Pt. 3


            -          Has the Scripture been Broken?

-          The Scattering of Israel

-          Have the Jews Returned?

-          The Times of the Gentiles

-          When Will the Jews Possess the Mount?

-          The Defilement of the Holy Place

-          The Coming One Whose Right It Is

The Bible pattern has always been clear: God's people must obey in order to receive His blessing. Disobedience would bring scattering among the heathen. For decades our denomination taught that the Jews would never return to Jerusalem. But, then, in 1967 they returned! Our Church became silent on the subject.

What had happened? Had the Scripture been broken? Here are several facts we need to consider:

(1) If the Jews were scattered because of disobedience, they could only return because they had changed their ways and were now obeying. But this has not happened. How then could they be said to have returned? Have they really returned? Exactly what was predicted?

(2) The Jews have indeed returned to management of Jerusalem, but they have not regained control of the Temple Mount. Because of that, they cannot rebuild the Temple, and restore the ancient rituals of the Jewish religion. Until that happens, they have not really "returned" to Jerusalem. They lack full governmental authority.

(3) More specifically than being carried away from their own land, the Bible prediction was that, If they disobeyed, the Jews would be scattered among the heathen. As long as they remain among the heathen, the fulfillment of the Bible prophecies remain in place; they have not been reversed, obsoleted, or broken. The Jews today live among the heathen In Jerusalem; both Christians and Muslims are all about them. (The Biblical word, "Gentile," means "the nations" or "non-Jews," so it would include Arabs as well as other non-Jewish peoples.)

Indeed, Gentile tourists from all over the world tread upon the sacred Mount every day. Old Testament law prohibited that. The entire top of the Temple site is now a Muslim shrine; few Jews go there. They dare not even put a small synagogue in the corner of that spacious 35-acre area. Yet every Jew knows it ought to be the most sacred place in their hearts and religion. But what are they to do? They cannot worship the true God in or near a Muslim mosque. And they dare not remove a board of the two Islamic shrines on that Mount.

Thus, in several ways, the prediction remains unbroken. God's Word is true, and has not been nullified.

The punishment of being mingled with the Gentiles, in lands not fully theirs, is referred to as "the times of the Gentiles" (Luke 21:24). Those times have not ceased: [1] The Jews remain among the Gentiles to this day. [2] The Gentiles continue to tread across the Jewish holy place. [3] The holy place of the Jews to be dedicated to a pagan deity, not to the God of Israel. (Read Islamic literature to find out what that their religion and their god is like. Arabs are told that, if they die killing Jews and Christians, they will immediately go to heaven where they will forever have carnal feasts of food, liquor, and women.)

So, until these conditions are met, the Jews cannot be said to have genuinely "returned to Jerusalem." For centuries, they were scattered among the nations; today they are still scattered among the nations, and also scattered in their own land among the nations. Till the second coming of Christ, they will dwell among Gentiles, and Gentiles will worship in their holy place.

God has been faithful to His Word-His prophecies-down through the ages. Just now let us view, in the history of Jerusalem, the truthfulness of that statement. God IS true to His Word; the Jerusalem story verifies that His Word has not been broken. Nor will It ever be disannulled or proved untrue:

Standing on the north end of a clump of hills In the Judean highlands, you will sight down a rift between two low mountains. Walking down It, you will pass a garden on the slope of the eastern hill. To the right, there are walls on the other hill. Farther down the valley, you will come to a cave partway up the slope on the right. Entering it, you will descend stairs to a cool spring. You have come to where history began for this entire area over 4,000 years ago. This Is the Gihon spring.

Let us return again to that time, and, from thence, travel down through the ages and watch history unfold before us. That Is not difficult to do, for we have come to Jerusalem.

It is about the year 2078 B.C., and a man and his son journey to a distant mountain to offer sacrifice. But, having arrived at Mount Moriah, an angel intervenes and points to a ram in the thicket. Abraham returns home with his beloved son Isaac, thankful that God Himself is going to provide the Lamb (Genesis 22).

