In ancient times, a central building for the worship of God in Israel. The most common biblical names for the Temple are: "the House of the Lord" (I Kings 3:1); "the House of God" (Dan. 1:2); "the Holy Temple" (Jonah 2:5[4]); "the Temple of the Lord" (II Kings 24:13); and "the Sanctuary" (Ezek. 45:4). In the Mishnah (e.g., Ma'as. Sh. 5:2) and Tosefta (e.g., Tosef., Ber. 3:16), the name commonly used is Beit ha-Mikdash (Miqdash), which occurs only once in the Bible (II Chron. 36:7).



Following the destruction of Shiloh (c. 1050 B.C.E.), the need for a central Temple was felt. The military defeat suffered by the Israelites at Eben-Ezer, which ended in the capture of the ark by the Philistines, brought about a severance of the ark from the altar. For a generation and more, the ark wandered from place to place until David finally brought it to Mount Zion, where he erected a tent for it (II Sam. 6:17). The high places set up at Nob (I Sam. 21), at Gibeon (I Kings 3:4), and at other sites, e.g., Beth-El and Mizpah, were unable to serve as a unifying center for the divided tribes who were competing for national supremacy. These high places could not, in consequence, become the permanent site for the ark. However, with the capture of Jerusalem and the establishment of the royal palace on Mount Zion, a suitable place for this purpose was found. Jerusalem was situated on the border between the Rachel tribes and the Leah tribes; and on the border between Judah, the tribe to which David belonged, and that of Benjamin, the tribe from which sprang Saul, the first king of Israel. As a newly conquered city, it had not been incorporated into the territory of any one tribe (cf. Meg. 26a). By its very nature it was, therefore, the one and only place likely to satisfy the claims of all the tribes. The threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite was chosen as the site of the Temple. There it was that David had built an altar to check a plague that had broken out among the people (II Sam. 24; I Chron. 21). From II Chronicles 3:1, it appears that the spot selected for the altar was also the place which tradition had identified as the site of the binding of Isaac. David had wanted to build the Temple there, but, according to the biblical narrative, he was dissuaded by the prophet Nathan (II Sam. 7) on the grounds that it would be more proper to leave the project for his son. Solomon pursued the task and completed it with the assistance of King Hiram of Tyre under the supervision of a craftsman who was the son of "a man of Tyre" and "of a widow of the tribe of Naphtali" (I Kings 7:14; "of a woman of the daughters of Dan," according to II Chron. 2:13 [14]). The copper required for the columns and the vessels came (as the investigations of N. Glueck have shown) from Solomon's copper mines in Edom, on the shores of the Red Sea (I Kings 7:46). It was from Solomon's commercial enterprises and especially from David's war booty that the ample silver needed for the project was acquired. Thirty thousand Israelites took part in the operation (I Kings 5:27–32), together with 150,000 Canaanites who served as porters and quarrymen (II Chron. 2:16, 17; cf. I Kings 9:20–22), and "chief officers who were over the work," who numbered 3,300 men (I Kings 5:30; 3,600 in II Chron. 2:17 [16]). The work was begun in the month of Iyyar in the fourth year of Solomon's reign and was completed in the 11th year of his reign in the month of Bul (= Marheshvan, I Kings 6:1, 38). The dedication of the Temple, which took place in the presence of the elders of Israel, the heads of the tribes, the "leaders of the fathers' houses" (I Kings 8:1–2; II Chron. 5:2–3), and "a great assembly, from Lebo-Hamath unto the Brook of Egypt," lasted 14 days (I Kings 8:65; II Chron. 7:8). It was then that the ark was brought to its permanent abode in the Holy of Holies, and Solomon offered up a prayer in the presence of the entire people.

The deterioration in the political situation, which set in at the end of Solomon's days, also had an adverse effect upon the fortunes of the Temple. In order to offset the importance of Jerusalem as a religious center, Jeroboam found it politically expedient to reinstate the shrines at Beth-El and Dan (I Kings 12:26–33). With the political and military reverses suffered after the reign of Solomon (by the Kingdom of Judah), the Temple, as a depository of money and as a sanctuary rich in its ornaments and vessels of gold, was exposed to periodic spoliation. Shishak king of Egypt (I Kings 14:25–26; II Chron. 12:9), Ben-Hadad (I Kings 15:18; II Chron. 16:2) and Hazael (II Kings 12:19), kings of Aram-Damascus, as well as Jehoash king of Israel (II Kings 14:14; II Chron. 25:24), all obtained money from the Temple treasuries, either as plunder or as tribute. It was apparently to send tribute to the king of Assyria that Ahaz removed the lavers from their bases and the "brazen sea" from its support of brazen oxen (II Kings 16:17). Hezekiah, too, stripped the gold from the doors of the Temple and from the doorposts and sent it to Sennacherib (II Kings 18:16). On the other hand, the Temple needed renovation from time to time. Most often referred to are the repairs executed in the days of Jehoash under the supervision of Jehoiada the high priest, which led to the institution of a permanent "chest" for a Temple repair fund (II Kings 12:5ff.; see above), as well as the reconstruction undertaken in the reign of Josiah, when, according to the Bible, the "Book of the Law" (=Deuteronomy; II Kings 22:3ff.; II Chron. 34:8ff.) was discovered.

However, more important changes than these physical changes were those changes introduced into the Temple service as a result of the religious struggle waged throughout that period. Although the service of God continued in the Temple even under Athaliah, that service, as well as the Sanctuary itself, was endangered by the temple of Baal which had been erected by the queen and by the priests of Baal who were active under her protection. This provoked a revolt against the queen under the leadership of the high priest Jehoiada, as a result of which Baal worship was eradicated from Jerusalem (II Kings 11). Under Hezekiah, the Temple at Jerusalem was confirmed as the sole place of worship in Judah (II Kings 18:4–6, 22; Isa. 36:7; II Chron. 32:12), and in a large measure it also served as the religious center for the other Israelite tribes, from among whom pilgrims (after the destruction of the Northern Kingdom) would go up to the Temple for Passover (II Chron. 30:1ff.). Under Manasseh, the use of high places was revived and idolatry penetrated the Temple itself (II Kings 21:2ff.; II Chron. 33:2ff.). However, with the accession of Josiah, the Temple was finally established as the one and only sanctuary for the whole nation. The Passover celebration which was held during his reign, and which, in the words of the Bible, was unparalleled since "the days of the Judges," was a strong demonstration of the nation's religious uniqueness and the preeminence of Jerusalem (II Kings 23:21–23; II Chron. 35:1–18). However, the Temple did not long retain this exalted position. A few years after Josiah's death, Nebuchadnezzar removed from the Temple "the vessels of the house of the Lord... and put them in his palace in Babylon" (II Chron. 36:7; Dan. 1:2; cf. Jer. 27:19–22; Dan. 5:3ff.; Ezra 1:7; 6:5). Eight years later Nebuchadnezzar attacked Jerusalem a second time and took away "all the treasures of the house of the Lord, and the treasures of the king's house, and cut in pieces all the vessels of gold in the Temple of the Lord which Solomon king of Israel had made" (II Kings 24:13; Jer. 28:3; II Chron. 36:10). Eleven more years went by—and then came total destruction. Nebuzaradan, Nebuchadnezzar's captain of the guard, stormed the Temple (586), smashed the pillars of brass and the bases and the brazen sea, and after having stripped the building of all its brass as well as of its sacred vessels of bronze, silver, and gold in order to send them to Babylon, burned the Temple to the ground. The day of the destruction of the Temple is given in one passage as the seventh of Av (II Kings 25:8) and in another (Jer. 52:12) as the tenth of Av. Traditionally (Ta'an. 29a), this discrepancy is reconciled by the statement that "On the seventh [of Av] the heathens entered the Temple and ate therein and desecrated it throughout the seventh and eighth, and toward dusk of the ninth day set fire to it and it continued to burn the whole day." It is further related: "The day on which the First Temple was destroyed was the eve of the ninth of Av, a Sunday, and in a year following the Sabbatical Year, and the course of the family of Jehoiarib were on duty and the levites were chanting the Psalms standing on their dais" (ibid.).

The destruction of the Temple marked the end of an epoch in the history of the people and its religion. From the days of Micah (3:12; Jer. 26:18) the prophets had never ceased (cf., e.g., Jer. 7:14; 26:4–6; Ezek. 5:11) to warn the people that, in punishment for its religious and moral transgressions, the Temple would be destroyed, despite the belief, prevalent among the masses, that "the Temple of the Lord" could not but continue forever (Jer. 7:4). The destruction of the Temple and the Exile to Babylon which followed it represented, in some measure, a triumph for the prophetic position. In consequence, the destruction was attended by renewed zeal in the observance of the commandments of the Law, coupled with an awakening of the hope for the rebirth of an independent religious-national life in the spirit of the prophecies of consolation. "In the 14th year after the city was conquered," Ezekiel, the prophet of the Exile, foretold the reconstruction of the Temple and beheld in a vision (Ezek. 40–48) the details of the restored edifice, its service, its procedures, and so on. In that same generation, too, four annual fasts were appointed in commemoration of the destruction of the Temple and the events which accompanied it (Zech. 7:1ff., 8:19; see Tosef., Sot. 6:10–11; Sif. Deut. 31). One of these, the fast of the Ninth of Av (the fast of the fifth month), was instituted for the day on which the Temple was burnt (see above). In memory of this event, lamentations over the destruction (see Lamentations) were composed, which were apparently recited in public already in the days of the Babylonian Exile (cf. II Chron. 35:25).

[Yehoshua M. Grintz]


The two principal sources for the plan of the First Temple erected on Mt. Moriah in Jerusalem between the fourth and the 11th years of Solomon's reign are I Kings 6–8 and II Chronicles 2–4. These differ in several important details; in addition to the Book of Kings, the editor of Chronicles apparently used another source whose description of the Temple plan varied considerably. A third independent description is found in the Book of Ezekiel (40ff.).

The Temple was not originally intended to serve as a place of prayer, but to house (or as an abode for) the ark of the Lord, symbol of the Covenant between the people and its God (I Kings 8:21). Hence it was called "the House of the Lord," in the same way that one would speak of "the house of the king" or any ordinary domicile. As a tabernacle it was not necessary for it to be large. Its structure had to meet the requirements of a symbolic tabernacle of God and a repository for the sacred furniture and the offerings brought to God by His worshipers. As a place for divine worship the Temple was not judged by its size but by the splendor and massiveness of its construction, and indeed, the dimensions of the main hall of the First Temple, which in II Chronicles 2:4[5] is called "great," did not exceed 40 X 20 cubits (approximately 66 X 33 ft.). It should be noted that the roof of the Temple was not supported by pillars set in the center of the room as was the practice in palaces of this period and its width was the maximum which was structurally possible. Without pillars the rooms were impressive in their spaciousness. The Temple was also relatively high—30 cubits (about 50 ft.)—much taller than most Canaanite temples. The courtyard of the Temple, however, had to be extensive, for it served as the place of assembly for the public which came to inquire of God, to bring sacrifices, and to pray. The "House of the Lord" was built originally by Solomon as a royal chapel, like the temples which kings in the Near East built adjoining their palaces. The Temple of Solomon, however, was quickly transformed into a national religious center and the symbol of the Covenant between the people of Israel and its God.

The Ground Plan of the Temple

The Temple was oblong in shape and composed of three sections of equal width: a porch or hall (the vestibule, $ulam), a main room for divine service heikhal (hekhal), and the "Holy of Holies" (devir). Attempts to find parallels to this plan in Egypt, Assyria, Babylonia, and in areas of Aegean culture have not been too successful. Most scholars today recognize an affinity between the Temple of Solomon and the Canaanite and Phoenician cultures current in Palestine in the second part of the second millennium and beginning of the first millennium B.C.E. These cultures had a strong influence on the culture and art of the Israelites. The Bible as well stresses the great contribution of Hiram, king of Tyre, to the Temple in supplying building materials and artisans. The most important evidence, however, is derived from excavations of temples of the Late Bronze period. Several temples in Palestine, such as the Late Fosse Temple at Lachish, the temple at Beth-Shean in Stratum VI, and especially the temple at Hazor in Stratum 1b (Area H), while they cannot be compared in size and splendor with the Temple at Jerusalem, already show—several centuries before Solomon—the general scheme of the main elements of the Temple, the porch, main hall, and Holy of Holies (which is often only a niche in which a statue of the deity stands), built one after the other on the long axis of the building.

Original Israelite elements are also contained in the design of the Temple, particularly in the Holy of Holies, which continue the tradition of the early Tabernacle. The biblical descriptions of the Tabernacle, however, are not clear nor are the dates of the texts.

A shrine found at Arad in southern Judah has been attributed to the ninth-eighth centuries B.C.E. by its excavator, who suggests that its foundations may even date back to the tenth century B.C.E., i.e., to the time of Solomon. These dates, however, have not yet been definitely established. The shrine at Arad consists of a large court containing an altar, a small hall, and a niche with steps leading up to it. Thus it differs from the Temple of Solomon in plan but it is identical in orientation (for details see Arad).

A small temple discovered at Tell Tainet in northern Syria provides evidence of the wide distribution of the plan of the Temple of Solomon. This is a small royal chapel built adjoining the palace of the king (as was the Temple of Solomon) and although it is much smaller and of a later date (ninth-eighth centuries B.C.E.) than the Temple at Jerusalem there is a striking resemblance between their general plans as well as in many construction details. This method of construction was followed for a long period of time and it can also be seen in the ground plan of the Second Temple whose builders tried to adhere as closely as possible to the biblical source.

Although the physical structure of the Temple was influenced by the design of Near Eastern architecture, in function it differed radically from all other foreign shrines. According to Israelite belief, God did not dwell in His Temple. The Temple was no more than a place wherein He chose to have his Divine Presence (Shekhinah) rest, in order to prevail upon man to direct his heart to his God. Unequivocal expression of this view is already given in "the prayer of Solomon" (I Kings 8).

The Detailed Plan of the Temple

GENERAL DESCRIPTION. According to Ezekiel 41:13–14, the Temple was 100 cubits (about 165 ft.) long and 50 cubits wide (without the platform on which it was built). Adding together the dimensions of the rooms of the Temple, the inner and outer wall, the width of the storehouse—a three-story side structure (yazia) divided into cells and chambers which surrounded the Temple on three sides—and its walls, brings us almost exactly to the dimensions mentioned by Ezekiel. The 2:1 proportion between the length and width of the outer measurements of the Temple was also followed in the interior: the porch measured 20 cubits in width and ten cubits in length (1:2); the main hall, 40 cubits in length and 20 cubits in width (2:1); while the Holy of Holies was a square (1:1). The 20 cubits width of the Temple was, as stated above, almost the maximum width which could be roofed without supporting pillars. Thus the dimensions are not arbitrary but were arrived at through precise planning.


The function of the porch (Heb. $ulam; apparently borrowed from Akk. ellamu, "front") was to separate the sacred precinct from the profane. The Septuagint version of Ezekiel 40:49 cites the number of steps which led to the Temple: "and they ascended it by ten [eser] steps" instead of the original text "and it was by steps that [$asher] it was ascended." The width of the porch—alongside of which the entrance was located—was 20 cubits, and its depth was 10 cubits. The height of the porch is not certain. The only source which mentions its height—120 cubits—is II Chronicles 3:4 and the text is apparently corrupt. One proposal corrects this to 20 cubits on the basis of the Syriac translation and largely on conjecture, but this is not accepted by all scholars. Some suggest that the porch rose above the main hall, like a tower, following the description in II Chronicles (this interpretation was followed by the builders of the Second Temple). Others lower the porch and still others conclude from the silence on this point in the main source in the Book of Kings that the height of the porch was the same as the general height of the building (30 cubits). On both sides of the entrance stood supporting pillars (see Jachin and Boaz), each 3 cubits wide and 5 cubits thick; the width of the entrance gate was 14 cubits (23 ft.).


The main room was entered from the porch through a gate, 10 cubits wide, in which two doors of cypress wood were set. The doorposts, made of olive wood, were apparently composed of four frames set one within the other, like those found in the temple of Tell Tainet. The thickness of the walls between the porch and the hekhal was 6 cubits. The latter was the largest chamber of the Temple, measuring 40 X 20 cubits (approximately 66 X 33 ft.) X 30 cubits in height. These dimensions were considerable in comparison with those of other Near Eastern temples. The hekhal served as the main chamber for divine service. The world hekhal is borrowed from the Akkadian (ekallu—derived ultimately from the Sumerian M.gal, "great house"). W. F. Albright maintains that the ancient Canaanite temples initially consisted of one large hall only, called hekhal, and that when porches were eventually added on both ends, the name hekhal came to denote the principal middle chamber.

