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Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol IX:
Epistle to Gregory and Origen's Commentary on the Gospel of John.: Chapter XXII

Early Church Fathers  Index     

22.  The Temple of Solomon Did Not Take Forty-Six Years to Build.  With Regard to that of Ezra We Cannot Tell How Long It Took.  Significance of the Number Forty-Six.

The Jews therefore said, “Forty and six years was this temple in building, 5106 and wilt thou raise it up in three days?”  How the Jews said that the temple had been forty-six years building, we cannot tell, if we adhere to the history.  For it is written in the third Book of Kings, 5107 that they prepared the stones and the wood three years, and in the fourth year, in the second month, 5108 when Solomon was king over Israel, the king commanded, and they brought great precious stones for the foundation of the house, and unhewn stones.  And the sons of Solomon and the sons of Hiram hewed the stones and laid them in the fourth year, and they founded the house of the Lord in the month Nisan and the second month:  in the tenth p. 403 year in the month Baal, which was the eighth month, the house was finished according to the whole count and the whole plan of it.  Thus comparing the time of its completion with the period of building, the building of it occupies less than eleven years.  How, then, do the Jews come to say that the temple was forty-six years in building?  One might, indeed, do violence to the words and make out the period of forty-six years at all costs, by counting from the time when David, after planning about the building of the temple, said to Nathan the prophet, 5109 “Behold I dwell in a house of cedar, and the ark of God dwelleth in the midst of the tent,” for though it is true that he was prevented, as being a man of blood, 5110 from carrying out the building, he seems to have busied himself in collecting materials for it.  In the first Book of Chronicles, 5111 certainly, David the king says to all the congregation, “Solomon my son, whom the Lord hath chosen, is young and tender, and the work is great, because he is not to build for man but for the Lord God.  According to my whole power I have prepared for the house of my God, gold, silver, brass, and iron, wood, stones of Soom, and stones for filling up, and precious stones of many kinds, and all sorts of precious wood, and a large quantity of Parian marble.  And besides this, for the pleasure I have taken in the house of my God, the gold and the silver I possess, lo, I have given it for the house of my Lord, to the full; from such supplies 5112 I prepared for the house of the saints, three thousand talents of gold from Suphir, and seven thousand talents of stamped silver. that the houses of God may be overlaid with them by the hands of artificers.”  For David reigned seven years in Hebron and thirty-three years in Jerusalem; 5113 so that if it could be shown that the beginning of the preparations for the temple and of David’s collecting the necessary material, was in the fifth year of his reign, then, with some forcing, the statement about forty-six years might stand.  But some one else will say that the temple spoken of was not that built by Solomon, for that it was destroyed at the period of the captivity, but the temple built at the time of Ezra, 5114 with regard to which the forty-six years can be shown to be quite accurate.  But in this Maccabean period things were very unsettled with regard to the people and the temple, and I do not know if the temple was really built in that number of years.  Heracleon pays no attention to the history, but says that in that he was forty-six years preparing the temple, Solomon was an image of the Saviour.  The number six he connects with matter, that is, the image, and the number forty, which he says is the tetrad, not admitting of combination, he connects with the inspiration and the seed in the inspiration.  Consider if the forty cannot be taken as due to the four elements of the world arranged in the building of the temple at the points at issue, 5115 and the six to the fact that man was created on the sixth day.



John ii. 20.


1 Kings v. 18.


1 Kings vi. 1.


2 Sam. vii. 2.


1 Chr. 22:8, 1 Chr. 27:3.


1 Chron. xxix. 1-5.


LXX. reads “besides what;” neither reading yields a good sense.


1 Kings ii. 11.


Ezra vi. 1.


Reading ἠγωνισμένοις.  Another suggested reading is γεγωνιωμένοις, which might give the sense “at the corners.”  Neither is satisfactory.

Next: Chapter XXIII