Shiur #28: The History of the Resting of the Shekhina(Part XIII) - The Dedication of the Mishkan (Part IV)

  • Rav Yitzchak Levy
The Israel Koschitzky Virtual Beit Midrash

Mikdash
Yeshivat Har Etzion


 

 

Shiur #28: The History of the Resting of the Shekhina

(Part XIII)

The Dedication of the Mishkan (Part IV)

 

Rav Yitzchak Levi

 

 

            To conclude the discussion of the dedication of the Mishkan, in the next two lectures we will examine its relationship with the dedication of the first and second Temples and the dedication of the future Temple as described in the book of Yechezkel.  In this lecture, I will discuss the dates of these dedications, and in the next lecture I will deal with the sacrifices offered on each occasion.

 

I.          THE DATES OF THE BUILDING AND DEDICATION OF THE MISHKAN

 

First, I wish to review in detail the various dates associated with the building and dedication of the Mishkan.  Most of them are not stated explicitly in Scripture, but are rather based on the words of Chazal.

 

1)         THE COMMAND TO BUILD THE MISHKAN

 

We have already seen (lecture no.  22) two main positions on this issue:

 

a)                  The view of the Ramban (Shemot 25:2; 35:1; Vayikra 8:1) is that the command was given during the first forty-day period that Moshe spent on Mount Sinai; that is to say, between the 6th of Sivan and the 17th of Tammuz according to the rabbinic calculations.

 

b)                  The view of the Tanchuma (Teruma 8) that Moshe was commanded to build the Mishkan on Yom Kippur.[1]

 

2)         MOSHE'S COMMAND DIRECTED AT THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL

 

            Rashi (Shemot 35:1) understands, based on the midrash (Seder Olam Rabba, end of chap. 6), that Moshe assembled the people of Israel to command them to build the Mishkan when he descended from Mount Sinai on the day after Yom Kippur.

 

3)         THE BEGINNING OF THE ACTUAL WORK

 

The Ga'on of Vilna (in his commentary to Shir Ha-shirim 1:4) proposes the following understanding:

 

… Sukkot commemorates the clouds of Glory, which depended on the building of the Mishkan, and it is written, "And the people brought." This answers the question that has been asked: Why do we build sukkot in Tishrei? Inasmuch as they correspond to the clouds of Glory, it would have appropriate to build them in Nissan, because it was in Nissan that the clouds first appeared.  It seems, however, that when they made the [golden] calf, the clouds disappeared, after which they did not return until the work on the Mishkan commenced.  Moshe descended [from Mount Sinai] on Yom Kippur, and on the day after Yom Kippur "Moshe assembled" (Shemot 35:1) [the people] and commanded [them] about the building of the Mishkan.  This was on the 11th of Tishrei.  And it is written: "And the people brought in the morning in the morning (ba-boker ba-boker)" – another two days, bringing us to the 13th of Tishrei.  And on the 14th of Tishrei, every wise man of heart took the gold from Moshe, and on the 15th they began to work.  It was then that the clouds of Glory returned, and for this reason we observe Sukkot on the 15th of Tishrei.

 

            According to the Vilna Ga'on, the actual building of the Mishkan began on the 15th of Tishrei, and led to the return of the clouds of Glory, which had disappeared in the wake of the sin of the golden calf and returned now with the beginning of the construction of the Mishkan.  This corresponds to the resting of the Shekhina in a cloud on Mount Sinai before the giving of the Torah.  According to the Vilna Ga'on, there is an essential connection between the building of the Mishkan and the festival of Sukkot, which according to one opinion commemorates the clouds of Glory; as such, the sukka parallels the Mishkan.[2]

 

4)         THE COMPLETION OF THE BUILDING OF THE MISHKAN

 

The Torah devotes a separate section to the completion of the building of the Mishkan (Shemot 39:32-43), but the date on which this occurred is not stated explicitly.  Chazal proposed various suggestions regarding the date and its significance:

 

R. Chanina said: On the 25th of Kislev, the work of the Mishkan was completed and it was kept rolled up until the 1st of Nisan, for Moshe set it up on the 1st of Nisan.  (Pesikta Rabbati, 6)

 

After how many months was the work of the Mishkan completed?

R. Shmuel bar Nachman said: The work of the Mishkan was completed in three months, Tishrei, Marcheshvan, Kislev.  And it lay disassembled during Tevet, Shevat and Adar, and it was set up on the 1st of Nisan….

R. Chanina said: The work of the Mishkan was completed on the 1st of Adar.  Why? Work that is done during the summer in one day takes two days during the winter.

