In the wake of the destruction of Jerusalem, rabbinic literature’s presentation of mothers donating their children’s weight in gold to the Temple – following the rabbinic interpretation of ‘Arakhin – comes to exemplify both piety and tragedy.
In “Herod’s Renovation of the Temple – The Talmudic Version”, I explored the Bavli’s account of how the first century BCE king, Herod, rose to power, violently solidified his rule, and rebuilt the Temple. I demonstrated how the rabbis thematized issues of sight and blindness in their telling of the tale in order to explain how a wicked king ended up building the holy Temple. In this piece, I look at the Persian sources of the story, which provide a further layer of understanding.
In their discussion of King Herod’s reconstruction of the Second Temple, Talmudic storytellers emphasize themes of sight, blindness, and illegitimate rule. They also make a surprising suggestion about who really should get credit for this renovation.