The Foundation Stone (Hebrew : אֶבֶן הַשְׁתִיָּיה‘Even haŠəṯīyyā, literally "The Foundation Stone"; or simply Hebrew : סֶּלַעSelā‛, "Rock"), or the Noble Rock (Arabic : الصخرة المشرفةal-Saḵrah al-Mušarrafah, lit. "The Noble Rock") is the rock at the centre of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem. It is also known as the Pierced Stone because it has a small hole on the southeastern corner that enters a cavern beneath the rock, known as the Well of Souls.
In traditional Jewish sources, it is considered the place from which the creation of the world began.The site was used by the Temple in Jerusalem; most classical Jewish sources agree it was the location of the Holy of Holies. If it was the site of the Holy of Holies, that would make this the holiest site in Judaism. Jewish tradition views the Holy of Holies as the spiritual junction of Heaven and Earth, the axis mundi, and is therefore the direction that Jews face when praying the Amidah. In modern academia, this is usually the consensus, however, overall there is no conclusive opinion on the matter.
The rock is located towards the centre of the Temple Mount, a term usually applied to an artificial platform built and expanded over many centuries at the top of Jerusalem's southern hill. The current shape is the result of an expansion by Herod the Great on top of vaults over a summit called Mount Moriah which three millennia ago was the highest elevation in early Jerusalem's proximity to the City of David.[ citation needed ]
Early Jewish writings assist in confirming that the Dome of the Rock, completed in 691, is the site of the Holy of Holies and therefore the location of the Foundation Stone. Pirke De-Rabbi Eliezer (9th century) wrote: "Rabbi Ishmael said: In the future, the sons of Ishmael (the Arabs) will do fifteen things in the Land of Israel … They will fence in the breaches of the walls of the Temple and construct a building on the site of the sanctuary."
Rabbis have discussed the precise location of the rock. David ben Solomon ibn Abi Zimra was convinced that "under the dome on the Temple Mount, which the Arabs call El-Sakhrah, without a doubt is the location of the Foundation Stone."The Travels of Petachia of Ratisbon , c.1180, The Travels of Benjamin of Tudela and The Travels of the Student of the Ramban all equally state that "on the Temple Mount stands a beautiful sanctuary which an Arab king built long ago, over the place of the Temple sanctuary and courtyard." Obadiah ben Abraham Bartenura, who wrote a letter from Jerusalem in 1488, says that "I sought the place of the Foundation Stone where the Ark of the Covenant was placed, and many people told me it is under a tall and beautiful dome which the Arabs built in the Temple precinct."
Other traditional sources disagreed; operating under the belief that the Southern Wall of the Temple Mount as it stood in their time was the Southern Wall of the Biblical era, they argued that the measurements given in the Talmud do not reconcile.The Holy of Holies ends up being too far north and they therefore locate the Foundation Stone as being directly opposite the current exposed section of the Western Wall, where no building currently stands. This is the view of Isaac Luria and the Maharsha, who state the prophecy that "Zion will become a ploughed field" indicates that no dwelling will be established there until the time of the Redemption. It therefore follows that the footprint of the Temple courtyard and Holy of Holies is situated in the unbuilt area between the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa Mosque.
Some believe the position is north of the Dome of the Rock, opposite the Gate of Mercy, which Immanuel Hai Ricchiidentifies as the Shushan Gate mentioned in the Talmud. This gate was described as being opposite the opening of the sanctuary.
Modern Jewish academics list four possible locations of the Foundation Stone:
Although the rock is part of the surrounding 90-million-year-old, Upper Turonian Stage, Late Cretaceous karsted limestone,[ citation needed ] the southern side forms a ledge, with a gap between it and the surrounding ground; a set of steps currently uses this gap to provide access from the Dome of the Rock to the Well of Souls beneath it.