And according to R. Shmuel bar Nachmani, who said that the Mishkan was made in three months, why was it not set up immediately? Because the Holy One, blessed be He, thought to mingle the joy of the Mishkan with the joy of the day on which Yitzchak our father was born.  (Tanchuma Pekudei 11)

 

            Two points should be noted: 1) R. Chanina in Pesikta Rabbati draws a clear connection between the completion of the work of the Mishkan and the Hasmonean rededication of the Temple on the 25th of Kislev.  2) According to all opinions, there is a time gap between the completion of the work and the dedication – the dedication is not immediate – which indicates that the date of the dedication has independent significance.

 

5)         THE DEDICATION OF THE MISHKAN

 

Here, the Torah offers an explicit date – the 1st of Nisan:

 

And the Lord spoke to Moshe, saying.  On the first day of the first month shall you set up the tabernacle of the Tent of Meeting.  (Shemot 40:1-2)

 

            In part I of this lecture (lecture no.  25), I focused on the disagreement regarding whether the dedication of the Mishkan was on the 1st of Nisan or on the 8th of that month.  Here I wish to discuss the significance of the dedication in Nisan, for as we see from the Tanchuma, according to all opinions, God intentionally waited for Nisan.

 

            Nisan is a special month for Israel.  It is in regard to Nisan that a new and independent calendar was given to Israel: "This month shall be to you the beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you" (Shemot 12:2).  And it is from Nisan that the years of the reign of the kings of Israel are counted (Rosh Ha-Shana 3a).  Additional expressions of the Jewish nature of this month are found in the position of R. Yehoshua in his famous disagreement with R. Eliezer:

 

It was taught: R. Eliezer says: In Tishrei the world was created; in Tishrei the patriarchs were born; in Tishrei the patriarchs died; on Pesach Yitzchak was born; on Rosh Ha-Shana Sara, Rachel and Chana were remembered with a child; on Rosh Ha-Shana Yosef was released from prison; on Rosh Ha-Shana our forefathers in Egypt were released from work; in Nisan they were redeemed; in Tishrei they will be redeemed in the future.

R. Yehoshua says: In Nisan the world was created; in Nisan the patriarchs were born; in Nisan the patriarchs died; on Pesach Yitzchak was born; on Rosh Ha-Shana Sara, Rachel and Chana were remembered [with a child]; on Rosh Ha-Shana Yosef was released from prison; on Rosh Ha-Shana our forefathers in Egypt were released from work; in Nisan they were redeemed; in Nisan they will be redeemed in the future.  (Rosh Ha-Shana 10b-11a)

 

            The dedication of the Mishkan in Nisan emphasizes the special nature of the Mishkan for Israel: its being the place where the people of Israel encounter God and where the giving of the Torah continues (as was discussed in previous lectures).[3]

 

II.        THE FIRST TEMPLE

 

Scripture notes the dates of various stages of the building of the First Temple: the beginning of the construction, its completion, and the dedication.[4]

 

1)         THE BEGINNING OF THE BUILDING – IN THE MONTH OF ZIV

 

The building of the Temple began in the 4th year of Shlomo's reign in the month of Ziv, and concluded seven years later, in the 11th year of his reign in the month of Bul:

 

In the fourth year was the foundation of the house of the Lord laid, in the month Ziv; and in the eleventh year, in the month Bul (which is the eighth month), was the house finished throughout its parts; and according to all the fashion of it.  So was he seven years in building it.  (I Melakhim 6:37-38)

 

            The Ga'on of Vilna explains (ad loc.):

 

These were the names by which they called [the months] before they were exiled to Bavel, namely, Iyar [was called] Ziv, Tishrei [was called] Eitanim, Marcheshvan [was called] Bul, and Nisan [was called] Aviv.  The names that we use, namely, Nisan [and] Iyar, are from after they went down to Bavel.

 

            The gemara in Rosh Ha-Shana 11a interprets the name "Ziv" in accordance with the conflicting opinions of R. Yehoshua and R. Eliezer.  According to R. Yehoshua, Ziv is "the month during which the nobles [zevtanei] of the world were born," namely, the patriarchs.  The difficulty is obvious; according to R. Yehoshua, as cited in the baraita above, the patriarchs were born in Nisan! Rashi explains: "During which the nobles of the world were born – when Iyar arrived, they had already been born in Nisan," so that this month "was filled with splendor [ziv] from beginning to end" (the wording of the Ritva).[5]

 

According to R. Eliezer, the month is called Ziv because the trees then in their splendor, as stated by R. Yehuda, who says that one who goes out during Nisan and sees trees blossoming must recite the blessing over trees.  Here, too, the same question arises: How does the Gemara explain the name of the month of Iyar based on things that were said about the month of Nisan? It seems that a similar answer must be offered here as well.  The trees begin to blossom during the month of Nisan, and during the month of Iyar the process is completed and all the trees stand in their full splendor.

