BIBLE HISTORY DAILY

The Doorways of Solomon’s Temple

What is a “mezuzah” in the Bible?

Solomon's Temple reconstruction

A reconstruction of Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem. Drawing: Leen Ritmeyer.

King Solomon’s Temple was resplendent. Described in 1 Kings 6–7, the temple was divided into three parts: the forecourt (ulam), the outer sanctum (heikhal) and the inner shrine (devir), also known as the Holy of Holies. Built of stone and roofed with wooden beams, Solomon’s Temple was intricately ornamented. Its interior walls and floors were lined with wooden boards and covered in gold. It took seven years to complete the temple and its furnishings.

Despite the Biblical description and archaeological parallels, there are still some mysteries about Solomon’s Temple. For example, 1 Kings 6:31 describes the doorways of Solomon’s temple between the outer sanctum and the inner shrine as having five mezuzot (the plural form of mezuzah).

A modern mezuzah, like the 5 on the doorways of Solomon's Temple?

This is an example of a modern mezuzah secured to a doorframe. However, this is not what is meant by a mezuzah in the Bible—and not how we should envision the doorways of Solomon’s Temple. Photo: “Mezuzah at Chesed-El Synagogue, Singapore – 20100815,” by SMUConLaw is licensed under CC-BY-SA-3.0.

Doorway in a building model from Qeiyafa

This building model from Khirbet Qeiyafa depicts an elaborate doorframe surrounding an opening. With three—or maybe four—interlocking frames, the recessed doorframe sets apart the inner room as sacred space. This model may unlock the meaning of a mezuzah in the Bible regarding the description of Solomon’s Temple. Photo: G. Laron/Courtesy of the Khirbet Qeiyafa Expedition.

What is a mezuzah? In the Bible, mezuzah is normally translated as “doorpost.” However, in the context of Solomon’s Temple, doors with five doorposts do not make sense.

Madeleine Mumcuoglu and Yosef Garfinkel explore this enigma in The Puzzling Doorways of Solomon’s Temple in the July/August 2015 issue of BAR. They contend that a recent discovery from Khirbet Qeiyafa may hold the answer to unlocking the meaning of a mezuzah in the Bible regarding Solomon’s Temple.

Located 20 miles from Jerusalem, Khirbet Qeiyafa was occupied in the 11th–10th centuries B.C.E. It is noteworthy as being a fortified site in Judah from the time of King David.

Madeleine Mumcuoglu and Yosef Garfinkel present a building model from Khirbet Qeiyafa that depicts a doorframe with three—or maybe four—interlocking doorframes surrounding an opening. They suggest that these interlocking frames are what is meant by mezuzot in the description of Solomon’s Temple. According to their interpretation, then, the doors to the inner shrine (devir) of Solomon’s Temple did not have five doorposts—but rather five recessed doorframes.

Temples with recessed doorways have been uncovered throughout the ancient Near East, and Madeleine Mumcuoglu and Yosef Garfinkel further note that recessed doorframes set apart inner rooms and spaces as being sacred. In the case of Solomon’s Temple, the more recessed the doorframes, the holier the space:

There is a gradual increase in the number of recessed doorframes from the entrance to the forecourt (three) to the outer sanctum (four) and finally to the entrance from the outer sanctum to the devir (five). It is as if the devir had the highest number of mezuzot because it was the most sacred part of the Temple.

For a full description of the doorways of Solomon’s Temple—and parallels throughout the ancient Near East—read the article The Puzzling Doorways of Solomon’s Temple by Madeleine Mumcuoglu and Yosef Garfinkel in the July/August 2015 issue of BAR.


BAS Library Members: Read the full article The Puzzling Doorways of Solomon’s Temple by Madeleine Mumcuoglu and Yosef Garfinkel in the July/August 2015 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review.

Not a BAS Library or All-Access Member yet? Join today.

Related reading in Bible History Daily:

Solomon’s Temple Destruction Gives Clues to Modern Science

The Doorways of Solomon’s Temple

A Rival to Solomon’s Temple

Ivory Pomegranate Revisited: A Relic from Solomon’s Temple?

