The Three Grand Lodges and the Grand Originals

A brief overview of the three Grand Lodges and the Grand Originals we commemorate (Regarding their historical and biblical references)

Compiled by – Ex. Comp. Ron Howell (v4)

 The First or Holy Lodge:

Was held at the foot of Mont Horeb in the wilderness of Sinai: So the responses go to the questions asked of the Principal Sojourner before the Toasts.

But what references are there that we can attribute to this response:

Well: Mount Horeb is the mountain at which the book of Deuteronomy states that the Ten Commandments were given to Moses by God. It is described in two places: Exodus 3:1 and 1 Kings 19:8. In other biblical passages, these events are described as having transpired at Mount Sinai. Although Sinai and Horeb are often considered to have been different names for the same place, with the eastern side of the mountain being called Sinai and the western side being called Horeb, as the mountain had two tops which bore these different names. There is also a body of opinion that they may have been totally different locations.

Horeb is thought to mean “glowing/heat”, which seems to reference the Sun, while Sinai may have derived from the name of Sin, the Sumerian deity of the Moon, and thus Sinai and Horeb would be the mountains of the moon and sun respectively.

The name Horeb first appears at Exodus 3:1 with the story of Moses and the Burning bush. According to Exodus 3:5 the ground of the mountain was considered holy, and Moses was commanded by God to remove his shoes. Exodus 17:6 describes the incident when the Israelites were in the wilderness without water. Moses was “upon the rock at Horeb”, struck the rock and obtained drinking water from the rock. The only other use of the name in Exodus is at Exodus 33:6 “And the children of Israel stripped themselves of their ornaments by the mount of Horeb”.

Horeb is mentioned several times in  Deuteronomy; in the account of the wanderings of the Israelites in the wilderness; Deuteronomy 1:2, 1:6 and 1:19. In 1:6 Moses recalled that God had said to the Israelites at Horeb “You have dwelt long enough at this mountain: turn and take your journey” confirming the same suggestion that Horeb was the location for which they set off towards Canaan. The account of delivery of the Ten Commandments, and references back to it, include mentions of Horeb at Deuteronomy 4:10 “Specially the day that thou stoodest before the Lord they God in Horeb, when the Lord said to me, “Gather the people together and I will make them hear my words, that they may learn to fear me all the days that they shall live upon the earth and that they may teach their children”.

Further mentions of Mount Horeb appear in Deuteronomy as follows: Deu 4:15 Take ye therefore good heed unto yourselves; for ye saw no manner of similitude on the day that the LORD spake unto you in Horeb out of the midst of the fire: Deu 5:2 The LORD our God made a covenant with us in Horeb.

And Deu 9:8 Also in Horeb ye provoked the LORD to wrath, so that the LORD was angry with you to have destroyed you.

So we know that Mount Horeb played an important part in the lives and history of the Israelitish people. But what about the Three Grand Principals who presided?

Well we have heard about Moses, as you would expect to, of the person who spoke directly with God.

But what about Aholiab and Bezaleel?

To find anything of these two Israelites we first have to look in Exodus 31 1:6. “Then the Lord spoke to Moses saying “See, I have called by name Bezaleel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. And have filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship, to devise cunning works, to work in gold, in silver, and in brass, and in carving stones to set them, and in carving of timber, and to work in all manner of workmanship. And I, behold, I have given with him Aholiab the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan.  And in the hearts of all that are wise hearted I have put wisdom, that they will make all that I have commanded of you”. And then in the following passages in Exodus:

Exo 35:30 And Moses said unto the children of Israel, See, the LORD hath called by name Bezaleel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah; Exo 38:23 And with him was Aholiab, son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan, an engraver, and a cunning workman, and an embroiderer in blue, and in purple, and in scarlet, and fine linen. Exo 36:2 And Moses called Bezaleel and Aholiab, and every wise hearted man, in whose heart the LORD had put wisdom, even every one whose heart stirred him up to come unto the work to do it:Exo 36:1 Then wrought Bezaleel and Aholiab, and every wise hearted man, in whom the LORD put wisdom and understanding to know how to work all manner of work for the service of the sanctuary, according to all that the LORD had commanded. Exo 37:1 And Bezaleel made the ark of shittim wood: two cubits and a half was the length of it, and a cubit and a half the breadth of it, and a cubit and a half the height of it: Exo 38:22 And Bezaleel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, made all that the LORD commanded Moses.

