The Temple Mount during the times of Ezra and Nehemiah

Continuing our series on the development of Mount Moriah and the Temple Mount, we have now arrived at the time of Ezra and Nehemiah.  In the Post-Exilic period, the returnees from Babylon first built the altar and then laid the foundations of the Second Temple (536 BC). There is no reason to doubt that these foundations followed the same orientation as the temple being replaced, as the foundation trenches were preserved in the Rock (as they are to this day). Due to the opposition of the local population, it took twenty years to complete the building of which we are told that it was 60 cubits high and wide, presumably referring to the dimensions of the façade.

This drawing shows the newly rebuilt Temple that apparently was not as grand as the previous one, as Haggai (2.3) said: “Who is left among you that saw this house in her first glory? And how do ye see it now, is it not in your eyes in comparison of it as nothing?” The internal layout of the Temple undoubtedly remained the same and would therefore have been able to function normally, although the quality of the architecture must have appeared inferior in the minds of the ancient people who remembered the first Temple.

Later on, during the time of Nehemiah, the city walls were restored as recorded in Nehemiah Chapter 3:

After the Babylonian Exile, many Jews returned to Jerusalem. They came in relatively small numbers, not sufficient to occupy both the Eastern and Western Hills. It was not until the Hellenistic period that the Western Hill was occupied again. In this drawing we see the rebuilt city of Jerusalem on the Eastern Hill with a smaller Temple on Mount Moriah. On the Western Hill we see the houses and walls that were destroyed by the Babylonians and were not repaired at this time.

Below is the fifth drawing in the series of Mount Moriah that shows the Temple Mount in the Post-Exilic period with the walls of the original square Temple Mount restored  (the first in this series was Mount Moriah itself, followed by the mount during the times of the Jebusites, Solomon and Hezekiah).

The Temple Mount in the time of Nehemiah. The Temple Mount walls were repaired together with the walls of Jerusalem. The northwest towers of Meah and Hananeel are mentioned in Nehemiah 3 (3.1) and also the Corner Tower in the northeast (Neh. 3.32).

A few months ago, we updated our Jerusalem in the Time of Nehemiah book. It was very popular and the first of our books to be sold out completely. The new edition which is now available from our website, has been updated with digital photographs, some by Nathaniel Ritmeyer, and also with new drawings. The above mentioned reconstruction drawing of the Temple built by Jeshua and Zerubbabel has been included, together with new drawings of Jerusalem at that time.

Second and revised edition of Jerusalem in the time of Nehemiah (Carta, Jerusalem, 2014).

We are still waiting for our Temple Mount guide book to be published and also the revised Jerusalem in 30 AD . The original version of the latter book was based on our slide set (now discontinued) which we produced in the 1990’s. This book also soId out. The latest  edition has new digital photographs and an additional section on the Palace of Queen Helena of Adiabene. Although ready for publication, the publishers are waiting for tourism to pick up after the recent unrest in Jerusalem.

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The Temple Mount during the time of King Hezekiah

The next drawing in our series dealing with the development of Mount Moriah and the Temple Mount shows what it would have looked like in the time of the later kings of Judah.

This drawing shows the Temple Mount that was built by King Hezekiah. The Temple itself was completely rebuilt and a large square platform built around the original Solomon’s Temple. It appears that Solomon’s palace complex must have been dismantled to make way for the new platform.

The first and original drawing showed what the mount looked like before anything was built on it. The next one showed Mount Moriah during the time of the Jebusites. This was followed by a drawing of Solomon’s Temple complex.

From the Hebrew Bible we know that Hezekiah (725–697 BC) was a good king, but he lived in difficult times. The Assyrians under Sennacherib had invaded the northern part of the country and many refugees had fled to Jerusalem and settled on the Western Hill of Jerusalem, as the Eastern Hill was already bursting at the seams.

Archaeology has given us a great insight into the kingship of Hezekiah, and has shown that he was one of the greatest builders Jerusalem has ever seen. In the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem one can visit the Broad Wall (mentioned later on in Nehemiah 12.38) that was built by Hezekiah to protect the new settlement. The excavations have shown that some houses had been dismantled to make room for this massive 7m (23ft) wide wall that encircled the Western Hill. This building work is mentioned in Isaiah 22.10, “you counted the houses of Jerusalem, and you broke down the houses to fortify the wall.”

