Herod and the Temple Mount

Herod and the Temple Mount

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Temple Mount in Bible Prophecy

Jerusalem&rsquos Temple Mount has an ancient biblical history, going back as far as 1800 B.C. when Abraham, being tested by God, came to Mount Moriah to offer his son Isaac (Genesis 22:2, 12). The site came to be known as the &ldquoMount of the LORD&rdquo (verse 14).

Four hundred years later Moses referred to this site after leading the Israelites out of Egypt (Exodus 15:17). Four centuries after that, King David purchased this site for the location of a future temple (1 Chronicles 21:18-24 2 Chronicles 3:1).

The first and second temples

The first and second temples were erected on this site following Solomon&rsquos construction of the platform with its huge foundational stones that leveled the surface of the rounded hilltop. The first temple, dedicated around 960 B.C., lasted for about 375 years until it was destroyed by the final Babylonian invasion in 586 B.C. (2 Chronicles 36:17-20). All of the sacred articles in the temple were carried off to Babylon to completely destroy this sacred Israelite religious site (2 Chronicles 36:18 Daniel 5:2-4).

A remnant of Jewish captives eventually returned to Jerusalem and built a second temple on the same site. More than four centuries later Herod the Great rebuilt and beautified this second temple, and it was to this edifice that Jesus came (John 2:20).

For more details and information about the biblical history of the Temple Mount, see our Life, Hope & Truth article &ldquoTemple Mount: Its History and Future.&rdquo

Even after the second temple was destroyed by the Romans in A.D. 70, the mount upon which it stood continued to be a vital site in world events. Both temples were at the center of major global conflicts led by the greatest world powers of their times. And even after the second temple was destroyed by the Romans in A.D. 70, the mount upon which it stood continued to be a vital site in world events.

A.D. 70 to the Muslim conquest

After the Jewish revolt in A.D. 135, the Romans ordered that no Jews could enter the city upon penalty of death. They renamed Jerusalem Aelia Capitolina, as it would be known for the next 200 years.

By A.D. 661 the Muslims had taken control of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount. In 685 Abd al-Malik became the Muslim commander in Damascus and Jerusalem, and he dreamed of building a mosque, the Dome of the Rock, on the very site of Solomon&rsquos temple. Author Simon Sebag Montefiore described the Muslim commander&rsquos motivation in his book Jerusalem: The Biography, &ldquoAbd al-Malik was rebuilding the Jewish Temple for the true revelation of God, Islam. &hellip After it was finished in 691/2, Jerusalem was never the same again&rdquo (2011, p. 191).

The Temple Mount has remained under the control of various Muslim peoples and states for most of the years since.

The Crusades and global conflict

In 1095 Pope Urban II demanded the conquest of Jerusalem for the Catholic Church. As Montefiore wrote, &ldquoUrban saw his life&rsquos mission as the restoration of the power and reputation of the Catholic Church&rdquo (p. 218).

In the summer of 1099 the first of the Crusades captured Jerusalem and the Temple Mount from the Muslims. The ensuing slaughter of Muslims and Jews in Jerusalem in the name of Christianity was absolutely appalling. People were decapitated and limbs were severed and thrown in the streets.

Montefiore wrote that as the crusaders &ldquofought their way towards the Dome &hellip they rode in blood up to their bridles&rdquo (p. 222). This is reminiscent of the Bible&rsquos description of the future time when blood will run &ldquoup to the horses&rsquo bridles&rdquo in the Kidron Valley in Jerusalem at the second coming of Jesus Christ (Joel 3:12-14 Revelation 14:20).

Jerusalem and the Temple Mount continued to be the center of conflict between Catholic crusaders and Muslims for the next 200 years.

From the Crusades to the Ottomans

At the beginning of the 14th century a new political power entered as the Muslim Ottoman Turks took control of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount and held it for 450 years until the end of World War I.

Their most notable ruler was Suleiman the Magnificent (1520-1566) who made a lasting impact on the Temple Mount. Known by many Muslim scholars as &ldquothe second Solomon,&rdquo Suleiman rebuilt and sealed up the Golden Gate or the eastern gate of the Temple Mount that faces the Mount of Olives.

This gate will most likely remain closed until Christ sets His feet on the Mount of Olives (Zechariah 14:4 Acts 1:9-12).

The Jewish state

On Nov. 2, 1917, England&rsquos foreign minister, Arthur James Balfour, signed the famous Balfour Declaration mandating a Jewish homeland in Palestine. That idea faced great opposition from the Arabs and the British government over the next 30 years, but on May 14, 1948, David Ben-Gurion, Israel&rsquos first prime minister, declared the establishment of the State of Israel.

Israel won the intense war that immediately followed, but the old city of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount remained in the hands of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.

The epicenter of end-time global conflict

After capturing the old city of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount in the Six-Day War in June 1967, Israel left the administration of the Temple Mount under Muslim control while maintaining its military control. But conflict, controversy and tension continue to boil to this day.

Zechariah prophesied about conflict in the &ldquolatter days&rdquo over Israel and Jerusalem that would include the Temple Mount. &ldquoBehold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of drunkenness to all the surrounding peoples, when they lay siege against Judah and Jerusalem. And it shall happen in that day that I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all peoples all who would heave it away will surely be cut in pieces, though all nations of the earth are gathered against it&rdquo (Zechariah 12:2-3).

These scriptures pointing to the Jewish state in what the Bible calls the &ldquoend times&rdquo show Jerusalem with its Temple Mount will be like a &ldquoheavy stone for all peoples&rdquo because different &ldquopeoples&rdquo and nations will continually try to wrest control of it.

Jesus predicted global conflict at the Temple Mount

Prior to the Passover in the spring of A.D. 31, Jesus spoke to His disciples from the Mount of Olives about the future of the temple. He predicted that it would be thoroughly destroyed, which did occur almost 40 years later in A.D. 70 (Matthew 24:1-2).

In Luke&rsquos account of this prophecy Jesus spoke of Jerusalem being surrounded by armies &ldquothat all things which are written [in the prophecies of the Old Testament] may be fulfilled,&rdquo and the people will &ldquobe led away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled&rdquo (Luke 21:22-24).

Many Jews were slaughtered in the uprising that ended in the destruction of the temple in A.D. 70, but the survivors were not &ldquoled away captive into all nations.&rdquo So this statement indicates a massive invasion of Jerusalem lies yet in the future before Christ returns.

Jesus said this future invasion will lead to the &ldquo&lsquoabomination of desolation&rsquo spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place,&rdquo which will most likely be on the Temple Mount (Matthew 24:15).

As Jesus clearly pointed out to His disciples, Jerusalem and the Temple Mount will continue to be the epicenter of global conflict until His second coming.

Finally, peace will come

After thousands of years of global conflict, peace will come to Jerusalem and the Temple Mount when Jesus sets His feet on the Mount of Olives and becomes &ldquoKing over all the earth&rdquo (Zechariah 14:4, 9).

One of the beginning works of that time of peace will be to build a new Temple complex including a new temple more beautiful than any of the past (Ezekiel 43:1-7).

The annual Feast of Tabernacles, which was kept by Jesus during His ministry (John 7:37-39), will be centered at the Temple Mount where Jesus will dwell on this earth (Zechariah 14:16-19). The world will learn the beauty of participating in this wonderful feast, which pictures the 1,000-year rule of Jesus Christ and His saints on this earth (Revelation 20:4), and worshipping the Prince of Peace, the King of Kings.

If you would like to know more about this festival and its meaning, please go to the Life, Hope & Truth Learning Center and download our booklet From Holidays to Holy Days: God&rsquos Plan for You.

Jim Haeffele

Jim Haeffele is a church pastor in the Church of God, a Worldwide Association. He currently pastors congregations in Fort Myers, Miami and West Palm Beach, Florida. He has served in the ministry of the Church of God for over 46 years. During those years he and his wife, Lois, have served congregations from Portland, Oregon, where he grew up, to Utah, Ohio, North Carolina, and now Florida.

Herod Rebuilds Temple

According to Jewish historian Josephus, the Judean king of Idumean descent, Herod the Great (74/73 BC-4 BC) decided to build a magnificent temple of God in the 18th year of his reign (listed as 20 BC on the Biblical Timeline). He proposed an expansion of the original second temple (one built under the leadership of Zerubbabel) first built during the time of the Achaemenids and continued during the time of the Macedonians. Herod spoke to the people of Jerusalem about this idea, but they were not enthusiastic at first because they feared that Herod might tear it down again. After he had reassured them that he would not tear it down, the people agreed to this magnificent building project.

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As much as ten thousand workmen were chosen to help build the temple, according to Josephus, and it was one of the biggest construction projects at the time. It was located on the northern portion of Mount Moriah and dominated the Kidron and Tyropoeon Valleys. The retaining walls were made of large cut stone blocks that were skillfully put together so well that they can still be visited today. However, the inner courts and temple themselves were destroyed many years ago. The inner portion of the walls were enclosed with porticoes or cloisters.

It had the same dimensions as that of Solomon’s temple which measured 60 cubits long, 20 cubits wide, and 40 cubits high. The courts were divided into four: one for priests, one for Jewish males, one for women, and the last one for Gentiles. Four storage chambers were built at each corner of the women’s courtyard: the Chamber of Lepers, Chamber of Wood, Chamber of the Nazarites, and the Chamber of Oils.

Herod enlarged the length of the temple area, but not its width and according to Josephus and the Mishnah, had several gates that led to the outer court. It had an inner court which led to the sanctuary where the altar was located and where non-Jews were forbidden to enter. The enclosure had nine gates: four on the northern wall, four on the southern wall, one on the eastern wall, and none on the western portion. Two were reserved for women (one on the north and one on the southern end) while six were reserved only for men. Next to the women’s courtyard was the Gate of Nicanor, the largest gate leading to the temple, which measured 50 cubits high and 40 cubits wide.

The temple itself towered up to 15 stories high and divided into the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies. The Holy Place contained the altar of incense, the seven-branched golden candlestick, and the table of the shewbread. It led to an inner sanctuary called the Holy of Holies, which the Jews considered as the dwelling place of God. The Ark of Covenant was located inside, and divided from the Holy Place by a curtain or veil. The magnificent decorations of the temple were covered in with silver, gold, and bronze.

According to John 2:20, it took forty-six years for the temple to be completed, but it was only completed during the procuratorship of Albius. Which means it took more than eighty years to complete the temple. It was destroyed by fire less than a decade later by the Romans when Jerusalem was besieged by Titus.

Scriptures and the Temple

Here are some Scriptures from one of the famous topical Bible Dictionaries that every student of the Bible might want to check ouit.

HEROD THE GREAT'S TEMPLE (From Naves Topical Bible)

20 Then the Jews said, "It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?"

21 But He was speaking of the temple of His body.

22 Therefore, when He had risen from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this to them and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had said.

Very beautiful stones of the Temple

1 Then as He went out of the temple, one of His disciples said to Him, "Teacher, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here!"

2 And Jesus answered and said to him, "Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone shall be left upon another, that shall not be thrown down."

Magnificence of the Temple

1 Then Jesus went out and departed from the temple, and His disciples came up to show Him the buildings of the temple.

2 And Jesus said to them, "Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down."

10 Then they knew that it was he who sat begging alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.

23 And Jesus walked in the temple, in Solomon's porch.

24 Then the Jews surrounded Him and said to Him, "How long do You keep us in doubt? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly."

11 Now as the lame man who was healed held on to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them in the porch which is called Solomon's, greatly amazed.

12 So when Peter saw it, he responded to the people: "Men of Israel, why do you marvel at this? Or why look so intently at us, as though by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk?

12 And through the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were done among the people. And they were all with one accord in Solomon's Porch.

13 Yet none of the rest dared join them, but the people esteemed them highly.

41 Now Jesus sat opposite the treasury and saw how the people put money into the treasury. And many who were rich put in much.

42 Then one poor widow came and threw in two mites, which make a quadrans.

43 So He called His disciples to Himself and said to them, "Assuredly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury

44 for they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood."

Zacharias, officiating priest in the Temple, has a vision of an angel receives promise of a son

21 And the people waited for Zacharias, and marveled that he lingered so long in the temple.

22 But when he came out, he could not speak to them and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple, for he beckoned to them and remained speechless.

Jesus brought to the Temple, according to the law and custom

57 Now Elizabeth's full time came for her to be delivered, and she brought forth a son.

58 When her neighbors and relatives heard how the Lord had shown great mercy to her, they rejoiced with her.

59 Circumcision of John the Baptist. So it was, on the eighth day, that they came to circumcise the child and they would have called him by the name of his father, Zacharias.

60 His mother answered and said, "No he shall be called John."

Simeon blesses the infant Jesus in the Temple

25 And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.

26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ.

27 So he came by the Spirit into the temple. And when the parents brought in the Child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the law,

28 he took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said:

29 "Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace,

30 For my eyes have seen Your salvation

31 Which You have prepared before the face of all peoples,

32 A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, And the glory of Your people Israel."

36 Now there was one, Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, and had lived with a husband seven years from her virginity

37 and this woman was a widow of about eighty-four years, who did not depart from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.

