Lecture 66: The History of the Resting of the Shekhina ֠Introduction To Jerusalem in the Days of David (Part I) The Selection of Jerusalem and the Mikdash (Part II)

  • Rav Yitzchak Levy

Mikdash

 

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Dedicated in memory of Jack Stone, and Helen and Benjamin Pearlman, z"l,
and in honor of Mrs. Esther Stone.

By Gary and Ilene Stone of Teaneck, NJ

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Dedicated by Aaron and Tzipora Ross and family in memory of their grandparents
Shimon ben Moshe Rosenthal, Shmuel Nachamu ben Shlomo Moshe HaKohen Fredman, and Chaya bat Yitzchak David Fredman,
whose yahrtzeits are this week.

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Lecture 66: The History of the resting of the Shekhina –

INTRODUCTION TO Jerusalem in the days of David (PART I)

The Selection of Jerusalem and the Mikdash (PART II)

Rav Yitzchak Levi

 

 

I. THE TRANSITION FROM ROYAL CITY TO MIKDASH

 

1. Transferring the Ark to Jerusalem

 

            David's first governmental act after establishing himself as king in Jerusalem and after his victory over the Pelishtim was transferring the ark from Kiryat-Ye'arim to Jerusalem. This act was marked by two important novelties.

 

            The first novelty was David's display of interest in the ark to begin with. After the ark was returned from Sedeh Pelishtim and then moved from Bet-Shemesh to Kiryat-Ye'arim, the ark remained there for twenty years (Shmuel I 7:2),[1] during which time no one sought it out. The ark lay forsaken in Kiryat-Ye'arim, arousing no interest, as David explicitly states: "And let us bring back the ark of our God to us, for we did not inquire of it in the days of Shaul" (Divrei Ha-yamim I 13:3). It is possible that Shmuel and Shaul abstained from inquiring of the ark because the plague in Bet-Shemesh demonstrated that the ark can kill, and they thought that the people of Israel had not yet corrected their attitude toward the ark. As may be recalled, even David, who daringly moved the ark to Jerusalem, was exposed to its destructive potential in Peretz-Uzza (Shmuel II 6:8).

 

            The second novelty relates to the place to which David brought the ark. The normal and natural place of the ark is the Mishkan. The ark was captured by the Pelishtim after the people of Israel had removed it from the Mishkan in Shilo to the battleground at Even-ha-Ezer. It was to the Mishkan – which in the days of David (following the destruction of Shilo and later of Nov) stood in Giv'on – that it should have been returned. In a most surprising manner, however, and on his exclusive initiative and without making any inquiry of God (the very same way that he established his capital in Jerusalem), David brought the ark to Jerusalem in a great procession.[2]

 

This step had two meanings:

 

1) The desire to turn the royal city into a base for the site of the Mikdash. As we have emphasized, this was done "from below," on David's initiative and without inquiring of God, with the objective of building a foundation for the Mikdash.[3]

 

2) David was not prepared to sever, even for a moment, the connection between the site of government and kingship and the site of the resting of the Shekhina.

 

            It seems that the incident which demonstrates beyond any shadow of a doubt David's firm position regarding the place of the ark is Avshalom's rebellion. Avshalom begins his rebellion in Chevron, and while he is heading to Jerusalem, David decides to leave the city and avoid a clash with his son. As he is about to leave the city, a discussion arises regarding what to do with the ark:

 

All the country wept with a loud voice, and all the people passed over. The king also himself passed over the wadi Kidron, and all the people passed over, towards the way of the wilderness. And, lo, 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.” (Shmuel II 15:23-27)

 

            Over what point did Tzadok and David disagree? Tzadok thought as follows: The king had brought the ark to Jerusalem, and if he now chooses to leave the city on account of his son, the ark should follow after the king. David, on the other hand, thought that the king must follow the ark,[4] and that the ark's place is in Jerusalem. The royal city will eventually be the site of the Mikdash, and therefore whoever is in Jerusalem – the ark will be with him. Whoever is outside the city should be without it. As he says:

 

If I shall find favor in the eyes of the Lord, He will bring me back, and show me both it and His habitation.[5] 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 go with the grace of God. If I merit to return to Jerusalem and to see the ark and the Temple, I will be exceedingly happy; if God does not want me, let Him do to me as He sees fit, and I shall not return to Jerusalem. But the ark shall remain in the city, for that is its permanent place, and whoever rules after me shall rule in Jerusalem where the ark is found.

