The Temple Mount: A Hill, A Powder Keg, Metal Detectors and the Status Quo

Temple Mount and Western Wall aerial from southwest, tb010703235
Aerial View of the Western Wall, Temple Mount and Jewish Quarter (Courtesy of Bible Lands Pictorial Library)

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Is the whole Jerusalem Temple Mount episode  (July 2017) really about metal detectors? There are metal detectors everywhere else in Israel, not to mention the world, at checkpoints, the entrances to malls and other public places that Israelis, Muslims, Christians and others walk through….so it’s not really about metal detectors it’s about the Temple Mount and who has control over that sacred place.  Let’s look back at the history of a hill where religion and culture collides.

Western Wall prayer plaza from southwest, tb010312492
The Western Wall Plaza and Ramp to the Temple Mount (Courtesy of Bible Lands Pictorial Library)
  • Abraham brought Isaac to Mount Moriah (location of the Jerusalem Temple Mount) in response to God’s instructions (Genesis 22)
  • David bought the threshing floor on the top of Mount Moriah (2nd Samuel 24: 24)
  • 900 BC Solomon built the first Temple on that site
  • 586 BC Babylon destroyed Solomon’s Temple
  • 514 BC Nehemiah built a smaller version, on the exact site of Solomon’s Temple, after the Jews returned from Babylonian exile
  • 37 BC Herod remodeled Nehemiah’s Temple (which became known as the Second Temple) while enlarging and shoring up Mount Moriah into the compound you see today, thus the Western Wall!
  • 70 AD Rome destroys the Temple and Jerusalem
  • 691 AD the first “Dome of the Rock” once gray colored, now golden, rises on the Temple Mount
  • 700 AD the Al Aqsa Mosque, considered the 3rd Holiest Muslim site, is constructed
  • 1099 Crusaders wrest Jerusalem from Muslim control and “repurpose” the Al Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock
  • 1187 Saladin, sultan and leader of the Muslim forces, retakes Jerusalem, founds the WAQF (an Islamic organization dedicated to the upkeep and control of Jerusalem Holy sites) which manages the Temple Mount to this very day
  • 1516 Ottoman Empire conquers Jerusalem and while leaving the WAQF in place, ensures Jewish access to Holy sites, rebuilds the city walls and beautifies the Temple Mount
  • 1917 after WWI, the British Mandate left the WAQF in control of the Temple Mount
  • November 1947 (with the Jews in agreement and Arabs against) the UN partitions the British mandate into (1) Transjordan (now the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan,(2) Proposed Jewish State (3) Proposed Palestinian State
  • May 14, 1948 the Palestinian Jews declare their own state on the UN allotted land and become Israelis
  • May 15, 1948 the Arab Nations invade the one day old Israeli State in the Israeli War For Independence
    • Israel survived the war and as a result gained land slightly larger than the UN Partition plan
    • Transjordan emerged from the war in control of East Jerusalem, including the Western Wall, the Temple Mount and the West Bank, renamed itself “Jordan” and granted Jordanian citizenship to all Palestinian Arabs living in Jordanian occupied territory
    • Egypt emerged from the war in control of the Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip
    • Just A Thought…For 19 years, from 1949 to 1967, with the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem under total Arab control, no effort was made to created a Palestinian State. WHY?
Israeli Military at the Western Wall (Courtesy of Bible Lands Pictorial Library)
  • May 1967, the Six-day War, Arabs again mobilized armies along Israel’s narrow borders in preparation for a massive invasion to eliminate Israel
    • Israel executed a pre-emptive strike that wiped out the entire Egyptian Air Force within 2 hours – not one plane made it off the runway
    • Jordan, not realizing that Egypt was neutralized, launched an attack from the West Bank
    • Syria launched an attack from the Golan Heights above the Sea of Galilee
  • In SIX SHORT days, Israel totally defeated all three Arab nations and emerged in control of the Gaza Strip, the Golan Heights, the West Bank, all of Jerusalem including the Western Wall and the Temple Mount
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished…in hopes of building bridges with the Arab world
    • General Moshe Dayan persuaded Palestinian Arabs, all packed and ready to leave Gaza, Jerusalem and the West Bank,  to stay with an offer of education, medical treatment and employment
    • Israel returned the Gaza Strip and Sinai Peninsula to Egypt
    • The Status Quo, so much in the news, today is put in place
      • Israeli forces would maintain the security and access to the Temple Mount
      • Israel ceded administrative control of the Temple Mount to the WAQF

So it really isn’t about Metal Detectors…it is about ownership of the Temple Mount. Any little change to that Status Quo lights a fire to that powder keg. With all sides so emotionally invested in this hill, it is hard to envision any agreement will be forthcoming. When God said in Genesis 16: 12 that the brothers, Isaac and Ishmael, would be constantly at each other’s throats, He meant it!

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