The Broad Wall in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem. Photo: © Leen Ritmeyer

Another great work mentioned in Isa. 22.11 is the construction of Hezekiah’s Tunnel. Hezekiah diverted the waters from the Gihon Spring and “sent” them through an underground tunnel to the Siloam Pool (Siloam – shiloah in Hebrew – means “sent”). One of the most exciting experiences one can have in Jerusalem is to walk through this ancient tunnel.

Ben Ritmeyer leaving Hezekiah’s Tunnel.

In the Herodian period, the Siloam Reservoir had steps leading down to the water. Here we see the pool filled with rain water.

Hezekiah also embarked on a major rebuilding program of the Temple, as reflected in the second and later account of the Temple construction in 2 Chronicles 3–4. We believe that this text describes a virtually new and much larger Temple built by Hezekiah.

In this passage, the two columns of the Porch are described as being 35 cubits high in contrast to a height of 18 cubits mentioned in 1 Kings 7. Instead of the three-story-high wooden construction that was built around Solomon’s Temple, there is now an Upper Chamber above the original sanctuary. Other differences between the two descriptions show that Hezekiah not only rebuilt Solomon’s Temple, but also redesigned it. Nevertheless, this Temple is still referred to as the First Temple that was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BC.

Map of the Temple Mount today, showing the location of the square platform built by King Hezekiah.

har habbayit. This measurement of 500 cubits has been preserved in the text of Mishnah Middot  2.1: “The Temple Mount (har habbayit) measured five hundred cubits by five hundred cubits.”

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Temple Mount guide book

Carta, the publishers of our upcoming guide book, run a blog called Carta Jerusalem Echo. This morning they put up a post stating their hope that our new guide book will be published soon.

Soon to be published, Leen & Kathleen Ritmeyer’s JERUSALEM – THE TEMPLE MOUNT is a peaceful ecumenical book intended for Muslims, Christians, Jews, and all those for whom the Temple Mount has special meaning. The authors endeavor to afford each and every visitor or reader an opportunity to acquaint himself with, relate to and contemplate sites that may resonate for him when reading Holy Scripture.

Carta emphasises that this guide book is not only for visitors to Jerusalem, but also for those travellers who wish to acquaint themselves with this unique site from afar.

This guide is also meant for all those who have already seen or read about the marvels of the world – be it the Niagara Falls in North America, the ancient Inca Temples in South America, the Great Wall of China,  the Sistine Chapel in Rome, the great pyramids and sphinx of Egypt, Australia’s Great Barrier Reef – but have yet to visit Jerusalem. All are invited to  . . . Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord. . . (Isaiah 2:3).

To those who wrote directly in advance enquiring about the publication date, they wrote:

We at Carta appreciate your interest and are grateful for your intent to purchase Ritmeyer’s latest work once it is available. Publication of JERUSALEM THE TEMPLE MOUNT has been delayed, heeding . . . a time to keep silence, and a time to speak (Ecclesiastes 3:7).

Given the current regrettable spate of incidents in Jerusalem, Ritmeyer’s Interfaith Guide, which relates in great detail – and separately – to specific sites of interest to Jews and Christians, not only Muslims, deserves better timing, hopefully ahead of the festival season.

 

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The Temple Mount in the time of Solomon

As storm clouds gather over Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, we continue with our series on the development of Mount Moriah.

In our previous post, we talked about the locations of the Altar and the Holy of Holies. What happened after David built the Altar? After ruling seven years in Hebron, he made Jerusalem the capital of Israel. The first thing he did was bring the Ark of the Covenant from Kiriath-jearim to Jerusalem, the City of David. There it rested, presumably in a tent in the grounds of David’s palace, until circa 967 BC .

Here we see a reconstruction drawing of the Palace of King David. In the excavations of Yigal Shiloh, which took place between 1978-’84, a stepped stone structure was discovered that may have served as a foundation for David’s palace that stood higher up the hill. It stood behind the northern city wall and had rooms arranged round a courtyard. In the palace garden we see a tent for the Ark of the Covenant.

The Ark was then moved into the new temple that was built on Mount Moriah by Solomon, the son of David.