 

            David shows himself here in all his nobility. He knows that for the purpose of maintaining his rule, it would be better that the ark – the most important vessel of the Mikdash, which represents the resting of the Shekhina on the people of Israel – remain with him, and not with Avshalom the rebel. But he disregards such considerations and acts out of a sense of profound dependency upon God, leaving the ark in its place.

 

In any event, the transfer of the ark to Jerusalem immediately after David establishes himself in the city points to the future, when the royal city will be connected to the site of the resting of the Shekhina.[6]

 

2. The request to build the House of God

 

            After bringing the ark to Jerusalem, David wants 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 a curtain.” And Natan said to the king, “Go, do all that is in your heart; for the Lord is with you.” (Shmuel II 7:1-3)

 

            Note that this is the first time that David turns to a prophet with a question regarding this matter – something that he had not done earlier, neither with respect to going to Jerusalem, nor with respect to the transfer of the ark to that city.

 

            The wording of David's request is also interesting. David does not explicitly state that he wishes to build a house for God, but merely presents the facts that "I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells within curtain," based on the self-evident assumption that it is impossible that the king of flesh and blood should reside in a permanent house, a house of cedars, while the King, King of kings, should not have a permanent domicile.

 

Another point to which our attention should be directed is that the request focuses on "the ark of God" that "dwells within a curtain." That is to say, the house that David wishes to build is essentially a house for the ark. This is stated 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. (Divrei Ha-yamim I 28:2)

 

            That is to say, God's house is "a house of rest for the ark," a permanent house, in which the ark can rest from wars. Similarly, we find in the words of David to Shlomo:

 

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

           

            "Bayit la-mikdash" means "a house for the ark."[7]

 

            We see, then, that King David is deeply connected to the ark, to the site of the resting of God's Shekhina; from his perspective, this is the soul of the Temple.[8] This fact casts an even stronger and clearer light on David's greatness and nobility when he left the ark in Jerusalem as he fled from Avshalom and the special significance of this act.

 

            David's request to build a house for God in Jerusalem was answered in the negative, because (according to the book of Shmuel) a permanent kingdom had not yet been established. One might have expected that this negative response would have brought David to focus on different issues of governance and rule: security, economics, law, society, etc. It seems, however, that David continued to labor with all his might to advance all the necessary work for the building of the Mikdash ­– with the exception of the building itself, which was forbidden to him by the prophet.

 

3. David's work on behalf of the Mikdash

 

            I wish to focus here on four issues arising from the story of the census and the revelation at the threshing floor of Aravna (Shmuel II 24; Divrei Ha-yamim I 21-22:1).

 

a.            David's self-sacrifice: In the wake of the census and the terrible plague, David is ready to offer his own life: "Oh Lord, my God, be on me and on my father's house; but not on Your people, that they should be plagued" (Divrei Ha-yamim I 21:17). David asks that the plague should strike him; he is ready to offer his own life, based on a sense of responsibility for the seventy-thousand people who had already died and in order to bring an end to the plague. In the wake of this self-sacrifice, the prophet tells David to build an altar at the threshing floor of Aravna the Yevusi. The verse in Divrei Ha-yamim notes that the site of the Temple is revealed, fire descends from heaven, and it consumes the sacrifice.

 

It is interesting (and there is room to discuss whether there is any connection) that the trait of self-sacrifice also reveals itself in David's yearnings to find the site of the Mikdash, as is described in Tehillim 132:

 

A Ma'alot poem. 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, until I find out a place for the Lord, a habitation for the mighty One of Yaakov. (Tehillim 132:1-5)

 

            David's dedication to the cause continues after this chapter as well. Divrei Ha-yamim I 22-29 describes David's absolute dedication to the Mikdash in finding hewers and other craftsmen; preparing the building materials – wood, stone, and precious metals (in addition to the consecration of all the booty of his wars to this end); establishing the priestly and levitical mishmarot to serve in the Temple after it is built; urging Shlomo and all the officers to get to work; and planning the structure and the necessary materials. Dedication to the building of the Mikdash turns out to be one of David's fundamental traits.

