What is the Jerusalem Temple?:
For millennia, the Jerusalem Temple was the focal point of Jewish religious practices. The first Temple was destroyed by 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.
Where is the Jerusalem Temple?:
The Jewish temples were constructed on a high, flat rock on the eastern side of Jerusalem. It is right next to the eastern wall of Jerusalem and looks out over the Kidron valley and the Mount of Olives. 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.
When was the Jerusalem Temple built?:
Solomons original temple was probably constructed around 1000 BCE. This was destroyed in 586 BCE by the Babylonians and rebuilt between 520 and 515 BCE. Herod expanded it greatly during his reign (37 BCE - 4 CE), but it was destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE. Nothing is left of Solomons original temple and only a portion of an outer wall remains from Herods temple.
Why is the Temple Mount important?:
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.