Building violations and illegal construction on the Temple Mount – again!

Shimon Cohen and Tova Dvorin of israelnews.com report that the Jordanian Waqf is assembling a generator on the Temple Mount without permits. This was revealed by architect Gideon Harlap in a special Arutz Sheva interview:

The Jordanian Waqf continues to build illegally on the Temple Mount, photos leaked to Arutz Sheva revealed Wednesday.

Illegal construction at the northeast corner of the Temple Mount. Photo: meha’olim lehar.

The photos, which were taken by a visitor to the Mount, show what appears to be new construction, under a tarp, in the northeast corner of the Mount.

To clarify whether the Waqf has the license to build on the Mount – and what ramifications there may be if it does not - Arutz Sheva spoke to architect Gideon Charlap, who turned to the licensing and inspection bureau in Jerusalem ”to address urgently the building violations and illegal construction on the Temple Mount,” as he put it.

Charlap makes it clear that the pictures shows that the “Waqf is building without a permit from anyone,” and added that its official statements claiming that generators added to the site were provided by the Jordanian King are false.

According to Charlap, the Waqf simply bought the generators from Israel at full price - then added them to the Temple Mount compound without official authorization.

“The power of these generators is huge and disproportionate [to the size of] the Temple Mount,” he added. “They can light up with that half the old city.”

Charlap maintained that the addition of the generators ”damages Israeli sovereignty.”

Charlap explains that “anyone who builds these huge generators must comply with safety, fire protection, security, solar and diesel fuel [regulations] etc. I went to all the authorities such as the Ministry of Defense, Ministry of the Home Front Command and more [over it] and now they are trying to create a safety cover but this further undermines the architecture of this holy place.”

“We have to do archaeological excavations here intelligently, without damaging the landscape, without damaging the artifacts,” he continued. “They are not the owners. A landlord can ask for an application for a permit, but they are not the owners – so they cannot apply for a permit at all.”

“The Waqf cannot build what it wants and when it wants,” he added.

Charlap is still waiting for an official response over the issue from Jerusalem, as well as from various government organizations.

The Waqf, which was left in charge of the Temple Mount after Israel liberated it during the 1967 Six Day War, consistently destroys Jewish antiquities on the compound in a direct violation of a ruling by the Supreme Court.

It also regularly builds on the site without a permit. In January, Temple Mount rights activist Yehuda Glick caught officials illegally drilling on the ancient holy site. The drilling was later revealed to have been establishing placeholders for dozens of trash cans.

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The Temple Mount in the Herodian period (37 BC-70 AD)

Following on from our previous drawing, the Temple Mount during the Hellenistic and Hasmonean periods, we now examine the Temple Mount during the Herodian period. This was, of course, the Temple that is mentioned in the New Testament.

Herod extended the Hasmonean Temple Mount in three directions: north, west and south. At the northwest corner he built the Antonia Fortress and in the south, the magnificent Royal Stoa.

In 19 BC  the master-builder, King Herod the Great, began the most ambitious building project of his life, the rebuilding of the Temple and the Temple Mount in lavish style. To facilitate this, he undertook a further expansion of the Hasmonean Temple Mount by extending it on three sides, to the north, west and south. Today’s Temple Mount boundaries still reflect this enlargement.

The cutaway drawing below allows us to recap on the development of the Temple Mount so far:

King Solomon built the First Temple on the top of Mount Moriah which is visible in the centre of this drawing. This mountain top can be seen today, inside the Islamic Dome of the Rock. King Hezekiah built a square Temple Mount (yellow walls) around the site of the Temple, which he also renewed. In the Hasmonean period, the square Temple Mount was enlarged to the south (red walls). Finally, King Herod the Great enlarged the mount to double its size (grey walls) by building 15 feet (5 m) thick retaining walls, which are still standing today.
The many cisterns cut into the mountain are also shown.

A visualization of this Temple Mount was made possible by combining the historical sources with the results of archaeological exploration. The main historical source is the first-century historian Josephus Flavius. His works, The Jewish War  and Jewish Antiquities, although prone to exaggeration, are indispensable for this period. Also invaluable is the Mishnah, the earliest code of rabbinic law, written about 200 AD, particularly the Tractate Middot, which deals with measurements. The New Testament adds further detail and context. All this was augmented by the results of the excavations to the south and west of the Temple Mount following the Six-Day War in 1967.

