From: Ages in Chaos
by Immanuel Velikovsky
The following pages were taken from “Ages in Chaos” , pp. 155 - 163 and authored by Immanuel Velikovsky, 19th printing by Doubleday & Company, Inc., Copyright, 1952 by Immanuel Velikovsky, Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 52-5224, ISBN: 0385-04897-1.
The Vessels and Furniture of Solomon's Temple
The treasures brought by Thutmose III from Palestine [Israel] are reproduced on a wall of the Karnak temple. Photo1
The bas-relief displays in ten rows the legendary wealth of Solomon. There are pictures of various precious objects, furnishings, vessels, and utensils of the Temple, of the palace, probably also of the shrines to foreign deities. Photo2 Under each object a numerical symbol indicates how many of that kind were brought by the Egyptian king from Palestine: each stroke means one piece, each arch means ten pieces, each spiral one hundred pieces of the same thing. If Thutmose III had wanted to boast and to display all his spoils from the Temple and the Palace of Jerusalem by showing each object separately instead of using this number system, a wall a mile long would have required and even that would not have sufficed. In the upper five rows the objects of gold are presented; in the next rows silver things are mingled with those of gold and precious stones, objects of bronze and semiprecious stones are in the lower rows.
Wealth accumulated by a nation during hundreds of years of industrious work and settled life in Palestine, spoils gathered by Saul and David in their military expeditions, loot of the Amalekite Auaris, earnings from the trade between Asea and Africa, gold from Ophir, the gifts of the queen Sheba-Hatshepsut, all became the booty of Thutmose III. The work of Huram, of the tribe of Naphtali, is reproduced on the walls of the Karnak temple; Huram and his workmen of skilled artisans, and the hand of their royal master, Solomon, supplied them lavishly with precious metal and stone.1 Specimens of the skill of David's craftsmen must also be found in the exhibit, for
The sacred objects wrought by the ancient master Bezaleel, son of Uri may also have bee2n produced here.
An exhaustive identification of objects pictured in the Karnak temple and of those described in the Books of Kings and Chronicles is a matter for prolonged study and should preferably be done with the help of molds from the bas-reliefs at Karnak. The following short excursus is not intended to be complete and definitive; it is only tentative. Yet it will demonstrate the identity of the booty of Thutmose III with that carried out of Jerusalem by the Egyptian king in the days of Rehoboam, son of Solomon.
A large part of the booty of Thutmose III consisted of religious objects taken from a temple. There were altars for burnt offerings and incense, tables for the sacrifice, lavers for liquid offerings, vessels for sacred oil, tables for showbread, and the like in great quantity. No doubt it was an extremely rich temple that was pillaged by Thutmose III.
The objects taken by Shishak from Jerusalem were the treasures of the Temple of Solomon and of the king's palace (II Chronicles 12:9).
On the Karnak bas-relief Thutmose III is shown presenting certain objects to the god Amon: these objects are the part of the king's booty which he dedicated to the temple of Amon and gave to the Egyptian priests. This picture does not represent the whole booty of Thutmose III. He chose for the Egyptian temples what he took from the foreign Temple, and in this collection of "cunning work" one has to look for the objects enumerated in the sections of the Books of Kings and of Chronicles describing the Temple.
On the walls of the tomb chambers of Thutmose's viziers treasures are shown in the process of transportation from Palestine. Besides the art work familiar from the scene of presentation to Amon, there are also other objects, apparently from the palace. These were delivered to Pharaoh's palace and to the houses of his favorites.
The books of the Scriptures have preserved a detailed record of furniture and vessels of the Temple, only. Fortunately the separation of the sacral booty in the scene of dedication to Amon makes the task of recognition easier.
The metals used and the style of the craftsmanship will be compared briefly in the Hebrew and Egyptian sources. The material of which the objects were made is indicated by accompanying inscriptions on the bas-relief; they were made of three different metals, translated as gold, silver, and bronze. The metals used for the sacral furniture and for the vessels in the Temple of Solomon were of gold, silver, and bronze ("brass"). The "cunning work" was manufactured of each of these metals.
Often an article is represented on the wall in gold and another of the same shape in brass. The fashioning of identical objects in gold as well as in bronze (brass) for the Temple of Solomonl is repeatedly referred to in the Books of Kings and of Chronicles.
When gold was used for the vessels and the furnishings of Solomon's Temple, it was either solid gold3 or a hammered gold overlay on wood.4 The pictures of the objects in Karnak are described by the words "gold" and "overlaid with gold."
