The Temple Mount and Fort Antonia
By Ernest L. Martin, PH. D., April 1998
(This content is the intellectual property of Associates for Scriptural Knowledge)
We all remember the proverb that a picture is worth a thousand words. This is so true. When we are able to view a site that we have been reading or hearing about, the historical and architectural information associated with the area becomes much more meaningful and the subject better understood. That is certainly the case with the Temple built by Herod the Great that existed in the time of Christ Jesus along with the adjacent fortress that dominated the landscape known as Fort Antonia. The truth is, no one in modern history (nor for the past 1900 years) has actually witnessed the complex of buildings that comprised the Holy Sanctuary and the fort that was built to protect it. This is one of the reasons why I have wanted to present to all of you on the ASK mailing list the first general view of what the Temple and Fort Antonia looked like to the inhabitants of Jerusalem during the time of Jesus. Once we recognize the actual situation of the two structures that I show in the illustrations, and once you realize their dimensions, many points of teaching that we observe in the New Testament will make much better sense to us. In a word, a true perspective of those two buildings that occupied the greater part of northeastern Jerusalem (west of the Mount of Olives and the Mount of Offense) will provide a panoramic view that will show the sheer beauty and majesty of the Mother City of the Jews in the early part of the first century. Without doubt, it was a splendid and awesome display of architectural grandeur at its best. My new book “The Temples that Jerusalem Forgot” will present the full and interesting details.
What you are about the see in the illustrations at the conclusion of this Report is the description of the Temple and Fort Antonia as presented by Josephus, the Jewish historian. He was an eyewitness to the City of Jerusalem before the Romans destroyed it in A.D.70. I have had our artist draw both a horizontal aspect as though you would view the buildings from above (in outline form as an architect would draw the edifices), and also to show a vertical aspect that gives a three dimensional effect as seen from the east side of the buildings. The squared or rectangular stones that comprise both structures are very large but they are not drawn to exact scale. They represent an artist’s impression given with my directions in accord with the descriptions recorded by Josephus. If you will read Josephus yourself, you will find that our illustrations simply depict the eyewitness accounts of Josephus as he stated them in his literature.
The vertical sight will be that from the top of the southern part of the Mount of Olives known as the Mount of Offense which was directly east of the old city of David formerly located south of the Gihon Spring. This is the best place to view ancient Jerusalem. My new book will illustrate these points clearly.
A Panoramic View of Ancient Jerusalem
Let me start by mentioning a scene that usually occupies the attention of each person who visits Jerusalem for the first time (or who returns year after year to see the archaeological remains of the Jerusalem of Herod and Jesus). That particular scene is observed from the Mount of Olives just in front of the Seven Arches Hotel. This is where people can obtain the best over-all view of the ancient and modern City of Jerusalem. Before I present you with some details concerning this inspiring and unforgettable prospect, let me relate a little about myself for some of you who only recently have come on the A.S.K. mailing list through the Internet. This will allow you to understand my deep interest and my personal involvement with the City of Jerusalem over the past four decades.
My first visit to Jerusalem was in the year 1961. Since then I have returned to the city over thirty times from areas in Europe or America where I have lived. Though I am an American, I have professionally taught college in England where I lived for fourteen years (from 1958 to 1972). In Jerusalem, I worked personally on a daily basis with Professor Benjamin Mazar in the archaeological excavations at the western and southern walls of the Haram esh-Sharif. My working association with Professor Mazar on that site lasted for two months each summer during the years 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972 and 1973. Over that period of five summers, I was the academic supervisor for 450 college students from around the world who were digging at that archaeological excavation directed by Professor Mazar.Time magazine in its Education Section for September 3, 1973 featured my academic program for granting college credits for students who worked under my superintendence at Professor Mazar’s archaeological excavation sponsored by the Israel Exploration Society and Hebrew University. Besides this particular professional association at the excavation, I have personally guided more than 800 people around all areas of Israel explaining its biblical and secular history.
Though I am not an archaeologist by profession (my M.A. is in Theology and my Ph.D. is in Education), I have written several books and other major studies on the history and geography of Jerusalem especially in the periods of Jesus, the Roman Empire and Byzantium. I mention these brief biographical points to show that I have had considerable opportunity to study and to know the history of ancient Jerusalem.
With this in mind, let’s return to the top of the Mount of Olives to be reminded of the splendid panoramic perspective depicting the remnants of ancient Jerusalem as well as witnessing the vibrant and bustling modern City of Jerusalem. For the 450 college students and the 800 persons I have guided in their visits to Jerusalem, I have always taken them to this spot on the Mount of Olives in order for them to visualize, as a beginning lesson, what ancient Jerusalem was really like.
Observing Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives
The view is spectacular. There is no scene from other areas of Jerusalem that can replicate the grandeur of the ancient archaeological remains of the city. What dominates the scene, as one looks westward, is a rectangular body of walls with gigantic stones perfectly aligned with one another in their lower courses. These four walls present to the observer a feeling of majesty and awe at what the ancients were capable of accomplishing by their architectural achievements. These walls surround the area presently known as the Haram esh-Sharif (the Noble Enclosure). The stones of the lower courses in those walls are in their pristine positions. They are still placed neatly on top of another without any major displacement from their original alignments. These lower stones are clearly Herodian in origin, and in some places in the eastern portion of the wall they are pre-Herodian. There are certainly more than 10,000 of these stones still in place as they were in the time of Herod and Jesus.
No archaeological authority has been able to count all the stones of the four walls surrounding the Haram esh-Sharif because many of the stones are still hidden from view. But at the holy site at the Western Wall (often called the “Wailing Wall”) there are seven courses presently visible within that 197 feet length of the wall in the north/south exposure. That section contains about 450 Herodian stones. There are, however, eight more courses of Herodian stones underneath the soil down to the ground level that existed in the time of Herod and Jesus. Even below that former ground level, there are a further nine courses of foundation stones. If that whole section of the “Wailing Wall” could be exposed, one could no doubt count around 1250 Herodian stones (probably more) of various sizes. Most stones are about three to four feet high and three feet to twelve feet long, but there are varying lengths up to 40 feet (with the larger stones weighing about 70 tons). One stone has been found in the Western Wall that has the prodigious weight of 400 tons (Meir Ben-Dov, Mordechai Naor, Zeev Aner, “The Western Wall,” pp.61, 215). If one could extend by extrapolating the number of stones making up the four walls surrounding the Haram, there has to be over 10,000 Herodian and pre-Herodian stones still very much in place as they were some 2000 years ago. All of these stones in those four walls survived the Roman/Jewish War of A.D.70-73.
The grand centerpiece within the whole enclosure is the Muslim shrine called the Dome of the Rock. It is centrally located in a north/south dimension within the rectangular area of the Haram. To the south of the Dome and abutting to the southern wall is another large building called the Al Aqsa Mosque with its smaller dome. And though from the Mount of Olives modern Jerusalem can be seen in the background (and its contemporary skyline of buildings is interesting), the whole area is overshadowed and dominated by the Haram esh-Sharif with those ancient walls that impressively highlight the scene.
This is the view that modern viewers are accustomed to see. But let us now go back over 1900 years and imagine viewing Jerusalem from this same spot. It is from this vantagepoint that Titus (the Roman General) looked on the ruins of Jerusalem after the Roman/Jewish War in A.D.70. The description of what Titus saw is very instructive. We should read his appraisal in the accounts preserved by Josephus because Josephus and Titus were both eyewitnesses. Notice not only what Titus observed, but also what he left out of the narrative (War VII.1,1). This omission will become of prime importance in our inquiry regarding the true location of the Temple. Titus commanded that only a part of a wall and three forts were to remain of what was once the glorious City of Jerusalem. Notice what is stated in War VII.1,1.
“Now as soon as the army had no more people to slay or to plunder, because there remained none to be the objects of their fury (for they would not have spared any, had there remained any other work to be done), Caesar gave orders that they should now demolish the entire city and Temple, but should leave as many of the towers standing as were of the greatest eminence; that is, Phasaelus, and Hippicus, and Mariamne; and so much of the wall as enclosed the city on the west side. This wall was spared, in order to afford a camp for such as were to lie in garrison [in the Upper City], as were the towers [the three forts] also spared, in order to demonstrate to posterity what kind of city it was, and how well fortified, which the Roman valor had subdued; but for all the rest of the wall[surrounding Jerusalem], it was so thoroughly laid even with the ground by those that dug it up to the foundation, that there was left nothing to make those that came thither believe it [Jerusalem] had ever been inhabited. This was the end which Jerusalem came to by the madness of those that were for innovations; a city otherwise of great magnificence, and of mighty fame among all mankind” (Whiston trans., italics, bracketed words mine).
This eyewitness account about the total ruin of Jerusalem has given visitors to Jerusalem a major problem in relation to what we witness of ancient Jerusalem today. The fact is, Titus gave orders that the Temple was to be demolished. The only man-made structures to be left in Jerusalem was to be a portion of the western wall and the three fortresses located in the Upper City. This was Titus’ intention at first. But within a short time, even that portion of the western wall and the three fortresses in the west were so thoroughly destroyed that not a trace of them remained (unless the so-called “Tower of David” near the present day Jaffa Gate as scholars guess is a part of the foundation of Hippicus or Phasaelus). At the conclusion of the war, the Tenth Legion left Jerusalem a mass of ruins. Stones from those ruins were finally used in the following century to build a new city called Aelia. But by late A.D.70, there was nothing left standing of the Temple or the buildings of Jerusalem. Josephus stated:
“And truly, the very view itself was a melancholy thing; for those places which were adorned with trees and pleasant gardens, were now become desolate country every way, and its trees were all cut down. Nor could any foreigner that had formerly seen Judaea and the most beautiful suburbs of the city, and now saw it as a desert, but lament and mourn sadly at so great a change. For the war had laid all signs of beauty quite waste. Nor had anyone who had known the place before, had come on a sudden to it now, would he have known it again. But though he [a foreigner] were at the city itself, yet would he have inquired for it” (War VI.1,1).
What the Modern Visitor Observes
These descriptions by Josephus are what he and Titus saw from the Mount of Olives. But this is NOT what we observe today. We see something remaining from the period of Herod and Jesus that is quite different. Directly to the west, we view an awe-inspiring architectural relic of the past that is splendidly positioned directly in front of us. It dominates the whole western prospect of this panoramic view. That ancient structure is the Haram esh-Sharif. Its rectangular walls are so large in dimension that the Haram effectively obscures much of the view of the present old city of Jerusalem. And certainly, without the slightest doubt, the Haram (in its lower courses of stones that make up its walls) is a building that survived the Roman/Jewish War. Indeed, it is an outstanding example of the early architectural grandeur that once graced the Jerusalem of Herod and Jesus that has withstood two thousand years of weathering, earthquakes, wars and natural deterioration.
What is strange, and almost inexplicable at first, is the fact that Josephus mentioned the utter ruin of the Temple and all the City of Jerusalem, but he gave no reference whatever to the Haram esh-Sharif or that Titus had commanded that those walls should remain intact. And through the centuries, up to our modern period, there are over 10,000 stones still in their original positions making up the four walls of the Haram. As a matter of fact, in Titus’ time there were probably another 5,000 stones that were left on the upper courses of the four walls that have been dislodged and fallen to the ground over the centuries since the first century. What must be recognized is the fact that Titus deliberately left the rectangular shaped Haram esh-Sharif practically in the state he found it when he first got to Jerusalem with his legions. Strangely, Titus must have ordered that those four walls be retained for all future ages to see.
Without doubt, the Haram esh-Sharif with its gigantic walls was a survivor of the war. But how could Josephus have failed to account for the retention of such a spacious and magnificent building that was clearly in existence in pre-war Jerusalem? The continued existence of those extensive remains of the Haram esh-Sharif seem (at first glance) to nullify the appraisal of Josephus and Titus. Remember, they said that nothing of Jerusalem was left. “It [Jerusalem] was so thoroughly laid even with the ground by those that dug it up to the foundation, that there was left nothing to make those that came thither believe it[Jerusalem] had ever been inhabited.”
What is even more strange is the modern belief that the Haram esh-Sharif must be reckoned as the site of the Temple Mount. If present scholarly opinion is correct, this means that Titus and the Roman legions did not destroy the outer walls of the Temple in its middle and lower courses. The Romans left over 10,000 stones in place around the Haram. This modern belief of scholars and religious authorities (whether Jewish, Muslim or Christian) that the retention of those 10,000 stones around the Haram represents the remnants of the walls of the Temple make the above descriptions of their demolition by Josephus and Titus as being outlandish exaggerations. And true enough, this is precisely how most modern scholars, theologians, religious leaders and archaeologists view the matter.
Professor Williamson, who translated Josephus, said this was the case. He remarked that the thorough desolation that Titus was supposed to have seen in front of him was: “An exaggeration. A great deal of the southern part of the Temple enclosure was spared. The whole of the south wall of its successor, the present wall round the Haram esh-Sharif, the southern section of the west wall (the ‘Wailing Wall’, where the fall of Jerusalem is still lamented) and a short stretch of the east wall running up from the southeast corner are Herodian to a considerable height” (The Jewish War, p.454, note 2). We will see abundant evidence in my new book that Josephus was not exaggerating. This is because that enclosure known as the Haram esh-Sharif was NOT the Temple Mount, nor was the structure then officially reckoned as a part of the municipality of Jerusalem.
Our modern scholars and religious authorities consistently state that we cannot believe Josephus literally in his accounts concerning the important descriptions that he provides. We will discover, however, that it is the modern scholars and the religious leaders who are wrong and not Josephus. Josephus, the historian/priest, knew what he was talking about. Jerusalem and the Temple were totally destroyed and not a stone of them was left in place. The truth is, the Haram esh-Sharif was NOT the Temple Mount.
Josephus Was Not Exaggerating
It is time for us to realize that it is the modern scholars who are wrong, not the eyewitness accounts of Josephus and Titus. Jerusalem and the Temple were indeed destroyed to the bedrock just as they relate. Regarding this, there are other sections of Josephus’ accounts to show that he was not exaggerating. Josephus was keen on telling his readers that all the walls around Jerusalem were leveled to the ground. Note his observation: “Now the Romans set fire to the extreme parts of the city [the suburbs] and burnt them down, andentirely demolished its [Jerusalem’s] walls“ (War VI.9,4.).
This reference shows that all the walls, even those enclosing the outskirts of Jerusalem, were finally leveled to the ground. To reinforce the matter, Josephus said elsewhere: “When he [Titus] entirely demolished the rest of the city, and overthrew its walls, he left these towers [the three towers mentioned above] as a monument of his good fortune, which had proved [the destructive power of] his auxiliaries, and enabled him to take what could not otherwise have been taken by him” (War VI.9,1).
These two accounts by Josephus, along with the previous observations given above, confirm that there was a literal destruction of all the walls surrounding Jerusalem (except the small section of the wall in the western part of the Upper City that was afterward destroyed because not a trace of it has been mentioned of its retention by later eyewitnesses or found by modern archaeologists). Indeed, after A.D.70 there is not a word by any historical record that even speaks of those three fortresses in the Upper City having a continuance that Titus at first thought to leave as standing monuments showing the power of Rome over the Jews.
But again, these descriptions of Josephus and Titus of total ruin seem to be at variance with what we witness today. Let’s face it. From the Mount of Olives we behold the four walls of the Haram still erect in all their glory, and they are prominently displayed with a majesty that dominates the whole of present-day Jerusalem. The lower courses of those walls clearly have 10,000+Herodian and pre-Herodian stones on top of one another. As a matter of fact, those rectangular walls are even functioning ramparts of Jerusalem today. They have been in constant use throughout the intervening centuries to protect the buildings that were built in the interior of that enclosure called the Haram esh-Sharif.
Again I say, if those rectangular walls are those which formerly surrounded the Temple Mount (as we are confidently informed by all authorities today), why did Josephus and Titusleave out of their eyewitness accounts any mention about this retention of this magnificent Haram structure? They spoke of the utter ruin and desolation of Jerusalem and of the Temple, not the survival of any buildings that the Jewish authorities once controlled. Be this as it may, Josephus and Titus were certainly aware that the walls of the Haram survived the war. Why did Josephus and Titus not refer to those walls of the Haram that remained standing in their time? My new book will explain the reason why, and very clearly.
A Quandary for Modern Christians
These facts present a major problem for Christians. If those rectangular walls of the Haram are indeed the same walls (in their lower courses) that formerly embraced the Temple Mount, why are these stones (more than 10,000 in number) yet so firmly on top of one another? The continued existence of those gigantic and majestic walls would show that Titus did not destroy the walls of the Temple, if those walls did surround the Temple. Why is this a difficulty for Christian belief? The reason is plain.
Christians are aware of four prophecies given by Jesus in the New Testament that there would not be one stone left upon another either of the Temple and its walls or even of the City of Jerusalem and its walls (Matthew 24:1,2; Mark 13:1,2; Luke 19:43,44; 21:5,6.). But strange as it may appear, the walls surrounding the Haram esh-Sharif still remain in their glory with their 10,000+ Herodian and pre-Herodian stones solidly in place in their lower courses. If those stones are those of the Temple, the prophecies of Jesus can be seriously doubted as having any historical value or merit in any analysis by intelligent and unbiased observers.
Indeed, the majority of Christian visitors to Jerusalem who first view those huge stones surrounding the rectangular area of the Haram (and who know the prophecies of Jesus) are normally perplexed and often shocked at what they see. And they ought to be. The surprise at what they observe has been the case with numerous people that I have guided around Jerusalem and Israel. They have asked for an explanation concerning this apparent failure of the prophecies of Jesus. Why do those gigantic walls still exist? If those walls represent the stones around the Temple, then the prophecies of Christ are invalid.
The usual explanation, however, to justify the credibility to Jesus’ prophecies is to say that Jesus could only have been speaking about the inner Temple and its buildings, NOT the outer Temple and its walls that surrounded it. This is the customary and the conciliatory answer that most scholars provide (and it is the explanation that I formerly gave my students or associates). The truth is, however, this explanation will not hold water when one looks at what Jesus prophesied. One should carefully observe the prophecies of Jesus in the Synoptic Gospels. They plainly state that one stone would not rest on another of the Temple, its buildings, and his prophecies also embraced its outer walls. The Greek word Jesus used in his prophetic context to describe the Temple and its buildings was heiron (this means the entire Temple including its exterior buildings and walls). Notice what Vincent says about the meaning of heiron.
“The word temple (heiron, lit., sacred place) signifies the whole compass of the sacred enclosure, with its porticos, courts, and other subordinate buildings; and should be carefully distinguished from the other word, naos, also rendered temple, which means the temple itself — the “Holy Place” and the “Holy of Holies.” When we read, for instance, of Christ teaching in the temple (heiron) we must refer it to one of the temple-porches [outer colonnades]. So it is from the heiron, the court of the Gentiles, that Christ expels the money-changers and cattle-merchants”( Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament, Vol. I., p.50).
The exterior buildings of the Temple including its walls were always reckoned within the meaning of the word heiron that Jesus used in his prophecies concerning the total destruction of the Temple. There were several outer divisions of the Temple that were distinguished from the Inner Temple, and these outer appurtenances were accounted to be cardinal features of the Sanctuary. As an example, note the New Testament account stating that Satan took Jesus to the “pinnacle of the Temple” (Matthew 4:5). The pinnacle section was the southeastern corner of the outer wall that surrounded the whole of the Temple complex. The wording in the New Testament shows that this southeastern angle belonged to the Temple — it was a pinnacle [a wing] “of the Temple.” That area was very much a part of the sacred edifice to which Jesus referred when he prophesied that not one stone would remain on another.
There is an important geographical factor that proves this point. When Jesus made his prophecy that no stone would be left on one another, Matthew said that Jesus and his disciples had just departed from the outer precincts of the Temple. This means that all of them were at the time viewing the exterior sections of the Temple (the heiron) when he gave his prophecy (Matthew 24:1). The Gospel of Mark goes even further and makes it clear that the outside walls of the Temple were very much in the mind of Jesus when he said they would be uprooted from their very foundations. “And as he [Jesus] went out of the Temple [note that Jesus and the disciples were standing outside the Temple walls and looking back toward the Temple enclosure], one of his disciples saith unto him, ‘Master, see what buildings are here!’ And Jesus answering said unto him, ‘Seest thou these great buildings? there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down’”(Matthew 24:1). Without the slightest doubt, when Jesus in his prophecy spoke about the destruction of the Temple, he was certainly including in his prophecy the stones of the outer walls that enclosed the Temple as well as the buildings of the inner Temple.
The Whole City of Jerusalem Also to be Destroyed
Jesus went even further than simply prophesying about the destruction of the Temple and its walls. He also included within his prophetic predictions the stones that made up the whole City of Jerusalem (with every building and house that comprised the metropolis — including the walls that embraced its urban area). According to Jesus in Luke 19:43,44, every structure of Jewish Jerusalem would be leveled to the ground —to the very bedrock. “For the days shall come upon thee [Jerusalem], that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, and shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another.”
So, in the prophecies of Jesus, not only the stones that made up the Temple and its walls were to be torn down, but he also included within that scope of destruction even the stones that comprised the totality of the City of Jerusalem. We are left with no ambiguity concerning this matter. The prophecies about the Temple and the City of Jerusalem either happened exactly as Jesus predicted or those prophecies must be reckoned as false and unreliable. There can be no middle ground on the issue. If one is honest with the plain meaning of the texts of the Gospels, Jesus taught that nothing would be left of the Temple,nothing left of the whole City of Jerusalem, and nothing left of the walls of the Temple and the City.
Josephus and Titus Agree With Jesus
Was Jesus correct in his prophecies? Was Jerusalem with its Temple and walls leveled to the ground? What is remarkable is the fact that the eyewitness accounts given by Josephus and Titus agree precisely with what Jesus prophesied. Note what these two men observed. “It [Jerusalem with its walls] was so thoroughly laid even with the ground by those that dug it up to the foundation, that there was left nothing to make those that came thither believe it [Jerusalem] had ever been inhabited” (War VII.1,1).
All the land surrounding the city of Jerusalem was a desolate wasteland. Note Josephus’ account.
“They had cut down all the trees, that were in the country that adjoined to the city, and that for ninety stadia round about [for nearly ten miles], as I have already related. And truly, the very view itself was a melancholy thing. Those places that were before adorned with trees and pleasant gardens were now become a desolate country in every way, and its trees were all cut down. Nor could any foreigner that had formerly seen Judaea and the most beautiful suburbs of the city, and now saw it as a desert, but lament and mourn sadly at so great a change. For the war had laid all signs of beauty quite waste. Nor, if any one that had known the place before, and had come on a sudden to it now, would he have known it again. But though he were at the city itself, yet would he have inquired for it notwithstanding” (War VI.1,1, following the Whiston translation).
After A.D.70, people would have seen utter desolation in all directions. Every stone of every building and wall in Jerusalem was dislodged from its original position and thrown down to the ground. Josephus provides reasonable accounts of later events after the war was over to show how this complete destruction was accomplished. Much of the destruction came after the war had ceased.
For six months after the war, Josephus tells us that the Tenth Legion “dug up” the ruins of the houses, buildings and walls looking for plunder. They systematically excavated beneath the foundations of the ruined buildings and houses (they had many of the Jewish captives do the work for them). They also had the whole area turned upside down looking for gold and other precious metals that became molten when the fires were raging. This caused the precious metals to melt and flow into the lower crevices of the stones. Even the foundation stones contained melted gold from the great fires that devoured Jerusalem. This plundering of every former building or wall in the municipality of Jerusalem resulted in the troops overturning (or having the remaining Jewish captives overturn for them) every stone within the city. We will soon see that this activity resulted in every stone of Jewish Jerusalem being displaced.
This continual digging up of the city occurred over a period of several months after the war. Indeed, after an absence of about four months, Titus returned to Jerusalem from Antioch and once again viewed the ruined city. Josephus records what Titus saw.
“As he came to Jerusalem in his progress [in returning from Antioch to Egypt], and compared the melancholy condition he saw it then in, with the ancient glory of the city [compared] with the greatness of its present ruins (as well as its ancient splendor). He could not but pity the destruction of the city…. Yet there was no small quantity of the riches that had been in that city still found among the ruins, a great deal of which the Romans dug up; but the greatest part was discovered by those who were captives [Jewish captives were forced by the Roman troops to dig up the stones of their own city looking for gold], and so they [the Romans] carried it away; I mean the gold and the silver, and the rest of that most precious furniture which the Jews had, and which the owners had treasured up under ground against the uncertainties of war.”
Three Years After the War
We now come to the final appraisal of the complete desolation of Jerusalem. Note what Eleazar, the final Jewish commander at Masada, related three years after the war was finished at Jerusalem. He gives an eyewitness account of how the Romans preserved Fort Antonia (the Haram) among the ruins. What Eleazar said to the 960 Jewish people (who were to commit suicide rather than fall into the hands of General Silva who was on the verge of capturing the Fortress of Masada) is very important in regard to our present inquiry. This final Jewish commander lamented over the sad state of affairs that everyone could witness at this twilight period of the conflict after the main war with the Romans was over.
Jerusalem was to Eleazar a disastrous spectacle of utter ruin. There was only one thing that remained of the former Jerusalem that Eleazar could single out as still standing. This was the Camp of the Romans that Titus permitted to remain as a monument of humiliation over the Mother City of the Jews. Eleazar acknowledged that this military encampment had been in Jerusalem before the war, and that Titus let it continue after the war. The retention of this single Camp of the Romans, according to Eleazar, was a symbol of the victory that Rome had achieved over the Jewish people. His words are recorded in War VII.8,7. Several words and phrases need emphasizing, and I hope I have done so:
“And where is now that great city [Jerusalem], the metropolis of the Jewish nation, which was fortified by so many walls round about, which had so many fortresses and large towers to defend it, which could hardly contain the instruments prepared for the war, and which had so many ten thousands of men to fight for it? Where is this city that was believed to have God himself inhabiting therein? it is now demolished to the very foundations, and hath nothing left but THAT MONUMENT of it preserved, I mean THE CAMP OF THOSE[the Romans] that hath destroyed it, WHICH STILL DWELLS UPON ITS RUINS; some unfortunate old men also lie ashes upon the of the Temple [the Temple was then in total ruins — all of it had been burnt to ashes], and a few women are there preserved alive by the enemy, for our bitter shame and reproach.”
What Eleazar said must be reckoned as an eyewitness account of the state of Jerusalem in the year A.D.73. This narrative is of utmost importance to our question at hand. This is because Eleazar admitted that the City of Jerusalem and all its Jewish fortresses had indeed been demolished “to the very foundations.” There was nothing left of the City or the Temple. This is precisely what Jesus prophesied would happen.
Eleazar even enforced this. He mentioned the “wholesale destruction” of the city. He said that God had “abandoned His most holy city to be burnt and razed to the ground” (WarVII.8,6 Loeb). And then, a short time later, Eleazar concluded his eyewitness account by stating: “I cannot but wish that we had all died before we had seen that holy citydemolished by the hands of our enemies, or the foundations of our Holy Temple dug up, after so profane a manner” (War VII.8,7).
Yes, even the very foundation stones that comprised the Temple complex (including its walls) had been uprooted and demolished. They were then “dug up” and not even the lower courses of base stones were left in place. According to Eleazar, the only thing left in the Jerusalem area was a single Roman Camp that still hovered triumphantly over the ruins of the City and the Temple. He said that Jewish Jerusalem “hath nothing left.” The only thing continuing to exist was the “monument” (a single monument) preserved by Titus. And what was that “monument”? Eleazar said it was “the camp of those that destroyed it[Jerusalem], which still dwells upon its ruins.”
What could this Camp of the Romans have been? This is quite easy to discover when one reads the accounts of the war as recorded by Josephus. The main military establishment in Jerusalem prior to the war was Fort Antonia located to the north of the Temple (which is now the Haram esh-Sharif). In my new book “The Temples that Jerusalem Forgot,” I will give an abundance of information to show that the Haram was considered Roman property even before the war. Because Antonia was the property of Rome, they had no reason to destroy those buildings that already belonged to the Romans. That is why Titus left Fort Antonia (the Haram esh-Sharif) and its walls in tact (as we see them today).
Special Historical Report
By Ernest L. Martin, PH. D., May 1997
(This content is the intellectual property of Associates for Scriptural Knowledge)
Scriptural and secular historical evidence proves without a shadow of doubt that the Temple of God built by Solomon and the later Temple built by Zerubbabel after the Babylonian Captivity were both constructed about a third of a mile south of the Dome of the Rock (the place where all people today erroneously believe the original Temples of God were built).
This is a Special Report about a major discovery of great importance that has just come to my attention five days ago. I must share this significant news with you in its outline form, but the full story of the discovery will be given in detail in my new book which I will publish in about two or three months’ time titled: “The Temples that Jerusalem Forgot.” The fact is, about ten days ago I finished (or, what I thought was “finished”) a new 170 page book of scriptural and secular historical evidence that proves without a shadow of doubt that the Temple of God built by Solomon and the later Temple built by Zerubbabel after the Babylonian Captivity were both constructed about a third of a mile south of the Dome of the Rock (the place where all people today erroneously believe the original Temples of God were built). The historical and biblical evidence I have assembled is so outstandingly evident and provable that it can be said without fear of controversy (by anyone who studies the documentary evidence) that people for the past 1800 years have completely forgot where those two original Temples were built. But now for the bombshell!
