Thursday, December 09, 2021

And That German Knight Then Visited the Temple Mount (Another, Too)

See my previous post on the book, "The Pilgrimage of Arnold von Harff / Knight / from Cologne, through Italy, Syria, Egypt, Arabia, Ethiopia, Nubia, Palestine, Turkey, France and Spain, which he Accomplished in the years 1496-1499

Starting on page 207.

we came to the Temple of Solomon® which stands one hundred and sixty paces from the temple of Christ. Item, by means of gifts and other friendly help, I was taken by a Mameluke into this temple. But no Christian or Jew is suffered to enter there or draw near, since they say and maintain that we are base dogs, and not worthy to go to the holy places on pain of death, at which I was frightened. But this Mameluke instructed me that if I would go with him one evening, dressed in his manner, he would take me into the Temple, and that if I was recognised I was to reply like a heathen with the words and speech, and to use the words and make the signs which I was forced to use when it happened that I was imprisoned at Gazera, as I have related above, ^ whereupon the heathen would show me honour and suffer me to go, as indeed happened. Item the Mameluke fetched me one evening from the monastery at Mt. Sion and took me to his house, in pretence that I should have spent the night -with him, where he dressed me in the clothes and apparelled me like a Mameluke. Thus we both made our way at evening towards the Temple of Solomon which, by his direction, was opened and forthwith closed so that we should not be crowded: for this I had to give four ducats. 

Item this Temple of Solomon is a fine round and lofty church roofed with lead. Around it is a churchyard, without buildings, which is all paved with large white marble stones, as it is also within. I measured the inside of the church. In length it is seventy-two paces and fifty wide. In the Temple there are thirty-two fine marble pillars, which support the vaulting of the church. In this Temple, eastwards, is a small round tabernacle or chapel five feet long and broad, placed on twelve pillars, a spear’s height from the ground, in which the heathen priests now pray and hold their services. It is held in great reverence and regarded as a holy place, and many ampullae burn there continually. Formerly the Jews held this tabernacle or chapel in great honour and reverence, and regarded it as a holy place, for on it stood the Ark of God, in which was their holy treasure, namely the two tables which Almighty God gave to Moses on Mt. Oreb, on which were written the Ten Commandments, also Aaron’s rod. Therein lay also the written word of God, also the rod with which Moses smote the Red Sea and it was divided, with many other holy things, which the Jews held in great reverence before the birth of Christ. Item beneath this tabernacle is a small piece of rock enclosed with an iron railing, called the holy rock,^ on which many wonders and miracles of God have been performed, for instance Melchisedek, the Priest, offered on this rock wine and bread to the God in Heaven. Also Jacob, the Patriarch, lay sleeping with his head on this rock, and saw a ladder set up from this rock to heaven, upon which the angels of God ascended and descended. When he awoke he said: ‘surely this is a holy place, and I knew it not.’ On this rock King David saw an angel standing with an outstretched naked sword. Further the Jewish priests made their sacrifices to God on this rock. Our Lord Jesus also wrought many miracles on this rock, which the Mameluke could not declare to me. The heathen hold this rock in great reverence, and have very many lamps burning there. 

Item on the left in this Temple there is an altar almost like ours, for it is open on all sides. Here formerly the Jews made their sacrifices, offering doves, hens and turtle-doves to God in heaven. But the heathen have now set a compass [dial] on the rock so that by it, in their manner, they may know the hours. Beside this altar Zacharias was slain. 

Item this Temple of Solomon has four doors by which one may enter. The doors are all made of ancient cypress wood and are carved with ancient histories. Item by the door, to the north, is a square cistern in which the heathen wash the members with which they have sinned by day or night, thinking to cleanse themselves daily by washing, and they do this before they pray, thinking that otherwise their prayers would not be acceptable to God in heaven. This is the cistern or fountain mentioned in the holy writ, wherein it is said ‘I saw the water go in and out’ . Item I saw in this Temple no pictures or figures, as we have in our Churches, but it is a beautiful Temple with many lamps burning, at least five hundred, as I was in fact told and saw with my eyes. Item in this Temple of Solomon our Lord Jesus preached often to the Hebrews, and taught and wrought many miracles there. Here also he drove out the buyers and sellers because they did not observe the Sabbath. Item this is where our Lord Jesus was tempted of the devil and suffered himself to be carried to the summit of Solomon’s Temple. Here also the Jews threw down St. James the Less from the summit of the Temple to his death. 

