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The Temple in Jerusalem or Holy Temple ( ), refers to a series of structures located on the Temple Mountmarker (Har HaBayit) in the old city of Jerusalemmarker. Historically, two temples were built at this location, with a third Temple believed to be built in the future. According to classical Jewish belief, the Temple (or the Temple Mountmarker) acts as the figurative "footstool" of God's presence (Heb. "shechina").

According to the Hebrew Bible, the First Templemarker was built by King Solomon (reigned c 970-c 930). It was the center of ancient Judaism according to Hebrew scripture. As the sole place of Jewish sacrifice, the Temple replaced the local sanctuaries and crude altars in the hills. This First Temple was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BCE when they sacked the city. Construction of a new temple was begun in 537 BCE; after a hiatus, work resumed 520 BCE, with completion occurring in 516 BCE and dedication in 515. According to the Book of Ezra, rebuilding of the Temple was authorized by Cyrus the Great and ratified by Darius the Great. Five centuries later, this Second Temple was renovated by Herod the Great in about 20 BCE, also known as Herod's Temple. It was subsequently destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE (see The Siege of Jerusalem in 70 CE). All of the outer walls still stand today, although the Temple itself has long since been destroyed, and for many years it was believed that the western wallmarker of the complex was the only wall standing.

An Islamic shrine, the Dome of the Rockmarker, has stood on the site of the Temple since the late 7th Century CE, and the al-Aqsa Mosquemarker, from roughly the same period, also stands on the Temple courtyard. Sunni Muslims hold Temple Mount as a significant place. Sunni Islam accepts all Biblical prophets prior to Jesus and thus Temple Mount, having been a sanctuary for many Biblical prophets, has a great amount of significance in Islam. Islamic Tradition says that a Temple was first built on Temple Mount by the prophet Jacob and the Temple was later renovated by Solomon son of David.

Jewish eschatology envisions the construction of the Third Temple in Jerusalem associated with the coming of the Jewish Messiah, and thus, adherents of Orthodox Judaism anticipate a Third Temple.

On August 30, 2007, what appear to be the remains of the Second Temple were discovered during the installation of pipes in the compound. In October 2007, for the first time, archaeological remains dating to the First Temple period were discovered on the platform of the Temple Mount.


The Hebrew name given in Scripture for the building is Beit HaMikdash or "The Sanctified House", and only the Temple in Jerusalem is referred to by this name. The temple is also called by a variety of other names in the Hebrew Bible, such as Beit YHWH (House of Yahweh) or simply Beiti (My house) or Beitechah (Your House).

The Temple of Solomonmarker was constructed based on specific plans given to King David, by God. David had hoped to build it, but was told by God that his son would be the one to assemble the first temple. During his reign, David began to collect most of the raw materials used in the construction, from the wood, to the huge foundation stones, to the gold, silver, bronze and other metals used. The Temple was designed to house the Ark of the Covenant, and to serve all nations, particularly the Hebrew nation of Israel, as a place where any man could worship the God of Israel.

The First Temple, referred to as the Temple of Solomon, was likely constructed by members of all 12 tribes of Israel, since all the tribes were united under David and then Solomon. Following Solomon's reign, his son Rehoboam, due to his arrogance, caused 10 of the tribes of Israel split off to form the Northern Kingdom of Israel, while the tribes of Judah, Benjamin and much of Levi, remained in what was known as the Kingdom of Judah. The second temple was subsequently built by the remnant of Judah only who were taken in exile by Nebuchadnezzar in the 6th century BCE. The other 10 tribes had already been dispersed a few centuries earlier, when their kingdom was torn apart by the Kingdom of Assyria. This temple then underwent further construction by King Herod, leading it to be called Herod's Temple by some.

First and Second Temples

Two distinct Temples stood in succession on the Temple Mountmarker in Jerusalem:

Solomon's Temple was built in the 10th century BCE to replace the Tabernacle, and has been dated astronomically to 957 BCE. It was destroyed by the Babylonians under Nebuchadnezzar in 586 BCE, and thus stood for about 375 years; Talmudic tradition gives the number as 410 years. The building of the Temple of Solomon plays a prominent role in Masonic tradition, as well.

The Second Temple was built after Cyrus allowed the Jews to return from the Babylonian captivity. The return took place around 537 BCE, and, after a number of delays, the Temple was completed in 516 BCE. The dimensions of the Temple Mount were then 150 metres x 50 metres.

