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Wednesday, July 8, 2015

I wanted to go to the Temple Mount today but it is closed to non-Muslims because of Ramadan.  So I went to the Western Wall (Wailing Wall) and the Southern wall (there are the original steps that lead to the Temple - Jesus had to also have used these for all his trips into the Temple) and enjoyed the day in the Jewish Quarter.

The Temple Mount is one of the most important religious sites in the Old City of Jerusalem. It has been used as a religious site for thousands of years. At least four religious traditions are known to have made use of the Temple Mount area: Judaism, Christianity, Roman religion, and Islam. The site is dominated by two monumental structures: the al-Aqsa Mosque, the Dome of the Rock (or the Golden Dome - no not the one in South Bend)

The Temple Mount is the holiest site in Judaism, which regards it as the place where God's divine presence is manifested more than any other place. According to 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 the location of Abraham's offering of Isaac for sacrifice.  Also, both Jewish Temples stood at the Temple Mount.  According to Jewish tradition and scripture (2 Chronicles 3:1-2), the first temple was built by King Solomon the son of King David in 957 BC and destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BC. The second was built in 516 BC and destroyed by the Roman Empire in 70 AD.  Afterwards the site remained undeveloped for six centuries, until the Arab conquest. The location is the holiest site in Judaism and is the place Jews turn towards it during prayer. They pray that the Temple will be rebuilt.  2000 years of praying for something.  So you thought you prayed for something.  Get in line behind the Jews.    

Most Jews will not walk on the Mount itself, to avoid unintentionally walking on the area where the Holy of Holies once stood.  It was from the Holy of Holies that the High Priest communicated directly with God. That's why they pray at the Western Wall. Just wanted to show you that I really was there.

Among Sunni Muslims, the Mount is widely considered the third holiest site in Islam. Revered as the Noble Sanctuary and the location of Muhammad's journey to Jerusalem and ascent to heaven.  After the Muslim conquest of Jerusalem in 637 AD, 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 Islamic structures in the world, after Mecca. The Dome of the Rock currently sits in the middle, occupying or close to the area where the Temple previously stood.

In light of the claims of both Judaism and Islam, it is one of the most contested religious sites in the world. Since the Crusades (1100's), the Muslim community of Jerusalem has managed the site. In an attempt to keep the status quo, the Israeli government enforces a ban on prayer by non-Muslims. So the Jews pray before the wall at the level where Solomon first built the temple to house the Ark of the Covenant.  Once again, what a shame that all religions can't get along.

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