Home Church Community

Statement of Beliefs

Contact Us

Search Our Site

Bible Study Resource

Printer Friendly Version

Basic Worldview:
314 End Times Prophecy (Eschatology)

Premillennial Temple Study

Premillennial Temple Study Part 1
Premillennial Temple Study Part 2
Premillennial Temple Study Part 3
Premillennial Temple Study Part 4
Premillennial Temple Study Part 5
Premillennial Temple Study Part 6
Premillennial Temple Study Part 7
Premillennial Temple Study Part 8
Premillennial Temple Study Part 9
Premillennial Temple Study Part 10
Premillennial Temple Study Part 11
Premillennial Temple Study Part 12
Premillennial Temple Study Part 13
Premillennial Temple Study Part 14
Premillennial Temple Study Part 15




The Various Theories on the Site of the Temple


At this point, some might ask what may seem to be a few obvious questions. Why do we need to examine this issue? Don’t we already know where the Temple was? Wasn’t it on the Temple Mount? Hasn’t this question been answered already?


It is true that, the question of where the Temple was located is generally considered to be a closed issue. For example, the New International Standard Bible Encyclopedia states:


It is clear that the site of today’s ‘Dome of the Rock’ on Jerusalem’s eastern hill marks the location of Solomon’s temple (as well as that of the later structures of Zerubbabel and Herod); but it is difficult to be more precise.The New International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, quoted in The Temples that Jerusalem Forgot, Ernest L. Martin, ASK Publications, P.O. Box 25000, Portland, OR 97298-0990. Copyright 2000 Ernest L. Martin, p. 109


However, while the New International Standard Bible Encyclopedia does represent the conventional point of view, there is actually a great deal more discussion regarding the Temple’s location than is commonly percieved. In point of fact, there are several competing theories on where the Temple was located.


At a conference held in 1995 three of the most prominent, modern views were presented. Chuck Missler, of Koinonia House ministry which sponsored the event, had the following to say about the number of theories on the location of the Temple.


That’s at least two theories, no, no, no, no, no…not two theories. Fourteen of them. – Chuck Missler, 1995, The Coming Temple, Presentation 1, 39:03-39:11 minutes,  Koinonia House, http://store.khouse.org/...


Similarly, Dr. Ernest L. Martin, who had once worked with the famous Israeli archeologist Benjamin Mazar, comments similarly on the various theories on the location of the Temple Mount. (Because, Martin’s theories will be discussed throughout our presentation we will provide some of his scholarly background.)


Dr. Ernest L. Martin has taught history for 12 years at a college in England, been the Chairman of the Department of Theology at another in California, has supervised over 450 college students at the most significant archaeological excavation ever conducted in Jerusalem for two months each year for a period of five years (and his archaeological educational program was featured in the Education section of Time magazine for September 3, 1973)… – The Temples that Jerusalem Forgot, Ernest L. Martin, ASK Publications, P.O. Box 25000, Portland, OR 97298-0990. Copyright 2000 Ernest L. Martin, back cover


Dr. Ernest L. Martin – Between 1969 and 1973 Ambassador College entered into an alliance with Hebrew University in Israel which had been negotiated by Martin. This undertaking commenced a five years archaeological excavation near the Western Wall of the Temple Mount during which time he supervised 450 participating college students during the summer months. The program gained mention in a TIME magazine article….The basis of this work began with the first visit by Martin to Jerusalem in 1961 when he first met Professor Benjamin Mazar and later his son, Ory,…– wikipedia.org


Benjamin MazarBenjamin Mazar (June 28, 1906 - September 9, 1995) was a pioneering Israeli archaeologist who shared the national passion for the archaeology of Israel that also attracts considerable international interest due to the region's Biblical links. He is known for his involvement in the identification and recovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls and for leading the excavations at the most significant biblical site in Israel: The temple mount (southern wall) in Jerusalem. Universally recognized as the "dean of Biblical archaeologists of the 20th century", Prof. Mazar was known as the founder of the academic science of Geographical History. He is the author of more than 100 books about the bible, biblical history and archaeology. For decades he served as the chairman of the Israel Exploration Society, which supervises all archaeological activities. – wikipedia.org


In his book, Martin makes several reports about the number of locations offered for the Temple. We should note that four of these theories did NOT located the Temple on the platform that today is commonly called the Temple Mount.


in modern times there have been at least SEVEN different areas within the Haram enclosure that have rivaled each other as the site for the Holy of Holies. Those seven areas within the Haram are not the only contenders for the site of the Temples. There have been four areas of Jerusalem outside the perimeters of the Haram esh-Sharif (accepted by people from the 4th century to the 11th century of our era) that were also thought to be the site of the Temple. In all, this makes eleven different areas in very dissimilar sections of the Haram and in various locations in Jerusalem that have been claimed to be the true site.The Temples that Jerusalem Forgot, Ernest L. Martin, ASK Publications, P.O. Box 25000, Portland, OR 97298-0990. Copyright 2000 Ernest L. Martin, p.109-110

The common use of the term “Temple Mount” is a reflection of the popular contemporary view(s) that the Temple was located on this large platform. However, since we will seek to establish the Temple’s location from historical data rather than from popular, modern conclusions, we will instead refer to this structure as the Moriah Platform. More information on this important archeological site will be discussed as we continue.


