In the latest attempt to de-legitimize the Jewish connection to Israel, Jerusalem and the site of the two holy temples to God, the Palestinians under the leadership of President Abbas is trying to remove any claim Israel has to Mount Moriah, the Temple mount and Jerusalem the city it sits in, saying “[the Jews] no right to defile” the site with “their filthy feet.” Abbas further urged violence by saying, “We salute every drop of blood spilled for the sake of Jerusalem.”
If Abbas cared about the truth, he would remember that in the ancient texts the ancient Greeks, Romans, Christians, and even the ancient Muslims reported that Jerusalem and Temple Mount were Jewish lands.
Lets start with the most recent of times. The Chart below details the population of Jerusalem by religion from 1844-1948.
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|Source: Manashe Harrel, “The Jewish Presence in Jerusalem through the Ages” in Sinai and Oestericcher, eds., Jerusalem, John Day, 1974.|
Jews were the majority of the Jerusalem Population from 1844 through the establishment of the State Of Israel when they were kicked out by Jordan. From 1948-1967 Jerusalem was occupied territory– In fact Muslims were the third largest religion in the city until about 1890. But the historically proven Jewish tie to Jerusalem starts way earlier than the mid 19th century.
After the Bar Kochba revolt in 135 CE when the Romans punished the Jews for revolting by changing the name of their country from Judea to Syria Palaestina (after the Philistines the ancient Jewish enemy who no longer existed), and the name of the holy city from Jerusalem to Aelia Capitolina (literally Capitoline Hill of the House of Aelius).
For ancient Greek and Roman pagan authors, Jerusalem definitely was a Jewish city. An examination of their texts indicates the unanimous agreement that Jerusalem was Jewish by virtue of the fact that its inhabitants were Jews, it was founded by Jews and the Temple, located in Jerusalem, was the center of the Jewish religion.
These ancient texts, disprove recent attempts by Muslims and others to deny the historic connection of the Jewish people to Jerusalem and the location of the Temple in Jerusalem through fabrications and lies. Below are just some of examples from Greek and Roman times published in a November 2008 Report issued by the JCPA:
- Some writers recall distinctive Jewish customs, such as the absence of representations of the deity, male circumcision, dietary laws and the observance of the weekly day of rest, the Sabbath. Indeed, in 167 BCE, the Greek Seleucid King Antiochus IV ordered Jews to place an idol of Zeus in the Temple, outlawed circumcision, demanded the sacrifice of swine and forbade Sabbath observance (I Maccabees 1:41-50). He thus desired to eliminate those unique features of the Jewish religion which had been noted by pagan writers.
- In an account by Hecataeus of Abdera (c. 300 BCE), Jerusalem appears toward the conclusion of his counter-Exodus account and before his description of Jewish society and practices. He attributes the expulsion of the Jews to the pestilence which the Egyptians blamed upon the presence of foreigners, not only Jews, who caused the natives to falter in religious observance. “Therefore, the aliens were driven from the country.” While some went to Greece, most “were driven into what is now called Judaea … at that time utterly uninhabited … on taking possession of the land, he [Moses] founded, besides other cities, one that is the most renowned of all, called Jerusalem. In addition, he established the temple that they hold in chief veneration, instituted their forms of worship and ritual, drew up their laws and ordered their political institutions.”
- Several of the selections in Against Apion which include the anti-Exodus narrative also provide descriptions of the interior and exterior of the Temple and some of its rituals. For example, Hecataeus states that in the center of the city is an enclosure where there is “a square altar built of heaped up stones, unhewn and unwrought.” The Temple itself is “a great edifice containing and altar and a lamp stand, both made of gold … upon these is a light which is never extinguished … there is not a single statue or votive offering, no trace of a plant in the form of a sacred grove, or the like.”Hecataeus “On the Jews”, in Against Apion I, 198-199; Stern, I, V, No.12, 36-37
- And in his account of Titus’ siege of Jerusalem, Tacitus describes the Temple as “… built like a citadel, with walls of its own … the very colonnades made a splendid defense. Within the enclosure is an ever-flowing spring.”[Tacitus, Historiae V:12:1 (Stern, II, XCII, no. 281) 22,30.
- In addition to physical descriptions, the authors mention the religious aspect of the Temple which differed radically from Greek and Roman paganism. In the text preserved by Diodorus, Hecataeus mentions the priests and their duties in the Temple and even describes a worship service and sacrifice. Similarly, the first century Roman historian Livy remarks that the Jews do not state “to which deity pertains the temple at Jerusalem, nor is any image found there, since they do not think the God partakes of any figure.”Hecataeus, in Diodorus, Aegyptiaca, Bibliotheca Historica XL, 3, 4-6; Stern, I, V, No. 11, 26-28.
It is noteworthy that an earlier capture of Jerusalem by the Greek-Egyptian King Ptolemy, son of Lagus, provided an opportunity for the obscure Agatharchides of Cnidus (second century BCE) to remark about the fact that “the people known as Jews, who inhabited the most strongly fortified of cities, called by the natives Jerusalem” lost their city because they would not defend it on the Sabbath. Josephus includes this selection in Against Apion as one of the early pagan critiques of the Jewish Sabbath which Agatharchides deemed as “folly,” “dreams,” and “traditional fancies about the law.”
