The First Temple Vs. the Second Temple in Judaism
29 SEP 2017
The First Holy Temple in Judaism was built by the Jewish King Solomon, who became ruler of the Jewish people in 967 B.C. More than 3,000 officials were appointed to supervise the massive construction project of the First Temple. It was the central place for ritual sacrifice in the Jewish religion until it was destroyed by the Babylonians about 400 years after its construction in 586 B.C. The Jews began constructing the Second Temple in 515 B.C., which the Romans destroyed in 70 A.D.
1 Ark of the Covenant
The Ark of the Covenant was a symbol of God's presence on earth. The Ark was placed in the Holy of Holies inside the First Temple. After the destruction of the temple, the Ark went missing and it is unclear where it went. There is no conclusive evidence that it was destroyed by the Babylonians. According to the Jewish Virtual Library, some sources say that Josiah, one of the last Jewish kings to rule during the First Temple Period, hid the Ark before the Babylonian destruction. Some believe it was buried by the prophet Jeremiah.
2 Eternal Flame
The Eternal Flame, or Ner Tamid, was an oil lamp that stood outside the First Temple in Jerusalem as a symbol of God's eternal presence. The Eternal Flame did not exist in the Second Temple. Modern-day synagogues typically have a replica of the Eternal Flame that is powered by either gas or electric lightbulbs.
3 Holy of Holies
The Holy of Holies was the most important room in the First Temple. It contained the ark of the covenant and the two tablets of the Ten Commandments. The Holy of Holies was the room where the High Priest would enter once every year on Yom Kippur to pray on behalf of the nation of Israel. After the Babylonian destruction of the temple in 586 B.C., the two tablets and the ark of the covenant went missing. The Second Temple's Holy of Holies room did not contain any of the holy objects from the First Temple. It was a very small room completely devoid of any furniture or objects.
While the Second Temple was built on the same spot and with the same dimensions as the First Temple, the First Temple was housed right next to the king's palace. When the Second Temple was built, however, there was no royal palace on the property and it appeared more accessible to the common Jewish people.