In the pages that follow the above remark, Martin outlines the various theories that have been put forward over the centuries for the site of the Temple. However, today, only three or four major theories are regularly discussed in the public forums. These theories deal with the overall location of the greater Temple complex itself. Within some of these theories there is also some disagreement over the specific location of particular structures within the arrangement of the greater Temple complex. These structures include the Temple building itself, the Holy of Holies, the foundation stone, and the altar of sacrifice.


Tuvia Sagiv, a spokesperson for one of the theories, outlines the basic differences between today’s most talked about views.


According to the most traditional systems, the Temple itself, the Holy of Holies was here. It means in this place. We see this wonderful building the Dome of the Rock, which was built by the Arabs in the seventh century. 42:15 42:25 Some scholars say no, the rock was not exactly the place of the Holy of Holies, but it was the place of the altar. Some say no, the Temple itself was in the north. And there are even some others who say it was in the south. – Tuvia Sagiv, The Coming Temple, Presentation 2, Koinonia House, 41 minutes and 55 seconds, http://store.khouse.org/store/...


According to, you know there are a lot of ideas as to where it was exactly, the Holy of Holies. You know there are a lot of problems [regarding] exactly where is the Holy of Holies. Some say it was in the north. You know Professor Kaufman’s theory. Some say the Holy of Holies is the rock of the Dome. And some say that the rock is the place of the altar. In our discussion, I prefer to talk of the theory, Dan Bahat’s theory, that says that the Dome of the Rock is the place of the Holy of Holies. Most of the archeologist, scientists, they have taken the facts, how it looks, they have taken the literature sources put them all together one another and say, “Alright, the area itself is bigger than what’s written in the sources, so let us try and find where is the place of the Temple Mount. Maybe it’s in the south. Maybe in the center. Maybe in the north. – Tuvia Sagiv, The Southern Location of the Temples, 5 minutes and 38 seconds, http://www.templemount.org/lectures.html


Of the four major views on the location of the Temple, the first three of these theories can be grouped together. Each of these three theories places the Temple’s location somewhere within the bounds of the Moriah Platform (the Haram ash-Sharif or “Temple Mount”) where the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque are today. (As we said earlier, we will use the term Moriah Platform so as not to confuse the issue or infer agreement with any particular view before a thorough consideration of the facts has been performed.)


Of these three views, the Traditional View concludes that the Temple was located at the Dome of the Rock. The chief proponents of this view today are Dan Bahat, former chief architect for the Jerusalem District, and by Leen Ritmeyer, whose position was most notably featured in the 1995 edition of the Biblical Archeological Review.


Dan Bahat is one of Israel's leading archaeologists and a senior lecturer at the Land of Israel Studies at Bar-Ilan University. He is an expert on the Temple Mount, Herod's Palace, and the 1,600- foot tunnel that runs under the western retaining wall of the Temple Mount. – Christianity Today, The Dick Staub Interview: Dan Bahat on Jerusalem Archaeology,

“Dan Bahat served as Jerusalem district archaeologist from 1978 to 1990;”Dan Bahat, the former chief archeologist of Jerusalem - Biblical archaeology conference highlights 'Naked Archaeologist,' lost tomb, Mike Bell and Judy Rydberg, Issue date: 11/18/08, http://media.www.unogateway.com/...


DAN BAHAT served as the district archaeologist for Jerusalem and has published extensively on the city's history, including multiple articles for Biblical Archaeology Review. In addition, he has excavated at Masada, Tel Dan, Beth Shemesh, Safed and Beth-Shean, among other sites. He is currently a lecturer at the University of Toronto. – The Jerusalem of Jesus product info, http://www.easycart.net/...


Leen Ritmeyer – Leen Ritmeyer is a Dutch-born archaeological architect who currently lives and works in Wales, having spent 22 years in Jerusalem from 1967-1989. He holds the M.A. in Conservation Studies from the Institute of Advanced Architectural Studies, University of York, England, and the Ph.D. from the University of Manchester, England. Ritmeyer is known for the "solid scientific research" he has done on the structure and remaining elements of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. [1] He has presented evidence for fixing the location of the Ark of the Covenant on the Foundation Stone.[2] He has demonstrated that one of the steps leading to the Dome of the Rock is actually the capstone of the pre-Herodian wall of the Temple Mount platform. [3] Ritmeyer is well known for his architectural models of the buildings of ancient Jerusalem. His models of the historical Jewish Temples have been exhibited at museums including the Yeshiva University Museum in New York [4] and the Siegfried H. Horn Museum. – wikipedia.org


A second view, the Northern View, is championed by physicist Dr. Asher Kaufman. According to this theory the Temple stood to the north of the Dome of the Rock on the Moriah Platform.


