Why The Second Temple Did Not Work

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Center for Tanakh Based Studies

By: William J Jackson

In Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28 we hear about the possibilities of both blessings and curses for Israel.  As for the curses, the condition was to obey God, or suffer the consequences.  Like most people, Israel was prone to disobedience. So, in 605 BCE Israel would receive the curses promised by God in the form of the Babylonian captivity.  God’s Prophet Jeremiah gives conformation to this in; Jeremiah 25:11, and 2 Chronicles 36:21-22.  On the up side, God also promised that these curses would reversed on a future date (Deuteronomy 4:31, Leviticus 26:42). Understandably many people believe that the curses were ended after the Babylonian captivity, when the Second Temple was built.  Using the Tanakh, we will determine if the curses did end and did God recognize the Second Temple.

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First, to understand if the Second Temple was successful, we need to understand God’s sovereignty through the Temple system. First God established the Tabernacle for Him to commune with Israel.  Undoubtedly the most crucial piece was the Ark of the Covenant where God met with Israel (Exodus 25:22).  After the Tabernacle was completed, God filled it with His glory (Exodus 40:34).   About 500 years later the Ark was moved into the Temple which King Solomon built for Him.  Again, as before, immediately God filled it with His glory (1 Kings 8:10-11, 2 Chronicles 5:13-14, 7:13).  So, if God honored the Second Temple, He would have filled it with His glory at its dedication.  He did not.  Nowhere in the Tanakh or even in Jewish literature does it say that God’s divine presence entered the Second Temple.  One of the major reasons for this might have been that the Ark of the Covenant was not a part of the Second Temple.  As it would be the Ark was missing, probably plundered by the Babylonians or hid1 from them.  Another reason may have been that Israel was still suffering the punishment of her disobedience.

Israel Scattered

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Admittedly, the Second Temple period must have felt like the curse was lifted when the Israelites returned home.  This is our assumption, yet only 5%2 of the Jews returned home, over 95% chose to stay in Babylon.  Also, many Jews never even went to Babylon at the beginning of the captivity.  They fled to Egypt instead (Jeremiah 43).  Additionally, the Babylonian captivity was not the only time large portions of Israelites were brought into internment.  Over a century earlier Northern Israel was brought into captivity.  Here Assyria took a large portion of the Israelite population in 720 BCE (2 Kings 15:29, 16:9).  This exile is where the phrase “the Ten Lost Tribes” was coined. We must remember part of the curse was that Israel would be dispersed among the nations (Leviticus 26:33, Deuteronomy 28:64-66).  This still appears to be true.

Corruption with the Second Temple Priesthood:

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The First Temple existed for 410 years, during that time there was 18 High Priest.  Conversely, the Second Temple existed 420 years and had an astounding 300 High Priests.  Thus, the second temple High Priest were in power, on the average, for about a year and a half, whereas the original Temple’s High Priest spent over 20 years in position.  The short terms for the Second Temple High Priests, no doubt, interrupted continuity in Temple practices.  Also, we need to ask ourselves, “why was there such a turn over with the Second Temple High Priests?” One theory is that during Yom Kippur, if the High Priest was not pure enough, he would have died3 when he entered the Holy of Holies.  It could have been this or the fact that the priestly positions were sold to the highest bidder4 or possibly both.  What we do know is that historically it is well established that the Priest within the Temple during the Second Temple period were corrupt5, 6.  Malachi makes this painfully clear in Malachi 2:1-9.

The Prophets

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Being a Prophet didn’t just mean predicting future events (Jeremiah 30:3), it meant having a relationship where God communicates with you and you influence your people, Israel (Exodus 3:2, 2 Chronicles 24:19, Jeremiah 26:5, Isaiah 51:4). As for the Prophet influencing Israel, this was usually done through the King. Interestingly, there were very few prophets around after the Babylonian captivity.  Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel were around before and after the destruction of the Temple and Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi where around with Israel’s return home.  But with Malachi being the last Prophet in about 400 BCE and the Temple being completed in 350 BC7, God did not provide any Prophets after the Second Temple was completed.  Likewise, Israel did not really receive her freedom from Babylon in 539 BCE.  She would be controlled by Persia (539 – 334 BCE), Greece (334 – 197 BCE), Rome (197 – 636 CE) and so on.  In truth, Israel’s leadership from the destruction of the first Temple until 1948 has been token, with no true King.  Let us remember another aspect of the curse which is “you will be defeated and occupied by your enemy armies” (Leviticus 26:17, and Deuteronomy 28:25). This did not end after the Babylonian captivity in 539 BCE, it has gone on for over two and a half millenniums.