Herod’s extension of the Eastern Wall to the north required the filling in of a deep valley to the north of the pre-Herodian Temple Mount. The Shushan Gate remained the only gate in the Eastern Wall. Towers were erected at each corner and a large water reservoir was built at the northeast corner, the so-called Pool of Israel.

The present-day Eastern Wall of the Temple Mount is 1536 feet (468 m) long. The central part of this wall (shown in blue) dates from the time of King Hezekiah. In the drawing, the gate just below and to the right of the Temple is the Shushan Gate. To the south of the central section is the Hasmonean extension (red), while both ends of this wall were further extended by Herod the Great (yellow). The Herodian extension to the north of the central part of the Eastern Wall (Hezekiah’s expansion) required the filling in of a deep valley, known as the Bezetha Valley.

The Western Wall, which had four gates, was placed some 82 feet (25 m) outside the square platform with its southwest corner built on the opposite side of the Tyropoeon Valley.

The Western Wall of the Temple Mount is 1590 feet (485 m) long. The Antonia Fortress is on the left. The four gates in the Western Wall are, from left to right, Warren’s Gate, Wilson’s Arch and bridge, Barclay’s Gate and Robinson’s Arch and stairway. This drawing also shows the lay of the bedrock below the Herodian street.

The Southern Wall featured two gates, the Double Gate and the Triple Gate, often erroneously referred to as the Huldah Gates.

The Southern Wall of the Temple Mount is 912 feet (278 m) long. The extant remains of this wall are shown in yellow. A monumental stairway led up to the Double Gate, indicating that this was an important entry point for many worshippers. In between this stairway and that leading up to the Triple Gate is a ritual bathing complex and a public building.

The most fortified feature in the Northern Wall was the massive Antonia Fortress (right in the drawing below), built to protect the Temple against attacks coming from the north and to guard the mount in times of strife. A large reservoir, the Pool of Israel (left) provided additional protection to the Temple Mount.

The Northern Wall of the Temple Mount is 1035 feet (315 m) long. The Pool of Israel, which was constructionally an integral part of the Temple Mount, can be seen on the left. The Antonia Fortress is on the right. A brief reference in Josephus points to the possible existence of a gate in the middle of this wall,.

Once the platform was completed, double colonnades, or porticoes, were built above the outer walls to provide shelter from the elements. A huge hall called the Royal Stoa, with four rows of columns, was erected on the southern end. The pre-existing eastern portico that stood on the square mount was left unchanged. As it belonged to a pre-Herodian period, it was called Solomon’s Porch. Near the centre of this platform a new gold-covered Temple was constructed that in turn was surrounded by many other buildings.

In 70 AD, this splendid structure that had taken 46 years to build (John 2.20) was destroyed by the Romans. The only vestiges of the compound to survive the destruction were the four retaining walls that supported the Temple platform; the best known today is the Western Wall.

This drawing is the 7th in this series that were made specially for the new Temple Mount guide book that is awaiting publication. For the previous drawings see: Mount MoriahJebusitesSolomonHezekiahNehemiah and the Hellenistic and Hasmonean periods.

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The Temple Mount during the Hellenistic and Hasmonean periods (332-37 BC)

The next drawing in our series on the development of Mount Moriah shows the Temple Mount in the Hasmonean period (see below). However, we will first describe some preliminary stages in its expansion, which took place during the Hellenistic period. The Bible, apart from the book of Daniel, is virtually silent about the inter-testamental period. However, the works of Josephus and the Apocryphal books of Ecclesiasticus and the two Books of the Maccabees provide much information.

Josephus records in Ant.11.325–339 a visit to the Temple by Alexander the Great after his capture of Gaza in 332 BC. Here, the Jewish historian has him sacrificing in the Temple under the guidance of the High Priest.

The Emperor Alexander meeting the Grand Priest Jaddus. Painting by Jacopo Amigoni (c. 1675-1752), Issoudun, Musée de l’Hospice Saint-Roch.

