Curse of Oak Island is a huge TV hit and this weekend, in preparation for my reveal in episode three (History Channel – Tuesdays – 9pm EST – 8pm CST), it seemed a perfect time to discuss what exactly where the riches of King Solomon’s Temple.
Regardless of how you learned about King Solomon, we all learned he was incredibly wealthy, but do you know just how famously wealthy? Can you imagine the scale of what it takes to be mega-wealthy?
A good way to understand King Solomon’s wealth is to put it into today’s terms.
How much, in terms of today’s value of precious metals, would the treasures of Solomon’s Temple be worth today?
Let’s look at what the history books and records tell us.
During their wilderness wanderings the people of Israel received the Ten Commandments and detailed laws, regulations and instructions delivered to Moses on Mount Sinai. Moses was also instructed to construct a large portable tabernacle, or tent, entrusted to the care of the priests of Aaron. A detailed description of this tabernacle is given in Exodus 25-30. The Tabernacle was built by free-will offerings donated by the people in such generous amounts that more than enough materials were available.
The materials assembled for the tabernacle are described in detail in Exodus 35-38 and summarized in Exodus 38:21-30. The total quantity of gold collected was approximately one ton; of silver, 3-3/4 tons; and of bronze, 2-1/2 tons.
At today’s prices gold is approximately $1190 per troy ounce, or $14,280 per pound (12 troy ounces), or $28,560,000 per ton. Silver currently is priced around $16.50 per troy ounce, or $198 per pound, which is $396,000 per ton. Hence, the gold and silver used in the Tabernacle of Moses would be worth over $28.6 million today. Exodus 12:35 states that the Egyptians gave the Jews gold, silver, and ornaments at the time of the departure from Egypt. The golden lampstand in the tabernacle weighed a talent and would today be worth a $1,570,800 for its gold alone.
The Old Testament gives some details about the movement of the tabernacle, Ark, and holy vessels after the conquest. The Ark of Covenant was located at Shiloh for many years presumably in a house, tent, or temple constructed for it there (Judges 18:31, I Samuel 1:39, 3:3; Judges 21:19). At some later period the Ark was moved to Bethel on the Benjamite border during the war with Gibeah (Judges 20:26-27). The Philistines then held the Ark for seven months.
After being recaptured it was located for 20 years at Kiriath-jearim. King Saul generally neglected the Ark (I Chronicles 13:3) but David brought it to Jerusalem about 1003 BC (II Samuel 6; I Chronicles 13:15). The Ark was given temporary shelter in Jerusalem before being installed in the first temple built by King David’s son, the illustrious Solomon. Despite a temporary removal by apostate king Manasseh, (II Chronicles 33:7; 35:3), the Ark is thought by many to have remained in the holy of holies of the first temple until the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 B. C. by Nebuchadnezzar. The post-exilic temple apparently contained no Ark, according to Josephus (The Wars of the Jews, Book Five). The apocryphal book of II Maccabees (2:1-8) says that the prophet Jeremiah hid the Ark and the golden altar of incense in a cave on Mt. Nebo before the Babylonian exile. Jeremiah was taken to Tahpanhes in Egypt by a remnant of the Jews after the fall of Jerusalem (Jeremiah 42:1-43:7), so it is conceivable that he secured the Ark in secret location associated with his journey and his help by the Egyptians.
When Solomon moved the Ark from the city of David to the first temple, it is said most or all of the holy vessels of gold and silver from the tabernacle were with the Ark. (I Kings 8:4). Although David desired to build a permanent house of God in Jerusalem, his son Solomon built the first temple. The plans were those of David, and David amassed the materials (I Chronicles 28:1-19; II Chronicles 2-4; I Kings 6-7). These materials included 100,000 talents – or 11 million pounds of gold and 1,000,000 talents – or 110,000,000 pounds of silver, (I Chron. 29).
Maybe easier understood, that’s $157,080,000,000 in gold in todays value (you would say the number as one hundred fifty-seven billion eighty million dollars). In silver the numbers above would represent, $21,780,000,000(you would say this number as: twenty-one billion seven hundred eighty million dollars).
So today’s total value of the raw materials would be $178 billion, 860 million!
So you have some scale to compare to, this equals more than the Gross National Product from countries 52 in the world all the way to the last listing which is country #194. Here take a peek (the numbers are in the millions):
However there was even more to the value of what would have been the Temple Treasures. From his own private fortune David also gave 3,000 talents of gold and 7,000 talents of high-grade silver. In addition to all the gold and silver, great quantities of bronze, cedar, iron, and precious stones were contributed. The most holy place of Solomon’s temple was lined with cedar from Lebanon and covered with 600 talents of gold (66,000 pounds of gold or $942,480,000 worth of gold) 792,000 troy ounces. During this period of Israel’s history, Solomon’s income was 666 talents of gold per annum or about 73,260 pounds or 879,120 troy ounces, worth $1,046,152,800 (one billion forty-six million one hundred fifty-two thousand eight hundred dollars). It is interesting to note reports, which state that during the reign of Solomon “silver was as common as stone” in Jerusalem, (I Kings 10:27). Solomon made 200 massive shields each 300 shekels in weight to hang on the walls of his palace. His ivory throne was overlaid with gold. “So King Solomon exceeded all the kings of the earth in riches and wisdom” (II Kings 10:23).
