[CF Devotionals] 2004-10-23 - The Temple

Haggai, Part 20

Sadly, Solomon's Temple "was destroyed when the Babylonians burned Jerusalem in 587 BC"

Zerubbabel's Temple: We have looked at the beginning of this temple in detail over the last few weeks. Let me reiterate the NIV Dictionary definition of the Temple:

The return from Babylonian exile (in 538 B.C.), made possible by the decree of Cyrus, was a small and unpromising one. The returnees were few in number, and their resources were so meager as to need frequent strengthening from the Jews who remained in Babylon. The temple they built is a good example of this. When the foundation was laid, the old men, who had seen the "first house" (Solomon's temple), wept for sorrow (Hag 2:3), but the young men, who had been born in exile, shouted for joy (Ezra 3:12). The Holy Place of the new temple seems to have had a curtain at its front. It had one lampstand, a golden altar of incense, and a table for the Bread of the Presence. Another curtain separated the Hek-hal from the Most Holy Place. According to Josephus, the Most Holy Place was empty. Evidently the ark had been destroyed in 587 B.C. and was never replaced. A single slab of stone marked its place. The Babylonian Talmud asserts that five things were lacking in the new temple: the ark, the sacred fire, the Shekinah, the Holy Spirit, and the Urim and Thummim.

Over time the temple was desecrated, then restored, and eventually became more of a fortress rather than a temple. The most familiar desecration was under Antiochus IV Epiphanes in 168 BC when he sacrificed a sow on the altar. This led to the Maccbean revolt.

And so Zerubbable's temple existed up until the time of ...

Herod's Temple: It was this structure that Herod was left with and felt the need to rebuild. Here is how the Stigers explains it.

"Zerubbabel's Temple had assumed the proportions of a fortress. Though the building was highly regarded by the Jews, yet this fortress character rendered it subject to criticism in Herod's opinion and therefore rebuilding was necessary. His principal and ostensible reason was presented in a speech to the people, saying that the Temple did not measure up to its former glory, specifically noting that it lacked some sixty cubits of height from that of pre-exilic times …. This obviously referred to the height of the porch (2 Chron 3:4) as 120 cubits …, and Zerubbabel's Temple was only 60 cubits high by order of Darius (Ezra 6:3). The actual reason, given before Josephus recorded Herod's speech, is that the rebuilding was to provide among the Jews an eternal remembrance of his name. Yet the Jews were fearful that, once started, it would be not completed because of a lack of adequate funds. To allay their fears, Herod assured the people that all materials required for completion would be made ready beforehand. By way of further assurance that on unacceptable persons would enter upon the premises, for the building would be in use meantime, he trained some priests as masons, others as carpenters, and the work commenced."

The work on this temple began around 20/19 BC. This, the last of the temples was destroyed in 70 AD during the siege of Jerusalem under Titus, son of Vespasian.

To be continued.

Comments or Questions?

[email geoff] GKragen@aol.com