The Temple Institute: The Temple Stone and the Splitting of the Sea



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The Temple Stone and the Splitting of the Sea

January 19, 2003
2003 The Temple Institute, Rabbi Chaim Richman - All Rights Reserved

The Hebrew month of Shvat is all about rebirth, the restoration of faith, and the promise of messianic redemption. On this past Shabbat, that theme reached its climax. Yesterday was Tu BShvat, the fifteenth day of the Hebrew month of Shvat. Tu BShvat is "the New Year of Trees," and is a day of joy... especially in the Land of Israel, and doubly so when it falls out on the Sabbath. The sages of Israel teach that on this day, though it is still the midst of winter, a special wave of Divine energy flows through all creation, a forerunner of the rebirth of spring. Deep within the natural world, the vital force of life begins to rise up, within each tree, within each blade of grass, preparing for renewal.

There is another reason for a special measure of joy on this Shabbat. This was Shabbat Shirah, the "Sabbath of Song." It is known by this name because the portion of the Torah we read on this day is the section in the book of Exodus that includes the Song of the Sea (Ex. 15), sung by Moses and Israel when G-d parted the Red Sea for them. This miraculous event, during which the Children of Israel shed the last traumatic vestiges of their Egyptian bondage, was the finale of the Exodus from Egypt, and gave tangible validation to their faith in G-d: "On that day, G-d saved Israel from Egypt, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. Israel saw the great hand that G-d inflicted upon Egypt, and the people feared G-d, and they had faith in G-d and in Moses, His servant" (Ex. 14:30-31).

Pharaoh and the Egyptians were totally focused on the annihilation of the Jews, and with the aid of their diplomatic "road map," they entered the sea with great unity and single-mindedness: "The enemy declared: I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide plunder; I will satisfy my lust with them; I will unsheathe my sword, my hand will impoverish them" (15:9).

Yet despite these wicked intentions, the next verse relates that the exact opposite occurred: "You blew with Your wind - the sea enshrouded them; the mighty ones sank like lead in the waters." As the verses before the Song record, "The waters came back and covered the cavalry and chariots... not a single one remained" (14:28).

This amazing turnabout of events was witnessed by the entire world, and was the key factor in influencing Jethro, Moses' father-in-law, to renounce his career as an idolatrous priest, and to become a follower of the G-d of Israel. Jethro had been an occult spiritual practitioner and was an expert in every known form of idolatry, but when he heard of the miracle of the sea, he threw them all over and declared: "Blessed be the L-rd, who has delivered you out of the hand of Egypt...Now I know that the L-rd is greater than all gods... for the very thing which they planned against you, came back upon them." (18:10-11). As our sages explain, the Egyptians had sought to destroy the Jews by drowning all the males (1:22), but ultimately it was the Egyptians who were drowned.

In the song, we find the verses that state: "You shall bring them in, and plant them in the mountain of Your inheritance, in the place, O L-rd, which You have made for You to dwell in - in the Sanctuary, O L-rd, which Your hands have established" (Ex. 15:17-18).

These verses convey the idea that the entire purpose of the Exodus from Egypt was only to bring Israel "to the Mountain of G-d's inheritance" - Mount Moriah, location of the Holy Temple - in order for them to build that very Sanctuary, the place He has made to dwell in, which His hands have established from the beginning of time. Within the framework of this month's theme of rebirth and renewal, the rebuilding of the Holy Temple is specifically a major factor.

Thus, with perfect timing, what may well be one of the most important archaeological developments concerning the Holy Temple of all time has come to light this past week, the very week we read these words in the "Song of the Sea." Unlike the Egyptians who "sank to the bottom like stone" (15:5), this time a stone has come to the surface. Israeli archaeologists have examined a black sandstone tablet which had been removed from the Temple Mount during the criminal excavations carried out by the Moslem Wakf. Although this important artifact may have actually been removed and stolen several years ago, it has only become known this week, and the story has been reported by news agencies all over the world.

The tablet has a lengthy description in ancient Phoenician which is written in the first person and signed by King Joash of Israel, who ruled Judea from 835-793 BCE. The words of the inscription refer to work and renovations carried out in the Holy Temple, and the descriptions are a perfect match to those given in the Book of Kings II, 12:1-6 and 11-17.

While some archaeologists remain skeptical and await the results of further tests, experts at the prestigious Israel Geological Institute are inclined to believe that the artifact is authentic. The entire affair is surrounded by ambiguity and mystery. The stone's origins as well as when it was removed and who purchased it are being kept secret. According to Israeli law, all archaeological finds belong to the State of Israel, and no private collector has the right to purchase or hold such items. If this stone is indeed declared to be genuine, it could be worth millions of dollars for whoever "owns" it.

This convoluted situation is complicated even more by the fact that this stone was evidently removed from the Temple Mount, by Moslems - who stood to make a huge profit by selling it illegally on the lucrative antiquities black market. Of course, the Islamic Wakf who presently preside over the Temple Mount, denies that the Holy Temple ever stood there, and maintain that Jews have no historical connection and no rights to the holy site. But when it comes to making money on the Jewish past, principles can apparently be laid aside. Someone must have reasoned that although it is politically incorrect in the extreme for us Moslems to admit that there ever was a Temple, why not make some good money off of it? It's one thing to destroy the evidence and deny that there ever was a Temple...but business is business. Like the Egyptians of old, "The enemy declared: I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide plunder; I will satisfy my lust with them...

But "You blew with Your wind - the sea enshrouded them; the mighty ones sank like lead in the waters... ." The Temple Mount has been closed to Jews for two years, and all the while, the Moslem Wakf has been plotting against the Holy Temple and feverishly destroying every possible remnant. But the Temple Mount has been crying out, and its voice is being heard. "The very thing which they planned against you, came back upon them." In their lust to divide the plunder, the Moslem Wakf has given the world archaeological validity to the historical reality of Solomon's Temple on the Temple Mount. Small wonder that this matter came to light during this week's Torah portion...

And during these difficult days which began in the name of the Temple Mount - the Intifada of Al Aksa -- as Israel prepares for the Iraqi war, and Jews are still being butchered by Palestinian murderers with guns provided by the Oslo agreements, the words of King Joash ring truer than ever for us today. In the inscription, King Joash tells priests to take "holy money...and buy quarry stones and timber and copper, and labor to carry out the duty with faith." The last phrase of the tablet tells us that if the work is completed well, "the L-rd will protect His people with blessing."

Amen! May we see it, speedily and in our days!

With blessings from Jerusalem,
Rabbi Chaim Richman

PO Box 31876 Jerusalem, Israel 97500
(This newsletter is dedicated to Hilka bat R. Yitzchak of blessed memory)



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