The Foundation Stone of the Temple in Jerusalem

Yisrael Medad reported yesterday that renovation work is again being carried out inside the Dome of the Rock and that scaffolding has been put on The Rock, known as the Foundation Stone.

He rightly complains that none of the Israel State authorities have shown any inclination to commit themselves to the Protection of Holy Places Law:

The Protection of Holy Places Law 5727 (1967), to remind us, reads:

The Holy Places shall be protected from desecration and any other violation and from anything likely to violate the freedom of access of the members of the different religions to the places sacred to them or their feelings with regard to those places…2 (a) Whosoever desecrates or otherwise violates a Holy Place shall be liable to imprisonment for a term of seven years.

His article was accompanied by these pictures, which were scanned from the Makor Rishon newspapaer:

Pails, ropes, the bottom rungs of a construction workers' support platform and other items required for the renovation of a building were placed on The Rock.
The Dome of the Rock is being renewed and no one from amongst Israel's Chief Rabbinate nor any archaeological supervisory institution was asked to either agree, oversee or lend an opinion.

The Rock, known in Arabic as the Sakhra,  around which the Dome of the Rock was built, was of course the location of the Holy of Holies of the Jewish Temple in  Jerusalem. This drawing shows the location of The Rock inside the Dome of the Rock:

The Rock (yellow) inside the Dome of the Rock is the highest point of Mount Moriah. © Leen Ritmeyer

The plan shows the relationship between The Rock and Solomon’s Temple:

This plan shows The Rock, which is the top of Mount Moriah, (now inside the Islamic Dome of the Rock), where Abraham was sent to sacrifice his son Isaac (Genesis 22.2). The Holy of Holies (Most Holy Place) of Solomon's Temple stood on this mountain top. The walls of Solomon's Temple are indicated in blue. When Solomon built the Temple, it was necessary to create flat areas in order for the rectangular foundation stones to stand perfectly horizontal. The foundation trench of the southern wall of Solomon's temple can still be detected. The western and northern walls were built against rock scarps. In the centre of the Holy of Holies is a level depression that was specially made for the Ark of the Covenant (1 Kings 8.6,21). After the destruction of the First Temple in 486 BC, the Second Temple was built in the same location.

Medad’s article is followed up by Nadav Shragai’s blog post “The Temple Mount: Second Temple-era mikveh discovered under Al-Aqsa mosque”. This, of course, is not a recent find, as it was already discovered in the 1930’s by Hamilton, although made public only a few years ago. See these previous posts here and here.

Nadav’s post is, however, worth reading as it gives a potted history of what happened on the Temple Mount since the devastating earthquake in 1927.


21 thoughts on “The Foundation Stone of the Temple in Jerusalem”

  1. I visited the inside of the Dome of the Rock last month and there was lots of scaffolding from the renovations. The Rock itself could not be directly seen because of curtains hung to hide it from view, although I did capture some images of the Rock through a window above the staircase that descends to the cave below it. I went back and reviewed some pictures from that day, and a pail and footing of scaffolding similar to what is shown above can be clearly seen in the images.

  2. Disrespectful and therefore disgraceful! What if the situation were reversed? Another intifada? The Israeli government must intervene very firmly so that this kind of thing does not happen ever again.

  3. I am curious what the Muslim explanation is for the depressions in the stone. Do they assign any significance in particular to the depression claimed to be the resting spot for the ark? Thanks for a very interesting blog.

  4. John,

    They have no explanation. The Rock is in general venerated by Muslims as the place where Muhammed went to heaven. There is one small depression which they call “The Prophet’s Footstep”, but that is all.

  5. Till now, they “kept” the place. They don’t know that since they started building in the stables of King Solomon under the Mount, and now with their construction in the Dome of the Rock, they are getting into trouble…

  6. As an American born in Israel and having lived my life in America, I can only tell my non Jewish peers that the bile rises in my throat when Leen reports these disrespectfull and less then animalistic treatment of the holy sites. Be it the Church Of Nativity or the Temple mount.

    Most of all I blame the Jews for allowing this because some antiquated Rabbis rule where you can go on the mount and a Vichy Govt ruled by Jackals and Hyenas.

