Saturday, January 23, 2010

Ritmeter Explains the Temple Mount

In a lecture:

According to Ritmeyer, the original Temple Mount platform measured 500 cubits by 500 cubits. The "royal cubit" used for the temple was 20.67 inches long. Later, King Herod expanded the platform on the Temple Mount, doubling its size. It is the expanded, Herodian platform that tourists in Jerusalem visit today.

...on the surface of the platform, he found his breakthrough.

At the bottom of a staircase in the northwest corner of the higher section, Ritmeyer noticed a stone with a unique chiseled edge. The stone resembled the pre-Herodian blocks visible on the eastern wall of the platform. He also noted that the stone was not aligned with the rest of the raised platform.

Ritmeyer believed the stone was not placed there as a step, but was actually part of the original temple platform wall built by King Hezekiah (eighth century B.C.). Such a find would be helpful in locating the original temple.

"This step was the archaeological beginning of my research into the pre-Herodian Temple Mount," Ritmeyer said.

Ritmeyer tested his theory by measuring the space between the stone and the eastern wall. It was exactly 500 cubits -- the measurement listed in the Mishnah...

According to Ritmeyer, Muslim authorities repaved the area around the stone step in 1974 after learning of the discovery. The top of the stone is still visible, but the chiseled side that Ritmeyer first noticed is not. Ritmeyer, however, keeps a photograph that attests to his discovery.

From there, Ritmeyer searched for the location of the temple and the altar. From information in the Mishnah, he theorized that the temple stood where the Dome of the Rock shrine now stands. If so, the Holy of Holies and the Ark of the Covenant would have rested on the rock inside the Dome of the Rock...

The Mishnah stated that the temple was not located in the center of the 500 cubit by 500 cubit platform but was slightly northwest of center. This gave credence to his view. Ritmeyer then looked for confirmation on the surface of the rock.

The archaeologist saw that the large rock had numerous cuts, lines and indentions on its surface...He speculated that some of the cuts were made to level the site for the temple's foundation.

Ritmeyer knew the dimensions of the Holy of Holies from 1 Kings 6 -- 20 cubits by 20 cubits...Ritmeyer then measured from the back of the Holy of Holies to find the boundaries of the original temple. From there, he was able to speculate on the location of the altar.

"That's the location of the altar," Ritmeyer said, pointing to a photograph. "That's the location where Abraham was told to sacrifice Isaac and the altar that David built when he was told by God to build an altar on the threshing floor of Araunah."

Ritmeyer presented evidence from the Bible and ancient agricultural practice to argue that these altars were all located on or very near the same point -– voicing another layer of confirmation for his theory.

...David first sacrificed an offering to God at Mount Moriah as recorded in 2 Samuel 24, Ritmeyer said. God's prophet Gad instructed David to build an altar on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite located on Mount Moriah.

Using knowledge he had learned about ancient threshing floors, Ritmeyer came to believe that the threshing floor, David's altar and the altar of the first temple were all located at the same spot -- the location identified by his measurements. According to Ritmeyer, Abraham's altar would have been very near the same point.

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