In this week’s 5 minute update, we focused on:
1) The history of the Temple Mount and the modern day conflict between Israel and the Palestinians over it
The Temple Mount is the holiest site in Judaism. It is one of the most important religious sites in the Old City of Jerusalem. To the east of the Temple Mount is the Kidron Valley. To the West is the Tyropoeon Valley. 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 the location of Abraham’s binding of Isaac. In the Bible, this event took place on Mount Moriah.
According to the Hebrew Bible, the Temple Mount was originally a threshing-floor owned by Araunah, a Jebusite. David then bought the property from Araunah, for fifty pieces of silver and erected the altar. The God of Israel instructed David to build a sanctuary on the site outside the city walls on the northern edge of the hill. The building was to replace the Tabernacle that Moses build in the wilderness and serve as the Temple of the Israelites in Jerusalem.
King Solomon the son of King David built the first Temple in 957 BCE. It was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BCE. The second Temple was constructed under the auspices of Zerubbabel in 516 BCE. It was destroyed by the Roman Empire in 70 CE.
In around 19 BCE, Herod the Great extended the Mount’s natural plateau by enclosing the area with four massive retaining walls and filling the voids. This artificial expansion resulted in a large flat expanse which today forms the eastern section of the Old City of Jerusalem. The southern section of the western flank is revealed and contains what is known as the Western Wall. The ambitious project which involved the employment of 10,000 workers more than doubled the size of the Temple Mount to approximately 36 acres. A basilica (the Royal Stoa) was constructed on the southern end of the expanded platform which provided a focus for the city’s commercial and legal transactions and which was provided with separate access to the city below via the Robinson’s Arch overpass.
After the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in 70 CE, the Roman Emperor, Hadrian, rebuilt the city in 130 CE and renamed Jerusalem to be Aelia Capitolina. Aelia came from Hadrian’s nomen gentile, Aelius, while Capitolina meant that the new city was dedicated to Jupiter Capitolinus to whom a Roman temple was built on the site of the Temple Mount in the 2nd century.
In those days, the Roman Emperor Hadrian constructed a giant statue of himself in front of the Temple of Jupiter. In addition, the Temple of Jupiter had a huge statue of the god Jupiter inside of it. Therefore, there were two graven images standing on the Temple Mount. In addition to this, Hadrian issued a decree prohibiting the practice of circumcision. It was the normal practice of the adherents of the Hellenic religion to sacrifice pigs before their deities. These three factors, the graven images, the sacrifice of pigs before the altar, and the prohibition of circumcision, constituted for non-Hellenized Jews a new abomination of desolation. As a result, the Jewish military leader Bar Kochba launched the Third Jewish Revolt around 135 CE. After the Third Jewish Revolt failed, the Romans decreed that all Jews were forbidden from entering the city or the surrounding territory around the city on the condition of death if the decree was violated.
From the 1st through the 7th centuries Christianity spread throughout the Roman Empire and Jerusalem became predominantly Christian. Emperor Constantine I decreed Christianity as the official religion of the Roman Empire in 321 CE and Hadrian’s Temple to Jupiter on the Temple Mount was demolished immediately following the First Council of Nicea in 325 CE on orders of Constantine.
Revered as the Noble Sanctuary, Muslim’s believe that the Temple Mount was the location of Muhammad’s journey to Jerusalem and ascent to heaven. In 637, Arabs besieged and captured Jerusalem from the Byzantine Empire. As a result, Rashidun Caliph Umar built a mosque known as the Al-Aqsa Mosque. In 691, an octagonal Islamic building topped by a dome was built by the Caliph Abd al-Malik around the sacred rock located on the Temple Mount. 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, Saudi Arabia. The Dome of the Rock currently sits in the middle, occupying or close to the area where the Holy Temple previously stood. The shrine became known as the Dome of the Rock. As a result, today’s Temple Mount is dominated by three monumental Islamic structures: the al-Aqsa Mosque, the Dome of the Rock and the Dome of the Chain. For Sunni Muslims, the importance of the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque makes Jerusalem the third-holiest city, after Mecca and Medina.
