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Written by Victoria Radin   

Jerusalem, the Threshing Floor of G-d

“Jerusalem has known the hosts of thirty-six wars. She has been reduced to ashes seventeen times. She has risen eighteen. She has been sanctified by blood and martyrdom. She knew the hoofbeat of Assyrian war chariot, chilled to the besieging battering machines of Rome, heard the hissing arcs of Saladin’s sabers and the rattle of crusader mail…and the tattoo of Israeli paratroop gunfire. She has seen more passion and love and more human savagery than any other place in the world.”––Leon Uris

Is the threshing floor a place of passion and love as well as savagery? Prior to its existence as the capital of Israel, Jerusalem was the threshing floor of Arunah (2 Sam. 24:18-23). David’s sin brought a plague from G-d on the people. When David confessed his sin and pleaded for the lives of the Israelites, the L-rd stopped the plague quite pointedly at the threshing floor of Araunah and said to David, “Go up, erect an altar to the L-rd on the threshing floor of Araunah, the Jebusite” (2 Sam. 24:18). So David quickly complied by purchasing the land and offering burnt offerings and peace offerings there. It is the same place where Abraham offered up Isaac and where Solomon eventually built the Temple of G-d.

The altar was a place of sacrifice and worship. The threshing floor, on the other hand, was the place where the harvest was prepared for usefulness, the place where the harvested grain, corn, and spices were subjected to the violence of the sledge, the grinding wheel, or vigorous shaking. It was usually built on heights or in open fields to insure the help of the wind in the winnowing process. As the place of separating the good from the bad, the threshing floor and its threshing and winnowing process became a metaphor for judgment (e.g. Isaiah 21:10, Jeremiah 15:7, 51:33, Daniel 2:35, Matt. 3:12). So how do we reconcile the idea that the threshing floor is also a place of worship and in one case, even a place of mourning before G-d (Genesis 50:10-11)?

The unmistakable message of the 2 Samuel 24 story is that worshiping G-d not only involves love and passion, but also sacrifice and judgment in its violence against sin. In other words, in worship we are stepping onto “the threshing floor” where our “wheat and chaff” are threshed by the L-rd while a holy wind (the Holy Spirit) does the winnowing by blowing away the chaff from our lives. In the midst of our worship, we mourn before the L-rd for having held onto any worldly ways and we praise the L-rd for removing the things that impede our spiritual relationship with Him.

This daily process makes us more useful to G-d and prepares us to be the L-rd’s Bride; it is there that we grow in intimacy, love and passion towards our Bridegroom. It is not insignificant that Ruth, a type of the Church, came together with Boaz (a type of the L-rd our Redeemer) on the threshing floor. This place, where the wheat is beaten and the corn husks crushed by the grinding wheel, became the place of passion and love in the story of Ruth.

While the threshing floor is a metaphor of our ongoing sanctification process, the threshing floor in which G-d’s greatest interest lies is Jerusalem, the most contested threshing floor in the world. G-d informs us that one day (when the threshing process is complete), Jerusalem will again be holy.

“Awake, awake! Put on your strength, O Zion; Put on your beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city! For the uncircumcised and the unclean shall no longer come to you.” (Isaiah 52:1)

Jerusalem is without natural wealth or beauty; yet, her greatness lies in the fact that Jerusalem has achieved the status of immortality (Jeremiah 17:25). Her immortality is not only in the reality of her existence, but also in the history and culture of all three monotheistic religions––Judaism, Christianity, and more recently Islam––Judaism and Christianity vying for Jerusalem’s greatness as the place of the Messiah’s coming and return, and Islam vying for its complete takeover or destruction. As such, Jerusalem holds a significance that cannot be compared to any other place on earth, especially for the G-d-appointed guardians of that city, the Jews.

The reason for this great love and devotion on the part of the Jewish people is that Jerusalem is believed to be the place through which the lifeblood and nourishment of G-d flows from heaven to the world. It is the navel of the earth, so to speak. In reciting the history of the city of Jerusalem, Leon Uris in his book Jerusalem, says:
"Of all the cities founded by the ancients, Jerusalem alone retains her ancient glory and her special relationship to G-d (p.14)...[David] envisioned it as the center of the earth, a unique and sacred place...the link between man and G-d." (p. 56)

As part of the sanctification process, the L-rd is currently constraining Satan to be the tools of the threshing floor of Jerusalem ––His grinding wheel, His sledging tool and His winnowing fork. He is allowing this threshing only to the point of necessity in the preparation of Jerusalem for His return.

“Behold, I have created the blacksmith who blows the coals in the fire, who brings forth an instrument for his work; and I have created the spoiler to destroy.” (Isaiah 54:16)

The L-rd calls Jerusalem “Ariel” (lion of G-d) in a play on words since “ariel” (pronounced almost the same) means “an altar hearth” (Isaiah 29:1, 2) because G-d intends to purify her by fire as on an altar. Jerusalem must be cleansed of every abomination; every idol must be removed. The Temple Mount, the threshing floor of G-d, is the site of the former Temple and will be the site of the third Temple. This being so, it has to be wiped clean of every pagan edifice.

The Temple Mount, which embodies the struggle between Isaac and Ishmael, Jacob and Esau, Israel and the Palestinians, is the struggle between those that worship Yahweh versus those who worship Allah. Both groups contend for that small piece of real estate since the L-rd said it was the place from which He would rule and reign on the earth. The scriptures record that this ancient contention over Jerusalem will one day erupt into an earthly war.

"Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of drunkenness to all the surrounding peoples, when they lay siege against Judah and Jerusalem.” (Zech. 12:2)…“But they do not know the thoughts of the L-rd; they do not understand His plan, He who gathers them like sheaves to the threshing floor.” (Micah 4:12)

But, there will be an end to the threshing! The result will be a sanctified Jerusalem, prepared to be the throne of the L-rd. “At that time Jerusalem shall be called The Throne of the L-rd, and all the nations shall be gathered to it, to the name of the L-rd, to Jerusalem…” (Jeremiah 3:17).

Yes, the threshing floor is a place of great passion and love such as the Jewish people (and G-d) have for Jerusalem. At the same time, it is a place of violence and judgment against all sin at the altar of G-d.

“For Zion’s sake I will not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until her righteousness goes forth as brightness, and her salvation as a lamp that burns.” (Isaiah 62:1)

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