Location of Solomon's Temple
New! "Locating Solomon's Temple" 
on Video!
four videos 10 to 15 minutes in length
(updated March 3, 2013)
"Locating Solomon's' Temple"
by Norma Robertson
 This Website is now in book form. 
Read it for free on-line
download free PDF 2.8mborePub2.6mb
New! eBook, Free download

Five Temple Theories

 How big was the temple compound and Fort Antonia altogether?

Josephus says the Temple Mount was "six furlongs around, including fort Antonia" A furlong was approximately 600 feet long.  (The Wars Of The Jews 5. 5. 2. )
According to Josephus the Temple compound by itself was a square 4 furlong around, that is approximately 600 X 600 square. Making both compounds  when combined to be 600 X 1200 feet. The combined temple compound and fort Antonia compounds were a complex forming a rectangle approximately 600 X 1200 feet.
In a plea of Josephus to the Jews he quoted an old Jewish prophecy that said "When the Temple becomes four-square once again then will the temple and city be destroyed." By the destruction of Fort Antonia the temple had once again become four-square and he begged them to make peace with the Roman's before it was to late. Of course they refused.

Where was the Moat Josephus spoke of?

 According to Josephus there was a man cut moat between Fort Antonia and the of Bezetha hill  (new city) separating the two hills. The moat was evacuated by Charles Warren in the late 1800's and can be seen on His map of the Temple Mount.
Where did the water to cleanse the Temple Court come from?
 Abaye, a Jewish sage of the 4th century, was quoted as saying;" What comes out is that the Ein Etam (the spring of Etam) is 23 cubits higher than the Azara (Temple Court).

Tosefta Psachim, Ch. 3, Par. 12, "How is the Azara cleaned? Seal the area and let the water from the aqueduct enter till it becomes clean like milk."
Parentheses mine

The main concern for people trying to decide where the Jewish Temple was once located should begin with the eastern ridge itself. What did it look like in the time of King David and Solomon?   We now look at it and see a huge fat surface but that wasn't always the case.  The place of the Dome of the Rock was the peak of a very high mountain, the highest point of the eastern ridge.  From there it slopped down towards the south reaching a lower level called the Ophel, and then down to the level of the old City of David. Josephus claimed that one could not see the Temple from New City (Bezetha hill) because Fort Antonia blocked the view of it. This would only be the case if the Temple were on a lower point on the eastern ridge. Josephus places Fort Antonia on the highest peak of the Mountain, saying the fort overlooked the Temple, and the Temple overlooked the city. This tells us that the eastern ridge had three distinct levels, the rocky peak, the middle level, with a very large flat rock, which was used as a threshing floor, and the lower level where the City of David was located. Also a threshing floor was never located on the rocky peak of the mountain.

So we have two theories that place the temple at the peak of the Mountain, one at the place of the Dome of the Spirit, the other at the Dome of the Rock (numbers 1. and 2. on the map)

Two theories show the Temple located on the middle level of the eastern ridge, Tuvia Sagiv's and Norma Robertson's (numbers 3. and 4. on the map)

Dr Martin's theory (number 5 on the map), with the Temple located at the lower level of the eastern ridge in the City of David, centers around the Gihon spring. 


North-Kaufman Theory.

..Dome of Rock
-Ritmeyer Theory

Muslim Fountain
-Sagiv Theory

Kaufman's Dome of the Spirits theory would actually have the northwest corner of the Temple compound in the moat.  In this theory the ruins of the moat (foss) on Warren's map is not acknowledged.  Fort Antonia is not a furlong by a furlong in this theory. He also doesn't confine the Temple to a square of one furlong by one furlong. There doesn't appear to be a fresh water source in the area, only cisterns.

Ritmeyer Dome of the Rock theory incorporates the whole Temple Mount as the size of the Herodian extended walls to the West, North and South, making it double the size of Josephus' description.  In this theory the actual ruins of the moat on Warren's map is also not acknowledged at all.  Fort Antonia is also not a furlong by a furlong in this theory, but claims it to have been where the Muslim School is located on Bezetha hill.

He shows the Temple compound (in yellow on the map) as being 500 x 500 cubits (according to the Mishna Middot 2.1 which says "The Temple on the Mount was 500 x 500 ama,"), however I find it quite a coincidence that if this were referring to a Babylonian cubit of 14.4 (used for buildings) then 500 ama equals 600 feet, or one furlong, which fits the size of the Herodian Temple given by Josephus. This is like comparing Herod's Temple to be the Temple of Ezekiel, which will be 500 x 500 ama, but it is also suggested that Ezekiel, who wrote this while living in Babylon, used the Babylonian cubit (for buildings) of 14.4 for measuring that Temple, so Ezekiel's Temple will actually be 600 x 600 feet (500 cubits @14.4).  Somehow Ritmeyer seems to be implying that this area in yellow was the size of Solomon's Temple compound and claims the remainder of the mount as Herod's extended courts. Yet Josephus, while standing across the Kidron valley, tells us that the east wall of the Temple was 400 cubits, which is approximately a furlong of 600 feet. Ritmyer claims the whole east wall of the mount today, which is 1470 feet long, as the east wall of the Herodian Temple compound, so over double the size claimed by Josephus.  And the east wall of his yellow area is around 861 feet long. All a bit confusing, since there is not a furlong to be found amongst his numbers.  In simple terms, Ritmeyer is claiming the Mishna is speaking of "Solomon's Temple" compound and then applying a Royal Cubit of 20.67 inches to it so that it comes out to be 500 royal ama.

