A Critique by
Dr. Leen Ritmeyer
Rebuttal by Dr. Martin
A Critique by Dr. Leen Ritmeyer and a Rebuttal to Ritmeyer by Dr. Ernest L. Martin Concerning the New Research of Ernest L. Martin regarding the true site of the Temple in Jerusalem.
No one is better qualified from a professional sense to critique Dr. Martin’s research on the location of the Temples in Jerusalem than Dr. Leen Ritmeyer. Not only did he work closely with Professor Benjamin Mazar and was the official architect of the archaeological excavation at Jerusalem from 1973 until its closure, but he is now considered by most scholars in the world as the chief authority on the location of the Temple Mount. He teaches in the archaeology department of the University of Leeds in England and is a highly respected lecturer on Temple Mount studies in some of the most prestigious academic institutions and organizations. He could rightfully be called one of the top representatives of the traditional school of Temple experts that place the Temple within the confines of the Haram esh-Sharif (that all scholars have accepted as true, and this also including me until I started to look extensively into the subject in 1995). Until the appearance of my research study, all mainline scholars, historians and archaeologists (and this includes all Rabbis, all Christian priests and preachers and Muslim authorities) accepted without the slightest controversy (and with some expressing a reverence approaching divine inspiration) that the former Temples in Jerusalem were all located in the area of the Haram esh-Sharif.
What I show in my research is that the whole world (for the past 600 years) has been wrong and that the world needs to accept the truth of the documentary and biblical evidences that I give in my book and abridgments so that the truth will finally prevail in this most important issue. It can properly be stated that Dr. Ritmeyer could legitimately be considered a proper and qualified spokesman for all the traditionalists throughout the world who insist that the Temples were located within the precincts of the Haram esh-Sharif. As for me and my research, I am the lone anti-traditionalist who has brought forth the research to prove dogmatically that the world is thoroughly and totally wrong.
On the Web Page of Dr. Leen Ritmeyer is his critique of Dr. Martin’s book "The Temples that Jerusalem Forgot" and his abridgment found on the ASK Web Page. The critique of Dr. Ritmeyer (produced below) can be read in full at his Web Page at http://www.templemountonline.com . In this rebuttal, Dr. Martin first gives a section of Dr. Ritmeyer’s critique and then comments on that portion. He then follows the archaeologist/architect with every word stated by Dr. Ritmeyer followed by a response from Dr. Martin. The first words of Dr. Ritmeyer are given in the paragraph below, and continue to the end of his critique.
"In the last few issues of Biblical Archaeology Review (BAR) an advertisement appeared under the heading "Who moved the Temple" advertising a book called "The Temples that Jerusalem Forgot" by a certain Ernest Martin. Part of the advertisement is a strange drawing, which shows the Temple outside the Temple Mount. Many people have asked me to comment on this and below you will find my critique of this outrageous idea."
Leen Ritmeyer in his beginning statement says that my descriptive picture of the Temple and Fort Antonia complex which has appeared in BAR for the past two years is "a strange drawing" based on an "outrageous idea." This response is because of Ritmeyer’s ignorance or disbelief at what Josephus (the first century Jewish historian) describes about the Temple and Fort Antonia in his writings recorded in his Antiquities and Wars. Josephus as an eyewitness in 70 A.D. gave an adequate description of how those buildings appeared on the eve of Jerusalem’s destruction by the Romans. All I did was to depict in a drawing what Josephus said about the positions and dimensions of the Temple and Fort Antonia. This drawing that provokes Ritmeyer’s ire is simply a replica of the Temple and Fort Antonia complex as precisely described by Josephus. Let me explain how the drawing came about.
Four years ago I commissioned a professional artist to sit at a table with me and to sketch a picture following the exact words of Josephus in all sections of his literary works in which he described the Temple and Fort Antonia complex. I simply read to the artist what Josephus stated. The artist then began to sketch the architectural descriptions and precise measurements on a drawing board. Josephus made some cogent and profound observations that scholars today avoid believing and they normally consider Josephus as an unreliable observer and recorder. This is because what Josephus describes as the Temple and Fort Antonia does NOT fit any part (or in any way) the Haram esh-Sharif that scholars believe today to be the remains of the Temple. The truth is, Josephus as an eyewitness was describing the Temple in a very different manner than that found in the Haram esh-Sharif that Ritmeyer and other scholars accept today.
Josephus said the Temple of Herod was built high up on a platform that had four walls around it forming a precise square of 600 feet on each side. This description in no way fits the dimensions of the Haram. Josephus said the wall of its southeast corner had its foundations directly in the deepest part of the Kidron Valley (in the streambed itself) and that its height was 300 cubits (450 feet, or about the height of a modern 40 story building). Near the northwest corner Josephus said this external Temple wall was connected to Fort Antonia by two side-by-side colonnade roadways (each 600 feet long). Josephus then said that Fort Antonia itself was built around a notable "Rock" that was viewed as the centerpiece feature of the interior of the Fort (which was also known as the Praetorium). This well-recognized "Rock" in the Praetorium around which Fort Antonia was built was called the lithostrotos in the Gospel of John (19:13) and Christ stood on it when judged by Pilate. Josephus said that Antonia’s size was much larger than the Temple (he described Fort Antonia as the size of a city and it contained a full legion of Roman troops with many open spaces for military exercises and training). Fort Antonia was so large that Josephus said it obscured the whole of the Temple square from the north. These plain and simple descriptions made by Josephus are depicted in the drawing that Ritmeyer dislikes and they are in precise accord with what Josephus (as an eyewitness) states in the clearest of language.
