For the class I’m taking, the professor asked us to write these ‘impressions’, basically diary entries about what you did that day. I figured this would be the quickest way to relate every past day. I haven’t actually finished them yet (I’m way behind), but here are the first four.
July 5th, 2012
Although today was a short day, it was full of many sights. Again, we went to Herodian Jerusalem to look at the Temple Mount but this time we actually went on top of it. Seeing the Dome of the Rock from that vantage point was breath-taking and hearing all the stories about what transpired up there was equally interesting.
Of course, even in Herod’s time, the Temple Mount was a structure that housed the Temple of God. It wasn’t until 70 A.D. with the destruction of Jerusalem – and the Temple – that this began to change. Once the Muslims came in and conquered Jerusalem, they built their sacred structure atop the Temple Mount and began worshiping there. However, the Jews still recognized this place as the location of the first and second temple. So when we fast forward about 1500 years, Jews still pray toward the temple while Muslims pray at the mosque.
I could only imagine how both sides feel in this situation. The Muslims feel entitled to the land and the area since they rightfully conquered it around the 7th century. However, the Jews feel equally entitled to it since this is the place where they believe God’s presence has dwelt since the times of Solomon. They are probably waiting for God to somehow destroy the mosque that presently sits there and make room for the temple they think should be there. But as a Christian, I am also blinded by the reality of my perspective. We don’t need a new temple because we are the new temple. We have God’s Holy Spirit dwelling within us.
Anyway, while we were on the Temple Mount, we did more than look at the pretty buildings. We went to an area called Solomon’s Stables – which were neither stables nor did they belong to Solomon – and heard about the plans to build a mosque there as well. Evidently, some Muslims decided to build the mosque there but did so illicitly and did not allow archaeologist to excavate the area first. This was a really big deal because the Temple Mount had never been excavated before and it was bound to be full of history. Instead, Gabby Barkay had to acquire the dirt from the area and sift through it to find any archaeologically significant things.
From there we saw other sites, including a place where Paul may have stayed and we talked about the theory behind the actual location of the Temple. A leading scholar believes that the Holy of Holies was actually located within the Dome of the Rock. Some think it was in a nearby structure. Some also think that the rock that is within the mosque is the same rock that Abraham put Isaac on when he went to sacrifice him to God but was then given a reprieve. In any case, most believe that the location of the mosque is significant to the times of the first and second temple and possibly the period before then.
Finally, we went to Robinson’s arch and saw a street that existed during the Second Temple period. We also saw steps that Jesus probably spoke on and the disciples probably walked up and down. From there we saw an informational video about sacrifice and life in Second Temple Israel. All in all, we had a short but exceedingly informational day.