Second Temple Judaism
This chapter looks at the Temple, the Torah, messiah, apocalyptic thought, and the Land of Israel. The Jews believed that God had set aside a portion of the people of Israel to specialize in making proper sacrifices. In Israel’s early history, there were a number of altars and shrines at which sacrifices were done. After the building of Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem, however, a king named Josiah eventually centralized all sacrifice in this one location. When Israel was exiled to Babylon and the Temple was destroyed, the Jewish leaders struggled to explain to themselves why God had allowed the terrible disasters to occur. The Jews believed that they had a covenant relationship with God whereby, if they followed the Torah and performed their sacrifices, God would fulfill certain promises to them. Judaism at the turn of the millennium was diverse, comprising a number of different Jewish groups that had rather different beliefs.
The Christian Theological Tradition, 4th ed.