Locating Solomon's Temple

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Disputing the Dome of the Rock Theory

This theory is developed by Dan Bahat and Leen Ritmeyer.  It has some major problems that are under dispute by many.

1. The size of Herod's Temple area.

2. The source for water to the Temple according to the Mishna.

3. The hole cut into the Temple court to reach the pool below for filling the laver.

4. The moat that was located between  Fort Antonia and Bezetha hill (New City).

5. Location of Fort Antonia

6. The discovery of the Akra, and the location of Solomon's royal complex.

There are more problems, but these are the most glaring that I would like to address.

1.  There is a discrepancy as to the size of Herod's Temple area between what Josephus reports and what the Mishna tells us.  Josephus describes Herod's Temple compound as being square, a stadia by a stadia or furlong by a furlong  depending on the translation.  This is according to a Greek stadia/furlong which is approximately 600 feet.  The Mishna, when speaking of Herod's Temple compound, says it is an ama by an ama (500 X 500 cubits).   Dr Ritmeyer and Dan Bahat claim that the Mishna must have been speaking about Solomon's Temple compound.  Not only do they apply it to Solomon's Temple compound, but they also declare it to be according to a Royal cubit.  Making this area approximately 858 x 858 square.  More than 250 feet larger than what Josephus claims as the size of Herod's Temple, and Solomon's Temple compound was a lot smaller than Herod's,  in fact Herod doubled the size of Solomon's Temple!   Josephus also reported that Solomon's east wall was 400 cubits, not 500 cubits.   Josephus is using a Greek cubit of 18 inches to discribe the east wall of the Temple.  400c x 18"=7200 divided by 12"= 600 feet, which equals one stadia. So Josephus is confiming the size of Herod's Temple in two different ways. 

  So why does the Talmud tell us that Herod's Temple was a 500 x 500 cubits?   The Mishna was written a hundred to two hundred years after the Temple was destroyed.  It is what we would call word of mouth passed down from one generation to the next.  But just as it is today there were different idea's about Herod's Temple at the time.   Some Rabbis may have hoped it was the fulfillment of Ezekiel's Temple, hoping this was the Temple that the long awaited Messiah would enter into, and rule from.  I believe they may have  tried to force a match saying Herod's Temple was an ama x ama, (500 x 500 cubits) and this info was passed down. With this information I  coinsider how, and why, the Talmud would give a size for Herod's Temple that  totally disagrees with the size given by Josephus.  Ezekiel was believed to be written during the time the Jews were captive in Babylon, between 593 and 565 B.C. The Jews exiled there would have learned and used a Babylonin cubit during those 70 years.   I had read that the Babylonian's had a special cubit just for "building" of *14.4" cubit. I did the math and 14.4 x 500=7200 divided by 12"=600 feet, which is the same as a Greek stadia/furlong.  In this way one could describe the 600 x 600 feet Temple compound that stood before them as 500 x 500 cubits. They would have been describing it by using this old Babylonian cubit.  Definately misleading  for the purpose of  pushing their idea that it was somehow the fulfillment of Ezekiel's Temple. Too big of a coincidence for me to have both ways of measuring end up as exactly the same size. So for me this solves the discrepancy between  the two sources.  

Josephus says the Temple complex was "six furlongs,  including fort Antonia"

The Wars of the Jews, Book 5, Ch 5

2.  ...........The cloisters [of the outmost court] were in breadth thirty cubits, while the entire compass of it was by measure six furlongs, including the tower of Antonia; those entire courts that were exposed to the air were laid with stones of all sorts.

Josephus makes it very clear that  Herod's Temple compound was a stadia/furlong by stadia/ furlong.  In the above quote Josephus is including the open courts of both the Temple and Fort Antonia.  It is one furlong/stadia for the length of the Temple, which he makes very clear before this,  and one furlong/stadia for the length of Fort Antonia.  If you were to walk around the outside of both the Temple and the Fort it would be 6 furlong/stadia around. 

This makes the total, with both the Temple and the Fort Antonia, to be 1200 feet from north to south and 600 feet from east to west, according to Josephus.   The size and shape of the huge Temple Mount as it is called today measures about 1560 feet from north to south and about 930 feet from west to east, with believed Fort Antonia located north of it and not included as part of the huge Temple Mount.   That tell us that  the true Temple Mount only took up a small portion of the land  that they refer to as the Temple Mount today. 

