Police deal with troubles in Jerusalem on Tisha B’Av; Did the Temple’s destruction lead to a Christian building?

Artist’s Portrayal of the Destruction of Jerusalem


Today is Tisha B’Av, a day of mourning for many Jews.  There were problems in Jerusalem today related to it:

July 26, 2015

JERUSALEM — Israeli police entered a holy Jerusalem site on Sunday to prevent Arab youths from attacking visiting Jews marking a biblical holiday, a police spokesman said.

Micky Rosenfeld said police received prior warnings that masked Arab youths were barricading themselves inside the al-Aqsa Mosque armed with rocks and fire bombs. He said the youths planned to attack Jews visiting the area Sunday for Tisha B’Av — the Jewish holiday marking the destruction of ancient Hebrew temples.

Rosenfeld said some officers were wounded as they pushed the youths back, without providing further details.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/israeli-police-enter-jerusalem-holy-site-block-arab-youths/2015/07/26/29add4ce-336b-11e5-a879-213078d03dd3_story.html

Despite peace talks over the years, there is still not peace in Jerusalem–though a temporal peace will come (check out The ‘Peace Deal’ of Daniel 9:27).

While the article is correct that Tisha B’Av is a Jewish holiday, it is NOT, per se,a biblically required one.

The Bible never enjoins that God’s people need to observe Tisha B’Av.  Now the Bible says that some of the children of Israel seem to have observed a version of it (cf. Zechariah 7:3), but that God said they did it for themselves and not Him:

1  Now in the fourth year of King Darius it came to pass that the word of the Lord came to Zechariah, on the fourth day of the ninth month, Chislev, 2 when the people sent Sherezer, with Regem-Melech and his men, to the house of God, to pray before the Lord, 3 and to ask the priests who were in the house of the Lord of hosts, and the prophets, saying, “Should I weep in the fifth month and fast as I have done for so many years?”

4 Then the word of the Lord of hosts came to me, saying, 5 “Say to all the people of the land, and to the priests: ‘When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months during those seventy years, did you really fast for Me — for Me? 6 When you eat and when you drink, do you not eat and drink for yourselves?  7 Should you not have obeyed the words which the Lord proclaimed through the former prophets when Jerusalem and the cities around it were inhabited and prosperous, and the South and the Lowland were inhabited?'” (Zechariah 7:1-7).

Here is some of what Judaism 101 teaches about Tisha B’Av:

Tisha B’Av
Tisha B'Av (in Hebrew)

Level: Basic

Significance: Remembers major communal tragedies
Observances: Fasting; reading the book of Lamentations
Length: 25 hours
Customs: Torah cabinet is draped in black

Five misfortunes befell our fathers … on the ninth of Av. …On the ninth of Av it was decreed that our fathers should not enter the [Promised] Land, the Temple was destroyed the first and second time, Bethar was captured and the city [Jerusalem] was ploughed up.Mishnah Ta’anit 4:6

…Should I weep in the fifth month [Av], separating myself, as I have done these so many years? -Zechariah 7:3

In the fifth month, on the seventh day of the month …came Nebuzaradan … and he burnt the house of the L-RD… -II Kings 25:8-9

In the fifth month, on the tenth day of the month… came Nebuzaradan … and he burnt the house of the L-RD… – Jeremiah 52:12-13

How then are these dates to be reconciled? On the seventh the heathens entered the Temple and ate therein and desecrated it throughout the seventh and eighth and towards dusk of the ninth they set fire to it and it continued to burn the whole of that day. … How will the Rabbis then [explain the choice of the 9th as the date]? The beginning of any misfortune [when the fire was set] is of greater moment. -Talmud Ta’anit 29a

Tisha B’Av, the Fast of the Ninth of Av, is a day of mourning to commemorate the many tragedies that have befallen the Jewish people, many of which have occurred on the ninth of Av.

Tisha B’Av means “the ninth (day) of Av.” It occurs in July or August.

Tisha B’Av primarily commemorates the destruction of the first and second Temples, both of which were destroyed on the ninth of Av (the first by the Babylonians in 586 B.C.E.; the second by the Romans in 70 C.E.).

Although this holiday is primarily meant to commemorate the destruction of the Temple, it is appropriate to consider on this day the many other tragedies of the Jewish people, many of which occurred on this day, most notably the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492 and from England in 1290. (Tisha B’Av. Judaism 101. © Copyright 5756-5771 (1995-2011), Tracey R Rich. http://www.jewfaq.org/holidayd.htm accessed 07/26/15)

Jews have interpreted their history and scripture to mean that they should observe Tisha B’Av as a day of mourning.

Interestingly, when the Romans battered down the walls of the city of Jerusalem and the second temple in 70 A.D., many of the stones from the temple were moved to another location.