The Future Temple

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Many assume the future Temple spoken of in Tanakh is the Second Temple. Ezekiel talks about this Future Temple in Chapters 40 through 48 in his book. The Second Temple is much smaller, and less elaborate, than the one Ezekiel describes.  Ezekiel’s Temple appears to be one that Israel will earn through true her repentance (Ezekiel 43:9-11).  Also, we have Zechariah 6:12-13 talking about a future Temple being built by “The Branch” which is probably a metaphor for the future Messiah (Zechariah 3:8, Isaiah 11:1-16, Jeremiah 33:15).  Finally, we have Malachi 3:1-4 which states that God will “come to His Temple” while purify and re-establishing His Priesthood.  The Second Temple Priesthood was not purified, it was lacking.  These Temple references are depicting a future Temple earned through repentance which has not happened yet.

Conclusion

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The history of Israel is having the blessings of God, being punished for disobedience and eventually being redeemed.  Many feel that Israel was redeemed after the Babylonian captivity when the Second Temple was built.  The Second Temple does not seem to have been honored by God.  Yes, some of the curses appear to have been lifted recently; Israel being its own nation and the land being productive. However, Israel is still dispersed among the nations (Leviticus 26:33, Deuteronomy 28:64-66).  Fortunately, God does promise a future day they He will gathered His dispersed; Isaiah 11:11-12, 27:12-13, Ezekiel 20:34.

 

Reference:

  1. Milikowsky, Chaim. “Where Is the Lost Ark of the Covenant? The True History (of the Ancient Traditions).” Tradition, Transmission, and Transformation from Second Temple Literature through Judaism and Christianity in Late Antiquity: 208-29. doi:10.1163/9789004299139_010.

 

  1. Spiro, Ken, Rabbi. “History Crash Course #43: The Jews of Babylon.” Ken Spiro. September 1, 2001. Accessed April 26, 2016. http://kenspiro.com/article/history-crash-course-43-the-jews-of-babylon/.

 

  1. “Priest on a Rope: High Holidays – Yom Kippur Response on Ask the Rabbi.” Aishcom. Accessed April 23, 2016. http://www.aish.com/atr/Priest_on_a_Rope.html.

 

  1. Kahane, Rabbi Daniel. Kabbalah of Time: Revelation of Hidden Light through the Jewish Calendar. Place of Publication Not Identified: IUniverse Com, 2013, Page 195

 

  1. Babylonian Talmud, Pesahim 57, 1, Tosefta, Minhot 13, 21

 

  1. Spiro, Ken. “The Second Temple.” The Second Temple. Accessed April 23, 2016. http://www.simpletoremember.com/articles/a/the_second_temple/.were

 

  1. Goldwurm, Hersh. History of the Jewish people: the Second Temple era, Mesorah Publications, 1982. Appendix: Year of the Destruction, pg. 213. ISBN 0-89906-454-X
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Where do I stand? Pertaining to God’s Civil Laws – Part 2, Neglect Crimes

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Where do I stand?
Pertaining to G-d’s Civil Laws – Part 2, Neglect Crimes
By: William J Jackson

A Crime of Neglect:

The definition of neglect in Exodus 21 – 22 is one that implies “because you chose not to control a hazard it led to a disaster“. These crimes of neglect range from not controlling livestock to not controlling ones temper.  The punishment in cases of neglect were not as harsh as the punishment for intentional crimes*.  The culprit usually had to pay the worth of the item that was destroyed.  The verdict sometimes protected the offender from a back lash from the victim and victims family. Here are the eight crimes of neglect and their punishments:

1. Striking a man and killing him without intent, the perpetrator will be allowed to flee to a sanctuary for protection  (Exodus 21:13, Numbers 35:25)

2. Harming a pregnant woman in a fight will result in a fine (Exodus 21:22)

3. Injuring somebody in a fight will result in compensation (Exodus 21:18-19)

4. If violent ox is not contained and kills another the owner will compensate and receive the dead ox (Exodus 21:36)

5. If livestock is given to somebody for safekeeping and it is stolen the one guarding the property will pay the owner (Exodus 22:11)

6. If you borrow an animal and it becomes injured or dies you will pay for it, unless the owner is with you. Exodus 22:13

7. If an animal feeds somebody else’s field the owner will repay with the best of his field (Exodus 22:4)

8. In he case of an out of control fire the one who ignites it will pay for damages (Exodus 22:5)

a. It’s in the motives:

"I struggled for years to understand what motivates me to do the things I do. Only took the jury five minutes."

Crimes of neglect and *intentional crimes are somewhat the same; both cause harm and are inspired by wrongful behavior. But it is the action in each that separates them.  One is inspired by aggressive sometimes plotting behavior (intentional) the other is inspired by uncaring callousness (neglect). We see obvious examples of neglect in the above rulings; i.e. leaving a hole uncovered or losing control of a controlled fire.  We can also draw on relevant examples in our “today” world such as keeping a dog on it’s leash and not texting while driving.

b. The compensation for these crimes was fair:

The compensation for victims in crimes of neglect was not extreme, usually enough to cover the damages.  Understandably excessive recompense could have motivate the sufferer to become greedy.  We have all seen this in cases such as suing McDonald’s for $2.86 million over a hot cup of coffee (1).

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c. Neglect gets in the way of our righteousness:
HaShem doesn’t want us living unconnected in our own little cocoons.  We are to be responsible to our brothers and sisters, and in this we will discover community.  We see this in our Patriarchs. Father Abraham fought for the people of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 18:22-33) as did Moses fight for Israel (Exodus 32:11-14, Numbers 14:13-20, Deuteronomy 9:25-29).  The Torah declares Abraham (Genesis 15:6) as righteous and Moses along with the Israelites as being called to righteousness (Deuteronomy 18:13). The same holds true today, as they were called to be righteous, we are called to be righteous (Deuteronomy 6:25, Ezekiel 1820-24, Proverbs 12:28, 21:3)

d. Don’t neglect a mitzvah:

On the flip side of not being neglectful to prevent disaster we should not be neglectful in our mitzvot. This especially holds true if there is no personal benefit.  As stated in Exodus 23:4-5 “If you come upon your enemy’s bull or his stray donkey, you shall surely return it to him. If you see your enemy’s donkey lying under its burden would you refrain from helping him? You shall surely help along with him” this also again is stated in Deuteronomy 22:4.

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e. Remember:

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Edmund Burke  (2)

Neglect Care Switch Shows Neglecting Or Caring

To be continued;
Unintentional Crimes (Part 3)

References

(1) The McDonald’s Hot Coffee Case, Consumer Attorneys of California https://www.caoc.org/?pg=facts

(2) A biography of Edmund Burke (1729-1797), American History from Revolution to Reconstruction and beyond, University of Groningen http://www.let.rug.nl/usa/biographies/edmund-burke/

*Where do I stand? Pertaining to G-d’s Civil Laws – Part 1, Intentional Crimes (Posted 16 February 2015, Monday)

Where do I stand? Pertaining to God’s Civil Laws – Part 1, Intentional Crimes

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Center for Tanakh Based Studies
By: William J Jackson

We all know about G-d’s Ten Commandments brought down by Moses from Mount Sinai (Exodus 20:3-14).  Some people argue their application in today’s time but those of us that walk the straight and narrow can readily admit that all 10 will never be outdated.  The next question is “what about the detailed civil laws covered right after the 10 Commandments?” (Exodus 21:12-23:19).  They appear to be the bylaws of a primitive society consisting of farmers and shepherds.  Most of us write them off as ancient rulings that governed a former Israel.  But HaShem’s laws are timeless.  If we study these ordinances we will have a better understanding of the spirit of G-d’s laws and G-d Himself.

