Siege of Jerusalem (1187)
Unknown, the army primarily made up of the surviving army from the Battle of Hattin and reinforcements gathered from Syria and Egypt.
The Siege of Jerusalem was a siege on the city of Jerusalem that lasted from September 20 to October 2, 1187, when Balian of Ibelin surrendered the city to Saladin. Citizens wishing to leave paid a ransom. Ώ] The defeat of Jerusalem signaled the end of the first Kingdom of Jerusalem. Europe responded in 1189 by launching the Third Crusade led by Richard Lionheart, Philip Augustus, and Frederick Barbarossa separately. ΐ]
Jerusalem has history of many conquests, surrenders
President Donald Trump is considering recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, officials say, a highly charged declaration that risks inflaming tensions across the Middle East.
A picture taken on Dec. 4, 2017 shows a general view of the skyline of the old city of Jerusalem, with the Dome of the Rock, left, in the Aqsa Compund. (Photo: AHMAD GHARABLI, AFP/Getty Images)
Jerusalem has been captured and recaptured at least 20 times. It's been claimed by about as many countries and empires, and by three of the world's major religions.
Here’s a brief history of how a humble village on a scrubby hilltop became the Holy City that provoked centuries of dispute:
3,000 to 2,500 B.C. — The city on the hills separating the fertile Mediterranean coastline of present-day Israel from the arid deserts of Arabia was first settled by pagan tribes in what was later known as the land of Canaan. The Bible says the last Canaanites to rule the city were the Jebusites.
1,000 B.C. — According to archaeological evidence, King David conquered the city. He was warned that "even the blind and the lame can ward you off," the Bible says. He named his conquest The City of David and made it the capital of his new realm.
The site at the City of David, is seen next to the Arab neighborhood of Silwan near Jerusalem's Old City. (Photo: Dan Balilty, AP)
960 B.C. — David's son Solomon built the first Jewish temple. The Bible says the Israelites also fought many wars against another Canaanite tribe called the Philistines who lived along the southern coastline.
721 B.C. — Assyrians conquered part of the land of Israel called Samaria, and Jewish refugees fled to Jerusalem, causing the city to expand.
701 B.C. — Assyrian ruler Sennacherib laid siege to Jerusalem.
586 B.C. — Babylonian troops occupied the city, destroying the temple and exiling many Jews.
539 B.C. — Persian King Cyrus the Great conquered the Babylonian empire, including Jerusalem.
516 B.C. — King Cyrus allowed Jews to return to Jerusalem to rebuild. The Jews built the Second Temple.
445-425 B.C. — Nehemiah the Prophet rebuilt the walls of the city.
332 B.C. — Alexander the Great of Macedonia took control. After his death, his empire was divided into four, including the Seleucid Empire that contained the land of Israel and their ancient enemies the Philistines (Palestine).
160-167 B.C. — The Jews' Maccabean revolt, launched against the Seleucid Empire and Greek influence, eventually returned the city to Jewish control. The Jewish holiday of Hanukkah celebrates the purification of the Second Temple after the Maccabees reconquered the city.
An Israel Antiquities Authority employee, Michal Haber, shows a cave from the Hasmonean period found next to a 2200-year-old structure from the Hellenistic period, possibly an Idumean palace or temple. (Photo: ATEF SAFADI, EPA-EFE)
141 B.C. — The Hasmonean dynasty of Jewish rulers began, and the city grew.
63 B.C. — Roman General Pompey captured Jerusalem.
37 B.C. — Roman client King Herod renovated the Second Temple and added retaining walls, one of which remains today and is called the Western Wall, or the Wailing Wall by Jews.
30 A.D. — Jesus was crucified by the Roman soldiers.
70 — During another Jewish revolt, the Romans destroy their Temple and exile many Jews.
135 — The Romans rebuild Jerusalem as a city of their own.
335 — Roman Emperor Constantine built the Church of the Holy Sepulcher over the spot where Jesus was said to have been buried and to have risen from the dead.
Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III, second from left, and Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew, I, left, look at the painting of the Golgotha at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem's Old City on Dec. 5, 2017. (Photo: GALI TIBBON, AFP/Getty Images)
614 — The Persians capture Jerusalem.
629 — Byzantine Christians recapture Jerusalem.
632 — Muhammed, the prophet of Islam, died and was said to ascend to heaven from a rock in the center of where the Jewish Temple used to be.
637 — Caliph Omar entered the city to accept the surrender of its Byzantine ruler, the Patriarch Sophronius.
691 — The Muslim shrine known as Haram al Sharif, or the Dome of the Rock, was built around that spot where Mohamed was said to have risen to heaven, remains there today.
1099-1187 — Christian Crusaders occupied Jerusalem, claiming it as a major religious site.
1187 — Salladin captures Jerusalem from the Crusaders.
1229-1244 — Crusaders recapture Jerusalem twice.
1250 — Muslim rulers dismantle the walls of the city.
1517 — The Ottoman Empire captures Jerusalem and Suleiman the Magnificent rebuilds the walls from 1538 to 1541.
1917 — The British capture Jerusalem in World War I.
This photo taken in 1947 shows two British officers on the rooftop of the YMCA overlooking the modern city of Jerusalem. (Photo: STR, AFP/Getty Images)
1948 — The state of Israel is established, dividing the city between Israel and Jordan.
1967 — Israel captures East Jerusalem and immediately annexed it, granting Arab (Palestinian) residents permanent resident status, but not citizenship.
Surrender of Jerusalem
Balian then handed over the keys to the Tower of David (the citadel) on October 2, 1187.
This agreement was read out through the streets of Jerusalem, so that everyone might within forty days provide for himself and pay to Saladin the tribute as aforesaid for his freedom.
Patriarch Heraclius of Jerusalem organised, and contributed to a collection which paid the ransoms for about 18,000 of the poorer citizens, leaving another 15,000 to be enslaved, Saladin’s brother al-Adil, “asked Saladin for a thousand of them for his own use and then released them on the spot.” Most of the foot soldiers were sold into slavery.
Balian and Patriarch Eraclius had offered themselves as hostages for the ransoming of the remaining Frankish citizens, but Saladin had refused.
The ransomed inhabitants marched away toward Tripoli in three columns. The Templars and Hospitallers led the first two while Balian and the Patriarch led the third, which was the last to leave the city, probably around November 20th.
The defeat of Jerusalem signaled the end of the first Kingdom of Jerusalem.
Saladin’s victories shocked Europe. On hearing news of the Siege of Jerusalem, Pope Urban III died of a heart attack on October 19, 1187.
On October 29, Pope Gregory VIII issued a papal bull Audita tremendi, proposing the Third Crusade.
Europe responded with Richard Lionheart of England, Philip Augustus of France, and Frederick Barbarossa of Germany separately organizing forces.
Frederick died en route and few of his men reached the Holy Land.
The other two armies arrived but were beset by political quarrels.
Philip returned to France, but left most of his forces behind.
Richard captured the island of Cyprus from the Byzantines in 1191.
After a long siege, Richard finally recaptured the city of Acre.
The Crusader army headed south along the Mediterranean coast.
They defeated the Muslims near Arsuf, recaptured the port city of Jaffa, and were in sight of Jerusalem, but supply problems prevented them from taking the city and the crusade ended without the taking back of Jerusalem.
Richard left the following year after negotiating a treaty with Saladin. The treaty allowed trade for merchants and unarmed Christian pilgrims to make pilgrimages to Jerusalem, while it remained under Muslim control.
Now WE know em
The Christians of the Holy City Defiling before Saladin, François Guizot 1883
Patriarch Sophronius of Jerusalem on the Abomination of Desolation
In recent months from the start of the Covid-19 virus, many in the Internet Orthodox world have been circulating many videos and articles of a “great apostasy” that is finally upon us which would lead the the closing of churches and the “mark” through some sort of chip ID. This would lead to the rise of the Antichrist and the Abomination of Desolation temple by some future Jewish Antichrist figure which would be built, as foretold in Matthew 24. Many often defer to the plethora of Orthodox prophecies by many elders or saints making these wild predictions. The issue is in most cases, there is no concrete evidence that these elders ever spoke such things, but the prophecies are often attributed to them. In reality, it seems that many of these futurist ideas have been imported from Protestant Dispensationalist ideas from the Hal Lindsey and Tim LaHaye types into Orthodoxy. At which point it is not clear. Perhaps due to converts importing these ideas as old baggage not left at the door after their conversion. Or perhaps due to the missionary zeal and efforts by some with importing these western ideas in the Eastern Europe after the fall of Communism. In any case, many Orthodox priests, monastics and bishops continue to create videos and so-called “prophecies” that the “mark” and great deception is about to fall upon us, and the Abomination temple is near. They still today, look to a future Antichrist an Abomination Temple as the early church fathers were doing over 2000 years ago. Many early church fathers were correct to write as “futurist” interpreters of the prophecies from the time Irenaeus through later commentaries of Andrew of Caesarea. But 2000 years have now passed, with significant events occurring throughout history from the Fall of Rome and the Middle Ages to the modern era which could have been already fulfilled in the prophecies of the Olivet Discourse or the Apocalypse.
So the the question remains, are we about to witness the great deception and abomination temple by the future Antichrist soon in our lifetimes? Or have some within Orthodoxy “missed the mark” when in comes to waiting and expecting the coming apostasy? Did the Abomination of Desolation already come a long time ago, and we failed to see the manifestation? Did we ignore the warnings and proper identification by saints within the church who previously tried to warn us that the time was already at hand?
Perhaps the answer to this question just might be “yes.” The Abomination of Desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, and once again by Jesus in the Olivet Discourse, might have already happened and is a present reality, not something we should expect to come in the future. Thus, the subject matter of today’s blog post will focus on the infamous prophetic statement by Patriarch Sophronius of Jerusalem that the Abomination of Desolation was now a reality in his lifetime.
Abomination of Desolation Scriptural References
What is the Abomination of Desolation? This is the trampling of the temple and the city of Jerusalem referenced in the prophecies of Daniel chapters 9, 11 and 12, also referenced by Jesus in the Olivet Discourse:
Matthew 24:15-16 – “ Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (whoever reads, let him understand) , “then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. ”
Mark 13:14 – “So when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not” (let the reader understand), “then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains”
Luke 21:20 – “ But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near. ”
Daniel 9:26-27 “(…) and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined (…) and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.
Daniel 11:31 – “And arms shall stand on his part, and they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the daily sacrifice, and they shall place the abomination that maketh desolate.”
Daniel 11:36-37 – “And the king shall do according to his will and he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvellous things against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the indignation be accomplished: for that that is determined shall be done. Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers, nor the desire of women, nor regard any god: for he shall magnify himself above all“
Daniel 11:11-12 – “And from the time of the removal of the perpetual sacrifice, when the abomination of desolation shall be set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days.
Based on these passages, we can conclude that the desolation is related to the temple mount or present within the city of Jerusalem. The desolation is equated with an abomination which would be “set up” or constructed. The desolation is also during an event in history when Jerusalem would be surrounded and attacked. Most scholars agree that there are passages in the Olivet discourse that are relevant to the 70 AD destruction of Jerusalem. We must consider that there are multiple or recurring applications of the prophecies on the desolation in Jerusalem. For one, it is problematic to consider that the Roman armies are the abomination spoken of which caused a great period of desolation, especially when the scriptures teach us that it was God Himself who would send an army to destroy the temple for the rejection of His only-begotten Son and the murders of the apostles and saints of the early church. Matthew 22 with the Wedding Feast of the Lamb provides us this critical clue that after the apostles like James in Jerusalem were martyred by the unbelieving Jews, God sent armies to destroy the city of Jerusalem:
Matthew 22:7 – “But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city”
This expresses a similar punishment foretold in Leviticus 26, matching what is foretold in Luke 21:24 regarding being led away by the sword and scattered unto the nations:
“I will destroy your high places,
cut down your incense altars,
and cast your carcasses on the lifeless forms of your idols
and My soul shall abhor you.
I will lay your cities waste
and bring your sanctuaries to desolation,
and I will not smell the fragrance of your sweet aromas.
I will bring the land to desolation,
and your enemies who dwell in it shall be astonished at it.
I will scatter you among the nations
and draw a sword after you
your Land shall be desolate
and your cities waste.”
