Dr. Reagan: The Eastern Gate, also called the Beautiful Gate or the Golden Gate, is not only significant in Bible prophecy, but it also plays a key role in a debate that literally rages among archaeologists. That debate concerns the location of the ancient Jewish Temple.
The majority viewpoint today is that the Jewish Temple was located on the Temple Mount where the Dome of the Rock currently sits. But, no one knows for sure where the ancient Temple was located, because the Temple Mount is under the administration of Muslims, and they will not allow any excavations.
The main reason the Dome of the Rock location is the accepted position or location is because the Dome sits directly over an out-cropping of bedrock where there is a drainage system for blood. Thus, it is obviously an ancient altar.
Those who disagree with the Dome as the proposed location of the Temple point to the Eastern Gate as evidence that the Temple was really located about 250 feet north of the Dome of the Rock. They emphasize the fact that every year a red heifer was sacrificed on the Mount of Olives across the valley and then burned to get ashes for the purification of the Temple Mount. The Dead Sea Scrolls say that when the red heifer was sacrificed, the High Priest stood on the steps of the Temple and looked directly over the Eastern Gate to the pinnacle of the Mount of Olives. That would, of course, place the Temple to the north of the Dome of the Rock.
Back to those who believe the Temple was located where the Dome sits, they've always argued that the Eastern Gate must have been moved to the north after the many destructions of the city of Jerusalem. But, in 1969, evidence was accidently discovered that proved the current Eastern Gate is located directly over the ancient gate. In 1969, an American student named Jim Fleming, who later became a renowned teacher of biblical archaeology, accidently discovered that the ancient Eastern Gate is located directly beneath this one.
Jim was a student in Jerusalem in 1969 when he decided to come over one morning and photograph the Eastern gate. It had been raining for like three days and the ground became very soft. The limestone coverings on the tombs had absorbed a lot of water, and so when Jim got ready to photograph, he climbed up on one of those tombs and the limestone gave way. He fell eight feet into a mass grave. Now, I don't know about you, but if that had been me, I would have climbed on air to get out! Jim realized he had a great opportunity, and so he whipped out his camera which had a flash on it, and he started photographing in a circle. Later on when the film was developed, the picture he took looking directly at the wall showed the tops of the arches of the ancient Eastern Gate sticking up above the skulls and bones of the mass grave. Now the world knows for certain that the Eastern Gate was located directly underneath the currently closed one.
Now that we know that the ancient Eastern Gate was located directly beneath the current gate, the argument that the Temple might have been located some 250 feet north of the Dome of the Rock is a much a stronger argument. Of course, it's not proved, but it makes the argument much stronger. If so, that means the Jewish Temple could be rebuilt without touching the Dome of the Rock, and the Dome of the Rock would be actually located in the spot where the Court of the Gentiles would have been.
It's going to be interesting to see how that all plays out.
In the fourth segment of our study of the Gate to Prophecy, Nathan Jones and I will interview Biblical Archaeologist Dr. James Fleming about his discover of the original Eastern Gate.