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Temple of Jerusalem





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Temple of Jerusalem
The only remaining part of the Temple of Jerusalem, the so-called Wailing Wall, or Western Wall.
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The only remaining part of the Temple of Jerusalem, the so-called Wailing Wall, or Western Wall. Photo: Michael Tyler.

Model of the second Temple of Jerusalem.
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Model of the second Temple of Jerusalem. Photo: James Emery.

While the term "the Temple of Jerusalem" is in singular, there have been two temples in Jerusalem. The first was erected in 10th century BCE by King Solomon, on the place where his father, King David shall have made repentance after trying to count the people of Israel, an act God punished with a plague.
David's choice of place was connected to the belief that the rock here is the centre of the world. This temple was built entirely according to patterns from Egyptian temples, and was divided into four zones, all lying on the same axis, all zones had more or less the same width and only the length varied. Outside the building, and under open sky, was the altar for fire sacrifices.
After stepping up the stairs, one entered the entrance hall. From this, one entered the holy area, where the shewbread was. From this, some stairs lead to the holiest holy area, where the Ark was, the Ark containing the Ten Commandments. The whole structure is believed to have been 70 metres long, and the width about 30 metres. The temple, the first, was destroyed in 587 BCE by the Babylonians.
The temple was rebuilt, starting in 20 BCE. This construction was somewhat larger and it was called the Temple of Herod. The whole structure of this temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE. The only part that survived was the Western Wall (which still stands, and which is often called the Wailing Wall), but this was not part of the temple itself, but a part of the surrounding walls. On the place where one believes that the temple was, now lies the Al-Aqsa mosque.
The temple of Jerusalem was the all- absorbing religious centre in Israeli religion. For Judaism it has become the central focal point, an axis mundi, a symbol of unity and the hope for justice in the future.




By Tore Kjeilen