On The Location of the by Lambert Dolphin and Michael Kollen
First and Second Temples in Jerusalem
of our sins we were exiled from our country and banished from our land.
We cannot go up as pilgrims to worship Thee, to perform our duties in
Thy chosen house, the great and Holy Temple which was called by Thy
name, on account of the hand that was let loose on Thy sanctuary. May
it be Thy will, Lord our God and God of our fathers, merciful King, in
Thy abundant love again to have mercy on us and on Thy sanctuary;
rebuild it speedily and magnify its glory. (The Jewish Prayer Book)
View of the Temple Mount looking towards the southeast.
the right, at the top, is the gray dome of Al Aqsa Mosque. The far
right hand edge of the photo shows the Western Wall (the Kotel), the
Jewish prayer area. The Dome of the Rock is especially beautiful
because of the recent addition of new gold leaf to the anodized
aluminum dome. The traditional location of the First and Second Temples
lies in the immediate vicinity of the Dome of the Rock. The proposed
Northern site for the Temples is just to the left at the stairs in the
bottom left of the photo. The southern Site for the Temples lies midway
between the Dome of the Rock and Al Aqsa mosque, under an Islamic
ablution fountain known as El Kas. The level of the bedrock of Mount
Moriah outcrops within the Dome of the Rock and is just beneath the
paving stones of the surrounding platform. However, to the south the
bedrock drops steeply towards the City of David and the junction of
Hinnom and Kidron Valleys.
The Temple Mount: Site of the Ancient Jewish TemplesThe
Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem measures today approximately
45 acres in extent. It is surrounded by a trapezoidal wall: The south
wall measures about 910 feet, the North about 1025, the east wall about
1520 and the west wall about 1580 feet in length. The average height
above sea level on the platform is about 2400 feet above sea level.
Most of the buildings and surface features are Islamic - no visible
traces of the First or Second Temples can be found on the platform
today. The area is park-like in its settings with plants of trees and
shrubs and many ancient buildings and monuments added over the past
1300 years of Moslem stewardship of the site.
platform area of the Temple Mount lies topographically just below the
peak of a Jerusalem ridge system known as Mount Moriah. This is the
site David purchased from a Jebusite named Ornan late in his reign.
King David prepared the area in order build a permanent House of God to
replace the Tabernacle of Moses which accompanied the Jews after their
Exodus from Egypt to the Promised Land. David had the plans drawn up
for a building whose dimensions were twice those of the Tabernacle, and
he amassed great quantities of building materials: stone, cedar, and
much gold and silver. However, it was his son Solomon who actually
built the First Jewish temple (1 Chronicles 22:14-15, 28:11-20).
The ridge system where the Temple Mount is now located is believed by
many reputable sources to be the site where Abraham was told to
sacrifice Isaac (Genesis 22:1-2). While Solomon built the First Temple
about 3000 years ago, Abraham's visit to Mt. Moriah was about a
thousand years earlier.
Consecrated GroundAccording to
Rabbinical sources both the First and Second Temples were built on the
same foundations, at the same location somewhere on the Temple Mount.
The site had to be consecrated ground that had not been previously used
for tombs and that was not a previous pagan worship site ("high
place"). The innermost sanctuary of the Temple, the Holy of Holies, or
Kodesh Hakodeshim, where the Ark of the Covenant was placed, marked the
exact center of the world, and was the innermost zone in holiness or
sanctity in Jewish thought. The manifest presence of God, the Shekinah,
was centered between the cherubim of the Ark and especially noted at
the dedication of the First Temple---
When Solomon had
ended his prayer, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt
offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the LORD filled the
temple. And the priests could not enter the house of the LORD, because
the glory of the LORD filled the LORD's house. When all the children of
Israel saw the fire come down and the glory of the LORD upon the
temple, they bowed down with their faces to the earth on the pavement,
and worshiped and gave thanks to the LORD, saying, "For he is good, for
his steadfast love endures for ever." (2 Chronicles 7:1-3)
Moving outwards from the Holy of Holies one came to The Holy Place, and
then to the Courts of the priests, and of the women and of the Jewish
people, then the Court of the Gentiles, and so on, out into the world
in decreasing degrees of holiness.
long history of the First and Second Temples is detailed both in the
Bible and in many extra-biblical sources. For more details on the
history of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount see the separate historical
essays listed on the main menu.