38 And coming in that instant she gave thanks to the Lord, and spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem.

Jesus in the Temple, when a youth

46 Now so it was that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. 47 And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers. 48 So when they saw Him, they were amazed and His mother said to Him, "Son, why have You done this to us? Look, Your father and I have sought You anxiously."

49 And He said to them, "Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father's business?"

50 But they did not understand the statement which He spoke to them

Jesus taken to the pinnacle of the Temple, during his temptation

5 Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple,

6 and said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: 'He shall give His angels charge over you,' and, 'In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.'"

7 Jesus said to him, "It is written again, 'You shall not tempt the LORD your God.'"

Jesus teaches in the Temple

27 Then they came again to Jerusalem. And as He was walking in the temple, the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders came to Him.

28 And they said to Him, "By what authority are You doing these things? And who gave You this authority to do these things?"

35 Then Jesus answered and said, while He taught in the temple, "How is it that the scribes say that the Christ is the Son of David?

36 For David himself said by the Holy Spirit: 'The LORD said to my Lord, "Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool."'

37 Therefore David himself calls Him 'Lord' how is He then his Son?"

48 Then Jesus answered and said to them, "Have you come out, as against a robber, with swords and clubs to take Me?

49 I was daily with you in the temple teaching, and you did not seize Me. But the Scriptures must be fulfilled."

14 Afterward Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, "See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you."

14 Now about the middle of the feast Jesus went up into the temple and taught.

15 And the Jews marveled, saying, "How does this Man know letters, having never studied?"

2 Now early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came to Him and He sat down and taught them.

3 Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery.

23 And Jesus walked in the temple, in Solomon's porch.

24 Then the Jews surrounded Him and said to Him, "How long do You keep us in doubt? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly."

20 Jesus answered him, "I spoke openly to the world. I always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where the Jews always meet, and in secret I have said nothing.

21 Why do you ask Me? Ask those who have heard Me what I said to them. Indeed they know what I said."

22 And when He had said these things, one of the officers who stood by struck Jesus with the palm of his hand, saying, "Do You answer the high priest like that?"

Jesus performs miracles in the Temple

14 Then the blind and the lame came to Him in the temple, and He healed them.

15 But when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that He did, and the children crying out in the temple and saying, "Hosanna to the Son of David!" they were indignant

16 and said to Him, "Do You hear what these are saying?" And Jesus said to them, "Yes. Have you never read, 'Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants You have perfected praise'?"

12 Then Jesus went into the temple of God and drove out all those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves.

13 And He said to them, "It is written, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer,' but you have made it a 'den of thieves.'"

52 Then Jesus said to the chief priests, captains of the temple, and the elders who had come to Him, "Have you come out, as against a robber, with swords and clubs?

53 When I was with you daily in the temple, you did not try to seize Me. But this is your hour, and the power of darkness."

1 Now as they spoke to the people, the priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees came upon them,

2 being greatly disturbed that they taught the people and preached in Jesus the resurrection from the dead.

3 And they laid hands on them, and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening.

4 However, many of those who heard the word believed and the number of the men came to be about five thousand.

24 Now when the high priest, the captain of the temple, and the chief priests heard these things, they wondered what the outcome would be.

25 So one came and told them, saying, "Look, the men whom you put in prison are standing in the temple and teaching the people!"

26 Then the captain went with the officers and brought them without violence, for they feared the people, lest they should be stoned.

27 And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest asked them,

28 saying,"Did we not strictly command you not to teach in this name? And look, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this Man's blood on us!"

5 Then he threw down the pieces of silver in the temple and departed, and went and hanged himself.

6 But the chief priests took the silver pieces and said, "It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, because they are the price of blood."

7 And they consulted together and bought with them the potter's field, to bury strangers in.

8 Therefore that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day.

51 Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split,

The disciples worship in the Temple, after the resurrection

50 And He led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them.

51 Now it came to pass, while He blessed them, that He was parted from them and carried up into heaven.

52 And they worshiped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy,

53 and were continually in the temple praising and blessing God. Amen.

46 So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart,

47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.

Peter heals the lame man at the gate of the Temple

1 Now Peter and John went up together to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour.

2 And a certain man lame from his mother's womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms from those who entered the temple

3 who, seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, asked for alms.

4 And fixing his eyes on him, with John, Peter said, "Look at us."

5 So he gave them his attention, expecting to receive something from them.

6 Then Peter said, "Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk."

20 "Go, stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this life."

21 And when they heard that, they entered the temple early in the morning and taught. But the high priest and those with him came and called the council together, with all the elders of the children of Israel, and sent to the prison to have them brought.

42 And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.

17 "Now it happened, when I returned to Jerusalem and was praying in the temple, that I was in a trance

18 and saw Him saying to me, 'Make haste and get out of Jerusalem quickly, for they will not receive your testimony concerning Me.'

19 So I said, 'Lord, they know that in every synagogue I imprisoned and beat those who believe on You.

20 And when the blood of Your martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by consenting to his death, and guarding the clothes of those who were killing him.'

21 Then He said to me, 'Depart, for I will send you far from here to the Gentiles.'"

Paul observes the rights of the Temple

26 Then Paul took the men, and the next day, having been purified with them, entered the temple to announce the expiration of the days of purification, at which time an offering should be made for each one of them.

27 Now when the seven days were almost ended, the Jews from Asia, seeing him in the temple, stirred up the whole crowd and laid hands on him,

28 crying out, "Men of Israel, help! This is the man who teaches all men everywhere against the people, the law, and this place and furthermore he also brought Greeks into the temple and has defiled this holy place."

29 (For they had previously seen Trophimus the Ephesian with him in the city, whom they supposed that Paul had brought into the temple.)

30 And all the city was disturbed and the people ran together, seized Paul, and dragged him out of the temple and immediately the doors were shut.

Paul is apprehended in the Temple

33 Then the commander came near and took him, and commanded him to be bound with two chains and he asked who he was and what he had done.

34 And some among the multitude cried one thing and some another. So when he could not ascertain the truth because of the tumult, he commanded him to be taken into the barracks.

35 When he reached the stairs, he had to be carried by the soldiers because of the violence of the mob.

36 For the multitude of the people followed after, crying out," Away with him!"

Prophecies concerning the Temple's destruction, by Daniel

11 He even exalted himself as high as the Prince of the host and by him the daily sacrifices were taken away, and the place of His sanctuary was cast down.

12 Because of transgression, an army was given over to the horn to oppose the daily sacrifices and he cast truth down to the ground. He did all this and prospered.

13 Then I heard a holy one speaking and another holy one said to that certain one who was speaking, "How long will the vision be, concerning the daily sacrifices and the transgression of desolation, the giving of both the sanctuary and the host to be trampled underfoot?"

14 And he said to me, "For two thousand three hundred days then the sanctuary shall be cleansed."

30 For ships from Cyprus shall come against him therefore he shall be grieved, and return in rage against the holy covenant, and do damage. "So he shall return and show regard for those who forsake the holy covenant.

31 And forces shall be mustered by him, and they shall defile the sanctuary fortress then they shall take away the daily sacrifices, and place there the abomination of desolation.

Jesus foretells the destruction of the Temple

24:1 Then Jesus went out and departed from the temple, and His disciples came up to show Him the buildings of the temple.

2 And Jesus said to them, "Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down."

3 Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying,"Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?"

4 And Jesus answered and said to them: "Take heed that no one deceives you.

5 For many will come in My name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and will deceive many.

6 And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.

7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places.

8 All these are the beginning of sorrows.

9 "Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name's sake.

10 And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another.

11 Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many.

12 And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.

13 But he who endures to the end shall be saved.

14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.

15 "Therefore when you see the 'abomination of desolation,' spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place" (whoever reads, let him understand),

16 "then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.

17 Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house.

18 And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes.

19 But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days!

20 And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath.

21 For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be.

22 And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved but for the elect's sake those days will be shortened.

23 "Then if anyone says to you, 'Look, here is the Christ!' or 'There!' do not believe it.

24 For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.

25 See, I have told you beforehand.

26 "Therefore if they say to you, 'Look, He is in the desert!' do not go out or 'Look, He is in the inner rooms!' do not believe it.

27 For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.

28 For wherever the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered together.

29 "Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.

30 Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

31 And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

32 "Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near.

33 So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near -- at the doors!

34 Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.

35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.

36 "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.

37 But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.

38 For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark,

39 and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.

40 Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left.

41 Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left.

42 Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming.

43 But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into.

44 Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

45 "Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season?

46 Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing.

47 Assuredly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all his goods.

48 But if that evil servant says in his heart, 'My master is delaying his coming,'

49 and begins to beat his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunkards,

50 the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him and at an hour that he is not aware of,

51 and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Herod and the Temple Mount - HISTORY

34- Temple Mount of the Herod

Click HERE to see actual remains from Herod's Temple further down on this page. Go to the Trumpeting Stone HERE

View of Herod's Temple Mount from the west side.

The west side of the Temple Mount is to the left and the south side is on the right side.

Looking at the southwest corner of the Temple Mount retaining wall.

The south side of Herod's Temple Mount where the Double Gates (left) and the Beautiful Gate (right) can be seen.

View of Herod's Temple Mount from the south. (model)

View of Herod's Temple Mount from the east.

View of Temple from the east side.

Decorative carving in the stone lintel (or, jamb, or, side of the gate) remains from the Beautiful Gate leading into a tunnel that led up to the surface of the Temple Mount..

A decorated stone carving from the Jewish Temple Mount in use during Jesus' day.

Another stone carving from the Herodian Temple Mount.

Decoration from the first century Temple of the Jews

A piece of decorated lintel from the Jewish Temple.

A decorative design from 20 BC-60 AD found in the rubble at the base of the Jewish Temple Mount built by Herod the Great.

A close up of the Trumpeting Stone that was found directly under the southwest corner. The Hebrew inscription can be clearly seen on the railing. It is read
right to left, and says: &ldquoFor the place of trumpeting to . . .&rdquo It appears the rest of the inscription was broken off when Charles Warren dug a tunnel through the rubble
in the 1800&rsquos, and went right through this stone. The rest of the inscription may have said &ldquoFor the place of trumpeting &lsquoto the temple,&rsquo or, &lsquoto herald the Sabbath.&rsquo
Josephus describes this place on the Temple Mount wall when he writes:

Above the roof of the priests&rsquo chambers, . . . it was the custom for one of the priests to stand and to give notice, by sound of trumpet, in the afternoon of the approach, and on the following evening of the close, of every seventh day, announcing to the people the respective hours for ceasing work and for resuming their labors. - Josephus IV:9:12

The remains of Robinson's Arch that supported a stairway, walkway and bridge into the Temple Courts.

The worn steps on the south side of the Temple Mount that led up to one of two gates that led worshippers up tunnels onto the surface of the Temple Courts.

The Triple Gate marks the location of the Beautiful Gate. Some of the lower stones can still be seen.

Sacred Geometry: Unlocking the Secret of the Temple Mount, Part 1

Kaufman places the Temple about 280 feet northwest of the seventh-century Dome of the Rock, which now graces the Temple Mount. 1 Ritmeyer places the Temple’s Holy of Holies, the innermost 043 sanctuary, at the spot where the rock mass called al-Sakhra (Arabic, “the Rock”) 2 sits under the golden dome of the mosque. 3

My own location is closer to Ritmeyer’s than to Kaufman’s: I place the center of the main hall of the Temple (called the Hekhal), rather than the Holy of Holies, over al-Sakhra. This on its own is an original suggestion: Most scholars identify al-Sakhra with either the Holy of Holies or the Altar of Sacrifice. 4 However, what I believe is especially important about my proposal is the reasoning I use to reach this result.

Nothing can be said about the location of Solomon’s Temple (often called the First Temple) based on existing features. The same is true of the Temple known as the Second Temple, which was rebuilt by the exiles upon their return from Babylon. Herod the Great totally reconstructed this Temple (also known in Jewish tradition as the Second Temple). Some of the large-scale features of Herod’s 044 Temple are preserved in the existing Temple Mount (some of the underground cisterns, however, are believed to predate Herod). 5

The site, as we know it today, is mostly the product of two distinct building phases: Herodian and early Islamic. In 20/19 B.C.E., Herod initiated a vast project to greatly expand the Temple enclosure by creating a huge level platform bordered by a massive retaining wall. This retaining wall was built of large rectangular blocks of limestone with recessed margins and a large, slightly raised central panel, or boss.

Herod more than doubled the size of the previous Temple Mount. His enlarged enclosure constituted the largest sacred precinct in the whole of classical antiquity—approximately 36 acres. By comparison, the precinct to the goddess Athena on the Acropolis of Athens—including the famous Parthenon—occupies barely a fifth of the area of its Jerusalem counterpart.

