My Seven Wonders of the World, #3

temple-mount

Temple Mount of Jerusalem

 

(AVRAHAM GRAICER, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index)

The Temple Mount in Jerusalem has been a focus of history and religious devotion and fanaticism for three millennia. Three faith’s hold it to be the site where Abraham offered his son (Genesis), though they disagree which son was offered. It was the site of Solomon’s, Zerubbabel’s (Nehemiah?) and Herod’s temples in the tenth and sixth centuries BC and first century AD.

Some assert that Herod’s Temple was only the second, as the building of the third temple will supposedly trigger the Apocalypse, but historically Herod’s Temple was the third Jewish temple built on this site. Calling it a reconstruction of Zerubbabel’s sanctuary would compare to labeling the 1961 aircraft carrier USS Enterprise a reconstruction of the 1799 frigate USS Enterprise. Zerubbabel’s Temple was so much inferior to Solomon’s, that those who had seen the previous structure wept. (Ezra 3:12)

Six hundred years later King Herod started over, literally from the ground up. Herod, when he wasn’t murdering family, friends, and potential rivals, was a builder of colossal projects: the harbor at Caesarea, Masada, the Herodium, and of course the Temple in Jerusalem. His temple was destroyed less than a hundred years later during the AD 70 revolt against Rome. Only the massive walls remain, which define and enclose the mount. The plaza facing the Western Wall is gradually conforming to the solemnity of the site.

One block, the Western Stone, is believed among the heaviest objects moved by men (without powered equipment).

Dome of the Rock, a notable piece of architecture in its own right, was built on the approximate site of the Jewish temples starting in AD 687. The city walls, which incorporate those of the Mount, were mostly built by Suleiman the Magnificent in the sixteenth century.

western-wallWe visited the Temple Mount in 2014. As with the pyramids, it makes a greater impression in person than in pictures. As with every other entry on this list, I touched the Western Wall.

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