Even with the evidence in front of their eyes, there are too many ignoramuses, conspiracy theorists, religious supersessionists as well as plain old antisemites, who either deny the very existence of the two Jewish Temples or deny the Jewish connection to them.
Haaretz (!), of all places (!!), has republished an excellent article, originally from 2 years, ago, but which is particularly relevant at the moment, with lengthy quotes and interviews from leading archeologists who affirm that indeed, there were Jewish temples on the Temple Mount:
Was there once a great Jewish temple on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount? Yes. Does any scholar genuinely doubt there was? No, say archaeologists who have spent their lives studying Jerusalem. “I feel stupid even having to comment on it,” says Dr. Yuval Baruch, a leading Israeli archaeologist who has studied Jerusalem throughout his career. “Demanding proof that the Temples stood on the Mount is like demanding proof that the ancient stone walls surrounding Jerusalem, which stand to this day, were the ancient stone walls surrounding Jerusalem,” he adds.
The contention that there is no proof the Temples existed, let alone on the Mount, is an artifact of the recent Israeli-Arab conflict. Jewish, Christian and Muslim tradition has always held the Mount sacred and none queried the existence of the Temples. “A Brief Guide to al-Haram al-Sharif,” published in English by the Supreme Muslim Council itself in 1925, states: “The site is one of the oldest in the world. Its sanctity dates from the earliest (perhaps from pre-historic) times. Its identity with the site of Solomon’s Temple is beyond dispute. As well as being sacred to Jews, the hilltop plaza, which could go back as much as 5,000 years, is sacred to Muslims as the place from which the Prophet Mohammed ascended to heaven. No Muslim scholars would agree to be interviewed for this article.
Archaeologists cannot conclusively point to stones they know comprised the Second Temple, let alone the first one. But as Prof. Israel Finkelstein, a world-renowned expert on Jerusalem archaeology, spells out in an email to Haaretz, “There is no scholarly school of thought that doubts the existence of the First Temple.”
All the archaeologists Haaretz spoke with for this article believe that if Temple Mount could be excavated – which it never has been – such evidence would be found, even if many of the stones were repurposed over the centuries. But concrete finds definitively from the Temple exist in abundance, says Bar-Ilan University Prof. Gabriel Barkay, an archaeologist who has spent many years working in Jerusalem, and the area of Temple Mount in particular.
“Two copies of inscriptions prohibiting the entry of nonbelievers to the Temple have been found on Temple Mount, which Josephus wrote about. These inscriptions were on the dividing wall that surrounded the Second Temple, which prevented non-Jews from accessing the interior of the [Temple] courtyard,” Barkay says, adding that both were written in ancient Greek. The “warning” stone, which is at the Istanbul Archaeological Museum, warns non-Jews of the perils of entering the sacred Temple. There were additional, similar inscriptions in Latin, he says.
Another inscription in stone, “To the trumpeting place,” was found in 1968 at the southwest corner of Temple Mount. “It is known that trumpets were blown at the corners of Temple Mount, to declare the advent of Shabbat and other dates,” Barkay explains. Josephus, the ancient historian of ephemeral loyalties, explains that it was customary for a Temple priest to “stand and to give notice, by sound of trumpet, in the afternoon of the approach, and on the following evening of the close, of every seventh day.” The stone is now at the Israel Museum.
That stone, or a copy of it, or a similar stone found at the same place, can be seen right there outside the southern wall of the Temple Mount, as I showed in my blog about my trip there before Yom Yerushalayim.
Will more evidence be found? Massive, decades-long construction work by the Muslim authorities controlling Temple Mount caused great archaeological destruction, says famed third-generation Jerusalem archaeologist Eilat Mazar, of the Hebrew University.
“No wonder remnants of the First and Second Temples themselves have not been found,” Mazar writes in an email to Haaretz. “What has been found, including by my grandfather [pioneering archaeologist Benjamin Mazar], are the remains of magnificent buildings that support historic sources describing the construction of the First and Second Temples, and the surrounding compounds, in detail.”
While the Mount remains unexcavated, the City of David site right next to it has been and is being explored. “Remains uncovered over decades in excavations at the City of David, and the area connecting the City of David to Temple Mount, support, without reservation, the historic descriptions of the beginning of Jerusalem, and its development from a Canaanite town existing 5,000 years ago, to the heavily fortified Israelite capital 4,000 years ago, to the days of King David 3,000 years ago, to the city that developed northward in the days of King Solomon (around 10th century B.C.E.),” Mazar writes.
Over the last decades the Muslims played a disgraceful double game against the Jews on the Temple Mount. First they destroyed as much archeological evidence as they could, and dumped it as just so much garbage in a way that made it impossible to extrapolate any crucial evidence from it. And then they denied any Jewish history on the Mount because … no archeological evidence could be found!
(In the course of building El-Marwani, a new mosque sited underneath Al-Aqsa and dedicated in December 1996, the waqf – the Muslim religious trust – decided that a new emergency exit was needed from El-Marwani. Without coordinating with Israel, says Baruch, it extracted tons of material from Temple Mount – transporting it away in hundreds of trucks, mainly to dumps around the Old City. The Israel Antiquities Authority subsequently collected much of that material, which is now being examined in the “Sifting Project” – and this rubble may contain more evidence. However, this does not count as excavation.)
