Sunday, June 20, 2010

Tunnel tour

Temple Mount tunnel tour
We are going on a tour of the tunnels underneath the Temple Mount. These tunnels were unexplored from the time of the second temple destruction by the Romans in 70CE until Israel's Six Day War in 1967.

In order to understand about these tunnels, our tour guide explained how the hill of the temple mount looked before King Solomon began the first temple construction. She then showed how the hill was excavated and constructed into a level area.

The Temple Mount hill is made of rock, so it is not feasible to excavate this rock in order to make the hill level for the Mount's construction. Instead, walls were built around the mount and thousands of tons of earth poured in.

The first pic below shows how the Mount appeared before construction. The arrows show a large section of rock that rose up. This rock section was quarried to provide construction material and lower that high section. By removing this high section, the level of the mount construction did not need to be as high.
Temple Mount before construction

After the temple mount was leveled out, a platform was built over the earth fill. Solomon's temple was constructed on this platform or mount and dedicated in the year 957 BCE. In the pic below you see this platform and temple.
Solomon's Temple

Solomon's temple was destroyed by Babylonians in 586BCE, but the Mount itself remained. In the pic below you see the Muslim Dome of the Rock constructed on Solomon's Temple Mount platform during the late 7th century CE.

The second temple was dedicated in 515BCE, and existed until the destruction by Romans in 70AD. Around 20BCE, King Herod greatly enhanced the Temple Mount by expanding the area around the Mount and building new walls to contain this construction. The pic below shows how Herod's reconstructed Temple Mount appeared.

Note how the original Temple Mount is located inside Herod's construction. The Wailing Wall where Jewish people now pray is part of Herod's wall and is located near the right front corner in the pic below.
Herod's Temple Mount

In the pic below you see Joseph standing next to western wall. This is the western wall that Herod constructed, not the wall of the Temple Mount that Solomon constructed which is located inside Herod's wall. During our tour, we were able to look down to the base of Herod's wall which is about 15 meters below the floor in the pic below.
Joe in the tunnel next to Herod's wall

Here is a Bible Land Museum model of what the Temple Mount looked like at the time of King Solomon. On the left side is the City of David. The right side is the Temple Mount constructed during the time of King Solomon.
The City of David and the Temple Mount at the time of King Solomon.

Note: The arrow on the left points to the Pool of Saloam. The arrow in the middle points to the Gihon Spring. Both of these places are mentioned in the bible.

Note: Please click [here] to see a video describing the Temple Mount model that I write about in this blog post.