The Temple in Jerusalem was the central place of corporate worship for all Jews and the focus of Jewish religion and culture. According to religious law, priests would ritually sacrifice animals here, and Jews from all over the world would visit it during national holidays. The Temple was intricately decorated with gold-plated walls, wood carvings, and tapestries. Facing east, the Temple complex was divided into various sections:

The original Jewish Temple was built by David’s son Solomon, with construction starting around 966 BC and ending 7 years later. It represented the pinnacle of Israel’s power and wealth under Solomon, attracting visitors from around the world. Israel’s glorious Temple was plundered and destroyed during the Babylonian invasion of Jerusalem in 587 BC, with no trace of the original structure remaining to this day. However, under the Persian King Cyrus, Jewish exiles were allowed to return to Jerusalem and begin rebuilding the Temple in 538 BC, completing it 20 years later. This second Temple would remain until King Herod lavishly renovated it in 19 BC in an effort to please the Jews. It was Herod’s Temple that Jesus visited during his time in Jerusalem. However, this too was destroyed when Jerusalem was overthrown by the Romans in 70 AD.

In addition to serving as a place of worship, the Temple in ancient Jerusalem also served as a religious market, located in the Court of Gentiles, where pilgrims from all over the world could purchase animals for sacrifice.