All-Access members, read more in the BAS Library:


Solomon’s Temple in Context

Inside Solomon’s Temple

Temple Architecture: What Can Archaeology Tell Us About Solomon’s Temple?

The New ‘Ain Dara Temple: Closest Solomonic Parallel

An Ending and a Beginning: Why we’re leaving Qeiyafa and going to Lachish

Newly Discovered: A Fortified City from King David’s Time

Not a BAS Library or All-Access Member yet? Join today.

This Bible History Daily feature was originally published on June 15, 2015.



13 Responses

  1. Judy Weis says:

    And yet there is not a single iota of vetted physical evidence of King Solomon, David, Moses, Abraham, or any of the characters in the Old Testament including King Solomon, but yet this site continues to insist that these characters and places exist.

    But yet, we have an incredible amount of physical evidence in the millions of other individuals and sites going as far back as 100,000 years of other individuals and sites going as far back as 100,000 years to prove their existence. So how do you explain this?

    Jesus did not write a single word, he was not fluent in Greek and it is doubtful that he could read or write in any language is research shows that barely one percent of the population in the first century Received such an education to be able to not only read and write an error but Greek.

    Furthermore, in the New Testament there is no indication of Where and from whom he learned to speak or write in Greek… to explain why the New Testament, & especially the earliest “copies” are written (in Greek).

    The New Testament states that Jesus was able to explain complex concepts of the Old Testament written in Hebrew when he was 12 or 13 years of age. And even this is specious and questionable because in orthodox Jewish law no Jewish male could speak comment about tenach before their elders or the congregation until they were married and at least 30 years of age and had been proven to have maturity and “wisdom.” it would’ve been a blasphemous insult before the eyes of God to allow a foolish orator person with no education to defile the temple with frivolous or Uneducated statements.

    It appears that biblical archaeology is nothing more than a fabricated site attempting to prove by inference that imaginary Jesus and the characters of the Bible and especially the characters in the new testament existed when there is more evidence and probability that they did not exist.

    1. Larry Love says:

      Lord help this person deal with the trauma in her soul. In Jesus’Name.

  2. Dennis Swaney says:

    So where was the curtain that was supposed to be between the inner court and the Holy of Holies? Was it after the five doorways? Or, was the curtain only in Herod’s Temple?

    1. Judy Weis says:

      There are so many problems with this article for many many reasons including orthodox Jewish law that it should be discounted out of hand.

      Consistently, the authors of “biblical archaeology” takes something like a rock and hold it up and say “see this proves that Jesus existed or Solomon existed” by inference where there is no such physical evidence… by inference, guessing, or even apologetics which in reality is just Christians lying to justify their false religion and fake Jewish Messiah, imaginary Jesus.

  3. Gilbert Jones says:

    One of the neurological aspects of the number 5 is that it is associated with redemption, silver and harnessed. The silver cord tied the fabric to their frames in the mobile tabernacle and is know to be a symbol of mercy. The idea of harnessed comes from the way the Hebrews were seen when leaving the cities of Egypt after the Passover and release of the people. Every 5 men were harnessed together to tow what ever their load was from the treasures they were given to LEAVE Please. From a bird’s eye view of the Exodus each group passing out the gates were repeating the an implied phrase – By God’s Mercy, For His Glory, In His Grace.

  4. Curry says:

    The recessed doorframes make sense if one pictures that each succeeding door has its hinges on the opposite side of the door frame from the door preceding it.

  5. Neil says:

    Phil, can you invite me to Chistianartifacts as it is a closed group?

    1. Judy says:

      Why would Christian artifacts be a close group? What is it that you’re hiding

  6. phil says:

    There’s a more realistic one. I would take a look at this:
    http://www.christianartifacts.com/

  7. laughter newton says:

    It is a wonderful knowledge

  8. Cheryl Clark says:

    Having trouble downloading from this site. Even after repeated true.