The design of this beautiful model of Solomon’s Temple is based on the description in the Book of Kings. The Temple had a high Porch, supported by two bronze pillars, called Yachin and Boaz. The inner sanctuary was divided into two rooms, the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies (Most Holy Place), where the Ark of the Covenant stood. A three-storey high structure surrounded the sanctuary. In front of the Temple stood the Altar, the bronze Basin (Sea) and ten smaller basins.

This sacred compound was surrounded by a wall that formed the Temple court.

The Holy of Holies was placed on the summit of Mount Moriah, with the Temple facing east, toward the Mount of Olives. Solomon also built a palace complex adjacent to the Temple. It consisted of his armory, the House of the Forest of Lebanon, a Hall of Pillars, the Porch of the King’s Throne, the King’s House and the house of his wife, Pharaoh’s daughter. As our drawings concern Mount Moriah only, all other buildings and city walls have been omitted.

On the visit of the Queen of Sheba to Jerusalem (1 Kings 10), the Ascent which Solomon built from this complex up to the Temple, was one of the things that inspired her awe.

This schematic drawing shows an arrangement of the various buildings, based on parallels with similar complexes excavated elsewhere in the Middle East. From a large courtyard in front of Solomon’s House, a special Royal Ascent (1 Kings 10.5 KJV) led up to the Temple, which lay on higher ground.

For those of you who are interested, Carta very much hope to publish our guide book to the Temple Mount at the earliest propitious moment.

The first drawing in this series showed Mount Moriah itself.

The second drawing shows the Temple Mount in the time of the Jebusites.

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The Temple Mount in Jerusalem during the Jebusite period

The next drawing of Mount Moriah that was prepared for our new Temple Mount Guide Book (and now available in our Image Library) shows what the mount would have looked like in the Jebusite period. Araunah the Jebusite was the last pre-Israelite ruler of Jerusalem, or Jebus, as it was then called. At the end of the second millennium BC, the mountain was used for growing wheat and barley, as attested to by the reference to the threshing floor of Araunah in 1 Chronicles 21.15. After God had brought a plague on Israel, the angel of the Lord, who was about to destroy Jerusalem, told King David to build an altar on the threshing floor.

Mount Moriah during the Jebusite period. Wheat, barley and other crops were grown on the slopes of the mountain. The threshing floor where David built the altar was located a little to the east of the top of the mountain, indicated by the small protuberance, where the angel stood. This latter location became the place where Solomon built the Holy of Holies of his new Temple.

But where exactly was that threshing floor? Was it on the very top of Mount Moriah, i.e. on the Rock (Sakhra) now located inside the Dome of the Rock, or elsewhere? Many people believe the altar built by Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac was situated on top of  the Rock and that later the Temple altars were built there.

We have shown, however, that the Rock was the Foundation Stone for the Holy of Holies of Solomon’s Temple and all subsequent Temples and not the location of the altar.

A new reconstruction drawing of Solomon’s Temple, based on archaeological evidence and the description in 1 Kings 6. The Holy of Holies is placed on the Rock, which is actually the top of Mount Moriah and visible inside the Islamic Dome of the Rock. A special emplacement was cut in the rock for the Ark of the Covenant (1 Kings 8.6,21). The Altar stands on the threshing floor of Araunah, where David had previously built an altar (2 Sam. 24:18; 1Chr. 21:18).

We are told that the angel in 1 Chron. 21.16 was standing on higher ground, between heaven and earth as it were. That place was most likely the peak of Mount Moriah and the subsequent sanctity of the Rock is therefore derived from the presence of the angel.

The threshing floor must have been on lower ground to the east, to exploit the prevailing westerly winds to separate the chaff from the grain. Threshing floors are never located on the very top of mountains, as the strong westerly wind would blow away both chaff and grain, but always on lower ground, usually on the eastern side.

Jewish tradition maintains that David’s altar was built (c. 980 BC) on the same place that Abraham had erected his altar in preparation for the sacrifice of Isaac, before God intervened. Based on the relationship between Herod’s Temple and the Rock inside the Dome of the Rock, the altar would have been located just east of the Dome of the Chain, as depicted in this photograph:

A view of the Dome of the Rock with the Dome of the Chain to its east. The Altar stood in the open space between the Dome of the Chain and the steps that lead up to the Raised Platform from the east.

