David Harris/Bible Lands Museum

Bronze cult stands, such as this one from the 12th century B.C.E., originally rested on wheels and supported basins of water used for ritual ablutions. The very slender, robed figures on this stand (far left) suggest Cypriot influence, though the bronze work is undoubtedly Phoenician in style. According to the Bible, King Solomon commissioned Hiram, an artisan from the Phoenician city of Tyre, to cast two bronze pillars and ten bronze stands for the Jerusalem Temple (1 Kings 7:13ff.); Hiram also built “ten basins of bronze” to be set in the stands. The Temple stands probably resembled the one shown here.

The winged figure sculpted in the stand combines the cherub’s four elements: man, lion, eagle and bull. We know that the hindquarters of the figure are bovine, not leonine, Elie Borowski tells us, because its tail rises slightly and then drops straight down, whereas a lion’s tail rises straight up and then curls back on itself over the animal’s rump.