In my recent posts ‘Return to Eden’ and ‘The Holiest Place in the Universe’ I referred to the prophecy in Ezekiel 47 about healing waters flowing from the Temple in Jerusalem to the Dead Sea. One of my readers asked me what the source of this water could be.
This is an interesting question because there is no water source on the Temple Mount. Vast quantities of water would have been needed during the Temple’s hey day to wash away the blood from the thousands of animal sacrifices. The Temple Mount is made of limestone and contains numerous cisterns but drawing sufficient water from them to meet the Temple’s needs would have been a huge undertaking.
There is only one natural spring in Jerusalem – the Gihon Spring. This spring is located some 600 feet south of the Temple Mount in the ancient City of David, also known as Mount Zion. Some scholars believe that this was the real site of the Temple rather than the traditional site on the Temple Mount and that the Temple Mount was actually the site of a Roman fortress.
The Greek Historian Hecateus (4th Century BC) wrote that the Temple was located ‘nearly in the centre of the City of David’.
An Egyptian named Aristeas is reported to have visited Jerusalem and its Temple in 285 BC. He wrote, “The Temple faces the east and its back is toward the west. The whole of the floor is paved with stones and slopes down to the appointed places, that water may be conveyed to wash away the blood from the sacrifices, for many thousand beasts are sacrificed there on the feast days. And there is an inexhaustible supply of water, because an abundant natural spring gushes up from within the temple area. There are moreover wonderful and indescribable cisterns underground, as they pointed out to me, at a distance of five furlongs all round the site of the temple, and each of them has countless pipes so that the different streams converge together. And all these were fastened with lead at the bottom and at the sidewalls, and over them a great quantity of plaster had been spread, and every part of the work had been most carefully carried out. There are many openings for water at the base of the altar which are invisible to all except to those who are engaged in the ministration, so that all the blood of the sacrifices which is collected in great quantities is washed away in the twinkling of an eye.” (R.H. Charles-Editor, Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1913).
The Roman historian Tacitus also reported that there was a spring inside the Temple at Jerusalem.
It may be relevant to note that many Biblical passages equate the temple with Mount Zion. Also of interest is D&C 84:32
And the sons of Moses and of Aaron shall be filled with the glory of the Lord, upon Mount Zion in the Lord’s house, whose sons are ye; and also many whom I have called and sent forth to build up my church.
Because Jerusalem was destroyed and the Jews driven from the land, it is conceivable that the true location of the Temple could have been lost and the ruins of the Roman fort Antonia mistaken for the Temple ruins.
So where did the Temple really stand? I don’t know – but is it possible that the Jews and the Muslims are fighting over the wrong patch of land?