The Temple in Jerusalem or the Holy Temple (Hebrew: בית המקדש, transliterated Bet HaMikdash) was built in ancient Jerusalem in c. 10th century BCE and subsequently rebuilt several times. It was the center of Israelite Jewish worship, primarily for the offering of sacrifices known as the korbanot. It was located on Jerusalem's Temple Mount. It was the center of ancient Judaism and has remained as a focal point for Jewish services over the millennia.
According to the Hebrew Bible, the Temple was built by Solomon. It replaced the Tabernacle of Moses.
A drawing of Ezekiel's Visionary Temple from the Book of Ezekiel 40-47
The English language word Temple is derived from the Latin word for place of worship, templum. The name given in Scripture for the building was Beit Adonai or "House of God" (although this name was also often used for other temples, or metaphorically). Because of the prohibition against pronouncing the holy name, the common Hebrew name for the Temple is Beit HaMikdash or "The Holy House", and only the Temple in Jerusalem is referred to by this name.
First and Second Temples
A model of Herod's(2nd) Temple at the Holyland Hotel in Jerusalem.
As many as five distinct temples stood in succession on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem:
King David's Altar was the first construction on the site of the temple. Second Samuel 24:18-24 only describes a sacrificial altar on the temple site, but it is possible that some preliminary version of a temple was already functioning at the time of David's death, before Solomon's construction began.
Solomon's Temple, was built in approximately the 10th century BCE to replace the Tabernacle. It was destroyed by the Babylonians under Nebuchadnezzar in 586 BCE.
The Second Temple was built after the return from the Babylonian Captivity, around 536 BCE (completed on March 12, 515 BCE). This Temple was desecrated by the Roman general Pompey, when he entered it after taking Jerusalem in 63 BCE. According to Josephus, Pompey did not remove anything from the temple or its treasury.
Herod's Temple was a massive rebuilding of the Second Temple including turning the entire Temple Mount into a giant square platform. Herod the Great began his expansion project around 19 BCE, dismantling the Second Temple in order to build a larger, grander version. Herod's Temple was destroyed by Roman troops under general Titus in 70 CE.
During the Bar Kochba revolt in the c.135 CE, and during the early part of the Sassanid Persian occupation of most of the Byzantine empire from 610 to 620 the Kohanim priesthood began anew the temple service, including animal sacrifice, and small buildings were erected. However, these two temples are hypothetical, and their existence is contested.
By custom, Herod's Temple is not called the "Third Temple" because the Kohanim priesthood kept the animal sacrifices and other ceremonials (korbanot) going without interruption during the entire reconstruction project.
While Herod's temple itself was subsequently destroyed, the mammoth Temple Mount platform complex still exists and currently supports the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa mosques.
Destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem, by Francesco Hayez
Ever since its destruction in 70 CE, Jews have prayed that God will allow for the rebuilding of the Temple. This prayer is a formal part of the thrice daily Jewish prayer services.
Not all rabbis agree on what would happen in a rebuilt Temple. It has traditionally been assumed that some sort of animal sacrifices would be reinstituted, in accord with the rules in Leviticus and the Talmud. However there are some modern opinions, that sacrifices would not take place in a rebuilt Temple. Sometimes these opinions are mistakenly based on the scholar Maimonides's book "A Guide for The Perplexed", where he states "that God deliberately has moved Jews away from sacrifices towards prayer, as prayer is a higher form of worship". However, this must be understood as purely a philosophical idea, in light of the fact that he not only clearly states in his book "The Mishnah Torah" that animal sacrifices will take place in the third temple, but also goes into great detail explaining how they will be carried out.
Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, the first chief rabbi of the Jewish community in pre-state Israel, holds that animal sacrifices will not be reinstituted. However, this is a view not shared by most Haredi rabbis. Rav Kook's views on the Temple service are sometimes misconstrued. A superficial reading of a passage in Olat Ri'iah indicates that only grain offerings will be offered in the reinstated Temple service. To properly understand Rav Kook's position on the matter, it is necessary to read a related essay from Otzarot Hari'iah.