Another eyewitness account was given by Aristeas in 285 B.C. He said the Temple at Jerusalem had within its precincts a natural spring of water, and Tacitus the Roman historian in 100 A.D. also mentioned this inexhaustible spring that was located within the walls of the Temple just before its destruction by the Romans. In my replication in BAR, the professional artist was able to comfortably fit the 600 feet square Temple with its 40 stories high platform as being located over the Gihon Spring (the only spring of water in Jerusalem within a radius of five miles). It was also simple and very logical to show the two colonnade roadways near the northwest angle of the external Temple wall extending a further 600 feet northward to intersect with the southwest corner of Fort Antonia. All geographical features mentioned by Josephus, and incorporating the eyewitness account of Aristeas, and the statement of Tacitus (and by other eyewitness accounts that I have recorded in my book "The Temples that Jerusalem Forgot") fit precisely into place as shown by Josephus. To be sure of the truthfulness of the drawing, the artist reviewed the latest editions of Josephus’ literary works to scrutinize each geographical feature in a precise way. It took a month of fine detailed research to come up with the final drawing. This drawing is accurate. Since that time (four years ago), numerous scholars have painstakingly gone through those geographical details given by Josephus (which I would ask Ritmeyer to do) and they have come to the identical evaluation that is displayed in the drawing in BAR that Ritmeyer finds offensive. In the drawing we are only reproducing what Josephus stated with utmost precision. Ritmeyer knows of these profound differences in all points but dismisses them by stating that Josephus was wrong in what he stated. The truth is, Josephus was describing a different building not even associated in a geographical sense with the area of the Haram esh-Sharif.
This is a sad commentary on the state of archaeological appraisal on these matters. It is time to accept Josephus’s descriptions exactly! I challenge anyone to read what Josephus wrote (along with the other eyewitnesses) and honest scholars will admit that what is shown in the drawing will be vindicated. What irritates Ritmeyer is the fact that this description of Josephus cannot show the Temple to be located inside the Haram esh-Sharif where he wants it to be. The true placement of the Temple (as the historical eyewitnesses state) is over the Gihon Spring that is about 1000 feet south of the Dome of the Rock that was built over the present centerpiece "Rock" of the Haram esh-Sharif. Indeed, if one would simply accept Josephus’ description of the Temple (with his plain and simple measurements) and then position the Temple over the Dome of the Rock where Ritmeyer demands, one would witness a square building 40 stories high with the platform of the Temple higher in elevation than the summit of the Mount of Olives! Ouch! Also, if Josephus’ Temple is placed within the Haram, the southeastern corner wall of the Temple would NOT be in the center of the streambed of the Kidron Valley as Josephus clearly attests it was. It would be on the level part of the ridge and not even near the edge of the Kidron precipice.
In fact, if Josephus’ measurements of the Temple and his basic description of it were accepted by all reasonable people (as they should be), to place the Temple within the Haram esh-Sharif that Ritmeyer insists is proper would make a platform so high that no one from the Mount of Olives could look down into its courts as was an essential part of Temple rituals. On the other hand, let the whole of the Haram to be reckoned as Fort Antonia (which it was), then we still witness Antonia’s four mammoth walls constructed over and around a notable "Rock" outcropping that Josephus said was the outstanding feature around which Fort Antonia was built. Without doubt, the Haram was Fort Antonia.
Consequently, it is NOT my drawing in BAR that is "strange" and "outrageous" as Ritmeyer states, but it would be Ritmeyer’s Temple (using Josephus’ eyewitness measurements) being located inside the Haram esh-Sharif that would be totally outrageous. But strange as it may seem, since the period of the Crusades, it has become common to accept the notable "Rock" around which Josephus said Fort Antonia was built as the site of the Temple of Herod. I have proved, however, in my book and in my abridgment found on the ASK Web Page (http://www.askelm.com/) that this identification is wrong. Its acceptance is based on a concoction of false religious imaginations that stem from ideas and principles promoted in a corrupt period when men utilized a "Dark Age" mentality regarding their conception of what represented their holy places.
"The main thrust behind Ernest Martin's latest idea about the location of the Temple over the Gihon Spring is, according to Michael Germano, to "serve as the awaited stimulus for the building of Jerusalem's Third Temple by shifting our collective focus from the Haram esh-Sharif to the area of the Gihon Spring". Therefore this proposal should be welcomed by groups who are actively engaged in promoting the building of a new Temple in Jerusalem. At first Kaufman's theory was adopted as it opened up the theoretical possibility of building a temple next to the Dome of the Rock and later that of Sagiv, who places the Temple to the south of this Muslim shrine. The Messianic expectations of such groups are so strong that archaeological evidence is of little if no relevance to them. The Palestinians, who claim that a Jewish Temple never existed on the Haram, should be very pleased with this latest proposal."
If the Palestinians and those expecting a new Third Temple are "very pleased" with my research, it is because they have enough sense to recognize the truth of the facts. If Ritmeyer thinks the academics among the Palestinians would be "very pleased" with my suggestions, does he really think they would delight in outright error that Ritmeyer accuses me of promoting? I agree with Ritmeyer in the fact that the Palestinian scholars would be "very pleased" with my work of showing the Temple was NEVER associated with the Haram. This is because they can see that the documentary evidence I provide is first class and highly accurate. But Ritmeyer’s opinion concerning certain Jewish and/or Christian groups who wish to rebuild the Temple is thoroughly wrong. Neither Dr. Germano nor I have said or written that "the main thrust" for my historical and geographical research locating the Temples over the Gihon Spring was to stimulate the building of Jerusalem’s Third Temple. On the contrary, my main intent is to show conclusively that all scholars are wrong (including Ritmeyer) when they maintain that the Temples were situated within the confines of the Haram esh-Sharif. The true site of the Temples was over the Gihon Spring.