The windows of the hekhal were set in its upper part, since the flanking structure mentioned above rose to about half the height of the hekhal. In the Bible they are called "windows with recessed frames" (I Kings 6:4), terms which are not entirely clear and which have been variously interpreted. By analogy with ivory reliefs found at Samaria, Arslan-Tash, and Nimrud, it may be assumed that these windows were of the type common in that period in Syria and Palestine, i.e., wide on the outside and narrowing toward the inside, an effect achieved by the use of window frames set one within the other.


The Holy of Holies, the rear part of the Temple, was designed to serve as a tabernacle for the ark of the Covenant and the cherubim. Its interior measurements were 20 X 20 X 20 cubits. The 10 cubits difference in height between the Holy of Holies and the main hall has been explained in various ways. Busink suggests that the Holy of Holies was laid as an independent unit—the tabernacle—under the main roof of the Temple. According to K. Galling, the floor level of the Holy of Holies was raised 10 cubits, but the most reasonable solution is perhaps the combination of a slight elavation of the floor, as was common in Canaanite temples, and a lowering of the roof beneath the level of the roof of the main hall. It may be assumed that the raised floor of the Holy of Holies served as a sort of platform on which stood the ark and the cherubim (a hint of this may be found in Isa. 6:1).

The jambs of the devir gate, in which olive wood doors were set, were constructed like the hekhal gate and the Temple windows, that is, of five frames set one within the other (I Kings 6:31). There were no windows in the Holy of Holies.

R. de Vaux maintains that the wall between the main hall and the Holy of Holies was merely a thin partition of cedarwood, since the Bible treats the hekhal and the Holy of Holies as one unit and gives their combined length in one figure—60 cubits, with that of the hekhal 40 cubits, and that of the Holy of Holies 20 cubits. Had a dividing wall separated them, their combined length would have exceeded 60 cubits by the addition of the width of that wall. De Vaux accordingly emends the text of I Kings 6:16 to read: "He built twenty cubits on the rear of the house with boards of cedar from the floor to the rafters, and they were a separation (reading vldbyv instead of vl Nbyv, "he built them for himself") within the devir, as the most holy place." De Vaux regards the "boards of cedar" as a partition; however, a gate made of five frames would necessitate an extremely thick wall, and evidence of such a substantial wall is provided by the Canaanite and Greek temples and by that of Tell Tainet.


This building, whose walls ran parallel to those of the Temple and surrounded it on all sides except the front, was of three stories of varying widths. The inner width of the rooms of the lowest story was 5 cubits and to lay the beams of the roof which formed the floor of the second story, the thickness of the walls was reduced so that the width of the rooms of the second story was 6 cubits and of the third story, 7 cubits. Each story was divided into about 30 chambers. The entrance to this side structure was, according to I Kings 6:8, on the south side, while, according to Ezekiel 41:5–6, it was entered on both sides. The upper stories were reached by lulim, i.e., apertures in the shape of holes. In this building the numerous Temple vessels, utensils, and treasures were stored. The building was a little over 15 cubits high with each story 5 cubits (about 8.2 ft.) high. A later date for this building has been proposed by some scholars: K. Galling suggests the period of the later kings of Judah; M. Moehlenbrink, the time of Zerubbabel; but there seems to be no sound reason for not attributing it to the time of Solomon.

The Temple Furniture


The small altar (2 X 2 X 3 cubits), made of cedar and overlaid with gold, stood before the entrance to the Holy of Holies. It resembled the altars of the ancient Canaanite temples. The large, main altar for burnt sacrifices and the fat of peace offerings, was made of bronze and stood in the court of the Temple, before the porch (II Chron. 8:12). Somewhat of a parallel can be found in the altars discovered in the shrine at Arad. Two small incense altars were set within the building and a sacrificial altar stood in the courtyard. The large altar at Jerusalem was 10 cubits high and was built in stepped tiers. The lowest tier, which was sunk in the earth and was called "the base on the ground" (Ezek. 43:14), was set off from the floor of the court by a channel, and measured 20 X 20 cubits. The length and width of the three tiers above it were 16 X 16, 14 X 14, and 12 X 12 cubits, respectively; the height of the lowest tier was 2 cubits; that of the middle 4 cubits; and that of the uppermost, called har$el, 4 cubits.

Set at the four corners of the har$el were "horns," exactly as on small Canaanite incense altars. The altar is described by Ezekiel, who apparently refers to the altar erected by Ahaz which was modeled after the one he had seen at Damascus (II Kings 16:10). Ascent to the altar was by steps on its east side (Ezek. 43:17). The fact that its base was called "bosom of the earth" while its uppermost tier was called har$el ("mountain of God"), together with its striking resemblance to the Babylonian ziggurat ("temple tower," "mountain peak"), has led several scholars to conjecture that the plan of the altar expressed something of the cosmic symbolism typical of the religions of the Ancient Near East. W. F. Albright sees a connection between "bosom of the earth" and the Akkadian irat er\etim or irat kigalli, which is found in the Babylonian temples and which also means "bosom of the earth," "bosom of the underworld." The same applies to the name har$el which, according to him, derives from the Akkadian arallb, a poetic name for the netherworld.


This bowl, of huge dimensions, which stood in the Temple court, southeast of the Temple proper, was doubtless one of Hiram's greatest technical achievements. As it was 10 cubits in diameter and 5 cubits high, it could hold (on the assumption that its bottom was flat and its walls vertical) 1,765.78 cu. ft. of water. However, in the light of the statement in I Kings 7:26 that the "sea" held 2,000 bath (II Chron. 4:5 has 3,000 bath), i.e., nearly 2,825.25 cu. ft., it may be assumed that it had sharply convex sides. From the thickness of its walls (approximately 7.5 cm., about 3 in.) its weight can be calculated at some 33 tons. Some scholars believe that both the form and name of the vessel are connected with the mythological "sea," known from the Bible and Canaanite documents. The division of the 12 oxen, on which the "sea" stood, into four groups of three, each of which faced one of the points of the compass, has been interpreted as symbolic of the four seasons. Due to its great weight, the "sea" was eventually dismantled. Ahaz gave the oxen, together with the other Temple utensils, as tribute to the king of Assyria (II Kings 16:17). In 586 B.C.E. the Chaldeans broke the "sea" and carried its metal off to Babylon (II Kings 25:13).


Different views have been expressed concerning the bronze columns, Jachin and Boaz. Did they support the roof of the porch or were they freestanding columns at the entrance, of purely ornamental or cultic purpose? According to II Chronicles 3:15, the second supposition is the more acceptable, but on the basis of the detailed description of the capitals, the special names given to them, and also their great diameter (4 cubits), which rendered them large enough to block the entrance, some scholars incline to the first supposition. Were they pillars, obelisks, fire altars, "trees of life," or the like? W. F. Albright has suggested that they should be regarded as two huge incense stands. Opinions also differ as to the meaning of their names. An original suggestion is that of R. B. Y. Scott—that the words yakhin (Jachin) and boaz (or be-oz) were the first words of inscriptions engraved on the columns: MlvA dA vArzl vTvklmv dvd ask 'h Nyky; "May the Lord establish (yakhin) the throne of David and his kingdom for his seed for ever"; and perhaps: Klm HmSy 'h zAb; "In the strength (be-oz) of the Lord shall the king rejoice" (cf. Ps. 21:2).


Archaeological discoveries have helped greatly toward understanding the design of the ten brass bases described in detail in the Book of Kings, especially the Larnaca (in Cyprus) "base" which, in most of its details, resembles the bases of the Temple. The latter measured 4 X 4 X 3 cubits. Their upper parts were shaped like round "collars," into which the "lavers" were fitted. These lavers, which were concave, are also known from excavations at Ugarit and Megiddo.


In the Holy of Holies there were two "cherubim" of olive wood which hovered over the ark of the Covenant. They were each 10 cubits high and the combined spread of their four wings was 20 cubits. Archaeological discoveries indicate that the cherub was a form of sphinx, with the body of a lion, the head of a man, and two wings. In ancient mythology it was commonly believed that the cherubim served God (cf. II Sam. 22:11), and that their main task was to guard the ark of the Covenant in the Holy of Holies and the "Tree of Life" in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3:24). The depictions of the thrones of Ahiram, king of Byblos, of the ruler of Megiddo, and of others, in which the thrones rest upon the cherubim, provide a concrete representation of the concept "enthroned upon the cherubim."

The Temple's Site and Orientation

On the basis of a tradition thousands of years old, the site of the First Temple can be fixed on the "Temple Mount," on the east side of Jerusalem, north of Ophel. From earliest times, the "Rock" (or "Foundation Stone") was regarded as the most sacred object on the mount and was associated with memorable events in history and with manifestations of the Divine Presence. (See also Yoma 5:2, "After the Ark was taken away a stone remained there [in the Holy of Holies] from the time of the early Prophets and it was called Shetiyyah ["foundation"].") Nevertheless, scholars are divided on the exact site of the Temple. The main issue is whether the altar, which stood to the east of the Temple, was built on the Rock. Some maintain that the Rock itself served as an altar in ancient times, for, according to II Samuel 24:18, 25, David set up an altar in the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite—on the very spot where, according to II Chronicles 3:1, Solomon erected the Temple. Against this others argue that had the altar been situated on the Rock, the area would not have sufficed for the Temple which was the west of it, as has been shown by topographical research on the formation of the mount at the time of the First Temple. Contemporary scholars generally accept the second opinion, according to which the Holy of Holies was erected on the Rock. The Rock itself, whose present height is 5 ft. 9 in. above the floor of the mosque of the Dome of the Rock, may have served as the platform of the Holy of Holies.

There is no doubt that the building was oriented from east to west, so that the porch faced eastward. Evidence of this can also be found in the words of Ezekiel: "And he brought me into the inner court of the Lord's house, and, behold, at the door of the temple of the Lord, between the porch and the altar, were about five and twenty men, with their backs toward the temple of the Lord, and their faces toward the east; and they worshipped the sun toward the east" (8:16). (It may be observed that the temple of Tell Tainet also faces east.) The exact position of the Temple in relation to the royal palace is not certain, although it was south of the Temple.

Building Materials and Ornamentation

Biblical sources provide evidence of the following main building materials: cedarwood, floated down in rafts to the neighborhood of Jaffa, and "finished stones," "stones from the quarry," "costly stones—hewn stones" (I Kings 5:31), which were used for the foundation of the structure. A detailed account is also given of the stones which were used in building the king's palace which were "sawed with saws" as well as of "great stones, stones of ten cubits, and stones of eight cubits" (I Kings 7:9–10) which were used for the Temple foundation. In addition, Solomon is said to have built the inner court of the Temple "with three rows of hewn stone, and a row of cedar beams" (I Kings 6:36). The Bible further tells how the Temple was erected and of the crews of masons and the thousands of laborers which Solomon conscripted for the work.

The method of construction in both stone and timber, whereby the timber was used to brace and strengthen the walls and also to face the interior of the building, was prevalent in Palestine and in the neighboring countries. A building of masonry and timber was found also at Ugarit, and there too a row of timber is inserted between the third and fourth course; the same is true of the buildings found at Megiddo (in Solomon's time) and Senjirli.

The biblical account leaves no doubt that the lower courses of Solomon's building were of large hewn stones, that its exterior walls were also of masonry, and that its interior walls were paneled with cedarwood. Within the courses, beams and cedar planks were set to brace and strengthen the building. The same account mentions various decorations: carvings, cherubim, palm trees, open flowers, and chainwork. All these terms, which were quite obscure up to recent years, have now become comprehensible thanks to archaeological discoveries that uncovered the ivory reliefs at Samaria, Arslan-Tash, Megiddo, and elsewhere.


The general picture of Solomon's Temple is clear in its major outlines. It has been seen that the plan of the Temple, its array of utensils, its decorative motifs, and the method of its construction are to a certain degree rooted in ancient traditions of the Near East. It should not, however, be deduced from this that Solomon's Temple was a stereotyped building, similar in all respects to the Canaanite temples. The distinct Israelite form of divine service also left its mark—both on the general structure of the Temple and on a number of details.

[Yigael Yadin]


The Service in the Temple

In addition to the sacrificial worship (for details see Sacrifice), it was customary for the levites to sing ("they shall stand every morning, thanking and praising the Lord, and likewise at evening," I Chron. 23:30) to the accompaniment of "lyres with harps, and with cymbals" (I Chron. 25:1; II Chron. 29:25). Many of the psalms in the Book of Psalms are ascribed to these levite singers (the descendants of Asaph, Heman, and Jeduthun). This singing constitutes something of an innovation, for the Pentateuch makes no reference to it (see Music).

Primarily, however, the Temple was a place of assembly for the entire people for purposes of sacrifice, prayer, and thanksgiving. The people would come to the Temple to bring both sin and guilt offerings as well as burnt offerings and peace offerings and meal offerings with frankincense either in fulfillment of vows, as freewill offerings, or as peace offerings of thanksgiving. These sacrifices, which had to be eaten within a day or two of their slaughter, were apparently brought to the accompaniment of songs (Ps. 26:6–7; 56:13; 100:2, 4; 116:17; 118:19) and in procession ("the voice of those who sing... 'Give thanks to the Lord of hosts, for the Lord is good, for His steadfast love endures for ever'," Jer. 33:11). Many psalms which call upon man to give thanks to God ("Give thanks unto the Lord," e.g., Ps. 107, 118, 136) and to praise Him ("Praise the Lord," Ps. 113–116, 135, et al.), as well as others (e.g., Ps. 26, 27, 56, 100), were certainly associated with the bringing of these thanksgiving or freewill offerings. Individuals (or the entire community after a war, I Sam. 15:15) would bring objects set apart for sacred use (MymrH) for sacrifice.

Special importance was attached to public processions in celebration of the festivals. The people would come to the Temple "to worship before the Lord" on Sabbaths and New Moons (Isa. 1:13; 66:23; Ezek. 46:3; cf. II Kings 4:23). Particularly at the appointed seasons and at the three pilgrim festivals, large numbers would stream to the Temple (Isa. 33:20; Ezek. 46:9; Lam. 1:4; 2:6). They would come not only from Jerusalem but also from all of Judah (Jer. 7:26; 26:2; cf. Ps. 122:1–2) and even from beyond, from Shechem, from Shiloh, and from Samaria (Jer. 41:5). The number of pilgrims to Jerusalem increased especially after the destruction of Samaria (II Chron. 30:1ff.; 35:1ff.). The festal crowd would proceed in a "throng... with glad shouts and songs of thanksgiving" (Ps. 42:5 [4]) and would enter the Temple gates "with thanksgiving and... praise" (Ps. 100:4; cf. 95:1–2; 118:19; Isa. 26:1–2). The procession would be accompanied by the playing of musical instruments (with "gladness of heart, as when one sets out to the sound of the flute to go to the mountain of the Lord," Isa. 30:29), and this may also have been the custom at the time of the bringing of the firstfruits (cf. Bik. 3:4). During these pilgrimages, Jerusalem was filled with a multitude of people and animals ("like the flock at Jerusalem during her appointed feasts," Ezek. 36:38). The celebrants would solemnize the festival with singing which would, at times, continue into the night (Isa. 30:29; cf. Pes. 85b). Pilgrims to the Temple were particularly numerous on the Feast of Tabernacles, celebrated at the time of the ingathering of the harvest (e.g., I Kings 8:2; Zech. 14:16; II Chron. 7:9) and at Passover.

The Temple assumed special importance also on fast days. Then too large numbers would flock to it from Jerusalem and the border cities (Jer. 36:6–9). These gatherings would usually be held "in the court of the Lord's house" (Jer. 19:14), in the outer gate (Jer. 7:2), and on these occasions the prophets (see below) would address the people (Jer. 26:2; II Chron. 24:20–21).

The Temple Treasury

The funds for the maintenance of the Temple were kept in permanent treasuries in the Sanctuary (I Kings 14:26; II Kings 12:19; 14:14; 18:15; 24:13; I Chron. 9:26; 26:20; II Chron. 5:1). The payment of tribute exacted by foreign enemies would be made from these funds. There was, furthermore, "the treasury of dedicated things," which was guarded by a special official of levitical descent. It consisted of war booty and other allocations assigned to the Temple by kings and generals (II Sam. 8:11–12; I Kings 7:51; II Chron. 26:27), as well as dedications made by individuals. The sources enumerate three types of such dedications: the money valuation based on the age of the individual male or female, which would be given to the priest as "holy to the Lord" (Lev. 27); money donations which a man's heart prompts him to bring into the house of the Lord"; and the money "for which each man is assessed" (II Kings 12:5[4]), which according to II Chronicles 24:6 is to be identified with the tax of a half-shekel imposed by Moses on every Israelite from the age of 20 upward, for the building of the Tabernacle (Ex. 30:13). This money would first be handed to the priests who would take it "each [man] from his acquaintance" (II Kings 12:6[5]) and deposit it in the treasury. In the 23rd year of Jehoash's reign, the high priest Jehoiada issued a decree whereby the "money of the dedicated things" was to be deposited, through the medium of "the priests who guarded the threshold," in a special chest by the bronze altar (12:10[9]). He also directed that this money was to be applied exclusively to the repair of the Temple (12:7–16 [6–15]). This regulation remained in force, apparently, to the end of the period of the First Temple (see II Kings 22:4, et al.). The supreme trustee of this money (as of the Temple administration as a whole) appears to have been the king, since the regular sacrifice was offered "from his own possessions" (II Chron. 31:3; cf. Ezek. 45:17).

