House of the Forest of Lebanon
HOUSE OF THE FOREST OF LEBANON
HOUSE OF THE FOREST OF LEBANON (Heb. הַלְּבָנוֹן בֵּית יַעַר, Beit Ya'ar ha-Levanon), one of the buildings included the complex of Solomon's palace in Jerusalem; probably served as the entrance to the king's palace. The building was named for its cedar pillars, which were imported from Mt. Lebanon and resembled a forest. The Bible describes the house as a large rectangular building (100 × 50 cubits), divided by four (or three, according to lxx) rows of pillars, with an upper story of chambers distributed in rows of 15 (i Kings 7:2–5).
Scholars have sought to explain the function and primary purpose of the house. Several scholars maintain that the house served as a royal guardhouse, containing rooms used as arsenals; this is attested by i Kings 10:17–21 and Isaiah 22:8. Various references are made to the golden shields of the guard (ii Chron. 9:16) and the precious golden vessels (ii Chron. 9:20) which were kept in the house. R. de Vaux (Les Livres des Rois (1949), 48) believes that the house was used as a foyer for festive processions connected with court life, and that the royal guard was stationed there. Though the exact purpose of the building is not certain, it is most likely that the technical innovation of its style, rather than the particular importance of the building itself, made it a subject for biblical elaboration. It has been suggested that Solomon's structure is of the building type known in ancient Syria as bit hilani.
I.Benzinger, in: Marti, Kurzer Handkommentar zum Alten Testament (1899), 385f.; G. Richter, in: zdpv, 40 (1917), 172ff.; K. Watzinger, Denkmäler Palästinas, 1 (1933–35), 95–97; K. Moehlenbrink, Der Tempel Salomos (1932), 49ff.; R. de Vaux, Les Livres des Rois (1949), 48. add. bibliography: M. Cogan, iKings (2000), 254–58.