Jerusalem is in the news these days way out proportion to the size or economic significance of this relatively small city in the hills of the tiny nation of Israel. King David originally captured the small village from the Jebusites, a Canaanite tribe descended from Noah's son Ham. But, ever since David's day the "city of peace" has known turmoil, war, and bloodshed much of the time. Although Jews are now celebrating "Jerusalem 3000," in honor of David, David's progenitor Abraham came to Jerusalem 1000 years earlier. Abraham found a gentile ruler there who was both king and priest of El Elyon---"God Most High." Melchizedek---whose name means "king of righteousness"---was such an important figure that Abraham offered him tithes and considered him to be the superior, (Hebrews 7). Jewish legend even says that Adam was created in Jerusalem and some rabbis say the foundation stone of the Jewish Temples is the foundation upon which creation began. Evidently Jerusalem was a city chosen by God from the very beginning of time.
Most writers of our time will acknowledge that Jerusalem's prominence in the news has something to do with God, or at least the city is famous because of its association with the world's three monotheistic religions who trace their roots to Abraham---Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
In her outstanding book Jerusalem: One City, Three Faiths, (Alfred Knopf, New York, 1996) Karen Armstrong does not reveal to us the identity of the one true God, but she does relate eloquently, and with an even hand, the history and significance of Jerusalem for Christians, Moslems and Jews.
A hundred years ago there were no great world powers in the region. Oil had not been discovered in Arabia and Iran. Jerusalem was a small slumbering insignificant town and the land was considered practically worthless. Swiftly in the last half of our century Syria, Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Iran and the Emirates sprang into existence out of nowhere. Now the region is heavily populated and everyone is intent on a search for his or her ancient roots. An article in The Wall Street Journal, October 30, 1996 analyzes this amazing development:
JERUSALEM - For years, the main battle in the Middle East has, been over land. Now it is over the past. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu often cites Abraham's biblical connection to Hebron as one reason his government has determined to maintain a Jewish presence in the predominantly Muslim West Bank city. In response, the Palestinian Authority has begun promoting the notion that the Palestinians are the modern-day successors to the Canaanites, who lived there, long before Abraham ever showed up.
"This is no longer just a political dispute over who controls cities like Hebron or Jerusalem," says Marwan Abu-Khalaf, director of the Institute of Islamic Archaeology in Jerusalem. "Both the Israelis and Palestinians are determined to prove that their ancestors lived here first."
Whether it is Americans converging on Plymouth Rock or the British celebrating at the ruins of Stonehenge, the idea of connecting modern population to the symbols of the past is a common impulse. But in the Middle East, few of the region's modern states have existed much more than 70 years and most are the product of borders drawn up by colonial powers. The waning of pan-Arab nationalism, with its exclusive focus on the region's Arab past, has resulted in today's leaders increasingly looking for inspiration and roots in an even earlier time---to the ancient empires and peoples described in the Bible.
The frequent intertwining of the daily and. the divine is proving a volatile mix especially in a region with so many political conflicts.
Last week's gun battles between Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip that left more than 70 people dead reflect broad Palestinian frustration with stalled peace talks and the new Israeli government's hard-line policies. But the riots were touched off by an Israeli decision to open a new gate to a biblical underground tunnel that runs close to the Temple Mount area, a site considered holy to both Jews and Muslims.
Mr. Netanyahu said the tunnel offers contact with the rock of Jewish existence 2,000 years ago in Jerusalem. But Mr. Arafat said the move was part of a broader Israeli effort to "Judaize Jerusalem" at the expense of Muslim religious claims in the city.
Yesterday President Clinton announced he would hold a summit in Washington early this week between Israeli and Palestinian leaders. King Hussein of Jordan has agreed to attend Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has been invited.
The phenomenon isn't confined to Israelis and Palestinians alone. All across the region, says U.S. archaeological historian Neil Asher Silberman we are seeing People acting out modern political agendas decked out in historical period costume.
Take Syria's President Hafez Assad. He likes to seat foreign visitors in front of an ancient mosaic he had restored and installed in a reception room in his palace. The archaeological find portrays the 1187 battle when Salah al Din---who once ruled from his Imperial seat in ancient Syria---defeated the Christian armies of the Crusaders, forcing their retreat from the Holy Land. In speeches, Mr. Assad frequently cites the example of Salah al Din as support for the hard-line approach he has taken in his dealings with the Israelis, who he views as latter-day Crusaders.
At the height of his recent military confrontation with the U.S, over the Iraqi army's push into the northern Kurdish enclave, Saddam Hussein made sure his top brass showed up at this month's Babylon Festival. The annual celebration is part of the Iraqi leader's effort to portray himself as the modern-day successor of King Nebuchadnezzar whose biblical empire stretched from Kuwait to Israel. Saddam Hussein has used bricks stamped with his name and the seal of Iraq in the restoration of Nebuchadnezzar's ancient palace in Babylon, 60 miles south or Baghdad. He cited the claim that Nebuchadnezzar's father was an ancient tribal leader in what is now Kuwait as further justification for Iraq's 1991 invasion of that country.
"It's not that the Middle East's leaders are suddenly big believers in the Bible or avid readers of history books," says Efraim Karsh, a professor at King's College at the University of London and author of a political biography of Saddam Hussein. "The obsession with the past is geared toward reinforcing the modern foundations of power."
That is why it is no surprise that one of the first acts the Palestinian Authority took after setting up its self-ruling government in Jericho was the launching of an archaeological dig at the nearby Hisham's Palace, the ruins of a winter residence built in the eighth century for a caliph of the Omayyad Dynasty. The authority also began pushing for the return of archaeological artifacts found in the West Bank during the Israeli military occupation, including the 2000 year old Dead Sea scrolls. The issue is so sensitive that Israel and the authority decided to leave it for later negotiations, along with other volatile disputes such as the future of Jerusalem, and fate of Jewish settlements.
But archaeologists and biblical scholars say they are often amazed at the historical liberties taken by political leaders, who, disregard or sometimes rewrite ancient stories to suit current needs. In August, the Palestinian Authority held a ceremony in the ancient amphitheater of Sabatsia, a village near the West Bank city of Nablus. Young people recreated the pagan legend of Ba'al, the Canaanite god, as a narrator read aloud an ancient text designed to resonate with the modern political troubles of its audience: warnings about the Hebrew tribes led by Joshua that were then starting to conquer Canaan.
The ceremony itself had some scholarly holes, from the fact that Sabatsia was never a Canaanite city to the T-shirts worn by the ceremony participants that were decorated with a Philistine, rather than Canaanite, motif. But Mr. Abu Khalaf of the Islamic archaeology institute says those, insisting on rigorous academic standards are missing the point. Though scholars say it isn't likely that the Canaanites originated in Arabia, he argues that life in traditional Palestinian, villages today isn't much different than it was when the Canaanites lived here. It also doesn't bother him when Palestinians call Jesus Christ the first Palestinian. Jesus lived in Bethlehem, Mr. Abu Khalaf says, and Bethlehem's current inhabitants are Palestinians.
"This is about nation-building," he adds. "This is a way for us to say that, contrary to what the Israelis are trying to portray we were here too, we have a history here, all this is part of Palestinian culture.
Israeli efforts to make the Bible part of the political tug-of-war here are also on shaky historical ground. Israel Finkelstein, a professor of archaeology at Tel Aviv University, says there are virtually no archaeological clues as to any of Hebron's former inhabitants, let alone proof of Abraham's presence there outside of the biblical tale.
Bible scholar Jacob Milgrom argues that Israeli groups that make political claims to the West Bank based on the contention that it was once part of the biblical land of Israel should think again. The Old Testament describes three different sets of boundaries for the land of Israel the book of Prophets three more, and rabbinic authorities a seventh, he says. "The borders were always changing according to the particular historical circumstances," says Mr. Milgrom, a professor emeritus of biblical studies at the University of California in Berkeley.
The Jerusalem water tunnel provides an illustration of the dangers inherent in the current trend. Israeli novelist Meir Shalev says the religious claims about the tunnel, already exaggerated, could spin even further out of control. "I wouldn't be surprised if next we hear that Bathsheba used water from the tunnel to wash before King David or that Mohammed's horse drank water from that tunnel," he says. Mr. Shalev's novel inspired by the biblical story of Esau, the brother who gave away his birthright to his twin brother Jacob for some pottage, was a bestseller in Israel.
By trying to attach biblical significance to even the smallest archaeological find, an international political crisis is unfolding over what Mr. Shalev calls "an interesting hydrological project from the Second Temple period, the ancient equivalent of a municipal water tunnel."
Men Search for their Roots in History, but What is Truth?
The Wall Street Journal article seems to describe a situation where no one really cares who the real owner of Jerusalem might be, just as no one in our society is much interested in learning absolute and ultimate Truth. Indeed, modern man denies that there is any such thing as absolute truth.
In spite of the turmoil among world religions, political powers and ethnic group the real owner of the city---for whom it is indeed a special place, stands aloof for the moment unmoved by the machinations of men. Yahweh, the God of Israel promises, however, to step back into the picture, himself, personally.
For Zion's sake I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest, until her vindication goes forth as brightness, and her salvation as a burning torch. The nations shall see your vindication, and all the kings your glory; and you shall be called by a new name which the mouth of the LORD will give. You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the LORD, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God. You shall no more be termed Forsaken, and your land shall no more be termed Desolate; but you shall be called My delight is in her, and your land Married; for the LORD delights in you, and your land shall be married. For as a young man marries a virgin, so shall your sons marry you, and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you. Upon your walls, O Jerusalem, I have set watchmen; all the day and all the night they shall never be silent.
You who put the LORD in remembrance, take no rest, and give him no rest until he establishes Jerusalem and makes it a praise in the earth. The LORD has sworn by his right hand and by his mighty arm: "I will not again give your grain to be food for your enemies, and foreigners shall not drink your wine for which you have labored; but those who garner it shall eat it and praise the LORD, and those who gather it shall drink it in the courts of my sanctuary." Go through, go through the gates, prepare the way for the people; build up, build up the highway, clear it of stones, lift up an ensign over the peoples. Behold, the LORD has proclaimed to the end of the earth: Say to the daughter of Zion, "Behold, your salvation comes; behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him." And they shall be called The holy people, The redeemed of the LORD; and you shall be called Sought out, a city not forsaken. (Isaiah 62)
Jerusalem, a Crushing Weight
Quite a few Bible scholars (both Jewish and Christian) have lately taken note of the last two chapters of the Old Testament prophet Zechariah who wrote of God's final intervention in the affairs of Jerusalem:
An Oracle. The word of the LORD concerning Israel: Thus says the LORD, who stretched out the heavens and founded the earth and formed the spirit of man within him: "Lo, I am about to make Jerusalem a cup of reeling to all the peoples round about; it will be against Judah also in the siege against Jerusalem. On that day I will make Jerusalem a heavy stone for all the peoples; all who lift it shall grievously hurt themselves. And all the nations of the earth will come together against it..."
Behold, a day of the LORD is coming, when the spoil taken from you will be divided in the midst of you. For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city shall be taken and the houses plundered and the women ravished; half of the city shall go into exile, but the rest of the people shall not be cut off from the city. Then the LORD will go forth and fight against those nations as when he fights on a day of battle. On that day his feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives which lies before Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives shall be split in two from east to west by a very wide valley; so that one half of the Mount shall withdraw northward, and the other half southward. And the valley of my mountains shall be stopped up, for the valley of the mountains shall touch the side of it; and you shall flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah.
Then the LORD your God will come, and all the holy ones with him. On that day there shall be neither cold nor frost...And the LORD will become king over all the earth; on that day the LORD will be one and his name one...And this shall be the plague with which the LORD will smite all the peoples that wage war against Jerusalem: their flesh shall rot while they are still on their feet, their eyes shall rot in their sockets, and their tongues shall rot in their mouths...Then every one that survives of all the nations that have come against Jerusalem shall go up year after year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of booths...And on that day there shall be inscribed on the bells of the horses, "Holy to the LORD." And the pots in the house of the LORD shall be as the bowls before the altar; and every pot in Jerusalem and Judah shall be sacred to the LORD of hosts, so that all who sacrifice may come and take of them and boil the flesh of the sacrifice in them..."
Christians believe that the Returning King described by Zechariah will be Jesus Christ Himself. Devout Jews say this conqueror will be a Son of David---but someone other than Jesus. Christians and Jews are not always in agreement on many issues, especially concerning the identity of the coming Messiah. However the God of the Christian Scriptures is very clearly the God of the Tanach. He is the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and King David. Yahweh asserts claim not only to Jerusalem and the land of Israel, but also to the entire world. Christians are aware that their Scriptures were written by Jews and that Jesus---Yeshua---is also Jewish.
"Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD; and you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might."
"And when the LORD your God brings you [Israel] into the land which he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give you, with great and goodly cities, which you did not build, and houses full of all good things, which you did not fill, and cisterns hewn out, which you did not hew, and vineyards and olive trees, which you did not plant, and when you eat and are full, then take heed lest you forget the LORD, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall fear the LORD your God; you shall serve him, and swear by his name. You shall not go after other gods, of the gods of the peoples who are round about you; for the LORD your God in the midst of you is a jealous God; lest the anger of the LORD your God be kindled against you, and he destroy you from off the face of the earth." (Deuteronomy 6:4,5 10-15)
According to the Apostle Paul, gentile followers of Jesus are but "wild olive branches grafted into the true olive tree" of the faith of Abraham (Romans 11:17). This does not make God a Racist, because Jesus died for the sins of all mankind and because He lives today (having been raised from the dead) inviting all men to come to Him as the Savior of all mankind.
