By Eric Johnson
Many Mormons assume that the temples built and operated by their church are based on biblical precedent, as per the teachings of their leaders. For instance, Apostle Mark E Petersen once wrote,
In Biblical times sacred ordinances were administered in holy edifices for the spiritual salvation of ancient Israel. The buildings thus used were not synagogues, nor any other ordinary places of worship. They were specially constructed for this particular purpose. . . . Following the pattern of Biblical days, the Lord again in our day has provided these ordinances for all who will believe, and directs that temples be built in which to perform those sacred rites (Why Mormons Build Temples, p. 3. Ellipsis mine).
Seventy Kent R. Richards—who served as the director of the LDS Church’s temple department—wrote an article in a Utah newspaper in 2015 where he said, “Temples are patterned after Solomon’s temple and honor the Lord and express our gratitude” (Payson LDS Temple: A Special Edition of the Daily Herald, April 2015, p. 14).
When the biblical temple in Jerusalem is contrasted with the temples of Mormonism, however, there are many more differences than similarities. Let’s take a look at 10 of the biggest differences between the biblical temple that was built in Jerusalem and the dozens of LDS temples located throughout the world.
1. There was only one authentic temple in Bible times—any other temple was criticized as not being authentic
There were three temples built over a millennium on Temple Mount in Jerusalem: Solomon’s (10th century BC), Zerubbabel’s (5th century BC), and Herod’s (1st century BC/1st century AD). Solomon’s temple is described in 1 Kings chapters 6 and 7 as well as 2 Chronicles chapters 3 and 4. Through it all, there was only one authorized temple for the Jews to worship; all other temples, including those built at Dan and Bethel, were considered illegitimate by the writers of the Bible.
Just because a group of people wanted to have a temple located close to where they lived did not make it authentic. You may remember the story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman as they met at Jacob’s Well in John 4:
19 The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” 21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” 25 The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.”
The Samaritans had built a temple on Mt. Gerizim where they believed God intended them to worship. Jesus, however, minimized the legitimacy of this temple and said that “you (Samaritans) worship what you do not know.” This criticism was not the most politically correct thing that could have been said. However, God made it clear that the temple in Jerusalem was the only place where the sacrificing of animals was to take place. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia put it this way:
There is a theological justification (as well as one of convenience) for distinguishing the Jerusalem temple from all other sanctuaries. . . . Deuteronomy looks forward to the day when Yahweh will choose a place to “put his name and make his habitation there” (12:5), and makes it clear that that “place” will then be the only legitimate site for cultic worship (12:5-28). (4:759. Ellipsis mine).
Mormonism does not hold to the biblical rule of operating just one legitimate temple, as this church has built multiple temples throughout the world. One church manual explains:
Temples are literally houses of the Lord. They are holy places of worship where the Lord may visit. Only the home can compare with temples in sacredness. Throughout history, the Lord has commanded His people to build temples. Today the Church is heeding the Lord’s call to build temples all over the world, making temple blessings more available for a great number of our Heavenly Father’s children (True to the Faith: A Gospel Reference, 2004, p. 170).
As of 2020, the LDS Church owns more than 160 temples, with at least a dozen more scheduled to be built. Based on the talk Jesus had with the Samaritan woman, the maximum number of temples is, at the most, one. Mormonism’s multiplication of temples has no biblical precedent.
2. There were no “temple recommends” for the Levite priests in the biblical temple
In the Bible, only male priests in the line of Aaron were allowed to enter the most sacred parts of the temple. Sacrifices of animals were made at the temple on behalf of those desiring atonement from their sins. (See Point 5.)
To enter an LDS temple, a person must be a baptized church member for at least a year and possess a valid “temple recommend.” One church manual explains:
Temple Recommend. Obtain a temple recommend. Be sure to carry your recommend with you to the temple, since only those with valid recommends may enter. As you live worthily, the recommend will allow you to enter any temple of the Church as often as you wish during the next two years. To renew your temple recommend, you must be interviewed by a member of your bishopric or your branch president and a member of your stake presidency or the mission president (Endowed from On High: Temple Preparation Seminary Teacher’s Manual, 2003, p. 28).