Asher Kaufman - Assistant Professor, Department of History, Degrees

B.A., M.A., Hebrew University of Jerusalem; Ph.D., Brandeis University, Research Profile: Kaufman’s areas of specialization are the modern history of Lebanon and Syria and the Arab-Israeli conflict. He is the author of Reviving Phoenicia: The Search for Identity in Lebanon (London: I.B. Tauris, 2004) and of articles on Lebanese and Syrian nationalisms. He is currently working on a new project focusing on boundaries, territoriality, conflict, and identities in Lebanon, Syria, and Israel. http://al.nd.edu/resources-for/...


Asher Kaufman (Ph.D. Brandeis University, 2000) joined the University of Notre Dame faculty in August 2005. Prior to that, he taught at Hebrew University, Jerusalem. From 2000 to 2004, he was a research fellow at the Harry S. Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace, and headed its Middle East Unit in 2004-05. – http://kroc.nd.edu/people/...


The third view, the Southern Moriah Platform View, identifies a site directly adjacent to the Western (or Wailing) Wall and places the Temple to the south of the Dome of the Rock, between the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque. This view is offered by Israeli architect Tuvia Sagiv.


Tuvia Sagiv, based in Tel Aviv, was born in Belgium 1947, comes from a religious background. He completed his architecture studies at Haifa’s Technion, the Israel Institute of Technology in 1973.http://green-dense-burial.com/psabout.html


An overview of these three main views is provided in audio presentations offered by Koinonia House and can be found at the following web address: http://store.khouse.org/.... Additional presentations by Bahat, Kaufman, and Sagiv are also available online at http://www.templemount.org/lectures.html. Throughout this study we will make references to remarks made by these scholars in their presentations regarding the location of the Temple. It should be noted that while these three views differ from one another in their exact placement of the Temple, there is one thing they all have in common. All three of these theories claim that the Temple was located somewhere within the confines of the Moriah Platform.


The fourth view that deserves attention differs from these three views because it does not locate the Temple site within the Moriah Platform. The view is offered by Dr. Ernest L. Martin in his book The Temples that Jerusalem Forgot. According to Martin’s thesis, the Temple was not located within the confines of the Moriah Platform at all. Instead, the Temple site was entirely south of the Moriah Platform.


For the purposes of our investigation we can group these four theories into two camps. The first camp includes the views offered by Bahat/Ritmeyer, Kaufman, and Sagiv, which all locate the Temple within the Moriah Platform. For this reason we will refer to these theories as the Moriah Platform Views. In contrast, we will refer to the view reflected in Martin’s work as the Gihon Spring View. This will denote the theory that the Temple’s former site was south of the Moriah Platform near the Gihon Spring and the archeological area that is today known as “the City of David.”


In order to highlight the divergence between these two main views it is helpful to get a basic idea of the geographical differences that are implicit to their conclusions. (See illustrations labeled: Jerusalem Geo Diagram, North Platform Diagram, Dor Site Diagram, South Platform Diagram, Gihon Site Diagram.)


Before we proceed we want to express our indebtedness to the many biblical researchers, historians, and archeologists who have studied this topic and dedicated their lives and careers to its investigation (including those mentioned above.) In the course of our own investigation, we have spent many long hours over several years studying their work, tediously taking notes, and listening to hours of presentations. In this way we have sought to learn from their expertise and effort in this field. Much of the work that follows in this study was only possible through the work of others. Not much of what we will present was discovered by our own research. Rather we have sought to collect in a single, organized study the many issues and evidences that others have brought to the table regarding the location of the Temple. Throughout the study ahead, we will continue to quote and reference the valuable work of these scholars. And we hope that our presentation will be an accurate reflection of their positions as well as the biblical, historical, and archeological data on the site of the Holy Temple.




Major Sources for the Location of the Temple


Throughout this study, we will refer to many biblical and historical sources as we build our understanding of the Temple, its location, and its history. However, there are a few main sources that deserve some mention up front. The two major historical sources for information about the Temple are Josephus Flavius and the Mishnah. A third source of information the Herodian Temple is the New Testament.


Josephus Flavius was a first century Jewish priest and historian who chronicled the history of the Jewish people. His works include very detailed descriptions of the Jewish Temples as well as the Roman siege and destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. According to scholars on the subject of biblical Jerusalem, Josephus’ writings are held in high regard as a reliable testimony of first century Judaism and the Temple.


