Templeby Robert Cornuke
There is no place that is considered a more significant as well as volatile, piece of real estate than the Temple Mount. Some say that World War III will erupt there. More blood has been shed over disputes of ownership and control of the traditional temple platform than any other location on earth. But some now believe the temple of Solomon was never even there at all, and that the legend of it being at that spot has gone unchallenged for so long now that tradition seems to have sealed reality into a long forgotten tomb.
Like so many, I thought that the location for the temple of Solomon had been proven to be on the traditional Temple Mount in Jerusalem. But, I became suspicious after reading the work of the late archaeologist and author, Dr. Ernest L. Martin. My research efforts would not have been possible without his ground-breaking insights. However, I hope that my own personal research presented herein offers a bold new chapter in this potentially history-adjusting subject.
Jesus warned His disciples of the coming destruction of the temple and that not one stone of the temple would be left on top of another. Matthew 24:1–2 says, “Then Jesus went out and departed from the temple, and His disciples came up to show Him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said to them, ‘Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down.” Christ’s words clearly state that the entire temple, each and every stone, would be dug up, dislodged, and tossed away. It is interesting to note that there are massive stone blocks by the thousands set in the wall supporting the Temple Mount platform. Was Jesus wrong in His prophesying that not one stone would remain standing?
Historian Flavius Josephus wrote that the entirety of the temple was indeed in total ruin and destruction after 70 AD. He went on to say that if he had not personally been in Jerusalem during the war and witnessed the demolition by Titus of the temple that took place there, he wouldn’t have believed it ever existed. Josephus (Jewish Wars, VII, 1.1) speaks of widespread destruction in all Jerusalem as well.
So, if the Temple was completely destroyed to the last stone being toppled over, what is, and was, the huge stone fortress we see today rising over Jerusalem? I believe, as do others, that it once was the Roman fort occupied by the mighty Tenth Legion (Legio X Fretensis). I also believe that the true site of Solomon’s temple is about a thousand feet south of the temple mount in the City of David. This would mean that Jesus was correct in His prophetic words and that each and every stone, to the last one, was thrown down.
The garrison of Fort Antonia in Jerusalem was as big as several cities, according to Josephus, housing approximately 6,000 men plus the needed support staff. All told, as many as 10,000 personnel served there. But this huge fort has never been found in Jerusalem by archaeologists. I feel that the reason archaeologists have not found the mighty Roman fort is because the tradition of the Temple Mount complex being the temple site has blinded them.
Three thousand years ago, the City of David was about 12 acres in size and had an estimated population of only around 2,000 people. It is a finger of land just south of the present traditional Temple Mount. As a former policeman, I would like at this point to lay out a linear case for the City of David as the one and only place for the temple, but first must present a brief history. The Jebusite fortification was a fortress, albeit a small one, but it had what David wanted. It was strategically situated, with a high walled castle-looking complex rising majestically from the Kidron Valley. A spring flowed abundantly inside with clear, pure water, which made it even more desirable.
The Bible tells us that while David and his army were outside looking up at the Jebusite stronghold, there, standing defiant on the top of the walls were men hollering down mockingly. 2 Samuel 5:6–10 describes it this way:
“You shall not come in here; but the blind and the lame will repel you,” thinking, “David cannot come in here.” Nevertheless David took the stronghold of Zion (that is, the City of David). Now David said on that day, “Whoever climbs up by way of the water shaft and defeats the Jebusites (the lame and the blind, who are hated by David’s soul), he shall be chief and captain. “Therefore they say, “The blind and the lame shall not come into the house.” Then David dwelt in the stronghold, and called it the City of David.
— 2 Samuel 5:6–10 NKJV
David took control of what the Bible calls the Stronghold of Zion (Metsudat Tsion), that is, the City of David. These last two locales (Stronghold of Zion and the City of David) are the huge keys to solving the riddle as to where the true temple is located. But to keep on a straight path regarding the true temple site, let’s go back to David capturing the City of David from the Jebusites. After he was in his newly taken fortress, David was visited by an angel of the Lord that pointed out the desired patch of real estate within the city walls that David was to purchase from Araunah (Ornan) the Jebusite (2 Samuel 24:18–25). This land purchase was for a threshing floor—usually comprised of a level area paved with flat stones where grain is tossed in the air and the wind carries away the lighter chaff (worthless husks of broken straw) and leaves the heavier kernel of wheat to fall on the threshing floor. It is interesting, that David had captured the 12-acre fortress by force, yet God was now ordering David to pay money to the Jebusite owner for a threshing floor. But this comment in Scripture is a huge clue for the temple location. In 2 Chronicles 3:1 we read: “Now Solomon began to build the temple at the house of the Lord at Jerusalem…at the place that David had prepared on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite.” This verse conclusively says that the temple will be built in the strict boundary of the City of David at the place of the threshing floor bought from the Jebusite. That can only be in the City of David, and this makes it impossible for the Temples to have been on the Temple mount.
Over time, the temple was built by Solomon in the City of David, but it was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BC, only to have other successive temples rebuilt with far less grandeur, finally ending with Herod building his temple which Christ actually visited on many occasions. Herod’s temple was destroyed, just as Jesus predicted, down to the very last stone. As time passed, no one knew where the completely destroyed temple really was. And since the Stronghold of Zion was in the City of David, Zion had vanished as well. For almost two millennia, Zion and the City of David laid silently together, buried in a forgotten tomb of earth.
