Remnants of an olive press carved into the bedrock of an ancient temple under the City of David .

The Jewish Temple that may Prevent World War III

Israel is the most contested piece of real estate in the world. And the most contested piece of real estate within Israel is the temple mount in the old city of Jerusalem. Nearly every Jew believes that the Muslim Dome of the Rock, which dominates that thirty-six acre site, sits on the spot of all previous Jewish Temples, including the last one destroyed by the Romans in 70 A.D. Some Jews and Christians believe that the temple must be and will be rebuilt on that spot. Therein lies the problem. Can you think of a faster way to start World War III?

Thankfully, new evidence is just coming to light that might reveal a more peaceful solution. The Jewish Temple may not have been on the Temple Mount but just outside the current walls of the old city. I had the privilege of seeing this evidence several days ago along with a few others participating on our CrossExamined.org trip to Israel. Our guide was the man who uncovered the new evidence: Israeli archaeologist Eli Shukron.

Eli Shukron and Frank Turek outside the Western Wall at the Temple Mount, about 1,000 feet north of the City of David site.

Eli Shukron and Frank Turek outside the Western Wall at the Temple Mount, about 1,000 feet north of the City of David site.

Since 1995, Shukron has been digging up the twelve-acre area called the City of David that juts out from the southern wall of the old city of Jerusalem. He and his team have removed thousands of tones of dirt to discover, among other things, the Pool of Siloam where Jesus healed a blind person (John 9:7), and the once impenetrable fortress of the Jebusites that David and his men captured by sneaking up an underground water shaft (2 Sam 5:7-8).

Near that water shaft, about 1,000 feet south of the Temple Mount, Shukron discovered the remains of an ancient temple just a few feet from the Gihon Spring. Shukron led us about forty feet underground into the well-secured area. As the lead archaeologist, only he has the key. The excavated area is down to bedrock, which means there was no civilization below it.

The site has grooves cut into that bedrock for an olive press and sacrifice tables, and loops cut into the walls presumably to secure animals. Slightly uphill and to the left of the olive press is a long channel cut into the floor most likely designed to drain off blood. Behind it Shukron unlocked a steel box he had built to protect something on the floor. As he swung the doors open, we saw an ancient upright stone (called a “stele”) surrounded by a foundation of smaller stones.

Close up of the only Jewish stele found in Jerusalem (for biblical references to steles see Gen. 28:18, 31:45, 35:14, Josh. 24:26, 1 Sam. 8:12).

Close up of the only Jewish stele found in Jerusalem (for biblical references to steles see Gen. 28:18, 31:45, 35:14, Josh. 24:26, 1 Sam. 8:12).

“The Bible says Jacob took a stone and put small stones around it, and then put olive oil on top of that stone.” Shukron told me, referring to the stele Jacob erected in the town of Bethel (Genesis 28:18). “It is a connection between Jacob and God—the relationship between them.” Indeed, Jacob called the place he made, “God’s house.”

The Jews were known to set up stele to commemorate interactions with God (Gen. 28:18, 31:45, 35:14, Josh. 24:26, 1 Sam. 8:12). But according to Shukron, the stele he discovered is the only one ever found in Jerusalem. Could it mark the actual site of the real Jewish temple—God’s house?

“It certainly was a temple from the first temple period (circa 970-586 B.C.),” Shukron said. “But Solomon’s temple was on the Temple Mount.”

When I asked him what archeological evidence exists for the Temple Mount site, he offered very little in response. Perhaps the paucity of evidence is due to the political realities that prevent much digging there. On the other hand, quite a compelling case can be made for Solomon’s Temple being at Shukron’s site.

My co-host on the trip, Bob Cornuke, makes that case in a fascinating new book called Temple: Amazing New Discoveries that Change Everything About the Location of Solomon’s Temple. Cornuke picks up on the research of the late archaeologist, Ernest L. Martin, who in 1997 suggested that the biblical text and eyewitness evidence from the first century all point to the City of David as the actual temple location. Now there appears to be quite specific archaeological evidence as well. Cornuke and Shukron have been discussing this evidence for the better part of the last year. There are even a couple of pictures in Cornuke’s book from Shukron’s site. You can see those pictures and some of my own here.

Eli Shukron (right) reviews details of a temple he discovered 40 feet under the City of David with Bob Cornuke, author of the new book, "Temple."

Eli Shukron (right) reviews details of a temple he discovered 40 feet under the City of David with Bob Cornuke, author of the new book, “Temple.”

