THE STONES CRY OUT
From the book by the same name
Political Propaganda or Proven Place?
When one considers what Jerusalem, the spiritual center of the monotheistic religions, has represented to countless millions of people, and then tries to assess whether these people had, or even nowadays have, any idea of what the city was like originally, it is clear that there is a major gap between imagination and reality.... Although many scholars have in the past attempted to reconstruct the different phases of the Temple Mount... except for tantalizing clues in the ancient texts, they had mainly contradictory religious traditions, legends, and folk stories to guide them, and their reconstructions were distorted accordingly.... [But now our] excavations... centered around the ancient Temple Mount [have enabled us] to depict Jerusalem as it emerges anew from the insights we have gained.1
The greatest architectural accomplishment in ancient Israel was its magnificent Temple in Jerusalem. Placed politically at the center of the country, it was also the religious focus of the nation, where God's glory was resident among His people. Consequently, it was destined to be at the center of religious and political conflicts. The Temple became the object of internal religious conflicts, with idolaters and reformers alternately desecrating or rededicating its holy places. External political conflicts brought Israel's enemies to repeatedly plunder its treasures and force the Judean kings to diminish and deface its structures in order to pay tribute. And twice, foreign powers destroyed the Temple completely.
Still at the Center of Conflict
Today, Jerusalem and its Temple Mount are again at the center of conflict, and Israel's new enemies have sought to wage a war on history by denying that the Temple ever existed. While archaeology is apolitical—as are most archaeologists in their archaeological aims—the archaeology of Jerusalem, especially near the ancient Temple Mount, has been continually attacked by Israel's modern enemies as Zionist political propaganda. And, as in the past, internal religious disputes continue to disturb the sacred site. In fact, archaeological excavations throughout Israel are regularly threatened by religious Jews who demand their closure, contending that these digs may be desecrating old Jewish cemeteries or contain ancient Jewish remains. Furthermore, any type of excavation on the Temple Mount itself is expressly forbidden both by Muslims and religious Jews. Islamic law allows only Muslims to worship on the Mount, and considers any penetration of the site for whatever archaeological purpose a veiled attempt by the Israeli government to remove an Islamic presence and rebuild the Jewish Temple. There have recently been Arab riots because of excavations that revealed a portion of the Herodian street along the southern end of the Western Wall 2 as well as the opening of an exit to the Has-monean Tunnel that connects an archaeological excavation of an underground portion of the Western Wall and one of its gates.3 By contrast, most religious Jews, who expect one day to rebuild their Temple, (THE ORTHODOX JEWS SAY ONLY THE MESSIAH CAN RE-BUILD THE TEMPLE - Keith Hunt) claim that only properly purified Jewish priests are permitted to enter the site, and say that the discovery of things pertaining to the Temple are the sole provenance of the coming Messiah.
As a result, most of the archaeological information available to us about the Temple Mount comes from explorations and excavations of the previous century. At that time, the area was under Turkish rule, and archaeologists were sometimes able to get permission to explore. But a small amount of new information has been gained in recent years from excavations that have taken place in the shadow of the ancient Temple. These new discoveries have enabled us to make significant new archaeological deductions concerning age-old questions about the Temple itself.
