The New Sanhedrin and the Temple Mount

On October 13th 2006, 71 Jewish religious leaders re-established the ancient Sanhedrin. This used to be the supreme religious court that resided on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, prior to its destruction by the Romans in 70A.D. Many cities had smaller sanhedrins, but the Supreme Court in Jerusalem was called the Great Sanhedrin. It is this Great Sanhedrin that has now been re-established. There were three places on the Temple Mount, mentioned in Mishnah Middot 5.4, where they used to meet over 1900 years ago. The most well-known location was the so-called Chamber of Hewn Stone. This chamber was located to the southeast of the Temple, as can be seen on this model of Herod’s Temple Mount:


One of the aims of the modern Sanhedrin is to reinstate animal sacrifices, starting this coming Pesach (Passover) on the 3rd of April. At present they are looking for ritually perfect animals that could be used for this purpose. Indeed, in recent years, several animals have already been sacrificed at different localities around the Temple Mount, usually at a distance of about half a mile, but always in view of the Temple Mount.

Years ago I met Rabbis Yisrael Ariel and Chaim Richman of the Temple Institute, both of whom are now members of the new Sanhedrin, and I asked them where they were hoping to make these sacrifices – on the Western Wall Plaza, or on the Mount of Olives? Their reply was: only on the original location of the Altar. As I was researching the problems of the Temple at that time, they asked me to give them a lecture about my findings. They showed great interest in my location of the Altar in the open space just to the east of the Dome of the Rock, as published in my book The Quest – Revealing the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, p. 362:



It is possible to locate the Altar if one knows the exact location of the Temple. I believe to have identified the rock-cut remains where the walls of the Holy of Holies stood, inside the Dome of the Rock (see plan above). Once this location is established, one can use the measurements given in the Book of Measurements, Mishnah Middot, as set out in my book The Quest, Revealing the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, to pinpoint the exact location of the Altar as can be seen on this aerial photograph of the Temple Mount:



It will be interesting to watch this development and to see what this new Sanhedrin is going to achieve, especially in regard to sacrificing.

8 thoughts on “The New Sanhedrin and the Temple Mount”

  1. It is not clear what authority this Sanhedrin maintains,but by Jewish law you can bring sacrifices even if the Temple is no longer there because the sanctity remains as mimonides states, given that you know the Temple location. And thanks to you we now have the exect location.

  2. I have a friend who asked someone at the Temple Institute if they were ready to start sacrifices again. The answer was, “We have everything we need.” My friend pressed them, asking if that meant they had “everything ready for the new temple, even the ark?” The answer remained, “We have everything we need.”
    It will indeed be interesting to see what things will develop.

  3. In Acts 4 Peter and John are brought before the Sanhedrin (vs 15) to be questioned about a lame man who was made to walk at the Beautiful Gate of the Temple. In 4:11 Peter quotes the last Hallel Passover Psalm 118:22. “This is the stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.”

    Question: Was this Sanhedrin meeting being held at the Chamber of Hewn Stone? Could this choice quote have extra queues to his audience if it was being held at the Chamber of Hewn Stone?

  4. The Sanhedrin appointed new members by promoting judges of a lower court or from among their own students, if they showed prominence. Apparently one had to be tall as well in order to impress people.

  5. You can never have the priesthood needed as the records of levitical priests were destroyed in 70 ad. The same with the ashes of the red heifer that must be kept from year to year. So…no can do.

  6. Carol,
    I don’t think that Jews would agree with your suggestion. Many of the Levi and Cohen families claim that they can trace back their families to before 70 AD. The Temple Institute has a data base with the lineage of many levitical families.

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