The Second Temple was destroyed by Roman Empire troops under general Titus in 70 CE.This second Temple had been desecrated by Pompey, when he entered it after taking Jerusalem in 63 BCE. According to Josephus (living at the Court of the Roman Emperor), Pompey did not remove anything from the Temple or its treasury. He did, however, massacre the Priests who attempted to block his entry to the sanctuary.

[[File:Sack of jerusalem.JPG|thumb|450px|Sack of the Second Temple depicted on the inside wall of the Arch of Titusmarker in Rome.]]Pompey subsequently lost all his power and died as a hunted fugitive. This is seen by many Jewish people as Divine punishment. (See article on Pompey in the Encyclopaedia Judaica). Around 19 BCE, King Herod completely rebuilt the Temple Complex into a larger and grander version. This rebuilt Temple lasted until 70 CE, when it was completely destroyed — down to the foundations — by the Roman Empire.

During the last revolt of the Jews against the Romans in 132-135 CE, Simon bar Kokhba and Rabbi Akiva wanted to rebuild the Temple, but bar Kokhba's revolt failed and the Jews were banned from Jerusalem by the Roman Empire.

A further effort at rebuilding the Temple took place in 363 CE when Julian the Apostate ordered the restoration of the Jewish sanctuary in Jerusalem as a gesture of protest against Christianity, but this project failed. The pagan historian Ammianus Marcellinus, a contemporary witness, reported that balls of fire erupted from the foundations, burning the workmen.(The Roman History of Ammianus Marcellinus, Book 23 Chap. 1 Line 3)

The Talmud (Yoma 9b) provides theological reasons for the destruction: Why was the first Temple destroyed? Because the three cardinal sins were rampant in society: idol worship, licentiousness, and murder… And why then was the second Temple – wherein the society was involved in Torah, commandments and acts of kindness – destroyed? Because gratuitous hatred was rampant in society. This teaches that gratuitous hatred is equal in severity to the three cardinal sins: idol worship, licentiousness, and murder.

Building a Third Temple

Ever since the Second Temple's destruction, a prayer for the construction of a new Third Temple has been a formal part of the thrice-daily Jewish prayer services. However, the question of whether and when to construct the Third Temple is disputed both within the Jewish community and without; groups within Judaism argue both for and against construction of a new Temple, while the expansion of Abrahamic religion since the 1st century CE has made the issue contentious within Christian and Islamic thought as well. Furthermore, the complicated political status of Jerusalem makes initiation of reconstruction presently difficult, while the traditional physical location of the historic Temple is presently occupied by the Al-Aqsa Mosquemarker and the Dome of the Rockmarker.

Physical layout

Excavated steps on the South side of the Temple Mount
According to the Talmud, the Temple had an Ezrat Nashim (Women's Court) to the east and main area to the west. The main area contained the butchering area for the sacrifices and the Mizbaeach (Outer Altar) on which portions of most offerings were burned and blood was poured or dashed. An edifice contained the Ulam (antechamber), the Heichal, and the Kodesh Kodashim (Holy of Holies). The Heichal and the Kodesh Kodashim were separated by a wall in the First Temple and by two curtains in the Second Temple. The Heichal contained the Menorah, the table of Showbread and the Incense Altar.

The main courtyard had thirteen gates. On the south side, beginning with the southwest corner, there were four gates:
  • Shaar Ha'Elyon (the Upper Gate)
  • Shaar HaDelek (the Kindling Gate), where wood was brought in
  • Shaar HaBechorot (the Gate of Firstborn), where people with first-born animal offerings entered and fathers and children entered for the Pidyon HaBen ceremony
  • Shaar HaMayim (the Water Gate), where the Water Libation entered on Sukkot.

On the north side, beginning with the northwest corner, there were four gates:
  • Shaar Yechonyah (The Gate of Yechonyah), where kings of the Davidic line enter and Yechonyah/Yehoyachin left for the last time to captivity
  • Shaar HaKorban (The gate of the Offering), where priests entered with kodshei kodashim offerings
  • Shaar HaNashim (The Women's Gate), where women entered into the Azara or main courtyard to perform offerings
  • Shaar Hashir (The Gate of Song), where the Levites entered with their musical instruments

On the east side was Shaar Nikanor, between the Women's Courtyard and the main Temple Courtyard, which had two minor doorways, one on its right and one on its left. On the western wall, which was relatively unimportant, there were two gates that did not have any name.

