Then David gave his son Solomon the plans for the portico of the temple, its buildings, its storerooms, its upper parts, its inner rooms and the place of atonement. (1 Chronicles 28:11)
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The Temple Mount, “Har Habayit” in Hebrew, or Noble Sanctuary, “Haramech-Sharif” in Arabic, is an elevated plateau in Jerusalem. It has a rich legacy and great religious importance. The Waqf, or Supreme Muslim Religious Council, currently governs the Temple Mount. The Temple Mount sits in the Old City Jerusalem and is an important religious site to Jews, Muslims and Christians.
Originally, it was the site of the Temple of Jerusalem, the Jewish most holy place of worship. It is also, however, important to the Muslims as the site of the Prophet Muhammad’s journey to heaven. Christians also revere the site as a place Jesus often visited. It is also believed that the Temple Mount will be the place Jesus returns to earth at the end of time.
The Temple Mount covers 35 acres, and non-Muslims can reach it by going through the gate next to the Western Wall. There are some restrictions when visiting the Temple Mount. Modest dress is required, and religious activity is strictly prohibited. The Torah forbids anyone to enter the area of the Temple Mount because it is so sacred. Therefore, most Jews do not actually enter the Temple Mount area. That being said, the actual location of the Temple within the Temple Mount area is still uncertain. Many scholars think the original temple stood where the Dome of the Rock is now located. However, others believe it sat on the north or south end of the platform.
After King David captured Jerusalem, he chose the Temple Mount as the site of the great temple to house the Ark of the Covenant. Prior to this (10th century), the Jews had been traveling with the Ark of the Covenant. The temple was a small building, as it was only used to house the Ark of the Covenant and as a place to worship. It was totally destroyed in 586 BC by King Nebuchadnezzar II.
In 538 BC, King Cyrus II of Persia permitted the Jews to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple. It was completed in 515 BC. The Second Temple was then desecrated in 167 BC. It was rebuilt and finished by 26 AD, after Jesus was born.
This Second Temple played a huge role in the life of Christ. Jesus was dedicated at the Temple, according to Jewish law, after his birth in 4 BC. The Bible also mentions Christ astounding the teachers when he was young. This took place in the Temple. It was also in the temple that Jesus knocked over the tables of the moneychangers.
In 66 AD, after the death and resurrection of Christ, a Jewish rebellion against Rome nearly destroyed the Temple. The Temple was never rebuilt, though it was attempted a few times throughout Jewish history. During the Byzantine Era, Christians visited Jerusalem, though they tended to focus more on the place of Christ’s miracles, his death and Jesus’ resurrection.
During the Persian invasion of 614, the Muslims came upon the Temple Mount in ruins and immediately made plans to restore it to a place of Muslim worship. The built the Dome of the Rock, the Al-Aqsa Mosque, with a brilliant golden dome. Despite the various conflicts occurring in Jerusalem between Christians, Jews and Muslims, the Temple Mount has remained in Islamic possession.