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Bible Encyclopedias

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature

Architecture

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It was formerly common to claim for the Hebrews the invention of scientific architecture, and to allege that classic antiquity was indebted to the Temple of Solomon for the principles and many of the details of the art. This statement, however, is totally without foundation.

There has never in fact been any people for whom a peculiar style of architecture could with less probability be claimed than for the Israelites. On leaving Egypt they could only be acquainted with Egyptian art. On entering Canaan they necessarily occupied the buildings of which they had dispossessed the previous inhabitants; and the succeeding generations would naturally erect such buildings as the country previously contained. The architecture of Palestine, and, as such, eventually that of the Jews, had doubtless its own characteristics, by which it was suited to the climate and condition of the country; and in the course of time many improvements would no doubt arise from the causes which usually operate in producing change in any practical art. From the want of historical data and from the total absence of architectural remains, the degree in which these causes operated in imparting a peculiar character to the Jewish architecture cannot now be determined; for the oldest ruins in the country do not ascend beyond the period of the Roman domination. It does, however, seem probable that among the Hebrews architecture was always kept within the limits of a mechanical craft, and never rose to the rank of a fine art. Their usual dwelling-houses differed little from those of other Eastern nations, and we nowhere find anything indicative of exterior embellishment. Splendid edifices, such as the palace of David and the temple of Solomon, were completed by the assistance of Phoenician artists (2 Samuel 5:11; 1 Kings 5:6; 1 Kings 5:18; 1 Chronicles 14:1). After the Babylonish exile, the assistance of such foreigners was likewise resorted to for the restoration of the Temple (Ezra 3:7). From the time of the Maccabean dynasty, the Greek taste began to gain ground, especially under the Herodian princes, and was shown in the structure and embellishment of many towns, baths, colonnades, theaters and castles. The Phoenician style, which seems to have had some affinity with the Egyptian, was not, however, superseded by the Grecian; and even as late as the Mishna, we read of Tyrian windows, Tyrian porches, etc. [HOUSE].

With regard to the instruments used by builders—besides the more common, such as the axe, saw, etc. we find incidental mention of the compass, the plumb-line (Amos 7:7), and the measuring-line.

 

 

 

 


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Bibliography Information
Kitto, John, ed. Entry for 'Architecture'. "Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature". https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/kbe/a/architecture.html.

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