Why couldn't the temple be built because David shed blood? Was it a matter of principle or ethics on God's part or was it a practical matter because continuing like this would make construction unfeasible? No country builds great things in times of war, was that the reason?


3 Answers 3


Exact sources on hold: Chida learns that since Dovid killed the wicked, it's like he brought karbanos as brought in a midrash by Pinchas that the killing of the wicked is like bringing karbanos. Dovid brought many karbanos and thus was very holy. He couldn't build the temple for the same reason Arizal says Moshe Rabeinu couldn't build it, because it wouldn't be able to be destroyed. (Therefore we would be distroyed instead) However the simple explanation given by the Ramban and Rabeinu Bichaye was that Dovid Hamelech killed the Amelekites because he represented Din/judgment, so it's not befitting for him to build the beis hamikdash which represents Mercy.


One answer can be provided based on the Midrash Shocher Tov 62:4:

ואת למד מדוד שהיה מצטער לבנות בית המקדש. שנאמר (תהלים קלב א-ג) זכור ה' לדוד את כל ענותו. אשר נשבע לה'. אם אבא באהל ביתי. (דברי הימים-א כב יד) ואני בעניי הכינותי לבית אלקי. וכן הוא אומר (שמואל-ב ז א) ויהי כי ישב המלך בביתו וה' הניח לו מסביב. התחיל מהרהר בלבו ואומר (שם ב) אני יושב בבית ארזים וארון ברית ה' יושב בתוך היריעה. אמר לו נתן הנביא אלולא שעלה במחשבה בלבו של הקב"ה ואומר (שמואל א יג יד) בקש ה' לו איש כלבבו. לא היה בלבבך עולה. מיד נגלה עליו הקב"ה על ידי נתן שנאמר (שמואל-ב ז ד-ה) ויהי בלילה ההוא ויהי דבר ה' אל נתן הנביא לאמר. לך ואמרת אל עבדי אל דוד האתה תבנה לי בית. וכתוב אחד אומר (דברי הימים-א יז ד) לא אתה תבנה לי בית לשבת. היאך יתקיימו שני כתובים הללו. אלא לא אתה תבנה לי בית אלא שלמה בנך יבנה אותו. האתה תבנה לי בית שעל שמך אני קורא אותו. שנאמר (תהלים ל א) מזמור שיר חנוכת הבית לדוד. ובשביל ששפכת דמים הרבה איני יכול לבנותו על ידך אלא על שמך מאחר שנצטערת. כיון ששמע דוד כך נתיירא ואמר הרי נפסלתי מלבנות בית המקדש. א"ר יהודה ב"ר אלעאי אמר לו הקב"ה אל תירא. חייך כל הדמים ששפכת כאיל וצבי הן לפני. שנאמר בהן (דברים יב כד) על הארץ תשפכנו כמים. אמר לפניו אם כן למה איני בונה אותו. אמר לו גלוי וידוע לפני שישראל עתידים לחטוא ואני מפיג בו חמתי וישראל נצולין. ואם אתה בונה אותו הרי הוא קיים ואינו חרב לעולם. אמר לו והרי הוא יפה. אמר לו מוטב שאפיג בו חמתי ומחייבו והן נצולים.

And you learned from David who agonised over building the Temple. As it says (Psalms 132:1-3) "O LORD, remember in David’s favor all his suffering. How he swore to Hashem...I will not enter into my House". (Divrei HaYamim I 22:14) "See, by denying myself, I have laid aside for the House of the LORD". And similarly, Shmuel II 7:1, "When the king was settled in his palace and the LORD had granted him safety from all the enemies around him". He started pondering in his heart and saying (7:2) "Here I am dwelling in a house of cedar, while the Ark of the LORD abides in a tent!". Nosson (Natan/Nathan) the prophet said to him, "If only the thought of Hashem in your heart shall ascend". And he said, (Shmuel I 13:14) The LORD will seek out a man after His own heart. There was no rising in your heart. Immediately Hashem was revealed to him through Nosson, as it says: (Shmuel II 7:4-5) "And it was on that same night, the word of Hashem came to Nosson saying: Go and say to My servant Dovid - Thus said the LORD: Are you the one to build a house for Me to dwell in?". And one scripture says, (Divrei HaYamim I 17:4) "You are not the one to build a house (for Me to dwell in)". How will these two scriptures be fulfilled? Rather you will not build me a house, but Shlomo (Solomon) your son will build it. You will build me a house that I call after you. As it says, (Psalms 30:1) "A psalm of David. A song for the dedication of the House". And because you shed a lot of blood, I can't build it by you but in your name and thus you will agonise. When Dovid heard this, he was afraid/aghast, and he said, "I have been disqualified from building the Temple!" Rav Yehuda the son of Rav Ilai said, G-d replied to him (Dovid), "Don't be afraid. By your life, all the blood that you shed was like that of a ram and a deer before me". As it says, (Devarim 12:24) "You must pour it out on the ground like water" He (Dovid) said before Him, "If so, why can't I build it?" He (G-d) said to him, "It would become revealed and known that Israel were to sin in the future, I would vent my wrath and Israel would be saved. If you were you to build it, it would last forever and never be destroyed". Dovid said to Him, "Isn't this a good thing?" Hashem replied, "It is better that I vent my wrath (on the Temple) and destroy it, and Israel will be spared."


On the surface it seems that it was a matter of principle. As the verse (1 Chron 22:8) says, David WAS a man of war (past tense):

וַיְהִ֨י עָלַ֤י דְּבַר־יְהֹוָה֙ לֵאמֹ֔ר דָּ֤ם לָרֹב֙ שָׁפַ֔כְתָּ וּמִלְחָמ֥וֹת גְּדֹל֖וֹת עָשִׂ֑יתָ לֹא־תִבְנֶ֥ה בַ֙יִת֙ לִשְׁמִ֔י כִּ֚י דָּמִ֣ים רַבִּ֔ים שָׁפַ֥כְתָּ אַ֖רְצָה לְפָנָֽי׃

But the word of the LORD came to me, saying,‘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.

But his son Solomon was to be a man of rest (verse 9):

But you will have a son who will be a man at rest, for I will give him rest from all his enemies on all sides;

But there is also the issue of the era and context beyond the individual. The Malbim writes,

ותנאי בנין הבית הוא בעת מנוחה

the building of the temple is dependent on a time of peace, and only during Solomon's time would there be no need for even an obligatory war (let alone an optional war like some of David's).

  • That is, it could be both, but reading it coldly seems to be more a practical question than a principle. God realized that in times of war the construction would be problematic, both from the point of view of the work and from the financing point of view and if they were to finish, just look at the difficulty of building the second temple.
    – Thales
    Commented Nov 30, 2022 at 23:41
  • @Thales it seems that both considerations were involved because they are intertwined. In a time of guaranteed peace, Solomon will be a man of peace, so the principle can be abided by because of the era's context.
    – rosends
    Commented Dec 1, 2022 at 0:53
  • Solomon's methods of peace were very questionable, making alliances with neighboring countries for marriages with the daughter of these monarchs and according to comments God wanted to destroy the temple on the day of the inauguration because the wedding feast of Solomon with the pharaoh's daughter was overshadowing the Opening.
    – Thales
    Commented Dec 1, 2022 at 1:11
  • but the verses say what they say, "But you will have a son who will be a man at rest, for I will give him rest from all his enemies on all sides; Solomon will be his name and I shall confer peace and quiet on Israel in his time. He will build a House for My name; he shall be a son to Me and I to him a father, and I will establish his throne of kingship over Israel forever.’"
    – rosends
    Commented Dec 1, 2022 at 1:14

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