Monthly letter archive

August 14, 2018

Dear Brethren,

This is a very special mailing because we have acquired the right to duplicate and distribute 4,000 DVDs of The Temple Mount, produced by River Run, LLC, with narrator Ken Klein. It is about an hour and a half long. The main purpose of this DVD is to show the true location, in Jerusalem, where the ancient Temple of God actually stood—the original one by Solomon and the second one built after the Babylonian captivity. Solomon's Temple was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar in 586-585 BC. The Second Temple was destroyed by Titus and the Roman armies in 70 AD.

The DVD also shows that nearly every aspect of the Temple that the so-called "Christian" world believes—around which they have created idols, rituals and ceremonies, as well as the Jews' Wailing Wall—is incorrect. This includes the locations of events during Jesus' time. Why? Because their beliefs about them are based on myths and lies—especially the location of the Temple! The Jews and the world believe that where the Mosque of Omar stands today is where the Temple of God once stood. As this DVD will show, that area is not the ancient Temple grounds but the Roman Empire's Fort Antonia!

We have also included the three-page summary, The Temple Mount at Jerusalem. This is condensed from the in-depth 485-page book by Dr. Ernest Martin titled The Temples That Jerusalem Forgot. In painstaking detail, Dr. Martin reveals the truth about the actual location of the ancient Temple in Jerusalem. He also shows how both "Christian" and Jewish myths and false claims about the Temple have developed down through history.

Prophecies of the Temple: The place to begin is with the prophecies of Christ. What Jesus told His disciples concerning the fate of the Temple was absolutely fulfilled: "And as He was going out of the temple, one of His disciples said to Him, 'Master, see how splendid the stones and buildings are!' Then Jesus answered and said to him, 'Do you see these great buildings? There shall not be left a stone upon a stone that shall not be thrown down' " (Mark 13:1-2). Also, remember that He said, "The heaven and the earth shall pass away, but My words shall never pass away" (verse 31).

Long before Jesus' pronouncement in 30 AD of the Temple's destruction, He (as the Lord God of the Old Testament) inspired the prophet Micah in the 800s BC to write this prophecy against Zion—the location of the Temple and Jerusalem: "But truly I am full of power by the Spirit of the Lord, and of judgment, and of might, to declare to Jacob his transgression, and to Israel his sin. Hear this, I pray you, you heads of the house of Jacob, and magistrates of the house of Israel, who hate judgment and pervert all equity.

"They build up Zion with blood, and Jerusalem with iniquity. Her heads judge for a bribe, and her priests teach for pay, and her prophets divine for silver, yet they will lean on the Lord and say, 'Is not the Lord among us? No evil can come on us!' Therefore, on account of you, Zion shall be plowed as a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps, and the mountain of the temple as high places of the forest" (Micah 3:8-12).

Over 200 years later, the prophet Jeremiah warned the Jews to repent of their grievous sins or face captivity in Babylon—plus, God would destroy Jerusalem and the Temple! "Then Jeremiah spoke to all the rulers and to all the people, saying, 'The Lord sent me to prophesy against this house [the Temple] and against this city all the words that you have heard. Therefore now make your ways and your doings good, and obey the voice of the Lord your God. And the Lord will repent of the evil that He has pronounced against you.

" 'As for me, behold, I am in your hand. Do with me as seems good and right in your eyes. But know for certain that if you put me to death you shall surely bring innocent blood on yourselves, and on this city, and on its inhabitants. For truly the Lord has sent me to you to speak all these words in your ears.' Then the rulers and all the people said to the priests and to the prophets, 'This man is not worthy to die; for he has spoken to us in the name of the Lord our God.'

"Then some of the elders of the land rose up and spoke to all the assembly of the people, saying, 'Micah the Morasthite prophesied in the days of Hezekiah king of Judah, and spoke to all the people of Judah, saying, "Thus says the Lord of hosts, 'Zion shall be plowed like a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps, and the mountain of the house like the high places of a forest.

