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callmenerd

Boaz and Jachin - the two pillars

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This would be funny if it wasn't backwards. I mean where did all the water go? :P

But seriously, this is obviously an important story if it has gotten into the popular culture enough to be a cartoon.

Let me tell you a secret. When I was a child and had the faith of a child, I believed I could make the sun come out on a cloudy day. It seemed to always work.

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It made a huge impact on Jews. Then and throughout the agges. Especially in the town where I grew up, because that is where his tomb is located according to tradition, so there is a big festival and pilgrimage, streets and schools are named after him.

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So, I've recently been drawing a lot of Sephirot due to some writings I've been reading written by David Littlefield, an LDS man. He's written this book called "Mormon Mysticism" and has a blog with the same title. Anyways, he makes the correlation between the Qabbalistic Sephirot and the Boaz and Jachin Pillars. I found this fascinating and though I'll try, he can explain this much more elegantly. So check it out.

Hopefully I won't sound like an idiot, Ha.

By two pillars we see opposition. Male and Female, White and Black, Left and Right. This is the symbolism of the 6 outside spheres of the Sephirot. 3 on the left, 3 on the right. Connect them and you have two pillars. This leaves us with a solid path in the middle, which symbolized the correct path, the straight and narrow, or in other words, Christ's path.

All over in Apostate Esoteric Teachings you'll find these two pillars. Always, they stand as a gate. That which rests beyond the gate are the Mysteries, the real treasures of this life. Easily this connects with Eternal Life, the Sephirot's Keter, or Heavenly Father, the Crown.

Where were Boaz and Jachin? They were placed at the entrance of Solomon's Temple. That which was beyond brought one closer to God.

Where is the Tree of Life? It is beyond the cherubim that guard it from those trying to enter. Can one pass? If they follow Christ through the temple.

What I like about this view is how it portrays the paths of Satan. Divers are his ways. To the right or to the left, both are incorrect, and both are blocked. There is but one entrance, one righteous path and that is the path of Our Savior. It is our reliance upon Him that will balance us in the eyes of Our Father.

Callmenerd, does Littlefield gives any sources?

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Not for Jachin and Boaz he doesn't!

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This quote is classy.

A mystic learns to let understanding flow without getting stuck on small inconsequential details.

Sources being among them, apparently.

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I've been drawing sefirot too. LOL!

Hey! way cool brother! Here's one I did a few days ago.

sephirot3.jpg

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Not for Jachin and Boaz he doesn't!

Yeah, it's straight out of his hat with that part. Ha, I didn't notice that.

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Hey! way cool brother! Here's one I did a few days ago.

sephirot3.jpg

Nice -- I like it!

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This quote is classy.

Hahaha, I actually really did like that quote. Perhaps I need to learn to be more skeptical though. Sources, or not, I did find reading his book enlightening. I don't know if it was here (on this site), or somewhere else, but I read something about the pillars representing the higher and lesser priesthoods. I dug that too. You know, I'm beginning to realize I don't have much of a place here on a discussion board. Sources are necessary in defending your argument, no doubt about that. I feel like the Spirit kinda melds all my sources together. I can't really accurately explain this to others.

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Hahaha, I actually really did like that quote. Perhaps I need to learn to be more skeptical though. Sources, or not, I did find reading his book enlightening. I don't know if it was here (on this site), or somewhere else, but I read something about the pillars representing the higher and lesser priesthoods. I dug that too. You know, I'm beginning to realize I don't have much of a place here on a discussion board. Sources are necessary in defending your argument, no doubt about that. I feel like the Spirit kinda melds all my sources together. I can't really accurately explain this to others.

Don't worry about it.

There are a bunch of scholars here, so you can expect to get hit up for resources if you are posting scholarly material.

I rarely give sources; I just shoot off my mouth and have fun. The "argument from authority" only works for scholars. There are people who are big-picture oriented and people who are detail oriented. Scholars tend to be detail oriented, artists are big-picture oriented.