 

According to both understandings, then, the month of Iyar is the month when processes that began in the month of Nisan are completed.  This may be the reason that this month was chosen to begin work on the Temple, God's permanent house, which completes the work of creation (which had taken place in Nisan).

 

2)         THE COMPLETION OF THE BUILDING – IN THE MONTH OF BUL

 

As stated above, the work on the Temple was completed in the month of Marcheshvan, namely, Bul – a name that might mean "produce" (yevul; see Iyov 40:20: bul harim, "the produce of the mountains"), the month during which the ingathering of the year's crops is completed.[6] This is how Targum Yonatan translates the word.[7] It turns out, then, that the construction began during the period of blossoming, and ended during the period of ingathering.

 

3)         THE DEDICATION IN TISHREI DURING OF THE FESTIVAL OF SUKKOT

 

Then Shlomo assembled the elders of Israel, and all the heads of the tribes, the chiefs of the fathers of the children of Israel, to king Shlomo in Jerusalem, that they might bring up the ark of the covenant of the Lord out of the city of David, which is Zion.  And all the men of Israel assembled themselves to king Shlomo at the feast in the month of Eitanim, which is the seventh month.  (I Melakhim 8:1-2)

 

a)         Tishrei as opposed to Nisan.  In the lectures on Jerusalem during the days of Shlomo (Lectures on Biblical Jerusalem, 5766, no.  14), I demonstrated at length that, according to the plain sense of Scripture, the Temple was only dedicated after twenty years of construction – seven years of construction of the Temple and thirteen years of construction of the king's palace – and I discussed the spiritual significance of this fact.  Shlomo, then, was free to choose the date of the dedication, and the choice of the month of Tishrei is not by chance.  However, even one who rejects my suggestion and argues that the Temple was dedicated at the end of the seven years of its construction must explain the eleven months of waiting – from the conclusion of the work in Marcheshvan to the dedication in Tishrei – which clearly testifies to the intentional selection of Tishrei for the dedication of the Temple.

 

It seems to me that Shlomo's choice of the month of Tishrei stands in opposition to the choice of Nisan for the dedication of the Mishkan.  As we have seen, this latter choice stemmed from the fact that Nisan is a special month for Israel, and it emphasizes the uniqueness of the Mishkan for Israel.  Shlomo's understanding of the Temple was totally different.  According to him, the Temple is God's eternal house, which expresses the resting of the Shekhina in the entire world.  There are many proofs that this indeed was Shlomo's perception of the Temple, some of which I shall briefly mention here (these proofs are spelled out in greater detail in the lecture mentioned in note 4):

 

1.         Shlomo's prayer implies (see I Melakhim 8:41-43) that he is trying to realize in God's Temple the prophets' vision that the house of God will serve as a site for pilgrimage and a house of prayer for all nations (Yeshayahu 2; 56:7; Mikha 4; Zekharya 14).

 

2.         This perception fits in well with Shlomo's political and economic situation.  The kingdom of Israel enjoyed wide borders and peace, Shlomo had established political pacts and commercial and marriage connections with the surrounding nations in general and with the regional powers in particular, and his fame had spread throughout the world.

 

3.         Some even see Shlomo's taking of many foreign wives as part of the process of bringing the entire world to accept the yoke of God's kingdom: "'And King Shlomo loved many foreign women' (I Melakhim 11:1)… R. Yose says: To attract them to the words of the Torah and to draw them under the wings of the Shekhina" (Yerushalmi Sanhedrin 2:6).

 

In light of all this, we can easily understand why Shlomo chose precisely the month of Tishrei, which bears universal significance (the 1st of Tishrei marks the new year for the kings of the nations of the world [Rosh Ha-Shana 3a], and on that day all of mankind is judged), and especially the festival of Sukkot, which is unparalleled in its expression of the connection between the entire world and the Mikdash.  On Sukkot, seventy oxen are offered in correspondence to the seventy nations of the world, and on Sukkot all of the nations will eventually go up to the house of God to bow down and celebrate before Him (Zekharya 14:16).[8] Whereas the first festival to be celebrated in the Mishkan was Pesach – which, more than any other command, expresses the redemption of Israel – the first festival to be celebrated in the Mikdash was Sukkot, whose sacrifices correspond to the nations of the world.[9]

 

According to Shlomo's understanding, we are dealing with spiritual progress from the temporary Mishkan in the wilderness, which expresses Israel's connection to God, to the permanent house of God on Mount Moriya, which symbolizes the entire world's connection to Him.  As we saw earlier, the dates marking the beginning and end of the work also reflect the advance from the beginning of the spiritual process of the resting of the Shekhina in the world to its end.