– Leviticus 26:30-33
So we see here that the scattering of the Jews and destruction of the temple is not due to an abomination which would cause desolation, but God Himself sending His armies to destroy and scatter the people. So the, is it possible that these passages in the Olivet Discourse instead are foretelling A DIFFERENT Abomination of Desolation event in the future? And if so, what would be the event that fits the fulfillment? After all, we know throughout history there were OTHER sieges, invasions and Jewish revolts in Jerusalem in addition to the Roman destruction in 70 AD. These were:
- Second Jewish Revolt (Bar Kokhba) | 132-135 CE
- Sasanian conquest of Jerusalem |614 by Shahrbaraz, leading to the Sassanid general capturing the city from the Byzantines part of the Roman-Persian Wars.
- Siege of Jerusalem| 636–637 by Khalid ibn al-Walid (Rashidun general) under Umar ibn al-Khattab, ending in the surrender of the Byzantine city.
- Siege of Jerusalem |1099 by the Crusaders, resulting in the capture of the city, the goal of the First Crusade.
- Siege of Jerusalem | 1187 by Saladin, resulting in the capture of the city by the Muslims.
- Siege of Jerusalem | 1244 by the Khwarezmians, resulting in the recapture of the city from the Christians, to whom it had been returned by treaty.
- Siege of Jerusalem |1834 byArab villagers during the 1834 Arab revolt in Palestine.
- Battle of Jerusalem |1917 – involved the capture of the city in the Sinai and Palestine campaign of World War I by British and Commonwealth forces.
- 1948 Arab–Israeli War – Battle for Jerusalem The city was divided between Jordan and Israel Israel made Jerusalem its capital.
- 1967 Six-Day War and the encirclement of East Jerusalem
The question remains, do any of these sieges and wars in Jerusalem provide a clue to the possible Abomination of Desolation beyond what the Preterists identify as the 70 AD destruction of the temple in 70 AD? Perhaps so. We can historically establish that during the siege of Jerusalem in 637 AD that the Caliph Omar began construction of a mosque (or new temple of worship) on the site of the temple mount. Up to that point there was never a rebuilt temple by the Jews, although we know there were attempts to rebuild the temple during the reign of Julian the Apostate.
However, looking back on our various sieges of Jerusalem, things get interesting when we examine the historical records. We have a very ominous and prophetic statement made by the Greek Orthodox Patriarch Sophronius of Jerusalem during the 637 AD siege of Jerusalem. During the surrender of the city of Jerusalem to the invading Muslim Armies, the Orthodox Patriarch Sophronius (Greek: Σωφρόνιος) uttered the following words upon seeing the Caliph Omar on the Temple Mount and at the entrance of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre:
“ This is the Abomination of Desolation announced by the Prophet Daniel, and now stands from this point on holy ground .”
Wait a second…WHAT DID THIS PATRIARCH OF JERUSALEM SAY?
Very interesting. We have the (Orthodox) Patriarch of Jerusalem saying that the invading Muslim Conqueror of Jerusalem is the Abomination of Desolation and potentially the Little Horn described in the Book of Daniel and by Christ Himself? Can we not emphasize enough the significance of this statement here? This is in direct contrast to what is being taught by many Orthodox end-times scholars and priests. Because they are often looking at a future Abomination of Desolation to be constructed on the temple mount, by a Jewish Antichrist. Other Orthodox laity often like to point to prophecies attributed to certain saints or elders “age of apostasy” and “abomination temple” is upon us. They warn us not accept the chip-ID mark or vaccine. This idea is straight out of the Hal Lindsey “Late Great Planet Earth” playbook. Interesting given the fact that Irenaeus, who was a disciple of Polycarp (who was the disciple of St. John the Theologian) was busy cranking out gematria calculations on 666 that had nothing to do with a physical implanted mark. The sad truth is we have many Orthodox monastics and bishops promoting many of these ideas, which frankly many of them are imported from Protestant Dispensationalism. AND YET WE HAVE AN ORTHODOX PATRIARCH OF JERUSALEM WHO SAYS THE ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION CAME DURING HIS LIFETIME IN THE SEVENTH CENTURY.
So then who is right here? Should we heed the advice of the Patriarch Sophronius? Or should we look to the today’s Orthodox scholars who proclaim the Abomination of Desolation temple is about to be revealed soon? After all, they both can’t be right? So then where does the truth lie? Can we find any historical evidence supporting one interpretation over the other? We shall attempt to answer this question by examining historic testimony, time statements and calculations to see if Sophronios was actually correct on his identification of the Abomination which caused “great physical and spiritual desolation” to the Christians living in the middle east.
Patriarch Sophronius Warnings on the 637 AD Islamic Invasion Match the Olivet Discourse
In the Olivet Discourse we read he following warnings of the coming abomination and the tribulation and persecution of followers of Christ:
Matthew 24:9-13 – “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. (…) Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved.”
Matthew 24:15-20 – “Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (whoever reads, let him understand), “then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house. And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes. But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath.”
We certainly cannot rule out some of the passages have an application to 70 AD destruction. However, like some prophecies of Daniel, there is the potential for a near-term and far-term fulfillment, a recurring application of the prophecy. These warnings on the surrounding armies of Jerusalem would once again be applicable for an invasion well beyond 70 D, which caused even more desolation and destruction. The first desolation of 70 AD would lead to the physical destruction of the Second Temple, as Christ warns to the unbelieving Jews in Matthew 23: “Your house is left to you desolate”. This destruction would lead to a desolation of Jews scattered away from the Holy Land, as Luke’s Olivet Discourse states the scattering of the Jew to the wilderness of the nations:
Luke 21:22,24 – “ For these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. (…) And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. ”
However, another time in history was to come leading to more “days of vengeance” and the abomination of Desolation that Saint Sophronius was referring to. Saint Sophronius provides to us many clues that many of the warnings mentioned in the Olivet Discourse and the book of Daniel were being realized upon the Christians of the the Holy Land which. It is this evidence that further confirms that the warnings of the tribulation of those days were now a present reality. Saint Sophronius wrote the following which dates to the 6th of December in 636 or 637 AD. Notice the warnings and tribulation closely match the warnings provided in the Olivet Discourse regarding the Islamic invasions and advance on the Holy Land and the City of Jerusalem:
“But the present circumstances are forcing me to think differently about our way of life, for why are so many wars being fought among us? Why do barbarian raids abound? Why are the troops of the Saracens attacking us? Why has there been so much destruction and plunder? Why are there incessant outpourings of human blood? Why are the birds of the sky devouring human bodies? Why have churches been pulled down? Why is the cross mocked? Why is Christ, who is the dispenser of all good things and the provider of this joyousness of ours, blasphemed by pagan mouths (ethnikois tois stomasi) so that he justly cries out to us: “Because of you my name is blasphemed among the pagans,” and this is the worst of all the terrible things that are happening to us. That is why the vengeful and God-hating Saracens, the abomination of desolation clearly foretold to us by the prophets, overrun the places which are not allowed to them, plunder cities, devastate fields, burn down villages, set on fire the holy churches, overturn the sacred monasteries, oppose the Byzantine armies arrayed against them, and in fighting raise up the trophies of war and add victory to victory. Moreover, they are raised up more and more against us and increase their blasphemy of Christ and the church, and utter wicked blasphemies against God. Those God-fighters boast of prevailing over all, assiduously and unrestrainedly imitating their leader, who is the devil, and emulating his vanity because of which he has been expelled from heaven and been assigned to the gloomy shades. Yet these vile ones would not have accomplished this nor seized such a degree of power as to do and utter lawlessly all these things, unless we had first insulted the gift of baptism and first defiled the purification, and in this way grieved Christ, the giver of gifts, and prompted him to be angry with us, good though he is and though he takes no pleasure in evil, being the fount of kindness and not wishing to behold the ruin and destruction of men. We are ourselves, in truth, responsible for all these things and no word will be found for our defence. What word or place will be given us for our defence when we have taken all these gifts from him, befouled them and defiled everything with our vile actions?” (Holy Baptism, 166-167 pp. 72-73)
In a work originally composed by John Moschus (d. 619), but expanded by Sophronius (d. ca. 639), actually found only in an addition of the Georgian translation, the following entry appears, concerning a construction dated by tradition at 638, i.e., soon after the capture of Jerusalem ca. 637. It appears in a portion concerning Sophronius as recounted on the authority of his contemporary, the archdeacon Theodore, and may have been written down ca. 670.
The godless Saracens entered the holy city of Christ our Lord, Jerusalem, with the permission of God and in punishment for our negligence, which is considerable, and immediately proceeded in haste to the place which is called the Capitol. They took with them men, some by force, others by their own will, in order to clean that place and to build that cursed thing, intended for their prayer and which they call a mosque (midzgitha). (Pratum spirituale, 100-102 p. 63)
Surrender of the City of Jerusalem in 637 AD to the Caliph Omar
Moslem conqueror, Omar, enters the captured city of Jerusalem (637 AD)
It was during the surrender of Jerusalem over to Omar Ibn al-Khattab. The historical account is that Omar traveled to Jerusalem after Patriarch Sophronius stated that he would only surrender the city to the Caliph himself. When Omar arrived, the Patriarch asked if he would pray inside the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Omar, however, refused, choosing instead to pray in the outer courtyard in order to preserve the Church’s Christian status. This outer courtyard of the church of the Tomb of Christ later become the site of the Mosque of Omar, built in the 12th century in the site where the Caliph Omar prayed. This Mosque is often confused with the Dome of the Rock, which is the structure erected on the Temple Mount. Initially after the siege of Jerusalem the temple site was cleared of trash and debris and the wooden mosque structure was built, later the Dome of the Rock was completed between 687 to 691 AD. It is often said that the Dome of the Rock was built in the wrong spot, and is actually located in the area known as the Herod’s “Court of the Gentiles“
So we have a an Islamic Mosque dedicated to Omar also built in a courtyard to the Tomb of the God-Man. It stands opposite the courtyard from the Church and sits on what was also originally part of the courtyard to the church, and stands there today as a witness:
View of the Omar Mosque from the courtyard of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the Old City in Jerusalem, Israel
This trampling of the “outer courtyard” for a significant period of time is revealed to us in St. John’s Apocalypse, and also in the Book of Daniel:
Revelation 11-1-2: “Then a measuring rod like a staff was given to me, and I was told, “Get up and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and the ones who worship there. But do not measure the outer courtyard of the temple leave it out, because it has been given to the Gentiles, and they will trample on the holy city for forty-two months.”
Note that the time statement of 42 prophetic months = 42 x 30 = 1260 “days”of prophecy. So the Holy City of Jerusalem, where the Temple of God is located, would be trampled on for 1260 prophetic “days”.
This SECOND desolation of Jerusalem would simultaneously trample both the “outer courtyard” of the Old Covenant temple mount, and also trample ANOTHER “outer courtyard” of the New Covenant temple of God of the Christians in Jerusalem, that is the tomb of Christ, the God-Man – at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. This OTHER temple is the temple dwelling of the Holy Spirit and the “Temple” which Christ said would be rebuilt in 3 days. Sophronius in his prophetic utterance and wisdom sheds light for us that this new “abomination of desolation” would cause even greater desolation than that of the temple destruction of 70 AD, and it would be the destruction of the “temple” of the Holy Spirit upon the Christians that was a significant and greater risk to the Christians living in the Holy Land, revealing the start of a long days” or years of tribulation. Jesus provides a clue to the nature and characteristic of this new temple in John 2:19: Jesus answered, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up again.”
Treaty of Umar – Weakens Christianity and Desolates Over Time
As they did with all other cities they conquered, the Muslims drafted a treaty detailing the rights and privileges regarding the conquered people and the Muslims in Jerusalem. This treaty was signed by Umar and Patriarch Sophronius, along with some of the generals of the Muslim armies.
These treaties by Umar included the following restrictions on the Christians, in return for protection by the ruling Islamic rulers:
- Prohibition against building new churches, places of worship, monasteries.
- Prohibition against rebuilding destroyed churches, by day or night, in their own neighbourhoods or those situated in the quarters of the Muslims.
- The worship places of non-Muslims must be lower in elevation than the lowest mosque in town.