...The word is near you, on your lips and in your heart (that is, the word of faith which we preach); because, if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For man believes with his heart and so is justified, and he confesses with his lips and so is saved. The scripture says, "No one who believes in him will be put to shame." For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and bestows his riches upon all who call upon him. For, "every one who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved." (Romans 10:8-13, with quotes from Deuteronomy 30:14, Isaiah 28:16, 49:23, and Joel 2:32.)
Refering to Yahweh as Israel's legitimate owner and Himself as Yahweh's legitimate representative, Jesus taught many parables concerning His next visit to His land. From a Christian point of view, His return is seen to be a very violent event for all who have ignored and rejected Him as earth's legal King.
And Jesus began to tell the people this parable: "A man planted a vineyard, and let it out to tenants, and went into another country for a long while. When the time came, he sent a servant to the tenants, that they should give him some of the fruit of the vineyard; but the tenants beat him, and sent him away empty-handed. And he sent another servant; him also they beat and treated shamefully, and sent him away empty-handed. And he sent yet a third; this one they wounded and cast out. Then the owner of the vineyard said, `What shall I do? I will send my beloved son; it may be they will respect him.' But when the tenants saw him, they said to themselves, `This is the heir; let us kill him, that the inheritance may be ours.' And they cast him out of the vineyard and killed him. What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? He will come and destroy those tenants, and give the vineyard to others." When they heard this, they said, "God forbid!" But he looked at them and said, "What then is this that is written: `The very stone which the builders rejected has become the head of the corner'? Every one who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces; but when it falls on any one it will crush him." (Luke 20:9-18).
The quote Jesus used, by the way, is from Psalm 118 where the language is similar to that found in Daniel's great prophecy of the progression of world history since Babylon ruled the world (Daniel 2). The prophet saw the true Jewish Messiah as a smiting stone who would crush the empires of the world and set up His own kingdom at the close of the present age of history, called in Scripture "the times of the gentiles" (Luke 21:24).
Yahweh vs. Allah
The Arabic word "Allah" is taken by the Moslems to be the name of the one true God. If this were true then we would expect the Koran to be consistent with the Bible. The characteristics of Allah as a Person as gleaned from the Quran should match the attributes of Yahweh, the covenant-making God of Israel. In fact there are many differences between Islam and the common traditions and central beliefs of Judaism and Christianity (See A Short Summary of Islamic Beliefs and Eschatology).
In his excellent book, Judaism in Islam Prof. Abraham I. Katsh, (Sepher-Herrmon Press, NY, 1980), presents a detailed comparison of many verses in the Quran compared with similar passages in the Hebrew Bible.
For example the Islamic Shahadah is evidently the equivalent of the Hebrew Shema', "Hear O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is One." (Deut. 6:4) The Shema' comes from the hand of Moses about 1400 BC.
In the Koran, Sura II, verse 256 says, "God, there is no God but He, the living the self-subsistent..." This verse appears to be parallel to Isaiah 45:5-8, (written c700 BC): " I am the LORD, and there is no other, besides me there is no God; I gird you, though you do not know me, that men may know, from the rising of the sun and from the west, that there is none besides me; I am the LORD, and there is no other. I form light and create darkness, I make weal and create woe, I am the LORD, who do all these things. "
Prof. Katsh gives many other examples from the Quran to show how Muhammad sincerely believed at the time he lived that he was representing, and speaking for, the same God as depicted in the Bible.
However, Allah is a late-comer in the affairs of Jerusalem, Yahweh was there much earlier. Yahweh, the God of Israel, makes many assertions that He alone is the only true God:
"For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods. For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; he is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the peoples are idols; but the LORD made the heavens." (Psalm 96:3-5)
Psalm 82 is a favorite of both Christians and Jews,
"God [Elohim, as in Genesis 1] has taken his place in the divine council; in the midst of the gods he holds judgment: 'How long will you judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked? Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.' They [other gods] have neither knowledge nor understanding, they walk about in darkness; all the foundations of the earth are shaken. I say, 'You are gods, sons of the Most High, all of you; nevertheless, you shall die like men, and fall like any prince.' Arise, O God, judge the earth; for to thee belong all the nations!"
The God of Israel is the God of all Peoples
The Temple Mount and its ownership is not merely a Jewish issue which draws some interest and support from Christians because of the Temple Mount was important in the life of Jesus and was the site where the church came into existence on the Day of Pentecost. (Acts 2). Isaiah the prophet wrote of the end of the time period in which we are now living:
It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain [government of the earth by Yahweh] of the house of the LORD shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be raised above the hills; and all the nations shall flow to it, and many peoples [the nations] shall come, and say: "Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths." For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
He [Messiah] shall judge between the nations, and shall decide for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the LORD. For thou hast [temporarily] rejected thy people, the house of Jacob, because they are full of diviners from the east and of soothsayers like the Philistines, and they strike hands with foreigners. Their land is filled with silver and gold, and there is no end to their treasures; their land is filled with horses, and there is no end to their chariots. Their land is filled with idols; they bow down to the work of their hands, to what their own fingers have made. So man is humbled, and men are brought low-- forgive them not! Enter into the rock, and hide in the dust from before the terror of the LORD, and from the glory of his majesty. The haughty looks of man shall be brought low, and the pride of men shall be humbled; and the LORD alone will be exalted in that day.
For the LORD of hosts [Yahweh Sabaoth] has a day against all that is proud and lofty, against all that is lifted up and high; against all the cedars of Lebanon, lofty and lifted up; and against all the oaks of Bashan; against all the high mountains, and against all the lofty hills; against every high tower, and against every fortified wall; against all the ships of Tarshish, and against all the beautiful craft. And the haughtiness of man shall be humbled, and the pride of men shall be brought low; and the LORD alone will be exalted in that day. And the idols shall utterly pass away. And men shall enter the caves of the rocks and the holes of the ground, from before the terror of the LORD, and from the glory of his majesty, when he rises to terrify the earth. In that day men will cast forth their idols of silver and their idols of gold, which they made for themselves to worship, to the moles and to the bats, to enter the caverns of the rocks and the clefts of the cliffs, from before the terror of the LORD, and from the glory of his majesty, when he rises to terrify the earth. Turn away from man in whose nostrils is breath, for of what account is he?
The Third Temple which is now being planned for the Temple Mount, the temple mentioned three times in the New Testament as being in existence at the time Jesus Christ returns to earth, is clearly a temple intended not just for Jews, but for all peoples,
"...for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples." (Isaiah 56:7b)
Why do the Nations Rage?
Not only are Allah and Yahweh in conflict over the ownership of Jerusalem, the pagan gods of all the nations (the "gods" of the goyim---who are no gods) are arrayed against the true and living God as well. The intensity of this conflict against Yahweh is escalating rapidly in our day. It is the kings of the earth, empowered by their own ambitions and goals, who will ultimately come to Jerusalem in war. They will openly oppose both God and the Anointed King whom Yahweh has already set upon a throne in Zion. Few will admit today that by their apathy and indifference to God, they are acting out their enmity and hatred of God. But in the days which lie ahead anarchy against the true Lord of the universe will come out of hiding and into the open. Men will dare to openly fight against God!
Though Jerusalem has been overrun at least 18 times by foreign armies, the great invasion described by Zechariah---most likely it will be World War III---has not yet occurred. It will come at the end of the age in which we now live, probably very soon in history. Meanwhile the Second Psalm of David sums up the conflict of the ages over Jerusalem---and God's final solution:
Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?
The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together,
against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying,
"Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us."
He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the LORD shall have them in derision.
Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure.
Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.
I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, "Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.
Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance,
and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.
Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel."
Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth.
Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.
Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little.
Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.
The King James Version is familiar to many because the text is used in a well-known chorus in Handel's Messiah. The Revised Standard Version is quite similar,
Why do the nations conspire, and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together,
against the LORD and his anointed, saying,
"Let us burst their bonds asunder, and cast their cords from us."
He who sits in the heavens laughs; the LORD has them in derision.
Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying,
"I have set my king on Zion, my holy hill."
I will tell of the decree of the LORD: He said to me, "You are my son, today I have begotten you.
Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession.
You shall break them with a rod of iron, and dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel."
Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear, with trembling,
kiss his feet, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way; for his
wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.
Theologian R.C. Sproul takes special note of this Psalm as a statement of God's invisible hand behind and over all governments in the world,
In the eighteenth century the concept of separation of church and state meant one thing; today it is understood in radically different terms. Originally the concept pointed to a clear division of labor between two institutions and guarded the borders between the two. Today a not-so-subtle shift has occurred, and now the idea of separation of church and state has come to mean the separation of state and God. The state wishes to be autonomous, not answerable or accountable to God. In a word, the government has declared its independence from God.
This is nothing new in history. In the Middle Ages monarchs sanctioned their rule by appealing to the theory of the divine right of kings. Usually coronation was done by the church. In England the monarch was and still is given the title Defensor Fide or "Defender of the Faith." But there were few kings who voluntarily submitted to the authority of God. Even in theocratic Israel it was the kings who, more often than not, were leaders in godlessness.
The common resistance of earthly rulers to the reign of God over them may be seen in the sentiments of Psalm 2...
The psalm reflects a conspiracy among the kings of this world. They hold a summit meeting in which they declare their independence from God. They hold a joint council of war and aim the sum of their military might toward heaven. The response of God is holy laughter. The arsenal of human weapons is viewed as mere popguns by the Almighty.
God's derisive laughter quickly turns to wrath as He warns against the rejection of His rule and that of His anointed. He rebukes the kings for their folly, warning them that He will break them with a rod of iron. They are called to rule, not with the arrogance of pretended autonomy, but with fear and trembling. The fear and trembling are to be motivated by an awareness that their authority is a delegated authority. It is extrinsic, not intrinsic. All authority on heaven and earth has been given by the Father to the Son. Every lesser authority is subject to Him.
In one sense we say that America is not a theocracy. It differs in its legal structure and framework from Old Testament Israel. Our government is secular in nature. But this is only a matter of degree. All human government is theocratic in the sense that God is the ultimate ruler over all. Our political leaders may not be theocratically organized at the human level, but in terms of Providence they are all inescapably theocratic.
The government of God is part of His work of upholding, or sustaining, His creation.... (The Invisible Hand: Do All Things Really Work for Good? by R.C. Sproul, Word Publishing, Dallas, TX 1996)
In his commentary on the book of Revelation, the last book of the Christian Scriptures, God's Final Word, Ray C. Stedman notes that the themes of the Second Psalm are woven throughout the Book of the Revelation. The Hebrew title of this Psalm does not attribute it to King David, but Acts 4:25 does. Acts 13:33 says this Psalm is "the second Psalm". Psalm 2 is often quoted in the New Testament.
God has already set in place His King in Jerusalem, on Mt. Zion and in the days to come He who always ruled over all the affairs of men on earth will at last reign directly over us from Jerusalem answering the ancient prayer Jesus taught His disciples, "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done one earth as it is in heaven."
A False Peace Before the Real Thing
Before the true Messiah comes to establish lasting peace the Bible says that a false peace will come to pass in the region---known as Israel's "covenant with death" (see Isaiah 28). Through the efforts of a great political and military leader of the Western world working in cooperation with a false messiah in Israel, a division of land in Israel between Jews and Arabs will bring out a what everyone believes will be successful end to current tensions and violence, (Daniel 11:29). This peace treaty will, however, suddenly fall apart---and a terrible last war will break out in Israel. The entire world will be affected and the very survival of the human race will be in doubt (Matthew 22:24). (For details, an excellent reference is Ray Stedman's study on The Olivet Discourse of Jesus).
The hope of the world does not lie in the efforts of men to bring about an artificial peace. Human hearts and human nature must be changed and this is the task of Jesus, the Prince of Peace. Peacemakers are to be highly valued in any age and in any situation of course, (Matthew 5:9)---but real peacemakers must reconcile men to God before they can reconcile one man to another.
The latter chapters of Isaiah are full of information on the relationship between the God of Israel and His Servant the Messiah. In Chapter 43 it is Israel who stands in the place of final authority as appointed authority over the nations. In Chapter 42 it is the person of Yahweh's Messiah:
Behold my servant [Messiah], whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him, he will bring forth justice to the nations. He will not cry or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street; a bruised reed he will not break, and a dimly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice. He will not fail or be discouraged till he has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands wait for his law.
Thus says God, the LORD, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread forth the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath to the people upon it and spirit to those who walk in it: "I am the LORD, I have called you in righteousness, I have taken you by the hand and kept you; I have given you as a covenant to the people, a light to the nations, to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness. I am the LORD, that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to graven images. Behold, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare; before they spring forth I tell you of them."