Different personalities, that's all

If you put the words "I think" in front of everything you post, no one can argue! Doesn't matter where you got the idea!

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Don't worry about it.

There are a bunch of scholars here, so you can expect to get hit up for resources if you are posting scholarly material.

I rarely give sources; I just shoot off my mouth and have fun. The "argument from authority" only works for scholars. There are people who are big-picture oriented and people who are detail oriented. Scholars tend to be detail oriented, artists are big-picture oriented.

Different personalities, that's all

If you put the words "I think" in front of everything you post, no one can argue! Doesn't matter where you got the idea!

Artists are detail-oriented too. Have you never had colour-theory classes? =)

The reason I asked for sources is that somebody is making claims about an ancient interpretation. I would like to be able to see the primary sources myself, to see how they reached that idea and to draw my own conclusions from it. Certainly is not a case of any argument from authority.

I like to understand things in an historical perspective, but maybe that is just me.

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Hahaha, I actually really did like that quote. Perhaps I need to learn to be more skeptical though. Sources, or not, I did find reading his book enlightening. I don't know if it was here (on this site), or somewhere else, but I read something about the pillars representing the higher and lesser priesthoods. I dug that too. You know, I'm beginning to realize I don't have much of a place here on a discussion board. Sources are necessary in defending your argument, no doubt about that. I feel like the Spirit kinda melds all my sources together. I can't really accurately explain this to others.

Littlefield (or anyone else) is perfectly welcome to that interpretation, but if it is his, I would rather he not pretend it is one held by the early kabbalists (or even earlier). If it was held by them, then why not share where it can be found?

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Littlefield (or anyone else) is perfectly welcome to that interpretation, but if it is his, I would rather he not pretend it is one held by the early kabbalists (or even earlier). If it was held by them, then why not share where it can be found?

Yeah brother, I understand and agree. I didn't get the impression he was claiming that was their view, but I wasn't looking for such. So thank you.

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BTW, I read an interesting essay in Truman G Madsen's anthology The Temple in Antiquity: Ancient Records and Modern Perspectives.

Jachin and Boaz in Religious and Political Perspective

Carol L. Meyers

Two pillars flanked the entrance to the sacred center of Solomon's temple in Jerusalem. Aside from their utility and beauty they had symbolic meaning, as did many other structures and appurtenances of the ancient temple. In the present essay Carol L. Meyers brings to bear recent research on these pillars which shows: (1) that the olive wood and cedar were chosen for specific and temporal reasons; (2) that the pillars were seen in cosmic perspective, somehow reflecting in a microcosm the theory of the dwelling of the heavenly realm; (3) that they were perceived as a gate to holy space and to holy time, and provided both a fortress and a sanctuary for ritual acts; and (4) that they suggested the identification of religious and political power under divine sanction (thus the temple locus and rituals legitimatized the state). This essay is published by permission of Joseph Fitzmeyer on behalf of the Catholic Biblical Quarterly.

The general fascination of traditional and critical biblical scholarship with the nature and appearance of the Jerusalem (Solomon's) temple is epitomized in many ways by the unremitting interest in the twin pillars flanking its entrance. Over the years, countless attempts have been made to explain, describe, and otherwise comprehend these elaborately commented features of ancient Israel's premier religious edifice. Their enigmatic names as well as the tantalizing availability of certain kinds of archaeological data have added to the range and complexity of the scholarly discussion. 1

This extraordinary attention accorded to Jachin and Boaz, which are known only from the Old Testament text and not directly from excavated material, is the result of two interrelated difficulties. First, the text in 1 Kings 7 (vv. 15-22, 41-42), which is the major source of information about these columns, is replete with textual problems and lexical obscurities. Second, the other texts that mention them 2 provide information which is often at odds with the core passage in 1 Kings 7. That this situation is to be expected, since the texts come from a span of hundreds of years during which the temple itself was altered repeatedly, 3 does not diminish the difficulty in attempting to utilize all the biblical passages which mention the two pillars. As a result of these two problems, it has been virtually impossible to establish a secure reconstruction of either their appearance or, equally significant, their architectural placement and function.

