“In that day I will all but annihilate all the nations that came up against Yerushalayim.” Zechariah 12:9 (The Israel Bible™)
A menorah replica overlooks the eastern wall surrounding the Temple Mount from the Mount of Olives. (Photo: Joshua Wander)
Israeli archaeologists announced to the press a discovery of 1,300-year-old coins from the Islamic Umayyad Dynasty imprinted with an image of the menorah from the Jewish Temple. This new discovery joins a trove of artifacts that show Muslim acknowledgment of Jerusalem’s Jewish identity.
Assaf Avraham of Bar-Ilan University, and Peretz Reuven of the Hebrew University made their announcement on Wednesday.
“The Jewish symbol which the Muslims were using was the menorah [the gold seven-branch candelabra from the Temple], which appeared on several coins and other early Islamic artifacts,” said Avraham to the Jerusalem Post.
“The menorah coins bear the Shahada Arabic inscription on one side: ‘There is no god but Allah,’ while the menorah appears in the center of the coin. The other side bears the inscription: ‘Muhammad [is the] messenger of God.’”
This is consistent with a find the two archaeologists made last year of pottery shards bearing the inscription the labeled the Nuba Inscription. The inscription found in a mosque near Hebron is believed to have been made in the tenth century and refers to the Dome of the Rock, a Muslim structure built on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, as “Bayt al-Maqdis”, literally, “The Holy Temple”. The rest of the inscription implies that the Muslim perceived the structure to be an Islamic version of the Jewish Temple.
The university is creating a display of these artifacts and many more that show the Jewish influence on early Islam.
“They are dated to the early days of the Islamic caliphate, and were in use by Muslims,” said Avraham, noting that the finds are of great importance for understanding the history of Islam.
“We wish that many Muslims will be exposed to this knowledge, which is part of their own religious and cultural heritage,” he continued.
“At the beginning of the Muslim rule, not only didn’t they object to the Jews, but they saw themselves as the continuation of the Jewish people.” They adopted the Jewish narrative and symbols for their own, Avraham said in an interview with Times of Israel. The menorah was a Jewish symbol; its use is testimony that Muslims didn’t have a problem with the Jews, he said