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Sometimes you just discover:
The gates of the temple mount in Jerusalem

A Short Story by Yuval Chaikin

I am not very good at inventing. I am much better at discovering. I remember moments of being extremely excited after discovering a new and simpler explanation to some physical phenomenon or a new biological technique. Most of my discoveries are in the field of Natural science, but my most exciting discovery has to do with History and ancient legends. I am not sure whether I can pass on the feeling of intensity to my audience since the mentioned history and legends, and the total atmosphere, might be very far away from those here and now. So, in order to make things better understood, I found it necessary to give a small introduction.

In the Hebrew Bible we are told that some two thousand and seven hundred years ago there occurred a holocaust in the Middle East. The Assyrian army conquered and destroyed the northern Hebrew kingdom of Israel, exiling its entire population. The southern Hebrew kingdom, Judea, survived, and its residents, who were named after their kingdom, The Jewish People, have expressed their sorrow and yearning for their lost brothers ever since. Many a legend is told among the Jews about the lost ten tribes of Israel.

My most exciting discovery happened at one of the gates of the temple mount in Jerusalem. It was in the end of July 1986. I had some business with a Jewish settler in the Moslem quarter of the old city of Jerusalem. I arrived a bit early and he was not at home yet, so I went for a little walk and found myself in front of the temple mount gate. For some reason I kept thinking during that morning of the prophet Jeremiah. Two People stood at the gate. On my right hand side stood a guide and on my left stood a policeman. They were both Arabs, but they spoke perfect Hebrew. The guide offered me a tour of the mosques of the temple mount for something like five pounds, but I did not have time. Instead, since I did not think of anything clever to say, I asked him what the Koran (the sacred book of the Moslems) says about the prophet Jeremiah. His answer to me was that Prophet Jeremiah never existed. This stirred me up, so I kept asking him about Isaiah and Ezekiel, and his answer was that only what Mohammed - the last prophet and the greatest of them all - said, is correct, and since those I spoke about are not mentioned in the Koran, they never existed. This seemed to me absolutely baseless, and I asked him how it was possible that the Hebrew Bible - where those people are mentioned – which was written before the Koran should not be considered stronger evidence. But then the policeman intervened and demanded to see my identity card (according to the Israeli law everyone should carry one). He looked at the old and worn out document I handed to him and warned me that he could arrest me on the spot and advised me to leave immediately. I turned to the guide, but he wasn't there any more. I turned back to the policeman, but he had disappeared too. Within a few minutes I met the man whom I was supposed to meet, and told him that in my opinion the ancient Moslems are descendants of the lost ten tribes. He looked at me as if I was mad. At the first opportunity I went to the university library and found that there is indeed a sharp and clear dichotomy: all the people and events that passed from the Hebrew Bible to the Koran were with no exception at the time that preceded the Assyrian exile.

I shared my discovery with many scholars in Israel, but none of them showed deep interest, if any. I asked Koran experts about this dichotomy, but it never occurred to them. I was not academically cautious at first, hastily jumping to the conclusion that the ancient Arabs descended from the lost ten tribes, but, nevertheless, my discovery has a very strong significance. It means that the Moslems received their tradition and religion from the Hebrews, but not from the Jews, and it actually strengthens the reality behind the legend of the lost ten tribes.

I am not religious and I never felt the need to believe in a supreme being, but in order to describe what I felt I would say that I saw myself as a prophet, and those two men in the gate of the temple mount were angels sent to me from God.

Yuval Chaikin, October 2003

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