Illustration: Cutting Down Ceders for the Construction of the Temple
By Gustave Dor'e
By Gustave Dor'e
In short the answer is: “No, not even close…”
Before examining what the Old Testament says about the temple, let’s just review for a moment what we know about the Western Wall.
The rabbis say the Western Wall is “the holiest site in Judaism”, because, until the temple mound is re-claimed, it is the closest point to the site of the original temples.
It has also been the location of some ugly confrontations with women worshipers who apparently offended the “religious Jews” when they tried to conduct a prayer service there. (Just as an aside: How could have Naomi, all by herself, have performed a conversion on the road from Moab if women aren’t even allowed to conduct a simple prayer service near the Western Wall ?).
The Old Testament tell us that God originally did not want a temple built, but relented to the pleas of King David. King David, however, was not allowed to build the temple because he had “blood on his hands”, so to speak, as a result of having had fought in so many battles etc, etc. in the defense of Israel. Nevertheless, he was definitely authorized by God to construct the temple and he did indeed collect together a great deal of the building materials eventually used by Solomon.
When the second temple was being built, Ezra and Nehemiah didn’t even allow the local population to participate in the construction of the wall around the city, much less the temple itself, because they didn’t consider the Samaritans to be pure Jews. (As a second aside: Ezra never said the children of gentile wives were not Jewish, he said they were being expelled from the community because the wives might contaminate and corrupt the beliefs of the Jews, just as Solomon’s wives corrupted his beliefs. Ezra could not go on to conclude that their children were not Jews because King Rehobaum was the son of one of Solomon’s gentile wives and there was no way that Ezra was going to declare that an anointed king of United Kingdom of Judah and Israel was not Jewish).
Nevertheless, there is no question that Ezra was authorized by God to rebuild the temple.
This then brings us to the Edomite convert: King Herod.
First of all: There is no such thing as conversion to Judaism in the Old Testament. If people were allowed to perform conversions then why didn’t Abraham convert his other seven sons? Why did he expel them all from his camp? Second, the Old Testament speaks ONLY about intermarriage, not about conversions. There are written laws in the Torah which regulate intermarriage and how long it takes for the children of such marriages to be considered to be Israelites.
There is absolutely no mention of conversions in the Old Testament, nor is there a procedure given as to how to perform a conversion. Furthermore, there is not one single convert mentioned in the Old Testament and certainly not in the Torah. NOT a single one…… In fact, the first assembled books of the Talmud don’t even mention conversions ! It is only the later works which discuss it (Ruth is never, ever, described as: a Jewess. She is either called: a Moabitess or: Naomi's daughter in law. In fact, when her son is born the neighboring women declare: " a son has been born to Naomi".)
So, the issue of King Herod being a Jewish convert is only viable if one agrees the rabbis have the authority to perform conversions. If they did indeed have this right then they granted it to themselves because they certainly did not get that authority from God.
Regardless, there is absolutely no doubt that King Herod was a murderer. Not only did he have priests in the Sanhedrin put to death, but he had members of his own family murdered.
So, if King David was not permitted to work on the temple because he had fought in the battles defending Israel, how is it possible that a murderer and a psychopath like King Herod was permitted by God to work on the temple? The answer is simple: “he wasn’t”.
As mentioned, the Old Testament clearly states that God did not want a temple built, but, in the end, he relented and gave David permission to collect the materials and authorized Solomon to build the temple.
Where is the authorization for King Herod to re-build and expand the temple? In other words: Did King Herod begin his expansion of the temple site to honor God or himself? Did God authorize this expansion or did King Herod authorize it himself? Or: Did he intimidate the religious authorities of his day to grant him that authority?
The rabbis today like to claim that the priests of that time did not permit Herod to work on the temple itself, only the surrounding buildings and temple mound. This then raises two issues:
1) Clearly it was recognized that King Herod was only to be involved in the construction of parts of the temple complex that were NOT considered to be holy (i.e. today’s Western Wall).
