As seen in the graphic, we can see several important geographical features, including the Mount of Olives, the traditional Temple Mount, the Kidron Valley, the Central Valley, the Gihon Spring, and the current site for the city of David. Below is additional information on each of these locations:
The Mount of Olives is a mountain ridge on the east side of the city of Jerusalem. At one point, it had olive trees covering its slopes. Today there is a Jewish cemetery with approximately 150,000 graves. This mountain ridge was a significant location during Yahshua’s ministry. It was the place where He delivered His Olivet Prophecy and where He retreated hours before His death, i.e., the Garden of Gethsemane.
The traditional Temple Mount is where many believe the Jewish temple once stood. Again, Muslims call this place the Haram esh-Sharif, translated as, “the Noble Sanctuary.” Both the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third holiest site, and the Dome of the Rock reside on the traditional Temple Mount.
The Kidron Valley separates Jerusalem, including the city of David and the traditional Temple Mount, from the Mount of Olives. This valley continues east through the Judean Desert and toward the Dead Sea.
The Central Valley, also called the Tyropoeon Valley and the Valley of the Cheesemakers, is a rugged ravine on the west side of the City of David or the ancient city of Jerusalem and marks its western boundary, as the Kidron Valley does on the east.
The Gihon Spring is along the Kidron Valley near the ancient City of David. The name “Gihon” comes from the Hebrew gihu, meaning, “gushing forth.” It is one of the world’s largest intermittent springs and made life possible for ancient Jerusalem. While the water from the spring was used for irrigation in the Kidron, it was also central to temple worship. We will explore the Gihon further in this article.
The City of David is the location for the ancient Jebusite City that David conquered and renamed to the City of David or Jerusalem. It is approximately 12 acres in size. It begins at the Millo (i.e., a ravine that separated the City of David from the Ophel, which Solomon filled in during his reign) and extends southward.
Today the City of David is an Israeli national park and a major archaeological site. Archaeologists have discovered many subterranean tunnels, reservoirs, and possibly an ancient room that was used for animal sacrifices. Also discovered underneath the City of David is Hezekiah’s tunnel and the Gihon Spring. On the southwest side of the city is the Pool of Siloam.
City of the David = Zion
We begin our investigation for the real temple mount by turning to the Bible. As with so many other truths, Yahweh’s Word holds the key in unlocking the truth as to where the original temple stood. Following is a compilation of Scripture confirming that the city of David and Mount Zion (i.e., the location of the temple) are synonymous:
“Nevertheless David took the strong hold of Zion: the same is the city of David,” 2 Samuel 5:7.
This passage clearly states that Zion and the city of David are the same. This point is critically important, as Scripture also shows that Mount Zion was the location of the temple.
“And the inhabitants of Jebus said to David, Thou shalt not come hither. Nevertheless David took the castle of Zion, which is the city of David,” 1Chronicles 11:5.
As noted in the previous passage, 1 Chronicles 11 confirms that Zion is also the city of David. The word “castle” here comes from the Hebrew matsuwd and refers to a place of defence. Because Jebus was located between the Kidron and Central valleys, it was a well defensible area.
“In Salem also is His tabernacle, and His dwelling place in Zion,” Psalm 76:2.
The word “Salem” derives from the Hebrew shalem. Strong’s states that this word is “an early name of Jerusalem.” This passage is critically important, as it shows a connection between the ancient city of David, the temple, and Zion and offers indisputable evidence for the temple being located within ancient Jerusalem and not on the Haram esh-Sharif.
Remember that the old City of David only included the 12-acre plot of land between the Kidron and Central valleys. It did not include the 36-acre Temple Mount located a third of a mile north. The current Temple Mount platform was developed much later.
Using only the Bible as a roadmap and knowing the location for the ancient city of David, a strong case can be made for the temple being located within the City of David and not on today’s Temple Mount. However, this is only the tip of the iceberg.
The Akra, Millo, and Ophel
When it comes to the location of the temple, there are three terms to understand – the Akra, Millo, and Ophel. The Akra was another name of the City of David. The Millo was a ravine that King Solomon filled in. And the Ophel is where the temple was originally located.
In 2 Samuel 5:9 we find a description of the boundaries of ancient Jerusalem during the reign of King David: “So David dwelt in the fort, and called it the city of David. And David built round about from Millo and inward.”
The word “fort” refers to the impregnability of the City of David. This was due to its location between the Kidron and Tyropoeon valleys. We see that David built his city from the Millo inward. Tis ravine separated ancient Jerusalem from the Ophel.
Scripture records that Solomon later filled in this ravine: “And this was the cause that he lifted up his hand against the king: Solomon built Millo, and repaired the breaches of the city of David his father,” 1Kings 11:27.
The word “repaired” here comes from the Hebrew cagar and is a primitive root meaning, “to shut up,” Strong’s. By filling in the Millo, Solomon shut up the ravine known as Millo. In doing so, he also connected the City of David with the Ophel.
This is why Psalms 122:3 describes Jerusalem as a city “compact together.” The word “compact” comes from the Hebrew chabar and according to Strong’s means to “join.” When Solomon filled in the Millo, he enlarged the City of David by joining it with the Ophel.
Now what connection do the Millo and Ophel have to the temple? According to 1 Maccabees 13:52 the Ophel is the location of the temple. The KJV with Apocrypha reads, “…Moreover the hill of the temple that was by the tower he made stronger than it was, and there he dwelt himself with his company.” As a secondary reference, the Catholic Study Bible states, “…He also strengthened the fortifications of the temple mount alongside the citadel, and he and his people dwelt there.”
Even though Maccabees is not considered inspired or part of the canon of Scripture, it still offers invaluable historical insight during the time of the Maccabees and Hasmoneans.
As seen in the above citation, the biblical temple mount or “temple hill” was located alongside the tower or citadel. As 2 Samuel 5:9 shows, the “fort” or “citadel” refers to the City of David: “So David dwelt in the fort, and called it the city of David….”
This provides conclusive evidence for the temple being located on the Ophel and alongside the City of David. This also places the biblical temple mount approximately a third of a mile south from the traditional Temple Mount.
I will do another post on the Old City of David as it is an important end times sign.