1902 Encyclopedia > Architecture > Jewish Architecture: Temple of Herod

(Part 20)

Jewish Architecture (cont.)

Temple of Herod

In the time of Cyrus the temple was rebuilt, but this second temple was demolished by Herod, who constructed a new one of the same dimensions as that of Solomon. The outer house was 40 cubits long, and the Holy of Holies 20 cubits; but it was nearly double the height of the first temple. The porch also, instead of being the width of the house, 20 cubits, was 100 cubits long and 100 high, crossing the temple in the form of a T, and forming a magnificent façade much longer than that of St Paul’s in London. Bound the house were three stories of priests’ chambers. The court had three entrances on each side, which were called respectively the water-gates, the fire-gates and the oblation-gates.

But the peculiar difference between Herod’s temple and the earlier building was that there was, in front of the court last described, another of about the same size, surrounded by a colonnade and a chamber, which was the place, set apart for the women.

These courts were surrounded by an outer court, having a species of cloister on the north, east and west sides, composed of double row columns. On the south side was a similar construction a furlong in length. It consisted of three rows of columns, forming with the outer wall, three aisles -- the two outer being 30 feet wide and 50 feet high; the centre being 45 feet wide and 100 feet high -- no doubt with a species of clerestory. These columns are described to have been so large that it took three men with extended arms to span their circumference.

The outer court was elevated six steps above the basement level; the inner courts stood on a sort of plateau, with retaining walls and parapets round it, which was ascended by fourteen steps; this was on the level of the woman’s court.

Between this and the inner court was a gate called that of Nicanor, in front of which was semicircular flight of fifteen steps.

The temple itself was entered by a flight of twelve steps, so that its floor must have been between 20 and 30 feet above the ground-level of the surrounding city. The whole was built of the most beautiful white marble.

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