The Temple in Jerusalem was not located over the Dome of the Rock:

Solomon built the temple on the threshing floor David bought. The Dome of the rock is the highest point of the temple mount. Threshing floors were never built on hills, but in curved valleys, like directly under the Al Kas Fountain. Under the dome of the Rock, was where the Fortress of Antonia stood. In 135 AD, Hadrian filled in about 50 feet of earth over top of where the temple stood and enlarged the temple mount and built a temple of Jupiter where we see the Dome of the rock today. In 325 AD Contanstine tore down the Temple of Jupiter and assumed Hadrian built the temple of Jupiter on top of the spot where the temple of Solomon once stood. Constantine built an octagon church on the site. In 700 AD the Muslims found the foundations of Constanine's octagon church and built the dome of the Rock we see today.

Introduction:

  1. The most popular view is that the temple was located over the Dome of the Rock.
  2. Leen Ritmeyer in 1994 used a small rectangular shaped hollow carved out of the Dome of the Rock as the actual resting place for the Ark of the Covenant.
  3. Joseph Patrich in 2007 placed the temple to line up with "cistern 3" and "cistern 5" in the 1864 AD map by Charles Wilson and Charles Warren. This of course, gives the temple a noticeable south east orientation at "9 north of west". With the input of Leen Ritmeyer, Patrich moved the temple east so that half of the "Rock" was outside the temple.
  4. We are not sure if Leen Ritmeyer has abandoned his 1994 AD theory or if he believes Patrich's new theory is more likely.
  5. Both theories of Ritmeyer and Patrich are based upon rather random superficial features since one can find almost any angle as a reference point for some reason on the Temple mount. Ritmeyer focused on a small rectangular carved out chunk of the Rock (under the Dome) and Patrich focused on the "9 north of west" of cisterns 3 & 5 to orient the temple. Both theories could have been deduced with the Wilson/Warren map, a good photograph of the "Rock" under the dome, a kitchen table and a bit of speculative imagination.
  6. Kaufman notes all these angles in his 1983 AD theory that the temple was located over the Dome of the Tablets. Joseph Patrich's "new theory" is based upon little more than recycled speculation that could be deduces by little more than looking at "cistern 3" on Wilson's and Warren's 1864 AD map, combined with Kaufman's 1983 AD angle calculations.
  7. It is likely that none of the current visible features of the Temple Mount relate in any way to the Herodian temple, since we know that the current temple mount is about 50 feet higher than it was in Jesus' day. Looking at the 1864 AD field notes of Charles Wilson and Charles Warren, we can see that none of the "cisterns" were deeper than 50 feet, except for cisterns 7 and 11, which were 60 feet deep. If we remove this 50 feet, none of the current cisterns existed in Jesus time, but were built after the destruction of Jerusalem.

A. Charles Wilson's work in 1864 AD:

  1. Charles Wilson was able to do much work on the temple mount and map caverns, cisterns and caves.
  2. See more: 1864 AD field notes of Charles Wilson and Charles Warren
  3. Here is the plan of Charles Warren and Charles Wilson:
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  4. Their drawing of the Dome of the Rock in 1864 AD:
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B. Joseph Patrich's theory:

  1. Joseph Patrich of Hebrew University announced in February 2007, a modified "south east diagonal position" was announced for the Temple located over the Dome of the Rock.
  2. The new non-east orientation of the Holy of Holies was based upon maps of ancient cisterns below the present Temple Mount platform drawn by Sir Charles Wilson 1866 AD and descriptions in the Jewish Mishnah, the rabbinical oral tradition compiled in the 3rd century A.D.
  3. This new theory is based upon a cistern located near the southeast corner of the Temple Mount, has an unusual orientation with dimensions of about 15 feet wide x 170 feet long x 45 feet deep with branches extending north and south. Joseph Patrich said, "Until now no one has ever thought that the location of the cistern on the Temple Mount and its unique shape were derived from the shape and location of the altar and sanctuary." The theory is also based upon the Mishnah description of how the priests would ceremonially cleanse themselves with water before working at the alter of burnt offerings. The Mishnah says that water wheel was used to transfer water from a cistern into a laver where the priests would wash themselves according to the law of Moses.