So why isn’t Shukron suggesting his site is where the temple was? If true, it would be the greatest archaeological discovery of all time! I had dinner with Eli, Bob and a couple of others to discuss that question.

First, there is the weight of the consensus site. If the true site is actually in the City of David, just how did the Temple Mount become the dominant site in the first place? Cornuke provides some plausible historical answers in his book. He also shows the text of the Bible and other historical witnesses seem to point to the City of David. Nevertheless, maybe the general consensus in favor of the Temple Mount is correct.

Second, as a noted Israeli archaeologist, Shukron would need to evaluate more of the evidence and the opinions of his colleagues before he would ever entertain making a shift on such a monumental question. The Temple Mount is so entrenched in tradition, politics, and Jewish identity—the Western Wall being the holiest Jewish site for prayer—that any shift in opinion would be met with great resistance. It’s not a shift one should make overnight.

However, Shukron is open to the possibility. He told us that the location of the Temple is certainly a topic worthy of debate. That debate could be ratcheted up when he presents his findings to a group of archaeologists at a conference in Jerusalem at the end of July.

If it’s not Solomon’s Temple, then whose Temple did Shukron discover? When I asked him that question, he just said, “we’ll see.” Is it possible his site could be the game-changing discovery that prevents World War III (at least until Armageddon)? We’ll see indeed.

In the meantime, I highly recommend you get Cornuke’s book to start your research into this politically explosive and fascinating question. He’s also available for questions at Bob@BaseInstitute.org. If you’d like to see the archaeological remains of the City of David and any other area of Israel, Eli Shukron provides an outstanding tour. Contact him at EliShu29@gmail.com.

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14 replies
  1. Luke says:

    >Many Jews and Christians believe that the temple must be and will be rebuilt on that spot.

    I really don’t think most Jews would put it this way. I don’t think your understanding is wrong, but I think your language might be understood in a way you didn’t intend.

    I think one reading this could think you to be saying that most Jews think we really need to buy a few bulldozers and some concrete and get this thing done. We could be done by fall if it wasn’t for that darn Qubbat As-Sakhrah. (Again, I don’t think that’s what you intend to say, but it could easily be read this way, in my humble opinion.)

    I think it might be better to say that many orthodox and conservative Jews think the temple will be rebuilt. While there are those who advocate for contemporary rebuilding efforts, they are a distinct minority.

    I’m short on time, so I’ll simply quote wikipedia (article title: Third Temple):

    Orthodox scholars and rabbinic authorities generally believe that rebuilding should occur in the era of the Jewish Messiah at the hand of Divine Providence, although a minority position, following the opinion of Maimonides, holds that Jews should endeavour to rebuild the temple themselves, whenever possible.

    Reform and Reconstructionist Judaism do not believe in the rebuilding of a central Temple or a restoration of Temple sacrifices or worship.

    I cannot speak with any authority on the view of Christians on this, but I am honestly surprised that this is a widely held view among Christians, between the superseded need for animal sacrifices and the torn curtain, I’m not really sure what the need would be, but I would love to know more about this. (I like being surprised and finding out I’m wrong about something, so please — lecture away!)

    Thanks,

    Luke

    Reply
    • Frank Kovach says:

      I’m NO expert, but I believe that the general view among Christians isn’t that the Temple SHOULD be rebuilt, as in it would be a good thing to restore the ancient practices of animal sacrifice to atone for sin, but that prophetic passages regarding end times seem to indicate that eventually the Temple will be rebuilt by Jews who want to restore ancient Judaism. Animal sacrifices will do nothing for anybody now that we have Christ, but since the Jews, generally speaking as a people group, reject Christ as the Messiah, would technically have never stopped the practice of the sacrificial system if not for the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D. They have just been on a 2000 year hiatus. Many scholars believe that one of the key signs of end times being near will be the reconstruction of a Temple in Jerusalem, hence the interest in exactly where that temple might be built.

      Reply
  2. Luke says:

    The first paragraph was intended to be a citation of Dr. Turek. I’m not really sure how the tags work, I guess. Sorry for that.

