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Did Josephus question the date of the destruction of the First or Second Temple?

Did Josephus question the date of the destruction of the First or Second Temple?

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In Flavius Josephus's War of the Jews, in Book 6, Chapter 4, he described the day that the Second Temple burned. He then consoles himself by saying that all good things must come to an end, but then he makes a puzzling statement:

However, one cannot but wonder at the accuracy of this period thereto relating; for the same month and day were now observed, as I said before, wherein the holy house was burnt formerly by the Babylonians.

Now, in the Bible, it records the Babylonians entering Jerusalem and burning Solomon's Temple as being on the 7th or 10th (depending on the book) of the month of Av, and the Talmudic tradition says that it was destroyed on the 9th of that month. So Josephus seems to be saying that the Second Temple was indeed destroyed on the 9th of Av. So then, what does he mean by the quote above? Is he saying he doubts that the Second Temple was destroyed then (he wasn't there to record it?) or does he doubt that the First Temple was destroyed then (and there just so happened to already be a tradition it was)? Or was it an idle statement about what other people might think?

The bible have contains two almost exact copies of the same text, one in 2 Kings 25 and one in Jeremiah 52. One of the differences is that Jeremiah says that commander Nebuzaradan arrived on the 10th day of the fifth month, and 2 Kings say he arrived on the 7th day.

Neither gives an exact date for the destruction of the temple, they just say that he " He set fire to the temple of the Lord, the royal palace and all the houses of Jerusalem." The next date mentioned (only in 2 Kings) is "The seventh month", so presumably the destruction of the temple happened before that.

So for all we know the destruction of the temple could have happened any time between the 7th of Av and up to two months later.

However, Josephus refers to the date of Jeremiah, and says that the first temple was destroyed the 10th. And he also says that the second temple was destroyed the tenth. (Not the 9th as later tradition has it).

In the quote you show he does reflect on this coincidence, and clearly wonders if it is true. So, what is he actually sceptical about?

Does he doubt the claim that the first temple was destroyed the 10th? This is possible. He might after all be aware that another text claims the 7th.

Does he doubt the claim that the second temple was destroyed the 10th? Wasn't he an eye-witness? Well, yes, he was, and he was Titus translator, and should have remained by his side. And this is what he says about the destruction:

So Titus retired into the tower of Antonia, and resolved to storm the temple the next day, early in the morning, with his whole army, and to encamp round about the holy house. But as for that house, God had, for certain, long ago doomed it to the fire; and now that fatal day was come, according to the revolution of ages; it was the tenth day of the month Lous, [Ab,] upon which it was formerly burnt by the king of Babylon; although these flames took their rise from the Jews themselves, and were occasioned by them

What he is saying is that the Romans did not destroy the temple. The Jews themselves did. Your quote above seems to say that the date was not a coincidence, and that maybe they decided to burn it down partly because it was the same day as the previous destruction.

Josephus is painting a very positive portrait of Titus, claiming that he offers to save the temple and let the Jews continue to worship there as before. If this is true of just Josephus doing what he is paid to do as propaganda I don't know. But your quote seems to me to be a part of that: Josephus making it completely clear that the Romans in no way is to blame for the destruction of the temple.

The Jewish Temples: Jerusalem in the First Temple Period

Saul, the first king of Israel, was killed in battle against the Philistines, and David was chosen as his successor. One of David's first acts as king was the conquest of Jerusalem. He named it the "City of David" and declared it the capital of his kingdom. The choice of Jerusalem despite its numerous shortcomings - remoteness from trade routes, chronic water shortage, unsuitable strategic location - was apparently dictated by a geopolitical constraint. The city is situated at the center of the three great territorial blocs that were allotted to the twelve tribes of Israel, and it borders on the territory of the Tribe of Benjamin - to which King Saul had belonged - and on that of Judah, King David's tribe.

Thus the isolated Jebusite city, considered neutral in terms of the tribal division of territory, was acceptable to the whole nation.

Beginning in the period of David's kingdom many traditions concerning Mount Moriah, which rose above biblical Jerusalem, became sanctified. The most famous is the Binding of Isaac (the "akeidah") by Abraham, the father of the Hebrew nation.

Having conquered Jerusalem ca. 1004 BCE and turned it into the center of government, David radically altered its status when he brought the Ark of the Covenant to the city. With this act Jerusalem became simultaneously the political and the spiritual nexus of the people of Israel.

David built an altar on the summit of Mount Moriah, but for various reasons refrained from building the Temple, leaving that task to his son Solomon.

The building of the Temple in Jerusalem brought into being a new religious reality for the people of Israel: sacrifices could now be offered only at the Temple, and the biblical injunction of the three pilgrimages - Passover, Shavuot and Sukkot - received concrete affirmation. With ritual worship concentrated in Jerusalem, the city's population was swollen enormously at fixed times each year, despite its pronounced geographic remoteness. However, its drawbacks notwithstanding, the huge population influx during the annual pilgrimage periods made Jerusalem an important trade and commercial center.

Jerusalem served as the capital of a united kingdom for only two generations. Already during the reign of King Rehoboam, Solomon's son, the kingdom was split into two: Judah in the south with Jerusalem as its capital, and Israel in the north with different capitals at different times.

When the northern Kingdom of Israel was conquered and laid waste by the Assyrians, in 722 BCE, Jerusalem reassumed its paramount status

It was in Jerusalem that most of the great prophets were active, articulating spiritual and ethical principles that would transcend the city's narrow confines to become pillars of human civilization. In the year 701 BCE, during the reign of King Hezekiah, Jerusalem was delivered from a siege laid by King Sennacherib of Assyria, an episode in which moral support by the prophet Isaiah was crucial. Hezekiah expanded the city and initiated major building projects, and under him the city reached the zenith of its development in the First Temple period.

In 586 BCE the city was captured by the Babylonians. At the order of King Nebuchadnezzar, Jerusalem was put to the torch, the Temple was razed, and the people were taken into exile. A small number returned 50 years later.

Sources: The Jerusalem Mosaic. Copyright 1995 Hebrew University of Jerusalem -- All Rights Reserved.

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The Temple of Solomon was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar in 586 B.C. (II Kings xxv. 9). It is usually supposed that its sacred site was desolate and unused for fifty years, until the accession of Cyrus made the rebuilding of the Temple possible. This view is shown by Jer. xli. 5 to be mistaken for two months after the city was destroyed a company of men from Samaria, Shechem, and Shiloh came to keep the Feast of Ingathering at Jerusalem. It is true that Giesebrecht (ad loc.) argues that the men were bound for Mizpah and not for Jerusalem but if that be so the whole narrative is meaningless. No reason is known why at this date men from a distance should go to Mizpah to worship. More probably they were on their way to Jerusalem, when the messenger from Mizpah enticed them into that town. It is probable, therefore, that, though the building was in ruins, the site of the Temple was used by the poor Hebrews resident in Palestine as a place of worship all through the Exile.

With the accession of Cyrus in 538 it became possible—that monarch replacing the old Assyro-Babylonian policy of transportation by a policy of toleration—for the Jews to resuscitate their religious institutions. The Chronicler, who wrote much of the Book of Ezra, represents Cyrus as issuing a decree for the rebuilding of the Temple at Jerusalem but this assertion is of doubtful authority. The Aramaic document in Ezra relates that the sacred vessels which Nebuchadnezzar had carried away were delivered to Sheshbazzar with authority to take them back and rebuild the Temple (Ezra v. 14, 15). It states also that Sheshbazzar "laid the foundations of the house," but it is doubtful if any building was then done, as the house remained unbuilt in the time of Haggai, twenty years later. The Chronicler (Ezra iii. 1) declares that Zerubbabel (whom he puts in place of Sheshbazzar, thus placing him twenty years too early) "builded the altar of the God of Israel, to offer burnt offerings thereon" but as Haggai (ii. 14) declared that all which was offered here was unclean, it is altogether probable that the altar was the same that had been used throughout the Exile, and that the Chronicler's statement is a mistake.

In the second year of the reign of Darius Hystaspes (519) the real rebuilding began. The people were aroused to the effort by the preaching of Haggai and Zechariah and in the course of three years the rebuilding was accomplished. It is now generally recognized that the representation in the Book of Ezra, that the work was begun immediately upon the accession of Cyrus and was then interrupted by opposition from Israel's neighbors, is unhistorical.

Of the dimensions of this Temple there are given but few data. Hecatæus, a Greek writer contemporary with Alexander the Great, is quoted by Josephus ("Contra Ap." i. 22) as saying that the Temple area was enclosed by a wall a plethra, or 500 Greek feet, in length and 100 Greek cubits in breadth, i.e., 485½ × 145½ English feet. The altar was built of unhewn stones in conformity with the precepts of the Law (comp. I Macc. iv. 44 et seq.). The dimensions of the building were probably the same as those of Solomon's Temple, though the edifice was apparently at first lacking in ornament. It was probably because the building was less ornate that the old men who had seen the former Temple wept at the sight of its successor (Ezra iii. 12 Josephus, "Ant." xi. 4, § 2). Nehemiah in rebuilding the city wall followed the lines of the former wall, and it is altogether likely that the old lines were followed in building the walls of the Temple also. The statement in Ezra vi. 3 that Cyrus gave permission to make the Temple 60 cubits high and 60 cubits broad has probably no connection with its actual dimensions: how the statement arose can now be only conjectured. The authorities for this period make no mention of the palace of Solomon. If the wall of the Temple was at this period less than 500 feet long, the whole Temple court occupied but about one-third the length of the present Ḥaram area, and less than half its width (comp. Baedeker, "Palestine and Syria," ed. 1898, p. 39). It is probable that the site of Solomon's palace either lay desolate or was covered by other dwellings.

The Temple was surrounded by two courts (I Macc. i. 22, iv. 48) but until the time of Alexander Jannæus (104-79 B.C. ) it would seem that these were separated by a difference of elevation only. That ruler surrounded the inner court with a wall of wood because the Pharisees, with whom he was unpopular, had pelted him with citrons while officiating at the altar at the Feast of Tabernacles (comp. "Ant." xiii. 13, § 5). The inner court contained chambers for storing the garments of the priests (I Macc. iv. 38, 57). The stone altar of burnt offering probably occupied the site of the bronze altar in Solomon's Temple.

The Temple, or Holy Place, seems to have had two veils or curtains at its front (ib. iv. 51). It had also one holy candlestick, a golden altar of incense, and a table of showbread (ib. i. 21, 22). Separated from the Temple by another veil was the Holy of Holies (Josephus, "B. J." v. 5, § 5). According to Josephus, this contained nothing but, according to the Mishnah (Mid. iii. 6), the "stone of foundation" stood where the Ark used to be, and the high priest put his censer on it on the Day of Atonement. According to the Babylonian Talmud (Yoma 22b), the Second Temple lacked five things which had been in Solomon's Temple, namely, the Ark, the sacred fire, the Shekinah, the Holy Spirit, and the Urim and Thummim.

In the time of Nehemiah there were two towers,named respectively Hananeel and Meah, which probably formed parts of a fortress on the site afterward occupied by the tower Antonia (comp. Neh. xii. 39, and Mitchell in "Jour. Bib. Lit." xxii. 144). The small size of the Temple area at this period makes it improbable that this fortress adjoined the Temple court. The "gate of the guard" (Neh. xii. 39) was probably an entrance into the Temple court on the north side. From the time of Zerubbabel to the time of Antiochus Epiphanes the history of this Temple was comparatively uneventful. Sirach (Ecclus.) l. 1 et seq. says that "Simon, son of Onias, the great priest," repaired the Temple and fortified it but the text of the passage is corrupt. In the year 168 Antiochus, as a part of a policy to enforce Hellenistic practises on the Jews, robbed the Temple of its candlestick, golden altar, table of showbread, and veils (these being its distinctive furniture), and compelled the high priest to sacrifice swine upon its altar. This led to the Maccabean revolt (comp. I Macc. i.), as a result of which the Jews after three years regained possession of their Temple and rededicated it. They carefully replaced the stone altar of burnt offering with stones which had not been defiled, and replaced the other characteristic articles of furniture (ib. iv. 43-56). Judas Maccabeus at this time fortified the Temple with high walls and towers (ib. iv. 60, vi. 7) so that thenceforth the Temple was the real citadel of Jerusalem. These walls were pulled down by Antiochus V. (ib. vi. 62), but were restored by Jonathan Maccabeus ("Ant." xiii. 5, § 11). The fortifications were afterward strengthened by Simon (I Macc. xiii. 52). At the time of the rededication, in the year 165, the front of the Temple was decorated with gilded crowns and shields (ib. iv. 57).

