During the festival of Sukkot in antiquity, the first Temple was dedicated by King Solomon in Jerusalem in a dramatic ceremony described in the Bible (1 Kings 8:2-21). The reading of this text takes place in the modern synagogue during the festival.
Solomon’s father, David, was not permitted to build during his reign despite his signal achievements and his fame. The reason for his being denied this privilege is found in a later text (1 Chronicles 22):
“The word of God came upon me, saying: ‘You have spilled much blood and waged many wars. You will not build a home for Me, for you have spilled too much blood upon the land before Me. A son has been born to you; he will be a man in tranquil times, and I will keep him free of all enemies, for Solomon will be his name, and I will grant him peace and quiet during his period. He will build a House dedicated to My Name..’ ”
War-making was not unknown in ancient Israel; and, at times, it was mandatory.
Yet, even the Biblical perspective was that the violence of war was incompatible with undertaking major sacred tasks.
God’s will for Israel and the human family was to transcend war.
Only then would human spiritual capacity be released and flower. War and violence and their attendant emotions narrow the ability of a human being to dream and to soar. Peace is the proper matrix for giant steps forward.
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