The Temple treasures seem to have included stores of produce, the tithe (of grain, cattle, and sheep) and the dedicated things which, according to II Chronicles 31:4ff., would be brought to the chambers of the Temple (of this there is evidence particularly in the early period of the Second Temple—see below), and from which allocations would be made to the priests and the levites. The Temple also served as a storehouse for the royal weapons (e.g., the spears and shields of King David—II Kings 11:10; II Chron. 23:9; cf. I Sam. 21:10).

The Ministers in the Temple

The right to serve in the Temple was assigned to the priests who where descended from Aaron (as mentioned frequently in the Pentateuch; see also Ps. 115:10; 135:19). Even before the building of the Temple, the star of the priestly families of Abiathar and Eli had set, and only members of the family of Zadok served as high priests. The levites, "the house of Levi" (Ps. 135:20), included the singers to the accompaniment of instruments, as well as the gatekeepers and those appointed to be "in charge of the treasuries of the house of God and the treasuries of the dedicated gifts" (e.g., I Chron. 26:20). The levites also assisted the priests in various services (for details see Priests).

In addition to these Israelite functionaries, non-Israelites, Nethinim, also served in the Temple (for details see Gibeonites and Nethinim). They were descendants of the Gibeonites (cf. Josh. 9:23, 27) and of the "Servants of Solomon" (Ezra 2:58; Neh. 7:60), i.e., members of the other Canaanite peoples whom David and Solomon had made "a levy of bondservants." Ezekiel (44:9) expresses opposition to the service in the Temple of "all the foreigners who are among the people of Israel," but this opposition proved fruitless (see Ezra 2:43–58). The duty of the Nethinim was apparently to perform menial tasks such as the hewing of wood and the drawing of water (see Josh. 9:27).

The king also enjoyed a certain status of holiness in the Temple (I Kings 8:64; 9:25; cf. II Sam. 6:17; 8:18, and see above), but in contrast to the priests, he was not permitted to enter the hekhal or to burn incense (II Chron. 26:16). Nevertheless, he had the right to draw up the plan for the building of the Temple (I Kings 6–7; I Chron. 28:11ff.), to determine the celebration of festivals (I Kings 8:65—66), to consecrate the inner court when occasion demanded it (I Kings 8:64), to alter the form and position of the altar (II Kings 16:10–16), to add sacrifices for given purposes (II Chron. 29:20–21), and to designate the courses of the priests and the levites (II Chron. 29:25).


The Temple was regarded as a national center, and since it was, moreover, the abode of the ark, it was considered to be the site of the revelation of the Divine Presence and hence also the preferred place for prayer (I Kings 8:22–53; cf. Josh. 7:6–9; I Sam. 1:10–16; II Sam. 7:18–29). To it, the individual Israelite would direct his supplications even from afar (I Kings 8:44–48; cf. Dan. 6:11), in the belief that man's prayer would reach it even from the most remote places (Jonah 2:5, 8). There the people would gather in times of distress (Joel 2:15–16), when the priests would weep "between the vestibule and the altar" (Joel 2:17).

The growth of the Temple's importance as a religious center was bound up in large measure with the struggle against the high places, which appears to have become intensified in Judah with the political breach in the nation after the death of Solomon. During the reign of the dynasty of Omri the practice of idolatry gained ground in Israel, even as it did in Judah in the days of Athaliah. By the very nature of things, idolatrous practices were concentrated especially in localities not subject to official supervision, that is, at the local high places. This brought about a sharpening of the conflict, which, in turn, led to an increased emphasis upon the special significance of the Temple in Jerusalem, and, ultimately in the reign of Hezekiah and Josiah, to the prohibition of the use of the high places and to the centralization of worship in the Temple.

This enhanced significance of the Temple in Jerusalem is apparent especially in the statements of the prophets. Although they opposed sacrifices and prayer as "a commandment of men learned by rote" (Isa. 1:10–15; Jer. 14:11–12, et al.), there is not the slightest trace in their utterances of any intention of belittling the Temple itself. The Temple Mount, Mt. Zion, is, in their words, the mountain of the Lord, the holy mountain (Isa. 11:9; 56:7; 65:11, 25; Joel 2:1; 4:17; Zeph. 3:11, et al.), wherein the Lord dwells (Ps. 74:2), and the Temple is the house of the God of Jacob and the Lord's house (Isa. 2:2–3; Jer. 23:11; Ezek. 8:14, 16; Joel 1:13–16; Micah 4:1–2; Haggai 1:14, et al.). Like its earlier counterpart, Shiloh, the Temple is the place whereon God's name is called (Jer. 7:12, 30; 34:15), "a glorious throne set on high from the beginning" (Jer. 17:12), the habitation of the Divine Presence (Ezek. 9:3; 43:5–9; Joel 4:17, 21; Hab. 2:20, et al.), the place from which the Divine Presence reveals itself to the prophet (Isa. 6:1; Amos. 1:2; 9:1); and in "the end of days" the Temple is destined to be the place of prayer for Israel (Isa. 27:13; Jer. 31:5; 33:10–11) and for all the nations (Isa. 2:2–3; 56:7; 66:20, 23). With the destruction of the Temple, much prophecy begins to center around the vision of its reconstruction. The beginning of this transition is to be found in Ezekiel, who has a vision of the future Temple (chs. 40–48); its climax and culmination are reached in the later prophets, who are the chief advocates of its rebuilding in their own day (Haggai 1–2; Zech. 1:16; 2:15; 6:12; 8:3; 22:23) and of the purification of its worship (Mal. 1–3).

[Yehoshua M. Grintz]



The Temple of Zerubbabel

The Jerusalem Temple is a major focus of attention in post-Exilic biblical books. Deutero-Isaiah foretells that Cyrus shall be divinely charged with the task of restoring the Temple (Isa. 44:28). The Chronicler ends his account (II Chron. 36:22–23) and the Book of Ezra begins its account with the fulfillment of this prophecy (Ezra 1:1ff.), referring to the earlier word of Jeremiah (cf. Jer. 29:10). Issued in 538 B.C.E., after his conquest of Babylon, Cyrus' rescript relates the return exclusively to the reconstruction of the Temple. The repatriates were to be aided by the Jews remaining behind and by their gentile neighbors. Temple vessels taken as booty by Nebuchadnezzar were delivered by the treasurer Mithridates to the Davidic prince Sheshbazzar for return to Jerusalem (Ezra 1:7ff.).

Although one source speaks of Sheshbazzar, with the title of governor, as having indeed laid the foundations for the Temple (Ezra 5:14ff.), another credits his nephew (?) Zerubbabel and the priest Jeshua with the honor. Despite intimidation from their neighbors they established an altar in the seventh month (year-), reinstituted the sacrificial cult, and offered up the special sacrifices required for the festival of Tabernacles. All was performed "as written in the Torah of Moses the man of God" (Ezra 3:1ff.).

Masons and carpenters were engaged for the construction, and cedars from Lebanon were ordered from the Sidonians and Tyrians, to be shipped to Jaffa. Expenses were to be borne by the royal treasury and a memorandum of a royal decree to this effect was recorded in the archives in Ecbatana in Media. It included the dimensions of the Temple and the architectural feature that it was to be built with three courses of stone and one of timber (Ezra 3:7; 6:1ff.). A similar feature was recorded for the courtyard of Solomon's Temple (I Kings 6:36; 7:12). Unfortunately the figures for the dimensions appear to be corrupt; they are: "its height sixty cubits, its width sixty cubits" (Ezra 6:3). On the basis of the dimensions of the Solomonic Temple (I Kings 6:2) and the Peshitta, the text has been restored, "its height [thirty] cubits, [its length] sixty [cubits], its width [thirty] cubits."

Levites were appointed to direct the work. The laying of the foundations was accompanied by a ceremony, the priests blowing the trumpets and the levites, sons of Asaph, handling the cymbals. They chanted psalms of praise in fulfillment of the word of Jeremiah (Jer. 33:10–11) and the people raised their voices in mixed cries of joy and sounds of weeping (Ezra 3:8ff.). When the neighboring peoples heard that building was actually under way, they asked to participate in the project. They claimed to have been settled on the land by the Assyrian king Esarhaddon (681–669 b.c.e.) and to have been worshiping the God of Israel since then. Their request was rejected on the grounds that to the repatriates only had Cyrus given permission to build. Thus rebuffed, the neighbors turned into enemies and by one means or another brought the building operation to a halt (Ezra 4:1ff.).

The work on the Temple, begun in the second month of the second year of the Exiles' return (Ezra 3:8), was not resumed until Elul 24 in the second year of King Darius (Haggai 1:15). If it is assumed that the chronological calculation in the periphery of Judah was the same as that in the center of the Persian Empire, then this date would have been September 21, 520. Rebellions in the eastern provinces had been put down, but Egypt was still in revolt. On Elul 1 (August 29) Haggai turned to Zerubbabel and Jeshua and rebuked them for listening to the people who said "the time has not yet come to rebuild the Temple." The prophet attributed recent drought and poor economic conditions to failure to build the Temple. Undertaking the task would bring prosperity, he assured them (Haggai 1:1ff.). Shortly after work was begun, a second prophecy of encouragement was uttered on Tishri 21 (October 17—Haggai 2:1ff.), and the words of Haggai were soon taken up by Zechariah (Zech. 1:1ff.). The laying of the foundation is dated to Kislev 24 (December 17—Haggai 2:18), and both prophets foresaw the onset of earthshaking events and hinted at the establishment of Zerubabbel's independent rule (Haggai 2:6ff., 20ff.; Zech. 1:16–17; 4:6ff.; 6:12–13).

Connected as it was with thinly veiled messianic aspirations, the renewed building of the Temple aroused the suspicions of Tattenai, governor of Trans-Euphrates and his subordinate Shethar-Bozenai. The two rulers came to Jerusalem with their staff to investigate the situation. They were informed of the decree by Cyrus, and wrote to Darius for corroboration (Ezra 5). Word came back confirming the decree and authorizing the work to continue, now as before at royal expense. Regular sacrifices for the welfare of the king and his family were likewise to be subsidized by the royal treasury. Interference in the building project was subject to the penalty of death (Ezra 6:1ff.). As the work proceeded apace, Jews became anxious to abolish the days of mourning for the Temple's destruction (Zech. 7). Work was finally completed on the third of Adar in the sixth year of Darius (March 12, 515). The dedicatory sacrifices consisted of 100 bulls, 600 small cattle, and 12 he-goats as purificatory sacrifice. The last number signified the unity of the 12 tribes, and the amount of all three sacrificial groups was worked out in proportion to the number of sacrifices offered at the dedication of Solomon's Temple (I Kings 8:63).

Although there is no description of the construction of the Temple or its layout, as there is for Solomon's Temple (I Kings 6–7) and for that projected by Ezekiel (Ezek. 40ff.), scattered references permit a partial picture. Around the Temple there were two courtyards with chambers, and gates, and a public square. The assembly convened by Ezra to dissolve the mixed marriages was held in the Temple plaza (Ezra 10:9). On the Ophel and in the area between the outer Temple wall and the city wall to the east the temple servants (Nethinim) and priests had their dwellings. This northeastern part of the wall, beginning with the Horse Gate, was repaired, under Nehemiah's direction, by the priests, "each one in front of his own house." Among these were Shemaiah son of Shecaniah, keeper of the East Gate (of the Temple courtyard), and Meshullam son of Berechiah who worked opposite his chamber. Malchijah the goldsmith worked across from the Muster Gate of the Temple courtyard (Neh. 3:26ff.).

Temple chambers played a prominent role in the events of the period. Ezra brought with him from Babylon silver, and gold, and vessels for deposit in the Temple chambers (Ezra 8:25ff.). His confessional concerning mixed marriages took place in front of the Temple. Upon conclusion, he repaired to the chamber of Jehohanan son of Eliashib where he spent the night in fasting and mourning (Ezra 10:1–6). Another Eliashib, in charge of the Temple chambers and related to Tobiah, assigned him a large chamber where vessels, meal offerings, and frankincense, tithes of grain, wine, and oil for the levites, singers, and gatekeepers, as well as the priestly offerings were ordinarily stored. The assignment of this chamber had been made during Nehemiah's absence from Jerusalem, and upon his return he expelled Tobiah and his possessions from the chamber, purified it, and once again he stored the Temple vessels, meal offerings, and frankincense there (Neh. 13:4ff.).

The earlier pact to observe the Torah, pushed through by Nehemiah, had sought to provide for the orderly functioning of the Temple cult and the sure support of its personnel. It stipulated an annual contribution of one-third of a shekel to finance the regular daily and festal sacrificial service and obligated everyone to supply, in rotation by lots, wood for the altar. Firstfruits were to be brought to the Temple annually not only from the produce of the soil but also from the orchard. The redemption of the human firstborn and of the impure animals was to be carried out at the Temple. There the priests were to receive the firstborn of the clean animals. Other offerings brought to them and stored in the Temple chambers included the meal offering (cf. Num. 15:17ff.) and the priestly offering from the produce of the soil and from the fruit of the tree (cf. Num. 18:12ff.; Deut. 18:4). The most far-reaching requirement was the tithe offering, formerly voluntary (Num. 18:21ff.) but now obligatory annually, to be given not only to the levites (contrast Deut. 14:22ff.) but also to the singers and gatekeepers. The levite was to go out to the fields and collect the tithe in the presence of a priest. A tenth of the tithe was due the priest and was deposited in the Temple chambers along with the other priestly offerings (Neh. 10:33ff.).

In view of the relatively small number of levites in contrast to the large number of priests (cf. Ezra 2:37ff. = Neh. 7:39ff.; Neh. 10:2ff.; 12: 1ff.), it was utopian to have believed that the levitical tithe could be made obligatory. Initial efforts to have the tithe, like the priestly offerings, brought to the Temple chambers (Neh. 12:44) for distribution there failed. The portions of the levites were not being delivered, and out of economic need they and the singers fled Jerusalem to work their fields in the country. During Nehemiah's second tour of duty he sought to rectify the situation by firm action. He rebuked the Jerusalem officials for neglecting the levites, gathered them again into the city, reinstituted the practice of bringing the tithe to the Temple storeroom, and appointed special officials—Shelemiah the priest, Zadok the scribe, Pedaiah the levite, and Hanan son of Zaccur son of Mattaniah—to supervise the collection and guarantee the distribution (Neh. 13:9ff.). Now that all the sacred offerings, of priests and levites, were being brought to Jerusalem, it was necessary to organize these cultic officials into fixed groupings with regular periods of service. Earlier lists of priestly families varied from two (Ezra 8:2) to four (Ezra 2:36ff. = Neh. 7:39ff.) to 21 (Neh. 10:3ff.; 12:1–7). The list of 24 divisions attributed by the Chronicler to David (I Chron. 24–25) may have originated from the organizational activity of Nehemiah. He determined that the regular supply of wood for the altar was to follow a fixed plan and not be determined by lots, and he also organized the manner by which the firstfruits were to be brought to Jerusalem (Neh. 13:30–31).

Nehemiah, then, more than any other person, was responsible for the organization of the Temple cult, and he concluded his memoirs by an appeal to God to remember him favorably (Neh. 13:29–30). A very discouraging picture of the cult, however, is presented by the prophet Malachi, who may have prophesied after Nehemiah. The people are accused of not bringing the tithes and priestly offerings to the Temple storehouse and of bringing to the altar unfit animals, the likes of which they would not dare bring to the governor. The priests are rebuked for betraying their charge (Mal. l:7ff.; 2:8; 3:8ff.). Intermarriage was considered by him a profanation of the sanctuary and excessive divorce reason for rejection by God of the people's offerings (2:10ff.). But the Lord would appear in His Temple, punish the wicked, and purify the priesthood so that "the offering of Judah and Jerusalem would be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old and as in former years" (3:1ff.).

The restoration of the Temple cult was closely bound up with the efforts of the repatriates, or at least certain of their leaders, to maintain a sacred exclusivity. Yet the policy that was ultimately to prevail in Judaism was that proclaimed by Deutero-Isaiah on the eve of the Return. The foreigner who observed the covenant of God, especially the Sabbath, would be entitled to sacrifice in His Temple—"for my House shall be called a House of prayer for all peoples" (Isa. 56:6–7).