Although this may be mere legend, the story points to the perpetuation of the Temple services following their revival after the return from exile in Babylon. After the death of Alexander, Judea was governed by the Ptolemies of Egypt, who were tolerant of Jewish religious practice.

Around the end of the third century BC, restoration work was carried out on the Temple Mount by the High Priest Simon, son of Onias. According to the apocryphal work of Ben Sira called Ecclesiasticus (50.1–3), the work is described as follows:

It was the High Priest Simon son of Onias who repaired the Temple during his lifetime and in his day fortified the sanctuary. He laid the foundations of the double height, the high buttresses of the Temple precincts. In his day the water cistern was excavated, a reservoir as huge as the sea.

Cistern 8 aka The Great Sea. Painting made in 1872 by William Simpson. It is located to the west of Cistern 7, called The Sea, which was probably the one mentioned in the above quote.

It is clear from the text that the bulk of these works consisted of  the repair and strengthening of the temple and other existing structures. In the reconstruction drawing of the Temple Mount below we have shown the buttresses that were added to stabilise the Temple.

Control of the city of Jerusalem was won from the Ptolemies by the Greek Seleucids from Syria in around 200 BC . The Seleucid dynasty was determined to force the Jews to accept Hellenism. It was the sacrifice of a pig on the Temple altar by the Seleucid ruler Antiochus IV Epiphanes, mentioned in Daniel 11.29-31, that sparked off the revolt by the Maccabee brothers. Their bloodline evolved into the Hasmonean dynasty that established an independent Jewish state lasting from 164 to 63 BC.

The consecration of the Temple in 164 BC is still celebrated today by the Jewish feast of Hanukkah.

In contrast to the Temple Menorah that had seven branches, the Hanukkiah used at
Hanukkah has eight representing the eight nights that oil miraculously burned
in the Temple. The lamp on the central ninth branch, which is called the shamash, is used to light the others.

In 141 BC, Simon the Maccabee demolished the hated Akra, a fortress that the Seleucids had built to the south of the Temple Mount so that a Macedonian garrison could control the Jewish population.

This schematic drawing of the Akra is one of the five stages in the development of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The Akra Fortress (red) was built by the Seleucid King Antiochus IV Epiphanes in 168 BC to the south of the Temple Mount.

Simon then leveled the mountain on which it was built and incorporated the whole area into the Temple Mount complex:

The Temple Mount in the Hasmonean period.

After this extension to the south, the Temple was no longer square in shape and the original Mount Moriah was now almost completely built over. The Hasmonean southeast corner can be seen in the Eastern Wall of the Temple Mount at the so-called seam.

The “seam” near the southern end of the Eastern Wall. To the left of the seam is Herodian masonry, and to the right, Hasmonean.

Following the Maccabean rebellion, a fortress was constructed at the northwest corner of the square Temple Mount, to defend the mount against attacks from the north. It was called the Baris. When Herod the Great later extended the Temple Mount to the north, he dismantled the Hasmonean Baris and built a fortress, called the Antonia Fortress, that stood at the northwest corner of the new Temple Mount.

This drawing is the 6th in this series. For the previous drawings see: Mount Moriah, Jebusites, Solomon, Hezekiah and Nehemiah.

 

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The Temple Mount during the times of Ezra and Nehemiah

Continuing our series on the development of Mount Moriah and the Temple Mount, we have now arrived at the time of Ezra and Nehemiah.  In the Post-Exilic period, the returnees from Babylon first built the altar and then laid the foundations of the Second Temple (536 BC). There is no reason to doubt that these foundations followed the same orientation as the temple being replaced, as the foundation trenches were preserved in the Rock (as they are to this day). Due to the opposition of the local population, it took twenty years to complete the building of which we are told that it was 60 cubits high and wide, presumably referring to the dimensions of the façade.

This drawing shows the newly rebuilt Temple that apparently was not as grand as the previous one, as Haggai (2.3) said: “Who is left among you that saw this house in her first glory? And how do ye see it now, is it not in your eyes in comparison of it as nothing?” The internal layout of the Temple undoubtedly remained the same and would therefore have been able to function normally, although the quality of the architecture must have appeared inferior in the minds of the ancient people who remembered the first Temple.