The rock has several artificial cuts in its surface generally attributed to the Crusaders whose frequent damage to the rock was so severe that the Christian kings of Jerusalem placed a protective marble slab over the rock. The marble slab was removed by Saladin. More recently, there has been speculation that several artificial features of the rock's surface may substantially predate the Crusades.[ citation needed ] Archaeologist Leen Ritmeyer reports that there are sections of the rock cut completely flat, which north-to-south have a width of 6 cubits, precisely the width that the Mishnah credits to the wall of the Holy of Holies, and hence Ritmeyer proposed that these flat sections constitute foundation trenches on top of which the walls of the original temple were laid. However, according to Josephus [ citation needed ] there were 31 steps up to the Holy of Holies from the lower level of the Temple Mount, and the Mishnah identifies 29 steps in total,[ citation needed ] and each step was half a cubit in height (according to the Mishnah); this is a height of at least 22 feet—the height of the Sakhra is 21 feet above the lower level of the Temple Mount, and should therefore have been under the floor.[ citation needed ]
Measuring the flat surface as the position of the southern wall of a square enclosure, the west and north sides of which are formed by the low clean-cut scarp at these edges of the rock, at the position of the hypothetical centre is a rectangular cut in the rock that is about 2.5 cubits (min. 120.4 cm SI) long and 1.5 cubits (min. 72.24 cm SI) wide, which are the dimensions of the Ark of the Covenant (according to the Book of Exodus ).
The Mishnah cm SI) above the ground. Radbaz discusses the apparent contradiction of the Mishnah's measurements and the actual measurement of the rock within the Dome he estimates as a "height of two men" above the ground. He concluded that many changes in the natural configuration of the Temple Mount have taken place which can be attributed to excavations made by the various occupiers of Jerusalem since the Second Temple construction.gives the height of the rock as three thumb-breadths (min. 6
This is the holiest site in Judaism. Jews all over the world pray toward the Foundation Stone.
The Roman-Era midrash Tanhumasums up the centrality of and holiness of this site in Judaism:
According to the sages of the Talmud,it was from this rock that the world was created, itself being the first part of the Earth to come into existence. In the words of the Zohar , "The world was not created until God took a stone called Even haShetiya and threw it into the depths where it was fixed from above till below, and from it the world expanded. It is the centre point of the world and on this spot stood the Holy of Holies."
According to the Talmud, it was close to here, on the site of the altar, that God gathered the earth that was formed into Adam. It was on this rock that Adam—and later Cain and Abel and Noah—offered sacrifices to God. Jewish sources identify this rock as the place of the Binding of Isaac mentioned in the Bible, where Abraham fulfilled God's test to see if he would be willing to sacrifice his son. The mountain is identified as Moriah in Genesis 22. It is also identified as the rock upon which Jacob dreamt about angels ascending and descending on a ladder and consequently consecrating and offering a sacrifice upon.
When, according to the Bible, King David purchased a threshing floor owned by Araunah the Jebusite,it is believed that it was upon this rock that he offered the sacrifice mentioned in the verse. He wanted to construct a permanent temple there, but as his hands were "bloodied", he was forbidden to do so himself. The task was left to his son Solomon, who completed the Temple in c. 950 BCE.
The Mishnah in tractate Yomamentions a stone situated in the Holy of Holies that was called Shetiya and had been revealed by the early prophets (i.e. David and Samuel.
An early Christian source noting Jewish attachment to the rock may be found in the Itinerarium Burdigalense , written between 333–334 CE when Jerusalem was under Roman rule, which describes a "perforated stone to which the Jews come every year and anoint it, bewail themselves with groans, rend their garments, and so depart."
Situated inside the Holy of Holies, this was the rock upon which the Ark of the Covenant was placed in Solomon's Temple.During the Second Temple period when the Ark of the Covenant was not present, the stone was used by the High Priest who offered up the incense and sprinkled the blood of the sacrifices on it during the Yom Kippur service.
The Jerusalem Talmud states:
Women are accustomed not to prepare or attach warp threads to a weaving loom from Rosh Chodesh Av onwards (till after Tisha B'Av), because during the month of Av the Foundation Stone [and the Temple] was destroyed.
Citing this, the Mishnah Berurahrules that not only are women not to prepare or attach warp threads to a weaving loom, but it is forbidden for anyone to make, buy or wear new clothes or shoes from the beginning of the week in which Tisha B'Av falls until after the fast, and that people should ideally not do so from the beginning of Av. This period is known as The Nine Days.
In further commemoration of the Foundation Stone, it is also forbidden to eat meat or drink wine from the beginning of the week in which Tisha B'av falls until after the fast. Some have the custom to refrain from these foodstuffs from Rosh Chodesh Av, while others do so from the Seventeenth of Tammuz.