" ' " 'Did Hezekiah king of Judah and all Judah indeed put him to death? Did he not fear the Lord, and pray to the Lord, and the Lord repented of the evil which He had spoken against them? Thus, we might bring great evil against ourselves. And there was also a man who prophesied in the name of the Lord, Urijah the son of Shemaiah of Kirjath Jearim, who prophesied against this city and against this land according to all the words of Jeremiah. And when Jehoiakim the king, with all his mighty men, and all the rulers, heard his words, the king tried to put him to death. But when Urijah heard it, he was afraid, and fled and went into Egypt. And Jehoiakim the king sent men into Egypt; Elnathan the son of Achbor, and men with him into Egypt. And they brought Urijah out of Egypt and brought him to Jehoiakim the king, who killed him with the sword and threw his dead body into the graves of the common people.' " ' But the hand of Ahikam the son of Shaphan was with Jeremiah, that they should not give him into the hand of the people to put him to death" (Jer. 26:12-24).

For centuries the Jews and most of the world have believed that the Temple was located where the Mosque of Omar now stands. They actually pray at the Wailing Wall to the west, where there are great foundational stones stacked upon one other, because they believe that those stones are part of the foundation the Temple that was destroyed in 70 AD.

We might ask the question, "Today, why don't the Jews know the true location where the Temple should be?" The fact is, since the majority of Jews do not believe in Jesus as the true Messiah, they do not believe His words that not one stone would be left standing upon another. Jesus did not exempt the Temple foundational stones from being torn down, as most Jews and scholars believe. He said, "There shall not be left a stone upon a stone that shall not be thrown down." This disbelief is why the Jews have lost the knowledge of the true location of where the Temple once stood.

Ever since the Jews captured Jerusalem in 1967, Muslims have not allowed Jews to even walk on the grounds of the Mosque of Omar. In spite of that prohibition, the Jews still anticipate rebuilding the Temple there. How? When? Some Jews believe God will cause a great earthquake to destroy the Mosque; then they will build the Temple there.

Although they understand that it is not possible at this time to build the Temple on that location, the Jews have an organization called The Temple Institute. If you go on the Internet, you will find that those running this operation have already drawn up plans for the new Third Temple—including altars for sacrifices, incense offerings, and the lots for the Atonement goats. In addition, they have prepared many of the sacrificial implements, as well as priestly and Levitical garments, etc. However, the Temple cannot be built before the time that God has determined. When that time arrives, God will make known to them where the Temple should be built. It is God's schedule—not any man's—as to when and where it will be built.

Remember, the Jews always seek after a sign from God. What might be one of those signs from God that it is time to build the Temple—and where it should be built? Perhaps the most convincing sign to them would be that the Gihon Spring suddenly begins producing massive amounts of water. Why would this be a positive sign? Because in order to conduct countless animal sacrifices with all the shedding of blood, they would need a powerful, steady flow of water. If such a thing should occur, then the Jews (and all the world) would know it is a sign from God to build the Temple!

As The Temple Mount DVD will demonstrate, some Jews (and many non-Jews) already know where the Temple should be built. However, the official religion of Judaism—especially under the newly established Sanhedrin—will never accept the conclusions of others, as correct as they may be. The religious leaders are blinded to this knowledge. But at the proper time, God will make it known to them—and not before.

In order to fulfill prophecy, it is necessary that the Jews build a complete new Temple. Why? Because Jesus said that the Great Tribulation cannot begin until the "abomination of desolation" stands "in the holy place" (Matt. 24:15, 21; Mark 13:14, 19-20). The holy place is the "holy of holies," where the ark of the covenant is supposed to be located. That did not happen in 70 AD when the Second Temple was destroyed.

What is the "abomination of desolation"? The apostle Paul was inspired to describe how and when it would "stand in the holy place": "Do not let anyone deceive you by any means because that day will not come unless the apostasy shall come first, and the man of sin shall be revealed—the son of perdition [the Beast of Rev. 13], the one who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God, or that is an object of worship; so that he comes into the temple of God and sits down as God, proclaiming that he himself is God [this act is the abomination that makes desolate]…. And then the lawless one will be revealed (whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth, and will destroy with the brightness of His [second] coming). Even the one whose coming is according to the inner working of Satan, with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in those who are perishing because they did not receive the love of the truth, so that they might be saved. And for this cause, God will send upon them [the whole world] a powerful deception that will cause them to believe the lie [that this man is 'god' manifested in the flesh]" (II Thess. 2:3-4, 8-11).

