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The Temple Mount and today's Mount Zion, Jerusalem
The Dome of the Rock on
the Temple Mount (Upper Eastern Hill, 740 m, 2,428 ft) can be seen
from all over Jerusalem. More dominant than the Eastern Hill is the
Western Hill (today's Mt Zion, 772 m, 2,534 ft) where Saint Mary the
Virgin, Mother of Our Lord Jesus Christ fell asleep (The Dormition),
and was taken body and soul to heaven (The Assumption of Saint Mary
into Heaven). Fine Art Photography by Zbigniew Halat
Answer: The Temple Mount is the
holiest site in Judaism, the third holiest site in Islam, and a revered
site to Christians. To the Jews it is known as Har
HaMoriyah (“Mount Moriah”) and Har HaBayit (“Temple
Mount”); to Muslims it is known as Haram el Sharif (“the
Sacred Noble Sanctuary”). In the Bible it is also called Mount Zion (Psalm 48:2;Isaiah 4:5).
Because of its importance to three major religions, its ownership has
been hotly contested for nearly two thousand years. Today the Temple
Mount is under the control of the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf, a trust that
was established in 1187 to manage the Islamic structures in Jerusalem.
Under their current rules, access to the holy sites is prohibited to
According to the Bible (Genesis 22:1–14),
God told Abraham to bring his son Isaac to the land of Moriah (meaning
“Chosen by Yah”) and offer him as a sacrifice on a mountain there. As
Abraham was about to complete the sacrifice, God stopped him and
provided a ram as a substitutionary sacrifice. In this same location,
nearly 1,000 years later, God led Solomon to build the First Temple (2 Chronicles 3:1).
David had identified this location as the place for worshiping God
because it was here the plague was stayed when he confessed his sin,
and he purchased the place so he could build an altar (1 Chronicles 21:18–26).
Solomon’s Temple stood until the Babylonians destroyed it in 586 BC.
Zerubbabel led the efforts to build the Second Temple, which was
completed in 516 BC, then enlarged by Herod the Great in 12 BC. The
Second Temple was destroyed by the Romans in AD 70, fulfilling Jesus’
words in Mark 13:1–2.
As the Roman Empire was fading,
Mohammed and his teaching of Islam was rising in the Middle East.
According to the Quran (Surah 17:1), Mohammed made a miraculous night
journey from Mecca to Jerusalem in AD 621. There he led worship at “the
farthest mosque,” was lifted to heaven, and returned to earth to carry
on his teachings. At that time there was no mosque in Jerusalem, but 15
years later, Caliph Umar built a small mosque to commemorate the
prophet’s night visit. The Al Aqsa Mosque (“the farthest mosque”) was
built in AD 705, then rebuilt in 754, 780, and 1035. The Dome of the Rockwas
built in AD 692 over the place where Mohammad supposedly ascended to
heaven. This rock is also identified by Christians and Jews as the
place where Abraham offered Isaac and the location of the Holy of
Holies in the Jewish temple. During the Crusades, Christians took
temporary control of the Temple Mount, and the Al Aqsa Mosque was used
as a palace and church in 1099.
The Temple Mount continues to be the
center of controversy today. Though they are barred from entering the
Muslim areas, Jews pray at the Western Wall (also known as the Wailing Wall),
part of the remaining structure of the Temple Mount from the time of
the Second Temple. The Islamic Waqf has created controversy with their
decision to allow major renovations to the underground areas of the
Temple Mount without regard to archaeological artifacts. Huge loads of
earth have been removed from the area and dumped elsewhere.
Archaeologists sifting through the dumped earth have recovered several
artifacts of Jewish origin, though nothing that can be directly tied to
the Jewish temple. Many Jews are making preparations for the Third
Temple to be built on the site, and Christians also look with interest
on those preparations. According to the prophecy of Daniel 9:27,
it appears that there will be another temple built, for there will be
sacrifices that are stopped by the Antichrist. Since the other parts of
Daniel’s prophecies were fulfilled literally, leading up to Jesus’ life
and death, we look for this part to be literally fulfilled also.
Golden Gate (sealed) is the only eastern gate of the Temple Mount. The
Kidron Valley runs along the eastern wall of Jerusalem, separating the
Temple Mount from the Mount of Olives. Christians, Muslims and Jews
buried in the Valley of the Kidron are expected to be among the first
to rise from the dead. Fine Art Photography by Zbigniew Halat
of the Dormition of the Order of Saint Benedict, Mount Zion, Jerusalem.
Here Saint Mary the Virgin fell asleep, and was taken body and soul to
heaven (The Assumption of Saint Mary into Heaven). Fine Art Photography
by Zbigniew Halat