 

b)         The time frame of the dedication of the Temple is described in slightly different manners in the books of Melakhim and Divrei Ha-yamim:

 

And at that time Shlomo held a feast, and all Israel with him, a great congregation, from the entrance of Chamat to the wadi of Egypt, before the Lord our God, seven days and seven days, namely fourteen days.  On the eighth day he sent the people away; and they blessed the king, and went to their tents joyful and glad of heart for all the goodness that the Lord had done for David His servant, and for Israel His people.  (I Melakhim 8:65-66)

 

Also at that time Shlomo kept the feast for seven days, and all Israel with him, a very great congregation, from the entrance of Chamat to the wadi of Egypt.  And on the eighth day they made a solemn assembly: for they kept the consecration of the altar for seven days, and the feast for seven days.  And on the twenty third of the seventh month he sent the people away to their tents, glad and merry in heart for the bounty that the Lord had bestowed on David, and to Shlomo, and to Israel His people.  (II Divrei Ha-yamim 7:8-10)

 

            These two passages and the comparison between them raise several questions:

 

1)         From the account in Melakhim, it is impossible to determine what came first, the seven days of the festival of Sukkot or the seven days of the dedication of the altar.  This uncertainty is resolved in Divrei Ha-yamim, where it is stated that the people were sent away on the 23rd of Tishrei; thus, the seven days of Sukkot followed the seven days of the dedication.[10]

 

2)         What is the "solemn assembly" on the eighth day mentioned in Divrei Ha-yamim? Was this an assembly connected to the dedication of the altar, so that the altar was dedicated from the 7th of Tishrei to the 13th, the 14th was the day of assembly, and from then on the seven days of Sukkot were celebrated? Or perhaps this refers to the festival of Shemini Atzeret, which concluded the fourteen days of celebration from the 8th of Tishrei to the 21st of that month (on the assumption that the dedication of the altar and the festival of Sukkot were celebrated as a single continuum).  This uncertainty is also resolved by the commentators, who adopt the second alternative, that is, that the "solemn assembly" mentioned here refers to Shemini Atzeret.[11]

 

There are two more questions that do not have unequivocal answers:

 

3)         Were the seven days of the dedication of the altar and the seven days of the festival of Sukkot celebrated in a single continuum? If so, the offerings and celebration took place even on Shabbat and Yom Kippur!

 

4)         What is the nature of the eighth day mentioned in the book of Melakhim? Inasmuch as on this day the people were sent away, it stands to reason that it followed the fourteen days of dedication – but how does this fit in with what is recounted in Divrei Ha-yamim, that this was the day of Shemini Atzeret, and only the next day were the people sent off to their tents?

 

            Let us first see the words of the Radak (I Melakhim 8:65), who relates to all four questions:

 

"A feast" – The dedication of the Mikdash was also called a "feast" because it was in proximity to the festival of Sukkot, and they observed seven days of dedication and seven days of the festival of Sukkot.  And it says "fourteen days" to teach that they were in succession with no gap between them.  And the eighth day about which it says that "he sent the people away" was Shemini Atzeret.  We cannot explain that the seven days of dedication were after the seven days of Sukkot and the eighth day is the eighth day of the dedication, for it says in Divrei Ha-yamim, "And on the twenty third of the seventh month he sent the people away." You might say: Shemini Atzeret is on the twenty second of the month; why then does it say: "And on the twenty third"? Our Rabbis, of blessed memory, said that on the eighth day they received permission from him, but they did not leave on that day because it was a feast day, and on the twenty third of the month they again received permission from him and they went off to their tents.

 

            The Radak (as well as the Metzudot and other commentators) maintains, then, that the fourteen days constituted a single continuum: from the 8th of Tishrei to the 14th – the dedication of the altar, and from the 15th to the 22nd – the festival of Sukkot.  This also follows from what Chazal say in several places about the problem of Shabbat and Yom Kippur that fell out in the course of these days.  For example:

 

R. Farnakh said in the name of R. Yochanan: That year, Israel did not observe Yom Kippur, and they were worried and said: Perhaps the enemies of Israel became liable for destruction! A heavenly voice issued forth and said to them: You are all designated for life in the world-to-come.  (Mo'ed Katan 9a)

 

R. Levi said: It is written: "For they kept the consecration of the altar for seven days, and the feast for seven days." And there are no seven [days] before the feast [of Sukkot] that do not include Shabbat and Yom Kippur.  And during those seven days Israel ate and drank and rejoiced and lit candles, and in the end they were distressed about it, and said: Perhaps we have iniquity in our hands, that we desecrated Shabbat and failed to fast on Yom Kippur.  In order to appease them that the Holy One, blessed be He, viewed their actions with favor, a heavenly voice issued forth and said to them: You are all designated for the world-to-come.  (Bereishit Rabba 35, 3)[12]

 

            That is to say, the fourteen days were consecutive, and Yom Kippur was cancelled by way of a temporary ruling[13] because of the consecration of the altar – following the precedent established at the time of the consecration of the altar in the Mishkan, which, according to the continuation of the talmudic passage in Mo'ed Katan,[14] also included Shabbat. 

