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Who Owns Jerusalem's Temple Mount?

By Randy Weiss, Ph.D

The Christian Online Magazine -


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The Temple Mount in Jerusalem is indisputably one of the holiest sites on earth. Currently, that is the only fact not disputed! Who owns the Temple Mount? Christians and Jews believe that King David bought the site from Ornan the Jebusite. The inspirational transaction is noteworthy because Ornan tried to give the land to David free of charge (1Chron. 21:18-26). Instead of accepting the gift from the original owner, David paid full price. He was careful not to offend God with a sacrifice that had no cost. King David was wise to have purchased the land for our Temple. His mistake was failing to get a survey and title insurance policy!

Today, ownership of the site is hotly debated. The Temple Mount remains at the center of Jewish hope and world controversy. What is really known about the site? King Solomon’s Temple was built there nearly 3,000 years ago and followed by Zerubabbel’s less glorious Temple 500 years later. Finally, the greatest builder of his era, King Herod, constructed the third Temple on the same holy mountain.

Why do contemporary political Arab spokespersons declare that the Temple was never on the Temple Mount? Politics! Unbelievable stories flow from Arab sources contending that Jewish people have no ancient connection to the site. Arab treatment of the Temple Mount excavations seek to hide the evidence.

All experts agree that great care should be exercised when excavating the Temple area. Trained archaeologists should be in charge. Skilled students of history should enhance our knowledge of Jewish, Muslim, and Christian history through new discoveries at this holy place. Special hand tools should be used to protect each sliver of the ancient world. Surgical precision is demanded in ancient excavations. Sand must be sifted, shards of clay dusted, and relics protectively guarded. But this is not the practice at the Arab-controlled portion of the Temple Mount! Instead, our holy mountain is being “excavated” with Arab bulldozers by Palestinian heavy equipment operators! Agenda-driven Arab leaders are attempting to erase Jewish history from the Temple Mount. In a futile effort to cover the past, historical artifacts are destroyed as Arabs bury the truth in an attempt to prop up false claims of ownership. It is a travesty.

Christians should raise an outcry. Someone must sound the alarm on the Temple Mount! Who will stop this destruction? Who will prohibit the erasure of religious history? Arab propagandists must stop destroying vestiges of ancient life from the site.

It is imperative that Christians recognize the evil intent behind this behavior. It is a classical revision of history. The Arab press shamelessly spews rhetoric declaring that even the Nazi Holocaust never happened! The magnitudes of the lies and actions of the liars are the reasons that this article was written. I thank every publisher who gives voice to these concerns. I pray this is read and comprehended. Further, I pray I can communicate with the potential friends of Israel who care about the truth. The writers of revisionist history have one horrible goal--the destruction of my people.

It is reassuring that the most vehement Arab activist cannot change the truth. In the 1930’s, their own Supreme Muslim Council declared the Temple Mount “beyond dispute” as the location of Solomon’s Temple! Notwithstanding recent Arab propaganda to the contrary, each of the three Jewish Temples was definitely located on this site. Nevertheless, in spite of the plethora of indisputable evidence, recent events prove the depths to which the Palestinian Authority will sink to manipulate the press.

The Temple Mount remains a major source of contention. Muslim Sheik Ikrema Sabri, the Mufti of Jerusalem declared that the entire Temple Mount area, including the Jewish Western Wall, must be under Islamic control.

Admittedly, Jewish leadership often exhibits similar unrealistic aspirations. Israel’s Chief Rabbinate Council seeks the same uncompromising control of the site. Prospects for political answers are not good. Reason and love have been left out of the equation by all sides. Protestants are often unclear about the issues. Jews are understandably unyielding about their most holy site. Muslims are unwilling to share control and access. Catholics tend to follow the lead of a pope who seems to have hidden his head in the sand on this issue. What is next?

Political intrigue and fearful rumors of war are signs of our times. Confusion reigns in most discussions about Jerusalem and the Temple Mount. Rarely has the subject been better explained than by Nobel Prize winner, Elie Wiesel. This famous Jewish author and well-known survivor of the Holocaust has boiled the confrontation down to a simple comparison. Quoted by the New York Times, Wiesel said, “Jerusalem is the third holiest city in Islam. But for the Jews, it remains the first. Not just the first; the only.”

Muslims have no legitimate spiritual claim to Jerusalem. It is not even mentioned in the Koran! Quoting Ariel Sharon, “The Koran doesn’t mention Jerusalem once. In the Bible it is mentioned six hundred and seventy-six times. Muhammed was never in Jerusalem. When the Muslims occupied Jerusalem, it was seven years after Muhammed’s death. They say he came here and went to Heaven. Yeah—seven years after he died.”