At some time during the ascendency of the Hasmonean dynasty a bridge was built across the Tyropœon valley to connect the Temple with the western hill ("Ant." xiv. 4, § 2). This bridge was probably situated at the point where Robinson's arch (so called because its nature and importance were first discovered by Prof. Edward Robinson see his "Biblical Researches," ed. 1856, i. 287 et seq.) may still be seen. The nature and purpose of this bridge have been regarded as obscure problems but there can be little doubt that the structure was intended to afford easy access to the Temple from the royal palace which the Hasmoneans had built on the western hill ("Ant." xx. 8, § 11). From this palace the movements of people in the Temple courts could be seen, as Josephus records and as the Hasmoneans were high priests as well as monarchs, the purpose of the bridge is clear.

Jewish History

The destruction of the First Temple was the watershed of Jewish history. Despite their shortcomings, the Jewish people took the lessons of the destruction to heart and rebuilt their lives physically and spiritually.

The facts of the destruction are simple enough. The prophet Jeremiah had warned of impending doom for years. Judea was living with a false sense of security. They somehow felt that they would be able to rebel against the power of Babylon and sustain the rebellion. They deluded themselves that Egypt would protect them, thinking that their southern neighbor preferred to confront Babylon north of Jerusalem rather fighting them on their own borders. However, Egypt was not willing to spill one drop of Egyptian blood on behalf of Judea.

Another delusion was that somehow the Babylonians would forget about them. However, the king of Babylon was not about to let Judea slip out of his orbit. He came with his whole army to put down the rebellion – and he came with a cruelty, a vengeance and a finality. He not only wanted to teach the Jews a lesson, but knock out of the minds of anyone else that somehow you could cross the Babylonian Empire and suffer no consequences.

Nebuchadnezzar came from the north and invaded the outskirts of Judea. By the early part of the summer his army had encamped around Jerusalem. He cut off the city and systematically tightened the noose around Jerusalem. On the ninth day of the month of Tammuz the walls of the city were breached and the Babylonian army poured through.

Within a month they had destroyed all pockets of Judean resistance. Tens of thousands died in the siege, which brought on famine and pestilence, and then by sword and fire. Those who could do so fled. However, the Babylonians had anticipated that and herded escapees into giant slave camps, from where they were transported into exile in Babylon.

The Ninth of Av

At sunset at the beginning of the ninth day of the month of Av the Babylonians set fire to the Temple. The Talmud (Taanis 29a) reports that the fire began at night just after the conclusion of the Sabbath. In other words, that year the day of the ninth of Av itself took place on a Sunday. By Sunday night it was completely destroyed.

The ninth of Av became a fast day on the Jewish calendar. The Second Temple, too, would be destroyed four centuries later on the very same date, the ninth of Av. If the Jewish people did not behave like a people meant to represent God – to be a kingdom of spiritual leaders, and a holy people (Exodus 19:6) – what value was the Temple? It was only stone, bricks and mortar.

God’s protective Hand, which guides everything in history, was removed. When it was removed the Temple was but an empty shell. “If the owner of the house is no longer there then the robbers can plunder.” That is what Jews mourn over.

Authors of History, Not Just Players in History

That is the story, the history. However, to stop there is to not understand what happened.

It was not a hard and fast rule of history that the Babylonians had to triumph over Judea. Karl Marx sold Western civilization the idea that there are inflexible and inexorable rules of history, and that the individual under no circumstance could change those rules. Human beings are just pawns.

When one takes that to its logical conclusion one can justify sending 20 million people to the Gulag, as happened under the Marxists of the Soviet Union, and causing the deaths of 50-70 million Chinese, as happened in Communist China. Communism was the wave of the future what were a few hundred million lives in the cause of progress? Is has to happen. If it has to happen, then a person can say, “I am just helping it happen I am not doing it.”

The idea that there are historic forces that create these cataclysms and holocausts acquits one of all responsibility. It is not my fault. I am only taking orders. I am only doing what history says. That is what allows people to be such murderers. There is no individual guilt or responsibility. Everyone is acting under a force. The big have to devour the small. The weak have to fall before the strong. The fittest have to survive. Civilizations have to rise and fall. In effect, if we follow the logic to its illogical conclusion Western civilization is doomed.

The Torah has a very different view of history. It can be altered – and it can be changed by one person… by one act… by one people. Just as we are the ones who caused it to happen, we can be the ones to cause it to happen in the opposite direction. We are not guiltless observers caught up in irresistible forces that go by the name “history.” We are the participants. We are the players. We are the authors.

The Cardinal Sins

The Talmud lists the three behaviors the Jewish people of the time were guilty of that led to the destruction: the cardinal sins of paganism, murder and adultery.

Paganism is the lack of any allegiance to the Higher Authority. However, it need not necessarily be translated only in terms of literal idols. It is not just about Zeus and Apollo. It takes on many different forms in society: wealth, greed and all sorts of injustice. All these are the results of having no responsibility to God.

Paganism created gods in man’s image. In all the pagan mythologies the gods behaved like spoiled, rich, rotten people. They fought among themselves. They killed each other. They stole each other’s property and wives. They did terrible things because the mythology portrayed the god as man.

The Torah came to say that we are made in God’s image man has to imitate God. “And you shall walk in His ways” (Deuteronomy 28:9). “Just as He is merciful, so must you be merciful. Just as God visits the sick, you must visit the sick.”[1]

When large segments of the Jewish people succumbed to paganism they entered the long, slippery slope to all the vices of the pagan gods, which were nothing but the vices of human beings living without responsibility to the Higher Authority.

The second sin that caused the destruction of the Temple, the Talmud says, was murder. They placed little value on human life. In our time, too, life is cheap. We become immune to it. Just listen to the news. You are driving in your car and you want to hear the traffic report, but if you do not time it right the newscaster will tell you about three murders, an arson and a brutal beating in the Bronx. We have become desensitized to it.

In the Torah, human life reigns supreme. The instances when human life can be taken are extremely limited. They have to meet certain very exacting standards. In a society where human life is taken very easily it reflects just how far humanity has strayed from its purpose.

The third sin was sexual immorality. This, too, is the loss of understanding of the role of people in the world. It also demonstrates the loss of understanding of the role of the human body and of the necessity to appreciate the grandeur of inner person, not just the animalistic outer garment of who we are.

When one adds those three ills of society together, which the prophets railed against for a long time, the destruction was a natural outcome. However, it was not abstract historic forces that drove the event, but rather the behavior that drove the history. The Jewish people could have done something about it. Indeed, they did do something about it later on, and although there were other reasons ascribed to the destruction of the Second Temple it was not because of the cardinal sins.

The Torah idea is that human beings can – indeed, must – do something to improve. The lesson of the destruction of the Temple made that concept real.

Miniature Sanctuaries

Despite everything, even in the land of their enemies the Jewish people were able to realize that the Temple could be rebuilt — if not in brick and stone, then in a spiritual sense through spiritual work.

Even though the Temple was destroyed, God could find a place in their synagogues, houses of study, behavior — in their very hearts. They would be able to build a Temple of the spirit… until the time would come when God, in His own fashion, would rebuild a physical Temple.

Building a Temple of the spirit is much harder to do and a much greater accomplishment. It is much easier to build a building than what is inside the building. The modern world has some of the finest school buildings ever to exist, with all the modern accoutrements to educate the masses, but it is very hard to produce one human being. There are beautiful houses of worship all over the world that are glorious to behold, but it is hard to build a place where God is really welcomed and would want to be found, so to speak.

The Jewish people have been able to build miniature sanctuaries (Ezekiel 11:16) in different communities over the centuries in different continents. Although the physical Temple was destroyed the central idea behind it remained and took on greater meaning. It gave the Jewish people strength, courage and purpose. It spelled the difference between general history and Jewish history. No other people have sustained such a blow and not only survived to tell about it but have been able to carry on with their mission.

That is why the destruction of the First Temple has to be seen as the watershed in Jewish history. Nothing was the same afterwards. On the other hand, it created new opportunities to work on the inner dimension that had been neglected. They took the lessons to heart, rolled up their sleeves and got down to the business of self-improvement and rebuilding from the inside out.

In the final analysis, the way the Jewish people ultimately reacted to the tragedy represented a triumph of the spirit. The outer loss created inner opportunities that they took advantage of to guarantee not only their survival and continuity, but their eternity.

[1] Sifrei to Deuteronomy 11:22 see also Sotah 14a.

When was the second temple built? And How long did it take?

Cyrus the Great of the Achaemenid Empire became king in 559 BCE. And he gave permission to the rebuilding of the city of Jerusalem and the Temple. When the Jewish exiles returned to Jerusalem after the decree of the king ( Ezra 1:1–4 , 2 Chronicles 36:22–23 ), the rebuilding started. However, this was following a short break due to the opposition of Israel’s enemies who lived there during the Jewish captivity ( Ezra 4 ).

The date

The rebuilding of the second temple of Jerusalem started in c. 521 BCE under Darius I ( Ezra 5 ) and was completed in Adar 3 the – 6th regnal year of Darius I. According to our time, this would have been about March 12, 515 B.C., six weeks before the Passover. The temple was finished and also probably dedicated the same day (Ezra 6: 16–18).

The rebuilding of the Temple from the day the Jews laid its foundation stone for the second time (Kislev 24, 2d year of Darius) to its finish, had therefore taken about 4 years and 3 months. This period was about 2 years and 3 months less than it had taken King Solomon to build the first temple.

The short span for rebuilding

It took King Solomon more time to build his temple than the second temple because he had to first set a flat platform to erect the temple and its different departments. This was not an easy task.

Some of the reasons that might have contributed to the relatively brief period for the rebuilding of the second Temple were that when the Jews returned from Babylonian captivity, they might have found that big parts of the old infrastructure were still in a fairly good condition. They did not need to use costly laborious repair work on their part. Additionally, the new buildings were less lavish and fewer in number than those in Solomon’s period. It was likely much less ornamented (Ezra 3:12). Moreover, a certain amount of construction had been done since the time that the first decree by Cyrus was given.

The first temple of Solomon took more time to rebuild because it was much greater and more magnificent. We read in Ezra 3:12, that after the second temple was finished that “many of the priests and Levites and heads of the fathers’ houses, old men who had seen the first temple, wept with a loud voice when the foundation of this temple was laid before their eyes.” They wept because the second temple plans were not as great as the first temple of Solomon.

The second temple was only 50 years since the Temple of Solomon had been destroyed (586 B.C.) and 70 since the first captivity, and there were “many” older men who had seen it when they were younger, and clearly remembered its beauty and glory. They could not help crying when they saw the humble plans for rebuilding the Temple. It was a “day of small things” (Zechariah 4:10), and the new house, in comparison with the old one, seemed like “nothing” (Haggai 2:3).

The size

Concerning the size of the new Temple, the number of secondary structures, their layout, and outer design, we are without data. The Temple of Solomon, or perhaps the ideal temple of Ezekiel (Ezekiel 40–42), may have been a model for some of its sections.

The Bible tells us that this Temple, like Solomon’s, had secondary buildings from the following passages Ezra 8:29 Nehemiah 12:44 13:4, 5. In some of these auxiliary rooms, the priests and temple staff kept the Temple treasures, utensils and other valuables. Also, these rooms provided offices for the temple staff for meetings and organization. Lastly, 1 Maccabees 4:38 mentions that the Temple was surrounded by several courts.