To get the recommend, the Mormon must answer a variety of questions, including:
- Question 4: Do you sustain the president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as the prophet, seer and revelator and as the only person on the earth authorized to exercise all priesthood keys?
- Question 8: Do you strive to keep the Sabbath day holy, both at home and at church; attend your meetings; prepare for and worthily partake of the sacrament; and live your life in harmony with the laws and commandments of the gospel?
- Question 10: Are you a full-tithe payer?
- Question 11: Do you understand and obey the Word of Wisdom?
For a complete list, click Temple Recommend Questions
By answering the fifteen questions given by the bishop/stake president in the “right way,” a person is able to gain possession of the “recommend” in order to enter any LDS temple. There is no evidence that any questions like these were ever asked of the Levites. For instance, #4 mentions how a person should “sustain the president of the church.” Which person would this have been in biblical times? There were multiple prophets who served at the same time. Did the Levites have to agree to sustain them all?
When it came to “keeping the sabbath,” there were actual sacrifices that continued to take place even on Saturdays. But Mormon temples are closed on the “Sabbath” (Sundays). As far as being a full-tithe payer, the Levites were exempt from this rule since they did not have any income to tithe. And while it is true that they were not allowed to have wine (Lev. 10:9), these priests did not have to follow the other restrictions of the “Word of Wisdom. For instance, there was no prohibition against hot drinks or meat (“in times of cold or famine”)–the priests ate meat every day of the week!
One other thing. No females could be priests in the Bible and were not allowed in the places where priests did their work. While women in Mormonism also do not have the priesthood, they have access to the inner sanctums of the LDS temples. What is the precedence for this?
3. Families were not sealed together for eternity in the biblical temple
There is absolutely no documentation in the Bible to show how families in biblical times could be “sealed” together into eternity. However, such a rite does take place in the Mormon temples. A church manual explains,
Only in the temple can we be sealed together forever as families. Marriage in the temple joins a man and woman as husband and wife eternally if they honor their covenants. Baptism and all other ordinances prepare us for this sacred event. When a man and woman are married in the temple, their children who are born thereafter also become part of their eternal family (Gospel Principles, 2009, p. 235).
Apostle James Talmage told the story in Luke 20:27-40 of how Jesus answered the Sadducees concerning a woman who had been married seven different times after the previous husband had died. “Therefore in the resurrection whose wife shall she be of the seven?” the religious rulers asked. Jesus answered by saying, in part, “for in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.” Performing eisegetical surgery on the text, Talmage wrote,
It is evident that in the resurrected state there could be no context among the seven brothers as to whose wife the woman was,–for, after death there was to be no marrying nor giving in marriage. The question of marriage between individuals was and is to be settled before that time . . . In short, the woman would be the wife of the man with whom she entered into covenant for eternity under the seal of Divine authority; and no contract or agreement for time only would be effective in the resurrection (The House of the Lord, p. 94. Ellipsis mine).
This makes no sense whatsoever. As stated earlier, there is no indication that weddings took place—for either time or “eternity”—in the temple. This is a major assumption that an LDS general authority has to make up since exaltation in Mormonism is all about marriage and families going into eternity. In addition, notice what Jesus said: “For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.”
According to Mormonism, polygamy will be reinstated in the celestial kingdom and there will be tens of thousands, even hundreds of millions, of females who will be sealed to already-married men in the next life, as these men will need many different mothers who will produce his billions of spirit children. (Where all these females will come from when more male babies are born in the world than female bodies remains to be seen!) Referring to polygamy, Apostle Bruce R. McConkie stated, “Obviously the holy practice will commence again after the Second Coming of the Son of Man and the ushering in of the millennium” (Mormon Doctrine, p. 578). Referencing second President Brigham Young and church founder Joseph Smith, Apostle Heber C. Kimball taught that there will be many women waiting to get married polygamously in the next life:
In the spirit world there is an increase of males and females, there are millions of them, and if I am faithful all the time, and continue right along with brother Brigham, we will go to brother Joseph and say, “Here we are brother Joseph; we are here ourselves are we not, with none of the property we possessed in our probationary state, not even the rings on our fingers?” He will say to us, “Come along, my boys, we will give you a good suit of clothes. Where are your wives?” “They are back yonder; they would not follow us.” “Never mind,” says Joseph, “here are thousands, have all you want.” Perhaps some do not believe that, but I am just simple enough to believe it” (February 1, 1857, Journal of Discourses 4:209).