Zion, the City of David, and the temple all intersect as one. I offer the following synopsis of Biblical clues:
When the City of David was missing, and respectively so was Zion, scholars and worshipers in the middle ages looked to the most attractive feature in Jerusalem as a potential candidate site for their lost temple. The impressive high-walled fortress of the Dome of the Rock was the most impressive structure that was still standing in Jerusalem, so some assumed it must have certain historical prominence—and that prominence was the temple itself.
Even though many still argued as to where the true temple site was, a Benjamin Tudela (1169) proclaimed emphatically that the Muslim Haram al- Sharif, the current traditional Temple Mount platform, was the proper placement of Solomon’s temple.
Eusebius, from the third and fourth century, was curator of the Library at Caesarea. He was a renowned scholar who is still regarded with distinction today. He wrote, “The hill called Zion and Jerusalem, the building there, that is to say, the temple, the Holy of Holies, the Altar, and whatever else was there dedicated to the glory of God have been utterly removed or shaken, in fulfillment of the word.” So here we have the prominent Eusebius clarifying with narrow and crystal certainty where the temple was located. He tells us that Zion is the temple site as mentioned in his writings and further notes only a few lines later that sadly, after the ruin of Zion (City of David), the very stones from “the temple itself and from its ancient sanctuary” were scavenged from the temple site in Zion and used for the construction of “idol temples and of theatres for the populous.”
If I take the words of Eusebius and assemble them into a paraphrased short paragraph it would read as follows: Zion is the place of the temple, the Holy of Holies as well as the Altar. Everything there was shaken down and subsequently ruined. The scattered stones from the ancient destroyed sanctuary (in Zion/City of David) were all carried away and made into secular structures demeaning to God.
Alexander the Great, known as Hecateus of Abdera, testified that the temple was not only in Zion, but located “nearly in the very center of the City of David.”
David’s tent stood for some 38 years housing the Ark of the Covenant until Solomon moved the ark up to his newly built temple, which was more than likely located side by side with the Ophel mound area at the Gihon Spring. The Ophel is translated in the King James Version as the stronghold, the same word used in 2 Samuel 5:7.
The City of David was rediscovered in the later 1800s and its walls begin at about 600 feet south of today’s traditional Temple Mount/Dome of the Rock. I found that the Bible further states, “So shall you know that I am the Lord your God, dwelling in Zion My holy mountain” (Joel 3:17). This is reflective of the verse which reads, “My holy mountain Jerusalem…as the children of Israel bring an offering in a clean vessel into the house of the Lord” (Isaiah 66:20).
These verses indicate that “My holy mountain” is the same as “the House of the Lord,” which is synonymous with the temple. Since the threshing floor is the site of the temple, which is in the City of David, as well as the true place of Zion, it seems all three converge and solidify in logical summation, as well as logical submission, that the true location of the temple needs to shift to its proper and original site—south of the traditional Temple Mount. Micah 4:2–13 gives a further prophetic picture of the temple being located on the threshing floor in the City of David. From the Oxford Study Bible (OSB), let me seam several verses together to make that point: In the days to come, The mountain of the Lord’s house Will be established higher than all other mountains; The Lord will bring their King on Mount Zion They do not know the Lord’s thoughts or understand His purpose; For He has gathered them like sheaves to the threshing floor; Start your threshing you people of Zion.
The “Lord’s house” (as referenced above) is the temple itself. So we have another non-retractable connector with the temple, Zion, and the threshing floor. Once again, the threshing floor (see 2 Chronicles 3:1) is all important in identifying the temple location. Its connection to Zion, in the City of David, adds to the corroborative evidence of the true temple location.
Many ancient historians site a spring at the true temple location. The Roman historian Tacitus recorded that the temple at Jerusalem had a natural spring of water that welled from its interior. Again, these references could only be describing the Gihon Spring. It is located close to what is referred to as the Ophel, which is a bulge of the earth abutting the City of David (Zion) laying just to the south, and roughly about 1,000 feet, from the Temple Mount. There are no springs, however, on top of the Temple Mount. A spring is crucial for the true temple locale. “A fountain shall flow from the house of the Lord…” (Joel 3:18). In Ezekiel it reads,
“Then he brought me back to the door of the temple; and there was water, flowing from under the threshold of the temple faced east; the water was flowing from under the right side of the temple, south of the alter. He brought me out by way of the north gate, and led me around on the outside to the outer gateway that faces east; and there was water running out on the right side.”
— Ezekiel 47:1–2 NKJV
There are other Hebrew writings cited in a book by Zev Vilnay that also mention by name the Gihon Spring area as the place for the future temple. “…At that time a great stream shall flow forth from the Holy Temple and its name is Gihon.”
According to the Bible (as referenced previously in 2 Chronicles 3:1), the threshing floor is, in effect, the anchor point for the temple. It was in the area of the Gihon Spring. It also seems to be close to where the angel of the Lord stepped in to abort Abraham’s attempt to sacrifice his son. A future judgment will occur on this ancient, missing threshing floor where a new temple will be built. It is where Jesus will rule and reign. This judgment will be the separating of the wheat (those who are forgiven) and the chaff (those who are not forgiven). In Matthew 3:12 we read a chilling foretelling of this fact: “His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” In this verse, the barn represents heaven—a perfect destination. However, according to Scripture, if you are a person who rejects the Lord, then you are essentially…toast!