Herod’s glorious sanctuary was destroyed in 70 C.E. when the Romans conquered and burned Jerusalem, effectively ending the First Jewish Revolt against Rome. (Only a few holdouts in the Judean Desert, notably Masada, managed to withstand the Roman assault for another three years.)

After the destruction of 70 C.E., the Temple Mount remained largely unoccupied until the late seventh century C.E., when the Umayyad caliph ‘Abd al-Malik and his successors reclaimed the site and established what we see today: the splendid Dome of the Rock, on a raised platform in the middle of the esplanade, and the al-Aqsa Mosque, at the esplanade’s southern end. The Muslims renamed the sacred enclosure al-Haram al-Sharif, which means “the Noble Sanctuary.”

The Haram probably does not have precisely the same measurements as Herod’s Temple Mount. It will be important to keep the likely differences in mind. 045 When we refer to the Temple Mount, we will be referring to Herod’s esplanade. When we refer to the Haram, or al-Haram al-Sharif, we will be referring to the platform as it exists today.

The location of Herod’s Temple has mostly been considered in the context of the existing topography of the Temple Mount, particularly in relation to al-Sakhra. Later on, I shall also relate al-Sakhra to the ancient Temple. But I would like to approach the question first by considering what we can learn from Herod’s enclosure wall. In fact, the only surviving part of the Temple complex from Herod’s period that we are 047 certain of is the incomplete circuit of the enclosure wall.

The Herodian walls of the Temple enclosure are preserved on three sides—south, west and east. Fortunately, the Herodian masonry is distinctive, so there is no dispute as to whether it is Herodian. And it is by this means that we can identify the remains of the Herodian perimeter wall.

On the south, the ancient masonry has now been laid bare along the entire length of the wall, which is also the southern wall of al-Haram al-Sharif, although the upper portion of the stonework is more recent.

On the west, too, we can now trace the entire length of the Herodian wall, although until recently, the northern part of the western wall was inaccessible. Near the southern part of the western wall is the Jewish devotional section known as the Western Wall, or, formerly, the Wailing Wall. Like the southern wall, the western wall of the Temple Mount is also the western wall of al-Haram al-Sharif.

The eastern wall is somewhat more complicated. At a point 105 feet north of the southern end of the eastern wall is the “Straight Joint,” a straight seam in the masonry that tells the careful observer that the wall south of that point was an addition. It is clear from the masonry that Herod added this section to the previously existing eastern wall of the Temple Mount. North of the Straight Joint, the ashlars have a distinctly different appearance. The older blocks are generally shorter and, while they also possess drafted margins, are not as finely dressed. On the other hand, these ashlars are arranged more systematically in alternate rows of headers and stretchers (narrow and long sides facing out). Also, some of the lateral joints on the ashlars are diagonal () rather than at 048 right angles to the horizontal line of the stones, as is generally the case in Herodian construction ().

It is difficult to say who was responsible for this construction, although we do know that it was earlier than the Herodian extension to the south. Based on stylistic comparisons with fortifications in Greece that are firmly placed in the Hellenistic period, this earlier masonry dates somewhere between the fourth and the first century B.C.E. 6

The pre-Herodian masonry on the eastern wall appears to continue northwards, below present ground level, possibly as far as the Golden Gate, where the same distinctive masonry is again visible. A little beyond the Golden Gate, there is a further stretch of Herodian ashlars, which continues beyond the northeast corner of al-Haram al-Sharif see the plan on p. 46)-->.

From this we conclude that Herod used the east wall of the existing Temple Mount, but extended it both toward the south and the north. Note, however, that on the north the Herodian wall extends beyond the wall of today’s al-Haram al-Sharif. This is important to remember.

Moreover, the eastern wall is not perfectly straight. The original, pre-Herodian builders tried with some difficulty to construct a wall that does not follow the contours of the hill but rather cuts across the hillside, with the terrain descending quite steeply both to the south and to the north. In addition, the angle formed by the southern wall and the eastern wall is slightly more than 90 degrees (actually 92 degrees), as compared to the 90 degree angle formed by the southern wall and the western wall.

The north wall of Herod’s Temple Mount no longer exists—or at least remnants of it can no longer be seen. Where we place the northern wall will determine the precise shape and size of Herod’s Temple Mount.

But before we try to fix the line of the northern wall of Herod’s Temple Mount, let’s look at the shape of the present enclosure, al-Haram al-Sharif. It is an irregular quadrilateral. Each of its four sides is a different length, yet it follows the same line as the enclosure of Herod’s Temple Mount on three sides (all except the north). On the south and west, the al-Haram al-Sharif is the same length as Herod’s Temple Mount—920 feet and 1,590 feet, respectively (all these lengths are rounded). 7 On the east, al-Haram al-Sharif is 1,540 feet long on the north, 1,030 feet.

Now let’s look at the angles formed by this quadrilateral. There are two right angles (90 degrees)—on the southwest and on the northeast. The angle on the southeast, as previously noted, is 92 degrees, a little more than a right angle. On the northwest, it is 85 degrees. 8

The right angle at the southwest corner is exactly what we would expect of the Herodian Temple Mount: the intersection of two lines established by Herod without 049 earlier lines to influence his architects. If the right angle at the northeast corner of al-Haram al-Sharif is also the corner of the Herodian Temple Mount, this would enable us to fix all four walls of the Temple Mount (assuming, of course, that they were straight lines).

Several investigators have concluded that this northeast corner of al-Haram al-Sharif, which now forms a kind of tower, is also the corner of the Herodian Temple Mount because on the north and east sides it contains ashlars that are unmistakably Herodian. However, this fact can be misleading. The Herodian ashlars are mixed together with other types of masonry, indicating that the ancient stonework, seen aboveground, is in reuse. An additional reason for doubting that this corner is an original Herodian feature is the lack of pilasters, or square half columns, high up on the northern and eastern faces of this corner, whereas remains of a decorative pilaster course existed at this level on the west wall. One fragment of a wall pilaster survives in place towards the northern end of the western wall, 9 and other fragments have been found among the debris at the foot of the southwestern corner by Israeli archaeologists since 1967. Such pilasters still grace the upper part of the wall of the beautifully preserved enclosure at Hebron that Herod built around the Tomb of the Patriarchs. 10 Owing to its excellent state of preservation, the Tomb of the Patriarchs has much to teach us about the Temple Mount enclosure wall that Herod built at about the same time in Jerusalem. In many ways, it is a smaller version of the Jerusalem enclosure. It is built of ashlars stylistically identical to those in Jerusalem and has a similar pilaster course.

The reuse of the beautiful Herodian ashlars thrown down in the Roman destruction of the Temple Mount was common in Jerusalem. The most prominent examples are walls of early Islamic palaces outside the southwest corner of the Temple Mount, built almost entirely of Herodian ashlars. So the presence of this type of masonry in the northeast corner of the enclosure wall does not necessarily mean that it is Herodian.

Indeed, it would be surprising if Herod’s Temple Mount enclosure wall did not follow a more regular plan like the Hebron enclosure, which is a perfect rectangle—not only because both were built by the same ruler at the same time and in the same style, but also for more general reasons. The then-current precepts of Roman imperial architecture usually called for a symmetrical ground plan unless there was an obstruction, 050 such as another important building that confined the available area, or if there was an older wall that the builders wished to incorporate.

Another factor militates against accepting the northeast corner of al-Haram al-Sharif as the northeast corner of Herod’s Temple Mount: The eastern wall of the Temple Mount extends northwards, without a break, for about 65 feet beyond the northeast corner of al-Haram al-Sharif. Although we cannot see this aboveground, we know it from the work of Charles Warren in Jerusalem between 1867 and 1870. At that time, Warren, who was conducting a survey of western Palestine for the London-based Palestine Exploration Fund, managed—at great personal risk and despite opposition from the Ottoman authorities—to dig deep shafts down to the foundations of the enclosure wall and then drive galleries along the base of the walls. It is the record of his observations and measurements that tells us what the walls look like underground. 11

The combination of one or more peristyle courts with a temple aligned with one of the main axes in a symmetrical arrangement became a hallmark of the great temple complexes of the Roman Empire. Some of the most famous examples are in the Near East, in particular, the temple precinct of Jupiter Heliopolitanus at Baalbek, the temple of Bel at Palmyra and the temple precinct of Artemis at Gerasa. Other examples are found in Asia Minor and around the Mediterranean. 12 According to the first-century C.E. Jewish historian Josephus, Herod’s Temple complex in Jerusalem followed this same arrangement. We are told that the Temple platform was bordered by a circuit of porticoes, which included an immense triple-aisled basilica on the south side, 13 and that the sanctuary occupied the central position in the scheme. 14 Incidentally, the incorporation of a triple-aisled basilica at one side of a peristyle court is encountered at various Roman sites 051 across the eastern Mediterranean, including Cyrene in North Africa and Smyrna (Izmir), Ephesus and Kremna in Asia Minor. 15

Archaeological evidence for the portico on the southern side of Herod’s Temple Mount has been obtained in Professor Benjamin Mazar’s excavations on the southern edge of the Jerusalem esplanade. 16 Although this says nothing about the Temple itself, excavations at Samaria (Sebaste) have revealed that there Herod’s architects worked according to a similar formula (although without including a triple-aisled basilica in the temple enclosure). Herod refounded Samaria as Sebaste in honor of his Roman patron Augustus (Sebastos in Greek) in about 25 B.C.E. 17 Herod’s Sebasteion, one of three temples he dedicated to Augustus (the others were at Caesarea and Paneion), was symmetrically oriented in relation to a peristyle court and was probably axially aligned with its monumental entrance. 18 This temple was begun in the year that Herod ordered the rebuilding of Samaria, that is, 25 B.C.E., approximately five years before ordering the reconstruction of the Temple in Jerusalem.

There is something else that suggests that the shape of Herod’s Temple Mount enclosure was a trapezium, almost a rectangle, rather than an irregular quadrilateral, like al-Haram al-Sharif. Three of the streets of Jerusalem north of al-Haram al-Sharif, including the eastern section of the Via Dolorosa, are aligned broadly parallel to one another and are oriented at right angles to the western wall of the Temple Mount enclosure. In other words, they are parallel not only to themselves, but to the southern wall of the enclosure. 19 On the other hand, the north wall of al-Haram al-Sharif has an orientation without any parallels elsewhere in the city.

All of this suggests that the northern wall of the Temple Mount enclosure was on a different alignment from the northern wall of al-Haram al-Sharif and was parallel to the southern wall of the Temple Mount. But where was it?

Assuming that the Herodian western wall ended where it does today (at the northwest corner of the al-Ghawanima Minaret), I looked first at the northern end of the western wall. 20 This seems especially reasonable because a cornerstone appears to remain in situ at the northern end of the Herodian wall, alongside the northwest corner of the minaret. 21 The ashlar in question bears distinctive marginal drafting on both its north and west faces, whereas blocks belonging to a straight section of the enclosure walls only have the drafting on the single exposed face.

If we proceeded eastward after making a 90 degree turn, we would hit the eastern Herodian wall close to the point where Warren found it ended underground. 22 Warren labeled the vicinity of this spot on his drawing of the elevation of the east wall as the “possible termination of Old Wall with marginal drafts.” 23

Now comes the surprising part. I created a right-angled triangle by drawing a line from the northwest corner of the Herodian Temple Mount to the southeast corner (the right angle exists between the west and south walls). The south wall is 920 feet the west wall is 1,590 feet, as we have already said. The ratio is 1:1.73. The result is a 60-degree angle between the south wall and the diagonal (hypotenuse) of the triangle. This 60-degree angle has been totally overlooked by all previous investigators. As we shall see, this vital measurement not only confirms the location of the “missing” northern wall of the Herodian Temple Mount, but enables us to deduce the position of the Temple itself.

This ratio of the south wall to the west wall, which creates a right-angled triangle with a 60-degree angle at the southeast corner, I discovered to my profound surprise, was precisely the same as the width-to-length ratio of the rectangular enclosure that Herod constructed at Hebron around the Tomb of the Patriarchs. 24 The walls of this enclosure form an almost perfect rectangle, the proportions of which average 193.7 feet to 111.5 feet, a ratio of 1:1.737, the same ratio as in the Temple Mount. And triangles drawn from the adjacent sides again produces angles of 60 degrees.