Solomon had been able to hire the best laborers from his own nation, which reached from the border of Egypt to the Euphrates, and he also employed the skill of the neighboring nations, like that of the Tyrians. But in the second temple, Zerubbabel had to rely on his own people, the few citizens of the small province of Judea.

Josephus the Jewish historian states that the Second Temple was only half as high as Solomon’s Temple, and in many ways inferior to it (Antiquities viii. 3. 2 xv. 11. 1). However, the main difference was not in size but in splendor of appearance and rich adornments of gold and precious stones.

On The Location of theFirst and Second Temples in Jerusalem

The Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem measures today approximately 45 acres in extent. It is surrounded by a trapezoidal wall: The south wall measures about 910 feet, the North about 1025, the east wall about 1520 and the west wall about 1580 feet in length. The average height above sea level on the platform is about 2400 feet above sea level. Most of the buildings and surface features are Islamic - no visible traces of the First or Second Temples can be found on the platform today. The area is park-like in its settings with plants of trees and shrubs and many ancient buildings and monuments added over the past 1300 years of Moslem stewardship of the site.

The present-day platform area of the Temple Mount lies topographically just below the peak of a Jerusalem ridge system known as Mount Moriah. This is the site David purchased from a Jebusite named Ornan late in his reign. King David prepared the area in order build a permanent House of God to replace the Tabernacle of Moses which accompanied the Jews after their Exodus from Egypt to the Promised Land. David had the plans drawn up for a building whose dimensions were twice those of the Tabernacle, and he amassed great quantities of building materials: stone, cedar, and much gold and silver. However, it was his son Solomon who actually built the First Jewish temple (1 Chronicles 22:14-15, 28:11-20).

The ridge system where the Temple Mount is now located is believed by many reputable sources to be the site where Abraham was told to sacrifice Isaac (Genesis 22:1-2). While Solomon built the First Temple about 3000 years ago, Abraham's visit to Mt. Moriah was about a thousand years earlier.

Consecrated Ground

The long history of the First and Second Temples is detailed both in the Bible and in many extra-biblical sources. For more details on the history of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount see the separate historical essays listed on the main menu.

Both ancient Jewish Temples are of interest to Christians as well as to Jews. The Second Temple was modest in size and furnishing until Herod the Great began his grand remodeling plans which continued for 40 years. It was in this enlarged and expanded Second Jewish Temple and its grand courts where the naming and circumcision of Jesus took place (Luke 2:21-39). Later, Jesus astonished the religious leaders with his understanding and insight as a twelve-year-old boy (Luke 2:41-50). On two separate occasions Jesus entered and cleansed the temple by throwing out the money changers and commercial vendors from the courts. (John 2:12-25 Matthew 21:23-26)

In one of his final discussions with his disciples (Matthew 24), Jesus predicted the destruction of the Second Temple. It was in fact leveled to the ground on the 9th day of the month of Av in 70 C.E. The temple was thoroughly razed and the site has been so extensively modified during the late Roman, Moslem and Crusader eras that considerable doubt exists as to where the temples actually stood.

Map of the Temple Mount Today

Where did the Temple stand?

Among the numerous controversies about the Temple is the precise location of the original. There are three primary conjectures under active discussion in recent years. These three areas of interest on the Temple Mount have been the focus of intense investigation, much debate and discussion, and growing controversy. Behind many of these discussions lie serious plans by a number of Orthodox Jewish groups for the building of a Third Jewish Temple on the site when political conditions will permit this.

  1. The present site of the Dome of the Rock. This is the so-called "traditional location." There are two variations on this model.
  2. North of the Dome of the Rock. Physicist Asher Kaufman proposed the Northern location about two decades ago.
  3. South of the Dome of the Rock. Tuvia Sagiv, a Tel Aviv architect, has proposed a Southern location for the Temples with extensive documentation and research during the past five years.

Aerial Photo of the Temple Mount Today

The Traditional Site

The traditional site of the Temple is said to lie beneath or very near to the Moslem shrine known as the Dome of the Rock. Certain historical accounts say that this building was built by the Moslems to overlay the location of the original Jewish Temple(s) and most rabbis in Israel today associate the original Temple location with this site. Dr. Leen Ritmeyer has researched and written on the original 500 cubit square boundaries of the original Temple Mount site based on this assumption.

Recent journal articles still support this view. (1) Former Jerusalem District archaeologist Dr. Dan Bahat vigorously defends the traditional location - drawing on his years of experience and study of the entire city and its history. His lectures on the subject are thorough, convincing and captivating. However, so also are the alternative theories currently proposed!

Traditional Site of the Temples

The Northern Conjecture

Based on a number of topological and archaeological considerations, research by Dr. Asher Kaufman over the past two decades has resulted in serious consideration being given to a site 330 feet to the north of the Dome of the Rock.

The Mt. Moriah bedrock outcrops within the Dome of Rock, as is well known. Although the bedrock elevation drops sharply to the south in the direction of the City of David, the level of the bedrock is just beneath the paving stones for over 100 meters to the North of the Dome of the Rock shrine. One particular level outcropping of this bedrock lies under a small Islamic shrine known as "The Dome of the Tablets" or "The Dome of the Spirits," to the Arabs. Both names suggest an association with the Jewish Temples. It is under this small, unimpressive canopy supported by pillars that Dr. Kaufman locates the Temple site. (2)

The Northern Placement of the Temples

The Southern Conjecture

Many people who have been following these developments may not yet be aware of a third view, which might well be called "the Southern Conjecture." Since this model is less well known, it will be more fully described here and on these web pages. This view has been championed in the past five years by Tuvia Sagiv, a prominent Israeli architect.

There are a number of problems with each of the previously mentioned locations. To fully appreciate some of the difficulties, it is necessary to visualize the topography of the Temple Mount area.

Topographic Map of Jerusalem
(Contour interval 10 meters)

The bedrock rises when going northward from the base of the City of David to highest ground north of the Temple Mount area. (This is obscured on site since the Temple Mount Platform itself is a large flat area surrounded by retaining wall.) The southern end of the Platform is actually built up on tall underground pillars and arches.

To the east of the Temple Mount lies the Kidron Valley, and the Mount of Olives. To the south, the City of David and the Hinnom Valley. To the west, the famed Western Wall (called in earlier times the "Wailing Wall"). To the north of the Temple site was the Roman military Antonia Fortress, and then, further, the high ground outside the city walls, which many believe was the site of Golgotha. The bedrock of Mt. Moriah continues to rise to the north - outcroppings in the Northern wall reveal road cuts that have been made in the bedrock at the North end of the Old City outside the Damascus Gate and along the main road to the east. The crest of Mt. Moriah is just above the present Garden Tomb.

Critical Issues in Locating the Temple Site:
When one compiles all the known factors into a three-dimensional computer model of the Temple Mount area, several problems emerge:

1. Where was the Antonia Fortress?
Ancient Jerusalem was protected on the east, south, and west by valleys. The Antonia Fortress was located to the north to protect the weaker north side of the city. (In fact, it was from the north that Titus Vespasian breached the walls in his famous attack in 70 C.E.)

According to ancient sources, the fortress was on a hill about 25 meters high. The current El Omriah school building is on a rock only 5 meters high. From many stratigraphic and other considerations it is doubted by some experts that his was the actual location of the Antonia Fortress. Tuvia Sagiv's papers discuss the critical issue of the actual location of the Fortress Antonia, which he believes was well to the south, perhaps at the location of the Dome of the Rock.

2. The Location of the Ancient North Moat (the Fosse)
Traditional renderings show a deep, filled-in fosse (moat), north of the Temple Mount, lying south of the Antonia Fortress, between the fortress and the Temple Mount.

According to ancient sources, however, the Antonia Fortress and the Temple Mount were adjacent to each other. The moat should be to the north of the Tower for protection, placing the Antonia about where the Dome of the Rock stands today! Asher Kaufman's location of the Temples places the moat immediately to the North of the spot where the Temples stood. In fact, Dan Bahat jokes that Kaufman's temple would "fall into the moat!"

3. The Hulda Gates
The Hulda Gates were the primary access to the Temple area from the south. According to the Mishna, the difference in heights between the Hulda Gates and the Holy of the Holies was approximately 10 meters, with about 39 m between the entrance to the Temple mount and the level of the Temple itself. The traditional Dome of the Rock proposals require 20 meters and 80 m separations.

The current assumptions regarding Hulda Gate tunnels are not mentioned in the ancient sources. The discrepancies suggest a lower, and therefore, more southerly, location. Tuvia Sagiv in his essays discusses the problem of the Southern Gates and their elevation with respect to the Temples.

4. The View from the North
Josephus Flavius describes the fact that the Bizita Hill (Golgotha?) was located north of the Temple Mount and obscured the view of the Temple from the north.

If the Temple stood at the Dome of the Rock, it would be visible from as far away as the town of Ramallah. In order to obscure the view from the north, it would have to be at a lower level, that is, to the south.

5. King Herod Agrippa's View of the Temple from the West
Josephus, in The Jewish Wars , describes the fact that King Herod Agrippa could look out from his Hasmonean Palace (at or near the present Citadel at the Jaffa Gate), and view the sacrifices at the Azarah, at the altar of the Second Temple. This incensed the Jews, who then built a wall extending the height of the western rear wall of the Temple proper in order to block the view. Roman soldiers, patrolling the western threshold - thus unable to view the Azarah - demanded that the wall be demolished. The Jews objected, and even obtained the consent of Emperor Nero to leave the wall in place.

If the Temple were at the location of the Dome of the Rock, it would have required a Palace tower height of 75 meters to view into the Azarah. There never was a building of such a height in Jerusalem. This all implies a lower, more southern location of the Temple.

6. The Jerusalem Water Aqueduct from the Judean Hills
The water canals that supplied Jerusalem began in the area of the Hebron mountains, passed through the Solomon's Pools near Bethlehem, and flowed to Jerusalem. The lowest canal reached the Temple Mount through the Jewish Quarter and the Wilson Bridge. According to the ancient authorities, the water conduit supplied water to the High Priests' mikveh (ritual bath) located above the Water Gate, and it also supplied water for the rinsing of the blood off the Azarah. Portions of this aqueduct are plainly visible to this day.

"Living water," that is, fresh, flowing water, not water from a cistern, was required for the ritual bath (mikveh) used by the temple priests, and for the washings of the temple in connection with the sacrifices.

A survey of the level of the aqueduct reveals that if the Temple had been located at the same elevation as the present Dome of the Rock shrine, the aqueduct would be over 20 meters too low to serve either the Azarah or the Water Gate. From this survey, it appears that the Temple must have been 20 meters lower, and, thus, to the south.

7. Electronic Measurements
Preliminary ground penetrating radar probes by Tuvia Sagiv, while not conclusive, suggest vaults, perhaps "kippim" (rabbinical arches), and other structures which one would expect below the Temple, to the south. The northern sites are virtually solid rock.

More recently Sagiv has conducted thermal-infrared scanning of the walls and the platform. During the day the sun heats the Temple Mount uniformly, but at night the cooling (by conduction and radiation) is not uniform, thus revealing subsurface anomalies. In the images shown below, "hotter" areas are bright indicating massive foundations beneath the paving stones. The radar and IR research is discussed in Sagiv's third paper, Penetrating Insights Into the Temple Mount .

Nighttime Thermal Infrared Imagery of the Dome of the Rock

8. Research into Later Roman Temple Architecture
After the Bar Kochba revolt in 132 C.E., the Romans leveled the entire city of Jerusalem and a built a Roman city, Aelia Capitolina, on the ruins. To obliterate any Jewish presence on the Temple Mount, they built a temple to Jupiter on the site.

A similar temple, built by the same builder at about the same time, has been discovered at Baalbek, Lebanon.

The Roman architectural practices of the time featured a rectangular basilica, and a polygon structure opposite a courtyard. When this architecture is overlaid on the Temple Mount, it matches the Al Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock exactly.