Sing to the LORD a new song, his praise from the end of the earth! Let the sea roar and all that fills it, the coastlands and their inhabitants. Let the desert and its cities lift up their voice, the villages that Kedar inhabits; let the inhabitants of Sela sing for joy, let them shout from the top of the mountains. Let them give glory to the LORD, and declare his praise in the coastlands. The LORD goes forth like a mighty man, like a man of war he stirs up his fury; he cries out, he shouts aloud, he shows himself mighty against his foes. For a long time I have held my peace, I have kept still and restrained myself; now I will cry out like a woman in travail, I will gasp and pant. I will lay waste mountains and hills, and dry up all their herbage; I will turn the rivers into islands, and dry up the pools. And I will lead the blind in a way that they know not, in paths that they have not known I will guide them. I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground. These are the things I will do, and I will not forsake them. They shall be turned back and utterly put to shame, who trust in graven images, who say to molten images, "You are our gods." Hear, you deaf; and look, you blind, that you may see!...
The second Psalm assures us that the Coming King of Kings, appointed by the God of Israel, will rule the nations "with a rod of iron." His kingdom will come in power and real authority. He is the only legitimate of the one true God who is over all the world. An ancient plainsong expresses the longing of God's people from all nations for Messiah to come to us at last:
O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here,
Until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice, rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel!
O come, Thou Rod of Jesse,
free Thine own from Satan's tyranny
From depths of hell Thy people save
And give them victory o'er the grave.
O come, Thou Dayspring, come and cheer
Our spirits by thine advent here.
And drive away the shades of night
And pierce the clouds and bring us light.
O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.
Addendum A: Legal Analysis regardging the Ownership of Jersualem
YERUSHALIYIM, D.C. (David's Capital), Yom Shlishi (Third Day -- "Tuesday"), 18 Tishrei, 5761 (Gregorian Date: October 17, 2000) (Hijri Date: 19 Rajab, 1421), Root & Branch: The concept of giving sovereignty over Jerusalem to G-d is indeed very interesting from the legal point of view. It is the first probably time since the Middle Age that reference in modern International Law is made to G-d and the results are indeed astonishing.
Non-believers are certainly uneasy with such a strange idea since how could sovereignty belong to someone who does not exist? Pantheists must be puzzled. For Polytheists the earthly conflict is not solved but transposed to a higher degree in heavens: the fight for sovereignty over Jerusalem will continue between the various gods.
Scholars and lawyers accustomed to analyze legal questions "rationally" are at loss. The attributes, legal personality and powers of the Almighty have no relevant legal doctrine or precedent, except in monotheistic religions.
For European statesmen, any agreed compromise is acceptable as long as their interests are not prejudiced. To confer sovereignty to G-d serves their interest: all humans, being G-d's children, have a direct line to Jerusalem. Consequently, Jerusalem has not only become international but supranational.
Leaders supposed to be aware of the consequences of their acts such as Clinton, Mubarak, Ehud Olmert, propose that sovereignty should be given to G-d. So did the late King Hussein, according to Avraham Burg, Speaker of the Knesset. They all believe in their respective manner in the existence of one Creator, as do most Jews, Arabs, Protestants and Catholics.
Giving back sovereignty to G-d is these days becoming a serious issue. This concept deserves to be "explored" as M.K. Burg personally suggested before the European Parliament.
Scholars of International Law accept that "natural law" derived from divine law.
"Modern International Law originated in the early Middle Ages when the influence of the Catholic Church was predominant in Europe...prohibition to wage wars on certain days of the week -- God's Truce and their incidence, prohibition of attacking clerics, merchants, women and certain other groups, God's Peace" were taken seriously at that time.
"The pope was at the beginning claiming universal sovereignty...The Christian concept of International Law took over from Greek and Roman antiquity the idea of a divine eternal law reflected in man's consciousness as natural law..." [Manual of the Terminology of Public International Law (Peace) and International Organizations by Dr. I. Paenson, Bruylant, 1983, p. 18]
According to this theory the Almighty's sovereignty over Jerusalem should not raise difficulties.
Who is sovereign in International Law? According to English Jurist J. Austin (1789-1859), a sovereign is: "a determinate individual or body of individuals, owing no allegiance to any body laying down the law, i.e. a command which obliges to follow a rule of conduct which is obeyed by determinate inferior beings, on pain of sanctions".
This earthly legal criteria does not seem to be applicable since G-d cannot be reduced to an individual or body of individuals. When the parties involved in the negotiations on Jerusalem confer sovereignty to the Almighty, they should take into account that G-d's rules become thereby applicable. The Bible, the Greek ("New") Testament and the Qur'an contain rules of conduct as well as sanctions to be applied. The Creator being eternal, the laws given are considered eternal.
The Bible is very meticulous. Certain laws contained therein are difficult to comprehend while others are beyond human understanding. The experience of scholars of Jewish Law for 3,500 years should be helpful to understand the applicable rules.
G-d commanded us to appoint (human) judges to apply these laws. But should the appointed judges in Jerusalem apply Jewish Law only? What about Catholic Canon Law or the Islamic Shari'a?
The Catholic Church considers that it has a representative of G-d and Jesus ("Christ") on earth who may enact rules and sanctions. This representative is the Pope. Consequently sovereignty, if given to G-d, is to be exercised by the Pope and he will apply Catholic Canon Law.
The only sources available are the holy scriptures of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
I am not convinced that Chairman Abdul Rauf el-Chodbi el-Husseini ("Yasser Arafat") would be willing to apply the following verses from the Qur'an: Surah 45:16 and Surah 7:137 (please see below).
Here are some excerpts from the Bible, the Greek Testament and the Qur'an, in chronological order:
"For the love of Zion, I shall not keep silent, for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest until her vindication go forth as brightness and its liberation as a burning torch". [Isaiah 62: 1]
"Break forth into joy, sing together, you waste places of Jerusalem, for the Lord has comforted his people, he has redeemed Jerusalem". [Isaiah 52: 9]
"And the Lord thy God will bring you back into the land which your fathers possessed, and you shall possess it; and will do you good and multiply you above your fathers". [Deuteronomy 30: 5]
"...the nations will know that I am the Lord....And I shall take you from among the nations, I shall gather you from all countries and shall bring you back on your own land....I shall put within you My spirit and I shall cause you to follow my statutes and keep my laws". [Ezekiel 36: 23-27) (emphasis added)
From these excerpts it clearly appears that, for Jews, Jewish Law (Halacha), and not limited to Jerusalem, is applicable.
THE GREEK TESTAMENT:
"Think not that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfill them" [Matthew 5: 17]
"For truly, I say it to you, till heaven and earth will pass away, not an iota, not a dot will be erased from the Law (of Moses), until all is accomplished". [Matthew 5: 18]
"Whoever then suppresses one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the Kingdom of Heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven". [Matthew 5:19]
Consequently the law of Moses should apply in Jerusalem.
"We chose them (Children of Israel) on the basis of knowledge, above the worlds; and gave them such signs as constituted an experience manifest" [Surah 44:32-33]
"We bestowed upon the Children of Israel the Book, the Jurisdiction and the Prophethood; We provided them with good things and gave them precedence over the worlds" [Surah 45:16] (emphasis added)
In addition to the extent of G-d's delegation of power to the "Children of Israel" does the Koran underline the boundary of the Land ? Surprisingly the answer is positive:
"And We caused the people (Jews) who had been oppressed to inherit the east and west of the (Holy) land on which We had bestowed blessing; the good word of the Lord was fulfilled upon the Children of Israel for their patience..." [Surah 7:137]
"O, my people, enter the Holy land which Allah hath written down as yours and turn not back, to your rearward so as to be rendered losers". [Surah 5:21]
"There after We said to the Children of Israel: 'Dwell in the land, and when the promise of the Hereafter comes, We shall bring you all in a group" [Surah 17:104]
The intention of those who proposed to confer sovereignty to G-d, was to make sure that no earthly power exercise sovereignty exclusively over Jerusalem. If they are not ready to accept the implications, i.e. to apply the law of the sovereign, it would be more appropriate to state that no one will have sovereignty over Jerusalem. A sovereign whose law is inapplicable is not a sovereign.
This being said, form a legal point of view, giving sovereignty to G-d is, surprisingly, possible. All three monotheistic religions have G-d's commandments written in their respective scriptures. Some believe that G-d's sovereignty will apply anyway sooner or later.
Assuming for an instant that giving sovereignty over Jerusalem to the Almighty implies intrinsically the application of His laws, then the first question is whether Muslims and Christians are ready to accept that only the "Children of Israel" have jurisdiction. In this case, the political conflict would become an inter-religious conflict.
Shalom from Yerushaliyim,
Dr. Michel A. Calvo, Attorney
Addendum B: The Sanctity of Jerusalem to the Jewish People
An Address by SHAYKH PROF. ABDUL HADI PALAZZI
Any discussion of the problem of sovereignty over Jerusalem necessarily means involvement in a kind of investigation that has political, cultural, psychological and religious implications.
For a Jew or a Muslim, religious or secular, thinking of Jerusalem means to feel reason and sentiment mingled together.
In this paper I do not want to enter into specific features directly connected with politics but, as a Muslim scholar and a man of religion, only to try and determine whether, from an Islamic point of view, there is some well-grounded theological reason that makes it impossible for Muslims to accept the idea of recognizing Jerusalem both as an Islamic holy place and as the capital of the State of Israel.
First, I would like to underline that the idea of considering Jewish immigration to Eretz Israel as a western "invasion" and Zionists as new "colonizers" is very recent and has no relation to the basic features of Islamic faith.
According to the Qur'an, no person, people or religious community can claim a permanent right of possession over a certain territory, since the earth belongs exclusively to God, Who is free to entrust sovereign right to everyone He likes and for as long as He likes:
"Say: 'O God, King of the kingdom, Thou givest the kingdom to whom Thou pleasest, and Thou strippest off the kingdom from whom Thou pleasest; Thou endurest with honour whom Thou pleasest, and Thou bringest low whom Thou pleasest; all the best is in Thy hand. Verily, Thou hast power over all things". [Qur'an, Sura 3:26, "The Imrans"]
From this verse one can deduce a basic principle of the monotheistic philosophy of history: God can choose as He likes as to relationships between peoples and countries; sometimes He gives a land to a people, and sometime He takes His possession back and gives it to another people.
In general terms, one might say that He gives as a reward for obedience and takes back as a punishment for wickedness, but this rule does not permit us to say that God's ways are always plain and clear to our understanding.
The idea of Islam as a factor that prevents Arabs from recognizing any sovereign right of Jews over Palestine is quite recent and can by no means be found in Islamic classical sources. To see anti-Zionism as a direct consequence of Islam is a form of explicit misunderstanding which implies the transformation of Islam from a religion into a secularized ideology.
This was originally done by the late Mufti of Jerusalem, Amin al-Husseini, who was responsible for most of the Arab defeats and during World War II collaborated with Adolf Hitler.
Later, Jamal el-Din Abd el-Nasser based his policy on Pan-Arabism, hate for the Jews and alliance with the Soviet Union. All these doctrines were the real cause of Arab backwardness, and most of Nasser's mistakes were afterwards corrected by the martyr Anwar Sadat.
After the defeat of Nasserism, the fundamentalist movements made anti-Zionism an outstanding part of their propaganda, trying to describe the so-called "fight for liberation of Palestine" as rooted in Islamic tradition and derived from religious principles.
This plan for the ideologization of Islam as an instrument of political struggle nevertheless encounters a significant obstacle, since both Qur'an and Torah indicate quite clearly that the link between the Children of Israel and the Land of Canaan does not depend on any kind of colonization project but directly on the will of God Almighty.
As we learn from Jewish and Islamic Scriptures, God, through His chosen servant Moses, decided to free the offspring of Jacob from slavery in Egypt and to make them the inheritors of the Promised Land. Whoever claims that Jewish sovereignty over Palestine is something recent and dependent on political machinations is in fact denying the history of revelation and prophecy, as well as the clear teaching of the Holy Books.
The Qur'an cites the exact words in which Moses ordered the Israelites to conquer the Land:
"And [remember] when Moses said to his people: 'O my people, call in remembrance the favour of God unto you, when he produced prophets among you, made you kings, and gave to you what He had not given to any other among the people. O my people, enter the Holy Land which God has assigned unto you, and turn not back ignominiously, for then will ye be overthrown, to your own ruin". [Qur'an, Sura 5:22-23, "The Table"]
Moreoever -- and fundamentalists always forget this point -- the Holy Qur'an quite openly refers to the reinstatement of the Jews in the Land before the Last Judgment, where it says:
"And thereafter We said to the Children of Israel: 'Dwell securely in the Promised Land'. And when the last warning will come to pass, We will gather you together in a mingled crowd". [Qur'an, Sura 17:104, "The Night Journey"]
The most common argument against Islamic acknowledgement of Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem is that, since al-Quds is a holy place for Muslims, they cannot accept its being ruled by non-Muslims, because such acceptance would be a betrayal of Islam.
Before expressing our point of view about this question, we must reflect upon the reason that Jerusalem and the al-Aqsa Mosque hold such a sacred position in Islam. As everyone knows, the definition of Jerusalem as an Islamic holy place depends on al-Mi'raj, the Ascension of the Prophet Muhammad to heaven, which began from the Holy Rock.
While remembering this, we must admit that there is no real link between al-Mi'raj and sovereign rights over Jerusalem, since when al-Mi'raj took place the City was not under Islamic, but under Byzantine administration. Moreover, the Qur'an expressly recognizes that Jerusalem plays the same role for Jews that Mecca has for Muslims.
