Where Was the Temple Located?

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How can we reconcile the destruction of Jerusalem's temple in 70 A.D., prophesied by Jesus, with the existence of the Western Wailing Wall? Was the edifice built by King Solomon, and rebuilt by Herod, located on what is today referred to as the temple mount? Could it have been located somewhere else?

Prophesied Destruction

Jesus prophesied twice that total and complete destruction would come upon Jerusalem and her magnificent temple. The first prophecy in this regard was given on the day the Lord made his triumphal entry into the city less than a week before his death.

And when He came near and saw the city, He wept over it . . .

"For the days shall come upon you that your enemies shall cast a rampart about you (Jerusalem), and shall enclose you around and keep you in on every side, and shall level you to the ground (including its temple!), and your children within you; and they shall not leave in you a stone upon a stone, because you did not know the season of your visitation." (Luke 19:41, 43 - 44, HBFV throughout).

The second prophecy regarding the destruction of Jerusalem was offered three days after the first prophecy was given. As Jesus was leaving the temple for the last time his disciples came to him and began giving him a tour of its buildings. The Lord, as he was shown the architecture of the buildings and the immense stone blocks used to build them, revealed the fate of God's house of prayer.

And after going out, Jesus departed from the temple; and His disciples came to Him to point out the buildings of the temple. But Jesus said to them, "Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, there shall not be left here even a stone upon a stone that shall not be thrown down." (Matthew 24:1 - 2, see also Mark 13:1 - 2, Luke 21:5 - 6).

The Wailing Wall

The Western "Wailing" Wall, found in an raised area referred to as the temple mount, is believed by many to be the last remaining piece standing from Herod the Great's expansion of the area completed in 65 A.D. If true, however, it would undeniably contradict the prophecies given by Jesus and make him into a liar!

Two popular arguments are often made in an attempt to explain the modern existence of the Wailing Wall in relation to Jesus' prophecies.

The first argument states that the Wall was merely one of several buttresses used to define and support the raised area or mount where the temple was believed to have been built. As such, it is argued, it was not a part of the temple proper and therefore escaped destruction by the Romans.

Possible location of Herod's Temple in Jerusalem
Possible Location of
Jerusalem's Temple

Even if the above argument were true, however, the wall would still be considered a part of the city of Jerusalem! Taken together, Luke 19 and Matthew 24 foretell of BOTH the temple and Jerusalem being completely destroyed. Jesus even described how extensive the destruction would be when he stated NOT ONE STONE would be left on top of another either in Jerusalem (Luke 19:44) or at the temple (Matthew 24:2). This argument would still contradict what Christ taught.

The second argument is that Jesus' prophecies should be interpreted as a hyperbole, meaning that he did not mean that every literal stone would be knocked over. The problem is, however, Luke 19 leaves little room for this interpretation.

Jesus is quoted as stating Jerusalem's enemies would "level you to the ground" and that they "shall not leave in you a stone upon a stone" (Luke 19:44). This two-fold clarification offers us verifiable details regarding how thorough and extensive such a destruction would be. These details would be unnecessary, if not downright misleading, if the Lord merely meant to make a generalized statement regarding the fate of the city.

Eyewitness Account

Eleazar, who commanded the remaining Jewish forces at Masada three years after Jerusalem's destruction, was an eyewitness to the city's destruction. Josephus, the first century Jewish historian, records a speech by him that states all Jerusalem was destroyed except for Fort Antonia.

"And where is now that great city, the metropolis of the Jewish nation, which was fortified by so many walls round about . . . It is now demolished to the very foundations, and hath nothing but that monument of it preserved, I mean the camp of those that hath destroyed it (the camp of the Romans or Fort Antonia), which still dwells upon its ruins" (Wars of the Jews by Josephus, Book 7, Chapter 8, Section 7).

Explaining the Wall

How can we explain the existing Wailing Wall in relation to Jesus' prophecies and the temple? The walls that survived the destruction of Titus in 70 A.D. enclose an area now called the Haram esh-Sharif that is holy to Islam. This area today includes the Dome of the Rock and the Al Aqsa Mosque. The walls, which include the Western Wailing Wall, are actually those of Fort Antonia named and built by Herod the Great!

Fort Antonia (Haram esh-Sharif) survived intact because Titus wanted to continue to use it as a Roman fortress and keep it as a monument of the Roman Empire's victory over Jerusalem. It was not officially considered part of the municipality of Jerusalem as it was controlled and occupied by the Roman Empire.

Josephus himself, an eyewitness to Titus' siege of the city, also states the entire city and its temple were leveled to the ground with only the army camp at Fort Antonia left standing.

"Now as soon as the (Roman) army had no more people to slay or to plunder, because there remained none to be the objects of their fury . . . Caesar gave orders that they should now demolish the entire city and Temple, but should leave as many of the towers standing as were of the greatest eminence . . .

"This wall was spared (the walls of Fort Antonia now surrounding the Haram esh-Sharif), in order to afford a camp for such as were to lie in garrison . . .

"in order to demonstrate to posterity what kind of city it was, and how well fortified, which the Roman valor had subdued but for all the rest of the wall (surrounding Jerusalem), it was so thoroughly laid even with the ground by those that dug it up to the foundation, that there was left nothing to make those that came thither believe it (the city) had ever been inhabited" (Wars of the Jews, 7.1.1).

The Real Location

Some modern research contradicts the widely held belief that what is called "the temple mount" was the location of Solomon's (and Herod's) temples (The Temples that Jerusalem Forgot by E. Martin). This research shows that the complex was built within the original city of David near the Gihon Spring. This location is roughly 1,700 feet (1/3 of a mile or 1/2 kilometer) SOUTH of the center of the Dome of the Rock building!

Building such a magnificent structure near the Gihon Spring would be ideal, as it was the city's only supply of fresh water in antiquity. It was the place where Solomon, who would build the structure, was anointed king (1Kings 1:32 - 39). The temple required running water for many of its ceremonies and its existence near the spring is alluded to in many scriptures (Ezekiel 47:1, Zechariah 14:8 - 9, Joel 3:16 - 18, Revelation 21:2, 6, 22:1, 17, etc.).


The wall around Fort Antonia (which includes the Western Wall) and the buildings it enclosed escaped destruction because they were owned by the Roman Empire and surrounded Rome's ongoing military base in Jerusalem.

Jesus was, of course, not wrong regarding the total destruction of Jerusalem and her temple. The apparent contradiction between the existence of the Western (Wailing) Wall and his prophecies is solved by the building being located south of the Haram esh-Sharif. This location, near the Gihon Spring in the original city of David, was completely leveled along with the rest of Jerusalem by Roman general (later Emperor) Titus.

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