I was recently on holiday in Israel and Jordan on a tour that focussed on biblical and archaeological sites. As part of the tour, we visited Tel Arad which was probably built around 1100 BCE and destroyed around 600 BCE.
Initially, I was surprised that the remains of a temple can be found on the Tel because up to then I had assumed the first and only Israelite centre of worship to be the temple in Jerusalem. Retrospectively, I realise that that was a silly assumption to make.
However, after the heyday of Tel Arad, when returning from the Babylonian exile, rebuilding the Jerusalem temple was one of the prime objectives of the Israelites and after the Romans destroyed the second Temple diaspora started, suggesting that the Jerusalem temple was somehow very important in the perception of the Israelites/Jews. Thus my questions:
Can we assume that the temple of Jerusalem has typically been the most important for Israelites, both pre-exile and post-exile?
Does evidence exist that smaller temples were closed down in favour of the Jerusalem one even pre-exile?
When returning from the Babylonian exile, is there again evidence for multiple temples built and used other than the ‘central’ one in Jerusalem?
If the answer to the previous question is ‘yes’, have these minor temple sites been closed down prior to the Roman destuction of the second temple?
Is synagogue merely a new name for temple or did synagogues and temples co-exist during the period of the second temple (and potentially pre-exile)?
I realise that especially in the pre-exile period, temples such as the one in Tel Arad were often not exclusively used to worship the Jewish God but also to worship Baal, Asherah and potentially others. It only takes a skim of the relevant books of prophets to realise that. However, I would like this question to ignore other gods and concentrate solely on the worship of the god of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
When using exile in this post, I am consistently only referring to the Babylonian exile, not to one in Egypt whether it can be proven or not.