One Temple for One God

The temple in Jerusalem was the center of Israel’s religious life. The book of Deuteronomy says this is the only place where sacrifices may be given. (Strauss, 125) It was more than just a place of sacrifices. It was also the center for judicial, religious, and community life. The temple was used for worship, choir, festivals and sessions for the Jewish high court were held here. (Strauss, 127-128)

The first Jerusalem temple was built by king Solomon. That temple however was later burned down by the Babylonians in 587 BC. A second temple was by Zerubbabel and greatly expanded by Herod the Great. It was considered one of the most magnificent buildings of the ancient world. The beauty and layout of the temple were meant to reflect the holiness and majesty of God. (Strauss, 126)

Image result for jerusalem ancient temple

The temple was built with a series of concentric courtyards that were exclusive to certain groups. Non-Jews were not aloud to pass the outer Court of the Gentiles. Next was the Court of Women which was for all Israelites. After the Court of Women came the Court of Israel. Only ritually pure males were aloud in the Court of Israel. The deepest point of the temple was the Court of Priests for priests only. Priests offered daily burnt sacrifices upon the alter. (Strauss, 126)

The temple was divided into two chambers. The first was the Holy Place. The Holy Place contained a golden lamp stand, the table of consecrated bread, and the altar of incense. Twice a day priests would enter here to burn incense. The second chamber was the inner Holy of Holies. The Holy of Holies is considered the most sacred place in Judaism. This chamber was entered once a year by the high priest on the Day of Atonement. (Strauss, 127)

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