The teaching of “tradition” (which I have so ardently fought against for the past forty years of my ministry and career as one of the greatest curses to understanding the truth) even fooled me when it came to comprehending the historical period of Simon the Hasmonean who ruled Judaea from 142 to 134 B.C. How did I get fooled? The fact is, dear folks, I did the very thing I have warned people not to do. I listened to all the top historians, all the eminent Rabbis, all the erudite Christian scholars, all the illustrious Muslim authorities (and what I thought was even “common sense”). It was the last part (the “common sense” part) that I thought I was applying, when people insisted that the region of the Dome of the Rock (called today the “Haram esh-Sharif”) was the spot where the Temple existed in the time of our Lord and the time of the apostles. I saw the bait on the “tradition” hook, and I bought it. If the Dome of the Rock was the actual site of the Temples, then the only thing that made any sense is to believe that Simon the Hasmonean MOVED the site of the Temple from its original area (a third of a mile SOUTH of the Dome of the Rock) up to the Haram esh-Sharif region. The fact is, (and this is absolute truth), Simon did NO SUCH THING! I have now studied this matter thoroughly. Both Josephus and Herod state dogmatically that the Temple that Herod refurbished and rebuilt WAS AT THE SAME SITE AS THE OTHER TEMPLES (Antiquities XI.1,3; 4,2; XV.11,1; XX.9,7)). Even all the Rabbinic authorities accept this too. No one moved the Temples. They were always in the same spot.
But note this. That grand and majestic Temple of Herod (that Christ and the apostles beheld and admired) with all its inner and outer buildings, AND ALL ITS WALLS, was completely and thoroughly destroyed to the extent that when Titus the Roman General (the later emperor) viewed the city of Jerusalem after its destruction in A.D.70, he marveled that no one (because of the utter destruction of the Temple and City) would have believed that there had once been a City in that area (War VII.1,1). This accurate eye-witness description of the absolute ruined state of the Temple and Jerusalem dovetails precisely with the prophetic teaching of our Lord Himself, Christ Jesus. Remember that He told the disciples on the Mount of Olives about two days before His crucifixion that “not a stone” would be left on top of one another of ANY of the buildings or structures of the complete Temple (the outer and inner Temple). All would be thoroughly leveled to the ground with not a single stone on top of one another (Matthew 24:1-3).
Everyone knows, however, that when a person (even today in our modern period) observes the City of Jerusalem from the same Mount of Olives from which Titus viewed the ruined City of Jerusalem, we see in front of us a gigantic walled enclosure that is most grand and majestic made of huge and wondrous stones (all neatly placed one on top of one another in its lower courses) which surround very nicely the whole area of the Dome of the Rock (the region now called the Haram esh-Sharif). In fact, it can be stated most dogmatically that Titus the Roman General would have seen the same walls that you and I are able to observe today. The truth is, however, when Titus viewed the ruin of the Temple and the City of Jerusalem, he EXCLUDED those walls surrounding the area of the Dome of the Rock because THOSE WALLS DID NOT surround the Temple Mount. The Temple and its walls had been destroyed completely and thoroughly just as Christ said they would be. The walls that Titus saw (and that we observe today) WERE NOT the walls around the Temple. They were the walls that surrounded the Roman military fortress called by Herod the “Antonia.”
The “Fortress of Antonia” is described by Josephus (not as a little dinky fort on the northwest side of the Temple), but as a VAST FORTRESS so large that it resembled a city within a city – with great expanses of land for military camps and with accommodations available to support an entire Roman Legion (about 6000 armed men, who with support staff equaled at least 12,000 people). This Roman Fortress of Antonia became the headquarters of the Tenth Legion left in Jerusalem by Titus (and Titus also provided a small garrison on the southwest hill near where Herod’s palace used to be). The Antonia was much larger than most scholars suppose. Read the proper translation of Josephus by Whiston in War V.5,8. The Antonia was a VERY LARGE FORTRESS.
Indeed, we have the eyewitness account of Eleazer (the Jewish leader of the remnant Jews who killed themselves at Masada about three years after the Temple and the City of Jerusalem were completely destroyed to the bedrock by Titus and his four legions). Note what Eleazer said in War VI.8,7:
“And where is now that great city, the metropolis of the Jewish nation, which was fortified by so many walls round about, which had so many fortresses and large towers to defend it, which could hardly contain the instruments prepared for the war, and which had so many ten thousands of men to fight for it? Where is this city that was believed to have God himself inhabiting therein? IT IS NOW DEMOLISHED TO THE VERY FOUNDATIONS, AND HATH NOTHING LEFT BUT THAT MONUMENT OF IT PRESERVED, I MEAN THE CAMP OF THOSE THAT HATH DESTROYED IT, WHICH STILL DWELLS UPON ITS RUINS; some unfortunate old men also lie upon the ashes of the temple, and a few women are there preserved alive by the enemy, for our bitter shame and reproach” (emphasis mine).
The Monument that Titus preserved was the Camp of the Romans (called the “Fortress of Antonia”). That Fortress was always Roman property and NOT a part of the City of Jerusalem to begin with. That Monument of Rome’s power and greatness is still with us to this day, and we can still see its walls from the Mount of Olives. But look what has happened. ALL Jews, ALL Muslims, ALL Christians and ALL historians (up to now) have mistakenly called the site of that Roman Camp the actual site of the Holy Temple of God. What a miscalculation and misjudgment! They have selected a Roman Military Camp with its Temple of Caesar as Jupiter in its center (as all Roman camps had) as the holiest place on earth! Those walls that we now see from the Mount of Olives are the walls of “Fort Antonia.” That area surrounded by those walls is no more the true site of the Temples of Solomon, Zerubbabel, Simon the Hasmonean and Herod than the Empire State Building in New York is the site.
The truth is, all of us should have paid attention to what our Lord (Christ Jesus) told us and we should have believed Him. He said there would not be one stone of the Temple (both the inner and outer parts – including its walls) that would be left on one another, and His prophecy has been fulfilled precisely. But what have people done? They have avoided Christ’s teaching and opted to make holy and sanctified a Roman Military Camp (with its walls still in existence from the time of Titus) as the Temple Mount. This is a big mistake. What an anachronism! The religious authorites have substituted the Site of Jupiter’s Temple at “Fort Antonia” as the Temple site of God. This is wrong. It is time that we all get back to the truth of the Scriptures and history and forget the erroneous and dangerous teachings that we have ALL inherited from “tradition.”
For the full story of this intriguing and captivating story, you should read my new book on this subject that will be published in two or three months. It will be a historical, geographical and biblical bombshell, and it will provide for the world for the first time the truth of just where the Temples in Jerusalem were built — “the Temples that Jerusalem Forgot.”
© 1976-2013 Associates for Scriptural Knowledge – ASK is supported by freewill contributions
How the Jews Started
By Ernest L. Martin, PH. D., June 2000
(This content is the intellectual property of Associates
When a person makes the suggestion that Jewish religious authorities and ordinary Jewish laypersons could lose the true site of the Temples for almost eight centuries of history – their most cherished of buildings (a structure initially constructed by no less than Solomon, then rebuilt by Zerubbabel and finally enlarged by Herod) – such a conclusion is normally assumed to be an assessment of complete absurdity.
Yet, in my new book (“The Temples that Jerusalem Forgot”), I have given convincing historical and biblical evidence that the Jewish people (and all other races and religious groups throughout the earth) have thoroughly forgot the whereabouts of the once renown Jewish Temples. Indeed, the Jewish authorities and people have turned their attention and their modern worship activities to the western part of a rectangular type of building in Jerusalem called their “Wailing Wall” (that they erroneously insist is the remnant of their once glorious Temple). The truth is, however, the well-known “Wailing Wall” has nothing to do with the original sanctuaries in Jerusalem. The western parts of the rectangular shaped area that they have selected to adore and at which they congregate to worship (and they have done so for almost 380 years) are the remains of a structure that was held by their forefathers in the first century to be in utmost contempt.
Modern Jews have literally set aside the true location of their former Temples and have substituted the real location for a first century Roman citadel called Fort Antonia that was built by Herod the Great. This Herodian structure was situated about 600 feet north of the northern wall of their former Temple at Jerusalem. The actual southern site of their Temple now stands in an unrecognized state. It is forlorn, lonely, abandoned, thoroughly forgotten and bereft of even a meager amount of attention by the people who once adored it. The site is even accounted today by the Jewish people as an inferior part of Jerusalem without the slightest reverence being attached to it, though Maimonides (the great Jewish philosopher of the twelfth century) said the spot would always retain its holiness and it would show a permanent sanctification no matter what derelict condition it might become (see Mishneh Torah, sect.8, “Temple Service”). But strangely, in the period of the Crusades, particular doctrines (erroneous opinions counter to biblical teachings) were accepted by Jewish people, along with misjudgments on archaeological and geographical matters, that caused the Jews to deliberately abandon their real Temple site for a false structure that was acknowledged by Christians and Muslims.
The History of Jewish Abandonment
In this Update segment, I will record some major factors from the seventh century leading up to the period of the Crusades (in the twelfth century of our era) that will help to demonstrate how the Jewish authorities started to abandon the true site of the Temples and to substitute it for the Dome of the Rock located within the Haram esh-Sharif. In a further Update next month I will also show how the Jews finally accepted their novel and formerly unheard of “Wailing Wall” in the early part of the sixteenth century (a mere 380 years ago) that had never before been taught as having a holy significance in Judaism. These are interesting accounts that are historically provable, and all people should be aware of them. The historical evidence helps to show how superficial and how temporary the memories of past religious beliefs can become in the estimation of people when certain contemporary events cause people to alter their former religious beliefs and customs. It can even lead to forgetting their most cherished of institutions. It has happened to all people. This has happened to Christians. It has happened to Muslims. And it has also happened to the Jewish authorities and people.
Let me state at first that this present Update is NOT written in an effort to censure the Jewish authorities when they made the drastic changes in their belief systems in two periods of time (once about 800 years ago, and again about 380 years ago). I am not Jewish and it is not my business what those of Judaism alter in their doctrines of faith, but I am a historian who can read what the historical records show. It is easy to report to the general public those Jewish alterations to their former faith patterns which introduced novel and erroneous doctrines in the above two time periods, and how anti-Torah (that is, non-biblical) those new beliefs were. That is all that I intend to do. What the Jewish people (or Christians or Muslims) do with this information remains their prerogative, not mine. However, the records demonstrate that the Jewish authorities created a very different type of Judaism from that which had existed up to the period of the Crusades. What they did (and the people accepted it) was not something unique to those practicing Judaism. This is because the same type of practice of change (and the acceptance of change) is not limited to Jewish believers. It has equally happened in the past to Christians. It has also happened to Muslims. And in this Update and in future ones, I will specifically show how changes in Jewish attitude to religious principles and doctrines of the Holy Scripture have resulted in them forgetting even the true site of the Temples that was located over and near the Gihon Spring in Jerusalem. They have mistakenly substituted the Dome of the Rock within the Haram esh-Sharif as their new Temple site. It is even sad that they do not realize that the Haram esh-Sharif is the area of the Roman citadel called “Fort Antonia” that was held in abject contempt by their forefathers in the time of Jesus. This loss of knowledge began when major changes in their belief system started in the time of the Crusades (with subtle alterations beginning in the seventh century). What they fallaciously initiated as Jewish doctrines during the Crusades has developed into their modern ignorance of the true site of the Temples in Jerusalem.
Original Testimony to a Unique Condition Concerning the Site of the Temple in Jerusalem
I now want to give a major “key” that (if applied) can always be of usefulness in locating the true Temple site of God. It is a historical truism. If historians and theologians will pay attention to this initial factor that I will present (and let it serve as a “deal point” in showing historical truth – which it does), it will aid us in wading through the later contradictions given in literature that begin in the seventh century, and to take up the prime doctrinal changes in the Jewish belief systems that occurred from the twelfth to the sixteenth centuries about the site of the Temples. This “deal point” is a fact of history that is recorded by the first Christian Arabic author and church leader by the name of Eutychius. He wrote how Omar (the Second Caliph within Islam) and Sophronius (the Christian archbishop of Jerusalem) originally recognized the true site of the Jewish Temples in Jerusalem. In my new book, I mention in detail the conversations recorded by Eutychius as having taken place between Omar and Sophronius. If you have read the book, you will recall that it was the final place selected for the former site of the Jewish Temple that Sophronius showed Omar (after two previous abortive attempts of Sophronius at giving false identifications that the Caliph did not accept). This third place had a particular (and even a unique) architectural history associated with it that none of the other supposed sites in Jerusalem possessed. Eutychius who recorded these facts in 876 C.E (and Eutychius had access to many earlier Arabic records) made the definite statements that the proper place of the former Temple site HAD NEVER BEEN BUILT UPON by the Romans from 70 C.E. to the time of Constantine. Furthermore, that even the Byzantine Christians from the fourth to the seventh centuries also HAD NEVER BUILT UPON THE SITE. The simple fact is: the Romans and the Byzantines left the area alone and they failed to construct any edifices of any consequence within the former Temple area. They deliberately shied away from the spot in order for the prophecy of Christ that “not one stone would be found on top another” would remain fulfilled for the Temple area in Jerusalem. So, they left the southeast section of Jerusalem alone and never constructed any major buildings (certainly no churches or holy shrines) in the area of the Temple Mount.
This fact recorded by Eutychius is a “key” or “deal point.” It is essential to remember that NO ROMAN or BYZANTINE buildings had ever been constructed in the region of the former Jewish Temples up to the time of Omar the Second Caliph. And though Omar and Sophronius saw ruins of buildings in the area, these remains were reckoned by those in the seventh century as THE RUINS OF FORMER JEWISH BUILDINGS AND PART OF A PREVIOUS TEMPLE. [There had been two Jewish attempts to rebuild the Temple: one in the time of Constantine and the other about 37 years later in the time of Julian the Apostate. These Temples were never completed and ruins from them continued at the site. Even a part of the western wall of the Holy of Holies from those fourth century Temples was left standing] While ruins of the two Temples and other Jewish buildings were seen on this spot that Sophronius showed Omar, no Gentile buildings had been erected in or on the Temple Mount for over 600 years — from 70 C.E. to 638 C.E. This fact is a major “key” in recognizing the true spot of the Temples in Jerusalem. Notice the translation of Eutychius as given inF.E.Peters, “Jerusalem,” pp.189,190.
“Then Omar [Umar in Arabic] said to him [to Sophronius]: ‘You owe me a rightful debt. Give me a place in which I might build a sanctuary [masjid “a prayer shrine”].’ The patriarch said to him: ‘I will give to the Commander of the Faithful a place to build a sanctuary where the kings of Rum [the Romans] were unable to build. It is a rock where God spoke to Jacob and which Jacob called the Gate of Heaven and the Israelites the Holy of Holies. It is the center of the world and was a Temple for the Israelites…. [And], the Byzantines neglected it [they also left the site empty] and did not hold it in veneration, nor did they build a church over it” (capitalization mine).
The particular place of this rock outcropping that Sophronius was showing Omar WAS NOT at the famous Dome of the Rock that was finally built two generations after Omar’s death. This is because (and I have shown this amply in the earlier chapters of my book) that area within the Haram esh-Sharif was the former spot where the resplendent and majestic Church of the Holy Wisdom had been built over the “oblong rock” under the Dome of the Rock. The Christians from the sixth century onward reckoned that the footprint of Jesus was embossed into the surface of the “oblong stone.” Sophronius as an eyewitness had even written a poem about that Church and its Stone (its special Rock) that later became the Dome of the Rock. That Church of the Holy Wisdom was destroyed by the Persians and Jews in 614 C.E. (about 24 years before the discussion between Sophronius and Omar took place). Everyone in Jerusalem knew at the time that that particular area within the Haram esh-Sharif where the later Dome of the Rock was constructed WAS ONCE the site of that famous Church. This fact disqualifies the Dome of the Rock area from being the place that Sophronius was showing Omar as the former site of the Jewish Temple because Sophronius said that was a “Jewish area” that was NEVER BUILT UPON by either the earlier Romans or by the later Byzantines.
The area being shown by Sophronius impressed Omar. As I explain in my book, Omar even took a single stone from that area and re-positioned it within his new mosque that he finally started to construct at the southern end of the Haram esh-Sharif. That stone became the qibla [the pillar stone that pointed the faithful Muslims to pray toward Mecca]. The reason Omar selected the southern part of the Haram esh-Sharif is because it fit all of the parameters that he had witnessed in his vision that Muhammad had supposedly given to him about his “Night Journey” from the “Farthest Mosque” into heaven. Omar believed the spot from which Muhammad began that famous “Night Journey” was in the extreme southern part of the Haram. That is the location in Jerusalem that Omar selected to build his Mosque. It is highly significant and of utmost importance to recognize that Omar gave no spiritual accolades whatever to the Rock under the Dome of the Rock at the time, and no other Caliph did until the time of Abn al-Malik near the end of the seventh century. Indeed, Omar rejected the Rock under the Dome of the Rock as having any holiness to those in Islam. Omar in his day concentrated only on building what became the Al Aqsa Mosque in the extreme south of the Haram. And he went even further. Omar began to retrieve many ruined stones from the same area that Sophronius said was the site of the Jewish Temple (in the southeast quadrant of Jerusalem – over the Gihon Spring) in order to build the Al Aqsa Mosque itself. Thus, Omar imagined he was using stones from the original “Solomon’s Temple” to construct his Muslim shrine. Because of this, it soon became common for those in Jerusalem to call the new Mosque as the remains of “Solomon’s Temple.” In fact, the procedure in Muslim theological thought signified the transference of all the holiness and sanctification once associated with Solomon’s Temple to the new area of the Al Aqsa Mosque that was built about 600 feet to the north in the south part of the Haram. The Encyclopedia of Religion, under the article “Blessing” (Vol.2, pp.251,252), shows the Muslim theological principle called “Barakah” that allowed the holiness of one site to be transferred to another site. The encyclopedia states:
“Barakah among the Arabs and in Islam. In the Arab world, the Semitic root brkseems originally to have meant both ‘blessing’ and ‘crouching.’ In the Arab mind, the idea seems to have developed of transferring this quality; barakah(noun; pl., barakat) [the quality or influence could be transferred] to such acts as kissing a hand or touching a holy object. See Touching. In popular Islam, traces of this nomadic notion of barakah [that is, a transference of holiness or title, or even the influence of persons] remain in attitudes toward localities, historical personalities, and sacred objects.” (words in brackets and underlining are mine).
Look at this principle closely. It is important in regard to our subject in this Update. This use of barakah is the first error adopted by the people of Jerusalem that helped even the local people to lose sight of the former spot of the Temple. By practicing this principle, even the Islamic people of Jerusalem began calling the Al Aqsa Mosque by the name “Solomon’s Temple.” Christians in time also adopted the same procedure. When the Europeans during the Crusades spoke of the Al Aqsa Mosque, they stated that it was indeed the remains of “Solomon’s Temple.” We will also see that Christians in Crusader times used the principle of barakah to transfer the influence and significance of a site (or a person) in the Holy Land to an area (or areas) in Europe that was located in close proximity to the person or persons doing the transference. In all likelihood, the early Arabs learned the practice from earlier Christians (and perhaps Jews) who regularly used the principle of “holy transference” (or, barakah) for many relics and holy sites [I will soon give some examples of this transference.]. So, it was no surprise that Omar reckoned that the influence and holiness of Solomon’s Temple could in his day be transferred to his new Mosque at the southern end of the Haram esh-Sharif. In no way was this principle a proper one from a biblical point of view. Note that when the Tabernacle went from place to place in the Wilderness with the Shekinah, the places where the Tabernacle had been formerly pitched retained no holiness with them. To further illustrate this, Jeremiah called the attention of the Jews of his day to the ruined state of Shiloh (where the Ark had remained for scores of years) and yet in Jeremiah’s time the area of Shiloh was ruined, desolate and bereft of all holiness. Jeremiah said Shiloh was deprived of any sanctification (Jeremiah 7:12-14; 26:6-9).
In spite of this biblical proscription, later people began to use this erroneous principle called barakah, and Christians from the fourth century, Muslims from the seventh, and Jews from the eleventh century adopted the principle almost wholesale as a proper means of transferring the so-called “holiness” of one site to another – even to places hundreds of miles away. This allowed the influence and holiness of Solomon’s Temple to be transferredto another the place (using the well-known and well-used barakah principle). But it even went further than that. Later peoples confused the issue and forgot about the transferenceprinciple and accepted a more literal interpretation that the area was in fact the very place where the former holy buildings had been. The people of Jerusalem soon came to believe that the area at the southern part of the Haram (where the Al Aqsa Mosque was built) was in actual fact the exact spot where Solomon erected his Temple. And since it was well known that Herod the Great expanded northward the size of the Temple (even doubling it from its previous dimensions), it was an easy thing to make a further transference and call the Dome of the Rock as a part of Herod’s Temple. The Dome of the Rock in Christian eyes finally became a part of the “Temple” because Jesus’ footprint was believed to be on the “oblong stone” and instead of the “footprint” being placed there in the time of Pilate (as the original story stated), they changed the account into the event when Jesus was a baby and was placed in the arms of Simon the priest. One error of the story became superimposed on another error and contradictions galore began to occur in the various accounts.
The fallacious identification of the Dome of the Rock with the Temple Mount, started in a minor way during the days of Abn al-Malik. Instead of the “footprint of Jesus” being in the Rock, the Muslims made a slight shift in the story and they substituted the “Jesus indention” (that the Arabs called a “cradle”) with what they called the “footprint of God.” Indeed, even Christians also said that “footprint” was that of “God” because Jesus was (in the doctrine of the Trinity) also recognized as God. As time went on, the “footprints” of other notables of the biblical period began to be identified with several indentions in the Rock. In fact, the Muslim writer Nasir-I Khusraw in the early eleventh century was able to count SEVEN FOOTPRINTS on the Rock and among them were those of Abraham and Isaac (see F.E.Peters, Jerusalem, pp.248,249). Some thought Adam’s footprint was there, and finally the footprint of Muhammad was also placed there (along with his hand, or that of Gabriel the Archangel).
The body parts of Muhammad got on the stone in Muslim eyes because, within a short time of Abn al-Malik building the Dome of the Rock, it became popular for Muslims to transferthe account of Muhammad’s “Night Journey” to heaven from the Al Aqsa Mosque to the Dome of the Rock. The handprint of Muhammad was also thought to be embossed in the Rock because the Rock (so the story goes) wanted to accompany Muhammad into heaven. The prophet would not allow it to do so. He forcibly held it down with his hand. But the Rock persisted in its attempt to journey with Muhammad into the celestial abode of God. The Rock then lifted itself up about six feet and refused to settle back to earth, thus creating the cave that is now seen in the southeast sector of the Rock. Most reasonable people call these stories mere folklore and nonsensical (and the rational Arab historians later in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries called them “outright lies”) (see for example, Ibn Taymiyya 1936: 7-13, trans. S. Levy, and see F.E. Peters, Jerusalem, p.377). Lies though they were, they began to be believed with a passion by many of the people of Jerusalem. And religious folk still accept such absurdities. It is folklore accounts like these that finally got the Dome of the Rock to become the site of the Temple. And what is sad is the fact that the religious authorities (instead of condemning such teachings of the people) promoted them and gave their blessing to many of them. Thus was established official sanction to such lies.
This transference (using the barakah principle) started in a limited sense with Omar when he moved the holiness of Solomon’s Temple up to the southern area of the Haram esh-Sharif. This was the first instance in history that people began to think that part of the Haram esh-Sharif was the site of the Temple. But later, there was an avalanche of folklore accounts with some stating that even “God’s footprint” and the “footprints” of other biblical people (and finally those of Muhammad’s himself) were believed to be embossed on the Rock under the Dome of the Rock. These erroneous tales of the people (and sadly, the absurdities were conveniently supported by the religious authorities) finally convinced people that the literal site of the Temple (at least Herod’s Temple) was the area of the Dome of the Rock. It then became a place of the Jewish Temple. And when the Christians finally took over Jerusalem in the time of the Crusades, they continued the myths by calling the Dome of the Rock “The Temple of God.” This was error of the first magnitude! No Jew would at first have done such a thing, but during the Crusades (because of a supposed archaeological discovery in the Christian “Mount Zion” that I will soon relate) even the Jews began to speculate that the Dome of the Rock was indeed the Temple site.
Still, however, the area of the Al Aqsa Mosque was NEVER the location of Solomon’s Temple, and the later tales about the Rock under the Dome of the Rock were pure and simple nonsense. As a matter of fact, in the time of Omar and Sophronius, no one in Jerusalem imagined that the region of the Haram esh-Sharif was the Temple site. The area that Sophronius showed Omar was over and around the Gihon Spring on the southeasternridge of Jerusalem. This was the place where the original “Mount Zion” of the Bible and its northern extension called the “Ophel” mound were situated. This was the area where Solomon, and later Zerubbabel and then Herod built the Jewish Temples. And it was well known that the region had NEVER BEEN BUILT UPON by either the Romans (from 70 C.E. to 303 C.E.) or the Byzantines (from 325 C.E. to 638 C.E.). The testimony of Eutychius (cited above) confirms this fact. Even the Jews in the time of Omar and Sophronius knew that the site of the Jewish Temple had never had any churches or Christian buildings constructed within its precincts. This limits the area to the southeastern sector of Jerusalem (over and near the Gihon Spring). Notice the next historical fact that abundantly proves this reality.
Jews Wanted to Live in the Southern Part of Jerusalem
Thankfully, we now have records from the Geniza documents from Egypt which give us some early and reliable teachings from the Jews themselves at the very time that Omar and Sophronius were having their discussions in Jerusalem. The records (many of them contemporaneous to the events they describe) show that SEVENTY FAMILIES of Jews from Tiberias were permitted by Omar to settle in Jerusalem. And where did these Jews wish to establish their residence? As I show in my book, these historical narratives reveal that they wanted to live in the SOUTHERN PART of Jerusalem near the Siloam water source. They wanted to reside SOUTH of the present southern wall of Jerusalem near the Haram esh-Sharif. Indeed, their area of interest was even further SOUTH than the palatial Umayyad buildings that Professor Mazar and our Ambassador students (under my direction) discovered SOUTH of the Haram. In all clarity, the documents for the next 400 years show that the Jewish quarter was located where the Bible places the real “Mount Zion” region on the southeastern ridge. When later (in the tenth century) some Karaite Jews settled in Jerusalem, they also settled next to the Rabbinate Jews and established themselves on the eastern side of the Kedron on lower Olivet. These Jewish people did so (as the record states) because they wanted TO BE NEAR THEIR FORMER TEMPLE. Scholars are fully aware that it was this southeastern region where the Jews lived for over 400 years (see Dan Bahat’s The Illustrated Atlas of Jerusalem for several maps showing this).
These Jews for over 400 years following the time of Omar did not settle in the southwest hill that the Christians were calling their “Mount Zion.” There is not the slightest hint in the records that the Jews’ SOUTHERN PART included the southwestern hill that the Christians were calling their “Mount Zion.” As a matter of history, a Jewish traveler by the name of Benjamin of Tudela stated in the middle of the twelfth century that only Christian buildings were found on the southwestern hill and that Jews showed no interest in that particular section of Jerusalem until some so-called tombs of David, Solomon and the kings of Israel were supposedly discovered below the ruins of a Christian church in the mid-twelfth century. The only area the Jews were interested in from 638 to 1077 C.E. (obviously, for over 400 years) was the southeastern area of Jerusalem where the biblical records make it clear was the former region of the original Mount Zion of David. This was where the proper site of the Temples was understood by the Jews to be. And this was the very region that Sophronius showed Omar was the original site of the Jewish Temples.
Only Jewish Buildings were Concentrated in the SOUTHEAST quadrant of Jerusalem
For the most part, ONLY JEWISH BUILDINGS were permanently built in that southeasternquadrant of Jerusalem for those four centuries and more. As for the Muslims, they concentrated in building their sanctuaries and other structures within the Haram esh-Sharif. The Christians on the other hand attended to the region in the northwest near the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and also on the southwestern hill erroneously called “Mount Zion.” Remember that in the historical account of Eutychius, Sophronius said to Omar that the Roman and the Byzantine authorities NEVER BUILT any buildings where the Jewish Temples were once located in Jerusalem. The Jewish authorities were well aware of this essential truth. But now I wish to give even a further historical reference that confirms this fact written about six hundred years later. We have the express testimony of Rabbi David Kimchi, one of the great biblical commentators of the Jews (otherwise known as the RADAQ) who lived from about 1160 to 1235 C.E. Rabbi Kimchi said that as late as his time the region of the former Temples still remained in ruins and that it continued to be a fact that NO GENTILES (whether Roman, Byzantine or Muslim) HAD YET BUILT ANY OF THEIR BUILDINGS OVER THE SITE OF THE TEMPLE. He said (and I am quoting him verbatim): “And [the Temple] is still in ruins, [in] that the Temple site WAS NEVER BUILT ON BY THE NATIONS” (Commentary on Isaiah 64:10 and quoted by Prof. Kaufman in Biblical Archaeology Review, March/April, 2000, p.61 – the letters in capitals are my emphasis).
