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Most Holy Place The Holy of Holiest, the Ark and the Two Cherubim



Gold in the Temple of Solomon, The Garden of Eden, the Margolit, Almugim, Golden Tables and Industrial Gemstones    


The Prophet Jeremiah and the Five Guardians of Solomon’s Temple Treasures

Part Seven

by Robert Mock MD

March, 2003



Mishnah 5

Inventory of Treasures by King David, hidden at Segal Habar

The Garden of Eden in the Temple of Solomon

The Margalit Pearl

The Almugim Coral Tree

The Tables of Showbread or Tables in the Garden of Eden

Gold Overlay used in the Temple of Solomon

The use of Gold in the Wilderness Sanctuary

and the Temple of Solomon

The ‘Good Gold’ of Havilah

The ‘Parvaim’ Gold

The ‘Pure’ Gold

The ‘Pure, Red, Solid’ Gold

The Gold of Ophir

India, the Land of Ophir

The Tables of Showbread or Tables in the Garden of Eden

Diamonds in the Ancient World

The Hebrews and the Art of Engraved Gemstones

The Magical Worm, the Shamir, that cut and engraved stone

Building the Temple of Solomon with Precious Stones




In this Mishnah we will explore the evidence of new furnishing in Solomon’s Temple and art décor of exquisite beauty the was used to remind His people of their unusual legacy all the way back to the moment of creation.  The Lord of hosts designed a worship service for the Hebrew pilgrims that appealed and absorbed all their senses: sight, smell, taste and sound.  For them worship in the Temple of the Lord was a total body experience.


Here we are introduced to the Garden of Eden, not as the home of the progenitor of the human race, Adam and Eve, but as a literal place associated with the Temple and the services dedicated to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  The atmosphere of this paradise was cloaked in gold tapestries, gold electroplated Almugim trees and tables of gold.  All of this was within the atmosphere of the gold plated exterior of the Temple and the gold lined interior of the Great House, the Holy Place. 


The Almugim tree that is depicted here presents a unique place in the history and lore of the Temple. Here the Lord of hosts was using objects for the interior decoration of His House as works of artistic beauty to fulfill the purpose of elevating the minds of the children of Israel to their Creator. Yet the identity of the Almugim tree is elusive except for hints found in the discussion of cedar trees in the Bava Bashra.  To find these rare trees, the Levites would have had to go to Eliot and Ezion Geber, the port where the Solomonic shipyards were located and where he launched his merchant fleets to sail the seas of the world searching for gold, peacocks, rare woods, and other precious commodities.  From the depths of the Red Sea, now the favorite site of scuba divers, we may find the home were the Almugim trees were grown.


What about the Margaliot?  Gold was not the only precious resource used in God’s earthly house. Here again in this Margaliot we find another enigma in the Temple tradition.  Identified linguistically as a “Pearl”, temple researchers must once again reevaluate the use of “pearls” in the construction and ornamentation of the Temple.  Here the literal blends with the mystical and allegorical descriptions by the Jews.  The parable of Jesus of the ‘Pearl of Great Price’ and John’s vision beholding a New Jerusalem, who gates were made of pearls, brings this natural treasure into the symbolism of sacredness and other dimensional realities.


Also within the Garden of Eden were found tables of gold.  Was the Holy place actually depicted as the Garden of Eden or do we have evidence of other tables within the temple complex. 


First it is important to evaluate the little understood furnishing called the Table of Showbread.  This table did not the awe and other-dimensional power of the Ark of the Covenant, the visual and mystical aura of the lamps on the menorah, the spectacular aromatic sound and light shows associated with the Altar of Incense with the flashing lights and fire effects, smoke and tantalizing smells as the frankincense was sprinkled on the Altar.


The Tables of Showbread with the stacks of Showbread was simple and inconspicuous. Or so we seem to believe.  Yet the table for the basic ‘staff of life’ was symbolic of the physical man and the tribes of Israel (twelve showbread) standing in the presence of the Lord of hosts (Presence Bread) in the Holy of Holies (the Throne of God)

Here we are introduced to the complexity of the Table of Showbread, the covering, the stacks of twelve loaves of showbread, the ventilation tubes, the Ke’arot of golden molds, the Kappot the golden bowls or plates, the container containing the frankincense called the bezikim, the kesawot used for wine libations and the menakkiyyot or the golden dippers.


What then were these tables in the Garden of Eden?  Structurally the Temple was laid out as a blueprint of the Garden of Eden.  So was the Table of Showbread the same as table in the garden?  Was the Garden of Eden another name for the Holy Place as some Jewish author were suggesting?  Yet in the Eden model, when Adam and Eve approached the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge, they were also approaching God.  If these two trees were symbolized in the two pillars that guarded the sacred premises of Solomon’s temple, then the ‘garden’ was outside the temple proper.  Therefore the Court of the Temple could have been the Garden of Eden and the visual description of this garden was on the patios that all the children of Israel could enjoy and admire as they came to worship their God.


Gold, Gold, Gold!  This precious metal has fascinated scholars as they attempted to identify the purported vast wealth of Solomon.  The final resting place of his treasury archive has sent explorers to Luxor and the Valley of the Kings in Egypt, to Axum in Ethiopia, to Elephantine Island in the Lake Nasser in southern Egypt, to the archived of the Vatican, or to find the treasury hoard that was taken from Rome by the Vandals and deposited in the French and Spanish Pyrenees Mountain or to search for the treasures of the Templar's who held possession and explored for years the cavern system under the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.


The writers of this Mishnah in the Emeq HaMelekh state with conviction, “all the silver and gold that ever existed in the world, from the six days of creation until the day that Zidkiyahu became king, did not equal the value of the gold that was overlain on the temple from within and without.  There is no end, no measure, no set amount, and no weighing of the gold that overlaid the Temple and the face of the temple.”


This topic of Solomon’s gold cannot be researched without analyzing the ‘types’ of gold used in the Temple construction.  This included ‘gold’, ‘pure gold’, the gold of  ‘Ophir' and the gold of ‘Havilah’, ‘good gold’, ‘red gold’ and the gold from the region of the east called Parvaim. 


What we do know is that the exterior of the Tower called the Holy Place of the Temple was covered in its entirety with gold.  The interior of the Great Room plus the interior of the smaller “Shrine Room” called the Holy of Holiest was covered in a special Parvaim or Red gold. 


All the furnishing of the temple, the ark, the cherubim, the altar, the menorah and the tables of showbread, the almugim trees and the almug trees, the interior décor on the walls of the temple with the ornamentations the tables in the Garden of Eden were all overlaid in gold.  For what reason?  Did the superb conductivity of energy found in the gold, the antiseptic and antibacterial properties within this precious metal become the secret weapon of the Lord of hosts to preserve His chosen people?


Yet even beyond gold, we now can systematically evaluate the use of gemstones in the temple.  Used in the construction of the temple, few scholars have attempted to describe the technological use of gems, such as diamonds and corundum. Yet the technological imprint of the twin diamond drill has been found in contemporaneous cultures to the united monarchy of Israel. The ancient descriptions of diamond faceting, diamond engraving on other gemstones of the ancients is now found in the archives of ancient technologies.


The Margaliot Pearls, the beautiful gold covered Almugim coral trees, the tables and tapestries of gold, are all part of the Garden of Eden found in the Temple of Solomon. This vast hoard of gold is now a contemporary primary document affirming the account of the construction of Solomon’s temple in the Books of Kings and Chronicles.  Here we see the magnificent golden Temple of Solomon, one of the most marvelous buildings constructed in the ancient world. 


