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The period of Israel's "temporary Temple," the Tabernacle, lasted four hundred and forty years, until the permanent structure was erected in Jerusalem. Even after the Children of Israel entered into the Promised Land, the Tabernacle continued to wander, and was stationed in Gilgal, Shiloh, Nov, and Giveon. King David had desired to build the Temple of G-d, but he soon understood that he was not to be granted the privilege of finishing the project. Together with the prophet Samuel, however, King David clarified and established the spot where the Temple was to be built—Mount Moriah. Here on Mount Moriah, where Abraham bound Isaac, David built an altar on the spot of the threshing floor of Aravna the Jebusite, which he purchased. Through this act, he effectively laid the foundations for the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.

King David's son Solomon received instructions from his father for every detail of the Temple's construction. All of this information was based on prophetic insight that David had received, handed down to him from previous generations. Indeed, the Sages of Israel teach that a "Temple Scroll" had been given to Moses by G-d, and handed down in every generation. This document was a Divinely-ordained plan that contained details, drawings, and diagrams for the Temple and its vessels, including variations and innovations that could be made to suit the changing needs of the growing nation.

Essentially, Solomon's Temple was similar to the Tabernacle of the desert in its basic layout and design, only on a larger scale. Solomon increased the number of sacred vessels in use, according to the needs of Israel and the enlarged size of the Temple. For example, he built not one menorah, but ten, as well as ten lavers and tables. He also constructed vessels which were unique to this Temple. He made special "carts" which transported the lavers from place to place within the Temple. The "brazen sea," a large reservoir of water resting on twelve oxen, was one of the wonders of the ancient world. This water was used by the priests to purify themselves before attending to their sacred duties. The twin, sculptured pillars, "Yachin" and "Boaz" were also a hallmark of the unique edifice built by King Solomon.

The moving dedication ceremony and the prayers recited by King Solomon upon the completion of the First Temple are recorded in Kings I. In his prayer, the King beseeched G-d to accept the prayer of any man who turns to this House. Although Isaiah's prophecy that the Holy Temple will be "a house of prayer for all nations" was said regarding the Third Temple, these words were already somewhat fulfilled in Solomon's Temple. Here, myriads arrived from all over the ancient world to seek the Presence of G-d.

The period of Solomon's Temple lasted for 410 years, until it was destroyed by King Nevuchadnezzer of Babylon. Near the end of this era, King Josiah of Israel commanded that the holy Ark of the Testimony, the menorah, and other vessels be hidden away before the destruction.

 

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