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Dr. Constable's Expository Notes Constable's Expository Notes
by Thomas Constable
Each book of the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Old Testament, called the Torah [instruction] by the Jews) originally received its title in the Hebrew Bible from the first word or words in the book. There are three divisions in the Hebrew Bible: The Law (Torah), the Prophets, and the Writings. The Torah was originally one book, but the Septuagint divided it into the five books that we have. The Jews regarded the stories in the Torah as divine instruction for them, as well as the commandments and sermons, since they too teach theology and ethics.
The Hebrew word translated "in the beginning" is transliterated beresit. The English title "Genesis," however, has come to us from the Latin Vulgate translation of Jerome (Liber Genesis). The Latin title came from the Septuagint translation (the Greek translation of the Old Testament made about 300 years before Christ). "Genesis" is a transliteration of the Greek word geneseos, the Greek word that translates the Hebrew toledot. This Hebrew word is the key word in identifying the structure of Genesis, and the translators have usually rendered it "account" or "generations" (Gen_2:4; Gen_5:1; Gen_6:9; Gen_10:1; Gen_11:10; Gen_11:27; Gen_25:12; Gen_25:19; Gen_36:1; Gen_36:9; Gen_37:2).
The events recorded date back to the creation of the world.
Many Christians believe the earth is millions of years old. They base this belief on the statements of scientists and understand Scripture in the light of these statements. Likewise, many Christians believe that the human race began hundreds of thousands of years ago for the same reason.
Many evangelicals believe that the earth is not much older than 10,000 years. They base this on the genealogies in Scripture (Genesis 5; Genesis 10; Genesis 11; et al.), which they understand to be "open" (i.e., not complete). Evangelicals usually hold to a more recent date for man’s creation, also for the same reason. A smaller group of evangelicals believes that these genealogies are either "closed" (i.e., complete) or very close to complete. This leads us to date the creation of the world and man about 6,000 years ago. I shall discuss the question of how we should interpret the genealogies in the exposition of the chapters where they occur.
Many interpreters have placed the date of composition of Genesis much later than Moses’ lifetime. Some of them do this because Genesis contains some names that became common designations of people and places after Moses’ time (e.g., the Philistines, Dan, et al.). I shall discuss these anomalies as we come to them. See also the section below: "writer." If one accepts Mosaic authorship, as most conservative evangelicals do, the date of composition of Genesis must be within Moses’ lifetime (ca. 1525-1405 B.C.). This book was perhaps originally intended to encourage the Israelites to trust in their faithful, omnipotent God as they anticipated entrance into the Promised Land from Kadesh Barnea or from the Plains of Moab. [Note: Eugene H. Merrill, "A Theology of the Pentateuch," in A Biblical Theology of the Old Testament, p. 30. See Walther Zimmerli, "Abraham," Journal of Northwest Semitic Languages 6 (1978):49-60.] Moses may have written it earlier to prepare them for the Exodus, [Note: E.g., Kenneth Kitchen, "The Old Testament in its Context: 1 From the Origins to the Eve of the Exodus," Theological Students’ Fellowship Bulletin 59 (1971):9.] but this seems less likely.
The authorship of the Pentateuch (Gr. penta, "five," and teuchos, "a case for carrying papyrus rolls" and, in later usage, the "scrolls" themselves) has been the subject of great controversy among professing Christians since Spinoza introduced "higher criticism" of the Bible in the seventeenth century. The "documentary hypothesis," which developed from his work, is that Moses did not write the Pentateuch, as most scholars in Judaism and the church until that day believed. Instead, it was the product of several writers who lived much later than Moses. A redactor (editor) or redactors combined these several documents into the form we have now. These documents (J, E, D, P, and others) represent a Yahwistic tradition, an Elohistic tradition, a Deuteronomic tradition, a Priestly tradition, etc. The subject of Old Testament Introduction deals with these matters. [Note: See especially Tremper Longman III and Raymond B. Dillard, An Introduction to the Old Testament, pp. 42-51.] One writer summed up the present state of this controversy as follows.
". . . the documentary hypothesis is shaky at best and before long may have to be given up entirely by the scholarly world." [Note: Kitchen, p. 78.]