Josephus – Josephus (AD 37 – c. 100), [2] also known as Yosef Ben Matityahu (Joseph, son of Matthias) and, after he became a Roman citizen, as Titus Flavius Josephus,[3] was a first-century Jewish historian and apologist of priestly and royal ancestry who survived and recorded the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70.[4] His works give an important insight into first-century Judaism. Josephus was an important apologist in the Roman world for the Jewish people and culture, particularly at a time of conflict and tension. He always remained, in his own eyes, a loyal and law-observant Jew. He went out of his way both to commend Judaism to educated Gentiles, and to insist on its compatibility with cultured Graeco-Roman thought. He constantly contended for the antiquity of Jewish culture, presenting its people as civilised, devout and philosophical. Eusebius reports that a statue of Josephus was erected in Rome.[5] Josephus's two most important works are The Jewish War (c. 75) and Antiquities of the Jews (c. 94).[6] The Jewish War recounts the Jewish revolt against Rome (66–70). Antiquities of the Jews recounts the history of the world from a Jewish perspective. These works provide valuable insight into first century Judaism and the background of early Christianity.[6] – wikipedia.org


Josephus Flavius…He has a problem with numbers of people to assume how many people were in an area or how many people were killed. But when he describes an area he is perfect. In Massada, exactly as he wrote down, exactly we find the place. In Gamla, in the Golan, the same thing, as he describes so we find it. – Tuvia Sugiv, 1995, The Coming Temple, Presentation 2, Koinonia House, 46 minutes and 47 seconds, http://store.khouse.org/...


Every one of you knows that in order to learn the Temple Mount, it’s location, it’s courts, and everything you have got two basic sources, which can help you with that. The basic sources are first of all, Josephus Flavius, which is extremely important. And to Josephus Flavius, I will add, not as an independent source, I will add the Gospels and Acts because there are so many small details, which are so important to the Temple Mount like, and you will see how essential it is, Solomon’s portico, the court of the Gentiles, the pinnacle, and so many other things, which are mentioned only in the Gospels or in Acts, of the Beautiful Gate, for example, which is also important. All those show up only in the Gospels, but when you take the Gospels you’ll see that all the descriptions of the Gospels go very well along with Josephus Flavius. It is identical. I will say, in this respect, the Gospels, of course, add more detail. Now, on the other hand, the other one, which we have is, of course, the Mishnah. – Dan Bahat, The Traditional Location of the Temples, 8 minutes and 48 seconds, http://www.templemount.org/lectures.html


Professor Mazar who expressed to me personally that his own archaeological investigations proved that Josephus more often than not was correct in his eyewitness accounts. 149, Footnote 149: Before his death three years ago Professor Mazar was the Dean of Israeli archaeologists and past Rector and President of Hebrew University, as well as a professional historian. I worked personally with Professor Mazar at his major excavation at the western and southern wall of the Hara mesh-Sharif in Jerusalem from 1969 to 1974. Under Professor Mazar I directed the activities of 450 college students over that period of five years at that “dig.” – Ernest L. Martin, The Temples that Jerusalem Forgot, p. 112


The second major source of information about the Temple is the Mishnah. The Mishnah is a collection of Jewish oral teachings that was written down in approximately 200 AD. The Mishnah is the first section of the Talmud and it presents discussions of the rabbis from the period after the Temple was destroyed in 70 AD.


Talmud – The Talmud has two components: the Mishnah (c. 200 CE), the first written compendium of Judaism's Oral Law; and the Gemara (c. 500 CE), a discussion of the Mishnah and related Tannaitic writings that often ventures onto other subjects and expounds broadly on the Tanakh. – wikipedia.org


MishnahThe Mishnah or Mishna is the first major written redaction of the Jewish oral traditions called the "Oral Torah" and the first major work of Rabbinic Judaism.[2] It was redacted c. 200 CE by Judah haNasiTalmud, the persecution of the Jews and the passage of time raised the possibility that the details of the oral traditions dating from Pharisaic times (536 BCE–70 CE) would be forgotten. It is thus named for being both the one written authority (codex) secondary (only) to the Tanakh as a basis for the passing of judgment, a source and a tool for creating laws, and the first of many books to complement the Bible in a certain aspect….The Mishnah reflects debates between 70-200 CE by the group of rabbinic sages known as the Tannaim.[5] - wikipedia.org


When you want to study the later Temple Mount you have got three main sources. Which we’ll divide into two and make two. One of them is Josephus Flavius without whom we could never, never know as much as we know about the Temple Mount as we know today. To Josephus Flavius, and let us form of Josephus Flavius an entity along with the New Testament because in the Gospels and in Acts when you read about the deeds of Christ himself, his disciples, or his family, the description of the Temple Mount is identical to the description which we have in Josephus Flavius. And from this point of view we must remember always that they are almost of the same synonym in the way they describe things the term they use. And one term only shows up in the gospels and nowhere else. And this is to me so important, the court of the Gentiles. This is really the essence of understanding the whole story, is what is the court of the Gentiles. So this is one source. And the second thing is the mishnah. And I don’t have to tell you so much, what is the mishnah….The mishnah is actually a collection of tractates which are commentaries and exegites on the biblical law. Thus, it serves as a kind of the basis to the legal, Jewish religious system. The one which is called halachot in Hebrew. This is the Jewish base religious orthodox legal base of life to this very day. And again after saying that I would like to mention that the mishnah was edited, brought up to date, and published in the year 200 AD, which was 130 years after Herod’s temple was already destroyed, after the Temple was just a vision. And this was really the end of it. So these are the two things: Gospels, Acts, and Josephus Flavius, and the Mishnah. We we have got to try and do is to juxtapose them and to try and to see how it does work. – Dr. Dan Bahat, 1995, The Coming Temple, Presentation 2, 26:50-31:36 minutes, Koinonia House, http://store.khouse.org/...


