Jeremy D. Smoak

Building Solomon's Temple: Crafting a Monumental Inventory in 1 Kgs 7:13–47

Volume 10 () / Issue 3, pp. 283-300 (18)
Published 01.02.2022

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The description of Solomon's temple in 1 Kings 6–7 reads like a tour of a monumental building. The tour begins with the design and dimensions of the temple's exterior and ends with a description of the cultic furniture installed in its courtyard. An integral part of this composition is the narrative about Hiram's copper (7:13–47), which includes both a description of the making and installation of the copper items in the courtyard as well as an inventory of the metal items. I argue that this narrative about Hiram appropriated and adapted the discourse of royal monument-making practices found in Iron Age monumental inscriptions. Most notably, the narrative employed sequences of verbs that are used in monumental inscriptions to describe the building and installation of monuments and monumental inscriptions. Beyond these sequences of verbs, the narrative also included a scribal inventory at the end of the composition in order to index the role that scribes played as craftsmen in temple operations. By doing so, the description of Hiram's copper produced a textual monument that not only memorialized Solomon and his temple, but also subtly indexed the scribes who both contributed to its building and also crafted a literary monument that endured beyond its physical walls.

Jeremy D. Smoak is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures at the University of California, Los Angeles.