The comments of Rabbi David Kimchi is first-class Jewish testimony in about 1235 C.E. So, on the precise site of the Temple, Rabbi Kimchi dogmatically states that NO GENTILE BUILDINGS had ever been built – and this included the period of 600 years before him when the Muslims (and during the Crusader period, the Christians) had control over all areas of Jerusalem! In fact, Rabbi Kimchi said that the precise region of the Temple EVEN IN HIS DAY was “still in ruins.” There can be no doubt that Kimchi was stating absolute fact and that he was not speaking allegorically that the so-called “ruin” including the Christian and Muslim buildings that were supposed to be on the spot (and IF that spot were supposedly within the Haram esh-Sharif as most Christians and Muslims thought the Temple site to be). Indeed, Rabbi Kimchi wanted his readers to know he was not speaking allegorically because he emphatically stated (to emphasize the ruined condition of the former Temple site) that the Temple “is still in ruins, in that the Temple site was never built on by the nations [the Christians and Muslims].” This statement alone eliminates any of the area of the Haram esh-Sharif from consideration because it was built up by the Dome of the Rock, the Al Aqsa Mosque, and the region north, west and south (and partially east) of the Dome of the Rock paved over with beautiful paving stones.
This latter observation of Rabbi David Kimchi is the second “key” (or “deal point”) that the areas of the Al Aqsa Mosque or the Dome of the Rock COULD NOT be considered as possible contenders for the original sites of the Temples because those areas had long been built upon first by Christians (for the Dome of the Rock area ) and then by Muslims for both the Al Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock. In fact, we have the testimony of the Jewish poet Solomon Ibn Gabirol of Spain (born about 1021 and died about 1070 C.E.) who included among his collection of poems an important observation concerning the state of the Temple in Jerusalem. He wrote:
“Remember me when You [God] rebuild Thy Temple, that I may behold the bliss of Thy chosen ones. And purify me to seek diligently Thy Sanctuary [the Temple now] devastated and ruined. And to cherish its [the Temple’s] stones and its dust, and the clods of its desolation, and rebuild Thou its wastes” (Poem 39, trans. Israel Zangwill, Jewish Publication Society, 1923, p.121).
Gabirol cannot be describing the site of the Haram esh-Sharif which was everything but desolate. It was totally a built-up area and NOT in a ruined state. Then there are the comments of the eminent poet of the Jews by the name of Judah Halevi who lived a short time after Gabriol (Judah Halevi lived from about 1085 to 1140 C.E. – during the Crusades). He confirms the state of the Jewish Temple as then consisting of desolate ruins. He wrote several works about the condition of Jerusalem and the site of the Temple in his time. Note the lament of Rabbi Judah Halevi over the ruined and desolate state of the Temple Mount during this early period of the Crusades. The Temple site was certainly not then a built-up area like the Haram esh-Sharif was at the time!
“My heart is in the east, and I in the uttermost west. How can I find savor in food? How shall it be sweet to me? How shall I render my vows and my bonds, while yet Zion lieth beneath the fetters of Edom [Rome, Christians by inference], and I in Arab chains? A light thing would it seem to me to leave all the good things of Spain [where he lived], seeing how precious in mine eyes to behold the dust of the desolate sanctuary [in Jerusalem]” (Section One, Judah Halevi, edited by Heinrich Brody, Jewish Pubication Society, 1924, 1952). NOTE: the Dome of the Rock and the Haram esh-Sharif were not then in adesolate state.
“Sweet would it be unto my soul to walk naked and barefoot upon the desolate ruins where thy holiest dwellings were; in the place of thine Ark where it is hidden [Halevi believed the tradition that the Ark was hidden in the tunnels and caves underneath the Holy of Holies] and in the place of thy Cherubim which abode in thine innermost recesses” (Section 5, ibid.).
Thy captives “pant toward thee, worshipping everyone from his own place toward thy gates [in Zion]. They are in pain over thy [Zion’s] desolation, and that weep over thy ruin” (ibid.).
“The tumult of my tenderness is stirred when I remember thy glory of old that is departed – thine habitation [the Temple] which is desolate” (Section 8).
“They [our Jewish people] mourn the wasteness of thine [the Temple’s]overthrow and weep at thy destruction bitterly” (ibid.).
“Sweet to my soul it would be to wander barefeet, to go unshod in places waxen waste – desolate since the oracles were there: Where thine Ark rested, hidden in thine heart, and were, within [the Temple] thy Cherubim were placed” (Section 19).
A short time later, the famous Maimonides (who modernized Judaism with rationalistic doctrines in the twelfth century as I will later show) was also non-allegorical in his descriptions of the Temple Mount when he came to relate the condition of the Temple site in his day. We should pay attention to what Maimonides stated during the time when the Crusading Christians were in charge of Jerusalem. Indeed, he and his father and brother even visited Jerusalem for three days on their way from North Africa to Egypt and they all witnessed the ruins and desolation of the Temple site while the area of the Haram esh-Sharif and the Dome of the Rock were then built over with beautiful religious structures and plazas that were kept in the finest conditions (there were no ruins within the region of the Haram whatever). Note what Maimonides stated in his “Book of Temple Services” which was the eighth section of the Misneh Torah written in the year 1180 C.E.
“As far as the Sanctuary and Jerusalem were concerned, the first sanctification [by Solomon] hallowed them for all time to come…. Wherefrom the Sages have averred, even though they are desolate [at the time of Maimonides], the sanctuaries retain their pristine holiness…. Now just as we are obliged to keep the Sabbath for all time to come, so must we reverence the Sanctuary [the Temple] for all time to come; for even though it is in ruins, its sanctity endures.”
In 1210 C.E. there is a brief account by Rabbi Samuel Ben Samson that in Jerusalem was a place where “only the foundations [of the Temple] remain now in existence.” It was near the “fount [spring] of Etham, the bathing place of the priests.” This is a reference to the Gihon Spring which had been closed up by Saladin in 1187 C.E. Rabbi Samson said that opposite the fount was a Gate in the Western Wall. “At the base of this wall there is to be observed a kind of arch placed at the base of the Temple. It is by a subterranean passage that the priests reach the fount of Etham, the spot where the baths [of the priests] were” (Jewish Travellers in the Middle Ages, p.104). The spring was then being named after a site called Etham. Etham was an area south of Bethlehem that was once a water source for Jerusalem when conduits brought water to Jerusalem from the higher area of Etham. Many people thought that the water that came from the Gihon had its origin in the Etham area and thus the Gihon Spring in Jerusalem was sometimes called by that name. In the time of Rabbi Samson, there was no outside entrance to the Gihon or the Etham fount (it was “blocked up” by Saladin). The spring had to be reached by subterranean tunnels and shafts that led downwards from the Ophel mount [the site of the Temple] to the waters that finally emerged at the Siloam pool area southeast of the city. In no way could Rabbi Samson have been describing the Dome of the Rock area within the Haram esh-Sharif in his account of the Temple site. He concluded his remarks with: “Only the foundations [of the Temple] remain now in existence, but the place where the Ark stood is still to be seen” (ibid.). He then said that from that spot he and his party then journeyed to the adjacent Pool of Siloam.
And now we once again come to the comments of Rabbi David Kimchi. He reported about the condition of the Temple and the Temple Mount about twenty years after Rabbi Samson (about 1235 C.E.). He was the final Jewish authority who stated without ambiguity that the site of the former Temples in Jerusalem “were still in ruins” in his day and he qualified his statement with the further observation that NO GENTILE BUILDINGS WERE THEN ERECTED OVER THE TEMPLE SITE (this account disqualifies the whole region of the Haram esh-Sharif with its Dome of the Rock from being considered because there were then many Christian and former Muslim buildings in evidence in those areas). This shows that Rabbi Kimchi was not allegorizing about the ruins and desolation of the Temple site.
The fact is, Rabbi David Kimchi in 1235 C.E. was the last Jewish authority who unambiguously stated that the beautiful Christian/Muslim buildings of the Dome of the Rock and the Al Aqsa Mosque COULD NOT BE the site of the Temple. These Christian/Muslim areas were not in ruins. Just the opposite was the case. With the seventh century, the Muslims began to build the Al Aqsa Mosque in the southern part of the Haram, and then near the end of the century we find Abn al-Malik constructing the famous Dome of the Rock over the former site of the Church of the Holy Wisdom and its “oblong rock.” For the grandeur of the Haram esh-Sharif in Arab times, we have the eyewitness reports of Muslim travelers (principally Nasir-i Khusraw and Al Ghazali), and the Christian Daniel the Abbot(see F.E.Peters, “Jerusalem,” pp.246-250, 280, 314-316, 358, 374,5) who report the beautiful buildings and pavements of the plaza areas that were in various parts of the Haram esh-Sharif and that the earlier Muslims and the later Christians viewed the precincts as a holy and sanctified place. It was especially taken care of with utmost attention and that no ruins of any kind were found within its confines. Even with frequent earthquakes the sites were quickly restored.
The Start of Jewish Attention that the Dome of the Rock was the Actual Temple Site
But things began to change about the site of the Temple at Jerusalem. Even in the time of Maimonides, Rabbi Samson and David Kimchi who showed the actual Temple site to be in desolate ruins, there were some Jews who were beginning to think that the Dome of the Rock was indeed the location of the Temple. And within another hundred years, all Jewsaccepted the changeover with the full sanction of the Jewish authorities. The change in Jewish attitude came quickly and without ambiguity. It first developed with the observations of a Jewish traveler who happened to pass through Jerusalem on his round-trip journey from the city of Tudela in northern Spain into Babylon, then to Egypt and finally back to Tudela. This traveler made his trip in the middle of the twelfth century. He was known as Benjamin of Tudela. He visited Jerusalem for a short visit about 1169 C.E. He was the first Jew who unambiguously stated that the area of the Dome of the Rock was the Temple site.
Benjamin of Tudela arrived on the scene in Jerusalem when the Christians in the Crusade period were in control of Jerusalem and they had been masters of the city for the previous 70 years. When Benjamin got there he found four Jewish people who lived near the Tower of David (as it was being called) near the present day Jaffa Gate. Some texts of Benjamin state that he found “200 Jews,” but this is contradicted by another Jewish traveler of the same period by the name of Petahyah of Regensburg who stated that there was only one Jew (a dyer) in the city when he visited it (see Prawer, The History of the Jews in the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem, p.48). Just a handful of Jews were in Jerusalem when Benjamin of Tudela hurriedly visited the Holy City. This has to be the case because when the Christian Crusaders conquered Jerusalem in 1099 C.E., they forbad any Jew from entering the city (this also included Muslims) and this prohibition was strictly adhered to for at least 52 or so years. But after that period of 52 years of complete Jewish abandonment of the Holy City, a few Jews then began to live in or on the edge of Jerusalem. So, there were from one to four Jews in the area in the time of Benjamin of Tudela. It was at this time that some Jews (but not all) first began to think that the Dome of the Rock was the site of the Holy of Holies of their former Temples. Benjamin testified to this fact. These Jews simply began to acknowledge that the Christians and Muslims were right in identifying the spot as that of their former Sanctuary.
Why Benjamin of Tudela Readily Accepted the Dome of the Rock as the Temple Site
Let us now look at an important observation made by Benjamin of Tudela when he got to Jerusalem. He reports an event that occurred 15 years before he visited the city during which some workers on the southwestern hill called by Christians “Mound Zion” (while working on rebuilding a wall of a Christian church) accidentally came upon a cavern which was filled with tombs and other finery that was interpreted by a Jewish resident of Jerusalem as being the tombs of David, Solomon and the other Kings of Judah. The Jewish person who made the interpretation was named Abraham al-Constantini. So, this means (if the story is factual – and later Jews took it to be) that this Abraham al-Constantini must have been in Jerusalem in the year 1054 C.E. (some 15 years before Benjamin of Tudela talked with him about the discovery of the so-called tombs of David, Solomon and the Kings of Judah when he visited the city). Before that period of Abraham al-Constantini (and for a period of at least 52 years) there had not been a single Jew who could enter into Jerusalem. The city had been empty of Jews for over five decades. Indeed, in 1129 C.E., the Spanish Rabbi Abraham Hiyya said: “Not even one Jew is to be found in Jerusalem in our own days” (see Prawer, ibid., p.48).
Those 52 or so years when there were no Jews able to visit Jerusalem (from 1099 to 1151 C.E. or thereabouts) is an important period of time in our quest to explain why Jews finally began to accept the Dome of the Rock in the Haram esh-Sharif as the real site of the Temple (even though the Jews who began to think so were mistaken in their beliefs). The fact is, during that period of 52 years Jerusalem underwent a great change geographically. The Christians came into the region and began to tear down former buildings and to construct new ones. And when Jews (almost two generations later – and having been ejected from Jerusalem for over five decades) came back to the city, the memories of how it once appeared were different from what was then being displayed. That span of 52 years is a long time for Jews to be prohibited from entering Jerusalem. That is like stating that no Jew of modern times ever visited Jerusalem from Israel’s Independence Day as a State in 1948 until the Spring of 2000 when the Pope visited the city. Of course, in our time Jerusalem has grown and grown so that over a half million Jews live in the surrounding area, but back in the period of the first five decades of the Crusader period, NOT A SINGLE JEW had visited or entered the city of Jerusalem (the Jews were banned from doing so by the Christian masters of the city).
In 1152 C.E., however, one or two Jews were permitted to live near the Tower of David at the Jaffe Gate. One of them must have been Abraham al-Constantini because it was about 1154 C.E. that Benjamin of Tudela stated that Abraham al-Constantini told him of the discovery of the Tombs of David, Solomon and the other Kings of Judah underneath a church on the southwest hill of Jerusalem then being called by the Christians “Mount Sion” (Christians use the spelling “Sion” rather than “Zion”). Indeed, Benjamin states that it was this Abraham al-Constantini who informed the Christian bishop that the newly discovered tombs were those of David and the other kings. Though the bishop had the entrance to the tomb/cavern soon closed up and no one has since seen the resplendence of the Tombs as they were described by Benjamin, still the knowledge of that archaeological discovery spread like wild-fire throughout the whole of the Christian, Muslim and Jewish worlds. This new “Tomb area” was considered an archaeological discovery of great significance and the interpretations based upon it began to change the very way Christians, Muslims and especially Jews viewed the early geography of Jerusalem. Let us see why.
If there really was a Tomb area found on the Christian “Mount Sion” just before the time of Benjamin of Tudela, it was because Simon the Hasmonean in the second century before Christ moved David’s “Tomb” (which he built as a cenotaph, and not an actual Tomb) to thesouthwest hill. I have explained this as a definite possibility in my book. But whatever was discovered, the matter became a very controversial subject even with the Jews when they came to interpret that “archaeological” discovery. If those tombs were reckoned to be genuine (and not simply a later cenotaph), then it meant that the southwest hill was indeed the real and proper “Mount Zion” and it was NOT the southeast ridge that the Jews from the time of Omar had thought (recall that the SEVENTY FAMILIES mentioned in the Geniza documents wanted to be near the Temple in the SOUTHERN part of Jerusalem and Jewish presence continued in the southeast quadrant – and only there — until 1077 C.E.).
This discovery of the so-called “Tomb of David” prompted some Jews to question the validity of the southeast hill. This was especially so because this “Tomb of David” was located at a church that was believed to be built over the ruins of a Jewish synagogue whose walls showed that the building was orientated with its niche directed northward. Though our modern scholars have now surmised that the ruined structure within the church area is actually that of a fourth or fifth century Christian church (NOT a synagogue) that was destroyed by the Persians in 614 C.E. or by later Muslims in 965 C.E. (a good summary of these archaeological details is found in the excellent book: Blue Guide Jerusalem, p.237), in the Middle Ages it was thought the remains were those of a Jewish synagogue built at the so-called “Tomb of David.” What was striking about the holy niche in the building was its northward orientation that seemed to focus attention toward the Haram esh-Sharif and the Dome of the Rock. Since Jewish tradition stated that early synagogues in Palestine were normally oriented toward the Temple, this particular configuration of this church (that was erroneously thought to be a synagogue) was precisely in the direction of the Dome of the Rock. This appeared to be proof that the region of the Haram esh-Sharif must have been the true site of the Temple (and that it was NOT situated on the southeastridge as all history and biblical teaching demanded that it be). Because of this assumption, within a century of this so-called “archaeological” discovery, Jews were now speaking dogmatically about “the Royal Tombs on Mount Zion” (see the work Sefer Qabbalath Sadiqei Eretz Israel as cited by Prawer, ibid., pp.176-180). This is further confirmed by what is called The Forged Itinerary of Rabbi Menahem of Hebron in 1215 C.E. who spoke of “the Tombs of the Kings on Mount Zion” (Prawer, ibid., p.223). And then in 1270 to 1291 there is The Itinerary of the Anonymous Pupil of Nachmanides who not only visited the site of the “Tomb of David” (and the other kings) but he described a building at the place which was then being called (hold on to your hats, folks), “the Temple of David” with the Hebrew name Heikhal describing it. This same Hebrew word was that which sometimes was used for the Holy of Holies in the actual Temples. And note this. This later Jewish traveler gave a further interpretation about this new site on the Christian “Mount Sion.” He stated: “Some [Jews] say that the Ark of the Covenant which was brought by David [to Jerusalem] rested here [on the southwest hill] until he built the Temple.” The author then added the further interpretation: “Not far away [from this “Temple”] is the Tower of David, built of huge stones.” This was the Christian “Tower or David” located at the Jaffe Gate to the north and west. The author then stated that anyone can see that this Tower of David “is an ancient building” (Prawer, ibid., pp.239,240).
So, by the end of the thirteenth century, even the Jewish authorities throughout the world had mistakenly gone over to believing that the southwest hill was indeed the original “Mount Zion” of David’s time. And with the so-called “synagogue” under the church where the “Tomb” was supposed to have been pointing its niche toward the Dome of the Rock, it was easy for the whole community of the Jews (along with the Christians and Muslims) to identify the area of the Haram esh-Sharif as the former Temple site of the Jews. They also began to believe that the so-called “Tower of David” at the Jaffe Gate was the real “Tower” of David. The truth is, that false “Tower” was built no earlier than the sixth century and it was situated about three quarters of a mile northwest of where the former and accurate “Citadel [Tower] of David” was positioned in biblical times. From this time onward, the confusion (it should be called “the deception“) was now complete and within two generations after the time of the Crusades, all people (including the Jews) now accepted the Dome of the Rock as the place near where the Holy of Holies once existed. They forgot all about the proper place on the southeast ridge.
This was the period when all peoples finally accepted the southwest hill of Jerusalem as the actual “Zion,” and they forgot the real biblical “Zion” on the southeast hill. So certain did this false identification become in the eyes of all scholars, historians and theologians that even Robinson (one of the great explorers of Palestine in the early 19th century and after whom “Robinson’s Arch” in the western wall of the Haram esh-Sharif is named) said the truth of the southwest hill as being the real “Mount Zion” was thoroughly unassailable. To him and his colleagues there was not the slightest doubt that the southwest hill was the correct biblical site. Indeed, virtually everyone throughout the world (and at all official levels of academic and theological authorities of all religious persuasions) dogmatically accepted that the southwest hill was the true “Mount Zion.” The error brought chaos to the actual biblical geography of Jerusalem. Among other mistakes because of this wrong identification, Robinson went so far as to believe that the Gihon Spring (which the Bible shows was at the foot of “Mount Zion” at the southeast ridge) was actually a place west of the southwest hill and down in the upper valley (wadi) Er-Rababi where water would drip from crevices in the wet season. Robinson’s location was at least a mile west of where it actually was (see George Adam Smith, Jerusalem, vol.I, p.83).
The Jewish authorities had been swayed by this archaeological discovery and the orientation of the so-called “synagogue” at what was considered the “Tomb of David,” that they shifted the real “Mount Zion” of biblical Jerusalem erroneously to the southwest hill. So entrenched did this new concept become regarding the geography of Jerusalem that both Christians, Muslim and Jews began to accept the southwestern “Zion” as certain. As a matter of fact, as I explain in my book, all scholars in England and America until the year 1875 C.E. strongly believed that the southwest hill was indeed the “Mount Zion” that David conquered from the Jebusites. Thankfully, however, common sense finally returned to the thinking of scholars about 1875 C.E. It was the indefatigable efforts of W.F. Birch in England who wrote his passionate pleas (he held out almost single-handedly against the opinions of all the scholars in his day) that the southwest hill WAS WRONG and that the southeast hill was the correct “Mount Zion” (he wrote in the Palestine Exploration Fund Quarterly from 1875 to 1885). Birch’s persistence on behalf of the truth paid off and all the scholars in the universities finally had to give in and accept that the southeast hill was proper and that thesouthwest hill WAS NOT the original “Mount Zion.” Yes, W.F. Birch won the match againstall the top scholars of his day including the most respected and prestigious in the business. It is interesting that this procedure is now being repeated in my endeavor to get the Temple site back to its original position over the Gihon Spring. The truth is, everyone now knows that the original “Mount Zion” was truly on the southeast hill and this shows that the Jewish authorities who wanted to settle “near the former Temple” in the time of Omar and Sophronius went to that southeast region and settled. No Jew before the twelfth century showed any interest in the erroneous southwest hill until that “archaeological discovery” was made 15 years before Benjamin of Tudela went to Jerusalem. The main culprit who introduced the error was the reference to this “discovery” in the account of Benjamin of Tudela in 1169 C.E.
What Did Benjamin of Tudela Report and What are his Qualifications?
The events that were told Benjamin of Tudela about Jerusalem when he got to the Holy City made him instantly arrive at some profound conclusions on the early geography of Jerusalem that no Jewish authority before his time had unambiguously accepted. But Benjamin presented his views with vigor and certainty. Without the slightest doubt, and with full dogmatism, Benjamin arrived at the conclusion that the Christians were right and that the Dome of the Rock was the actual site of the former Temples of the Jews. He stated: “Jerusalem is furnished with four gates, called the Gate of Abraham, of David, of Zion, and of Jehoshaphat. The latter stands opposite the Holy Temple, which is occupied at present by a building, called Templo Domino [the Dome of the Rock]. In front of it [to the west, because Christian entrance to the building was on the west] you see the western wall, one of the walls which formed the Holy of Holies of the ancient Temple, it is called the Gate of Mercy [on the east where one could view it] and all Jews resort thither to say their prayers near the wall of the court yard [the east wall of the Haram]” (Sarah Benjamin, The World of Benjamin Tudela, p.171, emphasis and words in brackets are mine). His dogmatism as to these identifications were no doubt prompted by what he learned from Rabbi Abraham al-Constantini about the Tombs of David found on the Christian “Mount Zion” and the orientation of the early church (which they interpreted as being a “synagogue”) being directed toward the Haram esh-Sharif. It was the discovery of these so-called “Tombs” (and the “synagogue”) that prompted all later Jews to adopt the Dome of the Rock as the actual site of the Temple (as Christians demanded and even the Muslim were now accepting).
Though some Rabbis in the first hundred years after the archaeological discovery knew better (notably Maimonides and Rabbi David Kimchi who said the Temple site was still in ruins and was desolate – and Rabbi Kimchi even stated that no Christian or Muslim building had ever been constructed on the true Temple Mount), by the end of the thirteenth century, there was not a Jew in the world (of which we have record) that did not accept the Dome of the Rock as the real site of the Temple and even that it was the place of the Holy of Holies. Even the “western wall” was identified as being in front of the entrance to the CrusaderTemplo Domino (there was a short and low balustrade that once stood in that area that the Jews mistakenly thought was the “Western Wall” of the Holy of Holies that the Jews wrote about in the period of the Talmud and a short time afterward). Of course, the Jews of the earlier period were speaking about a “Western Wall” near a cave over and near the Gihon Spring, but Benjamin of Tudela boldly asserts (and without the slightest compunction) that the so-called “Western Wall” was then found at the entrance to the Dome of the Rock. [Note: even this so-called “Western Wall” of the Holy of Holies as described by Benjamin of Tudela, is NOT TO BE CONFUSED with the later “Western Wall” of the Haram esh-Sharif (which became the “Wailing Wall” of the Jews only in the sixteenth century). I will explain next month just how the later “Wailing Wall” became the so-called “Western Wall” of Jewish tradition. There is NOT THE SLIGHTEST DOUBT, the present “Wailing Wall” of the Jewish authorities (accepted by most religious Jews) is an invention of the sixteenth century and it has no relevance whatever to any architecture of the first century. Interestingly, Jewish scholars today admit this fact.
However, it was this Benjamin of Tudela who was the first Jewish person who unambiguously stated that the Dome of the Rock was the site of the Holy of Holies and that the balustrade then in front of its entrance was the “Western Wall” of Jewish tradition. Just who was this Benjamin of Tudela who pontificated on all these matters? No one knows anything about him besides what he wrote in his treatise that has come down to us. He writes of the Jewish people who were in the towns and cities he visited (even giving the names of eminent scholars and politicians), but his accounting is strange because when he gets to Cairo in Egypt he fails to mention the presence of Maimonides (the leader of all Egyptian Jews, and one of the most outstanding Jews in all history and one who had influence throughout all Jewry). That would be like someone traveling to Mount Vernon in Virginia two hundred years ago and mentioning all about several activities of the area (and Benjamin always mentioned the top leaders of Jewry and even of the Gentiles in the other lands he visited), yet the man failed to say a word about the activities or presence of George Washington the first President of the United States. There is much to be desired in the geographical reporting of this Benjamin. He was sloppy in his accounting. This is easily shown.
The Glaring Geographical Mistakes of Benjamin of Tudela
The geographical knowledge of Benjamin of Tudela was one of great ignorance and his judgments are often absurd. For one thing, when the archaeological discovery was made of “David’s Tomb,” Benjamin boldly placed Mount Zion in Jerusalem half a mile west of where it actually was. He also placed the early Citadel of David (called in his day the Tower of David) almost a mile northwest of where it once was. He placed the Temple a third of mile north of its actual location. Not only that, when he entered the Holy Land at Tyre, he journeyed south and when he came to Haifa he called it the ancient Gath-Hepher where Jonah was born (although the actual city of Gath-Hepher was located about 25 miles northeast of Haifa). He also said Capernaum was located south of Haifa on the Mediterranean coast, though it was actually located on the Sea of Galilee about 40 miles northeast of where he placed it. He also said that the famous Maon of Judah (located about 8 miles southwest of Hebron in Judah) was also the same place as Capernaum and located just south of Haifa. He said that Caesarea was the city of Gath where David hid out for awhile, though the city of Gath was 30 miles south and east of Caesarea. He stated dogmatically that one of the streams that came from Mount Hermon (the eastern one) was in fact the River Arnon that anciently separated Moab from Edom (but the Arnon River was actually located about 100 miles south of where Benjamin placed it). And he also located the city of Keilah of Judah at least 60 miles away from its actual location. Most of these anomalies of Benjamin are recorded by Col. Claude R. Conder of the Royal Engineers (and one of last centuries’ top scholars regarding Holy Land geography) in a report to The Palestinian Exploration Fund Journal dated 27th of October, 1876. Indeed, when this Benjamin was traveling through southern Italy in the province of Apulia, he said the capital city of that province is where the Assyrian king named “Pul” came from (mentioned in II Kings 15;19 and I Chronicles 5:26). Let’s face it, the land of Assyria in Asia and Southern Italy in Europe are two very different locations on earth. And even if there were a slight bit of historical truth that Benjamin recorded from the Jewish tradition that he accepts without criticism, his opinion is jaundiced because he gives so many ridiculous and outrageous erroneous statements concerning geographical matters in his work that a child would know are not correct. Without the slightest tinge of criticism, Benjamin reported that he saw in Rome “two copper pillars constructed by King Solomon, of blessed memory, whose name ‘Sh’lomo ben David’ is engraved on each.” He continues: “The Jews of Rome say that every year, about the time of the Ninth of Ab, these pillars sweat so much that the water runs down from them” (Sandra Benjamin, The World of Benjamin of Tudela, p. 88). One wonders how the Romans (and for what reason) received the two pillars of Solomon from the first Temple that was destroyed in the time of Nebuchadnezzar (King of Babylon in Mesopotamia) in the sixth century B.C.E.? Though Benjamin expressed no doubt in the veracity of the story, I have to apologize to my friends who are believers in such folklore that I cannot accept such unreasonable nonsense. The fact is, Benjamin was not only a sloppy and ignorant geographer, he also became a most dangerous authority for later Jews because many accepted his opinions without controversy.