 

According to what I proposed (lecture no.  26) regarding the Yom Kippur service serving as an annual rededication of the house of God, it might be added that this service would have been unnecessary that year, for in any event Yom Kippur fell out during the dedication of the Mikdash.  As an aside, the Radak himself (ibid., as well as Abravanel) maintains that they offered peace offerings on Yom Kippur as on the other days of the dedication, but they nevertheless fasted and did not eat from them until nightfall.

 

            The Ibn Ezra (Bamidbar 7:48), in contrast, understands that the days of dedicating the altar – both in the Mishkan and in the Mikdash – were not consecutive, and did not include Shabbat or Yom Kippur:

 

"On the seventh day." Some say that they offered sacrifices on Shabbat and that this was a temporary ruling.  And some say that this was the seventh day of the dedication of the altar… What is correct in my eyes is the second explanation, owing to the peace offering.  And so, too, regarding the seventh day of encircling Jericho.  And so, too, regarding the seven days of dedicating the Temple, owing to [Yom Kippur being] a day of affliction.

 

            In similar fashion, Y. Moshkowitz[15] proposes that the assembly began shortly before Rosh Ha-Shana; from the 2nd of Tishrei until the 9th of the month, skipping the intervening Shabbat, the altar was dedicated; on Yom Kippur the people fasted and refrained from offering peace offerings; and the dedication concluded with the celebration of the festival of Sukkot and Shemini Atzeret in the new Temple.

 

III.       SECOND TEMPLE

 

Owing to the circumstances of the time, the Second Temple was built with interruptions.[16] The construction began with the building of the altar and the renewal of the sacrificial service during the month of Tishrei of the year of Israel's return to Zion:

 

And when the seventh month came… the people gathered themselves together as one man to Jerusalem… and they built the altar of the God of Israel… And they set the altar upon its bases… And they offered burnt offerings upon it to the Lord, burnt offerings morning and evening.  And they kept the feast of booths, as it is written, and offered the daily burnt offerings by number, according to the prescribed form, as the duty of every day required; and afterwards they offered the continual burnt offering, both of the new moons, and of all the sacred appointed seasons of the Lord, and on behalf of everyone who willingly offered a free will offering to the Lord.  From the first day of the seventh month, they began to offer burnt offerings to the Lord.  But the foundation of the Temple of the Lord was not yet laid.  (Ezra 3:1-6)

 

            The foundation of the Temple itself was laid in the month of Iyar that followed the building of the altar:

 

Now, in the second year of their coming to the house of God in Jerusalem, in the second month… they appointed the Levites, from twenty years old and upwards, to superintend the work of the house of the Lord… And when the builders laid the foundation of the Temple of the Lord… they sang responsively in praising and giving thanks to the Lord… And all the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid.  (ibid. vv. 8-11)

 

            Very soon thereafter, however, the work was interrupted (for both internal and external reasons) for 15 years, until the second year of Daryavesh.  To encourage the people to complete the construction of the Temple, the prophet Chaggai prophesied:

 

On the twenty fourth day of the ninth month, in the second year of Daryavesh… And now, I pray you, consider from this day onwards.  Before a stone was laid upon a stone in the Temple of the Lord… But now consider from this day onwards, from the twenty fourth day of the ninth month, from the day that the foundation of the Lord's Temple was laid, consider it.  (Chaggai 2:10, 15, 18)

 

            Chaggai establishes the 24th of Kislev – and according to some commentators[17] the 25th of that month, the day on which the dedication of the Hasmonean Temple would one day take place – as the day on which the foundation was laid for God's Temple.

