Introduction to Jerusalem in the days of David (I)/The selection of Jerusalem and the Mikdash (part II)

  • Rav Yitzchak Levy
The Israel Koschitzky Virtual Beit Midrash

Jerusalem in the Bible
Yeshivat Har Etzion


SHIUR #24: Introduction to Jerusalem

in the days of David (I)/

The selection of Jerusalem and the Mikdash (part Ii)

 

Rav Yitzchak Levi

 

 

            In the previous shiur, we dealt with various aspects of David's choosing of Jerusalem. In this shiur, we shall deal with the transition from Jerusalem as a royal city to Mikdash. We shall examine David's various actions in this context – bringing the aron up to Jerusalem and his efforts on behalf of the Mikdash. We shall continue with a discussion regarding the Divine selection of Jerusalem. And we shall complete the topic with the interesting correlation between the character of Jerusalem in the Torah and the nature of the city in the days of David, and with the correlation between the period of David and our own generation.

 

I           The transition from royal city to Mikdash

 

1. Bringing up the aron

 

King David's first royal act in Jerusalem following the consolidation of his rule in that city and his victory over the Pelishtim was bringing the aron up from Kiryat Ye'arim to Jerusalem.[1] There are two great novelties in this act.

 

The first novelty is David's very interest in the aron.  After having been returned from the country of the Pelishtim, and having been brought up from Bet Shemesh to Kiryat Ye'arim, the aron remained there for twenty years (I Shemuel 7:2),[2] during which time nobody inquired about it. The aron lay in Kiryat Ye'arim arousing no concern, as David explicitly stated: "And let us bring back the aron of our God to us, for we did not inquire about it in the days of Shaul" (I Divrei Ha-yamim 13:3). It is possible that Shemuel and Shaul refrained from inquiring about the aron because of the plague in Bet Shemesh which more than anything else demonstrated that the aron is liable to kill, and because they thought that the people of Israel had not yet corrected their attitude toward the aron. It should be remembered that even David, who ventured to bring the aron up, exposed himself to its potential to kill which found expression in Peretz Uzza (Ibid., vv. 9-11).

 

The second novelty in the bringing up of the aron lies in the place to which David brought it. The aron's normal and natural place is in the Mishkan. The aron was captured by the Pelishtim after the Israelites had removed it from the Mishkan in Shilo for the battle at Even Ha Ezer, and it is to the Mishkan – which in the days of David (following the destruction of Shilo, and afterwards the destruction of Nov) was located in Giv'on – that it should have been returned. In a most surprising manner, however, and upon his own initiative and without inquiring whatsoever of God (as he had done, it should be remembered, when he established Jerusalem as his capital city), David brought the aron up to Jerusalem in a great procession.[3] There are two significant aspects to this step:

 

A) The desire to turn the royal capital into a base for the site of the Temple As we have emphasized, this was done "from below," at the initiative of David and without inquiring of God, with the objective of building a foundation for the Mikdash.[4]

B)  David is not prepared to sever the connection between the place of government and monarchy and the place of the resting of God's Shekina for even a moment.

 

It seems that David's determined stand regarding the place of the aron is proven beyong the shadow of a doubt by the story of the Avshalom's rebellion. Avshalom rebelled in Hebron, and while he was on his way to Jerusalem, David decided to leave the city and avoid the confrontation with his son. Shortly before his departure from the city, a discussion arose regarding what to do with the aron:

 

And all the country wept with a loud voice, and all the people passed over.  The king also himself passed over the Kidron wadi, and all the people passed over, towards the way of the wilderness. And Tzadok also came, and all the Levites with him, bearing the ark of the covenant of God.  And they set down the ark of God; and Evyatar went up, until all the people had finished passing out of the city.