Counting the Temples Correctly
In our study of the Jerusalem Temple it's important to remember that in historical succession there were actually three Temples that stood on the Temple Mount between 960 B.C. and A.D. 70. The First Temple was begun in 967 B.C. and completed in 960 B.C. It was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 B.C. (For information about the archaeological evidence of this destruction, see chapter 12.) The Temple was rebuilt under the leadership of a governor named Zerubbabel, with the foundations laid in 538 B.C. and the structure dedicated in 515 B.C. This Second Temple remained in its modest form of reconstruction for almost 500 years until the Roman period. Then the Roman-appointed Judean king, Herod the Great, completely restored it, beginning his work in 19 B.C. and dedicating it ten years later. This thorough restoration was from the ground up; Herod enlarged and refurbished the Temple and increased its platform to twice its former size.4 Although historically and architecturally this was a third building, religiously it was still considered the Second Temple because the offering of sacrifices was not interrupted during the transition between structures. It was in this newly restored Second Temple that Jesus was dedicated as an infant (about 6 B.C.).(ACTUALLY 5 B.C. - Keith Hunt). Though Herod had already dedicated the Temple, work on it continued for another 46 years (John 2:20). Then the Roman army destroyed the edifice in A.D. 70. 5 New evidence of this army's presence has been recently located outside Jerusalem in the excavation of a camp of the Tenth Legion (which destroyed the city and Temple). In addition, the Vespasian-Titus Inscription discovered in 1970 on a stone column near the Temple Mount commemorates the father emperor and son general of the Tenth Legion, as well as Silva, the Roman commander of the Tenth Legion. In A.D. 73, Silva attacked the Jews who had fled to Masada.6
Constructing the First Temple
The First Temple was built by King David's son Solomon according to God's plan (1 Chronicles 28:6). David provided for the Temple's construction during his last years through the royal treasury and a collection taken from the people of Israel (1 Chronicles 29:1-9). Following David's death, Solomon completed the Temple primarily through forced labor from the native Israelite population (1 Kings 5:13-16; 2 Chronicles 2:2). According to the Bible, the architectural pattern for the First Temple, like the Tabernacle before it, was divinely revealed (Exodus 25:9,40; 1 Chronicles 28:11-19). The construction itself took place on a high hill in the Moriah mountain range north of the City of David and the Ophel Ridge (the area where the city had been confined up to that point). Following the biblical trail of texts pointing toward the Temple from Genesis (22:2) and Exodus (15:17) through Samuel (2 Samuel 7:10), we believe that it occupied the highest point on this hill at the same place where Abraham had been stopped from slaying a son (Genesis 22:12-14) and the angel of the Lord from slaying a city (2 Samuel 24:16-25). Archaeological consensus locates this place today as the raised platform in East Jerusalem's Old City, known to Jews and Christians as the Temple Mount.
However, even though we have some details of its construction in the Bible, no one can be entirely certain what that First Temple actually looked like. I was reminded of this fact recently when I visited a special exhibit at the Bible Lands Museum in Jerusalem, entitled "Royal Cities of the Biblical World." In this exhibit made up of models of ancient cities and related artifacts was a superb model of the First Temple, accompanied by various computer visualizations of Solomon's Temple, done by three different designers. The text that described the model emphasized that every one of these models of the Solomonic Temple is theoretical because no actual remains of the First Temple survived the destruction that took place in 586 B.C. So how is it that model makers can construct such models? Archaeology supplies our answer, as Professor Arnihai Mazar explains:
We wanted very much to explore the Temple of Solomon. Unfortunately, we know that nothing remained, but the description of the Solomonic Temple in the scriptures is so exact that we can even draw the plan and can compare this plan to plans of other temples that were found in Syria and Canaan and Aramean sites in the Iron Age and the Bronze Age. [Furthermore,] this Temple of Solomon is based on a long tradition [of temples] which started about 1,000 years earlier and continued to 200 or 300 years later. So we can insert the biblical tradition concerning the Temple of Solomon in a much longer tradition [of ancient Near Eastern temples] which can be illustrated archaeologically.7
The Architecture of the First Temple
As Professor Mazar has noted, the picture archaeology draws for us of Solomon's Temple comes from studying and comparing the form of the temples among Israel's neighbors.8 The style of the Jerusalem Temple appears to have been derived from the long-room type of temple common in Syria from the second millennium B.C.9 The long-room temple was built with the entrance door on the short side (as opposed to a broad-room temple, which has the entrance on the long side). It is generally thought that the interior style was tripartite (three-part),10 each division having a separate function with varying degrees of sanctity. The Temple at Jerusalem, in all of its constructions, adopted this form with its outside porch, inner holy place, and innermost Holy of Holies.
