Jeremy Park of bible-scenes.com asked me a while ago if I could help him with his project of developing a 3D video of Herod’s Temple Mount. Last week he wrote the following:
“Shalom to you all. I am so excited to say that after almost two years working on this project it is finally finished; Herod’s Temple Mount. Journey back through time and see what Herod’s Crowning glory the Temple Mount could have looked like two thousand years ago. Places that we can see the remains of today, places like Robinsons Arch and Barclays Gate, Solomon’s Stables and the Western Wall, to name but a few.”
The compilation video can be seen here on YouTube.
“When I made each scene I tried to include people. There were two reasons for this, firstly they gave a sense of proportion and scale as sometimes it is only when you see a person in the shot that you realise just how big some of the structures really are. Secondly, I tried to create a story of each scene where something is happening or has happened. For example, the picture of the two weary travellers on the road in the Kidron valley are obviously talking about the politics of the day:
Here are some additional images:
“As most of you are aware by now, I have followed Leen Ritmeyer’s model for this project and if anyone is interested in learning more about the Temple Mount, his book “The Quest” is a gold mine of information.”
“I was fortunate to discover the Ritmeyer Archaeological design Website where I was able to purchase comprehensive plans, elevations, images and information about all aspects of this incredible site that would have been the setting for many Gospel narratives. Without the Ritmeyer resource I don’t think I would have been able to have done justice to the historic and archaeological authenticity of the site.”
I am probably a little biased when I say that this is the best 3D rendition of the Temple Mount I have seen so far.
Do watch the video and let Jeremy Park know what you think. He would love to hear from you. His HD videos are free to watch and download, but only subscribers can download high-resolution 4K copies:
The High Definition (HD) videos on this site are free to download and are accessed from the HD download buttons that accompany each scene.
4K videos are available to all subscribers.
When anyone subscribes, an e-mail will be sent out with the necessary password enclosed.
Jeremy’s Bible Scenes is not a separate charity but a branch of his company Park 3D Ltd. Until Bible Scenes can provide him with a sufficient income to work full time on it he has, by neccessity, a day job. He would love to have your support!
What comes next?
“Over the next few days I will be uploading each camera move that you see in this video in HD and 4K to the Bible Scenes Website. As subscribers you will have access to these videos 4 weeks before they are released to the general public (and of course access to them in 4K). I will let you know as soon as the website is updated with the new videos. After this I will be concentrating on producing individual descriptive videos of most (if not all) of the elements that make up the Temple Mount. For example, there are 18 chambers that surround the Temple itself, all of which serve a different purpose and while I may not be including all of them, I think there is a wealth of information to share regarding them. Then there are the various entrances and gates, the Royal Stoa, the Antonia Fortress and all the other parts that make up this project, all have their own story. I am excited to start producing them and will let you know as soon as they are completed.”
In our previous blog, we looked at the Middle Gate as an example of the description in Lamentations 2:9 that Jerusalem’s “gates were sunk into the ground.” We published it on the 1st of September, as that was one of the readings for the day according to the Traditional Daily Reading plan of the Avery Bible app.
Today, on the 5th of September, according to this plan, we begin reading the Prophecy of Ezekiel. From Chapter 1 we understand that Jehoachin, King of Judah, was exiled to Babylon along with Ezekiel and several thousands of Jerusalem’s leading citizens.
According to Ezra 2:59, the Jews lived in villages like Tel Abib, Tel Melah, Tel Harsha, Cherub, Addan, Immer and Casiphia, from where they returned following the Edict of Cyrus in 539 BC. The location of these places is not known, but it is understood that these were clustered round the River Chebar, where the Jews were forced to work on government projects.
A few years ago, in 2017, as part of an archaeological project we were doing in the area, we visited the Bible Lands Museum in Jerusalem. At that time, the curators had put on a dazzling display called “Jerusalem in Babylon”, showing archaeological evidence for some of the places where the exiles lived. This was the first time that archaeology had proved that Jews lived here during the Exile. The following images are photographs taken by permission of the Bible Lands Museum.
