Situated atop Mount Moriah in Jerusalem, believed to be the site of God's commanding Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac, The 'Second Temple' of Jesus' day was the nerve centre of Judaism.

At its heart, behind a double curtain, was the Holy of Holies wherein the Ark of the Covenant would have been held had it not been lost during the time of the Prophets.

Construction of the Temple Mount was started nearly 15 years before Jesus' birth at the behest of King Herod the Great. It was not completed until 30 years after his crucifixion.

One thousand priests were specially trained in masonry and carpentry to construct the consecrated area which laymen had no access to. Some 18,000 stone-cutters, carpenters and craftsmen were laid off when the work was complete.

Josephus and the Mishnah tell us much about the magnificent opulence of the temple. It was constructed from alabaster, stibium (antimony sulfide) and marble - its appearance dazzling "as waves of the sea". Lebanese Cedar was used to create roofing beams for the collonaded area around the outer courts. The page background shows plaster work from the ceiling of that same area.

Each of the nine gates to the Temple were overlaid with gold and silver. The most beautiful, the Nicanor Gate, through which pilgrims entered to make their sacrifices was made of Corinthian Bronze.

Amongst other tragedies during the life of the Temple, at the Passover of 4BC with Judea on the brink of rebellion following the death of King Herod the Great, troops of the new King, Herod's Son Archelaus, killed 3000 people as they gathered to sacrifice their lamb offerings.

In AD70, just seven years after its final completion, the Temple was completely destroyed following an extended siege by the Roman Army.

No man of another nation to enter within the fence and enclosure around the temple. And whoever is caught will have himself to blame that his death ensues.

some photographs Todd Bolen (www.bibleplaces.com)
and Inspirational Films Inc.