Both ancient Jewish Temples
are of interest to Christians as well as to Jews. The Second Temple was
modest in size and furnishing until Herod the Great began his grand
remodeling plans which continued for 40 years. It was in this enlarged
and expanded Second Jewish Temple and its grand courts where the naming
and circumcision of Jesus took place (Luke 2:21-39). Later, Jesus
astonished the religious leaders with his understanding and insight as
a twelve-year-old boy (Luke 2:41-50). On two separate occasions Jesus
entered and cleansed the temple by throwing out the money changers and
commercial vendors from the courts. (John 2:12-25; Matthew 21:23-26)
In one of his final discussions with his disciples (Matthew 24), Jesus
predicted the destruction of the Second Temple. It was in fact leveled
to the ground on the 9th day of the month of Av in 70 C.E. The temple
was thoroughly razed and the site has been so extensively modified
during the late Roman, Moslem and Crusader eras that considerable doubt
exists as to where the temples actually stood.
Map of the Temple Mount Today
Where did the Temple stand?Among
the numerous controversies about the Temple is the precise location of
the original. There are three primary conjectures under active
discussion in recent years. These three areas of interest on the Temple
Mount have been the focus of intense investigation, much debate and
discussion, and growing controversy. Behind many of these discussions
lie serious plans by a number of Orthodox Jewish groups for the
building of a Third Jewish Temple on the site when political conditions
will permit this.
The primary areas on the Temple Mount which
are seriously discussed in regard to the actual location of the First
and Second Jewish Temples are:
- North of the Dome of the Rock. Physicist Asher Kaufman proposed the Northern location.
- The present site of the Dome of
the Rock. This is the so-called "traditional location." There are two
variations on this model.
of the Dome of the Rock. Tuvia Sagiv, a Tel Aviv architect, has
proposed a Southern location for the Temples with extensive
documentation and research.
- The most southern site on the Temple Mount is presented by Norma Robertson, a retired teacher and Graphic Designer.
Aerial Photo of the Temple Mount Today
The Northern Placement of the Temples
1. The Northern Conjecture at the The Dome of the Spirits - Dr. Asher Kaufman
Based on a number of topological and archaeological considerations,
research by Dr. Asher Kaufman over the past two decades has
resulted in serious consideration being given to a site 330 feet to the
north of the Dome of the Rock.
The Mt. Moriah bedrock
outcrops within the Dome of Rock, as is well known. Although the
bedrock elevation drops sharply to the south in the direction of the
City of David, the level of the bedrock is just beneath the paving
stones for over 100 meters to the North of the Dome of the Rock shrine.
One particular level outcropping of this bedrock lies under a small
Islamic shrine known as "The Dome of the Tablets" or "The Dome of the
Spirits," to the Arabs. Both names suggest an association with the
Jewish Temples. It is under this small, unimpressive canopy supported
by pillars that Dr. Kaufman locates the Temple site. (2)
2. The Traditional Site Of the Dome of the Rock Theory The
traditional site of the Temple is said to lie beneath or very near to
the Moslem shrine known as the Dome of the Rock. Certain historical
accounts say that this building was built by the Moslems to overlay the
location of the original Jewish Temple(s) and most rabbis in Israel
today associate the original Temple location with this site. Dr. Leen
Ritmeyer has researched and written on the original 500 cubit square
boundaries of the original Temple Mount site based on this assumption.
Recent journal articles still support this view. (1)
Former Jerusalem District archaeologist Dr. Dan Bahat vigorously
defends the traditional location - drawing on his years of experience
and study of the entire city and its history. His lectures on the
subject are thorough, convincing and captivating. However, so also are
the alternative theories currently proposed!
Traditional Site of the Temples
The Southern Placement of the Temples
3. The El Kas Fountain Conjecture - Tuvia Sagiv
If Tuvia Sagiv is correct, the Temple site lies due east of the Western Wall,
under the clump of trees between the Dome of the Rock and Al Aqsa Mosque.
people who have been following these developments may not yet be aware
of a third view, which might well be called "the Southern Conjecture."
Since this model is less well known, it will be more fully described
here and on these web pages. This view has been championed in the past
five years by Tuvia Sagiv, a prominent Israeli architect.
There are a number of problems with each of the previously mentioned
locations. To fully appreciate some of the difficulties, it is
necessary to visualize the topography of the Temple Mount area.