Mishnah 5

There were 77 tables of gold, and gold [hangings] from the walls of the Garden of Eden that was revealed to Shlomo. Their radiance was like the brilliance of the sun and the moon that shine above the world. And all the silver and gold that ever existed in the world, from the six days of creation until the day that Zidkiyahu became king, did not equal the value of the gold that was overlaid on the Temple from within and from without. There is no end, no measure, no set amount, and no weighing of the gold that overlaid the Temple and the face of the Temple. All this, plus another 7,000 talents of gold, were brought and concealed in the "Segel Habar" (?) with precious stones with which the Temple was built, besides 3 rows of priceless stones and one row of Almogim (coral?) trees. [Of] the three rows of priceless stones, the length of each row was 7 cubits, and width 5 cubits, [of the cubits] established by David. The length of one Margalit (pearl? gem? building stone?) was 10 cubits. David prepared all of these for the Great House (Temple), for Shlomo, his son.


Inventory of Treasures by King David, hidden at Segal Habar


This Mishnah reveals the contents of the treasures that were preserved from the Temple of Solomon.  One of the dreams of King David was to build the house of the Lord.  It was the peak moment of his reign to be able to bring the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem, and he spent the remainder of his life preparing plans, pouring over architectural drawing, preparing the ritual and music for the temple services, building articles and furnishing to be used in the temple that was to be the home for this Ark. Yet, due to the fact that David was a warrior and renown for his heroic acts, the Lord of hosts would not allow him the privilege to build the temple.  This honor would be given to his son, Solomon.  These valuable articles of antiquity written in this Mishnah were part of the legacy of King David who prepared them for his son Solomon. They include:


·        77 tables of gold and golden wall hangings revealed to Solomon from the walls of the Garden of Eden. 


·        The golden overlay to the Temple of Solomon plus an additional 7000 (7) talents of gold.


·        Gem stones that were used to build the Temple. These were possibly gem cutting stones with the hardness of diamond (hardness 10) and corundum (hardness 9).


·        Three rows of priceless stones.  Each row of stones were 7 cubits by 5 cubits


·        One row of Almogim trees.


·        The length of one Margalit (pearl? gem? building stone?) was 10 cubits.


In a hidden depository called Segal Habar, we have another amazing inventory of treasures. The site and location of these treasures is unknown to this date.


In the tenth Mishnah, which we will read later, there is on inventory “70 tables made of fine gold which stood beneath the Tree of Life in the Holy Garden (Garden of Eden). It clearly identifies these tables as used for placing the showbread. What then is this first inventory, another 70 tables and 7 curtains, or is it 70 curtains and 7 tables or any mixture of the two?  


Later in this document, we will see that the showbread on the ten Tables of Showbread in the Temple of Solomon were replaced with new showbread every seventh-day Sabbath (Shabbat).  The older showbread, when it was removed from the tables of showbread was taken to a table or maybe several tables in the courtyard for the priests to eat.  Any event, we do know that there were other tables on the temple complex, which could be apart of this inventory.   


Two other interesting treasures are the Margalit, which is reported to be 10 cubits and the row of Almugim Trees.


The Garden of Eden in the Temple of Solomon


That the temples in the Middle East, whether Israelite, Canaanite, Sumerian, Babylonia, or Egyptian were built on an ancient model of a Holy Place and a Holy of Holiest and is well documented in the archeological findings. That this model so permeates the most ancient of cultures suggest a common ancestry of origin.


What is of interest is that all the temples were built on a model that was reflective of the Garden of Eden that was described in the first book of the Torah, the Book of Genesis. It is well known that when Adam and Eve were expelled from the garden, they were sent to the east and there at the gateway to the garden a cherubim and a seraphim (flaming or writhing torch) guarded the entrance.  By inference, to return back into the Garden, where God resided they had to go west.  The Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil both stood in the middle of the garden of the garden. 


So also the temple of the Lord was built on the same model.  The main entrance to the temple complex was at the eastern gate, and in the Ezekiel temple, this will be the gate in which the Lord of hosts will return to dwell in His temple.  At this entrance was the causeway that traversed the valley to the Mount of Olives where the red heifer was slain.

To enter the temple complex heading towards the Holy of Holiest where the Shekinah Glory dwelt on the mercy seat of the Ark of the Covenant one would have to travel west.  To leave the complex, one would have to travel east.  At the entrance to the middle of the temple complex was the Most Holy Place flanked by two pillars, the pillar on the left was called Boaz, coming from a root of uncertain meaning, and the pillar on the right Jachim, Yaw-keen, meaning, “It will establish.”


As such, the throne of God, or His dwelling place was at the western end of the Garden, so God’s dwelling place in the Holy of Holies was in the western end of the temple complex. The Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil stood in the middle of the Garden near where the two pillars, Boaz and Jachim stood at the entrance to the Holy Place.  The courtyard of the temple complex was the equivalence to the Garden of Eden, where Adam and Eve tending plants and cared for the animals that the Lord of hosts gave to their custody.  Finally there was a river that flowed from the Garden, the River of Eden, which Zechariah portrays in his future prophecies that in a temple at the Time of the End a fountain that will erupt from apparently the southern wall of the temple and will flow to the eastern (Dead Sea) and the western (Mediterranean) sea.  The Emeq HaMelekh identifies this river or fountain to be the Gihon River that will flow to the Euphrates River.


The artistic descriptions of the Temple of Solomon have come down to us in the Holy Writ, which envisions two major sections of the temple as seen by the priest during their ministry.  The Emeq HaMelekh now opens a new dimension in visual understanding of this glorious temple. 


Where was the ‘Garden of Eden’ as it relates to the temple of Solomon?  Within the complex of the Temple of Solomon it appears that a beautiful Garden in inexpressible beauty was created.  It was not a forested garden of plants like the Hanging Garden of Babylon or gardens created by Solomon for his wife, but a representation of the Garden of Eden completed with wall tapestries possibly of natural and plant scenes created from woven gold.  Also within the garden were ornamental trees carved out of almug, or red sandalwood and overlaid with Parvaim gold.  On these trees, carved ornamental fruit also from the almug tree were hung on the tree representing fruit of all seasons.  They were either clustered in three row sections or laid out in a row of fruit trees like those lining a street or boulevard.


The first impression would be that the Garden of Eden was actually the Most Holy Place.  This would seem reasonable, though not very accessible to the ordinary Israelite; it could be seen and enjoyed by those of the Levites and priests.  On the other hand, the typology would suggest that the Garden of Eden was in the courtyard.  If the wall hanging were woven of golden thread, they were be impervious to the elements of nature, while the beauty of the ornamental fruit trees made of red sandalwood and covered with gold. 

This was truly the wealth, architecture and exquisite design that legends are made from.  The wealth of Solomon though accepted by most scholars as legendary, now come alive with these inventories of Solomon’s treasures in these Mishnahs.  Here we can visualize the glory and beauty of the Temple of the Lord built by Solomon.  Here we can visualize in stark literal reality scenic wonders that greeted the eyes of the Israelite and the majesty of the entire temple complex that filled the sensory system of the Israelite while he worshipped.  He could feast his eyes upon literal visual images carved in gold or woven in golden tapestries as he dreamed of the ancient home of his ancestors, the Genesis Garden of Eden.  Yet, here resided the mystical yet real Temple of the Lord, where the Throne of the Lord of hosts resided.


The Margalit Pearl


Margalit: The Margalit, in Hebrew is tylgrm, means “Pearl” and is derived in the English name of Marjorie.  A derivative of the name, Margola, coming from the Hebrew, alagram, actually means Margalit is an object of supreme importance to this manuscript yet what it is no one seems to know with great certainty.  


The etymology of this name is obscure, but assuredly it is Hebrew, and can mean pearl, precious stone, Pearl of Beauty, gem, diamond cutter or daisy.  The language appears to be a part of several cultures but always associated with the Jewish people: archaic Hebrew, Aramaic, medieval Yiddish, Portuguese, Spanish-Sephardic, Greek or Byelo-Russian. There are a lot of Jewish families called Margola or Margalit and various other derivatives such as Margolies, Margoolies, Margulis, Margulies, Margulius, Margolin, Margolas, Margolus, Margoles, and Margules.  Whether this is due to the ancient heritage of their forefathers being pearl divers, craftsmen or traders is not known. 


