Possible carved stone from Jewish Temple-era antiquity exposed by digging at Temple Mount in Jerusalem
JERUSALEM – The Christian world and top U.S. Christian leaders are being urged to petition the Israeli government to immediately halt a massive dig Islamic authorities are conducting on the Temple Mount – Judaism’s holiest site – that is said to be destroying antiquities and what archaeologists believe is a wall from the Second Jewish Temple.
The Israeli government has barred archaeologists from inspecting the Temple-era wall, believed to be from the outer courtyard of the Second Temple.
The wall reportedly has been pulverized by bulldozers operated by the Waqf, the Mount’s Muslim custodians.
If verified, the wall would be the most significant Jewish Temple find in history.
“The Christian people must rise up and stand with their brethren in Israel and make their voices heard to stop this travesty,” states an open letter from Israel’s Temple Institute, an organization seeking to promote awareness of the Temple Mount. “We are asking Christians to do everything possible to petition the Israeli government to halt the Waqf destruction and have archaeologists immediately inspect the area.”
“As a result of destructive and wanton bulldozing by the Waqf – with Israeli permission – a section of the wall of the Holy Temple in the area universally recognized as the location of the Women’s Court has been unearthed,” the letter states. “This is the first time since the destruction of the Second Temple that actual physical evidence of the Temple has been revealed. But all of the antiquities of the Temple that have been uncovered are in danger of being destroyed if you don’t help.”
Leading Israeli archaeologists, speaking to WND, also urged the Christian world to act immediately:
“The Christian world and all those who care about safeguarding the Temple Mount must immediately join us in our efforts to protect the holy site and demand that the Israeli government stop the Waqf construction,” prominent, third-generation Temple Mount archaeologist Eilat Mazar said.
Trench dug by Islamic keepers of Temple Mount
“The Temple Mount is important to people of all religions. Now is the time to act before more antiquities are erased,” said Mazar, a senior fellow at Israel’s Shalem Center and member of the Public Committee for Prevention of the Destruction of Antiquities on Temple Mount.
Mazar’s much-discussed discovery in the City of David, a neighborhood just south of Jerusalem’s Old City Walls, is a massive building that dates to the 10th century BC is believed is the remains of the palace of the biblical King David, the second leader of a united Kingdom of Israel, who ruled from around 1005 to 965 B.C.
Last month, they were given permission by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to use bulldozers and other heavy equipment to dig a massive trench they say is necessary to replace electrical cables outside mosques on the holy site. The dig, which extends to most of the periphery of the Mount, is being protected by the Israeli police and is supposed to be supervised by the Israeli government’s Antiquities Authority.
Digging at Temple Mount in Jerusalem
Earlier this month, after bulldozers dug a trench 1,300 feet long and five feet deep, the Muslim diggers came across a wall Israeli archaeologists believe may be remains of an area of the Second Jewish Temple known as the woman’s courtyard.
The Antiquities Authority has not halted the dig and has not inspected the site. The Waqf has continued using bulldozers to blast away at the trench containing the wall and has steadfastly denied it is destroying any antiquities.
But WND obtained a photograph of the massive Waqf trench. In view in the picture are concrete slabs broken by Waqf bulldozers and a chopped up carved stone believed to be of Jewish Temple-era antiquity.
Mazar analyzed the photo and said the damaged stone displays elements of the second Temple era and might be part of the Jewish Temple wall Israeli archaeologists charge the Waqf has been attempting to destroy. She said in order to certify the stone in the photo, she would need to personally inspect it.
But Israel is blocking leading archaeologists from surveying the massive damage Islamic authorities are accused of causing to what may be the outer wall of the Second Jewish Temple.
“The Antiquities Authority tells us to coordinate with the police. The police send us back to the Antiquities Authority,” said Mazar.
The Antiquities Authority did not return repeated requests for comment.
Temple Mount dig
“It’s crucial this wall is inspected. The Temple Mount ground level is only slightly above the original Temple Mount platform, meaning anything found is likely from the Temple itself,” the archaeologist said.
Fed up, Mazar and other top archaeologists last week ascended the Mount to hold a news conference and inspect the site without government permission, but they were blocked from the trench by the Israeli police.
“It is unconscionable that the Israeli government is permitting the Waqf to use heavy equipment to chop away at the most important archaeological site in the country without supervision,” Mazar said.
“The Israeli government is actively blocking us from inspecting the site and what may be a monumental find and is doing nothing while the Waqf destroys artifacts at Judaism’s holiest site,” she said.
Mount destruction ‘attempt to undermine God’s sovereignty’
In his group’s letter to the Christian world today, Rabbi Chaim Richman, director of the international department at Israel’s Temple Institute, pointed out what he said was the significance of the Islamic dig on the Temple Mount.
To understand the Waqf destruction as merely an archaeological issue would be myopic. It would also be a mistake to consider these actions as nothing more than a heartless and cruel attack against another religion and culture. These atrocities are not being committed solely against the Jewish people and their traditions. This is an attack on humankind by enemies of the God of Israel
Aside from the political implications regarding the future of Jerusalem and the direct effect that this will have on the entire world, the spiritual implications of what is now transpiring are enormous. The Bible consistently emphasizes the centrality of the Holy Temple in the life of mankind; it is none other than the ‘footstool’ of God in the world.
