This is one of the most controversial subjects today, not only in the religious world but the secular world. There are several theories out there, but we are only going to look at the main ones. We will have the Asher Kaufman Theory, also known as the “Northern Theory.” This has the Kodesh Ha Kodeshim over what is called the “Dome of the Spirits.” The flaw in this theory is the “fosse” or moat just to the north of the Moslem platform. The northern wall of the Temple would have been in the fosse and this fosse dates back to the First Temple Period, and for sure the Hasmonean period.
Then we have the Tuvia Sagiv theory, which is also known as the “Southern Theory.” This has the Kodesh Ha Kodeshim sitting over the AL-Kos Fountain. The problem with this theory is that the area immediately south of the Al-Kos Fountain was not there until the Hasmonean period (the Maccabee’s) expansion, and then later, the Herodian expansion.
Then we have the Ernest Martin Theory, also known as the “Gihon Spring Theory.” This theory is currently being taught on Christian television, in books and churches in 2016. The author Bob Cornuke has a book promoting this theory. Extensive excavations have been conducted in this exact area with no evidence of a Temple having ever been there. Josephus recorded deep foundation trenches, but there aren’t any here. Many remains from the Jebusite and First Temple time period buildings have been found, but nothing that relates to the Temple. The size of the Temple in this location would have to be much smaller, making the size of the cubit used in the Temple impossible. The Martin Theory places the Temple complex south of the rectangular walls seen today on the Temple Mount.
Finally we have the Dome of the Rock theory. This places the Kodesh ha Kodeshim over the Dome of the Rock. We believe that this is the correct location and we will present enough evidence in this study to alleviate any doubt about the matter. There are many influential people who believe in some of these theories, but in this study we will be able to show there is no question where the Temple was located. The concept of “kedusha” will play a huge role in all of this. These are the four main theories and we will begin to look at each one.
Let’s look into the Asher Kaufman Theory in more detail. There is a small little dome structure just north of the Dome of the Rock called the “Dome of the Spirits.” This theory says that the Kodesh Ha Kodeshim was over this little dome. Support for this theory says that the Eastern Gate is walled up, and it is in direct line with the Dome of the Spirits. Many articles and books have been written on this theory. The problem is there is a dry moat north of this that has been there well before Yeshua, and for sure hundreds of years before Yeshua. There are two references to this moat. Josephus says that the Romans filled in this moat, or “fosse” with Pompey, an associate of Julius Caesar. A Greek geographer named Strabo wrote about the Temple and this moat that was filled in.
In the 1870’s, there was a group of Royal engineers from England that did a study. This organization was called the Palestinian (what Israel was called then) Exploration Fund. A man named Charles Warren discovered this moat again, and the boundaries, and measured it so we know where this moat is today. Archaeologist Dan Bahat said that the northern wall of Kaufman’s Temple would be in the moat, so it doesn’t work. Since then, it has been discovered that the eastern Gate, or Golden Gate, that is walled up does not date back to the Temple period. It sits over an older gate called the Shaar Ha Miphkod gate (The Inspection Gate) mentioned in the book of Nehemiah.
Now, we know there were four gates on the east side. The most northern gate was the Inspection Gate (Shaar Ha Miphkod), then moving south we have the Shushan Gate (Shaar Ha Shushan), the Horse Gate (Shaar Ha Susim) and finally, at the eastern end, there was a gate put there by Herod but the name is unknown. So, that is the Northern Theory and archaeology does not support it.
Next, we are going to discuss the Tuvia Sagiv Theory, or “Southern Theory.” Sagiv is from Tel Aviv and his theory says that the Kodesh Ha Kodeshim sat over the Al-Kos Fountain. The Al-Kos Fountain is between the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Moslem platform. The Moslems wash their hands and feet there, and it is believed that this fountain sits over the fountain that was used in the First Century Temple for people to wash their hands and feet if they had an impurity. The problem with this theory is that the Temple Mount was added on to by the Hasmoneans, and then that extension was added on to by Herod to the south. There simply would not have been room for the First Temple according to this theory because there was nothing there. Wherever the Temple was, it has to be in the same location as before when it is rebuilt, unless the Lord says otherwise. The southern wall of Sagiv’s Temple is in an area that was just not there. It would be impossible because there was no ground there.
The Ernest Martin Theory is popular in Christian circles as of 2016 and this theory has been proposed on Christian television and on the Internet. He has a book called, “The Temple That Jerusalem Forgot” and in it Martin says that the “Temple Mount” is not where the Temple was, but it was down at the Gihon Spring. He says that the rectangular wall on the Temple Mount that is seen today and known as the Temple Mount was really the site of the Roman fortress Antonia. He bases this on several things.
Water is a key element of the Temple and how the Temple operated. Martin says the source of water for the Temple was the Gihon Spring. Solomon had his coronation there and the Ark of the Covenant was in a tent there until the Temple was completed by Solomon. So, it is a very important place in Jerusalem and about a half mile south of what we call the Temple Mount. In addition, we have the passage in Matt 24.1-2 that says not one stone will be left upon another, but all would be thrown down. Martin says because there are many stones in the visible retaining wall we see today, that could not be the place of the Temple, based on Matt 24. So, let’s look at his reasoning from a Scriptural viewpoint. Luke 19.37-44 records that Yeshua is talking about the city of Jerusalem. He was approaching Jerusalem, near the descent of the Mount of Olives. He saw the city and wept over it and says enemies will come and level the city to the ground (v 41-44). In contrast, the passage in Matt 24 is talking about the Temple. Now, you can go to many buildings that are still intact, with walls, in Jerusalem from the time of the Roman destruction. Some are underground, plus there are whole neighborhoods of houses (The Burnt House, The Peristyle Building and the Palatial Mansion for instance).
Here is the point. Are these verses wrong? No, but to take it so literally that “no stone will be left upon another” is not the correct interpretation. We have many examples where stones were left upon other stones. This verse is an idiom for “total destruction.” We have stones upon stones on the Temple Mount that are underground, and some are above ground, like the walls on the Temple Mount. Some of these stones have “disappeared” over the years but there are pictures of them dating back to the 1870’s by the Palestinian Exploration Fund. Martin’s theory rests upon the assumption that “all stones” were leveled, when in fact they really weren’t. All three of the above theories can be ruled out as the site of the Temple, which leaves us with the fourth theory.
In Part 2, we will begin to present the case that the true site of the Temple is indeed over the The Dome of the Rock.