Third Temple Controversy

Israeli Minister Stirs Controversy After Calling For “3rd Temple”

January 29, 2014 | Wil Fisher     

The Israel Minister of Housing and Construction Uri Ariel on Friday said that he would like to see the construction of a “third Temple” on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. According to the Alray Palestinian News Agency, Uri Ariel said “The first Temple was destroyed in 586 BCE, the second Temple in 70 CE, and ever since the Jews have been mourning its loss.”

His statements are likely to be met with anger and outcry across the Muslim world.

He referred to the controversy with the Islamic mosque that is now situated on the site, saying that the “Al-Aqsa Mosque is currently in place of the temple, despite the temple being much holier than it. Al-Aqsa Mosque is only the third most holy mosque in Islam.”

“Now that Israel has once again become a Jewish sovereign state, there have been occasional calls to rebuild the Temple,” he added.

Ariel’s remarks come amid a long-standing taboo on high-ranking government officials speaking about changing the fragile situation regarding the Temple Mount, according to the Times of Israel, and is likely to be denounced by the Israeli government.

Jewish Home MK Zevulun Orlev also called for the rebuilding of the Temple last year, though admitting that removing the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa Mosque would mean that the “Muslim world would surely launch a world war.”

The Jerusalem site was home to Judaism’s first and second Temples, both of which were destroyed, the second one by the Romans in 70 CE. The idea of building a third Temple, while popular among some religious and right-wing Jews, has traditionally been considered outside the mainstream Israeli political agenda. With polls recently showing as many as 30 percent of Jews now in support of rebuilding the temple, some politicians may now be more willing to speak to the issue. 

Conservative religious groups, including the Temple Mount Institute, have been working for decades towards the rebuilding of a third Temple. Objects and garments to be used in Temple ceremony have even been made according to biblical custom, in preparation for when the Temple is built again.

In anticipation of such a moment, the temple institute has even released blueprints and an animated version of what the 3rd temple would look like. Many are hoping that a peace agreement with the Palestinians will allow greater political and religious freedom to explore the issue without a religious war looming over every discussion. 

Jews are currently banned from praying on the Temple Mount by the Jordanian department of endowments, known as the Wakf, which administers the plaza surrounding the al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock. This development has long been associated with end-time prophecy, as Revelation speaks of the antichrist sacrificing in the Temple and proclaiming himself to be god in what is known as “the abomination of desolation.”

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