While reminiscing recently about the highlights of our archaeological careers, we could not help but include our visit to this exhibition as a stand-out experience.
We had assumed that this was only a temporary exhibition and expected it to be dismantled. We were pleasantly surprised, however, to see on their website that this exhibition is still very much on!
An animated movie in Hebrew (but with English subtitles) introduces the story of the Exile for children. We were indeed relieved to see that this unforgettable exhibition could still be enjoyed by the next generation.
The text on some of the clay tablets that were discovered showed that the exiles lived in an area called Al-Yahuda (City of Judah) or Al-Yahudaiah (City of the Judeans), where they were initially forced to dig and dredge canals for transportation of goods as part of their obligatory service to the king and state.
Some clearly recognisable Jewish names, such as Gedaliah, Zechariah, Hananiah, Nethanyahu, Obadiah and Zedekiah, have been found on several of these tablets.
The Akkadian word for man-made canals (naru, Hebrew nahar) is one and the same for rivers. Therefore, it is possible that the words in Psalm 137:1, “By the rivers of Babylon there we sat down, yea we wept when we remembered Zion”, do not refer to the main rivers, the Euphrates and Tigris, but rather to those canals that branched out from them, which the Jewish captives were forced to dig. It was hard work, especially for a labour force that had just survived the destruction of their country and a long march from Judah to Babylon. These canals were needed to bring water for irrigation purposes and for bringing goods to inland cities, such as Babylon.
When that work was completed, the Jews were allowed to settle in the land.
The text on these tablets also showed that after an initial hard time, the Jews quickly settled down and became prosperous. Some preferred to stay in Babylon rather than to endure the hardship of pioneering work in the province of Judea.
However, after 70 years, many exiles that had been living in Babylon since the conquest of Judah by Nebuchadnezzar, returned from Babylon to Jerusalem and Judea.
At the end of the 19th century, Jews again, after a much longer exile, returned to the Land of Israel, and many saw a historical parallel with the return of the exiles from Babylon.
This engraving by Ephraim Moses Lilien was printed on the invitation for the 5th Zionist Congress, held in 1901, as stated in Hebrew at the top of the drawing. The pogroms in Russia and Eastern Europe at that time stimulated Jewish immigration to Palestine. This ideal has profound religious and historical roots, one of which was the return to Zion after the Babylonian exile.
The lower Hebrew inscription reads: “May our eyes behold your return in mercy to Zion.”
“her gates have sunk into the ground.” (Lamentations 2:9)
The Middle Gate is mentioned in Jeremiah 39.3 as the place where the Babylonian princes came together to celebrate their conquest of Jerusalem. The destruction of Jerusalem was dramatically exposed in the excavations in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem that were directed by the late Prof. Nahman Avigad. After digging down for some 10 m., a large L-shaped fortified wall of the Israelite period was found.
This gate was called the Middle Gate as it was built in the middle of the northern wall of Jerusalem of that time. It is amazing to think that the Babylonian princes, who sat in the Middle Gate, Nergal-Sharezer, Samgar-Nebo, Sar-Sechim, Rab-Saris, Nergal-Sharezer and Rab-Mag, all came from what is now known as Iraq.
Jeremiah witnessed and lamented the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BC. “O wall of the daughter of Zion, let tears run down like a river day and night; give yourself no relief; give your eyes no rest” (Lamentations 2:18).
In Lamentations 2:9, we read that “her gates have sunk into the ground.” As all large buildings in Jerusalem, including the gates, were built on the bedrock, these gates could not have sunk deeper into the bedrock on which they were built.
However, there is a logical explanation for this description. The Today’s English Version (formerly the Good News Bible) paraphrases this verse as, “the gates are buried in rubble”. After the destruction, rubble and destruction debris would have accumulated around the destroyed gate and raised the ground level around it, so that the preserved top would have been barely visible. This would have given the impression that the gates had sunk into the ground.
It is exciting to find the remains of buildings that are mentioned in the Hebrew Bible, but also sad to reflect on the terrible destruction that took place some two and a half thousand years ago.