But this is not all. A 60-degree angle has special significance in classical architecture. The same proportions are to be found in other architectural schemes 053 from the early Roman Empire, among them the enclosures of the temple of Jupiter Damascenus and the Delphineion at Miletus. Also, these proportions were used in the Teatro Maritimo in Hadrian’s villa at Tivoli and other structures from the classical period. 25

Recently, while reviewing the final reports of Yigael Yadin’s excavations of Masada, 26 I noticed that a similar geometrical scheme, involving an equilateral (equal-sided) triangle with 60 degree angles, governs the proportions of the banqueting hall on the lowest terrace of the Northern Palace at Herod’s desert fortress. 27

This type of geometrical plan therefore seems to be akin to a signature of the architects employed by Herod on his most prestigious building projects. A supreme example of geometrical planning in Herodian architecture is the perfectly circular hilltop château at Herodium, near Jerusalem. 28

Abstract geometrical designs tended to dominate the artistic repertoire of Judea in the period of the Second Temple because the Second Commandment was interpreted at the time as proscribing representational images. (A similar emphasis on geometrical patterns is observed in later Islamic art.) Especially favored in Herodian decoration are compass-drawn rosette patterns, which occur with great regularity in mosaics and stone reliefs of this period. 29 Most common of all are three- and six-petal rosettes, which are based on a 60-degree symmetry. One of these rosettes, with six black petals on a white background, graces a mosaic on the floor of a small bathroom in a luxurious mansion Nahman Avigad excavated in Jerusalem’s Upper City, which directly overlooks the Temple Mount. 30 The craftsmen who were responsible for this mosaic may have received their geometrical training from the same school as the architects who designed the ground plan of Herod’s Temple Mount.

Having identified the plan of the Herodian Temple Mount, it now remains to see if we can determine the location of the Temple itself. The first step is to identify the principal axes of the Temple enclosure. I took the west-east axis to be parallel to the south wall and midway between this wall and the proposed north wall see plan , p. 53)-->. The longitudinal north-south axis presented a less obvious choice because the west wall is not closely parallel to the east wall and the east wall does not follow an exactly straight course. Here I was helped by a key surviving feature of the Herodian Temple enclosure, a pair of passageways that led up to the Temple platform from the southern entrances known as the Huldah Gates. 31 The western one is known as the Double Gate, and the eastern one as the Triple Gate. The Triple Gate is so named because it is fronted by a now-blocked triple archway, behind which is a lobby of three bays, as compared with the double entry and lobby of the Double Gate. However, as Warren observed, the Triple Gate “was a gateway of about the same style as the Double Gate, and is very likely at that time to have exactly corresponded to it in only having two passages.” 32

Claude Conder, who worked on the survey of western Palestine after Warren, concluded that “these two double tunnels in the south wall, at the Double and Triple Gates, thus correspond to each other in their length, width and slope of ramp the sill of each is on the same level.” 33

These two entries are oriented approximately perpendicular to the south wall, although they are not situated symmetrically with respect to the center of the south wall. However, since they were part of the original Herodian scheme, and were the principal gateways to the Temple enclosure for the general public, I took the north-south axis to be on a line drawn through the midpoints between these two passages. I found additional support for this decision in parallels found in slightly older temple complexes with twin ramped entrances—the Hellenistic temple of Apollo at Didyma, in Ionia, begun in the third century B.C.E. see photo , p. 51)-->, and the Temple of Fortuna Primigenia at Praeneste, in Latium, Italy, dating to about 80 B.C.E. These two temple complexes, which were very influential in the development of classical architecture, both have ramped passages that are symmetrically situated on either side of one of their main axes.

The two Temple Mount axes thus drawn are perpendicular to one another to within half a degree. They intersect at a point now occupied by the Dome of the Chain (Qubbat al-Silsila), in front of the eastern entrance to the Dome of the Rock see photo , p. 52)-->.

The focal point of this intersection must have coincided with an important feature of the Temple. It could not have been the Holy of Holies, the inner sanctum of the Temple, if only because it would have left insufficient space on the Temple Mount for the Court of the Women (‘Azarat ha-Nashim), to the east.

The better alternative is that this spot marked the location of the great sacrificial altar, the focus of public worship. Incidentally, this view is found in Jewish tradition. We may find it in the description of the Temple Mount by Rabbi Jechiel of Paris in the 13th century:

Round the Even Shetiyah [foundation stone] 34 the Ishmaelite [Arab] kings have built a very beautiful building for a house of prayer and erected on the top a very fine cupola [the Dome of the Rock]. The building is on the site of the Holy of Holies and the Sanctuary, and in front of the mosque towards the altar [on its eastern side] is a structure of pillars [the Dome of the Chain] and the cupola is at the top of these pillars and it would seem that this was the place of the outer altar which was in the Court of Israel. 35

In more recent times, Claude Conder also deduced that the Dome of the Chain coincided with this altar. 36 Frederick Hollis and Miriam Rosen-Ayalon, an expert on al-Haram al-Sharif, have independently reached the same verdict. 37 As further support for this idea, I found evidence that the altar in front of the temple of Jupiter Heliopolitanus at Baalbek stood at the center of its courtyard during the lifetime of Herod. 38

Based on the location of the altar, we can locate the Temple—provided we can determine the modern equivalent of the cubit, the standard unit of length used in the ancient descriptions of the Temple. The cubit used in Herod’s Temple is quoted in the scholarly literature as anywhere between 17 inches (.43 meters) and 20.5 inches (.52 meters). From a study of artifacts and structures from the Herodian period, the scholar Arye Ben-David has deduced that the short cubit of that time had a length of about 18 inches (.465 meters). 39 This is a fairly average value for the cubit and appears to be reliable. It is the one I will use (although a small percentage difference in the value of the cubit would not fundamentally affect my conclusions it would merely incur a small shift of the Temple sanctuary relative to the altar).

The most detailed source for the Temple proper is the Mishnah, the first great rabbinic legal text, compiled in about 200 C.E. The altar was doubtless centrally placed in front of the Temple edifice, as it was in most temples of the classical period. This axial arrangement is consistent with the description and detailed measurements given in the Mishnah. According to the Mishnah, the distance between the altar and the Temple (that is, the sanctuary building) was 22 cubits. 40 The Temple was 100 cubits long, 41 and the length and breadth of the altar were 32 cubits at its base. 42 Accordingly, the distance from the midpoint of the Temple to the midpoint of the altar was 50 + 22 + 16 cubits (that is, half the sum of the lengths of the sanctuary and altar plus the distance between them), which totals 88 cubits, or 134 feet.

Now, the distance between the center of the Dome of the Chain and the Dome of the Rock is 127 feet. 43 This is not very different from the 134 feet between the centers of the altar and the Temple. So, just as the position of the altar coincides almost exactly with the Dome of the Chain, the Temple corresponds closely in position to the existing Dome of the Rock.

But this is not the only near coincidence. The diameter of the Dome of the Chain is 47 feet, 44 close to the 32 cubits, or 49 feet, for the length and breadth of the altar. Likewise, the length and breadth of the Dome of the Rock, 162 feet, is not far removed from the 100 cubits, or 152 feet, for the length of the Temple. 45

Thus, we see the following pattern emerging, with the Dome of the Rock and the Dome of the Chain, both of which date back almost to the very beginning of Islam in the seventh century C.E., reproducing the Temple and altar in size and respective locations.

This can hardly be mere coincidence. We know that after the Roman destruction of the Temple in 70 C.E., memories of this hallowed shrine remained very much alive. In the third century, the early church father Origen noted that a statue of the emperor Hadrian on horseback stood on the site of the Holy of Holies. By the third and fourth centuries, all that could be seen inside the area once occupied by the Temple proper was the exposed crag of al-Sakhra and two imperial statues, the one of Hadrian immediately to the west of al-Sakhra (below the spot where the Holy of Holies was located, according to my reconstruction), apparently overlooking the rock in a pointed gesture of triumphalism. 46 The so-called Bordeaux Pilgrim in the fourth century C.E. was also able to discern the site of the altar, which was delineated in the marble paving. 47 The location of the Jewish Temple was still recognized when the Arabs conquered Jerusalem: They respected the exposed rock, 063 al-Sakhra, as the Mihrab Dawud (the Sanctuary of David) and the Qibla Bani Isra’il (the Focus of Prayer for the Children of Israel). The winged motifs portrayed on the late-seventh-century wall mosaics in the Dome of the Rock allude to the seraphim guarding the Ark of the Covenant, according to Julian Raby, a scholar of Islamic Art at Oxford University. Moreover, early Islamic traditions about the rituals held at al-Sakhra appear to reflect Jewish Temple ceremonies. 48 Therefore, over the course of time, the site of the Temple and altar continued to be revered, although the original associations with the Temple Mount became blurred and were superseded by newer Islamic traditions.

Thus we believe that we have located both the site of the Temple and the altar in front of it. So far, we have relied entirely on an analysis of the surviving walls of the Temple enclosure. Can the argument be strengthened by other evidence? And how does al-Sakhra, the rocky crag that rises above the floor of the Dome of the Rock, fit into this grand scheme? What was its significance in the Temple? To these questions, we will turn in the second installment of this article, in the next issue of BAR (25:05).

A history of the new temple built by King Herod the Great

The history of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, where King Herod’s temple stood, goes back to Abraham, the father of the Jewish religion, in the 18th century B.C. On this mount where God ordered Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac, God intervened and a ram was sacrificed instead. This event sanctified for all time the steep rocky summit we call the Temple Mount.

Eventually King David (1000-970 B.C.) captured Jerusalem and placed there the ark of the covenant, a portable chest on top of which the presence of God dwelt between two angels facing each other. This ark was housed in a tent. When King David built himself a beautiful palace, he felt the ark should not just be housed in a small tent, but in a grand temple. David’s son Solomon (970-930 B.C.) eventually built the first temple for the Israelites. This temple was destroyed by the Babylonians from southern Iraq in 587 B.C. Many Israelites were taken into exile in Babylon.

When the Persians from Iran conquered Babylon in 538 B.C., they allowed the Israelites who wished to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple. This new temple of Zerubbabel, a Judean prince who organized the rebuilding, was begun in 537 B.C. and dedicated in 515 B.C.

Father John McKenzie says the temple of Zerubbabel was of the same dimensions and structure as the temple of Solomon, but much inferior in the richness of its decorations. Eventually, with the Jewish conflict with their Seleucid or Syrian rulers like Antiochus IV (175-164 B.C.), the temple was probably severely damaged. This temple stood until the beginning of Herod the Great’s new temple in 19 B.C.

The temple of Herod was built on massive quarried blocks still visible today at the Wailing Wall or Western Wall in Jerusalem where many Jews congregate to pray. Often they write out a prayer intention on a small piece of paper and place it in a crack in the wall. Baedeker says that politically Herod wanted to gain the favor of his Jewish subjects, so he rebuilt the temple by combining the requirements of the Jewish religion with elements of the Graeco-Roman style. He extended the area of the temple to its present size of 985 feet by 1,575 feet.

The outer forecourt was for temporal business and open to anyone. The inner forecourt was on a higher level and only Jews were allowed access. It was divided into three parts: the Women’s Courtyard, the Courtyard of the male Israelites with the incense offering, and the Priests’ Courtyard with an altar on which animals were sacrificed. In the center was the temple with a white marble façade and golden capitals. The temple of Herod maintained the threefold division of Solomon’s temple: the vestibule, the holy place and the holy of holies.

Temple Mount: Its History and Future

The biblical history of the Temple Mount&mdasha leveled area on Mount Moriah in Jerusalem&mdashbegan long before the construction of the first temple. About 900 years before the first temple, Abraham was told to go to Mount Moriah (the Mount of the Lord) to sacrifice Isaac (Genesis 22:2, 14).

This location was near the village of Salem, which later became Jerusalem (Joshua 18:28 2 Chronicles 3:1). It was here that Abraham came to give a tithe to Melchizedek and was &ldquoblessed by the better&rdquo (Genesis 14:18-20 Hebrews 7:1-4, 7-8). This particular location seems to have already been chosen by God for His future temple.

Coming forward 400 years to the time of Moses, we see in the Song of Moses a reference to &ldquothe mountain of Your inheritance, &hellip which You have made for Your own dwelling&rdquo (Exodus 15:17). At the end of the 40 years in the wilderness, God commanded through Moses that Israel should &ldquoseek the place where the LORD your God chooses, out of all your tribes, to put His name for His dwelling place [habitation in the King James Version] and there you shall go&rdquo (Deuteronomy 12:5).

When God first began working with the Israelites, His place of dwelling was a portable tent, called the &ldquotabernacle&rdquo (Exodus 25:9 26:1). It was the location for worship on God&rsquos annual holy days, where God &ldquoput His name&rdquo (Deuteronomy 12:5).

Over the years, this tabernacle moved to various locations, including Kadesh, Gilgal, Shiloh, Nob and Gibeon. After approximately 400 years of the tabernacle being moved from time to time, a permanent temple of stone was built for God in the city of Jerusalem&mdashthe site being chosen by God Himself (Psalm 132:13 1 Kings 11:13 14:21 2 Chronicles 33:7).

Acquiring the future Temple Mount

When David became king over all of the tribes of Israel, one of his first tasks was to capture and secure the stronghold of Zion from the Jebusites and rename it the City of David (2 Samuel 5:7-9). By capturing the stronghold of Zion, David gained control over the very strategic areas of the city and the citadel. Jerusalem then became the center of Israel and Israel&rsquos capital. This made it possible for David to later negotiate the purchase of the area that would become the Temple Mount.