This unique architectural similarity suggests that the Roman Temple to Jupiter may have been on this very site, converted for Christian purposes in the 4th Century, and then served as the foundation for the present Moslem structures, the Al Aqsa Mosque an the Dome of the Rock, which were built in the 7th Century.

The Roman Temple at Baalbek, Lebanon

Jerome's commentary on Isaiah mentions an equestrian statue of the Emperor Hadrian being placed directly over the site of the Holy of the Holies. If the Baalbek architecture is the correct model, this would place the Holy of the Holies somewhere beneath the present El Kas foundation.

When a map of the Baalbek Temple is overlaid on the present structures of the Temple Mount a striking similarity can be seen:

Baalbek Temple plan overlaid on the Temple Mount

Which Conjecture is Correct?
In Israel it is often said that if you have two Jews you will have three opinions! Only time will tell which of the above views is correct. These conjectures will continue to be debated until Israel is able to conduct a thorough archaeological investigation beneath the Temple Mount itself. (3)

Unfortunately, the Temple Mount presently remains under the supervision of the Waqf, the Supreme Moslem Council, and they have prevented any systematic archaeological studies. In fact, the Waqf has gotten increasingly resistive to investigations of any kind on the Platform - which they consider to be a huge outdoor mosque sacred to Islam.

Who knows what events developing in the history of Jerusalem will one day change the status quo, allowing scientific investigation of the entire Temple Mount, below ground as well as above? Then, according to the hopes and dreams of devout Jews for centuries, a Third Temple can be built on the foundations of the First and Second Temples and temple worship according to the Torah restored.

If Tuvia Sagiv is correct, the Temple site lies due east of the Western Wall,
under the clump of trees between the Dome of the Rock and Al Aqsa Mosque.

Addendum: Personal Notes

For more than twenty years one of us (Dolphin) has maintained an active interest in archaeology in Israel, and especially in the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

Dr. Asher Kaufman, retired Professor of Physics at the Racah Institute of Physics of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and I began corresponding in the early '80's and have been good friends ever since.

I have followed with great interest Asher's hypothesis that the First and Second Temples were located 110 meters North of the Dome Rock on the Mount. The area in question would put the Holy of Holies and the Foundation Stone under a small Islamic structure known as the Dome of the Tablets or the Dome of the Spirits. Exposed bedrock outcrops beneath this small structure.

Dr. Dan Bahat, former District Archaeologist for Jerusalem, and now Professor at Bar Ilan University, is also a good friend. His arguments, vast knowledge, and experience convince him that the First and Second Temples are located in the immediate vicinity of the Moslem Dome of the Rock. His case is also a persuasive one. Dr. Leen Ritmeyer's PhD thesis involved his research delineating the original 500 cubit square Temple Mount.

Several years ago my good friend (since 1982), Stanley Goldfoot in Jerusalem introduced me to Tuvia Sagiv, a talented and enterprising Tel Aviv architect. Tuvia has spent hundreds of hours and many thousands of dollars of his own money researching the temple locations and has now built a strong and convincing case that the Temples were immediately east of the present Western Wall, with the Holy of Holies probably located under the El Kas Fountain. This fountain lies approximately midway between the Dome of the Rock and Al Aqsa Mosque.

The bedrock drops rapidly just south of the Dome of the Rock. If Tuvia's model is correct the Temples would be lower that the outcropping bedrock under the Dome of the Rock. In fact, Tuvia's recent research suggests the Dome site may have been originally a Canaanite High Place with tombs beneath, and later (until the reforms of Josiah) the location of an Ashoreh pillar.

For further information on the political, religious and archaeological aspects of the Temple Mount in our time, we recommend the briefing package The Coming Temple by Chuck Missler, available from Koinonia House. This briefing package contains two audio cassette tapes and 22 pages of notes with 30 diagrams.

Each year for four years (1992-1995) Chuck Missler and Lambert Dolphin co-hosted an annual International Conference on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem in conjunction with Chuck Missler's tour group visit to Israel. Video and audio tapes of speakers at these outstanding meetings are also available from Koinonia House and are highly recommended.

For further information on ground penetrating radar and other modern geophysical methods useful in archaeology see Lambert Dolphin's Library .

Jeremiah 33:14-18 King James Version (KJV)

14 Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will perform that good thing which I have promised unto the house of Israel and to the house of Judah.

15 In those days, and at that time, will I cause the Branch of righteousness to grow up unto David and he shall execute judgment and righteousness in the land.

16 In those days shall Judah be saved, and Jerusalem shall dwell safely: and this is the name wherewith she shall be called, The Lord our righteousness.

17 For thus saith the Lord David shall never want a man to sit upon the throne of the house of Israel

18 Neither shall the priests the Levites want a man before me to offer burnt offerings, and to kindle meat offerings, and to do sacrifice continually.

27 And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations, he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.

“I will raise up Cyrus in my righteousness: I will make all his ways straight. He will rebuild my city and set my exiles free, but not for a price or reward, says the LORD Almighty.” (Isaiah 45:13)

The First Temple
“When your days are over and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, your own flesh and blood, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.” (2 Samuel 7:12–13)

David, the shepherd boy who fought Goliath and became King, desired to build a permanent dwelling place for God.

But because he had been a man of war and had too much blood on his hands, the task of building the First Temple was given to his son Shlomo (Solomon), whose name in Hebrew means peace.

That first Temple, built by King Solomon around 1000 BC was destroyed
by the Babylonians in 586 BC on Tisha B’av (the ninth day of the Hebrew
month of Av), and the Jews were exiled in Babylon.

As Jeremiah prophesied, the Jewish people returned to Jerusalem from captivity in Babylon (today Iraq) after 70 years.

“This is what the Lord says: ‘When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place.’” (Jeremiah 29:10)

And about 100 years earlier, Isaiah prophesied the name of the Persian King who would enable the Jewish people to return to Jerusalem, specifically to rebuild the Temple.

Isaiah 44:28:

Who says of Cyrus, ‘He is my shepherd
and will accomplish all that I please
he will say of Jerusalem, “Let it be rebuilt,”
and of the temple, “Let its foundations be laid.”’

The model of the Second Temple on the Temple Mount.
The model of the Second Temple on the Temple Mount.
The Second Temple
When the Jews returned to Jerusalem from their Babylonian captivity, they re-built the Temple, which was expanded four hundred years later by King Herod and called “The Glorious Temple.”

Today we call it the Second Temple.

But this Temple also did not stand.

In AD 70 (586 years later), on the same terrible calendar day of Tisha B’Av (the ninth day of Av) that the First Temple was destroyed, the Roman army, led by General Titus, annihilated Jerusalem, razed the Second Temple to the ground, and sent the Jewish People into exile.

For the next nineteen centuries, Jews in exile longed to return to the Promised Land and see the Temple standing once again on the Temple Mount.

Devout Jews still pray three times daily:

“May it be Thy will that the Temple be speedily rebuilt in our days.”

After such a long wait, our generation may live to see the Temple standing in Jerusalem.

The Holy of Holies (Kodesh Kodashim) was the most important room in the Temple, and housed the two tablets of the Ten Commandments inside more…

The Holy Mandate
“Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them.” (Exodus 25:8)

God has never withdrawn His command that Israel builds Him a Sanctuary.

In fact, the Prophet Haggai rebuked the people for neglecting the work of rebuilding the Lord’s house.

“Then the word of the Lord came through the prophet Haggai. ‘Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?’” (Haggai 1:3–4)

Under the leadership of Zerubbabel, the work of rebuilding the Temple began.

“So the Lord stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua son of Jozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of the whole remnant of the people. They came and began to work on the house of the Lord Almighty, their God.” (Haggai 1:14)

The Third Temple: The Preparations are Ready

Most of the preparations for the building of the Third Temple are already completed by an organization called The Temple Institute, which is located in the Jewish quarter of Jerusalem’s walled Old City.

As part of its mandate, this Orthodox Jewish organization has completed the restoration and construction of many sacred vessels necessary for use in service for the Holy Temple. These are no mere replicas or models, but authentic vessels, made from gold, copper, silver, and wood.

Included among these are gold and silver vessels used in the incense and sacrificial services of the Cohen HaGadol (High Priest) and the Levitical musical instruments.

Also completed after years of painstaking research and development is the sacred garment or ephod of the Cohen HaGadol as well as his choshen (breastplate) and the tziz zahav (golden crown).

Prophetic Significance

Scripture indicates that the Temple will be standing on its original location on the Temple Mount before the return of Yeshua (Jesus).

“Know and understand this: From the time the word goes out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven ‘sevens,’ and sixty-two ‘sevens.’ It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble.” (Daniel 9:25)

The fact that the vessels, garments, and even the building plans are already prepared has great prophetic significance for those who await the return of Messiah Yeshua.

Yeshua said that when the fig tree (a symbol for Israel) blossoms, His return
is imminent—He is right at the door.

“Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door.” (Matthew 24:32–34)

The fact that Israel was reborn as a nation in 1948 is one of the indications that this generation is an end-time generation. So, we must be very cautious as Believers.

Yeshua warned that in the very end days, there will be a Great Tribulation.

“When you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand—then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.” (Matthew 24:15-16)

What will this abomination of desolation do?

“His armed forces will rise up to desecrate the temple fortress and will abolish the daily sacrifice. Then they will set up the abomination that causes desolation.” (Daniel 11:31)

Opposition and Challenges to Rebuilding the Temple

Of course, a project of this magnitude doesn’t come without practical, religious, and political challenges and opposition.

The most obvious obstacle to the rebuilding of the Temple is that the 37-acre Temple Mount upon which it needs to be rebuilt is under Muslim control.

You may be asking yourself: If Israel liberated and regained control over all of Jerusalem during the Six Day War in 1967, then why was the holiest site for the Jews, the Temple Mount, given to the Muslims?

The answer to this question is tragic.

After such a hard-won, against-all-odds, spectacular Israeli victory, General Moshe Dayan, then Minister of Defense and a secular Jew (who did not believe that the Bible was the Word of God), met with the five leaders of the Supreme Muslim Religious Council at the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Who destroyed the Second Temple in Jerusalem?

In 66 CE the Jewish population rebelled against the Roman Empire. Four years later, on 4 August 70 CE (Tisha B’Av – 9th Day of Av) or 30 August 70 CE, Roman legions under Titus retook and destroyed much of Jerusalem and the Second Temple.

The Third Temple would be the third Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, after Solomon’s Temple and the rebuilt Second Temple. Although it remains unbuilt, the notion of and desire for a Third Temple is sacred in Judaism, particularly Orthodox Judaism, and anticipated as a place of worship

Matthew 24:42 later states: “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.”

