The Salt Lake Temple Escutcheons
and Door Knobs
Each of the doors on the Salt Lake Temple is fitted with an elaborately carved brass escutcheon (fancy word for doorplate) and doorknob. The carvings include several symbols that reflect scriptural themes and denote the ordinances and blessings pertaining to the temple.
On the base of the doorplate are two symbols.
The floral designs and patterns represent the Garden of Eden.
The seashell is a symbol for water and cleansing, signifying spiritual cleansing through baptism.
The doorknob has three symbols inscribed on it.
The seashell on the bottom of the knob has the same symbolism as the seashell on the doorplate.
The Beehive is a symbol that represents work and industry. It signifies the need to carry on the work of The Lord, and build up His Kingdom on Earth. It is also a symbol of honey, which represents the Promised Land.
The inscription, which reads "Holiness to The Lord", comes from the engraving on the mitre of the High Priest who presided over the temple in the Old Testament. The inscription signifies that this temple is the House of God and that the ordinances performed inside are done under authority of the Holy Priesthood of God.
The next symbols on the doorplate are found just above the doorknob.
The symbol of the wooden doors represent the Gates of Heaven, and being enabled to enter through them into God's presence.
Just above the door is a carving of an arched metal grill with a keystone. The same grill pattern is found above the doors inside the Salt Lake Temple. The keystone at the top of the arch is a symbol which represents the priesthood and the new and everlasting covenant, which relates to the ordinances performed inside.
The date inscribed, 1853 - 1893, represents the year the first cornerstone of the temple was laid down and the year the temple was completed and dedicated. The 40 years it took to complete the temple has become a symbol to some of the 40 years the children of Israel sojourned in the desert waiting to enter the Promised Land. Just as the Israelites were finally able to enter the Land and receive the promised blessings from The Lord, faithful Mormons were finally able to enter the temple and receive the blessings promised to them by The Lord.
The symbols on the top of the doorplate go as follows:
The two palmattes located just above the dates have multiple meanings. First, the palmettes symbolize the Tree of Life, which represents returning to live with God and Eternal Life. Second, the palmette represents the palm branches that were waved to welcome and herald Jesus' coming into the city (John 12:13), but in this case Jesus is being welcomed into the temple. And third, the palmette represents blessings that are promised to those that attend the temple, specifically Psalm 92:12-13; which reads, "The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Those that be planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God."
The next symbol is the handclasp within a circle. The circle is a symbol for eternity and the handclasp is a symbol for a covenant. Combined, the symbol teaches that the covenants made with God inside the temple are eternal.
The olive branches are a symbol of the Abrahamic covenants of the house of Israel, and the arch represents the arches found in the temples of Israel. This signifies that Mormons are a covenant people with God, and a grafted-in-branch of the house of Israel.