    Reply
  3. David Sielaff says:

    The facts on this matter must be corrected. Dr. Martin’s name is Dr. ERNEST L. Martin. Bob spells it wrong in his book, but has it correct in another place. To be sure, Bob often recognizes and praises Dr. Martin’s work. Dr. Martin began research on this subject and first published his findings in 1997 (not in the 1970s). He published his book on the subject, THE TEMPLES THAT JERUSALEM FORGOT (Portland, OR: ASK publications, 2000). Yes, that is 14 years ago. Professor George Wesley Buchanan published on this same subject in 2001. Welcome to the club Frank and Bob. Obviously several people have done incomplete literature searches for THEIR research. I took over Dr. Martin’s work upon his death in January 2002 and have maintained and expanded upon his research, much of which is available for free on askelm.com. I would have been happy to cooperate with anyone who can help promote this subject.
    I am very pleased that Dr. Shukron has come as far as he has in his understanding. Other archaeologists are aware of Dr. Martin’s understanding, but have thus far been unwilling to go against tradition.. A groundswell of this true understanding is beginning. I challenge anyone to state: what is the evidence that ANY Temple was EVER on the Al Aqsa Mosque Platform, the Harem esh-Sharif, the so-called “temple mount”?

    Reply
    • Joshua says:

      Frank, do get in touch with David Sielaff, the author of the message above. I’ve read ASK materials for years and seen more than one person use Dr. Martin’s material or conclusions without giving him any credit. So thank you for actually mentioning his name!

      Why not invite David onto your show to talk about the true site of the temples?

      Reply
  4. Luke says:

    On my question about the “many Christians”… here’s a better way of describing why I’m puzzled by this. Jesus promised to rebuild the temple in 3 days. Christians believe He did!

    It seems odd to me that many people would be saying “hey guys, we should really do that thing Jesus already did for us!”

    I’m sure I’m missing something and I’m excited to find out what it is.

    Many thanks again!

    Luke

    Reply
    • Frank Turek says:

      Hi Luke,

      This is an excellent question and one that has varied opinions among Christians. There are several orthodox views of eschatology, which have an implications on temples 5 and 6 below. This excerpt from the Nelson’s Complete Book of Bible Charts and Maps nicely sums up the different temples to which the Bible may be referring depending on the passage:

      (1) Solomon’s Temple. The construction of this temple by Solomon was a fulfillment of David’s desire to build a “house for the LORD”—a desire which he was never to realize in his lifetime (2 Sam. 7:1–29). The temple was built after the death of David and dedicated by his son (1 Kin. 8:1ff). This temple was destroyed by the armies of Nebuchadnezzar at the fall of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. (Jer. 32:28–44).

      (2) Zerubbabel’s Temple. This is the one under construction during the ministry of the prophet Zechariah. It was completed and dedicated in 516 B.C. (Ezra 6:1–22). It was constructed under the direction of Zerubbabel (Ezra 3:1–8; 4:1–14) who was a descendant of David (1 Chr. 3:19). This temple was desecrated in 169 B.C. by Antiochus Epiphanes.

      (3) Herod’s Temple. Restoration of Zerubbabel’s temple began in 19 B.C. under the administration of Herod the Great. The temple was nearing completion in A.D. 70, after nearly 90 years of renovation and enlargement, when it was destroyed by the Romans. Since this time there has been no temple in Jerusalem.

      (4) The Present Temple. There is a temple in which the Lord reigns at present. According to 1 Cor. 6:19 and 2 Cor. 6:16–18 the present temple of the Lord is the heart of the believer. There the Lord reigns until the day when the Messiah will return and set up His earthly kingdom and the millennial temple.

      (5) The Temple of Revelation 11. This temple will be constructed during the Tribulation by the Antichrist. It is mentioned in 2 Thess. 2:4 as the site for the abomination of desolation mentioned by Daniel the prophet (Dan. 9:2) and Jesus (Matt. 24:15). This temple will be destroyed with the kingdom of the Antichrist (see Rev. 17; 18).

      (6) The Millennial Temple. This is the temple that is described in detail in Ezek. 40:1—42:20. It is this temple that the prophet Zechariah has in view in 6:12, 13. It will be built by the Messiah Himself, who will rule in it as the righteous Priest-King of His own millennial kingdom (6:13).

      (7) The Eternal Temple of His Presence. This temple is presented in Rev. 21:22. John says there will be no physical temple in the eternal kingdom because “… the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.” This temple will be the greatest of all and it will be the focus of the eternal kingdom as it is presented in Rev. 21:22.

      Nelson, Thomas (2010-01-19). Nelson’s Complete Book of Bible Maps and Charts, 3rd Edition (Kindle Locations 4036-4058). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.

      Reply
  5. Mark says:

    This actually fits with the location of the temple as described by Josephus. He reported that a spring issued forth from under the corner of the temple. Also, the raised stone that juts out above the surface of the “temple mount” is not described as being anywhere in the temple, but in Pilate’s hall.