So we can see that Bezaleel and Aholiab were entrusted with very important work by God to build and manage the building of the Ark of the Covenant as well as all the other items associated with the Sanctuary or the Tabernacle of the tent of the congregation. Forming, together with Moses, what we refer to in our ritual; as the First or Holy Lodge.

The Second or Sacred Lodge or the First Holy Temple –Solomon’s Temple

Our responses tell us that it was held in the bosom of the Holy Mount Moriah and presided over by: Solomon, King of Israel, Hiram King of Tyre and Hiram Abif.

In Chronicles 2Chr 3:1 we learn: Then Solomon began to build the house of the LORD at Jerusalem in mount Moriah, where the Lord appeared unto David his father, in the place that David had prepared in the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite or Araunah the Jebusite, as we understand it.

The crowning achievement of King Solomon’s reign was the erection of the magnificent Temple (Hebrew – Beit haMikdash), in the capital city of ancient Israel – Jerusalem. His father, King David had wanted to build the great Temple a generation earlier, as a permanent resting place for the Ark of the Covenant, which contained the Ten Commandments. A divine edict, however had forbidden him from doing so: “You will not build a house in My name,” God said to David, “for you are a man of battles and have shed blood” (Chronicles 28:3).

In the fourth year of his reign, 833 BCE, King Solomon found himself at peace with his neighbours and began the construction of the Temple. The site chosen by King David was the top of Mount Moriah, where Abraham had once proved his readiness to offer up his dearly beloved son in obedience to G‑d’s command.

The Bible’s description of Solomon’s Temple (also called The First Temple) suggests that the inside ceiling was 180 feet long, 90 feet wide, and 50 feet high. The highest point on the Temple that King Solomon built was in the region of 120 cubits tall (about 20 stories or about 207 feet). Based on a cubit being approximately 21 inches or the length from hand to elbow, however the ancient cubit varied from around 13 inches to 21 inches According to the Tanach (II Chronicles):

11 Chronicles 3:3 quotes: “The length by cubits after the ancient measure was threescore cubits, and the breadth twenty cubits”.  (Approx. 103.5ft x 34.5ft) 3:4- “And the porch that was before the house, the length of it, according to the breadth of the house, was twenty cubits, and the height a hundred and twenty.” (Approx. 34.5ft x 207ft); “and he overlaid it within with pure gold”.

Tens of thousands of men were needed to perform the many tasks required for the gigantic undertaking. Men were sent to Lebanon to cut down cedar trees. Stones were hewn near the quarries, and then brought up to Moriah, there to be fitted together. In the valley of the Jordan the bronze was cast. Craftsmen were brought in from Tyre to help perfect the work. Ships set sail eastward and westward to bring the choicest materials for the adornment of the House of G‑d.

Solomon spared no expense for the building’s creation. He ordered vast quantities of cedar wood from King Hiram of Tyre (I Kings 5:20­25), had huge blocks of the choicest stone quarried, and commanded that the building’s foundation be laid with hewn stone. To complete the massive project, he imposed forced labour on all his subjects, drafting people for work shifts that sometimes lasted a month at a time. Some 3,300 officials were appointed to oversee the Temple’s erection (5:27­30). Solomon assumed such heavy debts in building the Temple that he is forced to pay off King Hiram by handing over twenty towns in the Galilee (I Kings 9:11).

It took seven years to complete the Temple. In the twelfth year of his reign, in 825 BCE, King Solomon dedicated the Temple and all its contents. The Ark of the Covenant was brought into the Temple amidst inaugural celebrations that lasted for seven days.

When the Temple was completed, Solomon inaugurated it with prayer and sacrifice, and even invited non­Jews to come and pray there. He urged God to pay particular heed to their prayers: “Hear thou in heaven they dwelling place and do according to all that the stranger  calleth to thee for that all people of the earth may know they name and fear thee as thy people Israel; and that they may know that this house, which I have builded is called by thy name.” (I Kings 8:43).

As glorious and elaborate as the Temple was, its most important room contained almost no furniture at all. Known as the Holy of Holies (Kodesh Kodashim), it housed the two tablets of the Ten Commandments inside the Ark of Covenant.

For the next 400 odd years, the Jewish people would bring daily offerings to this magnificent edifice, and here the nation would gather three times a year to “see and to be seen by the face of G‑d.” Here the Divine Presence was manifest. Ten daily miracles – such as the wind never extinguishing the fire on the altar – attested to G‑d’s presence in the Temple. This was the archetype of the “dwelling for G‑d in the physical world” that is the purpose of its creation.