But wait a moment. The Jews who lived after the Crusades are not entirely to blame for accepting these outlandish geographical anomalies of Benjamin of Tudela and other Christian and Muslim accounts of the time that are equally absurd and false. Do you know why Benjamin of Tudela placed Capernaum and Maon (two different cities and miles apart from each other) at the same location near the Mediterranean coast south of Haifa? That’s because the Christian authorities told him that is where those cities were then reckoned to be, and he gullibly believed the Christians. Col. Claude R. Conder of the Royal Engineers in his report to The Palestinian Exploration Fund Journal dated 27th of October, 1876 related that Benjamin of Tudela placed Capernaum and Maon on the main highway from Haifa to Jerusalem because Christian authorities wanted to grant pilgrims their full religious indulgences that the Roman Church were then awarding if they went to such places. But because at the time, the Muslims controlled both Capernaum and Maon, so the ecclesiastical authorities wanted to satisfy Christian pilgrims that they had indeed been to those holy places so they officially moved those cities from their original sites to the main road to Jerusalem so that Christians could conveniently stop off and gain their sought after indulgences that the Church guaranteed. That’s right. It was our misguided Christian church authorities who moved those two cities to the same convenient location on the main highway (at least 40 and 60 miles from their sites) and Benjamin of Tudela simply accepted these geographical errors without the slightest criticism.
Such things were common practice at the time. In the year 1291, the so-called “House of Mary” in Nazareth was, according to top ecclesiastical authorities, transported physically through the air to a place in Croatia in Europe. But that was not on the most favored route for pilgrimage, so three years later it was also carted (lock, stock and barrel) by the angelic hosts to a laurel grove near Loreto in Italy where it became a very famous place of pilgrimage. Now, the faithful did not have to go to Palestine to get their indulgences from the Vatican. They could now accomplish all they needed to do in regard to worshipping at the very “House of Mary” that the angels had transported to Loreto. Note what theEncyclopedia Britannica has to say about this famous site of pilgrimage. “Papal bulls were issued in favour of the shrine. Pope Innocent VII established a special mass for the feast of the Transportation of the Holy House (December 10)” (article: Loreto). Indeed, so sure and certain is the Vatican of the holiness of the site and that the angels did in fact transport Mary’s House to Loreto in Italy that “Benedict XV declared the Madonna di Loreto to be the patron of modern aviators (1920)” (ibid.). Some of us might laugh at such nonsense (and I believe the story deserves such laughter), but Roman Catholic Church officials to this very day DO NOT laugh at these accounts. They take them seriously and even papal authority vindicates their veracity by awarding the patronage of those angels to our modern airplane pilots.
Of course, this transporting through the air by the angels of the “House of Mary” from Nazareth to Loreto is a Christian story. We should think that no Jewish person would be so daft as to believe such nonsense. Oh? Again (hold on to your hats, folks) because the Jewish religious authorities have a similar account that happened about the same time to the stones of the Temple once it was destroyed by Titus in 70 C.E. Note the following quote from the excellent work by Zev Vilnay titled Legends of the Jews that is published by the Jewish Publication Society of America. It states:
“In the city of Prague, the capital of Czechoslovakia, there is a synagogue which dates back to the most ancient days of the exile. According to tradition, its foundation contains stones taken from the Great Temple in Jerusalem. After the destruction of the Temple, angels carried on their wings a number of stones, and said to the Holy One, blessed be He: ‘Lord of the Universe, we take these holy stones on the condition that when the Temple is rebuilt, we are to return them to their place.’ Then the angels took the stones to Prague and left them in the Jewish quarter; over them a synagogue was built. Therefore the Jews name the synagogue ‘On Condition’ – in Hebrew Al Tenai. With the passing of generations, the name Al Tenai was corrupted into Altneu-Shul, which in Yiddish means Old-New Synagogue” (p.204, emphasis mine).
That is not all. Following up on the belief that angels deposited some stones of the Temple in Prague, Vilnay continues:
“It is reported by Rabbi Yitzak of Moskovera: ‘The old synagogue in the city of Prague was built from stones of the Temple, because as the children of Israel went forth in the abundance of their love for its holiness, to fulfill the words of the psalmist: ‘because Your servants desired her stones.’ And when they came to the city of Prague, they built there a synagogue, and they placed there these stones.” When the Temple was destroyed, the Holy One, blessed be He, scattered its stones over all the world. And on every place where a stone fell, a synagogue was erected. Therefore, each synagogue is called “a little Temple” because it contains within it a little of the Great Temple of Jerusalem” (Legends of Jerusalem, pp.204,205, the punctuation is Vilnay’s).
There you have it! No wonder archaeologists cannot find stones of the Temple in Jerusalem! We have this Jewish account that the angels have carried them to all areas of the world and then the angels directed that synagogues be raised up in the sites in which those stone chips have been deposited. Believe it if you will. People in the Middle Ages certainly did. We can call all of this mere folklore if we wish (but, as I said before), the papacy of Christendom does not consider the transportation of the “House of Mary” to Loreto as folklore, nor do many Jewish religious leaders believe their “little Temples” (with stones from the literal Temple in Jerusalem at their sites) to be mere folklore. But folks, this is the very type of teaching that finally got the Christians to switch the place of the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ Jesus from the Mount of Olives (where the Holy Scriptures demand that the events took place) to their Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the western part of Jerusalem, and it was the same type of teaching that got the Jewish authorities in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries to transfer the site of their former Temples from the southeast ridge up the northeast quadrant of early Jerusalem where the Dome of the Rock is now situated. And these erroneous sites are being taught by official church and synagogue leaders within this modern period. Oh God, help us!
The Muslims are no better off. Vilnay gives another tradition (this time a Muslim one). He relates that the Muslim geographer Makadissi, who was born in Jerusalem, wrote in 955 C.E. that “on the night of Arafat [when Muslim pilgrims gather on the Mount of Arafat near Mecca], the water in the holy well of Zamzam [which was shown to Hagar and her son Ishmael, and is near the mosque of Mecca] flows underground to the water of the Spring of Siloam [in Jerusalem]. And the people hold a festival here [in Jerusalem] on that evening” (ibid., p280). This Muslim belief reckons that underground stream at travelling about 800 miles from Mecca to Jerusalem. Indeed, nearby the Haram esh-Sharif is the famous Muslim bath called “the Bath of Healing.” Vilnay again comments with a modern example of transference: “They [the Muslims] believe that its waters come from the Well of Zamzam in Mecca, the holy city of Arabia. Should you appear unconvinced,” said Vilnay, “they will tell you the following story, which you must admit,” said Vilnay with tongue in cheek, “is conclusive proof.” Vilnay then relates the story: “A few years ago a Muslim from India went on his pilgrimage to Mecca. As he was bathing in the holy waters of the Well of Zamzam, a unique and valuable bowl which he had brought with him was carried away by the stream. This bowl was made of copper, and engraved theron were many artistic and distinctive pictures and designs. The pilgrim was much grieved over his loss and consoled himself by visiting sacred sites. From Arabia he traveled to Jerusalem, and there he went to the Bath of Healing. When he was bathing, he suddenly saw in the flowing waters the very bowl he had lost. Only the water which flows underground from the Well of Zamzam in Mecca to Jerusalem could have carried it thither” (ibid., p.212). Many of the religious Muslims in Jerusalem believe this story. Should we believe it?
What I am trying to show is the fact that even modern religious authorities continue to relate or sustain such stories about the transference of sacred spots and items to other areas of holiness. Since this is the case, why should we blame Benjamin of Tudela for reporting that Capernaum and Maon (brought to a single location) was where the Christian authorities had falsely placed them just south of Haifa? It is difficult to blame Benjamin (who merely reported what he was told), when we have the Vatican in our modern period also stating with utter belief that “Mary’s House” in Nazareth can no longer be seen in that city because the angels took it to Loreto in Italy. And we have religious Jews convinced that the oldest synagogue in Prague was made from stones from the ruined Temple that the angels carried through the air to the spot. And many religious Jews believe that each site for a synagogue was where an angel positioned a part of a stone from the Temple no matter where the synagogue is found in the world. Indeed, even Vilnay tells us that the originator of modern Zionism (Herzl, who was NOT a practicing religious Jew) was prompted by his nostalgia to name his book proposing a modern Jewish state by the name of the Prague synagogue, Altneu-land. The Hebrew translation of this very work was titledTel Aviv (Hill of spring) the name later given to the first city established by Zionist efforts in the land of Israel. The naming of the modern city of Tel Aviv from accounts generated from Jewish folklore may be for nostalgic reasons alone, but such innocent procedures often have a strange way of becoming very literal as time passes and people want to rescue traditional beliefs from being simply traditional nonsense. It is the use of such erroneous teachings that people are led far away from simple and common sense biblical truths. The modern church and synagogue authorities need to change their ways and admit these are profound errors.
My prayer is: Oh Lord, may you help us at the beginning of this twenty-first century to jettison these “Dark Age” beliefs that now thrive and flourish within the bowels of the religious authorities of this world whether they are Christian, Muslim or even Jewish. Oh God, please help us to get rid of this “crap” that now embraces the foundational beliefs of our Christian, Muslim and Jewish theological doctrines and that lead us (and sustain us) in enormous errors and rampant foolishness. This is my urgent prayer to God. I plead with the Pope, with Billy Graham, with the Archbishop of Canterbury (and with all other religious authorities) to help us get rid of these ridiculous and absurd beliefs and teachings that have made even the Jews to lose their Temples. God speed that day.
The Expansion and Portability of Zion
By Ernest L. Martin, PH. D., August 2000
(This content is the intellectual property of Associates
for Scriptural Knowledge)
The city limits of Jerusalem can be extended to include Damascus, Syria. This statement may at first seem absurd and even illogical, but biblical teaching (as understood by early Jewish Rabbis and even by modern biblical interpreters) not only states that this evaluation is true, the Bible even demands that people acknowledge something akin to this in Zechariah 9:1. This may appear to be a strange conclusion because Damascus is located some 130 air miles north and east of present day Jerusalem. Nonetheless, I will show in this research study that Jerusalem can legally (from God’s point of view) become a much larger city than the “Jerusalem” we observe at the present over which the Israel and the Palestinians are now contending.
The interpretation, however, goes further than that. Since the Bible teaches that God dwells figuratively on earth in His divine House called the Temple (first built by Solomon, rebuilt by Zerubbabel and then enlarged extensively by King Herod), the statement in Zechariah 9:1 also means that the physical and spiritual parameters associated with the holiness of the Temple of God could be extended to the geographical environment of Damascus. It all depends on whether God decrees the expansion. And God does! The Bible states that God will dwell (find a resting place) in the northern city of Damascus and His abode will occur before the Second Advent of Christ back to this earth. We have the express statement in the prophetic teaching of Zechariah 9:1 (which is clear in the Hebrew) that the City of Damascus is destined to become a city in which the God of heaven and earth will one day reside.
We have Jewish documents composed around the ninth to twelfth centuries of our era that reveal the Jewish authorities beginning particularly at that time to mention Zechariah 9:1 as a section of divine Scripture which denotes that the city limits of Jerusalem could be extended to include the City of Damascus. In the Midrash Rabbah Song of Songs, we read: “Rabbi Johanan said: ‘Jerusalem will in the time to come extend as far as the gates of Damascus, as it says, The burden of the word of the Lord. In the Land of Hadrach, [and in Damascus shall be His resting-place]’ (Zech.9:1)” (see page 286 of the Midrash, Soncino edition). The Midrash gives further information. In this discussion among the Rabbis in this early medieval period, they relate: “Is Damascus His resting-place? Is His resting-place any other than the Temple? as it says, This [Jerusalem] is My resting-place for ever (Psalm 132:14)? He [Rabbi Johanan] replied: ‘Jerusalem will one day expand on all sides until it reaches the gates of Damascus, and the Exiles will come and rest under it, to fulfill what is written, Damascus shall be His resting-place; as if to say, As far as Damascus is His resting-place” (ibid., p. 287).
It was especially in the ninth to eleventh centuries (just before the Crusades) that the Jewish authorities began to discuss this “Damascus Residence” of God in a serious and urgent manner. This was because of great difficulties that were then occurring to the Jewish people in Jerusalem, which made the Holy City a very precarious place to live and to function as Jews. There had been such a deterioration in political matters (as well as the waters of the Gihon Spring over which the former Temples were built had turned bitter and even septic) that the Jews began to wonder if it were time for God to abandon His former desire to reside only in the central part of Jerusalem (that is, on the original Temple Mount) and that He would move to another area. The prophecy of Zechariah 9:1 had the plain teaching that God would one day, before the establishment of the Messianic Age, have His dwelling place in Damascus. This was scriptural authority for believing this.
It is interesting that the Jerusalem Academy (which was the headquarters in Palestine for the Jewish people) in 1077 C.E. definitely decided to move the Academy (NOT back to Tiberias but) to Damascus. As a result, the Jewish authorities abandoned the City of Jerusalem altogether just before the advent of the Crusaders (they had enough intelligence to know that Jerusalem was going to be the center of conflict and political upheaval). So, when the Crusaders took control of the city in 1099 C.E., the European nationals did not permit a single Jewish person for the next 50 years (according to the records) to enter the gates of Jerusalem.
When the Jews were finally able to return in the mid-twelfth century, we find recorded in the account of Benjamin of Tudela (the Jewish traveler who was one of the first Jews to re-enter the Holy City) a very different attitude had arisen regarding the site of the Temple in Jerusalem. By this time, even some of the Jewish authorities began to jettison the proper area of the former Temples (over and near the Gihon Spring on the southeast ridge) and they deemed it permissible to focus on the Dome of the Rock as the holy site in Jerusalem. Jews had never done this before. They did this because of a change in attitude in Jewish minds regarding their interpretations regarding Jerusalem, the Temple and matters concerning the whereabouts of Zion in various biblical contexts. The Jews were willing (erroneously) to adopt the opinion of Gentile Christians and Muslims and to look toward the Dome of the Rock as the site of the Holy of Holies. Actually, they began to regard the whole of the City of Jerusalem as being spiritual “Zion,” and that the Temple could be placed anywhere within the area and be reckoned a proper Temple site. They acknowledged that if the Messiah (when he would arrive) would desire the Temple back in its former site, that he would have the power and the will to accomplish the task. So, as early as the year 1077 C.E., the Jewish authorities in Jerusalem simply left the Holy City to the Gentiles and went to Damascus to await the start of the prophecy of Zechariah 9 through 14 which relates spectacular events leading up to the End of the Age and the coming of the Messiah.
Let us first understand one thing clearly. These six chapters (Zechariah 9 through 14) were written by the prophet Jeremiah (though they are found in Zechariah 9 through 14 — see Matthew 27:9 for the identity of the writer of these chapters). This single prophecy begins with the remarkable statement that God would find a “resting place” in Damascus. The language that Zechariah uses suggests that God would manifest Himself in Damascus like He once did at the Tabernacle or in the Temple at Jerusalem. This would require a demonstration of the legitimacy of His move. He would somehow have to reveal to mankind His Shekinah (His “Glory”) in Damascus to signal His presence in that area. Indeed, the prophecy stated that “the eyes of humanity” (all people in the entire world) would recognize His concentration to the City of Damascus. But why would God move His presence to Damascus? Such a desire to exalt Damascus seems almost inexplicable at first. A part of the problem in understanding it (for us modern interpreters in our western societies) is because the King James Version gives an awkward rendition of the Hebrew in the first verse of the prophecy. Let me translate from the Hebrew what it actually states: “An Oracle. A word of Yahweh against the Land of Hadrach. And Damascus [shall be] a resting place for Him [a place of repose or domicile for Yahweh], for on Yahweh [shall be] the eyes of humanity [that is, all humans on earth will turn their eyes toward Yahweh in Damascus] and all of the Tribes of Israel [shall also turn their eyes toward Yahweh in Damascus].”
Most people who love the Scriptures and its teachings are amazed (even shocked) to learn that God would ever take up a particular presence in Damascus, and that He would do so before the Messianic Age begins. This brings us to our time today. Why would God want to have His “presence” in Damascus? It is easy to read in the Bible how Jerusalem was once selected by God to contain His “House” (or “Home,” called the “Temple”) where His Shekinah would reside, but why would God desire to express His presence in the same fashion in Damascus? There are some scriptures that show God’s favoritism for Damascus. For one thing, God reveals that He has a special love for the city. God has always held the City of Damascus to be for Him a “city of joy.” Look at Jeremiah 49:24,25. These verses speak of a judgment on Damascus (like those judgments on Jerusalem and the cities of Israel), but God also admitted that He considered Damascus to be “the City of Praise [Renown]” and “the City of My Joy.” To discover the reason for this “praise and joy” that God has for Damascus, we should look at the prophecy that Jeremiah wrote in Zechariah 9 through 14.
Just What Is the Promised Land that God Gave to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob?
Almost a year ago, I wrote a Prophetic Report in my series on the Temple Update titled: “The Damascus Phase of End-Time Prophecy” to explain what the whole of the prophetic message entailed for us who live at this End of the Age. These six chapters (Zechariah 9 to 14) can be called the “Damascus Prophecy.” The essential thing to recognize is the fact that this divine oracle was directed to what is called “The Land of Hadrach.” As I have explained in previous research articles over the past few years (which information can be found on this Web Site on the Internet by clicking our “Search” button), the “Land of Hadrach” answers to the lands of the Middle East that were promised to Abraham and his progeny. If one applies the name as a geographical term, it means the “Area of the Fertile Crescent.” In analyzing the context of Zechariah, it can be seen that the Land of Hadrach extends from Egypt in the southwest to the head of the Persian Gulf in the southeast, and it also includes the whole of the Arabian Peninsula. This land is even described in Zechariah 9:10 as being “from sea even to sea [that is, in a west to east direction it means from the Mediterranean to the Indian Ocean], and from the River even unto the ends of the earth [that is, in a north to south direction it means from the Euphrates River to the southern end of the Arabian Peninsula].” This is the exact landmass that Solomon in his day understood to mean the “Land of Promise” (Psalm 72:8).
This “Land of Promise” was the territory that God intended to be inherited by Abraham and his children The reason the City of Damascus was selected to head the prophecy in Zechariah 9 in a geographical sense is because Abraham stated in Genesis 15:2 that if Isaac had not been born to be his heir, a righteous Gentile named “Eliezer of Damascus” would have become the one to inherit all his property and all the lands promised to Abraham. In Greek, “Eliezer” means “Lazarus.” This personage is the same “Lazarus” who was mentioned in Christ’s parable of “Lazarus and the Rich Man” — see my book “101 Bible Secrets” for the intriguing story behind this man “Lazarus.” Had Abraham’s legitimate and actual son Isaac not been born nor lived to manhood, it would have been this “Eliezer” (Lazarus) and his descendants who would have inherited this vast territory known as the “Land of Promise” (or, in biblical terms, The Land of Hadrach with their capital at Damascus).
Most people in the Middle East recognize this extent of land that the Bible promised to Abraham and his seed. The indigenous population in the area feels that the modern people of Israel wish to control and to benefit from the whole of this land area. It is interesting that the Israeli national flag in symbolic form denotes this area called Hadrach (the Land of Promise). Note that the Israeli flag has two horizontal blue lines across the top and bottom of the flag with the Star of David in the middle (the six pointed or double triune star) that in modern time has come to designated Judah (or, the Jews). The first blue line of the Israeli flag (as understood by many heraldic interpreters in the Middle East) represents the Euphrates River and the lower (or bottom) blue line answers to the eastern arm of the former Nile River that once separated the Land of Promise from Egypt. In a word, all of Palestine, Israel, the Levant and the Arabian and Sinai peninsulas represent this Land of Hadrach otherwise known as the “Land of Promise.” This is the proper interpretation of the biblical name Hadrach (although the etymological meaning remains obscure and it is even unrecognized in a geographical sense by most modern commentators). The name Hadrachhas given prophetic interpreters difficulties in application because there is no town or district anywhere near Damascus of which we have a provable and unvarnished record that could answer to it.
However, the context of Zechariah 9 to 14 establishes the identity of the name Hadrach. The “Land of Promise” (Hadrach) is the area of the earth in which God desires most to live (symbolically) than in any other. That is the land in which God chooses to reside when He is on earth (again, symbolically or otherwise). And though Jerusalem is God’s chief site for sanctification, there are other areas within the “Land of Promise” that God has His divine eyes upon for joy and praise, and Damascus is one of them. Indeed, if Isaac had not been born, it could just have well been Damascus (which is designated as the capital of the region) that would have been God’s chief city, not Jerusalem. And without controversy, Damascus, Syria will become (or has been in the past) a “resting-place” for God. I will soon show in this Temple Update that Damascus also figures in an important manner with a prime New Testament event that had profound influence on the development of Christianity. But let us first look at Damascus in its Old Testament setting. In the not-too-distant future, Damascus will emerge once again to prominence because Zechariah 9 through 14 shows its exaltation before the Messianic Age and before the Kingdom of God appears on earth. It could be said that if Jerusalem is a capital for Israel who live in the Land of Promise, then it is Damascus that should be the capital for Gentile peoples who live in the same area. We will soon look at this possibility.
The Emergence of Modern Damascus in Prophecy
We should keep our eyes on the present political scene in Damascus, Syria. We should all be aware from recent newscasts that a new and significant beginning has just occurred in Damascus that could well fit into the fulfillment of prophetic events mentioned in the Holy Scriptures that are immediately on the horizon. Some of the prophecies about Damascus in the Old Testament (with the city singled out for attention) have only been vaguely understood or shunted aside by modern prophetic interpreters. But in my judgment the time for the prophecies to be fulfilled in all their majestic wonder is not far away. As a matter of contemporary interest, the brand new ruler in Damascus (Bashar Assad) is quite a young man to have the responsibility of rule on his shoulders. At the same time (and in similar circumstances) a brand new and young ruler (King Abdullah) has come to the throne in the Kingdom of Jordan (which is a country directly abutting to Syria in the south). This combination of young rulers, in my view, is no accident as far as prophetic events are concerned. The fact is, a great change in political and social attitude is prophesied to take place in the Middle East (Zechariah 12:10ff). People in the world will begin to expect the Messianic Age to be on the horizon. One of the ingredients of that change in social and religious affairs will involve the attitude of our present young generations to the opinions of our older generations that are still with us. The prophecies show that a conflict in interests will develop between our young and the older generations.
The prophet Malachi predicted a specific social change would occur. He mentioned it at the end of his prophecy, which records events just before the time of the End. Malachi prophesied: “Behold, I [God] will send you Elijah the Prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful Day of the Lord: and he [this future “Elijah”] shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse” (Malachi 4:5,6). This prophesied “Elijah” is also to be a forerunner of (and the one who will introduce) the Messianic Age that is prophesied both in the Old and New Testaments. Christ Jesus made this very clear in Matthew 17:11. “And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elijah truly shall first come, and restore all things.” Those “all things” to be reinstated on earth from the past are referred to by the apostle Peter in Acts 3:19-21: “And He shall send Jesus Christ, which was before preached unto you: whom the heaven must receive until the time of the restitution of ALL THINGS [the restoring of ALL THINGS that the “Elijah” will do before Christ’s Second Advent], which God has spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.” This “restoring” or this “turning” and “reinstating” of things (meaning a change in social and religious themes) will involve the admittance of the opinions of the young over the beliefs and traditions of the elder generations on earth. The young are destined to assume rulership over a lot of the governments and educational institutions and facilities of the world. They will be successful. They will govern our world better than our oldsters have done. For one thing, they will look for every opportunity to bring peace and prosperity to this world, rather than perpetuating the traditional social, political and religious customs and traditions (beliefs that perpetuate hatreds) that have divided the world in the past. And they will succeed in their efforts that their elders found impossible to resolve. See Zechariah 12:10 through 13:6 where a type of this principle is shown.
The main thrust of Malachi’s prophecy is that the “Elijah” is destined to come before the Day of the Lord. He will “restore all things” and that this will occur when the fathers’ hearts will turn toward their children, and the children’s hearts will turn toward their fathers. This prophecy means that the present fathers will look to their children for proper answers (and they will get them from their children who will be more educated and more wise than they). Also, the children will look to their fathers (in this case, their ancient “fathers” of the Holy Scriptures such as Abraham Jacob, Moses, David, Malachi, John the Baptist, the apostles and to the real teachings of Christ Jesus). The children (young adults) will begin to teach their modern day fathers what the ancient fathers of mankind taught in the Holy Scriptures. This means that there will soon be a great revolution in understanding the real teachings of the Holy Scriptures (Daniel 12:4,9). God will bless this effort of teaching knowledge and understanding to the world. God will begin to work with the “young” who will principally do the work in teaching the “old” what the truths of God really are.
Amazingly, this is precisely what Christ Jesus did when he selected his apostles to do the work of changing the attitude of the world to accept the divine truths of the Gospel. He, himself, was just over 30 years of age when he began his official ministry. The twelve apostles were just a bit younger than he (according to all traditional evidence). And, remember that John the Baptist who was chosen to lead the way in first teaching about the coming Kingdom of God, was only six months older than Jesus. Remember also that the apostle Paul was just about 30 when he was called to lead the Christian teaching. And Paul selected Timothy when he was 17 years of age to administer the ekklesia in Ephesus. Other New Testament personalities such as Titus, Barnabas, Silas and Luke were all of a similaryoung age as Paul when they began their ministries. And besides that, even in Old Testament times we have the witness of Jeremiah the prophet who was selected by God to change the whole attitude of the world when he was 17 years of age. Ezekiel the prophet was slightly younger than Jeremiah and they prophesied at the same time. Even Isaiah the prophet started prophesying about 760 B.C.E. and was martyred about 698 B.C.E. This shows that Isaiah must have been about 15 to 20 years of age when he began his prophetic career. So, when Malachi prophesied that the time was coming when the young would teach the old just before the arrival of the Messianic age, we have many examples in the Holy Scriptures to show that God has applied that very procedure at times of world crises in the past. We should look for the same thing today, because that is precisely what is prophesied to occur.
So, keep your eyes on King Abdullah (the new young ruler of the Kingdom of Jordan) and also Bashar Assad (the new young ruler of Syria at his capital of Damascus). Remember, Damascus is to play a decisive role at the time God intervenes directly in world affairs. This will not be an obscure kind of dwelling for God in Damascus. The whole world is destined to acknowledge it. All people will begin to view God as having had (or, as having) a “residence” at or around the City of Damascus. The attention of the world should return to what happened (or, happens) at and near Damascus. There is even more reason to keep our eyes on Jerusalem and the Palestinian authorities in this regard. Get ready for the main prophetic events of the Scripture to start their fulfillment. We are on the verge of religious revolution. It is just on the horizon. All things are soon to be restored and reinstated. Even the Temple that Solomon once built (and rebuilt by Zerubbabel and then by Herod) will also become important and people will want to rebuild it again in the area of Jerusalem. We are soon to witness some exciting times.
Where the Temple Fits Into the Prophetic Picture at this Time of the End
Just before the period of the Crusades, the Jewish authorities began to view matters concerning the Temple, Jerusalem and Zion in a different perspective than they had been accustomed to in previous ages. In fact, the physical Temple of God became almost irrelevant to the Jews by the twelfth century. The non-importance of the physical Temple being rebuilt before the time of the Messiah was because of a series of historical events that occurred that changed the attitude of the Jewish authorities regarding the status of Jerusalem and also of the Temple. In a word, the authorities decided to abandon Jerusalem and the need for a physical Temple. They began to show little attention to the sites. They simply put the matter in the hands of the Messiah who would come with his army to rescue the Jews and bring them from exile into the Land of Canaan which they were prophesied to inherit along with other Abrahamic peoples.
So, just before the Crusades, Jews began to focus on a future prophetic period of the Messiah when Jerusalem and the Temple would indeed be rebuilt in all its sanctity with its physical and spiritual security. But before that could happen, and as a stroke of incentive to abandon Jerusalem, when the waters of the Gihon Spring around which the former Temples were built turned bitter and undrinkable just before 1077 C.E., this meant to the Jewish authorities that there was in Jerusalem no longer a fit symbol able to represent the pure and life-giving “waters of salvation” that were needed to emanate from the precincts of God’s House. The exact thing had happened in the brief period just before Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the Temple and Jerusalem in the sixth century B.C.E. The prophet Jeremiah said that the earlier Jews forsook “the fountain of living waters” (the Gihon Spring, which was a symbol for God’s “waters of salvation”) and they preferred and made cisterns to give themselves water to drink (Jeremiah 2:13). The early Jews said: “See that it [the Gihon Spring] is evil and bitter” (Jeremiah 2:19). They began to crave for the waters of the Euphrates and Nile rather than the bitter waters of the Gihon which were once pure (Jeremiah 2:18). This condition happened in the time of Nebuchadnezzar. But almost 1700 years later (in 1077 C.E.), when the waters of the Gihon Spring again had turned bitter and undrinkable, this was one of the reasons why the Jewish authorities (as I explained in my book “The Temples that Jerusalem Forgot”) simply took up stakes and moved the Jewish Academy from Jerusalem to Damascus. They felt at the time that God was abandoning Jerusalem and preparing the historical scene to introduce His Messiah and the Kingdom of God. And, within 22 years, the Europeans in the First Crusade changed the whole political and religious character of Jerusalem. The Jews sat on the sideline and watched. The Jews had no part in these political maneuverings. The Jewish Academy simply remained in Damascus to await the commencement of an End-Time prophecy that they thought they would soon witness. They could read that the prophecy of Zechariah 9 to 14 would start with God dwelling in Damascus of Syria before He would redeem Jerusalem and rebuild the Temple at its former spot in Jerusalem.