Item from this Temple, southwards, we came from here to the courtyard of the Temple, through a door called by us Christians Porta Speciosa,^ through which St. Peter and St. John passed when St. Peter healed the lame man, as is told in the Evangelium. Item we went from this Temple eastwards, some twenty-six paces, into a very fine mosque or church called Porticos Salomonis.^ When the Christians possessed Jerusalem it was called the Church of Our Blessed Lady, where for a long time she went to school. 

Item this church, Porticus Salomonis, is much longer than the temple of Solomon. It is finely built and roofed with lead, and has within it forty-two marble pillars and eight hundred lamps, which bum there daily. Since the heathen have this church in great reverence, no Christian or Jew may approach it. 

Item at the end of this church we went down a great staircase into a vault, which was a stable of the Sultan or the Mamelukes, with accommodation for some six hundred horses.® Since the church is wholly vaulted below we could see well, from its appearance, that in Christian times it was a crypt in which Mass was celebrated, as can be seen from the many altars which are still there. Item we went from this crypt into a beautiful little mosque or church, which is built quite close to the church Porticus Salomonis. This was built by the old Sultan Kathubee, who died five years ago and is honourably buried there. A hundred lamps bum there daily 

Item from this church we went some thirty paces to the right hand, westwards, across this fine courtyard which is paved with marble, fifteen paces from the temple of Solomon. We came then to the Golden Door® through which our Lord Jesus rode in on Palm Simday, sitting on an ass. This gate is of cypress wood covered with copper, and is much cut and mutilated. Therefore the heathen guard the doorway closely, so that no Christian may approach it. They have also their cemetery outside the gate towards the Vale of Jehoshaphat, where they bury their dead. Therefore they guard the gate closely against Christians and Jews, whom they regard as more filthy than dogs, lest they should tread on their graves. We broke and cut off many pieces of the wood and copper which I carried back with me. At this gate there is plenary absolution from all sins, both penalty and guilt. 

Item we went from this Golden Gate, westwards, from the courtyard of Solomon’s temple, and came to a pool of standing water, called Probatica Piscina,® where our Lord Jesus worked many miracles. No Christian or Jew may approach it except by secret help. 

Item we went westwards and came to St. Anne’s House,* which the Christians in former times made into a beautiful church, but now the heathen have turned it into their praying house or mosque, so that the Christians cannot enter, but by means of secret help and gifts we were allowed to go in. We went through the transept, and at the side of the church we climbed through a narrow hole in the arch of a large window, being forced to carry lighted candles so that we could see, and came to a little vault in which St. Anne, the mother of our blessed Lady, departed from this earth. We went then to another vault in which our blessed Lady was born. Here is forgiveness of all sins both penalty and guilt. Item next day the Mameluke took me from the church back to Mt. Sion, and no one knew that I had slept the night at the Mameluke’s house. 

