Jerusalem 70 AD a Total Destruction (continued)
Damien F. Mackey
“In 70 AD the temple was completely and utterly uprooted by the Romans, thus fulfilling Christ’s prophesy that not one stone would be standing upon another there.
The temple was eradicated from all recognition, so much so that no one could even tell that the building had ever existed”.
The holocaust of 70 AD was the subject matter of my article:
Jerusalem 70 AD a Total Destruction
and again, in part, of my:
Third Temple and the Red Heifer
for much of which I was heavily reliant upon the insights of Dr. Ernest L. Martin (e.g. his book, The Temples that Jerusalem Forgot, 2000).
The chief criticism since levelled against this non-standard interpretation has been that it is thin regarding the matter of archaeological evidence.
That could be (at least partly) due to the fact that it does not accord with the conventional archaeological estimations pertaining to Jerusalem and the Temple.
Former policeman, Bob Cornuke (also influenced by Dr. Martin), has brought to bear his forensic skills on the subject in this compelling article
The Temple Mount is considered to be the historic place of Solomon’s and Herod’s temple. Muslims call it the Harm al-Sharif, the place from which Mohammed went to heaven on his horse named Barack. Even though the Temple Mount is in the most holy site of the Jews and situated right in the middle of Israel it is also solely in the administrative control of Muslims. Jews desperately want to take control of the place, as well as rebuild their temple there. Muslims on-the-other-hand relay a stern warning that if a Jew ever puts one shovel to their professed holy site a war may follow.
It may be surprising to some, but in the fourth century, people were trying to
find the lost sites of the former temples of Solomon and Herod. They simply did
not know where the temple sites were placed. In 70 AD the temple was completely
and utterly uprooted by the Romans, thus fulfilling Christ’s prophesy that not
one stone would be standing upon another there. The temple was eradicated from
all recognition, so much so that no one could even tell that the building had
ever existed. So, in the next 300 years, with so many Jews having been killed
or expelled from the land, people were not sure where the correct location of
the temple was so four other sites that were proposed. The temple mount was
settled on as the site of the lost temple even though the Bible seems to
indicate that it is someplace altogether.
Like so many, I have always thought that the location for the temple of Solomon
had been proven to be on the traditional Temple Mount in Jerusalem. But, I
began to become doubtful of that traditional view of the temple placement after
Dr. Paul Feinberg alerted me to the revolutionary work of the late
archaeologist and author, Dr. Ernest L. Martin. This research effort would not
have been possible without his groundbreaking insights.
However, I hope that my own personal research presented herein offers a bold
new chapter in this potentially history-adjusting subject.
Jesus warned His disciples of the coming destruction of the temple and that not
one stone of the temple would be left on top of another. Matthew 24:1-2 says, “Then
Jesus went out and departed from the temple, and His disciples came up to show
Him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said to them, ‘Do you not see all
these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon
another, that shall not be thrown down’.” Christ’s words clearly state that the
entire temple, each and every stone, will be dug up, dislodged, and tossed
away. It is interesting to note that there are massive stone blocks by the
thousands set in the wall supporting the Temple Mount platform. Was Jesus wrong
in His prophesying that not one stone would remain standing?
When you look carefully at the Bible verse, “not one stone upon another,” we
find that Jesus was actually gone from the temple when He spoke those words.
Jesus was walking away when His disciples came up to Him and called His
attention to the temple buildings. The verse continues with Christ asking, “Do
you not see all these things?”
What Jesus is mentioning is the whole of the temple, being seen from a distance
of some unknown calibration, but most assuredly down the road some from the
temple complex. It was from this space of separation that Christ says that every
stone of the temple would be thrown down. He would have been describing the
walls, ancillary buildings, and all.
Historian Flavius Josephus wrote that the entirety of the temple was indeed in
total ruin and destruction after 70 AD. He went on to say that if he had not
personally been in Jerusalem during the war and witnessed the demolition by
Titus of the temple that took place there, he wouldn’t have believed it ever
existed. In Josephus (Jewish Wars, VII, 1.1) it speaks of widespread
destruction in all Jerusalem as well. Archaeology and eye-witness evidence
suggests that Jerusalem was destroyed so severely that not much of it was left.
However, the foundation walls of what we call today the traditional Temple
Mount would not, in all likelihood, be included in the manifest of any
destroyed edifices because it was Roman-owned and would be considered separate
from Jerusalem by Josephus.
[I] found that Jews at the Wailing Wall, when interviewed, said that the huge
high walls of stones standing there today gives testimony that Jesus was
flat-wrong and that His proclamation that not one Stone of the Temple will
remain standing disqualifies Christ as a being completely truthful.
