Temple Mount & Western Wall
The Temple Mount, a massive masonry platform occupying the south-east corner of Jerusalem’s Old City, has hallowed connections for Jews, Christians and Muslims.
All three of these Abrahamic faiths, regard it as the location of Mount Moriah, where Abraham prepared to offer his son Isaac (or Ishmael in the Muslim tradition) to God.
For Jews, it is where their Temple once stood, housing the Ark of the Covenant.
Now, for fear of stepping on the site of the Holy of Holies, orthodox Jews do not ascend to the Temple Mount. Instead, they worship at its Western Wall, while they hope for a rebuilt Temple. Together with the rise and the coming of their long-awaited Messiah.
For Christians, the Temple featured prominently in the life of Jesus. Here he was presented as a baby. Here as a 12-year-old he was found among the teachers after the annual Passover pilgrimage.
Here Jesus prayed and taught and here he overturned money-changers’ tables and foretold the destruction of the Temple:
“Not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down” (Mark 13:2). And here the earliest Judaeo-Christians met.
- Place where Abraham was to sacrifice his son Isaac to God.
- Original Temple built by King Solomon in 960 BC
- 1st Temple destroyed in 586 BC by Babylonia
- Temple rebuilt from 538-515 BC
- Temple Mount enlarged by King Herod from 37 BC – 4 AD
- Temple refurbished by King Herod from 37 BC – 4 AD
- Very likely place at which Pentecost happened
- Destroyed in 70 AD by the Romans
- Conquered by Muslims in 636 AD
- Dome of the Rock built on its site in 691 AD
- Recaptured by the Crusaders in 1099 AD
- Captured by the Muslims in 1187 AD
- Ruled by Mamluks in 1291 AD
- Ruled by Ottomans in 1516 AD
- New walls and gates built around Jerusalem in 1537 AD
Temple Mount & Western Wall - The site:
Judaism’s holiest place is the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem. Part of the retaining wall erected by Herod the Great in 20 BC to support the vast plaza on which he rebuilt the Temple, it is venerated as the sole remnant of the Temple.
The wall and the plaza in front of it, form a permanent place of worship. A site of pilgrimage for Jews and a focus of prayer. often petitions written down and placed between the huge stones.
The Jewish name for the wall is the Kotel.
A common sight are Orthodox Jewish men, fully bearded and garbed in black, bowing their heads as they read and pray from the Torah.
It is also the place where Jews down the ages have expressed their grief over the destruction of the Temple. Their anguish giving the wall another name — the Wailing Wall.
But the wall is also a place for celebrations, especially of Bar and Bat Mitzvahs (coming-of-age ceremonies for Jewish sons and daughters).
Temple Mount & Western Wall Gallery:
From the Bible:
Acts 2:1 NIV
When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.
“Now it was in the heart of my father David to build a house for the name of the LORD, the God of Israel. “But the LORD said to my father David, ‘Because it was in your heart to build a house for My name, you did well that it was in your heart.
“But the word of the LORD came to me. Saying: ‘You have shed much blood and have waged great wars. You shall not build a house to My name, because you have shed so much blood on the earth before Me.
“Behold, I intend to build a house for the name of the LORD my God, as the LORD spoke to David my father, saying, ‘Your son, whom I will set on your throne in your place, he will build the house for My name.”
Then Solomon began to build the house of the LORD in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, where the LORD had appeared to his father David, at the place that David had prepared on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite.
Kings 8:10 NIV
When the priests withdrew from the Holy Place, the cloud filled the temple of the LORD. And the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled his temple.