The best archaeological example of a Solomonic-type temple is an eighth-century long-room tripartite temple from Tel Tainat in the Amuq Valley at the northern Orontes in Syria. Excavated in the 1930s by the University of Chicago's Oriental Institute, this temple, which had an east-west orientation like the Jerusalem Temple, still had one set of a pair of lions that were made to support columns and guard the entrance. This temple was built next to the royal palace, as was Solomon's. Other good examples from northern Syria include four temples from two sites (Tel Munbaqa and Tel Emar), and a poorly preserved temple at En Dara. Also, of the three temples found in the excavations at Ebla, one is a long-room style, indicating a long history for this type of building. This same style of temple was imported into Canaan during the second millennium B.C. and appears (with variations) at Hazor and Tel Kitan (in the Jordan Valley). Two temples of this type from the Middle Bronze IIB Period (1750-1550 B.C.) also have been found at Shechem and Megiddo. The only known Israelite temple form is represented by a small temple within the Israelite fortress at Tel Arad (in the Negev).11 Although originally erected in Solomon's time, and similar internally to the Jerusalem Temple, the style is that of the broad-room temple. This provides archaeological corroboration of the biblical account that Solomon's Temple was inspired by a non-Israelite source.
This foreign source, however, was not Syrian, but Phoenician. In keeping with the custom of his age, Solomon, when he constructed the Temple, relied upon the expertise of the Phoenician material supplier, Hiram (Huram), king of Tyre (2 Samuel 5:11; 1 Kings 5; 2 Chronicles 2:3-18). The biblical text adds that Hiram sent his Phoenician architects and craftsmen to advise their Israelite counterparts on building the Temple to contemporary specifications. One of these was a half-Jewish, half-Phoenician artisan named Huram-abi, who was given oversight of the Temple craftsmen.12 Credit is given to him for the vast array of decorative, cast, and overlaid objects in the Temple (1 Kings 7:13-45; 2 Chronicles 2:13-14). The building of the Second Temple under Zerubbabel also involved Phoenician workmen (Ezra 3:7-10),13 in harmony with the decree from the Persian king Darius to "rebuild" the Temple. Jews in captivity, and long removed from the original construction, could only rebuild (rather than replace) this Temple with the aid of Phoenicians skilled in following their own design.
While few examples of Phoenician temples exist (or have yet to be found) to confirm this design, it is certain that their constructions were descendants of the same long-room temple.14 One Phoenician temple two centuries older than Solomon's was excavated in Hazor. It was 84 feet by 56 feet and tripartite. At each side of the entrance to the main hall was a round pillar, like those in Solomon's Temple. Also, ivory panels and sculptures in several Phoenician temples bear pattern decorations similar to the cherubim, palm trees, and open flowers carved in the paneling of the Jerusalem Temple (1 Kings 6:35).15 In addition, the fourth-century A.D. Church Father Eusebius preserved in his writings the record of a Phoenician priest named Sanchu-niathon, who gave details of how King Hiram of Tyre had supplied Solomon with supplies for the building of the Temple. Such archaeological information about comparative temples makes it possible to reconstruct a reasonably accurate portrait of the Solomonic Temple.16
(WHAT IS MISSED BY NEARLY EVERYONE IS THAT THE KING OF TYRE AND HIS LAND WAS GIVEN TO ISRAEL, PART OF THEIR NATION - Keith Hunt)
A Trip Through the Temple
In appearance the First Temple was a modest building. It was about the size of a small church or synagogue: about 104 feet long x 35 feet wide x 52 feet high, covering 3,640 square feet, and situated on a platform approximately 10 feet high.17 In the front of the Temple to the east was an open courtyard in which stood the bronze altar. Not far away was located an immense basin called "the Bronze (or Molten) Sea." This basin, which held an estimated 15,000 gallons of water and rested on the backs of a dozen bronze bulls, was used for the ritual purification and cleansing of the priests engaged in offering sacrifices. Ten ornamented bronze rolling basins or lavers (called mekhonot), which were stationed nearby on both the north and south sides of the courtyard, transported the water to various places at the Temple. (An eleventh-century B.C. parallel to this rolling basin was discovered in Cyprus. Adorned with cherubim, this 13-inch, four-wheeled bronze cart supported a water basin.) At the westernmost end of the Temple complex was a belt of storerooms surrounding the holy places. Other objects made for use in the Temple, such as stone altars and iron incense shovels, have been found in many parts of Israel, most notably several eighth-century examples from Tel Dan in northern Galilee.