Later on, during the time of Nehemiah, the city walls were restored as recorded in Nehemiah Chapter 3:

After the Babylonian Exile, many Jews returned to Jerusalem. They came in relatively small numbers, not sufficient to occupy both the Eastern and Western Hills. It was not until the Hellenistic period that the Western Hill was occupied again. In this drawing we see the rebuilt city of Jerusalem on the Eastern Hill with a smaller Temple on Mount Moriah. On the Western Hill we see the houses and walls that were destroyed by the Babylonians and were not repaired at this time.

Below is the fifth drawing in the series of Mount Moriah that shows the Temple Mount in the Post-Exilic period with the walls of the original square Temple Mount restored  (the first in this series was Mount Moriah itself, followed by the mount during the times of the Jebusites, Solomon and Hezekiah).

The Temple Mount in the time of Nehemiah. The Temple Mount walls were repaired together with the walls of Jerusalem. The northwest towers of Meah and Hananeel are mentioned in Nehemiah 3 (3.1) and also the Corner Tower in the northeast (Neh. 3.32).

A few months ago, we updated our Jerusalem in the Time of Nehemiah book. It was very popular and the first of our books to be sold out completely. The new edition which is now available from our website, has been updated with digital photographs, some by Nathaniel Ritmeyer, and also with new drawings. The above mentioned reconstruction drawing of the Temple built by Jeshua and Zerubbabel has been included, together with new drawings of Jerusalem at that time.

Second and revised edition of Jerusalem in the time of Nehemiah (Carta, Jerusalem, 2014).

We are still waiting for our Temple Mount guide book to be published and also the revised Jerusalem in 30 AD . The original version of the latter book was based on our slide set (now discontinued) which we produced in the 1990’s. This book also soId out. The latest  edition has new digital photographs and an additional section on the Palace of Queen Helena of Adiabene. Although ready for publication, the publishers are waiting for tourism to pick up after the recent unrest in Jerusalem.

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The Temple Mount during the time of King Hezekiah

The next drawing in our series dealing with the development of Mount Moriah and the Temple Mount shows what it would have looked like in the time of the later kings of Judah.

This drawing shows the Temple Mount that was built by King Hezekiah. The Temple itself was completely rebuilt and a large square platform built around the original Solomon’s Temple. It appears that Solomon’s palace complex must have been dismantled to make way for the new platform.

The first and original drawing showed what the mount looked like before anything was built on it. The next one showed Mount Moriah during the time of the Jebusites. This was followed by a drawing of Solomon’s Temple complex.

From the Hebrew Bible we know that Hezekiah (725–697 BC) was a good king, but he lived in difficult times. The Assyrians under Sennacherib had invaded the northern part of the country and many refugees had fled to Jerusalem and settled on the Western Hill of Jerusalem, as the Eastern Hill was already bursting at the seams.

Archaeology has given us a great insight into the kingship of Hezekiah, and has shown that he was one of the greatest builders Jerusalem has ever seen. In the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem one can visit the Broad Wall (mentioned later on in Nehemiah 12.38) that was built by Hezekiah to protect the new settlement. The excavations have shown that some houses had been dismantled to make room for this massive 7m (23ft) wide wall that encircled the Western Hill. This building work is mentioned in Isaiah 22.10, “you counted the houses of Jerusalem, and you broke down the houses to fortify the wall.”

The Broad Wall in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem. Photo: © Leen Ritmeyer

Another great work mentioned in Isa. 22.11 is the construction of Hezekiah’s Tunnel. Hezekiah diverted the waters from the Gihon Spring and “sent” them through an underground tunnel to the Siloam Pool (Siloam – shiloah in Hebrew – means “sent”). One of the most exciting experiences one can have in Jerusalem is to walk through this ancient tunnel.

Ben Ritmeyer leaving Hezekiah’s Tunnel.

In the Herodian period, the Siloam Reservoir had steps leading down to the water. Here we see the pool filled with rain water.

Hezekiah also embarked on a major rebuilding program of the Temple, as reflected in the second and later account of the Temple construction in 2 Chronicles 3–4. We believe that this text describes a virtually new and much larger Temple built by Hezekiah.

