The Lost Temples Found Part 4 – The Second Temple and an Ever-flowing Spring – Location, Location, Location

In Thessalonians 2:3-4  Paul writes “Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God.” Jesus in Matthew 24:15-16 warns “So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.” For these events to happen there needs to be a Third Temple in Jerusalem, yet with the Muslims controlling what is almost universally accepted today as the Temple Mount by Jews and Christians and the Haram al-Sharif by Muslims, how can a Third Jewish Temple be built? However, what if this was not the case? What if the temple was located elsewhere? The truth could affect the location of a future third temple. The very temple where the Antichrist will profane could then be built.

The Letter of Aristeas

“The Temple faces the east and its back is toward the west. The whole of the floor is paved with stones and slopes down to the appointed places, that water may be conveyed to wash away the blood from the sacrifices, for many thousand beasts are sacrificed there on the feast days. And there is an inexhaustible supply of water, because an abundant natural spring gushes up from within the temple area. There are moreover wonderful and indescribable cisterns underground, as they pointed out to me, at a distance of five furlongs (5/8 mile) all round the site of the temple, and each of them has countless pipes so that the different streams converge together. And all these were fastened with lead at the bottom and at the sidewalls, and over them a great quantity of plaster had been spread, and every part of the work had been most carefully carried out. There are many openings for water at the base of the altar which are invisible to all except to those who are engaged in the ministration, so that all the blood of the sacrifices which is collected in great quantities is washed away in the twinkling of an eye. Such is my opinion with regard to the character of the reservoirs and I will now show you how it was confirmed. They led me more than four furlongs (1/2 mile) outside the city and bade me peer down towards a certain spot and listen to the noise that was made by the meeting of the waters, so that the great size of the reservoirs became manifest to me, as has already been pointed out.” [1]

Tacitus: Historiae

“The temple was built like a citadel, with walls of its own, which were constructed with more care and effort than any of the rest; the very colonnades about the temple made a splendid defense. Within the enclosure is an ever-flowing spring.” [Histories (Latin: Historiae) is a Roman historical chronicle by Tacitus. Written c. 100–110, it covers the Year of Four Emperors following the downfall of Nero, as well as the period between the rise of the Flavian Dynasty (69–96) under Vespasian and the death of Domitian.][2]

Need for Inexhaustible Supply of Water

The practice and rituals of Passover reveal much about the amount of blood sacrifices that occurred during the Passover. “The sacrificial service took place in the courtyard of the Temple at Jerusalem. Strictly speaking, slaughtering could be performed by a layman, but in practice was performed by priests. The blood had to be collected by a priest, and rows of priests with gold or silver cups in their hands stood in line from the Temple court to the altar, where the blood was sprinkled. These cups were rounded on the bottom, so that they could not be set down; for in that case the blood might coagulate. The priest who caught the blood as it dropped from the animal then handed the cup to the priest next to him, receiving from him an empty one, and the full cup was passed along the line until it reached the last priest, who sprinkled its contents on the altar. The lamb was then hung upon special hooks or sticks and skinned; but if the eve of the Passover fell on a Sabbath, the skin was removed down to the breast only. The abdomen was then cut open, and the fatty portions intended for the altar were taken out, placed in a vessel, salted, and offered by the priest on the altar, while the remaining entrails likewise were taken out and cleansed.” [3]

When the Second Temple was completed in 515 BCE, the entire biblical ritual of Passover was restored. Priests and Levites slaughtered the paschal offerings[4] for the returning Jews of the Babylonian captivity. The new community “kept the festival of Matzot seven days with joy, for God had made them joyful…” (Ezra 6:22). The historian Josephus records contemporary Passover celebrations in which he estimates that the participants who gathered in Jerusalem to perform the sacrifice in the year 65 AD were “not less than three million”.[5]

The Talmud[6] records: “The Sages taught: Once, King Agrippa wished to set his eyes on the multitudes [ukhlosin] of Israel to know how many they were. He said to the High Priest: Set your eyes on the Paschal lambs; count how many animals are brought in order to approximate the number of people. The High Priest took a kidney from each one, as the kidneys are burned on the altar, and six hundred thousand pairs of kidneys were found there, double the number of those who left Egypt. This did not reflect the sum total of the Jewish people, as it excluded those who were ritually impure or at a great distance, who did not come to offer the sacrifice. Furthermore, this was a count of the Paschal lambs and not of the people, and there was not a single Paschal lamb that did not have more than ten people registered for it. They called that Passover the Passover of the crowded, due to the large number of people.”[7]