A few, very small, Jewish groups support constructing a Third Temple today, but most Jews oppose this, for a variety of reasons. Most religious Jews feel that the Temple should only be rebuilt in the messianic era, and that it would be presumptuous of people to force God's hand, as it were. Furthermore, there are many ritual impurity constraints that are difficult to resolve, making the building's construction a practical impossibility.
Additionally, many Jews are against rebuilding the Temple due to the enormously hostile reaction from Muslims that would likely result— even were the building to be complementary to those holy to Islam currently present on the Temple Mount site, there would be high suspicion that such a building project would ultimately end with the destruction of these and the rebuilding of the Temple on its original spot.
Rebuilding the Third Temple
The question surrounding the status of The Third Temple is compounded by much mystery, uncertainty, controversy, and debate, but it does have roots in Hebrew Biblical texts and in both Judaic scholarship and the traditional Jewish prayers.
Orthodox Judaism believes and expects that the Temple will be rebuilt and that the sacrificial services, known as the korbanot will once again be practiced with the rebuilding of a Third Temple. The article on korbanot outlines many of the references. See the section about prayers calling for the restoration of the Temple.
Conservative Judaism has modified the prayers; their prayerbooks call for the restoration of Temple, but do not ask for resumption of animal sacrifices. Most of the passages relating to sacrifices are replaced with the Talmudic teaching that deeds of loving-kindness now atone for sin. In the central prayer, the Amidah, the Hebrew phrase na'ase ve'nakriv (we will present and sacrifice) is modified to read to asu ve'hikrivu (they presented and sacrificed), implying that animal sacrifices are a thing of the past. The petition to accept the "fire offerings of Israel" is removed.
Reform Judaism call neither for the resumption of sacrifices nor the rebuilding of the Temple.
Julian's Roman "Third Temple"
There was an aborted project by the Roman emperor Julian (361-363) to allow the Jews to build a "Third Temple", part of Julian's empire-wide program of restoring/strengthening local religious cults. There is reason to believe that Julian wanted the rebuilt "Third Temple" to be for the purpose of his own apotheosis, rather than the worship of the Jewish God. Rabbi Hilkiyah, one of the leading rabbis of the time, spurned Julian's money, arguing that gentiles should play no part in the rebuilding of the temple. .
According to the Gospels, Jesus came with his followers to Jerusalem during the Passover festival, and created a disturbance in the Temple by overturning the tables of the moneychangers and driving them out.
The dominant view within Protestant Christianity is that animal sacrifices within the Temple were a foreshadowing of the sacrifice Jesus made for the sins of the world, through his death. As such they believe there is no longer a need for the physical temple and its rituals.
Those Protestants who do believe in the importance of a future rebuilt temple (viz.,some dispensationalists) hold that the importance of the sacrificial system shifts to a Memorial of the Cross, given the text of Ezekiel Chapters 39 and following (in addition to Millennial references to the Temple in other OT passages); since Ezekiel explains at length the construction and nature of the Millennial temple, in which Jews will once again hold the priesthood; some others perhaps hold that it was not completely eliminated with Jesus' sacrifice for sin, but is a ceremonial object lesson for confession and forgiveness (somewhat like water baptism and Communion are today); and that such animal sacrifices would still be appropriate for ritual cleansing and for acts of celebration and thanksgiving toward God. Some dispensationalists believe this will be the case with the Second Coming of Christ when Jesus reigns over earth from the city of Jerusalem.
