Monday, September 10, 2012

Columns of the Temple

Just inside the walls of the Temple Mount ran a cedar-covered portico supported by marble columns.
View of the Israel Museum Temple model. Columns of the Temple Mount
are visible on the left side of this photo.
Josephus writes that the columns of the Herodian Temple were hewn from single blocks of white marble whose natural beauty rendered additional carvings or painting unnecessary. In Herod's palace at Masada there are similar columns, each of which was comprised of drum-shaped sections which were fitted together and plastered. This outer surface was then carved and painted to appear as a single piece of stone. The same technique may have been used in the Temple, fooling the eye of Josephus and testifying to the Herodian artisans' mastery of their craft.

The design of the columns which I use in my computer model is based on archeological evidence found in Persepolis (in modern Iran), the capital of the Persian Empire. The Jewish artisans who returned from the Persian-held lands to Jerusalem may have borrowed elements of the royal architecture they saw in Persepolis and incorporated this style into the columns of the Second Temple.
Column of the Second Temple
The columns stood 25 amos tall and each measured "as wide as three men can reach." A man’s reach is about 4 amos, thus the columns had a circumference of 12 amos and a diameter of 3.8 amos. The columns were spaced approximately 15 amos apart (on centers) and arranged in three rows along the walls of the Temple Mount, with the first row of columns engaged with (partially set into) those walls.


  1. Sholom Rav Elan, is it possible that the rov can please tell me where it says that the pillars were 25 amos tall?

  2. Sure, I found this detail in Ezras Kohanim to Middos 2:2 נכנסין דרך ימין [p.274], citing Tavnis Heychal.


To prevent spam, all comments will be moderated.