I however feel that those high stone walls there today are remnants from a former
Roman fort occupied by the mighty Tenth Legion (Legio X Fretensis). I also
believe that the true site of Solomon’s temple is about a thousand feet South
of the temple mount in the City of David. This would mean that Jesus was
correct in His prophetic words and that each and every stone, to the very last
was one, was cast down.
WHERE WAS THE TEMPLE?
The garrison of Fort Antonia in Jerusalem was as big as several cities
according to Josephus housing approximately 6,000 men plus the needed support
staff. All told, as many as 10,000 personnel that serves served there. But this
huge fort has [n]ever been found in Jerusalem by Archaeologists. I feel that
archaeologists have not found the mighty Roman fort is because it is the huge
temple mount complex and that tradition has concealed it from historical
A FOURTH CENTURY EYE WITNESS
In 333 AD, the Pilgrim of Bordeaux wrote that while looking east from the
Church of the Holy Sepulcher, he saw stone walls with foundations going down to
the Tyropoean Valley. Keep in mind that the pilgrim was looking due east and
was staring directly at the traditional Temple Mount area. He said absolutely
nothing about it being the temple site, but rather he describes the stone walls
as the Roman praetorium. This means that the walls would have survived the
Roman/Jewish war of 66-70, because they were property of the Roman fort itself.
The praetorium there, according to the pilgrim, was the place where Jesus was
sentenced to death. So, in effect, if we are to believe the Pilgrim of
Bordeaux, the dome over the Dome of the Rock, which is a Muslim shrine, would
be the very site where Jesus was sentenced to death by Pontius Pilate.
In the sixth century the Piacenza Pilgrim wrote of an oblong stone at the Roman
praetorium as well, and described this rock as the place that Pilate heard the
case of Christ.
EVIDENCE FROM THE MASADA COMMANDER
One of the dramatic events that Josephus describes in his work is the plight of
the fleeing rebel Jews who went to the fortress in Masada. Eleazar Bin Jari
(commander of the Jewish rebels at Masada) in 73 AD encouraged those in the
high mountain fortress that suicide was the only answer rather than
surrendering. This same Eleazar memorialized the following about the
destruction in Jerusalem: “It [Jerusalem] 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.” Eleazar was documenting that Jerusalem was eradicated with nothing
standing, except the Roman camp called the Antonia Garrison Fort with its high
stone walls still standing. It can be surmised that years later, when the Roman
fort was mostly still standing and subsequent conquerors came to the place of
those high stone block walls, they must have believed that the magnificent
fortress had to be something of major importance. To some, it had to be the
site of Solomon’s temple
THE TWO BRIDGES
Josephus wrote that the distance between the temple and the Roman fort was
exactly one stade (approximately 600 feet). Josephus recorded that King Herod
built two side-by-side bridges (Jewish Wars, VI.2,6, and II.15,6) connecting
the gap between the temple and the Roman fort (refer to Cornfeld translation as
well as The Temples That Jerusalem Forgot, p.413).
The fort was there to protect the temple by the Romans and also allow them to
keep a watch over the often insubordinate and rebellious Jews. These two
side-by-side colonnades must have looked like two modern raised narrow freeways
(or as “limbs” as Josephus describes them) that spanned the 600-foot gap
between the temple and fort.
According to Ernest Martin, Fort Antonia was located on the north side of the
temple (City of David location). If, in fact, the temple was positioned in the
old City of David then it would fit perfectly with the two colonnades’
separation that Josephus describes as linking Fort Antonia at its southwest
angle. That would put the whole of the temple’s northern wall as being parallel
to the southern wall of Fort Antonia with a gap of approximately 600 feet
distance (north to south) between the two.
CITY OF DAVID
Three thousand years ago, the City of David was about 12 acres in size and had
an estimated population of only around 2,000 people. It is a finger of land
just south of the present traditional Temple Mount. As a former policeman, I
would like at this point to lay out a linear case for the City of David as the
one and only place for the temple, but first a brief history.
The Jebusite fortification was a fortress, albeit a small one, but it had what
David wanted. It was strategically situated, had a high walled castle-looking
complex rising majestically from the Kidron Valley. A spring flowed abundantly
inside with clear pure water which made it even more desirable.
The Bible tells us that while David and his army were outside looking up at the Jebusite stronghold, there, standing defiant on the top of the walls were men hollering down mockingly.