The Selection of Damascus for the Temporary Headquarters of God
The prophecy of Zechariah 9 to 14 begins with God determining to show His presence in Damascus. Jews have long known of this significant prophetic account. In the eleventh century, the Jewish authorities began to interpret Zechariah 9:1 as showing an extension of the city limits of Jerusalem to Damascus. This opinion was galvanized by a remarkable archaeological discovery that took place in Palestine somewhere around the ninth to tenth centuries. The discovery was as exciting to the people of this early medieval period as was the finding of the Dead Sea Scrolls in our past generation. It was the rescuing (apparently from a cave) of an ancient manuscript that was written by early Jewish people who called themselves the people of the Damascus Covenant. It was the same text as that found among some manuscripts of the Dead Sea Scrolls in our own times. The manuscript is called the “Damascus Document.” Several specimens have been found in the last fifty years. But as early as the ninth century of our era one of those texts was discovered and it began to circulate among some Jewish scholars in Palestine and Egypt. It was finally deposited in a synagogue room in Egypt in the twelfth century (called a Genizah that was built to house discarded manuscripts). The later Jews did not consider this particular document to contain what they affirmed to be orthodox teaching in some sections of its text (which was written in an older Hebrew than they were used to) so they finally discarded it. They put it aside from public view about the twelfth century. Professor Schechter of Cambridge University, however, at the end of the nineteenth century, discovered that document. It was the first of what we called today “The Dead Sea Scrolls.” It is a copy of a few other documents having the same text that were deposited among other literary selections in the caves near the Dead Sea and discovered from 1947 to recent times. Scholars even today call the documents that contain this identical text the “Damascus Documents.” This is because these early writers considered themselves to be Jews of Damascus.
This brings us to an important question. What is significant about the teachings of this manuscript having its origins even before the time of Christ? Its main thrust is to show a very different attitude of certain Jews to the role of the Temple at Jerusalem. It diminishes the need for a literal and physical Temple. They began to believe (like the apostle Paul later taught in the New Testament) that the whole community of Jews who adhered to the principles of their own Jewish sect could be reckoned collectively as “the Temple of God.” They took up the position echoed by many other Jews that “The Most High dwelleth not in Temples made with [human] hands” (see, for example, Acts 7:48; 17:24). They came to believe that the Spirit of God was actually designed by God to dwell in individual humans, and that collectively the community of righteous people could accurately be called the real “Temple of God.” In this view (which was that of the apostle Paul and New Testament teaching), the people of the “Damascus Document” felt they did not need a physical Temple of God to nurture them. They believed that wherever the People of God were, that is where the “Temple” was because it was the righteous people who had the Holy Spirit in them. Thus, to them the residence of the Spirit was not limited to a physical Temple in Jerusalem. So, if the People of God lived in (or had their headquarters in) the City of Damascus (let us say), then it had to be reckoned that God dwelt in Damascus. And why pick the City of Damascus. Because the Scripture stated that God would one day show His divine presence in Damascus as recorded in Zechariah 9:1. It is because of this verse that many of the people who wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls called themselves the people of the “Damascus Covenant.”
The Importance of Damascus in Prophecy
This single prophecy of Zechariah 9 through 14 begins with that remarkable statement that God would at the End of the Age show His presence in Damascus. In former times after the period of Solomon, the place where God had His House of residence on earth was in Jerusalem. For all official purposes God had only a single “House” on earth. That “House” is (or was) the Temple at Jerusalem (Deuteronomy 16:1-8). That became the only place on earth that God acknowledged for His covenant people, the Israelites. As a matter of fact, Jerusalem is still God’s favorite place (symbolically) to reside on earth. Look at God’s appraisal of Jerusalem (which He calls “Zion”): “Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised in the City of our God, in the Mountain of His holiness. Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth is Mount Zion [the chief joy for all the earth and for God Himself is Jerusalem], on the sides of the north, the City of the Great King [God Himself or His elected human representative]. God is known in her palaces for a refuge. For, lo, the kings [of the whole earth] were assembled [before Mount Zion], they passed by together [in political union and harmony in obeisance to God]” (Psalm 48:1-5). “For the Lord hath chosen Zion; he hath desired it [above all other areas] for His habitation” (Psalm 132:13). God not only desires living in Jerusalem (when the people are in harmony with Him), but He loves all of Jerusalem and He considers every one of those seven hills of Jerusalem as being seven “Zions” and He calls all of them “the Mountains [plural] of Zion” (Psalm 133:3).
But in Zechariah 9:1 there is recorded the precise statement from God Himself that He would also be showing His divine presence (His Shekinah “Glory”) in the City of Damascus in a period before the redemption of Jerusalem (as shown in the rest of Zechariah chapters 9 through 14). Since it was official biblical teaching that since the time of King David the only place on earth that God would reckon to be His “House” where He would live would be on Mount Zion, and since Mount Zion was located in Jerusalem, it could only mean (according to some Rabbinic interpretations) that Jerusalem (or, “Zion”) had to have its city limits expanded to include Damascus. The authority to make such an expansion of the City of Jerusalem and its precincts was well understood by the Jewish authorities even in the time of Herod and Jesus. This could be accomplished by convening a special meeting of the Sanhedrin at their second area of residence on the Mount of Olives at a village called Bethphage (the same village where Jesus told the disciples to fetch a donkey for him to ride into Jerusalem just before his trial and crucifixion). This special court of the Sanhedrin located on the Mount of Olives is mentioned in the Talmud (Sanhedrin 14a,b; Sotah 44b; 45a).
The Significance of Bethphage on the Mount of Olives
The village of Bethphage on the Mount of Olives was a most important religious center for the Jewish authorities in the period of Jesus and the apostles. It was a walled village that was the only area outside the walls and camp of Jerusalem that was considered by the Sanhedrin (the Supreme Court of the nation) to be an official part of the City of Jerusalem. It was strategically placed near the summit of the Mount of Olives. In this village was one of the two seats of the great Sanhedrin of seventy-one members. The other and prime seat of the Sanhedrin was in the Temple at the Chamber of Hewn Stones located just to the south and east of the Altar of Burnt Offering. Yet the walled village of Bethphage positioned just east of the western summit of the Mount of Olives (a little to the east of the Miphkad Altar where the Red Heifer was burnt to ashes and the Day of Atonement sacrifices were burnt) was where the other seat of Sanhedrin was located. There were specific decisions of the Sanhedrin that were reserved for determination only at this official seat of the court in Bethphage. Those were official judgments affecting the limits of the camp of Israel around the city of Jerusalem (and this included where the Red Heifer could be burnt). This authority embraced what districts surrounding Jerusalem were to be reckoned as inside the city. This also included what were to be the dimensions of the Temple (whether enlarged or restricted). And this is where death sentences for rebellious leaders of the nation as shown in Deuteronomy 17:8-13 were validated (Sanhedrin 14a,b; Sotah 44b; 45a).
The reason that these types of decisions were to be made “outside the camp” at this special village on the east side of Jerusalem is because it was necessary that these judicial sentences be made “at the entrance” to Jerusalem (or if local decisions were made by lesser Sanhedrins associated with the various towns throughout Judaea, they were held in the gates or entrances to the towns). There were biblical reasons for this. This is where the well-known judgment areas known as “within your gates” come into play. Note Proverbs 31:23 which says, “Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders.” Also: “Execute the judgment of truth and peace in your gates” (Zechariah 8:16). In the case of Jerusalem, which was the capital city of the nation, the principal gate to the city was on the eastern side just beyond the camp of the Israelites (that is, just “outside the camp”). Thus, the Sanhedrin had the village of Bethphage specifically built just to the east of the city limits of Jerusalem as they existed in the time of Jesus. [For more information on the importance of Bethphage in New Testament times, see my book “Secrets of Golgotha.”] What the Jewish authorities understood is the fact that the Sanhedrin had the power to determine the boundaries of the Temple (and to alter the dimensions of its inner compartments) and also to set the city limits of the City of Jerusalem or Zion. These judicial decisions were made at Bethphage on the summit of the Mount of Olives. Even after the fall of Jerusalem and the Temple in 70 C.E., later Jews returned to the Mount of Olives for important judicial matters. From 638 to 1077 C.E., later Jews continued this official role of the Sanhedrin being situated on the Mount of Olives. And in the eleventh century, the Jewish authorities began interpreting Zechariah 9:1 as showing an extension of the city limits of Jerusalem to Damascus.
All the Land of Canaan (the Holy Land) Was Determined to be Sanctified Like Jerusalem or Zion
By having the biblical revelation state that the holiness of Jerusalem could find a residence in Damascus (Zechariah 9:1) and the discovery of the Damascus Document which testified to the same interpretation in earlier times by former Jewish authorities, a new focus regarding the status of sanctification came into prominence among several intellectuals among the Jews. Whereas in the time of Saadiah Gaon (leader of the Jews who lived from 882 to 942 C.E.), there was little or no emphasis placed by Rabbinic Jews to recognize a supreme holiness to all the Land of Canaan (the Promised Land of the Israelites) and to compare it to the holiness of Jerusalem. However, that all began to change by the eleventh century. First, the Karaite Jewish sect (who did not observe the laws of the Talmud) originally suggested that all Jews should move to Palestine and settle in “the Holy Land.” This teaching even became sacrosanct with another important Rabbi. One of the greatest of the poetic Rabbis of the twelfth century (Judah Halevi, who died in 1141 C.E.) began a systematic teaching and taught a comprehensive philosophy that gave a unique status of sanctification to the whole Land of Israel, and not just to Jerusalem and to the Temple (seeThe Encyclopedia of Judaism, Neusner, Avery-Pick, Green, vol.I, pp.473-480). This is the first time that the term “Zionism” in an official sense came to mean that Jews should move to any part of the Land of Israel, and not simply to Jerusalem alone. Indeed, Judah Halevi in his poems (which were his philosophical means of promoting prime doctrines about the holiness of the Land of Israel) expanded the sanctity of Jerusalem and the Temple to include the whole of the Land of Israel. This was also the later interpretation that was used even by secular Jews in the nineteenth century to get Jews to migrate to Palestine. It was canonized by Jewish intellectuals as “Zionism.” What this approach did was to lessen the importance of Jerusalem itself (and certainly it diminished the need for a Temple).
This is when Jerusalem and the Temple began to be put into the background of importance in Jewish theological belief. In the following generation, Maimonides perpetuated this lack of interest in the earthly Jerusalem and the Temple. As a matter of fact, to Maimonides the thought of any Jew living in pre-Messianic Judaism wanting to rebuild the Temple was utter silliness. The very thought of advocating a new Temple was anathema to him. This quest to reconstruct the Temple, to Maimonides, smacked of teaching anthropomorphic concepts of God (that is, that God has a literal body and that he has a “House” to live in). Maimonides ridiculed and denounced such teaching (even though that teaching was a cardinal doctrine of the Holy Scriptures and sanctioned by the former Rabbinic authorities). Maimonides went so far as to state (in his third of thirteen doctrines that he believed defined the central principles of beliefs in Judaism) that God had NO BODY SHAPE at all. The Temple symbolisms, however, clearly taught the bodily existence of God. In normal Rabbinic circles in the past, God was thought to have a body made of spiritual substance with shape and form, but not made of material earth that we have in abundance on our globe. Indeed, the whole of the Old Testament (and the New) taught that God certainly had (and has) shape and form and that He possesses a body (made out of “spirit substance”).
Even the architectural design and rituals associated with the physical Temple strongly suggested that God had a body like those of us humans (Genesis 1:26). But Maimonides would have none of this teaching! He abhorred it! Indeed, in his own new type of Temple that he devised (as shown in section 3 and chapter 51 of his “The Guide of the Perplexed” — which only vaguely resembled the dimensions of God’s Temple), Maimonides taught that “the ignoramuses who observe the commandments” (he means those who try to observe the Law of God without being philosophers like Aristotle) will only find themselves barely worthy of getting into the border areas of the “Sanctuary” that Maimonides had devised and certainly not within his Holy of Holies along with Aristotle and the other philosophers who rank much higher than the simple Rabbinic observers of the Law. Even Moses, to Maimonides, obtained entrance to his ideal “Temple” because Moses, according to Maimonides, actually believed in the philosophical principles that were akin to later Aristotelian beliefs. He felt that Moses wrote the Law (with its clear and consistent teachings of the anthropomorphic characteristics of God — that is, that God had a body of spiritual substance that delineated shape and form) in an allegorical sense in order to satisfy the “ignoramuses” (the common people) of Israel and their material concepts of God. Of course, many Rabbis disagreed with Maimonides at the time, but he won out in the end. Today, almost the whole of Judaism accepts this nonsensical and anti-biblical teaching that God has no body like that of mankind. That belief blatantly violates the teaching of Genesis 1:26.
Indeed, I will show in a future article that the anti-anthropomorphic concept of God as conceived by Maimonides led him to promote everything in his power to wean intellectual Jews from any reliance on constructing a renewed physical Jerusalem or a physical Temple. Any advocation of such human concepts advancing the anthropomorphic nature and shape for God, Maimonides held in utter and thorough contempt and this included all the symbolic teaching of the physical Tabernacle or Temple. This is one of the reasons he showed no interest in telling Jews to return to Jerusalem or Palestine to renew the Jewish State or to rebuild the Temple. And though some Jewish intellectuals at the time rejected this new revolutionary teaching of Maimonides, it took about two or three generations for most Jewish theologians to go along with Maimonides in one way or another. In fact, all mainline Jewish authorities today follow Maimonides and ridicule the biblical teaching that God has a body with shape and form. This teaching, however, only came into mainline Judaism in the time of Maimonides. It was the adoption of this erroneous (and non-biblical doctrine) that first led the Jewish authorities from perpetuating the need to rebuild a Temple in Jerusalem or anywhere on earth. And within a hundred years, the Jews people lost all knowledge of where the true site of the Temples was in Jerusalem. One of the main factors in losing the whereabouts of the Temple was the desire in later Judaism (since the twelfth century C.E.) of getting rid of the notion that God has a real body. It made the teachings about the Temple to be irrelevant because the Temple is based on anthropomorphic ideas.
In spite of the fact that Maimonides did not account the Holy Land or the physical Temple as any longer important to Jews who live in this pre-Messianic Age, Maimonides still did not want to be buried in Egypt. He selected Tiberias in the Holy Land (the former site of the early Academy) for his burial place. This was, of course, within the central part of the Land of Israel, but nowhere near Jerusalem or the Temple site. Indeed, in both the period of Judah Halevi and that of Maimonides, the City of Jerusalem and the site of the Temple were in the control of the European Crusaders or the returned Muslims. The Temple and its site began to be non-essential to them. Jewish people in many cases simply stripped Jerusalem and the Temple site of their former holiness in their theological concepts, and they gave more attention to the whole Land of Israel rather than specifically on physical Jerusalem and on the former physical Temple. Their cry was: “Let the Messiah concentrate on Jerusalem and the Temple, but it is not of our concern.” This approach has continued to be a prime belief of many Jewish people up and to the creation of the State of Israel in 1948. Since that time, there has been a movement to restore Jewish Jerusalem and also the Temple.
But back in the twelfth century, the thrust of attention by many Jews (and in a most decided manner) was the sanctification of the whole of the Land of Israel (and forget just Jerusalem and Temple). This was certainly the principle teaching of the Rabbi Judah Halevi. This is when it became popular to look on Damascus as being on the border of that Land. Yes, even Damascus began to be considered (because of the teaching of Zechariah 9:1) as a cardinal part of the Land of Israel by the eleventh century. So, the City Limits of Jerusalem by prophetic interpretation were quite literally moved north and eastward to include the City of Damascus. When the Academy at Jerusalem left Jerusalem in 1077 C.E., they simply moved the Academy to Damascus to await the End-Time events of Zechariah 9 to 14 that they thought at the time were beginning to occur. One of the principal reasons for this interpretation is because the Jews in that period could see in the writings of the Holy Scriptures that “Zion” could be reckoned to be elsewhere than in Jerusalem. Let us look at some of the biblical teachings that show this prime truth.
The Portability of Zion
Though the Scripture states that all the mountains in the City of Jerusalem can be individually or collectively designated as “Zion” (Psalm 133:3), it is legally permissible to extend the city limits of Jerusalem to include other mountains that would bear the name “Zion.” Zion can be moved or extended. The name can even be transported to other areas that would equally denote regions of holiness to God Himself. It should be remembered that the Tabernacle authorized in the time of Moses could move from place to place in its journeys throughout the Wilderness area. The holiness of the Tabernacle (the earlier, portable Temple) was centered in the fact that the Shekinah (the Glory of God — the shining Light at night like that of the Sun and the cloud by day) was within and over the Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle. That “Glory” represented the Spirit of God in all its resplendence and majestic grandeur. That “Glory” was manifest on and around the Sapphire Stone that was situated above the Ark of the Covenant in the Holy of Holies of the Tabernacle and in Solomon’s Temple (Ezekiel 1:26-28). Wherever that “Glory” was located on earth is where it was reckoned that “God dwelt.” Not at all times did the “Glory” emanate from the interior of the Tabernacle or Temple. Moses saw God in His “Glory” in an intimate way on one splendid occasion even within the cleft of a rock located outside the camp of Israel and about a half mile east of the Holy of Holies of the official Tabernacle for Israel (Exodus 33:18-23). Even when the “Glory” was in the Temple, it did not shine in resplendence on all occasions (Ezekiel chapters 8 through 11). Yet, as long as the Shekinah (the “Glory”) was reckoned to be resident within the Temple, the Temple itself was holy and sacrosanct as the official House of God on earth. The Temple was NOT made holy because of the stones, the precious things and the other furniture that were deposited in the Temple (nor was it made holy by the priests who ministered there). The Temple was made holy because it was sanctified by the attendance of the Shekinah (which represented the Spirit of God) residing in the Temple. It is important to understand this point. Let us see it demonstrated.
The Shekinah (the “Glory”) Sanctified the Temple (or Any Other Area)
Just before God had the Babylonians to destroy the Temple in the sixth century before Christ, we have the prophet Ezekiel stating that he saw the Glory of God (called the Shekinah in later literature) remove itself from the Holy of Holies and progressively journey eastward within the Temple precincts until it reached the eastern gate. After pausing there for a limited time, it then continued its journey until it reached the summit of the Mount of Olives. (Read all of Ezekiel chapters 8 through 11 where this account is recorded.) In this prophecy in Ezekiel, when the Shekinah reached the summit of Olivet, it remained there until directed to go elsewhere. As a part of the prophecy, there was a promise made by God that “I will be to them as a little Sanctuary [a “little Temple” or by interpretation a “little Zion”] in the countries where they come [within the countries of Israel’s exile]” (Ezekiel 11:16). God then said that the Shekinah during the Exile would reside as a “little Temple” among the exiled Israelites. This showed that the holiness of Zion would move from Jerusalem into areas of the Exile.
The Jewish authorities came to interpret the “little Temple” as being a congregation of Jewish men with the minimum number of ten. Recall that Jesus told his apostles: “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20). Of course, Jesus was referring to his apostles making decisions for the community of believers (the ekklesia — translated “church” in most versions). The apostle Paul went even further. He called each individual Christian a singular “Temple” (simply because each had the Spirit of God in him or her) — see Second Corinthians 6:16. Paul elaborated on this theme even more by showing that all of the individuals who have (or when living had) the Holy Spirit are reckoned collectively as the Temple of God with Jesus Christ being the chief corner stone (Ephesians 2:18-22). So, it is reckoned in New Testament parlance that if a Christian enters into a church building, it is a “Temple” of God (a “little Temple”) who is entering into the physical structure. When the Christian leaves that material or physical edifice, the “Temple” of God consequently leaves with the Christian who is a “Temple of God.” The “church building” of itself is a non-sanctified spot (made simply of boards, rocks and plaster). It is not the “House of God” unless there are spirit-filled Christians standing or sitting inside its walls. If Christians are inside, then (and only then) is the church building sanctified and holy. Actually, in God’s way of evaluation, the “Temple” goes in and out of the church building when Christians go in and out. [Most people believe the church building is the “House of God” (like a “Temple”), but it is the “Temple” (persons who have the Spirit of God) that enters the “church building” that makes it holy, NOT the other way around.] The early Jews in the second century before Christ who wrote the “Damascus Document” (that I referred to earlier in this research article) also believed the Community of Believers represents the true “Temple” of God, NOT the physical Temple in Jerusalem.
Zion Can Move from Place to Place
The prophet Ezekiel said that he saw the Shekinah “Glory” leave the Holy of Holies and position itself over the Mount of Olives. These circumstances involving the Shekinah and itsremoval from Jerusalem were tantamount to “Zion” progressively leaving the Holy of Holies in the Temple and making its way to the top of Olivet, and then migrating into the countries of Israel’s exile to be a “little Temple” to them in those areas. This exact scene is also reflected in another prophecy which is recorded in Micah 4:10,11, though different words are used by Micah to describe it. Micah reckoned that “Zion” should be likened to a pregnant woman about ready to be delivered. In giving birth, she must go through some severe birth pangs. Micah said: “Be in pain, and labour to bring forth, O daughter of Zion, like a woman in travail; for now shalt thou go forth [she would start a journey even while pregnant and near birthing] out of the city [she would leave Jerusalem], and thou shalt dwell in the field [that is, outside the walls of Jerusalem where cattle, sheep and goats would live], and thou [at that time] shalt go even to Babylon; there [in Babylon] shalt thou be delivered [of a child]; there the Lord shall redeem thee from the hand of thine enemies.” The term “Zion” and the place of the “Shekinah” are identical in these prophetic indications written in Ezekiel and Micah. God said through Ezekiel that God would then dwell among the Israelite exiles as a “little Temple.” This could mean within a small group (the Jews felt at least 10 men) or even within individual persons (Ezekiel 11:16; II Corinthians 6:16). However, “Zion” would not remain in Babylon forever. Indeed, Jeremiah said the time of stay in Babylon was to be seventy years (Jeremiah 29:10; II Chronicles 36:21; Daniel 9:2; Zechariah 7:5). After that period of seventy years, “Zion” would move back to the Land of Israel.
The Prophecy of Zion Moving from Babylon to Bethlehem
That section of the prophecy of Micah shows that “Zion” would be moved “out of Jerusalem” and journey even into the area of Babylon but finally return to Israel. Note that she [Zion] would leave Jerusalem, the Land of Israel would be empty of God’s “Glory” and of God’s presence (His Shekinah). The first place that “Zion” was to retreat to a field just outside Jerusalem, then she was to be transported further north into Babylon where she would finally give birth to a child (the later priest named Zerubbabel who represented the nation of Israel when they left Babylon some decades later to return to Judah and Jerusalem after the Babylonian Captivity was symbolically called [and his name signified] “Born in Babylon”). But “Zion” was not to remain in Babylon. She was prophesied to come out of that northern area when Zerubbabel returned with the Jews to Jerusalem and the Land of Israel (Ezra chapter two). There was a further prophecy to this movement of “Zion” back to Judah. Note Zechariah 2:7: “Deliver thyself, O Zion, that dwellest with the daughter of Babylon.” Zion was told to deliver herself and to leave her place (or, places) of residence in Babylon. And remarkably the prophecy then relates that she would again be experiencing birth pangs and wanting to be delivered of a Man-Child. The context of Micah continues the prophecy on the history of “Zion’s” journey by stating that this “Zion” would on its return to the Land of Israel establish herself in the village of Bethlehem Ephratah to be delivered of her Man-Child (Micah 5:2). Micah wrote that “Zion” would at this future time reside in Bethlehem and remain in that village “until the time that she [Zion] which travaileth [in birth] hath brought forth [a Man-Child — as the context shows]: then the remnant of his brethren [of the newborn child’s brethren then in Exile] shall return unto the children of Israel [now back in the Land of Israel]” (Micah 5:3).
But this does not end the story in Micah’s prophecy. After this Man-Child would be born in Bethlehem, Micah then prophesied that he would “stand and feed in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the Lord his God; and they shall abide [the Lord and the Man-Child shall abide together]: for now shall he [the grown-up Man-Child born in Bethlehem shall extend his rule] unto the ends of the earth” (Micah 5:4). This newborn Man-Child (once he would grow up) would abide with God Himself and then be recognized by the whole world — “unto the ends of the earth.” Those verses in the long prophecy in Micah lead us directly to the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem. Isn’t it interesting that after Jesus was prophesied to be born from “Zion” (after “Zion” had returned to Bethlehem) that in the New Testament record the Magi from the East (that is, from Babylon where “Zion” had been) also came with presents to do homage to the newborn child whose star they had followed from Babylon?
Then what happens to this “Zion” who gives birth to the Man-Child? The prophet Isaiah fills in the rest of the story of “Zion’s” migrations. “O Zion, that bringeth good tidings, get thee up into the high mountain [emphasis mine, “Zion” moves to a high mountain]; O Jerusalem, that bringeth good tidings, lift up thy voice [on the high mountain] with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God” (Isaiah 40:9,10). The “high mountain” is the highest mountain in the area of Jerusalem (the Mount of Olives – where the Shekinah or “Zion” went in Ezekiel’s time — and where we are told that it again retreated in 66 C.E. just before the Temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 C.E.— see my book “Secrets of Golgotha” for references). From the Mount of Olives all the cities of Judah shall hear the majestic refrain of salvation and redemption from the messianic personage who was born at Bethlehem. All will say: “Behold, your God.” That newborn Man-Child would be named “Immanuel” (that is, “God With Us“). This is a manifestation of God entering into the world environment of mankind. See Isaiah 7:14; 8:8-10; 9:6,7. This is when “Zion” finally returns to the Mount of Olives where the Messianic Kingdom will be proclaimed. This is also what Zechariah 14 has to say at the end of the “Damascus Prophecy” written by Jeremiah that is found in Zechariah 9 through 14. Christ Jesus is then designated as having the rank of YHVH Himself (because his name is Immanuel — “God With Us”). He will return to the earth at the Mount of Olives (Zechariah 14:3,4). But before He arrives at Olivet, note carefully that Zechariah begins the prophecy with God first showing His presence (or His “Glory”) in the area of Damascus. And then (after the series of events leading up to Zechariah 14), God again returns to the Mount of Olives and to Jerusalem to His dwelling place on earth.
The Other Zions of God
Not only can “Zion” move from place to place on earth as God determines, you may be surprised to learn that “Zion” can also be expanded or even multiplied. Note that there were other “Zions” on earth that God honors and that He loves dearly. These are the special places on earth in which God (at one time or another) deemed it necessary to display His divine “Glory” (His “Shekinah”). One of those is Mount Sinai in the Sinai peninsula. God said that anyone who climbed to the top of Mount Sinai found himself “in the holy place” (Psalm 68:17). God’s “Glory” was also in Mount Carmel (where Elijah built an altar) as well as the area of Sharon (Isaiah 35:2). Mount Tabor and Mount Hermon are graced by God’s name (Psalm 89:12). There was even a “holy place” of God even on the Egyptian border that helped to identify where one of the boundaries of the Promised Land was delineated. The prophet Isaiah said that in that central area (north to south) of Egypt and at the beginning border with the “Land of Promise,” there will be an altar (a holy place) and a pillar that illustrates “God’s presence” in that area to the east from Egypt (Isaiah 19:19). But again, and finally, there is also a “Zion” associated with Damascus. Just whenand at what event was the “Glory” of God shown in Damascus that would fulfill the statement in Zechariah 9:1 that God would one day find His divine presence in Damascus?
Let us now look at Damascus in Syria. Damascus also had its own legitimate “holy mount.” It was the highest of the mountains from the Euphrates in the north all the way to Egypt in the south and down to and including the center part of the Sinai Peninsula. That mountain under discussion was “Mount Hermon.” It was the greatest of the sacred mountains of the Middle East. And you may be shocked to discover this, but even God Himself states dogmatically that Mount Hermon was the world’s first “Mount Zion,” long before Jerusalem was thought of by King David and Solomon to be the “Mount Zion” of God for Israel and Judah. In plain language, God reckoned Mount Hermon to be the original Mount Zion. Note it: “Even unto Mount Zion; which is Hermon” (Deuteronomy 4:48).
This reference shows that Moses under divine inspiration called Hermon God’s holy “Mount Zion.” That’s right. Even Moses was well aware of the history of the world before his time that caused people of the earth to reckon Mount Hermon as the original “Mount Zion.” The text is certain on this matter, but modern scholars who know little of the early history of the world have tried numerous ways to change the text into something that makes sense to them because (as they look at it) there was only ONE “Mount Zion” and that was in Jerusalem. But the scholars are wrong. There was always more than ONE mountain called “Mount Zion.” Indeed, even every one of the seven different mountains that became the Jerusalem of Christ’s time was called a “Zion.” There were officially (in God’s eyes) seven different mountains surrounding Jerusalem and each of them could be legitimately called a “Mount Zion” (and this included the highest of those mountains called the “Mount of Olives”). [The Jewish understanding that Jerusalem was built on “seven mountains” as Rome was built on “seven mountains” is recorded in The Book of Legends, p.371, and para.111]. In fact, that mountain called the Mount of Olives was the highest in Jerusalem. It was the loftiest of the seven “mountains of Zion.” So, Jerusalem is biblically reckoned as being comprised of “the mountains [plural] of Zion” (Psalm 133:3). [I will also indicate in an article I am writing to appear two months from now, that Jerusalem was recognized by the Jewish authorities in a linguistic sense to be a DUAL city (one part of the city for the Israelites and another part for the Gentiles). This is because the word “Jerusalem” in Hebrew is DUAL in number. It is NOT singular or plural. There is a Jewish “Zion,” and there is a Gentile “Zion.” This DUALITY principle is a most important point to understand in regard to the negotiations that are proceeding among Israelis and Palestinians over the future status of Jerusalem, and I will show this significant fact in a new prophetic research article that I will publish in two more months.]
