Jerusalem Temple Mount
Map of the Jerusalem Temple Mount, with Jericho and the Jordan River Valley in the distance.
Temple Mount in Jerusalem
Temple Mount in JerusalemThe Temple Mount is at the rocky top of the ridge on which Jews built their Jerusalem Temple. King David lived down the hill in the City of David, a walled city below the top of the ridge. His son and successor, Solomon, expanded the city north, to the Temple Mount, where he built the first Jewish Temple. Babylonian invaders destroyed it and the entire city about 400 years later, in 586 BC. They exiled the surviving Jews. Persians conquered the Babylonians 50 years later and freed the Jews to go home. They rebuilt the Temple in 516 BC. So, they had lived without a Jerusalem worship center for 70 years. Then, 70 years after they built the second Temple, Nehemiah, a Jewish winetaster for the Persian king, got permission to go to Jerusalem and repair the walls. He served there as governor fror about 13 years.
Jerusalem Temple, walls rebuilt
Jerusalem Temple, walls rebuilt Prophet Ezra convinces Jerusalem Jews to finish rebuilding the Temple that invading Babylonians destroyed about 70 years earlier. Then in another 70 years or so, Nehemiah, the Jewish wine-taster of the Persian king gets his king's permission to repair some of the walls around Jerusalem.
Nehemiah rebuilds walls of Jerusalem
Nehemiah rebuilt walls, gates of JerusalemNehemiah is one odd story. He’s a Jew serving wine to a Persian king in what is now Iran. Who saw that coming? The king, Artaxerxes, trusts this Jewish man with his life. How did Nehemiah get there? Likely he was the descendant of Jews taken captive to Babylon (Iraq) about 150 years earlier, when Babylon leveled Jerusalem and other cities and took the Jews captive. About 50 years later, Persia (Iran) defeated Babylon and freed the Jews and other captives to go home. But many Jews stayed because they grew up in exile. Iraq and Iran was the only homeland they knew. Yet, many returned to the land of their ancestors to rebuild Jerusalem and the other cities. Nehemiah gets word that Jerusalem’s walls are still broken down and the city gates are gone. It’s a city undefended. He can’t believe it. By this time, Jews have had about 90 years to fix those walls.
Winetaster becomes city builderSo, Nehemiah talks the king into giving him a 12-year leave of absence so he can repair the walls. It certainly seems odd that the king would grant his winetaster’s Big Ask. Yet the king also agrees to give him the wood for the job, sends him with a detachment of soldiers as an escort, and then appoints him governor over the Jewish province of Judah. That’s what the southern Jewish nation of Judah had become, a Persian province ruled by a Persian king who even chose the songs Jews could sing at the Temple (Nehemiah 11:23). Earlier, when Babylon exiled Jews from their homeland, settlers moved in. They hated the idea of Jews returning to power because it meant the Jews would try to take back the land and get rid of everyone else. Nehemiah had 12 years to fix the walls. It took him 52 days. Nehemiah rallied Jerusalem-area Jews to join the work. They felt the clock sands slipping away while their neighbors plotted to stop the work. Murdering Nehemiah seems to have been one plan on the table. Attacking the work crew was another. Jewish construction workers carried their weapons on the job in daylight, guarded the walls all night, and didn’t get much sleep during those 52 days and nights. Nehemiah spent the rest of his 12-year leave reminding the people what it meant to be Jewish. They studied the Laws of Moses that we read today as the first five books in the Bible.
JERUSALEM’S WALL BUILDERS: ROLL CREDITS
NEHEMIAH’S MOTLEY CONSTRUCTION CREWNehemiah 3 1Teams of people worked together repairing different parts of Jerusalem’s damaged wall and destroyed gates. SHEEP GATE. Elisheba the high priest worked alongside other priests to rebuild the Sheep Gate. Then they built the doors, set them in place, and dedicated the entire area to God. They did this all the way from the Tower of the Hundred to the Tower of the Hananel. 2WALL. Jericho men worked on the wall beside the gate. Zaccur son of Imri worked just beyond them. 3FISH GATE. Hassenaah’s sons built the Fish Gate. They set in the door and placed the beams, bolts, and bars. 4WALL. Meremoth worked beside them on wall repairs. He was the son of Uriah and grandson of Hakkoz. 5WALL. People from the village of Tekoa made repairs. But their noble leaders wouldn’t stoop to manual labor—even for the Lord. It was beneath them.
Jerusalem walls, gates in time of Nehemiah
Replacing Solomon's Temple Jews rebuilt their own destroyed houses before they rebuilt God’s house—the Jerusalem Temple. God didn’t like that one bit. He had the prophet Haggai tell ‘em so.
“You say it’s not yet time to rebuild the LORD’s house from the ruins. But I’ve noticed it is time for you to live in nicely appointed houses paneled in wood” (Haggai 1:4).
Jews ordered to stop building in JerusalemJews apparently felt they had good reason not to rebuild the temple. They had started the work as soon as they got back from exile in Iraq. That’s where Babylonians forced them to stay for 66 years. Persians from what is now Iran defeated Babylon and told the Jews they could go home. Settlers who had moved into the region objected. They didn’t want Jews dragging their dead nation up out of the dirt. So, they threatened them. Later, they convinced a new Persian king to stop all building projects in Jerusalem. Eighteen years afterward, Haggai shows up, but for just four sermons—one a month.
How to get good crops through carpentryOn August 29, 520 BC, at the end of what sounds like a terrible year for farmers, Haggai tells them how to fix it. He says God broke it. And God will fix it. But only if they get back to work on the Temple.
“I’m the LORD and I did it. I hit you with heat, mold, and hail. But you didn’t get the message. You didn’t come back to me” (2:17).Jews rushed back to work on the Temple before the month is up: September 21.
Jews get the blues rebuilding the TempleBut they apparently get bummed out by December. Perhaps it’s because the Temple isn’t shaping up as magnificent of Solomon’s Temple. Haggai apparently pumps them with a reminder about a good harvest ahead—and with the promise that this Temple will be bigger and better than Solomon’s.
Balage Balogh / ArchaeologyIllustrated.com
Balage Balogh / ArchaeologyIllustrated.com
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