The evidence that Moses wrote the Pentateuch seems conclusive if one believes that Jesus Christ spoke the truth when He attributed authorship to Moses (Mat_19:8; Mar_7:10; Luk_16:29-31; Luk_20:37; Luk_24:27; Joh_7:19; Joh_7:22; cf. Act_15:1). The New Testament writers quoted or alluded to Genesis over 60 times in 17 books. Jesus Christ did not specifically say that Moses wrote Genesis, but in our Lord’s day the Jews regarded the Pentateuch (Torah) as a whole unit. They recognized Moses as the author of all five books. Consequently they would have understood what Jesus said about any of the five books of Moses as an endorsement of the Mosaic authorship of them all. [Note: Oswald T. Allis’ The Five Books of Moses is a classic rebuttal of the denial that Moses wrote all five books. No one has discredited it, though many liberal scholars have ignored it. More recently, Kenneth Kitchen’s series of six articles, "The Old Testament in its Context" in Theological Students’ Fellowship Bulletin (1971-72), especially the sixth article, refuted "the fashionable myth" (p. 9) of the evolution of Israel’s religion as proposed by Julius Wellhausen and his followers. Another excellent rebuttal by a Jewish scholar, Umberto Cassuto, is his The Documentary Hypothesis. For a review of other subsequent approaches scholars have pursued in the study of Genesis (i.e., the form-critical, tradition-historical, and rhetorical-critical), see Allen P. Ross, Creation and Blessing, pp. 27-35; Victor P. Hamilton, The Book of Genesis: Chapters 1-17, pp. 11-38; or Wolf, pp. 71-78.]
"Just west of Abydos in southern Egypt, the Wadi el-Hol site yielded an alphabetic inscription carved on the underface of a ledge. Palaeographically it resembled a text found at Serabit al-Khadem in the Sinai Peninsula from 1600 B.C., which until 1993 was the earliest alphabet ever found. But the Wadi Hol example is at least two hundred years older, dating from the time Jacob and his sons lived in Egypt. The argument that Moses could not have written the Torah in alphabetic form that early (ca. 1400 B.C.) thus has bo basis." [Note: Eugene Merrill, "The Veracity of the Word: A Summary of Major Archaeological Finds," Kindred Spirit 34:3 (Winter 2010):13.]
The events recorded in Genesis stretch historically from Creation to Joseph’s death, a period of at least 2500 years. The first part of the book (ch. 1-11) is not as easy to date precisely as the second part (ch. 12-50). The history of the patriarchs recorded in this second main division of the text covers a period of about 300 years.
The scope of the book progressively and consistently narrows. The selection of content included in Genesis points to the purpose of the divine author: to reveal the history of and basic principles involved in God’s relationship with people. [Note: See the chart "Chronology of Genesis," in John Davis, From Paradise to Prison, p. 29.]
Genesis provides the historical basis for the rest of the Bible and the Pentateuch, particularly the Abrahamic Covenant. Chapters 1-11 give historical background essential to understanding that covenant, and chapters 12-50 record the covenant and its initial outworking. The Abrahamic Covenant continues to be the basic arrangement by which God operates in dealing with humanity throughout the Pentateuch and the rest of the Bible.
"The real theme of the Pentateuch is the selection of Israel from the nations and its consecration to the service of God and His Laws in a divinely appointed land. The central event in the development of this theme is the divine covenant with Abraham and its . . . promise to make his offspring into the people of God and to give them the land of Canaan as an everlasting inheritance." [Note: Moses H. Segal, The Pentateuch: Its Composition and Its Authorship and Other Biblical Studies, p. 23.]
Genesis provides an indispensable prologue to the drama that unfolds in Exodus and the rest of the Pentateuch. The first 11 chapters constitute a prologue to the prologue.
"Two opposite progressions appear in this prologue [chs. 1-11]: (a) God’s orderly Creation with its climax in His blessing of man, and (b) the totally disintegrating work of sin with its two greatest curses being the Flood and the dispersion at Babel. [Note: Derek Kidner, Genesis: An Introduction and Commentary, p. 13.] The first progression demonstrates God’s plan to bring about perfect order from the beginning in spite of what the reader may know of man’s experience. The second progression demonstrates the great need of God’s intervention to provide the solution for the corrupt human race." [Note: Ross, "Genesis," p. 21.]
The hero of Genesis is the LORD God, and its stories deal with the origin and life of the believing community under His sovereignty.
"The subject matter of the theology in Genesis is certainly God’s work in establishing Israel as the means of blessing the families of the earth. This book forms the introduction to the Pentateuch’s main theme of the founding of the theocracy, that is, the rule of God over all Creation. It presents the origins behind the founding of the theocracy: the promised blessing that Abraham’s descendants would be in the land.