The Temple Mount location was acquired by David following his sin of taking a census of Israel. God stopped the angel of the Lord who had been sent to punish David and Israel for their sins and instructed the angel to inform the prophet Gad to tell David to erect an altar to the Lord on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite (2 Samuel 24:1 1 Chronicles 21:18-24).

Following the purchase of the threshing floor from Ornan, David built an altar and &ldquooffered burnt offerings and peace offerings, and called on the LORD.&rdquo God answered David by supernaturally igniting the burnt offering by fire from heaven. David realized that God had shown him &ldquothis is the house of the LORD God&rdquo (1 Chronicles 21:24-30 22:1).

Because David had been a man of war who had shed much blood, God did not allow him to build the temple. But David was allowed to make preparations for his son Solomon to construct the temple (1 Chronicles 22:5-9).

The first temple period

Solomon began building the first temple in the fourth year of his reign, which was 480 years after Israel came out of Egypt (1 Kings 6:1). The Temple Mount, which was the platform for the temple, required huge foundational stones to flatten and stabilize the site. This platform, or foundation, was required because Mount Moriah was not level, but was rounded at the top. It would be enlarged later, during the second temple period, to eventually become the trapezoid-shaped Temple Mount that it is today.

The first temple lasted about 375 years before it was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 B.C.

God had told Solomon that if he or his descendants turned away from obeying Him, &ldquothis house which I have consecrated for My name I will cast out of My sight&rdquo (1 Kings 9:6-7).

Although some of Judah&rsquos kings served God, the majority turned away from the Lord and allowed the nation to practice idolatry. Finally, in the time of Ezekiel (597 B.C.), the prophet saw in a vision the glory of the Lord depart from the temple (Ezekiel 10:18). In a few years the temple was totally destroyed.

The second temple period

The second temple was constructed over the site of the first temple on the Temple Mount following the return of the Jews from the Babylonian captivity (535-515 B.C.). It did not have the beauty and splendor of Solomon&rsquos temple.

Later, Herod the Great would rebuild the second temple with better stones. This was the temple that Jesus came to during His ministry (John 2:20). The second temple period lasted almost 600 years from 515 B.C. to A.D. 70.

At the beginning of this second temple period, the prophet Haggai (520 B.C.) was inspired to write, &ldquo&lsquoThe glory of this latter temple shall be greater than the former. &hellip And in this place I will give peace,&rsquo says the LORD of hosts&rdquo (Haggai 2:9). The greater glory of the second temple refers to when Jesus Christ came to it and offered eternal peace for man through His sacrifice.

Desolation and destruction

The Temple Mount has had a history of war and destruction. In the second century B.C. (168-165) the forces of Antiochus IV Epiphanes of the Seleucid Kingdom slaughtered over 40,000 Jews and erected a pagan altar on the altar for burnt sacrifices. This act is referred to as the &ldquoabomination of desolation&rdquo in Daniel 11:31. It lasted for three years until the Maccabean revolt overthrew the Seleucids and cleansed the temple. The cleansing and restoration of the temple is commemorated annually in the Jewish festival of Hanukkah, also known as the &ldquofeast of the dedication&rdquo (John 10:22).

This desolation served as a forerunner of what Jesus described would happen in the end times on the Temple Mount (Matthew 24:15).

Just before His crucifixion in the spring of A.D. 31, Jesus told His disciples that &ldquonot one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down&rdquo (Matthew 24:2). Less than 40 years later the second temple (which had been enhanced by Herod) was destroyed and burned by the Romans in A.D. 70.

Although the foundational stones of the Temple Mount apparently remained (a portion of this foundation is known as the Wailing Wall today), the temple that sat on top of the mount was completely destroyed. The events that led up to the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple were also a type of a future &ldquoabomination of desolation&rdquo prophesied by Christ to occur in the end times (Matthew 24:15).

The surface of the Temple Mount would remain in a state of destruction until the Muslim invasions in the seventh century. These resulted in the Dome of the Rock being built over the ancient temple site and the Al-Aqsa Mosque being built on the south end of the Temple Mount. These two structures remain intact today.

The coming abomination

In the Olivet Prophecy Jesus said to His disciples, &ldquoTherefore when you see the &lsquoabomination of desolation,&rsquo spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place&rdquo (Matthew 24:15). Daniel spoke of more than one abomination. This particular abomination would precede Jesus&rsquo second coming.

Daniel speaks of this end-time abomination in Daniel 12:11. A forerunner of this end-time abomination is found in Daniel 11:31.

The end-time abomination will include stopping the daily sacrifices at the altar (Daniel 8:11-14 12:11). Jesus said this abomination would be &ldquostanding in the holy place&rdquo (Matthew 24:15) and &ldquostanding where it ought not&rdquo (Mark 13:14). This seems to indicate that it will stand by or on the altar.

To fulfill the prophecy of the abomination of desolation, at some point in the future, before the Great Tribulation comes on this world, the Jewish people will apparently begin offering sacrifices once again on the Temple Mount. The daily sacrifices were carried out on the altar outside the temple where the people could observe the service. The &ldquoappalling abomination&rdquo (Daniel 9:27, Tanakh) will be forced on the holy place by the one who will bring desolation to everything holy on the Temple Mount. It may be that there will only be an altar at that time. During the second temple period there were sacrifices on the altar while the temple was being built (535-515 B.C.) and that was also the case during the time Herod was rebuilding the temple.

The apostle Paul wrote that the individual who causes the abomination &ldquosits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God&rdquo (2 Thessalonians 2:4). The meaning of this passage could be that this person will sit in a literal temple of God or that he will exercise his power in the way God did when God presided over the temple. (We note that even though this passage is a prophecy of the future, the second temple was still in existence and functioning when Paul wrote it.)

To fulfill the prophecy of the abomination of desolation, at some point in the future, before the Great Tribulation comes on this world, the Jewish people will apparently begin offering sacrifices once again. Something very dramatic will have to occur for this to happen. The Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque currently sit on the Temple Mount, and they represent major political and religious barriers to any Jewish construction on the Temple Mount.

The millennial temple and mount

The second coming of Jesus Christ will result in a dramatic change to the topography of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount. We read of &ldquoa great earthquake&rdquo that destroys a &ldquotenth of the city&rdquo and kills &ldquoseven thousand people&rdquo at the end of the sixth trumpet in Revelation (Revelation 11:13).

The prophet Zechariah prophesied that a great earthquake will split the Mount of Olives, which is located east of the Temple Mount, creating a new valley through the middle of it (Zechariah 14:4). These earthquakes will apparently destroy the present Temple Mount and require the building of a new one.

The prophet Ezekiel was given a vision describing a new millennial temple in great detail (Ezekiel 40-44). Jesus Christ is coming to set up the Kingdom of God on the earth (Zechariah 14:9), and there will be a temple throughout His millennial rule on the earth.

Christ&rsquos purpose will be to bring humanity to the knowledge of God, to repentance from its sinful ways, and to the path to eternal life. That way is available to those today who desire to know about it.

To learn more about the Middle East, be sure to read the articles in this section on the &ldquoMiddle East in Bible Prophecy.&rdquo

Jim Haeffele

Jim Haeffele is a church pastor in the Church of God, a Worldwide Association. He currently pastors congregations in Fort Myers, Miami and West Palm Beach, Florida. He has served in the ministry of the Church of God for over 46 years. During those years he and his wife, Lois, have served congregations from Portland, Oregon, where he grew up, to Utah, Ohio, North Carolina, and now Florida.


It is believed by both Jews and Muslims that the first of all God’s magnificent creation was the Foundation Stone. This massive rock today is embedded beneath the Temple Mount located in present day Jerusalem. It is further believed that all of earth was created from this one stone and that the first sacrifice of all time was made upon it.

The Temple Mount is unarguably the most sacred, the most coveted, and the most valuable piece of real estate on planet earth. Battles have raged, blood has been shed, and martyrs have died over this piece of property which was originally blessed by the Lord as the meeting place between God and man. It was here that God Almighty descended in the form of Shekinah fire and spoke directly to mankind. The Foundation Stone, which sets upon the Mount, is said to be the place where the Ark of the Covenant once sat and the very spot where Elohim himself appeared once a year on the Day of Atonement.

In reality the Temple Mount is simply a walled off section of the larger Mount Moriah located in present day Jerusalem. The Foundation Stone is actually a large mass of bedrock running the entire length of Mount Moriah (from the city of David to Gordon’s Mount Calvary) and outcrops in two different places on top of the Mount (under the Dome of the Rock and under the Dome of Tablets). It was on the Temple Mount where the first two Jewish Temples were built and where the third temple is anticipated being built.

Let us now review persons and times in history which were most significant to the Temple Mount.

The ancient King-Priest Melchizedek was called “King of Salem” which, as we will discover below, is an old word for Jerusalem. Although the Mount itself is not specifically mentioned during this period, we find that, even at this very early date, “Salem” was a meeting place between man and the Most High God.

God spoke to the patriarch Abraham instructing him to take his only son Isaac upon Mount Moriah where he was to take his life through a sacrificial offering. It is believed that Isaac was laid upon the Foundation Stone which served Abraham as an alter to the Most High. As Abraham prepared to sacrifice the fruit of his loins an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared and stopped him. The angelic being informed him that this was but a test and God had prepared himself a sacrifice. Abraham then turned to see a ram whose horns were caught in the thickets. This drama unfolded upon Mount Moriah which we today refer to as the Temple Mount.

Abraham’s grandson, the patriarch Jacob, was traveling and one day and came upon a certain place where he chose to stay for the night. Taking up one of the stones of the place he put it under his head and lay down to sleep. In a dream of spiritual dimensions he beheld a flight of steps rising from earth, till it reached high Heaven. Upon this ladder God’s angels were ascending and descending. The voice of Almighty God spoke to him from Heaven saying,”I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac the land on which you lie I will give to you and to your descendants.”

When Jacob awoke from his sleep he exclaimed, “Surely the Lord is in this place and I did not know it.” He was afraid, and said, “This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.” Gen 28:19. Jacob then anoints the stone on which his slept and called the place “Bethel” which means “The House of God.”
The place at which Jacob stopped for the night was in reality Mount Moriah, the future home of the Temple in Jerusalem (Jacob called Jerusalem Bethel – Pesahim 88a). He named the place “Bethel or House of God intuitively anticipating the future Temple that would be built upon that very place. One prophet wrote “come let us go to the mountain of God to the house of Jacob.” Isa.2:4. Many believe the ladder signified the “bridge” between Heaven and earth, as prayers and sacrifices offered in the Holy Temple soldered a connection between God and the Jewish people. The stone on which he slept is believed to have been carried by Moses through the wilderness and placed again later in Solomons Temple where the King was coronated beside of it. Today there exists in Westminster Abby a stone encased in a royal throne which is believed to be the very stone anointed by Jacob. Upon this stone every English sovereign, from King Edward I to Victoria, has been coronated and crowned.

The charismatic Moses led the children of Israel for forty years through the treacherous wilderness. God had instructed Moses to build a tabernacle out of skins and acacia wood. Within the Tabernacle was a esoteric room of great sanctity called the Holy of Holies. The great Ark of the Covenant was the only furnishing adorning this cubicle. Once a year on the day of atonement God himself would descend in a flame of shekinah fire and set upon the mercy seat of the Ark. There God himself would commune and speak with man.

The Tabernacle was in actuality a moving “portable temple.” When the children of Israel broke camp to journey forward, they would fold up the Tabernacle and carry it with them. Arriving at the next place of encampment they would unpack the Tabernacle, set it back up, and once again sacrifices were made and the Most High communed with man. It is believed that the rock from Mount Moriah was carried with them throughout their sojourn through the wilderness (not the large Foundation Stone of course, but a loose rock that Jacob found lying near or on the Foundation Stone and used for his pillow). They were to carry this rock and the Tabernacle for forty years until the children of Israel would at last enter into the land of promise and ultimately rediscover Mount Moriah.

Mount Moriah was located in a city called Urusalim, a word probably of Semitic origin that apparently means ‘Foundation of Shalem’ or ‘Foundation of God’. The town was inhabited by a mixed population known as Jebusites. About 1000 BC, Urusalim was captured by David and was renamed Jerusalem. Scriptures tell us that King David purchased a threshing floor owned by Aravnah the Jebusite (2 Samuel, 24:18-25) overlooking Jerusalem with the intention of erecting an altar. He wanted to construct a permanent temple there, but as his hands were “bloodied” from war, he was forbidden to do so himself. The Tabernacle, the portable sanctuary carried through the wilderness, was erected upon this spot but the Temple itself was not built until c. 950 BC by David’s son Solomon.

