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The Third Temple (Tisha Be'Av) - Will it be Rebuilt?
(every stone was overturned in 363 A.D.!)

The Jews already tried to rebuild the Temple. In 363 A.D., egged on by the Roman Emperor Julian the Apostate, the Jews tore down every remaining stone from the old temple to begin rebuilding it. But God miraculously halted this work.

Jesus predicted that not one stone of the Jewish Temple would remain atop another.  The Romans utterly destroyed the Temple in 70 A.D.  What many people don't know is that in 363 A.D. the Jews tried to rebuild it, but God would have none of this.  In doing so, Jews themselves took the remaining stones from the Temple Mount.  In hindsight, the extraordinary act of Moshe Dayan handing over the Temple Mount to the Muslims can actually be seen as an Act of God.  This is because, according to Scripture -only after the Lord returns will the Jewish Temple be rebuilt.

destruction of the third temple

Destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem by Francesco Hayez

The dual destruction of the two temples, five hundred years apart, marks two central eras in Jewish history: the first marks the beginning of the Babylonian Exile; the second marks the beginning of the Jewish Diaspora.

For the last 1900 years, Jews have prayed that God would allow for the rebuilding of the Temple. This prayer is a formal part of the thrice daily Jewish prayer services.

A few, very small, Jewish groups support constructing a Third Temple today, but most Jews oppose this, for a variety of reasons. Most religious Jews feel that the Temple should only be rebuilt in the messianic era, and that it would be presumptuous of people to force God's hand, as it were. And these people are right! Conservative Judaism has modified the prayers; their prayer books call for the restoration of Temple, but do not ask for resumption of animal sacrifices. Most of the passages relating to sacrifices are replaced with the Talmudic teaching that deeds of loving-kindness now atone for sin.

The religious Jewish religion was a temporary dispensation, intended by its divine author, God himself, to prefigure one more complete and perfect, and prepare men to embrace it. It not only essentially required bloody sacrifices (known as the korbanot), but enjoined a fixed and certain place for them to be performed in; this was the temple at Jerusalem. Hence the final destruction of this temple was the abolition of the sacrifices, which annihilated the whole system of this religious institution.  Jesus Himself made the perfect sacrifice for us when He died on that cross atop Calvary.  Any attempts by the Jews to sacrifice animals again in the Temple can be and was seen by God as a mockery of the Messiah's death.  God would not allow this in 363 A.D., and He won't allow it now.

St. Chrysostom shows that the destruction of Jerusalem is to be ascribed, not to the power of the Romans, for God had often delivered it from no less dangers; but to His special providence. God was pleased to put these now useless ceremonial observances out of business. "As a physician," says Chrysostom, "by breaking the cup, prevents his patient from indulging his appetite in a noxious draught; so God withheld the Jews from their sacrifices by destroying the whole city itself, and making the place inaccessible to all of them."

St. Gregory Nazianzen, Socrates, Theodoret, and other Christian writers, are unanimous in what they say of Julian's motive, ascribing to him the intention already mentioned, of falsifying the scripture prophecies, those of Daniel and Christ, which his actions sufficiently evidence.


Julian solidus 
above a Julian solidus, about 361 A.D.

Julian II (The Apostate) (Flavius Claudius Julianus) as Augustus

                                 Caesar 355-360 AD: Augustus 360-363 AD
  • Julian removed Christianity from it's position as the state religion, an act that earned him the title of "Apostate".

Julian's ("The Apostate") historian, indeed, says, that he undertook this work out of a desire of rendering the glory of his reign immortal by so great an achievement:  but this was only an after-thought or secondary motive; and Sozomen in particular assures us that not only Julian, but that the idolaters who assisted in it, pushed it forward upon that very motive, and for the sake thereof suspended their aversion to the Jewish nation.  Julian acted not out of love for the Jewish people, but because he was a pagan who - despite its ascendancy - despised Christianity.  Brought up as a Christian, Julian rejected the religion and turned back to the paganism of Greek and Roman days. He argued that Christianity would weaken and ultimately destroy the Roman Empire. As a result, he attempted to restore Hellenism, which earned him everlasting Christian disdain.