Jerusalem Will be the Focal Point of End Time Events: The prophesies of Zechariah reveal that Jerusalem will be "center stage" for end time events. " 'Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people all around, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem. And in that day I will make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people. All who burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the nations of the earth be gathered together against it.

" 'In that day,' says the Lord, 'I will strike every horse with terror, and his rider with madness. And I will open My eyes upon the house of Judah, and will strike every horse of the people with blindness. And the governors of Judah shall say in their heart, "The people of Jerusalem shall be my strength in the Lord of hosts their God." In that day I will make the governors of Judah like a hearth of fire among the wood, and like a torch of fire among the sheaves. And they shall devour all the people all around, on the right hand and on the left hand' " (Zech. 12:2-6).

The prophet Jeremiah also shows that these events will involve all the nations of the world: "For thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, to me, 'Take the wine cup of this wrath at My hand, and cause all the nations to whom I shall send you to drink it. And they shall drink, and reel to and fro, and be crazed because of the sword that I will send among them.' Then I took the cup at the Lord's hand, and made all the nations drink, to whom the Lord had sent me [obviously in vision, since this is an end-time prophecy]. Jerusalem, and the cities of Judah, and their kings, and their rulers, to make them a desolation and an astonishment, a hissing, and a curse, (as it is today [when Jeremiah wrote this prophecy]), Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and his servants, and his rulers, and all his people, and all the mixed people, and all the kings of the land of Uz, and all the kings of the land of the Philistines, and Ashkelon, and Gaza, and Ekron, and the rest of Ashdod; Edom, and Moab, and the sons of Ammon, and all the kings of Tyre, and all the kings of Sidon, and the kings of the isles beyond the sea, Dedan, and Tema, and Buz, and all that are in the uppermost corners.

"And all the kings of Arabia, and all the kings of the mixed people who dwell in the desert, and all the kings of Zimri, and all the kings of Elam, and all the kings of the Medes, and all the kings of the north, far and near, one with another, and all the kingdoms of the world, which are on the face of the earth; and the king of Sheshach [the end-time Beast] shall drink after them.

" 'Therefore you shall say to them, "Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, 'Drink and be drunk, and vomit, and fall, and rise no more because of the sword which I will send among you.' " And it shall come to pass if they refuse to take the cup at your hand to drink, then you shall say to them, "Thus says the Lord of hosts, 'You shall certainly drink. For, lo, I begin to bring evil on the city which is called by My name; and shall you go unpunished? You shall not go unpunished. For I will call for a sword on all the inhabitants of the earth,' says the Lord of hosts."

" 'And prophesy against them all these words, and say to them, "The Lord shall roar from on high, and utter His voice from His holy habitation [from the Sea of Glass with all the saints]. He shall mightily roar over His dwelling place [Jerusalem]. He shall give a shout, like those who tread out grapes, against all the people of the earth. A noise shall come to the ends of the earth; for the Lord has a controversy with the nations; He will plead with all flesh. He will give those who are wicked to the sword," says the Lord. Thus says the Lord of hosts, "Behold, evil shall go forth from nation to nation, and a great whirlwind shall be stirred up from the farthest corners of the earth. And the slain of the Lord shall be at that day [the day of His literal return to the earth with all the saints] from one end of the earth even to the other end of the earth; they shall not be mourned, nor gathered, nor buried. They shall be as dung on the ground" ' " (Jer. 25:15-33).

The nations gathered against Judah and Jerusalem (Revelation 8-11 and 16) have another purpose: They will fight against Jesus Christ at His return with the resurrected saints of God. They will believe His return is an invasion of aliens from outer space! "And the sixth angel poured out his vial into the great river Euphrates; and its waters were dried up, so that the way of the kings from the rising of the sun might be prepared. Then I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet; for they are spirits of demons working miracles, going forth to the kings of the earth, even of the whole world, to gather them together to the battle of that great day of the Almighty God" (Rev. 16:12-14).