And the king said to Tzadok, Carry back the ark of God into the city: if I shall find favor in the eyes of the Lord, He will bring me back, and show me both it, and His habitation.  But if He thus says, I have no delight in you; behold, here am I, let Him do to me as seems good in His eyes. The king said to Tzadok the priest, Do you see? Return into the city in peace, and your two sons with you, Achima'atz your son, and Yehonatan the son of Evyatar. (II Shemuel 15:23-24)

 

            What is the point about which Tzadok and David disagreed? Tzadok thought as follows: The king brought the aron to Jerusalem, and if he has now decided to leave the city on account of his son, the aron should follow in the wake of the king. David, on the other hand, thought that the king should follow in the wake of the aron,[5] and the aron's place is in Jerusalem. The royal city will eventually serve as the place of the Mikdash; therefore, the aron must stay with him who is in Jerusalem, and he who is outside of Jerusalem must be without it. As David puts it: "If I shall find favor in the eyes of the Lord, He will bring me back, and show me both it, and His habitation.[6]  But if He thus says, I have no delight in you; behold, here am I, let Him do to me as seems good in His eyes."

 

            In other words - I am dependent upon the grace of God: If I merit to return and see the aron and the Mikdash in Jerusalem, I will be very happy; and if God does not want me, let Him to do me as seems good in His eyes, and I will not return to Jerusalem. The aron, however, will remain in Jerusalem, for that is its fixed place, and whoever rules as king after me, will rule in Jerusalem, the city in which the aron and the Mikdash are found.

 

            David appears here in all his nobility. Even though he knows that from a governmental perspective, it is preferable that the aron – the most important vessel in the Mikdash, that which represents the resting of the Shekhina on the people of Israel – should remain with him, and not with the rebellious Avshalom, he allows no place for such considerations. He acts out of a feeling of deep dependence upon God, and leaves the aron in its place.

 

In any event, David's bringing the aron up to Jerusalem immediately after consolidating his rule points to the future joining of the royal city to the Mikdash.[7]

 

2.  The request to build the house of GOd

 

After bringing the aron up to Jerusalem, David asks to build the house of God:

 

And it came to pass, when the king sat in his house, and the Lord had given him rest round about from all his enemies; that the king said to Natan the prophet: See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells within curtain. And Natan said to the king, Go, do all that is in your heart; for the Lord is with you. (II Shemuel 7:1-3)

 

            Interestingly, this was the first time that David addressed a question to a prophet in this context – something that he had not done previously, neither with respect to going to Jerusalem, nor with respect to bringing up the aron.

 

            The formulation of the request is also interesting.  David does not explicitly state that he wishes to build a house for God, but instead he merely presents the facts: "I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells within curtain," on the self-evident assumption that it cannot be that the human king should have a permanent home, a structure made of cedars, while the King of kings has no permanent house.

 

            Another point to which attention should be paid is that the request focuses on the "ark of God" that "dwells within curtain." That is to say, the house that David wishes to build is essentially a house for the aron. This is stated even more explicitly in Divrei Ha-yamim:

 

Then David the king stood up upon his feet, and said, Hear me, my brethren, and my people: As for me, I had it in my heart to build a house of rest for the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and for the footstool of our God, and I had made ready for building. (I Divrei Ha-yamim 28:2)

 

            In other words, the house of God is the "house of rest for the ark": a permanent house in which the aron will rest from wars. This is also implied in David's words to Shelomo:

 

Take heed now, for the Lord has chosen you to build a house for the sanctuary; be strong and do it. (I Divrei Ha-yamim 28:10)

 

"A house for the sanctuary" – i.e., a house for the aron.[8]

 

            King David is deeply connected, then, to the aron, the place of the resting of God's Shekhina; from his perspective, this is the soul of the house.[9] This fact illuminates in even stronger light the greatness and nobility of David when he left the aron in Jerusalem as he fled from Avshalom, and the special significance of that act.

 

            David's request to build a house for God in Jerusalem was answered in the negative, because (according to the book of Shemuel) his kingdom had not yet become firmly established. One might have expected that this negative answer would have brought David to focus on other issues of leadership and government: defense, economics, justice, interior, society, and the like. It seems, however, that David continued with all his strength to promote all the efforts that wee necessary for the building of the Mikdash – with the exception of the building itself which was forbidden to him by a prophet.