"...They would not follow thy direction of prayer (qibla), nor art thou to follow their direction of prayer; nor indeed will they follow each other's direction of prayer..." [Qur'an, Sura 2:145, "The Cow"]
All Qur'anic commentators explain that "thy qibla" is obviously the Kaba of Mecca, while "their qibla" refers to the Temple Area in Jerusalem.
To quote just one of the most important of them, we read in Qadi Baydawi's Commentary:
"Verily, in their prayers Jews orient themselves toward the Rock (sakhrah), while Christians orientated themselves eastwards..." [M. Shaykh Zadeh, "Hashiyya ala tafsir al-Qadi al-Baydawi", Istanbul, 1979]
As opposed to what "Islamic" fundamentalists continuously claim, the Book of Islam -- as we have just now seen -- recognizes Jerusalem as the Jewish direction of prayer. Some Muslim exegetes also quote the Book of Daniel as proof of this (Daniel 6:10).
After exhibiting the most relevant Qur'anic passages in this connection, one easily concludes that, as no one wishes to deny Muslims complete sovereignty over Mecca, from an Islamic point of view there is no sound theological reason to deny the Jews the same right over Jerusalem.
If we consider ourselves as religious men, we must necessarily include justice among our qualities. As regards the argument, we have to admit that the same idea of justice requires that we treat Jews, Christians and Muslims equally. No community can demand for itself privileges that it is not ready to recognize to others.
We know that Roman Catholics consider Rome their own capital, and the fact that city has the largest mosque in Europe and an ancient Jewish community does not alter its role as the center of Catholicism.
Even more can be said of Mecca: it is the main religious center for Muslims the world over and is completely under Islamic administration.
Respecting this principle of fair-mindedness, we necessarily conclude that the Israelis as a nation and the Jews as a religion must have their own political and ethnic capital, under their sole administration, even though it contains certain places regarded as sacred by the other two Abrahamic faiths.
To my mind, this is the only realistic ground for any discussion of the future of the Holy City. The other parties must understand that Jews will never agree to have less rights than the other religions, and that Israelis will never agree to see David's City divided into two parts.
If everyone was happy to see the Berlin Wall destroyed, it was because the very idea of forced separation within a single city is something offensive to human sensitivity. We cannot even think of creating another Berlin in the heart of the Middle East.
Of course, the idea of "two Jerusalems", if ever realized, will by no means be a solution, but a source of new troubles and conflicts.
It is quite clear that the future of Jerusalem must depend on a general agreement, and in our opinion the only reliable partners for Israel seem to be the Holy See and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. They must understand that Israelis will never agree even to discuss the possibility of dividing their capital and spiritual center, while Israel must grant them considerable autonomy in the administration of their respective Holy Places.
Those who speak of Jerusalem as the future capital of "two different states" know very well that this kind of proposal has no basis in reality. It is time to suggest imaginative solutions, to become involved in a global project for the development of the Middle East as a whole, so that peaceful coexistence with Israel can make a real contribution to overcoming the backwardness of most of the Islamic countries.
The administration of the Holy Places in Jerusalem is a quite complicated issue, and it is not possible here to enter into details.
We would nevertheless like to mention something that appears unbearable for any person of religious consciousness: the fact that at present the Islamic administration of bayt al-maqdis permits Jews to visit the Temple Mount, but not to pray there.
There are special officials in the area whose task is to ensure that Jewish visitors on the Temple Mount are not moving their lips in prayer. To my mind, this is clearly opposed to Islamic prescriptions and rules.
We have seen that the Holy Qur'an declares the Rock a qibla for Jews; how, then, is it possible that -- in the name of Islam -- someone dares to forbid Jews to pray in the place that God has appointed as their qibla?
This is a clear example of a case in which pseudo-religious principles may work against the real spirit of religion.
Moreover, we must ask: is it possible for someone who believes in God to forbid another human to pray? What kind of religion can let us interfere in the relationship between the Creator and His creature?
On this point the Qur'an says:
"When My servants ask thee concerning Me, I am indeed close to them: I answer the prayer of every suppliant who calleth on Me..." [Qur'an, Sura 22:186, "Pilgrimage"]
This verse explains that God is always close to His servants when they are praying. Wherever we are and whoever we are, according to the Qur'an we can be sure that God is listening to our prayers and will answer them, although, of course, we are not always able to understand His response.
This being the case, no-one who believes in God can possibly prevent others praying, notwithstanding the fact that they belong to another religious tradition. The very idea of opposing someone's prayers reveals a really deep lack of faith.
As to Jewish-Muslim relationships, we heartily agree with the decision of Samuel Sirat, President of the Council of European Rabbis: till now inter-religious dialogue has been hampered by political reasons; but, from a theological point of view, dialogue between Jews and Muslims is easier than, say, dialogue between Jews and Christians.
In the past, Ibn Gabirol [Avucebri], Maimonides, Ibn Sina [Avicenna] and Ibn Rushd [Averroes] were not isolated intellectuals, but part of an intercommunication game that went beyond confessional links. If we reflect on the level of inter-religious dialogue in past centuries, we must frankly admit that in this respect we have been moving backwards.
True, one can blame this on the political situation, but that does not free intellectuals and men of religion of their responsibility. Today, looking toward the future, we must again create the same kind of intellectual atmosphere, till it will become common for Islamic theologians to read Buber and Levinas, and for Jewish scholars to study the works of Sha'rawi and Ashmawi.
Israeli intellectuals, for their part, must be ready to understand that a new attitude is emerging among some Islamic thinkers. Many of us are now ready to admit that hostility for Israel has been a great mistake, perhaps the worst mistake Muslims have made in the second half of this century.
For those Muslim leaders who live in Europe, in democratic countries and not under dictatorship, this declaration is not so dangerous as for those of our brothers who live in the Arab countries.
We know that, in those countries too, there is a certain part of the educated population that does not blindly accept anti-Israel propaganda; but freedom of expression is considerably limited in those countries.
It is very important for us to verify that we are not alone in our cultural activity, in our efforts not to repeat past mistakes; we must know that there is someone else who appreciates and shares our goals.
Readiness to understand the signs of the times means that we must recognize that times are ready for Jews and Muslims to recognize each other once again as a branch of the tree of monotheism, as brothers descended from the same father, Abraham, the forerunner of faith in the Living God.
In the field of comparative studies, there are broad prospects for common work. We can investigate the past and understand the common features in the development of Kabbalah and Tasawwuf, or study the mutual influence of Jewish Halakhah and Islamic Sharia.
Apart from these examples, our general guideline must be the principle that, the more we discover our common roots, the more we can hope for a common future of peace and prosperity.
Shaykh Prof. Abdul Hadi Palazzi
Shaykh Prof. Abdul Hadi Palazzi has been a lecturer in the Department of the History of Religion at the University of Velletri (Rome, Italy). In 1987, after completing his secular and religious education in Rome and Cairo, where he studied Islamic sciences under Shaykh Ismail al-Khalwati and Shaykh Ahmad al-Battawi, he was asked to serve as an Imam for the Italian Islamic Community. In addition to numerous Masters Degrees, Prof. Palazzi hold a Ph.D in Islamic Sciences by decree of the Grand Mufti of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. In 1989 he was appointed a member of the Board of Directors of the Italian Muslim Association (AMI) and afterward elected its Secretary General. In 1991 he was asked to act as Director of the Cultural Institute of the Italian Islamic Community (ICCII), with a program based on the development of Islamic education in Italy, refutation of fundamentalism and fanaticism, and deep involvement in inter-religious dialogue, especially with Jews and Christians. In 1997 Prof. Palazzi's essay entitled "The Jewish-Moslem Dialogue and the Question of Jerusalem" was published by the Institute of the World Jewish Congress. In 1997 Prof. Palazzi joined the International Council of the Root & Branch Association. In 1998, Prof. Palazzi and Dr. Asher Eder (Jerusalem, Israel) co-founded the Islam-Israel Fellowship of the Root & Branch Association.
ROOT & BRANCH ASSOCIATION, LTD.
Web Site: http://www.rb.org.il
Messages of related interest by Christian Bible Expositor Dr. Ray C. Stedman:
Additional Resources on Psalm 2:
Psalm 2: Matthew Henry's Commentary
Psalm 2: Charles H. Spurgeon's Commentary
WHOSE JERUSALEM IS IT?
Years that Jerusalem has been the capital of the Jewish People: (3, 000).
Number of times Jerusalem is mentioned in the Hebrew bible: (657).
City to which all Jews are required to make pilgrimage: (Jerusalem).
Years that Jerusalem has been the capital of any Muslim or Arab people: (0).
Number of times Jerusalem is mentioned in the Koran: (0).
City to which all Muslims are enjoined to make pilgrimage: (Mecca).
Family considered the Guardian of Muslim Holy Places: the Al-Saudis, Rulers of Saudi Arabia. Number of times leading members of this family prayed at Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem when Jordan controlled the city: (0).
Number of synagogues in the Jewish Quarter at the time of Jordanian conquest in 1948: (58).
Number of synagogues in the Jewish Quarter destroyed or desecrated by the Jordanians: (58).
Nationality of officers who led the Arab Legion in seizing the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem in 1948 and forcing all the Jews out: (British).
Arab regime that prohibited Christians from acquiring property in East Jerusalem, compelled Christians to close schools and businesses on Muslim holidays, and to include Muslim teachings in Christian schools, and constructed mosques next to churches to prevent Christian expansion: (Jordan 1948-1967)
Number of Christians in East Jerusalem in 1948 when Jordan seized control: (25,000).
Number of Christians in East Jerusalem at the end of Jordanian rule in 1967.(10,800).
Muslim population of Jerusalem in 1922: 13,413; 1994:145,000. Christian population in 1922.- 14,699; and 1994: 15,000.
Jewish population of Jerusalem in 1922.- 33,971; and 1994.- 406,000.
Number of trees planted by Israel in and around Jerusalem in recent decades: 11 million.
Number of acres transformed into "green belt" at parks in and around Jerusalem: nearly 9,000.
Religious Jews throughout the world recite their prayers 3 times a day while facing toward Jerusalem.
Muslims throughout the world, when they recite their prayers, face toward Mecca.
--American Friends of the Women for Israel's Tomorrow (Women in Green), Inc., 6839 Woodbridge Drive, Norfolk, VA 23518.
The Camp David II summit and the "Aqsa intifada" that followed have confirmed what everyone had long known: Jerusalem is the knottiest issue facing Arab and Israeli negotiators.
In part, the problem is practical: the Palestinians insist that the capital of Israel serve as the capital of their future state too, something Israelis are loathe to accept. But mostly, the problem is religious: the ancient city has sacred associations for Jews and Muslims alike (and Christians too, of course; but Christians today no longer make an independent political claim to Jerusalem), and both insist on sovereignty over their overlapping sacred areas.
In Jerusalem, theological and historical claims matter; they are the functional equivalent to the deed to the city and have direct operational consequences. Jewish and Muslim connections to the city therefore require evaluation.
Comparing Religious Claims
The Jewish connection to Jerusalem is an ancient and powerful one. Judaism made Jerusalem a holy city over three thousand years ago and through all that time Jews remained steadfast to it. Jews pray in its direction, mention its name constantly in prayers, close the Passover service with the wistful statement "Next year in Jerusalem," and recall the city in the blessing at the end of each meal. The destruction of the Temple looms very large in Jewish consciousness; remembrance takes such forms as a special day of mourning, houses left partially unfinished, a woman's makeup or jewelry left incomplete, and a glass smashed during the wedding ceremony. In addition, Jerusalem has had a prominent historical role, is the only capital of a Jewish state, and is the only city with a Jewish majority during the whole of the past century. In the words of its current mayor, Jerusalem represents "the purist expression of all that Jews prayed for, dreamed of, cried for, and died for in the two thousand years since the destruction of the Second Temple."
What about Muslims? Where does Jerusalem fit in Islam and Muslim history? It is not the place to which they pray, is not once mentioned by name in prayers, and it is connected to no mundane events in Muhammad's life. The city never served as capital of a sovereign Muslim state, and it never became a cultural or scholarly center. Little of political import by Muslims was initiated there.
One comparison makes this point most clearly: Jerusalem appears in the Jewish Bible 669 times and Zion (which usually means Jerusalem, sometimes the Land of Israel) 154 times, or 823 times in all. The Christian Bible mentions Jerusalem 154 times and Zion 7 times. In contrast, the columnist Moshe Kohn notes, Jerusalem and Zion appear as frequently in the Qur'an "as they do in the Hindu Bhagavad-Gita, the Taoist Tao-Te Ching, the Buddhist Dhamapada and the Zoroastrian Zend Avesta"-which is to say, not once.
The city being of such evidently minor religious importance, why does it now loom so large for Muslims, to the point that a Muslim Zionism seems to be in the making across the Muslim world? Why do Palestinian demonstrators take to the streets shouting "We will sacrifice our blood and souls for you, Jerusalem" and their brethren in Jordan yell "We sacrifice our blood and soul for Al-Aqsa"? Why does King Fahd of Saudi Arabia call on Muslim states to protect "the holy city [that] belongs to all Muslims across the world"? Why did two surveys of American Muslims find Jerusalem their most pressing foreign policy issue?