Indeed, marriage will take place in the next life if Mormonism is true and polygamy is reinstated. For more on “forever families,” see:
4. The main role of the biblical temple was performing animal sacrifices on behalf of those who brought the animals
At Mormon temple open house events, a video is shown to the guests that explain how peaceful the Mormon temple is. It is doubtful anyone near the temple in Jerusalem would have described this as a “peaceful” experience because the main purpose in the temple was the daily sacrifice of animals on behalf of the people. Alfred Edersheim reports the role of sacrifice with the priests who did this:
Under ordinary circumstances all public sacrifices, and also always that of the leper, were slain by the priests. The Talmud declares the offering of birds, so as to secure the blood, to have been the most difficult part of a priest’s work. For the death of the sacrifice was only a means towards an end, that end being the shedding and sprinkling of the blood, by which the atonement was really made. The Rabbis mention a variety of rules observed by the priest who caught up the blood—all designed to make the best provision for its proper sprinkling. Thus the priest was to catch up the blood in a silver vessel pointed at the bottom, so that it could not be put down, and to keep it constantly stirred, to preserve the fluidity of the blood (The Temple: Its Ministry and Services, p. 83).
Concerning the slaying of the lamb, Edersheim writes,
One priest drew forward the windpipe and gullet of the sacrifice, and quickly thrust upwards the knife, while another caught the blood in a golden bowl. Standing at the east side of the altar, he sprinkled it, first at the northeast, and then at the south-west corner, below the red line which ran round the middle of the altar, in each case in such manner as to cover two sides of the altar, or, as it is described, in the form of the Greek letter gamma. The rest of the blood was poured out at the base of the altar (p. 123).
Of course, sacrificing animals—which had been a daily occurrence in the Jerusalem temple for many years—ended in AD 70 when the Romans destroyed the temple. Despite the precedence from the biblical temple, blood sacrifices have never taken place in any LDS temple. At many temple open houses, I have asked about this aspect of the temple, with the majority of missionaries and ushers having never thought about this concept!
5. There was no work for the dead, only for the living, in the biblical temple
It would have made no sense for people who were already dead to have work done on their behalf by living proxies in the Jerusalem temple. There is no precedent to suggest this was done by the Jewish leaders and priests. Yet today most of the work done in LDS temples are done for the deceased. Eleventh President Harold B. Lee said,
In doing this vicarious work for the dead by those of us who are saviors on Mount Zion, the Lord wants it to be done as nearly as possible by those who are without blemish. Just as he wanted the animal sacrifice to be of animals without blemish, he wants us to come here pure and clean and worthy to do the work, the vicarious work, as saviors on Mount Zion (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Harold B. Lee, 2000, p. 105).
A Mormon might say that the work for those who were already dead was not necessary because the “Great Apostasy” had not yet taken place. If this is true, then any work on behalf of the dead in LDS temples is a unique modern-day teaching and there is no biblical precedent. A verse such as 1 Corinthians 15:29 (to be talked about in the next point) should not be used to support temple work for the dead.
6. There were no “baptisms” (for anyone, living or dead) in the biblical temple
It must be understood that “baptism” in water was never a rite of Judaism; rather, it was John the Baptist who initiated the Christian baptism of repentance. For those who might point to the “mikvah” and the cleansing pools used by ancient Jewish believers, the ritual purification that was done regularly should not be considered “baptism” in the Christian sense of this word. There were no mikvaot (plural of mivah) located inside the temple, but a number of these pools have been excavated in the area called the Southern Steps where people entered and exited the temple area.
As far as “baptism for the dead,” this was never a teaching in the Christian church. Of course, many Mormons point to 1 Corinthians 15:29 as support for this teaching. However, there are several problems, including, once again, that the Jews did not believe in “baptism” in the first place, let alone “baptism for the dead.”