Solomon’s reign was a golden era. His capital became the centre of wisdom, riches, and splendour. Monarchs as well as ordinary people came to gaze on all the marvels to be seen there, and left wide-eyed with amazement and awe. The Land of Israel developed into a great centre of commerce. The Jews lived in peace and happiness, “every man under his vine and under his fig tree.”

Of the three Grand Principles; We know of King Solomon and Hiram King of Tyre, however Hiram Abif is an elusive character in historical and biblical terms.

In the Hebrew Bible or Old Testament, there are three separate instances of people named Hiram that were involved in the construction of the temple of Solomon:

Hiram, King of the realm of Tyre (today, in the modern nation of Lebanon), is credited in 2 Samuel 5:11 and 1 Kings 5:1-10 for having sent building materials and men for the original construction of the Temple in Jerusalem. In the Masonic drama, “Hiram, King of Tyre” is clearly distinguished from “Hiram Abiff”. The former is clearly a king and the latter clearly a master craftsman. Although they can be confused in other contexts.

In 1 Kings 7:13–14, Hiram is described as the son of a widow from the tribe of Naphtali who was the son of a Tyrian bronze worker, sent for by Solomon to cast the bronze furnishings and ornate decorations for the new temple. From this reference, Freemasons often refer to Hiram (with the added Abiff) as “the widow’s son.” Hiram cast these bronzes in clay ground in the plain of the Jordan between Succoth and Zarethan/Zeredathah (1 Kings 7:46-47).

2 Chronicles 2:13-14 relates a formal request from King Solomon of Jerusalem to King Hiram I of Tyre, for workers and for materials to build a new temple. King Hiram (Huram in Chronicles) responds “And now I have sent a skilful man, endowed with understanding, Ḥuram ‘abi. (the son of a woman of the daughters of Dan, and his father was a man of Tyre), skilled to work in gold and silver, bronze and iron, stone and wood, purple and blue, fine linen and crimson, and to make any engraving and to accomplish any plan which may be given to him, with your skillful men and with the skillful men of my lord David your father.” The previous phrase is translated in the New King James Version as “Huram my master craftsman”. Most translations of this passage take the “‘ab-” in “‘abi” as the construct state of ‘abba, here translated as master. Older translations preferred to translate “‘ab-” as father. In his 1723 “Constitutions”, James Anderson announced that many problems with this text would be solved by reading “‘abi” as the second part of a proper name, which he rendered as “Hiram Abif”, agreeing with the translations of Martin Luther and Miles Coverdale’s reading of 2 Chronicles 4:16.

In other accounts: Flavius Josephus in his Antiquities of the Jews (Chapter 8:76) refers to Hiram as artificer, craftsman. “Now Solomon sent for an artificer out of Tyre, whose name was Hiram: he was by birth of the tribe of Naphtali, on his mother’s side (for she was of that tribe); but his father was Ur, of the stock of the Israelites.”

The Targum Sheni, an Aramaic commentary on the Book of Esther written sometime between the fall of Rome and the Crusades, credits Hiram with the construction of a miraculous throne for Solomon, which in Esther’s time is being used by the descendants of Cyrus the Great.

So there we have a number of biblical and historical references to a Master Craftsman named Hiram at the building of King Solomon’s Temple who we know together with King Solomon and Hiram King of Tyre as one of the three principals who presided at the building of the  First Temple or Second or Sacred Lodge.

The destruction of the First Holy Temple

The Beginning of the End

At the end of King Solomon’s life, he was guilty of indiscretions unbefitting his great stature. G‑d told him he would be punished. After his death, the kingdom would be torn in two.

Indeed, after Solomon’s death, the ten northern tribes refused to accept his son Rehoboam as their king. In 796 BCE, the country was divided into two kingdoms: the Kingdom of Israel in the north and the Kingdom of Judah (containing Jerusalem) in the south.

In one example, in 661 BCE, the prophet Zechariah ben Jehoiada chastised the nation for their sins, warning them of the grave punishments that would befall them if they would not change their ways. Rather than accept his rebuke, the nation stoned Zechariah to death in the Temple courtyard. Incredibly, this occurred on Yom Kippur.