In the meantime, let us realize that the Holy Scriptures show in the clearest of ways that there are more than one, single “Zion.” There are other “Mount Zions” other than the “seven Zions” of Jerusalem. We are told in Deuteronomy 4:48 that Mount Hermon was called “Mount Zion” (and Mount Hermon had the chronological priority of being the first in the history of the world to be designated God’s “Mount Zion”). Indeed, this gave “Hermon” a distinct superiority over Jerusalem because the Canaanite City of Jebus (the early Gentile name for Jerusalem) was NOT called “Mount Zion” until the time of David (which was at least a thousand years after the mountain of Damascus called “Mount Hermon” had been graced with the title of “Mount Zion” by no less than God Himself). And further, to signify the priority of Mount Hermon, God inspired the Psalmist in Psalm 133:3 to state that the sanctity of “the mountains of Zion” in the area of Jerusalem were holy and righteous (now hold on to your seats because most people are going to be shocked at what some have missed in reading the Bible that shows the superiority of Mount Hermon to the seven mountains of Jerusalem), because God stated that it was “THE DEW OF HERMON” that descended upon “the mountains of Zion” at Jerusalem that gave the mountains of Jerusalem their divine sanctification! Read the whole of Psalm 133:3. That Psalm reveals that the “dew of Hermon” makes the “Zions” of Jerusalem to be holy.
The teaching of Psalm 133 is not simply to remind the Israelite that the dew of Mount Hermon is “clean and fresh dew” (like you might find advertised on a bottle of spring water having its source at Mount Hermon). True, Mount Hermon being the highest of the mountains in the Middle East had “dew” of a high quality, but it was NOT the physical quality of the “dew” that God had in mind in Psalm 133:3. The teaching was a spiritual allegory showing the transference of sanctification (or the equation of holiness) from one mountain to another. God was allegorically referring to the cleansing power of God’s divine “dew” (and the vital nourishment of spiritual grace from that “dew”) that came from the first “Mount Zion” in the history of the world. That “dew of Hermon” could also sanctify and make righteous the “mountains of Zion” at Jerusalem! Or, in even a more expanded sense,that “dew” from Mount Hermon could also sanctify and make righteous any mountain or place that God would select. And indeed, a very important event in the history of the world occurred on top of that Mount Hermon. Remember, in Matthew 17 there is recorded a primary event in New Testament history concerning Mount Hermon. That is the very place where God the Father with Moses and Elijah (in vision) assembled with Christ Jesus and his three top apostles (seven persons in all) for the glorious scene of the Transfiguration. This magnificent display was a remarkable epiphany of the divine Shekinah in all its glory and majesty. This was, in a sense, the New Testament “Mount Sinai.” It was then the place for “God’s Temple” on earth. This is where the message of Christian salvation for all in the world had its beginning. And note: This all occurred on the first “Mount Zion” – it was on Mount Hermon. Thus, the “dew of Mount Hermon” can make any other place in the world as a sanctified spot because of the outstanding spiritual manifestations that took place on the summit of that mountain.
Why the Importance of “Mount Hermon” and Why the Importance of Damascus?
Let me be plain and to the point. The teaching of the New Testament unequivocally reveals why there were two areas in and around Damascus that should be rendered to be of utmost importance to all people in the world. The first is Mount Hermon. Remember, Mount Hermon is the mountain where the “Transfiguration of Christ” took place a year before his crucifixion (Matthew 17:1-13). That is the mountain (NOT Jerusalem) where even God the Father entered the environment of the world to commission His Son Jesus Christ to perform His final actions in redeeming the world to the Father. But that does not end the story. The second place is Damascus. Damascus itself was also destined to become the “dwelling-place” of God (like God dwelt and showed His presence in the Temple at Jerusalem or when He appeared at the Transfiguration of Christ on Mount Hermon). Remember, wherever the Shekinah (the “Glory”) of God is displayed to people on earth, that very place becomes the holiest place on earth at the time. Let us not look at a most important event in the history of the development of Christianity. It was something that happened to the apostle Paul.
The area of Damascus is very significant to Christian teaching. Let us recall an important historical event. What New Testament account documents an event that occurred near the gates of Damascus (and concluded inside its walls) that was of extreme importance in the teaching of the full and mature Gospel to the world? It is two major chapters in the New Testament “Book of Acts.” Those chapters are recorded to reveal a most significant event to show its powerful consequences in the future history of Christianity. This was the time when Saul of Tarsus approached the City of Damascus with decrees from the High Priest in Jerusalem to apprehend and to destroy Christian believers. On the very outskirts of Damascus a most unusual and awesome event took place. Near noon day, Christ Jesus Himself (in resplendent “Glory” and majesty) appeared to Saul and those with him as a great Light and told Saul that he was being commissioned to do a work for the God of Israel and for the Firstborn Son of God (Acts 9:1-22; 26:13-20). Saul then was blinded and led into the City of Damascus. After three days inside Damascus, Ananias met Saul and reconfirmed what Saul himself had seen of the appearance of the Shekinah “Glory.” Saul then had scales fall off his eyes, and he first saw the LIGHT of the truth of Christianity AT DAMASCUS!
And what did Saul (later to be called Paul) do at the time — or better yet, what HE DID NOT do? Paul DID NOT go immediately to the former Holy City of God (Jerusalem), but he went into Arabia to Mount Sinai — a former “holy place” of God (Galatians 1:17 with 4:25). Paul then went back to Damascus and stayed in Damascus for three years before he ever went to Jerusalem. To Paul, Damascus and his “Damascus experience” were more important than anything that had occurred in Jerusalem since the crucifixion of Christ (Galatians 1:18). Indeed, the apostle Paul himself stated quite categorically that his own special commission (unlike the commission to the Jewish apostles at Jerusalem) had its origin with the “Damascus Dwelling” (or “Presence”) of God, and NOT to any manifestation of God that had its origination in Jerusalem. Note what Paul told King Agrippa in Acts 26:19,20. Paul confirmed: “Whereupon, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision; but SHOWED FIRST UNTO THEM OF DAMASCUS, and [then] at Jerusalem [note that Jerusalem is mentioned later in this chronological account and also in the intended political emphasis], and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance” (Acts 26:19,20).
In this important event involving the appearance of the Shekinah (“Glory”) of God, Damascus was spiritually superior to Jerusalem! And what did Zechariah 9:1 state? It prophesied that at one day God would show His special presence at Damascus. And, at the time of the Transfiguration of Christ (when even God the Father entered the earth’s environment), it was on the summit of Mount Hermon (the first “Zion”) which was the Mountain of Damascus, and also the locale where Saul (later named Paul) got his divine commission to teach the Gentiles. These two important events DID NOT take place in Jerusalem. They occurred in and near Damascus! So, Zechariah 9:1 has already been fulfilled in this one important manner. But, is Damascus soon to experience that “Glory” once more before the Messianic Age? When one surveys Zechariah 9:1 (along with the teaching in the next 6 chapters of Zechariah), it shows a definite End-Time environment.
Note this carefully. It is emphasized in the New Testament that Paul’s special commission had nothing to do with Jerusalem or the Jerusalem apostles. It was a singular assignment by Christ Jesus for Paul to go to the tribes of Israel and to the Gentiles FROM DAMASCUS! Paul had his headquarters (and did his primary work of teaching the Gospel in a progressive sense) from his home base IN DAMASCUS for the first three years of his commission. And, from what we are told in Zechariah 9:1, what God commenced when He dwelt (or when His Shekinah was resident) IN THE CITY OF DAMASCUS, has a relevance that will reach into all areas of the globe. Notice that the original text of Zechariah 9:1 is addressed to people in all areas of the earth. Read it carefully. “An Oracle. A word of Yahweh against the Land of Hadrach [the Land of Promise]. And Damascus [shall be] a resting place for Him [a place of repose or domicile for Yahweh], for on Yahweh [shall be] the eyes of humanity [that is, all humans on earth will turn their eyes toward Yahweh in Damascus] and all of the Tribes of Israel [shall also turn their eyes toward Yahweh in Damascus].”
What this shows is a time when “all humans on earth” will look NOT only to Jerusalem as the Holy Place for End-Time events and the teaching of the final truths of God, but TO DAMASCUS! The world will concentrate on what happened (or, happens) IN DAMASCUS from the time that Christ Jesus appeared in His Glorious Light (in the divine Light of the Shekinah) on the road to Damascus. The apostle Paul knew himself of the importance of this “Damascus Phase” of prophecy that is recorded in Zechariah 9:1. That is the very reason that Paul stayed full three years in Damascus before he ever went up to the City of Jerusalem to meet the other apostles.
To those of us who depend on the mature teachings of Christ Jesus called “the Mystery,” our headquarters IS NOT Jerusalem. It all began in the Gentile City of DAMASCUS — in the City of “Eliezer” or (as the New Testament renders the name) “Lazarus.” Paul knew this important point. That is why he said in Acts 26:20 that the Gospel that Paul taught had its primitive beginning (which finally resulted in the revelation of “the Mystery” recorded in Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians) IN DAMASCUS. Paul said: “Whereupon, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision: but SHOWN FIRST unto those of Damascus.” The people of Jerusalem (the earlier headquarters of God’s work on earth) got Paul’s message of salvation that Christ Jesus gave specially to him THREE YEARS AFTER the people of Damascus. This surely must have been Zechariah 9:1 being fulfilled in the eyes of Paul. It was at the time that Saul (later, Paul) was converted to Christ Jesus and when he was given his commission to Israel and the rest of the world that God found Himself “dwelling in Damascus.” But this does NOT end the prophecy. Soon, the whole world will acknowledge this “Damascus Phase” of God’s presence on earth. It is from Damascus (NOT Jerusalem) that all of us who understand “the Mystery” of God have the origination of our special and sublime inheritance.
In closing this “Temple Update,” let me give this final observation and advice to all who love dearly and rely solely upon the Holy Scriptures as being the very Word of God. The prophecies are about to be fulfilled in all their majestic and awesome ways. We should get ready for some exciting times that are just on the horizon and in the final development stage. We should be aware of the long prophecy that I have been emphasizing for the past twenty-five years — the prophecy of Zechariah 9 through 14. That divine proclamation is soon to have its literal fulfillment in the “Land of Hadrach” (the lands of the Fertile Crescent). The prophecy begins with a major event regarding the spiritual appearance of God dwelling in the City of Damascus (this will be some kind of new Shekinah appearance), and this will be followed by a series of events (the first of which is a tsunami or a gigantic tidal wave that will destroy all the eastern coastal area of the Mediterranean from Syria in the north to Gaza in the south, and it even will have an effect on Egypt). Then will occur other events leading up to the establishment in Jerusalem of a new Temple (this will be the partially built Temple referred to in the Book of Revelation chapter 11). After this period (which will last about 3 and ½ years), the world will then witness the appearance of God on the Mount of Olives (in the person of Christ Jesus). This event will occur at the inauguration of the Kingdom of God on earth.
Though the building of physical Temples is in no way important to us in a spiritual sense who are Christians (and to those of us who understand our divine position in the eyes of God through the revelation of “the Mystery” taught by the apostle Paul in Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians), such a construction of the new Temple is the center-point of all prophetic teaching in the Old and New Testaments and we should be aware of these important political and religious events for our own instruction (remember II Thessalonians 2:1-12). So, it is incumbent on each of us who is a Christian (each of us who has the Holy Spirit in him or her — and who is even now reckoned to be a “Temple” of God) to be aware of these impending events and to teach them to the world. As a witness, God states that He will reveal these things to the world just before the Second Advent of Christ. Let us keep our eyes on political and religious affairs now occurring in the world. We are now on the threshold of that period of time known in the Holy Scriptures as the Time of the End. It will begin in a few short years ahead of us. So, let us keep our eyes open. “Behold, I have told you before” (Matthew 24:25).
© 1976-2013 Associates for Scriptural Knowledge – ASK is supported by freewill contributions
by Ernest L. Martin, Ph.D, September 1, 2000
Read the accompanying Newsletter for September 2000
(This content is the intellectual property of Associates
for Scriptural Knowledge)
The Sanctuary of God contained idolatrous images that God commanded to be included in the Tabernacle! This preliminary statement may surprise some people who study and love the biblical revelation because of its widespread condemnation of idolatry and its outward teaching of God’s adamant strictures against depicting Him in any physical fashion (that is, by making idols, images, statues, pictures, icons, etc.). So stringent is the biblical theme of avoiding idolatry (or, idolatrous ways) that the Israelites were ordered even in the Ten Commandments NOT to make similitudes of ANYTHING in the heavens, of ANYTHING in the earth or of ANYTHING under the earth (that is, of ANYTHING within the seas and oceans) and they were ordered NOT to devote those images to any religious activity in any ritualistic manner.
Though we read throughout the Bible that God loathes idolatry in any form, still the introductory statement of this research article is absolutely true. God actually commandedthe Israelites to accept idolatrous rituals in the time of Moses that led the Israelites directly into the practice of idolatry (at least that is how Israel interpreted those commands of God). What we all need to learn is the fact that there is always a particular right manner in which to interpret or to understand a command of God, and the manner should never be twisted to produce opposite effects that will evoke diametrically opposed views as coming from God.
This teaching that I am referring to is in the Bible but many people have passed right over some of its most important doctrinal statements regarding God’s commandments. This is usually because of preconceived (and often erroneous) ideas on what they think the Scriptures teach (or what they think the Scriptures ought to teach). But strange as it may seem, even God Himself, through the words of one of His most powerful prophets in the Old Testament, made the judgmental appraisal that the Israelites were commanded by Him to perform certain rites and to involve certain images that caused them to commit idolatry. And, even God admitted that those commands of His were NOT GOOD. Furthermore, the prophet who stated these things was backed up by another who even named the images that the Israelites were commanded by God to recognize. Amazingly, those images that became idolatrous were ordered by God to be located within the very Temple of God.
That command of God concerning the introduction of those images into the Tabernacle and later Temple remained in force for almost a thousand years. And, interestingly enough, even the first martyr of the Christian Ekklesia (who was Stephen the Deacon) referred to this early period of time when the Israelites were practicing a form of idolatry that involved certain spiritual beings that God had commanded to be used in His worship in the Sanctuaries (Acts 7:41–43). The fact is, the Israelites were so endued with the practice of idolatry when they came out of Egypt that they were not prepared (or spiritually ready) to adopt more mature and advanced teaching in which idolatry became a prime transgression.
Only later, in the time of Jeremiah and Ezekiel do we find God finally having such images banished from the Temple. It was then that Jeremiah and Ezekiel got rid of much of the idolatry that stemmed from initiating the earlier commands of God as they related to the Tabernacle in the wilderness and finally in the Temple at Jerusalem.
But in the early age of Israel being a nation (at the time of their Exodus from Egypt), the conduct of the Israelites showed they were so prone to accept idolatrous principles that even God felt He had to give them some idolatrous teachings in order for them to comprehend what little spiritual truths the Israelites had mustered while in Egypt. God, in a sense, went to the “bottom of the barrel” and gave the Israelites some commands that finally resulted in them accepting a vast amount of idolatry into their mainstream teachings involving the Tabernacle (and later, the Temple). Or, as the Holy Scriptures relate it, we find God commanding Israel to accept doctrines and to perform religious rituals that were NOT GOOD for the Israelites to practice at the time.
Yes, even God Himself recognized that some of those commands that He gave to the Israelites were NOT GOOD — they turned out to be commands that led Israel into full-scale idolatry. That is precisely what the Scriptures teach us, if one will read the Word of God at its face value and try not to interpret away what the plain words state. Most people, however, are not aware of these commands of God that are recorded in the Bible because most (it seems) read right over them quickly without pausing to ask why in the world were they first given by God Himself.
The Strange Commands of God that Led to the Practice of Idolatry
Although God in the Ten Commandments utterly condemned any form of idolatry and He placed His proscription against the practice in those early constitutional commands, God still taught the Israelites to perform commands that were NOT GOOD for them. These commands concerned the introduction of Cherubimic images in their worship within the Tabernacle (the portable Temple). God even allowed it to happen again in the time of Solomon where images of Cherubim and twelve bulls were outwardly displayed in the Temple (1 Kings 6:24–29; 2 Chronicles 4:15). Indeed, God even approved of this image display that Solomon continued when he built the Temple in Jerusalem. This was a violation of the strict wording of the Second Command.
Did you read me correctly? I stated that God not only allowed a certain amount of violation of the Ten Commandments in the Tabernacle and later Temple, but God even commanded that those Cherubimic and bovine images be introduced even though His commands finally led Israel into idolatrous practices that were contrary to the plain statements of the Ten Commandments! Now WHY would God “command” these things is the knowledge we should seek in order to understand these things.
The real truth of the matter is that anything can be made to say what a person wishes the “truth” to say, and usually it can occur quite easily. A rational person might argue that a mere image of itself does not mean that the person uses it in an idolatrous fashion. Yes, but still it often takes an image to show outright idolatry in action. So, images need not of themselves be idolatrous, the temptations are strong to make them such by most human beings who come in contact with them (especially if the images are God ordained).
Those commands of God to build images within the Temple are an action that should not be taken by us in a frivolous manner (or an oversight on God’s part). God’s commands should always be taken seriously and they should not be jettisoned into oblivion as a mere sideline issue and without any significance for us as is often done by some theologians, preachers, and priests. These commands of God also should not be explained away as irrelevant (as do many modern exegetes who do not understand why God did what He did). The foolish attempts to get rid of or minimize these explicit commands of God should never be looked upon as simple allowances by God to accommodate the weak character traits of the early Israelites at the time of the Exodus or in the period of Solomon.
As a matter of fact, it was the prophet Ezekiel that God inspired to record His final displeasure at having had commanded the early Israelites under Moses to observe and to recognize images in the Temple that led them into abject idolatry (and even to the practice of evil idolatrous worship) and these idolatrous results were witnessed within the precincts of the Tabernacle that God commanded in the wilderness.
That is right, dear folks, God Himself commanded (this means, God actively ordered the Israelites in the wilderness at the start of the Exodus period) to make images that proved to be idolatrous and to place them within the Holy Sanctuary. Now is the time to read those commands in this research paper. I deliberately took considerable introductory space in order to show the seriousness of those “bad commands of God.” That is what Ezekiel said under inspiration that God introduced commands that were not good once the Israelites showed very early in the Exodus period that they were not willing to practice all of the “good commands of God.”
Note carefully these negative commands of God in Ezekiel’s prophecy that the Israelites were expected to obey. Indeed, what do some of you think about the majestic ARK of the Covenant? Is it a piece of architectural junk from the Age of Idolatry, or is it to you the resplendent symbol of the holy presence of God himself within His divine Glory? You may come to a strong opinion about this before you finish this article. Let us now read the biblical texts on these important and significant matters. The Prophet Ezekiel stated:
“I lifted up my hand unto them [warned them] also in the wilderness, that I would scatter them among the heathen, and disperse them through the countries; because they had not executed my judgments, but had despised my statutes, and had polluted my sabbaths [these were “good” commands], and their eyes were after [they pined away for] their fathers’ idols. Wherefore I gave them also statutes that were NOT GOOD, andjudgments whereby they should not live.”
That is, God gave them commands which resulted in them NOT living in a righteous and proper manner:
“And I polluted them in their own gifts [in their sacrificial gifts that they gave to God], in that they caused to pass through the fire all that open the womb, that I might make them desolate, to the end that they might know that I am the Lord.”
In the plainest of language, we read in Ezekiel that God gave them commandments that were not good and that those negative commands led the Israelites [through their ignorance and natural fleshly inclinations] into presenting paganized sacrifices in the Temple and even to the practice of killing one or more of their children as a human sacrifice (usually the sacrifice of the firstborn was the normal heathen method). Yes, the commands that God gave them led them in the final outcome to commit human sacrificing of children — “they caused to pass through the fire all that opens the womb”).
Some humanitarian parents, according to Maimonides, the great Jewish authority in the time of the Crusades, did not kill their children at all, though they “pretended” to. They seemed to have the idea that this pretended sacrifice of the firstborn son in some way reflected what God would do in the world when the Messianic period would come at the End of the Age. The pretence was to wrap the child and bundle it carefully (so that not even a spark of actual fire would hit the child’s skin). This, according to Maimonides was the final ritual. In some cases, the old practice of the Amorites persisted. Of course, God did not intend that introducing those images into the Tabernacle rituals would lead to infant sacrifice. But they did! Give an inch, and the people take a mile. This type of accumulation of pagan teachings is by the attrition method — a little at a time.
“And they built the high places of Baal, which are in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire unto Molech; which I commanded them not, neither came it into my mind, that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin.”
“For when you offer your gifts, when you make your sons to pass through the fire, you pollute yourselves with all your idols, even unto this day: and shall I be enquired of by you, O house of Israel? As I live, says the Lord YHWH, I will not be enquired of by you.”
“That they have committed adultery, and blood is in their hands, and with their idols have they committed adultery, and have also caused their sons, whom they bare unto me, to pass for them through the fire, to devour them. Moreover this they have done unto me: they have defiled my sanctuary in the same day, and have profaned my sabbaths. For when they had slain their children to their idols, then they came the same day into my sanctuary to profane it; and, lo, thus have they done in the midst of mine house.”
What we read in Ezekiel chapter 20 is the appraisal of God Himself (stated through His prophet) that His initial commands in some contexts proved in later times to be“commands that were not good.” The outcome was very bad indeed. But what were those commands that God at first gave to the Israelites that turned out to be so very bad for them? Before I answer that question precisely, we should be aware of what God did not mean. It is plain that God did not mean in Ezekiel chapter 20 that He simply ALLOWED the Israelites to continue in their heathen ways.
This is what God did with the early Gentiles according to Paul. He
“… gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: and likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another. … and even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God GAVE THEM OVER to a reprobate mind”
Romans 1:26, 28
God ALLOWED the Gentiles to do wrong WITHOUT THE PERMISSION of God. But in the section of Ezekiel chapter 20, the texts state in the clearest of Hebrew (and also in the clearest of English translation) that GOD COMMANDED (not simply “ALLOWED”) the Israelites in the wilderness to practice the commands of God that led them finally into idolatry.
These odious and bad commands given by God to the Israelites (remember, it was God who said they were NOT GOOD) were given in the precise manner (and with the same wording in the Hebrew — even the vowel points are identical) in which He “gave them my statutes, and showed them my judgments, which if a man do, he shall even live in them” (Ezekiel 20:11). These commands that were NOT GOOD were also written in the Scriptures (with the exact Hebrew words and even the same vowel points) as when God gave Israel His positive commands that they should keep His sabbaths. Notice how this is the case in the same chapter in the Book of Ezekiel.
“Moreover also [God said], I gave them my sabbaths, to be a sign, between me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord YHWH …”
These were positive commands that God gave to those Israelites.
In the same manner (and with the same wording in the Hebrew) God gave the Israelitescommandments that WERE NOT GOOD (Ezekiel 20:25). God does not say the commands turned out to be bad ones in the end. He stated dogmatically that some of His early commandments to the Israelites were simply NOT GOOD to begin with. True, they turned out to be worse than God intended (indeed, they turned out to be far worse).
The reason this occurred is because of the nascent proclivity for the early Israelites to rebel against the basic commands of God that He intended for their good. It seemed to be in their very nature to want to be idolaters. Recall that when Moses was on Mount Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments and some subsidiary laws, the Israelites clamored for Aaron to make them a molten calf as an image of their “God” who brought them out of Egypt, and Aaron went along with the endeavor (Exodus chapter 32). Moses was infuriated at their example of patent idolatry and the Israelites were punished for this error. This, however, did not stop their inclinations to sway toward image-making and the production of human artifacts to “aid them” in their worship. So ingrained were their emotions to gravitate toward idolatrous ways that God finally gave them commandments that were NOT GOOD that led them into further debauchery with those images.
God’s Bad Commands
What was it that God commanded that turned out to be very bad commands to the Israelites? The context of Ezekiel (along with the teachings and example of Jeremiah and the prophet Amos) showed that it was God’s command to place images within the Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle (and later to allow — or command — Solomon to do the same thing). What is remarkable in all of this is the fact that those commands of God to make images of Cherubim and place them in the Tabernacle were given to the Israelites in spite of the Second Command of the Ten Commandments which stated:
“You shall not make unto you any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.”
The rest of the Second Command states that Israelites should not bow before such images or idols nor to serve them. But when the Israelites in the wilderness blatantly refused to keep the commands concerning the sabbaths and other statutes and judgments, and that they continued in their idolatrous practices of their own accord, He then “gave them statutes that were NOT good, and judgments whereby they should NOT live” (Ezekiel 20:25).
God gave these later commands even though He had just deposited the Ten Commandments into their hands that proscribed such idolatrous acts. But, and in accord with God’s threat as we read in Ezekiel, God commanded exactly five chapters and sixteen verses after giving the Second Command of the Ten Commandments:
“You shall make two cherubim of gold, of beaten work shall you make them, in the two ends of the mercy seat [what later became known as the Ark of the Covenant]. And make one cherub on the one end, and the other cherub on the other end: even of the mercy [covering] seat shall you make the cherubim on the two ends thereof. And the cherubim shall stretch forth their wings on high, covering the mercy [the covering] seat with their wings, and their faces shall look one to another; toward the mercy[covering] seat shall the faces of the cherubim be.”
Later God commanded Moses to make even more images of cherubim and to place them on the veil in the Temple (Exodus 26:31) and on the curtains (Exodus 36:8). These images were forbidden by the Second Command of the Ten Commandments. These commands God later said were “NOT GOOD” (Ezekiel 20:25).
But there is even more. About 39 years after God gave Moses the Ten Commandments to present to Israel as His law, God then commanded Moses to make a brazen image of a snake (which is also a clear violation of the Second Command of the Ten Commandments). It should be understood that if God wishes to change (or even to violate) a former command that He made (even if it were one of the Ten Commandments) God has the power and authority to do such actions. After all, it was He who gave the laws in the first place, and He has the right and the prerogative of changing or eliminating such laws at any time He chooses. So God Himself in the year 39 of the Exodus gave a command that was contrary to the Second Command of the Ten Commandments. He ordered Moses to make an image of a poisonous snake and to hang that snake/image onto a pole that the Israelites could look toward for a physical remedy in the wake of being bitten by poisonous snakes (Numbers 21:6–8).
Let us understand once more that God can change any law He wishes and at any time He chooses. He has done so in the past and He can do it in the future. If God wishes to introduce idolatry into the Tabernacle (His divine Temple) even though it is a violation of the Second Commandment, God can do as He jolly well pleases. This is a principle that must always be understood and recognized by God’s own children and His people. God is in charge, not us!
So, near the end of the 40 years of wilderness journeys by the Israelites, God decided to adopt some idolatrous ways to teach the immature Israelites what calamitous consequences would develop by their insistence on having images of Cherubim in the Temple and also having an idolatrous brazen snake on a pole. And true to form, the Cherubim and the snake/image later became so idolatrous to the Israelites, that in the time of Hezekiah the snake/image had to be destroyed because of the rampant idolatry that it provoked (2 Kings 18:4). But that did not end the matter. We find that the Israelites also began to worship those two cherubim that God had placed in the Holy of Holies associated with the Ark of the Covenant. Even in the wilderness the Israelites had commenced their worship and adoration of those two Cherubim (and others that were depicted on the veils and curtains within the Tabernacle and the Temple that Solomon built). Do these words not smack of a clear violation of the Second Command (of the highly prestigious “Ten Commmandments”)? It seems they languish the very spirit and the meaning behind the Second Command.
What is important to realize is the fact that these commandments of God ordered that the Israelites make the images of the Cherubim and also the image of the snake on a pole (which we find in our modern caduceus symbol which identifies the medical profession).
|ancient style caduceus||modern style caduceus|
Yes, this was the case in the time of Moses. In doing this, one might think that IT WAS NOT ALWAYS INEVITABLE THAT IDOLATRY WOULD EMERGE. Yes, but it almost always did!
But what happened to the Israelites in their appreciation of these images of the Cherubim associated with the Ark of the Covenant? They soon (even while they were still in the wilderness) began to worship those statues and images. This infuriated Jeremiah at a later time as well as Ezekiel. So, when the Temple was just on the verge of being destroyed by the Babylonians, the prophet Jeremiah decided to get rid of the Ark of the Covenant and the worship of it by the Israelites. He felt the best thing to do was to bury it and then to tell the Israelites to forget it and its place of burial. Jeremiah knew the evil that those images in the Temple caused.
