What is the explanation (according to the Jewish Bible, Talmud, etc.) for the destruction of the First Temple?
Kaveh, Welcome to judaism.SE, and thanks very much for the important question!– Isaac Moses ♦May 11, 2011 at 14:28
@Issac, thank you for your kind welcome. :) I think I will find this site quite useful in extending my understanding and knowledge of Judaism.– KavehMay 12, 2011 at 1:00
Idolatry, immorality and murder. See Babylonian Talmud, Yoma 9b:
מקדש ראשון מפני מה חרב מפני ג' דברים שהיו בו ע"ז וגלוי עריות ושפיכות דמים
8Point of clarification for those unaware: "immorality" as used by Shaul in this case means forbidden sexual relations. "Immorality" is not a direct translation of the passage quoted above from the Talmud.– Seth JMay 11, 2011 at 15:00
The Jews distanced themselves from God, who therefore caused the symbol and medium of their closeness to him to be destroyed. More specifically, the g'mara (according to Rashi there) says, they did not view the Tora as important.
The most famous reason is committing the 3 cardinal sins, but other reasons are given also. The Bible gives some reasons in a couple of places, and the Talmud expounds on them. The Pentateuch has many warnings if the Jews are bad, they will be exiled (See the weekly reading next week). One of the sins emphasized is the failure to observe the Sabbatical year. Therefore it is said that the Jews were exiled for 70 years for failing to observe 70 sabbaticals.
A verse in the prophets mentions how they abandoned the Torah. Chazal say that this refers to the failure to recite the blessing over the Torah. Many commentators explain what this can mean (i.e what aspect of Torah study did they fail at).
Whatever this failure was, their abandonment of the Torah is likely connected to their eventual committing of the 3 cardinal sins.
1Ariel, I would tend to agree with your assessment at the end, but there are unfortunately many examples in the press of "pious" Jews involved in the 3 cardinal sins as well as other publicly embarrassing sins. I will still say that I agree with you, though, since, although one may appear pious, their improper/sinful/illegal/scandalous actions would indicate otherwise, which is what I think you meant anyway.– Seth JMay 16, 2011 at 19:58
1I don' think we have newspapers from the First Temple period.– Ariel KMay 17, 2011 at 0:51
I'd argue that the first temple was really in the city of Shiloh, but this aside, the Rambam wrote:
This is why our kingdom was lost and our Temple was destroyed and why we were brought to this; for our fathers sinned and are no more because they found many books dealing with these themes of the star gazers, these things being the root of idolatry, as we have made clear in Laws Concerning Idolatry. They erred and were drawn after them, imagining them to be glorious science and to be of great utility. They did not busy themselves with the art of war or with the conquest of lands, but imagined that those studies would help them. Therefore the prophets called them “fools and dolts.”