As a result of the disobedient and corrupt behaviour of the Jews, G‑d did not provide either kingdom with the peace and security that the united kingdom had enjoyed under Solomon’s reign. Their common enemy was the Assyrian empire to the north.

In 555 BCE, Samaria, the capital of the northern kingdom, fell to the Assyrians, and the Kingdom of Israel came to an end. Scores of thousands of the conquered people were led into captivity. They were transported to distant provinces of the Assyrian empire, and they disappeared completely. The Assyrians repopulated the land with exiles that had been uprooted from other countries, whose descendants came to be called the Samaritans or Kuttim. No trace has been found of the Ten Tribes.

The Kingdom of Judah miraculously survived the Assyrian threat and lasted another 150 years. Their kings were not uniformly evil as the kings of the Kingdom of Israel had been; they had several truly righteous monarchs – notably among them Hezekiah and Josiah – and enjoyed occasional bouts of resurgent spiritual health. But eventually, they would fall victim to the Babylonians.

 

The Book of Lamentations

Beginning in 626 BCE, Jeremiah prophesized about the Babylonian threat and warned the Jews of the terrible devastation they would incur if they did not stop worshipping idols and mistreating each other. But his melancholic prophecies, recorded in the Book of Jeremiah, went largely unheeded by the Jews, who mocked and persecuted him.

Some eighteen years before the destruction of the Temple, Jeremiah was imprisoned by King Jehoiakim (apparently due to his persistent prophecies foretelling the fall of Jerusalem). G‑d then spoke to Jeremiah (Jeremiah ch. 36): “Take for yourself a scroll and write upon it all the words that I have spoken to you concerning Israel and concerning Judah. . . . Perhaps the house of Judah will hear all the evil that I plan to do to them, in order that they should repent, each man of his evil way, and I will forgive their iniquity and their sin.”

Jeremiah summoned his devoted disciple, Baruch ben Neriah, and dictated to him a heart-rending and graphic warning of the coming doom; this prophecy eventually became known as the Book of Lamentations (“Eichah”).

In this scroll, Jeremiah described and mourned the devastation that G‑d would wreak upon Jerusalem and the Holy Land: children starving; cannibalism on the part of hunger-crazed mothers, the city abandoned.

Baruch ben Neriah followed Jeremiah’s instructions. He publicly read the scroll in the Holy Temple. When the king was informed of this event, he asked that the scroll be read to him. After hearing but a few verses, the king grabbed the scroll and callously threw it into the fireplace.

When Jeremiah was informed of the king’s actions, he sat and composed another chapter that he added to the book.

The Babylonians Are Coming

The Assyrians had long dominated the Middle East, but their power was waning. Even with the help of the Egyptians, who were getting stronger, they were not able to fight off the Babylonians. These three empires were engaged in a power struggle, and the Kingdom of Judah was caught in the middle.

In 597 BCE, the Kingdom of Judah tried to form an alliance with Egypt. The Jews thought that this would keep them safe. But instead, the Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar, marched on Judah. He pillaged Jerusalem and deported tens of thousands of Jews to his capital in Babylon; all the deportees were drawn from the upper classes, the wealthy, and craftsmen. Ordinary people were allowed to stay in Judah, and Nebuchadnezzar appointed a puppet king over Judah, Zedekiah.

But Zedekiah, though G‑d fearing and righteous, was foolishly courageous, and he tried to break free from the Babylonians. So Nebuchadnezzar marched on Jerusalem again. This time he would not be content with making Judah into a vassal state. On the tenth of Tevet (Winter month of 29 days between Kislev – December and Sh’vat – January), 586 BCE, Nebuchadnezzar began the siege of Jerusalem.

 The Destruction

Thirty months later, in the month of Tammuz, (July), after a long siege during which hunger and epidemics ravaged the city, the city walls were breached. King Zedekiah tried to escape through an eighteen-mile long tunnel, but he was captured in the plains of Jericho by enemy soldiers who, while chasing a deer, saw him emerging. He was brought before Nebuchadnezzar in Riblah. There Zedekiah’s sons and many other Jewish personages were slain before his eyes; then his eyes were put out, and he was led in chains to Babylon.

On the seventh day of Av, (August), the chief of Nebuchadnezzar’s army, Nebuzaradan, began the destruction of Jerusalem. The walls of the city were torn down, and the royal palace and other structures in the city were set on fire.

On the ninth day of Av, (August), toward evening, the Holy Temple was set on fire and destroyed. The fire burned for 24 hours.

