Saturday, 9 September 2017

Boaz and Jachin

According to the Bible, Boaz and Jachin were two copper, brass or bronze pillars which stood in the porch of Solomon's Temple, the first Temple in Jerusalem.

This 3rd-century (AD) glass bowl depicts Solomon's Temple. Boaz and Jachin are the detached black pillars shown on either side of the entrance steps.

The function and the meaning of these two pillars remains a mystery, a mystery that I will try to solve in this post :)

This is an artist interpretation of the first temple based on the available descriptions. Boaz and Jachin are two dark free standing pillars located on the porch on both sides of the entrance.

The entrance and the porch was located on the eastern side of the temple. This means that the temple entrance and Boaz and Jachin faced the rising sun.

Why is this important for understanding of the meaning of Boaz and Jachin?

In the 2 Chronicles 3:1 we are told that "Solomon built the temple of the LORD in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, where the LORD had appeared to his father David. It was on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite, the place provided by David..."

So the first temple was built on a threshing floor. A threshing floor probably like this one from Croatia. Threshing floors are platforms where grain seeds were separated from chaff by trampling.

They were normally located on the higher slopes of the hills, or mountains, which were windy, as it was wind that blew away the chaff and helped the extraction of seeds.

Once the threshing floor is constructed it can be used for both threshing and as a solar observatory. What you are actually observing is the shadow made by the central stake or a standing stone. At the sunrise and sunset the shadow will be long enough to cut the circle at the oposite end. This is extremely precise way of marking the sunrise point. 

In 1950, Serbian ethnographer Nenad Janković published a book on folk astronomy called "Astronomija u predanjima, obicajima i umotvorinama Srba" (Astronomy in legends, customs and oral and written tradition of the Serbs). In it he expressed his great surprise at the ability of ordinary illiterate peasants to tell exact date and time without calendars and clocks. Professor Jankovic states that one of the main instruments used for these calendar and time calculations was the threshing floor. By looking at the shadow cast by the stožer, the central pole at sunrise, they were able to tell the date. And by looking at the shadow cast by the stožer, the central pole during the day they were able to tell the time. Threshing floor is a universal solar observatory, which at the same time can tell the date and the time. The main parts of this solar observatory were solar circle and its center, solar pole, stožer. Or if viewed from above, from heaven, the way Sun God would see it, a circle and a dot representing its center, solar pole, stožer. This is the symbol found all over the world and in Egypt it was the symbol of the sun, Ra. The below symbol is usually interpreted to mean sun disc, but I believe that it actually means sun circle, threshing floor and sun cycle observed from the threshing floor.

Greeks called the central solar pole, stožer of the sundial "gnomon" meaning the one which knows. This was because the central stake "new" the time and date. 

According to ethnographic research from the Balkan mountains conducted in the 19th century, threshing floor was the place where all the village meetings, celebrations and ceremonies took place.The ethnographers say that this is because threshing floors were the only flat smooth surfaces big enough to accommodate many people. But was this the only reason? Were threshing floors places where village meetings, celebrations and ceremonies took place because they were considered to be the sacred ground, the place where god lived on earth? I believe so. 

Were threshing floors the mysterious "sacred high places"? I believe so too. 

You can read more about threshing floors and their role in the solar worship rights in my post "Bogovo gumno - god's threshing floor".

In my post "Calendar" I explained why the ancient solar observatories were built and how they were used. The ancient solar observatories were built in order to determine the exact moment of the winter and (or) summer solstice. If you know one or both of these two points on the yearly solar circle, you can create fixed and repeatable lunisolar calendar which is necessary for in order to determine the exact timing of vegetative events during the solar year. 

So how do you determine the exact moment of the winter and (or) summer solstice?

