Chapter 10/19 of book SEE JERUSALEM by INAM R SEHRI
2 JEWISH TEMPLES LOST
[The First Temple lasted 373 years (960 – 586 BC); the Second Temple lasted 585 years (516 BC–70 AD). The Golden Dome has been on the Haram Compound for 1326 years. The Al-Aqsa Mosque is there since 1303 years.]
Jewish religious traditions hold that TEMPLE MOUNT is the site where King [Nabi] Solomon AS built the First Temple for Jews in c.1000 BC. According to the Hebrew Bible the Temple was plundered by the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar II in c.598 BC (2 Kings 24:13).
A decade later, Nebuchadnezzar again besieged Jerusalem and after 30 months finally breached the city walls in 587 BC, subsequently burning the Temple, along with most of the city. According to Jewish tradition, the Temple was destroyed on Tisha B'Av, the 9th day of Av (Hebrew calendar).
The 2nd Temple was built on a smaller scale in c.536-516 BC during Persian period when Nehemiah led the returning Jews from the Babylonian Exile. C.500 years later, around year 19 BC, Jerusalem’s Ruler or Governor or Roma’s Commander Herod the Great further expanded and renovated the Second Temple. The ambitious project, which involved the employment of 10,000 workers then, doubled the area of the plaza - to nearly 34 acres. During King Herod’s expansion and renewal of the said 2nd Temple, an additional Wall was also built.
King Herod died in year 4 BC and about 36 years later, Jesus Christ was crucified at a nearby place. Both these events [destruction of TWO Jewish temples] are referred in the holy Qur’an explicitly.
After mention about Al-Aqsa in holy Qur’an [17:1], there comes a set of six verses [Al-Qur’an 17:2-8] which tells that how the Bani-Israel people crossed the Allah’s prescribed limits TWICE and how they were taught sad lessons through ‘more powerful people’ [referring to Babylonians & Romans], they were miserably beaten and their place of worship was ‘totally demolished’ both times - referring to 1st & 2nd Temples – AND that was the purpose of taking Prophet Muhammad pbuh to Jerusalem to see and feel by his own that what happens when God goes angry with nations.
In the Jewish Biblical books, above verses of holy Qur’an were mentioned with other words – but pointing out the same reality. The holy Talmud, a central text of Rabbinic Judaism, in its verse [Yoma 9b] provides traditional theological reasons for their Temples’ loss:
Why was the first Temple destroyed?
“Because the three cardinal sins were rampant in society: idol worship, licentiousness, and murder”…
& why was the second Temple destroyed?
“Because gratuitous hatred was rampant in society; this teaches you that gratuitous hatred is equal in severity to the three cardinal sins: idol worship, licentiousness, and murder."
Islamic traditions say that a temple was first built at this place by Prophet Jacob AS and later it was founded and re-built by Prophets David & Solomon AS. Due to sacred Night Journey of Prophet Muhammad pbuh, this city is very dear to Muslims, too. The Haram Sharif [Temple Mount] is a flash point in the Middle East conflict. Israel took control of East Jerusalem, the Old City, from Jordan in 1967; but the Palestinians still claim it as occupied Arab land – the stance is still being debated at various international forums. Israel exercises political sovereignty over the whole Old City but custodianship of the Haram compound remains with the Islamic Waqf.
For the Israelis, their history begins 3,000 years ago, when the Temple Mount [believed to be Mount Moriah] was mentioned in their Book of Genesis. The Old Testament describes how an army led by Nabi David AS conquered the area [Jerusalem], made it capital in around 1000 BC and built a palace nearby. Then Nabi David AS started building [1st] temple there and Nabi Solomon completed it. However, Benjamin Kedar, a history professor at Hebrew University, holds that:
‘Still we know nothing about the First Temple, because there are no traces of its physical remains - we’ve pieced together its tentative portrait from descriptions in the Bible.’
King Herod brought a massive reshaping of the Temple Mount. He filled up the slopes surrounding the mount’s summit and expanded it to its present size. He enclosed the holy site with a 100-ft-high retaining wall at certain places; constructed it with limestone blocks and shaped a far more expansive version of the original 2nd Temple.
In the year 66 AD the Jews of Judea rebelled against their Roman masters. In response, the Emperor Nero dispatched an army under command of Vespasian to restore order. By the year 68, resistance was mostly subdued but the Romans were after the subjugation of Jerusalem. That same year, the Emperor Nero died by his own hand, creating a power vacuum in Rome.