True, Dr. Germano did feel my new research (which he considered to be accurate) could provoke a renewed interest in the building of a Third Temple, but nowhere in the Temple research within my book or in my Web Page abridgment have I personally said such a thing as Ritmeyer accuses me of promoting. Ritmeyer uses the age-old method of disparagement by grouping Dr. Germano and me in an ad hominem manner with certain Messianic groups whose religious ideas many scholars hold in disdain. Note how Ritmeyer (without justification) places Dr. Germano and me among those ones whom he claims consider archaeological evidence to be of little or no worth. This unworthy evaluation is pure nonsense. As for me, I hold archaeological evidence to be of extreme importance, and I am assured Dr. Germano does the same.
There is one point that I do insist upon when looking at archaeological evidence. In all circumstances, one must first evaluate the eyewitness historical accounts and let them prevail in all methods of interpretation and use the archaeological evidence in a secondary and corroborative sense. All archaeologists worth their salt understand this principle to be true. And, in regard to locating the Temple in Jerusalem, there is not one bit of identifiable archaeological evidence that suggests the Haram esh-Sharif is the Temple Mount. Oh yes, there is a piece of stone that was discovered near the southwest corner of the Haram that says an elevated spot (apparently above its in situ position) was the place for "blowing the trumpet." To say this refers to the blowing of the Shofar for Temple rituals is pure guessing. In fact, the stone site could equally refer to the place for blowing bugles for denoting time periods and military commands associated with Fort Antonia. Josephus had a whole section in his description of the Roman army on how trumpets and bugles were used extensively in all military operations (just as our modern armies use them). Since Fort Antonia was originally built by Herod for Jewish purposes and Hebrew inscriptions describing military areas in the Fort would be expected.
Listen folks, let us be honest about this matter. There is NOT ONE archaeological item found in or around Jerusalem that denotes without doubt that the Haram is indeed the site of the former Temples. Pure speculation is reigning supreme in this matter. For any archaeologist to say differently is stepping far out of line. It is time that this subjective reasoning of the modern interpreters comes to a halt and that the modern archaeologists return to stating the truth that all the Temples were built over the Gihon Spring as the eyewitness evidence dogmatically states. As I have abundantly pointed out in my book, it is really without doubt that the architectural and geographical evidence supplied to us by Josephus, the Holy Scriptures and other historians shows that the Temple square was located over the Gihon Spring.
[within the Temple], in the midst [center] of thee, O Jerusalem". Martin tries to derive further support from his interpretation of the Book of Revelation, where we are told that those who were thirsty could drink from "the fountain (spring) of water that issued from the New Jerusalem that would come down from heaven to earth".
"Martin, who equates Zion with the site of the Temple, begins with stating that Zion was limited to the southern end of the southeastern ridge of Jerusalem and that the Temple was built there because of the Gihon Spring. "The Bible even indicated that the Temple was abutting to the northern side of the City of David", he says. Martin further claims that David himself placed the Ark of the Covenant over the Gihon Spring, quoting Ps. 87 which says "all my springs are in thee" and also Ps. 116, "I will pay my vows unto the Lord now in the presence of all his people, in the courts of the Lord's house
Yes, the Temple was located "on the sides of the north" of Mount Zion (Isaiah 14:13; Psalm 48:2). This makes the Temple to be abutting to the north side of the City of Zion (that is, the City of David). So close was the Temple courts to the City of David that Aristeas in the third century B.C. (an eyewitness) said one could look down from the northern side of the Citadel (the City of David) and look directly into the center of the Temple courts where the priests did their functions. This would be an absurd statement if the Temple were located (as Ritmeyer insists) 1000 feet north of the City of David and in the higher elevated area now occupied by the Haram esh-Sharif. Truthfully, the Temple Mount of David and Solomon was just a short distance north of Zion (it was abutting to the City of David and positioned on the southeast ridge). The Temple was actually located on the Ophel mound situated directly over the Gihon Spring.
Also, there is not a shadow of doubt that David constructed a "Tabernacle" which contained the Ark of the Covenant and placed that "Tabernacle" around and over the Gihon Spring where it served as the official "Temple" for 38 years before Solomon solemnized his Temple of stone higher up the Ophel hill and directly above the Gihon Spring (II Samuel 6:17; I Kings 1:32-53). Indeed, let us remember the two historical accounts that I have given above that show conclusively that the Temple in 285 B.C. had within its precincts a natural spring of water. Aristeas stated this in his eyewitness account and it was reiterated by the famous Roman historian, Tacitus in about 100 A.D. (History, Bk.5, para.12). (which prime references Ritmeyer does not even mention in his critique because they destroy the very foundation of his theory). But there is more. In Psalm 87:7 it states dogmatically that there were "springs" in God’s House which the psalmist says was in "Zion" and in "the City of God."
I also give in my book and in my Web Page abridgment many references in the Psalms written by David when the Ark was positioned over the Gihon Spring that show there was running spring of water within all the former Temples. There are several prophecies that state that even future Temples will have running spring waters emerging from their inner precincts, including the New Testament reference to the New Jerusalem. There is no record whatever that any spring (other than the Gihon Spring) has existed within 5 miles of Jerusalem and there is no geological or historical proof that there was any natural spring of water in the entire region of the Haram esh-Sharif.
Besides this, I cite over ten biblical references that show the Temple was located in the "center" of Jerusalem, and not in the extreme lop-sided northeast section where the present Haram is found. Indeed, the Haram is far away from Jerusalem’s center and is located on the farthest northeast corner of ancient Jerusalem. All of these historical and biblical references Ritmeyer refuses even to mention because these eyewitness accounts are fatal to his theory that the Haram is the Temple Mount. I want to be kind to him, but his dishonesty in leaving out my central evidences because they clearly dispute his theory is not being a gentleman in the least and they are contrary to the true spirit of proper scholarship.
"He [Martin] then moves on to the prophecy of Jesus who, according to his interpretation, told his disciples that ‘not one stone of the Temple and its support buildings’ would be left on top the other. And so all the walls of the Temple and the Temple Mount were torn down to their foundations just as Jesus prophesied they would be. Only the Antonia escaped the destruction of 70 AD, which he equates with the Herodian Temple Mount [no, it is Ritmeyer who erroneously equates the Haram with the Temple Mount]."
