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The battle for Jerusalem’s Temple Mount

Jerusalem's Temple Mount Photo: David Ortmann/Flickr

Jerusalem’s Temple Mount Photo: David Ortmann/Flickr

While Muslims clash with Jews over access to Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, workers with the Temple Mount Sifting Project continue to find artifacts solidifying Israel’s claim to the Temple Mount (called Mount Zion in the Bible) and Jerusalem.

There are actually some who challenge the Jew’s historical claim to the Temple Mount and even Jerusalem itself. The Temple Mount was the site to the third Jewish Temple visited by Jesus, who also prophesied its destruction (Mark 13:1-2). The Romans destroyed this temple in 70 AD.

At the present there are two Muslim buildings on the Mount — the Dome of the Rock and the al-Aqsa mosque. Muslims consider the Dome of the Rock their third holiest site. Some Muslims believe the archangel Gabriel took Muhammad to visit heaven at the spot where the Dome sits, while others believe it happened at the nearby mosque.


Muslim extremists, using the al-Aqsa mosque as their base, have attacked Jews who try to pray on top of the Mount instead of the Western Wall down below. The wall is considered to be part of the temple, though some wonder if it is actually the remains of an old Roman fort also built on the Mount.

Because of Muslim aggression, the Israeli government has instituted several rules limiting non-Mulsim access to appease the Muslims and keep the peace in this hotly contested area.

Non-Muslims are only allowed access to the Temple Mount five days a week, even then only for a few hours. Group are limited to less than ten people and must be guided. During their visits, Jews are not allowed to speak or to even move their lips (in case Muslims think they are praying), sing, dance over even bow down as they walk on Mount Zion.

Though the Temple Mount is under Israeli jurisdiction, it is the only place in Israel where Muslims act with impunity. The Israeli government is paralyzed with fear when it comes to dealing with Muslims on the site because of potential violence.

The Jordanian government funds and operates both the Dome of the Rock and nearby Mosque.

The Temple Mount Sifting Project was initiated in 2004 after Muslims bulldozed dirt off the Temple Mount in 1999 under the guise of building an entrance to an underground mosque.

The digging authorized by an Islamic Wakf was politically motivated. Muslims have long tried to rewrite history in their efforts to prove that the Jewish temple never existed at the site and that the Jews never built Jerusalem.

It is estimated 400 truck loads of dirt were maliciously and illegally dug out and transported to a nearby landfill and has an estimated one million artifacts.

Jews set up a project eleven years ago to sift through the tonnes of dirt at the landfill. However, significant quantities of the dirt has been mixed in with the modern garbage and some of the artifacts will never be recovered.

Ten Year old Matvel Tcepliaev with the rare seal Photo: Temple Sifting Project

Ten Year old Matvel Tcepliaev with the rare seal he found. Photo: Temple Sifting Project

Despite this tens of thousands of pails of dirt have been sifted and incredible finds made. The sifting project relies on private funding and employs 20 full-time workers and as well thousands of volunteers (nearly 170,000) over the years) helping with the project.

In September, archaeologists announced finding a seal dating to the time of King David and his son King Solomon. The very rare seal was actually found by a ten-year old Jewish boy from Russia, Matvel Tcepliaev, working at the site.

Speaking on behalf of the Temple Mount Sifting Project, Dr. Gabriel Barkay said:

“The dating of the seal corresponds to the historical period of the Jebusites and conquest of Jerusalem by King David, as well as the construction of the Temple and royal official compound of his son, King Solomon.”

Barkay added:

“The Temple Mount is the most delicate and the most important archaeological site in the country, and it was never excavated because of politics.”

The seal is a very significant find. Though similar seals have been found throughout Israel, this was the first time archaeologists have found one from the Temple site.

The seal that appears to have a predator attacking another animal shows that Jerusalem and particularly the Temple Mount were under the administrative control of the Jews as early as the 10th Century BC, confirming the Biblical accounts.

Though the Muslim faith has only been in existence since about 600 AD (Muhammad considered the author of Qur’an died in 632 AD), it nevertheless lays claim to the Temple Mount and is rewriting history to do so.

Oddly, the Qur’an does not once mention Jerusalem, much the less the Temple Mount. But Muslims claim a verse, which vaguely refers to something called “the Furthest Mosque” is speaking of the Jerusalem temple site.

“Glory be unto Allah who did take his servant for a journey at night from the Sacred Mosque to the Furthest Mosque.” (Sura 17:1)

Of course the main problem with this verse is that in 632 AD, there were no mosques in Jerusalem as it was a Christian city. This means Muhammad was referring to some other mosque — probably one in Mecca.

Muslims did not take control of Jerusalem until six years after Muhammad’s death (638 AD) and then only held sporadic control in the centuries that followed. The Dome of the Rock was not built until 691 – 692 AD and the al-Aqsa mosque in 711 Ad.

Though there is no reference to Jerusalem and the Temple Mount in the Qur’an, the Bible has dozens of references to both Mount Zion and Jerusalem  (Jeremiah 3:14; Joel 2:32; Obadiah 1:17; Psalm 137:1; Isaiah 56:7), which reveals the Jews longstanding claim to both the city and the Temple site.

Some Jews are hoping to build a Jewish Temple on the Mount and have even ordered architectural plans for its construction.

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