Let’s just suppose that the Christians did practice a rite similar to what Mormons call “baptism for the dead.” Someone needs to explain how the early Christians got into the temple to perform the ordinance! After all, it’s not as if the Jewish priests would have welcomed the Christ followers with open arms and telling them, “Hey, come on in and use our bronze laver as a baptismal font for your special rite of the dead!” That would make no sense whatsoever! (Seriously!)
Concerning 1 Corinthians 15:29, Christian theologian D.A. Carson wrote,
The most plausible interpretation is that some in Corinth were getting baptized vicariously for the dead. Several factors, however, put this into perspective. Although Paul does not explicitly condemn the practice, neither does he endorse it. Several writers have offered the following analogy. Imagine a Protestant writing, “Why do they then pray for the dead, if the dead do not rise at all?” No one would take this as an endorsement of the practice of praying for the dead; it is a criticism of the inconsistency of praying for the dead while holding that the dead do not rise. To make this rhetorical question an endorsement of the practice of praying for the dead, one would expect, “Why do we then pray for the dead?” Likewise, in 1 Corinthians 15:29 Paul preserves the more distant they. After all, his primary concern in 1 Corinthians 15 is the defense of the Christian doctrine of resurrection. His rhetorical question in verse 29 may simply be pointing out the inconsistency of those who deny the final resurrection, granted their rather strange baptismal practices. And they were strange. There is no good evidence for vicarious baptism anywhere in the New Testament or among the earliest apostolic fathers. By the same token, there is no hint that this vicarious baptism (if that is what it was) was intended by the Corinthian believers to cover as many deceased people as could be named. If the practice existed at all, it may have been tied to a few people or special cases—for example, when a relative died after trusting the gospel but before being baptized. We really do not know. If it were something like that, one could understand why Paul does not make a federal case of it. In any case, Paul’s clear emphasis is that people are justified by grace through faith, which demands a personal response. Christian baptism is part of that personal response, even as it is a covenantal pledge. In contrast, baptism on behalf of someone who has not exercised such faith sounds like magic—of something far from Pauline thought. (“Directions: Did Paul Baptize for the Dead?” Christianity Today, August 10, 1998).
Carson suggested that the reason the 1 Corinthians 15 passage is difficult to interpret is that this is the only passage in the Bible specifically mentioning “baptism for the dead.” He wrote,
The reason is not that God must say things more than once for them to be true or binding. The reason, rather, is that if something is said only once it is easily misunderstood or misapplied. When something is repeated on several occasions and in slightly different contexts, readers will enjoy a better grasp of what is meant and what is at stake. That is why the famous “baptism for the dead” passage (1 Cor. 15:29) is not unpacked at length and made a major plank in, say, the Heidelberg Catechism or the Westminster Confession. Over forty interpretations of that passage have been offered in the history of the church. Mormons are quite sure what it means, of course, but the reason why they are sure is because they are reading it in the context of other books that they claim are inspired and authoritative (“Must I Learn How to Interpret the Bible?” Modern Reformation 5:3 (May/June 1996): pp. 18-22).
The historical context also needs to be considered regarding how baptism for the dead was not a regular practice of the Christian church. According to Christian theologian Geoffrey W. Bromiley, “apart from a possible reference in Tertullian (De res, 48c), there is evidence of such a practice only among heretical groups like the Cerinthians and the Marcionites,” and neither of these groups existed when 1 Corinthians was written” (“Baptism for the Dead” in The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, ed. Bromiley 1:426). If Doctrine and Covenants 128:17 is true when it says that baptism for the dead is the most “glorious of all subjects belonging to the everlasting gospel,” then it should be expected that the New Testament would have spoken much more about it.
For more on this, visit:
7. There was no need for Christians to attend a physical temple because Christ fulfilled it all
While the early Christians continued to worship at the Southern Steps, they no longer were in need of a temple since Jesus came to fulfill what had taken place in the temple. Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary explains,
As they began to understand the meaning and significance of Jesus’ person, work, and teaching, they realized they were the new people of God, infused by God’s Spirit. As such, they were a new, living Temple. A new order had replaced the old. Stephen, a Christian of Gentile background (Acts 6:1-5), was the first person to understand that the church had replaced the Temple as the place where God’s presence was manifested in a special way among His people. In Acts 15:13-18, Stephen’s insight was carried forward by James, who identified the church with Amos’ prophecy about the “tabernacle of David, which has fallen” (v. 16). According to James’ application of Amos’ prophecy about the end times, the restoration of David’s tabernacle, the Temple, would serve as the rallying point for Gentiles who wished to come to the Lord (Amos 9:11-12). James understood the church as the new temple that fulfilled that prophecy” (p. 1236).
