Why did King Solomon build the temple, rather than his father, King David?
The answer is found in Chronicles, when David speaks to his son and says to him:

“My son, I wanted to build a House for the name of the Lord my God. But the word of the Lord came to me, saying, ‘You have shed much blood and fought great battles; you shall not build a House for My name for you have shed much blood on the earth in My sight. But you will have a son who will be a man at rest, for I will give him rest from all his enemies on all sides; Solomon will be his name and I shall confer peace and quiet on Israel in his time.’” (I Chronicles 22)

Yesterday, we celebrated Israel’s 68 years of independence. It is an appropriate time to examine ourselves and look at the values we live by and act on, in light of the lesson embedded in God’s words to David. King David did not build the temple because his hands were soiled with blood. It was not stated that David spilt blood unlawfully, but rather simply that he was a man of war, who shed blood abundantly – even if the bloodshed he carried out was justifiable.
God’s words to David express a worldview in which war, even if just or necessary, is seen as an evil that damages the souls of anyone involved in it, to the point that King David became unfit to build the house of God, due to the blood on his hands.
Before Israel was established and for the last 68 years of our lives here, there were times in which war was, indeed, a necessary evil. However, this recognition does not exempt us from constantly asking the following questions: Is the bloodshed necessary? Has war become an end in and of itself, instead of being a means to peace and justice? Next month we will mark 49 years of occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. 49 years after the Six-Day War, Israel is still entangled in a complex and costly occupation, one which is characterized by military rule and civilian settlement in the West Bank, alongside continued partial military control of the Gaza Strip.
[pullquote] There are those who purport to describe our protracted military occupation of the territories as a ‘’temporary project,’’ and as a necessary part of our “security.” It is hard to take this claim seriously.
[/pullquote]There are those who purport to describe our protracted military occupation of the territories as a ‘’temporary project,’’ and as a necessary part of our “security.” It is hard to take this claim seriously. Decades-long military rule over millions of Palestinians who have no basic human or civil rights, the expropriation of land and resources, the establishment and expansion of civilian settlements replete with high-quality infrastructure – such things do not contribute to Israeli security. Rather, the opposite is true. They entrench hatred between Israelis and Palestinians, perpetuate bloodshed and ensure, as Prime Minister Netanyahu said a few months ago, that we will ‘’forever live by the sword.’’
We will forever fill our calendars with death-counts. In 2015, the death-count stemmed largely from the resumption of the violent Palestinian uprising and from the harsh response by Israel’s security apparatus. In 2014, the death-count centered around Operation Protective Edge in Gaza. And the list goes on and on. We aren’t solely responsible for all of the bloodshed; we can only assume responsibility for our policies and our actions.
Control over another people is not and cannot be a moral mission. [pullquote align=left] … the routine raids Israeli soldiers conduct in the West Bank in the middle of the night in the homes of Palestinians who are not suspected of doing anything wrong. The purpose of these raids is to make the IDF’s “presence known” and to instill fear in the population so as to deter it from rising up in any way, shape or form (whether violently or non-violently). These and other such operations require that soldiers see all the Palestinians first and foremost as potential threats that must be preemptively neutralized and only secondarily as human beings.
[/pullquote]Take the example of the routine raids Israeli soldiers conduct in the West Bank in the middle of the night in the homes of Palestinians who are not suspected of doing anything wrong. The purpose of these raids is to make the IDF’s “presence known” and to instill fear in the population so as to deter it from rising up in any way, shape or form (whether violently or non-violently). These and other such operations require that soldiers see all the Palestinians first and foremost as potential threats that must be preemptively neutralized and only secondarily as human beings. As the occupation nears its 49th year, this worldview has been adopted by the Israeli public at large.
The vision of those who founded the state, as inscribed in the Declaration of Independence, was of a state based on the principles of freedom, justice and peace, as envisioned by Israel’s prophets. This Independence Day, alongside celebrations of our national freedom, we must ask ourselves if we have fulfilled the dream of our founding fathers, or whether the ongoing occupation of the Palestinian people prevents us from establishing a society based on freedom, justice and peace. If the latter is true, as I believe it is, then our prayers and goals for the next year should be about making the vision of freedom, justice and peace a reality.


Yehuda Shaul served as an infantry combat soldier and commander in the IDF during the Second Intifada, and is a founding member of Breaking the Silence.