Temple Mount – Jerusalem


View to the east


View of the Temple Mount


Temple Mount view

Temple Mount – Jerusalem

A walled-in platform site in ancient times of both the First and Second Temple – the religious and national focal point of the Jewish people for many generations.

Located in southeast corner of the Old City of Jerusalem. Today occupied by the following structures: Dome of the Rock (sometimes erroneously called Mosque of Omar), Mosque of el Aqsa, Dome of the Chain, Dome of the Prophet, and Dome of Elijah. At the northwest end of the mount are remains of the Antonia Fortress. On its western flank is the Western Wall, part of the retaining wall of the Temple Mount.

Jewish tradition, as mentioned in the Bible (II Chronicles 3:I), designates the site as Mt. Moriah, where Abraham went to sacrifice Isaac. The First Temple was constructed by King Solomon on the threshing floor purchased by King David from Araunah, the Jebusite (II Samuel 24:18 ff.). The First Temple was destroyed by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon in 586 BCE. The Second Temple was built by Jews who returned from the Babylonian captivity in 515 BCE. During the Hellenistic Period, the Temple was used as a place of pagan worship by Antiochus Epiphanes, until it was cleansed by Judah Maccabee in 164 BCE. It was enlarged and embellished by King Herod in 22 BCE. Destroyed by Roman commander Titus in 70 CE. After the failure of the Bar Kokhba revolt (131-135 CE) a pagan temple to Jupiter was built here and Jews were forbidden to enter the Temple Mount.

For many subsequent generations the area was desolate. After the Arab conquest {638) the Temple Mount (called Haram esh Sharif – the noble sanctuary) became a Moslem religious center and during the reign of the Umayyad Caliph Abd el Malik, the Dome of the Rock and el Aqsa mosques were built. However, these were converted to churches during the Crusader Period, and only after the expulsion of the Crusaders did they revert to mosques again. But the area was neglected as a result of wars and power shifts that continued for many generations. Only after the Ottoman conquest (1517) was the mount cleaned and the mosques restored. Shortly after that, Jews and Christians were forbidden entry to the Mount, although for a short period during the Arab conquest this was not the case. The ban continued throughout the British Mandate.

The Temple Mount was taken by the Israel Defense Forces during the Six-Day War. The problem of free access and right of prayer continues to be a point of religious and political conflict.

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