This is part two of a six-part newsletter.
- Part one looked at the recent 13 minute ‘walk around’ the Temple Mount by Israeli Minister of National Security Itamar Ben-Gvir and the immediate international explosion. Then it examined the histories of Rome, Byzantium and Islam regarding their laws forbidding Jews to walk on or pray on the Temple Mount.
- This second newsletter looks at attitudes and policies concerning the Jews/Temple Mount during the times of the Early Islamic period, the Crusaders, the Ottoman Turks, the British Mandate, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, as well as Israeli Minister of Defense General Moshe Dayan’s decisions regarding the ‘status quo’ in the aftermath of the June 1967 Six-Day War.
- Part three will look at the biblical perspective regarding the Temple Mount and the Last Days, including its central place in both the Last Battle and the location of Messiah Yeshua’s throne.
The invasion and occupation of Israel by jihadi forces in the 630’s A.D. introduced the new spiritual dynamic of Islamist spiritual colonialism. For the next 1,500 years Islam’s own form of Replacement Theology (combining both anti-Jewish and anti-Christian teachings) ran roughshod over biblical truths, morphing them into spiritual counterfeits. A more in-depth analysis of these changes can be found in the book ‘Jews, Arabs and the Middle East: A Messianic Perspective.’
Islam moved the spiritual goalposts, defining Judaism and Christianity as profanations of Muhammad’s ‘pure teaching,’ renaming and Islamizing Jewish territories, holy places, patriarchs, prophets and kings. As well as ethnic cleansing (when Islam banished all Jews from the Arabian Peninsula), Muslim dictators forced major population groups in the Middle East and south-central Europe to either convert to Islam or to face Sayf al-Islām – the sword of Islam. Arabic became the mandatory language, and Islam became the master religion. Hundreds of pre-existing ethnic groups across North Africa and the Middle East were forced to redefine themselves as Arabs, rather than Moroccan Berbers, Lebanese Phoenicians, Syrian Arameans, Coptic Egyptians, Iraqi Assyrians, etc. We will now consider the Islamization of the Land of Israel and specifically of the Temple Mount.
The wisdom of Solomon
One of the first things Islamic Caliph ʿUmar ibn al-Khattāb did upon entering the city of Jerusalem/Aelia, was to make his personal pilgrimage to the rock (al-Saḵrah) around which King Solomon’s Temple had been built. Based on its location, the Caliph wanted to place a Muslim prayer house on top of the area, thus claiming it for Islam :
- According to al-Suyuti, an Egyptian Muslim historian (circa 1500 A.D.): ‘Umar ibn al-Khattāb arrived at Bayt al-Maqdis [Hebrew, Bet Hamiqdash/ the Holy House/ The Temple] . . . and then spoke “I swear that there is no God but Him. [This is] the Mosque of Solomon son of David, to which the Messenger of Allah informed us” . . . He then went to the west side of the Mosque and said, “Let us make it a Mosque for Muslims, a place for them to pray.”
- According to al-Wasiti, a preacher at al Aqsa Mosque (circa 1020 A.D.): “Ka‘b [al- Aḥbār] once came to Īlyā [Aelia Capitolina/Jerusalem] and offered several dozen dinar to a Jewish scholar to take him to the rock where Solomon the son of David stood when he completed the building of the mosque [the original Solomonic Temple, here called a mosque]. Ka‘b said: “Solomon the son of David stood upon this rock . . .”
Building an Islamic mosque on Jewish ruins
- Sophronius, Patriarch of Jerusalem, then went to ʿUmar ibn al- Khattāb . . . Then ʿUmar said: “You owe me for your life and for the goods which I granted you. Come, give me a place where I can build a mosque.” The Patriarch said: “Give to the prince of believers a place where he can build a temple that the king of Rum [Rome/Byzantium] was not able to build. This place is the Rock on which God spoke to Jacob and Jacob called ‘the gate of heaven.’ The sons of Israel called it “Sancta Sanctorum” [Holy of Holies] and it is at the center of the earth. It was once the Temple of the children of Israel, which they have always magnified and every time they prayed they turned their faces towards it, wherever they were. This place will I give you, provided you write me a charter that no other mosque will be built in Jerusalem other than this.” ‘Umar ibn al-Khattāb wrote him a charter and handed it to him. When the Rum [Romans] became Christians, and Helena, mother of Constantine, built churches in Jerusalem, the place of the Rock and its surroundings were lying in ruins and abandoned. On the Rock so much earth had been thrown and it was reduced to a huge garbage dump. The Rum had totally neglected it, and not held it in high regard, as in fact had the children of Israel. They had erected no church on it, because of what Christ, our Lord, had said in his holy gospel: “Behold, your house is left in ruins,” and again: “There will not remain one stone upon another that has not been demolished and destroyed”. It was for this reason that the Christians left it in ruins and not built on there any church. (The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria – 900’s. AD – chapter 18c; part 4; paragraph 7).