Everything of gold and silver that still remained was carried off as loot by the Babylonian soldiers. All the beautiful works of art with which King Solomon had once decorated and ornamented the holy edifice were destroyed or taken away. The holy vessels of the Temple that could be found were brought to Babylon. The high priest and many other high officials and priests were executed. In addition millions more were killed inside and outside of the city. Many thousands of the people that had escaped the sword were taken prisoner and led into captivity in Babylon, where some of their best had already preceded them. Only the poorest of the residents of Jerusalem were permitted to stay on to plant the vineyards and work in the fields.

Thus ended the empire of David and Solomon; thus the magnificent city and Holy Temple were destroyed. Thus G‑d punished His people for deserting Him and His laws. All this had been predicted in the Torah, and it truly came to pass with all the horror of which Moses had warned.

The prophet Jeremiah, however promised that the Jewish people would return to Jerusalem and rebuild the Temple.

That would come to pass seventy years later.

The third or Grand and Royal Lodge (the Second Temple)

Construction of 2nd Temple (559 – 516 BCE)

The accession of Cyrus the Great of the Persian Empire in 559 BCE made the re-establishment of the city of Jerusalem and the rebuilding of the Temple possible. According to the Bible, when the Jewish exiles returned to Jerusalem following a decree from Cyrus the Great (Ezra 1:1-4, 2 Chron 36:22-23), construction started at the original site of Solomon’s Temple, which had remained a devastated heap during the approximately 70 years of captivity (Dan. 9:1-2). After a relatively brief halt due to opposition from peoples who had filled the vacuum during the Jewish captivity (Ezra 4), work resumed in c. 521 BCE under Darius the Great (Ezra 5) and was completed during the sixth year of his reign (c. 516 BCE), with the temple dedication taking place the following year.

Fifty three years following the destruction of the First Holy Temple (see Jewish History for the 9th of Av), Zerubabel and Joshua the High Priest began construction of the Second Temple, with permission from King Cyrus of Persia.

The offering of sacrifices had actually commenced a few months earlier, on the vacant lot where the 1st Temple stood, however it was only after the construction started on the 1st of Iyar, (May), that the Levites began accompanying the service with song and music.

The construction was later halted after the hostile Samaritans supplied false and slanderous information to Cyrus about the Jews’ intentions. The construction was resumed many years later, and completed under the reign of King Darius.

Based on the biblical account, after the return from Babylonian captivity, arrangements were immediately made to reorganize the desolated Yehud Province after the demise of the Kingdom of Judah seventy years earlier. The body of pilgrims, forming a band of 42,360, having completed the long and dreary journey of some four months, from the banks of the Euphrates to Jerusalem, were animated in all their proceedings by a strong religious impulse, and therefore one of their first concerns was to restore their ancient house of worship by rebuilding their destroyed Temple and reinstituting the sacrificial rituals known as the korbanot or Sacrifices in the Desert.

(Here’s a quick summary:

  • A group of people called the kohanim (“priests”) were the only ones who were allowed to make sacrifices to bring people close to God. The first kohen was Aaron, and his sons became kohanim after him.
  • The kohanim would make sacrifices for themselves, for other individual Jews, or for the entire Jewish people.
  • These sacrifices were called korbanot. The word korban means “something which draws close.” Their purpose was to bring people closer to God)

On the invitation of Zerubbabel, the governor, who showed them a remarkable example of liberality by contributing personally 1,000 golden darics, besides other gifts, the people poured their gifts into the sacred treasury with great enthusiasm. First they erected and dedicated the altar of God on the exact spot where it had formerly stood, and they then cleared away the charred heaps of debris which occupied the site of the old temple; and in the second month of the second year (535 BCE), amid great public excitement and rejoicing, the foundations of the Second Temple were laid. A wide interest was felt in this great movement, although it was regarded with mixed feelings by the spectators.