The Temple in the writings of the prophets

The Biblical prophets describe visions of a mysterious presence of God occupying the Temple.

Isaiah wrote "I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne high and lifted up, and his train filled the Temple." (Isaiah 6:1). Jeremiah implored "Do not dishonor the throne of your glory" (Jeremiah 14:21) and referred to "Thou throne of glory, on high from the beginning, Thou place of our sanctuary" (Jeremiah 17:12). Ezekiel spoke of "the glory of the God of Israel was there [in the Sanctuary], according to the vision that I saw in the plain."

Isaiah spoke of the importance of prayer as well as sacrifice in Temple, and of a universal purpose:
Even them will I bring to My holy mountain, and make joyful in My house of prayer,
Their burnt-offerings and their sacrifices shall be acceptable upon Mine altar
For my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples. (Isaiah 56:7, JPS translation).
"My House shall be a house of prayer for all peoples." (Isaiah 56:7)

Temple services

The Temple was the place where offerings described in the course of the Hebrew Bible were carried out, including daily morning and afternoon offerings and special offerings on Shabbat and Jewish holidays. Levites recited Psalms at appropriate moments during the offerings, including the Psalm of the Day, special psalms for the new month, and other occasions, the Hallel during major Jewish holidays, and psalms for special sacrifices such as the "Psalm for the Thanksgiving Offering" (Psalm 100).

As part of the daily offering, a prayer service was performed in the Temple which was used as the basis of the traditional Jewish service recited to this day, including well-known prayers such as the Barchu, the Shema, and the Priestly Blessing. The Mishna describes it as follows:

The Temple as the Garden of Eden

Lawrence Stager makes a case that the Temple was meant to be a model and re-creation of the Garden of Eden. In so doing, he claims that the Temple courtyards were full of trees, flowers, and fountains. Jewish tradition affirms the Temple's connection with the Garden of Eden. However, it is forbidden by Jewish law to plant trees in the Temple courtyard.

Role in Jewish services

As noted above, the heart of the traditional Jewish morning service, the part surrounding the Shema prayer, is essentially unchanged from the daily worship service performed in the Temple. In addition, recitation of the Amidah prayer, which traditionally replaces the Temple's daily tamid and special-occasion Mussaf (additional) offerings, must be recited today during the times that the offerings they substitute for were performed in the days of the Temple, in both Orthodox and Conservative Judaism.

The Temple is mentioned extensively in Orthodox services, and, to a lesser degree, in Conservative ones as well.

Orthodox Judaism

Mentions in Orthodox Jewish services include:
  • A daily recital of Biblical and Talmudic passages related to the korbanot (sacrifices) performed in the Temple (See korbanot in siddur).
  • References to the restoration of the Temple and sacrificial worships in the daily Amidah prayer, the central prayer in Judaism.
  • A traditional personal plea for the restoration of the Temple at the end of private recitation of the Amidah.
  • A prayer for the restoration of the "house of our lives" and the shekhinah (divine presence) "to dwell among us" is recited during the Amidah prayer.
  • Recitation of the Psalm of the day; the psalm sung by the Levites in the Temple for that day during the daily morning service.
  • Numerous psalms sung as part of the ordinary service make extensive references to the Temple and Temple worship.
  • Recitation of the special Jewish holiday prayers for the restoration of the Temple and their offering, during the Mussaf services on Jewish holidays.
  • An extensive recitation of the special Temple service for Yom Kippur during the service for that holiday.
  • Special services for Sukkot (Hakafot) contain extensive (but generally obscure) references to the special Temple service performed on that day.

The destruction of the Temple is mourned on the Jewish fast day of Tisha B'Av. Three other minor fasts (Tenth of Tevet, 17th of Tammuz, and Third of Tishrei), also mourn events leading to or following the destruction of the Temple.

Conservative Judaism

Conservative Judaism retains mentions of the Temple in Jerusalem, but removes references to the restoration of sacrifices. The study session of Temple sacrifices is removed or replaced, the passages in the daily Amidah, the weekday Torah service, and elsewhere referring to restoration of the Temple are retained - but references to sacrifices are removed. References to sacrifices on holidays are retained, but made in the past tense, and petitions for their restoration are removed. Special holiday services, such as special prayers at Yom Kippur and Sukkot, are retained, but are often abbreviated or omitted by Conservative congregations.