Matthew 24:44 also reads: “So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”

Link to 1925 Waqf Temple Mount Guide noting that the First and Second Jewish Temples were located on the Temple Mount

Link to 1925 Waqf Temple Mount Guide noting that the First and Second Jewish Temples were located on the Temple Mount
For Jews, the Temple Mount is the holiest place in the world. The Jewish connection to Jerusalem and the Temple Mount originates in the biblical narrative, as it is said to be the location of the binding of Isaac.[2] The Talmud, Judaism's supreme canonical text, says that the foundation stone on the Temple Mount is the location from which the world was created.[3] In Samuel II 24:18-25, King David bought the bedrock for the Temple from Araunah the Jebusite. Subsequently, Solomon, David's son, used the bedrock to build the First Temple.[4] Solomon's Temple was eventually destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon in 586 BCE.
Link to 1925 Waqf Temple Mount Guide noting that the First and Second Jewish Temples were located on the Temple Mount
For Jews, the Temple Mount is the holiest place in the world.
Following the destruction of Jerusalem and Solomon's Temple, many Jews were sent into exile. However, under the Persian King Cyrus, the Jews were allowed to return and began to rebuild the Temple. The Second Temple was completed in 516 BCE and expanded by King Herod in 19 BCE. In 70 CE, the Roman Empire, led by Emperor Titus, laid siege to Jerusalem and destroyed the Second Temple. Jews have maintained an unbreakable connection to Jerusalem, and the Temple Mount since that time.
Today, Jews follow a number of different customs in remembrance of their fallen Temple. When Jews pray, they pray toward Jerusalem. Within the daily liturgy, there are numerous calls for the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the Temple. During the week, after meals, Jews recite a grace, which includes the recitation of Psalm 137 ("If I forget thee, O Jerusalem…").[5] At the end of a wedding ceremony, the groom breaks a glass, which signifies the Jewish people's continued mourning over the Temple's destruction. In addition, many have the custom of leaving a wall in their home unfinished in remembrance of the destruction. All of these customs play a significant part in the Jewish connection to Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, which former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert stated "represents the purist expression of all that Jews prayed for, dreamed of, cried for, and died for in the two thousand years since the destruction of the Second Temple."[6] In addition to the customs and ideology, the Jewish connection to the Land of Israel and Jerusalem is internationally recognized.[7]
Classic Islamic literature also recognizes the existence of a Jewish Temple and its importance to Judaism. This makes Palestinian Temple Denial all the more puzzling.
In Sura 17:1 of the Koran, the "Farthest Mosque" is called the al-masjid al-Aqsa. The Tafsir al-Jalalayn,[8] a well-respected Sunni exegesis of the Koran from the 15th and 16th centuries, notes that the "Farthest Mosque" is a reference to the Bayt al-Maqdis of Jerusalem.[9] In Hebrew, the Jewish Temple is often referred to as the Beyt Ha-Miqdash, nearly identical to the Arabic term. In the commentary of Abdullah Ibn Omar al-Baydawi, who authored several prominent theological works in the 13th century, the masjid is referred to as the Bayt al-Maqdis because during Muhammad's time no mosque existed in Jerusalem.[10] Koranic historian and commentator, Abu Jafar Muhammad al-Tabari, who chronicled the seventh century Muslim conquest of Jerusalem, wrote that one day when Umar finished praying, he went to the place where "the Romans buried the Temple [bayt al-maqdis] at the time of the sons of Israel."[11] In addition, eleventh century historian Muhammad Ibn Ahmad al-Maqdisi and fourteenth century Iranian religious scholar Hamdallah al-Mustawfi acknowledged that the al-Aqsa Mosque was built on top of Solomon's Temple.[12]
This is a small sample of the Islamic literature attesting to the Jewish connection to the Temple Mount. Innumerable other writings from other faiths attest to this fact, as well.
Link to 1925 Waqf Temple Mount Guide noting that the First and Second Jewish Temples were located on the Temple Mount
For Jews, the Temple Mount is the holiest place in the world.
Following the destruction of Jerusalem and Solomon's Temple, many Jews were sent into exile. However, under the Persian King Cyrus, the Jews were allowed to return and began to rebuild the Temple. The Second Temple was completed in 516 BCE and expanded by King Herod in 19 BCE. In 70 CE, the Roman Empire, led by Emperor Titus, laid siege to Jerusalem and destroyed the Second Temple. Jews have maintained an unbreakable connection to Jerusalem, and the Temple Mount since that time.
Today, Jews follow a number of different customs in remembrance of their fallen Temple. When Jews pray, they pray toward Jerusalem. Within the daily liturgy, there are numerous calls for the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the Temple. During the week, after meals, Jews recite a grace, which includes the recitation of Psalm 137 ("If I forget thee, O Jerusalem…").[5] At the end of a wedding ceremony, the groom breaks a glass, which signifies the Jewish people's continued mourning over the Temple's destruction. In addition, many have the custom of leaving a wall in their home unfinished in remembrance of the destruction. All of these customs play a significant part in the Jewish connection to Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, which former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert stated "represents the purist expression of all that Jews prayed for, dreamed of, cried for, and died for in the two thousand years since the destruction of the Second Temple."[6] In addition to the customs and ideology, the Jewish connection to the Land of Israel and Jerusalem is internationally recognized.[7]
Classic Islamic literature also recognizes the existence of a Jewish Temple and its importance to Judaism. This makes Palestinian Temple Denial all the more puzzling.
In Sura 17:1 of the Koran, the "Farthest Mosque" is called the al-masjid al-Aqsa. The Tafsir al-Jalalayn,[8] a well-respected Sunni exegesis of the Koran from the 15th and 16th centuries, notes that the "Farthest Mosque" is a reference to the Bayt al-Maqdis of Jerusalem.[9] In Hebrew, the Jewish Temple is often referred to as the Beyt Ha-Miqdash, nearly identical to the Arabic term. In the commentary of Abdullah Ibn Omar al-Baydawi, who authored several prominent theological works in the 13th century, the masjid is referred to as the Bayt al-Maqdis because during Muhammad's time no mosque existed in Jerusalem.[10] Koranic historian and commentator, Abu Jafar Muhammad al-Tabari, who chronicled the seventh century Muslim conquest of Jerusalem, wrote that one day when Umar finished praying, he went to the place where "the Romans buried the Temple [bayt al-maqdis] at the time of the sons of Israel."[11] In addition, eleventh century historian Muhammad Ibn Ahmad al-Maqdisi and fourteenth century Iranian religious scholar Hamdallah al-Mustawfi acknowledged that the al-Aqsa Mosque was built on top of Solomon's Temple.[12]
This is a small sample of the Islamic literature attesting to the Jewish connection to the Temple Mount. Innumerable other writings from other faiths attest to this fact, as well.
Link to 1925 Waqf Temple Mount Guide noting that the First and Second Jewish Temples were located on the Temple Mount
Over a million Jewish Families and their children were expelled from Arab countries and all their assets confiscated including over 70,000 square miles of Jewish owned land.
It is interesting to note, that Jordan is a country that never existed in history before WWI and nobody is contesting its legitimacy or territorial sovereignty and control. The same powers that established 21 Arab States plus Jordan after WWI, reestablished the State of Israel incorporating the Balfour Declaration as international law in the San Remo Treaty of 1920 which was confirmed by the 1920 Treaty of Sevres and Lausane including the 1919 Faisal Weizmann Agreement.
On the other hand, Israel and its Jewish people have over 4,000 years of history going back to Abraham and Isaac's sacrifice on Mount Moriah which is Temple Mount.
Many nations and people are questioning Israel's control of its liberated territory. No one is mentioning that the Arab countries had terrorized and ejected about a million Jewish families and their children from their countries, confiscated their assets, businesses, homes and Real estate, over 690,00 Jewish people and their children of these expelled Jewish people were resettled in Greater Israel and today comprise over half of Israel's population. The Land the Arab countries confiscated from the Jewish people 120,400 sq. km. or 75,000 sq. miles, which is over 6 times the size of Israel, and its value today is the trillions of dollars.
Transfer the Arab-Palestinians to the Jewish owned land in Arab countries is a good solution.
Let the 21 Arab countries resettle the Arab Palestinians in the land they confiscated from the Jews which is 6 times the size of Israel (120,440 sq. km.). Provide them with funds they confiscated from the million Jewish people they expelled and let them build an economy, This will benefit both the Arab-Palestinians and the hosting countries, The other alternative is relocate the Arab-Palestinians to Jordan, (originally land allocated for the Jewish people) which is already 80% Arab-Palestinians, and give them funds to relocate and build an economy. This will solve the Arab-Palestinians refugee problem once and for all. It will also reduce hostility and strife in the region.

Agreement Between Emir Feisal and Dr. Weizmann
Faisal–Weizmann Agreement

His Royal Highness the Emir Feisal, representing and acting on behalf of the Arab Kingdom of Hedjaz, and Dr. Chaim Weizmann, representing and acting on behalf of the Zionist Organization, mindful of the racial kinship and ancient bonds existing between the Arabs and the Jewish people, and realizing that the surest means of working out the consummation of their natural aspirations is through the closest possible collaboration in the development of the Arab State and Palestine, and being desirous further of confirming the good understanding which exists between them, have agreed upon the following:

The Arab State and Palestine in all their relations and undertakings shall be controlled by the most cordial goodwill and understanding, and to this end Arab and Jewish duly accredited agents shall be established and maintained in the respective territories.

Immediately following the completion of the deliberations of the Peace Conference, the definite boundaries between the Arab State and Palestine shall be determined by a Commission to be agreed upon by the parties hereto.

In the establishment of the Constitution and Administration of Palestine, all such measures shall be adopted as will afford the fullest guarantees for carrying into effect the British Government’s Declaration of the 2nd of November, 1917.

All necessary measures shall be taken to encourage and stimulate immigration of Jews into Palestine on a large scale, and as quickly as possible to settle Jewish immigrants upon the land through closer settlement and intensive cultivation of the soil. In taking such measures the Arab peasant and tenant farmers shall be protected in their rights and shall be assisted in forwarding their economic development.

No regulation or law shall be made prohibiting or interfering in any way with the free exercise of religion and further, the free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship, without discrimination or preference, shall forever be allowed. No religious test shall ever be required for the exercise of civil or political rights.

The Mohammedan Holy Places shall be under Mohammedan control.

The Zionist Organization proposes to send to Palestine a Commission of experts to make a survey of the economic possibilities of the country, and to report upon the best means for its development. The Zionist Organization will place the aforementioned Commission at the disposal of the Arab State for the purpose of a survey of the economic possibilities of the Arab State and to report upon the best means for its development. The Zionist Organization will use its best efforts to assist the Arab State in providing the means for developing the natural resources and economic possibilities thereof.

The parties hereto agree to act in complete accord and harmony on all matters embraced herein before the Peace Congress.

Any matters of dispute which may arise between the contracting parties hall be referred to the British Government for arbitration.

Given under our hand at London, England, the third day of January, one thousand nine hundred and nineteen

Did Josephus question the date of the destruction of the First or Second Temple? - History

The First and Second centuries of the Common Era saw the tensions between
Jews and Romans erupt into open warfare, not once, but three separate times
between 66 to 132 CE. The Roman occupation of the Land of Israel stoked the
flames beneath a seething cauldron of competing Jewish sects, and of
growing social-economic unrest. Jewish rebel groups, usually collectively
referred to as Zealots, added fuel to the fire. Their religious commitment
to anti-Roman political activity inspired by revolutionary messianism
would overturn the volatile mix, drowning Jerusalem, as Josephus describes,
in a "sea of flame" and an "ocean of blood."

The story of the Jewish revolt was preserved over the centuries in the
writings of Yosef Ben Mattityahu or Josephus Flavius. His Antiquities and
The Jewish War portray the many years of Roman domination, the Jewish
resistance, and eventually, the crushing Roman victory. Ben Mattityahu was
born in Jerusalem (37 CE) to a priestly family related to the Hasmoneans.
As a young man, he lived as a novice among the Essenes. When the Great
Revolt broke out against Rome in 66 CE, he became the regional commander of
Jewish forces in the Galilee. Eventually, his command post at the Yotfat
fortress was surrounded to Roman troops. Prepared to die rather than live
as Roman prisoners of war, his troops agreed to draw lots. The fighter with
the short lot would wait until all the others had committed suicide, deal
with any necessary clean-up operations, and then kill himself. Ben
Mattiyahu, strangely, drew the short lot. After all of the others had
fulfilled their promise, and lay dead about Yotfat, Ben Mattityahu and one
other survivor turned themselves over to the Roman General Vespasian. Ben
Mattityahu, accompanied by Vespasion's son, Titus, travelled to Rome. In
Rome, he became a royally sponsored historian, writing his The Jewish War
in the late 70's or early 80's of the First Century. Although Josephus'
account can not be accepted as completely accurate and impartial, it does
provide an amazing chronicle of some of the most momentous events in all of
Jewish history.

