Thursday, October 15, 2009

3) Direction of prayer

If all this be so, it may solve still another question. King Solomon enjoined in his prayer for inauguration of the First Temple that the people of Israel as well as a stranger who had heard of God's great name, and would come, should pray in the direction of the house he built on Mount Moriah23.

Did the Persian kings take to this behest? Was it altogether communicated to them? Or was it understood in its most narrow sense as applying only to those who would come, and pray, in the Land of Israel after they have "heard of thy great name, and thy strong hand, and thy outstretched arm" (ibid)? In this case, too, it would have to be implemented fully only in the days of the Third Temple, notwithstanding "first fruits" like Ruth the Moabite24.

The same holds true in view of Prophet Zechariah's word that the (present) fast days of Israel shall become feasts of joy and gladness25. Since he speaks here, too, in future tense, this word cannot be interpreted as a command given erroneously to his contemporaries. The transition from fasting and mourning to joy and gladness will occur in due time.

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