Second Samuel 5:6-10 describes it this way: “You shall not come in here; but the blind and the lame will repel you,” thinking, “David cannot come in here.” Nevertheless David took the stronghold of Zion (that is, the City of David). Now David said on that day, “Whoever climbs up by way of the water shaft and defeats the Jebusites (the lame and the blind, who are hated by David’s soul), he shall be chief and captain. “Therefore they say, “The blind and the lame shall not come into the house.” Then David dwelt in the stronghold, and called it the City of David.
David took control of what the Bible calls the Stronghold of Zion (Metsudat
Tsion), that is, the City of David. These last two locales (Stronghold of Zion
and the City of David) are the huge keys to solving the riddle as to where the
true temple is located. But to keep on a straight path regarding the true
temple site, let’s go back to David capturing the City of David from the
Jebusites. After he was in his newly taken fortress, David was visited by an
angel of the Lord that pointed out the desired patch of real estate within the
city walls that David was to purchase from Araunah (Ornan) the Jebusite (2
Samuel 24:18-25). This land purchase was for a threshing floor—usually
comprised of a level area paved with flat stones where grain is tossed in the
air and the wind carries away the lighter chaff (worthless husks of broken
straw) and leaves the heavier kernel of wheat to fall on the threshing floor.
It is interesting that David had captured the 12-acre fortress by force, yet
God was now ordering David to pay money to the Jebusite owner for a threshing
floor. But this comment in Scripture is a huge clue for the temple location. In
2 Chronicles 3:1 we read: “Now Solomon began to build the temple at the house
of the Lord at Jerusalem…at the place that David had prepared on the threshing
floor of Ornan the Jebusite.” This verse conclusively says that the temple will
be built in the strict boundary of the City of David at the place of the
threshing floor bought from the Jebusite. That can only be in the City of David
and this makes it impossible for the Temples to have been on the Temple mount.
A CITY LOST
Over time, the temple was built by Solomon in the City of David, but it was
destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BC, only to have other successive temples
rebuilt in far less grandeur …. Author Ahron Horovitz says, “The City of David
was so completely forgotten that during the Byzantine Period even Jerusalem’s
biblical name “Zion”’ shifted to the southern portion of the “Western Hill”
which is called Mount Zion to this day. The Byzantine “Church of Holy Zion”
(Hagia Zion), built in 390 C.E. reinforced the mistake.”
Since the temple was reduced to rubble in 70 AD, the City of David was then
lost to weeds and abandonment. As time passed, no one knew where it really was.
And since the Stronghold of Zion was in the City of David, Zion had vanished as
well. The City of David was gone; its walls were no more—and the huge clue for
the temple being located by the threshing floor was erased from history as
well. And when something has vanished that held such huge importance, people
will stick a flag of indelible proclamation in the ground and make said
declaration purely out of need. When you go to the Holy City today, road signs
will point to the upper city and the signs read “Zion,” with an arrow pointing
away from the real, original location of Zion in the City of David.
For almost two millennia, Zion and the City of David laid silently together, buried in a forgotten tomb of earth. In time, it would be a windswept field known only to the farmer’s plow or a place to dump trash. Zion was forgotten, that is, until explorers came to Jerusalem with a pick in one hand and a Bible in the other. These explorers found the forgotten city with its ancient gurgling Gihon Spring. This hidden subterranean world would cry out that the City of David has been found and Zion was once more known.
When the City of David was missing
people in the middle ages looked to the most attractive feature in Jerusalem as
a potential candidate site for their lost temple. The scant few Jews living in
Jerusalem then, along with the influx of Christian pilgrims and crusaders,
began suggesting that the impressive high-walled fortress of the Dome of the
Rock was the actual foundation stones of Solomon’s temple. After all, it was
the most impressive structure that was still standing in Jerusalem, so some
assumed it must have certain historical prominence—and that prominence was
considered to be the temple itself.
Around 1169 Benjamin Tudela proclaimed emphatically that Muslim Haram al-
Sharif, The Roman Fort Antonia, and the traditional Temple Mount platform was
to be forevermore known as the proper placement of Solomon’s temple. Tudela
made this pronouncement with such surety and vigor that it was dogmatically
adopted and is fervently accepted as uncontested fact to this day.
Eusebius, from the third and fourth century was curator of the Library at
Caesarea. He was a renowned scholar both then and today. He wrote, “The hill
called Zion and Jerusalem, the building there, that is to say, the temple, the
Holy of Holies, the Altar, and whatever else was there dedicated to the glory
of God have been utterly removed or shaken, in fulfillment of the word.” He
further notes only a few lines later that sadly, after the ruin of Zion (City
of David), the very stones from “the temple itself and from its ancient
sanctuary were scavenged from the temple site in Zion and used for the
construction of “idol temples and of theatres for the populous.”
