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The Tragedy of the Idol

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JewishTreats.org

Ever since Moses saw the Israelites dancing around the Golden Calf and smashed the two tablets of the law, the 17th of Tammuz has been an inauspicious day for the Jewish people, a day on which numerous tragedies occurred. One of the famous tragic events of the 17th of Tammuz was the placing of an idol in the Temple.

There are different opinions about exactly when this incident occurred.

One view in the Talmud (Ta’anit 28b) says: “An idol was placed in the Temple. From where do we know this? — It is written, ‘And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away and the abomination [idol] that causes desolation set up’(Daniel 12,11).” The daily sacrifice was abolished on the 17th of Tammuz and, therefore, the idol was placed in the Temple on that very same day (during the Babylonian siege).

Others believe that the incident refers to an act done by Apustamos, a Greek who was also responsible for burning the Torah (during the Second Temple period).

Rashi mentions yet another suggestion, based on the Jerusalem Talmud, that this is a reference to the actions of the wicked King Manasseh of Judah:

Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign… And he set the graven image of Asherah, that he had made, in the house of which God said to David and to Solomon his son: “In this house, and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, will I put My name forever…” (Kings II 21:1-7).

While a Greek placing an idol in the Temple was, indeed, terrible, a Jewish king was a much greater tragedy.

Copyright © 2010 National Jewish Outreach Program. All rights reserved.

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