Around the World Pic of the Day: Dome of the Rock

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And here I am, in this week’s picture of the week! Where am I? The center of the world – the spot of creation. Holy crap! Now, don’t get me wrong, do I really think that the rock under the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount is the point at which God created the universe. No, of course not, but that doesn’t keep this place from having an amazing aura to it and at the very least a sensational history.

As for the lore, not only was this the place at which God supposedly began the creation of the universe, but it’s also where the Jews eventually concluded that Abraham tried to sacrifice his son Isaac (Genesis 22). This place is supposed to be the land of Moriah – the place connected to where God punished King David for taking a census of the people (does that seem like a good reason to kill 70,000 people?). After seeing the destruction he was reaping, God relented and ordered his angel to stop killing everyone. The place God stopped the angel’s hand was the same place the angel stopped Abraham’s hand from killing Isaac which was over the future site of Jerusalem – and here, on what is now the Temple Mount, was the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite. David bought it, built an altar and sacrificed animals there to God.

In the exact spot of this altar, King Solomon built the first Temple to God, destroyed in 586 BCE by the Babylonians and here the Temple was rebuilt sometime in the fifth century BCE, only to be made huge and beautiful by Herod the Great, visited by Jesus himself – who was not pleased by the money changing he saw going on but did teach some lessons (wish I could have been there) – and eventually destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE after a huge Jewish revolt (The Great Revolt).

The Romans built a temple to the god Jupiter on this very site in order to piss off the Jews and after 135, another Jewish revolt (The Bar Kochba Revolt), the Jews were forbidden from ever visiting the area. By the time the Byzantines took over from the fourth through sixth centuries, the site was turned into a garbage dump in order to demonstrate Christian thoughts about the Jewish Temple. Not until the Muslims conquered Jerusalem and still only 60 or so years after that (though Muslim histories will claim that it was Omar, the Muslim conquerer of Jerusalem who built it) was the site cleared and the Dome of the Rock constructed. Due to upkeep and repairs it has stood there ever since the end of the seventh century.

Amazing that one building has been there for over 1300 years. Jerusalem, for the Muslims, is the third holiest city, after Mecca and Medina. Jerusalem is never mentioned by name in the Koran, but a number of references are tied to it. After the 1967 War, known in Israel as the Six Day War, the Temple Mount (Har Ha Bait) as it is known to Jews, was taken and has ever since been under Jewish control, though the Dome of the Rock is still there – and rightfully so.

Now, for some opinions:

The Dome of the Rock has every right to continue standing on the Temple Mount. That beautiful building has been there for a long time, as I mentioned, and should not just be destroyed because Jews (and Christians) want a Third Temple there. Indeed, a Third Temple is a bad idea. Why?

First of all, the Temple implies that there will be a resumption of the animal sacrifice that went on there, which is ludicrous. Jews do not need to start sacrificing animals. Talk about bad additional press. Most of them don’t really understand that modern rabbinic Judaism was actually an attempt to function as a religion without sacrifice when the Temple had been destroyed. So what happens to rabbinic law once sacrifice resumes? Serious problems.

Moreover, from a security standpoint, it’s great that the Dome of the Rock is there because during Israeli-Arab wars, Arab and Muslim countries won’t fire rockets at Jerusalem for fear of their inaccuracy destroying the holy site. That’s a pretty sweet security measure.

So why do Jews and Christians want a Third Temple built? To bring the Messiah of course. Jews just think it will be some dude that can only come with the building of the Temple, and Christians obviously think that it will result in Jesus’ second coming. Supposedly the Messiah will rise over the Mount of Olives and walk through the Lions’ Gate, followed by the recently risen dead of all those buried close. Right…

This is why some of the world’s biggest advocates of bulldozing the Dome of the Rock and rebuilding the Temple are American conservative Christians. They’re the ones who are in the process of breeding a red cow (needed for sacrifice) so that we’ll be totally ready when the time comes and Jesus can return as soon as possible.

Frankly, though, holy, historical sites should not be destroyed and we should all try to get along better, perhaps putting the site itself under international control and allowing visitors only at certain hours so that the site can be maintained for Muslim worship throughout the day.

