Locating Solomon's Temple

THE SOUTHEAST CORNER

Chapter Four

Moving on to the southeast corner known as the section containing Solomon's Stables.
What an imposing site the southeast corner is. Trying to visualize the mount without this corner in the time of Herod is difficult, but that may have been the case. The upper portion of the wall, all the way around the mount, was built by the Muslims after 638 CE. Below that, is a portion that was constructed by the Romans and Bezintines. 

In the lowest portion of the wall on the eastern side, there is a straight joint in the wall where the Hasmonean wall, second century BC, meets up with what is believed to be an Herodian wall built in the first century CE. The Hasmonean wall ending at this vertical line in the east wall tells us that their wall took a 90 degree turn westward at this point in the original wall.

So the question is, did Herod’s descendants build the wall from the Hasmonean wall all the way around to Triple Gate on the south wall, or was it built at a later time?

Inside the lower section of this wall it is made up of terraced vaults.

The vaults are mistakenly called “Solomon's Stables” dubbed so by the Crusaders who used the upper vaults to stable their horses. Today that upper vault has been made into a subterranean Muslim Mosque.

In November 1868, Captain Charles Warren of the British Royal Engineers dug a vertical shaft around 90 feet down to the bedrock at the SE Angle of the Temple Mount Platform. This sketch shows what they found.

Herod stones are unique in that they have a "marginal dressing," meaning that each had a frame or margin chiseled around its edge. In a Herod/Herodian built wall we would see stones that have matching equal margins, which the southeast corner does not have.

This wall is made up of recycled Herod/Herodian stones taken from somewhere else and used to build this wall. Some of the stones even have mason marks on them. The masons cut and marked the stones at the quarry so that the builders could place them properly to create the specified building, much like a prefab house today.
 

This is a quote from the PALESTINE EXPLORATION FUND. Patron— THE QUEEN. Quarterly Statement. JANUARY 1869— SEPTEMBER 1870.

“34 LETTER OF MR. EMANUEL DEUTSCH.
I must now speak somewhat fully on a subject which has engaged public attention for some time, and has already given rise to many conjectures — namely, the " Writings," either painted on, or cut into, the stones, discovered lately on the bottom rows of the wall at the south-east corner of the Haram, at a depth of about 90 ft, there where the foundations lie on the live rock itself.”  -end quote
(Note: He believed them to be based on Phoenician letters)

This section of the east wall was not built by Herodian builders.

Compare the sketch to the photo taken of the Southwestern corner, a wall proven to have been constructed by Herodian builders. See how the marginal dressing in the photo is the same on every stone, unlike the mismatched stones in the sketch of the southeast corner.

And of course the southeast corner of Solomon's stable didn't exist when Nehemiah was rebuilding the city wall. At that time one would have been able to see the east wall of triple gate (Solomon's Porch) perched on the very edge of a steep hill. Also a bridge crossing the Kidron Valley (Bridge of the Red Heifer) would have started at Solomon's porch/portico, which contained the east gate, and continued across to the Mount of Olives.

Who Built the Southeast Corner and Why?

This section of the east wall was most likely built by the Roman Emperor, Hadrian, around 130-35 AD. He needed an enlarged, flat, mount to build the Temple of Jupiter complex on.

Here is an example of the Temple of Jupiter complex in Lebanon, just to get an idea of its size and shape.


Temple of Jupiter-Lebanon

Temple Mount Overlaid with Temple of Jupiter

Very interesting how well his design fits the same shape and placement of both the Dome of the Rock and also the Al Aqsa.

To accommodate such a huge Temple, similar to this one, Hadrian's builders would have needed to build up and increase the size of the mount at the southeast end.   If this theory is correct then the best way to do this would be for Hadrian to build his south wall on the pre-existing platform at the top of the huge steps of the Ophel.  The ruins of a partial wall, would have already existed and he need only rebuild it and extend it to the east.

That ruined partial wall would have once been the inner wall surrounding Herod's Temple and priest court. Hadrian would need only to build up, and extend that (yellow) wall to the Triple Gate building and then create a new Southeast corner (green wall).

As you can see if he tried to take his  enclosure any further to the south he would have to build even deeper into the Kidron Valley. To rebuild the outer wall of the former Temple of the Jews (white writing on the photo) would not work for that reason. This would mean that the Roman's are responsible for the size and shape of the Mount we see today. To build up the southeast corner to accommodate the Temple of Jupiter complex would require tearing down the bridge from the straight joint upward to the Portico of Solomon and then building the terraced vaults.  It would require building a gate into this wall, which could then be reconnected with the bridge outside of the wall.  The  walled up arched openings can still be seen in the wall today near the straight joint.

A low wall believed to have been built possibly by Herod's grandson, extended all the way from triple gate down to meet up with the Nehemiah wall.  The Red Heifer Bridge would have gone in between that wall and the Hasmonean wall. 

This section of the east wall was not built by Herodian builders. And of course the southeast corner of Solomon's stable didn't exist when Nehemiah was rebuilding the city wall. At that time one would have been able to see the east wall of triple gate (Solomon's Porch) perched on the very edge of the steep hill. 

If my theory is correct for the location of the Temple then this bridge would have traversed the Kidron Valley and from there one could look back and straight through the east gate to the Holy of Holies. 

The Jewish cemetery is located directly across from the southern end of the Temple Mount.  Jewish people of the time desired to be entombed directly across from the East Gate.  In a direct line from this arch in the wall are the tombs of, what is called the Tomb of Zechariah. This tomb was actually built in the first century for the High Priest. It would have been below the Bridge. The Jewish Cemetery continues outward from there and one must wonder why the early Jews would be buried across from the south end of the mount, and not across from the supposed Golden Gate in the east wall of today, or across from the Dome of the Rock itself.

There is so much more to be learned from the walls of the Temple Mount. It just requires the excavations to continue.

This is a digital illustration of what Herod’s Temple Mount might have looked like in 70 AD. Notice Triple gate (Solomon’s Portico) and the Red Heifer Bridge cross the steep valley to the Mt of Olives.
Of course the Temple house was completely destroyed in 70 AD, long before the ground level of the Temple Mount was raised to its new level.

 

This is a digital illustration of what Herod’s Temple Mount might have looked like in 70 AD.
 

Of course the Temple house along with all the new buildings of Herod’s Temple were completely destroyed (not one stone upon another) in 70 AD, long before the ground level of the Temple Mount was raised to its new level.

Notice;  Triple gate (Solomon’s Portico) and the Red Heifer Bridge across the steep valley to the Mt of Olives.

 

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