In fact a whole village in southern France is called Margolit, because so many residents on the tax rolls were called Margolits.  Near Caesarea and Castel in the Judean Hills, is a wine house called Margolit, which produces 30,000 bottles of wine a year and considered by many wine lovers to operate the best non-kosher boutiques in Israel. 


When I posed the question of what was the ‘Margolit’ in the Emeq HaMeleck to Vendyl Jones, the archeologist most responsible for bringing the attention of this manuscript to the attention of the reading public, he expressed that he was not sure, but his son Gershon Bar-Yonas, now living in Jericho, readily replied, “The Margolit is a pearl. I named my daughter after it.”


Now let us return to the Emeq HaMelekh. Here we have a Margolit recorded to be 10 cubits.  One quickly reflects upon the parable of Jesus on the Pearl of Great Price. (Matthew 13:46) 


Other ancient traditions have come down to us about references in the ‘Zohar’ about the light within the Ark of Noah, which is described it as a round globe, which emitted a light within its own power or a large pearl in which a soft light spread throughout the ship. 


When I mentioned this to Gershon Bar-Yonas, he reflected and stated, “It was not a pearl, but a sapphire.”  Ancient legends are hard to account and to dismiss.  Even if the ancient world had a light source or a form of electricity, how would we know about it today?  I have over my head a convex dome with fluorescent lights about four feet across which has the appearance of a pearl.  If a priest from the Temple of Solomon, as a time traveler from the ancient past, walked into my study, would he look to the ceiling in my study and say, ‘That’s a Margolit”?


What was the purpose of the Margolit?  We do not know. We only know that it was an object of beauty with an inherent value like that of a gemstone.  Was a pearl even a recognized object of value in the ancient world?  Let us look at an ancient text, the Book of Jasher, from the time of Abraham and Nimrod, when Job, a counselor in the court of Nimrod gave a philosophical essay on the value of ‘wisdom’.


Job 28: 12-19 - “But where can wisdom be found?  And where is the pale of understanding?  Man does not know its value, nor is it found in the land of the living.  The deep says, ‘It is not in me’; and the sea says, ‘It is not with me.’


“It cannot be purchased for gold, nor can silver be weighed for its price. It cannot be valued in the gold of Ophir.  In precious onyx (cornelian) or sapphire (lapis lazuli).  Neither gold nor crystal can equal it, nor can it be exchanged for jewelry of fine goldNo mention shall be made of coral (black coral) or pearl (alabaster), for the price of wisdom is above rubies (red coral).  The topaz of Ethiopia cannot equal it, nor can it be valued in pure gold.”


The word for pearl translated from Hebrew is gabiysh (gaw-beesh) (Strong’s 1378) which is an unusual root suggesting freezing, like ice or a crystal, yet Strong’s dictionary translates it as a pearl. 


When we think of a pearl with such immense dimensions, our mind gets a little incredulous. Truly a pearl cannot be this big!  So our natural tendency is to spiritualize the description.  Before we do, let us consider one more text.  This is a description of the New Jerusalem.


Revelation 21:21 - “The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate being made from a single pearl.  The streets of the city were of pure gold, like translucent glass.”


Is this city, the New Jerusalem a literal city?  Is it just a spiritual city or a ethereal figment of our imagination?  Is you like I vote for a literal city, even if it is in the fourth dimension, then God is capable of creating a pearl that is ten cubits in size as well as gold that is translucent as glass.


The Almogim Tree


Almogim - In this Mishnah we are introduced to a special golden plated tree called the Almogim tree.  This is a unique word that is not found in the scripture.  At the same time, the trees called Almug and Almugim are spoken of and part of the imports by the sailing expeditions of the sailors of the fleets of Hiram and Solomon that went out of Ezion-Geber on the northern coast of the Red Sea. 


In the Bava Basra 80 (28 Sivan) is a discussion of the Ravs on the types of cedar trees.  These types included: Erez (cedar), Shitah (pine), va'Hadas (myrtle), v'Etz Shemen (balsam),...Berosh (box tree), Tidhar (teak?), u'S'ashur (?)"; but according to Rav Dimi, “also Alonim (pistachio), Almonim (oak) and Almugim (coral).

The Coral Kingdom Image - reef2078

Red Sea Marine Peace Park in the Gulf of Aqaba the most northerly coral reefs on the planet.  Co- Sponsored by Israel, Jordan and NOAA


So here we have our first hint.  Coral, as a plant product, was a native of the virgin waters of the Red Sea and with its beauty, would have been recognized as a valued building stone. Coral today is internationally renowned for its beautiful jewelry and many hues and colors.  We do know that coral is the basis of a lot of limestone depositions, which was the basic building stone of the temple. Even to today, many people have beautifully shaped corals as center pieces in their homes.


Not too far from Jerusalem, on the Red Sea at Ezion-Geber are some of the most beautiful coral reefs in the entire world.  In fact this reef is the most northern reef on this planet earth.  Eliot and Ezion-Geber today are popular destinations for Israelis and international scuba divers.


During the reign of Solomon, ships were built at the port city of Eliot (Ezion Geber), near the Biblical Ezion-Geber. There the Israeli - Phoenician fleets plied the oceans of the world bartering for gold, peacocks, Almug (sandalwood).  They also went to the famed nation of Ophir to trade copper refined at Solomon’s mines at Timna in the Sinai for gold.



The Coral Kingdom Image - reef2081Red Sea Marine Peace Park in the Gulf of Aqaba the most northerly coral reefs on the planet. 

Co- Sponsored by Israel, Jordan and NOAA


This Mishnah states in its description that there was ‘one row of coral (Almugim) trees’. Knowing well the strength and sturdiness as well as the beauty of the coral plus coming in shades of black, red, blue and white, we can now imagine a forest of coral trees used as decorations for the beauty for Temple of Solomon.  During the building of the temple, Solomon’s contractors and shipbuilders were working at the same time on the Red Sea at Ezion-Geber.  Did they have the capacity to visualize the beauty of the reef under the water?  And as such, would it not be a source of great beauty to lines the halls with museum size specimens of coral in multiple and vibrant colors and also plated fully or in part with gold.   


  The Table of Showbread or Tables in the Garden of Eden


The Table of Showbread as seen in the Emeq HaMelekh carries a new dimension with it in the descriptions associated with the Garden of Eden and the Tree of Life.  Placed on the northern wall of the Sanctuary (Exodus 27:35) it was described in the Septuagint as a table of solid gold.  On the other hand, the table of showbread made for the Mishkhan, the Wilderness Tabernacle under the supervision of Moses and Bezaleel, according to the Torah was made of acacia wood, two ells in length, one ell in breadth and one and one-half ell in height.  It was then covered with pure gold and a golden rim or border was placed around the top.  The table was carried by two gold covered acacia rods put through two rings on each side of the table. 


When transported with the attendant priests, it was covered by a purple-blue covering cloth, then the loaves and vessels were then placed on the purple-blue covering and a scarlet cloth was placed over them.  Then on top of all this a water-proofed seal skin cloth placed over the entire table.  (Numbers 4:7-8) 


Whereas the Mishkhan or the Sanctuary of Moses had one Table of Showbread in it, when the temple of Solomon was built, it had ten tables of Showbread.  (II Chron. 4:8)


Years later, after the exile was over, and after new temple of Zerubbabel was built, the land was once again overrun by the invasion military forces of Syrian ruler, Antiochus Epiphanes IV.  Along with the desecration of the temple, called the Abomination of Desolation, the golden table of showbread was stolen from the temple along with all the other articles of furnishing, (1 Maccabees 1:23) but a new table were later remade by the artisans under Judas Maccabees. (1 Maccabees. 4:49)


1 Maccabees. 1:22 - “In his arrogance, he entered the temple and carried off the golden altar, the lamp-stand with all its equipment, the table for the Bread of the Presence, the sacred cups and bowls, the golden censers, the curtain, and the crowns.  He stripped off al the gold plating from the temple front.  He seized the silver, gold, and precious vessels, and whatever secret treasures he found, and took them all with him when he left for his own country.  He had caused much bloodshed, and he gloated over all he had done.”