- Prohibition against hanging a cross on the Churches.
- Call of prayer by a bell or a kind of gong to be low in volume.
- Prohibition of Christians and Jews against raising their voices at prayer times.
- Christians were forbidden to show their religion in public, or to be seen with Christian books or symbols in public, on the roads or in the markets of the Muslims.
- Palm Sunday and Easter parades were banned.
- Prohibition against preaching to Muslims in an attempt to convert them from Islam.
- Prohibition against preventing the conversion to Islam of some one who wants to convert.
The consequences of such restrictions over time resulted in removal and destruction of Christian Churches, as many over generations were forcibly converted or willingly left for the advantages offered by conversion to Islam. Revelation 13-4 – “and they also worshiped the beast and asked, “Who is like the beast? Who can wage war against it?”
The Inscriptions on the Dome of of the Rock Against Christianity
Umar immediately set about making the city an important Muslim landmark. He cleared the area of the Temple Mount, where he believed Muhammad ascended to heaven from. Umar and his army (along with some Jews) personally cleaned it and built a mosque – Masjid al-Aqsa – there. Throughout the remainder of Umar’s caliphate and into the Umayyad Empire’s reign over the city, Jerusalem became a major center of religious pilgrimage for Islam. The Dome of the Rock was added to complement Masjid al-Aqsa in 687/688 AD. Numerous other mosques were soon established throughout the city.
Is the Dome of the Rock the visible structure that Jesus spoke about in the Olivet Discourse, visible today in the City? Perhaps so. The inscriptions on the walls of the “Dome of the Rock” confirm the Abomination and Blaspheming of the Holy Trinity: God the Father, Jesus His Son, and the Holy Spirit.
“In the name of God, the Merciful the Compassionate. There is no god but God. He is One. He has no associate.”
“People of the Book! Do not exaggerate in your religion nor utter aught concerning God save the truth. The Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, was only a Messenger of God, and His Word which He conveyed unto Mary, and a spirit from Him. So believe in God and His messengers, and say not ‘Three’ – Cease!“
These are outright rejections here of the Only-Begotten Son, sent into the world to save us. This is an outright directive to reject the Holy Trinity. These inscriptions on the temple mount confirm the warnings and identification by the John and Paul with respect to a coming new major Christological heresy of the Church denying Jesus is the only-begotten Son of God. Such a teaching is by none other than the Arch-Enemy of Christ. Islam stands as an exact opposite and direct contrast to Christianity.
John 2:22 – “Who is the liar, if it is not the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, who denies the Father and the Son.
1 John 4:3- “And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come and even now already is it in the world.”
2 Thessalonians 2:4 – “He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.”
The rejection of worship God as given to us through the Gospels, replaced with a new form of scriptures, is the abomination. The elimination of the Perpetual Sacrifice established by Christ through the Holy Eucharist, and replaced with animal sacrifices, is an abomination. And it has caused great desolation. 250 million deaths since 622 AD at the hands of the religion of “peace.”
The Times Prophecies and Day-Year Principle Validates Sophronius Claim of the Abomination of Desolation
The months”, days” and days” of Daniel are critical time statements in scripture which provide the length of time that the Archenemy of Christ would rule through a great wordly empire to subjugate and persecute the Christians. These numbers are provided to us in the Book of Daniel and Revelation. The Protestant Dispensationalists and Full Preterists misinterpret such time statements and reject the scriptures which teach us this truth. Scriptural use of the word as confirmed by the passage saying, “I have appointed thee each day for a year” (Ezek 4:6 Num. 14: 34), with reference to punishment of the people by God. The year-day principle and method of prophetic interpretation is the logical calculation to the prophecies. And applying this approach to the prophecies relative to the Siege of Jerusalem of 637 AD, and the resulting construction of the most prominent Mosques in Jerusalem, is validated by the Day/Year Principle. And it turns out, the extraordinary results of our calculations proves that Saint Sophronius, the Patriarch of Jerusalem was 100% absolutely correct in identifying Omar’s entrance to the city of Jerusalem the Abomination of Desolation. The calculations can be verified with what I call the “trinity calendar system“, which I previously wrote in an older blog post.” Therefore, when applying the prophetic years (or geometric), solar years or lunar years based on the start of the trampling of Jerusalem or the construction of the Dome of the Rock, we notice a consistent pattern emerging. The fall of the Muslim dominance over Jerusalem occurred upon the completion of the 1260 years or 1290 years as defined and described in the Books of Daniel and Revelation.
Revelation 11:2 – “… the outer court do not measure it, because it has been given to the Gentiles. They will trample on the holy city for 42 months”
Revelation 13:5 – “and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months”
Daniel 7-25: “He will speak out against the Most High and wear down the saints of the Highest One, and he will intend to make alterations in times and in law and they will be given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time.”
Daniel 9:27 – “In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And at the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him”
Daniel 11:11-12 – “And from the time of the removal of the perpetual sacrifice, when the abomination of desolation shall be set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days. Blessed is he that waits, and comes to the thousand three hundred and thirty-five days” (Sir-Brenton’s Theodotion-English Translation)
Daniel 11:11-12 – “And from the time that the time-continuity (endelehismos) shall be altered and the desolation horror be given permission to act, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days blessed is he that waits in endurance and reaches the thousand three-hundred and thirty five days“- (Daniel 12:11-12, Septuagint version).
The meaning of these words is to be seen in the fact that the “continuation” of the perpetual sacrifice observance of the Mosaic law of animal sacrifice was changed by the sacrifice of Christ the Messiah on the Cross, and the former mode of sacrifice was abolished in favor of the type of bloodless sacrifice instituted then in the form of bread and wine in the cup, which is to be followed forever for the remission of sins and unto life everlasting, in accordance with the words of Christ. We can simultaneously measure 1290 years from the deportation of Babylon until the construction of the Dome of the Rock to be 1290 geometric years, 1290 solar years, or 1290 lunar years from the deportation or first temple destruction UNTIL the construction of the Dome of the Rock or Al Asqa Mosque. We can also measure 1290 years from the rise of Omar and the First Caliphate until the fall o the Ottoman Empire to be 1290 years, and 1335 years later we see Jerusalem was liberated from Muslim Rule in the year 1967.
Now let’s summarize the “times” statements in Daniel and Revelation relative to the construction of the edifice in Jerusalem standing in the Holy Place. We can measure:
- 1290 geometric (“prophetic” or “biblical”) years after the deportation of Babylon to the year of the construction of the Dome of the Rock. (see Daniel 12:11)
- 1290 solar years after the deportation of Babylon to the year of the construction of the Al Aqsa Mosque. (see Daniel 12:11)
- 1290 lunar years after the first temple destruction until the construction of the Dome of the Rock (see Daniel 12:11)
- 1290 geometric years from the rise of the first caliphate and invasion of the Levant until the fall of the seventh caliphate in 1922 (see Daniel 12:11)
- 1290 solar years from Umar’s invasion of Jerusalem until 1948 AD, the year of the establishment of the modern nation of Israel. (see Daniel 12:11)
- 1335 geometric years from the rise of the first caliphate until Jerusalem is liberated from Islamic gentile domination (see Daniel 12:12)
- 1260 geometric years from 622 Hegira and Mohammed’s prophetship until the First Aliyah to Palestine in 1882. (see Daniel 7:25, Revelation 11:2)
- 1260 lunar years from 637 Umar’s Siege of Jerusalem until Petah Tikva, the first modern Jewish settlement in Palestine. (see Daniel 7:25, Revelation 11:2)
- 1260 geometric years from 637 Umar’s Siege of Jerusalem until the First Zionist Congress calling for establishment of a permanent home in Palestine. (see Daniel 7:25, Revelation 11:2)
- 1260 solar years form the 637 Umar’s Siege of Jerusalem until the Balfour Declaration. (see Daniel 7:25, Revelation 11:2)
- 1260 geometric years from the construction of the Dome of the Rock in 688 AD until the founding of the modern State of Israel in 1948
- 1260 solar years from the construction of the Dome of the Rock in 688 AD until the Six Day War in 1967 AD, when Jerusalem was no longer under gentile rule by Islam. (see Daniel 7:25, Revelation 11:2)
One thing which also must be factored into the calculation, is the fact that the Dome of the Rock was converted into a Church by the First Crusaders between 1099 AD and 1187 AD.
“On 15 July 1099 Jerusalem fell to the Crusaders after a five week siege and the victors proceeded to massacre the city’s Muslims and Jews. After 460 years of Muslim rule the Crusaders restored Jerusalem to Christian hands, and declared the city the capital of the Kingdom of Jerusalem. The city’s populations underwent a significant change. Western culture now took center-stage, with French the day-to-day language and Latin the language of prayer. The Jewish and Muslim inhabitants were replaced by European and Eastern Christians. Under the Crusaders Jerusalem once more assumed a Christian character, they renewed Christian traditions and rebuilt churches and monasteries. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the prime destination of the Crusaders, was magnificently restored in stone, in Romanesque fashion. The palace of the Patriarch of Jerusalem stood west of the church. To the south was the quarter occupied by the Hospitalers (warrior knights who initially undertook to protect and guide pilgrims, and to lodge them in their vast Jerusalem hospice, and eventually became part of the Kingdom’s defenses). The holy sites on the Temple Mount were declared Christian. The Temple Mount was the seat of the Templars, an order of monastic knights whose names derived from their location. In 1187 Jerusalem fell to Saladin (Salah-al-Din ibn Ayyub), putting an end to the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem. The great golden cross that rose above the Dome of the Rock was toppled and shattered, to be replaced by the crescent, the symbol of Islam. The city was gradually restored by Saladin, who built numerous public structures.”
Therefore, we can make a case that for a completed calculation for the 1260 years, we need to account for the fact the Dome of the Rock was a church for 87 to 88 years. So there might be a temporary cessation or stalling of the full completed calculation. So while a literal 1260 years using the geometric or solar calendars validates and predicts the Jewish return to Palestine 1260 years after the Dome of the Rock was constructed, we will need to add 87 years to the calculation to find the completed fulfillment of Ezekiel 37 and Romans 11.
Conclusion – Saint Sophronius Identified the Abomination of Desolation
When we examine the prophecies of Daniel and Revelation and examine the historical evidence of the siege of Jerusalem beyond 70 AD to ANOTHER trampling of the Holy City in conjunction with the day” calculations of the numerical time statements using the Day-Year principle, we find that Sopronius was correct when he made the following prophetic statement when seeing Omar enter Jerusalem:
“ This is the Abomination of Desolation announced by the Prophet Daniel, and now stands from this point on holy ground .”
We see from Revelation 10-2 that there is a fulfillment of BOTH the Old Temple Mount with the Dome of the Rock, constructed in the outer Court of the Gentiles, and the Mosque of Omar was also constructed in the outer courtyard of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The desolation was not allowed to trample on the Holy of Holies and the Tomb of Christ during the 42 month desolation of Palestine.
This truth proclaimed by Patriarch Sophronius presents a BIG challenge for the Orthodox Christians, poisoned with the imported Protestant Dispensationalist ideas imported into the Church, who look to a future Abomination of Desolation temple to be constructed by a Jewish Antichrist. Either Saint Sophronius is incorrect with his amazing statement calling out the Desolator, or the various Orthodox leaders today writing or preaching about the future abomination temple are wrong. I expect much resistance on my presentation of the evidence that Patriarch Sophronius is proven right. The history, testimony and calculations fully support his statement announcing Omar’s entry into Jerusalem is the realization of Christ’s words spoken in the Olivet Discourse. However this idea will unpopular those within Orthodoxy promoting the “age of apostasy and antichrist” is upon us, as they await and expect a future Abomination of Desolation temple. One thing we should note with the “times” calculations based on the statements and calculations from the time of Sophronius: The identification of the Abomination of Desolation as the Dome of the Rock validates the Jewish return to Palestine 1260 years later, as foretold in the scriptures. And the timing of the Jewish return to Palestine appears to properly identify and reveal the identity of the Abomination of Desolation and the Little Horn of Daniel exactly 1260 years prior with Omar’s invasion and construction of the edifices foretold in the scriptures. The reality is, the great apostasy, division and persecution upon the church by the Dragon came long ago.
