On the basis of the difference in the levels between the Hulda and Ciponus Gates as noted by the Mishna and Josephus, the current temple level must be lowered by 11 to 16 meters.
When you are standing beside the wailing wall where the Jews pray, you can look 17 meters (55 feet) down these excavated shafts revealing the original level of the area.
- According to the description in the Mishna and Josephus, 39 steps led up from the main court gates to the level of the temple. The distance between these two levels was 22 "cubit" which equals approximately 10 to 13 meters:
+6 cubits between the Women's Court and the Israeli Court
+7.5 cubits between the Women's Court and the Israeli Court
+ 2.5 cubits between the Israeli Court and the Priest's Court
+ 6 cubits between the Priest's Court and the level of the temple
= 22 Cubits or 10-13 meters (Medot, Ch. 2 Par. 5-6)
- There is no indication of any tunnels as you enter by the southern wall: "Now, in the western quarter of the enclosures of the temple there were four gates; the first led to the king's palace, and went to a passage over the intermediate valley; two more led to the suburbs of the city; and the last led to the other city, where the road descended down into the valley by a great number of steps, and thence up again by the ascent; for the city lay over against the temple in the manner of a theatre, and was encompassed with a deep valley along the entire south quarter; (411) but the fourth front of the temple, which was southward, had indeed itself gates in its middle, as also it had the royal cloisters, with three walks, which reached in length from the east valley unto that on the west, for it was impossible it should reach any farther" (Josephus, Ant 15.410-411)
- Architecturally, the arched and vaulted tunnels which exist today, leading from the Double and Triple Hulda Gates at the Al-Aqsa mosque are clearly built by Hadrian in 135 AD.
- This means that we have to lower the level of the Temple Mount by at least 11 to 16 meters from the currently existing court level.
By Steve Rudd: Contact the author for comments, input or corrections.
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