1 Maccabees. 4:49 - “They took unhewn stones, as the law commands, and built a new altar on the model of the previous one.  They rebuilt the temple and restored its interior, and consecrated the temple courts.  They renewed the sacred vessels and the land-stand, and brought the altar of incense and the table into the temple. They burnt incense on the altar and lit the lamps on the lamp-stand to shine within the temple.  When they had put the Bread of Presence on the table and hung the curtains. All their work was completed.


“Then, early on the twenty-fifth day of the ninth month, the month Kislev, in the year 148, sacrifice was offered as the law commands on the newly made altar of burnt offering.”


The dimensions of the Table of Showbread in the Mishnah are identical to the dimensions of the 12 loaves of showbread as if they were placed side by side over the entire table. Yet the picture in Josephus suggests that six showbread were stacked in two separate stacks with the dimensions of ten handbreadths long and five handbreadths wide.  According to Rabbi Akiba in dissent, the size was twelve handbreadths by six.  In the space between the two piles of showbread, the cups of incense were placed. 


The ventilating tubes placed beneath each showbread, is an addition not mentioned in the Torah, which suggests that the bread rested with no support on the table. (Men xi. 5) Yet according to the Mishnah it claims that there were fourteen ventilating tubes for each stack of bread.  Each ventilating tube was like a hollow pipe split in two with the open end of the pipe facing up.


On the table of the showbread, four temple vessels were used, the “ke’arot”, the golden molds in which the bread was baked, the “kappot” or hand-like bowls or plates.  Then there was the “bezikin” or container holding the frankincense, the “menakkiyyot” or the dippers, and the “kesawot” which some sages were used for the libations of wine while the Jerusalem and Samaritan Targumim state that they were molds to cover the bread.


In all the Gemara (Men. 97) suggests such a description. There were four fork-like supports that went to the floor, two on each side, in which they extended above the table of show bread.  On the table itself, were fourteen half tubes, closed on one end that were fastened to each other like a grate-like coaster.  Three tubes in a coaster went under each of the bottom four loaves and two tubes in a smaller coaster on the upper two loaves. (Josephus, “B. J.” v. 5, § 5; "Ant." iii.


Most Holy PlaceGold Overlay used in the Temple of Solomon


The Holy of Holiest, the Ark and the Two Cherubim


Myths and legends abound in the ancient literature abound in the beauty and the wealth that was built into the structure of the temple. If one can express beauty of the golden dome of the Moslem mosque, the Dome of the Rock, than can you image the entire temple of Solomon begin overlaid with gold. The morning and evening sun would glisten with the rays of the sun off the golden surface. Whereas the ark of the covenant was designed as a capacitor box with an outer and an inner layer of gold surrounding a box of shittim wood, so also the Inner Shrine, the Holy of Holiest in the Temple of the Lord was built of cedar wood and overlaid on the inside and the outside with gold. Yes, the Inner Shrine was another Ark, built as an huge capacitor designed to store an enormous amount of energy.   


1 Kings 6:16 - “Then he built the twenty-cubit room at the rear of the temple, from floor to ceiling, with cedar boards; he built it inside as the inner sanctuary, as the Most Holy Place.


In advance of the anticipated advance of the Babylonian army, the priests and Levites on the maintenance crew of the temple were no doubt frantically busy stripping off the gold overlay that was placed over the Temple of Solomon.  This gold could have been placed in a safe transport area, such as the Grotto or Genizah under Solomon’s Temple, until Jeremiah and the Temple worthies made plans to secretly store this gold away to prevent the Babylonian armies from carrying off the gold as booty of war. 


The gold overlay that was put on the outside of Solomon’s Temple in this Mishnah is not calculated and there its quantity is unknown.  No doubt this would have been an immense amount of gold.


In addition to this unknown quantity of gold there was also 7000 (7) talents of gold bullion in reserves that was stored in this location.

7 Talents of gold bullion = 525 pounds = 0.26 tons = 6,300 troy ounces = $2.2 million


As we evaluate the gold deposits we will be making conversions into to modern monetary conversions.  Here is our Monetary Conversion Table



Monetary Conversion Table

Talent- In the Hebrew system of measurement we have the following:  The talent, mina, shekel, Öpim, beka, and gerah. 

            Talent - 3000 shekels                                    75.600 pounds.

            Mina   -     50 shekels (60 Babylonian)           1.260 pounds.

            Shekel (‘to weigh’)                                            0.403 ounces            

            Fractional Shekels: 

                        Öpim, beka and gerah


The English system of measurement we have the following”

            1.00 pounds = 12 troy ounces

            1 English ton = 2000 pounds


The use of Gold in the Wilderness Sanctuary

and the Temple of Solomon


Like turquoise, in which each piece is so unique that it can be traced to a given mine anywhere in the world, so the gold of ancients was mined and used in its raw purity.  Like the modern tri-colored golden jewelry, gold takes on a different hue depending on the natural impurities and trace elements that are mixed with it.  In the ancient biblical account, and also in the Biblical record, we know that the ancients understood the difference in the quality of gold. 


The Good Gold of Havilah


Scholars and archeologists have puzzled over the various types and descriptions of gold.  The first indication of gold found in the Torah is called “Good Gold”. There in the remotest of antiquity, in the Garden of Eden, the Pishon river which flowed from the garden and encircled the land of Havilah. There in the Land of Havilah is where gold was found, and it was “good” gold. (Genesis 2:11).  This word in Hebrew was called zahab (zaw-hawb) coming from an (Strong’s 2091) unused root word, meaning to shimmer, gold-colored (yellow).  This same word is used for gold throughout scripture. This was the gold that the wilderness sanctuary was built with no qualification of type or origin.

The Parvaim Gold


Yet within the construction of the Palace of Solomon, the House of the Forest of Lebanon and the Temple of the Lord, we begin to get a differentiation of the types of gold used.  Of most interest to the Emeq HaMelekh is the usage of the word, “Parvaim Gold”. 


Yes, there was ‘pure gold’, that was used extensively throughout the temple of Solomon, yet here in these Mishnahs are described the use of Parvaim gold.  What was Parvaim Gold?  Only one time in the Old Testament is the use of Parvaim gold recorded. When Solomon began the construction of the House of the Lord, he used a special type of gold to be used in the Holy Place


II Chronicles 3:3-7 - “This is the foundation which Solomon laid for building the house of God:  The length was sixty cubits (by cubits according to the former measure) and the width twenty cubits. And the vestibule that was in front of the sanctuary was twenty cubits long across the width of the house, and the height was one hundred twenty.  He overlaid the inside with pure gold.” 


“The larger room (Holy Place) he paneled with cypress which he overlaid with fine gold, and he carved palm trees and chainwork on it. And he decorated the house with precious stones for beauty, and the gold was gold from Parvaim.  He also overlaid the house - the beams and doorposts, its walls and doors - with gold; and he carved cherubim on the walls.” 


We do note that “Parvaim” is truly a unique word in Hebrew, used only once in the scripture as noted above as lining the interior decor of the Holy Place. The word comes from the Hebrew word, parvayim (Par-vah-yim) which refers to an oriental region (Strong’s 6516).  Yet this gold is not called ‘pure gold’, but gold from the region of Parvaim. 


How was this gold differentiated from other gold. Notice that the house of God as built by Solomon was one large room in which on the western end was a smaller room, not as tall as the Holy Place, called the Holy of Holiest or the Inner Shrine.


