Jerusalem is holy to Jews, Muslims and Christians and has been under each of their control at points in its long history. Settling the "Jerusalem question" is at the core of any possible peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians.
Here is a look at the city at the center of it all.
A high and holy place
This 35-acre plateau that towered over ancient Jerusalem is important to Jews as Temple Mount, site of the first and second temples, to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary, and to Christians.
First Jewish Temple
Jewish tradition holds that 3,000 years ago Solomon, son of King David, built the first Temple on the site of a threshing floor, the place where David originally erected the Tabernacle, a huge tent that housed the Ten Commandments. The Babylonians destroyed it 400 years later.
Second Jewish Temple
A few generations after the First Temple's destruction, Jews returned from exile and built the Second Temple on Temple Mount, which became the site of holy places for all three religions. The Romans destroyed the Second Temple in 70 A.D.
Dome of the Rock
Muslims call the site Haram al-Sharif (the Noble Sanctuary). They believe Mohammed was transported from Mecca to Jerusalem, where he was lifted to heaven and received instructions on how to pray. The Dome of the Rock was built over the spot. With Al-Aqsa Mosque, the site is Islam's third holiest after Mecca and Medina.
3000 B.C. A settlement dates from this era, near Gihon Spring.
2000 - 1500 B.C. Abraham settles in Canaan. Christians and Jews believe Jerusalem is where God orders Abraham to sacrifice Abraham's son Isaac to him.
Around 1000 B.C.: David, founder of the joint kingdom of Israel and Judah, captures Jerusalem from the Jebusites and makes it his capital. David's son, Solomon, builds the First Temple.
586 B.C. The Babylonians conquer Jerusalem, destroy the Temple and exile the Jews.
64 B.C. Pompey conquers Jerusalem for Rome. Herod, made king in 40 B.C., begins a building program, including refurbishing the Second Temple.
Around 28 A.D. Jesus of Nazareth arrives in Jerusalem, where he will be crucified. He foretells the destruction of the Temple.
70 A.D. Romans destroy the Temple following a Jewish revolt. In 135, they put down another revolt and rename the city Aelia Capitolina.
313 The city comes under the control of Constantine I, who restores its name and with his mother, Helena, builds the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.
638 Muslim Arabs capture Jerusalem; the Dome of the Rock is built by 691.
1099 European Christians capture Jerusalem during the First Crusade.
1187 Muslim leader Saladin recaptures Jerusalem. Jews return and the layout of the Old City into quarters is fixed.
1517 The Muslim Ottoman Turks capture the city.
1917 The British conquer Jerusalem during World War I and make it the administrative seat of Palestine.
1947 The British turn over Palestine's future to the new United Nations, which partitions it into Arab and Jewish states. Jerusalem would be an international city.
1948 Rejecting the U.N. plan, Arab forces attack the newly proclaimed state of Israel. By war's end, Israel controls West Jerusalem, which it makes its capital. Jordan controls East Jerusalem and the Old City.
1949 - 1967 Jews are barred from from praying at the Western Wall and some Jewish areas vandalized.
1967 During a second Arab-Israeli war, Israel captures East Jerusalem, reclaiming Temple Mount and the Western Wall. It annexes East Jerusalem and some 17,500 acres.
TODAY The future of East Jerusalem, annexed by Israel but regarded by Palestinians as the eventual capital of their own state, remains one of the most sensitive hurdles in peace talks.
Sources: World Book, Encyclopedia Britannica, BBC News, USA Today, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Peace Now, Bâ€™Tselem, InfoPlease Almanac, U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
In earliest times there were no permanent buildings such as temples where people could worship the One True God. The heavenly Father just needed a sanctuary, which is a dedicated place where He could dwell with His children. “And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them.” (Ex. 25:8) When the children of Israel were wandering in the wilderness they could not build a permanent place of worship. God would reveal Himself to them and let them know where they could erect a sacrificial altar (Deut. 112:11-14). The Tabernacle In The Wilderness was a Tent of Meeting for the people. The Tabernacle became the pattern for the first Temple of God to be built in Jerusalem. King David had the desire to build the temple but God chose his son King Solomon who completed it in about 960 B.C. (2 Sam. 7:1-17; 1 Kn, 6:1-38). It was a magnificent temple.
The Old Testament Temple
The Temple of God was used primarily for worship on the Sabbath day. God had warned Israel that if it violated the Sabbath commandment He would destroy the gates and palaces of Jerusalem (Jer. 17:27). Israel did not heed God’s warning so He allowed the Babylonians under King Nebuchadnezzar to burn “the house of God, broke down the wall of Jerusalem, burned all its palaces with fire, and destroyed all its precious possessions.” (2 Chron. 36:18-19). Those that survived became slaves in Babylon “until the land had enjoyed her Sabbaths. As long as she lay desolate she kept Sabbath, to fulfill seventy years.” (2 Chron. 36:20-21).
At God’s appointed time the Persians permitted the Jews’ return from the Babylonian captivity about 538 B.C., they began to rebuild the Temple, which was completed about 15 years later. While almost certainly not as grand as the original Temple of Solomon, it survived over 450 years. It was this Temple that the Syrian king Antiochus IV desecrated in 168 B.C., triggering the revolt byThe Maccabees. This Temple was largely destroyed by the conquering Romans under Pompey in 63 B.C. (see Ancient Empires - Rome)
The Herodian Temple, a rebuilding of the earlier Temple by Herod The Great, was the magnificent structure that existed at the time of Jesus Christ. It was there that The Lord drove out the money changers and had numerous confrontations with the Pharisees and Sadducees. This Temple was completely destroyed by the Roman Legions in 70 A.D., exactly as Jesus Christ prophesied, nearly 40 years earlier, that it would be (Matthew 24:1-2) (see Fall of Jerusalem In 70 A.D.). Since then, there has been no Temple in Jerusalem.
Will the Physical Temple in Jerusalem be Rebuilt?
There are a number of Jewish groups working toward the rebuilding of a physical Temple in Jerusalem. Their preparations are genuine, professional, and well financed. They would begin building today if the political situation permitted it. But will it happen? Many Christians reject the thought of any such possibility, because their Christian perspective of "Temple" is now purely spiritual, and so they disregard the minds and actions of the Jewish people. But Jews aren't Christians. Jews have a religious perspective of their own, and since 1948, the Jewish state of Israel has been a reality.
Whether or not the physical temple will be rebuilt depends on factors that relate to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Consider the incident on September 28, 2000 when the Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon visited the Temple Mount (Haram al-Sharif in Arabic) regarded as Islam’s third holiest place. He made this statement which is considered highly provocative to the Arabs::'The Temple Mount is in our hands and will remain in our hands. It is the holiest site in Judaism and it is the right of every Jew to visit the Temple Mount.'. Since that time, Palestinians have engaged in a violent insurrection that has been dubbed the "al-Aksa intifada” which continues to this day. Read “The Struggle for the Temple Mount”
It is beyond the time limitation and scope of this sermon to deal with this issue of whether or not the physical temple in Jerusalem will be rebuilt. I have made a special study on this subject in the ARK Forum. If you are interested in this study please