Interestingly enough, it was only about three years earlier that, as the battle of four kings against five ended, Melchizedek, king of Salem, came out and blessed Abraham (Genesis 14:18). From the best we can tell, Salem was a village close to Mount Moriah. That spring probably brought Melchizedek here also.

Several hundred years pass and roving Jebusites discover the place. The mountain really is not much, but it has this terrific spring on its side. A good place to build a fortified town. Later still, about 1400 B.C., the Israelites partially conquer Jerusalem but permit the Jebusites to retain control of it (Judges 1:8, 21).

But now, it is about 998 B.C., and the Israelites have a new king. David grew up only three miles from this hill with its excellent spring. Standing on Olivet Mountain to the east, David gazes down upon the spring called Gihon (which means "gushing" in the Hebrew), and sees the fortified ridge above it, called the Ophel. Having just marched from Hebron, and being told that the Gihon has the best water supply in the area, David decides to conquer the town and make it his capital. Even today, that spring is the only natural source of fresh water in the area. Because the spring was outside and below the town walls, the Jebusites dug a shaft straight down, and then tunneled over to the spring. Joab crawled through the waterway, and then climbed that shaft and opened the gates. The story is told in 2 Samuel 5:6-10 and 1 Chronicles 11:4-6.

That little Jebusite town was only 11 acres in area, but under David's rule it was to become the capital of a powerful young nation.

Just below David's palace was the threshing floor of Araunah, the Jebusites. (2 Samuel 24:18). Having seen the angel of death pause in that field, David asked Araunah to sell it to him so he could build a temple there. The ram caught in a thicket, over a thousand years before, was in that field, which was earlier called Moriah (Genesis 22:2, 8, 13).

When it came time for Solomon to build the Temple, his workmen found a gigantic rock slab in the center of it. You can view it today in the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount. It measures about 50 by 60 feet, has a slight slope, and, except for a few chisel marks, remains in its original state. That rock lay at the center of Solomon's Temple worship for over 1500 years before the Muslims considered it a holy site. Was this same rocky prominence the same place where Araunah threshed his grain, and let the chaff blow away? Was it the exact location where Abraham earlier had offered Isaac? It is commonly believed that this is so. Somewhere on this hill, long ago, all those events occurred.

Solomon's massive Temple was erected here (1 Kings 5-6; 2 Chronicles 2-4). Later, it was plundered by Shishak, king of Egypt (1 Kings 14:2526). Later still, Jehoash, king of Israel, breaks down the walls of the city and plunders the Temple again (2 Kings 14:13-14).

In 725 B.C., Hezekiah was crowned king of the southern kingdom of Judah. Only four years later, the Assyrians would conquer the northern kingdom of Israel (Samaria) and carry its inhabitants captive to faraway lands. At about the time of the end of the northern kingdom, Hezekiah decided it was time to safeguard Jerusalem's water supply. So he assigned workmen to make a 1,75O-foot tunnel, with an average height of six feet, from Gihon to the Siloam Pool inside the city. From that time onward, the waters of the Gihon flowed into the city. The outside entrance to the Gihon was covered over, and steps were built inside the walls to the Siloam Pool (2 Kings 20:20).

Not long after completing the tunnel (known as "Hezekiah's conduit"), the Assyrians encamped around the city. But, in answer to prayer, God sent an angel who slew 185,000 Assyrian soldiers in one night (2 Kings 19; 2 Chronicles 32). An interesting comparison would be Hiroshima where, on August 6, 1945, 100,000 perished. Edward Robinson, in 1838, was the first to explore the shaft and its conduit. The pool is still used today.