The Dome of the Rock was known to medieval travellers as Templum Domini. Most travellers (including Boldensele, p. 261) speak of the lead roof. Von Harff ’s critics have denied the truth of the story of his entry, but he was not the only fifteenth-century traveller to get in. Tafur (p. 61) entered, disguised as a renegade, and describes it as * a single nave, the whole ornamented with gold mosaic work. The floor and walls are of the most beautiful white stones and the place is hung with so many lamps that they all seemed to be joined together’. It was doubtless a dangerous and expensive escapade, but not perhaps as dangerous as was thought. Fabri (ii, p. 257; cp. ii, p. 242 f.) knew a knight who would have got in, if his courage had not failed him at the last moment. Guylforde (p. 44) looked into the vaults through a back door. Cp. Ludolph, p. oB; Casola, pp. Rdhricht-Meisner, p. 30, note i. Mandeville (p. 54) also claims to have entered the Templum Domini, but he had letters under the Sultan’s great seal. There is a long and interesting note in Warner’s edition of Mandeville, p. i8i.  The large edifice on liie S. side of the Temple area, called in the Middle Ages indiscriminately Palatium, Porticuscu Templum Salomonis (Robinson, 1, p. 44a), now the Aksa mosque. For a description, see Gabriel von l^ttenberg (1527), Rdhricht-Meisner, p. 406. * On these extensive vaults, see Robinson, i, p. 446.  ^ The Madrassa (teaching mosque) el Ashrafiya, which stands on the W. boundary of the Haram enclosure. Vincent & Abel, Jirusalem Nouvelle, PT. IV, 1926, p. 981. But Kait Bey was buried in Cairo. ^ Fabri (i, p. 459) says that the Saracens cut off pieces of the plates and nails and sold them to the Christians, who often risked their lives by going there at night and tearing off little pieces. The relics were said to be proof  against apoplexy, falling sickness and plague.  ® Casola (p. 248) saw vestiges of the 5 porches mentioned in John v, 2. Many pilgrims drank the water. Casola adds: ‘When I saw the filth I left it alone, it was enough for me to wash my hands there.* 

* Guylforde (p. 30) notes that the Saracens suffered none to enter except ‘pryvely or for brybes*. Cp. Rohricht, p. 20, note 248, for references to other pilgrims who got in. Breydenbach (1483-84) carried away portions of the stonework which was believed to be good for pregnant women (26 July).  For a description, see De Vogu6, Eglises^ p. 233. It is the best preserved of the crusading edifices.

And here is from the book, The Travels of Sir John Mandeville, a travel memoir which first circulated between 1357 and 1371

And from the church of the sepulchre, toward the east, at eight score paces, is Templum Domini.  It is right a fair house, and it is all round and high, and covered with lead.  And it is well paved with white marble.  But the Saracens will not suffer no Christian man ne Jews to come therein, for they say that none so foul sinful men should not come in so holy place: but I came in there and in other places there I would, for I had letters of the soldan with his great seal, and commonly other men have but his signet.  In the which letters he commanded, of his special grace, to all his subjects, to let me see all the places, and to inform me pleinly all the mysteries of every place, and to conduct p. 55me from city to city, if it were need, and buxomly to receive me and my company, and for to obey to all my requests reasonable if they were not greatly against the royal power and dignity of the soldan or of his law.  And to others, that ask him grace, such as have served him, he ne giveth not but his signet, the which they make to be borne before them hanging on a spear.  And the folk of the country do great worship and reverence to his signet or seal, and kneel thereto as lowly as we do to Corpus Domini.  And yet men do full greater reverence to his letters; for the admiral and all other lords that they be shewed to, before or they receive them, they kneel down; and then they take them and put them on their heads; and after, they kiss them and then they read them, kneeling with great reverence; and then they offer them to do all that the bearer asketh.

And in this Templum Domini were some-time canons regulars, and they had an abbot to whom they were obedient; and in this temple was Charlemagne when that the angel brought him the prepuce of our Lord Jesus Christ of his circumcision; and after, King Charles let bring it to Paris into his chapel, and after that he let bring it to Peyteres, and after that to Chartres.

And ye shall understand, that this is not the temple that Solomon made, for that temple dured not but 1102 year.  For Titus, Vespasian’s son, Emperor of Rome, had laid siege about Jerusalem for to discomfit the Jews; for they put our Lord to death, without leave of the emperor.  And, when he had won the city, he burnt the temple and beat it down, and all the city, and took the Jews and did them to death—1,100,000; and the others he put in prison and sold them to servage,—thirty for one penny; for they said they bought Jesu for thirty pennies, and he made of them better cheap when he gave thirty for one penny.

And after that time, Julian Apostate, that was emperor, gave leave to the Jews to make the temple of Jerusalem, for he hated Christian men.  And yet he was christened, but he forsook his law, and became a renegade.  And p. 56when the Jews had made the temple, came an earthquaking, and cast it down (as God would) and destroyed all that they had made.

