The Temple Mount
30.11.2011 - 30.11.2011
This morning we set off on the bus towards Temple Mount. On the way there, the bus passed the piece of land which is known as Judas Iscariot’s field, the one which he bought for 30 pieces of silver and committed suicide.
We reached the Temple Mount. We had to go through pretty strict security to enter the site. Our bags were checked for bibles, and we went through metal detectors. There is currently a Muslim mosque sitting on top of the mountain, with a big gold dome. Mosques were built on the mountain in 600AD, and under the current dome is the place where they believe Abraham attempted to kill Ishmael, according to Muslim tradition. Muslims have had total control of this mountain since 1948. They come here to gather, pray, read and learn.
The temple area was so much bigger than I was expecting it to be. In served many functions in biblical times. It had administrative roles, contained the sacrifices, and all aspects of religion was carried out here. It was designed to look really impressive, it was the place where God resided so needed to be amazing! The enterance would have been very imposing and awe inspiring for a Jew.
We saw the Eastern/Beautiful/Golden Gate. This was a ceremonial gate, which was not used for everyday activities. Jesus went through this gate. This gate was closed for security reasons since the 12th Century. The one in the photo is not the actual one, its further underground.
After leaving the top of the Mount, we went to the Western Wall, the most holy site for the Jewish people, since it is the closest they can get on their territory to what was the temple. I had not experienced anything like this before. I felt a little intrusive standing and watching people praying at the wall. Yet there was this sense of excitement and expectation as people headed down to the wall to spend time with their god. I think we can learn from the Jewish people's devotion to what they believe, as well as the sense of community which was evident around the wall.
We walked down into the Jerusalem Archeological Park. This is the only part of the Temple which has been able to be excavated due to religious tensions. Perhaps the most significant part of this site was seeing the corner of what was the 2nd temple. Again, I was struck by the size of the thing. It was huge! It was up on this corner where priests would blow a trumpet over the city. Together we read Matthew 4. This is the corner of the temple where Jesus was told by the devil to throw himself down. It would have been very high up, falling off would have led to certain death. Jesus however fought the devil with scripture, saying 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'
We walked around the steps at the enterance of the temple. This area is biblically significant because of Acts 2-3, where Peter spoke to the crowds. This would have been a busy place back in that time. There was plenty of room for plenty of people! The steps at the entrance were designed so that there was one long, followed by one narrow step. This adds to the holiness of the site, so that people cannot run in and out of the temple.