 

3.  David's efforts on Behalf of the Mikdash

 

We wish to focus now on four issues arising out of the story of the census and the revelation at the threshing floor of Aravna (II Shemuel 24; I Divrei Ha-yamim 21-22:1):

 

A) David's self-sacrifice: In the wake of the census and the terrible plague, David offers his very life: "Let Your hand, I pray You, O Lord, my God, be on me, and on my father's house" (I Divrei Ha-yamim 21:17). David asks that the plague strike him; he is ready to offer his life, out of a feeling of responsibility for the 70,000 people who had already died and in order to put an end to the dying. It was in the wake of this self-sacrifice that the site of the Mikdash was revealed to David.

 

It is interesting (and it must be examined whether there is a connection) that this trait of devotion and self-sacrifice also reveals itself in David's great yearnings and sufferings to find the site of the Mikdash, as is described in Tehilim 132:

 

A song of ascent. Lord, remember to David's favor all his afflictions.  How he swore to the Lord, and vowed to the mighty God of Yaakov.  Surely I will not come into the tabernacle of my house, nor go up into my bed; I will not give sleep to my eyes, slumber to my eyelids, until I find out a place for the Lord, a habitation for the mighty One of Yaakov. (Tehillim 132:1-5)

 

            This devotion and self-sacrifice continues even afterwards. The scriptural passages in Divrei Ha-yamim 22-29 describe David's absolute devotion to the cause of the Mikdash: appointment of hewers and other artisans; preparation of the construction materials – wood, stone, and precious metals (in addition to the consecration of the spoils of all of his wars to this objective); the establishment of the mishmarot of priests and Levites that would serve in the Mikdash once it is built; urging Shelomo and all his officers to begin the construction; planning the building and the necessary materials. Total devotion to the cause of building the Mikdash appears, then, to be a fundamental trait of David.

 

B) Revelation of the site of the Mikdash: Owing to David's total devotion to and self-effacement before God, God reveals to him the site of the Mikdash. Here God chooses the location of the Mikdash, and reveals it to man by way of the prophet Gad, who says to David: "David should go up, and set up an altar to the Lord on the threshing floor of Ornan the Yevusi" (I Divrei Ha-yamim 21:18). As in the story of the binding of Yitzchak, here too devotion and self-sacrifice are the key to God's choosing the place, and following this selection, God reveals the site to man. This was true at the time of the Akeida, the first Mikdash and even the second Mikdash.[10]

 

C. Acquiring the threshing floor from Aravna. The Sifrei deals with the contradiction between what is written in the book of Shemuel and what is written in the book of Divrei Ha-yamim regarding the sum paid by David for the site:

 

"So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver" (II Shemuel 24:24). And elsewhere it says: "So David gave to Ornan for the place six hundred shekels of gold by weight" (I Divrei Ha-yamim 21:25). You cannot say "shekels of gold," because it already says "shekels of silver," and you cannot say "shekels of silver," because it already says "shekels of gold." Say then: He weighed it out in gold and acquired it with silver. And you cannot say "fifty," for it already says "six hundred," and you cannot say "six hundred," for it already says "fifty." Say then: When David saw the place that was fit for the construction of the Bet ha-Bechira, he stood up and collected fifty shekels from each and every tribe, so that there were 600 shekels from all the tribes. (Sifrei Devarim, 352)

 

            The place was acquired with the money of all of Israel, all the tribes becoming financial partners in the acquisition and ownership of Mount Moriah. We see then that reaching the place and acquiring it depended not only on devotion and self-sacrifice, but also on the unity of all of Israel.[11]

 

            The transition from royal city to the site of the Mikdash was conditional then upon self-sacrifice and unity. It should be remembered that this constitutes the second stage in the selection of Jerusalem and the Mikdash: the Divine selection of the site of the Mikdash.