"Exodus presents the redemption of the seed out of bondage and the granting of a covenant to them. Leviticus is the manual of ordinances enabling the holy God to dwell among His people by making them holy. Numbers records the military arrangement and census of the tribes in the wilderness, and shows how God preserves His promised blessings from internal and external threats. Deuteronomy presents the renewal of the covenant.
"In the unfolding of this grand program of God, Genesis introduces the reader to the nature of God as the sovereign Lord over the universe who will move heaven and earth to establish His will. He seeks to bless mankind, but does not tolerate disobedience and unbelief. Throughout this revelation the reader learns that ’without faith it is impossible to please God’ (Heb_11:6)." [Note: Ibid., p. 26. For further discussion of the theology of the Pentateuch, see Wolf, pp. 23-40.]
The structure of Genesis is very clear. The phrase "the generations of" (toledot in Hebrew, from yalad meaning "to bear, to generate") occurs ten times (really eleven times since Gen_36:9 repeats Gen_36:1), and in each case it introduces a new section of the book. [Note: For an extended discussion of the structure of Genesis based on the occurrences of toledot, see Mathews, pp. 25-41; or Ross, "Genesis," pp. 22-26.]
"The person named is not necessarily the main character but is the beginning point of the section that also closes with his death." [Note: Longman and Dillard, p. 53.]
The first part of Genesis is introductory and sets the scene for what follows. An outline of Genesis based on this structure is as follows.
1. Introduction Gen_1:1 to Gen_2:3
2. The generations of heaven and earth Gen_2:4 to Gen_4:26
3. The generations of Adam Gen_5:1 to Gen_6:8
4. The generations of Noah Gen_6:9 to Gen_9:29
5. The generations of the sons of Noah Gen_10:1 to Gen_11:9
6. The generations of Shem Gen_11:10-26
7. The generations of Terah Gen_11:27 to Gen_25:11
8. The generations of Ishmael Gen_25:12-18
9. The generations of Isaac Gen_25:19 to Gen_35:29
10. The generations of Esau Gen_36:1-43
11. The generations of Jacob Gen_37:1 to Gen_50:26
A full expository outline designed to highlight the relative emphases of the book follows. I shall follow this outline in these notes as I seek to unpack the message of the book.
I. Primeval events Gen_1:1 to Gen_11:26
parA. The story of creation Gen_1:1 to Gen_2:3
parB. What became of the creation Gen_2:4 to Gen_4:26
parC. What became of Adam Gen_5:1 to Gen_6:8
par1. The effects of the curse on humanity ch. 5
parD. What became of Noah Gen_6:9 to Gen_9:29
parE. What became of Noah’s sons Gen_10:1 to Gen_11:9
par1. The table of nations ch. 10
parF. What became of Shem Gen_11:10-26
II. Patriarchal narratives Gen_11:27 to Gen_50:26
parA. What became of Terah Gen_11:27 to Gen_25:11
3. Abram’s separation from Lot ch. 13
4. Abram’s military victory ch. 14
5. The Abrahamic covenant ch. 15
6. The birth of Ishmael ch. 16
7. The sign of circumcision ch. 17
10. The destruction of Sodom ch. 19
11. Abraham’s sojourn at Gerar ch. 20
16. The purchase of Sarah’s tomb ch. 23
17. The choice of a bride for Isaac ch. 24
B. What became of Ishmael Gen_25:12-18
C. What became of Isaac Gen_25:19 to Gen_35:29
10. Jacob’s flight from Haran ch. 31
13. Jacob’s meeting with Esau and his return to Canaan ch. 33
14. The rape of Dinah and the revenge of Simeon and Levi ch. 34
15. Jacob’s return to Bethel ch. 35
D. What became of Esau Gen_36:1 to Gen_37:1
E. What became of Jacob Gen_37:2 to Gen_50:26
3. Judah and Tamar ch. 38
4. Joseph in Potiphar’s house ch. 39
5. The prisoners’ dreams and Joseph’s interpretations ch. 40
6. Pharaoh’s dreams and Joseph’s interpretation ch. 41
7. Joseph’s brothers’ first journey into Egypt ch. 42
8. Joseph’s brothers’ second journey into Egypt ch. 43
9. Joseph’s last test and its results ch. 44
15. Deaths and a promise yet to be fulfilled Gen_49:29 to Gen_50:26 [Note: John H. Sailhamer, "Genesis," in Genesis-Numbers, vol. 2 of The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, pp. 6-14, has given helpful insights into the purpose and literary form of the Pentateuch, which he based on its structure. See Casper J. Labuschagne, "The Pattern of the Divine Speech Formulas in the Pentateuch: The Key to Its Literary Structure," Vetus Testamentum 23:3 (July 1982):268-96, for a different approach to determining the structure of Genesis through Numbers.]