My friend and colleague Hillel Geva, director of the Israel Exploration Society and editor cum publisher of the Jewish Quarter Excavations in the Old City of Jerusalem Conducted by Nahman Avigad, 1969-1982, sent me a copy of Volume VIII of this important series. Hillel is to be congratulated on the preparation and publication of this beautiful volume which sets a high standard of how excavations should be studied and published.
This Volume VIII describes the excavation of the archaeological remains of the Palatial Mansion, which, as suggested by Avigad, may have been the Palace of the High Priest. This mansion may have been built by Annas who was High Priest from 6-15 AD, as he was one of the few people who could have afforded to build such a large and lavishly decorated residence. The family of Annas was very wealthy as they controlled the Temple Market that was set up in the Temple Courts and out of bounds for normal moneychangers. Josephus called one of the sons of Annas “a great hoarder of money”.
This building covers 600 square meters and is one of the largest residences dating from the Second Temple period ever uncovered, not only in Jerusalem, but in the whole of the country. This mansion is located on the eastern edge of the southwestern hill which slopes down to the Tyropoeon Valley. Overlooking the Temple Mount, it would have been considered prime real estate in the 1st century AD, as indeed it is today.
In the first chapter of this magnificent volume, Hillel describes the stratigraphy and architecture of the Palatial Mansion in great detail. The structure is built on two levels, each consisting of two stories and has many rooms built around a central open courtyard. The walls of several of these rooms were decorated with fresco and stucco designs. Seven rooms had mosaic floors, three of which were decorated with colorful carpets.
Eight mikva’ot (ritual baths), catering for the purification requirements of the residents, were found in the mansion indicating that the complex was occupied by priests who served in the Temple.
After making the publication drawings and studying the architectural remains, I made this new reconstruction drawing to give an overall idea of what the mansion may have looked like:
In this volume, every wall and locus is recorded and accompanied by photographs, plans and sections. Of necessity, this takes up the bulk of the book. Different authors have written short chapters on the fresco and stucco decoration, mosaic floors, and ritual baths.
The building was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD, while it was in the middle of undergoing extensive renovations with fresco wall decorations being covered over with white stucco. This consisted of broad panels in between two bands of imitation masonry, modelled on “headers and stretchers.” However, on the basis of the stucco remains of the northern wall of the Reception Room that extended to the greatest height, it was clear that there was an additional band of decoration just below the ceiling. This different style of imitation stone work could only be reconstructed on the basis of a complete panel which was found in the debris on the floor below this wall – see reconstruction drawing below.
The floor was also found littered with small fragments of decorated stucco with different patterns, which had fallen from the ceiling. Before restoration work on the Palatial Mansion began, Avigad presented me three large trays of a representative sample of ceiling fragments and asked me to try and make some sense of them.
All the pieces showed geometrical patterns in relief. It was clear that the original design must have been divided into two parts, as some fragments had an “egg-and-dart” motif and the remainder were plain. Measuring the angles in the first group – squares, octagons and triangles of 45 degrees could be discerned. The second group consisted of squares, hexagons and triangles of 30 degrees. After trying out various possibilities and taking into consideration the dimensions of the room, the number of fragments found and their representative proportions, I hit upon this ceiling design which was later partially incorporated in the restoration.
I was not part of the original team, as I was then working as architect on the Temple Mount Excavations. However, since 1978, I have spent many years working on the publication plans of all the excavation areas of the Jewish Quarter Excavations. Each of the publication plans, elevations and sections of this magnificent residence including reconstruction drawings, were prepared by me on completion of the excavation.
It should be noted that this volume, like the previous ones, is a scientific publication and of interest to archaeologists, historians and the interested lay person. Other readers may be more interested in a popular book, such as that published by Avigad, who summarised the excavation of this extraordinary mansion in his book Discovering Jerusalem. This Vol VIII is the complete excavation report, published some 30 years after the first spade went into the ground.
