Was the Jewish Temple actually located in the City of David? Find out with guest archaeologist Randall Price on the show Christ in Prophecy.
Last Aired on April 17, 2016.
Dr. Reagan: A book was published recently that contained a shocking thesis namely, that the First and Second Jewish Temples were not located on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, but were situated instead in the ancient city of David, which was located south of the Temple Mount. So, what about it? Are all the archeologists and historians wrong? And why is this important? It’s because the Third Temple, the one that will exist during the Tribulation, must be located where the previous Temples stood. For some fascinating insights about this controversy, stay tuned for an interview with a world class expert on the subject.
Dr. Reagan: Greetings in the name of Jesus, our Blessed Hope, and welcome to Christ in Prophecy. I am blessed to have with me today a very special guest. His name is Dr. Randall Price. Welcome to Lamb and Lion Ministries and Christ in Prophecy, we are glad to have you Randall. You know Randall is very difficult to get hold of because half of the time he is in Israel so we are glad that you are here today.
Randall Price: Well, thank you.
Dr. Reagan: Especially in God’s country, Texas.
Randall Price: Absolutely. My country too.
Dr. Reagan: OK. Well folks, Randall is a dear friend of mine. He is an expert in both Bible prophecy and the Hebrew heritage of Christianity. He is a professor at Liberty University in Virginia where he serves as Executive Director of the Center for Judaic Studies. And, in addition to all that, he is an archeologist and a world renowned expert on the Jewish Temples. Here are two of the books that he has written, he’s written a bunch of them. Show that one over there Randall the The Temple and Bible Prophecy: The Definitive Look at its Past Present and Future. And you could use that as a doorstop it’s so thick. And then what else you got there? Oh, this is absolutely fabulous it’s the The Rose Guide to the Temple. Now the reason it is called Rose is because it is the Rose Publishing Company but it’s beautifully illustrated throughout, it’s just a fantastic guide to the Temple. And tell them about this new one, this one I don’t know about.
Randall Price: This has just come out. We spent three years in Jerusalem doing something that you cannot do if you go to the site. It’s actually forbidden by the Islamic Authorities to speak about the Jewish Temple on the site of the Jewish Temple. And so because you can’t do that through a tour we spent several years filming on the location, teaching all about the Temple. Teaching about the ministry of Jesus in the Temple. I’ve done it in 360 degrees so a person could put this on their computer and they can do a virtual tour actually going to all the places themselves, picking out the video clips and listening to things. And we’ve done this also with the Tabernacle down in Shiloh, and the Tabernacle model in Timna Park in Israel. So it’s a good product.
Dr. Reagan: And how long does that run?
Randall Price: It runs as long as you want it to because it is self-exploring so it can go on forever.
Dr. Reagan: And it’s in several languages, isn’t it?
Randall Price: It’s in four languages: English, German, Spanish, and Portuguese.
Dr. Reagan: And what is the name of your ministry in addition to all the things that you do?
Randall Price: My ministry is World of the Bible Ministries.
Dr. Reagan: Ok.
Randall Price: And we bring the world of the Bible to the word of the Church.
Dr. Reagan: Alright, and how can people get in touch with your ministry? Just look into that camera right there.
Randall Price: Yeah, just worldofthebible.com, that’s the ministry website all of the information is there, so worldofthebible.com.
Dr. Reagan: And they can find all of these resource materials?
Randall Price: All the resources, a lot of free material they can download or read.
Dr. Reagan: And a lot of good articles.
Randall Price: Yes.
Dr. Reagan: Ok. Well that’s great. Now Randall, your invitation to be on this program was prompted by the publication of this book a book, this one right here Temple by Robert Cornuke. In this particular–in fact the thing that gets me is his subtitle: Amazing New Discoveries That Change Everything about the Location of Solomon’s Temple. And at the top it says, “Could history be so stunningly wrong?” Well, what I want to do is I want to discuss this book with you. I want to present some of his arguments and have you respond to them. But first of all I want to get everybody oriented to Jerusalem. Ok, and then we’ll come back.
