“The windows of heaven” : temple windows in the Hebrew Bible and in comparative ancient Near Eastern evidence.

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The description of Solomon’s Temple windows in 1 Kgs 6:4 includes obscure terminology and provides no explicit insight into the function or symbolism of the temple windows. In this dissertation, I examine 1 Kgs 6:4 in its textual and compositional context. Through comparative analysis and spatial theory, I explore architectural features and symbolism of windows in the Hebrew Bible (HB) and Ancient Near East (ANE). This analysis includes textual, architectural, and iconographic evidence categories. The textual evidence occurs across genres and provides examples of monumental windows, cosmological windows, and figures at the window. The archaeological evidence consists of windows in temples based on evidence from ʿAin Dara, Aleppo, Hittite Temple 1, and monumental remains (balustrades and décor from Ramat Raḥel and City of David). Additionally, I examine portable examples of windows found in architectural models and ivory carvings along with their iconographic significance. This dissertation illustrates the transitional nature of windows, and the dangers and or blessings associated with that liminality. Windows because of their liminality require protections to stay the force of evil and engender good fortune. The temple windows of 1 Kgs 6:4, as I argue, are blocked. The façade windows separate YHWH’s sacredness from the people’s profaneness and serve to protect and guard the temple. Windows, however, also mediate between the divine and human to bring about judgment or blessing like the “windows of heaven” that they symbolize. The dissertation contributes to scholarship by consolidating textual, architectural, and iconographic evidence categories pertaining to windows and by elucidating the function and symbolism of windows in the ANE through Henri Lefebvre’s (reinterpreted by Edward W. Soja) concepts of space. This dissertation paves the way for new avenues of study on liminal spaces and figures.

Hebrew Bible. Ancient Near East. 1 Kings. Temple architecture. Iconography.