From the many great revelations of God in Genesis probably the most outstanding attributes are His power and faithfulness. Almost every section of the book demonstrates the fact that God is absolutely trustworthy. People can rely on His word with confidence. All the major characters in Genesis came to acknowledge the faithfulness of God. Even Jacob, who was perhaps the most skeptical, came to a firm trust in God as God guided him through his life.
The major revelation about man in Genesis is his creation in the image of God. As the bearer of God’s image he has a relationship with his Creator as well as with his fellow creatures. The image of God in man consists of his spiritual qualities that distinguish him from other created beings. The Fall obscured but did not obliterate this image. It also damaged but did not destroy man’s relationship with God.
The key revelation in Genesis concerning the relationship that God and people have is that God initiated it, and they can enjoy it when they respond in trust and obedience. People can and must have faith in God to enjoy the relationship with God that God created us to experience. As men and women trust God, they experience God’s blessing and become instruments through whom God works to bring blessing to others.
Statement of the view
Everything in the universe has come into existence and has evolved into its present form as a result of natural processes unaided by any supernatural power.
Positive aspects of the view from the perspective of those who hold it
1. It appears to explain the origin of everything.
2. It offers a single explanation for everything that exists: it evolved.
3. It offers the only real alternative to creation by God.
4. It eliminates God and exalts man.
Problems with the view and answers by its advocates
1. It cannot explain the origin of matter. Answer: Matter is eternal.
2. It cannot explain the complexity of matter. Answer: Billions of years of evolution are responsible for the complexity of matter.
3. It cannot explain the emergence of life. Answer: Primordial life evolved from bio-polymers that evolved from inorganic compounds.
4. It cannot explain the appearance of God-consciousness in man. Answer: This too was the product of evolution.
Evaluation of the view
1. It rests on a hypothesis that cannot be proven to be true; it is essentially a faith position.
2. Its support rests on little historical evidence (only the fossil record) which has many gaps in it and is open to different interpretations.
3. It relies on mutations as a mechanism for change. However mutations have not produced new species.
4. It is extremely improbable statistically.
5. It repudiates special revelation concerning creation.
Modern advocates of the view
Almost all non-Christian scientists and many Christian scientists hold this view.
Statement of the view
Everything in the universe has come into existence and has evolved into its present form as a result of natural processes guided by the God of the Bible.
Positive aspects of the view from the perspective of those who hold it
1. It unites truth known by special revelation with truth known by general revelation in nature and truth discovered by science.
2. God seems to work according to this pattern in history, interrupting and intervening in the course of events only rarely.
Problems with the view and answers by its advocates
1. It presupposes the truth of evolution, which scientists have not been able to validate beyond doubt. Answer: Evolution is a fact or at least an accepted theory.
2. God has intervened in history many more times than the theistic evolutionist posits. Answer: In the early history of the universe He intervened less frequently.
3. Divine intervention in the evolutionary process is contradictory to the basic theory of evolutionary progress. Answer: The evolutionary process does not rule out divine intervention.
4. This method of creation does not do justice to the biblical record of creation. Answer: We should interpret the biblical record nonliterally when it conflicts with evolution.
Evaluation of the view
1. It cannot do justice to both the tenets of evolution and the teaching of Scripture.
2. It is ultimately destructive of biblical religion.
Modern advocates of the view
Some scientists and theologians who have respect for but a weaker view of Scripture hold this view, for example, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, The Phenomenon of Man (1959).
Statement of the view
God created the world directly and deliberately, without leaving anything to chance, but He did it over long periods of time that correspond roughly to the geologic ages.
Positive aspects of the view from the perspective of those who hold it
1. It provides a reasonable harmony between the Genesis record and the facts of science.
2. The translation of "day" as "age" is an exegetically legitimate one.
3. It is a tentative conclusion and acknowledges that not all the scientific evidence is in and that our understanding of the text may change as biblical scholarship progresses.
Problems with the view and answers by its advocates
1. There are discrepancies between the fossil record and the order in which Genesis records that God created plants, fish, and animals. Answer: Science may be wrong at this point, or Genesis may have omitted the earliest forms of life.
2. Taking the six days of creation as ages is unusual exegetically. Answer: This interpretation is possible and best here.
