I have been receiving a lot of inquiries recently concerning a book written by Robert Cornuke that is simply titled, Temple.1 The sub-title is, "Amazing New Discoveries That Change Everything About The Location Of Solomon's Temple," which reads like a Madison Avenue advertising slogan.
The thesis of this book is startling. It asserts that the Jewish Temples (Solomon's and Herod's) were located south of the Temple Mount in the ancient City of David and that the entire Temple Mount was the Antonia Fortress where Roman troops were garrisoned.
The author, Robert Cornuke, touts himself as a "former FBI-trained police investigator."2
Before I take a look at his arguments in behalf of his radical thesis, let's take a look at the city of Jerusalem and its historical development.
The diagram below shows what the Old City (the walled city) of Jerusalem looks like today.
The walls you see on this diagram were built by Suleiman the Magnificent between 1537 and 1541. The walls did not enclose Mount Zion which is located directly south of the Armenian Quarter, despite the fact that the Mount had always been included within the walls in previous years.
The story is the two architects of the walls cheated on the job and pocketed the money that should have been spent on the construction of the walls to encompass Mount Zion. They were executed for doing so, and their tomb can be seen today just inside the Jaffa Gate.3
What comes as a surprise to contemporary pilgrims is that none of the ancient City of David, the original Jerusalem, is enclosed within the walls as they exist today. That tiny Jebusite village that David conquered consisted of a little finger of elevated land of only 13 acres that was located directly south of the Temple Mount. Its exact location in relation to the Old City that exists today is indicated in figure 2 below.
The Bible says that in anticipation of building a temple, King David bought a threshing floor to serve as its site (2 Samuel 24:24). The traditional, historical and archaeological views have been that the threshing floor was located immediately north of the City of David on a much higher elevation called Mount Moriah. It is the opinion of most biblical scholars that this area on top of Mount Moriah, called the Temple Mount, is where Solomon's Temple was built.
Solomon's Temple was destroyed in 587 BC by the Babylonians who took the surviving Jews into captivity. Seventy years later, the Jews returned to Jerusalem and rebuilt what is known as The Second Temple. According to Ezra 3:10-13 this was a much less elaborate temple than the one that Solomon had built, due to the poverty of the returning refugees.
Five hundred years later in about 20 BC, King Herod the Great decided to magnify the beauty of this temple. Part of his plan was to enlarge the Temple Mount platform. To do so, he built an incredible retaining wall all around the mount and filled it with dirt to produce a very large, level platform of 36 acres. The sacrifices continued in the Temple courtyard throughout this construction process, and therefore, Herod's Temple continued to be known as The Second Temple.
Herod's Temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD, and the Temple Mount stood vacant until the late 7th Century when a Muslim shrine, called the Dome of the Rock, was built by the Umayyad Caliph, Abd al-Malik. It was completed in 691 AD. It was supposedly built on the site of the Jewish Temple and was therefore considered to be a symbol of the triumph of Islam over Judaism. It was also considered to be a symbol of Islam's triumph over Christianity since it stood higher than the nearby Church of the Holy Sepulcher.
In the early 8th Century an Islamic house of worship was built at the southern end of the Temple Mount, called the Al- Aqsa Mosque. Today, the Temple Mount looks like the diagram in figure 3.
In 1967, at the end of the Six Day War, the Israelis conquered the Old City and gained sovereignty over the Temple Mount for the first time in almost 1,900 years. But in order to placate the Muslim masses, Moshe Dayan, the Israeli Defense Minister, immediately announced that the Muslims would be given administrative control over the Mount.
So, today, the Muslims control the Temple Mount although Israel retains sovereignty over it. Because of the Muslim control, no archaeological research is allowed. The Israelis have dug up the area to the south of the Temple Mount and have revealed the steps leading up to the entrance gates to the Mount that were used by the general public at the time of Christ. They have also uncovered huge mikvahs (baptismal pools) that were used for ceremonial cleansing before entering the Temple complex.
Because the Temple Mount is under Muslim control, and because the Muslims are intolerant of all other religions, there are strict rules of conduct for those who are allowed on the Temple Mount. Men and women cannot hold hands. No Bible reading is allowed, and groups are not allowed to pray.
In the second segment, I'll analyze Robert Cornuke's claim that the Jewish temples resided in the City of David.
1) Robert Cornuke, Temple: Amazing New Discoveries That Change Everything About The Location of Solomon’s Temple (Charlotte, NC: LifeBridge Books, 2014).
2) Ibid., back cover.
3) Galyn Wiemers, "Temple Mount of Solomon," www.generationword.com/jerusalem101/21-temple-mount-of-solomon.html.