Monday, August 31, 2009

Tour the temple mount

Have you always wanted to travel to Jerusalem and see where the temple once stood? Here's the next best thing (and much cheaper). A virtual tour of the temple mount.

Todd Bolen writes, "The creators did a fantastic job with this. The photography is superb, the narration is helpful, and the location is one of the most religiously (and politically) important in the world." He notes the focus of the tour is on the Islamic structures presently on the mount, though the tour does not deny the earlier existence of the Jewish temple, porticoes, etc.

When I had the privilege of studying and traveling in Israel nearly 10 years ago with the IBEX program, I journaled about my experience on the temple mount:

We then made our way to the present day Temple Mount, which is only open to the general public a couple hours a day. Due to the Arab presence, we were instructed to keep our Bibles in our backpacks. In the south of the large courtyard was the El-Aqsa Mosque, and further to the north, directly over where the Holy of Holies is believed to have once rested, we saw the famous Dome of the Rock. A few tourist groups wandered around the courtyard, but mostly, there was an aura of quietness and reverence throughout the place. For the Arabs, this is one of the most sacred sites in the world. The Jews, who despise the Arab presence, are rarely seen on the Mount. They long for a day when the temple can be restored, and dreading the thought of standing on holy ground unworthily, they are content for now to stay outside the Western Wall (or "Wailing Wall"). From the Wall, Jewish prayers to Jehovah are considered a "local call."

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