Topographic Map of Jerusalem
(Contour interval 10 meters)
rises when going northward from the base of the City of David to
highest ground north of the Temple Mount area. (This is obscured on
site since the Temple Mount Platform itself is a large flat area
surrounded by retaining wall.) The southern end of the Platform is
actually built up on tall underground pillars and arches.
is at the top of the map. The Mount of Olives is on the far right,
Mount Zion on the left. Mount Moriah rises as a long ridge at the south
end of the City of David and continues on past the present Temple
Mount, and reaches its highest point outside the Northern walls of the
Old City, at the top of the map.
the east of the Temple Mount lies the Kidron Valley, and the Mount of
Olives. To the south, the City of David and the Hinnom Valley. To the
west, the famed Western Wall (called in earlier times the "Wailing
Wall"). To the north of the Temple site was the Roman military Antonia
Fortress, and then, further, the high ground outside the city walls,
which many believe was the site of Golgotha. The bedrock of Mt. Moriah
continues to rise to the north - outcroppings in the Northern wall
reveal road cuts that have been made in the bedrock at the North end of
the Old City outside the Damascus Gate and along the main road to the
east. The crest of Mt. Moriah is just above the present Garden Tomb.
Critical Issues in Locating the Temple Site:
one compiles all the known factors into a three-dimensional computer
model of the Temple Mount area, several problems emerge:
a. Where was the Antonia Fortress?
Ancient Jerusalem was protected on the east, south, and west by
valleys. The Antonia Fortress was located to the north to protect the
weaker north side of the city. (In fact, it was from the north that
Titus Vespasian breached the walls in his famous attack in 70 C.E.)
According to ancient sources, the fortress was on a hill about 25
meters high. The current El Omriah school building is on a rock only 5
meters high. From many stratigraphic and other considerations it is
doubted by some experts that his was the actual location of the Antonia
Fortress. Tuvia Sagiv's papers discuss the critical issue of the actual
location of the Fortress Antonia, which he believes was well to the
south, perhaps at the location of the Dome of the Rock.
b. The Location of the Ancient North Moat (the Fosse)
renderings show a deep, filled-in fosse (moat), north of the Temple
Mount, lying south of the Antonia Fortress, between the fortress and
the Temple Mount.
According to ancient sources, however, the
Antonia Fortress and the Temple Mount were adjacent to each other. The
moat should be to the north of the Tower for protection, placing the
Antonia about where the Dome of the Rock stands today! Asher Kaufman's
location of the Temples places the moat immediately to the North of the
spot where the Temples stood. In fact, Dan Bahat jokes that Kaufman's
temple would "fall into the moat!"
c. The Hulda Gates
Hulda Gates were the primary access to the Temple area from the south.
According to the Mishna, the difference in heights between the Hulda
Gates and the Holy of the Holies was approximately 10 meters, with
about 39 m between the entrance to the Temple mount and the level of
the Temple itself. The traditional Dome of the Rock proposals require
20 meters and 80 m separations.
The current assumptions
regarding Hulda Gate tunnels are not mentioned in the ancient sources.
The discrepancies suggest a lower, and therefore, more southerly,
location. Tuvia Sagiv in his essays discusses the problem of the
Southern Gates and their elevation with respect to the Temples.
d. The View from the North
Flavius describes the fact that the Bizita Hill (Golgotha?) was located
north of the Temple Mount and obscured the view of the Temple from the
If the Temple stood at the Dome of the Rock, it would be
visible from as far away as the town of Ramallah. In order to obscure
the view from the north, it would have to be at a lower level, that is,
to the south.
e. King Herod Agrippa's View of the Temple from the West
Josephus, in The Jewish Wars,
describes the fact that King Herod Agrippa could look out from his
Hasmonean Palace (at or near the present Citadel at the Jaffa Gate),
and view the sacrifices at the Azarah, at the altar of the Second
Temple. This incensed the Jews, who then built a wall extending the
height of the western rear wall of the Temple proper in order to block
the view. Roman soldiers, patrolling the western threshold - thus
unable to view the Azarah - demanded that the wall be demolished. The
Jews objected, and even obtained the consent of Emperor Nero to leave
the wall in place.
If the Temple were at the location of the
Dome of the Rock, it would have required a Palace tower height of 75
meters to view into the Azarah. There never was a building of such a
height in Jerusalem. This all implies a lower, more southern location
of the Temple.
f. The Jerusalem Water Aqueduct from the Judean Hills
water canals that supplied Jerusalem began in the area of the Hebron
mountains, passed through the Solomon's Pools near Bethlehem, and
flowed to Jerusalem. The lowest canal reached the Temple Mount through
the Jewish Quarter and the Wilson Bridge. According to the ancient
authorities, the water conduit supplied water to the High Priests'
mikveh (ritual bath) located above the Water Gate, and it also supplied
water for the rinsing of the blood off the Azarah. Portions of this
aqueduct are plainly visible to this day.