Aristeas bore witness that in the Temple there was “an inexhaustible supply of water, because an abundant natural spring gushes up from within the temple area.” It gushed up within the Temple! It gushed up from the Gihon Spring which means “gushing”. It is only spring of water that issued from the ground within a five-mile radius of Jerusalem. The Canaanites would never have built Jerusalem in the first place if it was not for this source of fresh water. With the water requirements of the animal sacrifices, especially during Passover any Temple would have been built over a “Gushing” Spring. The enormity of the crowds in Jerusalem shows the enormity of the amount of lambs or goats that were sacrificed. Each family or society offered one animal together, and as stated above the Talmud records six hundred thousand pairs of kidneys belonging to a requisite amount of lambs. This in an enormous amount of blood that needed to be cleansed from the Temple. With the Temple’s requirement for the necessary water supply to cleanse the Temple of the blood of the sacrificed it would not have made sense to build the Temple one third of a mile north where the traditional Temple Mount sits currently.

Need for Security of God’s Temple

The temple was also a fortress, and fortresses must be built where water can be made accessible for a large number of troops. Tacitus, as cited above, stated “The temple was built like a citadel, with walls of its own, which were constructed with more care and effort than any of the rest; the very colonnades about the temple made a splendid defense.”

Excavations around the Gihon Spring in the City of David uncovered a massive 3,800-year-old fortress. Called the “Spring Citadel” by archaeologists, the discovery, concluding in 2004, was part of a 19-year excavation led by Professor Ronny Reich of the University of Haifa and Eli Shukron of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

This enormous 18th-century B.C.E. structure that isolates and protects the Gihon Spring is believed to be the fortress described in the Book of Samuel that King David conquered:

“And the king and his men went to Jerusalem against the Jebusites, the inhabitants of the land, who said to David, “You will not come in here, but the blind and the lame will ward you off” – thinking, “It is impossible for David to breach our defenses.” Nevertheless, David took the stronghold of Zion, that is, the city of David. And David said on that day, “Whoever would strike the Jebusites, let him get up the water shaft to attack ‘the lame and the blind,’ who are hated by David’s soul.” Therefore it is said, “The blind and the lame shall not come into the house.” 2 Samuel 5:6-8

The Jebusites, as 2 Samuel 5:6-7 tells us, were so confident in their defense against David’s attack that they even taunted the mighty king, saying the blind and lame could sufficiently defend the city. This angered David. David responded by saying that those of his men wishing to attack the city should reach, or perhaps climb, the tsinnor, translated in the ESV as water shaft, and they would be able to attack the lame and the blind (2 Samuel 5:6–8). A parallel account of the attack in 1 Chronicles tells us: “And David and all Israel went to Jerusalem, that is, Jebus, where the Jebusites were, the inhabitants of the land. The inhabitants of Jebus said to David, “You will not come in here.” Nevertheless, David took the stronghold of Zion, that is, the city of David. David said, “Whoever strikes the Jebusites first shall be chief and commander.” And Joab the son of Zeruiah went up first, so he became chief. And David lived in the stronghold; therefore it was called the city of David. (1 Chronicles 11:4–7).

The word tsinnor is key here. After a careful analysis of the word’s use elsewhere in the Bible and in classical Hebrew, Dr. Terence Kleven, professor of Jewish history at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, has concluded that tsinnor should be translated as a conduit for water or a water shaft. Joab first entered the city by accessing a hidden, narrow corridor in the underground water channels where the Gihon Spring flowed that we now refer to as Hezekiah’s Tunnel. After scaling a vertical shaft into the city, Joab leads those that followed him and opened the city gates where David’s troops flooded the city and captured it.

David wants to build a Temple –  But God says no – 2 Samuel 7

King David was living in his palace, and the Lord had given him peace from all his enemies around him. Then David said to Nathan the prophet, “Look, I am living in a palace made of cedar wood, but the Ark of God is in a tent!”