The prelude to the outbreak of the Great Revolt began soon after the death
of Herod. Herod's brutal efficiency in maintaining public order was not
inherited by his successors. Eventually, by the turn of the First Century
CE, the Romans decided that direct Roman Rule in Judaea and the Galilee,
without the intermediation of local vassal kings, would best insure order
and obedience. However, the Roman prefects and procurators, often times
acted to only further sow salt deep in Jewish wounds. Pontius Pilate,
Governor from 26-36 CE, introduced images of the deified emperor into
Jerusalem as his first act of office. Well aware of Jewish prohibitions
against graven images, and sure of Jewish opposition he made sure that the
symbols of the imperial cult were erected under cover of night. The Jews,
perhaps aware that a violent reaction to Pilate would only result in
greater bloodshed, gathered in an act of non-violent resistance, and
marched to the Roman administrative capital at Caesarea. The procession
must have taken several days to march from Judaea up the coast to Pilate's
residence. On arrival, the Jews demanded an audience with Pilate, and
requested that the paraphernalia of the imperial cult be removed from
Jerusalem. A sit down strike lasted for six days paralyzed the city.
Pilate, anxious to quell the demonstration before unrest spread to other
parts of the country ordered his troops to attack the protesters. When the
protesters responded by announcing that they preferred death rather than
see Jerusalem defiled, Pilate acquiesced to Jewish demands. Perhaps Pilate
hoped that magnanmity in the present would engender respect for him among
the Jews in the future. When Pilate pillaged the Temple treasury to
finance the construction of a new water line for Jerusalem, he may have
wrongly assumed that based on his earlier deference to Jewish protests,
that now, the Jews would forgive him the expropriation of Temple funds for
an important municipal project. Street fighting between Jews and Roman
troops resulted in thousands of casualties.

Throughout the period, the Temple served as a focal point for Jewish-Roman
conflict. The Romans could not fathom the concept of an invisible god, nor
could they accept that among all of the nations throughout the Empire, only
the Jews consistently refused to take part in the worship of the Roman
emperor and state. Eventually, an imposing Roman fortress, the Antonia was
built in a menacing overlook from the North-West corner of the Temple
Mount. During the governorship of Cumanus (48-52 CE), tensions continued
to mount. Josephus relates that during Pesah, Roman troops were stationed
strategically around the Temple Mount in order to prevent disturbances. A
Roman sentry, who perhaps had been standing to long under the hot Judaean
sun, decided to clarify his position to the Jewish pilgrims. "One of the
Roman soldiers pulled up his garment and bent over indecently, turning his
backside to the Jews, and making a noise as indecent as his attitude." (The
Jewish War. II, 233). The insult sparked rioting that resulted in,
according to Josephus, over 30,000 dead.

The insult of Roman rule was not only symbolic. Heavy taxes and high
unemployment excacerbated tensions between Jews and Romans, between Jewish
towns and non-Jewish cities, and between the Jewish poor and the Jewish
aristocracy. Highway robbery became common, especially in the Galilee as
robber bands attacked caravans, and raided settlements. In Jerusalem, the
expansion and refurbishing of the Temple Mount, begun by Herod in 20 BCE,
was concluded by 60 CE. Almost 20,000 workers were suddenly unemployed. In
a country already on the brink of chaos, 20,000 young men wandering the
streets, filling the markets and public houses, and unable to provide for
their families meant that the pressure on the political barometer was
increasing. The rumble of the stormclouds of revolt could be heard
approaching fast.

Two flashpoints sparked the beginning of the revolt in 66 CE: Caesaria and
Jerusalem. In the Talmud, no two cities, one the seat of Roman power in
Palestine the other, the holy city of the Jewish people, could be so
spiritually distant. "If someone should tell you that both Caesaria and
Jerusalem are in ruins, do not believe them. Believe them if they say -
Caesaria is in ruins, Jerusalem remains. Believe them if they say -
Jerusalem is in ruins, Caesaria remains." (Megillah 6a)

Caesaria was a largely pagan city with a minority Jewish population. For
many years, an uneasy truce allowed coexistence in Caesaria. A land dispute
over a lot bordering a synagogue between the Jewish community and a Greek
brought split tension wide open. Fighting between Jews and non-Jews in
Caesaria spread to other mixed cities throughout the Galilee, and to Jewish
attacks on Gedara and Bet Shean. In Jerusalem, the Temple become, once
again, the focus of Jewish-Roman conflict. The Roman Governor Florus (65-66
CE), like Pilate before him, robbed the Temple treasury. His excuse that
the funds were needed for municipal work projects was rejected by the
Jews. Armed clashes with Roman troops took place around Jerusalem.

>From the Herod's conquest of the Galilee, Jewish rebel groups had been
bolstered by the increasing instability. Although referred to as the War
Party, or the Zealots, the rebel groups were numerous, as prepared to fight
with each other, as they were to fight the legions of Rome. In the early
stages of the revolt, elements of the priesthood played a central role in
focusing the revolt around the symbol of Jerusalem and the Temple. Elazar
Ben Hananiah, the son of the high priest, suspended the sacrifice in honor
of the emperor and Roman state that had been instituted by Roman
collaborators among the priesthood. Leading Jewish troops into battle
against the Roman garrison in Jerusalem, Elazar managed to beat back
Florus. Jews suspected of treason were executed. Jerusalem plunged into

The infighting between various rebel groups increased when a Jewish rebel
band, known as the Sicarii, challenged Elazar Ben Hananiah. Sicarii refers
to a small, easily concealed dagger. Employing a campaign of political
terror, the Sicarii sought to wipe out any element, be it Jewish or Roman,
that opposed their power. The Sicarii leader, Menahem, led a campaign of
political assassination and robbery aimed at the priestly aristocracy.
Hananiah, the father of Elazar was hunted down by the Sicarii and murdered.
When Menahem appeared in the war torn streets of Jerusalem dressed in royal
purple, in an attempt to pronounce himself king, the priestly
revolutionaries fought back. Menahem was killed, and his followers quit
Jerusalem. Led by Menahem's nephew, Elazar Ben Yair, the Sicarii sat out
the rest of the revolt at the mountain fortress of Masada. Although the
Sicarii were the most extreme of the Jewish rebel groups, all of the groups
shared the idea that the Jewish people could never accept foreign rule. For
the War Party, and it's constituent factions, the true king of the Jewish
people was God. Only God could choose a human ruler to act as his
legitimate representative over Israel. For Jewish tradition, only a
descendant of the House of David could fulfill this role. The Zealot bands
saw their willingness to battle against Rome as an act of faith.
Realistically, they must have known that Jewish rebel forces could not
defeat Rome. However, through their act of faith, they held that God would
reward Israel by sending his messiah. First and foremost, the Messiah, as
understood during the Second Temple Period, was that human figure
designated by God to bring political freedom to the Jewish people.

The revolt in Judaea was small, however, the Romans could not allow the
flames of revolt to spread to other areas of the Empire. Roman troops
poured into the Land of Israel. In the North, Vespasian's legions crushed
the Jewish resistance at the fortresses of Yotfat and Gamla. By the summer
of 68 CE, Jerusalem remained the last major center of the revolt. With the
assassination of Nero that summer, Vespasian returned to Rome to take the
throne. The political intrigues of Rome kept Vespasian occupied. By the
summer of 69 CE, he had proclaimed himself emperor. Only in 70 CE, did he
order his son Titus to lead the Roman assault against Jerusalem. Between
the absence of Vespasian and the appearance of Titus, the Jewish rebels
were unable to create a unified front. Jerusalem was starving. Rebel bands
raided noble homes for food. The city stores were razed to the ground.
Rebel groups fought for pieces of turf. John of Giscala (Yohanan of Gush
Halav) controlled the Lower City and the Temple Mount. Simon Bar Giora
reaked havoc in the Upper City. The aristocracy battled the proletariat as
Jerusalem collapsed into civil war. Fear, hunger, and disease ran rampant.

In August of 70 CE, on the Hebrew date of the Ninth of Av, after prolonged
siege, and the fall of the Antonia to Roman forces, the Temple was
destroyed. Twenty-nine days later, the Upper City, today the Jewish
Quarter, was decimated. Still today, Josephus' vivid description of the
Fall of Jerusalem bears witness: "The Temple Mount, enveloped in flames
from top to bottom, appeared to boiling up from it's very roots yet the
sea of flame was nothing to the ocean of blood, or the companies of the
killers to the armies of the killed nowhere could the ground be seen
between the corpses, and the soldiers clambered over the corpses as they
pursued the refugees." (The Jewish War. V:277) Archaeological excavations
since the early 1970's in the Jewish Quarter have turned back the layers of
history to reveal direct evidence of the Roman destruction of Jerusalem : a
charred roofbeam, ash-covered mosaics, charcoal stained frescoes, and most
amazingly, the arm bone of a young woman, an iron spear just out of hands

Destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BCE, and again by Rome in 70 CE, with
Jerusalem in ruin, what would happen to the Jewish people?

Did Josephus question the date of the destruction of the First or Second Temple? - History

The Primitive Church - 30 - 100 A.D.

First Century Church History Introduction

Christianity begins with the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. Church history begins on the Day of Pentecost. These Jewish Christians adopt a messianic theology and continue to follow the Law of Moses. Hellenistic Jews from all over the Roman empire were among the initial converts - conflict soon surfaced between the Palestinian Jews and the Hellenstic Jews. This represented the beginning of the church's struggle to reach out beyond it's original culture and race - the Great Commission.

The Hellenized Jews failed to take the gospel to the Gentiles in any appreciable way. It took a special man, Saul of Tarsus, a Hellenized Jew, to aggressively take the gospel to the Gentiles. Saul becomes "the apostle Paul" and is attacked on every side: the Jews attack him, the followers of James attack him, and the Romans arrest him.

In the early 60's, under Nero, the Roman government begins orchestrated persecution of Christians. By the 60's the Christian sect, especially under Paul, had separated from Judaism. In 62 AD both Peter and Paul are executed in Rome. Roman persecution will sporadically occur throughout the second, third, and the beginning of the fourth centuries.

In the late 60's Jewish Zealots in Jerusalem rise up in rebellion against the Romans. Titus, son of the emperor Vespasian, commands more than 60,000 Roman troops to wipe out these Zealots. The Jewish Temple is burned to the ground in 70 AD. This event marks a critical point in the development of Christianity - the struggle of the Church against Judaism almost completely disappears. From 70 AD forward Christianity becomes mainly a Gentile dominated movement.

Early gospel accounts had already begun to be circulated by 70 AD. Mark's gospel was probably written first, followed soon by the accounts of Matthew and Luke. Paul's various letters (written mainly from around 50-60) were also beginning to be circulated. Post apostolic writings that eventually do NOT become part of the New Testament canon attest to a growing negative attitude towards Judaism after 70 AD. By the close of the first century all the documents which are now contained in the New Testament had been written.

1st Century Church Comes to a Conclusion
The first century ended with the persecution under Emperor Domitian (81-96 AD). This is the historical backdrop for John's Revelation. The writer is urging fellow believers to stand firm against "Babylon," the Roman empire.

The Initial "Jesus" Movement
Immediately after the resurrection, on the day of Pentecost, a new Jewish sect is firmly established. According to Acts a supernatural event takes place that draws a crowd of Jews who have made the pilgrimage to Jerusalem for the great festival. Something like "tongues of fire" appear on over 100 believers Jews from all over the Roman empire hear the message of the gospel in their familiar language, then hear Peter preach, and a few thousand of them respond.

This early sect of Jews continued to observe the Sabbath, but also meet together on the first day, Sunday, referring to it as "the Lord's day." These early Jesus followers were all Jews, many of them continued in strict observance of the Law of Moses. Even some Pharisees came to faith (Acts 15:5).

Even though Luke gives us a picture of harmony in this primitive Church, he also gives some hints that it was not trouble-free.

Early Conflict
In Acts 6 we get the first sign of internal trouble. The Hebrew widows were being cared for while the Grecian widows were neglected. As we mentioned above, Jews from all over the empire had made pilgrimage to Jerusalem for the great festival of Pentecost and had witnessed the strange, yet supernatural events described by Luke. Many had trusted in Jesus as the promised Messiah and made the decision to stay in Judea rather than make the trek back home (it is possible that these early believers were waiting for the apocalyptic return of Jesus).

