Monday, September 21, 2015

What Did Mormon Mean “Not of So Many Precious Things?” Part II

Continuing with the second part of this post regarding what statements in the scriptural record mean, such as “Not of so many precious things”.  
    We concluded the previous post with listing the 183,000 workers Solomon had building his temple. On the other hand, the Nephites had about ½ of the original party that came with Lehi from which to draw their workforce—a considerably smaller number, though not as big a difference as one might at first think.
    It can also be said that in addition to Solomon having so many more workers, Nephi took nearly 3 times as long to build his temple (nearly 20 years compared to 7.5 years). However, basing time to build solely upon numbers of workers employed without knowing how long employed and total hours involved can be quite misleading as Solomon’s 183,000 compared to Nephite’s perhaps 50 can show.
While figures can be rearranged to fit almost any scenario or prove any point, the issue is we do not know the length of time the men worked that are listed. A small, dedicated workforce, can accomplish the same as or more than a larger forced labor workforce. Note the 50-man compared to 10,000-man workforces both accomplishing the same amount of hours worked by knowing how long each force worked
    It should also be noted that nowhere in the scriptural record do we find any mention of the size of Nephi’s temple. While it took 183,000 workers to build Solomon’s Temple, that figure is misleading since it represented separate people, not man-hours, and also “forced labor” as opposed to volunteer labor. These numbers also represent men who were forced into labor to serve for a short duration—up to a month at a time—which does not tell a true story strictly by numbers.
    So while 50 men, based upon hours involved, could do the work of 10,000 over a period of time:
    • 50 men working 10 hours a day, 300 days in a year for a total amount of 150,000 hours.
    • 5000 men working 10 hours a day, 10 days in a year for a total amount of 50,000 hours.
    • 10,000 men working 10 hours a day, 30 days in a year for a total amount of 150,000 hours.
    Or, when considering the almost three times as long to work, consider:
    50 men working 10 hours a day, 300 days a year, for 20 years = 3,000,000 hours
    10,000 men working 8 hours a day, 30 days a year for 7.5 years = 18,000,000 hours
    This is a large difference in man-hours, of course, but nowhere a big a difference as would first be imagined when considering the overwhelming larger workforce listed for Solomon.
    Of course, it can be debated as to the number of people in Lehi’s original party, but the numbers found in Lehi and Ishmael’s families, plus any servants of the household, plus children born along the way, etc., would not number more than 200 by the time they reached the land of Promise, with a certain number under ten years of age. Thus, it can easily be understood that Nephi would have had no more than 50 adult men working on the temple. It might also be understood this was not a servitude assignment, like Solomon drafting his workers from within his kingdom, but a work of love in serving the Lord and building his house (compare with the sacrifice in the building of the Salt Lake Temple).
    As to the magnificence, then, of Solomon’s Temple, we need to consider that he spared no expense for the building's creation. He ordered vast quantities of cedar wood from King Hiram of Tyre (1 Kings 5:20-25), had huge blocks of the choicest stone quarried, and commanded that the building's foundation be laid with hewn stone. To complete the massive project, he imposed forced labor on all his subjects, drafting people for work shifts that sometimes lasted a month at a time. Some 3,300 officials were appointed to oversee the Temple's erection. Solomon acquired such heavy debts in building the Temple that he was forced to pay off King Hiram by handing over twenty towns in the Galilee when everything was completed.
    When we factor in Nephi’s temple undoubtedly being much smaller in size, obviously costing much less in financial outlay, taking much less time to build, we start to realize that the numbers some critics like to throw around are not as meaningful as they seem at first glance,

and therefore taking much less time to construct, we can get a view of a small, but magnificent building to be dedicated to the Lord’s work.
    So let’s take another look at the four statements Nephite made:
1. What did Nephi mean when he said “save it were not built of so many precious things”?
    The temple, which is the location and housing for the Holy of Holies (Kodesh Kodashim), the most sacred site in traditional Judaism, found in Solomon’s (the First) Temple. At the time of Lehi, the Holy of Holies housed the two tablets of the Ten Commandments inside the Ark of the Covenant (these disappeared when the Babylonians destroyed the Temple and, therefore, during the Second Temple era the Holy of Holies was reduced to a small, entirely bare room).
    A similarly high degree of holiness was ascribed to the altar and incense-altar (Exodus 29:37; 30:10); all the implements of the sanctuary (Exodus 30:29; Numbers 4:4, 19); the things reserved for the priests or minhah (Leviticus 2:3, 10; Numbers 18:9; Ezra 42:13); the sin-offering (Levitcus 6:18,22; 10:17); the guilt-offering (Levitcus 7:1, 6; 31:14); the offering of the leper (because it belongs to the priests; Levitcus 14:13); and the showbread (Levitcus 29:9).
    The designation "most holy" is also applied to the work of Aaron and his sons (I Chronicles 6:49).
    According to Josephus, in Solomon’s Temple the Holy of Holies, which formed a part of the building which was 60 feet high, 40 feet wide, 120 feet long, was the farthest from the entrance, and called the debir (the Oracle) and was made of stone of “white marble” (Antiquities 8:3:2).
2. What did Nephi mean when he said, “for they were not to be found in the land”?
    The white marble stone would have been hard to come by in the Land of Promise, just as those items unique to Jewish history and Jerusalem, such as the commandment stones, ark of the covenant, etc.
    Many of the things in Solomon’s Temple were especially dedicated and consecrated for that very purpose forming a part of Jewish history that would not have been applicable in the Land of Promise and obviously not found on the land, just like any artifact from Nephi’s ship would not have been found in Solomon’s Temple, nor the Liahona, or other unique dealings with Lehi and Ishmael’s families.
3. What did Nephi mean when he said, “But the manner of the construction was like unto the temple of Solomon”? 
    “Manner of Construction,” means the way something is built, perhaps suggesting the foundation of hewn rock, overlaid by wood beams and panels, and then over laid by gold—which was a manner of construction unique to Solomon’s Temple.
4. What did Nephi mean when he said, “The workmanship thereof was exceedingly fine”?
    Many of the workmen who built Solomon’s Temple were hired from the country of Lebanon through king Hiram, and known for their skilled workmanship in building. Obviously, the Lord having taught Nephi in building, both his ship and “many other things,” Nephi would have felt their construction of the Temple for the Lord was the highest of their quality and ability in the Land of Promise.
    Thus, it is conceivable that Nephi built a temple like Solomon’s, and given the time involved, the wealth available, the much smaller size and far less magnificence in appointment, it could still be considered like unto Solomon’s and to which the Nephites could have been quite proud.
    One of the main issues is that it would have been made of stone without question, despite “Ana M.” claiming “and am sure made out of timber” comment, which has no ground to stand on given what was involved in building a house to the Lord “But the manner of the construction was like unto the temple of Solomon; and the workmanship thereof was exceedingly fine” (2 Nephi 5:16)

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