Because of politics. An historical survey shows that the stature of the city, and the emotions surrounding it, inevitably rises for Muslims when Jerusalem has political significance. Conversely, when the utility of Jerusalem expires, so does its status and the passions about it. This pattern first emerged during the lifetime of the Prophet Muhammad in the early seventh century. Since then, it has been repeated on five occasions: in the late seventh century, in the twelfth century Countercrusade, in the thirteenth century Crusades, during the era of British rule (1917-48), and since Israel took the city in 1967. The consistency that emerges in such a long period provides an important perspective on the current confrontation.
I. The Prophet Muhammad
According to the Arabic-literary sources, Muhammad in a.d. 622 fled his home town of Mecca for Medina, a city with a substantial Jewish population. On arrival in Medina, if not slightly earlier, the Qur'an adopted a number of practices friendly to Jews: a Yom Kippur-like fast, a synagogue-like place of prayer, permission to eat kosher food, and approval to marry Jewish women. Most important, the Qur'an repudiated the pre-Islamic practice of the Meccans to pray toward the Ka'ba, the small stone structure at the center of the main mosque in Mecca. Instead, it adopted the Judaic practice of facing the Temple Mount in Jerusalem during prayer. (Actually, the Qur'an only mentions the direction as "Syria"; other information makes it clear that Jerusalem is meant.)
This, the first qibla (direction of prayer) of Islam, did not last long. The Jews criticized the new faith and rejected the friendly Islamic gestures; not long after, the Qur'an broke with them, probably in early 624. The explanation of this change comes in a Qur'anic verse instructing the faithful no longer to pray toward Syria but instead toward Mecca. The passage (2:142-52) begins by anticipating questions about this abrupt change:
The Fools among the people will say: "What has turned them [the Muslims] from the qibla to which they were always used?"
God then provides the answer:
We appointed the qibla that to which you was used, only to test those who followed the Messenger [Muhammad] from those who would turn on their heels [on Islam].
In other words, the new qibla served as a way to distinguish Muslims from Jews. >From now on, Mecca would be the direction of prayer:
now shall we turn you to a qibla that shall please you. Then turn your face in the direction of the Sacred Mosque [in Mecca]. Wherever you are, turn your faces in that direction.
The Qur'an then reiterates the point about no longer paying attention to Jews:
Even if you were to bring all the signs to the people of the Book [i.e., Jews], they would not follow your qibla.
Muslims subsequently accepted the point implicit to the Qur'anic explanation, that the adoption of Jerusalem as qibla was a tactical move to win Jewish converts. "He chose the Holy House in Jerusalem in order that the People of the Book [i.e., Jews] would be conciliated," notes At-Tabari, an early Muslim commentator on the Qur'an, "and the Jews were glad." Modern historians agree: W. Montgomery Watt, a leading biographer of Muhammad, interprets the prophet's "far-reaching concessions to Jewish feeling" in the light of two motives, one of which was "the desire for a reconciliation with the Jews."
After the Qur'an repudiated Jerusalem, so did the Muslims: the first description of the town under Muslim rule comes from the visiting Bishop Arculf, a Gallic pilgrim, in 680, who reported seeing "an oblong house of prayer, which they [the Muslims] pieced together with upright plans and large beams over some ruined remains." Not for the last time, safely under Muslim control, Jerusalem became a backwater.
This episode set the mold that would be repeated many times over succeeding centuries: Muslims take interest religiously in Jerusalem because of pressing but temporary concerns. Then, when those concerns lapse, so does the focus on Jerusalem, and the city's standing greatly diminishes.
The second round of interest in Jerusalem occurred during the rule of the Damascus-based Umayyad dynasty (661-750). A dissident leader in Mecca, 'Abdullah b. az-Zubayr began a revolt against the Umayyads in 680 that lasted until his death in 692; while fighting him, Umayyad rulers sought to aggrandize Syria at the expense of Arabia (and perhaps also to help recruit an army against the Byzantine Empire). They took some steps to sanctify Damascus, but mostly their campaign involved what Amikam Elad of the Hebrew University calls an "enormous" effort "to exalt and to glorify" Jerusalem. They may even have hoped to make it the equal of Mecca.
The first Umayyad ruler, Mu'awiya, chose Jerusalem as the place where he ascended to the caliphate; he and his successors engaged in a construction program religious edifices, a palace, and roads in the city. The Umayyads possibly had plans to make Jerusalem their political and administrative capital; indeed, Elad finds that they in effect treated it as such. But Jerusalem is primarily a city of faith, and, as the Israeli scholar Izhak Hasson explains, the "Umayyad regime was interested in ascribing an Islamic aura to its stronghold and center." Toward this end (as well as to assert Islam's presence in its competition with Christianity), the Umayyad caliph built Islam's first grand structure, the Dome of the Rock, right on the spot of the Jewish Temple, in 688-91. This remarkable building is not just the first monumental sacred building of Islam but also the only one that still stands today in roughly its original form.
The next Umayyad step was subtle and complex, and requires a pause to note a passage of the Qur'an (17:1) describing the Prophet Muhammad's Night Journey to heaven (isra'):
Glory to He who took His servant by night from the Sacred Mosque to the furthest mosque. (Subhana allathina asra bi-'abdihi laylatan min al-masjidi al-harami ila al-masjidi al-aqsa.)
When this Qur'anic passage was first revealed, in about 621, a place called the Sacred Mosque already existed in Mecca. In contrast, the "furthest mosque" was a turn of phrase, not a place. Some early Muslims understood it as metaphorical or as a place in heaven. And if the "furthest mosque" did exist on earth, Palestine would seem an unlikely location, for many reasons. Some of them:
Elsewhere in the Qur'an (30:1), Palestine is called "the closest land" (adna al-ard).
Palestine had not yet been conquered by the Muslims and contained not a single mosque.
The "furthest mosque" was apparently identified with places inside Arabia: either Medina or a town called Ji'rana, about ten miles from Mecca, which the Prophet visited in 630.
The earliest Muslim accounts of Jerusalem, such as the description of Caliph 'Umar's reported visit to the city just after the Muslims conquest in 638, nowhere identify the Temple Mount with the "furthest mosque" of the Qur'an.
The Qur'anic inscriptions that make up a 240-meter mosaic frieze inside the Dome of the Rock do not include Qur'an 17:1 and the story of the Night Journey, suggesting that as late as 692 the idea of Jerusalem as the lift-off for the Night Journey had not yet been established. (Indeed, the first extant inscriptions of Qur'an 17:1 in Jerusalem date from the eleventh century.)
Muhammad ibn al-Hanafiya (638-700), a close relative of the Prophet Muhammad, is quoted denigrating the notion that the prophet ever set foot on the Rock in Jerusalem; "these damned Syrians," by which he means the Umayyads, "pretend that God put His foot on the Rock in Jerusalem, though [only] one person ever put his foot on the rock, namely Abraham."
Then, in 715, to build up the prestige of their dominions, the Umayyads did a most clever thing: they built a second mosque in Jerusalem, again on the Temple Mount, and called this one the Furthest Mosque (al-masjid al-aqsa, Al-Aqsa Mosque). With this, the Umayyads retroactively gave the city a role in Muhammad's life. This association of Jerusalem with al-masjid al-aqsa fit into a wider Muslim tendency to identify place names found in the Qur'an: "wherever the Koran mentions a name of an event, stories were invented to give the impression that somehow, somewhere, someone, knew what they were about."
Despite all logic (how can a mosque built nearly a century after the Qur'an was received establish what the Qur'an meant?), building an actual Al-Aqsa Mosque, the Palestinian historian A. L. Tibawi writes, "gave reality to the figurative name used in the Koran." It also had the hugely important effect of inserting Jerusalem post hoc into the Qur'an and making it more central to Islam. Also, other changes resulted. Several Qur'anic passages were re-interpreted to refer to this city. Jerusalem came to be seen as the site of the Last Judgment. The Umayyads cast aside the non-religious Roman name for the city, Aelia Capitolina (in Arabic, Iliya) and replaced it with Jewish-style names, either Al-Quds (The Holy) or Bayt al-Maqdis (The Temple). They sponsored a form of literature praising the "virtues of Jerusalem," a genre one author is tempted to call "Zionist." Accounts of the prophet's sayings or doings (Arabic: hadiths, often translated into English as "Traditions") favorable to Jerusalem emerged at this time, some of them equating the city with Mecca. There was even an effort to move the pilgrimage (hajj) from Mecca to Jerusalem.
Scholars agree that the Umayyads' motivation to assert a Muslim presence in the sacred city had a strictly utilitarian purpose. The Iraqi historian Abdul Aziz Duri finds "political reasons" behind their actions. Hasson concurs:
The construction of the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa mosque, the rituals instituted by the Umayyads on the Temple Mount and the dissemination of Islamic-oriented Traditions regarding the sanctity of the site, all point to the political motives which underlay the glorification of Jerusalem among the Muslims.
Thus did a politically-inspired Umayyad building program lead to the Islamic sanctification of Jerusalem.
Then, with the Umayyad demise in 750 and the move of the caliph's capital to Baghdad, "imperial patronage became negligible" and Jerusalem fell into near-obscurity. For the next three and a half centuries, books praising this city lost favor and the construction of glorious buildings not only came to an end but existing ones fell apart (the dome over the rock collapsed in 1016). Gold was stripped off the dome to pay for Al-Aqsa repair work. City walls collapsed. Worse, the rulers of the new dynasty bled Jerusalem and its region country through what F. E. Peters of New York University calls "their rapacity and their careless indifference." The city declined to the point of becoming a shambles. "Learned men are few, and the Christians numerous," bemoaned a tenth-century Muslim native of Jerusalem. Only mystics continued to visit the city.
In a typical put-down, another tenth-century author described the city as "a provincial town attached to Ramla," a reference to the tiny, insignificant town serving as Palestine's administrative center. Elad characterizes Jerusalem in the early centuries of Muslim rule as "an outlying city of diminished importance." The great historian S. D. Goitein notes that the geographical dictionary of al-Yaqut mentions Basra 170 times, Damascus 100 times, and Jerusalem only once, and that one time in passing. He concludes from this and other evidence that, in its first six centuries of Muslim rule, "Jerusalem mostly lived the life of an out-of-the-way provincial town, delivered to the exactions of rapacious officials and notables, often also to tribulations at the hands of seditious fellahin [peasants] or nomads. . . . Jerusalem certainly could not boast of excellence in the sciences of Islam or any other fields."
By the early tenth century, notes Peters, Muslim rule over Jerusalem had an "almost casual" quality with "no particular political significance." Later too: Al-Ghazali, sometimes called the "Thomas Aquinas of Islam," visited Jerusalem in 1096 but not once refers to the Crusaders heading his way.
III. Early Crusades
The Crusader conquest of Jerusalem in 1099 initially aroused a very mild Muslim response. The Franks did not rate much attention; Arabic literature written in Crusader-occupied towns tended not even to mention them . Thus, "calls to jihad at first fell upon deaf ears," writes Robert Irwin, formerly of the University of St Andrews in Scotland. Emmanuel Sivan of the Hebrew University adds that "one does not detect either shock or a sense of religious loss and humiliation."
Only as the effort to retake Jerusalem grew serious in about 1150 did Muslim leaders seek to rouse jihad sentiments through the heightening of emotions about Jerusalem. Using the means at their disposal (hadiths, "virtues of Jerusalem" books, poetry), their propagandists stressed the sanctity of Jerusalem and the urgency of its return to Muslim rule. Newly-minted hadiths made Jerusalem ever-more critical to the Islamic faith; one of them put words into the Prophet Muhammad's mouth saying that, after his own death, Jerusalem's falling to the infidels is the second greatest catastrophe facing Islam. Whereas not a single "virtues of Jerusalem" volume appeared in the period 1100-50, very many came out in the subsequent half century. In the 1160s, Sivan notes, "al-Quds propaganda blossomed"; and when Saladin (Salah ad-Din) led the Muslims to victory over Jerusalem in 1187, the "propaganda campaign . . . attained its paroxysm." In a letter to his Crusader opponent, Saladin wrote that the city "is to us as it is to you. It is even more important to us."
The glow of the reconquest remained bright for several decades thereafter; for example, Saladin's descendants (known as the Ayyubid dynasty, which ruled until 1250) went on a great building and restoration program in Jerusalem, thereby imbuing the city with a more Muslim character. Until this point, Islamic Jerusalem had consisted only of the shrines on the Temple Mount; now, for the first time, specifically Islamic buildings (Sufi convents, schools) were built in the surrounding city. Also, it was at this time, Oleg Grabar of Princeton's Institute of Advanced Study notes, that the Dome of the Rock came to be seen as the exact place where Muhammad's ascension to heaven (mi'raj) took place during his Night Journey: if the "furthest mosque" is in Jerusalem, then Muhammad's Night Journey and his subsequent visit to heaven logically took place on the Temple Mount-indeed, on the very rock from which Jesus was thought to have ascended to heaven.
But once safely back in Muslim hands, interest in Jerusalem again dropped; "the simple fact soon emerged that al-Quds was not essential to the security of an empire based in Egypt or Syria. Accordingly, in times of political or military crisis, the city proved to be expendable," writes Donald P. Little of McGill University. In particular, in 1219, when the Europeans attacked Egypt in the Fifth Crusade, a grandson of Saladin named al-Mu'azzam decided to raze the walls around Jerusalem, fearing that were the Franks to take the city with walls, "they will kill all whom they find there and will have the fate of Damascus and lands of Islam in their hands." Pulling down Jerusalem's fortifications had the effect of prompting a mass exodus from the city and its steep decline.