Back in those days, the entire city of Jerusalem was about 175 acres in size, nearly square, and surrounded by about two and a half miles of walls. Thirty-five of those acres comprise what is the present Temple Mount (although, back then, the Mount was only half that size). To this city came the ark of the covenant, the Queen of Sheba, and Solomon's peacocks. To it also came Nebuchudnezzar. In three sieges, he took its people captive and burned the city with fire. (2 Chronicles 36:17-19). He carried them to a city with over 50 temples and 1,300 altars to strange gods.

To Jerusalem came Zerubbabel and Ezra with 50,000 returning Jews to the torn-down city. To it also came Nehemiah, who circled its walls one night and later completed them, 142 years after Nebuchudnezzar destroyed them in 586 B.C.

To it also came Pompey, the Roman general who, after besieging the city three times, made Palestine subject to Rome in 63 B.C. A young Edomite, by the name of Herod, was only 10 years old at the time. Twenty-six years later he also would come to Jerusalem, as its ruler.

In the 18th year of his reign (19 B.C.). this same Herod the Great began rebuilding the Temple. To begin with, he flattened out and enlarged the Temple Mount, from its former size of 17 acres to its present twice-as-large squarish shape of 35 acres. Then he began work on the Temple itself, work which would continue on past his death. According to Josephus, 10,000 workmen labored at the task of preparing the Mount and the Temple. The sanctuary itself was completed in 18 months, but the entire Temple was not finished until A.D. 64, only 6 years before it was destroyed.

To Jerusalem also came Jesus. He had been born less than three miles away. Early in His ministry, Satan carried Him to the top of one of the pinnacles of the Temple, intent on His death. To the east of those walls was Mount Olivet, where Jesus pled with God for strength to die for us. Within the walls was the courtyard of the Antonia (the Lithostrotos) where He was condemned to death. Just north of the walls, lies Calvary, where He died as our Sacrifice, in order to become our Mediator in the heavenly Sanctuary.

To this city also came Peter, James, and Paul. To it also came Titus.

The Temple that Solomon built lasted 365 years in a Jerusalem that knew 20 kings and two of her greatest prophets, Isaiah and Jeremiah. But in the end, it was destroyed, never to be rebuilt. It took the Roman Empire seven years to conquer the land. Before it was done, Josephus, an eyewitness historian, said it "was all over filled with fire and blood."

We are acquainted with the story of how Cestius, after laying Jerusalem under siege, suddenly withdrew. The Jews, sallying forth after him, struck his army so heavily on the rear that they took his siege machines, and killed 5,300 footmen and 380 horsemen. "Running and singing," Josephus tells us, they returned to the city. It was the end of October, A.D. 67, and the 12th year of Nero's reign.

In February, Nero sent Vespasian, a 58-year-old general who had earlier commanded a legion in Germany. Successful wherever he turned, Vespasian finally headed toward Jerusalem. But then, on June 9, A.D. 68, he learned that Nero, to escape execution by revolutionaries, had committed suicide. Hurrying to Rome, Vespasian became emperor and the tenth of the twelve Caesars.

Titus, elder son of the new emperor, continued the battles. Only 30 years of age, on May 10, A.D. 70, he arrived at the walls of Jerusalem. After a four 3 and-a-half-month siege, he destroyed it.

The time had come when, according to Josephus, "girdles and shoes and the very leather from shields was chewed upon, when children and young men wandered about the marketplace like shadows, some even searching the common sewers and old dunghills of cattle for something to eat, when terrible methods of torment were invented by robbers to discover where food was hidden."

The country within a twelve-mile radius was stripped of trees. They were cut down for siege machines and crosses. As many as 500 Jews were crucified on them every day, within full view of the city that, nearly 40 years earlier, had crucified their Lord and Saviour.

The destruction of Jerusalem began where it had first been predicted decades earlier. Titus had moved from his first encampment, about four miles from the walls, to the top of Olivet. Sallying forth from the city, a large band of maddened Jews fell on them. It was a bitter struggle; but, returning to the city, the Jews prepared for the coming siege.