Siddur Sim Shalom, the prayer book(s) used in most Conservative synagogues, has alternate versions of the Amidah prayer: a version mentioning sacrifices in the past tense and one without reference to sacrifices at all.

Conservative Judaism has retained the four fasts relating to the destruction of the Temple, although only Tisha B'Av is widely observed.

Reform and Reconstructionist Judaism

Reform and Reconstructionist Judaism have removed all direct references to the Temple, although some indirect or ambiguous references (e.g. "Happy are those who dwell in your House", Psalm 84:5) are retained.

For a number of years the Reform movement in the United Statesmarker called its places of worship not synagogues or shuls but temples. This is due to their belief that prayer replaced sacrifice as the main mode of Jewish worship, and that in a world where that is the case, there is no need for The Temple, only temples. Reform Judaism has, in fact, repudiated animal sacrifice, and now refers to a "sacrifice of the heart." . Now, however, the Reform movement does refer to its main places of worship as synagogues. Temple has come to be used strictly as a term referring to the first and second Temples.

Archaeological evidence

excavations have found one hundred mikvaot (ritual immersion pools) surrounding the Temple Mountmarker or Har HaBayit. This is strong evidence that this area was considered of the utmost holiness in ancient times and could not possibly have been a secular area. However, it does not establish where exactly within the area was the Temple located. There are basically three theories:
  • The Temple was where the Dome of the Rock is now located.
  • The Temple was located a little to the north of the Dome of the Rock (Professor Asher Kaufman).
  • The Temple was located a little to the east of the Dome of the Rock (Professor Joseph Patrich of the Hebrew Universitymarker. See article in the World Jewish Digest, April 2007).
Other theories have the Temple either to the north or to the south of the Temple Mount.Scholars generally reject more outlandish theories that claim the Temple was located somewhere else than Jerusalem or even outside the Land of Israel.

2004 artifact controversy

On December 27, 2004, it was reported in the Torontomarker-based The Globe and Mail that the Israel Museummarker in Jerusalemmarker concluded that the ivory pomegranate believed to have once adorned a scepter used by the high priest in Solomon's Temple was a fake. This artifact was the most important item of biblical antiquities in its collection. It had been part of a traveling exhibition at the Canadian Museum of Civilizationmarker in 2003. Experts fear that this discovery is part of an international fraud in antiquities. The thumb-sized pomegranate, which is a mere 44 mm in height, bears an inscription incised around the shoulder of the pomegranate in small paleo-Hebrew script. Only 9 characters remained complete, and were incomplete – if any sense were to be made of the inscription, it seemed likely that several more were missing.The surviving part of the inscription was transcribed לבי...ה קדש כהנם(Only the lower horizontal stroke of the yod and the upper horizontal stroke of the ה he remain.)

The following restoration of missing letters was proposed: לבית יהוה קדש כהנם

This reconstruction resulted in the following transliteration, now accepted by the vast majority of scholars:lby[t yhw]h qdš khnm, which led to the translation: "[Belonging] to the Temp[le of YaHW]eH, holy [or, consecrated] to the priests."

The notion that the artifact is fake derives from the conclusion that it belongs to the Bronze Age rather than the Iron Age. Also, strokes of the inscribed letters did not seem to continue directly into a broken-off section of the piece, suggesting that the inscription was added after the piece was broken.

At the end of 2008, Professor Yitzhak Roman of the Hebrew University of Jerusalemmarker, who was employed by the defense in the forgery trial, announced that the inscription on the ivory pomegranate is authentic. Using a scanning electron microscope, he concluded that the letters in question did in fact continue into the crack.

The Temple in Islam

Since at least Mishnaic times (200 CE), Jews face the temple mount in Jerusalem while praying. However earlier references appear in the Tanakh, where Daniel would kneel facing Jerusalem three times a day during prayer (Daneil 6:11). The Mishnah speaks about this in Berakhot chapter 4, Mishnahs 5 and 6 and this practice is even found as early as I Kings 8:35-36. In Islam, this only lasted for seventeen months after Muhammad's arrival in Medinamarker, after which the Qiblah became oriented towards the Kaabamarker in Meccamarker. According to historical accounts from the prophet Muhammad's companions contained in the Hadith, the change happened very suddenly during the noon prayer in a mosque in Medinamarker. Muhammad was leading the prayer when he received a revelation from Allah instructing him to take the Kaabamarker as the Qiblah as in the Qur'anic verse 2:144 which reads, "We see the turning of thy face (for guidance) to the heavens: now Shall We turn thee to a Qibla that shall please thee. Turn then Thy face in the direction of the sacred Mosquemarker: Wherever ye are, turn your faces in that direction. The people of the Book know well that that is the truth from their Lord. Nor is God unmindful of what they do.". According to the accounts, Muhammad, who had been facing Jerusalem during the prayer, upon receiving this revelation, immediately turned around to face Meccamarker, and those praying behind him also did so. After this, the mosque in which this incident occurred came to be known as Masjid al-Qiblatain (i.e. 'Mosque of the Two Qiblahs').