2) If King Herod was indeed not permitted to work on the temple, then: how did that Roman eagle get on the building, levitation ? And: Who put it there?
Regardless, even today, everyone agrees that the Western Wall has nothing to do with the original site of the temple and that it is only part of the expanded temple foundation constructed by Herod using slave labor.
As to whether or not King Herod was a pure Jew is almost laughable. He is always described as an Edomite, but was actually a mixture of Nabatean and Edomite parentage. He was not appointed King of the Jews by the Jews themselves. He was appointed King of the Jews by the Romans. Knowing that he was not considered to be a real Jew, Herod then married Mariamne to solidify his position in the community, but later murdered her.
Now, let’s consider the people who Ezra and Nehemiah rejected when they asked to participate in the reconstruction of the temple and city of Jerusalem. The Samaritan’s claimed to be Jews, but it was feared that they had intermarried with other peoples who had corrupted their beliefs. But, at least, there was something Jewish about the Samaritan’s ancestry and even Yitzhak Ben Zvi, the second president of Israel, agreed they had Jewish roots. King Herod was not related to the Jews in any way shape or form except that he was the descendant of people forced to convert. In fact, Herod’s status amongst the Jews of his day was that of “a Jewish slave”.
This is interesting because Sarah said of Ishmael that the son of a slave shall not share my son’s inheritance and God told Abraham to heed the voice of Sarah. Nevertheless, we are now expected to believe that God authorized this “Jewish slave” to rebuild the temple.
Let’s just see what Wikipedia has to say about this Jewish slave, shall we:
Herod (/ˈhɛrəd/; Hebrew: הוֹרְדוֹס, Hordos, Greek: Ἡρῴδης, Hērōdēs; 74/73 BCE – 4 BCE), also known as Herod the Great and Herod I, was a Roman client king of Judea, referred to as the Herodian kingdom. He has been described as "a madman who murdered his own family and a great many rabbis", "the evil genius of the Judean nation", "prepared to commit any crime in order to gratify his unbounded ambition", and "the greatest builder in Jewish history". He is known for his colossal building projects throughout Judea, including his expansion of the Second Temple in Jerusalem (Herod's Temple), the construction of the port at Caesarea Maritima, the fortress at Masada and Herodium. Vital details of his life are recorded in the works of the 1st century CE Roman–Jewish historian Josephus
Let’s just look at lines 3 thru 6 again, shall we:
He has been described as "a madman who murdered his own family and a great many rabbis", "the evil genius of the Judean nation", "prepared to commit any crime in order to gratify his unbounded ambition",
So, was the Western Wall built to glorify God or to glorify Herod? Stupid question, isn’t it?
The Western Wall, just like Masada, is without question an historical site, but: How many people travel halve way around the world to have their Bar Mitzvah at Masada?
A wall built by a madman and a murderer who was not even Jewish is today declared to be the holiest site in Israel by the rabbis…..Gee, I wonder why?
The answer can be found in a previous article I wrote about the rabbi’s declaring themselves to be God’s partners:
If you are God’s partner, then this implies you have the same authority and privileges that God has and, the rabbis, mistakenly, assume that God just haphazardly and arbitrarily declares places to be “holy”. The term “holy” has something to do with communicating with God. A holy place would be where communication with God is easier and holy food is something which makes communication with God easier, hence only the priests are permitted to eat it. Since God is the one who is being communicated with, then he obviously knows which places and which foods aid in this communication.
Since the rabbis don’t communicate with God and are NOT God’s partner’s they really have absolutely no idea whatsoever which land is “holy” and which is not. Nevertheless, because they also consider themselves to be “co creators’ with God, so they feel they are entitled to “create” holy places.
Hence, a wall built by and Edomite murderer and mad man becomes “holy” merely because a bunch of arrogant rabbis say so; not because it is actually holy....