You find a clear flat piece of high ground from which you can observe sunrises and sunsets. The observatory. You stick a pole into the ground to mark the observation spot. Then as the year passes, every morning and every evening you stand next to the observation pole and observe sunrise and sunset. As you are observing the sunrises and sunsets, you notice that the point where sun rises is not the same as the point where sun sets. The sun rises on the left side of the horizon, travels across the sky from left to right and sets at the opposite right side of the horizon. As days pass you realize that the point where the sun rises moves along the horizon. So does the point where the sun sets. You notice that the sunrise point moves during the spring further and further to the left and the sunset point further and further to the right. So the sun needs to travel longer across the sky and the day is longer and longer and hotter and hotter. Then at some point during the summer the sunrise and sunset points start moving in the opposite direction. The sunrise point starts moving to the right and sunset point starts moving to the left. They get closer and closer to each other, so the sun has to travel shorter distance between the sunrise and sunset and the day is shorter and shorter and colder and colder. 

This is extremely important observation if you depend on solar vegetative cycle for your survival. If the length and heat of the day depends on the position of the sunrise and sunset points, then determining how they move becomes imperative. You know that the days when the sunrise and sunset points change the direction of their movements, fall in the middle of the coldest and hottest part of the year. You are of course more interested in the turning point which falls in the middle of the cold dark part of the year. You want to know if, and this was for our ancestors very real IF, and when the sunrise and sunset points will start moving further and further away from each other, because that will mean that the days will start getting longer and hotter again. So you start observing the the horizon and you try to remember where the sun rose yesterday in order to compare it with the sunrise position today. But that is difficult and imprecise. It would be much better if you could mark the points of sunrise every day in some way and then observe the relative position of the sunrise points to the marks. So you decide to use stake, pole as marker. But it is difficult to mark the exact point of sunrise if the horizon is uneven. It would be much easier if the horizon is horizontal, smooth and elevated all around you so that the observation and marking of the sunrise points becomes more precise. So you decide to create an artificial horizontal smooth horizon which will mask the real horizon. You take a long enough rope, tie it to the observation pole and then walk around the observation pole. As you walk you mark a circle with the center in the observation pole.

You then dig a circular trench along the circle and pile up the the dug out earth on the edge of the circle to form the bank. You build a henge like this original earthen henge in Stonehenge. You can read my article about henges here.

Now when the sun rises it will be easy to mark the exact spot of the sunrise with a stake stuck into the elevated earthen bank. Every morning and evening you observe the new position of the sunrise point. If the sun does not rise at the point marked with the yesterday's stake, you move the stake to mark the new position of the sunrise. Then one day in the middle of the winter, the movement of the sunrise point will stop. The sun will rise at the same position behind the yesterday's sunrise stake. That day is the winter turning point, the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. You mark this point with the permanent taller stake. So when the sun again rises behind this tall sunrise stake you will know that the winter turning point, the winter solstice, the shortest day has arrived again. You do the same for the day when the sun rises twice behind the same stake in the summer. That day is the summer turning point, the summer solstice, the longest day of the year. You mark this point with the permanent taller stake too. So when the sun again rises behind this tall sunrise stake you will know that the summer turning point, the summer solstice, the longest day has arrived again. 

Do you see how much the above henge looks like a threshing floor? If you were using threshing floor as a solar observatory, and if you marked the solstice points with two sticks your threshing floor would look like this:

Now if you know the position of the winter and summer solstice, the three stakes, the central stake, and the two solstice stakes can be used to determine the position of the true east. 

Which could be very useful if, for instance, you were building a temple that you wanted to orient towards the east. By the way do you know that to orient literally means to turn east?

So we have two sticks, stuck at the edge of the threshing floor, the ancient solar observatory, on top of which the first temple was built. Marking the sun's turning points on the horizon, one for winter solstice, the other for summer solstice. Between is east, the area of the horizon where sun rises. Two sticks mark the entrance into the house of Sun, the house of God. The sun gate...Right in the middle of this due east, the direction towards which the ancient Hebrew temple door was oriented, to welcome God (sun) in... Hence two pillars, Boaz and Joktan...

Knowing this, I don't think that the decision to build the first temple on a threshing floor was accidental. Threshing floors and other solar observatories were holy places for sun worshipers. And if the sun worshipers wanted to build a temple dedicated to the sun god, then building it on top of a threshing floor and orienting it towards the east and marking the points of the two solstices with two prominent free standing columns would be very logical thing to do indeed. 

But wait, am I saying that the first temple was dedicated to the sun god? Is there any indication that that this could have been the case? Actually yes...But more about this in my next post.