There are several points of interest regarding these major historical sources. The first is that all three sources (Josephus, the Mishnah, and the New Testament) are of Jewish origin. However, only two of them (Josephus and the New Testament) were written during the period when the Temple was still in existence by persons who were eyewitnesses of the Temple. Unlike Josephus and the New Testament, the Mishnah wasn’t recorded by first hand sources. Instead, it was written down 130 years after the Temple’s destruction. As such, historical and archeological practice would warrant that Josephus’ writings be given more weight since they constitute an eyewitness account of the Temple (and it’s destruction) during the period when the Temple itself still stood. The Mishnah is later dating and while it is very valuable in this discussion, religious esteem for the work should not result in its being given archeological or historical priority over earlier, more direct sources (like Josephus).


Having outlined the basic views of the Temple’s location, we will now proceed to the historical and archeological data in order to examine the claims of these views. As we examine each piece of evidence we will assess how that evidence relates to the two major theories that we have now identified (the Moriah Platform Views and the Gihon Spring View.)




The Geography of Jerusalem


In a historical inquiry of the nature we are involved in, we must recognize that the last time the Temple existed was nearly 2000 years ago. And the first time the Temple was built was nearly 3000 years ago. Therefore, in order to understand where the Temple would have stood in today’s Jerusalem we must first understand where Jerusalem was both 3000 and 2000 years ago in relation to today’s geography. Then we must identify where the Temple (and various other structures) were in relation to the geography of the Jerusalem that existed at those times. Once we accomplish both of these tasks then we will be able to identify where the Temple site was in terms of today’s city.


Twenty-first century Jerusalem is a vast city spread over 48 square miles.


Jerusalem – Jerusalem is the capital[iii] of Israel and its largest city[2] in both population and area,[3] with a population of 747,600 residents over an area of 125.1 square kilometres (48.3 sq mi) if disputedEast Jerusalem is included. – wikipedia.org


The area surrounding what is known today as the “Old City” is shown in this image generously provided by BiblePlaces.com. (See image Jerusalem Photo.) In the photo, north is towards the upper left-hand corner, south is toward the lower right-hand corner, west is toward the left and east is toward the right.


The next image, is the same photograph, but includes overlays showing the major areas of Jerusalem today. (See Jerusalem Today.) The tan colored box highlights the area of the Moriah Platform (Haram ash-Sharif, the “Temple Mount.”) Within this tan area are the famous Islamic shrines of the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque.


The blue area to the left of the Moriah Platform shows the location of the “Wailing Wall” and Kotel area. Likewise, the blue area below the Moriah Platform designates the archeological site that is referred to as “the City of David.” The white area on the lower, right-hand side of the page denotes the largely Arabic neighborhood of Silwan (or Kfar Shiloah). Opposite this, the white highlighted section in the upper left-hand portion of the page shows the area contained within the walls of what is today known as the “Old City.”


This area, today called the “Old City,” does not necessarily denote the oldest or most ancient part of Jerusalem. Instead this walled-in area was actually only sectioned off in the sixteenth century AD by Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent.


Western Wall - Ottoman period 1517–1917 – In 1517 the Turkish Ottoman Empire under Selim I conquered Jerusalem from the Mamluks who had held it since 1250. The Ottomans had a benevolent attitude towards the Jews, having welcomed thousands of Jewish refugees who had recently been expelled from Spain by Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella of Castile in 1492. SultanSuleiman the Magnificent was so taken with Jerusalem and its plight that he ordered a magnificent fortress-wall built around the entire city, today's Old City wall. – wikipedia.org


The City of David – The City of David, also known as the Ophel (perhaps meaning "fortified hill") is the name of the narrow promontory beyond the southern edge of Jerusalem's Temple Mount and Old City, with the Tyropoeon Valley (valley of the cheesemakers) on its west, the Hinnom valley to the south, and the Kidron Valley on the east. The previously deep valley (the Tyropoeon) separating the Ophel from what is now referred to as the Old City of Jerusalem currently lies hidden beneath the debris of centuries. Despite the name, the Old City of Jerusalem dates from a much later time than the settlement in the City of David, which is generally considered to have been the original Jerusalem. – wikipedia.org


The main geographic features of the ancient city of Jerusalem are three major mountain ridges running north to south and three major valleys. On the eastern side of the city is the ridge known as the Mount of Olives. Just to its west is the Kidron Valley. West of the Kidron is the central ridge of Jerusalem, commonly referred to as Mount Moriah or the Moriah ridge. To the west of the Moriah ridge is the area of the Tyropoeon Valley which has been filled in over centuries of destruction and rebuilding. West of the Tyropoeon Valley is the western ridge. To the south running from the west towards the Kidron Valley is the Valley of Hinnom.


Psalm 125:2 As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the LORD is round about his people from henceforth even for ever.