[Bezalel Porten]

The Hellenistic Period

When Judea came under Greek rule, following the campaign of Alexander the Great, there was a closely knit Jewish population centered around the Temple in Jerusalem. Simeon the Just (Jos., Ant. 12:43, 157, 158), fortified the sanctuary (apparently by the erection of the Western Wall, which served to defend it from the city side), and dug a large reservoir within the confines of the Temple Mount (Ecclus. 50:2ff.). Ben Sira's description (loc. cit.) of Simeon's officiating in the Temple reflects the early stages of the highly impressive service which in time became customary (see later). The Hellenistic kings respected the Temple and lavished gifts upon it. Antiochus III was particularly generous; he donated wine, oil, frankincense, fine flour, ordinary flour, and salt from his own revenues and also provided wood for the Temple's construction and repair. Like the Persian rulers before him, he exempted all Temple functionaries, including scribes, from the payment of royal taxes (Jos., Ant. 12:140–2). Seleucus IV followed in his footsteps in this respect, covering all the expenses connected with the offering of the sacrifices (II Macc. 3:3); although this did not deter him, when he was later in financial straits, from sending his officer Heliodorus to Jerusalem to seize the contents of the Temple treasury (his design was frustrated: see II Macc. 3:5ff.). The attitude of the Seleucid monarchs changed radically in the days of Antiochus IV Epiphanes. On his way back from Egypt in 169 B.C.E., Antiochus broke into the Temple, and carried off its precious vessels; two years later he erected the "abomination of desolation" on the altar, turning the building into a temple of Zeus. The sacred services were suspended for over three years, being renewed only after the conquest of Mount Zion and the Temple by Judah Maccabee, celebrated in the institution of the festival of Hanukkah (I Macc. 4:58; II Mac. 1:9; 2:18). Judah also fortified Mount Zion, surrounding it with a wall in order to defend the Temple (I Macc. 4:59), especially from danger from the west, where the Greek-held Acra fortress was situated. From that time on the Temple service continued to be held without interruption, even when the Greeks succeeded in reasserting their control. In the days of Simeon the Hasmonean (141–135 B.C.E.) the Acra was razed, making the Temple henceforward the highest point in the city (Jos., Ant. 13:217). Important innovations were made in the Temple service in the time of John Hyrcanus II (TJ, Sot. 9:11; Tosef., Sot. 10:3).

[Yehoshua M. Grintz]

From the Roman Conquest until the Destruction

When Pompey conquered Jerusalem he entered the sanctuary and penetrated into the Holy of Holies (Jos., Wars 1:152), but left everything undisturbed. However, when Crassus passed through the country on his way to Parthia several years later, he plundered the Temple treasury of 2,000 silver talents (Jos., Ant. 14:105). An important landmark in Temple history is its renovation by Herod. Agrippa II renewed the eastern porticos (Ant. 20:220). During his reign the priests erected a wall on the western side of the inner court, in order to screen the altar service from the eyes of those feasting in the new royal banquet hall which the king had constructed in his palace in the Upper City (Ant. 20:189–92). The Temple porticos were damaged several times during the period of unrest preceeding the rebellions against Rome in the days of Varus (Jos., Wars 2:49) and later those of Gessius Florus (ibid., 2:330, 405); each time, however, they were repaired. In Pontius Pilate's time, the aqueduct which ran from the Hebron area to Jerusalem entered the Temple Mount (Wars 2:175). During the Roman war, in 70 C.E., John of Giscala fortified himself in the Temple (the inner court was held for a time by Eleazar b. Simeon). In his struggle with Simeon b. Giora, John erected towers at the corners of the Temple (Wars 4:58).

The appointment of the high priests by the civil authorities—a custom which was inaugurated by Herod—led to a decline in the status of the office but also increased the Pharisees' control over the details of the service. The appointment of an honorary guard over the vestments of the high priest, originally made by the royal authorities and then taken over by the Roman governors, was a source of friction between the Roman government and the Temple authorities. A special rescript promulgated by Claudius (c. 46 C.E.) transferred the appointment of this guard of honor to the Temple authorities. The outbreak of the Roman war was signalized by the cessation of the sacrifice offered for the well-being of the Roman emperor (Wars 2:409ff.; Git. 56a).

With the siege of Jerusalem, the Temple became the focus of the whole war. The Romans' first step toward capturing the Temple Mount was their breach of the wall of the Fortress of Antonia (on the third of Tammuz). On the ruins of this fortress, they constructed a ramp which reached the inner wall of the court in four places (Wars 6:150–1). On the 17th of Tammuz the tamid sacrifice ceased to be offered (Ta'an. 4:6)—possibly because there were no priests available capable of performing the prescribed service (Wars 6:94). The Temple porticos were destroyed by fire between the 22nd and 28th of Tammuz (ibid., 164–8; 177–9, 190–2). The frequent Roman assaults on the wall of the court were repulsed until the eighth of Av, when Titus gave orders to set fire to the gates of the court (ibid., 241). The next day a council was held at the Roman headquarters to decide upon the fate of the Temple. According to Josephus (ibid.), Titus did not want the Temple to be demolished, but a different source, probably based on Tacitus, states that he demanded its destruction. In Josephus' account the burning of the Temple is accidental, resulting from a Roman soldier having thrown a burning torch through a window into one of the Temple chambers on the north side. In spite of Titus' efforts to contain the flames (so Josephus says), another torch was thrown against the Temple gate (apparently the gate of the sanctuary because the entrance hall was not closed by a gate), and the entire building went up in flames, except for two gates (Wars 6:281). The Jewish defenders fought with desperate bravery until the very last, and when they saw the edifice go up in flames many threw themselves into the fire. According to Josephus (Wars, 6:248–50) the catastrophe occurred on the tenth of Av in the year 70 C.E.; according to the Talmud (Ta'an. 29a) on the ninth. Some of the Temple vessels were saved from destruction and fell into the hands of the Romans. They are depicted on one of the reliefs on Titus' victory arch in Rome (see Titus, Arch of).

[Michael Avi-Yonah]


The First Building

Those who returned from the Exile looked upon the Second Temple as a continuation of the First and tried to reconstruct an exact replica of it. Due to their poverty, however, they were not able to adorn it with all its original splendor, and many of the old men who had seen the First Temple in all its glory wept when they saw the modest proportions of the new foundation (Ezra 3:12; Tob. 14:5). At the beginning of the Persian period, therefore, the Temple was of modest proportions and simply adorned, but as the economic position of the Jews in Judea improved and the number of Jews the world over increased, they continued to add to the Temple structure and to beautify it. In Ben Sira (50:1–2) it is related that in the days of Simeon the son of Onias the high priest (first half of the second century B.C.E.) "the Temple was fortified [and]... the wall was built [having] turrets for protection like a king's palace." The Greek text of Ben Sira tells that in the author's day the "Temple Mount" was established—i.e., the open flat area around the Temple proper was created; foundations were laid and earth was piled on top of them until the level of the square surrounding the Temple was increased to twice its original height. A wall was also built along the southern and western perimeters of the Mount. On the east and north it was fortified by the city wall.

At the time of the internecine struggle between the Hassideans and the Hellenizers, in the days of Antiochus IV and during the period when his decrees forbidding the practice of Judaism were in force, the daily offering was suspended, and the altar was profaned. When Judah the Maccabee and his men succeeded in reentering Jerusalem and reconsecrating the desecrated Temple, they pulled down the altar, and placed its stones in one of the chambers in the Temple precincts (Mid. 1:6). Later the Hellenizing high priest Alcimus (who was appointed in 161 B.C.E. by Demetrius I to succeed Menelaus) made breaches in the soreg—the fence cutting off the portion open to gentiles, beyond which they were forbidden to go—but later, in the days of Jonathan the Hasmonean, the breaches were repaired. (This is the background of Mid. 2:3 "And there were 13 breaches which had been made by gentile kings. They mended them and in connection with them they ordained 13 prostrations.") In Hasmonean times the walls of the Temple Mount were also fortified, so that it became the highest fortification in the city (Jos., Wars 5:245). The first bridge (i.e., the northern one) connecting the Upper City and the Temple Mount was probably also constructed at this time.

Reconstruction by Herod

In the 18th year of his reign, Herod decided to rebuild the Temple (Ant. 15:380), and in order to allay the fears of the people and avoid their wrath, he completed all the preparations for the new building before demolishing the existing structure. A thousand priests were trained to be stonemasons and builders, so that they could do the necessary work in the inner portions of the Temple where non-priests were forbidden to enter, and all the building materials were assembled, as well as around a thousand wagons to transport the stones (Ant. 15:390–1). The Mishnah has preserved various traditions concerning the extreme care with which the halakhah was kept in all that related to the Temple's construction in Herod's day. For the erection of the altar and the ramp by which the priests ascended to it, unhewn stones were quarried from under the virgin ground of the Beth-Cherem Valley. No iron touched them in the process (Mid. 3:4). While sacrifices were being offered curtains were drawn before the sanctuary (hekhal) and the courts, both so as to enable the worship to continue undisturbed and to conceal the inner portion of the Temple from the eyes of the multitude (Eduy. 8:6). In spite of the large-scale preparations and the diligence of the workmen, the building operations continued for 46 years (John 2:2), and shortly before its destruction various finishing touches were still being put to the edifice (Ant. 20:219). During the Herodian renovation the area of the Temple Mount was doubled. This was accomplished by constructing gigantic supporting walls and filling in the intervening area. Around the forecourt thus created, porticos were built. The second bridge, which connected the southern portion of the Temple Mount with the Upper City, was built at this time. The sanctuary itself was raised 40 cubits and broadened 30 cubits and its facade was renewed. The edifice was built of white stone. Its gates and many of its decorations were plated with silver and gold (Wars 5:223). Talmudic tradition too emphasizes the splendor of the building: "He who has not seen the Temple of Herod has never in his life seen a beautiful building (BB 4a). The descriptions of the Temple found in Jewish literature, talmudic and other, from the end of the Second Temple period reflect, for the most part, the building as it was after the Herodian reconstruction. There are three main sources for details of the Temple: talmudic literature, particularly the tractates Middot, Tamid, Yoma, and Shekalim; Josephus' Antiquities (15:380–425 and his Jewish Wars (5:184–247); and archaeological findings, including especially inscriptions.

The Temple Mount is surrounded by the remnants of a wall. With the exception of the northern side and northern half of the western side this wall was examined by Warren during 1864–67, and from 1967 by B. Mazar; they reached the conclusion that it dates from Herodian times. Its foundations are at present deep underground (25 meters at the southeast corner and 21 meters at the Western Wall), but in ancient times, too, part of it was below ground level. These lower layers were built of ashlars with wide marginal dressings and protruding surfaces, whereas those visible to the eye while the Temple stood where of stones with low, smooth projections and double margins. The largest stone found in the Western Wall is 12 meters (c. 40 ft.) long, but the most massive is in the 28th layer on the southern side which is the level of the threshold of the gates to the Temple: it is 7 meters (c. 24 ft.) long, 1.85 (c. 6 ft.) high, and weighs over 100 tons. Herod's aim was to create a rectangular platform and this necessitated large-scale changes in the topography of the Temple Mount. In order to level the ground, 5–14 meters (17–58 ft.) of the stone at the northwestern corner were hewn away. On the other hand, a small valley which ran in a southeasterly direction along the length of the old wall of the Temple Mount down to the Kidron had to be filled in. A wall 38 meters (c. 124 ft.) high was constructed and then the pit thus created was filled in with earth. At the southwest corner the direction of the Tyropoeon Valley, which used to cut across the Temple Mount, was deflected. The highest point of the rock at the southeast corner, which faces the Kidron Valley, was 47 meters (c. 154 ft.) lower than the level of the planned Temple area. Herod therefore had this space filled with stones and earth to the height of 30 meters (c. 98 ft.), on top of which he built a vaulted structure 88 meters (c. 290 ft.) long (known today as "Solomon's Stables").

The Mishnah (Mid. 1:3) mentions only five gates to the Temple Mount: the two gates of Huldah on the south, Coponius' Gate in the west (called after Coponius the first Roman procurator of Judea), the Gate of Tadi in the north, and the Shushan Gate in the east. This description fits the archaeological findings except for the western side. Two gates and a bridge have been found on this side. According to the statement of Josephus there were four gates on the west (Ant. 15:401). On the south the remains of two gates have been found, known today as the "Double Gate" and the "Triple Gate." From these gates vaulted underground passageways lead up to the area on the Temple Mount. Of the "Double Gate" there remains the threshold to the lintel, which is from the period of the Second Temple, and also the entrance hall containing a central pillar and four arches, in two of which some decoration is still discernible; this too apparently dates from Temple times. Of the "Triple Gate" only a portion of the original doorpost remains. The width of the passageways is 5.5 meters (c. 18 ft.), and in the "Double Gate" 11 meters (c. 36 ft.). In the Western Wall an arch and a bridge have been discovered (Wilson's Arch) which connected the Temple Mount with Herod's palace (at the site of the present "citadel"). Another gate, on the southern side of the Western Wall, is now known as Barclay's Gate. The length of its lintel is 7.5 meters (c. 25 ft.) and its height 2.08 meters (c. 7 ft.). The threshold of this gate is lower than all the others and steps apparently led down from it to the Tyropoeon Valley. One of these two gates may possibly be identified with the Coponius Gate of the Mishnah. At the southern end of the Western Wall remains are still visible which are known as "Robinson's Arch" (see Jerusalem). The Gate of Tadi had no lintel, but consisted of two stones slanting against each other, a triangular form witnessing to the gate's antiquity (Mid. 2:3). On the doors of the Shushan Gate was a picture of Persepolis. This gate, which was undoubtedly on a direct axis with the Temple, was south of the "Mercy Gates" (i.e., the "Golden Gates") which can be seen in the Eastern Wall today. The Eastern Wall was lower than all the others, so as not to obstruct the view of the sanctuary from the eyes of the priest burning the red heifer on the top of the Mount of Olives (Mid. 2:4).

From the Eastern Gate a bridge supported by arches spanned the Kidron Valley; it was called "the heifer's gangway" (Par. 3:10; Shek. 4:2). A second bridge, called "the scapegoat's gangway," extended from the southern end of the Eastern Wall toward the desert. Remains of it have been found close to the southeastern corner of the Temple Mount (Shek. 4:2).

The length of the walls of the Temple Mount were 281 meters (c. 915 ft.) on the south, 466 meters (c. 1520 ft.) on the east, 488 meters (c. 1590 ft.) on the west, and 315 meters (c. 1,025 ft.) on the north, a sum total of 1,550 meters (5,050 ft.; the area of the Temple Mount is 144,000 sq. m. (c. 169,000 sq. yds). Marks on the inside face of the Western Wall indicate that buttresses divided the upper portion of the wall into niches (like the wall surrounding the Cave of Machpelah at Hebron which is also Herodian). The wall had embrasures, and guards chosen from among the levites were posted at its corners and gates. Around the wall-at least at the southwestern end—was an adjoining plaza whose different levels were connected by steps. Shops were built on the lower levels underneath this plaza.

The Temple Square

The Temple square, which was open to everyone, including gentiles, lay within the wall. It was surrounded by porticos which at the northwest corner joined up with the Fortress of Antonia. The porticos consisted of two rows of columns, each one 25 cubits high, and their roofs were flat. The one on the east was thought to be the most ancient, and Josephus ascribes it to Solomon's day. It was known as "The Street of the House of the Lord," and as early as Ezra's day was used as a place for mass gatherings (Ezra 10:9). The largest and most famous of the porticos was that situated on the southern end of the Temple Mount, known as the "Royal Portico." According to Josephus (Ant. 15:415) it was 185 meters (c. 620 ft.) long. Since the southern wall of the Temple Mount is longer, it was apparently reached by steps leading up to it at either end. The "Royal Portico" had the form of a basilica, i.e., a central oblong hall with a colonnade leading out from each side. Between them ran four rows of columns, 7 meters (c. 23 ft.) high (hewn columns of this height have been found lying on stony terrain in several places in the Jerusalem area, such as have been discovered in Jerusalem in the Russian Compound, Mahaneh Yehudah and elsewhere; they seem to have cracked in the course of being quarried and were therefore abandoned). The width of the central hall was 15 meters (c. 50 ft.), and its height 30 meters (100 ft.); the colonnades were 10 meters (c. 33 ft.) wide and 16 meters (c. 53 ft.) high. The porticos of the square as far as the soreg were thronged with people, and both merchants and money changers were to be found there. The money changers (whom Jesus tried to remove; see Matt. 21:12; Mark 11:15; Luke 19:45) converted the light Roman coins to the Tyrian shekel which was thought to be equivalent in value to the "Holy Shekel." The merchants sold doves and whatever else was needed for the sacrifices. Here too preachers harangued the multitudes (Matt. 21:23ff.).

