The Temple of Herod: Ancient Jewish Landmark

Explore the grandeur of The Temple of Herod, a monumental ancient Jewish landmark. Discover its history, architecture, and significance in biblical archaeology.

In the ancient city of Jerusalem, the Temple of Herod was a huge deal. It was the Second Temple and a big deal for the Jewish people. It was a place of great architecture and faith. But, there’s a big debate about where it was exactly.

Experts are still looking for the truth about its location. Let’s dive into the history and importance of the Temple of Herod. We’ll see why finding its exact spot is so tricky.

Key Takeaways about The Temple of Herod

  • The Temple of Herod, also known as the Second Temple, was a grand ancient Jewish landmark in Jerusalem.
  • It was a monumental architectural achievement built under the reign of Herod the Great in the first century BCE.
  • The temple served as the focal point for Jewish worship and rituals, holding immense religious and historical significance.
  • The temple’s destruction in 70 CE by the Roman Empire marked a devastating loss that continues to resonate with the Jewish people today.
  • Ongoing debates and scholarly investigations surround the precise location of the Temple of Herod, challenging the traditional “Temple Mount” narrative.

The Temple Mount: Sacred Ground

The Temple of Herod

The Temple Mount is also known as Haram al-Sharif or the Noble Sanctuary. It’s a hill in the Old City of Jerusalem. For thousands of years, it has been a sacred site for Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

Today, it’s a flat plaza surrounded by walls. These include the famous Western Wall, built by King Herod in the first century BCE.

Coordinates and Location

The Temple Mount’s coordinates are 31°46’41″N 35°14’9″E. It has a rich history. The First Temple was built in the 10th century BCE. Then, the Second Temple was built after the Babylonian exile.

It was destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE.

Historical Background

The Temple Mount is a key part of Jerusalem’s history. The First Temple, built by King Solomon, was the holiest site in Judaism. It was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BCE.

The Second Temple was built in 516 BCE under the Persian Empire. It was expanded and renovated by Herod the Great in the first century BCE. This made it a huge architectural wonder.

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This Temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE. This event was a major turning point in Jewish history.

Under Herod, the Temple Mount grew to about 36 acres from just 250 square meters. The wall around it was forty cubits high. The eastern side was lower, so priests could see the Holy Temple from the Mount of Olives.

Mount Moriah RidgeThe Mount Moriah ridge where the Dome of the Rock now stands rises to about five feet higher than the surrounding area.
Temple PrecinctThe Temple precinct comprised a Court of the Gentiles, sacred platform of the Temple, Women’s Court, Court of Israel, and Priest’s Court.
Temple Precinct SizeThe original Temple precinct was 500 cubits square, but part of it was missing a notch in the northwestern corner where the pagan high place of Asteroth lay.
Herodian ExpansionHerod extended the Temple Mount to the north and south, doubled the size of the courtyards, added retaining walls to the east and north, and built the Stoa.
Largest Sacred PrecinctThe Temple Mount in Jerusalem was expanded by Herod the Great to approximately 36 acres, making it the largest sacred precinct in classical antiquity.

The Temple Mount has a long and complex history. It has been a sacred site for many religions. Over the centuries, it has seen significant expansions and renovations.

Its role as the holiest site in Judaism makes it very important. It’s a key location for Jewish worship.

Herod’s Grand Expansion

Herod's Monumental Temple

Herod the Great made the Temple Mount bigger and better in the first century BCE. He made the Temple Mount platform much larger. It became a huge 37-acre complex, much bigger than the old Second Temple.

Herod built walls, porticos, and underground spaces during the Herodian expansion. The Temple reached new heights. The work showed off Herodian architecture and amazing craftsmanship.

Herod’s big plans made the Temple Mount a key place for Jewish life in ancient Jerusalem. Building the Temple took over 80 years. It became the biggest religious site in the world, still the largest man-made platform today.

Monumental Scale and Architecture

The Herodian Temple was an amazing sight. It was huge, covering 35 acres. Some stones were 30 feet long and weighed 50 tons. About 18,000 workers worked on it, showing the huge effort put into it.