The first drawing of Mount Moriah appeared here.

The next drawing in this series is the Temple Mount during the time of Solomon.

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Jerusalem the Movie

We were excited to learn that Jerusalem the Movie won the 2014 Giant Screen Achievement Award.

Taran Davies, George Duffield and Daniel Ferguson, the producers wrote:

“We are honored to have won these prestigious awards and grateful to the hundreds of people who worked tirelessly to make this extraordinary film, which celebrates the ancient city of Jerusalem like you’ve never seen it before.”

We are very pleased for them and remember how privileged we felt to have been asked to participate in the production of this great movie.

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New drawings of the Development of the Temple Mount.

Our Image Library contains reconstruction drawings of Jerusalem in the various periods. I made different versions of them for the ESV Study Bible and for the Chronological Life Application Study Bible.

However, when compiling our latest book, a Guide Book to the Temple Mount (forthcoming), a new set of drawings was necessary, the focus this time being on how Mount Moriah developed over time.  The series begins with a drawing of the topography of Mount Moriah:

We can no longer see what Mount Moriah originally looked like. All that is visible today is its summit inside the Dome of the Rock. However, Charles Warren, the British engineer who explored Jerusalem in the 1860s produced a rock contour map, which has not been surpassed in accuracy to this day. Using this rock map and taking the general configuration of the Jerusalem mountains, with the layered rock sloping from north to south, into consideration, our illustration shows what Mount Moriah would have looked like before the subsequent temples were built. It was near the top of this mountain that Abraham built an altar to sacrifice his son Isaac. © Ritmeyer Archaeological Design

In the succeeding days, we will feature the following drawings of Mount Moriah in the historical periods from the Jebusites till the Early Muslim period.

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Inscription dedicated to Hadrian found in Jerusalem

Photo: Yuli Schwartz

Today, the Israel Antiquities Authority revealed the “Rare Archaeological Find from the History of Jerusalem”, which we mentioned in yesterday’s blog post. It turns out to be a Roman inscription dating from 129/130 AD. It was dedicated by the 10th Legion (Fretensis ) to Hadrian, the Roman Emperor who rebuilt Jerusalem in 135 AD and renamed it Aelia Capitolina.

According to a report in Arutz Sheva, the inscription may be among “the most important Latin inscriptions ever discovered in Jerusalem.” The stone was found in secondary use as part of the cover of a deep cistern, hence the semi-circular hole that allowed the drawing of water.

The stone that bears the inscription is actually the second part of an original inscription. The first part had already been discovered in Jerusalem by Clermont-Ganneau in the middle of the 19th century and is exhibited in the courtyard of the Studium Biblicum Fransciscanum Museum on the Via Dolorosa just inside the Lions (St. Stephen’s) Gate:Putting the two inscriptions together, the complete inscription reads:

 ”To the Imperator Caesar Traianus Hadrianus Augustus, son of the deified Traianus Parthicus, grandson of the deified Nerva, high priest, invested with tribunician power for the 14th time, consul for the third time, father of the country (dedicated by) the 10th legion Fretensis Antoniniana.”

After the Roman destruction of 70 A.D., the 10th Legion set up an encampment south of the Hippicus Tower on the Western Hill of Jerusalem. After nationalistic uprisings, Hadrian flattened the city and in 135 A.D. built a new one on its ruins and called it Aelia Capitolina.

The city of Jerusalem during the time of Aelia Capitolina. ©Leen Ritmeyer

The major buildings are the Damascus Gate in the north, a Temple of Aphrodite, two forums (market places) and there may have been a Temple of Jupiter on the Temple Mount.

Reconstruction of the Damascus Gate. ©Leen Ritmeyer

 

A new drawing of the Temple Mount during the time of Aelia Capitolina has been made for our new guide book:

The Temple Mount during the Roman period. ©Leen Ritmeyer

Some historical sources indicate that during this Roman period, a sanctuary to Jupiter was erected on the Temple Mount as were two dedicatory columns with statues of Hadrian and Antoninus Pius. The remains of three long steps that are no longer visible but were marked on Warren’s plans, may have belonged to the southern part of the crepidoma  (stepped platform) of this presumed temple.  Jews were forbidden from entering the city on pain of death and Hadrian tried further to erase their connection to the Land by changing the name of Judea to Syria Palaestina (whence the name Palestine).

