We continue with quoting from the book “The Aryeh Kaplan Anthology II” with what the author says about the significance of the boundaries and the search for the site of the Temple and the Altar based on Josh 15.8 and the boundaries given there. Kaplan continues, “The commandment to build the Temple became an obligation as soon as peace was attained by the king. Such peace was achieved in the time of David. David very much wanted to build the House of God, and the Scripture states, “When the king dwelt in his palace and God gave him rest from all his enemies round about, the king said to Nathan the prophet, ‘See now, I live in a house of cedar, but God’s Ark dwells in a curtain tent’ (2 Sam 7.2).”
“David was informed that he could not be the one to build the Temple since his hands were sullied by blood, as he later told his son Solomon, ‘God’s word came to me saying, “You have shed much blood and have made great wars, you shall not build a house to my name, because you have shed much blood in my sight”‘ (1 Chr 22.8). If even lifting iron against a stone renders it unfit for the Altar, how much more so was a king who had shed human blood unfit to build the Temple of God. Still, because David had been the one to occupy the chosen city, he was the one to earn the hereditary royal house of Israel for all time, as God told him through the prophet Nathan, ‘Your throne shall be established forever’ (2 Sam 7.16).”
“The final step was the revelation of the place of the Altar, and the Bible describes this most graphically. God became angry at David and tempted him to count the Israelites, bringing on them a terrible plague. David then prayed to God for forgiveness. He saw an angel standing on the threshing floor of Arnon the Jebusite. The prophet Gad then told David, ‘Go raise an altar to God on the threshing floor of Araunah (same as Arnon) the Jebusite’ (2 Sam 24.18), and David did so, bringing offerings to God as an atonement.”
“The place of the altar was thus revealed to David. This was the same place where Adam was created, and where he had offered the first sacrifice. There Cain and Abel, as well as Noah had brought offerings to God. On that very spot Abraham had bound his son Isaac when he was commanded by God. When this was revealed to David, he said, ‘This is the house of the Lord, God, and this is the Altar of sacrifice for Israel’ (1 Chron 22.1).”
“One thing that still must be clarified is the reason for the manner in which the place of the Altar was revealed. Why did it have to be revealed through a sin, and only after David’s subsequent repentance? Furthermore, the Scripture states that ‘God became angry at Israel’ (2 Sam 24.1), but does not give any reason for it. If one looks at the verse immediately before this, however, one will find a mention of Uriah the Hittite, one of David’s generals. The Midrash states that God became angry at David and Israel because David had caused the death of Uriah. This Uriah was the husband of Bathsheba and when David wished to take Bathsheba for a wife, he sent Uriah to the front where he was killed. The fact that David had sent a man to certain death in order to marry his wife was considered a great wrong, and David was severely rebuked by the prophet Nathan.”
“The main idea of the Altar was that of forgiveness and atonement. Therefore, the episode involving Bathsheba, which was meant to teach the ways of repentance, was ultimately also the means through which the location of the Altar was revealed. It was almost as if the power of repentance revealed by David would be built into the Altar. In a similar vein, it should be noted that it was the son born to David and Bathsheba, Solomon, who eventually built the Temple. But it is important to note exactly how God brought this about. As a result of David’s misdeed with Bathsheba and her husband Uriah, God enticed him to take a census of the Israelites. God caused David to forget the injunction, ‘When you take the sum of the children of Israel, according to their number, then each man shall give a ransom for his soul to God when you number them, that there be no plague among them when you number them’ (Exo 30.12). The atonement in the time of Moses consisted of a half-shekel given toward the building of the Tabernacle. The census was taken by counting the total number of half-shekels, and Moses used this silver to build the foundations of the Tabernacle. As a result, every Israelite had a part in the foundation of the Tabernacle. Furthermore, it is evident that the idea of properly counting the Israelites was very closely related to the building of the Tabernacle and the Temple.”
“Thus, when God was ready to reveal the place of the Altar, he did so by tempting David to commit a wrong very closely related to the sanctuary, namely, counting the Israelites without the atonements of the half-shekel. The sin itself thus was bound to the very foundation of the Temple. When David subsequently repented and was forgiven, his repentance also became a part of the Altar’s foundation. David had thus done everything necessary to find the Altar according to Torah law. First, he sought it for himself. Finally he had been worthy of having the place revealed to him by Gad the prophet. David then bought the place of the Altar from Arnon the Jebusite for fifty shekels. He also collected fifty shekels from each of the twelve tribes of Israel, buying the entire city of Jerusalem from Arnon for 600 shekels. The entire city of Jerusalem thus became the common property of all Israel.”
“Although David could not build the Temple himself, he prepared for its construction, assembling all the necessary materials. David dug the foundations of the Temple, particularly in the place of the Altar. He also gave Solomon a complete written plan of how the Temple should be built, as he had received the tradition from the prophet Samuel and from Ahitofel. David gave the pattern to Solomon, saying, ‘All is in writing, as God has given me wisdom by his hand on me, all the works of this plan’ (1 Chr 28.19).”
“Before David died, he made sure that his son Solomon was anointed as king. This was done at the spring of Gihon in Jerusalem. Solomon took his father’s place as king over all Israel, and one of his first acts was to complete the wall of the Holy City. But Solomon’s greatest accomplishment was the building of the Temple of God, in the exact spot that had been designated by God from the beginning of creation. The Bible thus says, ‘Then Solomon built the house of God in Jerusalem, on Mount Moriah, where there had been a vision to his father, which he prepared in the place of David on the threshing floor of Arnon the Jebusite’ (2 Chr 3.1). Mount Moriah, of course, was the place where Abraham had bound his son Isaac as a sacrifice, and this was the place revealed to David to be the Altar of God.'”
What Rabbi Kaplan did not go on to say in his book is that Yeshua the Messiah was also crucified on Mount Moriah and that is a very important aspect to all of this. Of course, we did not include all the footnotes that are included in the book, so we encourage you get the book and look up the footnotes for yourself in order to see where Rabbi Kaplan documented some of his beliefs and statements.
Josh 15.9-62 gives the cities, villages and regions occupied by the children of Judah, but Josh 15.63 tells us that Jerusalem remained in Canaanite hands for the time being. This refers back to the treaty Abraham had with Abimelech in Gen 21.22-34. But after his posterity had died, they took it (Judges 1.8). Prophetically, this alludes to the fact that there will be no peace in Jerusalem until Messiah comes. Spiritually, Jerusalem is like the heart and until the old nature (the Jebusites) are driven out there will be no peace in a believer.
In Part 9 we will pick up in Josh 16.