that, on the contrary, he used it for his copper and iron mining as well as for smelting, manufacturing, and as a key transport centre.

Domination of the Negev and the Gulf of Aqubah was then as important as it is today. It meant access to land and sea routes, which led to the spices and gold and other precious goods of Arabia, Africa and India. Dr. Glueck discovered that at Tell-el- Kheleifeh the architects of Solomon utilized the prevailing winds to furnish natural draught, and Bessemer's principle, which was to be discovered almost 3000 years later, was already used in the copper smelters of Solomon. Solomon built ships at Etzion Geber, which imported gold and exotic goods from East Africa or Somaliland, no doubt in exchange for copper ingots and copper tools manufactured at the Gulf of Aqubah.

As though to emphasise the momentous significance of these discoveries, by merest accident one of Dr. Glueck's Arab foremen handed him, after long haggling, a signet ring found at this dig. Dr. Glueck gave him all the silver and paper money that he had in his pocket, approximately $50.00. The foreman protested: "I can't possibly take all that money from you". Dr Glueck assured him that his find was worth a good reward. This proved to be correct, as it was a signet ring of King Jotham of Judab (740-36).



The sea trade based on Etzion Geber at the time of Solomon coincided with the rise of the kingdom of Sheba in southern Arabia. Its capital. Marib, was excavated only in 1951.  Its prosperity was based on a big darn which collected rain water from a wide area. A system of irrigation canals then distributed the water to establish an extraordinary fertile area. Sheba was the "land of spices" for 1500 years until the dam burst. Once the dam was destroyed, the desert did the rest. However, in Solomon's day, the kingdom of Sheba exported its fruits and spices along the famous Incense Road from Marib to the Gulf: of Aqubah. Solomon and his kingdom blocked access to the Mediterranean world.

NOW that we appreciate the importance of Sheba at the time of Solomon, we  have  a  new understanding  of  the  Biblical references to the famous meetings between Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. There is little doubt that they represented a trade pact between two regions that could supply essential requirements to one another. If the Queen of Sheba gave to Solomon gold, spices, and precious stones, we may take it for granted that copper and iron products from the Arabah and Etzion Geber were traded by Solomon.

Masons are familiar with Hiram of Tyre. Solomon requested his help in the building of the Temple. The Phoenicians were people of many skills. Among their outstanding developments was their craftsmanship in masonry, ivory and bronze. The Israelites themselves, having so recently been shepherds and farmers, were deficient in these skills. Not only the Temple in Jerusalem, but also the buildings of the later kings, Omri and Ahab, in Samaria, benefited from Phoenician craftsmanship.  In fact, the excavations at Samaria are our only source of information about the outward appearance, which Solomon's Temple probably had. Hiram of Tyre sent in sailors and shipbuilders, as well as masons and copper smelters and workers. There is little doubt that Yachin and Boaz, the two brass columns in the Temple, were a demonstration of the wealth and achievements of the copper king, Solomon.

We may now, however, add to his many gifts his ability to use foreign craftsmen and other ski1ls, which is such a feature of modern life all over the world. It is now believed that the famous  "Stables of Solomon" at Megiddo were actually constructed at a somewhat later stage and possibly by King Ahab of Israel, 876-853. (Kathleen Kenyoni Yigal Yadin ). Dr. Kenyon has pointed to the resemblance between the divisions within Solomon's Temple and a familiar Semetic plan. The excavations at Hazor show a very similar division of forecourt, main hall and Holy of Holies. Significantly, there are two big columns flanking the entrance into the main hall, the same pattern as Yachin and Boaz of a later age. (Same columns at Marib).

One of the well-known Jewish Legends about King Solomon relates that he had a ring enabling him to recognize the language of birds and beasts. An archaeologist is in many ways a similar creature; he understands the language of inanimate things-of stones, fragments of pottery, even of pieces of metal, parts of women’s ornaments, and the like. The discovery of the copper mines of King Solomon was due to the observant eye of Dr. Glueck. Who noticed in the sand dunes near the Red Sea fishhooks and nails, the sand in the vicinity occasionally was of a greenish shade. To the archaeologist, these were clues leading to a great discovery. The inanimate not only speaks to the understanding listener, it tells whole stones.

Jim Hoppitt DEO