When the excavations were finished, a four-story high modern building, the Yeshivat Hakotel (a Jewish school for the study of the Torah and the Talmud) was built over the preserved remains. The mosaic floors were removed and, after conservation, exhibited in the Israel Museum. On completion of the building of the yeshiva, an archaeological museum, named the Herodian Quarter, or Wohl Archaeological Museum, was planned in what had become the basement of the new building. Avigad planned and directed the work for two years, from 1985-87, putting me in charge of its execution. He visited the site twice a week for a couple of hours, leaving me in charge for the rest of the time.
Although in this Volume VIII, only just over two pages are dedicated to this restoration work, it required a lot of thought as to how best to preserve the remains and how to decide where to add stones. Some of the the walls were made higher to help the visitor with spatial orientation. The restoration of the Reception Room demanded special attention as we tried to give an impression of what the beautiful stucco decoration of both the walls and ceiling would originally have looked like. This restoration work was published in book form by Avigad. I treasure my copy of this book which he gave me, inscribed with the dedication “a souvenir from a joint work”.
This volume is a worthy addition to the previous seven volumes of the Jewish Quarter Excavations which cover the excavations of the Broad Wall, the Israelite Tower (later identified as the Middle Gate of Jer. 39:3) and other fortifications, the Byzantine Cardo and the Nea Church, and other buildings of the Second Temple period.
Avigad passed away in 1992 and therefore was unable to publish the final reports of these important excavations directed by him. We are grateful that Hillel Geva, who served as archaeologist since the beginning of the dig, has taken upon himself to publish the results in such magnificent volumes. The next volume will describe the many small finds that were discovered in the Palatial Mansion.
A new presentation by Ritmeyer Archaeological Design
After the Temple Mount, the most popular images in our Image Library are those that depict Jerusalem in the Time of Nehemiah. Most probably, this is because so little is known about the layout of the city at that time. The archaeological data to support the record of Nehemiah, is thin on the ground or should we say, appears to be thin on the ground. In fact – if we look carefully- scattered archaeological remains of the entire circumvallation can be detected.
Chapter 3 of the Book of Nehemiah gives a detailed account of the massive repair work undertaken under Nehemiah’s guidance and the groups of people that volunteered to give this city a new span of life after the terrible disaster of the Babylonian destruction.
The Sheep Gate is the first feature mentioned and also the last in Nehemiah’s list of restored wall sections and gates. This gate had not been referred to previously in the Old Testament record, whereas other features mentioned by Nehemiah, such as the Towers of Meah and Hananeel were. Archaeological evidence for the Sheep Gate can be deduced from an underground tunnel in the northern wall of the city, called in Middot, one of the books of the Mishna, the earliest code of rabbinic law, the Tadi Gate. The model below shows how this part of the city would have looked in the time of Nehemiah:
In verse 13 of the chapter, the Valley Gate is mentioned. This is an element of Nehemiah’s wall of which we also have ancient remains, with J.W. Crowfoot discovering in 1924, a stretch of wall into which was built a gate which gave access to the City of David from the west.
Its location in the western wall of the city is shown in the model:
After the completion of the work that took 52 days, two companies praising God walked over the eastern and western walls and met at the Sheep Gate. The Sheep Gate was the northern gate into the Temple Mount. It was so called as through this gate the animals for sacrifice were brought into the Temple Mount. It must have been a wonderful sight to see these two groups merging into one, united both in body and spirit to praise the Lord for his mercy and his goodness:
We have combined all our information about the layout of Jerusalem in the time of Nehemiah to create a new RAD CD – Volume 9 with 41 slides, called Jerusalem in the time of Nehemiah. This presentation is profusely illustrated with photographs of a specially designed model, reconstruction drawings and photographs of archaeological remains. We use these illustrations in a verse by verse commentary on the third chapter of the Book of Nehemiah to follow the description of the restoration of Jerusalem’s walls.
The Location of the Music Chamber in the Court of the Women
As noted in our previous post, music played an important role in the Temple services. Although the real service of praise in the Temple was done mainly by voice, this was often accompanied by the playing on musical instruments. Silver trumpets were blown by priests to accompany the sacrifices.
