Where on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount were the Jewish Temples located?

The article in the New York Times by Rick Gladstone to which we referred to in yesterday’s post received so much criticism that the newspaper had to issue a public correction:

Correction: October 9, 2015

An earlier version of this article misstated the question that many books and scholarly treatises have never definitively answered concerning the two ancient Jewish temples. The question is where precisely on the 37-acre Temple Mount site the temples had once stood, not whether the temples had ever existed there.

An overall view of the Temple Mount from the southeast. In the foreground is the Royal Stoa above the Southern Wall, while the Temple with its surrounding buildings stood close to the centre of the Temple Mount.

Several bloggers have written about this, see this one:

It is simply insane to deny that the second temple was located at Temple Mount. For one thing, the Western Wall survives, as do the southern steps and other remnants of the temple:

Ample archaeological evidence confirms Temple Mount as the site of the second temple, and the contours of the temple on the mount are generally known. Less is known about the first temple, for which our sources are, I believe, entirely Biblical. But it is written that the second temple was built on the site of the first, and there is no reason to doubt this. Excavation under Temple Mount likely would produce remnants of the first temple and would, in any event, almost certainly produce some of the most sensational archaeological finds in history, but such exploration is prohibited by the government of Israel so as not to upset the Arabs.

and this one:

(“Historical Certainty Proves Elusive at Jerusalem’s Holiest Place”), reporter Rick Gladstone pretended that it’s an open question as to “whether” the two Jewish temples — one destroyed over 2,500 years ago and the second razed in roughly 60 A.D., ever existed on the 37-acre site known as the Temple Mount. In doing so, Gladstone gave credibility to Palestinians baselessly promoting “doubt that the temples ever existed — at least in that location.”

There is no meaningful “doubt” on the subject at all. After what must have been a furious and completely justified backlash, the Times issued a correction on Friday (bold is mine):

Correction: October 9, 2015

An earlier version of this article misstated the question that many books and scholarly treatises have never definitively answered concerning the two ancient Jewish temples. The question is where precisely on the 37-acre Temple Mount site the temples had once stood, not whether the temples had ever existed there.

To truly unpack the significance of this correction, we need to see the specifics of everything the Times did to fully modify Gladstone’s original writeup.

This last blog shows exactly how the text was changed.

A disgrace for the New York Times indeed! One of our readers wrote about our post:

I think that by focusing on your (incredibly significant and, to my mind, dispositive) research, you are being too generous to the Times. They are cleverly trying to exploit actual differences of opinion among some serious archaeologists about the precise location of the Temples in order to bolster the completely unrelated lie that the Temples never stood at all, or at least were nowhere on the Temple Mount.

I don’t usually deal with political issues, but this went a bit too far!

8 thoughts on “Where on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount were the Jewish Temples located?”

  1. I am pleased enough evidence is out there to absolutely refute those claims and I know how you feel about political stances but I feel this was a time to stand and voice so thank you :}.I also have heard the muslims have found articles at temple site dating back to temple period but they dispose of them, all hearsay I know. If true how they must be doing everything they can to dismiss it all whilst somehow just knowing its all true. Wow.

  2. Trasey: It is indeed well documented that Temple-era artifacts have been discarded by the Muslim authorities-because many of them are subsequently found at the dump site where they attempt to dispose of them. It’s a crime.

  3. Dear Mr. Ritmeyer!
    I appreciate your fantastic research work very much!
    I have a question about “the bend” in the eastern wall. The 500 cubit thesis is convincing .
    But I wonder that during the so called “big dig” to create the new underground mosque entrance at the south-east corner there were no remains or traces of the south wall intersection at “the bend” or at “the seam” position running to the west. Wouldn’t you have expect even some evidence of walls coming out of the eastern wall?
    Thanks for any response
    best regards from ben reuter

  4. Ben,
    Thank you for your question. As the reply may be of interest to other readers as well, I will shortly write a post about this.

  5. Dr.Ritmeyer thank you very much for you explanation!
    Please let me ask another question.
    What do you think about the Ophel position thesis of Norma Robinson regarding the explanation of the Hulda Gates?
    Thank you and God bless you
    all the best from ben reuter

  6. Ben,
    What Norma calls an Herodian gateway is, in effect,the remains of an Early Muslim (Umayyad) palace. If one doesn’t know the difference between Early Muslim (about 700 AD) and Herodian, then one is inclined to dismiss this ignorance altogether.

  7. Your answer above to ben reuter tells me all I wanted to ask about the Temple location questioned by Norma Robertson at templemountlocation.com. Still, interesting that new things about the location of the Temple still “pops out” without any real prove of anything.

    I strongly rely on your book “The Quest”.

  8. I know the last comments here were made two years ago now but if Dr. Ritmeyer or others are still following these comments I wanted to stay on the question of Norma Robertson’s proposal.

    First by way of clarification it was my understanding from reading what she has written and hearing her discussion of her proposal that the gates you mention are in fact as you say from a later date under Muslim control. She does offer that they could possibly have been constructed at least in part during a brief period when Jewish efforts to rebuild on the site began but came to an end following a dramatic earthquake. Her claim about the Herodian gate as she calls it is that it is possible and she thinks likely that the Umayyad gate was built above the remains of the gate to the Herodian outer court expansion which of course she is claiming extended into the Ophel.

    Beyond that particular point of her proposal, I was curious if you or any others could comment on other aspects of her argument and in particular some of the supporting evidence she points to which may not, in fact, support her claims but still if true would seem to raise a host of questions. So to be precise I am thinking of things like the discrepancy between the current dimensions of the temple mount platform and those reported by the rabbinic authors and Josephus or the dates for some of the retaining wall portions the late construction of the southeastern corner and so on.

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