With the help of battering rams, earthen embankments, 75-foot towers, and machines which could hurl immense stones 500 yards, the Romans gained possession of the two outer walls in 25 days of intense fighting.

Before them now lay the Fortress Antonia. Just beyond it was the Temple sanctuary itself. At this juncture, Titus, who feared having to destroy such a beautiful city and its Temple, stopped fighting, and occupied the next four days in parading his troops before the embattled Jews as they gazed down from the walls. Josephus, former commander of the Jewish forces in Galilee having been captured and changing sides, came forward and, hiding behind protective shields, pled with them in their own language to lay down their arms. He told them that none would die if they surrendered that day. When they replied with a shower of darts, he recounted Jewish history and pled with them some more. But all his efforts were in vain.

Four new banks were thrown up against the Antonia in 21 days; and, this time, the fortress was taken. On the south side of that mammoth stone structure was the broad north courtyard surrounding the main sanctuary of the Temple complex. As the Romans poured out through the Antonia break-through, they were met by Jews who seemed as mad men. A terrible struggle ensued, and the Romans were forced back into the Antonia.

But the end was near. Titus now had Josephus plead with the Jews to leave the Temple, so he would not be forced to injure such a glorious building. By now it was nearly the end of July.

 Finally, breaking through the walls of the fortress, the Romans entered the court area behind the sanctuary itself. Titus had given orders to spare the structure, but a soldier slipped a torch into an upper window, and immediately the house was in flames. We will let Josephus describe it for us:

Attacked by the Jews as they came through the wall of the Antonia, they drove the Jews back "as far as the holy house itself. At which time one of the soldiers, without staying for any orders, being hurried on by a certain divine fury and being lifted up by another soldier, set fire to a golden window, through which there was a passage to the rooms that were about the holy house on the north side of it . . the fatal day had come, it was the 10th day of the month of Ab upon which it was formerly burnt by the King of Babylon." -Josephus, Wars of the Jews.

In vain did Titus try to order his soldiers to quench the flames. His men ignored him, and rushed upon the Jews violently, slaying them in large numbers.

"And thus was the holy house burnt down, without Caesar's approbation. . 1300 years, seven months and 15 days after the laying of its first foundation by King Solomon,"

Like Pompey a century before, Titus also stood in the Holy of Holies and marveled at what he saw.

Three more weeks were required to finish off the city; even though, during that time, the Jews holed up in various quarters of the city and did little fighting. Losing the Temple had finished them, and they knew it. Until their Temple was rebuilt, they could never be a nation again.

That is true, but that will never happen, for they will never rebuild their Temple.

Josephus estimated the final casualty figures of slain Jews in the siege at 1,100,000.

"This was the end which Jerusalem came to by the madness of those that were for innovations; a city otherwise of great magnificence and of mighty fame among all mankind."

Large numbers of captives were sent throughout the empire to serve as slaves or die in the arenas of the provinces. As for Titus, he returned to Rome, where he and his emperor father marched in a victory parade, and struck a coin depicting Judea as a woman, bound and weeping, sitting beneath a palm tree.

"This was the end of Jerusalem," Josephus wrote as an epitaph to the story. But not yet. There is more. Most of us are fairly well-acquainted with all that we have so far related. But there is more than that to the narrative of Jerusalem.

Let us now turn the pages of history to the part that so few know about.

Thirty miles to the west of Jerusalem, a few men secretly gathered together in a room in the little town of Jamina. Thus began a new Jewish leadership council, replacing the now defunct Sanhedrin. Unfortunately, in AD. 132, the leaders gave their support to the Simon Bar Kockba (Kochbah; "Simon, son of the star").

The trouble started when Emperor Hadrian (A.D. 117-138) decided to build a shrine to Jupiter on the sacred Temple Mount at Jerusalem. Jews today try to ignore the fact that a heathen temple is on the Temple Mount, but, in AD. 132-135, the Jewish people rallied to the cause, overcame the small Roman garrison in Jerusalem, and began guerrilla warfare throughout Judea. But the Roman general, Julius Severus, was victor after a three-year war. Over half a million Jews died; captives were sold for the price of a horse; and Jerusalem was renamed, Aelia Capitolina. For the next 200 years, no Jew was permitted in the city.

