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1000-Year-Old Arabic Inscription Discovered in West Bank Mosque Calls Temple Mount by Its Jewish Name

At a conference on Thursday, archaeologists Assaf Avraham and Perez Reuven presented an ancient Muslim inscription that refers to the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount as “Bait al-Maqdess,” an Arabicized transliteration of the Hebrew words for the Temple, Beit Hamikdash. It was found in an excavation of the central mosque in the village of Nuba near Hebron.

The conference also presented other sources from the early Muslim period referring to the Dome of the Rock as “al-Maqdess” and showed that Jewish rites were adopted by Muslims.

“At the start of the Muslim period, religious rites were held inside the Dome of the Rock compound that imitated the ceremonies conducted in the Jewish Temple,” Avraham said. “The people who conducted those ceremonies would purify themselves, change their clothes, burn incense, anoint the rock with oil, place curtains around the Foundation Stone, just like the ornamental curtain that existed in the [Jewish] Temple. Those worshippers would wear ceremonial clothing and use incense burners over the Foundation Stone.” 

These actions teach that the Muslims saw the Dome of the Rock as the continuance of the Jewish Temple and kept Jewish practices before the Muslim doctrine attained its final form.

Avraham added, “There is plenty of evidence that shows the Jewish influence on the Muslim world at the beginning of Islam. We can take notice of Muslim coins minted in the Land of Israel in the eighth century by Muslim rulers, which feature the symbol of the menorah of the Temple.”

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