The Temple Altar and the Dome of the Chain

Construction work in the Dome of the Chain on the Temple Mount gets attention from Arutz-7.

Muslim religious authorities are concluding a clandestine eight-month dig on the Temple Mount that is intended to erase traces of the Jewish Temple’s Altar, Temple activists charge.
The digs have been taking place under the Dome of the Chain, believed to have been built over 1300 years ago. For eight months, the dome – which has a diameter of 14 meters – has been surrounded by a metal fence and black cloth, which hide whatever activity has been going on there from outside inspection. The Muslim Waqf religious authority has claimed the activity is simply a refurbishing of the structure, but refuses adamantly to let Jews or tourists near.

The article includes a couple of additional brief paragraphs along with five photographs.  Several months ago a reader wrote to me about this activity and I replied with speculation that the work consisted of no more than the repair of tiles.  That seems to be confirmed by the photographs.  It’s unfortunate that the Muslims are so secretive, as such only contributes to the suspicion that they are damaging Jewish antiquities.  On the other hand, the charge that the Muslims’ intent is to erase traces of the Temple’s altar is not supported by evidence and seems intended to stir up animosity.

I have located my response mentioned above and am including a portion of it here:

Why was it necessary even to build the plastic construction for a 2nd time so that even the “half cm’s” openings would be closed?

They do the same thing on many Jewish excavations in Jerusalem.  Everyone is just so sensitive.  It doesn’t have to be a problem, just the thought of a problem.  Given the dust-up a couple of years ago with the digging of a trench for a water pipe, I’m not surprised they take every precaution, even if it’s just to replace a few tiles (which is what I bet it is).

Why aren’t we allowed to have a look at least?

Because you might be a biased journalist and write some half-cocked story.  No one is safe from journalists.

What is there to get angry about if I want to take a picture of an open door and a floor with tiles?

See above.

Are they digging under the Dome of the Rock?

Certainly not.  The Dome of the Rock is built on bedrock.  If they wanted to dig under the Dome, they’d do it from inside.  It’s possible they could be accessing some underground cavities (cisterns), but I’d really be surprised if they were doing more than superficial repairs.

How is it possible that Israel cannot go on with their openly work on the ramp to the Mughrabi gate outside the Temple compound, and nobody worries about  secret ‘works’ near the Rock itself? What are they ruining there that we are not allowed to see?

This question seems to suggest that you believe that Middle Eastern matters are treated fairly in the court of world opinion.  That’s as far from the truth as could be.  Why aren’t the Israelis doing something?  My guess is that the cost isn’t worth the gain.  Why cause a fuss over something relatively insignificant that you’re not going to win anyway?

Finally, Leen Ritmeyer explains why he believes that the altar was not located under the Dome of the Chain.  His illustrations will help you put it all together.

Dome of Rock, with Dome of Chain, mat03221

Dome of the Rock with smaller Dome of the Chain (left) in the 1930s (Source)

4 thoughts on “The Temple Altar and the Dome of the Chain

  1. Todd, thanks for your critique of the Arutz-7 story, and for providing a voice of sanity and balance in the face of this kind of fearmongering and agitation. Arutz-7 quotes unnamed "Temple activists" who offer no evidence whatsoever – nor does anybody – of any digging beneath the platform whatsoever, yet they headline the story: "Digging on Temple Mount 'to Erase Traces of Jewish Altar'". This sort of irresponsible, phantom, hit-and-run 'journalism', which is all too typical, ought to cast a permanent cloud over everything Arutz-7 puts out.

    TOM POWERS / Jerusalem

  2. Tom, you make it sound as if Arutz Sheva and others concerned about the Temple Mount have some sort of an hidden, evil agenda (e.g., "irresponsible, phantom, hit-and-run 'journalism"). If you would have dropped into the midst of Watergate, the reporting by the Washington Post would have been seen as "irresponsible, phantom, hit-and-run 'journalism" also, with their "Deep Throat" and others. It should not be any question of doubt for those who have been following the news regarding Israel over the years that the Muslim Waqf has been dumping tons of dirt, rock, and other diggings from the Temple Mount in a spot near the Mount for years, and it has been reported in other places besides A-7, such as the Jerusalem Post , Ha'aretz, and Ynet. In fact, there is an ongoing dig near the Temple Mount where Jewish where Prof. Gabriel Barkay of Bar Ilan University, archaeology student Zachi Zweig, and others has been engaged in a major sifting operation of the tons of debris that the Waqf has removed from the Mount . That article explains this ongoing destruction. They have found artifacts going back thousands of years. The Muslims have said many times that a Jewish Temple never existed and, using large excavation equipment to remove these materials, they are trying to make others believe it to be true.

    (As someone who gives their address as Jerusalem, I would think you would be able to see truth for yourself.)

    There are many pictures on the Web of the mass destruction being done to the Temple Mount. All you need to do is look, e.g., http://www.templeinstitute.org/altar-destruction.htm and http://www.wnd.com/?pageId=44149 and http://tinyurl.com/4t8fslv , as well of many others. Most of the discussion is regarding the ongoing mass destruction that the Waqf has been doing over the years, not just this one incident.

    It is well known that Islam usually always destroys the places of worship of any foreign nation when it takes possession of it; actually most religions have done that over time, Christianity included. In Israel it has been the Temple Mount, the Cave at Hebron, the tomb of Jacob, and others.

    And the reason why you have unnamed "Temple activists" is because if these people were named, they would not be allowed onto the Mount in order to gather evidence such as has been found. The government of Israel is afraid of the Muslims so they won't stop them, so someone must see what they are doing. Many of the known "Temple activists" are already not allowed on the Mount, why stop others from going up there? I personally know and work with some of the "Temple activists" and can assure you they have no agenda other then to bring the truth to the world about Islam's ongoing destruction of the Temple Mount.

    Also, just because one person thinks the altar or Holy place was in one place does not preclude others who might think it to be some place else.


  3. Thank you Dr Ritmeyer for addressing this article by T.B. as well as the comment by T.P.. I was very troubled by the original posting (and I respect Mr. Bolen very, very much), but the additional comment added was too much! Thanks for being blunt and to the point.
    Mike Harney, Fairbanks, Alaska

  4. >It is well known that Islam usually always destroys the places of worship of any foreign nation when it takes possession of it; actually most religions have done that over time,Christianity included.

    Very true, and also true for Judiasm. Look in the Old Testament and see all the shrines to Baal and Asherah that were destroyed, not to mention the Samaritan temple.

    That said, I certainly don't trust the Waqf to be careful with anything they might dig up.

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