The crowning achievement of King Solomon's reign was the erection of a magnificent Temple (Beit ha-Mikdash) in Jerusalem. His father, King David, had wanted to build a great Temple for God a generation earlier, as a permanent resting place for the Ark containing the Ten Commandments.
He spares no expense in the building's creation. He orders vast quantities of cedar from King Hiram of Tyre (I Kings 5:2025), has huge blocks of the choicest stone quarried, and commands that the building's foundation be laid with hewn stone. To complete the massive project, he imposes forced labor on all his subjects, drafting people for work shifts lasting a month at a time. Some 3,300 officials are appointed to oversee the Temple's erection (5:2730). Solomon assumes such heavy debts in building the Temple that he is forced to pay off King Hiram with twenty towns in the Galilee (I Kings 9:11).
When the Temple is completed, Solomon inaugurates it with prayer and sacrifice, and even invites nonJews to come and pray there. He urges God to pay particular heed to their prayers: "Thus all the peoples of the earth will know Your name and revere You, as does Your people Israel; and they will recognize that Your name is attached to this House that I have built" (I Kings 8:43).
The Temple was destroyed by the Babylonians some four hundred years later, in 586 B.C.E. Seventy years later, a second Temple was built on the same site. During the first century B.C.E., Herod greatly enlarged and expanded this Temple. The Second Temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 C.E., after the failure of the Great Revolt.
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. Unfortunately, the tablets disappeared when the Babylonians destroyed the Temple, and during the Second Temple era, the Holy of Holies was a small, entirely bare room. Only once a year, on Yom Kippur, the High Priest would enter this room and pray to God on Israel's behalf.
Text taken from www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org
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