Werner Braun

The Arad temple consists of a long room entered through one short wall; opposite the entrance, another entryway leads to the temple shrine. Steps flanked by limestone incense altars lead up to a niche, or Holy of Holies. In this 4-by-4-foot niche, two standing stones rise against the rear wall. The standing stones and altars are replicas, placed in position after the original artifacts were removed for safekeeping to the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.

According to one interpretation, when the Israelites built their first fortress at Arad in the tenth century B.C.E., they included a temple containing this Holy of Holies. Although they modified their fortress through the centuries, they preserved the temple. Finally, the temple was abolished in the late seventh century B.C.E., perhaps during the religious reform by King Josiah, who, like King Hezekiah before him, aimed to make the Jerusalem Temple the focus of worship throughout the land. Another view of the Arad temple maintains that it was not built until the seventh century B.C.E. and was destroyed about a century later.