The holy places (the three rooms of the Temple) were first approached by ascending the Temple platform via ten steps leading up between the twin bronze pillars, which were named Yakin ("He [God] establishes") and Boaz ("in Him [God] is strength")—each about 40 feet high and 12 feet in circumference. Beyond the entrance porch lay the first and smallest room of the Temple, which led into the main room (the holy place). The door through which an individual entered probably had massive, interlocking doorframes similar to those discovered in the royal tombs at Tamassos, Cyprus, and an eighth-century B.C. ivory from Nimrud of a woman at a window.
This middle room was the largest in the Temple. Its interior walls were covered with elaborately carved cedar panels overlaid with gold, and the floors were covered with cypress boards so that no stonework remained visible. In addition, Solomon is said to have adorned this room with beautiful and precious stones. Housed within this awe-inspiring central chamber were the sacred objects from the Tabernacle: the Menorah (a golden seven-branched lampstand), the Table of Shewbread (the sacred presence bread), and the golden Altar of Incense. Specially made for this room (not originally in the Tabernacle) were ten tables (five on the north side and five on the south), which were accompanied by ten lamps on lampstands, as well as many implements made for use by the priests.
The innermost room was separated from the entrance by a large double veil (35 x 70 feet) of fabric three fingers thick, and by a wall with only one door that was kept closed except on rare occasions. Access to this unlit, windowless room (the Holy of Holies) was forbidden to all except the High Priest, and to him only once a year at the high holy Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement). In this perfectly cube-shaped room (about 35 feet square), which was gilded throughout with an estimated 23 tons of gold, stood the most sacred object from the Tabernacle: the Ark of the Covenant (see next chapter). We can get an idea of what the gold-plated parts of the Temple must have been like based on similarly adorned temples in Egypt. The temple of Pharaoh Tutmose in (1450 B.C.) has inscriptions that record that the doorways, pillars, and shrines were all covered with gold. In the ruins of this building are slits in the stone columns and capitals, which most likely served to hold the gold sheets that covered them.18
Finds from the First Temple
After the First Temple was burned by the invading Babylonian army, Zerubbabel's Second Temple was rebuilt over the same spot. The builders even re-used some of the former stones, and thus eclipsed any remains from the First Temple. However, it is believed that some stones in the outer walls surrounding the Temple are Solomonic, and that parts of walls in the area of the Ophel are from the First Temple period. The only discovered item known to have been related to Solomon's Temple is a tiny ivory pomegranate that was once attached to the tip of a scepter. Dated to the eighth-century B.C., its relation to the Temple is indicated by an inscription on the scepter head: "Belonging to the house of Y...]. A holy thing of the priests (or 'Holy to the
34. Ivory pomegranate scepter head from staff of a priest who served in Solomon's Temple.
priests')." The "house" mentioned in the inscription most likely is the "House of the Lord" or the Temple. A similar carved pomegranate (without an inscription) was found on the floor of a home dating to the sixth-century B.C. It may also have belonged to a scepter and been related to the Temple or used for decoration on a horse's bridle (such usage is depicted in Assyrian reliefs).19
Archaeology and the Second Temple
A Replica on Mount Gerizim?
From all indications, the Second Temple (of Zerubbabel) was built according to the same plan and dimensions as the First Temple. While the later reconstruction by Herod completely erased all traces of this Temple, an extraordinary find in Samaria has opened up the possibility of recovering an exact duplicate of Zerubbabel's Temple. The discovery was made on Mount Gerizim, a site sacred to the Samaritans because that's where their ancient temple once stood. According to the first-century historian Havius Josephus, the Samaritan temple was destroyed by John Hyrcanus in 113 B.C. It was this temple that the Samaritan woman referred to as the place where her "fathers worshiped" in her dialogue with Jesus (John 4:20). At the invitation of the excavation's director, Yitzhak Magen, I have twice visited the site on Mount Gerizim to view the discoveries. What has been found are the remains of the Samaritan temple, including its six-foot-thick walls, gates, and altars (on which they found sacrificial ashes and bones). In addition, two adjacent edifices, thought to be a royal residence and administrative building, were discovered and are presently being excavated. These buildings resemble the plan of the First Temple complex, which had a palace proper, throne room, House of Pharaoh's Daughter, Hall of Columns, and House of the Forest of Lebanon. The Samaritan temple was located beneath the floor of the fifth-century Byzantine church of Mary Theotokos, which had been uncovered in excavations during the 1920s. The temple's northern gate matches that of the temple described in the Temple Scroll, a Dead Sea Scroll document written when the Second Temple (of Zerubbabel) was still standing. That the Samaritan temple was most likely a replica of Zerubbabel's temple is implied by Josephus's account of its origin.