In the period when Israel had no permanent site for its place of worship, the Ark of the Covenant and other holy objects were moved from one place to another and were sometimes taken into battle. In order to facilitate transportation, the furnishings of the tabernacle were made with rings and bars.5 The old furniture of the tabernacle was placed in the Temple by Solomon,6 and was carried off, in the days of his son, by the pharaoh and his army. The Ark of the Covenant, however, was not removed by remained in the Temple until the Babylonian exile.7 It was probably a model for other transportable sacred paraphernalia used in the holy enclosure in Beth-el and in Shiloh and thereafter in Jerusalem. In the second and seventh rows of the Karnak bas-relief are shown various ark-shaped chests with rings at the corners and bars for transportation.
"A crown of gold round about" was an ancient Judean ornament of sacred tables and altars.8 Such ornamentation is seen on the golden altar in the second row (9) of the mural, as well as on the bronze (brass) altar in the ninth row (177).9
The preferred ornament on the vessels was the shoshana, translated as "lily" (lotus),
The lotus motif is often repeated on the vessels reproduced on the wall of Karnak. A Lotus vial is shown in gold (10), in silver (121), and in colored stone (malachite?) (140). A rim of lily work may be seen on various vessels (35, 75, 175), a very unusual type of rim ornament, found only in the scriptural account and on the bas-reliefs of Thutmose III.
Buds among flowers ("his knops and his flowers"10) were also used as ornamentation in the tabernacle. This motif appears on a vase (195) in the lower row of the Karnak mural and also in the fifth row (75).
Of animal figures, lions and oxen are mentioned as decorative motifs of the Temple in Jerusalem (I Kings 7:29 and 36). The Karnak mural shows lion heads (20, 60), and the head of an ox is recognizable as an ornament on a drinking vessel (132).
Gods were often depicted in Egyptian temples in shameless positions. Among the figures of sacred objects on the Karnak bas-relief there are none of phallic form, neither are there any pictures of gods at all. A few animal heads (lions) with the sign of the uraeus on their foreheads and the head of a hawk are wrought on the lids of some cups. These cups might have been brought from the palace Solomon had built for his Egyptian wife.
Idols were and still are used in all pagan worship. The hundreds of sacred objects appearing in the mural were obviously not of an idolatrous cult; they suggest, rather, a cult in which offerings of animals, incense, and showbread were brought, but in which no idols were worshipped. The Temple of Kadesh-Jerusalem, sacked by Thutmose III, was rich in utensils for religious services but devoid of any image of a god.
Piece by piece the altars and vessels of Solomon's Temple can be identified on the wall of Karnak.
In the Temple of Solomon there was an altar of gold for burnt offerings (I Kings 7:48; II Chronicles 4:19). It was the only such altar. In the second row of the bas-reliefs is an altar with a crown around the edge, partly destroyed, but partly plainly discernible (9). The inscription reads: "The [a] great altar." It was made of gold.
Another altar in the Temple of Jerusalem was of "brass" (bronze); it was square and very large.11 In the ninth row of the Karnak relief an altar of "brass" (bronze) is pictured, the shape of which is similar to that of the gold altar. The inscription says (177): "One great altar of brass [bronze]," Inasmuch as its height is equal to its width, the altar does not fit the description of the altar mentioned in the Second Book of Chronicles, which was half as high as it was wide. However, from the first chapter of the Second Book of Chronicles we know that another brazen altar made by Bezaleel was among the holy objects of the Temple of Jerusalem.
Next to the altar was the table "whereupon the shewbread was" (I Kings 7:48; II Chronicles 4:19). The showbread was obviously not of flour, but of silver or gold; in the Book of Exodus12 it is said that showbread was made by Bezaleel, who was a goldsmith. Showbread is pictured on the bas-relief of Karnak in the form of a cone. The cone in the seventh row (138) bears the explanation; "White bread." This bread was of silver. The thirty cones of gold (48) and the twenty-four cones of colored stone (malachite) (169), identical in form with the silver cone; also represent showbread.
The "candlestick with the lamps" (II Chronicles 4:20) was an illuminating device with lamps shaped like flowers. Figures 35, 36, 37, and 38 of the mural are candlesticks with lamps. One of them (35) has three lily lamps on the left and three on the right. The other candlesticks (37, 38) have eight lamps to the left and eight to the right. The candlestick with lamps wrought by Bezaleel for the tabernacle had three lamps to the left and three to the right.13 There were almonds, a knop, and a flower on the arms. A later form showed a preference for seven lamps on both sides of the stem.