Jeremiah (who was a priest), with the confirmation of Ezekiel took the Ark of the Covenant with its idolatrous depiction of Cherubim out of the Holy of Holies and (according to the Book of Second Maccabees) deposited them in a cave on the east side of Jordan (opposite Jericho) near the area where Moses was buried. Notice the reference in this historical work that was written about a hundred years before the birth of Christ:
“One finds in the records that Jeremiah the prophet ordered those who were being deported to take some of the fire [from the altar of the Temple], as has been told, and that the prophet after giving them the law instructed those who were being deported not to forget the commandments of the Lord, nor to be led astray in their thoughts upon seeing the gold and silver statues and their adornment.”
There were images and idols in the Temple and some God had commanded to be there. [Continuing on:]
“And with other similar words he [Jeremiah] exhorted them that the law should not depart from their hearts. It was also in the writing that the prophet, having received an oracle, ordered that the tent and the ark [of the covenant with the two cherubs] should follow with him, and that he went out to the mountain where Moses had gone up and had seen the inheritance of God.
And Jeremiah came and found a cave, and he brought there the tent and the ark [with the two cherubs] and the altar of incense, and he sealed up the entrance. Some of those who followed him came up to mark the way, but could not find it. When Jeremiah learned of it, he rebuked them and declared: ‘The place shall be unknown until God gathers his people together again and shows his mercy. And then the Lord will disclose these things, and the glory of the Lord and the cloud will appear, as they were shown in the case of Moses, and as Solomon asked that the place should be specially consecrated.’
It was also made clear that being possessed of wisdom Solomon offered sacrifice for the dedication and completion of the temple. Just as Moses prayed to the Lord, and fire came down from heaven and devoured the sacrifices, so also Solomon prayed, and the fire came down and consumed the whole burnt offerings.”
2 Maccabees 2:1–7 RSV
So exasperated was Jeremiah about the penchant of the Israelites (both those of the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the Southern Kingdom of Judah) to turn physical things that God ordained even in the Temple into idolatrous artifacts that Jeremiah prophesied that in the future NO TEMPLE OF GOD would ever have an Ark of the Covenant again (with its permitted image of two Cherubim brazenly depicted). That is the main reason that Jeremiah took the Tent that housed the Ark and the Ark of the Covenant itself (with its two Cherubim) out of the Temple to hide them so that they would not be found to be placed in any Temple after the Babylonian Captivity was over. Note what Jeremiah the Prophet predicted would occur (and his prophecy was uttered under the inspiration of God Almighty).
“Turn, O backsliding children, says YHWH; for I am married unto you: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion: And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding. And it shall come to pass, when you be multiplied and increased in the land, in those days, says YHWH,
they shall say no more, ‘The ark of the covenant of YHWH:
neither shall it [the ark] come to mind:
neither shall they remember it [the ark];
neither shall they visit it [the ark];
neither shall that be done any more” [allowing images of Cherubs for an Ark of the Covenant].’
At that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of YHWH; and all the nations shall be gathered unto it, to the name of YHWH, to Jerusalem: neither shall they walk any more after the imagination of their evil heart. In those days the house of Judah shall walk with the house of Israel, and they shall come together out of the land of the north to the land that I have given for an inheritance unto your fathers.”
[ NOTE: the Book of Jeremiah is inspired Scripture, the Book of Second Maccabees is not. While Second Maccabees contains very accurate historical accounts, its accuracy cannot be extended to either its conclusions or its prophecies. DWS ]
The Two Cherubim with the Ark of the Covenant Had Personal Names
We now come to an interesting fact that many of you may never have seen before. Do you realize that the two Cherubs that made up the one image in the Holy of Holies had personal names and that the Israelites called them by those individual names? That is right. Those names are revealed in the Holy Scriptures. Recall that Jeremiah (according to the historical account from Second Maccabees) said that he took the Tent (or Tabernacle) that housed the Ark of the Covenant in the Holy of Holies. 1 This separate “Tabernacle” is mentioned in First Kings 1:39. This was a small Tent that became associated always with the Ark of the Covenant. This is the Tent that Jeremiah took along with the Ark to bury across the Jordan River east of Jericho. 2
These factors concerning the small Tent that accompanied the Ark of the Covenant becomes a major key in identifying the names of the two heavenly Cherubim that the two images (soldered together as one image) depicted on earth. That key comes from Amos chapter 5. Notice this scriptural indication.
“Have you offered unto me sacrifices and offerings in the wilderness forty years, O House of Israel? But you have borne the Tabernacle [the special Tent] of your Moloch and Chiun your images [there were two images], the star of your Elohim [the Star — a single “star” of your “gods”], which you made to yourselves.”
What kind of a Tent (or Tabernacle) contained two images that were indeed a single “Star” (an image molded together into one image of two heavenly beings)? This was the special Tent that was erected over the Ark of the Covenant that contained the two Cherubim that faced one another with their wings outstretched toward each other over the Mercy [Covering] Seat that contained the sacred items within the Ark of the Covenant. In the plainest of language, we have the two Cherubim named by the Israelites. One of them was Moloch (which is the Hebrew word for “King” or “King Star” which was the name given to the planet Jupiter). The other was Chiun (which was another name for the planet Saturn, the furthest planet observable by the naked eye in our solar system).
Now note this. When the two Cherubim were first constructed at the beginning of the forty years wandering of the Israelite Exodus period, Moses was told to have the two Cherubs facing one another. This represented Jupiter (a closer planet to earth) facing Saturn (the furthest visible planet from earth) in a conjunction with each other in the sky. Now Jupiter takes about 12 years to traverse the path of the Sun (which means to orbit the Sun) while Saturn takes about 30 years to do the same thing. If the two planets are shown in conjunction with one another (that is, as the Cherubim were shown in the Tabernacle and Temple) facing one another, it will take just over 20 years for the two planets to be exactly in the same position of the sky together and in conjunction again.
It is interesting that the great Massing of the Planets in Taurus (the Bull) that happened on May 5/6 of this year (2000 A.D.), and which I mentioned last year in a Prophetic Report, was also a time when Moloch (Jupiter) and Chiun (Saturn) once again “faced each other” as they did in the time that Moses ordered the Ark of the Covenant to be placed in the Holy of Holies at the beginning of the Exodus. At that time in May of this year , Jupiter and Saturn (as seen from earth) were about 2 degrees from each other, and both (of course) were in Taurus (the Bull) and very near “facing each other” after an absence of just over 20 years. But precisely on May 27, 2000, the two planets came to an exact “facing.” They “faced each other in a marvelous conjunction” (only about one degree latitude separated them).
As just mentioned, this would have been how the two planets were situated when Moses had the Ark of the Covenant constructed. Then they had 2 times 20 years (or 40 years) for the period of the Exodus that Amos 5:25 mentioned. There was then to be a period of 480 years (1 Kings 6:1) for the start of Solomon building the Temple in Jerusalem (that is 24 times 20 years — a significant biblical number).
The next time in our modern period that Jupiter and Saturn (or Moloch and Chiun) “face each other” will be on December 21, 2020 when they appear at the very beginning of the sign Aquarius (not Taurus). So, in just over 20 years we find that Jupiter (Moloch) and Saturn (Chiun) “face each other” again to become like a “Single Star.” 3
The early Israelites noticed this remarkable astronomical phenomenon of these two planets and they gave religious value to it. Indeed, they began to worship the two Cherubim (named Moloch and Chiun that symbolized Jupiter and Saturn) and they fell into an idolatrous worship of those two Cherubs (and their images in the Holy of Holies) for the whole period of the forty years wandering in the wilderness. They were even continuing the practice (and even with worse consequences) in the time of the prophet Amos (Amos 5:25–26). 4 Stephen even referred to the same practice in his discourse before the Sanhedrin in the year following Christ’s crucifixion:
“Yea, you took up the tabernacle of Moloch, and the star of your godRemphan, figures which you made to worship them: and I will carry you away beyond Babylon.”
Note that Stephen then called Saturn by the name “Remphan” which is a Greek translation of the earlier Semitic term “Chiun.” Those images of Cherubs did great harm in Israel.
There are people today who are still enamored with this Ark of the Covenant (and its two Cherubs named Moloch and Chiun). Without doubt, if the Ark could be once again discovered, they would readily place the two Cherubs right back in any newly built Temple in Jerusalem. The human tendency is strong to do it. The fact is, however, Jeremiah saw the idolatry that had developed over the two Cherubs so he (under inspiration of God, in my view) took the special Tent of the Cherubs as well as the two images of the Cherubs molded into one image and hid it away. Then he wrote Jeremiah 3:14–18 that the true people of God would no longer require the Tent or the Ark of the Covenant in which to worship God.
And there was another reason why Jeremiah took those two images out of the Holy of Holies. That is because ONE OF THOSE VERY CHERUBS became a sinner of the first magnitude. That one Cherub had done such evil in heaven that he had been thrown out of his exalted position next to the throne of God and was in the time of Jeremiah and Ezekiel considered by God as an evil being — a Cherub that had gone wrong. Which of the two Cherubs was the one who went wrong? The prophet Ezekiel tells us.
One of the Cherubs Depicted on the Ark of the Covenant Had Fallen From Grace
Notice what Ezekiel had to say about one of the Cherubs who had formerly been a righteous spirit being of very high rank in the heavenly hierarchy of divine beings associated with the very Throne of God Himself. This particular Cherub had become rebellious and as a result God had rejected him. Which Cherub was it?
“Moreover the word of YHWH came unto me, saying, Son of man, take up a lamentation upon the king [Moloch or Melek] of Tyrus, and say unto him, ‘Thus says the Lord YHWH;
- you [Moloch] seal up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty.
- You have been in Eden the garden of Elohim; every precious stone was your covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of your tabrets and of your pipes was prepared in you in the day that you were created.
- You are the anointed [Messianic] cherub that covers; and I have set you so:
- you were upon the holy mountain of Elohim;
- you have walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire [to mimic this, the Israelites caused their firstborn to “pass through the fire”5].
- You were perfect in your ways from the day that you were created, till iniquity was found in you. By the multitude of your merchandise they have filled the midst of you with violence, and you have sinned: therefore I will cast you as profane out of the mountain of God[Moloch would be jettisoned from God’s Holy Temple in heaven and on earth]: and I will destroy you, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire [where the children sacrificed to Moloch were placed].
- Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty, you have corrupted your wisdom by reason of your brightness [Moloch was a bright planet in the heavens at times]: I will cast you to the ground, I will lay you before kings, that they may behold you.
- You have defiled your sanctuaries [both in Jerusalem and in Tyre] by the multitude of your iniquities, by the iniquity of your traffick;
therefore will I bring forth a fire from the midst of you, it shall devour you, and I will bring you to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all them that behold you [like the firstborn children of Israelites were burnt to ashes in sacrifice]. All they that know you among the people shall be astonished at you: you shall be a terror, and never shall you be any more.’”
There you have it! It was Moloch (represented by the planet Jupiter) that was the sinning Cherub. The other Cherub was named Chiun (represented by the planet Saturn with the Sabbath being his day of consecration for worshipping him). But the Sabbath was made by God for His people to rest, and it was not made for Chiun (Saturn). The early Israelites took the command of God to make the images of the Cherubim and place them in the Holy of Holies as an example given by God to worship those Cherubim (named Moloch and Chiun). This was one of the commands that God gave to the Israelites in the time of Moses that WAS NOT GOOD for the Israelites because it led them into idolatry (Ezekiel 20:25–26). It would do the same today.
But with Ezekiel condemning the practice of having the Ark of the Covenant (and its two Cherubs named Moloch and Chiun) in an idolatrous form of worship, and with Jeremiah even hiding the Ark of the Covenant with its special Tent east of Jericho and across the Jordan River, that put an end to such false worship in the Temple built by Zerubbabel.
In the Temple of Herod (which was in existence in the time of Jesus), there was no Ark of the Covenant displayed in physical form in the Holy of Holies. Though the actual Ark of the Covenant is still in heaven (Revelation 11:19), it was not looked on as proper by God-fearing people to have the Ark again placed in a Temple at Jerusalem since we find Jeremiah and Ezekiel objecting to its placement in the Temple.
At our end of the age, however, we are told in the Book of Revelation that there will once more be an image of a wild beast (remember that the Cherubs are shown as having four faces: one of a man, an eagle, a bull and a lion — which equals a “wild beast”). This image of the wild beast (probably in the form of Moloch the King) will again be placed in a Temple in Jerusalem as described in Revelation chapter 11. This “Image of the Beast”(or, it means that one or both of the Cherubim will be replaced in a new Temple — remember that there were two images of the Cherubs but they were molded together to form one image) will be again placed in a new Temple in Jerusalem (Revelation 13:11–18). There will also be a “Mark of the Beast” associated with this new Ark of the Covenant. So, the rebellion to God of replacing the Ark happens at the End Time.
Questions to ask: Will this new Ark of the Covenant (which will be the Image of the Beast mentioned in the Book of Revelation) be the one that Jeremiah buried east of Jericho and across the Jordan River? That is possible. As far as Jeremiah is concerned, he stated that the ideal Temple in the future would NEVER AGAIN have an Ark of the Covenant in it (Jeremiah 3:16). This is the position that I personally take. In fact, God was honest in His statement in Ezekiel that His commands “were not good.”
If anyone wants to replace the Ark of the Covenant back into a renewed Temple, what he or she will be doing is placing the Image of the Beast mentioned in Revelation 13 back into the Holy of Holies. While God did allow that to happen in the time of Moses — though remember that God said that command to put those images in the Temple, contrary to the Second Command of the Ten Commandments — it was one of those commands that Ezekiel 20:25–26 said God gave that “were not good.” It led them directly (and quickly) right into idolatry of the most serious kind.
I am certain that if the Ark of the Covenant were once again found (or even a new one made by the Temple authorities), it would lead the people back into the kind of idolatry that the early Israelites engaged in, and what the Book of Revelation states this evil world will adopt when the Beast and the False Prophet are on earth.
Ever since I discovered that the Image of the Beast was indeed the reintroduction of the Ark of the Covenant into an End Time Temple (I came to this conclusion well over twenty years ago), I have turned away all my emotional connection with a physical Temple in Jerusalem (or even with a physical Jerusalem) and I now have more important things to be concerned about. True, I plan to give more information on the Temple site as it becomes available, but I have written my book (and with the other articles on our Internet Web Page), I believe I have done my duty to God and to my readers in this matter for the present.
As for me, I have no need for any Ark of the Covenant in my worship. I have only one mediator between the Father and me and that person is Christ Jesus (1 Timothy 2:4–6). As for Temples that are made by the hands of human beings, I have the express teaching of the Holy Spirit that came from the mouth of Stephen. Stephen boldly told the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem (and quoting teachings directly from the Old Testament): “the Most High dwells not in Temples made with hands [human hands]” (Acts 7:48). I have not the slightest need for a physical Temple (with its Moloch or Chiun — the two Cherubs that Moses placed in the Tabernacle). All I need (and I already have Him) is Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
Indeed, when one reflects upon the teaching of the Second Commandment of the Ten Commandments (and applies what the words state explicitly and without preconceived notions), it could be argued that even the building of a Temple is prohibited in the strict sense of the word. This is because the Temple represents an image or similitude of the House of God in which God resides in heaven. Do we not read in the Second Commandment that Israelites should not make an image of ANYTHING in heaven (or in earth or under the earth, Exodus 20:4)? That is right! Even the building of a physical Temple on earth is getting close to breaking the Second Commandment. Of course, it must be realized that God did in fact order Moses to construct the Tabernacle and later God told David to have the Temple built by Solomon. Yes, indeed, but still we are later told that God does NOT dwell in Temples made with human hands in an actual sense (Acts 7:48). Whatever the case, we Christians do not need a physical Temple in any manner whatever.
Ernest L. Martin, 2000
Edited by David Sielaff, March 2007
1 The Holy of Holies was a small tent that covered the two Cherubs and the Ark. It is not to be confused with the large Tent (or Tabernacle) that made up the whole of the portable Temple in the time of Moses and lasted until the time Solomon took the Ark of the Covenant into his Temple building in Jerusalem. ELM
2 The Tent and Ark never went to Ethiopia as some people have imagined, nor were they buried in the bowels of the Temple precincts in Jerusalem as some later Jews speculated. ELM
3 Whether these indications can be used in a prophetic sense is another question altogether and it takes too long for me to discuss this possibility in this Prophetic Report of my Temple Update. I plan to write a book on the Chronology of the Bible as it relates to prophetic events for the future when I can spare the time. ELM Dr. Martin was not able to write that book on chronology before he died in January 2002. DWS
4 While other translations vary, the King James Version translation is shown to be correct according to the citation of Amos 5:25–26 in Acts 7:43 by the evangelist Stephen. DWS
5 See Leviticus 18:21; Deuteronomy 18:1; 2 Kings 16:3, 17:17, 21:6, 23:10; 2 Chronicles 33:6; Jeremiah 32:35; and Ezekiel 16:21, 20:26, 31; 23:37. All were done to Moloch or Moloch by a different name. DWS
© 1976-2013 Associates for Scriptural Knowledge
The Temple Was a Tower
By Ernest L. Martin, PH. D., December 2000
(This content is the intellectual property of Associates
for Scriptural Knowledge)
Please visit http://askelm.com
Excerpts from early historical sources that the Temple was shaped like a TOWER. See the references below. The word TOWER has been highlighted for easy reference. Notice 1) The Epistle of Barnabas, 2) The Book of Enoch; and 3) The Shepherd of Hermas. I give an introduction to all three sources. To see the TEMPLE/TOWER connection, simply scroll (or look) through the texts of the three literary works translated below. There is no specific teaching that I am intending from the texts of the three sources. The display is simply to show that it was common knowledge among Jews and Gentiles (both before and after the time of Christ Jesus) that the Temples were like TOWERS – like the “Tower of Babel” mentioned in the Book of Genesis. This article is simply to show this.
THE EPISTLE OF BARNABAS (written about 85 A.D. – it is the first eyewitness account of the Temple in ruins). Note that this author (who was probably NOT the Barnabas of the New Testament) stated that the Temple looked like a TOWER (or, as we would say today, like a SKYSCRAPER). Josephus described it as a square building (600 feet by 600 feet) and about 450 feet high from the bottom of the Kidron Valley. It thus resembled a modern building in downtown Los Angeles, Chicago or New York that occupied a square block of territory and was as high as a 40 to 45 story building. The Temple platform itself was like a Penthouse on top of the TOWER. It was connected to Fort Antonia in the north by two colonnade roadways that were each 600 feet long. Fort Antonia is now the fourwalled structure known as the Haram esh-Sharif. Let us now notice how Professor Lightfoot translated Barnabas. I have highlighted the word TEMPLE and in the midst we see the word TOWER (also highlighted).
J.B. Lightfoot has translated the text of The Epistle of Barnabas. Adapted and modernized (c) 1990.
“Moreover I will tell you likewise concerning the TEMPLE, how these wretched men being led astray set their hope on the building, and not on their God that made them, as being a house of God. For like the Gentiles almost they consecrated Him in the TEMPLE. But what saith the Lord abolishing the TEMPLE? Learn ye. Who hath measured the heaven with a span, or hath measured the earth with his hand? Have not I, saith the Lord? The heaven is My throne and the earth the footstool of My feet. What manner of house will ye build for Me? Or what shall be my resting place? Ye perceive that their hope is vain. Furthermore He saith again; Behold they that pulled down this TEMPLE themselves shall build it. So it cometh to pass; for because they went to war it was pulled down by their enemies. Now also the very servants of their enemies shall build it up. Again, it was revealed how the city and the TEMPLE and the people of Israel should be betrayed. For the scripture saith; And it shall be in the last days, that the Lord shall deliver up the sheep of the pasture and the fold and the TOWER thereof to destruction. And it came to pass as the Lord spake. But let us enquire whether there be any TEMPLE of God. There is; in the place where he himself undertakes to make and finish it. For it is written And it shall come to pass, when the week [of Daniel’s Seventy Weeks’ Prophecy] is being accomplished, the TEMPLE of God shall be built gloriously in the name of the Lord. I find then that there is a TEMPLE, How then shall it be built in the name of the Lord? Understand ye. Before we believed on God, the abode of our heart was corrupt and weak, a TEMPLEtruly built by hands; for it was full of idolatry and was a house of demons, because we did whatsoever was contrary to God. But it [the true Temple, or the Ekklesia of God] shall be built in the name of the Lord. Give heed then that the TEMPLE of the Lord may be built.”
The next reference I will give that the Temple was a TOWER is the Book of Enoch written about 100 years before the birth of Jesus. The author knew the Temple even then (though it was half the size of Herod’s Temple that Jesus knew) as being fashioned as a TOWER (a skyscraper type of building with a platform on top that housed the Temple which was like a Penthouse on top of the TOWER). Simply scroll (or read) through the text of Enoch to see the TEMPLE/TOWER identification. All early people knew the Temple in Jerusalem was shaped like a square TOWER. Note the text that follows. The symbolic animals represent men in history who lived in the third and second centuries before Christ.
[Chapter 87] 1 And again I saw how they began to gore each other and to devour each other, and the earth 2 began to cry aloud. And I raised mine eyes again to heaven, and I saw in the vision, and behold there came forth from heaven beings who were like white men: and four went forth from that place 3 and three with them. And those three that had last come forth grasped me by my hand and took me up, away from the generations of the earth, and raised me up to a lofty place, and showed me 4 a TOWER raised high above the earth, and all the hills were lower. And one said unto me: ‘ Remain here till thou seest everything that befalls those elephants, camels, and asses, and the stars and the oxen, and all of them.’ [Haitus] 50 And that house became great and broad, and it was built for those sheep: (and) a TOWER lofty and great was built on the house for the Lord of the sheep, and that house was low, but the TOWER was elevated and lofty, and the Lord of the sheep stood on thatTOWER and they offered a full table before Him. 51 And again I saw those sheep that they again erred and went many ways, and forsook that their house, and the Lord of the sheep called some from amongst the sheep and sent them to the sheep, 52 but the sheep began to slay them. And one of them was saved and was not slain, and it sped away and cried aloud over the sheep; and they sought to slay it, but the Lord of the sheep saved it from 53 the sheep, and brought it up to me, and caused it to dwell there. And many other sheep He sent to those sheep to testify unto them and lament over them. And after that I saw that when they forsook the house of the Lord and His TOWER they fell away entirely, and their eyes were blinded; and I saw the Lord of the sheep how He wrought much slaughter amongst them in their herds until 55 those sheep invited that slaughter and betrayed His place. And He gave them over into the hands of the lions and tigers, and wolves and hyenas, and into the hand of the foxes, and to all the wild 56 beasts, and those wild beasts began to tear in pieces those sheep. And I saw that He forsook that their house and theirTOWER and gave them all into the hand of the lions, to tear and devour them, 57 into the hand of all the wild beasts. [Hiatus] And I saw till those shepherds pastured in their season, and they began to slay and to destroy more than they were bidden, and they delivered 66 those sheep into the hand of the lions. And the lions and tigers eat and devoured the greater part of those sheep, and the wild boars eat along with them; and they burnt that TOWER and demolished 67 that house. And I became exceedingly sorrowful over that TOWER because that house of the sheep was demolished, and afterwards I was unable to see if those sheep entered that house. [Hiatus] 72 And forthwith I saw how the shepherds pastured for twelve hours, and behold three of those sheep turned back and came and entered and began to build up all that had fallen down of that 73 house; but the wild boars tried to hinder them, but they were not able. And they began again to build as before, and they reared up that TOWER, and it was named the high TOWER; and they began again to place a table before the TOWER, but all the bread on it was polluted and not pure.
The next reference to the Temple being a TOWER is The Shepherd of Hermas (a Christian composition written in the latter part of the Second Century A.D). This source identifies the Christian Church (ekklesia) as being a type of Temple (like the apostle Paul stated in Ephesians 2). But since the New Jerusalem in Revelation 21 is shown to be a HIGH TOWER (really, a cube shaped structure symbolically shown to be about 1300 miles high), it would resemble a TOWER (that is, like a skyscraper). The Shepherd of Hermas always calls the Temple of God at Jerusalem as being like a TOWER which the author (as stated above) symbolically represents the Christian Community of believers (the ekklesia). You will notice the abundance of prime references to the TOWER/TEMPLE and the TOWER/CHURCH identification. Simply scroll through the text to see the many references to this identification. Thus, to the Shepherd of Hermas, the Temple in Jerusalem was indeed shaped like a TOWER. Let us see the text.
APOSTOLIC FATHERS, THE SHEPHERD OF HERMAS (translated and edited by J. B. Lightfoot). I have abridged it with hiatuses in some places.
VISION ONE. 1:2 The master, who reared me, had sold me to one Rhoda in Rome. 1:3 After many years, I met her again, and began to love her as a sister. 1:4 After a certain time I saw her bathing in the river Tiber; 1:5 and I gave her my hand, and led her out of the river. 1:6 So, seeing her beauty, I reasoned in my heart, saying, ` Happy were I, if I had such an one to wife both in beauty and in character’. 1:7 I merely reflected on this and nothing more. 1:8 After a certain time, as I was journeying to Cumae, and glorifying God’s creatures for their greatness and splendour and power, as I walked I fell asleep. 1:9 And a Spirit took me, and bore me away through a pathless tract, through which no man could pass: 1:10 for the place was precipitous, and broken into clefts by reason of the waters. [Hiatus] 13:1 When she had said this, she wished to depart; 13:2 but, falling at vision which she promised. 13:3 Then she again took me by the hand, and raiseth me, and seateth me on the couch at the left hand, while she herself sat on the right. 13:4 And lifting up a certain glistening rod, she saith to me, `Seest thou a great thing’? 13:5 I say to her, ` Lady, I see nothing’. 13:6 She saith to me, `Look thou; 13:7 dost thou not see in front of thee a great TOWER being builded upon the waters, of glistening square stones’? 13:8 Now the TOWER was being builded foursquareby the six young men that came with her. 13:9 And countless other men were bringing stones, some of them from the deep, and others from the land, and were handing them to the six young men. 13:10 And they took them and builded. 13:11 The stones that were dragged from the deep they placed in every case, 13:12 just as they were, into the building, for they had been shaped, and they fitted in their joining with the other stones; 13:13 and they adhered so closely one with another that their joining could not possibly be detected; 13:14 and the building of the TOWER appeared as if it were built of one stone. 13:15 But of the other stones which were brought from the dry land, some they threw away, and some they put into the building; 13:16 and others they broke in pieces, and threw to a distance from the TOWER. 13:17 Now many other stones were lying round the TOWER, and they did not use them for the building; 13:18 for some of them were mildewed, and others had cracks ill them, and others were too short, and others were white and round, and did not fit into the building. 13:19 And I saw other stones thrown to a distance from theTOWER, and coming to the way, and yet not staying in the way, but rolling to where there was no way; 13:20 and others falling into the fire and burning there;
14:1 When she had shown me these things, she wished to hurry these things, and yet not to know what the things mean’? 14:2 She answered and said unto me, `Thou art an over-curious fellow, in desiring to know all that concerns theTOWER‘. 14:3 `Yea, lady’, I said, `that I may announce it to any brethren, and that they [may be the more gladdened and] when they hear [these things] may know the Lord in great glory’. 14:4 `Then said she, `Many shall hear; 14:5 but when they hear, some of them shall be glad, and others shall weep. 14:6 Yet even these latter, if they hear and repent, shall likewise be glad. 14:7 Hear thou therefore the parables of the TOWER; 14:8 for I will reveal all things unto thee. 14:9 And trouble me no more about revelation; 14:10 for these revelations have an end, seeing that they have been completed. 14:11 Nevertheless thou wilt not cease asking for revelations; 14:12 for thou art shameless.
15:1 `The TOWER, which thou seest building, is myself, the Church, which was seen of thee both now and aforetime. 15:2 Ask, therefore, what thou willest concerning the TOWER, and I will reveal it unto thee, that thou mayest rejoice with the saints’. 15:3 I say unto her, Lady, since thou didst hold me worthy once for all, that thou shouldest reveal all things to me, reveal them’. 15:4 Then she saith to me, `Whatsoever is possible to be revealed to thee, shall be revealed. 15:5 Only let thy heart be with God, and doubt not in thy mind about that which thou seest’. 15:6 I asked her, `Wherefore is the TOWER builded upon waters, lady’? 15:7 `I told thee so before’, said she, `and indeed thou dost enquire diligently. 15:8 So by thy enquiry thou discoverest the truth. 15:9 Hear then why the TOWER is builded upon waters; 15:10 it is because your life is saved and shall be saved by water.
