Tuesday, September 9, 2008

SOLOMON'S TEMPLE - The Bronze Castings of Jachin and Boaz Pillars.

By W.Bro. Harvey Lovewell, Secretary WHJ Mayers Lodge of Research U.G.L. of Queensland, AU.


I received a letter from a brother who is getting on in years and looks forward to receiving the newsletter of the W.H.J. Mayers Lodge of research, The Lectern.

In his letter .he asked for information on how the two pillars of Solomon's Temple, Boaz and Jachin, could have been constructed.

pillarST02.jpg - 26838 Bytes

This request prompted the reply to him that I did not know, and looking through our books, I was unable to find or give him an answer. This, then, started my research into this subject, and the research has taken me all over and has touched onto subjects that were to appear to have no bearing on the subject of the research. Many new questions have arisen from the initial question, the answers to which are a matter of conjecture; some I have been able to answer and others for the purpose of this paper will remain unanswered.

There are many translations and interpretations of the books of the bible many of which do not agree with each other. For the purpose of this paper I have chosen to use The Jerusalem Bible. As my copy, has a complete set of annotations for explanation where needed, so all references to the Bible are from that translation.

Where I have found conflict I have described the alternatives and leave you to make up your own mind on the matter.

I therefore, present to you my ideas on how our forefathers may have built large bronze objects like the Pillars and the sea.

The Pillars.

The pillars Jachin and Boaz, which were placed at the entrance to King Solomon's Temple, are mentioned in many writings.

In the Bible, 1 Kings, 7.21; and in 2 Chronicles, 3.17; and many references in Masonic Writings. The Pillars Jachin and Boaz are also mentioned in An Apocalyptic Cyclopaedia of Advanced Magical Arts and Alternate Meanings 2nd Edition 1996, where they are given the meanings, strength and beauty among others.

In the annotations to the Jerusalem Bible, referring to the pillars, it states the two names are obscure: possibly, “it is firm " and "it is strong ".

Albright in his book; Archaeology and the Religion of Israel [i] page 139, in discussing the work of R.B.Y. Scott, states “that the names of the two columns Jachin and Boaz. Which stood before the Temple of Solomon, represent the first words of dynastic oracles, which were inscribed upon them. The Jachin formula may have been "Yahweh will establish (Yakin) thy throne forever” (or the like) and the Boaz formula may have run "in the strength of Yahweh shall the king rejoice or something similar.

Further on page 144 he says when discussing pillars, “some of these pairs of columns were used to support the roof of the portico, in megaron fashion, others were free standing. Without constructional relation to the building. There can he no reasonable doubt that the pillars Jachin and Boaz were of the latter type.”-

Colin Breckon in his paper, The Building of Solomon’s Temple [ii] says, on page 8, when referring to Alex Horne; Boaz could be a corruption of a now obsolete word Bose or Boss which at one time meant hollow.

Other writers have referred to them as "cosmic Pillars" "like the pillars of Hercules" and as representing the twin mountains between which the sun was believed to emerge each morning. They have also been described as cult objects for burning incense.


Much of what we know of our ancestors from the time before Christ can be attributed to the study of ancient man as he lived in what could be called the cradle of civilization. That is the middle east, that area described by Dr Werner Keller in his book ”The Bible as History” [iii] as the Fertile Crescent, reaching from the Persian Gulf to the Red Sea encompassing the area of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers through to the Mediterranean Sea.

Probably the most researched documents of this area, is the collection of books that we know as the Bible, especially the Old Testament which tells stories of people who lived then, and the places they lived in as well as aspects of their culture. The Historical Books remain the primary witness to the culture of Israel and Judah. Recent scholars however refer to these as theological mythology. The text, almost a polemic (dispute one side wanting to force its view on the other) of the southern tribes against the religiosity of the northern tribes and other neighbouring peoples, was composed about 800 to 600 BCE and is written in part to chronicle the Deity’s actions in history. This view of the stories of events as perceived and researched by the writers, this can be seen in the differing versions of the one event. There is controversy in using these texts for historical reconstruction, nevertheless using these writings and the findings of archaeology; one can obtain some idea of the culture and technology of the times.