Christians moved some of the rectangular large stones, called ashlars, to build the first Christian building in Jerusalem. Notice the following from the biblical archeologist and Catholic priest Bargil Pixner:

I BELIEVE that the famous Church of the Apostles… is really a Roman-period synagogue… not a usual Jewish synagogue, but a Judeo-Christian Synagogue.

At first, places where Jewish Christians worshipped were of course called synagogues. Only later, as I will explain, did Christian places of worship come to be called churches instead of synagogues.

The earliest Christians were all Jews. Moreover, they did not regard themselves as having abandoned Judaism…

Not only were the original Christians all Jewish, but for several centuries Judeo-Christians and even some gentile Christians referred to their houses of worship as synagogues. In Hebrew the Jewish house of prayer was – and still is – called Beit or Beth Knesset, which means simply “house of assembly.” Under Hellenistic influence, this became “synagogue,” a Greek word meaning “assembly.”…

To distinguish themselves from the Jews, the gentile Christians began to refer to their gatherings by the Greek word ekklesia, also meaning “assembly.” This word was then applied to the gathering place and later to the church building itself. Another word for the building was the Greek kyriake, meaning “belonging to the Lord (kyrios),” from which the English word “church” is derived.

…this synagogue – or more precisely, its niche – is not oriented exactly toward the Temple Mount, where the Jewish Temple once stood. As several observers have now noted, the synagogue is oriented slightly off north, rather than toward the northeast where the Temple was located. The difference is small, but important. And with the Temple Mount but a few hundred yards away, the builders surely knew the difference. In fact, the synagogue’s orientation is toward what is presently the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which, at the time the synagogue was built, was believed to be the site of Jesus’ tomb and of his crucifixion at Golgotha.

Was this directional orientation intentional? I believe it was. Would it not be logical that, after the Temple had been destroyed, Judeo-Christians, instead of orienting their synagogues toward the destroyed Temple as was the case with traditional Jews, would orient their synagogues toward the new center of their redemption, the site of Jesus’ burial and resurrection?…

In the lowest layer, Pinkerfeld found pieces of plaster with graffiti scratched on them that came from the original synagogue wall. In his own words: “In the first [Roman] period, the hall was plastered. The fragments were handed over to the late Prof. M. Schwabe for examination.” Both Schwabe and Pinkerfeld died without publishing these graffiti.

Ultimately they were published by a team of experts from the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum led by Professors Emmanuele Testa and Bellarmino Bagatti. Their interpretation is as follows:

“One graffito has the initials of the Greek words which may be translated as ‘Conquer, Savior, mercy.’ Another graffito has letters which can be translated as ‘O Jesus, that I may live, 0 Lord of the autocrat.’ …

The historical conditions after the Roman destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. and some new archaeological evidence suggest the circumstances under which this Judeo-Christian synagogue was built…This destruction, indeed, included the western hill, Mt. Zion (Zion III)…

Thus, it is safe to conclude that the building that stood on the site of the adjacent Judeo-Christian synagogue also fell victim to the Roman onslaught…

The Judeo-Christian community in Jerusalem escaped this terrible catastrophe by fleeing to Pella in Transjordan and the countryside of Gilean and Bashan…they realized that the time of Jesus’ return was not yet at hand, they decided to go back to Jerusalem to rebuild their sanctuary…They were free to do this because they enjoyed a certain religious freedom from the Romans (religio licita) inasmuch as they were Jews who confessed Jesus as their Messiah, and not gentile converts.

The archaeological evidence is consistent with this suggestion. On the outside face of the synagogue, at the base of the eastern and southern walls, we can see building stones of the original Roman-period building, which still exists to a considerable height. These large stones (for example, in the third course, 3 by 3.5 feet [96 by 110 cm]) are assigned by most archaeologists to the Herodian period, that is, before 70 A.D. But these stones were not originally hewn for this building. They were brought here from elsewhere and are in secondary use. This is evident because the corners of the stones were damaged during transport. Moreover, squared ashlars (large rectangular stones) of different heights were used in the same course on the eastern wall. Had this been original construction, the heights of stones in any one course would have been uniform.