Randall Price: Now folks, what we have here is a bird’s eye view of the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem as they exist today. These are walls that were rebuilt by Suleiman the Magnificent back in the 1500’s. This area is known as the Christian Quarter. This is the Armenian Quarter. The Arab Quarter. And all of this is the Jewish Quarter. There are many gates around the Old City the most magnificent one is the one up here called the Damascus Gate. But the one that is best known is this one marked in red here and that is the gate that has several names; it’s sometimes called the Beautiful Gate, the Golden Gate, the Eastern Gate. It is the only gate that leads directly into the Temple Mount. This is what’s called the Temple Mount it is a trapezoid. And this is the location of the Dome of the Rock and many people believe was the location of the ancient Jewish Temples. This right over here is what is called the Western Wall or many people in the west call it the Wailing Wall. This is Mount Zion. This is the Mount of Olives. This is the Kidron Valley. And what is astounding to most people is to find out that the ancient City of David, the original Jebusite city of Jerusalem was located to the south of here, not within these walls. It was just a tiny, little finger of land like this. And the reason it was built here is because there were deep ravines on each side of it that gave a natural defense. That’s what David conquered. And over the years as the Jewish village began to grow it went up this way on a slope called the Ophel up toward the Temple Mount, the Temple Mount being Mount Moriah.
This is where the threshing floor was located according to archaeologists and historians the floor that David bought for the situation of the Temple. One other thing and that is that the water supply was located here called the Gihon Spring and that was the water supply of the ancient city. Now with this in mind let us return to our discussion with Randall Price.
Dr. Reagan: Ok, folks now that we have the Temple Mount site in mind let’s consider the arguments that Robert Cornuke presents in behalf of his thesis that the Jewish Temples were located in the Ancient City of David and not on what is called today the Temple Mount. Now, Randall the first argument he presents in the book is one that was astonishing to me because it can be disproved so easily I think, and that is this, he said the Temples were located in Zion, and Zion was the name of the City of David according to 2 Samuel 5:7 which reads, “David captured the stronghold of Zion, that is the City of David.” Ok.
Randall Price: Let me say first that none of the views in this book are new, ok. Back about 10 years before this Ernest Martin now deceased wrote a book called, The Temples that Jerusalem Forgot. And a lot of the information in his book is source from this book. The same premise though that when you talk about Zion being the City of David therefore the Temple should have been built in the City of David, Solomon was the successor to David. The problem is that we use the word Sion, Zion in the very passage he cites he says, “The strongholds or the fortress of David.” That’s what was captured from the Jebusites, therefore it was the place where the city began. But it didn’t end there the city continued to grow as you told us on the map, went to the Ophel and then up to the higher area. And the fact is that when we look in the Scriptures Zion is considered Jerusalem as a whole. The passage like Isaiah 2 verse 3 where it says, “The law of the Lord will go forth from Zion, the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.”
Dr. Reagan: Written long after David conquered that city.
Randall Price: Right, yes. And the parallelism is that Zion and Jerusalem are one and the same.
Dr. Reagan: So it is a common term for Jerusalem?
Randall Price: It is. So it encompasses not just the City of David but also the larger Temple Mount.
Dr. Reagan: I hadn’t had this on my list of allegations but I want to pick up on something you mentioned about the book there. The title of it, The Temples that Jerusalem Forgot. How could people forget where their temples were located?
Randall Price: This is a major argument in these books that this was completely lost history. That it is a fact now only rediscovered by people like this in our time. In fact that is just completely wrong. When you are talking about a sacred site, a place to which Jewish people pray three times a day and always have been oriented toward that. Back in 1 Kings 8 Solomon said, “Pray toward this place.”
Dr. Reagan: Yes.
Randall Price: We know that was always the case from the very beginning. Now that place was not lost even when the First Temple was destroyed they knew exactly where to come back and they said they rebuilt the Second Temple on the very place of the First Temple. When the Second Temple was destroyed we know that they continued to reverence that site. The site was left barren purposely by the Romans and later by the Byzantine Roman Christians because it was the site of the Temple.
Dr. Reagan: And people have prayed at that site for thousands of years.
Randall Price: I’ve excavated at the Kotel Excavations just beside there and uncovered one of the Eastern Roads of Cardo which went right by the Temple Mount. And went there so that people could actually in a sense mock the Temple because it had been destroyed in a judgment of God against the Jewish people that elevated some of their own beliefs. But beyond that you clearly have from the Second Century AD 100’s AD at the time of the Emperor Hadrian he put a ban on Jews coming to the Temple Mount. So the closes they could get were the Mount of Olives. So, they would come at the Tisha B’Av the time of the commemoration of the destruction of the Temple and bewail, and it said, “They looked at the ruins of the ancient Temple and cried about it.” But you couldn’t see those if they were down in the City of David had to be right in front of you. So, but throughout history we have continued literary documents from communities knowing exactly where to return in the Sixth Century AD they came right to the Temple Mount under Julian. And there’s even inscriptions on the wall there on the southwestern side indicates that period. So, over and over throughout history no one forgot the location of the Temple.
