Graduation Year

Spring 2012

Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Religious Studies

Second Department

Politics and International Relations

Reader 1

Gary Gilbert

Reader 2

Oona Eisenstadt

Reader 3

Mona G. Mehta

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Rights Information

© 2012 Rebecca M. King


I will begin at the beginning, the original construction of the Temple by Solomon and will examine the political nature the Temple achieved even before the first stone was placed. From there the Temple goes through a phase of destruction, rebuilding and destruction again. Each of these phases has political undertones that are important to understand in light of the religious ones. Jewish identity comes into question and the Temple becomes a tool by which to gain legitimacy in the political realm. However, once the Temple is destroyed a second time Jews have to accommodate themselves to a reality in which they no longer have control of space where the Temple stood. Repeated conquests over Jerusalem keeps the Jews either in Jerusalem but under foreign control, or out of Jerusalem and living in the Diaspora. Jews are forced to deal with these changes and to form their responses. Their political authority diminishes and their religious life attempts to deal without the Temple. What comes of this is years of struggle and formations of religious and/or political movements in order to ultimately accomplish one of two things; either to return to Jerusalem and establish a Jewish state, or to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the Temple. A continuous thread that runs through much of Jewish history is how the Temple, as both a religious symbol and a political tool, has shaped Jews thought about themselves as a people with both religious and political values and aspirations. Having a greater understanding of Jewish history will contribute to the understanding of the current political situation that Jerusalem finds itself in today.

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