Ancient Hecateus of Abdera also testified that the temple was not only in Zion,
but located “nearly in the very center of the City of David.”
WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY?
First Kings 1:38-39: “So Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet, Benaiah the son
of Jehoiada, the Cherethites and the Pelethites went down and had Solomon ride
on King David’s mule and took him to Gihon. Then Zadok, the priest took a horn
of oil from the tabernacle and anointed Solomon....” The Bible is actually
saying here that Solomon was taken to the Gihon Spring and at that very spot
the priest enters the tabernacle that held the Ark of the Covenant and gets oil
to anoint the newly crowned king.” The tabernacle with the ark in its hold was
at Gihon Spring in the City of David at Zion. This event happened at the same
Gihon Spring where David set the tent tabernacle most assuradly in very close
proximity to the threshing floor area.
Aristeas, a visitor from Egypt who recorded a description of the temple and Jerusalem about fifty years after Alexander the Great. He was memorialized by Eusebius, who quoted him as observing, “There is an inexhaustible reservoir of water, as would be expected from an abundant spring gushing up naturally from within the [temple]”. This prodigious water that was seen by Aristeas in the temple was witnessed long before the two aqueducts were built in the time of the Hasmoneans (the Maccabees) as well as Pilate, to channel water to Jerusalem from the south of Bethlehem.
Tacitus, the Roman historian, 400 years after Aristeas and recorded that the temple at Jerusalem had a natural spring of water that welled from its interior. Again, these references could only be describing the Gihon Spring. It is located close to what is referred to as the Ophel, which is a bulge of the earth abutting the City of David (Zion) laying just to the south, and roughly about 1,000 feet, from the Temple Mount. There is no other such spring(s) anywhere else in Jerusalem. However, there is a place called the En-Rogel which is situated about a third of a mile southeast of the City of David, but this is not a spring at all, rather a well. The spring connection, especially a robust gushing spring, seems to be like a laser pointer aimed at the City of David and not at the Temple Mount as the temple site.
Another fascinating verse that
makes it irrefutable that a spring/fountain needs to be a fundamental component
of the temple location: “A fountain shall flow from the house of the Lord...”
(Joel 3:18). Can it be any clearer that a water source (spring/fountain) flows
from the House of the Lord (temple) which held the Ark of the Covenant? This
verse is more solidly dogmatic in its pronouncements because it says
unequivocally that a spring flows from the temple. The temple would logically
need a prodigious amount of water (Gihon Spring) for cleaning up after all the
animal blood sacrifices. Gihon Spring is the only spot that has enough water
for the temple sacrifices in all of Jerusalem. It appears that the Roman
garrison could not obtain water from this spring because it was holy water for
temple usage. If the Romans even tried to take one drop, it would result in
violent rioting, so they were forced to bring water from south of Bethlehem, as
they did via aqueducts that fed the many underground cisterns storage at the
There is yet another verse containing Zion in connection with a spring and the
ark as well. The psalmist wrote, “And of Zion it will be said… Both the singers
and the players on instruments say, ‘All my springs are within you.’” (Psalm
87:5,7). This verse has the words singers and players on instruments which is
associated in the Bible with a processional carrying the ark (Psalm 68). The
words springs are within you would be consistent with the Gihon Spring as well
as the word Zion, which is connected with both the temple and the City of
Ezekiel 47:1-2 speaks of a spring as well… “Then he brought me back to the door
of the temple; and there was water, flowing from under the threshold of the
temple faced east; the water was flowing from under the right side of the
temple, south of the alter. He brought me out by way of the north gate, and led
me around on the outside to the outer gateway that faces east; and there was
water running out on the right side.”
Hebrew writings, cited in a book by Zev Vilnay, also mention the Gihon Spring
area as the place for the future temple. “…At that time a great stream shall
flow forth from the Holy Temple and its name is Gihon.” His book refers to
Jewish writings that specifically declare that the Gihon Spring was where the
high priest immersed in the spring’s water. The special place was called the Bath
of Ishmael and it was used for purification by the high priest on the Day of
THE CLEANSING STREAM
It has been said that High Priest Rabbi Yishmael from the second temple period
used the Gihon as a ritual bath for purification prior to entering the temple:
“Near there is a cave. People go down to it by stairs. It is full of pure
water, and there is a tradition that it is the ritual bath of Rabbi Yshmael the
High Priest.” (as quoted in the name of Rabbi Moshe, in: Moshe Ben Menachem
Mendl Reicher, Sharrei Yerushalayim Shar`ar 8.33). It is interesting that a
second temple period arch has been found above a stone staircase descending to
the Gihon Spring, giving evidence that the spring was in service at the time of
Herod’s temple. It was surmised in the book, The City of David, written by
Ahron Horovitz (p. 213), that the spring served as an entranceway to those
coming to purify themselves at the time of the second temple era. If this were
the case, then a huge question begs asking: if priests and people purified
themselves at the Gihon Spring prior to entering the temple, why would they
then walk almost a quarter mile to the traditional Temple Mount area? That trek
of distance and likely human/animal interaction would make them unclean and unworthy
to enter any temple precincts. It would be like a doctor scrubbing up for
surgery and then walking a quarter of a mile on dusty streets as well as coming
in contact with unwashed contaminants along the way. Doctors would not do this
and priests, in their holy duties at the temple, would not be purified in the
waters of the Gihon only to later comingle with potential sullying elements.