The destruction of God’s holy mountain is precisely what is taking place at this very moment under our very eyes. The purposeful destruction of remnants of the Holy Temple are an attempt to undermine God’s sovereignty and to erase His name from the one place on earth that He has chosen to manifest His presence throughout the saga of human history.
Richman called the Temple Mount “central to humanity.”
“Our sages teach us that Adam, the first man, was created from the spot of the altar in the Holy Temple. All of Adam’s descendants – the family of man who are created in the Divine image – are therefore under attack.”
Richman was among those on the Mount last week with Mazar. He told WND he attempted to take pictures of the damage the bulldozers are allegedly wrecking on the wall, but his digital camera was confiscated by Israeli police at the direction of Waqf officials.
“If Israel was building a shopping mall and they found what may be an ancient Buddhist structure, the government would stop the construction and have archaeologists go over the area with a fine tooth comb. Here, the holiest site in Judaism is being damaged, a Temple wall was found, and Israel is actively blocking experts from inspecting the site while allowing the destruction to continue,” Richman said.
Richman charged the Waqf was “trying to erase Jewish vestiges from the Temple Mount.”
(bold) Muslim custodians have history of destroying Temple artifacts
The last time the Waqf conducted a large dig on the Temple Mount – during construction 10 years ago of a massive mosque at an area referred to as Solomon’s Stables – the Wafq reportedly disposed truckloads of dirt containing Jewish artifacts from the First and Second Temple periods.
After the media reported the disposals, Israeli authorities froze the construction permit given to the Wafq, and the dirt was transferred to Israeli archaeologists for analysis. The Israeli authorities found scores of Jewish Temple relics in the nearly disposed dirt, including coins with Hebrew writing referencing the Temple, part of a Hasmonean lamp, several other Second Temple lamps, Temple period pottery with Jewish markings, a marble pillar shaft and other Temple period artifacts. The Waqf was widely accused of attempting to hide evidence of the existence of the Jewish Temples.
Temples ‘never existed’
Most Palestinian leaders routinely deny well-documented Jewish ties to the Temple Mount.
Speaking to WND in a recent interview, Waqf official and chief Palestinian Justice Taysir Tamimi claimed the Jewish Temples “never existed.”
“About these so-called two Temples, they never existed, certainly not at the Haram Al- Sharif (Temple Mount),” said Tamimi, who is considered the second most important Palestinian cleric after Muhammad Hussein, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem.
“Israel started since 1967 making archaeological digs to show Jewish signs to prove the relationship between Judaism and the city, and they found nothing. There is no Jewish connection to Israel before the Jews invaded in the 1880s,” said Tamimi.
The Palestinian cleric denied the validity of dozens of digs verified by experts worldwide revealing Jewish artifacts from the First and Second Temples, tunnels that snake under the Temple Mount and more than 100 ritual immersion pools believed to have been used by Jewish priests to cleanse themselves before services. The cleansing process is detailed in the Torah.
Asked about the Western Wall, Tamimi said the structure was a tying post for Muhammad’s horse and that it is part of the Al Aqsa Mosque, even though the wall predates the mosque by more than 1,000 years.
“The Western Wall is the western wall of the Al Aqsa Mosque. It’s where Prophet Muhammad tied his animal which took him from Mecca to Jerusalem to receive the revelations of Allah.”
The Palestinian media also regularly claim the Jewish Temples never existed.
Judaism’s holiest site
While the Temple Mount is the holiest site in Judaism, Muslims say it is their third holiest site.
The First Jewish Temple was built by King Solomon in the 10th century B.C. It was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 B.C. The Second Temple was rebuilt in 515 B.C. after Jerusalem was freed from Babylonian captivity. That temple was destroyed by the Roman Empire in A.D. 70. Each temple stood for a period of about four centuries.
The Jewish Temple was the center of religious Jewish worship. It housed the Holy of Holies, which contained the Ark of the Covenant and was said to be the area upon which God’s “presence” dwelt. The Dome of the Rock now sits on the site and the Al Aqsa Mosque is adjacent.
The temple served as the primary location for the offering of sacrifices and was the main gathering place in Israel during Jewish holidays.
The Temple Mount compound has remained a focal point for Jewish services over the millennia. Prayers for a return to Jerusalem have been uttered by Jews since the Second Temple was destroyed, according to Jewish tradition. Jews worldwide pray facing toward the Western Wall, a portion of an outer courtyard of the Temple left intact.
The Al Aqsa Mosque was constructed around A.D. 709 to serve as a shrine near another shrine, the Dome of the Rock, which was built by an Islamic caliph. Al Aqsa was meant to mark where Muslims came to believe Muhammad, the founder of Islam, ascended to heaven.
Jerusalem is not mentioned in the Quran. Islamic tradition states Muhammad took a journey in a single night from “a sacred mosque” – believed to be in Mecca in southern Saudi Arabia – to “the farthest mosque” and from a rock there ascended to heaven. The farthest mosque later became associated with Jerusalem.