Our discussion here will not add to the plethora of materials that have sought to delineate Jachin and Boaz with respect either to their form or their position. Rather, it is our contention that their significance within the Solomonic building scheme can be examined apart from the obscurity of their physical existence. That does not mean that their size, shape, and situation can be ignored. Instead, it means that an understanding of their meaning and importance need not be tied to any absolute resolution of concrete details. To put it another way, the symbolic value of Jachin and Boaz can be apprehended without full knowledge of their physical reality.

That they must be examined from the standpoint of symbolism is apparent from their unique situation, both as features in the architectural ground plan of the Solomonic temple and simultaneously as items in the repertoire of objects and appurtenances associated with the temple's usage. While scholars have struggled to locate the pillars on the hypothetical blueprint of the Jerusalem temple, thus attributing to them some participation in the architectural realm, most have also been cognizant of the fact that their description in the 1 Kings temple passage is not included in the verses relating the structural details of the temple. Rather, Jachin and Boaz stand at the beginning of the series of bronze vessels 4 made by the craftsman Hiram of Tyre, as outlined in 1 Kings 7:13-45. Seemingly without structural significance, they have been considered by a few scholars to be purely decorative or ornamental, but by most to have symbolic significance. The variety of suggestions for the latter role is noteworthy, 5 indicating a strong measure of conjecture.

While the meaning of the pillars evaded the generation of scholars in the thirties and forties who investigated the Jerusalem temple in the light of Near Eastern archaeology, the existence of such pillars flanking the entrances to other sacred structures of the ancient world was established. The most notable example is the temple of Tell Tainat, 6 of singular importance in its close architectural relationship to the temple described in 1 Kings. Other remains of such columns were identified in the Syro-Palestinian area. Jachin and Boaz thus could be recognized as related to features that existed in at least some other major temples of the Late Bronze Age or early Iron Age. While the most recent discussions of the twin pillars acknowledge such analogies, they admit that uncertainty about their meaning nonetheless remains. 7

Such persistent uncertainty cannot be relieved at present by any fresh information available from philological study of the biblical text describing the columns, nor from evidence provided by current archaeological research. What can be done, however, to remove some of the enigma is to analyze their meaning in the context of the extended socio-political role that religious edifices played in the ancient world. Religion and ritual are not to be seen as isolated or compartmentalized features of Israelite life. Rather, the cultic ceremonies and sacred structures of ancient Israel must be seen as part of the political ideology of the realm. 8 For the period of the Solomonic temple's construction, the realm happens to be a monarchy with imperial extent.

Biblical Data

As we have asserted above, the peculiar significance of Jachin and Boaz is related to their existence simultaneously as architectural features of the temple and as bronze objects associated with the inner courtyard (hehazer happenimit). Several features of the biblical description must be stressed in this connection.

The twin pillars stand at the entry to the ulam, variously translated "portico," "porch" "vestibule," or "entrance hall. 9 Whether or not they are structural irrelevant to the fact that they are clearly associated with the 'ulam "He set up the pillars at the ulam of the temple" (1 Kgs 7.21; cf. v. 19). None of the above translations of ulam, however, indicates the ambivalence of its nature within the overall temple plan. Understanding this ambivalence is essential for our investigation of the pillars at the entry to the ulam.

The 'ulam is generally considered the outermost of the three parts of the Jerusalem temple, which seems to have had a tripartite plan similar to that of the Tainat megaron and other Syro-Hittite temples of the late second and early first millennia. Yet several features of the 'ulam must be underscored insofar as they cast some doubt on its being an integral part of the tripartite plan.