The part of the Bible that set in motion the research for this paper is 1 Kings 7,13:26 together with 2 Chronicles, 3-4. This tells the story of a bronze worker, Huram-Abi, (Hiram Abif) who came from Tyre, an island on the coast of what is now Lebanon, but in those days was Phoenicia. He was employed on the construction of King Solomon's Temple. Huram-Abi is described, in 2 Chronicles 2,14, as the son of a Danite woman by a Tyrian father. He is skilled in the use of gold, silver, bronze, iron, stone, wood, scarlet, violet, fine linen, crimson, in engraving of all kinds, and in the execution of any designs suggested to him,

In Kings he is described as “a widow’s son from the tribe of Naph-ta-li” Where he is from will not affect this work. He really sounds like a versatile and clever worker. The purpose here, however is to concentrate on his bronze work.

To quote from, I Kings 7, 15 He cast two bronze pillars, the height of one pillar was eighteen cubits and a cord of twelve long gave the measurement of girth. As was also second pillar.

In Chronicles the pillars are described as being “30 and 5 cubits high!”

To get an idea of what the exact length a cubit was, in itself, not an easy task, as there are cubits and cubits. World Book Encyclopaedia, [iv] says in reference to a cubit It was based on the length of a man 's arm from the tip of the middle finger to the elbow. No one knows when this measurement was established. The Egyptian cubit was 21 inches, the Roman cubit was 17.5 inches, and the Hebrew cubit was 17.58 inches. In the English system the cubit is 18 inches. My measurement is 19.75 inches or 50cm. says in reference to a cubit It was based on the length of a man 's arm from the tip of the middle finger to the elbow. No one knows when this measurement was established. The Egyptian cubit was 21 inches, the Roman cubit was 17.5 inches, and the Hebrew cubit was 17.58 inches. In the English system the cubit is 18 inches. My measurement is 19.75 inches or 50cm.

The People's New Testament 1891 [v] says A cubit, somewhat more than one foot nine inches English. That is 21 inches or 53 cms .

From Biblical weights and measures as described by The First Church of the Nazarene [vi] a cubit is 50 centimetres.

In the Jerusalem Bible the cubit is given as 18 inches or 45 centimetres. As already stated I will use the Jerusalem Bible, as my reference, as to what the truth is, academic argument will not change the concept I am trying to develop.

I will therefore use this measurement, which is a cubit of 45 cms. The metric measurements of the pillars, from 1 Kings 7, 15 are, eight point one meters in height and a circumference of five point four meters. Traditionally we are told that the pillars were hollow, I have been unable to find out if this is true or not. For the pillars to be solid the mass would be enormous. In my research it has also been suggested by some scholars that the pillars could have been built of timber and then gilded.

Colin Breckon in his paper, The Building of Solomon’s Temple [vii] says, on page 8, when referring to Alex Horne; Boaz could be a corruption of a now obsolete word Bose or Boss which at one time meant hollow.

This hypothesis would make a lot of sense and solve many problems. In spite of all this I will assume that the pillars were cast bronze and hollow. Also in my research some scholars have suggested that the pillars could have been cast in sections each fitting into the other, similar to the construction of a stone pillar. This theory has a lot going for it, as the problems of handling large quantities of molten metal would be reduced to more manageable proportions, as would the transport of the castings.

Bronze cauldrons dated to 100 B.C.E. with a capacity of 600 litres have been found. These were made in segments and joined together with rivets.

In addition he made a capital to top the pillar. This was five cubits, or 2.25 meters high, and this was decorated around the outside with filigree and pomegranates. I will not consider these capitals as part of this paper although the treatment of them would be similar to the other castings.

He also made other large castings. I Kings 7, 23 He made the Sea of cast metal, ten cubits, from rim to rim, circular in shape and five cubits high; a cord of thirty cubits long gave the measurement of its girth. That is a bowl 4.5 meters in diameter and 2.25 meters deep.

