Before ‘Palestine’: Exploring the Unbroken Jewish Connection to Temple Mount –

Posted By on June 4, 2022

Perceived Israeli threats to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islams third-holiest site built on the ruins of the ancient Jewish Temple in Jerusalems Old City, have long been a rallying cry for Palestinian terrorism. For example, the 1929 Hebron massacre, in which Arabs murdered 67 Jewish inhabitants of the city, was sparked by rumors that Jews were planning to seize control of the mosque.

More recently, after Palestinian gunman Raad Hazemkilled three Israelisand injured more than a dozen others in Tel Aviv on April 7, 2022, terror groups in the West Bank and Gaza Strip werequick to link the attack to the claim that the sanctity of Al-Aqsa was being threatened.

International media outlets in recent weeks perpetuated the Palestinian narrative, describing Jewish visitors strolling the Temple Mount as ultra-far-right Israeli nationalists (VICE), right-wing Jewish nationalists (NPR) and religious extremists (Associated Press).

But while religious freedom for Jews on the Temple Mount is a hot topic within Israeli society, the suggestion that only extremists (Agence France-Presse) hold the site sacred is completely ahistorical.

In fact, Jews have visited and prayed on the Mount for centuries.

According to mainstreamJewish oral tradition, as well asmystical sources, the Temple Mount (Hebrew: Har Habayit) contains the Foundation Stone (Even Hashetiya) from where God created the world. TheMidrashandJerusalem Talmudfurthermore state that Adam, the first man, was formed from the dust of the Jerusalem plateau. Then, Cain, Abel and Noahbrought offerings on the same Mount. InGenesis 22, the Jewish patriarch Abraham is commanded to offer his son Yitzchak as a sacrifice on Mount Moriah identified as another name for the site.

Later, King David purchased the threshing floor from Araunah the Jebusite (II Samuel 24:24,I Chronicles 21:22-30) in order to construct an altar. His son Solomon eventually established the First Temple, the focal point of Jewish worship, around 950 BCE, with the Holy of Holies and its Ark of the Covenant placed on the Even Hashetiya.

Archaeological treasures found in excavationsseem to confirm the Hebrew Bibles accountof this period in ancient Israel.

Related Reading: Israeli Archaeological Treasures Align With Hebrew Bible Accounts

Although the Temple is now in ruins Solomons Temple was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BCE and the Second Temple by the Romans in 70 CE the religious status of Judaisms holiest place never changed. The Jewish sage Maimonides (1138-1204), in his magnum opus Mishneh Torah, concludes that a person must hold [the site] in awe, as one would regard it when it [the Temple] was standing.

The centrality of the Temple Mount to Judaism is beyond dispute. During prayer three times a day, Jews since time immemorial have faced the sacred Jerusalem hilltop. Contrary to what some news outlets like to suggest (see, for instance, here,hereandhere), the Western Wall is not Judaisms holiest site. Case in point: the wall the last remaining part of the Second Temple compound only became a place of importancein the sixteenth century.

While some religious Jews maintain that ascending the Temple Mount itself is currentlyforbidden due to ritual impurity issuesand theabsence of the red heifer, Maimonides presumablyprayed on Har Habayit in the fall of 1165. Another famous Jewish sage, the Chatam Sofer (1762-1839), evenissued a ruling on Jewish lawstating that it is still possible to bring the Passover offering on the Temple Mount if the ruling authority permits it.

Leading rabbis have noted that, by praying on Mount Moriah, Jewsfulfill five commandments simultaneously.

Related Reading: HonestReporting Prompts New York Times Correction in Article About Temple Mount

Since Israel gained control over eastern Jerusalem in a defensive war in 1967, an informal set of rules known as the status quo has governed the state of affairs at the holy site. Fearing a wider religious conflict following the Six-Day War, Defense Minister Moshe Dayan agreed to let the Jordanian-run Islamic Waqfcontinue administering the Temple Mount.

Under this status quo agreement, which Prime Minister Naftali Bennetts government haspledged to uphold, Jews and other non-Muslims can visit the Temple Mount but not pray there. However, courts have at times questioned the bans legality (seehereandhere). The 1967 Preservation of the Holy Places Law ensures freedom of access and protection to all holy sites under Israeli jurisdiction, including those in the eastern part of its capital.

It is worth noting that the same status quo prohibits the display of flags of any kind at the holy site. Yet journalists, focused on Jews uttering words of prayer at their most sacred place, are seemingly uninterested in the incessant display of the flags of US-designated terror organizationsat Islams supposed third-holiest site.

Related Video: The Real Status Quo: Unrelenting Palestinian Terrorism Desecrates Jerusalem Holy Sites

Indeed, while the government in Jerusalem constantly works to maintain calm and prevent violence, the Palestinian Authority, Hamas and Jordan constantly encourage clashes with Israeli security forces who seek to protect pilgrims of all faiths.

It is clear that, despite Arab leadersinsistencethat peaceful visits by Israelis amount to the defilement of the sacred hill, the Jewish connection to the Temple Mount area and indeed, the entirety of Jerusalem predates the term Palestine by at least a thousand years.

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Featured Image: Shalev Shalom/TPS

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Before 'Palestine': Exploring the Unbroken Jewish Connection to Temple Mount -

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