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Beit Hamikdash refers to the Temple and the Second Temple, initially constructed in the city of Jerusalem. The first temple stood between around 10,000 B.C.E. until 586 B.C.E when the Babylonians destroyed it. The people of Jerusalem rebuilt the structure- the Second Temple- which the Romans destroyed in 70 C.E. The original Temple used to house the Ark of the Covenant and the Ten Commandments. Today, these holy relics remain lost, as they disappeared after the Temple’s first destruction.
Keep reading to learn more about the Beit Hamikdash and its fascinating history!
Here is what you can learn from this article:
- Why the Beit Hamikdash is historically and religiously significant
- The History of the Beit Hamikdash
- Religious buildings that stand today in place of the Beit Hamikdash
Why the Beit Hamikdash Is Historically and Religiously Significant
King Solomon is well known for commissioning the construction of the first Temple in Jerusalem. He wanted a permanent home for the Ark of the Covenant- an elaborately decorated chest that held the Ten Commandments. According to the Bible, God commanded the Israelites to construct the ark to hold the sacred tablets. The bible also tells stories of the ark having special powers. In one case, while priests carried the ark over the Jordan River, the river stopped flowing. As the keeper of the Ark of the Covenant, which in itself was the keeper of the Ten Commandments, the Temple was a sacred place to worship because it housed two holy relics. Today, the original Temple plays a crucial part in the search for the Ark of the Covenant.
During construction, King Solomon wanted to make the Temple elaborate. He spent lots of money because he dedicated the Temple to God. Therefore, it should be a special place. The Temple was about 50 feet tall, and the ceiling was about 180 feet long and 90 feet wide. Additionally, Solomon hired almost 30,000 workers to help with the Temple’s creation.
The Second Temple was not too different than the original. After the destruction of the first Temple, the Israelites constructed a second one with the same magnificent style. However, historians say that the descriptions of the Second Temple from primary sources are not very reliable. They believe that the authors who wrote the historical reports inscribed them with a bit of bias. Overall, the two Temples, or the Beit Hamikdash, continue to have a lasting impression on historians, the religious, and admirers of ancient architecture.
The History of the Beit Hamikdash
The idea of erecting a temple came from King David, the father of Solomon. He desired to construct a temple on his conquered land. However, according to the bible, God did not allow David to carry out his aspiration due to his sins. As a result, Solomon felt the duty of constructing the temple his father planned on creating.
Many people do not understand how Solomon chose the location of the Temple. Some believe he liked the site because it is the supposed site where Abraham brought Isaac, his son, as a sacrifice to demonstrate his faithfulness to God.
Once the Israelites finished the construction of the beautifully designed temple, worship there commenced. Solomon invited everyone, including non-Jews, to come and experience the Temple in Jerusalem. People believed it was the home of God, and by going to worship there, they would be entering the house of God. However, this belief ultimately developed into the idea that God is ubiquitous. But the Temple remained the primary place for worship.
The Babylonians destroyed the Temple during their attack on Jerusalem in 586 B.C.E. As a result of this attack, the Babylonians exiled the Israelites from their home. They later returned after the events of Purim.
Purim is the Jewish holiday which celebrates the Jewish victory over Persian persecution. Shortly after the Babylonian conquest of Israel, the Babylonian empire fell and thus arose the Persian empire. The prime minister of Persia planned to wipe out the entire Jewish population in a single day. However, through faith and the mysterious power of God, the Jews defeated Persian persecution. Once this event occurred, many Jews returned to Israel.
Upon their arrival, they built the Second Temple in the same location as the first. In 512 B.C.E, the Jews dedicated the temple, and by 20 B.C.E, they finished the lavish updates.
The demise of the Second Temple began when the Romans took over Israel in 63 B.C.E. By 66 C.E, Jews decided to lead a revolution against their Roman oppressors- known as the Great Revolt. Unfortunately, these actions lead to the Second Temple’s destruction in 70 C.E.
Many people today revere the Beit Hamikdash, the two temples constructed in Jerusalem. From the historical descriptions, many artists create renditions of the temples’ appearances. The unfortunate truth is that we may never officially know what the Beit Hamikdash looked like.
Religious Buildings That Stand Today in Place of the Beit Hamikdash
A huge reason why we may never discover the actual appearance of the Beit Hamikdash is due to the buildings currently located on the original site. Many years after the Roman occupation of Israel, Muslims took over the land. They have a history of building mosques on top of the original owners’ holy sites. On top of the presumed site of the Beit Hamikdash sits Dome of the Rock and Al- Aksa Mosque. Any archaeological studies to find more information about the Beit Hamikdash would be considered disrespectful. Therefore, more conclusive information about the two temples- including the location of the Ark of the Covenant- remains a mystery.
As a result of the elimination of the holy temples, many Jews pray for its restoration. On the ninth day of the Hebrew month of Aviv, some Jews remember the Beit Hamikdash and hope for its rebuilding.
The Beit Hamikdash has a long history with the Jewish people and Jerusalem. Some wish for its reconstruction, others wonder about the mysteries that surround the two temples, especially the vanishing of the Ark of the Covenant.
Meta Description: The Beit Hamikdash possesses an intriguing history that spans tens of thousands of years. There is so much to discover about these holy sites, yet there is still a lot we do not know.