According to his record, Menachem, a priest in the Jerusalem Temple, fell in love with a woman named Nikaso, who was the daughter of the Samaritan's leader, Sanballat. Because she was a non-Jew, Menachem was told to choose between Nikaso and his priesthood. Choosing Nikaso and losing access to the Jerusalem Temple, Sanballat built his new son-in-law a rival temple on the sacred Mount Gerizim and made him its High Priest. Yitzhak Magen believes this account from Josephus is correct, noting that second-century B.C. inscriptions discovered at the site confirm that "the Samaritans adopted everything from the Jewish prayers to [their] sacrificial ritual."20
(THE SAMARITANS, WERE NOT GENTILES; THEY WERE A JEWISH SECT. THE JEWISH ENCYCLOPEDIA HAS A VERY LONG ARTICLE ON THEM; THEY CLAIM TO BE OF THE TRIBE OF EPHRAIM - THEY OCCUPIED A SMALL AREA NORTH OF JERUSALEM AND NOT THE ENTIRE OLD SAMARIA 10 TRIBE HOUSE OF ISRAEL - Keith Hunt)
Excavation of the two adjacent buildings, in which the remains are more complete than those found in the temple, has taken priority. However, when all is finally excavated, our knowledge of this longest-lived phase of the Jerusalem Temple will be immensely improved.
JERUSALEM DURING THE SECOND TEMPLE PERIOD
Revealing the Herodian Second Temple
Before Jewish access to the Temple Mount area was gained as a result of the Six-Day War in June 1967, our knowledge of the Herodian Second Temple was limited to a small section of a retaining wall (known as the "Wailing" or Western Wall) revered as the "only remnant" of the Temple that survived the Roman destruction in A.D. 70. This changed in 1968 when Israeli archaeologist Benjamin Mazar began extensive excavations at the southern end of the western and southern walls of the Temple Mount.21 These excavations, which ended in 1978, revealed never-before-seen evidence of the Temple's ancient existence and glory. When I moved to Jerusalem in 1979 to begin archaeological studies, I was able to view many of the artifacts uncovered by these excavations exactly as they had been discovered before they were removed to museums. One item that impressed me was a large section of the upper balustrade, which had fallen just where the Roman army had toppled it 2,000 years before. One smaller section had broken off and lay against the corner of the wall. On it was an inscription that read, "To the Trumpeting Place." Here was the very place where the priests stood to blow the silver trumpets to summon the Israeli people to the sacred site.
Mazar's excavations revealed much more; some of the best-known finds are marvelled at by thousands of tourists every year. One of these is the remains of Robinson's Arch, part of the support for a great stairway connecting the upper and lower sections of the southwestern corner of the Temple Mount. Another is the monumental staircase at the southern wall and its gates (Double and Triple Gates), which served as the people's main entrance to the Temple. Jesus and His disciples climbed these stairs to enter and exit the Temple and discuss its buildings (Matthew 24:1-2; Mark 13:1-2; Luke 21:5-6). History records that Gamaliel taught his students on these stairs. One of those students was Saul, who later became the apostle Paul (Acts 5:34; 22:3).