The Samaritans made proposals for co-operation in the work. Zerubbabel and the elders, however, declined all such cooperation, feeling that the Jews must build the Temple without help. Immediately evil reports were spread regarding the Jews. According to Ezra 4:5, the Samaritans sought to “frustrate their purpose” and sent messengers to Ecbatana and Susa, with the result that the work was suspended. Seven years later, Cyrus the Great, who allowed the Jews to return to their homeland and rebuild the Temple, died, and was succeeded by his son Cambyses. On his death, the “false Smerdis,” an imposter, occupied the throne for some seven or eight months, and then Darius I of Persia became king (522 BCE). In the second year of this monarch the work of rebuilding the temple was resumed and carried forward to its completion, under the stimulus of the earnest counsels and admonitions of the prophets Haggai and Zechariah. It was ready for consecration in the spring of 516 BCE, more than twenty years after the return from captivity. The Temple was completed on the third day of the month Adar, (February), in the sixth year of the reign of King Darius, amid great rejoicings on the part of all the people, although it was evident that the Jews were no longer an independent people, but were subject to a foreign power. The Book of Haggai includes a prediction that the glory of the second temple would be greater than that of the first.

Since some of the original artifacts were, according to the biblical account, lost after the destruction of the First Temple, the Second Temple lacked the following holy articles: The Ark of the Covenant containing the Tablets of Stone, before which were placed the pot of manna and Aaron’s rod, The Urim and Thummim (divination objects contained in the Hoshen), The holy oil, The sacred fire.

In the Second Temple, the Kodesh Hakodashim (Holy of Holies) was separated by curtains rather than a wall as in the First Temple. Still, as in the Tabernacle, the Second Temple included: The Menorah (golden lamp) for the Hekhal, The Table of Showbread, The golden altar of incense, with golden censers. According to the Mishnah (Middot iii. 6), the “Foundation Stone” stood where the Ark used to be, and the High Priest put his censer on it on Yom Kippur.

The Second Temple also included many of the original vessels of gold that had been taken by the Babylonians but restored by Cyrus the Great. According to the Babylonian Talmud (Yoma 22b) however, the Temple lacked the Shekinah, the dwelling or settling divine presence of God, and the Ruach HaKodesh, the Spirit of Holiness, present in the first.

The three Grand Principals:

Zerubbabel, Prince of the People, Haggai the Prophet and Joshua the son of Josedech the High Priest.

Zerubbabel:

Zerubbabel was a governor of the Persian Province of Yehud Medinata (Haggai 1:1) and the grandson of Jehoiachin, penultimate king of Judah. Zerubbabel led the first group of Jews, numbering 42,360, who returned from the Babylonian Captivity in the first year of Cyrus, King of Persia (Ezra). The date is generally thought to have been between 538 and 520 BC. Zerubbabel also laid the foundation of the Second Temple in Jerusalem soon after.

In all of the accounts in the Hebrew Bible that mention Zerubbabel, he is always associated with the high priest who returned with him, Joshua (Jeshua) son of Jozadak (Jehozadak). Together, these two men led the first wave of Jewish returnees from exile and began to rebuild the Temple (Ezra). An Old Testament theologian John Kessler describes the region of Judah as a small province that contained land extending 25 km from Jerusalem and was independently ruled prior to the Persian rule. Zerubbabel was the governor of this province. King Darius I of Persia appointed Zerubbabel governor of the Province. It was after this appointment that Zerubbabel began to rebuild the Temple.

There is speculation that one of the reasons that Zerubbabel was able to rebuild the Temple was because of “the widespread revolts at the beginning of the reign of Darius I in 522 BC, which preoccupied him to such a degree that Zerubbabel felt he could initiate the rebuilding of the temple without repercussions”.

The Davidic line from Jeconiah had been cursed by Jeremiah, saying that no descendant of “Coniah” would ever sit on the throne again (Jer. 22:30). Zerubbabel was of the main Davidic line through Solomon and Jeconiah.

The prophets Zechariah and Haggai both give unclear statements regarding Zerubbabel’s authority in their oracles, in which Zerubbabel was either the subject of a false prophecy or the receiver of a divine promotion to kingship. He could also be viewed as a governor of a state within another nation and thus technically “not on the throne” of a nation. Either way, he was given the task of rebuilding the Temple in the second year of the reign of Darius I (518 BC), along with the high priest Joshua son of Jehozadak.

Haggai

Haggai was a Hebrew prophet during the building of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, and one of the twelve minor prophets in the Hebrew Bible and the author of the Book of Haggai. His name means “my holiday”. He was the first of three post-exile prophets from the Neo-Babylonian Exile of the House of Judah (with Zechariah, his contemporary, and Malachi, who lived about one hundred years later), who belonged to the period of Jewish history which began after the return from captivity in Babylon.