In this passage, the two columns of the Porch are described as being 35 cubits high in contrast to a height of 18 cubits mentioned in 1 Kings 7. Instead of the three-story-high wooden construction that was built around Solomon’s Temple, there is now an Upper Chamber above the original sanctuary. Other differences between the two descriptions show that Hezekiah not only rebuilt Solomon’s Temple, but also redesigned it. Nevertheless, this Temple is still referred to as the First Temple that was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BC.

Map of the Temple Mount today, showing the location of the square platform built by King Hezekiah.

har habbayit. This measurement of 500 cubits has been preserved in the text of Mishnah Middot  2.1: “The Temple Mount (har habbayit) measured five hundred cubits by five hundred cubits.”

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Temple Mount guide book

Carta, the publishers of our upcoming guide book, run a blog called Carta Jerusalem Echo. This morning they put up a post stating their hope that our new guide book will be published soon.

Soon to be published, Leen & Kathleen Ritmeyer’s JERUSALEM – THE TEMPLE MOUNT is a peaceful ecumenical book intended for Muslims, Christians, Jews, and all those for whom the Temple Mount has special meaning. The authors endeavor to afford each and every visitor or reader an opportunity to acquaint himself with, relate to and contemplate sites that may resonate for him when reading Holy Scripture.

Carta emphasises that this guide book is not only for visitors to Jerusalem, but also for those travellers who wish to acquaint themselves with this unique site from afar.

This guide is also meant for all those who have already seen or read about the marvels of the world – be it the Niagara Falls in North America, the ancient Inca Temples in South America, the Great Wall of China,  the Sistine Chapel in Rome, the great pyramids and sphinx of Egypt, Australia’s Great Barrier Reef – but have yet to visit Jerusalem. All are invited to  . . . Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord. . . (Isaiah 2:3).

To those who wrote directly in advance enquiring about the publication date, they wrote:

We at Carta appreciate your interest and are grateful for your intent to purchase Ritmeyer’s latest work once it is available. Publication of JERUSALEM THE TEMPLE MOUNT has been delayed, heeding . . . a time to keep silence, and a time to speak (Ecclesiastes 3:7).

Given the current regrettable spate of incidents in Jerusalem, Ritmeyer’s Interfaith Guide, which relates in great detail – and separately – to specific sites of interest to Jews and Christians, not only Muslims, deserves better timing, hopefully ahead of the festival season.

 

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The Temple Mount in the time of Solomon

As storm clouds gather over Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, we continue with our series on the development of Mount Moriah.

In our previous post, we talked about the locations of the Altar and the Holy of Holies. What happened after David built the Altar? After ruling seven years in Hebron, he made Jerusalem the capital of Israel. The first thing he did was bring the Ark of the Covenant from Kiriath-jearim to Jerusalem, the City of David. There it rested, presumably in a tent in the grounds of David’s palace, until circa 967 BC .

Here we see a reconstruction drawing of the Palace of King David. In the excavations of Yigal Shiloh, which took place between 1978-’84, a stepped stone structure was discovered that may have served as a foundation for David’s palace that stood higher up the hill. It stood behind the northern city wall and had rooms arranged round a courtyard. In the palace garden we see a tent for the Ark of the Covenant.

The Ark was then moved into the new temple that was built on Mount Moriah by Solomon, the son of David.

The design of this beautiful model of Solomon’s Temple is based on the description in the Book of Kings. The Temple had a high Porch, supported by two bronze pillars, called Yachin and Boaz. The inner sanctuary was divided into two rooms, the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies (Most Holy Place), where the Ark of the Covenant stood. A three-storey high structure surrounded the sanctuary. In front of the Temple stood the Altar, the bronze Basin (Sea) and ten smaller basins.

This sacred compound was surrounded by a wall that formed the Temple court.

The Holy of Holies was placed on the summit of Mount Moriah, with the Temple facing east, toward the Mount of Olives. Solomon also built a palace complex adjacent to the Temple. It consisted of his armory, the House of the Forest of Lebanon, a Hall of Pillars, the Porch of the King’s Throne, the King’s House and the house of his wife, Pharaoh’s daughter. As our drawings concern Mount Moriah only, all other buildings and city walls have been omitted.

