Follow-up to this question.

Why was Herod even allowed (/why was it suggested to him) to renovate the Temple, considering that he had so much blood on his hands? It was for this reason that David wasn't allowed to build the Temple (1 Chronicles 2:8)!

  • I think there is a difference between being the primary builder and the renovator. I also assumed the Temple actually required repairs, and Herod was the only person able to make that happen.
    – N.T.
    Commented Oct 31, 2021 at 8:15

2 Answers 2


Daf Al ha-Daf vol. 16 on Bava Bathra, p. 48 quotes R. Yerahmiel Zelcer as asking the same question:

וכותב הג"ר ירחמיאל זעלצער שליט"א ויש להקשות איך נתן לו בבא בן בוטא עצה כזו לבנות בית המקדש והא כתיב בדה"י א' כ"ב שאמר הנביא לדוד המע"ה דם לרוב שפכת ומלחמות גדולות עשית לא תבנה בית לשמי וא"כ כ"ש הורדוס שקטל לכולהו רבנן בודאי אין ראוי לו לבנות הבית

וכשדברתי בענין זה עם מרן אדמו"ר הפני מנחם זצ"ל אמר לי בשם מרן האמרי אמת שלדוד לא הי' צורך בבנין הבית כיון דעיקר הבית הוא להקריב קרבנות והנה אי' במדרש ריש פ' פנחס כל השופך דמן של רשעים כאילו הקריב קרבן ואי' בגמ' מכות דף י' שאמר לו הקב"ה לדוד כי טוב יום בחצריך מאלף טוב לי יום אחד שאתה עוסק בתורה לפני מאלף עולת שעתיד שלמה בנך להקריב לפני ע"ג המזבח הרי שלא נצרך דוד לקרבנות וכזה אי' בילקוט שמואל ב' ו' לא תבנה בית לשמי דמים לרוב שפכת א"ל הקב"ה דוד אל תירא חייך הם לפני כקרבנות דכתיב כי דמים רבים שפכת לפני ואין לפני אלא קרבן שנא' ושחט את בן הבקר לפני ה' ע"ש ואמרתי לו תיכף שבזה מיושב מה שהקשיתי מהורדוס כיון שדוד הרג רשעים שפיר נחשב כקרבן ולא הי' לו צורך בבנין הבית אבל הורדוס שהרג צדיקים נצרך להרבה קרבנות לכפר בעדו וממילא הוצרך לבנות הבית כדי להקריב קרבנות ואמר לי שתירוץ טוב מאד

The Gaon, R. Yerhamiel Zelcer shlit”a wrote it is difficult to understand how Bava b. Buta gave advice such as this that the Temple be built [by Herod] for it is written (I Chronicles 22:8) that the prophet said to David the King, servant of God, that “you have shed much blood and fought great battles; you shall not build a House for My name, for you have shed much blood on the earth in My sight.” And if this such, all the more so it ought apply to Herod that murdered all the rabbis and certainly it wouldn’t be fit for him to build the Temple.

And when I discussed this matter with Our Master the Admo”r the Penei Menahem [R. Pinhas Menahem Alter, the 7th Gerer Rebbe] he told me in the name of the Imrei Emeth [R. Avraham Mordekhai Alter, the fourth Gerrer Rebbe] David did was not in need of building the Temple, since the fundamental purpose of the Temple is to bring sacrifices, and we see in the Midrash on Parshath Pinhas that “whoever spills the blood of the wicked is as if he brought a sacrifice” and also in the Gemara (Makkoth 10) “David, addressing himself to the Holy One, blessed be He, said: Lord of the Universe! I heard men saying, ‘When will this old man die and let his son Solomon come and build us the Chosen Shrine and we shall go up there [as pilgrims]?’ and I rejoiced at that. Said the Holy One, blessed be He, to him, a day in thy courts is better than a thousand! Better to Me one day spent by you in study of Torah than a thousand sacrifices that your son Solomon will [some day] offer before Me, on the altar!” And so David was not in need of sacrifices as such. And it said in the Yalqut Shemuel 2:6 “You shall not build a Temple for My name, for you have shed much blood – the Holy One Blessed Be He said to David, do not fear for your life is as before me like a sacrifice as it is written “you have spilt much blood before me” and there is naught before me but sacrifice, as is written “and you shall slaughter bullock before God”, see there. And I said to him [the Penei Menahem] immediately that this resolves the difficult question I raised from the episode of Herod since David killed the wicked it was well considered as a sacrifice and he was not in need of building the Temple, however Herod who had killed the righteous was in need of many sacrifices to atone for his crimes, and quite evidently required that the Temple be built in order so that he may bring sacrifices. And I said, this is indeed a very good answer.


The Gemara Bava Basra 4A seems to indirectly answer that question

וּבָבָא בַּר בּוּטָא הֵיכִי עֲבַד הָכִי וְהָאָמַר רַב יְהוּדָה אָמַר רַב וְאִיתֵּימָא רַבִּי יְהוֹשֻׁעַ בֶּן לֵוִי מִפְּנֵי מָה נֶעֱנַשׁ דָּנִיֵּאל מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהִשִּׂיא עֵצָה לִנְבוּכַדְנֶצַּר

And how did Bava ben Buta do this (give advice to Herod the wicked?) Rav Yehuda say that Rav says, and some say it was Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi who says: For what reason was Daniel punished? Because he offered advice to Nebuchadnezzar (to give Tzedoka and save himself)etc

The Gemara answers

אִיבָּעֵית אֵימָא שָׁאנֵי עַבְדָּא דְּאִיחַיַּיב בְּמִצְוֹת וְאִיבָּעֵית אֵימָא שָׁאנֵי בֵּית הַמִּקְדָּשׁ דְּאִי לָא מַלְכוּת לָא מִתְבְּנֵי

If you want, say that a slave (like Herod) is different since he is obligated in the mitzvos, (so therefore Bava ben Buta helped him repent). And if you want, say the Beis Hamkdush is different, as without the help of the government it would not have been built.

The answer of the Gemara as why Bava Ben Buta was allowed to give Herod such advice would also answer why they allowed him to do it

  • So...it was only suggested to him because the Temple was in desperate need of funded renovations?
    – Harel13
    Commented Oct 31, 2021 at 16:46
  • Not necessarily. had there been any other important thing that only Herod could have done Bava Ben Buta may have suggested that as well. But he would not have suggested something ONLY for the sake of Herod not getting punished.
    – Schmerel
    Commented Oct 31, 2021 at 17:16

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