 

D) The first revelation of the site of the Mikdash: As we explained in the previous shiur, according to our understanding of the plain meaning of the scriptural text, it is here that the site of the Mikdash was first revealed to David. Previously, David had tried to find the site of the Mikdash, but the location was not made known to him.

 

It should be noted that this position is not universally accepted. Some suggest that David knew that the site of the Mikdash was found somewhere in the Jerusalem region, but he did not know the precise location. Interestingly, this is also the position of the Radak (who, as we saw in the previous shiur, agrees fundamentally that the site of the Mikdash was not known until the revelation at the threshing floor of Aravna): "… He also did not know the site of the Mikdash, until the prophet Gad told David to build an altar on the threshing floor of Aravna. Nevertheless, the general area he knew by tradition, that the house of God would be built on Mount Moriah, but the precise location was not known until the prophet Gad told him (Radak, II Shemuel 15:30).

 

II         THE DIVINE SELECTION OF JERUSALEM

 

The completion of the selection of Jerusalem and the total fulfillment of the verses referring to "the place that the Lord will choose," and of the prophesy "the Lord will choose" announced at the Akeida, came during the days of Shelomo. Shelomo was the first to experience the standing Mikdash, connected to the city through the royal palace that stood between them.

 

            When the aron was brought to the Mikdash, Shelomo said in the name of God:

 

Since the day that I brought forth My people out of Egypt, I chose no city out of all the tribes of Israel to build a house, that My name might be there, but I chose David to be over My people Israel. (I Melakhim 8:16)

 

The parallel passage in Divrei ha-Yamim reads:

 

Since the day that I brought My people out of the land of Egypt I chose no city among all the tribes of Israel to build a house in, that My name might be there; nor did I choose any man to be a ruler over My people Israel; but I have chosen Jerusalem, that My name might be there; and have chosen David to be over My people Israel. (II Divrei Ha-yamim 6:5-6)[12]

 

            It is important to be precise about the corresponding passages. In Divrei Ha-yamim, we find the full formulation: "I chose no city… but I have chosen Jerusalem"; "nor did I choose any man… and have chosen David." In Melakhim, in contrast, we find only: "I chose no city… but I chose David." That is to say, there is an intentional lacuna in both parts of the equation: the first part does not mention "nor did I choose any man," and in the second part there is no mention of the choosing of Jerusalem. This formulation fits in with the consistent approach of the book of Shemuel that the choice of the city depends upon the choice of the king: David chooses Jerusalem. Since the city is the city of Israel's monarchy, its selection is not a Divine selection independent of the king, but rather the king of all of Israel chooses the city "from below," on his own initiative.

 

            A similar formulation regarding the selection of Jerusalem is found in the prophecy of Achiya ha-Shiloni to Yeravam:

 

But he shall have one tribe for My servant David's sake, and for Jerusalem's sake, the city which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel. (I Melakhim 11:32)[13]

 

            In these two sources, the initial selection of Jerusalem is formulated in the past tense, that is to say, as a Divine selection that had already took place. This selection took place during the days of Shelomo, during whose time the city and the Mikdash reached their full expression for the first time.

 

            To summarize, we have thus far seen in detail the selection process of the city and the Mikdash in its three stages: the human selection of the city of Jerusalem by David – through kingdom and unity; Divine selection of the site of the Mikdash in the wake of self-sacrifice and unity; and Divine selection of the city and the Mikdash through the joining of the two during the days of Shelomo.

 

III        CORRELATION OF THE ALLUSIONS IN THE TORAH WITH THE SELECTION OF JERUSALEM FOR ALL GENERATIONS

 

We wish to argue that that which we learned in the Torah about the two aspects of Jerusalem parallels the process that became manifest from the days of David on, and that this too embodies the principle of "the deeds of the fathers are a sign for the children."

