The Temple Mount

The Temple Mount in Jerusalem first appears in the Bible as one of the mountains of the land of Moriah, the place where Abraham nearly sacrificed his son Isaac and built an altar (Gen. 22:2).  
King David purchased the area and erected an altar to God (2 Sam 24). 
 Later, both the First and Second Temples were built on top of the mount.  (2 Chr 3:1).  
According to Jewish tradition, this summit serves as the center of the world 
and the foundation of the entire universe.

  David's son, King Solomon, erected the First Temple here and dedicated it in the tenth century B.C.            In 586 B.C., the Babylonians totally destroyed the splendid First Temple and took the chief citizens of Judah into exile.  (2 Kings 25)   When the Babylonians lost Judea to the Persians, King Cyrus gave permission for the exiles to return home and to start work rebuilding.   The Jews built the Second Temple and dedicated it around 515 B.C.  In 27 B.C.,  Herod the Great was declared King of Judea.  Prior to Jesus' birth, Herod began to renovate the Temple in grand style.  The Temple Mount and the Temple itself were impressive for the technology used to build it, its splendor and its size.   The beauty of the temple has been mentioned throughout history. 
The Temple Mount replica of 70 A.D. 
However, the Second Temple was destroyed in A.D. 70 by the Romans.  As prophesied by Jesus, not one stone was left upon another in its destruction.  (Luke 21:5-6) 

During the second century A.D, the Romans rebuilt the city as a Roman colony and built their own pagan temple, dedicated to the god Jupiter over the site of the Temple Mount.  To add further insult, they forbade Jews from entering the holy city. 
Roman coin commemorating the triumph over Judea.  The Latin inscription reads "JUDEA CAPTA".  

During the Byzantine era, after Christianity became the official religion of the empire, 
Jerusalem became a Christian city.   But, the temple Mount remained desolate as a
 reminder of Jesus' prophecy about it (Mark 13:2). 

In A.D. 614, the Persians conquered Jerusalem, burning Christian churches and monasteries.   
But in A.D. 628, it was returned to Byzantine hands and efforts were made to restore the city once again.  Only 10 years later, Jerusalem fell to the Muslim Arabs.  The Caliph Omar 
identified the Temple Mount as the spot where the prophet Muhammad ascended
 into heaven and thereafter built the first mosque on the Mount.   
Today there are two structures standing on the Temple Mount; 
The Dome of the Rock and the El Aqsa Mosque.
The Al-Aqsa Mosque is known as the third holiest site in Islam.  Muslims believe that Muhammad was transported from the Mosque in Mecca to Al-Aqsa during the Night Journey.   The original mosques were destroyed by earthquakes on numerous occasions, so this is the 5th mosque that has been built in this same location.  When the Crusaders captured Jerusalem in 1099, they used the mosque as a palace and church, but its function as a mosque was restored in 1187 after its recapture.  

This is another view of the dome and one of the minarets of Al Aqsa. 

The Quran is being taught to women on the Temple Mount.  The Bible is not allowed past security and we were checked to make sure that we were not wearing crosses which could be seen.

Muslim men are studying and discussing the Quran separately.

This is the ritual bath used by Muslims before entering the mosques on the Temple Mount.  

The Dome of the Rock is said to be one of the most beautiful shrines in the Islamic world and
 one of the most exquisite landmarks in Jerusalem.  The golden dome was erected directly 
above the rock, where the Muslims believe that Mohammad ascended into heaven.  
This building is the most ancient Muslim monument in the Holy Land   
We didn't go inside, since it is only open to those in the Muslim faith.  

Mother stands in front of the mosque with her head covering.  
The detailing on this building really was beautiful, but it seemed to be such a sacrilege
 to be located on the same Holy site of the Old Temple Mount.    

We traveled with a wonderful group of travel agents from all over the USA. 
We were in time for prayers at the entrance to the Dome of the Rock.
The view through ancient arches was so picturesque.  

Guards were everywhere.  Today, the mosques remain under the administration
 of the Palestinian-led Islamic waqf, but the Old City is still under Israeli control.

Leaving the temple mount area by way of an old 'gate' leading into the Muslim area of the city.  

I love rugs....and thought that this one was just beautiful!
Maybe our next trip there will be more time for shopping! :) 
We saw olive trees all over the old city, full of fruit.  This picture was taken right outside of the Temple Mount where we stopped to rest before continuing our day.   

On to the Pools of Bethesda......


Janet said…
What a wonderful experience in being allowed to visit some of the parts of the Temple Mount. I'm so jealous!! Even if you didn't get to go inside, you were allowed to go to more places than when I was there. Your history notes are excellent! Thanks for sharing!


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