Thus we now find ourselves at about the end of the one thousand two hundred and sixty days of the desolation, when the Christian people will soon be called to shake off the moral slavery of Babylon and make ready to welcome the approaching Kingdom of God. “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
Jerusalem under Umer ibn al-Khattab&rsquos Rule
Umar ibn al-Khattab was one of the closest companions of Prophet Muhammad (s) and was the second caliph / ruler of the Muslims (after Abu Bakr Siddiq.) This post reviews some historical facts related to Umar’s forces conquering Jerusalem during the 7th century. This article is taken from the book Jerusalem Religious History: The Centuries old Christian, Jewish, and Islamic struggle for the Holy Lands – authored and published by IqraSense.com.
After the death of Prophet Muhammad, Umar ibn al-Khattab’s forces conquered Jerusalem.  During Umar’s reign, Jerusalem was conquered bloodlessly for the first time by Muslims in the year 638 CE. As Prophet Muhammad (s) had laid the foundation of the religion of Islam (through revelation from God, Allah), Umar’s conquest of Jerusalem is considered to be the first in Islamic history.
During Umar’s reign, his armies advanced into many territories. During these conquests, as the Muslim forces marched toward Jerusalem, the Byzantines were forced to leave Syria. The Muslim armies under the commandership of Amr ibn Al-As reached Jerusalem and lay siege of the city. Amr was later joined by prominent Muslim commanders such as Khalid bin Waleed and Abu Ubaidah ibn al Jarrah. At that time, Bishop Sophronius was the Patriarch  of Jerusalem. Sophronius, who was of an Arab descent, is venerated as a saint in the Catholic as well as the Eastern Orthodox Church. Seeing little hope in resisting, the Christians in Jerusalem decided to surrender at the hands of Caliph Umar’s forces. However, the Bishop demanded that the city keys would be handed over to the Muslims without resistance only if Caliph Umar personally received the city keys. Muslims at that time didn’t favor entertaining the patriarch’s demands saying that as the Christian forces had been vanquished, they were in no position to dictate terms and thus there was no need for the Caliph to go to Jerusalem. On this, Caliph Umar sought the advice of Ali,  one of the Prophet’s closet aides and companions. Ali instead advised Umar to go to Jerusalem on the grounds that he was the victor and that it was from Jerusalem that the Prophet Muhammad (s) ascended the Heavens. On this, Caliph Umar agreed to go to Jerusalem to accept the Christian surrender. When Umar entered the city, he first asked about the location of the site of Al-Aqsa and the Rock from where Prophet Muhammad (s) ascended for Me’raj. At that time, the Dome of the Rock had not yet been built. The Bishop took him to the site (known to the Jews as Temple Mount), which to Umar’s disappointment was being used as a garbage dump. This is because under the Christian rule at that time, Jews were not allowed to worship or even enter Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa site (Temple Mount) had no specific religious significance for the Christians. He also found out that the Al-Aqsa mosque was destroyed by the Romans. On seeing the state of the Al-Aqsa site (Temple Mount), Umar said:
“Allah (God) is Great, I swear by the one who holds my soul in his hand that this is the Mosque of David which the prophet of Allah described to us after his night journey.” 
The Caliph then asked Kaab al-Ahbar, a Jewish Rabbi who had converted to Islam and came with Umar from Medina, to guide him to the place of the Rock. Umar used his clothes to remove the trash covering the Rock, and other Muslims followed Umar and they cleaned the Al-Aqsa site. Umar also fenced the rock and an Umayyad ruler later built the Dome of the Rock on the Al-Aqsa site (the site on which stand the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque.)
In Jerusalem, Caliph Umar was also taken to the Church of Holy Sepulcher and was offered the opportunity by the Christian leadership to pray in the church. The Caliph, in the view of Muslims, acted with prudence and refused to pray inside the church. He feared that future Muslim generations might decide to follow his footsteps and demand that the church be converted into a mosque. The Caliph therefore preferred to pray outside and a mosque was later built in his name called the Mosque of Umar. This mosque is currently located opposite the southern courtyard of the church.
On the surrender of Jerusalem’s Patriarch Sophronius, no killing or destruction was carried out by Muslims. It was a peaceful transition and all the holy sites of Christians were left untouched. Caliph Umar signed a treaty with Sophronius and as a result, Christians were allowed to live in the city. The treaty Umar signed was as follows:
From the servant of Allah and the Commander of the Faithful, Omar: The inhabitants of Jerusalem are granted security of life and property. Their churches and crosses shall be secure. This treaty applies to all people of the city. Their places of worship shall remain intact. These shall neither be taken over nor pulled down. People shall be quite free to follow their religion. They shall not be put to any trouble… 
History notes that before the Muslim conquest of Jerusalem, the Jews were not allowed to live inside the city. Although Jews were eventually allowed to come to Jerusalem for worship, the Christian ruler had requested that the Jews were not to be allowed to live in Jerusalem. Under the surrender terms, Caliph Umar accepted that request. However, later the Muslims relaxed the rules and the Jews were also allowed to enter the city and settle with the rest of the population. Caliph Umar also assured the Christian ruler that the Christians would have full rights under the Muslim rule and they would not be harmed in any way. They would have complete protection as specifically directed by Islamic laws. The Muslim rulers following Caliph Umar understood the nobility of Jerusalem in the hearts of Jews and Christians and thus the three religions started to practice their beliefs freely in Jerusalem.
In course of time, many scholars belonging to the three religions came and settled in Jerusalem. For Muslims, Jerusalem, especially the Al-Aqsa mosque, became a large hub of learning. It also became common for Muslims to start mentioning in their wills the desire to be buried in Jerusalem. This is one of the reasons why there are thousands of Muslim graves in Jerusalem. The Muslim rulers later also built many schools, religious centers and hospitals in Jerusalem. Large areas of land was purchased and dedicated to religious activities.
Masjid Al-Aqsa in Jerusalem, Israel.
 Umar was the second Islamic Caliph after Abu-Bakr al-Siddiq. Abu-Bakr was the first Muslim Caliph (ruler) appointed after the death of Prophet Muhammad.
 The Levant includes Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Iraq. Occasionally Cyprus, Sinai, and Israel are also included. The UCL Institute of Archeology describes the Levant as the “crossroads of western Asia, the eastern Mediterranean and northeast Africa.”
 In general, the highest-ranking bishops in Eastern Orthodoxy, and the Roman Catholic Church, are called patriarchs.
 Ali became the Caliph after the reign of Uthman, who in turn became the Caliph after the assassination of Umar.
Saladin defeated the crusaders and re-took Jerusalem in 1187
SALADIN or YUSUF SALAH-UD-DIN AYUBI, Sultan of Egypt and Syria, is one of the most revered heroes in Islam. He was a gifted leader, an astute general and military strategist a statesman and nation-builder. He united the warring Arab factions in the Islamic world and challenged them to confront their ‘common’ enemy: The Crusaders, who had checked their dominance in the Middle East and, in 1099 A.D., had wrested control from them of the Holy City of Jerusalem, the capital of Palestine. That was after the First Crusade which was launched by Pope Urban II in 1095 A. D. for that very purpose.
However, by the late twelfth century, with the arrival on the scene of the great Muslim conqueror, Salah-ud-Din (or Saladin as he is commonly known in the West), the tide against the invading Christians began to turn in favour of the Muslims. Salah-ud-Din posed a direct threat to the Holy City, which had been, by then, in their hands for almost a century. It was the leadership of Salah-ud-Din that had made the difference. Alarmed, Pope Clement III called on the rulers of Europe to embark on a new Crusade – the Third — to defend the Holy City and thwart the Arabs’ attempts to take it back.
In fact, the Holy City of Jerusalem, so strongly associated with Jesus Christ, had fallen to the Muslim Arabs in 637 A.D. under Omar bin Khattab (R.A.), the Second Caliph of Islam, who interestingly made the long trip from Arabia to Jerusalem to sign the treaty that ceded Jerusalem to the Muslims. However, Caliph Omar showed uncommon magnanimity to the Christians and allowed them the freedom of worship and movement in the holy city in return of certain guarantees.
Pope Clement’s call to the Christian rulers of Europe in 1095 A.D. to defend and protect Jerusalem, did not go unheeded. Several kings and princes answered his call and joined the Third Crusade and, after a most brutal attack on the Holy City that saw hitherto unseen cruelty and savagery towards Muslims, Jews, men, women and children after the city fell to them. The memory of the brutal attacks ever remained a painful reminder to the Arabs of their defeat and humiliation. In fact, the Christians would rule Jerusalem for the next eighty-eight years – that is, until 1177 A. D., when Salah ud-Din appeared on the scene.
Salah-ud-Din would do what no other Arab leaders had been able to achieve before him. He united the warring Arabs under one banner – the banner of Islam — and waged war against the European invaders — third Crusade – led by three European kings: King Richard I of England, also known as the Lion–Heart King Frederick Barbarossa of Germany and King Philip II of France.
Unfortunately for the Crusaders, things would not go well for them right from the start – especially with the three leaders. The elderly King Frederick Barbarossa drowned during the trip in the sea of Anatolia and, without him, his troops fell into disarray and were not of much help. The French King had a falling out with King Richard of England and, after a quarrel, opted to return home to France. Only King Richard was left to fight the Arab forces but in Salah-ud-Din, the Crusaders had met their match. Salah-ud-Din routed the Crusaders at the deciding Battle of Hattin in 1177 and laid siege to the City of Jerusalem till it was forced to surrender. By 1187, Jerusalem was thus back into Muslim hands and would remain so till the end of World War I – that is, till 1918.
Salah-ud-Din’s victory over the crusading forces at Hattin is regarded as one of the great triumphs of Islam over the Crusading forces. During his successful campaign against the invading Crusaders, Salah-ud-Din, who had been brought up under strict orthodox Islam, showed the magnificent side of his character, his deep humanity, his compassion and humanity towards his ‘enemies’.
In his novel, “The Talisman,” Sir Walter Scott literally depicts the great human traits of Salah-ud-Din as a person, as a leader and as a general and highlights his magnanimity towards the English King although we know that, in reality, Salah-ud-Din and King Richard never met in person. But it is true that Salah-ud-Din did send his personal physician to tend to the English king when the latter was sick – a gesture that drew much respect for the Muslim Conqueror among his ‘enemies’.
In fact, it is said that when Salah-ud-Din entered Jerusalem in 1187, what a contrast it was from the scene when the Crusaders overran it in 1177! The Crusaders then had turned the place, as one chronicler put it, “into pools of blood,” killing indiscriminately Muslims, Jews, men, women and children who showed up in their path. However, with Salah-ud -Din, it was all a different story. He showed uncommon generosity, kindness and humanity towards his enemies. He allowed freedom of movement to all residents who chose to leave.
Moreover, in the Ridley Scott’s Hollywood classic (movie) “Kingdom of Heaven”, which is set at the time of the Third Crusade and depicts the fall of Jerusalem to the Salah ud-Din, there is a particular scene in the movie that shows the mighty Salah-ud-Din walking triumphantly down the defeated Christians’ camp amidst masses of debris and destruction when he notices a Cross lying on the ground. He, immediately stops in his tracks, very reverently stoops down, picks up the Cross, and respectfully places it upright on a ‘table’ and proceeds on to whatever business he was up to.
Salah-ud-Din was born in 1138 A.D. in the town of Tikrit, now in Iraq. He was of Kurdish origin. He was brought up under strict orthodox sunni traditions. He scrupulously followed the teachings of the Qur’an and the precepts laid down by the Prophet (pbuh). He was a Muslim first and then Sultan. So much so and it is not surprising at all that even to-day, centuries after his death, that he remains an iconic figure in Islamic history and continues to enjoy great adulation and love throughout the Muslim world and revered as one of the most beloved heroes of Islam.
Salah-ud-Din got his military training under his uncle, Assad al-Din Sirkuth, who was also his mentor and a top official in the Fatimid Caliphate army. The young Salah-ud-Din made his grade in the army he proved his mettle as a military leader with his brilliant exploits and, it was no surprise that he soon found himself named to the powerful position of Vizier of Egypt — a significant recognition of his great leadership skills.
Also, what was remarkable about his appointment as Vizier was the fact that Salah-ud-Din was himself a sunni Muslim serving the Fatimid (Shia) Caliphate.
