During the Siege of Jerusalem in 63BCE, the Roman general Pompey after defeating Jewish resistance and took control of the temple, entered the Kadosh hakodashim (holy of holies). This can be found in: Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews 14:70-71 and Josephus, The Wars of the Jews 1:152-153.

My question is why didn’t he die? Didn’t anyone (besides the kohen Gadol on Yom Kippur) die upon illegally entering the sacred inner chamber?

  • Not sure if it's an answer, but historians say he did die. Slowly: He had been on a upward trajectory, and from that time onward everything he did failed till he was killed by his enemies.
    – MichoelR
    Commented Nov 29, 2021 at 18:52
  • @MichoelR I would like to see those "historians" who say that.
    – Bach
    Commented Nov 30, 2021 at 0:36
  • G-d sometimes allows such desecration to happen to demonstrate His displeasure with our actions. An earlier example would be the Holy Ark being taken captive by the Pelishtim (I Shmuel 4) despite the Ark being the receptacle of G-d's presence on earth and the ultimate battle "weapon".
    – Derdeer
    Commented Dec 1, 2021 at 0:24
  • 1
    @Bach Dunno. Heard it long ago, stuck in my memory, here: duvablog.wordpress.com/2013/11/20/… I don't know if regular historians agree or not.
    – MichoelR
    Commented Dec 1, 2021 at 1:13
  • @MichoelR again all this guy is saying that it's possible that his downfall started as soon as he entered the ק"ק. This is all nice conjecture. But there's nothing remotely similar to what you're suggesting that this was the beginning of his death?? It must have been a very slow death, cuz he died 15 years later! You must have a very good imagination.
    – Bach
    Commented Dec 2, 2021 at 16:28

2 Answers 2


I’ve heard the reason being that The Ark was not in the Holy of Holies.

  • 2
    This makes a lot of sense. If you provide a source this would be a sufficient answer. Currently it is closer to a comment
    – Dov
    Commented Nov 28, 2021 at 22:27
  • 2
    @Dov not sure how it makes sense. The gemarra in Yoma says many Kohanim gedolim died during the second Temple period on yom Kippur, as they had bought the position. There was no ark then.
    – robev
    Commented Nov 29, 2021 at 6:48
  • Is that true or just myth though... Commented Nov 30, 2021 at 7:02
  • @robev on the other hand, there were other wicked KGs who didn't die from entering Kodesh Hakodashim, such as Yannai.
    – Harel13
    Commented Jan 27, 2022 at 7:06

The Shekhinah had already departed from the Temple due to our many sins, leaving it to be destroyed by our adversaries. As eluded to in the Talmud:

You killed a nation that was already dead, you burned a Sanctuary that was already burned, and you ground flour that was already ground.

  • The story under discussion in the question happened close to 100 years before the episode described in the gemara you quote in this answer
    – Joel K
    Commented Nov 29, 2021 at 6:09
  • @JoelK Before? I don’t think so. This is about the First Temple, but the reasoning stays the same.
    – ezra
    Commented Nov 29, 2021 at 6:27
  • 1
    You're correct. The gemara you quoted is indeed about the first temple. But my point still stands. Pompey entered the Second Temple 100 years before its eventual destruction. Why do assume that the Shekhinah was not present at that time?
    – Joel K
    Commented Nov 29, 2021 at 6:43
  • @JoelK The Shekhinah was presumably already gone by then. Consider the fact that the Greeks were also able to enter the Sanctuary of the Temple. The sin of sinat hinam, which was the cause of the Second Temple’s destruction according to the Rabbis, was obviously a very long-lasting problem.
    – ezra
    Commented Nov 29, 2021 at 7:23
  • 1
    @ezra was? B'ezrat Hashem we'll be able to say that soon Commented Nov 29, 2021 at 8:16

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