- `Umar bin al-Khattāb . . . mentioned the conquest of Bait ul-Maqdis (Temple Mount). Then Abu Salamah said: . . . I heard `Umar bin al-Khattāb say to Ka‘b: Where do you think I should pray? He said: It you listen to me, you will pray behind the rock and all of al-Quds [Jerusalem] will be in front of you. `Umar said: You are suggesting something similar to the Jewish way; rather I shall pray where the Messenger of Allah prayed. He went forward to the qibla [the spot used to determine the Mecca-based direction of prayer] and prayed (Musnad `Umar b. al-Khattāb; Musnad Ahmad 261; Book 2, Hadith 175)
- According to Afghani Islamic theologian Muqātil ibn Sulaymān(died 767 A.D.). The following quotes are from his ‘Traditions of the Praises of Jerusalem’ from his Commentary on the Quran: “The Rock of the Temple is connected to the rock which Allah, may he be exalted and praised, mentioned in the Quran;” “The rock which is in Bayt al-Maqdis is the center of the entire world.”
‘The Jewish way’ – as Caliph `Umar bin al-Khattāb described it to Ka‘b al-Aḥbār – involved the honoring of the physical location where the Holy of Holies once was located. This tradition was codified over 400 years before the interaction of al-Khattāb and Ka‘b, as evidenced by this quote from the Mishna, Seder Zera’im, Tractate Berachot, chapter 9:5:
- Man must not be light with his head (frivolous) near the Eastern Gate. It is near the foundation of the House of the Holy of Holies. One may not enter the Holy Mount with his staff, or with his sandal, or with his belt-pouch, or with dust on his feet. And do not make a shortcut, and spitting is forbidden, as deduced from lesser to greater.
The Islamic quotes presented above shed light on the perspectives and strategies of the first Muslim rulers regarding the Temple Mount:
- the physical capture of these Jewish and biblical sites through jihad
- the Islamization of these sites through renaming them and falsifying their historical associations
- forbidding Jews from accessing or praying on the Temple Mount
- creating etiological ‘fake news’ events which would fog the original biblical meaning and eschatological significance of those sites (more on this point in the next two sections)
Islam showed itself to be Replacement Theology (RT) on steroids. Whereas as Christian RT allegorized Jewish gifts and calling (violating Romans 11:28-29), teaching that God had finished with the Jews and that Israel’s chosen status now meant ‘chosen for exile and persecution,’ Islamic Replacement Theology used the same psyops against BOTH Jews and Christians, claiming that both groups were now under Allah’s judgment and were destined to become victims and slaves of Islam.
Clash of the Caliphs
About 638 A.D. Caliph ʿUmar ibn al-Khattāb took possession of Jerusalem. He established an initial prayer house on the Temple Mount on the spot where he ascertained were the ruins of Solomon’s Temple. But it was a small and unimpressive mosque. The Frankish (French) pilgrim Bishop Arculf visited Jerusalem between 670-690 A.D. and wrote: “On the spot where the Temple once stood, near the eastern wall, the Saracens have now erected a square house of prayer, in a rough manner, by raising beams and planks upon some remains of old ruins. This is their place of worship, and it is said that it will hold about three thousand men.” But soon the clash of power politics between competing leaders in the Muslim world caused Jerusalem’s Temple Mount to take on an importance that its original Islamic founders would never have imagined possible. The small prayer house would soon be giving way to a large and splendid prayer hall known as Jami’ Al-Aqsa.