An Islamic Waqf has managed the Temple Mount continuously since the Muslim reconquest of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem in 1187. Even today, the mosque and shrine are currently administered by a Waqf (an Islamic trust).
On 7 June 1967, during the Six-Day War, Israeli forces advanced beyond the 1949 Armistice Agreement Line into West Bank territories, taking control of the Old City of Jerusalem inclusive of the Temple Mount. In order to celebrate and remember that day, the Israeli Chief Rabbinate declared a religious holiday on this yearly anniversary, called “Yom Yerushalayim” (Jerusalem Day) to commemorate the reunification of Jerusalem.
At that time, the Chief Rabbi of the Israeli Defense Forces, Shlomo Goren, led the soldiers in religious celebrations on the Temple Mount and at the Western Wall. Many saw the capture of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount as a miraculous liberation of biblical-messianic proportions. A few days after the war was over 200,000 Jews flocked to the Western Wall in the first mass Jewish pilgrimage near the Mount since the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE. Islamic authorities did not disturb Goren when he went to pray on the Mount until, on the Ninth Day of Av, he brought 50 followers and introduced both a shofar, and a portable ark to pray, an innovation which alarmed the Waqf authorities and led to a deterioration of relations between the Muslim authorities and the Israeli government.
A few days after the Six-Day War, on June 17, 1967, a meeting was held at al-Aqsa between Moshe Dayan and Muslim religious authorities of Jerusalem regarding the regulation of the Temple Mount. In their agreement, Jews were given the right to visit the Temple Mount unobstructed and free of charge if they respected Muslims’ religious feelings and acted decently. However, Jews were still forbidden to pray on the Temple Mount. It was decided that the Western Wall was to remain the Jewish place of prayer. The Prime Minister of Israel at that time, Levi Eshkol, gave control of access to the Temple Mount to the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf. Eshkol made the following declaration: “no harm whatsoever shall come to the places sacred to all religions”.
Together with the extension of Israeli jurisdiction and administration over east Jerusalem, the Knesset passed the Preservation of the Holy Places Law ensuring protection of the Holy Places against desecration as well as freedom of access thereto. While ‘Religious sovereignty’ was to be with the Muslims, Israel was in charge of the ‘overall sovereignty’ of the Temple Mount. Today, the Temple Mount can be accessed via eleven gates, ten reserved for Muslims and one for non-Muslims, with guard posts of Israeli police in the vicinity of each.
Although freedom of access to the Temple Mount was enshrined into Israeli law, as a security measure, the Israeli government currently enforces a ban on non-Muslim prayer on the site. Non-Muslims who are observed praying on the site are subject to expulsion by the police.At various times, when there is fear of Arab rioting upon the mount resulting in throwing stones from above towards the Western Wall Plaza, Israel has prevented Muslim men under 45 from praying in the compound, citing these concerns.
Following the June, 1967 agreement, Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount continued to be a source of contention between the Jews and the Palestinians. In response to an appeal in 1976 against police interference with an individual’s personal right to prayer on the site, the President of the High Court of Justice, Aharon Barak, expressed the view that, while Jews had a right to prayer there, it was not absolute but subject to the public interest and the rights of other groups. He wrote:
The basic principle is that every Jew has the right to enter the Temple Mount, to pray there, and to have communion with his maker. This is part of the religious freedom of worship, it is part of the freedom of expression. However, as with every human right, it is not absolute, but a relative right… Indeed, in a case where there is near certainty that injury may be caused to the public interest if a person’s rights of religious worship and freedom of expression would be realized, it is possible to limit the rights of the person in order to uphold the public interest.
Subsequently, several Israeli prime ministers also made attempts to change the status quo regarding prayer on the Temple Mount but failed to do so. In October 1986, an agreement between the Temple Mount Faithful, the Supreme Muslim Council and police, which would allow short visits in small groups, was exercised once and never repeated, after 2,000 Muslims armed with stones and bottles attacked the group and stoned worshipers at the Western Wall. During the 1990s, additional attempts were made for Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount which were stopped by Israeli police. Today, the Temple Mount remains, under the terms of the 1994 Israel–Jordan peace treaty, under Jordanian custodianship.