My dear Ritmeyer, I gave eyewitness evidence recorded by Josephus that the Romans so completely destroyed the Temple and the City of Jerusalem (as Jesus prophesied) that if a stranger would by chance would have come upon the site of former Jerusalem after its destruction, he would not have believed there had once been a City and a Temple in the area.
Jesus said: "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 [Jerusalem] even with the ground, and thy children within thee: and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knowest not the time of thy visitation" (Luke 19:43,44). Notice the closeness of Christ’s prophecy with the description of Josephus about the condition of Jerusalem after the war.
Josephus said the same thing (and almost precisely): "It [Jerusalem] was so thoroughly laid even with the ground by those that dug it up to the foundation, that there was nothing left to make those that came thither believe it [Jerusalem] had ever been inhabited" (War VII.1,1).
Besides this, we have the eyewitness testimony of Eleazar, who was the Jewish commander of those Jewish forces left in Masada before most committed suicide. This Jewish commander said: "It [Jerusalem] is now demolished to the very foundations [even the foundational stones were all overturned within the whole of Jerusalem], and hath nothing left [of Jerusalem] but THAT MONUMENT of it preserved, I mean the CAMP OF THOSE [the Roman camp] that hath destroyed it [Jerusalem], WHICH [CAMP] STILL DWELLS UPON ITS RUINS: some unfortunate old men also lie upon the ashes of the Temple [then in total ruins – all that was left of the Temple was ashes], and a few women are there preserved alive by the enemy [for prostitution purposes], for our bitter shame and reproach" (War VII,8,7, emphases are mine).
Nothing of Jewish Jerusalem or the Temple (including their foundation stones) was left standing and this is exactly what Jesus prophesied would occur. All buildings in Jerusalem, including the Temple and its walls, had been laid even with the ground. The only thing left (as stated by Eleazar and recorded by Josephus who also knew the same facts] was a lone facility identified as the Roman fortress that had been in Jerusalem before the war began. That fortress was Fort Antonia and we have the eyewitness account of Eleazar that that military facility still remained standing.
Indeed, look at the archaeological facts today as they present themselves to all people. Those four prodigious walls of the Haram are still in place in their lower courses and they certainly survived the war. All archaeologists and historians today (including Ritmeyer) readily admit that the Haram esh-Sharif is the only facility of pre-destruction Jerusalem that survived the war with its foundation stones still in evidence. Those four Herodian walls of Fort Antonia and its interior buildings were the only man-made structures that Titus the Roman general allowed to remain for the protection of the Tenth Legion left to monitor Roman affairs. And Josephus said Antonia was built around a prominent "Rock" just like we see in the Haram esh-Sharif under the Dome of the Rock. It is a building complex built just like a Roman fort. It remained and was continued to be used by the Romans as a Fort until 289 A.D., but the Temple did not survive the war. Even Eleazar said the Temple "was in ashes" (absolutely nothing of the Temple survived, as Jesus said would happen). The Haram was NOT in ashes. The truth is, all the Temples were built over the Gihon Spring about 600 feet south of the southern wall of the Haram.
The Haram esh-Sharif was actually the Praetorium (the Roman encampment) or what Josephus called Fort Antonia. It must be emphasized that Josephus said it had been built around a prominent "Rock" formation within its precincts. That "Rock" outcropping is still there for all of us to see and is now located under the building called the Arabic built Dome of the Rock. Josephus said this "Rock" was a part of Antonia, it was NOT part of the Temple. Nowhere is it remotely mentioned in Scripture that the Temple was built over or around a permanent outcropping of "Rock" (I explain this at length in my book and abridgment). But a major "Rock" was the central feature around which Antonia was constructed.
"He [Martin] then refers to some remarks made by rabbis and pilgrims that, according to him, say that the Temple site was never built on by Gentiles and that therefore the Dome of the Rock could not have been built on the former location of the Jewish temple."
That’s right, I do mention these early Jewish authorities who give information that the Haram esh-Sharif could NOT be the site of the Temple. But Ritmeyer simply avoids giving these abundant and conclusive historical observations because they indicate in no uncertain terms that the Haram esh-Sharif could NOT be the area of the Temple Mount. He refuses to comment on these powerful historical and geographical facts because they show that he and his other scholar friends are as wrong as a three dollar bill. This avoidance of mentioning some of my cardinal proofs is an outrageous attempt to mislead his readers because these very references are capable of proving (even alone and without a shadow of doubt) that the Haram is Fort Antonia, and NOT the Temple Mount. His avoidance of my prime evidences shows he is unfair with me, himself and with his readers. Let us look at what Ritmeyer deliberately left out because the historical references prove my point conclusively.
We have absolute documentary evidence that 70 Jewish families in the seventh century were allowed by Omar (the Second Caliph) to settle in Jerusalem. They informed Omar that they wanted to reside in the SOUTHERN part of Jerusalem so they could be near the Siloam water system and to be near the site of their former Temple. Omar, who was then building his Al Aqsa Mosque in the southern extremity of the Haram, allowed them their request. This historical fact is found in a fragment of a letter discovered in the Geniza library of Egypt now in Cambridge University in England. Notice what it states:
"Omar agreed that seventy households should come [to Jerusalem from Tiberias]. They agreed to that. After that, he asked: ‘Where do you wish to live within the city?’ They replied: ‘In the southern section of the city, which is the market of the Jews.’ Their request was to enable them to be near the site of the Temple and its gates, as well as to the waters of Shiloah, which could be used for immersion. This was granted them [the 70 Jewish families] by the Emir of the Believers. So seventy households including women and children moved from Tiberias, and established settlements in buildings whose foundations had stood for many generations." (emphasis mine)
This southern area was south of the southern wall of the Haram (where Omar had his Al Aqsa Mosque) because Professor Benjamin Mazar (when I was working with him at the archaeological excavations along the southern wall of the Haram) discovered two palatial Umayyad buildings close to the southern wall of the Haram that occupied a great deal of space south of the southern Haram wall. Those 70 families certainly had their settlement further south than these ruins of Muslim government buildings. Interestingly, in this document (and in all pre-Crusade records), Jews showed no interest in the "Rock" now under the Dome of the Rock. Their sole attention was to the area SOUTH of Haram and the Muslim government buildings. Also, when the Karaite Jews a century later settled in Jerusalem, they also went to this same southern area which was the former site of the City of David on the southeast ridge as well as adjacently across the Kidron into the Silwan area. These first Jewish settlers certainly knew that the former Temple site was well SOUTH of the Haram esh-Sharif. The Temple was near the "waters of Shiloah" (waters from the Gihon).