Discoveries Beneath the Temple Mount
One of the most exciting-—-and most controversial—of the excavations at the western wall of the Temple Mount has been the dig that exposed an extensive course of the wall at the original ground level (52 feet below present ground level). This work began in conjunction with Mazar's excavation in 1968 and continued until 1982. It was renewed as the "Western Wall Tunnel" excavations in 1985 under the direction of Dan Bahat, former District Archaeologist for Jerusalem with the Israel Antiquities Authority.22 Uncovered in the excavations was the exposed portion of the Herodian wall, which ran alongside a 900-foot-long tunnel that is three to four feet wide and six to eight feet high. Because it was believed that this tunnel was used by the priests who officiated in the Temple, it was given the popular name of "Rabbinic Tunnel." Features of the wall at the southern end of the exposed portion are truly amazing. Here, at a section dubbed the "Master Course," are four blocks bearing the unmistakable signs of Herodian craftsmanship (smoothed margins and bosses). These "foundation stones" are 11 feet high and range from 6 feet to 42 feet in length! The largest stone is estimated to be about 15 feet high, 42 feet long, and 14 feet deep, and weighs about 1,200,000 pounds! By contrast, the largest stone in the Great Pyramid of Egypt weighs only 22,000 pounds.
Along the Western Wall Tunnel was also discovered one of the ancient gates to the Temple Mount. First reported in the nineteenth century by Charles Warren, and thus named "Warren's Gate," it is a monumental gate that exited onto the Temple platform just south of the ancient Holy of Holies. Its interior looks much like the inside of present Wilson's Arch (although Wilson's Arch is dated to a later period). However, owing to a controversy with Muslim authorities in 1981, the gate was sealed and closed to further access. I first entered the tunnel and visited this gate in 1982, shortly after it was sealed. Since that time I have visited the site many more times, both with Dan Bahat and with the late Rabbi Yehuda Getz, who was involved
38. Inside the 900-foot long Western Wall Tunnel. Along the right side is an exposed portion of the Herodian retaining wall of the Temple.
with the gate's excavation. My interviews with these men and with the late former Chief Rabbi Shlomo Goren (whose clandestine dig beyond Warren's gate toward the Muslim Dome of the Rock provoked the riot which closed the gate) have been published in my book In Search of Temple Treasures,12, and featured in the video by the same title.
Toward the northern end of the tunnel are signs that reveal where the stones were quarried (some of the stones are only partially cut). Just beyond the area where the original street ended is a water channel and aqueduct, called the Hasmonean Tunnel (although some would date it to a pre-Hasmonean era),24 which emptied into the Struthion Pool just north of the ancient Antonia Fortress (where Jesus was scourged). The opening in September 1996, of a new exit to this Hasmonean Tunnel—an opening intended for public access—was protested by the Palestinians. In the ensuing riot, 53 people were killed.
A Walk on 2,000-Year-Old Streets
While excavations at the Western Wall Tunnel continue, excavations at the southern end of the Western Wall were renewed by Jerusalem archaeologist Ronny Reich in preparation for Jerusalem's 3000th anniversary (996 B.C.-A.D. 1996). Reich removed the debris at this site down to the original Herodian street level. In October 1996, as this work was being completed, I spoke with Reich at the site and he offered this summary of his team's work:
We excavated outside the Temple Mount walls the main street of Jerusalem, which was paved between the Temple Mount and the Upper City and included the residential quarters of the city.... we have exposed here a sample of about 70 meters [230 feet] of street which was at least 500 meters [1,641 feet] long—the
original length of the Temple Mount we exposed curbs of the street on both sides and the remains of traces of shops opening to the street from the west. On the east side were other shops in which people bought and sold all kinds of things which [will be determined] when we examine the finds found in the shops. I can
already tell you that a large amount of stone weights to weigh commodities were found here and this is the first indication of commercial activity which took place here in the street. If you like, call it the mall of Jerusalemwe have exposed outside the Temple Mount area-—a secular place, although very close to the holy precinct of the Temple, yet still outside.25
It was thrilling to walk on this newly exposed street, knowing that I was one of the first to do so in 2,000 years. It was also interesting to stand within the entrances to these shops, realizing that similar shops had once spilled over into the sacred precinct of the Temple and had drawn condemnation from Jesus, prompting Him to drive out the money changers (Matthew 12:12-13; Mark 11:15-17; Luke 19:45-47; John 2:14-17). Today this ancient street is still littered with huge stones from the Temple Mount, left purposely to reveal the magnitude of the awful devastation suffered under the Romans. These stones themselves tell stories, as Ronny Reich describes:
We decided to clear the stones from half of the street and leave the stones on the other half just to commemorate the destruction of Jerusalem. These gigantic stones, on the average, weighed 2-4 tons each; some are larger... up to 15 tons. As it seems, the Romans dismantled the walls stone by stone... simply pushing them from the upper parts of the wall down onto the street. In some places these fallen stones cracked the flagstones [the stones that paved the street], in other places the stones even sank into the street. Imagine, 10 tons of stone falling 25 meters [82 feet]. This is a very moving site for religious Jews who mourn every year on the ninth of the month of Ab [Tisha B'av] the [commemoration of the] destruction of the Temple.... We mourn the last 2,000 years every year, but here one can see it and touch it.26
Discoveries like this make it impossible to believe the historical revisionists who deny that the Jewish Temple ever existed. Even more controversial-—-and threatening, to these revisionists—are the archaeological deductions that locate the Temple itself at the place of Islam's sacred structures.