"Living water," that
is, fresh, flowing water, not water from a cistern, was required for
the ritual bath (mikveh) used by the temple priests, and for the
washings of the temple in connection with the sacrifices.
survey of the level of the aqueduct reveals that if the Temple had been
located at the same elevation as the present Dome of the Rock shrine,
the aqueduct would be over 20 meters too low to serve either the Azarah
or the Water Gate. From this survey, it appears that the Temple must
have been 20 meters lower, and, thus, to the south.
g. Electronic Measurements
ground penetrating radar probes by Tuvia Sagiv, while not conclusive,
suggest vaults, perhaps "kippim" (rabbinical arches), and other
structures which one would expect below the Temple, to the south. The
northern sites are virtually solid rock.
More recently Sagiv
has conducted thermal-infrared scanning of the walls and the platform.
During the day the sun heats the Temple Mount uniformly, but at night
the cooling (by conduction and radiation) is not uniform, thus
revealing subsurface anomalies. In the images shown below, "hotter"
areas are bright indicating massive foundations beneath the paving
stones. The radar and IR research is discussed in Sagiv's third paper, Penetrating Insights Into the Temple Mount.
Nighttime Thermal Infrared Imagery of the Dome of the Rock
black-and-white images taken from the original false-color IR scanner
images clearly reveal a pentagonal ancient foundation under the Dome.
These results are discussed by Tuvia Sagiv in his papers. h. Research into Later Roman Temple Architecture
the Bar Kochba revolt in 132 C.E., the Romans leveled the entire city
of Jerusalem and a built a Roman city, Aelia Capitolina, on the ruins.
To obliterate any Jewish presence on the Temple Mount, they built a
temple to Jupiter on the site.
A similar temple, built by the same builder at about the same time, has been discovered at Baalbek, Lebanon.
The Roman architectural practices of the time featured a rectangular
basilica, and a polygon structure opposite a courtyard. When this
architecture is overlaid on the Temple Mount, it matches the Al Aqsa
Mosque and the Dome of the Rock exactly.
architectural similarity suggests that the Roman Temple to Jupiter may
have been on this very site, converted for Christian purposes in the
4th Century, and then served as the foundation for the present Moslem
structures, the Al Aqsa Mosque an the Dome of the Rock, which were
built in the 7th Century.
The Roman Temple at Baalbek, Lebanon
commentary on Isaiah mentions an equestrian statue of the Emperor
Hadrian being placed directly over the site of the Holy of the Holies.
If the Baalbek architecture is the correct model, this would place the
Holy of the Holies somewhere beneath the present El Kas foundation.
When a map of the Baalbek Temple is overlaid on the present structures of the Temple Mount a striking similarity can be seen:
Baalbek Temple plan overlaid on the Temple Mount
4. The Most Southern Conjecture next to, and below, the Al Aqsa Mosque by Norma Robertson
I have corresponded with
Norma Robertson since 2000. Her website presents the latest and
best update I have seen so far. She is very discerning and has the
latest data base of anyone I know concerning the temple location.
theory has the southern Court (lower court) beyond the south wall
of the Temple Mount today, on the Opel hill. There is evidence in
the Opel excavations for this theory. Norma Robertson believes
the recent archaeological find of the Acra fortress dating back over 2,200 years, discovered in Givati parking
lot, supports her theory with it's close proximity to the Temple
in this lower location. Also the recent archaeological dig
of Eilat Mazar on the Opel revealing Solomon's city wall, gate,
and Royal area brings a new understanding to the ruins of the
Ophel of the first Temple era. Herodians built the southern
court over the top of the ruins of Solomon's Royal Palace with no
regard to it's historical importance. In Norma's Temple theory
the Herodian southern court, and Royal Stoa, are built over the place
of Solomon's Palace.
Locating Solomon's Temple by Norma Robertson
Enter the Photo Gallery of Herod's Temple by Norma Robertson
Tour Herod's Temple in 3D, narrated by Norma, playlist of 5 videos
Which Conjecture is Correct?
Israel it is often said that if you have two Jews you will have three
opinions! Only time will tell which of the above views is correct.