And after that, Adrian, that was Emperor of Rome, and of the lineage of Troy, made Jerusalem again and the temple in the same manner as Solomon made it.  And he would not suffer no Jews to dwell there, but only Christian men.  For although it were so that he was not christened, yet he loved Christian men more than any other nation save his own.  This emperor let enclose the church of Saint Sepulchre, and walled it within the city; that, before, was without the city, long time before.  And he would have changed the name of Jerusalem, and have clept it Aelia; but that name lasted not long.

Also, ye shall understand, that the Saracens do much reverence to that temple, and they say, that that place is right holy.  And when they go in they go bare-foot, and kneel many times.  And when my fellows and I saw that, when we came in we did off our shoes and came in bare-foot, and thought that we should do as much worship and reverence thereto, as any of the misbelieving men should, and as great compunction in heart to have.

This temple is sixty-four cubits of wideness, and as many in length; and of height it is six score cubits.  And it is within, all about, made with pillars of marble.  And in the middle place of the temple be many high stages, of fourteen degrees of height, made with good pillars all about: and this place the Jews call Sancta Sanctorum; that is to say, ‘Holy of Hallows.’  And, in that place, cometh no man save only their prelate, that maketh their sacrifice.  And the folk stand all about, in diverse stages, after they be of dignity or of worship, so that they all may see the sacrifice.  And in that temple be four entries, and the gates be of cypress, well made and curiously dight: and within the east gate our Lord said, ‘Here is Jerusalem.’  And in the north side of that temple, within the gate, there is a well, but it runneth nought, of the which holy writ speaketh of and saith, Vidi aquam egredientem de templo; that is to say, ‘I saw water come out of the temple.’

And on that other side of the temple there is a rock that men clepe Moriach, but after it was clept Bethel, where the ark of God with relics of Jews were wont to be put...

...And from that temple towards the south, right nigh, is the temple of Solomon, that is right fair and well polished.  And in that temple dwell the Knights of the Temple that were wont to be clept Templars; and that was the foundation of their order, so that there dwelled knights and in Templo Domini canons regulars.

Temple Mount Fiction: Murder and Mystery

I wondered: how more more books have been published since this review article of mine that appeared in 2008.

Well, there's

Temple Mount by Keith Raffel


Murder Calls on the Temple Mount by Alan Herman


The Temple Mount Code by Charles Brokaw


Alpha and Omega by Harry Turtledove


The Last Secret of the Temple by Paul Sussman


Ah, another I had noted. And another.

Have I missed any you know?


Tuesday, December 07, 2021

A German Knight Learns Hebrew - in 15th Century Jerusalem


The Pilgrimage of Arnold von Harff / Knight / from Cologne, through Italy, Syria, Egypt, Arabia, Ethiopia, Nubia, Palestine, Turkey, France and Spain, which he Accomplished in the years 1496-1499 / Translated from the German and edited with notes and an introduction / by Malcolm Letts. 1946. Pages xxxv, 325

Page 218-219

I found also three German Jews in Jerusalem, as also in all heathen and T urkish places. I kept company with them often on account of the language and learnt to write the alphabet, and retained also certain words from their daily speech, as they are written here:

hee delech gymel hath aleph 

pe ayn samech nun nun 

men men lamed kafif kaff 

taff schyn resz kuff 

zodick zodick ffe 


















Arnold von Harff (1471 in Castell Harff, Bedburg – January 1505) was a German traveler from the 15th century, from Köln. He went on pilgrimage to many countries, collecting both languages and cultural information.


Friday, December 03, 2021

On Jerusalem's Old City Chabad Synagogue

When we lived in the Old City, a 90-second walk away was the Chabad Synagogue in which Rav Moshe Segal lived in the first year after the 1967 war, to reclaim it.