Salah-ud-Din’s brilliant successes on the battlefield earned him much admiration and respect and his influence and power continued to grow until he felt strong enough to claim the throne of Egypt and proclaimed himself Sultan – a claim that was readily endorsed by the rival Sunni Caliph in Baghdad. However, Salah-ud-Din would soon abolish the Fatimid Caliphate, which had ruled for over a century in Egypt and thus put an end to the domination of the Shias in the Caliphate altogether.
Salah-ud-Din would later conquer Syria as well as a good chunk of Yemen and territories in North Africa. He, understandably, proclaimed himself Sultan of these realms as well. He was a strong and powerful leader who literally checked the advance of the Europeans in the Middle East.
However, the Arabs’ dominance in the region would eventually be replaced by the Ottoman Turks — a Muslim dynasty who, like Salah-ud-Din, professed sunni Islam. Thus, the Muslims would emerge as the dominating power in the Middle East, controlling Palestine and the city of Jerusalem and that until the end of World War I in 1914. The Ottomans, until then, had kept Islam unchallenged in the region.
It is said that by the time Salah-ud-Din died in March 1193, he had given away all his wealth to charity so much so that there wasn’t even enough to pay for his own funeral. Yet, he was buried with full honours in the northern corner of the famous Grand Umeyyad Mosque in Damascus, in Syria. He was an icon and a great warrior of Islam. His mausoleum, located just on the outside of the famous Umeyyad Mosque, is still visited by thousands every year and has been, over the years, a major attraction to visitors – Muslims and non-Muslims alike.
General Edmund Allenby read out a text accepting the surrender of Jerusalem and declaring British martial law in the city from the steps of David’s Tower. Allenby, a devout Christian, carefully coordinated the character of his entry into Jerusalem with British prime minister David Lloyd George, who’d asked him to deliver Jerusalem to the embattled Allies as a Christmas present, in time for December 25. The Commander in Chief of His Majesty’s Forces entered Jerusalem on foot, like a simple pilgrim, in stark contrast to Kaiser Wilhelm’s entry on horseback (followed by his family in a horse-drawn carriage – for which a gap had had to be blasted in the wall surrounding the Old City) nineteen years earlier. The conquest of Jerusalem and with it the Holy Land marked the beginning of the turning of the tide against that same Kaiser Wilhelm’s German army, which would only be defeated finally almost a year later in November 1918.
The Turkish forces in Jerusalem had actually surrendered on December 9, after the British had won a series of fierce battles for the approaches to Jerusalem in November, and then succeeded in repulsing Ottoman counter-attacks and bringing in reinforcements to entrench their new line of defense around the city. The Ottoman army retreated after the capture of Solomon’s Pools near Bethlehem, leaving Jerusalem undefended. It was left to the mayor, waving a white flag of surrender supplied by Anna Stafford of the American Colony in Jerusalem, to hand over the city to the British.
The irony is that this Ottoman official was forced to surrender time after time – first to two sergeants, who refused to accept the governor’s letter relinquishing the city, as they lacked proper authority to do so, then to other army personnel until it was eventually accepted by Brigadier General C.F. Watson – and then again by his superior, Major General John Shea. Even then, he had to repeat the experience once again in an official capacity after General Allenby had time to make his way from Jaffa to Jerusalem to proclaim the beginning of martial law.
Siege of Jerusalem – Year 1187
The Siege of Jerusalem occurred from September 20 to October 2, 1187 which resulted in the near total breakdown of the crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem and the regain of Jerusalem by Saladin. Provoking the Third Crusade by allowing its primary goal to return Jerusalem to Christendom.
On July 4 1187, the Kingdom of Jerusalem was completely overthrown at the Battle of Hattin. Saladin took over Acre, Jaffa, Nablus, Sidon, Toron, Ascalon and Beirut. Other refugees and survivors of the battle escaped to Tyre, which was the only city able to maintain strength against Saladin. Balian of Ibelin had asked Saladin for safe passage to Jerusalem to allow him to retrieve Maria Comnena his wife and their family. This request was granted by Saladin, upon terms that Balian not to remain in Jerusalem or take up arms against him. Patriarch Heraclius, Queen Sibylla and the rest of the settlers begged him to take charge to guard the city.
Heraclius then argued that he must remain for the sake of Christianity and offered to exempt him of the oath, in Balian agreed upon. The decision was presented to Saladin at Ascalon via a group of representatives of burgesses, who denied the sultans proposals for a discussed surrender of Jerusalem. Saladin then made arrangement for an chaperon to accompany his wife, children and entire household to Tripoli.
The situation in Jerusalem was grim. The city was filled with refugees escaping Saladin’s conquests. There were less than fourteen knights in the entire city so sixty new squires were created from the burgesses and knights in training. The armies of Egypt and Syria were assembled under Saladin and after a short and failed siege of Tyre, the sultan arrived outside Jerusalem on September 26. It is believed that the sultan rounded up the remaining Muslim soldiers whom had survived at the Horns of Hattin, along with several thousand troops from Egypt and Syria. Saladin favoured to take the city without bloodshed, but those inside the city vowed to destroy it till the death rather than handing it over peacefully and the siege began.
Saladin moved his camp on September 26 to the Mount of Olives from where there was no major wall from which the reformers could counter attack. A portion of the wall collapsed on September 29 through the constant siege of attack.Balian rode out at the end of September with an embassy to meet with the Sultan, offering the surrender that had been refused. Balian finally agreed that the city would be handed over to Saladin peacefully.
The keys to the Tower of David were handed over by Balian on October 2. Those that were forced into slavery were freed through Saladin’s generosity. Balian and Heraclius freed many with their own money and even offered themselves as hostages for the remaining several thousand citizens whose ransoms had not been paid. Saladin refused this offer and allowed for a march from Jerusalem. Balian was allowed to join his wife and family in Tripoli. Heraclius evacuated a number of church treasures and containers for relics which brought scandal to the Muslim chronicler Imad ad-Din al-Isfahani.
Surrender of Jerusalem (1187 CE) - History
in Hisham Nashabe (ed) Studia Palaestina: Studies in honour of Constantine K. Zurayk, Institute for Palestine Studies, Beirut 1988.
This statement not only sums up Salah al-Din's attitude towards Jerusalem but also embodies what the Arabs and the Muslims of the area keenly felt. That the liberation of Jerusalem had always been the ultimate goal of Salah al-Din (d. A.H. 589/A.D. 1193), as it had been that of his predecessor Nur al-Din Zangi (d. A.H. 569/A.D. 1174), is a historical fact for which evidence is abundant. Interruptions in Salah al-Din's progress towards achieving this goal may have led some historians to minimize his quest for the recovery of the city, but, in our judgment, this is a misreading of history.
The accounts of the actual capture of Jerusalem are varied with respect to the perspective from which they were written and the details they give. However, despite some discrepancies, they cohere and complement one another. Our concern in this article will be mainly with the different aspects of Salah al-Din's recovery of Jerusalem: the military, the demographic, and the ideological. We will thus focus on the following topics:
- I. Jerusalem Between July and September 1187
- II. Salah al-Din's Attack
- III. The Surrender of Jerusalem
- IV. The Latin Exodus
- V. The Fate of the Native Christians
- VI. The Muslim Response to the Liberation of Jerusalem.
There is some measure of coherence among the Arabic accounts as well as between the Arabic accounts and Ernoul's account. The consistency of these accounts itself supports their claim to authenticity. In addition to the medieval accounts, we will also use, wherever possible, modern sources that have utilized accounts in Latin.
Jerusalem Between July and September 1187
Jerusalem, the capital of the Latin kingdom, had suffered a great loss of manpower as a result of Hittin. Among those captured or killed were the king, Gui of Lusignan his counsellors his brother Amaury, the constable of the kingdom the grand masters of the Templars and the Hospitallers, and a large number of the knights of these two military orders. The only surviving leaders, who fled the battle to safety through Muslim lines, were Raymond of Tripoli, Reynold of Sidon, and Balian of Ibelin (referred to in Arabic sources as Balian Ibn Barzan). These men had enjoyed friendly relations with Salah al-Din and were suspected by the Latins of complicity with him. Of the three, the most important for our discussion is Balian.
While Salah al-Din mopped up Crusader strongholds in Palestine after the battle of Hittin, Jerusalem was placed under a temporary government, with Queen Sybil, wife of Gui of Lusignan, as the ruler along with Heraclius, the controversial and unpopular patriarch. The city faced many problems. In addition to the loss of most of its male population, it suffered from a shortage of food because the battle of Hittin had occurred at harvest time and, accordingly, the crops were lost.
The shortage of food and supplies became more acute as refugees poured into Jerusalem from most of the areas surrounding it. Some of these refugees must have gone to Jerusalem seeking shelter within its walls, while others presumably went to defend the city, just as native Palestinians had done ninety years earlier. The city, which could accommodate a population of about 30,000, became the residence of about 60,000 persons, according to estimates of Arab chroniclers. As Runciman indicates, there were fifty women and children for every man. Refugees so crowded the streets, the churches, and the houses that the walled city could hardly accommodate them. According to Ibn al-Athir's somewhat exaggerated description, when Salah al-Din's forces approached the city, "they saw on the wall a terrifying crowd of men and heard an uproar of voices coming from the people inside the wall, which led them to infer that a large population was assembled there.''
Faced with all these problems, Jerusalem could not have resisted an attack by Salah al-Din for very long. Realizing this, its authorities tried to establish contact with Salah al-Din to discuss the future of the city. We have two different accounts of their efforts.
The first, by Abu Shamah, who quotes al-Qadisi, indicates that Salah al-Din had said in a letter to a relative that the sovereign of Jerusalem (Malik al-Quds) had contacted him during his attack on Tyre (Jumada al-Thani, A.H. 583/August, A.D. 1187) to ask for safe conduct (aman), and that Salah al-Din had responded, "I will come to you in Jerusalem." According to al-Qadisi, the astrologers informed Salah al-Din that the stars indicated he would enter Jerusalem but that he would lose one eye. To this Salah al-Din responded, "I would not mind losing my sight if I took the city." Only the siege of Tyre prevented him from going to Jerusalem.
The second account is by Emoul, the Latin chronicler who was in Jerusalem during Salah al-Din's invasion of the Latin kingdom, and it provides details that do not appear in the Arabic sources. Ernoul indicates that a delegation of citizens from Jerusalem went to see Salah al-Din on the day he took 'Asqalan (Jumada al-Thani, A.H. 583/September, A.D. 1187) to ask for a peaceful solution for Jerusalem. On the day of the meeting there was an eclipse of the sun, which the Latin delegates considered to be a bad omen. Never- theless, Salah al-Din offered them generous terms for the city: They were to be allowed to remain in the city temporarily, they were to retain the land within a radius of five leagues around it, and they were to receive the supplies they needed from Salah al-Din. The settlement was to remain valid until Pentecost. If the citizens of Jerusalem could obtain external help, they would remain rulers of the city if not, they were to surrender it and remove themselves to Christian lands.
According to Ernoul, the delegation rejected this offer, saying they would never give up the city in which "the Lord died for them." Salah al-Din then vowed to take Jerusalem by force and started his march against the city.
It seems most probable that there was more than one contact between Salah al-Din and the authorities in Jerusalem, the first being in Tyre. 'Imad al-Din informs us that while at Tyre Salah al-Din summoned King Gui and the grand master of the Templars and promised both of them freedom if they helped him secure the surrender of other cities. These two did in fact later help him to secure the surrender of 'Asqalan and Gaza. Salah al-Din may at the same time also have contacted Balian of Ibelin, who was already in Tyre, and asked him to secure the surrender of Jerusalem. Ernoul mentions that while Salah al-Din was in Tyre, Balian sought his permission to go to Jerusalem in order to rescue his wife, Maria Comnena, as well as other members of his family and their possessions. Salah al-Din granted him permission to go to Jerusalem on the condition that he not bear weapons against him and that he spend only one night there.
In so doing, Salah al-Din must have hoped to use Balian as his chief negotiator for the surrender of Jerusalem. Balian ultimately did negotiate the surrender of the city, but only after he had broken his agreement with Salah al-Din and played a dramatic role in its defence.