Constantine I (AD. 274-337) is well known to us as the Roman emperor who made the first Sunday law in history. While he was busy enacting six of them, his mother, Helena, a Christian, traveled to Jerusalem and tried to locate the birthplace, last supper, Gethsemane experience, crucifixion, grave, and ascension of Jesus. Whether or not the correct sites were located is a question; but at each of these locations, a church was built.

The Empress Eudocia, wife of Theodosius II, carried on the work of establishing and endowing churches, hospices, and monasteries in Jerusalem and Palestine. In addition, she completed a new wall around Jerusalem that her husband had earlier started in AD. 413.

She also gave Jews legal status to again live in Jerusalem. They had "returned to Jerusalem," but what a sorry return. They did not have authority to rebuild their Temple. Without it, they were just wanderers and sojourners, as they had been everywhere else.

It is of interest that the God of heaven has never permitted the rebuilding of that Temple. Eighty years before Eudocia let the Jews return to Jerusalem, Emperor Julian "the Apostate," decreed that the Jewish Temple should be rebuilt in Jerusalem. Work began on the project-but quickly came to an end. Gas in an underground passage was ignited by a torch. A powerful explosion ripped through the area, and men refused to return to work, declaring that God's curse was on the project.

No attempt was ever again made to rebuild the Jewish Temple on the Temple Mount at Jerusalem.

Then, about 400 years later, the Muslims came along and declared the Temple Mount to be one of THEIR holy places, and that forever ended the likelihood that the Jews would be able to erect the Temple on the only site in the world where it can be located.

Gradually, the barbarians conquered the West, finally sacking Rome in A.D. 476. Jerusalem was to continue on but a little longer as a Christian city. In the sixth century, Emperor Justinian (527-565) sent troops to Jerusalem, because the Samaritans had risen in revolt over taxation, and burned some Christian churches outside Jerusalem. Repairs were made and additional churches were built. Tourists and pilgrims came in large numbers, and it looked like prosperous times were ahead.

Then Chosroes I (590-628), the king of Persia, decided to conquer the world and set out to do it. In the process, he conquered Syria, Palestine, Egypt, and Asia Minor. On May 20, 614, he came to Jerusalem and lay siege to it.

Ironically, the Jews were on the side of the victors in this battle. But it did them little good. The city and the surrounding area was devastated. Every Christian church was destroyed, and nearly everything else with it. It is said that there was so much destruction that Jerusalem has still not recovered fully from it. Once again, the Jews had returned to Jerusalem; but, once again, they were not permitted to rebuild their Temple.

Fifteen years later, the Byzantine Emperor Heraclius (610-641) led an army into Palestine; and, in 622, he reconquered Jerusalem and sent Chosroes back to his capital of Ctesiphon. It was March of 629 when Heraclius entered Jerusalem. Declaring it to be a Christian city, he forbade the Jews entry.

But this Christian paradise was to last only ten years. A storm was brewing that, when it hit, would wipe out Christianity from the area for most of the next millennium and more.

About the year 570, a man was born in Mecca. His name was Muhammad (A.D. 570-632; also called Mohammed and Mahomet). He was raised by his uncle as a goat herder in the hills near the town; and, when he was 40, he decided that he was a prophet, that Christ was only a forerunner of his, and it was time to start writing the Koran. In July 622, he fled from Mecca (the Hegira); and eight years later returned at the head of 10,000 followers. The rest is history.

From the deserts of Arabia was to pour out a religious and political force which would shock the world. It overran the Persian empire, the Eastern Roman Empire, and by the end of the century was to stretch from Spain to the borders of India.

