Used now only of royal dwellings, although originally meaning simply (as the Latin word palatium, from which it is derived, shows) a building surrounded by a fence or a paling. In the Authorized Version there are many different words so rendered, presenting different ideas, such as that of citadel or lofty fortress or royal residence (Ne 1:1; Da 8:2). It is the name given to the temple fortress (Ne 2:8) and to the temple itself (1Ch 29:1). It denotes also a spacious building or a great house (1/4'>Da 1:4; 4:4,1; Es 1:5; 7:7), and a fortified place or an enclosure (Eze 25:4). Solomon's palace is described in 1Ki 7:1-12 as a series of buildings rather than a single great structure. Thirteen years were spent in their erection. This palace stood on the eastern hill, adjoining the temple on the south.
In the New Testament it designates the official residence of Pilate or that of the high priest (Mt 26:3,58,69; Mr 14:54,66; Joh 18:15). In Php 1:13 this word is the rendering of the Greek praitorion, meaning the praetorian cohorts at Rome (the life-guard of the Caesars). Paul was continually chained to a soldier of that corps (Ac 28:16), and hence his name and sufferings became known in all the praetorium. The "soldiers that kept" him would, on relieving one another on guard, naturally spread the tidings regarding him among their comrades. Some, however, regard the praetroium (q.v.) as the barrack within the palace (the palatium) of the Caesars in Rome where a detachment of these praetorian guards was stationed, or as the camp of the guards placed outside the eastern walls of Rome.
In the chambers which were occupied as guard-rooms, says Dr. Manning, "by the praetorian troops on duty in the palace, a number of rude caricatures are found roughly scratched upon the walls, just such as may be seen upon barrack walls in every part of the world. Amongst these is one of a human figure nailed upon a cross. To add to the 'offence of the cross,' the crucified one is represented with the head of an animal, probably that of an ass. Before it stands the figure of a Roman legionary with one hand upraised in the attitude of worship. Underneath is the rude, misspelt, ungrammatical inscription, Alexamenos worships his god. It can scarcely be doubted that we have here a contemporary caricature, executed by one of the praetorian guard, ridiculing the faith of a Christian comrade."
Solomon's palace is illustrated by those of Nineveh and Persepolis lately discovered. The great hall of state was "the house of the forest of (pillars of cedar of) Lebanon," 150 ft. long (100 cubits) by 75 broad (1Ki 7:2). There were "four rows of cedar pillars with cedar beams upon the pillars. It was covered with cedar above upon the beams, that lay on 45 pillars, 15 in a row." Three rows stood free, the fourth was built into the outer wall (Josephus, Ant. 7:5, section 2, 11:5). "There were windows in three rows, and light against light in three ranks"; namely, clerestory windows. The throne was in the center of the longer side. The porch of judgment, 75 ft. square, was opposite the center of the longer side of the great hall (Josephus, Ant. 7:5, section 1): 2Ki 7:7. The position of a like hall at Persepolis is the same. The porch of pillars, 75 ft. by 45 ft. (50 by 30 cubits): 1Ki 7:6. The ordinary place for the king to receive visitors and to transact business. Behind was the inner court (1Ki 7:8) with gardens, fountains, and cloisters, and courts for residence of attendants and guards, and for the 300 women of the harem.
On the side of the great court opposite the inner court was the palace of Pharaoh's daughter. "The foundation" (1Ki 7:10) was an artificial platform of masonry, as at Sennacherib's palace at Koyunjik and at Baalbek, some stones being 60 ft. long. The halls of the palace were wainscoted with three tiers of polished stone, surmounted by a fourth, elaborately carved with leaves and flowers (1Ki 7:12). Above this the walls had plaster with colored arabesque. At Nineveh, on the eight feet high alabaster wainscoting were sculptured men and animals (Eze 23:14), whereas the second commandment restrained the Jews from such representations. But coloring was used freely for decoration (Jer 22:14). "The palace" in Php 1:13 is the barrack of the Praetorian guards attached to Nero's palace on the Palatine hill at Rome. So "Caesar's household" is mentioned (Php 4:22).
The emperor was "praetor" or "commander in chief"; so the barrack of his bodyguard was the "praetorium". The "all the praetorium" implies that the whole camp, whether inside or outside the city, is included. The camp of the Praetorians, who became virtual masters of the empire, was outside the Viminal gate. Paul was now no longer "in his own hired house" chained to a soldier, by command (probably) of Burrus, one of the two prefects of the praetorium (Ac 28:16,20,30-31), but in strict custody in the praetorium on Tigellinus becoming prefect. The soldiers relieving one another in guard would naturally spread through the camp the gospel story heard from Paul, which was the occasion of his imprisonment. Thus God overruled what befell him "unto the furtherance of the gospel" (Php 1:12).
