The Temple Mount in the City of David
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DESCRIPTIONThe article presents the ancient authenticating descriptions which show the temple stood on Mount Zion (the southeastern hill), in the lower part of the city (the southeastern hill), in the southern part of the city (the southeastern hill), at its center, over the Gihon Spring, also described as in the center of the city. All these descriptions eliminate the alleged northerly extension to the city where the current traditional temple mount stands.
The Temple Mount in the City of David: Ancient Authenticating Descriptions by Marilyn Sams
The Temple Mount in the City of David: Ancient Authenticating Descriptions by Marilyn Sams Ancient descriptions of the Jerusalem Temple Mount are incompatible with the current identification and location of it in Jerusalem, which is a long-standing tradition only, entirely dependent on the undocumented proposition that during the time of David or Solomon the northern walls of the City of David/Jerusalem were broken down to append a large northerly extension for the temple and acropolis. Instead, ancient descriptions of the boundaries of the City of David/Jerusalem delimit it to the southeastern hill, with no northerly extension added. The northern wall of the City of David/Jerusalem was still in place during the siege of Pompey in 60 B.C. (Antiquities XIV, 4, 57). In 1909-1910, Parker and Vincent discovered archaeological remains dated to 3000 B.C. in the Gihon Spring area, affirming the southeastern hill was the original site of the ancient habitations chronicled in the Bible and history (Reich, 2011). In War VI, 10, 438, Josephus mentions an early king of Jerusalem, a contemporary of Abraham: But he who first built it was a potent man among the Canaanites, and is in our own tongue called [Melchizedek], the Righteous King, for such he really was; on which account he was [there] the first priest of God, and first built a temple [there], and called the city Jerusalem, which was formerly called Salem. Another reference in Josephus states the city was called Solyma, but afterwards they named it Hiersolyma, calling the temple (hieron) Solyma, which, in the Hebrew tongue means security (Antiquities VII, 3, 67, Loeb translation). The translation of this passage indicates an amalgamation of the citys former name (Salem) and the word for temple to create the new name Hierosolyma or Jerusalem, because of the temple there. Modern archaeologists Ronny Reich and Eli Shukron uncovered mammoth remains from the Middle Bronze Age II (possibly the era of Melchizedek) in the area of the Gihon Spring. These include the Spring Tower surrounding the Gihon Spring, the Pool Tower guarding the Rock-cut Pool adjacent to it, and the Fortified Passage, which consists of two massive walls forming a path from the Spring and Rock-cut Pool and heading toward the ridge at the top of the slope. These fortifications protected citizens while accessing their major water supply. Reich surmised there was an important fortress at the top of the ridge (Reich, 2011). Since this will be shown to be where Solomons temple stood, it also qualifies as the likeliest place for Melchizedeks temple.Fig. 1. Artists Conception of the Spring Tower, Pool Tower, and Fortified Passage
Fig. 1. The figure shows an artists conception of the Spring Tower, Pool Tower, and Fortified Passage, dated to the Middle Bronze Age II, possibly in the time of Melchizedek. Note the installations are lying out in the Kidron Valley, matching later descriptions for the position of the temple foundations. [Deror Avi, Wikimedia]The Uru Salem of Abdi-Heba, in the 14th century B.C. and the later city of Jebus also occupied the southeastern hill (Van der Veen, 2013).[endnoteRef:1] In the 10th century B.C., after David conquered Jebus, both he and Solomon repaired the existing walls and made them higher and stronger and Solomon may have built new walls, but there is no description of any walls having been broken down, nor of any large northerly extension (Antiquities VII, 3, 66; Antiquities VII, 2, 21). Hence, the boundaries of Davids and Solomons City of David/ Jerusalem were limited to the southeastern hill. In Antiquities VII, 3, 66, Josephus states that David made buildings around the lower city, which would be defined in this era as the lower half of the southeastern hill and is called in this article the City of David, because David resided in this area, which was probably bounded on the north by Kathleen Kenyons Area H excavations at the bottleneck. The northeastern corner of the City of David/Jerusalem (or the Sheep Gate) probably stood where the southeastern corner of the traditional temple mount stands, or possibly 105 feet north, at the seam on the east wall. Fig. 2. Boundaries for the City of David/Jerusalem [1: The dates of the components are disputed among archaeologists, but Cahill & Tarler (1994) dated the whole structure to the end of the Late Bronze Age and the beginning of Iron Age I.]