Someone during the Roman period (after the destruction of Jerusalem) must have erected this synagogue structure by using ashlars brought here from elsewhere. Who would have done this? I believe that the returning Judeo-Christians did it in the late first century, when they put up their synagogue on the site…The most probable period when such an imposing structure would have been built was between 70 and 132 A.D. According to Eusebius, during those years there was a flourishing Judeo-Christian community in Jerusalem presided over by a series of 13 bishops from the circumcision (that is, Judeo-Christians)…

Bishop Epiphanius (315-403 A.D.), a native of the Holy Land, transmitted to us the following information: When the Roman emperor Hadrian visited Jerusalem in 130/131 A.D., there was standing on Mt. Zion “a small church of God…

Who built this synagogue-church — already standing on the southwestern hill in 130 A.D. — in memory of the place of the Last Supper and the Pentecost event? Some information comes from a tenth-century Patriarch of Alexandria named Euthychius (896-940 A.D.), who wrote a history of the church based on all the ancient sources that were available to him. According to Euthychius, the Judeo-Christians who fled to Pella to escape the Roman destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. “returned to Jerusalem in the fourth year of the emperor Vespasian, and built there their church.” The fourth year of Vespasian was 73 A.D., the year Masada, the last outpost of the Jewish rebellion, fell to the Romans. The Judeo-Christians returned to Jerusalem under the leadership of Simon Bar-Kleopha, who was the second bishop of Jerusalem after James, “the brother of the Lord,” and, like Jesus, a descendant of the royal Davidic family.

The Judeo-Christians probably built their church, at that time called a synagogue, sometime in the decade after 73 A.D. For its construction, they could have used some of the magnificent ashlars from Herod’s destroyed citadel, not far away. Or perhaps they used the stones from the ruins of the Temple itself…with the intention of transferring some elements of the Holy Temple to a site becoming a new Mt. Zion (Zion III).

If that is so, the event may in fact be referred to in one of the apocryphal Odes of Solomon composed about 100 A.D. by a rival sectarian Judeo-Christian group. The fourth ode begins:

“No man can pervert your holy place, 0 God, nor can he change it, and put it in another place, because [he has] no power over it. Your sanctuary you designed before you made special places.” (Charlesworth, Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, p. 736.)

Was this passage in condemnation of the effort of the Judeo-Christians who built the synagogue on Mt. Zion to transfer some of the holiness of the destroyed Temple to their place of worship on the new Mt. Zion by constructing it in part with stones from that Temple?

From this time on, the western hill of Jerusalem was referred to by Christians as Mt. Zion (Zion III). Very few places in Jerusalem can point to such an enduring tradition as Zion’s claim to be the seat of the primitive church. No other place has raised a serious rival claim…

By this time the Judeo-Christian synagogue on Mt. Zion had become known as the Church of the Apostles. It became known as the Church of the Apostles not only because the apostles returned there after witnessing Christ’s post-resurrection ascent to heaven, but also because the building was built, as we have seen, under the leadership of Simon son of Kleophas. Kleophas was known as a brother of Joseph of Nazareth, therefore Simon was a cousin of Jesus. Simon was later considered one of the apostles, outside the circle of the 12. For this reason, the house of worship built by Simon could rightfully be called the Church of the Apostles.

(Pixner B. Church of the Apostles Found on Mt. Zion. Biblical Archaeology Review, May/June 1990: 16-35,60. Also found at http://www.centuryone.org/apostles.html –yet that site and others who seemed to have copied it have left out important statements on page 26, which are included above and italicized by me as they are left out of the that online version)

The original bricks seem to have come from the old Jewish Temple. I and another with me personally examined some of them on October 24, 2013. The original bricks physically constitute a type of “temple” in the sense that this seems to have been the closest thing to a physical church building (and actually more closely resembled a synagogue) where real Christians attended for services.

Here is a photo from October 2013 of some of the original ashlar bricks of the Church of God on Jerusalem’s Western Hill (that hill is also known as Mt. Zion) that I took:

Photo of Jerusalem in Church of Santa Pudenzenia

Here is more information from Bargil Pixner:

Their adherence to Jewish customs, especially circumcision and observance of Jewish holy days, naturally alienated them from the church of the gentiles. The fissure became a gaping canyon with the strongly anti-Judaic positions taken by the Byzantine church after the Council of Nicea (325 A.D.).

Though recognizing the authenticity of the place, the gentile Christians looked with suspicion and almost contempt at the synagogue of the Judeo-Christians on Mt. Zion, considering their way of life outdated, if not heretical…This was the situation during the second half of the fourth century A.D… (Pixner, Church of the Apostles Found on Mt. Zion, pp. 29-30,34)

Notice that the Catholic scholar admits that the early Christians did keep the holy days, but that those of his faith considered that outdated.  Yet, even Catholic translations of the Bible teach:

3 I felt that I must write to you encouraging you to fight hard for the faith which has been once and for all entrusted to God’s holy people. (Jude 3, New Jerusalem Bible)

3 I was under a necessity to write unto you: to beseech you to contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints. (Jude 3, Challoner Douay-Rheims)

The original practices of the faithful Christians in Jerusalem were not outdated nor heretical.  Christians are to contend earnestly for them, not call them outdated or heretical.

Although the Bible does not enjoin the observation of Jewish traditions, it does enjoin the observance of God’s Holy Days.

