ISRAEL - The Lost Temple

Arno Froese

The historical, religious and mythic importance of Jerusalem is deeply ingrained in Jewish civilization, as well as in Western and Islamic cultures. The holiest site for observant Jews today is the Western Wall, the last remaining segment connected to the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem.

The religious importance of the Temple Mount is so great that various answers have been suggested as to how the tensions around it can be resolved. The site, the holiest for the Jewish nation, also includes the Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam, which is managed by Jordan—making the zone explosive on both theological and diplomatic fronts.

Under the 1948 UN resolution to recognize a Jewish state alongside a Palestinian one, it was suggested that Jerusalem should be controlled by an international actor, such as the UN itself. Former US president Bill Clinton suggested that Israeli sovereignty over the site might be extended to the inside of the Temple Mount, leaving the Jordanians with managing the top. This is important for many Jews, since archaeological excavations into the mountain are vital to discover the remains of the actual Temple.

But what if Jerusalem is not the location the Torah had in mind when it says “the place the Lord your God will choose as a dwelling for his name” (Deuteronomy 26:2)? What if the divine site—the one spot on Earth where the divine presence of God manifested itself—is not in Jerusalem, but in the West Bank?

This is what independent US-born researcher Tsvi Kenigsberg suggested in an interview in Maariv, the Hebrew sister-publication of The Jerusalem Post.

Kenigsberg worked with the late archaeologist Adam Zertal for many years. Zertal did extensive excavations at what is accepted to be the biblical Mount Ebal, located in the West Bank—where the people of Israel were forged as part of the conquest of the land promised to them by the biblical God. Zertal uncovered there what he claimed to be the altar built by Moses’s successor, Joshua. Jewish scholars suggested that alongside the altar, the Torah was written in 70 different languages on large slabs of stones to tell other nations that this was the land of the Hebrews.

But Kenigsberg takes Kertal’s claim even farther, suggesting that Mount Ebal, not Mount Moriah (the other name for the Temple Mount), is the location mentioned in the Torah.

The Torah itself isn’t shy in describing how, after the altar Joshua built for religious worship was moved to Shiloh, the Temple built by Solomon became its final stop. We also know now that after the Second Temple was destroyed, a Jewish temple existed in Egypt, known as the Temple of Leontopolis, which served the Jewish community there.

But Kenigsberg claims that if he is correct about Zertal’s discovery being the “place” referred to in those verses, then Deuteronomy was composed during the conquest of Canaan by the Hebrews, and is the oldest source used to compile the Bible.

“The most important thing is that we now have an archaeological finding which fairly certainly shows that the Torah is not a complete fiction,” and that it has “at least a kernel of truth,” Kenigsberg said in the interview.

When Zertal suggested that Mount Ebal really is the site where Joshua built his altar, he was met with fierce objection by his colleagues. Archaeologist Israel Finkelstein, for example, thought that Zertal had merely found a guard post., 30 October 2019

Arno's commentary

We disagree with the finding that places the Temple Mount on Mount Ebal. Here we must read Deuteronomy 11:29: “And it shall come to pass, when the Lord thy God hath brought thee in unto the land whither thou goest to possess it, that thou shalt put the blessing upon mount Gerizim, and the curse upon mount Ebal.” It seems very unlikely that the temple would stand on a cursed mount.

Yet the speculation continues regarding the exact location of the first and second temple. Doubtless, it is in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, where presently the Dome of the Rock has been located for over 1,300 years, as well as the Al Aqsa Mosque on the southern part. Some archaeologists believe that the temple was located on the southern slope away from the Al Aqsa Mosque, in the area known as the City of David. Will there be another temple in the not-too-distant future on the Temple Mount? For more information, secure a copy of our booklet, What About the Third Temple? (coming soon).

Arno Froese is the executive director of Midnight Call Ministries and editor-in-chief of the acclaimed prophetic magazines Midnight Call and News From Israel. He has authored a number of well-received books, and has sponsored many prophecy conferences in the U.S., Canada, and Israel. His extensive travels have contributed to his keen insight into Bible prophecy, as he sees it from an international perspective.

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