The splendor of Solomon’s kingdom brought him recognition and fame that attracted much foreign attention. For example, during her visit “to test Solomon with hard questions” the Queen of Sheba brought Solomon 120 talents of gold (13,200 pounds or 158,400 troy ounces or $188,496,000, – one hundred eighty-eight million four hundred ninety-six thousand dollars) “and a very great store of spices and precious stones,” (I Kings 10; II Chronicles 9).
A cube of gold weighing 3750 tons would measure about 6 meters (19.68 ft.) on a side, and 37,500 tons of silver in a single cube would be about 16 meters (52.48 ft.) on a side. To get an estimate of the current Gold Reserves and how they compare to the wealth of King Solomon and the First Temple, here is a snapshot of the Top 10 gold “holding” countries.
|Rank||Country/Organization||Gold holdings(in tonnes)|
|3||International Monetary Fund||2,814.0|
Easier to understand the weight of gold is to know the US Gold Reserves would fit inside a 50-foot by 50-foot crate. German reserves would fit in a 20-foot by 20-foot box and for dramatic comparison, the Gold reserves of japan would fit inside a crate less than 4-foot by 4-foot in size! The temple of Solomon required 7-1/2 years to construct and the efforts of about 180,000 laborers, (I Kings 7:13, 5:6, 13, 14; II Chronicles 2:17-18). Great quantities of local stone and imported cedar wood were used. The wealth of the first temple was immediately plundered after the death of Solomon.
The fall of Jerusalem in 586 BC was accompanied by terrible destruction and much loss of life. “And all the vessels of the house of God, great and small, and the treasures of the house of the Lord, and the treasures of the king and of his friends, all these he (Nebuchadnezzar) brought to Babylon. And they burned the house of God, and broke down the wall of Jerusalem, and burned all its palaces with fire, and destroyed all its precious vessels,” (II Chronicles 36:18,19). A parallel account in II Kings 25 describes the seized vessels of the house of the Lord as including pots, snuffers, dishes for incense, firepans, bowls, etc. It is possible that some of the wealth of the temple and some of the treasures of the king’s house was hidden under the temple mount though this is mostly speculation.
If anything were hidden it would most likely have been the Ark of the Covenant, which was of great sacred importance. The Scripture suggests that everything of value was carried off to Babylon. During the captivity some of the stolen sacred gold and silver vessels from Jerusalem’s temple were used by Belshazzar on the night of his infamous feast when handwriting appeared on the wall of his palace indicating that judgment from God had fallen upon him, (Daniel 5). At the end of the 70-year captivity in Babylon the returning Jews were allowed to carry back at least some of these gold and silver sacred objects to Jerusalem, (Ezra 1:5-10). The list of returned items included 1000 basins of gold, 1000 basins of silver, 29 censers, 30 bowls of gold, 2410 bowls of silver, and other vessels of gold and silver totaling 5,469 in number.
The total number of Jews returning from this captivity was 42,360, plus 7,337 servants and 200 singers. There were 736 horses, 245 mules, 435 camels and 6720 asses in their convoy, (Ezra 2:64-67). The returning exiles set about rebuilding the temple and the walls. The second temple was modest compared to that of Solomon and was completed in 515 BC Details are given in the Books of Nehemiah and Ezra.
Jeremiah the prophet may suggested that the Ark, however, has been permanently hidden away from the plunder of man, (Jeremiah 3:16).
So, now you can imagine how a vast treasure, if the records are correct, could be hidden down in a hole, tomb or cave that is not very larger.
Did you know that $178 BILLION would fit in such a relatively small space? Most people do not. Also, when you see in mathematical terms just how small, but how heavy gold really is, one begins to understand why it takes so many people to move it and it is difficult (very difficult) to run with.
It is the shear weight of gold that has it hidden and still hidden for centuries. One would need an army to move the vast treasures of King Solomon’s Temple.
Watch Curse of Oak Island on the History Channel each Tuesday and then join us atand let’s discuss it openly!
In the treasure world, a large natural nugget has a precious metal weight (let’s say $10,000 for example), but if it is large enough or shaped right it can be worth 10x time the precious metal value ($100,000). Now of course, we CANNOT value the actual Ark Of the Covenant, but if one found gold and could prove it came from King Solomon’s Temple – the collectors and historic value of such would easily be 10 to 100 times the precious metal value.
Now you might understand $178 billion is really a number that could conceivably zoom into the TRILLIONS! Think about that!