Nestled in the Judean hill directly West of the Mt. of Olives stands Mt. Moriah, the Temple Mount. If Jerusalem is considered the Holy City, it is certainly considered so in part due to the significance of this mountain. Its significance stretches through nearly all of Biblical history, beginning, as all things do, in Genesis.
Abraham & Mt. Moriah
The first mention of Moriah in the Bible is when God commands Abraham to sacrifice his only son Isaac. Abraham builds an altar to the Lord, presumably on Mt. Moriah, and binds the son God had promised to make into a great nation. But just as Abraham is about to kill Isaac, God intervenes, providing a ram for the sacrifice and blessing Abraham for his radical obedience. On Mt. Moriah God swears once again to bless all the world through Abraham.
The First Temple
About 1,000 years later David purchased the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite, just North of the City of David on Mt. Moriah. This would become the site of the first temple, Solomon’s temple. Its construction is described in 1 Kings 5-9, and it was magnificent. God’s spirit filled the Temple upon its completion, and so God’s very presence dwelt on Mt. Moriah among his chosen people.
The Second Temple
Tragically Solomon’s temple did not last forever. God’s presence departed the temple, and Babylonian invaders destroyed it in 586 BC. When a remnant returned to the land nearly 50 years later they were permitted to re-build, but the second temple was paltry compared to Solomon’s. All who remembered the glory of the former temple mourned.
Yeshua & Mt. Moriah
Though a temple once again stood on Mt. Moriah, 400 years passed before God’s presence returned to Mt. Moriah in the person of Yeshua. During the intervening years, Herod the Great completed massive renovations on the second temple, enlarging it beyond what even Solomon had built. This was the temple of Yeshua, where he was brought as a baby, astounded rabbis as a boy, and ministered to masses as a man.
Mt. Moriah Today
Today the Dome of the Rock sits atop Mt. Moriah. However many of the stones that make up the walls of the Temple Mount are the very stones that stood in Yeshua’s day. These and many other artifacts from Mt. Moriah’s long and significant history can be still be seen today at the Temple Mount excavations in Jerusalem.