If I recall correctly, there are a variety of stories that allude to prophecies about the destruction of 2 temples. For example, the Bereishit Rabba to 45:14 reads, " אֶלָּא אָמַר רַבִּי אֶלְעָזָר בֶּן פְּדָת יוֹסֵף רָאָה בְּרוּחַ הַקֹּדֶשׁ שֶׁשְּׁנֵי בֵּית הַמִּקְדָּשׁוֹת עֲתִידִין לִבָּנוֹת בְּחֶלְקוֹ שֶׁל בִּנְיָמִין וַעֲתִידִין לֵחָרֵב" and the Zohar seems to point to the inevitability of 3 temples.

I assume that these sources were known -- unless there is some explanation that they were not public knowledge at this time. So assuming their existence and dissemination, after the destruction of the first temple, did these stories have any effect on the people's interest in building a second temple (knowing that it was fated to be destroyed)?

I'm not asking about here anyone's reluctance to build the first temple though that might have the same contextual problem. I'm also not concerned here with anyone's reluctance due to more immediate prophecies related to the behavior of the Jewish people -- just to the pre-existing knowledge that there were already, on the books, prophecies that 2 temples would be destroyed.

So was there any impact on the drive to rebuild which can be attributed to a realization that another destruction had already been foretold?

  • 2
    Why would you assume the Zohar was public knowledge before 1300
    – Double AA
    Commented Dec 17, 2017 at 21:24
  • 1
    I don't know what was known or studied when. If there was evidence one way or the other, it would help me understand. Is there an argument that the text didn't exist beforehand? Or just its esoteric nature made it less well known?
    – rosends
    Commented Dec 17, 2017 at 21:28
  • Interestingly, it seems relatively accepted that the prophecy was known that a second Temple would be rebuilt 70 years after the first was destroyed. See for example commentators at the beginning of the Book of Esther that says Achashverosh made his party to celebrate what he thinks was paying that mark. I don't know whether or not it was known that the second Temple would be destroyed, but then again, my Tanach knowledge is sadly quite low. Commented Dec 17, 2017 at 21:55
  • similar judaism.stackexchange.com/q/15215/759
    – Double AA
    Commented Dec 17, 2017 at 21:57
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    I don't understand your response. Consider clarifying in the post whether you are asking about whether these texts ought to have alerted people, or whether the ideas contained therein ought to have been part of ancient traditions they received.
    – mevaqesh
    Commented Dec 17, 2017 at 22:39

2 Answers 2

  1. There's a big difference between seeing in "Ruach haKodesh" and a prophecy. A prophecy is commanded to be publicized, where the seeing is not. THe only prophecies we know are about the foreseen destruction of the first Temple, there are no open prophecies about the destruction of the second, despite the fact that you are right about "them both to be destined to be destroyed".
  2. According to Rambam, the negative prophecies do not have to be fulfilled, and people's actions can reverse them, as in the Yonah and the Ninveh story. So even if it was openly prophecized, the Jews had an option to repent and reverse it.
  3. As we hold that Hashem "פוקד עוון אבות על בנים", it takes a couple of generations to result in a destruction, and it is not the last generation's sole fault. Moreover, public prophecies only set the general guidelines, it adds nothing to personal observance. It might be emotionally tough, but mentally and Halakhicly nothing changes - the positive commandment of building the Temple (acc to Rambam) is constantly in force.
  • OK, but (as per answer #2) if someone in a year between the destruction of the first and the building of the second read the medrash would he see that the understanding that Yosef had was wrong?
    – rosends
    Commented Dec 17, 2017 at 23:11
  • @rosends Yosef wasn't wrong, as the second temple was also foreseen. The "problem" with the Midrashim is that it can be read in many ways a-priori, but only retrospectively, one or a couple of them are realized in reality.
    – Al Berko
    Commented Dec 17, 2017 at 23:31

I think that looking backwards in time, it seems as if the destruction of the Temple were foretold from the beginning. This is obvious to us, because we live after those events, and we know that two temples were eventually destroyed.

But if you actually lived at that time, it wouldn't have been clear. Jeremiah prophesied about the destruction of the Temple long before it was actually destroyed, but Hananiah the son of Azzur also prophesied that Babylon's yoke would be broken and the stolen vessels from the Temple would be returned (Jeremiah 28). When we read this story, we know Jeremiah is the "good guy" because he ended up being right, but it's only clear in retrospect. To the people, there were two different options being foretold, and not everyone knew that one was obviously right.

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