JerusalemJerusalem is situated on the southern spur of a plateau in the Judean Mountains, which include the Mount of Olives (East) and Mount Scopus (North East). The elevation of the Old City is approximately 760 m (2,500 ft).[98] The whole of Jerusalem is surrounded by valleys and dry riverbeds (wadis). The Kidron, Hinnom, and Tyropoeon Valleys intersect in an area just south of the Old City of Jerusalem.[99] The Kidron Valley runs to the east of the Old City and separates the Mount of Olives from the city proper. Along the southern side of old Jerusalem is the Valley of Hinnom, a steep ravine associated in biblical eschatology with the concept of Gehenna or Hell.[100] The Tyropoeon valley commenced in the northwest near the Damascus Gate, ran south-southeasterly through the center of the Old City down to the Pool of Siloam, and divided the lower part into two hills, the Temple Mount to the east, and the rest of the city to the west (the lower and the upper cities described by Josephus). Today, this valley is hidden by debris that has accumulated over the centuries.[99] – wikipedia.org


In his texts, which we will examine, Josephus refers to the Tyropoeon Valley by the name the Valley of the Cheesemakers (Cheesemongers).


Tyropoeon ValleyTyropoeon Valley (i.e., "Valley of the Cheesemakers") is the name given by Josephus the historian (Wars 5.140) to the valley - wikipedia.org


These basic geographic and topographic areas are identified in the same photo we looked at earlier, but with overlays showing the ridges and valleys. (See image Jerusalem Hills Valleys.) In the image, the valleys are labeled and highlighted in yellow. The mountain ridges are labeled and highlighted in blue. These areas are for general identification and familiarization with the geography of the city. We have taken the effort to ensure consistency with other maps of the city, but they are not meant to be perfect historical, geographical, or topographical representations.




The Temple was Located on the Moriah Ridge


The bible informs us that that Solomon built the Temple on Mount Moriah.


2 Chronicles 3:1 Then Solomon began to build the house of the LORD at Jerusalem in mount Moriah, where the LORD appeared unto David his father, in the place that David had prepared in the threshingfloor of Ornan the Jebusite.


Josephus believed that the Temple was, in fact, built upon the same mountain where Abraham went to sacrifice Isaac.


1. … Accordingly he commanded him to carry him to the mountain Moriah, and to build an altar, and offer him for a burnt-offering upon it for that this would best manifest his religious disposition towards him, if he preferred what was pleasing to God, before the preservation of his own son.…2. Now Abraham thought that it was not right to disobey God in any thing, but that he was obliged to serve him in every circumstance of life, since all creatures that live enjoy their life by his providence, and the kindness he bestows on them. Accordingly he concealed this command of God, and his own intentions about the slaughter of his son, from his wife, as also from every one of his servants, otherwise he should have been hindered from his obedience to God; and he took Isaac, together with two of his servants, and laying what things were necessary for a sacrifice upon an ass, he went away to the mountain. Now the two servants went along with him two days; but on the third day, as soon as he saw the mountain, he left those servants that were with him till then in the plain, and, having his son alone with him, he came to the mountain. It was that mountain upon which king David afterwards built the temple. (28) – Josephus, Antiquities, Book 1, Chapter 13


However, Genesis 22’s account of Abraham and the sacrifice of Isaac, informs us that the area of Jerusalem was actually within an area known as the land of Moriah. According to Genesis 22, the land of Moriah had several mountains.


Genesis 22:2 And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.


So, God told Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac on one of these mountains in the land of Moriah. And Solomon later built the Temple on a mountain of Moriah. But as we have seen ancient Jerusalem had several mountain ridges. Which of the three main mountain ridges of the land of Moriah was the Temple built on? Was it the western ridge, the central ridge, or the Mount of Olives?


Josephus explains which of the mountain ridges the Temple was built on. According to his description, the Temple was located on a peak east of the Tyropoeon Valley. This was across from the western ridge where the Upper City was located during the later Old Testament period. This means that the Temple was built somewhere on the Moriah ridge.


1. THE city of Jerusalem was fortified with three walls, on such parts as were not encompassed with unpassable valleys; for in such places it had but one wall. The city was built upon two hills, which are opposite to one another, and have a valley to divide them asunder; at which valley the corresponding rows of houses on both hills end. Of these hills, that which contains the upper city is much higher,….But the other hill, which was called "Acra," and sustains the lower city, is of the shape of a moon when she is horned; over against this there was a third hill, but naturally lower than Acra, and parted formerly from the other by a broad valley. However, in those times when the Asamoneans reigned, they filled up that valley with earth, and had a mind to join the city to the temple. They then took off part of the height of Acra, and reduced it to be of less elevation than it was before, that the temple might be superior to it. Now the Valley of the Cheesemongers, as it was called, and was that which we told you before distinguished the hill of the upper city from that of the lower, extended as far as Siloam; for that is the name of a fountain which hath sweet water in it, and this in great plenty also. But on the outsides, these hills are surrounded by deep valleys, and by reason of the precipices to them belonging on both sides they are every where unpassable. – Josephus, Wars of the Jews, Book 5, Chapter 4 – THE DESCRIPTION OF JERUSALEM., Paragraph 1


However, Mount Moriah is actually a ridge containing several peaks.