In the days when Selichot are recited, in the days leading up to Rosh Hashanah until Yom Kippur, the supplications include the following references:
טענתנו גפי קרת נתונים, ישבתנו שן סלע איתנים
You carried us and placed us on the [Holy] City’s height, You settled us on the Patriarch’s rocky peak.
רבוצה עליו אבן שתית חטובים ...שמה בתוך לפני מזיב מאשנבים
Upon it lying the stone from which the foundation was hewn… Who gives ear from which the waters flow [i.e. the foundation stone "from which flow all the waters of the world"].
During Sukkot, the following references to the Foundation Stone are mentioned in the Hoshanot recital:
הושענא! – אבן שתיה – הושענא
Please save! – Foundation Stone – Please save!
הושענא! – תאדרנו באבן תלולה – הושענא
Please save! – Adorn us with the elevated Stone – Please save!
The Temple Mount, where the Foundation Stone is located, is thought by commentators of the Quran to be the place from which Muhammad began his Night Journey.Although the Quran does not specifically mention Jerusalem in name as the ascension site, labelling the site as the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the Hadith, the recorded sayings of Muhammad, specify that the site is indeed the Foundation Stone in Jerusalem. According to Islamic belief, angels visited the site 2,000 years before the creation of Adam. It is also thought to be the place where Israfil, the angel of the trumpet, will sound his horn on Resurrection Day.
Beneath the Foundation Stone is a cavern known as the Well of Souls. It is sometimes thought of as the traditional hiding place of the Ark of the Covenant.
The Temple in Jerusalem was any of a series of structures which were located on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem, the current site of the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque. These successive temples stood at this location and functioned as a site of ancient Israelite and later Jewish worship. It is also called the Holy Temple.
The Temple Mount, known to Muslims as the Haram esh-Sharif and the Al Aqsa Compound, is a hill located in the Old City of Jerusalem that for thousands of years has been venerated as a holy site in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam alike.
The Second Temple was the Jewish holy temple, which stood on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, between c. 516 BCE and c. 70 CE. It gave name to the Second Temple period.
The Golden Gate, as it is called in Christian literature, is the only eastern gate of the Temple Mount and one of only two that used to offer access into the city from that side. It has been walled up since medieval times. The date of its construction is disputed and no archaeological work is allowed at the gatehouse, but opinions are shared between a late Byzantine and an early Umayyad date.
The Well of Souls, also known in Christianity and Judaism by the time of the Crusades as the "Holy of Holies", is a partly natural, partly man-made cave located inside the Noble Rock under the Dome of the Rock shrine in Jerusalem. The name "Well of Souls" derives from a medieval Islamic legend that at this place the spirits of the dead can be heard awaiting Judgment Day. The name has also been applied to a depression in the floor of this cave and a hypothetical chamber that may exist beneath it.
The Jerusalem Talmud, also known as the Palestinian Talmud or Talmuda de-Eretz Yisrael, is a collection of Rabbinic notes on the second-century Jewish oral tradition known as the Mishnah. Naming this version of the Talmud after the Land of Israel rather than Jerusalem is considered more accurate by some, as while the work was certainly composed in "the West", i.e. in the Holy Land, it mainly originates from the Galilee rather than from Jerusalem in Judea, as no Jews lived in Jerusalem at this time. The Jerusalem Talmud was compiled in the Land of Israel, then divided between the Byzantine provinces of Palaestina Prima and Palaestina Secunda, and was brought to an end sometime around 400. The Jerusalem Talmud predates its counterpart, the Babylonian Talmud, by about 200 years, and is written in both Hebrew and Jewish Palestinian Aramaic.
The Seventeenth of Tammuz is a Jewish fast day commemorating the breach of the walls of Jerusalem before the destruction of the Second Temple. It falls on the 17th day of the 4th Hebrew month of Tammuz and marks the beginning of the three-week mourning period leading up to Tisha B'Av.
