The Temples in Jerusalem

The Temples in Jerusalem

The Temples in Jerusalem

The Temples in Jerusalem

Excerpt

There were three temples in Jerusalem, although for many years the Jews preferred to look upon the third as a remodeled and enlarged edition of the second. The first was the Temple of Solomon, erected during the early years of the millennium before the Christian era and destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 B.C. The second was the Temple of Zerubbabel, erected after the return from the captivity, according to the plans set forth in the vision of Ezekiel. It was dedicated in 516 B.C., and continued in existence until it was supplanted by the third Temple or the Temple of Herod. The third and last of the temples in Jerusalem was by all odds the most elaborate and pretentious of them all. The Holy House was dedicated in 16 B.C., but the various temple courts were not completed until 64 A.D. This Temple of Herod, erected by a tyrant who hated the Jews and was hated by them, was completely demolished by the Romans under Titus in 70 A.D.

We do not know how any of these temples looked. No pictures or drawings have come from the years when they were in existence to show us their likeness, and there are no ruins above the foundations to guide the archaeologist in reconstructing what once had been the glory of Israel. Their historicity, however, is beyond dispute. They were the creation of a race of people who had no genius for architecture or for elaborate building enterprises. Nevertheless, more is known about them than about any of the other temples of antiquity. The records of their construction, the descriptions of their appearance, and the accounts of the services of worship for which they provided the setting are more complete than for any other temple in the ancient world. All life in Judaea centered about the Temple in Jerusalem. It was the priceless possession of Judah. More than anything else it, or the sacred memory of it, prevented the Jews from being absorbed by their conquerors. They were incorporated successively in all the great empires about the Mediterranean, but, except for the eleven tribes of the Northern Kingdom, they retained their identity and they held tenaciously to their faith.

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