Jerusalem–the holy city for the world’s three monotheistic religions. It evokes life-changing events for millions and history unparalleled for centuries with political, religious and archaeological claims to every holy square inch. To see it for the first time, perhaps standing on Mt. Scopus at sunset, is to have a moment forever etched in memory.
The city’s importance through the Byzantine period, in the 6th century CE, is tangibly seen in Madaba, Jordan. Here a mosaic map, created to show not just locations of sites, but their importance by size, reveals Jerusalem as the center of the world. As the photograph reveals, “The Holy City of Jerusalem” contained six gates and twenty one towers surrounded by city walls, all displayed in stunning mosaic that covers 15′ square feet of floor in the St. George Byzantine church.
Today, 3000 years later, the City of Jerusalem, working capital of the country of Israel since its founding, continues in daily news headlines as a center of political and religious controversy. Whether it is the potential relocation of the American Embassy to Jerusalem, or the response of Palestinians to sharing their beloved city with others, Jerusalem seems anything but the city of peace.
Bible Roads will be sharing four brief videos from a recent trip to Jerusalem, each one explaining a different facet of the city. This current vlog (video blog) highlights the Dome of the Rock, that iconic gold dome in virtually every city skyline photograph of this ancient capital city. It serves as a sacred destination for Jews since it is thought to be the rock on which Abraham started to sacrifice his son, Isaac. It also is thought to be the site where the holiest of holies was located for both the Temple Solomon built in the 9th century BCE, and the second Temple built after return from the Babylonian Exile in the 6th century BCE.
For Muslims, this site is a shrine — not a mosque–for those pilgrims who want to commemorate where Muhammad was supposed to have ascended, and was built in the 7th century CE.
The Dome of the Rock sits on what is known as The Temple Mount, which rises above the Kidron Valley and sits directly across from the Garden of Gethsemane. Following his night in the garden praying, Jesus was taken to the Temple Mount where the palace of Annas, the High Priest, was located. After his questioning, Jesus was transferred to the palace of Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea, nearby. As mentioned, every square inch: holy ground.