It should be noted, however, that the book of Daniel states that the end of the world will occur shortly after sacrifices are ended in the newly rebuilt temple. (Daniel 12:11)
However, in contrast to both the dominant Protestant view and the view of many dispensationalists just mentioned, many evangelicals (especially those who call themselves Messianic) believe that there will be a full restoration of the sacrificial system in Ezekiel's temple and that it will be more than just a memorial of the cross. These sacrifices, according to this Messianic view, will be just as expiatory as those under the Mosaic Law. According to that view, while the so-called Antichrist will put an end to the sacrificial system during the Tribulation (Dan. 9:27, 11:31, 12:11), the arrival of the true Messiah will inaugurate the building of Ezekiel's Temple (see Ezekiel 40-44). This view holds that the Prince of Israel (the human descendant of David who will rule in the Kingdom) will provide the regular sacrifices (Ezek. 45:17), including sin offerings for himself and the people (Ezek. 45:22). In this view the Prince of Israel is parallel in many ways to the hoped-for messiah of traditional Judaism. Also, this view (like Orthodox Judaism) looks for and encourages both the rebuilding of the Third Temple and the resumption of animal sacrifices. It sees no conflict between claiming Christ as the final sacrifice for sin and at the same time participating in animal sacrifices for sin in the temple of the Messianic Kingdom, since the sacrifice of Christ brings spiritual cleansing, while animal sacrifices have dealt and will deal only with the cleansing of the flesh. While this view shares much in common with dispensationalism, it is at its core not dispensationalist.
Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox view
The Catholic and Orthodox churches believe that the Eucharist, which they believe to be one in substance with the one self-sacrifice of Christ on the Cross, is a far superior offering when compared with the merely preparatory temple sacrifices, as explained in the Epistle to the Hebrews. They also believe that the Christian church buildings where the Eucharist is celebrated are the legitimate successors of the temple; going so far as to call their church buildings "temples". Therefore they do not attach any significance to a possible future rebuilding of the Jerusalem Temple.
Latter-Day Saint Restorationist view
Joseph Smith, Jr. believed that not only would the Temple in Jerusalem be rebuilt, but that its counter-part would be constructed in Independence, Missouri. This temple is also referred to as the temple of New Jerusalem, or Zion. Originally the temple was planned to be constructed in the 1830s, but this date was postponed. One LDS sect, Church of Christ (Temple Lot), attempted to build the temple in the late 1920s, but it was not completed due to the Great Depression.
Rebuilding the Temple today
The Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque were built on the site of the destroyed Jewish Temples several centuries after the destruction of the Jewish Temple. The Temple Mount is believed by Muslims to be the place where the prophet Mohammed ascended to heaven.
Any attempt to demolish the Muslim shrines and replace them with a Jewish temple would be dangerous in today's political and religious climate. Nevertheless, the idea of rebuilding the Temple somewhere else is impossible according to accepted Jewish legal opinion, including the preeminent Jewish legal authority, the currently reconstituted Sanhedrin.
Modern controversy over location of the Temple site
A stone (2.43×1 m) with Hebrew inscription "To the Trumpeting Place" excavated by Benjamin Mazar at the southern foot of the Temple Mount is believed to be a part of the Second Temple.
In 1999 Dr. Ernest L. Martin published a controversial book called The Temples that Jerusalem Forgot based upon the idea of Ory Mazar, son of Professor Benjamin Mazar of Hebrew University. In 1995 Dr. Martin wrote a draft report to support this theory. He wrote: "I was then under the impression that Simon the Hasmonean (along with Herod a century later) moved the Temple from the Ophel mound to the Dome of the Rock area."
However, after studying the words of Josephus concerning the Temple of Herod, which was reported to be in the same general area of the former Temples, he then read the account of Eleazar who led the final contingent of Jewish resistance to the Romans at Masada which stated that the Roman fortress was the only structure left by 73 C.E. "With this key in mind, I came to the conclusion in 1997 that all the Temples were indeed located on the Ophel mound over the area of the Gihon Spring". This theory implied that Judaism was fighting to preserve the wrong location, which in turn sparked reactions from Muslims.
The Temples that Jerusalem Forgot by Dr. Martin was made even more controversial due to the fact that he had previously spent five years engaged in excavations near the Western Wall in a joint project between Hebrew University and Ambassador College, publisher of The Plain Truth magazine edited by Herbert W. Armstrong.
There are even more controversial theories that claim that the Temple was not in Jerusalem at all, but in Jericho, somewhere in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Scotland, or South America, etc. However, none of these theories is taken seriously by the vast majority of archaeologists, historians or theologians.
Archaeological excavations have found one hundred mikvaot (ritual immersion pools) surrounding the area known as the Temple Mount or Haram as-Sharif. 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.
