Visiting the Holy Land: The Temple Mount

July 22, 2011

 When looking across the KidronValley from the Mount of Olives (which I wrote about last week), undoubtedly the most eye-catching sight in Jerusalem is the Dome of the Rock.  The golden dome rises up from behind the ancient eastern wall of Jerusalem and dominates the landscape.

What is this amazing structure?  It is a Muslim shrine, not a mosque.  However. nearby Al Asqa is a mosque, and the third holiest place in Islam after Mecca and Medina. 

The location of the Dome of the Rock is the place originally called Mount Moriah, where Abraham took his son Isaac, intending to sacrifice him until God told him not do so (see Genesis 22).  It also is understood to be the same location as a former threshing floor that King David bought for the Temple to be built there (see 1 Kings 24).  If that is correct, then the First Temple, completed by David’s son, Solomon, about 960 B.C., and destroyed by the invading Babylonians about 586 B.C., stood there.  The Second Temple, built by the Jewish remnant that returned from the Babylonian Exile, was completed about 516 B.C. and also stood there  It was destroyed by the invading Romans about A.D. 70.

Muslim history holds that the Dome of the Rock was originally built around A.D. 690, only a little over 50 years after the Muslim army conquered the region of Syria, and intended as a shrine for pilgrims.  Over the centuries, though, the Dome was repeatedly damaged significantly by large earthquakes.

Beginning in 1955, the government of Jordan, then in control of Jerusalem, with funding from other nearby Arab countries, undertook a huge renovation of the Dome.  It was then, as part of that project, that the golden exterior of the Dome was added.

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