Re-building of the Temple in Jerusalem, from Dore Bible by Gustave Doré

Gustave Doré

Re-building of the Temple in Jerusalem, from Doré Bible, 1866, Engraving, Photo: Wikipedia / Public Domain

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The Reconstruction

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In Zechariah 1, as ‘the word of the LORD came to Zechari’ah…’, so did fantastical visions: prophecies of the rebuilding of the Temple.

I saw in the night, and behold, a man riding upon a red horse! He was standing among the myrtle trees in the glen; and behind him were red, sorrel, and white horses. (Zechariah 1:8)

In contrast to this dramatic, symbolic prophecy, which Zechariah may himself have found puzzling, Gustave Doré gives us an image of the concrete physical toil of reconstructing the Temple. The rebuilding is best foreshadowed in Zechariah 1:16, where an angelic messenger, a kind of intercessor between God and Zechariah, conveys this message to the prophet:

Therefore, thus says the LORD, ‘I have returned to Jerusalem with compassion; my house shall be built in it’, says the LORD of hosts, ‘and the measuring line shall be stretched out over Jerusalem.

Re-building of the Temple in Jerusalem was published in 1866 as one of 241 engravings created by Gustave Doré for La Grand Bible de Tours, the expanded edition of the 1843 French translation of the Vulgate known as La Bible de Tours.

Doré’s engraving conveys both the intense physical labour of rebuilding the Temple, and the exultation of having reached this moment, when the longed-for restoration finally occurs. The latter is most evident in the figure atop the Temple’s foundation with arms outstretched in awe and in gratitude to God. One can imagine this figure as the embodiment of the angel of the Lord standing among the myrtle trees in Zechariah 1:11.

Doré’s image depicts the fact that the supreme place of worship for the Jewish people, the Temple, is also the ultimate manifestation and emblem of God’s favour. Its reconstruction is confirmation of his promised intention to restore the Jewish people to Jerusalem.

‘[B]uild the house, that I may take pleasure in it and that I may appear in my glory’, says the LORD. (Haggai 1:8)


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