 

            The construction of the Second Temple was completed on the 3rd of Adar in the sixth year of Daryavesh's reign:

 

And this house was finished on the third day of the month Adar, which was in the sixth year of the reign of Daryavesh the king.  And the children of Israel, the priests and the Levites, and the rest of the children of the exile, kept the dedication of this house of God with joy….  And the children of the exile kept the Passover upon the fourteenth day of the first month.  (Ezra 6:15-16; 19)

 

            Scripture does not specify the date on which the Second Temple was dedicated.[18] It is possible that the dedication was put off to Nisan – following the example of the dedication of the Mishkan – in proximity to the festival of Pesach, the first festival to be celebrated in the new Temple.  The Malbim, however, proposes that the dedication began already on the 3rd of Adar, and continued for 21 days, until the 23rd of Adar:

 

And they kept the dedication of this house with joy.  The ancients already explained that which it says "this house," that had they merited, the time of the future redemption would have arrived then, and immediately following this construction, a Temple would have descended from heaven like the Temple that Yechezkel had envisioned for the future, and they would have begun the second dedication as stated in Yechezkel.  But now they observed the dedication of "this" house, the word "this" indicating that there will be a dedication of a different house.  Now the dedication of Yechezkel will begin on the 23rd of Adar as is explained there,[19] and they continued their dedication until the 23rd of Adar, which is twenty one days.  And had they merited, there would immediately have been the dedication of the last Temple that will be built by the hands of heaven.  And inasmuch as during this period, Purim falls out, which is comprised of days of feasting and gladness, [Scripture] says that the primary joy was because of the dedication, [that joy] being greater than the joy of Purim.

 

            My revered teacher, R. Yaakov Medan, has suggested that the dedication began on the 3rd of Adar and lasted 12 days, like the dedication of the Mishkan by the princes – on each day a different tribal prince brought a he-goat as a sin offering (see Ezra 6:17) – and it ended on the 14th of Adar, on Purim.

 

            What is the significance of these dates? The altar was built in Tishrei, the period of Sukkot – the same time that Shlomo chose, owing to its universal nature, to dedicate the Temple.  It seems that at the outset the builders of the Second Temple wished to follow in the footsteps of Shlomo, who saw the permanent Temple as an expression of the entire world's recognition of the kingdom of God and wished to share the Temple with all the nations of the world.  The returning exiles also acted in this manner when they laid the foundation for the Temple in the month of Iyar, like Shlomo in his time.  The building of the Temple resumed, however, on the 25th of Kislev – the date on which the building of the Mishkan was completed, according to Chazal; and the Temple was dedicated in the month of Adar – close to the month of Nisan, when the Mishkan was dedicated (and perhaps in the month of Nisan itself).  What this means is that, in contrast to the original plan, the Second Temple was built in the shadow of a more modest model – the Mishkan, which was exclusive to Israel.[20]

 

IV.       THE THIRD TEMPLE

 

The dedication of the Third Temple is described in Yechezkel 43:

 

These are the ordinances of the altar on the day when they shall make it, to offer burnt offerings upon it, and to sprinkle blood upon it.  And you shall give to the priests the Levites… a young bullock for a sin offering… And on the second day you shall offer a he goat without blemish for a sin offering; and they shall purify the altar, as they did purify it with the bullock.  When you have made an end of purifying it, you shall offer a young bullock without blemish, and a ram out of the flock without blemish… Seven days shall you prepare every day a goat for a sin offering: they shall also prepare a young bullock, and a ram out of the flock, without blemish.  Seven days shall they make atonement for the altar and cleanse it; and they shall consecrate it.  And when these days are expired, it shall be, that upon the eighth day, and onwards, the priests shall make your burnt offerings upon the altar, and your peace offerings.  (Yechezkel 43:18-27)

 

            Later, in chapter 45, we read of additional sacrifices that must be offered on various dates:

 

In the first month, on the first day of the month, you shall take a young bullock without blemish, and purify the sanctuary… And so you shall do on the seventh day of the month for everyone that sins in error or in ignorance; so shall you make atonement for the house.

In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month, you shall have the Passover, a feast of seven days; unleavened bread shall be eaten.  And upon that day, shall the prince prepare for himself and for all the people of the land a bullock for a sin offering.  And seven days of the feast he shall prepare a burnt offering to the Lord, seven bullocks and seven rams without blemish daily for the seven days; and a kid of the goats daily for a sin offering.  And he shall prepare a meal offering of an efa for a bullock, and an efa for a ram, and a hin of oil for an efa.

In the seventh month, on the fifteenth day of the month, in the feast, shall he do the like the seven days; both as to the sin offering, as to the burnt offering, and as to the meal offering, and as to the oil.  (ibid. 45:18-25)

 

            These sacrifices (as also other laws mentioned in this section and in the next section) raised great questions in the gemara (Menachot 45a), for they contradict what is explicitly stated in the Torah.  For example, here Scripture commands to bring on Rosh Chodesh Nisan ("in the first month, on the first day of the month") a bullock as a sin offering, whereas the Torah states (Bamidbar 28:11) that the oxen brought on Rosh Chodesh are burnt offerings; the sacrifices brought on Pesach and Sukkot according to this passage are different from those familiar to us from the Torah section dealing with the musaf offerings.  The two approaches in the gemara (and from there among the commentators) to the issue were summarized by Y. Moshkowitz in his introduction to the section in the Da'at Mikra commentary (pp. 374-375):

