Biblical Archaeology Review 41:4, July/August 2015

The Puzzling Doorways of Solomon’s Temple

By Madeleine MumcuogluYosef Garfinkel

The Bible tells us that the doors of the inner shrine of Solomon’s Temple had five mezuzot (singular mezuzah) (1 Kings 6:31). Whatever they were, the Bible is not referring to the little parchment texts in a case posted on the doorposts of Jewish houses that are called mezuzot. The word mezuzah is often defined as doorpost. Did this gate in the Temple have five doorposts? Hardly. But whatever mezuzot are in this Biblical text, the door to the inner sanctuary of Solomon’s Temple had five of them. The next outer gate of Solomon’s Temple had four of them (1 Kings 6:33). And the gate to Solomon palace had three of them: “And all the entrances and doorposts had squared frames, and opposite, facing each other, three times” (1 Kings 7:5, Anchor Bible).

Both the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible and the Jewish Publication Society translation drop the same footnote to the sentence describing the gate to the inner shrine with its five mezuzot: “Meaning of Hebrew uncertain.”

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