Known to Christians as Julian the Apostate, the emperor restored pagan temples and the cult of the old Roman gods. These were to be served by a reform-minded pagan clergy with high moral character, who would compete with the Christian clergy in meeting the religious needs of the people.

Julian remains famous for having declared absolute freedom for all religious beliefs - making him perhaps the first leader to extend toleration of religion to all Romans.

Julian himself wrote a letter to the body or community of the Jews, extant among his works, mentioned by Sozomen, and translated by Dr. Cave, in his life of St. Cyril.  In it he declares them free from all exactions and taxes, and orders Julus or Illus, (probably Hillel,) their most reverend patriarch, to abolish the apostoli, or gatherers of the said taxes; begs their prayers, (such was his hypocrisy,) and promises, after his Persian expedition, when their temple should be rebuilt, to make Jerusalem his residence, and to offer up his joint prayers together with them.

On July 19th, 362 A.D., Julian left Constantinople and arrived in Antioch to prepare for the invasion of Persia. However busy he must have been, he met with "the chiefs of the Jews." He assembled the chief among the Jews, and asked them why they offered no bloody sacrifices, since they were prescribed by their law. They replied, that they could not offer any but in the temple, which then lay in ruins.. He promised: "I shall endeavor with the utmost zeal to set up the Temple of the Most High God."  Whereupon he commanded them to repair to Jerusalem, rebuild their temple, and re-establish their ancient worship, promising them his concurrence towards carrying on the work. 

The restoration of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem would, in Julian's opinion, defeat the Christian argument of replacement theology - that the Church was the true Israel, and that the Temple's destruction and the subsequent exile was the just punishment suffered by the Jewish people for the Crucifixion. The Temple's restoration, Julian figured, would persuade Christian converts that God still favored the Jewish people.  Also, As an army commander, embarking on a war against a formidable Persian enemy, Julian could also expect that the Jews of Mesopotamia would assist his legions.

The Jews received this warrant to rebuild their Temple with inexpressible joy, and were so elated with it, that, flocking from all parts to Jerusalem, they began insolently to scorn and triumph over the Christians, threatening to make them feel as fatal effects of their severity, as they themselves had heretofore from the Roman powers.

In his "Four Letters" addressed to the Jewish people, Julian recognized their dire situation and appealed to them to join him in his campaign. That's a vast difference from the Persian ruler Cyrus, who had only allowed the Jews to rebuild the Temple; Julian virtually ordered them to do so, and perhaps, upset by their initial hesitation, appointed Alypius, a pagan native of Antioch and his best friend, to supervise the work.

The news was, no sooner spread abroad than contributions came in from all hands. The Jewish women stripped themselves of their most costly ornaments to contribute towards the expense of the building. The emperor also, who was no less impatient to see it finished, in order to encourage them in the undertaking, told them he had found in their mysterious sacred books that this was the time in which they were to return to their country, and that their temple and legal observances were to be restored.  He gave orders to his treasurers to furnish money and every thing necessary for the building, which would require immense sums: he drew together the most able workmen from all quarters, and appointed for overseers persons of the highest rank, placing at their head his intimate friend Alypius, who had formerly been Pro-prefect of Britain; charging him to make them labor in this great work without ceasing, and to spare no expense.

The Jews were doubtless divided between those who believed that Julian was a savior and those who remembered Rabbi Simon Ben Eliezer's warning against the youthful enthusiasm of the second generation after the Bar Kochba disaster: "If children tell you: 'Go, build the Temple - do not listen to them.'"