Was this gold from Parvaim the gold of Havilah or the gold of India that the River Pishon encircled?  This would be reasonable as the land of India in ancient times and even more so today is known for its gold.  The wealth of the individual inhabitants is measured in the amount of gold they possess.  The women of India are the possessors of most of the gold, because the jewelry is part of the dowry and remains in the possession of the bride.  This is her insurance policy. So today, the nation of India has the largest personal hoard of gold in the entire world. 

The Pure Gold


Yet, there is another type of gold called “Pure Gold”.  This was differentiated from regular gold, zahab, and appeared to be used in special types of layering or ornamentation. This gold was called tahor (taw-hore), which in a physical, chemical and ceremonial sense was pure and clean (Strong’s 2889). This type of gold was to used in the Wilderness Sanctuary for the ark of the covenant (Exodus 25:11), the mercy seat (25:17), the table of showbread (25:24), the dishes, pans, pitchers, and bowls for pouring (25:29), the menorah or beaten candlestick (25:31,36, 38-39), the holding chains for the breast plate (25:14, 22), engraved plate for the turban of the high priest (28:36), and the altar of burnt incense (30:3).


The Pure, Red, Solid Gold



Inside the Temple: Holy PlaceWhen it came for the construction of the Temple of Solomon, whereas the King’s James Version states that ‘pure’ gold was used in building or constructing specific parts of the temple or furnishings, the New English Bible states that these were made of “Red Gold” and the Tanakh calls it “Solid Gold”.  In reality, the Hebrew word is truly a different word used in eight different usages called cagar (saw-gar) coming from a primitive root, having a meaning to enclose with something pure.


The Holy Place of Solomon’s Temple


What was built that was so special that it was to be used by a physical and ceremonially pure gold that is also called ‘Red’ or “Solid’ by some translators?  These special objects were the inside lining of the Holy Place (I Kings 6:21), the inside lining of the Holy of Holiest (6:21), the golden lamp stands (7:49, II Chronicles 4:20), the basins, the trimmers, the bowls, the ladles, and the censers (7:50, II Chronicles 4:22), and the vessels of the House of the Forest of Lebanon (10:21, II Chronicles 9:20).  Was this word meant to depict a type of pure gold that was a different color or hue or was it a description of whether it was to depict a solid as opposed to a gold laminate or covering?  Of this group, the only the lining of the Holy Place was designated as gold that came from Parvaim.


Even more, Solomon overlaid the entire exterior of the Temple of Solomon with gold and even the carved cherubim on the outside walls.  Yet the interior walls of the Holy Place and the exterior and interior walls of the Holy of Holiest were lined with “pure, red, solid” gold.  In distinction, the exterior of the temple was covered only with “gold”. It is interesting that all the vessels in the Palace of Solomon were made of gold, where the vessels in the House of the Forest of Lebanon were made of “pure, red, solid” gold. Once again, what is the meaning of these various distinctions in the Hebrew for gold? 


The Gold of Ophir


The Gold of Ophir is the most famous name for gold used in the house of the Lord and Seagoing vesselvaulted Solomon as the richest man in the world with the successful peril-oceanic sea voyages to Ophir for gold, algum trees, and precious stones.


Egyptian Navel Vessel - 1250 B.C.E.



I Kings 9:28 - Then Hiram sent his servants with the fleet, seamen who knew the sea, to work with the servants of Solomon. And they went to Ophir, and acquired four hundred and twenty talents of gold from there, and brought it to King Solomon.


I Kings 10;11 - “The ships of Hiram, which brought gold form Ophir, brought great quantities of almug wood and precious stones from Ophir.


I Kings 22:48 - Jehoshaphat made merchant Philistine man of warships to go to Ophir for gold; but they never sailed, for the ships were wrecked Ezion Geber.  Then Ahaziah the son of Ahab said to Jehoshaphat,”Let my servants go with your servants in the ships.” But Jehoshaphat would not.”


Philistine Man of War 10th century B.C.E.


I Chronicles 29:4 - “I (King David) have set my affection on the house of my God, I have given to the house of my God, over and above all that I have prepared for the holy house, my own special treasure of gold and silverthree thousand talents of gold, of the gold of Ophir, and seven thousand talents of refined silver, to overlay the walls of the houses; the gold for things of gold and the silver for things of silver, and for all kinds of work to be done by the hands of craftsmen. Who then is willing consecrate himself this day to the Lord?


3000 talents of gold = 225,000 pounds - 112.5 tons =

2.7 million troy ounces = 8.235 billion dollars


2 Chronicles 8:18 - “And Hiram sent him ships by the hand of his servants, and servants who knew the sea.  they went with the servants of Solomon to Ophir, and acquired four hundred and fifty talents of gold from there, and brought it to King Solomon.


450 talents of gold = 33,750 pounds = 16.875 tons =

405,000 troy ounces = 1.42 billion dollars.


2 Chronicles 9:10 - “Also, the servants of Hiram and the servants of Solomon, who brought gold from Ophir, brought algum wood and precious stones


Job 22:24 - “Then you will lay your gold in the dust, and the gold of Ophir among the stones of the brooks.  Yes, the Almighty will be your gold and your precious silver; for then you will have your delight in the Almighty.


Psalms 45:9 - This song set to the music of ‘The Lilies” was a song of love. It was to the Chief Musician, a contemplation of the sons of Korah.  Here is described the opulence of a Near Eastern royal wedding, with spices, royal persons from other countries and gorgeous wedding attire.


The Song for the coming King Messiah (Anointed One) and His bride


“Your throne, O God is forever and ever; a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom.  You love righteousness and hate wickedness; therefore God, Your God, has anointed You with the oil of gladness more than Your companions.  All Your garments are scented with myrrh and aloes and cassia, our of the ivory palaces, by which they have made You glad.  Kings’ daughters are among Your honorable women; at Your right hand stands the queen in gold from Ophir.


Isaiah 13:12 - “I will make a mortal more rare than fine gold, a man more than the golden wedge of Ophir.”  - Judgments upon all nations symbolic of Babylon.


India, the Land of Ophir


Yet where was Ophir.  It appeared to be a place famous for its gold as noted in the texts above. In the LXX, this word is rendered “Sophir” and “Sofir”, which is actually the Coptic name for the land of India, which is also, reflected the same in the Vulgate and the Arabic version.  In Josephus, he identifies Ophir with the Golden Chersonese or the peninsula of Malay. This is generally recognized with Abhira at the mouth of the Indus River in India. 


Actually the word, India, was not used in scripture until the Book of Esther (Esther 1:1 and 8:8, which depicted the extent of the farther reaches of the eastern border of the Persian Empire.  This was the land surrounding the Indus River, the Punjab region and not the Hindustan peninsula of India.  It appears at least after the Babylonian and Persian experience, the land of India carried on a thriving trade with the land of Judea. (Ezekiel 27: 15, 24)


It was Herodotus in his book, The History of the Persian Wars, III.106, written about 430 BCE, he wrote:


“It seems as if the extreme regions of the earth were blessed by nature with the most excellent productions, just in the same way that Hellas enjoys a climate more excellently tempered than any other country. In India, which, as I observed lately, is the furthest region of the inhabited world towards the east, all the four-footed beasts and the birds are very much bigger than those found elsewhere, except only the horses, which are surpassed by the Median breed called the Nisaean. Gold too is produced there in vast abundance, some dug from the earth, some washed down by the rivers, some carried off in the mode which I have but now described. And further, there are trees which grow wild there, the fruit whereof is a wool exceeding in beauty and goodness that of sheep. The natives make their clothes of this tree-wool.”


The land of India, ancient Ophir, to this day lives up to her ancient and legendary image. According to a recent report, the citizens of India possess approximately 29,000 tons of gold.  Only 400 tons of gold is held in public reserves by the government, yet the biggest bulk, 28,600 tons are held in private possessions by the Indian people themselves. In 2001, India imported according to public documents about $3 billion in gold.


