29. Jewish Temple, Mosque of ‘Umar, and 3rd Temple

At the return from the exile in Babylon, the Jews rebuilt the Temple of Solomon, according to the will of the Lord. It was dedicated in the year -515 before Jesus Christ.

Now Jesus (‘Issa) announced ahead of time the end of the Temple: “there will not be left here one stone upon another, that will not be thrown down” (Matthew 24, 2). Jesus destroys nothing, but, as Jeremiah had seen before him (Jer 7, 11-14), Jesus knows what the iniquity is which chases the divine presence from the Temple and consequently “destroys” the Temple, which will happen 40 years after he has said it.

Already Jesus (‘Issa) renders obsolete the signification of the Temple, for it is the place where God speaks, but ‘Issa is himself the Word emanating from God (Sura of Imran 3, 45). Besides, he says to the Judeans who quarreled about forbidden histories: “I tell you, something greater than the Temple is here” (Matthew 12, 6). The Temple was also the place of sacrifice, notably on the Day of Expiation (Yom Kippur). We have seen the signification of shed blood, which will finally be that of Jesus himself. At the moment when Jesus dies on the Cross, the veil of the Temple is torn (Mt 27, 57); what was a provisional and mysterious presence of God, the Sakinah of which the Koran speaks, left the Temple.

Effectively, the Temple was destroyed in the year 70, at the end of what has been called the “first Jewish war,” an irrational rebellion against the Romans. The second Jewish war was directed by Bar Kokhba who represented himself as a Messiah going to reestablish the Temple. He went as far as to crucify the hierarchy of the Church in Jerusalem, but the Romans expelled the Jews from Jerusalem and razed the city in the year 135. Later, the Jews started to rebuild the Temple with the help of Emperor Julian the Apostate, but in the year 363 an earthquake ruined their work and the following day a fire descended from heaven consuming the debris. The emperor died a month later in the Persian war.

The esplanade remained a field of ruins until the arrival of ‘Umar in the year 638. In fact, at the end of 637 the bishop Sophronius of Jerusalem had already convinced the defenders to open the city to the Arabs who, he had written in 634 “were boasting of dominating the entire world.” [1]. These were accompanied by Nazarean Jews, or “Judeonazareans” who started immediately to build… not what would later be called the “Mosque of ‘Umar” but a square building in the dimensions of the Temple. On his arrival to the place, ‘Umar proceeded to offer a sacrifice before this…Temple. Muḥammad (~) was dead, awaited was the redescent from Heaven of ‘Issa (Jesus), which he had strongly announced. But he did not redescend, and the Temple-cube was modified (there had been besides a great earthquake in 661); finally in its place or a few meters nearby, the Caliph ‘Abd-al-Malik constructed the octagon that is seen today and which is called erroneously the “Mosque of ‘Umar” (and called equally the “Dome of the Rock”).

Today the global movements centered on Jerusalem as capital of the world want to destroy the Dome of the Rock. They want to construct the “third Temple,” a project that seems to have the support of certain directors of the Arab world, especially Wahhabites. Christians do not at all approve. For them the new Temple is no longer in stone or in wood: Jesus had said: “"Destroy this Temple, and in three days I will raise it up." Now Jesus said this on the subject of the Temple of his body” (John 2, 19).


[1] SOPHRONUS OF JERUSALEM (550-639), Sermon sur la Theophanie (ou sur le saint Bapteme) 13-167,2.