(note: The old Temple built by the Jews returning from Babylon was most likely built according to a Babylonian cubit, since the generation building it were raised in Babylon.  This would explain why the old Temple house was smaller than both Solomon's and Herod's.)

The Dome of the Rock area did not have a fresh water source, only cisterns.

In Sagiv's Muslim Fountain theory the moat is in the proper place. A 600 x 600 foot Fort Antonia would fit well, leaving the moat as separating Fort Antonia from Bezetha hill, but I don't know what Mr. Sagiv shows as Fort Antonia in his theory.  In his theory the walls of the Temple Mount today were built by Hadrian for the Temple of Jupiter, and none of them are Herodian walls. Although I am agreement with much of what Tuvia Sagiv gives for a lower location for the Temple on the Mount, such as the view into the place of the sacrifices from both the high tower of Fort Antonia and also the balcony of Agrippa II, also water levels of the mount.

City of David theory (Dr. Martin and all others that claim the location of the Temple was in the City of David.)
In Martin's theory (diagram below),   it is apparent that For Antonia would have been the entire size of the Temple Mount. This theory does not comply to the Temple and Fort Antonia together being six furlong around. "six furlongs around, including fort Antonia" (600 x 1200 ft). Instead he says the area between the Fort and the Temple was 600 x 600 feet, which destrots the text of Josephus.  This also seems to ignore the moat on Warren's map and extends the fort right up to Bezetha hill.  He claimed that the Gihon Springs was the water source for cleansing the Temple court and also filling the Laver each day. If this were so then King Hezekiah wouldn't have diverted the waters of the upper Gihon to the south, away from Martin's proposed site for the Temple. 2Chr 32:30 "It was Hezekiah who blocked the upper outlet of the Gihon spring and channeled the water down to the west side of the City of David." This would have cut off water to the supposed Temple site. This also does not comply with the Tosefta Psachim which tells us the water came from the aqueduct.
Abaye, a Jewish sage of the 4th century, was quoted as saying;" What comes out is that the Ein Etam (the spring of Etam) is 23 cubits higher than the Azara (Temple Court).
Tosefta Psachim, Ch. 3, Par. 12, "How is the Azara cleaned? Seal the area and let the water from the aqueduct enter till it becomes clean like milk." Parentheses mine

City of David-Martin Theory

This drawing bothers me because the colonnades go in a straight line from his Fort Antonia  to the Temple. This would be because Fort Antonia was connected to the Fort on it's NW corner and one must comply to that. But in Martin's theory (and all other theory's that claim the Temple was in the City of David) the Temple should be moved to the west.

It is 600 feet from the SW corner to the first row of columns inside Triple Gate, as seen on the warren's map below

Below is a reality check just for the sake of accuracy.

With the actual typographical map it shows the facts of the mater.   Even with moving the Temple to the west the blue square of Solomon's Temple goes all the way into the Tyropean valley. So Solomon's temple area would have had to be even smaller because it was built to the edge of the valley on both west and east.
Also notice that for the Herodian extended temple (red square) to be a full 600 x 600 (a furlong by furlong) its northwest corner would have been on the western hill. And of course the two colonnades are no longer a north to south straight line from Fort to Temple.

This City of David theory does not work.

In the Robertson theory (below) the moat is located between Fort Antonia and the Bezetha hill.  Fort Antonia would have been situated on the highest of the hills as recorded by Josephus.   The aqueduct and existing underground water system brings the living water to the Priest's court. The ruins on the top of what is referred to as Ophel Hill fit into the layout and so do the underground structures below the surface of the Mount. And unlike Mr. Sagiv's theory the Wailing Wall was part of the Herodian extended courts of the Temple to the West.
This level is defined by a large outcropping of bedrock protruding out of the hill which is called Ophel hill.  This can be seen in the huge steps, which were cut into that bedrock at the southern wall of the Temple Mount.  At the top of the steps the rock levels out where the threshing floor would have been located. This would have been deep below the surface of the Mount we see today. This theory relies on the water source of the lower aqueduct. Solomon, bringing fresh water to the Temple Mount, originally built the lower aqueduct. It utilized Etam Spring and Solomon's Pools. It enters the Temple Mount at Wilson's Arch and angles southward, down hill, to the place of the Muslim Fountain. It then continues southward, through water Channels, ending at the location for this theory. This theory is calculated at a regular Hebrew cubit of 17.5 which is determined by the distance between the ruins in this area and fit well with descriptions of the size of the priest court and the woman's court within this area @ a 17.5 cubit (187 x 135 cubits). It is a real plus that it also agrees with the measurements given by Josephus for the temple.

This layout includes both Solomon's temple compound (in green) and the Herodian extended compound (in dark blue). Some of the older (Solomon) walls were most likely removed by Herod's grandson.
Home Aerial Photo
 -Temple Mount and Ophel
Warren's Survey Map
 -With cistern explanations
5 location Theories
 -Josephus' layout
Water Channels and  levels
 -Map and info
Nehemiah Map
 -Map of City Walls
Fort Antonia
 -On the highest hill
Solomon's Portico
 -What was Triple Gate?
Double Gate
 -Not Huldah Gate
Southeast Corner
 -Who built it?
Ophel Excavations
 -Ruins reveal the location
Temple Platform
 -Original location
Temple Mount 
  -illustration 70 AD
Temple Diagrams
 -According to ruins
Herod's Temple Courts
  -According to Josephus
Early Temple Illustration
 - from David to Herod
Wailing wall
 -A little history
UPDATES 4-23-13