Locating the Temple on the Temple Mount
The 25-acre platform that today dominates the Temple Mount has not been substantially disturbed since the Temple's last destruction, and archaeologists agree that the ancient Temples once occupied a spot on this platform. But the question is, Where? Because archaeological investigation of this area is prohibited, only deductions may be made based on nearby excavations and reports of excavations that took place on the Mount in the previous century. Over the years, a number of theories have been produced. One popular theory is that of Asher Kaufman, a physicist at the Hebrew University. Based on his reading of the Mishnah tractate Middot ("measurements") and physical computations, he puts the Temple in the northwest corner of the present platform, about 330 feet from the Muslim Dome of the Rock.
His theory of location is based on the alignment of the Eastern Gate with the entrance to the Temple proper, a supposed portion of the Temple's eastern wall (discovered by Ze'evYeivin in 1970), and foundation cuttings that seem to align with the modern site of a Muslim cupola known as the "Dome of the Tablets or Spirits." Problems with this location are the presence of an ancient dry moat (filled in by the Romans in A.D. 68) immediately to the north and the ancient Beth Zetha Valley to the northeast. These geographic features would have limited the construction of the Temple at this northern point. In addition, there is no evidence that the Eastern Gate of the Temple was in direct alignment with the Temple entrance nor that the present Golden Gate is the correct location of the ancient Eastern Gate.
Another theory in the opposite direction is that of Tel Aviv architect Tuvia Sagiv. He argues from architectural features and infrared surveys that the Temple was built about where the
42. Former location of the Jewish Temple, according to Asher Kaufinan— about 330 feet from the Dome of the Rock at the site of the small cupola (foreground).
Muslim's Al-Aqsa mosque sits today, with its Holy of Holies at the spot of the al-Kas fountain.
However, among Israeli archaeologists, the consensus of location favors the traditional placement of the Temple just west and at the center of the platform at the present site of the Dome of the Rock. Archaeological evidence for this location was first put forward by Benjamin Mazar, director of the Temple Mount excavations, with the assistance of Leen Ritmeyer, who worked with the excavations for 18 years as chief architect.27 Ritmeyer, who today heads his own archaeological design company in England, first deduced:28.
Josephus tells us that Herod made a Temple Mount twice as large as before. In the Misbnah tractate Middot we are told that the Temple Mount was measured at 500 cubits square. I investigated a particular step at the northwestern corner of the present-day Moslem platform, and using some early photographs, found that this was the remains of an earlier wall. Looking at the plans, I soon realized that this step was parallel with the eastern wall of the Temple Mount at a distance of 860 feet. If you divide that distance by 500, you come to the well-established [royal] cubit of just over 20 inches long going back to the early Egyptian period. So then I had two walls at a distance of 500 cubits.