Since 2010, fear arose among Palestinians that Israel planned to change the status quo and permit Jewish prayers or that the al-Aqsa mosque might be damaged or destroyed by Israel. As a result, Al-Aqsa was used as a base for attacks on visitors and the police from which stones, firebombs and fireworks were thrown.
There is a disagreement between Orthodox Jews whether religious Jews should pray on the Temple Mount. A few hours after the Temple Mount came under Israeli control during the Six-Day War, a message from the Chief Rabbis of Israel, Isser Yehuda Unterman and Yitzhak Nissim was broadcast, warning that Jews were not permitted to enter the site. This warning was reiterated by the Council of the Chief Rabbinate a few days later, which issued an explanation written by Rabbi Bezalel Jolti (Zolti) that “Since the sanctity of the site has never ended, it is forbidden to enter the Temple Mount until the Temple is built.” The signatures of more than 300 prominent rabbis were later obtained. Rabbinical consensus in the post-1967 period, held that it is forbidden for Jews to enter any part of the Temple Mount and in January 2005 a declaration was signed confirming the 1967 decision.
Due to its extreme sanctity of the Temple Mount, many Orthodox Jews will not walk on the Mount itself, to avoid unintentionally entering the area where the Holy of Holies stood during the days of the Temple. Most of the ultra-Orthodox rabbis are of the opinion that the Mount is off limits to Jews and non-Jews alike. Their opinions against entering the Temple Mount are based on the current political climate surrounding the Mount along with the potential danger of entering the hallowed area of the Temple courtyard and the impossibility of fulfilling the ritual requirement of cleansing oneself with the ashes of a red heifer. The boundaries of the areas which are completely forbidden, while having large portions in common, are delineated differently by various rabbinic authorities.
In December 2013, the two Chief Rabbis of Israel, David Lau and Yitzhak Yosef, reiterated the ban on Jews entering the Temple Mount. They wrote, “In light of [those] neglecting [this ruling], we once again warn that nothing has changed and this strict prohibition remains in effect for the entire area [of the Temple Mount]”. In November 2014, the Sephardic chief rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, reiterated the point of view held by many rabbinic authorities that Jews should not visit the Mount. On the occasion of an upsurge in Palestinian knifing attacks on Israelis, associated with fears that Israel was changing the status-quo on the Mount, the ultra-Orthodox newspaper Mishpacha ran a notification in Arabic asking ‘their cousins’, the Palestinians, to stop trying to murder members of their congregation, since they were vehemently opposed to ascending the Mount and consider such visits proscribed by Jewish law.
However, there is a growing body of Modern Orthodox and national religious rabbis who encourage visits to certain parts of the Mount, which they believe are permitted according to most medieval rabbinical authorities. A leading proponent of the rights of Jews to pray on the Temple Mount is Rabbi Yehuda Glick. Glick is the leader of HaLiba, a coalition of groups dedicated to “reaching complete and comprehensive freedom and civil rights for Jews on the Temple Mount.” Glick has led groups of Jews to walk the Temple Mount, and has been repeatedly arrested while praying, walking and filming videos on the Temple Mount. On 4 June, 2015, a Jerusalem district court banned Glick from entering Temple Mount, overturning a lower court decision. The judge ruled that Glick’s presence was inflammatory and that “there is a risk of violence breaking out if the respondent returns to the compound before the end of legal proceedings in his case.”
On 29 October, 2014, Glick survived an assassination attempt by Mutaz Hijazi, a member of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad Movement. In 2015, Glick was awarded the Moskowitz Prize for Zionism for being “Active for human rights and religious freedom on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount.” Under current regulations, Muslims may visit and pray on the Temple Mount. Jews may also visit during limited hours, but are prohibited from praying or doing a range of things — kneeling, bowing, even crying — that resemble worship.
