G-d gave Yechezkel the blueprints for what is now known as the third temple. Later the Israelites returned from exile and built the second temple... according to the blueprints of the first one? Why?

Rashi says (commenting on Yechezkel 43:11):

They will learn the matters of the measurements from your mouth so that they will know how to do them at the time of the end. I found [the following]: The second aliyah [to the Holy Land] through Ezra was merited to be like the first entry through Joshua, to come about by force and through a miracle, as expounded (Ber. 4a, Exod. 15:16): “until… pass.” This Building would then have been fit for them as of then, when they emerged from exile, to an everlasting redemption. But [their] sin caused [this not to happen] for their repentance was not suitable, [i.e.,] they did not resolve to stop sinning. [Therefore,] they emerged to freedom [only] through the sanction of Cyrus and his son. Some say that in Babylon they stumbled regarding gentile women.

Is this generally the explanation given? What's its source? What do other rabbis say? What other verses in the Tanakh are relevant here?

2 Answers 2


Rav Yaakov Kamenetzky (Emmes leYa'akov Parshas Bo, page רעא of the new edition) discusses this question. He writes (and if I remember well there is a Malbim who writes so too) that Yechezkel's Beth Hamikdash was meant to be final one. If the Jewish people during the Babilonian exile would have lived up to the level G'd wanted them to, they indeed would have merited to Yechezkel's structure. However they assimilated there (as is clearly evident from Psukim in sefer Ezra & Nechemia) and in fact the exile really did have to be extended because of that. Because of the danger of further assimilation however, G'd brought them back as a temporary measure with a Beth Hamikdash which was never meant to be an everlasting one, and was therefore on purpose not built in that shape, and in which the Aron did not reside. All this in order to make the people realise that this was not yet the final redemption and Beth Hamikdash. During this period the teachings of the oral law became widespread, instead of the way it was studied till then by a select group of people only, so that this would help them afterwards to endure the long exile which was to follow. He explains with this many points, too numerous to quote here. Unfortunately Rav Kamenetzky's Sefer on Chumash is not (yet) scanned through on HebrewBooks.org, but try and get hold of it. It is a phenomenal and fascinating piece.

  • How is Yechezkel's version different viz-a-viz the Aron?
    – Double AA
    Jan 14, 2015 at 0:23
  • How did we know what level we were holding at in Hashem's eyes and that Hashem only made it temporary due to this "level"? Ruach Hakodesh? Was there a prophecy? Jan 14, 2015 at 0:43
  • Double AA: The Aron is, as far as I know, not discussed in Yechezkel. In the first BH the Aron was present. It was hidden before the destruction, and it is slated to be found and back in position in the future BH. It was absent during the second BH.
    – Imanonov
    Jan 14, 2015 at 0:50
  • Emet v'Shalom: I'm not aware of any explicit prophecy to that effect, but as I wrote earlier, it is clear from Sefer Ezra & Nechemia that the people's behaviour had not improved. They had married out and did not know many basic Jewish concepts. Hardly a situation which would make Hashem happy with us
    – Imanonov
    Jan 14, 2015 at 0:54
  • Imanonov -- if you want someone to see your response to their comment on a post that they didn't write, you need to put the @ symbol in front of their username: I'm not sure if @DoubleAA and/or Emet v'Shalom saw your responses to their comments.
    – MTL
    Jan 14, 2015 at 2:33

The Tosfos Yom Tov in his introduction to Maseches Middos mentions that this explanation of Rashi is taken from a Medrash, but he doesn't indicate where that Medrash is.

  • Welcome to Mi Yodeya, Moses613. Could you edit in exactly where Tosfos Yom Tov says this, and what they say?
    – Scimonster
    Jan 12, 2015 at 22:10
  • I think he did that, @Scimonster. What might be a little more useful would be to add in where in Medrash this can be found, but that's not necessary as one can easily find the Tosfos Yom Tov.
    – MTL
    Jan 12, 2015 at 22:49
  • 1
    I don't see how this answers the questions.
    – Seth J
    Jan 13, 2015 at 22:49
  • @SethJ It answers the second of four questions: "What's its source?"
    – MTL
    Jan 14, 2015 at 2:29
  • 1
    @shokhet and it's very, very imprecise.
    – Seth J
    Jan 15, 2015 at 2:08

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