Along the present-day edge of the northern platform, Brian Loren investigated cistern number 29, which Charles Warren in a previous century had recorded. He describes that on the inside he saw a well-cut rock scarp, which he identified as the northern boundary of this pre-Herodian Temple Mount. From this starting point at the western wall going along the northern wall a distance of 500 cubits we come to the eastern wall just north of the present Golden Gate. From that point you can project 500 cubits down to a bend, probably due to an earlier construction which was buried deep underground. Also on the west, Barclay's gate is reshaped and the point where it bends is exactly 500 cubits from the eastern wall.
So once I had located three walls with their corners, it was relatively easy to complete the square and then take the measurements of this square and compare it with the present-day site. It came out exactly twice as large as before. [Additional] evidence that would support a location of this earlier Temple Mount are the underground tunnels which lead up from the Double and Triple Gates exactly opposite the pre-Herodian southern wall. On the west, the underground runnels of Barclay and Loren are built up to the pre-Herodian western wall. So I believe I have found the location of the pre-Herodian Temple Mount.29
Drawing a diagram of these conclusions, Ritmeyer then artistically removed the later expansions made to this platform by the Hasmoneans and King Herod, which have been identified through archaeological excavations, and traced the dimensions of the various courts of the Temple as recorded in the Mishnah. That enabled him to pinpoint the Temple on the 500-cubit platform at the place of the present Dome of the Rock (for his diagram and precise identifications at this site, see the next chapter).30
In Anticipation of New Discoveries
Recent archaeological work, then, has made it impossible for people to deny the existence of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. Political propaganda and religious rivalries currently prevent us from finding additional evidence of the Temple that surely lies buried beneath the present platform, but there will come a day when all that is past and we can unearth the wonders dating from the glory days of the Temple. That prospect is made more special by the fact that this was the place where Jesus said the stones would shout. May we turn an ear of anticipation for the that coming day!
TO BE CONTINUED
THE JEWS WHO BELIEVE A PHYSICAL TEMPLE MUST BE BUILT BEFORE THE MESSIAH RETURNS; AND ANIMAL SACRIFICES AGAIN DONE BY JEWS; BELIEVE IT MUST BE ON THE SITE WHERE NOW STANDS THE DOME OF THE ROCK. THE MUSLIMS WOULD NEVER ALLOW SUCH A BUILDING TO DESTROY THEIR DOME. ORTHODOX JEWS SAY ONLY THE MESSIAH CAN RE-BUILD THE TEMPLE IN JERUSALEM.
NO PHYSICAL TEMPLE NEEDS TO BE BUILD TO FULFIL END TIME PROPHECY.
THIS TRUTH IS FULLY EXPOUNDED IN DETAIL ON THIS WEBSITE, UNDER "PROPHECY."
THE IDEA OF A PHYSICAL TEMPLE BEFORE THE COMING OF JESUS BACK TO EARTH, IS A FALSE DOCTRINE, BY THE PROTESTANT FUNDAMENTAL PROPHETS, OVER THE LAST 100 YEARS OR SO.
THEY HAVE IT ALL TIED IN WITH AN ANTI-CHRIST MAKING A COVENANT WITH THE JEWS FOR 7 YEARS. IN THE MIDDLE OF THE SEVEN YEARS THE ANTI-CHRIST BREAKS THE COVENANT, STOPS THE JEWS FROM PERFORMING ANIMAL SACRIFICES, AND DESOLATES JERUSALEM AND THE TEMPLE. THEY THROW IN FOR GOOD MEASURE, THE "SECRET RAPTURE" OF THE SAINT TO HEAVEN; THEN A VISIBLE RETURN OF CHRIST WITH THE SAINTS TO EARTH, EITHER 7 OR 3 AND 1/2 YEARS LATER, DEPENDING ON WHOSE TEACHING WHAT.
THEY GET A LOT OF THIS FALSE TEACHING FROM NOT UNDERSTANDING DANIEL 9 CORRECTLY; WHICH MOST OF THEIR OLD PROTESTANT BIBLE COMMENTARIES [LIKE ALBERT BARNES; ADAM CLARKE; MATTHEW HENRY] DID GET CORRECT.
YOU CAN SEE IT ALL EXPLAINED FULLY AND CORRECTLY ON THIS WEBSITE.