After arriving in Jerusalem, Balian was pressed by the patriarch to remain there and to mobilize the population for its defence. At first Balian resisted, insisting that he would adhere 10 his commitment to Salah al-Din. But at the insistence ol the patriarch, who absolved him of his oath, Balian finally consented to accept the leadership of the city. His rank among the Latins was, according to Ibn al-Athir, analogous to that of a king.
Balian began immediately to consolidate the Latin forces and plan the defence of the city. According to Latin sources, he found only two knights in the city who had survived Hittin. Thus, to make up for the shortage of male fighters, he knighted fifty sons of the nobility. According to Runciman, he knighted every boy of noble origin who was over sixteen years of age he also knighted sixty burgesses. Since money was scarce, Balian, with the blessing of the Patriarch Heraclius, stripped the silver from the roof of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and used it, along with some church funds and money that King Henry II of England had sent to the Hospitallers, to produce a currency. He then distributed arms to every able-bodied man in the city.
As the undisputed ruler of Jerusalem, Balian is most likely to have contacted Salah al-Din once again regarding Jerusalem at 'Asqa- lan. According to Latin sources, Balian wrote him at 'Asqalan to apologize for having broken his agreement and to ask his forgiveness, which Salah al-Din gave.2
No one knows the nature of the secret correspondence between the two leaders, but the terms that Ernoul alleges Salah al-Din to have proposed, regarding the fate of Jerusalem, seem doubtful. Salah al-Din was by then well aware that Jerusalem would not be able to hold out against him for long, especially since he had isolated it almost completely. Nor would he have allowed a situation to develop in Jerusalem such as that in Tyre, which had become the centre of resistance against his forces. Furthermore, even before the capture of 'Asqalan, Salah al-Din had written to the caliph and to other relatives announcing his intention to capture the city. In one letter he stated, "The march to Jerusalem will not be delayed, for this is precisely the right time to liberate it."
Ernoul's account need not be taken as a contradiction of other accounts. Moreover, although it raises many questions, one cannot discount it. Hence, it seems quite likely that a Latin delegation went to 'Asqalan proposing the kind of terms that Ernoul attributed to Salah al-Din, that Salah al-Din rejected them, and that the authorities in Jerusalem began their preparations for the defence of the city.
Salah al-Din's Attack
As they were approaching Jerusalem, however, the vanguard of the army, unaware of the presence of Latin scouts, was ambushed near al-Qubeiba and sustained heavy losses. Ibn al-Athir, who mentions this incident without indicating its location, notes that one of Salah al-Din's commanders, an amir, was killed along with some of his men. This incident grieved Muslims greatly.
Upon reaching Jerusalem Salah al-Din enquired about the location of al-Aqsa mosque and the shortest route to it, "which is also the shortest route to Heaven." As 'Imad al-Din reports, he swore to bring back to the sacred shrines their old grandeur and vowed not to leave Jerusalem until he had recovered the Dome of the Rock, "from which the Prophet had set foot," raised his flag on its highest point, and visited it personally.
According to Arabic sources, Salah al-Din arrived from 'Asqalan at the western side of the city on Sunday, 15 Rajab, A.H. 583/21 September, A.D. 1187, although, according to Ernoul, he arrived on Thursday evening, 12 Rajab, A.H. 583/18 September, A.D. 1187. The next day, Ernoul says, Salah al-Din ranged his forces opposite the western wall of Jerusalem, where he subsequently started his attack. Arabic chroniclers do not tell us the exact location of Salah al-Din's forces in the first few days of combat, but Ernoul states that they were stationed opposite the western wall between David's Gate (Bab al-Khalil) and St. Stephen's Gate (Bab al-'Amud). More specifically, they were facing the hospital for leper women behind David's Gate and that for leper men near St. Stephen's Gate.
The western side of the city was well fortified because of its geographical location. Al-Qadi al-Fadil describes it as follows:
" From this side of the city, where he [Salah al-Din j had encamped, he saw a deep valley, a precipice rugged and profound, with a wall which encircled the city like a bracelet, and towers which represented the larger pearls of the necklace worn by that place of residence."
This location was extremely difficult for Salah al-Din's army, or any other, to attack, for it enclosed two towers. The first was David's Tower (al-Qal'a), which was impregnable, and the second was Tancred's Tower. According to a twelfth-century Latin pilgrim, David's Tower contained two hundred steps leading to the summit and formed the main defence of the city. It was very heavily guarded in times of both peace and war. During the confrontation with Salah al-Din most of the Latin fighters were stationed in David's Tower. This same citadel had been attacked by Raymond of Toulouse, ninety years before Salah al-Din, and had been taken from its defenders only after they had surrendered.
This part of the western wall gave the Latins other advantages as well. According to Ernoul, they had the sun to their backs, while Salah al-Din's forces were facing it. This fact determined to some extent the pattern of battle, for the Latins attacked the forces of Salah al-Din in the morning, trying to push them away from the walls, while Salah al-Din's forces attacked the Latins in the afternoon and continued the fight until nightfall.
The Latins had the upper hand at first. Writing of some of the battles between the two sides, 'Imad al-Din hints at the courage of the enemy:
"They challenged [us I to combat and barred the pass. They came down into the lists like enernies. They slaughtered and drew blood. They blazed with fury and defended the city . They drove us back and defended themselves. They became inflamed and caused us harm, groaned, incited, and called for help in a foreign tongue. They clustered together and obstinately stood their ground. They made themselves a target for arrows and called on death to stand by them. They said: "Each one of us is worth 20, and every ten is worth 200! We shall bring about the end of the world in defence of the church of resurrection." So the battle continued, as well as slaughter with spear and sword."
Ernoul provides additional details of the battle at the western wall. He says that Salah al-Din had at first warned the authorities in Jerusalem and asked them to surrender, but they had rejected his request because they were very well armed and fortified. Salah al-Din then ordered his troops to attack the city. They tried to reach the gates several times but failed. The Latins, in turn, tried to make sorties but were repulsed.
As the fighting raged, Salah al-Din travelled around the city in an attempt to find a more suitable location for his attack. After one week, according to Ernoul, or five days, according to the Arab chroniclers -- he decided to reposition his forces. Abandoning their old encampment between David's Gate and St. Stephen's Gate his troops camped in a triangular area at the northeastern corner of the city, where, Ernoul tells us, they were facing the area between the Postern of St. Mary Magdalen (Bab al-Sahira) and the Gate of Jehoshafat (Bab al-Asbat). According to al-Qadi al-Fadil, this area was more accessible and better suited to the movement of cavalry. Salah al-Din pitched his tent very close to the city walls so that it could be reached easily by the weapons of the enemy.
The new location, on the Mount of Olives (Jabal al-Zaytun), was quite high, according to Ernoul, so that from it Salah al-Din was able to watch the movement of the Latin forces insidc the city walls, except in those streets that were covered. Furthermore, in this location Salah al-Din's forces had their backs to the sun, while the Latins were facing its glare.
In addition, a demographic factor made it more favourable to Salah al-Din. The northern triangular section of the city, which extended between St. Stephen's Gate and the Gate of Jehoshafat and which was known in medieval times as the Juiverie, enclosed the quarters of the native Christians. Often referred to in medieval chronicles as 'Syrians," they formed the most underprivileged community in Jerusalem under Latin rule and were despised by their Latin neighbours. Medieval Latin pilgrims placed them at the bottom of the demographic scale next to Muslims, or "Saracens."
The native Christians were more inclined towards Salah al-Din than towards the Latins. For besides their hostile relations with the Latins and their linguistic and ethnic identification with the Arabs of the area, they were also influenced by the Greek Orthodox Church in Byzantium. Byzantium at this time was an ally of Salah al-Din. The Emperor Isaac II Angelus had confirmed an agreement with Salah al-Din in A.D.1185, according to which Salah al-Din offered to convert existing Latin churches in the Holy Land to the Christian rite once they had been recovered.
Once in Jerusalem, Salah al-Din seems to have contacted the leaders of the native Christian community through an Orthodox Christian scholar from Jerusalem, known as Joseph Batit. Batit, as Runciman says, had even secured a promise from the leaders of the community that they would open the gates of the city in the vicinity of Salah al-Din, but this did not take place because the R Latins decided to surrender the city.
On Friday, 20 Rajab, A.H. 583/25 September, A.D. 1187, Salah al-Din set up his mangonels and started his attack on the city. Ibn Shaddad gives a brief account of the battle, stating only that Salah al-Din pressed his attack on the city in hand-to-hand combat and through the use of archers, until a breach was made in the wall facing the Jehoshafat Valley (Wadi Jahannam) in a northern villagc. Realizing the inevitability of their defeat, the besieged Latins decided to ask for safe conduct and thus sent messengers to Salah al-Din to ask for a settlement. An agreement was soon reached.
Ibn al-Athir's account of the battle is more detailed. According to him, on the night of 20 Rajab, A.H. 53/25 September, A.D. 1187 Salah al-Din installed his mangonels, and by morning his machinery was functional. The Latins also installed their mangonels on the wall and started to fire their catapults. Both sides fought bravely, each considering its struggle to bc in defence of its faith. The Latin cavalry left the city daily to engage in combat with Salah al-Din's forces, and both sustained casualties.
In one of these battles a Muslim commander, 'Izz al-Din 'Isa Ibn Malik, was martyred by the Latins. His death so grieved the Muslims that they charged the Latins vehemently, forcing them away from their positions and pushing them back into the walls of the city. The Muslims crossed the moat and reached the wall. Sappers prepared to destroy it while archers gave them cover, and mangonels continued bombarding the Latins to drive them away from the wall so the sappers could complete their work. When the wall had been breached, sappers filled it witll wood.
Realizing that they were on the verge of perishing, the Latin leaders met in council and agreed to surrender Jerusalem to Salah al-Din and to ask him for safe conduct. Accordingly, they sent a delegation of their leaders to speak with Salah al-Din, but he turned them away, saying that he would treat them the way their anccstors had treated the residents of Jerusalem in A.H. 492/A.D. 1099, by death and captivity. On the following day, Balian Ibn Barzan (Balian of Ibelin) left Jerusalem to discuss the future of the city and its population with Salah al-Din.
Al-Qadi al-Fadil gives us an account that differs slightly from that of Ibn al-Athir. According to him, the authorities in Jerusalem first sent a message to Salah al-Din offering to pay tribute for a limited period. This was only a delaying tactic until they could secure external help, however, and Salah al-Din, perceiving their intentions, rejected the offer and positioned his mangonels closer to the wal1.
According to al-Qadi al-Fadil, the fire from the mangonels destroyed thc tops of the towers, "which were used to repel the attacks." When they collapsed, "the towers made such a noise that even the deafest among the enemy must have heard it." The defenders thus had to abandon their positions, giving the sappers a chance to accomplish their task. When the wall fell, Balian Ibn Barzan, the leader of the besieged, left the city and told Salah al-Din that Jerusalem should be taken by surrender rather than by force.
Before discussing the negotiations between Salah al-Din and Balian, we shall present the viewpoint of the Latin chroniclers, which supplements the Arabic accounts.
Although Ernoul and the author of Libellus agree with the Arabic accounts, they give us more details about the last stages of the war and the resulting negotiations. Ernoul says that the battle at the northeastern corner of the city lasted one week. The author of Libellus notes that Salah al-Din divided his forces, using 10,000 archers or more, "well armed down to their heels," to shoot at the walls. At the same time, according to Ernoul, about 10,000 horsemen, armed with lances and bows, waited between St. Stephen's Gate and the Gate of Jehoshafat to repulse any sortie by the Latin garrison, while the rest of his army was deployed around the siege engines.
] When Salah al-Din's forces breached the wall, the defenders tried to drive them "away with stones and molten lead, as well as with arrows and spears," but they failed. They attempted a sortie, but this too failed. Sappers in Salah al-Din's army succeeded in making a breach, about thirty metres in length, in the wall which was sapped in two days. After that, the defenders fled the walls: "In the whole city there was not found a man bold enough to dare stand guard for a single night for a 100-bezant reward."
The author of Libellus states that he personally heard a proclamation by the patriarch and others indicating that "if 50 strong men and daring servants were found who could guard the corner that had been destroyed for that one night, they would be given all the arms they wanted, but they were not to be found."