Damascus fell in 635, and Jerusalem in 638. But this time without bloodshed. The Patriarch Sophronius quietly surrendered the city to the Caliph Omar (Muhammad's second successor) on the summit of the Mount of Olives.

Immediately, Omar asked to be taken to the Temple Mount. Arriving there, he searched till he found its most sacred spot: that hewn, flat rock outcropping. In the intervening centuries, garbage had been tossed into the area; he now had it carefully cleared away. Shortly thereafter, he built the first Muslim building over the spot. (That is why, the place is often but incorrectly-called "the Mosque of Omar. ")

From that simple beginning, came our present Dome of the Rock (Qubbat al-Sakhra). Abd-al-Mallik started to build it in 687, after tearing down Omar's little shack. In the shape of a double octagon of exquisitely patterned marble tiles, this building was finished in 691. It stands in Jerusalem today.

From that time to this, the Dome of the Rock has been considered the third most sacred place in the Muslim world (after Mecca and Medina). Why? Because of a legend: Muhammad is said not to have died, but to have ascended to heaven on a black horse. He did it by riding his steed onto the sacred rock in Jerusalem, and then flying upward into the skies. For this reason, the Arabs named Jerusalem al-Quds (the Holy City). The Temple Mount, they have named Haram es Sharif (the Place of the Noble Sanctuary).

Once again, Jews could live in Jerusalem and Christians also! Interestingly enough, the Muslims gave both more freedom than they had given each other. The Christians could worship in their churches, and the Jews could pray by the Wailing Wall, but only Arabs could worship at the Temple Mount.

So, the situation back then was about the same as it is today. If you go to Jerusalem today, the Christians worship in their churches, and the Jews pray at the Wailing Wall. It is true that, unlike earlier centuries, every type of Gentile can now tread on the Temple Mount, but the temples on the Mount are all Muslim and no Jew nor Christian would want to worship there.

The situation greatly changed in 969, when a new line of Muslims took control of Palestine. These were the Fatimid Caliphs of Egypt; and, beginning in 1009, EI-Hakim gradually destroyed 30,000 Christian churches and shrines in Palestine and Asia Minor. Then a new power arose. In 1071 the Seljuk Turks entered the land from Central Asia, conquering everything in their path. In 1077, Jerusalem fell, and this cruel, warlike people devastated the land.

Although different in their treatment of the peoples, the lines of Omar, Fatimid, and the Seljuks were all Muslims. Although they destroyed Christian churches they did permit Jews to remain in the land and even in Jerusalem. So, once again the Jews had returned to Jerusalem. But they could not rebuild the Temple.

Probably most significant of all, from the time of the destruction of Jerusalem in AD. 70 down to our own time, not once have Jews ever been able to live in Jerusalem without having Gentiles (non-Jews) living there also, treading the Temple Mount and worshiping there. Bible prophecy remains intact.

It was inevitable that the Fatimids and Seljuks should bring a reaction from the West. When the nations of Europe heard of the devastation carried on in Palestine against Christian shrines, a growing interest developed to send troops to conquer the land and place it under European control. It had been nearly 300 years since Charlemagne had encouraged large-scale pilgrimages to Jerusalem and the construction and endowment of church buildings. So, in spite of the fact that they were busy in Europe "going on crusades" to hunt down those holding to primitive Bible beliefs, such as the Sabbath, several European nations also banded together to save Palestine from the "infidel".

The first bands marched eastward in A.D. 1096. Some were destroyed by the Turks, others had partial success. Eventually, on June 6, 1099, one group of less than 50,000 (led by Godfrey de Bouillon and his brother Baldwin) reached Jerusalem. After six weeks of siege, on the morning of July 16, the walls were penetrated. The "Christians" entered and slew Muslims and Jews wherever they could find them. Historians record that they slew them without mercy.

A feudal kingdom was set up by these "crusaders," and it was to control Jerusalem and Palestine for nearly a hundred years. Kings were set up in Jerusalem, who, with lords and barons, divided and ruled the country. A language resembling Norman French was spoken, and the area under control reached its maximum size about 1140, when Beirut in the north to the Negev on the east were under crusader control.