 

b.            Revelation of the site of the Mikdash: In response to David's self-sacrifice and total effacement before God, God reveals the site of the Mikdash to him. Here, God chooses the site of the Mikdash and reveals it to man by way of the prophet Gad, who tells David "that he should go up and set up an altar to the Lord on the threshing floor of Ornan the Yevusi" (Divrei Ha-yamim I 21:18). As at the Akeida, here, too, self-sacrifice is the key to God's selection of the site. In the wake of this selection, God reveals the location to man, as happened at the Akeida, with the First Temple, and also with the Second Temple.[9]

 

c.            Purchase of the threshing floor from Aravna: The Sifrei deals with the contradiction between the book of Shmuel and the book of Divrei Ha-yamim regarding the sum that David paid for the place:

 

"So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver" (Shmuel II 24:24), and elsewhere it says, "So David gave to Ornan for the place six hundred shekels of gold by weight" (Divrei Ha-Yamim I 21:25). You cannot say "shekels of gold," for it already says "shekels of silver." And you cannot say "shekels of silver," for it already says "shekels of gold." Say then that he weighed with gold but bought 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 that when David saw a site fit for the building of the Mikdash, he collected fifty shekel from each and every tribe, to the sum of six hundred shekel from all the tribes. (Sifrei Devarim, no. 552)

 

            Homiletically, it may be suggested that the purchase of the place was carried out with the money of all of Israel, and all the tribes were financial partners in the purchase and ownership of Mount Moriya. This means that arriving at the place and buying it depended not only on self-sacrifice, but also on the unity of all of Israel.[10]

 

            The transition from royal city to site of the Mikdash was conditioned on self-sacrifice and on unity, and as may be recalled, it constitutes the second stage in the selection of Jerusalem and the Mikdash - the Divine selection of the site of the Mikdash.

 

d.            First revelation of the site of the Mikdash: As we explained in the previous lecture, based on our understanding of the plain sense of Scripture, it is on this occasion, based on the verses in Divrei Ha-yamim, that the location of the house of God is revealed for the first time to David. Until now, he had desperately sought the site, but did not find it.

 

It should be noted that this position is not accepted by all; there are those who argue that David knew in general that the Mikdash would be located in the Jerusalem area, but he did not know the precise spot. Interestingly, this is the view of the Radak, who, as we saw in the previous lecture, fundamentally agrees that the site of the Mikdash was not known prior to the revelation at the threshing floor of Aravna:

… David also did not know the location of the Mikdash until the prophet Gad told him to build an altar at the threshing floor of Aravna, but nevertheless he did know by tradition the general area of the site, that the house of God would be built at Mount Moriya, although he did not know where until the prophet Gad told him" (Radak, Shmuel II 15:30).

 

II. THE DIVINE SELECTION OF JERUSALEM

 

            The completion of the selection of Jerusalem and the full realization of the verses that speak of "the place which the Lord shall choose" and of the prophecy at the Akeida that "God will appear" occurred during the days of Shlomo. Shlomo is the first to arrive at the full reality of a Mikdash that is standing and that is connected to the city by way of the royal palace that stands between them.

 

            When the ark of the covenant is brought into the Mikdash, Shlomo says in the name of God:

 

Since the day that I brought forth My people Israel 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. (Melakhim I 8:16)

 

            The parallel verses in Divrei Ha-yamim state:

 

Since the day that I brought My people out of he 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. (Divrei Ha-yamim II 6:5-6)[11]

 

            It is important to be precise when comparing these two 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… but I have chosen David." In Melakhim, on the other hand, it only says: "I chose no city… but I chose David," that is to say, there is something intentionally missing in both parts of the equation. In the first part, it does not say: "I chose no man," and in the second part there is no mention of the selection of Jerusalem. This formulation accords with the consistent approach of the book of Shmuel that the selection of the city depends on the selection of the king: It is David who chooses Jerusalem. Since the city is the royal city of the kingdom of Israel, the selection is not a Divine selection that does not depend on the king. Rather, it is the king who rules over all of Israel who chooses the city "from below," on his own initiative.