Yet the name Ophir was known since the days of Noah and Ophir was associated also with Havilah.  The sons of Noah were Japheth, Shem and Ham. The descendants of Shem who were forefathers of Abraham were Arphaxad à Selah à Eber (where the name Hebrew comes form) à Peleg and Joktan. 


These lives of these two brothers are fascinating in the history of earth changes or catastrophes.  In Genesis 10:25 it states, “the name of one was Peleg, for in his days the

earth was divided, and his brother’s name was Joktan.”  In the name of Peleg, whose name means “watercourse” or “Division” we see at Peleg’s birth the watercourse rushing into the oceans under the continents as the earth began to split.  Here was the beginning of the separation of the continents of the earth from one continent land of Eden, known by geologists as Pangea, the earliest single land mass on this earth. Yet at the death of Peleg the Tower of Babel collapsed as civilization at Babel confronted the Lord of hosts, the Elohim.  At this time the continents began to separate and families and tribes living on each continental masses were separated from each other. 


The genealogies of the nations continue, when we see the sons of Joktan.


Genesis 10:26-30 - “And Joktan begat Almodad, Shelph, Hazarmaveth, Jerah, Hadoram, Uzal, Diklah, Obal, Abimael, Sheba, Ophir, Havilah and Jobab.  All these were the sons of Joktan. And their dwelling place was from Mesha (Media) as you go toward Sephar, the mountain of the east.”


What is of interest, the Queen of Sheba was a descendant of Joktan of the House of Shem, Arphaxad, Salah, and Eber.  So also Ophir and Havilah were of the same genealogical tree.  They were all Hebrews, or of the House of Eber, as were the children of Israel, though through distant cousins.   


It is interesting that we identify the Queen of Sheba with the legendary kingdom of Sheba in the Yemeni province of Marib.  Here archeologists are excavating a 10th century temple build during the reign of Balgis, the Queen of Sheba, according to Arabic traditions, which according to scholars was restricted only to the elite in the land.  To the east about 1.8 miles, in Aswam, is also the Moon temple also built in the thriving kingdom of Sheba.

Arsh Balqis temple in Marib, Yemen

 The Temple of Balgis, 10th century Queen of Sheba


Also the land of Saba (Sheba) is right across the Red Sea from Ethiopia, where history records the second most prominent home for the Queen of Sheba, in ancient Ethiopia.  Here we have by tradition, the birth of Meneyelek, born to Makeda, the Queen of Sheba and Solomon.  This history of the Solomonic dynasty of Ethiopia is recorded in the translation of the Kebra Nagast by Sir. E. A. Wallis Budge, the famous archeologist of Egypt.


The legendary abduction of the Ark of the Covenant to the land of Ethiopia according to the Kebra Nagast was done by Meneyelek and it is presently residing in Axum in Ethiopia.  To date, there is no one except the guardian of the Temple of Axum who has seen what is reputed to be the Ark of the Covenant. The tale of the Queen of Sheba as the wife of Solomon is the exotic story that has created vivid images for generations over thousands of years.  This story along has made its prominent mark in three Holy Books, the Hebrew Bible, the Ethiopian Kebra Nagast and the Holy Koran


In the biblical account, the Queen of Sheba, the Queen of Sheba came on a expedition of commerce, but also hearing:


I Kings 10:1-2 - “the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the Lord, she came to test him with hard question. She came to Jerusalem with a very great retinue, with camels that bore spices, very much gold, and precious stones; and when she came to Solomon, she spoke with him about all that was in her heart.”


The description of the house of Solomon and the conduct of his palace is interesting.  It is fascinating what impresses people. To the queen of Sheba, the conduct of the palace, the relationship of the king to his people and importance of how the king approached the God in which he served so moved this queen.


I Kings 10:4-5 - “And when the queen of Sheba had seen all the wisdom of Solomon, the house that he had built, the goods on his table, the seating of his servants, the service of his waiters and their apparel, his cupbearers, and his entryway by which he went up to the house of the Lord, there was no more spirit in her.”


And so Balgis or Makeda, the queen of Sheba and Ethiopia gave to Solomon:


I Kings 10:10 - “…one hundred and twenty talents of gold, spices in great quantity, and precious stones. There never again came such abundance of spies as the queen of Sheba gave to King Solomon.”


  120 talents of gold = 9000 pounds = 4.5 tons =

108,000 troy ounces = $37.8 million dollars


Today archeologists are digging in the Marib oasis for clues to the ancient history of the Sabeaean dynasty that built an agrarian culture, plus temples and great houses.  What is of interest is that all of the South Arabian Kingdom began as theocracies.


The kingdom of Saba was the dominate culture in South Arabia for about two thousand years.  A large dam, the Marib Dam was built to pool the waters of the seasonal floods and become the source of life to a large and complex irrigation system that fed and sustained over 30,000 inhabitants.  The Sabeaneas were known as supreme traders of the ancient world for they were located at the junctions of the trade routes between the east and the west.  The camels were domesticated about 1800 B.C.E. as well as the Arabian horse, and with both, they could travel great distances across arid deserts.  In 60 - 70 days the Sabeaean trade caravans could travel from Qana on the Indian Ocean to Gaza on the Mediterranean Sea. Here the “Gold and Incense Road” was protected as a sustenance of all the kingdom along its route.  Incense, grown in the farther reaches of lower Hadhramaut in the East was used in thousands of pounds a year in the temples of the Mediterranean and the Tigris-Euphrates Valley.


Along with incense, the Sabaean merchants transported ebony, silk, fine textiles from India, animal skins, feathers, gold and rare woods from East Africa.  By the 1st century A.D., the era of the Sabaean merchants was over.  The great Marib Dam finally collapsed about 570 A.D. according to Arab writers. 


Was the gold of Ophir and the gold of Havilah the same?  Chances are they are regions of India inhabited by close genetic cousins.  Was there a family dynasty that controlled the gold and spice road throughout the generations in the families of Sheba, Ophir and Havilah?   


What we do know is that the story of the Queen of Sheba is the link of two great people, the King and the Queen of two great empires, who met in one moment of time and left their legacy of love and dynastic power in the archives of great stories and legends of the world. There was one difference than most other dynastic romances, they both learned to love the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.


I Kings 10:6-9 - “Then she said to the king: “It was a true report which I heard in my own land about your words and your wisdom.  However I did not believe the words until I came and saw with my own eyes; and indeed the half was not told me.  Your wisdom and prosperity exceed the fame of which I heard.  Happy are your men and happy are these you servants, who stand continually before you and hear your wisdom!  Blessed be the Lord your God, who delighted in you, setting you on the throne of Israel! Because the Lord has loved Israel forever, therefore He made you king, to do justice and righteousness.”


Diamonds in the Ancient World


Gem stones that were used to build the Temple


The 9 carat Hermitage Diamond of the 16th century depicts the simple cut of three triangular facets on each pyramidal side.  Loaned Hermitage State Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia.


It is easy to overlook this hoard of gemstones, thinking that they are an inventory of stones in which the ancients had placed a economic or cultural value.  We must not forget that stones to the ancients also had significant mystical value.  How to appraise these stones today would be very difficult if we used the modern standard of gemology to them as the modern symbolic meanings given to gems are more attached to ego and economics status rather than mystical religious symbolism or attributes of personality.


The history of gemstones in the ancient world in their value as a technological tool is only in recent years been appreciated as their imprints in ancient technology is being understood by the modern archeologist coupled with the historian, the ancient art curator and the translator of ancient manuscripts.  The earliest known reference to the diamond, the hardest mineral in the world was found in a Sanskrit document called the Arthasastra ("The Lesson of Profit") by Kautiliya, a minister to Chandragupta of the Mauryan dynasty in northern India.  This manuscript is dated to 320-296 BCE.  It states:

"(a diamond that is) big, heavy, capable of bearing blows, with symmetrical points, capable of scratching (from the inside) a (glass) vessel (filled with water), revolving like a spindle and brilliantly shining is excellent. That (diamond) with points lost, without edges and defective on one side is bad."