Also at this time, the Muslim ruler of Egypt and Palestine, al-Kamil (another of Saladin's grandsons and the brother of al-Mu'azzam), offered to trade Jerusalem to the Europeans if only the latter would leave Egypt, but he had no takers. Ten years later, in 1229, just such a deal was reached when al-Kamil did cede Jerusalem to Emperor Friedrich II; in return, the German leader promised military aid to al-Kamil against al-Mu'azzam, now a rival king. Al-Kamil insisted that the Temple Mount remain in Muslim hands and "all the practices of Islam" continued to be exercised there, a condition Friedrich complied with. Referring to his deal with Frederick, al-Kamil wrote in a remarkably revealing description of Jerusalem, "I conceded to the Franks only ruined churches and houses." In other words, the city that had been heroically regained by Saladin in 1187 was voluntarily traded away by his grandson just forty-two years later.
On learning that Jerusalem was back in Christian hands, Muslims felt predictably intense emotions. An Egyptian historian later wrote that the loss of the city "was a great misfortune for the Muslims, and much reproach was put upon al-Kamil, and many were the revilings of him in all the lands." By 1239, another Ayyubid ruler, an-Nasir Da'ud, managed to expel the Franks from the city.
But then he too ceded it right back to the Crusaders in return for help against one of his relatives. This time, the Christians were less respectful of the Islamic sanctuaries and turned the Temple Mount mosques into churches.
Their intrusion did not last long; by 1244 the invasion of Palestine by troops from Central Asia brought Jerusalem again under the rule of an Ayyubid; and henceforth the city remained safely under Muslim rule for nearly seven centuries. Jerusalem remained but a pawn in the Realpolitik of the times, as explained in a letter from a later Ayyubid ruler, as-Salih Ayyub, to his son: if the Crusaders threaten you in Cairo, he wrote, and they demand from you the coast of Palestine and Jerusalem, "give these places to them without delay on condition they have no foothold in Egypt."
The psychology at work here bears note: that Christian knights traveled from distant lands to make Jerusalem their capital made the city more valuable in Muslim eyes too. "It was a city strongly coveted by the enemies of the faith, and thus became, in a sort of mirror-image syndrome, dear to Muslim hearts," Sivan explains. And so fractured opinions coalesced into a powerful sensibility; political exigency caused Muslims ever after to see Jerusalem as the third most holy city of Islam (thalith al-masajid).
Mamluk and Ottoman Rule
During the Mamluk era (1250-1516), Jerusalem lapsed further into its usual obscurity capital of no dynasty, economic laggard, cultural backwater-though its new-found prestige as an Islamic site remained intact. Also, Jerusalem became a favorite place to exile political leaders, due to its proximity to Egypt and its lack of walls, razed in 1219 and not rebuilt for over three centuries, making Jerusalem easy prey for marauders. These notables endowed religious institutions, especially religious schools, which in the aggregate had the effect of re-establishing Islam in the city. But a general lack of interest translated into decline and impoverishment. Many of the grand buildings, including the Temple Mount sanctuaries, were abandoned and became dilapidated as the city became depopulated. A fourteenth-century author bemoaned the paucity of Muslims visiting Jerusalem. The Mamluks so devastated Jerusalem that the town's entire population at the end of their rule amounted to a miserable 4,000 souls.
The Ottoman period (1516-1917) got off to an excellent start when Süleyman the Magnificent rebuilt the city walls in 1537-41 and lavished money in Jerusalem (for example, assuring its water supply), but things then quickly reverted to type. Jerusalem now suffered from the indignity of being treated as a tax farm for non-resident, one-year (and very rapacious) officials. "After having exhausted Jerusalem, the pasha left," observed the French traveler François-René Chateaubriand in 1806. At times, this rapaciousness prompted uprisings. The Turkish authorities also raised funds for themselves by gouging European visitors; in general, this allowed them to make fewer efforts in Jerusalem than in other cities to promote the city's economy. The tax rolls show soap as its only export. So insignificant was Jerusalem, it was sometimes a mere appendage to the governorship of Nablus or Gaza. Nor was scholarship cultivated: in 1670, a traveler reported that standards had dropped so low that even the preacher at Al-Aqsa Mosque spoke a low standard of literary Arabic. The many religious schools of an earlier era disappeared. By 1806, the population had again dropped, this time to under 9,000 residents.
Muslims during this long era could afford to ignore Jerusalem, writes the historian James Parkes, because the city "was something that was there, and it never occurred to a Muslim that it would not always be there," safely under Muslim rule. Innumerable reports during these centuries from Western pilgrims, tourists, and diplomats in Jerusalem told of the city's execrable condition. George Sandys in 1611 found that "Much lies waste; the old buildings (except a few) all ruined, the new contemptible." Constantin Volney, one of the most scientific of observers, noted in 1784 Jerusalem's "destroyed walls, its debris-filled moat, its city circuit choked with ruins." "What desolation and misery!" wrote Chateaubriand. Gustav Flaubert of Madame Bovary fame visited in 1850 and found "Ruins everywhere, and everywhere the odor of graves. It seems as if the Lord's curse hovers over the city. The Holy City of three religions is rotting away from boredom, desertion, and neglect." "Hapless are the favorites of heaven," commented Herman Melville in 1857. Mark Twain in 1867 found that Jerusalem "has lost all its ancient grandeur, and is become a pauper village."
The British government recognized the minimal Muslim interest in Jerusalem during World War I. In negotiations with Sharif Husayn of Mecca in 1915-16 over the terms of the Arab revolt against the Ottomans, London decided not to include Jerusalem in territories to be assigned to the Arabs because, as the chief British negotiator, Henry McMahon, put it, "there was no place of sufficient importance further south" of Damascus "to which the Arabs attached vital importance."
True to this spirit, the Turkish overlords of Jerusalem abandoned Jerusalem rather than fight for it in 1917, evacuating it just in advance of the British troops. One account indicates they were even prepared to destroy the holy city. Jamal Pasha, the Ottoman commander-in-chief, instructed his Austrian allies to "blow Jerusalem to hell" should the British enter the city. The Austrians therefore had their guns trained on the Dome of the Rock, with enough ammunition to keep up two full days of intensive bombardment. According to Pierre van Paasen, a journalist, that the dome still exists today is due to a Jewish artillery captain in the Austrian army, Marek Schwartz, who rather than respond to the approaching British troops with a barrage on the Islamic holy places, "quietly spiked his own guns and walked into the British lines."
V. British Rule
In modern times, notes the Israeli scholar Hava Lazarus-Yafeh, Jerusalem "became the focus of religious and political Arab activity only at the beginning of the [twentieth] century." She ascribes the change mainly to "the renewed Jewish activity in the city and Judaism's claims on the Western Wailing Wall." British rule over city, lasting from 1917 to 1948, then galvanized a renewed passion for Jerusalem. Arab politicians made Jerusalem a prominent destination during the British Mandatory period. A contingent of Muslim notables, for example, went to Jerusalem in 1931 for an international congress to mobilize global Muslim opinion on behalf of the Palestinians. Iraqi leaders frequently turned up in Jerusalem, demonstrably praying at Al-Aqsa and giving emotional speeches. Most famously, King Faysal of Iraq visited the city and made a ceremonial entrance to the Temple Mount using the same gate as did Caliph 'Umar when the city was first conquered in 638. Iraqi involvement also included raising funds for an Islamic university in Jerusalem, and setting up a consulate and an information office there.
The Palestinian leader (and mufti of Jerusalem) Hajj Amin al-Husayni made the Temple Mount central to his anti-Zionist political efforts. Husayni brought a contingent of Muslim notables to Jerusalem in 1931 for an international congress to mobilize global Muslim opinion on behalf of the Palestinians. He also exploited the draw of the Islamic holy places in Jerusalem to find international Muslim support for his campaign against Zionism. For example, he engaged in fundraising in several Arab countries to restore the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa, sometimes by sending out pictures of the Dome of the Rock under a Star of David; his efforts did succeed in procuring the funds to restore these monuments to their former glory.
Perhaps most indicative of the change in mood was the claim that the Prophet Muhammad had tethered his horse to the western wall of the Temple Mount. As established by Shmuel Berkowitz, Muslim scholars over the centuries had variously theorized about the prophet tying horse to the eastern or southern walls-but not one of them before the Muslim-Jewish clashes at the Western Wall in 1929 ever associated this incident with the western side. Once again, politics drove Muslim piousness regarding Jerusalem.
Sandwiched between British and Israeli eras, Jordanian rule over Jerusalem in 1948-67 offers a useful control case; true to form, when Muslims took the Old City (which contains the sanctuaries) they noticeably lost interest in it. An initial excitement stirred when the Jordanian forces captured the walled city in 1948 -- as evidenced by the Coptic bishop's crowning King 'Abdullah as "King of Jerusalem" in November of that year-but then the usual ennui set in. The Hashemites had little affection for Jerusalem, where some of their worst enemies lived and where 'Abdullah was assassinated in 1951. In fact, the Hashemites made a concerted effort to diminish the holy city's importance in favor of their capital, Amman. Jerusalem had served as the British administrative capital, but now all government offices there (save tourism) were shut down; Jerusalem no longer had authority even over other parts of the West Bank. The Jordanians also closed some local institutions (e.g., the Arab Higher Committee, the Supreme Muslim Council) and moved others to Amman (the treasury of the waqf, or religious endowment).
Jordanian efforts succeeded: once again, Arab Jerusalem became an isolated provincial town, less important than Nablus. The economy so stagnated that many thousands of Arab Jerusalemites left the town: while the population of Amman increased five-fold in the period 1948-67, that of Jerusalem grew by just 50 percent. To take out a bank loan meant traveling to Amman. Amman had the privilege of hosting the country's first university and the royal family's many residences. Jerusalem Arabs knew full well what was going on, as evidenced by one notable's complaint about the royal residences: "those palaces should have been built in Jerusalem, but were removed from here, so that Jerusalem would remain not a city, but a kind of village." East Jerusalem's Municipal Counsel twice formally complained of the Jordanian authorities' discrimination against their city.
Perhaps most insulting of all was the decline in Jerusalem's religious standing. Mosques lacked sufficient funds. Jordanian radio broadcast the Friday prayers not from Al-Aqsa Mosque but from an upstart mosque in Amman. (Ironically, Radio Israel began broadcasting services from Al-Aqsa immediately after the Israel victory in 1967.) This was part of a larger pattern, as the Jordanian authorities sought to benefit from the prestige of controlling Jerusalem even as they put the city down: Marshall Breger and Thomas Idinopulos note that although King 'Abdullah "styled himself a protector of the holy sites, he did little to promote the religious importance of Jerusalem to Muslims."
Nor were Jordan's rulers alone in ignoring Jerusalem; the city virtually disappeared from the Arab diplomatic map. Malcolm Kerr's well-known study on inter-Arab relations during this period (The Arab Cold War) appears not once to mention the city. No foreign Arab leader came to Jerusalem during the nineteen years when Jordan controlled East Jerusalem, and King Husayn (r. 1952-99) himself only rarely visited. King Faysal of Saudi Arabia spoke often after 1967 of his yearning to pray in Jerusalem, yet he appears never to have bothered to pray there when he had the chance. Perhaps most remarkable is that the PLO's founding document, the Palestinian National Covenant of 1964, does not once mention Jerusalem or even allude to it.
VI. Israeli Rule
This neglect came to an abrupt end after June 1967, when the Old City came under Israeli control. Palestinians again made Jerusalem the centerpiece of their political program. The Dome of the Rock turned up in pictures everywhere, from Yasir Arafat's office to the corner grocery. Slogans about Jerusalem proliferated and the city quickly became the single most emotional issue of the Arab-Israeli conflict. The PLO made up for its 1964 oversight by specifically mentioning Jerusalem in its 1968 constitution as "the seat of the Palestine Liberation Organization."
"As during the era of the Crusaders," Lazarus-Yafeh points out, Muslim leaders "began again to emphasize the sanctity of Jerusalem in Islamic tradition." In the process, they even relied on some of the same arguments (e.g., rejecting the occupying power's religious connections to the city) and some of the same hadiths to back up those allegations. Muslims began echoing the Jewish devotion to Jerusalem: Arafat declared that "Al-Quds is in the innermost of our feeling, the feeling of our people and the feeling of all Arabs, Muslims, and Christians in the world." Extravagant statements became the norm (Jerusalem was now said to be "comparable in holiness" to Mecca and Medina; or even "our most sacred place"). Jerusalem turned up regularly in Arab League and United Nations resolutions. The Jordanian and Saudi governments now gave as munificently to the Jerusalem religious trust as they had been stingy before 1967.
Nor were Palestinians alone in this emphasis on Jerusalem: the city again served as a powerful vehicle for mobilizing Muslim opinion internationally. This became especially clear in September 1969, when King Faysal parlayed a fire at Al-Aqsa Mosque into the impetus to convene twenty-five Muslim heads of state and establish the Organization of the Islamic Conference, a United Nations-style institution for Muslims. In Lebanon, the fundamentalist group Hizbullah depicts the Dome of the Rock on everything from wall posters to scarves and under the picture often repeats its slogan: "We are advancing." Lebanon's leading Shi'i authority, Muhammad Husayn Fadlallah, regularly exploits the theme of liberating Jerusalem from Israeli control to inspire his own people; he does so, explains his biographer Martin Kramer, not for pie-in-the-sky reasons but "to mobilize a movement to liberate Lebanon for Islam."