Solomon built upon the Temple Mount the most beautiful edifice that has ever adorned planet earth. It was a temple par excellent. The lavish beauty of it’s detail and symmetry, the opulence of it furnishings, and the holiness that permeated the atmosphere surrounding it, was a grandeur the likes of which may never again be recreated in our world. The Kings of the earth marveled at its beauty and nations were blinded by its majesty. It was a shining gem among kingdoms of darkness. It was floored and wainscoted with the wood from the mighty cedars of Lebanon. It’s floors and walls were overlaid with gold. Two cherubim of olive-wood , each more than fifteen feet tall were set within it. Their outspread wings measured fifteen feet from tip to tip, so that, since they were standing side by side, the wings would touch the wall on either side and meet in the middle of the room. A two-leaved door overlaid with gold stood between this area and the holy place also a veil of heavenly blue, royal purple, crimson red, and fine linen. In the Holy of Holies sat the Ark of the Covenant adorned with cheribims and a mercy seat of pure gold. Inside the Ark was the tablets of stone which God himself had written upon with his own divine finger. The Ark also contained the manna which miraculously fell from Heaven, and the rod of Aaron which had miraculously blossomed. Scripture tells us that when Solomon had finished praying, holy fire descended from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices. Solomon looked on with a holy awe and reverence as God manifested his majesty and the glory of the LORD filled the temple II Chron 7:1. The priests ministered and worshiped before the Lord as the glory rose in the temple. This glory of the Divine King of all Kings fell in the Temple upon Mount Moriah which today we refer to as the Temple Mount and the great Ark of the Covenant sat upon the Foundation Stone which ran the length of the mount.

After standing for 410 years, the First Temple in all its splendor and glory was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians in 586 BC.

Reconstruction of the Temple began after the exile to Babylonia. The Hebrew people had been in exile for more than seventy years. Upon return to their homeland they had no idea where the exact spot was where the Temple stood on the Mount. Three prophets came and chose the spot where they believed it had stood. New foundations had to be laid for the new temple.

The rebuilding of the Temple began under Cyrus when the Persians first took over the Babylonian empire, and was then interrupted for 18 years. It resumed with blessing of Darius II, the Persian king whom it is believe was the son of Esther. Honor is given to Ezra for the rebuilding of the Temple, the spiritual rebuilding of the Jewish people and his efforts to reinstate Torah law in the land. A scribe, scholar and a Hebrew community leader in Persia, Ezra, a cohen (descendant of Aaron and Moses), took with him 1,496 well-chosen men with leadership abilities. Ezra’s impact upon the Hebrew nation is so dramatic that in the Talmud it is written of him that “the Torah could have been given to Israel through Ezra, if not that Moses preceded him” (Sanhedrin 21b).

However, the new temple was but a faint image of the splendor of the former temple of old and the people wept.

King Herod the Great completely renovated the Temple Mount creating a massive expansion of the Temple Mount platform and a major expansion of the Temple around 19 BC. Mount Moriah had a plateau at the northern end, and steeply declined on the southern slope. Herod had planned for the entire mountain to be developed into a giant square platform. The Temple Mount was originally intended to be 1600 feet wide by 900 feet deep by 9 stories high with walls up to 16 feet deep, however it was never finished according to this original plan. As it turned out the Platform and the Temple was still greatly expanded and was a grand architectural achievement of the day.

It was in this temple (which we refer to as the second temple, that Jesus had taught many times including the episode when he was twelve years old. At the beginning of his ministry he read from the book of Isaiah upon this spot. It was here that he ran out the money changers and it was this same temple that he prophesied would be destroyed and that not one stone would be left sitting upon another. This foreboding prophesy was destined to be fulfilled in just a very few short decades

It was in 70 AD that the Jewish people experienced one of the most tragic events in their history. Just 40 years after the crucifixion of Jesus Christ the Roman army burned down Herod’s Temple in Jerusalem. It was a stunning loss. This event took place on the 10th day of Loos (August 29 th ), the exact same day the Babylonians had burned down Solomon’s temple 657 years earlier. The Jewish people were dispersed throughout the world without a country or king. However, one of the most amazing notes in history is the fact that throughout almost two thousand years of dispersion they never lost their identity, religion, or language.


Around 325 AD Saint Helena, mother of the emperor Constantine, built the Church of St. Cyrus and Saint John on the Mount. This structure was later enlarged and named the Church of Holy Wisdom (the church was later destroyed and the Dome of the Rock was built upon its ruins).

In 363 AD, Emperor Julian II ordered the Jewish Temple to be rebuilt. An ancient historian writes of this attempt:

“Julian thought to rebuild at an extravagant expense the proud Temple once at Jerusalem, and committed this task to Alypius of Antioch. Alypius set vigorously to work, and was seconded by the governor of the province when fearful balls of fire, breaking out near the foundations, continued their attacks, till the workmen, after repeated scorchings, could approach no more: and he gave up the attempt.”

Was the failure to rebuild the temple due to the Galilee earthquake of 363 AD? If so, the timing was extraordinarily eerie.

After the Muslim conquest of this region, they renamed the Temple Mount as the AL-Haram AL-Sharif (the Noble Sanctuary).

The Muslims revered the Mount as the place of longstanding worship of God by the Jewish prophets as well as the site of the Prophet Muhammad’s night journey to heaven. They soon began to regard the Temple Mount as the third most important holy site, after Mecca and Medina.

In 690 CE, after the Islamic conquest of Palestine, an octagonal shrine (not a mosque) was built around one of the outcroppings of the Foundation Stone, which became known as the Dome of the Rock (Qubbat as-Sakhra). The Dome of the Rock was built from the remains of local Christian Churches as well as the remains of the Church of Holy Wisdom which had set upon this same exact spot. Some believed material in the new structure also included some of the remains of the old Jewish Temple. It was built by Jews, Byzantine Christians, and Muslim workers under the leadership of Abd el-Malik. It was built not as a mosque for public worship but rather a mashhad, a shrine for pilgrims.

Building the Dome of the Rock provided at least four strategic purposes for Abd el-Malik :

  1. It temporarily satisfied and won the moral support of Jewish residents (who wished for the rebuilding of the Jewish Temple) by providing them a place of prayerand worship.
  2. It brought unity to Jerusalem by providing a structure that could also be used as a place of pilgrimage by the Jews, Christians, and Muslims alike.
  3. It redirected his Muslim residents away from pilgrimaging to Mecca which was in the province of his enemies.
  4. It provided a structure meant to rival the over-dominating Christian structures in Jerusalem.

The Dome of the Rock is not, and has never been, a Mosque or a place for Islam but, as mentioned above, it was built as a mashhad, a shrine for pilgrims.

In 715 AD the Al-Aqsa Mosque was built on the far southern end of the Temple Mount where the ancient chanuyot (storage house for the priests) once sat. When the Temple was destroyed in 70 AD the chanuyot were destroyed along with the Temple. Yet unlike the Temple, which was destroyed completely, a significant portion of the chanuyot survived the destructing forces. The current mosque includes rows of ancient Corinthian columns which clearly predate the Islamic architecture. Evidence also exists that a Byzantine church once sat on this spot. The mosque has been destroyed several times in earthquakes the current version dates from the first half of the 11th century.


The Poor Knights of the Temple of King Solomon, which later became abbreviated to “Knights Templar,” was a Christian religious order which occupied the Temple Mount for many years. Their history occupies about two centuries during the time of the Middle Ages. They rose from humble beginnings to become the wealthiest of all the Christian orders. They eventually garnered the favor of the Church and the collective European monarchs. It was the Knights Templar who invented the banking system used by all of the civilized world today. They believed it was their duty to protect the Temple Mount and all of Jerusalem from non-Christian invaders. After many victories they, in the end, lost the Temple Mount to the Muslims and in 1312 were disbanded due to a plot devised by King Phillip. Deeply in debt King Phillip IV of France plotted to get the riches of the Knights Templar for himself. Templar members were arrested, tortured into giving false confessions, and then burned at the stake. Any remaining Templars merged with the Order of Hospitallers. Templar Jacques De Molay recanted the false confessions that he and other Templars had been previously tortured into giving. As Molay was burning at the stake he spoke forth a prophecy proclaiming that King Phillip and Pope Clement would account for their actions before God’s court within the year. It is a chilling record of history that within one month Pope Clement was dead. By the end of the year King Phillip had died.


From the time of the Templar crusaders to the present twenty first century the Temple Mount has remained under Muslim occupation.

In 1948 Israel once again became a nation. The Temple Mount and all of east Jerusalem was captured by the Israelis during the six day war of 1967. The Chief Rabbi of Defense Forces led Israeli soldiers in religious celebrations on the Mount. More than 200,000 Jews flocked to the Mount and the Western Wall in the very first mass Jewish pilgrimage for the first time in two thousand years. The Israeli flag was hoisted high into the air from the site of the Dome of the Rock. Shofars were blown. Shouts rang out in joyous celebration. General Mordechai Gur shouted, “The Temple Mount is in our hands! I repeat, the Temple Mount is in our hands!”

Then an unexpected turn of events took place. In order to keep peace between the Jews and the Muslims the Israeli government made a decision. To the dismay of the religious Jews of Israel, Defense Minister Moshe Dayan handed the custodial keys of the Temple Mount to the Muslim Waqf. Although today Israel has sovereignty over the Mount the Waqf are the custodians of the site, empowered to decide who is permitted entry and who is forbidden.


By Dr. Curtis Ward, DD, MHC History of the Temple Mount

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Temple Mount, Ark of the covenant, Bible, Word of God, Dr. Curtis W ard, “Dr. Curtis Ward”, Dr. Curtis D. Ward, Deeper Life Church, Curtis Ward Ministries, Global outreach

Sites & Places in Jerusalem: The Temple Mount

Then Solomon began to build the Temple of the Lord in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah. It was on the threshing-floor of Araunah the Jebusite, the place provided by David, his father.

&ndash 2 Chronicles 3:1

Glory be to Him who did take His servant for a Journey by night from the Sacred Sanctuary to the farthest Sanctuary, whose precincts We did bless.

&ndash The Koran, Sura Al-Isra&rsquo 17:1

Blueprint of the Temple Mount

The Temple Mount is the trapezoid-shaped, walled-in area in the southeastern corner of the Old City of Jerusalem. The four walls surrounding it date back &ndash at least in their lower parts &ndash to the time of the Second Jewish Temple, built at the end of first century BCE These huge supporting walls, partly buried underground, were built around the summit of the eastern hill identified as Mount Moriah, the site traditionally viewed as the location of where Abraham offered his son Isaac as a sacrifice and the known location of the two Jewish temples. The gaps between the walls and the mount were filled in to create a large surface area around the Temple. Its eastern wall and the eastern half of its southern wall form part of the city wall on those sides. Deep valleys (now partly filled by debris) run outside the walls (northeast, east, south, west), thus separating the Temple Mount from and elevating it above its surroundings, both inside and outside the city.

The dimensions of the Temple Mount extend considerably beyond those given in the Mishnah (Mid. 2:1), which describes a square of approximately 250 × 250 m., referring only to the sanctified area within the Temple Mount as known today. The entire enclosure consists of an esplanade or courtyard, surrounding an elevated platform occupying approximately 36 acres of land and decorated by arched structures around the Dome of the Rock. In each of the walls there are a number of gates. Some are ancient gates such as the Golden Gate which are blocked, and some are newer gates from the Arab conquest onward which are still in service.

Within the area of the Temple Mount there are about 100 different structures from various periods, among them great works of art and craftsmanship, including open Muslim prayer spots, arches, arched porticos, Muslim religious schools, minarets, and fountains (some for drinking and others for worshipers to wash their hands and feet before prayer). Underneath the present-day surface, in the artificial parts of the mount, there are 34 cisterns. There are also other substructures, the largest of which is known as Solomon&rsquos stables.


The Temple Mount (Heb., Har Habayit Arabic, Haram esh-Sharif, the Noble Sanctuary), is identified in both Jewish and Islamic tradition as the area of Mount Moriah where Abraham offered his son in sacrifice (Genesis 22:1-18 the Koran, Sura Al-Saffat 37:102-110).

Here King Solomon built the First Temple almost 3,000 years ago. It was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BCE, but, 70 years later, Jews returning from exile built the Second Temple on the same site. King Herod began remodeling the building in 19 BCE, but it was not completed until 63 CE, long after his death at the beginning of the century.

In reaction to the &ldquoGreat Revolt&rdquo in 70 CE, the temple was destroyed by the Romans and deliberately left in ruins. When the Romans razed the Temple, they left one outer wall standing. They probably would have destroyed that wall as well, but it must have seemed too insignificant to them since it was not part of the Temple itself, just a retaining wall surrounding the Temple Mount.

After the suppression of the revolt, Jews were allowed to pray on the ruins and to bring sacrifices on the alter that remained after the temple was burned down. The Emperor Hadrian later gave Jews permission to rebuild the temple but changed his mind. After the Bar-Kokhba rebellion, Hadrian barred Jews from the area and they prayed instead on the Mount of Olives that overlooked the Temple Mount.

There is some evidence the Byzantines may have built a church on the Temple Mount at one point but the prohibition on Jews praying there remained under the Emperor Constantine, who allowed them access only on Tisha B&rsquoAv. When his nephew Julian became emperor in 361, Jews were again allowed to visit the Temple Mount and were even given permission to rebuild the temple. When Julian died two years later, however, his successor canceled the project and Christian opposition to a Jewish presence continued throughout the Byzantine period.