The side chambers of the temple, the importance of which should not be overlooked in that they represent more than twice as much floor space as the temple proper, 10 flank only the hekal ("main room," "nave," etc.) and its subdivision, the debir ("holy of holies," "inner sanctuary," etc.). The 'ulam is thus set apart from the full temple structure.

The dimensions of the temple are given for the hekal and the debir together as a unit, sixty cubits long and twenty cubits wide (1 Kgs. 6:2). The measurements of the 'ulam are listed separately for this entity, which stood "in front of the house." The implication is that the 'ulam is an attachment to the temple or "house of Yahweh," 11 but not an integral part of it. In this connection, note also that the temple and tabernacle have the same proportions except that the latter, a portable structure, lacks the 'ulam.

The entrance to the 'ulam is of a different order from the entrance to the other two parts of the temple proper. Elaborate olive-wood doors (1 Kgs. 6:31) were constructed for the entrance to the debir. Cypress-wood doors were ordered for the passage into the hekal (1 Kgs. 6:33). Immediately following this sequence is a notice about the 'ulam which does not present a doorway, as one might expect from the flow of the text here. Rather, in a verse that is out of character with the preceding doorway passages, (1 Kgs. 6:36), the construction of the inner court is mentioned, anticipating its fuller description in 1 Kings 7:12. Instead of a presentation of an entrance to the 'ulam, which would be expected to be included in this series of doorway descriptions, another kind of information, the manner of construction of the inner court, is provided since there was no door to the 'ulam to describe.

Details of wood paneling for the walls, ceiling, and floor of the hekal and its innermost shrine (debir) are enumerated in 1 Kings 6:15-20, with the gold overlay for the inner shrine also being delineated. No such information is provided for the 'ulam.

The lack of comparable data concerning walls and ceilings for the 'ulam is related to the manner of the latter's construction. The 'ulam is constructed of triple courses of large hewn stones surmounted by a wooden superstructure of cedar beams (1 Kgs. 7:12; cf. 6:36). 12 This is identical with the technique for building the great court of the palace area and also the temple court (hehazer happenimit). In other words, the construction technique of the 'ulam is linked, not with that of the internal space of the hekal/debir of the House of the Lord, but rather with the open or external space, the courtyards.

This series of details concerning the 'ulam indicates that it is perhaps best understood as a courtyard to the temple, the microcosmic House of God. Inasmuch as the temple was the earthly counterpart of God's heavenly dwelling, 13 it would not have been complete without that indispensable feature of a permanent Near Eastern residence, a courtyard. 14 Thus the 'ulam needs to be defined more precisely than by such terms as "porch" or "portico." Rather it belongs to the conceptual world of courtyards. Thus pillars at its entry stand within the realm of gateposts, marking the entryway to the larger domain of the deity, which includes court as well as house proper.

Several other features of Jachin and Boaz, as delineated in the biblical text, must be stressed. These pillars, notwithstanding the difficulty in reconstructing their appearance on the basis of the 1 Kings description, were clearly imposing entities. This is so on two accounts.

First, they were of great size, the columns themselves being eighteen cubits high according to 1 Kings 7:15 (cf. 2 Chr. 3:15 and Jeremiah LXX, which record thirty-five cubits). Each column was surmounted by a capital or double capital 15 of at least five cubits. They thus stood no less than twelve meters high and were nearly a meter in diameter. If these dimensions (or at least the diameter, which is the only relevant dimension in terms of archaeological remains) are compared with the measurements of analogous column bases uncovered at entryways to Semitic temples, it becomes clear that Jachin and Boaz were considerably larger. Indeed, the Solomonic temple as a whole appears to have been significantly bigger than its analogues. Tainat, 16 for example, is roughly two-thirds the size of the Jerusalem temple of 1 Kings and lacks the side chambers which, it must be underscored, augment the size of the temple in its outward appearance.

