The stones were piled and ready. Costly wood had been purchased. The necessary metal was at hand. The Jews of Jerusalem were rejoicing. Tomorrow—May 20, 363 A.D.—the rebuilding of the Temple would begin! Almost 200 years after the Roman Legions under Titus had destroyed the Temple, the Emperor Julian—called by his Christian subjects “the Apostate”—had given his imperial permission to rebuild the Temple. The Jewish people eagerly responded.
We do not know what was playing on the stage of the theater at Petra on May 20, nor whether services were being held in the temple of Dhu-Shara or the temple of Al ‘Uzza-Atargatis. But a recently discovered document has revealed a curious link between the Jerusalemite plans to rebuild the Temple and the life of the Nabataeans living at Petra on that date.