Massive Challenge to Standard Geography of Jerusalem – Temple
Part Three: Jerusalem Temple Mount Myth
“Shouldn’t Christians be concerned that there are over 10,000 Herodian stones in the alleged temple mount, when Christ prophesied that of the temple “buildings” which could be seen from the Mount of Olives, not one stone would be standing upon another?”
This book really needed to be written.
I (Damien Mackey) am referring to Marilyn Sams’ The Jerusalem Temple Mount Myth (2018).
As is apparent from the following brief Amazon statement, The Jerusalem Temple Mount Myth follows on from the research of Dr. Ernest L. Martin on the very same subject:
This volume adds new sources and insights to the work of Ernest L. Martin and contains over 375 descriptions of Jerusalem’s southeastern hill (Mount Zion), the temple mount in the City of David, and the tower of Antonia (today called the “temple mount”).
Solomon erected the temple in the City of David before breaking down its northern wall to install Pharoah’s daughter in her palace (3 Kings 2: 35, Septuagint version). Josephus described the hill of the temple as descending by degrees toward the east parts of the city, but there has never been a city on the east side of the alleged temple mount. A host of other descriptions (with references) place the temple’s east wall in the Kidron valley, in the middle of the city, and over the Gihon Spring, whereas the alleged temple mount is north of the city, its east wall is at the top of the hill, and there is no accessible spring within its precincts. It does not match Josephus’s descriptions of the temple’s dimensions, walls, gates, height, position, or finished state. Its remarkable square rock (under the Dome), is never mentioned with reference to the temple, but is for the Roman Camp, which the Byzantine Christians identified as the “Praetorium” and the site of the Church of St. Sophia (which Caliph al-Malik destroyed to build the Dome of the Rock). Indeed, Eutychius stated the Christians had never built on the temple ruins site and Rabbi David Kimchi said the same for the “nations.” At Masada, eye-witness Eleazar described the Roman camp as the only monument remaining after the 70 A.D. destruction. Today, the alleged temple mount is the only surviving monument from the destruction and is the Roman camp. Archaeological findings relating to the issues are dispersed throughout, but two specific chapters on the alleged temple mount’s archaeology and the archaeology of the City of David are included. A list of the most relevant descriptions is given at the end. A review of the book by Margaret Barker, UK scholar and author of 29 books states: “Marilyn Sams brings together a vast array of ancient evidence to argue that the Jerusalem Temple was not on the Temple Mount.”
[End of quote]
Here now follows a 64-point synopsis of this brilliant book:
The Jerusalem Temple Mount Myth answers the following questions, based on the true identity of the alleged temple mount as the Roman Camp, Fort Antonia, and the actual temple mount having formerly stood in the middle of the southeastern hill in the City of David:
- Since eye-witness Eleazar said the only monument remaining in Jerusalem after the destruction of 70 A.D. was the Roman camp, while the temple had been dug up by its foundations, why do modern scholars contradict his witness and say Fort Antonia was destroyed, while the temple mount remained standing?
- Why would the Romans destroy their own camp (Fort Antonia), capable of housing a legion of soldiers and which had stood above the temple and “dominated” it, especially when they left the Tenth Legion behind to guard the site of the former Jerusalem?
- If the Jews were supposed to have destroyed the Roman camp (the size of several cities–walls 60 feet high), exactly how could they have achieved such a massive undertaking during the siege when they were all guarded within the walls of the city or the walls of the temple?
- Why would the Romans, who practiced considerable retribution against rebels in their empire, leave the gigantic walls of the “temple mount” still intact, since they would certainly endure for centuries as a tribute to the Jews who had rebelled against them?
- Similarly, why would Hadrian 65 years after the Roman destruction, decide to build Aelia Capitolina on the site of Jerusalem as a city which would wipe out every trace of a Jewish presence, yet still retain the alleged “temple mount” as the largest edifice in the city?
- Why don’t eye-witness descriptions of Jerusalem’s total destruction ever mention the whole 36 acres of the temple mount were still standing?
- How could Gregory of Nyssa (c. 260 A.D. – 340 A.D.) say there were no traces of the temple remaining, when there were 10,000 Herodian stones still standing in the alleged temple mount?
- Why did historians say the temple mount was plowed as a farm and became a site for quarrying and dumping garbage, when none of these conditions have been noted on the alleged temple mount, while they have been on the southeastern hill?
- Why did Benjamin Mazar say he was surprised by the lack of signs indicating any serious destruction under the alleged temple mount?
- Shouldn’t Christians be concerned that there are over 10,000 Herodian stones in the alleged temple mount, when Christ prophesied that of the temple “buildings” which could be seen from the Mount of Olives, not one stone would be standing upon another?
- Does it make sense to claim that Christ must have been referring only to the sanctuary and the buildings on top of the foundations, when the “buildings” that the disciples could see from the Mount of Olives included foundations which were more than two times higher than the buildings on top?
- When there is no documentation of anything being built north of the southeastern hill until John Hyrcanus built the Baris in c. 134 B.C., why do modern scholars say the northern walls of the City of David/Jerusalem were broken down in order to add a large northerly extension for the temple?