At the end of the court was a soreg (a stone lattice work) which surrounded the consecrated area—the Temple Mount proper in the narrow mishnaic sense, i.e., the "500 cubits by 500 cubits" (Mid. 2:1). According to the Mishnah (Mid. 2:3) the height of the soreg was 10 handbreadths (70 cm. = 28 in.), but Josephus states that it was 3 cubits (1.5 m. = 5 ft.); this latter measurement seems more appropriate for a fence to which were attached plaques written in Greek and Latin forbidding gentiles to pass that point on pain of death. Remains of these inscriptions bearing the Greek text (one complete plaque and one partly preserved) have been discovered in Jerusalem (in 1870 and 1936). Beyond the soreg were 14 steps and then the hel ("rampart"), which was 10 cubits (5 m. = 17 ft.) broad (Mid. 2:3; Wars 5:195–7). Beyond the hel were the wall of the main forecourt (azarah), and the Court of the Women (ezrat nashim). In the outer court were the store-chambers for the shekels and the Temple vessels, and also "shofarot" (chests in the form of horns, i.e., narrow at the top, where the opening was, and wider lower down) for the donations (terumot) of the people (Shek. 2:1).

The Courts

The Court of the Women (Mid. 2:5) was situated at the east of the Temple Court (before the Court of the Israelites and Priests). It was square, each side being 135 cubits long, and was not roofed over. In each of its four corners were square chambers (40 X 40 cubits) also unroofed (but apparently surrounded by porticos as a protection against the rain). At the southeast corner was the Nazirites' chamber, at the northwest the lepers'; the southwestern chamber was used for the storage of oil and that on the northeast for wood. A balcony surrounded the Court of the Women, from which the women used to watch the celebrations of the Feast of the Waterdrawing (Simhat Bet ha-Sho'evah) on the nights of Sukkot. The Court of the Women had four gates: the eastern one was very large (35 m. = c. 115 ft. high) and like the rest of the gates of the Temple (except for "Nicanor's Gate") was overlaid with plates of silver and gold (Wars 5:204–5). Secondary doors led into the Court of the Women from the north and from the south. The western gate was called Nicanor's Gate. Josephus uses the name Corinthian Gate—apparently because its brass plating was embossed with a highly artistic decoration of Corinthian work, and this is why Acts (3:2, 10) refers to it as the "Beautiful Gate." It was reached by an ascent of 15 steps, which were not rectangular, as were all the other stairs on the Temple Mount, but in the form of a semicircle (Mid. 2:5). On either side of the staircase (whose height was 3.5 m. = c. 12 ft.) were chambers (underneath the Court of the Israelites) in which the levites stored their musical instruments. Nicanor's Gate had two wicket doors. Next to it the sotah ("wayward woman") was given the "waters of bitterness" to drink. According to the Mishnah, Yoma 3:6, Queen Helena had a golden tablet made on which the biblical passage concerning the sotah was engraved, and it was probably set up here.

From the Court of the Women one ascended to the Court of the Israelites, which was actually that portion of the Court of the Priests open to all male Jews. Both of these courts were enclosed by an inside wall 20 meters high, on top of which were exhibited enemy spoils taken by the Hasmoneans and Herod. The Court of the Israelites' was long and narrow (135 X 11 cubits). It was set off from the Court of the Priests by blocks of large polished ashlars and according to others by the levites' stand and stairs leading up to it, so that the Court of the Priests was 2 1/2 cubits higher than that of the Court of Israelites. At the back of the Court of the Israelites, on either side of Nicanor's Gate, were two chambers: the northern one (to the right) was the chamber of Phinehas, keeper of the vestments, and the southern one (to the left) the chamber of the makers of the havitin ("cakes"; Mid. 1:4); these chambers seem to have opened on to the Court of the Priests. On the holidays the public used to crowd the narrow area allotted them—particularly on the Festival of Passover, and on the Festival of Sukkot at the close of the Sabbatical Year, when the king used to stand upon a wooden dais erected for the occasion (Sot. 7:8), to read the biblical portion traditionally assigned to him. Non-priests used to enter the Court of the Priests only for the purpose of "laying their hands" on the animal being sacrificed, for its slaughtering, and in the waving of the portions of the sacrificial animal (Kelim 1:8).

Most of the sacrificial rites took place in the Court of the Priests. The measurements of this court were 187 X 135 cubits, and it surrounded the sanctuary proper on all sides. In it stood the large altar which had a square base, each side measuring 32 cubits. It was at least 16 cubits high and at each of its four corners were "horns." The base was whitewashed. At the southwest corner of the altar were two vents—one on each side—through which the blood of the sacrifices drained, flowing from there through a conduit which eventually led to the Kidron. Underneath this corner, a slab a cubit square was set in the floor, which could be raised in order to reach underneath the altar to clean the conduits (Mid. 3:3). At this same corner there were also two cups into which the wine and the water libations were poured (Suk. 4:9). The altar was ascended by means of a ramp on its southern side, which was about half as wide as the altar itself. To the west of the ramp was an aperture where were placed the birds intended for a sin offering which had become disqualified for sacrifice prior to their removal to the place of their burning (Mid. 3:3; Tosef., Zev. 7:6). Between the altar and the front of the sanctuary proper was the laver, a copper appurtenance with twelve spigots, from which the priests washed their hands and feet. North of the altar was the slaughtering area where six rows of four rings were set in the floor, or perhaps four rows of six rings (Mid. 3:5). In front of the rings were light small marble pillars to which cedar beams were attached. Iron hooks were set into these blocks for the purpose of hanging sacrificed animals while they were skinned. Between the pillars were marble tables to facilitate preparing the sacrifices.

As indicated, the Court of the Priests was surrounded by a wall. There is a difference of opinion as to the number of gates which were to be found in it. According to Middot 1:4–5, and Josephus, Antiquities 15:418, there were seven gates (if one includes the Gate of Nicanor which properly speaking was not found at the entrance of the Court of the Priests, but rather in the Court of the Israelites which was open to the Court of the Priests). However elsewhere, in Middot (2:6), in Shekalim 6:3, and in Josephus' Jewish Wars, 5:198, the number is eight. The smaller number seems more likely. The names of the gates were as follows. From west to east on the northern end were the Gate of the Flame (bet ha-moked), the Gate of the Offerings, and the Gate of the Kindling (nizoz) which had an upper story where a priestly guard was stationed, whereas the guard below was made up of levites. On the southern side were the Gate of the Fuel, the Gate of the Firstlings, and the Water Gate (which was situated close to the laver within the Court of the Priests and the water conduit on the outside). The chambers of the azarah (the Temple Court) were between the gates (and sometimes above them). Their number too is uncertain. According to Middot 5:3 there were six. In addition, two "houses" were situated near the outer wall, one of which (the bet ha-moked) contained four chambers. Some of the chambers were situated partly inside and partly outside the sanctuary. Others were entirely within its area and some entirely without. If it is assumed that the order of the chambers in the azarah coincides with the order of the gates, then to the north were the chamber of the salt, the parvah chamber (Jastrow, following Maimonides, takes it to be a Persian proper name; others assume it comes from the Hebrew word parvah "animal skin"), and the rinsing chamber. Between the first two chambers stood the bet ha-moked, which also served as an entrance to the court, and contained four chambers, two inside and two outside the consecrated area, with blocks of polished stone separating them.

On the southwest was the Chamber of the (Lamb) Sacrifices, on the southeast the Chamber of the Shewbread Makers. On the northeast was the chamber containing the remnants of the defiled altar stored by the Hasmoneans, and on the northwest corner was the descent to the Chamber of Ritual Immersion (Bet ha-tevilah; Mid. 1:6). The approach to it was through a mesibbah (a winding staircase going underground) which is perhaps to be identified with the long cistern (no. 1) that extends northward from under the Dome of the Rock. The Chamber of Ritual Immersion itself may be the cistern (no. 3), which contains several rooms. The bet ha-moked was a sizable edifice covered by a dome. Broad slabs of stone were set into the inner circumference of the building, and upon them the priests of the watch slept. From the Rinsing Chamber (lishkat ha-madihim) another mesibbah led to the roof of the parvah chamber, where was situated the ritual bath in which the high priest immersed himself on the Day of Atonement. In spite of the fact that it was in an upper story, it was nevertheless on a lower level than the aqueduct reaching the Temple Court from the spring of Etam (Yoma 31a). South of the Temple Court was the Wood Chamber, the Chamber of the Bowl (containing the Cistern of the Bowl), and the Chamber of Hewn Stone, where the Sanhedrin sat (this chamber certainly adjoined the Court of the Israelites). Between these two chambers was the chamber of the house of Avtinas, where the incense was prepared. It was situated above the Water Gate and the high priest's chamber was outside it. The gates of the azarah were 20 cubits high and 10 cubits wide; they were approached from the hel by means of 12 steps (Mid. 2:3; according to Josephus five steps, but this number seems to be too small). The western side, where the devir (Holy of Holies) was, had no gates or steps, but Shekalim 6:3 concludes with the statement: "... and two in the west which had no names" (but cf. Mid. 1:4).

The Temple proper had the "form of a lion, narrow in the rear and broad at the front" (Mid. 4:7). The facade was square: 100 cubits wide and 100 cubits high. The rear of the building was the same height but it was only 70 cubits wide. The additional 30 cubits in the front consisted of two compartments, one on each side of the entrance hall. The facade was adorned with four pillars, possibly two stories high. Their capitals were certainly Corinthian. The building had a flat roof. The gate of the entrance hall was open and a large curtain was visible through it. Over the entrance were five wooden beams, narrow at the bottom and widening out at the top, laid between tiers of stone. The height of the entrance was 40 cubits and its breadth 20 (Mid. 3:7). The entrance hall itself was narrow, only 11 cubits. Along the ceiling joists of cedar were set, from which were suspended crowns (atarot) of gold, as well as golden chains which the young priests used to climb in order to clean and polish the crowns. Behind the entrance hall was the sanctuary (40 X 20 cubits), all of whose walls were plated with gold. The gate of the sanctuary was the "Great Gate" of the Temple, the turning of whose hinges was heard from afar (Tam. 3:8 "to Jericho"). It was 20 cubits high and 10 cubits broad and was shut by a bolt. It also had two wickers: the southern one was closed up, but the northern one served as a passageway to the compartment (ta) which led into the sanctuary. Over the gate of the sanctuary was the golden vine, to which the people used to donate a leaf or a pip of gold, or an entire cluster of grapes, which the priests would attach to it (Mid. 3:8).

Within the sanctuary stood the altar of incense, the table of shewbread, and the golden candelabrum with its appurtenances (the tongs and snuff-dishes). In the floor of the sanctuary was a loose marble slab, the dust from underneath which was used in the preparation of the "waters of bitterness." Around the sanctuary were 38 compartments arranged in three stories. Since the width of the walls diminished as they rose, the compartments in the upper stories were deeper than those below. On the north and south side there were five compartments on each level (i.e., 15 on either side), and on the western side there were eight compartments (three on the ground floor and the first floor, respectively, and two on the upper story). Within the wall against which the compartments were situated, there was a mesibbah which was reached through the compartment at the northeastern corner. This mesibbah led to the upper story of the sanctuary, which was 40 cubits high and contained wooden columns by means of which the flat roof of the upper story could be reached. With the upper story the height of the entire edifice was brought to the stipulated 100 cubits. The upper story was empty, and a row of polished ashlars (pesifasin) indicated the boundary between the sanctuary and the Holy of Holies below. Beyond this line were apertures in the floor of the upper story. When necessary, workmen were let down to repair the walls of the devir (Mid. 4:5). The Holy of Holies, which was situated at the western end of the sanctuary, was square (20 X 20 cubits). Two curtains separated it from the sanctuary. It contained no objects at all, and even the high priest entered it only once a year, on the Day of Atonement, in order to offer incense. The Mishnah (Kelim 1:6) defines ten degrees of sanctity which pertained to the different parts of the Temple and its environs: the Temple Mount was holier than the city of Jerusalem as a whole, the hel was holier than the outer portions of the Temple Mount, and so on in ascending degrees of sanctity, culminating in the Holy of Holies.

[Shmuel Safrai/Michael Avi-Yonah]



Tannaitic and amoraic literature contains a wealth of material describing the Temple ritual. Several mishnaic tractates, such as Tamid, Middot, and Yoma, are devoted to the description of the Temple ritual or they are based on the recollection of sages who lived when the Temple still stood, e.g., Simeon of Mizpah and Eliezer b. Jacob I, while priests and levites gave personal testimony as eyewitnesses. Eliezer b. Jacob is quoted as saying: "I forget for what purpose the Wood Chamber was used" (Mid. 5:4). Other rabbis who served as levites and priests in the Temple, such as R. Hanina Segan ha-Kohanim, R. Zadok, R. Johanan b. Gudgadah and R. Joshua b. Hananiah, also report miscellaneous details. Many rabbinic traditions relating to the Temple ritual have been preserved and transmitted in almost every midrashic work and talmudic tractate. Second only to the Mishnah are Josephus' works: the Wars, several of the books of the Antiquities, particularly books 3, 5, and 20, and his Contra Apionem. Much information is to be found in the New Testament and in early Christian tradition. Because of the Temple's central position in the life of the people, almost all of the literature dating from the Second Temple period, such as the Letter of Aristeas, Ben Sira (ch. 50), the Books of the Maccabees, the Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs, et al., make at least some mention of the Temple, and many of them treat it at length. The Greek and Roman writers also make passing mention of it in their writings concerning the Jews. Information with details of the Temple ritual dates for the most part from the generations immediately preceding its destruction. However, the general outlines of the ritual were set at the very beginning and the form of the Temple service hardly changed. Evidence of this continuity is the fact that the names of some of the most important functionaries in the Temple, such as the segan, amarkal, and the gizbar ("treasurer"), are of Persian and Assyrian origin and stem from long before the Hellenistic period.

Functionaries and Participants

PRIESTS. The priests officiated at the daily service. They alone were permitted to enter the sanctuary (hekhal) to approach the altar. They offered congregational sacrifices as well as those brought by individuals, burned the incense, lit the lamp in the sanctuary, and blessed the people. Even in respect to the tasks assigned to the levites, such as the singing of psalms and acting as gatekeepers, the priests participated, although maintaining their superior status. It was they who sounded the trumpets at the commencement of the singing and in the intervals between chapters. Wherever both priests and levites stood guard, the priests were stationed above, in the higher story, and the levites below (Mid. 1:5). Even those tasks whose performance was permitted by the halakhah to levites and Israelites at large—such as ritual slaughter of the animals to be sacrificed, and the accompanying of the scapegoat to the wilderness on the Day of Atonement—were not as a rule given over by the priests to others (Yoma 1:3). The priests were divided into 24 mishmarot ("divisions"), each of which served for a week at a time (see Mishmarot and Ma'amadot). About 20 priests were chosen by lot—the method used to assign the tasks connected with the Temple service—to offer the daily burnt offering (tamid), and in addition many more priests served in connection with offerings of individual sacrifices (Yoma 2; Tam. 3). Priests who came from the Diaspora were permitted to join their mishmar, except for those who had served in the Temple of Onias in Egypt (Men. 13:10). According to the letter of the law, a youth might begin to participate in the work of the Temple service as soon as he reached puberty, and was not disqualified "until he became old," no specific age being mentioned. However, "his brethren priests do not permit him to serve until he reaches the age of 20" (Hul. 24b; cf. Sif. Num. 63). Priests who were disqualified from participating in the Temple ritual because they had a physical blemish nevertheless went up with their mishmar, assisted in the work permitted them, in various secondary services, joined the other priests in the blessing of the people, and received their portion of the sacrifices since they were permitted to eat of them (Mid. 2:5; Tosef, Suk. 4:23). There is a wealth of sources attesting the faithfulness of the priests to the Temple and the Temple service, both in normal times and in hours of emergency. Even in times of famine the altar was served, nor did the priests touch the Temple food stores. When Pompey conquered Jerusalem and besieged the Temple, the priests continued with their ritual tasks in spite of the battering of the rams, and even when the Roman soldiers broke into the Temple and massacred the assembled people they went on with their sacred duties (Jos., Ant. 14:67).


