TISHA B’AV AND SOVEREIGNTY ON THE TEMPLE MOUNT
The Hebrew day of great tragedies, Tisha b’Av, falls at sundown this Wednesday, July 29. In remembrance, the Knesset has turned its focus to the Temple Mount, dominated by the al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock. While the Temple Mount is Judaism’s holiest site, Jews are not permitted to worship on the mount itself for fear of inciting a riot by Muslims.
Tisha b’Av is simply Hebrew for the 9th day of the month of Av. Many disasters have befallen the Jews on this day throughout history. According to Jewish tradition, this was the day that God told the Children of Israel they were prohibited from entering the Promised Land because of disbelief. They were forced to wander in the desert forty more years until that adult generation had died out. That tragic day was just the beginning…
On the 9th of Av in:
- 586 BC, Solomon’s Temple was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar, and the Babylonian captivity began;
- AD 70, the Second Temple, which stood during Christ’s ministry, was destroyed by the Romans precisely as Jesus predicted in Luke 19;
- AD 135, the famous Bar Kokhba revolt was squelched when Bethar, the last Jewish stronghold, fell to the Romans;
- AD 136, the Roman Emperor Hadrian established a heathen temple to Jupiter on the site of the Jewish Temple. Hadrian rebuilt Jerusalem as a pagan city, and renamed the land as Palestina, to distance its Jewish heritage. The date when the Temple area was plowed under by the Romans was the 9th of Av.
The day has continued to be associated with grief for the Jewish people throughout history. For example, Pope Urban II declared the Crusades on the 9th of Av in 1242. The Jews were expelled from Spain in 1492 on this day, and in 1942, the Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto were mass deported to the Treblinka extermination camp in Poland. Thus the 9th of Av, Tisha B’Av, has become a symbol of all the persecutions and misfortunes of the Jewish people, for the loss of their national independence and their sufferings in exile. Above all, it is a day of intense mourning for the destruction of the Temple.
This week, Israel’s Knesset has taken a longing look once again toward the Temple Mount. Israel has technically controlled the site since the Six-Day War in 1967, but the Waqf, a Muslim council, manages the site. Israeli law is supposed to protect free access to the site, but the Israeli government enforces a ban on any non-Muslim prayer on the Temple Mount in order to avoid Muslim riots. The Knesset members took time this week to discuss the Temple Mount and the approach Israel should take on this holy site in today’s world.
In the first session, Dr. Mordechai Keidar commented on the lack of a Palestinian connection to the Temple Mount, saying:
“Jerusalem does not appear in the Koran, not even once, not even in any one of the four different names the city has in Arabic. The struggle for Jerusalem is not territorial, it’s theological. Is Judaism still a relevant religion, or do we give in to the Muslim claim that Judaism is no longer relevant? And that’s why we heard from PA official Saeb Erekat not long ago that they will not recognize the State of Israel as a Jewish state even in 1000 years. Why is this? Because Judaism in their eyes is irrelevant, so how could a Jewish state be founded?”
Keidar also noted that the Palestinians are not moderate on the issue of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, but claim it as their own. He held up a PLO traditional garment, which bore the words, “Jerusalem is ours.”
A Chabad rabbi who spoke argued that Israel would do well to lay a firm claim to sovereignty on the Temple Mount, believing that doing so would not harm Israel but would in fact win friends.”When you tell the nations of the world the truth, not only will they stop fighting against you, but they’ll even join forces with you,” he explained.
East Jerusalem and the Temple Mount have been points of major contention in past efforts to negotiate a two-state agreement. The Palestinians want East Jerusalem, and the Jews do not want to give up this location that is so precious to Judaism. The world would never expect the Muslims to hand over control of the Kaaba in Mecca in order to keep peace, but the Jews are not free to worship on their holiest site because they fear Muslim violence. Knesset members spoke out in favor of educating people about the importance of the Temple Mount to Judaism.
Tisha b’Av is indeed a day of mourning. It is marked with sadness and fasting from food and drink. Observant Jews avoid bathing or washing clothes or enjoying entertainment like music or movies, and the Book of Lamentations is traditionally read both in the evening and during the day. On this day the Jews are reminded of their tragic history.
Yet, this day is also expressly linked with Israel’s glorious destiny. The Jews also look forward to the ultimate rebuilding of the Temple, to a time when Tisha b’Av will become a day of joy and gladness (as it was foretold in Zechariah 8:19).
We do know that the Temple will be rebuilt because Jesus, John, and Paul all make reference to it. But we also know that this Temple will be desecrated by the Coming World Leader when he sets himself up to be worshiped. It is possible this prophetic event will also take place on Tisha b’Av – and may happen in the not-too-distant future.
• As Tisha B’Av Approaches, Knesset Focuses on the Temple Mount – Arutz Sheva
• Tisha B’Av: A tragic Day Throughout Jewish History – Jewish Ledger
• A Day Like Any Other? Tisha B’Av – Koinonia House
• The Coming Temple Update: MP3 Download – Koinonia House Store
• Pedigree of the Coming World Leader? The Genealogy of the Antichrist – Koinonia House