The Canaanite period
Second century BCE
The Temple Mount History
The Temple Mount is the most important historical and archeological site in the State of Israel. It is also the site most holy to the Jewish people: Jews have yearned to return to it throughout all the generations, mentioning it in all their prayers. According to tradition, the world was established from the Temple Mount, and it was also the place where Abraham bound Isaac in the story of Genesis, and later the site where King Solomon built the First Temple. “Then Solomon began to build the house of the Lord at Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, where the Lord appeared unto David his father; for which provision had been made in the place of David, in the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite” [II Chronicles 3: 1]. The Second Temple was built on the site of the first, at first by the Jews that returned from Babylon, and then later, in great grandeur and splendor, by Herod the Great. The Temple Mount compound as we know it today was part of the grandiose construction project executed by Herod during the Second Temple period.
The Temple Mount is sacred to Christianity too because it is the site of the Holy Temple. In the southeast corner of the Temple Mount compound is the spot known as “The Cradle of Jesus” or Kursi Issa in Arabic, where Jesus’ mother put down the baby Jesus when she came to the Temple to offer a sacrifice following the birth of the baby. Jesus’ anger at the commercial activity taking place within the compound, which he viewed as a desecration of the holy site, is recorded in the New Testament: “And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, and said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.”[Matthew 21: 12-13].
The Temple Mount is the third most sacred site in Islam, following Mecca and Medina. Islam recognized the earlier traditions of Judaism and Christianity regarding the Temple Mount, adding traditions of its own. Jerusalem is not mentioned by name in the Quran, but Muslim tradition associates it with the nocturnal journey taken by Muhammad described in the first verse of Sura 17: “Glory to Him who caused His servant to travel by night from the Sacred Mosque to the Farthest Mosque, whose precincts We have blessed, in order to show him some of Our Signs, He is indeed the All-Hearing, the All-Seeing.” על פי אותה מסורת ערך מחמד מסע לילהAccording to that same tradition, Muhammad took that miraculous night journey from Mecca to Jerusalem on a winged horse name al-Buraq. On that journey, Muhammad arrived on the Temple Mount and from there ascended to the heavens. At first, Muhammad instructed his followers to pray in the direction of the temple in Jerusalem, which is why it is considered the first qibla (direction for prayer). After some time, he changed the direction of prayer to the al-Ka'bah in Mecca. After the Muslims conquered Jerusalem in the seventh century, they built the Dome of the Rock and the al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount.
The Temple Mount is an ancient site of religious ritual of the greatest historic importance in the annals of human culture, and of the Jewish people in particular. The Temple Mount compound embodies riveting chapters of human history that tell the story of days of glory and splendor as well as of destruction and desolation.