The Foundation Stone is the name of the rock at the heart of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem. It is also known as the Pierced Stone because it has a small hole on the southeastern corner that enters a cavern beneath the rock, known as the Well of Souls.
This article is part of the History and Culture Tours from Shalom Israel.
According the Talmud, this rock was used to create the world, it’s the first part of the Earth to come into existence. “The world was not created until God took a stone called Even haShetiya and threw it into the depths where it was fixed from above till below, and from it the world expanded. It is the center point of the world and on this spot stood the Holy of Holies”.
It was on this rock that Adam, Cain, Abel and Noah, offered sacrifices to God. According to Jewish sources, this rock is the place mentioned in the Bible where Abraham fulfilled God’s test to see if he would be willing to sacrifice his son Isaac.
Judaism indicates that the Stone marks the center of the world and serves as a cover for the Abyss (Abzu) containing the raging waters of the Flood.
The Well of Souls, beneath the rock, has been applied more narrowly to a depression in the floor of this cave and to a hypothetical chamber that may exist beneath the floor. The site has never been subject to an archaeological investigation and political and diplomatic sensitivities preclude this for the foreseeable future.
The name derives from a medieval Islamic legend that at this place the spirits of the dead can be heard awaiting Judgment Day. The Stone tried to follow Muhammad as he ascended, leaving his footprint here while pulling up and hollowing out the cave below. The impression of the hand of the Archangel Gabriel, made as he restrained the Stone from rising, is nearby.
The cave was worshiped as early as 902 according to Ibn al-Faqih. Muslim tradition likewise places it at the center of the world and over a bottomless pit with the flowing waters of Paradise underneath. A palm tree is said to grow out of the River of Paradise here to support the Stone. Noah is said to have landed here after the Flood. The souls of the dead are said to be audible here as they await the Last Judgment.
Christian tradition included the site after the Crusaders recaptured Jerusalem in 1099. The Crusaders converted the Dome of the Rock into a church, calling it the Templum Domini, meaning the Temple of the Lord. They cut away much of the rock to make staircases and paving the Stone over with marble slabs. They enlarged the main entrance of the cave and probably are responsible for creating the shaft ascending from the center of the chamber.