The Twelve Tribes and the Temple

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The Temple at Jerusalem:
a Revelation

by John Michell

 

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The twelve tribes and the Temple

 

The revelation of the Temple and the gathering there of the Twelve Tribes of Israel are events which go together. So it is emphasized by the prophets. Yet here arises an immediate difficulty, because the identity of these tribes is now unknown. The Jews claim to represent only two and a part of them – Judah, Benjamin and an 'admixture of Levites'. The others, who never returned from captivity in Assyria in the eighth century BC, are lost among the 'nations of the world'. Sects and nations in all continents have declared themselves or been declared by others as one or more of the lost tribes, and the whole subject has been swamped by antiquarian fantasy.

Once Jerusalem as a whole is understood to be the prophesied Temple, the question can be seen in a new light. This greater temple is not a building exclusive to one expression of religion, but, dedicated to the Almighty, it is the spiritual centre of all who feel drawn to it. And since Jerusalem is Zion, a proper name for spiritual attraction towards Jerusalem is Zionism. This, of course, requires the redefinition of the meaning of Zionism. At present it is conventionally applied to the movement for resettling the Jews in the Holy Land, but it need not be so limited. All who aspire to Zion are by definition Zionists. Those of whatever race or religion, who think of Zion as their spiritual home, have their rightful place in the greater temple of Jerusalem, and by their yearning for Zion they identify themselves as among the lost tribes of Israel.

These present times are times of revelation, so it is not surprising that this perception is already alive in Jerusalem. Its philosopher and promoter is Isaac Hayutman, founder of the Academy of Jerusalem, an institution for studying and teaching current revelations of ancient and forgotten knowledge. With the appearance of the prophesied temple, his insight takes on new significance.

Temple at Jerusalem

As the temple has revealed itself, so will the twelve tribes. And as the process develops, something else is revealed. The number twelve is a symbol of natural order. Number itself is basically duodecimal. That is why past civilizations have adopted the number twelve as the basis for ordering time, both greater and lesser cycles, for theology, psychology arid political constitutions. The dodecahedron with its twelve pentagonal faces was Plato's symbol for the ideal earth, amid it is a model for the tradition of twelve races or psychological types of humanity forming a perfect union. In classical Greece each nation with its own cult and sanctuary was divided into twelve tribes, three to each of the four quarters, in imitation of the zodiac. This same cosmological pattern has been known at different times throughout the world. Associated with this pattern is the form of religion which recognizes a council of twelve gods, the Olympians, amid draws its teachings from science and philosophy rather than beliefs and dogma. Its worthy followers are initiated in the Mysteries amid led towards justice and understanding. They inherit a tradition that goes back to the earliest times and recurs at different periods to provide true standards for human living and to refresh human spirits and culture.

There is a fourth religion that partakes in Jerusalem's revealed temple, and it is the oldest and deepest. It is called pagan, but that is a derogatory name, implying ignorance and superstition, which was given to it by its enemies. Properly styled, it is the classical or philosopher's religion. Truth, wisdom and knowledge (in descending order) are its ideals; it demands no artificial beliefs. Amid it is unique among religions in being called perennial - rooted in nature and human nature and so ever recurrent. Like the temple and the regathering of the tribes, the reappearance ol this perennial tradition, and the sacred science that comes with it, is a necessary part of the Millennial process.

 

The origin of the Temple pattern

The plan of the Temple, it is said, was divinely revealed to Moses and again to King David, and the more one studies that beautiful scheme the more one is persuaded that the traditional account is the most likely. It explains why the Temple has such enduring power as an image and why it recurs from time to time, in response to need or invocation. The present revelation is not just of the Temple's former site but of its pattern in outline, spread across the old city of Jerusalem and marking it out as a sanctuary which, as the prophets emphasized, is for all nations. It is an awesome disclosure, and it naturally provokes curiosity. How is it that the city has grown over the ages to bear the imprint of a great temple? Who, if anyone, was responsible for it?

Some features of the pattern are old, from the time of the First Temple, but the lay-omit of streets and shrines that make it recognizable today is no earlier than the reign of Herod the Great (37- 4 BC); and its most obvious features are the thoroughfares created by the Romans in the second century. Throughout that period, during which Herod's temple was built and destroyed, together with almost the entire city, the development of Jerusalem was evidently guided by a single plan, secretly maintained by generations o architects, masons and augurs. One sign of that is the 'messianic axis'. Its line, about 5 degrees north of east, is parallel to the northern wall of the Temple Mount and was followed by the Roman road-builders. It also defined the orientation of Herod's temple. Kaufman reckons that Herod's works were aligned due east-west, but this is disputed by other specialists, and the evidence here shows that the line between Golgotha and the Dome of the Spirits was the main axis on which Jerusalem was planned over a period which coincided with the birth and rise of Christianity.

The key to Jerusalem's street pattern with its two different orientations is in the Temple Mount. Its vast raised platform, concealing many subterranean mysteries, was the preliminary work for Herod's temple, from about 22 BC. None of its four walls are parallel, but at two corners, north-east and south west, they form right angles. The north wall, and the northern section of the east wall, are aligned with the messianic axis amid the Roman street works; the walls on the west and south sides conform to the other orientation of streets, 10 degrees east of north. This second orientation has been identified as that of Solomon's temple, preserved by Herod's architects in their rebuilding of the Temple Mount. Its north-south line survives today as the axis of the Muslim sacred places.

The following conclusion is offered lightly, because it is really no more than an impression. It is that the pattern over Jerusalem that is now emerging - the pattern of a greater temple that accommodates all twelve tribes - was revealed and given shape at around the beginning of the Christian era. It was worked upon by a succession of mystical idealists, Jews, Romans and others, motivated by the millennial spirit of that time, the spirit that gave birth to Christianity.

The history of early Christianity has been so thoroughly and purposefully mythologized that there is no true record of how it arose and how it affected the people of Jerusalem at the time. Jesus as a person has been idealized beyond recognition; even his name was adapted to produce (by the sum of the numerical correspondents of the Greek letters comprising it) the number 888. That is affirmed by gnostic writers and by Irenaeus among the early Christian fathers. Only in St John's Revelation is there a hint of the millennial fervour that settled upon Jerusalem at the time of Jesus and was later called the spirit of Christianity. Herod was then King of the Jews, but he was subject to the Romans, and everything he did, including his temple building, was by Roman consent. A picture that comes into view is of a priestly guild or freemasonry of architects, influenced by the millennial outburst that became identified with Christianity, designing a temple and a pattern of streets as clues to the Secret of Jerusalem. That secret is nothing less than the temple that Solomon spread out over Jerusalem, his universal temple, his sanctuary of the Twelve Tribes or of all those who accept Jerusalem as their spiritual centre.

This is a deep and mystical subject. There is no doubt, according to the Bible, that Solomon's overall temple plan was not only for the Jews but for all the nations from which his wives and concubines were drawn - meaning for all nations. That plan, the pattern! of the greater temple over Jerusalem, was referred to by Ezekiel and other ancient prophets. St John also knew the secret, for at the beginning of Revelation 21 he identifies the visionary city of Jerusalem with the temple and proclaims that it is already here.

"Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people."

 

So here is mystery. The lack of any good, rational alternative leaves room for the miraculous: that the wonderful pattern over the Holy City was a product of divine providence, working through each generation of various different peoples to create an active symbol of the Holy Spirit that is ever the same for everyone, everywhere. The revelation of that pattern was to come about when it was needed, in response to a generation's desire for the 'healing of nations', arid in God's good time. It seems likely that the time has come.

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