The Levites stood on the fifteen semi-circular steps to sing the Psalm of the day, and on other occasions, all of the fifteen Songs of the Steps, namely Psalms 120-134.
The number of instrumentalists was not limited, and not confined to Levites only. Middot Arakhin 2.4 indicates that some of these were from the families of Emmaus, another name for Bethel. The musical instruments were kept in a special underground chamber that opened to the Court of Women. We can imagine that when the Levites sang on the steps, the players on harps, trumpets and lyres, stood next to them in front of the Music Chamber.
This Chamber of Music is mentioned in Middot 2:6, “And there were chambers under the Court of Israel, which opened into the Court of the Women, where the Levites played upon harps and lyres and the cymbals and all instruments of music”. I previously speculated that some remains of this music chamber may have survived the Roman destruction of 70 CE.
So, let us examine the archaeological information.
The three openings had already been noticed in the 19th century by Conrad Schick and Warren. Warren noted that there was a hollow space behind the wall, and called it the Cell of Bostam. The name ‘Bostam’ appears to be a corruption of ‘bustan’, a group of trees and vegetation that grew here and which can be seen in some Crusader illustrations. Warren wrote that “in 1881 an attempt was made to obtain permission to open this doorway and explore the unknown cells and vaults. This was not only refused, but a large heap of earth was soon after piled in front of the closed doorway.”
For interest’s sake, the structure called Cell of Kashan to the south of the Raised Platform, has a cistern. Schick noted that over this cistern (2 on the plan), the Kashan Mosque, which has long been demolished, once stood.
Below is a plan showing the location of the Court of the Women on the present day Temple Mount, followed by updated archaeological evidence we presented in our previous blog.
Next, I made an accurate elevation of the ancient stones in the eastern wall of the Raised Platform, showing the ancient stones at the northeast corner, and further to the south, the visible masonry on the sides of the previously mentioned arches.
To check if this discovery agreed with the description in Middot, I compared the location of this triple entrance with a reconstruction drawing I had made of the Court of the Women for a model I had designed many years ago.
After superimposing the newly discovered masonry on this drawing, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the central opening was exactly where I had drawn it earlier.
Putting this information together, I was able to draw a reconstruction of the Court of the Women and the Music Chamber, or Music Room. To the left (south) of the Court of the Women was the Chamber of the House of Oil, and on the right (north) was the Chamber of the Lepers.
Behind the Levitical choir is the Nicanor Gate, and the Temple towered in the background. The musicians that stood in front of the Music Chamber have now been added to a previous drawing of the Temple Courts.
It must have been very impressive to hear the choir, accompanied by the musicians playing on their instruments, praising God. They sang different Psalms each day, and on the Shabbat they sang Psalm 92, “It is good to give thanks unto the Lord”.
Now, of course, we can praise God wherever we like, at home or in a congregation, but it is good to remember that acceptable worship was first instituted by King David who wrote the Psalms, which were sung in the subsequent Temples of Jerusalem.
 Gibson, S. and Jacobson, D.M., Below the Temple Mount in Jerusalem (1996).
 Warren, Ch. and Conder, C.R., Survey of Western Palestine, Jerusalem Volume (Vol. 2), (1884, 219).
 Schick, C., Beit el Makdas oder der alte Tempelplatz zu Jerusalem; wir er jetzt ist. (1887, 86)
Could this be the remnant of the gate to the southern underground Music Room?
Here is my translation of an article written on the 4th of October 2020 by Arnon Segal for the Makor Rishon Hebrew newspaper with additional comments and illustrations.
“In the eastern wall of the Raised Platform on which the Nikanor Gate stood during the days of the Temple, two arches were recently discovered that had been blocked at some point. Where did they lead to and who built them? And does this have anything to do with the holiday of Sukkot?”
