When Solomon dedicated the temple, he sacrificed 22000 cattle and 120000 sheep. How was this done over 7 days?

1 Kings 8:63

Solomon offered a sacrifice of fellowship offerings to the LORD: twenty-two thousand cattle and a hundred and twenty thousand sheep and goats. So the king and all the Israelites dedicated the temple of the LORD.

This is paralleled very closely in 2 Chronicles 7:5

5 And king Solomon offered a sacrifice of twenty and two thousand oxen, and an hundred and twenty thousand sheep: so the king and all the people dedicated the house of God.

Further on it is mentioned that he could not fit all the sacrifices onto the altar, and the feast went on for 7 days:

1 Kgs 8:64 On that same day the king consecrated the middle part of the courtyard in front of the temple of the LORD, and there he offered burnt offerings, grain offerings and the fat of the fellowship offerings, because the bronze altar that stood before the LORD was too small to hold the burnt offerings, the grain offerings and the fat of the fellowship offerings. 65 So Solomon observed the festival at that time, and all Israel with him--a vast assembly, people from Lebo Hamath to the Wadi of Egypt. They celebrated it before the LORD our God for seven days and seven days more, fourteen days in all.

Again, this is paralleled in 2 Chronicles:

2 Chr 7:7 Moreover Solomon hallowed the middle of the court that was before the house of the Lord: for there he offered burnt offerings, and the fat of the peace offerings, because the brasen altar which Solomon had made was not able to receive the burnt offerings, and the meat offerings, and the fat. 8 Also at the same time Solomon kept the feast seven days, and all Israel with him, a very great congregation, from the entering in of Hamath unto the river of Egypt.

Even over seven days, that's 20000 animals/day or a sacrifice every 4 seconds. If an animal takes 2 hours to be cremated, that's 12 shifts of 1666 animals each. Excluding the time between shifts. That hollowed area in the middle of the court must have accommodated 1666 animals at very least.

How was this carried out practically?

  • Just to say that the scriptures give a total of 142,000 sacrifices, not 144,000.
    – Anne
    Commented Sep 28, 2021 at 10:10

1 Answer 1


If we imagine that the people did most of the killing and that the priest's only sprinkled from each on to the altar then a sacrifice every four seconds is quite possible. The large number indicates how many people were involved and how energetic they were in accomplishing the task.

According to Josephus a Passover-feast at Jerusalem in Nero’s time, the priests counted 256,000 sacrifices confirming the capacity of such large numbers. This means the temple and whatever possible surrounding areas to house the animals were large enough to accommodate such high numbers. Joseph's argued that as 'no more than ten that feast together' it mean that 'two million seven hundred thousand and two hundred persons that were pure and holy'.

And that this city could contain so many people in it is manifest by that number of them which was taken under Cestius, who being desirous of informing Nero of the power of the city, who otherwise was disposed to contemn that nation, entreated the high priests, if the thing were possible, to take the number of their whole multitude. (423) So these high priests, upon the coming of their feast which is called the Passover, when they slay their sacrifices, from the ninth hour till the eleventh, but so that a company not less than ten belong to every sacrifice (for it is not lawful for them to feast singly by themselves), and many of us are twenty in a company, (424) found the number of sacrifices was two hundred and fifty-six thousand five hundred; (425) which, upon the allowance of no more than ten that feast together, amounts to two million seven hundred thousand and two hundred persons that were pure and holy (Josephus, F., & Whiston, W. (1987). The works of Josephus: complete and unabridged. Peabody: Hendrickson. (Wars of the Jews 6.425))