16.5.6. Bar Kochba’s Temple

It has been suggested from various evidences that the Temple was rebuilt during the Bar Kokhba1 revolt (A.D. 132) and later destroyed by Hadrian (A.D. 135). Price mentions the following evidence in support of this possibility:2
  1. A passage in the Sibylline Oracles (5:414-417, 420-422) may suggest this possibility.
  2. A Midrash (Exodus Rabbah 51:5) indicates that Hadrian entered the Holy of Holies which would not have been possible without a rebuilt temple.
  3. The seventh-century Byzantine historian known as Chronicum Paschale records that “Hadrian tore down the Temple of the Jews in Jerusalem” in his History of the Jews.
  4. A fourth-century Roman emperor Julian in his Fragment of a Letter to a Priest, in A.D. 362 records: “What have they [the Jews] to say about their own temple, which was overthrown three times and even now is not being raised up again?” [emphasis added]
  5. Coins minted by Bar Kokhba bear an image of the Holy Temple—an unusual practice for Jews if the Temple had not existed.
  6. Evidence of the resumption of the sacrificial system (Sanhedrin 11b) following the Second Temple’s destruction.
  7. Archaeological measurements of the elevated platform upon which the Dome of the Rock are said to indicate dimensions commensurate with the Messianic Temple of Ezekiel rather than the dimensions of the second Temple. Since Bar Kokhba was proclaimed as Messiah and Messiah was expected to build Ezekiel’s Temple, then perhaps the platform is the remains of the Temple of Bar Kokhba.
Although Rabbi Akiva had proclaimed Bar Kokhba as king messiah, this messianic hopeful was eventually killed and the revolt bearing his name was put down and the Temple Mount left without a Jewish Temple.

Notes

1 “His original name was probably Bar Koseva, and it is doubtful whether it was derived from a settlement in the Judean mountains or whether it indicates his father’s name or a general family name. The appellation Bar Kokhba was apparently given to him during the revolt on the basis of the homiletical interpretation, in a reference to messianic expectations, of the verse (Num. Num. 24:17): ‘There shall step forth a star [כּוֹכָב [kôḵāḇ] , kokhav] out of Jacob.’ Bar Kokhba was general midrashic designation for the ‘king messiah’ (see Messiah), and customarily used before the destruction of Jerusalem.”—Geoffrey Wigoder, ed., Encyclopedia Judaica CDROM Edition Version 1.0 (Keter Publishing House, Ltd., 1997), s.v. “BAR KOKHBA.”

2 Randall Price, The Coming Last Days Temple (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 1999), 90-96.