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C. Leen Ritmeyer's 1984 AD theory: "that rectangular carved depression"
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  1. Notice the small (red on map) rectangular shape in the Rock. Ritmeyer believes this carved out hollow is a remnant of where the Ark of the Covenant was placed. Ritmeyer moved the footprint of the temple to make this rectangle cut out to be dead center in the Holy of Holies, but outside the footprint of the Dome of the Rock.
  2. Ritmeyer admits that the Crusaders mutilated the rock in 1099 AD and placed a marble floor on it. Ritmeyer reasons that the crusaders would not trouble themselves to carve out this rectangular depression if they were going to cover it up with a marble floor. Its the same reasoning as to why we do not put three coats of decorator paint on walls we intend to immediately wallpaper over. But while this explanation fits, it is highly speculative and uncertain.
  3. But before the Crusaders laid the floor, Ritmeyer admits they also dug out caves underneath, the covered the cave openings with a floor. During this rather extensive "construction" the Crusaders could have carved out the rectangular section as a temporarily place for a "statue" that was out of the way of "construction zone", but still on the rock. This is equally speculative and uncertain but it also works.
  4. Then of course, we have no way of knowing if the early Muslims carved out this rectangular section when Caliph Abd al-Malik built the dome of the rock in 687 AD. After all the rock marks the very spot where Muhammad made his Miraaj (Night Journey) into heaven (Qur'an 17:1). This Islamic myth, (Muhammad was never actually physically in Jerusalem) recorded in the Qur'an 50 years after Muhammad died, may have been why they carved out the rectangular section. Perhaps it was just a block of rock set in place as a seat where Islamic pilgrims could sit to meditate while viewing the exact center portion of the rock where Muhammad "launched into heaven from". This nicely explains why the carved depression was not in the center, but off to one side.
  5. We feel that a better and more likely explanation of this small (red on map) rectangular carved shape in the Rock is off center is because it was carved by those who built the temple of Jupiter under the oversight of Hadrian in 135 AD. Tuvia Sagiv believes that both the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa mosque were built on the remnants of the temple of Jupiter which the Muslims wrongly assumed were the Jewish Temple. If the Dome was the former site of the Temple of Jupiter, you would expect the idol to be set up near the rear of the room and center, and this is exactly what we see today. Notice that the north/south center line lines up the Dome of the Rock, the rectangular carved shape in the rock, with the Al-Aqsa mosque. You can draw a line through the dome and the Al-Aqsa mosque and it exactly hits the small (red on map) rectangular carved shape in the Rock.
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Leen Ritmeyer's view explained:

(Excerpt from: Randall Price, The Stones Cry Out)

Has Archaeology Found the Place of the Ark?

Ever since the Babylonian captivity 2,500 years ago, the exact location of the Ark has been unknown. Although rumors persist that the Ark of the Covenant has been located here or there, no archaeological evidence has been produced to substantiate any of the claims. However, we may now be able to figure out where the Ark once rested within the ancient Holy of Holies. If, as we saw in the previous chapter, it is possible to deduce the location of the Temple building and its Holy of Holies, then it might be possible to locate where the Ark once was placed within this structure. According to ancient sources such as Josephus and the Mishnah tractate Middot, the Ark had rested on a bedrock platform. In Jewish tradition, this platform was called `Even Ha-Shetiyah ("the Foundation Stone"), and in Arabic, es-Sakhra ("the Rock"). According to research done by Leen Ritmeyer, former chief architect of the Temple Mount excavations and today director of Ritmeyer Archaeological Design in England, the huge rock within the present-day Islamic Dome of the Rock has to be the bedrock platform within the Holy of Holies. Ritmeyer explains how he came to this determination:

"It took me 20 years to figure it out. I was convinced that the Temple must have stood here somewhere. I started to look at the measurements of the Rock and the interior measurements of the Temple. We know that the interior measurements of the Temple were 20 cubits wide. The Holy [Place] was 40 cubits long and the Holy of Holies was 20 by 20 cubits. If you use the measurements of the 500 cubits measurements from the Mishnah it would measure 10.5 meters [34 feet] thereabouts. Comparing that with the size of the Rock, the Rock is larger than the Holy of Holies. Yet, the Mishnah [Yoma 5:2] says that this stone is called `Even Ha-Shetiyah, "the Foundation Stone." Why would they call it the Foundation Stone? Because if the Holy of Holies was smaller than the Rock, then the Rock would have served as a foundation for at least one of the Tem-ples. With that information in mind, I started looking closer at the Rock for a foundation." (Transcript from annual meeting of the Near Eastern Archeological society, Nov 20, 1996, Jacksonville, Miss.)

Ritmeyer's look at the Rock began first by eliminating the signs of Crusader quarrying on the Rock, which in A.D. 1099 had been captured from the Muslims and converted into a Christian church called Templum Domini ("the Temple of the Lord"). He attributed cuts in the Rock on the north, south, and west sides to their actions. The Crusaders thought that the rock disfigured the Temple of the Lord and shaped it into what they believed was a more acceptable size, then built an altar on top of the Rock. In 1187, when the caliph Saladin recaptured the Dome of the Rock for the Muslims, they found it covered with marble slabs. Upon removing the slabs they found that the Rock had been mutilated. This mutilation included the enlarging of a cave and some deep tunnels dug beneath the Rock, which may indicate that the Crusaders were trying to locate the suspected hiding place of the Ark. The natural cave below the Rock was identified by them as the Holy of Holies, where they commemorated the angel's visit to Zacharias. They enlarged this cave in order to use it as a sanctuary, and because they burned candles and incense in the cave, it was necessary for them to cut a vertical shaft for ventilation (this formed the present hole in the Rock).

