|Altar built on a bedrock platform or foundation|
Following the original Purim festivities, Jews were granted permission to return to Jerusalem to reconstruct their temple that had been destroyed 70 years earlier in the year 423 BCE . Haggai was a prophet of the Persian exile who foresaw the first temple reconstruction and final temple building. (2:9) The glory of this later house will be greater than the former said the Lord of hosts; and in this place I will grant peace. He had announced his prophecy and when King Darius II of Persia was appointed, the previous vassal Zerubavel oversaw the Jewish return to Jerusalem and their second attempt to rebuild. Only some Jewish leaders returned, but Haggai also foresaw something that troubled him...
In the shortest chapters of the Bible, Haggai enters and exits with few words. In his rare prophecy God asked Haggai to direct two questions of Jewish law at the priests who were to serve in the reconstructed temple. Their answer was deemed incorrect. Strangely, these educated priests and leaders of the Jewish people were very familiar with Jewish law and all were focused on locating the place of the altar from where coordinates for the temple reconstruction would be obtained.
|Bedrock foundation for Altar of Zion in City of David|
While the temple was still in ruins, the priests had offered sacrifices on the foundation rock where they deemed the first temple altar to have been 70 years prior. In this context, Haggai's ongoing prophecy (2:14) is puzzling. "Such is the people and such is the nation before Me, says the Lord; and such is every work of their hands; and whatever they offer there is defiled. Why is this place (2:9) of the future temple and "there" (2:14) of the first temple singled out in these two verses?
Prophet Zechariah was a contemporary of Haggai and wrote (Zech 8:7.2) So said the Lord of Hosts: I am jealous for Zion with great jealousy, and with great fury I am jealous for her. I will return to Zion, and I will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem; and Jerusalem shall be called the city of truth, and the mount of the Lord of Hosts [shall be called] the holy mountain.
Zechariah's prophecy exposed God's jealously for Zion, Samuel's earlier prophecies and writings had declared Zion is the City of David. So, why is "this place", of Haggai's final temple distinguished from "there" of the first temple reconstruction - will they be the same place? Bible texts unequivocally state Zion is the city of David. However, the altar at the City of David is not at the location of King David's altar on the temple mount of the first and reconstructed (second) temple.
|Lower Mount Moriah - City of David is Zion|
Haggai and King Hezekiah encountered the skull of Aruvnah, both realized something about the altar of King David was not quite right. At these crucial moments neither was able to effect change, they succumbed to the status-quo, but for the final construction we will be more careful.