Temple Mount – Jerusalem

When visiting the Temple Mount, one can’t help but think of the Psalms of Ascent (like Psalm 122) that would have been recounted by the Children of Israel as they made their way up the steps to the temple.

The most prominent feature of the Temple Mount today is a Golden Domed structure known as the Dome of the Rock. How it came to be here is as much a study of the great movements of world history as it is anything else:

  • 966BC – Solomon builds the First Temple
  • 586BC – Babylonians under Nebuchadnezzar destroy the First Temple
  • 516BC – Zerubbabel lays the foundation for the Second Temple
  • 167BC – Antiochus Epiphanes desecrates the Temple
  • 165BC – Temple is rededicated by the Maccabees (“Festival or Lights” or Hanukkah is initiated) 
  • 20BC – Herod begins to restore and expand the Second Temple
  • 4BC – The Lord Jesus is dedicated at the Temple by Mary and Joseph
  • 30AD – Christ prophecies the Temple to be destroyed within one generation
  • 70AD – Romans under Titus destroy the Second Temple
  • 136AD – Romans under Hadrian rebuild Jerusalem renaming it ‘Aelia Capitolina’ and in the process, erect a Temple to Jupiter on the site
  • 326AD – Helena, who is Roman Emperor Constantine’s mother, changes the name of the city back to Jerusalem and destroys the Temple of Jupiter
  • 560AD – Byzantine Emperor Justinian builds the ‘Church of St. Mary’ at the southern end of the site
  • 614AD – Non-Mohammedan Persians assault Jerusalem and leave the Byzantine Church in ruins
Dome of the Rock

Muslim dominance over the Temple Mount has been in effect for much of the last 1400 years. To them, this 35 acre plateau is known as ‘Al-Haram al-Sharif’ or the ‘Noble Sanctuary’.

 The history is as follows:

638AD – Mohammedan-Arab Caliph Omar conquers Jerusalem from the Byzantine Empire (some six years after the death of Mohammed).  A Byzantine Bishop by the name of Sofronius, who oversaw the Church of Holy Sepulchre, invited Omar to pray at the church. The Caliph declined, stating that if he were to do so, his followers would surely turn the Church into a mosque.  

Instead, Omar asks to see a place he referred to as ‘Masjid Dawud’ (Mosque of David). The Bishop takes him to the Temple Mount, and specifically the standing structure of the now dilapidated Byzantine Church. Omar orders the Temple Mount to be cleared of the refuse and debris that had built up over 300 years of neglect.  The former ‘Church of St. Mary’ was then converted into a mosque.  

691AD – Caliph Abd al-Malik builds the Dome of the Rock from 691 to 692 AD.