During the Second Temple period all tasks directly connected with the offering of the sacrifices were taken away from the levites. In the descriptions of the Temple service in books dating from the beginning of the period, such as Ezra, Nehemiah, and Chronicles, the levites are always mentioned too, but in similar descriptions in later writers, such as Ben Sira and I Maccabees, the levites no longer appear. During the greater part of the Second Temple period, the only functions of the levites were as singers and gatekeepers; whereas the priests with their trumpets stood right by the altar, the choir of levites was stationed on a dais located on the boundary between the Court of the Priests and the Court of the Israelites (Mid. 2:10). The division of the levites by family, mentioned in I Chronicles 9, into choir members and gatekeepers was strictly preserved until the destruction of the Temple (Ar. 11b; Jos, Ant. 20:218). The gatekeepers were responsible for the supervision of the Temple visitors with a view to forbidding anyone ritually impure from entering its precincts. They also saw to the physical cleanliness and the general servicing of the Temple (Philo, Spec. 156, Praem. 6). They stood guard within the Temple day and night, and locked the Temple gates at the proper times. Shortly before the Temple's destruction, the Sanhedrin ruled that the levites were permitted to wear the priestly linen garb (Ant. 20:216). Like the priests, the levites were also divided into 24 divisions, but the further subdivision into battei av ("families") does not seem to have existed.


i.e., Jews who were neither priests nor levites, visited the Temple either:

(a) in order to offer sacrifices and to fulfill other ritual obligations connected with the Temple such as the bringing of gifts and offerings, the stipulated sacrifice after childbirth, or upon the purification from the defilement of leprosy, and so on;

(b) in order to pray there, particularly at the hours of the sacrifices but at other hours as well; or

(c) to serve in the Temple in addition to the priests as members of the ma'amadot (divisions of popular representatives deputed to accompany the daily services in the Temple with prayers).

In addition to the offering of the regular sacrifices, and the optional ones, such as those brought in connection with vows and freewill offerings, Nazirites came to the Temple when they completed the period of their vow bringing their sacrifice and cutting their hair; the lepers after their period of defilement brought an offering; and many came to the Temple to become purified from the defilement of contact with a dead person; etc. However, many people came to the Temple, not because of any ritual obligation, but simply to witness the service, most of which was performed in the open court. According to Luke (1:10) the people used to gather for prayer particularly at the time of the offering of the incense in the sanctuary, after the sacrificing of the daily burnt offering (tamid), in order to receive the priestly benediction, since the priests blessed the people after offering the incense. They also came to prostrate themselves before God at the time of the intonement of the daily hymn at the completion of the Temple service (Ecclus. 50; Tam. 7). The institution of the ma'amadot (see Mishmarot and Ma'amadot) was based upon the idea that the daily and festival sacrifices were obligatory upon the community as a whole, and that the priests were the emissaries not of God, but of the people (Sif. Zut., Shelah, beginning). Every individual was obliged to give the half-shekel for the communal offerings and, contrary to the views of the Sadducees, "no individual may donate the daily sacrifice" (Men. 65a), nor could "the sacrifice of an individual be offered if he was not present." For the same reason the members of the ma'amad stood by the priests while they offered up the daily sacrifices, and afterward they assembled for prayers and scriptural readings, and also fasted (Ta'an. 4:2; et al.).

Before a non-priest entered the Court he ritually immersed himself even if he was levitically clean (TJ, Yoma 3:3, 40b). A person had to remove his shoes before entering the Temple Mount, and many people made a point of dressing themselves in white (Jos., Wars beginning of Book II et passim). The Temple was open to all Israelites. Only those who had been excommunicated were prevented from entering the Temple (Eduy. 5:6; Jos., Ant. 19:332). Except for perpetrators of particularly heinous sins, sacrifices were also accepted from everyone: "sacrifices are accepted from the hands of transgressors so that they may repent" (Hul. 5a). In contrast to the customary practice in the other temples in the Orient, a person coming to the Temple in Jerusalem to offer a sacrifice did not have to make any payment for the privilege of sacrificing. He even received the necessary wood gratis from the Temple's stockpile (Sifra 14; Men. 21b). Those who visited the Temple did not turn their backs upon it when they went out, but rather went round the Temple Mount, keeping to the right and emerging by the gate on the left. On their way they prostrated themselves 13 times. According to one tradition, these prostrations corresponded to the 13 gates, but according to another they corresponded to the 13 breaches which the kings of Greece had made, and in this way they gave thanks to God for the repair of the breaches (Mid. 2:2; Shek. 6:1).


A regular staff supervised and instructed the divisions of priests and levites, who were relieved every week. These officials distributed the various duties among the priests of the mishmar by lot, supervised the watch, announced the opening and locking of the gates, regulated the sale of the libations and the birds for the sacrifices, and directed the details of the service. A partial list of these regular officials has been preserved in Shekalim chapter 5 and in the Tosefta chapter 2. The list contains mostly priests, but for the less important tasks levites are also mentioned. The positions seem to have been largely hereditary. Thus it is related that Bet Garmu, who were appointed over the preparation of the shewbread, and the Avtinas family, who prepared the incense, kept the technical details a secret within their own clan and refused to divulge them to others (TJ, Shek. 5:2, 49a). Besides those appointed over specific tasks, gizbarim ("treasurers") and amarkalim ("trustees") are mentioned. They did not deal with the daily work, but were responsible for the general administration of the Temple, as well as for the various Temple magazines and treasuries. In the hands of the amarkalim were the keys to the storehouses, and the gizbarim assessed the value of people, animals, or objects dedicated to the Temple, for the purpose of their redemption, superintended the collection of the half-shekel, the provision of the requirements for the altar, etc. The gizbarim and the amarkalim are usually mentioned together in the sources. Constituting a sort of governing body at the head of the Temple, they were related by blood to the high priesthood (Tosef., Men. 13:21), and represented the priestly order as a whole. To the list of Temple officials should be added two catholici (controllers of the Temple treasury). In order of importance the catholicos was between the high priest and the amarkal and the gizbar (TJ, Shek. 5:3, 49a), but the sources do not contain any details concerning the functions of this office. The officials served in pairs (except for two offices expressly stated in the Mishnah to have been held by a single official) since "authority may not be exercised over the community [in matters of money] by less that two [officers]": there were never fewer than three gizbarim and seven amarkalim.


At the head of the Temple was the high priest. Since in the days of the Second Commonwealth, the Second Temple enjoyed a central position in the life of the people, the high priest stood at the head of the people during most of this period. His position in the Temple found expression in his unique golden garb (which consisted of eight golden vestments), in the offering of the havitin ("cakes") in the name of the high priest together with the tamid sacrifice in the morning and in the afternoon, and in his independence of the division of the service among the mishmarot and battei av, for he could offer animal sacrifices and incense whenever he chose (Tam. 7:3). The high priest officiated at the Temple on the Sabbath and on holidays, particularly on Sukkot, which was celebrated in great pomp with the participation of great masses of people (TJ, Hag. 2:4, 78b; Jos., Wars 5:230; I Macc. 10:15–21). Especially striking was the part he played in the service of the Day of Atonement, which was performed entirely by the high priest himself. The most awesome moment of the service was the entrance of the high priest into the Holy of Holies to offer the incense—this being the only time during the entire year that anyone at all entered the Holy of Holies. The high priest also officiated on special occasions, such as the burning of the red heifer, and he read from the Torah at the close of the Sabbatical Year (see Hakhel).

Second in importance to the high priest was the segan, the chief of the priests. He attended the high priest when he ministered (Tam. 7:3) and supervised the sacrificing of the tamid and the regular daily Temple service in general. The segan is identical with the strategos mentioned by Josephus and the Christian Gospels. At the end of the Second Temple period the Pharisees ensured that the high priests, who were of the Sadducean faction, nevertheless performed the service in the proper Pharisaic manner. One of the means of Pharisaic control was the segan, who attended the high priest when he ministered and so could see that he did not deviate from the form prescribed by Pharisaic teaching. The holders of the office of segan who are known by name were all Pharisees.

The Daily Service

The essential element of the daily Temple service was the offering of the tamid sacrifice of two lambs, one in the morning, with which the service began, and one in the afternoon, with which it concluded. Between the two, sacrifices offered by individuals were brought: freewill offerings (nedavah), burnt offerings (olah), peace offerings (shelamim), thanks offerings (todah), and meal offerings (minhah) of various sorts; and obligatory sacrifices: sin offerings (hatta'ot), guilt offerings (asham), and all the various sacrifices connected with the rites of levitical purification of both men and women. The Bible contains no allusion to prayers accompanying the sacrifices. In the Second Temple, prayers, blessing, and Pentateuchal readings were added to the Temple service. After the offering of the incense, the priests gathered together on the steps of the entrance hall and blessed the assembled people with the Priestly blessing (Tam. 7:2). As the high priest entered the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement, he used to say a short prayer, and at the conclusion of his ministration he read certain portions from the Bible. During the offering of the incense the people used to gather in the azarah for prayer. The libation of wine at the conclusion of every tamid sacrifice was accompanied by levitical singing. After the service the members of the division of Israelites deputed to accompany the daily Temple services gathered for Scripture reading and prayer.

On the Sabbath, new moons, and festivals, a musaf ("additional sacrifice") of the day was offered immediately following the morning tamid. The number of animals offered at the musaf sacrifice differed on the different holidays. Besides the musaf, the special ceremonies peculiar to the festival were performed, such as the bringing of the Omer on the second day of Passover, the two breads on Shavuot, the procession with the lulav ("palm branch") and the libation of water on Sukkot. The special ceremonies performed on the festivals, both those of biblical origin and those which were instituted only during the Second Temple period, were for the most part related to the changing seasons of the year, and the masses of pilgrims who had gathered in Jerusalem for the holiday usually took part in them as spectators if not as actual participants.


The daily service began shortly after dawn with the proclamation: priests to their service (avodah); levites to their stand (dukhan), and Israelites to their post (ma'amad) (TJ, Shek. 5:2, 48d). The first act was the removal of ashes of the burnt sacrifices (deshen), since the whole night through a fire burned on the altar and consumed the limbs of the sacrifice placed upon it. Those who wished to draw lots for the privilege of performing this service arose early and performed their ritual ablution (tevilah) before the appointed official arrived. After the lots were drawn, the officer would open the wicker in the gate leading from the bet ha-moked to the azarah and the priests entered the court, "and they took with them two burning torches, and they divided into two groups. One went around the exedra [covered porch] eastward, and the other westward, seeing to it that all was in order, until they met at the chamber of the makers of the havitin [situated at the southern side of the Gate of Nicanor which was at the east]. After both groups arrived and announced: 'All is in order,' they set the makers of the havitin cakes to their task" (Tam. 1:3). The priest who had drawn the lot to remove the deshen approached the altar alone, but immediately after he began the task his fellow priests ran up and joined him until all the ashes had been removed. The priest who removed the ashes also arranged the wood on the altar for the burning of the sacrifices and the coals for the incense. After placing the wood on the altar, the priests gathered in the Chamber of Hewn Stone, where lots were then drawn for the privilege of performing the different tasks connected with the offering of the tamid sacrifice. Of the 13 priests chosen, nine were assigned to the sacrificial animal itself and four to the ancillary tasks of removing the ashes from the inner altar in the sancturary, the offering of the meal offerings, and the wine libation (Tam. 3; Yoma 2:3). After the sanctification of their hands and feet they awaited the time appointed for the slaughtering. When the priest who had gone up to look out announced that the entire eastern horizon had become light "even unto Hebron," they began to bring the lamb and the necessary instruments and vessels, and at this time too those who had drawn the privilege of performing the necessary tasks within the sanctuary went to perform their appointed duties: to remove the ashes from the inner altar and from the candelabrum and to open the gates of the sanctuary, which remained open during the entire service.

Trumpets were sounded as the gates were opened. The priest whose task it was to remove the ashes from the inner altar and cleanse the candelabrum was first to enter. The priest who removed the ashes from the altar put them into a basket (tene) which he set by the side of the altar. The residual matter removed from the candelabrum was placed in a kuz (an oil vessel the shape of a large wine cup). If he found the two easternmost wicks burning the priest did not rekindle the rest, since the candelabrum as a whole was filled and lit only in the evening. But if he found them extinguished he cleaned them first, and then lit them from the flame of the other wicks, or, if necessary, from the altar fire, afterward cleaning the rest of the lights and preparing them for lighting in the evening. He then set the kuz on the second of the three steps leading up to the candelabrum and departed. It was then that the tamid was slaughtered (Tam. 3; Suk. 3:5). After the slaughter of the tamid and the preparation of its limbs for offering upon the altar, the priests gathered in the Chamber of Hewn Stone and with the people read the Ten Commandments, the three paragraphs of the Shema, and their benedictions (Tam. 5:1; Yoma 37b; and cf. Ber. 11b–12a).

When they finished, the Temple official called out: "New candidates for the offering of the incense come and draw lots." Only those who had never had the privilege of performing this function participated in the drawing. Then the last lot, which was for the privilege of bringing the limbs of the sacrifice to the altar, was drawn. The distribution of all the tasks connected with the tamid sacrifice completed, those priests who had not been chosen to take part in the service departed and took off their sacred vestments (Tam. 5). The priest who had drawn the lot for the offering of the incense gave the mahtah ("firepan") to the priest who stood next to him for him to gather coals from the outer altar and help in the preparations for the offering of the incense. When the two priests reached the point between the entrance hall and the altar, one took the magrefah (apparently a musical instrument in the Temple, shaped like a shovel) announcing with it to the priests and the assembled multitude in the Temple to be ready for the solemn moment. The priests drew nearer in order to enter the sanctuary and prostrate themselves following the offering of the incense, the levites readied themselves for their choir duties, and the head of the ma'amad took the ritually unclean who had come to the Temple in order to be cleansed and brought them to the Gate of Nicanor. Then the two priests ascended the steps of the hall, preceded by those who had cleared the ashes from the altar and the candelabra. They now removed the vessels which they had previously set down. The priest who had cleaned the candelabrum now also cleaned the two easternmost wicks. The westernmost one was left burning—for this was the eternal flame which burned day and night. The priest who had gathered the coals entered the sanctuary first, scattered them over the incense altar, prostrated himself, and departed. Then the priest who was chosen by lot to offer the incense entered, bearing the pan of incense in his hand. He was accompanied by a priest appointed for this task who instructed him in the proper ritual, and he did not offer it until he was told: "Offer the incense!" The officiating priest waited until the space between the hall and the altar was cleared of people, offered up the incense, prostrated himself, and departed (Tam. 6; Kelim end of ch. 1). During the offering of the incense in the sanctuary, the people used to gather in the azarah for prayer, and even outside the Temple these times were set aside for prayer (cf. Luke 1:10; Judith 9:1). After the departure of the priest who had offered the incense, all the priests filed into the sanctuary, prostrated themselves, and went out again. Those who had served inside the sanctuary stood with their serving vessels on the steps of the hall while the rest of the priests, upon leaving the sanctuary, stood to their left and blessed the people with the priestly blessing (Num. 6:23–25), with outstretched hands, pronouncing the ineffable name as it is written (Tam. 7:2; Sot. 7:6; Kid. 71a; Philo, Mos. 114; Jos., Ant. 2:275). In earlier times the high priest himself used to bless the people, but at the end of the Second Temple period, even when the high priest was present the blessing was pronounced by all the priests together (Kid. 71a). When the ineffable name was pronounced, the people fell upon their faces (Ecclus. 50:21., Eccles. R. 3:11).

After the priestly benediction came the last part of the service, the lifting of the limbs of the sacrifice on to the outer altar, the offering of the meal offering (minhat solet), and the libation of the wine upon the altar. Before the libation, trumpets were sounded. When they were about to pour the libation, the segan signaled with a scarf (as a flag), and Ben Arza sounded the cymbal, and "the levites raised their voices in song." The levites' choir completed the service attendant upon the offering of the tamid of the morning (Tam. 7).


At the eighth and a half hour the private sacrifices were concluded and the offering of the afternoon tamid was begun. The order of the service was the same as that of the morning tamid, except for the arrangement of the wood on the altar and the priestly benediction, which took place in the morning only. In the evening two logs were placed upon the altar to keep the fire burning all night, the oil in the candelabrum was replenished, and all seven lights were lit. All those who were chosen by lot for the morning service also served in the evening, except for the priest who had offered the incense (TJ, Yoma, 2:3, 39d; Sif. Zut., Pinhas, end). Following the afternoon tamid the gates of the sanctuary were closed. The exact hour for this is not mentioned but from various talmudic references it may be concluded that it was close to sunset. The gates of the Court were shut, but some priests remained inside to offer the limbs and entrails which had not been consumed during the day. They also replenished the altar with wood so that the flame should not die out. Probably they entered the azarah through one of the wickets which led from the bet ha-moked, where the priests spent the night (Zev. 9:6; Ber. 1:1). Toward evening the priests partook of their meal of the sacrificial meat and bread. The tamid sacrifice was the essential part of the Divine Service. All sections of the populace were most loyal and devoted to the Temple and its service and were willing to go to extreme measures in order that the regular sacrifice of the daily tamid should continue uninterrupted—even in the days of the direst distress which fell upon the city and the Temple (Sot. 49b).