All things were In readiness, workmen were assembled from all quarters; stone, brick, timber, and other materials, in immense quantities, were laid in. The Jews of both sexes and of all degrees bore a share in the labor; the very women helping to dig the ground and carry out the rubbish in their aprons and skirts of their gowns. It its even said that the Jews appointed some pickaxes, spades, and baskets to be made of silver for the honor of the work. But the good bishop St. Cyril, lately returned from exile, beheld all these mighty preparations without any concern, relying on the infallible truth of the scripture prophecies: as,

that the desolation of the Jewish temple should last till the end; 

and that one stone should not be left on another;

And being full of the spirit of God, Cyril foretold, with the greatest confidence, that the Jews, so far from being able to rebuild their ruined temple, would be the instruments whereby that prophecy of Christ would be still more fully accomplished than it had been hitherto, and that they would not be able to put one stone upon another, and the event justified the prediction.

Till then the foundations and some ruins of the walls of the temple subsisted, as appears from St. Cyril: and Eusebius says, the inhabitants still carried away the stones for their private buildings. These ruins the Jews first demolished with their own hands, thus concurring to the accomplishment of our Saviour's prediction.

Then they began to dig the new foundation, in which work many thousands were employed. But what they had thrown up in the day was, by repeated earthquakes, the night following cast back again into the trench. "And when Alypius the next day earnestly pressed on the work, with the assistance of the governor of the province, there issued," says Ammianus, "'such horrible balls of fire out of the earth near the foundations,' which rendered the place, from time to time, inaccessible to the scorched and blasted workmen. And the victorious element continuing in this manner obstinately and resolutely bent as it were to drive them to a distance, Alypius thought proper to give over the enterprise."

This is also recorded by the Christian authors, who, besides the earthquake and fiery eruption, mention storms, tempests, and whirlwinds, lightning, crosses impressed on the bodies and garments of the assistants, and a flaming cross in the heavens, surrounded with a luminous circle. The order whereof seems to have been as follows.

This judgment of the Almighty was ushered in by storms and whirlwinds, by which prodigious heaps of lime and sand and other loose materials were carried away.  After these followed lightning, the usual consequence of collision of clouds in tempests. Its effects were, first the destroying the more solid materials, and melting down the iron instruments; and secondly, the impressing shining crosses on the bodies and garments of the assistants without distinction, in which there was something that in art and elegance exceeded all painting or embroidery; which when the infidels perceived, they endeavored, but in vain, to wash them out. In the third place came the earthquake which cast out the stones of the old foundations, and shook the earth into the trench or cavity dug for the new; besides overthrowing the adjoining buildings and porticoes wherein were lodged great numbers of Jews designed for the work, who were all either crushed to death, or at least maimed or wounded. The number of the killed or hurt was increased by the fiery eruption in the fourth place, attended both with storms and tempests above, and with an earthquake below.  From this eruption, many fled to a neighboring church for shelter, but could not obtain entrance; whether on account of its being closed by a secret invisible hand, as the fathers state the case, or at least by a special providence, through the entrance into the oratory being choked up by a freighted crowd, all pressing to be foremost.

"This, however," says St. Gregory Nazianzen, "is invariably affirmed and believed by all, that as they strove to force their way in by violence, the <Fire>, which burst from the foundations of the temple, met and stopped them, and one part it burnt and destroyed, and another it desperately maimed, leaving them a living monument of God's wrath against sinners." This eruption was frequently renewed till it overcame the rashness of the most obdurate, to use the words of Socrates; for it continued to be repeated as often as the projectors ventured to renew their attempt, till it had fairly tired them out.

Lastly, on the same evening, there appeared over Jerusalem a lucid cross, shining very bright, as large as that in the reign of Constantine, encompassed with a circle of light. "And what could be so proper to close this tremendous scene, or to celebrate this decisive victory, as the <Cross> triumphant, encircled with the <Heroic> symbol of conquest?"