On the visit of the Queen of Sheba to Jerusalem (1 Kings 10), the Ascent which Solomon built from this complex up to the Temple, was one of the things that inspired her awe.

This schematic drawing shows an arrangement of the various buildings, based on parallels with similar complexes excavated elsewhere in the Middle East. From a large courtyard in front of Solomon’s House, a special Royal Ascent (1 Kings 10.5 KJV) led up to the Temple, which lay on higher ground.

For those of you who are interested, Carta very much hope to publish our guide book to the Temple Mount at the earliest propitious moment.

The first drawing in this series showed Mount Moriah itself.

The second drawing shows the Temple Mount in the time of the Jebusites.

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The Temple Mount in Jerusalem during the Jebusite period

The next drawing of Mount Moriah that was prepared for our new Temple Mount Guide Book (and now available in our Image Library) shows what the mount would have looked like in the Jebusite period. Araunah the Jebusite was the last pre-Israelite ruler of Jerusalem, or Jebus, as it was then called. At the end of the second millennium BC, the mountain was used for growing wheat and barley, as attested to by the reference to the threshing floor of Araunah in 1 Chronicles 21.15. After God had brought a plague on Israel, the angel of the Lord, who was about to destroy Jerusalem, told King David to build an altar on the threshing floor.

Mount Moriah during the Jebusite period. Wheat, barley and other crops were grown on the slopes of the mountain. The threshing floor where David built the altar was located a little to the east of the top of the mountain, indicated by the small protuberance, where the angel stood. This latter location became the place where Solomon built the Holy of Holies of his new Temple.

But where exactly was that threshing floor? Was it on the very top of Mount Moriah, i.e. on the Rock (Sakhra) now located inside the Dome of the Rock, or elsewhere? Many people believe the altar built by Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac was situated on top of  the Rock and that later the Temple altars were built there.

We have shown, however, that the Rock was the Foundation Stone for the Holy of Holies of Solomon’s Temple and all subsequent Temples and not the location of the altar.

A new reconstruction drawing of Solomon’s Temple, based on archaeological evidence and the description in 1 Kings 6. The Holy of Holies is placed on the Rock, which is actually the top of Mount Moriah and visible inside the Islamic Dome of the Rock. A special emplacement was cut in the rock for the Ark of the Covenant (1 Kings 8.6,21). The Altar stands on the threshing floor of Araunah, where David had previously built an altar (2 Sam. 24:18; 1Chr. 21:18).

We are told that the angel in 1 Chron. 21.16 was standing on higher ground, between heaven and earth as it were. That place was most likely the peak of Mount Moriah and the subsequent sanctity of the Rock is therefore derived from the presence of the angel.

The threshing floor must have been on lower ground to the east, to exploit the prevailing westerly winds to separate the chaff from the grain. Threshing floors are never located on the very top of mountains, as the strong westerly wind would blow away both chaff and grain, but always on lower ground, usually on the eastern side.

Jewish tradition maintains that David’s altar was built (c. 980 BC) on the same place that Abraham had erected his altar in preparation for the sacrifice of Isaac, before God intervened. Based on the relationship between Herod’s Temple and the Rock inside the Dome of the Rock, the altar would have been located just east of the Dome of the Chain, as depicted in this photograph:

A view of the Dome of the Rock with the Dome of the Chain to its east. The Altar stood in the open space between the Dome of the Chain and the steps that lead up to the Raised Platform from the east.

The first drawing of Mount Moriah appeared here.

The next drawing in this series is the Temple Mount during the time of Solomon.

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Jerusalem the Movie

We were excited to learn that Jerusalem the Movie won the 2014 Giant Screen Achievement Award.

Taran Davies, George Duffield and Daniel Ferguson, the producers wrote:

“We are honored to have won these prestigious awards and grateful to the hundreds of people who worked tirelessly to make this extraordinary film, which celebrates the ancient city of Jerusalem like you’ve never seen it before.”

We are very pleased for them and remember how privileged we felt to have been asked to participate in the production of this great movie.

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