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 ( Nehemiah 1:1 ; Daniel 8:2 ). It is the name given to the temple fortress ( Nehemiah 2:8 ) and to the temple itself ( 1 Chronicles 29:1 ). It denotes also a spacious building or a great house ( Daniel 1:4 ; Daniel 4:4 Daniel 4:29 : Esther 1:5 ; 7:7 ), and a fortified place or an enclosure ( Ezekiel 25:4 ). Solomon's palace is described in 1 Kings 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 ( Matthew 26:3 Matthew 26:58 Matthew 26:69 ; Mark 14:54 Mark 14:66 ; John 18:15 ). In Phil 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 ( Acts 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."
Palace in the Bible, in the singular and plural, is the rendering of several words of diverse meaning. ( 1 Chronicles 29:1 ; Ezra 4:14 ; Amos 4:3 ) etc. It often designates the royal residence, and usually suggests a fortress or battlemented house. The word occasionally included the whole city as in ( Esther 9:12 ) and again, as in ( 1 Kings 16:18 ) it is restricted to a part of the royal apartments. It is applied, as in ( 1 Chronicles 29:1 ) 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 Pharaohs 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," ( 1 Kings 10:5 ) which was a subterranean passage 250 feet long by 42 feet wide, of which the remains may still be traced.
In Hebrew chiefly 'armon, in the Revised Version (British and American) text translated "castle" in 1 Kings 16:18; 2 Kings 15:25; birah, hekhal, the same word often rendered "temple"; in Greek aule, in the Revised Version (British and American) translated "court" (Matthew 26:3,18,69; Mark 14:54,66; Luke 11:21; John 18:15). On the other hand, "palace" takes the place in the Revised Version (British and American) of the King James Version "common hall" or "judgment hall" (praitorion, Matthew 27:27; John 18:28,33; 19:9; Acts 23:35). See JUDGMENT HALL. A description of Solomon's palace is given in 1 Kings 7:1-12 (see TEMPLE). Archaeology has brought to light the remains of great palaces in Egypt, Babylonia, Assyria (Sargon, Sennacherib, Assurbanipal, etc.), Susa, etc.
These files are public domain.