3. "Evenings" and "mornings" suggest 24-hour periods. Answer: The sun did not appear until the fourth day.
4. Death entered the world before the Fall. Answer: It took on its horror at the Fall but existed before that event.
Evaluation of the view
This view takes the biblical text quite seriously but adopts some unusual interpretations of that text to harmonize it with scientific data.
Modern advocates of the view
Many evangelicals who have been strongly influenced by science hold this view, including Davis A. Young, Creation and the Flood (1977). James Boice, Bernard Ramm, Robert Newman, Herman Eckelmann, and Hugh Ross also held this view.
Statement of the view
Genesis 1 describes one creative process that took place in six consecutive 24-hour periods of time not more than 6,000 to 15,000 years ago.
Positive aspects of the view from the perspective of those who hold it
1. It regards biblical teaching as determinative.
2. It rests on a strong exegetical base.
3. It results from the most literal (normal) meaning of the text.
Problems with the view and answers by its advocates
1. Data from various scientific disciplines (i.e., astronomy, radioactive dating, carbon deposits, etc.) indicate that the earth is about 5 billion years old and the universe is about 15-20 billion years old. Answer: God created the cosmos with the appearance of age. [Note: For a critique of the carbon-14 dating method, see Ham, et al., pp. 12, 65-75; George Howe, "Carbon-14 and Other Radioactive Dating Methods;" or Glenn R. Morton, "The Carbon Problem," Creation Research Society Quarterly 20:4 (March 1984):212-19.]
2. A universal flood cannot explain the geologic strata fully. Answer: It can explain most if not all of it, and the remainder may have been a result of creation.
3. Creation with the appearance of age casts doubt on the credibility of God. Answer: Since God evidently created Adam, plants, and animals with the appearance of age He may have created other things with the appearance of age too.
4. There is no reason why God would have created things with the appearance of age. Answer: He did so for His own glory, though we may not fully understand why yet.
Evaluation of the view
This view rests on the best exegesis of the text, though it contradicts the conclusions of several branches of science.
Modern advocates of the view
Many conservative evangelicals hold this view, for example, Robert E. Kofahl and Kelly L. Seagraves, The Creation Explanation (1975).
Statement of the view
Between Gen_1:1-2 there was a long, indeterminate period in which we can locate the destruction of an original world and the unfolding of the geological ages.
Positive aspects of the view from the perspective of those who hold it
1. It rests on an exegetical, biblical base.
2. It is consistent with the structure of the creation account itself.
3. It is possible to translate the Hebrew verb translated "to be" in verse 2 "become."
4. "Formless and void" in verse 2 may be a clue to God’s pre-Adamic judgment on the earth.
5. It provides a setting for the fall of Satan.
Problems with the view and answers by its advocates
1. It is an unnatural explanation since the text implies only an original creation in Gen_1:2 and following (cf. Exo_20:11). Answer: This interpretation is a superficial conclusion.
2. The exegetical data that supports this view is far from certain. Answer: These interpretations are possible.
3. This theory does not really settle the problems posed by geology. Answer: The universal flood may have produced some of the geological phenomena.
Evaluation of the view
While this view grows out of a high view of Scripture, several of the interpretations required for it rely on improbable exegesis.
Modern advocates of the view
Many conservative evangelicals, including Arthur Pink, C. I. Scofield, C. S. Lewis, M. R. DeHaan, and D. G. Barnhouse, held this view. See also Arthur C. Custance, Without Form and Void (1970).
|Comparison of Flood Stories [Note: From O’Brien, pp. 62-63. See also Wenham, Genesis 1-15, pp. 159-66; and Kerry L. Hawkins, "The Theology of the Flood," Seminary Review 34:2 (December 1988):69-88.]|
|Biblical||Berossus (Greek)||Atrahasis (Akkadian)||Gilgamesh (Akkadian)||Sumerian|
|Date of Account||Earliest possible: 15th century B.C.||ca. 275 BC||16th century (copy of earlier work)||ca. 1500 B.C. (copies, not the original)||19th century B.C. (copy, not the original)|
|Author of Flood||Yahweh||Enlil||Council of gods||Assembly of gods|
|Reason for Flood||Wickedness of mankind, violence, corruption.||The clamor, uproar of man disturbs Enlil’s sleep.||No reason given at first. In the end, the "sin of man" implied as the cause.||None given.|
|Hero||Noah (rest)||Xisouthros (Greek for Ziusudra)||Atrahasis (all wise)||Utnapishtim (finder of life)||Ziusudra (he saw life)|
|Intended for Whom||All mankind.||All mankind.||City of Shurippak particularly, but all mankind.||All mankind.|
|Reason Hero Spared||"Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord."|
"A righteous man. Blameless. Walked with God."
|Ziusudra was "humbly obedient," reverent; one who seeks revelation by dreams and incantations.|
|Means of Escape||Ark||Boat||Large ship||Ship||Huge boat|
|Description||Detailed: 3 stories,1 door, 1 window at least.||(Text destroyed)||Detailed: 6 stories, 1 door, 1 window at least.|
|Occupants||Noah, wife, 3 sons, their wives.|
7 pairs of all clean animals (male and female).