“The eastern wall of the Raised Platform that supports the plaza around the Dome of the Rock, is closely connected with Sukkot (the Feast of Tabernacles, or Booths). According to the Jewish tradition that places the Holy of Holies in the center of the Dome of the Rock, the Nicanor Gate stood on this wall during the days of the Temple. The staircase that descends from it today numbers 25 steps, but originally there were only 15 steps. On the feast of Beit Hashoeva (the Water Drawing ceremony) on the feast of Sukkot, when they went down to draw water from the Pool of Siloam, the Levites stood on these steps and sang the 15 songs of the degrees in the Book of Psalms.”
“This wall is oriented in an almost precise north-south line (a half-degree deviation that may be explained by a certain change in the magnetic north for thousands of years), just as the Temple itself was oriented according to precise astronomical directions. This eastern wall preserves a memory of the most significant difference in height on the ancient Temple Mount, namely that which separated the higher Court of Israel from the lower Court of the Women.”
“In recent weeks, Dr. Eli David has noticed two blocked arches on this wall, which as far as is known, are not mentioned in the research literature of the Temple Mount from the 19th century. There seemed to be a passage here that had been blocked at some time in the past. Archaeologist Dr. Leen Ritmeyer, who has been researching the Temple Mount since the 1970s, also did not know these arches, but has now speculated that they were built during the Crusader period or even earlier.”
“According to Ritmeyer, the plaza round the Dome of the Rock was probably founded in the seventh or eighth century AD for the purpose of supporting the Dome of the Rock. And yet, it probably also incorporates much older components. At the northern end of this wall there are three courses of ancient construction that also extend along the northern wall of the Raised Platform. In his hypothesis it is possible that this corner served as an end to the soreg which marked the area beyond which foreigners and the unclean were forbidden to enter.”
“At the southern end of the eastern wall, there are indications of the existence of additional underground spaces that have been sealed off. In the mid-19th century, the British expedition officer Charles Warren asked permission to explore this space, but the very next day a pile of earth was placed in front of the opening that prevented it, a pile that was later replaced by a stone blocking wall. According to Ritmeyer’s calculations, this was the place of the Chamber of Hewn Stone where the Sanhedrin used to hold court sessions.”
“And this wall has a few more things to tell us. At one point in the wall, north of the stairway, two large stones remain at the base of the wall, which Ritmeyer speculates may have been from the time of Herod and may have served as part of the retaining wall of the Court of the Women.”
“Going back to the blocked arch openings located by Dr. Eli David, Ritmeyer points out that on the sides of these two arches two large stones can be seen that seem to belong to a triple opening. According to Ritmeyer, it is difficult to date the exact style of construction, but in his opinion, these are stones are similar to the ancient stone courses mentioned before, which are located at the northeast corner of the eastern wall. In his estimation, the opening may be from the Crusader period or even earlier. “These architectural remains show that there is still much to explore and discover,” Ritmeyer admits, “not only around the outer walls of the Herodian Temple Mount, but also on the Temple Mount plaza itself.”
“Even if Dr. Ritmeyer assumes that the arches are from the Crusader period, they may have served as an opening to a much earlier underground space. When was it created and by whom?”
“It is not clear, but perhaps one should recall the words of Tractate Middot (2:6) regarding this very place, which indicates that this is the place where the musical instruments of the Temple were stored:
“And there were chambers under the Court of Israel, which opened to the Court of the Women, where the Levites played upon harps and lyres and the cymbals and all instruments of music”. At the Simchat Beit Hashoeva (the rejoicing of the Water Ceremony) that took place on the holiday nights, they played loudly.”
I find it very exciting to speculate that some remains of the entrance to this Music Room may have survived the Roman destruction of 70 AD. It is of special importance that this discovery was made during the days of Sukkot.
Music played an important role during the Feasts of Israel, especially during the present days of Sukkot. Trumpets were used to announce Rosh Hashanah, the beginning of the civil New Year, which fell on the 19th of August 2020. On the 10th of Tishrei, which was the 29th of September, was Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. During a Jubilee year, the trumpet of the Jubilee was sounded on the tenth day of the seventh month; on the Day of Atonement you shall make the trumpet to sound throughout all your land. And you shall consecrate the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a Jubilee for you; and each of you shall return to his possession, and each of you shall return to his family (Leviticus 25:9,10).