Similarly, the Islamic Republic of Iran has made Jerusalem a central issue, following the dictate of its founder, Ayatollah Khomeini, who remarked that "Jerusalem is the property of Muslims and must return to them." Since shortly after the regime's founding, its 1-rial coin and 1000-rial banknote have featured the Dome of the Rock (though, embarrassingly, the latter initially was mislabeled "Al-Aqsa Mosque"). Iranian soldiers at war with Saddam Husayn's forces in the 1980s received simple maps showing their sweep through Iraq and onto Jerusalem. Ayatollah Khomeini decreed the last Friday of Ramadan as Jerusalem Day, and this commemoration has served as a major occasion for anti-Israel harangues in many countries, including Turkey, Tunisia, and Morocco. The Islamic Republic of Iran celebrates the holiday with stamps and posters featuring scenes of Jerusalem accompanied by exhortative slogans. In February 1997, a crowd of some 300,000 celebrated Jerusalem Day in the presence of dignitaries such as President Hashemi Rafsanjani. Jerusalem Day is celebrated (complete with a roster of speeches, an art exhibit, a folkloric show, and a youth program) as far off as Dearborn, Michigan.
As it has become common for Muslims to claim passionate attachment to Jerusalem, Muslim pilgrimages to the city have multiplied four-fold in recent years. A new "virtues of Jerusalem" literature has developed. So emotional has Jerusalem become to Muslims that they write books of poetry about it (especially in Western languages). And in the political realm, Jerusalem has become a uniquely unifying issue for Arabic-speakers. "Jerusalem is the only issue that seems to unite the Arabs. It is the rallying cry," a senior Arab diplomat noted in late 2000.
The fervor for Jerusalem at times challenges even the centrality of Mecca. No less a personage than Crown Prince 'Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has been said repeatedly to say that for him, "Jerusalem is just like the holy city of Mecca." Hasan Nasrallah, the leader of Hizbullah goes further yet, declaring in a major speech: "We won't give up on Palestine, all of Palestine, and Jerusalem will remain the place to which all jihad warriors will direct their prayers."
Along with these high emotions, three historically dubious claims promoting the Islamic claim to Jerusalem have emerged.
The Islamic connection to Jerusalem is older than the Jewish. The Palestinian "minister" of religious endowments asserts that Jerusalem has "always" been under Muslim sovereignty. Likewise, Ghada Talhami, a polemicist, asserts that "There are other holy cities in Islam, but Jerusalem holds a special place in the hearts and minds of Muslims because its fate has always been intertwined with theirs." Always? Jerusalem's founding antedated Islam by about two millennia, so how can that be? Ibrahim Hooper of the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations explains this anachronism: "the Muslim attachment to Jerusalem does not begin with the prophet Muhammad, it begins with the prophets Abraham, David, Solomon and Jesus, who are also prophets in Islam." In other words, the central figures of Judaism and Christianity were really proto-Muslims. This accounts for the Palestinian man-in-the-street declaring that "Jerusalem was Arab from the day of creation."
The Qur'an mentions Jerusalem. So complete is the identification of the Night Journey with Jerusalem that it is found in many publications of the Qur'an, and especially in translations. Some state in a footnote that the "furthest mosque" "must" refer to Jerusalem. Others take the (blasphemous?) step of inserting Jerusalem right into the text after "furthest mosque." This is done in a variety of ways. The Sale translation uses italics:
from the sacred temple of Mecca to the farther temple of Jerusalem
the Asad translation relies on square brackets:
from the Inviolable House of Worship [at Mecca] to the Remote House of Worship [at Jerusalem]
and the Behbudi-Turner version places it right in the text without any distinction at all:
from the Holy Mosque in Mecca to the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Palestine.
If the Qur'an in translation now has Jerusalem in its text, it cannot be surprising to find that those who rely on those translations believe that Jerusalem "is mentioned in the Qur'an"; and this is precisely what a consortium of American Muslim institutions claimed in 2000. One of their number went yet further; according to Hooper , "the Koran refers to Jerusalem by its Islamic centerpiece, al-Aqsa Mosque." This error has practical consequences: for example, Ahmad 'Abd ar-Rahman, secretary-general of the PA "cabinet," rested his claim to Palestinian sovereignty on this basis: "Jerusalem is above tampering, it is inviolable, and nobody can tamper with it since it is a Qur'anic text."
Muhammad actually visited Jerusalem. The Islamic biography of the Prophet Muhammad's life is very complete and it very clearly does not mention his leaving the Arabian Peninsula, much less voyaging to Jerusalem. Therefore, when Karen Armstrong, a specialist on Islam, writes that "Muslim texts make it clear that the story of Muhammad's mystical Night Journey to Jerusalem was not a physical experience but a visionary one," she is merely stating the obvious. Indeed, this phrase is contained in an article titled, "Islam's Stake: Why Jerusalem Was Central to Muhammad" which posits that "Jerusalem was central to the spiritual identity of Muslims from the very beginning of their faith." Not good enough. Armstrong found herself under attack for a "shameless misrepresentation" of Islam and claiming that "Muslims themselves do not believe the miracle of their own prophet."
Jerusalem has no importance to Jews. The first step is to deny a Jewish connection to the Western (or Wailing) Wall, the only portion of the ancient Temple that still stands. In 1967, a top Islamic official of the Temple Mount portrayed Jewish attachment to the wall as an act of "aggression against al-Aqsa mosque." The late King Faysal of Saudi Arabia spoke on this subject with undisguised scorn: "The Wailing Wall is a structure they weep against, and they have no historic right to it. Another wall can be built for them to weep against." 'Abd al-Malik Dahamsha, a Muslim member of Israel's parliament, has flatly stated that "the Western Wall is not associated with the remains of the Jewish Temple." The Palestinian Authority's website states about the Western Wall that "Some Orthodox religious Jews consider it as a holy place for them, and claim that the wall is part of their temple which all historic studies and archeological excavations have failed to find any proof for such a claim." The PA's mufti describes the Western Wall as "just a fence belonging to the Muslim holy site" and declares that "There is not a single stone in the Wailing-Wall relating to Jewish history." He also makes light of the Jewish connection, dismissively telling an Israeli interviewer, "I heard that your Temple was in Nablus or perhaps Bethlehem." Likewise, Arafat announced that Jews "consider Hebron to be holier than Jerusalem." There has even been some scholarship, from 'Ayn Shams University in Egypt, alleging to show that Al-Aqsa Mosque predates the Jewish antiquities in Jerusalem by no less than two thousand years.
In this spirit, Muslim institutions pressure the Western media to call the Temple Mount and the Western Wall by their Islamic names (Al-Haram ash-Sharif, Al-Buraq), and not their much older Jewish names. (Al-Haram ash-Sharif, for example, dates only from the Ottoman era.) When Western journalists do not comply, Arafat responds with outrage, with his news agency portraying this as part of a "constant conspiracy against our sanctities in Palestine" and his mufti deeming this contrary to Islamic law.
The second step is to deny Jews access to the wall. "It's prohibited for Jews to pray at the Western Wall," asserts an Islamist leader living in Israel. The director of the Al-Aqsa Mosque asserts that "This is a place for Muslims, only Muslims. There is no temple here, only Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock." The Voice of Palestine radio station demands that Israeli politicians not be allowed even to touch the wall. 'Ikrima Sabri, the Palestinian Authority's mufti, prohibits Jews from making repairs to the wall and extends Islamic claims further: "All the buildings surrounding the Al-Aqsa mosque are an Islamic waqf."
The third step is to reject any form of Jewish control in Jerusalem, as Arafat did in mid-2000: "I will not agree to any Israeli sovereign presence in Jerusalem." He was echoed by Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Abdullah, who stated that "There is nothing to negotiate about and compromise on when it comes to Jerusalem." Even Oman's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Yusuf bin 'Alawi bin 'Abdullah told the Israeli prime minister that sovereignty in Jerusalem should be exclusively Palestinian "to ensure security and stability."
The final step is to deny Jews access to Jerusalem at all. Toward this end, a body of literature blossoms that insists on an exclusive Islamic claim to all of Jerusalem. School textbooks allude to the city's role in Christianity and Islam, but ignore Judaism. An American affiliate of Hamas claims Jerusalem as "an Arab, Palestinian and Islamic holy city." A banner carried in a street protest puts it succinctly: "Jerusalem is Arab." No place for Jews here.
This Muslim love of Zion notwithstanding, Islam contains a recessive but persistent strain of anti-Jerusalem sentiment, premised on the idea that emphasizing Jerusalem is non-Islamic and can undermine the special sanctity of Mecca.
In the early period of Islam, the Princeton historian Bernard Lewis notes, "there was strong resistance among many theologians and jurists" to the notion of Jerusalem as a holy city. They viewed this as a "Judaizing error-as one more among many attempts by Jewish converts to infiltrate Jewish ideas into Islam." Anti-Jerusalem stalwarts circulated stories to show that the idea of Jerusalem's holiness is a Jewish practice. In the most important of them, a converted Jew named , Ka'b al-Ahbar, suggested to Caliph 'Umar that Al-Aqsa Mosque be built by the Dome of the Rock. The caliph responded by accusing him of reversion to his Jewish roots:
'Umar asked him: "Where do you think we should put the place of prayer?"
"By the [Temple Mount] rock," answered Ka'b.
By God, Ka'b," said 'Umar, "you are following after Judaism. I saw you take off your sandals [following Jewish practice]."
"I wanted to feel the touch of it with my bare feet," said Ka'b.
"I saw you," said 'Umar. "But no Go along! We were not commanded concerning the Rock, but we were commanded concerning the Ka'ba [in Mecca]."
Another version of this anecdote makes the Jewish content even more explicit: "in this one, Ka'b al-Ahbar tries to induce Caliph 'Umar to pray north of the Holy Rock, pointing out the advantage of this: "Then the entire Al-Quds, that is, Al-Masjid al-Haram will be before you." In other words, the convert from Judaism is saying, the Rock and Mecca will be in a straight line and Muslims can pray toward both of them at the same time.
That Muslims for almost a year and a half during Muhammad's lifetime directed prayers toward Jerusalem has had a permanently contradictory effect on that city's standing in Islam. The incident partially imbued Jerusalem with prestige and sanctity, but it also made the city a place uniquely rejected by God. Some early hadiths have Muslims expressing this rejection by purposefully praying with their back sides to Jerusalem, a custom that still survives in vestigial form; he who prays in Al-Aqsa Mosque not coincidentally turns his back precisely to the Temple area toward which Jews pray. Or, in Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's sharp formulation: when a Muslim prays in Al-Aqsa, "his back is to it. Also some of his lower parts."
Ibn Taymiya (1263-1328), one of Islam's strictest and most influential religious thinkers, is perhaps the outstanding spokesman of the anti-Jerusalem view. In his wide-ranging attempt to purify Islam of accretions and impieties, he dismissed the sacredness of Jerusalem as a notion deriving from Jews and Christians, and also from the long-ago Umayyad rivalry with Mecca. Ibn Taymiya's student, Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziya (1292-1350), went further and rejected hadiths about Jerusalem as false. More broadly, learned Muslims living after the Crusades knew that the great publicity given to hadiths extolling Jerusalem's sanctity resulted from the Countercrusade-from political exigency, that is-and therefore treated them warily.
There are other signs too of Jerusalem's relatively low standing in the ladder of sanctity: a historian of art finds that, "in contrast to representations of Mecca, Medina, and the Ka'ba, depictions of Jerusalem are scanty." The belief that the Last Judgment would take place in Jerusalem was said by some medieval authors to be a forgery to induce Muslims to visit the city.
Modern writers sometimes take exception to the envelope of piety that has surrounded Jerusalem. Muhammad Abu Zayd wrote a book in Egypt in 1930 that was so radical that it was withdrawn from circulation and is no longer even extant. In it, among many other points, he
dismissed the notion of the Prophet's heavenly journey via Jerusalem, claiming that the Qur'anic rendition actually refers to his Hijra from Mecca to Madina; "the more remote mosque" (al-masjid al-aqsa) thus had nothing to do with Jerusalem, but was in fact the mosque in Madina.
That this viewpoint is banned shows the nearly complete victory in Islam of the pro-Jerusalem viewpoint. Still, an occasional expression still filters through. At a summit meeting of Arab leaders in March 2001, Mu'ammar al-Qadhdhafi made fun of his colleagues' obsession with Al-Aqsa Mosque. "The hell with it," delegates quoted him saying, "you solve it or you don't, it's just a mosque and I can pray anywhere."
Politics, not religious sensibility, has fueled the Muslim attachment to Jerusalem for nearly fourteen centuries; what the historian Bernard Wasserstein has written about the growth of Muslim feeling in the course of the Countercrusade applies through the centuries: "often in the history of Jerusalem, heightened religious fervour may be explained in large part by political necessity." This pattern has three main implications. First, Jerusalem will never be more than a secondary city for Muslims; "belief in the sanctity of Jerusalem," Sivan rightly concludes, "cannot be said to have been widely diffused nor deeply rooted in Islam." Second, the Muslim interest lies not so much in controlling Jerusalem as it does in denying control over the city to anyone else. Third, the Islamic connection to the city is weaker than the Jewish one because it arises as much from transitory and mundane considerations as from the immutable claims of faith.