Israel’s leading archaeologist, Dan Bahat, was a recent guest on CrossTalk, the weekly TV show that I host. Professor Bahat explained the history of the Arab claim to the site. It is based on a myth developed very late in the history of the area. Without a shred of evidence and without any mention in the writings of their “prophet,” the Koran ignores Jerusalem. Instead, a mystical location is described as a place where Mohammed seemingly took a trip in a dream. It is often known as his famous “night visit.” In Sura 17 of the Koran, one obtuse mention is made about a distant site or a “further mosque.” This strange reference is the only “proof” that Muslims can claim as textual evidence to their demands.

The Temple Mount has obviously become a Muslim holy place in recent centuries. Haram-al-Sharif (the Noble Sanctuary) as it is called by Muslim faithful, was built on the site six centuries after the last Temple was destroyed. When praying for the peace of Jerusalem, pray that Muslim control is never granted over the Jewish capital or the Jewish people. It would mean disaster for the nation and my people.

Who should control the Temple Mount? Who should dictate the future of Jerusalem? The city of God has always been the center of Jewish hope and modern Jerusalem has flourished under Israeli direction. Jews have been good stewards of the property bequeathed by the Lord. Every visitor is amazed at how the city has developed, the nation has prospered, and the desert has bloomed. God is faithful! Christian pilgrims also have equal rights there.

How can control of the Temple Mount best be understood? I think the site belongs to God. He will do, as He desires. God tested Abraham by sending him there to Mount Moriah with Isaac. Many centuries later, God sent His angel to command David to buy the land. A thousand years after David, God sent His Son Jesus to the site. And finally, God prepared Jesus to be the final sacrifice on a nearby hill just outside the city.

This sets up a conundrum. If one believes that God has done these things, it begs the question, “Why did God permit a Muslim mosque to be built on the site of God’s Temple?”

Quite obviously, a Muslim scholar would answer differently. As a Jewish believer in Jesus, I believe that God allowed the construction of the Dome of the Rock as a judgment against this evil world. Soon, judgment will ripen into a full-fledged condemnation of the enemies of God.

The current conflict about our Temple Mount is a necessary piece in God’s endtime puzzle. Like moths to a flame, the glittering golden dome draws God’s enemies to the place where their flight will be halted. The proud will be humbled, the loud will be silenced, but the chosen of God will be saved. Never lose sight of the fact that someday, God will command the last trumpet to sound. When it does, His Son will return to this same holy city of God. Who will stand in that day? When God gathers His saints, will you be with Him?

Who will seek to control the ground shaking beneath their feet at the coming of the Lord? When every knee bows and every tongue confesses that Jesus is Lord, who will silence the praise? When every wicked imagination is laid bare for all to see, who will question ownership of a mountain?

Is it right for one religious group to dominate the Temple Mount to the exclusion of others? I think not. Rather, all should rejoice in the sanctity of this site. It is certainly worthy of a closer examination to understand the Temple Mount history.

Next month I will present an in depth explanation of that history and an interesting rabbinic legend about the Temple Mount. Did you realize there have been three attempts to rebuild the Temple since it was destroyed by Rome? Did you know that one foundation stone weighs more than 200,000 pounds? Did you ever hear the story about the two special horns of the ram caught in the thicket on this same Mount Moriah? I hope you will return next month to learn about this very special site in Israel. I would also be happy to send you this entire Temple Mount series as a special free gift.

Most urgent, if you are unsure about your faith in Jesus Christ, I would love to hear from you. Please write to me at CROSSTALK, P.O. Box 2528, Cedar Hill, Texas, 75106. My e-mail address is

In closing, I want to invite you to visit the Western Wall of our ancient Temple in Israel. Explore the tunnel, walk the mount, and experience Israel with me. May I send you a FREE brochure about our Fall 2001 Holy land tour? You are invited to join me on a unique journey of faith in Israel. If you have longed to visit Israel, our next tour is October 23-November 1, 2001. For more details, call 1-800-688-3422.

Copyright by Randy Weiss, Ph.D


Randy Weiss, Ph.D., is a Jewish believer in Jesus serving in ministry since 1973. He is a member of the Board of Directors of WME and a contributing editor to World Evangelism. He hosts CrossTalk, a weekly TV program and teaches about the Jewish festivals, Israel, and the Jewish origins of the Church. Dr. Weiss is Dean of Jewish Studies at Columbia Evangelical Seminary and an adjunct faculty member of Global University. Randy is married with 6 children and 3 grandchildren.

If you are interested in visiting Israel, join Randy on his upcoming Holy Land tour October 23, 2001. Call 1-800-688-3422 for a tour brochure. If you would like a FREE copy of this entire series about the Temple Mount, please contact Randy at CrossTalk, P.O. Box 2528, Cedar Hill, Texas 75106-2528. Send e-mail to him at Please send him your comments on this article and remember to pray for the ministry of Dr. Weiss.


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