We are going to look at the fourth theory called the “Dome of the Rock Theory” and look at some evidence as to why we believe this is the correct site for the Temple. At the southwest corner of the Temple there was an arch. This arch is called “Robinson’s Arch.” It is named after Edward Robinson, a biblical scholar, who identified its remains in 1838. There have been artist’s conceptions of what this arch looked like who worked in conjunction with archaeologists. Major excavations have been done there and this arch was the largest overpass in the world at the time. You ascended up into the southern area of the complex into the Royal Stoa.
After the war with the Jews was over, this overpass was destroyed by the Romans by using slaves who dislodged the stones and then fell 20 stories to their deaths. At the top of the southwest corner, there was a place that Josephus described where the priests blew silver trumpets to announce the beginning of the Sabbath or a festival to the city and the surrounding area. Pieces of this arch can still be seen today. At the bottom of this arch there was a pit or a shaft that was dug by Charles Warren of the Palestinian Exploration Fund (PEF). He did this to get to the foundation. The southwest corner was the “place of trumpeting” for these silver trumpets. Josephus, Wars of the Jews, Book 4, Chapter 9, Paragraph 12 says, “and having erected four very large towers aforehand, that their darts might come from higher places, one at the northeast corner of the court, and above the Xystus, the third at another corner over against the lower city, and the last was erected above the top of the Pastphoria, where one of the priests stood of course, and gave a signal beforehand, with a trumpet, at the beginning of every seventh day, in the evening twilight, as also at the evening, when the day was finished, as giving notice to the people when they were to leave off work, and when they were to go to work again.”
In the Mishnah, Sukkah 5.5 it says, “On the eve of the Sabbath they used to blow six more blasts, three to cause the people to cease from work and three more to mark the break between the sacred and the profane.” This was the number one job of the priests, based on Ezek 44.23 where it says, “Moreover they shall teach my people the difference between the holy (kedusha) and the common.” In Hebrew it is “L’ha madvil bein ha kodesh l’chol.”
When they cleared away the debris they found a stone that said “L’Beit Tekiah” or “House of Trumpeting.” There was more to the inscription but the rest was broken off. This was found at the southwest corner. You could fill in what was broken off with “L’ha madvil bein ha kodesh l’chol” meaning “to discern between the holy and the common.” So, this trumpeting stone said, “L’beit tekiah l’ha madvil bein ha kodesh l’chol” or “The house of trumpeting to discern between the holy and the common.” This stone was cut in half by Charles Warren when he was cutting the shaft to get to the foundation. The other half has never been found. But, extensive research has been done on this stone and they know what the rest of it said, based on Ezek 44.23, the Mishnah and Josephus. They found it at the southwestern corner of the Temple Mount, right under the spot where the trumpets were blown. When we know the precise location of things, we can know the location of the Temple. This find alone invalidates the other theories about the location of the Temple. Nobody brought this up from the Gihon Spring (Ernest Martin Theory) to this location. When this arch fell (Robinson’s) it pushed the road beneath it down to make a huge indentation.
There are cisterns on the Temple Mount. A cistern was found in the northeast corner of the Moslem platform (cistern 27). It had steps going down to the cistern and it was a winding stairway. But why would you have a stairway down to a cistern? Inside the cistern there were steps. Why? Because it was a mikvah (an immersion bath). Mishnah Negaim 14.8 says, “And the leper had immersed himself in the Chamber of the Lepers, and he came and stood at the Nicanor Gate (the north wicket).” So, in other words, there was a chamber in the northwest, outside of the Ezrat ha Nashim, or Court of the Women. This chamber is called the Lishkat ha Metzorim, or Chamber of the Lepers. It says there was a mikvah below that chamber, and that would mean there would be stairs going down to it. It is the only mikvah that has been discovered in that area.
We know that there were chambers in the Court of the Women. The question was, were they on the outside or inside of the court. The area inside the court was 135 cubits (232.5 feet) x 135 cubits (232.5 feet). When this mikvah was discovered, it answered the question of whether the chambers were on the outside or inside the Court of the Women. Using similar symmetrical points, we can pinpoint where things were, and then where buildings and chambers were. In other words, if “A” was under a certain building, and you found “A” then you can place the building. This tells us where something was. When we find that something is located exactly where it was stated to be, we can build off of that information, and then move on to the next site. Under the Lishkat Ha Metzorim, we know there was a mikvah. It is believed that the mikvah found is the mikvah used by the lepers in the Temple ceremony. It should be at a lower position than the Azarah level because it is in the Court of the Women (7.5 cubits, or about 13 feet, lower than the Azarah).
In the northeast corner of the Azarah there was a building called the Lishkat Ha Nitzotz, or Chamber of the Fire/Spark. It had a chamber in there called the “washing chamber” where they washed hides. The Arabs call the cistern below this area “Bir Es Suwaneh” or “well/cistern of the fire-rock.” So, the Arabs actually kept the name of the building that was there in the Temple in their name for the cistern. As a result, we are able to tell about certain functions, chambers, cisterns, mikva’ot, where the Azarah began and where the Court of the Women was because of certain things they have found (similar symmetrical points). As a result, we know that the Chamber of Lepers in the Court of the Women was on the outside because the mikvah is on the outside, but flush, with the court. This is how we know the proper location of Temple, as opposed to all the other theories, and how everything functioned. In our Temple 201 series, we have been just laying the foundation for deeper study. We are only in “elementary” school right now, but at a later time we will move up to higher level, but first things first.
Josephus describes to us that worshipers came into the Temple from the south and they came through what was called the Huldah passageway. Huldah was a prophetess mentioned in the Scriptures during the time of Isaiah, and she prophesied in this area. The Huldah passageway are called “The Beautiful Gate” in Acts 3.2 because these passageways were very ornate. Coming from the south you would have mikva’ot and many of these have been discovered. These mikva’ot were the ones used in Acts 2.41 and there were restrooms discovered in the 1860’s and 1870’s. When you get past there, you come up into the Court of the Gentiles, and there were three buildings there. One was a restroom and the two buildings were mikva’ot for men and women, and then you came to the Soreg. Once you pass through the Soreg, you would come to a stairway, called the “monumental stairway” because the length was so long (the court was long). Once you go up the stairs, there is a 10 cubit wide (17.2 feet) landing called the Chel (this word is related to the word “chol” which means “common or intermediate”). From there you went into the corner buildings.
In Part 3, we will pick up here as we continue to study the correct location of the Temple. We will begin by talking about how the Chel and how it was discovered through a photograph taken in the 1870’s by the PEF, and how this information came to light over a hundred years later. This discovery is very important because if you can find the Chel, you can pinpoint other buildings and place them right where they were anciently, and we will see how all this will play out, along with other discoveries that have been made. Putting it all together gives us the exact location of the Temple and the surrounding buildings and courts because they all fit in perfectly, almost down to inches.