The Palestinians point to the fact that their is little archeological evidence that either Temple existed, but ignore the very convenient fact that there is no digging allowed on the Temple Mount in resect of its holiness to the Muslims. But there are references to the Jewish Temple in the holy Muslim texts.
The examples below come from the Jewish Virtual Library:
The Qur’an refers to the existence of both temples in verse 17:7. In this passage, the Qur’an deals with God’s punishment of the Children of Israel for their transgressions:
(We permitted your enemies)
To disfigure your faces,
And to enter your Temple
As they had entered it before,
And to visit with destruction
All that fell into their power.
The word translated as “Temple” by Abdullah Yusuf Ali (and by the influential translator Marmaduke Pickthall before him) is masjid. This word, which is usually translated as mosque, has the meaning of a sanctuary wherever it appears in a pre-Islamic context. The usual Muslim exegesis of this verse (including that of Abdullah Yusuf Ali) holds that it refers to the destruction of the First and Second Temples.
Muslim tradition is especially adamant about the existence of the First Temple, built by Solomon, who appears in the Qur’an as a prophet and a paragon of wisdom. Verse 34:13 is an account of how Solomon summoned jinn (spirits) to build the Temple:
They worked for him
As he desired, (making) Arches,
As large as wells,
And (cooking) Cauldrons fixed
(In their places)
The very verse in the Quran that makes the Temple Mount holy to Muslims proves that the spot was occupied by the Jewish Temple:
The Islamic sanctity of the Haram al-Sharif [what the Muslims call the Temple Mount] is based upon verse 17:1:
Glory to (Allah)
Who did take His Servant
For a Journey by night
From the Sacred Mosque
To the Farthest Mosque
This is the textual proof of the isra’, the earthly segment of the Night Journey of the Prophet Muhammad: overnight, Muhammad was miraculously transported, round-trip, from “the Sacred Mosque” (al-Masjid al-Haram)-that is, the Ka’ba (or its vicinity) in Mecca-to “the Farthest Mosque” (al-Masjid al-Aqsa). Later Muslim tradition came to identify “the Farthest Mosque” with Jerusalem. But during Muhammad’s lifetime, no mosque stood in Jerusalem; the Muslims conquered the city only several years after his death. Abdullah Yusuf Ali’s commentary on this verse summarizes the traditional explanation: “The Farthest Mosque,” he writes, “must refer to the site of the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem on the hill of Moriah.”
When Muslims did build a mosque on this hill, Muslim tradition holds that it was built deliberately on the verified site of earlier sanctuaries. According to Muslim tradition, when the Caliph Umar visited Jerusalem after its conquest, he searched for David’s sanctuary or prayer niche (mihrab Dawud), which is mentioned in the Qur’an (38:21). (David was believed to have chosen the site on which Solomon built.) When Umar was satisfied he had located it, he ordered a place of prayer (musalla) to be established there. This evolved into a mosque-precursor of the later Aksa Mosque. Thus began the Islamization of the complex that later came to be known as the Haram al-Sharif. It became the tradition of Islam that Muslims restored the site to its earlier function as a place of supplication venerated by all the prophets, including Abraham, David and Solomon.
Then there is Koran, Sura 2:145, “The Cow”
“…They would not follow thy direction of prayer (qiblah), nor art thou to follow their direction of prayer; nor indeed will they follow each other’s direction of prayer…”
Commentators explain that “thy qiblah” (direction of prayer for Muslims) clearly refers the Ka’bah of Mecca, while “their qiblah” (direction of prayer for Jews) refers to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
This Koranic passage appears to show that the holiness of Jerusalem a Jewish concept, and should not be confused with an Islamic concept, as the 13th-century Arab biographer and geographer Yakut noted: “Mecca is holy to Muslims, and Jerusalem to the Jews.”
And lets not forget that the Jewish Temple is mentioned in the Christian Gospels which pre-date Islam. For example in Mark 12:40 and Luke 20:47 Jesus accused the Temple authorities of thieving and this time names poor widows as their victims, going on to provide evidence of this in Mark 12:42 and Luke 21:2. Dove sellers were selling doves that were sacrificed by the poor who could not afford grander sacrifices and specifically by women. According to Mark 11:16, Jesus then put an embargo on people carrying any merchandise through the Temple—a sanction that would have disrupted all commerce. And in In the Gospel of John 2:15-16 Jesus refers to the Temple as “my Father’s house”, thus, making a claim to being the Son of God.
He poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables; and to those who were selling the doves He said, “Take these things away; stop making My Father’s house a place of business.”
What does this all mean? Ancient text, Muslim text, and Christian text all agree with the Jewish text that there was a holy temple atop Mount Moriah in Jerusalem. So it’s time for the American Government and other world leaders to press the BS button on Palestinian President Abbas and point out the truth, and that the only reason he is agitating his people about Jerusalem is that he is trying to make a case that there is no Jewish connection to the city.
The Jews believe that Israel is the heart of the Jewish people, Jerusalem is the heart of Israel, and the Temple Mount is the heart of Jerusalem, and no one can take that away except for God himself.