 

When we studied Avram's meeting with Malki-Tzedek, we emphasized that Avram arrived in Jerusalem on his own initiative; the meeting was conducted in one of the valleys near Jerusalem; its content – the kings' desire to crown Avram as king; and Avram chose Malki-Tzedek's righteousness and rejected Sedom's wickedness. Our argument now is that this meeting parallels the conquest of the city by David: David arrives in Jerusalem on his own initiative; it is he who chooses the city; and his arrival is intended to consolidate his kingship over all of Israel.

 

In the story of the Akeida, in contrast, we emphasized that Avraham's arrival was not of his own initiative; the encounter took place on Mount Moriah; it involved great self-sacrifice; and the Akeida included Divine revelation and Divine selection of the place. There seems to be a great correspondence between the Akeda story and the encounter with the angel on the threshing floor of Aravna the Yevusi: both take place in the same place; in both cases an altar is constructed; and in both cases an angel intervenes and changes the plan, and there is a change in the Divine name through which God appears.[14] David also does not arrive there of his own initiative, but in the wake of the census, the plague, and the revelation of the angel. David is also ready to offer his life and die of the plague. Here too the situation changes in the wake of David's self-sacrifice, and God reveals to him the place through the prophet Gad.

 

This correspondence teaches us that in addition to the unique content of each individual story (as we discussed in the appropriate shiurs), the Torah alludes in Avraham's actions to the history and essence of Jerusalem over the course of the generations.

 

IV.       THE CORRESPONDENCE BETWEEN THE PROCESS IN THE DAYS OF DAVID AND IN OUR PERIOD

 

In conclusion, we would like to examine the process of the selection of Jerusalem through the eyes of our generation, and argue that there exists a correspondence between the arrival in Jerusalem in the days of David and the arrival of the Jewish people in Jerusalem in our generation.

 

We have seen that the people of Israel reached Jerusalem more than 400 years after the conquest of the land. All seem to agree that the Zionist movement reached the city only many years after the beginning of the settlement of the land (for various reasons).

 

Moreover, the return to the ancient, original Jerusalem – the City of David and the Old City – took place only after the Six Day War. Immediately following the liberation of the Old City, R. Moshe Tzvi Neriya, ztz"l, made an amazing comment:

 

Among the thoughts and feelings of these great days, there arises also the question: Why didn't God give us Jerusalem already then, in 1948, and by virtue of what have we merited that it was returned to us now? In an amazing way, entirely unnatural, it slipped from our hands then, and once again in an amazing way, beyond logic, it was given to us, presented to us now.

The answer is alluded in the esoteric talk of the ancient  Sages. Regarding Jerusalem it is stated in the Talmud Yerushalmi: "'As a city that is joined together' – a city that joins Israel one to the other" (Yerushalmi, Bava Kama 7:7). In a different form it was taught in the Talmud Bavli: "'You may not sacrifice the paschal offering within any of your gates' (Devarim 16-5) – I only spoke of a period when all of Israel enter in one gate" (Zevachim 114b).

Indeed, nineteen years ago the Palmach broke through Zion Gate, and the Etz"l soldiers were about to break through the Damascus Gate. We were separated and disjoined. Had we succeeded then, it would have been a situation in which "two were holding on" (shenayim ochazim) to Jerusalem, each one saying "it is entirely mine." Jerusalem would have turned into a source of division, a cause of quarrel and argument. The stones of Jerusalem would have turned into the stones of controversy. And "Jerusalem was not apportioned to the tribes" (Yoma 12a). It was given to the entire people of Israel… Jerusalem comes to increase peace in the world.

And therefore, only now when we have all entered through a single gate… only now, when we are all united, when a national unity government stands at the helm, when our fighting army is a unified army – the Israel Defense Forces, when all of our brothers in the Diaspora stand behind us with a single heart, only now have we merited this great event: He who restores His Shekhina to Zion has restored Jerusalem to us!… The conquest of Jerusalem – its first beginning was with the unification of the tribes of Israel. And its recent beginning was with the blessing of the unity of the people.

