Thursday, July 29, 2010

Siting the Temple in Jerusalem

The following was sent to as a comment.

Is it true that the Temple cannot be placed on ground that was used for a pagan high place or for pagan sacrifices?

If that is the case, there is an outstanding allegation made by architect Tuvia Sagiv that the site of the Dome of the Rock is a former pagan high place, and in addition to this it's known that the Al Aqsa mosque was built over the Roman Temple of Jupiter. Sagiv's study of the geology of the area suggests that locating any remnant of either the First or Second Temples at the Dome or anywhere north of it would be very unlikely because the bedrock itself breaks through to the surface inside the Dome edifice. Historically, he argues that the wall surrounding the Temple grounds had to be raised to stop a nosy evil king from peering from his palace into the grounds; the sightlines required to substantiate this would have been broken by siting the Temple at the Dome or north of it, regardless of the height of the wall. In the southern location in the garden between the Dome and Al Aqsa, a low wall allows a sightline from that former ancient palace into the area, and a high wall prevents it, according to Sagiv.

So he suggests the likelihood of the Temple having been located in the garden of Al-Kas midway between the Dome of the Rock and Al Aqsa. Now, when I looked at the aerial photo and mapped diagram you have on the Bird's Eye Guide, I noticed a strikingly similar outline of a rectangular area in the garden, to the southwest of the Bird's Eye Temple diagram, matching the outline of the Temple, Inner Court and Women's Court, and it looks like it would fit very neatly right between the two Muslim structures. This also puts the Holy of Holies much closer to the Western Wall, where it would lie on the other side just to the northeast.

Sagiv himself suggests the Fountain of Al-Kas is centered right about where the Holy of Holies once stood, but I think that if it were located there, it would make it more difficult to ensure access to a clean water supply for the whole Temple; only the high priest would have been able to get to it, and how would it get channeled to the laver of cleansing in the inner court? I think it's more likely that it was on the south side of the inner court where regular priests could get the water to the laver and the altar. The Holy of Holies from what I understand received the blood tokens of sacrifice, so it would have been unsuitable to have the spring feed right under it because of sanitation issues. (Think about where the well of a house usually is. Not under the kitchen or bathroom! Near an outside wall or outside of the house entirely.)

However, it seems to me that the broad points of Sagiv's hypothesis would solve some vexing problems, most notably with having to demolish all or parts of the Dome mosque and with siting the Temple on any former pagan temple or worship site. I was also impressed by his scientific evidence of massive foundations right underneath the garden, as shown in nocturnal infrared imagery of the site. You can view a synopsis of his theory included with the other two major theories of siting in the following link:

And another analysis here:

So with qualifications, that's my two cents... what do you think?

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