Jerusalem: Map of Solomon's Temple
Jerusalem: Maps and Diagrams
Although it was first destroyed in 586 BCE and then again in 70 CE, many traditional Jews continue to pray three times each day for the reconstruction of Solomon's Temple in Jerusalem. From the time it was constructed around 1000 BCE, it was the focal point of Jewish religious practice and was the site of many, many ritual animal sacrifices.
According to the biblical accounts, Solomon's Temple might have been 180 feet long, 90 feet wide, and 50 feet wide on the inside. The Bible also indicates that large numbers of people were conscripted into manual labor service in order to complete the massive project. According to tradition the Holy of Holiest, the innermost sanctum of the Temple, contained the Ten Commandments which supposedly disappeared after they were carried away by the Babylonians.
The first destruction of the Temple was at the hands of the Babylonians who then carried many Jews off to captivity. It was rebuilt about 70 years later and ritual sacrifices resumed, but after the Jews rebelled against Roman rule in the Great Revolt, the Romans as punishment destroyed the Temple again.
Today the site where the Temple was built, known as the Temple Mount, is occupied by two Muslim mosques built during the centuries of Muslim control of the city. The dome of one mosque, the Dome of the Rock, is believed to be right over the Holy of Holies. Control of the site is a hotly contested issue for Muslims and Jews in Jerusalem. Many devout Jews would like to see the mosques torn down and the Temple reconstructed in their place, but because this would destroy one of the holiest sites in all of Islam, it would lead to a religious war of unprecedented proportions.