Nathan said to the king, “Go and do what you really want to do, because the Lord is with you.”

But that night the Lord spoke his word to Nathan, “Go and tell my servant David, ‘This is what the Lord says: Will you build a house for me to live in? From the time I brought the Israelites out of Egypt until now I have not lived in a house. I have been moving around all this time with a tent as my home. As I have moved with the Israelites, I have never said to the tribes, whom I commanded to take care of my people Israel, “Why haven’t you built me a house of cedar?”’

“You must tell my servant David, ‘This is what the Lord All-Powerful says: I took you from the pasture and from tending the sheep and made you leader of my people Israel. I have been with you everywhere you have gone and have defeated your enemies for you. I will make you as famous as any of the great people on the earth. 10 Also I will choose a place for my people Israel, and I will plant them so they can live in their own homes. They will not be bothered anymore. Wicked people will no longer bother them as they have in the past 11 when I chose judges for my people Israel. But I will give you peace from all your enemies. I also tell you that I will make your descendants kings of Israel after you.

12 “‘When you die and join your ancestors, I will make one of your sons the next king, and I will set up his kingdom. 13 He will build a house for me, and I will let his kingdom rule always. 14 I will be his father, and he will be my son. When he sins, I will use other people to punish him. They will be my whips. 15 I took away my love from Saul, whom I removed before you, but I will never stop loving your son. 16 But your family and your kingdom will continue always before me. Your throne will last forever.’”

17 Nathan told David everything God had said in this vision.

David’s Tabernacle, the Ark of the Covenant and Gihon

Without Joab entering Jerusalem as he did the city would have been impregnable. This area was a strategic fortification that guarded the city and more importantly the water supply of the city and David knew that.  This fortification is the massive 3,800-year-old fortress referenced above which was discovered in 2004 as part of the 19-year excavation led by Professor Ronny Reich of the University of Haifa and Eli Shukron of the Israel Antiquities Authority. Now in control of Jerusalem David desired to restore the worship of the Lord to the people of Jerusalem so:

“David again gathered all the chosen men of Israel—thirty thousand of them. Then he and all his people went to Baalah in Judah to bring back the Ark of God. The Ark is called by the Name, the name of the Lord All-Powerful, whose throne is between the gold creatures with wings. They put the Ark of God on a new cart and brought it out of Abinadab’s house on the hill. Uzzah and Ahio, sons of Abinadab, led the new cart which had the Ark of God on it. Ahio was walking in front of it. David and all the Israelites were celebrating in the presence of the Lord. They were playing wooden instruments: lyres, harps, tambourines, rattles, and cymbals. 15 David and all the Israelites shouted with joy and blew the trumpets as they brought the Ark of the Lord to the city. 17 David put up a tent for the Ark of the Lord, and then the Israelites put it in its place inside the tent. David offered whole burnt offerings and fellowship offerings before the Lord18 When David finished offering the whole burnt offerings and the fellowship offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the Lord All-Powerful.” (2 Samuel 6:1-5,15,17-18)

James J. Tissot, ‘David Dances before the Ark’ (1896-1902), gouache on board, The Jewish Museum, New York.

A fortified area obviously was integral in David’s decision when he brought the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem.  1 Chronicles 16:1 tells us David “brought in the ark of God and set it inside the tent that David had pitched for it, and they offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before God.” For the next 27 years of David’s reign (and for the first eleven years of Solomon – that is, for 38 years) the Ark remained in this particular tent at and over the Gihon Spring. When Solomon was anointed king “Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and the Cherethites and the Pelethites went down and had Solomon ride on King David’s mule and brought him to Gihon. There Zadok the priest took the horn of oil from the tent and anointed Solomon.” (1 Kings 1:38-39)