Here is its story in a new book I recently found:



Wednesday, November 24, 2021

To Yossi Klein Halevi on Canceling

Yossi published over at TOI this

To the students who walked out on Palestinian-Israeli dialogue


To: "You can’t cancel the Palestinian people, you can’t cancel the Israeli people. Both the Jews and the Palestinians are indigenous to the same little tortured piece of land."

But you can cancel the supremacy of a presumed right of an Arab collective to claim they have a better right to this country they call "Palestine" (and until the 1920s, they called it "Southern Syria") than Jews possess. And you can justify this line in the preamble of the League of Nations decision to grant Jews a national home: "recognition has thereby been given to the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country" as well as the total ignoring therein of Arabs and any special rights as Arabs per se other than simply being residents. You can cancel their strategy of terror, their refusal to compromise and their rejection of negotiations. And after so many cancellations and many more, one can come to a certain conclusion.

That's it.

Saturday, November 20, 2021

An Egyptian Jew in Eretz-Yisrael in the 14th century.

I attended the opening of a new exhibition at the Israel Museumm this past week:

Painting a Pilgrimage: A 14th Century Hebrew Scroll Unveiled is curated by Dr. Rachel Sarfati at the Spertus Gallery.

On display is a scroll from the 14th century. It is almost eleven meters long and

documents the pilgrimage of an Egyptian Jew to the Land of Israel. Its 130 illustrations (often accompanied by inscriptions) of sanctified places from Egypt to Lebanon offer a glimpse of what the region looked like over 700 years ago...The central illustration, which is some two meters long, depicts the Temple on the Temple Mount and reflects the belief shared by Muslims and Jews in the Middle Ages that the Dome of the Rock was built in commemoration of Solomon's Temple.

My photographs:

Let me repeat that: an Egyptian Jew travels to Eretz-Yisrael in the 14th century.


Now, the 'in-term' is "Spiking"

Always pay attention to the use of words and terms as part of the semantic wars.

For example:

Settler attacks on Palestinian spike, reflecting Israel's systemic failure by Amos Harel in Haaretz, Nov. 19, 2021

Shall we review the use of "spike"?

Spike in Israeli settler attacks serves Bennett government policy: Terrorize Palestinians and take more land on Otober 18, 2021.

On January 28, 2021, we read: Spike in settler violence backed and encouraged by state and on April 14, 2021, the UN 'says': Israeli settler attacks on Palestinians spike to 210 so far this year. And on February 2020, a year earlier, the EU spoke out against Israeli settler spike.

Back in the Fall of 2012, you could have read in an academic article of "The spike in assaults on Palestinians".

Given that "spike" means a sharp increase in the magnitude or concentration of something, obviously, there is usually a reason for that increase and it behooves those who use it to explain why. Or even prove there is an actual spike.

That, I fear, would then defeat the whole purpose of emplying the term "spike" for it is used more as a scare tactic than anything else.


Sunday, November 14, 2021

How the PLO Alters History in Magid's Book Review

Originally published at the +972 site (and republished by the PLO's Department of Culture and Information which found it worthy), Shaul Magid's review of Mikhael Manekin's “The Dawn of Redemption: Ethics and Tradition in a Time of Power” provides insight not only into a leader of the "Breaking the Silence" group but for purposes of this blogpost, Maggid himself.

Manekin, a Jerusalemite, attended the Maaleh Gilboa Yeshiva, was diretor of "Breaking the Silence", then of Avrum Burg's "Molad" institute and now the "Nationalism and Partnership" group linked to the NGO "Cooperation for the Future" or The Alliance, as well as the joint Arab-Israel Van Leer Institute section. The raison d'etre is a 

"striving for a formulation of a shared political syntax; a toolbox that includes a bridging narrative; formulas for political and ethical justification; and social, cultural, and political frameworks. All of these aspects will join into a subset that can be called 'binational interventional politics'...The moral demand of the group’s members is an increase in equality and civil and national justice and the development of a political tradition of respectful national partnership".

Note the "binational".