Important Articles on the subject of the location of the Jerusalem Temple are found in the magazine Biblical Archaeology Review, in the following issues: July/August 1983, November/December 1989, March/April 1992, July/August 1999, September/October 1999, March/April 2000, September/October 2005. Several of these articles support the theory of Professor Asher Kaufman that the Temple was located on the Temple Mount, but a bit to the north of the Dome of the Rock (which actually was "The Stone of Losses" in the days of the Second Temple).
Recent artifact controversy
On December 27, 2004, it was reported in the Toronto-based The Globe and Mail that the Israel Museum in Jerusalem concluded that the ivory pomegranate that everyone believed had 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 Civilization 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 to the priests." Some archaeologists contend that this artifact really belongs to the Late Bronze period. However, there is a school of thought that Solomon and his Temple belong in the Late Bronze period, which would make the controversy an unnecessary and spurious one.
On the site today-
Dome of the Rock
The Dome of the Rock in the center of the Temple Mount
The Dome of the Rock (Arabic: قبة الصخرة Qubbat As-Sakhrah) is a famous Islamic shrine in Jerusalem. It was built between 687 and 691 by the 9th Caliph, Abd al-Malik. It is sometimes called the Mosque of Umar (though it is not a mosque), as 2nd Caliph Umar prayed at the site after the Muslim conquest of Jerusalem in 637.
Located in what Muslims call the Noble Sanctuary — which Jews and Christians call the Temple Mount — it remains one of the best known landmarks of Jerusalem, and is sacred to all three faiths. The rock in the center of the dome is believed by Muslims to be the spot from which Muhammad ascended through the heavens to [Allah] accompanied by the angel Gabriel, where he consulted with Moses and was given the (now obligatory) Islamic prayers before returning to earth (see Isra and Mi'raj.) Though the location is not historically certain, a Qur'anic verse says that Muhammad took a night journey from a sacred mosque (probably Mecca) to the farthest mosque (al-Masjid al-Aqsa), which later came to be associated with Jerusalem, although Jerusalem itself is never mentioned in the Qur'an.
While Muslims also consider this to be the site where Abraham almost sacrificed his elder son Ishmael, the Jews and Christians believe this to have occurred on Mount Moriah (the location where Jacob saw the ladder to heaven), and to have involved Abraham's younger son Isaac, rather than Ishmael. Other, extra-Biblical Jewish traditions say it is the spot where the first stone was laid in the building of the world.
The Dome of the Rock was built for Caliph Abd al-Malik by Byzantine craftsmen from Constantinople sent to the Caliph by the Byzantine Emperor. It is in the shape of a Byzantine martyrium, a structure intended for the housing and veneration of saintly relics and is an excellent example of middle Byzantine art.
Essentially unchanged for more than thirteen centuries, the octagonally-shaped Dome of the Rock remains one of the world's most beautiful and enduring architectural treasures. The gold covered dome stretches 20 metres across the Noble Rock, rising to an apex more than 35 metres above it. The Qur'anic surah, or chapter, 'Ya Sin' is inscribed across the top in the dazzling tile work commissioned in the 16th century by Suleiman the Magnificent. The sura al-Isra'a (The Night Journey), is inscribed above YaSin. In 1993, the golden dome covering was replaced, courtesy of King Hussein of Jordan, due to rust and wear.
During the Crusades, the Knights Templar, who believe the Dome of the Rock to be near the ruins of the Temple of Solomon, made their headquarters in the Al-Aqsa Mosque adjacent to the Dome for much of the 12th century. They called it the "Templum Domini", and it was the location from which they took their name "Templar". It appeared in some of the seals of the Order's Grand Masters (such as Evrard de Barres and Regnaud de Vichier), and its architecture was a model for Templar churches across Europe.
The Temple Mount and Eretz Yisrael Faithful Movement wish to relocate the Dome to Mecca and replace it with a Third Temple. Since the Dome is on sacred ground to the Muslims this is highly unlikely. The majority of Israelis also do not share the movement's wishes. Most religious Jews feel that the Temple should only be rebuilt in the messianic era, and that it would be presumptuous of people to force God's hand. However, some Christians would consider this a prequisite to Armageddon and the Second Coming.