- Why does Aristeas say Jerusalem had its towers arranged in the manner of a theater, when that description fits the shape of the southeastern hill and entirely eliminates any imagined northerly extension as part of the city?
- Why did Aristeas, from the standpoint of the citadel south of the temple on which he was standing, say the city was divided into upper and lower crossroads (above and below the temple), when there was no city north of the alleged temple mount in the Greek or Hasmonean periods?
- When the angel sent to destroy Jerusalem in David’s time stretched out his arm over the city at the site of the future altar of the temple, how could he have been standing on the imagined northerly extension, since there was none and since the altar was located on Mount Zion on the southeastern hill?
- If the city was supposed to have been enlarged to include a large northerly extension for the temple, why does Hecateus of Abdera describe the temple as being in the middle of the city instead of on the north of the city?
- Why does the Jerusalem Talmud also describe the fountain of Shiloah (the Gihon Spring, in the middle of the southeastern hill) as being in the middle of the city, when that couldn’t possibly be the case if there were a northerly extension considered as part of the city?
- Why did Josephus say the hill of the temple foundations was a rocky ascent which declined by degrees toward the east parts of the city, when there has never been a city on the east parts of the alleged temple mount?
- Since Mount Zion was a synonym for the temple itself and for the hill it was built on, why is the alleged temple mount built to the north of Mount Zion, on a hill, not Mount Zion, which was outside the walled city?
- Why did Isaiah say the place of the name of the Lord of Hosts was Mount Zion, when Mount Zion was the southeastern hill, not where the alleged temple mount stands today?
- Why did the author of I Maccabees say the host assembled themselves, went up into Mount Zion, and saw there the desolated sanctuary, if the temple were built to the north of Mount Zion?
- In Nehemiah, the royal palace and the water/prison gates were immediately south of the temple in the City of David, where the water gate gave access to the Gihon Spring and the prison gate to the prison in the king’s palace. This being so, why is the alleged temple mount north of the Gihon Spring, as well as E. Mazar’s alleged site for David’s palace?
- In Nehemiah, when the choirs celebrating the completion of the building of the walls halted at the water and prison gates, the scripture says they also halted at the house of God, so how could that be at a northerly extension when these two gates were south of the temple in the City of David?
- If the temple were not in the City of David, where the kings were also buried, how could the Book of Ezekiel mention the Lord’s offense that the kings had made defiling tombs for themselves only a wall away from his threshold (referring to the temple)?
- Why did Josephus describe the temple and the city as lying near to each other “in the manner of a theater,” when this configuration occurs at the lower Tyropoeon Valley, where the western hill and southeastern hill curve against each other in the manner of a theater, but not at the Upper Tyropoeon Valley, where the alleged temple mount and the hill west of it do not curve against each other in this fashion?
- Why did Josephus say a deep valley encompassed the temple along its entire southern quarter, when this is not the case for the alleged temple mount, while it is for a temple in the middle of the City of David, where the deep Tyropoeon, Hinnom, and Kidron Valleys surrounded it to the south?
- A praetorium had been located in the middle of Fort Antonia and the Byzantines referred to the alleged temple mount as the “Praetorium.” Why did they call it the “Praetorium” rather than “the temple mount,” as we do today?
- Why did Eutychius say the Christians had never built a church over the temple ruins, when they had built the Church of St. Sophia over ElSakrah in the Praetorium, the church which was destroyed by Caliph abd al-Malik in order to build the Dome of the Rock?
- Why did the Byzantine pilgrims describe the temple ruins in association with features on the southeastern hill, such as the fountain of Siloam, Mount Zion, a crypt or cave under the ruins, the east wall of the city built by Eudocia, and the two pools of Siloam?
- Why was Byzantine flooring discovered under the a pier of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in the same location as where the former Church of Our Blessed Lady had stood, in the Praetorium?
- Why do 16 sources describe a natural spring underneath the temple, which would place the temple over the Gihon Spring, the only spring in Jerusalem, while no natural spring has ever been discovered under the alleged temple mount?
- Why do Josephus, Nehemiah, and the author of Josippon describe the east wall of the temple as being built in the Kidron Valley, when the east wall of the alleged temple mount is built far upslope from the Kidron Valley?
- Why did Josephus say that Herod’s temple was built starting at the bottom until it reached a four-furlong square at the top, when the alleged temple mount starts at the bottom and ends at the top in a trapezoid measuring 920 by 1596 by 1040 by 1556 feet ?
- Why did Josephus say the southern wall of the temple reached just to the west valley, when the southern wall of the alleged temple mount extends over the valley and ends on the western hill?
- Since Josephus describes the southeast corner of the temple as 450 feet high (300 cubits), why is the southeast corner of the alleged temple mount only 158 feet high?
- Since Josephus said that Fort Antonia and the Temple to its south were separated by two 600-foot aerial bridges, why are the current models of Fort Antonia (with no archaeological support whatsoever) drawn flush against the north wall of the temple instead of 600 feet away?
- Since Josephus described Fort Antonia as of “several cities” size, why does the plateau northwest of the alleged temple mount, which is presumed to be the former location of Fort Antonia (with no archaeological evidence whatsoever), measure only 394 by 147 feet?
