UPDATES 8 pm Israel time, Wednesday, May 14 2014:
**Do you want to know, dear reader, why Israelis on the front lines feel such hostility about the priorities of the IDF General Staff? Consider these three incidents today.
First, there have been two more rocket attacks on southern Israel–one missile struck the Eshkol region this morning, and the other struck the Chof Ashkelon region this afternoon.
After the first attack, the IDF spokesman immediately appeared to say that no attack had actually taken place–it was merely a “false alarm”. This was amended later in the afternoon to note that, in fact, a missile had exploded “in an open area.”
As for the second attack, the IDF has said nothing at all. No warning sirens sounded just before missile impact explosions rocked the area.
In response to both missile attacks, the IDF has done absolutely nothing.
The third attack occurred this afternoon in Samaria. A bus carrying 30 IDF paratroopers was attacked by Palestinian “rock” throwers. The bus was badly damaged, but fortunately no soldiers were wounded.
In response to this “rock” attack, the IDF has done absolutely nothing.
So what has the IDF been preoccupied with today? Destroying Jewish homes in the fledgling Jewish community of Ma’aleh Rehavem.
Four homes as well as three other structures were razed by bulldozers under the direction of IDF soldiers of COGAT, Border Guards, and Israeli police.
So, while missiles are exploding and a bus full of soldiers is being assaulted, the IDF is leading the fight to dispossess Jews from their homes–Jews who are on the front lines against Palestinian terrorism. Maybe you can now begin to understand why many Israelis living in front line areas have such antagonistic feelings about the priorities of the IDF General Staff.
**Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party has played a major role in the Israel legislative system over the last two days. In the first case, Lapid announced that he would not support PM Netanyahu’s attempt to postpone the upcoming presidential election or to amend the Basic Law to take the power to “choose” the Prime Minister out of hands of the president. In effect, Lapid’s announcement kills Netanyahu’s plans.
Secondly, Ya’akov Perry, a former Shin Bet Director who is an influential member of Yesh Atid, outrageously filed an appeal of the “life without possibility of parole for terrorist” law that would have taken away the presidential power to pardon terrorist murderers. That appeal forces the entire Netanyahu cabinet to consider the proposed law on Sunday. Most likely, the bill will proceed; however, Perry’s action has dumbfounded most Israelis.
**”Too harsh”, “gratuitous”, “vengeful”: the Israeli and international left (as predicted in yesterday’s blog) has been rushing to the belated defense of former PM Ehud Olmert. It is simply astonishing to your humble servant how anyone can fault the sentence meted out to an utterly corrupt politician.
In any case, if Olmert’s appeal of his sentence fails and he goes to prison for six years, he will undoubtedly (and unfortunately) be released in half that time.
Today we continue with our series on the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount on top of Mt. Moriah in Jerusalem. The point of this series to show that when we see a picture of the Dome of the Rock what we are actually seeing is a picture of a building built on the site of the First and Second Jewish Temples, and a building that houses the holiest site in Judaism, the Foundation Stone.
Before you begin today, you may want to read the previous parts of this blog and learn how we have progressed from the Foundation Stone, to the moment that the First Temple was constructed in about 950 BCE, to the moment that the Second Temple was dedicated in 516 BCE, to the point where we stopped yesterday in 164 BCE with the Maccabees cleansing and rededicating the Second Temple.
The year is 164 BCE.
Remember that as the Maccabees take over control of the Second Temple that many of the sacred objects of the First Temple period have now been missing for 422 years since the Babylonian destruction. The Ark of the Covenant containing the tablets given Moses, the receptacle of manna, Aaron’s rod, the Urim and Thummin divination objects, the holy oil, and the sacred fire are all gone.
What did remain were the golden Menorah, the Table of Showbread, and the Golden Altar of Incense.
But most importantly, what remained was the Foundation Stone.
And it was that Foundation Stone in the Holy of Holies that became the central focus in the Maccabees’ Hasmonean Jewish kingdom during the years 140 BCE to 63 BCE. In the latter year, the kingdom was conquered by Rome, and 26 years later the Herodian Dynasty began.
And we all know the story of Herod.
The Second Temple was massively expanded by turning what had been an uneven top on Mt. Moriah into a huge square level platform. Gigantic stones were quarried–some weighing more than 600 tons–to create the base for the platform. How do we know this? Simply because the stones are still there today.
The Temple itself was also massively expanded around the Foundation Stone. The Jewish Roman historian Josephus writes that there were 10 entrances to the inner courts with such gates as the Fuel Gate, the Water Gate, the Offering Gate (sacrificial animals were sold outside the Temple compound), the Women’s Gate, and the Song Gate.
The largest of the Temple courts was the Court of the Women in which one could hear singing and see continual dancing. There was even a place inside set aside for lepers.
The Temple and platform complex was an architectural marvel.
Another rendition of the front of the Second Temple itself:
The look at the whole complex from a different perspective:
And so this was the scene in Jerusalem in 70 CE. A magnificent Second Jewish Temple built around the Foundation Stone–the holiest place in Judaism–was a magnet for Jews throughout the world who arrived daily at ports along the Mediterranean coast and made their pilgrimage to the holy city.
This was the scene when the Romans destroyed the Second Temple.
But more on that tomorrow in Part 6.
Remember that now we have reached a point 1,020 years after the First Jewish Temple was built by Solomon, and we are still 620 years away from the construction of the Dome of “the Rock”–in other words, the Dome built over the Jewish Foundation Stone.