This drawing is one in the series that shows the history of Mount Moriah in the different historical phases starting at the time of Abraham. In future posts we will refer to other drawings in this series.

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Rare Archaeological Find from the History of Jerusalem

The Israel Antiquities Authority’s office in the Rockefeller Museum, Jerusalem, announced that they will hold a press conference in order to:

“Present to the Media a Rare Archaeological Find from the History of Jerusalem.”

Interviews in English will be given tomorrow, October 21, 2014, between 10:30–12:30 at the offices of the Israel Antiquities Authority in the Rockefeller Museum, Jerusalem.

Wonder what that’ll be all about!

In addition, the annual conference on “Innovations in the Archaeology of Jerusalem and its Surroundings”, to be held this Thursday (23/10) on the Mount Scopus campus of the Hebrew University, which will deal at length with interesting finds and important archaeological issues in Jerusalem.

The conference will take place in Hebrew. Interviews can be conducted in English.

For further details, kindly contact Yoli Shwartz, Israel Antiquities Authority spokesperson, 052-5991888, dovrut@israntique.org.il.

 HT: Joe Lauer

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Jerusalem – The Temple Mount – A Carta guide book

We promised to report on our new: “Jerusalem – The Temple Mount – A Carta Guide Book”.  Incredibly, this is the first true guide book to the Temple Mount to be published since 1925, when the Supreme Muslim Council published their 12-page Brief Guide to al-Haram al-Sharif. In 2006 we published The Quest, Revealing the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. This is an academic work, but written and illustrated in such a way as to be accessible to scholars and laymen alike, detailing every nook and cranny of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

Our new guide book is completely different from The Quest. It has many new evocative reconstructive illustrations and is designed to help visitors understand what they are looking at, but is also invaluable for the person who cannot visit the Temple Mount in the flesh, but whose spirit is very much there.

In the Preface we wrote:

It is the authors’ sincere hope that this profusely illustrated guide book to the Temple Mount will help you to fully savor the experience of visiting a site that is truly without parallel and be embraced by its aura of power and sanctity. It is the culmination of years of academic work distilled into a user-friendly manual whose aim is to make the dry facts and stones come alive. If it can help you make this complex site more accessible and find your own personal spots for reflection, it will have fulfilled our vision. Each of the six distinct areas connected to the Temple Mount is preceded by a “Useful Information” section. Each route has its own detailed tour map. Of course, the tours can be done in whatever order you choose to do them in, including or omitting as you like.

Map of the 6 color coded areas

1. The Western Wall – Experience the Wall at the heart of Jerusalem (blue)

2. The Western Wall Tunnels – Follow the wall hidden in darkness (red)

3. Jerusalem Archaeological Park – Walk in the Park around the Southern Wall (brown)

4. The Eastern Wall – Deciphering the Puzzle of the Oldest of the Temple Mount Walls (green)

5. The Northern wall – Discovering the Hidden Wall (purple)

6. Going up to the Mountain of the House of the Lord (white)

The specialised maps at the end of the book provide additional information if you wish to focus on a particular aspect of the Temple Mount. One unique never-before-published map gives New Testament references that will allow you to follow in the footsteps of Jesus and his disciples around the Temple. The plan of the cisterns and underground structures will give you an idea of the magnitude of the vast world that lies beneath the Temple platform. The map of the Islamic structures will acquaint you with the gems of Muslim architecture all over the platform.

Many pages have sidebars containing fascinating tidbits of information on topics such as “Who was Melchizedek”,  “What did the Queen of Sheba see?”, “What is the difference between a Menorah and a Hanukkiah?“, “What happens to the prayer notes left in the Western Wall?”? etc.

The book was due to have been published this month but is being delayed by the lack of tourists in Israel at the moment. Ironically, the fact that visitors are being deterred by the present situation and that when they do come, visiting hours are so restricted, makes the sort of virtual tour facilitated by this guide book all the more valuable.

As we wrote in our previous post, you can expedite the book’s speedy publication by using the online Contact Form to express interest to Carta.

Posted in History, Jerusalem, Products, Temple Mount | 10 Comments