Interestingly, school children’s classrooms are up on the Temple Mount and they play soccer in its gardens. It’s a fascinating place and it should be left alone to the designs of history – not deliberate interference.

What do you think? Destroy it and rebuild the Temple? Bring on Jesus? Ever been there? What’d you think? Send me your pictures at JaySolomon@thezenofsouthpark.com and visit http://www.thezenofsouthpark.com for more.

South Park Tonight: the 10 pm episode, “Grey Dawn,” has a great speech by Father Maxi at the memorial service towards the beginning of the episode where he talks about God’s warped sense of humor when He has old people kill others with their cars. Great and poignant. Do we really need to make up ways of understanding God when we don’t understand why things happen?

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8 Responses

  1. You know, my thoughts are that the Messiah/Jesus will come when He’s good and ready, and not before. Trying to bring it about will surely not do anything!

    As far as who should have control, I really can’t say. Both the Jews (as the original possesors) and the Muslims (as the conquerers) have claim to it.

    I’m just jealous that you got to go to Jerusalem 😛

  2. I think that’s a great point, Zacharias – trying to force a messianic age is rather futile, because how can we really know what needs doing. What I conclude from your comment is that it’s important to continue living our own lives as best we can, being good people and improving the current situation of the world in concrete, positive ways – not by breeding special red cows for eventual proper sacrifice.

    And yes, it is very tricky who should control the Temple Mount. Whatever the ‘right’ answer, Jerusalem is a really incredible place and I feel fortunate to have studied religion in that amazing city. Standing in a place where you can see the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the Dome of the Rock and the Temple Mount while hearing the Muslim call to prayer, ringing church bells and the call of the shofar is really a remarkable experience. I recommend that everyone try to get there at some point – and if you need any advice or guidance about your trip, I gave tours of the whole country and would be happy to help!

  3. I personally believe that bulldozing the Dome of the Rock is ridiculous idea. I think it’s always easy for third parties with no direct connection (american chirstians) to make such a suggestion. Although from time to time I wonder if God will just decide to swallow it up in an earthquake and end the issue all together. Having also lived in Jerusalem for a while, I feel that if Israelis acted more like Jews and Muslims acted more like their Prophet probably did, then the Dome of the Rock/Temple Mount wouldn’t be such an issue. I don’t care how well you know the Bible or Quran, the second you start making other people feel like garbage , you should ask yourself, “Is this how Moses or Jeremiah would have behaved, would Muhammad have acted like this?”
    With Divine monuments stacked one on top of the other, shouldn’t the Temple Mount/Dome of the Rock serve as the epicenter of peace rather than conflict?
    How come Jews don’t say to themselves, ” Well shit, God sent us away for a long time and brought all of these Arabs here and put this huge Dome on the Temple before He brought us back. I guess well just have hang out with these guys and see what happens.” And Muslims, “Damn, well I thought God got rid of these Jews, but apparently He wants them to live here again, so I guess we’ll have to put up with them for a while.” Maybe He just wants the family to get back together.
    Anyway, I could keep going, just something to think about.

  4. […] Want to see more pictures about holy places in Jerusalem. For the Around the World Pic of the Day on the Dome of the Rock, click HERE. […]

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  7. You end p5 with an opinion, and p6 says:

    “Now, for some opinions:”

    lol. It never fails. We as people seem to find objectivity the hardest thing to practice…Especially when we’re unsure of reality…or should I say actuality…?

    I look forward to having the same opportunity to visit the Holy Land. I agree as well, that we are ridiculous in trying pro actively to bring on any prophecy ourselves. God is sovereign (not “the god of my understanding” just God-There could not be more than one) and for us to think we can hurry him up shows how ridiculous we are as selfish, self-serving humans. If we agree that it was God who created us, then how could we possibly think He is who we think He is? Instead, would He not be who He says he is? And while it is difficult (impossible?) outside of FAITH to try to understand and somehow agree with Him in any way while continuing to do what He tells us NOT to do, It is not difficult at all while having FAITH, and being obedient to His Word. On the contrary, true belief is very easy, when practiced. And convincing. Eternity is not a matter that hinges on perception.

    God. Does He or does He not have a “warped sense of humor?”

    Forever is an extremely long time to be wrong.

  8. Ur weird!

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