Jews were unwelcome in Jerusalem; Christian churches were rebuilt; new ones were added (nearly 40 in all); and a wave of religious tourists began visiting the area. The Temple Mount received attention also: Godfrey set his first army headquarters in the AI-Aqsa mosque south of the Dome of the Rock. As for the major Muslim shrine on the Mount, the Dome of the Rock, a cross was placed on it, iron railings around it, and the site became the center of Christian worship in Jerusalem for the next 80 years. This would be the only time in all of history that Christian worship was centered on the Temple Mount. Never before or after would this occur. Yet it was all done in the existing Muslim shrines; no Christian churches were erected there.

Interestingly enough, in the large rooms beneath the Mount, the crusaders stabled their horses and carved crosses on the stone walls. It is also intriguing that the crusaders knew so little about Jerusalem history that they thought the Qubbat al-Sakhra (the Dome of the Rock) was the Temple which Solomon had built! That is why they did not tear it down.

Additional crusades were raised to eliminate the Turks entirely, but suffered defeat at their hands. Then, on July 4, 1187, a battle was fought near the Horns of Hattin by the Sea of Galilee, in which the king of Jerusalem, Guy de Lusignan, was defeated by a young Kurdish chief, named Saladin. Heading south, Saladin took Caesarea, Nablus, Jaffa, and Jericho, and then headed toward Jerusalem.

Mounting siege equipment near Stephen's Gate in the upper Kidron Valley, he began his assault. On October 2, the city surrendered. No bloodshed followed. The wealthy bought their freedom and all Muslims, Christians, and Jews settled down to peaceful living. Again the Jews returned to Jerusalem; but, without authority to carry through the rebuilding of their beloved Temple, the ownership of the land was not returned to them.

The first act of Muslim invaders was to remove the cross from the Dome of the Rock. From that day to thiseven past the 1967 six-day war in which the Israelis regained control of the rest of the city,the crescent still dominates the temple area. For all practical purposes, Islam still owns it.

After Saladin's victory, battles and treaties between the Arabs and crusaders followed, from time to time, with varying results-including occasional rights for Christian tourists to visit Jerusalem.

Ghengis Khan stirred up the next storm to hit Palestine. In 1244 a Tatar tribe called the Khwarizmians, driven south from Lake Aral in Central Asia by Ghengis Khan, swept through Syria and put Jerusalem to the sword. The last beachheads of the crusaders in the Near East and North Africa were destroyed with the fall of Tripoli in 1289 and Acre in 1291. The Crusader Period (A. D. 1099-1187) was totally at an end.

For the next 500 years, Jerusalem nearly passed out of history. Through 267 years of Egyptian (Mameluke) rule (1250-1517), and 396 years of Ottoman Turk rule (1444-1840), the Jews were again permitted to live near and frequently in Jerusalem. But the Muslim shrines on the Temple Mount continued to make it a city of Islam.

It is estimated that, by the end of the 15th century, Jerusalem had a population of 15,000; all Muslim except for about 1,000 Christians and 300 Jews. With each passing century, the climate was changing: northern lands were warming up and the Near East was becoming more and more a bake oven. Jerusalem and its surroundings was fast being transformed into a dry desert.

Gradually Jerusalem fell into greater decay. One bright spot was the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent (15201566). During his rule of Jerusalem, he rebuilt the city walls and improved the water supply from Gihon into the city. A number of inscriptions throughout the City describe his improvements; all are dated between 1537 and 1541.

High taxes and lack of improvements nearly destroyed everything in the centuries which followed. Because every tree was taxed, residents cut them down so they would not have to pay as much to the Arab IRS. By the end of the 18th century. there were hardly any trees in Palestine.

CONTINUE PART 4 - Jerusalem and the Mount- concluded