After Muhammad’s death, jostling over succession turned into civil war. The first Umayyad caliph Mu’awiya I (reigned 661–680) passed on hereditary succession to his son Yazīd I who lived in Syria. This decision was actively opposed by Caliph Abd Allāh ibn al-Zubayr of Mecca. According to famed jurist and theologian Sheikh Ibn Taymiyyah, Caliph Ibn al-Zubayr revolted against the Umayyad Dynasty which was located in Damascus, blockading the roads leading to the hajj pilgrimage in Mecca. According to Shi’ite historian al-Yaʿqūbī, the Umayyad Caliph ‘Abd al-Malik of Damascus then prevented his subjects from travelling to Mecca because al-Zubayr was forcing those pilgrims to take a rebel bayʿah (a pledge of allegiance) to the Meccan upstart:
- When ‘Abd al-Malik had found out about this, he prevented them from setting out to Mecca. But the people protested and said: “Do you prevent us from doing the pilgrimage to the Sacred House of Allah while it is a duty from Allah upon us ?” He said: “Here is [a new ruling] that the Messenger of Allah said: ‘The caravans should not be set out except for three mosques, the Sacred Mosque, my present Mosque and the Mosque of Jerusalem’ [which replaces] the Sacred Mosque [in Mecca] for you. And here is the [Temple Mount] Rock on [which] it is narrated that the Prophet set his foot before ascending to the heavens. Now it stands for the Ka‘bah [in Mecca].” Then he built a Dome on the Rock, suspended silk curtains on it and appointed servants for it. And told the people to revolve around it like they revolve around the Ka‘bah. And so it was during the rule of Bani Umayyah [the Umayyad dynasty].
Like Israelite King Jeroboam in 1 Kings 12:25-33, who set up a syncretistic altar and priesthood at Dan for the Ten Tribes in “the month that he had devised in his own heart,” so Caliph ‘Abd al-Malik established a ‘pious forgery’ – a substitute hajj pilgrimage to the Temple Mount instead of to Mecca, to a falsely labeled mosque that he now chose to call Jami’ Al-Aqsa (the Distant or al-Aqsa mosque). The original ‘Distant Mosque’ (al-Aqsa) was located in al-Juʽranah, Arabia (see https://davidstent.org/7719-2/), but now for political reasons it was morphed into a new ‘Distant Mosque’ (al-Aqsa) on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount. The Night Journey (al-’Isrā’ wal-Miʿrāj) legend was altered and falsified – Muhammad now flew to Jerusalem, landed on the Temple Mount and from there ascended to heaven.
After Mecca’s Caliph Ibn al-Zubayr was slain by enemies in 692 A.D. during the Siege of Mecca, the Umayyads began to back-pedal on Jerusalem’s importance and it began to recede, both theologically and politically.
But, as Winston Churchill traditionally said, ‘Never let a good crisis go to waste!” The new legend of Muhammad’s ascent to the seventh heaven (Sahih Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 8, Number 345) paved the way to introduce new theological symbolism and powerful political meaning: During Muhammad’s supposed ascent, he was joined by the prophets of the eclipsed religions – Judaism and Christianity. Adam, Jesus, Seth, Joseph, Aaron, Moses, and Abraham all gathered together in heaven, next to Allah’s throne, where they prayed behind Muhammad. Thus Judaism and Christianity were symbolically passing the baton of leadership on to Islam right in front of the Throne of Glory. This supposed revelation about the coronation of Islam was powerful propaganda, intending to showing its superiority to its rejected step-sisters Judaism and Christianity.
Jerusalem was now being shaped by Islamic theologians and leaders into a powerful propagandistic tool in the fight against both Judaism and Christianity.
The architecture of the new Dome of the Rock was crafted accordingly. It would be placed in the center of the Temple Mount, so that circumambulation (walking around the building as an act of liturgy) could take place around it. The Dome was built with eight walls, double the holiness of Mecca’s Ka’ba which has only four walls.
The establishment of these ersatz buildings, names and traditions was part and parcel of a wave of spiritual deception and sleight-of-hand – nefarious satanic strategies vis-à-vis Israel, the Jewish people, Jerusalem and the Temple Mount.
