Believers Word Centre
8/10/17 at 10:27 AM 0 Comments

Historical Signficance Of Temple Mount

text size A A A

Introduction

The temple mount has historical and religious significance for all three of the major Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. It has particular religious significance for Judaism and Islam, and the competing claims of these faith communities has made it one of the most contested religious sites in the world.

Judaism

The Temple Mount is the holiest site in Judaism, which regards it as the place where God's divine presence is manifested more than in any other place, and is the place Jews turn towards during prayer. Due to its extreme sanctity, many Jews will not walk on the Mount itself, to avoid unintentionally entering the area where the Holy of Holies stood, since according to Rabbinical law, some aspect of the divine presence is still present at the site. It was from the Holy of Holies that the High Priest communicated directly with God.

According to the rabbinic sages whose debates produced the Talmud, it was from here the world expanded into its present form and where God gathered the dust used to create the first human, Adam. Since at least the first century , the site has been associated in Judaism with Mount Moriah ; Mount Moriah is the name given by the Hebrew Bible to the location of Abraham's binding of Isaac, this identification being perpetuated by Jewish and Christian tradition.

 The Foundation Stone

Jewish connection and veneration to the site arguably stems from the fact that it contains the Foundation Stone which, according to the rabbis of the Talmud, was the spot from where the world was created and expanded into its current form. It was subsequently the Holy of Holies of the Temple, the Most Holy Place in Judaism.Jewish tradition names it as the location for a number of important events which occurred in the Bible, including the Binding of Isaac, Jacob's dream, and the prayer of Isaac and Rebekah. Similarly, when the Bible recounts that King David purchased a threshing floor owned by Araunah the Jebusite,[24] tradition locates it as being on this mount. An early Jewish text, the Genesis Rabba, states that this site is one of three about which the nations of the world cannot taunt Israel and say "you have stolen them," since it was purchased "for its full price" by David.According to the Bible, David wanted to construct a sanctuary there, but this was left to his son Solomon, who completed the task in c. 950 BCE with the construction of the First Temple.

According to the Bible, both Jewish Temples stood at the Temple Mount, though archaeological evidence only exists for the Second Temple.However, the identification of Solomon's Temple with the area of the Temple Mount is widespread. According to the Bible the site should function as the center of all national life—a governmental, judicial and religious center.During the Second Temple period it functioned also as an economic center. According to Jewish tradition and scripture,the First Temple was built by King Solomon the son of King David in 957 BCE and destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BCE. The second was constructed under the auspices of Zerubbabel in 516 BCE and destroyed by the Roman Empire in 70 CE. In the 2nd century, the site was used for a temple to Jupiter Capitolinus. It was redeveloped following the Arab conquest. Jewish texts predict that the Mount will be the site of a Third and final Temple, which will be rebuilt with the coming of the Jewish Messiah. A number of vocal Jewish groups now advocate building the Third Holy Temple without delay in order to bring to pass God's "end-time prophetic plans for Israel and the entire world.

Several passages in the Hebrew Bible indicate that during the time when they were written, the Temple Mount was identified as Mount Zion.The Mount Zion mentioned in the later parts of the Book of Isaiah (Isaiah 60:14), in the Book of Psalms, and the First Book of Maccabees (c. 2nd century BCE) seems to refer to the top of the hill, generally known as the Temple Mount.[According to the Book of Samuel, Mount Zion was the site of the Jebusite fortress called the "stronghold of Zion", but once the First Temple was erected, according to the Bible, at the top of the Eastern Hill ("Temple Mount"), the name "Mount Zion" migrated there too. The name later migrated for a last time, this time to Jerusalem's Western Hill.

Christianity

The Temple was of central importance in Jewish worship, in the Tanakh and the Christian Old Testament. In the New Testament, Herod's Temple was the site of several events in the life of Jesus, and Christian loyalty to the site as a focal point remained long after his death. After the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE, which came to be regarded by early Christians, as it was by Josephus and the sages of the Jerusalem Talmud, to be a divine act of punishment for the sins of the Jewish people, the Temple Mount lost its significance for Christian worship with the Christians considering it a fulfillment of Christ's prophecy at, for example, Matthew 23:28 and 24:2. It was to this end, proof of a biblical prophecy fulfilled and of Christianity's victory over Judaism with the New Covenant,that early Christian pilgrims also visited the site.Byzantine Christians, despite some signs of constructive work on the esplanade, generally neglected the Temple Mount, especially when a Jewish attempt to rebuild the Temple was destroyed by the earthquake in 363. and it became a desolate local rubbish dump, perhaps outside the city limits, as Christian worship in Jerusalem shifted to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and Jerusalem's centrality was replaced by Rome.

During the Byzantine era, Jerusalem was primarily Christian and pilgrims came by the tens of thousands to experience the places where Jesus walked.[citation needed] After the Persian invasion in 614 many churches were razed and the site was turned into a dumpyard. The Arabs conquered the city from the Byzantine Empire which had retaken it in 629. The Byzantine ban on the Jews was lifted and they were allowed to live inside the city and visit the places of worship. Christian pilgrims were able to come and experience the Temple Mount area. The war between Seljuqs and Byzantine Empire and increasing Muslim violence against Christian pilgrims to Jerusalem instigated the Crusades. The Crusaders captured Jerusalem in 1099 and the Dome of the Rock was given to the Augustinians, who turned it into a church, and the Al-Aqsa Mosque became the royal palace of Baldwin I of Jerusalem in 1104. The Knights Templar, who believed the Dome of the Rock was the site of the Solomon's Temple, gave it the name "Templum Domini" and set up their headquarters in the Al-Aqsa Mosque adjacent to the Dome for much of the 12th century.

In Christian art, the Circumcision of Jesus was conventionally depicted as taking place at the Temple, even though European artists until recently had no way of knowing what the Temple looked like and the Gospels do not state that the event took place at the Temple.

Though some Christians believe that the Temple will be reconstructed before, or concurrent with, the Second Coming of Jesus (also see dispensationalism), pilgrimage to the Temple Mount is not viewed as essential in the beliefs and worship of most Christians. The New Testament recounts a story of a Samaritan woman asking Jesus about the appropriate place to worship, Jerusalem or the Samaritan holy place at Mount Gerizim, to which Jesus replies,

"Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth."(John 4:21-24)

This has been construed to mean that Jesus dispensed with physical location for worship, which was a matter rather of spirit and truth.

Islam

Facade of the Al-Aqsa Mosque

Almost immediately after the Muslim conquest of Jerusalem in 638 CE, Caliph 'Omar ibn al Khatab, disgusted by the filth covering the site, had it thoroughly cleaned, and granted Jews access to the site. Among Sunni Muslims, the Mount is widely considered the third holiest site in Islam. Revered as the Noble Sanctuary, the location of Muhammad's journey to Jerusalem and ascent to heaven, the site is also associated with Jewish biblical prophets who are also venerated in Islam.[50] Muslims preferred to use the esplanade as the heart for the Muslim quarter, since it had been abandoned by Christians, to avoid disturbing the Christian quarters of Jerusalem.Umayyad Caliphs commissioned the construction of the al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock on the site.The Dome was completed in 692 CE, making it one of the oldest extant Islamic structures in the world. The Al Aqsa Mosque rests on the far southern side of the Mount, facing Mecca. The Dome of the Rock currently sits in the middle, occupying or close to the area where the Holy Temple previously stood.

Why is Temple mount signficant in the current affairs .What is signficance of moving US Embassy to Jerusalem

In the the next series l will look into these issues.

CP Blogs do not necessarily reflect the views of The Christian Post. Opinions expressed are solely those of the author(s).