  9. Kurt says:

    The “entrance” (Heb., peʹthach; Ge 19:11) of a room, a house, or some other building consisting of: (1) the “upper part of the doorway” (Heb., mash·qohphʹ; Ex 12:7), that is, the lintel, a horizontal beam of wood or stone spanning the door-opening at the top and carrying the weight of the structure above the door; (2) the two upright “doorposts” (Heb., mezu·zothʹ; Ex 12:7, ftn), one on each side of the doorway, on which the lintel rests; (3) the door (Heb., deʹleth; Gr., thyʹra) itself; (4) the “threshold” (Heb., saph [Jg 19:27]) lying beneath the door.

    The lintel and doorposts of the entrances of Israelite houses in Egypt were obediently splashed with the blood of the Passover victim as a sign for God’s angel to pass over such homes and not destroy their firstborn. (Ex 12:7, 22, 23) According to the Law, if a slave (male or female) desired to remain permanently in his master’s service, the master brought the slave up against the door or the doorpost and pierced his ear through with an awl. (Ex 21:5, 6; De 15:16, 17) The Hebrew word for doorpost (mezu·zahʹ) has come to be applied to a small container called a mezuzah. It is nailed to the doorpost by Orthodox Jews and contains a parchment bearing the words of Deuteronomy 6:4-9; 11:13-21.—See MEZUZAH.

    The door was generally made of wood, and many of them turned on pivots fitted into sockets in the lintel and the threshold. (Pr 26:14) Door pivots were often wooden, but the Egyptians sometimes fastened to a door’s lower and upper ends metal hinges having projections that fitted into sockets, these doors thus pivoting in that way. Sockets for the doors of the temple built by Solomon were of gold.—1Ki 7:48, 50.

    Doors of average homes were small and not ornate. But the entrance of Solomon’s temple had two, two-leaved juniper-wood doors, and there were two doors made of oil-tree wood leading to the Most Holy, all these doors having carved representations of cherubs, palm trees, and blossoms, overlaid with gold. (1Ki 6:31-35) Large doors having folding sections or leaves were also used elsewhere. For instance, Jehovah saw to it that Babylon’s copper “two-leaved doors” were opened to King Cyrus.—Isa 45:1, 2.See.doors: it-1 645; it-2 1077.
    http://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/1200275723#h=85

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13 Responses

  1. Judy Weis says:

    And yet there is not a single iota of vetted physical evidence of King Solomon, David, Moses, Abraham, or any of the characters in the Old Testament including King Solomon, but yet this site continues to insist that these characters and places exist.

    But yet, we have an incredible amount of physical evidence in the millions of other individuals and sites going as far back as 100,000 years of other individuals and sites going as far back as 100,000 years to prove their existence. So how do you explain this?

    Jesus did not write a single word, he was not fluent in Greek and it is doubtful that he could read or write in any language is research shows that barely one percent of the population in the first century Received such an education to be able to not only read and write an error but Greek.

    Furthermore, in the New Testament there is no indication of Where and from whom he learned to speak or write in Greek… to explain why the New Testament, & especially the earliest “copies” are written (in Greek).

    The New Testament states that Jesus was able to explain complex concepts of the Old Testament written in Hebrew when he was 12 or 13 years of age. And even this is specious and questionable because in orthodox Jewish law no Jewish male could speak comment about tenach before their elders or the congregation until they were married and at least 30 years of age and had been proven to have maturity and “wisdom.” it would’ve been a blasphemous insult before the eyes of God to allow a foolish orator person with no education to defile the temple with frivolous or Uneducated statements.

    It appears that biblical archaeology is nothing more than a fabricated site attempting to prove by inference that imaginary Jesus and the characters of the Bible and especially the characters in the new testament existed when there is more evidence and probability that they did not exist.

    1. Larry Love says:

      Lord help this person deal with the trauma in her soul. In Jesus’Name.

  2. Dennis Swaney says:

    So where was the curtain that was supposed to be between the inner court and the Holy of Holies? Was it after the five doorways? Or, was the curtain only in Herod’s Temple?

