Pinpointing the Temple. This plan contains the key features of the Temple Mount that Jacobson relies on to identify the location of the Temple. It shows a conjectured line (at top) of the northern wall that has the same northwestern corner as today’s Temple Mount platform but meets the eastern wall further to the north than does today’s northern wall. Jacobson notes that his proposed northern wall is parallel with the southern wall and with the streets north of the Temple Mount, while today’s wall is not. Even more compelling is the fact that his proposed northern boundary joins the eastern wall near the point where Charles Warren, who explored Jerusalem in the 19th century, noted that Herod’s wall ended (that portion of Herod’s eastern wall is underground today and off-limits to excavation out of deference to Muslim religious sensibilities). Jacobson fixes the east-west axis of the Temple Mount halfway between the southern wall and his proposed northern wall.
To fix the north-south axis also takes some conjecture because the eastern and western walls are not parallel. But Jacobson, aided by the position of the two tunnel entrances from the south, the Double and Triple Gates, draws the north-south axis midway between the two passageways. Sitting at the intersection of the two axes today is the Dome of the Chain, just to the east of the Dome of the Rock. No doubt an important feature of the Temple lay at this intersection. Jacobson notes that it could not have been the Temple itself, because that would have left too little room for the Court of the Women, which lay to the east of the Temple entrance. He proposes instead that the sacrificial altar, the focus of public worship, stood at this point. Jacobson’s view is not far different from Ritmeyer’s. Jacobson places the main hall of the Temple atop al-Sakhra (the Rock); Ritmeyer has the Temple somewhat further to the east, with the Holy of Holies, or the back room of the Temple, over al-Sakhra.
Jacobson’s view of the relationship of al-Sakhra to the Temple will be explored in our next issue.