The Temple: Its Symbolism and Meaning Then and Now

The Temple: Its Symbolism and Meaning Then and Now

by Joshua Berman

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Overview

The Temple: Its Symbolism and Meaning Then and Now by Joshua Berman

When thinking of the ancient Temple of Jerusalem, one often conjures up images of animal sacrifice, pilgrimages to the Holy City on religious festivals, and the High Priest solemnly entering the Holy of Holies on Yom Kippur. Indeed, each of these observances was a staple of Temple ritual, but it is easy to lose sight of the Temple as it impacted, and impacts, upon the daily life of Jews and their physical and spiritual responsibilities.

Building the Temple is not merely one commandment of many; it cannot be examined in isolation. This volume shows how the Temple relates to the notions of Shabbat, the land of Israel, monarchy, Jewish independence and sovereignty, education, justice, covenant, Sinai, the garden of Eden, the Jewish relationship to the gentile world, and the very way the Jew relates to God. From a biblical viewpoint, the Temple is not only the central institution of the ideal Jewish society but also the central concept that binds and organizes all others.

The minutiae of the Temple as portrayed in the liturgy and in the Bible often seem tedious and overritualistic. Classical sources of all genres abound to explain a particular passage or a particular rite. This book identifies broad themes that animate the meaning of the Temple, its rites, and the biblical passages that describe it. Details are probed as a larger conceptual whole. Animal sacrifice, particularly problematic to many on moral grounds, is examined in a new and revealing light.

Many Torah commandments stand unchanged for all time regardless of historical events. Not so the commandment to erect the Temple. Social, economic, political, and religious currents were integral to the Temple's construction, destruction, and reconstruction. By probing these currents from the Bible's perspective, one can gain insight into the meaning of the times in which we live; we are in a process of rebuilding, even though we are far from redemption.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781608997763
Publisher: Wipf & Stock Publishers
Publication date: 10/01/2010
Pages: 276
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Joshua Berman is director of admissions and a lecturer in Bible at Nishmat—The Jerusalem Center for Advanced Jewish Study for Women. He holds a bachelor's degree in religion from Princeton University and received his ordination from the Israeli Chief Rabbinate following extended study at Yeshivat Har Etzion in Alon Shevut, Israel. His articles on biblical theology and on contemporary issues in Jewish life have appeared in the pages of Amit Woman, The Jerusalem Post, Judaism, L'Eylah, Megadim, Midstream, and Tradition. He has lectured widely on these topics in Israel, the United States, and Great Britain. Rabbi Berman, his wife, Michal, and their son now reside in Beit Shemesh, Israel.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xi

Introduction xv

The Temple as Symbol xx

Hermeneutics: A Modern Approach to Traditional Exegesis xxi

1 What Is Kedushah? 1

Not "Holy," Not "Sacred" 1

Many Jewish Meanings 2

A Biblical Definition 3

Kedushah and Covenant 7

Covenanted Time and Space 10

Linking Sabbath and Temple 13

2 Temple as Garden of Eden 21

Man in God's Domain 22

Israel as Eden 23

Temple as the Ideal of Eden 26

Temple as Eden after the Sin 28

3 Sinai and Sanctuary 35

Sinai-An Uncommemorated Event 35

Exodus, Chapters 24 through 40: From Sinai to Sanctuary 38

The Ark-The Divine Voice Continues 43

The Altar of Incense-Immanence and Transcendence 45

The Altar of Burnt Offerings-Beholding Revelation 48

Pilgrimage-Reliving Sinai 52

4 Political Prominence-The Prerequisite to Solomon's Temple 57

Babel-Exalting the Name of Man 59

Abraham-Exalting the Name of God 61

"A House for God's Name" 63

Secure Borders and Stable Rule 64

Welcoming Non-Jews to the Temple 69

The Incompatibility of Temple and Bloodshed 73

Between Tabernacle and Temple-Particularism versus Universalism 75

5 A Multifaceted Center and Its Problems 83

Social Unity 84

Education 86

Justice 91

Overexpansion 94

Personal Expression and Centralized Worship 98

The Kingship of God-Kingship of the Davidic King 101

God Destroys His Own House? 105

6 Making Sense of Sacrifices 111

Four Objections to Animal Sacrifice 112

"Korban"-"Not Sacrifice" 114

Symbols of Penitential Spirit 116

Semikhah-Transferring Identity 117

Chatat-Purification 120

Asham-Indemnity 122

Olah-Complete Dedication 123

Blood-Symbol of the Soul 124

Covenantal Gestures 126

Rededicating the Covenant 127

Zevach-The Covenantal Feast 128

A God Who Eats? 130

Feasting at Sinai 131

Salt as Symbol 133

Breaking Bread with God 136

The Blood Bond of Sinai 138

Expiation and Covenant 141

A Distinct Form of Commandments 143

The Morality of Animal Sacrifice 145

Man and Animal in the Modern World 146

The Evolution of Animal Rights 148

The Low Estimation of Man in the Modern World 149

Man and Animal-A Jewish View 151

Why May Man Use Animals? 152

Minchah-Attributing Material Possessions 154

7 The Lessons of Rebuilding 159

Two Visions of the Return 160

Second Tabernacle and Second Temple 161

The Book of Esther-Its Second Temple Context 165

Chanukah-Its Biblical Roots 171

Epilogue: The Temple Today 179

Relating to the Temple in a Post-Temple Age 180

Simulating the Temple Experience 180

Perpetuating a Sense of Loss 185

Commandments "Equal" to the Temple 187

The Modern Age in Light of the Temple 196

Jerusalem-Its Meaning without the Temple 197

Looking toward the Third Temple 203

Notes 209

Glossary 229

Bibliography 233

Index of Biblical Verses 237

General Index 245

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