1 pair of all unclean animals (male and female).
|Xisouthros, family, others, all species of animals.||Atrahasis, wife, family, relations, craftsmen. Grain, possessions, foods. Beasts and creatures of the field.||Utnapishtim and all his family and kin. Craftsmen. Beasts and wild creatures of the field.|
|Duration of Storm||40 days and nights||7 days and nights||6 days and nights||7 days and nights|
|Landing Place||Mountains of Ararat||Mountains of Armenia||(Text missing)||Mt. Nisir (Mt. of Salvation)|
|Birds Released||Raven, dove, dove, dove||Birds||(Text missing)||Dove, swallow, raven|
|Sacrifice||Hero offers. "Lord smelled the pleasing odor."||Hero offers||(Text missing)||Hero offers. "Gods smelled the sweet savor."||Hero offers, bows to Utu, Anu, Enlil.|
|Blessing||God blesses Noah and charged him to populate earth.||Hero disappears but his voice instructs others.||Enlil blesses Utnapishtim. Hero and his wife then become as gods.||Ziusudra granted "life as a god" and "breath eternal"; called "preserver of seed of mankind."|
It occupies only 140 dunams (35 acres), yet this trapezoid-shaped walled area, hovering over the Old City of Jerusalem, is seldom out of the news. The Mount has been the site of frequent conflicts.
What is so important about the Temple Mount that it arouses such raging passions among Jew and Moslem alike? In Hebrew it is known as Har HaBayet (Mountain of the House) and in Arabic, Haram al-Sharif (the Noble Sanctuary). Within the area of the Temple Mount there are about 100 structures from various periods-great works of art and craftsmanship including open-domed Moslem prayer spots, arched porticos, Moslem religious schools, minarets, and fountains.
Here also is the magnificent Dome of the Rock, the central structure, which was begun by the Ummayyad Caliph, Abd-al-Malik in 684 C.E., and completed in 1033. With the bloody conquest of Jerusalem by the Crusaders, the Dome of the Rock was converted into a church and only re-converted into a mosque after Saladin’s conquest of Jerusalem in 1187. With its 45,000 ornamental tiles and 8 graceful arches at the top of the steps leading to the mosque, some observers consider it to be one of the most beautiful buildings in the world.
The Temple Mount has a very special status and enormous importance to Jews because it was the site of the Temple which stood at its center. Jerusalem, the Holy City, is regarded as the equivalent of the "camp of Israel" that surrounded the sanctuary in the wilderness; and the Temple Mount represents "the camp of the Divine Presence" (Sif. Naso 1:Zev 116b).
Its most sacred section was the Holy of Holies. Only the highest priest was allowed to enter it, and then only once a year, on the Day of Atonement, for the service Isaiah (Isa_2:3) tells us that [sic] "it shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be raised above the hills, and all nations shall flow to it . . . For out of Zion shall go forth the Law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem."
For Moslems, the Temple Mount also has great sanctity. They have three mosques to which special holiness is attached: the Ka’ba in Mecca, the Mosque of Muhammad in Medina, and the Temple Mount, their third holiest site in Islam. The adoration of the site is based on the first verse of Sura 17 of the Koran, which describes the prophet’s Night Journey. They believe that when Muhammad was sleeping near the Ka’ba, the angel Gabriel brought him to a winged creature. Together they rose to heaven and met Abraham, Moses, and Jesus. Some Moslems believe that Muhammad made the journey while awake and actually traversed the ground of the Temple Mount.
Because of the special nature of the Temple Mount, it will continue to inflame passions-according to religious Jews until such time as the Messiah comes. Then, according to Jewish belief, He will reign over the restored kingdom of Israel to which all Jews of the Exile will return. It is believed that the foundation of the Messiah’s throne will be justice and He will be charismatically endowed to dispense justice both to Israel and its neighboring nations.
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