Mecca, by contrast, is the eternal city of Islam, the place from which non-Muslims are strictly forbidden. Very roughly speaking, what Jerusalem is to Jews, Mecca is to Muslims a point made in the Qur'an itself (2:145) in recognizing that Muslims have one qibla and "the people of the Book" another one. The parallel was noted by medieval Muslims; the geographer Yaqut (1179-1229) wrote, for example, that "Mecca is holy to Muslims and Jerusalem to the Jews." In modern times, some scholars have come to the same conclusion: "Jerusalem plays for the Jewish people the same role that Mecca has for Muslims," writes Abdul Hadi Palazzi, director of the Cultural Institute of the Italian Islamic Community.
The similarities are striking. Jews pray thrice to Jerusalem, Muslims five times daily to Mecca. Muslims see Mecca as the navel of the world, just as Jews see Jerusalem. Whereas Jews believe Abraham nearly sacrificed Isaac in Jerusalem, Muslims believe it was Isaac's brother Ishmael, not Isaac, and that this episode took place in Mecca. The Ka'ba in Mecca has similar functions for Muslims as the Temple in Jerusalem for Jews (such as serving as a destination for pilgrimage). The Temple and Ka'ba are both said to be inimitable structures. The supplicant takes off his shoes and goes barefoot in both their precincts. Solomon's Temple was inaugurated on Yom Kippur, the tenth day of the year, and the Ka'ba receives its new cover also on the tenth day of each year. If Jerusalem is for Jews a place so holy that not just its soil but even its air is deemed sacred, Mecca is the place whose "very mention reverberates awe in Muslims' hearts," according to Abad Ahmad of the Islamic Society of Central Jersey.
This parallelism of Mecca and Jerusalem offers the basis of a solution, as Sheikh Palazzi wisely writes:
separation in directions of prayer is a mean to decrease possible rivalries in management of Holy Places. For those who receive from Allah the gift of equilibrium and the attitude to reconciliation, it should not be difficult to conclude that, as no one is willing to deny Muslims a complete sovereignty over Mecca, from an Islamic point of view -notwithstanding opposite, groundless propagandistic claims - there is not any sound theological reason to deny an equal right of Jews over Jerusalem.
To back up this view, Palazzi notes several striking and oft-neglected passages in the Qur'an . One of them (5:22-23) quotes Moses instructing the Jews to "enter the Holy Land (al-ard al-muqaddisa) which God has assigned unto you." Another verse (17:104) has God Himself making the same point: "We said to the Children of Israel: 'Dwell securely in the Land.'" Qur'an 2:145 states that the Jews "would not follow your qibla; nor are you going to follow their qibla," indicating a recognition of the Temple Mount as the Jews' direction of prayer. "God himself is saying that Jerusalem is as important to Jews as Mecca is to Moslems," Palazzi concludes.
His analysis has a clear and sensible implication: just as Muslims rule an undivided Mecca, Jews should rule an undivided Jerusalem.
Daniel Pipes sends out a mailing of his writings approximately twice per week. To subscribe to or unsubscribe from this list, go to http://www.DanielPipes.org
Notes from ISBE, the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia:
Jerusalem in Eschatology. Eschatology is a complex subject, beset with many difficulties of interpretation that are best considered elsewhere. Here the concern is simply to note certain truths in the main outline, without attempting to fit them into a system or to use them to preview history,
A. Location of the Throne of God's Great King. From the time that it was taken by David for his throne, Jerusalem has been both a reality and an ideal. As a reality, it can be sinful, apostate, abominable, subject to God's wrath, besieged by enemies, and finally destroyed. "I will send a fire upon Judah, and it shall devour the strongholds of Jerusalem," says the Lord (Am. 2:5). "Zion shall be plowed as a field; Jerusalem shall become a heap of ruins, and the mountain of the house a wooded height" (Mic. 4:1; cf. Isa. 2:2). "And when your people say, 'Why has the Lord our God done all these things to us?' you shall say to them, 'As you have forsaken me and served foreign gods in your land, so you shall serve strangers in a land that is not yours"' (Jer. 5:19). "They will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led captive among all nations; and Jerusalem will be trodden down by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled" (Lk. 21:24).
Nevertheless, Jerusalem remains the hope of the world. "I have set my king on Zion, my holy hill," says the Lord (Ps. 2:6). "Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised in the city of our God! His holy mountain, beautiful in elevation, is the joy of all the earth, Mount Zion, in the far north, the city of the great King" (48: If.). "Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths. For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem" (Isa. 2:3; cf. Mic. 4:1-3). Jerusalem is to be the seat of government of the wonderful counselor, the prince of peace, of whom alone it could be said, "Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David, and over his kingdom, to establish it, and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore" (Isa. 9:7). "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he" (Zec. 9:9).
No matter how evil the king, no matter how sinful the people, the word of the Lord to His prophets was never a word of despair, never a message that He had given up His original plan. Through His chosen people He will work out His redemptive plan. Through His chosen king He will rule the nations in righteousness and peace.
B. Center of a Cosmic Struggle. Jerusalem is not simply the capital of a kingdom that must fight against other kingdom* of the world for survival. It is the city of God, and there is a cosmic, satanic opposition against God and against His redemptive purpose. A clear doctrine about the satanic is rarely expressed although greatly needed in the present age. Paul said it well: "For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places" (Eph. 6:12). Ezekiel foretold the days when the Lord will restore His people to their own land (Ezk. 36:28), when by His spirit He will make His dead people live again (37:11), take them from the nations and bring them to the mountains of Israel, and place one king, His servant David, over them (vv. 21f, 24).
But these restorations will not ultimately solve the problem, for opposition to God's plan and His people remains. Ezekiel portrays the opposition as Gog of the land of Magog (Ezk. 38: 1) who will go against these regathered people on the mountains of Israel (v. 8). Ezekiel makes clear that this will be no ordinary war, for this time God will not call upon Egyptians or Assyrians or Babylonians to do His work. He Himself will destroy Gog and his satanic forces (vv. 21-23). "1 will set my glory among the nations; and all the nations shall see my judgment which I have executed, and my hand which I have laid on them," says the Lord (39:21). The author of the book of Revelation uses the same figure. After portraying war in heaven (Rev. 12:7) and the defeat of the deceiver of the whole world (v. 9), the revelator sees a struggle on earth (v. 13), but on Mt. Zion stands the Lamb with myriads of His own (14: 1). Even after the song of triumph (19: 1- 10), however, there is still a satanic opponent to be destroyed. Satan is loosed from prison and enlists by deception the forces of Gog and Magog (20:7f .). "But fire came down from heaven and consumed them" (v. 9), and the devil and Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire (vv. 10, 14).
C. Perfect and Eternal Dwelling Place of God. In Ezekiel's temple vision, which he carefully dated, 10 Nisan of the fourteenth year after Jerusalem was captured (= Apr. 28, 575 B.C.), the prophet saw the new temple (cf. Ezk. 40:1-4). Much of the imagery is difficult to understand, but the message is clear: "The name of the city henceforth shall be, The Lord is there" (48:35).
The book of Revelation closes with a vision of the new Jerusalem, set in the new heaven and the new earth, "coming down out of heaven from God" (Rev. 21:2). The writer heard a great voice from the throne saying, "Behold, the dwelling of God is with men" (v. 3). Death, sorrow, and pain are no more, as the prophets of old foretold, "for the former things have passed away" (v. 4), The holy city hanging down from heaven like a splendid satellite has the glory of God, which is radiant like a rare jasper, clear as crystal (vv. 10f.). It has walls and gates; the gates bear the names of the twelve tribes of Israel and the foundations bear the names of the twelve apostles, for there is no longer any division of the people of God (vv. 22, 24). The gates shall never be shut (21:25; 22:5), either to keep out the enemy - for the last enemy has been destroyed and nothing unclean shall enter it, nor anyone who practices abomination or falsehood (21:23-27) - or to keep in the citizens, for the Ruler is not of this world. John saw no temple in the new Jerusalem, "for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb" (21:22). The temple made with hands was only a symbol of God's presence and could not, as Solomon recognized from the beginning , contain the eternal God (1 Kings 8:27). What need is there for a symbol when God Himself dwells in the city? There is no need of the light of the sun or the moon, for the glory of the One who created the luminaries is the light and in that light shall the nations walk. The river of the water of life flows from the throne of God, and the tree of life grows on its banks, "and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations (International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, "Jerusalem" 1982 Wm B. Eerdmans, Grand Rapids).
Al Bushra: Arab Christian and Roman Catholic Papers on the Middle East
20 Years of Research Reveals: Jerusalem Belongs to Jews
by Hillel Fendel
Jacques Gauthier, a non-Jewish Canadian lawyer who spent 20 years researching the legal status of Jerusalem, has concluded: "Jerusalem belongs to the Jews, by international law."
Gauthier has written a doctoral dissertation on the topic of Jerusalem and its legal history, based on international treaties and resolutions of the past 90 years. The dissertation runs some 1,300 pages, with 3,000 footnotes. Gauthier had to present his thesis to a world-famous Jewish historian and two leading international lawyers - the Jewish one of whom has represented the Palestinian Authority on numerous occasions.
Gauthier's main point, as summarized by Israpundit editor Ted Belman, is that a non-broken series of treaties and resolutions, as laid out by the San Remo Resolution, the League of Nations and the United Nations, gives the Jewish People title to the city of Jerusalem. The process began at San Remo, Italy, when the four Principal Allied Powers of World War I - Great Britain, France, Italy and Japan - agreed to create a Jewish national home in what is now the Land of Israel.
The relevant resolution reads as follows: "The High Contracting Parties agree to entrust...the administration of Palestine, within such boundaries as may be determined by the Principal Allied Powers, to a Mandatory [authority that] will be responsible for putting into effect the [Balfour] declaration...in favour of the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people."
Gauthier notes that the San Remo treaty specifically notes that "nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine" - but says nothing about any "political" rights of the Arabs living there.
The San Remo Resolution also bases itself on Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations, which declares that it is a "a sacred trust of civilization" to provide for the well-being and development of colonies and territories whose inhabitants are "not yet able to stand by themselves under the strenuous conditions of the modern world." Specifically, a resolution was formulated to create a Mandate to form a Jewish national home in Palestine.
League of Nations
The League of Nations' resolution creating the Palestine Mandate, included the following significant clause: "Whereas recognition has thereby been given to the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country." No such recognition of Arab rights in Palestine was granted.
In 1945, the United Nations took over from the failed League of Nations - and assumed the latter's obligations. Article 80 of the UN Charter states: "Nothing in this Chapter shall be construed, in or of itself, to alter in any manner the rights whatsoever of any states or any peoples or the terms of existing international instruments to which Members of the United Nations may respectively be parties."
UN Partition Plan
However, in 1947, the General Assembly of the UN passed Resolution 181, known as the Partition Plan. It violated the League of Nations' Mandate for Palestine in that it granted political rights to the Arabs in western Palestine - yet, ironically, the Arabs worked to thwart the plan's passage, while the Jews applauded it.
Resolution 181 also provided for a Special regime for Jerusalem, with borders delineated in all four directions: The then-extant municipality of Jerusalem plus the surrounding villages and towns up to Abu Dis in the east, Bethlehem in the south, Ein Karem and Motza in the west, and Shuafat in the north.
Referendum Scheduled for Jerusalem
The UN resolved that the City of Jerusalem shall be established as a separate entity under a special international regime and shall be administered by the United Nations. The regime was to come into effect by October 1948, and was to remain in force for a period of ten years, unless the UN's Trusteeship Council decided otherwise. After the ten years, the residents of Jerusalem "shall be then free to express by means of a referendum their wishes as to possible modifications of regime of the City."
The resolution never took effect, because Jordan controlled eastern Jerusalem after the 1948 War of Independence and did not follow its provisions.
After the Six Day War in 1967, Israel regained Jerusalem and other land west of Jordan. Gauthier notes that the UN Security Council then passed Resolution 242 authorizing Israel to remain in possession of all the land until it had "secure and recognized boundaries.' The resolution was notably silent on Jerusalem, and also referred to the "necessity for achieving a just settlement of the refugee problem," with no distinction made between Jewish and Arab refugees.
Given Jerusalem's strong Jewish majority, Gauthier concludes, Israel should be demanding that the long-delayed city referendum on the city's future be held
as soon as possible. Not only should Israel be demanding that the referendum be held now, Jerusalem should be the first order of business.
"Olmert is sloughing us off by saying [as he did before the Annapolis Conference two months ago], 'Jerusalem is not on the table yet,'" Gauthier concludes.
"He should demand that the referendum take place before the balance of the land is negotiated. If the Arabs wonÕt agree to the referendum, there is nothing to talk about."
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Who Owns Jerusalem?
by Lambert Dolphin
Web site: Lambert Dolphin's Library
Originated October 2, 1996. Revised October 18, 1996, October 12, 2000. November 5, 2000, November 17, 2001. December 10, 2001, February 20, 2002, January 29, 2008. Links updated June 17, 2013.