The dictionary added,
Individually the Christian’s body is “the temple of the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor. 6:19). Corporately the church is “the temple of God” where the Spirit of God dwells (1 Cor. 3:16; 2 Cor. 6:16). Christians are growing “into a holy temple in the Lord. . . a dwelling place of God in the Spirit” (Eph. 2:21-22). Because we are God’s new temple where the Holy Spirit dwells, Christians are to be holy (1 Cor. 6:18-20; 2 Cor. 7:1). . . . Because there is only one new temple and all Christians—regardless of race or religious background—are members of it, all Christians have equal access to God (Eph. 2:19-22). Paul understood the church, then, as the eschatological temple to which God is gathering Israel and the other nations of the world (Is. 2:2-4; Mic. 4:1-5) (pp. 1236-37).
Mormonism has dozens of physical temples located throughout the world, yet the Christian has no need to enter a physical temple. The author of the Book of Hebrews explains how
Christians have a better covenant, a better sacrifice, a better high priest, and a better temple. The Temple in Jerusalem was only a “copy and shadow,” a type of the true temple, which is in heaven (Heb. 8:5). Therefore the true, heavenly sanctuary into which Christ has entered on our behalf is better than its earthly copy (9:24). Because Christ our High Priest dwells in this heavenly sanctuary (9:24; 10:12; 19-22), we can enter the heavenly Holy of Holies and participate in the worship of the heavenly temple (10:19-22; 12:18-24). (p. 1237).
So if the physical temple in Jerusalem—the “copy and shadow” of the heavenly temple—is no longer needed since the time of Christ, why have LDS leaders been so adamant about the continual building of physical temples throughout the world?
8. There were no “Masonic-like” endowment ceremonies in the biblical temple
There is a level of secrecy in LDS temples that was never something intended for the biblical temple. Of course, the Bible explains what took place in the temple in Jerusalem, and there is no doubt about its purpose. In Mormonism, however, “patrons” are sworn to secrecy. LDS scholar Richard Bushman explained,
While some members will claim that Mormon temples are “sacred not secret,” Bushman said that “temples are secret, plain and simple,” noting that even members “don’t speak to each other about it.” (“Seek understanding, not converts, Bushman urges Mormons,” Deseret News, March 6, 2008).
There is no precedence in the Bible for what takes place in LDS endowment ceremonies. In a startling admission, LDS author John K. Edmunds stated,
Just what is this “endowment” that hundreds of thousands of people come seeking? In the wisdom of God, the scriptures—ancient and modern—provide a meager source of information respecting the temple endowment. The Bible contains practically no information concerning the subject. As a matter of fact, I have found no biblical reference to which the term endowment is employed, and where the verb endue appears generally it is associated with such native endowments as talents, skill, power, ability, or with the blessing of family and posterity (Through Temple Doors, pp. 61-62).
Notice, “the Bible contains practically no information concerning the subject.” Someone may say that there was secrecy in the Jerusalem temple ceremony, but this is nothing more than an argument from silence. It wasn’t until Joseph Smith became involved with Masonry in Illinois that these secret rites were introduced into the temple. In fact, none of these were used in the Kirtland Temple that was constructed in the 1830s!
Mormon Reed C. Durham, Jr. published a 1980 book titled No Help for the Widow’s Son where he wrote,
By 1840, John Cook Bennett, a former active leader in Masonry had arrived in Commerce and rapidly exerted his persuasive leadership in all facets of the Church, including Mormon Masonry. . . . There is absolutely no question in my mind that the Mormon ceremony which came to be known as the Endowment, introduced by Joseph Smith to Mormon masons initially, just a little over one month after he became a Mason, had an immediate inspiration from Masonry. This is not to suggest that no other source of inspiration could have been involved, but the similarities between the two ceremonies are so apparent and overwhelming that some dependent relationship cannot be denied. They are so similar, in fact, that one writer was led to refer to the Endowment as Celestial Masonry (p. 17. Ellipsis mine).