- Why does the Mishnah describe the foundation stone of the temple as a portable man-made stone, while today the large, immovable El Sakrah is claimed to be the foundation stone of the temple?
- Why does Josephus say the temple was finished, when the alleged temple mount is clearly unfinished at its northwestern corner?
- Why do the Cairo Geniza documents explain that when Omar granted permission to seventy households of Jews to return to the city, they requested to be near the site of the temple and the water of Shiloah, in the southern part of the city?
- Why did Burchard of Sion (1283 A.D.), who had read Josephus, believe the 36-acre Tower of David had once been known as Antony’s Tower?
- Why was the “synagogue cave,” located south of the alleged temple mount near the temple ruins (probably in the Warren’s Shaft system), reassigned a possible location in the interior of either Barclay’s or Warren’s Gates in the alleged temple mount?
- Why do the Jews venerate the Wailing Wall as a holy site, when they stopped praying at the western wall of the Constantine/Julian temple ruins on the southeastern hill, then prayed at a synogogue on the Mount of Olives, then at the east gate of the alleged temple mount, and finally, in the 16th century, started praying at the western wall of the alleged temple mount, actually Fort Antonia?
- Why can’t archaeologists agree on where the citadel once stood, south of the temple?
- Why does the term “Acra,” which was the Greek name for the citadel south of the temple, also stand for the southern area of the southeastern hill near the Pool of Siloam?
- Why does Josephus say Bezetha or the “new city” was north of Fort Antonia, when on today’s maps of the ancient periods it is north of the alleged temple mount?
- Why did Josephus say Titus attacked the temple through Fort Antonia, when the current models of Fort Antonia at the northeast corner show that over 600 feet of the wall of the alleged temple mount’s wall were unobstructed, particularly near the Birket Israel , precisely where Titus attacked the north wall of Antonia (not the temple mount) through the Struthion Pool?
- Why does the Birket Israel at the northeast corner of the alleged temple mount match the description of the Struthion Pool at the northeast corner of Fort Antonia, especially when there was no pool northeast of Herod’s temple?
- Is it not a coincidence that the northeast wall of the alleged temple mount is damaged more than any of the other walls, when the northeast area of Fort Antonia was the very site where Titus attacked Fort Antonia and after taking it back from the Jews, ordered a demolition of the site in order to permit the entry of his armies?
- Josephus says that when the Jews destroyed the aerial passages connecting Fort Antonia to the temple, it made their temple foursquare, but how could that description apply to the current 36-acre trapezoid, which has never been made foursquare and the current models of Fort Antonia which are never illustrated with the two 600-foot passages?
- When Tacitus described the walls of the tower of Antonia as being “beneath the royal palace,” how could he be referring to the current models of Fort Antonia, which are not beneath where Herod’s palace stood on the western hill, but considerably further north?
- Why does Leen Ritmeyer find measurements on the alleged temple mount which assure that the temple of Solomon was 821 feet square, when there is an eye witness account by Hecateus that Solomon’s temple was a rectangle measuring 150 feet by 500 feet, in the middle of the city, not at a northerly extension?
- Why would Eusebius say the Gihon Spring was the High Priest’s fountain if the temple were located 1500 feet to the north, rather than over the only spring in Jerusalem?
- The Gihon Spring was named after the river which originated in the Garden of Eden, a fitting name to match the other Garden of Eden symbolism for the temple, but does the name make sense for a temple located 1500 feet north of the Gihon Spring instead of a temple which enclosed it?
- Why do descriptions of the future temple prophesy there will be waters issuing from the east side of the temple, which will go into the desert, when this fits the description of the Gihon Spring under the temple in the City of David, but not a temple on the alleged temple mount, which has never had waters issuing from its east side?
- Why does Josephus describe the stones of the temple foundations as larger than the largest stones in the alleged temple mount?
- How could Josephus say Solomon filled up a valley between the temple and the city to the south, in order to join the city to the temple, when the alleged temple mount has never been joined to the city on the south by a filled-in valley?
- Why don’t the gates on the alleged temple mount match either the descriptions of the Mishnah or Josephus?
- How can the five gates on the south of the alleged temple mount match the description of the Huldah Gates–one for coming in and one for going out?
- Why does Josephus says there was one northern gate to Herod’s temple, the Tadi Gate, when there was no gate on the north wall of the alleged temple mount in Herod’s time?
- How can one east gate (serving for coming and going out) match the two gates on the alleged temple mount, one of which was not dated to Herod’s time and the other of which enters into a storage area?
- Why does the alleged temple mount show evidence of towers, like Fort Antonia had, when Herod’s temple did not have towers?
- Why does Josephus say that during the attack of Titus on the temple, the legions came near the first court and raised their first bank near the northwest corner of the temple, which would have been impossible according to the current models which place Fort Antonia at that very location?
- Why did Maimonides describe “deep and winding tunnels underneath the temple, where the ark was hidden, when there are no winding, but only straight tunnels underneath the alleged temple mount (manmade), while the natural tunnels in the Gihon Spring complex and Warren’s Shaft tunnels do match this description? ….