The Sabbath

Individual sacrifices were not brought on the Sabbath, but all the work attendant upon the offering of communal sacrifices was permitted; fire was lit on the altar, the tamid was slaughtered, the incense was offered, and the lights were lit, but care was taken that whatever could be done beforehand was done on the eve of the Sabbath. In addition to the tamid sacrifice, the additional Sabbath sacrifice of two sheep was offered and the shewbread was laid out (Men. 11 and Tosef. ad loc.). On the Sabbath the mishmar changed after the musaf sacrifice (Tosef., Suk. 4:24), but the priests of the second mishmar came to the Temple in the early morning, since in the morning prayer the outgoing mishmar blessed the incoming one: "May He Who caused His name to dwell in this House, let dwell among you love and brotherhood, peace and friendship" (Ber. 12a). The daily hymn of the musaf sacrifice was the biblical portion "Ha'azinu" (Deut. 32), which was divided into six sections, one section being sung each Sabbath (RH 32a). After the musaf sacrifice, the shewbread was set out; the new bread being brought in and the old bread removed and distributed among the priests. This was the first task performed by the new mishmar. The loaves, baked before the eve of the Sabbath and placed upon a marble table in the entrance hall, were set out by four priests, two of whom held the two sets of loaves (six to each set), and two the two censers of white frankincense (levonah). Four other priests preceded them in order to remove the bread and censers from the preceding Sabbath. While one set of priests removed the old shewbread, the other immediately replaced it with fresh loaves. The bread was laid out in two rows and the censers of incense placed next to them. The loaves which had been removed were placed upon a golden table in the entrance hall and the old white frankincense was offered up, which made the old shewbread permitted to the priests for their consumption. The bread was divided among the outgoing and the incoming mishmar alike. Legend relates that in olden times, in the days of Simeon the Just, "a blessing was bestowed upon... the shewbread, so that every priest, who obtained a piece thereof as big as an olive, ate and became satisfied, some even leaving something over. From that time on a curse was sent... so that every priest received a piece as small as a bean; the decorous [priests] withdrew their hands from it, while the voracious ones took and devoured it" (Yoma 39a).

The sacrificial meat apportioned to the priest when he officiated, had for the most part to be eaten in the Court by men only; no more than a small portion of it was permitted to be eaten outside the Temple precincts but within the boundaries of Jerusalem, and even some of this could not be brought home for the private consumption of the priest's family. All that he could take with him were the hides, which were distributed among the priests of the officiating division, and the Pharisaic sages contended bitterly with the aristocracy of the priesthood in an attempt to make them deal fairly with the ordinary priests in this matter (Tosef., Men. 13:18–19).

The Pilgrim Festivals

During the festivals, when great multitudes went up to Jerusalem, the order of the service was different because, in addition to the statutory sacrifices, time had to be found for the offering of the many sacrifices brought by the pilgrims. Their obligatory offering (olat re'iyyah) was sacrificed on the festival itself, while their voluntary sacrifices were offered during the intermediate days (Bezah 2:4 and the ensuing discussion in both the Jerusalem and Babylonian Talmuds). To make time for all these sacrifices, the service was begun at an earlier hour. Normally the ashes were removed from the altar when the gever (either "cock" or "Temple crier") sounded, or approximately at that time, either slightly earlier or later. On the Day of Atonement they were removed at midnight, and on the festivals at the beginning of the first watch; "by the time the cry of the gever was heard, the Temple Court was already teeming with visitors [Israelites]" (Yoma 1:8). Josephus (Ant. 18:29) states that on the festivals the Temple gates were opened for the public from midnight on. In order to encourage uninhibited access to the Temple, a lenient view was taken on the festivals with regard to laws of ritual purity, both in the city and in the Temple itself (Jos., Ant. 18:29; Hag. 3:7). During the festival the curtain which normally hung at the entrance to the sanctuary was rolled up to enable the people to view the Holy of Holies, and the holy vessels and appurtenances were even brought out into the azarah in full view of the pilgrims (Jos., Ant. 3:128; Yoma 54b; Hag 3:7). On the festivals priests of all the mishmarot came up to Jerusalem, both from Erez Israel and from the Diaspora, and they were all permitted to partake of the meat from the festival sacrifices (Suk. 5:7; Men. 11:7. For the sacrifices offered on the different festivals see under their respective titles.)

Temple Music

This included both choir singing and musical instruments. Music accompanied the daily tamid offering both on weekdays and holidays, the musaf sacrifices, the offerings of the people, their processions, and their assemblies. The texts sung were mostly Psalms, selected poetical sections of the Pentateuch such as the Shirat ha-Yam (Ex. 15) and Ha'azinu. The Pentateuch mentions only two trumpets in connection with divine service. In the later biblical books all the musical instruments are already mentioned, though not in conjunction with the tamid sacrifice. The masoretic text of the Bible contains a specific heading for Psalm 92 only, which was "For the Sabbath day," but in the Septuagint similar headings are found to the psalms for all the days of the week except for the psalm for the third day (i.e., Tuesday), which is chapter 82. Mishnaic sources mention lutes, lyres, and a cymbal in conjunction with the offering of the tamid, and on festivals flutes were added, particularly on occasions when there was large-scale public participation, such as the slaughtering of the Passover sacrifice, the Simhat Bet ha-Sho'evah, and the bringing of the firstfruits. In the baraita appended to the end of the tractate Tamid the daily psalms chanted are enumerated: "The song which the levites used to sing in the Temple: On the first day [i.e., Sunday], they used to say [Ps. 24]: 'The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof, the world and they that dwell therein' "(Tam. 7:4), and so on for each day of the week. Other beraitot (in RH 31a; Suk. 55a) mention the psalms recited on most of the holidays and some of these are also confirmed by the headings found in the Septuagint. In addition to the daily psalms the Hallel (Ps. 113–118) was recited on the three festivals and on the eight days of Hanukkah. On the festivals the Hallel was sung during the offering of the sacrifices of the people, and the flute was sounded at the same time. Special psalms were appointed for each festive occasion in the Temple: at the bringing of the firstfruits, Psalm 30; during the Bet ha-Sho'evah festivities, the 15 Songs of Ascent (Ps. 120–34); and so on.

The Mishnah states: "There may be no fewer than 12 levites participating on the [levite choir's] stand, and minor children from the families of the elite of Jerusalem were added to them to make the result more melodious." As for the musical accompaniment, the Mishnah states: "There may be no fewer than two lyres (nevalim) nor more than six; no fewer than nine harps (kinnorot), but as many as desired may be added; there is only one cymbal (zilzal) (Ar. 3:3–6). The flute (halil) is always mentioned in the singular.

Gentiles and the Temple

Biblical law expressly permits the acceptance of sacrifices from gentiles (Lev. 22:25), and this was apparently the practice in the First Temple (I Kings 8:41–43). The number of such sacrifices became very large in the days of the Second Temple, and special regulations were made with respect to them. The rule is: "Vow offerings (nedarim) and freewill offerings (nedavot) are accepted of them" (Shek. 1:5). Gentiles are frequently mentioned as coming to the Temple from near and far in order to bring sacrifices (Pes. 3b; Jos., Ant. end of Book 3; John 12:20). It was decided that if a gentile sent a burnt offering from overseas, without the necessary accompanying libations, these must be provided out of public funds (Shek. 7:6; Sif. Zut. 15:2). The names of various gentile kings and princes who offered sacrifices in the Temple are known: e.g., Ptolemy III (Jos., Apion 2:5); Antiochus VII Sidetes, when he besieged Jerusalem in 133 B.C.E. (Ant. 13:242); Marcus Agrippa who offered up a hecatomb (100 burnt offerings) in the year 15 B.C.E. (Ant. 16:14); and Vitellius, the Roman governor of Syria who went up to Jerusalem especially in order to offer sacrifice in the Temple on Passover (Ant. 18:122). Josephus categorically states that the altar of the Temple in Jerusalem was held in high esteem by all Hellenic and non-Hellenic peoples (Wars 5:17), and the fame of the Temple reached all parts of the world (Wars 4:262; cf. Suetonius, De Vita Caesarum, Augustus 93). Besides the sacrifices received from gentiles, from the days that the exiles returned from Babylon a special sacrifice was offered for the welfare of the gentile ruler. Thus, sacrifices were offered for the well–being of the Persian monarch (Ezra 6:9–10), for Hellenistic kings, such as Demetrius I (I Macc. 7:33), and afterward for the well-being of the Roman emperors (Wars 2:197); according to one source (Philo, Embassy to Gaius 317) two lambs and a bull were offered daily (and cf. ibid. 157).

The Temple Treasury

The Temple had need of considerable amounts of gold and silver (II Macc. 3:4) for the purchase of the required sacrifices, for the ritual vessels, garments, and other utensils, for the administration, and for miscellaneous public expenses. In the course of time a great treasure accumulated in the store-chambers appointed for this purpose (Wars 6:282). Just as in the period of the First Temple, so during the days of the Second Temple money and precious vessels reached the Temple from various sources. When Judea was subject to foreign hegemony, the gentile kings sometimes covered the Temple expenses from their own treasury, or at any rate presented it with gifts to defray the cost of the upkeep. Darius donated the funds required for the completion of the Temple structure, and for the regular sacrifices, from the taxes gathered from the province "Beyond the River" (Ezra 6:8–17). Details are given of the gifts made by Artaxerxes (Ezra 7:20–23). According to the Letter of Aristeas 33, 40, 52–82, and Josephus (Ant. 12:40ff.), Ptolemy Philadelphus presented a golden table and beautiful golden vessels to the Temple. Seleucus IV gave enough of his income to defray the entire costs of the sacrifices (II Macc. 3:3), and so did other Hellenistic kings (Ant. 13:78; Apion 2:48). Antiochus III donated 20,000 shekels for sacrifices and in addition great quantities of wheat, flour, and salt and all the materials which were necessary for repairs, including cedars of Lebanon (Ant. 12:140–1). Similarly Demetrius promised the "Jewish Nation" to consecrate the town of Acco (Ptolemass) to the Temple in order to defray the expenses from its taxes, and in addition 15,000 shekels from his own income (I Macc. 10:39–45). Roman rulers, like Sosius, who conquered Jerusalem for Herod (Ant. 14:488), Marcus Agrippa (Philo, Embassy to Gaius 37), Augustus Caesar and his wife Julia (Wars 5:562; Philo, Embassy to Gaius 157ff.), and others (Jos., Wars 4:181; 2:413) gave all manner of gifts to the Temple (golden bowls, golden wreaths, etc.). Among the Jewish donors was Ben Kattin who donated 12 spigots and a machine (a pulley) for the laver (Yoma 3:10). King Monobaz had the handles of all the vessels used on the Day of Atonement made of gold. His mother, Helena of Adiabene, commissioned a golden candelabrum and set it over the door of the sanctuary. Ben Gamala replaced the boxwood lots cast on the Day of Atonement in connection with the scapegoat which was sent off into the wilderness with gold ones (ibid.). The alabarch Alexander, Philo of Alexandria's brother, donated the gold and silver plating of the gates of the sanctuary (Wars 5:53). Nicanor of Alexandria donated the famous copper gates of Corinthian workmanship (Yoma 3:10). At the time of the construction of the Second Temple, Heldai, Tobijah, and Jedaiah from the golah (the returning Babylonian exiles) donated the golden crowns which were hung from the ceiling of the Temple (see above). Many people devoted houses and fields to the Temple, but since the Temple at Jerusalem did not keep landed property, it was sold and the proceeds deposited in the Temple treasury (Tosef., Shek. 2:15; Mish.,Ar. 8). The Temple treasury also contained the deposits of individuals, such as widows and orphans (II Macc. 3:10), but particularly of the wealthy (such as Hyrcanus the Tobiad: II Macc. 3:11) "who deposited there the entire wealth of their house" (Jos., Wars 6:282). This portion of the treasure house was so vast that Josephus wrote that "it was the general repository of all Jewish wealth" (ibid.). However, the most important, or at any rate the steadiest, source of income was the half-shekel tax paid annually by every Jewish adult male from the age of 20 (on the basis of Ex. 30:14–15; cf. Philo, Spec. 1:76–78). These moneys were used to defray the expense of the offerings sacrificed for the entire community and other expenses (see later). The half-shekel was levied upon everyone—except women, slaves, and minors, and even from these it was accepted if offered (Shek. 1:5)—whether they lived in the land of Israel or in the Diaspora, but the wealthy used to give "golden drachmas" (Tosef., Shek. 2:4). In spite of temporary difficulties caused by gentiles on occasion (Jos., Ant. 14:110ff.) the flow of money never stopped for any length of time. In the Roman period, rulers of cities and governors of provinces attempted to lay their hands on the funds or at least to place difficulties in the way of their collection and remission to Jerusalem, and one of the important privileges granted the Jews in the days of Julius Caesar and Augustus was the permission to collect and send the half-shekels to Jerusalem without hindrance. Augustus even included them in the category of "sacred money" and thus anyone stealing them was subject to the death penalty on the grounds of sacrilege (Cicero pro Flacco, 28; Jos., Ant. 14:215 et al.; 16:163ff.). Collections made in Babylon were first deposited in the fortified cities of Nisibis and Nehardea and later transferred to Jerusalem under armed guard (Ant. 18:310–3). Every year, on the first of Adar, the bet din ha-gadol (the high court in Jerusalem) used to send out messengers to the provincial areas (in Judea), to announce publicly the obligation to bring the half-shekels in due time for them to be delivered to the Temple chamber on the first of Nisan (TJ, Shek. 1:1, 45d). On the 15th of Adar tables of money changers were set up in the country at large (Shek. 1:3), and on the 25th day they were set up in the Temple, and pledges were taken from those who could not pay (with the exception of the priests; ibid.). Both in the Temple and in the country at large shofarot were set up for this purpose. There were 13 shofarot in the Temple (Shek. 6:1, 5), each inscribed with the object for which the money collected was to be spent (i.e., "new shekels" for use during the coming year, "old shekels" to defray the expenses of the outgoing year, others for specific types of sacrifice, such as wood for the altar, incense, and the like). The money collected was divided into two parts: three kuppot ("large containers") of nine se'ah each were set aside as the terumat ha-lishkah (contribution to the Temple treasury chamber) and the rest was collected in a special container called the sheyarei ha-lishkah ("surplus funds"). The appropriations were made from the shekels in the Temple treasury chamber three times a year, 15 days before Passover, 15 days before Shavuot, and on the 29th of Elul. The money was used mainly for the purchase of the communal offerings and the incense (Shek. 4:1), but it was used as wages for those who watched the aftergrowths in the seventh year, with the object of gathering them for use in the communal offering, and for the women who wove curtains for the gates of the Temple (TJ, Shek. 4:3, 48a; Ket. 106a). In addition, the red heifer, as well as the scapegoat which was sent out into the wilderness on the Day of Atonement, were bought from these funds, as were the vestments of the high priest. The inspectors of animal blemishes in Jerusalem were also paid from the terumot ha-lishkah, as were the experts who taught the priests the laws of ritual slaughtering and those who examined the scrolls for mistakes. The money from the sheyarei ha-lishkah was used to defray the expenses of the erection of a special bridge across the Kidron Valley, and for the expenses connected with the altar of the burnt offerings, the sanctuary, and the courts (Shek. 4:2; TJ, Shek 4:3; 48a; according to Ket. 106b these expenses were covered by the funds donated for the maintenance of the Temple). The money was also for all the needs of the city of Jerusalem, especially the maintenance of the water system and the repair of the towers (Shek. 4:2; TJ, Shek. 4:3, 48a).

There was another treasury chamber in the Temple, where funds were collected for Temple repair. The income here was from the arakhin ("vows of valuations") and the consecrations in general (see Lev. 27 and Ar. 24a). There were also special chambers for freewill offerings. One was the chamber of anonymous gifts for those who wished to give charity anonymously: "sin-fearing persons used to insert their gifts therein secretly, and the poor of good family would be supported therefrom secretly" (Shek. 5:6). Another treasury was the "chamber of vessels" (in which 93 silver and gold vessels were stored which were used in the Temple service: Tam. 3:4) where donations of vessels to the Temple were received. Once every 30 days the treasurers would open it and any vessel they found inside that was of use for the repair of the Temple they left there; but the others were sold and their price went to the chamber of the repair of the Temple (Shek. 5:6).