 

            The selection of Jerusalem is described in similar fashion in the prophecy of Achiya ha-Shiloni to Yerav'am:

 

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. (Melakhim I 11:32)[12]

 

            In these two sources, the selection is for the first time formulated in past tense, as a Divine selection that already took place. This selection occurred during the days of Shlomo, in whose time the city and the Mikdash were fully revealed for the first time.

 

            To summarize, thus far we have seen in detail the three stages in the selection of the city and the Mikdash: a human selection of the city of Jerusalem by David based on 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 based on the connection of these two elements in the days of Shlomo by way of the royal palace.

 

III. COMPARING THE ALLUSIONS IN THE TORAH TO THE SELECTION OF JERUSALEM FOR ALL GENERATIONS

 

            I wish to argue that what we learned about the two sides of Jerusalem in the Torah parallels the process that reveals itself in the city from the time of David and on. This is also an instance of the principle that "the actions of the fathers are a sign for the sons."

 

            When we learned about Avram's encounter with Malkitzedek, we emphasized that Avram arrives in Jerusalem on his own initiative; the meeting takes place in one of the valleys in the vicinity of Jerusalem; its consists of the articulation of the kings' desire to appoint Avram as king over them; and Avram's selection of the justice of Malkitzedek and his rejection of the wickedness of Sedom. I wish to argue 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 arriving in the city actualizes his kingship over all of Israel.

 

            In the story of the Akeida, on the other hand, we emphasized that Avraham arrives in the place not on his own initiative; the encounter takes place on Mount Moriya; there is great self-sacrifice; and its primary element is the Divine revelation and Divine selection of the place. It seems that there is a strong parallel between the Akeida and the meeting with the angel at the threshing floor of Aravna the Yevusi. They transpire in the same place; in both cases an altar is built; and there is involvement of an angel who changes a plan and a change in the names through which God reveals Himself.[13] David also does not arrive on his own initiative, but rather in the wake of the census, the plague, and the appearance of the angel; David is also ready to sacrifice himself, to die in the plague; and here also the situation changes in the wake of David's self-sacrifice, and God reveals the site to him by way of the prophet Gad.

 

            This parallel teaches that besides the unique contents of each story in itself (as were discussed in the respective lectures), the Torah alludes through Avraham's actions to the history and essence of Jerusalem over the generations.

 

IV. COMPARING THE PROCESS TO OUR OWN PERIOD

 

            In conclusion, I wish to examine the process of the selection of Jerusalem through contemporary eyes and to argue that there is a parallel between David's arrival in Jerusalem and the Jewish People's arrival in Jerusalem in our generation.

 

            We have seen that the people of Israel arrived in Jerusalem more than four hundred years after having conquered Eretz Yisrael. All seem to agree that in similar fashion the Zionist movement arrived in the city only many years after the beginning of renewed settlement in the land (for various reasons).

 

            Moreover, the return to the original and ancient 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 Neria, ztz"l, made an amazing comment:

 

Among the thoughts and feelings of these great days, there is also the question/astonishment: Why didn't God give us Jerusalem already then in 1948, and by what virtue did we merit that it be returned to us now? In an amazing manner, not at all natural, it fell from our hands then, and once again in an amazing manner, beyond all logic, it was given to us, it was presented to us now?

The answer to this question is alluded to in the mysterious words of the ancient Sages. Regarding Jerusalem it says in the Talmud Yerushalmi: "'As a city that is joined (chubra) together' – a city that joins Israel one to the other" (Yerushalmi, Bava Kama 7:7). And in a different formulation, this was taught in the Babylonian Talmud: "'You may not sacrifice the Pesach within any of your gates' – I only said at a time that all of Israel go in at one gate" (Zevachim 114b).