16:1 I answered and said unto her, 16:2 `Lady, this thing is great and `These are the holy angels of GOD, that were created first of all, unto whom the Lord delivered all His creation to increase and to build it, and to be masters of all creation. 16:3 By their hands therefore the building of the TOWER will be accomplished’. 16:4 `And who are the others who are bringing the stones’? 16:5 `They also are holy angels of God; 16:6 but these six are superior to them. 16:7 The building of the TOWER then shall be accomplished, and all alike shall rejoice in the (completed) circle of the TOWER, and shall glorify God that the building of the TOWER was accomplished’. 16:8 I enquired of her, saying, ` Lady, I could wish to know concerning the end of the stones, and their power, of what kind it is’. [Hiatus] 17:7 Therefore their joinings fit together in the building of the TOWER‘. 17:8 `But they that are dragged from the deep, and placed in the building, and that fit together in their joinings with the other stones that are already builded in, who are they’? 17:9 `These are they that suffered for the name of the Lord’. 17:10 `But the other stones that are brought from the dry land, I would fain know who these are, lady’. 17:11 She said, `Those that go to the building, and yet are not hewn, these the Lord hath approved because they walked in the uprightness of the Lord, and rightly performed His commandments’. 17:12 `But they that are brought and placed in the building, who are they’? 17:13 `They are young in the faith, and faithful; 17:14 but they are warned by the angels to do good, because wickedness was found in them’. 17:15 `But those whom they rejected and threw away, who are they’? 17:16 `These have sinned, and desire to repent, therefore they were not cast to a great distance from the TOWER, because they will be useful for the building, if they repent. 17:17 They then that shall repent, if they repent, will be strong in the faith, if they repent now while the TOWER is building. 17:18 But if the building shall be finished, they have no more any place, but shall be castaways.
18:1 But wouldst thou know about them that are broken in pieces, and cast away far from the TOWER? 18:2 These are the sons of wickedness was absent from them. 18:3 Therefore they have not salvation, for they are not useful for building by reason of their wickednesses. [Hiatus] 21:1 `But the other stones which thou sawest cast far away from the TOWER and falling into the way and rolling out of the way into believed, 21:2 but by reason of their double heart they abandon their true way. [Hiatus] 21:9 Then, when they call to their remembrance the purity of the truth, they change their minds, and go back again after their evil desires’. 21:10 So she finished the explanation of theTOWER. 21:11 Still importunate, I asked her further, whether for all these stones that were rejected and would not fit into the building of the TOWERthere was repentance, and they had a place in this TOWER. 21:12 `They can repent’, she said, `but they cannot be fitted into this TOWER. 21:13 Yet they shall be fitted into another place much more humble, but not until they have undergone torments, and have fulfilled the days of their sins. 21:14 And they shall be changed for this reason, because they participated it, the Righteous Word; 21:15 and then shall it befall them to be relieved from their torments, if the evil deeds, that they have done, come into their heart;
22:1 When then I ceased asking her concerning all these things, desirous of beholding, I was greatly rejoiced that I should see it. 22:2 She looked upon me, and smiled, and she saith to me, `Seest thou seven women round the TOWER‘? 22:3 `I see them, lady’, say I. 22:4 `This TOWER is supported by them by commandment of the Lord. 22:5 Hear now their employments. [Hiatus] 22:19 Their works then are pure and reverent and divine. 22:20 Whosoever therefore shall serve these women, and shall have strength to master their works, shall have his dwelling in the TOWER with the saints of God’. 22:21 Then I asked her concerning the seasons, whether the consummation is even now. 22:22 But she cried aloud, saying, ` Foolish man, seest thou not that the TOWER is still a-building? 22:23 Whensoever therefore the TOWER shall be finished building, the end cometh; 22:24 but it shall be built up quickly. 22:25 Ask me no more questions: [Hiatus] 23:11 Ye then that have more than enough, seek out them that are hungry, while the TOWER is still unfinished; 23:12 for after theTOWER is finished, ye will desire to do good, and will find no place for it. 23:13 Look ye therefore, ye that exult in your wealth, 23:14 lest they that are in want shall moan, and their moaning shall go up unto the Lord, and ye with your [abundance of) good things be shut outside the door of the TOWER. [Hiatus]
24:1 When then she ceased speaking with me, the six young men, who were building, came, and took her away to the TOWER, and other four lifted the couch, and took it also away to the TOWER. 24:2 I saw not the face of these, for they were turned away. [Hiatus] 26:10 And therefore He showed you the building of the TOWER; [Hiatus] 30:9 For as the gold loses its dross, so ye also shall cast away all sorrow and tribulation, and shall be purified, and shall be useful for the building of the TOWER. 30:10 But the white portion is the coming age, in which the elect of God shall dwell; 30:11 because the elect of God shall be without spot and pure unto life eternal. [Hiatus] 77:2 And crowns were brought, made as it were of palm-branches; 77:3 and he crowned the men that had given up the rods which had the shoots and some fruit, and sent them away into the TOWER. 77:4 And the others also he sent into the TOWER, even those who had given up the rods green and with shoots, but the shoots were without fruit; 77:5 and he set a seal upon them. 77:6 And all they that went into the TOWER had the same raiment, white as snow. 77:7 And those that had given up their rods green as they received them, he sent away, giving them a [white] robe, and seals. [Hiatus] 78:15 I say unto him; 78:16 `Sir, wherefore did he send away some into the TOWER, and leave others for thee?’ 78:17 `As many,’ saith he, `as transgressed the law which they received from him, these he left under my authority for repentance; 78:18 but as many as already satisfied the law and have observed it, these he has under his own authority.’ 78:19 `Who then, Sir,’ say I, `are they that have been crowned and go into theTOWER? 78:20 `[`As many,’ saith he, `as wrestled with the devil and overcame him in their wrestling, are crowned:] [Hiatus] 79:14 Then those gave them up who had had the half-withered and with cracks; 79:15 and many of them gave them up green and without cracks; 79:16 and some gave them up green and with shoots, and fruits on the shoots, such as those had who went into the TOWER crowned; 79:17 and some gave them up withered and eaten, and some withered and uneaten, and some such as they were, half-withered and with cracks. [Hiatus]
81:26 And as many as shall not repent, have lost their life; 81:27 but as many of them as repented, became good; 81:28 and their dwelling was placed within the first walls, and some of them even ascended into the TOWER. 81:29 Thou seest then,’ [saith he,] `that repentance from sins bringeth life, but not to repent bringeth death. 82:1 `But as many as gave up (the rods) half-withered, and with cracks in them, hear also concerning these. 82:2 Those whose rods were half-withered throughout are the double-minded; 82:3 for they neither live nor are dead. 82:4 But those that have them half-withered and cracks in then,, these are both double-minded and slanderers, and are never at peace among themselves but always causing dissensions. 82:5 Yet even to these,’ [saith he,] `repentence is given. 82:6 Thou seest,’ [saith he,] `that some of them have repented; 82:7 and there is still,’ saith he, `hope of repentance among them. 82:8 And as many of them,’ saith he, `as have repented, have their abode within the TOWER but as many of them as have repented tardily shall abide within the walls; 82:9 and as many as repent not, but continue in their doings, shall die the death. [Hiatus] 82:13 They have their habitation, therefore, within the TOWER. 82:14 But if any one shall again turn to dissension, he shall be cast out from the TOWER and shall lose his life. 82:15 Life is for all those that keep the commandments of the Lord. 82:16 But in the commandments there is nothing about first places, or about glory of any kind, but about long-suffering and humility in man. 82:17 In such men, therefore, is the life of the Lord, but in factious and lawless men is death. 83:1 `But they that gave up their rods half green and half withered, these are they that are mixed up in business and cleave not to the saints. 83:2 Therefore the one half of them liveth, but the other half is dead. 83:3 Many then when they heard my commandments repented. 83:4 As many then as repented, have their abode within the TOWER. 83:5 But some of them altogether stood aloof. 83:6 These then have no repentance; 83:7 for by reason of their business affairs they blasphemed the Lord and denied Him. 83:8 So they lost their life for the wickedness that they committed. 83:9 But many of them were doubtful-minded. 83:10 These still have place for repentance, if they repent quickly, and their dwelling shall be within the TOWER; 83:11 and if they repent tardily, they shall dwell within the walls; 83:12 but if they repent not, they too have lost their life. 83:13 But they that have given up two parts green and the third part withered, these are they that have denied with manifold denials. 83:14 Many of them therefore repented, and departed to dwell inside the TOWER; 83:15 but many utterly rebelled from God; 83:16 these lost their life finally. 83:17 And some of them were double-minded and caused dissensions. 83:18 For these then there is repentance, if they repent speedily and continue not in their pleasures; 83:19 but if they continue in their doings, they likewise procure for themselves death. 84:1 `But they that have given up their rods two thirds withered and one third green, these are men who have been believers, but grew rich and became renowned among the Gentiles. 84:2 They clothed themselves with great pride and became high-minded, 84:3 and abandoned the truth and did not cleave to the righteous, but lived together after the manner of the Gentiles, and the path appeared the more pleasant unto them; 84:4 yet they departed not from God, but continued in the faith, though they wrought not the works of the faith. 84:5 Many of them therefore repented, and they had their habitation within theTOWER. 84:6 But others at the last living with the Gentiles, and being corrupted by the vain opinions of the Gentiles, departed from God, and worked the works of the Gentiles. 84:7 These therefore were numbered with the Gentiles. 84:8 But others of them were doubtful-minded, not hoping to be saved by reason of the deeds that they had done; 84:9 and others were double-minded and made divisions among themselves. 84:10 For these then that were double-minded by reason of their doings there is still repentance; 84:11 but their repentance ought to be speedy, that their dwelling may be within theTOWER; 84:12 but for those who repent not, but continue in their pleasures, death is nigh. 85:1 `But they that gave up their rods green, yet with the extreme ends withered and with cracks; 85:2 these were found at all times good and faithful and glorious in the sight of God, 85:3 but they sinned to a very slight degree by reason of little desires and because they had somewhat against one another. 85:4 But, when they heard my words, the greater part quickly repented, and their dwelling was assigned within the TOWER. 85:5 But some of them were double-minded, and some being double-minded made a greater dissension. 85:6 In these then there is still a hope of repentance, because they were found always good; 85:7 and hardly shall one of them die. 85:8 But they that gave up their rods withered, yet with a very small part green, these are they that believed, but practiced the works of lawlessness. 85:9 Still they never separated from God, but bore the Name gladly, and gladly received into their houses the servants of God. 85:10 So hearing of this repentance they repented without wavering, and they practice all excellence and righteousness. 85:11 And some of them even suffer persecution willingly, knowing the deeds that they did. 85:12 All these then shall have their dwelling within the TOWER. [Hiatus] [PARABLE THE NINTH]. 87:2 After I had written down the commandments and parables of the shepherd, the angel of repentance, he came to me and saith with thee in the form of the Church, showed unto thee. 87:3 For that Spirit is the Son of God. 87:4 For when thou wast weaker in the flesh, it was not declared unto thee through an angel; 87:5 but when thou wast enabled through the Spirit, and didst grow mighty in thy strength so that thou couldest even see an angel, 87:6 then at length was manifested unto thee, through the Church, the building of the TOWER. 87:7 In fair and seemly manner hast thou seen all things, (instructed) as it were by a virgin; 87:8 but now thou seest (being instructed by an angel, though by the same Spirit; 87:9 yet must thou learn everything more accurately from me.[Hiatus] 89:4 And there arose a great noise from those men who had come to build the TOWER, as they ran hither and thither round the gate. 89:5 For the virgins standing round the gate told the men to hasten to build the TOWER. 89:6 Now the virgins had spread out their hands, as if they would take something from the men. 89:7 And the six men ordered stones to come up from a certain deep place, and to go to the building of the TOWER. 89:8 And there went up ten stones square and polished, [not] hewn from a quarry. 89:9 And the six men called to the virgins, and ordered them to carry all the stones which should go unto the building of the TOWER, and to pass through the gate and to hand them to the men that were about to build the TOWER. 89:10 And the virgins laid the first ten stones that rose out of the deep on each other, and they carried them together, stone by stone. 90:1 And just as they stood together around the gate, in that order they carried them that seemed to be strong enough and had stooped under the corners of the stone, while the others stooped at the sides of the stone. 90:2 And so they carried all the stones. 90:3 And they carried them right through the gate, as they were ordered, and handed them to the men for the TOWER; 90:4 and these took the stones and builded. 90:5 Now the building of the TOWER was upon the great rock and above the gate. 90:6 Those ten stones then were joined together, and they covered the whole rock. 90:7 And these formed a foundation for the building of the TOWER. 90:8 And [the rock and] the gate supported the whole TOWER. 90:9 And, after the ten stones, other twenty-five stones came up from the deep, and these were fitted into the building of the TOWER, being carried by the virgins, like the former. 90:10 And after these thirty-five stones came up. 90:11 And these likewise were fitted into the TOWER. 90:12 And after these came up other forty stones, and these all were put into the building of theTOWER. 90:13 So four rows were made in the foundations of the TOWER. 90:14 And (the stones) ceased coming up from the deep, and the builders likewise ceased for a little. 90:15 And again the six men ordered the multitude of the people to bring in stones from the mountains for the building of theTOWER. 90:16 They were brought in accordingly from all the mountains, of various colours, shaped by the men, and were handed to the virgins; 90:17 and the virgins carried them right through the gate, and handed them in for the building of the TOWER. 90:18 And when the various stones were placed in the building, they became all alike and white, and they lost their various colours. 90:19 But some stones were handed in by the men for the building, and these did not become bright; 90:20 but just as they were placed, such likewise were they found; 90:21 for they were not handed in by the virgins, nor had they been carried in through the gate. 90:22 These stones then were unsightly in the building of the TOWER. 90:23 Then the six men, seeing the stones that were unsightly in the building, ordered them to be removed and carried [below] into their own place whence they were brought. 90:24 And they say to the men who were bringing the stones in; 90:25 `Abstain for your parts altogether from handing in stones for the building; 90:26 but place them by the TOWER, that the virgins may carry them through the gate, and hand them in for the building. 90:27 For if,’ [say they,] `they be not carried in through the gate by the hands of these virgins, they cannot change their colours. 90:28 Labor not therefore,’ [say they,] `in vain. 91:1 And the building was finished on that day, yet was not the TOWER finally completed, for it was to be carried up [still] higher; 91:2 and there was a cessation in the building. 91:3 And the six men ordered the builders to retire for a short time [all of them], and to rest; 91:4 but the virgins they ordered not to retire from the TOWER. 91:5 And me thought the virgins were left to guard the TOWER. 91:6 And after all had retired [and rested], I say to the shepherd; 91:7 `How is it, Sir,’ say I, `that the building of the TOWER was not completed?’ 91:8 `The TOWER,’ he saith, `cannot yet he fully completed, until its master come and test this building, that if any stones be found crumbling, he may change them; 91:9 for the TOWER is being built according to His will.’ 91:10 `I would fain know, Sir,’ say I, 91:11 `what is this building of this TOWER, and concerning the rock and gate, and the mountains, and the virgins, and the stones that came up from the deep, and were not shaped, hut went just as they were into the building; 91:12 and wherefore ten stones were first placed in the foundations, 91:13 then twenty-five, then thirty-five, then forty, 91:14 and concerning the stones that had gone to the building and were removed again and put away in their own place-concerning all these things set my soul at rest, Sir, and explain them to me.’ 91:15 `If,’ saith he, `thou be not found possessed of an idle curiosity, thou shalt know all things. 91:16 For after a few days we shall come here, and thou shalt see the sequel that overtaketh this TOWER and shalt understand all the parables accurately.’ 91:17 And after a few days we came to the place where we had sat, and he saith to me, `Let us go to the TOWER; 91:18 for the owner of the TOWERcometh to inspect it.’ 91:19 And we came to the TOWER, and there was no one at all by it, save the virgins alone. 91:20 And the shepherd asked the virgins whether the master of the TOWER had arrived. 91:21 And they said that he would be there directly to inspect the building.
92:1 And, behold, after a little while I see an array of many men coming, and in the midst a man of such lofty stature that he overtopped the TOWER. 92:2 And the six men who superintended the building walked with him on the right hand and on the left, and all they that worked at the building were with him, and many other glorious attendants around him. 92:3 And the virgins that watched the TOWER ran up and kissed him, and they began to walk by his side round the TOWER. 92:4 And that man inspected the building so carefully, that he felt each single stone; 92:5 and he held a rod in his hand and struck each single stone that was built in. 92:6 And when he smote, some of the stones became black as soot, others mildewed, 92:7 others cracked, others broke off short, others became neither white nor black, others rough and not fitting in with the other stones, and others with many spots; 92:8 these were the varied aspects of the stones which were found unsound for the building. 92:9 So he ordered all these to be removed from the TOWER, and to be placed by the side of the TOWER, and other stones to be brought and put into their place. 92:10 And the builders asked him from what mountain he desired stones to be brought and put into their place. 92:11 And he would not have them brought from the mountains, but ordered them to be brought from a certain plain that was nigh at hand. 92:12 And the plain was dug, and stones were found there bright and square, but some of them too were round. 92:13 And all the stones which there were anywhere in that plain were brought every one of them, and were carried through the gate by the virgins. 92:14 And the square stones were hewed, and set in the place of those which had been removed; 92:15 but the round ones were not placed in the building, because they were too hard to be shaped, and to work on them was slow. 92:16 So they were placed by the side of the TOWER, as though they were intended to be shaped and placed in the building; 92:17 for they were very bright.
93:1 So then, having accomplished these things, 93:2 the glorious man who was lord of the whole TOWER called the shepherd to him, 93:3 and delivered unto him all the stones which lay by the side of the TOWER, which were cast out from the building, and saith unto him; 93:4 `Clean these stones carefully, and set them in the building of the TOWER, these, I mean, which can fit with the rest; 93:5 but those which will not fit, throw far away from the TOWER.’ 93:6 Having given these orders to the shepherd, he departed from the TOWERwith all those with whom he had come. 93:7 And the virgins stood round theTOWER watching it. 93:8 I say to the shepherd, `How can these stones go again to the building of the TOWER, seeing that they have been disapproved?’ 93:9 He saith unto me in answer; 93:10 `Seest thou,’ saith he, `these stones?’ 93:11 `I see them, Sir,’ say I. 93:12 `I myself,’ saith he, will shape the greater part of these stones and put them into the building, and they shall fit in with the remaining stones.’ 93:13 `How, Sir,’ say I, `can they, when they are chiseled, fill the same space?’ 93:14 He saith unto me in answer, As many as shall be found small, shall be put into the middle of the building; 93:15 but as many as are larger, shall be placed nearer the outside, and they will bind them together.’ 93:16 With these words he saith to me, Let us go away, and after two days let us come and clean these stones, and put them into the building; 93:17 for all things round the TOWER must be made clean, 93:18 lest haply the master come suddenly and find the circuit of the TOWER dirty, 93:19 and he be wroth, and so these stones shall not go to the building of the TOWER, and I shall appear to be careless in my master’s sight.
94:1 And after two days we came to the TOWER, and he saith unto me; 94:2 `Let us inspect all the stones, and see those which can go to the building.’ 94:3 I say to him, `Sir, let us inspect them.’ 94:4 And so commencing first we began to inspect the black stones; 94:5 and just as they were when set aside from the building, such also they were found. 94:6 And the shepherd ordered them to be removed from the TOWER and to be put on one side. 94:7 Then he inspected those that were mildewed, and he took and shaped many of them, and ordered the virgins to take them up and put them into the building. 94:8 And the virgins took them up and placed them in the building of the TOWER in a middle position. 94:9 But the rest he ordered to be placed with the black ones; 94:10 for these also were found black. 94:11 Then he began to inspect those that had the cracks; 94:12 and of these he shaped many, and he ordered them to be carried away by the hands of the virgins for the building. 94:13 And they were placed towards the outside, because they were found to be sounder. 94:14 But the rest could not be shaped owing to the number of the cracks. 94:15 For this reason therefore they were cast aside front the building of the TOWER. 94:16 Then he proceeded to inspect the stunted (stones), and many among them were found black, and some had contracted great cracks; 94:17 and he ordered these also to be placed with those that had been cast aside. 94:18 But those of them which remained he cleaned and shaped, and ordered to he placed in the building. 94:19 So the virgins took them up, and fitted them into the middle of the building of the TOWER; 94:20 for they were somewhat weak. 94:21 Then he began to inspect those that were half white and half black, and many of them were (now) found black; 94:22 and he ordered these also to be taken up with those that had been cast aside. 94:23 *But all the rest were [found white, and were] taken up by the virgins; 94:24 for being white they were fitted by [the virgins] them[selves] into the building. 94:25 *But they were placed towards the outside, because they were found sound, so that they could hold together those that were placed in the middle; 94:26 for not a single one of them was too short. 94:27 Then he began to inspect the hard and rough; 94:28 and a few of them were cast away, because they could not be shaped; 94:29 for they were found very hard. 94:30 But the rest of them were shaped [and taken up by the virgins] and fitted into the middle of the building of theTOWER; 94:31 for they were somewhat weak. [Hiatus] 95:13 But the rest, which remained over, were taken up, and put aside into the plain whence they were brought; 95:14 they were not however cast away, `Because,’ saith he, `there remaineth still a little of the TOWER to be builded. 95:15 And the master of the TOWER is exceedingly anxious that these stones be fitted into the building, for they are very bright. 95:16 So twelve women were called, most beautiful in form, clad in black, [girded about and having the shoulders bare,] with their hair hanging loose. 95:17 And these women, me thought, had a savage look. 95:18 And the shepherd ordered them to take up the stones which had been cast away from the building, and to carry them off to the same mountains from which also they had been brought; 95:19 and they took them up joyfully, and carried away all the stones and put them in the place whence they had been taken. 95:20 And after all the stones had been taken up, and not a single stone still lay round the TOWER, the shepherd saith unto me; 95:21 Let us go round the TOWER, and see that there is no defect in it. 95:22 And I proceeded to go round it with him. 95:23 And when the shepherd saw that theTOWER was very comely in the building, he was exceedingly glad; 95:24 for the TOWER was so well builded, that when I saw it I coveted the building of it ; 95:25 for it was builded, as it were, of one stone, having one fitting in it. 95:26 And the stone-work appeared as if hewn out of the rock; 95:27 for it seemed to be all a single stone.
96:1 And I, as I walked with him, was glad to see so brave a sight. 96:2 And the shepherd saith to me `Go and bring plaster and fine clay, that I may fill up the shapes of the stones that have been taken up and put into the building; 96:3 for all the circuit of the TOWER must be made smooth. 96:4 And I did is he bade, and brought them to him. 96:5 `Assist me,’ saith he, `and the work will speedily be accomplished. 96:6 So he filled in the shapes of the stones which had gone to the building, and ordered the circuit of the TOWER to be swept and made clean. 96:7 And the virgins took brooms and swept, and they removed all the rubbish from the TOWER, and sprinkled water, and the site of the TOWER was made cheerful and very seemly. 96:8 The shepherd saith unto me, `All,’ saith he, `hath now been cleaned. 96:9 If the lord come to inspect the TOWER, he hath nothing for which to blame us.’ 96:10 Saying this, he desired to go away. [Hiatus] 97:15 for we love thee dearly.’ 97:16 But I was ashamed to abide with them. 97:17 And she that seemed to be the chief of them began to kiss and to embrace me; 97:18 and the others seeing her embrace me, they too began to kiss me, and to lead me round the TOWER, and to sport with me. 97:19 And I had become as it were a younger man, and I commenced myself likewise to sport with them. 97:20 For some of them began to dance, [others to skip,] others to sing. 97:21 But I kept silence and walked with them round the TOWER, and was glad with them. 97:22 But when evening came I wished to go away home; 97:23 but they would not let me go, but detained me. 97:24 And I stayed the nigh with them, and I slept by the side of the TOWER. 97:25 For the virgins spread their linen tunics on the ground, and made me lie down in the midst of them, and they did nothing else but pray; 97:26 and I prayed with them without ceasing, and not less than they. 97:27 And the virgins rejoiced that I so prayed. [Hiatus] 98:9 Didst thou see,’ saith he, 98:10 `that the stones which came through the gate have gone to the building of the TOWER, but those which came not through it were cast away again to their own place?’ 98:11 `I saw, Sir,’ say I. 98:12 “Thus,’ saith he, `no one shall enter into the kingdom of God, except he receive the name of His Son. 98:13 For if thou wishest to enter into any city, and that city is walled all round and has one gate only, canst thou enter into that city except through the gate which it hath?’ 98:14 `Why, how, Sir,’ say I, `is it possible otherwise?’ 98:15 `If then thou canst not enter into the city except through the gate itself, even so, saith he, `a man cannot enter into the kingdom of God except by the name of His Son that is beloved by Him. 98:16 Didst thou see,’ saith he, `the multitude that is building the TOWER?’ 98:17 `I saw it, Sir,’ say I. 98:18 `They,’ saith he, are all glorious angels. 98:19 With these then the Lord is walled around. 98:20 But the gate is the Son of God; 98:21 there is this one entrance only to the Lord. 98:22 No one then shall enter in unto Him otherwise than through His Son. 98:23 Didst thou see,’ saith he, `the six men, and the glorious and mighty man in the midst of them, him that walked about theTOWER and rejected the stones from the building?’
99:1 `But the TOWER,’ say I, what is it? 99:2 “The TOWER,’ saith he, why, this is the Church. 99:3 `And these virgins, who are they?’ 99:4 `They,’ saith he, `are unless these shall clothe him with their garment; 99:5 for if thou receive only the name, but receive not the garment from them, thou profitest nothing. 99:6 For these virgins are powers of the Son of God. 99:7 If [therefore] thou bear the Name, and bear not His power, thou shalt bear His Name to none effect. 99:8 And the stones,’ saith he, which thou didst see cast away, these bare the Name, but clothed not themselves with the raiment of the virgins.’ 99:9 `Of what sort, Sir,’ say I, `is their raiment? 99:10 “The names themselves,’ saith he, `are their raiment. 99:11 `Whosoever beareth the Name of the Son of God, ought to bear the names of these also; 99:12 for even the Son Himself beareth the names of these virgins. 99:13 As many stones,’ saith he, `as thou sawest enter into the building of the TOWER, being given in by their hands and waiting for the building, they have been clothed in the power of these virgins. 99:14 For this cause thou seest the TOWER made a single stone with the rock. 99:15 So also they that have believed in the Lord through His Son and clothe themselves in these spirits, shall become one spirit and one body, and their garments all of one colour. 99:16 But such persons as bear the names of the virgins have their dwelling in the TOWER.’ 99:17 `The stones then, Sir,’ say I, which are cast aside, wherefore were they cast aside? 99:18 For they passed through the gate and were placed in the building of the TOWERby the hands of the virgins.’ 99:19 `Since all these things interest thee,’ saith he, `and thou enquirest diligently, listen as touching the stones that have been cast aside. [Hiatus] 100:4 For this is the reason why there was also a cessation in the building, that, if these repent, they may go into the building of theTOWER; 100:5 but if they repent not, then others will go, and these shall be cast away finally.’ 100:6 For all these things I gave thanks unto the Lord, because He had compassion on all that called upon His name, 100:7 and sent forth the angel of repentance to us that had sinned against Him, and refreshed our spirit, and, when we were already ruined and had no hope of life, restored our life. 100:8 `Now, Sir,’ say I, show me why the TOWER is not built upon the ground, but upon the rock and upon the gate.’ 100:9 `Because thou art senseless,’ saith he, `and without understanding [thou askest the question].’ [Hiatus] 101:18 `Wherefore then, Sir,’ say I, `did the virgins give in these stones also for the building of the TOWER and carry them through the gate? 101:19 ” Because these first, ‘saith he, 101:20 `bore these spirits, and they never separated the one from the other, neither the spirits from the men nor the men from the spirits, but the spirits abode with them till they fell asleep; [Hiatus] 102:18 For this cause also they came up with them, and were fitted with them into the building of the TOWER and were builded with them, without being shaped; 102:19 for they fell asleep in righteousness and in great purity’ 102:22 I have, Sir,’ say I.
117:1 Hear,’ saith he, `likewise concerning all these things. 117:2 The stones which were taken from the plain and placed in the building of the TOWER in the room of those that were rejected, are the roots of this white mountain. 117:3 When then they that believed from this mountain were all found guileless, the lord of the TOWER ordered these from the roots of this mountain to be put into the building of the TOWER. 117:4 For He knew that if these stones should go to the building [of the TOWER], they would remain bright and not one of then would turn black. 117:5 But if he had added (stones) from the other mountains, he would have been obliged to visit that TOWER again, and to purify it. 117:6 Now all these have been found white, who have believed and who shall believe; 117:7 for they are of the same kind. [Hiatus] 117:14 So therefore they have been cut away a little, and placed in the building of thisTOWER.
CONCLUSION: What we see in the above three texts is a common usage of the word TOWER that is associated with the meaning of TEMPLE (with the word “Temple” in the Shepherd of Hermas denoting the Ekklesia of God). For all of you who wish to view the whole texts of these three books, you can click into the ASK Home Page on the Internet and we have LINKS to various educational institutions in the United States and Europe who have downloaded these texts for all people to read – and they are FREE to view. The object of this study is simply to show the TEMPLE/TOWER connection was a normal one because the actual Temple of Herod in Jerusalem was a TOWER (as square building) 45 stories high.
© 1976-2013 Associates for Scriptural Knowledge – ASK is supported by freewill contributions