A recent traveler, Dr. Manning, describes a remarkable illustration of the reference to "Caesar's household": "in the chambers which were occupied as guard rooms by the Praetorian troops on duty in the palace, a number of rude caricatures are found roughly scratched upon the walls, just such as may be seen upon barrack walls in every part of the world. Among these is one of a human figure nailed upon a cross. To add to the 'offense of the cross' the crucified one is represented with the head of an animal, probably that of an ass. Before it stands the figure of a Roman legionary, with one hand upraised in the customary attitude of worship. Underneath is the rude, misspell, ungrammatical inscription, Alexamenos worships his god. It can scarcely be doubted that we have here a contemporary caricature, executed by one of the Praetorian guard, ridiculing the faith of a Christian comrade."
Primarily 'palace' denotes simply a large house; so the Egyptian royal title Pharaoh or Palace (cf. Sublime Porte) means 'great house'; and the ordinary OT term for 'palace,' in its strict sense of 'royal residence,' is 'the king's house' or 'his house,' 1Ki 7:1; 9:10. The only royal residence of which we have any details in the Bible is Solomon's palace, 1Ki 7:1-12, which took thirteen years to build. This included the 'House of the Forest of Lehanon,' a great hall, 100 cubits long, 50 broad, 30 high, with four rows of pillars; a 'porch of pillars,' 50 cubits by 30; the 'porch of the throne' for a court of justice; a dwelling-house for himself, and another for Pharaoh's daughter. Round about the whole was a great court of hewn stones and cedar beams.
In Egypt the palace was not only the royal residence, but also the seat of government. The royal apartments were in an inner, the halls of audience in an outer, court. If we include all the buildings required for courtiers and officials, the 'palace' becomes not a house, but a royal city. A characteristic feature was a balcony on which the king would show himself to his people.
The Assyrian and Babylonian palaces were large and magnificent. In Babylonia, the palaces, like the temples, were built on the top of artificial mounds of crude bricks; and were groups of buildings forming a great fortress.
This term represents several Hebrew words, and may signify castle, fortress, the king's residence, or any large building. Thus the expression occurs, "the palace of the king's house." 2Ki 15:25. Solomon built several for himself and for his wives. 2Ch 36:19. The temple built by Solomon is also called 'the palace.' 1Ch 29:1,19. In the N.T. the palace of the high priest, ????, signifies his court. Mt 26:3,58,69. In Php 1:13 the word is ??????????, 'the court of the praetor,' or governor, or perhaps 'the praetorian guard,' from which Paul's keepers were taken. Called PRAETORIUM in Mr 15:16.
Palace in the Bible, in the singular and plural, is the rendering of several words of diverse meaning.
etc. It often designates the royal residence, and usually suggests a fortress or battlemented house. The word occasionally included the whole city as in
and again, as in
it is restricted to a part of the royal apartments. It is applied, as in
to the temple in Jerusalem. The site of the palace of Solomon was almost certainly in the city itself on the brow opposite to the temple, and overlooking it and the whole city of David. It is impossible, of course, to be at all certain what was either the form or the exact disposition of such a palace; but, as we have the dimensions of the three principal buildings given in the book of Kings and confirmed by Josephus, we may, by taking these as a scale, ascertain pretty nearly that the building covered somewhere about 150,000 or 160,000 square feet. Whether it was a square of 400 feet each way, or an oblong of about 550 feet by 300, must always be more or less a matter of conjecture. The principal building situated within the palace was, as in all eastern palaces, the great hall of state and audience, called "the house of the forest of Lebanon," apparently from the four rows of cedar pillars by which it was supported. It was 100 cubits (175 feet) long, 50 (88 feet) wide, and 30 (52 feet) high. Next in importance was the hall or "porch of judgment," a quadrangular building supported by columns, as we learn front Josephus, which apparently stood on the other side of the great court, opposite the house of the forest of Lebanon. The third edifice is merely called a "porch of pillars." Its dimensions were 50 by 30 cubits. Its use cannot be considered as doubtful, as it was an indispensable adjunct to an eastern palace. It was the ordinary place of business of the palace, and the reception-room when the king received ordinary visitors, and sat, except on great state occasions, to transact the business of the kingdom. Behind this, we are told, was the inner court, adorned with gardens and fountains, and surrounded by cloisters for shade; and there were other courts for the residence of the attendants and guards, and for the women of the harem. Apart from this palace, but attached, as Josephus tells us, to the hall of judgment, was the palace of Pharaoh's daughter-too proud and important a personage to be grouped with the ladies of the harem, and requiring a residence of her own. The recent discoveries at Nineveh have enabled us to understand many of the architectural details of this palace, which before they were made were nearly wholly inexplicable. Solomon constructed an ascent from his own house to the temple, "the house of Jehovah,"
which was a subterranean passage 250 feet long by 42 feet wide, of which the remains may still be traced.