The Temple had 13 gates, but only Jews could go in. The bronze Nicanor Gate was so big it needed 20 men to open it. During festivals, thousands came to the Temple, making it a big economic center.

“Herod’s reign was characterized by unprecedented growth and construction projects driven by his amiable relationship with Rome and the profits from trade and heavy taxes on his subjects.”

Herod was amazing at building things. He built fortresses, cities, palaces, and more. The Temple Mount was made big enough for twenty-four football fields, showing how big his projects were.

The Temple of Herod

The Temple of Herod, also called the Second Temple, was the main part of the Temple Mount’s big growth. This was done under Herod the Great in the first century BCE. It was a huge achievement in architecture that lasted about 70 years before it was destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE.

Herod’s temple showed the Jewish people’s strength and faith. It took over 80 years to finish building. Herod used 10,000 men, including 1,000 skilled priest-builders, for this huge job.

The temple was amazing, with big courtyards, rooms for admin, and the most sacred place, the Holy of Holies. Every detail was carefully thought out. The main temple was 60 cubits long, 20 wide, and 40 high. The porch in front was even bigger, 100 cubits wide, high, and deep.

Even though we can’t see the Herodian Temple today, its remains show how big and important it was. Its size, beauty, and role in Jewish worship made it a key part of ancient Jerusalem. Its destruction in 70 CE ended the second temple era.

Herodian Temple DimensionsMeasurements
Temple Proper60 cubits long, 20 cubits wide, 40 cubits high
Porch East of Temple100 cubits wide, 100 cubits high, 20 cubits deep
Altar of Burnt Offering50 cubits in length and breadth, 15 cubits in height
Temple Area PerimeterApproximately 6 stadia
Southern Cloisters Columns162 columns of white marble
Gates in Court of Women4 on the north, 4 on the south, 1 on the east
“Gate of Nicanor”50 cubits in height, 40 cubits in breadth
The Temple of Herod

The Temple of Herod was a huge achievement in the Herodian Temple history. It was the center of Jewish worship and identity until it was sadly destroyed in 70 CE. This marked the end of the Second Temple era in Jewish History.

Religious Significance and Rituals

Temple Rituals

The Temple of Herod was very important to the Jewish people. It was the main place for Jewish worship. It was where they did sacrificial rituals every day.

Every year, three big festivals brought Jews from all over to the temple. They came to offer sacrifices and celebrate.

Jewish Traditions and Practices

When the temple was destroyed in 70 CE, it was a huge loss for the Jewish community. But, they still remember the temple’s importance. They keep its spirit alive with traditions and practices like:

  • Observing the three major pilgrimage festivals: Passover, Shavuot, and Sukkot
  • Offering sacrifices and prayers at the Western Wall, a remnant of the temple’s retaining wall
  • Commemorating the temple’s destruction through fasting and mourning on the Ninth of Av
  • Maintaining the hope for the rebuilding of the temple as a central tenet of Jewish messianic beliefs

Muslim Reverence and Al-Aqsa Mosque

The Temple Mount is also very important to Muslims. It’s where the Al-Aqsa Mosque is, the third holiest place in Islam. Muslims believe the Prophet Muhammad went to heaven from here.

The mosque is called the “Noble Sanctuary.” It’s a key symbol for Palestinians, including Palestinian Christians. This shows how the Temple Mount is seen as very important by many people.

“The Temple Mount remains a central identity symbol for Palestinians, including Palestinian Christians, further underscoring its complex and contested religious importance.”

Destruction and Legacy

The Fall of Jerusalem in 70 CE

The Temple of Herod was destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE. This was a big change in Jewish history. The Romans took Jerusalem, burned the temple, and ended the Second Temple period.

This event caused many Jews to leave their homes. They became known as the Diaspora. Without the temple, rabbinic Judaism became the main Jewish belief.

The loss of the temple changed Jewish history forever. The memory of its destruction is still important today. Jews remember this on the fast day of Tisha B’Av.

“The destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE was a pivotal moment in , leading to the dispersal of the Jewish people and the emergence of rabbinic Judaism as the primary form of Jewish religious practice.”

The in 70 CE was a big loss for the Jews. The Romans destroyed the Temple of Herod. This ended the Second Temple period and started a new chapter in Jewish history.

