What is the Foundation Stone?
The Foundation Stone is a holy stone in the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The Foundation Stone, also called Sakhrah in Arabic, Even haShetiya in Hebrew, or simply Rock, is believed by Talmudic sages and many modern Jews to be the place from which the rest of the world was created -- the first bit of the world to come into being. Writings dating back to the Roman period attest to the significance of the Foundation Stone.
The spiritual significance of the stone extends far beyond it being regarded as the place from whence the world was created. According to the Talmud, this was also the location where God gathered dust that was made into Adam, and that Adam, Cain, Abel, and Noah offered sacrifices to God. Modern Jews identify the rock with references with Mount Moriah in the Bible, as the Temple Mount was thought to have been built over this natural hill, the tallest in the Old City of Jerusalem. Jewish sources also consider the rock to be where Abraham almost sacrificed his son Isaac.
Sometime around 1000 BCE, the area is thought to have been a threshing floor owned by Araunah the Jebusite. A threshing floor is where wheat is tossed into the windy area to separate the grain from the chaff. It helps to have it on top of a high hill, where there is ample wind. Conversely, this may be simply a story with metaphoric spiritual significance. According to the Torah, King David, the second king of the United Kingdom of Israel, purchased the threshold floor and built an altar around the Foundation Stone.
After David died, his son and successor, Solomon, built an elaborate temple there, today referred to as the First Temple. This Temple was the center of ancient Judaism until it was destroyed in an attack by the Babylonians in 587 BCE. Another Temple was constructed over the Foundation Stone, which was subsequently destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE. Several hundred years later, in 691, the Islamic rulers of Jerusalem built the Dome of the Rock on the site, which is the oldest extant Islamic structure and the third holiest place in Islam.
The Foundation Stone has special importance in Islam as well. According to Islamic belief, angels visited the site 2,000 years before the creation of Adam. It is also thought to be the place where Israfel, the angel of the trumpet, will sound his horn on Resurrection Day. It is regarded as the spot where Muhammad ascended into Heaven on a horse, and Muslims point to a dent in the rock that they say is a hoofprint from this departure. Beneath the Foundation Stone is a cavern known as the Well of Souls. The Well of Souls is sometimes thought of as the traditional hiding place of the Ark of the Covenant.
The Foundation Stone in Israel is just one of so many historical and religious landmarks that cause war and disagreement these days. I find this sad, because such a meaningful place should really be shared by all, in my opinion; holding on so hard to our sacred places strikes me as greedy.
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