 

The most serious difficulties with the book of Yechezkel are found in this and the next section… Two approaches to resolving these difficulties have been preserved in tractate Menachot (45a).  The one: R. Yochanan said: This section will in the future be expounded by Eliyahu.  The second is that of R. Ashi, who says: Milu'im were offered in the days of Ezra, as in the days of Moshe.  What this means, however, is subject to disagreement.  Rashi (ad loc.) maintains: "This prophecy of Yechezkel refers to the Second Temple, when they offered milu'im sacrifices." In contrast, Abravanel (and the Malbim in his wake) maintains that in the second Temple, Yeshua ben Yehotzadak and Zerubavel ben She'alti'el offered the sacrifices and milu'im as they are written in the Torah, whereas the prophecy of Yechezkel refers to the future.

 

            For our purposes, what is important is the second approach, which sees this prophecy as a command regarding the milu'im offerings that will be brought in the future.  In the next lecture, I shall deal with the sacrifices mentioned in that prophecy.  In the framework of the present lecture, I wish to draw attention to the dates mentioned in this prophecy: The 1st of Nisan, the 7th of Nisan, the 14th of Nisan and the 15th of Tishrei.[21] The dedication of the future Temple will continue from the beginning of Nisan until Sukkot.

 

            The dedication of Yechezkel's Temple reflects, then, the two main dimensions expressed by the dedications that preceded it.  It begins in Nisan – the time of the dedication of the Mishkan, which is unique to Israel; it ends in Tishrei, thus giving expression to the connection between the entire world and the Mikdash.  In this way, the two levels – the resting of the Shekhina in Israel and in the entire world – unite into one entity.

 

SUMMARY

 

            The dates of the dedication of the Mishkan, the First Temple, the Second Temple, and the Temple of Yechezkel reflect clearly defined meanings in a consistent manner:

 

·                      The dedication of the Mishkan in Nisan and that which follows from it – that the first sacrifice related to a festival that was offered there was the paschal offering – reflects the Mishkan's status as the site of the resting of the Shekhina exclusive to Israel, thereby continuing the revelation at Mount Sinai.

 

·                      The dedication of the First Temple in Tishrei, before Sukkot, testifies to the attempt on the part of King Shlomo (based on the world-wide status that he had acquired) to build a second story: a permanent Temple open to the entire world, and not only to the people of Israel.

 

·                      Even though the construction of the Second Temple began with the building of the altar in Tishrei, which seems to follow the path taken by Shlomo, the construction was completed and the Temple was dedicated in the shadow of the Mishkan: in the month of Adar and on the festival of Pesach, as a Temple belonging exclusively to the people of Israel.[22]

 

·                      The future Temple, as it is described by Yechezkel, joins the two objectives: Nisan and Tishrei, Pesach and Sukkot, Israel and the entire world.

 

(Translated by David Strauss)



[1] An offshoot of this position is the view of the Seforno (Shemot 24:18) that the command was given during the third forty day period that Moshe was on the mountain, that is to say, between the 1st of Elul and the 10th of Tishrei according to the calculations of Chazal. 

[2] This issue was treated at length by R. Yaakov Genack in the two parts of his article, "Machshevet Ha-Halakha Be-Mitzvot Chag Ha-Sukkot," Alon Shevut, no. 142, pp. 16-66, and no. 145, pp.24-65.

[3] Without a doubt, there is great importance in this context to R. Yehoshua's understanding that "the world was created in Nisan," in that the Mikdash served to complete the creation and repair the world (an issue that was discussed many times in this year's lectures; here we point the reader to lecture no. 10 in particular).  His general position, however, clearly emphasizes the Jewish nature of this month.

[4] A significant portion of this lecture already appeared in my Lectures on Biblical Jerusalem, 5766, lecture no. 10.

[5] For a survey of additional explanations, see ed. Schottenstein, ad loc., note 29.

[6] Here, too, we return to an idea that we saw above: The festival of the ingathering is celebrated in Tishrei (Shemot 34:22), even though the ingathering is only finished in Marcheshvan.

[7] The Radak explains: "'In the month Bul' – this is Marcheshvan… and it is called by that name because of the rains that begin in that month, in the sense of mabul, 'flood.' And in the words of Chazal: 'In the month of Bul' – when the leaves wither (navel), and the earth is turned into bulot (clods of crumbled earth), and it is the month when people mix (bolelin) [fodder] for their animals in the house, that is, that animal food is no longer available in the field."

[8] The universal significance of Sukkot is apparently connected to the fact that it is the festival of the ingathering, the end of one agricultural year and the beginning of the next.