Here the ancient Indians described brilliantly the process of faceting and the value assigned to facets, points and brilliants in a fine diamond octahedron.

Even so, no diamonds have been found in any ancient archeological site. Yet what have been found are the technological imprints of diamonds in the culture of the ancient world.  Holes in beads that are worn for purposes of personal jewelry have been found throughout the ancient world. 


Drills that use twin diamonds, as shown in the left photo, leave concentric grooves in the holes formed in hardstone beads, as shown in the right photo. The concentric grooves are characteristic of the use of a twin-diamond drill (American Museum of Natural History)


These holes have what is called the ‘diamond footprint’ with concentric grooves left by a twin-diamond drill.  These marking are unique and cannot be replicated by any modern or ancient drilling technique.  The work of the archeologists as discovered in the ornamental beads found with human remains have been  found in the lands of India, Thailand, Yemen, Sri Lanka and Egypt.  They all show conclusive evidence of twin-diamond drills as late as 700 CE and as early as the 4th century BCE in Yemen, the possible ancient land of Sheba. 


The power of gems upon the ancient minds is legendary.  The legends of the man searching for a precious gem are found in the literature of every ancient culture.  The ancient Indian culture was the first to take the value of the diamond and the record of its meaning to their culture and life


The "Ratnapariksa" by Buddha Bhatta is best known for its 6th-century BCE insight into the value of gems and the myths in their culture of legendary powers of gemstones.  To the Indian, the diamond octahedron was a gem highly valued.


"He who, having pure body always carries a diamond with sharp points, without blemish, free from all faults; that one, as long as he lives, knows each day will bear some things: happiness, prosperity, children, riches, grain, cows and meat. He who wears [such] a diamond will see dangers recede from him whether he is threatened by serpents, fire, poison, sickness, thieves, flood or evil spirits."


The diamond with the most prized value flashed a dispersion of light into a rainbow of colors.


"Even if it has blunt points, if it has a speck, a crack, the diamond that has the reflection of the rainbow procures wealth, grain and sons. The king who carries, so it is said, a beautiful diamond with glittering flashes has a force that triumphs over all other powers and becomes master of all neighboring lands."


Again to the ancient Indian, the diamond was supreme, not only because of its beauty and the brilliant radiance of its color, but because of its hardness and durability. 


"The gems and the metals that exist on earth are all scratched by the diamond: the diamond is not (scratched) by them. A noble substance scratches that which is noble and that which is not; the diamond scratches even the ruby. The diamond scratches all and is not scratched by any."


The Hebrews and the Art of Engraved Gemstones


At the base of Mount Sinai, the art of gemology was instilled in the consciousness of the ancient Israelites.  Because there is a bias against the antiquity of the Torah, most scholars do not give it the same respect and credibility as they would a similar Sanskrit Indian manuscript.  Yet as BibleSearchers, we have respect for the antiquity of the knowledge and industry of the Hebrews and recognize that in the 15th century, the art of faceting and engraving gemstones was an art and technology known to the fleeing captives from the land of Egypt. They were the industrial and technological powerhouse of the Old Dynasty of Egypt.


When the Sanctuary of the Congregation was being constructed in the Sinai wilderness in the 16th century BCE, the most ancient recorded assembly of engraved and possibly faceted stones was created and recorded. 


In the Book of Exodus, the Breastplate of the High Priest, called the Cohen Gadol, contained one stone that was white or colorless and called µwlhy or "yahalom."


In the 3rd century BCE when the Hebrew scriptures was codified by Ezra the Scribe, this word, meaning ‘smiter’ was translated to ‘adamas’ in Greek meaning ‘indomitable’.  Many have thought this to be a diamond. 


To the gemology historian, this produces a problem. The size of the stones on the breastplate would indicate that the diamond would be measured in inches, a stone of incredible rarity and value. The next problem is that the name of one of the tribes of Judah was engraved on this stone and diamonds, the hardest stone on earth cannot be engraved.  To the historians at the American Museum of Natural History, their third problem is the most serious. “The text (in the Torah) precedes knowledge of diamond outside of India.”  As such “yahalom” is translated as onyx, a milky white stone, used for pressing engraved images into clay seals.

What needs to be discussed is that the gemstone that was used to engrave the name of the sons of Judah on the twelve stones in the Breast Plate of the Cohen Gadol was probably a diamond.  Once again, we have to give the Israelites the same credibility as we do the Indians, the Sumerian and any other ancient culture.  It was the diamond that was used to engrave.


The twelve stones on the breastplate of the High Priest. (The Temple Institute)


We now know the trade routes of the ancient gemstones between Orient and the Greco-Roman world.  During this era, the word, ‘adamas’, became part of the lexicon of the Romans, about 100 CE, as known in the writings of Pliny the Elder (23-79 CE) during the last days of the Herodian kingdom of Judea, and by the evidence of engraved sapphires (hardness of 9) which have to be engraved by diamonds and the talismanic diamond rings. 


Theophrastus (372-322 BCE), Plato’s student who wrote the treatise, De lapidibus, meaning “On Stones” uses the Greek word adamas referring to emery, which in this instance was felt to be corundum, the chemical of rubies and sapphires, the next hardest mineral to diamonds.


Yet it was Pliny the Elder, author of the encyclopedia of the ancient world, Historia naturalis, who wrote before his death in the flames and ashes of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius,


"The substance that possesses the greatest value, not only among precious stones, but of all human possessions, is adamas; a mineral which for a long time, was known to kings only, and to very few of them...These stones [diamonds] are tested upon the anvil, and will resist the blow to such an extent as to make the iron rebound and the very anvil split asunder…."


"These particles (diamond bits) are held in great request by engravers, who enclose them in iron, and are enabled thereby, with the greatest facility, to cut the very hardest substances known."

Mediterranean Trade Route of the Gemstones


The art of engraving sapphires, cameos, and intaglios by the Romans in the first century can now be recognized as being a secondary product of diamond engraving points. It was from the Roman engraver that we had a reverse trade route, for the art of engraving now went back east clear to China, where its references to diamonds is in the possession of the Roman scribes.  The Chinese main interest was to utilize the diamond to make the priceless ancient jade engravings, and to use diamonds for drill bits for beads and pearls.


Building the Temple of Solomon with Precious Stones


This now get us to this present Mishnah, we are introduced to the “precious stones with which the Temple was built”.  This is a strange statement.  We consider precious stones for their beauty, rarity and evidence of social status, but rarely do we consider the ‘precious stones’ for their utilitarian value.


To date I have not heard nor read of any author investigating the technological value of gemstones such as corundum or diamonds to be used in the building and construction of the Temple of Solomon.  Extreme and rigid requirements were placed on the construction of the Temple.  


Prior to the actual building of the Temple of Solomon, all the major pre-construction preparation were done in advance.


I Kings 5:127-18 - “And the king commanded and they brought great stones, costly stones and hewed stones, to lay the foundation of the house. And Solomon’s builders and Hiram’s builders did hew them, and the stonesquarers: so they prepared timber and stone to build the house.


I Kings 6:7 - “And the house, when it was in building, was built of stone made ready before it was brought thither: so that here was neither hammer nor axe nor any tool of iron heard in the house, while it was in building.”


Consider seriously the implications of building an edifice without any iron or hammers.  Large and massive building stones were lifted and set in place in which the alignment was determined in advance.  The large massive doors of brass were lifted into place on hinges without the use of a hammer.  The walls were engraved with reliefs of cherubim and pomegranates without the use of any iron. The wooden ceiling, banisters and porticoes was fitted and embellished with the finest of craftsmen’s art without the plane or saw or hammer.  Yet they had precious stones in which they could build the temple.


