Temples: the Temple in Jerusalem

In I Chronicles 22:8-10, David’s shedding of blood disallows him from building the Temple, which is unusual in Ancient Near Eastern cultures: conquering kings typically built temples in honor of their patron god(s) who they believed granted them victory.  Instead, David’s son Solomon (meaning ‘his peace’) got to build the Temple, completing it in the 960’s BC.  From this point on, the Ark of the Covenant was kept in the innermost court, the holy of holies, and the presence of God was understood to be most truly located there; even the High Priest after much preparation could only enter this room once a year for the annual atonement sacrifice.

In 586 BC the Babylonian Empire conquered Judah and destroyed the Temple, initiating the 70-year exile of God’s people.  When the Persian Empire conquered the Babylonians in 540, Jews were allowed to return and rebuild the Temple.  It wasn’t finished until 516 BC, exactly 70 years after the first Temple’s destruction.  Though God’s visible presence did not return to the Second Temple, the sacrificial worship system was recommenced through the encouragement of Ezra the Priest and Governor Nehemiah.

In the 168 BC this Temple, too, was desecrated with idols to Zeus and ungodly sacrifices by Selucid forces under Antiochus Epiphanes, as reported in I Maccabees 1 (matching the prophesy in Daniel 9 about “the abomination that makes desolate”).  The Temple was reclaimed in 164 BC by the Hasmonean army under Judas Maccabeas, and repaired and rededicated.  It underwent renovations throughout most of the New Testament era, and was completed in 64 AD.  Two years later, the First Jewish-Roman war erupted, and in 70 AD, Roman Emperor Titus defeated the Jewish rebels, proceeded (once again) to desecrate the Temple, and then utterly destroy it.  It has never been rebuilt since.

Outer layer: outer courts
Middle layer: the holy place
Inner layer: the holy of holies

About Fr. Brench

I'm an Anglican Priest and a sci-fi geek. Therefore, I write about liturgy & spiritual formation, theology & biblical studies, and Doctor Who. But I keep those blogs separate so I don't confuse too many people!
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