At various times Jews may have been allowed to pray on the Temple Mount but, wherever they lived, Jews would pray three times a day in the direction of the Temple Mount for the temple&rsquos restoration.

Following the Muslim conquest of Jerusalem in May 638, which Jews supported, Caliph Omar ibn al-Khattab ordered the clearing of the site and the building of a house of prayer. The Temple Mount was again opened to Jewish worshippers.

In 680, the Muslims built the Dome of the Rock to enshrine the outcrop of bedrock believed to be the place of the sacrifice on Mount Moriah. Nadav Shragai quotes Professor Dan Bahat who found &ldquo&lsquoit was the Jewish elders who showed the Muslims the boundaries of the Foundation Stone,&rsquo which was covered with garbage and sewage &ndash boundaries from which the Muslims derived the dimensions of the Dome of the Rock, which was built above the ancient Rock.&rdquo

According to Professor F.M. Loewenberg, the Umayyads built the Dome of the Rock to &ldquoweaken Mecca&rsquos economy by siphoning off pilgrims from Mecca.&rdquo

From that point on, the Temple Mount became a holy site for Muslims.

Jews were allowed to build a synagogue on the Temple Mount, which Loewenberg says may have been active during the early Muslim period.

The grey domed building is the al-Aqsa Mosque

The construction of the al-Aqsa Mosque (&ldquothe farthest mosque&rdquo) in 715 (some sources say 705) cemented the status of the Temple Mount as a holy site for Muslims. The place is identified as the furthermost sanctuary (Arabic, masjid al-aksa) from which the Prophet Mohammed, accompanied by the Angel Gabriel, made the Night Journey to the Throne of God (Koran, Sura Al-Isra&rsquo 17:1).

A synagogue was again built on the mount following the Fatimid conquest in 969, which remained in use until 1015. After being banned by Caliph al-Hakim, Jews returned to the mount until the arrival of the Crusaders in 1099. &ldquoThe Crusaders ascended the Temple Mount and after giving thanks to God for their victory, converted the mosques into churches, renaming the Dome of the Rock the Temple of God (Templum Domini) and al-Aqsa Mosque, the Temple of Solomon (Templum Solomnis),&rdquo notes Loewenberg. &ldquoThe mount was declared off-limits to all non-Christians and became the center of religious and civil life in Crusader Jerusalem.&rdquo

Saladin retook Jerusalem from the Crusaders in 1187 and reconverted the shrines into Muslim houses of worship. Jews were again allowed to build a synagogue but were later banned from the Temple Mount.

Jewish fortunes were reversed again following the conquest of Sultan Suleyman I in 1516 and the ascendence of the Ottoman Empire. Jews were prohibited from visiting the Temple Mount, but, in 1546, an earthquake devastated the region, damaging the Temple Mount and the surrounding area. Suleyman ordered the rubble of homes adjacent to the western wall to be cleared for a prayer site for the Jews. Suleyman issued a firman (decree) that Jews had the right to pray there for all times. This decree remained in force and was honored by his successors for more than 400 years. The area, which Loewenberg notes, was previously unknown the Jews became the second holiest place for Jews and a site of pilgrimage.

Jews still went to the Temple Mount in times when it was permitted, but some rabbinical authorities, including Maimonides, decreed that Jews should not go there because it had been the site of the Holy of Holies of the Temple (though no one knew exactly where that part of the Temple had been) and Jews could no longer achieve the level of ritual purity required to step on this holy ground. Other Jewish scholars disputed this position. Consequently, some Jews ignored the prohibition while most Orthodox Jews complied.

Israel Recaptures The Temple Mount

Following the 1948 War, Jordan occupied Jerusalem&rsquos Old City. He denied Jews access to their holy places and desecrated them.

On the second day of the 1967 Six-Day War, the Israeli Defense Forces captured Jerusalem. Col. Mordechai Gur, announced &ldquoThe Temple Mount is in our hands.&rdquo In liberating the Temple Mount, the Jewish people reclaimed control over the area for the first time since the destruction of the Second Temple.

Jews were given unfettered access to the Western Wall. The Temple Mount, however, was a different story. Initially, the chief rabbi of the IDF, Shlomo Goren, who had been with the troops and blew the shofar on the Temple Mount, set up a synagogue and office there.

Largely, out of fear of igniting a holy war with the Muslims, Dayan subsequently reversed his position and Goren was ordered to cease his activities. On June 17, 1967, a meeting was held at al-Aqsa between Dayan and Muslim religious authorities of Jerusalem reformulating the status quo. Jews were given the right to visit the Temple Mount unobstructed and free of charge if they respected Muslims&rsquo religious feelings and acted decently, but they were not allowed to pray. The Western Wall was to remain the Jewish place of prayer. &lsquoReligious sovereignty&rsquo was to remain with the Muslims while &lsquooverall sovereignty&rsquo became Israeli. Dayan&rsquos offer was objected to by the Muslims, as they totally rejected the Israeli conquest of Jerusalem and the Mount. Some Jews, led by Rabbi Goren, objected as well, claiming the decision handed over the complex to the Muslims and argued that the Western Wall&rsquos holiness is derived from the Mount and symbolizes exile, while praying on the Mount symbolizes freedom and the return of the Jewish people to their homeland.

The president of the High Court of Justice, Aharon Barak, in response to an appeal in 1976 against police interference with an individual&rsquos putative right to prayer on the site, expressed the view that, while Jews had a right to prayer there, it was not absolute but subject to the public interest and the rights of other groups. Israel&rsquos courts have considered the issue as one beyond their remit, and, given the delicacy of the matter, under political jurisdiction. He wrote:

Police continued to forbid Jews to pray on The Temple Mount. Subsequently, several prime ministers made attempts to change the status quo, but failed to do so. In October 1986, an agreement between the Temple Mount Faithful, the Supreme Muslim Council and police, which would allow short visits in small groups, was exercised once and never repeated, after 2,000 Muslims armed with stones and bottles attacked the group and stoned worshipers at the Western Wall. During the 1990s, additional attempts were made for Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount, which were stopped by Israeli police.

Until 2000, non-Muslim visitors could enter the Dome of the Rock, al-Aqsa Mosque and the Islamic Museum by getting a ticket from the Waqf. That procedure ended when the Second Intifada erupted. Fifteen years later, negotiation between Israel and Jordan might result in reopening of those sites once again.

The Temple Mount Today

Today, an Islamic waqf, or religious committee, manages the Temple Mount, though Israel provides security and upholds decisions made by the waqf about access to the site.

For Jews, visiting the Temple Mount is a very controversial subject &ndash both in terms of religious allowance and because non-Muslim prayer is prohibited at the site. Although freedom of access to the site is enshrined as law, Israel does not allow non-Muslim prayer on the Mount so as not to offend Muslim worshippers. Beyond this, many rabbi&rsquos say that since the Jewish Temple&rsquos Holy of Holies stood near the center of today&rsquos Temple Mount, Jews are religiously forbidden from entering the area.

Arabs can enter the Temple Mount through one of ten different Muslim-only gates from various sites in the Old City. Tourists and Jews are only allowed access to the site through the Mugrabi Gate which is located just above to the left of the Kotel, or Western Wall plaza.

Because of the sensitivity of the Temple Mount, Israelis enforce strict security measures for Jews and Muslims alike. For instance, during Friday prayers, any Muslim under the age of 45 is prohibited from ascending the mount a rule put in place in response to young demonstrators throwing stones at Jewish worshipers at the Western Wall. Additionally, no Jewish groups can pray in the plazas surrounding the mosques or provoke the Muslims.

The Temple Mount sifting project began in 2004, with the goal of unearthing the hidden history of one of the holiest places in the world. Since it&rsquos inception over 170,000 tourists and locals have participated in the project, sifting through mounds of rubble and dirt in attempts to find ancient coins and other items. Archaeologist Dr. Gabriel Barkay oversees the excavation, and claims that approximately 50% of the earth removed from the Temple Mount site has revealed insights into the history of Jerusalem. Discoveries have included coins, pottery shards, building fragments, arrowheads, and ancient seals.

In 2005, the bridge leading to the Mugrabi Gate collapsed after a landslide occured on the site following heavy winter storms and two years later, Israel decided to build a temporary, detour bridge to ensure non-Muslim access to the Mount. Israel had also considered renovating the centuries-old bridge, but their decision was widely assailed by Palestinians as an attempt to destroy their historical site. Though this claim was patently false, Israel decided to not go ahead with construction so as not to inflame an already volatile region.

In 2011, the Western Wall Foundation forced the government to close the four-year old temporary bridge leading to the Mugrabi Gate for fear that its instability could lead to its collapsing.

Three police officers were injured after the Temple Mount opened to non-Muslim visitors on October 8, 2014, in clashes between masked Palestinian individuals and the police officers. The masked individuals began throwing rocks, pieces of metal, large cinderblocks and molotov cocktails, and spraying flamable materials at the officers soon after the Mugrabi entrance to the Temple Mount opened. The Mugrabi entrance is the only entrance to the Temple Mount specifically for non-Muslim visitors, located near the Western Wall. As the calendar counted down to Sukkot, more and more Jewish individuals came to visit the holy site, causing increased tensions.

According to Israeli police, in advance of the disturbance the masked Palestinians had placed objects to block the police access to areas of the Temple Mount, and poured flamable liquid on objects in the vicinity that they later attempted to set ablaze with their molotov cocktails. After the initial clash, the rioters were chased into the al-Aqsa Mosque where they baracaded the doors with large marble slabs, furniture, and wood posts. Bricks, rocks and fireworks were thrown at the officers from inside of the mosque, causing great permanent damage to the interior, and the rioters also sprayed an unidentified flamable substance on the officers which made breathing difficult. Three officers were hit and injured with rocks and fireworks. A fire broke out inside of the mosque, started by a stun grenade thrown in by an Israeli security officer. Five arrests were made and dozens of Palestinians were injured during these clashes. Calm was restored to the Temple Mount later in the day and the site was opened again to the public after remaining closed for a short period of time.

On October 17, 2014, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas gave a speech in which he stated the Palestinians have to prevent the settlers from entering the Temple Mount by any means. He insisted, It is our mosque and they have no right to enter and desecrate it. On many occasions Abbas has used the lie that &ldquoal-Aqsa is in danger&rdquo to provoke violence against Israelis.

Tensions rose to critical levels following violence at the Temple Mount and al-Aqsa Mosque in late 2014. Following tense weeks of riots in Jerusalem surrounding access to the Temple Mount and the al-Aqsa Mosque, on November 1, 2014, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met in secret with Jordanian King Abdullah II in Jordan&rsquos capital city of Amman. During the meeting Netanyahu and King Abdullah discussed security at the Temple Mount and the al-Aqsa Mosque: members of the Jordanian Waqf Authority are stationed at the al-Aqsa Mosque and help provide security. The purpose of this meeting was to coordinate security measures at the holy site between the Jordainain Waqf Authority and the IDF. A few days after the meeting, Netanyahu called King Abdullah and assured him that the Jordanian special status at the Temple Mount would not change.

Violence and Incitement

Palestinian individuals participated in various acts of violence and incitement at the Temple Mount and al-Aqsa Mosque during October and November 2014. Protestors with bags over their hands and feet and masks on their faces to obstruct their appearance flung rocks, molotov cocktails, cinderblocks, and other items at Israeli security forces on multiple occasions. On November 13, 2014, more than 60 foreign Ambassadors and Diplomats stationed in Israel were briefed by the Israeli Police Commissioner and Deputy Foreign Minister about the status of the recent situation at the Temple Mount. During the briefing they were shown photos and videos of Palestinian individuals building barriers and other obstructions with trash cans and other materials to prevent security personnel from accessing certain areas of the grounds, and hurling fireworks and molotov cocktails from within the al-Aqsa Mosque where there is abundant historical and irreplacable material. The only harm that came to the al-Aqsa Mosque came from the Palestinians themselves.

In early 2015, Palestinian women began to &ldquoprotect&rdquo the al-Aqsa Mosque from Jews, with one woman stating that &ldquoeverybody must protect Al Aqsa so the Jews don&rsquot take it. They have their eyes on it.&rdquo The dean of Islamic studies at Al-Quds University, Mustafa Abu Sway, stated that &ldquothere is no similar situation&rdquo in Islamic history where women had taken such an active role in the gaurding of a holy site. The women chanted at Jewish visitors, hurled anti-Semitic slurs, and chased Jewish individuals, leading some of them to be banned from the holy complex.