In fact, as late as Maimonides (during the Crusade period), the great Jewish philosopher said the Temple was then in total ruins (while the Haram area was NOT in ruins but was heavily built upon by the Christians and Muslims). Then slightly later, the Jewish authority Rabbi David Kimchi also stated that the Jewish Temple was still in utter ruins and (Kimchi added the important observation) that no Christian or Muslim had ever built over the spot where the true Temples stood. This express dogmatism 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 A.D., is of utmost value. Rabbi Kimchi said that as late as his time the region of the former Temples still remained in ruins and that NO GENTILES (whether Roman, Byzantine or Muslim) HAD YET BUILT ANY OF THEIR BUILDINGS OVER THE REAL SITE OF THE TEMPLE (emphases mine). He said (and I quote him): "And [the Temple] is still in ruins, [in] that the Temple site WAS NEVER BUILT ON BY THE NATIONS" (see my Web Page abridgment for official references).
These comments of Rabbi David Kimchi are first-class Jewish evidence in about 1235 A.D., and they show in no uncertain terms that the built-up area of the Haram esh-Sharif WAS NOT the Temple site recognized by all the Jews (because it had long been built over by the Christians and Muslims). It was still known in this later period that the real Temple area was located over and around the Gihon Spring on the southeast ridge which was in Rabbi Kimchi’s time outside the walls of Jerusalem. It was a derelict area used for a dump. I show clearly in my research that the first Jewish person ever to side with the Christians and Muslims and state that the Dome of the Rock area was the region of the former Jewish Temples was Benjamin of Tudela in the late twelfth century.
At the time of Benjamin of Tudela, some Jews began to go over to Dome of the Rock as the Temple site because they believed David’s tomb had been found on the western hill (which they then began falsely to call "Zion"). This erroneous identification of David’s tomb on the western hill (mentioned by Benjamin of Tudela) caused Jews to abandon the southeastern ridge as the proper City of David. So, they transported "Zion" to that western hill, and began to accept the Dome of the Rock area advocated by the Christians and Muslims as their new Temple site. As a consequence, all scholars who lived from the time of the Crusades to the decade of 1875 to 1885 (a period of 600 long years) were in total ERROR in placing "Zion" on the western hill. But the scholars finally succumbed to the historical evidence. They finally returned "Zion" to its proper southeast location. It is now time for all scholars and archaeologists to return the Temple to the Gihon Spring area. When they do, the greatest ERROR being perpetuated in Jerusalem’s geographical history will have been corrected.
"Martin then goes on to interpret Josephus who said that the Temple Mount was "a precise square of one stadium length on each side of about 600 feet". The southeastern corner of the outer Temple walls was, according to him, "located directly over the very bottom of the Kidron Valley (the bedrock center) and extended upwards 300 cubits or 450 feet". The Western Wall where Jews pray today also gets a rough treatment [by Martin] as they have only be doing so for the last 430 years. Martin asserts that "the Jewish people today at their Wailing Wall are NOT praying at a wall of their former Temples".
This is an absolute fact and it is proven (among other writings) by the research of Meir Ben Dov (the deputy of Professor Benjamin Mazar at the excavation near the Haram) in his book published in 1983 by the Israel Ministry of Defence (along with Mordechai Naor and Zeev Aner) titled: "The Western Wall –(Hakotel)." The truth is, there is NO HISTORICAL RECORD to show Jews assembling at the Western (Wailing) Wall before the time of the Turkish Sultan Selim and his son Suleiman the Magnificent in the early sixteenth century. I have shown clearly in my book on the Temples that the first "Western Wall" of Jewish tradition was that wall of the inner Holy of Holies (NOT the western external wall now used as the Wailing Wall by the present-day Jewish authorities) and that first "Western Wall" was located in ruins from a fourth century "Temple" built by the Jews in the time of Constantine and Julian the Apostate over the Gihon Spring. However, Ritmeyer fails to say anything about this extensive research of mine on this matter because it thoroughly destroys his erroneous assessment that the Haram esh-Sharif is the Temple Mount.
"I have been asked to give a critique of this theory. The weakness of this proposal lies in the fact that it consists of Martin's personal interpretation of some Bible passages and other historical references only and does not refer to results of the many archaeological excavations, which have taken place in Jerusalem since 1967."
I do not refer to any archaeological results because Jesus said there would not even be foundational stones left of Jerusalem and the Temple. They were all carted away, and as late as Eusebius in the fourth century he told us that some stones from the early Jerusalem and even the Temple were then being used to build the Roman city of Aelia that then occupied the northwestern ridge. There are simply no archaeological remains left in our period over 1900 years after the war of destruction.
"The first time the name of Zion is mentioned is when David captured the stronghold of Zion from the Jebusites and called it the City of David (2 Sam. 5.7). When Solomon had finished building the Temple, he brought up the Ark of the Covenant "out of the city of David, which is Zion" (1 Kings 8.1). This makes it quite clear that the Temple was located outside the original Zion, where the Gihon Spring was located, and that Martin is wrong to equate the Temple with Zion."