Indeed, nineteen years ago when the Palmach breached the Zion Gate and the Etzel soldiers were about to breach the Nablus Gate, we were divided and splintered. Had we succeeded then, we would have been like "two who grabbed" Jerusalem, each of them claiming, "It is entirely mine." Jerusalem would have turned into a source of division, a reason for strife and quarreling. The stones of Jerusalem would have turned into stones of controversy. But "Jerusalem was not divided among 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 all entered through one gate… only now, when we are all united, when we are headed by a national unity government, when our fighting force is a unified army – the Israel Defense Force – when behind us stand, with one heart, all of our brothers in the Diaspora – only now have we merited this great event: He who returns His Shekhina to Zion returned Jerusalem to us!

…The original conquest of Jerusalem started with the unification of the tribes of Israel, and so too the recent conquest required the blessing of the unity of the nation.

As long as we continue to be united and consolidated, all of Jerusalem will remain ours…[14]

 

            R. Neria adapted the words of the Radak and applied them to our generation, shining light on the fact that the division between the various military organizations in 1948 prevented the unification of the city and even brought about its division,[15] whereas the great unity that manifested itself on the eve of the Six Day War[16] made it possible for the city to be reunited.

 

            I wish to extend R. Neria's line of thought and argue that leaving the threshing floor in the hands of Aravna king of the Yevusim following the conquest of Jerusalem in the days of David was paralleled by the first act of the Minister of Defense in 1967, Moshe Dayan, following the capture of the Temple Mount: he handed over the keys to the Mount of his own free will to the Aravna of our generation, the officials of the Muslim Waqf, in apparent disregard of the fact that the city had been captured.

 

            Today we stand at the foot of the hill. If the comparison that we have drawn here is correct, that which will allow us to ascend it in holiness and purity is self-sacrifice and unity, as was displayed in the days of David and which allowed the Divine revelation of the place. Let us hope that this will not involve, God forbid, any plague or sacrifice.[17]

 

Summary

 

            We noted the course taken by the people of Israel, beginning in Eretz Yisrael, continuing to the city of Jerusalem, and ending at the Mikdash, and we explained the spiritual significance of each of the stages and the overall significance of the order of events.[18]

 

            After having presenting the overall course of the selection of Jerusalem, we will deal in the next lecture with the Divine selection of the city, examining the relationship between the monarchy and the Mikdash.

 

(Translated by David Strauss)



[1] Seder Olam Rabba (chap. 13) enumerates these twenty years: eleven years under the leadership of Shmuel, two years of the kingdom of Shaul, and seven years of the kingdom of David in Chevron. In its words: "'And it came to pass, while the ark remained in Kiryat-Ye'arim that the time was long; for it was twenty years' (Shmuel I 7:2). Remove seven years during which David ruled over Yehuda in Chevron, and you are left with thirteen years; remove eleven years during which Shmuel ruled alone, and two years of Shmuel and Shaul."

[2] This step also had a halakhic ramification. While the ark was in the Mishkan, as in Shilo, bamot were forbidden; when it was outside the Mishkan, bamot were permitted. By bringing the ark to the city of David and leaving it outside the Mishkan, David extended the period during which bamot were permitted. It should not be argued that David did this intentionally in order to perpetuate the allowance of bamot. It is reasonable to assume that he thought that it was important enough to bring the ark to Jerusalem, even though this would directly lead to an extension of the allowance of bamot.

[3] I will reiterate that we maintain that at this stage David did not know the site of the Mikdash, but he was nevertheless very interested in having the Temple adjacent to his capital city.

[4] It is possible that David's policy of "let the king follow after the ark" constitutes a repair of his own sin when he brought the ark to Jerusalem, for then, in a certain sense, the ark went after the king. We will deal with this issue when we consider the transfer of the ark to Jerusalem.

[5] The meaning of the word "navehu" (translated here as "His habitation") is interesting in this context. Yonatan ben Uziel translates: "I shall serve before Him in the Mikdash." So, too, the Metzudat 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 revolt took place before the revelation at the threshing floor of Aravna the Yevusi, but nevertheless David hopes (and acts upon these hopes), according to these interpretations, that the Mikdash will be built in Jerusalem, even though he has no guarantee that this will be the case.