    1. Judy Weis says:

      There are so many problems with this article for many many reasons including orthodox Jewish law that it should be discounted out of hand.

      Consistently, the authors of “biblical archaeology” takes something like a rock and hold it up and say “see this proves that Jesus existed or Solomon existed” by inference where there is no such physical evidence… by inference, guessing, or even apologetics which in reality is just Christians lying to justify their false religion and fake Jewish Messiah, imaginary Jesus.

  3. Gilbert Jones says:

    One of the neurological aspects of the number 5 is that it is associated with redemption, silver and harnessed. The silver cord tied the fabric to their frames in the mobile tabernacle and is know to be a symbol of mercy. The idea of harnessed comes from the way the Hebrews were seen when leaving the cities of Egypt after the Passover and release of the people. Every 5 men were harnessed together to tow what ever their load was from the treasures they were given to LEAVE Please. From a bird’s eye view of the Exodus each group passing out the gates were repeating the an implied phrase – By God’s Mercy, For His Glory, In His Grace.

  4. Curry says:

    The recessed doorframes make sense if one pictures that each succeeding door has its hinges on the opposite side of the door frame from the door preceding it.

  5. Neil says:

    Phil, can you invite me to Chistianartifacts as it is a closed group?

    1. Judy says:

      Why would Christian artifacts be a close group? What is it that you’re hiding

  6. phil says:

    There’s a more realistic one. I would take a look at this:
    http://www.christianartifacts.com/

  7. laughter newton says:

    It is a wonderful knowledge

  8. Cheryl Clark says:

    Having trouble downloading from this site. Even after repeated true.

  9. Kurt says:

    The “entrance” (Heb., peʹthach; Ge 19:11) of a room, a house, or some other building consisting of: (1) the “upper part of the doorway” (Heb., mash·qohphʹ; Ex 12:7), that is, the lintel, a horizontal beam of wood or stone spanning the door-opening at the top and carrying the weight of the structure above the door; (2) the two upright “doorposts” (Heb., mezu·zothʹ; Ex 12:7, ftn), one on each side of the doorway, on which the lintel rests; (3) the door (Heb., deʹleth; Gr., thyʹra) itself; (4) the “threshold” (Heb., saph [Jg 19:27]) lying beneath the door.

    The lintel and doorposts of the entrances of Israelite houses in Egypt were obediently splashed with the blood of the Passover victim as a sign for God’s angel to pass over such homes and not destroy their firstborn. (Ex 12:7, 22, 23) According to the Law, if a slave (male or female) desired to remain permanently in his master’s service, the master brought the slave up against the door or the doorpost and pierced his ear through with an awl. (Ex 21:5, 6; De 15:16, 17) The Hebrew word for doorpost (mezu·zahʹ) has come to be applied to a small container called a mezuzah. It is nailed to the doorpost by Orthodox Jews and contains a parchment bearing the words of Deuteronomy 6:4-9; 11:13-21.—See MEZUZAH.

    The door was generally made of wood, and many of them turned on pivots fitted into sockets in the lintel and the threshold. (Pr 26:14) Door pivots were often wooden, but the Egyptians sometimes fastened to a door’s lower and upper ends metal hinges having projections that fitted into sockets, these doors thus pivoting in that way. Sockets for the doors of the temple built by Solomon were of gold.—1Ki 7:48, 50.

    Doors of average homes were small and not ornate. But the entrance of Solomon’s temple had two, two-leaved juniper-wood doors, and there were two doors made of oil-tree wood leading to the Most Holy, all these doors having carved representations of cherubs, palm trees, and blossoms, overlaid with gold. (1Ki 6:31-35) Large doors having folding sections or leaves were also used elsewhere. For instance, Jehovah saw to it that Babylon’s copper “two-leaved doors” were opened to King Cyrus.—Isa 45:1, 2.See.doors: it-1 645; it-2 1077.
    http://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/1200275723#h=85

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