In the resultant chaos, Vespasian was declared Emperor and returned to Rome - then his son, Titus, took charge to launch assault on Jerusalem. By the year 70, the attackers breached city's outer wall [piece by piece] and ransacked it. But the stones from the top tumbled down and formed a protective barrier in itself that preserved the wall’s lower portions – thus saving the existing portion of the Western Wall as the remnant of that original Temple’s wall.
The assault ended in total burning of the Temple. In victory, the Romans slaughtered thousands of Jews; thousands more were enslaved and sent to toil in the mines of Egypt - some were also butchered for amusement of the public. The rebellion continued till 73 AD when various pockets of resistance were conquered including the stronghold at Masada in the Dead Sea region.
The Christians don’t claim for the Haram compound with their presence during only the Byzantine and Crusader periods [c. 300 years] — but Muslims’ claim extends for 1,326 years from today backwards. During the Ottoman and then British rules, this area was a jumble of Arab houses, and Jews also used to pray here in a wide corridor in front of the Herodian stones but the whole area was cleansed to make a vast compound which the tourists see now.
Christianity, of course, has its roots in Judaism and the Golden Dome itself may not be significant to Christianity, other than that it's a shrine of the same ONE God. The orthodox Christians hold that: “….the site itself is important but the Golden Dome may not,” but not well received by most Christians – practically they keep and show all the regards and reverence to it.
Ever since the 2nd Temple's damage, a wish for the construction of a Third Temple has been a formal part of the Jewish prayers. However, the question of when to construct the Third Temple is disputed within the Jewish community itself. In year 363 AD, the Roman King Julian had ordered to re-build the Third Temple but couldn’t.
Fact remains that ultra-Orthodox Jews traditionally oppose archaeological excavations in the Holy Land while saying that “…all the evidence is in the [scriptural] sources, you don’t need physical proof.” In the backdrop of Arab-Israel conflict since 1948, it is commonly understood that:
“Even sneezing in Jerusalem is an intensely political activity. You can do it to the right, to the left, on the face of an Arab or a Jew. Whatever you do, or don’t do, is political.”
The Islamic Council [Waqf] and the Israel government both have long forbidden archaeological excavations, which both view as desecration – thus the layers of history in this Mt Moriah site mostly remained hidden, veiled and out of sight.
ARK OF THE COVENANT
In Jewish literature there are some mentions of the ROCK as Pierced Stone because it has a small hole on the south-eastern corner that enters a cave [grotto] beneath the rock, known as the WELL OF SOULS – [the cave in Baitul Maqdas] sometimes thought by the Jewish community as the traditional sacred place of the Ark of the Covenant - Ten Commandments given to the Prophet Moses AS on Sinai; most likely in the year 1440 BC.
Mythical legends attribute supernatural powers to the Tables. The truth remains that after the destruction of Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem, nobody knows for sure where the Ark of the Covenant ended up – thus still the archaeology’s greatest mystery.
Ten Commandments are a set of biblical principles relating to ethics and worship, which play a fundamental role in Judaism and Christianity. The commandments include instructions to worship the only God, to honour one's parents, and to keep the Sabbath day holy, as well as prohibitions against idolatry, blasphemy, murder, theft, adultery, dishonesty, and coveting. Different religious groups follow different traditions for interpreting them. The Ten Commandments appear twice in the Hebrew Bible, in the books of Exodus and Deuteronomy.
There is a difference of opinion in classical Jewish sources as to whether this was the location of the HOLY OF HOLIES making the place as the holiest site in Judaism as per their religious indication referring to Torah’s Tanhuma chapter 10.
Jewish holy book is called Tanakh [including Torah - the first Five Books of Nabi Moses] is comprised of 24 books. The belief that Jesus is God, the Son of God, or a person of the Trinity, is incompatible with Jewish theology. The basic beliefs of Judaism about God are that there is a God and there is only one God. Judaism also teaches that God is spiritual and not physical; also that He is one whole, complete being.
Synagogues are consecrated spaces used for the purpose of prayer [– as mosques for Muslims and Churches for Christians], reading Tanakh, study and assembly; however, a synagogue is not necessary for worship; communal Jewish worship can be carried out wherever ten Jews assemble. Like for Muslims, Judaism doesn’t permit Jews to eat pork and on their 8th birthday Jews get circumcised and they celebrate the occasion within the family.
TORAH: The holy Torah, also known as Hebrew Bible of 600 BC, the central reference of Judaism, mostly mean the first five of 24 books of the Jewish community. Torah is the basis of Jewish law and tradition [halakha] – containing 613 commandments.
Specifically the Torah means a way of life; meaning thereby the totality of Jewish teaching, culture and practice. Common to all, Torah consists of the origin of Jewish living: their call into being by ONE God, the God of Nabi Abraham AS, Nabi Isaac AS, and Nabi Jacob AS, and their covenant with Allah to follow a way of life embodied in a set of moral and religious obligations and civil laws.
Traditionally, the words of the holy Torah are written on a scroll in Hebrew. A Torah portion is read publicly at least once every three days in the presence of a congregation - one of the basis for Jewish communal life like Sunday Sermon in Christianity and Juma & Eid Prayers of Muslim community.
The Muslims also keep similar faith in the Ark of the Covenant as it has mention in the holy Qur’an - containing artefacts from the household of the prophets Moses AS and Harun [Aaron] AS; Al-Qur’an 2:248 is hereby referred:
- "And their prophet said to them - Indeed, a sign of his kingship is that the chest will come to you in which is assurance from your Lord and a remnant of what the family of Nabi Moses and the family of Nabi Aaron had left, carried by the angels. Indeed in that is a sign for you, if you are believers."
However, contrary to all claims noted above, a researched article in UK’s leading newspaper ‘The Daily Mail’ dated 5th December 2011 redirected the channels of religious history altogether towards the forgotten lands of ETHIOPIA in the African continent. It may appeal many because the Ethiopian lands were nearer to Jerusalem – though across the pacific. The article held that a leaky church roof could give the world a chance to glimpse the legendary Ark of the Covenant. That's because the claimed home of the iconic relic - a small chapel in Ethiopia - has sprung a leak. The Ark is said to have been kept in Aksum, in the Chapel of the Tablet, adjacent to St Mary of Zion Church, since 1960s. Further details can be re-searched on media pages.
However, the Coptics [the Orthodox Church of Alexandria based in Egypt & Northeast Africa] hold that the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon AS had a child named Menelik I, the founder of a dynasty of Solomon Empire that ruled Ethiopia. He would have been brought the precious chest, made out of gold and acacia wood to their lands.
On 7th day of each month, before the sun rises, the monks of Saint Mary of Zion take a copy of the Ark out in procession. Each and every one of the Orthodox churches in Ethiopia has a copy of the Ark. Routinely; almost a thousand faithful attend the processions every month.
However, the old Chapel of Our Lady of Zion seems to have fulfilled its duty: several leaks in its roofs have forced the monks to start the construction of a new temple, right next to the actual one into which, in the utmost secret, the monks will take the Ark. No one will know that the Ark has been moved once again, into the newly built temple, until the day after the deed is done.
A script displayed in BURNT HOUSE museum  @ inamsehri.com
Another script displayed in BURNT HOUSE museum  @ inamsehri.com
Ruins of the 2nd Temple  @ inamsehri.com
This half arc in Temple Mount's outer wall is identified as possible entrance to the 2nd Temple  @ inamsehri.com
Four synagogues seemingly under one roof in the Jewish Quarter  @ inamsehri.com
In synagogues the holy TORAH is still written by hand  @ inamsehri.com
Actual remains of 2000+ years old living in WHOL Museum  @ inamsehri.com
Inside view of one of the FOUR SYNAGOGUES  @ inamsehri.com
Place of Covenant of Ark in Aksum in Ethiopia - Courtesy: msn.com
Remnants of the 1st century Stairs of Ascent to the entrance of the Temple Courtyard
COURTESY: Wilson 44691 
Credit Line: Nederlands - Foto - Museum Catharijneconvent Utrecht [Oil Painting of 1600-1624]
Credit Line: Nederlands - Foto - Museum Catharijneconvent Utrecht
Remains of the 2nd Temple wall [some researchers say it's from the 1st Temple] .....inamsehri.com 
Construction of the 1st Temple [Image taken from DAVID TOWER MUSEUM] .....inamsehri.com 
Entrance Gate ruins of the 2nd Temple [Image taken from inside WESTERN WALLS TUNNELS] .....inamsehri.com 
Israelite Tower in Jerusalem Old city .....inamsehri.com 
Ruins & remains of 2nd Temple near Aqsa Mosque.....inamsehri.com