In this week’s haftorah, the process of building the Holy Temple is described: the Jewish (and non-Jewish) recruits and how the foundational stone was hewn, transported, and laid.
Typically we see more prophetic accounts described in the haftorah portions, yet this excerpt reads more like a snippet of a contract. King Solomon raised a levy of 30,000 men from throughout Israel, to be sent to Lebanon in alternating waves of ten-thousand; the men were to be in Lebanon one month, with two months home. This orchestration was led by Adoniram.
A total of 70,000 men “bore burdens” in executing this project, with 80,000 hewers in the mountains. Even the hierarchy of middle management is described: Solomon’s chief officers, 3,300 who ruled over those who “wrought in the work.”
The Temple foundation was created from Solomon and Hiram’s builders from the stone and lumber brought from the tens of thousands of men called upon to claim it and carry it back from the mountains.
According to the portion, the Temple was 60 cubits by 20 cubits by 30 cubits high. “Cubits” are a unit of measure based on the length from the elbow to the middle finger-tip (about 18-inches) meaning we’re talking about 90-feet X 30-feet X 45-feet (so if you think the elbow-to-fingertip unit of measure is a bit odd, consider that our “feet” is also historically based on the average man’s actual foot length).
Beyond the central “house,” several chambers and sanctuaries, the haftorah iterates measurements and locations of rebatements and beams, the size and placement of windows, doors, and stairs; even that it was finished with “paneling and joined planks of cedar.”
The prophesy concludes, “(Concerning) this house which you are building, if you walk in My statutes, and execute My ordinances, and keep all My commandments to walk in them; then will I establish My word with you, which I spoke to David your father.”