- Hellenized Jews
Large numbers of Jews lived outside Palestine in the first century. These are the Jews of the Diaspora, the "scattering," or "exile" of the Jews throughout the Greek world - first in 722 BC when the Assyrians conquered the northern kingdom of Israel, then in 588 BC the Chaldeans conquered the southern kingdom of Judah. The victors in both instances forced the Jews to be relocated, thus diluting their national and cultural strength. Over the next few centuries the Hebrew language was neglected and forgotten by these exiled Jews. Most diaspora Jews of the first century spoke Greek. In fact, sometime in the third century BC the Jewish scriptures (Old Testament, OT) were translated from Hebrew into Greek so that these Greek-speaking Jews could hear and understand the Law of Moses. This famous translation is known as the Septuagint (or LXX), a reference to the legendary story that 72 scribes translated the various texts in a 72 day period with a divinely inspired perfection of agreement.

These Jews of the diaspora were referred to as "Hellenized" ("Greek influenced") by the politically important, Hebrew-speaking Jews of Palestine. Palestinian Jews despised these Hellenized Jews, believing they had compromised their religion. They could not speak Hebrew, God's language, nor could they understand the Law of Moses when read in Hebrew. When Hellenized Jews came to Jerusalem they were urged to attend Greek speaking synagogues so they could hear and understand Moses being read. They were not wanted in the Temple. We know that the Jews hated Samaritans, and were not fond of Gentiles. Luke tells us this prejudice found its way into the primitive church - Hellenized widows were being neglected.

- Stephen
According to Luke, the apostles solve this problem by appointing seven men to new leadership positions. If you look closely you will find that these men are all Hellenized Jews. The apostles apparently realized that the minority class needed representation in the leadership of the church. In the next chapter we find Stephen (one of the seven deacons) preaching aggressively against the Jewish leadership and, more importantly, against Temple worship. Hellenized Jews living outside Judea were forced to find a more spiritualized way for obeying the Law of Moses since they did not have access to the Temple nor to the sacrificial system. This spiritualized Judaism is attested to in the writings of Philo of Alexandria and in the writings of the Qumran community (The Dead Sea Scrolls). In the next few chapters of Acts we see these Hellenized Jews taking the gospel to Samaritans, Ethiopians, and other non-Palestinian Jews. The Great Commission is being extended, but it should be noted that non-Jews continue to be excluded by these Hellenized evangelists (Acts 11:19). It takes a special person to push the infant church outside the Jewish boundaries - Saul of Tarsus is that person.

Outreach to the Gentiles
According to Acts, a young man named Saul was present (and may have had been in charge) when Stephen was stoned. Acts gives an account of this man as he travels through the region "breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord" (Acts 9:1). Saul embodies the earliest opposition to the primitive church as a Jewish sect. The radical view that Jesus was the promised Messiah, coupled with the anti-Temple worship preached by the Hellenized Jewish believers, gave rise to a militant opposition. It appears that some of the existing Jewish leadership made an attempt to stamp out this new sect and Saul appears to have been a leader in this movement.

We know this man as the apostle Paul, author of 13 letters within the New Testament (NT). Saul, who later changes his name to Paul, is himself a Hellenized Jew. Paul reveals very little of his biography in his writings it is the account in Acts where we learn that he grew up in Tarsus (northeast of Syria) and was later brought to Jerusalem for his education. One important piece of evidence pointing to Paul being a Hellenized Jew comes from his quotations of the NT - his text is the LXX rather than the Hebrew version.

In his own words, Paul tells us "I was violently persecuting the church of God and was trying to destroy it" (Gal. 1:13). On his way to Damascus he was confronted by the risen Jesus in a heavenly vision. According to the three separate accounts in Acts, Saul found himself on the ground, blinded by the intensity of a heavenly light. The risen Jesus gave Saul a commission to "be a light to the Gentiles." This Saul was to propel the infant church to fulfill the Great Commission by taking the gospel to the Gentiles.

According to Paul he immediately went to Arabia where the risen Jesus taught him "by revelation" for the next 2-3 years (Gal. 1:11-18). This appears to be a wilderness experience, following in the OT tradition of Moses and Elijah, where Paul receives and attempts to understand his calling. Paul says that the leadership in Jerusalem recognized this calling and gave him "the right hand of fellowship" (Gal. 2:9).

In Acts 13:1,2 Luke recounts the missionary commission of Saul and Barnabas by the church in Antioch. In this account their initial missionary focus is primarily on the Jews. Only after repeated rejection do they announce that they will turn to the Gentiles. Once they make this decision the intensity of persecution increases. Where does their opposition come from? The Judaizers, a sect of early Jewish believers, wanted Gentiles to be circumcised and to follow the Law of Moses.

The first sign of this conflict within the primitive church appears immediately after Peter leads the first Gentiles to faith, the household of Cornelius:

To understand Paul's letters you must first understand that his entire ministry is forged in conflict. Luke gives us an overview in Acts that shows Paul and his companions being opposed in almost every city, many times being attacked and chased out. Who is opposing Paul?

We begin to get an idea of Paul's opposition in Acts 15:1-2, and 5. There are Jews, some Pharisees who have believed, demanding that the Gentiles be circumcised and obey the Laws of Moses. Paul rejects this position and continues to reach Gentiles without pushing the Law on them. For the remainder of the Acts record he is chased, beaten, and slandered by Jews. Luke seems to describe these merely as Jews, which leads the casual reader to assume they are persecuting Paul in the same manner as he himself had done as Saul of Tarsus. But when Paul's writings are carefully studied it seems that he describes his primary opposers as pseudo, or false brothers.

In Galatians Paul is on the attack against those who have led Gentiles to circumcise themselves and place themselves under the Law. In Gal 2:11ff he relates an important story of when he confronted Peter over a similar issue. Peter had been sharing table fellowship with Gentiles until "certain men came from James." Paul is referring to James, the brother of Jesus. This is the same James who speaks out and seems to make the final decision at the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15.

This group of early Jewish believers is often referred to as "Judaizers." Why is this important? Paul refers to this struggle he has with this group in at least five of his letters thus, to properly read and understand Paul one must recognize the historical backdrop in each Pauline epistle. How prevalent is this issue? Here are the letters with the most important texts highlighted.

- Galatians
The entire letter to the Galatian church is Paul's reaction to this issue. Some of these Judaizers had convinced some of the Gentile Galatians to get circumcised. In 2:4 he calls these Jews "false brothers" and:

Paul's most animated words come in this letter in 5:12.

- Romans
This is a unique letter for Paul in that he has not yet been among this congregation. He is writing this letter to make sure his ideas are clearly presented to the Romans rather than having his opposers misrepresent him. In 14:14-23 he gives his clear stance on unclean meat, one of the issues where he is not in agreement with the decision of the Jerusalem Council.

Other texts where Paul speaks about the Judaizers:
2 Corinthians 11:1-29
Philippians 3:2-6
1 Timothy 4:1-5

Paul was commissioned by Jesus to be the apostle to the Gentiles. Peter and James recognized that calling (Gal. 2:9), and Paul aggressively pursued his calling even though it cost him greatly. The Acts account seems to indicate that the primitive church was not effectively fulfilling the Great Commission until the apostle Paul came on the scene. By the middle of the second century the Christian Church was primarily Gentile.

The Jerusalem Council
Next we find this same sentiment directed at Paul after he and Barnabas have had success reaching Gentiles:

This is what led to the Jerusalem Council, the first known formal gathering of the most strategic leaders in the Church. The issue is to define the expectations for the growing Gentile church. According to Luke, Peter reminds the Council of how God had used him to bring the first Gentiles into the fold. Then Paul and Barnabas shared some of their stories. Next James speaks. Outside of some vague references in the gospels and one quick reference in Acts 12:17, this is the first mention of James, the brother of Jesus. Yet it seems that James is in charge rather than Peter, the "rock." It is James who states the decision of the Council: Gentiles would be expected to avoid three types of unclean meat, and to avoid sexual immorality.

James, the brother of Jesus
For the remainder of the history given by Luke, James is barely mentioned again, and Peter is absent. In chapter 21 Paul makes another visit to Jerusalem to meet with the leadership and the only name mentioned is James. Other than the letter attributed to James, he is only mentioned three times in all of the NT. How did James become the leader of the Church in Jerusalem? The answer comes from an early church tradition recorded in Eusebius' Church History. Eusebius quotes from some earlier writings that now only exist through his quotations:

But Clement in the sixth book of his Hypotyposes writes thus: "For they say that Peter and James and John after the ascension of our Saviour, as if also preferred by our Lord, strove not after honor, but chose James the Just bishop of Jerusalem." But the same writer, in the seventh book of the same work, relates also the following things concerning him: "The Lord after his resurrection imparted knowledge to James the Just and to John and Peter, and they imparted it to the rest of the apostles, and the rest of the apostles to the seventy, of whom Barnabas was one. - Church History II.1.3-5

But Hegesippus, who lived immediately after the apostles, gives the most accurate account in the fifth book of his Memoirs. He writes as follows: "James, the brother of the Lord, succeeded to the government of the Church in conjunction with the apostles. He has been called the Just by all from the time of our Saviour to the present day. He was holy from his mother's womb and he drank no wine nor strong drink, nor did he eat flesh. No razor came upon his head he did not anoint himself with oil, and he did not use the bath. He alone was permitted to enter into the holy place for he wore not woolen but linen garments. And he was in the habit of entering alone into the temple, and was frequently found upon his knees begging forgiveness for the people, so that his knees became hard like those of a camel.
- Church History II.23.5-6

We cannot trust these traditions completely, but it is clear that such an early tradition did exist. This indicates the need of the second century fathers to understand and explain how James could have had such a leadership position since he certainly did not have a prominent role in the Acts account until chapter 15. Yet it is clear that James held a place of authority. Paul refers to James as a leader (Gal. 1:19 2:9) and indicates that he had been the recipient of a post-resurrection vision:

The reason for this discussion on James, Paul, and the Jerusalem Council is to understand the struggle of the early church with respect to the issue of the Gentile believers. The first Christians, and the initial leadership, was Jewish. By the late 50's Paul's evangelistic reach into the Gentile world had grown to such an extent that Christianity was becoming more Gentile than Jewish. It was Paul's custom to appoint leadership in each church when he left for his next destination. As Paul's Gentile churches grew in number, the leadership base grew and the Jewish leadership in Jerusalem probably felt their influence diminishing.

In addition to the Pauline outreach there are indications that the gospel was spreading outside immediate apostolic influence. There is no clear record of an apostolic visit to Rome, yet Paul writes a letter to the Romans addressing what appears to be an already stable community with Jewish and Gentile believers. In Acts 18:24-25 a man named Apollos appears on the scene with "a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures. He had been instructed in the way of the Lord." He needed some teaching concerning the Holy Spirit, but appears to have clearly understood the gospel of Jesus. [Read about the theory that Apollos was the author of New Testament Hebrews] Early tradition recorded in the fragments of Papias tell us that Mark, the cousin of Barnabas, had taken an early copy of his gospel to Egypt.

Another tradition says that Barnabas and Mark actually preached in the streets of Alexandria. These traditions may have been attempts at explaining the Apollos text, but are certainly not impossible. What is clear is that the missionary outreach of the church had taken hold.

The beginning of persecution
In Acts 21 Paul visited Jerusalem again to present a financial offering from the Gentile church to the Jerusalem church. Paul meets with James, and in a strange turn of events is arrested (Acts 21:18-36). Paul learns of a plot to kill him and appeals to be handed over to the Romans. The remainder of the Acts record follows Paul on his way to Rome as a prisoner, ending with him in Rome under house arrest, waiting to appear before Caesar. According to early tradition found in the writings of Clement of Rome, Paul was apparently released from this imprisonment and made his way to "the extreme limit of the west" (1 Clement 5.15). This could be a reference to Paul's stated desire to take the gospel to Spain (Rom. 15:28). It appears that Paul was released from his imprisonment in Rome, traveled west and was arrested again. It was during this second Roman arrest that Paul writes the Pastoral Epistles (1 and 2 Timothy, and Titus).