Massacres, mosques and the Temple of the Lord
The Crusader conquest of Jerusalem in July 1099 was described by Muslim politician and chronicler Ibn al-Qalanisi in his Damascus Chronicles of the Crusades (written just after 1100 A.D.). Conservatively speaking, between 3,000 and 10,000 Muslims were massacred on the Temple Mount. The Jews of Jerusalem (numbering several hundred) gathered in their synagogue (probably the ‘Cave’ synagogue at Warren’s Gate, abutting the Temple Mount), which was then burnt down by the Franks (French Germans):
- Thereafter they [the Franks] proceeded towards Jerusalem. at the end of Jrajab (middle of June) of this year , and the people fled in panic from their abodes before them . . . The [Jerusalem] townsfolk descended from the wall at sunset, whereupon the Franks renewed their assault upon it, climbed up the tower, and gained a footing on the city wall. The [Muslim] defenders were driven down, and the Franks stormed the town and gained possession of it. A number of the [Muslim] townsfolk fled to the sanctuary of David [the mosques on the Temple Mount], and a great host were killed. The Jews assembled in the synagogue, and the Franks burned it over their heads. The sanctuary [the mosques on the Temple Mount] was surrendered to them [the Crusaders] on guarantee of safety [for the Muslims] on the 22nd of Sha’ban (14th July) of this year, and they destroyed the shrines and the tomb of Abraham.
The Crusaders renamed the Dome of the Rock as Templum Domini (the Temple of the Lord), and the al Aqsa mosque was renamed Templum Solomonis (the Temple of Solomon). They were then established as churches. The Temple Mount was declared off-limits to both Jews and Muslims. As far as the Crusaders were concerned, the Christian Church was the New Israel, and there would be no restoration of the Jewish people or of the Jewish nature of the Temple Mount.
Saladin and Suleiman
The Ayyubid Kurdish Sultan Saladin (Arabic, Ṣalāḥ ud-Dīn) conquered Crusader Jerusalem in October 1187 A.D. According to poet and traveler Rabbi Yehuda al-Ḥarizi, Saladin issued a manifesto in 1190 calling on Jews to return to Jerusalem and settle there (see ‘Saladin’ in the Encyclopedia Judaica). Al- Ḥarizi compared Saladin’s decree to the one issued by the Cyrus the Great over 1,600 years earlier. Permission was granted by Saladin to erect a synagogue on the Temple Mount, but within a few years that permission was rescinded. For 600 years after that point, the Temple Mount was off-limits to Jews.
Sultan Suleiman I (the Magnificent, 1494-1566) encouraged European Jews, especially the exiles from Spain and Portugal, to settle in Jerusalem. In 1550 he also instructed his chief court architect, Sinan Pasha, to design and oversee the building of an area for Jewish prayer in an alley abutting the Western [retaining] Wall of the Temple Mount. At that point in time all non-Muslims were legally prevented from entering the Temple Mount. A royal decree or firman was issued guaranteeing for all times the right of Jews to pray at this Western Wall. The Jewish prayer area was quite humble in dimension – only 4 meters wide and 28 meters long, occupying less than six percent of the Western Wall’s total length of 488 meters. This small area could accommodate at most a few hundred people.
Mishnah commentator Rabbi Obadiah of Bertinoro, wrote after 1488 A.D. in one of his letters from Jerusalem: “No Jew is allowed to enter the site of the Holy Temple . . . Jews have refused to enter these areas because of their uncleanliness.” One of the Rabbi’s students added in 1495 A.D. that “in any event, the Muslims would not permit [any Jew] to enter their holy place.”
Up to 1839 the Turkish authorities enforced an absolute ban on all non-Muslims to the Temple Mount. In 1839, following the Ottoman Tanzimat reforms and also due to British pressure, non-Muslims were permitted to enter Temple Mount, but only with special permission of the governor.
The entire Islamic and Crusader periods upheld stringent edicts forbidding Jews from ascending to or praying on the Temple Mount, while at the same time ‘honoring’ the Jewish kings and prophets who once walked through the ancient Temple precincts.
