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The Jerusalem Temple as a Ritual Center Summary

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Religion & Culture
Holly Pearse

The Jerusalem Temple as a Ritual Center o Jerusalem Temple as a Ritual Center o First Temple (Herod’s Temple)  One of the largest temple complexes of its time  Housed on hill adjoining Eastern wall of Jerusalem  Included Sanctuary, courtyard for sacrificial rites and visitors’ courtyards  One of the marvelous national temples of the ancient world o The Ritual Setting  Temple of Solomon – stood for 3.5 centuries prior to 587  Preserved holiness of the desert Tent of meeting  Second Temple built 515 BCE  Smaller but still holy embodiment of God’s promise to dwell among his people  Grandeur added to international prestige of the God and People whom it represented/Land it protected  Linked Jews to the world of heaven as well as visible link to Jewish national past  Viewed as visual representation of the cosmos itself  Powerful symbol of the unity of all of God’s cosmic design o The heavenly, earthly and social realms in a seamless whole  The Gentile’s Court  Outer reaches of the temple  Could be populated by any visitor to the Temple o Set aside especially for non-Jews who might wish to make a sacrifice  Could purchase small goat or lamb from merchant  Non-Jews could not go past this part  Courts of Women and Israelites  Not even Jews could enter this temple at will  Only those immersed in water were prepared for sacrificial conclusion of purification procedure could enter temple  Series of inner courts guided visitors westward and upward toward Sanctuary  Women could get no closer to sacrificial service than the Nikanor Gate  Men could ascend fifteen semi-circular steps through Nikanor Gate into Israelite court  The Priests’ Court (Israelite Court)  Jewish men could pass farther  Actual sacrificial rituals performed by priests  Dominated by implements of the sacrificial ritual o Northern end – cattle slaughtered and butchered by priestly workers o Center (toward south) – stood the altar, 58ft long sides, 30 ft high o East – large basin with water for priestly ablutions  The Sanctuary  Dominates Priests court at easternmost end  Only priests, holiest of Israelites tribes, could walk up the twelve steps through golden doors into the eastern part of sanctuary  Golden altar for incense and golden table that held 12 loaves of bread The Jerusalem Temple as a Ritual Center  The Holy of Holies  Western end of sanctuary  Holiest, purest spot on Earth  No one but High Priest could enter, and only on the Day of Absolution o Yom haKippurim
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