David Gives Solomon the Plans for the Temple

10 Be careful now, for the Lord has chosen you to build a house for the sanctuary; be strong and do it.”

11 Then David gave Solomon his son the plan of the vestibule of the temple, and of its houses, its treasuries, its upper rooms, and its inner chambers, and of the room for the mercy seat; 12 and the plan of all that he had in mind for the courts of the house of the Lord, all the surrounding chambers, the treasuries of the house of God, and the treasuries for dedicated gifts; 13 for the divisions of the priests and of the Levites, and all the work of the service in the house of the Lord; for all the vessels for the service in the house of the Lord, 14 the weight of gold for all golden vessels for each service, the weight of silver vessels for each service, 15 the weight of the golden lampstands and their lamps, the weight of gold for each lampstand and its lamps, the weight of silver for a lampstand and its lamps, according to the use of each lampstand in the service, 16 the weight of gold for each table for the showbread, the silver for the silver tables, 17 and pure gold for the forks, the basins and the cups; for the golden bowls and the weight of each; for the silver bowls and the weight of each; 18 for the altar of incense made of refined gold, and its weight; also his plan for the golden chariot of the cherubim that spread their wings and covered the ark of the covenant of the Lord.19 “All this he made clear to me in writing from the hand of the Lord, all the work to be done according to the plan.”

20 Then David said to Solomon his son, “Be strong and courageous and do it. Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed, for the Lord God, even my God, is with you. He will not leave you or forsake you, until all the work for the service of the house of the Lord is finished. 21 And behold the divisions of the priests and the Levites for all the service of the house of God; and with you in all the work will be every willing man who has skill for any kind of service; also the officers and all the people will be wholly at your command.” (1 Chronicles 28:10-21)

When the temple is finished and the Ark of the Covenant is brought into it Solomon then “stood before the altar of the Lord in the presence of all the assembly of Israel and spread out his hands toward heaven, 23 and said, “O Lord, God of Israel, there is no God like you, in heaven above or on earth beneath, keeping covenant and showing steadfast love to your servants who walk before you with all their heart.” (1 Kings 8:22-23)

Solomon Dedicates the Temple at Jerusalem, c. 1896-1902, by James Jacques Joseph Tissot

Solomon’s temple was the place where “The Lord sits enthroned over the flood; the Lord sits enthroned as king forever.” (Psalm 29:10). “The voice of the Lord is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the Lord, over many waters.” (Psalm 29:3). The Psalmist’s flood was the abundant natural spring gushing up from within the temple area that Aristeas saw in the Second Temple. The gushing fountain of water pouring tons of water through Hezekiah’s tunnel every minute under the temple. This was the “river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. (Psalm 46:4) The habitation of the Most High was the Temple positioned near the streams. The Gihon was a siphon-type karst spring fed by groundwater that accumulates in a subterranean cave. Each time that space fills to the brim it gushes forth. That is what Aristeas saw. That is why the Temple was built over the Gihon Spring. If the Temple had been built further north at the traditionally accepted site of the Temples this massive supply of water gushing forth would not be possible. It is about time that the true location of the lost temples of Jerusalem is acknowledged to be south of the traditional Temple Mount which is actually a Roman fort.

[1] The Letter Of Aristeas, R.H. Charles-Editor, Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1913

[2] The Histories of Tacitus published in Vol. III of the Loeb Classical Library edition of Tacitus, 1931  p175  Book V:12.1

[3] Shargai, Nadav; Barkat, Amiram (2007-02-04), Haaretz

[4] The Passover sacrifice (Hebrew: קרבן פסח Korban Pesakh), also known as the “sacrifice of Passover”, the Paschal Lamb, or the Passover Lamb, is the sacrifice that the Torah mandates the Israelites to ritually slaughter on the evening of Passover, and eat on the first night of the holiday with bitter herbs and matzo. According to the Torah, it was first offered on the night of the Exodus from Egypt. Although practiced by Jews in ancient times, the sacrifice is today only practiced by Samaritans at Mount Gerizim.

[5] Josephus, Wars, 2:280

[6] The body of Jewish civil and ceremonial law and legend comprising the Mishnah and the Gemara.

[7] Talmud (Pesachim 64b)


Map of Jerusalem Reworked

First in the Series – Jerusalem 70 AD: Not One Stone Left upon Another

Second in the Series – Fortress Antonia and the Jewish Expectations of a Great Military Leader 

Third in the Series – The Lost Temples Found – Jerusalem Pilgrims and What They Saw

Fifth in the Series – The Abomination of Desolation Standing in the Holy Place

Sixth in the Series – Attempts to Rebuild and Current Plans to Rebuild

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