[6] It is important to emphasize that the transfer of the ark to Jerusalem, placing it in a tent pitched for it by David, and offering sacrifices in its proximity created a new system of Divine service, apart and independent from the sacrificial service at the great bama at Giv'on. In Divrei Ha-yamim I 9:19 and on we find a description of the "keepers of the threshold of the tabernacle" in Jerusalem as part of the system of mishmarot established by "David and Shmuel the seer in their office of trust" (v. 22). In Divrei Ha-yamim I 16:4, it says: "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 Yachazi'el the priests with trumpets continually before the ark of the covenant of the Lord."

There in verse 37, in the framework of a description of the division of the service before the Lord between the ark in the tent in the city of David and the bama in Giv'on, it says: "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 his appointment of Levites to sing the daily song at the daily offering service and doorkeepers to guard the ark, David effectively established in the city of David a new site of Divine service, parallel to Giv'on, with the objective of eventually turning it into the house of God.

[7] The word "mikdash" appears in the sense of "aron" in the verse, "And the Kehati set forward, bearing the mikdash" (Bamidbar 10:21). As the Ibn Ezra explains there, "Bearing the mikdash – this is the ark." Accordingly, the term "mikdash" referred originally to the ark, and the entire structure of the sanctuary was called by the name of its most important vessel. We find a similar phenomenon regarding the Mishkan. The fundamental meaning of the term "mishkan" is the inner tent-cloth of the Tent of Meeting, but the meaning of the term was extended to the entire structure. (This is based on what I heard from my revered teacher, R. Yoel Bin-Nun).

[8] Another proof may be brought from Chazal's account of how Shlomo was unable to bring the ark into the Holy of Holies until he mentioned the loving-kindness of his father David (Shabbat 30a). In contrast to David's deep connection to the ark, Shlomo was deeply connected to the altar, but we will not expand on this point at this time.

[9] Regarding the Second Temple, see Zevachim 62a: "Three prophets went up with them from the exile: One who testified before them about the altar and one who testified before them about the location of the altar…"

[10] This idea also arises from Midrash Kohelet Rabba (3:3): "Another explanation: 'He has made everything beautiful in its time' (Kohelet 3:11) – R. Berakhya said in the name of R. Avahu who said in the name of R. Elazar: The dispute between Rechav'am and Yerav'am, between David and Sheva ben Bikhri, was fit to have been, only that the Holy One, blessed be He, said: The Mikdash has not yet been built, and I should bring dispute into the kingdom of the house of David? Rather, let the Mikdash be built, and afterwards what will be will be."

[11] There is much room to expand on the relationship between the kingdom and the Mikdash in general and between David and Jerusalem in particular. The comparison between the book of Melakhim and the book of Divrei Ha-yamim regarding the role of the king in relationship to the Mikdash is also very interesting, but we will not expand on these issues in this forum.

[12] Noting the Divine selection of the city in a prophecy relating to the division of the kingdom is not by chance. In this way, the prophet emphasizes to Yerav'am that the division is merely governmental, but the two kingdoms will continue to serve God in the place where He chose to rest His name, and nowhere else. This emphasis is meant to rule out the erection of an alternative site of service – and this is precisely the matter regarding which Yerav'am transgressed.

[13] There is also contrasting parallelism between the two events, which we will not expand upon in detail here. We merely wish to note that the story of the Akeida stands in the background of the revelation at the threshing floor of Aravna.

[14] R. M. Tz. Neria, Mo'adei Ha-Ra'aya (Jerusalem, 5740), pp. 480-481 (emphases in the original).

[15] It would be interesting to examine the connection between the unity of the city and the unity of the people over the generations.

[16] One example is the embrace between Ben Gurion and Begin, who represented two political and ideological extremes (which led to the killing of Jews in the Altelena and handing them over to the British during the Saison), but nevertheless found a way to unite at that decisive hour.

[17] We did not mention here the midrash and the amazing words of the Ramban in Parashat Korach on this issue. These will be analyzed at length in the lecture on the census and the revelation at the threshing floor.

[18] It should be emphasized that during the Second Temple period this process was reversed: it began with the permission granted by Koresh to rebuild the Temple; during the days of Nechemya, it was extended to the city of Jerusalem; and in the end to the entire country. This was also the order during the days of the Chashmonaim. These issues require a separate lecture.