They will begin their attack while the saints are on the Sea of Glass, which will be in the clouds over Jerusalem. Then we will descend from the Sea of Glass to the earth with Christ for the final battle, as found in Revelation 19: "And I saw heaven open; and behold, a white horse; and He Who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He does judge and make war. And His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns; and He had a name written that no one knows except Him. And He was clothed with a garment dipped in blood; and His name is The Word of God.

"And the armies in heaven [all the resurrected saints—from Able to the Two Witnesses] were following Him on white horses; and they were clothed in fine linen, white and pure. And out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He might smite the nations; and He shall shepherd them with an iron rod; and He treads the winepress of the fury and the wrath of the Almighty God. And on His garment and on His thigh He has a name written: King of kings and Lord of lords.

"Then I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried out with a loud voice, saying to all the birds that fly in the midst of heaven, 'Come and gather yourselves together to the supper of the great God, so that you may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of chief captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of those who sit on them, and the flesh of all, free and bond, and small and great.'

"And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies, gathered together to make war with Him Who sits on the horse, and with His army. And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet who worked miracles in his presence, by which he had deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. Those two were cast alive into the lake of fire, which burns with brimstone; and the rest were killed by the sword of Him Who sits on the horse, even the sword that goes out of His mouth; and all the birds were filled with their flesh" (Rev. 19:11-21).

This final battle fulfills the prophecy of Zechariah 14: "And this shall be the plague with which the Lord will smite all the people who have fought against Jerusalem. Their flesh shall consume away while they stand on their feet, and their eyes shall consume away in their sockets. And their tongue shall consume away in their mouth. And it shall be in that day that a great panic from the Lord shall be among them. And they shall each one lay hold of his neighbor, and his hand shall rise up against the hand of his neighbor…. And likewise shall be the plague of the horse, the mule, the camel, and the donkey, and of all the beasts which shall be in these camps—it shall be as this plague" (Zech. 14:12-13, 15).

Zechariah also confirms that this final battle will involve all the nations of the earth as they fight against the return of Christ and the saints. It will be the most awesome event in the history of the world to that time. "For I will gather all nations to battle against Jerusalem; and the city shall be taken, and the houses plundered, and the women raped. And half of the city shall go into exile, and the rest of the people shall not be cut off from the city. And the Lord shall go out and fight against those nations, as when He fought in the day of battle.

"And His feet shall stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the Mount of Olives shall split in two, from the east and to the west, and make a very great valley. And half of the mountain shall move toward the north, and half of it toward the south…. And the Lord my God shall come, and all the saints with You. And it shall come to pass in that day, that the light shall not be clear, nor dark. And it will be one day which shall be known to the Lord, neither day nor night; but it shall come to pass that at evening time it shall be light.

"And it shall be in that day, that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; half of them shall go toward the eastern sea, and half of them toward the western sea. In summer and in winter it shall be. And the Lord shall be King over all the earth; in that day there shall be one Lord, and His name shall be one. All the land shall be turned as a plain from Geba to Rimmon south of Jerusalem. And it shall be raised up and remain in its place, from Benjamin's Gate to the place of the First Gate; to the Corner Gate, and from the Tower of Hananeel to the king's winepresses. And they shall dwell in it, and there shall never again be any more utter destruction, but Jerusalem shall dwell safely…. And Judah also shall fight at Jerusalem; and the wealth of all the nations all around shall be gathered—gold, and silver, and clothing in great abundance" (Zech. 14:2-11, 14).

Then a powerful angel will gather Satan and the demons and cast them into prison, the great abyss, which is sealed for a thousand years: "Then I saw an angel descending from heaven, having the key of the abyss, and a great chain in his hand. And he took hold of the dragon, the ancient serpent, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. Then he cast him into the abyss, and locked him up, and sealed the abyss over him, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer until the thousand years were fulfilled; and after that it is ordained that he be loosed for a short time" (Rev. 20:1-3).

At last the millennium begins and we rule over the world under Jesus: "And I saw thrones; and they that sat upon them, and judgment was given to them; and I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus, and for the Word of God, and those who did not worship the beast, or his image, and did not receive the mark in their foreheads or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years…. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who has part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power. But they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years" (verses 4-6).