Before the spring of 1990, patrons made blood oaths as they promised to never discuss the ceremony lest they be killed. For example, in the First Token of the Aaronic Priesthood—these were called “most sacred and are guarded by solemn covenants and obligations of secrecy to that effect that under no condition, even at the peril of your life, will you ever divulge them”—a slashing motion across one’s throat was cited:
The execution of the penalty is represented by placing the thumb under the left ear, the palm of the hand down, and by drawing the thumb quickly across the throat to the right ear, and dropping the hand to the side.
The patrons were then required to say,
I ______________, think of the New Name, covenant that I will never reveal the First Token of the Aaronic Priesthood, with is accompanying name, sign and penalty. Rather than do so, I would suffer (patrons all place right thumbs under left ears as described above) my life (patrons all draw thumbs across throats to right ears) to be taken (patrons all drop right hands down to sides.
To see the old pre-1990 ceremony, click here.
9. There were specific places in the Jerusalem temple that have no meaning in LDS temples
Here are just some of the names and what took place in the temple:
- Holy of Holies—it is where the Ark of the Covenant was once enshrined
- Holy Place
2b. Golden Altar of Incense
2c. Table of Shew Bread
2d. 7-branched lampstand (Great Menorah)
3. Temple porch
4. Court of Priests
5. Court of Israel (men)
6. Bronze Altar of Burning offerings (1 Kings 8:22, 65; 9:25)
7. Animal tethering area
8. Slaughtering and skinning area
9. Bronze Laver for ritual washings (1 Kings 7:23-26)
10. Chamber of Phineas (storage of vestments)
11. Chamber of the Bread Maker
12. North Gates of the Inner Courts
13. South Gates of the Inner Courts
14. East (Nicanor) Gate
15. Court of Women
16. Court of Nazirites
17. Court of Woodshed
18. Leper’s Chamber
19. Shemanyah (possibly meaning “oil of Yah”)
20. Women’s balconies (for viewing temple activities)
21. Gate Beautiful
23. Soreg (3-cubit-high partition)
24. Warning Inscription to Gentiles
The Mormon can stretch as much as he wants, but there is no comparison between these places in the temple and the LDS temples. In fact, where can we find:
- Locker rooms?—for participants to put their street clothes in order to change into temple garments
- Washing and anointing rooms?—a special place where participants are individually blessed before they make their way to the endowment ceremonies
- Marriage/sealing rooms?—for families to get married for both time and eternity
- A baptismal font to be used for the dead? —This is normally on the lowest level of a temple, with the font resting on the back of 12 oxen. (Probably the thing that is closest to a “baptismal font” is the “laver,” a place where the priests would wash their hands and feet before making a sacrifice.) In Solomon’s temple, this was called the “molten” or “brazen” sea, a circular-shaped metal pool-like structure “standing on twelve bulls, three facing north, three facing west, three facing south and three facing east.” (1 King 7:25) While Mormons have likened this to the baptismal font, this was not a place to do baptisms; instead, it was a place to ceremoniously purify.
- Endowment rooms?—places where secret rites are given
- The celestial room?—the holiest place in the Mormon temple. I suppose someone could say this is the same as the “Holy of Holies,” but nobody went into the “Holy of Holies”—ever!—except for the high priest once a year on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. Yet Mormons visit the celestial kingdom at the end of their endowment rites.
Besides the things already mentioned, any LDS temple has nothing to compare to the places found in the biblical temple, including:
- Holy Place (with bronze altar of incense, table of shew breads and 7-branched lamp stand)
- Temple porch
- Court of Priests
- Court of Israel (men)
- Altar of Burning offerings
- Animal tethering area
- Slaughtering and skinning area
- Chamber of the Bread Maker
- North Gates of the Inner Courts
- South Gates of the Inner Courts
- East (Nicanor) Gate
- Court of Women
- Court of Nazirites
- Court of Woodshed
- Leper’s Chamber
- Shemanyah (possibly meaning “oil of Yah”)
- Women’s balconies (for viewing temple activities)
- Gate Beautiful
- Soreg (3-cubit-high partition)
- Warning Inscription to Gentiles
If the LDS temple is supposed to be the modern equivalent of the biblical temple, it seems odd that there is no accounting for any of these places in their modern construction of temples.