Second, Jachin and Boaz, or at least their capitals, were extraordinarily elaborate. There is considerable attitude in the specific interpretation of the description in 1 Kings 7:16-20 and 41-42, but there is consensus that the capitals belong to the category of floral capitals that were characteristic features of monumental architecture in the biblical world. If there be any doubt as to their striking appearance, the credentials of the artisan, whose Tyrian father was a "worker in bronze . . . full of wisdom, understanding, and skill" (1 Kgs 7:14), serve to emphasize the artistry involved.

If we emphasize the striking size and appearance of Jachin and Boaz and ignore the artistic detail of the internal furnishings of the temple, we do so because of the public visibility of the pillars in contrast to the invisibility of the temple's interior. The temple was not a house of worship but rather a residence for God. As such, the inside of the temple was essentially off limits, unseen by the population as a whole or even by the general clergy. 17 The connection of the laity and of anyone but the designated priesthood with the Jerusalem temple was thus relegated to the space outside the temple proper. The courtyard of the temple was thus the focus of "public" involvement with the temple, the place of sacrifice, of justice, of song and dance, of procession. 18

Aside from these pillars, a rather flat and relatively unbroken exterior would have presented itself, fortress-like, to the external viewer. 19 Thus the twin pillars loomed large at the entry to the temple, providing the visual link to the unseen grandeur within. Understanding their symbolic value becomes all the more critical from such a perspective, since they stood to represent to the world at large that which existed unseen within the building.

Iconographic Data

The archaeologically recovered remains of pillars flanking temple entrances have already been noted. In addition to such parallels, there are graphic renderings which depict pairs of columns on seal cylinders, brick reliefs, seals, stone vessels, and bronze gates. From earliest times, artistic convention in the Near Eastern world relied upon such depictions to convey the image of the divine dwelling reached by passage through doorposts and/or gateposts. 20 In a kind of graphic synecdoche, particularly appropriate to the small-scale glyptic art in which the preponderance of such renderings are found, two vertical posts flank a scene the content of which leaves no doubt that those posts represent the sacred structure within which that scene is being enacted.

With respect to the content of such scenes, one pertinent observation can be made: the scenes are basically of two kinds, mythic and cultic. In the former instance, particularly clear in the vigorous naturalism of seals from the old Akkadian period, 21 a god in his cosmic setting is flanked by gateposts which are sometimes accompanied by the doorkeepers controlling the important access through these doors. The god steps out on his mountain peaks, sun rays streaming from his shoulders, master of his heavenly abode. The awesome and vast cosmic sweep of the god's dwelling is made comprehensible to humanity by the architectural reality of the gateposts, the finite structures giving access to the infinite realm of the god. In another kind of mythic scene, the god enthroned in his celestial palace appears seated between tall posts or standards, representing the structure in which his throne of repose is situated.

The other kind of scene, depicting cultic activity, shares with the mythic motifs the convention of twin pillars standing for a whole building. The presence of worshippers approaching god, or more likely the god's statue, identifies the cultic nature of these compositions. Such worship scenes include representations off flanking pillars of the same character as those in the mythic scenes. In so doing, they convey the idea that the earthly temple, indicated in pars pro toto fashion by the gated entryway, is to be identified with the god's cosmic abode.

The features of these doors or gate leaves, insofar as they are discernable in the minute modeling of cylinder seats, show them to be fashioned after the columns used in monumental temple architecture. For the early Sumerian period, for example, the bound reed bundles that formed the structural supports of the earliest shrines are used to indicate such shrines. 22 Columns with scroll capitals or volutes appear in other contexts, such as Hittite seals and Palestinian model shrines, 23 attesting to contemporary architectonic fashion.

This kind of iconographic material demonstrates two aspects of the ancient visual arts relevant to our consideration of Jachin and Boaz.