When Britain conquered Jerusalem on December 11, 1917 General Sir Edmund Allenby declared from the steps of ‘David’s Tower,’ close to the Jaffa Gate and Christ Church:
- “To the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Blessed and the people dwelling in its vicinity: . . . [S]ince your city is regarded with affection by the adherents of three of the great religions of mankind and its soil has been consecrated by the prayers and pilgrimages of multitudes of devout people of these three religions for many centuries, therefore, do I make it known to you that every sacred building, monument, holy spot, shrine, traditional site, endowment, pious bequest, or customary place of prayer of whatsoever form of the three religions will be maintained and protected according to the existing customs and beliefs of those to whose faith they are sacred.”
He then mentioned Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem, the mausoleum in Hebron (to be placed under exclusive Moslem control), the Holy Sepulchre “in remembrance of the magnanimous act of the Caliph Omar, who protected that church.” Allenby made no references to any Jewish holy places. This was not surprising, since the previous Muslim conquerors had long since removed any Jewish connections to those sites, making those places Islamic and not Jewish.
Allenby stated in his official report that “the Mosque of Omar [the Temple Mount] and the area around it have been placed under Moslem control, and a military cordon of Mohammedan officers and soldiers has been established around the mosque. Orders have been issued that no non-Moslem is to pass within the cordon without permission of the Military Governor and the Moslem in charge.” Allenby’s military order in one fell swoop invalidated the abovementioned 60-year-old British-influenced policy from 1839 which granted free Temple Mount access to anyone. Christian groups in England strongly protested and, as a result, the British Cabinet canceled this order three months later. Free access would remain in force for more than ten years. However, after the 1929 Islamist riots against the Jews, the Mufti of Jerusalem Haj Amin al-Husseini closed the Temple Mount to all non-Muslims. The British mandatory government condoned this closure order as far as Jews were concerned, and so Jews were barred from the Temple Mount for the next 38 years.
The 1934 King’s Order-in-Council issued by the government authorities of Mandatory Palestine regulated the legal situation of the Temple Mount by confirming the Ottoman religious status quo regarding sovereignty.
Britain’s Mandate policy vacillated regarding Jewish access to the Temple Mount. In the end it affirmed Islam’s long-standing policies which prevented Jews from ascending to or praying on the Temple Mount. England simply passed the buck, kicking the can down the road by validating Ottoman anti-Jewish precedent and policies.
Jordan, the Temple Mount and the Mount of Olives
On May 28, 1948, toward the conclusion of Israel’s War of Independence, Jerusalem’s Jewish Quarter surrendered and the Temple Mount fell under control of the Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan. The entire Jewish population of Jerusalem’s Old City was exiled, the entire Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives was smashed to bits tombstone by tombstone, and for nineteen years no Jew was allowed to approach the Temple Mount or the Western Wall. This absolute ban was strictly enforced, despite provisions in the Israel-Jordan Armistice Agreement of 3 April 1949, Article 8, that called for “free access to the Holy Places and cultural institutions and use of the cemetery on the Mount of Olives.” Jewish visitors, no matter what their nationality, were forbidden from approaching the Temple Mount or entering the Old City of Jerusalem or ascending the Mount of Olives.
This state of affairs continued until June 7, 1967 when Israeli paratroopers led by Colonel Motta Gur crashed through the Lion’s Gate, wheeled left and charged up onto the Temple Mount.
The Temple Mount is in our hands
Gur radioed from his half-track to HQ: “The Temple Mount is in our hands!” The last time Jews had sovereignly controlled the Temple Mount had been over 1,800 years previous. Gur radioed headquarters: “The Temple Mount is in our hands.” IDF Paratrooper Brigade Chief Communications Officer Ezra Orni, and Chief Intelligence Officer Arik Achmon requested and received Gur’s permission to hang the Israeli flag over the Dome of the Rock. They entered the building, climbed up to any outer balcony and hung the flag outside on an available crescent-crowned pole. IDF Defense Minister Moshe Dayan was watching the scene through binoculars from Mount Scopus. He urgently radioed Gur and demanded: “Do you want to set the Middle East on fire?” The flag was removed. The paratroopers were soon joined by Rabbi Shlomo Goren, the chief army chaplain, who blew a resounding blast on the shofar (ram’s horn) and pronounced an ancient Jewish prayer: “Blessed are You our God, who comforts Zion and builds Jerusalem!”