The most recent round of violence between Jews and Muslims at the Temple Mount started on September 9 following Israel’s decision to bar an Islamist protest group from entering the Temple Mount. Israel said the group, known as the Murabitat, and its corresponding men’s faction have been yelling at Jewish visitors and throwing stones at them. In announcing the ban, the Israeli government said: “The aforesaid organizations strive to undermine Israeli sovereignty on the Temple Mount, change the existing reality and arrangements at the site and infringe on freedom of worship.”
On September 12, Israeli police raided the Temple Mount uncovering a stockpile of pipe bombs, firebombs and rocks that they feared would be aimed at Jewish worshippers. On Sept. 18, police barred Muslim men under 40 from the mount in anticipation of unrest following Muslim Friday prayers. Some 200 Palestinians protested the move at the Damascus Gate to Jerusalem’s Old City. Three Israeli policemen and 21 Palestinians were injured in the Friday clashes.
In response, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also declared “war” on stone throwers. Netanyahu is pushing through a new law that would allow police to fire more quickly on Palestinian stone throwers as well as increase the stone throwers’ prison sentences and fines. Netanyahu said: “We attest to the fact that we decided to change the policy and declare war on those who throw stones and firebombs, shoot and riot. In the State of Israel, people do not throw firebombs, or shoot at trains, or throw stones at will. Those who do so will pay a very heavy price.”
Regarding the clashes on the Temple Mount, Palestinian President Mahmood Abbas said: “Israel will not be allowed to continue its steps. The Al-Aqsa mosque is ours. They have no right to dirty it with their filthy feet. We will not allow them to do that.” Jordan’s King Abdullah II criticized Israel’s actions, saying that “any more provocation in Jerusalem will affect the relationship between Jordan and Israel.”
Israel’s action, Netanyahu said has come only to prevent violence at the site. In addition, Israel insists that it is committed to maintaining the status quo on the Temple Mount. Netanyahu said: “Israel have no plans to change the status-quo on the Temple Mount. However, we also have no intention of allowing anyone to cause the deterioration of the arrangements on the Temple Mount by resorting to explosive and widespread violence.” The Israeli status-quo limits Israeli sovereignty over the Mount, leaves the Islamic Waqf responsible for managing the site and bans Jewish prayers there.
In early October, Netanyahu barred all Cabinet ministers and Jewish lawmakers from visiting the Temple Mount. As a result of the recent violence associated with the Temple Mount, US Secretary of State John Kerry reached an agreement with King Abdullah of Jordan and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in late October to formalize arrangements governing the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The terms of the understanding reinforce the status quo and will be backed up with 24-hour monitoring of the Temple Mount. “Israel will continue to enforce its longstanding policy: Muslims pray on the Temple Mount; non-Muslims visit the Temple Mount,” Netanyahu said. “Those who visit or worship on the Temple Mount must be allowed to do so in peace, free from violence, from threats, from intimidation and from provocations. We will continue to ensure access to the Temple Mount for peaceful worshipers and visitors, while maintaining public order and security.”
Based upon a suggestion by Jordan’s King Abdullah, the new agreement will provide “24-hour video coverage of all sites” in the compound. US Secretary of State, John Kerry said: “The 24-hour video coverage will provide comprehensive visibility and transparency and that could really be a game changer in discouraging anybody from disturbing the sanctity of the holy site.”
An agreement to divide Jerusalem and establish a PLO state is a tribulation event.
The link to these articles are as follows:
1) The Temple Mount
2) Rabbi Yehuda Glick and Jewish Access to the Temple Mount
3) 5 Things About the Violence Spike on the Temple Mount
4) Temple Mount Violence Rooted in Contradictory Views and Cynical Politics
5) Agreement on Temple Mount Formalizes Status Quo But Violence Continues
6) Netanyahu bans Jewish officials from Jerusalem holy site
7) Kerry: Israel okays 24-hour video cameras on Temple Mount
From a Biblical prophetic perspective, the reason why the God of Israel would allow these events to happen is because it will result in the end of the exile of the house of Jacob and the reunification of the 12 tribes of Israel (Ephraim and Judah).
We will to be “watchmen on the walls of Jerusalem” and we will not rest until the God of Israel makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth (Isaiah 62).
Shalom in Yeshua the Messiah,
Hebraic Heritage Ministries Int’l