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Temple in Jerusalem

The Jerusalem Temple (Hebrew: beit ha-mikdash) was the center of Jewish worship, located on Jerusalem's Temple Mount. The Temple was destroyed by the Babylonians, then rebuilt and finally destroyed again by the Romans. The destruction of both temples, five hundred years apart, were central points in Jewish history, the first marking the beginning of the Babylonian Exile[?], the second marking the beginning of the Diaspora.

The word Temple is derived not from the Hebrew but from the Latin word for place of worship, templum. The name given in Scripture for the building was Beit Yahweh or "House of Yahweh" (although this name was also often used for other temples, or metaphorically). Because of the prohibition against pronouncing the holy name, the common Hebrew name for the Temple is Beit ha-Mikdash or "The Holy House", and only the Temple in Jerusalem is referred to by this name.

Two temples stood in succession on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem:

  1. Solomon's Temple, from approximately the 10th century BC, replacing the Tabernacle, destroyed by the Nebuchadnezzar and by the Babylonians in 586 BC.
  2. The Second Temple, built after the return from the Babylonian Captivity, around 536 BC (completed on March 12, 515 BC).
  3. Herod's Temple, was an expansion of the Second Temple, but is not usually counted as a third temple. This expansion project began around 19 BC by Herod the Great. It was destroyed by Roman troops under Titus in 70 AD.

There was an aborted project by the Roman emperor Julian (331-363 CE) to allow the Jews to build a Third Temple. A few very small Jewish groups today support constructing a Third Temple, but most Jews oppose this, both due to the enormously hostile reaction from the Palestinians and Arab nations that would likely result, and because according to the Talmud the reconstruction of the Temple would require the resumption of animal sacrifices, something which few Jews would like to happen.

Some fundamentalist and evangelical Christian groups, especially those who follow a dispensationalist[?] theology, believe that the Jewish people will build the Third Temple shortly before, or perhaps after, "true" Christians have been raptured.

Jews have prayed for the rebuilding of the Temple for the last 2,000 years. This prayer is a formal part of the thrice daily Jewish prayer services. However, not all rabbis agree on what would happen in a rebuilt Temple. It has traditionally just been assumed that some sort of animal sacrifices would be reinstituted, in accord with the rules in Leviticus and the Talmud. However there is another opinion, beginning with Maimonides, that God deliberately has moved Jews away from sacrifices towards prayer, as prayer is a higher form of worship. Thus, some rabbis hold that sacrifices would not take place in a rebuilt Temple. Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, the first chief rabbi of the Jewish community in pre-state Israel, holds that sacrifices will not be reinstituted.

Orthodox Jewish siddurim (prayer books) call for both restoration of Temple and resumption of animal sacrifices.

Conservative Judaism has modified the prayers slightly. Their siddurim call for the restoration of Temple, but do not ask for resumption of animal sacrifices. Most of the passages relating to sacrifices are replaced with the Talmudic teaching that deeds of loving-kindness now atone for sin. In the central prayer (the Amidah) the phrase na'ase ve'nakriv (we will present and sacrifice) is modified to read to asu ve'hikrivu (they presented and sacrificed), implying that animal sacrifices are a thing of the past. The petition to accept the "fire offerings of Israel" is removed.

Reform Judaism calls neither for the resumption of sacrifices or the rebuilding of the temple, although some new Reform prayerbooks are moving towards calling for the latter as an option.

Later monuments:

See also: Western Wall

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