    Since normal minded Christians fights the conception that all Jews are Christ Killer. I think it leaves the crime of Sanctuary-Cide- a destruction of holy places to be number one of the Jews crime of which they are all guilty. Im sorry if my post drips of rabid foaming cynicism, but aside from the historical finds that Leen shares with us, these version of Kristallnachts on holy sites seems to be the only other news. So to be sure, if Leen has no updated archaelogical evidence finds such as the skeletons from the 70 destruction, all he has left is the vile Arab disregard and contemptible Jewish cowardice.
    I say let them dig and let the Mount crumble and fall, no one, not Jew not Gentile are yet worthy to see the coming temple and come up to celebrate the feast of tabernacles together as one. This 3rd Commonwealth is built on sand and that sand is now showing thru the once fertile land. I should drop dead before the day of Israels 4th demise or should I say 5th counting Bar Kochbas 2 year hold on Jerusalem. I dont need to watch reruns.

    God Bless You All

  7. Imho it’s just a rock. Look at the uneven surface, nothing has been “founded” on it. A foundation stone is something different, a most often crafted stone that is the start of a foundation. Also, that rock ain’t a “threshing floor” and afaik no description of the temple ever mentions such a rough, uneven rock protruding anywhere. That would have been rather unsual for a temple, and certainly someone would have recorded that. So, where does the idea that this has anything to do with the temple come from? The Bordeaux Pilgrim in 333 reported that “there is a perforated stone to which the Jews come every year and anoint it, bewail themselves with groans, rend their garments, and so depart. ” Now, “perforated stone” sounds more like the rock of the dome, but since the Jewish mourners dared to go there, it can’t be part of the holy of holies and probably not of the priests’ couurt, neither. But among all the rubble it must have been a very good landmark for those who looked for the temple, preventing them from accidentially coming too close to the holy areas. I guess that’s what later lead to the confusion. But, again, since that prominent rock has never been mentioned in relation to the first, second, or Herodian temple, imho it’s very impropable it was part of those compounds. To me, Tuvia Sagiv’s explanation that the rock was in the fortress Antonia makes more sense.

  8. Quite a surprise: That “recently discovered” pool with the large steps leading to the water is recognizably described in Wilson/Warren’s “Recovery of Jerusalem” (NY Appleton Co edition of 1871, page 19)! “The lower pool is constructed in a peculiar manner, which appears to indicate that it was sometimes used as an amphitheatre for naval displays; there are several tiers of seats with steps leading down to them, and the lower portion of the pool, which is much deeper than the upper, could be filled with water by a conduit from one of the other reservoirs.”

    What a waste of time and efforts that historical places and buildings, which had already been known and described 140 years ago, have to be dug up again by archaeologists of our times! Not to speak of all that has been destroyed in the meantime. Wilson mentions three pools downstream of the “Sealed Fountain” (obviously the Gihon spring). Afaik we know only two nowadays. What happened to the third one? Is it still waiting for being “discovered” once again, or is it gone forever?

  9. Oops, egg on my face, Wilson was writing about the pools of Solomon, of course! My apologies, Mr, Ritmeyer. I will concentrate on reading now and stop posting comments that only show my lack of knowlewdge. Excuse me, pls.

  10. Prof Ridemyer. Does your book explore the Temple Mount in comparison with Baalbeck? Their huge base stones?consideration of their origins and original purposes?time of construction of Temple Mount? Bible scholars seem to ignore that David went to “jebusite threshing floor” payed huge sum of money for a structure….temple mount .. That existed… Perhaps before Abram? Thanks artdocc

  11. Are there any actual Bible references to the Holy of Holies being constructed on a natural protruding stone or is it just tradition?

  12. Alan, That is recorded in the Mishnah, but there are many Biblical references to “The Rock”. It is also one of the descriptions of God.

  13. Thanks, Leen. No offense, but that’s a pretty weak argument given that there is so much minute biblical detail about how the Temples should be built, but no Tabernacle precedent and nothing about placing the Holy of Holies where the giant rock outcropping is, and placing the Ark on the giant rock. Unfortunately, there are dire consequences for misunderstanding where the Temples were located, but you know that.

    Personally, I’m with the group that says the rock was in Fort Antonia and the Temples were over the Gihon Spring.

  14. For those who think the temples were built above the Gihon Spring, I just have to ask: Have you ever actually been to the area above the Gihon Spring? I have on several occasions. Archaeologist have excavated fairly heavily in that area and dug to bedrock in several places and there’s no evidence whatsoever that a temple or any Herodian construction existed in that area. Anyone can go there and see this for themselves. I think the argument that the temples were built there is absurd and clearly contradicted by evidence on and in the ground.

  15. Sept. 2015, if you are going to build the temple on the mount some day soon, when are you going to prepare yourselves to meet the God of Abraham? Do you think the blood of animals is going to help? He knows all your sins. There is aneed for us all to ask Him to forgive us just like David did.Call upon Abraham’s God you might be surprised . I did. Love, a friend.

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