*Reference: Ancient Babylonian cubit
Ars Quatuor Coronatorum  Vol 21, page xxix
"Here also it will be well to remember that comparing what is called the Rule of Gudea from a table of lengths inscribed on a slab found in Babylonia in 1881 and now in the Louvre with the Senkereh mathematical tablet found at Larsa in 1850 by Mr WK Loftus we obtain a fundamental palm breadth of 3.6 inches from which are derived the three Babylonian cubits of 10.8 14.4 and 18 inches respectively the smallest being used for gold work the middle for building and the largest for the plotting of land spaces."

2. Water is a problem for the Dome of the Rock theory.  There are many cisterns, but no fresh water supply.   In fact an aqueduct is needed.

The Jerusalem Talmud (Yoma' 3 fol 41) says that a conduit ran from Atan (Ain Atan, Ein Etan, Spring Etam) to the Temple.  Also, Tosefta Pesachim, Ch. 3, Par. 12. says  "How is the Azara (Priest’s court) cleaned? Seal the area and let the water from the aqueduct enter till it becomes clean like milk." 

I think that pretty much settles it.  There is a conduit/aqueduct that was laid from Etam Spring to the Temple Mount that enters the Mount at Wilson's arch, but from there it was cut towards the south, away from the Dome of the Rock,  meaning the Temple was located at the southern end of the Temple Mount. 

Lowqueduct Temple Mount

3.  From the lower aqueduct the water flowed into a man-made pool below the Temple court. A hole cut into the Court is where the copper  laver was lowered into each day to fill the laver with fresh water.  The aqueduct also filled the many mikvas for bathing. The water from the aquduct was used for cleansing the Priest court each night of the blood. All of this required a water system made up of water channels coming off the Aqueduct. There is no evidence of any water system in the Dome of the Rock area.   Because the aquduct was always flowing with fresh water from an underground spring then the Temple was never without water.  During a  drought  there would be no rain water filling the cisterns, leaving a Temple on the  Dome of the Rock platform without any water at all. 

However there is a water channel system south of the aqueduct. 

Temple Mount Water Channels

4.  Josephus tells us about a man made moat that separated  Fort Antonia from the hill to its north called New City (Bezetha) cutting the natural land bridge that connected the two hills together in half.  To the east of this moat was a deep ravine. When the moat was full of water then no army could attack Fort Antonia from the north. This moat was excavated by Charles Warren and is shown on his map.  The moat is located just north of the Dome of the Rock platform, making the Dome of the Rock area the location of Fort Antonia, not the Temple.  

War of the Jews Book 5 Chapter 4

2.   .................... It was Agrippa who encompassed the parts added to the old city with this wall, which had been all naked before; for as the city grew more populous, it gradually crept beyond its old limits, and those parts of it that stood northward of the temple, and joined that hill to the city, made it considerably larger, and occasioned that hill, which is in number the fourth, and is called "Bezetha," to be inhabited also.

It lies over against (across from) the tower Antonia, but is divided from it by a deep valley, which was dug on purpose, and that in order to hinder the foundations of the tower of Antonia from joining to this hill, and thereby affording an opportunity for getting to it with ease, and hindering the security that arose from its superior elevation; for which reason also that depth of the ditch (moat) made the elevation of the towers more remarkable. This new-built part of the city was called "Bezetha," in our language, which, if interpreted in the Grecian language, may be called "the New City."

Fort Antonia-Moat

The Dome of the Rock theory places Fort Antonia north of the excavated Moat,  not south of it as Josephus claims.  

5.   Josephus also points out that Fort Antonia was on the highest hill.  The Dome of the rock platform is on the highest hill of the eastern ridge. 

The Wars of the Jews, Book 5 chp 5,8  "for the temple was a fortress that guarded the city, as was the tower of Antonia a guard to the temple; and in that tower were the guards of those three. ........that hill on which the tower of Antonia stood was the highest of these three.

6.  The recent discovery of the Akra (acra)  in Givati  parking lot just south of the Temple Mount has to be denied by Leen Ritmeyer because it is too far south of the Dome of the Rock and in too low of a position to see into the Temple during the time of the Hasmoneans (pre-Herod Temple).  Also Eilat Mazar's Amazing Discovery of the Solomonic Wall and the Royal Complex of Solomon's Palace has to be denied because it is also too far south of where Leen Ritmeyer places Solomon's Temple compound. 

These problems do not exist  for a lower,  more southern, Temple location  on the Temple Mount.. Please read, or watch the videos, below.

"Locating Solomon's' Temple"  eBook
by Norma Robertson

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Locating Solomon's Temple - Video

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