As long as we continue to be united, all of Jerusalem will continue to be ours….[15]

 

            R. Neriya adopted the words of the Radak and interpreted them for our generation. He noted the fact that in 1948 the split between the various factions prevented the unification of the city and even caused its division,[16] whereas the great unity that revealed itself on the eve of the Six Day War[17] allowed for the unification of the city.

 

We would like to expand upon R. Neriya's idea and argue that leaving the threshing floor in the hands of Aravna, King of the Yevusim, after the conquest of the city in the days of David, found its parallel in the first act of Defense Minister Moshe Dayan, z"l, following the conquest of the Temple Mount: willingly handing over the keys to the Mount to the Aravna of our generation, the members of Muslim Waqf, disregarding, as it were, the fact that the city had been captured.

 

Today, we find ourselves at the foot of the mountain. If the comparison that we have drawn is correct, then what will allow us to climb the mountain in purity and sanctity, is self-sacrifice and unity, such as were evidenced during the days of David, and allowed for the Divine revelation of the place. Let us hope that this will not require a plague or sacrifice,[18] God forbid.

 

SUMMARY

 

            We have followed the course of the people of Israel, starting with the land, continuing with the city, and concluding with the Mikdash. We have demonstrated the spiritual significance of each of these stages and the overall meaning of the order of events.[19]

 

            Having demonstrated the overall process of the selection of Jerusalem, we shall, with God's help, deal in the coming shiur with the Divine selection of the city, and examine the connection between monarchy and Mikdash.

 

FOOTNOTES:

 

[1] As we noted in the previous shiur, it is not our intention to deal here with the details of each story, but rather with the meaning of the process as a whole.

 

[2] Seder Olam Rabba (chap. 13) spells out those twenty years as follows: Eleven years under the leadership of Shemuel; two years of the reign of Shaul; and seven years of David's reign in Hebron. That text reads: "'And it came to pass, while the aron remained in Kiryat Ye'arim that the time was long; for it was twenty years' (I Shemuel 7:2). Deduct seven years during which David reigned over Yehuda in Hebron; thirteen years remain. Deduct eleven years of Shemuel on his own, and two [years] of Shemuel and Shaul."

 

[3] This step had a halakhic ramification. While the aron was in the Mishkan, e.g. in Shilo, private altars (bamot) were forbidden. But when the aron was outside the Mishkan, they were permitted. When the aron was brought to the City of David, and remained outside the Mishkan, David unwittingly continued the allowance of private altars.

 

[4] It should be remembered that, in our humble opinion, David did not know the site of the Mikdash at this time, but he was very interested in having the Mikdash built adjacent to the capital city.

 

[5] It is possible that David adopted the outlook that "the king follows the aron" in order to repair the sin committed when he brought the aron up to Jerusalem, for then, in a certain sense, the aron went after the king. We shall deal with this issue in our shiur on the bringing up of the aron to Jerusalem.

 

[6] The meaning of the term navehu, "His habitation," in this context is exceedingly interesting. Yonatan ben Uziel (ad loc.) renders the verse as: "And He showed it to me, and I served Him in His holy Temple." Similarly Metzudot David: "Then He will return me to Jerusalem, and I will see Him and His Mikdash." According to the order of the chapters, Avshalom's rebellion took place prior to the revelation at the threshing floor of Aravna the Yevusi, but nevertheless David was already sure and confident, according to these explanations, that the Mikdash would be built in Jerusalem.