Every morning of Sukkot at daybreak, a group of Levites and priests went down to the Siloam Pool, which is located south of the Temple Mount, and drew three log (a Talmudic liquid measurement) of fresh water to be poured on the altar after the daily morning sacrifice. Their arrival at the Temple with the water was accompanied by trumpet blasts. (For Shabbat, the water was collected before the onset of Shabbat and stored in a golden vessel in the Temple.) It says in the Talmud: He who has not seen the Water-Drawing Celebration has never seen joy in his life.
Jesus used this act to draw the attention of the spectators to this ceremony when he said in John 7.37–39: “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.”
So reads the headline in an Israeli newspaper reporting on an interview about the Temple Mount.
On the 11th of this month, I guided a group of Israeli visitors around the Temple Mount. All of them were highly interested in the Temple Mount for various reasons, some nationalistic and others religious. At the end of the tour, we had lunch together and a journalist interviewed me. His full-page report, with the above title, was published in the Hebrew Makor Rishon newspaper.
You can download the translation of this article with this link:
Their main interest was the location of the Temple and the Ark of the Covenant. And as we couldn’t enter the Dome of the Rock, I showed them an old photograph showing the indentation that King Solomon made for the Ark of the Covenant (1 Kings 8.21)
They were also very interested in the underground spaces beneath the mount and published in the newspaper a photograph of a tunnel that was found below the Triple Gate passageway. It was such a peaceful time in the 1970’s, that we had free access to these mysterious places. It was a real privilege to have seen, measured and photographed these spaces, something that would not be possible at present.
During that time, other tunnels were found running deep below the Double Gate. All these tunnels were closed off after thorough investigation.
In between the Triple Gate and the southeast corner of the Temple Mount, below the Single Gate that dates from the Crusader period, is another secret tunnel that runs below Solomon’s Stables, that has been converted to a mosque, the El-Marwani Mosque. This tunnel reached to the centre of the Royal Stoa above and may have been used by the workmen who built this edifice.
Afterwards we talked about the significance of the Temple Mount for Israeli and non-Jewish people alike. For one of the group, the Temple Mount was of nationalistic importance. He had come from Persia, but the reason was to get to know Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, without which, according to him, Israel had no significance.
Another religious Jew said that he couldn’t keep the Mosaic Law without the Temple Mount. I had to agree and said:
“If I were a Jew, I would like to sacrifice the Passover sacrifice on the Temple Mount. Jerusalem has no meaning without the Temple Mount. When I arrived in Israel in 1969, we lived in Gat Rimmon and rented a house from Russian immigrants who had lived in Israel for decades but never visited Jerusalem. I found that hard to understand. Why did you return here if not for Jerusalem and the Temple Mount?”
They wanted to know what, apart from its archaeological importance, the Temple Mount meant for me as a Christian. I answered that Mount Moriah was the place where Abraham was called to sacrifice his only-begotten son Isaac, which, as explained in the Letter to the Hebrews 11:19, was an example of the sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Interview with Eve Harow on her Rejuvenation program
Last week, Kathleen and I were in Jerusalem for the Shiloh Excavations which are directed by Dr. Scott Stripling. On one of the afternoons, Eve Harow of the Rejuvenation programme for The Land of Israel Network interviewed me.
Leen Ritmeyer’s extraordinary journey from Holland to the Temple Mount- and beyond -has defined his life and contributed immensely to ours. He speaks with Eve about the field of Biblical Architecture; how the study of ancient structures in the Land of Israel and Near East enhances our comprehension of history, archeology, the Bible and mankind’s connection to God. He has made an indelible mark in particular on our understanding of Temple Mount transformations thru the millennia and continues to interpret and redefine discoveries both recent and past. This Dutchman is still flying. Listen and learn.
If you have the patience, you can listen to this hour-long interview here: