HARRY MOSKOFF in a Western Wall tunnel filming interviews for the original ‘The A.R.K. Report.’.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
When God denied King David the right to build the Temple, as David said he would do, King David went instead and paid 50 silver shekels to purchase a threshing floor, and later paid 600 gold shekels for the whole mountain (see I Chronicles 21:25) where the Temple would subsequently be built. The sacrificial altar and subsequent Temple building were built on this threshing floor and on the mountain we now know as Mount Moriah.
Now, threshing floors are usually round and on a relatively flat area. It is known that the diameters of these floors generally ranged from 12 to 14 meters (Avitsur 1976). They are not usually located on the very top of mountains, but a little below so that the wind will carry away the chaff only and leave the heavier grain. This is a hint that the Temple was built close to the summit of the mountain, but not actually on it. Either that, or there were several small outcropping peaks on top of Mount Moriah, and this particular threshing floor was located on the more southern one, perhaps slightly lower than the highest peak, i.e. – where the Dome of the Rock stands today. The Rambam maintains (Laws of the Chosen House 2:1) that the particular spot of the altar, placed originally on the location of that threshing floor, is in an even more precise location than that of the Foundation Stone in the Holy of Holies. It is “mechuvan b’yoter” or exactly placed. This is also evident in the fact that all three Temple structures differed in size, including the chamber where the Ark of the Covenant was held. But the place of the altar, no matter what size it came out to be, was always immovable. This is because one of the primary functions of the Temple is that it is a place to bring sacrificial offerings (Rambam Sefer HaMitzvot #20; Minchat Chinuch #95; also see the Meiri on Ketuvot 106b; Terumah 25).
Even though the Temples were generally designed to correspond to the gradual slope of the mountain top, i.e. every move up in holiness was paralleled by a physical movement in an upwards direction leading towards the Temple building itself, we find that inside the Holy section of the building itself, there is no distinction or step up to the holiest part of all, the Holy of Holies. One reason is because the peak of the mountain wasn’t really there! The Temple wasn’t completely “al hahar” (on the very top of the mountain), as will be discussed below. It says in the Torah (Exodus 15:17) that the Temple will be “... b’har nachalatcha” – at the mountain, and not “al har nachalatcha” or “b’rosh,” meaning on top of it. This indicates that the whole Temple complex, and not just the altar, was not built on the peak, but slightly off to its southern side.
Furthermore, every day in the Jewish morning prayer service we recall the merit of the Binding of Isaac, where the Torah notes that it took place “... b’har Hashem yeira-eh,” at the mountain, as Abraham had referred to it, and as it is stilled called today (see Parshat Lech Lecha 107:22), i.e. – “Yeru’shalayim!” This same language in the Torah is used many generations later (2 Chronicles 3:1) where it records how King Solomon decided “... livnot et bet Hashem b’Yerushalayim b’har HaMoriah.” This verse points out that not just the altar but in fact the whole first Temple was built in and around the threshing floor area.
Similarly, when commanding the Israelites regarding the building of the altar on Mount Eival (Mount Ebal) in Israel proper (Deuteronomy 27:4-8), God says to build it “b’har Eival,” at the mountain.
Even when the sacrifices occur there on the day that the Israelites cross the Jordan River into Israel, the same wording is used (Joshua 8:30). One can visit the altar site today (as did the author) and attest to the fact that it is visually situated on a secondary, noticeably lower plateau on Mount Eival, not even close to its highest summit point.
Another set of scriptural proofs that the Temple was situated on the spot that was determined according to the Moskoff Theory, i.e. – further to the southwest of the Dome of the Rock, comes from the famous Jewish scholars of old. The view of the great 16th-century rabbi the Ari’zal (see Emek HaMelech, preface #9) and the Maharasha (on Tractate Makot – end; also see Jeremiah 26:18) quote the prophesy that: “Zion will become a plowed field.” The whole quote, found in the Prophet Micha 3:12, states: “Therefore because of you, Zion will be plowed over like a field; Jerusalem will become heaps of rubble, and the Temple Mountain will become like a worship site that is covered with trees.”
According to the rabbinical opinions above, this verse indicates that no building will ever be established on that site until the End of Days. We can reaffirm that nowadays the location of the First and Second Temples are to be found in an unbuilt area, closer to where the Western Wall is located. According to this, non-Jews would not be Divinely permitted to build a place of worship on the exact spot of the Holy of Holies.
It is an historical fact that the Roman Emperor Hadrian built a Temple for Jupiter on the Temple Mount in 137 CE, most likely directly underneath where the Dome is today; however, there is no evidence, archeological, historical or otherwise, that this building of idol worship was built on the exact spot of the Temple building and altar. We have a tradition (Rambam ibid) that the place where Abraham built his altar to sacrifice Isaac was also a sacred place for both the sons of Esau (Edom/Rome), since they descended from Isaac, as well as for the sons of Ishmael who come from Abraham. In fact, Jacob, Noah and Adam all built their altars there, its sanctity becoming an established fact for the surrounding nations to respectfully uphold. Therefore, none of the nations dared commit idol worship on the top of that specific mountain, although they themselves did not know that the spot would eventually house the Temple of the one God of Israel.This is an excerpt from Chapter 5 of the author’s new book,
The A.R.K. Report.