    Reply
  6. Greg says:

    Why does a god who Jesus said would neither be worshipped “in this mountain nor in Jerusalem” need a city (Jerusalem no less) and temple in which to be worshipped at some future date? Seems like John’s revelation is in contradiction to Jesus’ statement to the Samaritan woman in John 4:23. But one thing we can be sure John’s Revelation will do, contribute to future, senseless violence over Jerusalem. What can god possibly gain from all this fighting over sand? Do these writings not appear to you guys to be simply the writings of men?

    Reply
  7. Chris Buscemi says:

    Who said,” not one stone would be left upon another”as He spoke of its (the second temple) utter destruction ? Literal or figurative ???

    Reply
  8. Raleigh says:

    Frank. You are someone I respect greatly and have benefited from your work and material immensely. In regards to the temple location we need only look to 2 Chronicles 3:1 and 2 Chronicles 5:2. Solomon built the first temple on Mt Moriah as clearly read in 3:1. In 5:2 we see that the Ark is brought up from the City of David to the Temple. The only place up from the city of David is Mt Moriah. There are many other problems with Mr Kornuk’s conclusions but since the entire premise rests on this central point I’m not sure they need be addressed.

    Reply
  9. Perry says:

    I wholeheartedly support David Sielaff’s point July 2, 2014 at 6:10 pm. I would also draw attention to his commentary published on 17th December last year in which amongst others, he praises Matilyn Sam’s 2014 book titled “The Jerusalem Temple Mount Myth”. It’s an e-book & not expensive. http://www.askelm.com/news/n151217.pdf

    Leen Ritmeyer drew my attention to her work by being a touch snarky over the article published in Popular Archaeology. http://popular-archaeology.com/issue/june-2013/article/wailing-at-the-wrong-wall

    Here is his faux pas. http://www.ritmeyer.com/2015/11/17/not-wailing-at-the-wrong-western-wall-of-the-temple-mount/

    They published the first of two more articles http://popular-archaeology.com/issue/winter-2015-2016/article/antonia-the-fortress-jerusalem-forgot

    To the best of my knowledge Leen Ritmeyer has not answered Dr.Martin’s critique so far.
    http://www.askelm.com/temple/t010513.htm

    David also mentioned George Wesley Buchanan. Here is a link to his latest contribution.
    http://www.askelm.com/temple/t130901.PDF

    BTW, I bought a copy of Bob Cornukes book, so I’ve paid my dues. I just wish the illustrations could be larger.

    Reply
  10. Marilyn Sams says:

    In January of this year (2016), I attended a conference at which both Eli Shukron and Bob Cornuke were
    present. In Cornuke’s book, he had intimated that both he and Shukron believed this was the site of Solomon’s temple altar. At the conference, I challenged Cornuke by asking why he thought the temple would have been built on the side of the hill, rather than on the ridge. He never answered, because we were both distracted by conversations on either side of us. It is clear that the temple was built on top of Mount Zion, not as a cave in the mountainside, so this site’s identification as a “temple” is misleading.
    In addition, Eli Shukron gave a presentation in which he identified the site at Melchizedek’s temple–a
    new, unpublished identification. Parker and Vincent (1909-1911) were the first to excavate this site and Vincent said the chambers looked similar to other burial caves on the hill. Although Shukron made it sound like he, alone, discovered the site, he was the second member of the team of Reich and Shukron. Because of the many loom weights found in one (or more?) of the chambers, Reich felt it had been used as a place for weaving. Margaret Barker agrees with this identification, noting it may have
    been a shrine venerating the Lady (Asherah), one of whose symbols is flowing water. If this identification is correct, then it may have been burned in the days of Josiah’s reform (Israelite period).
    The site is located within what would have been the Solomonic temple’s precincts, and may be one more indication that the hillside had not been filled in yet, as described in Josephus.
    One thing is certain, if Shukron’s altar, blood channel, oil container, animal-restraining hook, and stele are all what he says they are, the site is still not the site of the altar of Solomon’s temple. As for Melchizedek’s temple, I believe the argument can be made that his temple was not a place of animal sacrifice, it being administered through his higher priesthood. The Jewish temples are Aaronic
    priesthood temples, administered by the lesser priesthood.

    Reply
    • jim draper says:

      Why are most people just biting at the edges here? There is some historical events to look at, read it for yourselves, it’s plain the temple mount is the Antonio fortress, trying to build the the third temple without messiah Will not work not in 363 A.D. or today Zachariah 6:13 is very clear on who build, s this temple, it very well may be another attempt to build it but not without messiah.

      Reply

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