Even as far back as Moses and the time of the tabernacle, spring water was essential in the purification ceremony for priests. Josephus writes in Jewish Antiquities (Book 3,8.6), “Moses had sprinkled Aaron’s vestments, himself, and his sons, with the blood of the beasts that were killed, and had purified them with spring water and ointment, they became God’s priests.” Spring water (moving pure water) and ointments (olive oil) were absolute essential needs for purification rituals. The only running water in the desert that was available to Moses was the water from the split rock—and the only spring water available in Jerusalem was the Gihon Spring, which was in the City of David, within the stone wall boundaries of the stronghold of Zion.
THE ARREST OF PAUL
In writing one of my previous books, The Lost Shipwreck of Paul, I spent years
researching this amazing man. In Acts 21, he is the focus of the story once
again: Paul entered the temple in Jerusalem after having publicly fraternized
with his “unclean Gentile friends.” Upon hearing that Paul had walked into this
sacred compound with his filthy friends in tow, the local people quickly formed
a mob and descended on the temple complex. Once inside, the irate throng
grabbed Paul and dragged him out of the gate, beating him with the intent to
kill. As news of the angry rioters reached the Roman commander in the garrison,
the officer rushed with a company of soldiers to take control of the situation.
At that point, something took place
that really grabbed my attention. I read in Acts 21:32. The Roman commander ...
“immediately took soldiers and centurions, and ran down to them.” …. This verse
tells us that the Roman soldiers went down to get Paul.
This should raise a significant red flag for anyone believing in the Temple
Mount because it is a high-walled fortress-looking edifice. You can only go
down from there. If The Temple Mount was the place of Paul’s riot scene, then
the big question is where would someone go down from to reach Paul. There would
have to be a fort floating somewhere in the clouds to match the biblical
account. And it is even more interesting later in verse 35, where it reads that
when Paul reached the stairs he had to be carried up by the soldiers. So,
according to the Bible, we have to have stairs descending from the Roman
garrison to the lower temple gates and then they had to carry Paul going back
up into the Roman garrison (traditional Temple Mount platform). This can only
apply if the temple, for instance, is in the old City of David in the area of
the Gihon Spring.
A TRADITION BORN
Roman Emperor Hadrian (117-138 AD) rebuilt the destroyed city of Jerusalem,
renamed it Aelia Capitolina, and kept Jews from entering. From the time of the
Roman Emperor Julian the Apostate (middle of the fourth century) until the
Arabs conquered Jerusalem in 638 AD, the Temple Mount had remained an abandoned
garbage dump. The Crusaders later seized the Holy City in 1099 and placed a
huge gilt cross on the famed Muslim Dome and called it “Templum Domini “(The
Lord’s Temple). Because of this, a tradition was born!
TIME IS CRUEL TO TRUTH
In the twelfth century, the Muslims took the Dome of the Rock back and drove
out the Christians. They put the crescent symbol of Islam back atop the Dome
where it still sits today. The message all of this sends is that there have
been huge spans of centuries where Romans kicked out Jews and Christians from
the land, as well as Muslims enacting quarantine on Jews and Christians. During
those long periods of conquest, the Temple Mount, as well as the City of David,
were often lonely, forsaken places that knew only the stench of decaying trash
or the sound of wind sifting through bent weeds.
[End of quote]
Herod did not build the ‘Wailing Wall’
“[In] Jerusalem I met with Eli Shukron a famed archaeologist. He … told me … the Western Wailing wall believed by every scholar to have been built … by Herod the Great … Herod did not build the wall at all. He told me that he found a coin dated to 20 AD beneath a huge stone block under the very lowest layer of foundation stones.”
Continuing with the latter part of Bob Cornuke’s article, we encounter further controversies (http://www.baseinstitute.org/pages/temple/22):