A large group of masked Palestinian protestors attacked Israeli security forces at the Temple Mount with rocks, molotov cocktails, homemade explosives, firecrackers, and peices of wood during the weekend of July 25, 2015. The protestors brought these dangerous items with them to the al-Aqsa Mosque, with the intention of using them to attack Israelis who had gathered at the Western Wall for the mourning and fasting holiday of Tisha B&rsquoAv. After initially clashing with Israeli security forces, the protestors retreated inside of the al-Aqsa Mosque and began throwing items at police officers from within the Mosque. In response, the police officers ventured inside of the Mosque and closed the doors and windows, which diffused the situation. Hundreds of Jewish individuals visited the Western Wall during the holiday.

Members of the Israel Allies Foundation&rsquos Congressional caucus were harassed by a group of Arab men while they visited the Temple Mount on August 11, 2015. The group of U.S. Congressmen were visiting the Temple Mount as a part of their planned trip to the Middle East, and were, &ldquoimmediately approached by several men who started shouting,&rdquo upon their arrival to the holy site, according to Representative Keith Rothfus, Congressman from Pennsylvania. Rothfus continued, describing that the group of Congressmen were, &ldquotracked the entire time we were there and we found these individuals surprisingly intollerant and belligerent.&rdquo Arab men at the Temple Mount shouted at the Congressmen&rsquos wives that they should cover themselves, even though they were wearing long sleve shirts and ankle-length skirts. Allegedly Jordanian Waqf gaurds, who carry the responsibility of providing security at the Temple Mount, began harassing the guide who was leading the Congressmen and trying to take his maps away. Police were called to break up the commotion as a group of 15-20 individuals began shouting at the Congressmen, and for the rest of their visit the group was followed by several Arab men who continued to intimidate and antagonize them.

Palestinian leaders spread false rumors in late 2015 that Israeli authorities were considering altering the status-quo at the Temple Mount and allowing Jews to pray in the mosques, which stoked the flames of violence. Palestinian Muslim protestors and Israeli police clashed on the Temple Mount during the weekend of September 12, 2015. Palestinian youths and young adults holed up inside the al-Aqsa Mosque and flung molotov cocktails and large rocks at the security forces attempting to keep the peace among chaos. Twenty-six Palestinians were injured during the confrontation along with five Israeli policemen. The violence damaged the windows and the carpets inside the mosque. In response to this violence, Israeli officials ramped up security and deployed additional soldiers and police officers in the area surrounding the Temple Mount. The following weekend Palestinian protestors once again clashed with Israeli security officers at the Temple Mount, but the situation was much more controlled.

Following a series of terror attacks targetting Israelis during September and October 2015, Israeli authorities implemented age restrictions on the Temple Mount for the second time in less than one year, and closed Palestinian access to the Old City. On October 4, 2015, Israeli security officials announced that they were banning non-resident Palestinians from the Old City of Jerusalem, as well as banning Muslims under the age of 50 from the al-Aqsa mosque compound. The security forces had most recently restricted access to the mosque only to patrons over 50 years of age in November 2014. Although these restrictions were lifted two days later, the violence escalated. During the subsequent week seven Israelis were killed and twenty were injured by Palestinian terrorists, mostly in stabbing attacks. These &ldquolone wolf&rdquo attacks are unpredictable and impossible to prevent, often spontaneous and deadly. The Israeli military deployed reserve troops throughout Jerusalem during the second weekend of October to assist security forces in countering this wave of violent attacks. Six companies worth of troops were deployed in Jerusalem on October 13, and security gaurds were on high alert country-wide. The violence continued into the next week.

On October 20, 2015, the Palestinians, backed by six Arab states, succeeded in erasing the historical connection between Jews and their holy sites by convincing the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to list the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron and Rachel&rsquos Tomb in Bethlehem as Muslim sites. The resolution, which passed 26-6 with 25 abstentions, also condemned Israel for archaeological excavations in the Old City of Jerusalem and particularly near the Temple Mount.

The Arabs also wanted to designate the Western Wall as an extension of, and part of the al-Aqsa Mosque, but they were forced to back down after a storm of international protest and the opposition of UNESCO&rsquos Director-General. The final draft also softened some of the anti-Israel rhetoric and omitted a reference to Jerusalem as the &ldquooccupied capital of Palestine.&rdquo Israel called the resolution &ldquoshameful.&rdquo

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced on October 24, 2015, that Israeli and Jordanian authorities had agreed to various steps aimed at reducing tensions at the holy site. After meeting with Israeli leaders as well as Jordanian King Abdullah and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Kerry stated that all parties involved agreed to consider having round-the-clock video monitoring installed at the site. All sides reaffirmed the Jordanian commitment to keep the current status-quo at the Temple Mount. Israel agreed that fully respects Jordan&rsquos role as custodian of the site, has no intention of dividing the site, and will work with Jordanian authorities to ensure that visitors and worshipers of various religions respect each other.

Israel and Jordan officially signed an agreement for the installation of security cameras at the Temple Mount on March 6, 2016. The feed would be monitored by both Israeli and Jordanian authorities, and there would be no cameras placed inside the al-Aqsa mosque. Installation of the security cameras was expected to be completed by Passover 2016. After the Palestinians objected, however, Jordanian Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour called off the agreement on April 18, 2016, stating, &ldquoas we respect the points of views of our brethren in Palestine in general and in Jerusalem in particular, and because we always affirm our full support to the Palestinians and their aspirations at all times, we found that this project is a point of contentious and therefore, we decided to halt its implementation.&rdquo

UNESCO Erases Jewish History

The executive board of UNESCO adopted a resolution on April 15, 2016, which ignores the historic Jewish connection to the Temple Mount. The resolution refers to the entire Temple Mount area only as the al-Aqsa Mosque, only referring to the Temple Mount in parenthesis. The UNESCO executive board solely blamed Israel for the violence that occured at the Temple Mount in Fall 2015, completely omitting any mention of the aggression and instigation by Muslim rioters. The resolution addressed the period of violence that began in October 2015, citing &ldquoconstant aggressions by the Israeli settlers,&rdquo as the primary catalyst and failing to mention the Palestinians who continue to attack Israelis or the 34 Israelis who were killed in these attacks. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a statement in response to the resolution, accusing UNESCO of &ldquorewriting a basic part of human history.&rdquo

Israeli security officials made the decision to lengthen the time in the mornings dedicated to Jewish and non-Muslim visitations to the al-Aqsa compound by one hour. This decision, announced on December 5, 2016, allows Jews and non-Muslims to visit the al-Aqsa compound from 7:30 a.m. to 11 a.m., instead of 10 a.m.

On July 13, 2017, three Arab-Israeli gunmen approached the ancient stone gates near the Temple Mount and murdered two Arab-Israeli police officers from Israel&rsquos Druze community (Ha&rsquoil Satawi and Kamil Shnaan). A third police officer was lightly wounded. The shooters were subsequently killed by Israeli security forces. Israeli authorities shut down the holy site for two days for searches and subsequently learned an accomplice had hid the weapons used in the attack in the al-Aqsa mosque.

This was only the third time the Temple Mount had been closed since the 1967 War. It was reopened on July 15, 2017, with newly installed metal detectors, which Israelis officials said were necessary to ensure the safety of visitors to the site. Cameras were added a few days later. The security measures are similar to those used at other holy sites around the world nevertheless, Palestinians and some other Muslims outside Israel claimed they altered the status quo of the holy site.

Fatah subsequently incited violent protests and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas announced he was cancelling all cooperative activities with Israel until the detectors were removed. Meanwhile, the Waqf called for worshippers to avoid the Temple Mount if the security measures remained in place.

On July 24, 2017, Israel decided to remove the cameras and metal detectors to defuse the situation while considering the introduction of other security measures.

Dome of the Rock

The Dome of the Rock (Arabic, Qubbat al-Sakhra) is one of the most recognizable architectural glories of the world. It is the oldest Muslim religious building outside Arabia. The design of the building is basically Byzantine - double octagonal ambulatories encircling the Holy Rock. It is a shrine and not a mosque and sometimes inaccurately referred to as the Mosque of Omar.

The Dome of the Rock is an architectural expression of the ascendancy of Islam. The interior glass mosaics in the drum and dome contain representations of Byzantine imperial jewelry, and one of the ornate inscriptions &ldquoHe is God. He is One. He has no companion. He does not Beget. He is not begotten&rdquo (cf. Qur&rsquoan IX, 31-3 CXII, 1-3) affirms that God is One and not three and that Jesus was an apostle of God and His Word, and not His son.

The shrine stands on or near the approximate site of the Jewish Temple (though scholars disagree whether it was the Holy of Holies or the Altar that stood on the site of the rock). It has even been suggested that the Temple building stood 80 meters further north, on the site of the small 16th-century Qubbat al-Arwah (Arabic, Dome of the Winds or Spirits) on an east-west axis with the present Golden Gate.

The exterior of the Dome of the Rock has undergone several restorations. The exterior tiles were last restored in 1963 the gold-leafed dome in 1994).

Al-Aqsa Mosque

The al-Aqsa Mosque, at the south end of the Temple Mount platform, is the third holiest place in Islam after the Ka&rsquoaba in Mecca and the Prophet&rsquos Mosque in Medina. It was last rebuilt in 1035 and has since undergone several restorations - most recently in 1938-42 and again beginning in 1969 to repair extensive damage from a fire deliberately set by a deranged Christian tourist.

The design of the building is that of a basilica with a narrow central nave flanked by six aisles (14 aisles in an earlier 8th-century phase). The decoration of the mihrab (prayer niche) in the south wall was a gift of the Sultan Salah al-Din (Saladin). The beautiful inlaid cedar wood minbar (pulpit), also donated to the mosque by Salah al-Din was destroyed in the 1969 fire.

A stairway in front of the north entrance to the al-Aqsa Mosque leads down to a vaulted passageway and the walled-up Hulda Gates, which had been an entrance to the Temple Mount Platform at the time of the Herodian Second Temple.

During the Mamluk and Ottoman periods and until the mid-19th century, non-Muslims were not permitted onto the Haram. The first known exception was made by order of the Ottoman Sultan in 1862, during the visit of the Prince of Wales, the future King Edward VII.

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.
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A.I. Kook, Mishpat Kohen (1966 2 ), no. 96. ET, 3 (1951), 224&ndash41. 10 (1961), 578&ndash87l.
Lambert Dolphin, Visiting the Temple Mount.
The Jerusalem Report, (January 16, 2012).
Ari Soffer, &ldquoUNESCO Passes Arab Resolution: Cave of Patriarchs &lsquoIslamic,&rsquo&rdquo Israel National News, (October 21, 2012).
F. M. Loewenberg, &ldquoDid Jews Abandon the Temple Mount?&rdquo Middle East Quarterly, (Summer 2013), pp. 37-48.
Nadav Shragai, &ldquoThe &ldquoAl-Aksa Is in Danger&rdquo Libel: The History of a Lie,&rdquo JCPA, (October 7, 2014).
Lazar Berman, &ldquoRioters hole up in mosque amid fierce Temple Mount melee,&rdquo Times of Israel, (October 8, 2014).
&ldquoHundreds of Gazans visit Jerusalem for first time since 2007,&rdquo Haaretz, (October 5, 2014).
Renee Ghert-Zaand, &ldquoYehudah Glick, shot in Jerusalem, works for Jews&rsquo right to pray on Temple Mount,&rdquo Times of Israel, (October 30, 2014).
Luke Baker, &ldquoClashes erupt as Israeli police kill Palestinian suspected of shooting Jewish far-rightist,&rdquo Reuters, (October 30, 2014).
Jodi Rudoren, &ldquoIsrael to repoen contested holy site in Jerusalem,&rdquo New York Times, (October 31, 2014).
Nir Hasson, &ldquoTemple Mount activist released from hospital, lauds Arab medical workers.&rdquo Haaretz, (November 24, 2014).
Diaa Hadid, &ldquoPalestinian women join effort to keep Jews from contested holy site,&rdquo New York Times, (April 17, 2015).
&ldquoPalestinian rioters attack police on Temple Mount,&rdquo Times of Israel, (July 26, 2015).
Lahav Harkov, &ldquoArabs harass US congressmen during visit to Temple Mount,&rdquo Jerusalem Post, (August 11, 2015).
Tovah Lazaroff, &ldquoUNESCO adopts resolution ignoring Jewish ties to Temple Mount,&rdquo Jerusalem Post, (April 15, 2016).
&ldquoPM: Jordan cancels plan to install cameras in Al Aqsa Mosque,&rdquo, (April 18, 2016).
&ldquoIsrael closes al-Aqsa mosque till end of Ramadan after clashes,&rdquo Ahram Online, (June 28, 2016).
&ldquoIsraeli police extends time for non-Muslim visitation at Al-Aqsa Mosque compound,&rdquo Maan News, (December 5, 2016).
Ian Deitch. Islamic leaders boycott Jerusalem site over metal detectors, Yahoo News, (July 17, 2017).
Karin Laub. Metal detectors at Jerusalem site trigger new tensions, AP, (July 18, 2017).
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Photos courtesy of the Israeli Foreign Ministry
Aerial view of Temple Mount and Facade of al-Aqsa - Andrew Shiva / Wikipedia. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.
Interior of mosque - Aseel zm, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

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