The topographic map shows that Mount Moriah is not a single peak, but an elongated ridge which commences to rise at its Southern end at the junction of the Kidron and Hinnom Valleys, at the original City of David, (elevation approximately 600 meters). The ridge then climbs in elevation to a maximum of 777 meters just Northeast of the present Damascus Gate of the Old City. The Temple Mount, prominent in most photos of Jerusalem occupies an area of about 45 acres. However the elevation of the bedrock outcropping on the Temple Mount within the Dome of the Rock Moslem shrine is only 741 meters. – http://www.templemount.org/moriah2.html


So, we can see that the Temple was located on the central ridge of Jerusalem which is called the Moriah ridge or Mount Moriah. As we continue we will seek to determine exactly where on the Moriah ridge the Temple was located.




David, the Threshing Floor, and the Site of the Temple


The site of the Temple was first identified by King David as a threshing floor owned by Ornan the Jebusite (2 Samuel 24:18-25, 1 Chronicles 21:15-28, 2 Chronicles 3:1).


1 Chronicles 21:15 And God sent an angel unto Jerusalem to destroy it: and as he was destroying, the LORD beheld, and he repented him of the evil, and said to the angel that destroyed, It is enough, stay now thine hand. And the angel of the LORD stood by the threshingfloor of Ornan the Jebusite. 16 And David lifted up his eyes, and saw the angel of the LORD stand between the earth and the heaven, having a drawn sword in his hand stretched out over Jerusalem. Then David and the elders of Israel, who were clothed in sackcloth, fell upon their faces.


2 Chronicles 3:1 Then Solomon began to build the house of the LORD at Jerusalem in mount Moriah, where the LORD appeared unto David his father, in the place that David had prepared in the threshingfloor of Ornan the Jebusite. 2 And he began to build in the second day of the second month, in the fourth year of his reign.


1. … Accordingly he commanded him to carry him to the mountain Moriah, and to build an altar, and offer him for a burnt-offering upon it for that this would best manifest his religious disposition towards him, if he preferred what was pleasing to God, before the preservation of his own son.…2. Now Abraham thought that it was not right to disobey God in any thing, but that he was obliged to serve him in every circumstance of life, since all creatures that live enjoy their life by his providence, and the kindness he bestows on them. Accordingly he concealed this command of God, and his own intentions about the slaughter of his son, from his wife, as also from every one of his servants, otherwise he should have been hindered from his obedience to God; and he took Isaac, together with two of his servants, and laying what things were necessary for a sacrifice upon an ass, he went away to the mountain. Now the two servants went along with him two days; but on the third day, as soon as he saw the mountain, he left those servants that were with him till then in the plain, and, having his son alone with him, he came to the mountain. It was that mountain upon which king David afterwards built the temple. (28) – Josephus, Antiquities, Book 1, Chapter 13


When King Solomon built the Temple, his temple mount, now I speak already about, let’s say about artificial features. The thing he did was to build a temple on top of Mount Moriah, and he surrounded, or rather ground, that mount with walls because it was outside the city as you all know. It was the threshing floor or Araunah the Jebusite. That’s where King David built the altar. And this is the place where later King Solomon built the Temple. – Dr. Dan Bahat, 1995, The Coming Temple, Presentation 2, 25:00-26:20 minutes,  Koinonia House, http://store.khouse.org/...


A threshing floor requires even ground at an elevated spot so that chaff can be effectively separated from the heads of the grain when tossed into the wind. Even ground was necessary so that the separated grain could be collected without having to tediously fish it out of cracks or rocky terrain where it had fallen.


A threshing floor is a specially flattened surface made either of rock or beaten earth where a farmer would thresh the grain harvest. The threshing floor was either owned by the entire village or by a single family. It was usually located outside the village in a place exposed to the wind. – wikipedia.org


Threshing is the process of loosening the edible part of cereal grain from the scaly, inedible chaff that surrounds it. It is the step in grain preparation before winnowing, which separates the loosened chaff from the grain. Threshing does not remove the bran from the grain. Threshing may be done by beating the grain using a flail on a threshing floor. However, in developed areas it is now mostly done by machine, usually by a combine harvester, which threshes as well as harvesting the plant and cleaning the grain). Another traditional method of threshing is to make donkeys or oxen walk in circles on the grain on a hard surface. A modern version of this in some areas is to spread the grain on the surface of a country road so the grain may be threshed by the wheels of passing vehicles. – wikipedia.org


Josephus records that the Temple site was, in fact, a level area at the top of a strong hill. He states that this plain at the top of the hill was large enough to place the Temple building and altar on.


