A pagan Roman temple in Lebanon and the future of Israel

Posted: July 4, 2011 in Christian

I would guess that 98 percent of the casual perusers of the bible that stumbled across this topic would either dismiss it as a misprint or possibly do a double-take with cartoon question marks popping over their heads. The 2 percent of weirdo students of the scriptures that enjoy searching out details within, or about, the scriptures however might be interested in this pagan, Roman temple and it’s significance to Israel.

Lets delve into a little history…in 70 A.D Jerusalem was razed and Herod’s Temple*1 destroyed after a seven month siege by Roman General Titus and 1.1 million Jews were killed during the conflict according to Jewish historian Flavius Josephus. Jerusalem remained in ruins until Roman Emperor Hadrian visited the site and decided to build a city upon the ruins of the former Capital of Judah in 130 A.D. After his visit, Hadrian decided to name the new city Aelia Capitolina*2 probably on advice from his advisers, and chose to make it a location to house some of his Legionnaires. This, for some strange reason, seemed to enrage the Jewish population and a Jewish revolt ensued against their Roman masters*3. After the Romans quashed this revolt Hadrian decided to erase this thorn in his side called Judaism from the province of Judah once and for all. He had it renamed Syria Palaestina*4, and Jews were banned from entering the city of Aelia Capitolina, on pain of death. Hadrian’s new plans for the city included temples to the major regional deities, and certain Roman gods, in particular Jupiter Capitolinus, to whom a temple was built on the site of the former Jewish Temple atop the Temple Mount. The Temple and city lost significance over time and by 333 A.D., it was described as a ‘refuse heap’*5. Attempts to rebuild the Temple on the Temple Mound after Constantine became Emperor went nowhere and in 638 A.D., the Muslim conquest of Jerusalem was complete. Had enough history? No, no, no, you’re not getting off that easy.

What about a pagan temple in Baalbek? Other than having some ultra cool ruins, why do we care about this area named after worship to the planet Mars? The focus of our interest in this region rests on some huge blocks and columns that make up the Temple of Jupiter. In approximately 60 A.D (this date squirrels about, depending what site you research) Roman Emperor Augustus decided to commission a temple to be built in what is now known as Baalbek, Lebanon. This famous archaeological site has been painstakingly researched, cataloged and photographed by historians, archaeologists, scientists and nut-jobs (there are some strange websites relating to this area) for decades. One of the better known remains discovered in the area is the Temple to Jupiter. What is significant about these ruins is that the architect that oversaw this temple construction in Baalbek, Lebanon is the same guy that also directed the construction of the Temple to Jupiter Capitolinus in Aelia Capitolina, Judea, AKA Jerusalem!

Fine, OK! The purpose and significance of all this ballyhoo and history lesson is that a new Temple to God (Daniel 9 and Revelation 11) will be built in Jerusalem in the future and there are three main conjectures about where it will be in relation to the Temple Mount. Until a few years ago there were only two main conjectures that differed in direction and elevation about the location and positioning of Herod’s Temple before it was destroyed until a Jewish historian and architect named Tuvia Sagiv dropped on the scene with a radical new idea. “I have an idea, let’s see if we can find the plans to the Roman Temple to Jupiter and using aerial photography, position them over the Temple Mount and see if they fit!” he said…(OK, so maybe he didn’t say it, but that’s what I would have said). The Temple Location Club (or whatever they call themselves…they have to have a club or something, right?), probably thought he was crazy…until they found out that he figured out that the same guy that designed this magnificent structure in Baalbek that tourists have been flocking to for years and has been staring us in the face since the time of Christ, designed the Temple to Jupiter Capitolinus in Jerusalem (Aelia Capitolina), and that they have the same basic architecture. We also know from historical records (the Romans kept meticulous records) that Hadrian had a statue of himself on horseback erected on the Temple Mount in front of the Temple. So, when they take plans from the Temple of Jupiter at Baalbek (which conveniently has a statue of a guy on a horse in front of the temple) and overlay the Temple Mount they discover it works with most of the Temple proper to the south of the Dome of the Rock. Now all they have to do is figure out a way to kick the Muslims out of Jerusalem so they can do some proper research, excavations, etc and start building the Temple.

Will Israel’s Temple be built within our lifetimes? Who knows. I know the nation of Israel is training temple priests and preparing the accouterments for it. I also know that it will be built sometime in the near future because God said it will. When is a matter of time and our support of Israel is really the only reason we care, because we will be out of here by the Time of Jacob’s Troubles start and the Temple takes on the prophetic significance that will sorely surprise the scoffers and prove, once again, the accuracy of the text.

Your brother in Yahweh, Jim

5-13-11 for Koinonia Institute

Here are a couple of websites relating to the subject at hand, if you’re a scientific and historical nerd like me.



*1 Herod’s Temple was a remodeling and refacing of the existing Temple of Hezekiah (Zerubbabel’s Temple), which still kind of  makes it the second official Temple of God…or you could look at the temple numbering another way, if you wanted to. *6

*2  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aelia_Capitolina (Aelia was Hadrian’s clan name and Capitolina meant it was dedicated to the god, Jupiter)

*3  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bar_Kokhba_revolt

*4  sounds familiar…Syria…Palestine…

*5  http://www.templemount.org/history.htm

*6  think of this:

1st temple was the tabernacle in Shiloh as it is referred to in I Samuel 1:9

2nd temple was Solomon’s temple

3rd temple was Zerubbabel’s temple, named for the guy that was appointed governor of Judah by Darius I when they were allowed to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem.

4th temple is the remodeling job allowed to be done under the governance of Herod and therefore referred to as Herod’s temple

5th temple is us, the body of Christ

6th temple will be the one that will be built and desecrated by the the ‘antichrist’

7th temple will be Ezekiel’s huge and very explicitly described temple erected during the millennium

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