Thus, before the Crusaders disfigured the Rock, the upper level would have been larger and flatter. Ritmeyer then measured the flat areas in the southern part of the Rock, which he identified as foundation trenches. Their combined dimensions agreed perfectly with the known thickness of the walls of the Second Temple (6 cubits or 10 feet and 4 inches). This foundation trench revealed the location of the southern wall of the Holy of Holies. The back wall would then have rested against the unchangeable natural rockscarp to the west. The northern wall would have been adjacent to the northern end of the Rock itself. This placement of the walls also agreed with Ritmeyer's earlier calculations about the placement of the original Temple platform. He found that the direction of the western scarp was virtually identical to that of the steps, which he had identified previously, and the eastern wall of the Temple Mount. So, the First and Second Temples would have had the same orientation -the longitudinal axis of the Temple at right angles with the eastern wall. This axis is also aligned with the highest point on the Mount of Olives, where the sacrifice of the red heifer (necessary for ritual purification-Numbers 19) took place. This became a further confirmation to Ritmeyer of his location of the Temple.

The Site of the Ark Discovered

Having identified these structures, Ritmeyer began looking for additional clues to position the Holy of Holies. He tells the story of how this identification was first realized:

"Once I began to research this problem in the Spring of 1994, the secrets of the Sakhra revealed themselves to me in such rapid succession that it was sometimes breathtaking. While flying to Israel, 30,000 feet high in the air, I got my first glimpse of the most spectacular of all the discoveries, namely that of the former location of the Ark of the Covenant! Averting my gaze from the in-flight video, I took out a large photograph of the Sakhra from my briefcase and tried to trace again those flat areas, which, of course, were familiar to me as foundation trenches.... I sketched over the flat areas on the photograph of the Sakhra the line of the southern wall of the Holy of Holies....I drew the western edge of the Rock and the northern wall at the northern end of the exposed rock.... I also drew a dotted line where the veil, which separated the Holy of Holies from the Holy [Place], would have hung. I did not expect to find any remains as no wall had existed there. I then suddenly noticed in the middle of this square a dark rectangle! What could it be? The first thing that came to mind was, of course, the [place of the] Ark of the Covenant, which once stood in the centre of the Holy of Holies in Solomon's Temple. But that surely could not be true, I thought.... [However,] according to my plan, it falls exactly in the centre of the Holy of Holies. The dimensions of this level basin agree with those of the Ark of the Covenant, which were 1.5 x 2.5 cubits (2'7" x 4'4" or 79 cm. x 131 cm.), with the longitudinal axis coinciding with that of the Temple. Its location is rather unique, as it could only have been the place where the Ark of the Covenant once stood. It is clear that without such a flat area the Ark would have wobbled about in an undignified manner, which would not conceivably have been allowed." (Leen Ritmeyer, The temple and the Rock, 1996, p24, 24, 41)

According to Ritmeyer, then, this depression in the Rock served as a base to secure the Ark within the Holy of Holies. It could not have been created by the Crusaders because they covered the Rock with slabs to hide it, and would have placed a statue (in such a base) in the middle of the Rock, not at the north of the Rock (where the depression would have been at that time). (cf. Leen Ritmeyer, The Ark of the Covenant, where it stood in Solomon's temple, Biblical Archeological Review Jan/Feb 1996; Leen Ritmeyer, Locating the Original Temple Mount, Biblical Archeological Review Mar/Apr 1992)

We can summarize Ritmeyer's research in the accompanying diagram, which he drew. Litmeyer was invited to comment on his error in the compass bearing on his drawing, but never replied.

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It depicts a north-south section through the Herodian Temple Mount and its Courts in relation to the present-day Dome of the Rock. One can see the original bedrock designated "Sakhra," which was the highest point on Mount Moriah-where Abraham had offered Isaac and the Angel of the Lord had stood in the days of King David. Inside is the natural cave from Solomon's time; the western scarp of which is where the western wall would have been built. The floor of the Holy of Holies has an indented area where the Ark of the Covenant would have been placed in Solomon's Temple. While it's impossible to archaeologically investigate the Rock to confirm Ritmeyer's conclusions, if he is correct, we now have for the first time identified the site of the Holy of Holies and of the former location of the Ark of the Covenant itself. In this case, the stone of stones has shouted with evidence that the Ark existed! (Randall Price, The Stones Cry Out, 1997, p211-217)

Conclusion:

  1. Hadrian did such a good job of hiding the temple mount, it is still hidden to this day.
  2. The Dome of the rock is the highest point of the temple mount. Threshing floors were never built on hills, but in curved valleys, like directly under the Al Kas Fountain.
  3. Under the dome of the Rock, was where the Fortress of Antonia stood.
  4. In 135 AD, Hadrian filled in about 50 feet of earth over top of where the temple stood and enlarged the temple mount and built a temple of Jupiter where we see the Dome of the rock today. In 325 AD Contanstine tore down the Temple of Jupiter and assumed Hadrian built the temple of Jupiter on top of the spot where the temple of Solomon once stood.
  5. Constantine built an octagon church on the site. In 700 AD the Muslims found the foundations of Constanine's octagon church and built the dome of the Rock we see today.

 

 

  

  

By Steve Rudd: Contact the author for comments, input or corrections.

 

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