Twelve cast bronze oxen, three for each side of a square, supported this bowl. My research has revealed that there is no agreement on the shape of The Sea. A Zuidhof [viii]

In his computer program The Molten Sea, states that the Sea is Cup shaped. The program tries to answer the claim that the Bible says that pi is equal to 3.

In Asimov's Guide to the Bible, Isaac Asimov remarked:

“The exact function of the ‘molten sea’ is not stated, though it seems most likely that it was a container for water used in the various rituals.

“The interesting point is that its upper rim seems to be circular in shape with a diameter of ten cubits and a circumference of thirty cubits. This is impossible, for the ratio of the circumference to the diam eter (a ratio called ‘pi’ by mathematicians) is given here as 30/10 or 3, whereas the real value of pi is an unending decimal which begins 3.14159 . . . If the molten sea were really ten cubits in diameter it would have to be just under thirty-one and a half cubits in circumference.

“The explanation is, of course, that the Biblical writers were not mathematicians or even interested in mathematics and were merely giving approximate figures. Still, to those who are obsessed with the notion that every word in the Bible is infallible (and who know a little mathematics) it is bound to come as a shock to be told that the Bible says that the value of pi is 3.”

Consider the following possibilities, which I offer for your consideration.

The shape of the following illustrations equates to the description in the scripture.

The first is oval shaped.

The layout consists of two semicircles with diameters of 8.76 cubits, separated by a rectangle 1.24 cubits wide.

At its widest point, A to B, this Sea measures 8.76 + 1.24 = 10.00 cubits from brim to brim. Its circumference is (8.76 x pi) + 1.24 + 1.24 = 30.00 cubits.

Is this oval the best solution to the problem? Probably not. Maybe we can consider a circular Sea but to look at it in three dimensions. We know that it had a rim, so it was somewhat narrower just under the rim.

Therefore, it could easily have measured 10.00 cubits from brim to brim, yet have been only 9.55 cubits wide at the waist, where “it took a line thirty cubits long to go round it” because 9.55 x pi = 30.00.

Josephus [ix] Was originally known as Joseph Ben-Matthias, the commander of the Jewish insurgents at Joppa in the time of Emperor Nero. He changed sides and went over to the Romans changing his name to Josephus. Writing in his work, The Antiquities of the Jews says “Solomon also cast a brazen sea, the figure of which was a hemisphere”. I have assumed therefore that the sea, was a hemisphere or one half of a sphere and my calculations reflect this. The argument as to the exact shape of the sea will not change the hypothesis I am trying to develop. Singer et al [x] page 633 when commenting on the casting of the bronze articles mentioned in Kings and Chronicles says; it has been estimated that the Brazen Sea alone weighed 200 tons. I will dispute this statement later on. One can see however, that we are dealing with large castings and heavy quantities of metal,

These must be handled and melted and handled again. In 2 Chronicles 4, 17:18. The king made them by the process of sand casting in the Jordan area between Succoth and Zeredan Solomon made all these articles in great quantities, no reckoning being made of the weight of the bronze.

The Castings. Their Size.

Let us now look at these castings and see what we can make of them.

How much bronze is in the pillar?

How much did it weigh?

We are told that the height is 8.1M and the circumference is 5.4M. The thickness of the pillar we are told is a hands breadth. My hands breadth is 97mm. However the Jerusalem Bible says that a hands breadth or palm is 72mm so I will use this value in my calculations. All calculations rounded to the nearest whole number.

The pillar’s circumference is, c=5.4M

Therefore the outside diameter will be o/s d = c / p

= 5.4/3.1416

We will call the outside diameter, D1 = 1.72M

And the inside diameter D2

Therefore the outside radius R1 = 1.72/2 =.86M

The inside diameter will be equal to the outside diameter minus the wall thickness of 72mm multiplied by two. (.144m) The outside radius Rl and inside radius R2 will be one half of the appropriate diameters. I will use the measurement of the radius to calculate the volume.

D2 = D1- .72x2 = 1.72-(.072x2) = 1.576m

Inside radius r2= 1.576/2 = .788m

Volume of pillar VP = v I of outside dimensions less v2 of core

vI = pr2 h, therefore v1 = 3.1416 x .86 x .86 x 8.1 = 19M 3 volume of outer cylinder

v2 = pr2 h, therefore v2 = 3.1416x.788x.788x8.1 = 16M3 volume of inner cylinder

VP = v1-v2 = 19 – 16 = 3M3 this is the volume of bronze in the pillar.

The weight of Bronze can vary dependent on the percentage of copper and other metals used in the alloying process. The variant will be a percentage plus or minus around 9 tons per cubic meter. We will therefore assume a weight of 9 tons per m3. It follows then that the weight of one pillar without the capital will be.

3 x 9 = 27 tons. (approx.)

If the pillar had been cast in sections, say 10 sections, each 81 cm long, then each would have weighed 2.7 tonnes, this is far more believable than one casting. The technology for melting and handling large amounts of molten metal and successfully casting same was just not available at this time in history. Even at 2.7 tonnes credibility is stretched.

My investigations and discussions with a Professor of Archeometallurgy brought the response of total disbelief that "the people of the Bronze age were able to cast bronze weighing tons".

Tylecote [xi] in his work The Coming of the Age of Iron discussing the size of castings, says in reference to the Chou dynasty (770 BCE) A bronze caldron found at Anyang in 1946: it weighted 1400kg and was about/ 1M across. Of course these may have been t/he product of good organization rather than large capacity smelting and melting.

Earlier I made mention of the Sea sometimes referred to as the Molten Sea or Brazen Sea. The size of which was 4.5m in diameter and 2.25m deep and a hands breadth in thickness. These measurements suggest that it is one half of a sphere.

We can therefore calculate both the volume of bronze and the capacity of the bowl. 1 Kings 7, 26. Tells us that it held two thousand baths. Chronicles tells us however, that the sea held 3000 baths. These inconsistencies I leave for each of you to consider. The measurements for liquids used in the Bible are the words seah, cor and bath. A cor is equal to 450 litres and a bath is one tenth of a Cor or 45 litres. However we have variations from this measurement as well.

The Peoples New Testament States The Bath, the tenth of the chomer, ( cor) or seven gallons and four pints and a half Using US gallons that's.28 litres, using imperial gallons that's 34 litres. One can assume that US gallons were used in this version.

According to the First Church of The Nazarene one Bath is equal to 22 litres.

All these translators seem to believe that their version is the correct one!!

The capacity of the Sea would then be equal to 2000x45 or 90000 litres, on the assumption that a bath, was in fact 45 litres.

On looking at this, it does not seem quite right as my swimming pool holds 67000 litres and is much bigger, we will see what the calculations tell us later .

On the other hand, if a bath is equal to 22litres then the capacity would be 2000x22 or 44000 litres, this is quite a deal different.

By calculation, the volume of a sphere is:

v = 4 x π x r3 ( π or pi =3.1416 & r = half d)


To calculate the volume of bronze that makes up the Sea therefore, we must find the volume of two spheres then subtract the inner from the outer, then divide by two as we want the volume of the bowl which we will assume is one half of a sphere, that is, the Sea. Whilst this may appear simplistic, as there could be variations in size due to ornamentation etc. for the purpose of this exercise the variations would be small and would not affect the ideas presented.

The volume of the outside sphere is vI, and the inside sphere is v2. However we need to find the volume of our basin, which is one half a sphere. T o do this we divide the volume of the sphere by 2 :

vI= 4 x 3.1416 x 2.25 x 2.25 x 2.25 = 48 m3 = 24m3

3 2

Again we are told that the Sea is a hands breadth in thickness so we must reduce the diameter .by two times 72mm that is 144mm. But our calculation uses the radius so we will reduce it by 72mm.

v2 = 4 x 3.1416 x 2.178 x 2.178 x 2.178 = 44m3 = 22m3 this is the capacity of the bowl

3 2

The volume of the metal in the Sea therefore is:

vI -v2 or 24 -22 = 2m3

As we have seen, the weight of bronze is 9 tons per m3, therefore its weight would be:-

2 x 9 = 18 tons

With reference, to the statement of Singer earlier. I cannot make the sea 200 tons given the availability of current data. His statement, I believe, is just a bad guess unless he took into account the mass of the water in it as well. Even so the capacity of the sea would also affect the total mass, given that one litre of water weighs 1kg.

The capacity of the Sea is calculated as follows. One cubic meter is equal to 1000 litres of water. The Sea's capacity would be, therefore 22m3 times 1000 or 22000 litres. Compare this with 90000 litres or indeed 44000 litres. One of the big problems associated with references in the Bible translations is the fact that the numbers do not add up. We must also remember that the writers were writing on their own perceptions and their limited knowledge.

We have read in Kings that the Sea held 2000 baths. If the calculations are correct, then a bath would be equal to 11litres. One can see the difficulties in determining the truth, when using ancient writings. As I do not know the truth and my research has shown that scholars in this area do not agree or are guessing. I leave these discrepancies for you to ponder

This big basin, used by the priests for ritual washing before sacrifices, symbolized the

Source of life, stood on the backs of twelve bronze oxen. The rim must have been four metres off the ground!

Bronze Making

Now we must try to answer the following questions. Where did these people get the ore? How did they smelt it? How did these people melt all this metal? Where did they do it? How did they make the moulds? How did they get the molten metal to the moulds? How did they get the finished product to the site? How did they erect the pillars and the sea?

To find answers to these questions we must look at what Archaeology tells us about early metal workings. Humans have used metals for only the last 12000 years, a much shorter time than the period which stone was used for tools, weapons and ornaments. The McGraw Hill " Encyclopaedia of Science and Technology [xii] tells us, The earliest datable finds of human-altered metal are small copper objects from sites in the Near East, including a pendant from Shanidar in Iraq dated around 9500 BC. Copper was used at this time in the Middle East and prehistoric Europe for jewellery and in ritual religious ceremony.

The first coins were made and used in Asia Minor in the early part of 7000 BCE. Smelting was discovered in the middle of 5000 BCE. At this time, trade in metals was taking place so metals not found naturally in one place were traded with those peoples who had them. Copper was available from the mines in the Arabah. Tin was traded with the British who mined it at Cornwall. Other metals as well as tin were alloyed, arsenic, antimony and lead each used for particular purposes. Knowledge of smelting led to the mixing of metals and the discovery that this alloying made a better metal than either of those mixed. Primitive bronze has been excavated and dated as far back as 3000 BCE.

As copper melts at a temperature of 1083°C, high heat was needed and a means of forcing air, to make the fire hotter, had to be invented. The furnace was developed.

A good example of these early furnaces was discovered at Timna, these were dated at between 1200 and 1400BC.

Ingots of copper have been found. Of the ingots that have been found, some have solidified in the furnace and others have been made by being poured into ox hide molds. These ingots weighed between 30 and 40 kg with a thickness of 4cm,

The production of bronze by mixing copper and tin was an established practice throughout the Eurasian landmass by 1500 BCE. In those times bronze was used mainly for weapons and cutting tools, swords, axes, spears, arrow heads, adzes and shields, although bowls and cauldrons were also made from bronze

To make bronze castings the following things are essential, ores, fuel, blast air and tools, furnaces and crucibles and have of course, a mold. Forbes in Metallurgy in Antiquity [xiii] says. The ores were mostly plentiful and of good quality in the ancien1 Near East and further but the fuel was often rather a problem. For the quantity and above all the quality of the fuel determine to a large extent the temperature attained in the furnace and this again is largely responsible for the possibility of working certain ores and of using certain processes. In other words the fuel determines to a certain degree the melting and smelting activities of the early smith.

The Problem of Fuel.

What then of this fuel problem? To overcome this problem smelting was done close to a supply of appropriate fuel. We are all aware of the desert nature of the areas we are discussing. Was this always so? R.J. Forbes,[xiv] says. It has been proven that the Romans used 21.8 kg wood to roast one kg of ore, and an additional 68.5 kg wood for smelting and refining (one third of the fuel was wood and the remainder charcoal). One kg charcoal has a calorific value equal to that of 90.2 kg wood. That’s burning an awful lot of wood.

One can assume that Hiram needed similar quantities. Studies done in similar climates have shown that one acre of land grew 125 trees and 900 kg of fuel were produced from each 40-year-old tree. A tree bearing area of .8 acre was required for each one ton of copper. In modern times we know that this area is rich in oil. Could these people have found on the surface quantities of pitch?

Writing in the Palestine Quarterly Menashe Har-Er [xv] states, Smelting and casting of the metal was usually done near the mines, and mainly in the vicinity of the sources of forest wood and apparently utilized the stands of Haloxylon persicum which were common in the region and reached heights of 3-5 meters these plants have almost completely disappeared today.

Stands of Quercus calliprinos a slow growing oak and Juniperus Photicia, a softwood

Juniper tree from altitudes of 1000 to 1600 meters reached heights of 10 meters and more, they grew in the western Edom Mountains and were cut and converted to charcoal and transported to the smelting sites by camel and donkey caravans.

Early smelting was carried out with a variety of primitive furnaces. This usually burnt charcoal, but other fuels were also burnt; including dung, date seeds brush etc.

The Furnace.

For the melting of scraps of metal in crucibles, usually a fired clay bowl, a ring of stones a pile of hot charcoal and a clay tuyere {pronounced “twee-yer” a ceramic tube) connected to a bellows are all that would be required.

Have you ever blown air on to a fire to get it going? This phenomenon no doubt gave man the idea to build bellows, to give more air at a greater pressure, the size of the bellows increasing to meet the need for greater pressure and heat to work larger quantities of metal. These are still in use in some parts of the world.

The melting of large quantities of metal is however another matter. This was probably done by using multiple furnaces, adjacent to the mold in the ground, with channels leading from each furnace into the mold between the furnaces. This would enable the quantity of molten metal needed for the pour to be cast before the metal solidified.

Werner Keller [xvi] describes an excavation that was made by Nelson Glueck in the 1940s at an area known as Wadi-el-Arabah. The excavation site at Ezion-geber, also known as Elath and today called Elat: In the middle of a square walled enclosure an extensive building came into view. The green discoloration on the walls left no doubt as to the purpose of the building, it was a blast furnace. The mud brick walls had two rows of openings. They were flues: a skilful system of air passages was included in the construction. The whole thing was a proper, up to date blast furnace, built in accordance with a principle that celebrated it resurrection in modern industry a century ago, as the Bessemer System. Flues and chimneys both lay along a north to south axis, for the incessant winds and storms from the Wadi-el- Arabah had to take the role of bellows.

A further description of this area comes from Nelson Glueck [xvii] he is writing about the excavation at Ezion-geber which was found buried at Tell el-Kheleifeh.What puzzled us greatly when we first commenced operation at Tell el-Kheleifeh was what seemed to us to be the particularly unfortunate location of the site. Situated in the center of the Arabah rift, which is banked on either side by high hills leading, respectively, into Arabia and the Sinai, it is open to the full fury of the almost constant winds that blow fiercely down the Wadi Arabah, as if forced through a wind tunnel and further on The very first building brought to light at the northwest corner of the mound turned out to be the largest and most elaborate smelter ever discovered in antiquity. Each of the walls of its rooms was pierced by two rows of carefully constructed apertures, which could only be flues. The upper rows opened into a system of transverse air channels utilising the winds blowing constantly from the north and northeast to fan the flames in the furnace rooms. The lower rows were intended to permit the gases formed in one chamber to penetrate into the second and so on and preheat its contents. It was easy to reconstruct the smelting process. The ores were given a preliminary "roasting" at the individual mining sites in the Wadi Arabah, and then brought for further smelting and refining at Ezion-geber. Layers of ore »ere placed between layers of lime in large, thick walled, pottery crucibles. Piles of charcoal from the wooded hills of Edom were packed all around them in the open furnace rooms of the smelter, with the fires being ignited in successive order at proper intervals of time.

The Arabah is an extension of the great rift valley that goes from Africa through the Red Sea the Gulf of Aqabar and on to the Dead Sea and Glueck [xviii] page 158 says in reference to the site of Ezion-geber and shelter under the lee of the hills from the fierce winds which blow down the center of the funnel like rift of the Wadi Arabah, The bronze workers used this wind to operate a natural blast for their furnaces, That was 3000 years ago, Today we use compressed air, In the same area were discovered smelting pots with a capacity of 14 cubic feet or 1.3m3, I believe the forgoing tells us how the bronze could have been produced and the metal melted prior to being placed into a mold.

Whilst this description gives some idea of where and how a furnace could operate this area is many kilometres from Jerusalem and may or may not have been the site for Solomon’s bronze work, scholars are still debating this. The site is also far away from where Succoth is believed to have been.

The Mould.

To make up the castings a mould is required to get the shape needed, be it the pillars, the sea, or any of the other articles previously mentioned, Man has used various molds in the past, an open mould made in stone and clay was common for such things as axe and arrowheads.

A two piece mould was used for more complex molds like sword handles. To make more elaborate shapes a method called the lost wax technique was used. This involved the forming of the desired shape in wax, then enclosing the wax model in fine clay, but leaving a small channel to the exterior, When the clay is heated the melted wax can be poured out; thus the clay becomes a hollow mould and molten metal can be poured into it, After it is cooled the, clay can be broken away and one is left with a metal copy of the original.

We however, must look at a mould of very much larger proportions. As previously mentioned, the Bible says that the castings were made by the process of sand casting.

Singer [xix] page 628, says that, moulding in clay was the principal process for casting in antiquity, I have given a description of a furnace found in the Arabah and how use was made of the prevailing winds to assist in the smelting. Singer [xx] continues on page 633 where he goes on to give us a description of the area and method of building these castings. The soil is a marl, with patches of clay. It is clear that the molds were actually excavated in one of these patches; there is no mention in the Hebrew text that any special clay was used. Such vast mo1ds could hardly have been constructed in any other way. This is only one small step beyond the method already used in Egypt and common elsewhere, of supporting clay molds by burying them in the ground before the furnace.

This would allow the molten metal to be poured direct from the smelter to the mould, with channels from several furnaces to different parts of the mold, to ensure an even distribution of the melt, Singer goes on with a description of the construction of the mold for the Sea or great bowl

In front of the furnace pit was dug. To an arm pivoted at its centre a template was attached, the outer edge being curved to the profile of the basin, so that when the arm swung around the pivot the template described the desired shape, Ropes probably of straw, were laid on the floor and up the sides of the pit, and then covered with well beaten clay and broken pots. The ropes provided vents for the escape of gases evolved when the molten metal was poured into the mold. The space between the walls and, the floor of the pit and the edge of the template was gradually filled up with more clay and broken bricks or pots, the template being moved round as required. The outermost quarter inch or so of the filling was of more finely textured clay suitable for modelling the decorative borders of the bowl, "like the brim of a cup the flower of a Lily ". The clay surface was allowed to dry slowly, cracks being stopped with clay. The construction of the core for the inner surface of the basin was now col1sidered; this core would be suspended within the mould, and only a handbreadth above it. A framework of metal supports would be placed to keep it in position, After drying, the mould and channels leading to it from the furnaces would be well baked, and heated with charcoal so that the metal would not become chilled. When the glowing coals had been swept out, the sections of the inner mould were firmly fixed in register, lest it should float upon the molten metal. The mold was now ready for the metal.

The method of casting the pillars would have been similar, These could have been made vertical with the outside part done first with whatever decoration desired, The core could then

have been built up in the middle with the appropriate handbreadth left for the molten bronze, However, if the mold were the full 8.1 metres the pressure of the molten metal at the base together with its depth would make a successful cast unlikely, In addition it would be difficult to get the melt in fast enough for even solidifying. When solidified they could have been dug up, Even so it would still have been a major task to lift, Possibly it was done with a timber framework and levers, no doubt there was plenty of manpower. It appears to me that, if the hypothesis that the pillars were cast in sections is accepted, then the construction of the mould or moulds would have to be easier there would be less metal in the melt and handling would not be so hard. Stone pillars were built this way for the same handling reasons.

We now must look at how these huge castings were taken to the Temple, From the map of Israel it can be seen that the distance from the smelters located at Succoth, which we have been told is situated at Tell Deir AlIa is a considerable distance.

In addition to this Werner Keller, [xxi] on page 202 tells us that:- At Tell Deir AlIa in, Transjorden where the River Jabbok leaves the hills six miles before it joins the Jordan the expedition discovered traces of Succoth, the Israelite city dating to the days of Joshua this is adjacent to the Wadi-el-Arabah.

Goods in those days were transported on the backs of asses or camels. Horses and chariots were well known, but the horses were not the heavy draught horses of today. They were fairly light horses, and with the primitive harness in use at that time, pulling a fairly light chariot with one or two men in it was probably as much as they could do. Thus, we can forget about drays, heavy carts and the like. We must therefore, question just how big a load could have been moved!

Asses and camels had been used by the Israelites and others for transporting goods for hundreds of years. I believe it safe to assume that asses were used to transport the castings from the foundry to Jerusalem. I don't know the carrying capacity of an ass, but it probably does not exceed l00 kilograms. Further, this load would have to be in two equal parts -one each side of the ass. So we get back to castings of no more than 50 kilograms -about the maximum load of a single furnace.

Then there is the biblical statement act that the casting was done in the plain of the Jordan River, between Succoth and Zarethan. (see earlier map)These are in the Rift Valley, about 35 kilometres from Jerusalem, and about 25 kilometres from where the Jordan enters the Dead Sea. The Dead Sea is about 1290 feet (393 metres) below sea level. The foundry was probably some 1100 to 1150 feet (335 to 350 metres) below sea level. Jerusalem is about 2700 feet (822 metres) above sea level. So transporting the castings involved a climb of some 3800 feet (1158 metres) through rugged country, where the road consisted of a dirt track probably not much wider in many places than the space taken by a man leading a loaded ass. This, I believe, would absolutely preclude the use of any form of wheeled transport for goods being taken to or from the foundry. So again we get back to asses each carrying two castings of not more than about 50 kilograms each. Bronze, when cast, takes the form of the mould very accurately.

It would have relatively easy for the artisans of King Solomon' s time to make moulds sufficiently accurate for the resultant castings to fit together closely. The pillar or other object thus formed would appear to the casual observer to be one piece

We know that King Solomon had many horses and chariots, I Kings 10.26:29 Solomon built up a force of chariots and horses; he had one thousand four hundred chariots and twelve thousand horses; one could ask given the above could chariots have been use to transport the castings given the hypothesis that the castings were small then joined together. Were these objects constructed and raised gradually in place? Were they assembled then lifted?

There are many theories, as to how heavy objects were raised. The pillars had to be lifted onto their base and stood up, then fixed down. Levers could be used to raise them a small amount, then wedges and blocks inserted and the process repeated until the required height was achieved. The construction of heavy timber scaffolding at the side of the object to be raised allowing lifting by cables affixed to levers. Whatever the method used it would have been laborious. We can only wonder at the ingenuity of our forefathers.


Trying to get at the exact truth of what happened all that time ago is difficult. A lot of

Assumptions must be made. I don't know how close this paper is, to what was done by the artisans of King Solomon but as a suggestion to what was done; it is probably as good as any.

I have quoted from past scholars who have seen and worked the sites of antiquity, this I have not done. I would most certainly like to, as the research for this paper has filled my mind with countless questions to which, I would like to find the answers. I hope that this lecture has also given you the desire to find out more.


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