Scarcely anything is known of his personal history. He may have been one of the captives taken to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar. He began his ministry about sixteen years after the return of the Jews to Judah. The work of rebuilding the temple had been put to a stop through the intrigues of the Samaritans. After having been suspended for eighteen years, the work was resumed through the efforts of Haggai and Zechariah. They exhorted the people, which roused them from their lethargy, and induced them to take advantage of a change in the policy of the Persian government under Darius the Great.

Haggai supported the officials of his time, specifically Zerubbabel, the governor, and Joshua the High Priest. In the Book of Haggai, God refers to Zerubbabel as “my servant” as King David was, and says he will make him as a “signet ring,” as King Jehoiachin was (Haggai 2:23; cf. Jer 22:24). The signet ring symbolized a ring worn on the hand of Yahweh, showing that a king held divine favour. Thus, Haggai is implicitly, but not explicitly, saying that Zerubbabel would preside over a restored Davidic kingdom.

Joshua son of Josedech

Joshua or Yeshua the High Priest was, according to the Bible, the first person chosen to be the High Priest for the reconstruction of the Jewish Temple after the return of the Jews from the Babylonian Captivity (See Zechariah 6:9-14 and Ezra 3 in the Bible). While the name Yeshua is used in Ezra–Nehemiah for the High Priest, he is called Joshua son of Yehozadak in the books of Haggai and Zechariah.

Yeshua son of Jozadak served as High Priest ca. 515-490 BCE in the common List of High Priests of Israel. This dating is based on the period of service age 25-50 (per Book of Numbers 8) .The biblical text credits Joshua among the leaders that inspired a momentum towards the reconstruction of the temple, in Ezra 5:2..

The destruction of the Second Temple

Leaving for Rome to assume power, Vespasian transferred control of the army to his son Titus. After Pesach 70 CE, the final battles for Jerusalem began. The emaciated Jews fought bravely and tenaciously, but Roman assault teams eventually overwhelmed them.

On the 17th of Tammuz, (July), the Romans broke through the walls of Jerusalem. The fast day of 17 Tammuz, (July), marks this and other tragedies that occurred on that day throughout history.

On the 9th of Av,(August), the Romans entered the Bais Hamikdash, (Holy Temple),  late in the afternoon setting it on fire. Josephus graphically describes the carnage:

“As the flames caught, a fearful cry welled up from the Jews, who rushed to the rescue, caring nothing for their lives…Around the Altar were heaps of corpses, while streams of blood flowed down the steps of the sanctuary…While the Temple was in flames, the victors stole everything they could lay their hands on, and slaughtered all who were caught. No pity was shown to age or rank, old men or children, the laity or priests — all were massacred. As the flames roared up, and since the Temple stood on a hill, it seemed as if the whole city were ablaze. The noise was deafening, with war cries of the legions, howls of the rebels surrounded by fire and sword, and the shrieks of the people. The ground was hidden by corpses, and the soldiers had to climb over heaps of bodies in pursuit of the fugitives.”

The Bais Hamikdash, (Holy Temple), started burning late on 9th Av,(August), and burned throughout the entire day afterward.

After the destruction, the Romans emptied the Temple treasuries, with gold becoming so commonplace that its price dropped by 50%. Drunk with victory, the soldiers entered the Temple courtyard, offered sacrifices to their gods, and praised Titus. Titus himself entered the Kodesh HaKodoshim, (Holy of Holies), committed a lewd and despicable act, and disdainfully slashed the holy curtain, the paroches, with his sword. Miraculously, blood spurted from the curtain, causing Titus to believe that he had killed the Almighty.

The destruction was so complete that only the Western Wall, the Kosel HaMa’aravi, was left standing, for G‑d had promised that the Holy Temple would never be entirely destroyed. After the fall of the Temple, the Romans spent the next four weeks crushing the remaining resistance; by the 7th of Elul, (September) they had complete control of Jerusalem. Thousands of captured Jews were executed, while those that remained alive envied the dead, for the survivors were sent to the mines of Egypt or became gladiators, fighting each other or wild beasts for the amusement of the Romans. Finally, so many Jews were available as slaves that there was no need for slave markets. Overall, Jewish casualties were enormous – more than one million killed in Jerusalem alone, with nearly 100,000 taken captive.

The Third Holy Temple?

Since the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE, religious Jews have expressed their desire to see the building of a Third Temple on the Temple Mount. Prayer for this is a formal part of the Jewish tradition of thrice daily Amidah prayer. Though it remains unbuilt, the notion of and desire for a Third Temple is sacred in Judaism, particularly Orthodox Judaism, and anticipated as a soon to be built place of worship. The prophets in the Tanakh called for its construction to be fulfilled prior to, or in tandem with, the Messianic age. The rebuilding of the Third Temple also plays a major role in some interpretations of Christian eschatology.