“The question of whether archaeological finds prove the existence of the Temple on Temple Mount is cynical and provocative,” says Barkay. “These are things known to anybody with culture and cannot be cast in doubt. We have dozens of literary sources, including Muslim sources, describing the Temple.”
“Muslim historians and geographers of the Middle Ages never doubted it,” says Baruch. “I don’t know a single description of Jerusalem in Arabic from the Middle Ages, or even the earlier period or later one, that does not relate to Haram al-Sharif as the site of the Temple.” Islam does not necessarily distinguish between the First and Second Temples, he adds. For them, Solomon built his temple there and that is that.
Historical evidence is abundant, too, and not only from Jewish sources. From the Babylonians and Romans to the Greeks and Persians, the Jewish Temples on the Mount were recorded.
It is clear that any honest person of sound mind could no more deny the existence of the Temples on the Temple Mount than the rising of the sun in the east. (I would not advise reading the comments to the article, some of which deny exactly this fact).
In case you should need some more proof, watch this video of evidence from the Babylonian destruction of the City of David. (via Reality):
During excavations organized by the Israel Antiquities Authority and funded by the City of David Foundation (Elad) on the eastern slope of the City of David), structures built more than 2,600 years ago were found; unearthed after being covered over by layers of collapsed stone.
Underneath the stone, excavators found artifacts from the First Temple period, including charred wood, grape seeds, pottery, fish scales and bones, and pottery.
These findings, say researchers, hint at the affluence and character of Jerusalem, capital of the ancient kingdom of Judea. The artifacts also testify to the city’s destruction at the hands of the Babylonians in the 6th century BCE.
Among the excavation’s salient findings were dozens of storage jugs which stored both grain and liquids. Some of the jugs featured stamped handles with seals from the Kingdom of Judea.
Several of the seals discovered depict a rosette – a petalled rose. According to Ortal Chalaf and Dr. Joe Uziel, Israel Antiquities Authority excavation directors: “These seals are characteristic of the end of the First Temple Period and were used for the administrative system that developed towards the end of the Judean dynasty. Classifying objects facilitated controlling, overseeing, collecting, marketing and storing crop yields. The rosette, in essence, replaced the ‘For the King’ seal used in the earlier administrative system.”
And of course if the evidence exists to show that a city was destroyed it is obvious that the city existed in the first place! Kol hakavod to the archaeologists and all those involved in this extremely important discovery.
And one more item on this same subject of “Temple Denial”, or maybe it should be called “Jewish history and identity denial”: Melanie Phillips writes about Tisha B’Av as a day to teach the world:
The Temple, that is, that stood in Jerusalem on what is now called Temple Mount; the one to whose remaining stones Jews turn their faces when they pray as the site of their ancient holy of holies; the one that is the cynosure of their faith and whose existence and meaning are threaded through their prayers.
The Arab Muslims claim there never was a Jewish Temple there. Mahmoud Abbas, whose “doctorate” was in denying the Holocaust, denies there was ever a Jewish Temple there. He and the rest of the Arab Muslim world say it is a place that has only ever been sacred to Muslims. Their denial that the land of Israel was ever the Jewish homeland is centred on their claim that there never was a Temple in Jerusalem, only the al Aqsa mosque.
But al Aqsa was built on top of the ruins of the Temple, in order to bury and conceal it and thus bury and conceal the national history of the Jews – the only people for whom Israel was ever their national kingdom, thousands of years before Islam was even invented and the Arabs invaded as colonialist conquerers.
The original stones used to build the Temple’s foundations are still there. You can see them. Artefacts from the time of the Jewish King Solomon have been excavated. You can see them. Two inscriptions prohibiting the entry of nonbelievers to the Temple have been found on Temple Mount. You can see them. Stones hurled down from the Temple by the Romans in their orgy of destruction onto the street below remain where they fell. You can see them, as well as the ancient street itself. Hundreds of excavated mikvaot, or Jewish ritual baths, testify to the Jewish presence around the Temple thousands of years ago. You can see them.
But what the fast of Tisha b’Av itself also tells the world is that the Jews were in Jerusalem before the Babylonians, before the Romans, before the Christians and most certainly before the Muslims. What Jews mourn on Tisha b’Av is an actual historical event.
And that’s what so many in the west also don’t grasp – that the Jews alone are the indigenous people of the land, and that Judaism is based on an actual nation which practised its religion in the actual historic kingdom of Judea.
But because Islam holds that any territory ever occupied by Muslims remains Muslim for ever and can be ruled by no-one else, the Muslim world will not accept this. That’s why the war over Temple Mount is not being waged in the name of the Palestinians or even the Arabs but – according to Mahmoud Abbas amongst others – all Muslims.
It is an Islamic holy war – not just against the State of Israel but against Judaism itself. … But Judaism is inextricably composed of the people, the religion and the land. Those who want to strip away the land from the Jewish people are attacking Judaism itself.
Some Jews question why Tisha b’Av remains a day of mourning when Israel has been so triumphantly reborn from the ashes of history. But today it’s surely more important than ever to mourn. For the destroyers are still with us, the Temple Mount is still occupied and the stones are still being hurled down from it. The only difference is that the murderous destroyers hurling the rocks today are not the Romans but the Arab Muslims.
Read it all.
May our fasting be accepted as atonement for our sins, and may Hashem bring us the Geulah (Redemption) and rebuild the Temple במהרה בימינו אמן.