Ritmeyer’s appraisal is pure nonsense and hardly deserves an answer from me because there are abundant scriptural references that the Temple Mount is often called "Mount Zion" and that the two terms are often identical. Indeed, as soon as David placed the "Tabernacle" for the Ark at the Gihon Spring (and certainly when Solomon built the Temple on the Ophel hill above the Gihon) the Temple itself was then said to be located "in Zion." See Psalm 48 (all of it) where it shows the Temple as then being "in Zion." More than that, since a cardinal symbol of the Old Testament is the fact that "God dwelt in the Temple," this fact is simply expanded by incorporation when we read many verses speaking of God "dwelling in Zion" (Psalms 9:11; 76:2). Psalm 65:1-4 even states that God’s Temple is "in Zion." Psalm 99:1,2 states that God dwells between the Cherubim "in Zion." And Joel 3:17, 21 shows the Temple "in Zion." Indeed, there are a score of other places that do the same thing. It is absurd reasoning on the part of Ritmeyer to maintain that "Zion" cannot be reckoned the Temple site. It most certainly is in many verses. And folks, the original "Mount Zion" was located SOUTH of the Haram esh-Sharif. It was located from the Ophel mound above the Gihon Spring and then southward to a place where the Tyropoeon and Kidron valleys merge. This was the real "Zion," and it is where the original Temples were located. Ritmeyer is very wrong in his absurd and childish critique.
"The archaeological evidence also negates such a possibility. Reich and Shukon, who excavated the Gihon Spring and its near surroundings found the massive remains of a Jebusite fortified reservoir and of a tower, which have been in use till at least the end of the First Temple period . These remains cannot possibly belong to a Temple."
Reich and Shukon are simply guessing. These archaeologists do not believe the Temple was located over the Gihon Spring, so they have to guess that the stones are from some other source. Let me be plain. These guesses are just that – guesses that are not based on the historical evidence that I have provided.
"Solomon built the Temple where David had build [sic] an altar in the place where the Angel stood overlooking the City of David. The angel, which was going to destroy Jerusalem, stood outside the City of David (Zion) on higher ground from which he could look down upon it (2 Sam. 24.16)."
There is NOT the slightest indication in II Samuel 24:16 that the angel was standing on higher ground than the City of David. Ritmeyer is presenting nothing but wishful thinking without historical or geographical relevance.
"David build there an altar in the threshingfloor of Araunah. Threshingfloors are never found inside cities or in valleys where there is no wind to blow away the chaff, but always near mountain tops . The Temple was therefore build [sic] outside of what was then known as Zion and higher up the mountain."
As I point out in my abridgment (which Ritmeyer claims to have read), threshingfloors are indeed FLOORS. They are not built on a jagged "Rock" like the "Rock" under the Dome of the Rock that Ritmeyer claims was the site of the threshingfloor. In no way could such a jagged "Rock" be considered (even in ancient times) as a FLOOR (that is, a threshingfloor).
"The name Zion is not so much a precise location, but rather the name of the city of Jerusalem as the religious and political capital of Israel throughout the history of Israel. The city had its beginnings on the south-east hill and later spread to the western hill. Ps. 48:2 "Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King", is therefore misunderstood by Martin. It clearly does not mean that the Temple abutted the City of David. David understood that Mount Zion, where the Temple was going to be built, will be located in the place where he had build the altar, to the north of the City of David. The word for "situation" in Psalm 48 actually means "elevation" as the Hebrew verb "nof" means "to lift up", indicating that the Temple site was located in an elevated position in relation to the City of David. Later on the name of Zion became a symbol of God's chosen people (see for example Isa. 62). The word 'Zion' in Hebrew means a 'sign' and cannot therefore be a static location."
In a previous comment Ritmeyer said the angel stood "outside Zion" in order to destroy the city. If "Zion" is NOT a static location, why does Ritmeyer earlier say that it was? Of course the Temple was built on "an elevated" area. I have stated several times in my answers given above to Ritmeyer that the Temple was built by Solomon on the elevated Ophel Mound that was situated above the Gihon Spring.
"To say that the quote from Ps. 87.7, "all my springs are in thee", means that Solomon's Temple was built over a spring is nonsense as the Hebrew for "springs" can also mean "eyes". This verse means that God's eyes are always on Zion, which in this Psalm means the City of God (vs.3), and not the Temple only. In this context Martin compares this to the spring in the future Temple, but conveniently forgets to mention that the waters will flow out through the Mount of Olives, after it is split, towards the Dead Sea (Zec. 14.4, 8). This shows actually that the Temple will be located opposite the Mount of Olives and not in the lower City of David. The quote from Ps. 116, "in the midst [center] of thee, O Jerusalem", does not mean that the Temple was located in the centre of Jerusalem, but merely inside it. The Hebrew for "in the midst", "be-tavech", is usually translated as "among" when referring to people or "in the midst", meaning within, when referring to places like a garden, a city or the sea. In the English Bible it has never once been translated as "centre".
In every modern version I have checked (including the most prestigious), the translators have rendered the Hebrew word in Psalm 87:7 just as I have it. It is "springs" or "fountains," and NEVER translated "eyes" as Ritmeyer struggles to guess. After all, I have two eyewitness accounts that the Temple did have in its precincts the springs of the Gihon that issue from a single source. Also, the Mount of Olives was reckoned as an elongated mountain stretching from Scopus in the north, through the central region opposite the Haram, and including the "Corruption" spur on the south that was opposite the Temple and the City of David. That no English language Bible ever translates the word "midst" as being "center" (as I suggest), I gave reference in my abridgment to Ezekiel 37:26 & 28; also Ezekiel 48:10,15,21 where the Catholic New American Version in English correctly translates the Hebrew word as "center."
