Orthodox Judaism and the Temple dilemma
Motti Inbari, Times of Israel, 5-1-2015
Over the past decade, there has been a steady increase in rabbinical rulings that permit the entry of Jews to the Temple Mount. The only limitation was to observe the restrictions regarding purity when doing so…
Since the destruction of the Second Temple, Jews have been considered impure due to contact with dead bodies, and therefore they are forbidden to enter the area where the Temple stood…
According to halakha (Jewish religious law), anyone who enters the Temple area will be punished by karet—a death sentence carried out by God. This decision has been reinforced in innumerable rulings.
Motti Inbari is an assistant professor of religion at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.
Josephus, Book XV, CHAPTER 11.
How Herod Rebuilt The Temple;
As Also Concerning That Tower Which He Called Antonia.
And now Herod, in the eighteenth year of his reign, and after the acts already mentioned, undertook a very great work, that is, to build of himself the temple of God…
Templeplateau 45 by 45 meters.
Temple 11 by 5.5 meters (height: 3.5)
Temple 11 by 5.5 meters (height: 3.5)
Herod took away the old foundations, and laid others, and erected the temple upon them, being in length a hundred cubits (45 meters), and in height twenty additional cubits, which [twenty], upon the sinking of their foundations 23 fell down; and this part it was that we resolved to raise again in the days of Nero.
Now the temple was built of stones that were white and strong, and each of their length was twenty-five cubits (11 meters), their height was eight (3.5 meters), and their breadth about twelve (5.5 meters); and the whole structure, as also the structure of the royal cloister, was on each side much lower, but the middle was much higher…
The hill was a rocky ascent, that declined by degrees towards the east parts of the city, till it came to an elevated level. He built a wall below, beginning at the bottom, which was encompassed by a deep valley.
In the western quarters of the enclosure of the temple there were four gates; the first led to the king’s palace, and went to a passage over the intermediate valley; two more led to the suburbs of the city; and the last led to the other city, where the road descended down into the valley by a great number of steps, and thence up again by the ascent for the city lay over against the temple in the manner of a theater, and was encompassed with a deep valley along the entire south quarter..
The Antonia Citadel
470 by 300 meters
Now on the north side [of the temple] was built a citadel, whose walls were square, and strong, and of extraordinary firmness.
This citadel was built by the kings of the Asamonean race, who were also high priests before Herod, and they called it the Tower, in which were reposited the vestments of the high priest, which the high priest only put on at the time when he was to offer sacrifice.
When Herod the king of the Jews had fortified it more firmly than before, in order to secure and guard the temple, he gratified Antonius, who was his friend, and the Roman ruler, and then gave it the name of the Tower of Antonia.
Josephus was there, 2000 years ago, unlike modern archaeologists. He saw the city with his own eyes. How is it then, that archaeologists say he is wrong and they are right? (Hazzan Isaac)
Wikipedia info: In around 19 BCE, Herod the Great extended the Mount’s natural plateau by enclosing the area with four massive retaining walls and filling the voids. This artificial expansion resulted in a large flat expanse which today forms the eastern section of the Old City of Jerusalem.
The trapezium shaped platform measures 488 m along the west, 470 m along the east, 315 m along the north and 280 m along the south, giving a total area of approximately 150,000 m2 (37 acres).
picture left: Antonia Ford, as the Jews see it, a small building for 6000 soldiers
picture right: a standard Roman armycamp
Now as to the tower of Antonia, it was situated at the corner of two cloisters of the court of the temple; of that on the west, and that on the north; it was erected upon a rock of fifty cubits in height, and was on a great precipice; it was the work of king Herod…
In the first place, the rock itself was covered over with smooth pieces of stone, from its foundation, both for ornament, and that any one who would either try to get up or to go down it might not be able to hold his feet upon it.
Next to this, and before you come to the edifice of the tower itself, there was a wall three cubits high; but within that wall all the space of the tower of Antonia itself was built upon, to the height of forty cubits.
There always lay in this tower
a Roman legion = 3600-6000 soldiers
But on the corner where it joined to the two cloisters of the temple, it had passages down to them both, through which the guard (for there always lay in this tower a Roman legion = 3600-6000 soldiers) went several ways among…
The hill on which the tower of Antonia stood was the highest…; it was the only place that hindered the sight of the temple on the north. (The Temple Revolution)
Description of the Jerusalem Temple
found in Letter of Aristeas
83 When we arrived in the land of the Jews we saw the city situated in the middle of the whole of Judea on the top of a mountain of considerable altitude. On the summit the temple had been built in all its splendor.
It was surrounded by three walls more than seventy cubits high and in length and breadth corresponding to the structure of the edifice.
All the buildings were characterized by a magnificence and costliness quite unprecedented. It was obvious that no expense had been spared on the door and the fastenings, which connected it with the door-posts, and the stability of the lintel…
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 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. ..
anyone who enters the Temple area will be punished by karet
a death sentence carried out by God…
The author also claims to have toured the citadel adjacent to the Temple; he describes seeing towers and catapults (100-104).
100 But in order that we might gain complete information, we ascended to the summit of the neighbouring citadel and looked around us. It is situated in a very lofty spot, and is fortified with many towers, which have been built up to the very top of immense stones…
On the towers of the citadel engines of war were placed and different kinds of machines, and the position was much higher than the circle of walls which I have mentioned…
The citadel was the special protection of the temple and its founder had fortified it so strongly that it might efficiently protect it.