other threads recently touched upon the temple description in the OT. I've made comments to the effect that the temple designs mirrors that of other cults of the region. Additionally i wondered if the temple ever existed in the 8th-9th century at all, given the lack of archaeological evidence for it and the mythical characters and obvious embellishments in the story of it's construction. Looking again at the stories in 1Kings and 2chron I'm wondering something a little different. As the stories of the construction are read we find the influential and rich Phoenicians playing a very dominant role, why? According to the story the Phoenician King Hiram providing the cedars,the design,the purple dyes, the masons, much of the general labor workmen etc. Archaeology informs us that the identical temple plan with the same two pillar entrance and most holy chamber made of cedar with gold overlay decorated with purple curtain, cherubim (winged bull/lion/man creatures) and pomagranates was found in Tyre of the Phoenicians. In fact it was Hiram King of Phoenicia that built this wonder of the ancient world elaborating upon the basic plan of older temples of the region. The temple of Tyre was originally dedicated to Melqart, one of the Baals. In later years it was rededicated to Hercules. It existed for Herodotus who was awed by it's grandour even hundreds of years later. The two pillars at the entrance represented Astarte and Melqart the patron gods of Phoenicia at the time. The gold was considered the blessed metal of Melqart, the wood pillar represented the godess. Interestingly the story continues to relate that Solomon in his old age turns to worshipping PHOENICIAN gods. Also interesting is that the story has Solomon giving 20 cities to the "idol worshipping" Phoenicians as repayment for the temple. Now I asked myself why would a Yahwist King hand over his subjects to a pagan king? It all smells funny.
I'm aware of history revisionism in the OT. Often the theological opinion of the Yahwahist priests returning from Babylon were artificially cast back into the mythical past to add weight to their desired reforms. I ask now if we might be seeing an outstanding example in the temple story. It seems to me believable that the "Solomonic" temple was in fact a description of the glorious temple to Melqart built by Hiram at Tyre! Perhaps (and reasonably so) at a later time the tribe/kingdom of Israel did make a modest temple in keeping with the economic realities of the area. They likely used the same floor plan suggesting that they were yet worshipping the gods of their neighbors (Baal Melqart and Astarte/Ashera) along side YHWH. The story about giving 20 cities to the Phoenicians seems to be simply a legend explaining the Phoenician presence in that area at the time of writing or an explanation as to how Israel lost control over the region.