Book III: Chapter 32
<BOOOM! DOOM!> <BOOM! BOOM!> <DOOM!>
Still hanging on my cross, waiting for The Beast to complete this work, I continued wondering about what was inside the remains of the Temple.
While the Babylonians did not carry off the ark, what is true is that old Nebuchadnezzar did destroy our temple – at least Solomon’s original version of it.
But remember the Temple was rebuilt and eventually King Herod even expanded it — just before my original lifetime.
Unfortunately that version didn’t last long either and I personally witnessed the Temple’s second destruction — at the hands of the Roman Emperor Vespasian and his son Titus.
I knew that my Jewish brothers still believed that a Third Temple would eventually be built and that this would mark the coming of their Messiah.
But what my former brothers failed to realize is that Jesus, The Christ, was the Final Temple.
“Ouch! Ahhhhh.” Pain drove away my memories as I felt the weight of my body sag on the cross. The more gravity pulled me down, the more the nails twisted shards inside my wrists and dragged my exposed back against the splintered wood of my cross. I swore like a sailor, railing against the pain. (Crucifixion is no joke – please don’t try this at home kids!)
Trying to take my mind off the pain, I searched for more memories.
Although the second temple had been destroyed by Vespasian, I remembered that Emperor Julian II had ordered the Temple rebuilt in the 36th decade after Christ’s birth. Sparing no expense the Roman ruler commissioned this task to Alypius of Antioch – the preeminent engineer of the time.
“Pah! I knew Alypius would fail.” I muttered deliriously — tasting blood and bile — even as my mind wandered further.
Oh sure, Alypius set vigorously to work – but his team was stopped when mysterious balls of fire broke out near the foundations. Eventually, after repeated scorchings, Alypius and his team could approach no more, thus he gave up the attempt.
Now whether this was divine intervention, a natural phenomena such as an earthquake, or just human sabotage, I can’t say, but the fact is this Temple never again rose higher than Alypius’ foundations.
(Yet how could it? For as I already said, Christ was the Third Temple).
My head lolled as the drool spilled from my mouth while I tried to keep my mind focused.
Then came Constantine’s mother – I think.
Yes, that’s right. For Saint Helena commissioned the building of the Church of St. Cyrus on the site.
And all was wel…
Until the Muslims arrived!
I grimaced as pain shot up my legs, competing with the memories.
Caliph Omar – I’ll never forget him — he tore down Helena’s church and replaced it with al-Aqsa — the cursed Dome of the Rock.
Gathering the awfulness that filled my mouth, I spit towards the East – towards Mecca. (What can I say, I never was one for political correctness and given my present situation I wasn’t about to start caring).
<BOOOM! DOOM!> <BOOM! BOOM!> <DOOM!>
Although I’d always dismissed it as mere myth, I knew that Islamic scholars claimed that Caliph Omar did not just tear down the Christian Church and replace it with a mosque out of spite, but instead that he did so because he and his people believed that this land die to their belief that the aforementioned al-haram al-qudsī ash-sharīf was the location of their prophet Muhammad’s supposed ascent to heaven.
Poppycock! I lived in Jerusalem during the entire time they claim that Muhammad traveled here and I can tell you that ‘the great prophet’ never set foot there. It’s all a lie!
With that my memories faded – for the effort of my hatred overwhelmed me and the pains of my present situation drove me to near unconsciousness.
After a time the murkiness lifted.
Then it was that my visions of the past continued.
Next I remember how I tried to influence the destruction of al-Aqsa – without success.
The closest I came was when I’d worked with the Knights Templar shortly after The Crusades. At first I had high hopes for The Knights were eager to partner with me.
I was helping the knights plan their excavations of an ancient tunnel system – one that ran from beneath the Templar’s Jerusalem headquarters to, among other locations, namely the Temple Mount. My plan was to undermine the foundations of al-Aqsa, but what I didn’t know is that the knights secretly scrapped my idea and instead they used my designs to build a vast underground network, from which they unearthed countless religious antiquities – priceless artifacts they pillaged away to their European strongholds!
The Knights then used these treasures for personal gain – turning themselves into nouveau riche royalty back home.
Eventually the Templar’s time passed and their secret tunnels were sealed – leaving my desires for revenge against Caliph Omar to wait.
Centuries passed and the sands of time kept falling…