Saturday, September 16, 2006

Re: Do you think that the primary purpose of the Temple of Jerusalem was to offer sacrifices?


Thanks for your message. As is my usual practice when I receive a private message on a Bible topic, I am copying it to my blog CreationEvolutionDesign, after changing the subject line and removing your personal identifying information.

[Graphic: Model of Second Jerusalem Temple, Syracuse University]

----- Original Message -----
From: AN
To: Stephen E. Jones
Sent: Saturday, September 16, 2006 3:05 AM
Subject: From an amateur in Bible matters

>Dear Mr. Stephen,
>My name is AN. I'm not an expert in bible matters but I've always been very interested in it from this historical point of view.
>I'm aware of your respected reputation on bible research and thought in addressing you for two issues.

I am afraid I am also "not an expert in bible matters" and am just "an amateur in Bible matters" like yourself. That is, I have no formal qualifications in theology, although I have been a Christian since 1967 and have bought and read many books on Christian theology and the Bible. (After I posted this to AN, I realised that he may be getting me mixed up with Dr. Stephen E. Jones of God's Kingdom Ministries).

>I'm in the middle of an interesting discussion with friends with regards to the Temple of Jerusalem.

>May I ask your opinion? Do you think that the primary purpose of the Temple of Jerusalem was to offer sacrifices?

My initial reaction was to answer yes. But interestingly, the Bible seems to indicate that the primary reason that the temple in Jerusalem was built was to represent God on Earth.

The first Jerusalem temple built by King Solomon ~950 BC was to be built "for the Name of the LORD" (1 Ki 5:3-5; 8:18-19; 2 Chr 2:4; 6:7-9); to be "the temple of the LORD" (1 Ki 6:1-2; 2 Chr 3:1); "built for the LORD" (1 Ki 6:1-2); "the LORD's temple"(1 Ki 9:15); "the sanctuary of the LORD God ... built for the Name of the LORD" (1 Chr 22:19; 2 Chr 2:1); "a temple for the LORD" (2 Chr 2:12).

The second Jerusalem temple built by Ezra and Nehemiah ~450 BC (after the first temple had been destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BC 2 Ki 25:1-17) was also "a temple for him [The LORD]" at Jerusalem" (2 Chr 36:23; Ezra 1:2); "the temple of the LORD" (Ezra 1:2-4); "a temple to our God. ... for the LORD, the God of Israel" (Ezra 4:3).

The Israelites already had a tabernacle (a tent complex) which had "an altar for burnt offerings, grain offerings and sacrifices... the altar of the LORD our God that stands before his tabernacle" (Josh 22:29); "at his tabernacle will I sacrifice" (Ps 27:6). And long before that Israelites offered sacrifices at altars without any tabernacle or temple, e.g. "Noah built an altar to the LORD and, taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it" (Gen 8:20).

>And, if I may, I would like to ask you to recommendations as to other authors to consult. Who are considered now a days the most influencial and knowlegable scholars in historical bible?

Sorry, but I don't know of any authors specifically to consult on the Jerusalem temple. But any conservative evangelical Christian Old Testament introduction (e.g. by Gleason L. Archer; R.K. Harrison; Hill & Walton; La Sor, Hubbard and Bush and Raymond B. Dillard) would be a good place to start.

There is a Wikipedia article on the Temple in Jerusalem, however this should not be taken as my endorsement of everything it says.

>Thank you in advance.
>Best regards,

You are welcome. But if you have any more questions, I am afraid I simply don't have the time to answer them.

Stephen E. Jones, BSc (Biol).
Genesis 1:29-30. 29Then God said, "I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. 30And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground-everything that has the breath of life in it-I give every green plant for food." And it was so.