(Chapter X)


There had been no building of a ‘Temple’ amongst the Israelites before King Solomon. Actually there was no place for a fixed building of a temple in the nomadic life of the people. The ‘Tabernacle’ (a tent of specific dimensions) served as the ‘Temple’ and the ‘Ark of the Covenant’[1] was placed therein. The lack of a shrine of Yahweh became disagreeable when David (ca. 1010-970 BC) had consolidated his power and built a permanent palace for himself. The King said, ‘I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells in a tent’ (2 Sa. 7:2). He collected materials, gathered treasure and bought the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite as the site (1 Ch. 22: 8; 2 Sa. 24: 18-25).[2] His son, Solomon (who reigned ca. 970-930 BCover the United Monarchy of Israel) began the actual construction in his 4th year, and the Temple was completed 7 years later (ca. 960 BC; but, according to Smith’s BD, p. 679, ca. 1005 BC, which is quite improbable). Itstreasures were emptied by the kings of Judah several times to pay tribute or to buy alliances (2 K 12:18; 16:8; 18:15). Josiah (king of Judah ca. 640-609 BC) ordered the repair of the Temple. The high priest, Hilkiah, discovered the book of law during the repairs commissioned by Josiah (ca. 622 BC). There is general agreement that it was the original form of the book of Deuteronomy of the Pentateuch (Torah). Josiah undertook the religious reforms that were based on the ‘Torah’ discovered in the Temple by Hilkiah (2 K 22: 8ff). The Temple of Solomon was destroyed and the Israelites of Jerusalem were taken as exiles by the Babylonian emperor, Nebuchadnezzar, in 587-6 BC at the time of his conquest of Jerusalem. The Solomon’s Temple had not been there on earth for the next almost seventy years. Cyrus of Persia defeated the Babylonian regent prince Belshazzar in 539 BC and the Babylonian empire came to an end for good. Cyrus was a just and kind ruler. He freed and permitted the Israelites to go back to and settle in Jerusalem. He allowed them to rebuild their ‘Temple’ and promised to provide them proper help for the purpose. The construction started in 537 BC. 7th Day BD explains:

But the builders encountered so much opposition from enemies in their homeland that the work soon came to a virtual stop and remained interrupted until the reign of Darius 1. In the 2nd year of his reign the prophets Haggai and Zechariah encouraged Zerubbabel, the governor, and Joshua, the high priest, to make another effort to rebuild the Temple. They responded, and with the enthusiastic support of the whole nation and the good will of the Persian officials and of the king himself, the new Temple, usually referred to as theSecond Temple [or the Temple of Zerubbabel], was completed, along with its auxiliary structures, in the period of 4½ years, from 520 to 515 B.C. (Ezr. 3:8 to 4:5; 4:24 to 6:15). (…). Antiochus IV Epiphanes desecrated the Temple in 168 erecting an altar dedicated to Jupiter Olympius in the Temple court and sacrificing swine on it. He stole the sacred furniture from the holy place and removed all Temple treasures (Jos. Ant. xii 5, 4; 1 Macc 1:21-23). However, the Temple was repaired, refurnished, and rededicated in 165 B.C., after the Maccabean forces took Jerusalem (1 Mac 4:43-59) (…). When Pompey conquered Jerusalem in 63 B.C. the Temple was spared any damage, but it was later pillaged by Crassus [in 54 BC]. It may have suffered some further damage in the conquest of Jerusalem by Herod in 37 B.C. (…). When Herod announced his intention of rebuilding a new Temple [commonly called ‘Temple of Herod’], the Jews feared he would tear down the old one and then fail to rebuild it. Consequently, Herod devised a method of reconstruction by which the old was demolished only as the new construction progressed; it appeared at the different stages as if he were doing nothing but repairing the older structures, while in reality a completely new complex of buildings was erected without interrupting the services. He first rebuilt the Temple proper. This work was begun in 20/19 B.C. and lasted 18 months. He had all building material finished to size before it was brought to the Temple area, and employed only priests to work on the inner Temple structure. After that was finished, most of the outer buildings, including the cloisters, were completed during the next 8 years, but the work of decoration and embellishment went on until the procuratorship of Albinus (A.D. 62-64), immediately before the outbreak of the Jewish war. Since building activities were still going on during Christ’s ministry, it is understandable that the Jews said the Temple had been in building for 46 years (Jn 2:20).(…). The whole Temple with all its buildings was destroyed by fire during the capture of Jerusalem by the forces of Titus in A.D. 70.(…). Although the Temple built by Herod the Great was actually a new structure, the Jews always referred to it as still theSecond Temple, considering his work no more than a repair and remodeling. Because of the Jews’ hatred for him, the orthodox Jewish writings, like the Mishnah, which gives detailed descriptions of this Temple, never mention the name of its builder. (…). The old Temple area was enlarged to twice its former size, including also the palace grounds of Solomon’s time. Archeological investigations show that the present Moslem enclosure, the Haram esh-Sherif,[3] almost exactly covers Herod’s Temple area, and large parts of the present walls rest on foundations or wall stumps of Herod’s time.  [4]

It may be appreciated here that there had been no building of the Temple for about seven centuries when the Mosque of Omar was built. According to the Jewish Enc.:

The mosque was built over a rock the traditions of which were sacred, probably the site was the same as that of the Temple which Hadrian erected to Jupiter. This in turn was on the site of Herod’s Temple.[5]

It is thus clear that for the last two millennia there does not exist any form of the Solomon’s Temple on the spot.