Dr. Reagan: No one forgot, right. Alright second argument, Jesus prophesied that the entire temple complex would be destroyed. And yet the retaining walls around the Temple were not destroyed. Whereas the City of David lies in complete ruins.
Randall Price: Yeah. Well first there is no passage where Jesus said just that.
Dr. Reagan: That’s right.
Randall Price: Jesus said that not one stone would be left upon another, would not be torn down. And He and the disciples in Matthew 24:1-2 and Mark 13:1-2 where He talks about this, were leaving the temple complex. And the Greek term that’s used “hierou” the term for the complex itself. But whenever Jesus uses terms like destroy this temple in three days, I’ll build it up. Speaking of the temple of His body we know. That’s the accusation they use against Him referring to the temple. He uses the word there “noas” which is the word for the temple proper. Now what Jesus is referring to anyway when He used the previous term was the Temple and all of the walls and gates immediately around it, not the retaining walls which are not a building.
Dr. Reagan: Yes, that’s right.
Randall Price: That’s something else entirely. And that whole platform remained. We also know that the term used by Flavius Josephus the First Century historian that talks about in detail the destruction of the Temple. He uses the term that only means the destruction down to ground level, all destructions were that. And in fact we are introduced to the same term for the destruction of the Antonia Fortress. So their argument in this book is that the Antonia Fortress remains standing and actually occupied the place of the Temple Mount today. Well if they use that understanding then they have to say that they have no building left, that’s not true. When they leveled the foundation it was only down to ground level, they didn’t dig up the foundations they left them. And that was to show of course their conquest so they wanted to be able to show that so that future generations would be able to say, “See how impregnable these buildings were and yet we conquered them.”
Dr. Reagan: So, Jesus was talking about the buildings on the Temple Mount He wasn’t talking about the retaining walls that went around the mount?
Randall Price: Yes. Absolutely not.
Dr. Reagan: Ok.
Randall Price: We know from other archaeological sites that they say they were completely destroyed and the remains are there, so this a parallel.
Dr. Reagan: Ok, another argument, Scripture say a stream of water will flow from underneath the Temple and it will go down to the Dead Sea, and the Dead Sea will come alive. And he says in here that the Gihon Spring is located beneath the Ancient City of David, so that must have been where the Temple was for it to talk about water flowing out from underneath the Temple.
Randall Price: First there is a Gihon Spring down located in the City of David. You couldn’t have gotten the water from there to a higher structure, there is no way to channel it up. But the passage he uses is Ezekiel 47 relates the Millennial Temple.
Dr. Reagan: That’s right.
Randall Price: A future Temple. And the water will not just only start from under the altar in the Temple it will go all the way down to the Dead Sea and that’s why it becomes fresh in those days. But we know archaeologically and historically there is a spring beneath the Dome of the Rock, on the present day Temple Mount. Edward Robinson back in the 1840’s discovered this, found it was about 80 feet below the Dome of the Rock. There had been publications talking about the historical eruptions of this spring throughout history. I know there was one in the 1990’s I actually went to look at it myself in which the water flooded the Dome of the Rock from this underground subterranean spring. So, he apparently knows nothing about this but indeed that is on the location. Throughout the history of the Temple Mount there has been 38 known cisterns that have been discovered. Only recently Eli Shukron and others found right at the Tyropoeon Valley that goes up in that central part the western part of the city a huge reservoir for the First Temple Period. We know there was abundant water supplies was even later in the time of King Herod aqueducts that carried this from outside what they called the Pools of Solomon to the Temple Mount. There is no need even for a spring, yet that exists. But the water was abundantly provided to that site.
Dr. Reagan: Well my response to that would be first of all these scriptures he quotes are clearly Millennial scriptures that have to do with the Millennial Temple. And secondly we know when Jesus Christ returns there is going to be an earthquake, the greatest earthquake in all of history. And the complete topography of Jerusalem is going to be changed. So a whole new spring could come forth at that time. But it certainly does not apply to the City of David because these are Millennial prophecies.
Randall Price: That’s right.
Dr. Reagan: Ok.
Randall Price: And in the book they don’t make any particular eschatological prophetical interpretations, so they can take passages where ever they want.
Dr. Reagan: That’s convenient.
Randall Price: It is.
Dr. Reagan: Ok. The Temple Mount was the Antonia Fortress where the Roman army was garrisoned, what about it?
Randall Price: Well the Antonia Fortress was a much smaller building they make the entire excavated platform today having encompassed the Antonia Fortress with a 600 foot, two double bridges stretching down to the City of David. They have to understand one of their arguments in everything being completely destroyed is why we don’t find any evidence of this things today in the City of David, or Ophel or any of these places. In fact that’s impossible that you can so completely destroy these things that nothing would be left.