10. Music and singing played a huge role in the biblical temple
There were lots of opportunities for music and singing in the temple, including (taken from Alfred Edersheim, The Temple: Its Ministry and Services):
- Instrumental music: “None other than Levites might act as choristers, while other distinguished Israelites were allowed to take part in the instrumental music” (p. 50).
- Temple blasts: “The blasts of the trumpets, blown by priests only, formed—at least in the second Temple—no part of the instrumental music of the service, but were intended for quite different purposes. . . . On ordinary days the priests blew seven times, each time three blasts. . . According to tradition, they were intended symbolically to proclaim the kingdom of God, Divine Providence, and the final judgment . . . The first three blasts were blown when the great gates of the Temple—especially that of Nicanor—were opened. Then, when the drink-offering was poured out, the Levites sung the psalm of the day in three sections. After each section there was a pause, when the priests blew three blasts, and the people worshipped. This was the practice of the evening, as at the morning sacrifice. On the eve of the Sabbath a threefold blast of the priests’ trumpets summoned the people, far as the sound was carried over the city, to prepare for the holy day, while another threefold blast announced its actual commencement” (pp. 50-51).
- The Influence of David: “The music of the Temple owed its origin to David who was not only a poet and a musical composer, but who also invented musical instruments (Amos 6:5; 1 Chron. 23:5), especially the ten-stringed Nevel or lute (Ps. 33:2; 144:9).” There were at least thirty-six different instruments, fifteen mentioned in the Bible (p. 51).
- The flute: “The flute (or reed pipe) was played in the Temple on twelve different special festivities. . . . In the Temple, not less than two nor more than twelve flutes were allowed, and the melody was on such occasion to close with the notes of one flute alone” (pp. 52-53).
- The human voice: “A good voice was the one qualification needful for a Levite. In the second Temple female singers seem at one time to have been employed (Ezra 2:65; Neh. 7:67). In the Temple of Herod their place was supplied by Levite boys. . . . Some of the music still used in the synagogue must date from those times, and there is no reason to doubt that in the so-called Gregorian tones we have also preserved to us a close approximation to the ancient hymnody of the Temple, though certainly not without considerable alterations” (p. 53).
Edersheim finished his chapter on music by writing,
But how solemn must have been the scene when, at the dedication of Solomon’s Temple during the service of praise, “the house was filled with a cloud, even the house of Jehovah; so that the priests could not stand to ministry by reason of the cloud for the glory of Jehovah had filled the house of God!” (2 Chron. 5:13,14). Such music, and such responsive singing, might well service, in the Book of Revelation, an imagery of heavenly realities (Rev. 4:8, 11; 5:9, 12; 7:10-12), especially in that description of the final acts of worship in Rev. 14:1-5, where at the close of their antiphony the two choirs combine, as at the dedication of the second Temple, to join in this grand unison, “Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth” (Rev. 19:6,7, comp. also Rev. 5:13). (p. 54)
Indeed, music and singing played a huge role in the biblical temple. If you are a Latter-day Saint, did you even know how important songs and instruments were to the worship in the temple? Why is it, then, that music and singing do not play a major role in the LDS temples today?
When presented with the characteristics of the biblical temple and comparing them to the LDS temples, the impartial observer must admit that there are many more dissimilarities between these than similarities. How many Latter-day Saints take it for granted that the rites they perform in their temples are the way it was done in the biblical temple? Probably most have never even considered the idea that the rites they practice in their modern temple were never part of the activities done in the biblical temple. It makes no sense for the LDS Church to place so much emphasis upon temples when this is not needed to have a personal relationship with God.
For an overview of the Mormon view of the temple, go to Crash Course Mormonism: Temples
For more in the “10 Reasons Why” series, click here.