Finished in 955 BC, Solomon’s Temple stood for four hundred years until the Babylonians invaded Israel. In 587, King Nebuchadnezzar carried the Jews off into Exile and destroyed the Temple. Rebuilt upon their return, the Second Temple was just a shadow of the glory of the first.
Occupied by the Greeks in 333 BC, Alexander the Great allowed the Jews to maintain their religion – but still their Hellenistic culture was hated by many of the Jewish people. When Emperor Antiochus Epiphanes IV proclaimed himself divine, prohibited the practice of Judaism and ordered the sacrifice of pigs in the Temple, the widespread discontent ignited into a full-scale rebellion.
The Maccabean Revolt ousted the Greeks, and in 165 BC they began an independent Hasmonean dynasty that ruled until the coming of Rome in 63 BC. It was then that the great Roman general, Pompey, led his legions into Jerusalem. Fascinated by tales of the great Jewish Temple, he insisted on entering the Inner Sanctum where only Jewish priests were allowed to go.
*O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stones them which are sent unto thee … Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said into them, See ye not all these things? Verily I say unto you, there shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down. Matthew 23:37 – 24:2
This strong-arm disregard for Jewish law was to be the hallmark of the Roman rule.
Jesus foresaw the destruction of the Temple that was to take place in 70 AD at the hands of the Roman general, Titus, who put down the first Jewish rebellion. Titus’ plunder of the Temple is vividly recorded on the triumphal Titus Arch in Rome.
In 132 AD the Jews rebelled again. Led by Simon Bar Kochba – Son of a Star – the Jews won back control of Judea and Samaria, and for two and a half years Jerusalem was again its capital. The Emperor Hadrian sent eight Roman legions and auxiliaries – well over 100,000 men – to put down rebellion. Determined to finally stamp out all resistance, they destroyed towns and villages and razed Jerusalem to the ground. On its ashes Hadrian erected a Roman colony Aelia Capitolina, and forbade Jews to enter on pain of death. To blot out the name of Judea he renamed it Palestina, and dispersed the Jewish people into exile.
With Jerusalem reduced to rubble, all that was left of the Temple was an outer, retaining wall of the precinct. Known for generations as the Wailing Wall, this became the Jews’ holiest place of prayer – the closest they could come to the site of the sacred Temple.
Since the re-unification of the city in 1967 it has been renamed the Western Wall – and is no longer only a source of sadness.
This page is part of the book The Holy Land of JesusShare this page with your friends
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