"Jesus indeed said that not one stone shall be left upon another and I believe that that was fulfilled in 70 A.D. However, Jesus did not speak of "the Temple and its supporting walls", as Martin wants to make us believe, but only of the Temple itself (Luke 21.5) and those "buildings of the Temple" which the disciples pointed out to him (Matt. 24.1). The disciples spoke of the buildings which stood on the Temple Mount, but not of the foundation platform, the walls of which are still standing up today. If Martin wants to quote from the Scriptures, he should first read them more accuratedly [sic]."
My dear Ritmeyer, you are the one who should be reading the texts accurately. As I abundantly explained (and it can be readily seen in the New Testament documents) that the disciples did NOT even refer Christ to the stones of the Temple UNTIL they were ALL OUTSIDE the Temple walls. When they pointed to the Temple, they were certainly INCLUDING its walls. Indeed, I give references in my book from Josephus that clearly state that NO WALLS of any kind were left in Jewish Jerusalem. Everything was torn down, including the very foundations of the city buildings and the Temple and its walls.
"The same careless treatment is reserved for the writings of Josephus. He indeed refers to a Temple Mount, which once was a square having sides of one stadium each. The quotes are from Ant. 8.96 and 15.398,400 and refer to the precinct built by Solomon. However, in War 5.184,185 he writes, "In course of ages, however, through the constant additions of the people to the embankment, the hill-top by this process of levelling up was widened". Josephus then says that the original square design was enlarged on three sides until it became double the original size (War 1.401). This, however, is ignored by Martin. The Mishnah (Middot 2.1) also states that the Temple Mount was square with sides of 500 cubits, which is a more accurate measurement than the stadium of Josephus, who appears to have given a rough estimate only. The archaeological remains of this early platform have been discovered by this reviewer . To say that the Temple Mount remained a small square platform shows an unfamiliarity with the historical sources."
Ritmeyer says I give "careless treatment" to the writings of Josephus. In no way is this true. In fact, it is Ritmeyer who recklessly changes the text of Josephus along with Bible information itself which states in no uncertain terms that Solomon’s Temple was in the form of a long rectangle, NOT a precise square. This rectangular shape was continued until the time of Alexander the Great when Josephus said the dimensions of the Temple were 150 feet wide and 500 feet long (Josephus, Contra Apion I.22). Since Ritmeyer says my statement that the Temple of Herod was a square of 600 feet "shows an unfamiliarity with the historical sources," I am tempted to quote the whole section of Josephus which shows that it is actually Ritmeyer who is "totally unfamiliar" with what Josephus stated. Ritmeyer should read War VI.5,4 or para. 310 to 315.
The fact is, the additions to the Temple Mount that Ritmeyer refers to above were accomplished after the time of Alexander the Great. The Temple Mount only became a precise square of 600 feet on each side in the time of Herod. Indeed, Josephus said that when the two colonnade roadways that led from Fort Antonia to the Temple were cut down, the Temple then became a precise square. He said that a prophecy (probably referring to Daniel) stated that such a condition would become evident with the Temple. The Jews in fact believed (according to Josephus) that once the Temple became a precise square (as it did just before its destruction by the Romans), this is when the obscure prophecy that Josephus refers to took place. Please Dr. Ritmeyer, read War VI.5,4 or para.310 to 315. By Ritmeyer not knowing these fundamental facts that everyone I have ever talked to on the essential parts of Josephus have all acknowledged makes me wonder if Ritmeyer has ever read Josephus.
"According to Martin's interpretation of some sources, Jews did not begin to pray at the Western (Wailing) Wall until the end of the 16th Century [sic] A.D. The writings of the Pilgrim of Bordeaux, which date from 333 A.D. clearly indicate that prayers were said there at the time: "The Jews come there [the ruins of the temple] once a year, weeping and wailing near a stone which survived the destruction of the Temple". There remained more than just a stone, because a Byzantine inscription dating from 363 A.D has been found near Robinson's Arch, quoting Isa. 66.14. This shows beyond any doubt that the Western Wall of the Temple Mount was still standing up and that it was an important place for the Jewish population of Jerusalem already in the Byzantine period. I'm sure that the Byzantine Jews had no interest in rebuilding the walls of a Roman camp, but those of the Temple only."
Ritmeyer is also way off base on all these issues. I showed clearly in my research that the Bordeaux Pilgrim first went to a ruined Temple (that had just been built in the time of Constantine) that was located OUTSIDE the walls of Jerusalem and there he saw a stone outcropping with an incision or a cave in it. The spot was plainly over the Gihon Spring where this occurred. From there, the Pilgrim then went up the west hill and he finally entered a gate of Jerusalem (the only gate he entered) that led directly northward toward the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. When the Pilgrim got opposite the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (then being built), he looked eastward and saw a building that he said had "walls" (he used the plural "walls") that reached down into the Tyropoeon Valley. The only building with such walls (that is, the western and southern walls) being in the bottom of the Tyropoeon was the Haram esh-Sharif (which was, by the way, directly east of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre just as the Bordeaux Pilgrim described). The Pilgrim then identified the walled facility as the "Praetorium" where Pilate judged Jesus. The word "Praetorium" was often synonymous in meaning to a fort or an encampment (i.e. Fort Antonia).
Later, in the time of the Piacensa Pilgrim from Italy (sixth century) this "Praetorium" had a singular feature that was honored by the Christians. It was an "oblong Rock" on which Jesus stood when he was judged by Pilate. The footprints of Jesus were supposed to have been found in that Rock. A major Church called the Church of the Holy Wisdom had been built over the "oblong Rock" and remained there until the Persians destroyed the church in 614 A.D.
