So after all that work we heard about in last week’s haftorah building the Temple (with the throngs of 80,000 men, 3,300 managers, and tons of stone and lumber), we find Ezekiel describing his vision of the third Holy Temple and dedication.
Third!? Wait, what?
Solomon’s Temple (the First Temple, or Holy Temple, in ancient Jerusalem on the Temple Mount ) that we heard about last week, was purportedly sieged by the Babylonians around 587 BCE. Rabbinic literature suggests this temple stood just over 400 years, which would put it between 832-422 BCE (later than secular estimates). The exact history is murky between biblical accounts and archaeological inferences, not in any small part due to the lack of permitted archaeological excavations of the Temple Mount in modern times.
A Second Temple, about 516 BCE to 70 CE followed the return of the Jewish exiles to Jerusalem under a decree from Cyrus the Great of Persia. After a brief intermission, work continued under the Persian King Darius (the soon-to-be nemesis of Alexander the Great). Romans destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple in 70 CE putting the kibosh on a then four-year-long Jewish revolt. The lower levels of the Western Wall are the standing remains comprise the Wailing Wall (or Kotel) which is now a sacred site for Jewish prayer in Jerusalem.
So now back to this “Third Temple.” The “Third Temple” or Ezekiel’s Temple is a prophetic concept, said to be built by the Messiah himself, on the day of Yom Kippur Ezekiel prophesizes the entrance of G-d through the eastern gate of the third temple wall. Prayer for the Third Temple is part of the three-times daily Amidah prayer.
Casey (Kefira) McCarty is a published author living in Ohio. She is the Assistant Director of the Columbus Idea Foundry, a community workshop space, and is an artisan who crafts jewelry, Judaica and fine art available online and in Central Ohio galleries and boutiques. You can find her online shop at www.sinemetudesigns.etsy.com