Isaac Newton’s Thoughts on the Jerusalem Temple

July 22 2019

In addition to his famed contributions to physics, mathematics, and astronomy, Isaac Newton pursued investigations into alchemy, astrology, theology, and scriptural exegesis. He invested particular significance in the biblical Temple, even studying a Latin translation of the section in Moses Maimonides’ legal code dealing with Temple regulations. Describing Newton’s manuscript “Notes on the Temple,” Sharon Cohen writes:

The manuscript was written between 1675 and 1685, and includes text in Latin, Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. Throughout the manuscript we can clearly see several instances in which Newton uses Hebrew script. For example, he analyzes the use of the Hebrew root r-ts-f and its modifications ritspah and ritspat, which can mean “sequence,” “floor,” or “flooring.” The Aramaic phrase ta azi and ta sh’ma also appear in Hebrew script. These talmudic expressions mean “come and see” and “come and hear,” respectively. All of the Hebrew script appears alongside Latin translations and explanations.

In the left column, near the top of the page, we can see a Hebrew biblical verse, complete with vowel notations, [which translates as] “Blessed be the name of the glory of His kingdom forever and ever.” According to a midrash, when Moses ascended Mount Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments, he heard the angels speaking this verse to God.

Also in the left column of the page, we see commentaries from a Spanish Jesuit on the descriptions of the Temple that appear in the Book of Ezekiel. To Newton, the Temple was significant for three main reasons. First, Newton . . . believed that the Temple in Jerusalem, and the courtyard surrounding it, was a model of the heliocentric solar system, with the raised altar (located in the center) representing the sun. Second, Newton’s interest in the architecture of the temple was fueled by his belief that the Temple would serve as the “site of revelation” for the apocalypse. In addition, he believed that the Temple would be rebuilt in Jerusalem, with even greater magnificence than the original, at the onset of the Millennial Kingdom—that is, Christ’s reign on earth.

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Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Christian Hebraists, Moses Maimonides, Science, Temple

Will Tensions Rise between the U.S. and Israel?

Unlike his past many predecessors, President Joe Biden does not have a plan for solving the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Moreover, his administration has indicated its skepticism about renewing the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. John Bolton nevertheless believes that there could be a collision between the new Benjamin Netanyahu-led Israeli government and the Biden White House:

In possibly his last term, Netanyahu’s top national-security priority will be ending, not simply managing, Iran’s threat. This is infinitely distant from Biden’s Iran policy, which venerates Barrack Obama’s inaugural address: “we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.”

Tehran’s fist is today otherwise occupied, pummeling its own people. Still, it will continue menacing Israel and America unless and until the internal resistance finds ways to fracture the senior levels of Iran’s regular military and the Revolutionary Guards. Netanyahu undoubtedly sees Iran’s growing domestic turmoil as an opportunity for regime change, which Israel and others can facilitate. Simultaneously, Jerusalem can be preparing its military and intelligence services to attack Tehran’s nuclear program, something the White House simply refuses to contemplate seriously. Biden’s obsession with reviving the disastrous 2015 nuclear deal utterly blinds the White House to the potential for a more significant victory.

To make matters worse, Biden has just created a Washington-based position at the State Department, a “special representative for Palestinian affairs,” that has already drawn criticism in Israel both for the new position itself and for the person named to fill it. Advocated as one more step toward “upgrading” U.S. relations with the Palestinian Authority, the new position looks nearly certain to become the locus not of advancing American interests regarding the failed Authority, but of advancing the Authority’s interests within the Biden administration.

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Read more at 19FortyFive

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Iran, Joe Biden, U.S.-Israel relationship