Then in 692 A.D., the Sixth Caliph, Abn el-Malik, built the Dome of the Rock over this "oblong Rock." As late as the time of Saladin in the period of the Crusades, the court recorder of Saladin wrote that that "Rock" under the Dome of the Rock was the same "Rock" that always had the footprints of Jesus embedded on it that were left there when Pilate judged Jesus in the Praetorium (or, Fort Antonia). So, as late as the Crusades, it was known that the "Rock" under the Dome of the Rock was the lithostrotos (the structured Rock) mentioned in the Gospel of John (19:13) where Jesus stood at his judgment by Pilate. This evidence proves positively that throughout all the historical periods up to the Crusades it was recognized that the Dome of the Rock area in the Haram esh-Sharif was indeed the site of Fort Antonia, and NOT the Temple.
"I have not read the full account of Martin's deliberations, nor would I wish to do so, for the many inaccuracies in the abridged version make it abundantly clear that this theory is flawed, because it does not interpret the historical sources correctly and ignores all the archaeological evidence that has been excavated in Jerusalem. Martin claims to have worked for many years with Prof. Benjamin Mazar. Although I was the dig's architect since 1973 and continued to work with Mazar for a long time afterwards, I do not remember meeting Martin or Mazar ever mentioning him. To say that the present walls of the Temple Mount belong to the Antonia is to do an injustice, to say the least, to Mazar and all who worked with him for 10 long years. The excavation results have shown abundantly that these walls with their surviving gates belong to the Herodian Temple Mount and that the extant remains are those described in the historical records. If the Temple Mount was merely a Roman camp, why were Hebrew inscriptions, such as Isa. 66.14, that of the Trumpeting Stone and of the Korban (sacrifice) vessel was found in Herodian strata, together with so many Jewish coins? Why are the beautiful domes of the Double Gate passageway decorated with botanic and geometric designs in accordance with the Mosaic prohibition of portraying humans and animals, which was so prevalent in the Roman architectural world? I could go on asking many more such questions to which there are no answers if Martin was right."
Poor Ritmeyer! He not only wishes to remain blind to the truth of my research but he stubbornly refuses even to read my major proofs which I provide in my book of 550 pages. He wishes to keep his head firmly anchored in the sand of ignorance. That is his privilege, yet it is a very unwise and fallacious attitude to take. He even questions my statement that I worked personally with Professor Benjamin Mazar at the excavation in Jerusalem. Really, it is Ritmeyer who is the latest on the totem pole. I was the one who introduced my Chancellor of Ambassador College (later University) to involve ourselves with Hebrew University and Professor Mazar in 1968. For five years (from 1969 to 1973) I was responsible as an executive administrator for over 450 college students who dug at the excavation under Professor Mazar. I was the initial person responsible for sending over two million dollars to Professor Mazar and the State of Israel to fund the dig and other enterprises during those years. Indeed, it was I who never heard of Ritmeyer because the architectural offices were later moved from the central excavation site and I had no need to go there in my administrative capacity as the senior person in charge of all Ambassador activities at the dig. It was Ritmeyer who was the "Johnny come lately" in 1973 (the last year I was executive administrator).
Ritmeyer says that my new research does an injustice to Professor Mazar because of the radical interpretations that are not in accord with mainstream opinions on the site of the Temple. The fact is, I knew Benjamin very well. He was a first class gentleman and scholar who put truth and honesty above everything. He would have been proud of my new research, and I firmly believe he would be at the forefront of accepting it if he were still alive. My research is not a dishonor to Professor Mazar, indeed it is an honor because it was Professor Mazar who encouraged me to continue in my research of all subjects connected with the City of Jerusalem and he actively praised my work on several other subjects before my newest research on the Temple site was published.
"I have made many reconstruction drawings of archaeological sites in Jerusalem. These were based first of all on the archaeological evidence, both in situ and found on the site, on architectural parallels and on the historical accounts. Whenever possible I consulted with the archaeologists who had excavated the particular site and was always very careful not to give a free hand to the imagination, as I know the power of reconstruction drawings. The one, however, published by Martin has no credence whatsoever, as it is not based on any archaeological evidence. It cannot therefore be called an archaeological reconstruction, but is merely the result of flawed interpretation of the historical sources and a lot of wishful thinking."
The historical and biblical research I am offering to the world is based on the eyewitness accounts of many people. There can be no doubt that I am right in my conclusions and I will counter effectively any alternative view that supports the present erroneous teaching that the Haram esh-Sharif is the site of the Temples of God in Jerusalem. It is the archaeological evidence that has been misjudged by Ritmeyer and other scholars that is flawed and a lot of wishful thinking. I have not the slightest doubt that my conclusions will be (in the main) accepted by the scholarly world. This will be done simply because they are true.
"Jan Simons, wrote in his scholarly work , "It has been said that all authors on ancient Jerusalem, though disagreeing among themselves about every aspect of their subject, are so much at one about a single point that they usually do not even trouble to prove it, viz., the fact that the temple of Solomon and Herod stood on the same middle part of the eastern ridge which is now occupied by Haram esh-Sharif. Indeed, a demonstration of this localization formulated in such general terms might be dispensed with because, at any rate to my knowledge, nobody has ever ventured to suggest another place for it". Martin's ideas fall therefore outside the scope of main stream scholarship regarding the Temple Mount."
Ritmeyer is correct in one of his judgments. No one in modern times has suggested that the Temples of God were all located over the Gihon Spring. All scholars and historians since the time of the Crusades (for the past 600 years) and no matter who they are or of what religious persuasion they proclaim, have held steadfastly and religiously to the belief that the Temples were located within the precincts of the Haram esh-Sharif. What I have done with my research is to prove otherwise. And folks, there is not the slightest doubt that I am right. All I can say, in closing, is that the truth will triumph, and triumph soon. When the truth is finally accepted, it will help all parties in the Middle East (and especially those in Jerusalem) to put down their guns and rocks and to turn them into plowshares and into monuments of peace. I hope that day may soon emerge.
Ernest L. Martin, Ph.D.
© 1976-2017 Associates for Scriptural Knowledge - ASK is supported by freewill contributions