1. NOW this temple, as I have already said, was built upon a strong hill. At first the plain at the top was hardly sufficient for the holy house and the altar – Josephus, Wars of the Jews, Book 5, Chapter 5, Paragraph 1


The hill was a rocky ascent, that declined by degrees towards the east parts of the city, till it came to an elevated level. This hill it was which Solomon, who was the first of our kings, by Divine revelation, encompassed with a wall; it was of excellent workmanship upwards, and round the top of it. – Josephus, Antiquities, Book 15, Chapter 10


Solomon’s Temple building was 60 cubits long by 20 cubits wide (90 feet by 30 feet). Outside the Temple building itself was a courtyard where the brazen altar of sacrifice was placed. This altar was 20 cubits (30 feet) square in size.


2 Chronicles 3:3 Now these are the things wherein Solomon was instructed for the building of the house of God. The length by cubits after the first measure was threescore cubits, and the breadth twenty cubits.

1 Kings 6:2 And the house which king Solomon built for the LORD, the length thereof was threescore cubits, and the breadth thereof twenty cubits, and the height thereof thirty cubits. 20 And the oracle in the forepart was twenty cubits in length, and twenty cubits in breadth, and twenty cubits in the height thereof: and he overlaid it with pure gold; and so covered the altar which was of cedar.


The total length necessary to accommodate Solomon’s Temple and the court of the priests where the bronze altar was placed would have been over 100 cubits long. The rock beneath the Dome of the Rock is a much smaller area measuring only 60 by 40 feet (18.2 by 12.2 meters). There is a ledge on the southern side of the rock with a caved area inside. Likewise, around the rock the ground slopes away to lower elevations.


Herod's Temple - In the centre of the dome there is a bare, projecting rock, the highest part of Moriah (q.v.), measuring 60 feet by 40 standing 6 feet above the floor of the mosque, called the sahkra, i.e., "rock." - Easton's Bible Dictionary


Foundation Stone – The Foundation Stone (Hebrew: translit. Even haShetiya) or Rock (Arabic: translit. Sakhrah, Hebrew: translit.: Sela) is the name of the rock at the heart of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem….The rock is located…an artificial platform built by Herod the Great on top of vaults over a hill, generally believed to be Mount Moriah. The Rock constitutes the peak of this now hidden hill, which is also the highest in early biblical Jerusalem, looming over the City of David, and hence the Rock is one of the highest points of the Old City. – wikipedia.org


Foundation Stone – Dimensions Although the rock is part of the surrounding bedrock, the southern side forms a ledge, with a gap between it and the surrounding ground; - wikipedia.org


Likewise, the rock beneath the Dome of the Rock has a rugged and uneven surface. A great picture of the rock itself is available online at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/.... Since the picture is public domain we have also include the image for reference with this article. (See The Rock Under the Dome image.) As the photograph clearly shows, the condition of the rock surface today would not be suitable for threshing grain.


These facts show that the rock beneath the Dome of the Rock does not fit the biblical or historical descriptions of the threshing floor where Solomon built the Temple. The rock under the Dome of the Rock is not large enough. The ground around it is not level. And the surface of the rock is not even, but quite rugged and unsuitable for a threshing floor.


Additionally, archeologist Leen Ritmeyer has pointed out man-made carvings on the surface of the rock. He believes these carvings were part of the construction of the Holy of Holies.


The rock has several human-made cuts in its surface; these are generally attributed to the Crusaders, whose frequent damage to the rock was so severe that the Christian kings of Jerusalem finally put a marble slab over the rock to protect it (the marble slab was later removed by Saladin). More recently, there has been speculation that several man-made features of the rock's surface may substantially predate the Crusaders. Archaeologist Leen Ritmeyer noticed that there are sections of the rock cut completely flat, which north-to-south have a width of 6 cubits, precisely the width that the Mishnah credits to the wall of the Holy of Holies, and hence Ritmeyer proposed that these flat sections constitute foundation trenches on top of which the walls of the original temple were laid….The bedrock near the Rock shows several signs of having been quarried, and these clean edges and square cuts, could simply have been a result of such activity. – wikipedia.org


However, biblical texts indicate that no iron tools were used at the Temple site.


1 Kings 6:7 And the house, when it was in building, was built of stone made ready before it was brought thither: so that there was neither hammer nor axe nor any tool of iron heard in the house, while it was in building.


And Asher Kaufman points to Mishnaic teaching that iron tools could not be used on the altar.


I should like to end by referring to a kind of a philosophical statement in Middot, from chapter 3. I think it is particularly important these days when the United States and New York and here unfortunately, people’s lives are being lost daily. And it says there, about no iron being contacted with the altar. The altar had to be built with unhune stones. – Dr. Asher S. Kaufman, The Northern Location of the Temples, 46 minutes and 18 seconds, http://www.templemount.org/lectures.html


If the rock under the Dome of the Rock does have carvings from biblical times these prohibitions may, in fact, indicate that the Dome of the Rock it is not the site of the Temple building or the altar. These reasons constitute evidence that the rock beneath the Dome of the Rock is not the site of the Temple or the altar. Its area is too small and its surface is too rugged to be the threshing floor where Solomon built the Temple.


Related Images

Aerial Photo Overlays

Overhead Schematics


Temple Model Photos

Photos from the
Mount of Olives

The Rock Under
the Dome Photo