Dr. Reagan: And the debris was pushed over the sides.
Randall Price: Yes. Now the Antonia Fortress as I said was also destroyed. It was you know a building that was built in 37 BC by Herod the Great the first thing he did when he came he built Herodium Archa which was a Hasmonean Fortress that was there, so he built this to guard the area. Well we know that when you had the first Jewish revolt the Jews actually slaughtered all the Romans there, they occupied that structure. And then Josephus tells us the Romans attacking from the north took that fortress first. And it says they only had a two day siege and they took the whole thing. And then it says that in seven days they leveled it. Ok. You can’t have a huge structure with the tens of thousands of soldiers he talks about it and only have a two day siege, and a seven day destruction so there is something quiet wrong about this.
Dr. Reagan: Yes, well I would agree. Now one of the major counter arguments to this thesis relates to the size of the temple platform as it relates to the size of the City of David. And to me it is the most convincing argument of all.
Randall Price: Yeah.
Dr. Reagan: Explain what it is all about.
Randall Price: In the book it is very misleading because they’ve drawn pictures but not to scale.
Dr. Reagan: Not to scale.
Randall Price: And that’s the problem. When you realize that the original temple platform built by Solomon was a 500 cubit square. Now all the sources tell us this.
Dr. Reagan: That is about 800 feet, isn’t it?
Randall Price: Eight hundred and sixty-one feet.
Dr. Reagan: Yes.
Randall Price: Alright. And then when Herod came, there is a Second Temple built by Zerubbabel after the first was destroyed, and then Herod came in and enlarged that. And in the enlargement he put the Temple right on that 500 square platform but he enlarged it on both sides. So he put a huge area in the south to serve as part of troops, and he put a larger area right in the eastern side. We have what was called at the southern end the Court of the Gentiles and it was the largest of them all. Here he had a royal stoa colonnaded structure going all the way around it to impress the Romans that was the kind of thing you did to make the Temple fit their world. And so he enlarged this on the north side he enlarged it a bit as well. If you go to the modern day eastern wall that is there it is still on the same line from the original temple times, and you can see the additions. We have what is called the seam and the bend down on the–
Dr. Reagan: What happens if you take all that and put it in the City of David?
Randall Price: Well here’s the problem just taken the 500 square cubit, if you place that over the City of David, well the City of David is basically gone. We know that what was called Area G where you have homes from the Tenth Century built after the time of David. Well they would have had to dig through the floor of the Temple to build those houses.
Dr. Reagan: The Temple would extend over the Kidron Valley, wouldn’t it?
Randall Price: Well it would have blocked the Kidron Valley. And then you have to have a whole dam to the north. And we have graves, two Judean Kings, we have many other graves all been excavated in that area they called the Silwan Village that would have extended over that as well. It is just simply impossible to have it fit that size. They make the argument that it does fit, but it does not fit.
Dr. Reagan: Well it fits in their drawings in the book because they don’t draw it to scale.
Randall Price: Right. And where would you put this trapezoid platform that Herod had? It was enlarged it would have had to go there on top of all of that. Simply impossible.
Dr. Reagan: Ok. Any other arguments you want to mention about this book?
Randall Price: Well I think it is important there are a lot of literary sources that are brought out and a lot of pilgrim accounts and things like this. It needs to be understood that they are not always correctly citing the documents, and they are not always correctly interpreting the documents. In other words when they will say that a pilgrim is looking down on the City of David, he’s not he’s actually going the opposite direction. We know that they talk about the threshing floor and they act like that would in the City of David. We talk from 2 Chronicles chapter 3:1 it tells us very clearly that “Solomon began to build the Temple on Mount Moriah on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite which his father David had bought.” And that tells us that threshing floors were always outside the city, they are always generally on higher ground. But we do know that when David took the Ark out of the city of Zion to the place where it would be he went up out of the city, out of the City of David.
Dr. Reagan: That’s right.
Randall Price: And clearly we had those designations constantly for where it was built, it is built on higher ground.
Dr. Reagan: Good points.
Randall Price: Well let’s take a break and come back and talk about where you think the Temple was actually located on the Temple Mount.
Dr. Reagan: Welcome back to Christ in Prophecy and our interview with Dr. Randall Price, who is one of Christendom’s most important experts on the Jewish Temples. Randall I want to ask you where you believe the Ancient Temples were located on the Temple Mount? Some say they were down at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, some say they were where the Dome of the Rock, some say they are north of that. What do you say?
