Tag Archives: Mosque

Haran of the Patriarchs

HaranMap23On a recent trip to Turkey we had a chance to revisit and rephotograph the seldom-visited biblical site of Haran.

Haran (also Harran) is located 28 mi. [45 km.] south-southeast of Sanliurfa in an open plain area. The name means “cross roads.” It was located on the route that led from Nineveh in the east to the ford on the Euphrates River at Carchemish 55 mi. [90 km.] to the west.


Conical roofed “beehive” houses at the “modern” site of Haran
They are said to be cool in the summer and warm in the winter

Haran is mentioned 11 times in the Old Testament. Abram settled here for a period of time on his way from Ur to the Land of Canaan (Genesis 11 and 12). Isaac’s wife Rebecca was from the area. Jacob lived here with Laban for 20 years after fleeing from his brother Esau (Genesis 29). Here he married Leah and Rachel, and all of his children, except Benjamin, were born here!


The plain/countryside south of the site of Haran
It was in this area that Abram and his entourage settled for over a year

The city is mentioned in cuneiform texts as far back as 2000 B.C. It was a center of the worship of the moon god Sin – who was also worshiped at Ur. It appears frequently in cuneiform documents and was the last capital of the Assyrian Empire until being captured in 609 B.C. by the Babylonians. In 53 B.C. Crassus, a prominent Roman, was killed here and his troops annihilated. In A.D. 217 the Roman emperor Caracalla was murder here.


View looking west-northwest at the eastern exterior wall
and 108 ft. high minaret of the “Grand Mosque” at Haran
This is the oldest mosque in Turkey — it was constructed between AD 744–750

To view a total of 15 high-resolution images of Haran Click Here.


Suleiman: The Builder of the Walls of Jerusalem

All visitors to the Old City of Jerusalem are impressed with the 2.5 miles of walls, and seven gates, that encircle the 220 acres and 33,000 inhabitants of the Old City.


“David’s Tower” at the Citadel south of Jaffa Gate—Portions of which were built by Suleiman the Magnificent. Click on Image to Enlarge and/or Download.

In the main, these walls were built under the direction of Suleiman the Magnificent between 1537 to 1541 (Suleiman died in 1566).  Suleiman was the most powerful ruler during the long period of the Ottoman Empire (ca. 1517–1917).

After many years living in and traveling to Israel, and oohing and aahing at the the Old City walls, I was very excited on my first visit to Istanbul to visit the Topkapi Palace, from which Suleiman ruled the Ottoman Empire and the Süleymaniya.

The “Suleymaniye” is a mosque complex that was built between 1550 and 1557 by the famous architect Sinan to honor and house the remains of Suleiman the Magnificent (ruled 1520 to 1566).  [For Christians, remember Luther died in 1546 and Calvin in 1564; the very time of Suleiman] The complex (Turkish külliye; ca 18 acres in size) consists of the famous mosque, schools, a hospital, a hospice, a “soup kitchen,” a Turkish bath, and the tombs (Türbe) of Suleiman, his wife Roxelana, the architect Sinan and others.

suleiman-mosque-smView looking southwest at the exterior of the Suleymaniye Mosque.  Note the four minarets and the large central dome of the mosque.  Just below, and to the left (east) of the mosque there are two domes.  The large dome covers the Türbe of Süleyman while the small dome covers the Türbe of Roxelana, his wife.


View looking across the interior of the beautiful Süleymaniye Mosque toward the minbar (pulpit) and the miqrab (niche facing Mecca). It measures 230 x 200 ft. (70×60 m.). Note the individual prayer spaces on the carpet. Click on Image to Enlarge and/or Download.

Next time—the tomb of Suleiman the Magnificent.

Attempt to Burn Down the el-Aqsa Mosque


View looking southwest at the el–Aqsa Mosque. The seven exterior arches mark the seven interior aisles. The focus of the mosque—towards Mecca—is under the black dome on the left (south) side of the image.

I have visited the Haram esh-Sharif (= Temple Mount) many times and know the rough outline of the attempt by the Australian Christian, Denis Michael Rohan, to burn down the el–Aqsa Mosque—21 August 1969.

For those who might be interested, Ynet Magazine has an interesting article that describes this event in more detail—The ‘king of Jerusalemwho almost burnt down Al Aqsa [mosque].  It is about a 4 minute read.

The article is very informative, at least to me, but  I did recognize several oddities in it—there may be more:

  • “set fire to the mosque’s stage (stage is an odd translation of the Arabic minbar or raised platform from which the mosque’s leader delivers messages).  Since only one person at a time occupies it, a better translation (if that is possible) might be “pulpit”—as in a Christian church.

The minbar of the Mosque of the Patriarchs in Hebron from the days of Salah edh-Dhin—the same person who defeated the Crusaders at the Horns of Hattin on 4 July 1187 and who dedicated the minbar that Michael Denis Rohan destroyed by fire.

View in the interior of the present “Tomb of the Patriarchs” looking east at the Minbar, or pulpit. On the right side are wooden doors that open to a staircase that leads up to an elevated platform from which the Imam addresses the assembled faithful. This wooden minbar was constructed in Ashqelon in A.D. 1091 and moved by Saladin to Hebron ca. 1191.

  • “a plume of black smoke billowed above the golden dome.” (the dome of the el-Aqsa has never been “golden,” as the Dome of the Rock.  It has been “black/grey” = lead or “silver-colored”).

View looking south southwest at the Dome of the Rock (right, west) and the smaller Dome of the Chain (left, east).

Ancient Timber on Temple Mount?

In recent years there have been several articles and news items that argue that some of the timbers that were discarded after the remodeling of the el-Aqsa Mosque on the Haram esh-Sharif in Jerusalem are quite ancient—possibly even from the Temple that Herod built (the Second Temple) around 15 B.C.


Wooden debris—including timbers—stored just west of the Golden Gate on the Haram esh–Sharif/Temple Mount
Photo June 2009 — Click on image to enlarge and/or download

I thought I would share one of my pictures of such debris from a pile that was located just west of the interior of Golden Gate (to view exterior Click Here).  Note especially the notched  beams on the far side of the pile.

On of the more recent articles is that of Peretz Reuven, “Wooden Beams from Herod’s Temple Mount: Do They Still Exist?”Biblical Archaeological Review 39, no. 3 (May/June 2013): 40–47.