The picture (below)Israelite Temple at Tel Arad shows the features of an Israelite temple building at Arad.


Holy places developed a complex of spaces and buildings. The exact pattern depended on culture (though Israelite and Canaanite temples are very similar in plan) and the nature of the space available (especially in cities and fortresses). As well as the temple, altars were part of this larger religious complex.

Below are some terms used in the Bible to describe the Jerusalem temple, which also describe other Israelite sanctuaries.

heykal (temple/palace) - the common word for "temple" also means "palace". The other common descriptor is beth "house of..." It refers either to the whole building or to the main room.

debir (holy of holies) - inside this main chamber was another smaller one, which contained in a sort of alcove, at a higher level the holiest symbols of the god's presence:

tsela` (lean-to rooms) - Solomon's temple had rooms constructed against its two long walls. At Arad there was a similar construction on one side, but the entrance was on the other long side.

'ulam (porch) - larger temples often had entrance porches, much as cathedrals and churches do today.

Altar of Israelite temple at Tel Aradmizbeach (altar) - there were different kinds of altar for different purposes, the picture (right) shows the large altar for animal sacrifices.


This page is part of the Hypertext Bible Commentary - Amos,

© Tim Bulkeley, 1996-2005, Tim Bulkeley. All rights reserved.