When Sayydina Ibrahim (A) was commanded to build the House of Allah, as in some reports, he was led by an angel on to the site of the Ka'bah and its previously existing foundations hidden under sand dunes.
In any case, the verse under reference does prove one of the merlts of the Ka'bah, that is, it is the first ever house or place of worship. It has been reported in a hadith from the Sayydina that Sayyidna Ab Dharr (Ra) asked the Holy Prophet (SM), 'Which is the first ever masjid in the world?' He said, 'al-Masjid al-Haram.' He sub. mitted again, 'Which masjid comes after that?' He said, 'Masjid Bayt al-Maqdis.' He asked once again, 'What time span separates their building?' He said, 'Forty years.'
In this hadith, it is in relation to the new edifice of the House of Allah that the intervening period between its construction and the initial construction of Bayt al-Maqdis has been determined. As a matter of fact, there are reports which prove that the initial construction of Bayt al-Maqdis was undertaken by Sayyidna Ibrahim (A) forty years after the construction of the Ka'bah. Then comes the construction of Bayt al-Maqdis by Sayyidna Sulayman (A). This too was not a new structure with new foundations, like the Ka'bah. Instead, Sayyidna Sulayman (A) rebuilt it on the original Abrahimic foundations. Thus there remains no contradiction between reports.
The Ka'bah has always been an object of reverence and respect. This fact is pointed out in the expression وضع للناس (set up for the people) in this verse under discussion hinted therein is that the respect and honour in which this House of worship is held will not be limited to a particular nation or group. Instead, the whole humanity will hold it in respect. Allah Almighty has placed a built-in aura of dignity and awe in its presence which draws in the hearts of people automatically.
Here, the word 'Bakkah' means 'Makkah al-Mu'azzamah'. It does not matter whether you say that the letter 'mim has been substituted for 'ba since, in common Arab usage, 'mim is substituted for 'ba, or simply say that 'Bakkah' is an alternate name for 'Makkah.
The Blessings of the Ka'bah
The second merit of Baytullah (the Ka'bah) stated here in this verse is that it is blessed. The word, 'mubiirak' has been derived from 'barakah' which means 'to grow' and 'to sustain'. You can look at this growth factor from two angles. Something may grow in a way that it visibly increases in quantity, but the other possible way of growing is that it adds nothing noteworthy to its quantity, yet it turns out to be so useful in so many situations that it would have usually needed much more to do the same job. In that sense this too could be regarded as 'growth' or 'increase'.