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The Temple Mount

The Temple Mount is a raised and walled area of about 36 acres on the east side of the Old City of Jerusalem. It is in an area that is also known as Mount Moriah.  Mount Moriah was first mentioned in the Bible when Abraham obeyed God and took his son Isaac to a mountain in Moriah to sacrifice him. (Genesis 22.2) [Thankfully, he did not have to sacrifice his son, because God provided a ram as a substitute.] This area is also mentioned in II Chronicles 3:1: “Then Solomon began to build the house of the LORD in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah.”
This first temple was built by Solomon from around 966-957 BCE. It was a magnificent temple that you can read about in II Chronicles 2-8.   It was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BCE, and most of the people of Israel were taken into captivity.  About 50 years later, some of them started to return.  As they did, they rebuilt slowly.  The second temple was completed about 515 BCE under the leadership of Zerubbabel.  This is chronicled in the Books of Ezra and Nehemiah.  Many years later in 20 BCE, King Herod enlarged the platform on which the temple was built and then refurbished it. This splendid structure that had taken 46 years to build (John 2.20) in the time of Jesus and it was not finished until 63 CE after the time of Jesus.  And then it was destroyed again in 70 CE by Titus’ Roman army.  There has been no temple since that time.
For many years during the Byzantine Empire, nothing was built there, but in 638 CE the Muslims conquered Jerusalem and the Dome of the Rock was built in 691CE.  This is the eye-catching, golden-domed structure that you see today.  The dome was actually blackened lead until 1959-1962, when it was covered with gold leaf.  The Muslims have also added the smaller Dome of the Chain, next to the Dome of the Rock, and the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the south side of the Temple Mount.

Dome of the Chain

In the Islamic tradition, this is the place of King David’s Court of Justice.  In addition, according to SJTM, her theory indicates that the Dome of the Chain is approximately located at the entrance of the first and second Temple, and to the east of this spot was the location of the sacrificial altar. (*Photo was contributed by Dr. Rasmussen.)

entrance to the structure

This is the entrance to the Old AQSSA Mosque and the library.

*Photo was contributed by Dr. Rasmussen.

Where was the first temple situated?

These are the steps of stairs to the Temple Mount.  However, the irregular stones indicate that something is obscure.  After Herod the Great (37-4 BCE) doubled the size of the Temple Mount by building the second Temple, scholars have been trying to locate the original Temple Mount.

Based on SJTM, it says: “The unobtrusive, stone blocks at the foot of the staircase are the keys to locating the original square Temple Mount…. What looked like a bottom step was, in fact, a wall of ashlars.” (SJTM 70)

Ritmeyer’s archaeological research, which was relying on the clues from the text of Jewish historian Josephus, the Jewish tractate, Middot, and Captain Charles Warren, found out that the length of a line that Ritmeyer measured was 500 royal cubits.  It is the measurement given in an ancient Jewish source for each side, 500 x 500 royal cubits, of the Temple square platform (SJTM 69).

The herodian stone

A typical, large Herodian stone structure is seen around the area of the Temple Mount.

The Heat of religion and politics

The Temple Mount has been fought over by many religious and political groups throughout history.  It is the location for Israel’s two temples, which make it a special place for Jews and Christians alike.  Also it is known to Muslims as the Haram al-Sharif (the Noble Sanctuary) and, according to Islamic tradition, is the site of Muhammad’s ascent to heaven(seventh century).
Since the 1967 Six Day War, the temple mount is policed by the State of Israel, the daily administration is managed by the Islamic Waqf ( which is sponsored by a Jordanian-appointed council).   The Israel polices control the entrances to the Temple Mount.  Muslims are allowed to enter and pray on the Temple Mount.  Non-Muslims are allowed to visit the site through Moors Gate for a very limited time but not to pray, worship, or display any religious symbols.  In addition, some of the Waqf guards do not allow visitors to mention the name of “Temple Mount”, because they do not believe there was ever a Jewish temple there. 
Since the first and second temples’ exact locations are unknown, for many years, many rabbis prohibit Jews from ascending the mount to avoid the risk of treading on a sacred site.  But today there is renewed interest among some rabbis for Jews to be able to visit and pray at the Temple Mount because they think there is great virtue.   Also, Israel polices begin to allow Jewish to pray on the mount more openly than years ago.

what is the white stuff on The trees?

The white stuff on the trees is there to keep the bugs away.

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