 

[7] It is important to emphasize that the bringing up of the aron to Jerusalem, placing it in the tent pitched by David, and the offering of sacrifices, created a new ritual system, apart from and independent of the service at the great bama in Giv'on. In I Divrei Ha-yamim 9:19 onwards, the doorkeepers, "the keepers of the threshhold of the tabernacle" in Jerusalem, are depicted as part of the system of mishmarot established by "David and Shemuel the seer in their office of trust" (Ibid. v. 22). See also ibid. 16:4-6: "And he appointed certain of the Levites to minister before the ark of the Lord, and to invoke, and to thank and praise the Lord God of Israel…. And Benayahu and Yachaziel the priests with trumpets continually before the ark of the covenant of the Lord." And see ibid. v. 37, in the context of a description of the division of the Divine service between the aron in the tent in the City of David and the bama in Giv'on, where it is stated: "So he left there before the ark of the covenant of the Lord Asaf and his brethren to minister before the ark continually, as every day's work required… And Oved-Edom the son of Yeditun and Chosa to be doorkeepers." With the appointment of Levites to sing the daily song over the daily offering and doorkeepers to guard the aron, David effectively established a new site of worship in the City of David, parallel to Givon, with the objective of eventually turning it into the house of God. 

 

[8] The word mikdash is used to denote the aron in the verse: "And the Kehati set forward, bearing the mikdash" (Bamidbar 10:21), as the Ibn Ezra explains: "'Bearing the mikdash' – namely, the aron." According to this, the original meaning of the term mikdash was aron, and the entire structure of the Temple was called by that name because of the most important vessel contained therein. Similarly, the word mishkan originally referred to the inner curtain of the Ohel Mo'ed, but it was used to describe the entire structure (I heard this insight from my revered teacher, R. Yoel Bin Nun).

 

[9] Additional proof may be brought from Chazal's description of Shelomo's inability to bring the aron into the Holy of Holies until he mentioned his father David's acts of kindness (Shabbat 30a). As opposed to David's deep connection to the aron, Shelomo was especially connected to the altar. This, however, is not the forum to discuss the issue.

 

[10] Regarding the second Temple, see Zevachim 62a: "Three prophets went up with them from the exile: One who testified before them about the altar, one who testified before them about the place of the altar…."

 

[11] This idea also arises in Midrash Kohelet Rabba (3, 3): "Another explanation: 'He has made everything beautiful in its time' (Kohelet 3:11). Rabbi Berakhya said in the name of Rabbi Abbahu who said in the name of Rabbi Elazar: The controversy between Rechavam and Yeravam should have been between David and Sheva ben Bikhri.  But the Holy One, blessed be He, said: The Bet ha-Mikdash has not yet been built, and I should bring controversy into the kingdom of the house of David? Rather, let the Mikdash be built, and afterwards what will eventually happen will happen."

 

[12] Much can be said regarding the relationship between kingdom and Mikdash in general, and between David and Jerusalem in particular. Also very interesting is the comparison between the books of Melakhim and Divrei Ha-yamim regarding the role of the king in relation to the Mikdash.

 

[13] The mention of the Divine selection of the city in a prophecy on the division of the kingdom is not accidental. The prophet emphasizes thereby to Yeravam that the division is solely governmental, but the two kingdoms will continue to serve God in the place where He chose to rest His Shekhina, and nowhere else. This emphasis is meant to negate the establishment of another ritual center – and this is precisely the matter violated by Yeravam.

 

[14] There also exists oppositional parallelism between the two stories. Without going into the details, we merely note that behind the revelation at the threshing floor of Aravna stands the story of the Akeida.

 

[15] Rav M. Tz. Neriya, Mo'adei ha-Ra'aya, Jerusalem, 1980, pp. 480-481 (emphases in the source).

 

[16] It is interesting to examine the connection between the unity of the city and the unity of the people across the generations.

 

[17] We will illustrate this with a single event: The embrace of Ben-Gurion and Begin, two figures who represented distant poles from an ideological and political perspective, but found a way to unite at that time.

 

[18] We have not mentioned here the Midrash and the amazing words of the Ramban in Parashat Korach on this issue. These sources will be cited at length in our shiur on the census and the revelation at the threshing  floor.

 

[19] Let us emphasize that in the days of the Second Temple, the course of events was just the opposite.  At first Koresh granted permission to rebuild the Mikdash; in the days of Nechemya there was a transition to the city; and in the end a state arose. This was also the order among the Chashmonean kings. These issues require a separate shiur.

 

(Translated by David Strauss)