The Jerusalem Temple vs. the Mormon Temple


By Richard Packham
Mormons like to claim that their temples are a restoration of the temples that were built in Old Testament times. That claim collapses if one compares the Jewish temple with the modern Mormon temples.

There were four successive temples built on Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Although built over a period of centuries, they did not differ essentially from each other in basic design, and all had the same rituals and purpose. All the Mormon temples (except the first two, in Kirtland and Nauvoo) resemble each other in design and use. But the Mormon temples are fundamentally different from the ancient temples in Jerusalem, as the following table shows.

Jerusalem TempleMormon Temples
Only one temple at any one time Over 120, more added each year
Headed by the High Priest Headed by a Temple President
Officiators (priests) were hereditary, full-time, supported by temple offerings Officiators are lay volunteers, part-time, unpaid
Rituals described in detail in the Old Testament Ritual details (except for baptism) secret
Rituals only for the living Rituals for both living and dead; mostly for dead
No oaths required of worshipers Secret oaths required of participants in the endowment
No marriages performed Marriage (sealing) "for eternity" must be performed in the temple
"Holy of Holies" was empty (the first temple [Solomon's] contained the Ark) "Holy of Holies" contains an altar
Only priests entered the actual temple building; all others remained in the appropriate courtyard (Court of Israel for men, Court of the Women for Israelite women, or Court of the Gentiles) All worshipers enter into the temple building
Altars were used only for offering sacrifices of food and animals Altars are used only for kneeling in prayer and for sealing ceremonies
Main altar stood outside the temple building, before the door All altars are inside the temple
Principal function was offering sacrifices, which included the slaughter of animal victims Principal functions are baptizing for the dead by proxy, "sealing" and the secret "endowment" ceremony, which includes instruction in secret signs, handshakes, and taking of secret oaths, mostly performed as proxy for dead persons
The veil of the temple separated the Holy Place (the Sanctuary) from the Holy of Holies The veil of the temple separates the Celestial Room from the previous Endowment room; no veil at the entrance to the Holy of Holies
Only the high priest passed throuogh the veil of the temple All participants in the endowment pass through the veil
Only the priests wore special robes All participants (including women) wear special "robes of the holy priesthood" in the endowment ritual; officiators wear plain white clothing
High priest's robes were colored, richly decorated and jewelled (Ex 28-29) Robes are all white (except for a green apron)
All Israelites could worship at the temple, without regard to their righteousness Only Mormons who have demonstrated their righteousness are admitted to the temple
Fire descended from heaven and filled the house when Solomon's temple was dedicated (2 Chron 7:1-3) No fire has descended from heaven at the dedication of any Mormon temple
Any man "with a blemish" was barred from the temple; blemishes are listed at Lev 21:17-23 - blind, lame, flat nose, brokenfooted, brokenhanded, crookbacked, dwarf, eye blemish, or "broken" testicles Men with facial hair are barred from officiating in the temple; no physical problem or "blemish" is a bar to entering
(But having undergone a gender-change operation is a bar)
Primary purpose of temple worship was to obey the law. No notion of "salvation" or idea of rewards in the afterlife Baptisms, endowments and sealings are primarily to secure blessings in the afterlife - "exaltation" in the highest degree of heaven

Is there nothing the two kinds of temple have in common? Yes, but not much:

  • Both are considered sacred places and referred to as "the house of the Lord"
  • Both are buildings
  • .... with limited admission
  • Ritual plays the primary role in both

...and that's about all they have in common.

This brief comparison shows that there is practically no material similarity between the ancient Jewish temples and the modern Mormon temples. Any claims to similarity merely indicate either a gross ignorance by Mormons of what the Jerusalem temples were like and what they were used for, or a deliberate attempt to deceive prospective converts into accepting the Mormon claim that Mormonism is a "restoration of all things."

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© 2008 Richard Packham Permission granted to reproduce for non-commercial purposes, provided text is not changed and this copyright notice is included


About Me

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Michigan, United States
I spent a lot of time deciding if I should write this blog or not. I'm not a great writer and I'm not going to pretend to be. I need to share what I have learned and I might not make some people happy with what I am saying. This blog is a way for me to release the thoughts and feelings that come with knowing I grew up in the wrong religion. A healing process if you will.

How To Read This Blog

Please start with the month of February 2007 and read backwards. This is the most effective way to understand, in order, why I say what I do.

Handmaidens Creed

1.I believe in God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit as one God without beginning or end.
2.I believe the Bible to be the Holy Inspired word of God with full truth and righteousness. No other writing is.
3.I believe that the work of the Lord comes first. Before any temporal thing or person.
4.I believe that grace is a gift and Christ gives that gift freely to all who believe.
5.I believe that the beauty of a woman is contained inside of her and not by what she looks like on the outside.
6.I believe that marriage is sacred and represents the Godhead on earth; two are one just as three are one.
7.I believe that love is more powerful than any other power. Remember, God is love.
8.I believe that tithing is not a part of God's new covenant, free will offerings are. And that doesn't mean just money.
9.I believe that the Aaronic, Levitical, and Melchizedek priesthoods are abolished and Christs Holy Priesthood whom Christ is the "Great High Priest" is eternal.
10.I believe that every believer is a priest in the "Priesthood of Believers".
11.I believe that when two are one, nobody is to separate the one.
12.I believe that Christ is the only way to heaven.
13.I believe that our bodies are temples, not man made buildings.
14.I believe that liars make fools out of others and the liar hates the fool.
15.I believe that all believers are in authority to preach the gospel.
16.I believe that the word 'organization' to describe Christs body is evil and has no place with God.
17.I believe the Americas are not the land of Zion and Christ will return to His origonal land-Israel in the Middle East.
18.I believe that God has set out correct ways of worshiping Him, not man.
19.I believe in holding to the truths of the Bible and not mans understanding of it.
20.I believe that the world is full of evil and Satan can easily gain control over the minds of those who do not profess Christ of the Bible to be their only Messiah.
21.I believe that Saints are those who know the real Savior, Jesus Christ, of whom the Bible speaks of; not the jesus of a cult.