Friday, June 3, 2011

The Temple Mount

The Temple Mount, less than 50 acres of land, is the center of the world and the hottest piece of real estate anywhere on earth. It is the holiest site on earth for the Jews, the third most holy site for the Muslims, and, for Christians, its most exciting history is still ahead. The Temple Mount is the northern edge of the city of Jerusalem. Mount Zion, which is sometimes used to refer to the whole of Jerusalem, is on the west and Mount Ophel is on the east. They are separated by the Tyropoeon Valley.

In light of its significance to Jews and Muslims, it is one of the most contested religious sites in the world. Controlled by Israel since 1967, both Israel and the Palestinian Authority claim sovereignty over the site, which remains a major focal point of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Israel has turned over management of the site to an Islamic council, known as the Muslim Waqf. In an attempt to keep the status quo, the Israeli government enforces a controversial ban on prayer by non-Muslim visitors.

The Temple Mount, or Mount Moriah, is traditionally the place where the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground Gen. 2:7 and where Abraham bound Isaac for sacrifice. Genesis 22:1-14



This is our first up close and personal look at the Old City wall as we approached the Temple Mount. We entered at the Morocco or Mugrabi Gate. It is the only gate that allows non-Muslims to enter the area.





You are looking at the southwest corner of the wall around the Temple Mount. The Pinnacle of the Temple, where Jesus was tempted by the devil, has been traditionally associated with the southeastern corner of the Temple Mount because of the great height above the Kidron Valley below. The recent discovery of an inscribed stone at the southwest corner, however, indicated that corner was "the place of trumpeting" (blowing of the Shofar) and has raised the possibility that the second temptation of Jesus took place there. At the time of Jesus the wall would have been higher.

Then the devil took Him into the holy city and had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down; for it is written, ‘He will command His angels concerning You; and ‘On their hands they will bear You up, so that You will not strike Your foot against a stone.’” Jesus said to him “On the other hand, it is written, You shall not put the LORD your GOD to the test.” Matt. 4:5-7


We had to go through additional security in order to enter the Temple Mount. We had a very long day ahead of us. Precept always plans to go to the Temple Mount the first day they are in Jerusalem, because it is never a sure thing that visitors will be admitted. If they are not admitted the first day, then they try each day that they are there. We were lucky to be admitted our first day, even if it meant a longer day with more sites to see.



This is our first glimpse of the Western Wall. We walked by it as we entered the Mugrabi Gate. However, we will be back later in the morning.


Although this is not my picture, it does show the way we entered the Temple Mount.





Entrance to Al Aqsa mosque… This is the first building you come to upon entering the temple mount. Visitors are strictly limited to certain areas and times of day. The mosque is situated on the lower platform of the Temple Mount which is built over massive vaults and pillars. The southeast corner of the lower platform next to the mosque is where Solomon’s stables were located. The stables were added to during the time of the Crusaders. Visitors may not access these areas.

During the Crusades, the Dome of the Rock was given to the Augustinians, who turned it into a church, and the Al-Aqsa Mosque became the royal palace of Baldwin I of Jerusalem in 1104. The Knights Templar, who believed the Dome of the Rock was the site of the Temple of Solomon gave it the name "Templum Domini" and set up their headquarters in the Al-Aqsa Mosque adjacent to the Dome for much of the 12th century.




I surreptitiously took these pictures.



The Dome of the Rock.. Some rabbinical scholars place the holy of holies of the Temple where the Dome of the Rock stands. It was built to rival the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. The arches are called the Graceful Arcade.


The al-Kas ablution fountain on the southern portion of the lower platform.



The exterior walls of the  Dome of the Rock are covered with Persian blue tiles, originally installed by the Ottoman sultan Suleiman the Magnificent in the mid-16th century. In 1994, under the auspices of Jordan's king Hussein, the dome was completely reconstructed and re-gilded with 176 lbs. of 24-karat gold.



Inside the Dome of the Rock is a large stone on which it is said Abraham offered Isaac as a sacrifice. The first and second temples were supposedly built either over the rock or next to the rock.

David purchased this piece of land, “the threshing floor,” from Ornan the Jebusite for 50 shekels of silver to build an altar to the Lord. His son Solomon took seven years to build a small but beautiful Temple here. Inside, stood the Ark of the Covenant containing the tablets of stone which Moses had received on Mount Sinai (I Kings 6,7).



The rock in the Dome of the Rock…






















Kenny had to be serious and scrupulous in his “guiding” while we were on the Temple Mount. One year he was thrown out because he was either laughing, or laughing too loudly. One of our bus mates had on a too short skirt and she was not allowed to enter the area. She was able to buy a scarf and tie it around her knees and then she was allowed to join the group. 

Orthodox Jews do not visit the Temple Mount. There are differing opinions about where the holy of holies lay underneath the pavement, so they don’t want to risk inadvertently walking on top of it. Kenny was discussing some of the different viewpoints. Some of the pictures below are pictures of where some of the scholars say that the holy of holies might lay. No one except Muslims are allowed to pray on the mount.












There are various other domed structures on the upper platform: the Dome of the Chain, constructed in the 8th century; the Dome of the Ascension; the Dome of the Prophet; the Dome of the Prophet Elijah; and the Grammar Dome.
































The plaza on top of the Temple Mount is as large as 12 football fields.





This is the back of the Golden Gate, or Mercy Gate, or the East Gate. It is very significant to Christians.





Look down from heaven and see from Your holy and glorious habitation; where are Your zeal and Your mighty deeds? The stirrings of Your heart and Your compassion are restrained toward me. For You are our Father, though Abraham does not know us and Israel does not recognize us. You, O LORD, are our Father, Our Redeemer from of old is Your name. Why, O LORD, do You cause us to stray from Your ways and harden our heart from fearing You? Return for the sake of Your servants, the tribes of Your heritage. Your holy people possessed Your sanctuary for a little while, our adversaries have trodden it down. We have become like those over whom You have never ruled, like those who were not called by Your name. Isaiah 63:15-19

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