Esor Ben-Sorek

Jewish Temple — Muslim Mosque

Jerusalem is a holy city to Jews, Christians and Muslims, in that order.

Following the death of King David in 970 BCE, his son Solomon became King of Judah and he began the construction of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem using thousands of Judean workers building with the cedars provided by Hiram, King of Tyre  (today’s Lebanon).

The construction of the Holy Temple was completed and dedicated to the God of Israel in the year 964 BCE.

It was used as the sole place for Jewish worship until the 10 northern tribes were conquered by the Assyrians in 721 BCE and by the remaining two tribes in the southern kingdom until it was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BCE and centuries later by the Romans in the year 70 of the Common Era.

After its destructions, Jews had only one place of worship…at the last remaining wall of the Second Temple, the Western Wall (ha kotel ha maarvi), historically remembered as the Wailing Wall… the place where Jews from across the globe came to weep in sorrow and, in place of sacrificial offerings, they rendered their solemn prayers to Almighty God.

With the Christian conquest of the Holy Land, churches were built in several places in Jerusalem, the most prominent  being the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, believed by Christians to be the site of Golgotha where Jesus had been crucified by orders of the Roman ruler, Titus.

Centuries later, the religion of Islam began in the first half of the seventh century of the Common Era..610 CE in Arabia.

In the year that the Prophet Mohammed died in 632 CE there was not a mosque anywhere in Jerusalem. The magnificent golden domed Mosque of Omar was built in 1193 of the Common Era, more than two thousand years after King Solomon built his Holy Temple.

When the mosque was built, Jerusalem had been a Christian city and both Jews and Muslims were subject to Christian domination.

This is proof that the Jews were worshiping in Jerusalem for some two thousand years before the birth of Islam.

In spite of it being a  central place of worship for Muslims, the Mosque of Omar did not become a political site until 1930 when it was so declared by the pro-Nazi Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Hussaini,  (may his name be erased forever).

His false claim that the Jews were attacking the mosque resulted in the 1929 pogrom in Hebron, city of the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and the matriarchs Sarah, Rebecca and Leah, buried in the Cave of Machpela which Abraham bought from  Ephron the Hittite for four hundred silver shekels.

Jews who had been living in peace with Arab neighbors for hundreds of years were massacred. Pregnant women had their bellies cut open by Muslim swords. Rabbis and Jewish scholars were slaughtered. Only a few Jews survived the massacre, in part saved by decent Arab neighbors who hid them in their homes.

Relations between Jews and Muslim Arabs turned exceedingly bitter after 1929. Wounds have not healed to this day.

In 1948, when Israel proclaimed its independence from Great Britain’s mandate, the eastern part of Jerusalem was captured by the Jordanian Legion and all access to the Temple Mount, the Western Wall and all Jewish holy places was denied by the conquering Jordanian military forces for 19 years.

But in 1967, after Israel’s victorious war, Jerusalem was liberated and unified with the western part of the city.

Jews, religious and non-religious, flocked by the thousands to the site of the Temple Mount where Solomon’s Temple once stood and to the longed-for kotel.. the Western Wall, each giving thanks to God who had delivered them from the hands of the enemy.

Now, Jerusalem once again became the eternal capital of the Jewish nation and people.

And on the height of the Jerusalem mount rests the remains of King Solomon’s Temple, no longer visible, next to the domes of the mosques of Omar and Al-Aksa.

Two peoples… Jews and Muslims… both with individual claims to the holy sites, both worshiping One God, have not learned to live in peace with one another.

I doubt that they ever will.

About the Author
Esor Ben-Sorek is a retired professor of Hebrew, Biblical literature & history of Israel. Conversant in 8 languages: Hebrew, Yiddish, English, French, German, Spanish, Polish & Dutch. Very proud of being an Israeli citizen. A follower of Trumpeldor & Jabotinsky & Begin.
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