All nations will in time come under the rule of the Kingdom of God and the saints. Some nations will resist for a while, but they will ultimately submit, as Isaiah writes: "And it shall come to pass, in the last days the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow into it. And many people shall go and say, 'Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob. And He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His paths. For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And He shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more" (Isa. 2:2-4).

Dates for the Fall Festival Season: The Feast of Trumpets is September 10; the Day of Atonement is September 19. The seven-day Feast of Tabernacles begins on September 24, with the Last Great Day on October 1. May God the Father and Jesus Christ bless the brethren everywhere with a tremendous and meaningful Feast season!

Brethren, once again, thank you for your love and your prayers, which mean so much to us. Without your prayers, we could not do what we are doing. Like you, we also struggle with human nature and human weaknesses. We realize that everything good comes from God—that our very existence depends on Him. Thank you for your continued support through your tithes and offerings. It is our goal to return as much as possible back to the brethren—so you will have all the tools necessary to grow in grace and knowledge and obtain eternal life. May God the Father and Jesus Christ continue to bless and strengthen you with Their grace and love in all things.

With Love in Christ Jesus,

Fred R. Coulter


The Temple Mount at Jerusalem

A summary of Ernest L. Martin's book, The Temples That Jerusalem Forgot

by Robert Martin

Josephus gives a different perspective of the temple than what is accepted by most historians today. This may be due to the Jews' distrust of Josephus for having capitulated to the Romans during the onslaught of Jerusalem. In reality, he was trying to save his people from the destruction and terror that would inevitably befall them with their continued resistance. Unfortunately, Josephus' capitulation to the Romans caused many within the Jewish community to view him as a traitor, and thus many within Jewish academia have dismissed him as a historian.

However, Josephus was fully aware of the cardinal features of the Temple Mount: It was built directly over the subterranean Spring of Gihon, and there were caves within its subsurface. These features were also witnessed by Aristeas of Egypt three hundred years before Josephus and confirmed by the Roman historian Tacitus (115 AD), who quoted eyewitnesses that were in Jerusalem before 70 AD.

Josephus informs us that Mount Zion, the City of David, was the first citadel protecting the Temple Mount from the south. Later, John Hyrcanus (Maccabees) built a palace north of the Temple Mount called Baris. Hasmonaean princes used this palace, and later, Herod the Great made it into a citadel. He renamed it Fort Antonia, in honor of Marcus Anthony. With great effort, Herod built Fort Antonia into a large enclosed area for the Romans to garrison an entire legion along with their auxiliary personnel.

Josephus Understood the Symbolism of the Gihon Spring

Gihon Spring was the only natural spring of pure water within five miles of Jerusalem in any direction. Pure water was an indispensable requirement for the essential rituals of the temple. Because of this spring of pure water, the temple was a microcosm of the Garden of Eden. (One of the rivers that flowed through the Garden of Eden was the river Gihon.) The water of Gihon was symbolic of the Water of Life.

The Gihon Spring was about a quarter mile south from today's Dome of the Rock. There are no caves or spring in the vicinity of today's Dome of the Rock. This information is crucial in determining the correct location of the Temple Mount. Josephus was fully aware of the symbolism involving the Gihon Spring and the Throne or the Holy of Holies of Almighty God, which the learned men of Judaism have ignored.

The Location of Mount Zion, Ophel and Fort Antonia

Josephus understood that the original site of Mount Zion (it was actually a mound) was located on the southern third of the southeast ridge. This was where David had built his city, and it became known as the "Lower City" of Jerusalem. The limits of David and Solomon's Jerusalem were between Kidron Valley to the east and Tyropoeon Valley to the west, with both valleys merging at the south end of the southeast ridge. The Tyropoeon Valley was gradually populated as Jerusalem grew toward the west during the time of King Uzziah. In the latter part of the second century BC, the Maccabees extensively populated this valley, and it became known as the "Upper City."