A bit more of how Magid sees the book:

“The Dawn of Redemption” reflects on the power, abuses, and failure of religious Zionism as an institution of power in Israel today...the brutality of Israel’s ribonut...a new monstrous “national religious Jew” has been created...theological chauvinism and secular violence, messianism enacted through subjugation. In short, unadulterated ribonut.

Now that we are clear as to the book itself, I want to point something out regarding Magid. He recalls a 1953 incident so:

the infamous October 1953 massacre in the West Bank village of Qibya, which was then occupied by Jordan. On orders from above, a group of Israeli soldiers led by Ariel Sharon slaughtered at least 69 Palestinian civilians in the village, the majority of them women and children. 

The repraisal raid on Qibya did indeed occur and it happened on October 14. It was led by Sharon. "Slaughtered", however, is not the correct term. The assault details are quite well known:

IDF soldiers encountered resistance from soldiers and village guards, and in the gunbattle that followed, 10–12 soldiers and guards defending the village were killed and an Israeli soldier was lightly wounded. The soldiers did not thoroughly inspect the homes in the village for the presence of residents, and when military engineers dynamited dozens of buildings across the village, scores of civilians were killed.

This, to be fair, was a basic repeat of the Palmah operation in February 1948 at Sasa*.

But the review was tampered with by the PLO.

After the words: "the majority of them women and children," 

they insert: 

"who were coming home from their fields after transgressing a curfew that they didn’t even know existed"

Screen shot:

That, of course, is another unfortunate incident, from the 1956 Sinai Campaign.

Now, ask yourselves, why would the PLO do that?

Are they not knowledgeable?

Do they presume their audience is not knowledgeable?

Will Magid complain?

Will +972?



On February 15, 1948, a Palmach unit entered the village during the night and, without resistance, planted explosives against some of the houses. It was reported at the time that ten or more houses were totally or partially destroyed and 11 villagers were killed (5 of them small children). According to the official history of the Haganah, the village had been used as a base for Arab fighters...According to Benvenisti (who gives the date of the attack as 14 February), the Palmach units that raided Sa'sa' killed 60 people and demolished 16 houses.


Monday, November 08, 2021

Lebanon - A Christian Nation

The Maronite expatriates from Lebanon were quite active in the Detroit area of the United States. I recall hearing about their strong anti-Moslem stand and the cooperation that developed between them and the Revisionist Party in he US.

Here is from a memo of A. Richards, General Director, "Friends of Lebanon", Detroit/New Mexio, June 1955, that Eri Jabotinsky was involved in and recently upload by the Israel State Archives:

The file contains much additional material for background.

The idea that Israel could cooperate with these elements was not new to Menachem Begin when the First Lebanese War began later in 1981.


Seidemann Corrupting History

In a recent mailing sent out by Kares Shapiro and Mark Gold of "Partners for Progressive Israel" on the issue of Sheikh Jarrah, they include an appeal by Danny Seidmann 

along with
a clip of him speaking, ominously, about a renewal of the "Naqba" and quoting him about the legal aspect of the property dispute so:

They purchased the claims to the East Jerusalem property from the earlier Jewish owners and took the Palestinian residents to court in order to evict them—to make way, it must be noted, not for descendants of the Jewish residents, but for settlers who never lived there, and who ultimately seek to drive out Palestinian presence from the city.

The Arabs living there at present, it should be noted have no connection to that area of Jerusalem or the former resident either. They were resettled from other areas in the city. In fact, the history of Silwan itself, Kfar Shiloah in the Hebrew, is one of ethnic-leansing of its Jewish residents - not during the 1948 war, when the aggressive Arabs lost their intended war of Jewish extinction - but during the 1930s, during yet another round of Arab terror.

In other words, the Jewish expulsion resulted not from mutual hostilities or an attack by Jews on Arabs but by Arab aggression on Jewish civilians seeking to eradicate their existence in the neighborhood a decade prior to the Naqba situation (itself brought upon the Arabs by their lawlessness, their violence, their rejection of diplomacy and compromise).

I am no lawyer but I do know the history of the conflict and Seidemann is corrupting our understanding of what happened, when it happened and for what purpose. When that happens, the law becomes irrelvant.