While true Christians are to “pray for the peace of Jerusalem” (Psalm 122:6), we also are aware that the veil of the temple was torn in two (Matthew 27:51) and that in the New Testament, Christians are often portrayed as the “temple of God” (1 Corinthians 3:16-17).

We Christians do not mourn the loss of a Jewish Temple, but strive to live our lives as God’s temple (1 Corinthians 6:19; 2 Corinthians 6:16).

Some items of possibly related interest may include:

Church of God on Jerusalem’s Western Hill Could this building, often referred to as the Cenacle, which is located on a Mount Zion, possibly have been the oldest actual Christian church building? There is also a video titled Might the oldest church building have prophetic ramifications?
The ‘Peace Deal’ of Daniel 9:27 This prophecy could give up to 3 1/2 years advance notice of the coming Great Tribulation. Will most ignore or misunderstand its fulfillment? Here is a link to a related sermon video Daniel 9:27 and the Start of the Great Tribulation.
Does the ‘Cenacle’ deal have prophetic ramifications? After a 20 year negotiation, the Church of Rome has negotiated the right to have Catholic mass in the building known as the Cenacle. It is in the area where the Church of God on Jerusalem’s Western Hill once stood. This is believed to be the location of the earliest Christian church building. How does the Bible define the ‘temple of God’ in the New Testament? Could this be the area where the ‘man of sin’ will sit in the “temple of God’ that Bible prophecy discusses in 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4? This is a YouTube video.
Jerusalem: Past, Present, and Future What does the Bible say about Jerusalem and its future? Is Jerusalem going to be divided and eliminated? Is Jesus returning to the area of Jerusalem? There is also a related YouTube video you can watch titled Jerusalem To be divided and eliminated.
The Red Heifer, Jewish Beliefs, and the End of the World The Temple Institute is watching a ‘red heifer.’ Why might this be important in the sequence of end time events? Here is a related link in the Spanish language Novilla roja descubierta en EE.UU. e Instituto del Templo está interesado en ella. Here is a related video in English The Red Heifer and the End of the World.
Why is a Jewish Temple in Jerusalem Not Required? Although people like Timothy LaHaye teach a third Jewish temple is required, who is ‘the temple of God” in the New Testament? Does the Bible require a rebuilt Jewish Temple? Here is a related item in the Spanish language ¿Por qué no se requiere un templo judío en Jerusalén? Here is a link to a sermon titled The Temple, Prophecy, and the Work.
Anglo – America in Prophecy & the Lost Tribes of Israel Are the Americans, Canadians, English, Scottish, Welsh, Australians, Anglo-Saxon (non-Dutch) Southern Africans, and New Zealanders descendants of Joseph? Where are the lost ten-tribes of Israel? Who are the lost tribes of Israel? What will happen to Jerusalem and the Jews in Israel? Will God punish the U.S.A., Canada, United Kingdom, and other Anglo-Saxon nations? Why might God allow them to be punished first? Here is a link to the Spanish version of this article: Anglo-América & las Tribus Perdidas de Israel. Information is also in the YouTube sermons titled Where are the Ten Lost Tribes? Why does it matter? and British are the Covenant People.
Is There “An Annual Worship Calendar” In the Bible? This paper provides a biblical and historical critique of several articles, including one by the Tkach WCG which states that this should be a local decision. What do the Holy Days mean? Also you can click here for the calendar of Holy Days. (Here is a related link in Spanish/español: Calendario Anual de Adoración –Una crítica basada en la Biblia y en la Historia: ¿Hay un Calendario Anual de Adoración en la Biblia?
Holy Day Calendar This is a listing of the biblical holy days through 2024, with their Roman calendar dates. They are really hard to observe if you do not know when they occur 🙂 In the Spanish/Español/Castellano language: Calendario de los Días Santos. In Mandarin Chinese: 何日是神的圣日? 这里是一份神的圣日日历从2013年至2024年。.
Where is the True Christian Church Today? This free online pdf booklet answers that question and includes 18 proofs, clues, and signs to identify the true vs. false Christian church. Plus 7 proofs, clues, and signs to help identify Laodicean churches. A related sermon is also available: Where is the True Christian Church? Here is a link to the booklet in the Spanish language: ¿Dónde está la verdadera Iglesia cristiana de hoy? Here is a link in the German language: WO IST DIE WAHRE CHRISTLICHE KIRCHE HEUTE? Here is a link in the French language: Où est la vraie Église Chrétienne aujourd’hui?
Continuing History of the Church of God This pdf booklet is a historical overview of the true Church of God and some of its main opponents from Acts 2 in the first century to the 21st century. Two related sermon links would include Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. and Continuing History of the Church of God: 4th-16th Centuries. In Spanish: Marque aquí para ver el pdf folleto: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios.

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