The Hinnim Valley was to the immediate west at the south end of the western hill adjoining the Kidron and Tyropoeon Valleys at the foot of the southeast ridge. On the southern third of this ridge there were two mounds: Zion and "Ophel" (literally "humped mount"). From south to north, the two mounds together were about 400 yards in length. The distance from the top of Mount Zion to the top of Mount Ophel was over 200 yards. This ridge continued to ascend northward from Mount Ophel to where an outcrop of rock was protruding, which today is called the Dome of the Rock. The Dome of the Rock is located over 600 yards north from the top of Mount Zion and 400 yards from the top of Mount Ophel.

The Temple Mount was built on Mount Ophel over the subterranean Gihon Spring, below which were numerous subsurface caves. From this mount, the Water of Life for the temple services was immediately available. It was renowned for its purity (sweet water) over that of any other spring in the entire region.

Writing of this, Josephus states, "Now on the north side of the temple was built a citadel (Fort Antonia), whose walls were square and strong and of extraordinary firmness. The kings of the Hasmonaean dynasty, who were also high priests before the time of Herod, called it the Tower." Josephus further informs us, "Fort Antonia dominated the temple." This fortress guarded the security of the temple, the city of Jerusalem and the fortress itself.

From the north, it was impossible for one to see the temple because Fort Antonia obscured the view. The hill on which the Tower of Antonia stood was the highest of the three mounds (Zion, Ophel, and Fort Antonia) on the north end of the southeast ridge.

During the Hasmonaean dynasty, the tower of Baris was expanded to become Fort Antonia. It adjoined the new city Bezetha and further obscured the Temple Mount from the north of Jerusalem. An aqueduct coming from Bethlehem supplied Fort Antonia with water that was stored in 37 cisterns for the Tenth Legion and their support personnel, which numbered approximately 10,000 men.

No Rock Outcropping Associated with the Temple

There is no reference in Scripture or any secular historical source that describes a natural outcropping of rock located at the highest point of the ridge or hill that was associated with the Temple Mount. This includes the sites of the temple floor, the Holy of Holies and the Altar of Burnt Offering.

The Altar of Burnt Offering was formally used as a threshing floor. It is clear that the threshing floor was a level area on top of Mount Ophel, not an irregular formation of rock on top of a ridge.

Solomon built the east wall of the temple that reached upwards from the base on the east side of the hill. The foundation was built below the Kidron Valley floor, and the visible wall began from the bottom of the valley and extended upwards for three hundred cubits (450 feet). An area between the top of the hill and an artificial embankment that Solomon had built along the Kidron Valley was completely filled in with rubble and large rocks known as millo. The millo reached the top of Mount Ophel, 300 cubits—about 40 to 45 stories—above the Kidron Valley floor, further extending the temple platform to the east. As viewed from the Mount of Olives on the east, the temple area looked like a modern skyscraper with a huge platform 150 by 450 feet.

Solomon built no walls on the north, west, and south sides. However, in the course of time this hilltop area was enlarged, filling in some of those areas and enclosing the hill from its base at the floor of the Kidron Valley on the east and the Tyropoeon Valley on the west. Its southern and northern sides extended westward over the ridge between the Kidron and Tyropoeon valleys. The final foundation of the temple was shaped like a cube, and the area on top of the Temple Mount was a perfect square platform.

Solomon built his palace and judgment hall just south of the temple. This was the area of Mount Zion and the city of David, around which Jerusalem evolved. In the second century BC, Mount Zion was leveled during the time of Simon the Hasmonaean, just south of Mount Ophel. After that time the Temple Mount was not obscured from the south by the higher elevation of Mount Zion.

The Gihon Spring

The Temple Mount had a natural spring with an unlimited supply of water coming from underneath the Holy of Holies. Scriptural references require a water source to be associated with the temple and its function. The Gihon Spring is referred to numerous times in the book of Psalms and by the prophets.

During the time of David and Solomon, Gihon Spring supplied the Siloam Pool and fed the Kidron Valley. Toward the end of the eighth century BC, King Hezekiah built a tunnel to supply underground water from the Gihon Spring to western Jerusalem (II Chron. 32:30). Hezekiah built this tunnel because he was expecting a siege against Jerusalem by Sennacherib, the king of Assyria.