This miraculous event, with all its circumstances, is related by the writers of that age; by St. Gregory Nazianzen in the year immediately following it; by St. Chrysostom, in several parts of his works, who says that it happened not twenty years before, appeals to eye-witnesses still living and young, and to the present condition of those foundations, "of which," says he, "we are all witnesses;" by St. Ambrose in his fortieth epistle written in 388; Rufinus, who had long lived upon the spot; Theodoret, who lived in the neighborhood in Syria; Philostorgius, the Arian; Sozomen, who says many were alive when he wrote who had it from eye-witnesses, and mentions the visible marks still subsisting; Socrates, &c. The testimony of the heathens corroborates this evidence; as that of Ammianus Marcellinus above quoted, a nobleman of the first rank, who then lived in the court of Julian at Antioch and in an office of distinction, and who probably wrote his account from the letter of Alypius to his master at the time when the miracle happened.

Libanius, another pagan friend and admirer of Julian, both in the history of his own life, and in his funeral oration on Julian's death, mentions these earthquakes in Palestine, but with a shyness which discovers the disgrace of his hero and superstition. Julian himself speaks of this event in the same covert manner.  With Julian's death came the Emperor Jovian, a faithful Christian, and a Church-led assault on Jews and Judaism.

The early church historian Socrates testifies, that at the sight of the miracles, the Jews at first cried out that Christ is God; yet returned home as hardened as ever. St. Gregory Nazianzen says, that many Gentiles were converted upon it, and went over to the Church. Theodoret and Sozomen say many were converted; but as to the Jews, they evidently mean a sudden flash of conviction, not a real and lasting conversion. The incredulous blinded themselves by various presences: but the evidence of the miracle leaves no room for the least cavil or suspicion.

The Christian writers of that age are unanimous in relating it with its complicated circumstances, yet with a diversity which shows their agreement, though perfect, could not have been concerted. The same is confirmed by the testimony of the most obstinate adversaries. They who, when the temple at Daphne was consumed about the same time, by lightning, pretended that it was set on fire by Christians, were not able to suspect any possibility of contrivance in this case: nor could the event have been natural. Every such suspicion is removed by the conformity of the event with the prophecies: the importance of the occasion, the extreme eagerness of Jews and Gentiles in the enterprise, the attention of the whole empire fixed on it, and the circumstances of the fact. The eruption, contrary to its usual nature, was confined to one small spot; it obstinately broke out by fits, and ceased with the project, and this in such a manner, that Ammianus himself ascribes it to an intelligent cause.

The phenomena of the cross in the air, and on the garments, were admirably fitted, as moral emblems, to proclaim the triumph of Christ over Julian, who had taken the cross out of the military ensigns, which Constantine had put there to be a lasting memorial of that cross which he had seen in the air that presaged his victories. The same was again erected in the heavens to confound the vanity of its impotent persecutor. The earthquake was undoubtedly miraculous; and though its effects were mostly such as might naturally follow, they were directed by a special supernatural providence, as the burning of Sodom by fire from heaven. Whence Mr. Warburton concludes his dissertation on this subject with the following corollary. "New light continually springing up from each circumstance as it passes in review, by such time as the whole event is considered, this illustrious miracle comes out in one full blaze of evidence."

Even Jewish Rabbis, who do not copy from Christian writers, relate this event in the same manner with the fathers from their own traditions and records. This great event happened in the beginning of the year 363.  St. Chrysostom admires the wonderful conduct of divine providence in this prodigy, and observes, that had not the Jews set about to rebuild their temple, they might have pretended they could have done it: therefore did God permit them thrice to attempt it; once under Adrian, when they brought a greater desolation upon themselves; a second time under Constantine the Great, who dispersed them, cut off their ears, and branded their bodies with the marks of rebellion. He then relates this third attempt, "in our own time," as he says, "not above twenty years ago, in which God himself visibly baffled their endeavors, to show that no human power could reverse his decree; and this at a time when our religion was oppressed, lay under the axes, and had not the liberty even to speak; that impudence itself might not have the least shadow of presence."

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