First, inhabitants of the biblical world, from Sumerian times down through the neo-Assyrian period and later, were familiar with a variety of iconographic depictions of shrines in which the whole structure or temple was indicated by a pair of columns. These columns seem to represent either the doorposts of the shrine itself or the gateway that provided access to the sacred area as a whole. It is often difficult and perhaps ultimately meaningless to make such a distinction, although the isolated nature of the pillars without overhead framing would tend to support the idea of courtyard gates. The critical meaning is the notion of passage from profane space to holy space, from the mundane to the supra-mundane. The doors and/or gates stand for the holy and mark this highly significant boundary.

Second, there exists an identity in the conventions for depicting the god's cosmic palace shrine and his earthly temple shrine. This merging of iconographic representation is the visual counterpart of what is ritually and symbolically expressed in the temple service, whereby ritual actions bring about the presence of the deity into the earthly counterpart of his heavenly dwelling.

Temple Architecture and State Ideology

One of the most fundamental aspects of ancient thought systems, and one which Western man must often struggle to recognize inasmuch as it is essentially foreign to modern secular polities; is the identification of the socio-political power structure within the deity. 24 The exercise of power is not simply the result of the agreement of the governed, as it is for charismatically claimed leadership. Rather, the essentially coercive power represented by dynastic states derives legitimacy from the close connection of such states with divine sovereignty. The religious sphere is hardly separate or autonomous; rather it is an integral and critical component of political power and authority. It provides divine and incontrovertible sanction for state actions that otherwise might not be popularly acclaimed nor seen as generally beneficial. 25

Such an understanding of the interrelatedness of religion and politics, of temple and kingship, in the biblical world has been well established. However, this appreciation of the cultic expression of socio-political values has not focused directly enough on the matter of communication. If a religious ideology is to be effective in consolidating and sustaining support for the regime, it must be successfully communicated at least to that portion of the population responsible for implementing state policy.

What are the mechanisms for conveying the fundamental message that the god is inextricably connected with the dynastic power? There are three possibilities. 26 Perhaps the most effective means would be the written word; yet in the ancient world, with minimal literacy and expensive modes of publication, the written message receives in importance. The second possibility, the verbal or oral form of communication, would thus have been essential, though this is the most elusive for us since it is available to us only as it has been preserved in writing and thereby relegated to the form of the written message. Finally, the visual message would have played a significant role, providing the sustained availability of the written word along with the wider accessibility of the spoken word.

The temple constructed in any dynastic capital, by its very existence, was the visual communication of the divine component of and support for the political realm. The construction of a new capital, with palace and temple, by the initiator of a political structure was not only a pragmatic establishment of a locus for the bureaucracy of government but also a symbolic statement, communicating both to eye witnesses and to those further afield, who merely heard of the capital splendors, that the god was the guarantor of the state.

The transformation of the mundane materials

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Artists are detail-oriented too. Have you never had colour-theory classes? =)

The reason I asked for sources is that somebody is making claims about an ancient interpretation. I would like to be able to see the primary sources myself, to see how they reached that idea and to draw my own conclusions from it. Certainly is not a case of any argument from authority.

I like to understand things in an historical perspective, but maybe that is just me.

Well we know about generalizations and assumptions don't we?

I am just not a scholar so I have to rely on my ability to B... I mean, my strong intellectual powers. :P

No seriously, the intellectual portion of my testimony has greatly increased aided by guys like you who actually know what they are talking about.

I have a much stronger testimony of the historicity of the scriptures since hanging out in this crazy place.

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I am just not a scholar so I have to rely on my ability to B... I mean, my strong intellectual powers.

Watch it! You almost let slip a trade secret! We don't want just anyone to be able to do it!

Seriously, thanks for the compliment.

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Seriously, thanks for the compliment.

It's a mistake I won't make twice! :P

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It's a mistake I won't make twice! ;)

After such a comment I'm not sure you'll be around long enough for it. :P

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After such a comment I'm not sure you'll be around long enough for it. :P

;)

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