Months ago I visited a Book of Mormon conference where I took a 3D tour of Herod’s temple. I walked upstairs to the Temple Mount and into the Court of the Gentiles, and then I found myself in the Court of the Women walking to the doors of the Court of the Priests. In this inner court was the laver (or what little remained of the Sea of Brass in Jewish tradition) and the Altar of Sacrifice. Up some additional steps, I was in the inner court with the table of shewbread, Menorah, and the altar of incense. Behind this was the Temple Veil. I nearly gasped as I crossed the threshold into the Holy of Holies.
While this Temple is not Solomon’s Temple as it was in Isaiah’s Day, it is at the same location and uses a similar footprint. Stepping out of the temple into the Antonio Fortress, I found what I was looking for as I scanned Jerusalem 360°: the Pool of Siloam at the far end of the old city.
You may be wondering why was I looking for this pool. Well, it’s part of a lesson I am teaching this Sunday: Lesson 30: “Come to the House of the Lord” in the Old Testament Gospel Doctrine Course. In this lesson, King Hezekiah refurbishes Solomon’s Temple and builds a water conduit under the city known as Hezekiah’s Tunnel. This tunnel empties into the Pool of Siloam and I wanted to know where it was in respect to the Temple and Pool of Bethesda. The ViritualScriptures.org app helped with that:
Bad King, Good King, Back to Bad King
By way of background, Ahaz, Hezekiah’s father, was not a righteous king. He refused counsel from Isaiah (Isa. 7) and struck an alliance with the king of Assyria to resist the advance of Israel and Syria. He also fostered idolatry copying the Assyrian form of worship.
Hezekiah, on the other hand, took counsel from the prophet Isaiah, becoming both a political and religious reformer (2 Kgs. 18:1–21:3; 2 Chr. 29:1–33:3; Isa. 36–39). He did away with idolatry and reopened the temple with all its forms of worship and sacrifice.
With the assistance of Isaiah, his early reign was prosperous, for he was winning battles against the Philistines (2 Kgs. 18:8; 2 Chr. 28:18) on the East and refusing to pay tribute to Assyria (2 Kgs. 18:7) in the North.
However, soon afterward Assyria, who had invaded Syria and Israel, began an incursion into Judah. First, under Sargon, as mentioned in Isa. 10:24–32 (see also Isa. 20:1). Then under the leadership of Sennacherib (2 Kgs. 18:13–19:7), Assyria took one city after another until, in 701 BC, its war machine was at the gates of Jerusalem.
The terror of this advancing army prompted Hezekiah to construct an underground water conduit in preparation against the siege of Jerusalem. It was an engineering wonder: there were two teams working, one from each end, zigzagging through a third of a mile of limestone rock, and meeting in the middle.
The LDS Bible Dictionary records this “…dramatic account of the meeting of the workmen is told by an inscription carved in stone near the Siloam end of the tunnel. (when does quote end?) It reads:
‘The boring through is completed. Now this is the story of the boring through. While the workmen were still lifting pick to pick, each toward his neighbor, and while three cubits remained to be cut through, each heard the voice of the other who called his neighbor, since there was a crevice in the rock on the right side. And on the day of the boring through the stonecutters struck, each to meet his fellow, pick to pick, and there flowed the waters to the pool for a thousand and two hundred cubits, and a hundred cubits was the height of the rock above the heads of the stonecutters.’”
As God had promised, however, the tunnel was not needed. Isaiah prophesied that if King Hezekiah and those in Jerusalem trusted in God, he would defeat the Assyrian army for them. In 2 Kings 19, we read:
6 …Thus saith the Lord, Be not afraid of the words which thou hast heard, with which the servants of the king of Assyria have blasphemed me.
7 Behold, I will send a blast upon him, and he shall hear a rumour, and shall return to his own land; and I will cause him to fall by the sword in his own land.
32 …Therefore thus saith the Lord concerning the king of Assyria, He shall not come into this city, nor shoot an arrow there, nor come before it with shield, nor cast a bank against it.
33 By the way that he came, by the same shall he return, and shall not come into this city, saith the Lord.
34 For I will adefend this city, to save it, for mine own sake, and for my servant David’s sake.
In the night before the army was to attack, the enemy camped at Nob so close that they Assyrians shouted threats in Hebrew at those inside the walls. During the night the city was delivered leaving us with the most humorous verse in all the Old Testament”:
35 ¶ And it came to pass that night, that the aangel of the Lord went out, and bsmote in the camp of the cAssyrians an hundred fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses.
It was not a happy ending for Sennacherib the king of Assyria who returned to Nineveh, defeated by God. Hezekiah lived another year before dying and passing the throne on to his wicked son Mannasseh (2 Kgs. 20:21–21:18; 23:12, 26; 24:3; 2 Chr. 32:33; 33:1–20, 23; Jer. 15) who killed Isaiah by sawing him “asunder” in the hollow of a cedar.
King Solomon’s Temple in 3D
Though the final version of King Solomon’s Temple is not complete, there are helpful introductory images in 3-D:
I also found the 3D images of the Tabernacle helpful, since Solomon’s temple was patterned it:
According to the LDS Bible Dictionary, Solomon’s temple was laid out similar to the tabernacle, but with dimensions twice that of the Tabernacle. King David had gathered the materials for construction (gold, silver, iron, copper, timber, and stone as we learn in 1 Chr. 22:14), but actual construction and credit of the accomplishing the work goes to his son, King Solomon.
Under Solomon’s rule, the kingdom of Israel enjoyed its most golden age. However, his sons split the kingdom which led to the decline of both Israel to the north and Judah to the south. Judah was responsible for the temple, but in less than 200 years and a dozen kings, the temple fell into disrepair and was seriously desecrated “by Athaliah (2 Chr. 24:7), Ahaz (29:5, 16), and above all, Manasseh (2 Kgs. 21:4–5, 7). It was cleansed by Hezekiah (2 Chr. 29:16) and Josiah (2 Kgs. 23:4, 6, 12). Finally, it was burned to the ground and utterly destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar (2 Kgs. 25:9), all that was valuable in it being carried to Babylon (25:13, etc.).”1
Using 3D Apps for Personal Study
Along with the Church’s Study Helps, I found this new app useful in understanding the Temple and city layouts for my lesson this Sunday.
The ViritualScriptures.org download is available for your desktop and handheld devices. Using the interactive maps, you can zoom from a bird’s-eye view right into the buildings on the Temple Mount. It really helps you get a feel for things as they were in a 360° simulation; making it extremely fun, engaging, and educational for all ages.
1 LDS Bible Dictionary, Temple of Solomon