[9] While the Vilna Ga'on (in the passage cited above) assigns the beginning of the construction of the Mishkan to Sukkot, he emphasizes the motif of that festival that is unique to Israel: the clouds of Glory that hovered over and protected them.

[10] The beginning of the passage implies that the dedication of the Temple began on Sukkot: "And all the men of Israel assembled themselves to king Shlomo at the feast in the month of Eitanim" (I Melakhim 8:2).  But the Radak explains (ad loc.): "They assembled before the feast of Sukkot, but it says that they assembled on Sukkot to celebrate the dedication of the Mikdash and the festival seven days before the festival of Sukkot."

[11] The serious difficulty with the first possibility is clear: If the solemn assembly took place on the 14th of Tishrei and it was followed by the seven days of Sukkot, what happened to Shemini Atzeret? The advantage of this understanding is the correspondence to the dedication of the Mishkan: seven days of dedicating the altar, followed by the eighth day.  According to the accepted understanding, it seems that the entire festival of Sukkot substituted for the eighth day in the Mishkan.

[12] This passage follows the answer that the Radak cites in the name of Chazal to the question of when the people were sent home.  "It is already written: 'On the eighth day he sent the people away; and they blessed the king.' What is taught by: 'And on the twenty third of the seventh month he sent the people away, and they blessed the king?' Rather, they received permission from him, but they waited there for a few days, and then they received permission from him a second time.  Therefore, it says: 'And on the twenty third of this month he sent the people away.'"

[13] See Abravanel, I Melakhim 8:65: "If it is true, as Chazal say, that they ate on that day, it was a temporary ruling and based on the words of a prophet, for there were prophets there."

[14] "They said: It is a kal va-chomer; if the Mishkan, whose sanctity is not everlasting, and an individual sacrifice  set aside Shabbat, whose violation is punishable by stoning, then the Mikdash, whose sanctity is everlasting, and a communal sacrifice, and Yom Kippur whose violation is punishable by karet – all the more so! Why then did they worry? There it was for the sake of heaven; here for the sake of man.  Here, too, let them do it, but not eat or drink? There is no joy without eating and drinking."

[15] "Yom Ha-Kippurim Be-Et Chanukat Ha-Bayit Bi-Yemei Shlomo," Sedei Chemed (Shevat, 5736), pp. 299-303.

[16] A wider perspective on the issues discussed here can be found in our historical-spiritual survey of the period of the return to Zion, lecture no. 25 of our Lectures on Biblical Jerusalem, 5766. 

[17] According to these commentators, the day mentioned in the prophecy is the day before the laying of the foundations of the Temple; see Da'at Mikra, ad loc. And see R. Yoel Bin-Nun, "Yom Yisud Heikhal Ha-Shem," Megadim 12, pp. 95-97.

[18] The significance of this fact must be considered.  It is possible that Scripture wishes to allude thereby that this dedication is of lesser importance, whether because the Shekhina did not rest in the Second Temple (see our lectures on Biblical Jerusalem, 5766, lectures nos.  25-28), or because most of the people remained in exile; even those who returned did so by permission and under the yoke of a foreign power, and did not establish an independent kingdom.  R. Zisberg (in his article, "Chanukat Bayit Sheni," Shema'atin 147-148, 5762, pp.  59-71) proposed that Scripture alludes thereby that the dedication of those who returned to Zion will only be completed at a later stage – with the rededication of the Hasmoneans.

[19] Here, the Malbim is consistent with his own interpretation of the prophecy of Yechezkel's Temple; see below, note 22.

[20] We expanded upon this change in the lecture mentioned in note 16. 

[21] To complete the discussion of the time of this dedication, it should be noted that the commentators disagree about the relationship between the sacrifices mentioned in chap. 43, which are explicitly described as milu'im offerings (sacrifices for cleansing, sanctifying and consecrating the altar), and those mentioned in chap. 45.  The Radak identifies the sacrifices brought on the first seven days of Nisan, described in chap. 45, with the milu'im offerings described in chap. 43.  The Malbim, on the other hand, understands that we are dealing with a succession of offerings: During the seven days starting with the 23rd of Adar, the milu'im offerings are brought, and on Rosh Chodesh Nisan, the eighth day, the process of dedicating the Temple begins – similar to the dominant opinion in Chazal regarding the dedication of the Mishkan (see lecture no. 25).  In general, the Malbim's understanding of the time table of the dedication of Yechezkel's Temple is original and fascinating.  See, for example, his comment to Yechezkel 45:18. 

[22] The 25th of Kislev also fits in to this framework – the day on which the work of the Mishkan was completed, the day on which the work on the Mikdash resumed during the period of the return to Zion, and the day of the rededication of the Temple during the period of the Hasmoneans.