The breach in the wall was in the same spot from which the first Crusaders had entered the city in 1099. When the wall fell, the great cross that had been installed there to celebrate the capture of Jerusalem by the Latins in that year also fell.
The Surrender of Jerusalem
The patriarch rejected this proposal, however, arguing that if all the men died, the fate of the women and children in the city would be left in the hands of the Muslim forces, who would certainly convert them to Islam. He proposed instead that the city should be surrendered, and he promised that after surrendering it, the Latins would seek help from Europe. The authorities accordingly agreed, and hence dispatched Balian to discuss the terms of the surrender with Salah al-Din. According to Ernoul, Balian left the city to negotiate with Salah al-Din, and, while the talks were in progress, the Muslim forces succeeded in raising their flag on the main wall. Rejoicing, Salah al-Din turned to Balian and asked: "Why are you proposing to surrender the city? We have already captured it!" However, the Latins counter-attacked Salah al-Din's forces, driving them away from the section they had captured. Salah al-Din was so angered by this that he dismissed Balian and told him to return the following day.
When Balian returned to the city without an agreement, fear gripped the population. According to Ernoul, the citizens "crowded in the churches to pray and confess their sins, [they] beat themselves with stones and scourges, begging for God's mercy." The Latin women in the city placed tubs in front of Mount Calvary and filled them with cold water, then took their young daughters, stripped them naked, and placed them in the water up to their necks. They cut their hair and burned it in the hope of averting their shame. Meanwhile, the clergy walked in procession around the walls of the city chanting psalms and carrying the Syrian "true cross," which had been kept in the city after the "true cross" of the Latins had fallen into the hands of Salah al-Din's forces at the battle of Hittin. Ernoul reports that the entire population took part in the procession, except for the very old men, who locked themselves inside their homes.
When Balian appeared again before Salah al-Din, he asked for a general amnesty in return for the surrender of the city, but Salah al-Din rejected his request. Balian then threatened that the Latins inside the city would fight to the death: They would burn their houses, destroy the Dome of the Rock, uproot the Rock, and kill all Muslim prisoners, who were estimated to number in the thousands they would destroy their property and kill their women and children. According to al-Qadi al-Fadil, Balian also "offered a tribute in an amount that even the most covetous could not have hoped for."
Salah al-Din met with his commanders and told them that this was an excellent opportunity to capture the city without further bloodshed. After lengthy negotiations, an agreement was reached between Salah al-Din and the Latins according to which they were granted safe conduct to leave the city, provided that each male paid a ransom of ten dinars, each female paid five dinars, and each child was ransomed for two dinars. All those who paid their ransom within forty days were allowed to leave the city, while those who could not ransom themselves were to be enslaved.
'Imad al-Din indicates that Balian offered to pay 30,000 dinars on behalf of the poor, an offer that was accepted, and the city was at last surrendered on Friday, 27 Rajab, A.H. 583/2 October, A.D. 1187. The twenty-seventh of Rajab was the anniversary of al-Mi'raj, through which Jerusalem had become a part of Islamic history and piety . When Salah al-Din entered Jerusalem triumphantly, he immediately released the Muslim prisoners, who, according to Ibn Shaddad, numbered close to 3,ooo. The newly released captives were later rewarded with the homes vacated by the Latins.
Meanwhile, the Latins started to prepare for their departure. They began to sell their property and possessions at very low prices to the merchants in Salah al-Din's army, as well as to native Christians. According to 'Imad al-Din, they stripped the ornaments from their churches, carrying with them vases of gold and silver and silk- and gold-embroidered curtains as well as church treasures. The Patriarch Heraclius collected and carried away gold plating, gold and silver jewelry, and other arteacts from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
In order to control the departing population, Salah al-Din ordered that all the gates of Jerusalem be temporarily closed. At each gate a commander was appointed to control the movement of the Latins and to ensure that only those who had paid ransom could leave. Persons were employed inside the city to take a census. 'Imad al- Din says that Egyptian and Syrian officers were appointed to collect the payments and to give the departing Latins receipts that were to be submitted at the gate before leaving the city. Although this sounds like good administration, at the time the Latins were being counted and were making their departure, the city was in a state of chaos and there was much mismanagement of the ransom money collected. The grand masters of the Templars and Hospitallers were approached to donate money for the release of poor Latins, but when they resisted, a riot almost erupted and they were forced to contribute to the ransom.
There were examples of magnanimity on the part of the Muslim victors, however. The patriarch and Balian asked Salah al-Din to set some slaves free. Accordingly, he freed 700 slaves on behalf of the patriarch and 500 on behalf of Balian. Al-Malik al-'Adil, Salah al-Din's brother, asked him to release 1,000 slaves on his behalf and was granted his request. Furthermore, Salah al-Din sent his guard throughout the city to announce that all old people who could not pay would be allowed to leave the city: These came forth from the Postern of St. Lazar, and their departure lasted from the rising of the sun until night fell." Salah al-Din also allowed many noble women of Jerusalem to leave without ransom. Among them was Queen Sibyl, who left unhindered with all her entourage. Salah al-Din even granted her safe conduct to visit her captive husband in Nablus. The widow of Renaud of Chatillon was also released, as well as a Byzantine princess who had led a monastic life in Jerusalem and who was allowed to leave with all her entourage without paying a ransom. Some of Salah al-Din's commanders ransomed groups who they claimed belonged to their iqta' For example, the ruler of al-Bira asked for the release of 500 Armenians, and Muzaffar al-Din Ibn 'Ali Kuchuk asked for the release of 1,000, claiming that they had come from Edessa. Salah al-Din granted his request.
After the exodus of all those Latins who could leave, 15,000 individuals remained in the city. According to Imad al-Din, 7,000 of them were men and 8,000 were women and children. All were enslaved.
'Imad al-Din was amazed at the amount of treasure that had been carried away by the departing Latins. He reports having told Salah al-Din that these treasures could be valued at 200,000 dinars. He reminded him that his agreement with the Latins was for safe conduct (arnan) for themselves and their own property, but not for that of the churches, and he counselled that such treasures should not be left in Latin hands. But Salah al-Din rejected his proposal:
"If we interpret the treaty [now] against their interest, they will accuse us of treachery, although they are unaware of the real meaning of the treaty. Let us deal with them according to the wording of the treaty so they may not accuse the believers of breaking the covenant. Instead, they will talk of the favours that we have bestowed upon them."
Certainly Salah al-Din's magnanimity towards the Latins contrasts sharply with the attitude of the victorious Crusaders in 1099.
Emoul, by now a Latin refugee, indicated that the ransomed refugees were assembled in three groups. One was placed in the custody of the Templars and another in that of the Hospitallers, while Balian and Patriarch Heraclius took charge of the third. Salah al-Din assigned each group fifty of his officers to ensure their safe arrival in territories held by the Christians. One chronicler gives Salah al-Din's officers credit for their humane treatment of thc refugees, noting that these officers,
" who could not endure the suffenng of the refugees, ordered their squires to dismount and set aged Christans upon their steeds. Some of them even carried Chnstian children in their arms."
The refugees departed in three directions. One group went to Tyre, which was already overcrowded. Accordingly, the authorities there allowed only fighting men to enter the city.
The second group, accompanied by those turned away from Tyre, went to Tripoli, though not before they had suffered at the hands of other Latins. Near al-Batrun, a local baron known as Raymond of Niphin robbed them of many of their possessions. When they reached Tripoli, only the rich among them were allowed into the city. Ernoul states, in apparent shock, that Count Raymond of Tripoli sent his troops to rob the burghers of the possessions they had been allowed to take from Jerusalem. The remaining refugees continued their journey to Antioch, where some of them settled, while others went on to Armenia.
The third group headed for 'Asqalan and then to Alexandria. According to Emoul, they were treated hospitably in Egypt and remained in Alexandria until March 1188, when they were put on ships for Europe. The captains of Genoese, Pisan, and Venetian ships at first resisted boarding 1,000 poor refugees, but they were later obliged by Alexandrian officials to accept these destitutes in order to obtain sailing permits. Assurances were also secured of good treatment of the refugees on the part of the Italians by means of the threat that if they did not keep their promises, their fellow citizens would suffer in retaliation once they had arrived in Egypt. "Thus did the Saracens show mercy to the fallen city," says Lane-Pool. "One recalls the savage conquest by the first Crusaders in 1099, when Godfrey and Tancred rode through the streets choked with the dead and dying."
If the taking of Jerusalem were the only fact known about Salah al-Din, it would be sufficient to prove him the most chivalrous and great-hearted conqueror of his own, and perhaps of any, age.
The Fate of the Native Christians
'Imad al-Din notes that at first Salah al-Din ordered the closure of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Its future was discussed, and some even advised that it should be demolished in order to sever completely the attachment of the Christians to Jerusalem. However, a majority of the Muslims rejected the idea. They argued that demolishing the church would not help, for it would not prevent Christians from visiting it. According to 'Imad al-Din:
" Those who come to visit it come to worship at the location of the cross and the sepulchre rather than at the building itself. Christians will never stop making pilgrimages to this location, even if it has been totally uprooted."
Those who spoke in favour of preserving the Church of the Holy Sepulchre even suggested that when the Caliph 'Umar conquered Jerusalem, he confirmed the right of Christians to the church and gave no orders to demolish the building.
When the Byzantine emperor received the news of Salah al-Din's victory in Jerusalem, he asked him to restore the Church of the Holy Sepulchre to the Greek Orthodox Christians, a request that Salah al-Din granted. The Latins, however, were not allowed into Jerusalem for four years. In September 1192 the knights of the Third Crusade were allowed into the city as pilgrims to pray at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. When Hubert, Bishop of Salisbury, met with Salah al-Din, he was granted permission to have four Latin monks in the church.
The Muslim Response to the Liberation of Jerusalem
When the first Crusaders entered Syria in A.H. 49l/A.D. 1097, the first scholars to raise their voices in condemnation of the passiveness of the Muslim rulers, and to warn of the potentially disastrous consequences of the Crusade, were in Damascus. Among them was 'Ali Ibn Tahir al-Sulami (d. A.H. 5OIIAD 1106). Al-Sulami wrote one of the earliest treatises on the jihad in response to the Crusade.
Al-Sulami defined the Crusade as an invasion by Western nations, which started with the conquest of Sicily and parts of al-Andalus. These same nations, having encountered the weakness of the Muslims in the West and heard reports about their disunity in the East, marched against the East, while their ultimate goal was the conquest of Jerusalem. This definition of the Crusades by al-Sulami appears to have escaped many modern historians, who allege that the Muslims underestimated the nature and motives of the Crusade in the twelfth century.
Al-Sulami, who preached in Damascus until his death, interpreted the Crusade as a divine warning to test the willingness of the Muslims to refrain from committing acts that God forbade and to unde take the duty of jihad, which they had neglected. He warned his contemporaries that if they did not act immediately, while the enemy was still weak and far from his sources of supply, they would not be able to uproot him.
In his preaching al-Sulami provided his contemporaries with a new definition of jihad that, although derived to a great extent from the Islamic theory of war, was aimed at the confrontation with the Crusaders. According to him:
" The early jurists emphasized the offensive Jihad, or the Jihad against enemies in countries that are nearby or remote. However, if an enemy attacks the Muslims, as this enemy [the Crusaders] has done, then pursuing him in areas that he has conquered from us [an allusion to those parts of Syria and Palestine then held by the Crusaders] is a just war aimed at protecting lives, children, and families and at preserving those parts that are still under our control."
Al-Sulami, who established the theoretical foundations of the Countercrusade, did not live long enough to see the results of his teachings. However, he sowed the seeds of national and religious renaissance, which passed from one generation of scholars to another. These scholars, who included Syrian, Palestinian, Egyptian, Baghdadi, Andalusian, and even non-Arab Muslims - among whom the most outspoken was 'Imad al-Din al-lsfahani - passed the torch of the liberation of Jerusalem and other occupied terrltories in Syria and Palestine to Salah al-Din, who grew up and flourished in the same environment. The result of the long ideological campaign was manifested in the popular response to Salah al-Din's successes in Palestine, especially after the battle of Hittin. According to Ibn Shaddad, "Knowing that Salah al-Din was marching on Jerusalem, people had flocked from Syria and Egypt to join him in his battle,'' hoping thereby to earn a spiritual reward. Every famous person from Egypt and Syria witnessed the liberation, so that when Salah al-Din entered the city he was surrounded by scholars, jurists, sufis, and poets as well as by crowds of civilians and members of the military.