Before 70 AD, the Jews often used the word "Siloam" to describe the whole system of the Gihon Spring—Siloam Pool, Hezekiah's underground tunnel and the channels into the Kidron Valley. (Christians did not use the name "Gihon" but continued to use "Siloam" to describe this water network even into modern times.)

It is most significant that the pure water of Gihon Spring under the Temple Mount ran near the seat of the Holy of Holies, symbolic of the seat of Almighty God's throne. John's description of God's throne in Revelation shows a river of water coming out from beneath the throne: "Then he showed me a pure river of the water of life, clear as crystal, flowing out from the throne of God and of the Lamb" (Rev. 22:1).

Destruction of the Temple Foretold

Micah prophesied of the destruction of the temple (Mic. 3:10-12): "Hear this, I pray you, ye heads of the house of Jacob, and princes of the house of Israel, that abhor justice, and pervert all iniquity. They build up Zion with bloodshed and Jerusalem with iniquity. The heads thereof judge for a bribe, and the priests thereof teach for pay, and the prophets thereof divine for money. Yet will they lean upon the Lord, saying is not the Lord among us? No harm can come upon us. Therefore shall Zion for your sake be plowed as a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps of ruins, and the mountain of the temple as the bare hills."

Jesus confirmed this prophecy as the writers of the gospels agree: Matthew 24:1-2 and Mark 13:1-2: "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."

Luke 19:43-44: "For the days shall come upon you that your enemies shall cast a rampart about you, and shall enclose you around and keep you in on every side, and shall level you to the ground, 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 21:5-6: "And while some were speaking about the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and consecrated gifts, He said, 'As for these things that you now see, the days will come in which there shall not be left one stone upon another that shall not be thrown down.'"

Fort Antonia's walls were 40 cubits (60 feet) high. Inside these walls, the buildings and grounds were built on a level platform. At the four corners of the walls were towers. Three of these towers were 50 cubits (75 feet) high, and the southwest tower was 70 cubits (105 feet) high. This higher tower overlooked the entire temple court to the south of Fort Antonia.

Josephus wrote that all of Fort Antonia was built over and around a rock outcrop at the summit of the ridge. Today, a mosque stands over this rock formation known as the Dome of the Rock. Completed by Abdul el-Malik in 691 AD, the mosque covers the remainder of this protruding rock but occupies only a very small fraction of the entire surface area of the 36-acre artificial platform that the Romans built.

Fort Antonia and the Roman Legion

A Roman legion had 5,000 infantry troops and with them 5,000 support personnel. There were 278 military personnel per acre within Fort Antonia.

The Roman garrison was the dominant feature of Jerusalem, a continuous reminder to the Jews of Rome's supremacy. Further, being four and one-half times greater in area than the Temple Mount, Fort Antonia was intimidating, and therefore, a successful tool of psychological warfare to secure Jewish conformity to Roman authority.

The crowds that assembled at the temple during the Holy Days were overseen by 2,000 Roman troops. In order to prevent disorder and riots among the Jews, they were stationed on a 45-foot wide walkway built atop the four rows of colonnades that surrounded the temple grounds. During the Jewish festivals, there were three rotations of guards, totaling 6,000 soldiers, each day.

Josephus' Description of the Colonnades

The colonnades between the temple and Fort Antonia were extended around the outer edge of the entire Temple Mount platform. These colonnades were roofed with the roadway 30 cubits (45 feet) wide. The colonnade roadway was the vantage point from which the Roman troops were able to guard the entrances and exits to and from the temple as well as keep a watchful eye on the inside area of the court (with the exception of the inside of the temple). In addition, the colonnade roadway gave them nearly instant access from Fort Antonia to the temple area . The double colonnade-bridge that connected the temple with Fort Antonia was one stade (600 feet). Josephus described two colonnades as military roadways that were an integral part of the temple. These two colonnades led from the south (west corner) wall of Fort Antonia to the gate on the north (west corner) wall of the Temple Mount. Called the Tadi Gate, this north wall was not used by the general public but only by the Roman Legion.

The Romans were very astute in military engineering and constructed their fortifications with this advantage. They understood well that the key to controlling Jerusalem was to manage and control the Temple Mount. Fort Antonia's protection was its dominant position over the Temple Mount.