Many of these laws appear to fall into three categories:

1. Intentional Crimes (Part 1)
2. Crimes Committed through Neglect  (Part 2)
3. Unintentional Crimes (Part 3)

1. Intentional.

A. Who gets the death Sentence:

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At least nine of these laws are punishable by death  (Exodus 21:12, 14, 15-17, 23, 29-30, 22:1, 17-19).  They cover a large spectrum ranging from intentional killing to cursing your parents.  Regardless of the lists diversity they all have one thing in common – they all are intentional.

1. Premeditated murder (Exodus 21:12 & 14)

2. Cursing your parent (Exodus 21:15)

3. Attack your parent (Exodus 21:17)

4. Kidnapping (Exodus 21:16)

5. Killing a pregnant woman and/or her child in a fight (Exodus 21:23)

6. Ox kills somebody after you have been told to control it (Exodus 21:29-30) The ox’s owner would be put to death but he could pay a fine.

7. A sorceress will be put to death. (Exodus 22:17)

8. You will be destroyed for sacrificing to other gods. (Exodus 22:19)

9. You will be put to death for sleeping with animals (Exodus 22:18)

B. But why death?

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Granted capitol punishment serves as a great deterrent; but there was another motive.  If we look in Exodus 22:17 it states “You shall not allow a sorceress to live.” This is restated in Leviticus 19:31 and Deuteronomy 18:10-11 where in these passages the purpose is stated.  It is to remove the negative influence from the community. For example; we don’t want ourselves or our loved ones to live in a world where calculating killers are released back into society, do we?

C. This is HaShem’s standard not ours.

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Another point of order is that many of us feel that some of these offenses do not warrant the death sentence.  That’s because we are using our standard, a human standard or humanism (1). These laws actually reveal to us G-d’s standard and what He views as extreme behavior.
With some of these intentional crimes if the perpetrator is not brought to justice HaShem will intervene.  We see this with Exodus 21:15, 17.  Here, if one strikes or curses their parents they will be put to death. What if a parent wouldn’t actually turn their children into the authorities knowing that it will result in a death sentence, doesn’t Hashem  intervene here by the adding of the fifth of the Ten Commandments “Honor thy father and thy mother” (Exodus 20:12), and as we see in the same verse “…in order that your days be lengthened.”

D. So what about thieves?

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There are four of the ordinances that deal with theft (Exodus 21:37, 22:2-3, 6).  Theft is obviously an intentional crime; but thieves are not sentenced to death.  They are to pay back in a worth beyond what they stole.  This probably resulted in their indentured servitude (slavery).  It’s possible HaShem felt this group of people were more capable of being rehabilitated as opposed to those sentence to death.  There is however one exception.  If a thief breaks into your home at night you can kill him (Exodus 22:1).  But this is not a court sentencing of death, I feel this has more to do with the self preservation of the innocent verses the punishment of the guilty.

E. For those of us that have commited any of the above mentioned crimes:

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Some of us have committed these intentional crimes, whether practicing the wrong religion or slandering a parent etc. etc. Granted, most of us don’t live in a country that these consequences lead to being put to death (2); but how do we make ourselves accountable to HaShem.  It’s easy, He has provided the answer in His word.  Lets refer to Ezekiel 18:31-32 here it states “Cast away from yourselves all your transgressions; whereby you have transgressed, and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit, and why should you die, O house of Israel! For I do not desire the death of him who dies, says the Lord God: so turn away and live!”.  If this is not convincing enough please refer to Isaiah 1;18, 43:25, Micah 7:18-19, Psalm 50:23, 51:1.

To be continued:

Stoning of Stephen 3

Neglect Crimes (Part 2)

Unintentional Crimes (Part 3)

References

(1) Definition humanism, Merriam-Webster, Incorporated (2015)

(2) Complete Jewish Bible Exodus 21:17 Rashi’s Commentary