The initial response to the recovery was euphoric: "People raised their voices in praise of God, expressing their gratitude and devotion to Him for having granted them the long-awaited victory.''
Salah al-Din celebrated this great historical moment by receiving the crowds who had gone to congratulate him. He sat most humbly and graciously amongst the men of religion and scholars.
'Imad al-Din, who witnessed this gathering, described it as follows:
"The sultan sat with his face gleaming with happiness. His seat looked as if it were surrounded by the halo of the moon. Around him readers of the Qur'an were reading the words of guidance and commenting the poets were standing, reciting and seeking favours while the flags were being unfolded in order to be raised and the pens were being sharpened in order to convey the good tidings. Eyes were filled with tears of joy while hearts were humbled in devotion to God and in joy for the victory."
The initial euphoria of the victory was followed by a busy week during which Salah al-Din, his relatives, and his entourage worked earnestly to restore al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock to their original Islamic character in preparation for the following Friday congregation (4 Sha'ban, A.H. 583/9 October, A.D. 1187). This task was rather difficult because they had to demolish many structures that the Latins had introduced into both buildings as well as in the area between them, al-Haram al-Sharif. Ibn al-Athir and 'Imad al-Din state that the Templars had built some residences to the west of al-Aqsa mosque, which they had equipped with grain storage and latrines, and they had included a part of al-Aqsa in their buildings. Salah al-Din had these structures cleared away and ordered the niche (mihrab) of al-Aqsa purified.
In fact, it seems that the Latins had made more changes in this area of Jerusalem than Ibn al-Athir and 'Imad al-Din indicate. One Latin pilgrim, Theoderich, who visited the Holy Land around A.D. 1172, refers to al-Aqsa mosque as the Palace of Solomon (others refer to it as the Temple of Solomon), as it was known to the Latins and to Europeans in general. He says it was in the hands of the Templars,
" who dwell in it and in the other buildings connected with it, havng many magazines of arms, clothing, and food in it. They have below them stables for horses built by King Solomon himself in the days of old adjoining the palace a wondrous and intricate building resting on piers and containing an endless complication of arches and vaults, which stables, we declare, according to our reckoning, could take in 10,000 horses with their grooms."
Another pilgrim, John of Wurzburg, who visited the Holy Land some time between A.D. 1160 and A.D. 1170, confirms Theoderich's account. However, he refers to the stables as having the capacity to hold 2,000 horses or 1,500 camels. These stables were at the southeast corner of the Haram area. John of Wurzburg also refers to the foundations of a large new church, which was not yet finished.
All the columns that had been installed by the Latins were removed, according to 'Imad al-Din, and the floors were carpeted with precious carpets instead of woven and straw mats. A pulpit that had been prepared by Nur al-Din for the occasion was installed. Ibn al-Athir described it as a unique piece of art that was made over a period of several years by specialists in woodcraft in Aleppo. This pulpit was unfortunately burned soon after the Israeli occupation of the city.
The Dome of the Rock also suffered from desecration by the Crusaders, who, according to 'Imad al-Din, had built a church and an altar on top of the Rock and decorated both with images and statues. They had also built residences there and erected a small dome on the "footprint," which they ornamented with gold and marble.
'Imad al-Din and others do not give us a very clear picture of the changes that the Crusaders had made in the Dome of the Rock. To get a clearer picture of the Dome at the time of the Crusaders, and to see what changes Salah al-Din introduced, we have to look again at the detailed account of the Latin pilgrim Theoderich, referred to earlier. The Dome of the Rock was known to the Latins as the Temple of the Lord. All the Latins' additions were removed and arrangements were made to replace some missing pieces from the Dome of the Rock that had been taken by the early Crusaders and sold as relics in European markets for very high prices.
The Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa mosque were purified with large quantities of water and rose water and perfumed with incense. Even Taqi al-Din 'Umar and other relatives of Salah al-Din participated in the purification in the hope of gaining spiritual reward, according to 'Imad al-Din.
When this was done, the first Friday prayer took place in al-Aqsa mosque on 4 Sha'ban, A.H. 583/9 October, A.D. 1187. Muhyi al-Din Ibn al-Zaki addressed the first audience in al-Aqsa eloquently, explaining the place of Jerusalem in Muslim history and piety. In so doing, he echoed many of the ideas that had been preached throughout the twelfth century by the scholars and jurists during the period of the city's loss to the Crusaders:
" Jerusalem is the residence of your father Abraham, the place of ascension of your prophet, the burial ground of the messengers, and the place of the descent of revelations. It is in the land where men will be resurrected and it is in the Holy Land, to which God has referred in His clear book [the Qur'an] . It is the farthest place of worship, where the prophet prayed, and the place to which God sent His servant and messenger and the word which He caused to descend upon Mary and His spirit Jesus, whom He honoured with that mission and ennobled with the gift of prophecy without removing him from the rank he held as one of His creatures.
In his sermon he portrayed the victory of Salah al-Din in Jerusalem as a rejuvenation of Muslim power. He compared Salah al-Din's forces to those that had fought the battles of Badr, the wars of al- Ridda, the battles of al-Qadisiyya and al-Yarmuk, and the battle of Khaybar, which entailed the expulsion of the Jews from the Arabian Peninsula. He compared Salah al-Din's recovery of Jerusalem to 'Umar's conquest of the city. Thus, Ibn al-Zaki and other contemporaries of Salah al-Din accorded him a place in Islamic history similar to that of the greatest heroes who had shaped the history of Islam after the Prophet Muhammad.
Salah al-Din also introduced some structural changes in the city of Jerusalem. He transformed the Oratory of David in David's Tower into a religious building and installed in it an imam and a mu'addhin as well as caretakers. He also ordered the transformation of the Church of St. Anne into a Shafi'ite school and a ribat for the sufis, and he transformed the residence of the patriarch of Jerusalem, in the vicinity of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, into a ribat.
In A.H. 587/A.D. 1191 Salah al-Din planned to fortify Jerusalem. Thus, according to 'Imad al-Din, he decided to dig a new and deeper moat and to build a new wall, for which task he brought approximately 2,000 Latin captives. He also restored the towers between St. Stephen's Gate (Bab al-'Amud) and David's Tower (al-Qal'a). Salah al-Din personally supervised, and sometimes participated in, the fortification of the city.
Salah al-Din's liberation of Jerusalem was hailed in all parts of the Arab and Muslim world, except at the court of the Caliph al-Nasir li-Din Allah, who unfortunately overlooked the magnitude of the victory and, instead, criticized some insignificant points. Thus, instead of congratulating Salah al-Din for an achievement that he permanently bore in his name (Al-Nasir), the caliph wrote rebuking him for the use of the title al-Malik al-Nasir, which was that of the Caliph himself. Naturally, Salah al-Din refused to abandon a title that he had earned in A.H. 567/A.D. 1172, long before the Caliph al-Nasir had come to power.
'Imad al-Din, reporting a dialogue he had had with Salah al-Din on this question, quotes him as having said, with some bitterness:
"Did I not recover al-Bayt al-Muqaddas [Jerusalem] and unite it with al-Bayt al-Haram [al-Ka'ba, a reference to Mecca in general] ? Indeed, I have returned to the native land a part that had been missing from it."
Salah al-Din's liberation of Jerusalem was portrayed by his contemporaries as a miracle. It was likened to lightning (barq) in its swiftness, and hence it earned the title Al-Barq al-Shami in 'Imad al- Din's biography of Salah al-Din. Even the pro-Zangid historian Ibn al-Athir could not but credit Salah al-Din with this great achievement: "This noble deed of liberating Jerusalem was achieved by none after 'Umar Ibn al-Khattab except for Salah al-Din, and this deed suffices for his glory and honour.''
Appendix 1 Theoderich's Description of the Holy Places (A.D . 1 172) "The Palace of Solomon" [Al-Aqsa mosque
" Next comes, on the south, the palace of Solomon, which is oblong, and supported by columns within like a church, and at the end is round like a sanctuary and covered by a great round dome, so that, as I have said, it resembles a church. This building, with all its appurtenances, has passed into the hands of the Knights Templars, who dwell in it and in the other buildings connected with it, having many magazines of arms, clothing, and food in it, and are ever on the watch to guard and protect the country. They have below them stables for horses built by King Solomon himself in the days of old, adjoining the palace, a wondrous and intricate building resting on piers and containing an endless complication of arches and vaults, which stable, we declare, according to our reckoning, could take in ten thousand horses with their grooms. No man could send an arrow from one end of their building to the other, either lengthways or crossways, at one shot with a Balearic bow. Above it abounds with rooms, solar chambers, and buildings suitable for all manner of uses. Those who walk upon the roof of it find an abundance of gardens, courtyards, ante-chambers, vestibules, and rain-water cisterns while down below it contains a wonderful number of baths, storehouses, granaries, and magazines for the storage of wood and other needful provisions. On another side of the palace, that is to say, on the western side, the Templars have erected a new building. I could give the measurements of its height, length, and breadth of its cellars, refectories, staircases, and roof, rising with a high pitch, unlike the flat roofs of that country but even if I did so, my hearers would hardly be able to believe me. They have built a new cloister there in addition to the old one which they had in another part of the building. Moreover, they are laying the foundations of a new church of wonderful size and workmanship in this place, by the side of the great court. Theoderich's Description ol the Holy Places, trans. Aubrey Stewart (London: Palcstine Pilgrims' Text Society, 1896): 30-32.
Appendix 2 Theoderich's Description of the Holy Places (A.D. I 172) "The Temple of Ihe Lord": "Dome of the Rock"
The Temple itself is evidently of an octagonal shape in its lower part. Its lower part is ornamented as far as the middle with most glorious marbles, and from the middle up to the topmost border, on which the roof rests, is most beauteously adorned with mosaic work. Now, this border, which reaches round the entire circuit of the Temple, contains the following inscription, which, starting from the front, or west door, must be read according to the way of the sun as follows: On the front, "Peace be unto this house for ever, from the Father Eternal." On the second side, "The Temple of the Lord is holy God careth for it God halloweth it." On the third side, "This is the house of the Lord, firmly built." On the fourth side, "In the house of the Lord all men shall tell of His glory." On the fifth, "Blessed be the glory of the Lord out of His holy place." On the sixth, "Blessed are they which dwell in Thy house, O Lord." On the seventh, "Of a truth the Lord is in His holy place, and I knew it not." On the eighth, "The house of the Lord is well built upon a firm rock." Besides this, on the eastern side over against the Church of St. James (now called Qubbat al-Silsilah) there is a column represented in the wall in mosaic work, above which is the inscription, "The Roman Column." The upper wall forms a narrower circle, resting on arches within the building, and supports a leaden roof, which has on its summit a great ball with a gilded cross above it. Four doors lead into and out of the building, each door looking to one of the four quarters of the world. The church rests upon eight square piers and sixteen columns, and its walls and ceilings are magnificently adorned with mosaics. The circuit of the choir contains four main pillars, or piers, and eight columns, which support the inner wall, with its own lofty vaulted roof. Above the arches of the choir a scroll extends all round the building, bearing this text: "'My house shall be called the house of prayer,' saith the Lord. In it whosoever asks, receives. and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks shall be opened. Ask, and ye shall receive seek, and ye shall find." In an upper circular scroll similarly placed round the building is the text: "Have Thou respect unto the prayer of Thy servant, and to his supplication, O Lord my God, that Thine eyes may be open and Thine ears turned towards this house night and day. Look down, O Lord, from Thy sanctuary and from the highest heaven, Thy dwelling-place."
At the entrance to the choir there is an altar dedicated to St. Nicholas, enclosed in an iron enclosure, which has on its upper part a border containing this inscription: in front, "In the year 1101, in the fourth indiction, Epact 11," and on the left side, "From the taking of Antioch 63 years, from the taking of Jerusalem 53." On the right side, "From the taking of Tripoli 52 years, from the taking of Berytus 51 years, from the taking of Ascalon 11 years."
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