These conjectures will continue to be debated until Israel is able to
conduct a thorough archaeological investigation beneath the Temple
Mount itself. (3)
Unfortunately, the Temple Mount presently remains under the supervision
of the Waqf, the Supreme Moslem Council, and they have prevented any
systematic archaeological studies. In fact, the Waqf has gotten
increasingly resistive to investigations of any kind on the Platform -
which they consider to be a huge outdoor mosque sacred to Islam.
Who knows what events developing in the history of Jerusalem will one
day change the status quo, allowing scientific investigation of the
entire Temple Mount, below ground as well as above? Then, according to
the hopes and dreams of devout Jews for centuries, a Third Temple can
be built on the foundations of the First and Second Temples and temple
worship according to the Torah restored.
Addendum: Personal NotesFor
more than twenty years one of us (Dolphin) has maintained an active
interest in archaeology in Israel, and especially in the Temple Mount
Dr. Asher Kaufman, retired Professor of Physics
at the Racah Institute of Physics of the Hebrew University in
Jerusalem, and I began corresponding in the early '80's and have been
good friends ever since.He has recently passed away.
followed with great interest Asher's hypothesis that the First and
Second Temples were located 110 meters North of the Dome Rock on the
Mount. The area in question would put the Holy of Holies and the
Foundation Stone under a small Islamic structure known as the Dome of
the Tablets or the Dome of the Spirits. Exposed bedrock outcrops
beneath this small structure.
Dr. Dan Bahat, former District
Archaeologist for Jerusalem, and now Professor at Bar Ilan University,
is also a good friend. His arguments, vast knowledge, and experience
convince him that the First and Second Temples are located in the
immediate vicinity of the Moslem Dome of the Rock. His case is also a
persuasive one. Dr. Leen Ritmeyer's PhD thesis involved his research
delineating the original 500 cubit square Temple Mount.
years ago my good friend (since 1982), Stanley Goldfoot in Jerusalem
introduced me to Tuvia Sagiv, a talented and enterprising Tel Aviv
architect. Tuvia has spent hundreds of hours and many thousands of
dollars of his own money researching the temple locations and has now
built a strong and convincing case that the Temples were immediately
east of the present Western Wall, with the Holy of Holies probably
located under the El Kas Fountain. This fountain lies approximately
midway between the Dome of the Rock and Al Aqsa Mosque.
bedrock drops rapidly just south of the Dome of the Rock. If Tuvia's
model is correct the Temples would be lower that the outcropping
bedrock under the Dome of the Rock. In fact, Tuvia's recent research
suggests the Dome site may have been originally a Canaanite High Place
with tombs beneath, and later (until the reforms of Josiah) the
location of an Ashoreh pillar.
For further information on the political, religious and archaeological
aspects of the Temple Mount in our time, we recommend the briefing
package The Coming Temple by Chuck Missler, available from Koinonia House. This briefing package contains two audio cassette tapes and 22 pages of notes with 30 diagrams.
Each year for four years (1992-1995) Chuck Missler and Lambert Dolphin
co-hosted an annual International Conference on the Temple Mount in
Jerusalem in conjunction with Chuck Missler's tour group visit to
Israel. Video and audio tapes of speakers at these outstanding meetings
are also available from Koinonia House and are highly recommended.
For further information on ground penetrating radar and other modern geophysical methods useful in archaeology see Lambert Dolphin's Library.
Nancy DelGrande, a former physicist at Lawrence Livermore Labs, has
been for many years the principal adviser to Asher Kaufman, Tuvia Sagiv
and others in Israel, concerning the science of Thermal Infra-Red
1. Leen Ritmeyer, Biblical Archaeological Review, March/April, 1992. Email to Dr. Leen Ritmeyer (firstname.lastname@example.org).
2. Dr. Asher Selig Kaufman, Biblical Archaeological Review, March/April 1983; Tractate Middot, Har Yearíeh Press, Jerusalem, 1991.
Audio tapes featuring speakers at recent Temple Mount Conferences in
Jerusalem defending all three proposed locations for the Temples may be
obtained from Koinonia House, PO Box D, Coeur d'alene, Idaho 83816-0347.
On the Location of the First and Second Templesby Lambert Dolphin and Michael Kollen
Email Lambert Dolphin
Lambert Dolphin's Web Pages: (http://ldolphin.org/)
Created July 21, 1995. Updated, August 24, 2018. Typographical
corrections June 16, 2000, with thanks to Jon E. Schoenfield
(email@example.com). March 25, 2002.
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