Other candlesticks are mentioned in addition to those with lamps. In the Book of Kings they are described as bearing flowers (I Kings 7:49). This form is seen in the third row of the bas-relief (25, 26, 27, and 28). The candlestick is in the shape of a stem with a lotus blossom.
Next to the altar, the tables with the showbread, and the candlesticks were the tables for offerings.
The table, like its vessels, was of gold (I Kings 7:48). "The tables of sacrifice" in the third row (of gold) and in the seventh row (of silver) of the mural have sets of vessels on them: three flat dishes, three large cups, three pots (or bowls), one shovel. many tables of gold and silver are reproduced on the bas-relief. The paraphernalia of the Temple contained also "hooks and all instruments" (II Chronicles 4:16). In the third row of the Karnak mural, near the table of offerings, and in the same row at the left end, there are hooks, spoons, and other implements (30, 31, 32, 33, 43, 44); bowls appear in most of the rows, but especially in the second and sixth (of gold).
"The incense altar, and his staves, and the anointing oil" were in the Temple of Jerusalem (Exodus 35:15). As no detailed description of the form of this altar is given in the Scriptures, various objects in the form of altars suitable for incense may be considered. Did the smoke of the burning incense pour through the openings in the ornamental spouts? Was the incense burned in a dish set on a base (41, 181)? Vessels containing anointing oil are shown on pedestal altars (41); over the figures in the lower row (197-99) is written: "Alabaster, filled with holy anointing oil for the sacrifice."
Golden snuffers were used in the Temple of Solomon for spreading the fragrance during the service (II Chronicles 4:22; I Kings 7:50) Masrekin Hebrew means a fountain or a vessel that ejects a fluid. Such fountains are mentioned as having been in the Temple of Solomon (I Kings 7:50; II Chronicles 4:22). Among the vessels shown on the wall at Karnak there are one or two whose form is peculiar. The vessel in the fifth row (73) has two side spouts and is adorned with figures of animals. The spouts are connected with the basin by two animals (lions?) stretching toward them; rodents run along the spouts, one pair up and one pair down; amphibians (frogs) sit on top of the vessel. It is not unusual to decorate modern fountains in a like manner. The figures of frogs are especially appropriate for this purpose. The tubes and the mouths of the animals on the vessel could be used to spout perfume or water. The neighboring object seems also to be a fountain.
One hundred basins of gold were made by Solomon for the Temple (II Chronicles 4:8). Ninety-five basins of gold are shown in the sixth row of the mural; six larger basins are shown apart.
The walls and floor of Solomon's Temple were "overlaid with fine gold" and "garnished with precious stones" (II Chronicles 3:5-6; I Kings 6:28ff.). Pharaoh, who "took all," did not leave this gold or these stones on the walls. Some of them were worked into jewels, and the inscription (over 63-65) reads: "Gold and various precious stones his majesty had reworked." Other gold was taken in the form of bricks and links (chains) (23, 24). Chains of gold are also mentioned as having been in the Temple of Solomon (II Chronicles 3:16): "And he made chains."
Thirty-three doors are represented in the lower row of the bas-relief and the inscription says they are "of beaten copper" (190).
Targets or shields of "beaten gold" are named among the booty of the pharaoh (II Chronicles 9:15). These three hundred shields, together with the two hundred targets of gold (II Chronicles 9:15, 16), were not part of the furnishings of the Temple, they adorned "the house of the forest of Lebanon." In the seventh row of the mural there are three disks marked with the number 300, which means that they represent three hundred pieces. The metal of which they are made is not mentioned; some objects in this row are of silver, but the next figure has a legend indicating that is it of gold.
The large "sea of brass" and the brazen bases (I Kings 7:23, II Chronicles 4:2) were not removed by the pharaoh (II Kings 25:16). Among the things which were taken later by Nebuzaradan, the captain of Nebuchadnezzar, were "two pillars, one sea, and the bases which Solomon had made for the House of the Lord."15
The ephod of the high priest (a collar with a breast plate) was not mentioned in the Scriptures among the booty of the pharaoh and might not have been taken. But precious garments of the priests were carried off. The fourth row displays rich collars, some with breastplates; they were destined to be gifts for the priests of Amon.
In the bas-reliefs of Karnak we have a very excellent and detailed account of the vessels and furniture of the Temple of Solomon, much more detailed than the single bas-relief of the Titus Arch in Rome, showing the candlestick and a few other vessels of the Second Temple, brought to the Roman capital just one thousand years after the sack of the First Temple by the Egyptians.
Top of Page
Return to No Frames Contents