8. Chapter 3c. “The Master Mason.”

Sep 25, 2010 No Comments by

Prayer at the Wall

Steve Grace and I had accepted a yamulke from an usher as we entered the sacred prayer site. There is no deep religious significance to the yamulke. The name comes from a Yiddish origin meaning ‘skullcap.’

‘According to some Orthodox and Chasidic rabbis, it comes from the Aramaic words ‘yerai malka’, which means ‘fear or respect for the King.’ The Hebrew word for this head covering is kippah, pronounced key-pah. (http://www.jewfaq.org/signs.htm)

When we came into close proximity to the wall the size of each stone used in this ancient construction was impressive. We later learned excavations discovered in 1867 revealed 19 more rows of enormous stones sunk into the natural rock of the Tyropoeon Valley.

This quote from an article “The Architecture of the Temple Mount” gives some insight into the magnificence of the construction.

“The impressive retaining walls of the Temple Mount are characterized by huge building blocks, each finely chiseled with a flat projecting boss, surrounded by a frame. The frame is sunk some 2 cm below the face of the stone and its average width is 8 cm. A wide, toothed chisel, was used to smoothen the stone margins. Special care was taken in the chiseling of the vertical margins of adjacent stones.”

“The Temple and its enclosure walls were built of limestone. As the enclosure measured 300 x 480 m, and had high supportive walls on all sides, an enormous quantity of stone was needed for this magnificent edifice. Stone is an abundant commodity in the Jerusalem area, and indeed, the remains of numerous quarries can be found in the vicinity of the Old City. Two large quarries – one north of the Damascus Gate, the other known as Solomon’s Quarries – are located north of the Old City, where thick layers of Meleke limestone are found.
Freeing the stones from the bedrock called for a series of operations: Wide grooves were chiseled with metal tools around the required stone block. The stone was then released from the quarry by driving metal wedges into the grooves. The initial dressing of the stone was probably conducted at the site. Many of the stones were of large size, most weighing between two to five tons. Immense effort was thus required, both to cut the stones and then to transport them. The largest stone found measures 12 m in length and 3 m high, and it weighed of course hundreds of tons! Transporting these huge stones to the building site was enabled by using a number of devices, including wheels and sleds (See Hoisting and Transporting Massive Stones). 
Once deposited at the Temple site the stones were finely chiseled and then hauled into place using ramps, cranes and crow bars (See Hoisting and Transporting Massive Stones). The stones were laid in dry courses, mostly about 1 m high without the use of mortar. Each course was set 3-5 cm back from the course below. Final dressing and adjustments were conducted once the stones were set in place. (http://www.bibletopics.com/BibleStudy/116.htm).

I am not sure words can communicate what I experienced when I saw the stones. I recommend you visit yourself or go to this website for a detailed description.

The aish.com report says, ‘Focus on the massiveness of this huge stone. Over 500 metric tons! What is truly amazing is that today’s best cranes can only lift 250 tons.” Go to their website to check it out.

The disciples were very impressed by the temple construction too.

“As He was going out of the temple, one of His disciples *said to Him, “Teacher, behold what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!” (Mark 13: 1)

In a blog James Prather wrote: “When Solomon’s temple was being built, it was forbidden for the sound of hammers to be heard at the job site because it was a holy place of worship. You can’t have worship with construction going on in the background! So it had to be quiet.

“What this meant for the construction was that each and every 20 ton stone had to have a ’shop drawing’ and was made several miles away in the quarry. Several miles away each stone was carefully cut for its exact spot in the temple. From the very start, there was a plan for each stone. The very first stone to be delivered was the capstone, but that’s the last stone needed in construction. So the builders said, “What is this? This doesn’t look like any of the first stones we need. Put it over there for now.”

“Well, years went by and the grass grew over the capstone and everyone generally forgot about it. Finally the construction was done and the builders said, “send us the capstone” and the word came back from the quarry “we already did”. They were confused. Then someone remembered what they had done with the very first stone sent to them. It was taken from its lowly position among the overgrown weeds where it had been forgotten, and it was honored in the final ceremony to complete the temple.

Thus the scripture says, “The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone.” (www.thinkhebrew.wordpress.com, see “The Stone the Builders Rejected.”

James said, “Amazingly, the Greek word the New Testament uses for Jesus’ occupation is “tekton”, which literally translates “builder”. In Israel, buildings were not built with wood but stone because you don’t have a large source of wood in the desert. So it’s more than likely that Jesus was a stone-mason rather than a carpenter. Peter calls you living stones and says that you, as living stones, have the master mason (Jesus) shaping you into the perfect fit for his spiritual temple. What an incredible blessing!”

We live and learn every day.

Ron's Rave

About the author

Ron Ross worked as the first Sports Editor at WINTV. In Wollongong. He ran The Hamburger Hut an outreach and discipleship program for youth. He served with Youth With a Mission in Hawaii, Philippines and Australia. He was senior pastor of the Noosa Baptist Church, Queensland for 9 years. He reported news from Jerusalem for five years and is now the Middle East correspondent for United Christian Broadcasters and travels regularly preaching and teaching.
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