Without the temple, Jews had to change their religious ways. This led to rabbinic Judaism.

The memory of the temple’s destruction is key to Jewish identity. The fast day of Tisha B’Av is a time for Jews to remember this event. They reflect on its impact on their history and traditions.

The changed Jewish history. Jews had to make new homes and adapt. This led to diverse cultures and beliefs around the world.

This experience shaped Jewish identity. It made the Jewish people resilient. The is a big part of .

The Temple Mount Today

The Temple Mount is a key spot in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Israel took control in 1967 but kept the status quo. The Jordanian-run Islamic Waqf handles religious matters and access.

It’s a hot spot, with fights over prayer rights, digs, and who owns it. Both Jews and Muslims see it as very important. This makes things even more complicated.

Contested Site and Ongoing Conflict

The status of the Temple Mount is still up in the air in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Both sides claim it, causing tension and violence.

  • Israel controls the Temple Mount but lets the Waqf handle religious stuff.
  • Palestinians see it as part of their claim to East Jerusalem and see Israeli control as an occupation.
  • Clashes happen when Jewish visitors try to pray there, against the status quo.
  • Plans to change the status quo or let more Jews in are strongly opposed.

The status quo is a delicate balance often challenged. This makes the Temple Mount a key point in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Key AspectsDetails
Religious SignificanceIt’s sacred for both Judaism and Islam, making the conflict complex.
Contested SovereigntyIsrael controls it but lets the Waqf handle religious stuff, causing tensions.
Restrictions and AccessJews and non-Muslims face limits on visiting and doing things at the Temple Mount.
Potential for UnrestTrying to change the status quo or take more control often leads to violence.

The Temple Mount is a contested site at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The status quo is hard to keep, making peace hard to find in this sacred ground.


The Temple of Herod and the Temple Mount are key parts of Jewish history and culture. They were the center of ancient Jewish worship. Their destruction in 70 CE was a big change that still affects the Jewish people today.

The Temple Mount is a sacred place for both Jews and Muslims. It’s a site of deep meaning and conflict.

Even though the temple is gone, its legacy is still important. It shapes Jewish identity and rituals. People still hope for the Temple’s return in Jerusalem.

The Significance of Temple Mount shows its big impact on Jewish History. The Temple of Herod’s legacy shows the Jewish people’s strength and faith.

For an overview of Gold in Biblical Times, please check this guide.

FAQ about The Temple of Herod

What was the Temple of Herod?

The Temple of Herod, also known as the Second Temple, was a key ancient Jewish site in Jerusalem. It was built by Herod the Great in the first century BCE. This temple was a huge achievement in architecture and was the heart of Jewish life for many years.

Where is the Temple Mount located?

The Temple Mount, also known as Haram al-Sharif or the Noble Sanctuary, is a hill in Jerusalem’s Old City. It’s sacred to Jews, Christians, and Muslims. Today, it’s a flat plaza with walls, including the famous Western Wall, built by King Herod.

How did Herod the Great expand the Temple Mount?

Herod the Great expanded the Temple Mount in the first century BCE. He made it much bigger, turning it into a huge landmark. His work included building walls, porticos, and underground areas.

What was the significance of the Temple of Herod?

The Temple of Herod was very important to the Jewish people. It was where they worshipped and made sacrifices. Three big festivals each year brought Jews from far to celebrate and offer sacrifices.

What was the impact of the Temple’s destruction in 70 CE?

The Temple’s destruction in 70 CE was a big blow to the Jews. It led to many Jews leaving their homes and the rise of rabbinic Judaism. This event changed Jewish history for a long time.

What is the current status of the Temple Mount?

The Temple Mount is still a key issue in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Israel took control in 1967 but kept the “status quo” arrangement. There are ongoing debates about prayer rights, excavations, and who should control the site.

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Benny Lance is a renowned expert in the history and cultural significance of gold. With a profound passion for precious metals, Benny has dedicated his career to exploring and sharing the fascinating stories and historical contexts of gold. His extensive research and deep knowledge make him a key contributor to Goldconsul, where he delves into the enduring legacy of gold as a symbol of wealth, power, and artistic significance throughout the ages.

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