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If the Jewish Temple is ever to be rebuilt in Jerusalem, the massive curtain – 66 feet high by 33 feet wide and 2 inches thick – that once hung in the Second Temple and was consumed by fire in A.D. 70, will need to be recreated.
That task is already underway in the Jewish community of Shiloh, located in biblical Samaria about 40 minutes north of Jerusalem, reports Israel Today.
For more than two years women from the community have been working to assemble the materials and learn the techniques needed to weave the veil that will hang between, and separate, the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies.
While the command given to Moses at Sinai – “You shall make a veil woven of blue, purple, and scarlet thread, and fine woven linen … with an artistic design of cherubim” (Exodus 26:31) – may have been clear to the people of Israel in the mid-15th century B.C., the techniques for weaving the required six-cord threads and the proper way to recreate the needed dyes are unknown today.
The scarlet is believed to have been made out of an oak aphid, reported Israel Today, and the blue from a special sea snail. The purple was also animal-derived, but which animals is unknown.
In some ways Shiloh as the place for “the women of the veil chamber” to pursue their task is a natural one.
Ancient Israel’s Tabernacle – precursor to the First Temple built in Jerusalem by King Solomon – stood in Shiloh for over 300 years. It was to Shiloh that the tribes of Israel came for annual festivals. One of those occasions is the biblical setting for the begining of the ministry of the Prophet Samuel (1 Samuel 1). It was from here the Ark of the Covenant was sent into battle against Israel’s arch enemy, the Philistines, and captured (1 Samuel 4). Some 300 years later, in the time of the Prophet Jeremiah, the city was in ruins.
In 2013, archaeologists announced they had found the site at Shiloh where the Tabernacle had stood. Hewn holes that once supported wooden beams, large stoves not meant for home use, structures dating to the period between Joshua and King David and proximity to the city gate led to their identification. Past findings in the surrounding hills include what researchers say are the bones of sacrificed animals that were eaten during those times when thousands of Israelites would assemble at Shiloh, reported Israel National News. The bones have been dated to the same biblical period.
The synagogue of the modern community of Shiloh is designed as a replica of the Tabernacle.
The veil project mirrors another that has been underway for four years, recreating the priestly garments needed for Temple worship. Some Jews who claim priestly lineage have already purchased the special clothing.
The weavers of the veil see their work as a “holy activity” that hastens the time of Israel’s redemption.
The Gospel of Matthew records that upon Jesus death, the great veil of the Temple “was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split.” (Matthew 27:51)