A special store was created as a result of the obligation which the priests, levites, and people at large took upon themselves in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah (Neh. 10:35; 13:31) to bring "the wood offering at set times, every year, to keep the fire on the altar of the Lord our God, as it is prescribed in the Torah." Particular families undertook the obligation to donate wood on specific days of the year, because, according to tradition, "when the exiles to Babylon returned to Judea they found no wood in the Temple wood-chamber and the families here mentioned came foreward and offered wood of their own. The prophets among them thereupon made it a condition that even should the chamber be full of wood at any time they should still continue to bring their offerings" (Ta'an. 28a). When they brought the wood they would offer freewill burnt offerings and that day was a festival for the family—one on which manifestations of mourning, fasting, and work were prohibited (ibid.). The Mishnah (Ta'an. 4:5) enumerates nine families who used to bring wood offerings on specific dates (which are also mentioned). Since almost all these families were among the returning exiles listed in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, the list is based upon a tradition going back to the beginning of the Second Temple. The 15th of Av (Meg. Ta'an. to the 15th of Av; Jos., Wars 2:425) was set aside as the day of the "wood offering," on which all the people brought wood, and the atmosphere of the day was festive: "On that day the felling of trees for the altar fire was discontinued... because [from then on] they would not dry properly" (Ta'an. 31a). Generations after the destruction, the descendants of these families still celebrated the anniversary of their family's bringing the wood offering (Tosef., Ta'an. 4:6). The wood was stored in the wood chamber, and the priests who were physically blemished cared for and sorted the wood, because wormy wood was unfit for setting on the altar (Mid.2:5).

Provision of the Temple's Needs

It was the duty of the Temple treasurers to purchase the animals for the communal sacrifices and to make animals available for purchase for private sacrifices when the potential donors found difficulty in bringing them themselves. Wine, fine flour, and oil were sometimes bought from the treasuries of the Temple because of the difficulties in bringing them posed by considerations of ritual purity. This was particularly so in respect to those from the Diaspora, since the Diaspora per se is defiling, and for gentiles it was impossible altogether. Many obligatory personal sacrifices consisted of doves, and many people also brought them as a freewill offering. Measures seem to have been taken to lessen the commercial traffic within the Temple precincts. The New Testament relates that Jesus chased the money changers and vendors of doves from the Temple precincts (Matt. 21:12; et al.). Toward the end of the Second Temple period, doves were no longer sold in the Temple precincts. Instead shofarot were set up in the Temple and anyone who was obliged to offer a pair of doves or wished to do so as a freewill offering dropped the appropriate sum into it, and each day sacrifices were offered in accordance with the amount in the shofarot (Shek. 6:5 and Tosef., Shek. 3:2–3). The Mishnah describes how those who came to sacrifice obtained their libation offerings. The individual came first to Johanan who was appointed over the seals, and gave him the proper sum, for which he received a seal. He then took the seal to Ahijah, who was appointed over the libations, gave it to him and received the libation in exchange (Shek. 5:4).

All sacrifices, whether individual or communal, could be brought either from Erez Israel or from the Diaspora, and from new or old produce, except for the Omer (Men. 8:1), which had to be from barley grown in Erez Israel. The Mishnah and Tosefta Menahot contain detailed traditions concerning the provenance of these communal offerings. The places were chosen either because the crop ripened early there, or because they were famous for the quality of their produce. Fine flour and wine came mainly from Judea, oil from Galilee, rams from Moab, calves from the Sharon, and lambs from the Hebron area. The doves were raised on the Mount of Olives and the King's Mountain (Men. 8, Tosef., Men. 9:13; Men. 87a; TJ, Ta'an. 4:8, 69a). The sources describe the salt as "the salt of Sodom." The Pentateuch mentions only four ingredients for the preparation of the incense (Ex. 30:34), but the tannaitic tradition which was considered to have Mosaic authority mentions 11 elements, to which were further added various other ingredients to make the smoke rise (Ker. 6a). According to a late tradition there were groves in the vicinity of Jerusalem for the cultivation of herbs for the incense (Song R., ed. Gruenhut to 4:13).


The returning exiles organized their lives around the altar and the Temple in Jerusalem, and, at least officially, the aim of those who returned to Judea in the wake of Cyrus' declaration was merely to restore the Temple (Ezra 1:1–5). In the course of time the Temple worship, which centered around the sacrificial rites, lost some of its position as the sole means by which the religious and communal life of the nation could find expression. To a considerable extent the center of gravity shifted to the study of the Torah, and the synagogue and bet midrash gradually assumed an even greater importance. In the course of time the leadership of the people and the judicial functions ceased to be the sole prerogative of the priestly class. However, since all of these institutions and the basic concepts behind them were organically connected with the Temple service, it was through this channel that they became part of the life of the people. The synagogue, which is first mentioned during the Second Temple period, apparently had its foundation in the assembly called by Ezra (Neh. 9). A synagogue, or at least something very similar to it, was to be found in the Temple Court, and the prayers and Torah readings were woven into the Temple service. The stipulated hours of prayer were set according to the times of the sacrifices, and those who stood in prayer, no matter where they might be, turned their faces to Jerusalem and to the Temple (Ber. 4:5). Other liturgical forms such as the priestly blessing, the waving of the lulav on Sukkot, and the blowing of the shofar, were also taken from the Temple service, and their practice had already spread to the synagogue both in Erez Israel and in the Diaspora even while the Temple was still standing. In the course of time homiletic Midrash and Torah study, which were also connected with the Temple, were added to the reading of the Torah. On the Sabbath and holidays, the Sanhedrin convened—not as a court of law, since it was forbidden to pronounce judgment on the Sabbath or on a holiday, but as a bet midrash, a center of study (Tosef., San. 7:1). Both Josephus and tannaitic tradition clearly reflect the fact that sages used to teach the law to the people in the Temple Courts (Ant. 17:149; Pes. 26a). The Gospels also relate that Jesus taught the law daily in the Temple Courts whenever he was in Jerusalem, and that after his death the apostolic Christian community continued to do so (Luke 21:37; Acts 2–4). The Holy Scriptures and other national historical literature were kept in the Temple, which acted not only as a repository but also as an agency for their careful preservation and dissemination. The redaction of the Megillat Ta'anit and the Book of Megillat Beit Hashmonai took place in the chambers of the Temple, (Halakhot Gedolot, ed. Venice, 141d). Whenever a doubt arose about the correct reading of the text of the Holy Scriptures, it was determined on the basis of the consensus of the ancient manuscript kept in the Temple (Sif. Deut. 356), and many scribes and proofreaders were kept in the Temple employ (TJ, Shek. 4:3, 48a). Various sources clearly reflect the existence of a sefer ha-azarah—i.e., a manuscript kept in the Temple Court—which was read before the assembled multitude on festive occasions and according to which other texts were regularly corrected (TJ, San. 2:6, 20c, MK 3:4). The Temple authorities also sent copies to the Diaspora communities when they so requested (cf. II Macc. 2:15). The Sanhedrin and the various law courts connected with it sat in the Chamber of Hewn Stone and in the outer courts. The full prerogatives were invested in the Sanhedrin only when it sat in the Temple precincts and while the sacrificial system was in operation (Sif. Deut. 152; Sanh. 14b). These religious elements and values were added to the Temple, but basically it continued to be looked upon as the "dwelling place" of the Divine Presence, and as the only fitting place to bring sacrifices in His name, both communal and individual. The offering of sacrifices and the attendant purification atoned for the sins of the nation as a whole and for those of the individual, and served as a means by which the spiritual purification and uplifting of man was furthered. The Temple and its appurtenances were pictured as symbolizing the entire universe, including the stars of the firmament, and the Temple service was considered to be a source of blessing to all the nations of the world and even to the heavens and the earth and all it contains (Philo, II Mos. 84–93; Jos., Ant. 3: 179–87; Suk. 55b).

[Shmuel Safrai]


The Tabernacle, Temple, and Temple implements provided the background to many literary and artistic works. In literature, one of the earliest instances is "Le Tabernacle," a mystical extended section of L'Encyclie des secrets de l'MternitM (1571) by the French poet and Bible scholar Guy Le FIvre de la Boderie. Among Jewish writers the Western Wall of the former Temple has been a chief source of inspiration, as in Heinrich Heine's poem, "Jehuda ben Halevy" (one of the Hebraeische Melodien in Romanzero, 1851), where he writes of the very stones mourning on the Ninth of Av. Other themes connected with the Temple have attracted the attention of Jewish writers. Edmond Fleg's story, L'AdultIre, translated by Louis Zangwill as "The Adulteress," in: J. Leftwich (ed.), Yisroel (1933), is a dramatic and moving account of the "Ordeal of the Bitter Waters" inflicted on an unfaithful wife in the time of the Second Temple. Isaac Rosenberg's "The Burning of the Temple" was one of the poems published in his posthumous Collected Works (1937). A sub-theme is that of the Temple candelabrum or menorah. Stefan Zweig's short novel, Der begrabene Leuchter (1937; The Buried Candelabrum, 1937), recorded that "The Candelabrum we are burying will one day come to life again and give light to the children of Israel when they have found their way back to their homeland..." The search for the "true menorah" is also the subject of a modern detective novel by the English writer Lionel Davidson in A Long Way to Shiloh (1966, U.S. edition, The Menorah Men, 1966).

The Temple has often been portrayed in Christian art, and plans and implements of the Temple have figured in many Jewish manuscripts, where they sometimes symbolize the city of Jerusalem. In Christian sources the Temple forms the setting for the following subjects, taken sometimes from the Hebrew Bible, but more generally from the New Testament: Solomon Constructing the Temple (I Kings 6 and II Chron. 3); the (apocryphal) Presentation of the Virgin in the Temple, which, however, often showed only the steps outside the building; the (apocryphal) Marriage of the Virgin (or spozalio), popular with early Renaissance, particularly Umbrian, painters and shown as taking place in the open air outside the Temple, as in the famous painting by Raphael (Brera Gallery, Milan); the Circumcision of Jesus (Luke 7:21) by Mantegna, Bellini, Rembrandt, and others; the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple (Luke 2:22–40), popular with 15th-century painters, including Rogier Van Der Weyden, Memlinc, Fra Angelico, Mantegna, Bellini, and Carpaccio, and also treated by Rembrandt; the Child Jesus Confuting the Doctors (Luke 2:4–51), by Bosch, Duerer, Veronese, and Ingres among others (in a medieval Spanish version, the interior of the Temple is visualized as a contemporary synagogue interior with a high bimah, reached by a flight of steps); and Jesus Casting the Money Changers out of the Temple (John 2), treated by several Renaissance artists including Lucas Cranach, Pieter Breughel, and Jacopo Bassano, but above all by El Greco, who painted several versions. Representations of the Tabernacle and Temple interiors, and of the Ark of the Covenant and menorah, are also not uncommon in Christian ecclesiastical art of the 11th–15th centuries. Some of the earlier documents allegorize the structure as the "Temple of Wisdom." A colorful and imaginative evocation of the Temple, notable for its portrayal of Jewish types, is the English pre-Raphaelite William Holman Hunt's "The Finding of Christ in the Temple" (1862; Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool).

The Hebrew Bible was frequently illustrated in engravings of the 17th century, particularly in Holland. Among these were a number representing scenes which included the Temple. There were also engravings of imaginary reconstructions of the Temple. The Dutch rabbi and artist, Jacob Judah Leon (1603–1675), was called "Templo" on account of his models of Solomon's Temple which he afterward painted and engraved. Since the real appearance of the Temple was unknown, it was often imagined as a round or polygonal domed structure, resembling Dome of the Rock which stood on its site (cf. the printer's mark of Marco Antonio Giustiniani). It was sometimes represented in this way in Jewish as well as Christian sources. The outstanding feature of the interior of the Temple as imagined by artists was the twisted columns, commonly thought to have existed in the Temple and associated with Jachin and Boaz. These figure in the miniature representation of Pompey's entry into the Holy of Holies from the illustrated Josephus by the 15th-century French artist Jean Fouquet. On the other hand, there was always a tendency on the part of artists to represent Jerusalem and the Temple as cities and churches of their own era and country. In Fouquet's Josephus the exterior of the Temple is represented as that of a French late Gothic cathedral, and in Renaissance and baroque times it was often visualized in a classical form, or in the style of the period. Rembrandt's painting of the "Woman Taken in Adultery" (National Gallery, London) evokes an exuberant, though dimly lit, baroque interior, heaped with barbaric gold. See also: Jerusalem in the Arts; Titus in the Arts; Zerubbabel in the Arts.

[Editorial Staff Encyclopaedia Judaica]

Temple Implements in Illuminated Manuscripts

Full-page miniatures depicting Temple implements were a common feature in Spanish Bible decoration in 13th-to 15th-century illuminated manuscripts. Illustrations of Temple implements, however, appear in earlier oriental Bibles as well as in 13th- and 14th-century Ashkenazi and Italian Bibles. In most of these there are two full pages depicting individual vessels arranged decoratively, sometimes on different colored backgrounds. Every vessel is shown in a traditional stylized way and, in most cases, the same vessels are grouped together on one page. Among the most important utensils shown are the seven-branched candelabrum (menorah), consisting of a central shaft, branches, bowls, knobs, flowers and a three-legged stand. Next to the menorah there are, usually, tongs (melkahayim) and firepans (mahtot) (Ex. 25:31–40; 37:17–24). Flanking most menorot are two small stone steps (even). The two rectangular tablets of the Law represent the Ark of the Covenant (aron; Deut. 10:5) which has the mercy seat (kapporet) and above it an elongated rectangular panel with two stylized cherubim or wings on top (Ex. 25:10–22; 37:1–9). Other essential implements are: the sacrificial altar (mizbah ha-olah) with a brass mesh (ma'aseh reshet) and a ramp (kevesh) leading to it. Also represented are the altar's main implements: firepans (mahtot), flesh-hooks (mizlagot), pots (sirot), basins (mizrakot), and shovels (ya'im; Ex. 27:1–8; 38:1–7), as well as the gold incense altar (mizbah ha-ketoret) with its incense shovels (Ex. 30:1–7; 37:25–29) and the shewbread table laid with twelve loaves of bread, six on each side (Ex. 25:23–29; 37:10–16). On top, or on the side of the table, are two incense pans (bazikhei levonah) which were placed with each row of the shewhreads (Lev. 24:7). Other elements are the jar of manna, Moses' staff, and Aaron's flowering rod, which according to the Bible should be put into the Ark of the Covenant (Ex. 16:33; Num. 17:25), trumpets and horns (Lev. 25:9; Num. 10:2), the laver (kiyyor) and its stand (kan), usually similar to the manna jar (Ex. 30:18; 38:8).

Most of these implements are mentioned only in respect of the Tabernacle in the desert. There are, however, some manuscripts in which implements are depicted from both the First and Second Temples. Such examples are the two pillars, Jachin and Boaz, of the First Temple (I Kings 7:15–22, e.g., British Museum, Ms. BM King's 1, fol. 4) and the Golden Vine of the Second Temple (Mid. 3:8; e.g., Ms. King's 1, fol. 3v, 4).

The idea of depicting the Temple implements was probably inspired by the messianic hope of rebuilding the Temple. This is shown by the use of a picture of the Mount of Olives, where according to Jewish tradition the Messiah would make his first appearance (Zech. 14:4). The Mount of Olives is usually depicted by a stylized tree on top of a mound. The presentation of implements of the Temple in Bible manuscripts probably originates from the East. A Karaite Bible from Cairo of 930 C.E. (Leningrad, Ms. II, 17) has two full pages with highly stylized plans of the Tabernacle or the Temple. The implements included are the menorah, the Ark of the Covenant, the altar, Aaron's rod, the jar of manna, the laver and its stand, pots, shovels, basins, and possibly Solomon's Temple columns and the Golden Vine. As C. Roth has suggested, the origin of the implements in the oriental Bibles may have been late antique Jewish art either from surviving mosaic synagogue floors (Bet Alpha synagogue, sixth century) or from illuminated manuscripts which have not survived. The relationship between the illustration of the implements and actual plans of the Temple has not been sufficiently studied. Observing some fragmentary plans both in Hebrew (e.g., British Museum, Ms. Or. 2201, fol. 2, Oxford, Bodleian Library, Ms. Ken. 2, fols. 2v, 3) and Latin manuscripts, mainly Nicholas de Lyra, Postillae in Biblia (e.g., Oxford, Ms. Bod. 251) and Petrus Comestor (e.g., Florence, Bibliotheca Laurentiana, Ms. Plut. 2.1), it seems that both the implement illustrations and the plans were drawn from the same source. Similarities can be seen in the sacrificial altar, the menorah, and their accessories.

The influence of illustrations of the implements on Spanish Latin Bibles was observed by C. Nordstr[m. Some similar influence can be found in Hebrew Bibles of Ashkenazi and Italian origin. In most cases only the menorah is depicted in France (e.g., British Museum, Ms. Add. 11639, fol. 114), in Germany (e.g., Paris, cod., heb. 36, fol. 283v), and in Italy (e.g., British Museum, Ms. Harley 5710, fol. 136), but in some cases there are double-page miniatures of the implements; this is also the case in German manuscripts such as the Regensburg Pentateuch (Israel Museum Ms. 180/52, fols. 155v, 156).

[Bezalel Narkiss]