The whole passage in the Book of Kings suggests that there was a certain dignity and quietness, a decorum that was to be maintained as the contractors and the artisans could feel the presence of the Lord in the House that they were constructing.  There was to be a spirituality of the Presence.  They were not to hear the pounding or banging of instruments of iron.  Was the literalness of the message also to have a spiritual connection?  Yet  within the House of the Lord, there was no injunctions of the Lord against the humming of diamond drill bits as they cut, polished and finished off the massive limestone walls, or trimmed the edges of the cedars of Lebanon, or engraved the wood on the porticoes, or drill holes into the limestone to set beams and stabilize pillars,  to embellish the trimming on the ceilings of the Holy Place, place engraved images on the Molten Sea or on the large doors that entered into the temple proper.   Is it not time to consider that Solomon with all his wisdom and wealth also had access to technology that we think are modern, only to someday know that the ancients were using them too? 


The Magical Worm, the Shamir, that cut and engraved stone


Sometime one has to go to the world of legends to find the revelation of truth.  The sages of the Hebrews puzzled long over the apparent difficulty of building the grandeur of the temple of Solomon without the known building tools of the iron chisel and hammer.  Yet the very use of these instruments was forbidden by the Lord of hosts. In the Pesikta Rabbati 6, 28a, it was also revealed that a hidden technology for moving large stones was also known to the ancients.


Pesikta Rabbati 6, 28a - The stones moved of their own accord; they flew and rose up by themselves, setting themselves in the wall of the Temple and erecting it."


Yet Solomon puzzled on how the temple of the Lord would be built without these building instruments.  The altar and the temple were to be an emblem of peace while the tools of iron had been corrupted as instruments of war, death and destruction.


The Shamir with Moses


According to Rabbi Judah, we have the Legend of the Shamir.  Solomon learned of an amazing little worm, no bigger than the grain of a barley that could cut through any stone on earth. It was better than the sharpest iron instrument known.  Solomon also learned that Moses also used this ‘worm’ in order to engrave the ten commandments on the stone that Yahweh had entrusted to him. Since that day, the ‘worm’ was kept in the custody of the demon Ashamed, the Prince of the Sea, who in turn kept it in the safe custody of the hoopoe bird (or woodcock). 


In the Mishnah Avon 5:6, the Shamir was created on the sixth day of creation and was given to the hoopoe-bird (woodcock) who kept it in her custody throughout the ages in the Garden of Eden.  This marvelous bird would on occasion take this worm and carry it across the earth, carrying it tightly in her beak, letting it down only to create a fissure on a desolate mountain peak so that the seeds of plants and trees could sprout and provide her food.


When the Israelites were camped near Mount Horeb/Sinai, the Lord brought the Shamir and gave it to Bezaleel to engrave the names of the twelve tribes on the twelve stones of the breastplate of the high priest, Aaron.  Then the Lord gave it back to the custody of the hoopie-bird.  Here she kept it in a leaden box, with fresh barley, wrapped in a woolen cloth.  That is until Solomon needed it to build the Temple of the Lord in Jerusalem.  Since that day, the Shamir has been lost.


As with all good rabbinic Talmudic debates, there was always a dissent.  Judah R. Nehemiah claimed that the stones were quarried and then brought to the temple in a finished condition for the building of the temple.  It appears that Rabbi Nehemiah’s argument carried the debate as most scholars today believe this also to be true. 


Of course, most Talmudic arguments were debated during the Roman imperial rule.  In Latin, the Shamir was known as smirks corundum, the substance of sapphires and rubies and the hardest known gem next to the diamond.  The substance of legends has a kernel of truth and now we know the ‘rest of the story’


This story took tremendous play in the middle ages and was retold by Ellen Frankel in The Classic Tales: 4.000 Years of Jewish Lore, Publ. Jason Aronson, 1996. It is also found in English language sources: Ginsburg, Legends of the Jews I, 66-69 and the Hebrew sources in Pirkei Avot 5:6; Sifre Deut. (ed. Friedmann), 355; Midrash Tannaim 219; B. Pesahim 54a; Avot de Rabbi Natan 37, 95; Pirke de Rebbe Eliezer 19; Tosefta Sotah 15:1-Bavli 48b; Yerushalmi 9, 20d.


Maybe within the hoard of the treasures of Solomon’s temple, we will find evidence of the technological sophistication, such as diamond drills, diamond and corundum bit saws that scholars have long felt did not exist in the 11th century BCE. 



Credits and Links:


Bible Searchers Sites

The Oracles of Zechariah by Robert D. Mock MD

Babylon and the Exile of the Jews by Robert D. Mock MD

Jeremiah and the Five Guardians of Solomon’s Temple Treasures  by Robert D. Mock MD

The Fountain that will erupt from the Temple Mount by Robert D. Mock MD


Vendyl Jones Research Institute Sites

Vendyl Jones Research Institute Home Page

Emeq HaMelekh  by the Vendyl Jones Research Institute

The Copper Scroll and the Excavations at Qumron by Vendyl Jones

Dead Sea Scroll Deception Part One by Vendyl Jones

Dead Sea Scroll Deception Part Two by Vendyl Jones

Dead Sea Scroll Deception Part Three by Vendyl Jones

The Ark of the Covenant by Vendyl Jones

A Door of Hope by the Vendyl Jones Research Institute

Ashes for Beauty--The Mysterious Ashes of the Red Heifer by Jim Long

The Gate Between Two Walls, by Vendyl Jones

Vendyl Jones and the Ark of the Covenant by Gerard Robins


Temple Mount Sites

The Temple Institute on recreation the Furnishing for the New Temple in Jerusalem

The Temple Mount Recent News by The Temple Mount Organization

The Temple Menorah and vessels for New Temple of Jerusalem

The Temple Mount in Jerusalem by the Temple Mount Organization

The Gihon Springs Temple Site by Ernest Martin


Emeq HaMelekh Sites

Emeq HaMelekh   by Robert D. Mock MD

Emeq HaMelekh  by the Vendyl Jones Research Institute

The Temple and the Copper Scrolls by the Order of the Nazorean Essenes

Emeq HaMelekh and the Ark in King Tut’s Tomb by Emeq HaMelekh  by the Vendyl Jones

The Treasures in the House of the Lord by Lambert Dolphin


The Table of Showbread

Images of Egypt by Clemson

Garmu, the Temple Bakers by Jewish Encyclopedia

Baking the Showbread by Jewish Encyclopedia

Table of Showbread by the Jewish Encyclopedia

Pyramid Age Baking by National Geographic and Harvard


The Almugim Tree

Solomon’s Plant Life: Plant Lore and Image in the Solomonic Writings by Lytton John Musselman

The Algum Tree for King Solomon’s Temple by The Ancient Grove and Garden

Bava Basra by Rabbi P. Feldman and Rabbi Mordecai Kornfeld

The Margaliot Pearl

The Etymology of the Margaliot by A. Margolis in France

Pearl, Queen of Gems by Virtual Sri Lanka


Faceted and Engraved Gemstones in the Ancient World

The Breastplate of the High Priest  by the Temple Institute

The History of Gemstones in the ancient world by the American Museum of Natural History

"Ratnapariksa" by Buddha Bhatta sixth century BCE description of faceted diamonds

Ancient History of Diamonds and Gems by the American Museum of Natural History

Legend of the stone eating worm, the Shamir by Jewish Heritage Online

Gems and Stone in Hebrew Legends by Jewish Heritage Online


Solomon and the gold of Sheba, and the land of India

Ancient History Sourcebook: Greek Reports of India & Aryavarta by Ancient History Sourcebook

India’s Gold Reserves by ICPD

King Solomon’s Navy by Artsales

Boats and Ships of Ancient Egypt by Artsales

Queen of Sheba’s Temple Restored by BBC News



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