For some hundreds of years after the Muslim conquest, Jerusalem was still known to the Arabic speakers as 'Illya' which is the Arabic version of its Roman name 'Aelia Capitolina'. Bayt Al-Maqdes later became synonymous with Jerusalem and was eventually shortened to simply 'al Quds' ('The Holy'). When Khalif Omar ibn al-Khattāb (Umar) came to Jerusalemmarker he asked the Patriach of Jerusalem to lead him to the site of the Temple. The area was filled with debris because it was considered the quarry and the dump site of the city during Christian times.

A rabbi turned Muslim was with Umar: "Ka'ab al-Ahbar". He, armed with his religious knowledge, led Umar first to the site of the Temple (The area where Israelites used to pray) where indeed Umar discovered the foundations' ruins, where Umar built a mosque made of reed on the example of The Mosque of the Prophet in Medina (roof was also made of reed). Umar prayed with 10,000 people for the first time since the fall of the temple in 70 CE. Umar prohibited offering sacrifices in the temple.

Then while Umar was searching for "the Rock" that Muhammad ascended atop of, with Angel Gabriel, to Heaven in his night journey to Heaven "Isra and Mi'raj" just less than 20 years ago (as the prophet related), Ka'ab was also searching for the site of the Holy of Holies. While removing the debris from the expected site of the Holy of Holies, to everybody's amazement, a large rock was revealed, then more of it was exposed by more cleaning.

Umar built a fence around the rock because he saw Ka'ab walking on it barefoot ("to see how it felt," as Kaab related later). A later Khalif built The Dome of the Rock over the Rock. The Dome was a monumental engineering project that lasted decades in construction, hiring the best architects and master masons in the world.

See also


  1. "Temple, the." Cross, F. L., ed. The Oxford dictionary of the Christian church. New York: Oxford University Press. 2005
  2. Books of Chronicles, 1 Chronicles, chapter 22 - 29
  3. Durant, Will. Our Oriental Heritage. New York: Simon and Schuster. 1954. p. 307. See 1 Kings 3:2.
  4. Possible remains of second temple found in Jerusalem
  5. Erwin Reidinger: "The Temple Mount Platform in Jerusalem from Solomon to Herod: An Archaeological Re-Examination." In Assaph, Studies in Art of History, Volume 9, Tel Aviv 2004, 1-64.
  6. Hecateus of Abdere or pseudo-Hecateus of Abdere, transmitted by Josephus and Eusebius of Caesarea (Contra Appium: 1/22; Evangelical Preparation: 9/4.)
  7. Josephus, Judaic Antiquities : 15/14
  8. Gratuitous Hatred - What is it and Why is it so bad?
  9. Sheyibaneh Beit Hamikdash: Women in the Azara?
  10. Jerusalem as Eden, Lawrence Stager, Biblical Archaeology Review, May/June 2000
  11. Deut 16:21; also per Maimonides on the 613 commandments
  12. Biblical Archaeology Review Special News Report, December 16, 2008, " Leading Israeli Scientist Declares Pomegranate Inscription Authentic".
  13. In the Lands of the Prophet, Time-Life, p. 29

External links

Further reading

  • Biblical Archaeology Review, issues: July/August 1983, November/December 1989, March/April 1992, July/August 1999, September/October 1999, March/April 2000, September/October 2005
  • Ritmeyer, Leen. The Quest: Revealing the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Jerusalem: Carta, 2006. ISBN 965-220-628-8
  • Hamblin, William and David Seely, Solomon's Temple: Myth and History (Thames and Hudson, 2007) ISBN 0500251339
  • Yaron Eliav, God's Mountain: The Temple Mount in Time, Place and Memory (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2005)

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