Area HSpringgCity of David Fig. 2. The City of David is identified in this article as the lower half of the southeastern hill, with its northern boundary at the bottleneck (Area H). The City of David/Jerusalem occupied the whole crescent-shaped southeastern hill. The map outlines the ridge area, but the walls were further down the slopes. A northerly extension did not begin, as illustrated here, until about 134 B.C. when John Hyrcanus built the Baris, which was expanded to become the 36-acre walled area (indicated by the dotted line). To understand there was no northerly appendage added to the southeastern hill, one must start with later descriptions of the City of David/Jerusalem and work back. Although the city had spread to the western hill in Hezekiahs reign, it shrunk back to the southeastern hill during the Persian era. Even after its subsequent re-expansion, the Letter of Aristeas describes the City of David/Jerusalem as having its towers arranged in the manner of a theater; Tacitus describes its walls as bending inwards (Histories 5.11, as cited in Dissertation 3); Josephus said it had the shape of the moon when she is horned (War V, 5, 137); and the Venerable Bede compared it to an arc,[endnoteRef:2] each description of the city referring to the crescent shape of the southeastern hill, without any northerly extension appended. In Antiquities XV, 11, 410, Josephus again uses in the manner of a theater to describe the temple lying near to the city, adding that its southern quarter was bounded by a deep valley, both descriptions which refer to the southeastern hill lying against the western hill in the lower Tyropoeon Valley, with the Hinnom and Kidron Valleys on the south and southeast. In addition, Antiquities XV, 11, 397 says: "The hill [of the temple plaza foundations] was a rocky ascent, that declined by degrees towards the east parts of the city, until it came to an elevated level. This eliminates the traditional site of the temple mount, since there never has been a city built on its east side, as was the case with the temple mount described by Josephus. Several descriptions locating the temple on the southeastern hill derive from its being the lowest mountain in Jerusalem. The Venerable Bede noted the temple [ruins] were located in the lower part of the city in the vicinity of the wall from the east, Eudocias 5th century city wall on the east of the southeastern hill.[endnoteRef:3] In Special Laws I.XIII.73, Philo of Alexandria gave a similar topographical description that the temple being very large and very lofty, although built in a very low situationis not inferior to any of the greatest mountains around.[endnoteRef:4] In his letter to Faustus, Eucherius (5th Century C.E.), the Bishop of Lyons, said: The Temple, which was situated in the lower city near the eastern wall, was once a world wonder, but of its ruins there stands today only the pinnacle of one wall, and the rest are destroyed down to their foundations.[endnoteRef:5] Further, the Cairo Geniza documents explain that when Omar granted permission to seventy households of Jews to return to Jerusalem, they requested to be near the site of the temple and the water of Shiloah, in the southern section of the city.[endnoteRef:6] The accounts of the temple ruins standing in the lower city or the temple being built in a low situation or in the south are consistent with Josephuss descriptions of the temple foundations of the east wall being built deep within the Kidron Valley,[endnoteRef:7] not upslope as is the case with the traditional temple mount. In fact, in Josippon ben Gorions version of War, he says that from the top of the temples east wall, the water in the Kidron Brook could be seen running at one cubits distance from the wall. Fig. 4. The Curve of the Southeastern Crescent-Shaped Hill [2: As noted in De Loctis Sanctis (A. vander Nat, Trans.). ] [3: As noted in De Loctis Sanctis (A. vander Nat, Trans.). ] [4: Retr