Next to show up at the Western Wall was Dayan, who read a statement to the press: “We have returned to the holiest of our sites and will never again be separated from it. To our Arab neighbors, Israel extends the hand of peace; and to the peoples of all faiths we guarantee full freedom of worship and of religious rights. We have come not to conquer the holy places of others, nor to diminish their religious rights, but to ensure the unity of the city and to live in it with others in harmony.”
Many Israelis saw the freeing of Jerusalem and of the Temple Mount as a miraculous deliverance of biblical and messianic proportions. A few days after the war over 200,000 Jews flocked to the Western Wall – the first mass Jewish pilgrimage to the Temple Mount in over 1800 years.
Ten days after the Temple Mount and the Western Wall were liberated, Dayan met with the Muslim religious authorities (the Waqf) of Jerusalem in the al-Aqsa Mosque. He announced to them that the Muslim authorities would be in complete charge of all religious activities in the mosques on the Temple Mount. Jews would have free access to the Temple Mount but would not be allowed to pray there. Jews could pray at the Western Wall. The Israeli government subsequently accepted Dayan’s decision that forbade Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount. The rule was that Muslims pray on the top of the mountain while Jews pray below at the Western Wall. The Israeli government wanted to reassure the world that it would not take unilateral measures regarding the Temple Mount’s sovereignty, but would leave this to be determined in final status negotiations. Israel prohibited the flying of an Israeli flag over the site, and refrained from extending its own laws governing Holy Places to the Temple Mount.
With this single decision Dayan created the basis for a status quo situation that has existed up to the present day. Yossi Klein Halevi notes: Israel jumped “from an unplanned victory to a spontaneous concession. No cabinet meeting authorized Dayan’s move. The Defense Minister simply took advantage of his popularity within the Israeli public to manage Israel’s most sensitive religious problem – an arrangement that has persisted ever since.”
Professor Shlomo Ben-Ami, former Israeli Minister of the Public Security, wryly said in the year 2000 “More than we are sovereigns over the Temple Mount, today we are its hostages.”
Does Jewish restoration entail the restoration of the Temple Mount?
Someone once noted that it is easier to get onto the back of a tiger in order to ride him, that to get off of him. The amazing miracle of God’s restoration of His people – albeit partial, and albeit without the national indwelling of the Holy Spirit – carries with it some challenging questions. Since the Return to Zion involves our nation’s return to the Temple Mount, how should we then think and plan regarding the Temple Mount? Since the nations of the Middle East view the restoration of the Temple Mount and its Jewish calling as a casus belli (a cause leading to war), how should we handle and proactively respond to such Islamist threats?
“Many appeals have been made to Israel’s Supreme Court to permit Jews to pray on the Temple Mount. Despite the 1967 Law for the Protection of Holy Places which allows free access and freedom of worship to all religions everywhere, Jews and Christians are prohibited from praying on the Temple Mount, ostensibly to ensure public order. As Justice Menachem Elon, Deputy Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, explained, this prohibition was created because ‘the Temple Mount possessed extraordinary sensitivity that has no parallel anywhere.’”
The famous IDF General Moshe Dayan was concerned that a Jewish reclamation of the Temple Mount could lead to all-out Islamist jihad against Israel. He was also wary about what a zealous Judaism might catalyze were it to move in a xenophobic and totalitarian direction regarding both the Temple Mount and the Jewish state’s citizens.
Yet the Jewish people have a biblical calling to be a nation of prayer, a nation of priests, and a nation of teachers of both God’s word and God’s ways to the nations. Isaiah 2:1-4 ties that calling to a piece of real estate called the Temple Mount:
How can Israel move toward the fulfilment of that divine calling while avoiding the minefields about which Moshe Dayan was concerned? Is such an outcome even possible?
How should we then pray?
- Pray for God to grant clear vision and courage to believers worldwide, to the Jewish people and to Israeli leaders regarding God’s heart and strategies for His people Israel and their Temple Mount
- Pray for YHVH to thwart the destructive plans of the enemy against Israel, the apple of God’s eye
- Pray for the raising up of Ezekiel’s prophetic Jewish army throughout the earth
Your prayers and support hold up our arms and are the very practical enablement of God to us in the work He has called us to do.
In Messiah Yeshua,
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