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|The Ancient Steps of the Ophel||Josephus: Temple|
-Map of City Wall
a Jewish historian, that lived during the destruction of the Temple wrote....."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 (14)
........that hill on which the tower of Antonia stood was the highest of these three.
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 (a moat), and that in order to hinder the foundations of the tower of Antonia from joining to this hill, (THE ANTIQUITIES OF THE JEWS Book 15, Chapter 11)
- The first hill -the City.
- The second hill -the Temple, from which the city was guarded.
- The third (highest hill) hill -the Tower of Antonia, which was the guard over the Temple.
Most people place Fort Antonia on the hill Bezetha. As we can see this is incorrect according to Josephus. It (Bezetha-New City) lies over against (across from) the tower Antonia, but is divided from it by a deep valley, which was dug on purpose (the moat)
- The fourth hill -Bezetha
That places the location of the Temple as being South of the Dome of the Rock area.
of David was on a hill with valleys surrounding it on three sides, but
on the north was the weak spot in it's defense. It was there
that the Temple was built and surrounded with very high walls, as a fortress.
Beyond that, but connected to it, a tower was erected on the highest rocky
hill. Later this tower was added to becoming a fort also called Fort
Antonia. To further fortify the Temple and City from a northern attack
a 200 foot moat was dug north of that, separating this hill from the hill
Bezetha. An army attacking the City of Jerusalem had to fill
in the moat, destroy the walls of Fort Antonia, before they could take
the Temple. Which Titus and his army actually did in
is the hill that lies between the highest hill and the old city of David
below, just as Josephus described.
The ancient steps, cut into the bedrock excavated in 1967
Quote; The massive stairs lead up to the platform. ["The large monumental stairway just to the south of the Double Gate was excavated.] This stairway of 30 steps is 215 feet wide, paved with smoothly trimmed stones, and its FOUNDATION STEPS ARE CUT INTO THE BEDROCK. From a wide plaza below on the south…the STAIRWAY ROSE 22 FEET [sic 22-1/2 feet] to the UPPER STREET [the rampart/platform] in front of the Double Gate" [W. Harold Mare, The Archeology of the Jerusalem Area, p. 154; see also Benjamin Mazar, The Mountain of the Lord].
King David purchased a threshing floor north of, and above, the City of David and on that foundation rock he built an altar to God. And before the altar his son built the House of God and in it he placed the Ark of the Covenant.
I believe those steps lead up to the threshing floor of David. The second hill Josephus spoke of, where the Temple once stood. If that is the case, and I believe I have proved that it is, then the Ophel Excavations are part of the old Temple Complex.
Below is a Close-up of the right lower corner of the Ophel Ruins with its gates and walls of ancient times. They tell a wondrous tale.
By laying the lower right corner of the above diagram over this photo, the ruins reveal they were part of the Temple compound.
Herod's southern gate was in the center of the 600 foot south wall of the temple compound
photo of Ophel ruins
Sir Charles Warren's Survey Map
with temple diagram overlays
From the ruins of the North gate to the ruins of a South gate and from the ruins of Robinson's arch to Triple gate they form a perfect square 600 X 600 feet! This is also not a coincidence
Most of the old Solomon temple walls (in green) were removed by Herod. According to historical accounts Herod's temple area was around 187x187 meters square (at 44 cm per cubit, 17.5 inches per cubit, approximately 600 feet).
New! "Locating Solomon's Temple"
now on Video!