The Holy of Holies or HaDvir is a term in the Hebrew Bible which refers to the inner sanctuary of the Tabernacle where God's presence appeared. According to Hebrew Tradition, the area was defined by four pillars which held up the veil of the covering, under which the Ark of the Covenant was held above the floor. The Ark according to Hebrew Scripture contained the Ten Commandments, which were given by God to Moses on Mount Sinai. King Solomon built the Temple in Jerusalem, where the Ark of the Covenant was supposed to be kept.
The Nine Days of Av are a time of commemoration and spiritual observance in Judaism during the first nine days of the Jewish month of Av. The Nine Days begin on Rosh Chodesh Av and culminates on the public fast day of Tisha B'Av.
Bava Batra is the third of the three Talmudic tractates in the Talmud in the order Nezikin; it deals with a person's responsibilities and rights as the owner of property. It is part of Judaism's oral law. Originally it, together with Bava Kamma and Bava Metzia, formed a single tractate called Nezikin.
Terumah, Terumoh, Terimuh, or Trumah is the nineteenth weekly Torah portion in the annual Jewish cycle of Torah reading and the seventh in the Book of Exodus. The parashah tells of God's instructions to make the Tabernacle and its furnishings. The parashah constitutes Exodus 25:1–27:19. It is made up of 4,692 Hebrew letters, 1,145 Hebrew words, 96 verses, and 155 lines in a Torah Scroll. Jews in the Diaspora read it the nineteenth Sabbath after Simchat Torah, generally in February and rarely in early March.
Tetzaveh, Tetsaveh, T'tzaveh, or T'tzavveh is the 20th weekly Torah portion in the annual Jewish cycle of Torah reading and the eighth in the Book of Exodus. The parashah reports God's commands to bring olive oil for the lamp, make sacred garments for the priests, conduct an ordination ceremony, and make an incense altar.
Yoma is the fifth tractate of Seder Moed of the Mishnah and of the Talmud. It is concerned mainly with the laws of the Jewish holiday Yom Kippur, on which Jews atone for their sins from the previous year. It consists of eight chapters and has a Gemara ("Completion") from both the Jerusalem Talmud and the Babylonian Talmud.
Tractate Middot is the tenth tractate of Seder Kodashim of the Mishnah and of the Talmud. This tractate describes the dimensions and the arrangement of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, and the Second Temple buildings and courtyards, various gates, the altar of sacrifice and its surroundings, and the places where the Priests and Levites kept watch in the Temple.
Shabbat, lit. "Sabbath") is the first tractate of Seder Moed of the Mishnah and of the Talmud. The tractate deals with the laws and practices regarding observing the Jewish Sabbath. The tractate focuses primarily on the categories and types of activities prohibited on the Sabbath according to interpretations of many verses in the Torah, notably Exodus 20:9–10 and Deut. 5:13–14.
Leen Ritmeyer is a Dutch-born archaeological architect who currently lives and works in Wales, after having spent 22 years (1967–89) in Jerusalem.
According to the Biblical narrative, Solomon's Temple, also known as the First Temple, was a temple in Jerusalem built under King Solomon's reign and completed in 957 BCE. The Temple was looted and then destroyed in 586/587 BCE at the hands of the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar II, who also deported the Jews to Babylon. The destruction of the temple and the deportation were seen as fulfillments of prophecy and strengthened Judaic religious beliefs.
The Eastern Wall is an ancient structure in Jerusalem that is both part of the eastern side of the city wall of Jerusalem and the eastern wall of the ancient Temple Mount.
Biblical mile is a unit of distance on land, or linear measure, principally used by Jews during the Herodian dynasty to ascertain distances between cities and to mark the Sabbath limit, equivalent to about ⅔ of an English statute mile, or what was about four furlongs (stadia). The basic Jewish traditional unit of distance was the cubit, each cubit being roughly between 46–60 centimetres (18–24 in) The standard measurement of the biblical mile, or what is sometimes called tǝḥūm šabbat, was 2,000 cubits.
Temple in antis is an architectural design that took popularity in Syria and other parts of the Levant starting in the Early Bronze Age and persisting until the Iron Age. Arriving from Northern Syria weather from Assyrian of Amorite diffusion, the temples share similar caraterizitse with some home designs from Anatolia in modern Turkey. Most of the Temples follow similar design plans making it easy to track their spread across the Levant. These temples give us a glimpse into the religious practises and urbanisation that took place in the Levant during the Bronze and Iron Age.