Randall Price: Well of course what I believe is not that important, what it is important is the facts archaeologically that we have.
Dr. Reagan: Right.
Randall Price: Back in in the 1960’s and 70’s Benjamin Mazar wrote this book, he was an excavator.
Dr. Reagan: Mountain of the Lord.
Randall Price: Right. He wrote this dealing with the excavations related to the Temple at the foot of the Temple. As you may know no one can actually do archaeological excavation on the Temple Mount because that is under the control of the Islamic Waqf and this Islamic Trust maintains it in a religious sense. So they don’t want anyone for any purpose other than Islam to be there. So all the excavations have to be taken place outside of that. Now we do have the research of those who were there in the 1800’s from the British who were able to do different types of works. And we have very detailed mapping and archaeological work that they were able to do. And then we also have of course historical documents that tell us things. But in the last ten years because the Muslims decided to build in the place what we call Solomon’s Stables a new mosque, it is underground it has like 10,000 people. They excavated over 20,000 tons of archeological debris and they dumped it in the Kidron Valley. Well the Israeli’s went and said this stuff is full of important stuff.
Dr. Reagan: I love this story.
Randall Price: So over the last ten years they have been sifting through this. I’ve worked at that site many times as well as many of my students. There’s been over 6,000-7,000 coins discovered, revolt coins with the name Holy Jerusalem on it. But they have found the tiles that were in the Court of the Women which are discussed in the Talmud of what they looked like. They’ve find inscriptions. They’ve found names of Jewish individuals some connected with the Bible era. They’ve find seals. They’ve find all kinds of things. And all this directly came from the Temple Mount there is no doubt. Now if this was the Antonia Fortress or some other kind of place you wouldn’t of had these things.
Dr. Reagan: The Muslim did them a favor.
Randall Price: Yeah. Just recently in the news there’s been the publication of a seal of Hezekiah it was a bulla it was actually discovered in 2010 through the sifting project. They got it from the Ophel from Eilat Mazar by the way I’ll mention her book because she followed up her grandfather’s work on the Temple Mount. So sources like this are from direct archeological work and analysis on the site. And this seal said, “Hezekiah King of Judah.” There is no doubt the period of time or where it came from. Again it’s not in David’s City. This is in the Ophel right in the area of the Temple Mount.
As you put all the pieces together and particularly we were talking earlier in the program about, I think the last program about the different courts of the Temple, we know that they were sort of arranged in a counter-clockwise by size, the largest on the south, the next largest on the east, the next smallest on the north, and then the western had the smallest. When we have a platform and you can measure the platform and you can find the 500 cubit square, we can because of certain key locations on the Temple Mount. And then you put a Temple there in relationship to these courts we know there is only place it can go and that is the central location right about where the Dome of the Rock is today.
Down through history the rock within the dome has been thought to be the pure stone, stone which pilgrims would go in the past venerate it as the place of the Temple. Jewish history without a doubt has said that it is the only place, the place the Shekinah, the Shekinah would dwell when the Ark of the Covenant was installed there. There is even Dr. Leen Ritmeyer that believes that incised within a portion of that stone was the place where there was a base created for the Ark of the Covenant itself. And it is still there as well as parts of the retaining walls for the Holy of Holies. These kind of things. That kind of evidence.
And then also the Muslims were digging on the Temple Mount trying to lay some new electrical cable in the ground and as they did they revealed part of a wall. And while you can’t excavate there, they did and people photographed that and from that we now know this is a wall, especially with the pottery from it from the First Temple period around the time of Hezekiah. And that wall because of some of the vessels relating to the laden of oil, and things of this this is probably part of the house of oil which was in the First Temple. You can even place things, now on the Temple Mount based on some of these discoveries. So, I think there is as you mentioned a northern location championed one time by Asher Kaufman, but the problem there is you have the Bethesda Valley that was covered over. But at the time of the First Temple it would have fallen into it.
Dr. Reagan: So what you are saying basically is that you believe that the Temple location the First and Second Temples were located where the Dome of the Rock is today in that area.
Randall Price: Yes. Yes.
Dr. Reagan: Ok. Well folks I’m sorry to say that our time is up. I have many other questions I would like to ask him but we just don’t have the time. I want to thank you Randall for being with us today. I appreciate you taking out from your very busy schedule. Folks that’s it, until next week same time, same place, hope you’ll be back with us. This is Dave Reagan speaking for Lamb and Lion Ministries saying, “Look up, be watchful, for our redemption is drawing near.”
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