Are The Ka'ba and The Temple Mount Humanity’s Two Oldest Sacred Sites?

Although politicalized religious leaders on both sides have turned sacred sites in both India and Israel into battlegrounds for their brand of religious exclusivity, an ancient Jewish legend predicts that when the Messiah comes and resurrection day occurs; the Ka'ba in holy Mecca, will go to join the Temple Mount’s Foundation Stone in holy Jerusalem, bringing with it the inhabitants of Mecca, and they shall be joined together.

When the Foundation Stone sees the Ka'ba approaching, it shall cry out, "Peace be to the great guest”. ( Zev Vilnay, Legends of Jerusalem)

Both the Ka'ba and the Temple were built in historic times on sites that according to Islamic and Jewish tradition had been holy for millennia prior to the beginning of recorded history.

According to archeologists and paleo anthropologists when human beings left the garden of Eden (located somewhere in east Africa) they traveled out of Africa along two gate ways.

One gateway for modern Homo Sapiens out of Africa was Egypt, a new genetic analysis suggests. Modern Homo Sapiens first arose almost 200,000 years ago in Africa south of the Sahara. When and how the modern human lineage crossed the Sahara and dispersed from Africa has long been controversial.

Previous research suggested the exodus from Africa started between 80,000 and 50,000 years ago. However, recent studies indicate that modern humans might have begun their march out of Africa and across the globe as early as 120,000 years ago, and expanded out of Africa in multiple waves. In addition to a northern route, through Egypt and Sinai, a southern route, could have brought humans through Ethiopia into Arabia.
Some scientists recently reported genetic findings online (May 28, 2015) in the American Journal of Human Genetics, that DNA from Ethiopians and Egyptians suggests modern humans exited Africa through Egypt.

Researchers sequenced the genomes of 100 Egyptians and 125 Ethiopians and compared this data with DNA from Han Chinese, Gujarati Indians and Tuscan Italians, respectively.

If the southern route was the main path out of Africa, Ethiopians should be more genetically similar to Eurasians. But the researchers found that Egyptians were more genetically similar to Eurasians, suggesting the northern route was the predominant way out of Africa.

The researchers estimated that Eurasians genetically diverged from Egyptians 55,000 years ago, Ethiopians 65,000 years ago and West Africans 75,000 years ago.

The northern route as the preferred way from Africa is supported by the fact that all non-Africans possess DNA from Neanderthals, who were present along the northern route in the eastern Mediterranean at the time. This new finding is also in agreement with the recent discovery of modern human fossils in Israel close to the northern route that date to about 55,000 years ago.

But there is also genetic and archaeological evidence that some Homo sapiens did take a southern route out of Africa perhaps 20-30,000 years earlier than a northern route. These people may have traveled no farther than Arabia and the gulf coast and so left no genetic trace in modern Eurasians.

After crossing from the Horn of Africa to Arabia, some of these early migrants slowly went north along the Red Sea coast, passing where Jeddah is now, across the Sinai, and then up along the Mediterranean coast, passing where Tel Aviv is now. Mecca is about 50 miles from the coastal city of Jeddah. Jerusalem is about 43 miles from the coastal city of Tel Aviv.

The Muslim Ka'ba in Mecca was a very ancient ruined holy site that was rebuilt under God’s direction by Abraham and his oldest son Ishmael.

The Jewish Temple in Jerusalem was built on a natural site God chose, by Solomon the son of King David, more than four centuries after Abraham.

There is a wonderful legend that explains what made these two sacred sites holy to the descendants of the two sons of Abraham.

Two brothers who inherited a valley to hilltop farm from their father, divided the land in half so each one could farm his own section. Over time, the older brother married and had four children, while the younger brother was still not married.

One year there was very little rain, and the crop was very meager. The younger brother lay awake one  night praying and thought. "My brother has a wife and four children to feed and I have no children. He needs more grain than I do; especially now when grain is scarce."

So that night the younger brother went to his barn, gathered a large sack of wheat, and left his wheat in his brother's barn. Then he returned home, feeling pleased with himself.

Earlier that very same night, the older brother was also lying awake praying for rain when he thought: "In my old age my wife and I will have our grown children to take care of us, as well as grand children  to enjoy, while my brother may have no children. He should at least sell more grain from his fields now, so he can provide for himself in his old age."

So that night, the older brother also gathered a large sack of wheat, and left it in his brother's barn, and returned home, feeling pleased with himself.

The next morning, the younger brother, surprised to see the amount of grain in his barn seemed unchanged said "I did not take as much wheat as I thought. Tonight I'll take more." That same morning, the older brother standing in his barn, was thinking the same thoughts.

After night fell, each brother gathered a greater amount of wheat from his barn and in the dark, secretly delivered it to his brother's barn. The next morning, the brothers were again puzzled and perplexed. "How can I be mistaken?" each one thought. "There's the same amount of grain here as there was before. This is impossible! Tonight I'll make no mistake - I'll take two large sacks.”

The third night, more determined than ever, each brother gathered two large sacks of wheat from his barn, loaded them onto a cart, and slowly pulled his cart toward his brother's barn. In the moonlight, each brother noticed a figure in the distance. When the two brothers got closer, each recognized the form of the other and the load he was pulling, and they both realized what had happened.

Without a word, they dropped the ropes of their carts, ran to each other and embraced.

God looked down at the two brothers and smiled thinking “Their love and concern for each other has made this place into a holy sanctuary. Someday their descendants will each build and rebuild a holy House in this valley and on this hill.

When all those, both near and far, who revere this place as a standard, share it in love with everyone else who reveres it, then I will do as Abraham requested, and “Make this a land of Peace, and provide its people with the produce of the land”. (Qur'an 2:126). Then will all the children of Adam and Abraham live in Holiness, Peace and Prosperity.

This narration, transmitted orally in both Arabic and Hebrew for many centuries, was finally written down in several versions in the 19th century. Jews believe the hill is Jerusalem. Muslims believe the valley is Mecca.  I believe, God willing, someday we all will see both beliefs as correct.

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