In 62 AD James was executed in Jerusalem by the Sanhedrin. It is not clear what led to this execution, but it must have had something to do with his belief in, and teaching of the Messiah Jesus. A few years later Paul is executed in Rome by Nero. Eusebius reports that he was beheaded, and though the exact date is uncertain, it must have been between 64-67 AD. It is also reported that Peter was executed around the same time, being crucified upside down. The traditions surrounding the persecution of Nero report that a huge fire erupted, burning nine days and destroying at least a quarter of the city. Tacticus reports that Nero blamed the Christians to divert attention away from himself. Blaming the Christians, and having the masses turn their rage on the Christians, was not difficult as this new religion was already being viewed with suspicion. The resulting persecution was brutal:

The destruction of the Temple
Only a few years later the radical Jewish fringe led a revolt against Roman control. Nero sent general Vespasian to crush the rebellion. Vespasian dispatched an army of approximately 60,000 soldiers that methodically went through northern Judea restoring order as they went. Some Jews in the insurrection surrendered and were executed by Zealot leaders. The Roman "invasion" came to a standstill at the capital city, Jerusalem. The Romans laid siege to Jerusalem establishing an encampment completely encircling the city. Anyone caught trying to escape was executed, sometimes by crucifixion, and hung on the city wall for all to see.

Nero committed suicide in the midst of a Senate takeover and Vespasian was recalled to Rome where he was installed as emperor. Titus, son of Vespasian, was left in charge of gaining victory in the Jewish revolt. Jerusalem was sacked and the Temple destroyed. Most of the Jews in Jerusalem were killed, committed suicide, or fled. These events were recorded in detail by the Jewish historian Josephus (War of the Jews V-VII).

The death of James led to a dispersing of Jewish believers from Jerusalem and a weakening of the Jewish Christian community. The destruction of the Temple, with the consequent end of the Levitical priesthood and sacrificial system, brought a virtual close to the Jewish religion. There was a continuation of the religious observances, but it was a mere shadow of what had existed before.

Another apparent result of the demise of Judaism and their historic Temple was a growing rift between what was left of the Jewish faith, including the early Jewish Christians, and the now dominant Gentile community of believers. This is most clearly seen in John's writings, especially in the Gospel of John, which includes confrontations of Jesus with the Jewish leadership not seen in the other gospels. John's writings also contain the clearest language and texts pointing to the deity of Jesus and his co-equality with God the Father.

In 1 John we also find the language of separation:

Who is the liar? It is whoever denies that Jesus is the Messiah. Such a person is the antichrist-denying the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also. -1 John 2:22-23

. because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world. - 1 John 4:1-3

Post-Apostolic writings
There is another set of early Christian writings that show us this continued movement away from first century Judaism. These writings are referred to as "The Apostolic Fathers." Although a slightly confusing designation, these are documents written by the first generation of Christian leadership after the apostles, thus the term "fathers." These documents give us a glimpse of how the ist century Christian churches continued to develop after the account in Acts.

The Didache is a very interesting first century document that does indeed allow us to see how the ist century Christian churches were organized and how they may have been governed. It is important to know that this document represents the Jewish Christian churches more than it does the Gentile churches, but it is still instructive. The Didache is something of an early Minister's Manual. It gives very practical guidelines for baptism, fasting, prayer, the Lord's Supper (the Eucharist), and how to take care of traveling preachers and prophets.

For now I will simply pull a few examples and leave the discussion of these writings for another chapter. Right now the important item to notice is the negative attitude directed at the Jews.

- The Epistle of Barnabas
The writer of this document (Barnabas of the NT for now) adopts the basic theme of NT Hebrews - everything in the OT has been replaced by something better. Barnabas, however, has a consistent negative slant. Where Hebrews says the new covenant "is superior to the old one, since the new covenant is established on better promises," Barnabas says,

Other negative comments concerned circumcision, food laws, the Temple, and the Sabbath.

- The Letters of Ignatius
Ignatius brings the separation of the Gentile church from the Jerusalem/Jewish church to completion:

If any one celebrates the passover along with the Jews, or receives the emblems of their feast, he is a partaker with those that killed the Lord and His apostles. - Phil. 14.1

Be not deceived with strange doctrines, nor with old fables, which are unprofitable. For if we still live according to the Jewish law, we acknowledge that we have not received grace.
- Mag. 8.1

Ignatius warns against a false teaching that portrays Jesus as not truly having a physical body, but that he only appeared to have a body. This is known as docetism (Greek, dokeo, which means "to appear"). It is unclear if these docetics were the Jews opposed by Ignatius, but it is possible.

There will be more discussion on this set of writings, "The Apostolic Fathers," in chapter 2. For now we will move on in our survey of the first century.

The New Testament Canon, Part 1
The most commonly asked question directed at me when I speak on university campuses or in churches is, "How was the New Testament formed?" Because the church has always believed that the documents found in the NT are "inspired" writings and the most important source documents for the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ (and Christian doctrine), this is not only a good question, but a critical one.

My initial understanding of this issue took place around 30 years ago when I took a New Testament survey course as a freshman in college. Our text was Merrill Tenney's New Testament Survey (Eerdmans 1961). In this text Tenney presents the following criteria to have been observed by the early church in the formation of the canon:
- the author must have either been an apostle or a close associate of an apostle
- the document cannot contradict other "inspired" writings with respect to doctrinal teaching
- the document must share the overall "feel" and "character" of other inspired writings, AND
- it must have been cited by early Christian writers and be accepted by the majority of churches

Although these criteria sound reasonable, one cannot find a clearly described methodology like this in the patristic writings. Many early writings were accepted as inspired by some church fathers, yet failed to meet one or more of these conditions.

I believe Tenney must have also mentioned that the canon was confirmed at a church council - this point stuck in my head for years and many people have echoed this belief over the years. In fact, the exact list of NT documents was confirmed at the third Synod of Carthage (397 AD), but this was only a regional council and by this time the 27 NT documents had already been agreed upon by most of the church. but there were some exceptions.

A Natural Delivery
The NT was NOT dropped from heaven.
The NT was NOT delivered by an angel.
The NT was NOT dug up in a farmer's field as golden plates like the Book of Mormon.
The NT was NOT suddenly "discovered" in a clay jar with 27 "books" intact like the Dea Sea Scrolls or the Nag Hammadi texts.

The NT canon developed, or evolved, over the course of the first 250-300 years of Christian history. If the NT had been delivered by an angel, or unearthed as a complete unit it would not be as believable. Part of the historical validity of the NT comes from the fact that we can trace its development, albeit not as precisely as we might like.

I will attempt to trace this development from the introduction of the gospels to the highly disputed Revelation of St John. I intend to do this in several parts, along with the content of the first four centuries, so you can "see" this development within the proper historical context.

Oral Tradition
Oral tradition was the normal mode for communicating the teachings of a master in the ancient world. For one thing, before the use of papyrus was widespread writing was both clumsy and expensive. Using a stylus on a clay tablet worked, but once the clay dried no "corrections" or "edits" could be made. Writing on a scroll made of an animal skin was certainly an improvement, but was still limited. The widespread use of papyrus for the ancient world was like the coming of the internet in the modern world - a virtual explosion of written communication began.

Once great teachings began to circulate in written form ancient writers continued to be skeptical of using the written word. There was a sense that it fell far short for the communication of treasured knowledge. Church historian Eusebius relates this thinking from the fragments of Papias,

Irenaeus (A.H. V.33,3-4) quotes another passage from Papias where the author tells us that he knew the apostle John. This represents one of the earliest references to an early oral tradition within Christianity - Papias is writing down what he remembered hearing from the mouth of John, Polycarp, and others - so he is writing down oral tradition.

Oral Tradition and the words of Jesus
The words of Jesus were recognized as inspired very soon after the resurrection, yet it was 2-3 decades before his words were circulated in written form. We have one clear example of oral tradition in the NT when Paul is addressing the Ephesian elders,

This citation is especially interesting since Luke, the author of Acts, does not record this saying in his own gospel. In fact, this agrapha, from the Greek word "unwritten," does not appear in any of the four canonical gospels and is a witness to the sayings of Jesus being transmitted in an oral tradition.

The New Testament Canon, Part 2
Many Christian scholars disagree with the theory that the sayings of Jesus were initially transmitted in an oral tradition. The concern is that this would threaten the integrity of his message, and thus threaten the validity of the gospel tradition. This section of how the NT was formed is more problematic and it should be remembered that the task for the historian is to present the evidence as objectively as possible, always acknowledging that we are working with theories of events that happened 2,000 years ago for which we do not have ALL the evidence.

Probably as early as the late 40's the oral traditions that carried the words of Jesus began to be put into writing. This probably happened in order to protect the integrity of the message, to keep only 'authoritative' sayings intact. The Nag Hammadi texts seem to shed light on this phase of the gospel development. The Nag Hammadi Library, is a collection of thirteen ancient codices containing over fifty texts, discovered in the Egyptian desert in 1945, sealed in a large clay jar. The story of this discovery is the stuff of an adventure novel and can be found in summary form online at www.answers.com - the full story is found in the introduction of The Nag Hammadi Library in English by James Robinson (pp.22-24, rev.ed., HarperCollins Paperback, New York-1990).

Within the Nag Hammadi texts was a Gospel of Thomas which appears to be nothing more than a collection of 'sayings' and stories, not written with any recognizable chronological or thematic order. Some of the sayings are almost identical parallels found in the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) - Saying 9, for example is the parable of the sower. Yet others are not only different, but bizarre. Just one example will serve to make the point and keep this discussion moving forward:

It is likely that the early leaders began to hear odd sayings like this one and determined that an authoritative set of sayings needed to be recorded. Most scholars believe that Mark's gospel was the first of the four NT gospels written, followed by Matthew and Luke. The dates given vary widely from the early 60's (for Mark) into the 80's (for Luke). The difficulty with dating comes from the fact that early writers, like Paul for example, do not quote from any of the four gospels. Clear quotations do not begin to appear until the early second century. Even more liberal scholars would not suggest a second century date for the synoptic gospels, thus the lack of quotations are attributed to a slow pace for copying and circulating these documents. Papyrus does not become widely and commonly used outside the Egyptian region until the second century. and that is where our discussion of the NT canon will pick up.

Summary and Applications
Jesus was a first century Jewish man preaching his message to first century Jews. The first 15 years of this new "Jesus movement" was basically a Jewish sect called "The Way." Racial tensions had existed within Judaism and found their way into this new movement. These tensions increased when Saul of Tarsus comes on the scene and aggressively takes the gospel to the Gentile world. From the record in the NT, even the apostles had conflict.

Application 1
Leaders in the church cannot live under a false expectation of unity all the time. We are called to live in unity, yet we cannot force this on others. As individuals we must be committed to doing our part. Leaders must embrace the humility of admitting when they have been wrong, and quickly forgive others.

In 66 AD Zealot Jews attempt to throw off Roman rule. The Romans descend on Judea, laid siege to, and overthrows Jerusalem in 70 AD, burning the Temple to the ground. Christianity had been just another Jewish sect, but now begins to break away from Judaism to become a Gentile dominated church. In this period of transition, partly due to doctrinal differences, the Gentile church takes on an anti-Semitic tone.

Application 2
God calls us to reach the lost and to guard the church against false doctrine and moral laxity. Leaders in the church must be faithful to the gospel, but must be careful not to win the battle and lose the war. No person, no denomination has perfect doctrine or a perfect understanding of the biblical text. Somehow we must hold to the essentials, yet allow love and grace to reach out through us. The non-essentials should not hinder the unity Jesus prays for in John 17.


  1. Haddon

    I must admit, the one who wrote the nishtyak was sprinkled.

  2. Bryon

    the message intelligible

  3. Zulusho

    I don't know what to say

  4. Gardakree

    I feel sorry for you.

  5. Enrique

    In it something is. Thank you for the explanation, I also find that more easily better ...

  6. Dairisar

    Between us speaking, I recommend you search on google.com

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