Architectural plans for the third Temple exist most notably in Chapters 40–47 of the Book of Ezekiel (Ezekiel’s vision pre-dates the Second Temple) and some scholars entertain the notion that the Temple Scroll also describes the Third Temple.

Since a number of Jewish scholars have stated that the deadline for the arrival of the Jewish Messiah is the Jewish Year 6000 (2240 CE), this would also seem to be a deadline for beginning the construction of the Third Temple.

Ron Howell 30/1/2017 – V4

References where not indicated in script:

The King James Bible, The Talmud, The Tanaka, jewishvirtuallibrary.org, Chabad.org, Wikipedia.org

The dates referred to in the paper are based on those which I found in the various documentations relating to the history of the individuals and the events surrounding them and are those which seem to run in a relatively sequential order. However there are many other dates which can be found in historical/rabbinical/Biblical papers which vary by several hundred years and therefore I cannot state that in this relatively short overview that any of the dates are 100% correct.

Ancient Israelitish Calendar:

January-Sh’vat, February-Adar, March-Adar11, April-Nisan, May-Iyyar, June-Sivan, July-Tamuz, August-Av, September-Elul, October-Tishrei, November-Cheshvan, December-Kislev. Tevet – is the fourth month of the civil year and the tenth month of the ecclesiastical year on the Hebrew calendar. It follows Kislev and precedes Sh’vat. It is a winter month of 29 days.

Explanation of Israelitish names

Yom Kippur – Yom means “day” in Hebrew and Kippur comes from a root that means “to atone”, which is related to the biblical name of the covering of the Ark (called the kapporet). Yom Kippur is usually expressed in English as “Day of Atonement”.

Hekhal – The Hekhal, or Holy Place, (1 Kings 8:8–10), is also called the “greater house” (2 Chr. 3:5) and the “temple” (1 Kings 6:17); the word also means “palace”, was of the same width and height as the Holy of Holies, but 40 cubits in length. Its walls were lined with cedar, on which were carved figures of cherubim, palm-trees, and open flowers, which were overlaid with gold. Chains of gold further marked it off from the Holy of Holies. The floor of the Temple was of fir-wood overlaid with gold. The door-posts, of olive-wood, supported folding doors of fir. The doors of the Holy of Holies were of olive-wood. On both sets of doors were carved cherubim, palm-trees, and flowers, all being overlaid with gold (1 Kings 6:15 et seq)

Aaron’s rod – Aaron’s rod refers to any of the staves carried by Moses’s brother, Aaron, in the Torah. The Bible tells how, along with Moses’s rod, Aaron’s rod was endowed with miraculous power during the Plagues of Egypt that preceded the Exodus. There are two occasions where the Bible tells of the rod’s power even when it was not being held by its owner.

Pesach – Pesach or Passover is an important, biblically derived Jewish festival. The Jewish people celebrate Passover as a commemoration of their liberation by God from slavery in Egypt and their freedom as a nation under the leadership of Moses. It commemorates the story of the Exodus as described in the Hebrew Bible especially in the Book of Exodus, in which the Israelites were freed from slavery in Egypt. According to standard biblical chronology, this event would have taken place at about 1300 BCE (AM 2450).

Mishnah – Mishnah or Mishna  is the first major written redaction of the Jewish oral traditions known as the “Oral Torah”. It is also the first major work of Rabbinic literature.

Hoshen – The priestly breastplate was a sacred breastplate worn by the High Priest of the Israelites, according to the Book of Exodus. In the biblical account, the breastplate is sometimes termed the breastplate of judgment, because the Urim and Thummim were placed within it. These stones were, at times, used to determine God’s will in a particular situation (see Exodus 28:30). It should be noted that using these stones did not always determine God’s will (see 1 Samuel 28:6). If any other way was not given by God, the high priest would find God’s guidance

Urim and Thummim – In the Hebrew Bible, the Urim and Thummim are associated with the hoshen (High Priest’s breastplate), divination in general, and cleromancy in particular. Most scholars suspect that the phrase refers to specific objects involved in the divination.

A Representation of the First Temple

Below is one representation of the First Temple – Although you will see that it does not match the size in height as described and referenced previously above.