How God Chose The Site For The Temple of Jerusalem

An Adaptation of a Talmudic Legend Offered by Rinah and Leon Sheleff of Israel ©2001.

Four thousand years ago, two brothers lived near each other on a hill by Jerusalem. They each had their own farm, but they shared a threshing floor. Every year they would bring in the harvest and divide it equally between them. Then they would take the grain to their farms and sell it in the market place.

One of the brothers was wealthy but had no family; the other had a family but was poor. One night after the harvest had been divided into equal measures and taken to each brother’s home, the wealthy brother lay awake in this bed, thinking:

“I need just enough grain to pay for my food and servants. But my poor brother, he has so many mouths to feed. He needs the money more than I do. ”

He rose up out of his bed and went down to his granary. He lifted up as many sacks as he could carry and started to walk toward his brother’s farm.

Just around that time, the poor brother was lying in his bed, unable to sleep:

“I have a wife and children who will take care of me and the farm if anything happens to me. But my poor brother—if something happens to him, he will have to pay to be cared for. He needs the money more than I do.”

Quietly, so as not to disturb his wife and children, he rose up out of his bed and tiptoed down to his granary. He lifted up as many sacks as he could carry and walked toward his brother’s farm.

The two brothers met midway between their farms, their arms laden with the sacks of grain they were carrying to each other. The full moon shone down upon them as they dropped their bundles and ran to embrace each other.

And God looked down and smiled.

“This,” he said, “is where I shall build my temple.”


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