One of the most interesting and important discoveries at the Temple Mount Excavations directed from 1968 till 1978 by the late Prof. Benjamin Mazar, was made at the southwest corner in 1969. After digging through Umayyad, Byzantine and Roman destruction levels, a large corner parapet stone was found lying on its side on the paving stones of the Herodian street, about 1.5 meter (5 feet) from the southwest corner. A niche was cut out of the inner slope of the stone on its southern side. Above this niche was an inscription written in Hebrew, which reads (from right to left) “l’bet hatqia l’hakh . . . ”
The first two words “l’bet hatqia” mean “to the place of trumpeting,” but the last Hebrew word is incomplete. Scholars have suggested completing the inscription with l’hekhal (to the Temple), l’ha-kohn (for the priest) or “l’hakhriz,” (announce). The latter suggestion, which would make the inscription read, “to the place of trumpeting to announce”, has the most support.
As it was found lying directly on the street and underneath other fallen Herodian stones, it must originally have been located at the top of the southwest corner whence it was the first stone to have been thrown down.
Why was this find so important?
There are people, mainly in America, such as the ones mentioned in a previous blog, that deny that the Temple Mount is the place where the Jewish Temple once stood. They suggest, based on the misreading of certain Scripture passages, that it stood in the City of David. 1
The problem for people like that is that the Temple Mount walls are still standing, so they identify the Temple Mount with the Antonia Fortress, being apparently ignorant of the fact that Josephus wrote: “Titus now ordered the troops that were with him to raze the foundations of Antonia …” (War 6.93). Indeed, as I will point out in a future blog, archaeology has proved this to be a true statement.
This Hebrew inscription therefore disproves the idea that the Temple Mount was somewhere else. Another Hebrew inscription found near the same place reads “korban”, which means sacrifice. Just below the inscription are two doves or pigeons inscribed upside down.
This inscription vividly illuminates the event when Jesus drove out the money changers and those that sold doves out of the Temple (Matt. 21:12; Mark 11:15). It is impossible to suggest that Hebrew inscriptions of this kind once belonged to a Roman fortress.
High above this corner stood the Royal Stoa, so that the Trumpeting Stone was located some 138 feet (42 m) above street level. From this elevated position, a trumpet call could be heard all over the city.
An interesting side question is how the part of the Trumpeting stone with the inscription was broken. Any stone, falling from such a great height, would probably have been broken. However, there is a possibility that in this case the stone was not broken to its present extent by the Roman destruction of A.D. 70. In 1867, Charles Warren investigated this area and dug through the fallen debris down to the bedrock right beside the corner. When reconstructing the outline of Warren’s shaft, it becomes clear that the stone would have protruded into the dark shaft. This raises the possibility that part of the Trumpeting Stone may have been accidentally smashed by Warren’s workmen before they pierced the paving slabs in order to dig down to bedrock.
- In a recent interview, Bob Cornuke, who has fully accepted Ernest Martin’s idea that the Temple stood in the City of David, falsely claimed the following: “But the man that came up with this idea of the Temple being there was Benjamin Mazar, who is the grandfather of archaeology in Jerusalem. He is considered, just like he’s the George Washington of archaeology. He told this theory to Dr. Ernest Martin. Ernest Martin worked for him on a dig and said, ‘Ernest, this is where it is. It’s in the City of David. All the evidence we are finding is in the City of David. (HT Gordon Franz)