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Temple of Jerusalem

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The Temple of Jerusalem or Holy Temple (Hebrew: בֵּית־הַמִּקְדָּשׁ, Bet HaMikdash or Beṯ HamMiqdāš; Arabic: بيت القدس, Beit al-Quds or Arabic: بيت المقدس, Beit al-Maqdis) refers to the Jewish temples located on the Temple Mount in the old city of Jerusalem. Two separate temples were built at this location - the first by King Solomon and then by Herod the Great many centuries later. The temple was a place dedicated to God and a building erected for worship. It functioned as the center of ancient Jewish worship and is believed to have existed on the site where a Third temple would later be built.

In his first revelation of himself to Abraham, God did not command the building of any temple and in the Pentateuch he ordained a tabernacle, a portable structure that could move with the people as they wandered in the wilderness. Not until the time of King Solomon did God permit the construction of a permanent building to be his temple. The law of Moses ordained that sacrifices to God could be offered only in one place, which God would choose for his Name to dwell in, so there should never be more than one place of worship to God. For that reason, worship on the high places is condemned throughout the books of Kings and Chronicles and those kings who destroyed the high places are particularly commended.

The First Temple

Main Article Solomon's Temple

The first temple was built in Jerusalem in the 10th century BC by King Solomon. The site was the one purchased for the purpose by King David, the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite 1 Chronicles 21:18-26, on which he built an altar to the Lord. King David’s Altar, Solomon’s Temple, The Second Temple and Herod’s Temple all stood in the same location.

The first temple, of which no trace now remains, was a magnificent construction which is described in detail in 2 Chronicles 3. The wealth devoted to it may be judged by the amount of gold used just to overlay the most holy place - 600 talents or about 23 metric tons. At the gold price of mid-June 2006, that is £244 million or US$450 million. It was not a particularly large building; its foundation was about 90 feet by 30, or 27m by 9m. However, only the priests were allowed to enter it; the people gathered in the court that surrounded it.

This first temple was stripped of its wealth by later kings of Judah as they tried to buy off foreign enemies and it was finally destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar II, king of Babylonia, in the eleventh year of King Zedekiah, last king of Judah, 586 BC.

The Second Temple

A model of Herod's temple in Jerusalem.
Main Article Herod's Temple

The Second Temple's construction was begun under a decree of Cyrus the Persian of 538 BC. This is the “temple of Zerubbabel”. The second temple survived the turmoil of the Maccabean wars, when it was desecrated by Antiochus Epiphanes, and the occupation of Israel by Rome in 63 BC, when the proconsul Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus violated the sanctity of the Most Holy Place. The second temple was extensively remodeled, with great magnificence, by King Herod the Great, and the building was still not completely finished at the time of Jesus' ministry, when it had been proceeding for 46 years. Although it was substantially a new building, "Herod's temple" is still considered to be a continuation of the second temple. This temple was destroyed by the Romans during the Jewish War in 70 AD and completely dismantled. All that now remains is the Western Wall (the Wailing Wall) which is a retaining wall of the platform on which the temple was built.

Recently, Israeli archaeologists reported their discovery of the quarry from which Herod took the stones that he used to build his version of the Temple.[1]

The Temple Mount

Since the destruction in 70 AD, the site has at one time had a Roman temple to Jupiter on it and now has two Muslim mosques; at present Jews cannot go onto the temple mount. Jews have always prayed to God to allow the rebuilding of the temple; an Orthodox Jew is expected to pray for this three times a day. There is no current likelihood of this happening, and the secular majority in Israel would be opposed because of the horrendous political repercussions, yet there is a group in Israel who have created the vessels and implements that would be needed to conduct the temple sacrifices. Christian biblical literalists, on the basis of Matthew 24 and Revelation, expect that the temple will be rebuilt before the last seven years of this current age. They also expect a third temple to be built in the age of the Messianic kingdom; this temple is described by the prophet Ezekiel but unlike the Genesis account, the passage in Ezekiel might be symbolic. Otherwise it will require a change in the shape of the land to accommodate it.

Temple Gallery



  1. Gaffney, Sean. "Report: Herod's Temple Quarry Found." The Associated Press, September 24, 2007. Retrieved September 25, 2007.

Further Reading